Trevor Saint diary/memoir

MSaintTJ1452007-180212-01.pdf

Title

Trevor Saint diary/memoir

Description

Diary from joining the RAF in may 1941, through training as groundcrew and then volunteered for aircrew and eventually trained as air gunner and posting to 514 Squadron. Describes operations while on the squadron and notes details and losses. Provides occasional thoughts on operations and produces various anecdotes. Mentions completing tour of 29 operations on 26 July 1944 and includes his thought about his crews survival, lists crew names and writes about operations and activities after his tour was complete. Continues with account of Christmas 1944 and other activities in 1944-45. Mentions visiting London and rockets falling at intervals and about the death of an acquaintance. Concludes with activities towards the end of the war.

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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.

Format

Sixteen page handwritten document

Language

Type

Identifier

MSaintTJ1452007-180212-01

Transcription

May 1941 5/6 T J S & Kev Palmer joined the RAF at READING Went separately to CARDINGTON FOR swearing in, attestation & tests

Sept 2 41 TRAIN TO PENARTH - COLLECTED UNIFORMS.

4 TRAIN TO BOURNEMOUTH BILLITED [sic] PRIVATE HOUSES Several weeks training - Sq bashing & having an enjoyable time TRAINS TO WENDOVER & RAF HALTON 2 WEEKS FATIGUES STARTING ARMOURER (GUNS) course.

Jan 1942 After course finished posted to HENLOW Kev Palmer to SWINDERBBURY [sic] WORKING ON GUNS & GUN TURRETS WORKING ON HURRICANES FROM CANADA

Spring 42 VOLUNTEERED FOR AIRCREW MEDICAL & TESTS at CARDINGTON

AUTUMN 42 POSTED TO LORDS CRICKET [inserted] GROUND [/inserted] - STAY IN VICEROY CT FOR A FEW WEEKS (THE TIME IN LONDON WAS FREE OF AIR RAIDS - 4 WEEKS LATER 2 RAIDS WITH [underlined] 100 LOST [/underlined]

NOV - DEC 42 POSTED TO ITW SCARBOROUGH YORKS 3-4 MONTHS COURSE. PASSED TO TRAIN AIR BOMBER

MARCH 43 POSTED TO HEATON PARK MANCHESTER TO PREPARE TO TRAIN IN CANADA. UNEXPECTEDLY POSTED TO CAMP AT LUDLOW. UNDER CANVASS & LABOUR DUTIES

JULY-AUG 43 VOLUNTEERED FOR TRANING [sic] AS AIR GUNNER

4 TRAINING AT MORPETH WING LITTLE HORWOOD CREWED UP TRAING [sic] STRADISHALL

FEB 44 514 SQUADRON

[page break]

514 Squadron RAF WATERBEACH

3 LFS 3 LANCASTER [deleted] FLYING [/deleted] [inserted] FINISHING [/inserted] SCHOOL HAVING FLOWN IN STIRLING AT 1657 CU (CONVERSION UNIT) STRADISHALL (SUFFOLK) LAST FLIGHT AT 3 LFS [deleted] 28 JAN 1944. [/deleted] 18 FEB 1944 FELTWELL PROBABLY HAVING 7 DAYS LEAVE

CREW GOING TO 514 SQDN WATERBEACH CAMBS

FLYING LANC [underlined] MARK I’s [/underlined] AT 3 LFS NOW FLYING [underlined] MARK II’s [/underlined] at WATERBEACH NEEDING CONVERSION COURSE to TRAIN IN MARK II’s RADIAL ENGINES TRAINIG [sic] FROM MARCH 4th TO 22nd MARCH

18 MARCH 1944 1st OP TO [underlined] FRANKFURT [/underlined] (22 TOTAL LOSS) NO LOSSES 514

22 MARCH 2nd OP TO [underlined] FRANKFURT [/underlined] (34 TOTAL LOSS) 2 LOST FROM 514 SQ F/L NICHOL 4 POW 2 EVS 1+ [symbol for dead) F/S UNDERWOOD 2 POW 5+ (The 2nd operation gave our crew a rough view of what lay ahead for us. The Captain Wishart had full [2 indecipherable words] as a 2nd jockey flying with experienced crew. We saw many aircraft on fire and falling. The target was lit by flares & searchlights

[page break]

The normal procedure with Bomber operations was to start with a [underlined] met [/underlined] [indecipherable word] wind speed Then the bomber aimer used drifts to give a air speed & send it back to HQ by wireless operators. The result at HQ was queried & sent back a different result because the wind speed too high. As a result most a/c went off course an [sic] bombed wrong places

[page break]

[underlined] 24th March [/underlined] We were briefed for [underlined] BERLIN [/underlined] There had been a big campaign to destroy Berlin over a number of raids in late 1943 & in the New Year. This was to be the last of the major raids. (TOTAL LOSS 73) 514 LOST F/O LAING 6 Crew lost 1 POW Routing over the BALTIC sea in order to approach from the North. Very powerful searchlights of blue light (as modern car headlights) caught several planes and within minutes we were one of next victims. The skipper heavily corkscrewed us to get clear of the lights - but had [underlined] *runaway props [/underlined] (*The propellers were variable pitch but went to fine pitch which stopped biting the air. The props on the other side pulled us round in a spiral) which put us into a diving corkscrew which we fell some 8 thousand feet. At the same time a high pitched sound - hellise [sic] HELLISH sound.- Due to the great skill of Wishart the props were fixed and saved us from certain death. Had to jettison our bombs & head 500 miles back to UK at some 8ooo feet dangerously low and vunerable [sic] I spotted a 2 engined aircraft & fired a burst of tracer.

The main force running into trouble with incarate [sic] INACCURATE wind speeds. Many bombed at wrong places *See end of [indecipherable word]

[page break]

The general idea was the Nurenburg, [sic] [insert] RAID [/inserted] would have got us away from the RUHR area. Crews thought it would be straight fowd [sic] Night fighters were waiting for us and also the wind speed was very high. Navigators were misled

Wishart and crew flew 2000ft higher than the main force. We were still very “GREEN” & inexperienced - but some how we avoided the real trouble.

On the way back we had to fly through a cold front - with bad icing we landed at Waterbeach with very little fuel.

The announcement on the BBC twelve o’clock news caused considerable worry. I telephoned as soon as possible & at least our family were relieved

[page break]

MAR 26 [underlined] ESSEN [/underlined] (TOTAL LOSS 9) 514 NO LOSSES

Mar 30 [underlined] NURENBURG [sic] [/underlined]

The heaviest CASUALTIES OF THE WAR [underlined] 96 LOST [/underlined] A WHOLE BOOK WRITTEN ON THIS SUBJECT 514 LOSSES P/O CROMBIE 5 Lost 2 POW - W/O McGowan FORCE LANDED 2 BALED OUT NO INJURIES - F/O HOOD 6 POW 1 LOST + - F/S GREGORY 6 LOST + 1 POW - F/O HUGHES 6 LOST + 1 POW

Rear Gunner & I were in the same room as GREGORY & CREW They called us (Brassey & I) the horizontal air force always lying on our beds A FIRST REAL SADNESS OVER their loss

Service police took all their kit away (normal practice)

11 April 11 [underlined] AACHEN [/underlined] (AIX LA CHAREL) [sic] (TOTAL 9 LOSS) F/O THACKRAY 6 LOST 1 POW

26 April [underlined] ESSEN [/underlined] (TOTAL 7 LOSS) No Loss 514

[page break]

27 April [underlined] FRIERICKHAVON [sic] [/underlined] No Loss 514 (TOTAL 18 LOSS)
We were expecting to fly on to an (probably CORSICA) island in the med. after bombing we were ordered back to U.K. Rather disappointing. FREDRICHHAVEN [sic] was on LAKE CONSTANCE Switzerland was on the other side.

MAY 1st [underlined] CHAMBLY [/underlined] (TOTAL) 5 LOSS) F/Lt CURTIS ALL LOST

MAY 7 [underlined] NANTES [/underlined] (TOTAL 1 LOSS) NO LOSS 514

May 9 [underlined] CAP GRIS NEL [sic] (NO LOSS
Cap Gris Nel [sic] was a short trip just across channel to attack large guns

MAY 19 LE MANS (TOTAL 3 LOSS) F/S SHEARING 4 LOST 1 INJ 1 BALED OUT F/L GRAY HIT BY FLAK CRASH LANDED GRAVELEY ALL SAFE
MASTER BOMBER & HIS DEPUTY COLLIDED THE MASTER BOMBER DIRECTED to main force over [inserted] the [/inserted] AIR on many OCCASSIONS [sic] SOMETIMES THEY USED VERY RIPE LANGUAGE

The Master bombers were very VUNERABLE [sic] & could be picked by night FIGHTERS

[page break]

21 MAY [underlined] DUISBURG [/underlined] (Total 29 lost) [underlined] SGT GIBSON ALL LOST UNABLE TO LAND WITH BOMB LOAD CRASHED IN SEA. P/O WINDSOR ALL LOST. F/S MEDLAND DFM 3 LOST+ 2 EVADED 1 POW.

A few crew members escaped made their way back to UK

22 May [underlined] DORTMUND [/underlined] No Losses 514

SEVERE ICING - CAUSED SEVERAL AIRCRAFT UNABLE TO CLIMB. (including us)

The Wing Commander & crew had an 8000lb bomb which could not be dropped only at a certain height. Most of the crew had to bail out before the bomb could be dropped in the N. Sea. 1 Aircrew died. (Total (29 LOST)

[page break]

27 May AACHEN (Total 12 lost) F/L TAYLOR All Lost

[underlined] ANGERS [/underlined]

28 May A low level flight below 100’ all the way to the Bay of Biscay. Passed over Marlow (probably Whit Sunday 1944 (Total 1 LOST)

A beautiful afternoon hopping over the land to keep at low level to avoid RADAR. We were given lemons instead of oranges. A lot of our flying was very enjoyable - we were not always waiting for trouble

31 May TRAPPES (Total 4 LOST) No 514 losses

10 June DREUX (Total 18 Lost)

A number of raids were to bomb railway yards & sites for firing flying bombs (We were thus unknown of the buzzbombs)

11 June NANTES (Total 4 Lost No 514 loses
14 June LE HARVE (Total 1 Lost) No 514 losses

[page break]

15 June [underlined] VALENCIENNES [/underlined] Total 5 Lost F/S PROWLES 5 LOST 1 EVA

21 June DAMOLEGER [sic] (daylight) (No Losses)

Our Squadron had to practice daylight flying (not as the Americans in formation but untidy groups. Talk about dangerous flying! We flew on gagles [sic] as some geese do!

23 June I’HEY (5 Lost) No Loss 514

30 June VILLERS BOCAGE

Daylight raid HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL on 2nd & 9th Panzer divisions Field Marshall Montgomery asked for the raid (Total 2 Lost) F/O WOODS 7 LOST FO HANESSON 5 LOST 2 INJ

The aircraft from 3 Group (us) were flying at a certain height and accurate time. The other group were due to fly higher and a little later. We were late & they were early. I noticed sticks of bombs coming down (in daylight). One of our LANCS was hit by a bomb. We saw one of the crew ran across at Waterbeach (obviously caught napping) and just got on board - the one hit by a bomb

July 2 BEAUVIS No LOSSES No LOSS 514

[page break]

[underlined] VAIRES [/underlined]

7 July (FLYING BOMB SITES) Pepered by flak. Lots of holes in a/c 1 piece thru’ navigators table [underlined] No Losses [/underlined]

10 July [underlined] NUCOURT [/underlined] Daylight attack flying bomb sites [underlined] No Losses [/underlined]

12 July [underlined] VAIRES flying bomb sites

23 July [underlined] KIEL [/underlined] 4 LOSSES

25 July [underlined] STUTTGART [/underlined] 21 LOSSES F/O MIDDLETON ALL LOST

The last operation. It had a large variety of experiences. The Mark1 LANCS could [inserted] not [/inserted] so had [deleted] dropped [/deleted] to drop a couple of bombs to get height. The air temp was [deleted] height [/deleted] HIGH. Saw many combats flames & tracer fire. On way back saw a number V1s en route to London. Lower & faster than us. the skipper was [indecipherable word] over [indecipherable word] cumulus for fun [boxed] TOTAL LOSSES ON THE SAME AS US - [underlined] 397 [/underlined] [/boxed]

[page break]

On the 26th July 1944 our crew Wishart and six airmen completed a tour of 29 operations. I think we went out at about 1130 AM back to the aircraft and thanked the ground crew. The NAAFI van had just arrived and custard tarts were on sale - custard tarts were a prominent land mark in my 22 years

To say the least this day I have never dreamed that I would survive to see the 29th op. During the tour 21 aircraft crashed & crews from 514 Squadron were either killed injured or made prisoner. Some of the targets were very long & dangerous a few of latter ones were shorter; but everyone was vunerable. [sic]

The skipper NORRIE WISHART once said you’d have to have 50% luck & 50% ability. I thought out crew were reasonable chaps and was very lucky to be one of them. The rear gunner Fairbrass was a slightly older man with wife and child in digs in Cambridge. He was pure Tottenham and had a North East London accent.

[page break]

We sometimes went out together to Cambridge & Bury St Edmunds when at our unit. Fish & chips and cinema. I don’t [inserted] think [/inserted] we drank too much beer but Brassie felt ill when we travelled in a RAF transport bumpy & hot on one occasion. Early in 1944 when we where on Stirlings going out to town was very cold. Having been issued with white silk gloves - ideal for air gunners - but not for eating chips. The result was silk became stiff like boards and didn’t [indecipherable word] it to [indecipherable word] freezing operations

The crew - Wishart (pilot) (Awarded THE D.F.C.) D GRAY (Navigator) [indecipherable name] (air bomber) Cartwright (flight engineer) TURNER (wireless operator) Fairbrass (rear gunner) T Saint (mid upper gunner)

I remember them as highly qualivied [sic] men. They all had to be good at their jobs. I cannot remember the navigator lost - which was one of the most vital aspexs [sic] of the aircrews. The flight engineer

[page break]

had to look after engines and keep tabs on the petrol consumption. The bomb aimer was in the plane to work with the pilot and drop his bombs accurately - which was the sum total of us doing the operation. Wireless Ops was there to listen in helping the navigators & guiding us by mapping the route by beacons.

The two gunners were not there to attack [deleted] aircraft [/deleted] [inserted] BANDITS but to watch endlessly for [deleted] combats [/deleted] [inserted] NIGHT FIGHTERS [/inserted] (tough planes) the gunners telling the pilot to bank port & starboard to try and look beneath the plane.

Just before New Year 1944 Fairbrass & I were sent on a weeks course on Newmarket race tracks, or near the tracks where an airdrome was on flat ground. Most of the flights were on Wellingtons & cooperating with a fighter (either a Hurricane or Martinet We were “attacked” by these fighters each having cine cameras. All the attacks were from above (diving down to attack us). Later on when we were operating over enemy territory - we were going to be attacked from below. the fighter had a gun upward fighering [sic] - trying to shoot our petrol tanks

[page break]

During the 5 months from Feb to July 1944 life on 514 SQUADRON was fancy free compared with previous RAF stations. Most of the discipline was in the aircraft and crew. Operations took place on various days & nights but otherwise there [deleted] was [/deleted] [inserted] were [/inserted] hold ups as on flying [deleted] during [/deleted] due to fog & full moon.

On an operation day work was very active. BESIDE bombing up & briefings & air tests filled up the days and ready for take off usually late evening.

On other days crews were “stood down” at 2 PM which allowed us to go to Cambridge & wherever.

On several occasions I got on to the Ely road outside the camp and hitch-hiked to Marlow. In spite of less traffic on the roads there were lorries & business cars ready to pick up service people. The best way was to go to Royston & A1 to HATFIELD & then Rickmansworth & Denham

[page break]

I usually got to Marlow by 5.30 contacted my parents & Meg. The next morning was slightly more ‘dicey’. 7.18 train to London - Algate [sic] (met) Leytonstone Epping Forest etc. Looking back I must have had a fair bit of nerve to be back before lunch and not be missed.

The war went on seven days a week but in order to have leave (which was needed to get away from flying) six days were made available every six weeks. The leave list for crews was going to be altered because of the losses. The more ops you survived the crews had to fill up the gaps. It was sad when you found you had to fill up the gaps because so many crews were missing and the more senior you were you had more leave.

On one of the leaves D Day took [inserted] June 6 1944 [/inserted] place (June 6th). All leave was cancelled except Navy & aircrew. Meg & I cycled to a pub above Pleasant Hill & watched gliders & tug planes - going South. Felt very guilty.

[page break]

At the end of our tour we had probably two weeks leave and in Summer weather had picnics by the river and heard gunfire from the continent.

We went to another camp for a few days and more leave & then Fairbrass & I were posted to a place called Brada near Inverness. We travelled on the Aberdonian express (only allowed to go at less than 60 miles an hour. It was quite a respite and a long way from the war.

The idea was to interview the air gunners (all ex operational) to find future jobs for us. During our tour of ops the invasion of France hopefully leading to the end of the war. In my case I had been an armourer and it was possible to make me revert back to [inserted] my [/inserted] trade. There were jobs for gunners to be target towers & armament instructors. This was what would be my [indecipherable word] 1st choice after further training.

[page break]

The time at Brada was helping hay making and Brassie & I visited Loch Ness. The Farmer invited me to Sunday tea - the largest meal I had since 1939.

Hanging over our heads was the possibility of going out East to fight the Japs - a dreadful thought. After Brada we seemed to have infedinite [sic] leave - with no station to go to.

When I had volunteered to be an air gunner - the Wing Commander said we could carry on later to train as Air Bomber after we’d completed our tour. They kept there [sic] wire and sent a telegram to offer training for Air Bomber. I declined as by this time I was a bit of a veteran & sargeants [sic] stripes and the telegram offering me an armament job at Belfast University. I declined this one and within a short time I was to be posted to WEST FREUGH - Stranraer on the Mull of Galway Just across the water from Ireland

[page break]

Another long rail journey to CARLISLE. Caught a train very early AM to travel on a single line through very rugged country. Just before Stranraer a huge port which had been built for the invasion - Cairn Ryan. Apparently one of the huge landing floats were built there and towed down to NORMANDY. West Freugh was a brick built station & reasonably comfortable. Most of the chaps were ex ops like myself. Aircrew came back from Canada and needed extra tuition. I was supposed to be an instructor but they expected me to go on an air armament course.

Just after Christmas 1944 I was sent on a course to Many (Lincs) Manby was quite near the North Sea and was billody [sic] cold. January ’45 had snow & ice. I had lots of classes and talks on training to lecture in the air on Wellington.

[page break]

Another Christmas in the war 1944 Next door to our hut (full of ex aircrew) were WAAFs & On the 25th it was too good a chance to make a visitation to our next door neighbours, Which we did. Most of there girls were in bed - it was very respectable in fact one chap became engaged to one of them

We heard later that a RAF Station in Ireland (IRELAND) where a similar thing happened - the C.O. came down heavily on some of the chaps.

On another occasion a party of WAAFs from the cookhouse - sitting reading on the bed - tipped me out on the floor - very good fun

[page break]

Meg & I [deleted] went [/deleted] [inserted] met [/inserted] in LONDON on a Saturday. Very cold damp & overcast ROCKETS were falling at intervals No good worrying about them as there was no warning unlike the bombing raids. The war in Europe was held up by severe ice & snow

At the end of the armament course I called in at Marlow for a couple of days & heard of the death of Gus Howard. Gus was Captain of a Lanc & having been on a diversary [sic] trip but was shot down as he came in to land.

I went back to West Freugh with a heavy heart

In early Spring 1945 I was then a teacher instrutor [sic] & lectures courses such as bomb aimer, one day I walked into a lecture where sitting in the front was Sgt [missing name] ex [indecipherable word] school - senior to me. A great pleasure & big joke.

Weather was beautiful in the Mull of Galloway & cycling was easy

[page break]

Suddenly the war in Europe was ending & aircrew were going to be an embarrassment. A lot of us were posted ‘en mass’ to PWLLHELI where was little to do and short of space. Thus people went home on weeks of leave.

On one of the leaves from Scotland Megs & I wanted to plan a holiday, but my mother wasn’t to approve so had to tell our parents we wanted to marry in July.

Owing to the uncertainty of the posters we might have had a problem, but it all worked out.

We were married of July 14 1945 at Brimsfield [sic] Church by the Rev de Lacie Wain. Everyone helped in the village for the reception & a car down to Gloucester Station. We arrived in Dunster & spent a week with a lady in digs. Coming back to Birdlip there was a telegram giving me another 7 days leave.

[page break]

I was back & forth [indecipherable word] to Wales until there was a posting to TERNHILL (another brick built camp.

I was by this time a Warrant Officer & was allocated a room for two in the mess. On the second day I was at Ternhill an airmen ( a W.O.) who had a big wangle going on. He spent the week between Ternhill & London taking back eggs etc from farms. He suggested I went with him and I asked the farmers wife if I could bring my wife down for a weekend. Megs made an instant friendship with the wife and stayed at Longford nearly a year.

Soon afterwards I was allowed to live ‘out of camp’ and having Meg with me in a bed sit in the old farm house. The farm at Longford was down a long lane a mile from the camp. Mr & Mrs Masters farms have outside loo with a two hole seat & tin bath and tap in the dairy.

[page break]

We had lovely big fires and had great comfort for newly weds. We had a double bed upstairs with chamber pot & wash stand. I had very little to do at the camp - an occasional lecture. Megs got a job at Jones Motors as a typist at Market Drayton.

I [deleted] was [/deleted] [inserted] went [/inserted] to 2 courses from Ternhill one to Sutton on Hill for aircraft recognition and another to Brize Norton for a lecture course. All things don’t last forever so a lot of aircrew and officers had to move to the nether end of Lincolnshire to HIBALSTOWE.[sic] There was little or nothing to do at this place. Most of us were planning how to get back to Market Drayton.

We went to Scunthorpe to a tawdry club but I was able to see the Steel Works after dark with flames & sparks from blast furnaces.

Some of the chap were sitting [indecipherable word] certifate [sic] exam. Many aircrew had lower demob numbers so demob was within site [sic]. I frequently went back to Longford by train & hitch hiking. One [indecipherable word] time ready for Easter 1946

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Citation

T Saint, “Trevor Saint diary/memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 6, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/31105.

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