Veteran Stories:
Leonard Berger

Air Force

  • Leonard Berger, shortly following graduation and wings parade, February 1944.

    Leonard Berger
  • The oldest Canadian-built Lancaster bomber still flying at the end of the war. Each painted bomb represents one mission.

    Leonard Berger
  • Raid of the Leipzig Railway Complex, April 10, 1945.

    Leonard Berger
  • Log book of airman Len Berger, showing details of Leipsig raid, April 10, 1945.

    Leonard Berger
  • Badge of the 419 RCAF Squadron (Moose Squadron).

    Leonard Berger
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"And that day we were escorted by fighter planes and when we got to the Rhine River there must have been at least a 1000 aircraft in the air at that time."

Transcript

My name is Leonard Berger. I was in the RCAF. I flew with a bomber squadron, 419 Moose Squadron in the Second World War. Our squadron went on daylight raid to Leipzig. And that day we were escorted by fighter planes and when we got to the Rhine River there must have been at least a 1000 aircraft in the air at that time. I was in the nose getting prepared for the run in on the target. And when I looked down, I could see that the American Army was crossing into Germany there, over the Rhine. And there was a little town called Wessel and all it was was just a pile of rubble.

When we got to the target, I saw one aircraft go down. He was just flying alongside of me, over to the right and I noticed that they took a hit. Probably from the anti-aircraft batteries, 'cause I didn't see any fighters. And he just flipped over and went down and nobody got out. We proceeded at a target, all the bombs were just dropping right straight in on the railway marshalling yard. It was a very, very big success. And - poof - it did the job. And we returned home safely and that was... that was it.

Of course there'd been other crews prior to our acquiring that particular plane. But we did all of our operations in that particular one. I had taken on the job of doing the painting on the side. So I painted my name, "Lenny" right on the front. And then I painted all the other crew members at their positions, further back on the aircraft. And I also painted on each of the bombs. One bomb depicting each raid that that aircraft had done. And by the end of the war, it was the oldest Canadian-built Lancaster, which was built at Malton in Toronto that was still flying.

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