Interview with Frank Mannion

Title

Interview with Frank Mannion

Description

Frank Mannion was born in Manchester. When he completed his electrical engineering apprenticeship at Metropolitan Vickers he volunteered for the RAF. Initially he was ready to train as a pilot but was told there was a shortage of air gunners so he volunteered for that role instead. After training Frank and his crew were posted to 10 Squadron at RAF Melbourne. He was shot down on his thirty seventh operation. Frank managed to finally free himself from his badly damaged turret and he baled out. He severely damaged his leg and he was found and taken prisoner. While he was being taken to prison there was an air raid and he had to share a shelter with the local population. He was sent to Stalag Luft VII at Bankau and then four months later was forced on the Long March. He and his navigator escaped from Luckenwalde and the Russians and were picked up by the Americans before he was repatriated home.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-09-10

Contributor

Julie Williams

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

00:36:21 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AMannionF150910

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

AM: Ok. So, it’s Thursday the 10th of September and this is Annie Moody on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre and I’m talking today to Frank Mannion at his home in Glossop. So, Frank if we start off just tell me a little about where you born, your childhood, your parents.
FM: I was born in Manchester. I went to work at Metropolitan Vickers. I served my time as an electrical engineer. When the war started I was still serving my apprenticeship so after I served my apprenticeship I went in to the RAF.
AM: Can I wheel back a bit? Where you born, Frank?
FM: Gorton.
AM: You were born in Gorton.
FM: Yes.
AM: What did your parents do?
FM: My father’s an electrical engineer. My mother’s a dressmaker.
AM: Right.
FM: I had two brothers and four sisters. I’ve only one brother left now. A younger brother.
AM: Right. Where did you go to school, Frank?
FM: St Anne’s, Fairfields in Manchester for a start. And then the secondary school was St Gregory’s in Ardwick.
AM: Oh right. Yeah. How old were you when you left?
FM: Fifteen.
AM: You were. Did you do school certificate then? Or —
FM: I did but I couldn’t tell you where that is now [laughs] yeah.
AM: And then — so straight after school.
FM: Yeah.
AM: That was when you — what did you do straight after school.
FM: I went in to, went to work at Metropolitan Vickers.
AM: As you said.
FM: As an apprentice. Yeah.
AM: At Metropolitan Vickers. What did they do there then? At Metropolitan Vickers?
FM: Well it was what they called electrical scientific instrument maker. Well, basically I was an electrical engineer training in electrical engineering.
AM: So what sort of things did you do then?
FM: Now, you’re asking me.
AM: I’m going back a bit.
FM: All sorts of things electrically.
AM: Yeah.
FM: We were trained from the very basic parts of electrical circuits right through to what they did do. Well, as far as you can go now as you know. We didn’t do nuclear engineering. That wasn’t in the system then but we went through all the system as regards engineering in the electrical side.
AM: Right.
FM: Instrument making and all that sort of thing.
AM: Right. So, then what made you decide to join the RAF?
FM: Well, we were in the blitz a few times in Manchester. In the shelter. And I thought well one of these days I’m going to have a go at this lot myself. And when I finish serving my time I’m going to see about getting in to the RAF. Bomber Command. And train to be a pilot. And that’s what I did do.
AM: Right.
FM: But when I joined the air force they accepted me. I was creditable as regards training for a pilot. Physically and everything else. But then they told me they’d got a lot of young men waiting to be trained. They couldn’t cope with them all so they sent me back to work.
AM: Right.
FM: And after a while they got in touch with me and said they still had a lot of people, young fellas, waiting to be trained as pilots but they were short of air gunners. Was I interested? So, I joined the air force and became an air gunner.
AM: You became an air gunner.
FM: Yeah.
AM: Where did you, where did you go to join up? Can you remember? Would it have been nearby or did you have to travel to it?
FM: St Johns Wood was the place where I — in London.
AM: Right. So that was where you did the first —
FM: Yes.
AM: Training.
FM: Yes. And my brother, my older brother was down there. He was in the REME. Electrical engineers. Mechanical and electrical engineers and he also boxed for, boxed for Southern Command. And —this day or this evening he came across to St John’s Wood and with one or two of the big hefty boxers in his lot and asked the people there could they let me out to take, they wanted to take me to a show which they did do. So, there’s this little Frank and all these big fellas. I think it was Vera Lynn. I’m not sure.
AM: Yeah.
FM: But it was somebody. A well-known singer. Yeah.
AM: What was the food like? I’ve heard different reports about the food at St John’s Wood.
FM: Normal. I couldn’t see that it was any different than —
AM: So, it —
FM: Well food was different in those days as you know. You only got this — so much of this and so much of the other. I mean when you were at — well when I was at home and I got my chocolate or whatever it is — a certificate or whatever it was to get some food I dashed off to the shop and bought some chocolate and ate it. That’s what I did. And we were all the same. But I couldn’t tell you any more about food. It wasn’t very very good.
AM: No.
FM: It was very limited actually.
AM: Yeah. It’s just somebody said they actually went across the road to the zoo for their food and whatever it was he didn’t like it. Anyway, that’s another story. So then, so St Johns Wood. Then where did you go after St John’s Wood? Or what did you do? What — what came next?
FM: I was trained on the Isle of Man. Riccall.
AM: Right.
FM: No. Not Riccall.
JM: Jurby.
FM: Jurby. On the Isle of Man. And from there I think I went to Riccall from there after being trained. Went up to Lossiemouth. Did some more training up in there. Scotland. Came down and I —then I went to Riccall. And that’s where I met my pilot and the rest of the crew.
AM: So, what was that like? Crewing up. Who got hold of who?
FM: Well, we just all stood there looking at one another and, you know, blokes — fancy going with him there. And that’s what they did. And I just didn’t do anything. Waited until there was just myself and another chap left and the other two went with this Canadian pilot. George Kite. And he was a big fella. Smart. Strong looking fella. Never had a lot to say but a very nice chap. The navigator was also Canadian. He was a very nice quiet bloke he was but very nice. We had various wireless operators. Different ones so we had one or two left because they had enough of their operations. One or two were filling in because we were short of one. In the end we got Saunders. Alex Saunders. A Scotch lad. And he was the one that was with us when we were shot down.
AM: Right.
FM: And he was the one that got killed.
AM: Ok. So, when, so you’ve crewed up and then I think — I can never remember the order it comes in. You go for your heavy conversion.
FM: Yeah.
AM: Training after that.
FM: Yes. Yes.
AM: What was that like then?
FM: Well I think we did some of that — well Wellingtons I think. Lossiemouth. And then we went on to Halifaxes doing flying about the country in daytime. You know. In fact, I don’t want to tell too many things about it but —
AM: Oh, you can do.
FM: I’m all on my own at the back of the aircraft. In my turret there. Sat on my own there just doing nothing. At night time it was just horrible doing nothing. Just there. In the daytime you could have a good look around. But the pilot, George Kite, every now and again he’d call me up to the front. He wanted a smoke and I used to take charge of the aircraft. I used to fly the aircraft for a little while he was stood at the side of me.
AM: Is this in training or actually on operations?
FM: This is while we training. Yeah.
AM: While you were training.
FM: Yeah. But this wasn’t supposed to, this wasn’t the accepted thing. But that’s what we did anyway and I suppose lots more crews did similar things. Funny things like that.
AM: Yeah.
FM: We just wanted to make as much of the time we could do. It was very boring to be sat there on your own.
AM: Yeah.
FM: Doing nothing. Being frozen to death. So that’s what he did. He wanted a smoke and he asked, ‘Do you want to come to the front?’ Yeah.
AM: So where were you posted to ready for your first operation?
FM: Oh, that was Melbourne. 10th Squadron. Yorkshire. 4 Group.
AM: Yeah. Beautiful church there.
FM: Is there?
AM: Yes.
FM: Oh, now you’re telling me something.
AM: And can, can you remember the first operation? What it was like. What it felt like.
FM: Well, I’ve got a list of them actually. Well it wasn’t —
AM: But the actual feeling of the first one.
FM: Yeah. Well, we were a bit apprehensive but it was somewhere in France and after that, coming back, I thought well that wasn’t too bad. It was, you know, what’s all the fuss about? It wasn’t too bad. And that was what the first one was like and gradually I got to know why people were getting frightened of going on operations because it all started to come about because you could see aircraft being blown out of the sky. All sorts of things. Collisions. And all that. And it wasn’t very pleasant after that. Very dangerous. And you got to a point where you knew sometime you were going to get shot down. Went on and on and on. And eventually we were shot down on our thirty seventh operation.
AM: What can you remember? Can you describe that?
FM: Well if you want. Eighteen months or so ago. What’s — the Rotary, was it the Rotary love?
JM: Hmmn.
FM: They asked me if I’d go and talk to them about Bomber Command. I’ve never spoken to anybody about it. So, I said, ‘Well yes.’ I went and I had a chat with them. And at the first meeting it got to one point where I was trapped in the turret and I said, ‘That’s the end of my flying comments. That’s the end of my little chat to you tonight.’ And they were so impressed they asked me to go back and tell the rest of it. And I’ve got them both recorded there.
AM: Oh right. I’ll listen to them but tell me a little bit about it now then.
FM: In what way?
AM: Just, well you just said you got trapped in the turret. How come? How did you get, how were you trapped in the turret?
FM: Well, when, after we’d bombed the target, it was a place called Neuss. Next door to Dusseldorf in the Ruhr. A lot of our bombing went down, our crews there. And went through the target area as normal and took a wide turn to be out of the way of other aircraft approaching the target and I thought there was something very funny. There was no nothing. No ack ack. Nothing going on like that. Something queer going on here. And all of a sudden, a bang. It was all ablaze with bullets and things strafing all through. Some right through my turret. And the pilot screaming, ‘Here fellas —get out out out. And that was when we were supposed to get out. The escape hatch is in the very nose of the aircraft and in the tail of the aircraft. The turrets turned around to a point where I can’t get access. I can’t get back into the aircraft and there’s no power. It won’t go so I’m trapped in the turret. Now, the pilot, I didn’t know until after the war, but he obviously thought he could crash land that aircraft in the reoccupied part of Holland. So, this is what I learned after the war but what went on then he must have been under some sort of control. He knew the wireless operator, he could see him, he hadn’t got out. He knew I hadn’t come through the aircraft and so presumably he was trying to give a chance to both of us. And he crashed in Holland and they were both killed. That photograph there shows you where they did crash. There were some trees over a hill. As they approached, the US army there did all they could do to help them but they were both killed there. And that’s where the memorial is. For me — well I tried very hard to get out. I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t get into the aircraft to do anything and I thought the only way now is to get out of the aircraft by the turret but I couldn’t get the turret doors open. It was all damaged. And I tried and tried and tried. I couldn’t do anything about it and I gave up and I thought I hope it doesn’t hurt too much. Then another — what you might call an un operational movement by the aircraft, that the pilot corrected. He was doing all this funny thing and he’s flying trying to keep the aircraft airborne. I thought well come on Frank. You know. Come on. Come on. And I, this time I managed to get my fingers between the two half doors of the Boulton Paul turret and I broke a nail off in the process which is very very painful. And I wriggled my hand through a bit more and a bit more and instead of opening that turret door just fell away. The half fell away. Now, pushed at the other one. No response. So I thought, I’ve got a space. Must be — I think it’s a foot wide. To get out of. So, I had my parachute. I always had mine between me the turret doors. You were supposed to leave it in the aircraft. On the shelf there. I didn’t do that. I don’t think anybody did. And I had this on my shins and when I got to that position I wriggled. Brought the parachute up, put it on the ring and fixed the vest here and I wriggled and wriggled and wriggled until I was halfway out of the aircraft and in the turret and then realised the parachute was too wide to go through the space available. So, I had to wriggle back a bit. Take one half, only one half so the parachute was reverse with my body and then I striddled out again. Hanging and hanging on with everything. Managed to get it engaged on the other hook and I rolled out of the turret and that’s how, that’s how I got out of the aircraft. And by this time, I weren’t far from the front where the U.S. 1st Army were in Holland where they were fighting the Germans there. When I landed I could hear the gunfire. I think probably about fifteen twenty miles away or something like that. When I landed I didn’t expect to land just when I did and I landed very heavily. Not as you would normally land when you’re doing the parachute training. These do. People do. And my left leg was behind me. I’d badly twisted my knee. So, I got a nasty cut on my head. An injury to my shoulder and my back and I just thought — now what am I going to do? Getting myself together fully I heard this noise and I thought there’s something coming. I listen again. And this noise again. It was a bit closer this time. I thought somebody’s approaching. So like all, we were all trained to try and get back if we came down. Shot down. You probably know all about that. I got wriggled up. Got out. Up onto my feet, moved away and I fell into water up to my waist. And then I was stuck in this cold water there and this thing that had made the noise appeared. Big head came over mine. A big tongue came out of the cow. Came licking my head. Anyway, after that I managed to get out of there. I sat against a tree. Squeezed as much water off as I could. And the next day, which was Sunday, I tried to get — I didn’t know what to do. I moved a little. Well, perhaps about a hundred yards or so to a lane and the people — perhaps they were going to church. I don’t know. And nobody bothered about me if they saw me. So I couldn’t get any further so I went back to where I’d been the night before and I stayed there. And that’s where I was when two boys who came in the woods looking for something — that’s where they found me. And then of course I was taken a prisoner then.
AM: Two, two young boys.
FM: Yeah. Yeah. Frightened them to death when they saw me. I must have been a pretty sight to see. And about a quarter of an hour afterwards there were twelve people came to take me in. Nine of them were women. Three were men. One of the men had a pitchfork over his shoulder. I don’t know what he thought he was going to do. Another had a big club over his shoulder. But the women were, they were very good. One of them put my right arm over her shoulder and another one my left arm over her shoulder. And they more or less half carried me to the local jail which was in the square and just below the square. The level of the square. The grill, the roof, the top wall, of the wall of that cell was just level with the square. The square. And they looked after me very well and I was there for some time before I was moved to a place, another place near Dusseldorf airfield and I was put in a cell there. But the one in, the original cell I still had my escape pack inside my tunic so when it was just nobody about. This little space between the wall of the cell and the floor I took it out and I pushed it down there. And it’s probably still there. Anyway, after I’d been moved to this other place at this airfield at Dusseldorf that was a different cell altogether. It was all bare walls and stone bed. Stone floor. Sloping bed. Stone pillow and a little bit of a stone thing in the end to stop you from sliding off. And I thought this is probably the place where they put the bad boys, you know. And these two German Luftwaffe people came in. Now, all aircrew when I was flying had a big white sweater they wore between their flying suit and their tunic. And I was using mine as a bit of a pillow. Well they told me to get up. I got up. And one of these two men, the smallest one, about my size he picked this pullover up and put it under his arm. He was having that. And I thought well you’re not you know. So, I reached out and snatched it back. And he gave me such a good hiding.
AM: Really.
FM: Punched me all over the place. I couldn’t do a thing about it. Anyway, after a while the other one stopped him eventually. After that I was taken through Dusseldorf on the train. They took us to Frankfurt where we were questioned. On the way, it was daytime, on the way through Dusseldorf the air raid sirens went. Just the same as they’d got over here. Just the same sound. And all of a sudden they all scattered and all left for the shelters, and the two guard’s with pistol holders here they took me into the shelter with the others. Well they could see my brevet. My flight sergeant stripes and everything. And one of those soldiers, guards, he put his finger to his lips and he went like that and he said, ‘They don’t like you very much.’ In other words, don’t say anything. You know. Be as obscure as you can be because if they know who you are and what you are they might do something about it. And from then we went to Frankfurt and that’s where I met John Maling. Our navigator. From there we were taken to Bankau. Luft VII. On the way there went a long way on a train. I think to the Polish border and there we went in a truck. A big open truck and there were four armed guards to that truck as well. Apart from the driver. And two of the guards sat in the driver’s compartment with the driver. And two more sat on a bench with their back to the driver. And on the way there that driver did some — I don’t know, for some reason he did a very violent manoeuvre which threw someone off the truck. And well I don’t know if broken bones or whatever. It was the old the bumps and bruises. You went at speed. And when we got ourselves together one of the guards came, that guard came out with us as well and it was funny to see one of the POWs help the German guard up to his feet and then pick his rifle up and give him his rifle back. That’s what happened there. And then from there we went in to Bankau. Luft VII. That’s where it all started. That was when — the Long March from there, after we were there, what — till February I think.
AM: How long? When were you shot down Frank?
FM: September. September 1944.
AM: ’44. Right so you were there how many months? About?
FM: Well about –
AM: About four.
FM: Yeah. Yeah.
AM: Four months.
FM: Yeah.
AM: So, then, you’ve given me details here of your —
FM: Yes
AM: Forced trek.
FM: Yes. Yes.
AM: I’m going to give it you back and then you can just tell me a little about it from that. What it was actually like being on the Long March.
FM: Terrible. I had a [pause] I had great difficulty in walking because of my knee. When I was first taken into that first prison they brought a doctor to me and he was muttering and saying things to the guard and he, the guard got hold of me. He said, he got hold of me, me put his arms around me and that doctor took hold my leg and gave it a wrench and pull. I had dislocated my knee and that’s what he was doing. He was resetting my knee but it was very sore. It’s always been a problem since then. And I was having trouble walking, anyhow. I wasn’t fit to walk like that. And John Maling helped me along quite a lot. Like other people there were lots of lads falling down on the way and helping one another up and things. Some didn’t get up and there was nothing you could do about it. On part of that way I know a load of army lads joined us. Their guards had deserted them and they’d nowhere else to go. They didn’t know what to do and they came and joined us and they all ended up with us and eventually we ended up at this place and put in these cattle trucks. A long line of cattle trucks. Not the open type. The doors on the side. And there’d be fifty to sixty men in this truck put in there. Now, you couldn’t sit down. There was no room to sit. You just had to lean on one another. Dear. Our truck anyway. We weren’t allowed out for anything. We were in that truck for three days.
AM: And you weren’t allowed out for anything at all.
FM: No. No. And we were in a right mess as you can imagine. And eventually it did. That train kept moving one way and stopping and going and different things going on. And they apologised afterwards. The Germans. They said that they’d been waiting for an engine. Well, what I think they’d been doing keep taking the engine off our train. Using it for more important things as far as they were concerned. But eventually we did end at Luckenwalde —IIIa. That was a big camp. And in that camp, inside the main enclosure there were separate enclosures where they kept the different nationalities. I mean the USA had their own. The French had theirs. The Polish. The Dutch. They all had their own. We had. And when the big battle came on with the Germans and the Russians well the Russians pushed the Germans. We were in the middle of the battle there. And when the Russians pushed the Germans back westwards and pushed on and on and on they — in charge there. We were prisoners of the Russians. What they did they sent a tank into the camp and ran down some of these enclosures so that we could all mix freely then. Which we did, like. Nothing else to do. And we didn’t know what was going on and there was nothing going on but big space westward. Nothing there. All the armies had vanished. There was absolutely nothing. But we knew that the Americans were at Magdeburg. On the River Elbe. A few miles away. And after some time John Maling said to me, ‘Not much going on here, Frank,’ he said, ‘I’ve had enough of this. ’ He said, ‘What do you think about having a go and getting out of here?’ So that’s what we did. With lots of difficulty we got to Magdeburg, to the Americans and after that everyone looked after us as though we were royalty.
AM: So you just went. You just walked out.
FM: Oh no. No. No. I had to get out under the fence.
AM: Oh right.
FM: One of the big, one of the posts that was a part of the fencing of one of the enclosures. We used that at night. When it was dead of night, pushed it under the fence and levered it. Pulled and pulled and levered until we had a little gap. So we squirmed underneath that, each of us and then we got to this, we walked all the rest of that night and all the rest of the day in the wooded area. Or on the edge of the woods. Couldn’t see anything. We wondered what to do now? We knew that every now and again that the Americans sent patrols in this wide area from Magdeburg. From, you know, they had a base at Magdeburg. And all of a sudden we saw this cloud of dust. That’s what it was. And John Maling ran out waving and shouting. Well, they wouldn’t hear him of course, but they saw him. They came racing over and when they knew what we were well — they treated us like royalty there.
AM: Yeah.
FM: Just imagine what they were like with us. Everybody did after that. We moved from there. We were eventually taken to another place where a DC3 had been diverted to pick us up. That took us to Brussels. From Brussels we were taken to by train to France. Lille in France. And from Lille in France we were taken by another transport to an airfield and this big Lancasters there waiting for us and we flew over the Lancaster. So, I think I’m the only air gunner in the RAF who flew out in his last operation in the rear turret of a Boulton Paul Halifax bomber and came back in the Fraser Nash turret of a Lancaster.
AM: Of a Lancaster.
FM: I think so. I bet there’s not another one.
AM: What was it like when you, when you did get back? Because you, had you been deloused at that, by that time or were you still –?
FM: Oh. The Americans. They deloused us alright.
AM: Did they?
FM: They washed us, hosed us and everything. Squirted powder all over us and one thing and another and put the bits that were there, their clothing on us to cover us and then gave us a great big meal. It was a smasher. A great big plate full of —
AM: Could you eat it though?
FM: Oh well. Chicken. Everything you could think of. Vegetables. And peaches and cream all on the one plate. We ate it alright, yeah. And then we were both violently ill for a couple of days. And they were a bit worried about us but eventually we were alright.
AM: Yeah. Because if you’d not eaten properly for six months or whatever.
FM: No. No.
AM: You’re not going to be able to eat that are you?
FM: No. No.
AM: So, What happened when you got back?
FM: Well we were taken to [pause] name’s on there somewhere.
AM: Oh, I’ve given it to you back haven’t I?
[pause]
FM: I can’t remember the place.
JM: Cosford.
FM: Not Cosford? Not. No.
AM: It don’t matter because I’m just wondering because you’ve got back. So they’ve flown you back.
FM: Yeah. Then they debriefed us.
AM: Ok.
FM: And deloused us and more or less did some of what the Americans had done with us when they got hold of us. Then they sent us to London for the night.
AM: Right.
FM: Both in a hotel in London for the night. And after that we were sent to Cosford the next day. And that’s when we were re-kitted and everything and given a nice bit of back pay and sent home on leave.
AM: And what? How long after that were you demobbed?
FM: Well I wasn’t demobbed just like that. I was, at that time, there was some funny things going on. The Russians were misbehaving. Well they thought they were misbehaving. The allies did. And the, a lot of the Bomber Command boys had left. They were all volunteers and they left. But then they were appealing for them to go back on a, on a short engagement. Three years. And they had too, they had the aircraft, but they hadn’t got the people to fly them then. And they were flying food and all sorts of things over to Holland and Germany but they hadn’t got the people to do it. And that’s why they wanted the boys to go back and do. And with the Russians doing what they were doing what they were getting. They were getting very worried about the Russians. And I didn’t leave the RAF. I stayed in the RAF. And then I applied again and I wanted to be trained as a pilot which is what I was going to be. So, I went. Stayed in re-engagement but after a while I was — this complaint took over me and I had major surgery in the RAF. Then discharged as unfit for flying duties.
AM: Because of your knee.
FM: No. No. This Raynaud’s disease.
AM: Oh. Your other bits.
FM: Yeah.
AM: Right.
FM: So —
AM: Right. Tell me a little more about the memorial. You’ve shown me the picture. And the who — who organised the memorial where you’re plane had —
FM: It was a Dutch chap. I can’t think. Just —
AM: Just where —
FM: A letter.
AM: Where it had crash landed.
FM: Yes. Yes. That’s right. He’d been researching different things and what they wanted to do with this place in Holland they wanted to put a memorial there. Related to what had gone on in the war. And there had been another aircraft crashed there earlier in the war. A twin-engined aircraft. And the names of those two are on that memorial plaque. But they got my name, they got our name from somewhere. I don’t know how they got it. I got a letter through Canada actually. And this chap had got his information from Canada so it was perhaps the relatives of Chorley or something like that. I don’t know. But they invited me over to unveil the memorial. Well I got in touch with John Maling, our bomb aimer. He was living in Essex then. And Jean and I and John Maling and his wife Beryl all went over there and give those photographs to show what we did there.
AM: Yeah. What happened to the — he was the bomb aimer wasn’t he? John Maling.
FM: Yes.
AM: He was the one you ended up meeting in the prison.
FM: Yes. That’s right.
AM: In the prison camp and everything.
FM: Yeah.
AM: And I think you said the pilot was killed when he crash landed it.
FM: That’s right. Yes. And the wireless operator.
AM: And the wireless operator. So that’s four of you. What happened to the other?
FM: Well they got out.
AM: Did they?
FM: Yes.
AM: They got out.
FM: I didn’t, I didn’t meet any of them again. That was the Gordon Chorley, that was the navigator. The flight engineer. The mid-upper gunner. I didn’t meet any of those again.
AM: No.
FM: They were all POWs though.
AM: You’ve shown me the picture of the German pilot of the plane that shot you down.
FM: That’s — that’s what they said. Yeah.
AM: And would you have been happy to meet him?
FM: Oh yes. Yeah. Yeah.
AM: Yeah. What would you talk to him about?
FM: Well I don’t know. It would have been nice to chat to him about his job and my job and one thing and another. You know.
AM: Yeah.
FM: Compare things and it would have just have been nice. They asked me if I’d like, if I’d like to meet him and I said, ‘Yes I would. ’ But I didn’t meet him.
AM: No. That’s a shame. And what did, what did you after then. In later life. Back to electrical engineering.
FM: Yes. I became a maintenance electrician at one of the mills around here and that’s what I ended up doing.
AM: Yeah.
FM: Until I retired.
AM: Brill. What more can I say? I’m going to switch off now.
FM: And I used to think, I could see all this, it wasn’t always the case, but you see these big blazes going on below there and more bombs being thrown down there and I used to think — God. What about all the women and kids? And I still do that. And I still do at nights.
AM: Really.
FM: I have prostrate cancer. I have to get up quite a bit in the night and I don’t get a lot of sleep. I lie awake quite a lot and I think about it. Yes. I think about it a lot.
AM: So still.
FM: Oh yes. Yeah. That won’t go away. I mean they told us when I have mentioned to somebody — well very sad, but it was necessary.
GR: Yeah.
FM: If we hadn’t have done what we did millions more would probably have been killed.
AM: Yeah.
FM: So, I can’t argue about that but it still doesn’t make it better, does it? It’s very sad.
AM: And that’s pretty much what everybody says, isn’t it?
GR: I don’t know if you’ve watched it but they’ve been doing a programme this week —

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Citation

Annie Moody, “Interview with Frank Mannion,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 15, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8871.

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