Sweet, Adrian Ernest 'Dickie' (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 18624
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 195, Number Of Items 7
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British seaman served aboard HMS Cape Town on China Station, 1934-1936; served aboard HMS Brazen in Mediterranean 1936-1937; served aboard HMS Cornwall in GB coastal waters, 1937-1938; served as telegraphist-air-gunner with 819 and 827 Sqdns, Fleet Air Arm in GB, off Norway and Mediterranean, 1939-1941; served aboard HMS Formidable in Far East, 1945; civilian worked for British European Airways during Berlin Airlift, Germany, 1948-1949

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Guernsey, Channel Islands, 1917-1928: family and interests. Period with Greenwich Royal Hospital School, London, 1928-1933: nature of education. Period of training with HMS St Vincent, Gosport, 1933-1934 including level of discipline. Period as boy seaman with HMS Cape Town on China Station, 1934-1936: joining ship, Devonport, 1934; nature of boys mess deck; suffering from seasickness on voyage out from GB; treatment of boys aboard; discipline aboard; voyage to China station; nature of discipline in Hong Kong, 1934; attitude to visiting Wei Hai Wei; messing system aboard; lack of entertainment for ship's crew; voyages on River Yangtse; poverty in China, 1930s. REEL 2 Continues: living conditions of Chinese civilians; sight of Chinese execution squads and beggars on River Yangtse; tactics employed by Chinese coolies; duties aboard ship; Christmas aboard, Hankow, 25/12/1934; move to Shanghai, 1935; opinion of life ashore in Shanghai; return to GB, 1936; punishment for being absent without leave in Shanghai; embarking Halie Selassie in Jaffa on return voyage. Period with HMS Brazen in Mediterranean, 1936-1937: joining ship at Plymouth; his role aboard; duties of ship; accident that occurred to ship whilst towing HMS Basilisk back to Gibraltar, 1936; being guests of French Foreign Legion in Oran; types of naval officers; damage to ship on voyage to Marseilles; transporting Spanish refugees, ca 1936; stationing of ship in Spanish river and patrolling off North West Spanish coast ca 1937; assistance given to Potato Jones; observation by Graf Spee in Bay of Biscay. REEL 3 Continues: opinion of service aboard. Period of training as submarine detector with HMS Osprey, 1937. Period aboard HMS Cornwall in GB coastal waters, 1937-1938: posting to ship, c1937; opinion of service aboard; use of antiquated U-boat detection equipment; role as coxswain of speedboat, 1938; diversion of ship to Scapa Flow during Munich Crisis; reaction to allocation of his action station in cordite room of Y turret, 1938; wish to join Fleet Air Arm, 1938. Period with Royal Navy Signals School, Portsmouth, 1939: reaction to being earmarked as telegraphist-air-gunner. Period of Fleet Air Arm flying training in GB, 1939: training at RAF Worthy Down summer 1939; drouge-towing work from RNAS Ford, 12/1939. Recollections of period with 819 Sqdn Fleet Air Arm, 1940-1941: posting to squadron early 1940; move to Royal Naval Air Station, West Freugh, 3/1940; death of fellow squadron member in accident; return to Royal Naval Air Station, Ford; joining HMS Illustrious, 6/1940. REEL 4 Continues: exercises off Bermuda, summer 1940; Captain Boyd's warning to crew of carrier, 7/1940; crash landing of Blackburn Skuas on HMS Illustrious's flight deck; rough passage of HMS Illustrious in North Atlantic; anxiety about occupation of Guernsey and fate of his family; becoming surplus to requirements as number of Fairey Swordfish in squadron reduced, summer 1940. Period of gunnery training with RAF Eastleigh, ca 8/1940. Recollections of operations flying Albecores with 827 Sqdn in GB, 1940-1941: joining unit Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton, autumn 1940; inadequate equipment and lack of training; German Air Force attack in which his brother was killed, Yeovil, 9/1940; move of unit to Royal Naval Air Station Crail, 12/1940; living conditions at Royal Naval Air Station, Crail, 12/1940. REEL 5 Continues: duties at Royal Naval Air Station, Crail, 1940-1941; awaiting carrier HMS Victorious; squadron role aiding RAF Coastal Command escorting convoys and anti-U-boat work; basing of unit in Stornoway, 3/1941-5/1941; move to RAF Thorney Island, 5/1941; role guarding against German warships using Channel; sorties to French coast, 5/1941; move of unit to RAF St Eval, 11/5/1941; German Air Force saturation bombing of RAF St Eval, 11/5/1941-12/5/1941; mine laying off Brest, late 5/1941; evasion of anti- aircraft fire from Brest; fitting of IFF gear at Donibristle; move of unit to Halston, Orkneys, 1/7/1941; embarking aboard HMS Victorious in which his father was also serving, 2/7/1941; aspects of raid on Kirkenes, Norway, 7/1941 including preparations for raid, nature of raid 30/7/1941, opinion of preparations. REEL 6 Continues: escape from fjord through German Air Force attack, failure to pick up shot down air crew in dinghy, fate of those involved in raid, contrast between FAA and RAF, comradeship among air crews, reaction to sending of two Fulmars for further raid on Kirkenes, 31/7/1941 and failure to use Hurricanes to protect raiding aircraft; invasion of Madagascar flying from HMS Indomitable, spring 1942; German Air Force attacks on HMS Indomitable during Operation Pedestal in Mediterranean, 8/1942. Recollections of operations as air operations team aboard HMS Formidable in Pacific, 1945: kamikaze attacks on ship, 2/1945-3/1945. REEL 7 Continues: efficiency of Allied navies in Pacific in 1945; damage to ship during kamikaze attacks. Question of greater comfort provided in RAF stations in contrast to RN air stations. Attitude to having served in Fleet Air Arm. Leaving Royal Navy, 1947. Aspects of period with British European Airways during Berlin Airlift, 1948-1949: his work flying as aircrew in Dakotas on scheduled flights into RAF Gatow and Tempelhof; being buzzed by Russian pilots. Memories of Canadian Fleet Air Arm pilot Robert 'Hammy' Gray awarded last Victoria Cross of Second World War for action over Onagawa Bay, Japan, 8/Aug/1945.

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