Hullo ma wee blog,
Sometimes things come unbidden to mind. Sometimes you've no idea what triggers memories and sometimes you know absolutely what the trigger is and yet it's not something you have any control over. For instance, I've written a lot about my Dad in the course of this blog, but even then you of course have hardly scratched the surface, because life's like that; it's complicated. I've written extensively about his time in the RAF during the Second World War where he served as tail gunner in Lancaster bombers. He was merely a tiny part of something enormous and yet it's interesting to realise that there are things out there, often much bigger things that somehow make you remember tiny details.
Research for the 153 Squadron postings piqued my interest in the Second World War in general and RAF bomber command in particular. Nowadays, I watch a number of programs relating to World War II in the air. Some of them are good, some not so good, but often, details of remembrance come back to me. I watched a documentary about bomber command the other day and the programme contained interviews with surviving aircrew who flew in bombers, particularly Lancasters. Naturally, I found some of what was being said quite moving. Some of it triggered memories of conversations with my Dad. Tiny details and some significant things came back to me as I watched and listened to what these men were saying. Here are a couple of examples from the programme that particularly resonated.
Background/crew bale out/ tail gun position.
This section brought back a memory where Dad told me about the rear gun turret, how he'd had the Perspex panel in front of him removed to improve vision as when it was in place it was prone to icing up, reducing critical visibility. He also reminisced about donning the flying gear – rear gunners, due to the exposure to the cold, wore much more protective clothing than other aircrew. Dad remembered that he had been trained to put on this equipment slowly so he did not sweat. At 20,000 feet the temperature could plummet to minus 40 degrees C in the gun turret and this would cause residual sweat to freeze on the skin despite the layers of clothing protecting him.
He also described training in low-level high-speed flying in similarly horrified terms, once with a pilot who was afterwards removed from duties due to being assessed as unbalanced and unsuitable for flying duties! (Dad recalled flying over water at such low levels that he screamed into his intercom that "if you go any f****** lower I’ll have my F******* feet in the f****** water!")
The bomb run/flak/enemy fighters/corkscrewing/window
Needless to say, these things made me quite teary eyed, but I have to admit, they made me smile too. The overwhelming thought though was how on earth any of them managed to cope under these circumstances with what they were facing. Despite this, it's only a small part of the man I knew.
High density defenses/type of flak/Dresden
God – I miss the old bugger!
To read the full story of 153 Sqdn and their 1945 campaign diary in date order start here and follow through the dates by clicking 'newer posts'.
See you later.