The Boy from Augusta by Frank J Allnutt

BAllnuttFJAllnuttFJv1.pdf

Title

The Boy from Augusta by Frank J Allnutt

Description

This is part of John Allnutt's life story, from when he was a teenager on the family farm in Australia just before the war, joining the Royal Australian Air Force, his aircrew training in Australia. It continues with his journey across the Pacific, the United States and Atlantic to the UK in late 1943 early 1944. It goes on to record his conversion to heavy bombers and his operational tour as an air gunner on no 625 Squadron flying Lancasters at RAF Kelstern. On completion of his operational tour, he was commissioned, got married and returned to Melbourne in mid 1945.

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Temporal Coverage

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47 typed pages with photographs

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IBCC Digital Archive

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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.

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BAllnuttFJAllnuttFJv1

Transcription

[photograph] [inserted] The Boy from Augusta [/inserted] [inserted] Frank John Allnutt [/inserted]

Brennan’s [italics] Warmstone [/italics] Guest House, the hotel and all other tourist business began to decline very much and rationing really began to tighten up.

About this time I joined up with Matt Brennan and became a licenced [sic] fisherman. We fished around the islands, rowing the boat loaded with nets from the island opposite [italics] Warmstone [/italics] up past [italics] Piggy Island, [/italics] across the large sand bank to [italics] Molloy Island [/italics] where we would camp for the night. This was mostly on a Sunday. On Monday we would return home, pack the fish into kerosene boxes with ice, covered with hessian then put them on the train for Perth Fish Market. Langford, I believe, was the selling agent. I did this for about nine months. Shifting to Kudardup made it impossible to continue.

Mr Gilbert, who leased a group farm at Kudardup, decided to build a cottage at West Bay. I helped him to stand up the timber frame walls and also the fibro cement sheets. More carpentry work! Mr Gilbert was the local Justice of Peace (J.P.) where one had to go to have all documents witnessed. Pop and Mum then took out a lease on the Kudardup property and we shifted there. The Augusta School nearly closed because Mum put my siblings into the Kudardup School and they no longer attended Augusta! Not long after we moved the Brennans and the Deeres left to go to Perth and Albany. The farm at Kudardup was over the road from Miss Speed’s (the Busselton teacher) parents’ old farm.

Several months before we left Augusta I joined the County Squadron of the Air Training Corps (80 Correspondence Squadron No 5 Cadet Wing). I had one trip to Perth in the May of 1942. This was the only time we were able to practice drill and have lectures. Also had a visit to [italics] Dunreath [/italics] Aerodrome, now Perth Airport.

[photograph]

[italics] Cape Leeuwin lighthouse - 1935. [/italics]

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The rest was done by correspondence. Late in the year I went to a camp for a week at the new RAAF base at Busselton. Also I came to Perth on the 10th November to be sworn into the RAAF Aircrew Reserve.

Farm life went on at [italics] “Roundhay Park”, [/italics] the new name of the farm, named after a Park just outside Leeds (England) where my Mother used to go on the tram when she was a child. All the family milked the cows by hand and Pop separated the milk. Our cream went by train to Watsonias at Spearwood and from there we got our butter and half sides of bacon. Our herd was expanding.

I received great help from the Augusta school teacher, Bernice O’Callagan at Augusta and Kudardup, with the Air Training Corps lessons. On the evening I had to sit for my Air Crew Exam, Bernice was to supervise the exam. That day she and her mother received news that her brother had been killed in the Army.

I did the exam on my own, so I was able to double check some of my answers! In March 1943 I received my call-up to Perth where, after reporting to A.N.A. (Australian Natives Association, nothing to do with Aboriginals) House, I went by bus to Clontarf, where I was placed with thirty others, kitted out and slept in tents in the pine forest. This wasn’t such a shock to me as it was to some of the university lads. A couple of nice surprises were that two of the education instructors, Flight Lieutenant (Dicky) Chamberlain and Flying Officer Stallwood, had been people whom I had delivered milk to at Augusta. As my education standard didn’t match most of the others, I now know how they helped me. I had teeth problems so went back courses from 39 to 41 Course, that was where the instructors helped by recommending I be kept at the school. Clontarf was known as Number 6 Initial Training School.

After finally passing out I was to be posted to No. W.A.G.S. (Wireless and Gunners School), Ballarat in May. While at I.T.S. the most leave we had was Friday night to Monday morning so I was never able to get home. I.T.S. leave was very nicely timed as I was able to go to the Shenton Park Scout Hall Old-time Dances on a Friday night. Marg Sylvester (nee Santwykt) went also, so she took me. It was a nice bit of country life in the city. I would stay with Auntie Pol or Auntie Lil Brown or stay in camp and catch up on study. We went from I.T.S. and caught the train at Claremont Station straight to Ballarat. Claremont Show Grounds were the Army Staging Camp. Also there were long platforms away off the main suburban station. We left about 3.00 pm (1500 hrs) and travelled to Kalgoorlie arriving the next day about midday. Being Aircraftmen Grade 2 (the lowest rank - all aircrew trainees hold this rank) we were allocated to enclosed cattle trucks. Ten men sleeping on straw palliasses [sic] with a train type toilet in the corner and a wash hand basin. No windows, only the doorway to see out. Fortunately the train stopped every couple of hours or more to take on water so we could walk around. Most played cards. Meal times were very primitive. Large

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twenty- gallon portable clothes coppers full of sausages and gravy and whole boiled or mashed potatoes. You lined up with your dixie (metal dish) and sat on the railway lines to eat, competing with flies. As it was May they weren’t so bad.

A couple of days later we arrived at Port Pirie (South Australia) and changed trains. Had lunch there in huge canvas tents. Also had a shower, shave etc. From Port Pirie we boarded a real train to Adelaide where we camped at the Adelaide Show Grounds, arrived at night time. We went into Adelaide next morning and late that evening, boarded a train for Ballarat. These were regular trains - 5 foot 6 inch gauge and sheer luxury after the Nullarbor crossing. We arrived at Ballarat at daybreak and it was very cold. At Ballarat I experienced my first snow falls. Not very heavy, but just freezing cold. If any Airman was caught outside huts without his “great coat” on they were on a charge so as to stop them getting the ‘flu and delaying their departure date. Ballarat Air Force Base was the first real active aerodrome I had been on. I was into study and learning - enjoyed the radio theory but had trouble with the Morse code. After passing the exams in Morse code I was classified as Wireless Operator Air Gunner, as used in British bombers then being built by Anson. I was posted to Ballarat in Victoria.

Friends at Ballarat were Joan Bellville (her brother was at the aerodrome) and her friend Mary Smith, dancing partners at the Australian Comfort Fund and Town Hall Social Club. Had a meal at their home. Had my first beer, it was a shandy, in a small pub called [italics] The Grapes of Wrath [/italics]. Ballarat Aerodrome was home to Whachet Trainers Single Engine and Avro Ansons twin engine planes. The Station Commander was Wing Commander Fairburn who had his own plane, a Rolls Royce car complete with charcoal gas producer. Not to Rolls Royce specifications really! On my two leaves I stayed at the Australian Comfort Fund Hostel over from the Ballarat Railway station. The building still stands today.

After four months my Morse was not improving so was taken off the course and put on guard duties. One duty was night guarding the Radio Communication Transmitters for the Southern Command on the Ararat road. A cold job but we cooked our own meals - dinner and breakfast, which was chops, steak and sausages. We would buy eggs from the farmer opposite, also fresh cream to have with our jam and bread. I was on guard duty till the middle of September, when I was posted to West Sale, Aerodrome No 3 B.A.G.S.

We had a five day leave in Melbourne, five days and six nights as they say in the travel books! We stayed in the Salvation Army Hostel in Little Lonsdale Street on the east side of Bourke Street. This timber building was destroyed by fire a few years ago. Saw the Shrine of Remembrance, Phar Lap in the Museum, Luna Park and tried Ice Skating at the Glasuarium on the banks of the Yarra, very near Princes Bridge. It was there I met a girl, Betty Robinson, who was a figure skater who helped me to stay upright. She lived in St Kilda with her grandmother. I wrote to her from then on.

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After the leave we went to West Sale and started my flying and Air Gunner course. After a couple of flights I became used to flying and not feeling sick. We flew in old Fairy Battle single engine planes with open gun positions and in Airspeed Oxfords with a turret. The air guns we used were Vickers Gas Operated Air Machine Guns. The flying area was over the Lakes Entrance and Ninety Mile Beach where the scenery was brilliant. Very blue waters, white sands, green paddocks and snow covered mountains in the distance. After two months and just after my birthday I passed my flying and gunners test, was promoted to Sergeant and received my A.G. Badge, which was sewn on by the C.W.A. (Country Woman’s Association) ladies. That night there was a graduation dinner, after we had paid our mess fees of course! I received my wings two days after my nineteenth birthday as shown in my Log Book.

Next day we were sent home on pre-embarkation leave, me to Kudardup, Western Australia and then to 2 E.D. Bradfield Park, Sydney. My rail pass was from Sale to Perth to Kudardup, back to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

After the usual train journeys the only difference from before was we travelled in carriages across the Nullarbor. I had ten days leave from Perth, which was eight days at home at Kudardup. My sister Betty was in Bridgetown so Mum and I went there to spend one night and then left for Perth. Another day and a half I was back at Claremont and off across Australia again. My Mother came up to Perth and I said goodbye to her at the station giving her a heart shaped locket, picked out two days before, which I now have in my possession after all these years.

Also, while at the Perth Station, I witnessed the unusual sight of seeing a “S” Class locomotive [italics] “Mountain” [/italcs] class and very large. The next day I witnessed one of the new Australian Standard Garratt locos. A real monster and the biggest loco in Australia at the time. They were a war time special and were not as great a success as hoped. They certainly filled a war time need!!

We had two days in Melbourne. Saw Betty Robinson again and finally got on the train for Albury and Sydney. Because we were on pre-embarkation leave they put us on the [italics] Spirit of Progress [/italics] - Australia’s premier train. When we went through Parkston (Kalgoorlie) we were able to buy tins of peaches and pears from the Army Canteen. In the Dining Car on the train, while chatting up the female staff, we asked for tin fruit and ice cream. They told us they hadn’t seen tinned fruit for a year, so we made a deal, we supplied the fruit and they the ice cream. The trip was over before we knew it. After leaving the train at Albury, Les Fairhead and I went to have look at the huge engine. The driver asked us where we were from and we said truthfully “country W.A.”. He said would we like a ride in the cab, so we rode from the front of the train to the rear. It was so different from the times we rode on the steam engine at Augusta. At about one in the morning we left for Sydney arriving mid-morning next day. Sydney Central

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Station was huge and finally caught a local electric train and bus to Bradfield Park. The next two days were hectic as the late-comers had to be immunised and kitted out for overseas travel. The second night we all went to a dance at Concorde Military Hospital. No leave and we were really under guard all the time. Arrived back to 2 E.D. Had a meal, given sandwiches and bussed with our gear to a wharf just upstream from Sydney Harbour Bridge called [italics] Walsh Bay. [/italics] By afternoon we boarded the U.S.A.T. [italics] Willard A Holbrook, [/italics] bound to - that was the BIG question until the news that there were U.S. servicemen’s Aussie War Brides aboard. There were also a lot of wounded men as well.

We sailed under the Bridge, down the Harbour, out the Heads and into the Pacific Ocean. I was on “G” Deck, which was in the hold up forward. I also was very sea sick for a couple of days. The American style of rations were a change, especially the sliced bread, but jam on your porridge - NO, NO!!! Lots of bacon and eggs - some real. Just after we crossed the line (equator) I got an infected lower lip and went to hospital where it was operated on and had it drained. Had Christmas Day in hospital where I stayed until we arrived in San Francisco. Arriving in San Francisco was a great scene.

There we saw our first blimp (a motorised Air Balloon), then sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. Got up to leave the ship.Had a bandaged face. We were transferred from the berth onto a ferry to a Transit Camp on Angel Island, via the prison island of [italics] Alcatraz. [/italics] The camp consisted of nice heated timber huts. The PX (Post Exchange) Store was out of this world. Bought some pyjamas as the Air Force didn’t supply them, plus chocolates etcetera and sharp razor blades! In Australia the Air Force issued the Airman with [italics] Lucky Boy Razor Blades, [/italics] one blade on pay day, every two weeks. One was “lucky” if it remained sharp for one week. Angel Island is now part of a nature reserve. The next day we had leave to San Francisco. Caught the ferry to Fishermans Wharf, via the Alcatraz Island, where we were allowed to step ashore at the wharf. Lots of guards and security. In San Francisco we went on the cable tram cars to the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel (then the highest point of the town). From there I sent off a New Year card to home, which they received. In the evening we went “night clubbing” most unbeknown to me until now!

We went to an afternoon beer joint (Aussie Pub American version) to catch up with the American service men we met on the ship. We had photos taken here. Then we went to an eating house where we had the biggest “T” bone steak, nothing else, just the steak - cost about one pound Australian. That evening we went to the 365 Club, open 365 days a year, twenty-four hours a day. The home of the :Girl in the Fishbowl”. That’s right! A real girl in a huge fish bowl in the entrance. When we arrived we didn’t pay for a drink, everyone wanted to pay for us. They were so grateful for the Aussie hospitality given to their troops. About 11.00 pm we all made our way back to Angel Island.

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Next day, 31st December 1943, we embarked onto ferries to go across the Bay, past the San Francisco - Oakland Bridge - eight miles of it to Oakland. By late afternoon we were on a train, which was stopped in the middle of a roadway.

Here we, Ken Brady and I, were talking to a shopkeeper whose shop was opposite the train. He was interested in anything Aussie or any coins we had. In exchange he gave the “wounded guy” - ME - a bottle of American Whiskey and a carton of beer. Another new item to us! Ken and I kept the whiskey and gave the beer to the others in the carriage. We were the envy of the whole train. So we had toast for the New Year in 1944. Our carriage was a heated Pullman, complete with fold down beds with curtains and a coach porter. Also, a dining car with service. We felt like kings. Next morning we were into the Cascade Mountains, also the Sierra Nevada Range, with heaps of snow, mountains and fir trees. The following day we stopped at Salt Lake City. The locals must have thought us crazy. In the snow in shorts and shirts only, playing snow ball fights. Never saw any people as it was their Sunday. Also being so cold, who would venture out! Later that day we travelled through the Colorado Gorge. Saw people skating on the river and frozen water falls, over 200 feet. Pity we didn’t have cameras as we do today. Through the Rocky Mountains where I saw a Big Boy Steam Engine. I was amazed at its size and the noise as it flew past. During the night we went through the Moufit Tunnel, one of the longest in America. Across the frozen wheat fields to Chicago.

We didn’t stop and spent most of our time in railway yards. There were so many engines and trains. One thing that amazed me was the platforms, not like in Aussie and England. They were only twelve inches high and you walk up steps, as seen in the movies. From Chicago down to Philadelphia. On the rivers there were huge (four feet thick and twenty feet across) blocks of ice, packed up at all angles. From Philadelphia it was electric trains to our camp at Fort Slogan (New Jersey State). It again was an island and a permanent Army Depot. Spent the night there in luxury compared to Aussie Depots. Next day we had the usual medical examinations which I won’t describe in detail, except damn cold in the nude! Arrangements were made for the Air Force transcripts to have leave in New York. Quite early the next morning we caught the ferry, then the local electric train to Grand Central Station in New York. We went outside to catch a taxi to the Anzac Club in 56 Street West. While talking to the cab driver the locals jumped in so we missed the first couple of cabs. We soon learnt there are no manners when catching cabs in New York. At the Anzac Club we were allocated a billet with a New York lawyer, Herbert. S. Ogden, 26 East 83 Street, New York, just off central Park. The apartment was on the top floor (Barbara, Donald and later John and his family visited the address whilst in New York on holiday). I kept in touch with Mr Herbert Ogden until after the war ended. He became involved in the billeting of Aussie servicemen after his daughter’s fiancé (a New Zealand airman) was killed. She was studying to be a doctor at

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[photograph]

[italics] 26 East 83rd Street in New York - Mr Ogden’s apartment [/italics]

[photograph]

[italics] Mr Herbert S. Ogden - New York. [/italics]

[photograph]

[italics] John at “beer joint” in San Francisco. [/italics]

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[photograph]

[italics] “Ille de France” ship sailed in from USA to Scotland. [/italics]

[photograph]

[italics] “Willard R Holbrook” ship sailed in from Australia to USA. [/italics]

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Harvard University. He told me he had received a letter of appreciation from the Australian Prime Minister (Mr Ben Chifley) thanking him on behalf of the several thousand Aussie airmen, many who had stayed with him.

All five of us, including Ken Brady, Len Davies, Flight Sergeant Smithy (cannot remember the other’s names) went shopping at Macy’s for Mum and my sister Betty. Bought bra and stockings! Each day we had to report to the Anzac Club, usually by phone. Over the ten days we saw the following stage / night club shows. Hudson Theatre, [italics] Arsenic and Old Lace. [/italics] - Musical Jam, Latin Quarter Night club - Leon and Eddie. Broadway Melodies of 1943. Jimmy Dorsey at the Roxy Theatre. Tommy Dorsey at the Paramount Theatre. Had lunch at the Edison Hotel Green Room, run by the American Red Cross. Went to Radio City. At the theatre we were amazed to see a one hundred piece orchestra rise up before the stage and then move to the rear and then rise up about three metres and they never missed a note! Then this was repeated with one hundred chorus girls dancing which stopped in front of the orchestra where they performed the rest of the show. Later Ken Brady and I went to a radio quiz show and we won a huge bag of onions which we returned. Also we saw ourselves on an oval shaped television screen all in misty black and grey. We all went to the Ziegfeld Follies of 1944 with our host. There was one act with seven pianos arranged in an upward spiral with seven pianists playing them. We were four rows from the front.

Went to the Rockefeller Centre, also to the viewing platform about eighty odd stories high. We also went to the very top of the Empire State Building. Had Pepsi Cola and hamburgers in Times Square. Went over the George Washington Bridge. A boat trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Looked out of the windows in the crown at the top of the statue. Had lunch with Mr Ogden at the Harvard Club, where he was staying whilst his home was being used as a billet. We didn’t sleep much and were very tired when we returned to camp.

Had my first go at ten-pin bowling. The camp had twenty lanes - after seeing a bloke called Frank Sinatra at the pictures. The American soldiers booed him and girls fainted in the aisles. Another first, and it was only a movie!

Next thing we were on a ferry and arrived back at New York Wharves on the Hudson River. Right opposite Empire State Building. We went straight from the ferry onto the ship and were located on the top deck. It had been enclosed with bunks etc. The ship was [italics] “Ille-de France”, [/italics] about 48,000 tons. With us were the New Zealand naval crew from the [italics] “HMNZS Achilles” [/italics] a ship that saw action against the German battleship the {italics] “Admiral Graf Spee” [/italics] in the battle of the River Plate at the end of 1939. Also on board for the crossing were 10,000 Yankee servicemen. Went to shipboard concert, remember everyone singing about fifty verses of [italics] “PistolPacking Mumma”, [/italics] some out of this world.

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We were four and a half days at sea, very, very cold and rough. Two meals a day. We arrived at Greenock, Glasgow in Scotland. WE stayed aboard because of the rough weather. Saw at least five huge battleships, plus many other fighting boats. Incidentally we sailed across the Atlantic un-escorted! Next day, off the boat. No medical inspections like the Yanks, onto a train late afternoon arriving next morning in Brighton - The Metropole Hotel without the service. The usual parades etcetera. Were supplied with RAF style Battle Dress, grey instead of RAAF blue. A lot warmer than our uniforms. Couldn’t go or do anything until pay day and we could also exchange our U.S. money. Did the usual picture shows, saw ice hockey for the first time, also my first strip show on the stage. They didn’t stop for the air raid sirens, so we stayed too! My first taste of air-raids.

[photograph]

[italics] Church John attended in Moniaive, Scotland. [/italics]

[photograph]

[italics] John in forest in Dumfries, Scotland. [/italics]

[photograph]

[italics] (L-R) Ken Brady and the McNaughtleys in Moniaive 1944. [/italics]

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[photograph]

[italics] John in upper turret on way to Essen at 22,000 feet. [/italics]

[drawing]

[italics] Cartoon drawing by John done during WWII [/italics]

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Through the Lady Ryder Grant, Ken Brady and I were billeted for a week’s leave on a farm in Dumfries, Scotland, leaving 10th February 1943. Left Brighton to London where we went to the Boomerang Club - met a parson who took us to Westminster Abbey and saw many things and areas not usually seen by the public. We were there several hours. Caught train for Dumfries that evening - missed the stop and ended up in Glasgow. Finally got back to the McNaughtley Farm, Moniaive. It was a dairy and beef cattle farm. Its as very nice, quiet and restful. Did the local sights and went to a cattle sale at Castle Douglas. I believe they still have cattle sales there to this day. Had to attend church parade at the Anglican Church in Moniaive which is now a private residence. Ken, being Roman Catholic, did not attend as there were no Catholic churches in the village. He waited over the road at the pub. It was here that I had my first (and only) peach brandy. This was given free from the barman. We went by bicycle from farm to village. The week went quickly, then back to Brighton, Grand Hotel this time. Usual parades, kitting out with new gas masks. Handed in Aussie style flying suits and other odds and ends. On 28th February we were told we were posted to 27 O.T.U Lichfield. Attended a church parade at the Regent Complex. The Regent consisted of a picture theatre, first floor restaurant and top floor ballroom, complete with a sliding roof that opened up at night - not in war time though. Met Ken’s girl, Audrey Rogers for the first time.

All the time we were in Brighton and Scotland it was snowing and on 29th February there was very heavy snow on the train trip to Lichfield. Next day we were issued with shovels to help clear the runways. A great start! 27 O.T.U. was very cramped with double decker bunks. Here we selected our crew. Everyone gathered in a hall or hut and over two days joined up with chaps who thought may be good crew members. On the second day Ken and I were approached by Jack Smith and John Harvey and finally Ralph Williams and asked would we like to join them. The Bomb Aimer, Jack Brady was to join us all a week or so later. He was on his way from Canada and the only officer. Our crew started flying four weeks later, in Wellington Bombers MK 10. We were E Flight. John Harvey pilot, Ralph Williams (who at 30 years was the oldest crew member), navigator, Jack Brady, Bomb Aimer, Jack Smith, Wireless Operator and Ken and I, Air Gunners. Lots of flying - classroom lectures and only night leave passes - back at 23.59 (midnight). We saw a lot of England, Scotland and Wales from the air. Also the Isle of Man, Irish and North Seas.

Our longest flight was six hours. On the 10th May 1944 we flew over France, Bayeaux Angers, dropping leaflets to the French - a five hour flight. Less than a month before “D-Day” - 6th June. We landed at Boscombe Downs Aerodrome, short on fuel. Refuelled and flew onto Lichfield. As Boscombe Downs was an experimental station, it was here that I saw my first jet plane. As it was a single engine aircraft it could possibly have been a “Gloster E28/39”. On 13th May we left Lichfield to be posted for further training in four engine aircraft. Posted to Blyton in Lincolnshire.

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Did gunnery course at Ingham near Lincoln for a week then back to the crew on Halifax bombers. I came second on the course, first was a Polish Officer. Half the course were Poles. We were there on D-Day. Conversion Unit 1662 C Flight. Two and a half weeks all told. Witnessed a very bad crash while there. All the Aussie crew killed. Longest flight was seven hours. July 22nd saw the crew at Hemswell No 1 LF.S. and flying Lancasters only for six days. Finally we arrived at the squadron and flew on 6th August. Another training flight!

From the 10th May, 625 Squadron Kelstern was our home and life. Targets were the normandy battle front. Russelheim, Germany eight and a half hours. Holland, France then nine hours to Stetted in Poland, flying over Denmark - southern Sweden (the place was aglow with all the lights on as they were “neutral”). Baltic Sea nearly to Berlin and then return. Our longest hardest trip. Then it was the French ports of Le Havre and Calais and an odd trip to the Ruhr Valley part of Germany. Dusseldorf, Saarbruchen, Dusber, Stuttgart, Essen, Dortmund, Cologne and finally, on 27th November, Freiberg near Strasburg and it was all over. Thirty one trips! There is a photo of me in the upper turret on my way to Essen taken at 22,000 feet. Stayed at the Squadron for Christmas and Boxing Day. It was a very “white Christmas”. Went into Louth Christmas Day Night. The [italics] Jolly Sailor [/italics] pub. Rode home Boxing Day morning on my trusty RAF bicycle. Several of my children and grandchildren have visited these places that were part of my life during the war.

Our Lancaster was nick-named [italics] Wee Wally Wallaby as W [/italics] was the aircraft letter. A chap called Len Davies drew the picture of the wallaby, firstly on the back of a sleeveless sheepskin jacket that I gave to the ground crew, as it moulted. The picture was later transferred to the Lancaster by him. He eventually became a cartoonist with the Sunday Times after the war.

There is a photo of me with the crew under the aircraft with the bomb inscribed “Whacko Bluey!” so named because the ground crew Corporal in charge of the loading of our bomber and another aircraft, was a red head and [italics] “blue” [/italics] is a nick name for someone with red hair. Ken Brady is absent from this photo as he had to have an appendectomy and we had a temporary gunner.

Jack Harvey’s crew were going on a “second dickie” and I was not going so was a “spare bod”. This is how I came to be on the aircraft flying with Flying Officer Kodar as a rear gunner. On the way back the radio operator found he could not operate his radio. It made it very difficult for landing with the radio non-operational. The trip back was very rough and I was a bit sick.

We landed eventually and the next morning I went to check our guns and the turret as I did as a routine. The ground crew were removing the tail plane because an anti-aircraft shell had gone through the tail but had not exploded. Quite obviously it had cut the aerials for the radio - this explained the radio failure!

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[photograph]

[italics] Wee Wally Wallaby Air Crew - (L-R) Billy Edwards (Engineer), Ralph Williams (Navigator), Bomb Aimer who replaced Jack Brady after he was killed, John Harvey (Pilot), Rear Gunner (temporary replacement for Ken Brady), John (Gunner) and Jack Smith (Radio Operator). [/italics]

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That night Jack Brady (from our crew) flew with the Flight Commander in another crew. They collided with a Halifax Bomber near the Channel. The pilot was blown out of the aircraft and managed to pull his chute open. He was the only survivor of the two aircraft. Very sad.

We flew on a mission to Germany and came under heavy fire from gun sites near Bamburg. We came under the master bomber with cloud cover. Jack Harvey came in low - the master bomber had been shot down and I could see flares all burning in the aircraft after it was on the ground.

We dropped our bombs on target and returned back to base. The intelligence Officer said, “bombs returned” but we said, “no we did the raid and hit the aiming point”. I bet that was the fastest film processed that night - they needed the information for intelligence gathering. Received tour trip acknowledgement. All other crews from the Squadron did not drop their bombs.

My crew had two Jacks, Jack Smith and Jack Brady, two Bradys - Ken and Jack and two Johns - John Harvey and John Allnutt. I was called “Johnny” to distinguish between the two Johns.

[three propaganda leaflets]

[italics] Leaflets dropped over France before D-Day. [/italics]

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[photograph]

[italics] John with the Rogers sisters (L-R) Sylvie, Valerie and Audrey. [/italics]

[photograph]

[italics] Air Crew - Back row: (L-R) Ken Brady (Gunner), John Allnutt (Gunner), Jack Smith (Wireless Operator), Ralph Williams (Navigator). Front Row: (L-R) John Harvey (Pilot), Jack Brady (Bomb Aimer).

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Jack Brady - Bomb Aimer - had one bomb that he dropped directly on the marker square and he was thereafter know [sic] as “Marker Square Brady”.

Whilst at Kelstern I used to go into Binbrook, which is the town nearby as we were in satellite airfields associated with he town. The Americans had a deal with the UK that they could bring cigarettes into the country tax free. They were happy to sell to the “Aussies” and I would go off with the monies collected from the RAAF men and buy the cigarettes for them. Woodbines were 6d per packet of 20 and Players (more up market) were 2/4d per pack of 20. So [italics] Lucky Strike [/italics] and [italics] Chesterfield [/italics] at 2/- per carton were a bargain!

Talking about leave. During the time I was at Lichfield and Kelstern I spent my leave in Sussex, Lancashire and Welling, Kent. At Portslade, Sussex with the Rogers family, Accrington, Clayton le Moors, Lancashire. Mrs Kenyon and family and Welling, Kent with Auntie Lou and Uncle Dick Brown. Mrs Kenyon was Mrs Ada Hillier’s (of Augusta) sister.

Uncle Dick and Auntie Lou had no children so I became their family. Always got cards and long letters from them. It was a birthday card from them that reminded me it was my 20th birthday. I was so busy I had forgotten my birthday, with only fifteen minutes left of it before the bar closed, after flying a mission! At the Brown’s on New Year’s Eve, I metJoan Hatten. A start to a long and wonderful life together. From the 12th to 23rd January 1945 I was posted to Brackla near Nairn in Scotland. It was the Personnel Depot Airmen Allocation Centre. It was very, very cold. Here they were re-allocating us to a non-flying job. After two weeks there I was sent on leave back to the Brown’s and, of course, Joan. On our way home from Nairn we travelled across the Grampian Mountains (Highlands) where the train was snow-bound for over five hours. Made us all miss connections south. There was no heating at all - very, very cold.

I spent quite a lot of time in the city of London and the Boomerang Club. I also received my Commission, Pilot Officer as I had been a Flight Sergeant up to then. Ordered a uniform and great coat with all the trimmings from [italics] Carr and Son and Poor - Saville Row. [/italics] Met up with Joan very often. She worked at Department of International Affairs - St James Square. Later she worked at Technical Advertising in Aldwych, right opposite the Boomerang Club. We would catch the train from Welling to Charing Cross and a bus to Australia House. Our RAAF Headquarters was Kodak House, Kingsway. One thing that was a worry were the V.1 “Doodle Bugs” and v.2 “Rocket Bombs”. You never knee when and where they would land!

While I was on leave I heard from the family that the Kudardup farm, which wass only leased, was to be taken over for War Service Land Settlement servicemen or ex-servicemen. That meant I could apply and have the farm in my name. The

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problem being, it cost just over one hundred pounds, which the family did not have. I had saved about one hundred and twenty pounds and so signed all the papers of transfer / mortgage and sent the one hundred pounds home. That is how the family were able to obtain [italics] Roundhay Park [/italics] farm.

Early April saw the wedding of Audrey and Ken. I was Best Man to Ken. A very nice wedding. They honeymooned at the village of Bramber, Sussex, about ten miles from Portslade.

By the end of April Joan and I decided to get married and set the date for the 26th May 1945. By this time I was stationed at 11 P.P.R.C. Brighton, getting ready to return to Australia. Finally the Victory in Europe arrived on the 6th May and I was told I would be leaving on the 27th of May.

So our wedding was brought forward to Wednesday 16th May. There were quite a few hasty buying trips, but everything ended up okay. Fortunately, being an Officer, I had both service and civilian clothing coupons. I was with the Browns at Abbey Wood station and went to London Bridge station to catch the 3.00 am paper train to Brighton. While waiting for the train I witnessed a funny sight. This person came out of Guys Hospital dragging a burning chair down the street. Everywhere there were bonfires burning. The restriction on the lighting of fires was lifted because of the War’s end. Arrived at Brighton about 5.30 am. That day we (RAAF boys) paraded through Brighton. There is a film of this which I saw much later in my life, once television had come to Perth. Couple of days later, back to Welling. Our Officer’s Mess at Brighton was the Royal Albion and Hove Hotel, opposite the Palace Pier.

The 16th May was a sunny day and, with Uncle Dick as Best Man, Joan’s neighbour’s girls as flower girls, all went well for our wedding. We had a small reception at Auntie Lou’s, Audrey and Ken Brady were the only non-family people there. It actually transpired that Audrey and Joan were related through marriage and shared a great grandfather on the Welsh side of their family. Audrey’s father said to Joan, “you remind me of a Rogers Auntie” and Joan said, “my grandmother was a Rogers”, then they realised the connection.

As I was stationed at Brighton, we stayed with the Rogers family as all accommodation was fully booked. Also I had to report each morning at 08.00 hours. Got all my clearances done then had two days in Welling, saying goodbyes and on the 28th May, left by train for my trip home. Joan had to return to Welling from her austere honeymoon, alone.

Next day, I arrived at Liverpool and boarded the S.S. [italics] “Arundel Castle” [/italics] with Airmen, and ex-P.O.W. soldiers (Aussie and New Zealanders) plus Dutch and Indonesian

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[photograph]

{italics] Auntie Lou and Uncle Dick - Welling, Kent. [/italics]

[photograph]

[italics] John Allnutt aged 19. [/italics]

[photograph]
[italics] John and Joan’s wedding day - Welling, Kent. [/italics]

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[Five drawings]

[italics] Technical Drawings done by John for gun in Lancaster. [/italics]

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repatriated people. The following morning we sailed and joined another liner and two naval vessels. The navy vessels were escorts as not all German U-Boats were accounted for. Half way across the Atlantic our ship left the others and sailed south-west. After about four days sailing we arrived at Colon Port - the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. We had one leave for six hours in Colon. Very interesting. Here I had my first “banana split” treat. It was heaven. There we stayed for two and a half days. While there, HMAS [italics] “Australia” [/italics] sailed through the Canal on her way to an American shipyard to be repaired. Many of [italics] “Australia’s” [/italics] crew sent messages over the tannoy system looking for relations or friends who were ex - P.O.W.’s. Their ship was a mess, having been hit many times with Japanese suicide planes.

Next we were sailing through the vast locks of the Panama Canal, anchoring for a day in the huge lake. There is one more lock on the Pacific side of the canal as the ocean level is lower than the Atlantic end. Amazing isn’t it! Next day we went through the huge cutting and down the Pacific Locks. Then we were on our way to New Zealand on 116th June 1945. We passed the Galapagos Islands on 18th June and Pitcairn Islands (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) in the distance on 24th June. Sailing back as an Officer on Promenade Deck was a great deal better than “G” deck on the [italics] Willard H Holbrook. [/italics]

I lost a day’s pay sailing to San Francisco as a Sergeant, but gained a day coming back as an Officer. Could have been worse, we could have come back via South Africa!

Arrival at Wellington Harbour was on 3rd July. Cold and windy, but great to see. That day a fellow Air Force chap and two soldiers were picked up in a taxi and we were shown the town. We thought it would cost us £5 each. The driver was the owner of the taxi business. He also took us home for dinner and would not take any money. We did put some money his children’s money box. We got back to the ship at midnight. Next day our final leg to Sydney. We arrived at Sydney Heads on the 7th July 1945 and anchored against a landing out in the harbour. The ferry from Manly to Sydney went right past. From there we went to Circular Quay and Bradfield Park then trained it to Melbourne. Just out of Sydney’s west I got my first real welcome home. To smell green gum leaves burning from a small burn off. Wonderful feeling!!

In Melbourne we were stationed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Our mess being the Member’s Dining Room and Bar. Here I caught up with Betty Robinson and met her Dad. He was in the wholesale clothing business. We spent two days there and finally were on our way to Western Australia. As there were many ex Army and Air force P.O.W.s on the train we were all treated well at every stopping place. Lots of beers, tea and many, many cakes.

At last we were in Western Australia and at Northam Railway station. When chatting with the engine driver I was amazed to find out it was Ken Brady’s father.

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Collection

Citation

Frank J Allnut, “The Boy from Augusta by Frank J Allnutt,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 6, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/29147.

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