Veteran Stories:
Jack Scrivener

Air Force

  • Following the conclusion of the Second World War in May, 1945, this obelisk was erected in the village of Eisfeld, just inside East Germany, some 20 kms north of the town of Coburg. The inscription is in Russian Cyrillic and German. It reads:
    "Here rest honourabley fallen in air battle, for the happiness of mankind., the Airmen: Frost- Baxter- Gardner- Rose and two unknown combatants of the English-American Airforce."

    Jack Scrivener
  • An Allied propaganda pamphlet by British Minster of Foreign Affairs Anthony Eden, dropped into occupied France by the RAF. It informs the people of occupied France to take heart; that the British will do everthing they can to liberate them soon, and emphasizes the progress made against the Axis, partiularly through the liberation of French North Africa - Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia - and it notes that the French North African forces are now fighting alongside the other members of the United Nations.

    Jack Scrivener
  • This is the last picture taken of Flight Lieutenant Jack Scrivener before the disasterous operation to Nuremberg on the night of March 30/31, 1944. Ninety-five bombers were lost over Germany that night. Jack Scrivener's plane was shot down, only four of the eight crew members survived.

    Jack Scrivener
  • A correspondence from the private secretary to Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother, in response to a letter Jack Scrivener sent in 1993.

    Jack Scrivener
  • Early March, 1944 at RAF Station in Upwood. The crew of the ill-fated Lancaster bomber 'Z' Zebra of 156 Squadron, Upwood, shot down north of Nuremberg on the night of March 30-31st, 1944. Ranks as on March 31, 1944 (left to right): F/O Jack Scrivener (Navigator II); F/O H.C. Frost (Wireless Operator); F/O Eric Summers (Navigator I); Squadron Leader Philip Goodwin (Pilot and Captain); W/O W. Rose (Flight Engineer); W/O J.C. Baxter (Mid-Upper Gunner). W/O W.C.Gardner (Rear Gunner) was not in this picture.

    Jack Scrivener
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"Many of our planes were shot down that night. We had been ordered to make a straight and level run into the target. And this was the time, of course, when German night fighters had their greatest opportunity [...]"

Transcript

Well, it was a direct route into the target, starting over Lille, France, crossing the German border and then straight east to 60 miles north of Nuremberg [Germany]. And en route, our pilot saw many planes being shot down. Many of our planes were shot down that night. We had been ordered to make a straight and level run into the target. And this was the time, of course, when German night fighters had their greatest opportunity to shoot our planes down because we were, so to speak, static, straight, level, to be as accurate as possible. This was not easy to do because our chances of survival decreased the longer you were over the target straight and level.

About 40 miles north of Nuremberg over a little town called Eisfeld, we were approached by a German night fighter flown by Oberlieutenant Martin Becker. Martin Becker, incidentally, was a German ace who shot down some seven aircraft, seven of our bombers, that one night. We were flying straight and level and then, suddenly, there was a horrendous explosion in the front of the aircraft, blowing out the Perspex glass that covered the navigators and the pilot and the flight engineer, creating a big hole in the side of the aircraft, igniting the starboard, or right inner engine, and the aircraft immediately began to go out of control. The plane whipped over in an inverted spin and started heading toward the ground some 20 000 feet below. Suddenly, I found myself in total darkness. I was lying on the ceiling of the aircraft, but I had had enough time to reach down and pick up a chest pack, parachute pack, and clip it on. I only had time to clip it on to one lug, but that was sufficient. Then, about that time, the aircraft actually blew up. It had caught fire, the fire had spread toward the rear of the aircraft and suddenly, I found myself outside the aircraft, falling through space. And I thought for a while that actually I had passed over, I was on the other side, because everything was airy-fairy. It was very pleasant. It was very cool. Of course, I was falling through space, you know, at 22 feet per second and I didn’t realize for a while that I was still alive. I really thought that I had passed on and just during that period I saw my entire family sort of go before my eyes. Well, this carried on for only seconds because I was falling at a great speed toward the earth.

Fortunately, the height was such that I could fall quite a way without hitting the ground. And it was only at about 5000 feet that I came to and realized that I was still alive and that I might be able to do something about it, if I could pull the ring on the parachute pack, open the parachute and that way save my life. Well, that’s exactly what happened. I found the ring, I pulled it. At first nothing seemed to happen and then I saw a great white canopy above me. It was a half moon that night so I wasn’t in total darkness and there was snow on the ground below. At this point I was at about 5000 feet. I know that altitude because I am a climber by interest, mountain climber, and I know what it looks like from 5000 feet to the ground. And I came down, I landed in a clearing surrounded by pine forest in the province of Thuringia. I lay on the ground for a few minutes, I was unhurt and I was virtually, not even had any scratches and I thought that about five hours ago I was sitting in the comfortable mess in an upholstered leather chair after a wonderful meal of bacon and eggs, and here I was lying on the ground in eastern Germany on the Czechoslovak border, surrounded by the enemy, virtually 500 miles from anywhere really.

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