Interview with Ken 'Paddy' French, 13 March 2016
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
'Veterans: A Shared Experience' interviews
Scope and Content:
Ken 'Paddy' French [KF] interviewed by Juliana Vandegrift [JV] about serving in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War and his experience of D-Day.

[00:00] KF discusses his first job at an insurance company in London in August 1939 and the outbreak of the war a month later; air raids over London in December 1940; joining the Royal Air Force in January 1941; pilot training in Canada in August 1941; qualifying in summer 1942; his role as part of a squadron of Spitfires escorting bombers.

[06:46] His involvement in the D-Day landings, flying above American troops at Omaha Beach; the suffering of the troops on the ground compared to the relative safety of the pilots; forming a 'big umbrella' of fighter planes over the beach.

[11:09] A near-death incident whilst stationed at North Weald, London; duties increased to include dive bombing and 'fighter sweeps', as well as escorting bombers; heavy drinking at local pubs to relax and 'not worry about what was going to happen the next day'.
Dates of Creation:
13 March 2016
15 minutes 55 seconds
Creator Name:
Juliana Vandegrift
Admin History:
John Kenneth ‘Paddy’ French was born in County Cork, Ireland, in 1920. He moved to Leigh-on-Sea in August 1939 to work for an insurance company in London, and then joined the RAF after witnessing the devastation caused by air raids in the capital. After qualifying in 1942 he escorted British and American bombers as part of a squadron of Spitfires and was involved in the D-Day landings.
Archivist Note:
Acquisition Source:
Donated to the Essex Record Office by Southend Museums Service, September 2018.
Copyright Southend Museums
Physical Characteristics:
1 MP3 file [created from original WAV file]
Related Unit of Description:
For biographical information about Ken 'Paddy' French, see SA 79/1/4/4
Dates of Description:
13 April 2022