Recorded memoirs of Roger Freeman (MC 376/523)
Recorded memoirs of Roger Freeman
1 compact cassette
1 Sep 1997
2nd Air Division Memorial Library/Sound recordings collected by the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library
Roger Freeman outlines his personal background and education and working on his father's farm at Dedham, Essex. Comments on availability of farm labour. Comments on the attitudes of British people to Americans. Recalls visit to Horham airfield, Suffolk, 1942: going inside A-20 Havoc aircraft at the invitation of his uncle (a former RAF Squadron Leader responsible for opening airfields up to the USAAF). Recalls witnessing the construction of Dedham airfield, winter 1942/1943, and hoping for RAF occupation with Spitfires and Lancaster bombers. Recalls arrival of B-26 Marauders, P-51 Mustangs and P-47 Thunderbolts. Recalls cycling to airfields at weekends in what was a popular 'collecting game' for boys, making notes in his diary. Remarks on differences between attitudes of American GIs and RAF servicemen to interacting with children. Relates stories of kindness shown by American servicemen, including pilot Richard Heinemann, who invited him and a friend to the airbase. Comments on the perception of American servicemen as 'womanizers'. Recalls stories of American servicemen and their experiences of local pubs. Refers to American taste in beer, rationing and memorable occurrences including a cowboy lassoing and elderly farm labourer and GIs getting a lift back to base in his father's car. Remarks on British perception of Americans based on Hollywood films. Comments on GI brides, of which there were several in his village, and the availability of prostitutes. Refers to behind the scenes barter and trade for foodstuffs. Relates impressions of American servicemen on the 'backward' nature of rural English domestic sanitation. Discussion of differences between road use by the British and Americans. Recalls fatal road incident in which the American driver of a laundry truck encountered his first roundabout and lost control, landing on railway tracks. Recalls his personal lack of understanding of the losses suffered by the USAAF, and learning that pilot, Richard Heinemann was killed in action. Recalls instances of enemy action locally, including fatal attack at local airfield and a bomb landing in farmland. Recalls air crashes, including fighter pilot Jack Bradley who suffered head injuries. Recalls the impact of the 'US invasion' on small villages and feelings of sorrow at them leaving. Roger Freeman was born in May 1928 and privately educated until the age of 15 years when he went to work on his father's farm. His uncle was a former RAF Squadron Leader and responsible for opening airfields up to the USAAF. Horham airfield (Station no. 119) in Suffolk was a USAAF 12th Air Force station housing the 47th Bomb Group, the 95th Bomb Group and the 323rd Bomb Squadron. Richard Heineman referred to in the interview may have been Lt Richard M. Heineman, a pilot in the 56th Fighter Group, who was killed in action, 22 May 1944. Jack Bradley referred to in the interview may have been the fighter ace Capt Jack T. Bradley, who was a pilot in the 353rd Fighter Group. Jack Bradley was formerly a bomber pilot with the 93rd Bomb Group. The P-47 'Thunderbolt' fighter aeroplanes at Dedham were the first committed to action from England. Recorded on side A only.