Interview with Patricia Young

Title

Interview with Patricia Young

Description

Patricia’s family lived in a 500 year old thatched cottage in Waddington. There was a bakery in the grounds, which had been started by her grandparents. Patricia’s father joined the Royal Flying Corp and one of her earliest memories was of him digging out a base for an air-raid shelter. He was mainly based at RAF Waddington as ground personnel, and provided and cared for the stores.
Patricia remembered the time when a young pilot asked her to look after the crew’s mascot kitten. He never returned. One night the church next door to their cottage was destroyed by a land mine and the family had to quickly move out of the cottage as it too had caught fire. The next morning a shelter at the base had been hit, killing fifteen Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes girls. She recalled other incidents during her father’s time in the Royal Air Force before he was discharged through failing health.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-05-18

Contributor

Sue Smith
Julie Williams

Rights

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

Format

00:31:28 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AYoungP160518, PYoungP1601

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

JH: My name is Judy Hodgson and I’m interviewing Pat Young today for the International Bomber Command Centre’s Digital Archive. We are at Mrs Young’s home and it is the 18th of May 2016. Thank you, Pat for agreeing to talk to me today. Also present at the interview is Reg Young, Pat’s husband. I’m talking today with Pat about her father who was called Lancelot Stobart. He was born on the 27th of August 1900 in Newcastle. So, Pat, can you tell me when and where you were born and memories of your early years?
PY: I was born in Waddington, in a thatched cottage which was directly opposite the church. The cottage was about five hundred years old and in the grounds was the bakery. It was the family bakery being started by my grandparents. And I was born there February the 7th 1933. And I have fond memories of the cottage which was also very closely allied to the church and the bakery business, and we were a very sort of village based family. My father came in to the village in 1925 when he was based at the, the [pause] the RAF camp. But it wasn’t then. It was called the Air Training Corps. He joined the Air Training Corps. And he married my mother and he always took a great part in the bakery business. I can remember the garden. We had a lovely garden at the back of the cottage. And one of my earliest memories is digging out the base for the air raid shelters. We thought it was great fun. Never envisaged anything dreadful was going to happen. Just enjoyed digging out and the thought of having this little house underground. Reality struck I suppose when one morning early in the garden I was with my father and it was at the outbreak of war and a plane was heard in the distance. And my father instantly recognized it as not one of ours and it was suddenly flying low towards the cottage and he flung me on the ground and put his body over mine and the aircraft flew over and machine gunned us. And it went down the village street machine gunning everything. That was where reality began to kick in and [pause] but there were other happy times. I can remember him telling stories to all the children in the village. And he used to, they used to come into the cottage and he would, he would be in his element. And he had one particular story, “Poor little Betty. Poor little John.” And [pause] he used to say every, every episode of this story ended with, on a big high and the kids would be sitting there and he’d say to them, ‘Now, come tomorrow night. It’s the sad bit tomorrow night. You’ll need two hankies. Everybody bring two hankies because it’s really sad.’ So, there were lots and lots of lovely lovely memories. And during that time dad was looking, after being mostly based at Waddington so he was able to keep an eye on the bakery because he brought into the bakery. Although it was a family based business we were very country people to begin with. And he came in from Newcastle and he was very streetwise and business wise even at an early age and he managed to raise the business up to something much larger. Also, because he was involved with the Bomber Command and his bakery he, he was instrumental in supplying the officer’s mess, the NAAFI with all the bread they needed. Cakes etcetera.
[recording pause]
PY: I’ll just digress for a little while. I did mention earlier that it was the Air Training Corps. Dad would be really quite annoyed with me for saying that because it was actually the Royal Flying Corps.
RY: That’s right.
PY: During this time he was, he became very involved with Bomber Command as the war increased. His duties became more and more involved and he had to let go more of the bakery. We employed bakers in his place. His main duties were with the, he was ground crew but his main duties were the care of stores. The provision of stores for the air crew. His whole life seemed to be devoted to scouring farms, farmers, all local produce whereby they had the best of everything. He was, had a whole network of people with whom he was contacted and the aircrew must have the best food imaginable that was possible at the time. The big thing was when they came back from the raids they all had to have this wonderful breakfast. It was always bacon, eggs. The best of everything. He would be on duty seeing that he was in charge of laying out. The previous night he’d be laying out the breakfast table ready for the aircrew’s return. And he never spoke about it a lot but on a massive raid when so many were killed and he would come home 7 o’clock in the morning and he would just sit with his head in his hands. Just absolute despair that so many had been lost. But of course life had to go on and the next night and the next night it happened again and again. At that time we also got to know the aircrew. Lots of aircrew, very well. They were all part of the village. They would come in to the bakery quite a lot. And I can remember one particular instance a young pilot came in and he had his flying jacket on. And he came in and he was full of laughter and I was a little girl, about seven and he said, ‘Pat, I’ve got something for you.’ And he opened the flying jacket and it was a little kitten. And he said, ‘We’ve been taking it over Germany with us,’ he said, ‘It’s our mascot.’ And then he said, ‘But you never know. Our number could be up any time. We’ve had a good run. So,’ he said, ‘I just want you to look after this little kitten for me, Pat. Until I come back.’ And he put it in my arms. It was a little ginger fluffy kitten. And they never came back. And we kept that kitten and it grew up to be the most awful cat imaginable [laughs] because there was no way that we could [laughs] it had to be honoured all the time because it was special. And about this time,1941 Waddington was really in the thick of the war. There was thousand bomber raids which they took part in. The whole of Lincolnshire was on alert. And nightly the bombers took off from Waddington, coming low over the village with their bomb loads and then a lot of people including my mother would count them as they went out to meet up with other bombers in the area and she would sometimes count them as they came back. And very sadly there was not as many came back of course. In, on the night of May the 9th 1941 it had been an ordinary day in the village. I can remember it so well because my mother had never liked the cottage. She’d never, although she’d lived in it all her life and it sounds romantic, a thatched cottage but she didn’t like it at all. It was the thatch was house not only birds and mice but rats. And the big open inglenook fireplace to her was a firetrap. She was constantly looking for sparks going up to set fire to the thatch. And she used to say, ‘Oh, I’d give anything to have a lovely new place.’ On this particular day the gypsies were — they, they came once a year and they parked at the end of the village and they, they with their caravans and they would walk through the village with their pegs and paper flowers. And my mother distrusted the gypsies very much but they always came into the baker’s shop. And she knew they were coming and so she had — they came in because she gave them yesterday’s cakes or any bread that was left over. So, she knew the gypsies were about and she put them, she put the cakes on the shelf. And I was in the shop helping her. Well, helping. I was there. And the gypsies came down the steps in to the shop. A little jingly bell. It rang. And my mother handed her the buns and the cakes and the gypsy said, ‘Tell your fortune, lady.’ And my mother said, ‘No, thank you.’ All she wanted to do was to get them out the shop. And the gypsy said, ‘You’ve got a kind face, lady. Let me tell your fortune.’ And my mother said, ‘No. No, thank you.’ And as she turned, the gypsy, she said to my mother, ‘You’re going to get a very quick move out of this cottage. Quicker than you’ve ever dreamed of.’ And she went. And a bit later my dad came in. He’d actually been in to Lincoln with a van to get some stuff for the bakery. And he came in and my mother told him what the gypsy had said. And she said, ‘A load of all rubbish.’ And they had a good laugh about it. Also the gypsy said to her, ‘You’ve got a good husband. He’s always buying you things. And he’ll be coming in with something.’ And so my Mum took it with a pinch of salt and dad said to her, ‘Look what I’ve got you.’ And he went into the van and he brought out a Westminster chiming clock. And he’d been to a saleroom or something and he’d got this lovely clock. So, she told him what the gypsy had said. Well, they had a good laugh. That was in the morning. That night, on May the 9th I I don’t, I can remember going to school. Going to the village school that day. But at night she said to me, she was leaning out the cottage window and the moon was enormous and it was over the church. And she said, she couldn’t get into bed because she was looking at the church with the moon over it and she thought what a perfect target for Jerry. And she got into bed and at twenty past twelve a landmine fell right on to the church and it just blew it to pieces. What had stood there for five hundred years, sorry a thousand years was just a heap of rubble. And the landmine it was let down with a parachute. Had it blown just slightly over towards our cottage we would have received a direct hit. As it was the cottage was destroyed. And I can remember my mother waking me up and shaking me and saying, ‘Quick. Get out of bed.’ I think I’d been knocked unconscious with the ceiling falling in. And I looked up and I thought it was the stars I could see but it was the thatch on fire. And I can remember sliding. We just got our nightclothes and we had to get out as quickly as we could. Sliding down the stairs which were covered in thatch. And it was all tumbling and she took my hand and as we went past the living room I can remember saying to her, ‘Who’s that man in front of the window?’ And it wasn’t a man. It was one of the big beams had fallen. These big oak beams had fallen and it was right across the window and she, we didn’t say anything and she’d, she took my hand. She said, ‘Come on. We must get out quick.’ I don’t know where dad was then. I think he’d, I can’t remember but I can remember holding my mother’s hand. She said, ‘Quick. Get out. Quick.’ And we ran in to the yard and everywhere was burning and smoking and we stood there. And I was in my nightie and she was in her nightie and I said to her, ‘I haven’t got anything on my feet.’ [laughs] I could feel all the rubble under my feet. And she didn’t say anything. She just said, ‘There’s no church. The church has gone.’ And it was so unbelievable because the church had been part of the bakery. The cottage life. The bakers used to come out, time everything with the church clock. And she just kept saying, ‘The church has gone.’ And it was just directly opposite. The house had gone. The church had gone. The bakery had gone. Everything. All at once. It was terrible, and but what had happened to my dad was there was a cottage opposite and there was a little boy. He was upstairs and the family had come down and this boy was trapped upstairs. And the cottage was about, the roof was coming in and people were saying, ‘We can’t get in. The roof’s coming in,’ and dad had gone up and he’d got this boy out. And he said even though it was ablaze and the roof was coming in he’d got the boy out. And then we all made our way to the local pub, the Horse and Jockey. But after that it was just chaos for the next few years. Trying to re-establish ourself. Build a home again. Build a business again.
JH: What happened also that same night?
PY: Sorry?
JH: Was your dad called out that same night to another incident?
PY: That same night we, he did manage the bakery van. It was, it was ok. It was in one of the barns and he did manage to get it out. All the tyres were burst and of course the streets were full of rubble. And he managed to get it started and he put my mother and I in it in our nightclothes and he drove us along to Navenby where we knew some people. The people in Navenby had heard the bang of the landmine but because we were so close I didn’t hear a thing. The noise must have gone over. And he had, he left us there and then the next morning at 5 o’clock he had to report to the RAF base because the camp had received several direct hits with bombs. And one air raid shelter containing fifteen WAAFs from the NAAFI had received a direct hit and of course dad worked with all the NAAFI people. The NAAFI girls particular. And he had to help to dig them out. They were all dead. And it was, the air raid shelter itself was reserved just for the NAAFI girls but there were some young airmen had gone in as well. I expect it was just close at hand. And Miss Raven, the head of — the NAAFI manageress, she was in with them. They were all killed. So, that night he not only lost his home, his bakery business but then to, all our possessions and then to have to go the next morning and dig out these poor girls who were his colleagues. Later there was a big club built on the, and it’s still there today, built on the base called the Raven Club in memory of Miss Raven and the NAAFI girls who were killed that night. It’s still there.
[recording pause]
PY: Right. Just go back a bit. I’ve just remembered something else which was quite significant and that was the village school. The infant’s school was adjacent to the churchyard. Sideways on to the road and the windows overlooked the churchyard. And I can remember so often when the funerals from the RAF camp would come down the road. The coffins would be draped and there would be a little band in those days. A trumpet or just some music of some kind. And when there was a funeral due we were not allowed to go out to play. We had to stay in but we could look out of the classroom windows and we could watch the funerals of the pilots and the aircrew. And I can remember at the end of — during the funeral there would be a shot fired over the, over the coffins and there would also be a trumpet sounding. It was all very, very beautifully done but even then very solemn. Very slow and full of ceremony. So, it was, it sounds unreal to say it but it was part of our everyday life to see these very sad moments. Not many relatives there. Sometimes they were foreign pilots as well. After the devastation of the bomb falling we were left without a home and for, I think months, probably a year we were living with various friends and relatives. We lived with an older aunt down at Hykeham. Aunt Em. And she lived in a really really really old fashioned cottage. It had a — you got, you drew your water from a little pump. A pump well in the garden. In the front garden. There was no electricity in the cottage. There was no hot water. It was really really basic and dad found it really hard to live like that so, and he had to get up to the air base each day and he had to bike which was I should say five miles at least. And not only biking up to the airfield he had to keep his, he was trying his best to get the bakery working again. The — it was, it was just, the bake house had been destroyed but he did manage to get tarpaulin over some sort of roof and he had, he managed to get the ovens going so that, you know the bakery could continue in some form. But after a while I can remember he said, ‘We can’t live like this. I’ve bought us a home.’ And it was so unbelievable. Bought us a home. How could he do that? And he said — we went up. We went into the bakery yard and the big gate, the big double gates were open and I can remember a lorry coming along and on the back of it was a green wooden bungalow. A wooden hut. Apex roof. Just basic. Apex roof. And it even had a little veranda. And it had a little sign swinging across the front of the, the front porch, “Ivanhoe.” [laughs] And it was just a basic hut with a apex roof. And he put it in the bakery yard and he said, ‘We’re living there.’ And it was so cosy and it was so wonderful to have this little bungalow as a home and it wasn’t long before he built an extension that side, an extension that side. A bedroom for my grandmother. A bedroom for, a bedroom for grandmother and me. I had to sleep in the same bedroom. And a bedroom for him and mother. And we lived for five years so — probably longer I think. And during that time he managed to get the bakery in some sort of working order. We’d got a home again and then plans were put in to have a new bakery built with what was then called war damage. You got compensation. And, and when towards the end of the war his business began to prosper and grow and when the war ended we moved from the wooden hut, wooden bungalow. Won’t call it a hut because it was very very comfortable and we bought a house in the village. And by that time the business, the bakery business had grown. He’d got a big round in the village. It had grown up at the camp. He was delivering bread to all the villages along the cliffs. The cliff outside Lincoln. He had a round that stretched in to the low fields. We had two shops in Lincoln. So, the village prospered a lot. He even opened a café at the, at the entrance to the airbase. And by that time we’d got the Americans here and he did well with the café. So, all in all he was prospering quite well. The, the change came when the big bakery combines took over and it was like the death knell of the small bakers. It — they, they took such a lot of trade away. Big concerns like Mother’s Pride and other nationally known names. He couldn’t compete in the same way and so he saw the light and he said, ‘Well, we’ll get out while the goings good.’ But I must go back again. He’d been discharged from the RAF because his health had been failing. No doubt brought, brought, caused by some of the stress that he, that he endured and in numerous visits to hospital he was then discharged. So he did, he did well but retired early and enjoyed a more quiet life.
JH: That’s lovely. And there was another incident I believe about your grandmother. Just going back. Was there something you told me about that?
PY: Yes. Going back. This is going back to the cottage. It was rather strange really. Unbelievable how it happened. My grandmother lived in the front part of the cottage. She had a big bedroom and a little room of her own and it was directly over the shop. And it had, that part of the cottage had a brick frontage. It went in from the road, a brick front and into the shop. And my grandmother’s rooms were over there. And when the landmine fell it completely destroyed her half of the cottage. There wasn’t anything left at all. It was just almost as if that part had been hit. It did. Because it was facing the church. It received the full blast of the bomb. Now, my grandmother had never been away from home. Not for a holiday except probably for days at Skegness and this time she wasn’t, she wasn’t in the cottage. My father had taken her up the previous week to spend a week in Newcastle with his mother. The two grandmothers hadn’t really had much time together really at all and they wanted to get to know each other. And so while this, while her part of the cottage was totally destroyed — as a blessing she wasn’t there. And I can remember my father taking us up. He went up to Newcastle. I can’t remember whether we borrowed a van but I can remember going with him. And we went in to my gran, in to the flat where they were staying and, because my father had a key. And the neighbours said, ‘Oh. They’ve both gone to the pictures.’ And I can remember looking out of the window and seeing them both coming around the corner. And my grandmother from Waddington had a, she was a tall lady, she had a fur coat on and a little hat on one side. And they were arm in arm and they looked so happy and you know, cheerful. And dad said, ‘Here they come.’ And he went out and told, told them before they got in to the house. He met them and he told them what had happened. And I can remember my grandmother put her hands over her face and she did cry. But she was alive which she wouldn’t have been if she’d stayed. It was just so strange the way it happened. That she went there and was out of the cottage when it happened. But my mother had never forgotten the gypsy saying, ‘You’ll get a— ’ we often used to talk about it, ‘You will move from this cottage. You’ll have a quicker move than you’ve ever dreamed of.’
JH: Ok. Well, I’d like to thank you Pat for allowing me to record this interview today. Thank you very much.

Collection

Citation

Judy Hodgson, “Interview with Patricia Young,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 13, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/9295.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.

Can you help improve this description?