Don Looker - Crewing up

Running time
2 min 19 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We were told one day, "Look all the air crew will gather in a room on a place called Wing," in Buckinghamshire, I think it was. Or, I'm not sure, but I think Buckinghamshire or Bedfordshire. "All air crew will assemble here." When we got there, they said, "Alright, crew up. Two gunners, a wireless operator, a navigator, a bomber and a pilot." So the first thing to do was find a pilot. And I was the last one to find a pilot, and I chose this elderly bloke.

Most of the other fellows had chosen young daring blokes. I was looking for a nice steady guy, and I chose a bloke called Jim Robson from Perth. He was then a flying officer and I had done about, oh, nearly 400 hours flying by then. And I thought I was pretty experienced, and I said, "If you're the last bloke, so I got you as a pilot." I said, "But I'm fairly experienced. I've got nearly 400 hours." He said, "I've got seven thousand hours."

He'd been in England quite a while before me and he'd been an instructor flying, training pilots on Tiger Moths, and so he was a very experienced pilot. And a very good pilot, too. So I chose, well he chose me or accepted me, really. And then he said, "Well, I've got a navigator," and that was a lad from Kent, and he was a wonderful navigator. Probably the best one in squadron. And then he already had two gunners. One bloke had been a Yeoman of Signals in the Navy. Another lad was a Londoner, and one came from Derby. And so we finished up with a crew of seven.

And then we started flying together, and on our first flight, I think, at Wing we burst a tire approaching. And that was a bit of an adventure, holding the plane still. And we went from there to flying on Sterlings and Lancasters … when I look back, I think the Lancaster was probably the best aircraft, or one of the best aircrafts that was ever built. It's a wonderful plane.

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