Les Jackson memoir
Les Jackson memoir
Les Jackson talks about a visit to RAF East Kirkby and remembers his crew and operations.
00:02:16 audio recording
IBCC Digital Archive
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LJ: I knew there was an aviation museum at East Kirkby, near Spilsby, when my brother-in-law suggested we go and visit, I was all for it. When the car pulled up, I gazed at the vast airfield. I felt it was 1944 all over again. The museum has a tearoom decked out with old photographs on the wall, I looked at the squadrons, all those fine men, I looked for my squadron, 103, based at Elsham Wolds in North Lincolnshire, maybe see some old mates, but they weren’t there. I walked across to a hangar and there she was, a Lancaster. The smell took me back, that petroly smell. I thought about my crew, the pilot, navigator, our bomb aimer, wireless operator, and two of us guns. I was the rear gunner. We were all teenagers except for our pilot, Willie Johnson, he was much older. But this plane in the museum’s hangar was empty. I looked up at the turret, it made me remember how cold it was, sat there terrified, eighteen-thousand foot up. We completed eleven bombing raids, the last on in April 1944, when we attacked Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s hide-out in the Austrian alps. Somehow, we all got through it. Towards the end of the war, we dropped spam to the starving population of Holland. Apparently, there was a special arrangement with the RAF and German high command. My wonderful day at the museum brought back all these memories. For over sixty years, I’d kept my old RAF uniform in a wardrobe at home, here in Gainsborough. I often used to look at it and touch it, but it was time to let go. It’s in the museum now with many others. I hope, in a small way, it will help people not to forget the Lancaster crews and the great sacrifices they made.
L Jackson, “Les Jackson memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 27, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/28010.
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