McMillan, Robert Peter (Oral history)
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- object name: Oral history
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Australian NCO served as wireless operator/air gunner with 223 Sqdn RAF in North Africa, 1942-1944; served with 55 Sqdn RAF in Italy, 1944
REEL 1: Background in Australia, 1921-1940: family; daily life and living conditions on farm; education; interest in entymology; attitude to being Australian and opinion of GB; activities with cadet force at school; enlisted with 16th Bn Cameron Highlanders, 1938; memory of Munich Crisis and opinion of Chamberlain, 1938. REEL 2 Continues: promoted to lance-corporal; uniform and equipment; memory of outbreak of war, 9/1939; mobilized and issued with live ammunition; role patrolling around Rock Nest area; curfew; description of defences; story of joining Royal Australian Air Force, 1940. Aspects of training with Royal Australian Air Force in Australia, 1940-1941: medical; training in Morse code; attitude to Germans; opinion of quality of aircraft; story of selection for Empire Air Training Scheme; description of basic training; posted to No 1 Wireless/Air Gunnery School, Ballarat. REEL 3 Continues: description of training; type of wireless equipment; Morse code; training in Douglas DC 2; description of R/T system; memory of first flight; physical training; description of gunnery training with drogues; opinion of Fairey Battle; attitude to fear; story of interview for commission; memory of route march; posted to Middle East, 6/1941. REEL 4 Continues: Aspects of period in Egypt, 1941: story of journey to Middle East aboard Queen Elizabeth; living conditions aboard ship; messing arrangements; opinion of food; arrived Suez; attitude to being transferred to RAF and question of pay; issued with tropical kit; story of Italian POWs; opinion of food; story of sleeping in desert; opinion of Italians and Germans; memory of visit to Cairo. REEL 5 Continues: posted to 211 Sqdn RAF Operational Training Unit in Sudan; relations with British army officers. Aspects of training with 211 Sqdn RAF at Wadi Gazouza, 1941-1942; crewed up; description of training on Blenheim; story of crash during formation flying exercise; injuries and medical treatment; opinion of Marconi wireless sets; description of gun turret on Blenheim; attitude to Japanese; problem of German fighters. REEL 6 Continues: gunnery exercises with drogues; posted to 223 Sqdn RAF, 2/1942. Recollections of operations with 223 Sqdn RAF in North Africa, 1942-1944: description of Martin Baltimore aircraft; problem of gun turret; crewed up; story of crashing on landing; opinion of pilot; description of further training; navigational flying over desert; bombing practice and bomb loads; bombs on sticks; description of bombing raid on Benghazi; damage to aircraft from flak; story of landing in German minefield, 6/1942; problem of parachutes on Baltimore. REEL 7 Continues: story of rescue from minefield; debriefed; attitude to death of friends; problem of low morale; effects of bombs; attitude to fear; flying height and evasive manoeuvres; story of meeting Montgomery. REEL 8 Continues: memory of opening barrage at El Alamein, 10/1942; description of bombing raids during Battle of El Alamein; bombing attacks on German tanks and airfields; story of shooting down Focke-Wolfe190; problem of firing guns while flying in box formation; question of fighter escorts; relations with British RAF personnel; messing arrangements; role taking supplies to fighter squadrons; posted to Derna, Libya; description of high level bombing raids on Crete, 1/1943. REEL 9 Continues: further training and exercises; dummy attacks with Spitfires; story of growing loofah; memories of Alexandria; problem of flak; recreational activities; transferred to Tunisia, 3/1943; bombing raids on Mareth Line; night raids on German positions and landing grounds in support of ground troops; problem of water; bombing landing barges. REEL 10 Continues: question of co-operation with US Army Air Force; bombing of German gun positions; comparison of RAF and US Army Air Force and facilities; description of various bombing raids on Pantelleria; reaction to shooting down Italian Machi aircraft; posted back to Egypt, 6/1943; problem of engine gills on Baltimore; posted to Ismailia and role as wireless operator/air gunner on Avro Anson; posted to 55 Sqdn RAF, 1/1944. REEL 11 Continues: description of various low-flying exercises over desert; gunnery and night flying exercises; problem of contracting pneumonia; story of journey to Italy. Recollections of operations with 55 Sqdn RAF in Italy, 3/1944-9/1944: based at Biferno; practice bombing runs; summary of various bombing raids on road and rail bridges and German positions; description of night raids on German convoys. REEL 12 Continues: role in bombing raid at Monte Cassino; recreational activities; relations with Italian civilians; summary of further bombing raids on German communications and positions; memory of liberation of Rome, 4/6/1944; description of being under fire from flak and rockets; memory of Tarquinia area. REEL 13 Continues: coast patrols in Leghorn area; attack on German transport lines at Bologna; question of German opposition; problem of searchlights; description of attacking barges; story of being awarded Distinguished Flying Cross, 1945; role in reconnaissance flights over Southern France prior to Allied landings, 8/1944; use of Window; memory of visit by King George V1. REEL 14 Continues: story of explosion of US aircraft on airfield; description of further bombing raids in Italy; question of keeping to bomb line; reconnaissance missions; question of identifying targets; summary of bombing raids, 8/1944-9/1944; bombing of targets in Rimini area; story of last operation, 25/9/1944; problem with back injury and medical treatment; 55 Sqdn re-equipped with Douglas Boston aircraft. REEL 15 Continues: attitude to end of operational flying; posted back to GB, 1/1945. Aspects of period in GB, 1945: description of medical treatment and convalescence in Brighton; memory of V2 rocket attacks; civilian morale; social life and recreational activities; story of return to Australia; conditions aboard ship New Amsterdam. REEL 16 Continues: memory of VE Day celebrations aboard ship, 8/5/1945. Aspects of post-war life and employment in Australia: story of journey back to family farm; problem of re-adjusting to civilian life; demobilisation; employment; problem of back injury; memory of VJ Day celebrations; reflections on period of service with RAF.
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