Sir Freddie






Q: The interesting thing about your experience is that this is three years after the war in which the Germans were the enemy. What was your feeling towards the Germans at the time? You were feeding them.

A: My feelings about the Germans when I first came to the blockade were that, I'd never been among 'em, who are these supermen? How they're going to come on board and unload that flour and steer us down and what are they going to be really like? So my feelings weren't too good towards the Germans - from day one. With all the problems that we'd had with the, with the war and so forth, and that was a very unique experience. The first landing at Tempelhof with a load of flour and all these unloaders came on, the volunteers to unload, and we came out the cockpit and watched them unload. And they - before they unload they came up to us, and would, almost tears in their eyes and looked at us like we're angels from heaven, put out their hand, and we didn't understand a word of the language but we understand the feeling. And it was a most unusual feeling, one that turned me around completely after just about two trips into Berlin - that we're working for a common cause, that we're people, that human beings, no matter what side of the border you live on, the spirit's there. The people are people; it's the system that gets us fouled up. And that feeling of working for a common goal, day and night through thunderstorms and bad weather, whatever. It was a thing that I guess, it's hard to explain, it's one that you don't often receive: feeling good about a really rough situation. And that's what my fellow pilots felt that way, and the ground crew folks felt that way, that we're doing something for somebody that, not only appreciates, they're just loving what you're doing, and you for doing that. So it was a great feeling. It was a tough time, but that kind of feeling kept the people dedicated day and night to what they were doing. Without complaint. I didn't hear any pilot complain about flying all night or the storms - for the purpose for which they were doing. So it was a time to heal the, the wounds of war. It was the bridging the gap of not understanding, and understand that people have common needs wherever they are, and these people wanted freedom. And for that feeling this was the pivotal point, this was the crucial part of the Cold War in my view, the uniting of understandings and that the Berlin blockade brought the British and Americans and the French and the Germans together and brought them to a common goal and united them and the movement that went from there on was the strong allies of the Germans that was the pivotal point, I believe, in the Cold War, in the change and the turn around and what was to follow. Berlin was the focal point for freedom. They were right there deep in the Iron Curtain with the largest force of Soviet might assembled anywhere, including the Soviet Union, in that space in East Germany, aircraft, tanks, you name it, three hundred thousand troops and there maintain that island of freedom, that point of the spear that was to expand later that the fall of the Wall and the whole ... If the Berlin airlift hadn't have happened, and that support provided, if we'd have backed out of there, if the politicians had pulled back, the British and American politicians were locked together in a common purpose, and the French agreed with 'em - they couldn't do very much at that time, but the British and Americans were working together, along with the French but, that determination, without that the world would be a different world today. It's just that clear in my view. It'd be totally different world if they hadn't have done it. And of course we loved President Truman, the pilots, because we'd come through the corridor and were flying over fighter fields, on to the ..., loaded with Yaks, as many as they could get on to the field, you'd come up and have a Yak'd come head on with you, right nose to nose and the last minute would peel off; or come up behind you so you couldn't see him, and then come up over the wing. But they didn't shoot, and they didn't - the reason they didn't shoot is th