Interview with John Joyner


Interview with John Joyner


John Joyner was working for the Cooperative Wholesale Society in London and joined the Air Training Corps aged 16 in 1940. He later joined the RAF and trained as an air gunner, initially on Wellingtons and then on Lancasters as the mid-upper gunner. He discusses his training with 16 OTU. He was posted to RAF Upper Heyfield with 189 Squadron and flew two operations dropping Window before their skipper was taken off operations leaving them as a 'headless crew'. He was involved with Operation Dodge repatriating Army personnel from Italy. He returned to work for the Coop after demobilisation. He kept in touch with his rear gunner and organised a crew reunion in 1999.




Temporal Coverage




00:35:20 audio recording


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AJoynerJH161021, PJoynerJH1601


DK: So let’s just make, make sure we’ve got the sound up. So this is David Kavanagh on the — where are we? 21st of October 2016, interviewing Mr John Joyner. [background noise] And the thing is, if I keep looking over like this I’m not being rude, I’m just making sure it’s still working.

JJ: Of course.

DK: ‘Cause I got caught out before and it suddenly stopped.

JJ: How long is the interview?

DK: As long as, as long as you like.

JJ: Go on. Carry on.

DK: What, what I’d like to ask you ask first of all, and I always ask this question, is, what were you doing immediately before the war?

JJ: What was I doing before the war? As I may recall that, um, I was working at a warehouse, at the Co-op, the CWS in London, and like a lot of other people I joined various organisations. In my case I joined the —

Ann: ATC

JJ: ATC. That’s right, the Air Training Corps.

DK: Air Training Corps, yep.

JJ: And we had the opportunity to fly then, you see, which was most interesting, apart from which it, extended my education, things like algebra and geometry and stuff I’d never encountered before. So it was like an extra, extra-curriculum for me. Most useful.

DK: So, what aircraft types did you fly in the ATC? Go up in the ATC?

JJ: In the ATC I think — you have the advantage of me now because you have this recording but let’s see —

DK: Would it be the Tiger Moth, would it?

JJ: That’s right. The Tiger Moth, yes, yes, yes. ‘Cause that was a dual seater, the Tiger Moth, and then we went on to four engine aircraft, two engine aircraft, and that was the Wellington. And that was when I had my head in the astrodome in the fuselage because we didn’t have a mid-upper turret. Our rear gunner, sadly dead now, was smaller than me so he was sort of, fell into the, fell into the nomenclature, the title of rear gunner, he could fit nicely into that space.

DK: Was height a big consideration when you were —

JJ: I think so really rather than somebody or other because you’d have to fold yourself to get into the turret. There wasn’t a great deal of room there.

DK: Just stepping back a little bit. What made you want to join the RAF? Because were you called up? Or what made you — as opposed to say the army or navy?

JJ: Again, that’s in the narrative that I provided but I think it was interesting, thought provoking, you know, flying.

DK: Did the Battle of Britain have any influence on you?

JJ: I think not. But you see, after all, I think I spoke about 1940. Well this was of course, that was of course, the Battle of Britain. When Britain came face to face with the enemy and you just wanted to take part and there were so many interesting things to do.

DK: Yeah. Was it, was it — how did you feel then about joining the RAF? Was it, I mean, you’d seen the Battle of Britain. Was it — did you want to be a fighter pilot or, was there anything that sort of drove you to —

JJ: I just wanted to take part.

DK: Right, okay.

JJ: I wanted to take part. At the time, of course, the idea of going into aircrew seemed distant but as to — no, it was the idea of joining the RAF to begin with. I think maybe because, perhaps, the local branch was rather more for me. But I think it suited me more the idea of possibly flying rather than marching up and down.

DK: Right, okay.

JJ: Mind you, commendable as these other services were and are. Yes.

DK: So, can, can you remember your first posting in the RAF, because you would have done your initial training, where you went to first of all?

JJ: Yes, well, because you see, it was decided that it’s in that account. But we were all sent to a place called Heaton Baths, swimming baths, and the idea was that we swam up. Those who could swim, could swim a length, and they were posted to Scotland where there were no swimming facilities. Whereas, if I’d used my head and not been able to swim I could have gone to Sutton Hoo, Weston Super Mare, or somewhere like that, I forget. It’s in the book somewhere.

DK: So, you showed you could swim and then they sent you to Scotland? [laugh]

JJ: That’s right. The swimmers went up there.

DK: It seems strange as it’s the Air Force. I can understand if you were joining the navy or something. [laugh]

Ann: Extraordinary, isn’t it?

DK: So, can you remember whereabouts in Scotland you went?

JJ: Oh yes. At St Andrews.

DK: St Andrews.

JJ: St Andrews. Actually at the university.

DK: Oh, right, okay.

JJ: Oh yes. It’s in there. We were billeted at a place called Rusacks Marine Hotel. That was first of all and then on to the university itself, which by that time had been taken over by the RAF. So we used to do our — we used to do our marching up and down the seafront there, jumping from one concrete block to another, and then eventually we were, we were posted to — let’s see. Yes, I think that was when we went to — they suddenly decided that we should all go for selection to Manchester.

DK: Right.

JJ: And so regardless of the fact that one of us had actually soloed, they made us all air gunners.

DK: So did you actually, um, take part in pilot training?

JJ: Well, only in as far as the, as the second pilot in a, in a Tiger Moth. That’s all.

DK: Right.

JJ: Not in the heavier stuff at all, no.

DK: So you were then allocated as a gunner?

JJ: That’s right.

DK: Yeah. So, did you then go off for gunnery training at that point?

JJ: Oh yes, yes.

DK: And can you remember where that was?

JJ: Yes. That was in Wales.

DK: Right, okay.

JJ: For the moment it escapes me.

Ann: Stormy Down, was it?

JJ: Pardon?

Ann: Stormy Down, was it?

JJ: Stormy Down. I think that would be right. Yes, I suppose so.

Ann: Sorry about me interfering.

DK: No, that’s okay. Don’t worry.

Ann: You see, John’s old and some things he can’t remember.

DK: It’s okay.

Ann: But I can remember. I’ve heard it so many times that I can come in with the odd name occasionally.

DK: You see, what we can do with the recording — obviously we won’t have a rough cut like this —

Ann: No, no, no.

DK: We’ll edit the bits out and, you know, we’ll just —

Ann: It’ll just be a story.

DK: A story, yes. Please do, you know.

JJ: Voices. Voices from the past.

DK: Voices from the past. That’s what it is. All our yesterdays. But what I was going to say is, so, for the benefit of the recording I know you’ve written it down, but what did the gunnery training actually involve?

JJ: Well, we sat in darkness to identify silhouettes of enemy aircraft and had to make a note of these, you know, because we were going to spend most of our time in the dark because by that time Bomber Command was flying at night, but not during the day, do you see?

DK: Yeah.

JJ: And so, we sat in there and then we went up in the, I think you mentioned the plane I was in, a dual, dual —

DK: The Avro Anson, was it?

JJ: Yes, that’s right. There was room for three gunners in there and we each fired into a drogue pulled by some unfortunate plane, de Havilland or something or other, and the idea was that we painted the nose of our bolts of ammunition with wet paint.

DK: Right.

JJ: Each of us is in primary colours so that these poor WAAFs, when the drogue was finally dropped over the airfield, they could identify how many hits, if any, you’d made on the drogue.

DK: And, how, how was your gunnery? Was it any good?

JJ: Well, it’s difficult to say because, you see, I can’t remember about my prowess but what I did do is that when I went finally for the interview, which is also in that account, they asked me a question about, not about gunnery, but it was about some superficial enquiry which I couldn’t remember. So they said, ‘Do you want to be a, do you want to be an air gunner?’ So I said, ‘Yes, please.’ So they said, ‘Right, you’ve passed.’ Because they closed down the Welsh station because it was going to be used for a — German officer POWs. So they wanted a nice, nice tidy finish. So I went on there. I don’t suppose it affected my skills as an air gunner in any way but, you know, that was all they had to —

DK: So, at that point you’d become a newly qualified gunner then?

JJ: That’s right, an air gunner.

DK: Air gunner.

JJ: It’s, it’s in the book.

Ann: If I’d known that’s what our lives depended on. All a shambles. [slight laugh]

DK: Well, this is the thing. The stories are coming out now.

Other: Oh yeah, I bet some of them —

JJ: We all had our wings and we met and posed for the camera in Trafalgar Square, London.

DK: Ah, so at that point then as a newly trained, newly trained air gunner, where was your next posting, the Operational Training Unit?

JJ: Well, I can’t remember, but what we did they piled us all in one enormous room and then the pilot just picked people out at random, who he wanted in his crew.

DK: How did you feel that worked? It’s very unusual that you were all piled in together and had to sort yourselves out. Did it, did it work well?

JJ: Well, hopefully. I mean but, you see, where is it now? There were forty seven casualties, deaths, on Bomber Command training, so clearly there was some of the skills, some of the skills were not as sharp as they might have been or, alternatively, they met with some terribly bad luck, you know.

DK: So when you’re in this big hall and you’re sorting the crews out, this pilot approached you, did he? He came up to you?

JJ: As far as I’m aware, yes.

DK: And can you remember his name, the pilot?

JJ: Oh, MacQuitty.

DK: Sorry, could you say that again?

JJ: It’s in there, yes, MacQuitty. He was —

DK: MacQuitty.

JJ: He came from —

DK: Sorry. What was his first name?

Ann: Tasmania.

JJ: Tasmania.

DK: And what was the first name?

JJ: MacQuitty It’s in there.

DK: It’s in there. MacQuitty.

JJ: Okay? Yes. MacQuitty

Ann: His surname.

JJ: Okay?

DK: Yes. MacQuitty and he was Tasmanian.

JJ: Yes, that’s right. Now, of the crew, when I organised the reunion in 1999, we were all there bar two, the wireless operator, who was dead, and the skipper, who was dead.

DK: MacQuitty.

JJ: But the remaining five of us: flight engineer, navigator, myself, mid upper, and rear gunner. So it was a very good effort.

DK: Can you, can you remember their names now, the whole crew?

JJ: Oh yes, it’s all there. It’s in the book.

DK: Yeah.

JJ: Sorry but —

DK: No, no. Don’t worry. So once the crew‘s got together with MacQuitty which — can you remember where you went to then, which Operational Training Unit?

JJ: Yes, that’s right. OTU. It’s on there. Excuse me, could I?

DK: Sure.

JJ: Is it there or not? Oh, it’s in the other one [background noise]

DK: [pause] Yes. It says the OTU.

JJ: Upper Heyford.

DK: Upper Heyford.

JJ: That’s right. Yes. And as you see, apart from these four there’s another two at the back, Waddington and, Coningsby. Yes. But do carry on.

DK: Sorry, and I mean — so, so once you’re at the Operational Training Unit, can you remember which type of aircraft you trained on there?

JJ: Oh, it would be the Wellington.

DK: Right.

JJ: Yes, because that was the first aircraft we used as a crew. But of course I didn’t have a mid-upper turret. I used to stand with my head in the astrodome and I was supposed to be looking out for — trying to avoid a collision with other aircraft on the circuits and bumps, you know, because we were all going round and round this airfield, landing and taking off, you see.

DK: Right, and, and did you decide with the other gunner as to who would be the mid-upper gunner and the rear gunner?

JJ: No. It was decided for us.

DK: Oh right. So, you, you were told you were going to be the mid-upper gunner.

JJ: I think the choice was limited. He was a slighter, less taller person than me and yes, that was the way it just worked out, that’s all. The others, of course, the others were trained crew members. They’d been to Canada and all sorts, you know.

DK: So, the pilot was Australian?

JJ: Yes.

DK: Were the other rest of the crew all British?

JJ: Yes. The navigator was English, the — as you say, [unclear] British. The bomb aimer was a Scot and so was the engineer, was a Scot.

DK: So after training at the OTU can you remember where you went to then?

JJ: Well, that would have been the Heavy Conversion Unit.

DK: Right.

JJ: Going from Wellingstons into Lancs? Yes I think so, yes, Lancs. But then of course we had a four engined aircraft and I had a turret. And one anecdote that’s perhaps not in the book is that the rear gunner, who had a heated suit found his leg was burning so he asked to leave the turret and come forward and he passed under me in the mid-upper turret, and I reported him passing through, and the skipper put the aircraft in quite a [unclear] down, in a nose dive down to oxygen level. He’d got a short circuit in his heated suit which was burning his leg. But he recovered fully and off he went again.

DK: You never had that problem with — did you used to wear a heated suit as well?

JJ: No. I don’t think so. I had fur-lined Irvin jacket I think. Yes, no, no, I had a - No, I think it was only the posh members up the front who had Irvin jackets. No, I just had an all-over suit.

DK: Sort of overalls?

JJ: That’s right.

DK: So, at the Heavy Conversion Unit then, that would have been your first sight of the Lancaster, was it?

JJ: Yes, it would have been.

DK: So what did you think once you saw these huge —

JJ: Pardon?

DK: What did you think of the Lancaster when you first saw it?

JJ: What did I think? Impressive. Certainly impressive is the word. A lot more room than I experienced before. And, yes, it’s a beautiful aircraft, we always felt. In spite of all the problems that they’d had with other aircraft in the past, heavy aircraft, you know, multi-engined aircraft, it was a beautiful aircraft and it was highly regarded by aircrews.

DK: Yeah. Did you feel safe, safe, in there or —

JJ: Quite safe but actually personal safety — excuse me. [pause] I thought I had a handkerchief somewhere.

Ann: I’ll get you one.

JJ: No, it’s alright dear. It’s alright. I’ve got one.

Ann: Have you got one?

JJ: Yes. [sneeze] Pardon me. Personal safety didn’t come into it. Somehow or other you just took part, you know. That’s right.

DK: I guess when you’re younger like that it’s a bit different.

Ann: Gung-ho.

DK: You’re a bit gung-ho.

Ann: Yes.

JJ: Well, you didn’t sort of — no, I don’t think there was any question of fear. No. We just were together.

Ann: [unclear] happen to me.

JJ: We were always together, you see. Sort of a [sneeze] as I say a unified confidence.

DK: Did you find you bonded very well with your crew?

JJ: Oh yes, yes, yes. I think it would have been a problem otherwise but, —

DK: So you all kind of, you all trusted one another to do —.

JJ: Oh, absolutely. Yes. Because, you see, when you think of the, although the bomb aimer could go into the nose to his couple of Brownings in the nose of the aircraft that wasn’t primarily his job. He was down there to drop bombs so, consequently, the rest of the crew depended on the mid-upper and rear gunner to defend the aircraft, you see, but of course this wasn’t always practical if you got a determined group of fighters attacking from different quarters.

DK: Mmm, and did that happen on a number of occasions then?

JJ: No, we weren’t attacked.

DK: You weren’t attacked.

JJ: No, I did report a, what I took to be, a Focke 190 when I was in Germany. I had a German but it fell away. Now, you could say, whether this chap had thought discretion was the better part of valour, bearing in mind he saw the two turrets were moving in his direction..

DK: That’s probably what it was. He saw you [laugh]. He saw you and scarpered [laugh].

JJ: That’s right. But you see otherwise, otherwise he would have been going into quite a hail of Browning 303s, you see.

DK: So, just stepping back a bit, after the Heavy Conversion Unit, is that when you were posted to your operational squadron?

JJ: That’s right, yes.

DK: And which squadron was that?

JJ: Sorry?

DK: Which squadron was that?

JJ: Well. It’s difficult to say I’m afraid, at this stage.

DK: It mentions 101 there. Is it?

JJ: Yeah, 101.

DK: 101 Squadron. Can I —

JJ: Possibly.

DK: Is it okay to take a look? It’s got here 189 Squadron?

JJ: Yes, again it could well be, I’m not sure. Can I just have a quick look?

DK: Yeah, sure, yeah.

JJ: Thank you. [pause] It’s a good will bin. Where am I? 920. Can you see a date on there? Telegram.

DK: Telegram, so that’s ‘Report to RAF Station Upper Heyford by twelve hundred hours, 5th of September.’

JJ: Could you see a date on the stamp?

DK: Oh yeah, 31st of August 1944?

JJ: 19 —

DK: 1944.

JJ: That sounds reasonable.

DK: So this was to your operational station then?

JJ: Yes. I think so. Yes.

DK: So initially you were based at Upper Heyford?

JJ: Yes.

DK: Yeah. So it was the squadron there.

JJ: Yeah.

DK: So can you remember the other stations you were based at? Upper Heyford and —

JJ: Well again I’m afraid they’re listed on there.

DK: Were you at Ludford Magna by any, at any —
JJ: Where?
DK: Ludford Magna.

JJ: Oh yes.

DK: Ah right, okay, so in that case then I’m assuming it was 189 Squadron at Upper Heyford, and 101 at Ludford Magna.

JJ: Yeah.

DK: Yeah. There’s, just for the recording here, I’ve got 16 OTU and yeah, 16 Operational Training Unit, 189 Squadron, and were you, were you at Bardney for a while?

JJ: Bardney, yes, yes. I don’t know why we were moving about quite a bit but we were.

DK: So you were at Bardney, Upper Heyford, Bardney, and Ludford Magna.

JJ: Yeah.

DK: Does that sound right? Okay?

JJ: Yeah, yeah.

DK: That makes sense.

Ann: Having listened to this, are they all like this when they’re talking?

DK: Yes.

Ann: ‘Cause they’re old men you see.

DK: Yeah, I know. [slight laugh] Don’t worry, don’t worry.

Ann: It’s a lot of remembering to do isn’t it?

DK: It is. Yes.

Ann: Well, I’m just wondering how he compared with some of the others.

DK: Just, just the same. I mean, I have difficulty remembering what I did this morning. [slight laugh]

Ann: Yes, yes. Well I do too, especially the detail that you’re asking there. I just wondered how he fits in with some of the others you’ve heard.

DK: You will find some things are remembered very clearly.

Ann: Yes.

DK: I mean, I’m very bad at, for example, remembering names.

Ann: I’m wonderful.

DK: That’s the thing.

Ann: I never forget.

DK: So, so, while John can obviously remember the station names, not always the number of the squadron. With other people it can be the other way round.

Ann: Other way.

DK: They can remember the number of the squadron but not the name of the station where they were based, so —

Ann: But what they miss out then are you able to find out? Pick out?

DK: So yes, yes. We’re hopefully, hopefully doing that as we go through it.

Ann: Yes. Yes. ‘Cause by the time you’ve listened to a few you’ll be able to match up.

DK: What I can do is, um, now I know it’s 189 Squadron and I knew 101 was at Ludford Magna, you know, I can confirm that, that’s were the squadrons so, you know. So that’s okay.

JJ: Wait, there’s another. Wait a minute there’s, there’s more. Just a minute, excuse me [cough].

Ann: Would you like any more tea?

DK: Oh, could I please? Is that okay?

Ann: Do you want any more John?

JJ: No thank you dear. Oh, that’s our skipper.

DK: Okay.

JJ: There’s grandfather.

DK: Who’s known as Mac.

JJ: Mac. That’s him. [pause]

DK: So can, can you recall how many operations you actually did?

JJ: No, I did just two.

DK: Just two, yep.

JJ: Because, you see, we flew into France first of all and then we flew into Germany as they were crossing the Rhine, the, our British armies, you see.

DK: Right.

JJ: And it was then when we got back — don’t forget, you see, we were, we weren’t technically members of the squadron and we got back to, to the squadron base where we were just about to be, go on, as a member of the squadron, when the skipper was taken off because of the loss of his second brother.

DK: Right.

JJ: So we became, what they called, a headless crew.

DK: So he, he lost both his brothers then?

JJ: Yes.

DK: So they took him off operations?

JJ: Took him off and put him on, um —

DK: Was it transport?

JJ: Yes, something like that.

DK: Yeah.

JJ: Sorry, I can’t find this. I’ve got an account somewhere or other. Excuse me.

DK: That’s okay. I’ve got it here.

JJ: No, I don’t think so, never mind. But I had a chronological account.

DK: It’s okay. I’ve got that. I’ve got it here. That’s the one.

JJ: Oh yes but I also had a chronological account.

DK: Oh right, okay.

JJ: Where we were but I can’t find it at the moment. Here we are.

DK: Ah, right. Okay. So the two operations you did then. Can you remember where they were to?

JJ: Yes. Again, that’s in the account.

DK: There was one to Germany, wasn’t there?

JJ: That’s right. Yes. So, I think in the margin I’ve put a note.

DK: That’s right. Yes. I did see that.

Ann: There we are.

DK: I’ve got Strasburg and Saarbrücken. Does that sound —

JJ: Sorry?

DK: Strasburg and Saarbrücken.

JJ: That’s it.

DK: Yeah. So, I’m just reading your account here, just for the recording. It says, ‘Our first operation together was into France and then into Germany, which was Strasburg and Saarbrücken.’

JJ: Yes.

DK: Yes, OK. So, this is a diversion with the main bombing at —

JJ: That’s right, yes. We were dropping Window, which you know about.

DK: Yeah, yeah. So was, was that just dropping Window? Did you just drop Window and no bombs or was it —

JJ: No, we didn’t drop any bombs at all.

DK: Just Window. So it was a diversion to the main raid at —

JJ: That was the main thing, yes. Have I been a satisfactory interviewee?

DK: You’ve been very good.

JJ: Thank you.

DK: Trust me. You may not think so but there’s a lot of information.

JJ: Is that your tea sitting there?

DK: That is. I’ve got another one. [slight laugh] There’s a lot of interesting information there.

JJ: Oh good. Um, well —

DK: Once you’d — just going back to your pilot then. Just — obviously he was taken off operations. What, what did you do then as a crew because obviously you —

JJ: We went back to what they called a holding unit because we were what they called a headless crew, so we went back to a holding unit and then we picked up a new skipper, who’d been a pre-war pilot.

DK: Oh, right.

JJ: Harrison his name was and, I think he’s there somewhere. Anyway, Harrison was the — and we continued with him until the — well I think we — I’m not sure whether we were de-mobbed after a while, obviously at the end of the war, but of course it was still a few, still a while to go. We were used in various capacities, I can’t remember the close details.

DK: No. I noticed on the account there that you flew some of the POWs, not POWs, some of the army, was it the army men back?

JJ: Oh, that’s true. Well, that was post-war, you see. Well, post, post fighting, shooting war, and, yes we flew out and brought them back to England. That’s right.

DK: So, that would have been Operation Exodus.

JJ: I suppose that’s what it was called. Yes, yes, yes.

DK: And was that to Italy?

Ann: Yes.

JJ: A place called Pomigliano. That’s right. Yes.

DK: Yeah, yeah, okay.

JJ: Did he get a second cup Ann?

Ann: Yes. He’s got a second cup.

DK: Very nice, very nice thank you. So, okay.

Ann: So you’ll know the whole story of the war won’t you by the time you’ve finished.

DK: Oh yes. Definitely.

Ann: Won’t you? Because you were only a little boy weren’t you? No, you weren’t alive then.

DK: No, I wasn’t alive.

Ann: You wasn’t alive.

DK: Well, I was born in ‘63 so —

Ann: Do you find it interesting?

DK: Oh yeah. Definitely.

Ann: Do you?

DK: It’s very interesting. Okay, so we’ll probably wind up there. I mean, that’s probably good enough. Just one final query. How do you look back now, after seventy years, at your period in the RAF in Bomber Command? Is it something you —

JJ: I haven’t really thought of it before but with satisfaction, with satisfaction, because I felt that I took part, even though it was in a minor capacity, but I took part and if I hadn’t been there somebody else would have had to be there. And we did some interesting and useful jobs. It’s difficult to say how valuable they were, in retrospect, but due to the limited numbers of trips that I actually made they have to be limited. But I mean you see some of these chaps, they did tours of ops, you see.

DK: Yeah.

JJ: Two or three tours of ops and they got the chop at the end sometimes, you know. Ridiculous. But, no. Then finally made redundant and that was it.

DK: So, what were you doing immediately after the war then? What career did you go into? Did you stay in the RAF?

JJ: No. I was — we had two weeks leave in which we were given our civvy clothes, I think, and a Trilby hat, and [laugh] yes, and back home again and went back to where I was more or less before, you see.

DK: Okay, okay.

JJ: At the Co-op and you just got on, but a very small cog in a big wheel, but nevertheless we were there.

DK: And just one final question. Just going back to your role as a gunner, what was your, this might sound a silly question, what was your actual role there? Is it just to keep an eye out of any problems or —

JJ: Oh yes. Attacking aircraft. You couldn’t do — you never fired at the ground or anything like that. It was to — you could fire. I’m not sure. I don’t think we could go through 360 degrees but through about most of it, in a wide arc, you see. Well you could fire independently of the rear gunner and, as I’ve explained there, yes we could probably give directions to the pilot to say, ‘Dive left,’ or, ‘Climb right,’ or something like that, you see, ‘Climb starboard,’ so as to increase the angle at which the fighter would have to occupy to follow behind the Lanc.

DK: To make it more difficult for the fighter to fire on you.

JJ: That’s right. Because they had to be in line with it. They couldn’t manoeuvre their guns.

DK: And from your two operations can you remember the flak at all coming up? The anti-aircraft fire.

JJ: Oh, you could see distant flak but we weren’t involved. We didn’t have any, as far as I remember, flak actually near our aircraft [cough] because, after all, we were a diversionary unit.

DK: Yeah.

JJ: So we were on — literally there but not on the sharp end, as it were, because that’s where they were crossing the Rhine into Germany.

DK: And what was your feelings once you’d landed back at base?

JJ: Euphoria, I suppose, and let’s go and have a pint somewhere or other, you know.

DK: So, post-war then, you’ve, you actually stayed in touch with your crew then, did you?

JJ: Well, what happened was, I get in touch, I kept in touch with the rear gunner. Why? I can’t remember. However, and so we spent cycling holidays together and all sorts.

DK: Okay.

JJ: Poor man was the last to go but the other people I wrote. Again, Justin’s got all this. There’s stacks of correspondence where I wrote to the, the police.

Ann: To try to trace them all.

JJ: Pardon?

Ann: To try and trace them all.

JJ: Yes, I wrote to the police to find out where our navigator had gone to because he’d been a policeman. And, yes. Some were more copious —

Ann: One worked in a bank didn’t he? So you wrote to a bank?

JJ: Well, that was Bill Jones.

Ann: Yes.

DK: And what was Bill Jones? He was the —

JJ: He was rear gunner.

DK: Okay. Rear gunner.

JJ: But the navigator, he went to lecture at Police College eventually, yes. And, er, I’m afraid these accounts are somewhere in those records Ann.

Ann: That my son’s got.

DK: Right, okay.

JJ: You see?

Ann: Do you want them? Would you like us to find them?

DK: Sure, yes, if you could. Yeah. I’m sure the IBCC would be interested. What we can do is take a copy of them.

Ann: Yes.

DK: For the books.

JJ: Would you find it tedious to go through all of it?

DK: No. I wouldn’t [laugh].

JJ: You wouldn’t?

DK: I find it very interesting.

JJ: Sorry?

Ann: Do you?
Dk: Oh yeah.
JJ: You would find it interesting?

DK: I’d find it very interesting, yes. I know the IBCC will.

JJ: Well, I’ll tell you what, let’s cast our bread upon the waters Ann.

Ann: Yes.

JJ: Literally. I’ve trusted this chap with my log book, right? I’ll ask Justin to bring back a whole bundle of stuff. Right? And then give it to you. How’s that? You can take a look through it.

DK: Yes. I can look at them again later. Okay, well what I’ll do, I’ll stop the recording there but thanks very much for that. That’s marvellous.



David Kavanagh, “Interview with John Joyner,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 14, 2024,

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