"I put bombs together and worked on bombs, so I’m sure that they killed people. But I said I didn’t, myself. But you know, you had a hand in it"
When you’re nineteen, coming [on] nineteen, I knew that I’d probably have to go, you know, be interviewed if, whether I could join the Army or whatever. So I kind of wanted the Air Force, I thought I’d be in flying. So I went to Chatham, they had a recruiting party come up there and so I got that. When I went back home, they did, I think it was in the post office that I was to report. So I joined the Air Force, it would be mid-August . And I wasn’t nineteen quite but I was getting close. And so I thought, well, I’ll go and, I had dreams of flying. But I didn’t go to high school. I had to stay home and work, being a farmer’s son. So I didn’t have that. So they said, well, you won’t be able to fly, you’ll have to be in a trade, you know, on the ground.
There was a permanent base where we were but it used to be, you know, British but they gave us that area. And so we went to [Royal Air Force Station] Leeming and that’s where we got into the bomb dumps. What we had to do was, there was bombs come in on trucks, lorries they called them over there, and we’d unload them off there and put them on little low trolleys and we took them in and took off the [transit] rings that were around them and I was just called an armourer. And so then we’d put them on chains, on chainfalls. Then we’d take them in there and pile them up and they went up like this. So, but I was just an armourer. If one of those blew, I think it would blow some men of ours too. But we were okay.
It was a delayed-action bomb and if this colour was pink, then it had been punctured. And so the corporal found that out as he walked along and he saw it. So then there was a panic, just to evacuate the bomb dump and the whole base was all waiting for that. And so all we did was go up to the barracks and stay in. It’s one that is held back with the detonator. It’s held back with this here fabric and if you puncture it, the acid or whatever’s in that, ate that away, weakened it and eventually it would go off and it would set them all of. And so I never knew how long it was supposed to be there but when it was coming in the night, nobody knew, it seemed like, when did it come in? It could go off any second. But that, the base, everybody was all … If you blew that bomb up, it would have been a terrible mess because there’s a lot of bombs were stored in it. It was bin after bin after bin of them and they would stack them up, just like this and so high. But that was, that was the closest thing that we had for any danger.
The last big bombing dump or raid when Germany was just about done, we, we worked all night long, and the next day, they took off. Once they got loaded, they circled around and the sky was just full of bombers. And then all of a sudden, once they all got loaded, away they went. And Germany really got it that day. I’ve had kids say, did you kill anybody? And I said, well no, not really, but I said, I put bombs together and worked on bombs, so I’m sure that they killed people. But I said I didn’t, myself. But you know, you had a hand in it, if you think about it. Innocent people lots of times, you know, too that get bombs dropped on them, it’s the delayed-action when sometimes they stayed in the ground a little while. And there was bombs dropped off that didn’t detonate - they found them later, you know, buried. Yeah. But it’s not a nice thing, war.