Interview with Nelson Nix


Interview with Nelson Nix
1032-Nix, Nelson


Nelson Nix grew up as a child during the war. His father kept the village shop and was also a special constable and member of the Observer Corps which later became the Royal Observer Corps. The post had access to the Darkie sets which were used to guide stricken or lost aircraft back to their base or directed them to ditch in the Wash where boats were on standby to collect the crews. Nelson went on to join the Royal Observer Corp himself and was with them for thirty two years. After his service he then went on to be a guide at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight based at RAF Coningsby.







00:07:47 audio recording


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Interviewer: This is an interview with Mr Nelson Nix at RAF Coningsby on the 19th of May 2011 concerning his experiences during the Second World War as a child and afterwards. Would you like to start Nelson with that little story?
NN: Yeah. Ok then. Well, right from the very start I would be about six, five six years old and my father who kept the village store he also was in the Special Constables and then later on became in the Observer Corps which In 1942 became The Royal Observer Corps. Now, there was a post, a Royal Observer Corps post on the Fossdyke, on the riverbank which he used to man at night and do his job in the daytime of course running the shop. And after that of course they were [pause] scrub that bit, I’ve forgotten [laughs] I’ve forgotten what I was saying. But anyway, yeah he, the post itself that was issued with what they called a Darkie set and the Darkie set was so that they could contact or the aircraft coming back that was probably been shot up and things and couldn’t get back to the base or lost and that sort of thing like they did occasionally do and consequently he could contact them. Either put them on the right heading or get them to ditch on the Black Buoy Sands in the Wash which was where they could be rescued from. There used to be two, as I remember two boats in the Boston Docks that could be launched to go and pick them up. Air sea rescue as it presumably would be called then. I don’t know. But anyway, that sort of thing happened and again as a boy I can remember standing outside the shop in the evenings watching all these hundreds of aircraft which over the Wash area, would be taking off from places throughout Lincolnshire to get the height and formations before they went off to Germany to bomb. I didn’t know that. It was all rather fun for a boy of six or seven. So from that I can still picture that in my mind, all those hundreds of aircraft. It could have been some of the thousand bomber raids which I didn’t know about then. But they would be getting the height and that ready to fly off and everything would go dead quiet after that. You know, it was just one big buzz. But, and then the next thing you probably heard was them coming back again later on, you know. But, yeah it was quite an experience and even today I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Things today I can’t remember what happened earlier on [laughs] It’s hard but from then I always had a keen interest in aircraft and no military record whatsoever. I failed my medical test for the Forces on the call up when it, so I didn’t go. What I did then I joined the Royal Observer Corps and I did thirty two years in the Royal Observer Corps as a voluntary, well I went through from basically an observer to instructor observer and then on to head observer and we were, our headquarters at Fiskerton in Lincoln and when I first joined it was at Derby. But that was a long while ago. I can’t remember too much about that but we did aircraft reporting for a start and then gradually we came on to the underground posts which was a post consisted of three post members at a time. Each post had about ten to twelve observers which we could go and change duties with and what have you. And that, we used to have exercises on aircraft reporting and you know that kind of thing. And I’ve got to think back. And anyway, things sort of progressed to the Cold War situation where we was underground in these underground bunkers and they, we would go on duty, do these exercises for reading the different instruments we had on board or in the post. We were a sealed unit at the time where we were fastened down and then it was all theatrics. Well, you couldn’t practice on the real bombs [laughs] but it was just in case we did. Through triangulation if you had two or three posts within say a bomb had fell, exploded, so you’d have a flash which was recorded on a pinhole camera and all the [unclear] would be around it at four cardinal points. So by reading those and putting them over the radio to Fiskerton if you had three posts you would get, you would find out whether the bomb had actually dropped or if it was an airburst or a ground burst. So that if you had a ground burst you get more fallout than you would from an airburst. But an airburst would probably flatten things more. So that’s how it worked and I was in that as I said for thirty two years. In that time unfortunately I did have cancer and that’s what twenty two years ago now and I came on to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. One of our lads on, which I was on Coningsby post at that time, I was head observer there and he said, ‘Well, you know, why don’t you?’ I’d lost, I’d had to sell my business and what have you through the cancer so I came down to Coningsby and I’ve been down here for twenty two years taking people around Lancasters, Spitfires, Hurricanes and the Dakota of course. But it’s part of your life but I often think what would I have done if I hadn’t have done this and I thought, yeah most of the guys here they really thoroughly enjoy doing it as a voluntary job. So there we are. That’s about it. I’m still kicking about after twenty two years of cancer so it’s fine.
Interviewer: Well, thank you very much, Nelson. That was very interesting.


Claire Bennett and This Interview was recorded by Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire., “Interview with Nelson Nix,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 19, 2024,

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