"First we were coned by lights below, then we were hit by flak, damaging our hydraulic system."
My name is George Olley and I'm from London. I joined up in London when I was seventeen and a half. I went through all the maneuvers, ending up to be an air gunner.
One of the trips I was on in England, this is what I can vividly remember: sitting in my turret during a raid. A fellow bomber peeling off from our group, slowly spiraling down in flames, and I was looking for parachutes to open while at the same time I was looking around for the presence of enemy fighters, and as none of the crew appeared from the damaged plane I found myself helplessly yelling, "Get out! Get out!" But it was all in vain. I watched the flaming blur until it disappeared from sight.
Another time I was just leaving for a raid – it was a night raid and we were in our Halifax bomber. The bomber in front of us, just before taking off, he got a flat tire and he went down on one wing and all the bombs, including a 'cookie' on board, exploded on the impact and lit up the sky like the Fourth of July. It blew up the whole plane and killed the whole crew except the rear gunner. The turret was blown free from the burning plane and rolled away from the fire. The rear gunner, when the turret was rolling along, he fell out of the plane but he was on fire. He was badly burned but he did survive.
And then one night on March the 5th 1945 on a raid to Chemnitz accompanied by four hundred and ninety-eight Lancasters and two hundred and fifty-six Halifax bombers. After the raid we were coming home. We were hit by flak. First we were coned by lights below, then we were hit by flak, damaging our hydraulic system. The turret I was in didn't work, or the guns, so I had to work them manually. One hand on one gun and one hand on the controls of the turret so I could move it manually. Our mid-upper turret gunner, he got hit from the plexiglass breaking, but it wasn't bad. Our skipper had difficulty controlling the plane, and we were ordered to prepare to bail out. The navigator broke in to say although we were over occupied France, with a little change of direction we could get to un-occupied France and bail out there. When we got over un-occupied France, we spotted an Allied air base, let down our undercarriage manually, headed for the runway, missed it, and crash landed on a very rocky, bumpy field. We landed in a place called Jouvancourt, near the city of Reims. We stayed there five days before returning to base.
On a daylight raid to Hamburg, March the 31st '45, with three hundred and sixty-one Lancasters and a hundred Halifax bombers, there was a lot of flak and fighter planes. One plane I could see a long way below, very small, and all of a sudden it was on top of our planes, swishing in and out among our aircraft. On returning back to base from the raid and reporting to the intelligence officer at that time, he said we probably saw, and I probably saw, the first German plane, the Messerschmitt No. 262 – A jet aircraft, and the first one I had ever seen.
I ended up to be a Flight Sergeant, and when the war ended I was going to go to the Middle East, but it ended before I could get there.