Stuart Boynton Interview


Stuart Boynton Interview


During 1939 Stuart left grammar school and joined the Air Training Corps. After about half a year he volunteered for air crew and was accepted. He and his girlfriend were married in February 1943. Stuart was posted to South Africa working on Ansons and about a year later was posted to Llandwrog in Wales. His next postings were to RAF Finningley, flying in Wellingtons and to Holland dropping leaflets from a Halifax. From RAF Finningley he went to RAF Lindholme, RAF Hemswell and RAF Elsham Wolds. Stuart described his first operational trip as absolutely horrendous. Most of the crew’s trips were then to the Ruhr and the German steel works in Essen. After that they did another ten or eleven trips. During the last trip the crew had to abandon the aircraft when it was shot down and burst into flames. All but two of the crew (one being the pilot, Phil Picot) baled out before the aircraft hit the ground. Stuart was captured and taken to a hut which housed about 30 Germans, but he was treated well. Stuart was detained in Poland. Their camp had to evacuate during a winter night as the Russians were advancing. They were marching for two or three weeks before being taken to a camp in Berlin by rail. They were liberated and eventually Stuart was posted to RAF Scarborough. He came out of the at the end of the war and said he had had a marvellous life.




Temporal Coverage




00:23:24 audio recording


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ABoyntonS150624, PBoyntonS1512


TSB. 1923,19,1939 I left Bridlington Grammar School eh, then, which I didn’t join the RAF straight away I joined the Air Training Corps, I was in there for about a year and a half. The war had already started after about a year and a half I thought well I’ll volunteer for Aircrew, which I went down to London, passed with flying colours, as I think and after that I was eh. I am trying to think where I went after various placed in the RAF in England. I was in Harrogate, I was in, up at South Shields. Then, I am trying to think of it, dates. That’s 1939 so, in after I had been in the RAF a few months I was posted to South Africa and my first wife and I then decided, ‘shall we get married and save the money until the war’s finished?’ Which, I got married when I was only twenty it was in the February ’43. And eh, the next within a week of being married I was transferred to South Africa where I, where I was on the Ansons, flying in the Ansons. On returning from South Africa about a year afterwards I as posted to LLandwrog in Wales. While in Wales there was quite a lot of flying the Anson again and eh just before my birthday which was 21st of March 1924, 1924 yes my first birthday my I was, my was transferred, I was transferred and posted to Finningley which is now Doncaster Airfield. So, so in February 1923, I was born in ’23, 1943 I was flying to South Africa which I say after South Africa I went to LLandwrog. Getting to Finningley which is on 21st birthday which was 1944 I was travelling from LLandwrog to Finningley with a kit bag over my shoulder, that was my 21st birthday. So consequently I flew from Finningley, I was on the Wellingtons for a short time. Eh, a leaflet trip to Holland dropping leaflets then from Finningley I went to Lindholme just down the road onto Halifax’s. While there I had a leaflet trip again to Holland and then from Lindholme I was posted to Hemswell onto the Lancasters. From Hemswell I was posted to Elsham, that’s where I did my first operation. I am only guessing now, Elsham I should say get to Elsham some time in September which was ’44. Our first operational trip was early I should say early November and I you ask me what that was like I can only answer [unclear] It was absolutely horrendous. The flak and everything else was shocking we were caught in the eh, eh the searchlights. Anyway with a bit of luck we got home safely. I just said to skipper ‘I am pleased were back from that,’ I said ‘ thirty trips like this we will double grave before we get to thirty trips.’ Anyway that was all right, we went into land, as we landed we flew straight off the airfield. The plane went up on its side we were straight off, all flat tyres. so that was the first one. After that most of our trips was over what we call the Happy Valley which was the German Steel places, Essen, most of mine was to Essen. Anyway we flew to Essen, we was very pleased to get back. Anyway we did about another ten trips after that ten or eleven trips after that. A couple of pretty bad ones after that but the biggest majority were what you call very easy. The last one we never made as we were coming on our way back, we had a very easy trip, a very quiet trip. The Rear Gunner said ‘We got a; fighter on our port side Skipper.’ Anyway he tried to do the evasive did a bit of a mm a mm, tried to get rid of him anyway. Consequently after about ten minutes, half an hour. Oh I thought we were on our way home. The next thing I knew was the Pilot saying ‘Abandon aircraft were on fire.’ I said, I was I went off in rotation. Just as I was going I saw, three [unclear] last thing I remember saying to my Skipper ‘I’ll see you down stairs Phil.’ With that I was pulling me ‘chute, just as I was pulling me ‘chute, I just heard on intercom the Rear Gunner say ‘Christ I’ve pulled me ‘chute.’ With that I’d gone, I didn’t know what happened after that. But what happened after that I was, only left on the plane was the Pilot, the Rear Gunner and the Mid Upper both the Gunners were Canadians. The young lad I thought I was the ablest, the youngest twenty one. Eddie was only just turned eight, nineteen for all I know he panicked and wouldn’t jump with the Mid Upper, Canadian, wanted him to jump with him, but he refused to jump. ‘No I’m not jumping.’ So all the Pilot said to Mid Upper ‘Get yourself off I’ll try to land the plane.’ The Mid Upper said, he jumped, as his ‘chute opened, all he saw was the wing dropped off with that the plane went straight into the ground, both killed. I have always said, I have always tried to find out to find out why this time, he was a bit older than me but had got two daughters. His wife had left Jersey, she was living in a hotel. Where ever he went she was living in hotels. So what she was left with was two daughters, no home to go to. I said I’ll, I always said he should have got decorated but he never did. So that is about all that I can say about that. So anyway when we was, when we were shot down we were taken to just a little village near from where we was shot down. They had seen us coming down so we had no chance of escaping. So they put me into a billet a Nissan hut with about thirty young Germans in. As I went in I was the only one of the crew that at the time, they found. I thought ‘well I am going to get knocked about here with all these lads.’ I had been in there about half an hour, one of them sidled up to me ‘there you are,’ gave me a bit of their ersatz bread. I thought it was awful, I put it in me pocket. Anyway about another half hour went by another young lad came, German lad, could speak, he could speak a bit of English. He just said ‘ me was a prisoner of Americans me look after you.’ With that he gave me a couple of blankets for the night. That is about all I could say about them, they were very good. But even today I still think now that would be December 1944 we were shot down. Even today he said, ah that is what he did say to me, ‘We have,’ when I was in this Nissan hut, ‘you have broken our lines we are now going to push you back.’ I never thought anything more about that at all until after the war. It must have been what you called ‘The Battle of the Bulge.’ So automatically now I often think ‘ I wonder if there are any of these young lads still living today?’ That’s all, that’s all I can say about that one. So after that we, we I was posted to eh, I can’t remember the name where was it, posted into Poland and one night, one morning woke up, right evacuating the camp. The Russians were coming very close to where, to where we were, so we had to, as the Russians were advancing we had to march away from them. So we were on, in the middle of winter, we were marching until about one or two in the morning carried on might have been one or two weeks, I don’t know. But there again I was one of the lucky ones, the last morning we were on the walk we’d get into farm, I’d went into the farm I were in the barn. I was one of the last in the barn and this would be one o’clock in the morning. When I woke up, whatever time it was, I don’t know all I can say it was light, it could have been five o’clock in the morning. There I was laid outside where it was twenty degrees below. I went, I couldn’t, me hands were, I couldn’t get me hands together, me feet was frozen, I said ‘ the only thing if the lads lit a fire.’ Got warmed up within two or three hours we were back on the wa,march again. So consequently we marched and again for another week, how long I don’t know. Once again I was very lucky one day they just piled all our section, our section were piled into rail trucks and how many were in the trucks I don’t know how we got on for weeing or whatever I don’t know how we got on about that. All I know before it took us about a day a day and a half on this truck, finished up somewhere near Berlin. That is when the Russians liberated us which was what I gather, I don’t know. I don’t know [unclear] prisoners. Once again I would be guessing but it was sometime in April time, May. I don’t know when the war finished. But once they, I always remember the Russians coming through our camp knocking all the fences down. There were men and women on the tanks, just the same and I must admit at the time I thought ‘well they are just like a pack a bandit these lot.’ We got on well with them, they didn’t bother with us, we didn’t bother with them. They would not, we were there two or three weeks at least, the Americans sent a couple of Troops to move us and they said ‘ you are going when it is out turn, we will let you know when you are going.’ So we got fed up of waiting, one day we set off from the camp ‘we will make our way to the Elbe to get across ourselves.’ So we [unclear] a mile down the road next thing we got, the Russians were in front of us back to the camp ‘ you go when we tell you.’ Consequently eh why I know a bit about the time there eh when they did allow us to go we got to Brussels, we got a bit of money, we got showered and everything, money we had a night out in, in Brussels. Consequently when I got back home my second birthday was May the 23rd 1945, So but, so consequently I didn’t get back for me twenty first, I didn’t get back until after me birthday which would be after the 23rd 1945. Consequently I was one of the last prisoners back so I got indefinite leave. So indefinite leave I was posted, well I was in Bridlington, got posted to Scarborough so I was backwards and forwards from Brid to Scarborough for about three or four months. Finally when the war finished they decided aircrew you could [unclear] aircrew but you could only go as ground crew. I just had to come out, I came out of the forces. So that’s about all I can tell you, that’s about it in a nutshell. That’s about all I could say. My Pilot was one of the last to leave Jersey before the Germans occupied Jersey. He was on the last boat to leave, his wife went with him, a young girl, went with him. They got married before they [unclear] over to England and where ever he was posted, Phil, she was in the hotel somewhere. She followed him around so there she was when he got shot down she was stood there on her own with two kids and that’s why I think he should have got married. The main thing of all so consequently I knew Phil only five months of my life and for seventy odd years I have never forgotten him [appears upset].
MJ. You shouldn’t you don’t have to worry, that’s part of it you see.
TSB. Yeah and all that I can say is that a marvellous lad, man, fellow.
MJ. Do you remember his full name, do you remember his full name, do you remember his name?
TSB. Phillip.
MJ. Do you remember his surname?
TSB. Picot that all it was and consequently I mentioned the two daughters and his three aunties all the rest of the family have all died. But the daughters have married very well they are very happy. Two lovely families two and two and eh three aunties I think they have all lost their husbands. But they are all lovely people, lovely people.
MJ. Went to London for your medical ?. [?].[unclear]
TSB. Yeah I can’t think [unclear] I know I went from Kings Cross [unclear] I walked from Kings Cross I can’t remember where it was now but I nineteen, as I say about eighteen to nineteen I was twenty three ‘40 to 1942 I should think would be when I came in forces, long time [laugh]. But eh no at least I have often said eh you have got your memories haven’t you, they are worth a lot your memories. That is why I get so sentimental with Phil my Pilot because as I say I only knew him five months. We were very friendly, we were very very friendly. Not many days gone bye without I think something about him.
MJ. What made you so friendly, what what ?
TSB. I don’t know, just the crew, I think during the war you you, fact, you you made up as a crew, seven of you and I think they tried to keep that crew as separate as they could. So in other words eh anybody lost they weren’t missed as much, they look after themselves because each crew was more or less, they look after themselves. So whenever we went down to the pub the seven of us went out together eh at least most nights of the week, five or six but we always stuck together all the time we were flying. Your mates, you were what you call mates as simple as that. In other words at the end of the day unless you were lucky, you died together. But eh I say I have these thoughts many a time but I am very happy and [unclear] I have had a marvellous life, marvellous life. As I say one of my old aunties I used to see her ninety five or so, she fell down stairs, I have not forgot she turned round to us and she said ‘Stuart I don’t want anybody to live as long as I have lived,’ she said ‘ I am not ready for going yet’ she lived till ninety seven well I got to ninety two now and she was definitely the eldest of all of my family. If I could get to ninety eight whither I do or not, grace of Gods is that. Eh but if I get to ninety eight I shall finish up as the eldest one in the family that’s it.[laugh]. But she was a right battle axe was my auntie, she taught me a lot and I still think of her at ninety seven anyway I’ve got to ninety two whither I get to ninety five by the grace of God, you don’t know, you don’t know. One thing certain and a betting man and I used to like betting on the horses and that as a betting man one certainty is we all know we have to die sometime. It’s a good job we don’t know when. We do we all know we have got to go sometime. And I say when I talk about luck if I get to a hundred very good but whither I do or not you don’t know. There is a lot of luck in life as well you know some people are born lucky and some are [unclear]. And I don’t know about you, you had an accident didn’t you. Was it motor accident you had then?
MJ. Em I’ll make sure this is on, go on.
TSB. After the war my mother, well during the war my mother got a telegram eh, just missing. So she went berserk, demented, crackers then of course shortly after that, presumed killed. So that she is worse than ever then about a month after that somebody came dashing into mums shop at Hilderthorpe Road End Bridlington saying ‘Nellie, Nellie, Stuarts alive, Stuarts alive.’And how they got to know that, not from the Air Ministry it was given over the news by Lord Haw Haw that Flight Sergeant Boynton is now a prison of war in Germany. That’s the first time my Mother new I was living. And it wasn’t, she didn’t get it from the RAF or the Ministry, Lord Haw Haw made it over the news one night, one day that’s first thing, first time she knew I was living. [laugh] killed presumed dead, it was a totally different thing when she knew I was still living you see.
MJ. On behalf of the International Bomber Command I would like to thank Warrant Officer Stuart Boynton on the date of the 24th of June 2014. Thank you very much my name is Michael Jeffery.



Mick Jeffery, “Stuart Boynton Interview,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 26, 2024,

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