Just one story…

Arthur ‘Nat’ Gould, a fighter pilot in WWII, experienced a remarkable series of campaigns. He served in squadrons in the United Kingdom, in Russia, at the Battle of Milne Bay and finally in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. Nat’s stories of the dangers and triumphs of wartime flying are compelling.

Excerpt

I was about 14 or 15 and I used to go to Archerfield Aerodrome. I’d ride my bicycle out there and peer over the fence and watch them all… they had Gypsy Moths. I remember there was a wonderful aeroplane there… it was a rotary engine plane. The cylinders all went round, the whole engine went round, the propeller was fastened onto the cylinders, a most astonishing thing. Mum and Dad were immigrants. Dad worked for Queensland Railways. It was in the Depression years when I was growing up. There were five children. I had two elder sisters and two younger brothers. We weren’t poor, we weren’t desperate, but there was no way they could pay money for me to learn to fly… I used to go round the paddocks in Ashford where we lived, collecting cow manure, which I used to sell to the local gardeners, one and six a bag. Also I’d get up early and go and get mushrooms which we’d sell to the local pubs. I can’t remember how much we got for those. When I got 10 shillings or 15 shillings, on my bike out to the airport and got myself a half hour of flying. In fact it was such a success that by the time I was 17, I got a pilot’s license, just on cow manure and mushrooms.

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6 thoughts on “Just one story…

  1. We all had malaria and dysentery. I had both at one stage. Just unpleasant. Our living conditions were so squalid. We had six in a little bloody tent and a little bit of timber on the floor, but mostly it was mud. I had malaria…. the doctor would come in and tell you to stay in bed and the squadron commander would come and say, “Get airborne!” What else could you do? You didn’t have enough pilots. We didn’t have pilots. We had no reserve. We had no fat as they called it. We had nobody spare. No pilots coming through the pipeline at that time to replace you, so that was it. You flew until the whole squadron was relieved…. and you’d go out, have a little vomit on the tail wheel, get in the cockpit. I’m not exaggerating this, truly, and you’d get airborne… you take your oxygen mask off and have a vomit all over the place and put it back on again. You’d have diarrhoea and it’d be seeping down the back of your legs into your flying boots. You had another hour and a half to sit up there in all this. That was unpleasant.

  2. Arthur Gould 1431 17 Squadron RAF 134 Squadron RAF 75 Squadron RAAF 457 Squadron RAAF 899 Squadron RN 801 Squadron RN 780 Squadron RN 805 Squadron Fleet Air Arm RAN 816 Squadron Fleet Air Arm RAN Date Interviewed: 28 January, 2004 Tape 1 01:00:38:00 Q: Can you give us a brief summary of your life from when you were born to the present day? A: I was born in western Queensland, a place called Roma in 1920. My parents were English immigrants and Dad had a wonderful life. 01:01:00:00 He’d been a soldier in South Africa and in the Indian army. So I suppose I inherited a bit of a love for this. Because Dad was then an engineer in the Queensland railways, we moved around a bit and finally finished up in Brisbane. As a young boy, all I ever wanted to do was fly. So whatever I did was aimed at getting airborne. My education was very brief. I went to state school and then on to the Brisbane Grammar School and left 01:01:30:00 I suppose at 15 or 16, junior standards it was then. Had various jobs. None were very interesting. Only with the sole aim of getting enough money to go fly. I was lucky enough to get a few pounds together and I hopped on my bicycle and went out to Archerfield Aerodrome where I did a bit of flying. In my spare time I joined the Citizens’ Army Reserve and was in the artillery. When war 01:02:00:00 broke out I was in camp with the artillery. I was fortunate then, I certainly still wanted to fly. They started the Empire Air [Training] Scheme. I received a letter from the Royal Australian Air Force saying would I like to join the air force. The thought of being paid to fly instead of having to pay for it, thrilled me no end. I was pretty keen to go. So in April 1940 I joined the Royal Australian Air Force and went to UK 01:02:30:00 in December ’40, flew with some Royal Air Force squadrons. Came back when the Japs came into the war in late ’41. Went up to Milne Bay in 75 Squadron Kittyhawks [fighters]. Q: Tell us more about your service in the UK. A: In December ’40 I went to the UK. 01:03:00:00 I joined a famous squadron, number 17 Royal Air Force Squadron flying Hurricanes [fighters]. They’d had a pretty terrible time in the Battle of Britain, they’d lost a lot of aeroplanes. They also lost a lot of pilots. So I joined 17 Squadron. Then, through circumstances I joined another squadron called 134 and we went to Russia. Being a young man at 20 at the time, my knowledge of politics and particularly 01:03:30:00 international politics wasn’t very good. I thought we were at war with the Russians, but to my astonishment I found I was on their side. So I went with 134 Squadron, another 3 Australians and myself, and we flew off an aircraft carrier up near the North Pole. A place called Murmansk. We were there for about 6 months. We shot down a couple of aircraft and went back to UK for Christmas to discover I’d been posted missing in action 01:04:00:00 and pinched myself and found I wasn’t. Then we re-equipped in Hurricanes and Spitfires. They were great, I loved them very much, still do. The Japs came into the war in December ’41 and I came back in 1942. Joined 75 Squadron flying B40 Kittyhawks, went up to Milne Bay. I always get into places where we have a bad time. We lost a lot of fellows 01:04:30:00 in Milne Bay, but it was one of the turning points of the war. We shot down quite a few Jap aircraft and lost a lot of our blokes. Came out of Milne Bay and went instructing at a place called Madura at a fighting school. We taught learning pilots the art of fighter pilots and dog fights, air to air gunning sort of thing and dive bombing and all that sort of stuff. 01:05:00:00 Then I got a bit, not tired, but I found it quite frightening, so I wanted to get back to the war. I got myself into a Spitfire [fighter] squadron up in Darwin. 457. Was up there for close to 12 months flying Spitfires. Enjoyed that very much. Then it was getting towards the end of the war and they posted me back to Madura. I said “Not again. This damned instructing stuff.” About that time, very early 1945, 01:05:30:00 the Royal Navy came out with lots and lots of aircraft carriers. People have forgotten how big the Royal Navy were out here. For instance they had four big aircraft carriers, plus a lot of little ones. Each one of those had 80 odd aeroplanes on it. It was a pretty decent sort of thing. So to cut a long story short, 12 of us, sorry the Royal Navy had lots of aeroplanes, but could do with extra pilots. We had 01:06:00:00 fighter pilots in the RAAF coming out of Korea. We had lots coming out from all over the place. So there was a deal done with the two governments. So all the extra fighter pilots went to fly for the RN, Royal Navy. 12 of us went across and one day I was a flight lieutenant Royal Australian Air Force and the next morning I was a lieutenant for the Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve on loan to the Royal Navy. So I flew with the 01:06:30:00 Royal Navy until the end of the war and a little bit after. Then I was out of work, because war was over and the Australian Navy weren’t gonna have an aircraft carrier in those days. It was rather interesting how it happened. The admiral in charge of aircraft carriers, a wonderful fellow called Fines [?], he liked us very much. We were very experienced by this time. He said “What are you fellows gonna do? You’re out of work.” He gave us a little party just for the 01:07:00:00 Australians in the flagship. He said “What are you gonna do?” I was senior boy, so I got the boys together. We’d lost a few fellows along the way for one reason or another. I said “We’d like to join your navy on one condition.” He said “What’s your condition?” I said “That we fly” because we could see ourselves going back to UK, poor old, tired old Britain, after 5 years of war and they weren’t going to waste any money on us. 01:07:30:00 We were going to be stuck in an office somewhere. We didn’t want that. So if we joined the Royal Navy we wanted to fly. His words were, “I’ll fly the arse off you.” He was a wonderful bloke and he kept his word. So I now had gone from Royal Australian Navy VR [Volunteer Reserve] to lieutenant Royal Navy. I took a commission with them and went over there for about 3 1/2 years. By this time we’re in 1948 and the Australians bought HMAS Sydney, our first aircraft carrier and 01:08:00:00 wrote to me “Dear Lieutenant, Royal Navy, Gould, would you like to join the Royal Australian Navy?” By this time I wanted to come home, the pay was much better. I was very fond of England, but the climate gets you down after a while. So I said, “Yes.” So I came back and did the next 20 years Royal Australian Navy. Retired in 1965 as a commander. Retired exactly on the 4th May 1965. 01:08:30:00 On the Monday I joined Hawker DeHavilland marketing military aircraft. The reason for that was I had so many friends and colleagues in the services and I knew a little bit about war and defence and aircraft and so on. So I started marketing British aircraft and missilery and all that sort of stuff. I was with Hawker DeHavilland with some success from the company’s point of view. I sold 01:09:00:00 a few aircraft, helicopters and fixed wing aeroplanes. Then about 1977, takeovers back in UK, they formed a big company, still going, called British Aerospace. One of the biggest companies in the world. So they headhunted me. They asked me if I’d like to go to them. I went across and served with British Aerospace, doing a similar job. They 01:09:30:00 put me on the board of directors, which was very nice. I started looking after their aircraft. They had some wonderful aeroplanes. My favourite one was the [Harrier] Jump Jet. So I actually had just about sold it to the Royal Australian Navy, I shouldn’t say I sold it to them, they had just about bought it from us when the change of government here and they cancelled the aircraft carrier fixed wing. So I soldiered on with British Aerospace 01:10:00:00 and left them and retired completely. Then the bicentennial thing came up and I was asked if I would help put on the first big bicentennial air show at Richmond. The reason they chose me was that by this time I had a number of acquaintances all round the world in the aircraft aerospace business. People like Rolls Royce, Boeing, all those people. So I was able to 01:10:30:00 not command, but able to interest them in coming to our air show, which was a great success in 1988, bicentennial air show. After that they moved the air shows down to Melbourne and I wanted to play more golf. I was losing fire in my belly and all this stuff. So I quit. They made me an honorary something in the air show business. I’m not sure what it is now. 01:11:00:00 So then I settled back to playing golf. And that’s about the end of the story. Q: Tell me what your first memories were?. A: I’m not quite sure. I do remember going to school in Gladstone. I started school in 01:11:30:00 Gladstone, a primary school there. Then when we came to Brisbane I went to Ashburn school. Oh yes, I remember I played rugby league there. I was 12 or 13 years old. And cricket. I was on the school team. I can’t remember any real, oh yes, I can remember when I was 13. What put me flying was it was the days of [flying pioneers] Kingsford-Smith and Amy Johnson. 01:12:00:00 I was absolutely going to fly. I was 14 or 15 and I used to do everything. I read everything about World War 1, the famous aces in that war. Cotton and all the rest of them. That was where I wanted to go. So I suppose that’s my earliest time. Q: Do you remember the very first time you saw a plane? A: Yes, I do. I was about 14 or 15 and I used to go to Archerfield. 01:12:30:00 I’d ride my bicycle out there and peer over the fence and watch them all. I remember they had Gypsy Moths [trainers]. I remember there was a wonderful aeroplane there, I can’t remember the name of it now, but it was a rotary engine plane. The cylinders all went round, the whole engine went round, the propeller was fastened onto the cylinders, a most astonishing thing. Yes, I remember that quite clearly. Q: Can you walk us through your childhood? 01:13:00:00 A: Mum and Dad were immigrants. Dad worked for Queensland Railways. It was in the Depression years when I was growing up. There were 5 children. I had two elder sisters and two younger brothers. We weren’t poor, we weren’t desperate, but there was no way they could pay money for me to learn to fly. 01:13:30:00 One of the things I did to get a few dollars before I started work while I was still at school, I used to go round the paddocks in Ashford where we lived, collecting cow manure, which I used to sell to the local gardeners, one [shilling] and six [pence] a bag, I remember. Also I’d get up early and go and get mushrooms which we’d sell to the local pubs. I can’t remember how much we got for those. When I got 10 01:14:00:00 shillings or 15 shillings, on my bike out to the airport and got myself a half hour of flying. In fact it was such a success that by the time I was 17 I think I got a pilot’s license, just on cow manure and mushrooms. Mind you, it was only a little aeroplane called the [Piper] Tailor Cub. But then I sold it and I got a few more hours up and I think that’s one of the reasons the air force wrote to us, we had a license, they knew you could fly, they 01:14:30:00 knew you were medically OK and so you were accepted. Q: What do you remember about the Depression years being difficult or trying for you and your family? A: We had no real luxuries. We didn’t starve and Dad had a permanent job, he didn’t get out of work. Well, we didn’t have a car until late ’30s, 01:15:00:00 it was just before war broke out we had a car. We had bicycles. Dad had a motorcycle and I can’t remember anything specific about it. We were well fed, we were well clothed, but no luxuries. Go to the cinema on Saturday afternoons, but that was all. Q: Do you remember what you were watching? A: I remember seeing the very first talkie, as we called, Al Jolson and something[The Jazz Singer]. I can’t remember now. I remember seeing that. 01:15:30:00 We all thought it was very tricky. We didn’t believe it was. I can remember a lot of those. A lot of cowboy movies of course. Tom Mix and all those sort of fellows. Q: What were you like as a student at school? A: I was considered fairly bright. Good at maths. I had an incredible memory too. I could read poetry, I still can, and I can give you a verse 01:16:00:00 after verse of it. I guess I would in all modesty say I was above average in most subjects. I liked physics and chemistry at high school. I liked sport like any other young fellow of those days. I played a lot of cricket and rugby league. There’s a funny story about rugby league. When I started flying in the air force, I came out as a sergeant pilot. Most of us 01:16:30:00 did, 90% of us. After I came back from Russia we were commissioned. It was interesting to be interviewed to be commissioned to become an officer. I went up before a Royal Air Force old school air commodore. Real waffly old bloke. He asked be some questions about what I did and what sports I played. I played cricket. He said, “Good, good, good, good, good, boy.” He said, “Football?” I said, “Yes. I play rugby.” “Oh, wonderful. What sort of rugby?” I said, “Rugby league” and he said, “Oh!.” 01:17:00:00 Rugby league in England was a working man’s sport. Union was [private school sport]. So I pointed out to him, “Sorry you feel like that, but in Queensland they don’t play anything but that. All the schools play rugby league.” He said, “Oh, that’s different. OK.” So I got my commission. Q: Where were you placed in your family? A: In the middle. Two older sisters and two younger brothers. Q: Were you a close family? A: Yes and no. We enjoyed each other, but we 01:17:30:00 separated. When I say separated, I went off to the war at 19 and spent most my life overseas and in various places. But we kept in touch very vaguely. I can’t remember people’s birthdays or anything. So we weren’t really close, no. Q: What kind of man was your father? A: Dad was a wonderful old chap. An Englishman, born in London. 01:18:00:00 I don’t quite know how this happened, but he joined the army. He joined a famous regiment called the Prince of Wales Lancers. I’ve got a lovely photograph of him. Wonderful uniform. He went off to the Boer War when he was 16. No, he couldn’t have been 16. 17 or 18 when he went to the Boer War. He got in the lead and he got shot and he went back to the UK and back to London. Didn’t like it. So somehow he waggled himself and joined the Indian Army and he went off to India and was 01:18:30:00 up in the Khyber Pass. Didn’t ever talk much about it. I think he had a bad time up there. But what turned him onto Australia was that, he was in a mountain regiment up there and the horses the Indian Army were getting all came from NSW, and they were known as Walers. Dad used to break the horses in, he was obviously a very good horseman. They got to know a lot of Australians. So he decided that was for him. He finished his time in the Indian Army, he went back to England and still didn’t like it. 01:19:00:00 he joined P&O [Pacific and Orient shipping line] as a deckhand. He was quite a chap. He came out to Australia a few times and met Mum on the way out. Mum was emigrating out here with her parents. Q: She was British as well? A: Yes, she came from Essex. She was a lovely woman. She was soft spoken and absolutely, you’d never get her angry, even with 5 kids around. She was absolutely wonderful. Wonderful woman. 01:19:30:00 What happened then? Q: Your father was a deckhand and he met your mother? A: Yes, he met my mother. I’m not quite sure of the details of that, but I hate to say it, but he jumped ship. In those days you signed on in England, Southampton or wherever it was, and you had to go back, you weren’t allowed to. But he got to Brisbane and Mum disembarked with her family at Brisbane so he jumped ship. He asked for the afternoon off and went off and never ever went back. 01:20:00:00 Mum used to tell this story. He had 5 pounds in his pocket, cos he couldn’t get paid. They didn’t pay them properly till they got back. So he married Mum and decided they’d build a house. So while he was going to build a house, he bought a tent with 5 pound, went up to a place called Darra, which is outside Brisbane. Borrowed an axe off one of the neighbours and decided he was going to build a cabin. The first tree he chopped down went straight across the tent. Eventually things got better. 01:20:30:00 Q: At school you did odd jobs to be a pilot. Did you have to give some of the money to your mother? A: Most of it went to the family. I think my pocket money was something like 1 and 6 a week. We didn’t begrudge it of course. Every little helped. My sisters got jobs. 01:21:00:00 One of my sisters was a show lady. She joined the theatre in Brisbane and she was a singer and dancer sort of thing. She made a bit more money than we did. My other sister was a secretary for somebody. I can’t remember the details, it was so long ago. We all had to contribute. Q: What were your other brothers like? 01:21:30:00 A: One of them’s still alive. The other one’s not. Colin, nothing special about Colin. He was the next one below me. He wanted to join up, but he had a bad arm and he was medically unfit. I can’t remember what he did, lots of various things. He bought a pub at one stage. I know, cos I went there. 01:22:00:00 The youngest brother, Ernie, he was a bit more successful. He was a cadet, a manager for Woolworth’s. Rose up through the ranks and managed his own store somewhere. He died about 7 or 8 years ago. Q: Were you the favoured one? A: Good gracious no. I think my father tended to look after me more because I was in his footsteps. 01:22:30:00 I was of the warrior class. He liked the idea of me being in the services. But not especially, I don’t think any of us were favoured. Mum of course loved everybody. She was great. Q: How much did you need to do your initial training and how old you had to be? A: In those days, 01:23:00:00 I’m not exactly sure, but I think it was about 3 pound 10 [shillings] an hour. That’s 7 dollars. About that, in the aeroplane I was flying. But you could get something like about 15 shillings worth, 20 minutes or whatever it was. I think I used to save up till I had about a couple of pounds and then go out. It was a long way to ride my bicycle out there. It was a bit 01:23:30:00 intermittent too, which is not the ideal way to learn to fly. I became a flying instructor a few years later and taught everybody how to fly. I reckon I can teach a monkey how to fly. Only going out once a fortnight sometimes to do 20 minutes or half an hour is not ideal. I got my license. I can’t remember the exact date. It was 1937 I think. I was 17 when I got it. Q: How old were you when you first started your training? A: About 16. 01:24:00:00 Q: Was that the minimum age? A: I don’t really know. I don’t think there was a minimum age for you to do dual. I think there might have been, I’m not sure of this, a minimum age to fly on your own. But the license was very restricted. My license had I could fly myself, but not anybody for hire or for reward. So in other words you weren’t allowed to take passengers until you got to a certain standard, which I didn’t make. Q: What was your first flight like? 01:24:30:00 A: Everything I expected. The first flight dual was absolutely great. I had no idea where I was or what I was doing, but it was absolutely what I expected of it. I remember taking off on my first flight in the backseat of this Gypsy Moth. The pilot took off and he did a bank to the left and I looked down and there was a little cemetery there, which I thought rather interesting. I remember that quite vividly. All the people 01:25:00:00 had been killed flying aeroplanes. Apart from that I don’t remember much about it. Just the sheer joy, everything I expected. Q: How many times did you go out and have flying lessons before they gave you a licence? A: I could look at my funny little license, but I think I had about 15 hours up when I got my licence. Something like that. Give or take a few hours. Q: Was it unusual for a boy like you to be so 01:25:30:00 passionate about flying? A: No, I had one very good friend, neighbour, who did everything that I did. Bobby Adamson. I remember him quite well. No, he was as keen, as enthusiastic. I suppose we were, there weren’t a great number. Most of us, the other fellows were going to be doctors and lawyers and all that sort of stuff. Engine drivers. Q: Was it 01:26:00:00 difficult to get into Brisbane Grammar? You weren’t from a wealthy family. A: I don’t think I got a scholarship there. Did I? I may have got a scholarship; I think they had them in those days. I think I did, which partially funded me, but I know it didn’t fund it all. I only went there for two years or something, to junior standard. Q: Did your brothers go to Brisbane Grammar? 01:26:30:00 A: Colin didn’t, but the youngest one did. He went well passed me. I don’t know what school. I don’t think he went to Grammar, he must have. I don’t know. Q: The fact that you went to a good school like that, did it change your perspective on life mixing with boys that were ambitious like you were? A: No, I would say Brisbane was a pretty, what’s the word? There wasn’t much of a class distinction of wealth or breeding 01:27:00:00 or anything. I can’t remember anything. I just don’t remember anything special about it. I wasn’t uncomfortable at all. Q: What were your impressions of Brisbane growing up in the Depression years? A: Can’t thing of anything special about it. No, 01:27:30:00 I had nothing to compare it with in those days. I hadn’t been outside of Queensland I don’t think. I’d been north, but no, nothing special. Q: It was more village-like atmosphere? A: My age I don’t think I formed any impressions. When I left the place I was only 18 or 19. I’ve got no specific memories of it at all. It was sprawly, but we didn’t have a car, so 01:28:00:00 I used to ride my bike around, I knew every nook and cranny in it. Usually certainly out to the airfields, Eagle Farm and Archerfield, they all were my destinations. Q: What would you do after school and on the weekends? A: I was a very keen scout in those days too. I’d forgotten about that. We did a lot of camping. We were a very active scout group. We used to go to the Stradbroke Islands and camp out up 01:28:30:00 at Point Look and places, go up to Caloundra, which is now up at the Sunshine Coast up there. Then I joined the Citizens’ Military Force and we were horse drawn in those days. Even our guns, we had 18 pounders and they were pulled by horses. Six in the team. I was very lucky, being fairly bright, they made me signal man and I 01:29:00:00 finished up running. I think I was about 16 or 17, or 17 or 18, and I was what they call NCO [Non Commissioned Officer] in charge of the sigs [Signal Corps], so I became a bombardier. So I was head of the signal thing in that. That took up a lot of time. Weekends, not every weekend, but I think we had a weekend a month or something. One night a week I think. It’s interesting, I was in the army as a bombardier, I was an air force flight lieutenant, Royal Australian Navy as a 01:29:30:00 lieutenant RAN VR, a lieutenant RN, Royal Navy and a commander in the Australian Navy. In fact I got three commissions. Q: Very expansive. A: Very interesting. I enjoyed it. Q: Was it about that time in the civilian military force that you started to get a feel for a military life? Did you get a passion for it? A: Yes. Being a son of my father I must have inherited something. Yes, I enjoyed it. I liked it, 01:30:00:00 I still do. I like discipline; I like people looking after each other. Certainly when you’re flying in the air force, your mates looked after you. If they got shot down you worried about it and you knew that the fellow in number 2 was going to guard you and so on. So I like all the things that go with military. I often roar people these days and say, “That’s what’s 01:30:30:00 wrong with a lot of our youth.” I don’t really. Yeah, discipline. I’m also old-fashioned like a lot of my generation. We believe in God and King and Country and still do. I know it’s old-fashioned now, but we still do. Q: Being respectful to God, King and Country, that was being developed while you were a child? A: I think 01:31:00:00 you have to go back to the ’20s and ’30s, my growing up time. I would say the whole country by and large was like that. We were “British to the bootstraps” as [Prime Minister Robert] Menzies would say. We had no, all our immigrants were British and so we just considered ourselves very British. There was never any hesitation about it. I can’t recall anybody who, 01:31:30:00 we weren’t overly “God Save the King” and all that sort of business, but deep down we were all King and Country, yes. Q: Did you have a sense growing up there was a war brewing in Europe? A: Yes, but not deeply aware of it all. I remember in those days the threat was considered Japan and I’m talking again about 01:32:00:00 early ’30s and so on. Not exactly ‘the yellow peril’, but we thought that. I was never deeply conscious of it all. I didn’t really see a threat. It’s hard to say how I felt in those days. One of my later jobs in the navy was as coordinator of intelligence staff. 01:32:30:00 So I became very intelligence oriented. But in those days I don’t really remember. Q: Did you listen to the wireless [radio]? A: Yes, but again I wasn’t politically aware at all. Q: What would you be listening to? A: In those days? Goodness me. I suppose you’d listen to the news, certainly sport. I was very keen on sport. I’d listen to sport. 01:33:00:00 I wasn’t a great fan of the radio at all that I can remember. Q: What values do you think your father instilled in you as a child? A: Dad came from a pretty poor family as I understand. He didn’t talk much about his pre Australian days. Not very much at all. In fact, when I went to UK the 01:33:30:00 first time I dug up some of his brothers. One was a sergeant for the metropolitan police, I remember. They didn’t talk much about Dad, because he’d been away since he was 16 years old. I don’t know. I think he didn’t instil anything specific. He was a decent sort of chap who looked after the family and he wasn’t religious. Neither 01:34:00:00 was Mum. So I think I had to go to Sunday school and I’d think I was in prison. Q: What denomination? A: Church of England in those days. I grew out of all that. I’m not particularly religious at all. I think the war took most of it out of most of us. We just didn’t believe in it anymore, not seriously. Some did, but most of us didn’t. Q: After the Civilian Military Force, where did you go to next? 01:34:30:00 A: I suppose I was in the CMF as they call it from whatever age I was allowed in, 17 to 19, until the war broke out in December 39. Now I must admit I was one of the few people who was absolutely overjoyed, because I knew I was going to get some adventure and I could see myself joining up. I didn’t think I’d get into the air force straight away, but I said 01:35:00:00 “Hey, this is where I’m gonna get some fun.” I was living in Brisbane and there was very little chance of travelling. I was certainly aware of the geography around the world, but not so much politics. History I knew a bit about. This was going to be that opportunity and I had to be very careful. Everybody else was terrified at the fact we were at war and thought we were going to get killed. I was quite happy. 01:35:30:00 Q: Who around you was terrified? Your mother? Your friends? A: Mother of course knew that I was going to go and probably that my brothers would go. Like all mothers she was, I wouldn’t say terrified, but she was concerned about it all. I suppose reading the media in those days, I can’t remember anything special, but it was pretty frightening. Hitler was marching across Europe and knocking over Czechoslovakia and Poland and Holland on the way and was at the door of Paris. It was quite 01:36:00:00 terrifying. It really was. But not to me. My hope was they wouldn’t finish the war until I got there. Q: Were your friends quietly happy like you? A: Yes. I had a lot of friends, but I had probably two or three very close ones who I’d been at school with and who’d been in the scouts and in the military with me. In fact, I was a bit of a boss. If I joined the scouts they joined, if I joined the CMF they joined. 01:36:30:00 One of those things. In fact they all joined up. The artillery crowd I was in, they went away as a battery. One of my friends were in it and they got caught in Singapore. So I don’t know what happened to most of them, but he was killed as POWs [Prisoners of War]. One or two of them joined the air force and I can remember two specifically, they were both shot down and killed. I can hardly remember their names now. You’re talking early 1940, ’41, that sort of thing. 01:37:00:00 They were like me. Q: Did you listen to Menzies’ speech? A: Yes, that’s right. I can almost remember the words. “It’s my melancholy duty.” I think was the words. “To inform you that we are at war.” Yes. I do. I was out on the veranda at our place at Ashgrove and I was chuckling to myself. I really had quite a laugh. I had to pull a long face when I talked to Mum about it, but I was happy. Q: What kind of young adult 01:37:30:00 would you describe yourself as at that stage? A: What was I? 18-19 I suppose when the war broke out. What sort of young adult? I was very clean living. I didn’t smoke and I didn’t drink. Very athletic because wanting to fly you had to be healthy and I really was a health fanatic. Q: How would you keep healthy? 01:38:00:00 A: I rode a bicycle everywhere and that’s one of the best things. Having done scouting, we used to go for enormous hikes. I can’t remember how many miles we used to walk. I remember we walked from Amity Point Lookout, which was about 10 miles, spent the weekend there and so on. I didn’t go to gymnasiums. I don’t think we had them in those days. I didn’t get up in the morning and do press-ups or anything. It was just riding a bike, hiking, just that. And clean living 01:38:30:00 and good fun and good food. Mum sure knew how to make reasonable food. Q: Did you have many girlfriends as a teenager? A: I think I was a normal sort of fellow. I can only remember one girl when I was about 17 or 18. Winifred was her name. I wasn’t madly in love with her. Unless it was an aeroplane, which I really loved. I think I was normal and healthy. I think we had a 01:39:00:00 kiss and cuddle somewhere, but really it was a bit. I must be honest, I wasn’t really attractive to girls. I wasn’t a handsome bloke at all. So I think I had the leftovers from other chaps. Q: Did you go to many dances? A: Yes, we used to have a Saturday night hop [dance] at Ashgrove. I had two elder sisters and they were mad keen. One of them was a professional 01:39:30:00 dancer. No, ballroom dancer, she did high kick and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, when I was a fairly small boy I had to partner them around the veranda at home when they were doing shooftees and waltzes and foxtrots and jazz waltzes and pride of erins and all those lovely old dances. Evidently I was quite reasonable at them. Q: What’s a hop? A: It’s the name of the dance. Saturday night hop. Don’t know why we called it hop. 01:40:00:00 Q: Tell us the different planes you trained on before you got your licence? A: In the civil life before I joined the air force? I only flew one really, and that was a little aeroplane called the Tailor Cub. A little high wing monoplane thing. Gosh, it was, you wouldn’t want to go very far in it. It only had speed of about 100 knots, but it was a good little aeroplane to learn in. It was fairly feistless. It didn’t have any nasty 01:40:30:00 habits like some of the ones I flew later on. It was good fun to fly. I enjoyed it. Q: How old were you when you got your pilot’s licence? A: 18. I was nearly 19, but I was 18. Q: What was that like? A: I think I had to wait till I was 18. It’s coming back to me now. 01:41:00:00 I think you had to be 18 to get a license. Even though I’d flown solo and had done most the tests, I think it was not long after, a fair while after my 18 birthday. I know I finished it off. Q: Did you have a celebration? A: I was very proud of myself. I wanted to tell everybody, but I can’t remember anybody being particularly interested except me. I think the family were of course. They thought it was great. I know Dad was tickled pink. I don’t think mother was very happy. 01:41:30:00 Flying machines a bit dicey in those days. Q: Did you continue going up and flying as much? A: I would have if war hadn’t broken out and I got paid to fly. Yes, I would. My ambition really was to get, after that little licence sort of far more commercial licence of sorts. But my real ambition was to join the air force. I wanted to be a military pilot. If that couldn’t happen, because in those days they had a very small intake 01:42:00:00 of chaps a year, I would have hoped to go commercial flying somewhere. Arthur Gould 1431 Tape 2 02:00:32:00 Q: What awareness of the First World War did you get as you were growing up? From school, family, friends? A: A lot of Dad’s friends were World War 1 returnees, veterans. My greatest interest, once I knew all about the Western 02:01:00:00 Front and that sort of stuff, was the antics of the air boys. I could tell you all the famous aces in those days. The aces included on the other side, the great Red Baron and what have you. I’ve read every book that you could get on it. I remember in those days too, the British produced a couple of magazines. One was called Triumph and one was called Champion. They used to have a lot of wartime stories in them, particularly 02:01:30:00 flying. There were some magazines specifically devoted to flying. Flying Aces I remember quite well. Used to read that avidly. They had some movies too in those days called Hell’s Angels and all these angels and things, which I used to go and see time and time again and pretend I was flying, dog-fighting and so on. 02:02:00:00 Q: Your passion to fly was fuelled by World War 1 pilots as well as people like [pioneers Charles] Kingsford-Smith and [Bert] Hinkler? A: Yes, absolutely. Even before, when I saved up a few shillings and went down and learned to fly, there was a bit of a glider outfit at Eagle Farm aerodrome, that was very basic. They had this thing. It was like a big 02:02:30:00 catapult. They had a great funnel and it launched it into the air and you sat out in a little seat in the open with a stick and rudder and you only got up to about 10 feet. It wasn’t very, but it gave you a sense you were flying roughly. I didn’t do much of that. I think it folded up after a while. Q: Were the magazines expensive? A: Yes, they were. I can’t remember how much they were, but they were, I suppose 02:03:00:00 they’d be equivalent of 7 or 8 dollars now. That’s the best way I can assess it. I know it’d take a fair bit of pocket money to buy one. We’d hand them around. My friend across the road would buy Triumph and I’d buy Champion and we’d swap. Q: Did you get much from your Dad about his war experience? 02:03:30:00 A: No, Dad didn’t tell us much about it. We had to almost drag him out of it. I wouldn’t say he was anti-war, but being out in Australia I thought he felt it was a much safer place compared to Europe. He didn’t say those things, he hinted at some of them. He did tell us, I remember he told me once after I joined up and I had him along to the mess and gave me a few beers. Dad was not exactly a 02:04:00:00 teetotaller, but he didn’t drink very much. He expanded a bit on some of his Indian stuff and that’s where I learned about Walers as I was saying earlier on, and horse breaking. He was up in the Khyber Pass area and he used to talk about Rawalpindi and all those names that now they talk about the Afghanistan thing. He was up in that area in those days. That would have been in the early 1900s. In the ’14- 02:04:30:00 18 war. Q: So he was supportive of your dream to be a pilot? A: Yes. And he was very proud when I came home as a pilot officer. Dad, having been in the British army, which was then in those day and still is I suppose, was class related. You couldn’t be an officer unless you had a family and private income. So Dad never rose above corporal. 02:05:00:00 Whilst he was very, he never done great at the British Army at all, but he was quite surprised. When I rose to a fairly senior rank he said, “What’s that equivalent to?” I said, “In your army it would be lieutenant colonel.” He was absolutely shattered to think his son could have got to that sort of level. He didn’t talk much about it, but now and then things dropped out. 02:05:30:00 Q: What you heard about World War 1 and going to war was quite a romantic notion? A: Yes. It’s interesting. It’s coming back to me when we are talking. I said all I wanted to do was flying, particularly military flying, so the war was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. One of the other things I wanted to do was go to sea. It was never very strong, but I said, “If I can’t make this flying business I wouldn’t mind 02:06:00:00 going to sea and becoming a deck officer somewhere.” When I joined the fleet air arm I got everything because one of the first things they did when they came back into the Royal Australian Navy, even though I was the most senior aviator they had by this time, when they started I didn’t get near an aeroplane for the first 6 months. They made me go to sea and do watch keeping and all those things. So I really achieved both things in the end. Q: In the time leading up to you getting 02:06:30:00 your flying licence, what was your ultimate flying dream? A: I can remember going out to Archerfield when the RAAF had some Hawker Demons, which were the frontline aeroplane there and watching these fellows perform. That’s 02:07:00:00 what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a fighter pilot in the RAAF. In those days they didn’t have monoplanes. I think they had [Bristol] Bulldogs and Hawker Demons. Hawker Demon is a beautiful looking aeroplane. That’s what I wanted to do. Q: Were you one to thrive on learning about particular models of planes and the principles behind 02:07:30:00 how they worked? A: Yes I did. Remember I built models of just about everything. I had a wonderful collection of models and I built it from scratch. I used to buy balsa [light balsa wood for model making] things, I didn’t buy the knock together kits and carved them all out myself. As for logistics of aeroplanes, yes, I had reasonable, when I look back on it, it was very basic knowledge, but I understood a little bit about it. I didn’t know much about 02:08:00:00 navigation in those days. But I could describe the aeroplanes of that vintage. I remember a lot of American aeroplanes, Wart [?] and Corsair and the Brits had all the famous ones. The Spitfire didn’t come along in my growing up days. They had Gloucester Gladiators and things like that. I was pretty knowledgeable on them. Q: Did you have a softer 02:08:30:00 spot for the British planes? A: Of course. We were British to the bootstraps in those days and it’s hard to imagine now that the Americans weren’t quite so visible in Australia as the British were. Mum and Dad were English and all her friends in those days were English or British. A lot 02:09:00:00 of Scots around. I suppose our media in those days was mainly full of British stuff. We were a post of Empire and most my reading would have been oriented towards Britain. Strangely enough I didn’t know much about the rest of Europe. I was never, even though Germany had been an enemy in the ’14-18 way, I 02:09:30:00 never ever worried about it. As a matter of fact I couldn’t tell you where most of the countries were. Whilst I could draw a map of Southeast Asia fairly well, I couldn’t tell you where Poland and Czechoslovakia and Hungary and all those countries were. I didn’t know much about them. I was never interested. Q: When war was close, did you 02:10:00:00 have a genuine compulsion to get out there and protect the Empire? A: Can I say quite clearly and categorically, in those days the cause was just. We had none of these hesitations that people have now you’ve got to read about the Iraqi war and so on, the nation’s fairly divided on that. There was no, all of us were quite convinced that this was a battle for our future. I don’t suppose we could have put it into words like 02:10:30:00 I am now, but we were right. [Germany’s Adolf] Hitler was a threat and our way of life was under threat. Particularly when the Japanese came in. There was absolutely no doubt. I killed scores of them once, when they landed at Milne Bay. Should I tell you a bit about the story now? A bit out of context. Q: We may as well wait. A: OK, remind me about it. 02:11:00:00 Q: You were enjoying the discipline and lifestyle the CMF introduced you to. Were there any other aspects of the training that you enjoyed? A: Yes, We were still using Morse code as a communication. We did have phones that we hooked onto when we laid the wire. 02:11:30:00 I was NCO of 6, in charge of 6. It was great fun and I learned a lot. Morse code was the only means of communication in those days. You started off with flags. Then you had a buzzer type thing that you sent off along the thing. I’ve forgotten the Morse code now, but I was very quick at it at one stage. 02:12:00:00 We were horse drawn. That was interesting too because as an NCO of 6 I had my own horse. So I didn’t have to gallop into action with all the others. I had what they called a horse holder. When you got to the thing you threw your reins off, only your old corporal sort of thing, threw the reins to this horse holder and he looked after your horse while you got on with your work. Sorry, I’ve lost the question now. What was it? Q: The various other aspects of the CMF 02:12:30:00 training that you enjoyed. A: The camaraderie was great. When you’re in camp you had 4 people to a tent and you became very close together after a few weeks together of this sort of stuff. Very little else I can think of right now. Q: You would have an annual camp? A: Yes, I think it was annual camp. I 02:13:00:00 think it was for a couple of weeks in those days. As war, or maybe after war was declared, we went into almost semi permanent. I can’t remember how long we did, but I was at Caloundra just before war broke out, because I was at home. I get a bit, memories are not quite clear there. Q: Take us through the process of the transformation between you 02:13:30:00 being with the CMF and the offer coming along to fly the air force. A: I remember I reported out to Archerfield, which is a grass airfield. What was very strange, we were Number 1 Course. The Empire Air Scheme, as the name suggests, was all the British Empire doing a similar thing. Training aircrew in an enormous hurry. 02:14:00:00 My crowd was Number 1 Course, which people find hard to believe that I’m still alive from Number 1 Course. We were into Archerfield where they had Tiger Moths[biplane trainers]. Most the instructors were civvies [civilians]. The Queensland Aero Club. This was the start of everything and it wasn’t quite organised. Q: You were the very first group to go through the scheme? A: Yes, in Queensland, but there were similar things 02:14:30:00 going on in Sydney and Melbourne to my knowledge. You could say there was three or four number 1 courses. Q: This was how far after war was declared? A: I actually went in flying, I think the interviews and all this sort of stuff earlier on, in April 1940. So that’s 5 or 6 months after war was declared. 02:15:00:00 Q: You got a letter with information they were interested in taking you on, what was the process of enlisting from there? A: I had to be discharged from the army and enlisted in the RAAF. So I got the papers somewhere and Q: Was there reluctance from the army to let you go? A: Not at all. 02:15:30:00 I was only a corporal, a bombardier officially. They were gearing up for full mobilisation, so it was not chaotic, but it was flux in those days. To go into more on the changeover, what was astonishing, when I talked about how people weren’t quite sure what was going on, we 02:16:00:00 reported out to Archerfield and the last of the cadets, there were cadets going through who were going to be cadet officers and they were going to be commissioned. They had all aircrew pre-war, 99% of them, were officers. We went in, they didn’t know what we were. We had no rank, we had no uniform. We were given long blue overalls and a beret. They called us Mister and we ate in the cadets’ mess. The 02:16:30:00 troops used to salute us, but we had no rank at all. We didn’t know what we were. It was a pretty tough life. We didn’t have beds or anything. We had palliasses on the floor. We had to get up at 5 o’clock and go and have cold showers and the cadets were making sure we had them. Then we’d go flying and do ground school. The flying was great. I took to 02:17:00:00 it, I loved it. We did it in Tiger Moths. I had a civil aero class instructor. He wasn’t very good frankly, as I learned many years later when I was instructing myself. God knows how I ever learned to fly with that bloke. However, I passed and I came out round about mid-1940. Q: A typical day you did the flying first thing after breakfast? A: Yes, what happened, 02:17:30:00 you were split up into two. Half the course would do flying before lunch and lectures in the afternoon and the others would reverse it. So you did half a day in an aircraft. You might do two trips, that’s all, by the time you were briefed and debriefed. Q: How many hours would that translate to in the air? A: Anything from 40 minutes to an hour each flight. Something like that. We had a strict thing that we were taught straight and level 02:18:00:00 and you were taught turns and climbing turns and descending turns. Then you went on a bit to steep turns and aerobatics, which most of the civil instructors weren’t very good at. They didn’t like being upside down. I used to love it. It was the only way to go. I really took to aerobatics. Loops and rolls and spins and all that. So I can’t remember how many hours, but when you finished you didn’t get your wings. It was called elementary 02:18:30:00 flying training. So you finished there after, I suppose we would have had 50 or 60 hours up by the time we finished there. Q: Do you recall details about the lessons you received? A: With the ground school? One of them was Morse code; I had no problem with that. We were taught basic navigation, very basic, the triangular velocities and that sort of stuff. Q: How were 02:19:00:00 you with the navigation side of things? A: I had no trouble at all. Map reading, which in those days was essential, because we had no navigational aids at all, so it was really straight navigation, dead reckoning, or map reading. We talked a bit on the principles of flight. Again, looking back on it, it was very basic. We were taught 02:19:30:00 a bit on mechanics on engines, which was quite good. A bit on armament, in those days when we went to Wirraways [Australian built trainers] we had Vickers 303 machineguns that fired through the propeller, so you had to learn a bit about how to do that without shooting the propeller off. That would be it. I can’t think of anything else in the ground school. Q: How did you find the Tiger Moths as a plane? A: They were lovely. 02:20:00:00 Lovely. I enjoyed them very much. A great little aeroplane. Going ahead a bit, I finished instructing on one while I was in England. I finished up with 1,200 hours on them. So I really could finish up making the darn things talk. Q: Tell us why they were a pleasure to fly and a bit of technical information about the plane. A: Recalling that I 02:20:30:00 got my licence on this little Tailor Cub thing, which was a high wing monoplane, very slow, Tiger Moths were a great advancement on that. It was very aerobatic, which the Tailor Cub was not. You could loop and cut it upside down. Not for very long because the petrol would drop out. You’d lose your fuel and the engine would cease if you stayed too long because the oil wasn’t worked out to keep 02:21:00:00 lubricated while you were upside down. Not that we spent much time upside down. I think looping and I really took to aerobatics in a great way. It was great fun. Q: Did you have close calls in the earlier stages of training? A: We’re still in Tiger Moths aren’t we? No. I remember one instructor was terrified of aerobatics. 02:21:30:00 Aero club instructor. So being brash and knowing all about it I think I had about 20 hours off or something. I started to teach him aerobatics. We had nothing terrifying. I think I spun off a loop. We spun down. Nothing really worrying. Q: Were there accidents amongst the group you were with at that stage? A: I don’t think so. I can’t recall any accident, any forced landings. There may have been one 02:22:00:00 or two, but I can’t recall. Q: How big was your group? A: I would think we started off with about 25-30, that sort of number. A few of whom were scrubbed on the way, didn’t make in for one reason or another. Had no aptitude for flight. That’s why I think the air force chose a lot of us who already had licenses, because they knew that we could fly. Some they took straight off the street 02:22:30:00 who were mad keen, but just couldn’t coordinate or whatever was required to fly an aircraft. One or two of them decided they didn’t like it, which was understandable, and decided to go off and join the army. Most of us, I’d say 80% of us got through the elementary stage. Q: How long did it take them to work out how to dress 02:23:00:00 you and give you a rank? A: We were Misters and no uniform. When we finished at Archerfield elementary flying, we all went to Wagga Wagga, which was then the service flying training. There you converted to the Wirraway or the Ansons [twin engined Avro Ansons]. You were then split up to whether you were going to be fighter pilots or bomber pilots. Basic split. Q: Did you have input into that decision? 02:23:30:00 A: We were asked what we wanted to be, but the decision was made by your instructors. Some would say, “I don’t want to be a fighter pilot, I want to fly bombers.” The instructors looked at your aptitude. The fact that I loved aerobatics I was obviously a fighter pilot. A bloke who didn’t like aerobatics, hated being upside down, put him in a bomber sort of thing. That’s over-simplifying, but that was the sort of thing you went through to decide. 02:24:00:00 When we went to Wagga they realised we can’t be Misters anymore. So they made us LACs, Leading Aircraftmen, which is one of the lowest ranks in the air force. We did our conversion there, Wirraways or Ansons, as LACs. Q: Were you immediately told you would be in the Wirraway? A: Yes. 02:24:30:00 We knew, at least I knew anyway. We went straight onto Wirraways and the others went onto Avro Ansons. Then, remembering how brash and overconfident I was, the air force hadn’t had Wirraways all that length of time. The instructors didn’t know much about them either. I had an instructor, who shall remain nameless, who, 02:25:00:00 he’d sit in the backseat and I’d sit in the front seat. So we’d go and fly. It was a piece of cake I reckoned. Mind you it’s an enormous jump from the Tiger Moth to Wirraway, because you had, amongst other things, 2 or 3 times the speed, you had all sorts of other things, you had variable pitch propellers, you had retractable undercarriage, you had flaps which you could put up and down and all sorts of other things in it. Half your time was 02:25:30:00 worrying about the cockpit checks and pills and so on. But I remember my instructor was very nervous and they used to do the takeoff. I used to teach him how to do some of the flying in the Wirraway. It was only overconfidence. I was overconfident. I think one of the reasons I left was that I wasn’t at all concerned about it. So we did a Wirraway 02:26:00:00 conversion and the other boys did their Anson conversion. We did night flying for the first time, which was terrifying. We did basic strafing and dive bombing. It was very basic. Then we got our wings. You were qualified. They put your wings on your left breast. I’ve got my original ones up there. 02:26:30:00 Q: How long were you at Wagga before you got those wings? A: Round about Octobe,r November sort of thing. We left here in December to go to the UK, so it was October, November. Q: All up, how many months’ training was that? A: April, 7 months. Q: Explain the 02:27:00:00 challenge of night flying. A: Particularly in those days, we did this at Wagga where it was very black. Black night. The problems are you lose most of your references. It’s hard to explain, when you fly normally, under what you call visual flight rules, VFR, you orient everything by the horizon, the ground and the sky, 02:27:30:00 you know where they are. You know if you’re that way or that way. At night, and this was a very clear horizon, can be very deceptive, sounds silly, but you can get the stars and the ground lights mixed up. Not quite, but if you’re not careful. You have very good instruments in the air force and what you’ve got to learn to do, as I learned many years after as an instrument flying instructor, God didn’t make a very good job of us as far as 02:28:00:00 our reactions are and our orientation. For example, normally you know where you are relative to everything else, by sight. You’ve got verticals and horizontals and things to refer to. You’ve also got muscles that tell you when you move and so on. You’ve also got these clever things which are called the semicircular canals, which we won’t worry about. So when you get up in an aircraft, all sorts of movements, those things, 02:28:30:00 particularly your visual, you could lose them. So you have to trust your instruments. Sometimes it’s very difficult to do. Your body’s telling you to turn to the left and your instrument is saying “Shut up, you’re straight an level.” You’ve got to do that. So that takes an enormous amount of discipline. You have to overcome all your normal reactions and believe it. The other most worrying thing is coming in to land, particularly in an aeroplane like the Wirraway with a long nose and propeller 02:29:00:00 in front of you, you had a flare path. Ordinary kerosene flares each side of the runway. When you’re doing final approach, remember to put your wheels down. One of our fellows got killed doing the wrong thing. He meant to put his wheels down and put his flaps down and finished straight into the ground. That was one of my first solos when I saw that. What you do as you’re coming in to land and see the flare path and 02:29:30:00 it changes orientation. One moment it looks flat and next it’s like that. So you have to find, and it takes a little bit of getting used to. Q: Were there many accidents during your time in Wagga? A: Yeah quite a few. One of the famous ones, and I’ve got a photograph of it, 02:30:00:00 is two Ansons collided in midair. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this story, have you? Quite incredible. This bloke, they were on cross country training. The Anson was a twin engine aeroplane, originally a bomber but it was a twin engine aeroplane. It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and their paths crossed and one flew into the other and they got jammed in midair together. The bottom bailed out. The fellow in the top, 02:30:30:00 I’ll think of his name in a moment, he landed them both stuck together. Rather rude actually. He landed this thing. I’ve got a photograph of it. Rather tragic end to that. He passed and went over to England and became a bomber pilot and got shot down and killed, no, no, no, he did his tour over there. He did a full tour in bombers, came back to Australia and was riding a bicycle and got hit by a car 02:31:00:00 and was killed. I’m digressing. What else did you ask me? Q: The extent of accidents during Wagga. A: I can’t remember really. There were one or two others, chaps forgetting to put their wheels down, which was common practice in those days. I can’t remember anybody else being hurt except this bloke who was killed. I can’t remember any others. Q: Was that disturbing to have one of the blokes you had been training with 02:31:30:00 pass away? A: No. I get asked questions about, later on in frontline squadrons where a lot of people were killed. You develop a strange attitude. It sounds a bit stupid I suppose now, in the cold light of day, but it’s not you, it’s him. You’re all right. You become a little bit 02:32:00:00 cold blooded about it all. Somebody’s got to write to his wife or his parents and tell them, but it’s not you. You don’t have to do it. I wonder if he’s got any clean shirts, I’m running out. That sort of thing. And you do. A funny story after we were in England, one of the chaps got shot down flying Hurricanes over the Channel. In those days of clothes rationing and no laundries, we all used to run out of clothes, so we hopped into, we didn’t take any of his money or photographs or anything, 02:32:30:00 all his underclothes and socks were all pinched. Keep us going. Bloke turned up about 3 days later and he demanded all his clothes back. Q: You got your wings in Wagga. Where did you go from there? A: We got a couple of weeks’ leave. Things were, we’re now 02:33:00:00 talking the end of 1940 and things were going very badly in the UK. Battle of Britain was well and truly on. I remember hearing about it all the time. So there was a bit of a desperate hurry to get people over there. I think we had 10 days’ leave from memory. I came back up to Brisbane. Then we sailed from Sydney on the 10th December 1940 on a ship called the Large Bay, which was a fairly small ship 02:33:30:00 full of cargo and particularly meat and stuff for the UK. We sailed and we took a long way because she had to refuel everywhere. I remember going across the Indian Ocean. There were German raiders, so we were told, and the odd submarine around. So we went via South Africa, down the west coast into Freetown and halfway to Bermuda . 02:34:00:00 We came right round up the north and into Scotland over the top of Ireland, round over the back in that into Glasgow. We took about six or seven weeks to get there. Q: Did you stop anywhere on the way? A: Yes, everywhere. Durban, I don’t think we went to Cape Town, Durban, Sierra Leone on the west coast, Freetown, 02:34:30:00 and then that was the last place. Q: Did you get a chance to look around when you did stop? A: We didn’t go ashore. Oh, we went ashore in Durban, but not in Freetown. It was full of malaria. It’s on the Ivory Coast. Durban was interesting because they didn’t know whose side they were on when we were there. A lot of German descendants there. It was early days of the war and the Germans were winning. 02:35:00:00 It was rather a mixed reception we got there, but we only had a couple of days while they refuelled. Q: How big was your group at that stage on the ship? A: I suppose there’d be about 20 of us. Something like that. Q: What were the living quarters like on ship? A: Not very good. We also, this is rather interesting, not only was our course with our wings, but there were a lot of blokes who embarked with the ship, 02:35:30:00 20 or 30, to go and do their flying training in Rhodesia in those days. So they came with us as far as Durban and went off. In fact one of the very famous blokes, number two ace, was in that crowd. John Waddy who became a very good friend of mine later on. He learned to fly in Rhodesia. The rest of us, we went on to Glasgow. 02:36:00:00 Do you want to go on from there? Q: The journey was an opportunity to bond a bit more with your?..? A: I don’t think we knew that word in those days, but I know what you mean. I think by that time we were all pretty friendly and you tend to sort yourselves out to special chums and not so special chums. I had a couple of very close chaps. I think we just hit it off. We had the same likes and dislikes and 02:36:30:00 what have you. We had to work fairly hard. We had to keep the watch. So we used to get up in the bows of the thing on submarine watch, looking for the periscopes and that sorts of things. We had a couple of frights. One fright I remember, we got stopped in the middle of the night, we didn’t know about it till the next day, but we hear the engine stop and go full astern. We were intercepted by a destroyer. Fortunately it was a British destroyer checking who we were. 02:37:00:00 I can’t remember anything special except just before we got to Glasgow, we came around the north, we started to see debris everywhere, all the Atlantic convoys being knocked off and sunk in the sea. Lifeboats and bits of debris and so on. You realised you were at war. Q: What was the farewell like between you and your parents? A: Well, we said farewell at Brisbane, 02:37:30:00 because we caught the train down here to Sydney. I had and still have a horror of farewells. So we said farewell at home. That’s all. I don’t know how I got to the station. Probably a bus of some sort. We just said farewell at home. I can’t remember. Mum probably had a little cry. I don’t know. I can’t think back that far. I was in a hurry to go. Q: What mood were you in? A: Great. Let’s get on with it. 02:38:00:00 They might finish the war before I get there. Q: What happened once you arrived in Glasgow? A: Well, it was the first time we met blackouts and bloody awful weather I remember. It was January, late December or something like that. Grisly, typical Scottish weather. We caught the train down to London, 02:38:30:00 went to a place called Uxbridge where they had a big holding camp sort of a place. I remember we were there and I saw my first Spitfires take off. Oh, boy. That was absolutely wonderful. Saw them going off on an intercept, because the battle was still on. I don’t know how long we were there. Not very long. We got sent to a place called Sutton Bridge, which was what they call and 02:39:00:00 operational training unit where you went to learn to fly your aeroplane, which in my case was a Hurricane. Q: You knew a fair bit about Spitfires and Hurricanes prior to getting there? A: Only from reading about it. Because the Battle of Britain was on while we were on our way and just before we left and so on. Oh yes. Very exciting. Didn’t know much about what they were like to fly, but that was 02:39:30:00 where I wanted to go. Q: Tell me about the Hurricane. A: It won the [aerial] Battle of Britain, not the Spitfire. This is a thing that a lot of people don’t realise. It was the Hurricanes that destroyed most of the German raids. It got the bombers. The Spitfires looked after mostly the German fighter escort. The Hurricane was a pretty heavy type of aeroplane. I 02:40:00:00 flew the Spitfire much later on and for pure flying the Spitfire was delightful. The Hurricane we flew at southern Bedford later on could take more punishment than the Spitfire. It could be shot up quite a bit more. It was a bit slower than a Spit [fire]. It was one of the nice things about it, it was a more robust aeroplane to land. In those days 02:40:30:00 we didn’t have runways, we landed on grass airfields and so on. A Spitfire was easily bent. The wheels were a little bit fragile compared to a Hurricane. So that was always in our favour when you were coming back and you were probably a little bit tired and a bit frightened and all you wanted to do was go out and have a beer or something and your landing wasn’t as good as it should be, a Hurricane was more reliable. The Hurricanes we flew had, the first ones I flew had 8 02:41:00:00 guns firing from the wings. Browning .303s. Later on we had 12 guns and that was when the Hurricane improved a bit. It was for those days fast. I can’t remember speeds anymore, but I imagine you’re

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