The video-taped interview


My initial correspondance from Roy Shillinglaw

Castletown, Isle of Man, May 1988

Dear Mr Wilson,

What a pleasant surprise to receive your letter. I remember your father very well indeed. He was three or four years older than me when I joined 100 Squadron in june 1918 aged exactly 19. He left us 6 or 7 weeks later for Home Establishment having done his "stint" and just as we were converting from 2 seater FE2B's to Handley Pages. July that year was very hot indeed and he and I were in a party of 10 or so who used to go swimming in the Moselle River near Toul which was about 15 miles from our operational aerodrome at Ochey. Somewhere I have a photograph of him, myself and another in the water. If I can find it (I have looked) eventually I will send it on to you!

Your father thoroughly deserved his gong. He was very well liked and popular with we junior officers. The squadron was excellent and very like a house at school in its atmosphere. I went to King William's college here from where I joined the RFC in june 1917. Little did I think that some day I would retire here as a "loner". Unfortunately I lost my wife in 1962 and all my 5 children have gone too.

Your father was with us when we moved down south to Xaffévillers on 10th Aug 1918 and left us a week later.

At Ochey we had our planes hidden in cuttings in the forest having been bombed out of our hangers the other side of the 'drome when all our 18 machines were destroyed. Our mess and quarters were also about 1/4 of a mile in the forest, That night we left on 10th Aug for Xaffévillers the place (cuttings in the trees and our quaters) was bombed to smithereeens but we were laughing 50 miles to the south!

I have visited 100 Sqdn twice at Wyton near Huntingdon, Camb: to celebrate their 70th Anniversary. I asked the CO where were some of my old buddies and he said they had searched the country and they are all dead and that I was the only one left. I was amazed when they originally 'phoned me in their search.

I should be delighted to see you sometime if you ever felt like coming over as my guest. I am tied up over Easter, June, July and Aug with friends and family, for living in IOM I am very popular! Do come along sometime.

Unfortunately I am prone to black-outs and falls having had 8 during the last 18 months, the last one a week ago and badly bruised hence the delay in answering your letter! Go out like a light without warning. Last April in hospital for 10 days. Nevertheless, the medics say I can still drive my car. Our mileage here is very limited and my car merely for convenience. Of about 1000-1500 M.P.A.

Thank you so much for writing to me.

Yours sincerely

Roy Shillinglaw

Next time I am in Douglas here I will order the book "Airmans War" by Peter Liddle.

In the "Annals of 100 Squadron" is a photo of a 1650 LB crater at Kaiserlauten. I primed and dropped this and another one later. There were only 10 of these dropped on the whole front.


When I received this letter was very excited. and determined to visit Roy as soon as possible.
I telephoned him straightaway and he kindly agreed for me to visit him at once. He added that he would meet me at the airport. "You'll recognise me by my RFC tie." he said.
Armed with video camera and a list of questions from Peter Liddle (author of "Airmans War") I set out to fly from Heathrow to the Isle of Man.

The next few days were passed in the company of Roy Shillinglaw, a delightful old man in his nineties, chatting away for hours about his experiences in the First World War and indeed from throughout his most interesting and unique life.

I have recently undertaken the arduous but utterly compelling task of transcribing the video tapes (that I took as a record of our conversations in 1988) so as to publish them here. Roy had very kindly suggested that I set up my camera in his cosy dining room, where we proceeded to smoke and drink our way through the evenings. I was able to ask Roy many questions which were personally relevant, seeing as he had known my late father as a young man, and also I could obtain answers from him as regards the many written technical questions that historian Kevin Kelly (assistant to Peter Liddle, author of the Sunderland University archives) had sent me to ask him.

Here is the..

 Interview Index
 Transcript 1
 Transcript 2
 Transcripts 3 & 4
 Transcript 5
 Transcript 6

Many thanks to Grant Ransom for his work transcribing this interview from video, and for his artistic talents in colourising some of the old pictures. Nice one Grant!

RFC intro page

Emails I have received about these pages

More pictures of 100 squadron RFC from my father's album

Various WW1 related objects in my possession and some found at the old aerodrome site nearXaffévillers in France

The Annals of 100 Squadron (The whole book)