Interview with David Fraser

Title

Interview with David Fraser

Description

David Fraser enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1939 and was trained as a mechanic. He remustered as soon as he was able and flew four operations as an air gunner with 115 Squadron before his aircraft was shot down over Hamburg, in May 1941. He spent the next four years as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 3.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-07-13

Contributor

Julie Williams

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.

Format

45:54 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AFraserD150713

Conforms To

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

AM: Ok, so this interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is myself Annie Moody and the interviewee is David Fraser. The interview is taking place at David’s home in Winchelsea in Kent. No.
DF: Sussex.
AM: Sussex.
DF: East Sussex.
AM: In East Sussex.
DF: Yeah.
AM: On the 13th of July 2015. So if you can just tell me just a little bit about your, your family background, schooling and childhood?
DF: Yeah.
AM: Schooling and what have you.
DF: I was born in Northumberland. And I was there until I was seven. Then we moved to Wales and that’s where I was educated, in Wales. But, but education was nil. Just the three Rs and I didn’t get to grammar school or, I sat the scholarship but failed [laughs]. Then pressed on and left school at fourteen. And I was too young to join the RAF even as an apprentice but I was determined to join the RAF from an early age. From the time I was a toddler I was always interested in aircraft. And so I had to wait till I was seventeen and a half, which I did.
AM: So what did you do in between?
DF: Oh.
AM: Between fourteen and seventeen?
DF: I had various, I had a great time ‘cause there was plenty of jobs about and I just went - I had a factory job in a radio factory. I had one in a motorcycle factory. And I just bided my time until I was seventeen and a half and then I joined the RAF.
AM: So when you say I joined the RAF. Just talk me through that. How? What did you do first? How did it work?
DF: Oh I just made an application and they gave me an appointment up in London – Kingsway and I had this exam to be done which was easy and wrote an essay about my experiences in London and I joined as a flight mechanic. I thought, I was under the impression that a flight mechanic would be associated with flying and, but I wasn’t. I was a humble mechanic.
AM: Did they give you a choice or did they say that -
DF: I could have had any choice really. When the flight sergeant read this essay he said are you sure you want to be a flight mechanic? I said yes. So I enlisted as a flight mechanic.
AM: And this was in? 19 -
DF: 1939.
AM: ’39.
DF: February ‘39.
AM: So before the war had started.
DF: Yeah and -
AM: So then what happened?
DF: And then I went on a flight mechanic course which involved a lot of filing metal and God knows what and I, I tried to fail the course. I just wasn’t interested in flight mechanicing and at the end of the course I saw the CO and I explained that I was not interested in the thing and they passed me with forty percent, the lowest possible pass mark. He said when you get to your squadron when you’re posted you’ll [remaster?]. So that’s what I did and what they wanted pilots, navigators and gunners and I volunteered for the pilot’s course but the waiting list was three or four months and I was afraid I might miss the war so I got the gunners course.
AM: Where, where, where were you living at this point?
DF: Cranwell. I was at Cranwell then.
AM: Ok.
DF: Which is not far from Lincoln. And -
AM: So you went, you went on the -
DF: Went on the gunnery course in Scotland.
AM: In Scotland?
DF: Evanton Gunnery School.
AM: And this is still just pre-war or?
DF: No the war was on then. That was 1940.
AM: Was on. Oh right. Ok, so what was that like?
DF: Great fun. Flying about. We had lumbering pre-war aircraft and in a high wind they’d fly backwards.
AM: What, what aircraft were they?
DF: They were Harrows, Handley Page Harrows. They were so slow that coming back one day I was in the rear turret and we were trying to fly over the High Street parallel with the high street and which was rather, which was forbidden and I saw the local copper get his book out and take our number [laughs]. He took our number. When we got back we got reported and hauled up before the CO for low flying.
AM: And this was still, so this is while you were in training
DF: 1940.
AM: And this is while you were training?
DF: Yes. While training, yes.
AM: Ok, so what, what was the training actually like? What did that consist of?
DF: Oh. Firing. Air to air firing from air to air firing and air to ground firing. Stripping guns and learning all about the mechanism of them and how they worked and we had a month. That took a month and then after that we went to operational training unit which is another three months.
AM: So where was OT?
DF: That was in Scotland.
AM: That was in Scotland as well?
DF: Yeah. Yeah. Lossiemouth, Scotland.
AM: So what did you do there? What did that consist of?
DF: We got there and one morning we were told to report to the hangar and the hangar was full of bods just milling around. The idea was to just mill around and find people you had something in common with and that’s how you crewed up. It was a marvellous system. And you, you found chaps you took a liking to and they reciprocated and that was the way a crews was formed. There were six of us in the crew.
AM: Who chose who?
DF: Hmmn?
AM: Who actually chose who? Who took the lead in it?
DF: Oh pilot, one of the Australian pilots. We had two Australian pilots. They’d been around the offices and seen who got the best marks. And that was what happened. I had good marks at gunnery so they, ‘well he’s a good bloke’ and picked me and that was it.
AM: Were you with anyone else that you’d done the gunnery training with? Oh no you would all have been together wouldn’t you and milling around as you put it.
DF: Oh yes we were all there and we just formed up crews at that, on that morning.
AM: So you’ve got your crew. Then what?
DF: Then we started training as a crew.
AM: As a crew.
DF: Yeah.
AM: In what kind of aircraft?
DF: Wellingtons.
AM: In Wellingtons.
DF: Yeah and -
AM: So how did that go? What was that like?
DF: Well it was a bit dicey because we used to lose on average one crew per course. There were six crews per course and we used to lose one, an average one, one every course. Weather conditions primarily, hitting mountains or getting lost, snowstorms and God knows what, not and aircraft maintenance wasn’t the best ‘cause they were rushing things through and I think things got missed and -
AM: So as a rear gunner training?
DF: Ahum.
AM: What were you shooting at?
DF: Oh whatever they – sometimes they’d send a spitfire up and we’d have cameras, and have camera gunnery and they would develop later on, see how we’d got on. And and other aircraft again drogue, with a drogue towing - you’d fire at that and it was good fun really. We were there for about three months – November, December, January, February, March – yes just over three months. Then we went to the squadron.
AM: And at -
DF: At Marham.
AM: At Marham so -
DF: Norfolk.
AM: Which squadron?
DF: 115 squadron.
AM: 115.
DF: Yeah and we were only there just over a month, then we were shot down. [laughs]
AM: So how many operations did you actually do?
DF: Four.
AM: Four.
DF: Yeah.
AM: Where did you go on operation?
DF: Emden was the first one. Then Brest after the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau battle ships and the last one was Hamburg when we were shot down.
AM: And this was in, still 1940?
DF: ‘41.
AM: We’ve moved to ‘41 now.
DF: ’41. May 10th ‘41 we were shot down.
AM: So describe that to me. The shooting down, and what happened.
DF: Well we were, went up and approached the target and just before we got there we were knocked off course by a, with a blast of blasts so we went around again and that was our undoing. If we’d just got out, got out of it we’d have been ok but went around again doing the job properly and then caught in a cone of searchlights. There was one pilot beam which, and that latches on to you and the rest follow and you’re caught in this cone of lights like a sort of gnat [laughs] and they shot the hell out of us and hit, hit the hydraulics so I couldn’t operate any guns. I couldn’t see anything, couldn’t operate, I had no gunsights which was electrical had been knocked out so I was useless. Nothing. I couldn’t manipulate anything. The gun, nothing would move ‘cause we rely upon hydraulic pressure for movement. And there I was. And then there was a silence. That meant a fighter was coming in and come in he did and he proceeded to sort of knock the hell out of us, set fire to the flares in the flare rack and she started blazing and that was the start of the, the whole thing.
AM: So then what happened? Describe it to me if you can.
DF: Of course, normally as a rear gunner you could just turn, turn the turret around, jetison the doors and just drop out but of course I couldn’t do that because the damned thing was jammed up so I squeezed back in, went up the fuselage towards the nose and there I saw Alex the second pilot, Aussie, he was lying bleeding profusely. He was bleeding in the arm and chest and I got him, stuffed him through the hatch, put my hand through to the rip cord. I said, ‘pull for God’s sake’ and anyhow I pushed him out and I looked out and saw him. His parachute opened so that was ok [laughs] and he recovered later on but he was badly wounded.
And then I bailed out and the country I landed in was very much like Romney Marsh. All level and no cover at all, there were no trees [laughs] or anything. I really felt exposed but I hit the ground and as I hit the ground I was swinging. I swung forward and landed on the base of my spine and I thought I’d broken my back. So I just lay there manipulating toes and hands to see if I was ok. Everything moved, worked. And a great herd of cows gathered around me. Friesian cattle. They all came out sniffing around the parachute so I just lay there for about half an hour ‘cause they were good cover and they just, they were nice and warm too these cattle, and I just laid there.
And then when I came to my senses I got the parachute and stuffed it into a dyke and sank it by putting a great, a bit of rock on top of it and I thought now where I shall go. The obvious thing was Denmark and that was occupied by Germans so anyhow I made, I was making for the Danish border. I thought I might have a bit of luck, get over it, get picked up by Danish patriots.
I hadn’t gone more than about a quarter of a mile and as dawn was breaking I came to a hut. It was a hut occupied by searchlight crews and there was a sentry outside and he saw me. He said, ‘ach Englander flieger for you the war is over. Come’. And that was it. I was hauled in to this hut and there I saw Alex lying on this table.
AM: Alex was the Aussie?
DF: Who was wounded, yeah
AM: Ahum.
DF: I thought he was dying. But he was breathing, shallow breathing and he said to me, “Look what they’ve done to my best shirt.” His shirt was all mangled and bleeding and then I was whipped away and put on to a lorry and taken away. And I I didn’t know what had happened to Alex. I thought, honestly thought he’d died until nine months later he turned up in the camp. He’d recovered.
AM: What happened to the rest of the crew?
DF: Well Bill the navigator, when I bailed out I put Alex through the hatch I looked across at Bill who was bent over the main hatch and I yelled, “Come this way.” But he made a gesture like that - so I left, at him waving, went out assuming he’d got out from the main hatch. But what had happened, I didn’t realise, what what had happened, when my turret caught fire Bill came down to give me a hand with the fire extinguisher by which time I’d got the fire out so on returning, he was returning to position and he got the second burst of machine gun fire, was hit in the intestines, went right through the back and right through the front and I didn’t realise he’d been wounded. Yeah.
Then the skipper called out and got no reply so he assumed we were all out and he bailed out and Bill was left in the machine on his own. He was a navigator, he wasn’t a pilot and he thought, ‘well I think I may as well, I’m wounded I may as well dive into the, dive into the deck and get it over with’ and he suddenly thought no he’d carry on. He took over and brought the aircraft down, the wheels, brought the aircraft down and he just came below some high tension cables, past a row of cottages in front of a hospital [laughs] and again they came and cut him out of the aircraft and whipped him into the hospital and this eminent French surgeon who was there, one of the the leading surgeons in France performed an operation on him and that saved his life. But later on he got dysentery and the stitches all broke and that was it. He never ever recovered properly. He always had this open wound and, but the skipper, Andy he bailed out and drowned in the river. He just didn’t release his chute obviously and there was - so one killed and two wounded and three whole.
AM: Three in one piece. So you’re on the lorry. You’re being taken away somewhere.
DF: Yes.
AM: Then what?
DF: And went, went to the officer’s mess, of the -
AM: The mess in?
DF: The squadron who’d shot us down. German officer’s mess but first of all we were interviewed by the couple of bods there and they were trying to get information out of us there and I just gave my name, rank and number. And they said, “Hang ‘em. Hang ‘em.”
Anyhow I didn’t say anything at all and they let me go into another room. Then they took us, a car came and took us to the mess and then we met the guy who shot us down. And he gave us Cognac and coffee and had a general chin wag with them and they said don’t worry the war won’t last long about another six months and the Fuehrer will be riding on a white horse down Whitehall and we said, “Wait and see” and this amused them this ‘wait and see’. And we finally left and they all came on to the front steps to see us off and they all said, “Wait and see” ha ha ha and we said, “Yes wait and see.” And I often wonder how many of them remained alive to wait and see.
AM: And you say us. So how many of you were there?
DF: There were two, there were two of us there.
AM: So, you because -
DF: Two of us and one was a bit further afield and he joined us later on. So there were three of us at [unclear] we were picked up and eventually made our way – or were taken to Hamburg station, put on a train and taken to Dulag Luft which was a reception depot.
AM: Ahum.
DF: And again we were interrogated by, by a guy speaking flawless English. He was, he could have been English and we gave our name, rank and number and he wanted to know what squadron we were from and they were interested in the Stirling. The Stirling at that time had just come operational and they had no information on it and they wanted to know about it. Anyhow, I didn’t give them any information and he pushed a packet of cigarettes and he said, “Didn’t I compete against you at the University Games in London?” I said, “No. No.” And he gave me these cigarettes which I politely refused. I was a non-smoker. After about an hour he, they let me into the compound with the rest, the rest of the bods and we met up in the, in the main sort of main hall. And there were about thirty aircrew there who had been shot down in the last few days. And they had permanent staff there who had been shot down way back. And we then went, the RAF camp wasn’t ready, hadn’t been built so we went around various other camps, army camps and we went to Austria, Poland a sort of cooks tour of Germany and we finally settled up and we ended up in Lamsdorf which an army camp near Breslau and there we remained until the RAF camp was ready which was Stalag Luft III.
AM: So how long were you at the one before Stalag Luft III? How long were you there for?
DF: Oh about, our wanderings, we were wandering about almost a year.
AM: On trains or -
DF: On trains yeah. We’d go, they’d take us to a camp. We might be there two months. Another camp we might be there for three months.
AM: And who was in, you said they were army camps.
DF: They were army camps yeah.
AM: So who else was in them?
DF: Well the last one, in Austria in a place called Wolfsburg, was a French army camp. There were about eighteen thousand Frenchmen. And -
AM: What did you do?
DF: We just -
AM: When you were in there?
DF: We just lived. Existed really. We commandeered the ablutions there and made them fit for use, our own use after the French had made a terrible sort of mess of them. The odd French peasant he doesn’t mind where he, where he sort of goes does he?
AM: But you were a bit more discerning.
DF: And we cleaned it up and it became our own, our own ablutions and everything.
AM: So then Stalag Luft III. Tell me about that.
DF: Oh that 1942 we got there. End of ’42. And that was where we really organised there. An organised camp. There were libraries there and skilled teachers. That’s where a lot of guys started their university experience. Qualified in the intermediate.
AM: Amongst the POWs?
DF: Yes.
AM: So they, who ran the -
DF: Ran the, ran the camp, yeah. Now my pilot, the one who was wounded, he took his intermediate economics exams on [?] university and he ended up being the deputy vice chancellor of the University at Perth.
AM: What did you do?
DF: What did I do? I did, I learned German. I read a lot and increased my knowledge generally and of course mixing with all different types of people what they knew rubbed off on you and I just gleaned information that way.
AM: And you were there for how long?
DF: All told four years.
AM: Four years.
DF: Ahum.
AM: I can’t imagine it.
DF: And we dug tunn, I was involved in five tunnels.
AM: Oh tell me a bit more about that.
DF: Well the first one we dug was what we called a moler and it was just, the actual tunnel was about the same size as your body, your shoulders and it was a question of knees and elbows and digging with a implement and the earth was shoved back like a mole does and after about a half an hour you had to give up and signal you were passing out. Of course you had a rope around your ankle and when you gave a signal they pulled you, hauled you back. Next man in and so it went on.
There was a brand new washhouse there the Germans had built, they weren’t using it, between us and the fence and we thought if we could get to that washhouse and crack a pipe and get some fresh air and I happened to have been digging with the pipe and there it was, this lovely salt glaze pipe and I had a bit of a rock with me and I gave it a couple of bangs and it broke and the fresh air came and, oh marvellous. And then the winter came along and the position we were in it was visible. We had dug during the summer by putting up two sticks with a blanket and just were sunbathing ostensibly but it was just that it was just the cover and there was just the blanket was just high enough so that the guard couldn’t see over it. And we dug this and yes carried on for some weeks and then we had to give up because winter started you couldn’t sunbathe.
AM: Don’t sunbathe in winter. So that was one tunnel.
DF: That was the first one.
AM: And what happened to it? Where did it, did it actually get to the outside?
DF: Oh yes it got about forty yards and we had to give it, had to leave it so I don’t know what happened to it. It probably caved in in the end.
AM: So that was the first one?
DF: The first one.
AM: And then?
DF: The second one was one from the one that had been discontinued, again in a washhouse and that was, that was quite a big one and I started on that and that’s when the Americans came into the camp then. American officers and I’ll never forget this ‘cause I was familiar with Roger and Wilko they were the sort of references to Roger and out or Wilco - will cooperate and this guy was a captain. I was handing up sand and he kept saying Roger. And I honestly thought he had two blokes up there - one called Wilkins and the other called Roger. [Laughs] You simply say passing the bucket to one guy Roger, Roger,
AM: And that was sand?
DF: That was compact sand really.
AM: So how did you stop the tunnel collapsing?
DF: Well we dug with, I had a big tablespoon just with the handle off and dug like that ‘cause it was easy digging. Too easy actually. Got some collapses and so had to retain a dome shape. So it kept its own shape and that damp got in to that and we gave it up. And the big tunnel, the best tunnel was the biggest one and that was again near a wash house, near a soakaway. We started on that. Dug down about ten feet down for the shaft and then along towards the wire and it hadn’t rained, we got about fifty yards, it hadn’t rained for about, nearly a month and suddenly it belted it down and it didn’t stop for about five days and we were digging near the soakaway so there was a subsidence in the soil and we saw a German ferret, we called them ferrets, snooping around and we saw him probing cause he saw the ground subsiding and so we went, we went to the barrack hut and the next thing we knew there was a hell of a commotion and there was German fire engine came dashing in and this guy had fallen in through into the soakaway and this fire engine came in and they got a special harness and put it around him and hauled him out and everyone cheered and they got their pistols out and started firing. I’ve never seen blokes move so quickly.
AM: Firing in what direction? At you?
DF: Oh in the direction of us, yes. So I saw blokes making for the huts, diving through windows and [laughs]
AM: Was anybody killed?
DF: No.
AM: Was anybody shot?
DF: No.
AM: No.
DF: No and then, it was then that they started issuing notices saying that all materials because you had we had to used beds and bed boards which in the German eyes was sabotage and they just said that anyone caught tunnelling in future and misusing German material would be guilty of sabotage and would spend a long time in prison or might, could even be shot. That didn’t dissuade us. We just carried on.
And then we went up to Barth a place called Barth on the Baltic coast and started a tunnel there cos the Yanks were there and we.
AM: So you moved up.
DF: Yes.
AM: From where you were.
DF: Yes.
AM: To a different camp. And what camp was that?
DF: Barth B A R T H
AM: It was actually called, right ok.
DF: And we started a tunnel there with the Americans and we were sent back to our own camp again then we started another one from a barrack, from a barrack hut which meant moving a big stove each time, each time and that got us, it was arduous so we gave it up and that was the end of the tunnelling really.
AM: So you never actually got any of them out?
DF: We didn’t no.
AM: Were you aware of what was happening with the ‘great escape’ tunnel?
DF: No we, we knew the Germans were getting trigger happy. They were very concerned about people using materials, sabotage and God knows what and they issued notices in the camp - escape is no longer a sport, it could result in death. And the first information we had was when we got – where were we then – up near Konigsburg. We’d all had to go, move camp and in through the gates came a convoy of motorcycles and vehicles all armed with heavy machine guns and they proceeded to cordon around us. We were out in the open some sort of roll surrounded us and this German, CO, German CO read out what had happened. He said that fifty, fifty officers had been shot and we all booed and then they clicked their safety catches and started getting - so our senior man said, “Cool it blokes, cool it blokes” don’t want any disasters but we knew. They said they were shot while trying to escape but they they’d been recaptured and then shot. We found -
AM: Did you know that or found out later on?
DF: Later on yes yeah. Marvellous, good men lost their, the whole secret organisation leaders were shot and there were several Germans hanged for it after the war.
AM: So what, going back to you and where you were then. So we’re getting towards the end of the war. What things started happening?
DF: Yeah.
AM: What?
DF: Well we ended up at a place called [Fallingbostel?] it wasn’t far from the main autobahn between Hanover and Hamburg and things were getting a bit tight and all of a sudden one day you’re going to march, got to get out and march. So everyone packed up their belongings and gathered, and carried what they could and assembled outside the gates. We thought to hell with this. This could lead to hostage taking so we said no we’re not marching so there were five of us avoided the Germans. They were searching the whole camp get people out of it. We hid up in various places and when the coast was clear we went out through the wire and made contact with our own army.
AM: How? How?
DF: We just went out into the open and we passed through the German lines and saw Germans laying mines in culverts and we met up with - we saw a tank coming towards us over the brow of a hill and the gun swung around and the gun, comms tower was opened and a black bereted head popped out. We said, “Don’t fire. We’re English.” So they drew up about twenty yards from us, the crew got out and gave us cigarettes and there we were smoking and -
AM: You were a non-smoker.
DF: No. No. I tell you what, when I was twenty one, on my twenty first birthday there was a consignment of Red Cross parcels. So everyone – ‘oh food, marvellous’ but it wasn’t food it was tobacco. Cigarettes. The issue was thirteen per man so I had my thirteen cigarettes. I thought well I can’t eat I might as well bloody smoke. That’s when I started smoking. Twenty one.
AM: So here’s the tank.
DF: And, and they drew up and we sat there chatting on a grassy bank and we’d earlier, before we’d met the tank, we’d come to a farm. Went into the farmhouse and there at a long farm table were the farmer’s wife and about six Germans – troops. So we questioned them and obviously they were no longer interested in fighting, they just more or less deserted, or given themselves up. And when we, when we spoke to the tank commander and told them about the guys in the farmhouse his eyes lit up so he sent a guy, one man up to the farm about a mile back and he came back not with six blokes but about thirty. They were all skulking in the cowsheds.
And this guy he’d sent up there was an Austrian and who’d been in England since 1936 and he joined the British army, marvellous bloke. And I always remember this squadron, this tank commander was called Major Hepburn and everyone called him Kathy [laughs] and when these, these Germans came down, he lined them all up and they put their packs in front of them and he said, “Right open them up” and they opened them up. There were tins of beef and pork and eau de cologne and cigarettes, cigars so he said, “There you are blokes take what you want” so we took, there were tins of meat and God knows what and put them in our packs. And then he said you’re running, you’re running a bit of a risk he said ‘cause there are still troops hiding up in woods. This was the SS. And so they armed us with rifles and ammunition and gave us a driver and a jeep and we went back about ten miles up to divisional headquarters and dropped us off there. So we were free once again.
We just we went back through the lines again everywhere like a lot of bandits with rifles and and yards of ammo wound around us and if we felt hungry we just caught up with the nearest army thing and they fed us and gave us a bed for the night and it was a marvellous week really. It was, was blazing hot sun. Marvellous.
AM: And you just worked your way.
DF: Yeah worked our way across the -
AM: Where did you end up?
DF: Well we saw six RAF blokes coming down the road so we said, “Where are you from?” And they said, “Oh we’re from a transport squadron he said but a bit further back, about a mile along there’s a fighter squadron flying Tempests,” and we thought they’re the boys so we walked up there and the sentry said, “Halt” and brought the guard out and took our weapons away and we made statements they gave us pieces of paper saying the bearer is an escaped prisoner of war.
And then we had a marvellous shower and then were, we were guests of the officer’s mess where we drank and oh I’ve never drunk before in my life and funnily enough it must have been because we hadn’t drunk for ages but we couldn’t get drunk. We just, it was a marvellous sense. But the CO, the group captain he went slowly under the table, just collapsed really under the table.
And then there was another guy who saw us - he turned around and embraced one of our mates. He was, Gerry Clark who was with us, he was bilingual French and this guy saw him who was a French, French ace and he turned around and he saw him and, “Oh Gerry” and they were from Biggin Hill. That’s where they’d last met. And Gerry had collided with a German in a dog fight and he and the German were in the same hospital. But Pierre Clostermann was the name of this, this French ace. He wrote two books Flames in the Sky is one and Big Show is the other one.
AM: Ahum.
DF: And he always wore, always wore a pair of guns like he was some old cowboy. He was quite a flamboyant creature and after the war he became an MP.
AM: Ahum.
DF: Alsace yeah from Alsace.
AM: So how did you actually get back to England?
DF: Oh then they thought there’s an Anson going back to Dunsfold tomorrow and oh lovely we can go back just as we are and just as we are dressed in scruff order but they had to, they had to inform Movement Control and we had to go through channels and they gave us army uniforms, all brand new and we had to go through, go through with the rest of the guys and we ended up at Brussels and they were flying in petrol in jerry cans and flying out prisoners of war. So we flew back in a Stirling and I flew back in the rear turret. And then we, we had, after that we went, we had, to Cosford to be debriefed at Cosford and given RAF stuff. RAF uniforms.
AM: Proper uniforms.
DF: That’s it. And then given pay, indefinite leave and that was it. Anti-climax.
AM: So what did you do?
DF: I went back. I went home and that was it. Show over.
AM: When you said they gave you your pay so that’s for all the time that you’d been gone.
DF: Oh they didn’t give us the lot. They gave us an instalment.
AM: Right. So what did you do afterwards then?
DF: What?
AM: You’ve had the anti-climax. You’re back. You’re home.
DF: Yes.
AM: Then what?
DF: I just remained in the RAF till my demob number came up and meanwhile I met my wife. Met her in June and we were married in October. And it worked out marvellously well and she was demobbed first and then I was demobbed and then I thought well what do we do now?
So I got a government grant and trained as a chartered surveyor but I failed the ex, again my mind wasn’t a hundred percent. I just went through the motions and I just failed the exam in one subject and then I gave it up. And I’m glad I did because the idea, in retrospect the idea of being in a routine job never appealed to me so what I did I joined, later on I joined a company selling farm buildings and it was marvellous. I was a freelance representative out every day, living in a place I wanted to live in – Cornwall. It was marvellous. That’s where the family were brought up. We were twenty years down there.
AM: Right. And here you are.
DF: Here we are.
AM: In Winchelsea.
DF: Yeah. In our second love, Romney Marsh.
AM: Ahum. Any other stories for me or shall we switch off?
DF: Hmmn?
AM: Any other stories for me or shall I switch off?
DF: I could go on forever I think but -
AM: Do feel free.
DF: No, then we were in Cornwall and the company, the company I was with, I was a freelance agent and the company I was with thought it was too far too come to erect buildings in Cornwall. They were, they were in Herefordshire so they just withdrew the labour from Cornwall and left me high and dry. So I thought to hell with it I’ve just about had enough of this bloody rat race so I gave it up and I started gardening and I’ve never had a more pleasant time in my life. Self-employed gardening. Marvellous. I used to do a bit of building.
AM: Out in the weather.
DF: Marvellous yeah.
AM: Wonderful so you had a good life.
DF: I had a good life. Very fortunate, very lucky. I had sixty nine years of married life. Marvellous. Got two nice daughters and a son in Australia. Good family.
AM: And you go swimming
DF: Yeah.
AM: When you can. In the sea.
DF: Yeah.
AM: At 94.
DF: Yeah.
AM: I think on that note.
DF: Yes.
AM: I’ll switch the recorder off.
DF: Ok

Collection

Citation

Annie Moody, “Interview with David Fraser,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 13, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/5527.

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