Interview with Dennis Kelly

Title

Interview with Dennis Kelly

Description

Dennis Kelly grew up in Australia and joined the Royal Australian Air Force aged 18. He flew operations as a wireless operator / air gunner with 467 Squadron from RAF Binbrook. His aircraft was shot down over France and he evaded capture with the help from the French Resistance.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-12-01

Contributor

Christine Kavanagh

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

01:37:53 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AKellyDV151201

Conforms To

Transcription

This interview for the International Bomber Command Centre is with Des Kelly who was a 467 Squadron wireless operator and evader in World War Two. The interview is taking place in Denis’s house in Carrum Downs in South East Melbourne. My name is Adam Purcell and it is the 1st of December 2012 [2015?]. Des, I thought we’d start from the beginning. Can you tell us something about your early life, how and where you grew up and what you did before ‒?
DK: Firstly, I grew up in [unclear] Valley and I went to a school there that was so small they had only two rooms in the school and they had four rows of desks. The small room had grade 1, 2, 3 and 4 grade with one teach and the big thing had 4,5,6,7, and 8 in that so that’s how small it was. I left there after I’d outgrown it and went to Box Hill High School for boys, high school, and then we went, we moved down to Cheltenham so I then went to Murray [?] High School and that’s where I finished my ‒. I was house captain, football captain, cricket captain and myself I was a prefect and we left all of that and I ‒. My father had a problem. He had 22,000 volts through him, he was an electrical engineer with [unclear] and he was immobilised for over twelve months and in those days there was no workers’ con [?] so our existence was pretty ‒, so anyway when I was grown I left and went and got a job and that was a job with [unclear] wines, spirits and grocery thing at er ‒. I can’t think of the name at the moment. They’re in Luke [?] Street in Melbourne. I applied to join the Air Force as soon as I was eighteen. I had a quarrel with my father whether I’d join or not but I didn’t get called up ‘til nine months later and because of the big gap I was told to go to the post office and learn Morse code. I didn’t do that because I wasn’t interested. I wanted to be a pilot, a fighter pilot. Anyhow, I was called up on the 19th June 1942 and went down to er, ‒, instead of the nice close one at Victoria, I went to Victor Harbour in South Australia, from there I went to Ballarat for the radio course. I was very hostile at not being picked for a pilot but they told me I had no depth perception. I didn’t believe that. I thought it was a lame excuse. I’ll come round to that later so I did six months at Ballarat doing radio course and then I went down to Sale and did my gunnery course down there and I didn’t have very much time after that when I was sent to Brisbane on a train. We got onto a tramp steamer called Eclipse [?] Fontagne [?] which was a Dutch one. We left from Brisbane, took nineteen days to get to Los Angeles because we were zig-zagging all over the place hoping not to be shot, not shot down, torpedoed. That was a pretty hazardous sort of journey because we were all packed in the hold, we were in the hold, all our hammocks in the hold, and that wasn’t much fun for those at the back. There was some smart bloke, I don’t know how he knew, because as soon as we got up to get to the ship he rushed off and got a crown and anchor thing and he made thousands because were paid in American dollars and anyhow we arrived in San Francisco on a train, on a Pullman train and none of us had ever seen that. We had an African American for each car and he made our beds and meals and he got our supplies where we stopped [unclear] on the way. We went right down to New Mexico round to ‒, and up to ‒, and we ended up at Camp Mile Standish in er, it’s north of New York, Mile Standish, yeah that was in Boston. There we were supposed to wait. We were told not to go out. But a few of us, four of us, got through a hole in the fence, got on a train and went to New York for two days and we didn’t sleep anywhere and we came back. Eventually, we were put on I think it was the Queen Mary, I’m pretty sure it was it was the Queen Mary, and we went over to England. We landed in Grangemouth [?] in Scotland and that was a horrendous voyage because it was just full of Americans and they were sleeping in the aisles. We had twelve of us in a really little cabin but for some reason, I don’t know how we were picked, each of us were picked to have a go at a submarine, to try and see if we could see a submarine and that was ridiculous, we were up where the captain was and we were just staring out, the seas were absolutely enormous. I’d never been so frightened even, actually when we got to Grangemouth [?] the bows of the Queen Elizabeth [?] was dented from the waves. From there we went down to Brighton and Brighton because of earlier the Germans coming over at the other place, I can’t remember the name of the place, and they shot it up at lunch time, so we were on watch on the top of the Hotel Metropol. Nothing came so then I started learning all over again. They sent me to North Wales, to Caernarvon, to start learning all about radios and what planes there were and general information about the RAF, ‘cause that’s the thing, the RAF, then we started doing all our individual things and we all came to a place called Lichfield and we all were there and a most ‒, I’m sure you must have heard this before, a most amazing thing happened, a pilot walked round and watched what the [unclear] were and asked, ‘Do you have a crew?’ In my case it was Tom Davies and I said, ‘No, I haven’t got a crew.’ He said, ‘Well, you have now. You’re wireless air-gunner with me,’ he says and he selected the crew. Now you wouldn’t believe it but we all clicked. It was a tremendous crew we had. Er ‒, we had a rear gunner Col Allen, he was the bloke that was shot up when we got shot down. We on our ‒, there’s some dispute about this and let me be clear on how our discharge certificate it got that we did thirty operations, actually Tom ‒, the crew did thirty operations, er ‒, we only did twenty-eight, Tom did two things, and I missed one because I’d been injured on a flight and they made me stop in hospital and so I missed a trip. But then it started and [laugh] we made a terrible start. Tom had done two dummy runs (that we called them) with other pilots see so he had two ops under him and so we got in a plane and went off down the runway and Tom couldn’t control the bomber. We were bouncing the thing and we tried to get up in that plane but they wouldn’t let us. They said, ‘It’s too late now,’ we’d never catch up, so Tom had something, we all did something that we got a name for but Tom was a poof pilot, he couldn’t fly the plane. Oh we ‒, before that, we went on a ‒, dumping leaflets over Paris. That didn’t count. Germans were [unclear] and then we got on and we did all these operations. About the time ‒, now about a few weeks before we were doing our last flight (which we didn’t know it would be) our mid-upper gunner got appendicitis, he lived in town [?], so he wasn’t with us when we got shot down. There was a Canadian, who was a flying officer, and he had a DFC, we never knew why. Anyhow, on 19th July we set off for a place called Revigny, or Revigny is what the French called it, and we had dropped our bombs and we’d just turned round making for home and then bang! We were hit from the tail and underneath so we guessed it was one of these upward flying cannons ‘cause none of us saw it. All my equipment and Mark the navigator’s equipment just exploded. I didn’t have to light [?] the rice paper thing ‘cause it all went up. Tom said, ‘Bail out! Bail out!’, so I had to get down on my back and I pulled the mid upper gunner’s legs to let him know I was out and I had the shock of my life when I saw him, nineteen year-old gunner, he was dead, and they always said he was the hardest to get out so that’s why I went down to help him but I couldn’t. So Tom was saying, ‘Bail out! Bail out!’ So I got to the edge, looked over, and we were at twenty-one thousand feet, and I looked down through the door and thought ‘No!’ by this time I had something [unclear] my parachute and my jacket, my bomber jacket, was smouldering, so I went to step out and then I remembered never [emphasis] step out of a Lanc, you gotta dive, and at my ‒, in effect I felt as though I was diving, diving off the roof of a high American, New York place. Anyhow, I’d had my hand ripped ‘cause we had a lot of feedback from the French, saying we find that the [unclear] tearing all their clothes ‘cause they got the D ring on the wrong side, ‘cause you picked that up and you put it on upside down, the D ring, so I grabbed the D ring before I got ‒. That dive I’ll never forget. Anyhow, next I knew I was falling, I was smoking and I pulled the rip cord at the exact second, [unclear] time it must have been, I hit the ground and it lifted me up and down when I hit the ground and flicked me then I came down. It did all the damage when it flicked me when I came down the second time when [unclear] but there I was and I just couldn’t believe it and I don’t know if it was lack of oxygen. It couldn’t have been the explosion of the ‘plane ‘cause the plane crashed and there’s [unclear] in there. Anyhow so I was frightened [emphasis]. I knew I couldn’t walk. They said I’d broken my spine, my legs just wouldn’t work, so I pulled myself up against a tree and sat there and then I heard a dog barking. What happened, it was Bill McGowan who’d gone another way and he was going through a farmhouse and the dog barked at him and I had ‒. You’ve probably never seen “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. It was a big German dog grabbing his throat and I was scared witless then, no doubt about it, but then it calmed down after that. [Unclear] and my wife’s stuck at home, wouldn’t know I’m here, she’ll think I’m dead, she’ll get the telegram, I can’t do anything about it, and I don’t know how long I was there, it couldn’t have been more than an hour or two and then I heard a crash, crash, through the bush and I thought that’s no one sneaking up, it’s only one person, it might be another, so I yelled out and it was Peter, the flight engineer, so I cried, ‘Thank goodness there’s someone here.’ We sat talking and about twenty minutes later we heard the same crash noise through the bush, and it was Mark Edgeley. So the three of us sat down to decide and I said, ‘Well look I can’t walk, you know, leave me and if you give me an undertaking that if you get back to tell my wife that I was alive at this stage.’ I didn’t know what was going to happen after that so they went off and the next day I decided I’d got to do something. I couldn’t walk so it was marshy ground fortunately and so I was dragging along [unclear] I thought it was, you know, five or six days, five out of [unclear], when I got back I checked with the French people, it was nothing like that. But I was pulling myself along in this ooze. I was drinking this horrible swamp water and then it came to a canal and I thought, ‘Right, this is good,’ and it had steep banks on either side, you know, so I got in the water and started backstroke and there was a long curve in the canal and when I came round ‒, actually now I know it was right next to where I was eventually hiding, there was two gendarmes there. We were told not to trust them so I turned round and tried to get out of the canal. Well, if you’ve ever tried to get out of a pool without using your legs, and this was a grassy slope, I lost my fingernails, I eventually got there and started pulling myself along and eventually came to a road and I started crossing the road and I just passed out. The Harley Street people said it was mind over matter. Your mind said, ‘You’re safe now.’ So that’s when I was really stuck. A Frenchman came along on a bike. It was early morning, he was going to work and the next thing I knew this Frenchman was pushing me with his foot on the road and I looked at him, I said, ‘Je suis Anglais, parachutist, Australien, [unclear],’ and he pulled out a bottle and I thought it would be wine. It wasn’t. It was beer. It was the only bottle of beer I’ve seen in France even when I went back I’d never seen one. But I drank the lot. Anyhow, he rolled me over into the ditch at the side of the road and off he went. What I didn’t call him, the bloody French, they’re cowards, they’ve never won anything, you know. And I thought, ‘I’m done, I can’t get out of this ditch. I’m gonna die there,’ and that was frightening. However, that night, which seemed to be days to me, but it was that night, he came back and lifted me out, he had two other people there, they put me on a bike, no, before they put me on the bike they stripped my uniform and gave me French civilian clothes, then put me on the bike with just the two legs just hanging down, took me down to a place which I now know was this Pargny-sur-Saulx and they put me in the lock-keeper’s house. What I saw of the canal was they used it going ‒, the canal went right through the German ‒ and there was a little lock there and they locked up with a small key and I couldn’t speak French and he couldn’t speak English but they took me in and then finally a couple of days later they got a doctor to come and see me. And the doctor said, ‘No, he’s got to go to hospital,’ and, you know, this French chap said, ’No, no, don’t let him go,’ and I was frightened to go to hospital ‘cause that meant Germans, so that was it, so they didn’t then. Now, I stuck with them, I’m not quite sure, maybe two or three weeks and then one night the French underground came for me, put me in a little box on the back of the trailer, the box trailer on the back of the bike, just a small one with bike wheels on and bent me over and tied me around and then put sacks over the top of me. I didn’t know where I was but the plane had been [unclear] it wasn’t very nice. However, they dropped me in a house and I got carried upstairs. This house, I still don’t know where it was, there was a space with steps to the room and they told me, ’Don’t ever try to open this door unless they’re coming for food because this dog will go for you.’ Anyhow, it must have been an American house at one stage ‘cause there was writing there, writing to America, and I never saw anyone from that day to this. They’d bring my food up and put it outside the door, then leave the dog at the top of the stairs and I could open the door and take the food. That was alright but I tried to open the door once when the food wasn’t there and it came roaring. Then a little later ‒. Time? I’d got no idea of time. A French, two French chaps came. You know, the [unclear] had a charcoal burner at the back of it, and they couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak French but they just told me I was going from this place and I didn’t mind that. This place wasn’t like Victoria [?]. We were talking to each other even though we couldn’t understand. But no one else, I was just isolated in this place. Anyhow, they took me out. It was late evening in summer and they put me in this cart and we were going along, I didn’t know where, and there was a whole load of Lancasters parked on each side of the road. The Germans had put, you know, wrecks that had been shot down. I thought, ‘Gee, that doesn’t look too well.’ And then just before it got dark there was a chap, he was in a sort of tractor, a very old-fashioned tractor, chugging along trying to cultivate his fields and then there was an American fighter pilot, he turned round and he saw him and he came down and blasted him up and these French [unclear] when I got to this and told me what had happened. They reckon the RAF, the RAF, had found out that I was going and this bloke ‒, and so they sent an American plane to shoot him up and he shot it up alright, killed the bloke. Anyhow I ended up, it was dark, in a hospital and I looked round, got off the bike, and I went up the stairs until I got to the caretaker’s room and then they put me in there and said ‘Bonjour.’ And off they went and this place there was a Frenchman and he had just got married, he was wanted by the Germans. He had a wanted sign there and they left me there for ten days. Now we got one meal in the morning and one at night. There was kerosene tin that was it our toilet for both of us. And I felt completely out of it and then the same people came and took me in the car and they were saying, you know, it was going to be goodbye for me, and we were going through a place, which I now believe was Vitry-le-Francois and we were passing a car getting towed the other way. And the blokes that had me were going, going crazy, you know, at the end of that street, they stopped and got me out, knocked on the door and a chap came out and he was a hunchback, completely with a hunchback, and they pointed, told him and pointed at me, they’d be back at 10 o’clock at night, they’d be back at 10 o’clock to pick me up. They never did because what all the fuss was about, that I was supposed to be taken back to ‒, as a whole lot of us were being flown back. Now I understand, according to the French, the Germans waited ‘til that plane was taking off and shot it down. Now whether that was true or not I don’t know but I [emphasis] never got there. This bloke, I slept there for two nights, he had a young baby and I mean a young baby, it wouldn’t be more than a month or two, he couldn’t speak but he started going like this and so I got the message so I started out. I didn’t have any idea how but I wanted to get back to Victors [unclear]. Anyhow I ran into a Yank, and at least I got to talk to somebody, and he said he’d been in a Thunderbolt and was shot down by an enemy 109 and they both landed in adjacent paddocks and he said, ‘I went and shot the German.’ And he said he’d been there almost nine months. So I said to myself, ‘He’s kept out of trouble for nine months.’ Instead of thinking, ’Well, what the hell’s he been doing for nine months?’ Anyhow, he’d gone what we called ‘a cropper’, yeah. When we were there he’d heard guns going and he’d go towards the guns [laugh] that way. Anyhow, this first day we met there was a small what we’d call café/sweetshop and they had some bread and we went in there together and bang! Two Germans came in. They just saluted. We were just saluting but they heard me talking and they heard Ted so we were taken out in some place, I haven’t the foggiest idea where it was and they took us back to this place where we were interviewed by, what I believe was, an old school teacher who could speak a bit of English and he explained to us that we were spies now ‘cause we were in civilian clothes, we were going to be sent to Berlin to the Gestapo to find out what we knew. And we got on alright and they had us in a small room locked in. And Ted said, ‘You know, we got to get out of this somehow.’ You know I was having visions of our fingernails being pulled off. Anyhow, the following night this chap said, the schoolmaster as I called him, he said, ‘Right, you’re going to be taken to the station,’ in the night of course because they didn’t dare try the trains during daytime, and we’d be taken to Berlin. Ted said, ’We gotta do something about this,’ so listen [laugh], we got there on the station, believe it or not, one of the guards we reckoned he was with one of the girls, he went round the side, but he went. Ted looked at me, didn’t say anything, but I knew he was going to kick the other guard in the balls. He went down and he got his gun and shot him through the head and he said, ‘This is how stupid the Germans are.’ The other guard poked his head round the corner and when he looked that way he shot him through the head. Well Ted [unclear], now I can’t find out anything, and I’ll tell you a bit later about where that was or what happened. Anyhow we got away. We were both hungry so we watched the first farmhouse we came to, we stopped in the barn, slept in the barn, and then about two more days later we came to a farmhouse which we was delighted enough to see and there a woman came out and Ted said, ‘Look you go and talk to this woman,’ and I said, ’Well, you’re coming along too.’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ and we talked to her and finally we got our handcuffs taken off. The farmer got an old chisel, took them off, so there again we got involved with the underground. I don’t want to go into that but Ted went one way and I went another and finally I got, I can’t say picked up, I was ‒, one night I heard a plane flying over and over and over, there was another one behind it, I knew ‒, as it turned out it was a Stirling, it was a four engine, I could see a single aircraft, and they dropped something, it hit across the wires, it was huge this thing and then this thing came to ground, so I was going over towards it and I heard a voice saying, ‘You German bastard, you stop where you are.’ [Laugh] I turned round and answered, ‘I’m an Aussie!’ He said, ‘Oh go on, talk.’ I was convinced he knew I was an Aussie, and that explosion was they were dropping a jeep for the underground and it hit the wire. That’s why the bloke there was SAS, that’s why they were there, ‘cause they were waiting for this. Anyhow, one night when they were out, being a wireless operator, they wouldn’t let me into their little bivouac, er, I guess because of what I might see but I knew where it was so, anyhow, when they were out I found the radio and I sent a message to my squadron telling them who I was, who the crew was, and where we got shot down and when. They never answered and I never knew whether they got that but I found out later from my wife that the federal police came to her in Elwood and told her I was safe at that stage but still behind enemy lines. In the meantime she thought she was a widow. Anyhow they, they finally got with the French underground again and without going into a lot of things they finally collected about six of us and two, no three of them, were crew from my crew, and I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me that I ‒, you know, they said, ‘How did you get on with your back,’ and I said, ‘Well I learned to walk.’ So they took us back, no they didn’t, we were in this place, I got a photo of the barn there. We were all collected, they were Flemish people, we were there for a day and a half, and finally they ‒, we were waiting, we’d been told in a roundabout way that it was just a holding place for us, but then we heard guns, and we said, ’Geez that’s funny.’ Because it was real firing so we went up to the road and it was General Patton’s mob, so we flagged them down and got on a tank and one of the officers, I’m not sure if it was Patton, it probably wasn’t, but he shouted, ‘Get them bloody Frenchmen off the tank!’ I said, ‘We’re not French, we’re Aussies.’ So because I’d done some gunnery I was standing up on the gun turret of the tank and we went all way down to Nancy, that was all day, and I’d never had it before but my face was so badly wounded it was yellow skin. I thought it was great standing up and each side there were pockets of German soldiers. He wasn’t worried [unclear] the Yanks would pick those up. Anyhow, so from there they sent us back to Paris and in Paris we were put on a plane back to England and we went through MI5 or MI6, I wasn’t sure what it was, and I was pissed off by this time and they said to me, ‘What happened?’ and I said, ‘I got injured, the people looked after me.’ I gave them the names of the people that looked after me in Pargny-sur-Saulx, ‘cause I knew that. Though I never knew anyone. I told them their names because they were making a reference in case that happened again. They were ‒, so they sent me back to intelligence and I was pissed off. There was a pilot officer there who was insisting that I account for the revolver that I’d taken, typical, he was what we called a nine day wonder, you know, he’d never fired a shot in it and he really pissed me off and so when we went in, I went, we all went through, but I went to [unclear], and I just said, ‘I got shot down, I hurt my back.’ Finally we got together again and picked up, so alright, the next morning I woke up and I couldn’t walk, just couldn’t walk, so they [telephone rings], yes, where was I? I woke the next morning and couldn’t walk and so they got an ambulance and they sent me all the way up to a place called Holloway [?] which was, that was an exclusive girls school, beautiful grounds and all the place was being used as a hospital. There were blokes there that had various accidents and treatments, all Air Force blokes, and they kept on telling me I could walk and I said, ‘No I can’t.’ Anyhow, so finally they told me that if I walk they’d have me on a train that led to London and we’d be taken to the States. That didn’t happen and so I was sent to this place and finally they came and gave me about ten or twelve days on my own in New York in a hotel, which they paid for, and finally they flew me to Los Angeles, and I got on a medicine plane, I can’t think of the name but it was well-known, passenger thing with the [unclear] and they ‒, with a lot of others, we were going back to Australia. We went fairly straight too and we landed in New Guinea. They did some trade there and went off and came back again and they picked us up, went to Queensland, Brisbane. We were there a few days and then came back to Melbourne, then got a medical certificate. In the meantime when I got there they later told me I wasn’t a warrant officer, they told me my commission had come through just before I got shot down and so I wasn’t a warrant officer, I was a pilot officer, but then from then on I had to go to a psychologist. You may have seen it and it’s only just come up again but years ago I saw that photo of a girl naked running, you know, from the Vietnam War and that upset me at the time. Then a few months ago when they started advertising they were doing the Vietnam War on the TV and I saw it and then I was really crying and I woke up the next morning and I felt that I’d done that to the girl, you know, now I look back and I know it wasn’t bombs, it was napalm. Anyhow, so I went to a psychologist and I’m still going. I’ve had eight trips and I’ve got two more to go and then have a break because she’d broken the cycle. Well I turned then, that girl that I imagined that while dropping the bombs on Germany, I’d dropped the bombs on that girl. I got two more things to go and that should be it because I’m not having that dream. When I first came back I had to see one because I was dreaming that I was in the plane on fire, that was OK, but I couldn’t get out of the door and that was horrible and then I had another one, years later, another nightmare, that I had jumped out and was on fire but I was in a parachute and I was looking down and my legs were there and my head was there and so that’s when I went and saw her the first time and she’s got rid of that, now she’s two more goes and I’ll be rid of that. It’s horrifying how realistic it is, you know. In my dreams I was holding on to that little girl and I could feel her hand in mine and, you know, ‘I’ll look after you, I’ll look after you, don’t cry,’ and they took me to a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, psychologist. She said she had attended that girl and that girl now lives in Australia. That was rather interesting but that wrapped up, then I went to ‒, when they found out I was a pilot officer they gave me officer of the guard at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and there’s a whole lot of blokes like me that came back, aircrew, and they were getting all the night stuff and so on. I felt pretty crooked about that. Now there are prisoners there that had cells. One of the prisoners wanted to see the religious bloke (what do you call him?), the chaplain, and I said to the other bloke, ‘What happens there?’ He says, ‘They send him up, there’s no hat [?], send him up, and wait outside and bring him back.’ So I went up and this bloke says to the other two blokes, ‘Look, I’m going to be here quite a while, you know.’ So they went off to the NAFFI you see, we’d called it in England, having a cup of tea, biscuits and anyway this assistant programme manager came along and I saw this bloke, who had finished, and he waited for this guard to come, and I got into a lot of trouble over that. I went down and he said, ‘Who’s that? Are you the officer of the guard?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I want you to come here,’ I said, ‘What rank are you?’ He said, ‘Flying Officer,’ I said, ‘Well, I’m not moving a bloody step mate. If you want to see me you come here and see me.’ Next thing I know the group captain who was in charge, in charge of the contingent [coughing], I went there and in my case I completely diverted him because, you know, I said, ‘I want a court martial,’ he said, ‘You want what?’ ‘I want a court martial because all us blokes coming back are getting all the dirty jobs and the blokes here who are permanent Air Force they’re getting home,’ and I said, ‘It’s not fair.’ So yeah, I was cut up but I got out of that. But while I was at the MCG I got a telegram saying, ‘Flight Lieutenant Kelly please report to the adjutant.’ I reported to the adjutant. What the hell? The bloke said ‒ I said, ‘I’m not a Flight Lieutenant’. He said, ‘Well, you’re going to be.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘They’re sending you to New Guinea to be a wireless connector.’ I didn’t know but you probably did, they decided here in Australia that all the ex-bomber command would go because they’d had Lancasters which they aren’t going to be able to fill, you know, in the air and that and I was supposed to be going up there and I said, ’I’m waiting for medical discharge,’ you know, and I was, and I got my medical discharge and then I had a pretty tough six years but then I came through [cough]. Now I’ve -, two years ago, I’m going to mention that when I landed I landed on my right foot and I lost three centimetres or three quarters of an inch in height [unclear] and there was nothing much they could do about that so I learned to use it and in here, in my bedroom now, I tripped and went into the wardrobe and smashed my hip. That was in 2012. Now when he finished that my knee was still short but not as short. Then just recently, this year in August, I had a new knee put in and I’m going round that now. I banged my car into a post here in the driveway and [unclear] I’m ninety-two so I got ‒, sold the car on e-bay, and got my licence back and then I applied to get my refund on my registration which I got and on my insurance which I got. But now I’m absolutely [unclear] without any [unclear]. We get fed down there. But we get one piece of fruit and it’s not great, it’s not very good fruit so I go down and I buy a lot of stuff. I don’t cook, I’ve got my microwave, but fresh bread and fruit and things like that, all the salt and pepper, chilli sauce, and all those things they’ve got down there um, but I’m starting to feel ‒, not my knee, my hip and so this afternoon I’ve got to go into Frankston to get an X-ray of it and I think if there’s anything wrong with my hip I’ll go back to the doctor that did my knee, not the doctor, because the doctor that did ‒, yes, my hip I had to go back after three months and get it done it again. But it, it is ‒, because I’m walking not very well, I get very puffed walking because I’m out of condition, but they sent me to see an occupational therapist to see me three weeks ago and she insisted I needed a scooter, a mobile scooter, she recommended it to the [unclear] but I gave her a ring two days ago and she hadn’t heard anything yet [unclear] ‘I recommended you get one,’ she says, so that’s about where I am.
AP: That’s a stunning story. That’s ‒, this is the ninth interview I’ve done so far and I’ve been sitting here for about an hour and I haven’t said a word. That’s an absolutely spellbinding story. If you’re still happy to go on I’d like to fill in a few details, particularly of your earlier service leading up to getting onto operations. You’ve told me, I think, in probably as much detail as you’re likely to about what happened in France. I’m still very interested about that but I’d like to cover some of the other stuff as well [unclear] I’ve lost that microphone. There you go.
DK: We were in France this year, a chap took us to a house and when we entered he said, ‘I was living in in that when you people bombed it,’ and he said, ‘You missed it.’ So then he sent that to Den and he said, ’My father died and I was looking through all the stuff and I found a book.’ And he said, ‘That’s the cover of the book.’ Now that’s exactly us, yes, so he’s posting the book out, all in French, and I’ll have to get it back.
AP: That’s fantastic. Alright, so I’ll give you this so we can keep going. We’ll have a look at all your stuff once we’ve finished having a chat I think. So why did you pick the Air Force?
DK: Because I wanted to fly and, you know, when they told me I had no depth of perception but I didn’t tell you one of the things that I forgot, Tom, who was our pilot, I used to ‒, he used to let me fly, and finally after many, many runs he gave me a chance to land. I landed. I then found out I’d got no depth of perception [laugh]. I landed sixteen feet above the runway and the tower [unclear], ‘Go round, do more, three circuits and [unclear] never know how you go on operations.’ Tom said, ‘You bastard. You’ll kill me.’ [Laugh] That’s the first time around. My son wanted to go in the Air Force, got checked, he’s got no depth perception, exactly the same as me. His [emphasis] son went and got his pilot’s licence, he didn’t go in the Air Force ‘cause he couldn’t afford the thing to become a commercial pilot, but so, but my son said he was colour blind too. I said, ‘I wasn’t colour blind.’ So that’s something. Now here’s something people love, it’s come to me from France. A chap who, he talked to us all the trip, did the interpretations and that, and he and I learnt a lot. All of a sudden that came back, now he’s done that himself, people have seen it, ‘You’re a poof’, [laugh], no, that’s PO [laugh]’ with the roundel and then that.
AP: Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course.
DK: With that writing and all. I thought that was very funny that was. I made it.
AP: Fantastic.
DK: If you open that there, just tip it out, it won’t hurt.
AP: It makes an interesting noise by the way [metallic background noises]. That’s outstanding. So just for the tape what I’m holding at the moment are three pieces of Denis’s Lancaster shot down. It looks like it was recovered from France in 1982. I think we need a photo of that later on. That’s unbelievable.
DK: And my son now, as a result of our trip, they gave me a big piece about that long and about that wide of the plane, all concertinaed, they sent it back to us so I gave it to my son because I’ve got nowhere to put it.
AP: Yeah. Very cool
DK: [unclear] big place.
AP: Very cool. You did your initial training schooling, you said, Victor Harbour.
DK: Victor Harbour.
AP: Can you tell me something about that?
DK: Yeah, it was very interesting because we all got on the Adelaide Express. Not all of us were going there. I was crooked [?] on it because I’d had initial training down at er, ‒
AP: Somers it was.
DK: Somers, yeah.
DK: Somers isn’t far away from where we’re sitting, by the way, just for the tape.
DK: Yeah, so I was crooked. Anyhow, we got the train over there and were going to Victor Harbour. We didn’t know where we were going. Victor Harbour didn’t mean anything to us. We got on a train and we got to this place and it was a big ‒, we called it the castle, it must have been a huge mansion and got there and then they told us we had to get our paillasses out. None of us really knew what a palliasse was and this regimental sergeant major warrant officer as it was said, ‘What are you doing? Fill your palliasses.’ So I says, ‘Where?’ [Laugh] ‘Oh, what have I got there?’ So we did it, and it poured like mad this first night and the water was running under the things. So that wasn’t so bad but we had rain but anything that you had on the ground got wet. But we had this raised floor so you could hear the water running under it. Yeah, so then we got our inoculation and I went there at four o’clock in the morning. I saw him, they found me swimming around in the mud just like I’d done in France, but I was delirious and they put me in hospital. That was the needles that I got that ‒. It didn’t give me that but it started ‒. I never had that again. But I had the mishap, of course, I missed four days in hospital. That was twenty-nine course so I ended up on thirty course.
AP: At Ballarat you were doing wireless training?
DK: Yes.
AP: That’s the first time you’d got on an aeroplane?
DK: Yes.
AP: What did you think of that?
DK: So it was quite funny because we were getting a message and having to hand the message to the pilot and the pilot took no notice. Half the time we passed that and we were on to the next one but we were learning how to do it. I thought that was quite good. The gunnery is the thing that got me. In a Fairy Battle, we stood up in the Fairy Battle, and had a go at shooting things from behind but, no, in a way I got into trouble in Ballarat. It actually helped me because we used to come [cough] and er ‒catch the train, a steam train it was, then we’d get back to Melbourne. We’d get on the train in the afternoon and get back to Melbourne and then had to go back Saturday night. And my wife and I [unclear] we arranged this, that I would wait outside the platform until the train went and then rush in and say, ’Oh my God.’ Because there was no train on Sunday so I knew I’d have Saturday, Sunday and Monday to get back. No, I didn’t care about the consequences. It was good and anyhow I’d rushed there and said, ’Oh I’ve missed the train!’ The RTO, railway transport officer, said, ‘I’ll get my car and catch it up and [unclear].’ ‘Oh Lord, no!’ [Laugh.] Anyhow it was too late and I walked in there, back there, and the guard getting in the cab on the Monday, and the guard had me there, took me in a ‒, it wasn’t a cell, a holding room, anyway I had to go to the CO and the CO gave me seven days kitchen duties and that meant getting up at five o’clock and get going [cough] excuse me, and late at night drying and washing greasy dishes and that. Anyhow after only two days an edict came through that no aircrew were to be given KO [?] kitchen duties. So I had the wireless so-and-so. I learnt more about this radio than the other things so I came out near the top. And I never would have done if it wasn’t for the extra so-and-so and it was something that worked in my favour.
AP: Very good. And you were married before you joined up?
DK: Yeah, I got married when I joined up. My father wouldn’t sign the thing. Finally when I was eighteen he said, ’You got it.’ I said, ‘Why dad?’ He said, ’Because you’ll be in the Air Force and likely to be killed and you’ll leave her alone and maybe with the baby.’ I said, ’No, come on.’ Finally, I said, ‘Look dad, if I’m old enough to go to war I’m old enough to get married,’ I said, ‘I’m eighteen, I can.’ He said, ‘Son, that’s a mistake,’ he said. Anyhow, of course when it finally came through my wife was pregnant. Well actually she’d had the baby and I was, you know, missing in action. [Unclear] knew it would happen. But I came back and it was good. So, there’s my wife.
AP: I think I saw the photo there.
DK: Yeah, that’s it.
AP: Great photo. That’s before you left Australia.
DK: No, that’s when I came back.
AP: When you came back, yeah, that’s a three or four year-old child there. Fantastic. Alright, so you’ve gone across, you’ve got your wing, your [unclear] in Australia and then you went across overseas.
DK: Yes, embarked.
AP: Yes, embarked. Yep and went across. What did you think of war-time England? General impressions.
DK: Well, it wasn’t much then because, you know, we were just the aircrew that had gone to Bournemouth, that’s where they shot it up and we’d gone to Brighton. At Brighton we er ‒, I was never much of a drinker of beer and one night we went out to a pub and the blokes, there were three of us, the other two were drinking, I said, ‘No.’ I’d had enough so I started walking back and I got belted up by a Canadian army bloke, two Canadians, no reason but from then on in Brighton every Canadian and Aussie had a go at each other. Now the thing I ‒, I didn’t see that much of it. When I flew in England I was surprised at how big it was. I didn’t think there was any space there, even now, but there’s plenty of space there, but er ‒, when the bombing came along that made some difference. I’ll tell you a funny story off the record, that Tom Davies always used to go to London for his leave and he was a great womaniser and beer and he got his chick, he said, in a hotel and he said, ‘We were both stark naked and one of the bombs hit the road and hit places on the other side and hit the front,’ and Tom said, ‘The next thing I know there was a [unclear] man poking his head up and saying, ‘Good God, you must be a Yank or an Aussie.’ He said, ‘We were both there, I didn’t know her name.’ He said he just picked her up. Their clothes were just gone, their bedclothes were, ‘We were singed,’ and he said, ’I don’t want that ‒.’ Oh he was ‒, I used to go because I wasn’t a drinker, I used to ‒, and I saw quite a bit of England a) because my mother was English and I ‒. People used to write in to the squadron wanting to have Australians on leave and so I went to Caernarvon, back to Caernarvon, I spent some time there. I went to Yorkshire. I went to Hull. They were the main places I went on my leave. We didn’t get that much leave because [unclear] but no I ‒, we used to take our rations and I got a lot of things from home, the condensed milk went down very well there, the plum puddings and biscuits they used to send over, and every now and again we’d get one from the people, they were volunteers that sent food parcels overseas. But no, I never liked condensed milk I didn’t think but when it was thick I used to get it out of the can, it was beautiful. We did a few silly things, Bill McGowan and I, we used to ‒, the bomb-aimer, we jumped out of our bedroom and we were boarded together and we were cold at one stage and decided we’d put some coal in the ‒, I forget what they called them, but it was a stove with a pipe out the top stuck in the middle, and Bill went along, there was a railway line by the side, picking up the coal together. We thought, ‘How are we going to get it started?’ And so what happened? I had the great idea of getting one of the flares from the aircraft. Put it in and started it alright [laugh]. But we got into a lot of trouble over that. It happened to be a green one [laugh]. But no, I enjoyed it. I liked meeting the people. They were like me and you. The Yorkshire people, he was a farmer and outside Hull, and at one stage he ‒, they dropped their bombs, the Germans, he must have had a hang-up [?] in his premises, killed a couple of cows I think. But no, I liked England and when I went back I liked it even more. Let’s see [background noise] that thing [unclear]
AP: So this is again for the tape. An article from a magazine called “After the Battle’’ which is about Denis’s trip to ‒. It looks like his war-time career and return to England. Very nice.
DK: Yeah, they spent a lot of time with me actually, they took us up to Waddington and I had a meal in the officers’ mess and then down to ‒, where’s the thing in the south? It’ll come to me in a minute, you can see I’m aging. Where POF is. Actually there’s something I can say now, I’m the only person in the world that’s flown in both planes on D Day. So let me put it another way, there’s no one alive that’s flown in POF and was ‒, went to POS, which is in Hendon.
AP: That’s the two Lancasters in London. Fantastic. I remember seeing both of them on the same day a couple of years ago. I’ve never flown in them.
DK: Well, I’ve been in both of them.
AP: On the same day as well? [Laugh.] Very good. I’ll add that to the pile. That’s fantastic. Well, I think you’ve pretty well covered what you did on leave, when you stayed with families.
DK: I didn’t get into any trouble, I believe. A. I was married B. I didn’t smoke and C) We used to get the aircrew in England got American cigarettes once a month, a carton of them. The crew used to go to a pub, we’d pick up the night ‒, the ground crew, and take ‘em out for a beer and a couple of packets of Lucky Strike and you could drink all night on them ‘casue they were very precious in England.
AP: You talking about Caernarvon earlier. Personal question for the tape. There was, so my connection, my great uncle was also at Caernarvon for a while. A few years ago I went there myself. There’s still an active airfield there and I hired a little aeroplane and I went for a fly around. It was pretty cool. Why I mention it is because, what were the weather conditions like at that particular time? I remember it as being very cloudy and very, very windy.
DK: Yeah, yeah. I took to Manchester and places like this. Personally, what got me was the grandmother, for some reason she had lost her boys, and they were dead poor. There was a girl there, Mary I think her name was, and she didn’t know much about the world so the grandmother got ‒. I’d already been to Caernarvon, but this was on leave going back, and I went there this girl Mary took me all round Caernarvon, showed me the whole lot of it there. They were desperately poor, yeah, and I felt good at being able to give them the rations.
AP: Do you ‒? What sort of place did you live in while you were at that station? Can you remember that sort of detail?
DK: No, all I can remember that we had so much of this, what we called ‘rubber egg’ there [laugh] and Welsh rarebit. I do remember that. No, I didn’t like it. I liked Caernarvon Castle. We didn’t do much up there anyhow. We were just getting sort of introduced to the RAF and that there, I guess, you know. We were in an Anson hut, an Avro Anson.
AP: What did you do at your heavy conversion unit with your crew?
DK: Syerston.
AP: Syerston, I think you said Syerston. I’ve been there too. What did you think of the Lancaster the first time you saw it?
DK: Lovely, lovely, so it was big [emphasis]. But we’d been in a Stirling beforehand and the Lancaster was so much better. But we didn’t go ‒, we’d never been in the Halifax. And the Lanc was terrific, it really was. It could take off at 66,000 all that weight and it would still make it, it was manoeuvrable, and we never had engine trouble the whole time we were flying in that. We lost a lot of pilots as you know. I saw something the other day, it was on CNN, which I watch too, out of every operational thing from aircrew but there was a big casualty rate per cent, which was something like 55 or 66, one in every fourteen, I think it’s somewhere there. Anyhow, I’d got the information but it didn’t worry me ‘cause we’d done that and we’d come back from the last one we were doing. I thought the Air Force was good. I think the idea of the Air Force saved England. They [unclear] and led the way for the bombing of the thing, you know. I recently saw a speech by ‒, it was analysed where, Hess I think it was, said that the number of eight millimetre anti-aircraft guns they had to use was taken from the front, from the Russian front, you know, and the bombing just got to the stage where they couldn’t keep ‒. The thing that worried me, they almost got the atom bomb, the [unclear] heavy water I think, I’m sure of that, but no doubt mechanically the Germans were better at everything they made and they still is really good. But the Lancaster was really good, it could fly actually on one engine. We never had that, we only lost one engine, through a bit of anti-aircraft, shrapnel, you know.
AP: There was another question, ah yes, a sort of daily life question if you like. When you were actually on an operation as a wireless operator, what were you doing?
DK: Mainly you’re doing listening out because Bomber Command sent instructions to you and you had code. Doing that, then we got Monica and that was my responsibility and I did the IFF, the navigator ‘cause he was busy, you know, at that point. Only a couple of times did I ever have to, you know, a fix with the radio, but mainly listening out every half hour for this. One line, we were on our way and this came through and I couldn’t de-code it and I said to Tom, ‘I’m getting a message but I can’t ‒.’ ‘Jesus Christ,’ he said, ‘What do we do? Do we turn back?’ I said, ’No, I don’t think so’, and so we went on and then half an hour later we got that the chap that sent it had the wrong code book so everybody [unclear] and some went on and on and on and most of them turned back.
AP: It was actually intended to be a recall wasn’t it or ‒?
DK: Yes, yes, we had the wrong code.
AP: Whoops! But very rarely did you actually transmitted, I believe?
DK: Once only, we had to go out half an hour before the main group, take a barometric pressure and wind speeds and I had to do that and send it back. I’ve got to think where time and clock set and just stop today. It’s very personal but the psychologist said, ‘Can you think of anything where your life depended on it?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ [Laugh.] I said, ‘I’ve never sent so quickly in all my life and I hoped it was correct.’ But yes, it was good.
AP: Very good.
DK: We missed England one time coming back. We landed in Porter Down in Northern Ireland [laugh].
AP: Oh dear. Someone said to me once that navigation was easy because you just flew for the nearest cloud and England was underneath it [laugh].
DK: Yes.
AP: Very good. How and where did you live in the squadron, at Waddington?
DK: We had quarters there and I was with Bill McGowan. We had these bedrooms, if you can call them that, with two bunks in them, and we used to go to bed usually about four o’clock in the morning after doing all the trips and waiting to get in. I cheated in that. I put on Tom’s radio, which was only for local, onto the power of the ‒, and so he’d call up and we’d get a place in the circle well before we should have. The other thing we did too which was perhaps silly but turned out to be a good idea, because we took these blokes to [unclear], they had used to ‒, the ground crew. I had an old car and I used to fill it with hundred octane petrol because I saw them washing their hands in it but I ‒. Then you’d hear the next morning, ‘Wakey, wakey, rise and shine! The bombing’s on again tonight.’ So I said, ‘No!’ But no you never did three nights in a row. That was ‒. People ask me, how did you do it? My son asks me, you know, knowing and seeing things happen around you. When the CO got up at the end of the briefings and said, ‘There’s your route. There are a lot of you that aren’t going to be here tomorrow so make sure your personal things, anything you don’t want your wife, your sweetheart or your mother to see, make sure they’re not there.’ And then the other unwritten thing was anything there that was any good somebody took. When I got back [laugh] went back nothing was there. In fact, even the car was gone and my wife, she got the letter, and she didn’t know I had a car. I never did anything about it so I guess the RAF Benevolent Fund ‒. It was just an old Standard and nobody could use it because I hadn’t had the petrol and I had Tom have a look at it ‘cause he was learning as a motor mechanic and he couldn’t see but it just gulped petrol. Hundred octane was alright but if I’d ever got caught I’d have been in trouble because they didn’t know I were dipping.
AP: Oh dear.
DK: I enjoyed England. I didn’t enjoy the ops but everyone we did we said was stretching our luck, it’s time, but when the CO was saying this, you could see you were being missing [unclear] these poor buggers ‘cause they were looking at you, thinking, ‘ Poor buggers.’
AP: That’s no good. One thing, the question your son was asking, how did you cope with the stress of that? What sort of things did you do to er ‒, let off steam or what happened?
DK: Well we got up to a few things as a crew but for myself, that’s why I went to all these different places, which was completely relaxed, not going to London and drinking and, you know, all that. That was my way of relaxing. But I was uptight, there’s no doubt about that. But it was just at night you were focussed on that night and we were all confident with everybody else’s ability. That’s why I felt sorry for the rear gunner, he’d just turned nineteen, caught [unclear] that photo, no that, the big one.
AP: Ah, yes.
DK: Yeah, I think he’s right at the end. Yeah. Nineteen. He was a country boy, he’d never been with a woman, and so we told him at the end of the tour we’d take him to London and introduce him to a girl we’d pick up at a bar, or otherwise we’d buy one for him. So we started to call him Virg, you know, virgin, the poor bugger never made it. He was really looking forward to it and we used to tease him, you know, we’d say this is what you do and someone would say, ‘No, no, no. This is what you do.’ I said to him, ‘Look, it all comes naturally Col. Don’t worry about it.’
AP: That was actually supposed to be your last trip?
DK: Mmm.
AP: Oh dear. Not the first time that it happened I imagine. We’ve just about got to the end of my list here. You said you had a rough time for about six years after the war when you came back? How did you find re-adjusting to normal life? What did you do after the war?
DK: Er, I had what they called nervous dyspepsia and they reckoned I had ulcers so they’d given me ‘swallowing the snake’ we used to call it, down into the pit of your stomach. And I had to go privately to a ‒, a chiropractor, that’s right, ‘cause I’d had terrific migraines and did for years and years and years and finally I found a chiropractor at Burley [?] and I went down and he did a lot for my spine and neck and then I only got headaches, I didn’t get the bad migraines that I was getting. And I was getting restless sleeps, still am. My wife [unclear] two years, now that’s personal, but I came back and my wife was living with her mother in Elwood, in Anderson Street, and she brought Den up because my wife was four weeks younger than me, just four weeks, so she didn’t know much about it so she was living with her mum and when we went back we went there and the first night back Den was in a wheelchair, a baby’s chair, at the table and he was near Phil [?] so I went to bring him back to me, so next thing, she took it and took it back again. And I said to Phil, ‘What am I doing? Am I causing a problem? I’m the father.’ You know, the thing was Phil’s mother had five girls, never had a boy, and this Den was a boy of course, and that was part of it and secondly, she’d sort of brought him up for three or four years, so he was hers and she made it very difficult. She even got to a stage when I was at the MCG, on officer or the guard or some duty officer, her mother would find cinema tickets and put them in my pocket, the stubs, and then when it was going to the cleaners she’d pull them out and say look [unclear] she did everything. Anyhow, you know, when I got home I didn’t know whether to make love or turn my back and she was the same and I woke up one night and I had her round the throat, sitting on her, and shaking her, and that frightened me and I told one of brothers-in-law and at the time he was the manager of [unclear] gas works and had a new Austin. He just came up one day after I’d been discharged and said, ‘Ned,’ (everybody called me ‘Ned’ of course) ‘Ned, I want you to take this car now, pack up your stuff that’s yours and Phils and go. It doesn’t matter where you go but go.’ He’d seen the problem. So that did a lot. By the time we got back, we were naturally OK with everybody. We caught up with the things we did but my wife never knew any of the stuff that, you know. I didn’t write that until about fifteen years ago and it was Den who came to me and said, ‘Dad, you got grandchildren and great-grandchildren and you should leave your story.’ So, I don’t know what I did with it, I was looking for it [background noises]. Here it is.
AP: Fantastic.
DK: I wrote that [background noises] and my mate done ten copies.
AP: Wow!
DK: And that’s from beginning to end that one.
AP: I would love to read that. That’s amazing.
DK: It’s ‒. You want the whole lot of it?
AP: I would love to read it.
DK: Well, when you get to Chapter thirty-seven there are a couple of pages that are loose there because they were ones that were put in when my daughters were doing it, there was a numbering problem, so it’s only the first two pages in chapter thirty-seven, which is ‒, that’s where the real gaps are, from the moment I got shot down and to the moment I got back.
AP: I’d love to read that. That’s outstanding. So that’s why you’re doing interviews and things like that. I only met you an hour and a half ago and you’ve told me this amazing stuff. I’m absolutely humbled. Finally, my final question though. A more general question though. How? What legacy has Bomber Command left and how do you want to see it remembered?
DK: Well, I admire Bomber Command obviously because for me it started the problems with the Germans, so that they were out with the second front. The second thing was, the bombing on D Day was tremendous, you know. Thirdly, I think I changed from being a boy that was eighteen, to being a man when I came back. But the adjustment took more than people outwardly would know, I’m sure there’s some of them [?], but inwardly I never felt any guilt but lately I’ve felt the guilt but, you know, I used to have these nightmares, being on fire, which I was, but not being able to jump out and then the other one I’ve told you which I could see my body in parts on the ground. But no, we used to say, you want to be grateful, we’re sitting here and the flyers would say, ‘Geez, we’ve been shot down. Give us another one.’ But actually now with the drones ‒, and when I went May and June with Den last year Channel 2 were there to tape everything ‘ cause the whole time we were there everywhere we went they put ‒, and it ended up being 60 minutes, an hour thirty minutes on a 7.30 report. But the thing that did more for me was going back to France and meeting people. The little village Pargny-sur-Saulx was, you know, only a tiny little village. Now when I went back they’ve got a mayor and a city hall and they gave us a mayoral dinner and ‒. I’ll keep on talking to you while I get something.
AP: That’s alright.
DK: And er, then we met the people and they made such a fuss of me, you know, and I just couldn’t believe it. [Background noises.] That comes out. That’s Pargny-sur-Saulx.
AP: It’s a small medallion, actually it’s quite a large medallion from Pargny-sur-Saulx. Cool. I love it. Very nice. The French do pomp and ceremony very well.
DK: Yes, well, I went over there with my son to sort of thank them and he wanted it too.
AP: That’s the microphone.
DK: Because I wanted to see it but he made all the arrangements and it went really, really, well and the people were so grateful, coming back, and one of those things in that stuff I’ve got is a copy of a French newspaper they sent me. That was my twenty-first birthday and it’s in the in French, somewhere in that stuff.
AP: That’s outstanding.
DK: It might be nearer the top.
AP: I’ll pull it out later I think.
DK: Yeah, it’s just two photos stuck together but that’s it, I’m just in the left hand corner. It was my twenty-first but somebody in France did it and then they put it in their paper years later and they sent us the paper, the paper just disintegrated, but the photos I have on the computer and I did photos of it but no, I, when I went back Den ‒ I don’t know, I’ve got literally hundreds of photos. But it wastThe first time I’d seen a drones, you see the [unclear] cameraman was using a drone all the time. You can’t get back to the site where the plane landed ‘cause it’s all swampy. That doesn’t worry me at all because if it hadn’t been swampy I don’t think I would have got back. You can’t get in there now. But somebody got in to get that and now this huge one they had, Jack collected it as a souvenir and he didn’t let anyone know he had it and then it came forth at one of the things ‒.
AP: Wow.

Citation

Adam Purcell, “Interview with Dennis Kelly,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 21, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/3441.

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