Wilfred Yaphe trained on a North American Harvard, similar to the one seen here.Wilfred Yaphe
Wilfred Yaphe (left), with a friend in Trafalgar Square, England, 1942.Wilfred Yaphe
Wilfred's brother Harry Yaphe, in the front seat of US Army jeep.Wilfred Yaphe
Wilfred Yaphe, England, 1943.Wilfred Yaphe
"And it’s just amazing, the only guy that was hurt was a flight engineer with a sprained wrist and it’s hard not to visualize what could have happened had there been a spark."
At the beginning of 1942, they posted some guys overseas and one of them couldn’t go, so I volunteered to take his spot. And they sent me over. And I landed in Glasgow, Scotland, in January of 1942. And in Glasgow, Scotland, I had my first experience of riding on a double-decker bus and I ate my first and last sausage roll while I was in the British Isles.
But we had a cargo of oranges on that ship and [before disembarking] we made a deal with the crew. They would send us up oranges and we gave them cigarettes for the oranges. And we had the privilege of giving kids at [each train] station oranges. And every time the train stopped, we’d give the kids oranges and we went down to Bournemouth in England, which was known primarily as a summer resort for people on the south coast of England. But they made it into a manning depot for, just sending us to different locations. And from there, they sent me to a place called Pembroke Dock. And Pembroke Dock was the most westerly tip of the British Isles. And they had a nickname of Little England beyond Wales.
And while I was there, I actually had experience in my trade as a wireless operator. I finally was in communication and we had a fleet of Sunderland flying boats that flew out over the Bay of Biscay and that was my sole experience as a wireless operator in contact with aircraft that were flying.
Shortly after that, they posted me inland into England to join a Canadian squadron, number 408, which was a bomber squadron of Lancaster bombers. And a memorable experience that I had there was one morning, we woke up, came down to the section where we were working out of and there was a bomber on top of an oil tanker or fuel tanker which we called “bowsers”. And if you ever stop at a service station to fill up your car, quite often you’ll see the name Bowser on the dispensing tank for your gas. And it’s just amazing, the only guy that was hurt was a flight engineer with a sprained wrist and it’s hard not to visualize what could have happened had there been a spark.