Interview with Eric Brown


Interview with Eric Brown


Eric left school at 14 and worked in a bakery and then in accountancy. Aged 17 he volunteered for aircrew and trained as a flight engineer. He became a pathfinder and carried out operations to Hamburg, Karlsruhe, and Dortmund, flying from RAF Coningsby. We was with 106, 97 and 57 Squadrons. After the war he joined the police force, rising to the rank of inspector.







01:09:40 audio recording


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AH: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre the interviewer is Anna Hoyles the interviewee is Eric Brown the interview is taking place in Mr. Brown’s home in Holton-le-Clay on 14th March 2016.
EB: I originally started er learning before I er
AH: Can you speak up a bit more?
EB: Yes well I could I suppose yes, I used to work with this accountant and er war was coming obviously and so by this time I was about sixteen seventeen rather and decided that I would join up with the rest and so I went off volunteered to er go I wanted to go with aircraft and I was accepted to go and I suppose I was about two years or a little bit less than that at I had to choose what I wanted to do and er being that bit older of course I wanted to be into something and eventually I got into that and er you then had five choices with regard the aircraft and what you were going to do and er so I became the man who sat at the [laughs] [unclear] and er I was responsible for all the feed for drinking for no drinking feeling [unclear] and checking all when you had every so many hours you had so many checks on that and er you were responsible for the seven of us that’s er what you tell you what we were going to do now everything was all was different er and er we used to go what we were given to do er and that’s about about hundred in that altogether and er we got close to Germany as it was then and of course that is when the danger came out and er you sometimes I’ve known we’ve had gone off home leaving about seven or eight men all shot down and there were an awful lot shot down the Germans used to you know pick you up and that was it and er you got there but what we could do we could get a bit lower and be be hoping somebody would come along and hit it and er we’d be all right by night and so I did an awful lot of flights there for for [unclear] haven’t got any yes these it’s what the award was eventually we were afforded one of those but er it was an awful thing though our own men your own men friends those you lived with getting shot down, its funny now I don’t know whether you read in the paper in Lincoln they are building a big thing er for all the men who didn’t come home and funnily that one night er I was talking to him before it was his turn to go off and er that was it we didn’t see any more of him and er we had an awful lot though and er but you you had a job you did the job and er that’s why we had the chap with the guns [unclear] two guns we had two men who were older than us I mean I was about thirty thirty odd then and they decided they wanted to go on this particular way and er it was nice because you took different people with you at night but er so we we just had me it was my job to look after the [unclear] in front we had four we haven’t got four there have we?
AH: No
EB: See but er yes four knives off you went er petrol just right and we never got too much or little of anything [laughs] you always had something which was [unclear] but the worst part as I’m was concerned was as you came to the prison to the arrived there er and if your guns were fire guns were fired and Germans were sent to what we could send to us over there and you had to make your way back home and hope are we going to be lucky, I do remember one night they had the Germans used to have these special things that came out when it got dark and er we decided one night we got stuck down there and we had to get back up but we couldn’t for a while but er you had to look after yourself once you got to France France you were all right that was the best bit but we did lose an awful lot I mean it was nothing to lose nothing to miss rather other than to er perhaps ten or eleven one night and er so you were you used to have your food when you got back home if there was any left or if you didn’t felt like eating you ate it but er I mean it there was something about it all the time you was were as one you know you didn’t pick on anybody or get anybody all wanted friends all doing the same job on er we went from up North to Norway er down to er France and that’s how it was at night keep going and er fires fires from the Germans they sent hell of a lot and er you just hoping you hoping do what we can and er once you got on that situation then you had to look after it and hopefully get back again. How you doing?
AH: Good. What planes were you in?
EB: What?
AH: What planes?
EB: Er I’ll show you it, we got one?
PB: That’s the Lancaster
EB: The Lancaster it’s the one that everybody is talking about now.
AH: Yes
EB: That’s that’s the one you had that that’s it there
AH: Yes
EB: That was at Lincoln.
AH: Oh yes, and what were they like to fly in?
EB: What were they like?
PB: Noisy.
EB: Very good very good wonderful aircraft best of
PB: Noisy [?]
EB: Yes excellent, the most Stirling’s they were they were dangerous [laughs] we didn’t get on very well on them but [unclear] you managed just about some nights if we got hit but er you got there all right you had a meal when you got home and then you ready for the next day again start again that’s how it went six or seven nights you would be on things like that doing that.
AH: How did you feel when you were doing it?
EB: Well it was all number one you know it was look after number one, I being the the pilot was there I was the second my responsibility that we had four engines to go with and four to get home with and er.
PB: That’s him in his flying gear have you seen it?
AH: Very nice.
EB: So we had a chap sat at the end of the aircraft he was the gunner we had a man mate half way up this thing another friend another gunner and er you had two men who that’s the hold but they were from Australia and er their job was to sit in get covered up and when you got to Germany and stop all the things that we get coming at us so then we got to me I was responsible for four engines and er the pilot was very good er er but er I went going sidelines to that some years after the war I joined the Police force and I was walking home one night and er a young somebody an ex friend stopped me and he said ‘oh you know Chick Arnott don’t you?’ I said ‘yeah’ ‘oh’ he said ‘he’s got a factory in Germany’ not Germany oh where he lived.
PB: Australia, Australia.
EB: Mmm and er and I got a letter from him and two or three years after I got another letter and er I then thought of going over to to Australia but er I didn’t I kept in the air force and er got home one night he came with this girl a friend of his wife er had come back over to Australia and er she came to tell us that he had been killed he er he used to drive a car I know he was a bit mad when he was driving cars he did have one of his own er and er that was his end yes weird thing he did all that and er [unclear] and er he got killed.
AH: What was he called do you remember?
EB: Now then now Arnott yes have we got anything of him?
PB: Arnott yes what did they call him?
EB: Chick, Chick.
PB: Yes Chick Arnott.
EB: Chick Arnott his friend he was, but we were fourteen not fourteen we were lads really er five of us were lads and the balance were fifty they being the Australians they were desperate to get there mind you and er that’s what happened to him [takes a puff of something] certainly when you look back its.
PB: Have a little drink.
EB: Me throats not very good.
PB: Have a little drink.
EB: That was me a willing worker [laughs] with [unclear] I don’t know why they did that because
PB: Have a drink.
EB: You know I was doing that on aircraft all the time.
AH: So you were demobbed in 47?
EB: Would be about then yes.
PB: Was it 47 you were demobbed in yeah?
EB: Yes I joined the Police force.
PB: Cos’ we were married in 47.
EB: Yes.
AH: Were you part of Operation Manna?
EB: In what way?
AH: Did you fly to Holland?
EB: Er no I don’t think so.
AH: You flew to Norway?
EB: Yes there one night er didn’t do that much but I did definitely a trip there it wasI remember now because we didn’t hit what we wanted to hit ‘cos you couldn’t see where you were actually going to and er this clever dick he decided that he couldn’t see anything but he’d find something ‘cos he came down to the ships and when he got there he got shot down.
PB: Your voice clear your throat just take a bit.
EB: That er that was the end of that one. It was always nice to see a German[laughs] but er.
AH: Were you in the same squadron all the time?
EB: Yes yes once we got that squadron that was it that we stayed but of course then the Australians went home and er we that was me when I got home that was it, this thing says here assesses you how good you could be ‘I am a keen and willing willing circa[?] a keen and willing circa[?] with intelligent appre apprehension of technical matters’ [laughs].
AH: Is that true?
EB: Yes it was it had to be I had to be but er my [unclear] to keep four girls not four four types of tanks of water of petrol I did funnily come across one night and er I don’t know how it happened but we got ourselves caught out as when people were coming in but er for some reason we got out of it we had one or two sticks but er that’s life in’t it.
AH: Was it frightening?
EB: No in a way because you were too busy too busy you didn’t know who was who what was coming at you but er I never knew anyone didn’t know anybody who [unclear] that got about it as I say we had that much to do compared to the work we did we got home after that but the [unclear] over France we started losing petrol but we did manage to get home so and er when there’s a thousand aircraft a night all coming home to have something to eat and er it was there the skies were it was just there and er once you left where you were starting from that was it you didn’t see anybody until you got to where you when actually you got to the target then it was hell let loose it was all these red things all these things going out and er you just hoped they’d miss you as soon as you can get lower the better. Did I tell you that’s my Police medal you found this here, that’s a foreigner I don’t know who that is I put Norway for that but I don’t know why?
AH: No it’s the EU? Paris.
EB: Is it.
AH: Where were you based?
EB: ER Coningsby did you know Coningsby? Lovely aircraft lovely place to be at it very good there wasn’t far to carry the goods anyway er get over the water get yourself hidden away and er we thought Lincoln was a shocking place to be all aeroplanes [laughs] didn’t have many people up north doing things like that but er where we were based generally it was the place where it all happened really did I don’t know, you didn’t didn’t have old men none at all but I stopped from that after the war and er became a policeman and er that place we went there for.
PB: That which is Chick Arnott on here look?
EB: What he’s the boss.
PB: That’s Chick
EB: That’s Chick
PB: That was the one that got killed in the accident and that’s Eric again this end you see.
EB: He was very he used to stutter a lot I think his father was something to do with car money rather er.
AH: What was he called?
EB: I can’t I’ve got five damn things all written down here look that’s it that’s Ken,
PB: Ken navigator, that’s Dave
EB: That’s Dave they were all over thirty, er that was me, Chuck
PB: Chuck, Chick.
EB: And that was the other Australian he er I think he used to do [unclear] at night earn his money that way but er he used to like his money and he used to like his water water as well.
AH: Did you always fly with the same crew?
EB: Yes, yeah I think I only knew of one and that’s I did work with somebody work with somebody else because there was no reason for not using it we were there together, yes I written there the Pathfinder Badge.
AH: Were you a Pathfinder?
EB: Yeah, yes that’s when it all started again really but er that’s what we used to do keep it low get in deep problems and then er come back home.
AH: Were you always a Pathfinder?
EB: Yeah, yeah.
AH: What were you doing in 47?
EB: Er
AH: When you were in 57 Squadron?
EB: No we didn’t do a 57 I don’t think.
AH: Is there anything in?
PB: 47 look here you’ve got something down here for 47.
AH: Oh your log book.
EB: 447 in’t it [pause]. That’s after the war that.
PB: No that’s 43 Eric.
EB: Mmm training some people [coughs] you didn’t talk much when you were flying the two gunners were too occupied doing what they were doing and er the same thing went for us really, er four things the guns, the petrol so that was my job the pilot was looking where he was going and it just left the two men who when we got there they started and er did what we could.
AH: Did it take a long time to train?
EB: What direction?
AH: Before you before you took part.
EB: How that happened I remember that well I joined this thing as it was this thing at the time and I think I was sent off to a place north of er before you got to Scotland anyway and er I got what we had as kids to me I what we had as a kid so I got a week in this place er I had to stop there as I was sweating or something and er I nearly lost my place and er as a boring when you were training people you couldn’t there was an awful lot involved typical of what they did they used to pick people out at night er for you for going out there to watch to guard it really this was in Wales where we’d been trained and so you used to be given you gun and off you went and you sat on that thing for about three hours and all you could have after that was a break you were six weeks before six hours six hours before you could get back and shut your eyes [laughs] so those who didn’t do that we sat up peeling a potato every night same thing same potato and er we were training nearly a year and er.
AH: What did you do before the war?
EB: Accountant.
PB: You were in the office weren’t you.
EB: Yeah, because it was war then wasn’t it they were [unclear]
AH: Did you have family in Grimsby when it was bombed?
EB: You what love?
PB: Yeah.
EB: Yeah.
PB: Yes your mum and dad lived in Grimsby.
EB: Er yes ‘cos my father was a policeman er one sister works in the
PB: Joyce went in the army.
EB: She joined the army, the next one up
PB: Gladys
EB: She worked on er
PB: Ammunitions munitions
EB: And the eldest I don’t know what happened to her
PB: She still
EB: Oh she had a baby didn’t she?
PB: Yes that’s right yes she got married
EB: Marilyn yes that’s right that we had there [going through papers]
PB: It will be here somewhere look when you went on these here trips then where you bombed
EB: All these look you see.
PB: You dropped bombs
EB: [unclear]
AH: Hamburg?
EB: Yep
PB: Here you are look told you in 1945 45 it’s all the trips that you went on.
EB: Yeah Karlsburg, Dortmund.
PB: That’s a German isn’t it.
EB: Yes [unclear] quite a few quite a few trips.
AH: Do you remember any of them in particularly?
EB: No I don’t think I do really there’s all them look.
AH: Karlsruhe?
EB: Wartsburg [unclear] send things
AH: Was that a big raid Wartsburg?
EB: Yeah twenty storage tanks destroyed Tansburg [?] er
PB: What’s this one here look here where you drop flares
EB: Where you drop those flares so you can see what you are doing.
PB: Oh you dropped flares there you did yes.
EB: I think we’ve told you all
AH: Is this from a log book?
PB: Yes but he had but he’s given his grandson it cos it was all down there you see all of his trips want ityou gave Matthew it didn’t you.
EB: Yes well it’s no good to me er it’s worth a bit £2 a time it was a lot of money in those days.
AH: Was your father in the First World War?
PB: Yes he was in the army.
EB: Yes he was.
PB: In the army.
EB: Yeah I now but what about it there’s something about it er I’ve got a photograph of sometime.
PB: Was in the Police Army was in the Police when he was in the Army?
EB: No I don’t think he was.
PB: No
EB: No one time if a man was a coward or wouldn’t fly wasn’t going they had to shoot him.
PB: They did what?
EB: They had to shoot the chap who wouldn’t go they shoot them in France yes.
AH: What was your father called?
PB: William.
EB: William yes, what did they call my mother?
PB: Eh?
EB: What did they call my mother?
PB: Lillian Lily
EB: Lily that’s it yeah aye there were five of us ‘cos my father’s my er grandfather he had the bakehouse but he didn’t go into it because he had five of us to look after and that was what he used to do.
PB: Your mum.
AH: So the baker was your mother’s father?
EB: Yes and how they got together was the fact that my father used to look out for her when he was on the beat and he could see there was my mother cleaning up that’s how they got married grandfather [unclear] but yes he did.
AH: What was your grandfather called?
EB: That’s one thing
PB: Basil, called him Basil?
EB: Yes that’s right called him Basil, it was a lovely house he had and er once a year when we were kids and grandfather had a nice car and er we used to take probably my father did it take us down to my grandfather’s house and off we used to go for a week [laughs] and that was it.
AH: Where was his house?
PB: In the country where wasn it?
EB: Do you know Grimsby at all?
AH: A little bit.
EB: ‘Cos it’s it you were coming out as going to Louth
PB: Grasby, Grasby?
EB: No the other way
PB: Some pond.
EB: Oh no we went there last week last when that had that to do with something oh your eye the eye thing a place they used to do eyes.
PB: Oh yes
EB: And that was it Scartho.
PB: Yes in the bungalow but then your other one where they did the pond that old pond where you used to go visit them.
EB: Yes Kild at er [?], what was it now there we had something there but I never take it or tell it Kild [?]
PB: I can’t remember
EB: and er that was the place they lived in was very nice they lived ad er you could have one in my father my sister doing my mother doing all the work.
AH: And how did you meet?
PB: How did we meet? Well you see when he was at Coningsby at night the buses used to go into Boston and I lived in Boston at the time and we used to go to the dance hall called the Gliderdrome and these bus loads of airmen used to come to this and I met him there you see.
AH: When was that?
PB: That was in 1945 it would be wouldn’t it when you was in the air force?
EB: Yes It was before then.
PB: Was it before then?
EB: Yes yes.
PB: He used to come from Coningsby on the bus didn’t you?
EB: Yes.
PB: To the Gliderdrome
EB: Mmm
PB: Then we used to have a dance then you used to go off on the bus didn’t you?
EB: Yes.
PB: Then I used to go home walk home well with my sisters ‘cos it was dark then there wasn’t no lights in the streets.
EB: But by that time we’d stopped bombing we weren’t doing bombing.
PB: Oh no.
EB: So that’s how it was.
AH: What did you do?
PB: What did I do?
AH: Yes
PB: Well you see I left school when I was fourteen then and then I worked in a little shop where I used to be get the breakfast ready and the farmers used to come in and it was at the end of at Boston at the cattle market want it where the farmers used to come and they used to come for the breakfast and some people used to stop overnight and then er I wasn’t there very long though and this baker used to come in and he said ‘I could find you a job’ and it was where I lived near where I lived so of course I went there but it was from six o’clock in the morning till six at night I used to go in a morning first off to get the bread done in the tins then they used to bake it and whilst it was baking I used to go home for my breakfast then I went back and then the bread was more or less ready used to get it out fill the van go on a bread round and then er come back again to the shop then we used to go for our dinner I were always late and then in the afternoon we used to make cakes and pastries yes it was hard hard work but er you know I well I don’t think I even got paid much for it it was only five shillings a week I used to remember buying a bar of Cadburys chocolate for a treat out of my five shillings [laughs] so it could only have been sixpence perhaps or two and half pence then wouldn’t it then [laughs] oh dear then I did that then I left and went to the cleaners didn’t I.
EB: Mmm.
PB: And then I got married while I was there didn’t I?
EB: Yes.
PB: And you what did you do then?
EB: Still flying.
PB: When you came out of the air force.
EB: Still flying.
PB: Yes you were still flying yes but then when we got married you wasn’t.
EB: I got married.
PB: You got a job at Leicester didn’t you?
EB: That’s right but it wasn’t very long.
PB: No it wasn’t very long no.
EB: Yes that’s right it was with the er thinking of [unclear].
PB: ‘Cos Gladys lived there at the time at Leicester didn’t she?
EB: Yes that’s right she did yes, I had a job there anyway that was.
PB: It was an office job want it duck?
EB: Yes it was yes well they were all I mean there was me eighteen nineteen twenty the rest of them were fifty they’d all not gone you see yes.
PB: And then you came out that job at Leicester and you applied for the to get on the Borough Police at Boston ‘cos I lived with me mum we lived with me mum then didn’t we after we got married you got on the Police Force at Boston and you wasn’t we wasn’t there long and you put in to go to Grimsby didn’t you?
EB: Yeah.
PB: And then it was the chief constable there and he said ‘come on Eric come that afternoon I’ve got you a football shirt ready you playing football that night’ weren’t you.
EB: The good old days.
AH: What was it like to leave the RAF?
EB: I was sorry to leave it but at the same time it was different you know I had a job to get involved in that whereas you could do some something totally different but you had those sort of people who did that but to me I wanted to be off er you were [?] within two days you would be off you quoted this number and off you went and that was it.
PB: What while you was in the forces?
EB: Mmm.
PB: Yeah well it was a routine want it you was in.
EB: Oh yeah yeah they gradually took everybody out that was it.
PB: Pardon
EB: They gradually took everybody out.
PB: Mmm.
AH: And you had children?
PB: Pardon.
AH: And you had children?
PB: We do have yes two daughters yes one’s sixty six now and the other one is sixty. [Laughs]. Mmm
EB: Yes.
PB: Well we shared a house didn’t we while you were in the police force.
EB: Well it was a police house wasn’t it.
PB: No at first we lived with Joyce we shared a house didn’t we we shared a house we had half of it we had the back half of the house we shared a council house they did in those days you see because I was having my our first daughter and Joyce she’d got one little boy she was having her second child so of course she went in the home and the day she came out I went in in January and then of course I didn’t have the baby until March did I, mmm but then we ‘cos you used to come yes you used to come and see me.
EB: Yes
PB: ‘Cos you see it was past the home want it where you lived Nunsthorpe and from there we got the police house in Winchcombe Avenue didn’t we?
EB: Yes.
PB: It was a new one it was a lovely house wasn’t it?
EB: Oh yeah yeah.
PB: But you used to go to work on your bike from there didn’t you?
EB: Yeah yeah [unclear] that’s one end of the thing used to have to go there ready for playing ready for when they were doing it all you started something there and you had to work your way right across there [laughs] and then when it was home that’s when you got out again they had these little places iron boxes and er you used to take your packed lunch with you and er do that.
PB: What those the police boxes you used to go to?
EB: Yes yes mmm.
AH: And was this where was this?
PB: This in this was was in Grimsby wasn’t it?
EB: Yep as it was then whether it’s
PB: It was Grimsby yeah
EB: I don’t know.
PB: Well was it Bradley Cross Roads?
EB: Yeah no it was whether it’s there still it might have something going for it I don’t know.
AH: What was it like being a policeman in Grimsby?
EB: It was funny because with it being a fishing town it was all fishermen there was an awful lot at night to get them on the docks get home or not be all drunk up and er and it was no good at all but er it carried on for quite a while and er we er one or two of us for some reason managed to get ourselves one step up and er from there on of course I went through finished up being a chief inspector I was quite but the boss there in where was Grimsby he was he used to go out he had this car this posh car and he’d go out everynight looking for police looking for policemen [laughs] er he was very unpopular his wife was working in a pub and he finished up later and er I never knew what happened to him but he didn’t do any work that was a fact.
AH: And how did you feel about the way Bomber Command were treated after the war?
EB: Well it er I mean it was terrible in some places I mean we’d got nearly nine hundred policemen to be shot down ‘cos they were and it was terrible but er again you had to look after yourself and er you had a job to do you had to go and you had to get back and the funny thing was though you didn’t see any aeroplanes they were about but you didn’t see them and er that was how it was mmm do you want to be a policewoman then?
PB: A bit different now to what it was when you was on the force in’t it now don’t think you would have coped with it as it is now well you would.
EB: I was an inspector want I.
PB: Well an inspector that’s right yes well you used to do the courts didn’t you.
EB: I was
PB: You still still
EB: Still
PB: You were at Grimsby though
EB: Oh yes I used to go to court every two weeks seven days a week and then.
PB: You used to do the courts at Brigg.
EB: Yes that was every Friday.
PB: On a Friday Friday was it ah.
EB: That was like for country people er and then I finished there of course then it all collapsed didn’t it stopped doing it.
PB: Yes that’s right.
AH: What was it like being in Boston during the war?
PB: Ooh well it was queer really I can’t imagine now what it was like I mean everybody knew everybody else didn’t they?
EB: Oh yes.
PB: I mean you could always go out and meet somebody you knew I mean even your next door neighbour they were all sort of friends together wand it you never got stuck going out on your own because they was always somebody to go with want there?
EB: Yes.
PB: It was a busy little place nice though want it?
EB: Oh yes.
PB: It was a nice place though really.
EB: Not now.
PB: To what it is now it’s all these Polish people can we say that?
EB: Well it’s the truth in’t it.
PB: Well I mean my sister she died a year ago but I mean she used to say she lived just outside Boston and I am pleased she did ‘cos she said going into town it was just horrendous mmm.
AH: Was it bombed badly?
PB: No not really was it?
EB: No.
PB: There want much bombing was there I don’t think.
EB: No.
PB: Want.
EB: No no you didn’t get any.
PB: We didn’t get much at all I mean used to know when they went out on a raid because they used to go over our house and then I used to ring the next day to see if he’d got back [laughs] but we want on the phone at home we used to have to go round onto the main road and find a phone box [laughs].
AH: What was it like hearing them go over was it frightening or was it?
PB: Oh yes ‘cos we used to think well they’ve gone are they going to come back that’s it I can always remember we used to go out of the house and stand in the back yard and see all these planes go over and they seemed to be so low you know they didn’t seem to be high up you know you could sort of see them so plain it was queer really want it.
EB: They used to land a lot of stuff in didn’t they they used to land a lot of.
PB: Oh yes.
EB: They used to land a lot the
PB: Oh yes.
EB: The smaller things not the big fish the little fish didn’t they.
PB: Are you talking about the fisherman.
EB: Yes altogether though weren’t there.
PB: Oh yes Boston yes the fisherman used to be there the same then oh yes you used to go on a Friday and get a big bag of prawns for sixpence [laughs].
AH: What was it like when it when the war started and suddenly all these planes came and?
PB: Well you see when I when the war started I was at school and we used to well when where we lived was in Frampton Place and I used to go to school at Sandland School and it was er we used to have a gas mask you see a little boxes with a gas mask on and we used to walk to the school with the box on and we often used to have air raid practices about every other raid used to go out and one thing and another and er it was funny really want it?
EB: Oh yeah.
PB: I mean you always used to be together you know you’d never sort of be on your own I mean there was a big family of us though there was six seven of us six girls and one boy and then there’s mum and dad you see and er all the neighbours knew everybody else didn’t they?
EB: Oh yeah yeah.
PB: But er yeah yeah there were a lot of nice people in Boston in our time want there?
EB: Mmm, different now in’t it.
PB: Different now yes it is.
AH: I’m just going to put it on pause while I look at the paper.
PB: Pardon, the air force ‘cos you brought me that bag and those oranges straight off the trees.
EB: No Italy.
PB: Italy that yes.
EB: Nice there.
PB: ‘Cos you did some trips would you fetch them home?
EB: Yes the idea was that everybody would get the lads home but it didn’t work it didn’t work like that but er a lot of them we couldn’t find anybody there it was all afternoons in Italy we didn’t go far er but er we didn’t get home we did about four of those trips they were handy for us ‘cos you could buy bits and bobs.
PB: Well it was a rest it was a change want it for you to do that.
EB: Oh yeah yeah.
AH: When was that do you know?
EB: Oh soon after the war finished the idea was to get them back and
PB: Was it soon after the war?
EB: Mmm.
PB: Just at the beginning?
EB: Yeah no there didn’t have that many we were talking about the war of course.
PB: Yes,
EB: I mean and that was war and we weren’t we were getting to there to get and bring it home so we so they must have been poor [unclear].
PB: [Unclear]
EB: They were not very keen of doing anything they were idle ‘cos I don’t remember seeing us [unclear] from there but we did bring them home and that was it nice.
PB: ‘Cos you brought me that basket back didn’t you?
EB: Yeah.
PB: And that leather handbag and you always used to bring some nice oranges want there and that was a treat then to get nice oranges from Italy want it?
EB: Yeah.
AH: So did you fly did you stay out there?
EB: No no only well you you [unclear] lots of people for people going back home so we had to wait for them to go and then it was out turn sort of thing so we didn’t go in a hurry but it was nice you could look at all the stuff that was there it was very nice er there was no war by the look of it we never I don’t think we had a war and I did that.
PB: Do you want a drink or anything?
AH: Could I have a small water please, thank you. Did you speak to the Italians when you were out there?
PB: Did you speak what?
AH: Did he speak to the Italians?
PB: Did you speak to the Italians I don’t think you did did you?
EB: I don’t think so now but er we were so wrapped up in taking [unclear background noise] ‘cos I mean it was nice but it was a shame to do any damage really.
PB: I’ll have to make myself a drink. [Pause while making a drink]. Do you want me to make you a drink?
EB: Aye [kettle boiling in background] I think the eldest was about well in the forties er the third one he was quite well liked [unclear] beyond us all yet he married a girl in [unclear] and went to Australia and the other one there was one there he had a wonder job again it was in the heat and the only one was he was used to doing things like flying to Australia he did and er and then there was the pilot of course he killed himself eventually in his car, he er [unclear] he went home back to help his father in the business which he did and er two or three years later phone rang [unclear] and a girl not a girl anyway we stopped and he said ‘oh I’ve got something to tell you’ I said ‘what’s that?’ he said ‘[unclear] oh I said ‘that’s all right then’ you know he didn’t like it but he would do it and er after two years later one of the colleagues I was working with er came to me and he I was on my way home and he knew me and he said ‘do you know a man who went to Australia with you’ I said ‘oh yes I write to him but I haven’t seen him lately’ he said ‘oh you won’t he’s dead’ that was the father that was the son of the father and er he’s gone too fast and that was the end of the car.
AH: And then you went to Givenea[?] ?
EB: Mmm Givenea [?]yes
AH: I don’t know how to pronounce it? Do you remember that?
EB: I remember part of it yes but er I don’t remember going there, when that fourth down
AH: Yes
EB: Two or three times open the door and that was [unclear] another one mmm tells you the hours spent there we weren’t very long there oh we got recalled look.
AH: Oh yes.
EB: We had to go back one here for nine hours that was mine laying.
AH: Was there a big difference between being a pathfinder and mine laying?
EB: Er yes because we did everything for their benefit you know wasn’t case of going together it was our job to go out do this do that and bring it back again so they so that was the that was the er that what it was all about before we started that you used to have odd cars [unclear] and what we are going to do and then they brought out this and er they also brought out what was the [unclear] it was hell of a way different.
AH: You flew to Kattegat?
EB: Yes
AH: German cruises?
EB: Yes Urst Dam, Leipburgen [?], Dusseldorf that was a reasonable place.
AH: That was a big raid?
EB: Mmm it mean’t going a long way ten hours look you see that’s what it took us.
AH: Oh Trantaine[?] submarine pens.
EB: Mmm.
AH: Do you remember that?
EB: No I don’t any of those nine hours Germany, German Navy there having a good game there.
AH: Oh you got hit by a shell?
EB: Yeah yeah now this could be the I remember we were hit with something er it was a shell want it.
AH: And your wing caught fire?
EB: Mmm.
PB: Yes that’s right.
EB: Yes that was when we were coming out of target and er the fire was on the it was on then er [unclear] that way I suppose.
AH: At Germany Giessen.
PB: Germany.
EB: Course some of these days it was all Germany [laughs].
AH: Was that frightening when you got hit?
EB: Yeah I was with one night one had hit me and er why we went out we’ll never know [laughs] it shouldn’t have gone out it was luck.
AH: But the fire went out?
EB: Yep.
AH: And you went home to your normal base?
EB: Yeah yeah well the odd times you would go to some er to south of London actually only if there was a fire or anything we generally we got home as and when we wanted to but we did have we did have means of doing it if you couldn’t get the other way and we used to have these places just one lot of aerodromes and things and you used to go down onto these we managed to get down there.
AH: Did you that?
EB: Odd times just odd times and I remember one night we er we were far from landing er we stuck out in Scotland out in fog so we came out in this hotel posh hotel and er these seven people fed us all and that was very nice of them and then fog went dash home start again next week used to set about twelve or fourteen aeroplanes at a time in one lot mmm.
AH: Is there anything else you can think of?
EB: I was just thinking I can’t let’s right we did I remember we had one er there was six men going to Italy er and when I say six one there was another one but he was [laughs] funny crew and while he ever got on it I’ll never know and he got out to Italy and he got shot down coming home and they were all they were all er [unclear] did business apart from this fool who we had he had hair down here somewhere.
AH: How come he got shot down wasn’t the war over?
EB: Well they used to follow you but er they the Germans used to hide away and of course they’d been in and out to get the right place and er that was it and there was hell of a lot shot down normally but er it wasn’t too bad in Italy they didn’t try too much there but er Germans were just terrible. That’s the medal but they wanted a special thing so I could put all the er things there Canwick Hill at Lincoln.
AH: At the memorial?
EB: Yeah there’s another one now.
PB: That’s the same one in’t it.
EB: Similar no it’s not I er I haven’t got that one but er they built them there was no end [unclear] South of Lincoln wasn’t it?
PB: Yeah but then but wasn’t it London as well Sandra took those photographs for you, London?
EB: Yes.
PB: What was that there?
EB: You catch the odd one.
PB: Well they’ve built that now haven’t they?
AH: I think so I haven’t seen it.
EB: Want the money expensive.
AH: How do you feel about the Memorial?
EB: That’d be the one wouldn’t it.
PB: This is the one that they are building now Eric they want some more money for it.
EB: Yes.
AH: Are you pleased they built it?
EB: To me it seems an awful lot you know [telephone ringing] seems a lot of money.


Anna Hoyles, “Interview with Eric Brown,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 20, 2024,

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