Dictionary of Sydney

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Mrs Lillian Watson recalls an American Air Force plane crash during World War II, interviewed 1986

Mrs Lillian Dulcie Watson was born in 1904 and interviewed in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900 to 1960.' Mrs Watson was witness to the crash of an American Air Force plane, due to engine failure over Hammondville, during World War II.

INTERVIEWER: Do you recall the plane crashing?

LILLIAN: Down the back here? Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me a bit about that?

LILLIAN: Yes, I can remember that quite well. It was night time, or dusk, and an air raid warning went and of course the next thing you see all these planes and this plane came round over the house and you could sort of hear the wheels, it wasn't very far off the roof. The next thing we heard Bang! Of course all the kids were out like a shot out of a gun, they were going no matter what happened, they were going to see what happened, and of course they came home and all the tales they came home to tell us. Some gruesome tales they were, some of them. Anyhow, they came home and they had bullets, all sorts of bits and pieces they had, they brought home for souvenirs. I didn't know what to do about them. 'Well' I said, 'You're not taking them into the house, you can put them out in the shed.' A couple of days afterwards, a chap came knocking on the door. He was an American negro, and he said to me 'You got children?', a very abrupt sort of a man he was. I said 'Yes' . He said 'Have they been down the scrub (as he called it)?' And I said 'Oh yes, naturally,' I said, 'All the children have been down there.' He said 'Have they brought anything home from the wreck?'. I said 'Yes'. He said 'You know you can't have them. They belong to the American camp.' I said 'Oh well, you better come and take them'. So he came out and he had a big box and he lumbered all this stuff into the box and he said 'Thank you, you'll hear more about this.' I said 'Oh boy'. So when Don [son] came home from school, because the first thing, all the kids dive out to the shed to see all their souvenirs. And he came in and he said 'What happened to all our things'. I said 'Oh, a chap came and took them all away.' 'Oh, he had no right to do that, we found them!' But they took them just the same; but he never ever came back, we never heard any more about it.

Contributed By
(Excerpt from interview with Mrs Lillian Watson from the 'Looking back at Liverpool : an oral history of the Liverpool region 1900-1960' conducted in 1986 by Liverpool City Council, editor and project co-ordinator Catherine Johnson ; researchers Angela Imbrosciano, Verica Miiosavijevic, Kathleen Smith)