Interview with Arthur Hydes

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Interview with Arthur Hydes

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Arthur Hydes grew up in Ingham and his family were closely involved with the life of the RAF camp during the war, watching the airfield being built and operations from there. He talks about the village before, during and after the war, including schooldays, shops and people he knew. Arthur also remembers his parents welcomed the airmen into their home and he would play the piano, being concerned about their futures after the war and how much colour he can provide to the history of the village.

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01:07:22 audio recording

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IBCC Digital Archive

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

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SRAFIngham19410620v020001-Audio

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GB: Lovely. Great Stuff. Morning Arthur.
AH: Morning.
GB: Could you, first of all before we start, could you just tell me your name and where you were born please?
AH: I was born in Wyberton, near Boston, name’s Arthur Hydes, born at Wyberton. After about three weeks my parents moved up to Ingham, and we moved into Jubilee Terrace, number five, and I lived there, on and off, till I was twenty one.
GB: What are your early memories of Ingham, the village of Ingham itself?
AH: There was nothing [emphasis] like there is now. You take from the corner of the village, where all the bungalows are on the corner, right the way up to the crossroads and there was nothing. The only thing going up that side was the village pump and that was opposite Middy’s sweet shop; that was the only thing on the left hand side of the road going out towards Lincoln.
GB: When you say the pump, do you mean the filling station, the petrol station?
AH: No, the village pump. One time there was just, er, I know there was two village pumps, there was one there, opposite the sweet shop, and the other one was down west end but that was dismantled when the council houses were built and that was way after the camp was built. [Kettle boiling]
GB: Okay, and you obviously went to school there at, in Ingham, can you tell us a little bit about that?
AH: Yeah, the headmaster was Mr Crosby, quite strict [chuckle], Miss Robinson did the juniors and Mrs Landy did the nine to eleven, and Mr Crosby did the eleven to fifteens. The thing I remember about Mr Crosby was the day war ended, as you stand in the village, wherever you stand in the village, down west end, you can see, where you can see the school, right up near the church, you can see down the village, you see the school, the day war ended he opened his curtains and you could see two shining lights, one pointing, one was pointing down towards west end, if you have a look, you go and look, and you’ll see the two windows of his house and those was only two lights we could see cause we’d no electricity in the village till, well the camp brought the electricity to the village.
GB: Did it really!
AH: Yeah. There was nothing, there was no electricity, and of course there was no street lighting, and somewhere, I shall have to look, I’ve got the old meter reading bill that my parents had but it was about eight by four, something like this, I think they read it about every quarter, and somewhere I’ve got it but I don’t know where it is, but if I come across it I’ll bring it and show you it.
GB: So before the camp brought electricity, what was the lighting? Was it gas, was it candles, oil lighting?
AH: Oil lighting, and candles. Used to go to bed with a candle. [Chuckle]
GB: It won’t matter cause we can edit, one sugar and milk please, thank you very much, thank you.
AH: The main lighting was your paraffin lamp and, but most of the kids went to bed with a candle.
GB: So did you tend to have more than one paraffin lamp in the house, or was it one that was moved around room by room?
AH: Couldn’t afford too many, you moved it around!
GB: No, right. So it was paraffin not oil then. Right, okay. What else was in the village at this time? Were there many shops in the village?
AH: We had three shops: there was Tom and Fred Hays, they, we used to call it top and bottom shop, one is, let’s see, don’t know what it is now, near the old surgery, and the other one, it’s been all sorts. It’s been, was a fish shop later on, but Tom Hays, and Mr Hipkin used to have the one just near the, well it’s Inn on the Green now, er, he used to have that and he used to have a little old van and he never used to go very quick cause we’d run up the street and follow him and keep pace with him, he was, he never had it much speed, one of the real old vans it was, with the oval window inside.
GB: So was it, is that probably on one of the houses just before you get to the Inn on the Green is it?
AH: There was the Inn on the Green then there’s a house stands back a little bit, and the next one is end on, I think at one time it would have been a chapel, though it was converted into a shop and Mr Hipkin, he had that for years, I think when he finished it was made into a house.
GBL And were there many other things like possibly the Post Office or a Bakery or anything like that?
AH: The Post Office was just off the green behind where the village hall was, and it was Mr and Mrs Wilson who ran that. Erm, there was a fish shop and that was just at, what they call it now, do you know where Gloria and David Twell live?
GB: Yes, yes.
AH: Yeah, and then that was the middle, the sweet shop next door to them, and in that yard was a fish shop.
GB: Oh. And was the petrol station there during the war, or the petrol pumps?
AH: Er, no, the petrol pump, there was a petrol pump opposite where the Co-Op was. The old garage there, it’s not there any more now, but that was the petrol pump, and at the side of it was the cycle shop, because then you get the house that stands back, that was, there was a stable, and connected to the house, where my parents finished up. I’ll show you some plans of that house, as it was, and as it is, well, not as it is now cause it’s been altered again since my parents bought it. Yeah, the three pubs as you’ve got now, of course it was the Inn on the Green was a [indecipherable] Britain then, and a couple called Mr and Mrs Ward. Mrs Ward she was lovely, she was big lady, lovely laugh, and she always had a smile on her face. And the other one was Menzies. That’s changed hands quite a bit really, but in the war time it was Menzies.
GB: That’s what, that’s the Black Horse is it, that we’re talking about, yes?
AH: Yeah. Mum and dad I used to go there and I used to go and sit in the back room [laugh] cause kids weren’t allowed in pubs then.
GB: You said there was a third pub.
AH: That’s the Windmill, up on the cliff top.
GB: Oh, the Windmill, up on the top, yes, yes.
AH: I can’t remember who had that, but.
GB: Again, I’ve seen some old photographs - please come in, if you, where would you like me to, er? Thank you very much.
[Other]: [Whisper] ‘Scuse me.
GB: No, that’s okay. That’s the nice thing about films, we can edit out the bits that we don’t. [Laughter]
[Other]: Thank you very much! [Laugh]
GB: [Laugh] Thank you, sorry about that.
[Other]: Can I sit here and listen?
GB: Thank you, lovely. I have seen one or two old photographs when we talk about the Windmill, where that used to have petrol pumps at the front but that might have been, was that pre war.
AH: I can’t remember that.
GB: Probably before that then; they were out at the front of the station. So going back down into the village, obviously you were saying that out on the, what is the Lincoln road, so the council houses were all built after the war were they?
AH: Oh yeah, yeah. There was absolutely nothing. From that corner, cause from where the corner is now, I’ve got a picture painted of the village in 1945. Mrs Bailey, she lived in the village while her husband was in the forces and when he came out they was going to sell up and move back to Manchester, but they did, they had this painting of the village and it shows you the, from the post box looking up towards the village and you can see the corner with the gate into the field where all the council houses were built, bungalows and there was nothing.
GB: So that includes Church Field and all of that, that was all.
AH: Church Field, that was it.
GB: It was all built after the war.
AH: Yeah, and also, at the beginning of the war that was a bowling green in that field.
GB: Oh crikey!
AH: If you go to the front of the, front of the old vicarage and go out onto the lawn and look left [emphasis], that’s, I mean that’s just at the end of the field and that’s where the old bowling green was.
GB: That’s fascinating, I mean I’ve heard one or two stories and I’ve read one or two things about Ingham, but I hadn’t heard about a bowling green.
AH: Yeah, we had the bowling green there and then after the war it was behind the Black Horse and then we started another one up about 19, 1980, on Mr Wilson, er, tennis court. He come up to me and said I can’t play tennis any more Arthur, how about having a bowling green. So we started Ingham Bowling Club on his tennis court and of course now it’s on, it’s got the one now down on the village.
GB: Indeed, yes. So when the RAF obviously moved in and decided, as well as the airfield at the top when they started building in the village, was that at the same time as the airfield or was that after the airfield started?
AH: No, they started there and all right, call it lucky house, I was lucky cause the parent, me father worked for the, all the camp, and they took all the topsoil and grass off there, in the village, and took it onto the camp and laid it on the bad patches for the runways, up on the camp. And as a lad, course I was on the tractor with him! I mean couldn’t do it now: health and safety. You got away with murder then! And he’d take it up, lay it down and they had a small diesel roller and I’d go up there at weekends and if it’s holidays, and if you were rolling and you wanted a sandwich, I’d get on and I’d roll it for him. I were very lucky really. But what fascinated me about the camp as a lad, was somebody said they’re building a hangar, well the only hangar I knew about was when you hang anybody, and I said what is it? Course us lads, we went up to see what was on it and it was the one that was near the windmill and we were fascinated, this massive great thing, what’s this for? That was one of the first things I remember about the camp and then they started building all the huts, Nissen huts and everything, down on the camp in the village. Course there was the gymnasium and the cook house and all the facilities for feeding them and they used to have a film show, and we, I think it was on a Tuesday evening, the village people was allowed to go on the camp to see a film.
GB: And that was down in the village, the camp in the village.
AH: That was down in the village, at the camp in the village.
GB: So that in itself was quite a, especially for the children, it must have been amazing.
AH: Well, we’d never had anything, if you wanted anything like that you had to go to Lincoln.
GB: Have your own cinema, that was, yes. As children, while they were building the camp in the village, were you allowed to kind of go on and climb all over things or, because we obviously didn’t have health and safety did we.
AH: There was no health and safety, we just wandered round we was told to get out of the way. But we were, the Polish lads, they looked after us kids in the village, I mean we’d over the fence and tapping on the window and cakes passed out of the kitchen windows.
GB: And did, I’ll bring it in at this point, there was a, we’ve interviewed a lady called Zosia and she lives in erm, Derby and she was one of the cooks, who was actually in the messes during the war, she’s Polish, and she’s still alive, and we went to see her a few months ago and had a chat with her. But she married a Polish Air Force policeman and they actually lived in Jubilee Terrace and I wondered whether you remember them? She had a baby, must have been towards the end of the war, and it was, in fact it must have been just after the war because it was one of the bad winters, and she went to Gainsborough hospital and ended up staying there for a whole month because she couldn’t get back, but they were -
AH: Well it’ll have been ‘48.
GB: I’m not sure.
AH: ‘48 was a bad winter.
GB: But I’m wondering whether it was another winter earlier than that, but she was actually, she and her husband, were allowed because they were married, and they had a, and she was pregnant they were allowed to live off the camp, as in not in the barracks, but she lived in one of the little, one of the ones on Jubilee Terrace.
AH: I can’t remember that. So Mrs Store, Miles, Bowring, [sigh] Marshall, Hydes, Barratt, Bristow, Lucy, Rhodes, oh yeah, yes, that’s a point, yeah, there was Granny North but she died, and I bet that was, yeah, she lived in the end one where Granny North lived.
GB: Possibly so then, I’ll have to look back at the recording for that. Yes, so they were there, so she was a Polish cook, obviously in [beep] the Polish Air Force and he was, either a corporal or a sergeant in the Polish Air Force Police side of things and he had a moustache and smoked a pipe. I’m sure you won’t remember those details, but. So once the, all of the RAF buildings in the village were complete were you still allowed to go on there or was there a lot more?
AH: No, the only time we ever, well, I say no, I said, we used to hop over the back fence but you never went in [clock chime] the front gate, you never got in the front gate where, I think it’s still there, the main entrance to the estate there.
GB: Yes, cause you’ve got Saxon Way and Glebe Close, which was, where was the main entrance? Was it somewhere in between them, because obviously it’s all been built on now, hasn’t it.
AH: It was Dickinsons had that bungalow built. It’s more central of the estate, other thing was a car park back at it.
GB: And I understand, I think, I spoke to Elsie Dickinson.
AH: Oh Elsie, yes
GB: And she tells me some stories from the – I think she came in the early fifties, to Ingham. She obviously used to run the Scout group or Cubs or something like that.
AH: Cubs, yes, cause initially Mr Crosby, he ran the Scouts, and they just had Scouts and Cubs and then er, when he died, er, Bert Gill, he took over the Scouts and that’s where, I think that’s when Elsie took over the Cubs.
GB: And do you, and I know I appreciate it’s right on the edge of the village, where obviously the Twell’s house was built on the corner, but that used to be the medical and sick quarters right outside.
AH: Twell’s house wasn’t there.
GB: No, no, that whole piece of land was the sick quarters. Did you ever get to cycle or walk out that far out of the village?
AH: Oh yeah, actually the, after the war, that was, they called it Tin Town, but people in there said no it’s not, it’s flower gardens! [Laugh]
GB: Because a lot of the Polish families and things actually settled in there, they made houses out of the Nissen huts. Did you get a chance to go up and have a look round there, yes?
AH: Yes, there was Phil Denton, he lives down Gainsborough way now, and he actually lived in one of them, him and his wife, lived in there to start with.
GB: Oh right, when he was obviously a child at that time, with his parents I presume.
AH: No, he was a bit older than me and he got married and moved in, into there.
GB: Right, well that’s fascinating. I know there’s another lady in the village who married one of the Poles, Margaret Schmietser?
AH: Mrs Schmeier.
GB: Yes, Schmeier, or Schmeitser?
AH: She lived, well, on Jubilee Terrace, she lived next door to me.
GB: Did she! Right.
AH: Lived next to her.
GB: I think she initially, because she had three sons and I was talking to her a couple of years ago.
AH: Charlton, Dale and, um.
[Other]: Alan.
AH: Alan.
GB: Two of them were actually born in what we call Tin Town. I think Dale might have been the younger one. Obviously she met Jan right at the end of the war.
AH: Her dad wasn’t all that happy about it. And she used to go down to Lucy, that’s two doors away, and she’d go down and see Lucy and Jan used to come down see her. [Laugh] Love conquers all!
GB: Yes, indeed. What was the, bearing in mind most of the RAF people that were in Ingham were Polish, how did people in the village take to them?
AH: Great. I mean all right, I mean we got involved, I got involved more with them than some of the kids because dad worked on the camp, mum was on the WVS and on a Friday or Saturday night they had the bottom half of the old village hall and they put, they’d have, well tea and coffee, and when the lads left the pub they would always nip there for a coffee before they went home. But us lads, Saturday morning, we used to be straight down and look under the village hall because nine times out of ten they’d come out with a bottle in their hand and got to the village hall and threw the bottles under the village hall, and went in there for a coffee before they went in the camp. And we went down Saturday morning, got the bottles and take them back to the pub got a penny on them! [Laughter] But one, one Saturday morning, went down and blow me there was four full bottles! They’d put them in under there and they forgot about ‘em and gone back!
GBL So you and your mates.
AH: We didn’t drink them all, took ‘em home. Can’t remember if dad gave me anything for ‘em but.
GB: What did your father do on the camp?
AH: He was just general labouring and to start with he was doing jobs round the camp.
GB: Was that down in the village or up on the airfield?
AH: Well, on both. Then he finished up boiler man and he was in that section what you’re doing now, that was the old boiler house, and at a weekend I’d go up with him and I’ve actually slept on the floor there!
GB: Right, so, and you mentioned your mum was in the WRVS.
AH: Yeah. And quite often you know, she’d shut up at night, she’d come home and some of the lads would come with her, we’d have a house full and they’d say where’s the lad, he’s in bed, get him up, let’s have a sing song, get me out of bed, get me on the piano, ten o’clock at night we’d be having a sing-song!
GB: You were playing the piano were you?
AH: Yeah!
GB: Oh, right, okay.
AH: So you know, we always had a house full of people, I mean neighbours never cared; they, you know, they was happy go lucky then.
GB: Well I can imagine yes, that during the war years you’d enjoy whatever fun you could get, and people didn’t, then again, whereas people lead very busy lives, and they kind of get up and go into one of the big cities to work, or towns to work, I imagine that most people in Ingham at that time probably worked, if they worked, within the village or on the land.
AH: Well yeah, because there was Dalton, pff, Sykes, Harrison, Deans; I mean, it was just farming community really. I mean a few people went into town, but a lot actually worked round the farms.
GB: Did you, obviously you’ve mentioned with your mates that you used to go up to the airfield, what’re your memories, obviously you talked about the first hangar you’d seen, probably the biggest structure you’d seen at that time in your life because I imagine even some of the farming sheds probably weren’t anywhere near the size of a hangar.
AH: I mean there was virtually, the only buildings up there, there was a little row of cottages near the windmill and the doctor’s surgery on the opposite side, but otherwise there was virtually nothing on the camp; in the middle of the camp of course, there was the old farm buildings there.
GB: Cliff House.
AH: Yeah, and I mean that was, that finished up petrol dump, didn’t it, cause we, you very rarely got across there. But we could get on to where the hangars were, on the, er, near the windmill.
GB: I’ve been asking questions, which we’ve seen some of the old drawings and maps that seem to show that the runway went right across Ingham Lane, from the top down to the A15, but we’re not quite sure.
AH: Yes. There were no road there.
GB: It was closed off during the war was it?
AH: It, actually, all there was there, you got to the top, the top of Cow Hill, just went across the road there, there was just a big tip there. If you go and dig now you’ll find all sorts in there.
GB: Was that on the left or the right hand side as you go over the top?
AH: Left hand side.
GB: On the left hand side, right, yeah.
AH: Just before the white ball. And no, I’ve sat on the roller with dad and we’ve rolled up that stretch of runway, cause they used to take off from both ways and also I couldn’t understand that er, that was built as well for emergencies, if the, Scampton got bombed, they could land on, they could land at Ingham and taxi across to Scampton from there.
GB: Couple of fields, yes. Because obviously a lot of the old maps, ’42 and ’44, that I’ve seen now, the Air Ministry maps, show the old Ingham Lane, but they show it completely blocked off. So obviously it must have been there before the war and then they just chopped off. So what was the road surface normally in that, was it still Tarmac, was it concrete roads before the war?
AH: No, tarmac cause the -
GB: So did they put stuff on top, did they put soil on top or did they just dig it, dig the road up?
AH: I can’t remember that.
GB: Obviously something there that you were rolling.
AH: I remember it being reinstated because Mr Miles who lived on Jubilee Terrace, he worked for the council, he was on the road roller, course we used to go up there and course I was on the road roller with him and I remember that road being redone; that was after the war.
GB: So yes, so obviously as boys then you were absolutely fascinated with the aircraft started landing and taking off from Ingham.
AH: Yes! We did there, we used to go to Scampton as well, we was there when the Yanks came in to Scampton. And when the Yanks, they adopted the Scout group and used to bring sweets and all sorts. So I mean we was lucky as far as the RAF was concerned, they looked after us kids in the village quite a lot.
GB: And certainly from a wider perspective if, if the RAF coming to Ingham was the thing that brought electricity to the village, I’m sure most of the villagers must have been delighted too actually.
AH: Not only that it was sewage as well, wasn’t it. We had no sewage, no flush toilets, no electricity.
GB: Because the sewage farm was built at the back of Tin Town wasn’t it. Yes, I’ve seen some of the things from that. So, obviously the Poles are very polite people and I’ve heard one or two stories where, and including yourself, where you’ve talked about them being invited into people’s homes, and they have their own customs and they’re very polite people. Would you say that was very true from what you remember?
AH: Yeah, I mean, well I used to go in the mess up at the camp if dad was on nights, and what fascinated me, they’d sit there sat with the poker in the fire then stir their beer up with the red hot poker! Fascinate me that did!
GB: Warm beer! Yes, very good. Ah! So coming through the war years, what other memories do you have? You’ve obviously talked about the cinema was there during the war years, on the camp down in the village, how would normal life be? Cause obviously you would be at school most of the time, when you finished school each day, what normally happened on a school day, you know, when you finished lessons and things?
AH: Well, I mean quite often we would go down the fields, especially at harvest time and it was fantastic. I mean a lot of our time was spent out and round about fields, course nowadays I don’t think the kids go down and make dens, I mean we just been round the country, you know. I mean we hadn’t a lot of money, couldn’t afford to go to town, and so you made your own entertainment.
GB: You mention that they had dances. Was that in the village hall or was that actually on the camp?
AH: No, that was in the village hall. I can’t, cause I weren’t old enough to.
GB: Get invited along.
AH: After the war they did have dances in the village hall cause the, I think the Gay Gordons, [loud voice] who was the other band, love?
[Other]: Pardon?
GB: [Loud voice] Who was the other band from Gainsborough?
[Other]: Len Emmerson.
AH: Len Emmerson, yeah.
GB: You can come and sit with us in here if you like! Please do. Would you like to come and sit. I feel awful, I’ve just realised you’re just sitting there, please, yeah.
[Other]: I’m just listening.
GB: We’ve obviously talked about the local people. You’ve said there used to be the old doctor’s surgery, where exactly was that? You’ve mentioned the one, there’s obviously a doctor’s surgery up opposite the Windmill pub, but there, there was something in the village was there as well?
AH: No.
GB: No? Oh, that was it.
AH: That was it. You’d got to be, well, you couldn’t be ill; you’d got to be fit to walk up the hill to do the three quarters of a mile to go to see the doctor! But no the doctor used to turn out because he was one of very few people who’d got a car.
GB: So he would come and see you.
AH: He’d come and see you. And mother was always involved with people round the village and quite often I’d get home from school, nip up to the doctor, nip up to the doctor, you know, Mrs so and so wants, got some medicine to be collected. So I’d be, used to be up that hill quite often; she volunteered me for lots of jobs.
GB: And I presume from what you were saying as well, being a bit of a poacher as well, you knew how to make a penny or two on the [laughter], you definitely strike me as somebody, as when you were a youngster, that could er, you were never short of a penny or two!
AH: The er, the first policeman, he was quite strict and, called Dixon, but after Dixon there was somebody called Cutts. I remember I picked up two rabbits, was walking home with ‘em, and I saw him coming so I threw ‘em in the dyke and bit later on I went back to get them and they’d gone. Next time I saw him he just looked, with a twinkle in his eyes, and hello Arthur. I thought you’ve had my rabbits! [Much laughter]
GB: Did he live in the village? Was there like a police station in the village, or a police house?
AH: Yeah, that was in the middle of the council houses in the middle going up, out on Lincoln Road.
GB: On Lincoln Road, yes.
AH: Detached, there’s a detached one in the middle there, isn’t there, if you look through the.
GB: I would have to go and have a look, but yes, past Elsie’s house and a bit further up from that. [Beep] Avenue entrance in the dyke and it’s one of the ones a bit further.
AH: Keep going up, there’s a bungalow, and the council houses start, two, four, two, four, six, yeah, there’s two, four six, and then there’s three semis, and then there’s a detached house on its own and the rest of them, likely to be the police house.
GB: We’ve got some, again we’re going back to the maps, cause that’s the main thing that we can draw a lot of our information from, behind where the camp and the village was, there was another set of Nissen huts, accommodation, but it was separate, and it’s, it looks like it’s accessible now, but the spot where it was, as you go halfway up Cow Hill there’s a bridle path off, which runs behind the new medical centre and doctors, and half way across that field, as if you were heading towards the Old Rectory House, it looks like there was a set of Nissen huts and accommodation there, can you remember any of that? It would have been behind the RAF camp. No?
AH: No. I can’t remember that. I know there was some there, but never got.
GB: Never got that far round. Have you any other memories at all from, especially from the war years, about the buildings that, and what was there, in the village, as far as the RAF goes? Because obviously that’s now all been completely flattened and built on, so it’s memories like people like yourself that can actually kind of put a bit of colour into what is very much a black and white picture.
AH: The Scouts, they had one of the Nissen huts for their headquarters after the war, when it closed.
GB: But during the war was it quite a, was the station buildings, were they quite a busy area during the daytime, a lot of people?
AH: Yeah. There was always troops going from the camp up to the, because I mean most of the eating and everything was down on the sites and up the top was just the flying, flying section.
GB: Up towards, and this is something that Margaret Schmietser mentioned to me, that up on the top road as you go towards Fillingham, the last set of Nissen huts, there’s like two rusty Nissen huts that are left from a whole group that were there, she was saying that at one point, and she couldn’t remember if it was the end or during the war right at the end or after the war, they were used as a cinema and a dance hall up there. Have you got any recollection of that, no?
AH: No, maybe, well, at the end of the war I mean I wouldn’t be dancing.
GB: No, exactly. How old were you at the end of the war, would you have been?
AH: Nine, ten, nine, ten.
GB: So you were still with your mates running about and cycling everywhere or wherever you went round the old airfield. Did it seem strange when the war, well, after the war had ended, when they, the RAF gave the airfield back to the farmers?
AH: Yeah, it was, be quite, I mean well I still kept in touch with one or two of them, but the Polish lads, a lot of them, they said that they didn’t know what they were going to, how they was going to get back, or whether they was going to be shot when they got back when the Russians got hold of them because the Russians and the Polish was at loggerheads then and Raymond, the lad who, well, he was very good friends with mum and dad, and he said if I can get, if I get back safe and I get a chance to contact you I will do, but we never heard anything. So we never knew what happened to him.
GB: Hmm. I know, I certainly know from reading some of the literature that the early Polish Air Force personnel that went back, more than the Polish Army that went back, the Russians were very um, very sceptical of them, and they thought they were possibly there to spy, so a lot of them did and I think about twelve did end up being shot and quite a lot were put into prison, which then stopped, word did get back quite quickly, and it certainly deterred a lot of the Poles from going back, which is why obviously the British Government.
AH: Yes, we’ve got Phil, Phil lived in the village.
GB: Yes, there’s one or two and they had the, I think it was the Polish Resettlement Act of 1947 allowed them to either stay in Britain or go to what was then the Empire countries and a lot of them obviously chose to go to Canada and South Africa as it was then, but a lot obviously stayed in Britain and that’s why we have so many of the families in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire. The jobs they could do were quite restricted though, there was, it was normally the steel industry or down the mines, those kind of were the only jobs, because obviously post war Bevan and that side of it wanted, you know, all the jobs for British workers so they found it very restrictive. There was a couple of other characters that, obviously Polish Air Force, there was a chap who apparently used to clean windows called Darkie Polack.
AH: Oh Darkie, yeah.
GB: Yeah, I don’t know if he lived in kind of Ingham or worked in.
GB: No, he lived in Ingham. Well you come up from the hollow, well you know where Elsie lives, the bungalow, there’s three or four houses just there; he lived in one of those.
GB: Oh right, but he did the windows, yes.
AH: Talk about, well I always remember one night it was, well I mean it was always pitch black in Ingham, and there was this big uproar, shouting and everything, and course dad got the torch and went out and two of the lads that were absolutely kalined and had walked past us, round the corner where the old vicarage used to be, and walked in [emphasis] to the village pond, [laughter], with no idea where they was; they were shouting for help.
GB: Is that the village pond, is that where there’s a small pond now? Is that, there’s like a little back row past Jubilee Terrace, that you go round the back part of the village, is that not the village pond.
AH: No, just in front of the church; the village pond was there.
GB: Ah right, in front of the church, right, okay.
AH: They’d come round the corner to go towards up the hill and they’d come round the corner and just walked into the pond.
GB: Into the pond!
AH: Somewhere I’ve got a photograph of the old village pond. I must get the.
GB: I’d be fascinated to see also, any old photographs that you had, taken around Ingham when you were a boy, just to have a little look at them, because what we’ve found is the number of photographs from one or two people, where one of their family or friends are in the front of the photograph and what we are always interested is what is in the back [emphasis] of the photograph. Um, it wasn’t Margaret, it was another lady that we’ve got at Fillingham now, who’d got some photographs of her husband and the farm workers up on the airfield straight after the war, because the main guardroom, which is almost opposite Church Lane, they actually lived in the guardroom there.
AH: Somebody else lived in the Nissen huts opposite them.
GB: Opposite, yes.
AH: Their name was Smith.
GB: I’m wondering whether it was, was Ray Beaumont part of that would he, or would have been too young wouldn’t he, Ray Beaumont.
AH: No, Ray Beaumont’s about the same age as me.
GB: Is he, and Arthur Melton was the other one who I spoken to you about. But whoever it was, they’d taken the photographs of the two young husbands, herding the cows in front and behind it is, obviously what was their house, but it was the old RAF guardroom, the main guardroom and that’s the only photograph I’ve found of the main guardroom. So it’s what’s in the background, and somebody else took a photograph, obviously I think in the very early fifties, of their new combine harvester but we’ve got the old buildings in the background, on the airfield which don’t exist any more, so it’s almost what’s in the background of the photograph which can be just, if not more, important to us than what’s in the near ground. We’ve just been speaking to um, Brian and Elaine Smith, that used to live up on the Green for many, many years. They’ve moved out to Dunholme now, but she’d compiled books and books of press cuttings and photographs and everything like that, and she’s just got one book which is all to do with RAF Ingham that she’d collected through the forties and fifties and that kind of era, so we’ve now got photographs that we never had before which is absolutely [emphasis] priceless. But there we are. And even Elsie, who was in the village I think she said about the early fifties she got married and moved into the village, she’s got huge scrap books.
AH: Yeah, she loves those scrapbooks didn’t she.
GB: But the scrapbooks, because she couldn’t get paper she’d use old wallpaper to make each of the pages up and then stick the things on, and most of hers were press cuttings, but it was everybody’s – typically - births, deaths, funerals, christenings, with the picture and bits on. So it went right the way back and she’d got a few photographs. And one of the photographs she was convinced, or she was trying to convince me, that was part of the old RAF site in the village, but they were like, almost, these building were the size of hangars. Now there’s nothing on the thing so I’m wondering if that’s farm buildings post war. And people were being driven.
AH: Yeah, because Lockwood, he did build a grain drier, and there was great big stores, yeah, there was a lot of big building, but there was no big building on there during the war.
GB: During the war no, they were all single story. And there was another one where all the kids were being taken round in the village, was it Bradshaw’s had a big lorry, or somebody like that? There was a lorry and all the kids, it was.
AH: No, that was Twell’s lorry,
GB: That’s Twell’s lorry was it?
AH: I’ll be on it somewhere!
GB: I’ll dig out that photograph and bring it round for you and show you. There was a lady.
AH: I should say I’ve got most of them!
GB: Ah right, probably, yes.
AH: I’ve got them from about 1930, 1930’s or something like that when they used to go round the villages in a horse and cart!
GB: I’d love, I would love at some point over a coffee, over your dining room table, to have a look at some of these photographs, if possible. Certainly the stuff from kind of the late thirties onwards, through the forties because again, as much as everything else, it’s interesting what’s in the background and having taken these photographs in the village, or your parents had done, or other people had done, they’re where we suddenly see things in the background that we didn’t realise.
AH: Can I just get.
[Other]: Arthur! You’ll not manage love, surely
AH: Pardon?
[Other]: You’ll not manage. Go on, up.
GB: Do you want me to help you?
AH: No, no.
GB: I’ll just turn this off for a moment. All kind of stuff, it doesn’t examination, go on.
AH: I went for, we used to go with for, not Alan Wright, his father, I mean Alan’s dead and gone now, but his father used to have the farm in the village, before Alan, and we used to take the cows, and there’s a wider verge on the left hand side coming up Cow Hill and we used to take the cows and just keep them tented on there just in case any cars come, well, very few cars came then and we used to get about sixpence a day for that! [Laugh]
GB: So you say you tented them?
AH: Well, looked after them.
GB: Corralled them.
AH: That’s what you call tenting cows.
GB: Right, okay. Ah, sorry, I didn’t know that. So you kept them on the verges.
AH: We kept them on the verge and so it’s fresh grass for them
GB: Right, okay, I’m with you, I understand now, yeah. I was about to ask why would you keep them on the verges, but obviously if the grass was a lot better than it was on the fields and things, yeah, and you were just making sure they didn’t wander into the road from the vehicle side of things. Did many people, certainly during the war years, did many people have cars or lorries in the village?
AH: No, no. I mean, no, tchh, even the, well I say, the only one we saw regularly was the [clock chimes] doctors. Even Twells, all right, a lot of people looking at the village and you see the scrap yard and the houses they had, well I mean even those, they started down west end and had a small scrap yard there, [clock chime] and during the war they got tyres and cut two, three inch rings out of tyres and they stuck ‘em round the village, sold them for fire lighters.
GB: Of course, yes! Cause once they were lit they don’t go out, do they.
AH: Mrs Twell, she belonged the WI, and she bought a tin sealing machine. They bought the tins, they cooked and she invited all the ladies down, they cooked all the fruit and everything and they tinned their own fruit so we were lucky. We had tinned fruit on a Sunday sometimes. Whereas I mean it was -
GB: Rationing during the war.
AH: Rationing, yeah, but well and I can see the machine now, you stood it up, put the machine on, ram this handle, it turned round and sealed the tin.
GB: So it was a kind of solder was it, did it?
AH: No, it bent it down.
GB: Bent it over.
AH: Bent it over and sealed it.
GB: Crimped it.
AH: No soldering to it.
GB: Do you remember well, as a boy, were you, did you actually get a ration card for yourself or did your mother keep all of that?
AH: Oh, she kept it. The only one I was allowed to get was the sweets.
GB: The sweets, and tell me a little bit about that, that sounds interesting. What did you get or what were allowed to have?
AH: Well, if there was two lads, you never, you didn’t told you’re going into Middy’s and buy sweets, because you’d go and get your selection but you wouldn’t have anything, but you never came out the shop without anything. She, Mrs Middy used to always give us other person some sweets, so if you’d bought something you wouldn’t have got anything free!
GB: Always went in as one on your own. Was there a shortage of sweets or could you still get sweets cause obviously -
AH: There was a shortage of sweets. The thing you could get most and quite regular was these Victory Vs, square lozenges, [chuckle] you could get them, but sweets, no.
GB: And chocolate, was there any chocolate?
AH: No. I remember getting chocolates, as I say, off the Yanks. They was the one who brought chocolates in to our village.
GB: What’s your other kind of memories now, because obviously you were, through the war you were at junior school age, although it was the same school at Ingham, so you are junior school age, what are your other kind of abiding memories of the war years as, as a junior school kind of age child?
AH: Well, I mean, it all used to be fun, football, and I mean they go on about school meals and everything now, well we got them and they was cooked and served in the village hall. And I mean I think, I can’t remember, only about two shillings a week, something crazy like this, you know.
GB: So you used to come out of school at lunchtime, get to the village hall to get your dinner, or your lunch.
AH: Yes.
GB: What did that normally consist of? Can you remember?
AH: No, but I used to hate it when it was sago. [Laugh] Sago pudding. Didn’t like sago pudding. No, I can remember quite reasonable meals.
GB: And did you, when you got up in the morning, did you have breakfast, and if so what kind of things did you have for breakfast?
AH: Yes, the, I mean if you wanted to, I mean I was getting into trouble, I was a little devil I expect really, sneak out of the house without gas mask and get to school but they’d send you back home [laugh] but um, oh crikey, and of course I think mum got wise to that, she’d make sure I took it every day.
GB: And I’ve heard that there were at least one air raid that happened slightly up on the cliff top near the airfield during the war, but did, down at the school did you have like an air raid shelter or anything for the kids? Nothing at all?
AH: No. One or two people in the village had these, not Anderson shelter, what’s the tables.
[Other]: Morrison.
AH: Morrison tables.
[Other]: Morrison shelter.
AH: It was just a metal table guard and you could crawl under that.
GB: And do you remember any of the air raids that happened, or was that not something?
AH: There was, I can remember a German plane got shot down and also at Scampton when the bomb trailer went up. It affected nearly every village, nearly every house in our village had windows broken even from the blast at Scampton camp.
GB: On Scampton, crikey.
AH: It was, I can remember this terrific boom going up and I don’t think my feet touched the floor until I got to my granny’s house, cause she lived down off the village green there.
GB: And this was in the day time was it?
AH: Yeah.
GB: And it actually broke windows in most of the houses.
AH: Broke windows and I mean Jubilee Terrace, if you look Jubilee Terrace windows are only small windows and even those were broken, cracked.
GB: Cracked. Blimey. And I understand there was at least one German aircraft that either dropped bombs or kind of strafed the airfield at the top, is that anything that you, can you remember?
AH: It was more towards Fillingham I think. It didn’t, I don’t think it got to the camp at the top of us, it was more towards Fillingham.
GB: Right, okay. Just going back on to the airfield for a moment cause I’m trying to kind of cover as many areas as I can as we chat on. You were saying that, obviously your father worked up on the airfield and down on the camp and you helped him quite a bit, but you were remembering an area just at the top of Cow Hill where the old crossroads used to be, before, obviously they’ve cut down now, and you were saying that um, on the left hand side, just inside the fence line, was an area that was like the scrap heap as it were.
AH: Yeah, well I mean people, I mean you’d you know, dustbin collectors, anything like this, well any scrap you got you just wheelbarrowed it, carried it.
GB: Just dug a big hole did they?
AH: Oh, big enough to put a house in. I mean there’s cars and all sorts dumped in there. If you dug that now, I mean all right, you wouldn’t a lot, bit it was, there was all sorts dumped in there.
GB: I’ve heard one or two stories that, and certainly it’s true on other RAF airfields, because so many airfields were closing at the end of the war or within a year or so after the war, the RAF naturally only took complete cartons and boxes of things away to other stations because there were so many airfields that were closing they didn’t need all of it, and I did hear from several people, though they couldn’t quite pinpoint where stuff was just dumped in a big hole, so could it well be this big hole you’re talking about?
AH: Well I can’t, I mean I doubt it, because well, I mean us lads was always up there because it was a terrific bird nesting site as well. So I mean we was always up there. If anything had happened I think the lads would have known.
GB: And you’d be in there quick, see what you could scavenge.
AH: Yeah. I mean if they’ve gotta dump anything I should have, I should say that perhaps dumped it somewhere else. It’s like they say there was a lot dumped at Sturgate when the Yanks moved out, but you know, I don’t know anything about that.
GB: No, no, that’s okay, it was just the fact that with your knowledge of being up on the airfield I thought that might have been one of the nuggets of information that you had. Well, I think that’s it. Is there anything else really you think that you’d like to chat to me about, anything to do with the airfield itself and your time up there. Any funny stories?
AH: No, I don’t think so, I mean after the war it turned to [indecipherable] and they had, some of the hangars was made into big stores for all the equipment.
GB: And Tin Town kept going as accommodation for quite a few years, yeah. And then after that, did, were Twells that family that actually bought it, or somebody in between that bought it?
AH: No, they built the house on the corner, Sid Twell did. I mean Bert had the, already had the scrapyard at Cammingham, and Bert moved, er Sid moved into the one on the corner there and then that’s when he bought Tin Town.
GB: And then obviously started to use it as a bigger scrap yard. I must, I understand either Bert or Sid’s wife is still alive. Mrs Twell. I don’t know her first name. She must be probably in her late eighties, early nineties I would think now, I don’t know whether, you obviously.
AH: I don’t know where Mrs Twell lives.
GB: Again, I spoke to a couple of people, even Elsie thought that she was still alive somewhere.
AH: Oh, I don’t know. I mean blow me, I mean I saw Doreen yesterday.
GB: And that’s her daughter is it? Or daughter in law.
[Other]: Daughter in law.
AH: Daughter in law.
GB: Daughter in law, yes.
AH: I was speaking to Doreen yesterday.
GB: Cause I mean that’s another area that again [emphasis] we’ve got absolutely no photographs of, but bearing in mind there were a lot of Polish families there, post war, they will have had cameras, not all of them granted, but somebody would have taken photos. It might just be typically a marriage, a christening, because obviously they’re very kind of religious, and photographs that we’ve got from other sites, so we’re trying to find, we’ve got the map which shows where all the original Nissen huts were on Tin Town and we were lucky enough two years ago to go on there. Most of them had rusted through but we’ve got enough pieces that we’ve recreated one up at the site where we are at the top, so at the back of what is the airmen’s mess, which is the building that we’ve got, with the front of it, the boiler room at the front of it, we’ve actually made, we’ve had a new concrete base made and we’ve re-erected, with some fresh crinkly tin over the top of it, but it’s the original ribs from one of the Nissen huts in, down in there and we’re building the internal walls cause they little bedrooms and things, and a bathroom, bathroom, toilety bathroom thing. So that’s actually going to be done out as a 1946 ‘47 Polish, with the help of Margaret and one or two of the others. And you mentioned as well, a gentleman called Denton, or Deeton.
AH: Phil Denton.
GB: Denton. It would be great to meet him if you could perhaps give him my details, or you’ve got the details.
AH: I don’t know; where is he? Is he down Gainsborough way now?
[Other]: Last I knew he was in Lincoln.
GB: Cause his first hand knowledge of what it was like in a, like you will remember probably the first house you can remember living in, you remember where things were, and I do, He’ll be able to talk us through perhaps what it was really like inside them.
[Other]: Yes.
AH: Well actually it was one of the RAF lads who wired our house in Jubilee Terrace, Alf Sefton, and he put our electricity in, in Jubilee Terrace.
GB: That was during the war years was it?
AH: Well, just or just after.
GB: Just after, yeah.
AH: I shall have to find, try and find this meter reading card and that will give us the date. Actually he was the electrician for the Odsal Stadium, the speedway, at Bradford.
GB: Oh, right!
AH: Yeah, so after the war. You come to Odsal.
[Other]: I did once, yes.
GB: And one question I haven’t asked you yet, and I probably should have done it at the beginning, but how did you two meet?
AH: {Laughter] Well it was 1954, [chuckle] and I’d had a motorbike accident and I went into digs in Gainsborough and one of my friends while doing apprenticeship, said are you coming dancing Arthur, nah, I’m not coming dancing, he said come on there’s a dancing school down Acton Street, nah, I’m not interested. I shall go in for a pint. Look, I’ll come for a pint with you and then will you come with me to this dancing class, cause he was, he loved dancing. He was in a dancing team up in Grimsby, actually, and well, the rest is history, we walked through the door and that was it, wan’t it duck.
[Other]: Yes it was.
GB: So you were a Gainsborough lass then were you?
[Other]: Yes.
AH: December, about December the 20th, something like that.
[Other]: December the 20th.
GB: That’s a good memory, I think if my wife said to me now what date did we actually first meet I would struggle, I’d know the month but that’s all. I’m impressed, that’s good, that’s very, very good!
[Other]: Cause it was your mum’s birthday on the twentieth.
GB: Ah, right.
[Other]: And Arthur you told me about watching a plane that didn’t make it off the -
AH: Oh yeah, there was a, one morning, how the heck the grapevine gets round, I remember running up to the camp, before school, and a plane had come off, and at one time I mean I know there’s hardly anything now, but between the road and the camp there used to be a great big dip and it had come off, come down the dip, and it was nosed, part the way across the Ingham Fillingham Road, top right [beep] and we was up there before school and they was taking bombs off it, and we were just the other side of hedge peering through!
GB: And this was one of Ingham’s planes was it?
AH: Yes, it hadn’t made it but he’d.
GB: Did you know whether he was taking off or trying to land?
AH: I think it was taking off, cause they used to take off straight across the village and they used to take off, they used come virtually straight along Jubilee Terrace. You’d watch them, look out bedroom window and see them taking.
GB: Because looking at a lot of the flight records, certainly the operational flights during the war years, they used to take off at about ten or eleven at night, the ones that were doing the bombing raids, they used to be back about two three sometimes four in the morning, depending on how far into Germany they went, you know, the early hours of the morning and then they’d write the time down or type it into the log.
AH: Being upstairs in the bedroom looking out at ‘em.
GB: You’d hear them at night, obviously, taking off before you went to bed. Fascinating. It’s memories like yours of little things like that, that will make a lot of what we are trying to do at the Heritage Centre, just tell people’s stories. Because it’s one thing anybody reads a book, a book is like two dimensional, but to have you know, whether it’s you know, former Air Force veterans chatting, or local people there at the time, which is why we’re trying to get round as many people as we can, just to get the simple, the daft, simple things, even where you were on the tractor with your dad, or the roller, and things like that because it’s all [emphasis] part of the history of Ingham as a village and Ingham as an airfield.
[Other]: And have you mentioned your piece of sheet music, “To young gentleman, Arthur”?
AH: I’ve got a sheet, a piece of music, Handel’s “Largo”, and Raymond, he gave me that and on it he’s put: “To young gentleman Arthur”, and I think it’s dated 1944.
GB: Aww! So how did, I was going to go back one stage, and it connects with this, how did, where did you learn to play the piano? Because you said people used to come round to your house and you’d play the piano.
AH: Oh, I started learning piano from about five year old I expect.
GB: Was that through your mother and father, or did you?
AH: Yeah.
GB: Oh right. They played the piano as well did they?
AH: Well actually, I had an uncle who was in the RAF at Scampton, he was a musician, and he used to come down now and again and he encouraged me.
GB: So the Poles obviously, when you got together with them they enjoyed you playing. Did they provide any other sheet music or did you just play your own tunes and things?
AH: No, I’ve still got the sheet music I used to play when I was with them. Still got some over in the drawers.
GB: I wonder if there’s a photograph anywhere around, of you on the piano playing, exactly, with the Poles round the back of you, kind of. That would be a superb photograph, wouldn’t it. You almost think somebody must have taken a photograph somewhere and they go oh, there’s this little lad who lived in the village where we were and he’s playing the piano, all the guys with a pint or a cup of tea round the edge, that’s fascinating.
AH: I mean, saying that, neighbours and that didn’t care, because old Mr Marshal, next door to us, I came home one night from school and mum says don’t go on the piano, says Mr Marshall’s very ill, think he’s dying. Bit later on, door goes, knock on the door and it was Grace, next door neighbour’s daughter like, says Dad wants to know why Arthur’s not playing the piano. I mean there he was, mum and dad were saying don’t, he was, he was dying, and she he wanted to know why I wasn’t playing the piano!
GB: Lovely, so you got on and played a bit for him. Lovely. Well thank you very much, if there’s other things you can think of in the future.
AH: I’ll have a good look. I’ve got hundreds of photographs. I shall go through them to see what I can find.
GB: It’s really, especially through, as you were saying, your junior school ages, through the war years, because there might be some interesting ones where you and your mates were at the beginning, or you and the family are in the front, but it’s always interesting what’s in the back. That’s not saying your family isn’t interesting, but you know what I mean! It’s amazing what can be in the back of a picture and especially in a village where so much has changed now, and it will never ever, ever go back to how it was; these are the pictures. We’ve found as well that with a lot of the veterans, and RAF veterans, if we’re not careful, [pause] when it gets to the point where your family are clearing out your house in a few years’ time, a lot of years’ time, and I hate to say this like this.
[Other]: Better a long time.
GB: A long time. If there’s pictures where you’re in the picture, you tend to save them, and I remember my parents telling me this when my [emphasis] grandpa who was in Birmingham, and mum regrets it cause my father, who was obviously his son in law, when, he ended up clearing what was the parlour, the front room, and he only saved pictures where they’d got people on them so any scenery type pictures all just went – oh no, we don’t need that. So I always tell people look, have a good look, see what scenery pictures you’ve got because sometimes they can be, you know, the little kind of nugget in there because how they have pictures.
[Other]: Yes.
GB: Things that you would just, or your parents just go click, click, oh yes, and take a couple of pictures: this is Ingham how it was and they’re the fascinating ones so certainly I would be delighted to see any photographs you’ve got.
AH: I mean I don’t think I’ve actually got a lot, cause the, not a -
GB: I’ll just turn this off.

Citation

Geoff Burton, “Interview with Arthur Hydes ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 25, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/34781.

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