In Memory of my Father - Joseph Albert Willis 26th November 1916 - 28th February 2007
The following pages recount his experiences in Africa and Italy and were written by my Father in 1991 Page 7.
Was enjoying my stay at home after all the ups and downs in the Middle East War. Then one day a letter from the RAF saying to report to RAF station Waddington, Lincolnshire on the 10 July – left the Grange and onto my sister’s house at Ballyrobert, stayed one night then next day went to Larne – on the boat to Stranraer then on by train to Crewe. Another train from Crewe to Manchester Central Station and then by bus to London Road Railway Station and train from there to Lincoln. Went to see Station Master at Lincoln and he phoned RAF Waddington, they brought me by car to Waddington. After a few days there was posted to RAF Bardney. Next day I was driving a lovely coach, taking Aircrew out to the Lancaster Bombers on their missions to bomb Germany. They very often sat very quiet on the way to each Lancaster. No one knew who would or would not come back again. They were always more cheerful when you were bringing them back again. Sometimes they did not all come back. Was good to see the ones who did. Then after a few weeks I was taken off the coaches and put on the oxygen lorry that was filling each crew member’s bottle up with oxygen. All seven of them. Inside of each Lancaster Bomber. Did that work for a few months, then I was Fire Engine Driver for a while, I hated that, too much time waiting around and dare not leave the engine in case of a call to a fire. Only did one call to a crashed fighter plane. It was burned out by the time we got there. Was on a farm some miles away. Then I was Ambulance Driver for some months at the RAF Sick-Bay – was better than the fire engine. One day I was posted to another camp a place called Sturgate. Again with Lancaster Bombers. Not far from Gainsborough. Went there sometimes for a few hours – did different driving jobs there. Often to Lincoln and other RAF camps. Then I had a dose of boils about twelve to fourteen, was in hospital for six weeks. When discharged I went on seven days to Aunt Nellie’s in Manchester – I loved it. Back to Sturgate and was only back a few days when I was posted to a place called Norton Disney, a big bomb dump and was given a six wheel Austin lorry and trailer. From then on I was hauling various types of bombs every day – late and early to all the RAF bomber stations in Lincolnshire – was all go – no time to hang about, and some very heavy loads and never once did the lorry break down. Old Faithful. The lorry and trailer was often loaded at night and ready for you next morning. Often we would do two loads per day each lorry. All bomb goods were supplied to Hitler’s Germany with good wishes and we hoped he enjoyed their power. Posted back to RAF Sturgate. After a few weeks posted to RAF camp Balderton outside Newark. On a course to be a Corporal in RAF was there only a month and posted back to Sturgate – passed the course. The war was over then by some months and I was discharged from the Royal Air Force in December 1945. After six years. I must say I do not regret any of my time in RAF 909308 LAC. From leaving Liverpool to arriving in Suez. Distance 13,000 miles and three months sailing time – was glad to get off ship. MEDALS - Five War Medals 1) 1939 / 45 Star 2) Africa Star – Africa Clasp and Rosette 3) Italy Star 4) Defence Medal 5) War Medal 1939 / 1945 Joe Willis 10 February 1991