Interview with Robert Woodhouse

Title

Interview with Robert Woodhouse

Description

Robert Woodhouse was living in Pembroke Dock when the bombing of the town began. The family relocated to Cardiff when they lost their home in the bombing. In Cardiff Robert joined the Air Training Corps. He had a cousin who had already joined the RAF as a boy entrant and he wanted to follow in his footsteps. He volunteered and began training as a wireless operator. He was posted to 207 Squadron at RAF Wigsley. A German aircraft infiltrated the bomber stream after a raid and was able to bomb the runway thus putting it out of action. The squadron moved to RAF Spilsby and continued operations. The crew had been told by the commanding officer that they had been recommended for Pathfinders but the navigator became ill and the move was cancelled. With his squadron John took part in Operation Dodge. Also on one operation that was aborted John recalled that when they were flying home they dropped their bombs on U-boats heading to their pens. Much later after the war he was on holiday with his family and became friendly with the German family in the next caravan. It transpired that the father had actually been the commander of one of the U-boats that they had attacked.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-10-01

Contributor

Julie Williams

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

00:50:11 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AWoodhouseRM151001

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

HH: Ok. Today is the 1st of October 2015 and I am Heather Hughes and I am sitting here talking to a Bomber Command veteran Robert Woodward, who has come all the way —
RW: Woodhouse.
HH: Woodhouse, sorry. Who’s come all the way from South Africa to attend the unveiling of the Spire tomorrow and who has kindly agreed to do an interview with us today. Thank you so much Robert.
RW: Ok.
HH: For agreeing to, to do this with us.
RW: Pleasure.
HH: I wonder if we could start by asking you just to talk about your early life in Wales?
RW: I will do, yes. Gladly. Well, I was born on the 16th of March 1925 and I lived in a place in South West Wales called Pembroke Dock which was a garrison town. Famous for the navy, the air force in particular — Flying Boats, and the dockyard. We naturally became, when the Second World War started a sitting target for the German bombers. And we were raided many times. At one time we were sixth of thirty continuous nights when the oil tanks that fed the naval submarines were bombed and they burned for, as far as I can remember, twenty one days and nights. We were bombed out and my father who was a hairdresser, decided to move to Cardiff which we did in the end of 1941. I went to school in Pembroke Dock. And my cousin Ronnie who had lost his father in normal circumstances and his mother used to stay with us when he was on leave. He was a boy entrant in the RAF and because of all this I became very, very interested in the air force and wanted to become a boy entrant myself. This didn’t happen. The war started in 1939. When we moved to Cardiff I joined the local boys ATC. Number 1344 Squadron. And in October 1942 I volunteered for aircrew. I think at seventeen years of age. Yes. Seventeen years of age in October. And some months later, having been accepted and I joined the RAF and went to, for kitting out into Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. I remember the day very well, right. Having said that we were issued with our flying clothing before we even saw an aircraft. Because everyone that volunteered seemed to want to become a pilot they were, if I can put it this way, overbooked. Right. And anyway pilots, navigators and bomb aimers were trained out of the country. Usually Canada or South Africa or wherever. Right. And because I was keen I was persuaded by the interviewer who was ex-First World War to accept an appointment as a wireless operator. He said you only, you would be in the air force quickly and that was about it. Anyway, this I did, right, and eventually my radio school was at Madley in Hereford. If I remember correctly Number 4 Radio School. Lasted plus or minus six months and we began flying after about, I think it was six weeks. Something like that. Maybe twelve weeks. The course had been reduced to six months because previously wireless operators had to do a ground stint at local radio RAF stations. This didn’t happen for me. I was accepted straight away because it was now reduced to six months. My Morse was exceptional. I say it myself. My Morse code.
HH: Fantastic.
RW: I had an aptitude for, for this. Anyway, we went and then when we were finished the course we received our sergeant’s stripes. And the majority, there was about a hundred on the course, the majority were dealt with and posted elsewhere on an alphabetical basis. Being Woodhouse, I was at the tail end of the last eight that were sent on a three month gunnery course which was exceptional but helped, I think, to preserve my stay before getting to a squadron by about plus or minus three months. That’s what I worked out since. Having said all that the next posting was to, I went, the gunnery course was in Scotland at a place called Evanton. E V A N T O N. Number 8 Gunnery School. And we were then sent to Halfpenny Green which was near Wolverhampton and we went on an advanced course for radio operators and navigators only. I came across, if you’re interested, I came across a colleague that I had known and got friendly with in, in London at Lord’s Cricket Ground and he was flying in the same aircraft. An Anson. And he said, ‘Look I’ve been here a bit longer and they’re just going to ground me because I was suffering from air sickness. But can I can I fly with you guys? You know, for the three hours flight to see if I’ve got over it.’ We all agreed but unfortunately he was ill and that was the end of that. Right. We then moved on to Operational Training Unit. Number 14 OTU at Market Harborough. Another famous OTU. It’s where Guy Gibson did his OTU and so we had all of this to think about, I suppose. And if I remember correctly the course lasted something like three months. We flew in Wellingtons and this is where we were crewed up. We met what was to be our future crew. Right. And I remember being in a big room, something like where I’m sitting now and all aircrew milling around. And we were speaking to one another and chose. And a fellow came up to me and said he was a rear gunner and he said, ‘Would you like to join us?’ He said, ‘I’ve already crewed up,’ with so and so, so and so. And I said, ‘Well, what’s your name?’ He said, ‘Moore.’ M O O R E. Well, I said, ‘Oh well, fair enough. My sister just got married to a naval guy whose name was Moore so I’ll make up the number.’ And that’s the way we chose. The rear gunner was Moore. The bomb aimer was Andre Moore. The pilot was Tom Moore. And Bob Woodhouse was Robert Moore. And that’s how we got together. At the end of the course we were interviewed by the wing commander or squadron leader flying and he said, ‘Look. You guys have all done so well, right. Two of you are being recommended for commissions but we can’t give it to you at this station. You get it at your next station.’ Right. And he said Robert Woodhouse and Andre Moore. Right. He then went on to say, ‘Look it’s up to you but you know all aircrew have to volunteer again,’ and he said, ‘We want to recommend your crew for Pathfinders. To go direct to Warboys in Cambridgeshire,’ which was training Pathfinders. We, at that time, I qualify this, we all agreed that this was so but he said, ‘You are all, you’re going straight to a squadron for training at Warboys.’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Anyway, for whatever reason our navigator was sick the next day and we had to find another navigator. So, we don’t know. I can’t add to that but this actually happened and cancelled our stay. Our going to Warboys. Which may well have been a good thing. We were sent temporarily to Balderton which is in Lincolnshire. And it, it was several squadrons there, two squadrons there and — until we got a new navigator. And I cannot recall exactly when this happened. May have been a couple of weeks. It may have been a month. I can’t recall. But they were flying operations from Balderton. We didn’t fly in them. But I remember seeing, the first time I came into contact with something that was a little frightening was there was a Lancaster which was there which we were quite nearby, right and they were hosing out the rear turret from the operation the previous night. That’s what I remember. Anyway, from there we went to Wigsley with a, which was a Conversion Unit from Wellingtons onto Lancasters but because we were short of a navigator, we still didn’t have a navigator I invariably ended up flying with different trainee crews or whatever. Right. And one, you may have heard what these were like or not was the chief flying instructor, a squadron leader, Australian — they named an airport after him in Australia, who I flew with once and there was a different crew altogether and well, he was, he used to show you how good the Lancaster was. And I remember he flew over the control tower at Wigsley, right and cut all four engines which was pretty frightening. And the aircraft still stayed up in the sky. These are the basic facts that I remember. I may well enlarge on them a little bit. Right. Ok. But having said that we then went to a squadron — 207 Squadron in 5 Group. Wigsley was in 5 Group and they did have operations. To go back and retrack a little bit. While we were at Wigsley the German fighters used to infiltrate the main bomber streams and end up at the aerodromes, right. Which they did at Wigsley and they bombed the central runway which was put out of action. The bomb aimer and I were very friendly, right and [laughs] over my future crew and he, we used to have an end room. We picked the end room in the Nissen hut where we stayed and the next morning he said, ‘God ,you sleep hard you know?’ He said, ‘Didn’t you hear them last night?’ I said, ‘No. Not at all.’ That was it, right. Anyway, we then went on then to Spilsby on 207 Squadron. The CO was Wing Commander Black. And the chief intelligence officer was Joyce Brotherton. Brotherton [pause] who was much older than any of us and there we are. I had my twentieth birthday on 207 Squadron and we did a few operations. Nothing of real interest, right. Because we had a new navigator and I can’t recall where he came from whether they had had an accident or whatever but he was a Scot and I can’t remember his name. But having said that we had crewed up with an engineer whose name was Robertson and he was trained as a pilot but because it was at the end of the war, coming to the end of the war they weren’t training just engineers but they had a surplus of pilots and they had to volunteer. So they volunteered to fly on the squadron as engineers which he did. Right. And the other thing is he had a car which helped the crew a lot, right. There we are. But the last operation was in April. April to —[pause] April. April 20th, 23rd something like that, right. To Flensburg. And it was going to be a daylight raid and each time we got to the aircraft it was stopped because the weather was bad. Anyway, we eventually took off and we flew out over Skegness and we flew wave high. Wave high. All to get under the radar. There must have been a hundred and fifty, a hundred and sixty aircraft. Something like that. We, we were due to meet with American fighters too, before we got to the Danish coast and it didn’t happen. But suddenly one of the aircraft on our beam started flashing an Aldis lamp from his whatsthename. Right. So I had to read the Morse code and it was to tell us that our rear door was still open. Right. So that was a funny part. Right. And the rear gunner whatever, had forgotten to lock the door. We didn’t know and we couldn’t use normal voice or anything. So, anyway but when we got to the target and got to bombing height there we had a master bomber in control. I forget his name and he was directing us. Actually we could see we were going to bomb the docks but by that time our, our fighter escort had arrived out from Scotland and there was an air force, an airfield at the top which the, we were firing their guns at that. And then suddenly the cloud did come over but we could still, but see the target. But the, as I said at that time, towards the end of the war, right, see the bombing line had to be strictly accurate. And in no way did this appeared to be the case so it was aborted. And where the [pause] we could see clearly, right, the sea, and there were loads of U-boats coming back because it was a U-boat base as well, right. And they had been recalled and they were going so we dropped our bombs on them. Right. And we didn’t lose one aircraft on that trip.
HH: Gosh.
RW: One aircraft. So I’m told.
HH: That’s quite unusual.
RW: So I’m told. Whether you believe everything I don’t know but one has to remember that at the end of the war you had this thirty year limit as it applied. And anyway we got back and we went on leave straight away. And oh yeah, we came back, right and we screamed over, over Skegness. Right. It must have frightened them because we were so low I tell you and you get a hundred odd aircraft. Anyway, that happened, right. And then after leave we came back and we immediately, oh yes, they, in our absence they had done the raid on, which was the final raid of the war, on Berchtesgaden. Which was sometime at the end of April probably. Early May. Whatever. And that was it and the squadron was laid up and that was it. And then we started doing trips to Operation Dodge to Italy.
HH: To collect prisoners of war.
RW: Well, yeah, we brought back soldiers actually.
HH: Oh soldiers.
RW: We brought. And soldiers. And another one was Pomigliano. Somewhere near the Leaning Tower actually. And brought them back. Right. And yeah, yes and we went to Norfolk and dropped them off there somewhere. So much details I can’t quite remember. Right. And then, oh yes when I got, when we got back, I’m trying to think now and get it right. Ok. Oh it’s a job. You only remember what you want to remember, you know. Anyway that was it. So, right, fair enough I came back off leave. That was it. I was still on 207 Squadron and lo and behold, right I had a message to report to station headquarters who said, ‘Right. Pack your bags but, you have to volunteer but you are going to 617 Squadron.’ So I, and that’s what happened. Right. I didn’t have time to say cheerio to the crew who had gone off on various things. Been on leave. And so I went to 617 Squadron which was, had been or was at Woodhall Spa but was then immediately moved to Washington to err Waddington as the 463 and 467 Australian squadrons had previously been at Waddington. Anyway, we were there in the mess and everything was — by that time I was a flight sergeant, and I became a warrant officer on 617 Squadron. And I remained with 617, the war had just ended, right and for about eleven months. In that time we were the lead squadron for Operation Tiger Force which was going to the Far East to support. Supposedly finish off the war there. Being the lead squadron. I’m told that the ground staff had already sailed in ships. But 617 and 9 Squadrons which we always partnered, right were going to be the sole. We went on to heavy duty low level flying. As you will know 617 Squadron was famous for their part in the dams raid. Various battleships. Ok. The Tirpitz being the top one.
HH: The Tirpitz. Yeah.
RW: But I wasn’t on the squadron at that time. But it was an honour to be chosen to go to the squadron. That’s the way I felt and I enjoyed every minute of it. We had a great time. Anyway, we were, we all got kitted out with overseas clothing and inoculations and what have you. And I remember a funny part was we were lined up irrespective of rank. Whether you were a wing commander, squadron leader or what. But I’m not a very physically big person but, but there was a squadron leader in front of me with his sleeves rolled up where he was getting the jabs and instead of giving you one jab now and again, right they had a system where they’d wind everything in and give you the eight in one go. That is how I remember. Right. The squadron leader just boom [laughs] That was it. He collapsed completely. Not for long but he, there we are. So there we are. That’s the funny side of it.
HH: And you survived fine.
RW: Pardon?
HH: And you survived fine, did you?
RW: Yes. I, yes, I just looked away, you know. But there we are. So, so we did those trips and — sorry yes. We then flew to the Far East. Ok. And we started off, we flew to Tripoli. There was another name for it then. An Italian name. Anyway we had a night there and then went via Cairo West and Idris, sorry Idris was the name of the aerodrome. And then, yeah and we went on and ended up in India. And in the course of our flight we were due to go up to a place called Chittagong which was on the border of Burma and India, as it was then. Right. Whilst flying we were in the first three aircraft going to the Far East. The rest would follow on later. And we were diverted to a place called Digri, in the Bay of Bengal and 9 Squadron was with us. We were diverted to a place called Salboni which was within car distance if you like, you know. So we were soon friendly with them. And we continued to practice bombing. The Americans had been at Digri and Salboni before us and had left the day before. So we had all their rubbish and what have you. Unfortunately our, our radio officer, right, in the squadron who had served with 617 for quite some time and had a lot of experience, right was killed in an accident there. Once we were there. Not flying but on the motorbike. Very very sad, so. He was one of the better types and things like that. Anyway, we then, we were on our, supposedly on our way to Okinawa and the Americans stopped us and they said stay in India. Once we were there we did, again three aircraft did a flying display in New Delhi which was great fun. It was a night flying tattoo kind of thing with searchlights and firing off rocket shells and so forth. And there we are. As I say, I think I, no I didn’t mention it but I think the air force taught us to drink a little bit, you know. And so we had a lot of enjoyment there. And then we flew back. The route we came we flew back and landed in St Mawgan’s in Cornwall. Oh, we were told on, prior to leaving India that we were going on a good will tour, the squadron, to America. This didn’t happen. We got to St Mawgan. We were told, right, leave the aircraft and take everything with you including, including your parachutes and we’ll be in touch. But go home on leave. Which was alright. And I suppose, I suppose it’s only right that the Air Ministry took over the squadron and went on the good will tour [laughs] Something like that happened. Right. There we are and I was recalled to Binbrook, near Grimsby right, where we set up business, if you like as a squadron and [pause] yeah. And from there I was grounded and I got all, they gave you a list of things you wanted to do. And I said, ‘Oh fair enough. Flying control is what I want. Right.’ And I ended up at Wittering in flying control until I was de-mobbed in the winter of 1947. It was a bad winter. I remember the snow. And there we are. Ok. So that’s my air force. Oh yes when, when I, after de-mob I went home to Cardiff. Lived with my parents until I got married at the age of twenty nine. Right. And, but I was in the RAF VR and I joined the local flying school and I flew every weekend without fail. Without uniform. No uniforms. Right. Terrific time for seven years.
HH: And is that how come you had two service numbers?
RW: Yes. Yeah. 2604304 the other one. Yeah. There was. That’s why I have a good memory. Do you want to hear my later life or not.
HH: I definitely do. I think that would be most useful.
RW: It’s ever so boring but would you like to listen?
HH: No. It’s not boring at all.
RW: It’s not, it took us approximately, approximately twenty one months to two years in some cases to get to a squadron from the beginning. So it was a very thorough training. Very thorough. It was very mixed and unfortunately things happened. People went sick or whatever. There we are. Anyway, having got de-mobbed, when I’d left school originally in Pembroke Dock at the age of fifteen, war started. There was no way you could do much. Anyway, I joined a wine and spirit merchants. It was a nice little job but again we were bombed out so we moved on to Cardiff. And there I joined the air force from there but my cousin, who was [pause] had a great influence with me. A boy entrant. Was of exactly that. Right. Flight lieu, later became a flight lieutenant observer. Being a boy entrant himself he had, he’d been in, he was, he was thirty when he was killed on 627 Squadron. 627 Squadron at Woodhall Spa on Pathfinders. A great pity. There we are. But he was the influence of attracting me to the air force and we kept in touch right until he was killed. I would have ended up with him had he survived but there we are. On the same station. But there we are. Right. After the war. I took several courses in, after the war ended. I was very friendly at Waddington with an EVT training officer. Education vocation which they, they tried to interest you in your civilian life. And I actually remember we were very friendly. So he sent me off on several courses and they said, ‘Oh you would do well as a travelling salesman.’ I said, ‘Oh yes,’ you know, and listened to it all. Anyway, I joined the Prudential Assurance Company at Cardiff. I had several interviews. I was accepted. And I stayed with them all my working life. This was in 1947. I became, I was seconded to South Africa and became general manager of the African business. Which was good. I moved a lot. I was, it was like the air force. I never seemed to say no [laughs] And when they said we’d like you to go somewhere. Somewhere, right. I readily agreed. And I was going to South Africa for two years. I’d already been a divisional manager in the UK. And they said. ‘Look. Just for two years, family,’ go and do this. Will you do that? And I’m still in South Africa after forty years. We loved it so much. There we are.
HH: And did you stay in the same job even, even though you didn’t —
RW: Well. Put it this way —
HH: Outstayed your two years.
RW: I, I, yes. The general management. I was in the top job you know so I mean I didn’t have anything to do with life insurance. Everything, all liability insurances. Everything with the household. Motor. What have you. I was in charge of it in Africa. From Nairobi right down to Jo’berg. So fortunately I did well. We got involved with various mergers which I hated. And [pause] but I came out of it alright naturally but the thing is that we did this and I eventually resigned when I was fifty six years of age. I started my own business which was, don’t ask me why, it was madness, right — which was broking. And because I was well known at the time, to be quite frank and other companies, I had a lot, a lot of support and the business did take off. And the result is that when I eventually retired for the final time I was sixty nine — 1994 was it? Yeah. And there were political changes in South Africa and everything. And we still had property. A house in the UK. And we went back there for a while but eventually we returned to South Africa. We had a daughter, son, grandchildren, the lot, which we love and, and I still enjoy it.
HH: So that’s how come you’re still in Fourways.
RW: Yes. That’s right. In Fourways.
HH: So where had you lived before in South Africa?
RW: Ok. We lived in Hyde Park, or Craighall Park, more to the point. Near Hyde Park. Buckingham Avenue. And we had a lovely property there and were very happy. But we went to, when we returned, I always remember where we lived was a place called Cedar Lakes, Broadacres, Fourways and our son lived there. And he was very well educated. He had a PhD and things like this. And we were visiting him for a [unclear] or something or other and I sat under a rondavel on the estate which I subsequently, where we subsequently lived. And I said, ‘Jeremy,’ and I said, ‘I’d better speak to your wife as well. Would you be upset if we came to live on this estate?’ He said he’d be delighted, you know. So the house, bought a house, and that is where we are. And our daughter lives in Bryanston and they have a larger property shall is say and two beautiful grandchildren and everybody’s very very happy.
HH: Well. it’s lovely to be close to family. There’s no point living here if all your family are there.
RW: Well this is it exactly, you know and yes and if I’ve bored you please —
HH: That was a wonderful story. And you’ve kept, how have you kept in touch with, with Bomber Command?
RW: Oh yeah. Not really. We have, it’s [pause] I’m a member of 207 Squadron Association. I’m a member 617 Association but they’re not so well presented if you like with the paperwork there. 207 is exceptional. Somebody there who is the son of somebody who was killed and he took over the secretary’s job and he’s done a marvelous job, so he does keep us up to date. Right. 617 we get notices but obviously, you know, there’s nothing. 617 is a very, how can say, a modern squadron. Right. 617, Tornadoes and what have you. Right. But we used to go, but as I say that’s after that thirty year cycle, right. We had notice and we went to, we had an invite, we lived in Chester at the time and we had an invite to go to Scampton, right, for a presentation of squadron colours. Which was, if my memory is correct was ’59, 1959, our daughter wasn’t born till 1958 so, yeah. I think it was 1959 and that was the first time after the war we got together. We soon knew several who were regulars in the air force there. And then after [pause] sorry my mind’s wandering again. The, yeah, we’re in ‘59 and later on there was a whole Bomber Command reunion. Reunion where Harris was there. And it was at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. And I remember I didn’t sit at 617. I sat with 207 Squadron. And I did know two people who have since died. But other than that we have had no contact at all.
HH: And Harris also went to Southern Africa didn’t he?
RW: Who?
HH: Harris.
RW: Oh yeah. Well he was Rhodesian.
HH: Yeah.
RW: And do you know where he stayed? He lived actually. The Mount Nelson Hotel. One thing I can maybe offer at this point, one thing I do not understand is he had children. Young children. I couldn’t understand this because he was in his 40s when operational. So I don’t know whether, nothing has ever been said about family or wife or anything, but yes. He had a, yeah if everything I read is, or read is correct then he is treated badly. But there, that’s nature of things you know.
HH: Yeah.
RW: Any direct questions?
HH: You have given us a lovely story and thank you so much for that.
RW: No.
HH: I think you deserve a drink in the Dambusters now.
RW: Yeah. I used to enjoy going, oh sorry we went to one or two, quite a few before I went back to South Africa. We went to the reunions at the Petwood which we enjoyed very much and everything. But I didn’t operate with 617. I was operational but not war time.
HH: Yeah.
RW: Ok.
HH: 617, yeah.
RW: With 617. Get my facts straight, you know. But again the more you read about things and if you read them and a very good friend of mine who was never aircrew but very very interested in everything and he, he went right through and he always enlarged things. And in fact, I’m a bit cross because, not for this but I had the, when we went to 617 they still had the clapper aircraft. Are you familiar with the clapper? Before the big bomber one. And again to be edited is whether we were told, my memories of [unclear] were told I’m not so sure or whether I read it. Right, but those aircraft had to be disposed of quickly because 617, so I was led to believe, right, to be listed as war criminals if the war hadn’t ended. That’s why they had two different identifications. KC and AJ was the — you know all this don’t you? Eh?
HH: Well it’s interesting to hear it from you. Yeah.
RW: Yeah. But the other time is very of interest which is worth researching was when we were in India the wars were over. Right. The Jap war had just finished and we had stopped. Well, again, aircraft were bombed up ready to fly over the Indian fleet which had mutinied in 1946. The beginning of 1946. Whether that’s true but my memory. You have no recollection?
HH: Sounds worth following up.
RW: And again it goes on , you see. Prompt things. I tried to research that because I thought well was it true or did I imagine it? But we weren’t involved. We were involved with flying with the squadron but not, but one aircraft supposedly flew over the destroyers or whatever the navy. Somewhere near Bombay and a white flag went up. But nothing happened. But that, tell me if my memory is playing. When I came, apart from all of this, when I was on the Number 3 Flying School in Cardiff, right, after the war, I really, that was great. Absolutely. Every weekend. I loved it.
HH: Sounds wonderful.
RW: Having said that I still had to do so many flights away from Cardiff and I went twice, I think to Lyneham. Transport Command. And flew out with the crew to somewhere, all right. It was a holiday for me and they picked me up on the way back. And then yeah. That’s where I lost my logbook.
HH: Oh you lost your logbook.
RW: I left it at Lyneham. I left it at Lyneham to be written up because we got back on a Saturday. Everything was closed. That’s the last I saw of it. But there —
HH: Do you know what ever happened to it?
RW: No. No. Just there amongst a lot of paper. Anyway.
HH: Thank you so much for your interview. That was a real treat to listen to your story. Thank you so much.
RW: I don’t. But wartime is, you know full but that’s alright. Later on. Many years after the war ended we had young children and we had a caravan towed and one of our many trips was to Italy. Italy? Yeah. And it was called in Venice Audi and SU Holiday Camp. The German company had provided their staff with a holiday. Anyway we went there and being German everything was precision. You lined your caravan up etcetera and right opposite us was a German family. And then, we both had young children so he invited us for a drink and we accepted. And having said this he brought up the war, you know and all this, ‘What did you do?’ And every time he was having swig he’d slap you on the back, you know. And I said, you know, he was an ex-U- boat commander. And it turned out he was in one of the U-boats where we dropped our, on our last trip.
HH: Isn’t that extraordinary?
RW: Yeah. Yeah. And he worked for the German Motor Company.
HH: That you should have met up in that context.
RW: Yeah.
HH: After the war.
RW: Yeah. There we are. I might have glossed over a little bit. Please edit it as you see fit.
HH: Thank you so much for that.
RW: Right then.
[recording paused]
RW: But what I would say about medals is I am quite anti because of the attitude after the war ended of the politicians regarding the recognizing, the proper recognition. The proper recognition of Bomber Command which, as to ending the war early. Right. The, I’m also anti the medals situation because in my case I am entitled I suppose to maybe three or, or mainly three medals which would be the end of the war, the defence and the France and Germany medal. I’m not so sure I’m entitled to the 1939 ’45 because you had to be, if my memory serves me correct, a minimum of three months on a squadron but you could finish your operations and be gone. You know, so you could die in your first raid but so I’ve never bothered to apply. And that’s still the position. Thank you.

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Citation

Heather Hughes, “Interview with Robert Woodhouse,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 17, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/3523.

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