Interview with Bill Gray

Title

Interview with Bill Gray

Description

Bill Gray was born and grew up in Australia and volunteered for the Air Force. After training, he flew 29 operations as an air gunner with 15 squadron from RAF Mildenhall. He returned to Australia after the war but contracted tuberculosis. He was hospitalised for six years, during that time he studied as an accountant, and met and married Molly who had nursed him at the hospital. After recovering he opened his own accountancy practice which he ran until his retirement.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2017-03-01

Contributor

Jackie Simpson

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

02:06:45 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AGrayLW170301

Conforms To

Transcription

LWG: Anyway look I’m in a mess because my wife just recently died and that leaves one in one hell of a mess of course and I haven’t been able to redress the place as it is, so excuse that.
RG: Right.
LWG: Tell me then, I want to know, why I’m little confused is that my eldest brother’s eldest son is Robert Gray.
RG: Oh truly.
LWG: And when you ring I thought he was the one that had been addressing me if I seemed a bit offhand because I thought he was having a shot at me. [laughs]
RG: Okay, no you didn’t, I didn’t take that wat at all. Yeah actually I am sorry with the name and the spot I would be [unclear] as well the correct way both of us, so yeah okay, okay I see that point.
LWG: You don’t look anything like him I can tell you —
RG: He’s a very lucky man, a very lucky man. [laughs]
Other: I’ve just got some kind of admin type stuff to do to start. What year were you born Bill?
LWG: Tell me before we start that I’d be intrigued to know how you got on to me.
RG: Okay what it is we it’s the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln there setting up an archive —
LWG: In England?
RG: Yeah, yeah in Lincoln.
LD: It’s the University of Lincoln.
RG: That’s running it.
LWG: Right.
RG: So what they’re doing is there putting up a, Lucy’s actually got a there’s a sheet there that tells you a bit about it, but basically it’s a museum archive for Bomber Command, so there collecting right across the world interviews with people like yourself, veterans, just to capture the stories, capture the whole story as much as we can before it’s all too late. Now how they got on to you was we are directed by a woman in Sydney, Annette Gitteritz [?], she was told about you by someone else here in The Grange, I don’t know who that was she just said somebody else here in The Grange mentioned to her that you were a Bomber Command veteran and that’s how she got on to you and she got your details, that’s the best I know Bill. We just get our records would you go talk to this person.
LWG: Well, I’ve had a busy morning already, the postie came and gave me that —
RG: It’s one of those awards yes.
LD: Oh it’s another one?
LWG: Well I, I haven’t got every, all my so called medals and so on, one reason they contacted me and said, ‘Oh well we’ll try and rouse that for you.’ And that arrived only by the post this morning.
RG: Oh okay.
LWG: So I haven’t opened it yet.
LD: Just to interrupt can you just do the intro on the —
RG: Yeah I just need to do an intro for the recording Bill. This is a recording with Bill Gray in his at his home in Deakin, ACT, on 1st March, 2017, interviewers are Lucy Davison and Rob Gray.
LD: The name’s William Lloyd Gray.
RG: Lloyd William. Sorry his full name is Lloyd William Gray.
LD: Okay. All right I just need to do some a bit of an admin here. Where were you based Bill?
LWG: I was in 3 Group and that was at Mildenhall.
LD: Mildenhall yeah, no worries.
LWG: Think that’s Suffolk isn’t it?
RG: Somewhere in that area.
LD: And did you only fly Lancasters?
LWG: Oh in operations yes.
LD: Yes, yes, no worries. Okay do you have a pen Rob?
LWG: No you’d only fly those things one at a time. [laughs]
LD: Now do you —
LWG: Plus I was a flight commander, a flight commander of 15 Squadron, RAF.
LD: Okay, so I can fill in all that. Are you okay that your name is associated with the record or do you want to remain anonymous?
LWG: Oh I’ve got nothing to hide.
LD: That’s good no worries.
LWG: Depends on what you’re going to do with it or use it for.
LD: So you’re Lloyd William Gray.
LWG: Lloyd [spells it out] I was told by my folks that I was called that because of Lloyd George.
RG: Oh yes.
LWG: Thank God they didn’t put the George in.
RG: Yes. [laughs]
LWG: I’ve never used Lloyd don’t like it.
LD: Can you just sign this one.
LWG: Well what I am signing?
LD: You’re just saying that Lincoln University can use the audio record that we have here.
RG: For research purposes.
LWG: Just there?
LD: Yes. Thank you.
LWG: That’ll do.
LD: Okay, not a problem.
LWG: I was born in 1923 which makes me too old for these things now I would have thought.
LD: The only other thing is if you have any documents that you want to donate to the university, do you have any documents or anything that you want to donate to the university?
LWG: Oh I’ve actually got my log book there what did I do with it?
LD: Just if there are there’s another form to sign to you know say ‘cos we would just take copies of them and there’s another form to sign but we can sort that one out later, yeah we can sort that one out later, no worries. All right. So I read up on you a bit —
LWG: Anyway where’s, where’s my log book that’s interesting I went and got it a minute ago and I put it down somewhere and I’m probably sitting on it. [laughs] Probably put it down when you rang the bell there it’ll come up, it’s easily identified, here we are that’s it.
RG: Yeah that is it yes.
LD: That’s not like other log books.
RG: No it’s different it’s a pilot’s log book we haven’t seen a pilot’s one before. All the people we’ve interviewed with one exception have all been navigators.
LWG: Navigators?
RG: Yes for some reason we’ve only interviewed one other pilot and he didn’t have his log book he’d already donated it.
LD: Oh.
LWG: When we get right into this I’ll tell you about my navigators I had three in all.
LD: Sorry.
LWG: Not at the same time though.
LD: Can I jump in again Rob please. So are you okay for us to take photographs of your log book and send to the university?
LWG: Well probably as we go along let me sort all that out.
LD: Yeah no worries.
LWG: I am surprised that you contacted me anyway and I must confess I was dreading it very likely because I thought about my brother’s son [laughs] I thought it was [unclear] taking the mickey. [laughs].
LD: No, no not your brother’s son.
RG: With the name thing you said you never liked Lloyd for Lloyd George, well so my father’s family emigrated to Australia in 1925 they came in on a ship called “The Barradine” and dad was almost born at sea and they were gonna name him Barradine that would have been the worst thing possible I would think. [laughs].
LD: Anyway if we can get, we’ll sort out all the other stuff afterwards, but like I said I, I read up on you a bit and you’re really a local boy aren’t you from what I read you were born in Goulburn and grew up in Queanbeyan is that right?
LWG: Yes that’s true, if you go back far enough, I’ve had a very complicated life really and I suppose if you want to know it all of course it’ll come out anyway not that it’s anything to be ashamed of. My dad was a policeman and I was born in Goulburn because there was no hospital, you could be born in Australia in 1923 closer than my grand my mother’s mother and father lived in Goulburn so they took me over to Goulburn to live.
LD: Oh so your parents were actually living in Queanbeyan?
LWG: No, oh no, in those days I’ll tell you where, I was born and my dad was then, I told you he was a policeman, that’s where you stay and move on as you get promoted and so on. I was born when they were at a place called Daysdale you would have never have heard of that it’s near Corowa, that’s New South Wales. And from them he went to, er, now let me think where did we go to Leyton, from Daysdale to Leeton to Jellico [?] which is south of there as well, Jellico [?] to Culcairn, Culcairn we went then from Culcairn to Crookwell, Crookwell to Kuma, Kuma[?] to Queanbeyan, and there I finished my schooling by riding a bike from the police station in Queanbeyan to Civey [?] every day. And got the leaving certificate.
LD: That’s a good long ride every morning.
LWG: It used to take us thirty five minutes and we’d be hanging on behind a bus [laughs] or a truck used to sit on. Do you know Queanbeyan?
LD: Yes.
LWG: Do you know where you cross the road there’s a bridge, a bridge side and so on we used to hang on there because there’s a downhill.
LD: Yes.
RG: Yes.
LWG: So that means if you took off from there you got your speed up quickly on your bike.
RG: Indeed.
LWG: And then we used to sit on sit on in behind Quadlings bike, you ever head of Quadlings?
RG: No, no.
LWG: Well they owned it, anyway he used to hate us doing that he used to look in his rear vision mirror. We went to school the four of us, two in, I had a great mate called Freddie Greentree, I don’t know whether you know Greentree’s Café, Queanbeyan?
RG: No.
LD: Mmm, a long time ago aye.
LWG: Oh yes everything’s a long time ago now.
LD: Yes.
LWG: We used to sit up the top there and as the bus came down, down, going downhill we’d peddle like mad get behind the bus and you’d catch your wheel right up the back you know and then means you’re in the draw of the bus —
RG: Yep you’re in the slipstream.
LWG: And of course eventually the ultimate did happen it wasn’t me, but Freddie hit the back and it threw him off and broke his leg and things such as that. There’s so much that you know you, I can talk about which goes through my mind which will be useless in a sense although that presents you the sort of person to you.
LD: Well that’s exactly it and this background kind of really is important because it shows the kind of you know the, it’s shows the people who are behind all this you know, you’re not just a pilot there’s a person behind this and you know and it’s important I think. Anyway what kind of work did you do, did you work before you joined the Air Force or did you join directly from school?
LWG: Er, well I suppose waiting for, well work I suppose, ‘cos then war had started then, and my brother was, I was born into a wonderful family in actual fact. My eldest brother was R. R. Gray and I don’t know whether you remember the name if you ever got a refund from the tax department it would have been signed by R. R. Gray.
RG: Okay.
LWG: I don’t suppose it rings a bill, but anyway Ron he became a deputy commissioner of in Sydney, but he was in records section in the tax department so as I came up to the end of the schooling of course he got me in at the tax department.
RG: Oh okay.
LWG: So I joined that and I was working there for oh how long was I there? Six months or something like that.
RG: Was it in Canberra or in Sydney?
LWG: Here.
RG: In Canberra here.
LWG: I was a despatch clerk and that meant I licked the stamps [laughs], and I used to get have them [unclear] was always bleeding [laughs] and mother used to go [unclear]
LD: They didn’t get you a little sponge? [laughs]
LWG: Well they did and I thought that’s ridiculous because that have you ever tasted the sponge when you, you know you’ve got a sheet of stamps, you’re not sending one letter out you’re sending out so they [unclear] got their share of it. [laughs] So I was there for about six months when I and next big thing that happened is I turned eighteen, ‘cos I wanted, I always wanted to fly aeroplanes of course. And when I was eighteen I got my dad to walk me down to the oh the town clerk in town in Queanbeyan and joined up there and they, I had a, eventually had a medical, a big medical down in Sydney, Palmer and Pluckett Streets [?] you’re making me think way back a long time now of course, but if you want to get a format of what I’m about you probably need to know these things.
RG: It helps, it all adds up.
LWG: And I passed the test there, that was one hell of a test incidentally. Always tell the story about the way they tested you Palmer and Pluckett Streets down in Woolamaloo, if you know Woolamaloo?
RG: I do I was in the Navy I was a guard and I —
LWG: Were you? Good.
RG: So I know Woolamaloo well.
LWG: What were you doing in?
RG: I was in weapons electronics.
LWG: Ah.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: Did you have an association with Harmon?
RG: No, never got posted to Harmon no, no, no, never got posted to either of those.
LWG: They put Harmon in whilst I was, we were in Queanbeyan incidentally.
RG: Ah it would have done ‘cos it was during the war wasn’t it, the early stages of the war yeah that’s right.
LWG: We used to have a lot of sailors coming in —
RG: Villconnan Transmitting Station [?] as well —
LWG: Villconnan was receiving, I’ve forgotten which one was receiving —
RG: Bombshore was receiving I think that was transmitting Villconnan yeah, yeah.
LWG: So.
RG: So medical was seemed a bit rigorous —
LWG: They did it down at Plank Street in Sydney, I remember I was there all day walking around with underpants, I can’t remember whether we did, I didn’t think we had underpants in those days [laughs] all day.
RG: You said the hearing the test, you said the way they tested the hearing —
LWG: Oh yeah that was, that was corny, I even laughed because everything was very serious you know, they put you in a, open a door and I stood there as everyone else was ‘cos there was a queue and there was a bloke standing at the far end of that room with the door, the window open and all the noise was coming from Woolamaloo, Woolamaloo then was a busy place is still is.
RG: Yeah absolutely.
LWG: It was busy because not because of trucks it was busy because of horses drawing the feed.
RG: Ah.
LD: Ah, ah.
RG: Yep.
LWG: And there was a lot of noise you know cracking of whips and all sorts, so it was unbelievable hearing test and the bloke at the window would say twenty-two [whisper] he’d whisper it, [laughs], and I would say twenty-two. [laughs]
RG: Very scientific. [laughs]
LWG: I remember on one occasion I should have [unclear] and he said, ‘Speak up I can’t hear you.’ [Raucous laughter]
LD: Funny.
LWG: It’s funny that, that I did a lot during the war but I’ve lived with it ever since incidentally you never got away from it because every time I put my head on pillow I’m thinking about the war or part some part of it ‘cos I was always in it, and a bit unusual as well because I turned eighteen and immediately I was called up into the Army.
RG: Right okay.
LWG: Because when I joined up with the, they accepted me into the Air Force incidentally except there was a ten months waiting list and did the whole thing but in the course of that they called me into the Army and I ended up being the defenders of Sydney ‘cos I was up on North Head.
RG: What unit were you with, sort of militia unit or?
LWG: 110th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.
RG: Right okay.
LD: I’m sorry but just for the tape for the future they had conscription in Australia then?
LWG: Yes, yes.
LD: Just to be clear for the record that’s all.
RG: Yeah, yeah. So sorry North Head did you say?
LWG: North Head. Actually I had to be trained of course and so on.
RG: What were you doing in the battery?
LWG: Gunner—
RG: [unclear] or something.
LWG: Now actually it suited me because it was to do with the air because it was a Bofors Gun, do you know what a Bofors Gun is?
RG: Yes yeah, we had a lot of those on the ships, same guns hardly changed still using them into the ‘80’s yeah.
LWG: Well I went this 110th Light Anti-Aircraft tour of duties, and they took me first in the Army, took me first to the showground where I got my Army hat and uniform which is a story in itself, to get the uniform they used to, they had a big long counter and there were blokes there serving, serving you with your uniform and they didn’t come up to the measuring tape or something, he’d say, ‘Oh he’s a thirty-six’ or whatever.’ I remember I the first weekend after getting my uniform they gave us that weekend off and thought that was strange wasn’t it gave you a weekend’s leave which means I came back to Queanbeyan changed trains at Goulburn and we got here late, well early in the morning, my folks were still in bed and I used to creep in, did this a number of times. So on this occasion creeped in and knocked on the door and folks were still in bed, I walked in and my mother looked at me and she cried and she said, ‘What have they done to you?’ ‘Cos I could walk with the uniform they gave me and I put it on I could walk in that take three steps before it moved, before it started moving. [laughter] Sounds stupid but it was a fact.
RG: Oh yeah, yeah.
LWG: And of course she spent the whole weekend, which is of course why they gave us leave, she spent the weekend with the sewing machine sewing the uniform. [laughs] Unbelievable.
RG: So where did you go for your training with the Army, you were kitted out at the showground?
LWG: There was, you know where the racecourse is?
RG: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: Well next to that was another racecourse do you know what that was?
RG: No.
LWG: Kensington.
RG: Ah.
LWG: Kensington Racecourse and they’d taken that over by the Army so they took us to Kensington Racecourse where this regiment was. I was a gunner I wasn’t a private I was a gunner.
RG: A gunner yes artillery yeah.
LWG: [unclear] All that’s incidentally, I’m in a mess I understand that, most of that though is because, um, I don’t know how to take all this, if you want to, wanting I’ll be talk, telling, giving my story for the UA.
LD: Oh yes.
RG: Oh yes.
LWG: You know the UA? Military and they’d been interviewing me about that and I thought that’s how you came by —
RG: Ah it might have been actually, it might have been someone through UA yeah, yeah.
LWG: Could have been. Anyway they’ve been doing a lot of research on my history, anyway to quickly go over the top of it they trained us in, Percy Lamb, Percy was at school with me, he also did the riding to Cirry [?] and so on, and Freddie Greentree did, there was four of us used to do that, and he was called up the same time as I was and we both went into this Bofor Gun regiment, and ‘cos I’ve got to think back about all these things.
RG: So you did your initial training at with —
LWG: We went in mainly with a lot of old blokes and so on, some were young, and Freddie, and Freddie Greentree and myself stood out in one particular way we could read and write.
LD: Ah yes, yes.
LWG: Most old people couldn’t read and a lot of them anyway.
LD: Yes we’ve heard that before.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: Which is amazing isn’t it.
RG: It is actually.
LWG: Because of that he and I picked things up quickly, Freddie and I, and because we did and the Army we found was completely useless they were learning themselves ‘cos was early in the war, and Freddie and I eventually became, no not Freddie, Percy Lamb.
RG: Percy yeah.
LWG: Freddie Greentree, not Freddie Greentree, Percy Lamb, Percy and I. Percy and I became well we were best friends anyway, he was a bigger man Percy than I was I’ve always been a little squirt as they call it, and eventually we became bombardiers which is equivalent of corporal and we became instructors.
RG: ‘Cos how long would have you been in the Army by then for God’s sake not long?
LWG: Not very long no. I think I was only I can’t remember how long about six months I think.
RG: Oh wow.
LWG: And I’ve got a huge ringing in my ears ‘cos we ended up eventually in North Head, and you know what’s up in North Head?
RG: There’s a quarantine station.
LWG: Right on the head was a big coastal —
RG: Oh battery, coastal battery.
LWG: What was that —
RG: Nine point two inch I think they had.
LWG: Nine point something.
RG: Nine point two yeah, yeah, big, they were a bloody big gun those ones yeah.
LWG: Ah.
RG: I doubt they were naval guns.
LWG: And we didn’t know it in that we put in our Bofor Gun we established it there and put a bag —
RG: Sandbag.
LWG: Sandbag.
RG: Yep.
LWG: Protection around it filled it with the stuff which we were levelling the garden, the heads, and we built this high protection around it, now what was I gonna say about that?
RG: What, what your ears.
LWG: They had to shoot eventually, they shot, can’t remember if it was one or two, if you stand beside a big gun and they put a shell in it ‘cos you know how it’s done I suppose or may be longer and then they shoot it, we’d just finished building this wall around our Bofor Gun, knocking it down and putting it in place by bricks you know, and we’d worked pretty hard on that levelled it off and so on, and it shot once or twice I can’t remember, once or twice now, but you could watch the shell come out of the end of the big gun, oh it came up out of the ground it was on a lift and we didn’t know we had that, I didn’t know.
RG: Bit of a shock when it fired.
LWG: So we were there it just said that we were having a shoot today and the next thing you saw was this blasted big thing and they shot it and to my surprise we stood just beside it and, and to my surprise you could see the shell come out of the end of the bow and you could watch it all the way, and we could see them taking a tug boat —
RG: For the target.
LWG: The target, splashed in the water didn’t hit it, it was close but it hit the water, but this huge concussion.
RG: Concussion.
LWG: And both my ears are screaming now and can’t do anything about it.
RG: Didn’t put you out for aircrew service at all though?
LWG: I didn’t tell them about that.
RG: I thought that might have been the case. [laughs]
LWG: [unclear]
RG: Oh yeah they’d have knocked you back on that wouldn’t they. Did it ever cause you any problems with you know communication with the aircraft with the headsets?
LWG: Well I came through that.
LD: So once you left the Army ‘cos my little record says that basically you were discharged from the Army and you joined the Air Force the next day —
LWG: Well that’s the work we just waved goodbye they didn’t want us to go, and they promised us we’d become sergeants immediately [laughter] and they were going to send us to officers training.
RG: Oh okay.
LWG: That’s Percy and myself.
RG: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: ‘Cos we were —
RG: ‘Cos you were educated.
LWG: In actual fact we were a week there, in the [unclear] we couldn’t comprehend most other kids couldn’t read or write.
RG: Yeah we interviewed a bloke in Wogga [?] a couple of weeks ago and he said exactly the same thing that, that the guys he was in with in the Army most of them were illiterate yeah, yeah, he was in the Army first as well.
GWG: Illiterate sounds a bad word but it wasn’t their fault.
RG: No, no.
LWG: [unclear]
RG: Yes, yes, absolutely.
LD: So once you joined the Air Force did you, did you go to an ITS immediately, or did you have to wait for that to happen, or how did that work?
LWG: We were up in North Head protecting Sydney. [laughs]
LD: Trying to hit the targets pulled by tug boat.
LWG: Gosh I’ve gotta think back so far, ‘cos the Army was unbelievable —
LD: Doesn’t matter if you can’t remember.
LWG: Mmm?
LD: Doesn’t matter if you can’t remember it’s a long time ago.
LWG: Oh yeah but it was very interesting. I gave a list of towns where I’ve lived and at this stage, the first I’d been in the way of travel was the place which is five miles in distance and a million miles from Care [?], do you know where that is?
RG: No.
LWG: That’s Manley.
RG: Oh of course yes.
LD: Yes of course.
LWG: And we had gone, my family and I, had gone to Manley a number of times and so we knew about Manley, and so whilst I was up on the Head incidentally we went up there just at the time when the submarines came into.
RG: Yes, yes, yes.
LWG: Into Sydney Harbour, and so everyone was on edge then.
RG: Do you remember —
LWG: We had, we were a group that went was servicing that Bofor Gun of course but we only had one rifle amongst us and we only had one clip of bullets so you had to be precious with those.
RG: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: And I don’t know whether, I used to get as scared as hell so did the rest of us because North Head is populated by thousands probably of bandicoots and at night of course you’d be on duty minding the gun on your own and you’d hear this rustling and we were expecting the Japanese at this stage.
LD: Yes, well when you had the Japanese fleet of subs in the harbour, yeah.
LWG: And um,
RG: It’s probably lucky you only had five bullets or there’d been a lot of dead bandicoots. [laughs]
LWG: There certainly would have been, when you hear guns going off all night because —
RG: There’s all the shooting down in the harbour itself wasn’t there.
LWG: Well we know what was happening there it was all of us up there on North Head.
RG: Oh really okay yeah you’re centuries firing at —
LWG: Oh well yeah they get nervous.
RG: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
LWG: There was one bloke, we were in tents, there was one bloke there I can’t remember his name, late at night he’d all of sudden sit upright and scream his head off and that used to put you on edge. [laughs]
RG: So so when you say the Air Force came back and said we want you, so where did you do your initial Air Force training?
LWG: At Greatfield Park [?] we went in there.
RG: Oh yes yeah.
LWG: We went in there I think it was course thirty-two.
LD: That’s the same as Burt Adams.
RG: Yeah but,
LWG: Adam?
RG: Burt Adams, navigator, he’s the chap out at Wogga we interviewed a couple of weeks ago he was in thirty-two course as well.
LWG: Really.
RG: Yeah, yeah, pretty sure it was thirty-two.
LD: He said he started off in thirty-two until he became ill.
RG: He had a bad run he got appendicitis and got taken off the course and put on the next course and then and then he got put on the next one and you know yeah he had a bit of a rough trot on that.
LD: But he started on thirty-two course.
LWG: Ah. Well it’s interesting every time I went to a new place or moved on as we did I immediately joined forces with a special bloke and each time was fortunate enough to, to hook up as very close mates, we weren’t gay and all that sort of garbage, I don’t understand that.
RG: I think this happened in the services I did the same thing you’d join a new ship and you’d always be beaten and there’d be one bloke who’d was your special oppo and often he would be posted away to a different ships or whatever and you’d probably never see them again but you’d find someone else who’d be yeah.
LWG: We were all together for quite some time and he’s in the War Museum over here incidentally his story.
RG: Who’s that?
LWG: Colin Flockhart [?].
RG: Flossard?
LWG: Flockhart.
RG: Flockhart.
LWG: Colin Flockhart. His sister is a resident here.
RG: Oh okay.
LWG: Allison Aitken, she’s, she married —
LD: Is Colin still with us?
LWG: Colin no, he was killed, I think most of the blokes, my close friends were, would build up as we moved on of course we all went over you know that’ll come out in due course.
LD: So was Percy in the same, was he in 32 Course with you as well?
LWG: Yeah.
LD: Oh good.
LWG: But he did, he, we went to Bradfield Park, Bradfield Park was an ITS they called it an Initial Training School and you couldn’t I personally at school I did use to reasonably well at school I always had the ambition of being top of every class I always came second.
LD: That’s pretty good still.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: What was I gonna say then, ah, I hooked up with when I went to ITS, the first bloke I met was this Colin Flockhart, and we became great mates he was a wonderful fella and he would have been one of those blokes that was always coming first, [laughs], but he and I followed one another over to England sadly he was killed over, oh, it’s really is becoming dull this day. That’s my diary lets have that.
RG: Yeah sure.
LWG: This incidentally is a cover, we all bought one of those ‘cos there was one of the ground staff was making these.
RG: Oh.
LWG: She would walk around all these people who had got this book, we all bought one and it’s done its work ‘cos it protected the book.
RG: Yeah, yeah, [unclear] was sitting there —
LWG: Now what was I going to tell you, what was I —
LD: You were saying —
LWG: Oh this has got a list of everything you need to know here, what I flew, where I was, that’s all the places I was at, and you can have a look at that if you like.
RG: Yes I will thank you.
LWG: ‘Cos I need glasses on.
RG: Yeah.
LD: Bill did you do any of your training overseas, you know some people were sent to places like Canada and Rhodesia and stuff to do their training?
LWG: No, let’s catch up, we did split in this course, some went elsewhere and so on, but that’ll tell you where I went. The first place was —
RG: Temora [?].
LD: Temora [?].
LWG: Yeah once we got out of ITS that was Bradfield Park we went to Temora [?], [unclear] that was —
LD: Yeah but, yeah there’s a —
LWG: That was Avro Ansoms.
LD: Yeah there’s a bunker there still a communications bunker, a World War Two communications bunker there still.
LWG: I wouldn’t be surprised.
LD: That place on the coast yeah.
RG: South Australia?
LD: Oh no I’m not.
LWG: That’s South Australia.
RG: You’re thinking of someplace else.
LD: Maraputa [?].
RG: Maraputa [?] you’re thinking of.
LD: Yeah sorry.
LWG: I got my wings in Mallala [?] went to Temora first after Bradfield Park, then went to Temora.
RG: Was Temora was for single engine flying or and then multi engine at Mallala?
LWG: No that, they were Tiger Moths.
RG: So single engine.
LWG: Yeah single engine.
RG: Yeah, Temora, so Mallala that —
LWG: Mallala was Avro Ansoms, we were going, we all wanted to fly Spitfires.
RG: Of course yeah.
LD: They had other uses for those Spitfires —
LWG: But in actual fact one would discover when you got to England wasn’t the Spitfire that won the war it was the Hurricane.
RG: The Hurricane yeah, yeah.
LWG: Hurricane was much more adaptable.
RG: Spitfires had the glory though didn’t they?
LWG: Oh god yeah they had a new one out every couple of weeks and so on.
RG: A good looking aircraft.
LWG: Mmm?
RG: A good looking aircraft.
LWG: Oh yes, well they won that race.
RG: Yeah they did, yeah.
LWG: England to Australia, fascinating.
LD: Bill did you have any trouble qualifying as a pilot did you pass everything easily and you said you always liked to try to come first?
LWG: Not easy no, this was something new, it was, I’d only been, I always wanted to be I tell you what I always wanted to be I wanted to be when I was early life I wanted to be firstly I wanted to be a lion tamer.
LD: Of course. [laughs]
LWG: Lion tamer where did I go from there, [laughs].
LD: A lion tamer to flying a Lancaster it’s a bit of a leap isn’t it?
LWG: Actually I learnt a lot lion taming it was good, I had an, we had an Alsatian dog we used to put him on the, on a chain and put the chain on the clothes line and he would chase up and down, used to make a hell of a lot of noise.
LD: Oh yes, yes, yes.
LWG: But he was a lovely dog and I used to tame him I used to crack I had a whip, crack it and he’d look at me with [unclear] but anyway I wanted to be a lion tamer, but then I always wanted to be a pilot wanted to fly used to read books [unclear] have you ever heard of that.
LD: No.
LWG: So I always wanted to be a pilot.
LD: Well that’s good that you were then.
LWG: And the first flight I had we were at Crookwell, I think it was Crookwell, and someone came in with a DH type of aircraft and [unclear] well the pilot came in, came in and was talking my dad he wanted to take people for joy rides but dad being the policeman there he had to give his permission and he, the pilot was pulling out his [unclear] I’d like to had a trip and the pilot there was talking to my father used me as the lever [laughs] so eventually —
RG: How old were you then do you reckon?
LWG: Six or something like that, it was a De Havilland landed about three miles out of Crookwell and he agreed to take my mother, and my brother I think Ron, anyway I think four of us went up in this aircraft we got into a bit of a cabin it had a hole in the back I remember through that I could see the pilot I didn’t see much of the ground ‘cos I was watching him I remember, but anyway that was my first trip in an aeroplane thought it was wonderful. Then I used to build up, my big job in the home was cutting the wood and in those days you didn’t cut, you didn’t get a little box and I used to position them so as I could sit in the middle of them, that had wings on so on and I used to fly that. [laughs]
LD: The dog may have been quite relieved about this change in vocation I think?
LWG: Who’s that?
LD: The dog he may have been a bit relieved about the change in vocation.
LWG: Oh it was a lovely dog.
RG: So just going back to the training, so Temora first, then Mallala —
LWG: Mallala we got our wings at Mallala.
RG: And that was Ansoms yes?
LWG: Avro Ansoms yeah. Do you remember you won’t remember any of this, during whilst we were there or it was just before we got to Mallala, a bloke was I don’t know whether it was a Mallala either, but he was in an Ansom and another aeroplane landed on top of him.
RG: That was at Wogga or here in [unclear].
LWG: Yes it was here —
RG: Funny the top one the crew on the bottom were killed —
LWG: A photograph —
RG: And the top guy —
LWG: He landed them both together —
RG: But he had the engines on the bottom one ‘cos his engines stopped and he used his control surfaces and they gave him his wings and they damn well should have. [laughs]
LD: I’ve seen a photograph of that it’s just unbelievable.
RG: I think it was Wogga or here in Quinty.
LWG: Here in Quinty it was singles.
RG: Ah it must have been Wogga then or may be Temora. So that was the end of your flying training?
LWG: Oh no, gosh no.
RG: In Australia I mean.
LWG: That’s getting your wings, we got our wings of Mallala and I’ve got photo of that there was about sixty of us came out on this Course 32 and you had, I don’t know but I don’t remember how many hours we’d had when we got our wings and then they brought us back to Sydney or took us or sent us home and then took us to Bradfield Park again. Bradfield Park, we weren’t there very long but then they took us down to the harbour put us on the “Mount Vernon” [?] I think it was the name of the ship.
RG: Yes, yes, “Mount Vernon”.
LWG: That’ll tell you because it’s got a better memory than I have, that left we didn’t know where we were going, they told us we were going, of course all this was happening at the time the Japanese were —
RG: Yeah ‘cos this was the —
LWG: It was twelfth —
RG: 12th August ’43, even had U-boats down here at that point.
LWG: Oh yeah. They bunged us into this “Mount Vernon” used to be called the “Old Washington” it was an American ship and you always know when you are in, in with the Yanks, they used to have one thing they always be doing and say over the tanoy, ‘Now here this.’
RG: Yeah, they still do it. [laughs]
LWG: Do they.
RG: They still do it, they do though yeah.
LWG: This is Jo. Come in Jo.
Jo: Oh hello you’re busy I’ll come back later.
LWG: Alright I shall see you a little later on, okay sweetheart, thanks. She’s upstairs lovely girl yeah, she become, she was great friend of my wife’s.
LD: Ah that’s good.
RG: So “Mount Vernon” where did you go?
LWG: Ah “Mount Vernon”, they put us in the “Mount Vernon” we thought we were going to go north but instead of turning left they turned right, and we were on for a fortnight roughly I think —
RG: Ah yeah exactly fourteen days.
LWG: Took us over to San Francisco.
LD: So did you go via New Zealand?
LWG: Ah in that direction but no we didn’t stop.
LD: Okay, so you stopped, so you —
LWG: Went direct to America yeah.
LD: Okay, and, and you —
LWG: And they took us from the boat.
LD: San Francisco.
LWG: We passed out of [unclear] watch him — [laughs]
LD: He couldn’t swim over.
RG: I couldn’t swim anyway [laughs], I never even passed my swimming test in the Navy believe it or not but I still got to warrant officer anyway.
LWG: They put us on to a, on to a train at San Francisco we were on that for how long?
RG: Four days.
LWG: Four or five days.
RG: Yes.
LWG: Took us across America.
LD: These the Pullman carriages.
LWG: Yeah, Negro, there was one Negro waiter on each carriage. We were always we couldn’t understand how they used to treat the Negros, I couldn’t understand the Negros that they formed big battalions out here there were lots of them, you’d think that the way they used to treat them they wouldn’t force them to become soldiers.
RG: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: Anyway they took us we went as far as Massachusetts, I think it was Massachusetts this Camp Miles Standish [?]
LD: Ah that’s where Ken went.
LWG: That was an embarkation place not far from Boston and we were there for some time. Ah —
LD: Was it in the winter when you were there?
LWG: We were only there for —
RG: No it’s summer, summer, August.
LWG: Summer.
RG: Actually you were there for a while you were there for —
LWG: I was there for six weeks.
RG: Yeah, yeah, you left on October more ten weeks or so.
LWG: Colin Flockhart, who was my great friend we were together all this time of course, and we parted there because we were supposed to be there for ten days I think and eventually we were there for —
RG: It was about ten weeks.
LWG: Ten weeks.
RG: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: ‘Cos every time they were going to move the next day some of them would come up with an injection they gave us to test us, we had, one of the blokes got scarlet fever so we all had to be tested.
RG: Yeah.
LD: Yes ‘cos it’s so contagious.
LWG: I was a positive which meant that I had come in contact with it apparently this is what they told us. Colin Flockhart hadn’t he didn’t get the red dot.
RG: So he got moved out first.
LWG: So he went out first, he, he came over on the “Aquitania” I think it was.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: But we went down eventually they put us on to, went into this room in trucks, huge room, big pavilion and had doors on it and I didn’t catch on at the time, none of us did didn’t know where the hell we were they didn’t tell us, but it proved to be the side of the “Queen Mary”.
RG: Ah.
LD: Ah.
LWG: It was against the wharf and all the blokes were [unclear] and there were, I don’t know how many there were of us about a hundred I suppose, but there was sixteen thousand Yanks going on there as well.
RG: A huge number of troops.
LWG: And all the activity was there and they put us in this room and when we got in there I thought it was a big building I’d gone into it proved to be this ship.
RG: “The Queen Mary”.
LWG: They put us somewhere downstairs wherever it was and it sailed out, we passed the Statue of Liberty and so on, didn’t tell us where we going all that sort of thing.
RG: Did you sail in convoy or unescorted?
LWG: We were going in convoy.
RG: Right okay.
LWG: But the convoys speed was four knots that was open to U-boats and so on so as soon as we got passed the Statue of Liberty I remember “Queen Mary” we took off.
RG: Yeah she did thirty odd knots.
LWG: Yeah, altogether different.
RG: Did they, ‘cos we had Lucy’s uncle was a tail gunner who was killed and but he went over on the “Queen Mary” was the “Queen Mary” wasn’t it?
LD: “Elizabeth”
RG: “Elizabeth” but they used them as anti-submarine lookouts, did they do that with you guys at all?
LWG: [unclear]
RG: As anti-submarine lookouts they used them, they used the airmen as lookouts for periscopes and submarines and so forth.
LWG: Oh no.
RG: No they didn’t do that with you guys.
LD: Was the ship very crowded?
LWG: Yeah there were sixteen thousand Yanks on it.
LD: Were you guys hot bunking?
LWG: Hot, hot —
LD: Hot bunking no.
LWG: What’s that?
LD: I have heard of you know basically that the ships were so crowded that at times you know basically people would leave the bunks somebody else just comes into it directly that there weren’t enough bunks for people to have separately.
LWG: Oh no, actually I think on the “Queen Mary” I think we, we laid down on the ground, we were down like the fourth, we were underneath the water level anyway. And they kept you busy by putting you in a queue, you had to queue, join the queue you’d find the end of the queue and you’d spend all day going around for your meals.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: It used to take that long. And we were on it for five days.
RG: It doesn’t say here actually how long you were on the “Queen Mary” but it would have been about four days or so, five days.
LWG: Yeah, we went to Liverpool I think.
LD: You arrived in Liverpool, and where, and before you actually sent to an ITU and everything where did you stay?
LWG: You should be able to tell me, we all went to the same place when we got to Liverpool —
LD: I’ve heard Brighton or Bournemouth.
LWG: They put us on a boat, a train and took us down to Brighton.
LD: You went to Brighton —
LWG: And Colin Flockhart was there, he had the bed next to him reserved. [laughs]
RG: They put you in one of those hotels in the seafront?
LWG: “The Grand Hotel” I started the other one was “The Metropole”.
RG: “Metropole” yeah.
LD: That’s where Ken stayed “The Metropole”.
LWG: I didn’t get “The Metropole” until later on I went into “The Grand”. And incidentally when we got our wings we all became sergeants except one he happened to be the, his name was Tom Hughes, he was the grandchild of, er —
RG: Not Billy Hughes?
LWG: The premier, the prime minster.
RG: Billy Hughes.
LD: No the present —
LWG: The prime minister, what’s his name?
RG: The president?
LWG: Yes the president.
RG: Oh, oh, oh Turnbull.
LWG: Turnbull yes.
RG: Ah this is Great Britain, oh okay.
LWG: You go back you find, and he incidentally he obviously came from a special family because he was the only one amongst us all —
RG: Who got a commission.
LWG: Got a commission. [laughs] And he never ate with us either what’s more he used to when we were being trained at Mallala, I remembered you’d see him occasionally during the course of the day but he didn’t chase the mice and so on like the rest of us did.
RG: So he just kept himself away.
LWG: He always stayed in a hotel.
LD: Oh.
LWG: And that’s not I’m up to belittling I wouldn’t have minded doing it myself.
RG: Oh no, but you know yeah.
LWG: But then he was favoured he came with us in the boat to, the boats as well, but he, he came on, he broke away from where I was he went over on the “Aquitania” sent to Britain, England.
RG: Then from Brighton you went on to somewhere in Wales, 29 AFTS, Griff Pidard?
LWG: Clyffe Pypard.
LD: So what OTU was that?
RG: That’s 29 AFTS.
LWG: Didn’t do anything, I remember I taxied a Tiger Moth somewhere, Colin Flockhart had to hang on to the wing if I remember, but we, we then had to be, things started to move of course and we had to wait for our opportunities, we had a lot to learn. We had to learn to fly but by the time I could fly a Tiger Moth before the Avro Ansom which was [unclear] they’d been civilian training if you like just to how to fly an aeroplane used to have to learn to fly a little bit more than what they taught.
RG: So at 29 AFTS did you, what did you fly there was it Oxfords?
LWG: I went on to, eventually I went on to oh what’s the name?
RG: Oxford?
LWG: Yeah, Morris Oxford, not a Morris Oxford.
LD: That’s a car. [laughs]
LWG: It’s got another name, something Oxford, the Oxford and it was a very nice aircraft and a little bit more elite than the Avro Ansom.
RG: Was it a twin engine?
LWG: Twin yeah,.
RG: Twin yeah.
LWG: Oh we were destined for bombers then, well we were when we finished at Mallala in actual fact, I don’t know of anyone who went on to Tigers.
RG: Coastal Command?
LWG: And I’m thinking about it these days I’m pleased they, that’s, that was playing with toys compared with what we were doing.
RG: Yeah, yeah absolutely. So was this the Oxford at, that was in Wales wasn’t it Clyffe Pypard?
LWG: Clyffe Pipard, er well it was all, I never actually knew I knew where the pubs were [laughs] I don’t well that’s about the only time we didn’t know anyone and you’re kept busy, the amazing thing is and they didn’t say this when I went to Bradfield Park, we, we had to do air frames and learn about aeroplanes and the air and wings and all that sort of thing, but god that was the best schooling you’ll ever get, they started, the first thing they did they got us all in we all had to write out our wills, because that’s was happening of course everyone, and all the blokes, Colin Flockhart, and all the others [unclear] and the fact that I wasn’t touch wood about that I suppose that’s plain fortunate.
RG: And then?
LWG: Anywhere where are we up to?
RG: Well that was 29 AFTS and then it says here you went back to Brighton for a while only about three weeks in Brighton, and then you went on to 23 AHU at Hednesford.
LWG: At where?
RG: Hednesford.
LWG: Hednesford. Oh we were, there we, there we split up, Colin Flockhart he went on and I had to wait, they took me and, this is all [unclear] Actually I’ve had someone else doing my story and I ought to just give you that because I did all the research for that, that’s the third eye that’s —
RG: Mmm. It would be good to get hold of that but —
LWG: Anyway —
RG: So AHU is it?
LWG: We went from the Oxford which was a nice aircraft to fly but it was still a training type of aircraft and then ah, then we went on to Wellingtons. Where we were when we got —
RG: It said here you went from to Brighton to Hednesford, Hednesford and then to Wheaton Aston 21 AFU.
LWG: What’s after that?
RG: And then after that is reserve flight at Purton, and then ATU, 30 ATU at Hixon.
LWG: It must have been Hixon where I, I think where I was when we got our crew.
LD: Yes I was wondering about that crewing up experience.
RG: You must have done that before you got on to the Wellingtons.
LWG: It’s all so long ago now.
LD: Excuse me Bill where’s the toilet?
LWG: Oh yes sorry, in there third door shut there that’s the toilet.
LD: Thank you.
LWG: Or if you’d rather be more further away from us you go into that bedroom down there, be right there I think. There’s a light switch on your left hand side.
LD: Thank you.
RG: So would have crewed up for the Wellington though wouldn’t you?
LWG: Yeah now, we’ve got to guess the stage how I got my crew was interesting, er, let’s have that.
RG: Yeah sure.
LWG: Get my glasses what did I do with them?
RG: I did see them actually, there we are.
LWG: I’ve got them there have I?
RG: Oh no there’s a pair there, there broken ones.
LWG: Well you can help me.
LD: How?
LWG: My glasses, there probably in the bathroom are they?
LD: Oh okay I’ll have a look.
LWG: What have I done with them probably in my darn pocket.
LD: Not in the bathroom.
LWG: Oh it’s all right.
RG: In your pocket? [laughs]
LWG: There’s the aircraft I flew.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: Oxfords, we went on to Wellingtons, then we were on to Lancs, then on the Lancaster Mark 2 that had radial engines, then eventually we ended up with that got on to the Mark 3, 4, 5 I think.
RG: They had the Merlins didn’t they?
LWG: And they were Merlins a lot of difference mainly because the 2 the Lanc 2 had the Hercules and that was radial so it was good next to the ground.
RG: But not high at altitude.
LWG: Not high.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: But the 2’s with the Merlin engines lovely aeroplane, it was a lovely aeroplane, but the Merlin was wonderful as well the Merlin.
RG: Your crew was it a mixed RAF, RAAF, RCAF?
LWG: Yeah.
RG: Did you have one crew all the way through Bill or did it, did you?
LWG: Am not sure about that mainly the navigator was, I got my first navigator and towards [unclear] We all got to, no it must have been, confused where was I when we got our?
RG: It doesn’t matter Bill when you got the crew it will be in here anyway.
LWG: Give me my thoughts though, slow down.
RG: Do you want that open page again with the —
LWG: I’d be lost without this thing. Should have done my own research shouldn’t I?
RG: Ah. [looking through book]
LWG: Ah 30 ATU Hixon we were Staffordshire, and I started off with one, two, three, four, five crew.
RG: That’s a crew for a Wellington isn’t it five?
LWG: Yeah we were at Hixon and they, I’ve forgotten how many there were of us I think there might have been twelve, twelve pilots, twelve navigators and so on, and put us all in a room together ridiculous, and said [unclear]. Met another great mate his name was a nickname of course his name was Danny because his name was Daniel Carne and I think one thing that was outstanding was that he was, he had been a professional snooker player.
RG: Ahh, he’d have been handy in the pubs [laughs]
LWG: Yeah, I loved snooker as well not as though I was all that good then, but he used to use me as the wall that is he’d bounce off me because, we, he and I met one another in the snooker room of course.
RG: Right yeah.
LWG: And we both had a game and he’d say you can break so I would break and then he’d sink them all.
RG: Clear the table [laughs], so he was in your crew was he your first crew?
LWG: He was just like another bloke I met later on who was a cricketer, Keith Miller, Keith Miller, he just looked like Keith Miller slicked back hair.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: And he and I became great mates and I was always having to put up with him and his girlfriends because he attracted all the girls.
RG: Yes.
LWG: You know and so on. But he was a great bloke we got to know one another very well over the snooker table he taught me how to play snooker properly and so on and —
RG: So crewing up you just in that room and you just found —
LWG: Well they put us in there were twelve pilots as I was saying all the ones along, and they said, ‘Right oh sort yourselves out into crews.’ Which I thought was ridiculous, and I said to Danny I said, ‘This is ridiculous come on we’ll go have a game of snooker.’ And we did, he said ‘Good idea.’ And we went next door away from this group that were all milling around trying to make friends and so on which was just plain ridiculous, and after a while there was a knock on the door and what anyway, well there’d be twelve blokes came in and they had formed themselves into the crews but they needed a pilot, they said ‘We’re looking for a pilot, two pilots.’ So we, I said ‘Well.’ To Danny I said, ‘Well god this that’ll suit us I suppose so we’ll toss.’ [laughs] And I tossed and that way I got my crew and he got the others, and I had one, two, three, four, five people, one of them was an older bloke, Sergeant Lake he was to be the navigator and he didn’t want to go to war his wife didn’t want him to go to war and he had a lot of trouble.
LD: Yes.
LWG: Eventually the crew came up, he came with us and we started training and so on and he showed his true form and the crew came up to me one day and said, ‘We’ve had enough of George I think your let’s see if we can find another navigator.’ So I asked the CO whoever it was because we’d been doing a bit of work together, I said, ‘I think we’ve [unclear] a problem.’ I thought, he said, ‘Oh you’re lucky we’ve got another navigator here who’s looking for a crew.’ His name was Steve Tinkler and was Steve Tinkler navigator, Steve Tinkler, pas de deux [?] because he’d already done one —
RG: One tour.
LWG: One, what used to be called?
RG: One tour of operation.
LWG: Tour yeah, and he wore glasses, proved to be a bit of a drunk used to have to put him together [unclear] [laughs] He was a great bloke, but he was older, and he was a genius.
RG: Was he AAF or RAF?
LWG: He was RAF, he came from Ireland, lovely bloke had glasses, and mumbled a bit and so on, but he was, he proved to be, he was great with G, you know what G is?
RG: Yep, yep.
LWG: He used to be able to, he got that down to a fine art and now you should be able to turn here because you’ll turn onto the runway or something he was so good —
RG: Precise.
LWG: Advanced, and I was lucky to get him. So he did another tour with us twenty-four he finished his second tour, and then I got another —
RG: So when you say he was older he was only a couple of years older?
LWG: Yeah, but he was, oh he would have been in his forties may be I suppose.
RG: Oh he was in his forties okay.
LWG: Could have been, I never asked, I never asked him. And I remember we’d just changed and I got another, there was another bloke on Mildenhall Station looking for a new crew he was an Indian, Stanley Berry and he’d done some, I’d forgotten how many he’d done, he might have done six or seven or whatever it was trips himself with somebody, with somebody else and I lost him eventually not didn’t lose he did his twenty-four, and we went on our, I remember when he left we went to, where did we go where we went missing? That’ll all come out anyway. That’s the time we got lost at Stockholm, got caught in a storm and we were reported as missing they lost contact with us and so on, and Steve Tinkler was getting nervous ‘cos he used to listen to what was happening and they weren’t hearing from me and they were trying to contact someone, so they assumed we’d been shot down so he gathered all the gear and he robbed my wardrobe I remember and he’d gone didn’t want to wait, he’d gone by the time we got back and I lost contact with him then.
LD: Were you able to get your belongings back?
LWG: Ah, I didn’t know what he’d took he’d ransacked the thing, that was a terrible thing you know he and I, he was a great bloke, I used to put him to bed every night because he’d, he’d go into the mess and drinking he used to put twelve whiskeys on the table and he’d drink and then I’d grab him and take him home and put him to bed.
RG: Twelve whiskeys that’s reasonable enough yeah. So, so he was your first navigator or the first one was the chap who wasn’t up to it.
LWG: First one was George Lake.
RG: Yeah, and then —
LWG: Oh, George we eventually dropped him and he joined another crew and in actual fact my crew didn’t tell me about this until later on.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: He followed us with another crew and was shot down the first —
RG: First trip?
LWG: The first trip.
RG: So how many trips did you do?
LWG: Twenty-nine.
RG: Twenty-nine.
LD: And was that all with 15 Squadron?
LWG: Yeah.
LD: Yeah. And they were all in Lancasters?
LWG: Oh yeah.
LD: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: I, I, we did which is unusual, we did, I did more daylights than —
RG: Oh okay.
LD: Right.
LWG: I did some which day trips, I had, I was good at formation flying and stuff, and I always believed first I was leading the squadron, then on a couple of occasions I led the whole raid, we used to do that in formation.
RG: Any particular trips stand out for you?
LWG: Oh yeah, there all here, one was the one I just mentioned where we got lost which will come up in due course.
LD: So were you with that trip where you got lost over Stockholm were you able to get back to Britain or did you go down over Europe?
LWG: No well I got back, we lost contact. We were chased by [unclear] lights, runway lights going on and off we was at, we were within, right up here, Heligoland, terrible weather and so on we recorded. Anyway we got back and I didn’t, I hadn’t, we’d been chased by the Germans of course and I kept quiet and I was over, we got back to the squadron before they knew I was, that we were coming back, anyway that’ll all come out one way or another. Er, so long ago now really dragged us back, that’s why you’d be better probably taking what —
RG: Well look we will do that, we will take it them as well, yeah.
LWG: Later on. You can see that, can you see that one —
RG: On the top there?
LWG: Yeah.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: They haven’t put it into a book form yet there doing that.
LD: ‘Cos we can copy that and return it to you.
LWG: Well you can do that, but there, there’s a few things that I want to change in there although definitely take them, I don’t like to lose contact with these things.
LD: Oh no I understand that entirely absolutely.
RG: Oh yeah this is lovely.
LWG: There’s a few things that I want to change in there anyway but more or less that tells you about what I’m telling you now.
LD: So were you or any of your crew injured during your ops?
LWG: Not to [unclear] the aircraft [unclear] we used to bring it back US and so on flak and whatever, but no we, none of us actually came to any harm in the air.
LD: Fortunate with that. Did you, were you was the aircraft ever so injured that you know you were damaged that you were coming back on one or two engines that kind of thing?
LWG: Oh yeah. Never did I have to come back on one or two for that matter, come back you’d lose an engine but usually you’d lose them for other reasons. You’re always being attacked of course and had holes all over you and so on and they’d have to patch it up, but I was lucky we didn’t get hit personally but the aircraft was many times.
LD: Were you more concerned about doing the daylight raids then the night time raids or did that not make much difference for you?
LWG: Oh they were both difficult if because leading the raid for instance you had to make a lot of decisions it wasn’t all according to orders and you had to make decisions and so on. We used to be going up and the Yanks were coming back in daylight, and at night time one of the big things that was always pretty difficult and you’re always being shot at and all that sort of thing, but at night time was like they draw the curtains down because everything was in the dark you didn’t have lights on.
LD: The time that you got lost over Stockholm, ‘cos I haven’t, I had heard that you know Stockholm didn’t have blackouts were you able, you said there was a bad storm, were you able to see any lights in Sweden to help you navigate home?
LWG: We was very lucky as a matter of fact because we were lost well and truly, the navigational equipment, like G and all that sort of thing went US and we lost our way and we were in, it was a bad storm that they hadn’t predicted. They sent five of us there to, what were we doing? Oh we were mine laying and we had to find exactly where we were to drop the mines in the right spot it was in this area of the water that the Germans were using all the time and we had to be certain of what we were doing, and everything went US with the aircraft when I took off. ‘Cos they sent in, they sent a hundred I think it was a hundred off as a diversion, for the five of us and I was sent from 15 Squadron the others came from different squadrons and the five of us were the ones that were doing, what they were looking for was to drop these mines, ‘cos the Germans were moving their ships with stores and so on up to Caterech [?] and so on up to Russian.
RG: You see right up in the Baltic, it was in the Baltic.
LWG: And we ran into, to start with, we left, we ran into this storm and it was very thick they were flying blind as we used to say and G and so on didn’t work when you got anywhere near Germany ‘cos they used to jam all that. And we got lost and, what happened, how did I do this, I decided to go low ‘cos we’d been doing that from probably twenty thousand feet or something, and so I dived down broke, broke cloud and I was over a big city with all the lights on.
RG: So you were over Sweden?
LWG: Yeah we were over, oh what’s the name?
RG: Stockholm
LWG: Stockholm yeah, and we thought that was so and it proved to be that but we’d been blown a long way out of our area and so on running short of fuel, on the way back everyone else had gone home because they’d sent a hundred over Heligoland to side track the Germans.
RG: Yeah.
LWG: And, oh god what happened, as I was flying back towards England it started to clear and I could see the ground well you couldn’t see the ground ‘cos it was dark and so on, but we did come back over an area where I knew there were Germans had night fighters and so on, and I noticed just in front of me the lights came on and go off which meant that was one coming one of the fighters being sent off, that happened six times when I thought I’m gonna have to do something now so I thought well I’m going to do the opposite of what they would do and as blind as I am I’ll get down on the deck. I couldn’t see the deck at all ‘cos it was dark but guessed the best area as far as the height was concerned the altimeter told me that and as I was flying over these lights kept going on they came on six times and they’d sent six fighters off and they didn’t catch up with me until I could see the searchlights in England.
RG: Right.
LWG: When one attacked —
RG: Were you still down low at that point?
LWG: No well I was lowish but I wasn’t real low. I didn’t you couldn’t tell it was just black you couldn’t tell how high you were and my altimeter I’d never [unclear] you couldn’t read it because of the storm the barometer changed.
RG: Ah massive change to the air pressure, yep. So you were —
LWG: Anyway I started and I had to do what they used to call a corkscrew so and I was good at doing I used to teach them how to do the corkscrew, that meant you didn’t do things finally you had to be in desperate situations and I used to teach that to the rest of crew in 15 Squadron, got a few bods coming along ‘cos they all did the same thing corkscrew was something that would help them out of trouble. Anyway we were doing that and I threw them off into the dark and I must have been flying a hundred feet at that stage ‘cos you couldn’t see the ground it was a bit of a worry, but eventually we came through that and ‘cos we were something like an hour late or something they’d written us off.
RG: You must have been dead low on fuel?
LWG: Yeah.
RG: If you were an hour late.
LWG: Yes we were.
LD: Were you able to land at your at Mildenhall or did you have to land elsewhere?
LWG: That’s where Steve or John, ‘cos we’d been described as missing.
RG: Did you ever have to come down in another field, another airfield?
LWG: Yeah. I remember coming down once on a Yankeedrome, they had, oh let me, what was the name of the aircraft they were flying?
RG: A 710, Liberator, Liberator?
LWG: You what?
RG: The Liberator.
LWG: Liberator, Liberator. And we had to be diverted once and we landed there, we all looked like a bunch of kids incidentally, and they grouped around us when we got to that place and we went into the bar and they were saying, ‘There only bloody kids.’
RG: Were they, were they older though?
LWG: Oh yeah, no they were all older blokes.
RG: Oh okay.
LWG: Oh interesting, we landed there and they were trying to work out what they would do with us anyway one of them offered to show me one of the Liberators and we went over and they used to carry cookies as you know, used to carry about twenty thousand pounds of bombs huge [unclear], and we went and had a look at these Liberators, and they said, ‘come and have a tour bombed up ready to go.’ [telephone ringing in background]
LD: So do you remember carrying the tall boys or the grand slams.
LWG: No, no we didn’t do that. Well they were using them because they wanted to penetrate the pens at Heligoland but they never did it you know. Oh incidentally, I remember leading the crew and I had to position the formation and we were, what was it, three thousand [unclear] daylight, we went to Heligoland and, oh god, I’ll have to study my old book again to find out what we did.
LD: So when you finished your tour Bill —
LWG: I didn’t finish a tour.
LD: You didn’t?
LWG: No.
LD: Oh okay.
LWG: They called the war off. [laughs]
RG: How, how, how many were you expected to do in a tour?
LWG: Thirty.
RG: Thirty okay. You know if that varied over —
LWG: It was automatic but all things went through but thirty was the deal. We all wanted to do that ‘cos the whole crew wanted to do that ‘cos we were senior people at that stage.
LD: So when they called the war off were you involved in missions over Europe you know dropping food and bring POW’s back and so on?
LWG: Yeah we dropped some food, actually we dropped food because I, they gave me the job of flying over our drome where we were to find out what height we should do it from.
LD: Oh yes, yes.
LWG: And I did that for them but I never actually, did I drop, I might have done one trip with food otherwise I did a number of trips on bringing prisoners of war back.
LD: Right okay.
LWG: Used to go to a place called Reims and oh this is a bit of tale might tell you a little later on. Used to go to Reims.
RG: Where were you when, what’s your memory of VE Day what was, what happened to you on VE Day when they called the war off do you remember how you thought about it or what you did?
LWG: What did I think, well you were relieved, but I didn’t throw my hat in the air and those sort of things. I was very involved at the end on Mildenhall, but no what they did is they just pulled the sheet from underneath your feet and you were of no use to anybody from then on you had to find your own way. Poms wanted us to go back to redress the country and so on, British were good, some of the Australians were bad, a lot of idiots amongst them as well.
LD: So were you involved with Tiger Force, or the preparations for Tiger Force were you involved in that in any way?
LWG: Oh no I think no, trying to think what was they called the ones supposed to deal with used to go pick up drop a flare?
RG: Oh Pathfinders.
LWG: Pathfinders. I wasn’t in the Pathfinder group but I was doing their work for them.
LD: Oh okay. What sort of work were you doing for them?
LWG: Just leading, we used to be in front of everybody.
LD: Oh okay.
LWG: I remember Pathfinders, I was leading I’ve forgotten which troop that was towards the end anyway I was, had everyone formatting on me and five of these Pathfinders came up and they took a wrong turn I think we bombed as a consequence I heard later on we bombed a prisoner of war camp or something, I’d forgotten about that.
LD: Yeah.
LWG: 5 Group were supposedly the elite of the bombing group but they got the pick of the troops.
RG: Pick of the crews and so forth yeah.
LD: When you were doing the day time raids you must have been involved with some precision bombing were you?
LWG: Precision.
LD: Yes.
LWG: Well none of it was haphazard I can tell you that. [laughs]
LD: Some of it was perhaps more precision than others, but were you involved in any particular raids for very special targets?
LWG: Well they were all special targets. Oh yeah, we used to go out in hundred or two hundred lots and so on and, oh, if you didn’t of course you‘d have Gerrys all over you share the weight a bit, and they were firing those oh what is they called, the V2’s, V1’s.
RG: Was you involved in the raids at Pienemunde at all?
LWG: Pienemunde.
RG: Did you do those at all?
LWG: Yeah I think I was on Pienemunde I forgot.
RG: It’ll be in here in the log —
LWG: No we knew Pienemunde, we, I can’t remember, we certainly did it whether I was on airstrips or not now, but that’s why that books important to me, forgetting things.
RG: Yeah.
LD: It’s not surprising it’s all so long ago. So once they called the war off were you, did it take long for you to get back to Australia or were you floating around Britain for a while wondering what to do?
LWG: No I was, took us back to Brighton.
LD: Yeah.
LWG: And we were lost souls then, no we were there for some time, came back on the, what was the name of the ship, I went through it around the world.
RG: “Stirling Castle”.
LWG: “Stirling Castle” yeah. Came back through the Suez.
LD: Had a bit of a Cooks tour didn’t you?
LWG: Yeah all the way round.
RG: And you did do a Cooks tour of Germany the cities after war I know it’s in here in your log you did one of the Cooks tour trips after the war.
LWG: What’s it got in there?
RG: You did Operation Exodus ones which was the prisoners, and a Cooks tour of Germany from your base at Dover to —
LWG: Yeah I was, I was a senior bod in Mildenhall and we were given the opportunity of taking the ground staff and aircrew around anywhere we wanted to go in Germany and that we called a Cooks tour, Baedeker and yes we did that. I did that in fact it was interesting, Molly and I, Molly was my wife, Molly and I went back to England and we took a trip down the Rhine. [telephone ringing] Excuse me I’ve got to take this. She’s took over from my accountancy I built up in Batumba [?], she was my secretary.
LD: I was wondering what you did after the war?
LWG: Another story altogether.
LD: Did you have trouble finding work when you came back?
LWG: Oh well, that’s a different story you’ll find that I’ve had a very full life one way or another, it didn’t stop with the war anyway.
RG: Well I’m just going to photograph your log book page by page so we’ve just got a record of that if that’s all right?
LWG: Yeah I think that’s all right. I didn’t make any extra secret thoughts or anything like that in the corner I just used to, I was too young, didn’t realise what I should have done, because I had an actually an amazing story to tell, can’t do it now forget things, and my brother Ron comes into that and oh lot of things happened during my life.
RG: Did Ron serve during the war as well?
LWG: No wouldn’t let him go, he, he became the commissioner of —
RG: Oh he was a reserved occupation.
LWG: Yeah, he was very wise, he used, he had signed your refund cheques [laughs] but that was not a big deal.
RG: I was always going to get a refund cheque.
LD: So when you came back to Australia if you became an accountant you must have gone back to study is that right?
LWG: Yeah, um, I have to think about this, I was working in the tax department when I turned eighteen, when I turned eighteen I was called into the Army and I had joined up into the Air Force, and after the ten months when I got into a course and started and when I came back I was still acceptable, pardon me, to the tax.
LD: Yes, yes.
LWG: But I had to do my studies which I did mainly by teaching myself, asked for all the accountancy work and they told me, oh when I came back I was a very sick boy I ended up spending totally six years in Concord Hospital I got a bad touch of the flu in London, got sick, got pleurisy, I was sick when they brought me home in the boat, and I spent six years in Concord Hospital.
LD: Oh my lord.
LWG: In three goes. And eventually they sacked me if you like or whatever, and in the meantime I had studied accountancy and I passed that and got qualified as an accountant here in theory and I was called back to the tax department and I came back here and Ron told me that you’ll never get anywhere if you came to Katumba to Canberra so we’ll send you down to Sydney, so I went down to the tax department in Sydney, so what street was that? Elizabeth Street.
LD: Yes.
LWG: And I was there for years and till eventually I got sick and I was gonna die and all sorts of things because I contacted tuberculosis, so I was in hospital for six years about and they told me I’d never work again.
LD: Oh right, yeah.
LWG: Eventually they, um, now what do I do with this, anyway I decided I would try for work, oh I got married [laughs].
LD: I figured Molly came into it somewhere.
LWG: Yeah I married Molly she was my nurse at Concord Hospital.
LD: Oh that’s so sweet.
LWG: Yeah she was a beauty. So she spent her time nursing me there which I, and I got to the stage where I was getting well, she was myself actually, until I was told they couldn’t do anymore for me anyway and we decided to get married which we did and I decided. They said the best thing you could do is get up in the mountains clean air and so on.
LD: Yes, yes.
LWG: I’d been the yardstick in sense for people in Concord, I got onto a lot of equipment and I refused they wanted to take my lungs out and all sorts of things.
LD: Oh.
LWG: I refused on that we decided we’d try and right it ourselves and we did eventually.
LD: That was probably a good decision.
LWG: I taught myself to, I had got the infection up here on my right lobe, I taught myself they said you’ll never, I had a haemorrhage, they said they’ll never cure that because you can’t stop yourself from moving it, so despite the fact you had to stop moving using that the only way we can do that is take your lung out.
LD: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: I saw what that meant and I saw people getting around despite this because they took all your ribs out, so I said no I’ll do it myself, took me a year, I controlled my ribs sitting very I used to get them to force me to use my stomach.
LD: Yes
LWG: And the lower lobes kept this one as steady as I could.
LD: Goodness
LWG: And it took me a year and they said, took me, you know those scans, ever had a scan?
LD: Yes, yes, I have indeed.
LWG: I had the first scan it was brought to Concord, and they used me as a guinea pig, and they put me in a room all by myself, near the hospital labs, heard this thing clanking, getting closer, and closer and closer and trying out a lot of bad stuff whatever. Wasn’t even aware of that, I became a guinea pig. Anyway after a year they said that cavity has healed itself, the best thing you can do is get up in the mountains so Molly and I got married we went up to live in Katumba [?].
LD: Oh that’s remarkable —
LWG: The best thing I ever did —
LD: Remarkable tenacity.
LWG: Beg your pardon.
LD: Remarkable tenacity.
LWG: And I hung my shield up took me six months to get my first customer basically built up the biggest accounting practice in the mountains and eventually, I had a wonderful secretary, in fact she just rang me, she took over I gave her the practice, she got her accountancy qualifications and she’s running the practice now, she rings me up every day if she’s got a problem, it was her she rang earlier.
LD: Oh that’s wonderful. Did you and Molly have, well yes you obviously had children you spoke to me about them.
LWG: Two children, boy and a girl.
LD: Do they live nearby?
LWG: One lives in [unclear] and Janet is [unclear]
LD: Oh that’s good.
LWG: And they’ve both got kids and so on so it’s all gone rather well.
LD: It’s a remarkable life you’ve led you know, especially this you know this section in Bomber Command you know you said when you went to the American base they were surprised how young you were you know when you look at those bomber crews they were you know they were —
LWG: Well we were only kids we hadn’t done anything in life.
LD: Yeah, I look at my son sometimes, my youngest son you know and I can’t even imagine him doing that, I just I can’t wrap my head around the level of you know skill and —
RG: Responsibility.
LD: Yeah amazing responsibility involved with lads that was so young it’s, it’s a remarkable thing that you all did it really is and yeah it’s, it’s you know.
LWG: There were thousands of us doing it of course.
LD: Yeah, it is important that it is remembered and acknowledged, it’s very important.
LWG: Of course the Yanks were a different thing altogether, interesting the Yanks do things better than we do, Australians I’ve got no time for in total sense, not real smart.
RG: Us Australians?
LWG: Yeah.
RG: Yeah I agreed.
LWG: The Poms were good but they had sense and did it according to oil, if you know what I mean by that because they do things according to what they were told and —
RG: What they were supposed to do.
LWG: The Yanks were different altogether they were freelancers, oh yeah they would do everything because they would pay for it number one, they wouldn’t do it on the yardstick they’d do it properly and I admired the Yanks they were great in their way. The Poms were good, the Australians they were caught short.
RG: Sloppy is that what you mean.
LWG: Yeah, not that they weren’t sincere and so on they were doing that but I don’t know how you’d describe it.
RG: Cut corners a bit or?
LWG: No they certainly weren’t better. The Poms showed us how to do it, the Yanks would do it, and in between the Australians towed it along and that wasn’t wrong. Incidentally Colin Flockhart he was killed and Rolly Wall was and everybody was killed around I was lucky and that not to be killed.
LD: What happened to your friend Percy, your school friend Percy?
LWG: We finished, they wanted us to stay in the Army because what I told you everyone, most of the people we went in with couldn’t read or write and which means they were taken from an area there was nothing wrong with them in a sense but they wanted us to stay. Used to do stupid things they weren’t Australians are good but not the ants pants that we think we are.
RG: Take unnecessary risks?
LWG: Oh?
RG: Take unnecessary risks?
LWG: Oh no, no, oh some of them might have done that no I didn’t mean it that way no, I’ll get into areas where I’m very critical. The worst thing I decided to do was to move out of Katumba and come here to Canberra and I keep saying oh what a terrible place this is, and it’s not the place the city of Canberra’s wonderful but it is, it has everything here just the people who live in it I’m sorry I’m not throwing this at you but I wouldn’t give you five bob and the rest of my family live here and their part of the deal, this working as a public servant is for the [unclear] not for real people in my book, well you can see the decisions they make, or don’t make, or shouldn’t make.
RG: Well Bill thanks a lot, you know, we’ve got a lot of good stuff. Your, you’re a Knight of the Order of Leopold, Belgium.
LWG: I saw you turn that up.
RG: Sorry,
LWG: No —
RG: Yeah, yeah, I photographed the yeah it’s here a Knight of, when did you receive that the Knighthood from the Belgium, the Belgium Knighthood?
LWG: There was two of us on 15 Squadron well he might have been on 622 there was another squadron and he did twenty-nine the same as I did and the routine was that at thirty you got the DFC and so on, he and I only got to do twenty-nine and the CO said that I’m handicapped here because the routine is you know thirty, and I didn’t do thirty I only did twenty-nine, succeeded twenty-nine. So, and they gave me, what’s it called?
RG: It’s the Chevalier —
LWG: Chevalier, Order of Leopold.
RG: Yeah something like that.
LD: The Belgium Croix de Guerre.
LWG: Croix de Guerre yeah.
RG: Order of Leopold, Croix de Guerre with palm [?] It’s in relation to Croix de Guerre 1940 for courage and bravery da, da, da.
LD: And the Belgium Knight of the Order of Leopold.
LWG: Where did you get that from?
LD: The Internet Bill, the internet you’re famous. [laughs]
LWG: No I’m not. It’s interesting the DFC was, I was ready to, I hated the tax of course didn’t like public service but I suppose I lost my faith in human nature when I see what happens in public service in Sydney I got fed up of that. So I applied to and they were advertising for TAA so I got called up for TAA, but because of my health problem I got called into the Concord Hospital at the same time.
LD: So did you ever fly as a civilian pilot?
LWG: Yeah a little bit you might have—
RG: Yeah a little bit there’s a stuff about Cessna’s and things.
LWG: Things didn’t stop there but I was part owner of a Tiger, what did we buy, a Tiger Moth.
RG: All right.
LWG: I never [background noise] down here you can look there and you see you know where Seven Cross is there’s a big store —
RG: A big tower —
LWG: A big tower beside it, if you imagine that as cloud just looks like exactly like the cloud that was over when I landed on and I landed on Woodbridge, we had to break cloud I had to dive into this and then I came underneath ‘cos underneath that was an area where you could see ground and I broke cloud underneath and as I was coming down there was a Flying Fortress coming straight for me, how we missed one another I’ll never know, he crashed they were killed they were all burnt to death I suppose ‘cos they were burnt, I managed to stay within this little cell, what did I do, anyway a very hazardous trip doing steep turns, I only had three or was it two engines or something I’ve forgotten now, yeah this plane was coming straight for me and I flew it down and we just missed one another, they told me to taxi up the end of the runway when I got down.
RG: So you came down with FIDO on that one?
LWG: Yeah, FIDO had the cloud, that was what —
RG: Oh that was what —
LWG: FIDO had pushed everything up and gave you this little area if you could get in to it.
RG: So they’d done that to get you down?
LWG: Oh no not only me.
RG: And the rest of the stream.
LWG: There was I think three or four then, a lot of the aerodromes had FIDO we didn’t have it Mildenhall.
RG: I think Bert said they didn’t have it at Waddington as well.
LD: That’s right yeah.
LWG: As soon as we landed they had to sell the aircraft put us straight into a bus and drove us out of there to get us away from the place took us straight all the way back to Mildenhall.
RG: Woodbridge did you say Woodbridge yeah?
LWG: There was three I think the other two I can’t remember their names but Woodbridge was the one that was operating that day. I could see it, I could see it for miles in front of me ‘cos I was above cloud and there was this tower and that’s why —
RG: Oh I see pushed the cloud up —
LWG: Yeah.
RG: Ah okay.
LWG: Just looked if you —
RG: Yeah, yeah.
LWG: You see that you can imagine that as being a cloud —
RG: So it was a beacon as well as —
LWG: Well it was because it was daylight, well it forced all of the air up until it looked like —
RG: A tower.
LWG: A three story building and it just looks like that.
RG: Wow.
LWG: And I, what I did I found I aimed for the bottom of it and broke into that area and it was clear only in that area.
RG: Yeah it would have been quite small actually you’d have been doing really tight turns.
LWG: Doing steep turns all the time.
RG: Did you have any trouble the last chap we interviewed he finished his tour and was sent to training command at Wigsley and he said one night they had a couple of MM110 night fighters came back with the bomber streams in ’45 and couldn’t do anything they peeled off when they got into England they attacked Wigsley and they attacked Waddington. Did you ever have any problems with intruders coming back into the after a raid back into the —
LWG: What day or night?
RG: Night.
LWG: No I don’t think that happened I think he’s having you on, we certainly didn’t run into that, but then at the same time we were running into late in the, in the war itself as I said when the war finished I was still on squadron we were going and picking POW’s and bringing them back. We went to Reims.
RG: You had an overnight stopover in Reims didn’t you on one trip?
LWG: Yeah, and we went somewhere, we went to café we had no money and the Yanks saw us to that they’d shout us, we went out we were looking for somewhere, it came dark it was night and we couldn’t find any, what did we do, we had landed at a place called, that’ll tell me, Juvincourt, Juvincourt, [?] that’s right and there were two hundred aeroplanes sitting on this drome we decided as a crew, we decided oh let’s go out and we’ll hitchhike into Reims, ‘cos they told us Reims wasn’t far away which we did, and I think a Yank pulled up in one of his jeeps and we all hopped on and when we got in there we found that was full of Yanks it was evening, so we went into, had no money or nothing, went into a a French café I suppose it was a café it was interesting there was a big huge marquee tent you see which I associate with that and we went and got into this café or whatever it was and the Yanks were in there and they shouted at us ‘cos we had no money and so on and we came out of there and we wondered what we’d do, oh, I suppose I should show you that, I’ll take it —
RG: Put that back on the cradle —
LWG: I’ll show you, I only brought that one through there more or less, I’m lying because I got caught in a landslide.
RG: Oh
LWG: Down near Wellington.
LD: Oh, that’s enough to make you lay.
LWG: They want to take my legs off told them no.
RG: [whispers] Turn it off.
LD: Oh sorry

Collection

Citation

Rob Gray and Lucy Davison, “Interview with Bill Gray,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 15, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/3412.

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