Interview with Doug Begbie


Interview with Doug Begbie


Doug Begbie was an apprentice chef before he volunteered for the RAF. He trained as a rear gunner and was posted to 76 Squadron. He shot down what sounds like an Me 163.




Temporal Coverage




00:06:04 audio recording

Conforms To


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ABegbieD170113, PBegbieD1701


DK: I'll just introduce myself. It’s David Kavanagh from the International Bomber Command Centre interviewing Doug Begbie on the 13th of January 2017. I'll just put that down there and if I keep looking over I'm not being rude. I'm just making sure the tape's still working.
DB: Okay.
DK: You mentioned there that you used to live in Lincoln. Were you born in Lincoln?
DB: No. I was born at Cranwell.
DK: Oh, right. Okay.
DB: Yeah.
DK: And what were you doing immediately before the war?
DB: Before the war?
DK: Yeah.
DB: Well, I was an apprentice chef with my dad.
DK: Okay. And what was your, did your dad have a business then as a —
DB: No. He worked at Cranwell as a civilian chef.
DK: Oh. Actually in the RAF.
DB: Yeah. Catering for the officers.
DK: Okay. So, next question would be then was that the reason that you wanted to join the RAF?
DB: I don't know. Yeah. I've tried to work that one out but what I think perhaps I could, as a baby I could hear aircraft. That must have had some effect on me.
DK: So what year are we talking about then that you first heard the sound of aeroplanes?
DB: Yeah.
DK: In the 1920s would this have been? The 30s?
DB: Yeah.
DK: So, what, can you remember what year you actually joined the RAF?
DB: When I joined them.
DK: Yeah.
DB: Must have been 1943, I think. About October.
DK: Okay and were you selected then for Bomber Command at that point?
DB: Yeah.
DK: Okay. And so what was your, your aircrew role then? What did you actually do?
DB: I was a tail gunner.
DK: Okay. And can you remember how your training went? What sort of training did you have before you joined a squadron?
DB: No.
DK: No. Okay. And can you remember which squadron you were with?
DB: Hmmn?
DK: Can you remember which squadrons you were with?
DB: 76.
DK: Right. And flying what type of aircraft?
DB: Yeah.
DK: The Halifax was it?
DB: Yeah.
DK: Yeah. Okay. And can, can you remember anything specific about the operations you did?
DB: Well, I did thirty two.
DK: Right.
DB: Mostly night raids. Some were daylight
DK: And as a tail gunner what was your job to actually do?
DB: Well, to protect the rear of the aircraft.
DK: Right.
DB: We used to have an evasive action.
DK: Okay.
DB: Which was to corkscrew into the attacking fighter. So because being at the tail end you have to rethink the direction you were flying.
DK: Right. Because you're facing the wrong way.
DB: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
DB: So, you have to say corkscrew starboard or corkscrew port.
DK: Right. So how many times were you attached by enemy aircraft?
DB: How many?
DK: How many times were you attacked by enemy aircraft?
DB: Only a couple of times
DK: So did you actually fire your guns at them?
DK: Only once.
DK: Okay. And can can you tell us a little bit about that?
DB: Well, it was one of their new fighters that they had. A jet-propelled thing. Rocket propelled.
DK: Really?
DB: And both the mid-upper gunner and I fired at it and it exploded.
DK: And, and were you credited with that?
DB: Hmmn?
DK: Were you credited with having shot that down?
DB: I don't know what happened.
DK: Right.
DB: No.
DK: So, what, it must have been a bit of a strange thing to see. A rocket-powered aircraft.
DB: Yeah.
DK: So, what was your thoughts as you saw it coming towards you?
DB: Well, we [pause] I'm just trying to think. We, we hadn't, we hadn’t been reported anything like that.
DK: Right.
DB: But we've got some idea that they were trying these things out. So —
DK: So did it come as a bit of a shock to you to suddenly see this rocket powered —
DB: Yeah.
DK: Aircraft.
DB: So we just fired at it and it blew up.
DK: Okay. So I'll finish here now but looking back on your time in Bomber Command how do you feel about it now?
DB: How do I feel about it now? Since that time I've become a Christian.
DK: Okay.
DB: So I consider war is a waste of time. Killing people. We must negotiate things. Talk to people about things.
DK: I think you're right there. Okay. Well, I know you’re going to have a busy day so we can stop it there. But if I can ever come back and speak to you again that would be marvellous.
DB: Okay.
DK: Okay. We'll stop it there. Thank you.
DB: Right.



David Kavanagh, “Interview with Doug Begbie,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,

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