Interview with Frank Boutcher


Interview with Frank Boutcher




00:09:21 audio recording


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My service No 1438838 and I am nearly 95 years old, I joined the RAF in early spring 1941, aged 19 and Marine Craft in early autumn 1944, I trained for Flight Mechanic in Morecombe in 1941, as Fitter in Blackpool in 1943, and Marine Fitter at Corsewall in 1944. I was posted to Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Holland. I served on Whaleback 158, then a Hant’s & Dorset 187, and lastly Long Range Ex Naval MTB 019, I served at the following, Cardington where I joined in 1941, kitting out at Blackpool 1941, Morecombe in 1941 square-bashing and flight mechanics course, Longtown near Gretna Green on single engined trainers, then Fighter Command at Castle Town near Thurso with Hurricanes and Spitfires on 167 Gold Coast squadron with Rolls Royce Merlin engines, the whole squadron moved to 12 Group at Ludham Norfolk for six months then to 11 Group at Hornchurch for only two days filling in bomb craters the whole squadron then moved to Westhampnett satellite of Tangmere in Sussex and re equipped with cannon for shooting up German tanks etc. on the French roads. As half the squadron was shot down it was removed to Woodvale in Lancashire and Dutch crews replaced us making it a completely Dutch squadron, we were paraded before Prince Bernhard and dismissed. Posted back to Blackpool Squires Gate on a Fitter 2E course and after passing I was posted to Chedburgh in Suffolk on Short Sterling’s, which funnily enough also have Rolls Royce Merlin engines, four in number. After six months I spotted a notice requiring volunteers for ASR I applied and was promptly posted to Marston Moor Yorkshire on Halifax’s these were radial engines which were new to me but after a few days I was posted to Corsewall near Stranraer on the fitter marine course and after passing that I was posted to Gorleston in Norfolk and spent the next nine months on the North Sea day and night on square search The boats I was on were Whaleback 158 Hant’s & Dorset 187 when the European war ended we were sent to Den Helder Holland on the same duties whilst there I was posted to Calshot for long range duties in the Pacific war but fortunately when that ended our two boats were sent to the Western Isles we set out up the channel into the North Sea stopping at Blyth and Aberdeen going through the Caledonian Canal stopping at Fort William and Oban and arriving at Bowmore Isle of Islay spending the autumn and winter shooting up mines but really meant to be saving any Americans if they were downed in Liberators taking them back to the States. Finally in the spring of 1946 we returned the boat to Calshot stopping at Londonderry, Larne, Douglas, Holyhead, Fishguard, Bideford, Newlyn, Torquay, Calshot and were finally demobbed in May 1946, I was lucky to meet some great characters such as Fortune Fowler skipper of 017 which like us was posted to the isle of Islay he was an Ex tramp steamer skipper and a real old sea dog, our skipper was Geoff Budden on 019 a young Ex pilot and fearless, I remember us rowing him up to a mine washed up on the beach which he climbed on top of and disarmed, I had good friends Knocker Knock on the whaleback and Andy Coleman on one of the Hant’s & Dorset’s Knocker was a very experienced fitter and helped me a lot working on the Napier Sea Lion’s which I knew nothing about. Andy Coleman was a friend of mine from the marine fitters course and we met up again in the middle of the North Sea on our way to and from Den Helder in separate boats, food in the service was generally poor but one meal I remember was a feast of Herrings we caught at Den Helder in the mouth of the Zuiderzee and cooked fresh. As I was in the engine room I did not sea rescues happening only the aftermaths of live or dead being transferred ashore at Gorleston. On our fitters course it was drilled into us to use our caps in case of an engine fire and this happened to me, I was up in the under cart priming a Halifax when it occurred and I beat out the flames with my cap until the rest of the ground crew were able to get the extinguishers working and the aircrew out of the aircraft, I was told I would be awarded a mention in dispatches by the Flight Seargeant but instead I was posted the following day to Corsewall on Fitter Marine Course ……….That’s Life.


“Interview with Frank Boutcher,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 25, 2024,

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