Interview with Royston Clarke and Diane Clarke


Interview with Royston Clarke and Diane Clarke


Warrant Officer Robert Royston Clarke joined the Royal Air Force in 1940 and flew in Lancasters.
He joined Bomber Command after seeing the bombing of Coventry.
Robert tells about bailing out and being manhandled by the local inhabitants before escaping and hiding under a train.
He was arrested by the Vichy French and tells of how he was then interviewed by a German Officer.
He escaped on a couple of occasions, linking up with the Polish Resistance on one occasion and hiding from the Gestapo who were searching for him with dogs. He tells of his experiences ‘on the run’.
He then found himself with the 11th Army Division and was flown home from Belguim after the war.








00:33:37 audio recording


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AClarkRR160331, PClarkRR1601, PClarkRR1602


(DC) My husband’s name is Robert Royston Clarke and he joined the war in 1940 –
(RC) Yeah
(DC) - and he did all the training and took up flying on Lancasters, eventually he was shot down over Germany. So you can carry on, yeah?
(MJ) Yep.
(RC) I was shot down over, over Germany. What, what else did I do?
(DC) You erm, you were shot down over Berlin, weren’t you?
(RC) I was shot down over Berlin –
(DC) And er, you came down by parachute.
(RC) Yes, yes –
(DC) You thought you were, you thought, you thought you were too light to come down by parachute –
(RC) I did.
(DC) You thought you were going up –
(RC) That’s exactly –
(DC) And you looked up and it was just like going up to heaven. And –
(RC) Yeah
(DC) And you eventually came down to the ground, alright?
(RC) Yes.
(DC) Can you carry on from there?
(RC) When I, when I bailed out of the parachute and after being shot up by the Germans. When I I was parachuting out, I looked up and it looked as if I was coming down -
(DC) [Unclear]
(RC) Coming out the parachute coming down it wasn’t very happy –
(DC) And what happened when you got down?
(RC) What did?
(DC) That the – all these people grabbed you and took you down an air raid shelter, didn’t they?
(RC) Oh yeah. Hmm, they did.
(DC) And they going to cut your limbs, they wanted your clothes. They were arguing who was going to have your clothes.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And they were going to cut all your limbs off and throw you in the fire.
(RC) They was going to cut me fingers, me feet off, me toes. Silly bastards.
(DC) [Unclear]
(RC) Silly blighters.
(DC) You got your Mae West on, hadn’t you?
(RC) Yes.
(DC) And it had a light on it that flashed.
(RC) Yes
(DC) And as it flashed it, it flashed all of a sudden for no reason and the, the Germans thought it was a pistol, didn’t they?
(RC) Yes they did.
(DC) And they shouted in the language, ‘Pistol. Pistol’ and they all shot back, and you ran out up the steps as fast as you could and you got under a train in the railway station.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) Alright?
(RC) Yeah, this er, when they were trying –and what was it? Shouting ‘Pistol, pistol’.
(AC) The people in the air raid shelter that had got you and they were going to throw you in the fire. Didn’t - weren’t they?
(RC) Yes, because the - yeah.
(DC) You got out, under the train, and as you, you got underneath the train, and as you were going along, you were getting cold and wet from the steam and all that sort of thing, and you got up and gradually they pulled in at a station and you sneaked in and you got on top of a carriage, didn’t you?
(RC) That’s right.
(DC) A freight carriage.
(RC) Yes.
(DC) And then as you started off, you were going along and along, and you didn’t realise at the time that you were laying on top of poles, weren’t you? Metal poles.
(RC) That’s right.
(DC) And it was trudging along, you were gradually going down and down in these tru -poles. So you had to get out of that and lay across them the other way. And then, eventually, you, you were on the run a little bit, weren’t you? But eventually you were captured.
(RC) Yeah. The Germans didn’t like me.
(MJ) Why didn’t they like you?
(RC) [Chuckle]. The Germans and I were not very good friends during the war.
(DC) What he did – he er, he got a bicycle and –
(RC) I did.
(DC) Was [unclear] before he was captured, and he was going along and then he saw the troops coming towards him, and he went round the island the wrong way and obviously, they stopped him and found out – he said he was French. And the chap he spoke to him in French and it was the Vichy, Vichy French.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And it was the Vichy French uniforms, and they captured him then and you were put in prison after that, weren’t you?
(RC) They didn’t like me.
(DC) You were interviewed by a German officer. Wanted to know all the details of his camp –
(RC) Yes.
(DC) His crew and different things and you wouldn’t tell them anything. And they was - they got guards who come marching in and he said, ‘You will be shot’, and er, and he wouldn’t tell them anything. He said, ‘I should tell you nothing’, he said, ‘If you shoot me now -‘
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) He kept trying to get information out of you, didn’t he?
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) But you wouldn’t give any of the information and –
(RC) They kept asking me questions about this, and I said, ‘Actually I can’t say anything about it’. He - they said, ‘So we’ll shoot ya’. He said, ’If you don’t –‘
(DC) You said, you said, ‘If you were in my place, would you say anything?’ He said, ‘I’m not in your place’. And he says, ‘So we are going to shoot ya’. And then -
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And then he marched the guards out. He shook his hand, and he says, ‘You are a good solider’. And gave you a cigarette and a drink.
(RC) He did indeed, yes.
(DC) That was one little bit, wasn’t it?
(RC) Yeah. To, to have a cigarette off a bloody German, and the German didn’t like me at all.
(DC) Another incident he was – he, he escaped once or twice but he got a friend. He was on his own most of the time, but he’d got a friend at this point and they were in Poland –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And he joined up with the Polish Resistance.
(RC) That’s right.
(DC) And he, he lived at a farm with family and there was a young girl there. I can’t think of her name now – and he – and they were in love, and they were a couple at the time, and then the Germans – something happened. They’d done something and the Germans came round looking for the Polish Resistance, and this girl, they got her and he was shouting, ‘No, No, she’s on the farm, working’, ‘cause they made out they were out working on the farm. And they just shot her in front of him. Lynkska was her name, wasn’t it?
(RC) Yeah, Lynkska.
(DC) And they just shot her in front of him, and the lady from the farm she came out and slapped him round the face and said, ‘Come on, get on with this work. We’ve got so much to do’.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And he got, he got away from that, but then you were escaping again and this particular time it was up through Lithuania, Latvia was it?
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And –
(RC) Lithuania, Latvia yeah.
(DC) And he – there was some people hanging. They were hanging them. I don’t know whether you know this story? With the Latvians, Lithuanians – have you followed it a bit? He, he saw all these people and they were just hanging from poles and trees in the street where the Germans had, had hung them ‘cause they wouldn’t go over to the German side. That was that and before he went into Latvia and Lithuania, you were in with Poland there was all the people on the streets just little kids starving and dying on the streets and all that.
(RC) It was awful. Awful.
(DC) And then the – around about the same time he was going along, escaping, and there was this cattle wagon train and – no, it wasn’t, it was a building this particular time – a building.
(RC) Yep.
(DC) And there were loads of people in it and they were shouting, ‘Mia water, mia water’ or something like that. I don’t know how they say it. ‘Mia sand’.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And they wanted water to drink and sand to put on the floor where they’d have to go to the toilet to cover all that up. And they were people that they were taking by train to the, the concentration camps. It was terrible. Then -
(RC) To the concentration camps.
(DC) Then you got so far up – I’m going, I’m getting mixed up with the different stories actually, but they are all stories. He was in Poland and with the Polish Resistance, they wanted to – they heard that [sigh] Hitler was coming along on the train, so he went underneath the bridge and set a explosive to blow his train up. And as it happened, the troop train came along first and they blew the troop train, train up and Hitler got away with it, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be here now if they had known it was you? [laugh].
(RC) No, I had, I had a bloody rough time, but the fact is that I could speak a good language and I –
(DC) Actually he could speak fluent German.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) That’ll do for now, won’t it?
[Restart of recording]
(RC) I had a - I didn’t have a very good war, but I did – I –
(DC) What made you go into the RAF? You wanted to fly was because you were in Coventry the night it was bombed, weren’t you?
(RC) That’s right,yes.
(DC) With a friend.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And straight away you said, ‘I’m not going in the Navy, I’m going in Bomber Command’.
(RC) Yes.
(DC) And you and your friend, you got a little baby out. You thought it was alive, but by the time you got it out it was dead, wasn’t it?
(RC) Yes.
(DC) And that really upset you, and from then on that’s what you said you would do, go in Bomber Command. All right?
(RC) I didn’t have – I mean wars are bad but I didn’t have a very good bloody war. I had a bastard of a war against – the Germans didn’t like me and I certainly didn’t like them and –
(DC) Another incident, you were escaping with your friend at this time, weren’t you? And the, they, the Gestapo were onto you with the dogs.
(RC) Yes.
(DC) So you went into the –
(RC) Bloody Gestapo.
(DC) the river. And you went into the river, didn’t you?
(RC) Yes, I did.
(DC) To hide. And you went in and then you went, kept under water, went up the bank so the dogs couldn’t scent - do your scent. And they never did find you, did they?
(RC) No.
(DC) They kept shooting in the water, but you were up the river more because you’d got up further and under the bank, and the dogs couldn’t scent you ‘cause -
(RC) That’s right
(DC) ‘cause you lost your scent in the water.
(RC) It was awful bloody water.
(DC) And then eventually you, you swam the Rhine, didn’t you?
(RC) Swam the Rhine, yeah.
(DC) With your friend –
(RC) Swam the Rhine, yeah.
(DC) And he said, this friend came from Poland, he said, ‘I can’t swim. I can’t swim –‘ so Roy said, ‘You can’t swim?’ And you come from Hull?’ So he had to have him on his chest, didn’t you?
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And you swam on your back -
(RC) On me back.
(DC) To get him across.
(RC) On me back.
(DC) And he said, ‘Look, I can’t cope any more’. He said, ‘I can’t get you across’. He did so bad swimming, so hard swimming, and he said, ‘Oh, don’t leave me. Don’t leave me’. So he had another go, and they finally got across, and got the other side of the river and it was the wide part of the river.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) So, that was a good thing. The only thing is you saw him after the war, didn’t you?
(RC) Yes.
(DC) Then you lost touch. When we went to find him, he’d passed away, hadn’t he? Syd.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) Yeah.
(RC) I had a –
(DC) It’s sad.
(RC) I didn’t have –
(DC) Another time there was a – this is towards the end of the - he, he, they escaped off of a forced march, and I don’t know whether it was the main one, I really don’t know, but they escaped off a forced march. And then they went into this farm to stay for the night, ‘cause they were so cold, and there was three Germans there and they got the two of you, didn’t they?
(RC) Hmm.
(DC) And they were tie – they were going to tie them against a cartwheels and bayonet them –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And so you, you let them get close to you, didn’t you? And when you shouted to Syd, he said, ‘Now!’ And Roy knocked his chap out and Pete – Syd knocked his person out and then you got the third one, didn’t you, and you bayoneted them all.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) Syd had got dysentery so he had one of the pair of trousers off them.
(MJ) [Chuckles].
(RC) [Chuckles].
(DC) Then you carried on, didn’t you? And you were so cold and you didn’t know what to do, ‘cause Syd was almost dying, wasn’t he?
(RC) He was.
(DC) And –
(RC) Syd Caldwell.
(DC) So –
(RC) He was - he almost died. Sad.
(DC) You were some vehicles, didn’t you?
(RC) Yes.
(DC) And you stopped, you left Syd for a while to recover a bit, he couldn’t get anywhere, could he really? And you went off to see if you could see who it was and it was the 11th Army Division was there.
(RC) Yeah, 11th Army.
(DC) From Lincoln.
(RC) Yeah. The Lincoln -
(DC) And you went up and put your hands up and they – you know – a bit dubious of you, weren’t they? But once they realised you were an escaped prisoner –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) They made such a fuss. Got you warmed up, hot drink, got – they went and got Syd in –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And you travelled with them for so long, didn’t you?
(RC) Yes, I did.
(DC) And he was actually fighting with them as they were travelling. Roy, but they wouldn’t let Syd, would they ‘cause he wasn’t too well and you, he was shooting at them and then all of a sudden a bullet came straight past his ear and just missed ya, didn’t it? And it - oh it got the officer, didn’t it?
(RC) It did.
(DC) Yes.
(RC) It went whizzing by me.
(DC) [Unclear]
(RC) The bullet went right by my ear, which I –
(DC) And you sort of fell on him to make out it got you as well, didn’t ya?
(RC) Yeah, it killed the officer, [indistinct].
(DC) And he’s going round, going to the houses, ‘cause it was a village and there were trying to clear it out. And he went to this one vill – house and an old lady came and she was crying, and she said, ‘My husband is tort’, meaning dead –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And Roy went got her some corned beef and bread that they’d made –
(RC) Yes.
(DC) Off the army lads and she was so grateful, wasn’t she? So it wasn’t all wicked. Were you? [Chuckle]
(RC) [Unclear] My mother’s tort is died. Got killed.
(DC) Yeah.
(RC) [Unclear]
(DC) And then you got back to Belgium –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And you were flown home in a Lancaster, weren’t you? Yeah.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) From there. But so much else happened in between, didn’t it?
(RC) Everything –
(DC) It was –
(RC) Everything happens in war, doesn’t it.
(DC) He was, Syd was a little bit impatient, I think, at times.
(RC) Yes he was.
(DC) And you couldn’t be impatient. And he, you were going and he said, ‘No, come on. Let’s go’ They’d come in to all these soldiers and they were all resting. I think they, were they Hitler Youth?
(RC) Was they what?
(DC) Hitler Youth?
(RC) Hitler Youth. Yes, they were.
(DC) When they put the guns up –
(RC) Hitler Youth. That’s what they were.
(DC) They were all resting and in the middle, they’d stacked all the guns up, like this. And Roy went in and talked in Germany, telling them off saying they shouldn’t be messing about like that and all this, and he said, ‘What about these guns here?’ You weren’t sure how to use them, were you?
(RC) No.
(DC) So he got one of them to show him how to use it and he went round the lot and shot the lot.
(RC) Yeah, they showed me how to use the gun, which I could use the gun. And I said, ‘Well, stay still. Stay still’, and I shot the bloody –
(DC) And another incident, they were on a forced march and there was chickens about the yard, so this lad come up to you, didn’t he and you said, ‘There’s some eggs under there’. And you said, ‘No, don’t touch them. They’ll have you if you take those’.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And the lad went away and, they, him and Syd grabbed them both. Oh, didn’t ya? But you gave this lad one and you had all the rest with your mates.
(RC) Of course.
(DC) [Laugh].
(RC) What’d ya expect?
(DC) Another one was, they were still on the march and they grabbed a pig, him and Syd.
(RC) [Chuckle]
(DC) And you squealed like anything, and you hit it on the head and all sorts. Couldn’t kill it could you? A little pig. A baby pig.
(RC) Yeah. A little pig.
(DC) And it squealed and you shut it up in the finish anyway. And the farmer had told the Gestapo about this, and they’d got this pig all sorted out and under the potatoes. They’d got potatoes on top of it. And the Gestapo were going round smelling the pots to see if they could smell it, but they never did. Did they?
(RC) No.
(DC) [Laugh]
(RC) No, no I had, I had a awful war. No wars are good.
(DC) [Chuckle]
(RC) But I had a bloody hard war.
(DC) Another time you spoke, Syd was with you, wasn’t he, yes and you were, you went by this, I think it was a farmhouse, I can’t quite remember now, but these Germans were laying asleep very early morning, and one was a officer, and you put your foot on his chest, didn’t you? And he says : ‘Photo, photo’, to try and get a photo out to show you and it was a gun he got, hadn’t he, so you shot him.
(RC) Well I had to.
(DC) He would have been shot.
(RC) He made out he just taking – he said, ‘Photo’, making out to taking the photo and he took a gun out. I mean I gotta shoot him. I mean it’s war, it’s war. War is war and you couldn’t have a photograph to shoot a bloke with you had a proper gun and I shot him which I had to do, but it was, it was just one of those things, and it was war, wasn’t it?
(DC) Hmm.
(RC) My last [indistinct] bloody shot down.
(DC) But that didn’t grieve you so much, did it? It was the 50 pound you’d left at the pub at Ludford Magna for your celebration. [Chuckle] He’s never got over that, have you?
(RC) I haven’t.
(DC) [Chuckle]
(RC) I had 50 pound when I was escaping –
(DC) Well it was all the crew put towards it, didn’t they?
(RC) And left it at the pub. And 50, and that was a lot of money then. It bloody is now. We lost it didn’t we?
(DC) Eh, hmm.
(RC) We had problems.
(MJ) How’d you lose that then?
(RC) Some thieving blighter.
(DC) Sshh.
[Both chuckle]
(DC) You got shot down, so you lost it.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) Yeah
(RC) The Germans were using real bullets and they shot us down. Rotten sods.
[All laugh]
(DC) Arh dear.
(RC) It was – for me, the war was a bit – wars are not good very good, are they?
(MJ) No, they’re not very good.
(DC) We –
(RC) Eh?
(DC) He suffered terribly with Post, Post Traumatic Stress and after the war he worked on the railways as an accounts clerk, and he would sit at the desk and he’d face the wall – bare, a sort of a wall and all of a sudden a Lancaster came through, straight at him, through this wall. And he went to the doctors and the doctor said, ‘Oh, take a couple of aspirin’. Well, you know, he said just had to put up with it from then on and –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) Then you had problems, didn’t you? He fell out of bed while trying to bail out of a plane a couple of times, didn’t you? And you were always restless, so the doctor sent you to see Mr Horner, the psychiatrist and he went through everything with him and he said, ‘You know, you shouldn’t be going through this’. He said, ‘You know, what about compensation.’ And, he got, Miss Drawner got him compensation for his stress. Well, well it’s a war, war thing -
(RC) War –
(DC) Monthly you get it. And through Mr Horner, he went into it seriously, ‘cause I - when we were first together he – when we first met - we were going – we – there was nothing to do when we were young, was there? So we sat in this pub and we went in there from work at six, half-past five and we sat in there all night, just the two of us. I had a drink, he had a drink. We never drank our drank, drink at all. We sat there all night, he just opened up and told me everything – more of less everything about the war. And he was saying how he suffered from this stress. Well throughout, you know, we got five children and I was saying, you know, to Miss Drawner, and I said, ‘The thing is –‘ I said : ‘There’s no way that a person can go through what he went through and not suffer stress’. And Mr Horner was writing it, all this down, and it’s since that incident that all this Post Traumatic Stress has come out through Mr Horner bringing it to light, isn’t it?
(RC) Hmm.
(DC) That’s how it’s all come about. Post-Traumatic Stress -
(RC) Yes
(DC) ‘Cause you never heard of it before, did you?
(RC) Never heard of it, no.
(DC) You know and he did a good job. And that was in the, about the mid-80s I think. Mid 80s it would have been.
(RC) Hmm
(DC) Yeah
(RC) What was that Post Traum- [indistinct] –
(DC) When you couldn’t sleep and used to shout out at night, ‘The Germans are coming’. And –
(RC) Oh yeah.
(DC) And things like that and you bailed out of bed to get out of your plane and that sort of thing.
(RC) Post Traumatic –
(DC) You used to do it often.
(RC) Hmm.
(DC) That was a bad time, wasn’t it?
(DC) Hmm.
(RC) Dreaming about the Germans and jumping out of bed, making out – thinking I was shot down when I was in bed. And I was thinking I was shot down and I bail out of bed, and I had a horrible life through that flying. Still here I is.
(DC) [Chuckle]
(RC) And there is – oh – and we love each other, don’t we?
(DC) Course we do.
(RC) And we got a good friend here.
(DC) There were coming round ready to land at Ludford Magna, and all of a sudden, they had a German that had followed them back and was shooting. You’d managed to get your wheels didn’t it, and you swivelled round on the on the runway and as they was shooting at the plane. They - a bullet went into the wall of, is it the White Hart opposite?
(RC) Oh yes.
(DC) Opposite it, isn’t it? And they, they recently patched it up in the last few years. But the hole was in the wall the wall for ages. And then the, was it - were they WAAFs that shot it down? WAAFs? They shot the plane down at the –
(RC) The WAAFs. The WAAFs did.
(DC) Yeah and they shot it down, and they were buried in Ludford Cemetery, but I think it’s been – they’ve been moved because we looked, didn’t we? A few years ago and there was nothing there, was there? So, that was another thing. You got away light there, didn’t you?
(RC) I always got – I always got away bloody light.
(DC) [Chuckle]
(RC) The Germans didn’t like me. I didn’t like them and whatever I did, I always got away lightly.
(DC) What when – when you were escaping that time and they said you were the person they were looking for.
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) Yeah, you could speak your German, couldn’t ya? What did- what did they say to ya?
(RC) They said [chuckle], he said [indistinct], what’d he say to me?
(DC) ‘You dis Englander?’
(RC) [Indistinct] ‘Englander’ I said, ‘Englander? Nien. Ich bein Deutsche. Ich bein Deutsche’. I had to make out I was bloody German.
(DC) You said you were an officer, didn’t you?
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) But you’d been wounded.
(RC) Yeah. And I had a bloody hard life. Yeah. I had to speak English and German at the same bloody time –
(DC) And previously you’d had a crash in a Wellington bomber in training and you had a - not through the crash, you’d had also been shot up and you’d had a piece of shrapnel go in your leg –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) and left a bad scar. So you showed them that where you’d been injured, didn’t you?
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) And they believed you then, didn’t they?
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) They you were a off – a German officer had been injured.
(RC) I had a - I had a very, very hard war. And I had, had to make out I was a bloody German officer when I was killing as many Germans as I could. ‘Ich bien Officer. Yah. Deutschlander’. And then they [chuckle] I had to make so much – bloody hard –making out I was a German officer. It was a hard world, wasn’t it Chook?
(DC) It was. Yes.
(RC) Yeah, but here I is. Here is oh [indistinct] [chuckle].
(MJ) How did you learn German?
(RC) Eh?
(MJ) How did you learn German?
(RC) I learnt German –I learnt German quite easy because when I knew what I was going to go through, I practiced German and I learnt German quite easy. I could speak it quite well, could I?
(DC) You could talk it perfect.
(RC) Eh?
(DC) When we went on holiday in Morocco, a good few years ago, and he was talking to this Moroccan in German, and the Moroccan said to him, ‘You can talk good German but rubbish English’. [Laughter]
(RC) Yeah, yeah. He said, he said, ‘Ich bien Englander’. And they said, ‘Englander?’ I said, ‘Englander. Deutschlander’. So he said, ‘Oh yeah, Deutschlander. Deutschlander is you. Englander is not you. You speak Duetschlander because that’s your life. Englander, you don’t speak it very well’. [Laughter] I – he had a bloody job to – he says –
(DC) Funny.
(RC) He was a German and I could speak fluent German, and I I can always speak [indistinct] fluent English, but he said, ‘Do not, you do not speak English. Nein’. He said, ‘You be Englander. Nien. You be Deutschlander’. And I had to be English, German and I had to be every bugger. I had a bloody hard life, but I enjoyed it. I got over the war. Just about.
(DC) [Chuckle]
(RC) I got about – I got about mark here. Have I got a face - mark on my face?
(DC) No, people don’t notice it now darling.
(RC) No, they don’t. I do they -
(DC) He had all his face smashed up in the – what the – can’t think of the plane now. When you had your plane crash in this country –
(RC) Yeah.
(DC) and your face was smashed, wasn’t it?
(RC) We had a plane crash and my face got all smashed up. And I couldn’t –
(DC) In the Wellington.
(RC) In the Wellington, that’s right. And I could only see out one eye. One bloody eye, but I got over it, didn’t I?
(DC) Hmm.
(RC) I had a very, very hard war but nobody has an easy war, do they?
(DC) No.
(RC) But I did have a hard war ‘cause the Germans didn’t like me. I didn’t like them. And [indistinct] had a hard war, but I’m still alive. And I still got a nice wife, haven’t I?
(DC) I don’t know, am I? Only you can decide that. [chuckle].
(RC) I had a hard war, but no war really is easy.
(DC) No, there shouldn’t be such things as wars. It’s a terrible thing.
(RC) No. They shouldn’t –
(DC) You just make you wonder why there has to be wars. The way people think it’s – it’s just you know. Just impossible really. Everybody’s at war at the moment, aren’t they?
(RC) Picture. You want a picture, don’t ya?
(DC) [Unclear]
(MJ) Yeah.
(DC) I was only 5 when the war started, and I always remember my father standing at the front door watching what was going on, and we used to sometimes, we used to go down in the cellar for protection or under the strong kitchen table or in the air raid shelter. We lived in the country on the Tamworth Road, just outside Sutton Coldfield, and we didn’t see a lot of the war at all really. When the, when the aeroplanes used to go over, my mother never did know, but I was absolutely petrified of the planes, and I’d either run in the house or into the farm buildings. It wasn’t until later I, I remembered things going on and my father said to my mother, ‘Mother, these Coventry’s getting it tonight’. And he said, ‘They’re really getting it badly’, and then a bit later we had a big bomb drop, we had a big garden so it was way away a bit, but we had a big bomb drop at the top of our garden in the field and they came to get it out. They tried pumping it out with water, and all sorts and to my knowledge, that bomb is still there. They couldn’t get it out. Then, the next thing I remember going in to Birmingham and seeing all the houses bombed and all up Aston and all through Birmingham, and all bombed out. It was a terrible sight.
(MJ) On behalf of the International Bomber Command, I would like to thank Warrant Office Royston Clarke and Mrs Diane Clarke for their recording at their home near Lincolnshire on the date of the 31st March 2016 at 4 o clock.



Mick Jeffery, “Interview with Royston Clarke and Diane Clarke,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 15, 2024,

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