Interview with Roger Calvert


Interview with Roger Calvert


Roger Calvert grew up in Ripon. He joined the Royal Air Force in April 1942 and completed navigation training in Canada. On return to Great Britain, he met up with his pilot, John Thatcher and they completed 31 operations in Mosquitos with 141 Squadron. He discusses use of Gee and H2S, operations including Dresden, escorting the bomber stream, shooting down a Messerschmitt Bf 110 and lack of moral fibre. He became the adjutant at RAF Rattlesden and served briefly in Cairo before being demobilised. After the war, he became an accountant.







00:52:06 audio recording


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CB: So, my name's Chris Brockbank and I am in Leeds with Roger Calvert a Mosquito navigator and we're going to talk about his early life, what he did in the RAF and then afterwards. So what's the earliest you remember in your life?
RC: Well I was born in Ripon Yorkshire, I’ve got three brothers and two sisters. I remember very little about the beginning of the war except I remember the war being announced. Um, I was at school then Ripon Grammar School and I was in the sixth form then, more or less ready to, to leave. I'd no idea what I was going to do after I left school. Well I did quite well with High School Certificate and so on and then I was tested and, in [background noises] April 1942 I joined and went down to Padgate. Um I enjoyed being at school one or two of my friends are good footballers and cricketers and I enjoyed those being in the first team. But, it was a bit of a shock going into the forces of course, I hardly left Ripon [laugh] at that age so it was a bit of a- amazing to eventually go to Canada to train and go to Egypt and places like that. So I remember very little about London and Padgate except there was a murderer down there floating about. I don't know if you remember that chap, that murdered several women, and, then I seemed to get lost in the, the movement and the training really. Um, so eventually I went to Canada which is by boat on the Queen Mary. I got on this boat one afternoon, on this ship, sorry the Queen Mary one afternoon I thought oh we'll be off in a couple of hours it looks full to me. They were going on, coming on board all through the night 'till the next day. I think there was about eighteen or twenty thousand on board the Queen Mary. Anyway it was quite safe because evidently it, once it got out into the Atlantic, it used to, only go so long and then turn onto a new course, and then I landed at Moncton and travelled by train across Canada to London Ontario, which was a beautiful city, and there trained as a navigator on Ansons, in the middle of the Great Lakes. And I eventually qualified as a navigator and was commissioned then, I don't know, that presumably due to the results I don’t know and then came home again. Eh, and more or less after I got back to England they wanted navigators to train on two-engined aircraft, with a, lot of systems why [unclear] you picked up incoming German flights into the bomber, eh the bomber stream. So I went on this training, and with the pilot who was training also, which took quite a long time. Eventually I went to OTU [background noises] where, I was lucky because there were very few, very few navigators there, in fact a lot of pilots so it was a bit boastful to say I got the pick of the pilots [laughs] but, that’s where I met John Thatcher who was a wonderful pilot, he'd been on Training Command, he'd done a lot of hours so I got on very well with him. He was ten years older than me but he was a really wonderful chap, wasn't he Margaret. Eh, I used to see him after the war, but we just had confidence in each other somehow and got on very well, so it was a very nice association, I was very lucky to be with him and eventually we transferred to Mosquitos. And [background noise] we did this first trip to France, they give you an easy trip the first one. When I got back I was a sick in the [laughs] in the cockpit and they were a bit frightened that it was this lack of moral fibre, but what had happened was my oxygen mask had come, come off and I hadn’t noticed it and that's why I, why I was taken ill really, the last part of the trip [pause]. I can’t really say much more about John, he was a grand man, you met him Margaret didn’t you several times, he lived at Tring. Whenever we could we always called in to see him and, I remember he was rather funny once. He said 'do you remember that fourteenth trip we did?' You gave me a wrong, you gave me a wrong direction over Hamburg and he'd never forgotten this [laughs]. I'd given him a wrong, a wrong, [background noise] so we had a good laugh about that. That was about the only thing we quarrelled about really [laughs]. Yes it was nice to meet him after the war, but em. Anyway we were very pleased to get on the Mosquitos it would be shortly before the time of the invasion I think. And em we'd done thirty one flights, thirty one operations, eh when I was taken ill on leave and went to the hospital in Bath and eh when I came back to the squadron after a month or so the war was nearly over, and I only did one more flight with a Flying Officer Rhymer [?] we eh, we intruded some airfield in Denmark. I've often wondered why, whether there was some high class Nazis there. Anyway the squadron attacked this aerodrome that was my last trip, that was the thirty second and that was the tour finished I suppose well the war finished, so [pause] I had a very quiet time on operations really although, fortunately John was a very good pilot, I remember the worst trip we had was to a place called Zeiss [?]. I think it was near Leipzig, and we were over the target and one of the engines went and, he blocked it off or whatever the word is and he flew me all the way back to, to England on this one engine, how he did it I don’t know but, we came into this aerodrome in Essex, it had got about a four mile long runway so there's plenty of room there. So I've very little so say about the operations really, we were intruding once or twice aerodromes and so but mostly we were escorting the bomber, the bomber stream and trying to pick up German fighters coming into it. We only met one once [laugh] which was an ME110 which we shot down. That’s about the only thing I remember about picking some — we picked one or two up but we lost them again, so that was a bit of a failure really.
CB: So just picking up on what the activity was, you were trained to intercept other planes, German aircraft in the bomber stream, were you therefore technically night fighters yourselves or were you interdictors so you would do bombing as well. What was the actual role that you had?
RC: We were escort really, yes, only once or twice we did these intruding into enemy aerodromes. I think the last but one flight was Dresden, never forgotten that.
CB: Ok tell us more.
RC: Well the whole city had been bombed by the US and ourselves and, we could see the Russian, the Russian, flashes from the Russian forces quite near Dresden at the time [background noises] so we thought the war must be nearly over but eh, it was a shame to bomb that place but it was, that was the RAF was ordered and we, I think Churchill let us down quite frankly then after his war speech, he never mentioned the RAF, I mean they had to go and they did what they had to do.
CB: What was it about the Dresden raid that really stuck in your mind?
RC: Well it was the firestorm afterwards really, yes.
CB: What was your role then, escorting the bombers?
RC: Um, yes there, yes [pause] and that was about the end of the war wasn't it, just about.
CB: Yes, yeah ok, so what was your feeling about the bombing of Dresden?
RC: Well, we were told — they were told to do it weren’t they?
CB: But at the time, what did you think about it at the time?
RC: I didn’t think about it any more than the normal trips, you know. I mean a friend of mine went to Nuremberg on that awful trip, ninety seven were shot down, and he told me he went there and back without any trouble, which is unbelievable isn’t it? It was a moonlight night and they got in an awful mess they shouldn’t have gone really, but that was Jeff Ward, do you remember Margaret? Mm.
CB: Was he a Mosquito man as well?
RC: No he was on, Lancasters.
CB: Right, going back to the — if we just go to the training bit -
RC: Training yes
CB: So you're trained to use the equipment for detecting, were they to detect other night fighters? So just talk us through, what was the training and what was the equipment, you were on Beaufighters. So what was the equipment supposed to do, how did it work?
RC: Well there was Gee, I can’t remember a lot about it, there was Gee, you could navigate on these pulses coming from, the middle of England.
CB: It was a lattice navigation system.
RC: Erm, yes, and then there was one that would pick up the coast beautifully, I forget what that was called.
CB: You didn’t have H2S on your....
RC: H2S that's it.
CB: Did you have that, you didn’t have that on the Mosquito?
RC: Yes.
CB: Oh you did, right, in the nose?
RC: Yes.
CB: Right okay.
RC: Yes the nose was altered.
CB: Right. What else did you have [pause] how did you detect?
RC: Well I had — I was looking in this box most of the time.
CB: Right.
RC: What were they called, AI I think.
CB: So airborne interception radar, AI yeah, okay.
RC: That’s what I was trained to pick up these aircraft.
CB: So this was a scanning radar was it?
RC: Um yes I suppose so, yes.
CB: So what were you looking for?
RC: Looking for aircraft coming in.
CB: Right, how could you detect them in a way that differentiated them from the bomber stream?
RC: I can’t remember.
CB: Okay, presumably the bombers had IFF so identification friend or foe so that meant that you would know from a signal from those what you were hitting. But where were you in the bomber stream, in relation to the bomber stream, above it, beside it, below it, where were you?
RC: Well we flew out after them because we were a lot faster of course, so um well we had our own — we were given our own routes. Our own plans which tied up with the bomber stream presumably [pause].
CB: So whereabouts did you catch up with them? 'Cos you had — did you fly around a lot or, because you'd have to throttle back to be in line with them?
RC: No we just went there, um.
CB: You just wandered around did you?
RC: No we just went there to the, to the -
CB: Over the target?
RC: Operation, yes.
CB: But you didn’t drop anything.
RC: No, no.
CB: So when you got close to the target did you go above the Lancasters and Halifaxes?
RC: Yes I think so, it's a — I can’t really remember quite honestly.
CB: Or to the side is really what I meant.
RC: Mm. Yes I think we would have been above them [background noises].
CB: But over the target, was it likely that fighters would operate there because of the flak?
RC: Well I think they would try to pick them up before they, before they -
CB: [Interrupted] and after?
RC: Yes.
CB: So you had gone over the target, the bombers are turning, they are in a stream, how are you going back with them, because the fighters are trying to get them then?
RC: No we are not going back with them we are just going back, yes.
CB: Oh you didn’t go back with them?
RC: No, no I think that was impossible really.
CB: So really you're operating on the basis of trying to defend them on the way there but on the way back you're not with them.
RC: No, no.
CB: Is that partly a fuel consideration was it, or?
RC: No I don’t know it was just the way it was done.
CB: Did others come out and take over for the return trip?
RC: No I don’t think so, no.
CB: Right okay, so the one you shot down, what happened there?
RC: I wasn’t shot down, no.
CB: No, no the ME110 that you shot down.
RC: Oh right yes, well we picked this aircraft up over France and um and got right behind it as near as we could and John said 'what do you think it is?' So I thought, ‘well looks like a 110 to me', he said, 'yes so did I' and eh, so anyway we, it wasn’t, it wasn’t weaving at all it was just flying, so anyway I gave it a couple of bursts and again and it went down and that was the last saw of that. But, whether it crashed or not we don’t know.
CB: So your armament was what, so you had four 20 millimetre cannon?
RC: Yes.
CB: And how many machine guns, another four of those?
RC: I’ve forgotten, it was either four or eight, it wouldn’t be eight would it?
CB: I wouldn’t think so.
RC: No four.
CB: It might have been but fairly potent when you got going?
RC: Yes, yes.
CB: What was the effect on the plane when you fired?
RC: [sigh] Well, certainly hit it, it was a big, big, big blow up, big blow up, yes.
CB: Oh it blew up, the 110?
RC: Well it was a conflagration or whatever.
CB: Conflagration.
RC: Conflagration right.
CB: Did you fire, on other occasions did you fire at other planes?
RC: No, no that's why I've been so lucky all my life. I’m lucky as far as we didn’t shoot more down. I mean one of our chaps did about — shot, killed about — he knocked about twelve German aircraft out.
CB: Did he.
RC: I was talking to Margaret the other day, I was just reading a book, this pair shot down about twelve I think it was and eh he got the DFC and two bars. And after the war he, was killed by a lorry running over him and they thought it was suicide because this poor [indistinct] chap, his wife had left him. It was very sad, he was such a nice bloke although he had more or less gone when I — he was going, he was leaving the squadron to some other higher post I think after I joined it, it’s sad isn’t it the war?
CB: It is, yeah. So going to the end of hostilities, in Europe, you’d been in hospital, you had one more trip to Denmark, that was escorting rather than doing any ground attacks?
RC: No, it wasn’t escorting, it was just intruding on this aerodrome.
CB: Which meant what, so when you say intruder what does that mean?
RC: Well we just bombed, actually we used that stuff napalm on the place and um. [pause]
CB: What did you drop that on?
RC: On the, on the aerodrome on the build — hangers and, yes, and I suppose the ancillary buildings as well. I think I had a feeling at the time, it was a queer place to go, I was just wondering whether some high flown Germans were there at the time. I mean why pick on that place? Anyway we did that and eh [interrupt].
CB: Had you done any of those before?
RC: We had one or two, we had one in Holland [?] airfield.
CB: With the same ordnance or the same, material in other words napalm or did you use bombs?
RC: No it wasn’t napalm, no napalm had only come in later on in the war I think.
CB: So you were bombing as well?
RC: Yes.
CB: And what else did you do?
RC: I remember one of them said he hit, there was a fellow going across the aerodrome in a steam roller, one of the Huns, he gave that a quick burst, I said, 'oh well that’s rotten isn't it really' [laughs], oh dear [pause]. No I just had this one flight with another pilot in the end.
CB: So the war came to an end but you still were flying, what did you do after the end of hostilities?
RC: Well I went on various courses and things, I went to a place called Rattlesden and there was a bit of a revolt there, a revolution there by the, by the air force. I think I was, I was the station adjutant to, I was a bit worried at the time, this recruit centre. There some under eh, I think the staff had been treated badly but I, anyway fortunately it was cleared up, you know.
CB: In what way, what was that to do with?
RC: Shall I show you something?
CB: Yeah, but this place was not flying this was not a flying station?
RC: No it was a recruit centre.
CB: So who was misbehaving?
RC: Well it must have been the staff I suppose, I don’t think it would be the recruits.
CB: What were they trying to do, put them through the mill?
RC: Trying to get better, better conditions. Then they went out to [background noise] Egypt I was supposed to be in charge of the base personnel office there [indistinct] in Cairo [hesitation]. Where's my paper?
CB: I'll pause there just for a moment.
CB: Ok we are restarting now, so the war is over and Roger is doing courses, so what was the first course you did after flying?
RC: After the war you mean, yes, well my brother was a chartered accountant and he lent me some books about it. And eh, I got this book on auditing and I found it quite interesting, including the legal cases that had, taken, taken place and eh. So I went on this three year training eh to be a chartered accountant [pause].
CB: And you were an articled clerk were you, so you got paid in that time?
RC: Yes, well I got a grant yes, £170 a year I remember it very well, lived quite nicely on it, £170 a year you wouldn’t believe it would you, so I was pleased to get through that examination or the intermediate and the final, especially the taxation. I don’t know how I got through it but still I did somehow. So, then I was looking for my first position. I think that was at um a job with the National Gas and Oil Engine Company in Lancashire, Ashton-under-Lyme it was the Bush Group, do you remember the Bush Group?
CB: Yeah.
RC: And eh, I was very happy there but eventually we ran into financial troubles with the Group and I managed to get a post in Leeds with a motor distributor, through my brother and I was with them till about 1974, then they ran into financial trouble as well. Not my fault I hope [laughs] no it was, the company was with the, British Leyland and, they had, they had the troubles, that was leading to our redundancy really, very sad. But I suppose their range of motor cars wasn’t as good as some of the Japanese and so on. Then I had a multitude of funny jobs.
CB: Such as?
RC: Well I was really, sort of, I was working through an agency you know, they would find the jobs for me and, eventually I got a post at Castle Howard in Yorkshire as accountant there for, which was very interesting because of the people involved, of course the Howards were the [pause] in charge of the Castle and its various commercial opportunities.
CB: Including TV, didn’t they use it for Brideshead Revisited?
RC: Yes they did, yes, yes that’s right that was after my time though, or was it before, oh it would be before wouldn’t it.
CB: So in the end you decided to hang up your tax book and retire.
MC: Yes.
RC: Yes, yes that’s right yes.
CB: You were an FCA I take it?
RC: Yes.
CB: And when did you have the delightful pleasure of meeting Margaret, how was that?
RC: Well that was at a film at, Moortown Golf Club, I jokingly [laughs] funnily enough I had a speech about a month ago didn’t I, I jokingly said I met Margaret on the 27th of September 1953 at 7 o’clock, they used to have a film about the professional competition at Wentworth didn't they Margaret, that was it, at the club and that’s how I met Margaret at this.
CB: Never looked back.
MC: [laughs]
RC: [laughs] No, no we've had a lot of fun certainly.
CB: And you continued with golf have you, all your life?
RC: Yes, yes.
CB: Did you take it up in the RAF?
RC: Golf?
CB: Yeah.
RC: Well I played at Newcastle, when we were up there but it was just a fun weekend, day off you know, sort of business, excuse me a minute [background noises].
CB: Yes, we are just doing a retake because, Roger found that there was surplus, a, shortage of navigators and he ended up making a choice himself, tell us how that came about and what — what happened?
RC: Well I had met John Thatcher at the OTU and, we got on very well really he was, he was, senior to me he had done a lot of hours flying and eh obviously very competent and eh there were two other prospective, one was a Squadron Leader Morley, I remember him who I could have flown with and this chap Banbury was his navigator and the navigator said to me, having a meal before we went on this trip, he said 'I won’t be coming back tonight, I feel, I feel awful' and I am afraid he didn’t you know, he must have been shot down.
CB: Did he have a premonition, is that what it was?
RC: Yes that’s it, yes.
CB: So there was a choice of three pilots.
RC: Em Yes.
CB: And
RC: Well it seems a bit bombastic to say that doesn't it, but I mean, I didn’t really approach the other two anyhow, they were looking for somebody.
CB: Was John Thatcher a creamy? Is that why he had been on training earlier?
RC: A creamy?
CB: Creamies were the people who were so good at flying they were immediately put onto training new pilots.
RC: Yes, yes.
CB: Was that his route?
RC: It must have been really, I don’t, he never talked about it.
CB: And after, so you were on the raid with this chap who had the premonition, what was your reaction when you got back?
RC: Well I suppose I was only twenty wasn't I, nineteen, hits you very hard doesn’t it?
CB: What was the loss rate like on Mosquitos compared with the heavy bombers?
RC: Oh it wasn't anything like, no [indistinct] was terrible, the chances they had wasn't it in the Lancaster really. I think they only did twenty five if they got through that it was a miracle really. They had one chance in three of getting, was it, I don’t know.
CB: Well they did a, the tour was thirty.
RC: Thirty was it?
CB: What em, what experience did you have of flak because the Lancasters were the main recipients of the flak but you're in the stream so to what extent did you get flak?
RC: No, no, no we could avoid that alright [laughs]. When we were — if we were, like that Danish trip, the flak from the airport [?], choomp, choomp, choomp, it went past you, it was amazing really. You couldn’t believe you got away with it [laughs].
CB: The German Air Force, airfield defence was 20, 20, quadruple 20 millimetre canon wasn’t it, so that’s what you were up against was it? But you didn’t get hit at all.
RC: No we didn’t, no.
CB: Were you in the lead or where were you in the um?
RC: We wouldn’t be in the lead, no. But I remember I went round two or three times and Pilot Officer Rhymer[?] said 'the bombs have gone, what shall we do, shall we go back home?' I said 'yes please' [laughs].
CB: Why did you have to go round three times?
RC: Well I suppose [interrupted]
CB: Before you dropped the canisters was it?
RC: I don’t remember whether it was the first run or the second one he dropped them. One bloke came back with his bombs, he wasn’t very welcome when he got to the station [interruption]. He had some technical failure with the, with the bombing.
CB: They wouldn’t release, did you do a strafing job against the ground, guns?
RC: Yes as far as I remember yes, yes.
CB: Because your fire power was fairly devastating in itself was it?
RC: Wonderful aircraft.
CB: Ok we're stopping again for a moment [background noises].
RC: [indistinct] Line-shooting.
CB: Now we are just going back to one of Roger's experiences when he was ill in the aeroplane because his oxygen mask became detached and it leads to what?
RC: It says here 'spoken by F/O Calvert'.
CB: What's the heading of this?
RC: About line-shooting, on the squadron [?].
CB: Line-shooting, right.
RC: 'Spoken by F/O Calvert' in brackets, ‘having failed to connect his oxygen tube on ops', the only time I get to sleep is when I am on ops witness [?] Flight Lieutenant Bates [laughs], oh dear.
CB: What other ones have you got, so you were branded for life, what others have you got there, line-shoots?
RC: Jock Barriman [?], wonder if there are any other pilots of my vintage still flying [laugh ]. It’s funny here, Willy Rhymer[?], that’s the chap I was flying with, the last one. You could almost hear the tracer sizzling as it went past [laughs].
CB: This is the ground attack job.
RC: Yes, they are listed there [background noises].
CB: Thanks, and just going back again um we are in a situation where operations have finished because the war in Europe has finished, you are then put on some training courses, what were those. Nothing to do with flying?
RC: No, well one was an admin course at eh, Hereford, Credenhill. Then I went on one of them on moral leadership in the Isle of Wight of all places. Then I went on another admin course, I think they were just waiting 'till they were able to get, get, get us moved on out of the forces really. One was at some HQ, I don’t remember that but.
CB: And then you went out to Cairo, why was that and what did you do?
RC: Oh, we went out by rail over France and then across the Mediterranean, in a ship. And I was in Cairo and I was in charge of the base personnel office, which was a bit much at my age, 21 or whatever it was. Anyway we were in charge of moving the RAF personnel round Africa, if they were short of cooks or something like that, we moved a cook across from Cairo when they came in, down there you see.
CB: Whereabouts in Africa would you send people?
RC: Well they were more or less in Kenya and places like that [pause].
CB: So it was a, you were doing postings?
RC: Postings, yes.
CB: What else?
RC: That’s about it really, it was a funny job because you were only working about four or five hours a day.
CB: So did you start early in the morning or how did that work?
RC: Well you worked about eight until two, something like that and then the day was free which was very good because you could go down to Gazera [?] Sporting Club and....
CB: Play golf?
RC: Well you could play golf if you had any clubs but used to, nice to watch the cricket and that sort of thing. It was a lovely place.
CB: Swimming?
RC: Yes um, um.
CB: How long were you there [pause] roughly?
RC: I should think about a couple of months [pause] April to July.
CB: ‘40?
RC: ‘46 [indistinct] year before I left, yes.
CB: So how did you know that you were going to be demobbed?
RC: Well um, I think there was a circular around about it and, [pause] I can’t really remember to be honest.
CB: That’s ok, so where, you were demobbed as soon as you got back to the UK.
RC: Yes.
CB: And that's when you took up your accountancy training?
RC: Well my parents lived in Bath and I was demobbed to Bath and then when the, eh that period was over I had a week or two to find some work. I came up to Leeds, to work with my brother in Leeds, articled.
CB: What had he done in the war?
RC: He was in the Royal Ordnance Company.
CB: He got out quicker, he got out of the army quicker than you.
RC: He was in the south of England and he got about fifteen embarkation leaves before he went on the invasion. And, he was in charge of a beach detachment in — in France, he was lucky too.
CB: OK. We're going to pause for a moment [background noises].
CB: We're talking about LMF because jokingly people had referred to it earlier. Roger what was your understanding and experience of people in that category?
RC: Well I think there was only one fellow as far as I remember who got to such a stage he just couldn’t carry on and um it was difficult for the forces to have sympathy with him in a way but you know he just broke down and, and I don’t know what happened to him, he left the force I think, for medical treatment, but that’s very rare really.
CB: What was his role and rank?
RC: Oh I don’t know, I think he'd be a, I think he'd be a navigator but I'm not sure.
CB: Was he commissioned or was he?
RC: I think he was a sergeant.
CB: Right, and do you know how they dealt with it?
RC: No I don’t, no.
CB: But there was a perception of how it was dealt with what was that?
RC: Well they were probably a bit hard at the time I suppose, I suppose they had to be really, hadn’t they? No, they more or less um nothing [background noises] like being in a Lancaster is it, that must have been awful.
CB: So you got on extremely well with your pilot.
RC: Yes.
CB: John Thatcher, in the squadron what was the general, what was the general [background noises] em attitude?
RC: Can we -
CB: I'll stop. We're restarting now because we've been talking about a lot of things and in this case we're just going back to the kill that Roger did with John, his pilot, um on that particular evening. So is it a summer time event.
RC: Well, I've got the minutes.
CB: Oh ok.
RC: I’ve got the, turn it off.
CB: So what we're talking about is how this particular combat mission worked, so you're in the bomber stream and then what?
RC: I just picked up this AI —
CB: On your radar —
RC: Yes and we turned and followed, followed it behind, underneath, for a while until we'd identified the aircraft, John said it was an M110 and I thought it was too, so he gave it a burst or two bursts —
CB: At what range would you normally expect to be opening fire?
RC: I don’t know but it'd be a few hundred, couple of hundred yards was it, I don’t know, I can’t remember, probably says in the record there.
CB: Yeah, ok, and um so, why were there two bursts were they fairly quick succession or was it that the first one didn’t work.
RC: No I, I think they both worked yes, yes.
CB: And what happened to the aircraft?
RC: It just went down, it disappeared, we didn’t see it crash so we couldn’t really claim it as a, had to claim it as, damaged, yes.
CB: Did it blow up?
RC: No not that I, no it was just burning as it went down.
CB: Right, and then what did you do, keep going or turn away, or what did you do?
RC: We turned away presumably, yes. It’s so long ago I can’t remember.
CB: Yeah, of course, that’s okay, now going back to your original training, how did the training work when you were in Canada? So you come out as a raw navigator, trainee. What did they do there was ground school and flying so how did that work?
RC: Well we were in the middle of the big lakes and we went out on these daily trips as far as I remember, probably two of us went, two trainees but we gave the more or less directions obviously in training for the round trip and we would [voice fades away] [interrupted].
CB: So you would have ground school before you started flying would you?
RC: Yes, yes.
CB: What did that entail?
RC: Sigh [long pause] I suppose we had to plan the trip [laugh] and, now I am lost.
CB: What I meant was that they teach you how to navigate so how do they teach you how to navigate, because it's more than just drawing a line isn’t it?
RC: Em, well of course I picked up a lot at Torquay at the initial training wing at Torquay really about navigation [interruption].
CB: OK, so how did that work?
RC: It was just putting it into action wasn’t it.
CB: Oh I see right.
RC: You know, in flight mm, mm.
CB: So how often did you, 'cause you were there for several months, so there must have been a lot to do?
RC: Yes, daily, it'd be daily I suppose.
CB: How long were the flights?
RC: [long pause] Looks as if it was about three hours, up to three hours.
CB: Would they, yeah?
RC: Yes, yes.
CB: Shared between the two of you on the same aeroplane?
RC: Pin pointing, astro-compass fixes and WV’s, what’s that? [pause]
CB: That’s using the sextant.
RC: Yes.
CB: How did you get on with that?
RC: We never used it with Gee [interruption].
CB: Ah.
RC: Never used it. Familiarisation flights, then we got onto nights eventually after a couple of months we started flying at night, [long pause].
CB: Ok, so shall we just go back to when you did the initial training so the ground school is what you were saying was at Torquay is that right?
RC: Yes, yes.
CB: So that's where you learned the rudiments of navigation.
RC: That’s right, yes.
CB: How did they do that?
RC: [long pause] I can’t remember, I know it’s terrible isn’t it.
CB: That’s okay, it doesn’t matter.



Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Roger Calvert,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 5, 2024,

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