Veteran Stories:
Elwin “Al” Cummins

Air Force

  • Elwin Cummins at Saskatoon #4 S.F.T.S. in 1942.

    Elwin Cummins
  • Elwin Cummins crouching on wing of the aircraft, where the K20 camera was installed, in Scotland, 1945.

    Elwin Cummins
  • Photo of Elwin Cummins in uniform taken while stationed overseas in Ireland, 1943.

    Elwin Cummins
  • Elwin Cummins with speed graphic camera at Headquarters in London, England, 1945.

    Elwin Cummins
  • Elwin Cummins and George Higgins, with K20 camera at their feet, standing in front of a Beaufighter while stationed with 404 Squadron in Scotland, 1945.

    Elwin Cummins
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"I said, you’re nuts, you didn’t do that. Oh yeah, he says, your name’s there. If you don’t want to go, get out of bed and go to the adjutant because you’re headed for overseas. That’s how I got overseas."

Transcript

And there was five boys in our family and the older brother was in for three months and they sent him home. He had flat feet and they didn’t keep him. The youngest out of the five of us, he was in for a little while and I forget why they sent him home as well. And I knew they’d get somebody out of the five, so I got up one morning and I wasn’t there anymore, I just went and joined up. They wanted ten tall guys for police duty and I was six foot, so they grabbed me and I was on that job for quite a spell. Well, I was on the police with this guy, he was always up to something. He come in and they called me El, they couldn’t come up with this first name of mine and I had graveyard shift, midnight until 8:00 in the morning. And I was sleeping in the hut and he come in and woke me up and he said, well El, he said, you’re going overseas. And I said, oh, what’s wrong with you today? Well, he said, I was on parade, they wanted ten volunteers, the guys you know volunteered so I gave your name. I said, you’re nuts, you didn’t do that. Oh yeah, he says, your name’s there. If you don’t want to go, get out of bed and go to the adjutant because you’re headed for overseas. That’s how I got overseas. But I was stationed in London, England for a spell at headquarters there. And there was a great Underground [train] in London. And when I was stationed there, that city was eleven million [habitants] and you could walk underground in these passageways underground. And that seemed, I don’t think I’d have been here if it hadn’t have been for that. Because they [the German Air Force] bombed that thing crazy. They couldn’t miss it. Eleven million, that’s a big city, eh. You use a big heavy K, what they called a [Fairchild] K20 [aerial] camera with a big lens and take pictures. Not even the Commanding Officer, if we were in the darkroom developing a film, not even the Commanding Officer could open the door. Because then your film’s gone. We used it for a sanctuary. When they [the Air Force] got those films developed and the pictures, then they could figure out what they had done [the effects of bombing] or what they needed to do.
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