Veteran Stories:
Alvin Gorrill

Air Force

  • Alvin Gorrill, Olds, Alberta, June 29, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"We had a Harvard, it was a training plane for the pilots and once in a while, they’d take us up in that and do a lot of acrobats, you know, like loop-de-loop and boy, when you come down out of that, you’re pretty wobbly for a while."

Transcript

I was a LAC, which was a Leading Aircraftsman for, I was air frame mechanic with the [Royal Canadian] Air Force. And I was stationed south of Lethbridge [Alberta] at No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School from, well, for about three years. The first thing we did, first two weeks, all we did was stand at a workbench, they called it filing and fitting. We would take a piece of iron and make something out of it. And file and fit it until it was perfectly, you know. And then there was sheet metal work. We learned soldering and brazing and stuff like that and learned to make things with sheet metal. And then we took up hydraulics and air brakes, stuff like that, learned, you know, the fundamentals of that. The [Avro] Ansons had a fabric fuselage and we used to have to patch them up. And we learned how to, you know, the things like that. We had - I’m not sure of the Mark - we had a [North American] Harvard, it was a training plane for the pilots and once in a while, they’d take us up in that and do a lot of acrobats, you know, like loop-de-loop and boy, when you come down out of that, you’re pretty wobbly for a while. I can remember, I think it was one of the Bolingbrokes, that was just crashed one time out in the, out somewhere and they had fire trucks, like anybody could jump on a fire truck if they were going to a fire. And I think I got on one of those trips one time. The reason that I didn’t get overseas was because I would take spring and harvest leave. Like I was allowed to take two weeks in the spring and two weeks in the fall to help my dad with farming, because I was still involved with farming when I joined up. Our part of the war ended in the fall of 1945 I guess and Lethbridge was chosen to store a lot of the aircraft. And all that winter, like fall and winter of, it would be 1945 and the spring of 1946, we stored aircraft in the hangars down there. It was smaller planes, there was [Fairchild] Cornells and Harvards and I’m not sure what all but the smaller planes. We had to take like the wings off and then they were stored in the aircraft and the air engine people, like there was air engine people like the same as air frame, they had to put special oil in the engines and stuff like that so they would, you know. But that was what we did the last I might say almost, maybe, I don’t know, it would be six months or what but until I got discharged. And in the spring, I was anxious to get out; I wanted to get back to full time farming and get my own place like.
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