Interview with Bernard Bell


Interview with Bernard Bell
1005-Bell, Bernard-N Lincolnshire Disc 1


Bernard Bell was a child in Scunthorpe during the war.





00:07:15 audio recording


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Interviewer: It’s the 12th of May. I’m here with Bernard Bell. I’m here to talk about Kirton in Lindsey and North Lincolnshire during the war. Ok.
BB: Yes. I was born in Gainsborough and lived in Scunthorpe down East Common Lane during the war years. When the war started in 1939 I can remember exactly where I was as a five year old child. During those years my memories go back seeing a lot of action of the bombers going over our part of Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire in raids of a thousand bombers at a time to Germany. They came from Yorkshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire to go out to sea. During those early years I remember a plane crashing just off Warley Road and it was a Wellington bomber. I think the crew was seven and all seven were killed unfortunately. Later in nineteen, I think it was probably in 1944 when a Lancaster bomber crashed at Ashby Ville on the road going out towards Brigg and that was on a Saturday lunchtime where again apart from one of the crew they were all killed. These are memories of mine from way back. And later on after the war I obviously had been amongst the RAF during the war, joined the RAF for a four year period in 1952 and stayed in the RAF for four years. My service was at Kirton in Lindsey which was a surprise to me as I had a home posting and was able to go home every night on a pass and back the next morning for two and a half years. Somebody must have found out at Air Ministry and had me reposted to Iraq and I stayed in Iraq for the remainder of my service which was roughly eighteen months. So that takes you back over a long period of my history here in Lincolnshire. I was born in Lincolnshire and brought up in Lincolnshire and later after I came out of service I went to live in Nottinghamshire where I still live.
Interviewer: Can you say a bit about your role when you were at Kirton in Lindsey? What did you do?
BB: About —?
Interviewer: About your daily duties when you were in RAF Kirton in Lindsey.
BB: Yes. When I was at Kirton in Lindsey I was a store, a technical storeman. Funny. Rather funny because in Civvy Street I worked at HB Toombs in High Street, Scunthorpe as a tailor and was in the, in the clothing trade and trained in tailoring. I said somehow they thought I’d be better fitted to technical which rather surprised me. I was in the technical stores at Kirton in Lindsey for those two and a half years and Flight Lieutenant Paine, Pilot Officer Eaton and Flight Sergeant Adams were in charge of the stores. As I say I stayed for that period of time.
Interviewer: Also, we’ve got here in our notes that you played piano in a dance band during wartime. How was, what was that like?
BB: Oh. My uncle had a dance orchestra and played at Kirton in Lindsey in the Town Hall in Kirton over the war year period and the dance orchestra was called the Romany Dance Band. I remember a chap they called Skelton was the drummer, my uncle was the pianist, I don’t remember much of the others. I played the ukelele for a short time as an accompaniment [laughs] Probably that’s why they got sacked [laughs] But that went on through the war and they had a lot of sessions at the Town Hall in Kirton which was quite interesting. I don’t know what happened after that. They stayed on I think until about nineteen, probably 1948 and my uncle, who lived in Kirton, in Church Street had an insurance business and he, a lot of insurances were done on the camps of Kirton and Hemswell. So he had a lot of customers over there. So my family go back over many years in this period in this area.
Interviewer: You mentioned earlier your family have got connections with World War One manufacturing. Could you tell me a bit about that?
BB: Yes. In World War One my family which was Marris and Beverley owned a foundry in Kirton in Lindsey just off Church Street opposite the church and they made equipment for the Army during the First World War. They were virtually my grandfather was a blacksmith and in the Second World War he was making or repairing kettles and things which were in short supply. If anybody had a kettle which had a hole in it he would put it right. He was doing this during the war years.
Interviewer: What were relations like between the town and the airfield? Did the airmen —
BB: Very good. Kirton in Lindsey was always acceptable to the RAF. I think Lincolnshire was known as an RAF county. It’s known as Bomber County and its always been well respected and well looked after and always been very welcome as we are still when we have our reunions. We are made very welcome here at Hibaldstow as you can see. As you hear this morning you know they make us very welcome. Very welcome. Which is very nice indeed, you know. Unfortunately, Kirton is now I believe, I’m told is about to close. I haven’t got confirmation of this but I think it is about to close and sold to a civilian company. Which is rather sad because I think it’s been there since 1916, I think it opened. It’s a long long time.
Interviewer: Are there any memories of the airfield that are particularly kind of dear to you?
BB: The —?
Interviewer: Are there any memories that you, you know of the airfield that are particularly dear to you? That stand out?
BB: No. I think the thing what stand out is the bombing. The bombing raids and the number of planes what went over our house. My, my children didn’t believe me for a long time until they saw a video with these planes on. Just didn’t believe that there would be a thousand planes going over the top. It was black. The sky was almost black with Lancaster bombers and you did wonder because a lot of them got killed that didn’t come back. It’s rather sad. War is sad anyway you know. There’s no winners in wars. There’s only losers. We all lose really at the end of the day you know and so many of them got killed. You know, pilots often after the first flight over Germany they were killed you know. Which is, it has to be remembered because through them we’re here today and have our freedom what we’ve got.
Interviewer: Absolutely.
BB: So we have a lot to be thankful for.
Interviewer: Well, thank you very much for sharing. Is there anything else that you would like to say or —
BB: I think that’s about it. If any of my schoolfriends are still about in Scunthorpe [laughs] I’m still about.
Interviewer: Well, thank you very much.
BB: I went to Brumby Wood, Brumby School in Cemetery Road. Mr Sumpter was the headmaster in my day and I remember some of my schoolfriends were Peter Wainwright and [Cush] Cowling and one or two more. If they are still about I would like to get in touch.
Interviewer: Brilliant.
BB: Right.


Dawn Oakley and This Interview was recorded by Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire., “Interview with Bernard Bell,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 29, 2024,

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