Interview with Sir Fitzroy Augier.

Title

Interview with Sir Fitzroy Augier.

Description

Fitzroy ‘Roy’ Augier was born in Saint Lucia. When Roy was ten, his father owned a shop in the main town of Castries. Roy had a good education and after school went to work at the Post Office. However, his ambition was to go to university to study law. He volunteered for the Royal Air Force as aircrew, in the hopes that this would lead to the opportunity to fulfil this ambition. He trained as an air gunner in Canada before being posted to his squadron in the UK. After the war, Roy attended St Andrews University before moving to Jamaica and eventually took a post at the University of the West Indies.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2017-11-02

Contributor

Julie Williams

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

02:31:09 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AAugierF171102

Conforms To

Transcription

AC: Alright. Good morning. I am with Sir Roy Augier. Welcome Sir Roy.
RA: Thank you.
AC: Sir Roy served with Bomber Command in England. My name is Alan Cobley and I will be interviewing Sir Roy today. The date is the 2nd of November 2017 and we are recording the interview at the University Archives at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. So, Sir Roy, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview.
RA: I’m happy to do it. Thank you.
AC: As I explained a little earlier, before we were on air, the International Bomber Command Centre that’s being established in Lincoln is collecting the life stories of people who served with Bomber Command and we are particularly interested to hear about the experience you had as a Caribbean person participating in this fascinating period of our history. And so, to begin with I would like to ask you about your early life and history. What can you tell me first of all about your parents and your family?
RA: Well, to begin, my father had died when I was ten so I was brought up by my mother but I had two brothers so there was three of us as boys.
AC: Right.
RA: All boys. Two year intervals between each of us.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And I was the eldest.
AC: Right.
RA: My father was, his passport says or his birth certificate calls him a merchant. The shop. I remember that he had a grocery shop. Reasonable size in Castries, St Lucia. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I’m a St Lucian.
AC: Yeah. By origin. Yes.
RA: By origin. I was born in Castries.
AC: Right.
RA: St Lucia in 19 [laughs] I’ll be ninety three on the 18th so I’ll be ninety three in December of this year so —
AC: Yeah.
RA: It is — 1917.
AC: So, ninety three. So, if we count backwards that would be twenty, let me see — twenty —
RA: 2017.
AC: So, 1920.
RA: Seven. No, not 1927.
AC: 1930. [pause] So, ninety three this year.
RA: Ninety three.
AC: My maths is terrible.
RA: Yes. So is mine. I should have subtracted long ago.
AC: Alright. But your birthday is —
RA: December the 17th
AC: December 17th
RA: That bit I’m certain about.
AC: And you’re ninety three this year.
RA: I will be in December 17th
AC: Right. So, if we count back we’ll figure out what the original date was.
RA: Yes. Yes.
AC: Let’s not worry about. Ok. So you were saying that your father had a grocery shop in Castries.
RA: Yeah. Yes.
AC: So, you were born in Castries.
RA: I was born in Castries. Yeah. Yes.
AC: Right. Ok.
RA: And he died of Appendix, Appendicitis, when I was ten. So, I was brought up by my mother.
AC: And did she continue the grocery business?
RA: Oh she continued for a bit but she wasn’t able to manage the financial aspects of it because of unreliable assistants. They, in fact, colluded with a competitor who was also a friend of mine. A friend of my father’s when he was alive. The first thing my mother knew about the shop is when, it went on for quite a bit because I used to be frequently in it which is how I happen to know about it. I really knew about it after his death or knew of it in an intimate sense.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Because I used to help my mother with the running of it and one day she just discovered that we didn’t own it any more.
AC: Oh, my goodness.
RA: Yes, it was terrible.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I still remember this.
AC: Yeah. That must have been a terrible blow to the family.
RA: Well it was just her and the three of us. Yes.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Well, she managed to make do. She switched over to what is called dry goods and up to the time that I went she was still — I went into the RAF, she was still trying to maintain that.
AC: Yeah. And so, in terms of social status of the family would you say that you were —
RA: Well, middle class.
AC: A middle class family.
RA: Yeah. Yes.
AC: And —
RA: And I went to secondary school.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Yes.
Well before we get to secondary where did you go to primary? Do you remember that?
RA: Yes. Well I started off in infants at a private entrant school and then —
AC: Yeah.
RA: To the — what was called a Roman Catholic.
AC: Oh yeah. Yeah.
RA: Boy’s school.
AC: But were you brought up a Catholic?
RA: Yes. And I still am. Yes. Yeah.
AC: Still a Catholic. Ok. Yeah. Ok. And so you went to a Catholic primary school. Do you remember what it was called?
RA: Yes. It was called the Roman Catholic Elementary.
AC: It was just called the Roman Catholic School. Roman Catholic Elementary.
RA: Yes. Boys School. Yes.
AC: Ok. And then from there you went to secondary.
RA: Yes, from there I went to St Mary’s College. Which was the only secondary school.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: At the time. Yes.
AC: Yeah. So actually, you were relatively unusual. Going on to secondary school in those days.
RA: Yes. I mean it wasn’t a large number.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Everywhere in the Caribbean. I mean relative to the population. But there’s no point attempting to calculate. Probably a hundred or so but nothing like the size of schools. And even when I came to Jamaica after University in St Andrews in Scotland. The expansion of Jamaica College and the rest, you know, really began after the war and it wasn’t really a very big expansion until about the late 50s and the early 60s. I mean, it really, in my memory and understanding took place by the time I got here to the UWI.
AC: Yes. So what kind of education did you get at St Mary’s?
RA: Oh. the usual. The exam which enabled me to go on was, and into St Andrew’s was the Cambridge. The Cambridge Exam. In fact, the same exam that was given to boys and people of my age. I mean, I think girls got the same thing if they were in secondary school and doing the Cambridge Exam. So, it was English literature, English history or Imperial. I mean, you chose. I think you could choose. But anyway we did Imperial. We had a headmaster who was an Englishman. That was also usual.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: He was keen on sailing. He had a little boat with sails so we got a lot of maritime history.
AC: Yeah.
RA: The English fleet. Nelson. The French and de Grasse. All the battles that were fought in the Caribbean. Rodney of course.
AC: Right. Right. Right.
RA: And you did two foreign languages. French and Spanish or you could do others but we did French and Spanish. So, I did French and not Spanish.
AC: Right.
RA: And Latin and not Greek but you could choose Latin or Greek. French or Spanish.
AC: Oh right.
RA: Or do both if you wanted. Most Barbadians did both so when I came up here there was Latin being taught in the Faculty of Arts.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And Greek I should say.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Both were taught because both Barbadian and some from Jamaica College and the teachers usually in Jamaica as in St Lucia who taught Latin and Greek were Bajans.
AC: So, when you look back at it now do you feel it was a good education that you got? You had a good start.
RA: When, when I went to St Andrews when I discovered that it was a good start. Because the first year I did moral philosophy among some history in the first year and the Professor Knox who taught moral philosophy made no bones about a black man. I will soften him up. Make allowances actually was what he said.
AC: Really.
RA: In fact, the best person in his class was a Sudanese who he took to like water and who took to him in the same way. So, there was no letting up. I mean you weren’t expected to be less than the equivalent of Scots who had done their sixth form. In fact they boasted that they were better than the English sixth formers.
AC: And did you do, apart from the formal subjects and so on, I mean, what did you do for fun? Did you play sports and so on?
RA: No. I was determined not to play golf [laughs]
AC: So, well at St Mary’s though. Before you came to England.
RA: Oh yeah before. Games were compulsory.
AC: Were they?
RA: Yeah. So in the dry weather — January on. In those days we had two very settled. The rainy season.
AC: Right.
RA: And the dry season.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And you played football in the rainy season.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And cricket were compulsory. When the headmaster got his little dory, you could be a Sea Scout.
AC: Oh. Ok.
RA: You were also in Scouts as well. So the games were separate from Scouts.
AC: Right.
RA: You had to be in Scouts.
AC: Right.
RA: So when he got the little boat you could be a Sea Scout. He introduced Sea Scouts.
AC: Ok.
RA: If you wished you could do both or one or the other.
AC: So which did you go for?
RA: I thought Scouts might start getting really [laughs]
AC: Oh well. I can appreciate that. Yes. Yeah. Ok. Well that’s terrific. So what age were you when you finished at St Mary’s?
RA: Well I [pause] seventeen and a half really and I joined the RAF at seventeen and a half.
AC: Oh ok.
RA: So, I was about seventeen because I did a year in the Post Office.
AC: Right. Right. Right. Ok. Well, what — so when you left school the war had already broken out.
RA: Yes. Because the war broke out in ’39 and I was still in school.
AC: You were still in school.
RA: Yeah.
AC: When it broke out.
RA: Yeah.
AC: So, what decided you to volunteer?
RA: This sounds funny. Even to me. From school I went into the Post Office. I became a civil servant.
AC: Ok.
RA: A bit of reality here.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Coming out of secondary school there were only two, and you’d passed your Cambridge exams, there were only two possibilities for you. If your colour was light enough, your skin colour was light enough, you had the possibility of going in as a clerk in one of the foreign banks. There were no local banks so either one from Canada or one from the UK. Barclays was the UK one. I’ve forgotten what the —
AC: Royal Bank.
RA: Royal Bank.
AC: Of Canada. Yeah? Was the other one? Or the Bank of Nova Scotia maybe.
RA: Yes. It was Nova Scotia.
AC: Nova Scotia.
RA: Yeah. So if you were not that the only other opening was the civil service. You might go into commerce but that would be pretty low stuff. Right. So, I went into the Post Office.
AC: So, you did that, just to [pause] you were mentioning your mother was working in dry goods and so on so there wasn’t really a family business in that sense that you —
RA: Oh no. Oh no. She was really supplementing.
AC: Yeah.
RA: She switched from the grocery because as I said —
AC: Yeah.
RA: We lost the grocery.
AC: Right.
RA: So we lost the building in which the grocery was. Right.
AC: Ok.
RA: So we had to turn our royal lodge and commodious house part of it on the ground floor she turned into a dry goods class business. Right.
AC: Right. So, get stuff in wholesale and then sell it out of the house.
RA: Yeah.
AC: Ok. Alright. So, you came out of school and looking at the options you had you went into the public service, the civil service.
RA: Yes. And then two of my schoolfriends — both one year ahead of me — went into the RAF.
AC: Well. Yeah. Before, just before we go into that. So you went to the Post Office. How long were you there?
RA: Between leaving school and going into the RAF.
AC: Yeah. So that was, that was a few months or —?
RA: I went straight — [pause] More like a year I think.
AC: About a year.
RA: Yes.
AC: Ok. And what kind of thing did you do there?
RA: Oh. I was at the bottom of the pile with a salary of twenty dollars which then translated into four pounds.
AC: Oh yeah.
RA: Twenty shillings.
AC: And that’s a month.
RA: A month. Yes.
AC: Yeah. Ok. So, you don’t look back on that time very fondly.
RA: Well, as a matter of fact I was, I regarded it as fun. The postmaster to whom I was really [pause] to use a phrase, posted as his assistant was a bit of a fuddy-duddy.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, I took opportunities to pull his legs. You had to sign the book at what hour you came in. You were supposed to come in at 8.30 and I wrote, I wrote the time in the book with Roman numerals and he objected to that. Well I didn’t begin by thinking he would object.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I wrote it — I suppose as a young fellow making — showing off and then he objected to that.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So I said, ‘I don’t know why you’ve objected. It says correctly the time I was in.’ He of course was middle class and I don’t know why it was that he [pause] he probably may not have gone to a secondary school. It’s possible. Anyway, so I just continued doing it and he would come and cross it out and write it. [laughs]
AC: Wow. Yeah.
RA: And the other pranks that I used to play. There was an Englishwoman there. The wife of some English official who had been posted to St Lucia as part of the war thing and she, I think she read letters. She was a censor.
AC: Ok. Yeah.
RA: She subscribed to the American magazine “Time” and it came to her in the Post Office and it was folded rather neatly so I used to take it off and read it and put it back in the folder. Keep myself abreast of the, of how the war was going.
AC: So, she never know that you were reading her magazine.
RA: She suspected and voiced her suspicion but she couldn’t point to me. There wasn’t anybody else. It wasn’t likely to be the post master that was reading it.
AC: Yeah. Alright. So you were working in the Post Office and then you, you said.
RA: Yes.
AC: You knew somebody who had gone in to the RAF.
RA: Two of them and they both died because they got into Fighter Command.
AC: Oh really.
RA: Yes. At that stage.
AC: But were these people that you had been to school with or —
RA: Yes. Yes. That was it.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And both of them were rather husky, broad chested and so on.
AC: So they were a year ahead of you or so.
RA: A year ahead. Yes.
AC: At school. Yeah.
RA: And so my mother, my mother thought that there was no way that I would be accepted.
AC: Just these two friends you mentioned. Do you remember what their names were?
RA: Yes. One was Etienne and the other one was Bernard, I think. Etienne I remember. Definitely. Oh no, the other one was Deveaux. I was confusing — Deveaux was white. Creole white. Surviving white Creole. Yes.
AC: And Etienne.
RA: And Etienne was, was my skin colour.
AC: Alright. So they had got — they had volunteered for the RAF.
RA: Yeah. Because there was no —
AC: Before.
RA: All of us from the Caribbean in the RAF were volunteers.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Yeah.
AC: So, they had gone. When you were still at school they had gone into the RAF.
RA: Yes, they had left before [pause] I well no well my mind — my memory is fuzzy on this.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Whether they left whilst we were still at school.
AC: Oh right.
RA: Or whilst I was at the Post Office.
AC: Right. Ok.
RA: Because they would have, they would not have gone straight.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because there would have been the application.
AC: Right. Right ok. But did you hear that they had been killed before you volunteered?
RA: No.
AC: Ok. So that was later.
RA: Yes. That was later.
AC: So, did you, you were kind of, when you volunteered you were, in a sense, following their example.
RA: No. I wasn’t following their example.
AC: No.
RA: And this was where I said this is curious for me because what happened to me afterwards is what I thought might happen if I didn’t get killed. That I would be able to go to university if I went to fight. And I wish that a letter that I wrote to my godmother, who lived in Castries, I mean this was a letter really, indicating why I was going.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because she was very kind to me. She was also related to us.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And she was my uncle’s elder daughter and so considerably older than I was. Well, appeared to be considerably older. I don’t really know how much but she was certainly older than I was and she was my godmother. And so I wrote her this letter saying that I’m leaving and I hope that if I survive I would be able to go to university. And I did not know then that the British government had decided that all members of the forces would have their university paid for and so on once they were admitted. Yeah.
AC: So, you had, certainly the letter you wrote to your godmother saying, you know, you hoped you’re going to get to university if you survived.
RA: Yes.
AC: So was that the only reason that you volunteered? You were thinking about that future.
RA: Yes. I mean it wasn’t king and country.
AC: That’s interesting. Yeah.
RA: I mean, at the back of it —
AC: Yeah.
RA: I must say that both because the local newspaper, “The Voice” and there was another one [pause] “The Crusader” carried telegraphed news of the war.
AC: Right.
RA: And particularly Hitler’s supposed racism.
AC: Right.
RA: I was aware of this. And that element, I must say, has to be taken into account.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But the thing that I was conscious of — it wasn’t going to fight for England. It was really to get out of St Lucia.
AC: That was really the opportunity.
RA: The opportunity. It was an opportunity. Yes.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Ok. Ok. So alright so you decided you wanted to go. So how did that happen? You had to put in an application?
RA: Put in an application. Yes.
AC: Was it that you had a, did you go to a recruiting office or how did it work?
RA: No. I think that must have been a branch in St Lucia but I had to go to Trinidad for the physical exam.
AC: Ok. So, who did you contact in St Lucia. Just go to the —
RA: I don’t, I don’t have clear memory.
AC: Governor’s Office, or something.
RA: Yes, could be one of the —
AC: Yeah, and they basically said, ‘If you want to sign up you have to go to Trinidad.’
RA: No. No. I mean, when you went to Trinidad it was because you were accepted.
AC: Oh I see.
RA: Except for, sorry, except for the physical.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I mean you had to go to Trinidad.
AC: Right.
RA: To satisfy them that you were fit enough.
AC: Ok.
RA: Yes.
AC: So, when you applied initially did you have to, like, answer some questions or, you know.
RA: I don’t —
AC: Or submit anything to do with your education or anything like that?
RA: I don’t remember but it seems reasonable.
AC: Yeah. I’m interested. I don’t know.
RA: I’m interested myself. I think so because you would not have been accepted.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Caribbean people were not accepted into the RAF until later in the war.
AC: Yeah. But you specifically applied for the RAF.
RA: Oh yes. Yes. Yes. Definitely for the RAF. Yes.
AC: Ok.
RA: Because of the other two. Because of Etienne and Deveaux.
AC: Right. Ok. Ok. So, you were accepted and you had to go to Trinidad.
RA: Yes, I had to go to Trinidad to Piarco where there was an RAF, RAF station.
AC: Ok. And they did —
RA: And did the physical.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And then I came back home and then the news that I’d satisfied the physical followed me. I didn’t get it coming back to St Lucia from Trinidad.
AC: Right. So, do you remember what you had to do? Did they have you —
RA: Oh yes. Mainly the physical stuff but the one I remember was the one that was new to me which was blowing into a tube with Mercury.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And holding the Mercury up the scale.
AC: Ok. Yeah.
RA: For a long enough time.
AC: So, they were checking your lung capacity or something.
RA: I suppose so. And then your eyes.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And I had 20/20.
AC: Right. Did they have you running and stuff like that?
RA: I suppose so.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But I don’t remember.
AC: Ok, yeah.
RA: The two novel ones.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Alright. So, you go back to St Lucia and you get the news that you’ve been accepted.
RA: Yes. And then after an interval I had to go back to Trinidad.
AC: How did you travel there by the way?
RA: On both occasions I think it was the earliest manifestation of what became [BOA?] in the end.
AC: Oh right. Right.
RA: Yes.
AC: So it wasn’t a schooner or whatever.
RA: No. No.
AC: Ok. So you had to go — after you were accepted now you were back to Trinidad.
RA: Yes.
AC: And what happened next?
RA: I was put on a ship.
AC: Actually, before we get to that. Just a question. What did your mother say? What did your family say when you —
RA: It was just my mother.
AC: Were going to the RAF.
RA: Well my mother was, the first impression was she wasn’t worried because she didn’t think that I was going to be accepted.
AC: Really. Why? Why didn’t she think so?
RA: Yes. Well because [pause] why did she think so? Because she thought that I wasn’t going to pass the test.
AC: Really.
RA: Yes. I mean my memory of Deveaux was that he wasn’t particularly physically superior to me but Etienne was. Etienne was a huge fellow.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I mean, really broad shouldered.
AC: Yeah.
RA: You could see him being able to lift weights. Do anything.
AC: Yeah. Well it would be fair to say Sir Roy that you’re not, you’re not the biggest and thickly built man I’ve ever seen.
RA: Well you don’t know.
AC: So, in those days you were relatively slight in build.
RA: Well I lifted weights, you know.
AC: Oh, you did.
RA: Yeah.
AC: You did.
RA: Yes. And cross country running was my favourite inter house. We were in the English fashion.
AC: Ok.
RA: St Mary’s College had three houses. Rodney of course, Abercrombie, and the French priest who founded it — Father Tapon.
AC: Ok. Yeah.
RA: Tapon, Abercrombie and Rodney. And I was a prefect and in charge of Rodney. And so we had inter-sports.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: And cross country running. So I was —
AC: So, you weren’t a big large fellow but you were fit. You were fit.
RA: Yes. Definitely. Yes.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Well I mean I really discovered how fit I was.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I really had lungs. But the other thing was that I swam a lot.
AC: Oh yeah.
RA: Again this was not particular — peculiar to me.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But we played games.
AC: Right.
RA: In the pool and in the sea itself.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And one of the games we played in the sea was how long you could hold your breath.
AC: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, we would form circles and then you’d have to swim underneath the water between the legs of everybody who was standing up so you could, we quite often did that. And the other one was to dive. Go down and you could go down like thirty feet.
AC: Right, so, your mother didn’t think you would get accepted but you were accepted. So, what did she say then?
RA: A lot of wailing.
AC: Really.
RA: Poor thing. Yes. Well I should be more polite and say crying. Well it was crying. She really didn’t, being the eldest. Yes, it was not a nice time. I mean she quite reasonably appealed to me as the eldest and without a husband and my other two brothers had not yet completed school.
AC: Yeah.
RA: At this college. Yeah.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. So, did you feel a little guilty or —
RA: Yes. I had to be pretty, you know, firm with the idea because I had already decided that I needed to get out of this place.
AC: Alright. So, so you —
RA: Perhaps I should mention that in those days there was this also the Caribbean so the British kind [pause] when you got out of sixth form there were the island scholarships but in St Lucia there was only one island scholarship and you, depending on what the person ahead of you had because they were financed for the entire period of the study.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So you were going to be very unlucky if the fellow in front of you was doing medicine.
AC: Yeah.
RA: If he was doing law —
AC: Yeah.
RA: That would be shorter.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So that alternative was already blanked out.
AC: Right. So your timing was bad as they say.
RA: My timing was bad in both senses.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: There were others who would be competing with me.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Who were likely — for one place I couldn’t be sure that I was going to be anywhere near.
AC: No. No.
RA: Getting that scholarship. Of course, my two brothers were lucky because by then the [CJNW?] the commonwealth welfare thing had come into being and they both got on this on their results at school.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: And went up to Canada because the war was on for them as well as for me too but it was worse for them because the German submarines were doing damage in the Atlantic.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So Caribbean scholars were shifted to Canada.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So, for instance if you wanted to do law you went to Toronto.
AC: Ok.
RA: And if you wanted to do medicine.
AC: Yeah.
RA: You went to McGill.
AC: Right.
RA: And in fact it was part of the increase in numbers that were going to McGill in particular that had an elemental increase in UWI and also starting the faculty. The faculty with which UWI started with was medicine.
AC: Ok. Oh, I didn’t know that history.
RA: Yes.
AC: We’ll have another interview to talk about the UWI’s history but anyway, so you went back to Trinidad.
RA: Yes.
AC: Having left your mother at home wailing.
RA: Yes.
AC: You went to Trinidad and then from there —
RA: And then I got — there was a ship.
AC: Yeah.
RA: In the harbour in Port of Spain.
AC: Right.
RA: That had come out of North Africa.
AC: Yeah.
RA: With Italian prisoners of war.
AC: Ok.
RA: From the early phase of the war.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Before the Germans came in.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Back when the Italians were holding on.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And they got beaten up and then —
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So the ship was carrying these Italian prisoner of war to the States.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Where they were going to be POWs.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Right. And we were put on the boat.
AC: Right.
RA: I was. But there were others from Trinidad.
AC: Ok. So, there was a group of recruits but RAF and other.
RA: No. Just RAF.
AC: Just RAF.
RA: Yes.
AC: What date was this? Do you remember? I mean, for a start, what year would it have been?
RA: ’40/41.
AC: ‘40 ’41.
RA: Yeah. It couldn’t be ’39.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I was still at school when the war started.
AC: Right . Yeah. Ok. Alright. So you’re on the ship. Had you ever been on a big ship like that before?
RA: No [laughs]
AC: Yeah.
RA: I hadn’t even been on a schooner like that.
AC: Really. Yeah.
RA: Yes.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, one of the things that again I will share, having written all of this down, worked it out we not only had sports between the houses in the college but St Lucia was part of the Windward Islands. Grenada, St Vincent.
AC: Right.
RA: St Lucia. And later on Dominica for a short period of time. They were late being moved on to the Leewards group and we used to have inter-colonial, as we called them, sports.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: We would shift between the islands every year.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So I never got to go to Grenada which has to really be understood because I would have had to go on a schooner and the U-boats had already started.
AC: Oh right. Yeah.
RA: In fact, one of the things I did whilst at school that marks it out — if one goes on long enough you remember these things — at school the Scouts and any other volunteers bent wire into circles.
AC: Yeah.
RA: To create a net to be an anti-submarine net.
AC: Oh really. Yeah.
RA: In the harbour because the Castries harbour — it was the second after Kingston, naval station.
AC: Right.
RA: For the North Atlantic and West Indian fleet.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So we created this net.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And the joke was that the submarine, a submarine came into the Castries harbour.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But it didn’t come under the net. It stayed just a little outside.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But above. And there were two ships in the harbour.
AC: Yeah.
RA: One was a Canadian national steamship and the other one was one of those ships with Indian names come out of Liverpool. Anyway, there were two of them there and the submarine we supposed fired two torpedoes because the one, the Canadian steamship was right up against the wharf because we had this deep, deep water.
AC: Yeah.
RA: For coaling.
AC: Right.
RA: It was a coaling wharf. Right. So the steamships could come right up to get the coal.
AC: Yeah.
RA: The Canadian steamship was where the coaling ship would normally be and the torpedo hit it and it — so it didn’t sink.
AC: Right.
RA: It leant.
AC: Leant against the wall.
RA: So, there was a period when Castries was full of looted stuff. Milk, butter and other delicacies which, by that time, had stopped coming in normally.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: We suppose but I don’t know whether there was ever any evidence it was found that the submarine fired the second thing at the other ship and missed it but because it was not against the wharf and it was against the Vigie Peninsula we supposed that the torpedo went into the mud.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Rather than hit it. Right. So —
AC: Yeah.
RA: That helps me to date the school bit because of course I was at school at the time.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But anyway, I didn’t go to Grenada.
AC: Right.
RA: Because we would have had to go on schooners and they were sinking the schooners because the schooners were carrying oil.
AC: Right.
RA: From Trinidad.
AC: Ok.
RA: Up the islands.
AC: Alright. So, before you got on that troop ship you’d never, you’d never been on a —
RA: No. I hadn’t.
AC: Ok. So, what was it like on board the ship? You were heading, you are heading straight to England now are you?
RA: No. No. Going to the States.
AC: To the States.
RA: Yeah.
AC: Ok.
RA: Because the Italian prisoners were being sent to the States.
AC: Oh I see. So, you had to go with them to the US.
RA: Yes. Well that was why I went back to Trinidad.
AC: Right.
RA: Because not only taking me from St Lucia, well I was in Trinidad, but it took others from Trinidad and Barbados.
AC: Yeah. You don’t remember what the ship was called.
RA: No.
AC: No. It doesn’t matter. I was just interested.
RA: Yes. I wish I could remember what it was.
AC: Ok. So, what was the port of call in the US? Where was it headed?
RA: New York.
AC: To New York.
RA: And we took a train.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Took a train from New York to Moncton in New Brunswick.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And Moncton was the RAF training station in Canada for the RAF.
AC: Right. Ok.
RA: And [pause] yes, I think only, I was trying to think whether Australia but Australian and New Zealand I think went to Rhodesia. There certainly was the equivalent training in Rhodesia but it was, I think for Australians [pause] I don’t know.
AC: So, at Moncton, at Moncton in New Brunswick you would have, you would have all the Caribbean recruits would go there would they?
RA: Yes.
AC: What about the Canadians? All the Canadians would come through there as well?
RA: Not all. No.
AC: No.
RA: But some. I mean I think that they had more than one training station.
AC: Yeah. Right. Right. Ok.
RA: Because the Canadian, it certainly wasn’t the only training station. But it was — and it comes to mind why I can distinguish it.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because when we had to do flying training.
AC: Yeah.
RA: We went to Vancouver.
AC: Oh.
RA: Yes.
AC: Why to Vancouver?
RA: Because we were training then on American air, American bombers.
AC: Oh really.
RA: Yeah. Which is one reason why I’m alive.
AC: You’re going to have to explain that one.
RA: Yes.
AC: You’ll have to explain that one.
RA: In due course. Yes. Yes.
AC: Yeah. Ok. So, ok. So at Moncton — what are you doing there? You’re doing basic things like navigation and so on.
RA: Up and down. Yes. Oh yes you went through the palaver of doing the training on a, in a room with a pseudo plane and the comedy was all whether you were going to be a pilot or not.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And if you’re not going to be a pilot then perhaps you might be a bomber, a navigator or an air gunner.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Of course, we didn’t appreciate the guff that the RAF were selling at the time. Of course they were losing large amounts of men and we didn’t know that. And the idea was that everybody was going to be a pilot. I mean it didn’t really matter how well you did on the trainer.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, most of the West Indians became navigators or air bombers. And those, like myself and Hearne and I can’t think of anybody else. John Hearne, incidentally — there were Jamaicans on the New York train up as well.
AC: So, you kind of linked up with them in New York.
RA: Yes. Because they came by train from Florida.
AC: Right.
RA: Jamaica — Florida and then Florida by train to New York.
AC: Ok. Yeah.
RA: So, John Hearne and myself decided that if you were an air gunner your training was the shortest of the lot so we would train to be air gunners. Then we would get over to England. Do a short stint of being an air gunner and then you could come back to Canada and train to be a pilot. Now that bit —
AC: Oh ok.
RA: Was true to a limited — the numbers of course were limited but we weren’t in a position to appreciate how. But the story was true. But where the story needed to have some grit for it to be understood was that very few of the fellas survived being air gunners. So, so, and the time when they were being air gunners was longer than they appreciated. But enough of them made the circuit for it not to be an entire lie. But in effect very few people who did that chose that. So we chose it anyway.
AC: So, you chose to train as an air gunner.
RA: Yes.
AC: With the idea that you would do it for a little while.
RA: Yes.
AC: And then hopefully train as pilots.
RA: Yes.
AC: So, all this you were doing at Moncton.
RA: At Moncton. Yes.
AC: So when, what was the Vancouver part. That was part of the same period of training?
RA: No. No. that was when we left Moncton.
AC: Yes.
RA: We never went back to Moncton.
AC: Ok. Yeah.
RA: But we flew small planes. I mean, those of us, all of us at that stage, all of us firing at drogues. Whilst we were at Moncton.
AC: So, this I, so you went from Moncton to Vancouver by train.
RA: No. No. Just we flew.
AC: Ok.
RA: We flew out of Moncton but on small planes.
AC: Right.
RA: And a drogue was attached to the tail of the plane.
AC: Oh, I see. Right. Right.
RA: And you fired at the drogue and sometimes if you hit the drogue it got separated and fell into the fields of the Quebecois.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: And the Quebecois were not in favour of the war.
AC: No.
RA: Particularly as the leftover of the disagreements although the Prime Minister was one of those very skilful politicians because he managed to bring Quebec in to the war without any big disruption of other stuff.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, the Canadians discovered that, what we called Patois of St Lucia — the French Creole was very similar to what the Quebecois, rural Quebecois spoke.
AC: Oh.
RA: And that was true. I was really quite surprised but then of course I understood because I had a very good French teacher in St Lucia.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And he used to explain that a lot of the verbs that we use in Creole were really maritime verbs and I still remember some of them and I remember one in particular. That the verb for hauling up sails when ships were supposed, they had — hale
AC: Yes.
RA: And hale is what we use in St Lucia for pulling anything.
AC: Ok.
RA: But in French is really a very special verb for pulling up sails.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Raising the sails on a sailing ship.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And when I found that verb among other things it alerted me to the fact to listen carefully because it was a slightly different pronunciation. Just like Haitian Creole.
AC: Right.
RA: It’s the same Creole but it doesn’t — phonetically doesn’t come out the same as Grenada and St Lucia.
AC: Right. And the Quebecois didn’t appreciate you shooting these drogues down on top of them.
RA: They didn’t like the idea. I’m putting it badly. In fact, I’m screwing it back to front. They, they appreciated the drogues because they were nylon.
AC: Oh ok.
RA: And nylon was pretty new at that stage.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: No. What they didn’t like was RAF coming over the fences and asking, ‘Could you give me back my drogue please?’
AC: I see. Yeah.
RA: So, where they found that I was useful was to go and chat up the Quebecois and come back with the drogue.
AC: Oh, I see.
RA: But of course by that time I wasn’t being a great hero because the fellas probably had enough drogues so they could spare a couple.
AC: So they had all the nylon they needed. Yeah. Ok. So — and the crews that were in these kind of practice runs — were they all Caribbean recruits or were they mixed crews with Canadians?
RA: Only one. One in a plane because they just had small planes and the only thing that they did from a small airport in Moncton was to pull a drogue but all all of us that were there at the same time had to go through that.
AC: Yeah. Right. Ok. So, when you get to Vancouver now — what do you do?
RA: Yes. I should add a couple of things.
AC: Yeah.
RA: You went in and out in groups. Right.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, our group and there was the weather so there were these operations of doing flying and hitting drogues and so on.
AC: Yeah. But you were doing this in single seater planes.
RA: Yes.
AC: Yeah. Right.
RA: And we weren’t the pilots.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And when we finished that, well, our life in Moncton really was finished and another set of fellas were having to come in. Wherever they were coming from. Whether they were Canadians or Australians as I said, or whatever. So, now we have to move out.
AC: Right.
RA: So, we spent some time in the University of McGill because we had to get out of the barracks at Moncton.
AC: Right.
RA: To make space for the fellas who came in afterwards.
AC: Right.
RA: So that kind of life was what was involved. You had to wait your turn to move to the next stuff.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So, from McGill we went back to Moncton before we moved to Vancouver because Vancouver had to be empty for us.
AC: Right. Right. Ok. So, and then what kind of training was done in Vancouver?
RA: Oh, that was real stuff. I mean I flew in a ball turret in a Labrador. American bomber. Ones that they used in Europe for bombing during the day and, essentially we were doing mock runs up the Rockies to Alaska and further up and then out in to the Pacific and then back into — and they were night flights. Always night flights. We didn’t do any day flights at all.
AC: Really.
RA: Not my lot anyway. So, they were essentially getting you accustomed to — one sitting in a ball turret suspended from the bottom of the plane for several hours because they were long.
AC: What was it like? Was it cold?
RA: Oh yes.
AC: Was it cramped? What was it like?
RA: It was cold. It was cramped but just sufficiently enough space. You were on your back. Your feet were extended on to pedals so that you could swing the turret at any approaching plane from coming up from below. Your hands were on the guns. And, of course the retraction machinery to go back into, into the plane.
AC: And now you’re in the bombers and practicing. What was the crew composed of? Were they all —?
RA: Oh well the crew was all West Indian.
AC: It was all West Indian.
RA: Yeah. The same. The same.
AC: So, they didn’t mix different recruits from different groups at all.
RA: No. Well you see it was really you were, as the Jamaicans would call us, we were a batch.
AC: Oh. ok. Yeah.
RA: I mean it wasn’t, it wasn’t that —
RA: Yeah.
RA: Other than that, I mean it simply was that we had gone into Moncton as a group.
AC: Yeah. As a batch.
RA: As a batch. Yes.
AC: And the crew that’s training together on the bomber is it always the same crew that you worked with or was it changed?
RA: It was always.
AC: So you had — you were St Lucian.
RA: Yes
AC: Were the others Jamaicans or were they —?
RA: Well the pilot was a Trinidadian.
AC: Yeah.
RA: A Trinidadian white.
AC: Yeah.
RA: The navigator, air aimer was a Trinidadian black. John Hearne was the rear gunner. And the other Bajan [pause] we were very friendly and now I’m not sure whether he was part of the crew because there was a turret on top. On top as well.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: But it was, it was a mixed West Indian crew.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: There were enough Jamaicans or Trinidadians to make up one crew but I can’t think of any that were really —
AC: Yeah. And the intention when you were training was that you were going to ship out as a crew.
RA: Yes.
AC: Ok. Yeah.
RA: And in fact, that’s how I got to England. Because when we finished training in Vancouver
AC: Yeah. And how long was that? That period of training. Do you remember?
RA: I can’t remember except that it was towards the end of the year.
AC: Ok. So, this was probably the end of 1941 now. ‘40/41? Somewhere around there?
RA: I [pause] I somehow have a memory of ’41 being in England.
AC: Ok. So maybe the end of ’40.
RA: I certainly [pause] ‘45 right. I certainly flew for the war in ’43. ‘42/43 more in ‘43 than in 42 because I did not have a long war.
AC: Yeah. Alright. Well the date doesn’t really matter too much. I was just wondering if we could fix it.
RA: It helps me as well.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I’m reconstructing as I —
AC: Right. Right. Ok. So you finished your time in Vancouver.
RA: But I but I’m terribly certain about saying towards the end of the year.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And I have to correct, correct myself on one point. I said we always flew nights and that’s not, that’s not true.
AC: Yeah.
RA: We sometimes flew during the day. If only once. Because I had this [pause] the plane that we were on that I was on had this accidental landing because the forward leg of the plane, the nose, the nose wheel had to lock.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Because it recessed.
AC: Right.
RA: Now, the navigator, air bomber used to lie flat on his belly when the plane was landing. He sat next to the skipper when the plane was in the air. Right.
AC: Right.
RA: But when it was landing and his job while being there was to tell the pilot that the wheel had locked.
AC: Oh yeah.
RA: Right.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
[beeping noise in room. RA: Alright? AC: Yes. I don’t know what that was. Go ahead. ]
RA: So, the Trinidadian fella was flying it and he didn’t quite correctly see it had locked. Now, the reason they had that position there, or that duty was that the wheel didn’t always lock.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So that he could say it’s not locked. So that — but it was very dicey because the pin that locked it would sometimes appear to go in.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And this, on this occasion, it happened so when he touched down the nose went down on to the tarmac and the plane continued with the, with the propellers as it went further and further down churning up and I’d got out of the ball turret. Of course, for landing the ball is brought up, the ball turret so the place there, the round space there remains space. And sparks began to go past.
AC: Wow.
RA: And I thought my God I hope the bloody engine doesn’t catch fire. I’m going to be in some trouble. As the plane started to slow down I decided, well the thing to do is really to get out of here. Let it slow down some more. As much as possible. Keep calculating for sparks and get out of it and luckily for me I took that route.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And also luckily, managed to calculate just enough to be pulled forward and I fell forward and the plane passed. It didn’t catch fire.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But it passed over me.
AC: Wow.
RA: And when it passed over me I particularly, when I was on the ground, I thought ‘Roy, what a stupid thing to do.’ [laughs]
AC: Wow.
RA: But you see the sparks were really, well you could see the blades going and crunching up more and more and increasing.
AC: Right. Right. Yeah.
RA: Anyway, but you see that is how the chat spices up the narrative but anyway makes it more accurate.
AC: No. No. That’s ok. That’s a great, that’s a great story so —
RA: I remember. Well, there are so many stories I want to tell you, correct the statement that we only flew at night.
AC: Ok.
RA: Because I remember the night flights particularly.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Because it always seemed to me that we were flying.
AC: Flying at night.
RA: No. We were flying at night. But it always seemed that when we were flying at night the ball turret was pretty close to the top of several peaks of the Rocky mountains and I said to the skipper, ‘This thing is going to tickle my ass,’ you know [laughs] move it up a bit.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because with the moonlight and with the snow glistening you don’t think.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And you look at the ground and probably we weren’t that close but a bit close. Anyway —
AC: Let me ask you just that though before we move on though. I mean being in the ball turret there I can imagine it must be quite a scary position to be in. So what did you feel about the training? Was it an exciting period or a fun period? Or frightening. What was the experience like?
RA: The truth about it, apart from that and on occasion I’ll tell you about flying in England, although not over England, was that I can’t recall really being frightened. So, apart from this thing about fearing that I might be fried if I stayed in the plane and it caught fire because I wouldn’t have been able to move the turret because the belly is going to be partially there —
AC: Right. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, so anyway I didn’t. I didn’t feel frightened at the time. No.
AC: Ok. So, you finished training now.
RA: The only thing I said was, ‘Move, skipper. Move.’ I thought I’d better tell him, I mean [laughs] because —
AC: Yeah. You don’t want him to forget you’re underneath the plane.
RA: Yes.
AC: Yeah. So, you finished training now in Canada.
RA: Right.
AC: So, what happens next?
RA: So, we were sent on leave. So, we were divided. That should come first. We were divided. That should come first. No — that shouldn’t come first. It has to come next. We were divided into two groups. One group was to go off. That was sent to Trincomalee in Ceylon where there was another base and that base, for the Japanese element. They were beginning to push the Japanese back from Burma and so on and these fellas were providing air support and the group that I was in, and John Hearne was in, was going to go to England.
AC: Ok.
RA: And we, all of us were sent on leave and our group was to report to Halifax in January.
AC: So, you had time to come back to the Caribbean or —?
RA: No. I just hopped skipped on American planes down the West Coast. So I saw LA and Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego.
AC: Wow.
RA: And then I —
AC: Yeah.
RA: Just got into an American plane, got in to the mess.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Asked for any plane going from here and to the next station.
AC: So, you kind of hitchhiked around.
RA: Yes. Yes. That’s what I did. And if there was space they just let you on.
AC: Yeah. Oh, that’s terrific. So, you’re in uniform.
RA: Oh yes. Yes.
AC: Oh yes. You’re in uniform. Yes.
RA: Yes. Obviously. Yes.
AC: Yeah. So you hopped and skipped around the States.
RA: Well just around on the coast.
AC: Right.
RA: Down and then I really intended to go down as far as the Mexican border.
AC: Yes.
RA: And then in and then turn in. And then I thought, hey what are you doing talking about going into the south? Don’t you remember what the fellow said who came up on the train from Florida? Because they did the old stuff of trying to get them to [pause] of course a lot of them refused but [unclear] refused from sitting in what was deemed to be first class or whatever.
AC: Oh right. Yeah. So, it was still that segregation period.
RA: Exactly.
AC: Yeah.
RA: According to the stories which were too many not too be true. Most of them refused because, in fact, it was news to them [unclear] with their nose in the air. Always thinking they were better than anybody else. Who were these fellas to tell them to move? So in fact, and the porters caught on that their accent was different and so on. But remember that we were not in uniform then, you know. The first time we got uniform was when we arrived in Moncton.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So, I thought, ‘You’re crazy. You’re going to go through the south.’ So, I’ve forgotten where I — how far south I got but I certainly remember deciding that I’m not going any further down the coast because I would have — however it turned out I would be turning too much in the south because you literally were dependant on the good will of the fellas at the next American air station.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: To get you on another plane.
AC: Right.
RA: To tell you that there was space and everything.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Right.
RA: So, I cut off and I remember I went to Buffalo from wherever I was on the coast. And then from Buffalo to New York.
AC: Ok.
RA: And I went to New York because I had a relation there and so I stayed with him. And then from New York I went to Halifax. As we were told.
AC: Alright. Ok. So, you arrive at Halifax.
RA: Halifax. In January.
AC: January.
RA: In a blizzard.
AC: Ok. Yeah.
RA: And to our delight because I was on my own on the coast. So at that stage I find that I’m back with John Hearne.
AC: Ok. Yeah. Ok.
RA: We sleep on deck.
AC: On deck.
RA: On deck. Yes.
AC: Ok.
RA: Because the ship has more prisoners going and the Canadian fellows were going. And it’s not the same ship that brought us.
AC: No. No. Right.
RA: And the Canadians were down there. Plus they were fearful that the Canadian ones would make trouble if they were in fresh air. So, they kept them below deck for the whole sprint across the Atlantic. So, we didn’t regard being on hammocks as really a penalty at all. It was fresh air and no one fell in the water?] Luckily the Queen Mary. We had no cover you know.
AC: Really.
RA: No. But by that time I think that they had, they had begun to get some control over the over the submarines. They’d probably started to work on the code. You know, the code. The German code had been broken. So they were nor —
AC: Yeah. Yeah. They had more warning.
RA: They had more warning. Not as many ships were going down.
AC: Right. Yeah.
RA: And the Queen Mary was fast.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Yeah. So that we landed —
AC: So, you were on the Queen Mary.
RA: We were on the Queen Mary. Yes.
AC: Oh.
RA: So we left Halifax in a blizzard.
AC: Yeah. So just to be completely clear — you were saying you were on deck.
RA: Yeah, we were on deck.
AC: For the whole way.
RA: Yeah. In hammocks.
AC: So how did you keep cover from the weather?
RA: The only way you keep [laughs] Cover up.
AC: Wow. So, all the way across the Atlantic, on the Queen Mary, on deck.
RA: It only took about four days or something.
AC: Ok. Ok. So, ok but it was all troops that were on board.
RA: Yes.
AC: Yes.
RA: Entirely yes. I mean the Canadians who we never saw.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But who we knew were there with the tittle tattle between crews.
AC: So was it, was it the West Indian contingent that you were with that were up on deck.
RA: Yeah. The ones that were in the half that was divided.
AC: Ok. Yeah. Yeah. You say they were worried the Canadians would make a fuss. They didn’t worry the West Indians would make a fuss about being up on deck.
RA: No. It wasn’t because, because first of all I will say to you it never occurred to us that being in this army [unclear] that you had much leeway. I mean —
AC: You had to do what you had to do.
RA: Yes. I mean you assumed that you were on deck because there was no space.
AC: You didn’t feel it was discrimination in that sense.
RA: No. No.
AC: No. Alright. Ok. So, you go across the Atlantic. Where did you land?
RA: Liverpool.
AC: Liverpool.
RA: Yeah.
AC: And where to from there?
RA: By train to a place in Yorkshire and eventually from there to a station. A real station where we learned that we now had to train on English bombers. Halifax was one. It wasn’t the Halifax as I was thinking about it this morning. What was the name of the other English bomber?
AC: The Lancaster.
RA: Lancaster.
AC: Lancaster.
RA: Yes, so John Hearne and myself trained on Lancasters.
AC: Ok.
RA: Yes.
AC: Do you remember the station that you were posted to?
RA: No. Funny enough I remember, well not funny enough, I remember the maintenance station which was the last station that I was on but I can’t remember.
AC: Yeah.
RA: It’s one of the damned things that I feel badly about because I could have found out all of these things once I knew where. What happened you see that there were two things were happening. I never set a great store by my passbook and other pieces of paper once I got into St Andrews.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And so I never took care of them. Right.
AC: Right.
RA: I actually, took them to St Andrews. I mean, I came down from St Andrews with multiple tea chests of papers and things.
AC: Right.
RA: Including those things to to Mona.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So, from the RAF to St Andrews which I will tell you some more about. No. From, yes, from the RAF. I was going to talk to you about 16 MU next and then from 16 MU to St Andrews. And then from St Andrews by ship or not only by ship but the tea boxes by ship.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So —
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, when, when I arrived in Mona these things were with me but they were jammed in with a lot of other things.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And I never really took care to say I must.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Well you never, you never know what’s going to be important in the long run, do you?
RA: More to the point I really fancied, well, because the numbers stayed with me for a long time and, in fact, details also. And that was my undoing. When I had a good memory. And I did have a good memory. And no scientist has ever told me you have to make space for other things and you’re filling your head with other stuff.
AC: Alright. So anyway, so you arrived now at the station and they tell you you have to train on the English bomber. On the Lancaster. Was it very different from the American bomber you were trained on?
RA: Yes. Yeah. The way because I now was a real air gunner. You know what I mean? Real air gunner. [unclear] I said Labrador incidentally when I described the plane but it was Liberator.
AC: Ah. Right. Ok.
RA: So, I was really now at the bottom of this long fuselage of that plane altogether.
AC: Yeah. So, you’re in the rear turret.
RA: I was in the rear turret. Yes.
AC: Right. Ok.
RA: Yes. I was in the death turret which is how I came to realise why this story about being you could go off to England, do a round of flight and then go back to Canada and become a pilot. But they —
AC: So why was it called the death turret?
RA: Because you were the most exposed, first, to the Luftwaffe. The Messerschmitt particularly.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Because at this stage the easiest way to get one of these English bombers was to do the covert pursuit and come in from the back. And the covert pursuit meant that you were safe because the only chance that this air gunner could get at you was when you were turning your belly and you were exposed.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But if you did that way you were too fast mostly.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So that you would then, you had also more opportunity to shoot at him. Being on your side was not a problem.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Oh yes, It really was a very dangerous position.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So that even if the bomber didn’t go down it goes down with a dead tail gunner. Yes. So, having trained you see delayed further my getting into ops.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Right. So, by the time I get into ops we are in the ten thousand bomber raid time time.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Right. So, the RAF is flying at night.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And the Americans are flying day.
AC: Right.
RA: And taking a whack themselves.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But the RAF taking more.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Because of the difficulty that they had. But by the time they got to the one thousand they were able to do the combination of flying long distances up north. Right.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because the Germans now had little oil because their oil now came from Romania. Distance as well as quantity. So, they couldn’t deploy their fighter, their fighter planes with the same facility. So even if they knew there was a stream going north over Norway to deploy against the streams that were going into Germany they couldn’t know in time which of the streams.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So I was lucky. So, we could fly above the ack-ack.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Which we did so that and in a way not being afraid was a bit, kind of toffee nosed about German stuff which, of course, was perfectly wrong because we found they were damned accurate and everything depended on the fact that they got distracted so often by having to deploy on short notice and short while. So by the time I really, I can tell you, that I got afraid was when, of course, we were supposed to be and were no communication between members of the same squadron and no lights. And on one night some fool turned on his lights. I really shudder to tell you the expletives that were on the air which are supposed to be, supposed to be quiet and no communications between — and what’s more for some reason it occurred to me and still does it took them a little while to find where the [unclear] was [laughs]
AC: Yeah.
RA: And then you, because you would definitely be — and there were definitely be, and there were fighters getting into the stream because you were flying, you know, without — I marvel at the organisation of the RAF. You were in streams and you had to be precise in time to prevent some fellas bomb not falling, all of us carrying bombs, not falling on you.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Below.
AC: Yeah.
RA: It was uncomfortable of course.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because being in, by the time I started flying there [pause] the [pause] we agreed it wasn’t the Lancaster. What was it again? The other English bomber.
AC: Well we had said it was the Lancaster that you were in.
RA: It was the Lancaster.
AC: Yeah.
RA: What was, what’s the name of the other one?
AC: I forget what the other one you said.
RA: Anyway —
AC: Yes.
RA: That doesn’t matter. By the time I started flying that the number of planes flying meant that we spent the afternoon or sometimes earlier being debriefed altogether of what time, we, of whichever group it was that had to be in the air.
AC: Right.
RA: And you had to be in to the plane at the precise time.
AC: Right.
RA: Because I laugh when, when I think of it, you know, because whereas civilian life is entirely different. One plane at a time on the runway. We had three or four planes all fully revved going out.
AC: Right. Right. Right.
RA: And if anything pranged in front of you were dead because you would be going right into it.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Right. So everybody had to be — now air gunners. You dress and particularly by that time, that’s why I was trying to remember the name of the plane. One of the things that used to give away the position of the planes were the Perspex. So, originally, and for a little while the rear gunner’s turret was enclosed and it was enclosed with Perspex. But the Perspex used to, used to get scratches and a line in the dark and the moonlight and starlight would appear to be a plane coming at you.
AC: Oh wow. Yeah.
RA: Like that. Which, you would start firing and that would give away your position and the position of all the squadron to the German fighters.
AC: Right.
RA: So, they took off the Perspex.
AC: They took it off.
RA: Yes. So by the time I got into the air gunners position it was naked.
AC: It was just open.
RA: Yes. I mean they took off the Perspex so that you were open to the air so then you had to dress to deal with that. So, you would start off with nylon stockings next to your skin. Then another pair of woollen stuff over the nylon.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Coming up to your waist.
AC: Right.
RA: Then a pair of Long Johns which now went over your legs and now over your body. And then you had the boots which were lined but really wouldn’t — the lining was not enough so you had to plug them into the electrical system.
AC: Really.
RA: Yes. And the gloves as well.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, both were electrified. Electrified is not the word but they have warming.
AC: So electrical warmer.
RA: Electrical yes. But you had to plug them in and of course it depended on how you moved the turret. You may or may not disconnect the thing so you could have one boot burning like hell [laughs] the other boot cold .
AC: Yeah.
RA: But then you had to put all of that stuff on.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Except finally the jacket.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Sometimes in the summer —
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: At 6 o’clock other fellas were in their shirt sleeves. Why is that? Because everybody is by their plane to be absolutely ready to be off on time. No slacking. On time. Right.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, you could be on your plane from the little bus that took you to you to the plane on the runway.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And then sit down and wait for your turn. Now you’re all jacked up in your boots because you can’t wait for the plane to go before you put your boots on. All you could do is have the boots ready to be plugged in.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And the Long Johns and all.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And the nylons and all. All of which really worked you know.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Apart from the boots and the gloves which occasionally didn’t.
AC: So, all the rest of the crew were —
RA: Cool. Yes.
AC: Light clothes and everything.
RA: The rest of the crew and everybody waiting until the last moment to put on their stuff because they have room in the plane.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: That bit I didn’t particularly like it but it made sense.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And of course by that time, I discovered that the RAF’s propaganda that all members of the crew were equal turned out now not to be true. Air gunners were paid less than everybody else.
AC: Really.
RA: Yes. And what’s more you very unlikely to make flight lieutenant. So the pilot, all my friends who were pilots or air bombers and navigators.
AC: Yeah.
RA: All of them, after a short period, became flight lieutenants.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But as high as you could go and I didn’t get beyond warrant officer after I stopped flying.
AC: I never knew that. That air gunners were paid less.
RA: I wish, I wish, I kept saying to John Hearne look at that [unclear] can you believe these fellows saying we were paid the same and it really, I felt that bit, quite unjustly.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because everybody is exposed to death for one thing.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And second everybody was really equal in a sense. If if the plane was approaching from the back and truly coming at you you became the captain.
AC: Yeah.
RA: The captain had to do what you said because you were the one to say — to tell him — and that was —
AC: How to maintain. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: To maintain at. And the same thing went if the circumstances required.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: The air bomber, navigator had to give directions.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: The pilot had to take the directions.
AC: Can I ask you about the crew since we’re mentioning that? You’re still essentially the same crew you trained with.
RA: Yeah.
AC: So, it’s still an all West Indian crew.
RA: Yeah.
AC: With the Trinidadian pilot you were saying and so on.
RA: Trinidad. Yes. Yes.
AC: So, over the time were you becoming a very tight knit group?
RA: Oh, we were. I mean although the pilot. He became head of [unclear] or one of the big Trinidad commercial firms.
AC: You don’t remember his name?
RA: No. I know his name alright but it’s not coming to —
AC: Alright. Well if you remember after we talk maybe you can send it to me.
RA: Yes.
AC: Don’t worry about it now.
RA: Speaking and I was laughing about him because we were, well we were, I think I said how surprised I was to see that one day, I opened, in Jamaica —
AC: Yeah.
RA: I opened one of the papers and found that he was their managing director of the firm. Yes.
AC: Really.
RA: Yes. I didn’t think he had that capacity. But anyway.
AC: Really. Ok. Right, so anyway, You’re now flying missions with Bomber Command. How many missions would you fly? I mean would you be flying every day or once a week or —
RA: No. Every night once you started.
AC: Every night.
RA: Yeah.
AC: So for the period of a year or so.
RA: Yes. For nearly that.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because, you know if I had enough guides I could tell you.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Alright. And you were flying. You were saying you were in the thousand bomber missions.
RA: Yes.
AC: So you were flying missions, essentially over Germany.
RA: No. Not essentially. Sometimes. But mostly to the north.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Which is why I said.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I got into the air war late.
AC: Yeah.
RA: The earlier in the campaign perhaps because the Germans knew we had more planes now.
AC: Right. Right. And they had less capacity.
RA: They had less capacity. Yes.
AC: Right. So, what about the missions that you flew now?. Do you remember any of them particularly?
RA: No. Apart from the [unclear] light. I can’t really distinguish?
AC: Yeah.
RA: That was really, so often if you passed over a cluster of important industrial places.
AC: Yeah.
RA: That there would be anti-aircraft.
AC: Right.
RA: Flak. But you were flying pretty high and the anti-aircraft fellas, scatter, you could see the scatter below.
AC: So were you ever engaged by any fighters that you had to see off?
RA: No. No. That was one of the benefits of of flying that route.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Instead of into Germany. I would have been closer to the capacity for oil there. Yeah.
AC: Yeah. Right. Right. And so, you would drop your bombs. Could you see the bombs hitting at all?
RA: Yeah. You could see the bombs. Of course in due course you discovered when the war was over and we used to joy ride. Oh, let’s go and see. Of course [unclear] great organisations slowly disintegrate until they noticed what was happening. Fellas just used to take off because they had the oils and stuff. Let’s go and see where we were only to discover that we hadn’t hit them at all but later on as it became clear those planes, those crews that were able to land discovered that they hadn’t hit the place at all and the ball bearings which were one of the principal targets were underground. Yes. You know. This sacrifice of human beings really was much more expensive than the stuff. Yeah. And the Germans repaired stuff pretty quickly.
AC: So, I think we’ll come to what you felt about the campaign later but at the time did you feel like you were doing something worthwhile?
RA: Oh yes. Yeah.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Yeah.
AC: Yeah. So, you felt that you were helping to win the war.
RA: Yes. Yes. I mean, once I was in it.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I mean I wasn’t against. I mean I’ve commented myself.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I mean it’s only after that I could make estimations when I had enough information emphatically how lucky I was.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But when I was flying the raids themselves.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I often didn’t know where I was going.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because the briefing for that kind of stuff was for the pilots to make sure that they were on station and all that.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: I mean one would know you weren’t going into Germany over that area.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But sometimes you went sometimes into [unclear] a bit but not deep enough to —
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Into the eastern centre.
AC: Right. Yeah. So, it was just a target somewhere that you were going.
RA: Yes.
AC: Yeah. And what —
RA: And you were essentially distracting.
AC: Right. Right. And what was the feeling, do you think, amongst the crew? More generally amongst the people you knew. Did they have a —
RA: Among the West Indians?
AC: Yeah. Were they feeling like they were doing something worthwhile.
RA: Yes. I mean we never got, I can’t, certainly not from John Hearne, I can’t remember, I mean John was not the only one I knew.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I was close also to the Trinidadians. John and I were closer because we were air gunners and made the decision to be air gunners together.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: But no I got friendly with and, in fact, one of the sad things for me was later on when I started asking about the fellas that had gone to Trincomalee I discovered that a lot of them had died.
AC: Really.
RA: It turned out that the war over Burma was really hard. And a lot of them were Bajans.
AC: So, a lot of that that other contingent had died.
RA: Had died. Yes.
AC: What about the group that you were with? Did you lose many of that group?
RA: No. That’s what made me do the contrast because they were Trinidadians mostly and Jamaicans.
AC: Right.
RA: And they were all alive and I mean —
AC: Yes. So, you didn’t lose any friends or immediate group.
RA: I didn’t lose any close friends.
AC: No.
RA: No.
AC: Right. And while we’re on the subject of the West Indians in general what was the experience like? Well you were based in England initially were you in various bases in England through the war or did you move?
RA: No. We flew from the same station.
AC: Flew from the same station.
RA: Yes.
AC: And what was it, what was it like living on the station and in the area? Was it in an area, did you get along well with the locals and so on?
RA: Yeah. Yes. I didn’t have any bad experiences.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I mean I was young enough really [pause] it didn’t matter. I mean it wasn’t a life. I mean like, you know, going to a pub. Even after. I was doing my PhD, I used to dread fellows saying, ‘Let’s go to the pub.’ For me that was smoke.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: I mean, you know half and half but I was much happier being in a room in Hans Crescent reading or just relaxing.
AC: So, in general do you think, I mean your experiences are interesting, but the group as a whole they had a reasonable experience. There wasn’t a lot of discrimination or hostility or anything to them. They were well accepted.
RA: Yes. Well. Yes. Well it’s not something that I had to ask in a sense because it would have come up naturally and I had not had feeling.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: I was more surprised with the details of English social life than anything else. I mean, the lack of facilities for warm water, for coal. I mean when I witnessed coal in bathtubs I really was a bit surprised but you know there wasn’t any feeling from the family that I was —
AC: Right.
RA: Because I think the war really bred a feeling of we are in this together.
AC: Ok. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And that and that tape the [Belizian?] were brought over pretty early to Scotland to cut forests and I think there was some complaints being made there.
AC: But in terms of your experience you really didn’t have kind of negative like that.
RA: No, yes, but I must say also that I am living on an air base for most of the time. Right.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And we come back at 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock in the night.
AC: Right.
RA: At that point I just want to go to sleep.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Other fellas in the squadron would want to go to the mess and stay there but I always went just from the plane to the mess but had whatever food that I needed which was not very much and then go off to the hut.
AC: Yeah.
RA: In fact, my memory of that, of that aspect of continuity of a thing done all the time is walking to the hut by myself and in fact reliving some of the affairs that I had, and others of my age would have in St Lucia about walking alone and jumpies coming out of the side there. So, I always walked straight in the middle [laughs] because we were in a rural area.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. And you were in like a barracks or —
RA: A [unclear] hut. Yes.
AC: Yeah. So, you shared with —
RA: Yes. With whatever number. The hut.
AC: Eight or ten or twenty.
RA: I’ve forgotten the number but it was the standard. A standard set.
AC: Alright. So basically your space was a bed.
RA: A bed, a Veno spring bed with three palliases because you had to leave the room.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Absolutely tidy.
AC: Right.
RA: And be where ever you had to be back at 8 o’clock.
AC: Right.
RA: The easiest way to make up the bed which as I finally discovered, mercifully was to do three palliases which you just pile up. Blankets or pillow and there.
AC: Yeah. And you had, like, on the base, a main mess hall that you would all go to.
RA: Yes. Yes.
AC: Alright. So you were flying missions pretty much every night for the best part of a year. How did that come to an end?
RA: With the end of the war.
AC: So when the war ended basically.
RA: Flying. Flying. I mean for the interlude which for me was very brief.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Of lets let’s go and see what we did.
AC: Yeah. So, you actually went into Germany.
RA: Well I flew over it. Some fellas landed.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Did the usual exchanges of more myth probably than fact.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Chocolates. Well I think that is true of the Yanks for very expensive watches.
AC: So, you flew over just to see.
RA: Yeah. Just —
AC: To see where you had been bombing.
RA: Yeah. Yeah.
AC: And you said your impression was that you hadn’t hit much of what you had been bombing.
RA: Yes. Well from height down it looked which turned out to be true. You had bombed.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: I mean the buildings that you had destroyed clearly really stood out but the targets.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. So, Ok so the war is finished. What happened? Were you kind of demobbed and then went straight back? Or —
RA: No. No.
AC: What happened next?
RA: No. No. There was this, there was this lull. I mean as I said, when you were no longer able to fly. I mean you just didn’t have access to a plane anyway. So, I spent some of that time in London. That was when you were talking about leave that was leave.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Whilst you just waited to discover what they were going to do with you.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Right.
AC: Right
RA: And then there was a Jamaican who was a very nice fellow. Flight Lieutenant Ivor de Souza and they twinned, they twinned me with him. He was, incidentally the second High Commissioner for Jamaica after the war. In London. To London. He was a very cool chap as well. His manner suited him. Suited his appointment of course. He died unfortunately of cancer whilst he was still in the external service so he didn’t last long after the war. But we used to correspond. And then I noticed, he was much better that I, he wrote to me much more frequently than I wrote to him from Mona. And then I noticed that he was getting longer and longer. But I heard about the cancer from people here who knew him.
AC: Yeah. Right. Right.
RA: And I said, ‘What’s wrong with Suzie? I haven’t heard from Suzie for a long time.’ John Hearne also knew him very well. So, I was twinned with him and sent to this Moncton [pause] not Moncton [laughs] the 6 16, now, I remember the 16. Why the hell should I remember 16? 16 MU.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Where the ground crew, the ground crew existed in largish numbers and where they had a real race relations and of course that was what we were sent there for. I think this was somehow decided. Of course, I never got around to asking him how he managed it because I soon found myself alone in charge of this large group and I’m only a warrant officer. And only a warrant officer means I’m up against officers. Squadron leaders. In fact, the base was run by squadron leader.
AC: Where was 16?
RA: MU.
AC: Where was it?
RA: I think it’s — I think it’s Lincolnshire.
AC: Oh ok. Yeah.
RA: I think.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I used to remember what county it was in but —
AC: Ok. So, they sent you there basically to take charge of this group of ground crew.
RA: Yes.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because there had been fisticuffs, broken jaws and so on.
AC: Really.
RA: It was a Maintenance Unit.
AC: Yeah.
RA: With hangars.
AC: Right.
RA: Spare parts.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Therefore, it was dispersed.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Over the countryside so if the Germans had known it was there they couldn’t damage everything.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Because that was spare parts for the bombers.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And the fighters. Right.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, the hangars were dispersed over the countryside. The countryside was uneven which again was why it was used for maintenance and in the winter the dark comes early and fellows were being called nigger and phrases being distributed so could wait behind a rising piece of land which was curved, for the sergeant or whoever had been insulting him in the hangar and [unclear]
AC: Really.
RA: So race relations were pretty bad on that Maintenance Unit.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And I succeeded more or less which brings me back to speaking to senior officers where of course part of this ability at this time not to regard these fellows as anybody in particular. In Bomber Command there were fellows in the ranks above you and so but really everybody — I don’t remember any kind of person pulling rank and not, certainly not among the West Indians but not even among the English people and not the English people among themselves.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: There was a feeling actually, ‘Yes, we know you’re a flight lieutenant.’
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Or you’re a squadron leader.
AC: But you’re all in it together.
RA: But you’re all in it together but this chap gives me a speech to the effect that he’s glad to see me because I’ve been sent. So he said, he ends the talk by saying, ‘Well I hope you’ll do your part.’ So I said, ‘Yes sir and I hope you’ll do yours.’ [laughs] The joke was that these fellows had, I don’t know if you know the phrase, they had jazzed up the RAF uniform. The RAF uniform is terribly ugly.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Left to its own. So, these fellows had jazzed it up.
AC: Yeah.
RA: They had bagged out the pants.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Tightened the cuff at the ankle.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: And then they had all sorts of people with skills for sewing and ironing and so on.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: And they’d drawn a line across the shoulders of the jacket. Tightened up the waist.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And I had gone to the mess. Luckily for me the fact that I wasn’t an officer didn’t matter because the base wasn’t that way so being a warrant officer was enough so I was saying how I would have to speak to these fellows because I’ve told the man if he does his part I’ll do my part. I’m working myself up to this frame. I’m going to give these boys the proper speech that I’ve promised. Don’t let me down and all the rest of it.
AC: Yeah.
RA: When I go to breakfast I see these fellows are jazzed up and so but when I’m looking a little bit more closely as fellows come in the English fellows are also dressed up in the same. So these boys had carried the culture across the line.
AC: So they had [unclear]
RA: So yes. I said, that makes it very easy. The English aircraftsman bottom of the line jazzed up. Get the West Indian tailor from us to jazz them up. I just have to deal only with the nigger calling and so on which enough counter blows had passed by that time for me not to have any major things on my hands and really to be able to chat it out. The other task that I had was to distribute sugar on weekends and that was an eye opener. There were these fellas. Ground crew. Nothing like, nothing higher than sergeant and very very few. And in the photograph — if I had it here you would see and they were persuaded by their mutinous behaviour at the beginning when they landed which is why aircrew were being were being dispersed. To keep them in order. There were also clashes. There were Trinidadian ground crew as well but the Trinidadian ground crew were generally secondary school fellas. These fellas were primary school. Right. And there were clashes between the Trinidadians. Not on that MU station because there were only Jamaicans but I had heard from London before I got sent to that MU that Trinidadian and Jamaican ground crew had got in to sparring.
AC: So, what you’re saying that there was more of a class thing.
RA: It was a class thing.
AC: Not an inter-island as such.
RA: No. Well a little bit. But the essential thing was that it was class.
AC: Ok. Ok.
RA: Yeah. Class and the usual culture thing but not colour.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Because, because these groundcrew fellas were all more on the dark side of the African black skinned section.
AC: So, you were saying about the sugar. What was the sugar?
RA: The air council had agreed to give them special food. So they not only had refined sugar. You know, white refined sugar but they also had rations of meat and butter and stuff which, well nobody — none of us in air crew ever thought of even asking.
AC: Really.
RA: I mean we just took normally. You were in the RAF. That’s what people at the airfield and the squadron ate which is why the one food I will not eat is brown beans. Baked beans. Baked bean. I had enough between Moncton and —
AC: Yeah. Enough for a lifetime.
RA: Yes. Enough. Absolutely refuse. It’s not banned from the house but I won’t touch it. That’s my contribution to my war. So they [pause] I had a bicycle. Part of the equipment so to go around to make sure that everything was alright. So, I would then pedal around in the evenings to the huts where they lived. And then so I didn’t know anything about that so one Friday, so they said, ‘So you’ve come to — ’ ‘No I haven’t come to.’ ‘So, you haven’t come to divide the sugar?’ I said, ‘What sugar?’
SC: Yeah.
RA: So they had these casks.
AC: Yeah.
RA: That’s where the tea chest casks came from. The RAF had put the sugar in muslin bags. Big. And my job was to shovel out into each single muslin bag the ration for each man.
AC: Yeah. Right.
RA: So, when they discovered that I was not taking one they insisted, ‘No. No. you have to take.’ You have to take and they were really, I tried, I didn’t want it. there was sugar in the mess and I really didn’t want it. No. They insisted. So you know what left 16MU with me? A tea chest full of sugar in muslin bags. You know what went to St Andrews with me?
AC: What?
RA: Tea chest full of — you know what came down to Mona with me [laughs]
AC: You don’t still have it somewhere do you?
RA: No. No.
AC: That’s a great story. Yeah.
RA: Yes, but then what moves in the direction of St Andrews is that I got treated by these fellas as their boss so that they were insisting, the would insist on serving me on Sundays with curried chicken or beef or whatever and in any other fancy dish that they were bring this in from the mess ceremonially. For me. Right. Now, because this was a Maintenance Unit it was mainly served up the ranks below officer rates by people who belonged to the RAF before the war.
AC: Oh. Ok. Yeah.
RA: Now, those of us who had joined the RAF voluntarily were given equivalent ranks by the same name but you were called Volunteer Reserve and these guys were much much older than I was. Right. And they certainly didn’t like the idea of me being served with all of these things. Personally, I saw that there was no way. There wasn’t a table or a thing where they were being brought their food. They had to get their own food. These fellas were insisting that I get the food they’re bringing in for me. Right.
AC: Right. Right. Yeah
RA: So, I knew then just the sensitivity that although nobody made any unpleasant things about it below their breath they certainly resented it. So, when after ‘45 the air council sent a general thing saying that people with Volunteer Reserve ranks will go down and only have the rank that their years in service entitled them to. I realised [the damned things?] don’t account for a damn. Right.
AC: They would take your stripes.
RA: Yes, because I was volunteer reserve and I didn’t have any years to earn that.
AC: Right. Right. Right.
RA: And this applied across the whole of the air force.
AC: Right.
RA: Not just Bomber Command or Fighter Command or anything so that it was particularly effective for air crew. I mean, at that time, in other words, there wasn’t enough stuff to justify maintaining the ranks.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: But these old men would keep their ranks.
AC: Right.
RA: Right. So, there I would be in the mess right, if at all, right but without the equivalent. So I decided — master you can’t be lackadaisical about this thing. You have to get out. So, that’s where my gamble from St Lucia now paid off. So this is ’45. ‘39 to ’45, right. So, by ‘45 I started to apply to universities. Now, here comes again another diversion. In order to keep air crew, I mean there weren’t enough Maintenance Units and so they had to find jobs for them. So they used to run courses for what they called the Commonwealth. The English fellows could take care of themselves but for us from Australia and various parts who were in England they arranged for courses in the universities which were quite spontaneous.
AC: Yeah.
RA: They could be organised in any way. They weren’t part of the, part of the university things. Right.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And they could be held anywhere so the notices came around the various units where people like myself were and then I noticed that one was being held in Glasgow. So, I wrote myself a railway, I wrote myself a leave ticket.
AC: Right.
RA: And I told my corporal that I was off on this thing which was genuine, I mean, because it was a thing.
AC: Right.
RA: And left him with the thing from the — part of the air council or command that the Maintenance Unit belonged to and took off on the train for Glasgow to this thing. All that was above board. I mean it was quite genuine.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So, I found it was being run by a squadron leader, if not a group captain, whose family owned a coal mine and he was a manager and it was about management. And he was in charge of that.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, there was a Trinidadian doctor from nearby. One of the people who was supposed to chat. It was quite useful to have him. It turned out that he was one of these people who had contacts. So, one day he said to me, ‘What do you intend to read after you leave here?’ So, I said, ‘Law.’ He said, ‘Law? No. No. No. The Colonial Office would say too many lawyers. They wouldn’t agree with you.’ And I could just as easily say to him, ‘What’s it got to do with the colonial office. I’m in the RAF. I’m not here because I’m on a scholarship from the Colonial Office.
AC: Right.
RA: I’m here because I’m a member of the RAF.’
AC: Right. Yeah.
RA: ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘It doesn’t matter. These fellas have a way of finding out you’re a black man wanting to do law go and go and make trouble in the colonies. Why don’t you do something to be a teacher?’ So, I said, ‘I don’t want to be a teacher.’ Right. And the conversation tended to, on that point, to go down but before it was down he said, ‘I know the Dean of Arts at the University of St Andrews.’ West Indians in my class only knew Edinburgh and Glasgow. They didn’t know there was Stirling and St Andrews. I’d never heard. So I said to him, ‘St Andrew’s? Where is that?’ Practically sneering, you know. So I was not at all impressed that he knew all about it. He knew the Dean, until later on when I knew he really did have contacts. So I left it at that. As I said I had conversations. Now, here comes another bit that I wished I’d kept the piece of paper. There I was at 16MU and I get a telegram from the Dean of Arts in the University of St Andrew’s saying, “You are admitted,” and I’m telling you the thing literally, “You are admitted. Come at once.” Because by then it’s October.
AC: Right.
RA: Pretty — certainly, I think, late, very late in September. In fact when I got to St Andrew’s I was already pretty late. Right.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Although, because it was an admission but before that once I decided that I’m going to be in a mess with these old men I immediately decided — oh well I have the Cambridge entry. Apply to Cambridge. Apply to LSE. I applied to LSE because Arthur Lewis had, by then, become a bit prominent at the LSE.
AC: Right.
RA: He wasn’t then his professor then because his professorship was in Manchester.
AC: Yes. That’s right. Yeah.
RA: But that was later. That was the third piece of paper I wish I’d kept. I got a reply. Both places replied. But both Cambridge admits me for ’46 — no. No. For ’47. And I want to get out in ‘46 and I get a note from Arthur Lewis saying, and I remember it again by heart, and he said, “We have decided to admit four hundred students,” and later on when I met Arthur Lewis, I didn’t know him personally at the time. “We have agreed to admit four hundred students and you are four hundred and one. But you are admitted for next year.”
AC: Oh right. Right.
RA: But I want to get out now. Right.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, I could wait and choose, either Cambridge or LSE.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So that with the letter from the Dean, that telegram from the Dean came after.
AC: Ok.
RA: So I practically reconciled myself that I don’t have a choice at that stage. Right.
AC: Ok. Ok. Yeah.
RA: So, when it comes I then have to apply for demob.
AC: Right.
RA: Because I have an admission. Right.
AC: Right. Right. Yeah.
RA: So when I went to St Andrew’s I hadn’t been demobbed, you know. I had to then say to the corporal, it was the same corpora, ‘Here is my letter of demob. So you see I’m going to, but I’m going to apply for demob before I leave here.’ So my demob is going to come here when it comes this is the place I have to send.
AC: Right. Right. Right.
RA: So, when I went up, when I got up to St Andrews, St Andrews, all the halls were full.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So luckily the train that goes to St Andrews stops at Leuchars.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And Leuchars was an RAF station but for the sea.
AC: Right.
RA: Right. Because it was right on the coast.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And it was doing anti-submarine.
AC: Right.
RA: Anti-submarine work.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So that night, or later in the day. Probably. It was before night fell I decided the only thing to do was to go back to Leuchars. There was the train stop at Leuchars so I took a bus between Leuchars and St Andrews. So I went. I decided that, with my kit bag and stuff, and I’m in uniform [pause]
AC: Yeah.
RA: Nobody is going to be making any enquiries.
AC: Yeah.
RA: All these stations are exactly alike.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So I go in and I check out the rooms so I make sure I have a room with nobody on either side so there is no one to ask any questions before breakfast or when I’m coming back from St Andrews. And I doss down at Leuchars.
AC: Yeah.
RA: At the RAF station for about two months and then I, then I got a bit a queasy. I thought God, one of these days someone is going to ask me something or other.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Might become suspicious so, I decided I have to start searching around in St Andrews.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But at that stage it might have been better or worse. I’d got no way of finding out but I run into a Guyanese and this fellow in St Andrews who was in the RAF or had been. He was, not like me but he had got a billet. St Andrews has a name for it so that was not in hall but I’ve forgotten what the name was but unfortunately those landladies who took students before the war had, of course, all had been taken up by those people who came in first, when the hall was filling up and had gone there.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, we were with one of those who had never taken students but were taking overflows.
AC: Right. Yeah.
RA: And once again I was in a Veno bed and this fellows name was Hadley but I was in a Veno bed and I was a six foot man in a Veno bed that sagged towards the centre. Serious sag. So, when he gets into the bed naturally he rolls towards the centre first so I’m sleeping in this position.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Highly, highly uncomfortable.
AC: Yeah.
RA: So, I tried to reason with him not realising first of all it was not that he was hoggish and was taking up this stuff. It was the springs. It was the springs that were the cause of it.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, I decided after a while that this can’t work but before I decided that the landlady was already making things uncomfortable as well. Again, not in her manner but because she didn’t know about doing things like — the place was one of these old houses. No hot water.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: So, when we had to shave because of course we came out of the RAF shaving the idea of a bowl for her to bring up hot water because she didn’t normally think that hot water was necessary for shaving.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: So, one day I though what the hell am I shaving for. Boiling for hot water. I stopped shaving. So I started to grow a beard.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And went on with a beard until spring and then started to shave again and I got down one cheek I said, ‘Right,’ and I just said, ‘Roy, winter’s going to come,’ [laughs] so I just pulled out [laughs] on the other side because I hadn’t got past the soap but I pulled out enough on the other side enough for it not to — awkward and stopped shaving.
AC: You’ve had a beard ever since.
RA: Yeah.
AC: Ok. So, at St Andrews now you went into —
RA: I went for an interview with the Dean.
AC: Yeah. And it was the history programme you went in to there.
RA: No. I told him I wanted to do law because law was what I really wanted to do.
AC: Yeah. Right. Right. Ok.
RA: But he said law is not taught on this ancient campus. They were opening a new campus in Dundee.
AC: Right.
RA: Right. To deal with medicine and law.
AC: Right.
RA: And if I wanted to do law I would have to go across the river to Dundee and register there. Well I hadn’t got any telegram from the Dean of Law. So I thought —
AC: Right.
RA: So I said, ‘Will I be admitted there?’ And he said, ‘Oh yes, I will arrange for you to be admitted if you want to do law’. So I said to him, well, oh no, he said to me, ‘What else would you want to do?’ So, I said, ‘Politics.’ He said , ‘We don’t teach politics here either. What we teach is political philosophy but before you can do political philosophy you have to do moral philosophy.’ So, he said, ‘But I don’t think you would be able to do moral philosophy.’ I said, ‘Well, what is moral philosophy about?’ He said, ‘Oh Plato and so on.’ I said, ‘Oh Plato. Yes, I think I can do Plato.’ What happened was that going up from New York to Moncton I had bought Plato’s [pause]
AC: “Republic.”
RA: “Republic.” Right. And had managed at some point to consume one chapter.
AC: Ok.
RA: And I had never opened the book after that. So, he said, ‘Plato. So you know anything?’ I said, ‘Oh yes sir I have read, “The Republic.” And he said, ‘Well, what do you know about “The Republic”? Can you tell me?’ So I remembered [unclear] and I started to tell him and by the time I had spelled out a few words recalling these fellows names he said, ‘Oh yes, well I think you can do moral philosophy. So, yes. Yes. You needn’t go to Dundee to do law you can do your moral philosophy and then you can do politics and history.’ So, I, that’s why I graduated using the political philosophy stuff.
AC: Right. Ok. So, you had your career at St Andrews
RA: Yes.
AC: And from there you went to —
RA: Well, I got a post graduate award
AC: Yeah
RA: And went to London because I was going to do the History of Jamaica.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Well a thesis. I mean I’m making it sound much more settled than it all, than it was.
AC: Right. Right. Right.
RA: Because the key now to my next step is Macmillan. WM MacMillan who had written “Warning from the West Indies.”
AC: Yes.
RA: Which predicted the riots of the 1930s.
AC: Right. Yeah.
RA: And Sir James Irvine who was modernising St Andrews. And had, and he was a chemist and trained in Germany and he was, he had dealt with science and at that stage he was turning to arts so he had brought in MacMillan who had been a Rhodes scholar and so on to teach Africa.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: And let Macmillan decide what else to do and once I realised that Macmillan was there I decided I would be. So I was doing English history with Lionel who had been in the Indian civil service. Sir James Irvine and Sir John something or other. He had been a classical scholar, a scholar first, gone off to the Indian civil service took no leave at all. Then let all the leave accumulate and decided to go back from India to Cambridge and do history. Modern history. English history. And then he went back in the civil service and James had captured him as well. So, I did English history with him and African history and a bit of West Indian history with Macmillan and political stuff with Knox.
AC: Alright. And then ultimately you go back to the West indies. When did that happen?
RA: Well I went down, no, I went down to London. Yes well yes to London.
AC: You went to London and you were there to do your doctorate.
RA: My doctorate for St Andrew’s.
AC: Right.
RA: Yes. And from there, with Macmillan’s help I managed to get the social council that was involved with the ISER. The Institute of Social and Economic Research.
AC: Right.
RA: They had one in Lagos as well.
AC: Yeah.
RA: And one in Uganda
AC: Right.
RA: And so I got a scholarship from the ISCR.
AC: Ok.
RA: And that there was no vacancy in history. And ironically the first post that came up was for English history and a chap called Waldren who was also with me in St Andrews finished his PhD and got the award the same year had the same Convocation that I had and he got that job because his PhD was in history, was in English history and mine was in Caribbean history.
AC: Oh right. Well as I said to you I want to talk to you on another occasion about your early UWI days and so on but for the purpose of this interview I need to ask you a bit about looking back at your time in Bomber Command. Do you think, looking back at it now, as you were saying, you said that you saw looked at the bomb sights and so on that perhaps you hadn’t hit what you had wanted to hit do you think that was an important part of your life. That it was. That you had done something valuable? What did you feel about it? Looking back.
RA: Nothing. Because first of all I didn’t do very much of that and as I said a lot of that had been done before the air council woke up to the fact that this is going on and on and on a large scale. So that I needed only a very short time of that because by the time I had only done one or two flights the air council had decided that these working class ground crew people from the Caribbean needed managing and use aircrew from the Caribbean to manage them.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: Yes. So that — No. I discovered a lot of this on the ground after.
AC: Yes.
RA: After this.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But because, just let me say something.
AC: Yes. Sure.
RA: One of the things that I did — happened to be able to do was that whilst I was at St Andrews, at the end of the first year, in the summer I got invited over to Germany where a group of students from France and Holland and Belgium and [pause] Denmark, I think, had organised. They were all Catholics and they had organised a group for themselves for approachments between themselves and Germany. Right.
AC: Right.
RA: And so I got invited into that group and another way which I found out about and then certainly I was in England at the time when various assessments came up when the air marshall in charge of Bomber Command was the only one who didn’t get knighted or made a, given a, you know. The army fellas and the navy all collected their peerships or whatever they gave them but they discussed at [unclear] over indiscriminate bombing so I was part of that feeling and emotion about the waste of human, human life.
AC: So, looking back at it you did feel that it had been something that really wasn’t, shouldn’t have happened.
RA: No. No. I know that is where you started but I’m saying I didn’t feel that.
AC: Yeah.
RA: But that’s how I came to know things like that, and the underground. That we never really destroyed ball bearings.
AC: Yeah. Yeah.
RA: That didn’t come from flying over it but because I didn’t get much from that.
AC: Right. Right. So, well I mean one of the questions that I was asked to ask you is what do you think that war experience really meant to you? I mean was it, looking back at it, is it a time that you are proud of? That you look back fondly towards? Was it a formative period of your life in some ways? How do you feel about it, thinking at it now?
RA: Well just that I grew up. I mean nobody was — I was on my own. I mean, you know. I — the kind of excesses, if you call it that, I mean with the kind of life it involves I came out of the RAF. I went into the RAF without smoking. I came out without smoking. I didn’t have a woman. I never had a woman. So, life the life was self-directed. I mean that I managed on the capital that I brought out of St Lucia.
AC: Let me ask you about just, you mentioned John Hearne quite a bit. What happened to him?
RA: He went to Edinburgh.
AC: To Edinburgh.
RA: Yeah.
AC: I mean he came back to Jamaica eventually.
RA: Oh yes. He came back. He got married.
AC: Yeah.
RA: He got married in Scotland. I was part of the entourage when I went out from St Andrews.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: To start from then. We got together. We actually cycled in France and in Germany. Went down, went down the Valley of the Rhone. And then by that time he had decided to go back to Jamaica. He’d got a job at Jamaica College. So, when we went back to Paris, back [unclear] I could pedal up that [unclear] Going down was one thing. Going back another. Then he left me in Paris because I was not really going anywhere at that stage.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I mean was going. Going to London to do the stuff but —
AC: Yeah.
RA: I had not made any preparations.
AC: Oh right.
RA: Luckily for me because [unclear] came up. But he went back. I stayed. Then I went into Germany on the bicycle and met these fellas and did and I covered a lot of Europe. Went into Italy with them and from then, from them I got a food dose although we started and their [unclear] and they looked a bit really. I got a dose from them about, ‘Roy, how could you do this?’ Showing me some ruin.
AC: Oh, they were having a go at you for the damage that Bomber Command did.
RA: Well yes, they were having a go in a sense, I mean, but they really were astonished that they had, you know, really, I’m saying at first I was emphatic and then I realised there was a little more than that so I came off the emphasis and righteousness — ‘But you started it.’ You know. But I stopped saying that.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: But the feeling was — this was before I learned about Dresden.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
RA: And some of the other because I really couldn’t believe. Anyway, I can’t —saying that I was happy wouldn’t quite work it out because I wasn’t unhappy.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I was among friends. The English people. As I said the normal white man in the RAF never. In fact I used to keep a diary and there was a chap who flew I’m trying to remember what task he had. Anyway, he realised and I kept a diary and he knew that I kept a diary and he always used to tease me. You know as being toffee nosed and sort of, you know he didn’t use the word but it was clear that he realised that there was a difference in the use of the head between us. So he used to call me, he didn’t say intellectual but he was posing me as that kind of person.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Rather than — but he was the only one. But it was not, it was not denigration. It was really recognising and a teasing of somebody up to useless activity. [laughs]
AC: When you came, really, just to kind of round this off now. When you came back to, well came to Jamaica to work here and so on were you in touch with people who had served with Bomber Command? Like John Hearne and so on. Was there a group of you here that kept in touch?
RA: No. John. John was the only one. Because I don’t know what happened to the other, funnily enough, the other Jamaicans who came up from Moncton.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I ran into one or two people who were in the RAF after the war whilst we were waiting. Like de Souza. I didn’t meet de Souza before that.
AC: Right. Yeah.
RA: One of the tapes there was a fellow called [pause] a Flight Sergeant Guest who was also a flight lieutenant. So from time to time I met, I met him.
AC: But So, there wasn’t anything like a veterans association or anything that you were a part of?
RA: Well I think that some, some of them went to [Kofe?] Place. I mean, oh, no there was the RAFA Association.
AC: Right.
RA: Yes. And the September. You know the Battle of Britain rituals. We’ve still got one. This September in [Kofe] Place.
AC: Yeah
RA: Yes. There was but I didn’t have a car and there wasn’t anybody in the Mona campus although later on there was a Dutchman who we used to call Boom Boom, who rode a motorcycle and he was a bit older than I was but he went to [Kofe] Place regularly and so he would say, you know, ‘Come along,’ but I really didn’t feel like going down there. I mean, compared to the senior common room where the academics from different faculties would be drinking Red Stripe and telling dirty stories [laughs] or complaining about the prejudices related to the promotion of this fella or that fella there was no comparison. [Kofe] Place was a bit too far.
AC: Yeah. So, by the way, John Hearne has passed away now.
RA: Yes.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Yes, some time ago now.
AC: Some time ago. Yeah.
RA: Yes. His daughter has written a biography of him which the University Press has printed.
AC: Oh really. I must look for it.
RA: Yes.
AC: It talks about his wartime experiences as well does it?
RA: Yes.
AC: Ok then. I’ll have to look for that. I guess I’m down to my final question really.
RA: Good.
AC: But let me just ask you this. When you came back to the Caribbean what do you think people in the Caribbean thought about what you had been doing? Do you think — were they indifferent. Were they — did you feel like you were welcomed home as a hero? Or —
RA: With not any doubt but I would say to you there was really an interlude.
AC: Yeah.
RA: I really came into Jamaica, if I can might use of the word, without any prejudice into a nest of Jamaicans.
AC: Yeah.
RA: Who I had made friends with in London whilst I was doing my PhD.
AC: Right.
RA: They called that marvellous place Hans Crescent. I don’t need to elaborate about Hans Crescent for you.
AC: No that’s —
RA: You know about it?
AC: Yeah.
RA: Yes, because when I came down from St Andrews first, there was a small place called Nuffield House and then, for some reason, well, I’m bound to say for some reason because I know the reason — the post graduate award. Of course St Andrews had some uppity Scottish title for it. It had really had no money. I mean no meaning not zero but it was a traditional thing. A bequest which was aimed at fellas given post graduate awards. Did it in Scotland and preferably, for all I know, in St Andrew’s or in surrounding countryside or Glasgow surround. So the money would have been adequate for that but it wasn’t for London. Now MacMillan had pull with the Colonial Office but for some damned reason they wouldn’t give him any money for me despite MacMillan really being in. Do you remember when [unclear] married and so on [unclear] the Labour party sent MacMillan to go and negotiate with [unclear] uncle who had already been [unclear] South Africa by beating some white man who had broken the law and we just couldn’t understand that. Well the sticking point was he’s going back to Jamaica and we have already appointed somebody to teach West Indian history. Caribbean history or whatever.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Who was Elsa. Now Elsa, because Elsa came up to UCL whilst I was still at St Andrew’s she had graduated a year before me and had gone back. So I went to Mona before she put in her PhD you know. Right. She was working on her PhD in England before she — but she had already got the job. So they just said to me we don’t need, why are you doing two PhDs? Right. ‘But you can do, we’ll look at it again if he does a DipEd.’ So they insisted in the hope of hanging [unclear] board after that MacMillan said [unclear] had no difficulty taking the advice although the money from Scotland had begun to come I was beginning to face the fact — how am I going to sustain myself? So I took the DipEd and that is how John Hearne and myself came back together again because Hearne also had to do the DipEd and so we both became close and that was all the stuff that led to our being friends in Jamaica but the bit that happened first was that we roomed together in London so we shared flats in different places. Shared the rent. Right.
AC: Right. Right.
RA: Then Hans Crescent opened. There was Nuffield House but they were just closing Nuffield House so I spent a short time in Nuffield House and then I was among the first people who went into Hans Crescent and Hans Crescent filled up with Caribbean but also with Africans from various — including [unclear]. When I saw [unclear] the first time I realised that some Africans can look red. Did you ever see him?
AC: Never in the flesh. I’m too young.
RA: You’re too young [laughs] I remember it from [unclear] to West Indian eyes they looked like [the cleaner?] we used for goblets of water before the fridge came into existence. So, that, then with one thing or another I became president of the house and for the time until I had to go back to St Andrews for my convocation to receive my PhD I ruled [laughs] I ruled Hans Crescent combined with I was the chairman of the Student’s Union. The West Indian Student’s Union.
AC: Yeah.
RA: During that period I made friends with a lot of Jamaicans. Very close friends.
AC: Right.
RA: And I had absolutely no difficulty settling into Jamaica because these people came out really and welcomed me.
AC: Right. Right. Ok. I think it’s been a fascinating journey. I want to thank you very much indeed on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre Archive.
RA: You want me to sign something?
AC: Yes. I’m going to ask you if you wouldn’t mind to sign the agreement which is there just to make sure that we have it all legal.

Collection

Citation

Alan Cobley, “Interview with Sir Fitzroy Augier.,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 22, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/3333.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.

Can you help improve this description?