Bill Freeman's Service Career

BFreemanWFreemanWv1.pdf

Title

Bill Freeman's Service Career

Description

A detailed account of Bill's time in the RAF, starting with drill at Lords, training at Bridlington and Bridgnorth then RAF Stormy Down. He passed the course and after seven days leave reported to Hixon for crewing up. He discusses training and his social life. He then transferred to Binbrook then Blyton, Hemswell, Elsham Wolds and N Killingholme.
He describes individual operations in detail. He and his crew were transferred to Faldingworth where the condition of their aircraft was poor. These were quickly replaced with new aircraft. His crew were successful and survived their 30 operations never to meet up again.
He concludes his memoir with seven tailender tales.

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Temporal Coverage

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Format

25 handwritten sheets

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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.

Contributor

Identifier

BFreemanWFreemanWv1

Transcription

[underlined] 1 [/underlined]

5TH APRIL 1943 SAW ME LEAVE TWICKENHAM to REPORT FOR SERVICE IN THE ROYAL AIR FORCE. MOST OF MY FRIENDS HAD ALREADY BEEN CALLED UP, SO IT WAS A RELIEF TO BE JOINING THEM AT LAST. EVEN SO IT WAS A WRENCH TO BE LEAVING HOME. I MADE MY WAY TO LORDS CRICKET GROUND NEAR REGENTS PARK IN LONDON, UPON REPORTING TOGETHER WITH MANY MORE, WE FILLED IN MASSES OF PAPER WORK & WERE KITTED OUT. FIRST A MASSIVE KIT BAG & EVERYTHING ELSE WAS JUST SHOVED IN. IT WEIGHED A TON. AFTER LUNCH WE WERE PARADED IN SOME SORT OF ORDER & MARCHED TO VICEROY COURT. A RECENTLY BUILT LUXURY BLOCK OF FLATS, WITHOUT ANY LUXURIES. THE FLOORS WERE PLAIN CONCRETE, THE ROOMS CONTAINED 1 BED AND 1 CUPBOARD PER BODY, OF WHICH THERE WERE ABOUT 1 DOZEN PER ROOM. WE WERE INSTRUCTED TO UNPACK OUR KIT, CHECK EVERYTHING FOR SIZE. ANYTHING NOT FITTING WAS TO BE EXCHANGED THE FOLLOWING DAY. PARADE THE FOLLOWING MORNING, IN UNIFORM WAS AT 8 AM, BREAKFAST WAS AT 7 AM BED HAD TO BE MADE UP IN ARMY FASHION, READY FOR OFFICER’S INSPECTION. A DRILL SERGEANT WAS ASSIGNED TO INSTRUCT US AND INFORM US ABOUT WHAT WAS TO BE EXPECTED, THERE WAS ABOUT 20 OF US IN OUR FLIGHT. OUR FIRST DAY WAS TO BE TAKEN UP WITH MEDICAL & INJECTIONS. SO OFF WE WERE MARCHED TO SOMEWHERE NEAR THE ZOO. WE WERE A RAGGED LOT, BUT HAVING DONE TRAINING & DRILL WITH THE HOME GUARD IT WAS EASY FOR ME TO FIT IN. THE MEDICALS & INJECTIONS & LUNCH TOOK ALL MORNING QUITE A FEW OF THE LADS WERE OVERCOME & LAID OUT ON BENCHES. THE SERGEANT WASN’T TOO PLEASED AT THIS, HE [missing words]

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THAN THE OTHERS, COULD YOU FIND YOUR WAY BACK TO VICEROY COURT?” I SAID “YES SERGEANT” HE SAID “VERY WELL, MARCH THOSE THAT CAN WALK BACK, I WILL HAVE TO GET A WAGON TO TAKE THE OTHER SHOWER BACK”. STAY IN YOUR BILLET UNTIL I COME BACK” I TOLD THE OTHER LADS WHAT WAS GOING ON & THEY ACCEPTED THAT IT WAS BETTER THAN HANGING AROUND FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS. SO OFF WE WENT AND IN 15 MINUTES WERE BACK AT VICEROY COURT. THE LADS WERE GLAD TO LAY ON THEIR BEDS FOR THE REST OF THE AFTERNOON, I MANAGED TO SEE THE SERGEANT IN THE KITCHEN AND SCROUNGED TEA & BISCUITS, WHICH WENT DOWN WELL. THE DRILL SERGEANT WAS QUITE HAPPY ON HIS RETURN TO SEE ALL HIS FLIGHT WAS ACCOUNTED FOR & DISMISSED US UNTIL 8 AM PARADE THE FOLLOWING MORNING, BUT WE HAD TO REMAIN IN QUARTERS, NO TRIPS INTO TOWN. THE FOLLOWING MORNING WAS TAKEN UP WITH CLASSROOM WORK ON AIRFORCE PROCEDURE & WORKING. AFTERNOON FREE TO GET OVER THE EFFECTS OF THE INOCCULATIONS. THE FOLLOWING MORNING WAS TAKEN UP WITH DRILL & MARCHING, AFTER A WHILE THE SERGEANT PULLED ME OUT & TOLD ME TO TAKE OVER. HIS WORDS WERE “LETS SEE JUST WHAT YOU DO KNOW”. SO THE HOME GUARD TRAINING WAS COMING IN USEFUL & ALL WENT WELL. IT WENT SO WELL THAT FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK I WAS GIVEN THE JOB OF DRILLING THE OTHERS WHENEVER THE NEED AROSE. TO MY ASTONISHMENT THE LADS TOOK IT WELL – WE HAD NO TROUBLE. MAINLY BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DRILL SESSION WE WERE ALWAYS FIRST IN THE QUEUE FOR MEALS. WE WERE POSTED to [missing words]

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[underlined] 3 [/underlined]

of THE WEEK. BEFOR [sic] WE LEFT, THE DRILL SERGEANT SAID “GOOD LUCK, YOU’VE HAD A GOOD REPORT ON YOUR RECORD, THIS WEEK HAS BEEN AN EASY ONE FOR ME.” BRIDLINGTON OUR BILLET WAS A HOUSE IN RICHMOND ROAD. THE COURSE WORK WAS AIRCRAFT RECOGNITION MORSE CODE SIGNALLING & GENERAL DRILLING ETC. THIS LASTED 6 WEEKS. THOSE THAT PASSED THE TEST WERE POSTED TO BRIDGENORTH IN SHROPSHIRE. HERE WE WERE INSTRUCTED IN THE WORKINGS OF THE FRAZER NASH TURRET & THE BROWNING 303 MACHINE GUN, AIRCRAFT RECOGNITION WAS AGAIN A MUST. ALL WAS CLASSROOM WORK WITH A MAJOR EXAM AT THE END OF A FUTHER [sic] 6 WEEKS, THEN OFF TO STORMY DOWNS IN SOUTH WALES. STORMY DOWNS WAS APTLY NAMED. THE DROME WAS ON THE HILLS CLOSE TO THE SEA & THE AIRCRAFT WERE AVRO ANSONS WITH A GUN TURRET MIDWAY ALONG THE FUSELAGE. THE PILOTS WERE THOSE BEING RESTED AFTER A TOUR OF OPPERATIONS. [sic] ALL OF US CADETS HAD NOT FLOWN BEFOR [sic] & THE PILOTS TOOK GREAT DELIGHT IN THROWING THE AIRCRAFT ABOUT TO SEE IF THEY COULD MAKE US AIRSICK. FORTUNATELY I STOOD UP TO IT PRETTY WELL, AND WHILST FEELING A BIT SQUEEZY AT TIMES, MANAGED TO KEEP THINGS UNDER CONTROL. HERE WE DID AIR TO AIR FIREING [sic] & PRACTICE CINE CAMERA GUNNERY, WITH OTHER AIRCRAFT ATTACKING. HAVING AT LAST GOT THE RUDIMENTS OF WHAT AIR GUNNERY WAS ABOUT, WE WERE EXAMINED & PASSED OUT AS AIR GUNNERS, GIVEN 3 STRIPES & THE RANK OF SERGEANT AND SENT ON 7 DAYS LEAVE. I [missing words]

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AIR GUNNER, ALL IN A MATTER OF 5 MONTHS OF JOINING. THE LEAVE WENT QUICKLY & I HAD BEEN NOTIFIED THAT I WAS TO REPORT TO HIXON IN STAFFORDSHIRE, TO BE CREWED UP, & SO IT WAS AT THE END OF AUGUST ’43 THAT I WAS TO MEET THE CHAPS I WAS TO FLY WITH. IT WAS A QUEER MEETING. WE STOOD AROUND IN OUR VARIOUS GROUPS WIRELESS OPS, BOMB AIMERS, NAVIGATORS, & AIR GUNNERS THE PILOTS THEN APPROACHED EACH GROUP AND ASKED INDIVIDUALS IF THEY WOULD LIKE TO JOIN HIS CREW. BY THE TIME HE CAME TO THE GUNNERS HE HAD ALREADY GOT THE OTHERS TOGETHER. HIS OPENING LINE AS HE CAME UP TO ME WAS “CREWED UP YET GUNNER?” I LOOKED UP TO SEE A CHAP OF MY OWN AGE, FAIR HAIRED & WITH A BIG SMILE AND A TWINKLE IN HIS EYES, AND A SERGEANTS STRIPES ON HIS ARM. WHY I ASKED MYSELF WAS HE ONLY A SERGEANT. MOST PILOTS WERE OFFICER RANK. I REPLIED THAT I WASN’T CREWED UP, HIS NEXT WORDS WERE OFF PUTTING “HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BECOMING A HERO & WINNING MEDALS” HE SAID. “NO THANKS” I REPLIED “THE ONLY MEDAL I WANT IS THE LONG SERVICE ONE” HE LAUGHED AND SAID “YOU’LL DO, COME AND MEET THE OTHERS” WITH THAT WE INTRODUCED OURSELVES. THE PILOT WAS RON JONES FROM BRIGHTON. HE HAD BEEN PUT BACK TO SERGEANT PILOT BECAUSE HE HAD UPSET too MANY “BIG WIGS” THE NAVIGATOR WAS ART CRICHE CANADIAN FARMER. THE BOMB AIMER ANOTHER CANADIAN DAVE BREMNER A YOUNG COLLEGE BOY FULL OF FUN THE WIRELESS OPERATOR WAS KEN SMITH, SHORT, TUBBY FROM DEWSBURY & A COMIC. SO [missing words]

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GET THEMSELVES INTO A TEAM, FOR THE ESSENCE OF A BOMBER CREW WAS EACH TO HAVE THE CONFIDENCE OF THE OTHERS. HIXON WAS AN OPPERATIONAL [sic] TRAINING UNIT. FLYING WELLINGTON TWIN ENGINE BOMBERS, OR WIMPYS AS WE LOVINGLY CALLED THEM. WE FLEW AS A CREW MAINLY. PRACTISING TAKE OFFS & LANDINGS. HIGH & LOW LEVEL BOMBING CROSS COUNTRY NAVIGATIONAL TRIPS OF 4 TO 5 hours AND GUNNERY EXERCISES. I ALSO HAD TO GO ON A SPECIAL GUNNERY COURSE & RECOGNITION COURSE AT THIS TIME MY SHOOTING WAS NOT VERY BRILLIANT, BUT THANKFULLY IMPORVED BEFOR [sic] IT WAS NEEDED. GRADUALLY IN THE WEEKS AHEAD, WE BECAME RELIANT ON EACH OTHER, WE WORKED HARD TO BECOME A TEAM, UNTIL WE ALMOST KNEW WHAT THE OTHERS WERE THINKING. SOCIALLY WE HAD VERY LITTLE CONTACT WITH EACH OTHER, BUT ONCE A WEEK WE HAD A CREW MEAL IN A LOCAL PUB, THE 2 CANADIANS BEING OFFICERS, PAID FOR THE MEAL & THE SERGEANTS PAID FOR THE DRINKS. OUR OTHER CONTACT WAS ONLY DURING FLYING TRAINING, WHICH WE ALL TOOK SERIOUSLY AND IT PAID OFF LATER ON. MY SPARE TIME, MOSTLY EVENINGS WAS SPENT IN STAFFORD, DARTS SNOOKER & DRINKING IN THE LOCALS. I HAD MADE FRIENDS WITH ANOTHER GUNNER NAMED TONY. HE WAS ABOUT THE SAME AGE AS MYSELF. A BLONDE, BLUE EYED, HANDSOME FELLOW. AN ONLY CHILD OF DOTING PARENTS & VERY SHY. I DONT THINK HE HAD EVER HAD A DRINK BEFORE JOINING THE AIRFORCE. MANY TIMES I HAD TO TAKE HIM BACK TO CAMP WORSE FOR WEAR. DURING ONE OF OUR EVENINGS [missing words]

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GIRL FRIEND, WE USED TO GET THE LORRY TO TAKE US IN TO STAFFORD, THE [sic] INTO THE PUB FOR DRINKING DANCING. HE WOULD GO OFF WITH HIS GIRL & I WOULD PLAY DARTS OR SNOOKER, UNTIL IT WAS TIME TO GO BACK TO CAMP. ALL OUR MATES WOULD PILE INTO THE LORRY, IN VARIOUS STATES OF INEBRIATION ESPECIALLY TONY, TOWARD THE END OF OCTOBER ’43 OUR CREW HAD BEEN ON A CROSS COUNTRY FLIGHT OF ABOUT 5 hours AND WERE READY TO LAND, WHEN WE SAW THAT THERE WAS A PLANE ON THE GROUND ON FIRE. WE WERE ALLOWED TO LAND & IN THE FLIGHT OFFICE WERE TOLD THAT THE CREW WAS TONY’S & THAT THEY MANAGED TO GET OUT, EXCEPT TONY IN THE REAR TURRET BEING TONY’S MATE I HAD THE TASK OF COLLECTING HIS PERSONAL BELONGINGS AND PRESENTING THEM TO HIS PARENTS WHEN THEY CAME TO CAMP. I VOWED THEN THAT I WOULD NOT GET INVOLVED IN ANY CLOSE FRIENDSHIP WHILST FLYING AGAIN & NEVER DID. THE EVENING AFTER THE ACCIDENT I WENT INTO STAFFORD, INTO THE PUB WHERE I KNEW HIS GIRL FRIEND WOULD BE. AS SOON AS SHE SAW ME ON MY OWN SHE KNEW THAT SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED. THERE WERE NO TEARS AS I TOLD HER. WE FINNISHED [sic] OUR DRINKS AND SHE JUST SAID “THANKS BILL” & OFF SHE WENT WITH HER CROWD. SHE HAD SEEN IT HAPPEN BEFOR [sic] & NO DOUBT WOULD SEE IT HAPPEN AGAIN, AS WE ALL DID. A WEEK LATER WE HAD OUR LAST FLIGHT AT THE OTU it was TO BE A TRIP OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE. WE WERE LOADED UP WITH [missing words]

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DETAILING ALL THE NEWS OF THE PROGRESS OF THE WAR. ALSO WE HAD BUNDLES OF FOIL STRIPS WHICH WERE TO BE RELEASED AT A GIVEN TIME AT A GIVEN PLACE, THESE FOIL STRIPS REFLECTED THE SIGNALS OF GERMAN RADAR & GAVE THE APPEARANCE OF A HUGE FORMATION OF BOMBERS, IT ACTED AS A DECOY & DREW FIGHTER AIRCRAFT AWAY FROM THE TRUE BOMBER FORCE. WE ACCOMPLISHED THIS MISSION WITHOUT MISHAP & WERE THRILLED THAT AT LAST WE HAD BEEN PART OF A RAID. THEN IT WAS A 14 DAY LEAVE. IT WAS DURING THIS LEAVE THAT I CELEBRATED MY 21ST BIRTHDAY ALBEIT, A LITTLE EARLY, BUT AFTER FLYING IT SEEMED QUEER NOT TO HEAR THE ROAR OF AIRCRAFT ENGINES. ALSO THE FLYING ROUTINE WAS MISSING, SO WHILST IN [sic] WAS NICE TO BE HOME WITH THE FAMILY I WAS NOT SORRY TO BE GOING BACK. THERE WAS MORE TRAINING TO BE DONE & I HAD TO GO FOR A WEEKS GUNNERY COURSE TO BINBROOK. THIS WAS AN AUSTRALIAN BOMBER STATION, VERY OPPERATIONAL [sic] & THEIR LOSSES WERE HIGH. THE FIRST PERSON THAT I MET AT BINBROOK WAS A CHAP I HAD DONE MY INITIAL TRAINING WITH AT STORMY DOWNS. A WELSHMAN FROM TREDEGAR & AN EX POLICEMAN NAMED VICTOR JONES. VIC & I HAD BEEN PUT FORWARD FOR OFFICER SELECTION AS WE HAD TOPPED THE COURSE TABLES. THERE WAS ONE OFFICER PLACE PER COURSE. I WAS NOT OVERKEEN & THOUGHT THAT ONLY 5 MONTHS DID NOT JUSTIFY BEING MADE AN OFFICER. THE BENEFITS [sic] OF BEING AN [missing words]

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WHEN SHOT DOWN YOU WOULD BE ENTITLED TO BETTER TREATMENT. VIC GOT THE OFFICERSHIP, MUCH TO MY RELIEF. AFTER THE DAY’S GUNNERY PRACTICE, I USED TO MEET UP WITH VIC, BORROW HIS SPARE UNIFORM & WE WOULD HAVE A DRINK OR TWO IN THE OFFICERS MESS, WHICH WAS VERY ENJOYABLE. AFTER A WEEK I LEFT BINBROOK THANKFULLY MY SHOOTING HAD IMPROVED & I WAS MORE CONFIDENT IN MY JOB. SADLY I HEARD A FEW MONTHS LATER THAT VIC HAD BEEN SHOT DOWN I REJOINED MY CREW AT BLYTON 1662 CONVESION [sic] UNIT. WE WERE TO FLY HALIFAXES. ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS AND CONTRARY AIRCRAFT AND SO EASY FOR INEXPERIENCED PILOTS TO CRASH. HOWEVER, RON, OUR PILOT MASTERED THE BRUTE & WE COMPLETED 10 DAYS THERE. DURING THIS TIME OUR CREW INCREASED BY 2. THE FLIGHT ENGINEER CALLED GEORGE, I NEVER DID KNOW HIS SURNAME. HE WAS A LONDONER & HAD WON HIMSELF THE GEORGE CROSS MEDAL FOR HIS PART IN THE BLITZ. OUR PILOT TOOK AN INSTANT DISLIKE TO HIM & ALWAYS FELT THAT GEORGE WAS ONLY WAITING TO WIN MORE MEDALS, WHICH WAS AGAINST OUR CREWS WAY OF THINKING. WE ALWAYS SAID THAT OUR JOB WAS TO REACH THE TARGET DROP THE BOMBS & GET HOME IN ONE PIECE. HOWEVER GEORGE WAS GOOD AT HIS JOB & WAS NEVER GIVEN THE CHANCE TO PLAY THE HERO. – MUCH TO HIS DISGUST - . THE OTHER MEMBER WAS THE MID-UPPER GUNNER JOHNNY JOHNSON, SHORT & [missing words]

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HIMSELF TO HIMSELF & CAME FROM NORTHAMPTON OUR ORIGINAL 5 NEVER REALLY GOT USED TO BECOMING 7. BUT WE ALL DID OUR JOBS AND MADE A DECENT CREW. WE TRANSFERED [sic] (MUCH TO OUR RELIEF) to LANCASTERS AT HEMSWELL FOR A WEEK AT ELSHAM WOLDS AFTER A COUPLE OF FLIGHTS IT WAS FINALLY ONTO 550 SQUADRON AT NORTH KILLINGHOLME NEAR GRIMSBY, OUR FIRST TASTE OF OPPERATIONAL [sic] LIFE. IT WAS NOW MARCH 1944. KILLINGHOLME KILLINGHOLME [sic] HAD ONLY JUST OPENED UP IN JAN 44 & THE FACILITIES WERE VERY SPARTAN & WE HAD TO ROUGH IT FOR SOME TIME. SLEEPING ACCOMODATION [sic] WAS A NISSEN HUT, STRAW MATTRESSES ON IRON BEDS & TWO COKE STOVES FOR HEATING, BUT AS THE C/O SAID “YOU’LL BE PLENTY WARM ENOUGH, FLYING.” WE SETTLED IN WELL TO SQUADRON LIFE. WE STILL HAD TO TRAIN DURING THE DAY. WE WORKED WELL TOGETHER & DEVISED A SYSTEM SO THAT WE WERE AS EFFICIENT AS WE COULD BE. THEN ON THE 10TH APRIL 1944 OUR PILOTS NAME APPEARED ON THE FLIGHT LIST. THE ROUTINE THEN & IN FUTURE TO BE REPEATED OFTEN, WAS, 10 AM IN THE MORNING, CREW BUS TO THE AIRCRAFT WE WERE TO USE. Q-QUEENIE, EACH OF US CHECKED & RECHECKED HIS PART. THE ENGINES WERE RUN UP & THE PILOT CHECKED EACH ENGINE SEPERATELY. [sic] ANYTHING HE DIDN’T LIKE WAS ATTENDED TO & CHECKED AGAIN THE WIRELESS OP. CHECKED HIS EQUIPMENT. WE [missing words]

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HAD TO CHECK MY GUNS WERE IN WORKING ORDER AMMUNITION RAN SMOOTHLY INTO THE GUN. THE AMMUNITION BELT WAS FOLDED INSIDE THE FUSELAGE & RAN IN TRACKS INTO THE TURRET. COULD NOT AFFORD A JAMMED BULLET, IF NEED AROSE, TO MESS THINGS UP. THE TURRET HAD TO WORK SMOOTHLY THE HYDRAULICS FREE FROM LEAKS & AIRLOCKS THE ELECTRIC HEATING FOR MY FLYING SUIT HAD TO BE WORKING, FROZEN FINGERS AT A CRUSIAL [sic] MOMENT to BE AVOIDED. THE INSIDE PERSPEX WAS CLEANED so THAT VISION WAS CLEAR. EVERYTHING CHECKED & RECHECKED, THEN & ONLY THEN THE PILOT WAS ADVISED THAT EVERYTHING WAS O.K – THE BOOK SIGNED. WE HAD A FIRST CLASS GROUND CREW & RARELY FOUND A FAULT, WHEN WE DID, IT WAS PUT RIGHT. BY FINDING OUT HOW MUCH PETROL WAS BEING PUT IN & THE WEIGHT AND TYPE OF BOMBS WE COULD WORK OUT THE DISTANCE AND TYPE OF TARGET of the opperation. [sic] ALL WAS TO BE REVEALED AT THE BRIEFING ABOUT 2 hours BEFOR [sic] TAKE OFF NO ONE WAS ALLOWED OUT OF CAMP UNTIL TAKE OFF. AT THE BRIEFING it WOULD BE DISCLOSED THE TARGET, THE COURSE to BE SET TIME OF TAKE OFF, TIME OVER TARGET & TIME BACK. WE WERE ISSUED WITH AN ESCAPE KIT IN CASE WE HAD TO BALE OUT & CHOCOLATE & CANNED DRINK FOR THE JOURNEY. ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION WAS GIVEN & DIJESTED. [sic] THE NAVIGATOR THEN HAD TO WORK OUT HIS FLIGHT PLAN. OUR NAVIGATOR WAS SLOW & METHODICAL. I NEVER KNEW HIM TO [missing words]

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[underlined] 11 [/underlined]

ON, TOO SOON OR TOO LATE MEANT THAT YOU WERE ON YOUR OWN & EASILY PICKED UP BY RADAR, SEARCHLIGHTS or FIGHTERS, SO THEN TO TAKE OFF. OUR TARGET ON THAT FIRST TRIP WAS MARSHALLING YARDS AT AULNOYE. TAKE OFF 23.35 time over TARGET 02.25 WE PILED INTO THE CREW BUS WITH 2 OTHER CREWS & WERE TAKEN OUT TO OUR AIRCRAFT THERE WAS A BIT OF LAUGHING & JOKING & AS EACH CREW LEFT, IT WAS “CHEERIO, SEE YOU AT BREAKFAST”. WHEN OUR AIRCRAFT WAS REACHED, WE ALIGHTED, SAID “CHEERIO” to the GROUND CREW & CLIMBED ABOARD, THE JOKES STOPPED & WE WERE EACH LEFT TO OUR OWN THOUGHTS “HOW WOULD WE COPE UNDER FIRE” WE SHOOK EACH OTHERS HAND, PATTED THE SIDE OF THE AIRCRAFT & MADE OUR WAY TO OUR POSTS. MINE WAS A LONG WALK TO THE REAR, STOWING MY PARACHUTE OUTSIDE THE TURRET I SWUNG MYSELF IN, PLUGGED IN MY ELECTIC [sic] HEATER, CHECKED IT & SWITCHED OFF, RUNNING THROUGH ALL THE CHECKS I REPORTED OVER THE INTERCOM THAT ALL WAS O.K. EACH MEMBER IN TURN REPORTED AND ALL WAS SET. AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME THE ENGINES WERE STARTED & CHOCKS AWAY WE WERE MOVING TO THE END OF THE RUNWAY. GIVING THE THUMBS UP SIGN FROM THE GROUND CREW SERGEANT. ONE PLANE AFTER THE OTHER WERE SIGNALLED OFF & SOON WE WERE AIRBOURNE [sic] & REACHING 20,000 FT [missing words]

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LIKE A TRAINING EXERCISE. SOON IT WAS OVER THE FRENCH COAST & COURSE SET FOR TARGET TARGET [sic] REACHED SPOT ON TIME. FEW SEARCHLIGHTS AND A BIT OF “ACK-ACK” GUNFIRE. THE BOMB AIMER LINED UP HIS TARGET & GAVE THE PILOT DIRECTIONS. I FELT THE AIRCRAFT RISE AS HE REPORTED “BOMBS GONE SKIPPER” THE PILOT REPLIED “THANK YOU BOMB AIMER, LETS GO HOME” & AS WE PASSED OVER THE TARGET I COULD SEE A SERIES OF EXPLOSIONS, FIRES BURNING & SEARCHLIGHTS TRYING TO PICK US UP, VERY LITTLE “FLACK” SUGGESTING THAT THERE WERE A NUMBER OF NIGHT FIGHTERS ABOUT. I REPORTED THIS TO THE SKIPPER. HE SAID “KEEP YOUR EYES WELL PEELED GUNNERS. THE WORST IS BEHIND US.” WE HAD A QUIET JOURNEY BACK. LANDED. REPORTED IN & WENT TO BREAKFAST. ALL OUR CREWS WERE BACK SAFELY AFTER WHAT WAS A RELATIVELY EASY TRIP. BUT AS ONE OLD CREW SAID IT DOESNT HAPPEN OFTEN, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS BREAKFAST WAS A GOOD FRY UP AND SUDDENLY I WAS TIRED & SURPRISED TO SEE IT GETTING LIGHTER IT WAS 6 AM THE TRIP HAD TAKEN 5 hours NO REPORTING UNTIL 12 NOON AND SO TO SLEEP. AS IT HAPPENED WE WERE NOT OPPERATIONAL [sic] AGAIN FOR OVER A WEEK, BUT THERE WAS NO SLACKING, WE STILL HAD TO PRACTICE AND WERE ALWAYS KEPT INFORMED OF DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES BEING USED. IF WE WEREN’T REQUIRED FOR FLYING WE COULD GO INTO GRIMSBY FOR CINEMA, PUBS & ENTERTAIN [missing words]

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WHICH WAS USED BY THE RAF, AND NICKNAMED THE “MUCKY DUCK,” NOISEY & SMOKEY. IT WAS THERE THAT I FIRST MET UP WITH THE “YANKS”. WE GOT ON REASONABLY WELL ONCE WE WERE USED TO THEIR WAYS, BUT COULD NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY THE WHITES WOULD INSIST ON BLACKS BEING FORCED TO DRINK ELSE WHERE, AND ANY TROUBLE USUALLY AROSE BETWEEN THE TWO. BACK IN CAMP WE KEPT LOOKING AT THE OPPERATIONS [sic] BOARD AND AT LAST ON THE 18TH APRIL WE WERE DETAILED. OUR ROUTINE CHECKS OF THE AIRCRAFT WERE DONE AND ABOUT 8 pm WE HAD BRIEFING. THE TARGET WAS ROUEN. THE DOCKS & MARSHALLING YARDS. AGAIN EVERY THING WENT WELL. WE STAYED OUT OF TROUBLE, DID THE JOB AND CAME BACK TO BASE. TWO NIGHTS LATER WE WERE FLYING AGAIN, THIS TIME TO COLOGNE IN THE RHUR. THE HOT SPOT OF GERMANY. THE LARGE MUNITIONS FACTORIES OF KRUPPS & STEEL WORKS WERE ALL ALLONG [sic] THE RHUR. WELL DEFENDED. THIS TIME IT WAS NO JOY RIDE. WE SAW IT ALL. SEARCHLIGHTS “FLACK” AND THE AIRCRAFT TOSSED ABOUT BY NEAR SHELL BURSTS. NO DAMAGE TO WORRY ABOUT. WE SAW OTHER AIRCRAFT BEING ATTACKED BY NIGHT FIGHTERS & GO DOWN IN FLAMES. THE TARGET WAS ONE MASS OF FIRES & BOMB BURSTS. IT SEEMED ENDLESS. BUT EVENTUALLY WE WERE THROUGH, BOMBS DROPPED & TARGET BEHIND US. THE SKIPPER CHECKED EVERY ONE WAS O.K. APPOLOGISED [sic] FOR THE BUMPY RIDE & SAID “I’LL BUY YOU ALL A BEER WHEN WE GET BACK”[missing words]

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A COUPLE OF SCARES FROM NIGHT FIGHTERS, BUT MANAGED TO EVADE THEM AND LOSE OURSELVES INTO THE DARK NIGHT SKY. THE C/O HAD BEEN RIGHT, IT HAD BEEN PRETTY WARM FLYING NO NEED FOR COKE FIRES. TWO NIGHTS LATER WE WERE IN THE RHUR AGAIN TO DUSSELDORF. MUCH THE SAME HAPPENED, BUT WE RETURNED O.K. NO DAMAGE. THEN KARLSRUHE A COUPLE OF NIGHTS LATER, WE HAD A BIT OF DAMAGE, BUT MADE IT HOME, BUT THAT WAS A LONG TRIP AND TOOK 6 1/2 hours. MOST OF IT TRYING TO KEEP OUT OF TROUBLE, WE HAD TO PICK UP ANOTHER AIRCRAFT FOR OUR NEXT FLIGHT TO ESSEN ON THE 26TH APRIL. BY NOW WE HAD EXPERIENCED IT ALL. EVERYTHING THAT COULD HAPPEN AND THOUGHT WE WERE BEING LUCKY TO GET AWAY WITH IT. WE HAD DEVELOPED A GOOD WORKING SYSTEM BETWEEN US GUNNERS WHICH KEPT US OUT OF THE WORST OF IT. THE REST OF THE CREW ALWAYS CAME AND SAID THANKS ON LANDING GEORGE WOULD HAVE PREFERED MORE ACTION. ON THE 27TH WE WERE BRIEFED FOR FRIEDRICHAFEN AFTER ABOUT 30 MINUTES ONE ENGINE BEGAN SIEZING UP AND HAD TO BE CUT, THE SKIPPER SAID WE WOULD HAVE TO GO BACK. GEORGE WANTED TO CARRY ON ON [sic] THREE ENGINES BUT RON WAS AGAINST IT & TO GEORGES DISGUST TURNED THE PLANE ROUND AND HEADED HOME. RON RADIOD [sic] BASE & WAS TOLD TO JETTISON THE BOMB LOAD OVER THE NORTH SEA. THIS WAS DONE AND WE [missing words]

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ENGINE WAS PLAYING UP, SO IT WAS A RELIEF TO PUT FOOT ON LAND. ON THE 30TH APRIL WE WERE BRIEFED FOR A TRIP TO MAINTENON MARSHALLING YARDS IN FRANCE THIS TIME A NEW TECHNIQUE WAS TO BE USED. WE WERE INSTRUCTED TO ARRIVE AT THE TARGET AREA AT A GIVEN TIME. TARGET INDICATORS WERE BEING DROPPED (YELLOW FLARES) AND WE WERE TO CIRCLE UNTIL ORDERED TO OUR SPECIAL TARGET (GREEN FLARES) OTHER AIRCRAFT WERE GIVEN (BLUE FLARES OR RED FLARES TO BOMB ON. EVERYTHING WENT ACCORDING TO PLAN AND THIS WAS THE BEGINING [sic] ON THE PATHFINDER TECHNIQUE AND PROVED A GREAT SUCCESS FOR PINPOINT BOMBING. THE AIRCRAFT USED WERE THE MOSQUITO’S WITH A 2 MAN CREW THEY WERE FANTASTIC. THERE WAS, HOWEVER, TO BE A SERIOUS SET BACK A FEW DAYS LATER A PERIOD OF FULL MOON HAD JUST BEGUN, AND USUALLY THAT MEANT A STAND DOWN. WE WERE THEREFOR [sic] SUPRISED [sic] ON THE 3RD MAY TO SEE THE ROSTA UP FOR EVENING OPS. AND OUR CREW DETAILED. WE DID OUR USUAL CHECKS IN THE MORNING. EVERYTHING O.K AND THEN BRIEFING ABOUT 8 PM. WE WERE INFORMED THAT THE TARGET WAS MAILLY-LE-CAMP IN FRANCE JUST SOUTH OF PARIS. THIS WAS A GERMAN PANZER TANK TRAINING CAMP AND WITH THE IMPENDING INVASION WAS BETTER DESTROYED. THERE WAS TO BE TWO TARGETS. WITH OUR NEIGHBOUGHS, [sic] GROUP 5 TAKING THE FIRST. OUR GROUP [missing words]

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TO DROP TARGET INDICATORS AND EACH GROUP TOLD WHEN TO ATTACK AND WHAT COLOUR FLARE TO BOMB ON. GROUP 5 ARRIVED AND CIRCLED ON YELLOW MARKERS UNTIL GIVEN THE ORDER TO BOMB. THIS THEY DID SUCCESSFULLY. GROUP I (OUR GROUP) ARRIVED, SOME A LITTLE EARLY AND WERE INSTRUCTED TO CIRCLE OVER THE YELLOW MARKERS UNTIL GIVEN THE ORDER TO BOMB. IN THE MEANWHILE GERMAN FIGHTERS HAD ARRIVED AND GIVEN BRIGHT MOONLIGHT AND LANCASTERS FLYING AROUND IN CIRCLES, HAD EASY PREY. THE PATHFINDERS ORDERED THE PLANES TO KEEP THEIR POSITION AND THE AIR WAS BLUE WITH PILOTS REMONSTRATING, IT WAS PANDEMONIUM. OUR PLANE WAS APPROACHING THE AREA AT THE CORRECT TIME AND THE PILOT DECIDED TO CIRCLE SOME WAY AWAY FROM THE ACTION UNTIL WE HAD THE ORDER TO BOMB ON THE RED FLARE. THIS WAS ACCOMPLISHED WITH DUE HASTE AND ACCURACY. ONCE THROUGH THE TARGET WE WERE CONTINUALLY HARRASSED BY GERMAN FIGHTERS. ONE IN PARTICULAR CAME FROM AFAR AND I COULD SEE HIS TRACER BULLETS GOING OVER THE TOP OF US. AS HE GOT WITHIN RANGE I OPENED FIRE AND HE PEELED OFF. I KNOW SOME OF MY SHOT HIT HIM. HE WHEELED ROUND AND CAME IN AGAIN, WELL OUT OF MY RANGE. BUT AGAIN HIS TRACERS WERE HIGH AND I SAT THERE FULLY EXPECTING TO GET THE FULL IMPACT. OUR PILOT WAS TWISTING AND TURNING [missing words]

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SUDDENLY HIS FIRING CEASED AND ROUND HE WENT AGAIN. THIS TIME HE JUST SAT OUT OF RANGE, WAGGLED HIS WINGS AND FLEW OFF. – WHY? – EITHER HE HAD RUN OUT OF AMMUNITION, OR HIS GUNS HAD JAMMED, EITHER WAY, IT WAS A RELIEF AND I SAID A FEW WORDS OF THANKS TO OUR GARDIAN [sic] ANGEL WE HAD OTHER ENCOUNTERS AFTER THAT BUT ARRIVED BACK WITH ONLY A FEW GASHES. ALL OUR OTHER CREWS ARRIVED BACK TO BASE AS WELL, AND HAD FARED [sic] IN THE SAME MANNER. OUR GROUPS LOSSES WERE 28 AIRCRAFT AND GROUP 5 LOST 14. WE WERE LUCKY BUT NONE OF US WOULD EVER EXPERIENCE ANYTHING LIKE IT AGAIN – OR FORGET IT – THE PATHFINDERS NEVER AGAIN MADE SUCH A MESS OF THINGS AND WENT ON TO BECOME A GREAT SUCCESS. THERE WAS A STORY THAT WENT AROUND SOME TIME AFTER. THE SPECIAL DUTIES FLIGHT AT BINBROOK UNDER COMMAND OF SQUADRON LEADER BILL BREAKSPEAR HAD BEEN AGAINST THE RAID BECAUSE OF THE BRIGHT MOON AND CLEAR SKY AND HAD SAID SO TO HARRIS, BUT HAD BEEN OVER RULED. AT THEIR NEXT MEETING BREAKSPEAR STORMED OUT OF THE ROOM WITHOUT SALUTING, HARRIS CALLED HIM BACK AND SAID “DON’T YOU SALUTE AIR CHIEF MARSHALLS” BREAKSPEAR REPLIED “NOT STUPID ONES – SIR,” HARRIS WAS NOT NAMED THE BUTCHER FOR NOTHING AND APPEARED NOT TO CARE ABOUT LOSSES OF MEN. AFTER MAILLY WE HAD A REST FOR A [missing words]

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WHICH BY NOW WAS BECOMING A WAY OF LIFE RENNES (FRANCE) DIEPPE (FRANCE) ORLEANS (FRANCE DORTMUND, AACHEN (GERMANY) TWICE ACHERES (FRANCE THIS WAS ON THE 6TH JUNE (D. DAY). WE TOOK OFF JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT AND RETURNED 5 1/2 hrs LATER TO BE TOLD THAT BRITISH & ALLIED TROOPS HAD MADE A SUCCESSFUL LANDING IN FRANCE. ALL OPERATIONS AFTER THAT WERE TO FULLY SUPPORT GROUND TROOPS FLEURS (FRANCE) ON THE 9TH ACHERES (FRANCE) 10TH THEN ON THE 13TH JUNE CAME THE SHOCK. WE WERE TO BE POSTED TO 300 (POLISH) SQUADRON TOGETHER WITH 5 OTHER EXPERIENCED CREWS IT SEEMED THAT 300 SQUADRON WERE LOSING A LOT OF AIRCRAFT AND WAS UNDER STRENGTH NO ONE WANTED TO LEAVE KILLINGHOLME WE HAD BUILT UP A GOOD REPUTATION LOSSES WERE LOW MISSIONS WERE ACCOMPLISHED AND WEIGHT OF BOMBS PER AIRCRAFT WERE THE HIGHEST IN THE GROUP. HOWEVER, ORDERS WERE ORDERS AND WITH MUCH MISGIVINGS WE WENT TO FALDINGWORTH NEAR LINCOLN. WE ARRIVED AND WERE SHOWN OUR QUARTERS, SAME NISSEN HUTS SAME TYPE OF BEDS NO OTHER COMFORTS THEN TAKEN TO THE MESS FOR A MEAL. TO PUT IT MILDLY POLISH FOOD HAD LITTLE ATTRACTION FOR US AND WE SETTLED FOR A GOOD FRY UP OF EGGS AND BACON. WE MANAGED TO INSIST ON AN ENGLISH MENUE. [sic] THE AIRCRAFT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO FLY WERE A DISGRACE AND FALLING TO PIECES [missing words]

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to FLY THEM AND OUR C/O BACKED US UP. WITHIN 2 DAYS WE HAD NEW LANCASTERS DELIVERED AND ON THE 14TH DID OUR FIRST OPERATION FOR 300 SQUADRON TO LE HAVRE. THE STATE OF THE OTHER AIRCRAFT THE POLES WERE FLYING GAVE US A GOOD IDEA WHY THEIR LOSSES WERE SO HIGH. BUT WITH OUR SUPPORT THINGS WERE TO CHANGE AND NEW AIRCRAFT ARRIVED ALMOST DAILY. THE POLES WERE A FRIENDLY LOT. VERY QUICK TO BUY A DRINK FOR THEIR ENGLISH FRIENDS, WE HAD BEEN WARNED NOT TO DISCUSS POLITICS, AS PART OF POLAND HAD BEEN HANDED OVER TO RUSSIA IN A DEAL BETWEEN ROOSEVELT CHURCHILL & STALIN. WE SETTLED IN VERY UNEASILY TO OUR NEW SQUADRON. MORE THOROUGH CHECKS ON EVERY NUT AND BOLT. WE DID OPPERATIONS [sic] TO AULNOYE (FRANCE) RHEIMS (FRANCE) AT THIS TIME LONDON WAS BEGINING [sic] TO GET ROCKET ATTACKS AND WE WERE SENT OUT WITH PATHFINDERS MARKING TARGETS, TO THE ROCKET SITES, THESE WERE MAINLY IN WOODLANDS HIDDEN BY TREES AND HEAVILY CAMAFLAGED [sic] WE STARTED DAILIGHT [sic] BOMBING. SOMETHING NEW FOR US. WE WERE USED TO BEING ON OUR OWN, NOT FLYING IN FORMATION. WHICH WAS FOR US, DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS & DISPENSED WITH RIGHT FROM THE START. THE “YANKS” HAD OUR ADMIRATION FOR THE WAY THEY FLEW IN FORMATION AND IT WAS LAUGHABLE WHEN, AS [missing words]

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IN PRETTY PATTERNS AND OUR STRAGGLY LOT ALL OVER THE PLACE. IT WAS ABOUT THIS TIME I WAS PROMOTED TO FLIGHT SERGEANT THIS MEANT A LITTLE EXTRA CASH AND WAS MOST WELCOME, AS VERY OFTEN WE HAD TO VISIT A RESTAURANT IN LINCOLN TO GET A DECENT MEAL. I BECAME QUITE A REGULAR CUSTOMER AT MRS HOLDEN’S FOR HER DELICIOUS CHICKEN LUNCH, AFTER WHICH AN EVENING IN THE SARACENS HEAD. OR AS IT WAS AFFECTIONALLY KNOWN “THE SNAKE PIT”. BY NOW THE 2ND FRONT WAS GETTING ESTABLISHED AND WE WERE ATTACKING TARGETS SUCH AS AULNOYE (MARSHALLING YARDS) RHEIMS (TROOP PLACEMENTS) SIRACOURT (ROCKETS) VIERZON (TROOPS) ORLEANS ROCKET LAUNCHERS IN DAYLIGHT, ALMOST EVERY DAY AND NIGHT WE WERE OUT. SOMETIMES RUNNING INTO FIGHTER AIRCRAFT, SOMETIMES HEAVY GUNFIRE BUT WE STEERED CLEAR OF TROUBLE. THEN CAME CAEN ON THE NORMANDY FRONT. THE BRITISH TROOPS WERE BEING HELD UP IN THEIR ADVANCE AND THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR US, WERE TO BOMB A VERY HEAVILY DEFENDED TOWN AND PANZER DIVISION. THE PATHFINDERS WERE TO GO IN FIRST AND DROP THEIR FLARES AND GIVE US INSTRUCTIONS ON WHICH COLOUR TO BOMB WE TOOK OFF AT 8 PM AND STILL VERY LIGHT WE COULD SEE ALL OUR OTHER LANCASTERS MAKING THEIR WAY TO DIFFERENT TARGETS, THERE WOULD BE 20-30 PLANES ON 1 COLOUR FLARE [missing words]

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WAS STILL LIGHT. OUR USUAL BOMBING HEIGHT WAS 20,000 FT FOR THIS ONE WE STARTED OFF AT 10,000 FT. BUT BECAUSE OF CLOUD HAD TO DECEND UNTIL WE COULD SEE OUR FLARE. BOMBING HAD TO BE SPOT ON BECAUSE OF THE NEARNESS OF BRITISH TROOPS ON THE GROUND. WE COULD SEE THE HOUSES, TROOPS, EVERYTHING – ESPECIALLY OTHER AIRCRAFT CONVERGING ON THE SAME TARGET SOME LOWER SOME HIGHER, THOSE THAT WERE HIGHER WERE OPENING THEIR BOMB BAYS RIGHT OVER HEAD OF US, AND AS I HEARD OUR BOMB AIMER SAY “BOMBS GONE” I COULD SEE ABOUT 3 OTHERS HIGHER, RELEASING THEIRS. I JUST SAT THERE AND PRAYED. THE BOMBS WERE FALLING ONE AFTER THE OTHER AND THANKFULLY MISSED THE TAIL, BY HOW MUCH I DONT KNOW BUT IT LOOKED PRETTY CLOSE. OUR LOSSES DURING THAT TRIP WERE PUT DOWN TO OUR OWN. WE WERE TO DO A COUPLE MORE TRIPS LIKE THAT. ON ONE WE EVEN GOT DOWN TO 1500 FT WHICH WAS VERY, VERY LOW. THEN ON THE 31ST JULY WE WERE TO DO OUR 30TH TRIP AND THE LAST ONE OF OUR FIRST TOUR. THEN ON TO 14 DAYS LEAVE. WE TRIED NOT TO THINK ABOUT IT UNTIL WE HAD OUT FOOT ON ENGLISH SOIL AGAIN, THIS TIME A ROCKET SITE. NO HASSEL. [sic] NO FLACK. NO FIGHTERS ONLY ON THE RETURN DID AN ENGINE PACK IN, AND WE HAD TO LAND AT A DIFFERENT BASE. WE WERE DEBRIEFED, AND WHEN THEY HEARD IT WAS OUR [missing words]

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THE AIRCREWS CAME OUT. IT WAS ABOUT 3 AM IN THE MORNING. WE HAD A BIT OF A PARTY BUT WE WERE LOOKED UPON LIKE FREAKS THE QUESTIONS WE WERE ASKED, IT WAS ALL A BIT OVERPOWERING. NEXT MORNING WE WERE NOT ALLOWED TO FLY BACK TO BASE THEY SENT A CAR TO TRANSPORT US AND A FRESH CREW TO TAKE OUR PLANE. ON ARRIVAL BACK AT FALDINGWORTH WE WERE DROPPED OFF AT THE C/O’S OFFICE TAKEN IN HAD A SHOT OF WHISKEY WITH HIM, SHOOK HANDS AND TOLD THAT ON THE FOLLOWING DAY WE WERE TO START OUR LEAVE. GET EVERY THING PACKED. THAT EVENING WE MET UP AS A CREW FOR THE LAST TIME. HAD A DRINK OR TWO AND SAID OUR CHEERIO’S. THE FOLLOWING MORNING RON, OUR PILOT & I WENT TO LINCOLN STATION CHANGED TRAINS AT PETERBOROUGH AND HENCE TO LONDON. THERE HE WENT OFF TO BRIGHTON & I TO TWICKENHAM.

JOB DONE, - NONE OF US MET UP AGAIN.

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TAILENDERS END TALES.

[circled 1] IT WAS DURING OCTOBER 43 THAN [sic] OUR PILOT CALLED A CREW MEETING. HIS OPENING WORDS WERE “WE HAVE BEEN TOGETHER LONG ENOUGH, I TAKE IT THAT WE ARE HAPPY WITH THE WAY WE OPPERATE [sic] TOGETHER”. WE ALL AGREED. HE CARRIED ON. “AS I SEE IT. I AM JUST THE DRIVER. ART (NAVIGATOR) GIVES ME THE COURSE. I FLY IT OVER THE TARGET. DAVE (BOMAIMER) [sic] GIVES ME DIRECTIONS. – I FLY IT -. KEN. [deleted] YOU [/deleted] I RELY ON YOU TO GIVE ME CORRECT MESSAGES THAT COME OVER THE RADIO. AND I ACT ON IT. BILL. – AS GUNNER, YOU ARE OUR EYES. ANY TIME YOU SEE WE ARE BEING ATTACKED, YOU GIVE ME DIRECTIONS FOR EVASIVE ACTION. – STRAIGHT AWAY. ALL OF YOU, TELL ME, I WILL FOLLOW YOUR ORDERS WITHOUT QUESTION OR HESITATION. – ANY QUESTIONS NOW.” DURING PRACTICE RON & I EVOLVED A SERIES OF MANOEVERS [sic] FOR EVASIVE ACTION. THAT THEY WORKED WAS ONLY DUE TO THE WAY THE LANCASTER WAS BUILT.

[circled 2] ONE NIGHT WHILST ON A TRAINING FLIGHT WE RAN INTO AN ELECTRICAL STORM. LIGHTENING FLASHED AND THE AIRCRAFT WAS TOSSED ABOUT BUT WHAT WAS MOST FRIGHTENING WAS THE WAY SPARKS WERE LEAPING FROM ONE METAL OBJECT TO ANOTHER. RUNNING THE LENGTH OF THE GUN BARRELL AND ALL ROUND THE TURRET I WAS GLAD WHEN WE WERE OUT OF IT.

[circled 3] ON SQUADRON THE GROUND CREW WERE FANTASTIC

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THE SERGEANT WAS THERE IN THE MORNINGS AND THERE WHEN WE TOOK OFF AT NIGHT. – AND THERE AGAIN ON OUR RETURN, WHEN HE SLEPT I DONT KNOW. BUT THEY WERE DEDICATED TO GIVING US THE BEST SERVICE.

[circled 4] OUR SQUADRON BASE AT KILLINGHOLME WAS CLOSE TO THE HUMBER RIVER. THE PORT OF HULL ONE SIDE AND GRIMSBY THE OTHER. VERY OFTEN BOTH PLACES WERE SUBJECTED TO HEAVY BOMBING BY THE GERMAN AIR FORCE. QUITE OFTEN THESE RAIDS CO-INCIDED WITH OUR TAKE OFF TIME, SO THAT BOTH AIRFORCES WERE IN THE AIR OVER GRIMSBY AT THE SAME TIME AND WE WERE OFTEN CAUGHT UP IN OUR OWN SEARCHLIGHTS. WITH THE NEXT GROUP OF SEARCHLIGHTS HOLDING A GERMAN BOMBER IN ITS BEAMS. WE HAD TO SIGNAL IN MORSE TO THE GROUND FOR THEM TO SWITCH OFF.

[circled 5] DURING THE TRIP ON AACHEN AT THE END OF MAY, ART, OUR NAVIGATOR ANNOUNCED THAT HE WAS ALWAYS SO BUSY PLOTTING THE NEXT COURSE AFTER THE TARGET, THAT HE HAD NEVER THE CHANCE TO SEE THE TARGET. THE NAVIGATORS CUBBY HOLE WAS ALL SHUT IN BECAUSE HE HAD TO HAVE LIGHT TO WORK BY. ON THIS TRIP HE DECLARED HE WOULD GIVE THE PILOT THE COURSE TO FOLLOW BEFORE HAND. SWITCH HIS LIGHTS OUT AND SEE WHAT WENT ON. THIS HE DID. IT HAPPENED THAT IT WAS A HECTIC NIGHT. AND THE FIREWORK DISPLAY WAS BRILLIANT. WE HEARD ART GASP. [missing words]

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I WOULDN’T HAVE COME.” I DONT THINK HE PEEKED OUT AGAIN.

[circled 6] 3RD MAY. THE PERIOD OF FULL MOON. WE TOOK OFF CLIMBED THROUGH BILLOWING WHITE CLOUD AT 10,000 FT INTO FULL MOONLIGHT. THE SIGHT WAS BREATHTAKING THE MOON SHONE ON THE CLOUDS LIKE DRIFTS OF SNOW. YOU COULD SEE FOR MILES, LANCASTERS ALL OVER THE SKY. OUR PILOT WAS SO CARRIED AWAY AT THE BEAUTY OF IT, HE FLEW THE AIRCRAFT LIKE A SLEIGH, SKIMMING THE TOPS OF THE CLOUDS AND WHOOPING LIKE A COWBOY. IT WAS INDEED A GRAND SIGHT. PITY IT WAS GOING TO BE SPOILT LATER THAT NIGHT.

[circled 7] AFTER WE HAD FINISHED OUR TOUR AND THE CREW HAD GONE OUR DIFFERENT WAYS, I WAS TO BE POSTED TO BRIDGENORTH AS INSTRUCTOR. IT WAS THERE THAT I WAS INFORMED THAT I WAS ELIGIBLE FOR 2 SERVICE MEDALS. THE 1939/45 STAR. AND THE AIRCREW EUROPE STAR AND CLASP. MY THOUGHTS IMMEDIATELY WENT TO GEORGE. HE MUST HAVE LAUGHED HIS SOCKS OFF.

Collection

Citation

Bill Freeman, “Bill Freeman's Service Career,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 7, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/35500.

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