Interview with Betty Bascombe


Interview with Betty Bascombe


Betty grew up in Cardiff and worked in the Royal Ordinance factory. Her first husband, Ron joined the Royal Air Force as a flight engineer. She talks about receiving the telegram, stating that Ron was missing and later finding out that he had been killed and was buried in France. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and worked in Hamburg, where she met her second husband Bert. She talks in detail about how she found out details of her first husband’s death, forty-four years later and her journeys to his burial place in Lyon and the kindness of people who helped her.







01:20:11 audio recording

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CB: Right, my name is Chris Brockbank and er, I’m interviewing Betty Bascombe, at the home of Gaynor McKay, and we’re in Sedgebrook near Grantham, and we’re going to talk about er, two things really, one is where Betty is a widow of a flight engineer and then her time in the Army. So, and the date is the first of October and we’re going to be running for probably an hour and a half. Betty, would you like to start off please by explaining er, your early life, where you come from, the family and how you met erm, your late husband, first husband Ron, Ron Jones?
EB: Yes, well, I come from Cardiff, and I was born in Cardiff of Welsh parents and we lived in, well, first of all with my Grandmother, she had a fish and chip shop, and then we moved to a place called Ely which was quite countrified, and I had a sister and two brothers. We were all very, very happy family altogether and it wasn’t a very big place, Ely was just being built up at the time, and my two brothers died when they were very young, they had heart problems, so it was just my sister and I left. When I first left school, well, first of all the school I went to, we didn’t have one there, we had to go to, I had to go to another village, but eventually we got one in the village, but when I left school, I went to work erm, in confectionery, I wanted to learn the trade there, then afterwards when the war was on, decided I had better go and get a job elsewhere that was more suiting to help out with the country, so I got permission to go, from the confectionery, because that was also important, for people to have bread and hey what have you, and, I managed to get a job at Llantrisant, in, that was further up in Cardiff, outside Cardiff, the ROF factory, Royal Ordnance factory, they’d been bombed out in London and had moved to Llantrisant, and they were opening a new shop as they called it, [unclear] shop and from there we still had to go on special buses because it wasn’t on the door step, it was quite a little way to travel, and I worked there and on guns, on six pounder guns, six or seven pounders, whatever, I can’t remember, on beech blocks and that was very, very interesting work. You had to get them just complete, so that when they were fitted in the guns, there was no burr or anything on them that would cause a problem for them to put everything in for it to go perfect, you know, when they fired it. Anyway, after I was still working there when I met Ron. Now, I was friendly, my friend Winnie, she was courting somebody called Sid, and on a Saturday night she worked late and I would walk with her down to Sid’s parents’ house, so that they would then walk me all the way back to Ely, which was quite a few miles away, and that happened on, every Saturday night sort of thing and then a few Saturday nights when I had gone, Ron, who I hadn’t met earlier on, he was home on leave, I’d seen him around, but not you know, not bothered about him and er, he’d been home a few times on weekend leaves and this weekend, that we went, he was there sitting in his Dad’s armchair reading, and then he said, ‘Are you going out with anybody at the moment?’, and I said, ‘No, not now’, so I finished with that date [laughs] anyway, he said, ‘ well, I’ve got an invite to a party, so, I’ve got to take somebody, so how about coming with me?’, so I said, ‘oh, yes, ok’, and that was the start of us going out together. So, that was like the early forties, the beginning of the forties, so, and consequently, it went on from there and every time he came home we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves going out, but we were more for theatre and that sort of thing, we went to the pictures. He also liked walking, and he played rugby for Penarth when he was younger, so he used to slip down there and see them, while I, because you couldn’t stay off work then you see, you had to go to work, my shifts then, we used to do twelve hour shifts, fortnight days, fortnight nights, and used to just have just a Sunday off between, but you didn’t mind, you felt you were helping the boys and hopefully win the war, the war like, you know [pause] can we stop?
CB: yeh, ok, we can stop just for a moment
EB: Then, eventually, [background noise] we had to work to a very fine, er, to [unclear] an inch, to make sure the clearance was there, and eventually I was made a blue girl, and, that meant, when we first went in we wore green overalls, you see, when you became a blue girl, which you were in charge of just so many but you had a boss over you like a man did, but they were all older men that most likely had retired and come back to work, and we had one called Charlie over us, that was lovely, and erm, so, I worked with them, and it was only, while I was there, that Ron, I got the information about Ron, because when I was obviously starting working there I was seeing him and then I got married in the January while I was still there, and of course consequently in the April, it wasn’t very long at all, Ron went missing, erm
CB: Its taking you back a bit?
EB: Yes
CB: So, you [coughs] excuse me, you, you walked out with Ron, and you went walking [emphasis] and you went to the theatre, how did that progress, before, to getting engaged and married, how?
EB: Oh, that’s, we went out for quite a while, I can’t remember dates off hand
CB: Okay
EB: We went out together for quite a while, but we decided, that er, we wouldn’t get married until the war was over, which a lot of them done, we all said the same thing, save, and when the war was over we would be able to enjoy it, and then all of a sudden we got this big [unclear] a big air raid warden there then, that was terrible the air raid then, and all of the country was bad, and then we still thought er, no, we’ll be okay. And then, Ron he went on a trip to America, they used to go back and forth then, America wasn’t in the war, and I think they used to help out, with planes, but the men used to have to go to Canada to pick them up and fly them home from there. And, on one trip that they went, there were about five crews aboard this one, if I remember rightly, I think he said about forty odd, and they came down in the Atlantic. He only remembers coming too, he was told he was hitched on by his shoulder blade, on the edge of the plane and, they got him off of there, and next time he came to, he was in a dinghy, and he said there were men, you know, on the side of the boat, then when he come to again, he didn’t, he didn’t know what was going on. Somebody gave him a drink of something, and then the next time he remembered he was in hospital in Hollywood and they told them there that there had been a crash. But, I believe there was only so many, six I think he said, that had survived from all that had gone on. There was obviously an inquest into what happened, afterwards, but I couldn’t tell you what the results were, that was I don’t know
CB: Okay
EB: Erm
CB: So, he came back and saw you?
EB: Oh, gosh, yes, and we wouldn’t have known about it but it was his twenty-first birthday, so that was a big date, twenty-first birthday at the [unclear] at Christmas time and it was only that his young cousin went to jump on his back that he said, ‘don’t do that’, I said, ‘why what’s wrong?’, he said, ‘tell you after’, and then he told me, but he said, ‘don’t tell my Mum I’m flying, I don’t want my mother to know she will worry’. And, that was the first time I knew that he was actually flying around as well, I thought when he said he was going away up to Scotland, [unclear] I thought he was going up there to, you know, to do more training or something like that. Anyway, that’s how he came to tell me about it, and he had quite a scar under his shoulder blade from it. Then I think it, it was then, that I think that he came down to, after that, that he came down to, I knew it was around Lincoln, but I think that’s where he started coming down, to the last one that they went to [pause]
CB: Right, well, we will stop there again just for a minute
EB: Its, I get
CB: Restarting now, we’re talking about how you communicated with Ron
EB: Yes
CB: Because clearly, he was some way, away from you, and you were still in the ammunitions factory, so how did you do that?
EB: That’s right, well, we didn’t get much leave at all there, obviously because we were all so busy, and, but Ron when he could come home, it would be an odd weekend and a surprise time. You didn’t very often get the full eight or ten days then, but he was stationed down in, erm
CB: Cosford
EB: Cosford, yes, and erm, [pause] and erm, this is where he was going out then on all the different trips that I didn’t know fully about, but we wrote, each day wrote a bit, they wouldn’t be posted every day but we would get the letters sent through so that was lovely. And then, one day he said, he came home on leave, and he said, ‘I don’t think we’ll wait until the end of the war’, he said, ‘I think we should take our chances, let’s get married now’. So, that was in forty-three and we were waiting then to try and get a decent leave so we could arrange it, but also you had to think about trying to get your wedding dress in, get the clothes, get the food, because everything was rationed. You had good neighbours, everybody was trying to save up their fruit, for a decent fruit cake, instead of a little sponge and erm, things like that, everybody was saving their coupons so you could get the wedding clothes, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. His Mum and Dad had said we could go and live with them, because they had quite a big house there, and the people that had been in [unclear] were going, so the idea was that Ron and I would have the top of the house, and because they were older they were going to make theirs into the bottom half, as another flat, that was what we arranged. And then, all of a sudden, he said, I can get a few days off at the beginning of January, so it was arranged for, we’d get married in January on the twenty-sixth, that was nineteen, ninety-four, forty-four
CB: Good
EB: And that was we, we got married on the second, of a four day leave and then he went back on the four-day leave, at the end of the fourth day. And the next leave he got we could only keep writing to each other after that, and just wishing and praying that the war would soon be over, he could come home for good. Anyway, he next came home, and we had a fort, a weekend, and that was just a quickie weekend, and then the next time, he came home on an eight-day leave. That was lovely because we said we weren’t going to talk war, and we were talking and planning, all we wanted to do, what we would do, where we would go. He would have made the RAF his career, that was definite, he loved the career, he liked going in the air force, because it was his life, and how did I feel about it? I suppose that where ever he went I was willing to go, so that was quite happy about it, and erm, then he came home, he’d got this leave and he came home in the January, and we got married, on the twenty-sixth and then that was the second day of his leave, and then he went back, he had to go back on the fourth day, so he went back
CB: So, at this time, he was flying in bombers, in Lincolnshire, was he?
EB: Oh yes, he was flying, I knew he was flying
CB: At Skellingthorpe?
EB: I knew he was out a lot but he never talked about his work, he would never talk about where he was going or anything like that what so ever and he still kept the letters going, but sometimes it was a little bit, ‘sorry this isn’t very long tonight, it’s only a little bit, and but just to let you know I’m thinking about you and waiting for the day when I can come back to home again’, all that, it was lovely. He’d send his love, and also remembering his Mum, he was writing to his Mum and everybody but just didn’t have the chance to write to everybody at the time, they were very busy, and then of course he said he was trying to get home for my birthday, and my birthday was the thirtieth of April, so I thought well, this night his step brother was there and he was doing a bit of tormenting, you know, how’s the old married woman, going on, this sort of thing, when the door went and he went, and when he came back and he said I’ve got a telegram. I said, ‘that’s Ron coming home to deal with you, he said he’d get home for my birthday’, and he just shook his head because he knew, it was the cyclist that had bought it and the colour of the envelope. And he said, ‘no, I’m afraid not, he’s missing’. We were just absolutely stunned, his Mum and I had been stood up laughing and talking with him, and we just sat at the table. We said, he can’t be, he can’t be, and it was just absolute silence, but I think we were all just so stunned about it, and Sid just passed over the, what’s the name, Tom I should say. Tom just passed it over and his Mum was looking at it, and well, it was just another night I can’t tell you much about it, you just felt you were in another world, you couldn’t believe it. And then, of course, you got to pick up the traces, haven’t you and carry on. I didn’t go back to work, I just felt I couldn’t cope with work, stayed put and erm, and tried to deal with finding out what I could because it just said he was missing, Ron was missing, and that’s how it was like that, for quite a long time. I kept going down to the Red Cross and er, down at the bottom of Lewis Road in Cardiff and trying to find out from them everything, but actually it was the Geneva Red Cross that I got the information from, eventually, of where Ron was. But it was a temporary grave that he was, that they had put him in, but that then was, I think that was er, oh gosh, I’m trying to think how long ago it was afterwards
CB: It was still during the war?
EB: Oh gosh, yes, yes it was still the war going on
CB: But there were plenty of people around who were trying to help?
EB: Oh, gosh, everybody was trying to help and I mean, you know, friends were doing all they could, they were trying to find out, they were trying to help you. And then, of course, this was forty-four, April forty-four, and of course you got [unclear] with all the big, well that was another big air raid and everything wasn’t it, it was terrible that year. And when they had the one with all them going over, and it was one night and, well the planes they were just like big black birds in the sky, all night long it went, and I’ve forgot how many there is now, that went all together but windows were rattling and as you sat on the window sill, this was going on and it had started early evening and it went on all night. And, then when I went out, I had gone back into work then because when I went back to work the next morning erm, the planes were still going over, and then we found out that there had been big raids and that
CB: This is the fifth and sixth of June nineteen forty-four
EB: Yes, it was, and this was, I can’t think at the moment the dates
CB: So, what was your employer’s reaction, they were happy to give you time off for bereavement or, what did they do?
EB: Well actually, well, the doctor just put me on sick
CB: Right
EB: I had to be because I was, I just couldn’t cope with anything, and there’s no way I could have gone, filing the measuring gauges or going near machines or anything like that, so, consequently, I didn’t go back to work at all. They told me then of course, the end of the war came, and erm, they wrote and said that a lot of servicemen were coming back, but they would still give me, offer me a job, but I would be going on, most likely one of the machines, like drilling machines and erm, I wrote back and said no. I don’t think I could have worked watching other men, working there, thinking my Ron has never come back. You know, it wasn’t, I was so glad for all of them and the that night we had when they announced that it was peace and war was over, I was at my Mother’s house, the other side of Cardiff, and when I came to go back home that night, I thought I’d get back to be with his Mum and Dad, they’ll be on their own and I went to go back, no buses were running, everybody was happy, going mad, and I walked through Cardiff town, oh, and that was alive, all round the City Hall, everything, and as I went back, back home, I passed the corner of where the, there’s a little hospital on the corner of one of the roads, this end of Richmond Road, and erm, it was a little Welsh one, and there were wounded soldiers in there, and one large, at one of the bathroom windows, he said, ‘what is it like up town?’ and he hadn’t let his parents know he was back home, he said, ‘I haven’t told them yet I’m back home’, because he’d lost a limb and he didn’t want his girlfriend to know. And I said, ‘look, you just let them know because if you’ve got no arms and no legs don’t worry about it’, I said, ‘they’ll just be glad to have you home’, I said. I wish I could. Well, I got home with his Mum and Dad, and we just sat there talking about Ron and drinking a cup of tea round the table, and saying if only, and I still believed that he could still be alive, I could not believe that he wasn’t going to come home. I was convinced he was in hiding and I would find him, and that is what I’d done when I was in the ATS, in the ATS, I’d gone out to Germany, and I was convinced that I would [emphasis] find him and my Army officer was also trying to work a leave that would suit him with friends.
CB: If I just take, if I just take you back a bit, what was the erm, role of the Swiss Red Cross, to what extent were they able to give you details about Ron?
EB: Well, they sent it down through to the one, all they said was that, er, [pause] Oh how was it worded? I’m trying to think how it was worded. It just said that, erm, it was sorry that the plane had come down, and erm, and that one of the people had got back
CB: So, one person had survived, but only one?
EB: One person, yes, but that was all and they were sorry to say, you know, that Ron wasn’t alive
CB: Yes
EB: So, that was, that was, I can’t remember the exact words of the telegram, it just er, you know, to let us know, confirm, that definitely that was him, and it was somewhere in France in a temporary grave, and they gave the name of the grave, that Ron’s Mother had, there all those at her house and somehow some of those got lost there, because it was put in a, there was a little secret drawer in this set of drawers that they’d given us, it was like, do you remember the old fashioned bookcases and writing set? And it would open and there was always a little drawer, well I put stuff in there, well they let somebody else have it afterwards and ‘cos I said no, I won’t take it you’ve got other sons as well, somebody else had, had it in the family, but what had happened to the things in the drawer, they’ve all just been got rid of, nobody knew where they were, and the ones that I had, copies and, the one, the main one of all I had with me, and I’d left that with somebody, with a lot of things in a bag, nice big, you know, safe bag with other things to do with my family and all that was lost. So, when the bombing was on, somehow or another it had just gone missing out of the house. Somebody had taken it to put it in a safe place, but we never found out where, but whether Mum had passed it on to one of her brothers or something, it had sellers, I don’t know, a lot of the family big photographs, that had belonged to her Father. He was in the navy and so we had all, well everybody on the wall, you know, Battle of Waterloo, everything was all around the wall [laughs] and all those, they were given to somebody to put in store, we never found out where they were, never found out ever, so whether they had them at their house and it might have been bombed or anything, we don’t know
CB: Where, where was the bombing in Cardiff?
EB: Pardon?
CB: What areas of Cardiff were bombed?
EB: Oh, there was some parts, Llandaff Cathedral that was hit, that was a mile from us and it was beautiful there, but it was damaged pretty badly and they have rebuilt it but they’ve not done the spire, same as what it used to be. What was beautiful, was all the glass windows were broken, all the way around, it was all into the paths and the surround, and when the moon shone it was really pretty to see it all, but as far as the poor cathedral went, that really was a state, but that’s afterwards, everybody went through Llandaff Cathedral because, you had lovely walks all the way around there, so you walked up through the fields and right, it was a proper lover’s walk, everybody went up through Llandaff fields and walked on up into the old Llandaff, you know, and came back around the other way. So, it was very nice to go up there and walk around, with the river and everything running, it was lovely. You could sort of, you could forget the war for half an hour because of the situation and that, that you were in
CB: And you were outside the town?
EB: Oh, yes, this is it
CB: Did they, did they, erm, munitions work, works at Llantrisant, did that get bombed?
EB: A part did, yes, and I was lucky, funny enough that night, that had happened before because I was, this time was cycling on our bikes to work, me and a friend, and just as we got to the end of the road, I heard somebody shout my name, and it was Ron come home. I was going on night shift, Ron had come home on an unexpected weekend and so I said to Joyce, tell them that I’ll try and come in at eleven o’clock, but if I can’t, will you just tell them what’s happened, Ron’s come home, but of course you couldn’t have time off, so I knew I’d get away with a one night but I’d have to go in the next night. And, he came home and it was only for two days and was all he managed to get away, and that night, well, I would have been on shift there, one of it, it was one of our own guns actually, they were firing at them going over, when a shell, came back and went through our own roof and there was six of the people killed, and all of the vices, I used to have six girls along there, because I wasn’t there, they had to go over, like a group and of course he was managing both of them, Charlie, so he moved them over there, but all along there was shrapnel and everything else, so was er, when you think about it, him coming home on leave, he really saved all of us that were along there
CB: Saved your life
EB: Yes, yes, there were one or two that were, well, there, I think there was six killed altogether that night, and one was sad because the father had come over from A shop to see if his daughter was alright in B shop and while he was talking to her, him and the daughter were both killed, but she was on the barrels of the guns, yes, and they were six killed, there was six there altogether killed, so that was, when you think about it, him coming home had saved all that lot there, we would have all got it
CB: Amazing
EB: Yes
CB: Where else, where else in Cardiff was there bombing?
EB: Oh, there was at Canton and all around where we were, into Roath, and as we say into Llandaff, all the way round, there were odd roads and one on the way down to Grangetown and that was very bad, we used to cycle down towards [unclear] which was the cake place where I worked, and there they had one, and it sort of wiped the street out there, and I can remember going down and saying to one of the men that was working there, the ARP men, and I said can we help, and he said no go to work and get the bread on, we all need bread [unclear] but you could see where people were trying to get out of shelters and they were getting them out, I’ve never forgot that. I could see one lady’s hand and she had rings on her hand, I’ve never forgot that, I always picture that one hand, gripping on over the top, so she was trying to get out and people were trying to clear all from around her
CB: What about the docks, were they bombed as well?
EB: Cardiff docks got quite a few lots around, as Ron explained to me because there was so many bombs that had gone around the outside, and he said that Cardiff was like a basin because its surrounded with mountains and that, and here at the counties, and he said, what happens when a bomb is dropped, it drops down but gets lifted again as its going and consequently, because of the way we work, the draw would be, a lot of them went into the country and that around, you know, well, a lot of people’s houses and that, but not a lot of the very big important businesses, railways and things like that we had trouble on, villages outside, but we didn’t suffer half as bad as across the water, Swansea and all that way. Of course, at Port Talbot we had the oil works as well, they, they kept them blazing for about a fortnight, every night, and we were the other side of the channel and yet we could see the whole of the thing. Well, that gave them lights to keep trying to bomb the docks with the ships in, you see, and a lot of ships did get affected, but more outside with all the food things and that one
CB: Erm, how much did you know about what Ron did in the aeroplane?
EB: Not really very much except because we were told we couldn’t talk about our jobs, we were told, obviously because it was a government job, and he didn’t talk much about his. He used to say, you know, mainly, well, we are just glad to be home, we don’t want to talk about what’s gone on, just wait and see when it’s over, but he never, ever, discussed what his, I knew that he was an engineer because we laughed about it. Our wedding lines we were both down as fitters, on the wedding lines, [laughs] on the marriage lines, so I said we would be able to open up a trade afterwards [laughs] so I knew he was a flight engineer, we’d be able to take up cars together, because he used to work in a garage before he joined up, when at first, he joined, so, he just decided he’d go in there. So, it would have been something to look forward to, to see who could do the best bit of filing, wouldn’t it, you know
CB: So, he joined up, first of June nineteen forty, was it?
EB: First of June first of June nineteen thirty-nine
CB: Right
EB: Joined up, joined up before the war
CB: Yeh, okay, right, so, how well did you know any of the crew of his aircraft?
EB: I didn’t, I didn’t know any of the crew whatsoever, I never met any of them and never talked about them either. He used to say when he came home, let’s just talk about the life we want together afterwards, I want to forget a little bit of what I’ve seen
CB: Yeh, okay
EB: The only thing he used to say was, one thing he always said about coming home and this is what I like about the monumental building, I think a lot of the soldiers or sailors, oh, airmen, they would say the same thing, but he used to say, when he went out on the trip, you’d be up high and the clouds would be white, when you got up there those times, which wasn’t often, he said, you’d see the white clouds and you’d think how peaceful it was and how lovely it would be to get out when you think about what was going on down below. But, he said, when you were coming back home, you’d be looking for a break in the clouds with a bit of green grass and the minute you saw the green grass, you’d see the river and the channel and then you would see the white cliffs, if it was light enough, but if not, he said, it was the green grass that was important to you, and you knew when you’d seen the grass you were home. And he said, then [emphasis] you would look for the cathedral because if it was a dull night or something, you knew from there what position, there were so many airfields around, you knew where you were going from there. So, I did have a painting done and this lady in France got it, and it was painted by someone whose father, he wasn’t an artist, his father was also in the air force, and erm, he painted it and he called it, ‘coming home’, but he asked me all what Ron thought and he painted it exactly like that, and he put the number of the plane, so the plane was facing coming in and it was done with the clouds and a little bit of green grass and that, it was lovely, but that lady’s got that now, you know
CB: Lovely
EB: It was lovely
CB: Now, you weren’t, neither of you was allowed to talk about your job
EB: No
CB: But, did, never the less did the conversation turn to what it was like for the people at the other end experiencing the bombing?
EB: Well, the only thing that he ever said was, that you thought about the people that you were going out to do a job and you could not think too far, you knew you had to do it because of him, Hitler, but you often wondered, yes, they’re over here and they’re killing ours, but he said, you always had to keep your mind above the fact, I hope I don’t kill innocent people, but he said, you knew you couldn’t say where it was going, he said, all he knew was he had to do it because Hitler had to be stopped, and that was, he’d never talk about the people with him, they only time he would say, ‘I wonder if so and so got home from leave on time, because I think there was one, who must have come from further away, he would miss his train or something, but he never talked, I hope he got home, and I can’t think what his name was now, I think it was Robert or Bob or Robert, but something like that, but I don’t know, I think he was from London way and he was always worried about his folk, because of being so much nearer to the big ones. But when we used to hear it like in Swansea, Liverpool, they had it so bad that you felt you were thankful that you were not getting it as bad as it was, we were not as bad as other people, you know, you had to be thankful that way
CB: Your talking about the bombing raids by the Germans?
EB: Yes, yes, that right, so we were thankful that way, but apart from that, you know, you couldn’t do anything other than carry on everyday doing the job that you were doing and trying to keep safe. Clothes were another problem because everything was on coupons, food was another one, but we were lucky, Dad kept chickens, we grew a lot of veg, we had quite a big garden, so we were, and then he got an allotment as well at Llandaff fields. So, he would grow the food, but my mother was one, she’d go up with a basket and we would get things, and by the time she got home there wasn’t enough left for us and we’d have to go back. She’s given it away to everybody [laughs] who didn’t have any on the way [laughs] Dad used to say I’m not going to tell her when I get the next allotment because every time I go up there, there’s never anything left, your Mother’s been up and picked it all [laughs]but, erm, it was lovely
CB: So, what was the effects on your parents and Ron’s parents of the war?
EB: Oh, well, it was devastating, because obviously Ron was there, that was his Dad, Tom Jones, his Dad, Emma Jones was his Mother, and his Mother had been married before and had family, but there was only a daughter that had been born besides, but she had died when she was about twenty-one, she’d been ill from a child I believe, so she had died from when she was, you know, about twenty-one and there was only Ron, so obviously, he was the light of their eyes. The others were a lot older and they had families that were married. But, erm, well you couldn’t say, we were just all tried to live every day, but we really just existed. We just kept wishing and hoping and thinking, they’re wrong, they’re wrong, I know you’re wrong and that’s it, and you tried to get by with this. What I did then, Ron’s, ‘cos, when I went into the ATS, I was stationed at Ilfracombe first of all, and from Ilfracombe I got moved over to North Mimms, but while I was there, Ron’s step brother had, he had been demobbed, but he was working in Exeter, so of course when I was going to Ilfracombe, I would see him, I had to change trains there, and at the time, his wife was living with her sister and they’d just had their first baby, Janice, who I keep in touch with now, in fact she went to Cardiff castle because they’d given Ron a patch in Cardiff castle and that was lovely. I couldn’t go, so Janice went down for me, I have got photographs of that as well. And, erm, so consequently, I said well, if they wanted I would move out and go home to my parents, and perhaps, you know, leave Sid and Win go there, so that’s what we done. And, then, eventually Ron’s dad died, well I was out in Germany, so I lost, I wasn’t visiting or anything then, I obviously couldn’t, I kept in touch though. Then, Sid and Win managed to get a house elsewhere and took Ron’s mum with them
CB: Right
EB: But they funnily enough went out to live in Llantrisant
CB: Oh, right
EB: Because the war then of course
CB: Was over
EB: Come down towards the end as well, so she went out to live with them there, but when I used to go home I used to go down and visit her, you know
CB: Can I just go back please to when Ron was posted missing?
EB: Yes
CB: Because, casualties were effecting all manner of society
EB: That’s right
CB: So, I just wondered, after you got the telegram, I wonder if you could just talk us through, what happened after that, how you felt about it and whether you linked with other people who had a loss?
EB: Well, I think you become so numb, you are in a world of your own, and, all we did, could do is just sit there and saying it can’t have happened. I’d be sat this side of the table; his Mum would be sat there and his Dad would be sat by the fire and sat in the armchair. He used to smoke a pipe and he would just sit there and he would say, ‘that lad’ll do it, I know my lad’ll do it, he’ll get home’, and we were convinced he would, there would be a way that he would get home, because he promised he’d come home, and I think that’s what kept us going. But it altered our lives completely, there was no funny laughter, nothing like that, you know joking, you sort of just existed every day, you couldn’t do anything else about it and that’s just how you went on every day. His Dad went to work and he used to work down, where sailors would come in, ‘cos they’d been, where their ship had been hit and would want all re-kitting out and that’s where he worked down, down Cardiff docks where all that where the sailors got kitted out. So, we used to hear more news about what had happened through his Dad than anything else because newspapers and that, they were regular, you’d get so much news, not that much, but as far as us our lives as went, we just existed, that’s all I can say. It was sort of, well its shopping day today, or it was something else day today, but there was no laughter or anything. You just felt you couldn’t pick up the pieces and go on, you just sort of lived day for day and hope for the best
CB: Was, was there a, in a way an acceptance of his death, or was there always the hope, expectation that he’d come back?
EB: There was always the hope, you always hoped, we always hoped until we got that news from Geneva saying that the plane had come down, but they said it was down in the south of France and they were in a temporary grave but they could not tell us any more than that
CB: And, did they name the survivor, did they give you the name of the survivor?
EB: No, they didn’t give us the name
CB: So, you never knew?
EB: yes, we found out eventually
CB: Oh, you did?
EB: But not until, when did we first find out about that now? No, it was a French man, when I found out and where they, where the graves were, went over to er, I’m trying to think how I first got a, [unclear] my minds gone now
CB: We’ll have a break now shall we just for a moment?
EB: Yes, that would be good
CB: Thank you very much, because what I’d like to do is go ahead to where you joined the army
EB: Yes, yes
CB: But, let’s just have a breather
EB: Yes, that’s fair enough, yes
CB: Thank you [inaudible]
[recording paused]
CB: So, we’re restarting now and the question really is, er, we’re going fast forward many years
EB: Yes
CB: Before you actually knew anything about Ron’s fate
EB: That’s right
CB: So, he died in April forty four
EB: Hmm
CB: How many years ahead before you knew, and how did you find out?
EB: Not until nineteen eighty-eight
CB: Forty-four years later?
[clock chiming]
EB: Yes, forty-four years later that erm, in the, I had remarried in forty eight and had gone to live then in Cheshire and my sister was coming up, I had, I’d had four children, unfortunately I lost my one son, he was in a [unclear] car, got killed, and my sister came up one holiday and she said, this is in now eighty eight, and she said I’ve bought a paper up Bet, Ray said, Ray was her husband, Ray said I shouldn’t do it. Well, my second husband had also died, he died in nineteen eighty four, and so she said, I said, yes you’d like to know, and I’m convinced it is Ron, and she’d found in the paper, of the Cardiff post, and it was erm, saying that they were looking for the crew, looking for relatives of the crew and they put the names down and she knew, ‘cos loads of Joneses, that his number started six one six, he was six one six two one two, and or, six four six, I should say, and she remembered the first bit, so she said, I am going to tell Bet, and Ray said not to bother, because he thought at first it was opening up old wounds. But she said, I want to know if I was you, so she bought it. And, it was asking, a gentleman Mr Gardiner, and his brother, was also a member of the crew, and he had, the year before, found out where it was and gone over, and he’d met a lady, who I believe she was really an Irish girl, but I don’t know whether she was with the RAF or what, but she was over in France and she’d married a French man, eventually, but her name was Madame [unclear] and she had asked him to try and find this crew, because she knew all about it and where the graves were and everything, and she was doing it with quite a few of the crews. Anyway, I got in touch with him, he put this piece in, please get in touch with me if you know anybody at all, so, I got in touch with him and arranged with him, he got in touch with me and Madame [unclear] and we made arrangements for the following year, we would go over, and he was trying to find the other crews. Well, of course, I found where a lot of them lived, so I told him, and he said, actually, through one of the papers he found a few as well, but erm, eventually, in the following year there was about four of us from different families but we hadn’t all met, but different ones had come, so some were too old they couldn’t, their parents were too old, so they didn’t come, but we went over and met Madame [unclear] and it was through her that we found out that they had been in this temporary grave, and they had been moved to the big, when they moved it with the French military, that they were buried near, they moved them to a big cemetery at [unclear] and erm, they moved thirty, there were thirty airmen altogether, are buried there and it is really a beautiful spot, they really look after them well. We have a spot with these thirty, there’s another lot, there’s Jews in, there’s another lot, there’s others in, and there’s quite a lot of history in the whole of the cemetery. But this lady arranged it, booked up our hotel for us, we paid obviously, couldn’t expect her, but she booked up for all of us, actually, I’ve got a photograph of her where we got up out of the taxi’s and she was waiting there with other people, and there was a gentleman from Birmingham, Mr Reid, and because I used to go on my own then, there was nobody else then, the first year I took my granddaughter with me, young Debbie and she was about sixteen I think, sixteen, seventeen, she came the first year with me. And, erm, after that, I always, I never was one for going anywhere on my tod, so I used to go but I used to meet Mr Reid, either in London or [unclear] husband used to take me down, Sandra’s husband would take me when I was up their way, and I’d get to London or I’d get down to going on the boat over, I’d go different ways, and Mr Reid would meet me either London, or he would meet me when I got off the boat and take me down to Lyon where everybody met them. And, consequently, I met this lovely lady and she was working her socks off, if I can put it that way, to get every crew that they could together, and so, we all went for this meal, oh, it was a lovely restaurant, it was at the top of a mountain somewhere, and erm, from there on I kept in touch with her and went every year. Some of the families managed to come for the odd years, and Gwen did, Olsen’s wife, she came regularly until she couldn’t cope, she was older than me, I think she was six or seven years older than me, and she couldn’t travel after a while. Her son came once or twice, but then he had a heart attack on the plane going home one time, so, he didn’t come anymore. So, I don’t know what’s happened down the line there at all
CB: So, just going back to nineteen ninety-eight, eighty-eight when this process started, how did you feel about what had happened then, ‘cos you waited forty-four years, so, how did you feel then?
EB: Well, it was the sensation of thinking I was going to have some contact and I would hear more about what had happened and that was wonderful. And, of course, as I say, they arranged for us to go to the cemetery as well, so we went up to the cemetery and that was very, very moving, and we managed to get some flowers, we didn’t have any crosses or anything then, erm, so we got some flowers [unclear] six of the crew are buried, and there’s just one in front and then there’s four and then there’s one behind, they are buried that way, the six of them. And, we go regularly every year, but when we first went it was very, very emotional, well both my granddaughters were, but the headstones and that was all kept beautiful, but just to read that
CB: Did you feel some, have some feeling of closure?
[interview paused]
CB: So, we are restarting now talking about people who have been so kind
EB: Yes
CB: In terms of the links abroad, and you’ve talked about the RAFA in both the Swiss part and Lyon
EB: Yes, yes, Mr Reid, he used to come from, he lived outside Birmingham and he used to come every year as well and he always
CB: This is visiting in France?
EB: Make sure I was back on the train or whatever, or whichever
CB: Yes
EB: Way I travelled, whether it was by bus or what it was, or if it was on the boat, but also the people there, and then, there was another couple, Mr and Mrs [unclear] and Peter Cobb they have a chateau there, and in the end, they said, don’t book up in a hotel come and stay with us
CB: Right
EB: And go and stay, they would meet me in the airport, take me back, and I still keep in touch with her
CB: Right, yes
EB: I still keep in touch with her and she’s, she’s living now in Gloucester way, because her daughter brought her back to England, but Mr Jean [unclear] he found out all about the one that got out
CB: Yes, yes, oh he did?
EB: Yes, got all his letters
CB: And his name and everything?
EB: Yes, he found out
CB: But, you’ve never met him?
EB: A letter that he sent him, he sent me part of that, so I’ve heard what his idea was, and the way he spoke, he said in the letter that Jean [unclear] sent me a copy of, but he had said about the plane, he said they had a few complications when they left, but he didn’t mean that they hit the ground they could work it out, and they worked it out between the pilots, the erm, engineer and somebody else on the plane, don’t know who else it was. But, three of them had decided yes, they could work the system out whatever it was on
CB: Wireless operator
EB: The plane that wasn’t working properly, and so, he said all about the raid, what had happened, he said that all of a sudden, they had been hit, and it was on fire, and he saw all the curtain where Ron, the pilot, and is it the bomb aimer? Or somebody else?
CB: The curtain, the navigator would have been behind the curtain
EB: Yes, the navigator, sitting in the front, he saw the curtain was on fire between them, and he reached, he can remember reaching down for his parachute, he said, they all wore their straps automatically, he can remember doing up one strap, he don’t remember doing up the other, but he remembered, he knew he’d been hit in his arm, and he thought his arm was off in his sleeve, erm, the next thing he thought he must be out in fresh air, the air was different, he doesn’t know how he’s got out of the plane, but he eventually landed and he knew he’d landed when he felt this thump, he got, he managed to get his shoe bits off, you know they take the tops of their long boots off, but he couldn’t bury it, he tried to bury his parachute the best he could. And then, somebody came along, a man came along on a bike and he said he spoke to him in the best French he could, erm, he needed help and he was an Englishman so, prefer to have a doctor that would help him, and the man just said, ‘oui, oui’, and drove off, and he walked down further and he could see a cottage lit up and he went to that cottage. And, the lady there was Mrs [unclear], I think her name was, and it, the whole story is down in there, you can always have that, but I’m cutting bits down, but they got a doctor to him, and erm, he said, you will have to go to hospital, but what the story was further down, while he was in there, a nurse was going to try and get him out afterwards. But, apparently, while he was having the operation he spoke English and he had a German [laughs] specialist, what’s the name, doing him, so he was made prisoner of war, and he was moved from one hospital then, to another one and further up to Paris, and from there he was supposed to be getting moved to be a prisoner, but while they were there, information had come in that the Americans and the British were getting near, and so the Germans just took off and left them in there, and it was on the, I say, you know the ones that are local helping
CB: The Maquis
EB: Yeh, they all came in and they looked after them and moved them to somewhere else for safety until the Americans had come, and that was how er, John, er [pause]
CB: You’ve forgotten his name, it doesn’t matter we’ll look it up
EB: The other one, the one that got out the plane, he escaped, that’s how he got out, so that was his story of what had happened with the plane. He said he thought, he’d heard a thud and thought a big bang, but erm, the farmer was telling us that all the fishpond was all alight because the petrol had gone everywhere, but the gun, that had gone through the roof of another couple, her parents, and you can see, it’s only a little place down there, there’s just two little farm things there, another one that was the granny’s, they used that, but that was all that’s down there, and he said the machine gun went through the kitchen roof and it was still going. Well, he went out to the [unclear] [laughs] speak English, he went out to the barn and he came in and he got this sash of bullets around him, and we said to him, they are live, take it off, and he goes ‘oui’, and the man that was with us said, ‘they really will, it’s not safe, they are live, not dead, go boom, go boom’, and he was still walking around with this on, anyway, he took it off [laughs] after and hung it up afterwards, but he’d kept it all those years
CB: Amazing
EB: The farm, where it had come down, of Maurice and his sister Odile, she was only four at the time, he was fifteen and actually found out years later that when the pilot, as the plane came down, apparently, two of them did manage to get out, but the big bomb was still on board because they were on their way to Munich, that is another story, and there were thirteen planes on their way to Munich, but only twelve got there, so the other one was the one that Ron was in, and he said that [pause] er, the one that Ron was in, he said that, the farmer said that when the plane came down, er, these people had got out when the big bomb that was on it, it was very, very big, it exploded, and he said, they weren’t hit by that, they were forced into the ground. The front part of the plane went in a field way up that way and the rear one went that way, and they were all still sitting in their seats, although obviously injured and they were, they were, he said, already dead, so he said, they weren’t suffering that way
CB: No
EB: He could tell us that much about it, and then they tried to get, they got them out, tried to get them out, the Germans didn’t want to leave them, touch them in anyway, they told them to leave them, not to bother with them. But, found out years later that Maurice, his parents were hiding in him in a barn because the Germans were taking all the young ones away to Germany to do slave labour for them, so his parents used to hide him by day in the barn, and at night they’d take him in, give him a good meal, wash and clean clothes again. And, this night, he said, that he was out, he thought his Dad was going with, going around with a horse, and around like the farm, and he’d gone over to help with his Dad as well, but he said, that the pilot, he had his head in his arms when he died, he’d gone to try and help him. Now, he never told anybody that, it was only a few years before he died, that he mentioned it. So, we’re hearing stories all the time still of what went on, but another lady approached me, I think she said her name was Sylvie and her daughter was getting married the next day, it happened on a Friday, and her daughter was getting married the next day, and she said they had been to the woods to pick flowers, and they got a lot of white flowers, but they had taken the men and put them in the village hall and they had put the flowers all around the men, and the Germans came the next day and took them, that was the story this lady said. I believe, I’ve got two books, one that John [unclear] wrote all in French, one that Sylvie has wrote, it’s in French and English, but her accounts are slightly different to John [unclear] and its different to what, she thought the plane had got, went to bomb Paris, why she thought that I don’t know?, in her book, but I think she’s got confused with the fact they might have got hit going over Paris, you know, that why she has heard other stories from other people, but all the time you keep meeting people. This year fifty-three came over from France down to our place there and erm, some of them have never been to England before and they were still telling you bits of stories that they could remember or what their parents had told them, it’s fantastic isn’t it? But, they really do think the world and they look after the graves, they’re beautiful and our men are real heroes, and as they said, but for them, the Germans would have been with us and we will always respect and care for all your airmen that are here, the soldiers, everybody, that but for them we would not be freed. And, it is lovely to be there amongst them, they make, you’d think that when you go they are so excited, and I only wish there were more people here that could go or make the effort to go, I’ve spoken to some people and they go, well no, I’ve been and visited once and I can’t see any sense in going again, but to me that’s wrong, erm, I mean, if you can go, you go because its contact isn’t it, and I said, well I was just so sad I couldn’t go last year, it was seventy five years, but I’m determined next year, I hope my daughters listening there, I am going to get there next year, by hook or crook even if I am in my wheelchair [laughs]
CB: I’m going to stop you there just for a moment
[unknown inaudible]
CB: So, Betty we had the situation where after the war people were coming back, and erm, how did you feel about that and how did you then come to join the army?
EB: Well
CB: And what did you do?
EB: When people were coming back I was so glad for them because they were going to make a new life, it was going to be a hard life because there was still rations and everything, children didn’t know their Dads, they were terrified of them, I had one friend who had a little boy obviously he had been born after his Dad, his Dad had been sent abroad, he’d never seen him, and she naturally had the baby in bed with her at night and the little girl, but the little girl she was alright and she got older and went into her bed, but the little boy was screaming, he didn’t want to know that man, he wasn’t his daddy, his daddy was a picture and that was all he knew, his daddy was a picture, and the man that came home at the end of the war was nothing like it, and so they did have terrible trouble and there was a lot of children like that but they had been used to having no Dad the year round and they couldn’t get used to the fact that somebody else was in my Mummy’s bed, and that was one of the main things that went on. And then, I just couldn’t settle, I was watching all these people coming in, and I thought, I just can’t stay here and watch anymore, I’ve just got to do something, I’ve got to move and I want to find out where Ron is. I was convinced I would find, still find somebody, that he’d lost his senses, his brain wasn’t working properly, that anything could have happened, he could have had a blow, I was sure I’d see him one day, every time I’d seem somebody in uniform walking around, I would, it was ridiculous really because you knew it couldn’t be, but you still tried to find them. But, erm, then I went into town one day to see a friend that had come to visit me, get her bus back home which I did to anybody that came, so we went into Cardiff town, and as we erm, her bus was late coming, so consequently, I lost my bus to take me back to Roath where I was then living, the other side of Cardiff, because her bus being late, mine had come on time and I’d missed it. While I was stood there I just wondered what I was going to do with my life, I had to do something but I did not want to make, could not make my mind up about what I did want, and as I turned round, I was stood by a shop that was advertising,’ your country needs you, we need you’, and it was obviously a statue of a soldier in the window with just a big notice saying you know, ‘Join the Army’, so I went in and joined the ATS, and that was the start of a new life for me. I then went and after having medicals and that at Cardiff Barracks, I was then posted down to, I’ve forgotten, down to Ilfracombe and I was down there for quite a while and eventually went up to North Mimms. I was with the Royal Armoury Pay Corps, or as we called ourselves, ‘the rubber and pencil company’, and er, went up to North Mimms, while I was waiting to be posted, I’d been told I was going to Germany, and I thought of all the places to go, all I wanted to do was to get to France, for at least I might be a bit nearer to Ron and so that’s what I did, went off to join the army and I went with the, erm, in the forces there, in the offices, well, it was all, it was an old German hospital that had been bombed and they’d taken that over
CB: Whereabouts was that?
EB: That was just outside of Hamburg. Hamburg was our main depot and we were in a village way outside [pause]
CB: And, what were you doing there?
EB: There, I was on clerical, I had been with the office, it was all to do with people’s money, Pay Corp, er, at one time I was dealing with people at the stations in another country so I was changing different money sometimes, forget what they were now
[Unknown inaudible]
CB: Okay
EB: You had to change the money over from one thing to another, so, it was one and six, I remember, it was worth one and six against the pound, Rupees and Annas, that was it, Rupees and Annas and we used to have to change their money for the troops that were in this other country. And then, I got moved up to another department that was to do with officers postings, this and that sort of thing, and I stayed there for, I came out the Army in, I think it was erm, forty-seven, forty-seven and my father was very ill at home, and they sent for me in the middle of the night to go back home, so consequently that’s what I did, I had nearly two years out there and consequently, I came back home and Dad was very ill, and because of Mum’s situation, she used to have a lot of strokes, erm, the air force, the army let me off. I didn’t go back because they said I could stay in the country, I would have had to travel back which used to take three days then because you went down from London and you had to go over to Belgium or Holland, one of those, on a boat, and then you went down further and then travelled right the way up through to Hamburg and from Hamburg there, it’s the best part of three days by the time you’d finished going to one lot of things or the other, as one was on the boat, you sailed at night, and anyway they said, I could go to Cardiff Barracks and er, just finish there. Well, I went there and they sent me on to another station in England, and said I had a week to go and they just said, well, [laughs] find yourself something to do and then report back in here and you can get [unclear] you know, just get off from here, which I did do but, the funny thing is that in nineteen fifty two, not long after I’d had my second baby, I got a letter from them, all of which is down the way, I haven’t got much of my stuff on me here, all I, it just said, from nineteen fifty two you are now free, my time was up with the army, so I didn’t know what had happened, I had no proof of saying that I had gone to Aldershot and got to be [unclear]
CB: Discharged
EB: Yeh
CB: Where did you meet Bert?
EB: When did I, ooh
CB: When and where?
EB: When and where, well while I was stationed in Germany, the first time, to be honest, the first time I set eyes on him, we were on the train from, going to Hamburg, when the train was stopped by some erm, what’s them soldiers? What do you call them?
CB: The military police
EB: Yes, the military police, and erm, they wanted to put these four soldiers on the train with us all, so apparently it was all agreed in the end, they would in another compartment further down, and then one of them came around saying had we got anything to eat. It turned out, they’d gone for a holiday up the mountains and when they come to go down, the trains had been stopped because of the weather, so they were reported missing from camp, and as they got off the train, when they did get down, they were put under guard and they were put on our train. Well, we’d been given these, ooh horrible sandwiches, sardines and cheese, I don’t know how many years old, so we said, [laughs] ‘we’ve got some food if you’d like it’, you know, so we just passed all the food over to them, [laughs] he took it back to the other coach for them, well, that was the first time that I had set eyes on him, of course then, they were put on jankers, and er, they were in camp I think for ten days. Well, the only times I ever saw him after that was, we had to have somebody with us if we were going out, well, we only went on a bus down to the main part in Hamburg, which was a very big place, you could go and sit and write letters, you could go and play games in different rooms and things like that. And, dancing, well apparently, he used to, he, there’d be about three men in charge of all of us on the bus, they used to send a bus up and there’d be about three men they were responsible for those same ones to get back on the bus at night. But, you were all inside of this big club, and erm, just got back on the buses and they had to make sure everybody on, and I think about three or four times I saw him on duty doing that, and then the next time was, I think everybody was going off on a boat trip up the Rhine and he was on that one, and I was sat talking to him then for a while, but after that I never see much of him, I didn’t even know that he was demobbed because I worked in officers department and he worked in other ranks, so didn’t see them very often at all and it was only a girl on the camp, Win Jones, she came up and she said, ‘I’m supposed to be picking up Bert Bascombe’s photograph them [unclear] hand, because they weren’t ready when he was demobbed’, so she said, ‘but I’ve been moved over now and I’ve got to go from here and I’m being transported off elsewhere, so will you get them?’ I said, ‘not really, I don’t really want to be bothered’, so she said, she couldn’t find anybody who would do it, so I said, ‘oh okay then I’ll do it’. So, of course, I did it, I got these photographs sent to him, told him all about his other friends in other ranks and that, and erm, then he wrote back and thanked me very much, and was so and so there, and who else was there, and eventually I wrote back again, and of course I then got sent to go on because of Dad. So, when I was home after all the worry of Dad was over, I thought I had better write and tell that lad that he’s not going to get anymore letters from there, because I’m not there, so I can’t give him any more information, and I did that and he wrote back about a fortnight, two weeks later saying that he was very sorry that he’d not wrote before, what have you, and then later on, erm, I just wrote back and said, yes Dad’s okay now but I’ve got myself demobbed and still at home with my parents so I won’t be able to give you any more information. He wrote back and said, well, can I still go on writing to you? So, yes, if you want to, and then he wrote again and asked if he could come down to Cardiff, and er, because he'd got time off work, he’d gone back to his old job which was clerical in Liverpool, and he’d gone back there, so my Mother said, ‘well, you may as well, we’ve got another room here if he wants to come down for the odd day’, so he did and came down for that, and then, I think that was back in the August, don’t ask me exactly when, and then his parents invited me back up there at the Christmas time, and I went up, and that was sort of the start of then getting a bit serious sort of thing, but I explained to him, I said, ‘well, Ron’s been my love always’, and, because he wanted to go serious, I said, I hadn’t intended going serious, but when you think we’ve never even had a date [laughs] when you think about it, just writing letters and erm, I said, well, I only know about you, what you’ve told me but I‘ve got to tell you I said, ‘Ron’s been the love of my life, he always will be’, and I said, ‘if I did marry somebody else I could never put you in front of him ever’, you never forget your first love
CB: No, exactly
EB: But you can make another life. Anyway, he said, no, he could understand because he’d been on the beaches which we didn’t know then, it was Gold Beach, and believe me there were problems from that, which we didn’t know what it was back then, but erm
CB: On D-Day?
EB: Yes, but anyway he, what’s a name, he said yes that it would be great that he would like for us to get married, so, we did, we went ahead on the understanding I said, that you’ve got to understand I really cannot, I love you but in an entirely different way it’s a grown-up way and I am a different person. I am not the person who used to be in any way, I’m entirely different, and I suppose you got older as well
CB: Yeh
EB: But, erm, I said, it’s not the romantic, stars in the sky, sort of thing, it’s a down to earth know that we can get on well together. You can make another life and make another life, we were happy, but it was with your feet on the ground
CB: Yeh. I can believe it
EB: You know, it was one of those and we had four lovely children, which was great. We had a wonderful life together and then he never wanted to do things though, or anything because we found this was all to do with him being on Gold Beach afterwards, that was another story, yes, erm, and then he got emphysema very badly, he lost one of his lungs, smoking, and because a man had started him off in the trenches, they were stuck in the trenches, and he [unclear] smoking, and I said, effected his lungs, he was more in and out of hospital all the time, and eventually, he was bedridden altogether, he walked around with a big bottle of oxygen, didn’t he Gay? They remember as children, he didn’t have a life, their Dad couldn’t play with them or anything like that, but he was good, wasn’t he?
GM: Yes, yes
EB: He was a good Dad
GM: We had a, we were happy
EB: We were a happy family, we did, it was a down to earth, there was no roses round the doors, we both thought the world of each other, but it was plain talking, it was lovely and erm, so of course, that was our life together and eventually he died in nineteen forty-eight, I get the dates mixed up
CB: Eighty-four
EB: Nineteen eighty-four, I get it the wrong way around, eighty-four not forty-eight
CB: I think at that stage, we’ll have a break and thank you very much indeed for what you have done
EB: Okay, well, I hope it, you might have to cut a lot of it out.


Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Betty Bascombe,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 16, 2024,

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