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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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We Heard On The Train

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Arthur Cannings
Location of story: 
Scotland and England
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
22 July 2005

(This story was submitted to the Peoples War website by a volunteer from Radio Cambridgeshire Action Desk at the Duxford VE Day commemorations behalf of Arthur Cannings and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Cannings fully understands the site's terms and conditions).

I was on coastal command on flying boats and I joined 210 Squadron at Pembroke Dock, then we moved to Poole Harbour (we had 2 stints in Gibraltar). From there we were disbanded and then went to Oban in Scotland. We should have gone to the Far East but we ended up in the Shetlands where I was a wireless airgunner. Our normal routine would be to operate one day and then rest, then standby, then operate. We would have to be operational for up to 20 hours at a time — it was certainly tiring! After I was operational I finished up as a warrant officer in Northern Ireland and then back in Ivangordon in Scotland. I was a radar instructor at Ivangordon.

When war ended it didn’t make much of a difference. I went into Enniskillen and went for a few Guinness and a meal and more Guinness. I don’t recall a lot!

On VJ day I’d been on leave in Norwich while stationed in Ivangordon. If you were on leave on VJ Day you could stay for an extra 24 hours. I was due back so I got the train to London then Inverness. On the way back we heard the war was over but we were already on the train. When we got back to the unit — at 9 o’clock we were wanted for a unit photograph. I said “sod the photograph I’m going to bed!”

My older brother joined the RAF in 1937 then they converted to Wellingtons. 5 days before war broke out they crashed and burnt out. He stayed with the squadron as a wireless operator.

My younger brother did 2 tours on Lancaster’s, he got the DFM. My sister joined the Wren’s where she was a cook. I often wondered how my family coped. We knew were we were at risk — but my family didn’t! They must have thought we were at risk all the time. My mum wrote to us all on a weekly basis.

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Royal Air Force Category
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