GEORGE WILLIAMS FLEW WELLINGTONS AND HUDSONS WITH COASTAL COMMAND IN THE UK, NORTH AFRICA, AND THE MEDITERRANEAN.
……we got one put together again to fly but it crashed, and it had to be put together again and Jim Romaine who did most of the work was acting as second pilot when it crashed. He had to put in another 3 or 4 years work.
The reason I was at Duxford was because I was going to go flying with a friend and the woman who runs the little airfield there said she’d flown a Blenheim.
She must be rather special.
Yes I think she is.
There aren’t many Hurricanes about.
I had my own Hurricane when I was CO of 36 squadron which was a Welington squadron and very widely dispersed throughout the Mediterranean at the time, I persuaded my AoC into letting me have a Hurricane to go round to the various bits of the squadron without taking a full operational Wellington. I enjoyed flying it and it was fully armed but I never came across anything to shoot at which was a pity! The Spitfire once you get it in the air is probably nicer but on or near the ground the Hurricane is easier. The trouble with the Spitfire is that you can’t see straight ahead and when you take off you’ve got to be careful not to push the nose too far forward otherwise the props churn up the runway. The Hurricane is easier to taxi and take off, but once in the air, probably the Spitfire is easier.
And the Spitfire looks so beautiful. You were at Cambridge weren’t you? In the University Air Squadron?
No, I wasn’t in the UAS. I went up in September 36 and it was in the middle of the first term that I put my name down on the waiting list but I didn’t get in, I was too late. I was at school in Truro. My home as in Wiltshire – my parents had a farm near Salisbury, Newton Tony, Manor Farm. I remember moving there in 1920. When I was about 3 I remember seeing my rocking horse at the top of the stairs during the move and I was so relieved that it hadn’t been lost. I remember the Victory Parade for the first world war. I was held up by my father and saw the trumpets and people marching, and I would’ve been about 2. I was sent to school with my brother who was 2 years younger, to Truro. I went to St John’s Cambridge after that. I didn’t know what I should read and I went to see my tutor R Halwell who happened to be the amateur champion ?? of the British Isles, a huge chap. When I arrived, he was a bit late and he’d lost his keys and he told me to look the other way and he knocked the door down. I said I was good at Maths, Physics and Chemistry and he said I should take a Natural Science Tripos. But maths only counted as half a subject and so for the part one you needed another full subject he said why not take geology. And in due course I became hooked on it and I thought it might provide me with a qualification to go round the world. In part two I only took geology and I completed my degree in July 39. I did realise a few years before that that geologists were in very short supply and Shell was sent a chap around to find suitable geologists to join the company when they’d got their degree and he saw me and offered to finance the rest of my time at Cambridge. I said I thought my father could well afford it, and later I wished I hadn’t when I saw my father’s accounts and realised that he could ill afford to pay my fees. In due course Shell signed me up conditional on completing my degree. I had won some sort of prize at Cambridge, it was a sum of money and that would enable me to do a short project. I did one on tectonics in the Alps and Shell thought that was a good idea and it was fixed that I should join them in the Hague on 5 September. War was declared on 3 September. On 4 September early in the morning I had a phone call at home in Wiltshire which went just like this –
â€œWilliams, Wyndham Jones here, he was an impressive chap with a monocle, in charge of the whole of Shell personnel. I presume you’ve heard War has been declared and knowing you’ll want to join the forces straight away so I’ve cancelled your sailing arrangements for tonight and the purpose of this call is to wish you the very best of luck and to assure you that there is a place for you in Shell as soon as you’ve won the war. Good luck Williams. Bang! I only said 2 words â€œYes sir. Cambridge had set up some sort of board to deal with people like myself who’d just graduated and were wanting to go into the services. They offered me a commission in the Ordnance Survey and I could go in as a lieutenant. I said I’d like to go into the RAF with a lot of my friends. They siad well you’ll have to go in as an AC2, and we’ll recommend you for aircrew. They said â€œgo out and think about it and I did, and went back and said yes.
Do you think you could’ve pulled strings to get into the UAS?
If you could’ve, I didn’t know which strings to pull. A great friend of mine got in. He’d applied even before the term started. I don’t think he pulled any strings. in 36 there were signs of possible conflict and everyone wanted to join. Having seen some of the documentary films of the 1st world war and pictures of the trenches I thought the most suitable thing for me was to get into the RAF and not go into any trenches.
You left Cambridge in July 39 and had your job lined up with Shell, did you imagine that war might be averted?
I hoped it would be avoided but when it started I had no hesitation. I thought everyone should take part.
Was it a very common topic of conversation at Cambridge?
Oh yes. We hoped it would be avoided so we could get on with our chosen careers, but all of us realised that we’d have to put our careers on hold. It was as simple as that. I never gave a moments thought to trying to avoid joining the services. I was a bit annoyed with this chap at Shell for trying to make the decision for me. My decision and my friends was that if war came we would be participating in it.
Did you have rooms in College at Cambridge?
For some of the period we were in digs because there wasn’t enough room for all of us, only about half. Then we all had a chance of having rooms in College. In my case towards the end. You had very little chance of getting in there in your first year.
Did you have a landlady?
There were 2 houses linked together and the 2 wives if you like had 4 or 5 rooms. They didn’t provide any food, we dined in College nearly every night. We had access to some cooking facilities. Then in College, I was in D3 New Court and had a sitting room a bedroom and a kitchen. For the bathroom you went down the stairs, down the corridor – it was an outside venture every time you want a pee! The only heating we had was a fireplace and we burnt coal to keep warm. We had a â€œGem who came in to clear up each day and lay the fire.
Did you have to wear a gown?
You had to wear a gown for dinner in College and when you went out at night you had to wear your gown and square. And if you met the Proctor and his 2 Bullers, you had to raise your square and if you were with a girl, he could send the Bullers after to you and ask you to introduce the girl to him. He didn’t always do that. You had to be in by 10pm. A record was kept and if you came in after 10pm you were fined, although in Johns you weren’t fined it was just recorded and shown to your Tutor. If you were after 12 it was an extremely serious offence. If you wanted to go to London for the evening you had to have special permission. It was considered extremely serious if you were late in and you could be sent down. No girls in your room after 8pm except your mother who could stay until 10pm.
Did you go to London a lot?
No, It was so expensive.
Did you go out to pubs and so on round Cambridge?
It depended who your buddies were. We used to drink in our rooms. We’d go to the cinema. We played chess a lot. Rugby. I didn’t row. Tennis, squash.
But you enjoyed it?
Oh yes! Having been to boarding school, there was a sense of freedom even though it was quite restrictive. The Australian students found it difficult, but those of us who’d been to boarding school had no problems!
Can you remember the names of (I think you’re asking about pub names……)
There was the Blue something but their names don’t mean much to me…they’re probably not there anymore…. but most of the serious drinking was done in our rooms. There were summer parties where barrels of beer would be brought in and sometimes they would be laced with sherry or something like that, then there could be trouble!
Did you have a bicycle?
Oh yes. We all did. Then I shared a car with someone..an Austin 7…he took a left turn into a wall and it was sold for parts for 10/-.
When you joined the RAF to be a pilot, you all went through the same procedure didn’t you…?
Well, I’ll tell you what happened to me….I went to Uxbridge and spent 2 nights I think. That was getting into the Airforce and I must’ve got my uniform and then I was sent home on deferred service. They weren’t organised enough to start training all the pilots properly. I went home for 4 or 5 months and was called up for 6 weeks general aircrew training on the South Coast, Eastbourne. We lived in hotels and were taught square bashing, discipline and there was a lot of PT. Then we went off to various EFTS’ and I went to Carlisle and I was taught to fly Manchesters. After you passed out from that, you went to an SFTS, a service flying training school.
How long would you have been at the EFTS?
Between 2 and 3 months I should think. Can’t remember exactly. Then I went to Little Wissington (?) to a twin engine SFTS. Some people might have gone to a single engine SFTS but in my case we were flying Ansons. I was there for 3 or 4 months. I think that was Gloucestershire. We lived on the base. When I got there, I think they’d already decided who was going to be commissioned and who wasn’t.
Had you got your wings by then?
Oh no. You didn’t get your wings until you passed out of your SFTS. I think you went from AC2 to LAC as soon as we started flying. At EFTS you became an LAC. You stayed that way even at SFTS, but those who they’d decided they were going to give commissions to were allowed to wear a white flash in their hats and allowed to live in the Officers Mess which was a tremendous improvement. At the end of your SFTS you got your wings and your commission if you were going to get one. Then you went to an OTU, in my case Andover to fly Blenheims. I had a hiccough though. On my very last exercise before getting my wings I crashed into a hill. The exercise consisted of 2 pilots together, no navigators, no wireless ops. You were given a course to steer and a distance to a target area. You were given a map of 5 miles round your own airfield and 5 miles round the target area, but only a distance and direction between the 2. I crashed into a hill half way between the 2. I didn’t remember anything. I woke up in hospital on the Tuesday having taken off on the Sunday.
Now, do you want to know about the RAF?
Well, tell me about the farm. It’s an unexpected bonus that you were a farmer’s son. Did your father have Landgirls?
No I don’t think he ever had Landgirls. He had about 20 people on the payroll, and they were excused military service. We had a mixed farm, arable, cows and sheep. I helped out during the holidays. My father told me never to go into farming – it was too much of a worry. He was so adamant, we never thought about it as a career. I helped with the harvesting. Father had about 6 shoots a year over his own land and then he also shot over the nextdoor farm. Pheasant, partridge, hare and so on. Father was probably shooting twice a week. There were always birds hanging in the dairy. We had a big garden with a full time gardener. All the veg were home grown. We had home reared meat on the table.
Did your father join the LPB during the war?
No, he was too old I think. He was chairman of the parish council, chairman of the district council, an alderman on the county council…well into local government. He was a leading light in the NFU, a magistrate. Mother ran the Women’s Institute.
Did you have any evacuees?
Yes. There was a school in Portsmouth and the headmaster and his wife came and stayed with us.
So how long did you carry on flying Blenheims for?
In July 1941, we moved from to Burton Newton from St Eval and changed over to Hudsons from Blenheims. We were doing the various ops along the Dutch coast and sometimes just inland. A lot of the time we were patrolling to attack the E boats that the Germans had patrolling and sometimes coming across shooting at our shipping.
Where were you based then?
That was when we were at Burtram Newton in Norfolk. If we couldn’t find any E boats, one of the targets we used to attack was the submarine base at Bo (?) on the Dutch coast. I went in one night and found one of their airfields fully operational, planes taking off and landing. I had delay 11 second bombs so I just joined in, flying at zero feet along the runway! And dropped my bombs.
That must have been quite hairy!
It was very exciting! 11 seconds is a long time. You have a job to see exactly what happens. You don’t go up and away, you keep flat, so you can’t see. We did the same thing after we attacked shipping. We’d go up and over the ship, bomb, and then keep flat along the sea. In the Bay of Biscay, I did what I thought was quite a good attack. The pilot releases the bombs, the idea is that you get a bomb into the ship somehow and it would explode after you’d got away…anyway on this occasion, my navigator started shouting â€œIt’s after us, it’s after us, it’ after us…. I didn’t know what the bloody hell was going on. I said â€œWhat are you saying? The bomb, it’s after us! One of the bombs had ricocheted and seemed to be coming back to us! But 11 seconds is a hell of a long time, so it dropped off long before it got to us, but he was really worried!
You must have had to have had a pretty good relationship with the other 2 crew members.
Oh yes, you got very close.
Did you choose them?
Oh yes. I was always very glad I was the pilot. I chose these 2 chaps who were absolutely first class. The rear gunner was quite a good gunner but he wasn’t such a good wireless operator, although maybe the wirelesses weren’t much good either. He was a very loyal sort of chap. We did some high level bombing, 22,000 or 23,000 feet and at debriefing we’d be asked if anyone had seen a hit and Sergeant Brown would say Yes, I did – direct hit! And these were things like the Scharnhorst. It was a bit upsetting when a few weeks later they came steaming up the channel!
At what stage did you go to the Mediterranean?
Well I was taken off operational flying and posted to Fornaby (?) in about October 41 to teach others to fly Hudsons. I went on a proper instructors course in Upavon. Then in early 42 I was posted to 608 squadron, an auxilliary squadron based in Wick. The whole squadron at one point was moved up to the Shetlands. We were doing some anti shipping some along the Norwegian coast, some anti submarines. Then we started preparing for the Torch operation in North Africa. That was October or November 42. We all flew out to Gibraltar and operated out of there for a week or so. Then we went to South of Algiers and that was mainly anti submarine, some anti shipping, not much. In about the middle of 43 I’d got up to squadron leader in 608 and I was posted to Allied head quarters in Algiers. I was the command training officer which meant that I not only trained but planned. I devised an operation called Swamp. It was to deal with subs in the Med. It turned out to be a very successful operation and was adopted by the allies throughout the Med and in the end we sank virtually all the subs in the Mediterranean. That was using both aircraft and destroyers. I got my AoC. The C in C had to agree it but it was quite interesting. In the Mediterranean you’ve got a fairly straight southern coast line and the shipping went along the coast line and if the German subs came in their escape was limited to 180 degrees. They couldn’t go south because of the coast line. I felt that we should take advantage of this. The operation that I devised was that as soon as a submarine was located we would lay on sufficient aircraft to observe if and when it ever surfaced again. Because as time wore on of course you had to cover an increasing area which would require more aircraft. I was in 608 out of Gibraltar in November 42. I was on an anti submarine sweep flying at 5,000 feet and lo and behold saw a submarine which wasn’t one of ours. I armed my depth charges, went down to 50 feet and ran in from the ideal po9sition and they didn’t appear until just before we went over it. I saw 2 people in the conning tower, I saw them turn round I was as close as that. I did a very good straddle with the depth charges then went up. The charges went off and the sub just disappeared under the water. Then it came up again. It started going round in a curve so I went in and attacked it with everything I had but then that didn’t do any good. They started firing back. I was very frustrated, I couldn’t do any more. The another plane from 608 squadron came in and missed and I had a grandstand view of all this. Then our sister squadron the 500, 3 of those attacked and missed. I had to leave because I was nearly out of fuel. Then the Hurricanes came out and attacked it. The submarine beached itself by which time it had lost half its crew.
Presumably your depth charges had severely damaged it?
Oh yes. We learnt a lot when the crew who were left were interrogated. They hadn’t seen me. Their lookouts had failed them. They were damaged. They couldn’t dive, they couldn’t steer, it was jammed or something, all they could really do was try to fight and run up the beach. It was a very brave effort. What I felt was that when a submarine was sighted, the destroyers should be brought in because sometimes you’d use your depth charges and then there was nothing more you could do from the air so you should have destroyers standing by. I explained it all to the admiral in chief and he gave me a lot of support and what happened was that a submarine had to come to the surface from time to time to recharge or get air and then it would hopefully get attacked and destroyed but if it wasn’t we restarted the whole operation from the beginning brought all the aircraft back, by that time we might have 8 aircraft. You’d start off with only one then two and so on. It was all charted out, what speed they could do and so on. It was very successful. The crew of that sub that survived said they had tried time and time again to come up but there was always an aircraft there – there was no chance for them to surface safely which is exactly what we intended. but nobody had done this before. Then I was given a job I was a wing commander by that time and there was a combined ops centre, naval and airforce and we covered the whole of the Adriatic – we didn’t cover the Malta area, that must have been a different command. That was very interesting. I was let into the Malta (??) secret. We had knowledge of a tremendous amount of German shipping movement. Information was being intercepted and de-coded and the handling of Malta was done extremely well. very few of us were let in on it. we were made to swear on the bible not to utter a word about Malta for eternity until the 70’s when it started to come out. In that ops room was the admiral in charge, the naval commander and myself who all knew and what happened was if something came in you’d get some sort of signal and one of us would go down a little side street and a chap would reveal what had been picked up. you’d never put anything down on paper so you remembered it and went back to your office. if you knew that a convoy was going somewhere you couldn’t go back and say I’ll send 6 aircraft to attack because hopefully there’ll be a convoy, so what you did was to see where your reconnaissance aircraft were and you’d make sure they covered the area and wait for a signal and hold back until you got a signal. When I was let into the secret I was totally amazed that we had this facility. no way was it to be let out in any way. We let the Americans in on it in about 41 but we never told the Russians.
When you were doing your training back in 1940, was it pretty much 9 to 5? Did you get much time off?
I don’t remember much time off. You weren’t in the air from 9 to 5. There were lectures and things like that and a lot of waiting around. One seemed to be busy. The time I felt not as busy as I would have liked was when I was instructing. You sent your pupils off solo and if you weren’t too certain about them, you might be a bit anxious about them taking off and landing.
And you got 3 square meals a day?
Oh goodness me yes. We lived very well in the Airforce. Food was good. In operational flying it was routine to have a meal before take off and one when you got back. I remember a lot of bacon and eggs and chips! We always went into battle on a full stomach and when we came back we filled it up again! In the mess you had meals in aircrew messes and then you went back to your sergeants mess or your officers mess
At the time I had done one tour of operations.
And then I’d done drill instructing at OTU. Instructing people to fly Hudson’s. And then I was posted to 608 squadron, which was a Hudson squadron, and we operated, some of the time out of Wick and some time out of Shetland.
Right up north.
And along the Norwegian coast, and then in the summer we were pulled off of operations, told to get ready to go anywhere. We didn’t know where it might be, but it turned out to be the torch operation and on the day of the landing in North Africa we flew out to Gibraltar and we operated from Gibraltar for about 6, perhaps 6 weeks.
On that incredibly short landing strip?
Yes, short, and it was very crowded, ascending fighters, and flying them off.
Was the runway hazardous for something like a Hudson? Or was it more of a larger aircraft?
It was really just about long enough for us, hadn’t been extended. But the problem was the whole area was packed with aircraft, on both sides of the runway. I can tell you an instances where I was waiting to take, I’d been to the UK, and I was flying back to Splinturst, straight probably the night of Gibraltar, due to fly on to Bleeda, which is just south of Algiers, and a bull fighter coming in from England had landing gear problems and their, we were waiting on the side, their engines were running, and we saw this fighter coming in, one of the undercarriage legs was just waving, the one near us. So it landed, sure enough, swung round hit, cos we could see it happening, I managed to switch off all the, my engines, and shout to the crew to get out, we were about half way back, to get out, when we got hit. But fortunately it was, nothing caught fire, nobody was injured, the 2 aircraft were written off. That’s how tight it was.
But when you’re seeing something coming toward you like that, that must be a heart stopping moment.
Oh sure, but had a lot of those. Just going back. I operated out of Gibraltar for about 6 weeks, before the squadron moved to Bledep. We were doing sort of dropping leaflets, we were doing convoy escorts, with depth charges, we were drain, actually anti submarine sweets, and during that time I caught a German submarine on the surface and attacked. That was eventually beached, that was another long story, I can tell you if you’re interested.
Yes please yes.
I stayed with 608 squadron till about, I would think it was about June when my, I was, our tour expired on that.
On 608, so that’s my second tour and by that time I’d got to know the, Hugh Pew Lloyd, who was the AOC, he had moved to North Africa after leaving Malta and he brought me into his headquarters in Algiers, which was a part of allied headquarters and made me the command training officer and told me one of my tasks was to make the command more efficient and more successful against u-boats. That’s what I did for the next few months, and then I was let into to the great orchal secret, which was, have I told you this before.
As you know, you’re obviously vetted to the extreme, very few people were let in, it was a very impressive sort of ceremony, which you, which I remember the sort of swearing on the bible that I would keep this a secret for eternity, I really mean it. Anyway this course something that totally amazed me, and of course one was taught how to use it and how to protect it. I was then posted, when I became the op’s one in 242 group in Southern Italy, that was in a combined headquarters with the navy, patrolling all the operations in the Adriatic down and round the coast of Greece and of course Albania, over Yugoslavia. I was using my ortra land to help, but the only 2 people, my opposite number in the navy knew it, the admiral knew it and my AOC knew it, but we were the only ones. I can describe that to you, and that, on one occasion I did, I had to get special permission if I ever flew anywhere near enemy territory, but that’s more or less understandable. I did do a trip over to Yugoslavia to one of the islands, to check on a runway, that the.. So I spent a week with the Pods, that was very interesting. Then in the middle of 1944 I was given the job of taking over the command of 36th squadron. Which was a Wellington squadron operating in the Mediterranean against submarines mainly, up to about September, then we were, the German submarines had developed, in Europe, had developed, we’d virtually, by that time, almost got rid of all the submarines in the Mediterranean using an operation called Swamp, which I devised, when I was in allied headquarters and I can describe that to you, anyway, we flew back and we then operated in the channel, stopping u-boats that had developed snorkels, we had very sophisticated radar, and we could pick up snorkels, we did have much success there but we obviously kept them down a bit, and then finally the squadron was moved up to the outer hebraizes, bendeckula, and we were again against submarines. A lot of the German sub marines surrendered to us at sea, on, the day after VE-Day. So that’s my part, I don’t know what part you’re interested in.
Well the whole thing sounds absolutely fascinating, the bit that I’m covering in this book is the last year of the campaign in North Africa, but I’d be interested to know a little bit beyond that I have to say.
Well the other, during that time, when I was CO of 36th squadron we did this operation during the invasion of Southern France by the allies of simulating a convoy that, a convoy moving in the wrong place. Douglas Farebanks jr was the, in charge of the surface craft and I was in charge of the aircraft and we had boats moving in, aircraft dropping window as we moved forward, and I think it was successful because the Germans did the same, tanks to the right place, or sent them to I think the wrong place, as indeed had happened with the invasion of Nordstranks, North of France. The same type of operation was pulled on there and now obviously totally different squadron did it, they had a dropping window and the Germans didn’t move their armour as they should have done, to the real place, but, you know, I don’t know whether we can cover, I don’t know what you would like to start on.
Well what I’d quite like to start on is just
I’ll just show you a few things that I put out.
Were you developing swamp then?
Well that would have been in 1943 for the, the date of this, gives you, yeah. Immediately after I went off and did this op’s one job in Southern Italy, so you can borrow that. I don’t. This Chaz Boeya.
Oh Chaz Boeya, I’ve come across him.
You know him?
I don’t know him personally but I’ve come across his books.
Well I see he wrote page 57. He was in my squadron. Which I’d forgotten. I was quite delighted, he says, I wasn’t a bad chap. He said he joined the squadron and with real regard and so on, and then other the following months of 36th squadron, and then of course we were sent back, and I said I’d given them time off in Rome and then the next day.
An actually what other people did, mine are kept very, very badly, and I’m very ashamed of them, other people seem to have done much better than me, they are in glass but there not left unsecured.
No, I wouldn’t suggest that for a minute. What would be really if this
Yes, if you could make it fairly, when were you thinking of coming back.
Sort of, first week of September. I’m away next week or the end of this month or something.
Well that might be a problem.
What I’m interested to know I just how you, I can’t remember discussing it too much last time we met was sort of, what made you join the R.A.F and how you got involved in the first place. And why, twin engines and not bombers and not fighters. Cos you’re a farming lad from Salisbury, and then Cambridge.
It sort of started, I went up to Cambridge in 1936. The friends I sort of made right away all seemed to be either already in the university air squad or about to join, and it clearly was a possibility of war in sight, with Germany expanding, and so I immediately said, I went to the university air squadron, put my name done to join, this is I would think October 36, having gone out to Cambridge in September. Within probably a month of going up, but by that time the waiting list, there was virtually no hope of getting in. There was nothing one could do about that, so I then went ahead with my studies and that was average science tri-course to start with, part one, and then I had to choose one subject to take my part two in, which I chose, by that time I got hooked on geology, saw there was a possibility of seeing, using it to see the world, either in oil of perennial survey or whatever, so I went for geology. Tremendous shortage of geologists, Cambridge, my year, was only producing virtually me, for the market. There was a girl, nursey coach, who’d be giving, had become an academic geologist, and a Canadian chap who was going to become an ice hockey player, and not use his geology, so I was about the only one available, and BP offered me a job, shell offered me a job and I chose shell because it was more world wide than BP and signed up and thing, 38 to join shell subject, of course by completing the degree. They even offered to pay my university fee, I think from about 37 onwards. I very, very stupidly said, I thought my father could afford it. If I’d known a little bit more about his finances I certainly wouldn’t have said so much, you know, farming in those days, one year was profitable then next year wasn’t and so on. Anyway, I got my degree, due to join shell straight away, but I won some sort of exhibition which, to do a little research, a few weeks really I Switzerland and so I went out, I asked shell about, and they said, oh yes, go ahead and arranged to join them on September the 5th, starting work in Holland (I think, very muffled). The war broke out September the 3rd at 9 o’clock probably, on Monday morning, the 4th of September, a call for me, I was at home in Wiltshire, from the head of shell’s personal, and the conversation went like this, Williams we’ve been generous here, impressive chap, with a monocle, so I with great respect said, yes sir, he said, I presume you’ve heard that war is declared and you’ll want to join the services straight away, we’ve cancelled your sailing arrangements over from harrage to the hook of horn tonight, and the real purpose of this, is to wish you the very best of luck and ensure you there is a job for you in shell as soon as you’ve won the war, good luck Williams, bang, I only uttered 2 words, yes sir.
And that was that?
Well, when I went up, this is to give you my background of getting the R.A.F. I then, I was either called or went back to Cambridge, before a committee, that was deciding how best you could serve the country during the war, and they said, what have you been doing, what’s your degree, and I said, geology, they looked at each other, and some of them didn’t know what geology meant I don’t think, at that time, but anyway, they had a little discussion, they said, well, we think your place will be to join the Army ordinance corp. the survey parts of the ordinance corp. of the army and you can go in straight away as a second lieutenant, and that’s, how does that suit you? I said, it doesn’t, all my friends are in the R.A.F and by that time, this was about a week or ten days after the war had started, they were, some were already in the R.A.F reserve, so I said, I would rather like to go into the R.A.F as a pilot. And, um, oh, no, no, we won’t you to go to this, to become a second lieutenant, and they said, you go outside and think about it, if you go in the R.A.F, you’ll have to go in as an A.C 2, we will recommend you for pilots training and, but you’ll have to make your own way. So I went outside and I thought well, I’ll do what I want. So I went back and I turned down the offer of becoming a second lieutenant, and I think a week later, signed up at uxbridge, as an A.C 2 in the R.A.F, had all my medicals, unfortunately, and they were absolutely fine for a pilot so they, I was sent home, virtually immediately, to await the call up for the flying training, well it was preceded by 6 weeks sort of P.T and drill and that sort of thing, but, to fly badges up in Carlyle, so that’s how I went into the R.A.F, I did my flying training on Manchester’s, little single engine planes, and then I’d forgotten what, I don’t know whether we were given a chance to go through single engine or twin engines. It didn’t make much difference, what you put down, it was what was needed at the moment, that moment in time, anyway, I was sent off to a twin engine, not a, S.F.T.S, service flying training unit, and that was on Andersons.
Right, and where was that?
That was at little wittington. I’ve probably told you this. My last exercise, before getting my wings, was an exercise, called a blind cross country with another pilot, no navigators, no wireless operators, a map of 5 miles around your air field, where you took off from, and a geographical bearing and distance. There was another map of 5 miles and you were meant, 2 pilots to take off, calculate the wind, to follow this geographical, take some photographs and come back. Well, this is in a satellite airfield, I’d already, that morning, what happened I don’t remember, I don’t remember taking off, I don’t remember taking off little risington to the satellite or anything else, I just came to in hospital, in very bad shape. I told you this have I?
No, I don’t think you have.
Oh, well, what happened was that we hit a hill, halfway between there and there, and I just came round in hospital, I didn’t know whether it was a car accident or a plane accident, the nurse said that my parachute hadn’t properly opened, she didn’t know, but very quickly a wing commander came round, who had been put in to carry out the court of enquiry or whatever it was. He said, what did I remember? I said, nothing, I didn’t know whether it was a car accident or a plane accident. He says, you were, I was in a great sort of state of shock, I was black all over, I had broken one leg, I’d cuts here, here, and so on, I was in a bad shape. So he realised that, and he said I way flying with, on a, on this particular exercise and I said, was it with 92, who was a friend of mine, he says, yes, we normally paired up, so I said, how is he? Oh he said, don’t worry, he’s perfectly alright, you’re the chap we’re worried about. Anyway, he came back 3 days later and I was out, or 2 days later, I was out of shock by that time, and he sat down and he said, do you want the good news or the bad news first? I said, the good news. He says, well this was a exercise that you should have never have gone on, we tried to stop you taking off, we tried the R.T. well of course that never worked in those days, there was no jug routine, cos we didn’t have wireless operators on board and we fired lights at you to stop you taking off, but you took off and you flew into a hill. I was obviously was not strapped in at the time, and on the first impact I went up through the Perspex, parachute, all that got ripped open, it was totally ineffective or course and I landed with a bit of the tail, and one engine went off that field one engine, and the main fuselage with my other pilot stayed in, on so it was a miraculous escape of one in perhaps several million, maybe, anyway, he said it was no fault of yours and he says I’m authorized to present you with your wings, and he pinned them on my pyjama coat, very touched I was, and then the bad news was, my co-pilot had been killed, he was a great friend of mine, it was a The only thing that happened, almost the same day, the matron came in and said, oh the girl who rescued you has come to see you, and I said, suddenly I had a, I had a little vision, I said, oh you mean the land girl, with brown hair and described. Yes that’s the girl, she came in, and I said, oh Helen, how are you? I remember you, I said, but you tell me what your, what happened. She said, oh well, it was a terrible afternoon, pouring with rain and it was in the fog, I heard the plane go just over the top, heard the crash, ran up the hill, found you crawling around, you were quite conscious, she said, you gave me your name and said where you’d flown from and I apparently was trying to find my co-pilot, and I was on my, I couldn’t stand up, and I was just on my knees.
And you’d broken a leg?
Oh yes, sure, but I was just crawling on the land, and I said, come on, you help me, and apparently went, ffft, out, she thought I’d died. So she rushed down the hill, got the police and the ambulance and so on.
That’s a miraculous escape.
Course you shouldn’t be here really.
No. I’ve had a few narrow misses.
It sounds like it.
That was the first.
So, how long were you out of action for?
Oh, that was, for about 3 months, and then, I had a few. I was in this cottage hospital, and I’d never been in hospital before and we had a very attractive day nurse, a South African girl. If I needed, nature called, I couldn’t bare the thought of, you know, getting her to, wipe my bottom, so I would have, I tried to wait to the night nurse came on, but had to go, and I decided to crawl out, with one leg broken, and think plaster, and the other leg in bad shape, to the loo. Got caught, and the matron came storming in and said how outrageous it was, and that I had been, oh yes, I had a uncle who immediately brought down one of his great crolies from Harley street, to expect, because of the severe concussion, 6 weeks on your back, no getting off. Got the matron in, you know, the medical profession, they bow down to these Harley street consultants. He impressed on her that I was to lay flat for 6 weeks. Course, when she found I’d gone to the loo she was up in the arms, so she said, she made me promise not to do it again. Next day the same thing happened, it was so quiet, I don’t, I had 2 or 3 other people in the same ward, I thought I’d get away with the second time, I didn’t, she was furious, and she said, I’m not having you in this hospital a moment longer. I’m phoning the R.A.F, she phoned the R.A.F and demanded they came and picked me up and take me away. They did, four chaps came in, said, chum you’ve got to get on a stretcher, well I didn’t have to, they lifted me onto the stretcher and took me off to an R.A.F hospital and the R.A.F hospital, the doctor that admitting me, he says, what’s your trouble? I said, not much, I said, I just broken my leg, but it’s set, but I happened to live in Wiltshire, I said, my father could come and pick me up. Could I phone him now? Oh no he said, well have to look at your leg, see if they set it properly. So they did, and the next morning they looked at it and I said, can I call my father? He said, alright. So I phoned my father to come and pick me up and take me home, and I went home with a promise to come back, I think it was 4 weeks, and perhaps, to see, when the plaster comes off. Anyway, I went home and the following morning I got this doctor, he said, my god, he says, just got your papers, because they rushed me out of the cottage hospital so quickly they forgot the papers, they came a day later and he saw this concussion and saw all these other things. I’d flown into a hill, he’d thought I’d fallen over or something, broke my leg, and he saw this Harley street report from this big chap in neurology or something, anyway, he says, you’ve got to come back, hell of a job to stop them, being brought back to that hospital, I managed, I did go back after about 3 weeks. But anyway, when they took the plaster off, which was very painful, cos all your bones set in here, and if you put your foot down it’s horrendously painful, and that’s why you have, normally you go through, you have physiotherapy and so on. He says I think you should stay here for physiotherapy. I said, no, no, I’ll go back to my unit, because, the reason I particularly wanted to go back, as soon as I got back there and was left, I was commissioned, and I had all my uniform was already lined up and so on, so I was a bit keen to do that, and I went back and it was agony, for a week I, waiting for my air test, cos obviously I’d have to pass an air test. I did some instructing on a link trainer, and tried my, I didn’t want to admit I needed physiotherapy on my leg, but I certainly did. A date and time was fixed for my air test with a lanson, and to see if I was still alright. The range that was, I would go to my dispersal, taxi the aircraft, flying control, pick up the wing commander, not the one that gave me the wings by the way, another one, to test me. So I went to fly to the dispersal, I had to get the urx, cos it was so painful, anyway I got in the plane and we had the air test, and of course he said, which leg did you break? So I told him. I reckon he’s going test me on the single engine to test that leg. Now whether I told him the wrong leg or whether he got it wrong, or, he cut the wrong engine, which he did, and of course you’ve got, you’ve got to hold the with the other leg, but it was my good leg.
So you got away with it?
No problem, no problem. He says, right land, you are perfectly alright. Good luck. Taxi back to dispersal. I said, no, I’ll drop you at flight control, cos I did want to see him, my being helped out of Oh no, no, he said, go back. I said, no, no, sir I insist on. And I got away with that, dropped him, went to the dispersal, had to get the urx to help me out of the plane. That was the start. I was due some leave, and I had, then I went to O.T.U, at Andover on blenams. I had my first tour on blenams. That was interesting.
Is that when you were almost involved with the Bismarck?
Yes that’s right.
Yes I do know that story. Nearly involved!
We stood by for 24 hours.
Yeah, were there 12 of you or something?
That’s what we were going to do. No, it was 14. We were briefed for 20. We had to wait about 25 hours. We were going to do a formation attack, 14 aircraft over the stern and at a 1000 feet, we’d four 250lb, semi-ar, armour piercing bomb. We thought this was probably a dicey operation, but we got assured by the captain or the fellow from group headquarters, he says, don’t look worried like that, he says, we worked out that there’s an extremely good chance that 2 of getting home. I mean, I just, I thought that’s hard luck on the other 12, just, that didn’t put me off.
That’s amazing, but if you’d survived that crash on the hill you must have felt fairly indestructible, didn’t you?
I had no doubt about surviving the war, ever.
Never? Cos people do, you know, some people
People write last letters, in the event of. I never did that.
Did you have any rituals or anything, that you always used to observe when you flew, or?
No. I tell you why. The only thing I was worried about, was Friday the 13th.
Oh really? It can’t come around that often!
I tell you what. I was flying, by that time I was flying a Hudson, and we were due to land at, just before midnight, we’d just come back to bleeda, and my navigator said something about, I don’t know why, Friday the 13th, I said, we haven’t been flying on, we’d been on an 8 or 10 hour trip, I said, we haven’t been flying on Friday the 13th have we? Yes he says. Well we’re bloody well not going to land on Friday the 13th and I stooged round, got called up, considering my flying, why wasn’t I landing. I had difficulty talking my way out of that.
But you managed to get past midnight?
One minute past midnight when I landed. And another occasion, also at bleeda. Due to take off at 11:50 or 11:45 on Friday the 13th, and I found a little trouble with one of my engines that delayed my takeoff.
Yeah, sorry I simply can’t do it today!
It was just a bit late, I wasn’t sure I wanted to re-test the engines.
How funny. But that was the only superstition?
I have flown often on Friday the 13th, but not, without realising it or until too late to change it.
What did you, I don’t know much about the Hudson. I’ve got to say, I’m quite ofay with both, botox, and bo fighters and benoms, but the Hudson I don’t know much about. Were you a fan of it?
It was, essentially a commercial passenger plane, converted to a, you know, a bomb bay put in and a turret, a four engine turret put in as far back as they could in the fuselage, with guns cutting out, you could shoot your own tail plane off, well that was the theory, I don’t think anybody did actually, but the trouble with this turret aft, was, if you took off and you swung, the turret would and you stop, you could go right round and the under carriage was twisted and went up through the tank, and you were on fire in 10 seconds. So it was dangerous from that point of view, but provided you kept that, you kept your takeoff and landing straight, didn’t do the swing, you were alright. A pupil of mine, when I was instructing at O.T.U at fornaby. He nearly killed me. He was taking off, and as you know, to try to give the chap confidence, you don’t sit there and try to grab the thing, try to sort of relax and happy, well this chap took off and he obviously hadn’t tightened his throttle nut, and he took his hand off and one engine came back and we were heading straight towards flying control, I then did grab it and pushed, pushed both throttles right fully forward, right into the, cos we were just below flying speed, and if I’d pull back then the danger was, with that swing we would have gone around. Anyway, I pulled the good engine back a bit and I stopped it swinging any more, but we were still heading a bit for flying control, I managed to get it around a bit, then there was a hanger and I managed to get it around, still not properly airborne, then I decided I just couldn’t get airborne, so I then, having got it past flying control and the hanger I pulled everything back and braked, we went over the perimeter track, just missing a cyclist, cycling and went into, forcefully, almost free dispersal and stopped, still upright, undercarriage hadn’t collapsed. And then I found a chap had broken the aircraft or, and was attacking me, this was the, on the bicycle. He was so frightened, when we stopped he ran to it, opened the door and started attacking me, he was absolutely berserk, and then, the flying control chap, saw the plane coming towards him, he pressed the panic button for the station alarm, got onto the, alerted the hospital and he dived under the table, that’s how close it was.
But that wasn’t my fault, that was the people.
But why do you think a Hudson ever, over a boford.
Why would you be in a Hudson, say, over and above a boford, for example?
Oh, well you see 53 squadron, when I was at Blenham. Just before I left it, it got switched from blenhams to Hudson’s and I did a few operational sorties in Hudson’s along the Norwegian coast, along the Dutch coast. But only very few, we were after the e-boats, we had bombs for that, and if we didn’t any boats we would bomb the e-boat pens, or any other target, and the other, I did bomb the pens one night, and I, one night I, I went into Holland, 50 feet, and the Germans, I saw an airfield, German flying round it, navigation lights on, all lit up, so I switched on my navigation lights, joined in the circuit and went down the runway and released my bombs..
Oh yeah, delay, 11 second delay bombs. And then got away. Good fun really. I’ve had that done to me in Andover. When I was in the O.T.U we were flying Blenhams, well I was down in the mess having lunch and a few J.U 88’s had got into the circuit and that’s what they did. A lot of their bombs didn’t explode, but some did, cos I remember diving under the table in the mess, and then having to move planes from unexploded bombs, and finishing up being a bit slow getting the plane nearest to a, sort of a huge bomb, almost under the wing, I was a bit worried, I had great difficulty in getting an active team to wheel out the batteries so I could start the engines, he said, that’s too close gov, he said, you don’t want to do that one, I said, I’ve got to do that one, come on. Anyway it was alright. And then about, ten minutes later you saw an army chap chiselling the bomb, they didn’t, it hadn’t detonated.
But do you think the Hudson was well suited to the role assigned to it?
It wasn’t really. It was.
Would you rather have been flying boford’s?
And it was just a shortage of planes was it?
Oh yeah, that was your lot, we weren’t privy to what the planning in the air ministry at the time, the squadron was converted and you just accepted the aircraft. Some remarkable stories, in, where I was flying Blenham’s, in 53 squadron one day, I was down for a convoy escort with depth charges, my friend Malcolm was down for an anti-shipping strike with bombs, 11 second delay bombs, in the bay of Biscay, a convoy that was, we had reconnaissance aircraft to follow, following it, anyway, just about midday, my squadron C.O. said, called Malcolm and me, and said, look the armourers have got, armoured your planes round the wrong way, mine, instead of having depth charges, had bombs, and his had the other way round, and he said, what do you want to do, do you want to change sorties or do you want to change aircraft? And we instantly said, we’ll keep to our aircraft, cos we’d tested it and you get a bit of affection for an aircraft. So he went off to do the convoy escort and I went to do the low level, 50 feet, up over the ship, bomb. The theory was, the German couldn’t depress their guns fully, but of course they’ve got, maybe..
50 feet is nothing!
They took the stocks out, and it was a hairy visit, but very exciting, and there’s. I’ll tell you one incident. I did a good straddle and my navigator screamed, he’s after us, he’s after us, after us. I said, what the hell are you on about? He said, the bomb! And one of our bombs had hit the deck and was coming along underneath. But 11 seconds is almost eternity.
Yeah, when you are going that speed.
I got back, I think that was the time I got a merchant ship, we circled round a bit, it was on fire, but, anyway, I got back from that one and Malcolm didn’t, shot down by one of our own fighters.
Was he killed?
They were missing, went into the drink.
It must be hard loosing a good friend like that. And doing what you’re doing, a particularly dangerous
Actually the R.A.F, the air ministry called it off, it was too dangerous, it was, we were loosing too many crew.
I suppose that torpedo bomber role in the Mediterranean, I mean reading some incredible statistic, first tour of duty you had a 17.5% chance of making it through and if you did a second tour it was maybe 3% making it through 2 tours.
You see 36th squadron, at the beginning of the war was a torpedo bomber squadron. The station at Singapore was wildebeest, and they were sent out against the Japanese fleet. All lost.
Wildebeest are hopeless, terribly
And then the squadron was reformed in India with Wellingtons, and then moved to north Africa and then, I think I was probably the second C.O. after it had been reformed, all the wildebeest were destroyed by the Germans.
So when did you join 608?
608 I would have joined in about, fairly early in 42. No sorry, it was august, 608 I joined 13th august 1942, and I left them in the 1st of august 1943 cos, that time we went up immediately to bendeckula, and then we went out to the japrenentably.
And did you join, you weren’t squadron leader then were you, or were you just a flight lieutenant.
I tell you what, when I joined 608 squadron, I was still a pilot officer, and I, but I should have been made, after a year, you were supposed to be a flying officer, but I think, I don’t know whether I wasn’t bothering, but I don’t think my becoming a flying officer came affective until I was out in, you know, I’m sure I was out in bleeda, so virtually the beginning of 43, and then I became flight lieutenant pretty quickly, I was squadron leader by the time I met trenchard, and then I went to allied headquarters, when I wrote that I was a squadron leader, that
That’s a pretty quick rise!
And then, by the end of the year, the beginning of 40, oh march 44, I was a wing commander.
Gosh that’s a pretty quick rise.
Yes, well almost pilot officer to wing commander in just over a year. The flying officer was late and then, but Hugh pew Lloyd helped a bit, because I was chosen, I don’t know who chose, but it was decided that the, he would do an operation trip, and he joined, I think it was, not a particularly dangerous mission, probably, might have been just the submarines search, anyway, nothing very much happened. He bought a box of cigarettes, I didn’t allow my crew to smoke, and he bought a huge box of.
Did he still have his cigarette holder? He used to always have a holder.
Some of the time, yes, anyway, he said, you going to allow me to smoke? And I thought, I said, ok sir, yes. I said, normally we don’t smoke in this aircraft, but we’ll make an exception for you.
Present company accepted.
We took and, pretty uneventful, but he smoked all the time, he did offer me some and I said, no. I did on the ground smoke. But not ever. Anyway, coming back I was due to drop him at maison blanch, the Algiers field, and then fly back to bleeda, which was about another 8 or 10 minutes flying, but we got the cross winds, they closed flying at maison blanch cos of cross winds, and when we got to bleeda the wind was coming over the mountain tamberside, sweeping like, it was absolutely across the runway. The only two places to land, we had already passed, already been closed. We came in and I literally, that was the runway, I was literally sort of, almost at right angles, like that, and bumping down all over the place, like this, the thing is at the right moment you pick your straight to go, and you go, you don’t do it too quickly or too late. You’ve got to get the bump, anyway, by the grace of god and all the luck in the world I did a perfect landing.
Maybe it was just experience and skill.
Sheer luck, and old Hugh pew says, bloody good landing Williams, bloody good, very relived, I might say, he was sitting in the second pilots seat and he was very relived and I went up in his estimation pretty highly.
You thought was a good guy did you?
He was a bully, although he thought it was the with the best on intentions. I remember on one occasion he really torn off a new Zealand, he was either a flight lieutenant, absolutely torn off a mighty streak, and I couldn’t resist saying that I though that was a bit hard, and he turned to me and he says, look here Williams, he was wrong, and he says, he can’t stand up for himself he’s no good anyway. And that’s what he expected you to do, that was a good clue for me, cos when he did anything like that I would have an argument. The other thing, why, funnily enough he was interested in geology and he invited me for his lunch parties, and he would say, whatever rank I was, squad leader Williams, tell them about geology, and he was quite fascinated by geology, so I got a lot of invitations to his luncheon parties. I did this swamp operation, he got, he was very protective about that and we had to clear it through the admiral.
What was the basic principle of swamp?
Oh, the one principle was this, along the north African coast, air convoy’s used to go, and course the German submarines would attack them going along, now the thing that I thought we should take advantage of, having made an attack, they wouldn’t have, as they would normally do in the Atlantic, 360 degrees to escape to, they only had 180 degrees. So that
Why was that?
Well because of the coast line. This was the thing that struck me. For instance, there, if this was the whole Mediterranean, and they attacked a convoy there, they couldn’t escape there cos there was land, they would have to go out there somewhere. So if you kept an aircraft, and they, if they, if they’re on the surface of course you would be able to see them attack them again, so once they had been sighted, you kept an aircraft on them, covering the whole area that they could move to at their underwater speed. If you want to, take that thing, you’ll read it up and read the explanation, and then. I’ll just get it, funnily enough I looked this up last night. Yes, you see, for the first 24 hours after a sighting, you needed 14 Wellington sorties, 19 Hudson sorties, and if they hadn’t any coastline you would need double that number, so it became manageable, and then for the second, the next 144 hours, you needed 24 Wellingtons and 32 Hudson sorties, again if there had been no coastline it had to have double that, and so on. And so the other thing that I found, in this submarine I attacked, it got damaged and it went under and it came up, and I’d hit part of the tail, they could only stay on the surface, they couldn’t dive again. I had no more depth charges, and so I, we went in there, we had a battle with our machine guns, they had guns on the thing firing back. I was, other aircraft came, and attacked it, and I had a grandstand view, mind you, they were being fired at, I wasn’t, I got it by surprise, but they missed it. They straddle, they did not straddle the thing, I was frustrated, it was getting a bit close to the coast and none of the aircrews, they must have been attacked by about 6 other Hudson’s, or 5 probably.
So what is the technique to get low?
They went in low but they, whether they were being fired at, they were being fired at, from the submarine, they’d mounted an extra gun, but I thought, my god, where’s the bloody navy? And there’d been no coordination arranged between the air force, and I did, that was another thing, I tightened up the signals arrangements and everything else, and so in all these swamp operations after that the navy were, at least one destroyer or corvette was So if it came to the surface, they could sink it, but, that prompted, my mild experience prompted me to bring the navy in properly. That’s the sort of I haven’t looked at this for about 40 years. You see you’ve got to cover an expanding area and then you design, I designed these sort of areas that one aircraft could do over, this would be 3 aircraft, and then you step it up, you see, and there, this is, this is still 3, 3 aircraft for the area, and then if you go through, you go through more aircraft and so on. What happens is, if it does, this always happened, they do come up, they need, the batteries need air, then they’re spotted, and then you call off all the aircraft except one and start the whole thing over again.
Presumably they usually do that at night, the coming up for air?
Yes, we insisted, they all had to be using their radar, so we could pick them up on the radar. We had good radar. But I’ll let you glance through that. You can take that.
When you first got, you knew you were going overseas, were you quite pleased to get an overseas posting. Did you know anything about, when you went, or when you were first sent over to Gibraltar did you know that you were part of operation torch?
The day before.
Only the day before? You didn’t know anything about operation torch before it happened?
No. no. We were only briefed, virtually, I should think less than 12 hours before it took place.
And did you know that Eisenhower and co were all on the island?
No, we didn’t know where we were going. We did know
Once you got to Gibraltar did you know?
Oh yes, yeah sure.
Did you know the top brass were all there?
Yeah sure. And of course we had to fly round, we extra tanks on, we knew we were going a long way, cos we had our extra tanks, that we might have been going to, there was some talk that we might be going to north America. We just did not know. We were given
Weren’t given tropical kit or anything?
We were given, I think, tropical kit, but, yes I think, actually we thought it could be the middle east, somewhere, we didn’t think of lanigan north Africa, nobody had, it was just there
You didn’t see any of the convoy’s; the convoy’s where you were?
We took off from, we were at north coatswood, we moved the day, the morning, I think it was to Exeter, and then flew straight to Gibraltar.
So what was the normal operational capability of a Hudson without long?
Without long range tanks.
A few hours?
It was shorter than a Wellington. A Wellington was 12 hours, sometimes 13. Hudson would be probably the most, 7 or 8.
What was the sort of cruising speed of a Hudson? 225? Something like that?
Oh no, no, no, no, not so fast as that. 160 knots, something like that.
Presumably conditions on Gibraltar were pretty good weren’t they? I mean you all got
Weather wise. Oh no. Let me tell you. On my first trip from Gibraltar, I think we did leaflets over Oran, and when we came back..
Was that telling the French to lay down their arms?
When we came back the weather was bad and I was flying a bit below the clouds, we saw lights, which we assumed was Gibraltar, at least I assumed was Gibraltar, about the e.t.a, my navigator with me, and I couldn’t see the bloody runway, so I put on my navigational lights and was stoozing at a 1000 feet, terribly worried that I couldn’t see the runway, then all the ak, ak, in the world came up around us, and we were over soota, you know, just south of, and we realised where we were, so we shot north.
Found Gibraltar ok?
Yeah, we didn’t get hit, hard thing to do. I don’t think I’ve ever been hit be ak, ak, I had it go up all round, seems close, but
Plane jolts about a bit? Is that what happens, I mean, the plane does get jolted around a bit?
Yes, you hear bumps when it explodes around, we weren’t worried about ak, ak, fighters were the worry and the weather. Weather and fighters were the biggest enemy, not ak, ak.
But on Gibraltar you were given proper billets were you?
Well it was reasonably civilised. When we got to bleeda, camp beds hadn’t arrived, the ship had been partly, it had been attacked. We eventually got them, but we slept on concrete, well we had a chance of either sleeping in French billets that were louse ridden or concrete floor. I remember sleeping on concrete floor for a week and 10 days, that was horrible.
Did you have anything basic like rugs and things?
We didn’t have, we arranged our clothes so we could get our hips between lumps of clothes.
Gosh it was all pretty basic.
Oh yes, well you see, November the 6th we were, I think we were at, doesn’t say, but I think we were in north coats, and then on the 6th of November, to Exeter it was 2 hours flying, so I think it was something like north coats, we flew to Exeter on the 6th and then on November the 9th
So the day after torch..
That was 3 days later, sorry, I must have got it wrong. 3 days later. Exeter to Gibraltar, height 7000, visibility good, coastline, 9 hours 15. Get there now what
2 and a half?
9 15, so not very fast.
And then on the 10th, protected patrol on landing beaches near Oran. Saw a battle formation, could have been the nelson. On return mistook qutern for Gibraltar, circled and was fired at.
So was Gibraltar 6 weeks you reckon?
I think it was, I might not have been as long as that, let me have a, see if I can find out. Oh no, I’m talking rubbish, we left on the 21st.
More like 2 weeks.
We got there on the 9th, till the 21st, so that was only 10 days.
And then you went straight to bleeda. And conditions there were considerably worse than Gibraltar?
Oh surely yes.
And what were you doing for food. Were you on normal army rations?
Oh yes, we had those, sort of rations, I think included in those days cigarettes, and Spam. I think you quickly get, bring in local food to supplement that. I don’t remember any particular hardship on food.
Any drink in the evenings ?
Yes I think we drank beer normally, probably tinned beer, or bottled beer. Not so much drinking as there would have been in the UK in pubs, for example.
Which you used to do a lot of?
We did at home. Well there was this tendency, if flying, if weather closed in, and flying was cancelled, to go out and have too much to drink, but the beer in war time was not very strong, so you could easily have 8 pints, and not be really bowled over, I remember having, it was 8 pints, we had a competition on how many pints you could drink before having to go for a pee, I had 8.
Good effort. Long range tank.
Wish I could do that now.
And was there a, would you say there was a.
Is this all being recorded? Only you can see it I hope.
Or hear it rather
Exactly. Was there such a thing as a typical day when you were at bleeda? I mean, you weren’t doing sorties every single day presumably
Well there always seemed to be a lot of sort of mundane, odd jobs to do. I was swinging the compasses of the aircraft. There was always a fair amount of training, and we got equipped with rockets, instead of depth charges. And there was a lot of practising with the rockets.
That must have been pretty tricky wasn’t it?
Um, well we were using course markers, so, and so on. I supposed the tricky part was if you had to, if you were in a dive and you had to pull out in time, was if you were running in on depth charges, you usually got down to about 30, 50 feet, and it was straight and level.
The problem with the dive, you’ve got to pull out at the right time or it would go straight on in?
Yes. You obviously wanted to, you had to some times, you didn’t want to shoot over submarine. That was the only thing that, we practised this and I had, I never used rockets in anger, I’ve only used depth charges. There seemed to be enough to do. When we were off flying, we did, for instances St.Peter we used to go up the top of the mountains and there was some skiing possible.
Which you did?
Yes. But there was the beach; you could go down to the beach. That was quite a trip. You needed a 1500 weight, or access to transport, but as you sort of moved up, flight lieutenant, squadron leaders had pretty good access to transport, C.O. had his own car. But I wasn’t a wing commander then. I in fact organised a hire of a house on the, at the, on the coast.
I used to be down on the Mediterranean coast. That would be about an hours journey I think, the only trouble was the group captain got to hear about it and he asked if he could stay there. Then we found that he’d, he had a strong liaison with the Mayoress of bleeda. Very charming girl. Who did a lot of entertaining, and I was a bit peeved, I went down there once to stay the night and found just in time that the group captain and the Mayoress had been ensconced in the bedroom I wanted.
Quite annoying to drive all the way down there to find that out.
There were restaurants, there was wine
What, on the coast? Or near Bleda?
Well, around, you know
Things to do.
Quite, quite good restaurants both at bleeda. But along the coast to, that you could, they normally had chicken and things like that. But you know, quite a change from the army rations.
And did much to do with the local Arabs?
Did you have much to do with the locals?
Um, yes we got to French families, yes. The trouble was that you had to speak French, and I had ceased speaking French after my school certificate. Gradually I picked up the ability to speak French for the whole evening without getting a headache. So that was quite delightful.
And what about the Arabs?
Virtually no contact. There was a wide, wide, wide gap between the Algerian French, which were often more French than the French, and the locals. Very wide gap. So they did not mix. At all.
And most of the work was looking for submarines rather than for
For me. But I mean other people were. There were not many, what occasionally happened would be the R.A.F from the UK would bomb, perhaps one of the, some of the Italian targets, or the French targets and come along to north Africa and re-arm and bomb on the way back. There was some of that going on. Yes. In fact there was more than that going on that the air force in north Africa bombing. Although of course for the north Africa campaign there was bombing, there were bomber squadrons, and then to the invasion of Sicily. There was of course bombing. And some in Italy.
Did you have anything to do with the Americans?
Yes. In that. Let me think for what purpose
There was no Americans at bleeda was there?
Well I mean, I remember going to conferences, sometimes on British battleships, sometimes on American battleships, the difference was stark. I was in after both, on the British ship Navy, gin was penny tot, old penny a tot. And you had far too many gins in war room.
I imagine no drink at all, was there.
Gin did not have a good affect on me, and by 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon when I got back to my office I felt depressed and decided there and then to give up gin, which I think I have done. On the Americans you would arrive in the morning, you’d have ice coffee or iced sort of drinks, you’d have lunch that would be, every course would be ice this, ice that, ice cream. Everything ice, in the hot conditions produced a stomach ache of some sort, so I didn’t really look with any great favour on being entertained by either. Oh yes. Contact with the American, of course, just getting my bearings. In allied headquarters, under, cos we were under Eisenhower. Eisenhower insisted on every position, your opposite numbers American, and the American and the British would share an office. So I shared an office with a lieutenant colonel with the US air force and the other thing that happened, you swapped secretaries, very interesting this. I had a secretary called P.F.C batromie, who couldn’t spell, and if he could spell it would be the American way, and my spelling has always been abysmal. And I hate to think what the air ministry thought of my letter typed by P.F.C batroie. But my corporal worked for the US lieutenant colonel.
Oh it was. And you had to be, you had to have the air rank before you could have an office. You didn’t have to share an office. Eisenhower was terribly strict. I may have told you this story. I remember one night at a cocktail party, I was in a group with a lot of people I knew, and they were pulling each others leg and called them limey’s, they said limey’s and things like that. We hadn’t noticed Ike was standing there, and he looked around when he heard one of the US officers call him or me a limey. Next day, same day, back to the United States. And the chap said to Eisenhower, he wasn’t offended I was just pulling his leg. He was absolutely insistent on.
I think one of the reasons was because, Anglophobia amongst the top brass of the Americans was so rife that, had to keep a lid on it the whole time.
I think, my recollection of him was, I mean, he ran at it as a political point, I don’t know how good he was on military issues, and so on, but he felt his main job was to keep the Brits and the Americans together. And then he had the job of course, bringing in, to some extent some of the free French.
Difficult job. Impossible job actually. But he did do pretty well didn’t he.
I think he did a marvellous job. He had under him, of course, Cheddar. He was a delightful chap. Absolutely. I’ll tell you one instance I had with Cheddar. I was down at, this is the 608 squadron, I was charge of a detachment of about 6 Hudson’s, down in Oran, and there was an, there was also there a naval detachment of, I think they were about 6 swordfish, and, I’ve forgotten why we were there now, but we had a visit from
Spatts, Carl Spatts.
Yes. He was a 4 star general.
He probably was by that stage, yeah.
Anyway he came with cheddar and a lieutenant commander, a naval lieutenant commander, fleet air arm chap. I was there to greet them and to be questioned. This chap was asking questions, and then he had one chap down in rank, also asking questions, trying to impress, you see, cheddar and this chap. I’ve forgotten now what the question was. It was so inane, so stupider a question that my mouth sort of fell open, like this, I’ll always remember that cheddar stepped in and said, for Christ sake what a god damn stupid question, how the hell do you expect the chap to answer that, you see. Full of support. Anyway, they all left, they shook hands, and cheddar, as he left the room, turned round and gave me an enormous wink. Lovely chap. He’d had his tragedy, he’d, saw his wife killed, in front of his own eyes, in a Hudson crash in Cairo, just that side of Cairo. She had been, I think, visiting Jerusalem, and he went out to meet her, and this Hudson came in and, I think it had put down much to much flap, you could put down virtually 100% flap, in the, we often, we put stops on them, to limit the flaps to about 70%, because once you’ve got all full flap down the aircraft was virtually uncontrollable, and if you had to go round again, I’d done it, but I would only do it under exceptional circumstances, if you go round again, and when you take your flap up you must do it just terribly gently, because you taken up, the whole plane goes down. This pilot was overshooting, and had full flap, and then going round again he went straight in, all in flames, and cheddar was waiting. His second wife was a girl called lady black, who, I don’t know who her husband was, or had been, but she caused me a bit of trouble, she was very fond of Hugh pew and she would give dinner parties, I’m not quite sure where she came from, but eventually cheddar married her. At the time I was thinking that, Hugh pew knew her as well and had one weekend, Michael, have I told you this story. Michael Benn, Tony Benn’s elder brother, he was a night fighter pilot, and he was the A.D.C to Hugh Pew Lloyd. Delightful chap, we were great friends. We used to go to the opera house in Algiers, they had 2 opera companies, very good opera house, and we enjoyed opera. So I knew Michael very well, and he said to me one weekend, he says, Hugh pew is away for the weekend, why don’t we go up to shrear, the top of the mountains for the weekend, do a bit of skiing, we’ll take some rations. I said, what about transport? He said, oh we’ll take the old mans car, he’s away. So we took his car and his driver, and rations and went up to this hotel, had a lovely weekend, we knew the owner of the hotel. We gave him the rations and the food we got, I don’t think had any connection with the rations, we couldn’t distinguish any
Yeah. No Spam in sight.
We came back, good weekend, and the next morning, very early, Michael gave me a call and he says, I’m off back to the UK, and I said, why? He says, I’m fired. Hugh pew found out we took his car. And he promised apparently, promised Lady black the use of the car, and what had happened she tried to use it, and of course it was away, phoned up and when Hugh pew came back she phoned and said, Hugh you promised me your car. Or something, and it wasn’t there. In comes Michael, Michael admits that he was using it. Fired he says, can’t trust you. So I was outraged, I was the wing commander, well I was either a wing commander or a squad leader and Michael was flight lieutenant, so I though this is absolutely wrong, I must take the blame as well, if not all the blame. So I stormed in to see Hugh pew. What are you doing here Williams? I didn’t send for you, I’m busy. I said, I hear you’ve fired Michael. Yes, none of your business, he says, get out. And I said, it is my business, and I explained that I was. You weren’t in charge of the car, get out. We had a flaming row. I said, I’m not going sir, you know the system in the R.A.F, the senior officer takes the can. I’m taking the car, if any trouble with your car, I was the senior officer using it. Shouting match. I think I shouted, I didn’t call him any rude names or anything, but he called me a hell of a lot of rude names. He got, I said, I wouldn’t go. Arrr you bloody, get out of my office, go and tell Michael I’ll let him off this time.
So Michael was saved.
So he stayed.
Because he was killed, wasn’t he? Later on.
When he left Hugh Pugh, he went back to his old squadron, or another one, and went into the sea one night, in the, probably around Crete I think it was. Very sad really. Sad. Course I’ve had a lot since, in my civil life, with Tony Ben. When I was representing the oil industry.
Yes of course. And you established that you knew his brother did you?
Oh sure, yes. But funny, when I got back, when the squadron got posted back to chidner, shortly after the group captain was posted away and I was acting station commander, I didn’t get the rank, I had the rank of wing commander, acting as station commander. Suddenly got a T and X, or whatever it was in those days, from the air ministry, to expect air commodore, lord standscape, for one week, and ensure he has access to all station personnel as he requires. So up along comes father Ben, and explains that his job is to prepare R.A.F personnel for peace. Have I told you this?
And what I would like to do is to talk to everybody on the station, in groups of about 30 or 40, something like that, would do several a day, for a whole week, to see, I don’t know how many, several hundred people on the station. He’s going to go through the whole lot. I went to one of them, the first one, I don’t know whether it was the first one or not. And his approach was that, here we are, just about to win the war, are we going to win the peace, how are we going to treat Germany after war. My job is to get all R.A.F personnel, you know, thinking about this as a positive measure, and he would say, how do we treat. Shoot the lot of the bastards sir. From the back. So he would with great patience say, well, that is one, can I have a few more, then he would come back to that and explain it would need a lot of bullets and a lot of ground to bury them in. Make them appear to be a rather silly suggestion, and so on. He was a very quiet, gentle man. Cos I told him I knew Michael. I didn’t know. I hadn’t met Tony then, I met Tony at, and of course I told Tony too. I was interested, listening to Tony being interviewed on television one day, and he said, he was asked what the worst moment of his life was. It was when he heard that Michael had been killed.
Yeah, he was devoted to his older brother.
Did you hear that?
Yeah. I’ve met, I got to know him at one point. He was a delightful chap. You don’t have to agree with his politics. He was a lovely chap.
Oh no. I found he was so, all this terribly, terribly polite. Normally, ministers, when you finished your session with them, or whatever it’s for, they don’t dream of ever showing you out. Yet Tony would always walk down the stairs with me to my car.
He was a, cos I used to work in book P.R., so, and I was doing some P.R. for his diaries and various visions of his diaries. I know when I first met him, I mean, it’s very rare that authors, when you’re doing the P.R. round, you know, talking them off to interviews, they always wanted to talk about themselves, and he was the first person I’d come across who had said, now, tell me all about yourself. It was very, very rare, and I immediately warmed to him. Thought he was absolutely delightful. But tell me, did you, when you were out in, 608 squadron, well, generally in the R.A.F did you find that class ever came into it, was there ever much division between N.C.O’s and Officers and things like that?
In the R.A.F?
I’ll tell you my views on that. I thought it was bloody stupid to divide crew between officers and sergeants, I mean, I’ve always thought that, that division was stupid and archaic. Because, the thing that I was particularly incensed, for example, when I was flying blenhams, I had 2 sergeants. Sergeant Shawn and sergeant brown.
As your crew?
Who were in my crew. They were absolutely delightful. They would have died for me, you know, very, very loyal. Every time we dropped a bomb, even I fit was 23 thousand feet, and we’re asked if anyone had seen where the bomb fell, sergeant brown would say, I did sir, and when I was at sergeant brown, direct hit sir, direct hit. Lovely chap. Wasn’t a very good wireless operator, good gunner. Then we get diverted to another strange airfield, land and of course spend the night, cos I’d go to the officers mess, I don’t know anybody, they were together. After a trip, and an exciting one, where you’ve nearly all been killed, you want to talk about it amongst yourselves, course share a few things. We were separated, they had each other, they were in the sergeants mess. I really envied them, there.
You had to go off and talk
I had to go to the officers mess
What about 608 squadron.
Well 608 had mixed, mixed
Who was you crew there?
Again, again I thought the same thing, you fight and die together, why can’t you live together. Totally, totally wrong.
Do you think, I guess there was more reason for that on the ground, with the army, I suppose.
Oh yes. When the air force was set up, of course it was a break away from the army air corp. and trencher, I think fought very hard to have a separate air force, that he took over, virtually the, the army’s system, and it really ought to have been changed.
Did you have the same crew the whole time you were in 608?
Oh yes, well virtually yes. And when, I did in 53. 608, yes.
Who were they?
The navigator was an officer, well no, I’ll tell you what, eventually, I did have as the gunner, I had the squadron air gunner, the senior air gunner, and he was a flight lieutenant, he was more senior than I was, but he was a old first war pilot, chap, who’d got, been shot down in the first world war, had a crooked arm, was. Ah no, that’s not, that’s not, that was in 36 squadron, sorry. But anyway, carry on with the story with this chap. He was always keen for action, and whenever there was an opportunity, if for instances, you didn’t see any shipping or your looking for shipping, why don’t we go in and sort of bomb the coast, which we probably had been forbidden to do for some reason, but he was always looking for action. He was called the pirate. But he was with me in 36 squadron, and one night, I came back and I wanted to land at regiar, and regiar for some reason was out of action, and I was diverted to maison blanch, and the weather was right down. I spent nearly 2 hours, trying to find and get into maison blanch, and we had, the wireless op was working, that A.S.V, the radar operator was working, the navigator was working, the second pilot was calling out my altitudes, and they were all involved and we made many, many attempts, just didn’t see any, had to pull up, then we came down out at sea, make sure we were out at sea to get down to 50 feet, and then come into the coast, we did this for about 2 hours, and I said, well if we have one more go and I said, if we don’t make it this time, we’ll have to go up and you’ll have to jump out, course there’s no other way. Anyway, we went in, and we were homing in onto a beacon and just fortunately, and we’re flying at 50 feet, just thought, hey, there was a cloud break, and I saw the runway, and did a splitarse turn and managed to get in. To everybody’s great relief, particularly mine. And we’re all having a meal, afterwards, and talking about it, and I looked down and there was the pirate, he was absolutely miserable, I said, pirate what’s up? What’s the matter with you? He says, I was no help whatever, I was bloody useless, sitting in the turret there, I never contributed a single thing to getting us back down on earth again. I said, you couldn’t help it, it wasn’t your job. He said, there was nothing to shoot down, we were in cloud all the time.
What an amazing fellow. Would you say that your, the sort of stuff you were doing in 608 squadron, that wasn’t as hazardous as the blenham work?
Oh no, no, no, no. I always said these low level anti-shipping strikes, they were called off.
So it’s solely anti-submarine work you were doing basically.
And then we went, well then, on 53, we were on submarines and at night we would operate, or sometimes at night we would operate bomber command, the 20, 33 thousand people (or feet, very muffled) and, or we would do the u-boats and then the intrusion, the intruder operations.
But 608, when you were in 608 in north Africa, that was
That was 53, 608, the only thing, I did one shipping attack, in, I think it was south of Genoa. Small ships, with the Hudson.
But during the duration of the north Africa campaign, that you were out there, it was anti-submarine work. But solely that
Oh yeah, that was my, anti-submarine was sort of, foot hold, that I focused on.
And did you have many successes? I know there was that one
I personally only, I got that one, but no, the macker, the command, the US and UK air force, oh yes. We virtually eliminated, virtually all the German submarines. They used to bring more, extra ones in, through the straights of Gibraltar; it was no problem for them. And then, of course they were based in the South of France, they virtually, the air force and the navy sometimes, of course, they had to. What they found is, whenever they came up, they picked up the radar searching for them, and they just found they had to dive again, and they just couldn’t stay on the surface, they had to dive again, and they found it difficult, cos when they did come up, course they were attacked by the navy or the air force. I mean, 90% of them I think we got, using swamp.
So it’s just the question of closing the net really!
I think at the time of the invasion of the south of France, I think they only had a couple operating. If that. So it was, it was quite a successful campaign. But when I was in algae’s, in toranto, as the op’s one of 242 group, I was doing, well various things. Some bombing of the German forces in, either Albania or Yugoslavia. Certainly attacking shipping, and of course we, I knew when the ships were coming down, marvellous. But of course you never sent aircraft out, I would get a little sort of sign or signal that, or something for me to see, I used to have to go out of the ops room, out of the building all together, round to a little side street, to this place where the orchard people were, and they would show me the cables of the, never put anything on paper, I had to back into the ops room, my opposite would as well, he’d be either there just before or after me, or at the same time. And we’d go back to the ops room and we’d, for some pretence, we would mail some recognisance and then wait, but then hold back any strike force you had, and wait till the recognisance aircraft to report, you had, then you sent off, you knew all the time, and course they sometimes, misreported it, I mean they would, instead of being boats they would call and tell me destroyers and so on, we knew what they were, but could never correct it, and we’d send off the strike force to attack. And that’s of course, I mean Rommel could never understand why his supply ships were always being bombed, going through to Libya, but always they were spotted by recognisance aircraft and then the strike, and they got the impression, the allied recognisance and what not were exceptionally good. But the indership was going all the time, and it’s route, marvellous.
Yeah, amazing, amazing, well it made all the difference in the world, didn’t it?
And, when in 1970 I saw this, the whole secret came out, I was amazed, cos I was going to keep that, even when I went to heaven I wasn’t going to tell anybody, or hell.
I mean I never dreamt of telling my wife or anything. Now it’s all gone.
Did you find that the whole experience of North Africa was quite enjoyable, did you enjoy it of was it exciting times?
Oh I think so, yes
And how much were you aware of what was going on else where? I mean, even when you were first out there and, in 42, 43, I mean did you know what was going on in Tunisia for example.
Well we had the BBC news. Not much more. Well, in allied headquarters, yes, we probably got a little But that was confidential information. We were more up to date.
But before you got to allied headquarters?
Oh no, you’re out in bleeda, no. You just heard the news.
And can you remember when the axis surrendered in teenis?
The axis surrendered
In Tunisia that is?
Oh yes sure. Well we heard the news, but the funny thing was, I was totally unprepared for the Italians surrender, and it was very funny, I was, I went, I was flying a Cessna. In the communications at allied headquarters, in algae’s, we had a communications flight and we had, we had a hurricane, a spitfire, we had 2 little American Cessna planes, who could take out 4 passengers and I think that was it. And the pilots in allied headquarters, of course could use these things for communication along the North African coast into Sicily, for example, or to Malta and things like that. And, I could of course fly them all. I first flew a hurricane and a spitfire there, but I would do a circuit and bump, the chap would just make sure I knew the drill, because you could have any duel, and he’d say you’d better do a circuit and bump before you go, and so we did and similarly with the Cessna’s and on this day, the day the Italians surrendered I was flying, I think I’d gone to Tunisia and I was flying over to polowa, for some reason, we occupied Sicily. I landed at polemo, and I could see on the tarmac in front of flying control, a hell of a lot of different aircraft and I certainly saw Hugh pew Lloyd, and I had not raised my flaps properly, and I saw Hugh pew doing this, he said, raise my flaps, which I then realised, I did, and I recognised him and I got out of the plane and I said, what’s going on? Oh, they were Italian planes down there as well. Oh, he says, the Italians are surrendering, and he was there for the surrender, at poloma.
How amazing. Did you ever get attacked by, by axis aircraft when you where in 608 squadron, when you were doing your anti-submarines sweeps and things?
Oh, when I sank this submarine we had, yeah, a JU88 came at us, but we shot back at it and it went away. I think I got a couple of bullets, but that was from the ship, the submarine not from the JU88.
And was bleeda ever bombed when you were there? The air field?
Oh in north Africa. Oh yes. I remember the first time I went in to algae’s. I was going to stay there for the night, going with another chap, in 1500 weight, why we were going, whether it was just social I don’t know, or some other purpose. We got in there and it was dark, and just coming down the hill, you know, the top brass, hell of a raid started cos the American fleet and most of the British fleet happened to be in court, that’s why the Germans were attacking, the, the noise, we stopped and the gates and cliff were the only sort of shelter we could have, the noise was horrendous, of course, from all the battleships and most of the ak, ak, we coming from the boats. And that went on for about an hour and a half, and we were just stuck there on the side of this hill under a cliff and that wasn’t nice at all. A raid on bleeda. There was one, but I don’t think, I think I was flying. I don’t remember going to an air raid shelter in bleeda. I was bombed at Andover.
And, oh, St.Ebble. We were flying front St.Ebble we were bombing the.. Started to come back, we were diverted to thorny island. St.Ebble mess had been flattened. By JU88s.
There good aircraft, the JU88s. Very good.
So I beginning at bit of a disjointed
Oh that’s all right, no.
What are the other things you’d like to, sort of, hear about?
Well, I think we’ve almost, pretty much covered it, haven’t we. I’m pretty sure.
I’ll let you take some of these things. You might. If we have another date..