Interview with James Douglas Hudson

Title

Interview with James Douglas Hudson
1024-Hudson, James Douglas

Description

James Douglas Hudson followed a friend to join the RAF. He trained as a navigator and was posted to 101 Squadron at RAF West Raynham. On his final operational flight with the squadron he ran out of fuel and crashed. He was taken prisoner by the Vichy French in North Africa and spent time in a prisoner of war camp in Laghouet and Le Kef. He attempted escape twice but was recaptured. Douglas was repatriated to the UK in November 1942. He volunteered to return to operational flying duties and was posted to 101 Squadron based at RAF Waltham. One of his operations was to Nuremberg and he was shocked to hear about the losses of that raid. He and his crew volunteered for a further tour but the Medical Officer intervened and declared he was medically unfit to fly. After the war Douglas wrote books about his experiences in Bomber Command.

Date

2011-02-04

Temporal Coverage

Coverage

Language

Type

Format

00:40:51 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]v27

Transcription

Interviewer: This is an interview with Mr James Douglas Hudson on the 4th of February 2011 at his home near Lincoln concerning his wartime experiences with the Royal Air Force.
JDH: What is beginning to please me now is the increased awareness that’s arising of what happened during World War Two in Bomber Command and by those who flew in Bomber Command of whom fifty six thousand or thereabouts gave their lives without counting the cost. There has been so little recognition for all this outstanding bravery and finally more is being told and more is being how can I say made aware to a viewing public or a listening public. We’re helped with the advance in techniques of recordings that weren’t available in the days of people like Group Captain, Air Chief Marshall Cheshire and Guy Gibson. They didn’t have the facilities that we have today. So this increase in awareness by the general public and particularly the younger generation is rewarding.
Interviewer: What made you join the Air Force, Douglas?
JDH: I joined the Air Force because I wasn’t particularly happy with my peacetime, this is 1939, occupation in in Manchester in the textile shipping trade and a colleague of mine had joined Fighter Command and was having such a good time flying Spitfires and Hurricanes and I decided I would like to do the same. So I made application and I was told, this is just before the war that junior officers may be able to live on their pay. So I queried this and I said, ‘Well, what do you mean by may be able to live on their pay?’ And a cousin of mine who was a colonel in the Army said, ‘Oh yes. That’s perfectly true.’ He said, ‘But Uncle Harold,’ that’s my father, he said, ‘He’d been able to look after you there.’ I said, ‘Well, Uncle Harold it so happens,’ I said, ‘Because of the depression in the textile trade is out of a job.’ ‘In that case,’ he said, ‘He would not be able to look after you.’ And he said, ‘You’ll be very unwise to seek a short service commission.’ So instead of that I made application through the Volunteer Reserves to do weekend flying and weekend training and this was in June 1939. So a couple of months after that war was declared and I was called up immediately and my training then began at Prestwick in Ayrshire. We were called observers in those days to be renamed of course navigators.
Interviewer: Did you always want to be a navigator or did you want to be a pilot?
JDH: Initially of course I wanted to be a pilot and I was told there was a waiting list forever. But I was told that if I wished to be an air observer which now of course is a navigator I would get in just as much flying which is true. And that’s what I did. Now, I’m jumping ahead now over a couple of years because I was a prisoner of war after this for a couple of years or plus and when I came back I was given the opportunity to remuster and if I wished I could remuster and undergo pilot’s training. I refused. I said, ‘No. I was a navigator and I wish to continue being a navigator and navigation is and was my metier. Although I say it now, perhaps I shouldn’t say it I was a good navigator and my books of which I’ve written eight are based on the title, “There and Back Again.” And it’s the back again which is the important part about it. It’s one thing to get there. It’s another thing to get back and to get there and back isn’t everybody’s good fortune. In fact, fifty six thousand or thereabouts never made that. I now at the age of nearly ninety five am sitting here in my lounge at home in Heighington near Lincoln talking to this lady. I’m a very fortunate person.
Interviewer: So you did the observer’s course at Prestwick.
JDH: I did the observer’s course at Prestwick.
Interviewer: And then went to Evanton for the Bomber and Gunnery School.
JDH: Went to Bombing and Gunnery School then at Evanton and after that, after completion of the bombing and gunnery in various aeroplanes including the Fairey Battle we were moved to Bicester in Oxfordshire where I was introduced to the Bristol Blenheim and I was posted to West Raynham in Norfolk where I did two months operational flying on the Bristol Blenheim. Unfortunately, we were sent to the Middle East and I had insufficient petrol to make the journey and crash landed in Vichy French North Africa where I was taken prisoner of war for two and a quarter years.
Interviewer: Can you describe that? The conditions that you lived in and –
JDH: The conditions under which we lived were appalling. The food was an abomination. It was based on the food they gave to the Arab soldiers but it wasn’t so much the food itself it was the filthy conditions in which this food was served up to us. Our living conditions were absolutely appalling. Overcrowding was a very significant disadvantage. We quarrelled with each other in consequence. You, you could be the best of friends, if you get six, eight, ten, twelve, or twenty of you all in one room ongoing tempers fray. And this is what happened and I think this is one of the most difficult parts of being a prisoner of war and of course, being taken away from operation flying.
Interviewer: It doesn’t seem to have been as well organised as German prisoner of war camps in that you know you didn’t have much recreation or organised activities to take your mind off the conditions. Is that right?
JDH: Well, we, we didn’t have so much organised activities. We were, we were able to do our own thing up to a point. There were no specific facilities.
Interviewer: No.
JDH: No.
Interviewer: You had your Red Cross parcels.
JDH: Had it not been for the Red Cross parcels I often wonder how we would have survived. When the Red Cross parcels began to reach us there were certain days when we would just ignore the food that was sent up to us and just live for the time being on the contents of the Red Cross parcels. The one problem was particularly in the desert I was a prisoner in the desert for over a year in the Sahara Desert. A place called Laghouat, about three, three hundred and fifty miles south of Algiers and when the food, when the Red Cross parcels arrived we had what was called the Klim, K L I M, milk which came I think from Canada. It was powder and of course when we mixed this, when we added water to it we were running into trouble because the water wasn’t fit to drink. And I used to, they also sent us prunes and we used to soak the prunes overnight in water and then add this Klim milk which had been what’s the word? Reconstituted. And of course, we were inviting trouble and we got trouble. We got dysentery. So it was an awfully difficult situation. Dysentery was rife. Dysentery I think was our biggest problem in the prisoner of war camp and we’d no medications you see.
Interviewer: No.
JDH: No medications at all.
Interviewer: You mentioned in your book about being depressed at this time. This –
JDH: Being depressed?
Interviewer: Yes. Obviously, the conditions and your dysentery and everything else.
JDH: Yes, because there was no future. We’d been taken away from the activities which we’d trained for and that was to fly operationally. As you will read on in the books I was, I had the good fortune to be repatriated in November 1942 and after five or six months of ground duties I became rehabilitated as it were and became fit to fly again and the rest is history.
Interviewer: Let’s go back to your, your time in the North African prisons. What did you feel about escape? Did some, did you want to escape?
JDH: I escaped twice. In the first prisoner of war camp, a place called Le Kef in Tunisia, a fellow prisoner Ted Hart who was another Blenheim man he and I we shinned over, I use the expression we use in the book, the shithouse wall because that’s exactly what it was. It was a filthy latrine and we managed to get over this wall and drop on to the other side and escape into the night. And I spoke limited French but we walked throughout the night, a matter of some thirty, some forty miles I think to a place called Souk el Arba and went into a local hotel and noticed they had bed and breakfast available which was on a notice board in the reception room.
Interviewer: Were you dressed in your —
JDH: We were dressed in a huge army greatcoat which the French had given to us. They were French soldier’s greatcoats and they issued us with these as clothing to keep warm because we were up in the mountains. In the hills. And we went out with these on covering our uniform which was underneath. You had to have a uniform because if not we could have been shot as spies and we had to be very very careful to conceal it. And when we arrived in the hotel I said to the lady at the reception, ‘Bonjour madame, deux cafe s’il vous plait.’ ‘Certainement monsieur.’ And that’s how it began. And after that I said, ‘E deux chambre lit?’ ‘Certainement Monsieur.’ And she took me up to the room and was talking, showing us the room and I realised that I couldn’t keep up this pretence of being French in general conversation. So I just said, ‘Madame, [unclear] Francais.’ As though I was American. I said that we were Americans and that we were doing geological studies with the Vichy French and we had been working during the night. That’s why we were in this scruff. She seemed to accept that and after two or three days we managed to get a train which took us across the frontier to a place called Souk Ahras.
Interviewer: Across the frontier into Tunisia?
JDH: Into Algeria.
Interviewer: Into Algeria.
JDH: Algeria. We were then fortunate when we crossed that frontier and everybody got out to have a check of some sort of reason. There was a chap on the platform obviously checking people and we stayed where we were right opposite and two French soldiers opened our carriage door and just said, ‘Permission militaire, Monsieur?’ And I said, ‘Mai oui certainement. Bon permission.’ And off they went. Ted said, ‘Well, what was that all about?’ I said, ‘They seemed to think that we were French on leave.’ And the chap who was doing the checking on the, on the station platform could see this therefore he didn’t trouble us anymore. Now the funny part was well it wasn’t really funny was that when we were recaptured we had to come back and cross this place in reverse and he was there. I just looked at him and I just said, ‘You remember me?’ He thought we were going to drop him you see. And then I did fourteen days cells and three days dungeons.
Interviewer: So they picked you up again and put you back into Le Kef.
JDH: But I escaped again. This time in this place called Laghouat which is in the Sahara desert.
Interviewer: Who did you escape with this time?
JDH: This time we started to dig a tunnel in November 1941 and the tunnel was completed in June ‘42 and it was sixty odd metres in length. A hundred and ninety odd feet. We used two bread knives which started off being about nine inches in length and finished up by being about three. And twenty nine of us got out and twenty nine of us were recaptured. There was nowhere to go. But we’d done it right under their noses and of course their hierarchy, the French Vichy hierarchy took it out on the commandant of the camp and various people they were all dipped in rank and things like that.
Interviewer: What nationality were the guards?
JDH: Mostly Arabic. Mostly Arabic.
Interviewer: Under French.
JDH: Under French. Vichy French. Yes. Mostly Arab.
Interviewer: And their attitude to you? Or you to them as well.
JDH: I suppose we would say then in those days [unclear] comme ci comme ca.
Interviewer: They weren’t over cruel or —
JDH: Not really. No. I mean you had to excise a bit of common sense. I mean they had guns. They were armed and it paid not to be foolish. I mean you know for example we had a ligne [unclear] which was a line running around the periphery of the camp before you come to the barbed wire. You could see it actually and if we were using the, playing with the ball and it bounced underneath there don’t follow it.
Interviewer: No.
JDH: Go up to the line, look up at the guard, ‘Permission?’ And they would say [Depeche trois] You know, ‘Get a move on then,’ and they’d train their gun and you’d go and pick your ball up and acknowledge it.
Interviewer: Yes.
JDH: Acknowledge it because they were doing their duty but had we proceeded they’d have shot us. Oh they would have shot us without any doubt. Yes. And the whole thing was flood lighted you know. They floodlighted it at night. So —
Interviewer: So you got out again and got how far this time?
JDH: Oh, not very far. We were recaptured the next morning because the premier spahi which are the crack horse regiment of that part of the world they just released them into the desert and they just sort of fanned, a sort of fan movement. They just picked us up. We had no alternative. I thought they were going to shoot us because they clicked their rifles back. They were brilliant horsemen. They could ride without hands, you know and hold their rifle. So we put up our hands. I shall never forget that. Just put up our hands and it worked. I’ll say this for them three of them jumped off their horses and threw their guns across to three others and they allowed us to have some water, to drink some water. And then they just got us on the back of that, one each on the back of their horse, beautiful animals.
Interviewer: Were you punished for escaping?
JDH: Oh yeah. Had about sixteen days in the cells. Yeah. Oh, I’ve done more cells than [unclear] and back.
Interviewer: The cells, the cells sounds particularly –
JDH: There were two of us in one cell because there were so many of us they hadn’t enough cells to put us one in a cell so they put two of us in a cell and its just a stone. A sloping stone slab. And they opened the doors in the morning into a sort of courtyard to enable us if required to use their so-called toilet facilities which were pretty awful. But they had, we had the churn. It literally was a milk churn in the centre of this quadrangle which we had to use. We’d just sit on this churn or stand on it and take it in turns to empty it. You know, each one get carrying one hand. So it was a wonderful experience you know. A wonderful experience. And I remember looking at a thermometer we passed one of their bureaus, their offices on route to the place where we took this contents of the churn and this was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the temperature was a hundred and four. And that was in early June and it soared into July August. At midday I don’t know what it reached. Probably about forty degrees centigrade, celsius or whatever it is. A hundred and twenty, a hundred and thirty degrees. Unbearable. If we did any washing we had very restricted facilities and I got some soap sent from England and I was very fortunate to get this soap. Carbolic soap. Go out to the wash trough when the water was on. It was only on for a restricted period of time. You put one articulate into the wash tub and then put it one side to do the other one by the time you’d done the second one the first one was bone dry just like a board. Unbelievable.
Interviewer: What affect did this experience have because it was about two years you were a prisoner wasn’t it?
JDH: Two and a quarter.
Interviewer: Yes, that’s —
JDH: About a year and a quarter in the desert and the other year in two other places. At one time we thought we were going to be repatriated, so did the Vichy French in exchange for the German submarine crew and we were sent to a place called [unclear] I write about it in there.
Interviewer: Yes.
JDH: I don’t know whether I do it in that book.
Interviewer: Yes, you did.
JDH: Yes, because I I refer to the brothel. Have you read about that?
Interviewer: Yes.
JDH: And the woman I was with she’d be about forty I suppose and she didn’t speak any English at all. All French. It was rather funny. She came up to the bar actually and was talking to us in French and she suddenly changed the conversation and said, ‘Pour vous monsieur dix franc.’ So Ted said, that’s my colleague, he said, ‘What was that?’ I said, ‘She’s just said to me for me it’ll be ten francs.’ He said, ‘How much for me?’ I said, [unclear] I said, ‘Same for you. Ten francs. I’ll toss you over who goes first.’
Interviewer: And that was while you were waiting when you thought this —
JDH: We thought we were going to be repatriated you see and I was terribly concerned about infection you see. This thing. And we used [unclear] potash which you put into solution and of course its virulent purple [laughs] A bit of a mess. But now, you see these are true things. This is what happened. It’s not biographical it’s autobiographical.
Interviewer: So when the repatriation fell through you then were put back again. Is that right?
JDH: Yeah.
Interviewer: So you were back in again after having your hopes built up. What did all these experiences, how did it you know colour your life afterwards or was it just a character building two and a quarter years or what?
JDH: I think in some respects its almost been helpful if you like because I know I’ve done it. You see I can walk down the road here. There are people who talk to me, they call across to me and I don’t have a clue who they are but because of these books you see I’m well known. And I’m on my own now because my wife died six and a half years ago. I think this is the hard part. Particularly when you’ve been to a do like that and then come back in the evening to a vacuum, to an empty house. No. The part of the war which is the most disturbing to me wasn’t the flying. It wasn’t the operational flying it was the prisoner of war side. But I’ll tell you this. My crew on the Lancaster my flight engineer was nineteen and my bomb aimer who was a huge chap six foot two, towered above me just made, just failed to make the teens and he was just twenty. I mean they were only boys really. I at twenty six, twenty seven then was an old man. And we got coned once in the master searchlight. This is in the Lancaster and the master searchlight is almost ultraviolet and if one of those catches you the other aircraft home in on it and then they push the flak up. You don’t stand a chance. I don’t know of any crew, aircraft that’s been coned in the master searchlight that hasn’t been shot down and I just was waiting for it to happen and what was it going to be like. And the pilot promptly put the aircraft, this is a Lancaster fully bomb loaded, fully loaded with bombs put it into a dive and spiralled. No good at all. I mean you couldn’t evade, couldn’t evade this searchlight and we lost altitude from twenty one thousand to twelve. Nine thousand feet in no time whatsobe and gravity pushed my head on to the table and I couldn’t [pause] I was just waiting for the explosion. But suddenly that light went out. We didn’t evade it. It went out. The gunners were firing away like crazy. Now whether they had succeeded in firing down the beam and putting it out or whether something else I don’t know but that light went out. And this little engineer of nineteen years of age with the pilot they hauled this huge Lancaster from the vertical almost into the horizontal with a full bomb load and it didn’t break its back and we went on to the target. I thought we’d get an immediate DFC but we didn’t. We didn’t get anything.
Interviewer: If I can just mention or just ask you about how you did get out of the prison you were eventually repatriated.
JDH: We were repatriated. The Allies and that’s the Americans and the British and the Canadians, the Allied forces invaded Algeria in November 1942 and the Vichy French surrendered. We wondered what would happen to us. My fear was when we heard that this invasion had taken place my fear was that they might take us away from the prison camp and whip us into Germany before our forces landed but they didn’t. They unlocked the doors and they dismissed any guard who they thought had been difficult and brought in a fresh lot of guards who were courtesy itself and couldn’t do enough for us. It was all hypocrisy, hypocritical and we spent the last four days just using the place for the passing of time until there was transport able to take us up to Algiers and we sailed home.
Interviewer: And you came back in HMS Keren, I think.
JDH: HMS Keren.
Interviewer: Yes.
JDH: It sailed out there with American troops I think it was. And I don’t know what its cargo was but they loaded it up with oranges. The hold was absolutely filled. Of course, you couldn’t get oranges in this country so we took it back loaded with oranges. Yeah.
Interviewer: You didn’t have scurvy when you came back did you? [laughs] So how did you feel when you got back? Did you want to get back into the fight?
JDH: Oh yes. Because the first thing, basically the first thing that we were asked when we got, we landed in, where was it? In Greenock in Scotland and we were taken by train under guard. With guards. No civilian was allowed to come anywhere near that carriage. We were taken by train to London and interviewed by top brass and virtually the first thing they asked us, ‘Do you wish to fly again?’ And having said yes then that’s when I got the opportunity to remuster if I wished and train as a pilot and I said no, I’d like to take up navigation again and do a refresher course. This is what I did. And I could do that more quickly you see. I thought I’d get back on to flying more quickly. And navigation was my metier. I liked navigation.
Interviewer: So it was back to, to an OTU for a little while while you —
JDH: I went to, it wasn’t an OTU to start off with. What would you call it? [pause] A place called Moreton Valence.
Interviewer: An AFU. Number 6 AFU.
JDH: AFU. And from there we went to Wymeswold which was an OTU. Operational Training Unit. And from Wymeswold I went to, wasn’t it Lindholme? Which was a Conversion Unit to four engine. And then to the squadron and did my first operational flight on a 100 Squadron on Lancasters to Brunswick, Braunschweig in the middle of December ’44 and finished the tour at the D-Day landings and saw the flotilla going over. Then we came back and we spoke to the crew, the pilot and myself and we said, ‘How do you feel about carrying on?’ We said, ‘We’re game.’ I said, ‘It seems a shame now doesn’t it?’ I said. ‘We’ve landed on the other side, or they have.’ I said, ‘Carry on. Let’s support them.’ So we went to the squadron commander and he was delighted. We said, ‘On the condition we get our aircraft back.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘It’s gone. It’s gone out tonight or its going out tonight.' He said, ‘If it comes back —’ and it did come back, ‘Yes, you can have it and continue.’ I was in the Officer’s Mess on the following morning I think it was and the doc as we called him, the medical officer, Doc Marshall he came up to me. He said, ‘Dougie, what’s this I hear about you chaps volunteering to fly again?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘That’s right, Doc.’ I said, ‘And we’re going to get our aircraft back.’ He just looked at me. He said, ‘Over my dead body.’ Just like that. I can see him saying that. I have used the quashed not squashed. ‘I have quashed it irrevocably.’ He said, ‘You don’t realise how sick you are.’
Interviewer: He could see in you strain and stress that you couldn’t feel or see yourselves.
JDH: I said, ‘Doc,’ I said, ‘They’re cross countrys from now on.’ I said, ‘We’ve landed on the other side. We’ve only got to go ahead and support them as they move along to occupy Germany.’ He said, ‘Cross country runs.’ The squadron at the end of that month lost another six Lancasters. Six. So –
Interviewer: Did you have the same crew in for nearly all your thirty ops?
JDH: No. When we finished operational flying they all went different places and I only met the bomb aimer again. I don’t know what happened to the rest. We’ve tried to contact them in the meantime you know over the period. We’ve tried on the internet website.
Interviewer: But for your thirty ops.
JDH: Thirty ops.
Interviewer: You was –
JDH: Oh, the first lot.
Interviewer: Yes.
JDH: Oh, they’re both dead. John [Riddick], he was the, he was killed in a crash very soon after we got back and my wireless operator Tony Randall there’s a picture in the book he was killed on his first operational flight on Halifaxes. I think he was from Pocklington or somewhere. I’m not sure.
Interviewer: Well, you were on the Nuremberg raid.
JDH: I was on the Nuremberg raid.
Interviewer: But because you’d gone, been one of the first to go you didn’t appreciate the catastrophe to come.
JDH: Well, as far as Nuremberg was concerned I can remember this quite clearly when we got back, back to the squadron at debriefing we were always asked the same sort of questions. ‘Well, how did it go?’ ‘What was it like?’ And I remember using the expression, ‘A piece of cake.’ The following morning [pause] firstly our ex-gunner, he got frostbite and was taken off flying and he was given ground duties and he sort of acted as a nursemaid for us for a little while until he got fit again. And he came into the billet at about mid-day or whatever when it was time for us to get up again and he said, ‘Well, chaps how many do you think you lost last night over Nuremberg?’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘Not many.’ I said, which is the entire command, I said, ‘Twenty.’ ‘No.’ He said, ‘Think again.’ I said, ‘More than that?’ He said, ‘Yes, more than that.’ ‘Thirty?’ ‘No.’ Then he finally said, ‘Ninety seven.’ I said, ‘Don’t talk rubbish.’ He said, ‘That’s what they say.’ And we did lose ninety seven and another thirteen failed to make their own bases and they crash landed in the UK and never got back to their base. So effectively we lost a hundred and ten aircraft that night. Ninety seven. Thirteen, a hundred and ten give or take, seven or eight hundred aircrew. And I say this, I’ll repeat it we lost more aircrew in that one night over Nuremberg than Fighter Command lost throughout the Battle of Britain. You see I know all this and therefore, oh I beg your pardon I don’t have to be prompted or asked or told. I know it. It just happened and I shan’t forget it. I never will forget it. And at ninety four, five what do I do? Do I go on? My publisher says, ‘Yes, you go on because you have a mission to fulfil.’ I said, ‘What is it?’ He said, ‘You’ll find out as you go along.’ And I think this is part of the mission. We thought we’d got five hundred pounds for that raffle.
Interviewer: This was –
JDH: Barton on Humber last Sunday.
Interviewer: This was a signing of your autobiography and –
JDH: Yes.
Interviewer: Later published.
JDH: I sold thirty five books.
Interviewer: Yes. So they see your mission is to continue spreading the word really and –
JDH: Spreading the word. Oh, I know where the book is [pause] This is my eighth book.
Interviewer: Yes. Just now, “Just Douglas: A Navigator’s Story.”
JDH: Yes. I’ve got the covers for another one called, “The Best of Douglas.” But I don’t know what to do about it. But I’m writing another one now and it’s called, “St Bernard and Puppies.” It’s a make-believe story for children of all ages. I hope to get it to East Kirkby in Easter.
Interviewer: Oh excellent.
JDH: We’ll see.
Interviewer: So you did your thirty ops of which Nuremberg was one of them and you came to the end and wanted to remuster and they wouldn’t let you. So you went to Sandtoft to do some instructing which –
JDH: Instruction work. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. It’s not so much the instruction work but I just hated Sandoft. I don’t know. It was just something about the place I didn’t come to terms with at all. And I did as much flying as I could. They’re, all the instructional flights are logged in the book. Well, I don’t think in that book but certainly in this book. So, you know what I talked to you about happened and I have the written proof of it here and I have the aircraft letters and numbers which is, is a good fortune. My wife’s family are in here too. He was a big man in the St John Ambulance. That’s my wife’s father. Her family were co-founders of Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
Interviewer: Goodness.
JDH: You know who that is don’t you?
Interviewer: Yes, I do. Just Jane at East Kirkby.
JDH: Yes. Those are the Pantons.
Interviewer: So you, you have your books to sell and you go to the various commemorations.
JDH: Yeah.
Interviewer: And that is obviously a very important part of your life now.
JDH: Very important. Here’s a great guy. Air Chief Marshall Sir Clive Loader. He did the preface for my, for that book. I’ll show you.
[pause]
JDH: Was it this one?
Interviewer: Yes, it was.
JDH: Yes.
Interviewer: There it is. It’s just by your finger.
JDH: “On Sunday the 27th of August my wife Alison and I had the great honour of representing todays Royal Air Force. I was deeply touched – ” This is Douglas Hudson, “I was deeply touched when he asked whether I would be prepared to write a forward to this, the sixth edition of, “There and Back Again: A Navigator’s Story.” I’m truly delighted to do so. Sir Clive Loader,” etcetera etcetera. He’s retired now and I don’t know whether I ought to try to contact him or not. I perhaps feel that it would be an intrusion into his retirement. I don’t know. It’s very difficult to say.
Interviewer: Can you see yourself having a different life?
JDH: Could I see myself –
Interviewer: Yes, you know it’s –
JDH: I don’t know. You see, look. It’s the life of now with so much in it which I can think about. Somebody said I’m a ladies man. So be it. That’s Sandra Morton. That’s the lady across the road who introduced you. That is Marguerita [Allen] She used to phone me from California quite regularly. She now is living in Preston. And that is Lola Lamour. In other words, Joanne Massey. Now, she and I will be re-enacting together at East Kirkby in May.
Interviewer: Well, that’s wonderful. Thank you very much Douglas. It’s, it’s been a treat to listen to you. Thank you.

Collection

Citation

Claire Bennet and This Interview was recorded by Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire., “Interview with James Douglas Hudson,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 28, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/46460.

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