"we’d fly across the bow and try and stop them and so on and so forth. But yeah, we carried a machine gun with- it was the old type of course."
To start with, my triplet, you know I told you I was a triplet, my triplet brother and I went in to Winnipeg in 1940 to join up and we went and had a medical. I passed the medical but my brother didn’t. So we went home again because there was quite a waiting list. At the least, I only weighed 110 pounds and I had to go home and put weight on. So I went to a farm and worked and drank milk - which I’ve never drank any since -but anyway, I put the weight on and I got called up in February 1941.
I was going to be a pilot. So I went to ITS [Initial Training School] but I couldn’t make pilot so I re-mustered to wireless air gunner. And then that was in Victoriaville, Quebec. So then, I went to Montreal [No. 1] Wireless School and I took my wireless. Then we had to come back to Manitoba and I went to Paulson, [No. 7] Bombing and Gunnery [School] in Manitoba. And that’s where I got my WAG wings. And from there, I was posted to the West Coast [to No. 7 Bomber-Reconnaissance Squadron]. And in Prince Rupert [British Columbia], we flew these Blackburn Sharks, there was only a pilot and a wireless air gunner and they were a float plane and we started them with a shotgun shell. The pilot would get in the cockpit and the WAG, he’d give me a shell [starter cartridge] and I’d put it in this chamber and I’d say, cartridge in, all clear and he would blast and the bloody smoke, the radial motors and we took off and I had a tour of duty on those Blackburn Sharks and they only stayed up for, their longest time was five hours in the air. But we checked all the shipping, they [the ships] had to have the right flags for the day and that was our job.
[If we spotted an enemy ship], well, we’d fly across the bow and try and stop them and so on and so forth. But yeah, we carried a machine gun with- it was the old type of course. But we never found; see, they changed the flags every day. It was different flags every day. And of course, we were sent a copy what the flag should be and we would check.
But there was, in Prince Rupert, it was, some days we never flew for a month because it was just too wet. But yeah, we lost two or three aircraft, they’d come in and land and when the water was glassy, it was pretty hard to judge the height and they’d nose in and we lost two or three aircraft like that. We were flying in a [Lockheed] Ventura, that’s what we, the Ventura aircraft and we were at 20,000 feet and one motor quit. And of course, we came down and everybody …
But the pilot, he was just a super guy. He never got excited, he started up again at 10,000 feet when we got down and fortunately, it started up again. But we could have got back on the one motor, I think. But when I got off that aircraft that night, I got down and I kissed the tarmac.