Interview with Kenneth Trent


Interview with Kenneth Trent


Ken grew up in London and joined the Royal Air Force on his eighteenth birthday as a pilot. After exams and interview at RAF Uxbridge, he went to Number 9 Receiving Wing in Torquay and an Initial Training Wing in Stratford-upon-Avon. He then trained in Canada at an Elementary Flying Training School in Swift Current. This was followed by Innisfail and North Battleford where Ken flew Oxfords. After becoming a pilot, he went to a bombing and gunnery school at Mont-Joli and flew Battles before returning to the United Kingdom.
Ken went to RAF Shawbury, flying Oxfords. He was posted to RAF Lindholme on Wellingtons where he crewed up. He was posted for a very short time on Halifaxes, followed by a Conversion Unit onto Lancasters. He then went to RAF Elsham Wolds and 576 Squadron. From flight sergeant, he quickly became pilot officer.
Ken shares some good advice he received from a fellow pilot and describes some of his operations. Ken was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses. His first operation was to the Bielefeld viaduct and the last was to Berchtesgaden.
Ken flew three different Lancasters for 617 Squadron and they were the only heavy bomber crew to carry out over 100 operations. During his time at RAF Woodhall Spa, he fostered a good relationship with a local farmer.
When the war ended, he went to RAF Waddington and flew back army personnel from Italy.




Temporal Coverage




02:13:11 audio recording


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KT: Put your hand up when you –
CB: Yeah.
KT: Are fed up with what I’m saying.
CB: Right.
KT: Or if I’m saying too much of one particular subject. Is it running?
CB: So, my name is Chris Brockbank and we’re in St Helier and we’re just going to talk with Ken Trent about his experiences in the war as a bomber pilot and he did two tours. So if you’d like to start from your earliest recollections please Ken.
KT: Well my first [pause] I started — the first thing I can remember I should say is sitting in the back of a London taxi. I would be how old? Four? Three? Something like that. With my sister and my father. It was in the spring. It was a beautiful day and the pram hood was open on the taxi and we were — it was — but it wasn’t a happy journey. We were going to the [Will Abingdon?] Wing of the Middlesex Hospital to see my mum who was seriously ill. But God looked down on her and she got better and lived another nineteen years which was — but she still died at a very young age of fifty eight. Still, we survived this and then we come to the school. The first school I went to with my sister was St Peter’s, funnily enough. I go to a St Peter’s Church now. And it was across Goodmayes Park. We lived in Becontree and it was across Goodmayes Park and it was a little church school. My mum showed us the way there two or three times and of course in these days you could. Children were quite safe walking around and they used to play in the streets and all this sort of stuff whereas today you know it’s not quite so safe. Well, after we learned the way we used to, we walked to school and we did this for a few days and then we thought it would be a good idea — it was better to play in the park. We had to go cross Goodmayes Park and so we stayed in the park. The biggest problem was to find out the time so that, because we didn’t have clocks but we didn’t want to turn up at home at the wrong time. So as young as we were we weren’t completely stupid. But nevertheless it was only maybe ten or fifteen pupils that went out. Two didn’t turn up. They telephoned and my mum said, ‘Well, they were —’ and of course, so she goes in the park, she finds us and we were in a lot of trouble. She wouldn’t hit us or anything like that but we were in serious trouble. We never did it again. Well we got a little bit older. My mum and dad had a shop in 131 Becontree Avenue and they sold everything and it had a sub post office there. And you know [pause] I’m drying up for the moment.
CB: We can stop for a mo.
KT: Yeah. Just for a second.
[Recording paused]
KT: Ok. I’ve got it. We had a — my dad was a sub post master there. Now, the area was where they had cleared out the slums from East London. And basically I’m an East Londoner and I’m very happy about it. Very proud to be one. And a good Cockney as they say. Anyway, my dad sent me as we grew up and I became old enough he sent me to the local council school and after about a month or a couple of months I came home and the language was not too charming. I don’t think it was swearing but the accent, you know. It was pretty broad. Getting very broad and he didn’t fancy this. So he got me organised in a school in Loughton as a boarder. And the word Loughton School for boys. There weren’t many boarders there. The school would be something like two hundred pupils. There was, there were four boarders and we ate all our meals with the headmaster on the big table and he really eyed over our behaviour and table manners and etcetera etcetera. So at least I learned how to eat in company. Then he had a daughter. Cynthia. I can remember when we were having sausages for breakfast one morning and she said, ‘Daddy do they shoot sausages?’ and you know, it’s kind of funny we thought at the time. Anyway, Cynthia and I were good mates and of course we got caught in the rhododendrons. We thought we weren’t being seen. Finding out the differences between ourselves which I suppose is quite normal of kids at that age. All very innocent. Then following that I mean I was at the school for quite a few years but at one stage and it was at the end when I was ready to go. To to be moved on to another school that I had, we were playing I’m the king of castle, get down you dirty rascal and they pushed me off and I, my feet got caught. I fell down. A kid was running by and he kicked me on the head quite accidentally and so I’m laid out. And it developed into a haemorrhage. An internal haemorrhage in my head. And it showed itself. It was right at the end of term and it showed itself during the holidays. Anyway, they got over all that and or I did but I was in bed for about seven, eight weeks and I wasn’t allowed to get up and I had to keep as still as possible but it all got better. We then, the next thing that happened they entered me into Framlingham College in Suffolk. I think you could call it The Albert Memorial College and it’s in Framlingham and there’s a massive statue of Prince Albert there. But it was normally known as Framlingham College. Well, I went there and I was just on the edge from — I was just a little bit right at the end of junior school so they put me straightaway, this is in the Christmas term and they put me straightaway into the senior school. Now, to be — I completely and utterly wasted my parent’s money. I didn’t work. Apart from maths and arithmetic I, because mainly the headmaster used to take some of the lessons and I got on extremely well with him. Mr Whitworth was his name. And he sailed. And by this time I was very interested in sailing. I’ve been going on about the school but I haven’t talked about the holidays. And I’ll go on with them in a minute. So we go back to holidays. My parents had a little, you would call it a wooden shack on the beach at St Osyth which is known as Toosie St Osyth. There’s a priory there. Well if you go straight down onto the beach onto the, towards the sea, it was on the sea wall. It had about four rooms. It was a wooden shack and it was kind of built on stilts because the front of it was on the ground and the back of it was on stilts because the sea wall was underneath. It was wonderful for us children and there was my sister who was a couple of years older than me, myself and my cousin, Jean. And we, in Easter and summer we were there [noise on microphone] Ok? Yeah. We were there more or less all the time. And our parents would come down and to see us. Now, you imagine three kids and we were all very responsible as it turned out but you wouldn’t think we would be. But we had a ball. We learned how to be self sufficient. We did our own cooking at this very young age. We had a few shillings. We could go. I mean a few pounds I expect but I can’t remember, but there was a fish and chips, or a chippie as they say today, in a hut as you, as you drive over into the area. As you arrive. And we’d go there for fish and chips sometimes. But we, and my parents would come down. Only one of them because the other one would have to be in the shop. Fine. Now, we’ll go back to school. The school, when you get to Framlingham the majority of the pupils came from very wealthy families and some of them [pause] Barry Grant was a pal. He turned out to be a pal of mine. And right at the start he was a wonderful, wonderful musician who had, until he’d got to Framlingham had never had a lesson. But he was in demand. They lived in the Leigh area. You know in Southend and Leigh on the east coast. And he was in the area. He was in. He was required by the cinemas to play the organ in between the films. I think they were Compton organs that used to rise up out of the ground. So when I say he was a wonderful musician this was untrained natural ability. Of course he had his lessons also. You know, music lessons at Fram. So, you would, to give an example you would have a boy, a senior boy who’s got his driving licence or maybe with an L plate would drive to school at the beginning of term in a posh car. Little car. And then they’d take the trunk off the back, in. And the chauffeur would drive it back home. Well, I mean, you know I come out from the East End. My dad’s running an East End little shop and this was another world. Something I’d never ever come across and couldn’t believe but I wanted it. But I still didn’t work at school. I was in all sorts of trouble. Now, the boys. The majority of them, the parents, they were able to ring up the local town Framlingham, the grocer’s shop and get whatever they wanted delivered and they could put it in their tuck box. But we couldn’t do anything like this. We got a shilling a week. And you know their tuck boxes were full. Ours were empty after about a week. Anyway, I had to do something about this and I discussed it with Barry. And we decided that we would go in to the booze and fags business. And we [pause] first of all you’ve got to get out of the school. Well now the school locks up and when its locked they have to have provision for fire. And so by all exit doors there was a little box with a glass front and a key hanging in it and you smashed the glass front and opened the door. So I pinched the key before the end of term. I unscrewed the front of the box. Didn’t break the glass. Put any old key in there. Pinched their key. We put it all back as it was. And then when I’m home our next door, the shop next door was, I used to call him Uncle Dick. Dick Linnington. And Dick was, had been shipwright. Had been a sailor. Had been at sea all his life and I suppose he packed up around about fifty. And he’d started this shop. And amongst other things he cut keys. And it was all done with files. No machines. So he cut me a key. And when I got back I put the proper key back and my key fitted alright. And then we had a large bag that we could cart between us and so off we went to Framlingham Castle. And you’d walk around the back of the school. We came out at the back, go between the tuck shop and the chapel and then you went over a stile into a field and you could walk straight across a couple of fields and you were near Framlingham Castle. And right tucked under, just by the castle was a boozer. A pub. And we went in there and we bought as much as we could afford because I didn’t have much money. As much beer as we could, in bottles. It was just draught beer. The cheapest. In any, in any bottles that they had and they had screw tops so, you know, you could reuse them. And it might have stout. It might have light ale. Brown ale. Bitter. Or whatever. But it was all the same beer regardless. And we had a few packets of fags and we took them back and we found, gradually, carefully found a few customers. And they had to be warned to be very very careful of the cigarette butts. But the bottles — we wanted them back. Well, we actually, we were doing very well with this. We were getting something like between four and five shillings a week each. And in those days I mean our shilling a week, no we would get something like about five shillings a week between us. About two and six. Half a crown each. Which, when you consider that our weekly money, you know, pocket money was a shilling. We multiplied it. Anyway, we were doing alright. Well when we dragged this lot back and go down the corridor into the chapel and Barry of course. I was in the choir and when I was sitting in the choir I could see him pumping the organ and I had seen him take a sip out of the communion wine before now. Anyway, we stored the stuff in the organ and I mean at times Barry played the organ and then I was pumping it. We had quite a nice little business but nobody ever found out and we escaped. Now, I expect you know I’m writing a book and I wonder, I just wonder what they’re going to think when they, when they read this. Anyway, apart from that I was lazy. I was quite good at tennis, table tennis and squash. I mean there were everything was available there. From swimming, you know. There was rugby in the winter. In the Christmas term. Hockey. And cricket of course in the next two terms. And then there was riding. Tennis. All sorts of stuff on the side. Ok. Well we get to the end. The day before I left school I got the stick from prefects for smoking. I mean me. Getting caught smoking and I’d been so careful. Nobody had been rumbled with cigarettes. Well they may have been rumbled but they never — they didn’t leave butts around. We’d got them all, the smokers, pretty well trained who were our customers. But then I got caught. Stick off prefects is not a very pleasant thing. You, it’s at 9.30. After prayers. And you were in your pyjamas and you go down to the set room and it was four strokes. I think it says six in the book but that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It was four strokes and they, the prefects, there were two of them. One of them who I can remember distinctly. His name was Bellamy and he was in the first eleven as a fast bowler. Well, they would have a run up of about seven or eight, ten paces and run in and lay it on as hard as ever they could. And by the time you’d got four strokes — the biggest thing you mustn’t make a noise. I mean you’ve got to show, ‘Sod them. They’re not going to get me.’ And you’ve got to shut your mouth and keep it shut and just let them do it. As the thing that you just let them do it. Let’s do it. Just get there and just accept it. And of course when you’ve finished if you’re lucky you’ve just got massive bruising with welts on your bum. And if you’re unlucky you might have a little drop of blood. But you know I know this sounds in this day and age absolutely terrible but it did me no harm at all. And I realised that you know the rules. You break the rules you go for what you’ve got to get. But the people it may have damaged are the people that were dishing it out because they looked after their canes and they got anti-shock absorbers and stuff you know which I don’t think was very good training but nevertheless it happened. And that was the system as it was ninety, eighty years ago. Right. I left. And I left [pause] and for the winter term 1939 war was declared. I got myself a job. No. That’s really not true. I was lucky enough to get a job because my dad knew the chairman of John Knights. The soap company. And the job was really — I was obviously going in the services so it was a kind of semi, it was, it was a fill in and I must have been there for quite some time but all of a sudden all the men disappeared and the ladies, girls and ladies and women were taking over the running. It was a fantastic effort that they put in and they made a wonderful job. It wasn’t long before — and the other thing the company moved from Silvertown to Loughton. Strangely enough Loughton where I’d been at school. In a very large house with a lot of outbuildings and the office was all run from there and they’d fixed it all up. And I worked very very hard. I would stay the night in the big building all night. I camped in the big building and I had to keep — you know, things were different. There was a war on and everybody had to try and do their bit and I suddenly found although I didn’t do any work at school at all. Terribly lazy. I suddenly found there was an object in this and I could work until the job was done. And I did. And I worked. I worked all the hours and sometimes up to 10 o’clock at night and then I would camp down in this big house and there were — I mean I wasn’t the only one. There would be one or two others camping there as well. This was the spirit of England at that time. Anyway, it wasn’t very long before I found myself running the London forward section. The forward meaning arranging the invoicing and statements. No. I don’t think statements. Invoicing and organising deliveries to people in the London, to shops in the London area. Well at the time I was still there when the Channel Islands were taken over and although it didn’t affect me there was a big panic going on because of the money that was owing and orders to the various places. Nevertheless, I was also a member of the — what did they call it? Cadets. RAF cadets. Locally in Ilford. And we used to go there and you know I would be about eighteen and I thought I ought to join up and I would have only just been eighteen because it was December. And my eighteenth birthday would be in November. And so I applied to join the RAF. What as? I said pilot. And I really regretted not working at home, you know. At school I should say. I really regretted that because if I had I would have had no problems and I was thinking I’d never pass any of the exams. I’ll never pass the exams. Nevertheless, in just a few weeks I’m called to Uxbridge and I go down there and the exams were not that hard. And I did the exams. That was fine. Then we had to have an interview and I thought — well if they see my school record what chance have I got? It’s going to be absolutely dreadful. And you know this is something. Anyway, I’m worried. I wanted to be a pilot so much. I, eventually there was about seven or eight of us outside a room and you know, somebody had gone in and then he had come out and he said, ‘Trent. You’re next.’ So, I went in. Stood to attention and there was a bloke. Immaculately dressed. About ten years older than me. A bit older than me and he started off, ‘Where did you go to school?’ I said ‘Loughton School for Boys.’ And then I moved on as I got older. Oh I called it a prep school. It wasn’t a prep school but it sounded better, Loughton School, Prep School for Boys. Anyway, then — and the the next school? I said, ‘Framlingham College.’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘Which house?’ I said Garrett. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘I was in Garrett House as well.’ I got no problem. I’m in. and he said, you know, and all we talked about was school and Rupe and Pop and Colonel and all the other masters and stuff and those were their nicknames. Anyway, so I’m in. I go home and just a short time after that — maybe a month six weeks, I get a [pause] I, yes I think I went, no — I went to Uxbridge. And then from Uxbridge, there was a bunch of us, we were given railway warrants to Torquay. Number 9 RW. Receiving Wing. And we arrived down there and they kitted us out with all the stuff and were starting to march us up and down. Showing us how to make your bed for the daytime so that all the sheets are folded in a certain way and the blankets and all the, well for want of a better word the bull shit that they have in the services. And there they also I mean they started the marching and this, that and the other and also polishing your bloody boots. All the equipment that was issued including a thing called a hussif and the hussif was your needle and stuff like this for repairing your clothes and the word derives from housewife. Anyway, we also had loads of injections which made us feel a bit rough. But after, it was only about a week, seven or eight days we were posted to [pause] I can’t remember the number and I’ve got it in the book but it was an IT, Initial Training Wing at Stratford On Avon which is a beautiful lovely town. And we were in the Shakespeare Hotel right on the top of, you know, the top hotel in there. The only trouble is they’d taken out all the goodies but it was still a lovely place to be. We started the lectures. You know, there’s maths and navigation, theory of flight, instruments, map reading. You know, general things you would think you would need. And I worked hard. And, you know, just as an aside we used to church parade on a Sunday and I’m not sure if we got — I think we got a half a crown a day. That’s the seventeen and six a week and because I wanted to survive the war I thought it might be a good idea to give God a good donation every Sunday. So he got five bob of my seventeen and six every week. And I don’t know. Silly. But I did it, you know. That’s how you feel, and I’ve always attended church when possible and still do. Anyway, so, mind you with the behaviour things you wonder [laughs] you know. But there’s got to be some bad Christians as well as good ones. Anyway, so I went on from there. We had the exam. And all of sudden there was a massive panic. And before you could say, ‘Pack your bags. Pack your bags.’ Go to West Kirby. Or is it East Kirby? It’s by Liverpool. And we are — West Kirby isn’t it? Yes. And we are put aboard the Leopoldville which was a dirty old Polish tramp steamer. And we’re off. We’re off. We don’t know where we’re going. The boat’s going. But we wind up in Iceland. Now, on the way there was one big room with camps [pause] with what do you call them?
CB: Hammocks. Hammocks.
KT: Hammocks. That’s right. I couldn’t get the word. With hammocks. And underneath there were tables and underneath there’s the deck or the floor. And there were — guys were spread in the hammocks, on the tables, under the tables on the floor. And do you know I think being a bit on the selfish side I found a little corner for myself in a corridor and I slept. It was only a few days. Three, four or five days. And I slept — and in the corridor. Well one morning the old, you know, weather had gone a bit sour. The sea was getting up and the old tub was rolling all over the place and in the morning when I went into the big room there was about, I don’t know how much, a foot of water, a couple of feet of water and as the boat was rolling it was sloshing from one side to the other. Because they hadn’t secured the portholes properly and so every now and again until they got them secured they had like full steam hose. You know. And of course there was now a big dry out required and one thing or another. But I was happy in my little corner and I was very lucky. I must tell you the toilets. They were so absolutely abysmal. It was a plank. A big plank with several holes cut in it and it was on the port quarter. Secured. With hand holds. That’s where you performed in front of each other. But it was quite efficient because they just used to hose the deck off and it all used to go over the side so that, because the boat didn’t have sufficient toilet arrangements for the people, the number aboard. Anyway, we got to Iceland. We get unloaded and we go inland to a place called Helgafell. We were, we were sleeping in half built Nissen huts. We’d all got camp beds. Not camp beds. What do you call them? Sleeping bags and all this stuff and our kit bags and this and we slept in these Nissen huts. You know, one end, the end we were in, one end was open but there was lots of us and we were all started on the floor. And then when you woke up in the morning you weren’t cold and you’d all squash together in one big lump of human flesh and everybody was warm and it was ok. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. We ate there. Well one of the things in Iceland they’ve got hot springs and of course we’d got to have a go at that. It mean it was not warm and it wasn’t the middle of winter. It would be spring. It would be but it was a bit of snow around but not — it wasn’t too bad. So we were in there. All of us. Oh about twenty. Twenty, thirty of us. All out of our hut swimming. Hot. Beautiful. Smashing. And then all of a sudden a whole load of young girls turned up and they all get in. They’re all swimming. And they’re in the nude as well. So we couldn’t get out of the water and it was tricky. Anyway, we get back into town and we are put aboard a large liner and I don’t know the name of it. It was not the QE, the Queen Elizabeth. We went to Halifax. We’re stuck on a train for five days going to Swift Current which was where our EFTS — Elementary Flying Training. The journey was long. The trains are enormous. They are over a mile long. The whole lot makes England’s train system look as if its Hornby. Anyway, when we got to Winnipeg [pause] no. It was Trenton. I beg your pardon. It definitely wasn’t Winnipeg. It was Trenton. They had laid on, the powers that be had laid on a dance and they’d got a load of local girls with finger, finger stuff to eat and this, that and the other. And it was all very kind and lovely but then the Canadians are lovely because basically my family are all Canadian bar my sister and myself. So, then we eventually get to Swift Current and then we start with the lessons and then you know, you work hard and the actual work, the whole thing was easy. We had an interesting character on our course called Jimmy Edwards who I expect most of you have heard of and know. He did, at the beginning of the lectures before the lecturer had turned up he would stand in the front with his cane and doing exactly the same thing as he did after the war on television and in the theatre for millions of pounds. Anyway, that was Jimmy. The interesting bit is the first time you fly. And you go around. I can’t remember the name of my instructor. He was not liked. The other two pupils. There were three. He had three pupils. The other two asked to be exchanged, to change. To change. I really got on with him. He was, for me, just the right guy and he takes you around. There’s a Pitot head and you check your Pitot tube. You have to make sure the Pito tube doesn’t have a sock over it to look after it. And you check the ailerons, rudder, elevators and general look around and you look in the cockpit. This is the first time I’d ever seen. You know, you can imagine the excitement. Got the flying gear on. All the business. And you look and he was explaining the bits and pieces. And needle, ball and air speed is the basic thing for a Tiger. Anyway, we get in and he takes the thing off. And he instructed me to hold the stick with — between my fingers and not with a grip. And I suppose this is in case you freeze on it. Anyway, at take off and he showed me how to fly straight and level. You know, you’ve got to get the needle and the ball and you’ve got to maintain the same airspeed. And you know, it was not difficult and it wasn’t very long. Maybe ten minutes, quarter of an hour before I got the hang of just flying straight and level. I hadn’t done any turns or anything like that. And he said, ‘Now ease the stick forward. Ease the stick forward. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.’ And he said, ‘Now you’re doing about a hundred and twenty. Now ease it back. Back. Back. Come on. Back. Back.’ Bingo. We did a loop. And I did it. So the first time I ever got in an aeroplane I did a loop. And that to me is something. Anyway, then he shows you how to, you know rate one turns and turning. To give you the whole description would take a long time. So we go on, come in and land and he shows me how to land and you know he does this three or four times and then he lets me have a go with the, with the stick and he’s kind of guiding me. But anyway, this is kind of normal. The way we trained. And this went on for a while. Over a few days, maybe a couple of weeks and I can’t remember the hours. I’ve got them written down. I can’t remember, I think they were just short of four hours. Three forty, three fifty hours I had done at the time and I’d just done a landing and I’d taxied to turn into wind again to take off and in my book I said, “God got out.” And he said, you know, he just got out. ‘See what you can do.’ And I took off. No problem. And I’m in the air going up and I’m screaming at the top of my voice, ‘Mummy, if you could see me now.’ And I came around and did the thing. Came in and did, as far as I remember a pretty good landing. I don’t know. Anyway, I got it on the ground so it must have been good. But I couldn’t leave it. I opened the taps again and did another circuit. And i thought, ‘God, I’m going to be in trouble for that.’ I came in and landed and I would have loved to have done another one but I turned and taxied up to him thinking I’m going to be in trouble. And he was so pleased. But I got on with him all the time. They moved from Swift Current. They moved the whole — oh I must tell you. While I was there we bought a car. Four of us. Two dollars fifty each. It was a Model T Ford. It was another thing to start a Model T Ford in cold. Thirty below, forty below because this is by the — now we’ve gone through the summer. We’re in the winter. Zero. I’ve got to tell you quickly. You jack up the back wheel. Of course there’s no water. That’s all out. You stick the handle in the front. You don’t switch on because there’s a magneto and you just wind the handle and it’ll start. I wonder if I’ve got this right. I think it is. Anyway, it starts and you leave it warming for a while. Now you want some hot water. Some hot water with you. And after you’ve got it running and it has warmed up a bit you stop it, pour the water in, restart and it should start no problem. No. Sorry. You don’t stop it. You just pour the water in the radiator but if it stops you’ve got to get the water out of the radiator straightaway because it’ll be frozen in no time. Anyway, and the tap will work because the tap will be hot. Anyway, as soon as you’ve got that and you get it running for a while then you have to stop it and put the fan belt on because the fan belt drives the water pump. But before you do that you’ve got to pour water on the water pump to thaw it out. And then you put the fan belt on. Start it. And now you want somebody to push you off the jack. And then you’re away. It’s quite a car to drive actually because the handbrake is part of the gearing mechanism. So if you’ve got the hand break is on now you take it half way off and you’ve got a pedal that you press and when you push that the car goes forward. And then you put the handbrake off and then take your foot off the pedal, off the pedal and you are in top gear. So if you are on the ground and — if you’re stationery I should say and you start it and then you take the handbrake all the way off it promptly stalls because you’re putting it in top gear. Anyway, there we are. That’s enough of that one. We moved to Innisfail. The whole outfit. And we weren’t allowed to drive the car. It was about four hundred miles. We flew the aircraft and we got two ground crew and we got them permission and they drove it the four hundred miles and they had a wonderful holiday apparently because by — anyway then we flew and there was, it was very easy. You know, it’s easy flying in Canada because everything is marked in squares and all the roads go north or south. North south or east west. And you can’t go wrong. All you’ve got to know is the latitude and it is so easy. Anyway, we get there and we had a Chinook wind. Now a Chinook — it’s a very hot. It’s very hot and it was over night and the whole place is white and covered in snow and the snow would have been on the ground unless there had been a previous Chinook wind. It would have been on the ground since about September-time as it fell and it would stay there if there was no Chinook wind right the way through until the spring. But we had, they do get, in Alberta they do get a few Chinook winds and the — when you wake up in the morning most of the snow has gone. All the snow on the ground but the stuff in the hilly or where there were big drifts, yes there would be snow there but basically it had gone. But the thing it did it thawed out the top of the lakes and so all of a sudden you’ve got water on top of lakes and then a couple of nights later it’s all frozen again and you’ve got ideal skating conditions. Anyway, we met a couple of, they were, you know the Canadians were very good and very nice to us and in the [pause] they were asking us to their homes for a meal and stuff and my pal Bob Sergeant and I got invited to a Mrs McGee for a meal. And when we got there she was, she was a widow. Her husband had died and she had two beautiful daughters. Just right. And they were around about, you know, our age or maybe just a little bit less but more or less our age. And of course it wasn’t very long before the rest of our stay in Innisfail. This is, I don’t know if I told you we went from Innisfail from Saskatoon er Swift Current. To Alberta. To Innisfail which is not far from Calgary. Anyway, so we had a great time with the girls and finishing the course, took the exams and then I was posted, along with the rest of the course to North Battleford in Saskatchewan. And then big disappointment — onto Airspeed Oxfords. So that meant I wasn’t going to be one of these lovely boys with the Battle of Britain guys who used to be at High Beach with all the best birds and a little car and stuff like this with their wings. And these were the Battle of Britain guys. And this was the thing that, I used to go to High Beach with my bicycle and this was really part of the reasons why I joined the air force. To see them. Well, so I’m going to be a bomber pilot. And we did the course. There was no problem with the course. One of the strange things, well, one of the things that happened — we were on a — of course there was a big thing about navigation and etcetera. So, navigation. I was up as the navigator and there was another pupil as a pilot and we had a route to take and I got utterly and completely lost. But there’s a bonus also in Canada because they have grain elevators and I came, we came down or he came down and we read the name of the grain elevator and it was Humboldt in Saskatchewan. I had an auntie who lives in Humboldt and actually she’s been to Jersey where I live now. This was years ago. Forty odd ago. And she’s been here with us when our children were very small. And she lived to a hundred and ten. And she died when she was a hundred and ten. Auntie Dorothy. Well, it was, it was her home town but having found that out and I found my way back to where we should have been but I made a complete imagination of the course I should have done. Filled in wind drifts and everything else and it was just a load of [pause] it wasn’t rubbish because it was as my guess for what would have, you know what it would have been like if we’d done the right thing and I put it in and with my fingers crossed it was going to be all right. And I got a passed. I can’t believe it but I did. Anyway, we eventually, we get to the wings exam and there were a hundred and forty of us. A hundred and forty passed it. I don’t know how many, how many failed. But Jimmy Edwards was twenty second and I was fifteenth. So I had worked hard. The first forty got commissions. But I, don’t forget I was out of the east end of London really and I was not considered to be officer material. Well I think really they’re right. Anyway, I didn’t, I didn’t get a commission. I was made a sergeant pilot and then the worst deal of all of course I’d sewn my wings on. That was about two minutes after. As soon as I got in. The first thing. We were all doing it. Anyway, I was posted to [pause] I can’t remember the number. It was a bombing and gunnery school at Mont-Joli on the banks of the St Lawrence in province Quebec. It was on the south bank facing north and it was literally just a few hundred yards away from the airfield. And we were flying Fairey Battles. And some of them had a gun at the back and they had UT pilots. Not pilots. Gunners under training. And then there would be two or three others that used to tow drogues. And the guys used to fire into the drogues. And so we were doing fifteen, twenty minute flights up and down up and down with different gunners all the time. I mean it might have been twenty five minutes — the flights. I can’t remember. But then you’ve got to taxi in, turn around, taxi out and take off and do another lot. And it was horrible. I [pause] I wanted, I joined the air force to get in the war and this wasn’t the war. And I just, I got back in to my very rebellious ways again and didn’t do everything right by a long way and of course the flying. It was so boring. I was really sticking my neck out. The first — what the hell was the first thing. There were three major things. One of them. Oh I know. The first one I was, I mean this was not like the western Canada. This is all hills and its beautiful beautiful countryside with hills, valleys and vales and its picturesque and a beautiful area. And absolutely great for fun with an aeroplane because the first thing that I did and never got known — it never became known but it nearly killed me. I’m flying up a valley as low as I can go and all of a sudden I’ve got a complete wall in front of me. The valleys ended and I don’t know what you call it. There would be a name for it. And I haven’t got enough room to turn around. And as soon as I saw it I got as much, I got a bit more height. As much as I could. I went as close to the port side as I possibly could. Stood the thing right on side and yanked the, you know got the stick right back and the bank at the end — must have missed that by about maybe a hundred feet. Maybe twenty. I don’t know but it was close. And then the bank the other side. But you live and I learn. But that’s if you live. And I learned. And the next thing I’m flying over — this is a period of quite a few months, I’m flying over a lake, and I’m going. Its ice and its winter and it’s and all of a sudden boom boom boom boom boom and it’s not much faster than that. I thought a propeller touching the ice would be brrrrrr but it’s not. It’s bang bang bang bang bang. Anyway, I eased the stick back and she came off. Now if you pull the stick back you hit your tail wheel on the ice and that would be curtains. So I was lucky. I didn’t really know but I eased the stick back, came off and the whole lot is like a big shaking machine because the propeller’s all out of balance and it was absolutely dreadful. So I went up to three thousand. I got up to something like three thousand feet and flew back to base and I thought well now the engine can’t stand this for long. It’s going to pack up and I’ll stick it on the ground on it’s, without the wheels and they won’t see anything about the propeller. And I flew. But you know the Merlin engine is a bit better than that. And I wound around in the end and I’ve got no fuel left. Well I had fuel but it was just a little fuel. I was running out of fuel so I came in and landed and I landed with the brakes on or I put them on straight away with the stick as far forward as I could get it thinking she’d stand up on her nose. But it didn’t happen. Went down and then the tail flopped down. Of course I hadn’t got any brakes. I’d burned them out. Well I taxied in and on Mont-Joli there was a big ditch both sides of the taxi strip. And so you’ve got to go faster and faster and faster to maintain your direction because [pause] and in the end I just cut the engines and she went on and she did a big circle to the left and she came up. I’ve got — she came up right outside the CFI’s, Chief Flying instructor’s office. Right bang outside with a bent prop. And he was out of that office before you could say knife. And he swallowed the story. I said I’d run into a snowdrift and that was right. But the station commander was a different cup of tea. He was older. He had grown up children and he said, ‘Come on. I’ll take you. Show me the marks on the runway,’ and there weren’t any marks of course. So, he said, ‘Now I know what you were doing. Now, tell me. I’m not going to do anything about it.’ And he wanted me to admit that I’d lied and I wouldn’t. So I carried the lie on. Rightly or wrongly I did. I said. I didn’t tell him. I stuck to my story. Well I know it was a big mistake because it had repercussions later. Oh months. A couple of months. Later on there was. Anyway, I was up but for the first time ever I was pulling a drogue. Now, I’d never, I was, you know I’d always had the fighter guys. You know the gunner guys. Anyway, so we’d done the exercising and one thing and another. And then you come over the dropping area. You drop the zone and then the drogue and then you circle around, land. And that’s that. Well, I thought before I do that I’ll do a few steep turns and watch the drogue go past me in the opposite direction. I thought well that would be a bit different. And I did that. Now, when you come out of a steep turn you take, a steep turn is you’ve got the kite almost on its side. Not quite. With the stick well back and the stick which is the elevators — those are the things that are doing the turn. And you do the turn. You do the hundred the hundred eighty degree turn. When you come out you take the bank off and you ease the stick forward a fraction. Obviously because you’ve had it back take the bank off ease the stick forward and I went to pull it back and it didn’t come back. So I pushed it forward and pulled it back and it went forward and never came back. And I couldn’t get it back. I pulled it. Did everything and told the crew to get out. I unhitched myself, opened the top and I’m standing in the cockpit looking back and the bloke hasn’t moved. So I got back in the cockpit and I wound the elevator trim fully tail heavy and I was put under open arrest for this lot and they had an enquiry. And the enquiry said that we didn’t come out of it until we were four hundred feet. Now, that is very very low when you’re coming straight down. Anyway, as I wound the elevator full tail heavy and then all of a sudden the stick came back all the way and I then grabbed the elevator controls. A little crank handle on the left side. On your left side. And I started winding it forward as fast as I could and the next thing I knew I passed out of course in the, with the G and we were two thousand feet going up but if I hadn’t taken the bank, wound the elevator trim forward the kite would have gone straight over in to a loop and straight in the ground. Anyway, we got away with it. Came in and landed and the guy in the back although he dropped, they went and dropped the drogue of course. He dropped the drogue but he crashed his head when the kite pulled out and he got a big bruise but and he went sick. But he was alright. He just, he’d just got a big bruise on his head. He hadn’t broken his head. You know. Cracked his skull or anything like that. Fortunately. The next day I did the test flight. They looked and they couldn’t find anything wrong. So [pause] and they put me under open arrest and this would have been because of the previous time that they were taking a strong view. And I hated where I was. I wanted to be in England. I wanted to get onto operations so, and it didn’t look as if I’d got any chance of this happening. So I cleared off and went skiing. And I left actually, with a chap called Doug Wiltshire, I don’t know whether he’s still alive. I’ve lost contact. But he was my Bridge partner and I knew him very well. Well, I left the, I’d arranged with Doug certain times when I could ring him so that I could find out the news. Find out. And the first day I’m away and I’m ringing up. No. No problem. So, the next day I ring up he says, ‘You’d better come back home. They’ve been up.’ The aircraft I was in was the lead of two more. So, there was three of them formation flying. They were up on formation flying exercise and they did a steep turn and exactly the same thing happened. And the bloke in the, who was leading the formation went straight in the ground head first and killed him. Well when I got back I’d broken the — I mean I was under open arrest and it wasn’t just absent without leave it was a much more serious crime but they, they ignored it and they just had me up for being AWOL for two days. And I know that because I’ve got my records and it’s in there. And they gave me a reprimand. But they posted me. It’s quite normal I think when you’ve got in this particular case it was very difficult for the station commander because they hadn’t listened to me and so therefore it had cost two lives. And they don’t know how I’m going to react. What I’m going to do. And I mean I could have, I knew the guy that killed himself. I can’t remember his name. He was a New Zealander and his birthday was the 18th of November. The day before mine. Mine’s the 19th of November. And that’s — but I knew him very well and I could just as well I mean I wouldn’t have done it but they thought I could have, I may have written to his parents and told his parents. So they posted me straight away back to England. Eureka. I’m on the way to get into the, what I joined up for. I crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth. No. Not the QE. The Queen Elizabeth 1. I think she finished her days in Hong Kong burning out. She caught fire and burned to pieces. Anyway, before I boarded the boat I bought three Crown and Anchor boards. And it was another, you know, another thing about me or character. There was some money around and I needed some of it and I was, I was more or less broke. I bought the three Crown and Anchor boards for ten dollars to start playing with which is not enough. So I got a board and I start a little game. You know, with a nice cockney accent which I can, which I had and still have basically and I did this – a little friendly game, you know , sort of business. The Americans, there must have been, there were thousands of them. I don’t know. One, two, three. I don’t know how many the boat would hold. There were not many English but there were loads and loads of Americans and they’d never seen Crown and Anchor. And it was a gambling game. They’d got to have a go at this. Well, I built the most important thing with it is that you’ve got to keep all the squares equally. With equal amounts of money on. If you get one with a great pile of money and it comes up and it comes up and it can come out two or three times I would have been broke. So, you, just a little friendly game you know. Oh no. Just. And so — but the money accumulates and it wasn’t very long before I got fifty, sixty dollars. And then of course the limit went up and up and up and then I got another board game. Another bloke — I said, ‘Do you want to earn a bit of money?’ you know. ‘Yeah.’ ‘I’ve got a board. You can set it up.’ And eventually I had the three boards going. I don’t know what happened on the crossing over on the Atlantic. I have no idea. All I did know was I wearing myself out walking around the ship picking up money. And when I got off the ship, I mean the guys that were running the things would have had as much or maybe more, I don’t know, than me but I got off the ship with just over three thousand pounds. Well now three thousand pounds in those days you could have bought a street of houses. But you know we were now in the throes of getting onto operations so the most important thing was to enjoy it. And I did but it took a little while. About a year or something but it was — but I did everything. Anyway, so we get back. We went to West Kirkby and from there I went to Shawbury and actually Prince Harry did some of his training or he was certainly stationed there for a while. I read it in the paper. I didn’t even know Shawbury was still going. And it, again it was Oxfords. And so you get back, you get in the Oxford and off you go up in the air and have a look around. Not a bit like Canada. Canada, in its way had its own kind of grandeur but it didn’t have — I mean, alright, the eastern area yes was very beautiful but when you’re flying over England it was beautiful but there wasn’t a straight road to be seen. I mean, Canada you could, it was so easy, but here you had to be a bit more, you know, it was different careful. And the same applied to the trains. They were just like little Hornby things. Anyway, everything was fine. They went up for a night flight and just familiarisation. I think it was the first time I’d been up and it was just to familiarise yourself with the local area and I flew down to the Wrekin and, you know, I had a look around. And, you know, there was no light. The whole place is, you know, blackout. Anyway, then I flew back and I ran into cloud and there was not supposed to be any cloud. It was supposed to be a clear night. And anyway, so I came down and I kept down to about I don’t know seven or eight hundred feet and I couldn’t see the ground so I went back to the Wrekin and the Wrekin hadn’t been shrouded in cloud. It was clear. And I did a very careful course and with the wind as far as I knew laid off and of course you, you have, you were given the wind speed and direction before you take off so you’ve got an idea of the wind. I laid a course on a timed run to get back to base. I ran it out and there’s nothing. So I came down again to about eight hundred feet and nothing. So I called up and there were thousands of people, hundreds. I don’t know. But the radio was jammed with people in the same situation. So I called up on [pause] I’ve forgotten it — six hundred, eight, anyway it’s the emergency frequency. I do know it but it’s slipped out of my mind.
CB: 121.5.
KT: Sorry?
CB: 121.5.
KT: No. No. It was different. Yeah. Anyway, I called up on the radio frequency on, you know, the emergency frequency. And they came back immediately, ‘Stand by,’ and I started, I flew squares. I can’t remember how many minutes. There might have been three minutes each leg and it seemed like a half an hour but I expect it was five minutes. Ten minutes at the most. And they came back and I asked for QDM to Shawbury and the QDM was 272. So I knew that I was east of the Welsh hills for sure. So I got on to 272 and I put full flap on. Tightened up the strap and dropped the speed down to just above stalling and I can’t remember what it would be. It might have been sixty. Sixty five. Something. But as slow as you could but I haven’t flown an Oxford for such a long I’m not sure. I think the stalling speed was about sixty five miles an hour and with full flap on you would get away with it at sixty. Anyway, so if you did hit anything there was a chance that you might be alright. And coming down like this and down and down and down and down and all of a sudden I see a light on the ground so I immediately put a bit more throttle on and go down towards the, then I see another one and I’m in a funnel. And a funnel is a lighted path before you get to an aerodrome and it leads you on to a runway. So, immediately I’d opened up, got the taps on so there’s no chance of stalling. I’ve got full flap on anyway. I drop the wheels and start coming in and there’s another bloody kite and he’s about — very close on the starboard side. But that’s no problem but you know he just appeared out of the fog and he flashed the same letter as me which was W. And you know didn’t ‘cause you know you were supposed to flash and get the green light that we weren’t messing about or anything like that. I wasn’t messing about or anything like that. So I flew alongside him and I came in and landed. The hut at the end of the runway fired off red flares to stop us landing because there were two kites coming in to land together. But of course I didn’t take any notice of that. Don’t forget by this time I’d got about fifteen hundred hours in and I’d been in the bombing gunnery school. That’s because I was first out. First up in the morning last, last off and I spent as many hours as I possibly could flying. Anyway, came in. I landed on the grass looking across the cockpit. The bloke did a perfectly good landing and then he obeyed the red flare, opened his taps up. A few seconds later he was dead. Or maybe a minute later. He took off. He — and the next thing before I had cleared the runway he killed himself. He’d gone into the ground. I don’t know whether he stalled or what he did. But then I can’t find my way in because I’m, I’m not on our aerodrome and I turned off left which is what I would do at home and I went in to no man’s land. And eventually I rang up and they sent a vehicle and I followed the vehicle in. And when I get there of all the people, I went into the mess and of all the people I bumped into was my Dougie Wiltshire my old bridge partner who I knew in Canada. Who I did the rigging to. Anyway, we’re there. Then we get posted to Lindholme and Lindholme is where we picked up on to Wellingtons and the Wellingtons was a different thing. But we’ve got to get a crew on. We were in an assembly room and all the different trades, you know, gunners and navigators, wireless ops, flight engineers, bomb aimers and etcetera and you just — I found a navigator. His name was Brinley and he’d got, what? He’d passed matric and stuff and I thought I couldn’t pass a bus let along matric. But he must be better than me but he should be able to navigate and we built the crew together somehow. It just happened. They just came together. We had a little tiny chap with the accent. You know — accent. You know. Clarence Derby. He was the rear gunner. Then there we had a mid-upper gunner who at the end of the training and when we were getting ready to go on operations suddenly decided it wasn’t for him and he went. In those days we’d call it LMF. He disappeared. I can’t, can’t remember his name or anything. We had brilliant navigator. Bill Johnson as a flight engineer. Noel Bosworth was bomb aimer. Who have I missed out? Oh Les Skelton, Australian. Still in touch with him. He’s the last one alive. He, he lives in Australia. Lived in Western Australia. I think that’s the whole crew. And then of course we start flying together. One of the interesting things. I pulled the flap. Now in an Oxford they had a flap lever but the propellers were locked so that they weren’t variable but they had a flap lever to try and get us used to [pause] not flaps. What am I talking about? What do they call it? Constant speed. The propeller going to coarse pitch and fine pitch. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m sorry. And when you were in you normally you take off in fine pitch. And to get it in fine pitch you pulled the lever up and the same thing. Well I got all mixed up and I landed up with the Lanc and pulled the bloody wheels up. And I knew immediately what I’d done and pushed the lever down again and they didn’t collapse. They didn’t. They stayed down. Two of them stayed down and the third one came up. It was the tail wheel. And so I got the crew out. I got underneath the tail wheel, lifted up the wheel came down and nobody knew. Luck. Anyway, fortunately I put the, realised and pulled the handle down quick. Anyway, we got, you become if you can fly, I know the kite was much bigger and there was a lot more to learn and you know from the operational point of view but one of the things I remember that stands in my mind was I’m in my mess having my dinner in the evening and I hear a bunch of kites taking off. And then I’m having my breakfast the next morning and they’re bloody well landing. And I’m thinking God they’ve been up there in the dark all night while I’ve been asleep. And I thought, God that’s terrifying. You know. But the training was extremely good and as you progressed through the course it was absolutely no problem. You know it was just, but, you know, the difference between no knowledge and a little knowledge and a lot of knowledge is a big difference. Anyway the thing worked fine. We spent hours and hours and hours on the bombing range trying to do the impossible. Getting a ten pound bomb somewhere near it. But you know if you do it enough times you get a bit better but you never become perfect. We got a lot better and I have dropped one or two real perfect bombs when I was on 617 Squadron later. But with these, S, I think they were called SABS. Semi-Automatic Bomb Site. They’d brought out another thing that had another word. It was like, I think it was an ABS. An Automatic Bomb Sight. That was later. That’ll come in in a minute. Anyway, so the net result we become pretty proficient and towards the end of the, of the course they sent us out on a diversionary thing. So, there was a bombing raid and they sent a whole bunch of us out to try and divert the enemy defence set up and then of course we all came back and landed and that was that. And then we were posted [pause] I cannot remember where. And in my book I don’t think I’ve got it. But it was on to a Halifax. It might be in the book but it’s slipped out of my mind at the moment. But we were posted on to Halifaxes and this four engines and this lasted no more than a week to two weeks at the most. And then we went to, in Lincolnshire, this and I’ve stayed there. The officer’s mess is now a hotel. And the name I know and it’s in the book. And I can give it to, I’ll have a look and I can find, look it up. I will think about because as it happens I managed to get the room I had while I was there.
CB: That’s Woodhall Spa.
KT: No. Woodhall Spa. I did that as well. In Woodhall Spa I got my old room when I went to a 617 reunion. But no, this was, anyway at the time the squadrons had been there or they eventually were there but it was a Conversion Unit onto a Lancaster. And then I’m posted on to Elsham Wolds. 576 Squadron Elsham Wolds and at the same time I’ve gone from sergeant, because I was a sergeant pilot. You became a flight sergeant automatically after six months. But eighteen months later I was still a sergeant because I’d had one or two — well because of the problems I had at Mont-Joli. Anyway, I went from sergeant, flight sergeant to pilot officer in five minutes. You know, when I say five minutes — in a matter of about three or four months. And I was given a bit of leave. I’m not sure if the whole crew was given some leave but I went down to London to All Kits I think it was called. Was it Cambridge Circus? All Kits. Got myself the gear and its surprising. The money was so cheap in those days. I think the allowance and I’m not sure, was forty pounds. And out of that you got a great coat, a uniform, and a couple of shirts I suppose. I can’t remember. Oh, the a hat. Your forage cap would be ok. Anyway, there we were. So I’m now Pilot Officer Trent with my kit bag and I’m off to Woodhall Spa. Not Woodhall Spa.
CB: Elsham Wolds.
KT: Elsham Wolds. Incidentally I’ve hunted at Elsham Wolds. You know. With horses of course. Anyway, that’s a by the way. So I get as close as I can on the bus. Barnetby le Wold. And they dropped me off and I’ve got about three miles walk but it shows how green I was. All I should have done was to have gone into a hotel, got a pint of beer and rung up and said I’m at such and such a hotel and they’d have picked me up. But I walked with my kit bag on my shoulder and I’m walking along a pace at a time. And I get the frights. As I’m walking along and I’m thinking I wonder if I’m going to walk back. I just wonder. And I get on and on and walk on and on and I walk and walk. And eventually I get there and kind of shelve it but you know it’s a thought that’s gone in your mind. I go into the mess. No. Not the mess. Sorry. I went and reported in and a batman showed me my room. I got myself sorted out and then I went into the mess and there was a little bugger, for a better word, with a pint of beer. He’d got wings and he’d got a DFM. And he was my sort of bloke. And the first thing he said, you know, he spoke to me straight away — his name was John Stevens. And John Stevens he’s died years ago. One of his sons, it’s got me a little bit funny because I’m so involved with family. One of his sons is my godson. His daughter lives in Jersey. She lived with us and was married from our house years ago now. Forty years ago actually yesterday. Forty years ago Sunday. But there we are that’s one of those things. They hit you on the soft spots. Anyway, so old John he’d done a tour of operations. And he starts talking to me about, you know, it’s all going on but not at that moment but the information gradually came over. One of the things was where he was such a good friend was he had a car and I didn’t have. So I had to make sure he was a good friend but he was and he said, you know, talking about operating. He said, ‘Be aggressive.’ Now then. This is not everybody’s thought at all but, ‘Be aggressive. If you’ve got any idea you can see one get the boys to fire at it. Be absolutely aggressive. Don’t, whatever you do, go through a target before somebody else is coned. Let, let you know if you’re early, whatever you do do anything but don’t be early what ever,’ And this is something and this is something you’ve trained your own navigators. But there was several things like this you know. That was for getting coned. Avoiding predicted flak. He said that his system that you don’t, you can’t do anything about first bunch. The first lot of flak. That comes and it’s too close for comfort. But you know it’s predicted automatic because there’s nothing going and all of a sudden bang bang bang bang bang all around you. So if you alter your direction, drop your height a bit, say you altered to the right or to starboard and drop down a hundred feet. And then you tell the crew look up there and in twenty seconds you’ll see a load of shells go off and you’ll see and it is. And I got caught, very badly caught in that predicted flak much later on, and when I was on 625 Squadron and taking a new crew. And the thing is keep your head. Keep counting and keep altering your direction and your height up and down. And it’s, there is a lot of luck because there’s more than one gun. There’s a gun battery but if you get another battery starts up then the timing suddenly alters and it all goes a bit wrong. But nevertheless it was all good advice. And we became firm friends and then the squadron was moved to Elsham Wolds. And I got on very well with the Elsham Wold, all the guys at Elsham and including the station commander. Group Captain Duncan did about eight flights with me as flight engineer. And you know so I was I was a bit of a party boy. Not a party boy. What do you call it? I was, it was a nice happy relationship with everyone. And I had, you know, operations. I remember the first operation. It was, this was one you remember the details and it was in Holland. I think the place is called [unclear]. I’ve actually got it. Can you? I think it’s in here somewhere. No it’s not. No. That’s the other thing. Anyway, I remember coming home. It was absolutely a piece of cake. There was no problem. It was daylight. With tonnes of fighters kicking around because it wasn’t, and the only problem coming back between Brussels [pause] I’ve looked all this up. And anyway in the Brussels area we got into a load of flak but otherwise it was nothing. It was an absolutely piece of cake. Well then the operations started and strangely I’ve got I can go through all my operations. Do you want me to do that?
CB: Later.
KT: Well it would take a hell of a long time.
CB: Later. Later.
KT: Yeah. Ok. To just tell you some of the important operations or the ones that stand out in my mind. We were going to Cologne. No. Further in. Where the hell was it? It was, and this is documented everywhere. In the tele, on the computer and everywhere. This particular raid. And it wasn’t Munich. I don’t. No. It wasn’t Munich. It was quite a, a fairly deep penetration and we took off and the, there was a massive cumulonimbus set up and we had to climb up to get over the top of it. And my rear gunner Clarrie had a problem. And he asked if he asked if he could get out of his turret. And he forgot to lock the turret. And the turret turned and trapped his legs. And brother. It says in the official report he requested assistance. In fact he was screaming. God. It’s a bit nerving when somebody’s screaming like made down the — but he, I sent the bomb aimer back, who was his friend, to help him. And when he got there the screaming had stopped. I’d said to him, you know, ‘If you don’t stop screaming we’re not going to do anything about it.’ And I think it would have crushed his legs. I don’t know. But by the time Noel got back there his oxygen had become disconnected and he’d passed out. So, he wasn’t, he wasn’t making any noise but I stopped the starboard outer engine. With the starboard engine drives the rear turret so that to stop the pressure and then he goes back there. He gets Clarrie sorted out and he gets him on the bench. There’s a rest bed just forward of the main spar on the left hand side of the port side of the kite. Anyway, he gets him on there and then I’m faced with do I — which way do I go? Do I go back home? I’m losing height and I’m going into the top of this cumulonimbus lot. And I think just start the engine. When I started the engine it looked as if it was on fire. And I left it until it was on fire and then I stopped it and it went out. So, I started it again. Left it for ten minutes and started it again and it still caught fire. So I stopped it and operated the graviner and the fire went out but I can’t use the engine any more. So I have got no rear turret but I went on to the target. Dropped the bombs. And I couldn’t get over the top of the cu nim coming back because it was a massive big front. So I went underneath and I came down low and I went underneath. And because I was only a few feet above the sea. You know, maybe a hundred feet. Something like that when after we crossed the coast and as luck would have it we never had fighter interest although we were on our own. And so that was lucky. Anyway, coming across and what do we see? A life raft with seven blokes in it. A kite has come down and we managed, we stayed there until we were just about running out of petrol but we managed to get so many things to go towards them to pick them up. There was a [pause] what do you call it, a coaster. I think he was hauling coal backwards and forward. I think it was a collier. I’m not sure but it was certainly a vessel. There was, a destroyer was involved and they motored, you know, small boats they put over the side. But the net result was I flew back and sent their exact position. And we gave their position but we could take you could plot back and give them the exact position. Anyway, they saved the crew. They were all, they picked them up. And then of course I came back and I was well late. Came in and landed and that got the first DFC. You know we did quite a few. The — oh yeah I must tell you this. Whilst in 617 Squadron and I don’t know how many operations I did there. I can’t remember. But because it was anyway I flew three different Lancasters. Now, when I say I me and my crew flew three different Lancasters that all did over a hundred operations and it is the, it’s only a statistic but we were the only bomber crew throughout the whole of the war that did that. You now, this is a heavy bomber crew. And that is, just as I say, a statistic. Anyway, we got moved down to Kelstern. Kelstern is the coldest bloody place in Lincolnshire and it’s the furthest place from a pub and thank God for Steve because we were able to do our stuff. You know. Another interesting thing the first possible night in the week when we were stood down we, Steve and I used to go front row of the stalls in the theatre and eye up the chorus. And you could, you could, there was a bar and the bar was on the right hand side of the stage. So, you went up a few steps onto — and there was this blooming bar and we’d get the direct birds into there and so we got a girlfriend for the week, you know and actually some of them, one or two of them, one of them from my point of view who I got to know quite well. And she said you get “The Stage” and you can find out where I am every week. Which was quite nice. When it was close. Not too far away. But unfortunately I hadn’t got the services of Steve then because [laughs] But anyway, so it went on. But now, what happened then? Then I had finished my tour and none of my crew wanted to stay on. Oh I forgot to tell you. Most important. When we went on to [pause] converted on to Halifaxes I needed a mid-upper gunner and he was a flying officer. Flying Officer Riccomini. And Riccomini spent the rest of his working life in the air force and retired as a squadron leader and I have been up to see him several years but I’ve not seen him, I haven’t been in touch lately unfortunately. I haven’t. He must have moved. But he had a nice house and he lived and he had quite a nice life. So, now, Riccomini was on his second tour so he only had to do twenty operations and he disappeared. Well, when he disappeared I picked up a little bloke. He was Flight Sergeant Arthur and he had done a tour and he was a, he wanted to keep going. So I picked him up as a rear gunner and he became known as Gremlin. And a gremlin was always in the rear turret. And he was, he was an aggressive little sod. He was just the sort of bloke I wanted in the rear turret. Anyway, the tour is finished so I’ve got Gremlin and nobody else. Well, on one occasion I took all the leaders. You know the bombing leader, nav leader, engineer leader and the gunnery leader and, and there was absolute hullabaloo because if we’d been shot down. And so that never happened again. But I wound up taking new crews. Now, a second dickey normally comprises an experienced crew and just the pilot goes with the experienced crew. And he does, this was how my second dickey was. But this time we took the inexperienced crew and the pilot, the inexperienced pilot came with me and would act, along with the engineer, as a kind of second engineer between them. And Gremlin in the tail. But [pause] and we do you know thirty one, thirty two, thirty three thirty four and they’re going up doing these sort of things. And then I got a dead lot. A real, and I, this was to Munich and he lost him. The navigator had lost the plot completely and we were well in over Germany. And we had, I mean I didn’t know at that. I mean one of the things you can get some, you could start to make a bit of a pattern in your mind of searchlight patterns. Where you can see towns. You couldn’t. You know. But Munich is a long way in. Anyway, I dumped the bombs, turned around and I flew. I cannot think of the course but an estimated course of my own. My own [unclear] was going to get me over the North Sea and then I’d go over England and we’d spot — we’d get a pinpoint off the ground. And anyway of course, so what happens we got into really prolonged predictive flak and it went on because I must have been on an unfortunate sort of a heading because I was going from one load of guns onto another lot and it happened. I don’t know how long we were coned, we were predicted but it went on and on and on. To keep counting on following Steve’s advice proved to be quite something but we got through the end of it and at the end of it you’d be surprised how bloody hot you are. I was sweating like a pig. And I don’t know why but maybe it was fright. It’s a thing. I don’t know. But anyway we got back to England. When we crossed the coast the bloke had got the Gee box on and he’d got the, and he told me the course to steer so I never had to go and look for the airfield. He told me the course. We came in and landed and they were sent back for training. And a very strange thing. It’s about fifteen twenty years ago. We knew a hotelier here and he said we’ve got a bloke here that used to be a pilot in the, a navigator, a Lancaster pilot in the war. ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘I’ll come and have a chat with him then.’ So I went around there and it was him. Of all the people. He said, ‘Ken Trent. He said `You chucked me out. You sent us back.’ So, I said, ‘Yeah and you’re still alive.’ You know. But anyway, so where have we got to? Now this went on and I’d applied to transfer to 617. Eventually. It wasn’t too long. Oh something before this. We came back and it was thick fog. This is actually — the funny in my voice is nothing to do with the the fog. We were, we were diverted back. I think it was Ludford Magna. And when you got there you could see it because FIDO is hundreds of thousands of gallons of petrol being set alight through little pipes. There was some pipes with little holes in and it’s going out and it takes about a quarter of an hour I think to get the lift the fog sufficiently enough to bring the kites in. But you could see the brightness from quite a long way away. Anyway, so I went to Ludford Magna. The first thing they say is how much fuel have you got? Well if you’ve got three hundred gallons you would say two hundred because you, because you knew what was going to happen. They were going to get you to [pause] and all you wanted to do was get on to the ground. Anyway, so they’d send you on a cross country and then when you came back they would, at the time they would put you in the stack. And you would be on the top of the stack. And I can’t remember whether it was a hundred feet you came down but they would bring, give permission for somebody to land and they would go through the stack an bring everybody down to the next height lower. I don’t know whether it was a hundred feet, two hundred feet. I don’t think it could possibly five hundred feet. That would be too much. Anyway, they bring you all down until it was your turn to land and when I landed and went in there was a message. My mum was seriously ill in hospital and it’s is going to upset me a bit. Anyway, I took off as I was with my helmet in a bag and I just went. You know, flying gear, the whole bloody lot. And they had a railway warrant. I went down. I went to see the hospital and she seemed as bright and cheery as if there was nothing wrong with her. But she’d had, in those days they weren’t anywhere near as advanced with cancer and they’d had a look inside and discovered — and just sewed her up again. There was another lady there she’d palled up with there and she said, ‘She’s dying. She might last three months. The doctors say might last three months.’ And so if, you know, a little later I went back to camp and of course any opportunity I was home. And I got some leave to go home and what’s she doing? She’s cleaning the place. The shop, the house, from top to bottom while she still had the strength. Before she died. I was there when she died. Twenty one minutes past ten on the 29th of April 1944 and — 1945 sorry. The end of the war. Anyway, so of course I’m I get back to camp eventually and the transfer or the posting comes to 617. And when I got to 617 Squadron all of a sudden I thought that I might survive the war. This was January 1945 and we’d lived a pretty heavy life from the drinking and etcetera and, you know, because I suppose we were just having as good a time as we could possibly have whilst we were here. But it was accepted in a way and you didn’t, you weren’t lying in bed thinking, ‘Oh. Am I going to die?’ Nothing like that. Maybe you’d had so much to drink you’d been to sleep anyway. But I, the, it was the atmosphere at 617 was it was a special place and they were all special people. But I’m not that special. I felt that I wasn’t that special. And although it was a fantastic squadron and they did some fantastic things. Things that, you’ve got to admire everything about them but I went out for a walk, came out of the Petwood, turned right and a little way on the right hand side is a farm. And there was a long straight line right up to the little cottage where the farmer lived. And I went down there looking for eggs and he was milking. And he was, he’d got — his kids and his wife were milking. And he was carrying, with a yolk, I don’t know how many but maybe five gallon, six gallon buckets. I don’t know. Four gallon. They were big buckets of water from a pond and he was carrying them in to where the cows were to water the cows. So I said, ‘Oh I’d like to have a go at that.’ And I became very friendly with the family and all the drinking went out of the window. I wasn’t drinking. And he couldn’t read or write but he was a lovely, lovely man and his wife. And while they were there they were up to all the things the farmers were doing. I haven’t, you know this to me was more interesting than the than the operations. They killed a pig. Illegally of course and they knew exactly what to do. And I could go through the whole performance but its — and the whole thing goes. When I go home, I’ve got a car by now, when I go home I’ve got a sack of spuds you know. A chicken. A dozen eggs. And a lump, a lump of bacon because it wasn’t for pork. It was for bacon in the boot. Which today of course if you were stopped by the police you would wonder what the heck but it never occurred to me that that might happen. Anyway, they’d let you off because you’ve got wings and the DFC on you. Anyway, so 617 Squadron. I didn’t spend as much time in the mess and I never made a close buddy because I was involved more with the farm and I also wasn’t drinking much. I’d have an odd beer but I certainly I wasn’t getting pissed or anything like that at all. Well. Some of the operations. The first one I did was to Bielefeld Viaduct. I can remember that as a first. I can remember the last which was to Berchtesgaden. I’ll talk, there’s a bit more about Berchtesgaden in a minute. I think there’s one or two. I’m not sure which it is. One was a viaduct and the other was a bridge and it was the bridge and I can’t remember which one it is. Arnsburg comes in my mind. But I do know it and it’s in my book. But because we know. And I had a Tallboy which was a twelve thousand pounder and — Left. Left. Right. But I must tell you. I was talking about a bomb sight a lot earlier on. Now the bomb site now was an automatic bomb site. Not semi automatic. And the, the thing that happens is this. About ten minutes, a quarter of an hour before we get to the target you take a three drift wind and it’s quite a simple thing to do. You can either do it — the gunners can do it for you or you’ve got to get the land going down straight and it gives you the direction of the wind. And you can calculate the direction and strength of wind. Or you can do it with a hand bearing compass. Anyway, the navigator does that and that’s passed to the bomb aimer who enters it into the bomb sight. Now the bomb sight is a big box of tricks to the left of the actual thing of the sight. So he feeds that in. The air speed is automatically fed in. And the height is automatically fed in. Then there are corrections for air speed and corrections for height which the navigator works out and passes and they go in. And all this time you’re flying straight and level and you have, apart from you’ve taken your sixty degrees either side to get your wind and then you’ve got near enough a ten minute straight and level flight. You’ve got the, it’s all daylight because you’re doing, you’re dropping a bomb on a particular object. And the bombsite consists of a piece of glass about an inch and a half wide and I would think say five, six inches long. Now I’m only talking from memory but this is to give you the idea. Now, as you came, as you were approaching the target and the target would start to come on to the glass and then there’s a big cross with — it’s shorter on the [pause] and it’s longer on the direction into the cross. And the bomb aimer gets it on to the end of the leg of the cross. ‘Left. Left. Right. Steady, steady. Ok. Ok.’ And then he says, ‘Bomb site on.’ And when the, that means he’s switched on the bomb site and it should, the perfect thing is that the cross is there on the target and it stays there and as you travel forward the glass gradually depresses to keep, and it should stay there. And the bomb site releases the bomb. Not the bomb aimer. And this was a really accurate but for all that the idea of the bomb was to get as close to the target as you could and you made sure. The bombs were so big. I mean there was the Grand Slam or special store that was ten tonnes. Which was a massive, it was quite a bit bigger but for all that the twelve thousand pounder would make a big enough hole for most things nearby to fall into the hole. Or [unclear] into the hole. Well this particular one and I never saw this. Only from the pictures afterwards. ‘Left. Left. Right. Steady. Bomb sight on. Bomb gone.’ And then the bomb aimer, ‘We’ve hit the bloody thing.’ And he’d hit right in the centre sideways of the bridge and just maybe a twenty foot overshoot. I mean incredible fortunate bomb. And there were three pictures and these were posted up in the very special little officer’s mess in Petwood Hotel. And the first one was a hole in. The second one was water splashing up and the third one was the whole bloody lot up in the air. That was, you know, that was something. On another occasion and now this has been recorded officially as a twelve thousand pounder bomb but it wasn’t. I carried. I wasn’t the first one by any means but I kept the first ten tonner, the first Grand Slam. The first specialist bomb that I carried. I can’t remember where we were going. But on the way out when we started to climb our, my oxygen was out of step. Wasn’t working and the squadron commander at the time was Jonny Farquhar. I shouldn’t say this but he wasn’t the most popular. Leave it at that. And he [pause] when I shouldn’t have told him but he said, he was getting on at me because I wasn’t getting up to height and I told him that we were having problems with the oxygen. And he said, ‘Go back.’ And we discussed it amongst the crew. Shall we pretend we can’t hear him or shall we go on? But we went back. So I’ve got, I’ve got, although as I just said it says in the, in the records that it was a Tallboy but it wasn’t. It was the very first one that I took up. And I blooming well knew that. Anyway, we’d then got to land and I landed ok but I came in and I thought you know I’d better just give it a little bit more speed and I was aiming to touch down right at the very beginning of the runway. And I might have touched down a third of the way down. The bloody kite floated down and seemed to float forever. Anyway, I was frightened to overshoot in case it wouldn’t overshoot with a full flap wheels and the bomb. So it stuck on the ground and we were going fast because, I mean there’s a hell of a lot of weight. And if you put the brakes on like that then you’ll burn them out in no time so you snatch the brakes and it keeps snatching the brakes until you get right to the end and that gave it a little inclination to turn to port. To turn left and of course the bloody thing was going to whizz around and it was going to wipe the undercarriage as far as I can and everything off. And I put absolutely full bore, full power on the port outer right through the gate as I turned off and as it came around. I mean how the undercarriage stood it I don’t know. But all of a sudden I shut it. I’m doing four miles an hour on the taxi trip. And that was, that to me I reckon was one of the danger spots. Now, the war. We did the Berchtesgaden. Get all the way there. The bombing leader was my bomb aimer and we got hung up. And so we carried the Tallboy all the way back home. But we used to land with Tallboys all the time. This is why I can tell you that it was a thirty five. You know, it was a Grand Slam. And I can tell you because I mean Tallboy we were bringing them back. If you had a Tallboy and somebody hit the target you would bring them back home because they were so scarce and there were so few of them. And I mean landing with a Tallboy was absolutely no problem at all because nowhere near the weight. Anyway, the war’s over. We left the Petwood. We went to Waddington. Lovely mushrooms all over the airfield. We used to pick them in the morning and take them in. Then we are sent to Italy to pick up some army types. And the first time we went was to Parmigliano. There was a great, a great party when we got there and we discovered that you could buy — oh what was it? Not cherry brandy. A fancy, a fancy liqueur that we had’t seen. Never. None of us had ever tasted. It wasn’t Cherry Heering. It was something like. What now you buy. It’s a yellow creamy lot. Anyway, I can’t remember what it’s called at the moment. Tia Maria. And it came out. I can’t remember. But say it was a pound. It was cheap. A pound a bottle or something like that. So of course we all bought a load of this stuff. Put it in the kite to sell to the pubs when we get home in Lincoln. Anyway, so we eventually next morning we’re not really feeling very well. We’re gathering all the guys up and they — I think, I can’t remember how many. The place is stuffed with brown types and soldiers and we take off and come home no problem. But we’re a little bit worried about the contraband and so we told the authorities. We called up and told them we had some problem with the engine and so they — I can’t remember where it was but I can’t remember the name. It was another place where they’d got an elongated runway. Very wide and there were two of them. Was Ludford Magna one? And was one Woodford or somewhere?
CB: Woodbridge.
KT: Where?
CB: Woodbridge.
KT: Woodbridge. Yeah.
CB: Suffolk.
KT: Yeah. That’s right. Woodbridge. Well we landed at Woodbridge. And I couldn’t remember where it was. And so we got a corporal comes out. ‘No. No. Nothing to declare.’ So that was that. So the kite’s at Woodbridge. Somebody took a look at the engine. That was alright. We stayed the night so the next day we flew back to base and we didn’t have to go through customs. So we got the stuff home. I’m near the end but I just, there are just one or two more things to tell you. One of them was we did another trip. This time we went to Bari which is the other side. And when we took off for the guys coming back home we were given a weather forecast that there was cloud. And you break through the cloud about four to five thousand feet and the cloud base was about a thousand feet or something. So we took off and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and I got up to ten thousand feet and we weren’t out of the cloud. And I thought well I can’t go any higher because I’ve got all these guys in the back. So, and then we started to get violent turbulence. So I said to the nav, we want to get, ‘Let me know when we’ve crossed.’ When I say violent turbulence you can’t believe it. You suddenly find your climbing at about five thousand feet, ten thousand feet a minute. Something. I can’t remember. So you stick the engine, you stick the kite down and you start losing height like mad. And then all of a sudden you get a bloody great bang and you’re descending at the same sort of speed and I said to the nav, ‘Let me know as soon as we’re clear of Italy and I aint going to get underneath it.’ And I may or not have told him we were going underneath but I had the experience of this. We were clear and I came down and down and all of a sudden I came out of the bottom and about a hundred, two hundred yards from the starboard side was a bloody great whirl of water being sucked up out of the sea into it. But we were underneath. You could see several of these all around and it was so easy from there on to fly. And we would fly back to the Spanish coast as we did the first time and then due north to England. Well, when we got back a bloke — they’d lost I think one kite. They lost a bloke. A mid-upper turret had come out of a kite along with the guy sitting in it. And another kite landed with a broken back. And they got it back and landed it. And that was the end of those. Now, the one thing I must tell you. Before I took off for this particular trip I took off and was, we was on course and the nav comes up. He says, ‘The Gee box isn’t working.’ So I said, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter does it?’ You know. He said, ‘There’s a Kings Regulations just come out. You’ve got to replace it.’ You know, ‘The regulations says you’re not to fly with it.’ If you get that you’ve got to replace it. It’s an after the war job. So I came in and as I was approaching I could feel the kite did that. Do you notice? Nothing. You know. Landed. Taxied in. No problem. Shut down. They’d changed it so taxied out. Took off. As I’m going down the runway and I’ve got to something like eighty miles an hour. Eighty five. So, and you need at least ninety five to take off. All of a sudden the runway went flying that way and I’m flying across it. You know. Careering across the grass. I put on full rudder. Bloody difficult because you’ve got this engine feathered, got the things. Put in boards straight through the gate. Took a little out of the port outer to ease it on the rudder and I’ve got my hand here on the rim, trying to, on the rudder trim. Trying to turn the trim. And the wing, we left the airfield and we’re over a field and the starboard wing touched the ground. So the net result the next thing and I’m not strapped in. The war’s over and all that and I haven’t strapped myself in and it touched the ground. I knocked the box off which disconnects, you know turns off all eight ignition switches. And there’s a handle. Have you been in a Lanc? Well you know where the handle is. You pull yourself up to get into your seat when you fly. As the pilot. Well that handle. I put, I put my hand on that and I put my head on my hand because I could see myself being smashed in to the [pause] and then all of a sudden when the bang came the thing did a cartwheel. It took the nose off. And we and there’s mud flying everywhere. My head goes through and the artificial horizon went like that. Never touch it. Next moment I’m in the top of the canopy. And the crew had got all the escape hatches off so they must have been working bloody quick. They were very quick. And I’d always said to my crew you know if ever I say, ‘Emergency. Emergency. Jump. Jump. If you don’t get out I won’t be there. I’ll be the first off. Out of this kite.’ I jumped up out of my seat, put my head in someone’s bum. Some bugger’s got in front of me. And I got up and got, got through. Sat on top. The engines are cracking as they’re cooling down. A hundred yards behind there’s the rear gunner running towards us. And the other guys are running away in case it explodes. And it looked to me to be a long way down to the ground but as you know of course it isn’t that far. But I slid down. The gunner had turned his turret to try and help with the directions. You know, to put some rudder on. And when the tail came down he burst through the doors and was dumped in a ploughed field. Sliding along in the mud. And he’s covered from head to foot in mud. Not a scratch. You know, it was one of those things. Anyway, that was I flew a few times after that but not much more. But I must do the last bit and the last bit I was posted. I thought about staying in the air force. I mean we all wanted to stay in but obviously there wasn’t a future there. You could stay you could sign on for three years and I reckoned at the end of three years it was going to be a bloody sight harder to make a living. But at the moment there were going to be millions of people coming out of the services and there was going to be a bit of money around. I’d better get hold of some of that. That’s how, and I wanted out. So they, as soon as they knew I was posted to a station. I cannot remember where it is but I bet I could find it. And I think I found it and it’s in here. But when — they don’t know what to do with you. And A) I don’t know who he was but somebody, a squadron leader bloke. I was an acting flight lieutenant then and he comes in and he takes me into an office and it’s absolutely full of paper all over the place. And it was the signals office. He said, ‘I wonder. We want you. Your job is to file all this lot. Sort this lot out. Get it in to order and file it.’ Ok. So off he goes and I sit down. It was cold. I looked at it and I thought well this is just bloody stupid. It’s a completely impossible thing to do. I mean, what can you do with it. Where are you going to put it? And it was cold so I put the first bit in the file and burned it. And two weeks later I burned the lot. All Gone. The office was tidy. Clean. Looked lovely. And I’m thinking boy this is going to be some bloody background to this. Something’s going to happen. I wonder. It’s going to be interesting. So the bloke comes in. ‘Oh I see you’ve sorted it. Good show old boy.’ End of story. I mean I just burned the bloody signals. All of them. Anyway, that is me for now.
CB: That’s really good. Thanks very much Ken.
KT: That’s good.
CB: Let’s just recap if we may.
KT: Yeah.
CB: You’ve got one DFC. What was the timing and –
KT: Ok.
CB: Occasion of the second DFC.
KT: Well, now I thought the bar to the DFC came because possibly my record in 617. And that has been my whole thought over all my life until I started to write the book. And then I got in touch with the Air Ministry and records and all this, that and the other and I discovered it was recommended by 65 Squadron. And it was nothing to do with 617. And I’m just going to add something else. I mean we’re all very old men now. And Aces High, who I think some of you may have heard of and know about they had a signing session at [pause] where’s it?
CB: Wendover.
KT: Wendover.
CB: Yeah.
KT: And there was a bloke there who was a pilot in 625 er 617 and he did thirty operations including the Tirpitz. But he didn’t do the Dams raid.
CB: That was Iverson.
KT: Who?
CB: Tony Iverson.
KT: And he doesn’t have a gong.
CB: That’s right.
KT: This is a bloke without a gong. All he got. He hadn’t got a DFC or anything.
CB: No.
KT: And this, that is true is it?
CB: Yeah –
KT: Well now I felt like writing in because it was this was Farquhar. Jonny Farquhar. He was not. All he wanted was stuff for himself or his favourites. But that man. Tony.
CB: Iverson.
KT: Iverson.
CB: He died last year.
KT: Yeah. Now I met him two or three years ago at Aces High.
CB: Yeah.
KT: I didn’t know he’s dead. I’m sorry to hear that. He was on the squadron when I was on the squadron.
CB: He was originally a fighter man.
KT: Yeah. But I thought that that was awful because he had done, in my — as I look at it, more than I did and he I thought that was absolutely terrible because he deserved it. He deserved it more than I did and I got two. Anyway, there we are.
CB: Fantastic. Thank you very much. We’re going to take a break now ‘cause you deserve a cup of tea.
KT: Oh yeah. I’d love a cup of tea. How long have we been doing that?
CB: I can’t see now.
KT: Oh I’ll put the light on. I’ll go and see if I can find some- i’ve got to be careful when I first get up.
CB: Don’t worry.
KT: I’m alright now.
CB: Ok.
KT: I’ll give you some light.
CB: We’re now going to have a break and we’ve done two hours and twelve minutes.
[recording paused]
CB: We’ve stopped the interview because ken has been going for two hours and it’s got to the end of the war although some things we haven’t completed. What we aim to do is reconvene another time and pick up on a number of points that are really important in this.
[recording paused]
CB: This interview is about two hours twenty minutes continuous. The plan is to continue the conversation at a later stage. Probably at Wendover, in the spring, when Ken’s book is due to be launched.



Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Kenneth Trent,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,

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