Interview with Bertram Arthur Yeandle


Interview with Bertram Arthur Yeandle


After leaving school, Bertram Yeandle joined the RAF apprentice scheme and trained as an engine fitter at RAF Halton. After completing his apprenticeship at RAF Cosford, he was posted to 148 Squadron, RAF Harwell, where he serviced Wellingtons. In January 1941, Yeandle was posted overseas. He describes his journey via Sierra Leone and Durban and servicing Allison engines near the Suez Canal. He then travelled to Tripoli, North Africa, where he serviced Centaurus engines for Beaufighters. In 1943, he was posted to Naples, Italy, and service aircraft there until Easter 1945. Finally, Yeandle describes his post-war life, including meeting his wife, competing in an RAF rugby competition, and working in weapon development after leaving the air force.




Temporal Coverage





01:53:57 Audio Recording


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CB: My name is Chris Brockbank, and today is the 29th of December 2018, and we’re in Filton, Bristol talking to Bert Yeandle about his life and times. Bert, what are your earliest recollections of life?
BY: Well, I went to school, junior school in North Petherton, and one of the interesting things about the school, I- In those days the 11+ was rather limited. There were almost forty children in my class, it were one girl and one boy, passed the scholarship and taken to the local, to the local secondary school, you know the high school sort of thing. One was, one was the postmaster's son, the other one was the local labour exchange’s daughter, so that- I- You can put that how you want it but I fancied there was a little bit of a twist somewhere.
CB: And what did you parents do?
BY: My, my mother left- Was born in 19- 1880 in about- She went to school in- She was born in Woodstock, or a place called Glympton near Woodstock in Oxfordshire, and she, she- I don’t quite know much about her schooldays but I remember she told me that she had to pay to go to school, even council school, I think they paid six pence a week they had to pay, had to take this sort of little silver sixpence to school. Anyway, eventually she left home and became a cook, and I suppose her training was through her mother, who had been that sort of thing, and she went to work at Puriton just outside Bridgewater, to the home of a reverend doctor, who had five boys, and she cooked in those days and that must’ve been about, about 1893 or something around- I think she’d be about- Well say she was about sixteen from, yeah ninety-six or seven. She was born in 19-1880 that’s be nineteen, sixteen sort of thing, about twenty-six, maybe a bit younger but that’s immaterial, and then she stayed there and my father, he was a tailor, a bespoke tailor, and he followed the trade until, it was- Until the tailoring trade was swamped by the, by the, the Jewish sort of tailors that came the Montague Burtons and the, fifty-shilling tailors and all these sorts of things, and they swamped the bespoke tailors, and there was a lot of unemployment. Anyways, father managed on, things were rather tough in the thirties for me, because father only had three, three weeks- Three days of employment by a firm of tailors in Bridgewater, three days a week and he used to do jobbing, you know, people knock at the door and say, ‘Shorten my trousers’ or, ‘Lengthen the sleeves,’ all that sort of thing, and that’s how he survived until, about 1935, he became a relieving officer- a temporary relieving officer and registrar in Bridgewater and North Petherton district, and he did- He stayed with that situation until he, until he died. He did join up in 1918, in a tailor division, I don’t know a lot about that but he, he, he didn’t- He wasn’t called up before that because there was a lot of uniforms that had to be made in the fourteen, eighteen war, they were knocked up very quickly and, so he was employed in that and eventually called him up in early parts of 1918, I think or something like that. So, he didn’t, he didn’t- he didn’t know much about it. I had one brother, my brother, he joined the RAF soon after me and he went to the, overseas, the force in France straight away. What did they call them, the?
CB: The BEF.
BY: BEF, British Ex- Yep.
CB: Expeditionary.
BY: And he stayed with them till evacuation.
CB: Right.
BY: Evacuation in May, and he didn’t come across with the boats with the masses, he travelled on a petrol bowser with a few other fellows, south of Dunkirk and came across by some boat further down Brest, or somewhere down that end, he got safely home that was that. He was- While he was there in, with the BEF he was a despatch rider and a part-time policemen sort of thing. I can tell you more about him.
CB: Ok, so-
BY: And he, he demobbed just when ’45, you know, sort of.
CB: Right, so back to your early days at school
BY: Yep
CB: Did you enjoy school? What were your-
BY: I think I did yes.
CB: - particular interests?
BY: One important thing was, half way through my school, my junior school, when I was about nine or ten, our headmaster was seriously ill, and he was taken off teaching and a temporary master came to us, who lived in Cleveland, he came down from Cleveland to take over the management, and he brought with him an Oxford University graduate, who taught his boys to play rugby, and he, he took us out and trained us, and of course North Petherton was a hot bed of rugby from 182- 1875, I think. So, they’ve had a history right through the war, all the time and still operating now, and not the same strength but there we are. So, that’s one of my earliest things, and then as father’s financial position got a little better, being in a better job, you know, more- as an assistant registrar and all that sort of thing, he sent me to a commercial school in Bridgewater, at which I, I- As you know, it specialised in bookkeeping, short-hand and I had the option of either learning French or learning Euclid and as it was, I thought Euclid sounded, well a useful sort of thing and I studied Euclid. You know what that is? A sort of offset, the sort of explanation of why something happened, why two parallel lines never meet, you know, all this sort of thing. So that went on, until I left school and, as I said, went to, work as a junior clerk in the Bristol- Bridgewater gas company. All the towns had their own private sort of organisation in those days right, and then from there on I- My, my cousin introduced me to the, to the strong points of being an apprentice, and how good it would be, and he felt certain, even though I went to a commercial school and one of the papers that we had to, we had to take to assess at Halton. You know that do you? There was three papers, English, science and, and general studies. Well, science was a problem and when I got the exam, temporary exam papers and then applied to be an apprentice, I got the temporary redundant sort of thing to see what it was, and I thought what have we here. So, I got tuition privately from a scout-master who was a teacher and he managed to struggle me through, and I passed and I was four-hundred-and-seventy-fourth out of nine-hundred-and-ten so. So, in those days, it- The pecking order was such that as you- The higher you were up the more first chance you had for the trade you turned in. So, a lot of the- you know the top ten, they went for wireless operator, mechanic, or fitter armourer or fitter two or wireless and electronic, that was the four trades of work and it worked out according to your pecking order. So, I, I was more or less, got what I wanted, and I was trained. I went to Halton and after a while, I think eighteen months they decided that they would- It was getting rather over bodied by more apprentices than they could cope with, all of us the same situation was such in Cosford, and we transferred to Cosford, and I finished my apprenticeship at Cosford, and passed out of Cosford. In about the first or second of April- March- January rather, joined Bomber Command at Harwell, that’s roughly, any more questions?
CB: Harwell in Oxfordshire?
BY: Berkshire.
CB: Berkshire it was then, now in Oxfordshire, yes.
BY: It had no, it had no runway, all the air- All the Wellingtons took off, and we, we had about, about eighteen Wellingtons and an Anson and an Oxford. These other two were for local commute, you know, flitting from one station to the other, passing a sort of good word between each station, and- Where are we now? And then
CB: So what sort of date-
BY: I started to work straight away.
CB: Yep, on what?
BY: On Wellingtons.
CB: Yes, but what-
BY: The first job I got- In those days it was- You got the normal sort of daily routine inspection, you got the thirty-hour, you got the sixty-hour and you got the a hundred-and-twenty hour inspection of aircraft, and being a fitter2 E, engines were my speciality, so I was put with another experienced young man, and we had to take an engine out of, out of the Wellington and put a new one in, that was my first job, and then it went on from there and then, you know, various- But I must say at this stage that it was quite interesting, as we came to the hangar every morning, in the middle distance were the Berkshire Downs and invariably every day you’d see a white patch in there, which is a crashed aircraft. Burnt up by the cadmin[?], you know, what the structure was made out, you know, ‘cause they were flying at twenty-hours and twenty-five hours, no experience at all, and then in 19- They had to get airmen in the air, in ’40, some survived that were better than others but- And that was- But, as time ran on there as normal daily work and we obviously, that the RAF, or Bomber Command as every other command, very conscious of the, of the sabotage which was occurring out in airfields and things like that, and there was guards placed in the insert and outs of the hangar in the first six months of 1940, you know, for- We just didn’t know what was happening, or they didn’t know, and eventually we run up to, to Dunkirk. Now as soon as Dunkirk was sort of settled, within about- When all the ones that were able, were home to their homes or their units and such like, there was that fear of paratroopers. So, we had set up in various teams of about twenty, and we had to man the airfield at an hour before dawn, till two hours after dawn armed with fifty rounds of ammunition, waiting for the parachutes to come. Fortunately, they never came. So- But we’re there waiting and being a lad of nineteen, you know, you had that fear of- You’re out- ‘Cause differing at nineteen, and one of us twenty-five and thirty and go on doesn’t it, and you know, I thought it would be a good job have a shot at these people dangling down with a canopy above ‘em, but it never happened, and then that eased off and we’re on Wellingtons, carrying on ‘cause I think we had about seventeen or eighteen there, and as I told you before we- Our job was in the early stages of March, April, May, May sort of thing was bombing, was nickel bombing or leaflets, propaganda, you know, distribute all over Berlin and all other places like that, and I wish I’d salvaged a couple and got them now, they were interesting to see but we just flung them in the dustbin as it was, you know, you’re- And that was it until, until it came- Now where are we now? I’ve lost my self a little bit.
CB: Just stop a minute.
BY: In, I’d never heard of it before, the Flight Sergeant Warrant Officer in charge of the hangar, who was the boss and you know, you know that sort of, the power they had, you know, they’d do this that and other, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you must do this, you know, that sort of business, and he was, he was a West Indian, and in those days, you know, when you met a coloured man, you- It was unusual, and he was a boss there, and he was the boss all the time I was there. I don’t- What it- Where he ended up, I don’t know, but he was very efficient. There’s no doubt about that. So that’s-
CB: How did he get on with the-
BY: I think he got on very well, we, we respected him, you didn’t- You respected authority in those days but we were, we were sort of brought up at Halton to sort of respect authority, you know, and-
CB: So, you arrived at the airfield, what did they do as soon as you arrived?
BY: Well I mean we’d already gone through the fundamentals of- Medicals and all that sort at Halton, you know, we’d had a very good briefing there, we’d learnt a lot about air force law, and drill ‘cause we- Friday afternoons was the drill, Monday- Wednesday afternoons was sports afternoon, Friday afternoons was ceremonial drill, and in between we were taken to a study room to read- to study, or be read the air force law to us, what we should do and what we shouldn’t do, and of course we got the King’s Shilling at the time.
CB: At Harwell?
BY: At Harwell, yeah.
CB: So, you arrive, it’s one of the expansion period air fields-
BY: Oh, it was yeah
CB: -so it’s well set up-
BY: Well, I don’t know whether you- You’re aware of this but Lord Trenchard in 19- When he was the head of the metropolitan police, he looks at the Air Force and he said, ‘We’re all behind, we’re backward,’ compared to the Germans and all- ‘We’ve got to get a force of grammar school boys,’ and especially grammar, ‘who’ll take an examination, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and fit them and train them to be the ground force of the RAF regardless’.
CB: Yep.
BY: Regardless at the time, you know, what- But there was quite a few people that applied for aircrew at that time and then after about- And I applied but I was, I was a bit late in applying, and at that time the Air Ministry said, ‘Right no more ground crew, we’re not going to spend money training you people for two-and-a-half, three years, and send you off flying and lose you in, in no time’. So, they focused- I don’t quite know what they- How they focussed their attacks on getting more aircrew into Bomber Command and Fighter Command and all the communication and, you know, air sea rescue and all this sort of thing. Not air sea rescue, command control they called it, not air sea rescue, command control.
CB: Coastal Command?
BY: Yeah, Coastal Command, yes.
CB: Well, it was expanding fast.
BY: Yeah, and so he, he emphasised that we gotta get- We’re having an entry of every two months- Every two year, every May- Twice a year.
CB: Yes
BY: Twice a year.
CB: Into Halton?
BY: Into Halton, and Halton was getting a bit overloaded it was four big squadrons there then and we- Then they formed us into five squadron, and we- Then they took us to Cosford, but we had the same standard of education and we all had to go and get the same trade test as well. We had to go to- In those days we had to get a trade test as well so, before you passed out into your squadrons or whatever, and a good job- A good majority of us, you know, had to what they called the warning of going overseas, and I went overseas on the 1st of January- Well I, I left home, left my father and mother on the 1st of January 1941.
CB: Right. Can we just go back to the Halton bit?
BY: Yep
CB: Because it’s quite important here, I think. What was the routine? You’re young, you’re sixteen, you join the air force and you’re in a barrack block-
BY: Yes, indeed.
CB: -with a dormitory, so how many people in the dormitory?
BY: About thirty, and being a clerk before I joined up, most had come straight from school.
CB: Yes
BY: I was the, room clerk so I had to take a name, address and next of kin and all that. So that was my job which in a way was a better job than doing the ablutions or, you know, dust under the bed and, you know, that sort of thing, centre floor. So that was my job and that was the first thing we did at when we got- We had be registered and then what information, detail went to the office and all that sort of thing. Of course, we- All letters home had to be censored, and it started on from there.
CB: Was there censorship before the war?
BY: No, no, not to my knowledge.
CB: Right. When you, when you got up in the morning, what time of day was that?
BY: Six-thirty.
CB: Ok, then what?
BY: Six-thirty, and breakfast was half-past seven to half-past eight all properly dressed, no nonsense. Three mornings a week, we had to get up at six and that was for PT. Not very strenuous but get some fresh air and running out, loosening your limbs from lying in bed. Our bed time, for the first year, was nine-thirty, we had to be in bed by nine-thirty and lights out at ten o’ clock. It was no smoking until you were eighteen, and then you only smoked in certain parts. Lights out, as I say and as the next year went on until we left, you carried on the same routine. I think the- I think we could, light’s out was at ten o’ clock, but we still carried on a routine of breakfast, to the hangar, orderly dressed, if you didn’t- If you weren't orderly dressed- I mean I was caught once wearing a pair of red socks, somebody saw me, took my name and I was jankers, you know what that is?
CB: Yes, so you, well you’d better explain- What are jankers?
BY: [Laughs] Well jankers, first of all you had to report to the guard room, with your best blue on at six o’ clock, at night, and a nine o’ clock. You were inspected by the, by the orderly officer or the sergeant, and which then were detailed to the severity of your crime, into the cookhouse to scrub the floor or, do any duties that were necessary there, and that’s really what it worked out to be. So you were punished, you either got three days or seven days. If you were a really naughty boy and done something really serious you might be sent out to a, a sort of home where they vetted you and gave you a suitable punishment. I remember one situation, I can recall where we took an engine out of- Took a pega- ‘Cause the Pegasus and in-lines used in the Wellington at that time, as a sort of spare. What they could get hold of really, suitable, and this fellow, he had to drain the oil obviously, and he disconnected the oil and the engine, under the coupling to the and shot it out, and shot off the, oil of the tank which was remaining in the petrol tank, I think it was about thirty gallons of oil in this petrol tank and the-
CB: Oil tank, yeah.
BY: And instead of just screwing the thing up, he poked a bit of rag in first of all and screwed it up, eventually the aircraft crashed because the next person undid the union, connected up to the engine, are you with me?
CB: He didn’t know that there was a rag in there.
BY: He didn’t know that there was a rag in there, and that obstructed the flow, and the aircraft crashed because there was a seizure on the engine and he was sent up to field punishment camp.
CB: What happened to the crew?
BY: The crew, I believe were killed. I wouldn’t like to say for definite on that, the aircraft definitely crashed.
CB: A thing like that’s very serious, so to what extent would the- At what point would a court-martial be convened for that sort of thing?
BY: Well, you’d go there- I expect- I don’t know whether, whether it was tantamount to a court-martial, I think it is. If you were sent to the- What is it, what was I, called the name? The home?
CB: The punishment.
BY: The punishment home, if you were sent there the odds are that you would take a service court-martial.
CB: Right.
BY: And every time you were a minor punishment, like I just mentioned what I did with my socks or, you know, I- You had to go in front the CO, and wait in a corridor ten minutes and let him get his breath and you’d get your breath back, and you march in and salute him and all that sort of thing and, the charge was there, with the corporal and sergeant that had found you, that sort of thing, you know, that sort of thing. But, you know, it taught us discipline, and it taught us how to- You know, you got to draw the line sometime, you can’t do what you like, you were treated well, the food was very good in wartime and right up to- Food was very good. Our education, we had twenty-five hours at workshop and fifteen hours in schools, and I always remember the first, the first day at school- We were presented with, the unification of- The one before, oh I don’t, I can’t think of the name, but it was quite severe. I was out of touch really, and I- We sat in, in a order in the schools, alphabetically, so the fellow sat beside me was a brighter boy than I was and he was a good lad and he used to help me a little bit with my sort of, you know, sneaking across a piece of paper and the answer to one of the things. Unification of something, what is it? What is that, a receive before, before algebra? Anyway, it was quite severe and, our history was about the air force, how it was formed, what the blue means and all that sort of thing and the various stations around the company and the general studies was about the various historical, which would affect the air force. We had a good sort of grounding there.
CB: So when did you actually join the apprentice scheme at Halton? It was ’37 entry, when was that?
BY: January ’38.
CB: Right.
BY: I had to report in January ’38. I took the examination in Weston-Super-Mare, in I suppose about- I think it was about September, something like that.
CB: Yeah, and then the course finished after how many years?
BY: Well, the course finished just under two years, we didn’t do the three years because the situation was such that they wanted to cram as much in as they possibly could, you know, we used a few more hours and with a little bit more private study and all that sort of thing. So-But on balance the boys that stayed at Halton, or the ones at Cosford finished at the same time, with the same ability.
CB: Yeah
BY: Group one, we were group one tradesmen, a Fitter2. At this stage, after the war, I with about, about seven or eight-hundred other ones, got converted. You see I was qualified at that time- When I passed out, I was qualified to do any job, to do with the engines, aircraft engines, take the prop off, all that sort of thing, hydraulics and various numatics, and such like. The other tradesmen had their sort of- We never touched any armaments or that was their job, and the wires, nothing to do with that sort of thing.
CB: So you were technically an engine fitter?
BY: And then after the war, I did one year's course to convert me to the air frame side of it, so consequently when I left- We had this course at Locking, RAF Locking in Weston-Super-Mare and when I left that one, I was qualified to do anything on any aircraft you see. That was very handy for the airport because during my time at Halton- At Harwell, there were always visiting aircraft coming in, and if you were a duty flight you had to see to them and deal to them, see what they wanted and see them off. Usually, the crew stayed in the mess or the officers mess or the sergeants mess, that night and off they went for somewhere else. So that was our responsibility, to deal with any visiting aircraft.
CB: And what extra training did you get while you were at Harwell on modern aircraft? Was the Wellington-
BY: We studied, we studied the in-line engine and we studied the radial engine at Halton.
CB: Yes.
BY: In fact we started off studying Morris motors engine.
CB: Did you?
BY: That was our first job, you know, when they introduced us to the internal combustion engines. So, they started off that and we learnt what, you know, what- How tappets worked and the valves and- I mean I didn’t have a clue when I, when I came, sort of thing, but you soon pick it up don’t you?
CB: Well, it was good training wasn’t it?
BY: Oh absolutely, ‘cause I would- And even Geoff will tell you the same thing, the best time of his life was at- In the boy’s service, you know, the apprentice service.
CB: Now talking about that, we talked about you being in a room in the barrack block, thirty people. Was there a corporal in a room at the end in his own?
BY: Oh yes, yes.
CB: So how did that work, there’s a single room at the end with a corporal in it?
BY: Yes, I can remember his name, Corporal Ratcliffe his name was, he was our corporal in boy’s service. He was a very nice chap, he was a sergeant apprentice.
CB: Oh
BY: And he- In one of the earlier entries obviously.
CB: Yes, yeah.
BY: And he was- Well he just kept order, you know, if we lost anything it was up to him to sort it out, and any real complaints we went to him and he would carry the complaint on to, you know, his senior sort of thing.
CB: Yeah, so he controlled the room.
BY: He did control it, but, every morning the orderly sergeant came in at half-past six and shouted, if anyone was in bed, they didn’t stay in bed very long.
CB: So, you get up and you wash, what do you do about the beds?
BY: Oh, it’s most important, folded up your blanket, two blankets and a sheet, a pair of sheets, folded up neatly, stacked up- Our beds were Macdonald[?] beds, sort of-
CB: Two billows deep?
BY: Yeah, close them up to a sort of a sitting distance, sort of thing, from that, from that distance down to there, and you had to pack your, your blankets and your alternate levels and make it look tidy, and your pyjamas on there. The-
CB: Then there was a-
BY: Then the laundry business. We had two avenues for our laundry, the laundry was our boiler suits, ‘cause we all wore boiler- And do you know, we had to wear a tie then, in the hangar room all the time, collar and tie, it's crazy isn’t it? But we had to wear it, if you see anything on the pictures, you see- So we had a [unclear] avenue, a special bag with our names, that was most important, you had to get your names on all your equipment, and then for the other bag, for your- What you called you domestic, was your towels, I think we had two lots, two towels a week and shirts, collars and detachable-
CB: Detachable collar, yes.
BY: Socks, and basic things in that thing, and your sheets. Oh, the sheets went in another basket that’s right, they went into another basket.
CB: How many pairs of sheets did you get a week?
BY: Oh we used to get- I think we got clean sheets, real clean sheets every fortnight.
CB: Right, yeah.
BY: I think that’s what we had to do. So, that was an alternative sort of, pack your bag with washing.
CB: So, there was an inspection of the beds, and the blankets every morning?
BY: The orderly officer came round every morning, while we were on parade. We- And to go to the hangar we paraded at half-past eight in our lines, you had to answer your call- Answer, it was a roll call, and then we- In the boys service we had to march to our schools or our workshop but when we got to the squadron, to 148 Squadron I was on, we just more or less- We just walked to the hangar, and the Warrant Officer he knew who was who sort of thing, he knew who was missing and then, and then in those days we had a restroom, we’d a break and restroom in which we had a chap who wasn’t an apprentice and he was responsible for making the tea and, he had an avenue of going out and getting tea- What we called tea and wads for us, and he made us feel- And we had to pay him, I don’t know, pay a tuppence a week or something like that, he made a living out of that, sort of thing, subsidises his letter income, and the money we got, in the boys service, was a shilling a day. Right, and we could allocate four shillings of that to the post office, to the post office or any other form that your parents wish you. So that’s the sort of- When we went on holiday, our end of term, which was about twelve or fourteen weeks, we would get instead of picking up three shillings at the pay table, we would pick up about ten, eleven pounds just, you know, to satisfy, to go and-
CB: A lot of money in those days.
BY: It was a lot of money, but didn’t seem to last for long ‘cause we had to find our own soap, our own toothpaste, our own chocolate and toothbrushes to [unclear], but the [unclear], hairbrushes, combs you had to find ‘cause they were always being lost, or, you know, that sort of thing, so we made this- And then there quite a little bit of trading going on, you know, if you got broke say you’ll borrow a shilling for one sixpence to return, sort of thing [chuckles] it’s funny really. Mind you, all this is- I’m trying to talk- Remember eighty years ago, you know.
CB: Exactly. Now on that, because this is so different from today-
BY: Oh I don’t- I-
CB: When you went to eat, where did you eat? This is at Halton, where did you eat?
BY: In the cookhouse, what we called the cookhouse.
CB: Right, how big was that?
BY: Oh quite a big place, but it had to, to accommodate sort of each squadron.
CB: And the squadron was how many people?
BY: Hundred-and-twenty, hundred-and-fifty, that sort of thing. I might be inaccurate by that, these numbers, my mind might forget little-
CB: And the menu was-
BY: The menu was very good
CB: - was fixed or, choice?
BY: We had a good breakfast, a good lunch and at tea-time we had cake, and bread and butter and jam, and syrup was always on the table. It- When I got to the squadron, I’d been put on night flying, the night flying duties were as such, you did a day- We’ll say night flying was on Monday night, you got to the hangar Monday morning, you would do your job, you’d be working on the aircraft which is flying that night, and every aircraft that fly that night had to have night flying test. So aircraft had to fly in the afternoon, late afternoon and the pilot would check it and do- He didn’t- They only did a sort of large circuit and all that sort of thing, and if it's come back it was all right, if it’s a small item, it was put right and then you were called according to the time of day, I mean night flying would start- This time of year it would start about 7 o’ clock, and [unclear] the pilots would do- Or the air [unclear] would do two sorties. Three hours, come back, refuel and another three hours, maybe two hours, it depends on what the circumstances were. So, I mean, you know, that was a night flying programme. I know I'm a bit disjointed but you can all sort this, when you read it I'm sure. And then on occasion- This is interesting, when you were on night flying duty, or in duty crew, you had to see any aircraft in and sometimes they came in at night and they would land in between two rows of flare paths, and the flare path, no electrics, it was like a paraffin watering can with wick coming out the spout [chuckles] yes, you’re smiling, this is true though, and the line I think was about twenty
CB: This is paraffin?
BY: Paraffin, and the aircraft would land in between that, and it was a tedious job you had to go, you know, you might- We didn’t have a vehicle to do everything, mostly the vehicles were for driving the petrol bowsers about, so you couldn’t do that, but to go to one end of the airfield to the other you had to walk, or bicycle, or whatever, and- So we had to put these flare paths out then, when it was daylight, they all had to come in, it would be twiched[?] and checked- Make sure they’re serviceable for the next night, it was everything. But, it’s a bit hazardous sometimes, if one had blown over or something like that, and you were told by the flying control to go out and see to that, take another one out, and, you know the RT wasn’t all that clever, and if you had to land with something, you know at that time- Pretty precarious.
CB: So how was the communication on the airport- field? Was it- ‘Cause there was no radio so was it done by flash light?
BY: Yep
CB: Or morse code?
BY: Aldis lamp
CB: Yeah, aldis lamp?
BY: It- The aircraft would come in and flash the green light if it’s ok, and you would reply with that. If, wasn’t- If you weren’t ready, it was a red light and they’d have to go round and come again, sort of thing like- That was the basic sort of thing. Where are we now?
CB: So as you’re onto that, what communication did you actually have with the aircrew themselves?
BY: Very good. They were, you know, more or less you were- Your aircraft was his aircraft and his aircraft were yours and, you know, you saw him off, he knew you and that sort of thing.
CB: Were you normally in communication, ‘cause there are five or six people on the Wellington, so were you talking to the pilot?
BY: Oh yes, well mainly- We talked to the pilot and the navigator and they would come up, but mainly the pilot because he’d know the condition of the engine, if there was anything wrong or if there was a mag drop or no oil pressure or, or the heating was not, not good, it was overheating sort of thing, and-The armourers, if it was, if it was- Had to be armed they, they trolleyed in with their weapons and opened the bomb doors and, did that sort of thing, so it- We all had- It was very organised and there was the petrol bowsers- for starting up, you’d plug in, you know, and make sure the battery was charged there, that sort of thing. The trolley acc’s, we used to call pushed them out there.
CB: Yeah, so the trolley acc is a trolley accumulator to start the engine isn’t it?
BY: Yeah, and at night-time you got into a routine and when you saw the aircraft come in you had two lights sort of thing, you’d wave them in sort of thing. In those days the connection between the ground crew and aircrew was very good, extremely good- Well they- You were responsible for their safety and they were responsible, you know, for the safety in flying, you know.
CB: You had responsibility for certain aircraft only, not all of them?
BY: Well, it depended Chris, you know, how long we, you know- What the situation was, every day is different.
CB: Yep.
BY: So that takes us up to- And then our first bombing on this aircraft- On this airfield. I was in the cockpit and I remember quite vividly what I was doing. I was adjusting the controls to the elevators from the cockpit, and I was- And suddenly there was a- The air warden siren went and I could just see bombers going down the, sort of runway line dropping sort of bombs, not very big, they didn’t do much damage. But after that they decided this was dangerous, we’re gonna- One of these days it’s gonna hit the hangar, they’re either going to bomb the hangar or they’re going to bomb headquarters. So every night at the end of the day we were bussed out to a village called East Hendred, which was the home of the race horse stables, ‘cause that was a hot race- Newbury and all that areas, and we lived in stables there for quite a long while. Right until the end, until I went overseas, and all we had in these stables- But we, we were fed by bus to the, to the unit, come- You know, we had our meal in the evening before we left, and we were taken down for our breakfast in the morning, sort of thing. But, the heating in the- All we had in the stables was two beds and blankets, as I told you, two blankets and sheets- No we didn’t have sheets, we had blankets, just blankets, and in the corner was a sort of shelf which they used to put the hay, stack the hay in and we used to put our bits and pieces in there or, and we had no heating except valor heating, valor stoves do you remember the valor stoves? You remember them Chris, don’t you?
CB: Oh yes, yeah.
BY: And that would heat our water to have a good wash and shave at night.
CB: You just put it on top?
BY: Yeah, and it was only two of us to a stable, so it was enough on a big bowl to wipe our, and then we wandered off in the evening to the village- East Hendred is a place, you’ll see it on a map now, it was a very-
CB: I know it well.
BY: You know it well?
CB: Yeah, yeah.
BY: And it was a stables, the owner was a man called Bell, Dr Bell I think, he owned a string- And another thing, we used to see the horses go across in the very early hours of the morning being led off in the downs, you know, in the distance. Nowhere near the airport, but it was a good country to live in really.
CB: What about the social life?
BY: The social life wasn’t very much, really, well we had a NAAFI, and we used to go in there and we could- There was a couple billiard tables and that sort of thing, we played billiards quite often. You just took your turn with it, dartboards, crib boards and table skittles, all that sort of thing, and we were after a while allowed to go out in the village and have a drink and all that sort of thing. It, you know- All blackout mind, severe blackout, it was quite fun at times but you know where you are, you know.
CB: But the local towns were not exactly on the doorstep, so the nearest one was Abingdon really, so did you get to Abingdon?
BY: No, it was good, you know, looking back now. I can think quite a lot about it now. But this carried on more or less, you know, until we were called for- What were they called? Advanced order for overseas, and they told us, it was about November that we were going overseas. So we had some warning to tell our parents and all that sort of thing.
CB: Is this 1940, ’40?
BY: This is the end of 1940, December 1940.
CB: Right.
BY: And then we set off, and when we went off there, we went to Hednesford, and we assembled at Hednesford. When we, when we had our date to ride- Mine was the 25th of January, and it was at the other entry, or the other group was 18th of January, so they took it in two- There was too many to- It was eight-hundred, to many to manage straight away so that's how we worked it out. We had assembly at Hednesford, and then we were entrained to Didcot, and when we got to Didcot we sort of- There was a coach to take us to Halton.
CB: What was your most memorable recollection, would you say, of being in Bomber Command at Harwell?
BY: Well, my servicing of aircraft there, the general tidying up of the- After an aircraft came back from their sorties, they were tidied up, got a lot of these pamphlets, these nickel sort of things hanging around-
CB: Yes, it was called nickelling wasn’t it?
BY: Yeah, and they were dated, you know, each- I think they were re-written every- Or printed about every fortnight or something like that.
CB: In your recollection how did the crew react to dropping leaflets instead of bombs?
BY: Well, I don’t know, most of them were not all that experienced, because after a while a bomber got introduced to the fifteen- It became the fifteen OTU Operational Training Unit, and that sort of combined, the activity of Bomber Command and Training Command under the umbrella of Bomber Command.
CB: Yeah, to increase their effectiveness they formed the Operational Training Unit.
BY: That’s right yeah. Well, they were so concerned, the Air Ministry were so concerned about the number of pilots they were losing and crews in respect of Bomber Command and every other aircraft, they were losing aircraft very quickly. Thank goodness there was such thing as University Air Force Squadrons, you know, all the squadrons and they supplied, and the pilots that were trained mostly through gliding before the war, they were very much, they filled the gap.
CB: They were so desperate for aircrew but they couldn’t fill the gaps.
BY: Absolutely, and of course- And then when, then- We’ll go on now- Shall we leave now and go onto the-
CB: Yes, let’s just go back to Halton, let’s just go back to the Halton bit because this actually is fundamental to your whole career isn’t it?
BY: Oh it is, it was. It was the making of me.
CB: Yes, so we talked about the, the mechanics of getting up in the morning and the disciplined aspects but you had breakfast which was until eight-thirty.
BY: Well, we had to be on parade at eight-thirty.
CB: Eight-thirty parade, so how long was the parade?
BY: And you had to be buttons cleaned, hat badge clean, you know, and, sort of thing, I mean a lot of that was done the night before, if you’re not careful.
CB: Yeah, yeah, and were you good at spit and polish on your toecaps?
BY: Oh yeah, well, well they were clean, they- We didn’t come up to the army guards, that sort of thing, but they had to be clean, you know, and haircuts, short-haircut. I mean there’s one story about- I don’t know how true this is, a Warrant Officer used to walk around the bill with a pair of clippers in his hand and if he saw a chap with long hair, he’d just run a little avenue at the back of his head, and he’d have to go-
CB: On one side only.
BY: And there was the camp barber, of course.
CB: Yep.
BY: He was a civilian. There was also a place where you could get your shoes [unclear], but didn’t very often get your shoes ‘cause they were good quality boots. We had boots first of all.
CB: Did you have to-
BY: Hurt my feet first of all, but you soldiered on sort of thing.
CB: So, the parade would last how long in the morning?
BY: Oh now, very quickly. The order was, the orderly officer and the orderly sergeant would be posted at the end of the square, with the [unclear] and reveille would be sounded there and then, and then the flag would be hoisted to its position, and then (I was telling the boys about this the other night) the orderly officer would call the parade to attention, that was a whole wing parade that was, quite a lot of boys there, apprentices, and then they would say ‘Fall out the Roman Catholics and Jews,’ and they had- And we all had to go, or whoever it was, in that denomination and get on with this- We had to go to the back of the square and face the opposite direction, while the padre appeared, said a prayer and that was it, sort of thing, and then this would last for a few minutes and then we were called back, and we’d have to sort of about turn, march back sensibly and take our position in the ranks and- And at any time, if you weren’t on the parade and when- At night-time, I think it was about an hour before dark, the last post was sounded, and you had to stand still if you were in sight of it. You didn’t have to salute or did you have to? No, you didn’t- Had to stand still. I mean this is the sort of thing- Can you imagine a sixteen-year-old now wanting to do that sort of thing? They’d laugh you all the way down the road, wouldn’t they? I mean we did it normally.
CB: Yeah, part of the discipline
BY: And felt proud, you know, we all did it together. We’d talk, you know- There was an awful lot of gossip, and we’d play cards, and things like that in the barrack room, but we didn’t play- But in the NAAFI, it was quite a- There was a games room in which there was plenty of, you know-
CB: Quite a hum?
BY: Oh yeah.
CB: And what could you drink in the NAAFI?
BY: Ah, now, only tea and coffee, tea and cocoa, tea and cocoa and, and-
CB: No beers?
BY: No beers, not to my knowledge, not in the boys service.
CB: ‘Cause of the age we’re talking about?
BY: Yeah, the boys service-
CB: Under eighteen.
BY: Or no smoking, you might nip away to the drying room, have a crafty cigarette, but if you were caught you were in, you were-
CB: In for jankers really?
BY: Jankers, with a yellow band round your arm.
CB: Clear identity.
BY: Clear identity.
CB: What about Sunday’s then? Church parade?
BY: Sunday’s, yes, church parade and we all had to- Every Sunday was church parade and we went to ours- Sometimes they had to march to Albrighton when we were at Cosford or, I don’t know where we went at Halton, oh I think there was a, there was two churches at Halton and we had the services there, but it was a quiet day sort of thing. The rest of the day you could do what you like, go back to your billet, go to bed or- And look, you had to attend your meals at a certain time or you didn’t get any. It was usually I think from twelve to half-past-one or something like that, and I always remember at tea time we always had a nice slice of beef and a slice of ham, and there was cakes on the table and there was bread and butter and there was jam, you know, not marmite, I don’t think things like that, but there was syrup, treacle we used to call it, sort of thing.
CB: Yeah, and would you have a dinner later?
BY: No, no. That- not on a Sunday that was the end, but we had a dinner at six o’ clock, so that was our last thing.
CB: So you had tea time and then dinner?
BY: Yes, yeah.
CB: In the weekday.
BY: Yep, weekday yeah. Sunday’s was exception really but we didn’t, you know, I suppose that depended on the, sort of, the manpower of the cooks and people there. They had to have time off and-
CB: And how did you get on with the local population when you went out of the camp?
BY: Oh very well, we had to- When you went out you had to wear a uniform, so you knew who you were and it was a long time before you could go out in mufti sort of thing. I think on the whole, it was, really seemed good. They knew, they knew- I mean the local population they knew what had gone on sort of thing. In Didcot, you know, in the shops they knew who you were and all this sort of thing.
CB: Yeah, so when you’re on station then, so when you were in Harwell, going out then that wasn’t the same sort of restriction ‘cause a) you are adult and b) you are part of the RAF?
BY: That’s right, that’s right, yeah. You had- You could smoke then if you wanted to, and- I can’t remember. Yes, I think we could go into a pub, I think. I don’t- I’m not certain about that, I won’t say one thing or the other.
CB: But you had to be in uniform whatever?
BY: Yes, yeah. In those days.
CB: Yeah, so what was the competition for social events with aircrew?
BY: Oh, there was inter-squadron football, rugby, hockey, cross-country, you know, all that sort of thing, on a Wednesday afternoon, and on Friday afternoons, ceremonial drill, and the bagpipes had their ribbons, they were all dressed up and a band drummer and there was a separate barrack room for the band. If you were in the band, you lived there. You were still in the [unclear] squadron but, domestically you lived there mainly for practicing for- The noise, trumpets and all the various instruments they had, it would be enclosed in that barrack, you wouldn’t disturb the others, and we had rooms for private sort of study, where you could go if you were- Hadn’t done very well in your subjects and you were- Had to smarten up and all that sort of thing.
CB: So at Hal-
BY: We had a very good library and-
CB: That’s at Har- At Halton?
BY: Yeah.
CB: At Harwell-
BY: I can’t remember much about- It was a working town there. You had to get down to it you know-
CB: Harwell is twenty-four-seven isn’t it?
BY: Absolutely.
CB: Because it’s wartime, every day is the working day. So how did you get a day off, was it sometimes- Was it on a rota or what?
BY: I think we get a weekend now and again on a rota sort of thing.
CB: Because flying would carry on at the weekend as well as daytime, weekday.
BY: That’s right yeah, and it was easy- And in those days you could go outside the camp and somebody would pick you up, I mean you would hitch hike from Harwell down to, down to Bridgewater and- Quite easily. You might have eight or nine [unclear] and people would- Who were driving they- It was the exception if you had a vehicle, a trade vehicle, it would stop and pick you up, there was no compulsory, all that sort of thing.
CB: So what we’re talking about, you were nineteen when you- At Harwell, and then-
BY: Well, I was twenty-one, I had my twentieth birthday I think when I was at Harwell.
CB: Still at Harwell?
BY: Yeah
CB: Yeah.
BY: So in the time when we to field the- load our rifles with fifty rounds of ammunition hoping to shoot a parachutist down, you know, somewhere round my birthday sort of thing.
CB: So what sort of training had you had for shooting?
BY: Oh, we used to go- We had to- You had a training place where you got- You could practice two-hundred-yards and five-hundred-yards. But that was well-managed and you had to be very careful-
CB: That was off the airfield?
BY: Oh yes, yeah, and of course, all the guns at the time were kept in the armoury, we never had any guns in the billets or anything, firearms and all that sort of thing, it were all in the armoury and that was pretty well guarded, you had to go in and sign for the gun or whatever, the number and-
CB: When the war started, often aircraft were put away in the hangars at night, what happened at Harwell?
BY: Well, in most places, in Halton- Well mainly talking about Harwell, places we had a sort of open-ended sort of shelter, built of sandbags for the aircraft to go in just in case there was a- [unclear] shrapnel or whatever, damage and, but one or two was damaged and we lost one or two at Harwell, obviously, aircraft. But latter on in my- After the war days I mean, we lost very few planes, most of the pilots were very, very accomplished and very [unclear] because they survived the war and a lot of them had got glider training.
CB: Oh, glider training. Let’s just pause there for a bit. So, Air Force Law, how much did you get of that? At Halton?
BY: Well, you had confidentiality of any activities that were on the camp, like bombing raids, or things like that, never, I suppose it was violated so many times but that was the rule. Air Force Law, what to wear, the history- It was a book about that thick, it was the air force bible sort of thing, and it went right through from the early days of the amalgamation of the-
CB: The Royal Flying Corps
BY: -the army, the naval and-
CB: The Naval Air Service-
BY: - and the Air Force as in those- 1918 when it was started properly and it was a book and all that- It was read to us and we could ask questions and, it’s a difficult question being asked of law. There were rules and regulations which, kept the service as a service sort of thing. I can’t stipulate exactly what they were but I mean, they were rules such as that.
CB: Well, we had the original Official Secrets Act?
BY: Yes, that’s right.
CB: How was that described to you?
BY: Well, that was read to us.
CB: Right.
BY: And there was a notice up on every barrack room entry and all that sort of thing, and beside that was a fire bucket, two fire buckets, one was sand- Or two with sand, ready to put out any fire and a sort of a fire extinguisher on a hook beside in the barrack rooms. So that was, that was one of the laws of things about safety. The laws of safety, the laws of sort of discipline, there was laws of confidentiality, cleanliness and, you know- And of course the other thing that we had quite frequently was VD inspections. You had to stand in a line, drop your trousers and they would- The Medical Officer would come round and check all that sort of thing, you know, and that- I don’t think that mattered too much when we were in the boys service but when we got into Bomber Command that was in- Well that was the natural because, I don’t know if you read any of the book of Bomber Command, they- A lot of them were terribly-
CB: Infected?
BY: Well, I’ve got a book in there it’s, I’ve forgotten what his name is but it’s one of the most in-depth sorts of stories that you can read about what happened in Bomber Command, the crews- The couldn’t care less once they, you know, they focused on their job at question. Their lives at- Anything else was-
CB: Life expectancy was so short.
BY: Yeah. They didn’t know whether they were coming back or not, they were coming back it was jolly good but if they didn’t, you know- And of course they were all young men a lot of them were all, twenty-two, my cousin was only twenty-two.
CB: And the term station bicycle, was running in those days?
BY: Is that- Yes oh yes, well sort of thing, I know what you mean, I know exactly what you mean.
CB: What about security, where-
BY: Oh security, you got in trouble if you broke out. You had to be in at all levels, in the boys service you had to be in by, I think it was ten o’ clock at night. You had to be in your billet by ten o’ clock.
CB: Well, part of the legal aspect, was also related to a comment you made earlier about sabotage, so what was the issue with sabotage and who were these saboteurs, potentially?
BY: Well, the German aircraft, the German prisoner of wars that were already captured and were in camps in England and wherever, and they all wore a special uniform, of big yellow patch on their elbow and something. They would recognise them quite easily, sort of thing, but- And they did a lot of good work because they were put to work you see, building walls and things like that, and all sorts of things. But I think the main worry about the whole service aspect was, the shortage of food because you see, I haven’t spoken to you about this but my trip on the troop ship was- I can tell you quite a bit about that but the, the U-boats- that were shot down, or sunk rather in the North Atlantic in February, March was amazing, and they were carrying food from Canada, from America, from South Africa, from anywhere, the West Indies, wherever they could get food to England, and, you know, that’s why the drive for dig for victory, you know that slogan? You know, that- Everybody had- I mean sports field, stadiums were ripped up and turned into allotments-
CB: And on the airfield itself, there was a vegetable growing patch was there? And also-
BY: No I can’t remember one really, the only thing I remember was a tremendous sort of- On every camp was petrol dump and that was guarded and surrounded and, you know, all- Every security was made to maintain that, sort of thing.
CB: And the coal dump?
BY: Oh yeah, yeah. I’ll get the boys get another cup-
CB: Ok we’ll stop there. When we were talking about law earlier, there’s Civil Law and Air Force Law but the concentration was really on Air Force Law, to what extent did you learn about Civil Law as well?
BY: Well, I feel that, if you committed a crime and the crime reached a certain level it would have to be tried by Civil Law as well, and- Does that help?
CB: Yeah. It was just putting things into context wasn’t it?
BY: Yes, I mean- May I put it another way, that the Air Force, or the services are not solely responsible for the law of the land.
CB: No
BY: It assists obviously, and they guide and the sort of, you know, they do all the speed work for it, but at the end of the day it’s the same as all laws- I mean it seems that, that [unclear] does, all goes through but they don’t always take note of stuff ‘cause they don’t know, they don’t understand it, I mean she’s been at that game for- What is she now? Sixty-nine, she’s been on it thirty years.
CB: Your daughter?
BY: Yes.
CB: But in the air force context, then it's always stressed is it not that the ultimate sanction they have is the courts-martial?
BY: Correct, yes that’s right.
CB: We’ll stop there for a mo.
BY: The war, only as- When they were in captive, not how they were kept, and what conditions they met led up to them being captive for what they were doing, sort of thing, I can’t say any more than that.
CB: Where were they housed? When you were at Harwell, where were they housed?
BY: To be quite honest I can’t tell you, I didn’t see- I saw more of them later on in the service life.
CB: Yeah.
BY: When I came back from overseas, I was- Because they didn’t get out- They didn’t get home straight away, sort of thing, they, on their own.
CB: No, but in the early stages then we’ve got aircrew who’d been shot down and that sort of thing.
BY: I think the majority of the prisoner of wars didn’t want anything- They were quite happy, they were fed well, they, you know, they had communication to- That’s another thing, we didn’t have any communications you see, nothing at all it was no- There was no- Or might be how today, I mean, things happen so quickly now.
CB: Yeah.
BY: Don’t they and I mean-
CB: Were your parents allowed to know where you were serving in the RAF?
BY: Oh yes, oh yeah, they knew where I was staying but they didn’t know anything about- ‘Cause the only information that I had with them was by- We used, what they called aerograph[?], it was a sort of a, I don’t know how it worked but I presume it was telephone- By telephone to some paper company in England and sort of transgressed that way.
CB: This is when you were abroad?
BY: Oh yeah.
CB: But when you were at home, that is to say at Harwell-
BY: Well at Harwell, I came home quite- Several days- Several weekends, that was several weekend- I suppose I came home- I was there best part of a year and I suppose I came home about three times that year. So I had some idea- Did we have our tea? Fair minded answer he could’ve given me.
CB: Yes, the parents supported you but they- Indirectly.
BY: Yeah, at Halton they- I think they wrote to the padre and found out how I was getting on, so- But mind you, on the first day when we went to Halton there was quite a few went back by train the next morning. I don’t want to live in-
CB: I can believe it, yeah.
BY: I don’t want to live in a situation like this.
CB: Yeah, even though it’s- Well in peacetime they had the choice.
BY: Oh yeah, yeah.
CB: Yeah, when I joined a man left after one night ‘cause he couldn’t stand being in a dormitory. When the war started-
BY: I wonder what he would’ve been like in the stable?
CB: Oh, nightmare.
BY: Oswald Bell, that’s the man, Oswald Bell he was the owner of a fleet of horses in that part, East Hendred and-
CB: When the war started in September ’39 you were still at Cosford, when did the control of letters start?
BY: Oh when I went overseas.
CB: Right. Not when you were in the UK?
BY: No, I don’t think so, I can’t remember so. But, I mean, I had the- In those days you could ring up home I think, but once you got abroad that was it sort of thing.
CB: Yeah.
BY: Do you want me to tell you a little bit about troop ship life?
CB: We do, so where did you embark?
BY: From Liverpool, and we went- I told you we assembled at Hednesford and we all marched to- ‘Cause in those days there was a railway station right on the quayside at Liverpool. I think well, I don’t know where the dock was, or, well it doesn’t matter what the name of the dock was, but we all assembled there and we all looked up and we said (there was about fifteen-hundred of us) ‘Are we sailing that thing?’. It was an eight or nine-thousand pound boat, used to be hauling before the war, before the Air Ministry got hold of it, was hauling sort of meat from south of- Argentina to Britain ‘cause we had a lot of meat from Argentina before the war, you know, and anyway, we looked at that thing and we turned round, then were down at the gangplank an’ we were marched up there, and there was not- It was amazing, well it beggars belief, that to house twelve to fifteen-hundred men, there was about five toilets, there was no proper mess decks where we could sit down and have our meals. It was a shambles, and, fortunately we had one officer- We had beside tradesmen, this fifteen-hundred tradesmen we had three balloon squadrons there, it was- There were not very many in the squadron but the leader of the balloon squadron was a, was an officer called Garry Marsh, he was a film star, he made several films if you go through the film industry you’ll see his name and he was Bill [unclear] and all these sort of things, and he stood by us and he said, ‘This is not on,’ he said, and he allowed us, or encouraged us to walk down the gangplank and walk of the ship, and we all walked off the ship down the- Nearly everybody walked off, and there was a crowd on the quayside and here and there, there was an embarkation officer who’s duty was to, to deal with the shipping of troops onto the boats and they were prancing around with their revolvers hanging round their neck. There was a- This lasted for about three or four hours and they decided, the Air Ministry in their wisdom (and I do say wisdom) decided- So they sent us back on the train again to a place called- I can’t think of the name of it- In, not very far, about twenty miles away in Lancashire and they kept us there for a fortnight while the people, carpenters, you know, various people, sorted out the mess. The boat was left to be expected, to sail around the world in, sort of thing, and eventually we, we were housed- Next time we were marshalled up, and we were- I think there were soldiers there, so making sure that we didn’t start running. Now go up the gangplank, went up the gangplank, we’d been to- No Hednesford, was it Macclesfield, anyway we’ll say it was Macclesfield, it doesn’t matter the name of the place. We were there a fortnight, and the air force law was tramped down to us, what we should’ve done, it was, it was, you know, to mutiny- It was a mutinous act and all that, without, you know, despite what the circumstances were. I mean it was a non-starter right from the go of it, the- Anyway, when we went back the second time, we were made certain we went up the gangplank, and the gangplank was pulled up very quickly and it parked out about three-hundred yards off the shore, so we couldn’t get back, and this was in first week in January- First week of February, I think. But before the Captain of the boat had orders to move off and join the convoy the other side of- We went over the top of Ireland into the Atlantic, North Atlantic. When the Captain of the- I mean a small sort of powered lighter / launcher came on with an MP, the local MP, and a Minister of Health or something like that to see it was fit for us to go, and he must’ve said ‘Yes,’ and off we went. Anyway, we got clear and went to the high seas on the North Atlantic, cold, windy, wet, oh miserable it was. I can always remember it, and there were four ships there, four troop ships waiting to go, ranked on the horizon by three or four capital naval ships, HMS- I forget- Three- Two of them were dreadnought and other one was cruisers, you know, that sort of thing, and they- And once we got away from the shore every day the controller of the naval boats would indicate to the Captain of each troop ship where we had to sail, how we had to- And we were sailing, one day we were going east, one day we were going west, it was like a [unclear]. They knew where the submarines were, they knew where the activity of the U-boats were, especially at night, and it took us fifteen days to get from Liverpool to Sierra Leone, Freetown in Sierra Leone. It’s not called Sierra Leone now is it, what’s it called now?
CB: It is called Sierra Leone.
BY: Is it?
CB: Yeah, yeah.
BY: And, and during that time we were- We all slept in hammocks, shoulder to shoulder, [unclear] you know, and of course when the boat rolled, you were- You can, well I don’t need to explain, you can imagine can’t you? People close to- head high. And that’s how we carried on. But as soon as we- And we weren’t allowed ashore, I suppose they thought, ‘This is a [unclear] lot, we’re not gonna let these people get ashore,’ they- We were anchored off about half-a-mile away from shore at Freetown, and- While some sort of, operation or conference carried on, we don’t know what, but what we do know is what we saw, was little boats coming out, young lads about fifteen or sixteen kind of boys, local boys- Boats were full of oranges, lemons, bananas, grapes and- What their technique was, you see, they came up to the boat, they were allowed to come up to the boat and they had, they had another basket which they would attach to a rope, they’d fling the basket up to somebody leaning over the taffrail, catch onto it, put their money in, sixpence or a shilling, and what you got for a shilling was amazing, sort of thing, and then you’d send the empty basket down carefully, with the money in, and then they would put the goods in it, up it’d come again and- And that carried on for best part of a couple of days. So we were getting stuff from these people unofficially, but we were happy to pay for it. I think, I think the most you paid was a shilling or half a crown or- I think some people who had money- But that was the end of- But then we carried on then, it was all peaceful then to go down to the Cape, there were massive boats, there was bunting flying off the ships all- There was no restriction of the- You weren’t allowed to smoke in the North Atlantic in the first fifteen days, I think it was a little bit more then fifteen- It was fifteen days we didn’t see land, and through the zig-zagging sort of direction which we came from to avoid the enemy, and at night you see we used to hear the depth charges going.
CB: Oh did you?
BY: Yeah, every night there were depth charges and submarine gunning for, you know, all that sort of thing, and fortunately we were lucky but a boat before us, in- Was sunk down and about thee-hundred went down, you know, you didn’t hear much about it, well the public didn’t know much about it. But- And the waves were cold, and the waves and the boats were going up like that, you see pictures of it now but- They were up to twenty feet sometimes-
CB: Were they really? Yeah.
BY: You know and-
CB: Not comfortable.
BY: That wasn’t comfortable that, but I think most of us were frightened, we were really frightened because we were there- We were defenceless, we didn’t have any armours, arms, we were just on that boat, and we had the handicap of what was flung at us by the, by the German naval people. But-
CB: So what did you do all day on the ship?
BY: Well we had- There was lots of little, all the- They made certain that we- There was quite a few people and the cookhouse was on a wire cage on the deck, open deck. This is hard to believe, you wouldn’t think- but- and I might be able to show you some of the information on- And then there was guards for spotting periscopes, or spotting any enemy ship which might’ve drifted into that way or any happening on the [unclear], on conditions of weather and if there was a- So we were occupied by doing sort of duties all the time, not all the time because there was a lot of- We could sit down in the mess decks down under and play cards or play games or draughts or whatever, chess or whatever. We passed the time away like that, and then eventually we got to Durban and we were allowed ashore there. We were there for a week, so we could leave the boat from twelve o’ clock mid-day to twelve o’ clock in the morning, to twelve o’clock at night, have to go back to the ship, back to our hammocks and all that sort of thing. But, in the meantime there was a scheme in Durban, and I think this applied to a lot of the South African sides, course the apartheid was very strong at that time, very much strong, and these English people or, we’ll call them white South African, they sort of encouraged- And I was going along with two fellows, two RAF fellows and two army chaps and they said, ‘Can we take you somewhere to give you a meal?’ and oh, you know, yes we could see there was some, you know- No, no restrictions there so were went with them, then we went to their house for the day, for the evening and they took us back to the boat at night and that sort of scheme, and that carried on for about five or six days, and they contacted to our parents, they wrote to our parents as civilians-to-civilians. So our parents knew roughly that we were all right as far as Durban was concerned, and then it was all back up through the Mozambique Channel, to the Suez Canal and we alighted at Port Suez, and then all stand- Hang around there for days and days, we didn’t get any money for a while, you know how it is. Everything was done alphabetically, and I was a ‘Y’ so I had to wait for my money till the second day or something, something like that, and then eventually it all- They already- There was some former thingy gone on, they had some workshops built there, they didn’t have the equipment all together or they, they- Some other boats must’ve brought in- But we had machine tools and things, and very soon after about a fortnight, three weeks, we started servicing Allison engines, twelve cylinder American engines which were fitted to-
CB: To Kittyhawk's?
BY: Kittyhawk's, Tomahawks. Tomahawks were the first one, then the Kittyhawk's, and also there were three sections, there was the Allison section which was the inline section, there was the Cyclone section which was a radial and the Pratt & Whitney section was also, Pratt & Whitney. So these three sorts of lines working at top speed, twelve-hour shifts to service them. A lot of them were coming in, in packages- The Americans sent them over to Takoradi somehow and they used to come through Deversoir back to where we were in Kasfareet just couple of miles outside the Suez Canal so, and there was plenty of workers, plenty of things to assemble and fit, and they all had to be tested as well so. Some were assembled by- If an aircraft came in with an engine to be changed, well the engine would be taken out and a new one would be put in and that sort of thing, and- So there was plenty of activity there, and this activity went on at the height of the war in the desert war, and they had several sort of Commander-in-Chief, who weren’t very good until Montgomery came along, he sorted all that out. He was a queer man really, I mean he would- He lived by himself in a tent with his batman and didn’t associate with anyone else but he was, he was a very keen operator, he knew and- Nearest we get to- Got to the line was about ten miles away at [unclear], they came down to us. So, it could’ve been a, a nasty episode and then that carried on, carried on and things got easier, lots of activity in the desert, sometimes some of us had to go into the desert to do a job and back again sort of thing, and then eventually we, we landed, or we’d driven by truck in a convoy of about hundred vehicles along to coast road of North Africa to Tripoli. Now a lot of people say there’s only- There’s two Tripoli’s, there’s Tripoli in Palestine or that part of the world, there’s another Tripoli in North Africa, and we went to the one in North Africa, which was quite well equipped because Mussolini spent a lot of time and he, his- He had some good thing about him, Mussolini, he colonised a lot of North Africa and he got work for the tribesman there and he got their, he got their side [unclear]- Anyway, it come to the point- It was three factories there, there was a Alfa Romeo factory, there was a- What was the other one? Well-known name, car factory, and we took over one of the car factories, and that was well equipped with everything we wanted and then we eventually transferred to Centaurus engines assembly centre- Which we then had cooperation with Bomber Command because they were flying and a lot of our work was down to 87 Squadron, I think it was, Beaufighters. You know, we- And then I was there a little while and then they flew us back again to Naples, and then come across again in a troop ship, another open ship over there, or a smaller ship and we carried on and then by that time, the British Army had conquered North Africa and then we’re talking about now 1942, ‘43 sort of thing, and then they moved across to Naples then, basically, and we settled in Naples and we did the same work there in Naples and- I was there at Naples for about eighteen months doing the same sort of work, you know, and- Enjoyed life ‘cause it was a bit easier and we had, we had better sort of living conditions in Italy, and I stayed there till Easter ‘45. So, I left my mother and father at the 1st of January 1941, and I never saw them again, I never spoke to them again till Easter ‘45. That’s a long time, now if you were married, you only stayed three years but I stayed four years and- Four years plus, and of course I should’ve come home on a bit- I got injured playing sport sort of thing, so I had to take- It was one troop used to go back in the 1940s to England every year, every month see, one troop out a month, so I had to stay back another month, not that I worried really ‘cause I was quite happy there and I had a nice little house, room overlooking the bay of Naples and could see Sorrento in- Sorrento were in far away and Capri were in high- You could see- It was a wonderful place to stay, so these are the plus sides of things, you know.
CB: How much work did you get done?
BY: Oh a lot of work, we had to work hard there. I mean ‘cause of continuous work coming in from the western desert-
CB: Is this damage, or servicing?
BY: Oh yes, damage some damage and some, quite ridiculous. I remember one case an aircraft was flown in, and the people that dealt it did very well, it was a piece of shrapnel, or bullet or something, gone through one side of the, one of the cylinders, and it went right through outside and out the other side and some clever fellow, he sort of made the two holes, rounded them either side, he poked a piece of tube in right the way through and then he drove two wooden spits into either side, and that aircraft flew back.
CB: Did it really?
BY: Yeah, it’s amazing that, I mean the pilot took a chance but he succeeded because the circulation of fluid in the twelve engines. But they were they were cheaper and easier to assemble then the Rolls Royce were, they weren’t so complicated. But- Where do we go from here?
CB: Right, so how long did you stay out there? So, we’re talking about getting into Naples then the Italian surrender-
BY: I got into Naples on October ’43, and I stayed there to Easter ’45, and we stayed in a vacated- What do they call them? Where people go mad. An asylum, it was quite a big hospital and we turned that into a proper workshop, where we could service aircraft and send them out, and all that sort of thing, any small items had to be done and- I think spares were the problem ‘cause they had to come from the UK. But they eventually did get because-
CB: Which of the aircraft-
BY: At that time, I think just about- I’m not quite certain what the date was when it- When the Mediterranean was cleared for English shipping to come through. I think it was ’44, I think. Or would it be, sometime when they were- When the invasion of Europe was, sometime-
CB: Well, they invaded Southern France after D-Day, so that meant that the Mediterranean was reasonably-
BY: I’m not certain about those facts Chris, but-
CB: What aircraft are you servicing now?
BY: For Beaufighters.
CB: Right, still Beaufighters.
BY: Yep, Beaufighters. They were the main things, ‘cause we were in sections so all our work was done- I was working on Allisons all the time see.
CB: And are these Coastal Command by now or are they Bomber Command- Middle East Air Force?
BY: They were Bomber Command, they were Bomber Command, well-
CB: Middle East Air Force?
BY: I’m not certain about that ‘cause they policed the Mediterranean for a long time.
CB: Were they rocket firing or, were they bomb dropping?
BY: They were bomb dropping and rocket firing yeah, but some of the, some of the very well-known pilots were killed in that, in that place because when the Mediterranean came under the control of the allies, parts of southern, the southern side of that below Israelia, Heliopolis[?] and all these places were still sort of under the jurisdiction of the Germans really, but that was soon cleared up and-
CB: The Vichy French?
BY: Yeah, that’s right yeah. But eventually it sorted itself out and-
CB: But in Italy, you were in the Naples area, but how far north did you go from Naples?
BY: Not very far.
CB: Right, and then where did you go from Naples?
BY: Naples, I went back to North Africa for a while, when the Centaurus came in because a team of Bristol aeroplane specialists came over to give us indication of the servicing, the stripping and the, you know, general of the Centaurus, which was a sleeve valve engine, and-
CB: Though, retro fitted to the Beaufighters were they?
BY: I don’t know are they? Yes, I think there were and I don’t know what other aircraft the fitted to, Buccaneers or something like that.
CB: No, no that’s a post-war-
BY: But while we were at sea coming or going out or- We would often see these pre-war, sort of aircraft flying around, you know. It’s quite amazing.
CB: So then, when did you return to the UK?
BY: As I said, April, Easter ‘45. I then went there to St Eval in Cornwall and 179 Squadron and they had, what’s the name- But their job was- And as we were at St Eval, war ended, European war ended.
CB: Ok.
BY: And the job was for- Our job was to go to every, every- The Atlantic or any of the waterways and direct the, any German vessels or whatever to enter English ports, and that was our job and, I was only there about two months and then, I was posted to Accrington in North of England, Northumberland on 213 Squadron then we went- That was a night fighter squadron, then- From then on my last four years in the Air Force was in night fighters, and that was-
CB: Were these nights fighter or were they interdictors who went in the bomber stream?
BY: They were all Mosquitos, latterly we had the Jet Age came in just as I was leaving, and that was an Armstrong Whitley fighter. You don’t hear much of ‘em but that’s what we had first of all, I’ve got a picture of them somewhere but-
Other: A jet plane?
BY: Hm?
Other: A jet plane?
BY: Oh yes.
CB: I’ll just stop there a bit.
BY: -14 Squadron-
CB: Which was at Accrington was it?
BY: No, no, this is at Coltishall.
CB: Oh Coltishall, ok.
BY: Which is now closed, near Norwich.
CB: Yep.
BY: I had a call to go the officers mess, and when I got there, it was the Squadron Leader there, a VR, volunteer reserve on- He’d come to visit the CO, it was a- Well they were doing a sort of volunteer’s activity on the weekends in those days, and I- And he called me and he said to me, he said, ‘I understand you’re,’ this is what he said to me, ‘I understand you’re leaving the Air Force in the next month or so.’ I said, ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’m now married and I want to raise a family and I feel that if I raise a family in, you know, civilian life it might be more advantageous.’ Anyway, I said, ‘My wife is a school-teacher in Bristol and, good school and, I don’t want to upset her sort of way of life’. ‘Oh that’s fair enough,’ he said, he said and he said, any-rate, he asked me a few questions then he said, ‘I you like-,’ he gave me a card, he said, ‘You come and see so and so on such and such a date, we’ll find something for you,’ so I said, ‘Oh what have you got in mind?’ ‘Oh,” he said, ‘We’re building up our sales unit.’ So I said to him straight away, ‘Well I don’t want to go on selling things,’ I said, ‘That’s not me,’ I said, ‘I’d rather, I joined the Air Force to learn about mechanics and sort of how to use my hands and how to use machine tools and, all the other things that go with that sort of life.’
CB: Yeah.
BY: So he said, ‘Well I tell you what,’ he said, ‘If you were still wanting to carry on and be turner, or slotter or,’ you know, all these sorts of things, he said, ‘We’re starting a small shop.’ And there was seven of us, not a very big shop it was, but we were there on our own, just the seven of us and we had quite a few machine tools in there, everything from presses to sort of, everything which was needed to do anything in the engineering, more or less, on a small scale [unclear], and, ‘Would you like to join that?’ I said, ‘Well that sounds, that sounds more my line.’ So I started there, I stayed there with them till I retired. But the beautiful thing about- Everyday- Now what we were doing, basically, the technicians in those days, I mean, in the drawing office, people were drawing, they were tracing and all that sort of- Well nowadays they don’t do that at all it’s all done electronic as you well know. What they were doing, the drawers would come to us with an idea to make something, to design something ‘cause this is unguided weapons ‘cause there was a lot of hard work in the early days of weapons to make certain everything was, you know, spot on and weight and all that sort of thing. So we used to get [unclear] of drawings come in to do that, some on ordinary paper, some on blueprints, mostly in blueprints and then you would, you know, study them, or and that was it. Some jobs would take a day, some days two days, sometimes a fortnight sort of thing, and every job was different, and some of this work it was the pre, what’s the word, before something goes into designing?
Other: Prototype?
BY: Hm?
Other: Prototype?
BY: Prototype, that’s the name. Before the prototype, we were getting everything before the prototype. Now in that case it was a lot of, well that’s not what we want or, that didn’t sort of suit us or that didn’t work out when it was tested, and we had a big cellar underneath and we’d just drop it underneath and wait for the next idea to come from them. So it was- I stayed with them because I found it interesting.
CB: What was the company?
BY: Bristol Air, Guided Weapons Department, and I stayed doing that, people say, ’Well you should’ve gone, you should apply for this and apply for that and gone or.’ I’m a believer in job satisfaction rather than job achievement, maybe I'm old fashioned, maybe I'm wrong, but here I am.
CB: Didn’t do you any harm did it?
BY: No.
CB: And you enjoyed the work?
BY: I enjoyed the work and I found it interesting.
CB: And you rose up in the-
BY: Well, I mean, I mean, your ability, and what is more you see, people are always coming down to us and saying, ‘Something’s wrong with my motorbike, I want a new bush or something,’ you know, and we would turn out a new bush for him or that sort of thing and he would give us half a crown or whatever. You know, I miss all that, and to make things for myself you know, odd times but my- But really and truly, all the time I was with them I was occupied all the day long.
CB: And you enjoyed it?
BY: Yeah.
CB: Now you’ve got three children, where did you meet your wife?
BY: I met my wife, first of all, her father’s a farmer and mother- She’s the youngest of seven children so, how can I put it? She was- She used to come home from Bristol to a place called Othery, which is not very far away, near Langport, you’ve heard of Langport, near Langport, to the farm, and help her mother every Friday or Saturday. She’d come round Friday evening and stay to Sunday night, go back to school on Monday morning, and at the same time I was at Locking, on this one year's course, fitter one's course.
CB: Yep, Weston-Super-Mare
BY: And we used to go up by train, she went back by train and we met on the station, I happened- In the old days the corridor trains, you know, you sort of meet and talk to people and- I used to see her several Sunday nights and then I wrote to her, she wrote to me I don’t quite know and it all started from there, and we got married this was 1948 sometime, ‘cause that was the year I was at Locking and then 1949 September we were married, and she was still teaching and then we bought this house, how much do you think I gave for this house?
CB: When?
BY: 19- I was what? 19- In 1951, I was thirty, it must’ve been about 1956 I bought it.
CB: Crikey
BY: 1956.
CB: Well less than-
Other: Thousand?
BY: Hmm?
Other: Thousand?
BY: Two-thousand- No.
CB: Was it?
BY: I bought it for two-thousand-and-fifty, it’s now worth-
CB: A bit more?
BY: A bit more, a lot more.
CB: Yeah, what do you reckon it’s worth now?
BY: Well, the house next door is empty, my neighbour next door she died not very long ago, couple of months ago and she’d lived there for sixty years.
CB: Gosh.
BY: And her house sold I think for three-eighty, three-hundred-and-eighty-thousand.
Other: [Chuckles]
CB: Amazing.
BY: I mean it’s ridiculous really.
CB: Yeah.
BY: And maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but I'll tell you this. I came out of the Air Force with a thousand quid in my pocket. My wife, I used to send to my wife my Marriage Allowance ‘cause I was married for eighteen months. So she had about over a thousand. I was about five-hundred pounds short for buying the house so I went to the bank manager and he lent it to me and about three months we cleared our loan, I never had a mortgage on this house other than-
CB: Amazing.
BY: And I, you know, I think of my young boys there- Two of them living in London, well you know what it’s like.
CB: Yeah,
BY: It’s frightening
CB: Absolutely, nothing for a million.
BY: Nothing at all, and I tell them what they’re going to do I think, ‘cause one, John, that’s the one that his wife, or his partner really, she’s an Executive, she’s a bright girl, she’s in the Save The Children organisation. Good job with them earning good money, I don’t know what she’s earning but they’re thinking about- At the present moment they’re living in London and paying rent and I said to them, you know, ‘It’s better to buy somewhere, and pay your mortgage, because you have got something at the end of it, whereas you paying rent is just money down the drain’.
CB: That’s right, yeah.
BY: And John is working in London, he works for England’s Rugby Union
CB: Oh, does he?
BY: That’s John, so they’re all- But they’ve all got jobs and they’re coping alright and David’s retired but he’s got his own business he goes, ‘course he was well known in a lot of the people in London, reporters and the Editor of the Financial Times quite well, you know, ‘cause he was a spokesman for Engineer Employers Federation-
CB: Oh yeah, got around a bit.
BY: And he said to me, when he found out David retired ‘cause David he’s got MS as well.
CB: Yes, nasty.
BY: Doesn’t walk very well, and this chap said, you know, he said ‘You want to start a business on your own, just going round chairing meetings’ and that’s what he does.
CB: Oh does he really?
BY: He chairs meetings, goes round- So he must be good at it.
CB: Yeah, how intriguing.
BY: You gotta be firm when you’re a Chairman, not let them, let the sort of syllabus wander on and wander on, you’ll be there all night otherwise, but that’s what he’s doing now, and he does- He’s his own boss he can go when he likes and he lives in, in Southampton, goes up to London quite frequently and most of these businesses down in London ‘cause he said to me, ‘I know more people in London then I do in Southhampton,’ but-
CB: We’ve covered a lot of things and early one you mentioned a passion for rugby? So what’s happened to your rugby life?
BY: Well, my rugby life, first of all started off learning- I come from a rugby village but, and I played quite a bit in the services, I was always in the station team and then I played in that- I tell you what, I’ve got a cap in there with a tassel on it, because there was a competition between the eight Commands; Fighter, Bomber, Tech Training, Flying Training, [unclear], what’s the [unclear].
CB: And Coastal?
BY: Coastal Command, it was quite- And they all have got a big command, there were a lot of men in the Air Force in those days in- This is 19- 1942 I think- No, no 1950 something and, so I- We had- They saw I was capable so they selected me out from Coltishall and I went with others and we assembled at Uxbridge as a Command side, and we played this competition against all the other Commands and we won it outright you see, and we had a hell of a time when we won ‘cause we were invited to Bentley Priory, and had a big- I think there was about, eight or nine officers and there was one All-Black was a player, there was one current in National playing in the side- So there, you know- They all knew what it’s all about sort of thing and we had a wonderful time and I’ve got a few photographs, you’ve seen one or two there and I’ve got a cap, they sent me a cap with the excuse, ‘We’re short of money, normally our caps are made of velvet but I’m sorry,’ but they got it printed on there, I’ll show you in a minute before you go.
CB: So when-
BY: And in between I played for Bridgewater and Albion, and I’ve played for Weston-Super-Mare, I’ve played for Devonport Services, I guested for Norwich and Lowestoft when I was over at Coltishall and so, you know, I’ve been around a little bit. Fortunately, I’m still here Chris, to tell the tale.
CB: Really good, yeah. Well Bert Yeandle, thank you very much for a most interesting conversation-
BY: Well I hope I’ve been- I hope it makes sense for your-
CB: I think it will fit really well, thank you.
BY: Do you? Really?
CB: We do, absolutely, thank you.
BY: Mostly-
CB: Your engines?
BY: Well the first engine I worked was a trainee engine, was a Morris Motors car, yep, that was in training, but then we came out I worked on Centaur, Pegasus, Merlins, Griffins, what’s the other ones?
CB: Derwent?
BY: Derwent, yes.
CB: Jet?
BY: I’m not very, I haven’t seen a lot of Jet engines because when I came out of the Air Force, I went into guided weapons you see, so that was the slight-
CB: So you were really a rockets man as well?
BY: Yeah.
Other: In terms of beauty, which would you say was the most beautiful engine you’ve worked on?
BY: Oh, the Rolls Royce, no doubt about it. It’s the most efficient, yeah, and I’ve worked- A lot of aircraft I’ve worked on, all sort of aircraft you know, Spitfires and Hurricanes, a little bit of Hurricanes, and Mosquitos are the aircraft I spent a lot of time on, and Wellingtons early on. They were not very good, you know, Wellingtons. Well in hindsight they’re not very- They were at the time, I mean, industry moves on, technicians move on and development moves on but I mean, an awful lot of aircraft that were built that were rubbish really and now when you compare with what there is at the latter part of the prop jets. See I came over, I flew over from Belfast to East Midlands just now, came over on a prop jet.
CB: Oh, did you?
BY: Hundred people on it, so they still use them, not that I- Fleebye-
CB: Flybe.
BY: Flybe, but I like to fly with [unclear] the one, yeah. Well-
CB: Thank you.
BY: I should’ve liked to of given you a cooked meal.


Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Bertram Arthur Yeandle,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 1, 2023,

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