Interview with Anthony Edward Mason

Title

Interview with Anthony Edward Mason
1001-Mason, Anthony Edward-World War II

Description

Anthony Mason grew up in the area around RAF Waddington and recalls some of the activity there during the war.

Coverage

Language

Type

Format

00:16:48 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

SHarriganD[Ser#-DoB]v03

Transcription

Interviewer: Hello. Hello. Hello. This is a recording made at the house of Anthony Edward Mason. We’re here to record his childhood memories as he remembers them whilst living in the neighbourhood of RAF Waddington during the war. So then, Tony, really what can you recollect from your earliest years?
AM: Well, I can [pause] just these big planes coming in. Coming in to land and taking off at night and coming in to land and, and going up to, yeah we were very near to the edge of the dispersal point. To going up to the dispersal point on a nice day I suppose to look at the planes and, and occasionally being lifted over the, over the fence and put into the planes and shown around. And you know the thing I really remember is the, is the wing. You know where the wings came across the fuselage it was like a big mountain to me to climb over and, and that, that was a bit that stuck in my mind. And yeah, we got shown around the cockpits and the gunnery parts and things like that.
Interviewer: How old were you at this time?
AM: I was, I would be about seven then. I was five I think when the war started. I’d be about seven. Seven or eight then I think and, oh, here’s the boss coming and you know we didn’t go every day or anything like that but we had —
Interviewer: Oh, yeah. You were looking in the cockpit.
AM: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then, you know we just, you know we just, we [pause] I don’t know what. What, whether they were British personnel or not. I can’t remember whether they were British personnel. I understand that they were Australian but I’m not sure and and that was, you know that was part of what we used to do. And then there was another incident when a plane coming in to land and I seem to remember had been damaged in bombing and coming in to land and damaged and crashed in a field just short of the runway and, and caught fire and burned out. And later on when it was all cold and cleared up and what have you my brother went up with some friends of his to see the crash site and found, found some coins, burned coins and brought those home and he was showing them to my father. And he just said, ‘Oh, give them to me and I’ll put them in my pocket and shine them up for you,’ like really. And that was just that’s always been a standard joke that really.
Interviewer: I know you were young then. Did you find the war exciting as a child? Was there a lot of activity?
AM: I don’t think we did. There was a lot of activity. A lot of air activity but I don’t, I can’t remember ever finding it exciting. It was we were there in among it and, and you know it was that. It was mostly in the, you know latish on in the evening or you know early evening or later in the evening when they were taking off and they were coming back in in sort of breakfast time. In the morning seemed to be when they were coming back in to land and the rest of the, in the daytime it always was quite quiet rightly. And this is what we found out when we went to, to look at these planes at the dispersal point was that there was a lot of work going on doing repairs, patching repairs and you know bomb loading and things like that which we saw like those and, but I can’t ever remember it you know being excited about it. It was. And then there wasn’t so much news about. We didn’t know what was, we didn’t know where they were going or what was happening or whatever like. There wasn’t like there is now. You know, television news before it happens basically. There was, there was no news. There was very little news. We had a newspaper but there was very little news in the papers. And so actually we didn’t know unless something happened quite close to us. We didn’t know really what was happening like really.
Interviewer: Your parents, did you ever notice them being anxious at any time? Or were they concerned?
AM: Well, they were. They were always concerned when the planes were coming in because they were coming over the house. You know, it was like, you know when I went out to see this this German, well I assume it was a German plane coming over in the morning and my mother’s first instinct was to throw me under the kitchen table basically because I mean they knew. They knew a lot more than I knew what was likely to happen like really. And —
Interviewer: Yeah. Do you want to tell us a bit more about the German aircraft then?
AM: Well, you know that, that, you know, it really has stuck in my memory about it because I must have been, I must have gone outside to get my cycle out to go to school or whatever and, and it came. I looked up. It came. I heard this plane overhead and looked up and it was quite low. It was only just above the house I thought and it was, it was firing shots. They looked to me they looked like pretty lights coming out of the thing like really and, and then I just said to my mum, ‘Come and look at it. Come and look at this like.’ And she just put me under the table basically and —
Interviewer: Head for cover.
AM: Yeah. That’s it. And but you know we didn’t hear anything about that at all like really and oh, we didn’t, we didn’t hear anything about the plane that had crashed at the time. We knew it had crashed because we, we must have seen the fire, I think.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: But, but that was, that was sort of late. That was quite early morning I think when that came in and crashed like really.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: So we didn’t hear it.
Interviewer: Right. Your father, he worked up at —
AM: He worked at Dean’s Farm. Dean’s. He was, Patrick Dean he was, he was a gentleman really. I mean, it was, the Mere Hall was, was the absolute bees knees like really. It was the only big place anywhere near, you know. There was Branston, Bracebridge Heath but it was only, and everything went off there. They used to have little concerts in the, in the concert room and the concert room I think was above the garage. And the church, yeah we used to go to church and the church was in the Hall in this concert room. I think it was all one room and everything, everything that happened at the Mere was there like really and my dad was the groom. He was a groom. You know, he’d been through the First World War and I think [pause] I never found a lot about that but we, we formed the opinion since that he was taking horses to the Front and things like that. Nothing was ever said about that. Not at any time. And he was a groom for Patrick Dean.
Interviewer: I understand also he joined the Home Guard, didn’t he?
AM: Yeah. He was in the Home Guard. Yeah. We had quite a few laughs with the Home Guard like from what I can remember really because they used to, at Branston. I think the Home Guard branch was at Branston and he I mean he used to cycle down there on a Saturday morning. They used to have a, have a, you know a bit of a mock battle and things like that. A training scheme. And sometimes we we all used to go down and watch if it was a nice day and we did have a few laughs with that. He was, he was, he was just a member of the Home Guard, I think.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: I don’t think he was anything special like really.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: But I don’t think they had rifles or anything. I can’t remember seeing rifles or anything like that. They never had anything to fire like.
Interviewer: Using pitchforks.
AM: Yeah. Probably so. Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: But in the, you know during the war he was, he had to work on the farm like. He was, he wasn’t mechanical at all and I think he, they taught him to drive a tractor to do the ploughing and things like that and, and at the end of the war I think you know at the end of the war he just threw the licence away like.
Interviewer: Brilliant.
AM: He wasn’t, he wasn’t mechanically minded at all and he was a groom all of his life. Right up to he died. He died in 1956. I did my National Service in 1954 to ’56 and, you know then I came back.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: From, I was in Libya for fourteen months. And I came back from Libya and he was ill then like and he died.
Interviewer: Oh dear.
AM: In that year. Yeah.
Interviewer: One of the things that obviously a lot of children remember is your thoughts about the rationing.
AM: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: How did that affect you?
AM: Well, I mean it did. Well, it did affect us in many ways, you know and we’ve said this many times that it didn’t affect us as much as it affected other people because from, from right from my early memories we always kept a pig every year and killed the pig and so we had a lot of pig meat and things like that. If they’d got, a lot off it had got to be eaten in a fortnight or at the most three weeks because there was no freezer or anything like that so a lot of, you know they used to salt, we used to salt a lot of the meat down. But the sort of you know the pork pies and sausages and we always made pork pies, sausages. Pigs fries. All sorts of things like that. But they had got to be eaten fresh basically like. So we always had, we always did have meat and we always, certainly in private houses that I’d lived in with my dad, my parents we always had a big garden and and basically we were self-sufficient in vegetables and everything. We always kept a few chickens at home and things like that.
Interviewer: That’s the bit your mum told me.
[pause]
AM: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. My mum stopped having sugar. Having sugar in her tea like and things like that you know. That, that made the difference. I don’t think it made a difference to us but it did to her and I suppose to my dad really.
Interviewer: You didn’t miss sweets or anything like that then.
AM: No. Well, I think, well I mean when we, you know we were nowhere. There was, there was, yeah there was we were nowhere near shops anyway you know. I’d just you know we used to get odd coppers. I used to go to school at Branston and we got, we used to get, you know coppers for sweets I think at Branston because I can remember once going to the Post Office at Branston which was the other side of the road from the school and I went. I must have got some money from somewhere to go and get some sweets. I went and bought a pot of sweets and went straight across the road into school and left my bike in the Post Office yard. Came out of school and thought I’d lost my bike. So we had a big search around then to find the bike like really. But you know so we must have. But we didn’t, I mean we didn’t have, it wasn’t the amount of sweets there is now you know to get anyway like really.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: And same with crisps and things like that. I mean we, we used to have bags of broken crisps. I think they were a penny. A halfpenny or a penny I think they were but they were all the really broken bits like really. I mean we, it was, it was a hard life for my family really. For my parents anyway because you know they weren’t very well paid in those jobs like really. But it was a job he liked and you know he never, I mean he never had, I can’t ever remember him ever going anywhere for a holiday and you know but that was his life. The horses were his life like really. And I, I mean I worked with him. Later on a I worked with him. I finished up. We’ll stop a bit. Yeah.
[recording paused]
AM: At the end of the war, at the end of the war you know we sort of, once, once the restrictions had been removed and things like that my dad decided that he would, he would like a move like really and he moved to Welbourn. Just nicely outside of Lincoln really. To another groom’s job there but he only stayed there for about a year and then he moved to Aisthorpe to, they were both doctors we worked for at Aisthorpe and he had about seven or eight years there I think and and taught me a lot. Taught me a lot of all my, I mean was, I did all my, I was did a lot riding. In fact, I worked in a racing stable for a short time up here at Waltham. Just up the road here to Waltham. And he taught me to ride and —
Interviewer: Right. So I mean obviously when the war finished and it was very difficult for society to get back into what it was before the war did you notice then that things happened like the social events at the Hall etcetera?
AM: No. We didn’t.
Interviewer: The hunting.
AM: No. There was very little social. Yeah. There was very little social events at the Hall. If they had a concert, if they got somebody to come and do a concert, you know it was very very rare like really. And the only, you know I mean my dad didn’t go to church. My mum used to take us to church on a Sunday. I think it was Sunday afternoons we used to go but some, some of the family was expected to go I think when they were in private service. Things like really you had to do as you were told when you were in private service. Moreso than other work like really but, but I didn’t, I can’t think that I noticed any real difference but I mean it was a totally different world. We got to Welbourn there was more social life at Welbourn that we’d ever known like really. And —
Interviewer: So you got back to school. You were going to school.
AM: Yeah. Yeah. I went to —
Interviewer: And —
AM: I went to school at Welbourn.
Interviewer: That must have been routine was it during your time there really?
AM: Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: Just the everyday sort of thing.
AM: Yeah. Yeah. That’s it. I mean you know there was yeah there were shops. There were was shops in Welbourn and things like that you know. A baker’s shop and there was a [pause] during the, during the war when we were at the Mere most of our provisions came either through a visiting Co-op or something like that coming and taking an order one week and bringing it the next week. Or the paper. We used to have our paper delivered and he would you know if we wanted something out of Lincoln he came from Bracebridge Heath I think but he would get. I can remember wanting a pocket knife and it must have been my birthday or something like that and he brought this pocket knife. You know, my mum was giving him the money and he brought the pocket knife and that, you know. There wasn’t the ease to get things in those days that there is now like really. Everything had got to be organized and for quite a long while after the war finished it was like that really. When we lived at Aisthorpe I think they used to come around taking orders like really.
AM: Well, thanks very much.
Interviewer: Ok.
AM: That’s been absolutely wonderful.
Interviewer: Are you sure? Yeah. Yeah.
AM: Just to reminisce back.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
AM: To the childhood in the war.
Interviewer: Yeah.
AM: If you wanted all that you could have asked —
Interviewer: We’d like to thank you for that anyway. Right. Thank you very much.

Citation

Dave Harrigan and This Interview was recorded by Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire., “Interview with Anthony Edward Mason,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 20, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/46434.

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