Interview with Kenneth Angus


Interview with Kenneth Angus


Kenneth Angus lived in Hull, and was 12 when war was declared. He discusses life on a farm after being evacuated, the bombing of Hull and his brother Harry Angus, who was killed flying as a wireless operator / air gunner with 44 Squadron from RAF Waddington.




Temporal Coverage





00:42:24 audio recording


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IL. It’s the 8th of June roughly ten past two in the afternoon I’m Ian Locker and I am interviewing Kenneth Angus in his home in Elloughton near Hull. We are going to talk mainly about Ken’s Brother.John Henry who was in Bomber Command and was sadly killed at the age of twenty.
IL. Ken tell us a little bit about your early life and your Brothers early life.
KA.Well I was either eleven or twelve when the war started, my Brother was in in the volunteer, the RAF Volunteer Reserve and so was my Father. My Father was in the Air Force as well cause he was in. I never knew what he did to be quite honest I never saw him for five years all the time the war was on. He was at Cranwell actually, what he did I have no idea. He actually was in the First World War and he was wounded and came back, went back again. He was wounded again and he came back, actually came to Hull came to Withernsea actually and married my Mother. That was, when he came out of the Army there were no jobs, so he joined the Air Force and he was in, he is a very very close man. He wouldn’t tell about his experiences. A lot of this I didn’t know I only found out from my Sister. Anyway the both of them, my Brother and my Father were in the Volunteer Reserve, just before, well 1939 soon as War was declared Harry went into [Interupted by IL]
IL. So how did your Brother get involved with the Volunteer Reserve.
KA. I have no idea.
IL. I see.
KA. Actually my Father, I think it was extra money to be quite honest with you, It’s like the Territorial’s, you join. I used to know people in the Territorial’s and they just joined for the extra cash. As far as I know but my Father was such a close person.He never discussed his home life, as I say at the beginning of the war, well I’ll show you a photo in a minute, he was a Sergeant. Yeah em a Sergeant or something, he had three stripes anyway, I only ever saw him once, when I was stationed, when I joined the Army I went to Babington in Dorset and from there I went to Farnborough, just outside Farnborough. We had tanks stationed at the you know Farnborough Airport, De Havillands actually. He was coming there for something to do with the Air Force he said I’ll meet you there we will have some lunch and that’s it, the only time I ever saw him in five years. Eh we weren’t really close, my eldest Brother Harry was more close to the kids, you see there was six of us we were err you know a huge family. I remember, I do remember him actually because when he was killed I was evacuated. When my Mother told me at that time it didn’t register it em registers now but it didn’t register at that time. My Mother was devastated obviously, when em he went in.I don’t know a great deal about it, as soon as the war started I was off. I went to place near Helmsley and stayed there about two years I think it was and eh. I was away when he was killed, my Mother wrote to me and told me it didn’t register at all really and that was it. Anyway my Father he did his full time he did the war, full time he was there and em, we were em. It’s such a long time ago its very difficult to remember. When I was evacuated I went on a farm it was beaut. It was really good I was with two old, and old couple and they were brilliant they were the Salt of the Earth. Didn’t smoke, didn’t have electricity, we used to read by candle light, no hot water and yet we lived off the fat of the land you might say because he was a Farmer. I used to help him em I used to do everything virtually and drive a tractor and all sorts of things. I stayed there, would be about a couple of years. In the meantime my Mother was, my Mother stayed in Hull and then we were bombed, we got an incendiary bomb through the back porch, well through the house. It came through the roof, set fire to the house and my Mother had to move.
IL. So where about were you living in Hull at this time?
KA.In Jallen Street off Holderness Road. And eh I remember as I say lots of it’s very hazy. I was looking after myself actually I’ve always looked after myself, always been independent right from day one and I think that all the family has actually. Anyway, we, I went there and when my Mother, my Mother went to Wombwell, she had a friend, he was on the Council. He found her a house in Wombwell, it was just outside Wombwell. Eh she went there‘cause I was on the Farm you see. Anyway after about a couple of years my Mother said, she came back to Hull again so I came, I left the Farm and I went back to Hull with her and I stayed there. We were in the thick of the, you see I don’t remember a real lot. I do remember one thing and it’s vivid. They dropped a stick of Bombs down Holderness Road and I tell you exactly where they dropped them because I went out the next day to see the holes in the ground. They were bloody awful a huge hole, they dropped one, you won’t know it. There was a cinema called Savoy on Holderness Road they dropped one just on the main road there. They dropped one further down the er em, the main road, I forget what they call it. They dropped one there, there was a Bank on the corner, they dropped one there. They dropped one on the corner of Vies Park and three big holes, I’ve never seen holes like it to be quite honest.
IL.So where were you when these bombs were falling?
KA. We were in a shelter.[laugh].
IL. Where did you shelter in Hull, was it in your garden ?
KA. You know I can’t remember, I just can’t remember. We had a shelter in the garden in Jallen Street. We were moved around, my Mother moved around two or three times. She went from Jallen Street to eh a house, oh, somewhere near Nornabelle Street which is further up the road. Quite honestly a lot of this is very hazy it was seventy years ago. Anyway there are certain things stick in my mind once when they dropped the bombs, I was cured. You know they didn’t frighten me. I wasn’t really as far as I know I just went, I went to have a look at the holes. Of course all I saw was pipes and gas pipes and water pipes and sewage mains oh. As I say another time, another, I remember a Heinkel came over, I watched it come over it was so low I could see the Pilot, we were waving to him actually [laugh] with two fingers. He came over and I could actually see him flying the plane. He came over ever so low and behind him was a Spitfire and he chased him and they shot him down. The Pilot we heard, the Pilot waited until he got out of the built up area and he shot him down, I don’t know what happened after that. But em those are the two memories in my.
IL. Did anybody, I suppose there were civilian casualties, did anybody you know get hurt or killed?
KA. No funnily enough there might have been but I wasn’t family orientated in those days. To be quite honest it was like living a dream, I was on my own, I was evacuated on my own, I looked after myself. My Mother used to write to me occasionally, I never saw my Father. My Mother used to write whenever she could but you see having said that, there was my younger Brother and my younger Sister they were evacuated as well and to be quite honest I don’t really know where they went. I know now but I didn’t then. Because it was just like living a dream, it happened a long time ago and em. Anyway we em, what happened eh what actually, I can remember coming back to Jallen Street when they did the repairs and we moved back in.
IL. Was that during the War?
KA.Yeah, this was during the War 1943/44 and em, I left school actually when I was at Helmsley I was at Wombwell School,I was fourteen then I left school then. I remember the day I left school I went to work in an office a Colliery Office, Mitchell Main Colliery and I worked there, I was an Office Boy. Funnily enough I got on with the Agent who was the Managing Director,he was the Big White Chief. He took a shine to me funnily enough. He was a real, he was a pig actually to everybody else. You went down the Mine and they used to say Thornhills coming cause he used to have on his hat, instead of having just an ordinary lantern he used to have a beam so that when they were down the mine they could see when he was coming. Thornhills on his way, but you know, funnily enough he took a shine to me for some reason, I don’t know why. I had to go and get his sandwiches and take his briefcase to his car. I once took his bloody keys, he had a Jaguar, I once took his keys, I took his briefcase to his car, locked the car put the keys in my pocket, went home. Of course, he couldn’t get home, anyway I thought “what do I do”” I found the keys and thought “what do I do?” I could lie and tell him I left them on his desk or I could tell the truth. Anyway I thought “he knows,I know he knows.” Because what I did before he came in I put his keys on his desk you see. He said “where were my keys last night?” I said “in my pocket” He said “it’s a good job you said that because if you had said anything else you would have been through that door” “Now then” he said what’s you punishment?” I said, well I was only a lad, I was only fourteen, fourteen and a half something like that, I said “down to you” He had a big board he used to do his drawings on. He said “bend over that bench” Whack. He said “there you are forget it now” Later on he said “Would you like to go to Night School? I will pay your fees and your books, I will pay for everything and you take shorthand typing and book keeping” so I said “ok”and I went and I went to night school and I took this on.After that we left, I just left and I can’t remember leaving. Certain incidents that live in your mind, we had Mitchell Main, Dalfield Main, Dalfield Main was a subsidiary of Mitchell Main and the Manager at Dalfield Main, I don’t know. I knew him but I didn’t know anything about him. Anyway Thornhill said to me this day “I want you to take this letter to Mr what ever his name was and hand it to him personally, don’t give it to anyone else, give it to him personally.” So I thought “right” so I goes down, knocks on his door, his wife comes to the door, I say is “Mr so and so in?” “Oh he is still in bed” So I say “I’ve got to give him this letter personally” so she says “you had better come in then” So I handed it to him, it was his notice, it were unbelievable.
IL. Industrial relations would be.
KA. It were funny, I didn’t understand what was going on. But funnily he was squat thick set, he was a terror. People were frightened of him, really frightened of him and I wasn’t, I was in awe of him probably, but he didn’t frighten me. And em, he had a streak, I don’t know what it was, there was nothing funny about him ere m but he was. Anyway in the end my Mother came back to Hull and I followed her and I came back to Hull you see. This was during the war, they dropped the, when I was at home they dropped the bombs. That was my, but its six, it’s seventy years ago which is a long time to remember, but things do stick in your mind.
IL. Yes and I suppose its, I don’t know, most people don’t have much danger in their lives.
KA. To be quite honest I never thought of danger, it never bothered me. When I was on the farm there was a couple called Joe Wood and his wife was a reclusive. She wouldn’t answer the door to anyone, she wouldn’t go to the door. She was the kindest person you ever met and yet she wouldn’t talk to people, she used to, she used to call me Kenniff, Kenniff, but she was kindness itself. Both of them were but they were very insular people you know, never went into the village. I used to I, so I joined the choir, I was in the choir there actually and things like that.
IL. In Helmsley?
KA. Yes it was in Oswaldkirk, its next to Ampleforth, we used to go to Ampleforth School, not Ample, not College because when people say where were you educated, I say Ampleforth [laugh] which is, one was the village school, one was the top ranking, it were Roman Catholic College, yeah. We used to go there because we used to get an invite to go beagling from the College. We used to take the dogs out and go after hares and things like that. Oh no, it was a life, a secular life, I looked after myself I bought my own clothes, I did everything, I made. I used to catch rabbits, I’d sell them at the Market, Helmsley Market em, I used to make, I used to sell them, two for a shilling and probably about three or four pairs of rabbits and sell them. I used to buy Wellingtons, trousers things like that. You know I never saw any of my family at all, I was on my own and I have always been like that. I’ve been like that ever since, you get like that don’t you yeah, but it seems you know. Now my Father, the whole Family, my Brothers died, my eldest Sisters dead and my Brother above me died last year. He was in the Air Force he was in Bomber Command as well and there is em me. No then there is my younger Brother he died he was in the Military Police the Red Caps and there is only me left. My Sister who was the youngest Joan, there is only the two of us left out of six of us, you know. It’s sad really, I’ve had a charmed life actually [laugh] when you think about it, you know it’s em. But eh, but we, you see my Father, he never spoke about his childhood, he never spoke about his Mother and Father, he was brought up by his eh, eh, Grandma. His Grandma married three times. His Grandma married an alcoholic, he also married someone with a lot of money and somebody else I don’t know but he never spoke about it. We didn’t know eh, my Grandma Waddington she was filthy rich I’d say, she left a fortune. She left it to my sist my Father’s step Sister. Her Husband was the, the Daughter was the offshoot of the one she married. My Father got, we got a thousand pound when she died and my Grandma got thirty two thousand, eh aunty Nellie got thirty two thousand. You equate that seventy years ago it was about half a million quid, most probably more than that then. But, em I know we got, we got a thousand and I’ll never, we sat round the table and it came in white five pound notes, we got cash, white five pound notes in a rolls,with plastic bands on and we passed it round [laugh]. That’s when we bought Jallen Street, my Father bought Jallen Street, that was five hundred quid, the house was five hundred quid. Nice house as well, beautiful house. Eh you know my Fathers dead now and my Mothers dead. But em he was very em, very secular, he he he wouldn’t speak, he never spoke about his army career. He never told us what he did in the Air Force em. He never said anything you know, the only information I have is from the youngest Sister,‘cause Joan is the youngest. She was the Darling of the Family and my Father sort of doted on her a little bit more. I used to get my back side kicked [laugh] but he was, funnily enough towards the end of his life he did change. He changed eh, when I first, when my first Wife eh, we were married when I was twenty two and my first wife died when I was forty and eh I met Beryl and we have been married now forty odd years. But eh, Beryl and my Father got on like a house on fire. I think my Father was a little bit eh, a little bit upper class more than my Mother. My Mother was Hessle Road you might say and my Father was eh eh, he had a Class about him funny how he had a class about him eh, and you talk to him and he got on with Beryl very well, Beryl said he was an unreal chap. I remember him when he was a bloody old tyrant, you know. But this is it he had six kids, whither, I don’t know whither I don’t know if it was the marriage, if he was happy, I don’t think he was that happy to be quite honest. Eh my Mother went her own way and my Father went his own way and I just have a feeling em, that my Grandma Waddington was em em, she had two cars actually, the days nobody had cars and she had two. Two Rovers, and she used to come and visit us, not very often, we used, when she was good she used to, you know fox furs and all every thing else and flaunting, when she went out we used to stand there, she used to give us half a crown. I suppose it was alright in these days, no I eh eh you as I say my Father, he never. I’ve a feeling my Father I don’t know, was he illegitimate, there was something he never spoke about at all until his last, till he was about seventy, seventy five. Then he opened up to my Sister, yeah my younger Sister and she knows more about him than I do. The information I have I got it only from Joan. It’s funny. Anyway.
IL.A different generation.
KA. That’s our war you might say.
IL. Ok what about your Brother Harry then?
KA. Well Harry as I say he was called up straight away, in fact I’ve got the details here, I’ve got the photographs. We didn’t have photographs, we didn’t have cameras we weren’t allowed cameras in those days and em yes, John Henry Angus aged twenty, he was at RAF Waddington, he died 17th of the ninth, 1940 his service number was 751690 he was in 44 Squadron, em eh. He got three war medals, he got Aircrew Europe, War Medal and 1945. He was only in as I say he died in 1940, 1939 the war started in, he would only have been in the Service a year when he trained and was flying. He was shot down over Burcht just outside Antwerp and think he was bombing barges actually. They were building barges to invade in these days, the Operation Sea Lion. I think it was something like that, and they were building barges at Antwerp and I think that is what he was bombing. That is what I have heard, he was in a Hampden, MK1 Hampden a KM MK1 Hampden series number P2121. I got all this off the Internet. But that’s em, so basically he was only in the Air Force and he trained and he was Aircrew.
IT. What did he do, what was he in the aeroplane?
KA. He was eh, no then, I think he was a WOPAG, Wireless Operator Air Gunner. I’m not sure about that, I struggle with a Master Signaller. That was the Brother [garbled] he was in the war as well. When we were in Wombwell he went down the mines actually. He didn’t get, he didn’t get an option as soon as he was sixteen he went down the mines and he went down the mines for two years.Then when he came out the mines, when we came back to Hull. He couldn’t go down the mines then, he joined the Air Force and he was in the Air Force all his life he, he, started off, he was in Bomber Command and what I can gather he was bombing Germany. When the war finished he was on the Berlin Airlift, humping coal. He was flying coal backwards and forwards. He then went in, well when Bomber Command finished he went into Transport Command and then as I say he was on the Berlin Airlift. He has had a chequered career, fantastic career. He went to Australia when they set the Atom Bomb off he took the animals, took some of the monkeys out there when they exploded the Atom Bomb. He was in India when they petitioned Pakistan. He was flying people backwards and forwards, he was there for three years I think. Then he went to Cyprus, he was in Cyprus flying all over the place. Then he went to Benson where the Queens Flight was and he was on the Queens Flight he was eh, Master Signaller a [garbled] he was telling me they have offered me a Commission and I have worked it out I get more money being a Master Signaller than I do being a Flight Lieutenant. So he said I don’t want it I will stay as I am and he stayed as a Master Signaller right through his career. He actually, Oh then he went to Leuchars in Scotland he was on Helicopters. He was at Driffield on Thor Missiles when the Missile Base was there. What else did he do, oh he’s been to Sweden he’s been to America he’s been all over. Then when he came out of, when he retired, I mean this is going back, he was in the Air Force thirty odd years. When he retired he joined Dan Air, he went to Dan Air and Dan Air was taken over by British Airways. So when he was, when he, when he retired when he finished completely he got a pension from British Airways. He was stationed, actually it was, it was never, again. It just shows you how sick our family is, he had six children or five or six or five I think, I’ve never seen any of them because they were all born abroad. Two was born in Cyprus one was born in India I think it was. [garbled] peculiar life, well not a peculiar life, he was stationed at, well he was stationed at Abingdon and em, he stayed there. Well he was in the Air Force right until he retired out the Air Force and then he joined Dan Air.
IL. Was he in Abingdon during the War or was this subsequent to the War?
KA. No I don’t know where he was when he was actually bombing I don’t know. We weren’t really in contact with each other then. I know he was at Benson because when I came back to Hull, I went on to, I started driving, transport. I started of my career in transport I used to go there I used to go to Benson stay the night and I used to do London, I used to go to London backwards and forwards. So I used to go to Benson, stay there the night, go onto London and come back. Eh as I say, this is, this is when the Atom Bomb was exploded because he said, he said come on we will have a walk around the airfield and there were Viking’s of the Queens Flight, Valetta’s and Viking’s and he showed me one, went in one. There were steel cages in there and he said “what do you think those are for?” I said “I have no idea, prisoners, is it for carting prisoners” He said “no he said, I can’t tell you now because we are sworn to secrecy but you will read about it” and sure enough he took a load of monkeys out in this cage. So these are the things I remember you know and where else was he? Ah he was in Cyprus for three years and its em, Akrotiri I think it was em, where else? He was in the North West Frontier, he was in India for three years, he was at Karachi I think it was and em. It was, they were flying, cause in those days see, I didn’t understand what they were doing in India. I didn’t know that they were petitioning and the Muslims were going North and the Hindus were going south but he said there were a lot of people killed. He said there was a massacre, he said we were flying officials out. I remember he was on the front page of em, one of the big newspapers, new magazine, Tattler or something like that, showed him throwing rice out to the Indians, Hindus. He said, they used the front page and he said, that’s me, well you could see it was him. He said “I got a bollocking for that” I said “why” he said “because I didn’t have a belt on, I should have been strapped in and I was just slinging these bags out” [laugh]. He has had a terrific career, he was on the Berlin Air Lift I said “ what were you doing there” he said “ we were humping coal and we had three minutes to land, unload and take off again. If you missed the slot you had to go round with a full load. You couldn’t, if for some reason you were late or something you had to take his load back, fly round and then come back again” He said, because there were God knows how many aircraft, well they brought everything into Berlin. He was on coal actually I said “did you hump coal then?” he said “No”
IL. Well he had his previous training didn’t he?
KA. Then he was in, they had a little sideline going that was it, they used to take coffee into Berlin then used to go somewhere just outside Berlin and buy ornaments, glassware take the glassware back. Take the coffee there, do a bit of training. He was on Dakota’s actually at that time he was on a Dakota. He said, he said funny thing is the one he was on he said “ we only had to whistle and the floor boards jumped”[laugh] No he has, yes he is very unassuming you know. No he has had a terrific life.
IL. So do you know anything about his Second World War Service, did he complete a tour or ?
KA. I don’t know all I can say I know when he was bombing Berlin he said “we used to take off, circle round gain height, join a Squadron” and then he said “we used to fly over, when we got over the Channel when we got into France you could actually see the glow of Berlin burning” he said “when you were flying over, as soon as you got over Berlin you plane just Woof! The air currents, the hot air current coming up used to lift your plane up” he said “we used to drop the bloody bombs and scarper” He never really eh never, never bragged about anything I mean. I said “did you ever fly any of the Royal Family?” he said “well we used to fly” he never flew the Queen,he never flew the Duke of Edinburgh. He said “we used to fly a lot of officials, next to you know, next to the Queen. They used to use the Queens Flight for all sorts of things actually. I said “did you ever fly the Queen” he said “no, no” em but he never really said anything, he said em. you know only through away questions you might say. But em you know. He said “when we were in India, these bloody Afghans, we used to fly over Afghanistan the Afghans then had these pop guns, these blunder buses. We used to fly in low, you know go in to the North” and he said “they’d be there with these guns firing at us they didn’t have a cat in hells chance of hitting us” but you know he is. That was Cyril but he died last year, his wife had died quite a few years ago, she was a real nice girl but she died of Cancer, all these things.
IL Just coming back to Harry then, have you been over to,did?
KA. No
IL. Do you have a grave in Antwerp?
KA. I have a photograph of it.
IL We’ll take some photographs.
KA. I keep saying I’ll go, we’ve been, since we’ve been married and that we’ve been everywhere and its Antwerp is one place I’ve never been. I keep saying you know we ought to go we ought to go. I’ve been to the Somme, the World War Battlefields, I’ve been to Normandy as well, Dun, you know where they invaded in the last war, the last war yeah. No it’s a place, I keep say, you know. It’s too late now to be quite honest. He’s buried with the other, there were five crew,they are all buried together apparently. I’ve got a photograph of the grave my Mother was. I am really doing this for my Mother, I hope you feel that maybe I was a bit outside looking in. I was in business, you know what business is like you are working eight, seven days a week twenty four hours a day virtually, you know. Bit em, sometimes we did all right I mean eh, funny I had a good job. I worked for George Halton at one time and em I was there five years. I knew Dick Halton, the Managing Director in fact it is his son in law who got me the job there. I was friendly with Frank Briar, he was the. Well it was actually Frank’s wife Sister, Dicks, I don’t know, there is some relation anyway. He was a real nice guy he’s dead now In fact his son now is in [unreadable] his son has taken the business over and eh, do you, do you know?
IL. I know that some of the Children were at school with my kids, my kids were at Highmers and I know the name and I would have met them at certain.
KA. This would have been the generation before them.
IL Absolutely as I say the next generation would be at school with my kids.
KA. Dicks son was only a boy when I was working for Halton’s. There were three of them Dick, George and Peter. Peter and Dick were the main stay of Halton’s. George was too much and you very rarely saw him. Dick I knew very well actually in fact he said to me when I told him I was leaving and going on me own he said “if it doesn’t go right, come back but I hope it does” Well it, the trouble is when you start on your own you can’t fail, you just can’t fail you’ve got to put the hours to do this you’ve got to do that.
IL Yeah.
KA.I don’t know, we did all right. I’ve been retired now for twenty four years now. As I say we had the Garage at Anlaby, one of the Garages in Anlaby it’s a tyre place now its opposite, used to be Jacksons and then it went into a Supermarket.
IL Yes I know exactly where it is.
KA. We took it over, it was called Someleys actually, Gordon and Roy Someley, eh they owned the old. His Father was a Blacksmiths there in Anlaby in the days of Blacksmiths and eh, Roy sold out and Mogel bought it and I took it over. It was state of the art, when it was built it was state of the art. I’ve got photographs of it. We had state of the art pumps and all sorts. I mean now they are old fashioned but in these days they were really, really something you know. No I was there about thirty odd years I think. I had another garage, I had two down Sutton Road as well. One is still there funnily enough, one of them, you know where the new, the bridge, you remember the old bridge?
IL. I don’t, I don’t know that part of Hull that well.
KA. Well it used to be a real narrow, narrow iron bridge, if two cars went across you couldn’t get across. Anyway they have taken it away and put a huge bridge there. Right on the corner there is a big roundabout there now, right on the corner there is a garage there now, well I had that one as well. But no I mean things have changed a lot [laugh] But as I say Harry I don’t know, it was actually a friend of mine that told me about this and eh, she’s got two cousins that are flyers as well and they got the, she gave me the information. In fact she gave me the information, this is em. Because I didn’t know anything about it and its em eh. No this was just the two people I had to get in touch with, Peter Jones and Helen Durham.



Ian Locker, “Interview with Kenneth Angus,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 17, 2024,

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