Interview with Max Spence

Title

Interview with Max Spence

Description

Max Spence grew up in Australia and worked in a hardware store before he volunteered for the Air Force. He recounts his training in Canada and in England and life on an operational station. He flew 18 operations as a navigator with 460 Squadron.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-10-05

Contributor

Peter Schulze

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

00:47:51 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

ASpenceMA151005

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

AP: This interview for the International Bomber Command Digital, International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive, is with Max Spence, who is a 460 Squadron navigator. My name is Adam Purcell, we are at Max home in Montmorency in Melbourne, it’s the 5th of October 2015. So Max, we’ll start with an easy one. Uhm, can you tell me something of your early life, growing up, uhm, your family and what you did before the war?
MS: Well, uhm, we here, [pauses] uhm, I grew up in Briar Hill, which is quite close to Montmorency. I’m an only child, I went to, I was an original pupil of the Briar Hill primary school and then I went to Elton High, eh, secondary royal Elton higher elementary and then I went to Melbourne High and I finished at year eleven, which was pretty, eh, substantial in those days, that was in 19, uh, 30, or 34 or 5, I think. And then I went to work at Briscoes Limited, which was a wholesale hardware firm, and there were two office boys, I was the outside boy, and the other was the inside boy and we knew in 1938 that there was a war going to start soon, so, we both opted, we were going to join the Victorian Scottish Regiment. But when we found that the uniform was gonna cost us twelve pound, or twenty-four dollars which is about a three months, uh, wages that went out the door, so [laughs]. So, as I said, my dad, being a Gallipoli veteran, and he was an only son with eight sisters, and I’m an only child and no way was he gonna let me go, so, uh. Then, suddenly in May 1940, he changed his mind and said the Air Force would be alright and I applied for ground staff and the recruiting sergeant said: ‘You could apply for air crew’, so, which I did and got up to the selection board and one said: ‘You’re left-handed’, I said: ‘Yes’. He said: ‘You’re no good to us’, I said: ‘Ah, why?’. I was only just eighteen, so, and he said: ‘You couldn’t handle a Morse key’, uh, so I said, ‘but we will send you Morse lessons’, which they didn’t. So, I lost interest in the war altogether like they [unclear] run it without me and but in 1941 I was called up and I went to, it was I believe a signal, uh, the signals organisation, that took [unclear] , well it was a signal operation and then, uhm, [unclear] was separated and joined the 19th Machine Gun Regiment as a [unclear] and we went off to Darwin and were there at pretty close proximity to a lot of the raids there, which was a bit, you know, ordinary, uhm. And about October it settled off and the RAF came recruiting again and I applied, and they accepted me, they didn’t have any of this nonsense about left-handedness. And there was fifty-four of us I think, and only eighteen passed and they were mainly, uhm, excluded because of the colour blind test which was not the red, yellow and blue thing but it was a complicated business where you looked into this pattern and if you’re colour blind you just saw a colour and if you weren’t, you didn’t see it, and vice versa and funnily enough it was developed by the Japs. So, we came down in February and to Corfield [?]and eventually started ITS, the initial training stream, uh, which was a three months thing, and, uh, I think it finished around about May 1941 and I was lucky enough to get what I wanted, a navigators course, and I went to Edmonton in Canada and that was a five months course, so I spent eight months in Canada. And then I, following that, went through and eventually came to England, where I went to a British (or badge) flying unit which was navigation in a [unclear] Ansett, uhm, was largely visual and uh, where you took a visual line of sight and guessed what the distance was. Well, having finished that I went to operational training unit, uh, where you formed crews and very scientifically there’d be one hundred and fifty blokes in a room and they just said, sort yourselves out, so, I got, I saw this big black [unclear], I said: ‘Do you look like you could handle a big plane, could I be a navigator?’. So, we did operational training unit at Syreford, that’s in Midland England and then we went to conversion unit, we’re on Wellingtons at the operational training unit and then we went to the Lancasters at the conversion unit and then we finally joined the 460 Squadron in about, I think, early February, forget what the date was now. Uhm, and I flew eighteen operations in pretty quick succession, including the Dresden raid which has brought so much, misinformation [unclear]. We were then posted to Pathfinders, the war ended and the squadron, we all set off to another squadron that was, uhm, breaking up and then I went down to Brighton, which was the forwarding station, up to Liverpool we got the Andes, this ship I got on, I had been on this before and was the same ship I came from Canada to Britain on. And then I came home, and the war ended in Japan, I was discharged and I went back to work. That was about it.
AP: I only had to ask one question there and we just [unclear] covered the lot. Uhm, anyway, we will go back in a little bit more detail, if you don’t mind. Uhm, what, you said, you went back to work, what were you doing, as work, before you enlisted?
MS: What? What?
AP: What were you doing as work before you enlisted?
MS: I was, uhm, a clerk at, in a wholesale hardware, Briscoes, which is a very old, uh, is still operating in New Zealand but it followed up [unclear] about 1970. I was warehouse manager then.
AP: Before or between, between enlisting, as in between the air force coming to Darwin and then you signing the paper, and you started the ITS, uhm, can you remember roughly how long there was between the two and what did you do in the middle there?
MS: Ah, well, the recruiting mob came up about October in 1942 and but we didn’t leave Darwin until February 1943 and then we spend a few weeks down Laverton and then I suppose it will be, around about April 1942, 1943 that I had gone to, uhm, initial training school Summers [?] and that was a three-months course. There was no flying in that one there. It was just, uh, a number of subjects that, uh, which were, [unclear], was quite a lot of subjects, I recall meteorology, navigation, signals, I forget the other ones, been quite a number of. And then we got our postings and I was posted to Edmonton in Canada and so to do that we went up to Bradfield Park in Sidney, were there for about a fortnight and this big ship arrived and next thing we were on our way, uhm, to San Francisco actually. Uhm, it was the Mount Washington, Mount Vernon, they called it, uh, it was a big ship, 35000 tons I think and it went on a sound, so. And then we travelled up to, uh, Edmonton, we were stayed in the manning [unclear] for about a fortnight and then we started there a five months course, which was pretty intensive. Uhm, and then I was onto Britain on the same ship as I came home on, and as I said we were in Brighton at manning [unclear] and then we went up to a place called West Freugh in Scotland which was just near Stranraer and that’s where we did our advanced flying unit, which was pretty much the same as what we did at Edmonton. And then I was down to Syreford, there was a place called [coughs] I forget now but Syreford was where we did our operational training as a crew. Seven, it was six of them to stay on a Wellington [coughs] and then we transferred to Lancasters at the conversion unit and then onto 460 Squadron, uhm, I think it was just before New Year’s Eve in 1944 and we did one, I think a couple of, trains country [coughs] or cross countries [coughs] and, may I get a glass of water? And we started there operations and as I say, after the 18th we were posted to Pathfinders, but we never flew there. So, that was it and I came home [coughs].
AP: Can you tell me a bit about the first time you ever went in an airplane? Was that in Edmonton?
MS: Ever went in a?
AP: In airplane. The first time you went flying.
MS: Ah, yes.
AP: What memories, if any, do you have of that flight?
MS: What?
AP: What memories, if any, do you have of that flight?
MS: [coughs] Nothing but enjoyment. Edmonton was [coughs], I put in me memoires, [coughs] leaving Edmonton was like leaving home, I just accepted it as so. Well, we spent time in their homes and. But as I say, it was largely visual navigation we didn’t have much in a way, we had things to look at the stars with, [unclear]?
AP: Sexton.
MS: Sexton, but our aviation sexton was different from the normal and we used to take star shots and [coughs] that was about on Polaris, which was the north star. We saw the constellations align and everything. [coughs] And that was, as I say, was a five months course. So we left there in February ’44, uh, I travelled across Canada, my mate and I went, we had eleven days leave actually and we went to Chicago and then there to Halifax and boarded [coughs] the Andes [coughs] to Britain and then on up to say, advanced flying unit which was [coughs], [unclear], pretty much the same as Canada and that was only [coughs], uhm, when we got to Syreford that we got into the more sophisticated, uhm, navigation, machines [coughs].
AP: You’re alright?
MS: Yes.
AP: Yeah, ok. Uhm, what were your first impressions of wartime Europe, of wartime Britain, was there any, anything at all?
MS: Funnily enough was that the women smoked, although I never smoked. And, uh, I had an aunt in Scotland, so I used to go up there a lot, uh, but that was pretty frugal, we were alright on the stations we got fed well [unclear] [phone rings] excuse me. Yeah, go on.
AP: [unclear] England you were talking about. The women smoked?
MS: Yeah [coughs].
AP: And something about you were treated pretty well on the squadron, you got plenty of food on the squadron.
MS: What?
AP: You were saying you got plenty of food on the squadron. Where else [unclear]?
MS: Yeah, well. Was pretty ordinary food [coughs] but was food [coughs] a lot more of it than the general public got.
AP: What, uhm, so, we will go back or forward a bit now to OTU. You’ve picked your crew, you’ve crewed up?
MS: Well, we were picked out by ourselves.
AP: Yeah, so you now have the six people before you get your flight engineer.
MS: Yeah.
AP: With which you get to fly with. What did you do at operational training unit? What sort of exercises did you do? What sort of [unclear] did you do?
MS: Cross country, uhm, mostly in Britain but we did go to the coast of Holland once, uhm, which was a pretty long trip [coughs]. Uhm, yeah, was mostly cross country using the Gee which is, [coughs] was the, you can find it on the internet, was the, they used to send their signals and you saw the cross reference and that’s where you were and then hopefully.
AP: Hopefully you got it right. Where, uhm, where on the airplane was the Gee set?
MS: Uh well, it was beside the navigator’s table.
AP: The navigator’s table.
MS: On the Wellingtons sort of facing forward, behind the pilot from memory but on the Lancaster was the, there was the, uhm, bomb aimer used to take his place as front gunner, then the bomb, operating [unclear], and the flight engineer, he sat beside the pilot, then there was the pilot and then there was me and then the wireless operator and then we had the mid-upper gunner and the, uh, rear gunner.
AP: That was in the Wellington?
MS: There was seven.
AP: Oh, seven. So, we are in the Lancaster at this point?
MS: Ay?
AP: That’s a Lancaster you are talking?
MS: Yes, yes.
AP: Ok, that’s the other crew then. Uhm, I guess, what, when you’re in England, obviously you would have got periods of leave in between your, well, while your training [unclear].
MS: [unclear]
AP: You would have had periods of leave while you were training?
MS: Ah, yeah, we had six days every six weeks.
AP: Oh, this is when you were on operations.
MS: Yeah, yeah.
AP: What did you do?
MS: Well, they had a couple of schemes. There was the lady Rider[?] scheme, which, uhm, you could book a place and go to the land of the state or, I went to with a friend to a retired army major and his wife up in the, uhm, up sort of north of, east of England, that was, when you got there, that was the first sort of scheme. And then they had the Lord Nuffield, Nuffield was the, the Morris, he owned Morris cars and he used to [coughs], uhm [unclear] of various places [coughs] and if, and if you eventually met up with someone who got married, he would pay for the wedding and the, uhm, sort of honeymoon, he was very good [coughs].
AP: That’s what you did on leave. Uhm, what about the pubs?
MS: Eh? The what?
AP: The pubs in England and
MS: Yeah, well, they were a bit of a, the first time I went to Tommy Farr’s bar, he was the [coughs] British empire heavyweight champion. Now I ordered a beer, that tasted like tar and water, it was mild beer and so I [coughs] talked to a couple of other blokes who’d been here for a while, they said, oh no, start off on bottled beer and then gradually, uhm, move over to bitter, which we did, yeah.
AP: Next one. We’ll jump onto the, your operational aircraft. The first time you saw a Lancaster, what did you think?
MS: Was another aircraft, didn’t really have any thoughts about it. It was a lumbersome, or cumbersome aircraft [coughs] and that was a difficult one to get into, you had to climb up eight steps with all your gear, all your navigation gear and parachute and what. [coughs] Ah, bloody cough, and I don’t know whether is any [unclear], I don’t there are, couldn’t find any, uhm, and then you, fairly narrow near the, walk right up to the front and had a huge spar across the, that held the airframe together and you had to climb over that and then I had a little office, uh, and then I had to pull the cloth around me, cause we weren’t allowed to show any light.
AP: Can you describe that office? What was it like?
MS: Well, [laughs] it was only just, a curtain drawn around, just had a table and had the Gee-set and the Y set there and, uhm, I had the various instruments up to, you know, [unclear] the dividers and all those sorts of things but they weren’t very big, [unclear] wouldn’t have been any bigger than that, yeah.
AP: You said then the Y set? What’s the Y set?
MS: Well, that was a primitive Radar set, uh, which when it was put on, it picked up the outlines of towns by the people, intelligence people know that sort of, they gave a chart with the major towns as you were passing, [coughs] outlined and this picked that up and then you could give a bearing and a distance by the [coughs], by machine and you just plotted the thing.
AP: Navigation? Alright. Uhm, might as well go onto the squadron. Where and how did you live at Binbrook?
MS: Well, this is another thing. For an organisation [coughs] fighting for democracy, the services weren’t very democratic. When we got to the squadron, our pilot got a commission immediately and he went off to the officer’s mess and we actually had [coughs] pretty comfortable, uhm, we lived in a house actually, all in a unit, uh, but we were all together in one big room, we had comfortable, uhm, we had comfortable beds and then we used to go to the Sergeants’ Mess for meals. And then incidentally on the, uhm, conversion unit they were real snotty people, they. The permanent staff here had their own mess, uh, we weren’t allowed to go there, we had to go to our mess, they regarded us as second-class amateurs. But, yeah, the conditions were quite comfortable.
AP: What, uhm, what sort of things happened in the mess, in the sergeant’s mess in Binbrook?
MS: singing and drinking, and the [unclear]
AP: [unclear] [laughs]
MS: Writing letters and that sort of thing.
AP: Flying for Bomber Command would have been fairly stressful, I imagine.
MS: I can’t hear you.
AP: Sorry, flying for Bomber Command would have been fairly stressful, I imagine. How did you cope with it?
MS: Well, they keep, all the documentaries they do sort of emphasise the drama but largely it was just hard work. Cause I had to fix my position every six minutes and then dead reckon ahead another six minutes so, I was like an one-armed paper hanger actually, I was. So, the navigators probably had the best job, cause they were working, the rest were largely in a watching role all the time. And that’s another thing you said, they used to offer Benzedrine tablets, uhm, ‘wakey-wakey tablets’, we, I never took them, I had no problems staying awake. But sometimes a bloke would take them and then they’d call the op off, and of course we couldn’t sleep all night. And, yeah, it was, mostly hard work, I didn’t really, some of me mates did but I really didn’t feel any stress much.
AP: You say: ‘Every six minutes you are getting a fix and did reckoning again’. What can you remember much of the actual process, the actual method that you were doing?
MS: Well, it was, if we used the Gee machine as [unclear] sort of, uhm, things that flicked along and you got them together and you sort of isolate and that gave you where you were and with the, uh, Y, the radar which we were only allowed to use for a minute because the, uhm, enemy fighters could home in on us, uhm, we just operated it and got a bearing and a distance from where we [unclear] onto.
AP: There is something from that, uhm. Ok, so, you had eighteen trips.
MS: Yeah.
AP: Uhm, we will get to Dresden in a minute. Uhm, do any of those trips stand out particularly in [unclear]?
MS: Well, two of them do. We did Nuremberg, where we lost, I think, uh, nearly eight percent of the force. And a place called Pforzheim, which didn’t have any particular merit but they put it off twice and when they put them off, they always used to have to change the route [unclear] but they didn’t and the Germans had just reduced their jet fighter Me 262 and they got into a [unclear] on the way in, so obviously they’d been informed of where we were going and the route.
AP: When you said they got into [unclear] was that your crew in particular or [unclear] general?
MS: No, no, no, just general, we were pretty fortunate, I don’t remember, we only had one episode with a fighter and that’s right up near the back and we got hit by flak once but that was pretty much all of it.
AP: So, fairly, fairly uneventful tour.
MS: Yeah.
AP: Ok, so, the inevitable question comes up then, of Dresden. Uhm, what was your personal experience on the Dresden trip?
MS: Well, it was the longest trip we did, was nine and three-quarter hours in the air. I believe I didn’t have any particular, uh, memories of it, uh, as it was just another flight but funny, after the war we didn’t go home, we had a lecture from one of the education groups and he was talking about the phoney aspects of war and one of them was that the British shareholders in the Krupp ironworks at Essen were saving dividends up till the end of 1942. And then he got onto Dresden, now the major reason was given for Dresden that was to help the Russians, you know, but he actually [unclear] was to hinder the Russians, because they were getting into Berlin before the Americans and in fact we went to Dresden once, the Yanks went there six times. Twice before us and four times after us. The last one was about, was only three weeks before the end of the war so, there could be some truth in the hinder thing, because you know, they had to get to Berlin and cut it up, so, we’ll never know.
AP: You mentioned earlier about misinformation about Dresden. What [unclear]?
MS: Well, they were, they kept saying, well one [unclear] that the press council didn’t win, he said it was a war crime, you know, and because it was the biggest loss of life I think in any other raids were about 35000, it varies, 35000 seems to be the [unclear] death rate. It was just another raid to us but they kept hammer every year, [unclear] on February the 13th they were hammering this Dresden raid so [unclear]. So, I actually got a couple interviews, I think, in the [unclear], not sure which paper it was, about it, you know because it was all lies, [unclear] the historians giving the wrong story. There was the, a major historian in the Australian war memorial. Uhm, he wrote a book, he wrote a [unclear] book, Australia at war, was about Bomber Command. Well, his first mistake when he had a diagram or a sort of illustration, he had the navigator and the wireless operator in the wrong place and [coughs] he also had said that Dresden had not been bombed before. So, I wrote to him and pointed out his error in the book and I said that the Americans had actually bombed Dresden before we did and he wrote back and admitted his error in the illustration but he said that it was only a small bombing, but it was still a bombing you know, [coughs] and they were all, when I really got into it, they actually bombed a lot more, or dropped a lot more bombs than we did on Dresden but, cause Dresden had been virtually destroyed anyhow but they kept on doing it. Yeah.
AP: Why do you think that misinformation is out there, why [unclear]?
MS: Well, it happened with Darwin, they said that the Japs were never going to invade, the same bloke actually, and we, well, we will never know but I tell you what, we were pretty sure they were when we were there and they kept hammering this one raid all the time, as I say, they gave the Americans no press coverage at all. And yet, they actually did more to Dresden we did. It was just another, I mean, probably weren’t, were doing what they were just done, Harris didn’t want to go to Dresden but they overruled him. It was some sort of between Churchill and Roosevelt and Stalin, I think, in ’44, late ’44, they had a conference.
AP: So, uhm, we’ll step back to a more general question. Your sitting there doing your every six-minute thing at your navigation table, and you hear over the interview, over the intercom, uhm, I got one of your gunners saying, fighter corkscrew port go. What happens next?
MS: Uh, what, say it again.
AP: You’re sitting at your table doing your navigation stuff and over your intercom you hear one of your gunners saying, corkscrew port go.
MS: Ah, yes, well that was, uhm, they had an evading process called corkscrewing, where the gunner who picked up the, uhm, alleged fighter would say that the pilot, uhm, enemy fighter, well he did this time, enemy fighter skip, skip, he was a bit, he said, prepare to corkscrew left, na na na, prepare to corkscrew right, na na na, he said, doesn’t matter, he’s gone past [laughs]. Well, that was one and I had another one where I was, oh, I think I had done five trips or something and one of me mates came to the squadron, he was on his first trip and he was coughing and splattering, I said: ‘That’s a bad cough you got there Butch’, he said: ‘As long as I still got it in the morning I’ll be happy’. [laughs] Ah, that was two sort of, [coughs] lighter moment.
AP: Excellent. Uhm, so, your tour ended, well your tour as such as it was, and eighteen trips it ended with the end of the war? Is that correct or is that before?
MS: [unclear]
AP: When you got to eighteen trips, you stopped?
MS: Yes, we went to the Pathfinder.
AP: So, you were posted to the Pathfinders, the, uhm.
MS: But we never flew there because the war ended.
AP: You said something in one of your emails to me about a disagreement about navigation methods. Can you expand on that?
MS: Don’t know whether, I, I’ve been operating quite happily on my own, the eighteenth trip, when we got there they set the bomb aimer behind me and he was having very little experience of the Gee and the Y. He was taking the information and passing it on to me which, I thought, lends itself for error for a start [clears throat] and took him away from his proper role of watching, you know, being the front [unclear] gunner and I, all I said, I am not too happy about it. Next thing they pulled me and the bomb aimer out of the crew and they sent us off on a forty-eight, two days leave or as we thought. When we came back, we were called up, or I was, called up before the stuffy pompous CO who wanted nothing but to stand to our attention and he said you’d be an AWL, I said no sir. Anyhow he obviously wasn’t sure, he checked us. If you’re charged with being AWL, it’s either a confined to barracks or it can a mandatory penalty. And if it was to mandatory penalty, you’re gonna ask for court martial, which is all, uh, bells and whistles and you get a defending lawyer and all that stuff. And he obviously wasn’t sure of his ground, so he sent us to a shorter tour of Sheffield that was and it’s, it was called an Aircrew Retraining Centre, there was lads, they were slobs of a military type, you know, probably never been out [unclear] a drill, but it was, so was quite interesting, it was. I did air force law and one bloke [unclear], I’ve seen it anyway together, this bloke was gonna go back and he put his CO [unclear] when he went back because of the information he got from the military law. But that was a three week course and actually the war ended while we were there and as I say, we were then posted to a squadron that was breaking up and I went to Brighton and, uhm, I was home in, uhm, August, just before the Pacific war finished, I was out on September the 2nd or 3rd or something I forget and I was back at work at 20th of September ’45, most of them didn’t get back till 1946. So that all worked out well.
AP: How did you find the readjustment to civilian life?
MS: Couldn’t cause me any problems.
AP: Just got straight back in, straight back where you left off.
MS: Yes, more or less, yeah. No, I got a, I was given a hired job, so. [coughs] But, now I, a lot of my mates had a break down and a few of them have suffered a post-traumatic stress as they call [unclear] they got [unclear] I used to drink too much, that was the main problem.
AP: Ok, uhm, this is usually my last question. How is Bomber Command remembered and what legacy do you think it left?
MS: Uhm, without a say, it was just a job and we had a job to do, we did it to the best of our ability, it was. There weren’t any special sort of. I get annoyed at the documentaries cause they emphasise the dramatic side all the time, you know, [unclear]. When we flew we flew long, this the other thing, people refer to what we did as missions and missions were what the Yanks flew. We flew operations, so, it’s only mine I think, but I get annoyed about that at. I lost the train of thought, [pauses]. As I say, these air flights were long but basically the last raid was the same because we were sending more planes at night and a lot of them banging into one another rather than and then the issue of the Me 262. They reckoned that if the war got another three months Germany would have had aerial supremacy but they didn’t have any fuel of course and but they certainly [phone rings] excuse me. Ok.
AP: So, how, yeah, how is Bomber Command remembered for you personally, I suppose and in the wider part?
MS: I don’t think about it [unclear] at all really, no. It’s, it just little, sort of personal episodes. As I said, it was just a job and I did it as best I could. Don’t have any special place in my memories.
AP: Did you ever fly again, apart from just getting on a passenger plane and going somewhere?
MS: No, no.
AP: No, that was it. Did the air force [unclear]?
MS: I got a , well, even then, now, when [laughs], when we were being discharged, uhm, they’d take your shirt in and they give another one and I noticed all these blokes going around the back picking up all our shirts, I got four shirts out of that lot and they, uhm, you know, bureaucracy is never far behind. I, uhm, first thing that happened was, uh, the WO there wanted to put us on guard at the Melbourne [unclear] guard so we didn’t turn up and he got us out on Monday, he said, if you’re not out [unclear] in half an hour I’ll put you on the charge so, but we managed that alright, that was our final episode there. And I went up, my cousin was royal [unclear] in the army and he said to me, I met him in town and he said, oh, he said to me, we got a good mess come up and you know we will have lunch together. So, I walked through the guard there and the next thing this WO came out and he said: ‘Where are you going, staff, I was a flight sergeant then, I said I’m going up to meet me with my cousin up at the mess, he said: ‘You are not allowed in there’, he said, I said: ‘I thought we were on the same side, you know.’ And then he started blustering, carry on and this Lieutenant came down, he said: ‘What’s the trouble, [unclear] he’s so bloody stupid, he said, carry on staff. You know, that was [unclear], you gotta try the other side of bureaucracy, anyhow.
AP: You said WO there?
MS: Yeah, warrant officer.
AP: Warrant officer, yeah, just for the tape. I’ll write that down. Uhm, what can I say, I guess just the one question that I skipped over earlier, when you heard, you said, I think you said that by about 1938 you sort of had the feeling [unclear] that war was coming.
MS: Yeah, you know, Hitler was flexing his muscles and we’d had Chamberlain saying no war in the near time and that sort of thing. I was just [unclear] and we could see it coming and we decided we’d be part of it but when it was gonna cost us 12 pound we decided we won’t [unclear].
AP: Can you remember when you heard that war had actually been declared and what were your thoughts?
MS: No, not particularly.
AP: Not particularly. Uhm, what else do I have here. I think, ok, the final question, is there anything else that you would like to ad, any other stories that [unclear]?
MS: I think I covered it pretty well.
AP: Covered it pretty well. [laughs] Covered it pretty well with one question. You’re off for ten minutes and that was the end. Alright, we might end the interview there, thank you very much.
MS: Ok, good thank you. [file missing] We got a special medal and they actually had one [unclear] guide but I never, my issues were the clasp in a little, piddly little thing [unclear] read the views of some of the British airmen on that, a sort of a second prize, you know. [file missing]
MS: [file missing] And yet, the aircrew Europe star were given to, uh, people who finished their operations in seventy or eighty hours, they did a tour of thirty. We had done eighteen, we [unclear] about one hundred and forty hours, so, well, I think that was unfair [unclear].
AP: Good.
MS: And that’s it.
AP. That’s it. Can I turn it off now? [laughs]

Collection

Citation

Adam Purcell, “Interview with Max Spence,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 21, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/3492.

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