British aircraftman and NCO served with Balloon Command, RAF in GB, 1939-1941; NCO trained as pilot with RAF in GB and US, 1942-1945
REEL 1 Background in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, GB, 1919-1938: family; education; civilian work in mines; knowledge of events in Germany; departure from home; father's death in Spanish Civil War; further details of civilian work in mines; process of joining Royal Air Force in Nottingham, 1938. Aspects of period as aircraftman and NCO with Royal Air Force in GB and US, 1938-1939: reception on arrival at Uxbridge; opinion of NCO; accommodation; drill training; background of recruits; reason for joining RAF; details of RAF Hawkinge; aircraft used by 25 Sqdn; period in camp at Hastings including guard duties; story of illicit alcohol consumption and arrest. Recollections of period as NCO with Balloon Command, RAF in GB, 1939-1941: gaining posting as balloon operator; posting at RAF Cardington; motor transport training; rigging training. REEL 2 Continues: details of balloons; story of fighting fire on final day with unit; further details of training including tests; passing out and posting to Newcastle-upon-Tyne; outbreak of war, 3/9/1939; make-up of unit; influx of recruits; process of erecting barrage balloons; rations; barrages built in North East; problems caused by stormy weather including earthing balloons; cable used; air raids including shelter taken and weapons carried; bombing of site at Billingham; role as lance corporal; maintenance duties; uses of balloons; guard duties; cooking of rations; problems with discipline; promotion of unit members; living conditions on balloon site; frequency of air raids. REEL 3 Continues: details of air raids; damage to balloons; relationship with civilians including land girls; engagement; posting to Newport; accommodation; barrage erected; experience of air raids in Cardiff; story of visit to cinema; changes to barrage balloons during war; collisions between aircraft and balloons; transport in unit including giving lifts; morale; preparation for invasion. Recollections of training as pilot with RAF in GB and US, 1942-1945: request for posting to air crew and refusal; subsequent ill discipline; first interview; learning of mathematics; second interview and tests; posting to Newquay; initial air crew training; posting in Heaton Park, Manchester. REEL 4 Continues: learning to fly in de Havilland Tiger Moth; selection for pilot training; period at Lord's Cricket Ground; memories of colleague; reactions to rise within air force including influence of father; relationship with colleagues including gambling in Newport; details of voyage to Canada; weather on arrival; choice of flying school; train journey to Florida; health problems; visit to New York; final part of journey to Clewiston; instructors and training including flight over Snake River; discipline; relationship with civilians including opposition to segregation. REEL 5 Continues: aircraft flown; relationship between officer and NCO pilots; story of court of inquiry; return to GB; activities during posting at Burton-on-Trent including story of crash landing; method of re-starting engine in air; special navigational training including failure of tests; formation of crew; opinion of wireless operator; operational training with Vickers Wellington including problem during bombing practice; opinion of Vickers Wellington; air test of a Vickers Wellington; background to posting to RAF Eastchurch; interviews attended and demotion to lance corporal; story of earlier argument with a flight lieutenant during an exercise; discussion of position within Royal Air Force; leisure activities and relationship with civilians during posting in Northern Ireland; duties; meteorology lessons and morale; reflections on service; story of reunion with wing commander. REEL 6 Continues: question of who takes medical opinions.