Interview with James Froud. One


Interview with James Froud. One


James Froud wanted to be a pilot. He was interviewed in London and called up to Lord’s Cricket Ground. Having twice failed navigation examinations, he was re-mustered and sent to RAF Eastchurch for a gunnery course. From there, he went to RAF Bridlington, RAF Bridgnorth and RAF Stormy Down, where he crewed up. Jimmy went on to RAF Market Harborough where he flew in Wellingtons and RAF Husbands Bosworth, which was an Operational Training Unit. He flew in Stirlings at RAF Swinderby and Lancasters at RAF Syerston before joining 44 Squadron at RAF Dunholme Lodge.
Jimmy refers to some of his operations in France and Germany.
He was sent to RAF Warboys, a Navigation Training Unit, and swapped over to the Pathfinder Force. Jimmy refers to the corkscrew manoeuvre and LORAN navigation system.







00:20:37 audio recording


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DP: This interview is being conducted for the Bomber Command centre, the interviewer is Dave Pilsworth, the interviewee is James Froud
[Other] Froud
DP: Froud, the interview is taking place at Mr Froud’s home, in, Runnymead Green, Bury St Edmunds on the ninth November, two thousand and fourteen, time [pause] is eleven twenty-five
JF: I was in Kent, erm, I was, about twenty, I suppose, nineteen or twenty. I hadn’t been called up because I was in a reserved occupation, anyway, I went to, the erm, the RAF was very busy with, German invaders, fighters and bombers, and er, I thought I would go in and become a pilot, [background noise] a spitfire pilot of course, [background noise] and er, [pause] that was all very well, anyway I went [pause] to, London, for an interview, and I can’t remember quite where it was, but it’s a well-known centre, for the RAF, I had an interview, had a medical and then was put on the reserve list, and, I was reserved for a year, one thing that annoys me about it is, is that I, was issued with a little silver badge, which goes in your lapel, and, I very quickly lost that [laughs] which was unfortunate, so everybody thought I was skiving, anyway, not everybody, perhaps. I finished up going into the service, and I was called up to, Lords cricket ground for [unclear] and then we were put in some, billets which were fairly new flats, opposite Regents Park, [pause] one thing I had to have done when I was in very quickly, because I wasn’t very well, but I had to have a tooth out, having that out, must have upset me because I was then very quickly put into, a, sick bay which, was a house within, Regents Park, whether that house is still there I don’t know, and that of course, I missed the squadron that I was with, anyway, I was put in another squadron eventually, erm, [pause]
DP: Interview paused
JF: Torquay, and er, eventually, failed the navigation exams, so I then went to Paignton, and repeated them, and failed them again, so I was then sent to Eastchurch, and er, remustered to [unclear] course, from there to Bridlington, Bridgenorth, and finally Stormy Down, which was a, flying airfield just perched on the coast, in the south of Wales, erm, from there, I think we met up, a number of members of air crew, bombers, bomb aimers, gunners, wireless ops, navigators and pilots and gunners, I said gunners, and we just made a crew up, you weren’t allocated a crew, you just sorted yourselves out, we then [unclear] we went to Market Harborough, were we flew in, [unclear] what did we fly in, Wellingtons [emphasis] [laughs] and from there, [background noise] we apparently went to Husbands Bosworth, which again was one of the operational, er, no, what where they called, the place, yes, it’s O.T.U, operational training unit, and from there, we went to Swinderby, and flew in Stirlings, which we didn’t like a lot, well I didn’t [laughs], and the next move was Syerston, for, changeover to, Lancasters, I stayed there about two months roughly, this was in May, nineteen forty four, from Syerston, can’t remember the antics we got up to there, but I do remember going to Nottingham, to a dance, just before we started flying, and er, came back, it must have been early afternoon, since it’s May, June, area, and er, we were on top of a bus, saw a Lancaster circle round and then it suddenly, nosed dived straight into the deck, not funny, what a first experience, we must have been absolutely stupid, because we didn’t take any notice, we carried on, and [pause] were then, er, finished some training there, which was mainly for pilots and I did a little bit, er, we went to Warboys, ah, no we didn’t, sorry, we went to Dunholme Lodge, from Syerston, and we were there apparently two months, er, let’s have a quick look through the book, switch it off for a minute
DP: Interview paused
JF: And this, [pause] in forty-four, so I was twenty-two wasn’t I, we finished on Stirlings, on the fifth of the fifth forty-four, and my next reference is, for Lancasters, and that must have been at [pause] Syerston, and that was on the, tenth of the fifth forty-four, my, record keeping may not be all that good actually
DP: Interview paused
JF: Circuit and landing, erm, Mitchell, was our pilots name, and the instructor was Flight Lieutenant Singer, and then, having done dual circuits and landings, we did solo, circuit and landings, and we did that at twelve thirty five so, ten fifteen we were doing the first circuit and landings, at twelve thirty five, we were doing solos, that’s the part of pilot, of course to fly, and I just sat there in the turret and looked out for enemy aircraft, over England, not a lot, I mean, so, most of [background noise] there was circuits and landings, circuits and landings, circuits and landings, all pilot practise, oh, there’s something I did, but erm, fighter affiliation, gyro, corkscrew, that was for my benefit [unclear] half an hour, no sorry, fifty minutes, that’s not half an hour, fifty minutes, and then [pause] [background noise] it’s obviously moved, [background noise] to Dunholme Lodge, [pause] it doesn’t tell you were it is [background noise]
DP: Interview paused
JF: And there’s a town in France, Aunay-sur-Odon, I remember the Wing Co saying ‘down the bloody drain’, you don’t have to put that in, [laughs] the next one was [unclear] [background noise] and the third one wasn’t so funny, they were two fairly easy ones, the third one was Wessling, Germany, where we were hit by flak, we got seventy holes in the aircraft, erm, [pause] we’d got back, we’d lost an engine, this is from memory, and er, the skip, control, the skipper did three over shoots, on the good three engines, it’s not quite so easy to fly an aircraft, is it, and erm, control called up and said ‘you are number twenty on the circuit, you’ve got the circuit to yourselves, take your time ’ more or less, erm, [pause] we actually lost twelve aircraft, from the airfield, [coughs], now, I’ve forgotten the number of the other squadron, both squadrons had lost six, now that’s a heck of a lot of people to be missing, but, we didn’t really know any of those people, we’d only been on this squadron, a short while, we’d done three trips and, we were billeted in Nissan huts, although we’d got a mess, to go to, we didn’t really know any, or very few of the other crews, we’d got another crew in the hut with us, two crews to a hut, they had survived that episode, and er, we can’t continue flying with 44 Squadron, which incidentally, was a Rhodesian Squadron, er, flying Lancs one and er, and Lancs threes, so, [background noise] we continued [pause] I don’t know whether I read [background noise] [unclear]
AP: Interview paused
JF: I can now, France and Germany, we went through Wessling so once we went through, I ducked down, so they didn’t spot me [laughs] they didn’t know we’d dropped the bombs on them [background noise] [unclear] forty-four, Creil, where ever that is, France apparently, oh, then we had a little go at Stuttgart, eh, the second one to Stuttgart, DNCO, that was duty not carried out, starboard outer US, return to base, oh this wasn’t nice, by the look of that, erm, where did we go then, Gavourres, France, Lyon, Lyon, is that correct, which is right the other end of France, erm, and I’ve got port engine, badly damaged, petrol tank holed, and, as far as I remember, that was a Lancaster below us, had, made a hole in the aircraft, erm, I remember, it actually hit, the tramways, that my ammunition went up, you know they went a bunch of mates to the rear turret, filled up from the bottom and stopped those working, it upset the navigator, the wireless op, the way through, that, fortunately nobody was hit [emphasis], er, but er, I’ve got, port engine badly damaged, petrol tank holed, Gavourres, Lyon, [unclear] [background noise] [unclear] where’s that, I don’t know, Gavourres, Lyon, now, we then, the powers that be had obviously wired up what, the bomb aimer, who acted as a second instrument operator, erm, I can’t think of the name of the set, [unclear] there was H2S and there was another one, and they, were good at operating them, so, they sent us to Warboys, there’s an NTU, I can’t recall what a NTU meant, it’s a training unit, and we just did er, five hours, thirty five with them, and that was a swap over to Pathfinder Force, erm, now my first operation, first two operations with them, were to Danzig and Stuttgart with Warrant Officer Price, so, I was obviously a spare gunner, I remember the chap whose place I took, mind you, he was killed later on or lost, [background noise] but, that’s life, here we go
AP: Interview paused
JF: [unclear], like that, like that, like that, then came up like that, so, so, you changed, er, if a fighter was coming in from here, you went like that, he missed you, and all the object of that corkscrew was, so that he couldn’t get a bead on you, he couldn’t, another set they operated was a LORAN, L-O-R-I-N [spelled out] and it’s still being used that type of radar now, in today’s aircraft, LORAN.



Dave Pilsworth, “Interview with James Froud. One,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 19, 2024,

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