115 Squadron

Looking back

our time with Bomber Command

Frank LeatherdaleInterview with Frank Leatherdale - +2016

00:59:36 audio recording

Creator Annie Moody

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Samuel GuyanSamuel Guyan comments and memoirs - °1920 - +2004

1:48:47 audio recording

Creator Samuel Guyan

'Jock' Guyan comments on his operations.
the recording includes audio clips from a documentary including excerpts of Arthur Harris,
engine noises and interviews.
Samuel Guyan flew an operational tour with 90 Squadron and a second tour with
115 Squadron where he manned a .5 calibre gun beneath the aircraft.
In all he flew fifty one operations. Including one where his crew thought he was just going for
his breakfast but found himself flying that night with another crew as a spare gunner.
He sings several songs including 'Ops on a Stirling' to the tune of Waltzing Matilda,
'The old red flannels drawers that Maggie wore' and 'No more ops for me'.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Eric Wilkin

1:04:56 audio recording

Creator James Sheach

Erik Wilkin worked on the railways before he joined the RAF.
Initially he wanted to be a pilot but it would be a significant wait for training.
He trained as an air gunner and was posted to 115 Squadron.
On one occasion his aircraft made an emergency landing at RAF Woodbridge after been
attacked by a Ju 88.
On another occasion he was injured in the leg from a shell splinter.
Eric's first pilot showed him how to fly the aeroplane so he would be able to take over if
the pilot was injured.
Eric was awarded the DFC and bar but did not receive any courtesy in its award.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Ken Turnham

0:23:09 audio recording

Creator Susanne Pescott

Ken Turnham was born in St Albans and volunteered for the Air Force on his 18th birthday.
After his initial training as a wireless operator he was posted to an Operational Training Unit
at Lossiemouth.
He and his crew were posted to 115 Squadron at RAF Witchford where he completed 29 operations.
On an operation to Cologne his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he was wounded.
He talks about his Pilot Richard (Dick) Briggs - known as 'First back Briggs'. H
e also discusses jettisoning their bomb load over the sea and the loss of Glen Miller.
After the war, Ken worked with the RAF as a release and resettlement Officer.
Whilst in Germany he worked in the research team investigating the scene of crashes.
During this time he met his wife.
After he left the RAF he worked in engineering.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Tony Snook

0:49:17 audio recording

Creator David Kavanagh

Tony Snook was an air gunner and served on 115 Squadron in the later stages
of the Second World War.
A member of the school air training corps, he had his first experience of flight when
his squadron partook in a summer camp.
He describes how an opportunity to stand behind the pilot of a Beaufighter holding
onto his seat came about.
He enlisted as a PNB (pilot, navigator, bomb aimer) in November 1943, after leaving school.
Following initial training he successfully undertook elementary flying training, however, after D-Day there was an
excess of pilots, and Tony was moved to an air gunnery course on the Isle of Man.
He describes meeting his crew and arriving at RAF Witchford in February 1945, where they joined 115 Squadron flying Lancasters.
Five operations were undertaken before the end of hostilities.
He describes the only time they came under fire and, unfortunately for the ground crew who cleaned up the aftermath,
the major damage was to the elsan toilet.
As members of his crew were discharged after the war, Tony was allocated to another crew.
He describes several operations to Bari, Italy to repatriate soldiers from the Eighth Army in Lancasters that ferried
twenty passengers and five crew.
In 1946, Tony was posted to a gunnery instructor course and then to the central gunnery school at RAF Leconfield.
In February 1946, shortly after his posting from 115 Squadron, his crew were all killed in a tragic accident.
(This was on a test flight with Lancaster - PB373 KO/?)
Tony was discharged in November 1947, he regards his flying career as a great adventure,
but appreciates that flying operations in 1945 were completely different from those undertaken earlier in the campaign.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Timothy Sindall

1:41:46 audio recording

Creator Chris Brockbank

Timothy Sindall is the son of James Herbert Sindall DSO, whose career as a pilot in the Royal Air Force started
in the mid-1930s.
Following the discovery of all of James logbooks, personal letters and newspaper cutting, Timothy has put together
a biographical account of his father's career.
The logbooks have provided a detailed account of aircraft and sorties flown. Letters to family give detailed accounts of various incidents, including one where he was forced to crash in Norfolk and another where he faced a court martial.
A letter from a former prisoner of war who worked on the Burma railway describes how morale amongst prisoners raised when operations against the Japanese reached them.
His first logbooks commence with him being a civilian and then joining the Royal Air Force qualifying as a pilot in 1936.
At the outbreak of the war, he was posted to the Central Flying School to train new recruits.
In 1941, he was posted onto Wellingtons at 115 Squadron at RAF Marham and then in 1942 he was sent to Air Headquarter in India. Much of 1943 was lost when James contacted malaria.
1944 saw a return to operations, when he was posted onto B-24s of 215 Squadron.
Bombing operations throughout South East Asia were then carried out.
Post war, James served in the Air Ministry.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Harry Rossiter - +2019

1:19:05 audio recording

Creator Adam Sutch

Harry Rossiter grew up in East London but his family moved to Essex which gave Harry a "ringside view" of the Battle of Britain.
He volunteered as a bicycle messenger and tried to join the Royal Navy as a telegraphist.
He was encouraged to join the RAF to train as a wireless operator.
He was originally posted as support for 217 Squadron in Ceylon but he was later returned to England and posted to 115 Squadron at RAF Witchford.

His crew survived a number of night fighter attacks while on operations.
He recalls the losses on Bomber Command and his demobilisation in 1946.
Harry had always had a love of music and played the trumpet and cornet in dance bands throughout the war and into civilian life.

Source: photo: devonlive - International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Geoff Payne

0:32:26 audio recording

Creator Brenda Jones

Geoff Payne has his first experience of the Royal Air Force with the Air Training Corps, at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, where he had one of his first experiences of military humour.
He joined in 1943 at the age of 17 and a half hoping to become a pilot - he took the faster option because of his young age and trained as an air gunner.
Basic training was carried out at Lords Cricket ground in London. One clear memory is helping to carry patients down several flights of stairs from a nearby hospital during an air raid.
Time was spent at RAF Bridlington on Initial Training Wing before attending Air Gunnery School in the Isle of Man.
Further training was undertaken at RAF Banbury where he was crewed up on Wellingtons, before moving to the Heavy Conversion Unit at Wratting Common to convert to Stirlings.
During his time here he attended an escape course at RAF Feltwell and was instructed in unarmed combat,
which he dismissed as pitiful.
He and his crew were posted to RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire, where he flew his first operation in February 1944
replacing an ill air gunner. He later discovered this was an inexperienced crew.
He remembers the target was around Osnabrück in Germany and it was a melee over the target where they were attacked by two
Me 109s, which they successfully shook off. On his return, he remembers being unable to sleep and went for a walk into Ely.
There he discovered the Oxford Cambridge boat race was being held and watched it.
Target areas of Germany included Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Augsburg. On his 5th operation, the aircraft was attacked, and the aircraft lost its heating and communications. He suffered frostbite and spent several months recovering in Ely hospital.
On regaining fitness, he was transferred to RAF
Waterbeach and was allocated to a crew led by Ted Cousins. Waterbeach was a pre-war airfield with comfortable facilities.
Time off was spent competing in athletics and football along with drinking at the local public houses.
When time allowed, he went home, but found the experience boring: all his friends were serving away, and there was
little to do except drink or go to the cinema. His elder brother was serving as a navigator in the Far East, and he felt it
unfair to talk about his experiences with his family.
At RAF Waterbeach there was a greater variety of operations. Targets varied from Germany to Southern France.
He also remembers one trip to Poland. This entailed flying over Denmark and they could see the lights from Sweden
and anti-aircraft fire.
He has a clear memory of most of his operations but does not wish to dwell on some. On one occasion he spotted a Me 109,
he tried to warn the pilot but his intercom had frozen and emergency light was inoperative. He tried to open fire but his guns
jammed – the night fighter opened fire and hit the centre of the aircraft. The aircraft began violently manoeuvring and he wasn't
sure if this was deliberate evasive manoeuvres or if they were out of control. He made his way forward and discovered the aircraft
door open and the mid upper gunner missing. There were cannon holes all around the centre of the aircraft. He still wasn't sure
if he was the only one on board until he reached the main cabin and found the rest of the crew in position.
They made it back home where they realised an incendiary bullet was lodged in the ammunition pannier.
His last operation was one of the thousand-bomber operations in Germany, the air black with anti-aircraft fire. On his return,
the air gunners went sent to the bomb dump to assist the armourers in preparing the bombs for the following days attack which
was carried out by the United States Army Air Forces.
After completing his tour of operation, he was posted to RAF Brackla, hoping to be retained as physical training instructor,
but ended up at RAF Weeton near Blackpool to be trained as a driver.
He served at several locations across Southern England before his final posting which was with a microfilm unit in Frankfurt.
Fraternising with locals was not allowed, but he did manage to learn German.
He played in a football match against a much better German select team. After demob, he returned home and was involved in the manufacturing of cars at the Triumph factory. He married, and because of unrest and strikes in the car industry, he moved to Scotland and was employed at the Carron company in Falkirk as a production director manufacturing steel bars, where his ability to speak German became an advantage in his dealings with foreign companies.
He met an ex Luftwaffe pilot and experiences were exchanged - there was no animosity whatsoever and it was accepted they
both had been carrying out their duty.
Geoff looks back on his time in Bomber Command with great fondness. It was like a big family.
He still has contact with surviving crew members, and still attends reunions.

Source: photo left: The Sunday Post - International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Jack Marshall

0:28:26 audio recording

Creator Glen Turner

Jack went to New Zealand in 1937 and became a steward in a gentleman's club in Napier, where he stayed two years
until the war broke out.
He joined the Royal Air Force and went to England where he did train at RAF Uxbridge to become an air gunner.
With 115 Squadron he went to Operational Training Unit at RAF Marham and RAF Bassingbourn, where he spent time as an instructor.
The squadron did three operations to Italy and on one occasion the Wellington aircraft iced up so badly that they went through the Alps at low attitude, rather than over. On landing, three engines cut out, with only three- or four-minute fuel left.
Jack recalled two other incidents. One when they were attacked by two fighters and the other
when their Wellington was shot down on the way back from Berlin. They lost an engine 40 miles off Great Yarmouth and had to
escape in the dinghy before being rescued by a fishing trawler. The crew became members of the Goldfish Club.
The crew were posted to RAF Oakington in where they joined 7 Squadron, carrying out 46 operations in Stirlings.
Jack volunteered for the Pathfinder Force as a rear gunner.
After the war Jack returned to New Zealand.
Jack was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for a long and high standard of reliability and enthusiasm.

Source: photo left Friends of 115 Squadron - International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Kenneth Killeen

2:09:05 audio recording

Creator Chris Brockbank

Ken Kileen was called up and reported to ACRC in
London at the beginning of 1942.
He commenced flying as a navigator at 12 Air School, Queenstown in South Africa flying in Oxfords and Ansons. On his return to UK in 1943 he joined 83 OTU at Peplow flying in Wellingtons.
His first operation was dropping leaflets on a nickel operation over occupied France.

Their Wellington was damaged by anti-aircraft fire but the crew returned to base safely.
He joined 1651 HCU, and on one occasion attempting to land in a Stirling the aircraft crashed
after one of the tyres burst writing the aircraft off.
Ken joined 3 LFS at Feltwell and on one of his training flights came into close contact with a Me 410 night fighter.
He joined 115 Squadron at Witchford in April 1944 and took part in operations in support of the D Day landings.
On one operation they encountered three night fighters.
After the war Ken was posted to SHAFE communications squadron at Gatwick flying in Ansons on passenger and freight flghts.
His last flight was on 2nd August 1946 and he was demobbed shortly after, returning to his civilian job.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Harry Basil Grant

1:32:24 audio recording

Creator Ian Price

Harry Grant grew up in Kent but when his sister was widowed after her husband died at
Dunkirk he went to Nottingham to be company for her in her grief.
While there he took a job in the Post Office.
When he was of age he volunteered for the RAF and began training as a wireless operator.
On one operation he saw a body fall from an aeroplane when it was attacked.
The pilot signed them up to take on further operations after their tour was complete which
slightly troubled Reg because each one was a possible death sentence with or without the
rabbit's feet he took along for luck.
While on demob leave a colleague gave him the contact details for work which turned out
to be with GCHQ at Bletchley Park.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Charles Flint

0:48:17 audio recording

Creator Nigel Moore

Charles Flint was in the Auxiliary Fire Service in London before he joined the RAF.
He volunteered and began training as a wireless operator.
Part of his training took place at RAF Bishops Court in Ireland where he was advised
not to go out in uniform.
Charles and his crew joined 115 Squadron based at RAF Witchford.
They took part in Operations Manna, Exodus and Dodge before being posted overseas.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Thomas Eric Chad Cushing

1:15:01 audio recording

Creator Chris Brockbank

Tom Cushing lived alongside the site of what became RAF Little Snoring in Norfolk.
He watched the construction of the airfield over time and the daily life of the operational squadrons thereafter.
After the war he continued to be interested in the history airfield and he purchased the site.
He founded a museum on site and started researching the history of the airfield.
Over the years he met many former RAF staff who had been based there.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Interview with Cyril Henry Bridges

1:04:43 audio recording

Creator Chris Johnson

Cyril Henry Bridges was born in Ramsgate and served as a flight engineer in the RAF.
He tells of his father, a deep-sea fisherman, who fought in the First World War and later
helped evacuate troops from Dunkirk.
Remembers his early life, taking on different jobs, as a butcher's boy and working in a shop,
to help his mother.
After initially wanting to join the navy, he joined the RAF and trained at Penarth and Blackpool.
After further training, he was posted to 115 Squadron. Remembers flying an operation to Schweinfurt as a spare flight engineer.
Explains his role and duties as a flight engineer before take-off and landing and during operations and vividly describes the circumstances under which they were flying.
After the war, he worked for a company making rubber mouldings and electronic accessories.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre

Akrill WilliamInterview with Michael and Ann Akrill

34:06 audio recording

Creator Jeremy Lodge

Michael and Ann Akrill talk about their uncle, William Akrill.
He grew up in Lincolnshire, and studied art in London and under the tutelage of Robert Kiddey.
He considered becoming a contentious objector, but volunteered for the RAF and after training,
he served as a navigator with 115 Squadron.
He wrote many letter home which focused on the more light hearted episodes of training but the letters
to his friend in the Fleet Air Arm reflected his concerns.
He wrote about how upsetting it was as crews who did not return had their belongings swept away before a new crew took their place.
William celebrated his 21st birthday on 11th March 1943 and on the 12th March set off on his first operation. He did not return.
Their Roll of Honour page. Wellington Mk III - BJ756 KO-Q
His family stored all his artwork and letters and kept his memory alive with constant reminiscences of the time he had been with them.
They discuss the likenesses to real people in his cartoons and his training, his brief operational service and the impact his loss had on their family.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre - Photo via teunispats.nl

Maurice KempInterview with Maurice Kemp

20:25 audio recording

Creator Gary Rushbrooke

Source: International Bomber Command Centre.

William Arthur CoultonInterview with William Arthur Coulton

1:15:51 audio recording

Creator Chris Brockbank

William Coulton was born in Derbyshire and worked as an errand boy for the Co-Op until he joined the Royal Air Force in 1943, aged 18.
He trained as a flight mechanic and was posted to 115 Squadron at RAF Witchford where he worked on Lancasters.
He was later posted to Palestine with 32 Squadron where he worked on Spitfires.
He was demobbed in July 1945 and married his girlfriend Hilda Elsie who he had met serving in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute.
After the war he moved to North Luffenham and worked as a motor mechanic.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre.

Sidney BunceInterview with Sidney Bunce

2:01:44 audio recording

Creator Chris Brockbank

Sidney Bunce grew up in Buckinghamshire and worked in a butchers and a dairy.
He volunteered for the Royal Air Force aged 18 and trained as a flight mechanic engineer.
He served with 115 Squadron at RAF Witchford and at RAF Wratting Common with 195 Squadron.
He talks about his daily life as a mechanic until his demobilisation in 1947.
After the war he drove for United Dairies and the London Brick company.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre.

David FraserDavid FraserInterview with David Fraser

46:03 audio recording

Creator Annie Moody

David Fraser enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1939 and was trained as a mechanic.
He remustered as soon as he was able and flew four operations as an air gunner with 115 Squadron before his aircraft was shot down over Hamburg, in May (11/12) 1941.
Wellington Mk IC - R1379 - KO-B
He spent the next four years as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 3.

Source: International Bomber Command Centre - photo via Steve Fraser.