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Friendly fire


'I knew everybody was shooting at me'
Ken Adam Artist
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I think, it was the only way I could really do something for the war effort, because I would have been useless in the infantry or in the Commandos or something like that, and in Bomber Command, you know. And I used to have long talks with Ossy [Oswald] Morris the cameraman, who was a Lancaster pilot, twice decorated, DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross], and used to fly Churchill after the war. And I said, 'You know, Ossy, how you flew these Lancasters… because I had to be by myself, and if anything went wrong, it was... I had to cope with the plane, so I couldn't blame anybody. And there also was this fantastic feeling because you and that plane became one, really, because, you know, whatever control you... the plane reacted to it and it wasn't like a bomber where, you know, everything had to be careful and slowly done, and so on.

So the fighter pilot – the flying fighters – did appeal to me, except the first time I remember I was shot at over France, and I knew everybody was shooting at me, because I was alone, flying! I didn't like it very much, you know, because you remember when you did skeet shooting or pheasant shooting, and here I am sitting like a duck, you know, with everybody, very effective flak sometimes, shooting at you. But basically, flying in fighters and the most powerful, certainly at that time, was something I liked very much.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: World War II, France, Oswald Morris

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 15 August 2011