Interview with Langford William Green

Title

Interview with Langford William Green

Description

Langford "Joe" Green was born in Wales but moved to Marlow, Buckinghamshire with his family when he was still a child. He worked in a factory from the age of 14 until he joined the Royal Air Force. After training he flew operations as an air gunner with 218 Squadron RAF Chedburgh. On a cross country training exercise, his aircraft suffered engine failure and the crew were told to bale out. Only the bomb aimer managed to exit the aircraft and the pilot landed with the rest of the crew on board. He also discusses the corkscrew manoeuvre.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-04-28

Contributor

Julie Williams

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

01:23:26 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AGreenLW160428

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

CB: Right. My name is Chris Brockbank and today we’re in Marlow and the date is the 28th of April 2016. We’re interviewing Langford Green known as Joe and we’re going to talk about his experiences as a wireless operator/air gunner particularly in 218 squadron. So, Joe, what was the earliest recollection you had of life and what did your parents do?
LJG: Well, we were poor. I remember that. It was just an ordinary life really. Yeah. I mean I had two brothers and a sister older than me and we lived in Wales and then when the job finished when I was four I think, we moved to Marlow. My father was working in [?] in Pontypridd working and the job was finishing so he got on his pushbike, cycled all the way to Marlow because I had an uncle living here on, he was a signalman on Great Western Railway and he put my father up for the night. He got a job and a house and cycled back again and we came back on the train ‘cause dad was only allowed one ticket a year. The posh people on the railway could get have than one but because he was a labourer we only had the one. And we moved to Marlow in 1927. I went to school at the Church of England school. Infant school in Oxford Road and then the big school and at fourteen I left school. Went to work in High Wycombe in a factory. Just an ordinary, everyday, like everyone else did. There wasn’t, there was very little employment in Marlow. I mean we had a brewery. And we had a few independent builders but they only employed a few people. They didn’t do many apprenticeships so my father got me a job as an apprentice in to marquetry and then of course in ‘39 the war started so that was the end of my working career. The war started when I was just over sixteen you see. The company went on to war work. They were doing the parts for aeroplanes I think. They were doing big bases anyway so and then I got fed up with that. I got away with it and joined the air force. Another experience.
CB: Why did you join the RAF and not the other?
LG: Well I thought it was the best one to do. I wanted to fly actually but I’m afraid my education wasn’t good enough to be a pilot or a navigator or anything like that but I went to Wycombe to try and join up and they said you’ve to go to Reading. I’d never been to Reading in my life. Didn’t even know how to get there. Then luckily I the sergeant who looked after, the police sergeant who looked after me when we was couriers he said, ‘Well get on a bus to Reading and ask the conductor where Broad Street is,’ and that’s where I went. I joined up that particular day. I had all my checks, exams and I come away with the kings shilling and I’d signed up for the air force as an air gunner. They said go home and we’ll send you a letter or a telegram to tell you where to go and that happened about two or three days later and there again I got this telegram report to Lords Cricket Ground. I mean I’d heard Lords Cricket Ground on the wireless but I didn’t, had no idea where it was. Hadn’t got the faintest. So back I went to see my police sergeant. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘No problem Joe,’ he said, ‘Get on the train at Marlow, you get off at Paddington and you’ll find a big red sign that says RTO, Rail Transport Officer. Go and ask him and he’ll tell you exactly how to get there. In fact,’ he said, ‘He might even send someone with you.’ So goes to Paddington, saw this officer and he put a squaddie with me. He said, ‘Take this gentleman down, show him how to get on, which train to get on to and where to get off.’ I finished up at Swiss Cottage which was the station nearest to Lords and I was there for about three weeks having all the injections, got my uniform. I lived in one of those big flats just outside Lords Cricket Ground. We had a room about three times the size of this, two of us. Lap of luxury. I thought this is great [laughs] but it soon changed. Yeah. Yeah I was there in London for about three weeks. Yes. Quite enjoyable. And then we were put on a train at Euston to Brignorth to have initial training. Then I, I was there for like five or six weeks I suppose. Waiting to come home and they said you’ll get a telegram report to gunnery school and there again had the same problem. You’ve got to go to Northern Ireland. How do I get to Northern Ireland? So when I got up to, I got the travel warrant. I went and saw this officer again. He said, ‘Oh that’s no problem. Euston station,’ he said, ‘And the train will be there.’ he said, ‘It takes you to Stranraer so you see, goes to Glasgow first and then goes back again,’ and off I went. Quite enjoyable it was too. I was a bit frightened at first. It was a long way away from home. Of course it wasn’t all that exciting but you do whatever they ask you, muck in and make the best of it. I quite enjoyed it in the end. I was there a few weeks and then I qualified, got my three stripes and my wing, came home and got another telegram to report to OTU at Peplow. That was a great bit that because you get there and you’ve got masses of people walking about. Pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, wireless ops, air gunners trying to, joined up to make a crew. They weren’t getting at you, just try and find yourself people you like. I, I met one of the air gunners that I trained with in Northern Ireland. We walked around together and finished up with the crew that we got. It was great. Found it a bit strange because the navigator was a pilot officer. All the rest were sergeants. The pilot, skipper Alfie Kemp was a sergeant, the bomb aimer was a sergeant but Dickie. Dickie Ball, the navigator, was a flying officer, a pilot officer but we got on well. He was alright. And as I say we done our training there and we were posted to Sandtoft to convert from Wellingtons. Twin engines in to four engines. We started on Halifaxes actually. They were, you know, clapped out old planes that weren’t fit for service but were good enough for training but as I say we did have one hair raising experience if you want to hear about that. We were doing a cross county on a Halifax and we were diverted because of fog. It really was, really foggy and we were diverted to Stradishall, or Mildenhall, I can’t remember, and we were losing height. Two engines. One engine had gone and then another engine went and we got on to traffic control and said put it in [George] head for the North Sea and bale out. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a Halifax, there is an escape hatch in the front by the, between the, in front of the pilot, behind the bomb aimer and of course everything in the air force is done in routine. Bomb aimer goes out first cause he’s in the front and he goes out first and he goes head first, and the navigator goes out but unfortunately to get open this hatch you have to lift up the navigators seat ‘cause he’s facing crossways and Dicky Ball goes out feet first but his harness catches on the seat so there he is hanging outside on his harness and the door shut and of course luckily the skipper called us up the two gunners have an escape hatch at the back. He says, ‘Don’t go. We’ve got a problem.’ So we managed to get Dickie back in alright and by that time we were down less than a thousand feet which is far too low to bailout and with a bit of luck we saw a Lancaster with the wheels down so we followed him in. Got told off mind you but we got down on the ground safe and sound but the bomb aimer was in the police station at Peterborough [laughs] trying to convince them that he wasn’t a spy, he’d baled out. ‘Where’s the rest of them?’ ‘Don’t know,’ he said. Quite exciting isn’t it? But there again we got through it. And then we converted on to Lancs which was a blessing as far as I was concerned ‘cause I didn’t like the Halifax at all. I didn’t like a Lanc with the radial engines but I did like the Lanc. Yeah. It was such a beautiful aeroplane to be in. It flew like a fighter, like a fighter plane. We enjoyed it. And we gradually graduated. We were posted to 218 squadron which had moved from Downham Market to Methwold and when we got there they had moved to Chedburgh and that was where we spent the rest of our, the war. I’d done my first op. Munchen Gladbach I think, 1st of May, 1st of February 1945. Done a few more till the war finished. We were a distinctive squadron because we were one of the first squadrons to do Operation Manna. That was on the 29th April. The week before the war was officially finished. Dropping food on Holland. That was quite cheering. The war was still on officially. The High Command gave us permission to fly. We had to fly a direct route. They told us which way to come in and I think it was Rotterdam the first one. We’d done quite a few. Three I think because we were due to go on leave but because of this we, it was postponed and so we did have our leave in the end. They call it a week’s leave but you travel on a Thursday and go back on a Wednesday which is seven days really but it’s only five days at home isn’t it? Even from Bury St Edmunds it was a long, a long day to get there, get home to Marlow. Get in to London, across to Paddington and hopefully you’d get a faster train but that wasn’t always the case and when we went back off leave we done what was called Operation Exodus bringing POWs back. Twenty four in the base of a Lanc, Sat on the floor with their legs apart. Two rows of twelve. Yeah. And that’s where I finished my flying career. Chedburgh.
CB: What did you do after the war? When were you demobbed?
LJG: 1947. May 1947
CB: So what did you do?
LJG: Pardon?
CB: Between, what did you do between the end of hostilities and being demobbed?
LJG: We were given an option what we could train and I decided I’d be a storekeeper. Nice quiet job. So I went to Blackpool. Done about a three month course I suppose and graduated from that I suppose they call it and went home and said report to North Weald and I flew out to Singapore via Karachi and I spent the rest of my service career in Singapore. RAF Seletar till May the 9th. I got home and was demobbed. Went to Blackpool to be demobbed. Yeah. Great.
CB: Then what?
LJG: Well then I had a job to settle down. It’s such a different world, you know, coming back in to the real world. You had everything done for you in the air force. In Singapore I was a flight sergeant then. Got reasonably well paid. Everything found. Come home. Tried to find a job anything like it but couldn’t you know. Eight or nine pound a week was a lot you could get. Then you had to travel to get it. I had loads of jobs but none of them, I went into Parker Knolls in Wycombe being a store keeper but it didn’t last long. I used to cycle to Slough and I got a job in [Citroen?] cars being a storekeeper there and I moved from there into repair work in the factory all the small [?] I used to have. Used to repair them. Odd jobs. Then 1960 and I was getting fed up with it anyway. It was a long cycle ride and it was, the bus fare took a lot out of the pay packet. So my wife was working at [Broomways?] in High Wycombe then when it was a big factory and she said there’s plenty of jobs going over there. Go and try and get a job there which I did and I was there sixteen, seventeen years. Then I found I was getting on in years and I worked in a heavy division in [Broomway?] big compressors. Twenty six, twenty seven inch pistons. Had a job to lift them in and I got a job, oh I went to a company in Cressex called [?] Spark as a fitter, a general fitter but I was only there three years and it was taken over by an American company and most of them were made redundant. Fortunately, my luck was with me again. My brother was a union man. He got me a job at Harrison’s which used to be the sand factory in Wycombe and that’s where I stayed until I retired in 1948. Yeah. And that is my career as such and since then I’ve done nothing really exciting.
CB: So what age did you retire?
LJG: 65.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: So not 1948.
LJG: Hmmn?
CB: Not 1948.
LJG: [laughs] No, 1988 sorry.
CB: ‘88.
LJG: Yeah sorry I apologise. Yeah 1988.
CB: Ok. What was your most memorable experience of flying in the war?
LJG: [laughs] well the most frightening was Dresden I think. It was such a long way. It was over nine hours and when you think flying don’t start until the wheels are off the ground. When the skipper says, ‘Undercarriage up.’ That’s when you start flying. That’s when the time starts but you could have been in the plane a half an hour. I mean you get in, make sure everything alright, taxi around, you could, that could take you ten minutes and the same coming back you know as soon as the navigator feels the wheels hit the ground then you stop flying but you’ve got a long way to go back to dispersal and sort things out.
CB: Right.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: So what was frightening about Dresden?
LJG: Well I think it was just tiredness you know and –
CB: What do you remember about the raid itself?
LJG: Well, that was, that seemed to be quite easy but we did have a scare. I suppose you know that the actions of a pilot if you’re attacked by a fighter is dive and corkscrew.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Right. Well, George, the rear gunner thought he saw a Messerschmitt so he said dive port so down we go but nobody’s ready for it you know so all the papers the navigator’s got – all over the place. And he brought us back by the stars which was great but other than that we had quite an uneventful, just a job really. Just get in, go over there, drop the bombs, and come home again, you know. Go and have a drink.
CB: On how many occasions did you shoot at another aircraft?
LJG: Never. I never fired my guns once.
CB: Why was that?
LJG: No need. We only have to defend. Not to attack. Try to get out of trouble if you could rather than look in to it you know.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: My skipper was married and he wanted to get home to his wife [laughs]. No chances. No.
CB: No.
LJG: No it really was –
CB: Did you get attacked and hit on any occasion?
LJG: We did have one which only affected me. I suppose other people will tell you towards the end of the war the Germans didn’t attack individual aircraft they had a barrage of anti-aircraft guns and they decided to lose, let the bullets explode at a certain height so you had to go through it. That’s why we staggered at different bombing heights. Halifaxes went in lower because they couldn’t manage the height and we went in higher but they’d alternate it. Hopefully we could get away with it you know and that and so the explosion on hitting you, an explosion at a certain height. Well I had one. An 88 and through the fuselage at the floor, between my legs, between the guns, out the top and never went off.
CB: Oh a complete shell.
LJG: A complete shell.
CB: Yeah. And how did you know it was an 88?
LJG: By the size of the hole.
CB: Right.
LJG: Well that’s what, I’m only going with what the ground staff said.
CB: Yeah. Yeah. So this is the flak box -
LJG: Yeah. Oh yeah.
CB: That you’re talking about.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: And their detonation is based on a time.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: At height.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: To hit the height. Yeah. So it went wrong.
LJG: Yeah I mean when you get a raid of six or seven hundred aeroplanes you probably have four or five different heights. The first one would go in at say twenty thousand feet. The next hundred would go in at eighteen thousand feet and I think we were one of the lucky ones. It went straight through and out the other end.
CB: Did the, you were in the dark so it’s difficult to see but could you see effectively when you were approaching a flak box?
LJG: No. No. Only if it was I mean because me as mid upper I was always circulating.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: You know. George the rear gunner done ahead and below. Not so much above because he had a job to see above so I had the bits above and then I could, sometimes you could see it but often or not it was below you.
CB: Did you ever get attacked by a fighter from underneath?
LJG: No. No this one that George saw coming back from Dresden it was way up, you know. And he seemed to think it was coming towards us and then it veered away but we got away with it.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Unfortunately a lot of them didn’t but we did.
CB: Yeah. And as a crew how did you get on?
LJG: Great. We had a great time ‘cause funnily enough George, the rear gunner, lived at Clare and if you know that area at all in Suffolk Clare’s only about seven miles from Chedburgh.
CB: Right.
LJG: And the skipper had an old Austin 7.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: And the bomb aimer, the er flight engineer didn’t drink. He’d have a half a shandy last him all night. So he would buy his half a shandy, sit in the mess near the phone and near the phone was where battle orders went up the following day for the following either morning or night so we was off, we’d go down to Clare. Six of us in an Austin Ruby. If the weather was bad you stood on the running board if it was foggy and go down to George’s local and then when battle orders went up if we were on Don would give us, give us a ring. We’d say we’ll be in The Globe tonight or be in The Cock in Clare so he’d ring up, ‘Oh you’re not on tonight,’ so we’d stay there till one or 2 o’clock in the morning but we did get caught out once. I can’t think where it was we were going but it was we had a phone call at 7 o’clock to say, ‘You’re not on, there’s a raid, a daylight raid, take-off is at 6 o’clock but you’re not on it, we’re not on it.’ He rings up at 11 o’clock to say, ‘We are on it,’ so we had to get back, try and have a shower, sober yourself up and do a trip at about 6 o’clock the following morning. But that was life you know.
CB: When the battle orders went up how did the briefing work?
LJG: Hmmn?
CB: When the battle orders went up how did your briefing work?
LJG: Well -
CB: Because some of the crew were briefed differently -
LJG: Yeah.
CB: From the others. So how did that work?
LJG: Oh you were woken up by one of the people on guard, you signed a book to say you had, you’d been woken up. You had your breakfast. Then go to briefing. Then you get dressed afterwards. I mean the, it was only the two gunners really that had to get dressed as such. We wore a kapok suit with electric wires down it, and slippers with electric wires in it and gloves, the same. All connected up in your boots and, but the others they just wore the uniform.
CB: So the, how did the electric system work? You plugged it in how? ‘Cause you’re the mid upper. How did you plug that in?
LJG: Well each engine done something. I can’t remember which one was which.
CB: Right.
LJG: One done the electrics. One done the hydraulics but it was great because it wasn’t very comfortable in the mid upper turret. It wasn’t a very big comfortable seat. I mean George was alright in the rear turret. He had quite a cushy, and all this but my seat it reminded me of a child’s swing and that’s about what it was. A piece about so big. Fifteen by eighteen by six padded and you dropped it down off the hook to get in and you stood up and you hooked it back up again and got on it but it wasn’t very comfortable. Especially a trip like Dresden. Nine hours or something. No. But there we go. We got it.
CB: Just going back to the briefing. The pilot and the navigator would be briefed together would they? And how -
LJG: We’d all be briefed together.
CB: All briefed together.
LJG: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: Right.
LJG: Well in my day anyway.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: So you come out, you go into a large room.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Where the initial briefing is carried out. Is that right?
LJG: Yeah. The -
CB: All the crews go in.
LJG: At the end of the hall it would be a big map.
CB: Right.
LJG: With the route.
CB: The route marked on it.
LJG: The route from Chedburgh to where we’re going to bomb.
CB: Right.
LJG: And then, I mean the squadron commander which in my case was warrant officer er Wing Commander Smith. He would tell you which way you were going and which way you were coming back and he’d ask then for questions from experienced pilots that was it, was anything going to be made better or easier. All we do is get there. I mean some places flak was quite heavy. Some it was quite light you know so it was, and then of course the weather man would get up and have a chat but he was never very good [laughs]. Our weather was more predictable from George’s parents. They had a small holding in Clare and he would tell you, you know what it was going to be tomorrow. Over here anyway and he was never wrong but sometimes the weather man got it wrong but you just accepted it didn’t you?
CB: What sort of mistakes would he make?
LJG: Well I mean he would tell you you were going to have clear skies and no cloud at all and when you got there you couldn’t see a thing but of course you must remember that in ‘45 a lot of bombing was done on flares and bombs with colours.
CB: Markers. The markers.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Yes.
LJG: So it didn’t really matter much about the weather being bad. You could, you could see a yellow marker at twenty thousand feet even if it was foggy you know so you had a good idea and of course towards the middle of April, February, March and April H2S was coming in which was another godsend. That was the, helpful for the bomb aimer wasn’t it? Yeah.
CB: Ok. Now you said you did three sorties in Operation Manna which was supplying food to the Dutch civilians. Yeah.
LJG: That’s right.
CB: Because they were starving.
LJG: I’m sure -
CB: So what, what how did that work? Initially, as you said there was no agreement with the Germans so how did it work over here? In other words what was the briefing for that because there was no agreement?
LJG: Well the, it was packed in sacks in the bomb bay and we were given a special route and a height and a speed so, we, it was quite an easy route really. I think the first one -
CB: I wonder, I wonder what you expected because if the Germans hadn’t given the ok at that point what was the crew’s reaction to the lack of authority to do it?
LJG: Well, they were, I think most of them were concerned because as I say never trust a German anyway but I think one or two did shoot at us but it never affected us. No. But we were only at about five hundred feet I think or probably a bit lower. It was quite low and I know the Lanc is quite good but it wasn’t designed for low level bombing. I mean, I know they done the Dambusters but that was exceptional. You couldn’t do that all the time.
CB: No.
LJG: I don’t think. They were really a high level bombing aircraft. Yeah.
CB: Now. What sort of height were you dropping?
LJG: Where?
CB: When you were dropping the food.
LJG: Manna. Manna.
CB: Manna. What sort of height were you flying?
LJG: Anything under five hundred feet.
CB: And do you know what speed you were flying at?
LJG: Speed?
CB: Ahum.
LJG: Just above stalling speed. About a hundred miles an hour.
CB: Oh really.
LJG: Yeah. Well we weren’t sure whether, what damage we could do ‘cause most of it was loose stuff you know. Flour and things like that. Potatoes. I think there was some canned stuff but they were concerned about it. Yeah. That was my first one. May the, April 29th I’m sure it was.
CB: So you did three of those? To different places were they or -
LJG: Yeah.
CB: The same place?
LJG: Yeah well I have got them down here somewhere. Here we are. Two to The Hague and one to Rotterdam. The first one was Rotterdam. It’s only just over three hours there and back.
CB: Ok. Now you then talked about Exodus which was the repatriation of prisoners of war.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Where did you pick those prisoners up?
LJG: Juvincourt.
CB: Where’s that?
LJG: In France.
CB: Right.
LJG: That’s the only airport or aerodrome capable of taking the Lanc.
CB: Whereabouts is that in France?
LJG: I’ve no idea. No idea.
CB: No.
LJG: But I’m sure it was Juvincourt.
[pause]
CB: I’ll just stop the tape a mo and we can take a look.
[machine paused]
CB: Right.
LJG: Westcott.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Dunsfold.
CB: Yeah. So can we just, go over that? When you were doing the Exodus you you flew each time into Juvincourt.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: In France.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: And then you flew where? What were the places you flew to?
LJG: That was it.
CB: So -
LJG: Tangmere was the first one.
CB: Ok.
LJG: Ford.
CB: Which was -
LJG: On the south coast.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: As well, well they were all on the south coast weren’t they? Ford was the third one. Westcott was the fourth one.
CB: Near Aylesbury.
LJG: Dunsfold.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: And Oakley.
CB: Yeah. Ok. North of Oxford. Yes.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: And how many, how many prisoners were they and what type of prisoners did you take each time?
LJG: Well they were all in fairly good condition. Well they had to be, you know, fit. Really. Well not really fit but they had to be reasonable to take the flight you know.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: We didn’t have oxygen masks for everybody so we had to keep under eight thousand feet anyway so we used to come back at about three or four thousand feet.
CB: Would there be several aircraft together doing that or –
LJG: Pardon?
CB: Would you be with several other aircraft?
LJG: Oh yeah.
CB: At the same time.
LJG: Yeah there would be -
CB: So you’d fly a stream would you?
LJG: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: Right.
LJG: Quiet a stream of them actually. You had to be careful though because they were so keen, these POWs, to get home which was understandable and they used to wander about a bit and you know you can wander about too far in a Lancaster because we didn’t stop the engines.
CB: Right.
LJG: They were just ticking over but you could walk in to the prop and not know it you know and because it was my responsibility as, because I was the last one in you know.
CB: So what was your responsibility in that case?
LJG: Well, yeah.
CB: Was it, you’re responsible for loading up?
LJG: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: Ok. How many in the aircraft?
LJG: Twenty four.
CB: Ok.
LJG: Two rows of twelve
CB: Yeah. Just sitting on what?
LJG: They sat on the floor, legs apart so they got two rows together. Yeah.
CB: And how long were the flights?
LJG: Well -
CB: Roughly.
LJG: An hour and a half.
CB: Right. Ok.
LJG: Two hours.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Nothing much. That was getting there and coming back was that much.
CB: So when you got in did you get up in to your turret or where did you go?
LJG: I was stood by the door.
CB: Right.
LJG: You know, to stop them, to stop them well walking about really. Had to be there. An aeroplane can be dangerous.
CB: LJG: Yeah.
So, yeah Ford and Tangmere. Tangmere was four hours there and back. Well from base to Juvincourt
CB: So the engines were running and you just, they climbed in while you were stationery.
LJG: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: With the engines running.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: I was the only one that got out.
CB: Were there any cases of accidents in that?
LJG: Not to my knowledge. No. No.
CB: Right.
LJG: As I say all the rest of the crew just stayed where they were you know. The marshall who was organising it used to bring them over in twenty fours and hand them over to me, you know.
CB: Right. Ok. We’ll stop there for a bit.
[machine pause]
CB: Right my witness today is Vic Truesdale and I’m just going to ask him whether he has any questions to put to Joe. Vic -
VT: I was just wondering what it was like, what difference there might have been for you between the daylight raids and the night time raids? I mean was it very routine and just the same more or less or -
LJG: Well I think we just took it in our stride you know. We looked on it mostly as a job. Yeah. A job that we wanted to do but I mean we were all volunteers and I didn’t mind daylights actually although we done as many nights as we did daylights although it was a daylight squadron. It was formed for that reason really. Well moved down to Suffolk because it had been all over the place hadn’t it? I think Woolford Lodge was a place it went to.
CB: Woolfox Lodge.
LJG: And -
CB: In Rutland.
LJG: Hmmn?
CB: Woolfox Lodge.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: In Rutland. Yeah.
LJG: Downham Market. They found Methwold a bit small I think.
CB: Did they?
LJG: Well even Chedburgh, I mean one of the runway was quite short really and it, you had to get really get back on the fence at the end of the runway to make sure you got off alright.
CB: Did you?
LJG: Yeah. There’s a lot weight. Especially if you’re going to the Ruhr. Happy Valley everybody called it. I mean probably have fourteen thousand pounds of bombs. A cookie. Four thousand pounder and ten one thousand pounders. I mean you couldn’t bring them back. You had to drop them somewhere. But I didn’t mind daylights actually.
VT: Forgive my ignorance but did you have an escort on the daylight raids?
LJG: No.
VT: No.
LJG: No. No. Only had each other.
VT: Yeah. And how much time you were actually up in the mid gun position when you were on a typical trip shall we say?
LJG: Well er-
VT: When did you go up and come down and things like that?
LJG: When did I get in?
VT: Yeah.
LJG: I was always the last one in the aeroplane. You got in an aeroplane in order. The bomb aimer went in first because his position was right in the front. Then the skipper. Then the flight engineer. Navigator. And wireless operator and he closed the bulkhead doors. That’s why they could wear their uniforms. That was the bit that was heated.
VT: Right.
LJG: Then George got in. Then I got in and then they would shut the door and take the ladder away but I always had to make sure the door was shut. Well I did anyway.
VT: The last one in.
LJG: And then you’d be sat in there and as I say well you’d be in there before the doors shut, the flight sergeant in charge of the aeroplane, to make sure it was alright had to sign the 600.
CB: Form 600.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: To say that everything was ok and the skipper was pleased with it and then, then you had to wait for permission to taxi although the engine was still going but they weren’t revving they were just ticking over. You were told to taxi around and the same coming back. I was always the first out then [laughs], it was, yeah.
CB: So when you were taxiing there would normally be a plane in front and another behind would there?
LJG: Oh yeah.
CB: And how long would it take to get from your dispersal to the end of the runway?
LJG: Well depends which runway you were using.
CB: Right, but on balance -
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Did you always park at the same place?
LJG: Oh yeah. Yeah.
CB: So -
LJG: Each aircraft had its own dispersal.
CB: Right.
LJG: You might not fly in the same aircraft as you can see by that it is R-Roger was our favourite but you had others as well and you took them back where you got them from. Then you’d wait then for the crew bus to take you back to debriefing.
CB: Afterwards.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Just quickly. That’s an interesting point. Why would one plane be more popular, your favourite, R-Roger than the others?
LJG: It was just one of those things I think. You know. You just felt, just felt good with it. I mean nobody like flying Q-Queenie and I don’t think it ever done a full op. There was always trouble with it but nobody could find out why. It was weird you know. You get used to an aeroplane. Plus we had it quite new anyway which was a blessing. R-Roger was very good. So -
VT: And would you like to say a bit more about the, I think you mentioned two targets including the mercy missions. Three or four targets. I just thought you might like to mention a few more.
LJG: I’m sorry I’ve got a problem with my hearing.
CB: Ok. Ok.
VT: Chris will relay -
CB: You did, when went on raids you went to different places so what were the targets that you hit? What are, what are the ones you’ve got there?
LJG: Oh yes.
[pause]
CB: Just looking in the logbook.
LJG: Yes.
[pause]
CB: That’s it.
LJG: As I said Munchen Gladbach was the first one.
CB: Yes.
LJG: That was a daylight. Then operation two was at Wiesbaden, a night drop. Operation three was Dortmund. That was a night drop. Then we done Dresden. Oh no we done one before. It was a daylight. [?]. Then we done Dresden which was nine and a half hours and the following night we done Chemnitz.
CB: Oh did you. Along the road.
LJG: That was nine hours.
CB: Nine hours as well.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Right. They were the two -
LJG: And then we done Dortmund. Another night one. Then we done Geilenkirchen. The next op we didn’t do because we got halfway there and we had engine trouble so we came back. Then the next one was a daylight to Dortmund on the sixth, in February. Datteln was another daylight raid. Geilenkirchen again. Dortmund again. Datteln again. Geilenkirchen again. [?] and that was the end of my bombing career. Oh no. Kirsburg and Kiel. Kiel was our last one. That was a day er a night trip.
CB: Kiel. Kiel was a major one at the end wasn’t it?
LJG: Yeah. Yeah that’s when they sunk the Gneisenau.
CB: Yeah. You mentioned Chemnitz. So that’s the same distance as going to -
LJG: Dresden.
CB: Dresden and they’re relatively close.
LJG: Well it’s in the same area.
CB: Exactly.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: So what was that one, how different was that from going to Dresden? Was it any different? Or -
LJG: No actually I think it was a better raid. We didn’t have any problems at all. Quite a nice raid actually. If you can call a bombing raid great.
CB: Well there were some experiences easier than others weren’t they?
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Why were some of the operations in daylight?
LJG: Well I think that’s what the war command wanted you know. I mean the Ruhr was very popular wasn’t it?
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Yeah. I mean which was the -
CB: Major place.
LJG: Major -
CB: Of military production.
LJG: Yeah. Yeah. We stopped that.
CB: Ok.
LJG: Kiel was a nice one.
CB: Yeah. But when you were in your daylight raids were there many fighters around?
LJG: We never ever saw one.
CB: No.
LJG: No. It wasn’t until almost at the end of the war we did, we saw a 262.
CB: Jet yes.
LJG: That was, I think that was in April.
CB: That was in daylight.
LJG: In daylight.
CB: LJG: Yeah.
LJG: But he was going the other way.
CB: Oh.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: And did he, did you see him shoot at anybody?
LJG: No. No. He was, he was above us actually but he was quite a long way away. As a matter of fact I wasn’t sure what it was and then George said, ‘Well that’s a, funny,’ he said, ‘I didn’t know they had a twin engine,’ he said, ‘But they got no propellers on it.’ He said, ‘It’s weird.’ And when we got back we reported it, ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘That’s a jet engine.’ But no.
CB: What were the levels of losses like in your time? What was the rate of loss of aircraft in your time?
LJG: Very good. Very good. In my, as I say we got there, we got there on January 1st actually but we didn’t start bombing until February the 1st and our last raid was in April. We had three losses I think. That was all.
CB: Right.
LJG: Yeah. Unfortunately, it was one that we’d done towards the end of the war experienced pilots and experienced crews which we were considered to be after we’d done a dozen ops or so if a new crew came onto the squadron we’d often take the pilot with us and we took this new pilot –
CB: Just the pilot.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Just to give them some experience you know and the following day we was on a daylight and we lost him.
CB: Oh.
LJG: That was his only op but we don’t know what happened to him ‘cause one minute he’s there, the next minute, ‘cause once you’re on the bombing run you’re interested in yourself, not anyone else and as I say my job is to scan the sky above us.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Or in front of us and when we got back he was reported missing. And we had one which was lucky in one respect. He had an engine cut out, port inner, course he veered over and he landed in a field between the WAAF quarters and the airmen’s mess. Well he crashed in a field but only the rear gunner got out.
CB: Oh.
LJG: When it blew up it shattered off the rear turret and he was found a few yards away. He had a lot of broken bones but he was still alive and I think he was still alive when I left the squadron but that’s the only two I can remember.
CB: Right.
[machine pause]
CB: Now we haven’t talked much about your wife so where did you meet your wife? Under what circumstances and when?
LJG: I walked her home from the pictures when I was on leave one day. But I didn’t see her then until after the war.
CB: Oh.
LJG: No. I had, well I don’t know, I had lots of girlfriends but I didn’t think it was wise, being in the job I was on, you know, survival rate was very bad wasn’t it? So I didn’t want to put her through -. It was after the war, one of the jobs I tried to do I worked for the War Graves Commission and she worked there in the office and we met from then, you know. That was in 1947 ‘48. I didn’t stay there long because although it was civil service it had lots of perks but didn’t have a very high salary.
CB: Now you mentioned very briefly about the police so when you left school then you worked in the daytime but you also did another job for the police. What was that?
LJG: Yeah. We was, well sort of couriers they were in case the phones broke down and they wanted to contact other people in the area we would cycle along with the messages.
CB: Right.
LJG: So we stayed in the police station two nights a week. There was quite a few of us.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: And we stayed there overnight in case. This was, well, the beginning of the war of course. Yeah. It was alright. Yeah.
CB: It gave you something to do that was useful.
LJG: Slept in the cells.
CB: I was just going to ask you that. Yeah.
LJG: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: Good. Just tell us about please about air gunnery. So when you were learning air gunnery how did that work? So from the beginning of being at Bishop’s Court what did you do. When you arrived, then what did you do?
LJG: Well our first training was with a twelve bore shotgun and -
CB: Yeah.
LJG: What do they call them?
VT: Clay -
CB: Clay pigeon.
LJG: Yeah. We had a few days of that and we had, I was very good at this, I could strip a Browning machine gun with my eyes shut and put it back together. Not everybody could do that and it was, I’d been there oh two or three weeks before we started flying you know and they flew, we had all Ansons to fly in, you know with a mid upper turret.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: And another aircraft would fly a drogue and there was usually four of us in there with, and we’d have a couple of hundred bullets all painted different colours so if you hit the drogue your colour would show up. Blue, yellow, greens and clear you’d all fire a couple of hundred rounds and come back, come back down again.
CB: Ok.
LJG: And they had, we also had cinecameras with, for fighter affiliation. Instead of -
CB: Ok.
LJG: Bullets you had a cinecamera.
CB: How did the fighter affiliation work? Who did what?
LJG: Well you had, you went into the turret with this special gun with adapted, with a film in it and it was usually an old Hurricane they had at Bishop’s Court attack you and you’d film it as if you were shooting it, you know.
CB: How did you get on with that?
LJG: Reasonable. It wasn’t until Peplow I think that I really got used to guns ‘cause we had Wellingtons there and George and I, the other gunner would take turns to be in the turret and then we had fighter affiliation, fighter affiliation there and I got better as the day went on, you know.
CB: In the fighter affiliation what exactly did the fighter do?
LJG: Well he would try and shoot you down. He would attack you as if he was going to shoot you down and you had to -
CB: So what angles would he come in at?
LJG: Hmmn?
CB: At what angles would he come in at?
LJG: All angles. All angles. Usually he’d try and get you in the sun but if you had a good skipper it didn’t matter but of course that was the most dangerous place isn’t it? In the sun.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: You don’t see them. Although we had sun, sun goggles you could put down it wasn’t the same.
CB: Did you have sun glasses or just sun goggles?
LJG: Well they were tinted goggles.
CB: Right.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Ok. Now when you’re flying as a gunner then you talked earlier about corkscrew which was getting the aircraft out of a jam, who would be calling the corkscrew normally?
LJG: Well, whichever gunner saw, saw something, you know.
CB: You said everybody was caught unawares by the rear gunner would they, would normally there would there be some kind of warning would they when it was far away?
LJG: Well -
CB: How would that work?
LJG: Well, it all depends on what you saw and when you saw it, you know. As I say we didn’t go looking for trouble. We tried to avoid it -
CB: Yeah.
LJG: If we could you know. I think that’s what George. I think he saw something and he wasn’t sure what it was and although he seemed to be going towards you from, but at an angle he decided he would corkscrew.
CB: Right.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: And how did the corkscrew work?
LJG: Well you turned in, you dived in to the direction that he was coming.
CB: Oh did you?
LJG: So if he was coming from the port quarter you would corkscrew port, roll, corkscrew starboard roll climb port climb starboard.
CB: Back on to where you were.
LJG: Back on to there. Hopefully you get back on the same course you know but we were fortunate we had a good navigator. He always got us there on time, always got us back on time.
VT: Did the Germans know that the corkscrew was a manoeuvre? A standard manoeuvre.
LJG: Oh yeah. Yeah. It was for a Lancaster. Yeah. I don’t know whether it would apply to a Halifax ‘cause they’re so different to fly. In fact my skipper reckoned the Lanc acted like a fighter pilot it was that easy to fly. Had lovely lines didn’t it?
CB: Brilliant. What was the combination of crew? Were they all British or –
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Where? Did you have a mixture?
LJG: Alfie Kemp was the skipper. He came from Bradford. Vic [Giles?] was the bomb aimer. He was an East Ender. Don Pryor was the flight engineer. He came from Peterborough. Dicky Ball, navigator. He came from Newton Abbott. Len Garnett, the wireless operator, he came from Leeds. I came from Marlow and George came from Clare. George Green, the rear gunner, came from Clare. As I say the six of us got on well. Well we got on alright with Don but he just –
CB: George Green did you say?
LJG: George Green. Yeah.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: No relation [laughs].
CB: No. What was the engineer’s name?
LJG: Engineer?
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Donald Pryor.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Donald Pryor.
CB: Yeah. Ok. On the social side Joe the crew all gelled together very well professionally.
LJG: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
CB: And on the social side but one of the crew was an officer so -
LJG: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: How did he fit in with all the sergeants?
LJG: Yeah. He fitted in quite well. Yeah. Well I think he realised he had to rough it like the rest of us if he wanted to get on. And he did. He was great. Dickie. Yeah.
CB: Were you all sergeants or flight sergeants or what were you?
LJG: We were all sergeants, the six of us, when we joined 218. Now Alfie got his flight sergeant [pause] Yes. When we joined Sandtoft Heavy Conversion Unit.
CB: Yeah he became -
LJG: He became a flight sergeant.
CB: A flight sergeant. That’s the pilot.
LJG: And he got his commission -
CB: Yeah. Oh.
LJG: Towards the end of the war. April I think or March. March I think.
CB: Ok. Now after the war Joe how did, did they crew keep in contact or what happened?
LJG: Richard, or Dickie as we always called him, we kept in touch for a few years. He was the best man at my wedding actually.
CB: Was he?
LJG: But in the end they all married and gone to different places. George moved to Lincoln, Vic moved to Ipswich. I don’t know what happened to the skipper. I think I’m the only one alive. It’s, it’s only Dickie, the navigator.
CB: Navigator.
LJG: I’m not sure of -
CB: Yeah. Ok.
LJG: But the skipper is gone.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: The bomb aimer is gone. The bomb aimer went quite young. The wireless op’s gone. Don’s gone, Don Pryor went when he was in his forties. George died last year.
CB: Right. Ok. What was the greatest achievement do you think when you were in the RAF? What made you feel really proud?
LJG: Just thinking that we won. Yeah. And being part of it. Yeah. I enjoyed it. I think I went in with the right attitude that it’s a job I wanted to do. I wanted to fly and I think that that was my achievement you know.
CB: How do you feel about the, not having the opportunity of shooting down anything?
LJG: Well, not really. No. I didn’t think it mattered. As long as we’d done what we had to do.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Which was get there, drop the bombs, come home again ready for the next lot. I don’t think it mattered. Chasing after them wouldn’t have made any difference. The risks were too great. I mean that was their job wasn’t it?
CB: Yeah.
LJG: We had, we had an aeroplane full of bombs and we were told to take it somewhere drop them.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: And that’s what we done.
CB: Your job was to defend the aircraft. Not to shoot down other -
LJG: Well yeah.
CB: Planes. Yeah.
LJG: Avoid it if possible. I mean if you shoot down a Messerschmitt you’ve only killed one man in an aeroplane. If a Messerschmitt shoots down a Lancaster he’s killed seven people. You know. I think the odds were too great to go looking after trouble.
CB: Yeah.
VT: Did some crew go and look for trouble?
LJG: Yeah.
VT: Yeah.
LJG: Oh yeah.
VT: Can you tell us a bit about that?
LJG: Well I mean it’s only hearsay.
VT: Alright. What’s the hearsay then?
LJG: That they would look for trouble.
VT: So what would they do?
LJG: If they saw an aeroplane which they thought was a German they’d go after it or fly in that direction but I mean it was too dangerous for the rest of the crew because we went in a stream. I mean we weren’t like the Yanks. The Yanks made a formed a squadron pattern here in England and they all went out together. We would form a stream on the way out -
VT: Right.
LJG: You wouldn’t catch up in an aeroplane until you got to Brighton. So we didn’t look for trouble. If you stayed where you were supposed to be -
VT: Yeah.
LJG: You would bomb at the height you were supposed to be and there was always the risk that if you were on the lower tier someone up above would drop one on you but that’s the risk you had to take and that was my job you know. If there was one above me, dead above me, I would tell the skipper, you know. ‘There’s a Lanc above us skipper.’ ‘Which way do you want to go?’ He’d decide. I would tell him where it was and he was the skipper. He was the governor. You done what you were told. You tell him what’s happening and he, he’d solve the problem. Either move port or move starboard you know. It depends on where the stream was and what position you were in the stream. I mean we weren’t wing tip to wing tip. I mean we could be a mile wide and gradually move in to the target as we got closer to it. I mean it was, you were an individual really although you were part of a stream.
VT: Yeah.
CB: How much of the time could you see other bombers?
LJG: Hmmn?
CB: How much of the time could you see other bombers?
LJG: At night. Never see one at all.
CB: Right.
LJG: Very very rare unless it was a good moon but of course in daylight you would see them quite a lot.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Because you could be, depends on where you are in the stream they could be all around you.
CB: So just as a, why was it that Bomber Command flew in a stream and not in formation?
LJG: I’ve no idea.
CB: I would suggest it’s because it’s impossible to fly and it’s dangerous to try and fly in formation.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: In the dark.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: So the bomber stream is simply everybody’s going the same way.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: But the danger is as you just said ‘cause you can’t see anybody else -
LJG: The secret of that was you had to be at the right place at the right time.
CB: Right.
LJG: I mean if we went to the Ruhr from Chedburgh it would be base, Reading, Brighton and across the channel from there and then the course would be variable depending on hot spots.
CB: Why did, why did, why did the bomber stream not go straight out across from Chedburgh across Holland?
LJG: Well -
CB: In to Germany.
LJG: There were hot spots that were heavily defended. Very heavily defended. Others not so heavily defended.
CB: With anti-aircraft guns.
LJG: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: Right.
LJG: So we, they tried to pick the safest route for us and the same the way back so you if you all went the same way and turned at the same time everything would be in the right place and you, the chance of having a collision were remote but you had to do what you were told to do.
CB: Yeah. Now on the bombing run the aircraft has to be stabilised.
LJG: Yeah. Yeah. Two minutes.
CB: So how, two minutes before was it?
LJG: Two minutes yeah.
CB: And then how many minutes after bombs gone did you keep straight and level?
LJG: As soon as you could. Get back in to the stream.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: ‘Cause you had, you to had to hold on for a while to do the photoflash.
LJG: Do the photograph.
CB: Right.
LJG: Yeah. It was only a few seconds really. About fifteen, twenty seconds. As soon as the skipper said, ‘Bomb doors closed,’ that was the sign to get moving.
CB: Right.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: You mentioned earlier about H2S radar system. Was that used very much?
LJG: Well, it was, it was used more at night than it was at daylight. You only used it at daylight I think if the weather was bad but we did use it once or twice yeah and got quite good results apparently. I mean I don’t know. I’m not a technician. The briefers, debriefers would sort that out, you know.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Another question. You carried a bomb load of how much normally? What sort of weight of bombs?
LJG: Depends where you went. I mean the aircraft was only safe with a certain weight in it so the more petrol you had the less bombs you had. At Dresden I don’t think was only six or seven thousand. I don’t, I don’t really know about the bomb load but it was a long way.
CB: Right.
LJG: So you had, I think you had twenty two, fifty gallons of petrol so that means the bomb load is displaced but Happy Valley say, you’d have fourteen thousand, fifteen thousand pounds of bombs and less tanks.
CB: So you talked about the cookie so could you describe what was the cookie?
LJG: Pardon?
CB: CB: What was -
LJG: Cookie.
CB: A cookie. Can you describe it?
LJG: A four thousand pounder.
CB: Yeah well what was in it?
LJG: Well that would depend on what the target was and what they wanted to do. There were devising one that exploded a thousand feet above the ground full of incendiaries and you only dropped high explosives, splatter it all over and a cookie would set fire to it. It was like an oil drum really.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: It was. Not a very attractive looking bomb but there again it mattered it was only going down. It wasn’t going anywhere else.
CB: It didn’t have any fins on it did it?
LJG: No. No. No.
CB: It was just like a big barrel.
LJG: Just like a forty gallon oil drum or a bit longer than that actually. Yeah.
CB: Ok.
[machine pause]
LJG: I think it was about four pound a week on the squadron.
CB: So the pay was in two parts was it? There was a basic pay and then a flying pay.
LJG: No. They just -
CB: Or just a basic -
LJG: Just a single pay.
CB: Ok and how much was that?
LJG: I think it was about four pound a week.
CB: And what was that in relation to what other people were getting?
LJG: Well I think we were reasonably well paid considering. I don’t know what other people were getting. No idea.
CB: In civilian life I mean. In civilian life -
LJG: Well –
CB: Was it better than or worse?
LJG: Well I don’t think there was much in it really. I know my elder brother he was an apprentice cabinet maker and he finished his apprenticeship as the war started but you see he was a lot older than me and I remember him coming home he had four pound and sixpence and he gave me the sixpence. Yeah.
CB: Because it bought a lot in those days.
LJG: Well yeah I mean three pounds was a good wage.
CB: Yeah that’s what I meant you see.
LJG: But then again things were that cheap anyway weren’t they you know. I mean I remember Tesco opening in Wycombe when it was a small shop then and my wife and I were both working at [minimum wage?] and if she spent three pounds on groceries in a week she’d had a bad week [laughs] but now -
CB: This is a company called [Broomway] making compressors.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: We were just talking about when we, when you in the latter days you were in Singapore.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: And then you were ready for demob so what happened?
LJG: They just told us to pack up our clothes and they put us on a boat. Actually I was on the boat the day before because I was mess deck sergeant on the way home and when we got to Southampton unfortunately, well fortunately we were the first ones off because we had the farthest to go. We had to go from Southampton to Blackpool and we got in to Southampton quite early in the morning. Seven or 8 o’clock. Got on the train, got to Blackpool and we got out civvy kit. I got home at midnight that night. Yeah.
CB: All day travelling.
LJG: All day travelling yeah. I’d been travelling for three weeks.
CB: Amazing.
LJG: Well we, at that particular time they were, India was getting independence and we were evacuating in troops and we had a load of band boys we had to divert from Singapore to Bombay to pick up these band boys and they stuck them right down at the front. The lowest deck of all. And as we come out of Bombay a day out hit a typhoon and we had to heave to for a day and the boat was doing this.
VT: Yeah.
CB: Frightening.
LJG: They was, they was sick and sick and sick terrible but as I say we got out of it.
CB: How many people on the boat?
LJG: A couple of hundred I suppose.
CB: And what was the liner called?
LJG: HMS Otranto. Otranto yeah. I think it rocked when it was in port, in dock. Not very exciting.
CB: So then you had your demob. What was the most, you said it was difficult to settle. What was the thing that made it so difficult -
LJG: Well it’s such a change -
CB: To settle?
LJG: Wasn’t it? Such a change you know. I mean in Singapore it was the lap of luxury. I mean, fortunately I didn’t do any work. It was in ‘45 when the Singapore RAF were on strike.
CB: Oh.
LJG: All junior ranks it was. Senior ranks weren’t allowed to go on strike. And although I had a double rank you see I was flight sergeant AC2.
CB: Yeah
LJG: Anyway the -
CB: Because you were reserve?
LJG: Yeah
CB: Volunteer reserve.
LJG: Yeah.
CB: Yeah.
LJG: And well Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park was in charge and Singapore was a pre-war station. We had lovely barrack blocks. Of course the Japs had used them so they were using.
CB: Right.
LJG: The swimming pool they used as an oil dump and everybody else, well [they had been?] on strike and this Mr Park he went to Australia I think and Group Captain Beamish became CO and he was sport mad. If you could play sport you were alright so I decided that I would play sport.
CB: What was your specialty then?
LJG: I was goalkeeper. I played for 389 MU. I played for the station once but if you were on guard duty and you were playing for the station you came off guard duty and went and played football.
CB: Oh right. Yeah.
LJG: And he got things going you know. He had football pitches marked out, he had a cinema cleaned out and working order. It was great.
CB: Right.

Collection

Citation

Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Langford William Green,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 21, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/2419.

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