Eccles, Hugh H (IWM interview)

IWM Non Commercial Licence

The media for this item are free to reuse for non-commercial purposes under the IWM Non Commercial Licence. Video, sound and images can be embedded with the code we offer here, and images can also be downloaded.

By downloading any images or embedding any media, you agree to the terms and conditions of the IWM Non Commercial Licence, including your use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

  • Embed HTML

Catalogue number
  • 26581
Production date
2003-12
Subject period
Alternative Names
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

Object description

British officer served with 269 Sqdn, Coastal Command, RAF in GB and Iceland, 1940-1941; served in command of 1407 Flight Flight, Coastal Command in Iceland, 1941-1942; served in command of 1404 Flight Flight, CC in GB, 1942-1943; served as RAF instructor in South Africa, 1943-1944; served in command of No 1300 Meteorological Flight and No 1581 Ground Radar Calibration Flight in India, 1944-1945; served as flight commander with Communications Sqdn at New Delhi, India, 1944-1944; served with Headquarters, 46 Group, Transport Command, in GB, 1946; served as intelligence officer with RAF Liaison Dept, Secret Intelligence Service MI6, London, 1946-1948; served with Directorate of Research and Development, Ministry of Supply, GB, 1948-1951; served in command of 216 Sqdn, Coastal Command in GB, 1952; served as instructor at RAF Staff College, GB, 1954-1956; served at RAF Flying College, GB, 1957-1957; served as staff officer at Headquarters, Supreme Allied Command Atlantic in US, 1957-1960; served as station commander, RAF Manby, GB, 1960-1963; served as staff officer at Organisational Requirements Branch, Air Ministry, GB, 1963-1964

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Chorlton-cum-Hardy and Timperley, 1921-1938: family background; contact with Ludvig Wittenstein; social circumstances; education at preparatory school and Oundle School including engineering classes, sporting activities and training with OTC; work as engineering apprentice with heavy engineering firm, 1937. Period studying engineering at Exeter College, Oxford University, 10/1938-9/1939: recreations; learning to fly and first solo in Avro Tutor with Oxford University Air Sqdn at RAF Station, Abingdon, 2/1939; recruitment into RAF Volunteer Reserve; annual practice camp with OUAS; call up as sergeant pilot with RAVR, 1/9/1939. Commission as pilot officer at No 1 Initial Training Wing, Cambridge, 9/1939-11/1939. Period at RAF College, Cranwell, 11/1939-6/1940: conditions of service; flying Oxford; background to interest in joining Coastal Command. REEL 2 Continues: Conditions: night flying and instruments; navigation methods; cross country flights; practice bomb runs; aerial photography; formation flying; reconnaissance exercises; assessment. Period at No 1 School of General Reconnaissance at Guernsey, Channel Islands, and Heaton Park, Manchester, 6/1940-: codes and ciphers; aircraft recognition; deliberate destruction of car prior to German occupation; hotel billets; evacuation of Guernsey. Period at No 3 School of General Reconnaissance, RAF, Squires Gate, Blackpool, 7/1940-10/1940: recreations; navigational exercises; methods of measuring wind strength and direction; sinusitis problems and operations. Period at No 1 Operational Training Unit, Coastal Command, RAF, Scloth, 10/1940-12/1940: opinion of Hudson and problems on takeoff. REEL 3 Continues: use of auto-pilot. Recollections of period as pilot flying Hampden with 269 Sqdn, Coastal Command, RAF at Wick, 12/1940-7/1941: reception; story of giving up being teetotal; nature of officers' mess including drinking habits, songs, social life and mess games; relationship with officers and ground crew; role as pilot navigator; missions escorting convoys and role keeping submarines submerged; story of escorting HMS King George V and story of coming under fire after using wrong codes of day; reconnaissance missions of Norwegian coast; question of bombing raids on Norway; composition of crews; German air raids and reconnaissance flights. REEL 4 Continues: story of practical joke whilst acting adjutant. Recollection of period at Kaldaoarnes, Iceland, 7/1941-11/1941: train journey to Gourock; voyage to Iceland. nature of Kaldaoarnes airfield; unofficial assistance for US Navy and Air Force prior to US entry into war, 12/1941; relationship with US servicemen; convoy escort role and search patterns flown; participation in film 'Coastal Command' made by Crown Films; story of photographing U 570 after her surrender to Royal Navy, 8/1941; friendship with Pilot Officer Joe Owen-King; relationship with Icelandic civilians; story of mission in support of USS Greer and HMS Watchman in operation against U Boat, view of German attack on USS Greer, sinking of U Boat and subsequent reaction from Roosevelt. REEL 5 Continues: response of Roosevelt, Donitz and Hitler to USS Greer incident; incident whilst escorting Russian convoy; climate and high winds; ice pack reconnaissance flights in Denmark Straits; flight organisation; opinion of Wing Commander Kelly; officers' mess; question of casualties and personal morale; food rations; navigation problems and inaccuracy of weather forecasts. Recollections of period in command of 1407 Flight Flight, CC at Reykjavik, 11/1941-9/1942: prior briefing; role of unit and nature of meteorological flights; modifications required on Hudson; role and opinion of Flight Lieutenant Eric Kraus; news of Pearl Harbour, 7/12/1941; morning meteorological flights and requirement to fly in bad weather; story of near escape from flying into mountains in low cloud. REEL 6 Continues: independent status of command; role as duty flight in servicing Russian aircraft; question of casualties; low priority within RAF & CC of Meteorological Flights and loss of Hudson. Period at No 6 (CC) Operational Training Unit, Thornaby, 9/1942-10/1942: air-sea rescue mission; training as instructor. Period in command of 1404 Flight Flight, CC at St Eval, 10/1942-4/1943: billets; opinion of Ventura, Albemarle and Hampden; meteorological flights in support of Operation Torch; circumstances of casualties; nature of meteorological flights in Hampden including electrically heated clothing, latrine arrangements, role of navigator in collating observation figures, use of codes in wireless transmission and question of opportunistic attacks on submarines; story of tractor damaging hangar. Background to death of Eric Ravilious while serving with 269 Sqdn, Coastal Command at Kaldaoarnes, 2/9/1942. Period as instructor at No 1 School of General Reconnaissance, George, South Africa, 5/1943-9/1943: background to volunteering for posting; meeting future wife during voyage out aboard Argentina. REEL 7 Continues: dislike of flying instruction; acting as instructor in codes and ciphers. Period as examiner at Central Exam Board, Headquarters, 25 Group, Coastal Command, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 9/1943-2/1944: story of Greek pilots; relationship with South African civilians; question of racism; question of pro-German South African groups; dispersal of flying training around Empire. Recollections of period in command of No 1300 Meteorological Flight and No 1581 Ground Radar Calibration Flight at Alipore and Baigachi, India, 2/1944-9/1944: background to posting; opinion of Blenheim V and question of supply of replacements; story of first flight and opinion of Vengeance introduced by No 1581 Flight; flight in Hurricanes introduced for No 1300 Flight; nature of ground radar calibration; story of flights to visit wife and landing on busy airfield; use of personal Blenheim; anti-malaria precautions and health problems; conditions of service; Indian servants. REEL 8 Continues: administrative role relating to personnel; relationship with officers; lack of contact with Indian civilians. Period as flight commander with Communications Sqdn at New Delhi, India, 9/1944-10/1945: disposal of personal Blenheim; nature of unit; role as personal pilot of Countess of Carlisle and flying VIPs; amusing story of Countess of Carlisle unofficial visit to Royal Navy ship; story of leave in Kashmir and subsequent resolution of claim against Indian tradesman; stories of flying Maharajah of Boroda; opinion of Beechcraft Expeditor; story of co-pilot in Dakota carrying Wrens to Ceylon; VIP Dakotas and story of Squadron Leader Towell flying Lady Mountbatten. REEL 9 Continues: second hand story of Lieutenant Archibald Wavell being wounded whilst serving with Chindits and question of subsequent trip by Lord Wavell behind Japanese lines to visit his son; VE day celebrations, 8/5/1945; demobilisation of wife; married quarters in Delhi; VJ Day celebrations, 8/1945; voyage aboard Isle de France to GB, 11/1945-1/1946: desire for permanent commission and rejection of temporary extension. Demobilisation, 1/1946. Period as civilian, 1/1946-5/1946: qualification for award of war degree; work as apprentice with heavy engineering firm; question of acclimatisation to civilian lifestyle; rejoining RAF on offer of permanent commission, 5/1946. Period as operations room controller with Headquarters, 46 Group, Transport Command, Bushey Hall, Watford, 5/1946-12/1946: role controlling Dakota flights; story of pilot taking flight to China; role as mess secretary and story of Customs impounding champagne; background to acceptance for posting to MI6. REEL 10 Continues: Period as intelligence officer with RAF Liaison Dept, Secret Intelligence Service MI6, London, 12/1946-1/1948: role filtering aviation intelligence for Air Ministry; story of debriefing defector; organisation of agents; cooperation with US; nature of information. Period with Directorate of Research and Development at Ministry of Supply, London, 1/1948-1/1951: background to selection of posting; responsibility for equipment carried by RAF bombers; background to de Haviland production of Comet from original design work intended for Vulcan; question of ejection seats in Vulcan; background to confusion over design of Canberra; responsibility for various aircraft; illustrations of degree of authority in conduct of meetings; opinion of Sir Frederick Handley Page; role in establishing firm specialising in aircraft modification. Period attending RAF Staff College, Bracknell, 1/1951-1/1952: organisation in syndicates; syllabus; lectures on threat of Communism from Montgomery Hyde. REEL 11 Continues: lectures on threat of Communism from Montgomery Hyde; nature of work; syndicate exercises; assessment; demonstration visits. Introduction of regular instrument tests during period at 101 Flying Refresher School, Firmingley, 1/1952-3/1952. Period at School of Maritime Reconnaissance, St Mawgen, 3/1952-6/1952. Period learning to fly Shackleton at 236 Operational Conversion Unit, Kinloss, 6/1952-8/1952. Period in command of 216 Sqdn, Coastal Command at St Evals and Topcliffe, 8/1952-12/1952: post-war reductions in squadron strength; escort role in Exercise Mainbrace with RN and US Navy; impact of nuclear submarines; move to Topcliffe and reception from station commander; nature of Neptune; navigational radar; attack radar linked to searchlights; radar altimeter and compass; anti-submarine Exercise Fairisle during detachment to Malta. REEL 12 Continues: exercise at Joint Anti-Submarine School, Ballykelly, Northern Ireland. Period as instructor at RAF Staff College, Bracknell, 1/1954-9/1956: status of posting; developing new planning exercises; importance of developing relationship with students and directing staff. Recollections of period at RAF Flying College, Manby, 1/1957-7/1957: prior conversion course to Meteor and differences in flying jet aircraft; role of college; aerial exercise in Hunter and Canberra; question of atomic bomb tactics. Period as staff officer at Headquarters, Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic at Norfolk, Virginia, US, 7/1957-1/1960: developing tactics for maritime air operations; aerial searches; exercises; opinion of Jerrold Wright; construction of NATO airfields in Norway and Portugal; acting as liaison officer in NATO exercises in Mediterranean; visits to anti-submarine station in Italy. REEL 13 Continues: relationship with US personnel and civilians. Period as station commander, RAF Manby, 4/1960-2/1963: promotion to Group Captain; prior jet refresher course; station units including School of Refresher Flying and School of Air Warfare; status as station commander; story of hosting university squadrons competition and organising flying display; annual mess ball; question of threat of Soviet Union and deterrent effect of nuclear weapons. Period as staff officer at Organisational Requirements Branch, Air Ministry, Whitehall, London, 2/1963-7/1964: background to posting; role of unit; background to developing replacement of Shackleton from VC10 airframe fitted with integrated avionics equipment and subsequent decision to use of Comet airframe in development of Nimrod; question of abortive cooperation with French to develop training aircraft capable of tactical role and subsequent development of Hawk; development of systems to allow blind landing of aircraft in fog. REEL 14 Continues: background to taking early retirement, 7/1964. Post-service career: work as general manager of Border Television, 1964-1965; securing work as general manager with Ford Motor Company; question of value of RAF experience; review of career with British Leyland, 1965-1974; work as security engineering consultant developing anti-terrorist counter-measures, 1974-2003; role as president of 269 Sqdn Old Comrades Assocation.

Associated people and organisations

Associated places

Associated themes

Comments (0)

Comments are the user's own and in no-way express the opinion of the IWM. Read our community policy for more details.
Please note that we cannot reply to comments made here. Find out how to ask questions or tell us something.

Add a comment

Add a comment

Please stay polite and on-topic: