Interview with Jim Wright. One

Title

Interview with Jim Wright. One

Description

Jim Wright was born in 1932. He was evacuated from West Ham during the Second World War along with his mother and two brothers. His father joined the Royal Air Force as an Observer Bomb Aimer with 207 Squadron. His aircraft was shot down over Switzerland on their fourth operation. Jim completed 22 years in the Royal Air Force and always had an interest into what had happened to his father. His wife Moreen wrote to the Air Ministry requesting information which started a forty five year research. Jim Wright located his father and crew who are interred in St Martins, Vevey, Switzerland. In total there are forty eight Bomber Command Aircrew buried in the cemetery. Jim through his research has worked with six Squadron Associations and helped to fill in slots in their history. Thanks to him, a parade is held every Remembrance Sunday attended by Swiss, French, Australian and other dignitaries.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-05-21

Contributor

Hugh Donnelly

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

00:10:16 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AWrightJ150521, PWrightJ1540

Spatial Coverage

Transcription

PJ: This recording is being carried out for the Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive. The Interviewer is Peter Jones, the interviewee is Jim Wright. The interview is being carried out in Mr Wrights’ home in Corby and the date is the 21st of May 2015. Jim can you tell me something about your early life?
JW.Born Upton Park, West Ham on the 11thof December 1932. We lived in two places the last was 97 Upton Park road which is not there anymore because it got thumped by Adolph Hitler during the War. Raised by my Mother, with my Mother and my Father, my Mother Marion my Father Arthur and Dad was a Builder, Plasterer, Carpenter and as far as I can remember he used to say he was the only left handed Plasterer in the Firm which meant he got paid a penny an hour extra. Em the reason being he could work from one end and the other could work from the other side and meet in the middle. Em, we just lived a normal life, I went to, I started school at Elmhurst as em, in the infants of course. In 1939 when War broke out em, we that is my Mother, my elder Brother and my younger Brother who was then a babe in arms were evacuated for the first time. Dad remained in Upton Park because his family that’s my Grandma and his Brothers and his Sisters all lived about what, em, if memory serves me right about two miles of each other and so they were always in constant em, contact. Eh, we went I don’t know where but it was somewhere south, supposedly safe. As evacuees,that was my Mother, Jack, Peter and me were only away for a matter of weeks because of the Phoney War. Then late September ’39 or early October we all went back because nothing happened. We went back to school and we kept on going until June 1940 where under plan 4 of the General Evacuation Scheme Jack and I were evacuated for the second time. This time just him and me and we ended up in South Wales which is where if you like, our War began. After that my Mother and younger Brother came down a year later in ’41. Dad followed early in ’42 because he had been called to the Colours and he volunteered for the RAF Aircrew and he stayed with us for a few months and then off he went to the Service. Did his training in the UK, went to South Africa for his Aircrew training, didn’t make it as a Pilot but made it as an Observer Bomb Aimer. Came back late ’42 joined his Squadron just after Christmas ’42 and that was the last time I saw him. He was then killed in action ’43 July. That was basically my childhood, my childhood now stopped because I had to grow up.
PJ. You’ve done a lot of research into your late Fathers crash haven’t you?
JW. Yes, em, my late Wife Moreen started me on this because I joined the Air Force and served 22 years. On my first overseas posting we went to JHQ Rheindalen, Germany and I had always been I suppose interested into what happened to my Dad. My late Wife unbeknown to me wrote a letter to Air Ministry as it was then, asking for information. That started the ball rolling which stopped rolling forty years later [laugh] when I eventually completed the full history of what happened to my Dad and his Crew and also another seven Airmen that crashed the same night in Switzerland in 1943. Then I just went on from there and my Dad and his Crew rest in St Martins, Ville in Switzerland along with, in total there are forty eight Bomber Command. I ended up researching them all which took me over 45 years, which was great fun and well worth doing. Em, with the help of some very lovely people in Switzerland mainly one Pascal Blanchard who still lives there and I am still in contact with and I hope God willing to visit in September this year. My Son, Son in Law and youngest Daughter are taking me back to Switzerland to visit my Dads’ grave and there should be a good meet up there. Em, we did research it, they were on the Turin raid night of Thirteenth of July and my Dad and his Crew were on their fourth Op and eh, they overflew Switzerland along with another hundred Aircraft, shouldn’t have done but they did and eh, they got hit by Swiss flack and eventually crashed into the Alps in a place called, just above Bouverette or Bouverette the other side of Lake Geneva on the French on the French Italian side. They crashed into the Alps and unfortunately they were carrying a 4000 pounder which went bang and all seven died and they were all identified, all brought down and laid to rest with full Military Honours in Ville. From there em, we with the help of Pascal and some great people in Switzerland over the years we managed eh, in a sense, solve exactly what happened. I met had the great fortune of meeting eye witnesses who remember the night as if it was yesterday. The outcome was Pascal and I wrote a book, we’ve never published it em, saying that at least we knew where one aircraft ended up. I’ve been again very lucky because over the years em, I have been able to help other families of my Dads’ Crew and the Australian Crew from 467 Squadron and em, other members of families of other Aircrew resting alongside and with my Dad and been able to solve the problems of their loved ones, which has always been a great delight and a great honour. What I have found in my research a lot of folk I have dealt with and helped, is all they knew was that their loved one had been killed in action, buried in Switzerland and didn’t seem to find out very much more. So I ended up with six squadrons, worked with six squadron associations and helped to fill in the slots, to fill in the slots in their own histories of what had happened to their lads. There graves are still tended in Switzerland. In Ville every eleventh of November, regardless, there is a big parade there attended by Dignitaries, the Swiss Ambassador, the French, the Australian and other Dignitaries turn up and wreaths are laid. A wreath from my Dads’ Squadron which was 207 Squadron by a very dear friend of mine who is the Vice Chair or the Vice President of RAFA and also the President of RAFA Switzerland he lays the wreath every November the eleventh and which is something that is very personal to me, we know them, we always refer to them as our Crew. He lays on our behalf a poppy on seven graves which I think is nice.
PJ. Thank you Jim.
JW.A Pleasure.

Collection

Citation

Peter Jones, “Interview with Jim Wright. One,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 3, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/2242.

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