Nancy Sue Hano
Riverdale, New York USA
INTERVIEW WITH A WORLD WAR 11 COMBAT PILOT : NIGHTMARES AND DREAMS
What war were you in? World War 11. What did you do in the War? RAF Combat Pilot. Where were you in the War? European Theater? What did you do in the war? Flew combat missions over Germany, France The Netherlands. What experience in the war to you remembers the most? What comes to your mind now of a past war experience? Being shot down over North West Germany, crashing on a beach, making my way to Denmark and avoiding capture by moving at night. In a years time how many times do you remember this event? 4 or 5 times I suppose.
What person in the war do you remember most that you met?
A German Pilot named Herman Witte.
Why? Why do you remember him?
Because on the 2nd occasion when I was shot down over the English Channel, I was lucky enough to land or crash I should say, near a Red Cross boat. Anchored in the channel. When I clamored aboard and opened the door into the cockpit Herman Witte was sitting at a table. He had been shot down about an hour before I was. We became friends, corresponded after the War.
Did you ever hear from him recently?
One of those things you don't keep up correspondence.
Would you like to find him now?
I don't want an 80-year-old friend.
What was your most terrifying experience in the war?
After crashing on the beach in North West Germany It took me 4 days to reach the boarder of Denmark. On the 4th day I woke up in the sand hills and four men were standing over me with rifles. One of them spoke broken English said he was part of the Danish resistance. And I was to stay where I was until Dark. I didn't know whether they were part of the resistance or not.Or if they would simply come back and shoot me.
Wouldn't they have shot you then if they weren't the resistance?
I don't know why they didn't;
Didn't you think that they were ok since they didn't' shoot you?
Well I had no idea what they were going to do.
In fact they did come back and took me to the local police station telling me that was the last place the Germans would look for me.And three days later I was picked up by the royal Navy.
And taken back to England.
How many time in a year do you recall this incident?
Do you ever dream about the war?
What are your dreams about?
Crashing on the Beach.
Is it an actual dream of what happened?
So you dream about the past crash you had on the beach?
How many times a year?
I think I said 6.
Is it a nightmare or just a dream?
It's a nightmare.
The plane is on fire.
Do you feel the flames the heat of the flame in your dream?
No I don't think so
But you experience and re experiencing the fear>
The whole left side of the wing and engine were on fire.
When do you wake up from the dream what is happening in the dream when you wake up?
Are you rescued or is the plane on fire?
When you wake up what part of the past are you reliving?
The fire or the rescue?
When I wake up the dream always ends with the German solider on a small bridge whistling tune that I have never been able to identify though I have tired very hard in the years that have past.
Didn't you recognize the song at a concert last year?
I don't think so no.
Didn't you say that the tune in the concert was the same the German was wishing?
I'm not certain Nambuko it was called.
So that was not the tune the German was whistling. No I remember the tune ...
He sings it.
And it was not nambuko.
Would you like to find the tune?
We can go to a music store and see if they know what it is since you can hum it.
What was your happiest experience in the war?
I think the day I graduated and got my RAF wings.
Were there any happy days while fighting?
When you were actually in the war? Were there any happy experiences?
Well there were many occasion when I was flying towards a specific target with no enemy planes around and I could just enjoy being alone above the clouds.Do you remember a specific flight when you were alone above the clouds now?
Can you recall a flight? A time when you were there?
Flying above the clouds?
Describe it to me?
I was flying out of an airfield in Scotland near Inverness. On a mission to intercept German navel forces in the North Sea.What happened?
I remember just pulling back the window by my side and feeling the cold air blowing in. And actually playing small maneuvers as I headed into the German fleet. What did you feel?
I felt completely free.
How many times a year to you recall this experience, flying over North Sea?
20 tines I suppose.
This exact experience?
Well the experience of feeling free above the clouds.
Do you want to fly a plane again to feel this?
Do you ever dream about it?
Yes I do. Pleasant dreams.