Memories of Jim Gentry

Conversation with Andy Boddington in the Red Lion, 4 December 1999

Seventy-five year old Jim “mixed the concrete that built Finmere airfield.” The conversation tool place over over a number of pints.

Jim’s mother had been evacuated to Whitfield from Fulham. “I was evacuated, well my mother was evacuated, from Fulham.” She arrived with Jim, the eldest and his five brothers.

Before evacuation he worked on Wimpy bombers at Brooklands. Then went  to Chipping Warden. Then to Finmere.

The work perhaps took one year and he thinks the company was called Bridgewater Construction. The concrete mixer supplied Bedford tipper lorries supplying the two gangs laying the concrete. Three or four men worked in each gang. Both gangs were supervised by foremen with the name of Churchill, brothers. “We worked like hell to get the job done.”

[But needed to lay 6 inches but sometimes less, he was not clear on this.]

The workers on the airfield were “southern Irish and Lowestoft fishermen. The fishermen had no work there [Lowestoft].”

Jim lived at Whitfield and was brought to the base in “the back of an open lorry, Cox was his name. We had a cover over the back.” [Jim also recalls that Cox’s son was the mayor of Brackley “at some time.”]

After Finmere, he worked at Arncott.

Then he went into the army, aged 18 ½. He had tried to enlist at 16½

“I can remember what happened in the war as clear as daylight but I’m not so good at what happened after.”

[There was a conversation I did not understand about Jack being a D-Day dodger. Was he down the mines then?]

After the war, he loaded crop-sprayers from Finmere airfield. The pilots stopped at the Crown at Brackley.