Interview with Edward Allan McDonald


Interview with Edward Allan McDonald


Allan McDonald was born in Hull and worked as an apprentice electrician before joining the Air Force. He passed the exams to become aircrew and trained as an air gunner. During training, his aircraft crash landed and he was soaked in petrol. He flew operations as a rear gunner with 50 Squadron from RAF Skellingthorpe and recalls seeing aircraft exploding in the air, a dinghy deploying by accident and nearly hitting a WAAF, and making an emergency landing at Juvincourt after being attacked by a FW-190 and being hit by anti-aircraft fire.




Temporal Coverage




01:15:32 audio recording

Conforms To


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MC: This interview is being conducted on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Mike Connock. The interviewee is Alan McDonald and the interview is taking place at Skellingthorpe on the 13th of July 2015. Right, Alan just tell me a bit about where you were born like where you were born. When and where.
AM: Yeah. I’ll give you that information.
MC: Yeah if you will. Yeah. Go ahead. Please.
AM: I were born in Hull.
MC: Yeah. When was that?
AM: That would be the 27th of the 9th 1922.
MC: Tell us a bit about your early days at school and, you know —
AM: Well my early days at school were, I liked the teacher that I was under, one of the teachers anyway. And he says, Come out,’ what had happened was the old thing that was very common was to have an elastic band and blotting paper and double a piece of blotting paper about that width, double it over and you’d aim it at, so you’d hold it in your teeth, aim it at somebody from behind aim it at somebody you wanted to clobber and someone had done this and they’d missed the person they’d aimed at and hit the teacher with it. He was facing the blackboard. Mr Upton. And he says, ‘Come out McDonald.’ because I had done it a few times but on that particular occasion I hadn’t. So he says, I said, ‘It wasn’t me sir.’ So he said, ‘I said come out McDonald.’ So I went out. He said, ‘Hold your hand out.’ I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to get punished for something I haven’t done.’ So he said, ‘I said hold your hand out.’ He’d got the cane in his hand. So he grabbed, grabbed my hand so I thought well there’s only one thing to do and I kicked him on the shin and he let go because I’d kicked him on the shin and I ran out the room then and I ran home. Anyroad, I went the next morning. He says, ‘Come on. We’re friends.’ He said, ‘I’ve an apology to make to you.’ He said, ‘I don’t know what you’re going to say.’ I says ‘No,’ I says, ‘Well it wasn’t me sir.’ He said, ‘I know. I found out who it was and I’m sorry for putting you to the — ’ Well ‘I’m sorry then for kicking you.’ Now I know that so I got sat down and I was in good books with Mr Upton and after the war I went to do the electrical work on a brand new school they were building at a place called Longcroft which is just north of Beverley and we worked on that place from start to finish and each day when we got off the bus from Hull, well at that time I was living at Sutton, Hull which is part of Hull like you have — where are we here? We’re —
MC: Skellingthorpe from Lincoln.
AM: We’re Skellingthorpe and Lincoln. They’re more or less joined together the same. So was Sutton to Hull. It was part of Hull. A stranger wouldn’t know they were out of Hull if they went to Sutton. And anyway I used to each day go to work at this place at the other side of Beverley, catch a bus and where I got off the bus we had quite a way to walk and each day I saw him. And each day when I saw him he’s be like this — he’d get his hand on it and rub his shin in passing [laughs].
MC: So how old were you when you left? Left that school?
AM: Well I as I left on the day I was fourteen. I didn’t do very well at school but that, that was a bad thing really because I wanted to be aircrew and when I went to the recruiting office he says, ‘What do you want to do? What do you want to be?’ I said, ‘I’d like to be a pilot.’ So he says, ‘Just a minute,’ and he looked, ‘You haven’t a chance,’ So I says, ‘Why is that?’ He said, ‘You’ve not done very well at school,’ he said, ‘And if you haven’t got a secondary education you’re no good for air crew.’ So I said, ‘Oh well I shall have to do something about it if I can.’ So I’d joined up now and I went, I went to the electrical school. I failed. I went from there to a place called Nutts Corner in Ireland which was a Coastal Command station.
MC: Can I just go back a little bit? When you left school at fourteen what did you do between then and becoming —
AM: When I left school at fourteen —
MC: Becoming old enough to join the air force?
AM: I went, I went around the town looking to see if anybody wanted an apprentice and I went to a place called Booker and Tarran’s. Booker and Tarran, the name Tarran in Hull was as common a name as what Churchill is to the average person. Tarran’s were a well-known firm. There was, I think, I’m not sure about this but I’m going to think I’m right when I say there were seven sons of Tarrans — RG Tarran, SG Tarran, Martin Tarran, Ken Tarran and I don’t know the others, but Ken Tarran and Martin Tarran were the boss of the firm I went to. They were, they owned the firm and he says, ‘What did you want?’ He came to the office to see what I, as I was a boy, I was fourteen and I was in short trouFsers. What did you want? So he says, ‘And you want to be an electrician?’ So I said, ‘Yes I do.’ So he said, ‘Well how old are you and when do you leave school?’ I said, ‘I’ve left school.’ So he says, ‘Oh when did you leave school?’ I said, ‘Today. I’m fourteen today.’ So I’d not said anything at school. I just simply went to this firm Booker and Tarrans and Ken Tarran says to me, ‘Well why didn’t you ask your dad to come with you or get you fixed up with a job?’ I says, ‘My dad was dead when I was four.’ So he said, ‘Why what happened to your dad?’ I said, ‘Oh,’ I said, he was a blacksmith. He came down from Wallsend, Newcastle area through to Hull and he was supposed to be playing for Hull City as a footballer. And he was driving his motorbike and side car which was a Harley Davidson motorbike sidecar to his work at what they called Springhead in Hull which is a railway siding. It’s a big one too. And enroute to going to work with his motorbike and side car a crane swung a railway line across the road and it fell off the crane and fell on my father and his motorbike. And he ended up in hospital in the Hull Royal Infirmary which is no longer there now, it was pulled down. But my mother had been to see him like say maybe tonight and they said, ‘Would you bring his clothes in the morning? He’s coming out.’ So my mother the next morning took his clothes for him to come out the hospital and the nurse says to my mother, ‘What have you brought his clothes for?’ So she said, ‘He’s coming out this morning.’ She said, ‘He isn’t. He died during the night.’ So, apparently he’d got hypostatic pneumonia. I think I’ve got that word right. I’ve tried to anyway. I may be wrong with it but anyroad it was something of the description that I’ve given. And from there onwards my mother had to go to the coroner’s court, and at the coroner’s court my mother was questioned could she do this, could she do that, could she do the other. Yes. The answer was yes to all the questions he asked. He said, ‘Well in that case you don’t need compensation. You can work for a living. So if you get yourself a job you won’t need compensation.’ So she didn’t get any. And she had to go to work and went to work at Reckitts in Hull which was a well-known firm then. I don’t know if they still are but it was a well-known firm and that’s where my mother went to work packing starch.
MC: You, so you worked, you worked at this firm until you joined the air force?
AM: I worked from, I got the job at Booker and Tarrans which was down Waltham Street which is in the centre of the town and I was apprenticed with them until I finished my time. So —
MC: How old were you then?
AM: Well I’d come out the air force and I had a certain length of time to do and I had to do this certain length of time at apprentice’s rates.
MC: Oh I see. So you joined the air force part way through your apprenticeship.
AM: Yes I did.
MC: Ah yeah so —
AM: And I joined. I went to Henlow, well I started off at Padgate
Other: Yes.
AM: And that would be 1940, and 1940 I went to Henlow. No. No. No. I didn’t. I went to Morecambe. January 1940 I went to Morecambe to do my square bashing and then from Morecambe I went through to Henlow and I took the electrical course there and I didn’t, I didn’t pass. I failed. And from there I went then to Northern Ireland. I went to Nutts Corner and they put me on duty. On flare path duty there which, I liked that job. That’s working with flying control and I was in the spotter box at the start of the runway. That was a good, good number. And then after that I got another job. I got onto the — now what do they call it now? A dummy, a dummy aerodrome anyway for Jerry to bomb and I used to look after the diesel. What do you call them?
Other: The flares.
AM: Hmmn?
Other: The flare path?
AM: No. No it wasn’t. It was a dummy flare path.
Other: Oh a dummy flare path. Yeah.
AM: It was in bogs.
Other: Yes.
AM: And that was up in a place called [Sleavan Lecloy?] which wasn’t far from between Lisburn and Stonyford. And I liked that job as well. It was good. I did quite well in the air force. Now then, I used to, I plagued the warrant officer, station warrant officer, I wanted to be air crew. He said, ‘I’ve told you you can’t be aircrew because you’ve not, you’ve not got a secondary education and you haven’t done very well at school either.’ So I said, ‘Well I still want to be aircrew.’ So I said, ‘Can’t you fix me up with a job anywhere in the aircraft?’ So, I didn’t realise the qualifications necessary then. Anyway, he said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ So I’d been that many times he said his hair was beginning to fall out. Anyway, I was carrying on from there. The tannoy went. Would I report to the station education officer? So I thought station, what would I want him for? So I went into the station and found the location of the station education officer and went to see him, ‘Oh you’re the one that’s causing all the trouble.’ So I said, ‘What trouble’s that?’ He said, ‘With the station warrant officer. You keep going to him. You want to be aircrew.’ I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Well’ he said, ‘If you’re really sincere and you really mean what you say I’ll set you some exams. And if you pass the exams that I set you, if you do, you will do if you want to be air crew and we’ll soon find out whether you do or not.’ So I had to go to him for some tuition first. After the tuition I sat for the exams. He said, ‘You’ve passed.’ No he didn’t, he said, ‘You have matriculated.’ Now, I’d never heard the word in my life before and I didn’t know what the word matriculate meant and I was later on to find out that it was to —
Other: Oh dear Alan.
AM: It was to qualify to go to university from what he’d said. And so he said —
Other: Good.
AM: ‘You’ve one further step to go yet. You’ve to go to RAF headquarters in Belfast and you’ve to pass an exam there and so you’ll go there. It’ll be arranged, you’ll soon be notified. You’ll go there and if you don’t pass there you don’t go to aircrew. If you pass there you’ll go for aircrew.’ So I went there and I was there for a fortnight at RAF headquarters. And during the course of me being there unwittingly I was causing a laugh but I didn’t realise I was at the time, because a certain lady says — when I arrived there there was a WVS van outside the, it’s a place as big as Buckingham Palace nearly, this place where the headquarters were. It was a huge place and I went to the WVS van. She said, ‘Is your name McDonald?’ I said, ‘Why? What do you want?’ I said, ‘I’ve only just arrived. You’re not mistaking me for somebody are you?’ She says, ‘McDonald?’ So I said, ‘Yes. McDonald.’ She says, ‘Oh. Well your tea and your cake’ which was tuppence, a penny for your cake and a penny for your cup of tea, that’s what it was then and I’d got the tuppence out to pay. She said, ‘Don’t waste your money. It’s paid for.’ So I says, ‘No.’ I said, ‘There’s some mistake.’ I said, ‘I’m not the only McDonald in the world. There’s plenty more of us.’ I said, ‘It must be somebody else. Not me.’ She says, ‘You. You’ve come from a Coastal Command station haven’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes I have.’ She said, ‘Well it’s you.’ So, so anyway I carried on and what actually happened was I went into the room. There was two big, two doors at the side of this room and these rooms they had doors which were that thick, nearly six inches thick, the doors. Heavy, huge heavy doors. She says, ‘You want the door on the left and if you go in there there’s seventeen WAAFs and you will make three airmen.’ So I says, ‘Oh is that where we’re having — ‘
Other: That’s a challenge
AM: ‘Having our tea and cakes?’ She said, ‘Yes that’s where you’re having your tea and cake.’ Now this WAAF came to me and she says, ‘Here you are Mac.’ I thought, ‘How do you know me?’ I couldn’t fathom this out. She said, ‘Here’s your tea and your cake.’ So I said, ‘Well they told me I haven’t to buy one because somebody had bought me one.’ I said, ‘Do you know me?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I says, ‘I don’t know you.’ So she says, ‘Oh never mind.’ She says, ‘I’m paying for the tea and the cake.’ ‘Look,’ I said, ‘You’re, I’m an LAC. An LAC denoted I wasn’t AC1. I wasn’t AC2. I was the next one up.
Other: You knew what was what.
AM: Leading Aircraft man.
Other: Yeah.
AM: And I was LAC. I said, ‘You can’t afford to be paying for tea and cakes for me.’ I said, ‘I’m an LAC.’ I said, ‘You’re only an AC1 or an AC2.’
Other: Yeah.
AM: So she says, ‘I’m paying for your tea and your cake.’ I said, ‘You’re not.’ I says, ‘I’m paying for it. You’re not going to.’ I said, ‘What do you think kind of a name I’ll get taking money off a WAAF that’s not even the same rank as me?’ So she says, ‘I’m paying for the tea and the cake.’ So I says, ‘Well I’ll pay for it tomorrow then.’ She said, ‘You won’t.’ I said, ‘I will.’ So anyroad, each day it went on like this until it came to the day before I was due to go back to my station which was the Thursday. I were there for a fortnight. And at the, the, on the Thursday I said, ‘Now look here,’ I says, ‘You’ve been paying for my tea and cakes each day now for a fortnight.’ I said, ‘Let me give you a lump sum for the lot,’ I said, ‘And then I don’t owe you anything.’ I said, ‘You’re going to get me talked about. An LAC taking money off a WAAF that’s a lower rank than he is. What kind of a person am I gonna be?’ So this WAAF stood up. She says, ‘Stop playing green will you.’ So I said, ‘What are you on about stop playing green?’ I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why am I playing green? What does playing green mean?’ She said, ‘You’re after that castle.’ So I said, ‘A castle? What castle are you on about?’ She said, ‘You know what it is and you’re playing green.’ So I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. How am I playing green?’ I says, ‘This WAAF here has been paying for my tea and cakes and then she won’t let me pay.’ I said, ‘And she’s on a lower rank then me.’ I said, ‘I’m an LAC,’ and I said, ‘She’s only an AC1 or AC2. I don’t know which.’ So she says, ‘Oh you are putting it on.’ So I says, ‘Putting what on?’ She said, ‘You’re trying to make out you don’t know what I’m talking about,’ which I didn’t. I hadn’t the foggiest idea. She said, ‘You know that’s the queen’s sister.’ So I says, ‘It never is. What are you giving me that?’ With this this WAAF that had been giving me my tea and that she went out and slammed the door. And that was the end of the connection. God, I was back to camp the next day but that’s that was that little story.
Other: That would have been, so, Margaret Rose. The queen’s sister.
AM: No. This is Queen Elizabeth’s sister.
Other: Yes.
AM: During the war.
Other: Yes, that was Margaret Rose.
AM: Oh I don’t know.
Other: That was her sister.
AM: I couldn’t say.
MC: So you got accepted for aircrew then.
AM: Yes, I got, I passed for air crew there and within a few days I was off to —
Other: With notoriety.
AM: St John’s Wood in London and whilst I was there they bombed, I think it was the Palais de Dance.
Other: Right.
AM: Somewhere there got bombed while we were there. And I enjoyed being there. I was there a fortnight I think it was. And then from there I went to — St John’s Wood we went to Evanton in Scotland.
MC: By that time had you —
Other: Evanton. Sorry.
MC: Can I, by that time, can I ask you had you been selected for air gunner? Was it decided what you were going to do?
AM: Yes I was selected to go as air gunner and I went to Evanton in Scotland. Now it’s this is what, I got off the station at Inverness and the station, whatever he was, says to me, ‘Are you puzzled? Are you lost?’ I said, ‘Well I don’t know which platform to be on.’ So he said, ‘Where do you want to be?’ So I says, ‘Evanton.’ ‘Nowhere here called Evanton. Let’s have a look at your pass.’ So I give him my pass. ‘You mean Everton.’ Well, I said, ‘Where’s the E R in it? There’s no E R in it. It’s E V A N T O N.’ Everton. Evanton. So he says, ‘In here they call it Everton. So you want to be on that platform there.’ So I got on the platform to Evanton. You go through Evanton and you come to where I was. This station. And I was flying on Avro Ansons with Polish pilots and we did gunnery practice from there firing at a wooden tank on the beach. We flew up the mountainside there. There was a statue at the top. What it was about I don’t know. And the Polish pilots used to fly, there was wires across this this mountain and we used to fly beneath the wires going up the mountain side to the top. To the monument. And then he’d just miss the monument, this was in Avro Ansons, and I did my training there for gunnery. I did photo, photo, photo gunning. Oh what do they call it now? It has a name. Anyroad you had a camera in your door and you did photography with that with a camera gun. And I went from there to Market Harborough and at Market, no it wasn’t Market Harborough I don’t think. But it I think it might have been Market Harborough but the name of the place was [pause] its where you crewed up. We didn’t have a crew and Johnny Meadows, he’s on this photograph here this [rustling of papers]. Now this is him. That man there that’s Johnny Meadows. He became our mid-upper and I was the rear gunner. That’s me there. That man there was Britain’s, one of Britain’s top dancers. They called him Taggerty. There he is. That man there was a dancing champion of Britain. Taggerty. That man. Anyway —
MC: So that was. What were you flying then at Market Harborough, you said?
AM: Market Harborough was flying Wellingtons there. We crashed in the Wellington there. What actually happened was we took off and I said to the skipper, ‘There’s a strong smell of petrol in the rear turret.’ So he said, ‘Well, I don’t know where it’s coming from Mac but everything’s registering. Everything’s perfect up front.’ We was on night bombing. Practice bombing. And so the second time I said, ‘It’s getting stronger skipper.’ So the third time I said, ‘It’s getting stronger still.’ And the fourth time I said, ‘I’m soaked to the skin in petrol skipper.’ So he says, ‘Oh well we’ll make it back to base. We’ll cancel the bombing and go back to base.’ So it was night time and we were now in funnels and halfway down in funnels we’d passed over some buildings of the ‘drome which was Market Harborough and all of a sudden the aircraft did an about turn. The engine cut out. One of the engines cut out and of course immediately we turned around and we were now going backwards now, still going down and we landed in a field and we crossed three ditches and the undercarriage stood up to the thumping it got at each ditch that we crossed and we landed up in a cornfield. Now, I now had turned my turret on the beam, opened the turret door at the back of me — two, two doors and opened them and I’m getting my parachute on and the parachute caught on something and it bellowed out and we were still going forward but what happened the parachute went that way. It went starboard to the starboard side, dragged me out the turret and dragged me across this cornfield. Anyroad, I got up and got the parachute and put it all together. The skipper says to me, ‘What have you been doing over there?’ So I said, ‘Well’ I said, ‘We touched down,’ I said, ‘And we were bouncing along and,’ I said, ‘My parachute caught on something, I don’t know what and,’ I said, ‘It bellowed out and I said, ‘I got dragged out the rear turret.’ I was sat right way around for it to happen because I was soaked to the skin with petrol you see and I thought now if we’re going to start catching fire I don’t want to be anywhere near where there’s fire. I’ll be the first one out. Anyroads, I picked up my parachute and I went to where the skipper was stood and they were all congregating there and he says, ‘What happened to you then Mac?’ He said, ‘Well you stink of petrol.’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘They’ll be having me up for pinching aircraft petrol.’ [laughs] He says —
MC: And that was in Wellingtons at —
AM: That was a Wellington. Anyroads they —
Other: That was in England?
AM: Pardon?
Other: That was in England?
MC: Yeah. Market Harborough.
AM: Market Harborough yeah.
MC: Yeah. That would be 14 OTU.
AM: It may be in —
MC: Yeah.
AM: May be marked in there. I don’t know. That was, that was that. And anyroads we were all safe and that was the main thing. Nobody was damaged. Except the farmer came out and started saying to the pilot, which was Hugh Skilling, he says, he used a bit of bad language. He says, and I thought you’d better just watch your tongue because Hughie could, he could use these could Hughie. I thought — you’re going to get the wrong end of Hughie.
MC: What was the outcome of this crewing up?
AM: Pardon?
MC: Crewing up. You never. Where did you crew up?
AM: We crewed, I think, did we crew, I’m just not sure. I can’t remember whether it was Market Harborough or where it was but it maybe tells you on there. I just don’t remember.
MC: Yeah.
AM: But —
MC: But obviously you got together with Hughie and therefore —
AM: But anyway we were flying in from Market Harborough and was swapping between Market Harborough and Husband Bosworth. The two stations. One day we was flying from Market Harborough and another day we was back at Husbands Bosworth and then we were back again and then from Husbands Bosworth we went down to [pause] to Newark.
Other: Winthorpe.
AM: Winthorpe yeah.
MC: The Conversion Unit.
AM: Yeah and it was quite, we nearly killed a WAAF there. What happened there we was coming in to land with a Stirling. We’d been on a cross country and it was daytime and coming in to land we was orbiting the ‘drome and as we orbited the ‘drome it was, ‘Select undercarriage Fred.’ That was Fred Clarke the flight mechanic.
Other: Yeah.
AM: They selected the undercarriage. One wheel went down and one wheel went up. One wheel went up inside the wing, inside the engine nacelle there and the other one went down and what happened was it pushed the dinghy out.
Other: Good lord.
AM: The dinghy inflated and all the gear in it and it went —
Other: Jesus.
AM: In this manner going down, as it went down on to the ’drome. Now, I watched it go down and as I was watching it go down there was a WAAF walking across the ’drome, the grass. And this here, this here dinghy it actually just missed her by a few inches. Not a foot but inches and it must have burst behind her. Well what happened to her after that I don’t know. I don’t know whether she fainted or what happened but anyroads I never did know the outcome of what happened to her but it must have made her jump to say the least.
MC: So you were in Stirlings there?
AM: I was in Stirlings there.
MC: Yeah and then you went into —
AM: And with the Stirling we went up then to Woodbridge. Landed with that —
Other: Oh yes.
AM: And then we had several other. We went on a leaflet raid over Germany with the Stirling and we was with the bomber stream. In front of the bomber stream I would think. It’s in there anyway. And we came back from that raid and what happened. We had another do with a Stirling. We had one or two dos with that thing. Nobody liked them. They used to call them flying coffins, the Stirling. That were the common name they used in the air force by air crew because we was over the Wash one day and we got into a cloud there and we were icing up. And it was summer time. And we was icing up and the skipper says, ‘Get ready to jump.’ So of course I opened my bomb doors not my bomb doors, my turret doors.
Other: Turret.
AM: And I was sat ready for jumping out and I could see water below us. I thought oh I don’t fancy that. But anyway we suddenly came into an area where there was a huge gap in the cloud and the sun was coming through. ‘Don’t jump,’ he says, ‘Don’t anybody jump.’ He says, ‘Stay where you are. Take your, reposition yourself wherever you are,’ and we all got back in to the, well I had just got the doors closed and got back in because the ice was all falling off the aircraft whilst we was in this here big hole in the cloud. So that was one episode and of course you couldn’t, with a Stirling, you were lucky if you could get off the ground with them they were that unreliable. Terrible things. Anyroad, that was it. We had one or two little dos with Stirlings and I have a feeling we went back again with another Stirling for some reason but anyway we didn’t, we went back. We had a full, we were on a Lanc and we had a full bomb load on, a full petrol load and we got to the end of the runway and it’s the first time I’ve heard metal tearing and it’s a name, a sound I’ll never forget. If I ever hear it again I can be in a dark room and I’ll know what it is. But we heard this here tearing sound and we got airborne and we knew what had happened ‘cause the wheel and all the lot were just flopping about. All the undercarriage was just hanging by some, something thin. Whether it was wire or, or some metals, you know, it wasn’t very heavy metal whatever it was and it was hanging down from the undercarriage area. And we were told to circle, orbit the ‘drome until contacted and we did this while the bomber stream was taking off and when they were taking off we were told, ‘Make out for the North Sea, jettison your bombs and then come back.’ So we went out to the North Sea to — there’s an area where we, we dropped bombs and we went out there. And we couldn’t get the bomb doors open because the bomb doors and the undercarriage were on the same hydraulic circuit and the fluid from the, the just a minute what do they call it um it’s a pump, hydraulic pump. Oh it’ll come to me in a minute. I’ll carry on talking and then it’ll maybe come back to me, the name of it. It was just on the starboard side about nine foot inside on the starboard side of the Lanc was this here recuperation cylinder I think they called it.
Other: It went bang when the clack valve worked.
AM: Pardon?
Other: It used to go bang when the clack valve.
AM: Oh I don’t know.
Other: When the pressure was up the top. Yes.
AM: Oh I don’t know about that. But —
Other: Oh dear.
AM: Anyway, to cut a long story short we tried to get this hydraulic cylinder to operate. To empty or to, to function the bomb doors. We couldn’t get them open. And so we tried everything. So the bomb aimer says, ‘Skipper I’ve an idea if you let me do it.’ So he said, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘I’ll drop a thousand pounder.’ I think he said a thousand pounder but normally it were five hundred but anyroad whether it was five, I’ll say five hundred to be on the safe side. He says, ‘I’ll drop a five hundred pound bomb on the bomb doors while they’re being operated to open.’ So he dropped the, I’ll say a thousand pounder, dropped it on the bomb doors. No. They didn’t open so he says, ‘Well, what you can do Skipper,’ he says, ‘With that thousand pounder on the, laying on the bomb door it’s got the safety pin in,’ he said, ‘If you do a tight bank and do it a — centrifugal force will force the doors open.’ Didn’t work. So he says, ‘Well can we drop another one at the other end of the bomb bay?’ He said, ‘That’s up at the front,’ He said, ‘If we drop one at the back that’s two bombs in the bomb bay hanging on the doors and if you do banking with them then it should, should work.’ No. It still didn’t work. So, anyroads we tried all sorts of manoeuvres one after the other and we were, it’s in the book there. I don’t know whether it was two or three hours there trying to get the doors, bomb doors open. It’s there somewhere and anyway it wouldn’t work so I, I made a suggestion, I says, ‘Can I butt in Hughie?’ He said, ‘Why? What did you want to say?’ I said, ‘Well we haven’t tried something have we?’ So he said, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘We think that the fluid out of the hydro — the —
Other: Accumulator.
AM: Accumulator.
Other: Yeah.
AM: Has — it’s emptied and it’s working trying to open the bomb doors on an empty system’. I said, ‘Might I make a suggestion? Maybe somebody’s not agreeing, going to agree with what I say but I’ll say it.’ I said, ‘If we all use the elsan bucket and Johnny and I,’ that’s the mid-upper gunner and I —
Other: Pee in the hydraulic system [laughs]
AM: If we can pour it in to the recuperation cylinder —
Other: Yeah.
AM: It might work. I said, ‘I know it’s water and it has hydraulic fluid in it but,’ I said, ‘It might work. Can we try it?’ ‘We’ll try anything Mac.’ Because we’d been back to base and we’d had instructions to get rid of the aircraft. Point it out to sea and —
Other: Yeah.
AM: Bale out over land and you’ll be picked up. And we didn’t want to lose G George. Anyroads, what happened was we all used the elsan bucket and we took the elsan bucket to the hydraulic —
Other: Yes.
AM: Unit there. Took the bung off the top, unscrewed it and we gently poured the fluid into it and it filled it. We said, ‘Try the, try the bomb doors.’ Opened. Come open.
Other: You see? Genius.
AM: So anyroad, anyroads that, we got rid of the bombs. Now, we went up to Woodbridge and we left the Lanc there. It was left there with a lot more Lancs and stuff there.
MC: So that story was when, when you was with 50 Squadron?
AM: Yeah.
MC: Yeah prior to that you’d obviously been to Lancaster Finishing School had you?
AM: Yeah, we’d been to Lanc, yeah, we went to Syerston. Syerston. That’s where we went to. I missed that one out. Yeah that’s Syerston. That was on the way from Newark to Leicester. When you leave Newark it’s on, comes out to the Six Hills Road I think they call it.
Other: Yes. I remember it being built.
AM: Yeah. I’d forgotten that.
MC: So your first operations at, on 50 Squadron, what were they like? You know, can you remember your first operation?
AM: Yeah. That’s what when we went to an oil refinery. Homburg. I think that was the name of it. Homburg.
MC: Yeah.
AM: And we went there and it’s the first time I’d ever been up on a raid and I put the turret on the beam and I stood up hanging out of the turret because the sheet was, you know, they took the sheet out in front of you. The side ones were in but not in front of you. Well I could get outside the turret and I leaned out and with the turret being on the beam the wing came up and I could see above the wing now and I could see it. I thought, ‘Are we going to go through that?’ [laughs] I thought we’ll never get through that. Anyroad, we got through without a scratch. I couldn’t believe it but that’s what happened. That was the first one. Homburg. But we did get clobbered eventually and that was in a Lanc and we had a few episodes.
MC: What about Trondheim? You mentioned Trondheim.
AM: Trondheim. Yeah. Trondheim. We were, I should say we were in the first aircraft there and when we got there it was one of those nights where the moon made it like daylight. It was, you could see miles and miles and when we got to Trondheim the Northern Lights were on and we saw the Northern Lights. I heard them talking up front, ‘Come up front and have a look at the Northern Lights,’ and we were approaching Trondheim. And oh, it was lit up lovely. It was a nice sight from up there. I really enjoyed it and I wouldn’t have known but for them to say because I mean I’m sat with my back to where they were looking but anyroads. I put her on the beam and looked out the turret on the port side looking out there and I could see all the coloured colours of the — what do they call it?
Other: Northern Lights.
AM: Northern lights. That’s it.
Other: Yeah.
AM: Now then we’re turning in now to bomb the target. You could see the target easy. We were low as well and we were coming in and all of a sudden we were heading in to bomb and all of a sudden the Germans set off these here smoke —
Other: Yeah.
AM: Smoke flares. And you couldn’t see the target so we had to — we were told to abandon the raid. Return to base. Now, that’s when one of them landed at Skell, at the base where they’d come from, where we’d all come from — Skellingthorpe. And that’s where they made a heavy landing and I heard them talking about this, by that was a rough landing, whoever made that and anyroad we didn’t go back to Skellingthorpe that day we landed at Carnaby. We was getting short of petrol so we had to make a forced landing at Carnaby. And then the next day we’d got topped up and we went on back to base and the same day as we were supposed to be back at Skellingthorpe and we landed at Carnaby that aircraft landed, made a bad landing and when they got to the dispersal, I think it was a 61 Squadron aircraft and what happened was the crew got on board the, on board the aircraft and, the ground crew that is but the air crew went to get their gear put away to the, to the locker room and then they went to the mess. Well whether they were at the mess or the locker room I don’t know where they were when there was a big bang and up went the aircraft with all the ground staff on. They were delayed action bombs you see.
Other: Enough said.
MC: You, you did a couple of trips to Munich.
AM: Yeah I did two trips to Munich. Yeah.
MC: Long trip?
AM: Yeah. They were long trips and the story with that really because what happened was [pause] where are we — I’ve got a picture here somewhere. There were two ladies. When we come to the reunion they were waiting for us, for Ken and I and, where is [pause] oh not there. Oh it must still be in there. Anyway these two ladies, one of them said, ‘I understand you was on Munich raid.’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ ‘What date?’ And I told her. Got the log book and got the date. ‘Oh that’s when my husband was killed. He was on that raid and he got killed.’ Well from there on it made a connection between us and the two ladies [pause] No, no, that’s a Polish squadron that. They invited me to a Polish squadron and that man there is Tom Wislocki. That man there took me there. He —
MC: So the, I mean obviously a couple of times to Munich. No mishaps with those really. Those raids. What about, I mean the other long one you did was Politz.
AM: Yeah. And Gydnia.
MC: Yeah. Gydnia.
AM: They were both in the Baltic.
MC: Yeah.
Other: Yeah.
AM: Yeah.
Other: That’s a long step.
AM: Yeah we got some long trips in. But—
MC: You did your first trip to Mittelland Canal.
AM: Mittelland Canal.
MC: Yeah.
AM: Yeah. That was, that was the trip where we came unstuck because the Mittelland Canal — there was only nine aircraft on that raid and we were one of the nine aircraft. We couldn’t believe it. Normally they say, ‘Would the members of 50 Squadron and 61 Squadron report to the briefing room.’
Other: Yeah.
AM: Well this time they didn’t. They says will the following crew, and they gave them the names of the crew. Ours was Skillings crew. Would they report to the ops block. And I thought well that’s nine crew. Now, one of the nine crew took off and this was to the Mittelland Canal with, from Wing Commander Flint he said, ‘If by chance you don’t get the doings don’t come back. I don’t want to see you. You’ve got to sink this barge. It’s most important because you know how,’ this, I’ll quote his actual words as near as I can remember and his actual words to us at briefing the nine crew he says, ‘You know how good the Tiger tank is? We’ve nothing to touch the Tiger tank. Well the Germans have built another one which is far superior to the Tiger tank and they’ll win the war with it if it gets through. You must sink it. If you don’t sink it you’ve got to bust the banks of the canal.’ This is at night time and you know what Jerry would be doing. He’d be waiting for us. Anyroad, we gets there and we goes in and we bombs. So we, we didn’t get, I don’t recall any anti–aircraft fire on that trip but maybe there was. Maybe we weren’t in the right place. I don’t know what the outcome of it was. But the first aircraft to take off he had a malfunction and ran off the runway so that reduced us now to eight aircraft. Enroute to the target we were, it was a dark night. It was a very bad dark night. It was pitch black and all of a sudden the sky was lit up. There was a Lanc on our port beam and he was on fire. Fire was streaming from his port wing. So Fritz had been underneath firing up. So, in the glow of the fire from him I could see another Lanc between him and us so that was three of us in a line. Now, on the starboard side just a few yards behind us and I mean a few yards, maybe thirty or forty yards, there was another Lanc and so anyroads the next thing I knew another flare, the lights had gone out on that one. I don’t know whether he’d got a fire extinguisher and put it out or whether it had gone down I don’t know. And, now then the one that was in between him and us he now was on fire the same as the previous one so that knocks two off the list and one that gone down at, that knocked three off so it left six aircraft to bomb the target. So the next thing I know the mid-upper screams out, ‘Corkscrew. Port. Go.’ And he screamed out and all of a sudden there was a great noise and [laughs] the turret filled with the fumes. He’d fired a rocket at us, this fighter and the fighter did a head on attack at night time in dark and he come just missing the top of the aircraft. It was a wonder he didn’t take the mid upper with him. And he just come above the top of us, filled the aircraft with the fumes from his rocket and also from the fumes from the aircraft coming to the rear turret and I wanted to fire at him but I thought if I fire at him I’ll hit this Lanc that’s following us and I don’t want to shoot one of ours down. I didn’t mind shooting him down but not, not one of ours. Anyroad, I had to let him go. I think that pilot must have been, he must have been a special pilot because it was absolutely pitch black and it was just a row. A lot of noise and a blur. That’s all you could say it was. You couldn’t, you couldn’t identify it because we were both going in different directions. So that was the, we thought it was a Fokke - Wulf 190. It could easily have been but we never did know the outcome of that. And I think we landed at where did we land from that? That was Mitteland Canal, oh coming back from it. I know now. We landed at Juvincourt in France. What happened was we was coming back and part of our route was over Belgium and over Belgium there was anti-aircraft fire taking place and we ran into this anti-aircraft fire and it blew all the starboard side of the nose off from the nose here on the starboard side which way around are we? Let’s get my bearings —
Other: Flight engineers side.
AM: Pardon?
Other: Flight engineers side.
AM: Yeah. Flight engineers side. Yeah. There we are. It was [pause] yeah, that side there. Yeah. Starboard, yeah, there we are. From, from the turret but right back to the wing that whole sheet was off there and that’s where the bomb aimer was laid looking for fighters.
Other: Yeah. Yeah.
AM: Through the downward looking piece of Perspex and the shell piece — the, this is common talk amongst those that were involved they said it must have been a piece of shrapnel that size and it had ripped off the whole sheet from that side from the top, from the top of the aircraft to the bottom was ripped off and we were told to bale out. Now, what had happened was the shell that had done that had cut my intercom so I didn’t hear the word, ‘Jump. Jump,’ and I’m still looking. We were in a cloud and we were, when I say in a cloud, in the searchlights and we’re going down and down and down and down and got the controls jammed with a piece of shrapnel. I don’t know if you know what the controls are like inside a Lanc but on the port side of the Lanc there’s a square rod about that square and it runs between two rollers down the port side and that comes from the skipper to the ailerons on the, on the tail and that — a wheel there, then the aileron control and then a wheel there. And this shrapnel had gone in there and the more he was pulling it in to get out the dive the tighter it was getting. So he took the, did the, wasn’t quite so obvious I wouldn’t think but he did, tried it, he put the nose into a steeper dive still. The shrapnel fell out and everybody was bailing out but me and, and the skipper of course. Anyway, we got out. He got her out the dive and what happened after that [pause] a bit a long ago now. Trying to remember what happened.
MC: He obviously managed to put the aircraft down.
AM: Yeah. Oh I know. He put a mayday out. That was it. A mayday. And we got called in to Juvincourt. Well, at Juvincourt we landed there and we were told to be careful because the previous day, I think they’d captured it the previous day, an aircraft had landed. It was a German fighter ‘drome this Juvincourt and a Lancaster had landed there. And it were night time so it would be the night before we were there and a man had come up out of the darkness and stabbed one of the crew to death. And so they sent a man out to us in a jeep or some kind of vehicle. I call it a jeep. Maybe it wasn’t a jeep, maybe, whatever it was and he said that the skipper says to him, ‘What are you carrying that sten gun for?’ He said, ‘Well yesterday,’ he said, ‘We had, last night,’ he said, ‘We had a Lanc land and the crew were stood outside the aircraft and a man come up and stabbed one of the crew to death,’ He said, ‘So I’ve brought the sten gun in case he comes up with you lot. If you, if you, when you lot get out your aircraft you need somebody with you with a gun.’ Well the skipper would have a gun anyway in there but he wouldn’t bring it out with him I don’t suppose but anyroad that’s where we were. So I goes to hand my, I goes to hand my parachute in and, ‘Oh where’s my seven and sixpence?’ So I says, ‘I’ll give you seven and sixpence,’ I said. ‘I told you when I fly over Germany I don’t carry money in my pocket,’ I said. ‘If we get shot down I’m not going to give them my bonus for shooting us down.’ So he says, ‘Well where is your money then?’ I says, ‘It’s back at camp.’ So he said, ‘Well, will it be alright?’ I said, ‘I’ve told the men in the billet if anything happens to me, spend it. Go and,’ and I told them where it is so I said, ‘It’ll be quite safe. They’re a good crowd. Which they were. I said, ‘You go and spend it and have a drink or two on me.’ But anyroads we got back to base and there’s a lot more I could tell you but it would take too long. A lot happened. I could nearly write a book on what happened when we got there at Juvincourt. It was a —
MC: Presumably the aircraft was repaired there was it? And you flew it back?
AM: No. No. It was a write off.
MC: Oh right.
Other: Yeah.
AM: It was scrapped straightaway.
MC: Was that G for George?
AM: And apparently — we went back there again in another Lanc taking prisoners back. Our prisoners. And the first time we landed there they were, we got, I got out the aircraft to see what was going on and a chap, he heard heard me talking. He said, ‘You’re from Hull.’ So I said, ‘Yeah I am.’ So he says, ‘Which is your aircraft?’ I said, ‘This one here’. ‘Can I come in your aircraft?’ So I says, ‘Yeah I think so.’ ‘Skipper? Can this here chap here come, come with us to Hull?’ ‘So he said, he’s from Hull, is he?’ So I said, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘And you are?’ So I said, ‘Yeah.’ So I says, ‘Could he go in the turret if I put him on safety?’ Well they were on safety anyway. So he says, ‘Yeah. Ok. You don’t mind do you?’ I said, ‘No. Let him come on.’ So I got him fixed up in the rear turret and closed the doors behind him and oh —
Other: Dear me.
AM: When we landed somewhere down the south of the England, I can’t remember where it was but south of England. Oh I was a pal for life. But I never did find out where he lived in Hull. So that was him.
Other: Lovely.
MC: So one of the last ops you did was to Vallo.
AM: Vallo, yeah.
MC: Yeah. You returned early I gather.
AM: Yeah. We, we had a —
MC: Crash landing.
Other: Boomerang.
AM: Yeah, we had. I can’t remember whether it was engine trouble or some mechanical trouble. Well damaged with shrapnel. That shrapnel was pretty accurate with the Germans. It really was. They were, they were good. They had some good equipment.
Other: Yes.
MC: So how many operations did you finish up doing?
AM: Pardon?
MC: How many operations did you finish up doing?
AM: Well I did twenty eight. I had two more to do and if I’d finished the two — I got clobbered on the twenty eighth one and I was laid unconscious on the floor of the turret and I spoke to the skipper when I come to. I thought I’d better get contacting him, he’ll be wondering what’s happening. So he says to me, he says, ‘Mac was you alright with that shell?’ So I had to put two and two together and I found out that a shell had burst while I was looking out the rear turret and it had knocked me down onto the floor of the turret and I was unconscious. I don’t know how long but I was unconscious on the floor and when I come up, you know, got my senses and I stood up in the turret and felt I felt all over around to see if I had any wounds or anything [laughs] and I hadn’t. And anyroads the intercom was still plugged in and I spoke to the skipper and he says, ‘Why was you disconnected?’ ‘Oh’ I said, ‘The plug come out.’ I said, ‘I’ve put it back in the socket.’ The intercom socket. It hadn’t. So, and I could sense that he didn’t believe me. Anyway, when we landed he said, ‘Mac will you come here. I want you.’ So we were in light now so he says, ‘Face me.’ So I faced him. He says, ‘Medical centre.’ So I said, ‘What for?’ He says, ‘You’re going to the medical centre. Your eyes are in a hell of a state.’ So I says, ‘Oh are they?’ He said, ‘Medical centre.’ I said, ‘No. I’ll be alright skip.’ ‘Mac,’ he said, ‘We rely on you.’ He says, ‘Medical centre.’ I says, ‘No. I don’t want to go skipper.’ He says, ‘Look. I don’t like using my rank but what’s that?’ I said, ‘Squadron leader,’ and I knew what was coming. He says ‘Well, I’m telling you medical centre now, while I’m here.’ And he wouldn’t leave me till he’d seen me go in to the medical centre and I was in bed for a fortnight and then I come out of that and by that time they’d done two ops so they’d finished their tour.
Other: Yeah.
AM: So I’d missed two trips. So that’s why I didn’t do the two trips. The last —
Other: Medical centre.
AM: Yeah. Loafing.
MC: So you did some, obviously you mentioned you went back to Juvincourt. That was to repatriate?
AM: Yeah we went, we went there. We did several different things when we finished flying. We went dropping bombs now the dropping the bombs business it’s been suggested that um that American flyer — what did they call him that got lost. They never found out where he was? It was suggested that he’d been they’d looked up his record and he’d been directed to the area. When we’d come back from a raid we had certain areas where we —
Other: Dumping ground.
AM: Dropped our bombs.
Other: Yeah.
AM: And apparently he’d been flying in a fighter. I don’t know what it was, maybe a Mustang, maybe a, whatever, anyway he’d been directed to fly to this area and if he was flying when they were jettisoning the bombs probably the bombs had got him and there was an article in the paper making this suggestion that, he was — was he a dance band leader? Glen Miller.
Other: Ah.
AM: That was it.
Other: Yes. Yes.
AM: And the suggestion being that he’d flown underneath a Lancaster which was getting rid of its —
Other: Dumping.
AM: Surplus bombs because they iced up you see did the bomb racks. Very often they iced up. I could tell you a story about that but I’dlistenin better not. It would take too much time.
MC: What story is that?
AM: Well what happened with that was this — that this Lancaster come back and dropped the bombs and they think it’s hit, hit Glen Miller and put him in to the ditch and that was the end of him and that was that. Now then as regards the what I was —
MC: About the bomb rack freezing up.
AM: Yeah. What happened was we went on a raid somewhere where there was some mountains and I think it was somewhere east of Munich on, I think so — somewhere in that area but anyroad what happened was when we was going to this area, what happened there, let’s get it — oh I know. We went to bomb the target but enroute to the target we went between, I know now, two mountains, one on the starboard side, one on the port side and as we were going through these mountains between the two I looked down and on the side of one of them was what I took to be a listening post. A German listening post. And now we got past them and we went on to the target. I thought oh if skip had given me permission I’d have given them a good squirt but —
Other: Yeah.
AM: He wouldn’t have done. Not to waste ammunition like that. But anyway we gets to the target, we runs over the target, select bombs down, no bombs dropped. So we went around again. Select bombs. No bombs dropped. So we went around again. No bombs dropped. Went around again. No bombs dropped. So now we’re making way home and we’d got rid of some of the five hundred pounders but the cookie was held up. So now a conversation took place now between the pilot and Dougie which I could hear and he says to Dougie, he said, ‘Dougie I know what you’re going to say but I’m telling you we’ve got to get rid of that cookie.’ He said, ‘If we don’t —’ and there was an intermediate conversation going on, he says, ‘If we don’t drop that cookie we’ll not reach the French coast.’ He said, ‘We’ve been around four times, around this target.’
Other: Yeah.
AM: He says, ‘And we’re getting a bit low on petrol.’ He said, ‘We’ll be lucky now if we get to the French coast never mind carrying a four thousand pounder back with us.’ ‘Well you heard what Wing Commander Flint said.’ So he said, ‘Yes, I did hear what Wing Commander Flint said. He said if you can’t get rid of a four thousand pounder I want to know what you’ve done with it. You’ve got to bring it back.’ So Dougie says, ‘Well I’m saying let’s take it back.’ So Hughie says, ‘Dougie I’m sorry.’ He says, ‘We’ll put it to the crew. What do we do? Drop it or do we go on? What are we to do?’ So he come to me, started with me. He says, ‘Mac, what do you think?’ I said, ‘Drop it.’ ‘Mid-upper?’ ‘Drop it.’ ‘Wireless op?’ ‘Drop it.’ ‘Navigator?’ ‘Drop it.’ ‘Flight engineer?’ ‘Drop it.’ ‘Me?’ That’s the pilot. ‘Drop it.’ So he says, ‘I think you’re outvoted aren’t you Dougie?’ Dougie Cruickshanks they called him. He said, ‘I think you’re outvoted. We’ve got to drop it.’ So he says, ‘Tell, me when you’re ready and you want the bomb doors open and we’ll get rid of that cookie if we can.’ So, we’re going along and Dougie says, ‘Skipper. When we came along here going to the target there’s a listening post here. Can I bomb that? ‘ So he says, ‘Yeah, you can if it gets rid of it.’ So he said, ‘Right.’ So I’m looking out the rear turret to see this here place coming up ‘cause I knew where it was now. I’d seen it going up. So I’m looking for it and it come up and it was lit up. Anyroad, there was such a bang and a crash. The skipper says, ‘Mac,’ he says, ‘Have we been hit? I says, ‘No’ I said, ‘But somebody else has.’ ‘Who?’ I says, ‘Where Dougie dropped the bomb. Where do you think he dropped it?’ So I said, ‘He’s got a bullseye with it.’ So he’d got this here listening post and it wasn’t there now. No lights. Nothing there. So —
Other: Oh dear.
AM: He made a pretty good shot. Mind you it was well up on the mountain side was this here, this here listening post.
Other: Oh dear.
AM: Now then, we gets back but we still had to land. I think we landed at Tangmere somewhere.
Other: Yes.
AM: On the, you’ll see somewhere there where we landed and we had to get petrolled up. When we got back from a raid somewhere. If you know which raid it was we’d come back on you can tell me the name of the target.
MC: When you landed at Tangmere, Mittelland.
AM: Pardon?
MC: Mittelland Canal.
AM: No. That wasn’t the Mittelland Canal. That was another time.
MC: Oh right. It says Tangmere.
AM: The Mittelland Canal was the one, that’s the one where we, where the two aircraft were set on fire at the side of us and where the Jerry come over and fired a rocket at us. That was the Mittelland Canal. North Germany.
MC: So —
AM: We landed somewhere. I think it was at Tangmere or somewhere we landed. Down south of England. Coming back from Munich area somewhere. I don’t think it was on the Munich raid we landed there but it was a raid somewhere up that way.
MC: There was a Munich raid where you landed at Ludford.
AM: Ludford Magna.
Other: Yeah.
AM: Yeah. We landed at several places coming back depending on what sort of a trip we’d had. I mean if you do a lot of corkscrewing and that you’re going to be galloping the petrol down.
MC: I’m sure, yeah. There’s one where you landed at Saffron Underwood.
AM: Grafton Underwood. Yeah.
MC: Grafton Underwood. Yeah.
AM: Yeah. We were fog bound and they had FIDO. We landed there and the Americans, I never let anybody say to me anything bad about them. To my way of thinking the Americans were marvellous and we’ve a lot to thank them for because they treated us like, you’d have thought we were royalty. We landed in the fog on their ‘drome. The food was good and the bloke at the counter says to me, ‘Don’t you like eggs?’ So I said, ‘Yes. Why?’ Well, I said, ‘I’ve got one.’ So he says, ‘You’ve only got one.’ I says, ‘Well can I have two?’ And he said, ‘You can have as many as you want.’ And wherever we landed on an American ‘drome they were absolutely tops. They were a marvellous crowd to me. Wherever we were with the Americans they were good.
MC: So what, so when you finished your tour and you did your, you obviously did Juvincourt, you did some bomb disposal. Where did you go after you’d finished your tour?
AM: Oh we got shifted about. We was at Sturgate. We was at Blyton. We was at Cranwell. And from Cranwell I got — went down to, is it Uxford, Uxbridge the demob centre.
Other: Uxbridge.
AM: Hmmn?
Other: Uxbridge.
AM: Uxbridge yeah. We got debriefed there. Got, not debriefed, got —
MC: Demobbed.
AM: Yeah demobbed from there.
MC: So what did you do after the war then when you —
AM: I went back to me firm that I was with.
MC: Oh you finished your apprenticeship.
AM: Yeah. Yeah.
MC: As an electrician.
AM: Yeah. It was a good firm. One of the best firms I worked for.
MC: What are your thoughts about your time in the air force?
AM: What was what?
MC: What are your thoughts about your time? Was it good?
AM: Well I thought it was a good thing for anybody. You see, I’m in a position now, I belong to Jehovah’s Witnesses and they don’t approve of people going into the forces. Not because they’ve anything against the forces but they don’t believe in war. And today I was cross questioned before I come out because one of the ladies from the Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my house and she didn’t realise that I was twigging what she was up to and they don’t want me to come here because they want no connection whatsoever to do with war or people who take part in wars which I did. And so I had to watch my Ps and Qs. So, I didn’t know I was coming here because he didn’t tell me. I didn’t, I knew we was coming somewhere around here but I didn’t know where, what or anything about it and so when I come in here, it was, I thought what are we going in there for? I didn’t know and you’ve opened my eyes to what’s what so —
MC: Well that’s lovely Alan and I thank you very much for being very frank and I’ve enjoyed your talk and it’s been very interesting. Thank you very much.
AM: Well I could have told you a lot more but —
MC: You can do if you wish.
AM: No [laughs].
MC: What else have you got to tell me then?
AM: No, you’ve got, you want to be going home for a meal or something.
MC: Well I do appreciate what you’ve done. Thank you, Alan.
AM: Ok.
MC: Thank you.


Mike Connock, “Interview with Edward Allan McDonald,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 24, 2024,

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