Veteran Stories:
Carl Dubin

Air Force

  • Carl Dubin in his hometown, Kirkland Lake, Ontario, in 1941.

    Carl Dubin
  • Carl Dubin at an event held by The Memory Project: Stories of the Second World War, on May 13, 2010.

    Historica Canada
  • Carl Dubin's Medals: 1939-1945 Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, with clasp, 1939-45 War Medal.

    Carl Dubin
  • Squadron patch for the #404 Squadron.

    Carl Dubin
  • Painting depicting the "Invasion Stripes" Mr. Dubin speaks about. The night before Dday, stripes were painted on the all airplanes participating in the invasion of Normandy to identify themselves as Allied planes, to the forces below.

    Charles Kadin
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"They said the best thing they could do to stop the Holocaust was to win the war. That’s what Churchill said."

Transcript

My father was a veteran of the First World War and spoke perfect German and we used to listen to shortwave radio of Hitler ranting away on about the Jews and it would make me so furious that I wanted to try to do something about it. So I decided I was going to enlist in the services and chose the [Royal Canadian] Air Force, because I always liked airplanes.

I was posted to No. 404 Coastal Command squadron in a place called Wick, Scotland, which is the very northern tip of the British Isles. The pilot sat in the front of the Beaufighter and the navigator sat in the middle back in a bubble over the top and communicated to pilot by intercom in between. Unfortunately, it was a very uncomfortable position because the Bristol Beaufighter had four 20-millimetre cannons in the front nose and the breaches of the guns were right beside the navigator. So where they fired the guns, the noise actually affected my hearing and the noise of the plane; I get a pension because of my, loss of my hearing from the noise of the guns and the engines. But it was a terrible racket when they fired the 20-millimetre cannon, whoo, boy.

During the invasion of Sicily [July 1943], a fleet that was invading, the Allied fleet accidentally shot down thirty of our own airplanes, they were flying over, they didn’t even, if you flew over a ship, they didn’t look to see who it was, they just, you’re not supposed to fly. They shot down thirty of our own planes and killed over 300 paratroopers of our own. So after that, in order to avoid that, they had us, they put these stripes on the plane, on the wings and on the, it was called the invasion stripes. It was actually the night before the famous June the 6th invasion [of Normandy, in 1944], you’ve heard, they had us, everybody who was out in the squadron painting these stripes on the planes, on the wings. If you have the big picture, you could see them and on the fuselage, as an identification so that the invasion fleet wouldn’t fire on the planes. And they still did. Because you flew over the plane, the ships - they didn’t look, they just shot.

I was stationed then near Bournemouth [England], called Thorney Island. That was the invasion of … And we were stationed there in order to prevent the Germans from interfering with the invasion fleet that was sailing from England over to Normandy. And in fact, one incident that I must tell you about is not our only our squadron, three squadrons, an Australian, a British and our squadron, attacked three German destroyers that were coming up from the Bay of Biscay, trying to invade to interfere with the invasion fleet and they just blew them all out of the water. They were completely destroyed, so they didn’t get a chance to interfere with the invasion.

The invasion fleet was so huge that you could practically walk across the [English] Channel. There was 5,000 ships - 5,000 ships in the invasion fleet. All kinds of destroyers and battleships and, and supply ships and it was a sight. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never forget it, oh, unbelievable. Unbelievable!

The Jewish Congress or whoever it was wanted the English to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz [concentration camp in Poland], which would have been a tremendous thing if they would. But they said that they’re, the Air Force was committed to a certain, attacking the German industries. That’s what they were important, the arms factories and everything and they didn’t think it would be wise to divert the air things to do things like that. They said the best thing they could do to stop the Holocaust was to win the war. That’s what [British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill said.

Despite what you hear, bombing was so inaccurate in those days, if the bomb, if a plane bombed a target, if it fell within five miles of the thing, it was a miracle. That’s how inaccurate it was. So even if they would have tried to bomb the, Auschwitz, they probably [would have] killed all the prisoners anyway, which, they were going to die anyway. Because it was very inaccurate. They didn’t have the, the Americans used to boast that they could put a bomb down into a pickle barrel from 25,000 feet but it was a bunch of bull; they couldn’t do it.

It was an experience that I’m happy that I experienced. Now that it’s over, it was something that I will never forget and I thought it was very very fortunate to have gone through that experience and come through alive and without any injuries and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, believe me. Nobody wants to go to a war but if you’re there, you try to make the best of it.

Follow us