Interview with Peter Zolty


Interview with Peter Zolty


Peter was born in Erdington, Birmingham. He joined the RAF and was trained at the Empire Air Training School in Canada. He re-mustered as a navigator and was with 49 Squadron for a short time. Peter then joined 106 Squadron and did a tour of 34 operations. Members of his crew included: Maurice Daniel (pilot), Fred Berry, Ken King (flight engineer), Peter Whaight (mid upper gunner) and John Keating (rear gunner). Flights could be 13 hours each way. It was a mixed squadron with different nationalities. Dr Cohen, the local Jewish minister, gave him a dispensation from following Jewish dietary laws. Apart from bombing operations, Peter also did some mine laying on the sea between Denmark and Sweden. As a navigator, he received relatively scant briefings on the weather forecast and targets. Peter describes his navigation aids, and aircraft gathering at RAF Metheringham before flying as a group to Reading. Peter benefited from the Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation (FIDO) at RAF Metheringham. In 1945 he was posted to an Operational Training Unit and became an instructor. Towards the end of the war, he was a photographic officer in Italy for a year and then left the RAF. He returned to his job at Lucas.




Temporal Coverage




00:39:07 Audio Recording


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AZoltySP220804, PZoltySP2201


HB: Right. This is an interview between Harry Bartlett and Peter Zolty. Peter was a navigator with 106 Squadron in Bomber Command, 5 Group and the interview is taking place at his residence, current residence and it’s the 4th of August and it’s, I wonder what the time is?
Other: 10.47.
HB: It’s 10.45.
PZ: That’s the day, the day when the war broke out didn’t it? 4th of August it was.
HB: Something like that. Yeah.
PZ: I think. Or something like that anyway.
HB: So, can I first —
PZ: Ask me —
HB: Can I first of all thank you Peter for agreeing to be interviewed. It’s important we get your story recorded. What I’d like to do if possible is to start with where you were born and where you sort of went to school and got your first job.
PZ: I was born in, well in Birmingham. In Erdington actually. Lindridge Road, Erdington and we lived then in Speedwell Road and that’s where, that’s where I grew up. I went, there was a Jewish School there in Birmingham. There still is actually but it’s not in the same place and I went there. And I also went to Five Ways School which was at Five Ways in Birmingham but I was removed from there because of misbehaviour [laughs] So that’s all I can really say about that. After that I went to Handsworth Junior Technical School and I never, I never went to university. I never got to that standard.
HB: Did you get any qualifications at the Technical School?
PZ: No. I didn’t. I don’t have any qualifications at all.
HB: Right.
PZ: Other than TBE. Taught By Experience.
HB: I like that. So what, what age were you when you left school, Peter?
PZ: Pardon?
HB: What age were you when you left school?
PZ: When I left school? I must have been about fifteen.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Handsworth Junior Technical School that was.
HB: And did you get, did you get work straight away?
PZ: Yeah. I got a job as a laboratory assistant at, I think it was at Birmingham University in the Chemistry, in the Chemistry Department as far as I can remember. Nothing, nothing very special. You know, first jobs were always fifteen shillings a week in those days.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. So, but you obviously moved on from, from the University.
PZ: Pardon?
HB: You moved on from the University.
PZ: Only, I was only a lab assistant anyway.
HB: Yeah. Where did you, where were you in the ‘30s? 1930s. When it was coming up to the war.
PZ: Oh, I lived at home in Speedwell Road, Birmingham.
HB: Yeah. And were you, were you working somewhere else then as you were coming up to the war starting?
PZ: I’m trying, I’m just trying to think. I can’t remember if I had a job before that.
HB: Was it, would you have got a job at Lucas?
PZ: No. No. Not straight away.
HB: No.
PZ: I was a laboratory assistant. Oh, I was a laboratory assistant to some —
HB: Yeah.
PZ: To some bloke. I can’t remember his name now but he said I was, he said I was useless. I didn’t turn up to time on [laughs] mostly but anyway —
HB: But you managed to move on.
PZ: I managed that —
HB: And eventually —
PZ: Well, my father was at Lucas and he got me a job at Lucas.
HB: Right. What were you doing at Lucas?
PZ: I was, I was in the tool drawing office first.
HB: Oh.
PZ: I later graduated to machine tools.
HB: Right.
PZ: And I worked my way through various levels of machine tool design and various complicated machine tools. I used to, I used to design them.
HB: Right. Right. Very important work then.
PZ: Hmmn?
HB: Important work.
PZ: Yeah. I did try training as a pilot but I think God, God decided I wasn’t a pilot.
HB: Did, how did you, how did you come to join the RAF?
PZ: Well, I always wanted to fly so I, I went along to the Recruiting Office and signed on and things just seemed to hang about so I went and asked my immediate boss if anything had been done to prevent me from going on to do other things. And he said no it hadn’t. Well, I said, ‘Well, if I’m worth keeping on I’m worth another five shillings a week.’ But he said I wasn’t [laughs] and so I, I joined the Air Force and said I wanted to be a pilot. I went over to Canada on the Empire, Empire Air Training School. I got so far but they decided that I wasn’t a pilot so I remustered as a navigator. I remember sending a cable to my mother at home what had happened and I trained as a navigator then.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: And —
HB: Which, which school? Can you remember which school you went to in Canada?
PZ: Handsworth Junior Technical —
HB: No, sorry the —
PZ: I went to Five Ways first of all. A grammar school.
HB: Yeah. No, the, the —
PZ: And then I got in a bit of trouble there.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Because I pinched another boy’s, I pinched another boy’s book.
HB: Right. No. I was thinking, I was thinking of the RAF training school in Canada.
PZ: Oh.
HB: Can you —
PZ: The Empire Air Training Scheme. That was at [pause] I think it was, yes I think it was London, Ontario as far as I can remember.
HB: Yeah. Yeah, that yeah that’s great. So you started off as a pilot.
PZ: No. I started off with the intention of being a pilot.
HB: Oh, right. Yeah.
PZ: And they decided eventually that there I was washed out. I wasn’t good enough.
HB: Right.
PZ: And I wouldn’t argue with that. I made a, made a bit of a mess of one or two landings which I shouldn’t do and lost height on turns which I shouldn’t do so I remustered as a navigator.
HB: Right.
PZ: And that I was perfectly capable of doing. I mean modern airliners the pilots don’t navigate they’re just told which direction to fly in.
HB: So you’re the most important man in the aircraft then.
PZ: Eh?
HB: You’re the most important man in the aircraft.
PZ: In a sense I suppose so. Yes.
HB: Yeah. So —
PZ: But the flights used to last up to about thirteen hours sometimes with the same pilot. Nowadays I gather they have to change pilots after about eight hours or something like that.
HB: Yeah. So you went to Canada.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Did you finish your navigation training in Canada?
PZ: Yes. Yes.
HB: You did.
PZ: And then came back here to [pause] what was the name of the place? I can’t remember the name —
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Of the station we were at and and crewing up was a scrappy sort of business. You just, we were, we used to do cross country runs which meant running around the perimeter of the aeroplane, of the airfield. And as we were running around one bloke said he was a pilot and so I said, ‘Well, I’m a navigator’ and that way we crewed up.
HB: Oh right. So you were just sort of a bit of a runaround.
PZ: It’s a bit of an ad hoc.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Yes, being —
HB: So they didn’t put you all in a big hangar and say, ‘Go and sort yourselves out.’
PZ: Oh no. No. They —
HB: No.
PZ: We did more or less sort ourselves out.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. What was the name of your pilot? Can you remember?
PZ: Yes, it was Daniel. Maurice Daniel. He went on to become a group captain and the air attaché in Washington but I don’t know whether he’s still alive.
HB: Right.
PZ: He finished up with the DFC because any crew which finished a tour of operations the captain got the DFC.
HB: Yeah. You see I’ve got it down until I saw your logbook I’ve got it down that you were with 106 Squadron.
PZ: That’s right.
HB: But you actually started —
PZ: I started with 49 Squadron.
HB: With 49 Squadron. Yeah.
PZ: But that was a 49.
HB: Yeah. Yeah.
PZ: Yeah, that was just one of those things that happened. I was only with 49 Squadron for a short time and then went to 106 Squadron which I served a complete tour of operations.
HB: Yeah. You flew, you flew your first, it looks like you flew your first proper night time operation in August ’44 with Flying Officer Daniel to Kӧnigsberg.
PZ: Where?
HB: Kӧnigsberg. That was your first operation.
PZ: We went there two nights in a row actually where I was thinking of casually about it sometimes and the flight to Kӧnigsberg was thirteen hours each way. Nowadays pilots are only allowed to do eight hours.
HB: Yeah. That was, so that was a very long, a very long operation.
PZ: It was a long operation. We did it two nights in succession actually.
HB: Yeah. And that was your first one.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: How did you feel after you’d done your first operation and landed?
PZ: Relieved.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: There was always, because, because first of all there was always before going there was an operational meal in the Mess which was always bacon and eggs and on coming back there was another operational meal which was all bacon and eggs. And I remember the, we wore soft leather flying helmets in those days and you took it off and the relief in getting a good scratch [laughs] You can’t imagine it.
HB: So [laughs] Yeah. So the helmet was an interference with you.
PZ: Yes, soft leather.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Not the bone domes that they are now.
HB: Yeah. So obviously your religion is Jewish.
PZ: Yes.
HB: How did you, how did you go on about eating?
PZ: About what?
HB: About eating your operational —
PZ: Yes.
HB: Eggs and bacon?
PZ: Oh, the local minister was a Dr Cohen. A Jewish minister who was a giant among British Jewry and he said, ‘If we found that we were unable to follow the dietary laws we would not be committing any sort of a sin’ and he gave, he gave us the all clear really. Because more often than not the operational meal would be egg and bacon.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. And just, that just sort of begs the question, Peter. A lot, a lot of Jewish aircrew were given the opportunity to fly under a different name and have a different religion put on their dog tags.
PZ: I never came across that funnily enough.
HB: No.
PZ: No. Never.
HB: So nobody actually suggested it to you. You just carried on as you were.
PZ: No, I just carried on.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: And crewing up we used to go for, just to keep fit to run the circuit around the outskirts of the airfield and it was a casual attitude. I was running around once and one bloke said he was a pilot and I said, ‘Well, I’m a navigator.’ Boom we were a crew.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. Can you remember any of your other crew that flew with you?
PZ: Yeah. There was, there was Danny. Maurice Daniel who went on to become a group captain. There was Fred Berry. Nicknamed. Already had a child so we nicknamed him Logan. Ken King was from Gloucester was the flight engineer. Peter Whaight, W H A I G H T, was the mid-upper gunner and John Keating from Ireland was the rear gunner. He went back home to Ireland. Pete Whaight went home to Middlesex and Johnny Keating went to Ireland and went to jail we heard. And that’s it.
HB: Did you, did you keep in touch with them after the war?
PZ: No. I didn’t actually.
HB: Right. Right. I just sort of while you were talking I was just having a quick look through your logbook which obviously you started in August ’44 and you’re flying. You’re flying operations virtually every three or four days.
PZ: Yes. Usually two days in a row and then odd nights it was night bombing.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Mostly night time and it was two nights in a row and then one night off. That would raise it roughly.
HB: Yeah. Because I noticed. I noticed in here you did a couple of, you did a couple of daytime operations.
PZ: Yes. We did.
HB: One to Boulogne and one to Le Havre.
PZ: Yeah, they were. I thought there was one to an island in Holland called Westkapelle. There may have been which I remember putting in the logbook.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: In brackets — very dicey [laughs] because there was, you know there was no danger in it at all. Usually, thought it wasn’t only my name. It wasn’t only bombing. We did minelaying in the Kattegat as well. The island between Denmark and Sweden.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. Can you remember?
PZ: The actual water there. The sea.
HB: Yeah. What, can you remember what that was called in your book? In your logbook.
PZ: My what?
HB: Can you remember what those operations were called in your logbook?
PZ: They are. They were recorded in my logbook.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Yes.
HB: Yeah. So —
PZ: You’ve got my logbook there haven’t you?
HB: I just noted —
PZ: That is my logbook isn’t it?
HB: Yes, it is.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: It is and it’s quite interesting. You got an operation [pause] it’s just —
PZ: We did some mine laying once.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: I remember that.
HB: It says on in November 1944 you were attached to BDU.
PZ: Sorry?
HB: BDU for —
HB: For LORAN training.
PZ: Sorry?
HB: For LORAN training.
HB: Yeah.
[recording paused]
HB: We just had a member of staff just step in for a minute. That’s all.
[personal talk about shower gel]
HB: Okay. Yes, it’s got, it’s got in your book attached to BDU for LORAN training in November ’44 and it’s got your pilot was a Flight Lieutenant French.
PZ: Flight lieutenant?
HB: French. And it says you went to Lyon. You flew to Lyon but you had an early return because the PI died.
PZ: I can’t remember that.
HB: No. I’m just, I’ve not seen PI died so I mean I presume that was probably a bit of kit. Something, some equipment in the aircraft. But it —
PZ: I don’t know.
HB: Yeah. It just says, “Early return. PI died.” So —
PZ: Oh, it’s something instrument that is.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. So what was the other one? Sorry.
PZ: The wireless operator was a Fred Berry.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: We called him Logan.
HB: Yeah. That’s a good one that one. You went, you then went back obviously you were only there for a, for a month. You went back to 106.
PZ: Yeah. And once we, once we’d completed a set of operations like that I become an instructor.
HB: Yeah. Yeah, I noticed that. I was going to ask you actually because you did a daylight raid which has, which has been recorded quite a lot in January ’45 against the Dortmund Ems Canal.
PZ: That’s right. Yes.
HB: Can you, can you remember much about that one? That operation.
PZ: Not really. We were probably trying to burst the banks of the canals or something like that but I don’t really remember it now.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: I served in two squadrons as I said. 49 and 106.
HB: Yeah. I think that was when you were flying with 106 and you did, that was your twentieth operation. How would, how would you be feeling then about twenty operations in.
PZ: Oh they were then said to be thirty operations was one tour. But when we got to twenty six we found we’d got another four on top of that. Thirty four. Because we were a very mixed squadron. We had Australian, South African who were, they were, they were army rather than Air Force and the Australians wore the dark blue uniform. Not the dark RAF blue. But yeah, we all mixed together perfectly well.
HB: Yeah. So was everybody in your crew from the United Kingdom or did you —
PZ: No. The bomb aimer was from Canada.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: The wireless operator was from England somewhere. The rear gunner was from Ireland. When he went back home afterwards he got sent to jail we heard. And the mid-upper gunner was from somewhere in Middlesex.
HB: Right. So you’d got a Canadian in the crew.
PZ: Oh yeah. Joe [Howey] was a Canadian.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: He went back home and married his childhood sweetheart.
HB: Oh right. Did you go to the wedding?
PZ: No. It was in Canada.
HB: Right. Yeah. So, so you’re doing, you’re back to doing operations sort of every two or three days into 1945.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: What did, did you have any involvement in the D-Day?
PZ: No, but we —
HB: Sorry, the crossing the Rhine going into Germany.
PZ: Not particularly. No.
HB: No.
PZ: Not that I remember anyway.
HB: Right. Right. Where are we? Yeah. You got one, you’ve got one here where you flew to Czechoslovakia.
PZ: To where?
HB: To Czechoslovakia. A place called [Bruckes]
PZ: Called?
HB: Bruckes.
PZ: I don’t remember the name to be perfectly honest.
HB: No.
PZ: But if it’s there we must have done it.
HB: Yeah. That’s alright. That’s not a problem. So just tell me a little bit about what you, once you’ve got an operation and you’ve been called in to be briefed. You know, that you’re going to go and fly that night.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Or whatever.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: What was, what was the process Peter that you went through?
PZ: Well, the navigators were briefed with forecasts about the weather and talk about the target and all the rest of it and that was it. But then we did a, we had a talk from the Met man telling us what the weather was expected to be like and that was the extent of briefing quite frankly.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: But as I say we flew operations of up to thirteen or fourteen hours which they don’t do today.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: As civilian pilots.
HB: Yeah. Did you, what equipment did you have to help you do your navigation?
PZ: There was something called Gee. G E E, which relied, it was passive in that it relied on joining up two, two timed signals on the ground and it relied on the difference between them and that told you exactly. It gave you a point on where you were. And there was something we called H2S which didn’t mean anything at all other than the fact that it was a signal generated from the nose of the aircraft. But it was never used because the Germans could hold, could home in on that and just pick you off as it were.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: But we, we finished a whole chain of tours. A whole chain of trips. About thirty four roughly and with one tiny little hole in the side of the, inside of the, on the side of the aircraft. ZNU-Uncle it was.
PZ: ZNU-Uncle.
HB: Yeah. You’ve, yeah you’ve —
PZ: [PB] 284.
HB: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I’ve got that one.
PZ: Yes. And H2S relied on us, a signal sent out from the aircraft which was not, which was not done very much because the Germans could home in on it.
HB: Yeah. Did, did when you had a hole in the aircraft was that from flak or was it from some other —
PZ: We think it might have been an odd bit of flak.
HB: Yeah. So —
PZ: Only a little triangular hole. No real damage.
HB: So when you set off from —
PZ: It was Metheringham.
HB: Metheringham.
PZ: And Fiskerton previously. I think it was.
HB: Yeah. When you set off from Metherington [sic]
PZ: Yeah.
HB: You were sort of —
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Your pilot would climb you up.
PZ: We all cornered in. We all hove to over Reading so that we then, that we then flew together as a complete, as a block. As a bunch giving some mutual defence.
HB: Yeah. Yeah, and that, so that was so you sort of gathered up at Metheringham and then made your way gradually to Reading.
PZ: Reading. And then we all flew together.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: It made you know allowing for instrument error and so on but it was one big bunch of aircraft flying at the same time then.
HB: Yeah. Did you, did you ever, did you get attacked by night fighters or anything like that?
PZ: No. The only time I was frightened it was a psychological thing and that was when there was another Lancaster flying directly above us with his bomb doors open and I was truly frightened by that until he moved away apparently from us.
HB: I think you were right to be frightened.
PZ: What might have happened.
HB: Yeah. So, so that would be on the bomb run coming in to your target.
PZ: Yeah. We did one or two easy ones I’d say like some over Holland and the Zuiderzee and that sort of thing which were, which were a doddle. And we did mine laying as well on the coast on the sea between Denmark and Sweden.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. Did you have, I didn’t notice in here if you ever did a operation to Wessel [pause] Wessel.
PZ: Zeebrugge?
HB: Wessel.
PZ: Sorry?
HB: Wessel.
PZ: Doesn’t ring a bell. I’m sorry.
HB: No. It’s, it’s alright it’s just one. I haven’t noticed it in your book but it’s one that the squadron was in. One that the squadron was involved in. That was, that was getting across the Rhine into Germany.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: That was the bombing just in advance —
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Of that.
PZ: I remember because we had South African members of the squadron as well. They were, they were part of the army. The South African army. It wasn’t the Air Force at all.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: And they used to put [unclear] about bigger and better operations and so on. Captain [Pecci] was the officer that particular one. And that was it.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: We had a feeling that other people get shot down we don’t. That was, and that was how you protected yourself in a way.
HB: And so obviously you had a lot of faith in your pilot as well.
PZ: Absolutely. He was very good. I say he, he was flying he was promoted to group captain and he went to, he went off to Washington DC to be the air attaché. I don’t think he’s still alive now.
HB: No. No. The, one of the things we mentioned Metheringham when you were stationed at Metheringham.
PZ: Yes.
HB: Metheringham is quite famous.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Because they they did some experimental stuff there didn’t they for when you were coming back?
PZ: Yeah. We were at Metheringham and Fiskerton.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Two stages we flew from.
HB: Yeah. Metheringham. Didn’t that have these the thing for when when it got foggy?
PZ: Sorry.
HB: When it got foggy. When you were coming back in fog didn’t Metheringham have that experimental system?
PZ: Oh, FIDO. Fog Intense Dispersal Of. If it was on —
HB: Yeah.
PZ: If there was any fog they were along across. One alongside and one along each side of the runway and they got fuel burning in those and it generated enough local heat to lift the, to lift the fog so you could just see down. And we had a special arrangement of, for 5 Group aircraft who would get into what they called the funnels. That’s coming in towards where you were landing and the pilot just, I used to call out to the pilot you know first of all height and direction and then later on funnels as we got down on the ground.
HB: So you were still involved in the, in the landing process.
PZ: In that. In that sense, yes.
HB: Yeah. Yeah.
PZ: We had, there were the, an instrument called Gee. G E E. Never ever knew what it stood for but it was a means. It was an aid to navigation.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: And you could, you could use that to guide the aircraft.
HB: Did you ever land using, when they were using FIDO?
PZ: I think we were, we were once. We were diverted. Diverted to Croft up in Yorkshire just once.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: That was presumably because of the landing conditions at Metheringham.
HB: Yeah. And you said at, you said a little while ago that when you came to the end of your tour and yeah you did thirty four, thirty five ops, when you came to the end of your tour you went to operational training.
PZ: Yeah. Just to become an instructor. That was all that it was.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: And we, when we and that was what it was. We instructed future navigators or future crews.
HB: Can you remember where? Where you went to?
PZ: I’m not absolutely sure but it might have been a place called Fiskerton but I’m not certain.
HB: Well, I’ve got in your book here it says 6th of April ’45. On the 6th of April 1945 you were posted to Number 29 Operational Training Unit at Bruntingthorpe.
PZ: Oh yeah.
HB: In Leicestershire.
PZ: That was in north, that’s in East Anglia as well.
HB: Yeah. Leicestershire. South Leicestershire.
PZ: Yes. I can’t really. I can’t really remember that. I remember when there were supposed to be thirty tours in an operational life.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: And we were sitting in the Mess one night after having done twenty six and I said, ‘Only four to go.’ And one, then they suddenly announced over the tannoy another four operations to go on top of that. And I remember one of the South Africans guys saying what we want is bigger and better tours.
HB: Which I don’t think you wanted did you? By then.
PZ: No. No way.
HB: Yeah. So what, the whole experience of flying on operations. What sort of effect did it have on you Peter?
PZ: I I can remember at the time, I mean we used to get leave fairly regularly and we were at some relation’s house in Birmingham somewhere and I remember sitting at a table like this. That was the only visible evidence ever.
HB: Drumming your fingers.
PZ: Yes. Yes.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: And when we stopped flying that stopped as well.
HB: So, so that was something you.
PZ: It was a bit of nerves I suppose.
HB: Yeah. Where you just drummed your fingers on on your hand on the table.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. So what, what do you think? What do you think your contribution was in Bomber Command then?
PZ: My contribution?
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Well, we tried to be as accurate as we could. Can’t do more. We weren’t the Dambusters and, but we did, we did, well we dropped quite large bombs in to one or two canals which threw them out of action and flooded the countryside underneath at the same time.
HB: Do you think what you did had a, had a big effect on the war itself?
PZ: I suppose it must have done. We liked to think it did anyway.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. And so coming up to the end of the war you’re in 1945 coming up in to ‘46.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: When did you leave the RAF? Can you remember Peter?
PZ: Yeah. Well, I remember going for [pause] the crew split up and that was that and I remember going for a training course on photography and then I became photographic officer in Italy for about a year. Then I came out after that.
HB: Did you? And what, what was your process for finishing? How did they manage your coming out?
PZ: Oh, it was just being photographic officer in Italy was just a piece of cake really.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Just decided go out. And I was very disappointed that they didn’t fly us home. We came home by train. Called Medloc Mediterranean location overseas. It was. It was —
HB: Yeah.
PZ: We came out and that was that.
HB: Can you remember where you went to be demobbed? Where you got your suit and your trilby hat?
PZ: I can’t actually.
HB: No. That’s fine. That’s fine. I know most of the guys I speak to talk about the demob being a little bit of a, almost a bit of a joke.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: Well, I was demobbed. I went back to work with Lucas’ where I’d been before.
PZ: Yeah. Had they kept your job open for you?
HB: Oh yes. They were, they were under obligation in those days from the government to give people back their jobs once they came back from military service.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: And you were still a single man then.
PZ: I’d, I had a pretty good job in Lucas then. I was, and you know I served out my time and then I opted for early retirement.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Just going back to when you were at Metheringham when you were flying operations what did you do for entertainment?
PZ: We used to go to the local pub and have a sing song. That was the main thing.
HB: Did you ever have any shows at the, at the airfield.
PZ: No. No. No. It was self-provided so to speak.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Usually the singing of dirty songs.
HB: Yeah. And, and did you go to the local dances?
PZ: Yes. I couldn’t dance.
HB: Oh, so you didn’t get the opportunity to mix with the young ladies then.
PZ: No. Not really. No.
HB: Oh dear. Right. So, when you look back on your time now, you know you’re a hundred years old now, Peter. You don’t look it I have to say but you’re a hundred years old. You look back on that time of your life. What, what do you think it contributed to your later life?
PZ: Well, it made me thankful to be alive I suppose. That’s the main thing.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Yeah. And I’ve got a, and I have a family now as well. I lost my wife about ten years ago.
HB: Oh right.
PZ: We were married for what, fifty two years. But you know the Jewish community everybody knows everybody and that and, and my wife came from that community and we had Natalie.
HB: Yeah. Yeah. That’s lovely. Well, I think Peter we’ve sort of come towards a bit of a natural end to the interview and I just want to say thank you very much.
PZ: Oh, you’re welcome.
HB: You know, your contribution is there now forever.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: You know, and people can look into and listen to your interview and they can look into your logbooks and they can do it all on the computer nowadays.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: You know, but it is looked after by Lincoln University.
PZ: It’s only recently I gave my grandson my logbook. That’s a fact.
HB: Yeah. Well, I’m going to stop the interview now Peter. It’s [pause] well we’re nearly on forty minutes so we’ve done quite well and can I thank you on behalf of the Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive.
PZ: Yes.
HB: And thank you personally.
PZ: Yeah.
HB: I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s really been interesting.
PZ: Eventually I did go to the Memorial. The Memorial at Erewash in North Midlands. In Staffordshire I think it is.
HB: Yeah.
PZ: Where there was a, there was a Memorial specifically mentioned Bomber Command and I remember going there. And I remember also a group of four of us were in, in London by Marble Arch.
HB: Green Park.
PZ: The arch.
HB: Green Park.
PZ: Green Park. There was a Memorial there and we had, we had the photograph taken there.
HB: Yeah. That’s, that’s the one that the Bomber Command veterans helped to get off the ground. It was —
PZ: I remember standing there while a photograph was taken.
HB: Yeah. That’s lovely. Well thank you, Peter.
PZ: Oh, you’re welcome.
HB: Thank you for that.



Harry Bartlett, “Interview with Peter Zolty,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 19, 2024,

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