Veteran Stories:
Francis Warren

Air Force

  • A silk escape map of Europe, for the use of escaping crashed aircrew. June, 1943

  • Leaflet dropped over France: "L'Amerique en Guerre". 28 Juin, 1944

  • A page from Warren's flight log book, highlighting operations over Dusseldorf, Bochum, Neuss and Duisberg. Warren completed 34 bombing tours between 1943 and 1945

  • A war-time Christmas menu from R.C.A.F. Station, Eastmoor, 1944

  • A war-time postcard: "I don't object to your girl friend sending you a cake, but don't use government equipment to cut it!".

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"We were so low that I could see the trailing aerial bouncing off the waves"

Transcript

Francis Warren, Flying Officer. The recruiting people didn't get many that wanted to be navigators, they got lots wanting to be pilots, so I was moved along quite rapidly into training. At the time of the incident, we had made a bombing run over Germany and, on return, we were badly shot up. The plane was in grave danger of crashing. The pilot was very skilful. He brought it over the English Channel. We were so low that I could see the trailing aerial bouncing off the waves. The pilot's plan was to try to land on the beach strip. But as we got closer to the shore, an updraft over the cliffs of Dover just lifted the plane up and we landed. The wings fell off the plane as we landed late at night. I had some shrapnel in my side and my boot happened to have quite a bit of blood it in. So when we were standing beside the airplane waiting for the ambulance, I took off my boot to shake out the blood that was there so I'd be a little more comfortable and then, that caused them to think that I was badly wounded, so the rest of the crew went in and had a meal, I had to wait for the ambulance. When I got in the ambulance there was a Mosquito bomber coming in on fire, had an Australian pilot. As it landed, he got out of the cockpit, crawled onto the wing and rolled off onto the ground and the plane went on another hundred yards or so before it finally blew up. He was loaded into the ambulance with me. I thought he was a pretty cool customer, because by the time we got into the hospital, he had already made a date with the nurse for the dance later that night. Anyway, the next day we had to go back to Yorkshire by train. And one of the features of that is that every station the train stopped in, Ladies' Aide and the Salvation Army and so on came along the track and our compartment window had a sign, "Crashed Air Crew" and so that gave them full license to ply us with chocolate bars and cigarettes and all sorts of goodies. Unfortunately, I had taken a shortcut and I was just wearing my pyjamas under my flying suit, so it was a pretty warm day - one of the warmest they'd experienced - and I was rather hot in the train but I didn't want to take off my flying suit jacket because I was wearing the pyjamas. So I had to go all the way to Yorkshire. We had to change trains in London, I walked around in Victoria Station, with the flying suit on, causing a lot attention. And we finally got on to Yorkshire and there I found that all my belongings had been disposed of because I wasn't expected to come back. My bicycle had been donated to someone else. And, of course, it all came back to me when I got there. So that was one experience that I'll remember.
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