Interview with Alan Seagger


Interview with Alan Seagger


Before the war, Alan was an electrical apprentice. He joined the RAF and was posted to RAF Binbrook before being posted overseas. He was at RAF Shallufa for a time and was placed with No. 37 Squadron, who moved to Egypt. There were troops of different nationalities. After Libya, he moved to Tunisia, and he reports on a visit by Churchill to Tobruk. There were difficult conditions in the camps. He discusses the food rations and an unusual way of making tea. He also describes the very few occasions when they had free time, going into Cairo and swimming in the Mediterranean.
Alan refers to the failures and successes of the commanders during this period: General Wavell, General Auckinleck and Montgomery. Alan was classed as fitter, part of ground crew. Alan subsequently sailed to Bari in Italy and then on to Foggia. He talks of going to find an aircraft which had crashed in the mountains. He did not see his family for four years. He returned to Foggia and then went back to Egypt, initially to RAF Shallufa where he was impressed with his first Lancaster. Alan describes the inspections carried out. Alan recounts a couple of his wartime experiences and the sad loss of a 21 year old wireless operator/air gunner.








01:04:35 audio recording


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ASeaggerA160729, PSeaggerA1612


HD: Helen Durham recording for the International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive on Friday the 29th of July 2016 and the time is 10.15.
AS: Spot on.
HD: I’m here to interview Mr Alan Seagger from xxxx in Grimsby. Good morning.
AS: Good morning to you.
HD: Thank you so much for allowing us to come and interview.
AS: Yeah.
HD: First of all I’d like you just to tell me a little bit about what you did before the RAF.
AS: I was an apprentice in electrical. On, what shall we say? Really it would be not normal house wiring or anything like that? It was on heavy generators because everything or most things I should put in those days was DC direct debit — Direct Current as against what it is today which is a normal AC but yes I was apprenticed. I was getting a bit concerned what would happen to my apprenticeship when I left but fortunately it was covered alright and I was alright so. Then I got on draught to the place in — near Bedford where —
HD: This is when you joined the RAF.
AS: Yeah. That’s when I got my number and everything else and it was, it was quite a nice camp. Wasn’t there all that time. Got kitted out and all that sort of thing and then —
HD: And what year was this?
AS: ‘40. Probably. Yeah ’40. What are you shaking your head for?
HD: So you went to Bedford.
AS: Yeah
HD: And how long were you there for?
AS: Not very long but I couldn’t really tell you. Then we was told what they wanted us for which wasn’t in the electrical side of it. But still — I didn’t mind in the end because it was all, what shall we say, something that once I got used to it all I was quite happy. And then I went away on a course. I don’t know whether it was St Anne’s, St Athan’s or something like that. And then after that I was, I think I went home on a short leave and from the short leave I was posted to Binbrook. And —
HD: That was Binbrook in Lincolnshire.
AS: In Lincolnshire. Yeah. Which was a very strange posting at the time when I had to get out at a place called [pause] at a place called —? Was it Middle? What —?
HD: Right.
AS: Yeah. Something like that. What is it Beverley?
HD: Middle Rasen?
AS: What’s the two stops? There’s two. Little. Before you get to Lincoln.
BS: Middle Rasen. Market Rasen.
HD: Market Rasen. Yeah.
AS: Rasen.
HD: Yes. Right.
AS: And I had to get out there and I was very puzzled on how I got to the camp so the — I think he was probably the porter on the platform said, ‘Oh give them a ring. They’ll come and pick you up.’ And that was a journey from there to Binbrook. Why I couldn’t come all the way to Grimsby I don’t know. And I don’t think they knew it either at the time.
HD: No. And how long were you at Binbrook for?
AS: Oh [pause] Do you know I got posted abroad and that could be — what? The best part of a year I suppose? Might be a little bit longer. But in that time was a bit that I forgot to tell you about the other time. I was in a small party to go to [unclear] something like that. I’ve got it down here somewhere. [pause] Oh [unclear] anyway because there was two squadrons just arrived there and they’d got the same aircraft as I’d been on and we were to give them instruction on inspections and things like that. But the Poles, general notice they were Polish. Two squadrons. And I think off hand it was 300 and 301. I think that’s what it was. We were only there for a few days giving them general instruction. They were quite pleasant. Several of them spoke English and we came away back to camp and we carried on normal camp. I was there — there I should think about four days. Three or four days.
HD: Can you tell me a bit about your journey abroad? Where did you go?
AS: Where? What?
HD: About your journey abroad. Where? Where were you sent?
AS: Oh journey abroad. Yes. When we got posted abroad we had to go to Liverpool. And we got on a troop ship there called the Mooltan. Mooltan. Mooltan. And it was an Indian ship. Indian crew and everything. And we set off from Liverpool across the Atlantic towards America. Course we got in a big massive convoy. For protection for one thing. And then we travelled down the coast, the east coast of America until we were in line with that — and I still can’t remember the name but it was where this big disease was a little while ago. One of our nurses had to go —
HD: Sierra Leone? Sierra Leone.
AS: Yeah it was on the coast of Sierra Leone and we stayed there — I suppose a day. It might have been two days. Yeah. We came out of there, went down the coast of Africa, around the Cape until we got to Durban where we got off and we were camped on the racecourse there. We were there, oh, a couple of weeks probably and then we had instructions to go back to the docks —altogether like. And it was a lovely ship we saw there. We jokingly said to one another, ‘Cor it would be nice to go on that.’ And it was a Dutch liner that had just won the Blue Band of the Atlantic. And it was a gorgeous — it was a — the little I can say about it it was a ship inside a ship so you virtually — there was little or no getting seasick which I was all the way up the coast there to — that was the Indian Ocean into the Red Sea and into the Canal where we got off at the Canal end and we were on detail where we had to go. And we had to go to a camp called Shallufa which was in the Canal Zone. Course the Canal Zone was full of aerodromes when we got there but we went to Shallufa. I was at Shallufa a little while. Not long I don’t think. And that’s when, unfortunately when I got to Shallufa I should have been with 40 Squadron but I was taken out of that and put with 37 and I moved from Shallufa into Egypt itself which was [pause] I can’t think of the name of the camp at the moment. Anyway, that’s where I joined up with the new squadron and, and —
HD: What was it like being in Egypt at that time?
AS: Nothing but really if you like to look at it in that sense — troops. There was plenty of them. The Indian, New Zealand, Aussies, English. All of them. And then we moved out of, out of the camp to join, to join some of the squadron and —
HD: What was your job whilst you were there? What did you do?
AS: It was classed as Fitter 2 ‘cause I’d taken an extra exam when I was at Binbrook. At Lindholme ‘cause my money went up which was all we was interested in in those days and joined up with the rest of the squadron there. Or a lot of the squadron.
HD: So you were part of the ground crew.
AS: Oh yes. All the time.
HD: And how many members would be in your team?
AS: Oh. There’d be quite a number really because there’d be so many to an aircraft which would include, what should we, say — airframes, engines, [pause] instruments, and who else? You didn’t see many armourers because there was no need. Only on, when they were bombing up. Oh and then there was all the people who were filling the tanks up on, on petrol. Yeah. There was quite a few of those. And then as far as I know General Wavell had the dirty played on him in a sense. We thought it was the dirty but it probably was. They took a load of his soldiers away from him and put him to, over in to Greece and the islands there. And of course the Germans got to know and that opened them up and they pushed us all out virtually in a very very short time. But the man who was in charge in those days of course, he lost his command — Auchinleck. That’s right. General Auchinleck. He took over and he, he kept drawing the Germans on and on and on and pushing us all out of it ‘til it got to part of a village where was El Alamein in the end. But Jerry couldn’t get through it all that easy because it was high hills either side. So it suited him and he stopped them there and then and we all were — Abu Sueir — that’s the camp I was thinking of. I mean we went back to Abu Sueir getting ready to — whatever was to get ready because there was a lot of heavy bombing as well. Apart from the shelling there was bombing as well of the Germans and things like that. And [pause] I don’t know whether I told you about the trick that when Auchinleck lost his command then and after a lot of umming and ahhing one man who should have got the job got killed in an air crash and Monty took over then. And he kidded the Jerries by sending a load of the troops towards the south part of Egypt. Of course when they got to know about it they, they thought, right, this is the time to have a go here but they were waiting for them so after a lot of, and it was a lot of, what shall we say? A lot of gunfire and shells and things like that they broke through and starting pushing the Jerries back. And once they started there was no stopping them. The only place that I can think of off-hand where Jerry held the troops a bit was at a place called Tobruk because the Aussies were in there. They’d taken it over. Eventually they were got out anyway. And the move still pushed on and on and on. Got to Libya and from Libya they ran into what’s the next after that? Tunisia. And like we were following up as best we could and there was one part, when we got to Tunisia we were put in camp and it was an orchard but it was on a very high slope and it was apricots. That’s it. And we made pigs of ourselves probably with the fruit but still. Unfortunately, during the night there was a cloud burst which was something you never saw in the desert but it was pretty common in Tunisia and we got flooded out. Our equipment got washed away but still we overcome it in the end and packed up ready for the next move. And our next move was — oh it was near a church there. An old fashioned church and a lot of, where a lot of burials had taken place but still we moved on towards Tunis itself then. And, oh that’s when Jerry completely packed in virtually. I think Rommel cleared it off back and got as many troops out as they could. But we as I say we was there. Oh and we had a good thing come through for us all. Or we thought it was good at the time. Half the squadron would be given three days leave in Tunis. When we’d had our three days the other half could go which they did do. And then once we all got back together again they said, ‘Right. You’re on the move. You’re going to the port now.’ And I think the port was something like Bizerte. Something like that anyway. And we boarded this American troop carrier ship and we set off from there across the Mediterranean and we were going to [pause] first we were told we were going to Cyprus. Not Cyprus. What’s the island there at the base of Italy? Anyway, it got all diverted and we went around and in no doubt — like everybody else has heard about the lady’s foot and we went right the way around to to the port where we got off. I think I made a note of that one ‘cause I couldn’t remember it.
HD: Was it Sicily where you were?
AS: Bari.
HD: Bari.
AS: We landed at Bari or Bari or whatever they liked to call it. And that’s where we loaded. We landed. It was pitch dark. It was coldish and wet but still we’d landed and we knew we were in another country virtually then and —
HD: So were you moved around quite frequently?
AS: Yes. Yeah.
HD: How often did you stay at a place?
AS: You never really knew. Might be a couple or three days. Might not be. Anyway, from — from Bari or Bari whichever it was we headed to a place more towards the middle of the country called Foggia where we unloaded everything. Our aircraft caught up with us and things like that. Where we had to have new ones we got new ones and it was a little while after we’d been there so we were virtually [pause] there’s a proper word I think was we were seconded to the Americans. They didn’t actually give orders but they were in because they’d already landed on the west coast there. And then —
HD: Can we go back a bit and when you were in these various camps. What was it like living there?
AS: There was no real camps. There were no real camps. Once we’d left Egypt there were no real camps. You made your own camps and if you were fortunate, fortunate enough to find a place that had been used by Jerry for aircraft well your aircraft could use it but there weren’t so many ‘til we got to —more till we got to where all that trouble is just lately. There. Course there was a big aerodrome just outside.
HD: So what were the living conditions like?
AS: Well it was a bit tough. It was a bit tough but if you’d got yourself equipped properly, put it that way and funnily enough the best part of your equipment then was your greatcoat because it was so cold at night and you’d pitch your tent on a bit of proper decent land and, and — of course you didn’t hang about a lot. I’ll say that. You’d get moved on and on. Libya. That’s what I was trying to think of and there was this big aerodrome just outside. We stayed quite near to that and from there as I would say we moved on towards Tunisia then and in Tunisia we was in this orchard or whatever you would like to call it until — and even we liked it a little bit because the [pause] if any aircraft had landed there at night instead of us having to guard it the mounted Arab people — they took over and they used to gallop all around the camp and make sure, make sure everything was alright.
HD: How did you get on with the people?
AS: Well you didn’t have many outsiders. They’d be your own, you’re own people mostly.
HD: You didn’t mix with the other cultures.
AS: Yeah. Yeah. You didn’t mix. Well, you didn’t, you didn’t really see many others. Like we saw these mounted Arabs but they did a good job. They saved us a lot of work. But then we moved off right into Tunis. That’s where we got the time. And then Winston Churchill came out there and he had, of course there would be a big parade as you can imagine. And he was supposed to have said, I didn’t hear him say it, but he was supposed to have said, ‘I’m going to take the air force back to England.’ But we didn’t go. So we started, once we got into Italy, the bombing started and things like that. We took —
HD: So what year was this?
AS: El Alamein was 1942. It could have been the end of — or part of 1943 and part of ‘44 probably. And we had, as I say, taken over or were at the point of taking over to liberate although we were still operating with the Wimpies, the Blenheim and things like that and it was from there I was going to tell you a little bit. It’s a bit more juicier than any other part. We’d gone up into the mountains ‘cause one of our aircraft had crashed up there and when we eventually found it because it wasn’t easy trying to find exactly where they were and when we did find it it wasn’t a sight to see. No. And some of the crew had come out of the aircraft and they were laying there nude because they’d all been robbed of their clothes and things like that and there wasn’t a lot we could do about it. We did, where possible, if I remember rightly, we took their discs off ‘cause you know you have your discs and I think we had to hand them over to the police people. Anyway, we were glad to get away from that because we, we’d had to dig our truck out a few times because of the rain and mud. Anyway, coming back off that in the hope we’d be going back to the squadron in Foggia but that got stopped. We were met at this village and — by the Redcaps. The army Redcaps. They said, ‘Sorry. Off the road.’ So we got off the road. Unfortunately, where they stood it was like a bit of a space before you saw any houses and that so we were lucky to drop into that space and the reason why we had to do that and they hadn’t started then but we heard them coming along. There was the fourth Indian div were changing sides. They were moving from the west side, that’s right, to the east side. That’s right. And that took the best part of four days because you had your tanks going through. Your armoured vehicles and guns going through. ‘Course they weren’t hard up together. There was a slight gap all the way through. And I was an NCO then and the — it appears that the village doctor said I’ll, and he must have said this to the sergeant or flight sergeant who was in charge, ‘Two of you come to dinner on Saturday.’ Or Friday. Whichever it was. Which we did — we didn’t — and it was a strange way of eating at home I’ve ever noticed. You don’t get everything put in to dishes on the table. You started, what did we start with? I think we started off with a poached egg. Then started off with some meat or sausage and that’s why everything gets put on separately. Anyway, there was a glass of wine so we didn’t mind and we stayed there with them a couple or three hours before we came out and made sure everybody else was alright. They — that had been our biggest worry when we had got pushed off the side. They were getting food rations for us all. But —
HD: What was the food like whilst you were travelling around?
AS: Well, mostly it started off with — I’ll tell you its proper name — corned beef. We used to call it desert chicken. And from there you’d probably get a tin of vegetables which was [McConicky’s?] [McConicky’s?]. That’s it. And then you’d get something else that was — for making a cup of tea. You’d get the tea and then you’d get some powdered milk in it and if you took it then you could perhaps get a bit of sugar but not very much. There was never much sugar. And you made your own tea all the time when we moved up in the desert part. We made — you made your own tea. And of course petrol being in abundance you was alright to — perhaps this is not right to say but I don’t know, I’ll tell you anyway. We used to get some petrol and you always saved a can. Empty can. And you’d put whatever you were making tea in that and set fire to the petrol and in no time because it didn’t take long to boil you made yourself a cup of tea. And that’s how that went on and it even went on when I was in Italy. We used to do that sort of thing. If we, if we’d got the rations for a cup of tea. Anyway, we got back. After they’d, it was a good four days to the Indian Div going through and all waving and things like that. They waved to us and we returned it and then we moved on back to Foggia where we had to report as best we could to everything that we knew. There wasn’t a lot to report. But the crews. Although they were all dead. There was nobody alive and the plane was virtually a write-off. The — that was the responsibility of the police. What they called the gendarmes. Something like that. And they had to see to all that. Picking them up. Taking them away. But, as I say, it was a sight.
HD: How did you feel whilst you were moving?
AS: I wouldn’t want to see it again. Anyway, we, we got away in the end and got back to camp. That’s how things were then. The Germans in Italy packed in before those in Europe. It was only a matter of probably a week if it was a week. But in that time I was notified that as I’d been abroad quite a while I was to go back to England. It wasn’t, it wasn’t a fortnight’s leave. It might have been nine days or ten days leave. Which I did do. I had to travel up there through Switzerland. Simplon Tyrol it was called and but when we got to the station we weren’t allowed to even put a foot on to the platform. We had to stay on the train as best we were.
HD: This was in Switzerland.
AS: There was crowds there to see us. We moved on from there up through the rest of France and I think I came from Dieppe actually. I think I did. Dieppe to Folkestone I was on and the rations were very poor on the train travelling and so was the trains. They were hard seats and everything else. And then I got my leave and came into England and I was fortunate to see my parents again.
HD: So what was the time difference from when you went into the air force and then you got a break? You were able to come home? Was it a few years that you hadn’t seen your parents?
AS: I got, I got — we used to get weekend leaves from Binbrook. And, oh yes we also used got seven days leave from there. At times. Not very often. But at times. But —
HD: So when you were abroad how many years was it until you saw your parents again?
AS: Four years. Yeah. And then when my leave was up I had to make my way all the way back to where I started from. I think it was Foggia again. To meet up with my squadron. That’s when the rest of the lads said, ‘Oh don’t bother to unpack. We’re on our way back to Egypt.’ And we went all the way back. First of all I went back to Shallufa again. When I got to Shallufa I saw my first Lancaster bomber. It hadn’t got any ‘drome, aerodrome squadron letters on it or anything. It was brand new. Where it had come from I wouldn’t know. And after we’d been there the first couple of days they said, ‘Would you do an inspection on that Lanc that’s there?’ Well we were working blind to a sense but we got through. We knew near enough what we had to do. Then we left that and I went all the way back to Shallufa in Egypt again.
HD: What did you think of the Lancaster bomber?
AS: Oh it looked fantastic to me. It was, it was, as I say there was, there was no painting on it for what squadron it was going to or anything. We didn’t know anything about that. But it looked fantastic. Probably a better word for us — fantastic. And anyway, we did an inspection. Signed for it because you had — in the air force you signed for everything like that. One was for a daily inspection and you’d get a weekly one and then it would get bigger and bigger and bigger when it got to umpteen hours the aircraft had done it got sent to a repair and salvage squadron which was part of your unit and of course they would virtually strip it right down. And from then on after I’d got back there had another good word — ‘You’re on your way home.’ So what we had to do again —
HD: So did you make good friends in the RAF?
AS: Oh you always do. You probably don’t make a lot of [pause] people that you would call friends but you would call them people that you knew that, well, you know, you’d get chatting to and things like that. The only friend I made in the air force was when I was at Binbrook and I remember him coming there and we got talking and he said, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ I said, ‘I’ve got enough money. I’ll go into Grimsby.’ He said, ‘Oh can I come?’ I said, ‘Yeah. If you like.’ I said, ‘We’ll catch a bus here and that’ll take us to the old bus station in Grimsby which is by the level crossing. It’s not. I think they use if for coaches now. I’m not sure. And from there we went in the Pestle and Mortar and had a pint. Perhaps we might have had two. And that’s how things were. Then we got back to camp and then it became regular that if neither of us was on duty we’d come into Grimsby. And we used to go to the old, the old dance hall there. And of course you could only get a cup of tea in there. There was no spirits or drinks. You might get a, you might get a sandwich if you was lucky but — and that’s where Owen first met Beverley’s mother.
HD: So the gentleman’s name was Owen Clark. His name. Was it?
AS: Yeah. Yeah.
HD: Yes.
AS: And as I say all the time until I was on demob we came out together. Well even when he got posted when I was in Italy I met him. We was in, in the camp and he, our SP called me out the tent, He said, ‘Somebody wants to see you.’ And it was Owen and his whole crew. All on Wimps they were. One, two, three, four, five. About five of them and he was on his way to 40 Squadron then. Oh I got him his breakfast. That’s it. And he said, ‘Well keep in touch.’ Send a message to one another whenever we can which wasn’t always easy. Not in those days because 40 Squadron was a hell of a distance away from where I was at Foggia. But that’s how things got going.
HD: But you always kept in touch after the war.
AS: We kept in touch. And then after. Well he did afterwards because I was out probably long before him and we always sent one another Christmas cards. If we didn’t send anything else we sent Christmas cards ‘cause the next I heard he’d, he’d got married to Eva. And [pause] and the next bit of bad news I got was when he passed away.
HD: What year was that?
AS: Beverley could tell you. Something six. Six at the end. What was that?
BS: ’66. ’66. 1966. [unclear]
AS: And that’s when I had, I think it — I got a feeling it was Nancy that sent me the letter anyway that said that he’d passed away and I said, oh yeah, I said to Nancy what was Eva’s phone number? And she told me and I wrote it down and I phoned her up. I said, ‘I’ll come as soon as I can for a weekend but I don’t know how soon the soon can be.’ So, I eventually got out pretty quick anyway and I travelled up and they were both here when I came in. Nancy was the older sister and they were like blood brothers if you like. Put it that way. Where one was the other one was. And ‘cause in those days you couldn’t leave your car outside. You had to lights on it at night but the lady who lived in the end bungalow said to her, ‘Oh tell him to put it on our bit of land.’ So I didn’t have to put lights on it and that’s how things went on. I stayed till, I stayed till the Monday and I had to get back then and I said, ‘I’ll been in touch.’ And I used to phone her every night or she phoned me every night.
HD: Where were you living at the time?
AS: I was living in Worcester Park which is a suburb. Well it’s in Surrey and in those days it used to be called something in the London area. And I had a few weekends up and even even took Eva or even my parents came up a few times as well because to me in those days Grimsby was a smashing place. There was no hustle and bustle of traffic like there was in London and there was no what shall we say? Rowdyism as there is now unfortunately. And I came up and after a few weekends Eva and I decided to get married. And she — and I always remember she came down to, we stayed down in London for a while and she suddenly stopped. We were in Oxford Street then. She said, ‘I’ve made my mind up.’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘If you want me you’re going to have to come and live with me.’ And —
HD: So where did you first meet Eva?
AS: Pardon?
HD: Where did you first meet Eva?
AS: In Grimsby. There was Owen and I. He knew her before I did.
HD: And she was in the RAF as well?
AS: No. No. No. I think she was a busy girl working somewhere. I think she even worked in the jam factory. What was — no.
BS: She was in the laundry.
AS: Oh. But before that.
BS: No. She was in the laundry when you met her.
AS: Oh when I met her. Oh yeah. And that’s from there life began and we got married and —
HD: So is there — whilst you were in the RAF is there one experience that really stands out for you?
AS: Yeah. I suppose there was one thing could have stood out for me was they put the Wellingtons on bombing of Berlin which — it was a pushed job really. We had to fit false wings, well not wings, petrol tanks on them to take up the extra mileage they were doing but even then they never really got back. Fortunately they could land in Suffolk or somewhere like that. And we were bombing then. Oh and then there was a right panic but we never knew about the full story. Never did know. They were saying, ‘Right. We are going to bring canisters out of poison gas because Jerries’ using poison gas,’ but what they got out they put back in stock again here. They never used it. Never loaded it up. But it was, that was one of the panics that were on. Then there was another panic that was supposed to have happened because [pause] Owen and I were in the pub in the village and it came on the tannoy system, ‘Return to camp immediately everybody.’ There was quite a raid going on on Binbrook camp and it was said afterwards, I don’t know whether it was true or not because I didn’t see it but they said that one of the German aircraft landed and took off from Binbrook. ‘Cause there was no real runway at Binbrook then. It was all open fields on top of the hills there and they said one landed and took off again. Whether it was a leg pull on there but I think there could have been some truth in it.
HD: So going back to when you were in Egypt and travelling around Africa — when you had time off duty what did you do?
AS: Never had time off. You might have done if you was at base camp and you might say, ‘Oh let’s pop into Cairo for a couple of hours,’ or something like. But once you got on the move there was no — no leisure time as such. We had our own leisure to make do which you either played cards or, and things like that which was got through a bad hour or two. But normally all the good news come if you were at base. If you were at base they might say well nothing for you today like. Tonight. And you might say, ‘Oh well we’ll pop in. Into Cairo or anything like that.
HD: How did you feel when you were on these trips? How did you feel?
AS: Oh not bad because I got to know a nice little café in Cairo where we used to go and have our breakfast if we were early. And it, cor, the chap there used to pile us up and really looked, he didn’t mind. He’d say, ‘Oh if you’re hungry during the day come back. I’ll see what I’ve got,’ And things like that. He was a, he was a real gentleman actually. And that’s what he used to say, ‘Oh come back and have something to eat.’ But mostly if we went there, there was, on the corner of one of the main roads was — was like a restaurant really. You could go in even then and have a drink or whatever you wanted. And I always remember being in there one night, Owen and I, and some bigwigs — Egyptians — came in and sat quite near us actually but we didn’t know them or who they were. Though the boss did tell us that one of them was later to become one of the presidents but he was talking to us in the pub and well they even offered to buy us a drink. Which, we probably said yes. And that was it. But actually what his name was I didn’t really know but if that was him I remember him coming in and talking to us and things like that. ‘Cause —
HD: Were you ever frightened whilst you were working?
AS: Frightened? You might be a bit. Not necessarily frightened. You might be a bit edge on whether there was going to be a raid or not or anything like that. Yeah. Yeah. You’d be concerned. I wouldn’t say frightened because to be frightened — it’s a funny word I think when there’s other troops in the army. They would never use the word “frightened.” They would use the word that they [detained by?] and moving up or and we got to know quite a few army people when we were out there. As I say there was Aussies, New Zealanders, Indians, British. Moving out was quite something really. And I don’t know whether there was a photograph. Was there a photograph in there with Churchill talking? Well that was Tobruk. And we saw him coming from Tobruk. He came on to the squadron but he didn’t have anything to say. Montgomery used to ‘cause he was a [pause] nothing against him, he was a very religious type of person and if he wanted you for something if it was the whole squadron or if it was the army you had to shut your mouth ‘cause he’d say, ‘I’m doing the talking.’ And that’s how he carried on. We met him once or twice. He came in when he knew the squadron was moving on or — oh yeah. That was the sort of thing that went on but to say leisure time in the desert. No. Because if we, if we were fortunate enough to get near to the Mediterranean we could nip in and have a good splash around. Have a wash and have a swim because water was rationed. You had your water bottle that you had and the only blessing probably we had over the army lads that if we had an aircraft going back to base he’d come back with some water and probably a few bottles of wine and things like that where probably the army lads couldn’t get that sort of thing. And it was, it was in Italy that I did lose somebody that I got attached to I think. He was a wireless operator air gunner he was. Scotch lad. And he came up to me one day. He’d managed to have got hold of —whether he’d just been to base or not himself I don’t know but he’d got a bottle of wine and he said, ‘Al, will you come around my tent later on?’ which I did do. And he said, ‘It’s my twenty first today.’ So we drank this bottle up. And he said, ‘Well I’d better get ready ‘cause I’m on ops tonight.’ I said, ‘I might see you on take-off then because I shall be there.’ So he said, ‘Yeah.’ But unfortunately that was the last I saw of him. He went on to Romania that night. It was a big, big — oh a hell of a load of aircraft it was because that’s where Jerry was getting a lot of his petrol and stuff from and I think they bombed the hell out of it actually but unfortunately he must have been shot down or something like that. I don’t know but I never saw him anymore. All I know that his name was on that do at Runnymede but up to this day I can’t remember his name. There’s a lot of names I can’t remember but — and a lot of things I can’t remember.
HD: Well thank you so much for conducting this interview. It’s very kind of you.
AS: And I did like — he was a nice lad and I — things in general yeah I did like them.
HD: Good.
AS: I had some good times in the air force. I don’t know whether I told you I never regretted joining the air force. A lot of people did. They moaned from the day they got in until the day they got out but I didn’t mind it. You had to do what you had to do and you had to do what you was told to do but there you are. Yeah. Yeah. I met quite a few — what shall we say? Well known footballers, I think, when I was in the air force. There was Dodds. And there was several of the England team in those days that I got to know. Of course a lot of them joined up at virtually the same time as I did. They were all in the same queue as it were and we got chatting as you do.
HD: Well thank you Mr Seaggar. It’s been wonderful to hear your experiences.
AS: I hope it’s been some use to you.
HD: Most definitely. Thank you very much. So the interview finished at 11.20
AS: Right. Thank you. ‘Cause as I say, the air force, I’ve no grudges against them.



Helen Durham, “Interview with Alan Seagger,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 16, 2024,

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