World War II Experiences
"Timeless Voices" Oral History Project

Interview with

Roy Casson, UK Friend of the 398th Bomb Group
Eighth Force

Interviewer: Marilyn Gibb-Rice

Interview conducted in
Beck Row, UK, April 2011


The 398th has been interviewing its members as part of the Timeless Voices of Aviation project. More information about the project and a current list of video interviews can be found at 398th Timeless Voices Interviews. In addition to the video interviews, some of the interviews have been transcribed to text.


Interview with

Roy Casson, UK Friend of the 398th Bomb Group
Eighth Air Force

Roy Casson was just a ten year old boy living near the airfield in a village called Anstey when the 398th was assigned to Station 131.

MG-R: Interviewer, Marilyn Gibb-Rice
RC: UK Friend of the 398th BG, Roy Casson
Time of Interview: 49:36

MG-R: My name is Marilyn Gibb-Rice, and today is April the 8th 2011, and we are in Beck Row, England and would you please introduce yourself.

RC: Hi I’m Roy Casson and I have been… had to do with, what’s being going on at station 131 since it was fields and trees. So we didn’t even know there was going to be an aerodrome built there. And all of a sudden we had all these lorries coming past and laden with bits and pieces and trees and soil and so on, and so forth. But as a young kid I mean I was eight, nine, ten years old. The big fun was hanging on the back of these trucks and just jumping off at the end and we didn’t care, they didn’t care, nobody cared. So it kept us busy.
So we eventually learnt that this was going to be an aerodrome with Americans living there, whoever they were. Still, we certainly sort of saw all these funny men, sort of walking about with a strange uniform on. Speaking “hey kid” and all that sort of foreign language, you know and, but, we thought, who are they…who are they… anyway? I think someone must of asked who they were. So they were American, in fact they were soldiers who built the airfield there and prior to that we had civilian people, who were chopping down trees and making things flat. The army came along, the American army and built the airfield and built the huts and, so then followed, that was the aeroplanes, which was the P-38 Lightnings. So they caused great excitement flying up and down and over and above and this, that, and the other.
But we gradually wedeled our way in, us kids, into the American people. Who are these… wearing these guns on the holsters and cowboy hats and things. But they appeared to be normal, I think they were mainly, but they were pretty good… to the kids. Well I first really came across them by, up in the wood in the pub, and I was young, eight, nine, ten year old with short trousers, and up the lane by the Woodman, there was a sort of big tent put up with food being handed out and drinks and whatnot and so I was standing... It was raining, I was standing underneath this tree from the rain and suddenly I heard, “hey kid, come on over, have a cup of coffee.” So I went over and had a cup of coffee and that was my first meeting really, with the American servicemen and from there it went oh, up, and up, and up. I spent most of my time up there at the end of the runway watching all the planes take off and land. Going round all the huts and the PX and theatres, and so on, and so forth.

MG-R: So they would let you on the base without any problems?

RC: If I was a German spy, I would have had the time of my life, because there was no security at all. In fact if we go on to when the P-38’s left and the 398 came in. It was such that on the 602 squadron which was the nearest to Anstey, where I used to live. So when I went on the camp, I used to go either the back gate, which is nearest to Anstey or just across the field to 602 squadron, and so I’d been there a few times and all of sudden I got a call from one of the airmen there, “come on over, come on over.” Took me in the Flying Fortress, sat me in the cockpit, co-pilot seat, press this, flick that, pump that, the engine started and I did that for the four engines and the ten year old boy started up a flying fortress. B17G was my god from then onwards and so I was forever hanging around 602 squadron, but I’d give my favours to all around the camp.
We had battle headquarters, who were in charge of the guns placed around the airfields and so I used to go on when they replaced the watch, as it were, to have a chat with them, have a laugh. Age old question, “Do you have a big sister?” “No. Oh, I’ve got an aunt.” “Yeah. Yeah, how old?” “About 20.” “Yeah, hey kid, have some candy, do you want a drink of coke?” “Sure thing.” And so that was the story, time, and time, and time again. I don’t want to give any… I won’t mention names, but the number of offers I got from these American GI’s to introduce them to my sister… my aunt and, so and as we lived in the pub at the time in Anstey, in the Chequers, so we used to get quite a few of them there, and I never did get a cut of the profits they made on the strength of visiting my aunt of twenty. So that was great, they used to bring candy and so on and so forth, and we had one guy who was a cook. I’m not sure whereabouts it was, but he was probably an old guy. They called him Pops, so he must of probably been in his thirties and he used to bring food from the Mess, and one time I think was at Christmas time, I was in the Mess and he gave me a big jug of ice cream, “Take this home”, “Yep, ok.” Took it home and finally finished with half a jug of ice cream. But, no it was pretty good. They used to feed me, I don’t know whether they… no I wasn’t skinny at the time. They used to feed me, I had a meal in the Officers Mess, didn’t like that too much, because I had to wash my hands. Which you don’t do when you’re a kid, when you eat. So anyway, wash my hands, he gave me a bowl of water. I washed my hands, took me along to the Mess Hall where the officers ate and all this food. I think I must of put on a couple of stone with just pure food eating. We didn’t… we saw things like fruit cocktails, sweet corn, big steaks, pork chops. I can remember walking along, this was from another Mess, I suppose. Big sandwiches of… big slice of pork in the middle, just walking along chomping this, it was great. Well I always termed this as a… as a show, a musical show, put on at theatres, called Oh What A Lovely War and that is my title of anything, of the sort of war I helped.
I saw no British people, apart from once, through the village there was a convoy of soldiers went through. We saw the odd dog fight in the distance. I don’t know whether they were ours or the Americans or what, but, so they only signs of war was when I used to watch them coming back. How some of these B-17s got back, I don’t know. I even remember seeing that B-17 with the front all blown away, I can remember seeing that and you’d see them land, and the wheels fold up underneath and or they’d go off the runway and end up sticking up in the air and use to see them, ‘specially on the 602, when they came to the…where they got off, sort of jumping out of the plane, well, some of them were just falling out of the plane, so tired, you know. But they were nice enough to see a little kid sitting over there, so quite often, “Here, have some candy” ,“Uh, thank you.” But uh, this candy and chewing gum, is this thing about “Got any gum, chum?” I never did say that, I was quite shy as a young boy, so therefore I probably wouldn’t have said it, but you didn’t need to, you’d get it offered to you, so um.
I used to see the films up there in the camp theatre or but I was… they used to insist, if they said. “Where you going?” “Oh, we’re going to the pictures.” “What, pictures? No, you’re going to see the show, your going to see the show, not the pictures.” “Ok.” “How’d you get here?” “In a lorry.” “A what?” “A lorry.” “No, you don’t say lorry, you say truck. Ok, truck.” “Ok, ok I’ll go then, going to the show in a truck.” Cause they stop and pick you up you know, “Where you going?” And one great incident was, Bob Hope, he arrived and he was on a big trailer, and all guys had gathered around and there was a few of us kids sitting right on one side of the stage and I always remember him sort looks like Bing Crosby’s back yard with all of us kids round. So, but, sometimes I got used to, if there was a stage show on, kids were always sort of dragged up on to the stage, to make fools of themselves. So I was dragged up there once, this magician would do the five ring things and he said, “Do this, do that, do that.” And it came apart, magic. [scratching his head] “So, you got fleas.” “Hahaha, no.”... I was hitchin' my trousers up; “Mind your trousers don’t fall down.” “Hahaha.” They make good fun of us, but it’s all in good fun and sometimes we used to, if we couldn’t get in front of the screen to see the films, we’d sit behind. Watch them that way which was quite novel.

MG-R:Were they backwards?

RC: Well I can’t remember, I’d never thought about it actually.

MG-R: Do you remember what the films were that you saw?

RC: Oh yes I can. I can and some, the first film I saw that made me cry was Bambi, that was on the base. To Have and To Have Not, that was on the base. One or two others that I recall, which I can’t recall at the moment, of course. Yeah, so and… so I used to go to these shows and walk back home to Anstey, which I used to cut across the fields in the pitch dark, all through the little alley ways that there were on the base. The little pathways that they made, speaking of which one of the pathways, I can remember walking along and all of a sudden I heard this bugle sound over the Tannoy System and everybody stood to stop and stood to attention. No idea what it was. I still don’t really know what it was, so little me, I just stood there. I suppose I better stand still now. So every time I heard this, I was ready for it. I don’t know what it was, I don’t know what it was, anyway.

MG-R: Was a certain time of the day?

RC: A certain time of the day, yeah, but it wouldn’t have been first thing in the morning, because I wouldn’t be up first thing in the morning, but uh and speaking about being up, one night I was with some of them in one of the huts, and it was pouring with rain, and “You can’t go you’ll get soaking wet.” “I’ve got to go home.” “We’ll tell everybody at home where you are and you can sleep in this bed for the night.” And I gather that they were on some flight or other, so I slept in that bed. Why they didn’t take me home in the jeep or whatever they used, I don’t know, but they went off to Anstey, to the Chequers, and said “We’ve got your boy just sleeping and he’s ok.” And that happened a couple of times actually, at different times and each time they drove to Anstey. But why they didn’t, I’ll never know, but I used to leave there in the mornings, pockets full of this, that, and the other, all sorts of things that I had no use of, cigarettes, well they started me on Lucky Strikes. I think I was smoking Lucky Strikes and Camels and such, like, at about the age of nine. It took some effort, you know, but I got there in the end. I can remember, ‘cause I used to take puffs and it used to make me feel ill and whatnot, but I got used to them eventually.

MG-R:Did you get in trouble for smoking, when you got home?

RC: They didn’t know, did they.

MG-R: Oh.

RC: You don’t tell your parents. Well, I lived with me grandmother and grandfather there and um, he was also, he was a favourite with the Americans, but, he used to come out with some of these old musical songs, sort of one of his favourites was Henry the 8th, “I’m Henry the 8th, I am,” and he was good fun. He used to, I can tell when he’d had too much, he used to give me a glass of beer. So I was brought up on Taylor Walkers Bitter Beer, still, actually, he finished up looking after a little dog called Sneaky. Apparently one of the air crew brought one over, I believe there was a stop off at Iceland and they either picked this up, I believe they got the dog at Iceland and took it in the aeroplane with them, with the B-17 and brought it back to the UK as a pet, but eventually he had to go back to the States and so he used to bring his little dog for a drink and whatnot, but, and before he left, he left it with my grandfather to look after, which is nice. MG-R:Do you remember what kind of dog it was?

RC: No, it was a little black thing, about a foot high or so, I don’t know what sort of, little black scotty or something.

MG-R:So it was your grandfather that had the pup.

RC: Yes, well he didn’t, his wife, my grandmother, she really ran it. I mean he was a rag and bone man. Jimmy Sweep, and you name it, he did it, I used to go around with him, with his horse and cart, I could sweep a chimney at the age of eleven it was good living in the pub.

MG-R: What do you mean by rag and bone?

RC: Well, during the war, we… someone or other used to collect rags, bottles, bones, to help the war industry, somehow or other, and rabbit skins, of course, rabbits were almost our common food for us, I mean at harvest time, we would go around trying to kill rabbits, to eat as food, but the skins, again, I don’t know what they did with them, but we would pay sixpence of the old money, sixpence for a rabbit skin, and then eventually someone would come along and my grandfather would give them all these rabbit skins, probably pay him about threepence for one of them and similar things with rags and bottles and they were all recycled to do, for the war effort basically, but uh, so that was firstly the story of 398. I mean, when 398 finished It was sort of a shock to the system really, I mean, you would walk around the camp, it was empty, the huts were empty and then eventually they got some prisoners of war, Italian prisoners of war, they took part of it over, but they had lots of freedom, I mean, they come around in the village. Would you believe I loaned, I had a bicycle at the time, I loaned my bike to an Italian prisoner of war, I mean…

MG-R: Did you get it back?

RC: I got it back. See, the Italians, I mean, they loved being there. They didn’t have to fight anybody, they didn’t get killed. So it was a safe place for them.

MG-R: Yeah

RC: Part of the base went to displaced persons, from various Eastern European countries and then it became a bomb dump. I think the RAF took over then, on the main runway there was bombs all down each side of the runway. Speaking of bombs, turning to bullets and shells, we used to find, remember how old we were, we used to find ammunition used in both the 55th fighter group, which I believe were cannons, Uh they had little tops to the head of the shell, which we would unscrew, take the detonator out, put it on the floor, throw stones at it, until it banged and the gunpowder in the shell itself, we would empty on the floor, we would get a match to it, great fun, and some of the B-17 shells. They had different colours to the points of the shell itself. So we knew what, which were which, but, so we used to bang, bang them on the ground and take the top off, the shell itself, off and empty the shell case, more gunpowder, great fun.

MG-R:You were creating your own fireworks.

RC: Yeah, Yeah and occasionally we used to find flares. I can never understand how we got these, but we did. Every kid who was worth his money, whatever, would have a stock of live bullets, shells. Luckily we didn’t have any bombs, we couldn’t carry the bombs. But to think these days, of a young boy of eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, knocking the heads of shell cases. And of course, I mean we were supplied with things like matches and cigarettes and lots of these things. There was a dump, just outside the camp. Its now a golf place, golf course and it looks, it looked, from looking back on, it must of looked like you see all these scavengers in European countries, scrabbling for food and this, that, and the other. But we were the same, but it wasn’t just food. The stuff that the Americans threw away… military is absolute, was absolutely amazing. I mean there was clothes, there was cigarettes, there was matches. A lot of obviously things that belonged to possibly those who got killed or something other, was thrown away. Obviously personal possession’s and we used to be scrounging around for all sorts of things like this. I mean, I had a dagger, the blade must have been a good six inches long. I don’t know who would have had a dagger from that lot, but anyway, I had it for about a week until it was taken off me, because they didn’t think a ten year old should have a dagger swinging from his belt.

MG-R: So were you ever there when the planes took off, in the mornings?

RC: Sometimes, but not the early mornings. I mean there were days when we weren’t there. When we had to go to school, I’m afraid it got a bit boring, but, so I think the take-off, we saw more landings than take-offs, but it depends. I mean the time of day, I mean you’d see the odd one just be flight testing or whatever. We used to go down to the two hangers and watch them doing all sorts of repairs. I fact they had a P-38 lying outside, upside down for some reason or other. I don’t know why but I climbed inside and I sat in an upside down P-38, I’ll have you know, which is quite interesting.

MG-R: Not to many people can say they’ve done that.

RC: No, but it was, it was a great time. We didn’t have the Italian prisoners of war wasn’t so accommodating, but with the Americans, they did us really proud. I had an aunt who used to work in the red cross there and she told me not so long ago actually, that they had money stopped from their pay, to pay out for parties and dances and so on and so forth, that they held on the base and the kids were forever being entertained by them, especially at Christmas and we used to come away with fruit tins of this, tins of that. Probably even a bag of cigarettes, for our dad or something like that. Which probably didn’t get to anyway, but still that’s another story. So I was, I started smoking at nine, I suppose and went on till about five years ago. I decided I’d had enough, but we had the occasional cigar, but that was a bit too much for us, so usually our grandparents or fathers or whatever, they used to have the cigars, but we didn’t get much liquor. I wonder why? Perhaps they kept their liquor rather than give it away.

MG-R: Mm, probably.

RC: They were quite happy giving packs of cigarettes away. I don’t remember why, yeah, I had, I was at the hospital, had a scratch, they…they started it. I mean they’d see a scratch, we’d probably gone through barbed wire or something other or hedges to get to somewhere. We’d get scratched at the hospital, they put some stuff on it and I’d go in, have a chat to some of the guys in there, in the beds, who had been shot up or whatever and that was quite good.

MG-R: And do you recall any incidents, like crashes or near crashes while you lived there?

RC: The one that crashed in Anstey, uh, that was quite something. I lived, the pub was about a couple of hundred yards away from where a fortress crashed. Uh, there was this bang and it was a big bang and lots of little bangs, where all the shells and whatnot were exploding and I could see out of my window, sort of smoke coming up from, a couple of hundred yards away and then someone came through the village on their bike shouting, “Stay away from your windows, keep in your house.” The plane crashed and it was on its way out, so it’s loaded with bombs. Lucky, I don’t know whether it’s lucky or not, but none of the bombs went off. I believe a lot of them sort of rolled down into the moat, because it crashed on top of a hill with a moat ‘round the outside and eventually they were fishing bombs out of the water. No one was aloud on there for a couple of days, but prior to that saying within an hour, I was out of bed and out of the house and got to near as I could. I did see one pretty horrible site of one of the crew, obviously one of the crew had all sort of blackened and whatnot, horrible site, but it was chaos. There was ambulances, there was fire engines, there was trucks. There was people rushing about all over the place, but it wasn’t until that couple of days afterwards, that obviously the kids, what’s there, what’s there, what’s there and I picked up a watch band. The inside was out, but there was a spring loaded wrist and I kept that for quite a while. I got a parachute, which I eventually sold. Well I kept all the ropes or whatever they’re called from the parachute. That was strong stuff, so it was useful. The silk part of it went to some woman no doubt and made into articles of ladies dress, but you found odds and sods scattered round, all over the place, as you did. I mean as soon as a plane crashed, you were on your bike, or if you didn’t have one, running towards it to see what you could scavenge, mainly Perspex from the cockpits, because we used to make all sorts of things with it.

MG-R:What would you make with it?

RC: Or rings, anything that didn’t require a thickness or I think I recall making a knife. Just cutting away with it, and all sorts of things were made, and photo frames. It was quite a good collection, people used to go for those bits, probably that might have been where we got some of our ammunition from I expect. But, there was one or two did crash around the outskirts of Anstey, well on the outskirts of Nuthampstead. It seems a shame in hindsight, that they should get so near and yet there must have been at least half a dozen planes that crashed within…within a couple of miles of the airfield.

MG-R: So it was mostly when they were coming back? And this would happen, do you think they ran out of fuel?

RC: Could well have done… but a lot of them were… were, you would see them… you would see them land, just two engines and quite a lot…quite a lot with three engines coming to land. They, I suppose would be overheating and whatnot, but it all seems so sad that they get so near…but uh…

MG-R:So did you stay in touch? I mean were any of them, you got close enough to, that you stayed in touch with after they went home?

RC: Uh, funnily enough no. I mean we knew, we knew Pop, who was the one of the cooks, another guy called shoes, for some reason or another, probably big feet and we as a family, I mean there was my grandmother, grandfather and my aunt. She had a autograph book full of names and messages in it and only two years ago she threw it away and I did my nut, because it had these guys names and little poems and oh, it would of have been so nice to have taken a sheet out to send back to either to them, if they were still alive, or to their wives, or something like that. Oh, it so annoyed me, but we have a few photographs knocking about. But I don’t think even my aunt, she married one of the guys, the English guys who was chopping down the trees initially, but its amazing really that we didn’t have any contact. I don’t know why, but young people even then, I don’t think they were into writing letters and they were basically, well the air crew was especially, were all young guys, but um, I don’t know, it seems a bit peculiar really because there were some, a few marriages between them. In fact, there was even one or two marriages between the Italian prisoners of war, which didn’t go down all that well, but uh.

MG-R: So did it change, obviously it changed a lot once the Americans left.

RC: It uh, I think the pubs would probably hang out a big black flag because they… unless they were complete idiots, must of made a bomb out of. It’s funny I should say bomb, but out of the Americans, because they almost edged out your locals. I mean, they all had there favourite pub. I mean, wherever you would go around Anstey, Nuthampstead, Brent Pelham, Meesden, Royston, all that area. I mean, the pubs were always, I mean they had well, 3000 guys, certainly well into the four figures. You’ve got to have a drink somewhere.

MG-R: Do you remember how many pubs were in Anstey?

RC: Anstey, there were… well, there’s one right on the outskirts of Anstey. You probably wouldn’t have called it Anstey. In Anstey itself, there was just Chequers and The Bell. The Bell was really a quaint old pub, which you used to go in and you could hardly see anything. The lighting was by a candle and the glass of beer was brought straight from the barrel, straight into, I mean I don’t think many Americans went there because they couldn’t see much with candles. But now there’s, just see, there was one in Nunthampstead which obviously, The Woodman. There was two in Anstey, there was, well almost every village had at least one.

MG-R: So did you play games with them, with the Americans? Like, did you ever play baseball or watch them play?

RC: No, I used to be called upon quite frequently, to blow into the hand of a man holding the dice for luck. I never did get a cut of any winnings, which is rather mean, but no, they would be outside the Chequers [pub] as it was called, and they used to put the dice in the hand and shake it up, blow on it… up against the wall and I don’t really know the rules of the game. But I don’t think I actually ever saw a baseball match or a football match, but there must have been going on there. Pets, a couple had monkeys and where these would have come from I don’t know, but there was certainly. Oh, the other thing, I found a hand grenade, a live hand grenade. Which… I was walking from the wood across the runway up to the back gate and on the ground, now… whether or not this was a used for any training of the military, before they came or what because it wasn’t an American one. It was a British one and there was another boy with me and we were umming and ahhing as to whether we should take the pin out and throw it. I mean… so we’d had all these shells of whatnot, that we were messing a bit, why not a hand grenade. So we ummed and ahhed, we decided not to anyway. So we went to the back gate, showed the guy on the gate, we found this and he nearly jumped out of his skin. He sorted of ranted and raved, take it away, take it away. I said no, we’re giving it to you, we don’t want it. So he got onto his telephone thing, that he was winding up, in a high voice, “There’s some kids here with a hand grenade, what do I do?” So apparently, he’d been told to, if it’s, if the pin is still in, to take it from the kids and we’ll come and collect it. So we just gave him it and we went off, but that was quite an exciting bit and I presume they were MP’s but there was a place in the woods, where they had a little lake thing with an island in the middle. I can remember there was a presumably it was an MP he had one of those big 45’s strapped to his belt and he let us, he took the bullets out of course, he wasn’t a fool and he let us sort of play round with this. So we learnt how to how to shoot, although we didn’t actually do it. A 45. We learnt some good things from the Americans, yeah.

MG-R:I hope not all bad habits, like the smoking, so that was good.

RC: Well. I think it, you can’t say that they discouraged us, but I think they used to enjoy seeing these little kids, choking their insides out with these strong American cigarettes, but uh, and so they gave us a good time. We missed them when they went, everybody missed them when they went.

MG-R:And did they kind of all go at one time or did they slowly phase them out?

RC: They certainly didn’t all go at one time, they went in dribs and drabs. What they did do, which was questionable, instead of taking a lot of stuff back to the States. They dug a big hole and put it in. And this aunt of mine that worked in the red cross, what do you want to do, you want to get your metal detector and go up in the woods there, where the bombs were, because they dug a big hole and the stuff that they put in there, brand new stuff and they just covered over. Cheaper than taking it back I suppose, but uh.

MG-R:They could have at least donated it, or sold it to the English people or something, instead of just burying it.

RC: They could’ve done, they could’ve done, but I don’t… I don’t think that there was a system in existence that allowed for that sort of thing. So what do we do, well let’s bury it, forget it.

MG-R: I thought it was really… I understand why the winters… when they… when the 398 were there, was really bad and really cold?

RC: Yeah, that was the one hate they had was the English weather and especially when they were building the camp itself. It was really bad mud, mud, mud and to… I mean they, well I mean, the vehicles that they had, made things worse because they had to build new roads throughout the camp to drive on. I mean there were, there were little roads towards the camp, from various directions, which two vehicles couldn’t pass, they were that narrow. They’d only been used as horse and carts, we didn’t have all these great big vehicles but uh, they…they had to really make concrete paths because of the weather. With a lot of men walking on mud and whatnot, it soon turned out to mud and slush and what have you, especially in the winter time.

MG-R: Where in that… Nuthampstead… the base was, previously, what was that area?

RC: Half, about half of it, in the actual airfield itself, ignoring the living quarters, probably half of that had been wood wooded area. So, they… a lot preliminary work was done… is chopping down trees, but then the rest of it was, it was quite a big camp actually, quite a big camp.

MG-R:And was it on farmland? Is that what they took over?

RC: Yeah.

MG-R: Basically farmland.

RC: Yeah.

MG-R:So, what happened? Do you think like the owners of the land, if they normally farmed that, then they lost like that income, for all those years that they were there?

RC: They were, I think they were what they call, compulsory purchased the land, on a ‘we will give it to you back’, at the end of the war, which is what happened. I mean there was nothing, there was nothing grown inside of the whole area from the external hut to the far side of the bomb dump and sort of going round in a circle if you like, that there was nothing, nothing grown, most of it was grown on the outside area of the base itself.

MG-R: So how’ve you stayed in touch or how did you get involved in the 398th once they started coming back over and everything.

RC: I don’t know what started it off. I certainly, probably because I didn’t know, because I moved away in about 1947- 48 and so I didn’t really know what was going on and I was away in the Air Force, because I joined up in the Air Force when I was 15 and for the next 14 years I was, apart from the couple of years in Australia. I got posted to, scattered in, went to various camps around the countryside so I didn’t really know what was going on here, with the veteran situation, with the 398. I eventually got to, It might have been because I became interested in the Sally B which was a return in my mind to the boyhood days, so I mean, as it was a great thing, a great aircraft, when I was ten, it was still a great love when ah, I got to know about Sally B and so I got involved with that, and I joined as a friend of Sally B, was to them and ah, then it was then, that I heard about the 398 ah, visits over and ah, specifically their Anstey visits, because they used to have, well they still do don’t they, the service in the church, Anstey church and I’d always wanted to sort of pay back what I got from them in those child years and not payback just for me but from all the other kids around the area, because we did have it we had it good, we didn’t really want for anything, I mean probably some of us even had American socks or American shirt or something or American hat or whatever, and the, I saw this, I went to this service at Anstey and then they all piled on to a bus and without any preparation whatsoever, I thought I know what I’ll do, I’ll say a little thankyou in the bus, so I got on the bus and sort of got their attention as it were. I forget how, but I made this little speech about us kids and what the veterans did for us, when they were here, and various other things and thank you, thank you, thank you, oh god bless you all and great things, which sort of took me by surprise I didn’t realise, well I hadn’t thought until I had about notice as myself, I had about ten seconds before I decided and I just jumped in and then got all this applause and so I think it started there really and so I started getting the Flak magazine and I wrote a sort of a longish actually I wrote it when I was on holiday in Malta and I just sat down and got the hotel paper and wrote this big long four or five page letter and sent it off to Flak and they published it and it went from there and I met Wally [Wally Blackwell, past 398th BGMA President] and he sort sent… we passed emails from one to the other, sort of saying what was going on and Allen Ostrom the editor and whatnot, that basically, what started it all off and hopefully will continue until no one is left.

MG-R: We’re about out of time, so is there anything else. I mean do you want to say something to the veterans, hopefully some of them will see this.

RC: Yeah, I would.


RC: I would like… because I’ve never actually had apart from Allen and Wally, sort of thanked the veterans for what they did to us kids, what they did at Christmas time, how they supplied us with shells and bullets and whatnot and the food that we got from them. You gave us a lovely war guys and I thank you from the bottom of my heart and for all the other kids who are now coming up to your age, and don’t we feel it, but thanks anyway.



See also:
  1. Flak News article; "School Boy Remembers Yanks Who Came To Nuthampstead"
  2. Return to 398th Timeless Voices Interviews to view and listen to the interview.


  1. Roy Casson is a UK Friend of the 398th Bomb Group.
  2. The above transcription was provided by Lara Allan, August 5, 2014. Lara is a volunteer transcriber
  3. The transcription was obtained from a video file.
  4. Punctuation, grammar and minor word changes may have been made to improve readability.
  5. Additional information may be shown in brackets [ ].