Interview with Clive Coombes

Title

Interview with Clive Coombes

Description

Clive Coombes grew up on Royal Air Force stations, eventually joining and serving for 37 years before retiring in 2014. During this time, he served across the globe, including in Australia and Germany, as a ground branch officer. Clive outlines his father’s and uncle’s service, as well as his own.

His uncle, was born in Llandrindod, Wales and joined the Royal Air Force in either 1934 or 1935, becoming a pilot and serving in Iraq before returning to Great Britain and serving in the Second World War. Originally flying Blenheims, Jack was shot down and killed on the 10 January 1940 flying a mission for 109 Squadron. Whilst Jack did not serve long within the Second World War, Clive retains a large amount of information pertaining to his service, including his logbook and a number of poems sent to Clive’s Aunt.

Born in Burking Head, his father Horace 'Ken' Coombes joined the Royal Air Force in 1942 as a pilot, training in Alabama and Florida, before returning in 1943. His first posting was to the 582 Squadron at RAF Little Staughton, flying Pathfinder missions over Dusseldorf and the Ruhr, amongst others. He was eventually moved to 626 Squadron at RAF Wickemby. Throughout his service, Clive’s father flew Lancasters, Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mosquitoes and Wellingtons. After flying on Operation Manna, he was decommissioned and reenlisted soon after as instructor, later becoming an air traffic controller and a reconnaissance flyer, flying Meteors and Vampires at RAF Shawbury. Following his retirement in 1977, Clive recalls his father refusing to mention his opinion on the view of Bomber Command following the war. Clive wishes that Bomber Command would receive more recognition, especially through the efforts of the IBCC and Runnymede Air Forces Memorial.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2020-03-06

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

00:37:09 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

ACoombesDC200306, PCoombesHS2043

Conforms To

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

JS: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Jim Sheach. The interviewee is Clive Coombs. The interview is taking place at Clive’s home in Edinburgh, Scotland on the 6th of March 2020. Clive, maybe we could start if you could tell us a little about your father’s life before the war.
CC: My father was born in Birkenhead in 1921. Went to, went to the local school which was the same one that John Lennon ended up going to a few weeks afterwards. They, the family lived in Garston in Liverpool, and my grandfather was a merchant seaman. My grandmother was obviously what’s the official term now, a homemaker? She had six kids that survived, and a couple that didn’t. My father was the eldest and he, following his secondary education joined the Mersey Dock Board with his brother, Alf. And in 1942, if my memory serves he decided that notwithstanding being in a protected employment that he would join up and he joined the RAF as a pilot, and went to training in America. Did all his training at, in Alabama and Florida as a sergeant pilot. Returned to the United Kingdom in ’43. Was immediately commissioned on a VRT commission as a flight lieutenant and joined 582 Squadron Pathfinder Force straight away.
JS: Ok. So —
CC: So that’s his career prior to, you know that takes him up to his first operational mission with 582.
JS: Ok. Spinning a bit in time your, your uncle also has a connection with Bomber Command. Can you, can you tell us a little about him?
CC: Yeah. This is, this is on the maternal side and my Uncle Jack, Jack Hanne or John Henry Hanne was from Llandrindod Wells in, in Mid-Wales but interestingly of German extraction. And he was the husband of my mother’s sister Nancy Vera Morgan as she eventually died, but it was actually Nancy Vera Guildford then. She married Jack and Jack was in the Air Force when they married. He’d actually joined very early. ’34 ’35. Served in Iraq, and was originally a mechanic. I’m not sure if it, I’m not sure exactly what his official trade was but he was a mechanic and having been a boy entrant, so he really was, you know a very young joiner and then was, then converted to pilot and ended up flying in Iraq on 13 Squadron if again memory serves. Came back to UK prior to the war. Still flying. Converted to Blenheims, flew some very early missions in the war and was killed on the 10th of January 1940 flying a 109 Squadron Blenheim from Wattisham on an air raid over Germany. And he was shot down by a Messerschmitt and crashed in the, in the North Sea. So one of the very early casualties and interestingly the first casualty of World War Two from Radnorshire, in Wales. He’s commemorated both at Runnymede, at the IBCC and on his family, sorry, and on the War Memorial in Llandrindod Wells and a couple of months ago on the 10th of January 2020 my wife and I went down and laid a wreath. Sorry.
JS: No. You’re ok. You’re ok —
CC: So, clearly I never knew Jack but I’ve got his medals, I’ve got a lot of his history and I’m quite proud of him.
JS: As you would be. As you would be.
CC: Yeah. Holder of the, he’s got his, probably one of the few of Aircrew Europe Crosses so he’s got the Star. He gave a lot to the Air Force, you know. Joined in ’35 and trained right through and I’ve got some wonderful photographs of his time as a trainer. As an airman. You know. Some wonderful pictures of air crashes and things like that. And then his time in Iraq as well. What I don’t have sadly is any details of his, of his flying time. I don’t have his logbook. I’ve no idea where that went. And strangely, you know Jack is, I mean he died what twenty years before I was born. I think the sad part is that Nancy, my aunt was pregnant when he was killed, and she gave birth to Jacqueline who, who survived for two days. And that was ultimately the only child that Nancy ever had. She remarried a stoker from HMS Belfast interestingly, and I obviously knew him as my uncle. Predominantly not Jack. And he died very suddenly many, many years ago. Strangely at a funeral for one of his friends. He died in the church at the funeral which was a bit tragic.
JS: Yeah.
CC: But Nancy was always I think actually very much in love with Jack and I’ve got some wonderful poetry written by Jack to Nancy and it’s, it’s quite evocative the memories that go with that. So I probably have a strangely close relationship with Jack albeit that he’d been dead for twenty years before, before I was born but I followed it up and, yeah he did some very good things. He did some very good things and sadly lost his life very early in the war.
JS: Early on.
CC: I hope he would have probably gone on to do a few more things but you know it’s, it’s life and death in that environment. But it was a privilege to do the [unclear] which garnered quite a lot of publicity in Wales. It made the front page of three local papers which I was quite surprised about, but, but quite nice. Quite nice. So his legacy lives on and, you know strangely Runnymede and IBCC, it’s nice to have his name on both and I’ve seen both and I’ve visited both and paid my respects there as well. So, no it’s good. Very good.
JS: The memorialisation thing obviously means a lot to you.
CC: Yeah. I think [pause] I guess it’s probably because, you know I’m very proud of what I did. I did thirty seven years in the Air Force. Got to a pretty senior rank. Been decorated. But there’s no legacy because I have no children. I was an only child and when I die my family name dies and so memorialisation as you get older has become slightly more, slightly more relevant I think and I don’t know what to do to commemorate that. I think, you know one of the things I am going to do is contribute to the ribbon at IBCC. And probably ultimately I would be very surprised if the IBCC didn’t benefit from a considerable legacy from the Coombes family. If there’s only some way of the Coombes family, when I say Coombes family, me and my wife of, of memorialising my father, my uncle, and you know in a, could I say entirely altruistic way myself as well because you know I believe that you know over thirty seven years I’ve, I had a pretty good career. I broke a few, a few glass ceilings in what I ended up doing and it would be nice if that was remembered. But there’s, there’s very little legacy in terms of human kind that will remember that because you know I have a half-brother and a half sister who were dad’s kids but they have they have, they have no kids and they’re much older than me. I have no kids. My wife’s sister has one child and they’ve gone different, different, different line. And so there’s nothing, you know. When Coombes, Coombes, this one dies, Coombes name dies which is really sad. So I just feel as I’ve, you know just hit sixty I think I need to do something about it. And this is probably a way of doing it so also —
JS: But, but there is a, the interesting part in this is, if you like long, very long ribbon of service through the RAF from, from your uncle through your father, through yourself.
CC: Yeah. I mean, I think if we, if we look at it between 1942 and 2014 there was only fifteen months that either my father or I were not serving because at the end of the war dad was demobbed. Went back to the Mersey Dock Board, and albeit that I never actually got around to asking him I’m not sure whether it was him who got fed up with the Mersey Dock Board or whether it was the RAF needed QFIs, but he was, he was dragged back in after about fifteen months on a, on a full term normal commission, and re-joined the Air Force as a flight lieutenant and was posted immediately as a qualified flying instructor. And then when he retired it was only a matter of months between him retiring and me joining. So, I think, you know we could probably stretch it to maybe eighteen, twenty months between early 1942 and late 2014 that there wasn’t either my dad or me in the Air Force which, which is interesting. If you then stretch it further back you know with Jack as a family connection, you know it goes back to sort of 1934, 1935. That, that is, you know that is quite a long time serving for three people alone and bearing in mind that Jack’s service was brought, brought to a very sharp end after only five years.
JS: Yeah.
CC: Having been killed. But dad did a full career. Retired at fifty five as a squadron leader. And I did a full career, thirty seven and a half years retiring in 2014 as a group captain. So, you know it’s, it’s something that we’ve given to blue suits. Yeah.
JS: Yeah. Yeah.
CC: I’m proud of —
JS: Yeah. Absolutely. You, you spoke earlier about your, your dad doing the training in the US which was very common.
CC: Yeah.
JS: And then coming back and going on a squadron. So, with the [pause] how, what sort of operations was he doing then?
CC: Well, it’s, it’s strange that I mean looking in his logbooks which I’m still privileged to have he, he went, his first operational squadron was a Pathfinder Squadron which I think was probably quite unusual because obviously they, they, you know Don Bennett indicated that what he wanted was the best of the best for the Pathfinder Force and 8 Group. But I’ve no idea why dad went on to that. I’m looking at his logbook, looking at his flight assessments from Gunther Field and various bits and pieces. And interestingly I used to serve in the States and I actually went to Gunther Field fifty years virtually to the day that he graduated from there. Which was purely serendipity but I was, I actually visited the base on duty that, very close to fifty years. But I didn’t know that until I checked it. So he was assessed as above the average in pretty much everything so one would assume that he went back and was sent straight to 582. I go through his, his logbooks and they are standard bombing missions, you know, full time. Dusseldorf on the Ruhr. And they were, you know genuine front line Pathfinder operations. Subsequent to that 582 at Little Staughton, he then transferred to 626 Squadron at Wickenby. Still Pathfinder Force, with the same crew which I have no idea why they, why they transferred squadrons. I know that they used to do that and you know maybe 582’s losses were not high whereas 626’s were and they just transferred crews to 626. But he had the same crew throughout pretty much. One Brit, a couple of Aussies and a Canadian. I don’t know where the others were from. I could check, I think. But, but he flew through. He did twenty four, twenty five missions. I only ever once asked him why he didn’t do the thirty or how he felt not having got to thirty and to get his automatic DFC, and his quote to me was, ‘Had I son, you may not be, you may not have been here.’ But I look at what happened after that, and you know now things come out. You don’t know what, you don’t know the true meaning of it all but he went off to be a test pilot and whether that was because he was suffering from what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder or whether they needed highly skilled pilots to be test pilots I have no idea. But you look at some of the stuff that he did and it’s quite remarkable, you know. I mean, one day in his logbook he’s got I think Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane, Wellington, Mosquito. Pretty much on the same day. If not the same day sort of three days. And you go wow. Hang on a minute. What aircraft am I in today? You know it’s quite remarkable to do that. And yet you talk to friends of mine who I’ve served with over thirty seven years and, you know they have gone through careers commanding squadrons only ever having flown a Bulldog, a Jet Provost and a Tornado. Or a Hawk and a Tornado so you had four types of aircraft. He had five in two days. So, remarkable different world. I guess, I suppose when again I haven’t checked the dates entirely it could well have been that operations had pretty much finished. Formal operations had finished. I know, having checked his logbook very recently that he flew on Op Manna.
JS: Yeah.
CC: So that probably would indicate that formal operations over Germany had ceased by that time. Hence the reason he didn’t do the thirty. But quite surprising Manna didn’t count as an operational sortie. So, you know, that’s, that’s probably why. I don’t know but —
JS: Although, it wasn’t, it wasn’t without it’s dangers either you know.
CC: Correct. Absolutely right.
JS: Many, many aircrew I’ve spoken to flew on Operation Manna and they all talk about that doubt in their minds as to whether they were likely to be shot at.
JS: Yeah. Yeah.
CC: You know.
JS: So, you know he went off and did that and then he did, he flew Mosquitoes in the PRU role before he was demobbed. And then when he re-joined QFI flying Vampires and Meteors from Shawbury, where he met my mum having divorced from his first wife. So yeah, an interesting career and then ended up for the [unclear] he converted to, to what we now call, is it aircrew spine or something like that? But he was spec aircrew but in those days you had to be dual qualified, so he was an air traffic controller as well and on his down, on his ground tours he was deputy SATCO at Wildenrath in the late ‘50s. And then in the early 70s was SATCO at Lyneham. So, you know that must have been an interesting time when you’ve got a SATCO with, with two wings. And then he went back to flying and finished as ops officer on, his last flying tour was ops officer on 10 Squadron. VC10s. So, you know, he had a pretty varied career in, in what he actually did. So it was, there’s lots of flying hours. There’s forty seven different types of aircraft in his logbook which is quite remarkable really when you think about it.
JS: And a very thick logbook I’m sure.
CC: Five of them.
JS: Five [laughs]
CC: Yeah. Five of them. Five different ones. Yeah. So, yeah pretty much ranging from sort of link trainer through to Harvard, through to Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster, Wellington, Mosquito.
JS: Yeah.
CC: A Varsity. VC10.
JS: Yeah. That’s not a logbook. That’s a library.
CC: Yes. It is a library. That’s what it is actually.
JS: Very much. Very much.
CC: It’s a very, you know they are quite important documents to me to see what he did. So, yeah. It’s very interesting.
JS: Yeah. Very good. There’s, there’s quite a lot of discussion about how Bomber Command were viewed after the war. Let’s say, sort of just after the war and that part after that. Did, did you dad ever, ever talk about that or give a view about it or —
CC: Not, not to me. And it’s, I think it might be indicative that it probably happened quite a lot that these guys didn’t actually talk about it. Sadly, my dad passed away in 1990 at the age of sixty eight which you think is not necessarily fair given what, what he went through during the war. You know, by that stage I had joined and strangely I was told what must have been two weeks after my dad died that I’d just been promoted to squadron leader and that would have been nice for him to know.
JS: Yeah.
CC: But, you know c’est la vie. Time is everything. So he never really spoke to me about, about that. I did ask him once when I was younger. I was doing a bit of research and clearly, you know his career influenced me quite markedly having, you know literally joined months after he, he retired. I realised at that stage that the Pathfinders were entitled to wear the albatross on their, on their number one jacket, left breast pocket and I asked dad why he didn’t wear his Pathfinder brevet because my understanding was that, you know once a Pathfinder always a Pathfinder and you could continue to wear it for the rest of your career. And he sort of passed it off saying that ‘Well, you know it’s not de rigueur anymore, and nobody wears it.’ And, ‘Well, probably they don’t wear it any more dad is because there aren’t many Pathfinders left.’ And he never really made comment about that. He always wore his medals with pride but it was just the standard four, you know ‘39/45 Star, France and Germany and the other two. The War and Victory or War and Defence. And sadly, stupidly I’ve never as yet applied for his Bomber Command clasp which I frankly should do I must confess. But he never really commented on it. I think he was amongst a crowd of people who were obviously Bomber Command pilots themselves in his QFI days at CFS but I still think he was quite proud of what he did albeit with the fact that he knew that, that flying over Germany however high dropping bombs was going to kill people. But no. He never really spoke about it. I think from my own personal perspective I, I do wish Bomber Command had had more recognition but it goes down to what we, what we as military guys and girls do. You know. We, we do what we’re told to do. It’s not, it’s not for us to question the policies. It’s for us to deliver what’s required. And, you know, you can extrapolate that argument straight up you know to the Falklands and the Gulf War One, Gulf War Two, the whole lot. You know. Was it the right thing to do? Did Saddam Hussain have WMD we don’t know. Still think there’s no proof but the government made the call. You go do it. Ours is not to reason why but ours just get on with it because that’s our job and I think that’s the way dad would have looked at it as well. He, I sense but only sense, I’ve no evidence that he found it quite strange in 1958/59 to be serving in Germany and living in Dusseldorf which is where we did live knowing that only a matter of years previous to that he’d been over it at thirty five thousand feet dropping two thousand pound bombs. That I think was slighty odd as far as he was concerned. And I honestly don’t think they particularly enjoyed their tour, my mum and dad particularly enjoyed their tour in Germany and I think they were quite keen to get home. And when I look at it they only did eighteen months in Germany and during the period I was born there but, but still not the happiest days of dad’s career probably because there was the subliminal issue of, you know, I’ve been here before but at a different height and with a different mission. So, but no he never formally said. I think what is sad, that he never saw the recognition that has now finally come to Bomber Command in terms of the Memorial and in terms of the IBCC. I think he would have been quite proud of that, and I think he would have been very pleased to have attended either the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial or the IBCC had he still been alive. Again, c’est la vie. The way things go.
JS: Yeah.
CC: As for Jack I can’t answer the question. I have no idea.
JS: Yeah.
CC: My aunt kept many, many clippings of, you know what he did because he was on one of the very early raids where a squadron commander got a DSO. They were presented to the King as a result of that because it really was one of the, it was a late 1939, very early air raid. And, and I think that’s in the days where you know before we were dropping, carpet bombing. And, and I think Nancy was very proud of Jack as well but again you know clearly I don’t know what he would have felt about it. Probably slightly stranger given that his extraction was German, you know. One generation German. So, I mean his father was a hotelier in Germany. So, you know, came over prior to the war so I think he would have felt quite strange about it.
JS: Yeah.
CC: But he was staunchly British. I understand that. And staunchly Welsh as well, strangely. So yeah, a different world. I don’t know. I can’t answer all the questions.
JS: That’s alright.
CC: Haven’t talked about it for a long time.
JS: That’s interesting. That’s interesting [pause] Because your dad served in the RAF for —
CC: Thirty five.
JS: That period after —
CC: Yeah. Yeah.
JS: And to a certain extent as you’ve mentioned earlier that you were born abroad when your dad was in service. Then, then at the end of the day, that thing, you’d been embedded for the, within the RAF a lot longer than you served in the RAF.
CC: Oh yeah.
JS: I suppose that was the, the thing is do you think it was always likely that you would join?
CC: Yeah. I think it probably, I think it probably was. I mean, I guess I vividly remember at school I mean I was fortunate I got a, I won an academic scholarship to an English Public School and it was a case of, ‘Well, Coombes, what are you going to do?’ And I think, that’s from my careers master and I said, ‘Well, I probably will join the Air Force, sir.’ And he said, ‘Right.’ and that was a tick. That’s one solved. That’s one less issue to worry about.
JS: Conversation over.
CC: Yes. You know, so I didn’t trouble my careers master for very long and I remember I, I went for a university scholarship or a university cadetship and didn’t get it, but was offered an immediate place straight from school and which I accepted. So literally after finishing school in the July I joined in the September of 1978. And clearly knowing I had a job I didn’t do particularly well at A level, and very much enjoyed my last year at school and then joined up straight away and actually have no regrets about that because subsequent to that the training I’ve done, you know I’ve got my, I’ve got my masters level education through the Australian Air Force having served out there on exchange. And yeah it was probably the easy option for me but I have absolutely no regrets. I mean, I think if I do have one regret it’s that my eyesight wasn’t good enough to, to allow me to be aircrew so I became a personnel support officer. But in so doing have had a very, very varied career. Done an awful lot of jobs, served pretty much all over the world and, and enjoyed my time. I guess if I were to be held down and pinned to the wall saying, ‘Do you regret not being a pilot?’ The answer is, ‘Hell yes.’ Because I know I had the aptitude and I proved, you know I went through Aircrew Selection Centre, and had pilot aptitude but sadly couldn’t see, and and that’s probably a regret. But not withstanding that I served in some great places. Had I been air crew I don’t think I would have been as good as my dad. I probably would have been a journeyman pilot flying maybe Hercs or VC10s around the world. Which would have been a great time. I don’t think I would have been good enough to go fast jet albeit that in my career I have fortunately managed to log about three hundred hours on fast jets because I’ve got some very good friends and I had a wonderful time. But I have no regrets being ground branch officer because you know what I did in the end of my career particularly, the last five years I did jobs that were aircrew jobs previously and ended up managing to convince those that needed convincing that actually a ground branch officer could undertake these jobs satisfactory. And I think, you know irony of ironies I ended up, my penultimate tour was in Germany as the deputy commander of the Rhine and European Support Group based at Rheindahlen, and part of my area of command was the former RAF Wegberg site where I was born. And so I ended up actually being the garrison commander of the garrison on which the hospital that I was born in resided. So it was a bit, that was a bit spooky but, but also quite oh wow you know how the wheel turns. So, you know no regrets about that. And I know full well had I been aircrew I’d never have done that so that little thing sort of comes, comes to pass. So yeah. Interesting. An interesting career for me but very much influenced by what dad did and sadly, you know I’d only been serving for twelve years when dad passed away so it would have been nice if he’d still been around to see me go, you know a couple of ranks above what he did, doing things that he never did. But, but there you go. That’s life. You make, you make your career choices as he did.
JS: Well. Yes. But I’m, I’m sure he knew that your career was on the right track.
CC: Well, one would hope so.
JS: You know. I think in —
CC: I do remember my second, third tour was I was the ADC to the air officer commanding in Cyprus and mum and dad came out to, to Cyprus for, for a holiday and they were invited kindly by the, by the AOC to come and have dinner and dad said to me afterwards, he said, ‘Oh, you know, the boss thinks you’re ok. He thinks you’ll probably make wing commander.’ I thought that wasn’t bad given I was a flying officer so that was, that’s ok. And, and to achieve one more than that was a great, was a great privilege, so that, that was interesting. He, he was quite good. I do remember that quite vividly. He thinks you might make wing commander. Well, thanks. That’s great.
JS: That’s good. You, you spoke earlier about Memorials.
CC: Yeah.
JS: Which was interesting. How, how important do you think memorialisation is to the RAF as a whole and also to yourself personally? I think we touched on that sort of personal thing earlier —
CC: Yeah. Yeah.
JS: But it would be interesting to hear your thoughts as a, as a recent serving officer. What, what you think the view in the RAF is on that?
CC: Well, its again interesting. I mean, I joined the Air Force in ‘78 when there were a hundred and [unclear] thousand, a hundred and twenty something thousand people in the Air Force. I, I left in 2014 when there were just a smidge over thirty thousand. Ok. Roles change. Technology changes and you don’t, you know you don’t have eight man crews on Shackletons, and six man crews on Hercules and you know it comes down to single crew aircraft. But I think sadly, you know this sounds like a really crusty old boy talking the Air Force was not, not the same when I left it as it was when I joined it, and clearly that’s, that’s obvious. But I still, I think that that when I joined it in 1978 it was a career. I think sadly now for most people who join the Air Force it’s a job. And that’s why I hope that, that memorialisation of some kind in whatever form is is continued and indeed improved because these, these things can’t be forgotten. I think, you know the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park is very special. I think the IBCC is a wonderful set up, and having visited it very recently for the first time I am hugely impressed. I’d like to see other things go in there. I’d like to be able to help with that. It’s a long way from Edinburgh to there and you know that but things like the RAF Club remain very special, you know. The memories that are in the RAF Club are absolutely amazing. And Runnymede still takes my breath away. We can’t forget.
JS: Yeah.
CC: You know, we did very well at RAF 100. And I was, I re-joined for a year for RAF 100 as a reservist and did, did a job up here, predominantly with the Tattoo. And it was nice to come back in. I think, I think to come back in when you’re fifty nine years old is quite strange and you know you’re dealing with a lot of young people who have a different ethos to you. And bearing in mind that I spent my last eight years of service, three of them in Germany commanding, effectively commanding an army garrison and five years, my last five years working for the Foreign Office overseas in South East Asia where you know you’re just going home when, when the Ministry of Defence comes to work. I really did notice a sea change when I actually re-joined the Royal Air Force having been out of it effectively for a decade and it wasn’t the same. There was a lot of self-interest, and I know that what we tried to achieve in RAF 100 was, was would have been impossible had it not been for reservists and volunteer reserves and part time reserve service people. Which is quite sad given that you would expect to be able to do what you needed to do with the regular people. Those who were actually serving. So, you know we had a big success with RAF 100 but by jingo if it hadn’t have been for the people who’d, you know served before and come back in as reservist there’s absolutely no way we would have achieved it. I do remember the words of the then Chief of the Air Staff Steve Hillier saying that, you know, ‘It’s a privilege to be the CAS at the RAF 100 but all I’m doing is laying a future for my successors, successors successor,’ blah blah blah, ‘Who will be CAS at RAF 200.’ I just wonder how big the RAF at two hundred will be. Not very big I don’t think. And whilst I won’t be here and none of my progeny will be here I do wonder what it will be like. I’ve got a horrible feeling being probably glass half empty on this one that it will be the Defence Forces of The United Kingdom all wearing green uniform. I don’t know. We’ll see. But you can’t take away what’s there. IBCC is there. Runnymede is there. Other memorials are there. Long may it continue as far as I’m concerned and anything I can do to assist with the memorialisation of that then I will continue to do that, and this is a first step for me. And I’m pleased to be able to contribute. And hopefully sometime in, you know RAF 200 somebody might listen to this and say, ‘Jeez, who was that old boy talking?’ We shall see.
JS: Clive, thank you very much.
CC: My great pleasure.
JS: That’s been fascinating. Thank you.
CC: Thanks very much indeed, Jim. I hope it gets somewhere.

Collection

Citation

James Sheach, “Interview with Clive Coombes,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 2, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22525.

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