Interview with Roy Eric Davidson


Interview with Roy Eric Davidson


Roy was born in Lincoln in 1933 and was six years old when war broke out.
He left school at the age of 15 and went to work for Lincoln City Council in the Pension department and was called up for National Service in 1951, doing basic training at RAF Padgate.
Roy volunteered for aircrew, and went to gunnery training at RAF Lakenfield. He joined 61 Squadron in April 1952.
Roy took part in Exercise Sunray in Shallufa in 1953 and then in Exercise Kingpin, which was radar bombing on the Ruhr.
He also took part in the Queen’s coronation flight on 15th July 1953.
Roy flew in the Avro Lincoln throughout his service until he was demobbed.
After he was demobbed, Roy returned to Lincoln Council as Pensions Manager, working for 49 years until his retirement.







00:56:42 audio recording


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MC: This interview is being conducted on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre, the interviewee is Roy Davidson, the interviewer is Mike Connock, and the interview is taking place at Roy Davidson’s house in Lincoln. Right, I think we’ll start with, if you could just tell me a bit about where you were born Roy, when and where you were born.
RD: I was born in Lincoln in 1933, my mother worked as a bus conductress, and then at Marks and Spencers, my father was unknown, and I went to school in Lincoln, a City School, the old City school on Monks Road. Went to work at the Lincoln Corporation, became pensions manager for Lincolnshire County Council, the holiday camp that was in 19[inaudible].
MC: Yes, can I stop you when, when you obviously you were born in ‘33, so what was life like as a child then between ‘33 and say, ‘39?
RD: I lived on terrace, a terrace house in St Nicolas Street.
MC: A good childhood?
RD: Yes, yes, yes.
MC: Yes.
RD: It was quite a place.
MC: Yes, so obviously when war broke out, you were six.
RD: Living in St Nicolas Street, I was on the flight path for Scampton and I used to hear the Lancs coming over, of course you don’t realise at six year old what’s going on but you could hear them coming over, you could hear the engines playing up sometimes, you could hear them coming back, [inaudible] opposite St Nicolas Church on the final, on the final approach for Scampton, and I used to listen to the aircraft coming over but didn’t realise what was going on.
MC: So obviously that was up to ‘39, and then obviously during the war you were sort of, you know, a youngster and -
RD: Yes, that’s right.
MC: Growing up, so by ‘45 at the end of the war you were?
RD: I was twelve year old.
MC: You were twelve years old, so what was life like for a young man during the war?
RD: Ok, well, different in that, well at that age you don’t realise what’s going on, do you really, I mean the thing I remember about the war in St Nicolas Street was the old air raid shelter, they used to build these air raid shelters on, on the roads, on the main roads, on the main street playing football against it, against the air raid shelter [laughs]. But when I was at school, if there was an air raid alert, we used to go to the Wesley Chapel.
MC: Yes, so therefore you, what age were you when you left school then?
RD: I left school when I was fifteen.
MC: What did you do?
RD: Went to work for Lincoln City Council, in the pension, the superannuation as they called it in those days, department with a guy called Bert Joyce, who was my boss, who was a super chap, he was a great, I think he was the chairman of the Lincoln amateur dramatic society, and Gilbert and Sullivan society, so that’s how my interest in Gilbert and Sullivan came from him. And the thing I remember about the City Council was a guy called Harry Rogers who was a deputy treasurer, he was a keen golfer and so was I, and he came in the office one day with Pete Hopkinson, the chief accountant, and said, I was in charge then and he said, ‘are you busy?’ ‘yes I’m really snowed under’. He said ‘we’re looking to have a person to make up a three ball [inaudible]’, so I said, ‘I’ve no chance, I’m too busy’. He said, ‘look, I’m the boss and I’m ordering you to come and play’, and during this round of golf, [inaudible] score the Mercado, there you go he was a great Gilbert and Sullivan fan and I’ve seen it two or three times.
MC: So are you?
RD: Yes, I was yes.
MC: So obviously you got, as a National Serviceman you got your call up papers.
RD: Yes in 1951 and I was, I went to Padgate, It was [laughs], the thing I remember about Padgate was, one of the unique things was you couldn’t take food out of the cookhouse, on Sunday morning, people were having a lie in, so one of us was nominated to go to cookhouse, we used to get a stack of bread, put it on our head and put a hat on, walk back to the [pause], you didn’t want the bottom slice.
MC: Yes [laughter] so at that time did you know you were going to be aircrew, I mean.
RD: No after I’d been in about, I went in August, about 2 months, the doors had been opened.
MC: Was it basic training at Padgate?
RD: Yes, well I’d just finished my drill course, normal reception course, when the door opened, they were looking for National Service aircrew, so I volunteered, went down to RAF Hornchurch, was offered pilot or navigator for eight years, signal engineer, gunner national service, so doing my national service I was very tempted half a dozen times to sign up. Frank was always on me sign on Roy sign on, but I tried to get a national service commission in the Fleet Air Arm, I fancied that, went down to HMS Daedalus on the Solent for interviews. But the thing I remember about the interviews at Leigh was, there was a Naval engineer board and there were around a hundred of us and, when it was your turn, you went to the top table there were three piles of cards, you picked [inaudible], went out for five minutes, and had to come back and had to give a five minute talk on what was the subject on the three cards, I got constitutional monarchy, mass production and colour televisions, no chance [laughter].
MC: So that was for the Fleet Air Arm?
RD: That was for the Fleet Air Arm, yes in there.
MC: So you, you obviously volunteered for your air gunner then?
RD: Yes, yes.
MC: Yes, and so following that, obviously your air gunner training started.
RD: Yes, I went to RAF Lakenfield, did a 20 hours flying, it’s in the log book there.
MC: Yes.
RD: At Lakenfield and the thing about Lakenfield was we, I was, I played top class table tennis in those days, I played John Leach the world champion once, and we had a very good table tennis team and we thought we were going to win the RAF cup, we got to the quarter final and we were playing West Kirby at Liverpool, and as I was on the train to West Kirby at Manchester. I stuck my head out of the window, and somebody shouted the King had died, he died that morning, and so we got to West Kirby and all leave was cancelled, all social activities were cancelled, I had to get back next day for an examination at the, on sighting at the gunnery school, and we started the match at 7.30 in the morning. I played my two and went back [inaudible] Lime Street at Liverpool, we got back to Lakenfield, but the thing was about that, my, we thought we were going to win the RAF cup and my posting, every fortnight the flights passed out, one went to Bomber Command, two weeks later, Coastal Command, two weeks later Bomber Command. Mine was scheduled for Coastal Command, but we were in the quarter final of the RAF cup and they, when, you could play if you were stationed you’d left up to three months after you’ve left, the Bomber Command Station was Scampton the Coastal Command was St Mawgan down in Cornwall, we thought we were going to win the RAF cup, therefore they re-flighted me held me back a fortnight, so that it was a Bomber Command posting instead of Coastal Command posting, otherwise I should have been down on Shackleton’s. These things happen and then we got knocked out.
MC: So your gunnery training was on Lincoln’s was it?
RD: It was on Lincoln’s yes.
MC: You started on Lincoln’s, [inaudible]
RD: I went to Scampton, Scampton was a 230 OCU in those days, it was just closing as we arrived and then they moved it to Waddington, so I went with it to Waddington, and did my training on the OCU at Waddington and then was posted to a squadron at Waddington, 61 Squadron.
MC: So you joined 61 Squadron, how many, how long were you doing your gunnery training, how long was that, how long did that take?
RD: If you could look at the dates on there, Mike, it shows you flights doesn’t it?
MC: I was just looking where you went to 61 Squadron in April ‘52, that would be right. [pause] So what about the flying, Lincoln flying did you -
RD: I enjoyed it was about 600 hours in a Lincoln, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world really. At the OCU at Scampton the way you crewed up was interesting.
MC: Oh yes that was, yes, I was going to ask that.
RD: You were all in a room, there were eight crews, eight gunners, eight signallers, eight flight engineers, sixteen navigators, and eight pilots and you just wandered round and chatted to whoever came to chat to you, and Frank Ercliff came across and he said, chatting away, he said, you know, ‘yes, you’re a nice sort of guy, would you like to join my crew?’ and that was it, that’s the way your crews were made up and he was a smashing guy.
MC: They did that throughout the war.
RD: Yes, its mentioned in, got a book on Lancaster’s and Lincoln’s.
MC: So were there any other National Servicemen on your crew?
RD: I think Ken Gibbs was.
MC: Yes.
RD: I think, I think he was, the way Danny joined us was half way through my two years, the flight engineer Ken was de-mobbed and Danny joined us, Danny Sinclair.
MC: And was Danny, was Danny?
RD: I think.
MC: Was he a three year man or -
RD: I reckon so, I’m not sure, I don’t think he was National Service but he stayed with us, we got on ever so well.
MC: Yes because as a National Serviceman, you did have the option of making it three years didn’t you?
RD: Yes I did, that’s right, yes, and I think Danny probably did.
MC: Yes.
RD: Yes, but my skipper Frank was on to me 3 or 4 times, you ought to, I think at one stage I thought I will sign on and with my flying hours, I will go again for the Naval Air Service, I think, with my experience of flying at that stage of my, I might have got in the Fleet Air Arm.
MC: Or coastal command?
RD: Or coastal command, yes.
MC: Yes, so what about, did you, did you get abroad with the Lincoln did you?
RD: Yes I went to where the Exercise Sunray at Shallufa, here’s the medal to prove it. Ismailia and Calica, there were hostilities then so they were out of bounds, we went to the WO’s and JO’s club at Fayed, on sand yachting. In 19-, we took off at Shallufa at 0015 hours on the first of January 1952.
MC: What was that for?
RD: That was for Exercise Sunray.
MC: Oh right.
RD: Kingpin, on the first of January ‘52 I think it was.
MC: And that was to Shallufa.
RD: ‘52 or ‘53, call it ‘53.
MC: Yes ‘53, yes [pause] yes, so you, so you flew into Idris in January ‘53?
RD: Yes and stayed the night there, then flew on to Shallufa, the thing I remember about that flight along the North African Coast, Benghazi, and Alemaine, flying just off the coast, on a beautiful day looking down at the debris on the desert in some places, flew into Shallufa, I were a month there on exercise had a few days in Cyprus from Shallufa.
MC: And Nicosia?
RD: Nicosia yes.
MC: You obviously did a lot of hours, what about the, you obviously had one or two mishaps, you certainly had, the crash you had did you?
RD: Ah, that was at Waddington, yes.
MC: So was that after you came back?
RD: That was after we came back yes.
MC: So what happened there with that?
RD: We were there to see, well part of the exercise we were to see firing off of the, we used to fly off the coast at Wainfleet, there was a bombing tower at Wainfleet. We flew about five miles out to sea and threw an aluminium sea marker out the turret a stain, big stain and we used to fire at this, [inaudible] and I became a select gunner, he assessed how many bullets hit the target. But the thing I remember about Shallufa, back to Shallufa was, we were air to ground firing down at targets and the local occupants or whatever you call them now, from the rear turret, when you fired the cartridge ejected into the, into the slipstream and down they went, if you catch any of these things these cartridge shells, and we had, the targets were set big white sheets and as you flew over the target, the pilot would tell you ‘target coming up now’, and it was way, way passed, so we had a system, Frank and I, he says, ‘target ready’, and I had to start firing about ten seconds before the target appeared [laughter].
MC: [laughter]
RD: So I got some hits and I became a select gunner.
MC: You had a good team?
RD: Well yes, these occupants of, Egyptians catching these shells, from the mid upper turret, well we didn’t do any secret firing from the mid upper turret, air to ground firing from the mid upper, mid upper the cartridge shells went into two bags by your legs, but in the rear turret they ejected out of the turret. And we [pause] -
MC: All the Arabs use to collect the shells?
RD: Whether we hit any I don’t know but yes, it was a dicey business.
MC: So all the hours you did, you did obviously, mainly exercises and training.
RD: Yes, we did a lot of air to sea firing off Wainfleet, air to ground firing in Shallufa, and we had one short spell of air to air firing [inaudible] drove off Cyprus.
MC: Oh right.
RD: So we practised all three targets.
MC: So when was the, if you’re alright to talk about it, the incident that you crashed?
RD: That was in September ‘52.
MC: Waddington, oh was it? Oh so that was before you went to Shallufa was it?
RD: Well no, I went to Shallufa in January, January ‘52.
MC: ‘53?
RD: ‘53, yes.
MC: So the, so you had, this is mixed up, ah September the 6th, ‘52 yes.
RD : Ah.
MC: Well that’s, well that
RD: Before Shallufa was it?
MC: Ah yes, 3rd September, yes, so you, what actually happened?
RD: We came, we came in to land, we were overshooting on, we came into land on three engines, we feathered one engine, so we’d got three engines, we’d just stopped one engine feathered, and we were three engine overshoot and we decided to land. As we landed, there was a very, very strong cross wind, we got a very heavy landing and the wind turned the aircraft and we were heading, we thought, towards the main field dump and the number 4 hanger and Frank, I was in the rear turret, but Frank knocked Ken’s hand away, and was following through on the throttles, the flight engineer and opened the engines up. Well of course, we had lost all our stalling speed on three engines, you can’t accelerate, and we staggered across the airfield, just missed number, number 4, it was number 4 or number 5, just missed the hanger anyway. Went over the roof of the married quarters, we were as close to the married quarters roof as we are sat here, and across into a field into the middle of the married quarters. Frank shouted ‘brace brace’, what we did Mike is, we used to do these escape drills one week to Scampton, where there was a Lincoln wired up to create any sort of [inaudible], and next week to Cranwell, to the baths at Cranwell to do the wet dinghy drills. So you would act instinctively which was what it was all about. On the wet dinghy drills you got a maewest, a maewest suit tied tight between your legs, and you jumped in, you went down and the suit didn’t and it was a bit [gasp] and my job was always to upright the one man dinghy, which came out the wing. We used to practice releasing the dinghy at Scampton on the mock up and I had to right, and the damn dinghy always inflated, was set to inflate, always inflated upside down, so I had to get on the dinghy and throw myself backwards to right the dinghy, and I was under the dinghy then [laughs], its funny, that was at Scampton, but this was at Cranwell, aye Cranwell. So it was one day at Scampton, next day at Cranwell but the, so Frank opened up the, well we staggered across the airfield, we’d got flaps down, and we staggered across the airfield and crashed into the married quarters.
MC: So Frank actually tried to open the throttles to go off again.
RD: Yes, yes.
MC: You know but it wasn’t successful.
RD: Yes, yes, and I think, I don’t know whether he got a severe reprimand or not, I don’t know, but all I do know is that we flew the first flight afterwards, was two or three days later and talk about funny tummies. We flew with the Squadron leader of Shallufa to see how the squadron, mine laying off the coast of Norway, and the ships, it was dark and the ships on the horizon seemed to be higher than you.
MC: Yes.
RD: Optical illusion, then they said that we had the choice of not flying together with Frank or staying with Frank, we all decided to stay with him, because there was no doubt about that.
MC: So you flew for quite a while without Frank then?
RD: Yes, yes, he was suspended.
MC: Yes, couple of months I suppose.
RD: Yes.
MC: You flew a couple of months without Frank, and then you all elected to fly with him.
RD: To fly with him again yes, except the flight engineer, they moved him across to another crew.
MC: Oh did they?
RD: Because he was on this throttle business, Frank was moving to closing the throttles and Ken was behind him doing, and Frank knocked his hand away. He shouldn’t have been able to do that. So we went into the married quarters.
MC: So you don’t, did Frank, was he suspended or did he just [inaudible]
RD: I think he was, they grounded him for a while, and -
MC: I mean, It must have been a traumatic experience.
RD: Oh yes, yes.
MC: So you all go out again?
RD: We had an ATC Cadet with us flying and they all went out the front end except for me, and, as I said I went out the rear door but the aircraft was on fire when I got out, you don’t know much more about it, you just get as far away as you can.
MC: Did you have any, anything on board, any armaments on board, any bombs or anything like that?
RD: Fortunately not because I had been air sea firing off, and I’d used all my ammunition so we’d no live ammunition on board.
MC: So had you flown many operations, many flights in that aircraft? Did you have a regular aircraft?
RD: No, we didn’t no.
MC: It was all different.
RD: No, [inaudible]
MC: So, as you say, unique in National Service Aircrew.
RD: Yes.
MC: And then of course you did the Coronation.
RD: Coronation flypast when she reviewed the RAF at Odiham.
MC: You did a lot of training for that?
RD: Yes, yes, you’ll see formation flying.
MC: Yes, so yes that would be in ‘53 wouldn’t it? Yes, that was, obviously you went to Shallufa, came back from Shallufa in ‘52, didn’t you? And then ‘53 was the -
RD: Queens Coronation. That cutting you’ve got there, 800 aircraft.
MC: Oh that started, sorry.
RD: it shows you how many aircraft were on the ground and how many in the air.
MC: Yes, so you had quite a lot of aircraft in the air.
RD: That was us, we were Red Two, flying in formation in Lincolns, that’s some of the flight formation and I was from the rear turret, and the aircraft behind me is probably 20 yards behind me, I were making rude gestures at the pilots in the aircraft behind me [laughter], but we had plus or minus 15 seconds I think it was, on the, on the arrival part so we went over the Queen in perfect formation then it was absolute chaos, there were aircraft fast ones and slow ones, aircrafts all over the sky, and we, we flew over Brighton and came up the East Coast back to Waddington. [pause] When I was in Shallufa, we were coming home from Shallufa, we flew back to Idris and then we were held up for a day at Idris, because it was the day of the East Coast floods. We didn’t know anything about these floods and they were playing cards, and we were suddenly put back a day so we had another day at Shallufa, at Idris, and then we flew back and came up the East Coast. You could see all the floods, no idea what was going on. The panic was, we had some cherry brandy on board I think, for the officers mess [laughter], which we ought not to have had, and it was touch and go whether we got into Waddington, because we thought we were going to have to go to Lynham, now the customs at Lynham were a bit more strict than those at Waddington. I think we got into Waddington with half a pint of fuel left, we just made it.
MC: So you did a lot of formation flying then?
RD: Yes, yes.
MC: Practising for the Queens Coronation flight.
RD: Originally, ones sent on the runway, off he went, then another one, by the time the ninth went, there were nine of us there were, the first one was a long way away, so they then decided to put all nine aircraft on the runway, stack them like that, and one went and when he was halfway down the runway, the second one went, and therefore the slipstream was a bit tricky.
MC: When was the Coronation flypast then that would be in?
RD: It’s on there, look.
MC: Oh 15th of July [pause]. Ah yes, that’s right; here we go, so you were airborne for quite some time
RD: Yes.
MC: So that was from Waddington
RD: From Waddington, there were nine, it gives you in there the formation of the number on the flight, number of Lincolns, we flew with nine from Upwood and Helmswell think it was. Its shows you the [pause], It’ll tell you the numbers it has in it [pause].
MC: So how many aircraft did you say were in the Coronation Flypast?
RD: Well the total about 800.
MC: 800, yes, and there was as many on the ground as well at least [inaudible].
RD: There was more on the ground yes, I mean I shouldn’t think there’s that many aircraft left in the RAF now.
MC: Yes [laughter]
RD: But it tells you there, pass it to me Mike, I’ll show you, [inaudible] ground, there look.
MC: Yes there’s quite a lot of aircraft isn’t there, you know, from Oxfords, Ansons, Lincolns, [inaudible] Shackletons.
RD: And the funny, I’ll tell you a story about that.
MC: And the Avro Vulcan prototype, that was interesting, yes.
RD: [laughter] The ground crew drew lots to fly on the flypast, because only nine aircraft, there were more ground crew so they drew lots, there was a large Taffy guy with us, and we gave him a sickness bag or whatever you call them and he was ill, the slipstream was so bad, there was so many aircraft, he was ill from the moment we took off to the moment we landed, and we landed, still clutching his bag, he fell out the rear door just in front of me, collapsed against the rear wheel of the Lincoln and he said, ‘I could watch the bloody thing on television’. I can hear him saying that now, ‘I could watch the bloody thing on television’, god, he was poorly, I felt ever so sorry for him. He was delighted because he’d drawn lots and he was chosen to fly with us, so there were nine aircraft from Waddington from our squadron anyway, I think 100 had got some as well but yes, ‘could have watched the bloody thing on television’, he said.
MC: So what other squadrons were there at Waddington when you were there?
RD: 49.
MC: Oh 49 was at Waddington, yes, yes.
RD: and 100.
MC: [inaudible] come from Scampton.
RD: And 100 and 61.
MC: Three, three squadrons.
RD: Because that guy from Norway who wrote to you, didn’t he?
MC: Yes.
RD: Said that could you tell him anything about his father, and you sent it to me because you knew I had been there at that time, and his Dad wasn’t on our squadron, and I can’t think he was on any of the other two squadrons, because you got to know the pilots on the other two squadrons as well, and I wrote to him and he mentioned as he was a six year old boy walking with his Dad, down the main street at Waddington when he saw the Lincoln I was in crash. I mean, there’s a chance in a million that, he was delighted, I’ve got the correspondence there, delighted that I’d got in touch with him and he really was -
MC: [inaudible] oh good.
RD: yes, so I took a copy of all the correspondence [inaudible]
MC: So when did you finish your flying? It must have been shortly after the coronation.
RD: ‘53, August ‘53, I asked, the squadron were going to Nairobi on the Mau Mau, and I asked to stay on, I asked to stretch my National Service and stay with the crew but they wouldn’t let me.
MC: So the crew remained and you were replaced?
RD: I was replaced yes, Danny went to Nairobi.
MC: Oh right.
RD: But I was de-mobbed and, didn’t want to be de-mobbed but [laughter].
MC: You didn’t [laughter] That was a shame yes, so obviously, after that you went back to your normal job.
RD: Yes, I became Pensions Manager at the County Council.
MC: Oh right.
RD: In charge of the 13,000 contributors and about 13,000 pensioners as well. I had a staff of 13, and I stayed there until I retired.
MC: Oh right.
RD: And when I retired, I’d been, other than the two years in the RAF, I’d been 49 years, I was the longest serving employee on the County Council payroll.
MC: So having joined the RAF, you were stationed at Lincoln, near Lincoln?
RD: Yes.
MC: That could have gone anywhere, couldn’t it?
RD: But I stayed on Bomber Command for the table tennis, they thought they were going to win the RAF cup, I could still play for them when I was at Scampton, even though we were a Lakenfield team. If I’d have been camped at Mawgan, not a cat in hells chance of getting back, it didn’t work out, we got beat.
MC: So, going back slightly your gunnery training, so obviously you were Sergeant aircrew?
RD: Yes.
MC: When, when were you made a sergeant, was that after your gunnery training?
RD: Yes, I can remember now.
MC: Before you joined your squadron?
RD: Yes, yes.
MC: Before you went to the OCU?
RD: Before OCU, but I, the thing about that was the brevet, you know the air gunners one, I was so proud of that, that I walked down the main street at Hull, like this [laughter] sideways, walking sideways, with these wings, but -
MC: In Hull
RD: Yes, Lakenfield you see.
MC: Oh of course yes, I see what your saying now, yes.
RD: So I walked down the high street in Hull sideways [laughter].
MC: Its lovely, yes.
RD: Whilst I was in the RAF, my navigator Caz Percula got married, married a girl from Dinington, they married in Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, and the crew went to his wedding. Well I don’t know much about it, I mean, they were so hospitable, got all a load of stuff about for his wedding, and -. Then you’ll find this interesting, I saw Frank in ‘53 when I was de-mobbed and I heard about him because a guy Jack Hinchcliff played at Torksey, and he knew, he was a driving of the heavy goods tester and Frank was when he came out of the RAF, and he used to talk to me about Frank being at Blackpool, he knew he was at Blackpool. I got a phone call one day from Torksey, would I ring this number and speak to a Mr Hurcliff, and I said to Eileen, ‘well, Frank said no that’s not his number the std was for Ipswich not Blackpool’. I didn’t know he’d move to Ipswich to be near his son, and Frank had rung the six golf courses round, he knew I played golf, from days gone by and rang the six golf courses round Lincoln, have you got a Roy Davidson on your, and Torksey said we have but they wouldn’t give him my number, but they gave me his number, I rang him up, that, that, I saw him in ‘53, and that was 2003, 50 years.
MC: So you didn’t meet for 50 years?
RD: No, no and then we got very friendly, he stayed here to come to reunions.
MC: Yes.
RD: and -
MC: So basically, did you ever get the crew together again, all told, because you had, you, Frank, and Danny?
RD: No when we were at Waddington, he was a flying officer, I’m yes sir, no sir, on base, but off the base, you are a crew and the set ups different, used to go round Frank’s for meals. When I met him after 50 years, his wife had died and his daughter Wendy was about 4 year old when I last saw her, is married to an American Army [inaudible] and they used to come and stay with us, and his wife had died and he met this lady, Joan, and we got an invitation to his wedding. The bride was about 90 and the bridegroom about 92 or something you know, in the 80’s, and we went to his wedding, we went to his birthday party, and to his wedding and then went to his funeral as well, the obituary things in there.
MC: So when you got together in 2003, obviously Danny was at the reunion?
RD: Well what happened then
MC: Were there any other crew there?
RD: No what happened then was Danny was a member of the aircrew association, as I was, and it showed Frank joining, he’d just joined then, and I’d not been a member long, and Danny spotted my name and Franks name on the new arrivals, new, and got in touch with us, so then Danny myself and Frank. Danny knew where the [pause] David Leeson, the navigator was from Brigg, and I rang, oh there was an aircrew listing of Lincolnshire members of the Association and there was a Leeson. So I rang this number, it wasn’t him, and this guy said, ‘leave it with me, I’ll do what I can to find him’, and he rang me back and he said yes there is a David Leeson who’s living near Wolverhampton, and so I rang him and it was the David Leeson I wanted to speak to, you know that he’s not well at all now. He knew Caszis, the Polish guy, Caz Pecula, he knew his number in London, Basingstoke, so I rang him, he was the other navigator and at one stage on the reunion, there was myself, Frank, Danny and Ken the flight engineer, there were four of us out of the six but the two navigators couldn’t make it, and David’s not very well and Caz, the one whose wedding we went to [inaudible].
MC: Its interesting that you only had a crew of six, I never realised that, you know, I mean obviously I suspect early days in the Lincoln, they would have had seven wouldn’t they?
RD: Yes, yes.
MC: But
RD: Yes, [inaudible] in the middle turret, yes, the middle of the turret was a strange contraption, it rotated, I don’t know if you knew this, as the turret rotated you know, and when the guns are facing the back of the pilots head, it’s on a cam.
MC: Yes, its called a scarf ring.
RD: That’s right yes, so you don’t shoot the tail plane, you shoot the pilot [laughter], yes.
MC: Yes [laughter]. But you did both you did mid-upper turret and [inaudible].
RD: Yes, I trained on the mid-upper turret and the rear turret.
MC: Yes, but when the Lincolns that you flew, did they still have the mid-upper turret?
RD: Just for a while, yes.
MC: Yes.
RD: That would have fired 20mm cannon shells; the rear turret was point five Brownings.
MC: Point fives.
RD: Yes. Two, point five Brownings and we used to, we didn’t do much flying mid-upper, because it was the H2S Radar placed [inaudible] you know.
MC: Yes, yes.
RD: And they took the turrets out, so I was rear turret, and we used to land in the rear turret, until we had the crash, and they stopped me landing, I was de-mobbed soon afterwards anyway.
MC: So you used to vacate the rear turret when you landed were you saying, oh you
RD: After we had the crash, before we had the crash I used to land in the rear turret.
MC: Was there a reasoning behind that? I don’t know.
RD: No, no, I don’t know why they stopped me flying in the rear; it was only for about a month or so because I was de-mobbed [inaudible].
MC: Yes, because you were de-mobbed then, yes.
RD: But [pause]
MC: Thing about a rear turret?
RD: There was a thing, the thing of the rear turret was if you had to eject from the aircraft in the rear turret, you rolled out backwards. Oh I’ll tell you, let me tell you a funny tale, on the night flights, you had in flight pack, food, but you couldn’t have it in the turret, it was just outside the turret, just there, just within the fuselage, and the fuselage was cold, you were warm in the turret so when you got your in-flight pack in the turret it was, not like a block of ice, but cold. In the in-flight pack was a boiled egg, that was fairly solid, frozen, so I used to lob it out the turret, so if you got hit on the head with a hard boiled egg in Lincolnshire, I probably threw it out the turret.
MC: So your suit was, you obviously had a heated suit in the rear turret?
RD: Yes, I was ok, well we hadn’t got heated suits, the turret was warm.
MC: Oh was it.
RD: Other than when the aircraft in Egypt, when the thing had broken down, it was cold then but in the war they had heated, yes.
MC: Heated suits.
RD: Yes, and then we used to get a, another thing we got a bar of chocolate for every two hours we flew but, you didn’t get the chocolate until the end of the month, if you remember you were flying [laughter].
MC: [laughter]
RD: So you’d come home with about 30 bars of chocolate, I wasn’t with Eileen then, [inaudible] she was very keen on chocolate.
MC: So when did you meet Eileen then?
RD: About 1956 was -
MC: Ah yes.
RD: I knew, I knew
MC: You were a civilian?
RD: I knew Dennis, I knew Dennis, Eileen’s brother, before I knew Eileen. I used to go out before our Eileen, because when I said to my friends when I first met her, it was always Denny Worrall’s sister, this is Eileen, it was always Dennis, remember Dennis?
Eileen: Dennis yes.
RD: Sister.
Eileen: Oh.
RD: I’d say its, Denny Worrall’s sister, I played tennis with Dennis so instead of saying this is Eileen, this is Denny Worrall’s sister.
MC: When did you get married then?
RD: 1960.
MC: Good memory?
RD: When did we get married, Eileen?
Eileen: Sorry, what was what?
RD: When did we get married? 19?
Eileen: When did we get married? in err -
RD: This is Denny Worrall’s sister [laughter].
Eileen: We got married in 2000 [inaudible]
RD: 1960.
Eileen: 1960, we had our Golden Wedding, didn’t we?
RD: This is Denny Worrall’s sister, Mike, that’s your five minute probation, five minute talk.
MC: Yes, you’ve got, as you said recently, you went to the Fleet Air Arm for your testing, then you did the, that was part of your testing was this five minute preparation talk, and then you, and then obviously in August ’51, you volunteered, you volunteered for aircrew.
RD: [inaudible] five years [inaudible] National Service at RAF Lakenfield.
MC: So going back to some of the flying you did on 61 squadron, you say the Wing Commander flying was Willy?
RD: Willy Tate was Wing Commander.
MC: Willy Tate of the Tirpitz, yes, yes.
RD: And he, we always reckoned he flew, he flew, very occasionally to mates to keep his flying time, he had to do so many hours.
MC: Yes, and your different exercises, like Exercise Kingpin.
RD: Kingpin, Radar bombing on the Ruhr, that was quite a sight.
MC: When were you flying over the Ruhr?
RD: Over the Ruhr at night yes.
MC: And then you did night flights training, long nose Meteors.
RD: Yes, with the Radar.
MC: Yes.
RD: I used to sit in the rear turret on exercise and see this aircraft catching you up, and when I fired, on my guns, was the call sign watsit [unclear], but it was a call sign so when I pressed the tit, my call sign flashed to him, if mine flashed to him, before his flashed to me I’d shot him down and it was all bona fide. We, when we came into land, we were de-briefed as they were during the war time, it was a proper de-briefing, and there used to be a mass dash for Birmingham, we were dispersed at Birmingham and then came into land at Waddington. If you were at Birmingham first, you got the pan nearest the main hanger at Waddington, if you last you were at the other side of the airfield, so it was all as during the war.
MC: So you did pathfinder training as well, marking -
RD: We had path finding instructions, the master bombers they went in like they did during the war, and we got on the RT bomb on the red marker he dropped a flare.
MC: Yes.
RD: They used to mark the target, Gibson were one, wasn’t he? He was killed flying Meteors.
MC: So you did [inaudible] bombing targets in Wainfleet, Donna Nook.
RD: Yes, yes there must be a sea full of fire axes off the coast of Wainfleet, because on the door behind me, the two doors that came like that, there was the fire axe strapped to the door, and as you fired, the doors were like that, they went like that you know, overlapped, and therefore there was a gap by the side, and I went to fire, I lost two or three fire axes like that yes, as you fired the juddering.
MC: They came loose?
RD: They came loose and you’d got a gap then, if you’re firing on the beam, out went the fire axe. Those escape drills, the Lincoln wired up for, halfway down the page escape drills, there’s the wet dinghy drills.
MC: Oh at RAF Cranwell yes, yes. But you did parachute jumps?
RD: You were offered [laughter] nobody took it up, there’s Caz Percula, he was marvellous, there is a newspaper cutting somewhere, I don’t know much about it, I’ve got a photograph on the back of there, the wedding party.
MC: Caz Percula he was your -
RD: Navigator.
MC: Navigator, yes.
RD: David Leeson was the guy on the radar, Caz was the actual navigator but he was an RAF tennis champion as I say, he played at Wimbledon,so I played tennis for Bomber Command and he played tennis for the RAF. Tiger Moth, that was funny and Frank used to say, ‘let’s go for a ride in the moth’, he put it down as continuation training, there was no navigation aids, so we used to fly down across the field up the high street looking over the sky, down Portland Street, back up, that’s Waddington, that was the way.
MC: So you had a Tiger Moth on the station?
RD: Tiger Moth on the station, yes.
MC: Just the one?
RD: Just the one, yes.
MC: Yes, yes, yes.
RD: Skeet shooting, we used to have to return the cartridges, I could take 50 cartridges out go down the range fire at the, the skeets you had to take back 50 empty cartridge shells.
MC: Could anybody do this or was it just air gunners?
RD: No it was just the gunner, we had the flight simulator as well the mock up, that corkscrewed.
MC: You did, I mean obviously you practised corkscrews?
RD: Oh yes.
MC: [laughter]
RD: And Danny was on his RT and suddenly he would call, ‘what the hell’s going on?’ you know, the corkscrew, like that, and of course first time he knew about it was we were moving and he was on his RT, he couldn’t hear me talking to the pilot. Coronation review flypast.
MC: Yes, you talked about the flypast the Coronation Flypast, you did Spithead did you, Navy at the Spithead, Spithead review?
RD: Well that, that’s when she reviewed the Navy at Spithead.
MC: Ah right, yes.
RD: She reviewed the RAF at Odiham.
MC: Yes, yes [pause], now you mentioned about the ground crew collapsed, you were saying he could have watched it on the -
RD: On the bloody television. We got thrown out of a nightclub in Nicosia, we got thrown out, two of them were riding round the dance floor on bikes [laughter], this orderly sergeant brought out by David, I was orderly Sergeant, he was orderly officer and I fell asleep during the afternoon and missed the six o’clock parade, now any other officer I’d have been in serious trouble but David took it for me didn’t report it.
MC: What’s WO’s and JO’s in club fayed, Warrant Officers and Sergeants, Junior officers?
RD: Yes, Sergeants and Warrant Officers, WO’s and JO’s, yes, at Fayed. You had to check for your boots for snakes, that was a basic requirement first thing in the morning, knock your boots, that you got a snake inside it. Return to Idris. Yes that delayed 24 hours, that strong head wind, that was the weekend of the East Coast floods.
MC: Yes, yes.
RD: We came in over Canvey Island, what the hell’s going on down there, we had no idea, while we’d been held up, cherry brandy at Lynham customs. Hardboiled egg, there’s a bit about the hardboiled egg.
MC: Yeah [laughter]
RD: You get it on, from 20,000 feet.
MC: A hardboiled egg yes.
RD: Another mission on board and got 4 days [inaudible] severe rep, [inaudible].
MC: So you were in hospital for a while after the crash?
RD: 4 days, just 4 days.
MC: Yes, so you just had a -
RD: [inaudible] damage, new engineer Ken Lang, the other ones that were in the crash had been de-mobbed and Danny joined us, it was funny with Danny, inside you used to go in the aircraft through the rear door with me and we used to take over with engines running, and if they’d done a five hour flight, as I say, used to come into the pan, we would, the crew would replace the crew getting out, and inside the rear door was a little step ladder which hooked on, and up the ladder you went in the rear door, but the ladder was never there, so I was fit I could jump in the door with the engines running because the slipstream was, but Danny couldn’t get up was too fat [laughter]
MC: Just go back to that, you’re saying a crew would land an aircraft with the engines running and they swapped crews?
RD: Yes, with the engines running.
MC: [inaudible] taken off.
RD: With the engines running.
MC: With the engines still running? oh I never realised that.
RD: As I was saying you get a bit of slipstream.
MC: Yes, yes.
RD: And the door was a bit high poor old Danny couldn’t, so we used to haul him in, grab an arm each and pull him in [laughter] [inaudible]
MC: So the C/O is Hoochella, you flew with him?
RD: Huchala.
MC: Huchala, you flew with him, used to fly quite low did he?
RD: Yes he was a strange guy, fly, there’s a photograph on the back of there of the squadron party.
MC: You say you were mine laying off Norway.
RD: Yes we were yes, fairly low and it was dark and optical illusions that the boats, the lights of the boats on the horizon seemed to be higher than you, and we’d just had the crash, that was the first flight after the crash, so you got tummy wobbles anyway, you know, because they got you back in the air as soon as they could and you got the ooooooh.
MC: Oh after the crash yes, you were [inaudible]
RD: It was the first one first flight after the crash.
MC: Oh my word, yes, yes.
RD: He was a Canadian flew us, Huchala, Squadron leader Huchala, he was he guy that was getting the squadrons flying hours in and that’s why we flew, we did so much flying, see 600 odd hours in 18 months is a lot of flying really.
MC: Yes yes, [pause] its interesting. You mentioned GCA at Mildenhall and Sculthorpe, is that ground controlled approach?
RD: Well, yes, we the PA [inaudible] sticks out, near the pilot, and you take the cover off and it records your airspeed, and they’d left the cover off erroneously so we had no idea how fast we were going and therefore we couldn’t land at Waddington, because the runway was about only half of the length of the one at Mildenhall, so we went to Mildenhall, made sure that we were going faster than we’d normally go, to make sure we didn’t run out of runway at the end, and that why we went to Mildenhall.
MC: Oh right, I was going to say did somebody -
RD: There was all hell to pay, somebody got a rocket yes.
MC: Get in trouble for that?
RD: One of the ground crew yes.
MC: Yes, goodness me.
RD: I saw a joke, he made me laugh in somewhere, these old ladies talking to the pilot, it was a flight engineer, and she said to the guy, she said, ‘what’s he doing’, this bloke was inspecting, moving bits around and, and this guy said to this old lady, ‘oh he’s the pilot, he’s trying to find the door’, he thought she was nervous, thinking who is he, it’s the pilot trying to find the door [laughter].
MC: So Frank tried to get you to stay on?
RD: Yes.
MC: I mean was that when you were due for a de-mob?
RD: No two or three times he wanted me to stay on, ‘you ought to stay on, Roy’.
MC: So did you have that option when you were, when you came to the end of your National Service?
RD: No, I think I would, if I’d have a post I would have taken it, but they didn’t try to tempt me I would have had to say I’m interested based on re-muster.
MC: Yes yes.
RD: But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
MC: Yes?
RD: I had a great time, I think with playing table tennis as well If you’re a sportsman, I always remember at Padgate when I was on recruit training, we played football at eight o’clock in the morning, two teams, one in our team was Peter Broadbent, he used to play for Wolves, and you had skins and vests, you tossed up and if you lost the toss you were skins, this is on a November morning in the middle of winter, you know. [pause] yes, the photographs at the back there.
MC: Yes its interesting Roy, thanks very much for your time.
RD: That’s ok, no problem at all.
MC: And well get this put on the digital archives.



Mike Connock, “Interview with Roy Eric Davidson,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 2, 2023,

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