Taussig, Kurt (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 30619
Department
Sound
Production date
2007-12
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 480, Number Of Items 16
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

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Object description

Czechoslovakian Jewish civilian lived in Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, 1923-1939; arrested, 1939; emigrated to GB, 1939; worked as gardener and agricultural labourer in Cumbria, 1939-1942; served as ferry pilot with No 2 Ferry Unit, RAF, Sicily, 1944-1944; served as officer flying Spitfire Vc and IX with 225 Sqdn, RAF in Italy and Austria, 1945-1947

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Teplitz-Shonau, Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, 1923-1939: family background and social circumstances; education; interest in flying; Jewish background; question of anti-Semitism; closeness to German border; move to Czech school after experiencing anti-Semitism at German school, 1938; Czech preparations for possible war with Germany, 1938; failure of British to support Cechs and Herman occupation of Sudetenland, 9/1938; move to Suojetin holiday home, 9/1938; German advance and period as refugee in Prague. Period at Hocalko Holiday Camp, Bohemia, 9/1939-3/1940: story of getting lost in woods during snowstorm; situation; question of awareness of concentration camps; German invasion of Czechoslovakia and arrival of German troops at camp, 15/3/1939; treatment by German troops; arrest of adults and escape of brother; arrival of SS troops. Period in Beroun Castle dungeons, 3/1939-6/1939. REEL 2 Continues: conditions in dungeon; background to inclusion of children in Kinder Transport programme organised by Nicholas Winton; separation from parents and departure from Prague, 6/1939; fate of Jewish children not included in programme. Train and ferry journey to London, GB, 6/1939. Period in London, 6/1939: reception from Jessica Hiller; first impressions; inability to speak English. Recollections of periods at Barrow in Furness and Ulverston, 6/1939-10/1942: brother's diphtheria attack during train journey; attack of impetigo; billets; recreations and visits to Lake District; learning English; billet family; question of continued education; work as trainee market gardener at Ulverston; reactions to outbreak of war, 3/9/1939; registration as 'friendly enemy alien'; swearing; produce grown. REEL 3 Continues: correspondence with parents; service with Air Training Corps, 1939-1942, including route marches, Morse code training, drill, aircraft recognition, failed application to Czech Air Force and RAF; background to leaving market garden; work as agricultural labourer on farm, 5/1942; relationship with Land Army woman; relationship with billet family; acceptance for pilot training after tests at Air Crew Reception Centre, RAF, Cardington; call up, 1942. Recollections of period at No 1 Air Crew Reception Centre, Lords Cricket Ground, St Johns Wood, London, 11/1942-12/1942. meeting brother and ignorance of London; flat accommodation; kitting out; Czech shoulder badge; vaccinations; discipline; march to meals at London Zoo; food rations; question of Jewish status and absence of anti-Semitism; relationship with recruits and instructors; exams and problems with English; question of German air riads. REEL 4 Continues: background to volunteering for overseas training. Period in Blackpool, 12/1942-1/1943: billets; relationship with recruits. Voyage aboard Dominion Monarch to Durban, South Africa, 1/1943-2/1943: first impressions of ship; send off from Liverpool; messdeck conditions in hold; boat drills; food; effects of storm; story of sleeping on deck, loss of bedding, stealing replacement and search for possible man overboard; route and visit to Freetown, Sierre Leone; 'crossing the line' ceremony; question of Far East posting. Period at Durban, 2/1943: story of buying pineapple; welcome to ship from Perla Gibson; hospitality of South African civilians; relationship with Ditch civilians and question of treatment of black Africans; soldiers drowned in harbour; move into Clairwood Camp; shed accommodation; story of death of cadet. REEL 5 Continues: hospitality of South African civilians. Recollections of period at No 3 Initial Training Wing, RAF. Hillside Camp, Bullawayo, Rhodesia, 3/1943-7/1943: story of avoiding speaking German during train journey from Durban; nature of town; reception; acclimatisation to altitude and story of ruse to pass running test; lectures and exams; PT; drill; daily routine; attending church parade. Recollections of period training on Tiger Moth with No 27 Elementary Flying School, RAF, Induna, 7/1943-11/1943: nature of Tiger moth; digging swimming pool; local leave visit to Victoria Falls; dual instruction flying training and initial problems using rudder pedals, flying controls and instruments, circuits and bumps, stalling, spinning and recovery. REEL 6 Continues: opinion of flying instructor; first solo, 18/8/1943; practicing forced landings procedure; cross-country flights and navigation; formation flying; air pockets and flying conditions; aerobatics including loop and rolls; ground training including parachute and Link Trainer; instrument flying training; night flying and navigation; assessment as pilot; story of long cross-country exercise; reactions to choice for single engine training. Recollections of period flying Harvard Trainer at No 22 Senior Flying Training School, RAF Thornhill, Gwela, 11/1943-4/1944: nature of accommodation in sergeants' mess; nature of Harvard; tight formation flying. REEL 7 Continues: bombing training; air gunnery firing at ground targets and drogues; ground training; story of collision flying in formation, severe wing damage and successful landing; selection as officer cadet; nature of officers' mess; relationship with NCOs; ambition to serve with 225 Sqdn, RAF; Christmas celebrations on local leave in Salisbury, 25/12/1944; flying advanced Harvard Trainer; passing out parade, 4/1944; delayed promotion to pilot officer; question of posting. Journey to Cairo, Egypt, 4/1944-5/1944. Period at No 5 Middle East Air Crew Reception Centre, Heliopolis Hotel, Cairo, 5/1944: importance of hygiene; dysentery attack. Period at Royal Artillery School, Royal Artillery Base Depot, Almaza, 5/1944: ground artillery observation training; desert conditions; relationship with RA officers. REEL 8 Period at 74 Operational Training Unit, RAF, Petah Tiqua, Palestine, 6/1944-9/1944: opinion of Hurricane; nature of Spitfire V including problems overheating while taxiing and flying characteristics; instruction prior to first flight in Spitfire; role of instructors from 225 Sqdn, RAF; flights over Palestine and carrying diplomatic mail in Harvard; weaving flight pattern to protect reconnaissance Spitfire; training in tactical reconnaissance, artillery observation and photographic reconnaissance roles; story of blacking out and recovery during aerobatic session loop; successful completion of loop; story of suffering propeller failure during low flying exercise and successful forced landing on airfield. REEL 9 Period as ferry pilot with No 2 Ferry Unit, RAF at Catania, Sicily, 9/1944-12/1944: role ferrying new and damaged aircraft to and from Italy; casualties from aircraft failure; bad flying conditions over Bay of Taranto; story of flying experimental rocket armed Hurricane to Yugoslavia, including running into storm, shortage of fuel and death of Mosquito pilot; question of effects of explosion of ammunition ship and release of mustard gas; story of ferry pilot killed in crash, reaction to casualties and personal morale; story of near collision whilst landing Hurricane on makeshift airfield and nearly ditching in sea due to pilot error in second approach; delayed landings at busy staging post at Jesi airfield; story of close escape from being hit by badly damaged Flying Fortress after landing at Jesi and subsequent contact with US pilot; view of badly damaged Flying Fortress exploding on landing at Jesi. REEL 10 Continues: officers' mess; relationship with Sicilian civilians; conditions of service staying at varied Italian airfields; personal morale. Period as briefing officer at No 64 Staging Post, RAF, Luqa airfield, Malta, 12/1944: volunteering for posting; conditions of service; aircraft traffic passing through; role; relationship with Maltese woman. Various postings in Italy, 12/1944-2/1945: period awaiting posting at Salerno Transit Camp, Italy; visits to Heraculaneum and Pompeii; period flying Spitfire with No 5 Refresher Unit, RAF at Perugia. Recollections of conditions of service, lifestyle and daily routine during operations flying Spitfire Vc and IX with 225 Sqdn, RAF at Peretola Airfield, Florence, 2/1945-5/1947: reactions to posting; accommodation at Villa Cora; reception and opinion of Adjutant Flight Lieutenant Jimmy Lupton and Major McCandlish; army cooperation role of unit and initial role as second pilot guarding reconnaissance Spitfire; nature of Spitfire V, including low flying ability and armament; role of ground crew and daily maintenance programme; cockpit wireless and channels; unit support personnel; relationship with ground crew. REEL 11 Continues: nature of officers' mess in Villa Cora; opinion of various officers including Pilot Officer Eric Pile, Flying Officer Alan Holt, Pilot Officers Phil Whittaker, Tommy Tunnicliffe and Engineering Officer Geoff Lucas; drinking habits; opinion of Flying Officer Maurice Potts; nature of officers' club in Florence; first flight in Spitfire Vc and problem in changing throttle on landing, subsequent investigation and entry in logbook; account of first operational mission over Po Valley including role as 2nd pilot to Pilot Officer Alan Holt, flying kit, minimal pre-flight checks, flying below cloud, role protecting Holt's tail, abandoning mission in low cloud, getting lost, rendezvous and lack of awareness of AA fire. REEL 12 Continues: flying mission as reconnaissance pilot including story of locating German horse drawn supply column, story of discovery of camouflaged German fuel and ammunition depot and successfully directing long-range artillery fire; difficulties in directing US P47 Thunderbolts onto targets during Operation Pineapples including communications problems and their attempted attacks on Spitfires; minimal contacts with US pilots; routine photographic and artillery observation missions; story of sighting ME262 jet fighter; nature of Spitfire IX; assignment to personal Spitfire IX (WU-S EN 199) and subsequent history prior to preservation in Malta Aviation Museum; situation, 4/1945; move to Verona, 4/1945. Period at Villa Franca Airfield, Verona and Campoformida, Udine, 4/1945-8/1945: state of airfield and officers' mess; opinion of Pilot Officer Geoffrey Vaughn; absence of anti-Semitism in RAF; opinion of Flight Lieutenant Gordon Henderson. REEL 13 Continues: VE Day celebrations, 8/5/1945; question of fate of parents and brother; question of situation in Balkans; 'showing the flag' and reconnaissance flights over Yugoslavia; flight to Campoformida, 5/1945; state of airfield and method of clearing runway using Spitfire engines; tent accommodation; role translating with Italian estate owner; flights to photograph state of Italian infrastructure; visit to establish hotel as rest camp for RAF personnel at Sesto; formation flights over Balkans. Recollections of period at Klagenfurt, Austria, 8/1945-6/1946: nature of airfield as former Luftwaffe base; food shortages and foraging expedition into Croatia; role as unofficial messing officer; abandoned German equipment; motorcycling; flights over Balkans; clearing snow off runway; story of Squadron leader Gordon Henderson's accident while taking off; background to visit to brother Eric Tausig in Berlin, Germany including problems arranging flight in Spitfire with Soviets, interception by Soviet fighter and interrogation. REEL 14 Continues: background to visit to brother Eric Tausig in Berlin, Germany including delayed continuation of flight, state of Berlin, missing meeting with brother and question of being reported missing on return; reasons for not taking leave and GB leave accompanied by Squadron leader Gordon Henderson; story of crashing lorry containing wedding feast intended for marriage of Squadron Leader Gordon Henderson; enjoyment of service in Austria; story of near accident flying in formation in Julian Alps; ruses to avoid unit move back to Italy; story of 'beating up' airfield on finally leaving, 6/1946. Recollections of detachment to run RAF leave hotels in Grado, Italy, 6/1946-9/1946: background to posting; nature of town as holiday resort; corrupt practices of previous RAF hotel manager; accommodation in officers' hotel; location of former hotel owners to run hotel administration; prior poor state of hotel; offer of free weekend leave holidays to re-establish reputation of hotels; arrangement to secure special booking privileges for personnel of 225 Sqdn. REEL 15 Continues: story of photographing lady friend whilst on photographic mission over Italy and subsequent disciplinary investigation; success and profitability of hotel operation. Period running RAF leave hotels at Cortina d'Apezzo, Dolomites, 9/1946-3/1947: role setting up hotels and use of German POW working party; Italian hotel staff; story of dispute with RAF senior officer mistaken for Italian civilian and subsequent loss of opportunity for regular short service commission running RAF leave hotels in Venice; success of hotel operation and weekend party organised to spend excess profits; reactions to prior disbandment of 225 Sqdn, RAF and nominal transfer to 253 Sqdn, RAF at Treviso. REEL 16 Return to GB and demobilisation, 5/1947. Post-war career: failed plans to establish hotel business; work for advertising business and travel agents; difficulties acclimatising to civilian lifestyle; background to flying Tiger Moths to collection point prior to export for nascent Israeli Air Force, 1948; question of career as airline pilot; arrival of Eric Taussig and his difficulties settling to peacetime lifestyle; career in electrical retailing business, 1948-1988; visit to Czechoslovakia, 1998, including flight out with pilot son, state of Prague, status with former Soviet regime as ex-RAF pilot, visits to Teplitz-Shonau, Terezin and Suojetin; membership of 225 Sqdn Assoc.

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