Interview with Bernie How


Interview with Bernie How


Bernie How was 14 when war was declared and remembers aircrew socialising at his father's pub. He volunteered for the RAF at 17 and trained as a flight engineer on Stirlings. He describes a crash on take-off in a Stirling. He completed 35 operations, initially on Stirlings and later on Halifaxes flying from RAF North Creake with 199 Squadron. His operations included mine laying, bombing over Germany and patrols over the Channel dropping Window as part of the Normandy campaign. After their pilot was thought to have panicked during an operation, he and his crew were suddenly taken off operations. He then served in air control prior to demobilisation in 1945. He discusses his crew and how they kept in touch, attending reunions for many years.




Temporal Coverage




00:34:17 audio recording


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AHowB161116, PHowB1601


BH: You’ve parked in the yard have you?
DK: I’ve parked in the yard. Yeah. Is it ok there?
BH: Yeah.
DK: Yeah. Yeah. So this is David Kavanagh for the International Bomber Command Centre, 16th of November 2016, interviewing Mr Bernie How.
BH: No E. H O W.
DK: H O W. Yeah. Ok if I just leave that there. If I keep looking down I’m just making sure it’s still going. I’m not being rude. Alright. What I would like to ask you first of all Mr How, what were you doing immediately before the war?
BH: Well I was at school. I was born in ’24. So when war broke out I was fourteen.
DK: Right. And what, what made you then want to join the RAF? Was there anything that drove you?
BH: Well the next village, which was Freckenham, there’s a big house there. It was owned by a lady-in-waiting to the Queen so it’s name was Freckenham House and the RAF commandeered it, put air crew to sleep there rather than sleep on the station.
DK: Yeah.
BH: So they could get sleep.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Away from where possible bombing you know. And of course these air crew, I was born in a public house –
DK: Oh right.
BH: So we was the centre of activity with them. It was only five minutes’ walk from there, Freckenham House, to my dad’s pub.
DK: Right.
BH: And they used to flood the place you know. And of course they –
DK: They liked to drink did they?
BH: Well liked to drink. Liked to chat. The stories what they were going through at that time.
DK: Yeah. Yeah.
BH: Some were like this, even then.
DK: Really. So what year would this have been then?
BH: This would have been 1940/41.
DK: Right.
BH: Yeah
DK: Ok.
BH: Early part. They were flying Wellingtons mainly at the start and of course they’d come down and we was kids, we wanted to know all about what they were doing and you got chatting to them. You got to know them as Bob, Harry, Jim or whatever and I thought to myself I’d like to do that and that’s where it started. As I grow into the fifteen, sixteen, seventeen I volunteered for the RAF.
DK: So you were seventeen when you volunteered then?
BH: I was seventeen when I volunteered and I weren’t quite eighteen when I got my number. In other words I was in the air force before I was eighteen.
DK: Right. So where, where was your initial posting to then? Where was it?
BH: Well we went to Cardington where everybody –
DK: Yeah.
BH: Went then. And thousands upon thousands and thousands. Got your uniform and your number and then we was posted to, or I was, to Skegness to do what they called then square bashing.
DK: Right.
BH: In other words –
DK: Yeah.
BH: To learn a bit of marching and then eventually I found my way to Cosford on a flight mechanics course.
DK: Right.
BH: There was nothing from the RAF then to say I would eventually be air crew.
DK: Oh right.
BH: But during the flight mechanics course they come round, different sergeants or warrant officers or whatever they were, ‘Any volunteers here for flight engineer?’ So I volunteered ‘cos you got through the flight mechanics course and the next posting was RAF St Athan where you trained to be a flight engineer and that was it.
DK: So, what, what did the training as a flight engineer involve then?
BH: Well sitting around a desk and listening to a corporal or a sergeant or even someone higher telling you all about the aircraft you had chosen.
DK: Right.
BH: To fly. Inside and out to quite how many tanks were in each wing and how much they held and the general feeling of the, of the aircraft itself.
DK: Yeah.
BH: And I went in for Stirlings. They come around before you’ve done your course. Would you like to fly Stirlings, Halifax or Lancasters or whatever? Well I volunteered for Stirlings so therefore everything was –
DK: Based on the Stirling.
BH: Yeah. On the course.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Course we eventually passed and I came to a place just the other side of Cambridge known as Wratting Common. I don’t know whether you’ve heard of it.
DK: Yeah. Yeah.
BH: A conversion unit. My crew had already been together two or three months flying two engine aircraft.
DK: Right.
BH: So they were posted to Wratting Common for a conversion unit to four.
DK: This is the heavy conversion unit.
BH: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: This is when I joined them.
DK: Yeah.
BH: So they’d known each other for several weeks or even months before they met me ‘cause they didn’t have engineers on a two engine aircraft.
DK: So what did you think when you first met your crew?
BH: Well they come, you just sit there and eventually the pilot come up to you and introduced himself and this kind of thing. And he said, ‘Would you like to be our flight engineer?’ ‘Oh’ he said, ‘What’s your name?’ I said, ‘Bernie.’ He said, ‘Would you like to be my flight engineer Bernie?’ ‘Yeah. That’s ok.’ And that was it. I joined them and we started flying at the conversion unit and eventually finished up at Lakenheath.
DK: Can you remember your pilot, the pilot’s name?
BH: Oh yeah. He was Canadian. We had three Canadians in the crew actually. His surname was Harker.
DK: Harker. Right.
BH: H A R K E R.
DK: Right.
BH: He was, at that time, a pilot officer.
DK: And he came from Canada.
BH: Yeah. Three of them come from Canada.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Him, the navigator and the rear gunner. Yeah. Two from London. Myself here and the mid upper gunner lived in Bury St Edmunds.
DK: Did you feel quite confident when you met your crew for the first time then?
BH: Yeah. I wasn’t very big as you can see but I was a confident little person you know. Yeah.
DK: And did, do you think they had confidence in you as well?
BH: They must have done. Whether they talked to someone before they approached me I don’t know. I never asked that question but I have a feeling they may have done.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So at the heavy conversion unit then the whole crew then trained there.
BH: That’s right.
DK: Initially.
BH: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: And trained for a few weeks and eventually a posting come through. We was moved to Lakenheath and joined 199 Squadron.
DK: 199 Squadron.
BH: Yeah. And that’s where I started off.
DK: So all your operations then were on Stirlings or –
BH: No. We converted. What happened was after Lakenheath we moved because Lakenheath runway started breaking up.
DK: Right.
BH: So we had to move somewhere else and we went to North Creake in Norfolk.
DK: Right.
BH: And the other squadron what was there moved to, not far down the road to, still in Norfolk, I forget the name
DK: Ok.
BH: But they went there and we went to North Creake.
DK: So at this point had you flown any operations at all?
BH: Yes.
DK: Right.
BH: We flew about eight from Lakenheath.
DK: Right.
BH: Yeah.
DK: All on Stirlings.
BH: All on Stirlings yeah. Then we went to North Creake and continued there and one particular night we’d got mines on board, sea mines what we dropped in different coves in France or Germany or wherever. On take-off we crashed.
DK: This was at Lakenheath or –
BH: No. This was at North Creake.
DK: North Creake. Yeah.
BH: We crashed and nobody was hurt much. The pilot got knocked about a little bit.
DK: Oh.
BH: But we were just leaving the ground and the tyre burst and down it went bang bang bang and the next day the pilot went into hospital. Not for long. Had some minor injuries and after he come out we was posted to a place in Yorkshire to convert to Halifaxes. Riccall in Yorkshire.
DK: Was, was the problem with the Stirling‘s undercarriages at all? Is that why it -?
BH: Yes. Yeah.
DK: Did you actually come off the runway or did you -?
BH: No. We were still on the –
DK: Runway.
BH: We finished on the airfield, off the runway but -
DK: Yeah.
BH: We hadn’t left the ground hardly. May just about have. Very close, you know.
DK: Was that a bit worrying with the mines on board?
BH: Well that was the thought, yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: But we were all young. I was only nineteen I think.
DK: Yeah.
BH: You hadn’t got a lot of care in the world really.
DK: So how, as the aircraft has crashed how did you get out? Were you got the escape hatches or -?
BH: That’s right. Well the normal entrance to our, that’s the one I got out of. I think, I think the pilot scrambled out of his hatchway.
DK: Right.
BH: Because by that time we was not high. It was low on –
DK: Yeah.
BH: The undercarriage had gone and it wasn’t a big drop.
DK: So what was your thoughts then about the Stirling as an aircraft?
BH: I thought it was a beautiful aircraft. To fly especially. The problem was it couldn’t get the height.
DK: Right.
BH: I think its maximum was about thirteen or fourteen thousand where the Lancaster and Halifax could reach up to twenty thousand
DK: Did you feel a bit exposed at those low levels then?
BH: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: But once up there. A beautiful aircraft to fly. Yeah. It was really.
DK: So on the Stirling then you were the flight engineer. What would your role be?
BH: Well mainly there was fourteen petrol tanks. Seven in each wing and mainly to control them as one, gradually making sure you didn’t lose the balance. In other words not too much left in there or not enough in there and that kind of thing. Control of the petrol. That was the main job but we also had to watch out for, you was also a stand-by gunner if anything happened to the gunners.
DK: Right.
BH: So you had sort of a little training before to fire a gun if necessary and -
DK: Did you, did you help the pilot, sorry, did you help the pilot at all or –
BH: No. That was mainly, in our case the bomb aimer.
DK: Oh right. Ok.
BH: Really, when you think he hadn’t got a lot to do until you got where you was heading for so he used to mainly sit in the number two seat.
DK: Right. So you would be sitting behind them.
BH: Well we didn’t, as an engineer we hardly had a seat.
DK: Oh. Right.
BH: I think there was a lift up. What I remember you could just have a seat but mainly you was up and down looking at the engines and –
DK: So for the duration of the raid you were mostly standing up then.
BH: Walking or standing. Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: Can you remember any of the places you went to with the Stirling or -?
BH: Oh.
DK: Obviously some were mining operations.
BH: Yeah but yeah, the Frisian islands which was up North Germany.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Getting towards Russia.
DK: Yeah
BH: That was a dodgy one. As you’ve heard talk just recently of the navy having a convoy -
DK: Yeah.
BH: To Russia. Well that was mainly the same although we was up there and they was on water it was mainly a similar route to what they were taking.
DK: Oh right.
BH: And that was a, a dodgy one.
DK: Did you, did you fly on the Stirlings to any of the German towns and cities at all?
BH: Yes.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah. In fact the last one was a small town and the name was Plauen or Plauen. It was a small town something like the size of Ipswich or Norwich. We bombed that and this is the last, last trip we had.
DK: Right.
BH: We didn’t know it but that was and what happened we dropped the bombs and then the normal procedure is to bank around outside the target and head for home. Well our skipper panicked. He must have panicked. He turned around and went straight back over the target again so we were meeting other aircraft what were coming in. How we didn’t hit one we’d never know. Nothing was said on the way home. We was dead quiet. No one hardly spoke. They knew –
DK: Yeah.
BH: What had happened and we arrived and debriefing and one thing, nothing was said at the time but the next day, about midday, we was finished flying.
DK: Right.
BH: I didn’t have any reason at all. We’d, mind you we’d done thirty five trips so we was getting, but it was decided that the pilot had panicked.
DK: Right.
BH: And he probably wasn’t fit to carry on so the whole crew was disbanded.
DK: So you did thirty five operations all together then.
BH: Yeah.
DK: And how many of those were on Stirlings?
BH: Well, Halifaxes, I would think, at a guess this would be.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Stirlings would be something like twenty two or twenty three. Something like that. And the rest were Halifaxes. Yeah.
DK: So, so you, you were moved to, from the Stirlings then to the Halifaxes.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So you moved base as well then did you?
BH: No. We went up to Riccall.
DK: Riccall. Right.
BH: To convert to Halifaxes. That’s where the Halifaxes were.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Mainly in Yorkshire. Nearly all Halifaxes up there and we was up there about three or four weeks and converted and we come back to North Creake.
DK: Right.
BH: And North Creake was then –
DK: Halifaxes.
BH: Nearly all, gradually overtook.
DK: Yeah. And that was still 199 Squadron.
BH: Oh yeah.
DK: So 199 Squadron converted from the Stirling.
BH: That’s right. Yeah.
DK: To the Halifaxes.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So you were then flying the Halifax. What was your opinion of that aircraft?
BH: Well as I said a little while ago it could get much higher. I think it was lighter and it was probably a little bit more compact. Yeah. It was a lovely aircraft.
DK: Would you have a preference over the two types? The Stirling to the –
BH: I loved the Stirling and I think the whole crew did. Probably when we was taken off, I wouldn’t say it was tears but we were disappointed that we weren’t going to fly a Stirling anymore but the Halifax was good. Yeah.
DK: Yeah. So as a flight engineer on the Halifax then what was your –
BH: Similar.
DK: Very similar.
BH: Similar.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So you’re watching -
BH: Yeah.
DK: The petrol tanks -
DK: That was my main job. Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: The only other thing what may have went wrong? If the engines overheated well, we had to, what we called feathered them. In other words stop them.
BH: Yeah.
DK: Did that happen on any occasion? You had to -
BH: Oh yeah we came home on three engines.
DK: Yeah.
BH: A few times. Yeah.
DK: And what, what had caused the engine to be shut down? Was it damage or –
BH: Overheating or things like, or wasn’t powerful enough and the pilot, we called him the skipper, then would say, ‘Bernie something wrong with the inner starboard. It’s not pulling.’ Then we had a chat about it we called what they called feather it. That’s when the props -
DK: Yeah.
BH: And went back onto three. No doubt that was done hundreds of times in different aircrafts.
DK: Yeah. So when you got back after an operation then how did you feel then as you arrived back at base?
BH: Relieved. Yeah. We used to go in for debriefing and you had a little drop of rum. That was a recognised thing. Then you went back to the mess and had a meal. It could have been anything from midnight to 8 o’clock in the morning but the meal was there. They were waiting to cook you a meal.
DK: Yeah. And the debriefing then was that, was that very intense? Did they ask you lots of questions?
BH: Well they wanted to know what had happened. What you saw. Did you see any fighter aircraft? Did you? Anything really. Yeah.
DK: So was there any occasions when your aircraft was damaged by flak or night fighters?
BH: Yeah. We got hit once or twice. Not seriously. We did get one engine hit so we had to stop that one.
DK: Yeah.
BH: But not as bad as some of them. Some were really bad.
DK: So there was no occasion you were attacked by aircraft then.
BH: Well we was attacked by them but not, not intense. No. No. They were probably floating around seeing anything and if they happened to see a bomber they’d fire and hit it or miss it.
DK: Yeah.
BH: And they’d move on to another one or, yeah, that kind of thing. Yeah.
DK: Can you recall any of your targets then over, over Germany or was there -
BH: What, the towns?
DK: The actual towns, yeah.
BH: Well we went to this one. The last one -
DK: Yeah.
BH: Plauen. We went to Dortmund. Cologne. Just the normal, you know the ones.
DK: Was Berlin one at all?
BH: No. I didn’t go to Berlin.
DK: You didn’t. No. Ok.
BH: We didn’t go to Berlin. We didn’t go to, where was the other big one?
DK: Hamburg.
BH: Hamburg. We didn’t go to Hamburg. No. I lost a friend. He lived in the next village. He was a flight engineer too and he was stationed in Yorkshire on Halifaxes and he copped his lot after five trips, over Hamburg. And they haven’t found anything of him or his crew since.
DK: No.
BH: So he was blown to bits. That’s what we all assumed anyway.
DK: Yeah. Yeah. So of your thirty five operations then what, what, did you do after that?
BH: Well we was all went different places. I think the three Canadians went to Canada back. Not together necessarily.
DK: Yeah.
BH: And I finished up in air, air control. Flying control up in Inverness. A very small station.
DK: Right.
BH: There were very few aircraft and I worked there and stayed there until we finished with the RAF.
DK: And what year was that you came out the RAF then?
BH: Late, late ‘45. I’m not too certain of the month but late ‘45. Yeah.
DK: And what was, what was your career after, after the RAF then? What did you do?
BH: Well I left the building trade when I joined and I went back.
DK: Right. So looking back now after all these years how do you feel about your time in the RAF?
BH: Enjoyed it. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Yeah. We did really. Yeah. Because you met different people and that kind of thing.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah. We really enjoyed it. Yeah.
DK: Did you, were you able to stay in touch with your crew at all or -?
BH: Oh yes. We had numerous –
DK: Reunions.
BH: Reunions. Mainly in Leicester because Leicester was central or near central as you could get.
DK: Yeah.
BH: And we went there several years, once a year.
DK: The Canadians as well did they -?
BH: Yeah.
DK: Come over? Yeah.
BH: Well the whole squadron.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Squadron reunions. I mean everyone was invited but we started off, I think the first one was around about a hundred and forty, a hundred and fifty attended but of course that gradually went down. People was ill or died. The last one we attended was eighteen.
DK: Right.
BH: And the chappie who organised it decided that, you know, that was it. So he got up on the last one and told us that this was the last reunion. Yeah.
DK: The last reunion for 199 Squadron.
BH: That’s right. Yeah.
DK: Are any of your crew still alive do you know?
BH: No. They’re all gone. Yeah.
DK: And can, can you name the whole crew still or -?
BH: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
DK: Blimey. Who was, can you name the gunners?
BH: Yeah. Stan Pallant.
DK: Yeah.
BH: And Stanley Pallant was the upper, upper gunner.
DK: Yeah. The rear gunner?
BH: The rear gunner was a Canadian. I just forget his name now. Anyway, the bomb aimer was Alf Salter, come from London. The wireless operator was Harry Durrell. He come from London. The pilot’s name was Ernie Harker as I told you, come from Canada. The navigator was Johnny Russell, come from Canada. The mid upper gunner was Stanley Pallant, come from Bury St Edmunds and the rear gunner was, I know his name as well as my own but he was the odd one out. He, he didn’t socially mix with us. Very seldom. All the rest, at North Creake there was a pub off, just off the station. It was The Black Swan but it was always called the Mucky Duck so it always arranged for the Mucky Duck. I just can’t think of the rear gunner’s name.
DK: It will probably come to you.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So did you find that was important then to socialise with your crew and -?
BH: Oh yeah. The crews mostly were an item. They did probably talk to other members but you mixed mainly with your own crew nearly all the time.
DK: And, and was, there were officers in your crew as well.
BH: Oh yes.
DK: And was that an issue with officers and non-officers or did they -?
BH: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: They met. They socialised together.
BH: Oh yeah. Very much so yeah. You didn’t know them as officers. They was Harry or Alf or whatever, you know.
DK: And you think that was very important for the crew.
BH: Yes. Oh yeah. Definitely. Yeah, I’ve got a picture of the crew somewhere. Oh. That might interest you. That’s me there.
DK: Oh. Oh wow. This is –
BH: War pictures on the inside.
DK: [unclear] Oh right. Members of a Norfolk airfield. Key role in wartime operations. [pause] So this is about RAF North Creake then.
BH: Sorry?
DK: About RAF North Creake.
BH: North Creake. Yeah.
DK: So the control tower is still there then.
BH: Yeah. That’s now a bed and breakfast.
DK: Oh yes. Of course it is. Yes. I keep meaning to pay them a visit actually and stay there the night.
BH: Yeah. They’re in operation there. I know them well. Both of them, you know.
DK: Is this your actual aircraft that crashed then or was it –?
BH: That’s the one, yeah
DK: That’s the one.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So that was September 1944.
BH: Yeah. I’ve got a picture of it.
BH: Well that’s my crew.
DK: Oh right. Ok. And that’s the Halifax behind it.
BH: That’s the Halifax. Yeah. [pause] Yes, interesting paper really.
DK: Yeah.
BH: That’s the aircraft again.
DK: Oh wow. So that’s where it’s, it’s taken the wing off hasn’t it?
BH: Yeah. The wing come right off one of them. Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah. Well that’s all the Stirling. That’s all different.
DK: The Stirlings. Yeah.
BH: Just a book of Stirlings. Yeah.
DK: That’s actually the photos from there isn’t it?
BH: That’s the one again.
DK: So that’s the Short Stirling in action.
BH: That’s right yeah.
DK: So that’s the squadron signal publication. Aircraft number 96.
BH: These are just pictures taken at Lakenheath.
DK: Right.
BH: That’s taken at Wratting Common. That’s more.
DK: Are those, those are sea mines aren’t they?
BH: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So you were carrying two of those –
BH: That’s right.
DK: When you crashed.
BH: Yeah.
DK: Oh yeah. I see here it says sea mines on the back.
BH: That’s the aircraft again. Yeah. We’ve got different bits of paper. That’s the crew, the whole crew of –
DK: 199 Squadron.
BH: You’ll find us down there somewhere.
DK: So this is all the air crew that served with 199 at some time.
BH: At that time.
DK: At some point. At that time. Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: There you are. Yeah.
BH: That’s North Creake.
DK: Yeah.
BH: I hadn’t had that long actually.
DK: I must pay a visit at some point.
BH: Yeah. Bed and breakfast. They’ve got the whole control tower. I think they’ve got four bedrooms. Yeah.
DK: So that’s the crew there then. So that’s. Where are they?
BH: That’s the crew. Yeah.
DK: So if I, just for the recording here so this is, that’s Harker there is it?
BH: The one with the hat on yeah.
DK: That’s Harker. So from left to right.
BH: Stanley Pallant.
DK: Stanley Pallant.
BH: Harry Durrell from London.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Myself. That’s the one I just can’t think of his –
DK: Right.
BH: That would be on here.
DK: Is he, is he listed on there?
BH: Yeah. Sewell.
DK: Sewell. So kneeling down there is Sewell.
BH: Then –
DK: Harker and then –
BH: Bomb aimer. Alf Salter
DK: Alf Salter, right.
BH: And Johnny Russell. The Canadian navigator.
DK: Right.
BH: Yeah.
DK: And I noticed here just in the article it mentions about, so you flew on Operation Overlord.
BH: Yeah.
DK: Yeah. So what was that like then? Did you realise what was happening when you –
BH: Oh yes.
DK: Went on operation? They did –
BH: Briefed.
DK: So at the briefing they told you that was –
BH: Oh Yeah.
DK: That was D-Day.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So what was your role then on D-Day?
BH: Well it was a similar thing. We patrolled over the water, you know, the Channel, dropping things to disrupt their, the German navigator or whatever.
DK: Their radar.
BH: Radar. Yeah.
DK: So what was it you were dropping then? Was it Window?
BH: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Kind of. Yeah.
DK: So you were dropping Window then to disrupt the –
BH: We were just hoping that would distract them. It probably did. Yeah.
DK: So can you remember how long you were in the air for over Normandy doing this?
BH: Well the trip itself from the station, four to five hours. So we were probably hovering around there for three hours anyway. Yeah.
DK: And did you see any of the ships then?
BH: You could see about - we were flying around about five thousand I think. You could see action. Yeah.
DK: So you could see the invasion fleet.
BH: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: Yeah. And was the sky quite crowded then with aircraft.
BH: Oh yes. Yeah. All sorts, yeah.
DK: So at the briefing then and they told you this is, this is D-day what was your feelings then?
BH: Well we probably shook for a minute or two you know. Mind you I think the whole country knew it was coming.
DK: Right.
BH: Probably the people living near where they left from. They knew more than lots of people knew.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: And, and so you got back from the D-Day operation. How did you feel then about the –?
BH: Well then we heard the story in the papers and different things. What had happened?
DK: Yeah.
BH: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: So your operations then were all in 1944 were they or -?
BH: No.
DK: ’43. ’44.
BH: Mostly I think, I don’t think, early ‘44 and we mainly went into ‘45 as well.
DK: Right.
BH: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: So your thirty fifth operation was –
BH: Yeah.
DK: Was in 1945 then. And that’s when you were taken off operations.
BH: Yeah. It was very sudden. You know we went to bed that night. No knowledge of finishing.
DK: Right.
BH: The next day we was on the train to Yorkshire.
DK: How did you feel then knowing you didn’t have to do any more operations?
BH: Well we didn’t know exactly then but we had a good idea that was it.
DK: Yeah.
BH: That we wouldn’t be recalled and that kind of thing and we went up to that big place in Yorkshire near Darlington. There’s army there, the navy and air force. I forget the station name now. We all went there and that’s where we split up. Some went that way and some went that way and so on and as I say I went to Inverness.
DK: Yeah. Ok. I’ll, I’ll stop that there.
[machine paused]
DK: I’ll just put that back on. I noticed here 199 Squadron was part of 100 Group.
BH: Yes.
DK: So what was special about 100 Group?
BH: I don’t really know. Whether was the area where, like around here was all 3 Group. Mildenhall was headquarters for 3 Group. In Yorkshire it were 4 Group.
DK: Yeah.
BH: What was it in Lincoln? 5.
DK: 5.
BH: Yeah.
DK: 5 and 1. Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: So 100 Group. Did they do anything out of the ordinary? Or -?
BH: Well not really. We dropped mines and bombs and we also did Window which is where you went and dropped the Window in front of the main force. As they come behind you you dropped all this stuff to divert the Germans again.
DK: Yeah.
BH: More or less what happened on D-Day. Similar thing.
DK: To disrupt the German radar.
BH: Well that’s –
DK: Yeah.
BH: That was the idea.
DK: The idea. Yeah.
BH: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BH: Probably did work but probably not all the time.



David Kavanagh, “Interview with Bernie How,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 16, 2024,

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