Interview with Jack Hayley


Interview with Jack Hayley


Jack Hayley was born in Caterham and worked for an insurance company before he joined the Royal Air Force and trained to be a pilot. He trained to fly in Canada and after going through an Operational Training Unit in England, he was posted to 625 Squadron at RAF Kelstern. And after completing twelve operations he joined 170 Squadron where he completed a further nineteen operations. While waiting for operations he would play bridge with other members of his crew. After his tour he was posted to 83 Squadron and served with Transport Command in Germany, Australia and Aden. He was present during the testing for the Atom bomb and also flew supplies to Christmas Island in advance of the hydrogen bomb test.




Temporal Coverage




01:27:23 audio recording

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CB: My name is Chris Brockbank and today is the, Thursday the 25th of February 2016 and I’m sitting here with John Longstaff-Ellis talking to Cecil Alison Hayley.
CB: Otherwise known as Jack and his wife Barbara about Jack’s experiences in the war but can we just start in your earliest recollections Jack?
JCAH: Yes.
CB: Of family life and -
JCAH: Yes.
CB: And how you came to join the RAF.
JCAH: Yes. Yes. Well, I was born in Caterham as I say. My father had an ironmonger’s business in the Croydon Road, Caterham it’s, ‘cause there was lower Caterham and upper Caterham. We were in the lower, lower Caterham and I was I was born over the shop, over the ironmonger’s shop. So earliest recollections I was the youngest of three boys and I was five years younger than my eldest and three and a half years younger than my, the middle one. Harold was the eldest and Leslie was the middle one. I have very few recollections of life before primary school which was at Caterham Board School they called it. It’s on Croydon Road, Caterham which I suppose I started when I was, I don’t know, five I suppose and then, well while I was there I, my interest in those early days, well when I was old enough was Scouting. I started off as a Wolf Cub and went on to Scouting but can I just I stop there.
[machine paused]
JCAH: The thing is my secondary school, ok. So if we could start again. Are you ready to start again?
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: Ok. Right. I I went to my secondary school which was Purley County School which, when I started there was near Purley but they had, had to extend the school and make a completely new building and the new school was built at Chalden and I used to cycle from Caterham up, because it was up on the hill, I had to go through Caterham on the hill and I was interested in rugby, I used to play rugby. I wasn’t very interested in cricket but I did join the school cadet corps when I was at Purley County School and I learned to play the bugle there in the band. So that took me up to the age of eighteen when I left school which was 1938, no, seventeen, that’s right. 1938. And my first job was with a small insurance company in the city and our offices were in the Royal Exchange and I was on the mezzanine floor looking out of the window right across to the Bank and Bank Square, the Mansion House and the Bank of England. It was a beautiful position to be in. Anyway, I suppose I was there until, where are we, ‘39, probably 1940, the office, oh no it was before the war they, in 1938 they obviously decided they would move out of London and we moved to Aylesbury and the offices at Aylesbury and my wife happened to be the secretary to the district manager at at the branch there at Aylesbury and she managed to fix me up with accommodation in Stoke Mandeville, Moat Farm and I was well fed there during the war. It was a lovely place to be. Anyway, we, my wife and I, her parents were farming in Weston Turville and I used to enjoy going over to the farm and taking part in the farming activities and eventually, well we got engaged so now we’re coming up, I, of course, I was eighteen when war broke and, but it wasn’t, for some reason or other it wasn’t ‘til 1941 they started taking any interest in me and my service and I had interviews and I, at that time I hadn’t any great ambition to go flying because my family history was in, in the navy and I assumed perhaps I would go in to the navy. But then they were desperate to get young, young chaps to join as air crew so I was persuaded to join the air force and my first, I had to report to the Lord’s Cricket Ground at St John’s, St John’s Wood which was the, what they called the Number 1 Air Crew Receiving Centre which was abbreviated as ACRC and in typical RAF slang became marcy tarcy [laughs]. So, yes I was probably there for probably two or three weeks getting kitted out and being introduced to RAF life and from my first part of training was Initial Training Wing at Newquay in Cornwall and there I did our usual square bashing and getting training in aircraft recognition and Morse, all these sort of things before, so I was probably there four or five months I suppose in Newquay and then yes I heard that I was being, of course by this time of course I knew I’d been selected for air crew training but then we had to go through what they called a grading school which was at Cliffe Pypard near, near Lyneham. Up on the top of the hill. A little small airfield and I think we flew Magisters there and we had twelve hours in which to go solo and if we didn’t go solo, unless there was any other particular reason, you continue pilot training then we were selected for pilot training and of course the alternative was trained as a navigator. So Cliffe Pypard. Yes. Could I just stop a minute there?
[machine paused]
JCAH: So from there we were sent to Heaton Park in Manchester which was the Air Crew Disposal, Dispersal Centre and eventually we were allocated to a convoy going out from Glasgow to take us across, across the Atlantic to Canada. We actually landed in New York and took the train up to Monkton in New Brunswick where we were held pending being sent on to our first training station. So I was there about a couple of weeks and then we took a train journey from New Brunswick across to Calgary and I think we started on the Monday and we got there on the Friday [laughs]. The only main stop we had was at Winnipeg where I think we changed trains and the local ladies were very good to us and came along with all sorts of goodies and they treated us very well and from there we went on to Calgary. I think it was the Friday we arrived and of course the steam trains then were fired by, by wood. Wood fired steam trains, and we used to wake up every morning covered in wood soot. Not a very comfortable journey. Anyway, so having arrived at Calgary we were posted to the 31 Elementary Flying Training School at De Winton where we flew Stearmans mostly. Boeing Stearmans during the day but we also flew Tiger Moths. The American, the Canadian Tiger Moth which had the luxury of a canopy above us instead of being an open cockpit and we used, we used to fly those mainly to introduce us to instrument flying but the main training was on the Stearmans so that took us from September ’42 to, yes to the end of November ‘42 when we were, I was posted to Number 38 Flying Training School at Estevan in Saskatchewan in the middle of the prairies in the middle of the winter. It was pretty harsh but it’s surprising how we coped really and of course the accommodation was all centrally heated you know. Anyway, so we were flying the Anson there. The Canadian Anson with the Jacob engines and it had the luxury of hydraulic undercarriage instead of, you know the British Anson you wound up as well. I don’t know. About eighty winds. So that was, but it’s interesting as well of course a lot of the time we were landing on snow which was very, you had very little references to judge your height and it was a good, good training. And well we did all the normal things. Cross country training of course, instrument flying as well as all our ground training in navigation. Did a lot of Morse code training, aircraft recognition, those sort of things and eventually we completed, I completed my training in April ‘43 and qualified for my wings which I was very proud of and then we were returned to Monkton to the dispersal centre at Monkton for our return journey across the Atlantic and while we were there there was, I remember this, Jimmy Edwards had been training out there and he and a few others managed to get together and produce a show for us which was good fun. Anyway, so we, I was going to say on our outward cruise we had a bit of a panic because one of the ships was torpedoed and it wasn’t ‘til after we got back that there was a news item in the new New York papers of the torpedoing of this ship, it was a cargo ship who managed to struggle into New York so that was interesting. But of course I, whilst I was at Monkton I was commissioned before I came home and so the journey home was far more luxurious in the Ile de France. It was, had been converted into a troop ship so yes we were living in luxury. A little episode, if I could go back to the outward cruise. We were in an American convoy and the sister ship of the one we were in had been, gone down with fire so there were very strict no smoking rules on deck, no below deck. You could smoke above deck and I was caught smoking below deck and my punishment was to work in the kitchen which, this was the officer’s mess and it was nice to pick all up the titbits, the luxury titbits such as oysters, fried oysters. So it wasn’t a bad punishment. Anyway, returning, the home trip was as I say very comfortable and so we, let’s see, we, the first posting was to Harrogate which was another personnel receiving centre and then on to Bournemouth for some reason or other and then we started, we went to Little Rissington which is a suburb of, of the big flying training station. No. Yes. No. That’s right we went to Little Rissington and then we were posted to a satellite of Little Rissington at Windrush and there we were flying Oxfords to get acclimatised to a different type of flying in this country as compared with Canada with the wide open spaces and roads that went either north west or east west. North, east, south and east, west. It was quite different and then of course coping with the restricted areas and so on in this country and during that time I, we did some instrument flying training at the Beam, what they called the Beam Approach Training Flight at Docking where we, they had an approach system which was pretty primitive. Anyway, we were only there oh about ten days and then I finished my training at Madly in September ‘43 and was then posted to a radio school at Madly, west of Hereford on the River Wye and there we were flying radio cadets. I was flying the Domini, the RAF version of the Rapide and the other flight was flying Proctors and single aircraft, single engine aircraft. I must say the old Rapide was very reliable and quite nice to fly. The only snag was there was no seat as such. You were just sat on a cushion with your legs stretched out in front of you which after an hour or so could be pretty, you could get a bit stiff. Anyway, it was an interesting period and we could just choose where we flew just as long as getting practice of operating in the air there, the radio equipment and I got to know the area quite well. The Black Mountains and going north to Cheshire and out that way. So that was, that took me up to March 1944 and at that stage I was about to start my operational training but a little incident. I, my wife and I had arranged to get married in November ‘43. Let’s see, ’43 perhaps and but, that’s right, I was at Madley and a week before we were getting married I was told that I was going on a course and it was they called a junior commander’s course and this was up in Inverness and I thought if any course I was going to go on I thought it was going to be an operational course but to spend, to, prior to my wedding arrangements for the sake of a stupid administrative course was, there was no way I could talk them out of it. Consequently our honeymoon arrangements went by the board and so we got married on the Saturday, yes and that Saturday night we spent in a hotel off The Strand. I think it was the Surrey Hotel if I remember rightly and most of the night was spent in the basement because of the air raid [laughs]. So that was my honeymoon night and the following day I, we had to get, I had to get on a train all the way to Inverness which in those days was it was impossible to find a seat on the train so we just had to squat on our kit in the corridor. So all in all that was a bit of a disaster. So having done that I was then posted in March ‘44 to 83 Operational Training Unit at Peplow. That’s in, in the Midlands. And there I flew the Wellington and I was there for about three months. I forget how many hours we flew but one little incident. The Wellington is infamous for its brake pressure. You had to watch your brake pressure all the time and the dispersal areas there were pans, dispersal pans and the land just dropped away from around the dispersal pan and I suddenly discovered I was out of brake pressure and I had to lurch over the side and down the slope, which I got a red endorsement which was eventually cancelled but that was an unfortunate incident. It learned me a lesson. Taught me a lesson. So Peplow [unclear] Park. Air crew. Yes. So having completed training on a Wellington I then went on to the Heavy Conversion Unit at Sandtoft which was in the Hull area. That sort of area. And I suppose we did about thirty or forty hours on the, on the Halifax and then on to the Lancaster Finishing School at Hemswell and that was October ‘44. I was there only for just over two weeks and I had my first training, first appointment to a squadron which was 625 squadron at Kelstern and I was there for nearly two months when 170 squadron was reformed. It was previously a reconnaissance squadron beginning of the war and was disbanded and was reformed at, at Kelstern and I was, we were first of all at a little place called Dunholme Lodge. It was very much a wartime station and it was right alongside, on the, from Scampton on the opposite side of the Ermine Street, the main road to the north and I suppose it was only, I don’t know, might be four miles separating us from Scampton and consequently we had to have a common circuit around both airfields and this all got a bit fraught and I think they decided it was bit too dangerous and we were, I was posted then back to Hemswell and I, well finished my training, finished my tour on 170 squadron on the 15th of April ‘45. If we could just stop there. Yes. Just -
[machine paused]
CB: We’re talking about Lancaster and Halifax so -
JCAH: Yes.
CB: How, what, what were the differences between those then Jack?
JCAH: Well I mean -
CB: And which did you like?
JCAH: The Halifax was quite a heavy aircraft to fly and quite difficult to land successfully. It was quite hard work but the Lancaster was quite different. It was so easily controlled. The controls were more positive but not, not heavy and the manoeuvrability was so much better than the Halifax and the, I suppose as far as the air crew positons it was the same, similar. It simply, you had a Perspex canopy over you as pilot and of course no heating. You just relied on winter clothing to keep warm. So, no, the experience of training, going on to Lancasters was quite remarkable really. The sheer manoeuvrability and particularly when it come to using corkscrews to avoid fighters. Giving maximum deflection all the time. But no so as far as -
CB: What about rate of climb? Was there a difference in that?
JCAH: Yes. I think probably it was better. I think, I think with the four Merlins I can’t remember what the Halifax had in the way of engines.
CB: Well the early ones had Merlins and then they went to -
JCAH: Yeah.
CB: The Bristol Mercuries. .
JCAH: Yes. Hercules.
CB: The Hercules. Yes.
JCAH: Yeah. No. I think it had a climbing and of course I suppose the maximum ceiling was around about twenty thousand feet. We were normally operating, I suppose, about eighteen, eighteen thousand feet. That sort of height. So going back, going, talking about actual incidents during my ops I suppose I’ll just of give a summary of -
CB: What was your first raid?
JCAH: Sorry?
CB: What was your first raid?
JCAH: Yes. It was with another crew to introduce me to what was, what happened during a bombing raid and this was an operation on Le Havre in daylight. Yes. So 625 squadron I had, I did twelve sorties with 625 before going on to 170 squadron and I did nineteen sorties with 170 squadron. Making a total of thirty one sorties all together and total flying time during my operations was a hundred and eighty one hours. By that time I had just reached a thousand hours altogether when I finished my tour. But I suppose one particular incident comes to mind when we were over Dusseldorf and we were coned by searchlights and of course you’re a sitting duck then to all the ackack anti-aircraft fire in the area and I simply stuck the nose down and called to the engineer for full power and I shall never forgive him saying, ‘What?’ when I was wanting immediate power [laughs] and you see he was questioning what I was saying. I said, ‘Full power,’ and so we just stuck the nose and just got out of the area as quick as possible. But on return we’d no, had no injuries in the crew but the aircraft was pretty well peppered and on landing I realised that my starboard tyre had burst and that was obviously lurching down. I kept it as straight as I could for as long as I could and then I just veered off on to the grass to clear the runway for the other aircraft coming in but looking at it the next morning was, it was out of commission. That, my aircraft was TCD. Our squadron letter was TC and I, I was D-Dog. I don’t think we had a P. TCP [laughs] Anyway, I suppose in about three or four days it was back in working order and I successfully finished my tour. So -
CB: Just -
JCAH: Yes.
CB: Go back on a couple of things.
JCAH: Yes. Ok.
CB: The crews. So you crewed up.
JCAH: Oh yes.
CB: At OTU. How did that work?
JCAH: Sorry?
CB: You crewed up at OTU.
JCAH: That’s right.
CB: How did that work?
JCAH: They were just, well we had, no we didn’t have an engineer I don’t think.
CB: No.
JCAH: No. No. Just pilot, navigator, signaller and I think we had one gunner. That’s right. But then going on to the heavy aircraft we were, we were seven. Pilot, flight engineer, navigator, radio operator, bomb aimer and two gunners. Mid-up and two guns. Seven. No. It’s amazing how crew selection, we were just left to mix with each other and somehow we gelled and and I I was very successful, very lucky with my crew I think. My navigator in particular. He was, he was excellent. There was one occasion when we had no aids at all from the target, I forget which target it was and we were completely on dead reckoning radar based on past information on winds and so on but he got us home safely and we managed to recognise landfall on the English coast and got in safely but no, I was, and I was glad that I was eventually awarded the DFC and he was awarded the DFC as well. That pleased me no end because he was a great cont, made a good contribution to the operation of the crew. So you just -
CB: So you got, got a crew. Sorry.
JCAH: Sorry? Yes?
CB: Yes, just, you got a crew at OTU. Normally there was six on the Wellington.
JCAH: We didn’t have a -
CB: Yeah. But some flew with four.
JCAH: Yeah.
CB: Was there a shortage of gunners and bomb aimers?
JCAH: I’m just trying to think whether we had two gunners at that stage. That I can’t quite remember. We certainly didn’t have a second pilot but then again -
CB: They were probably -
JCAH: I suppose, did we? I think we must have had a bomb aimer because we had to practice bombing.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: Yes. We must have had a bomb aimer so that was at, on the Wellington.
CB: So when you were at, when the crew selection took place who was, were they gelling on you or how -
JCAH: It’s difficult -
CB: Or had some of them already got together? What happened?
JCAH: We got chatting to one another. I mean they had no means of knowing what my performance as a pilot was like and it was all a question of trust. But as I say it worked out very well. Yeah.
CB: So when you got to the HCU you then got the, a flight engineer.
JCAH: Yes. Flight engineer.
CB: And was he allocated to you or how did that happen?
JCAH: No. I think much the same thing happened. Of course we had a crew then to decide amongst us who we liked really, or who appealed to us.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: So that made it easier so, so -
CB: How many of the crew were commissioned other than you?
JCAH: My navigator was commissioned and strangely enough my mid-upper gunner which was unusual for a gunner, to have a commissioned gunner. And the rest of them were non-commissioned.
CB: And how did the crew get on in the, in flight and -
JCAH: Yes. I think -
CB: In the evening.
JCAH: You had to avoid being too familiar on the operations and you had to be strict on your intercom identifying each other as a pilot and not by name, that sort of thing so there was no misunderstanding. But yes my, yes my radio operator, he was Australian. A young Australian but he gelled very well. In fact we had a Bridge crew on board, the radio operator, the navigator my, the mid-upper, all four of us played bridge and we always had a pack of cards with us when we were sitting around waiting for something to happen which was good fun. So -
CB: Socially? So in the time off did the crew do things together or did there -
JCAH: Oh yes.
CB: Tend to be factions?
JCAH: No. Not at all. Of course we were in separate messes obviously but we were, certainly at Dunholme Lodge, we were billeted as a crew in old nissen huts with a coke boiler in the middle and the fumes that used to come off that boiler were quite, well sulphurous put it that way and not very, but anyway, we survived that but of course our messes, we used separate messes but we used to, in the evenings we used to obviously go out to the pub together and relax.
CB: So you were married. Were any of the others married?
JCAH: My engineer I think was married. My navigator wasn’t then I don’t think. No. No. I think my engineer and I were was the only ones who were married.
CB: Where was your wife during the war?
JCAH: She was in Aylesbury and -
CB: With her parents.
JCAH: Yes. On the farm at Weston Turville. Of course you had to be careful in those days just what you said on the telephone. You couldn’t really say anything about your operational activities at all but no we kept in touch and obviously an anxious time for her. But -
CB: How did you manage to get time together?
JCAH: During the tour I think we only had one occasion when we were, had a period of two or three days leave when we could get together. But I do remember when we were on OTU my wife managed to come and join us. She stayed at a local hotel and she managed to meet my basic crew at that time but that was the only time really we got together. Yeah.
CB: You didn’t manage to get loan of a small plane to fly in to Halton.
JCAH: [laughs]. No. No.
CB: Or Westcott.
JCAH: Yes because my father in law’s farm actually bordered on to the airfield at Halton at Weston Turville and just before the war an auto Gyro crashed.
CB: Right.
JCAH: On the airfield and in their hall they had the joystick from the remains of the auto Gyro I remember. Anyway that’s all a bit irrelevant.
CB: So you finished your tour.
JCAH: Yes.
CB: So that was when?
JCAH: It was February 1944.
CB: Yes. ‘45. ’44.
JCAH: ’45.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: I beg your pardon ‘45 and then there was an extraordinary posting was on to 1687 bomber defence training flights flying Spitfires and Hurricanes if you please. Coming off Lancasters this was quite, quite a different experience but we used to do, practice fighter affiliation.
CB: Yes.
JCAH: On the squadron bombers.
CB: Where was that?
JCAH: That was back at Hemswell strangely enough. Actually yes actually they were at Scampton when I first joined them and then they went back to Hemswell and as I say we used to fly Spitfires during the day and the Hurricanes at night.
CB: Oh did you? What were they like?
JCAH: Well they were, I mean they didn’t compare with the Spitfires. The handling and manoeuvrability. It was a steady, steady old aircraft but the Spitfire was great fun to fly. So manoeuvrable. Mind you there were times when I really didn’t know what I was up to. In fact it was in 19, where are we? ’47. We had the first open day after the war. Hemswell open day and part of the programme was the three of us were doing a tail chase and supposedly bombing a target in the middle of the airfield and the cloud base was only around about a thousand feet and we, all three of us winged over and I suddenly realised I really hadn’t got enough height to pull out of this dive and this hangar was coming out on my right and I was literally [stalling all around this dive?] and I honestly thought that this was it. Anyway, when I taxied in after this flight I had about twenty yards of telegraph wire on my tail wheel which shows you how close I was to the ground.
CB: It thrilled the audience.
JCAH: Oh yes. You know. Highly delighted.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: But I never heard the result of the loss of telephone communications in the area [laughs].
CB: Yes.
JCAH: I never did hear.
CB: What was the significance of having the fighter, the Spitfire for day affiliation and the Hurricane for night?
JCAH: Well really the Spitfire with the narrow undercarriage it was quite tricky to land particularly in a crosswind. It was very, you were sort of teetering all the time whereas the Hurricane the undercarriage went outwards, that’s right and so you had a wider wheel base and they were more stable in the landing process. Apart from that, I think that was the main reason why we used to fly Hurricanes at night. But there were times. The Lancaster used to have little blue lights on the tail side of the wing tips and there were times when I thought I was chasing these two blue lights only to find I was chasing a star. Got into all sort of peculiar situations. So I wasn’t a great night fighter pilot. [laughs]
CB: How long were you there?
JCAH: Let me see. Hurricanes. ’45. Well, I have it in here. Yes. [pause] Yes I was there about eighteen months. Yeah. Yes.
CB: End of ’46.
JCAH: Yes. October ‘46 I finished my tour there.
CB: Then what?
JCAH: Well it disbanded. The unit disbanded and I I was put on to headquarters duties I think. I was, when the chaps were demobbed they had what they called a release book which gave a little history and I had to make a little summary of the person’s history but really not knowing much about them at all but I used to make up some complimentary remarks but that was the main thing I was doing there.
CB: Where was that?
JCAH: Sorry?
CB: Where?
JCAH: Still at Hemswell.
CB: Right.
JCAH: As I say Hemswell took up a very big part in my RAF career at that time because then Lincolns were brought into Hemswell and I joined 83 squadron on Lincolns. The intention was they were being trained for operations in the Far East against Japan.
CB: Right.
JCAH: And of course that didn’t come off and so I finished on 83 squadron in March 1949 and it was then that I was posted to Defford. What they called the Telecommunications Flying Unit doing, flying the equipment from the Radar Research Establishment, airborne experience and that really was quite a remarkable unit because they were using aircraft which weren’t required for their original duties. Consequently while I was on the heavy flight, what did I here? So I was flying Lincolns, Yorks, a Tudor 7 and a Wayfarer. This was on the, we had a heavy flight and a light flight, you know, flight and when we had a slack period in heavy flight I used to go across to fly some of the lighter aircraft which included Meteor, Meteor 7, Mosquito, Vampire, Firefly, Canberra, Brigand and we had had some communication aircraft. Valetta and the, the Devon, the service version of the De Havilland Dove which we used for communication flying but I mean on one month I had nine different aircraft on my logbook.
CB: Amazing.
JCAH: But that -
CB: So you enjoyed that.
JCAH: Pardon?
CB: You enjoyed that.
JCAH: Well, it was, it was good fun and it was amazing you used to go across to the light flight and you’d get the handbook out and just chat with the chaps because I mean, well a Mosquito did have two pilots but I mean, the others, the Meteor and the Canberra and the Vampire had all single seat and you couldn’t get any dual training and you just had a chat with the chaps who were flying and read the pilots notes and off you went.
CB: So was the Meteor the first jet that you flew?
JCAH: It was either the Meteor or the Vampire. It looks as though, yes.
CB: And did -
JCAH: Yeah.
CB: And did you go in a training version of that for your first flight in jet?
JCAH: No. I think probably not formal training but went along with one of the other chaps who was flying it regularly. Yes that was quite an experience.
CB: Because the Meteor 7 is a T7 isn’t it?
JCAH: Sorry?
CB: The Meteor 7 is a trainer. T7.
JCAH: Oh right.
CB: And –
JCAH: Yes. And, yes, and the Meteor 4 if I can remember. Yes.
CB: Was a single seater.
JCAH: Yes. So that’s the way we went on.
CB: So when did you finish that?
JCAH: Where are we? Yes in May 1952.
CB: What was your wife’s name?
JCAH: Noreen.
CB: Noreen.
JCAH: Noreen.
CB: How is that spelled? N O R E E N.
JCAH: N. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. And did she come up to stay with you then at that time? Were there quarters?
JCAH: Yes. Now we’re talking about 1947 and it was only then that we were allowed to make arrangements to live out locally. We were with our wives and families, if you had them and I found a little cottage. It was, well it was attached to a bigger, still a cottage but we were just one up and one down and this was in Kirton Lindsey which was just north of Hemswell and it was about, yes, about seven miles. I used to cycle from there to Hemswell but the extraordinary thing with this little cottage was that the downstairs floor was wooden and the bedroom was a concrete floor. It was quite extraordinary and of course we had a little scullery, a little small scullery which we used as a pantry and an old coal range which we used to cook on. So it was all rather primitive but we were so pleased to be living together and, yes it wasn’t ‘til, yes, that was Hemswell. It wasn’t until I got to Defford that we had official married quarters but being a wartime station there were just single bed accommodation and I think where we were used to be the WAAF area when WAAFs were there and as I say they were just single brick quarters but we had, I think we had two bedrooms and a kitchen and bathroom so it was comparative luxury from our original -
CB: But that was an air force -
JCAH: Sorry?
CB: That was an air force building.
JCAH: Yes. Actually at Defford the, it was a Ministry of Supply station and it was just the aircrew who were the service, RAF element. So the interesting thing was as my, as I say my grandson is in a practice in Malvern.
CB: Malvern.
JCAH: Malvern. Yes. And living in Worcester and we, it was about a couple of years ago we paid a visit to them and I said I would like to go back to the Defford area and see what’s left because the flying discontinued there. They went to, moved to Pershore but there was still they had these big aerial discs on the airfield but I discovered they’d got a little museum there because Defford during the war was a very important station developing all the radar stuff and they’ve got a little exhibition there and my grandson introduced me as being, being there just after the war and they were very interested in this and they were talking about this road, Swimming Pool Road and of course the airfield was built on the Croome Estate, the Earl of Coventry’s estate and the entrance to our mess area was one of the big arches from the estate and the road leading from the arch up to where our mess was was known as Swimming Pool Road and they couldn’t understand this. Anyway, I was able to tell them we had a fire reservoir outside the mess which we took advantage of and used it as a swimming pool and we knew it as well that’s how it got its name but I was able to tell them the origin of the name which is quite interesting. So we’ve diverted a bit.
CB: We have. But after Defford, so May ‘52 where did you go from that?
JCAH: Yes. I went, for my sins I was posted to Germany as a station adjutant at RAF Celle. This was in August ‘52 and it was a big station. We had three flying squadrons with Venoms. They had Vampires and then Venoms and three RAF regiment squadrons and various other [unclear] so it was a big station and a lot of activity of course. Not being au fait with administration it was very daunting to say the least and not only that, one of the subsidiary jobs was married, married quarters, I was responsible for married quarters and the problem of allocating quarters to people who were desperate, you know, to come back from England and get quarters and that caused all sorts of problems but fortunately I hadn’t been there long when they posted a WAAF officer who took over that. That part. But what else? Oh yes I was responsible for the station police and there were some police dogs there and that was all part of my responsibility. So really it was two and a half years but I made some very good friends there at the time. Particularly amongst the RAF regiment squadrons and two particular families I stayed with them until they died. All four of them died now. But as I say, we had, it’s surprising when you’re away from home, posted away from home you make your entertainment in the mess and we had a lot of fun with fancy dress balls and all that sort of thing and there were compensations.
CB: Now this was a former Luftwaffe station.
JCAH: Yes.
CB: So the facilities were pre-war Luftwaffe.
JCAH: Yes. The accommodation -
CB: What was that like?
JCAH: Was very good. Yes. The mess. The mess accommodation was excellent and we had, you know, properly built married quarters. Yeah. That side of it was, was excellent you know. And of course I, I’ve got a, I haven’t mentioned my, the birth of my granddaughter, sorry, my daughter Anthea. Yes we were at -
CB: When was that?
JCAH: Yes, we were at Defford when she arrived. She was originally supposed to be born at a nursing home at Upton on Severn but she was an awful mess. She was upside down and extended and they decided they couldn’t cope with her at the nursing home and I had to take her into Birmingham. This was mid-winter and we’d had a lot of snow and it had thawed and then frozen and I had as my first car was an old standard 10, pre-war standard 10 where the suspension was almost nil. My poor wife driving over this corrugated ice all the way to Birmingham was quite extraordinary. Anyway, she arrived safely on the 5th of June, sorry the 5th of January 1951 and of course I had to wait, when I went out to Germany I had to wait probably three or four months before married accommodation was available but anyway she was, I suppose she was about two. Yeah, ‘53 and we, in those days in Germany you were, you were provided with a housekeeper so, and Renata, our housekeeper she also acted as a nurse to Anthea and they got on, she loved my daughter and it meant that we could go away and leave her with her and go on trips down the Rhine and this sort of thing. So -
CB: So when did you leave Celle?
JCAH: Celle? Yes. It was, my records run out. It was in about March ‘55. Yes I had just about two and a half years out in Germany and I was then posted to Transport Command and –
CB: Where was that?
JCAH: I did a conversion training on Hastings at Dishforth and then I joined 24 squadron at Abingdon on Hastings. I suppose at the end of ‘55. Yeah. The conversion training was only about forty or fifty hours and that was the beginning of another interesting period in my flying career because as I say I was on 24 and we used to say in brackets C Commonwealth squadron because it, they posted quite a few Commonwealth people on 24 squadron and our squadron leader, he was a squadron commander was an Australian and there were various other people from the Commonwealth but most of my experience on Hastings was flying out to Australia to send, fly supplies and personnel to the Woomera guided weapons range and also to the, oh dear, [unclear] they, they were just preparing for the atom bomb going up there.
CB: Christmas Island.
JCAH: Well no. That was the H bomb. This was the first atom bomb. Actually I think they had blown up one. Well this was a big preparation and of course we spent a lot of time, flights, we used to bring supplies and personnel to, we used to fly out of Edinburgh Field, the RAF base near Adelaide and it so happened I did have some relations living in Adelaide so it was quite convenient to be able to look them up but I, we were actually there. Maralinga, that’s right, was the, where the bomb went off and I was actually there when they exploded the atom bomb. That was quite an experience and everybody, every individual had to be accounted for before they set off the bomb and we were told obviously to face away and we were told when we could turn back and see and well it was pretty hefty sound when the bomb went off but the interesting thing was all the, they sent up rockets which left tracers going in different directions to indicate the direction of what was happening to the air following the bomb and the next day, I think it was the next day or might have been the day I was, I had to fly some samples from Maralinga up to Edinburgh. What am I saying? To Darwin. A civil flight to take them back to the UK and I was told how low I could fly. I could fly over the area but it was just like the face of the moon. All arid and, but to see these white clad figures walking across there was quite remarkable and of course the radio just went berserk to some extent and I had a strange feeling of saliva drying up in my mouth. It was quite definite and whether it was the effect of the radio activity, I suppose it must have been. Anyway, that was that and then of course then the H bomb came along and we were supplying, flying supplies out to that out to Christmas Island. Yes. That, let me think. Yes I’ve got to try and recap.
CB: We’ll have a break.
JCAH: Yeah.
[machine paused]
JCAH: Early ‘57 when we were flying out to Christmas Island.
CB: Right.
JCAH: To prepare for the –
CB: You were still on Hastings then.
JCAH: Yeah.
CB: Yes.
JCAH: But we used to, while we were on Christmas Island we used to take flights up to Honolulu to fly supplies for the station there. It was mostly boxes of whisky [laughs] but all sorts of things we used to go up to Honolulu to keep the Christmas Island supplied which was quite a nice diversion. So, yes, by then, we started off, 24 squadron started off at Colerne and then they moved, sorry at Abingdon and then we moved to Colerne near Bath and eventually we finished up at Lyneham and by, and then of course the Britannia came along so I joined 99 squadron at Lyneham in August 1959 and started training on the Britannia. So that was 1959. Lots of interesting flights. I know we took the Cranwell cadets out to, I’ll have to see if I can find it, the equivalent, the American air force equivalent of Victors. I wish I could find it now. Anyway, that was quite interesting and we were well looked after by the American air force in, it’s on the east side of the mountains in America. And my mind is beginning to go blank.
CB: Ok.
JCAH: So well that’s all sorts of interesting flights on the Britannia.
CB: So how long were you flying the Britannia?
JCAH: Yes. Let’s have a look. [pause]. 1960 [pause] ‘61. Yes, I finished flying the Britannia in February 1962 and they wanted to make way for the young second pilots coming on to become captains so they decided the older ones would stand down and I then went to Benson on the, at the, in the operations room at Benson which would be ‘62. I’m running out of – and I was there ‘62 to ’64 and I was told I was going to Aden on a year’s unaccompanied tour and, well, I was expecting to retire within the next year or eighteen months and I said, ‘No but I’m retiring shortly.’ And I obviously wanted to do a bit of preparation before leaving the service but no they wouldn’t be moved so I had to spend a year on my own in Aden and that was at the time just before we pulled out and it was getting pretty uncomfortable out there. The bombs being dropped all over the place. In fact we had one occasion where we were in, I was at headquarters Middle East at Steamer Point and on one occasion where a bomb went off in the mess and the chap who was laying it made a mess of it and blew himself up and fortunately nobody else. It was intended to go off later on in the day. And another occasion we were entertaining, it was dining in night and this, I was sitting with some nurses, RAF nurses and this grenade landed on this, this girl’s soup plate and it didn’t go off. Oh dear. And so, but that’s the sort of life we lived out there. It was pretty uncomfortable that year. I did manage to get home, I think for a week, at one period. So that was ‘65 and then my final tour in the RAF I was at Odiham in the ops room there which was then headquarters of 38 Group which was a part of Transport Command. And I always remember watching England win the World Cup on television there while I was there and then I finally retired in 1967.
CB: From Odiham.
JCAH: From Odiham. Yes.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: And, yes, I was just wondering, I mean, I was looking around for some civil appointment and I got to hear about the CAA wanting ex RAF people as operations officers and I managed to pass an interview for that. So, well, that was ‘67 and I started off with the accident and investigation branch, in the Adelphi I remember, in London and then I was, I used to go to court cases where there were people being summoned for low flying and all this sort of thing and I used to be the operational advisor to the legal people but that was only for a short time and then I went in to the licensing department. Of course it was, let me think, yes it was air ministry I think still when I was there. Then it became the Department of Trade and Industry, no, no, became Board of Trade and then finally Department of Trade and Industry. This was the time when Heath was trying to cut down on civil service and he decided that he wanted to offload the air ministry side to another separate authority and that’s when the CAA was formed. So, yes, I was, yes it was quite interesting [flight?] licencing and I eventually chaired ICAO. You know, the International Civil Aviation Organisation was in Montreal and I was put on to a group in, at Montreal to update the licensing aspects of what they called Annexe One of the international convention and this was the, what did they call it? Anyway the licencing aircrew, licensing requirements for the various licenses. There was the commercial pilot’s licence, the air and transport licence and eventually I did chair this committee and we finally produced amendments which I never saw implemented but I gather later that they were, I heard that they were implemented. What was the other thing?
CB: So when did you retire from the, from that?
JCAH: 1984.
CB: 1984.
JCAH: ’84.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: Yes. Yes, it was. I used to get quite a few chaps from the service that I knew who were coming along and I had one chap in particular he, there was the Air Registration Board Examination to qualify to fly a particular aircraft and they had this qualifying exam and he was trying to give me past papers but they just didn’t publish them and he was one of these chaps, you know, he was trying to be clever to try the easy way out. Anyway, that was a minor incident. So I retired on my, virtually on my birthday April ‘84 and I’d been retired about four weeks and my wife died.
CB: Ah.
JCAH: Yes and obviously we’d made all sorts of plans.
CB: Oh dear.
JCAH: And of course I haven’t mentioned how I came to Wokingham. How, to live in Wokingham. It was when I’d finished my tour in Germany we decided we would put our, try and to put some roots down somewhere because my daughter was coming up for schooling and I was going in to Transport Command and be away a lot. Anyway, we went up to the Ideal Home Exhibition and saw these houses and liked the look of them and were told they were being built in Wokingham. I’d never heard of Wokingham. Anyway, we came down and had a look where they were building and the town and we liked it and so that was in 1955. December ‘55 we actually moved in. Where are we? Yes, that’s right, come back, 1955 we actually moved in and I’ve been here ever since in Wokingham but, so having, my wife having died we were living in rented accommodation at the time because we were intending to move to -
BH: I thought you’d look at me. No. I can’t remember.
JCAH: It’s silly. I know the place so well. The name is not, just not coming. I’ll think of it.
CB: Right. Around here was it?
JCAH: Sorry?
CB: Was it around here?
JCAH: No. Up in the Midlands.
CB: Ok.
JCAH: Near Leicester.
CB: Ah.
JCAH: I know the place.
CB: But not in Rutland.
JCAH: Yes. In Rutland and the capital of Rutland was.
CB: Oakham.
JCAH: Oakham. Thank you very much and we’d actually put a deposit down for a house in Oakham. I wasn’t all that keen on it but my wife had become disenchanted with Wokingham and we’d had friends at Cottesmore who we used to visit regularly and of course Rutland Water had been developed then. It was all very nice in that area but in, of course my wife then died while we were still negotiating. The people we were buying from hadn’t got a house and they were trying to find a house. It suited me because I hadn’t actually retired when we, but anyway my wife having died I wasn’t going to move up there on my own and I sold the house and during that period when the prices were really escalating and it did me a good turn financially by this period while we were waiting. Anyway, I was, so I was then looking around for somewhere to live and I came down here and I didn’t know this existed and I thought well this is a nice place. It would be nice here. And I walked down the bottom of the road here and a retired clergyman who used to help us at All Saints Church, he saw me and I told him, you know, I was looking for a house and how nice it was. He invited me in. I walked back up to Wokingham and I met a lady who was my next door but one neighbour in my first house in [Frogall?] Road and she asked me how I was getting on. I said I was getting on alright but I was just looking for a house and I’d just been down to Milton Gardens and how nice it was. She said, Well I’ve just had lunch with a lady and she told me, and who lived in Milton Gardens and told me she was putting her house on the market the following Monday so I immediately got in touch with her and we settled it without agents or anything and that’s how I came to number eleven over there. So that was, where are we in dates?
BH: It was about ‘90 wasn’t it?
JCAH: Yes.
CB: Well, you retired in ‘84.
BH: I was still working –
JCAH: Well -
BH: I was still working when you -
JCAH: Yes, it was the end of ‘84 that I actually moved in.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: So I knew Barbara before through the church and she used to play tennis with my wife so we knew each other but I know we were neighbours for seven years and I used to be in the kitchen over there getting ready to go out and play golf and I used to see Barbara going, and poor girl going out to work and here I am going off to play golf. Anyway, it was, it took seven years before we, well we did one or two things together didn’t we? And went to concerts together and one thing and, well I used to have Christmas parties, I was chairman of the Residents Association and I used to have a Christmas party and Barbara always used to come over and help me clear up afterwards. It gave me a good impression anyway. So in the end -
CB: Got all the ticks.
BH: You waited until I retired -
JCAH: That’s right.
BH: Before he proposed.
JCAH: And I said, ‘This is stupid, why don’t we get together?’ And I came over here.
CB: Very good. Smashing.
JCAH: So there we are.
CB: That’s been great.
JCAH: The end of a fairy tale.
CB: Well the whole thing -
JCAH: The fairy tale ending.
CB: Worked very well didn’t it?
JCAH: Yeah.
CB: Thank you very much for that. There’s just one thing and that is fast backwards to your promotions. So you started as an SAC because you were well educated.
JCAH: Yes and I was commissioned.
CB: And then how did it go from there?
JCAH: I was commission at the end of my training when I got my wings.
CB: Yes.
JCAH: I was at Monkton. I, I, yes. I was because I remember going and buying my uniform.
CB: Yeah.
JCAH: In Monkton. In the town. And then of course while I was at Defford the first station commander there I didn’t get along at all. I had a dispute about the married quarters and somebody else wanting the same one. Anyway, I wasn’t very popular there and he didn’t recommend me for a PC. And then the next chap came along and I got on very well with him and he recommended me for my permanent commission and I’d taken promotion exam and I’d taken the Staff College Qualifying Exam and did all I could and, well this would be 1951 and they decided that they’d put an age limit of thirty on appointments to permanent commission and I’d just gone over, over the thirty so that was the end of that but I was quite keen to stay on in the air force and I settled for this limited promotion one. Commission.
CB: So you were already a flight lieutenant.
JCAH: Yes. Oh yes. Yes. I finished up the war as a flight lieutenant.
CB: Yes.
JCAH: And that was confirmed. I was an acting flight lieutenant at the time.
CB: Yeah because you were acting VR.
JCAH: Yes and I was eventually confirmed and I stayed as a, as a old flight lieutenant but as I say I enjoyed my RAF career and a lot of interest.
CB: Well Jack Haley thank you very much indeed.



Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Jack Hayley,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 3, 2023,

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