Douglas Radcliffe was 17 years and 11 months old when he volunteered in 1941. He was a wireless operator.
As a wireless operator my job was to receive messages – the only time you transmitted was if it was an SOS. Your main job was as the liaison officer in the aircraft. Every 15 minutes there would be a coded transmission from base, which might be information to help the navigator, or you might be told that an airfield had been put out of action and you had to land somewhere else. You could also tune in to beacons which transmitted signals to help locate your position, and I would also keep checking the rear gunner to make sure he was alright.
They always said you could tell a wireless operator by looking at his boots – the heating duct for the cockpit came out by my left foot, and it would partly melt the rubber sole of your boot. It meant I was always roasting, while the rear gunner would be freezing.
The biggest problem we had flying over Italy was the fighters. Whenever you had to join another crew you would always find that they had lost someone during a fighter attack. We got damaged once, on one of the wings, and we never knew what it was that had done it. A lot of people who got shot down never knew what hit them.
When we attacked targets it would be at such a low level that the gunners would be firing at targets on the ground. The bomb aimers, who doubled as the front gunners, had a particularly busy time.
People say to me that it must have been terrible, but it wasn’t terrible. We knew the dangers but at that age you just don’t think about it. You always convinced yourself that people who were missing would have bailed out safely.
Vandals wrote the word ‘Islam’ on the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park today. Police say they are not sure who committed the crime (Daily Mail)
UPDATE: British authorities began clean-up on the war memorials on Tuesday.