Interview with Frank Dennis. Part two

Title

Interview with Frank Dennis. Part two

Description

Frank Dennis is presented with information gathered by researchers following his initial interview. His aircraft was attacked on an operation and the researchers were looking for further information about it.
Frank talks about the Luftwaffe's Tame Boar and Wild Boar tactics and of reading transcripts of enemy air to ground communications. He also mentions meeting up with some of his old crew at reunions and remembers friends he lost.

Date

2014

Language

Type

Format

00:18:57 audio recording

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.

Contributor

Identifier

ADennisF090301_2.2

Transcription

Interviewer: Absolutely.
FD: [unclear] another way.
Interviewer: Absolutely my pleasure.
FD: I’m very grateful.
Interviewer: We have got these various bits and pieces. I can’t remember if [pause] bits. Just bits of info. I can’t remember some of them so if you’ve seen them before or not but I’ve brought some copies of some bits. Obviously, they don’t give you the copies in the [unclear] raids. I can’t understand, but anyway —
FD: I think you did actually.
Interviewer: Well, I’ve got some [unclear] on there. They were some notes that I made for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Just a list of the losses that there was from a Bomber Command at War book in our care.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: Well, the reason I’ve done copies of these is for the pictures from, they’re just photographs but that’s the Calais raid, the 25th of September.
FD: Oh yes.
Interviewer: Let’s have a little look. There’s another one [unclear] That’s that same raid 25th of April.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: ’45.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: And there’s just some, just a couple of pictures that I couldn’t remember if I’d done you copies of but I’ve got some on there. There you go. I mean there’s that one that’s like it.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: The same, same picture but it’s not [unclear] —
FD: You can see.
Interviewer: But you can actually make out what’s —
FD: Well, they were all, I don’t know, right close together.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: In that place.
Interviewer: And then again you’ve got, that’s the same raid again. Frisian Islands but it’s like saying about the Halifaxes.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: That’s actually one of the Halifaxes that had its tail shot off. Its somewhere in mid-air.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: As far as I could see.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: It was such a shame to see them go down. Yeah. I thought it’s quite a [pause] quite a good book. This is a general guidebook.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: And I just, I just happened to flick through it and saw them and obviously that’s the —
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: The chapters.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: From the old book. The others are more of the same copies.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: And then I went through the information I could find which is the same as in the RCAF book. It’s all the different air frames with the numbers and then the dates that they were written off or whatever. Obviously then I went through it again. The same thing. U-Uncle there.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: The others. All the others. Absolutely brilliant.
FD: I must have flown in some of those [unclear] Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. And of course, they did the same thing. We were finding that was the stuff they did find out.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: About the old birds and the American aircraft. The one thing I did find which was unusual the Fokke Wulf 190s were used earlier on in the war. Wild Boar tactics where they just sent them off and said go and find the bomber stream and look after it by yourself but it wasn’t very successful. So they then started using the Tame Boar which was where they used the Junkers 88s predominantly but also used Dorniers if they had to.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: Dorniers were more [unclear] and they used those as better than using radar [unclear] attack.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: That, that was much more successful 109s, Dorniers and —
Other: 110s which —
FD: 110s.
Interviewer: 110s sorry.
FD: They were always used.
Interviewer: But what they did then later on is to reactivate the Wild Boar tactics but there was only a couple of night fighters units did it. They were absolutely the top notch night fighter chaps.
FD: Yeah. Yes.
Interviewer: So the chap who, who went after you was absolutely top of the line. There’s no doubt about it.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: And I did actually write to the German Night Fighters, well German Fighter Pilots Association and said, “Have you got any information?” I had a unit and unfortunately I got no reply from them and basically I said, “Have you got any information of any claims from the 1st of November?” Particularly this one. Particularly that was operating 190s, Fokke Wulf 190s and that were Nachtjagdgruppe 10. But I’ve had no reply from them. But that was the letter where I wrote. There’s also a letter that I wrote to the other two chaps.
FD: Oh yes.
Interviewer: [unclear] they had [unclear] they had no [pause] they had no information unfortunately. That was also that was a letter I sent to them.
FD: Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: Basically even if it was just something like yes it was that unit. Yes, we think it was this chap or whatever.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: The problem we had was that most of the personal records had been lost towards the end of the war.
FD: Yeah. Did I tell you, Steve?
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: That we had an intelligence room. Well, we had these on stations and aircrew were encouraged to meet. And after, I used to go up there quite often and read all the reports because all the conversations between ground control and aircraft were recorded and typed out. You could see what happened on that particular night and on the night that we were pronged there was some information that was given to a night fighter from a night fighter ‘drome to take off and search for an aircraft which was flying at about eighteen thousand feet heading for a certain heading due west or [unclear] west and investigate what it was. Well, there wasn’t anything except us. That must have been us.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: And locate it and shoot it down. Well, at that time we were losing height and that’s when we lost height that [unclear] so when he got there.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: We weren’t there.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Fortunately.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Absolutely.
FD: So you can see.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: What would have happened.
Interviewer: Yeah. Well, I’ve tried. Yes. Yeah.
FD: [unclear]
Interviewer: The first time.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: And often the second. Second time.
FD: Yes quite. It’s amazing really that you could find these things out. [unclear] I was tempted to tear that out of the reports and keep it but I didn’t because other people might want to look at it [pause] Well, it was definitely a 190.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: I mean there was nothing else it could have been. The cannons were in the wings.
Interviewer: Yes.
FD: And firing. They were well set out in the wings.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
FD: In actual fact.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: And he certainly was a crack pilot.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: By the way he raked us on the first blast.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: All the way up.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Into the fuselage.
Interviewer: He tied himself up. I actually, I can’t find this very very sketchy details and I managed to find it referred to very much into [unclear] passing in one. One book basically and I’ve not been able to find any further details than that but it certainly was they were the chaps who had done it using Wild Boar tactics but then used the Tame Boar.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: Right. We wanted to do a particular using them to go after the Oboe Mosquito.
FD: Yes.
Interviewer: They realised that Oboe, the Oboe sets were going off allowing them to really pinpoint their target marking and use the set which you used specifically to go after the Mosquito. These aircraft obviously have got the speed to get which at the same time you’ve got 100 Group going to attack the German night fighters. So they were using day fighters, equipping with some night kit to send them up after the 100 Group.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: There’s got to be cat and mouse versus more cats and more mice and more and more until the target gets everyone out. This unit’s job was specifically to go after Mossies and obviously you happened to be there when he was around but they were definitely the top notch people that they had doing that. It was definitely the people that they’d got.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: To stick them back on the bombers what was essentially a day fighter [unclear] to be a night fighter. Yes. But that’s all I’ve been able to find out and I’m on, it was a bit of a long shot likely to be German Fighter Pilot’s Association but it was worth a try.
FD: Certainly. Thanks very much Steve.
Interviewer: Oh pleasure. Pleasure. Absolute pleasure.
Yeah. Yeah.
And obviously one thing I was very very pleased to be able to do was to get you in contact with the chaps in Canada.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: I was really really pleased with myself. I wasn’t sure that you’d got, Steve said you’d been in touch with them. It was a [unclear]
FD: It was great because Ron came back.
Interviewer: It was a bonus to see Ron Cox actually like that.
FD: He was then living, I knew he came from Shelburne, Nova Scotia. I know the last address I had of him was in Toronto and he’d married Louise, you know the girl that he met. And that was the last I heard from Ron in that. And then he was still with you from what I can [pause] they came across from Vancouver Island.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Across from Vancouver Island there and he was going down. He really was. I was very pleased to see that Blair [unclear] You could hardly tell [he’d lost his nose] plastic job at the end [on his nose] Poor old Shortie lost that eye. He didn’t walk that well and his hands are badly scarred obviously with being picked up. He was very perky.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: He’s the older one as well but basically [unclear] I shan’t be going this year because I’m going up to Portmoak. It’s a squadron reunion. I think I’ll have to support them this year but next year [unclear] train across. See [Ron] and the family.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Well, Steve thanks very much for all your efforts for us.
Interviewer: Pleasure.
FD: And I’m glad actually.
Interviewer: And we need to do this. I mean —
FD: Because it should be done I suppose before. It’s not much of a story. Some have got a lot more to tell than what I have but that’s Bomber Command as I saw it.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: You know, for three months.
Interviewer: Yeah. I think what sort of comes across is that obviously doing a lot of my research and looking where to find things is that a lot of the sort of books that have been written that are of interest are fairly early on in the war. So the bomber battle the bomber battle [unclear] it almost seems to be that people look at it and think well by the time that you’ve got the invasion of Normandy it was a done deal. It had finished but of course if you look at the, what jumped out at me is if you look at the Bomber Command Losses books where you’d think it would be ’42 and ’43 that’s ’44 and ’45. Proportionately those books are thicker than the others.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: And of course, that’s, that you know each one incidentally that’s when aircraft is you know getting losses and stuff and that’s, I think it’s a shame that that sort of thing is not looked upon as being real or still happening which of course it was.
FD: Yes. Of course, I don’t have [unclear] for Bomber Command. You had to be flying before the invasion, and officially ’44.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: You had to be flying to qualify for the Bomber Command one. You see I didn’t qualify.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: To get one. So crazy. There you are.
Interviewer: It seems very arbitrary the way that sort of rule was official.
FD: Yes. Well, I certainly lost a lot of friends and colleagues in that time obviously. On the other hand a great pal of mine, Jackie Green who I did see after the war [unclear] a flight engineer. I encouraged him to go on to Halifaxes and he finished on that [pause] I think it was Skipton on Swale. I think it might have been Halifax Mark 3s. He went right through a tour of ops in no time at all. He didn’t have a flak hole in his aircraft. He didn’t even see any fighters.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: That’s the only one I know of who did that.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: I’ve met one or two others.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: There was one squadron from East Moor. Lucky Crowther was the flight engineer I knew. I came across him and then he came across to the Sergeant’s Mess. ‘Jackie, what are you doing here?’ ‘Well, of course [unclear] ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘I live here.’ He was telling me two ops before that. I forget what it was but there was another aircraft that had been hit and was all over the sky and flying blind and knocked out all of their engines. Literally completely. The engine was knocked out of the aircraft.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: As well as other damage.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: But they managed to get it back. There it was still flying. Whether he survived the war or not I don’t know. I didn’t hear any more of him. East Moor. Now, that was a temporary ‘drome, a wartime one. I was lucky. I should have said this on tape I suppose. All of the ‘dromes I was at were pre-war bases.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
FD: Apart from the odd built administration block [unclear] and all this sort of thing and then your shops. Proper hangars and that was it. Little [unclear] and Leeming and also at Topcliffe.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Right.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: So I was lucky in that respect. Well, you know we were in a Nissen hut to begin with and one of the other chaps there he was in it before I was and he came back to see us and he was injured actually. A mid-upper gunner. He got hit by flak which I think got in his backbone. Straight through his backpack. A ten inch scar. Lost a lot of blood and as I say put down at Woodbridge, as I say emergency. [unclear] straightaway and within six weeks he was back on the squadron again. Well, you know [unclear] He was very young I suppose. He was only just eighteen [unclear] and confident and then to go through it all again. But years later on we spent a lot of time at Carterton and Shoreham [unclear]
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: So he didn’t fly again.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: [unclear] Shame. Of course, you could enlist at seventeen and a quarter [unclear] They could blast you through your training and you’d be on ops before you were eighteen. [unclear]
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: [unclear definitely knew that sort of thing. But gunnery training is about three months and then it takes you through it very rapidly and some of them even enlisted underage. You know, the other way around. Yeah. [unclear] Well, I don’t think there’s any retrospective modifications [unclear] it does happen sometimes.
Interviewer: Yeah. From time to time.
FD: That’s factual.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: It happened.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: And thanks very much for helping re-record it.
Interviewer: That’s ok.
FD: I don’t know whether you want the notes at all.
Other: They would if they would help you if you have any —
Interviewer: Yeah. We’ll take a copy of them. That would that be alright. [unclear] what I’d like to do is obviously I’ll do a transcript of the first thing I have to do is do a copy of all this.
FD: Well, I was thinking if it’s not clear enough you might be able to pick it up from here.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: That’s page one to four.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
FD: Five.
Interviewer: [unclear] Four numbers.
FD: Five to eight.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: And then follows.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I’ll speak to him. One to four. [unclear] Right. Yeah.
FD: Where did we get to last?
Interviewer: Nine to —
FD: Five to eight.
Interviewer: That’s it. Nine.
FD: Nine.
Interviewer: Nine to twelve.
FD: Twelve.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Thirteen. Fourteen. These are just brief notes on the —
Interviewer: Right.
FD: Which is contained in here.
Interviewer: Right.
FD: These are some of the slides —
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: I was going to fetch you.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Like I’ve been talking to you about this mid-upper.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
FD: [unclear]
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: [unclear]
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Ok then.
Interviewer: Yeah. Right.
FD: Well, whether you can read that or not I don’t know.
Interviewer: Yeah.
FD: Because of my writing. I don’t know whether I could actually.
Interviewer: Well, obviously what I’ve done is I’ve seen some of the notes and bits and pieces I’ve got. The transcript. Well, the first thing I’ll do is be using, I’ll be two or three copies, sets of copies of this. I’ll do that straightaway. Then I’ll go through it and type up the transcript. And then what I will do is tie up as you have mentioned [unclear].
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: I can then tie that into the stuff I have.
FD: Yeah.
Interviewer: There’s also some other bits of notes I have made I can type up altogether so I can get you’re saying something on a transcript. I can then put something on that ties in a bit to the information and then, and tie all this together into one big.
FD: Sure.
Interviewer: I’ll do that.
FD: There’s one thing you’ve got that could help with it. I’ve got a picture of a Lancaster. I don’t know if you saw it before.
Interviewer: I didn’t notice to be honest but —
FD: It was, Steve.
Interviewer: Oh the one thing that you said while I was [unclear] on the tape about this about the papers —

Collection

Citation

Frank Dennis and Steven Payne, “Interview with Frank Dennis. Part two ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 24, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/46308.

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