Interview with Tony Adams


Interview with Tony Adams


Tony Adams grew up in Australia and was studying accountancy when he was conscripted into the army at the age of 18. He later transferred to the Air Force. He trained as a wireless operator and was sent overseas to the UK in June 1943. After training he flew 36 operations in Stirlings and Lancasters with 149 Squadron stationed at RAF Methwold. After the war, he completed his accountancy training before retiring as Company Secretary for Brambles in 1984.




Temporal Coverage




00:56:07 audio recording

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DG: OK we're all set to go, I'll just have to, this interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre, my name is Donald Gould and I'm interviewing Tony Adams at his place in Lingfield, a suburb of Sydney. The interview is taking place on Thursday 16th June 2016. Can you tell me your name please Tony?
AA: My name is Anthony Adams, I'm known as Tony Adams.
DG: And how old are you Tony?
AA: I'm ninety two.
DG: What, where were you born?
AA: I was born in Roseville one of the northside suburbs of Sydney.
DG: And what did your parents do?
AA: My father was an engineer and my mother was home duties mainly except during the Depression, she had to earn extra money and she did what they called Batik work, B,A,T,I,K it was dyeing clothes and so on.
DG: A bit unusual in those, in those days batik?
AA: Um.
DG: Yeah, and where did you go to school?
AA: At Roseville public school, and then after that I went to Sydney Grammar.
DG: And what, what, how old were you when you left school?
AA: I left school a few weeks after World War II began I was fifteen years of age.
DG: And what did you do, after, after when you finished school, what did you do after that?
AA: I studied accountancy, I went full time to a, a college, an accountancy college for one year and then I got a job as a junior clerk in a, in a company in the wholesale chemist area and I was there 'til I turned eighteen and then I went into the army, before, before the air force.
DG: OK so you were, you were, in Sydney when the War broke out?
AA: Yes.
DG: And why did you, why did you, what prompted you to join the air force?
AA: Well really two reasons, I'd heard all the stories of the first, first War and the terrible conditions and how soldiers, Australia diggers, had died and I was a very squeamish boy and I thought if I'm going to die I'm going to die quickly.
DG: [Laughs].
AA: But I really didn't think I was going to die you didn't put your name down for that reason, a lot of my friends where I lived were going into the air force and sounded more exciting than being in the army or the navy, [chuckles].
DG: And where, where did you enlist?
AA: Er, right here in Sydney at Willoughby actually.
DG: And what, what training did you, did they give you? What did they select you to do?
AA: Are we talking about the army or the navy?
DG: Oh no, that would be the air force.
AA: Oh well, after six months in the army I got my transfer to the R, double A, F and after initial training, rookie training, I was selected to be, to wireless training, radio training and I spent six months at Parkes in New South Wales doing that and having completed that course I then was sent to Port Pirie in South Australia for six weeks doing flying training there, air gunnery flying training and at that stage I got my wing so I was ready to, I graduated.
DG: You mentioned, you mentioned the army, how did you, how did you come to be in the army first?
AA: Well it was conscription in those days in Australia.
DG: Ah right.
AA: And you had to, you had to, as soon as you turned eighteen, you had to go into the service, aircrew R, double A, F aircrew you were all volunteers, but anyway it was I was called up into the Army within a few weeks of turning eighteen.
DG: And you asked to go to the air force and you did?
AA: I, I previously put my name down for the air force and, but there was a waiting list in a way and the Army grabbed me before the air force did.
DG: And what, you'd completed that training and when did you go overseas?
AA: Um, June 1943, 15th of June actually, I'm pretty good on dates [laughs] and that was by ship, an American troop ship across the Pacific to San Francisco, I was a sergeant then and then they transferred us onto a train at San Francisco, a troop train and a very, a very palatial troop train too 'cause we had a porter on each carriage who made up our beds.
DG: Oh boy.
AA: And shone our shoes even though we hardly got out of the train [chuckles] but anyway we went right across the other side of the US to a huge US army camp which was really for embarkation of American troops.
DG: Where was that?
AA: And it was.
DG: Can you remember where it?
AA: It was called Taunton, Massachusetts, nearest, near Providence and not far from Boston.
DG: Right. And then were you, you were only there a short time before you?
AA: About three or four weeks I think, yes.
DG: Right. And then, and then you embarked to Britain?
AA: Yes on the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth were going backwards and forwards to Scotland to the Clyde mainly with American troops building up prior to D-Day it was the year before though but the ship I went on, the voyage I went on as it happens I found out was the one when they carried the most number of troops onboard, there was about nearly fifteen thousand troops and a thousand crew.
DG: Oh crikey. And so you'd have been in Britain around by June, July, August or something in '43?
AA: 1st of August.
DG: 1st of August?
AA: Bank holiday. [Laughter].
DG: Right and when you got to Britain what did, where did they, where did they send you for further training?
AA: [Unclear] We were in a contingent of three hundred Australia and New Zealand airmen, we picked up the New Zealand airmen over Auckland on the way over across the Pacific and we landed in Scotland in the Clyde, and by train down to Brighton Sussex, south of England and the Australian and New Zealand air force had taken over the two big hotels in Brighton, the Grand and the Metropole, and we, they'd ripped the luxury hotels to bits and crammed us in there.
DG: And how long, how long were you there?
AA: Um, I think only perhaps six weeks, four or six weeks or something.
DG: Right, and what, what happened to you after that?
AA: I and about nineteen others Australians, who had to be, were going to be wireless operators in Bomber Command, were sent to do a further course flying on Avro Anson's at a place called West Freugh, F,R,E,U,G,H near Stranraer Scotland on the west coast and we'd do further training there, 'cause when we arrived there in England they said 'oh the radios that you used in Australia, trained on in Australia, no we use the Marconi sets here you've got to have further training'.
DG: Oh right.
AA: So we used to fly out from there over Northern Ireland and down to, down to Wales, England and I think we were there for perhaps two, perhaps two to three months.
DG: And then what happened to you after?
AA: Well then.
DG: You did that further training?
AA: We passed all the tests there and we were then sent, or some of us, we were spread out
to different places to what they called an operational training unit, OTU, and the one I was sent to and I think only one other of that course of twenty went to the same OTU which was in Bedfordshire.
DG: Which one of that? What number was that?
AA: It was called Wing, the village of Wing but nothing to do with air force.
DG: Right yeah.
AA: And we flew from the satellites round there called Little Horwood, H,O, R W, double O, D. And it was interesting that Little Horwood was about a twenty minute bike ride from Bletchley or Bletchley Park.
DG: Oh golly.
AA: And I knew a girl who worked at Bletchley Park I met her there and she was my girlfriend for the duration of the war while I was there.
DG: Did you know anything about Bletchley Park and what was going on over there?
AA: We had no idea what went on we knew there was a lot of, we saw in the local pob, pub, The Park Hotel at Bletchley, we'd see all these officers navy officers, air force and army officers but in those days you really didn't make any enquiries.
DG: Were you aware that it was something pretty Top Secret or was it just another, another?
AA: Yes, we believed it was Secret.
DG: Yes, yes. And then when did you go to a squadron after that?
AA: At that stage, that is where you formed up in your crew.
DG: Right.
AA: And through a process within a day you arrived there, the I think it was the CO came and gathered us all together and said, and there were about twenty pilots, twenty wireless operators, twenty navigators, twenty gunners, 'right oh you fellas you've got about three or four days to form yourselves up into a crew' and I did see a fella that I, I didn't know him except of course there were Canadians, New Zealanders, English men, Australians, I didn't know anybody except the fella that I went with and I looked and then after a day I saw a fella called John Faile[?] who was a year or two years ahead of me at Sydney Grammar. And I went, and he was a pilot, and I went up to him, 'Johnny do you remember me?' and he said 'oh yes Sydney Grammar?' and he said 'yeah you were the opening bowler in the third eleven weren't you?' [laughter] and he was the star from the first eleven but I said ' have you got a wireless op?' and he said 'look', he said, 'I was only just been yesterday talking to an English fellow and he, ah I've asked him to be my wireless op and he was somebody else [unclear] so I asked him, he said he'd come back to me later on today, I think so' he said 'I'd love to have you but I' said 'I'm but I'm perhaps committed to have this chap'. And anyway he did come back to me later and said McKay[?] the other fella is going to come with me, the English chap, luckily I didn't, it was luck there because a few weeks after D-Day that crew was shot down and all killed.
DG: Oh.
AA: Over France. But nobody else would ask me it was mainly the pilots were going round asking people and I was a bit of a wallflower [DG laughs] one Australian pilot did say, came to me and approached me, would I be interested and and I said 'yes, I'm not crewed up, thank you very much, would love to be in your crew' all our unit was Australian and quickly in talking to each other we said you know, 'oh where do you live?' he lived in Sydney and I lived in Sydney and 'where do you live Wal?' and he said 'Greenfield' and 'where do you live Tony?' 'Roseville', the next suburb but I didn't know him and we then formed up into a crew and in due course we acquired another gunner and a, and a flight engineer but we were a crew of four Australians and three English men.
DG: And presumably the flight engineer would have been English?
AA: Yes, the flight engineer was English.
DG: Yeah, yeah.
AA: And the two gunners were English.
DG: Oh right. And were you sent to a squadron after that once you paired up?
AA: No the next step was because we were going to be on four engine bombers mainly for the pilot at the OTU we were flying Wellington bombers, a twin engine bomber, so we had to do, went to a place called Stradishall, which was called a conversion unit, it was mainly for the pilots to learn to fly a four engine as against a twin engine bomber, and at that stage we then got an extra gunner, a mid upper gunner, and a flight engineer.
DG: And ah did you, what happened after that, after that conversion?
AA: Well we're ready to go to a squadron then.
DG: Right.
AA: But prior to that they went in training in case we got shot down, we went to a, what is called I think, a battle course, that was for a couple of weeks where we were instructed on all the procedures if we did get shot down how to get back, how to evade capture and things like that.
DG: Right.
AA: And we did exercises in relation to that.
DG: And what happened after, once you'd finished that?
AA: When we finished that, and that was at a place called Methwold, we were ready to go to a squadron and we went from there to Lakenheath which was an RAF establishment it was pre-war I think and we were there within a few days of arriving there we did our first operation.
DG: Can you remember what, when that would have been that you, you first joined the squadron?
AA: Ah.
DG: Any idea when that would have been?
AA: Yeah it was May 1944.
DG: Right. So that's [unclear] nearly a year after you'd got to the UK.
AA: Yeah that's right.
DG: A little time after.
AA: Yes.
DG: And what was the, what was the daily life like at the base? Just your daily routines and life in general how did you find that?
AA: Well, they would post up if you were flying on operations that night or later that day they'd post up in the operations room all the crews and that were to fly at that time, all their names and give you the instructions as to the time of briefings, the navigator and the pilots used to have a briefing first and then the rest of the crew would come in for an hour or two later to the main briefing and so that was what happened, they told you the time the meals were going to be, the time of the transport to your aircraft, because of course there were aircraft dispersed right round the aerodrome and your aircraft, you were allocated an aircraft, ours happened to be C Charlie and er [unclear] what [unclear] make of aircraft or sometimes they'd switch them around but anyway ours was C Charlie, we had our own ground crew at the dispersal and I think there were five in the ground crew crew and we'd be transported out there during the day if it was going to be a night operation we'd be going out and checking our equipment that sort of thing.
DG: And what, and what would happen then if you, if you were flying that night , after you'd checked the aircraft out and what would happen? Presumably you'd be going on a mission after your evening meal or would you or?
AA: Yes, yes but later on we did more daylight operations than than night operations. That was our, because that was our squadron. Now I haven't told you the aircraft we were then flying when we first joined the squadron was Stirlings.
DG: Right.
AA: And the Stirlings at this stage of the War had been taken off the bombing of German targets. The Lancasters and the Halifaxes were the ones being used for that sort of operations, the Stirlings couldn't get the height and didn't have the speed so the, we were what, we were called a Special Duties Squadron, and as soon as we got there it was realised, we realised, were told [emphatic] it was very secret what we were doing. It was in all Bomber Command squadrons to a degree but ours was more secret [laughs].
DG: Right.
AA: And because the operations we were doing that were so secret was supplying the French Resistance movement with supplies.
DG: Ah right.
AA: And we weren't allowed to keep a diary.
DG: Um.
AA: Actually our mail, outward mail, was censored I think, and so that was the sort of thing. So we were doing that sort of operation and, and dropping mines at the entrances of the ports there where they had the German, the German fleet, submarines and warships who were attacking the Atlantic convoys would try to keep them hulled into those ports.
DG: You were dropping the supplies to the French Resistance, obviously that was in France?
AA: Yes.
DG: Have you any, do you know what parts of France that you were doing it?
AA: Yes, we didn't do that many of them.
DG: Um.
AA: Erm, about in the area of Dijon.
DG: Right.
AA: I do remember one town called Digoin. Which was not far from Dijon, D, I, G, O, I, N. To, would you like me to go on and tell you a bit what the operation was [chuckles].
DG: Yes, certainly, yes.
AA: Because they were rather, you know?
DG: Yes, yes.
AA: Um we had to find a clearing in the forest, we only flew on very bright moon light nights because we flew at very low altitude under the German radar.
DG: You had all the co-ordinates and everything and you had to find that little spot?
AA: Yes.
DG: Yes.
AA: And the navigator and the bomb aimer had to be, co-operate very much. The bomb aimer would lie down in his, in his part there and would map read with a torch and say, 'tell the navigator we are over this river' or [unclear] 'tell', and then when I said Degoinge I remember they would go to a small town and then be given, at a certain speed, in a certain direction, to find that clearing in the forest. Um, going out there OK you find the thing, the place, no bigger than a football field.
DG: You're obviously at a fairly low altitude to be able to find them?
AA: We were flying at five hundred feet.
DG: Would that avoid radar at that height?
AA: Yes.
DG: Oh right, OK.
AA: Five hundred feet, you'd perhaps go, anyway we had loaded in the bomb bay canisters of supplies.
DG: What were they made of?
AA: Well we were never told but it was arms, ammunition.
DG: No, no but the canisters. What were the?
AA: Oh metal and they had a parachute.
DG: Oh right, OK, yeah yeah.
AA: And the bomb aimer to had to identify that we were dropping at the right place, to the right people they had to flash to us on the torch the letter of the day, the agreed letter of the day in Morse Code and then they would then the French men, or French women too I guess ,would put out flares and we would do a, virtually a bombing run, probably at a thousand feet or lower and the canisters then would get released and float down, full moon, and they'd come out with horses and carts from under the trees and load these canisters onto their trucks and onto their carts and disappear back into, into the trees.
DG: And how many canisters might you have?
AA: Oh, I couldn't really tell you.
DG: No, no that's absolutely, that doesn't matter.
AA: Yes.
DG: And what, and um, did you ever meet with any resistance when you were doing those? Any flak or fighters or did you get a pretty free run run having been flying in such clear weather?
AA: Pretty, yes pretty free, I think it was entirely free as I can tell you about one occasion.
DG: Um.
AA: As as I said I was, I looked after the radio and before we took off we all checked our equipment and I'd go out my radio was working perfectly. Then, er we took off they had what they called a group broadcast, we were in Bomber Command's No3 group, there was a number of squadrons in that group most of them going and bombing German targets. But we had this different sort of operation and you had to, my job was, every half hour on the hour and half hour listen in to a group broadcast where instructions may be given, to some of us or all of us, such things as you're diverted to another aerodrome because there's fog over yours where you're going back to or all sorts of things. Um, especially for those on the bombing German targets the wind direction had been changed and things like that. But anyway, we'd been going a while we were probably over the coast of France by this stage and my radio went absolutely dead and I reported it to the skipper, I said 'my radio's out of action' and he said 'alright just let me know when it's fixed ', it wasn't something that would stop us proceeding on this operation and I was quite a good operator but I was hopeless at fixing things and my wife will bear you out, I've never fixed anything in my life [laughter] but anyway I fiddled around in those days radios had valves before transistors [laughs].
DG: Yes, yes.
AA: And I was pushing and pulling and I couldn't get it to work and so I, somehow then the next half hour broadcast was coming up and I'm getting a bit frantic, I pushed it in and just as I pushed it in came, a message came through it started to work for the group cast, the message was for our aircraft, our call sign or one of them.
DG: Oh dear.
AA: You recognise your voice as it's called out, well you recognised your call sign just as clearly.
DG: Yeah, yeah.
AA: Um, this, the message was return to base. I said to Wal the Skipper, in the aircraft you didn't go on first names, or very rarely 'Wireless Operator to Pilot I've just received a message, return to base' and he said 'what's the trouble are all the Force going back?' 'I don't know, just me, just us 'he said 'are you sure?' so well I was a bit er, radio reception at five hundred feet is not that good.
DG: No.
AA: But I'm sure. He said ' Tony you're in trouble [chuckles] if you've got this wrong', and anyway he took my word for it so back we went and landed probably midnight or 1am, I can't remember and a British major who we sort of knew who co-ordinated these sort of operations on our base he came out to our aircraft and we said 'what's up major?' and he said 'well after you got took off and got to the other side we got, we got' I remember his words, 'we got word from the other side, a message from the other side, that the Frenchmen there had been captured and they had installed 3 [unclear] and 2 Bofor's guns awaiting your arrival'.
DG: Oh right. And you might have gone into that if your radio hadn't come back on the line again?
AA: I wouldn't have been talking to you now.
DG: No.
AA: If I hadn't got that message [unclear].
DG: Unbelievable,
AA: My radio was.
DG: Before, just getting backtracking a little bit, you mentioned the airfield you were at, I don't know whether I asked you your squadron number that you were in?
AA: It was RAF Squadron 149.
DG: RAF 149. And what field were you flying from at this stage?
AA: Ah, it would have been Methwold.
DG: OK, OK, and you did a number of these operations dropping?
AA: Not very many.
DG: Right.
AA: Er, one of the first ones we did was with the CO, our pilot was second pilot on this occasion so he could learn the ropes a bit, I think we only did about six of them.
DG: So you did those and dropping the mines.
AA: Dropping the mines.
DG: Did you have any interesting situations with those missions?
AA: Well, no they er only one and this was after D-Day and we were dropping mines at the entrance to Bordeaux which is on the west coast of France, the river there Bordeaux's on is called the Gironde, G, I, R, O, N, D, E, Gironde, it has a very wide estuary or mouth and we had to drop the mines there for the entrance, and we did that again at low level because it was after D-Day we weren't allowed to cut across France. We had to, came from Methwold up near Cambridge, we went right down to Lands' End and then went down the west coast of France, dropped our mines and then had to go back the same way, not cutting across France at all and we're coming up the coast after we'd dropped our mines, suddenly I'm standing in what is called the astrodome which is a perspex bubble on top of a fuselage, where I'm, if I'm not having a radio duty I'm keeping a watch out for anything and suddenly I see fazer coming up towards us from a light machine gun and I understand it was a flagship.
DG: Oh.
AA: Anchored off the coast and I would swear that those bullets [unclear] were going for our rear turret, but we weren't hit at all.
DG: And what was the reason for going, not going over France, going around after D-Day because of the hostilities was that?
AA: Yes, that's right.
DG: You wanted to keep out of the way?
AA: The anti aircraft were all around so that's what we did.
DG: Yes, yes.
AA: And by this stage because we had to, I then started getting messages, radio messages on Morse Code that our, Methwold and round there was fog bound I think, or the weather anyway and they kept sending us a different message to divert to another aerodrome, and then they'd say 'no don't go to that one' but finally we landed a Coastal Command base in North Devon called Shivenor, or Chivenor, and sat there the night, rest of the night and went home the following day.
DG: And after your operations what did you, there were some fellows who had problems with nerves and they were accused of having a lack of moral fibre. How did you, how did you feel about these fellows?
AA: Well I, I never struck, all the time I was there I never knew anybody that, didn't hear anybody, I'd heard that some had sort of been just quietly removed.
DG: Right.
AA: I, I didn't have any direct contact with anybody like that.
DG: And when you, how, how did you feel, how were your, how were your nerves, you knew you were going to fly a mission, how did you, how did you feel?
AA: Um, usually it's not going to happen to me.
DG: Right [laughter].
AA: And I must say the times we were flying the casualty rate was not as high as it had been, I can't say I'm a very brave person but it didn't, wasn't too upset. There was only, we haven't got on to the stage yet of when we, the Squadron converted over to Lancasters.
DG: Right.
AA: And we were then bombing German targets more.
DG: Right.
AA: Er, about three nights in a week, in one week, we had daylight, I think daylight, we had to go to a place called Honsberg in the Rhur Valley and, near Dusseldorf, and the anti aircraft fire was very bad [laughs] terrific.
DG: Right.
AA: And I saw aircraft shot down and so on and when I we went to briefing that day they looked up on the map on the big map of Europe on the wall it was Honsberg again, oh gosh and I think I was very, very touchy then that day, is this going to be my last flight? But generally speaking you just had a job to do it didn't, I wasn't terribly concerned.
DG: How did you feel once you were in the air, did that?
AA: Well you had your job to do and.
DG: Did that change your mind?
AA: I was fairly calm but if you saw, as we did on one occasion, an aircraft flying right alongside us, got anti aircraft fire in seconds it hit the wing and the blazing fuel from the wing spread backwards in seconds and the tail plane was alight and they circled away, we didn't see any parachutes, it would have crashed. That was a New Zealand squadron aircraft we, I found out in recent years.
DG: So you were, you were dropping the supplies from the Stirlings?
AA: Yes.
DG: Right, and er then you went to Lancasters, you got Lancasters?
AA: Yes.
DG: And ah you mentioned that that mission, what other missions did you, did you fly in the Lancasters? This is after D-Day is it did you say?
AA: Yes well we were still on Stirlings right through 'til September which was three months after D-Day.
DG: September '44 yes?
AA: September 1944. We were bombing in Stirlings we did some bombing raids on German targets [clears throat] Le Havre, the Canadians had the Germans troops surrounded in Le Havre and we were bombing the troops virtually, they the Germans had set up flying bomb bases or launching sites on the coast in France, lobbing them towards London and things..
DG: Oh yes.
AA: And we were bombing those sites, I think that was the main things we were doing on the Stirlings besides and doing minor operations of St Malo and other other ports.
DG: And what, what missions did you do in the Lancasters?
AA: Well they were virtually, they were all bombing of industrial targets in, in Ruhr Valley, Cologne, Essen, Bonn [coughs] more in daylight than er [coughs], excuse me, than at night time actually.
DG: Now when you were bombing, bombing these targets there would of course there would always have been civilians somewhere around, how did you, how did you feel when you were bombing these, that there were no doubt somewhere along the lines civilians were going to get killed.
AA: I virtually never even thought about it. We were given a target.
DG: Yeah.
AA: I don't know if it ever really crossed my mind very much. Er, just as a quick example, when I, I mentioned that I was, my virtually first job after the, when I left school or did, started doing accountancy training was with a chartered accountant only for a few months, and he was an auditor, and I'd go with him to the various places, companies to be audited. One of them was called Babcock and Wilcocks, at Regent Park in Sydney, and I'd go out there, didn't have a clue really what I was doing but I had a green pen to tick things, and what was some three years later this was when we were on the Lancaster Squadron, Lancasters we went to briefing, it would have been in November 1944 some three years later. 'Gentlemen your target for tonight is the Babcock and Wilcocks works at Oberhausen [strong laughter] but we were given a target.
DG: Yes.
AA: Now our squadron or most of the squadrons in No3 Group Bomber Command at this stage were, usual targets were bombing synthetic oil plants.
DG: Oh right yeah, yeah.
AA: And so that's what we were doing right through to the very last one we did..
DG: How many missions did you complete?
AA: Thirty six.
DG: Thirty six. So you did your, did your [unclear].
AA: [Unclear].
DG: Was that classified as, at one stage I think there were certain, there were certain, certain targets that weren't considered as dangerous as the others so you had to complete more, more missions to complete your tour, was that had you completed a tour?
AA: Yes.
DG: Yes.
AA: When we joined the squadron and were flying Stirlings [unclear] the standard was thirty. But then at some stage later, and I can't quite remember when, they said 'no you've got to do thirty five', and so eventually I did thirty five but one, I can't remember which one it was, we did what was called an air sea rescue mission, we went looking in the North Sea for RAF crews shot down during the night ditching. I think that may have been the one that we, they said 'oh you're near the coast' or something, I don't know and so they added on officially I did thirty six [laughs].
DG: Oh golly. And so then that pretty much, once you, that's pretty much the end of the War at that stage?
AA: Er, we did our last operation on the 6th of December 1944, that's five, five months before the end of the War.
DG: Right.
AA: Er yes.
DG: And did you, you've talked about a few things that happened, was there anything else any other particularly interesting things that you, that come to mind, that you might have been involved in?
AA: No er, [pauses] no really it was, I didn't realise until recently, I was looking at my log book, you imagine RAF Bomber Command is flying out every night and the US Army Air Force were flying and bombing sometimes the same targets by day.
DG: Right.
AA; But on adding up in my log book we, on Lancasters, we only did six at night and about, I don't know, fifteen or twenty or something in daylight.
DG: Right, right.
AA: Yes.
DG: And so what, when the, that was in November '44 you flew your last mission?
AA: 6th of December.
DG: Of December?
AA: Celebrating the pilot's 27th birthday.
DG: And what happened, what happened then, after you'd flown your last mission the War was still going on though?
AA: Oh yes, yes. Well at this stage they had aircrew too many aircrew really and I and other Australians but not only other Australians the majority, the flight engineer also came with me to a non flying station up at the north of Scotland near Nairn, where they were, we had various tests, what are we going to do with these people next sort of thing. And so we had aptitude tests and so on and it was once thought that I might become a wireless operator on a Walrus amphibian plane based in Northern in France to fly out and rescue people who were shot down in the sea but that didn't eventuate. And then I was, er said 'you won't be required as aircrew you'll probably be an intelligence officer'. And then we were virtually on leave on and off and really we were then based back at Brighton and word came through 'all you Australians are going to get sent home'. So I think it was at the end of April, around about the 20th of April 1945 I was on the ship on the way home, and Anzac Day 1944 er we were somewhere been going a few days.
DG: 45?
AA; And Anzac Day and I've still got the menu, I was in the Officers' Mess in this troopship, the New Amsterdam, I've got the menu that Anzac Day.
DG: Anzac Day 1945?
AA: Yes.
DG: On the, on the way home? Oh great.
AA: And then 2 weeks later it was VE Day and we were still on the water on the way home.
DG: Right.
AA: And a week or two after that we arrived in Fremantle for just a day refuelling and then round to Sydney and.
DG: What happened to you after the War?
AA: Oh well I was discharged well actually I [unclear] to the service, others got the discharge, I was transferred to R, double A,F reserve so theoretically they could call me up at any time I think [laughter] but anyway we'll call it discharge, and that was of course the War was going on against Japan, atomic bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered and within two or three weeks of War against Japan ending I was discharged from the air force.
DG: Right.
AA: And quickly back to my accountancy studies, I was half way through, I finished those and then started working as a commercial accountant in various, various companies throughout my mostly in accounting jobs had about four different companies I think I worked for, three or four, some well known companies, mainly it was Grace Brothers, and the final one was Brambles where I ended up for the last ten years as company secretary until I retired on my 60th birthday in 1984.
DG: And when, when and where, did you meet your wife, sometime after you came back?
AA: Yes, that was, I was, I was down on the south coast over a long weekend, the October weekend down to a seaside resort called Austinmer down near Woolongong, and I was there with a few of my mates and she was there with a few of her girls at the same guest house and we met on the beach and I asked her if she'd come out with me after we, after we got back to Sydney and within six weeks we were engaged.
DG: Right.
AA: [laughs].
DG: And you're still married? Great.
AA: Been married for sixty seven years.
DG: Did you, how many children did you have?
AA: A son and daughter.
DG: Oh great,great. And after, after um after you got back from the War how were fellows that came back from Bomber Command treated, how did you feel you were being treated?
AA: I think, I've heard a lot of stories where they said, you know, 'why were you over there, we were fighting it out here and the Japanese', I never heard a single thing [unclear] who come back from Vietnam being shunned and so on but er, I never got that impression they were, we were welcomed back and got a good job and which I think we had we were, we were, I don't know, I think we all well slotted into whatever we were doing before.
DG: Yeah.
AA: All my mates in the Bank, and they went back to the Bank, and.
DG: Do you still keep in touch with some of the fellows from your time in Engl[and], your time in Bomber Command?
AA: Er yes just a few.
DG: Yes.
AA: Just a few most of them have passed on really but.
DG: Do you ever?
AA: The navigator of our crew was Australian, he and I are the only two surviving members of the crew now.
DG: You and your navigator?
AA: Yeah.
DG: Right.
AA: Well I think that's er, that brings us pretty well up to date. Thanks very much for talking to me Tony I much appreciate it. Thank you.
AA: Right. Cup of tea now?
DG: Thank you.
AA: Or coffee would you prefer?
DG: Coffee but that's.



Donald Gould, “Interview with Tony Adams,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 15, 2024,

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