Interview with Christopher Francis Allison

Title

Interview with Christopher Francis Allison
1007-Allison, Christopher Francis

Description

Interview in two parts.
Part one.
Chris Allison served as a flight engineer. He answers questions from school children about what it was like to fly in a Lancaster.
Also taking part in this interview was Tony Bradley who was a child in Hull during the war, and Patrick Bateman who served in Borneo in the Royal Marines.
Part two.
Christopher Allison served as a flight engineer on 166 Squadron at RAF Kirmington.

Language

Type

Format

00:15:33 audio recording
00:23:23 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.

Identifier

SHarriganD[Ser#-DoB]v15-02, SHarriganD[Ser#-DoB]v15-03

Transcription

Part 1.

CA: Christopher Allison.
Interviewer: Good afternoon. Would you just like to give us your name and date of birth please.
CA: The 23rd of the 9th ’25.
Interviewer: And your name again.
CA: Christopher Allison.
Interviewer: Thank you very much. And you were in the Royal Air Force during the war. Yeah? That’s correct.
CA: Well, I joined up in ’43.
Interviewer: Ok, thank you. We’re here with the children now from the Primary School.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: And each in turn would like to ask a question of this gentleman.
Student 1: What did it feel like to actually have been, you could think about being killed every day?
CA: Well, you had to live with it otherwise you just, you know you’d just fizzle out. You have to live with it really, you know.
Interviewer: It was a difficult time, wasn’t it?
CA: Well, it was. I mean I lost a mate. He was only nineteen. I thought oh my God. And then I thought well you’ve got to live with it or you know you just fall to pieces especially looking like that.
Interviewer: That’s right [laughs] So you’re, I’ll just ask a question then if you’d like to come in again then so we’ve got some background.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: So you were posted on to Lancasters then.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: What was your position on the Lancaster?
CA: Flight engineer.
Interviewer: Flight engineer.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Ok. Right.
CA: I know this is a C on here but —
Interviewer: I know what you mean.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. Ok. Do you have a question you would like to ask?
Student 2: Yeah. How did it feel not knowing if your loved ones were safe at home while you were fighting in a foreign country?
CA: Well, you have to live with that as well because you see my dad died when I was eight so there was only mum on her own wasn’t she and you had to live with it.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah. One thing they found out that in the Blitz of course, you know whilst people were fighting over the skies of Germany people were dying back in England from the same bombing.
Other: Yes. That’s right.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: My dad died through wars in the long run from World War One wounds.
Interviewer: Right.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. Which a lot of guys did after the war.
CA: Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: They just lingered on. Yeah.
CA: Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Ok, would you like to ask a question.
Student 3: How was it like to work on the Lancaster bomber?
CA: Well, it was alright as long as you were safe. It was lovely you know. there was nothing wrong with them at all and especially —
Interviewer: How many missions did you fly then in total?
CA: Well, I wasn’t a gunner but you had front gunner there like and a mid one there and the rear gunner used to catch it really bad. Once they attacked you it would be the rear gunner what got it first. The only advantage he had he could open the back door, swing it around and he baled out. Easy as that.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Did you complete thirty missions then?
CA: Not many. No. No.
Interviewer: No.
CA: Because the lads had done most of the hard work when I got to Kirmington.
Interviewer: Right.
CA: Well, I was, I tell you I met Bomber Harris and Donald Pleasence. You remember him, do you?
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Well, they got shot down in Germany somewhere and the French got them back and when they got back to England they had a caterpillar but it was on the tie.
Interviewer: That’s right.
CA: And he was a smashing guy, you know.
Interviewer: Yeah. Ok. Have you got a question now?
Student 4: Yep.
CA: Right.
Student 4: When you were in the war did it, was it frightening trying to, in the Lancaster bombers?
CA: What? Frightening?
Student 4: Yeah.
CA: No. No. No. You’d be sad but not frightening. It was sad. Very sad. It gets me now sometimes.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: When we go to the Memorial don’t we? Sadness and —
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s one thing I found. I’ve done a lot of these recordings.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: And one thing I find is that a gentleman who like yourself just survivors I’ve talked to some people who were the only survivor of an aircraft. They feel a lot of sadness and its sometimes guilt.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: That they’re the only ones that got through it and, you know it seems to be something that runs through it.
CA: You have to live. You have to live with it and the first bit I saw of a German I did my twelve weeks training at Skegness and he flew down there and he shot the blooming clock tower up. Have you heard about that?
Interviewer: Yes. I know. Yeah. Yeah.
CA: Yeah. Well, I was there when they did that.
Interviewer: Right.
CA: And then when we went down south they flew in one morning when my mate was walking down for training and they machine gunned us. So what we did we fell on the floor and rolled out the way. But the sod come again the next day. But they got him. The next day he come they was waiting for him. Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. We’ve got two other gentlemen here with us now if I just get a different aspect.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Roughly the same questions really. How did you feel? You know, obviously —
CA: Yeah.
TB: My name is Tony Bradley. I was born in 1930 so I wasn’t actually in the Armed Forces during the war but I lived in Hull and Hull got very badly bombed during the war and to me, I was ten years of age and when I got involved I went in to the Army Cadets and I finished up as an air raid warden’s runner. But the war to me at that time was exciting. Not frightening at that, in the beginning because it didn’t involve me but a little while later on it did get very frightening and when I first saw people being pulled out of houses who were dead or injured which I did see I began to realise what war was all about. My mother had a very lucky escape because we were right in the middle of Hull where we got a terrific pounding. We lost buildings all around us and you just didn’t know from one raid to the next whether you were going to be lucky enough to escape from it because there was a lot of people killed in Hull. I was pleased that I wasn’t in the war a few years later. At the time I just wanted the war to carry on because I wanted to get in it because I had two cousins who were flight engineers. But its later on in life when one goes into the Services oneself, I was in the Royal Navy and I went to Tobruk and had my first interview with death as it comes in wartime was at the Knightsbridge Cemetery and I was with one of my friends looking for his brother. And when I saw all those gravestones that really brought home to me what war was all about and it’s pointless. It carries on. It doesn’t achieve anything except bring a lot of misery to a lot of people.
Interviewer: Thank you very much. Yeah.
PB: And it never leaves you does it when you see those gravestones.
TB: Yeah.
PB: A lot of that, you see I went through that with the, during the war you know we were in air raid shelter.
TB: Oh yes.
PB: Being, you know bombed and everything else. But as I say later on I went in the Royal Marine Commandos and I did what? Nearly a years training when I went in there from square bashing to Naval gunnery to Tarzan courses and all the rest of it, you know. Tent lines on Dartmoor the middle of the night. Crawling under tracer bullets and of course in middle of the winter we were in tents.
CA: Yeah.
PB: And all that type of thing but eventually I was destined to go to, I was in this here drill shed at Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth after I’d finished my training. I was a hundred percent fit and I got this here call. ‘Marine Bateman, one step forward. To the right. You’re going to Korea.’ Of course, I was [sub] engineer specialist and eventually I thought well that’s it. We were going to out in civilian clothes and be kitted out by the Americans you see and of course I was going to be blowing up bridges and one thing and another and anyhow they got that many volunteers thinking it was the Americans they thought there would be plenty of food, you know. Gum, you know. Chewing gum and all the rest of it. So they got volunteers and I finished up going to Malaya. So I mean that wasn’t much better. And I finished up in the jungle in Malaya for nearly three years and once getting out there I was taken out to some little outpost called Grik and we was in these here thatched roof huts. There was rats infested and just air flow and I had an orange box crate for a bedside cabinet and so on and we used to go out on patrol. And one particular time I always remember I went on a twenty four hour patrol and finished up on the twenty nine day patrol in the same clothes I had stuck, you know that I had on.
Interviewer: Yeah.
PB: And of course we weren’t getting no airdrops because the jungle was too thick and so we were eating tree bark. We had some natives from Borneo who showed us a few things how to do. We was eating tree bark, raw fish and we managed to live on that for twenty nine days. We had to cross the River Perak, a fast flowing river. Two of the Marines got washed down the banks. They got drowned. And we finished up going down elephant tracks and we had to go to this place called [Tomanga?] Some disused tin mines. And I always remember when we got out there we had to identify some bodies which was in some dried up culverts so we could smell them about two miles away. But one of the worst thing that’s ever happened to me when we’d got in some swamps, a sergeant and nine Marine Commandos and we got ambushed. There was somebody played a bugle and we were just getting picked off. There was no ground cover. Getting picked off and these Australian Air Force were strafing the area in these Mosquito bombers. A wooden structure type of plane. Strafing the area and the bandits fled otherwise I wouldn’t have been here now. They didn’t know anything about us and we finished up with three.
Interviewer: Yeah.
PB: Three of us left out of the ten.
Interviewer: So you see what happens back. Not just World War Two. This country has been involved in a lot of conflicts.
PB: A state of emergency and what our idea was to resettle the people instead of them trying to starve the bandits out of the jungle because they was going in to these [campons] and demanding food. So what we had to do is put them into big compounds where they couldn’t help the bandits.
Interviewer: Yeah.
PB: So that was initially, and of course another time I must tell you this I was in an ambush position. We got some information that these bandits was going to come along this track at a certain time of night and just before it got dark we got laid out, oh the sergeant said, ‘No talking,’ and we had little travel ropes to each other so we weren’t allowed to talk. One pull and so on, you know and we was, when I got laid out with my Bren gun I realised I was on an ants nest and of course I could feel them wriggling underneath me. They were supposed to have come along with this longish trap within the hour and it was two and a half hours later they came along and I see these lanterns coming along. And of course, when we got there we ambushed them and we killed nine and carried them back on bamboo poles.
TB: Can I just bring one thing to you is if, if you think on this that since the Second World War there has only been one year when we haven’t had a serviceman killed in some conflict or other.
PB: Yeah.
TB: That’s something to think of.
PB: And every time I see these dead bodies come back I think about my mates. You know lads of about what? Twenty? Twenty one years old, you know. And you think to yourself what’s it all for?
TB: Its not only that it’s when you see dead bodies.
PB: Yeah.
TB: I was out in Suez before the conflict actually started. I was ashore doing some work on the electricity station there and we had a party of Mauritians and a sergeant and a major and they were ambushed and if you’d have seen what the natives, I say the natives, see what the natives did to those bodies you’d never forget it.
PB: No.
CA: No. That’s true.
PB: That’s why I’ve never slept with my wife for twenty five years because I’ve had her in strangleholds and shouting out and she’s not slept with me for twenty five years. Do you want my name by the way?
Interviewer: Please, at the very end. Yeah. That would be good.
PB: Right. I’m John Patrick Bateman. I joined the Marines. I was born in 1928 and I joined the Royal Marines in 1949.
Interviewer: Thanks very much.
PB: And I came out in ’58.
Interviewer: Right. So you got a little synopsis there. Have you got anything? Any thoughts about that then? What you’ve just been hearing.
Student: That’s pretty scary.
PB: Are you going to join the Marines or the Naval or the RAF? Are you going to join?
Student: The RAF.
Student: Going to join the —
Interviewer: You’re going to join the Air Force —
TB: You are.
PB: The RAF.
Student: Yeah, RAF.
PB: Why?
Student: My dad’s in the RAF.
TB: Fair comment but do what you want to do.
PB: Yeah.
TB: Not what other people want you to do.
Student: Yeah, I just I like the RAF. I like planes. It’s —
PB: Well, I was in the Army Cadets. I came out of the Army Cadets and went into the Navy. I came out of the Navy. I went to work Marine Services. I was a marine superintendent of diving and I took up flying and flying became my life. I was addicted to flying. I had my own glider. I taught gliding and I took a private pilot’s licence and I used to think if I had only been old enough [laughs]
Interviewer: Yeah.
TB: But no. So do what you want to do.
PB: Same as me you see. I was in the I was in the Scouts. The Cubs, then the Scouts, then the Sea Cadets and you know, and of course I used to do lots of in fact I used to do fire watching. I was working at a munitions factory during the war and the blokes, the chaps used to say to me, ‘Will you do my turn tonight?’ Three and six a night it was and I used to do the fire watching.
Interviewer: Yeah.
PB: In a little shed.
Interviewer: Well, that gives us an insight. Sorry would you like to say one other thing?
TB: Just it’s just one thing when you’re talking among your peers remember three things. Three letters. PPR. Pride, Respect and Responsibility.
PB: Yeah.
TB: And they’ll take you through life being a good citizen.
Student: PPR.
PB: And they will be. They will be.
Interviewer: Ok. Thank you very much.
CA: Like I was saying about [unclear]
PB: It’s nice of you to listen to us anyway.
CA: We flew down the blooming Humber.
PB: Pleased to meet you. What’s your name?

Part 2.

[Preamble at start]
Interviewer: Right, Chris. So —
CA: Do you want my full name now?
Interviewer: Yes, please. If you could start with your full name.
CA: Christopher, Christopher Francis Allison.
Interviewer: And your date of birth?
CA: The 23rd of the 9th ‘25.
Interviewer: And which forces were, which armed forces were you in?
CA: In the RAF.
Interviewer: Ok.
CA: RAF.
Interviewer: Ok.
CA: Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: And you said your service number.
CA: Oh, 3007708 [laughs]
Interviewer: That’s wonderful. So, Chris what we look for is to begin your career in the RAF and can you tell us a little bit about joining? You said you volunteered and that was something your father said you’d never, should never do.
CA: I did. Yeah.
Interviewer: But you did.
CA: I did, yeah.
Interviewer: So what happened? What made you volunteer?
CA: I don’t know. I was always crazy about flying like you know and I was in the Air Cadets for about two years. We used to go to Immingham every week.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: And that’s why I flew from Binbrook to Waltham in a Wellington just to get a little bit of experience like you know.
Interviewer: Yes. Yeah.
CA: And then from there it all happened. I went to Sandy for a week to get my uniform.
Interviewer: Right. Yes.
CA: And from there we went to Skegness and we were there for a good twelve weeks.
Interviewer: Yes.
CA: And you learned how to use all the rifle, a revolver and all that lot you know, and hand grenades and whatever. And I think we was, we stayed there until that Christmas time because the, all the officers they served us with the, a Christmas meal like you know. And then gradually we went down south to now where the devil did we [pause] Portree. And well, I must admit I don’t know how long I was down there for. How long have we got down there? Anyhow, I wanted to come on leave but the officer said you can’t go until we’ve had D-Day and so that was it. But my mate and I were walking to do a little bit of work. You know, information like hydraulics and flying and this German aircraft come in and machine gunned us so [laughs] me and my mate we just dropped on the floor and rolled out of the way like this and I think the RAF Regiment gentleman got a bit of a rollicking because he should have fired at him but I think he did the next time and that was the end of that. We never saw him anymore like. And then we had odd crashes here and there like. There was a, well it wasn’t a Wellington, the next one. A Warwick. It took off and it, it stalled, turned over and crashed into the empty yard where there was a guy doing a job. So that was the end of that story. Then another one, I think it was a, I think, I think they were learning on a Beaufighter and this pilot came in and he slipped across and he knocked a civilian guy over and killed him. And when he got out and see what he'd done he fainted. But the aircraft came along and hit the side of the, the air raid shelter where we were inside. So we were lucky in the air raid shelter and that was the end of that. That’s, that’s all happened there until D-Day and then of course we were free to move when we wanted to like. So then I came on leave of course, you know.
Interviewer: So, that was, that was your training period was it? And that was to be —
CA: Well, yeah. For the, you know hydraulics and everything else connected with the aircraft.
Interviewer: So, and that was to become a flight engineer.
CA: Well, yeah. It was but more or less. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: So after that what happened next?
CA: Well, eventually I got posted to Elsham and there were two squadrons there and I don’t know how the devil I fiddled it but I said, I must have said I lived at Keelby and I fiddled and got to Kirmington on 166 Squadron and that was it. That was lovely and then we were mucking about there like on to, well I think I was on two bombing missions. I don’t know. I can’t remember and then a leaflet raids and you know things like that because the lads had done all the big stuff there like you know. We lost a thousand guys any rate there.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Yeah. And, and as I say Bomber Harris come this night and they said, ‘You’ve got to line up with the rest of the guys.’ Well, they were all around you know, the Red Arrows, not the Red Arrows, listen to me. Dambusters and he come along and was giving them medals. And that’s what he said to me. ‘Where are you from airman?’ I said, ‘Just down the road, sir.’ Well, I was because Keelby was only about three miles away and that was that. And then of course I met who have we got down here? Donald Pleasence, you know, the actor and Bomber Harris. And then oh, I forgot to tell you when I was down south Montgomery. Montgomery came when I can speak properly and he gave the guys medals there because they’d knocked a wall down somewhere did Mosquitoes. Can you remember that?
Interviewer: Prison.
CA: Yeah. [unclear]
Interviewer: It was the Dutch prison wasn’t it?
Interviewer 2: The Amiens raid at prison.
CA: Ah, we found out more two or three years ago, didn’t we? There was more to it than that and he looked like Montgomery. I should say it could be wasn’t it? Yeah, and so that was that. Yeah. Well, they flew in low there didn’t they and knocked this wall down these Mosquitoes and that was it.
Interviewer: Yeah. And released the French prisoners.
CA: I forgot about that with looking at this. What else do you want to know then?
Interviewer: So you’re on an operational squadron by then.
CA: Yeah, by then. Yeah.
Interviewer: What was it? What was your job when you —
CA: Well, you were flying —
Interviewer: What was the job in the aircraft?
CA: Well, I suppose if worst comes to the worst if the pilot got hit and killed you would have to take over but you were just more or less function. Make sure everything was working alright, you know. Looking at your meters and God knows what because we had everybody else like. There was seven of us you know. You had bomb aimer and navigator and wireless operator. All that lot like you know.
Interviewer: And you would sit just behind the pilot.
CA: Aside. At the side of the pilot. Yeah.
Interviewer: What was your job say? Can you describe what it’s like taking off or —
CA: Well, as long as you got, as long as you got plenty of revs on and all that you were alright. Of course, you had to come into the head wind to take off. Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: You see at Kirmington you used to take off, start off the other side of the road. They’ve scrubbed all that now haven’t they at Kirmington.
Interviewer: Right. Yeah. So I mean what was your did you fuel, making sure the fuel went to the right engines and the right tanks and this sort of thing.
CA: Well, yeah. I mean it was a hundred octane what they flew with like you know. Oh yeah. And never everything, nothing really went wrong. It could have done but it didn’t do.
Interviewer: Well, done. That was a part of what you’d do.
CA: Well yeah, because as I say most of it had gone by the Germans. They’d lost their, lost their sting a little bit by then, hadn’t they? I mean I was only in what two years.
Interviewer: But what was it like then? So if you were flying over Germany any, can you describe what it was like to be in your seat and —
CA: Well, not really. As long as everything happened alright you come back alright. I don’t, you couldn’t live with that otherwise you wouldn’t do it.
Interviewer: No.
CA: No. No. You, we couldn’t be frightened. No. No. No.
Interviewer: Did you, did you —
[unclear asides]
[recording paused]
Interviewer 2: We’ll talk about those now. Yeah.
Interviewer: Ok. So, but you did fly over places that had already been bombed.
CA: Oh yeah. That’s right. Hamburg and what have we got down here? Hamburg [pause] Dresden. We’d go down Heligoland. The dams. Leaflet dropping. Leaflets. Oh yeah. I went over Holland as well and, yeah.
Interviewer 2: Did you drop food to the Dutch?
CA: Pardon?
Interviewer 2: Did you drop any food to the Dutch?
CA: No. No. No.
Interviewer: What about you said you flew over the dams and —
CA: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: And Dresden. What was it like? What did you see?
CA: Well, it looked like as though, it looked like a sea because they’d done these dams to flood the German’s, all the works and all that. And I think it, they succeeded for a while but they were saying the Germans soon built them up again.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
CA: Aye.
Interviewer: What about Dresden because that was, that was towards the end of the war.
CA: Yeah. Dresden. Well, no. I don’t know. You see you had to go, I think when you got to ten thousand feet you had to have oxygen like you know but as you got depending on all what you were briefed on. Whatever you know.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
CA: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: What would you think was the most difficult moment you had in the air?
CA: Well, I think, I don’t know there was only once we were going back and there was a thunderstorm on. I mean, I know fog could be bad thing like but I don’t think we ever came across fog. I know I was coming back over the Humber and it was a bit rocky like you know because it was thundering and lightning but once you got to Kirmington if you saw if it was daylight enough you could see the spire which was green and you knew you were safe home again like, you know.
Interviewer: So, the thunderstorm. What happened with that because they can be dangerous can’t they?
CA: Well yeah. Just, just made the aircraft do a little bit of that and that’s it.
Interviewer: [unclear]
CA: Well, well they were just normal guys and they seemed to all take it in their stride and well, I don’t know. They lived as though they were going to live forever.
Interviewer: Yeah. What about those that didn’t. You know, that didn’t come back.
CA: No. No. I don’t know. I don’t know. Bless them. It all happened so quick.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Any personal friends of yours that —
CA: Well, there was only that one guy I was telling you about who was nineteen and he, I don’t know. It’s a shame really when I think about it isn’t it? They never saw, well I mean they was all around about nineteen to twenty five I think. Some of the pilots must have been a young person like you know.
Interviewer: Yeah. And he, he went down.
CA: I’d have thought. Yeah. Yeah. Well, as I say quite a few survived but they were saying on the telly the other night that if you baled out there the, the German guys looked after you but the population they would kill you didn’t they? Eh? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They, they I don’t know if they had to bale out over Germany and France or somewhere or they crash landed there but they all survived and then when somehow they got back to Kirmington and if they come back they got a, put a caterpillar on their tie. Yeah. Yeah. And the other one was a ladybird. I don’t know which was which now. I should. I don’t know. But the French used to get them back somehow. They were pretty good like that.
Interviewer: And did you say Donald Pleasence was —
CA: Oh, he was there at Kirmington and in them days he had a good mass of hair [laughs] But no, he was, he was I didn’t know much about him like only he was famous wasn’t he in the end.
Other: Yeah. Very.
CA: And if, if anybody was very very lucky and did, got about thirty trips they used to go to Kirmington pub and celebrate. Oh, some had designs on that aircraft Jane. There was Jane painted on the pilot’s side and then the Beer one, B for beer it was every time they’d done a mission there was this, this beer dropping into a glass. Then on that side there was all the missions they’d done and glasses of beer. It was lovely. I mean like there was A for Apple, B for Beer, C for Charlie and all that like.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: But there was some of them they couldn’t do paintings on there.
Interviewer: Did you have a painting on your aircraft?
CA: Well, we had [pause] no I don’t think we had because I was sort of fiddling about a little bit on W-William and you see we went right down. Well, I think we had twenty six aircraft and W X Y Z, you see. So, well, one was X-ray of course. No. We hadn’t. No. No. Some of them were hit and miss all the time. The biggest thing of all was I can’t understand it they never mentioned the girls what used to fly the Lancasters to replace all these to Kirmington, Elsham did they?
Interviewer: No.
CA: They’ve never been mentioned.
Interviewer: It was only after the war that they talked about the ATA girls.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Now that these young girls were the same age as the pilots and —
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: They used to fly them on their own.
CA: Well, they must. They must have brought the Lancaster to Kirmington on their own mustn’t they? On their own.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah. Do you remember the number of your Lancaster. Whisky.
CA: No, I don’t. No, because only a number. If it was A you would have to go through the alphabet wouldn’t you? A B C D E F like.
Interviewer: How many missions did you do, Chris?
CA: I reckon about, I reckon about four.
Interviewer: Yes.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.
CA: Because there was nothing left really was there? What were you saying?
[recording paused]
CA: I don’t know why we dropped the leaflets. I thought it would tell them to pack in fighting. Yeah.
Interviewer: And this was in Norway. You went over dropping leaflets in Norway.
CA: I should say so. There must have been, you know. Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: To stop the, to say don’t fight.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Yeah, because we was, one time the Italians were with the Germans weren’t they? Eh? I don’t know. He must have at the end of the war he died at Kirmington. He must. I don’t know whether he, I don’t know much about the Lancaster but apparently in order to the Americans used to do carpet bombing and for some unknown reason they got underneath in the way and it damaged the aircraft and he must have panicked when he come over Kirmington because he baled out and he got caught on the aircraft.
Interviewer: Right.
CA: And he just fell to the bottom and it killed him and I saw that. I saw him coming down and he just missed an haystack by about a hundred yards. It might have saved his life. I don’t know. But he must have panicked for some unknown reason.
Interviewer: And the aircraft landed.
CA: I don’t know where it went.
Interviewer: No.
CA: It went, it went over the Humber somewhere and nobody seemed to know anything about it. No.
Interviewer: Ok. Well, let’s, were the Lancs difficult to look after in terms of, you know —
CA: Oh no.
Interviewer: Your job as the flight engineer. Were they complex?
CA: Oh no. I think they always say they were the best aircraft to fly. I think they were brilliant. I know there was the Halifax or what we used to call the Halibags but Halifax and the Lancaster and that was the last one they did towards the end wasn’t it because like that other guy, Somerscales he was on [pause] No. Not that guy. He was on, on about a half a dozen different aircraft. No. He, no, George, no. Stan Somerscales, they were flying back to England and they had been on a bombing, a second bombing mission and they got you know shot up badly and they were struggling. He saw this village or town ahead of them and he was struggling to get the aircraft away from it. He told the crew to bale out and the last guy, ‘Pass me my, pass me my parachute.’ Well, he should have had it. He should have been sat on the damned thing. Poor old George, it crashed and I think he died with the nuns looking after him. That’s the guy I was on about. He hurried in front of someone.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: And he got the DFC.
Interviewer: Yeah. You mentioned that you knew Morse and that —
CA: Oh that. Yeah.
Interviewer: And you used to sometimes swap signals and not such —
CA: Well, yeah. You know on very, very rare you’d get some crackpot rear gunner would give you a funny message on there. If you remember. I’ve forgotten Morse now. All I can remember is dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot. SOS.
Interviewer: So the gunners would flash Morse to the following aircraft and —
CA: Well, yeah. I think, oh I know something else. I think every aircraft used to have a pigeon aboard if I remember right. Didn’t they? Yeah. When you just mentioned that. Because if you succeeded alright like you’d have a job to, if the Germans were keeping an eye on you they would have Morse wouldn’t they? Pigeons would be different, wouldn’t it? And instead of coming back through —
Interviewer: Sorry Chris. Finger trouble on my part. Where were you?
CA: Yeah. Me and my mate had been out somewhere for the day and we come back at night time and we didn’t come through the main entrance what’s security. We come in, we cut through somewhere and the next day one of them, well it was a flight sergeant or somebody or the warrant officer said, ‘Oh, the CO wants to see you.’ I thought oh my God, we’re in trouble because we didn’t come through the security gate like. So I walked in there and there was a lady CO. She said, ‘Oh, come in airman.’ She talked real posh. She said, she said, ‘Do you want to go out in Class A or Class B?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know ma’am.’ I said. ‘My mam’s a widower and —' I said, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Oh’ she said, ‘You’d better go out and think about it and come back.’ So I went back and I said, ‘I’ll go out in class B ma’am.’ And that’s what I did because you see otherwise you had to wait your time didn’t you? If you’d been in say so many all in like a section weren’t you? A B C D.
Interviewer: Right.
CA: So I came out in B.
Interviewer: Right.
CA: So back to Sandy again I went didn’t I? I got my civilian suit and all that didn’t I?
Interviewer: Yeah. So just we were talking earlier that you’d gone back to Scotland and you’d been put in charge of some German prisoners of war.
CA: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: You want to just talk.
CA: Oh, you didn’t get that did you?
Interviewer: No.
CA: Oh yeah. And then, I don’t know. I don’t think they knew what to do with us because they were trying to get rid of us like after the war and then she just said, ‘Well, would you like to just see to these German prisoners of war? They’ve got to go and do a job.’ Like, and that’s what I did like and they were pretty good really in a sense and you got talking to them. They spoke pretty good English and you know there was three categories A, B and C like. Some were Germans, some mid-way and some with us like you know and they were doing jobs and we used to wander up in the morning and he said, ‘Do you mind if we put these containers under each tray? Make it drip.’
[telephone ringing – recording paused]
Interviewer: How you guarded the prisoners so that —
CA: Oh yeah. Well, he just said, ‘Will you guard these Germans. He said, ‘Just get a Sten gun but no ammunition. So, of course, I go in the armourer and I said, ‘I’m going to take ammunition.’ You know. I’m not taking any chances. So that’s what I did. But they were brilliant I must admit and [pause] yeah. They behaved pretty good.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: Yeah.
Interviewer: To the tree.
CA: Yeah. Yeah, well as I was saying when the phone rang, oh yeah, he said, ‘Do you mind if we tie these containers to each tree and cut it so that the sap runs into the bottle like?’ I said, ‘That’s alright.’ And then he was talking about it and when we come back I said, ‘What’s all that about?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘We make our own, we do our own hair cream.’ He said. ‘Do you want some?’ I said, ‘You must be joking.’ I said, and he took his hat off and he’d got a lovely mop of hair which the Germans had and that was the end of that conversation. They used to say, ‘I will make this for your mother.’ And you know, oh yeah. They were lovely. And that was the end of that.
Interviewer: Yeah.
[recording paused]
Interviewer: Alright. Yeah.
CA: Oh aye. And I used to write the letter and then of course had to go through all the rigmarole at Kirmington and hoping that he got the letters but he never got the letters.
CA: Right. That’s interesting.
Interviewer: Yeah. I told you about that guy used to write to. He was an Army guy. I said, ‘Did you —’ when I saw him after the war, ‘Did you —’ pardon?
Other: Name?
CA: His name? Oh, I don’t know what his name was. I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t remember his name.
Interviewer: Yeah.
CA: I can’t remember.
Interviewer: Yeah, I mean that’s —
[Recording cuts suddenly].

Citation

Dave Harrigan and This Interview was recorded by Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire., “Interview with Christopher Francis Allison,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 20, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/46444.

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