Veteran Stories:
Elizabeth Buchanan

Air Force

  • Portrait of Elizabeth (Moyer) Buchanan, 1944.

    Elizabeth Buchanan
  • Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visiting service personnel in Yorkshire.

    Elizabeth Buchanan
  • Photo of one the Group Planes and its logo.

    Elizabeth Buchanan
  • Review staged by personnel from #5 SFTS Brantford.

    Elizabeth Buchanan
  • VE-Day in Trafalgar Square in front of Buckingham Palace, London, England, 1945.

    Elizabeth Buchanan
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"I was told to report the infirmary and could not go overseas. I was not going to be denied my big chance, so the next day I boarded the troop train without permission"

Transcript

My name is Elizabeth, Beth, Buchanan, and my maiden name was Moyer. I was born and raised in North Bay, and I went to school also in Toronto. In 1942, my brother Bill was killed in a plane crash in England. He was twenty years old. I joined the service in December of '42 as a photographer. We took our basic training at Rockcliffe in Ottawa, and three months training in photo. This included the mechanical operation of F-24 aerial camera and general photography. At the end, I was posted to No. 5 Service Flying Training School in Brantford, Ontario. I installed the cameras, weighing about forty-five pounds, in Anson training planes and instructed aircrews in their operation. These young men were from everywhere in the commonwealth. In June 1944, I was picked to go overseas. On arrival at Lachine, Quebec, I had stress from having an accident on my embarkation leave and had excema, and had to go to a dermatologist in Montreal. I was told to report the infirmary and could not go overseas. I was not going to be denied my big chance, so the next day I boarded the troop train without permission, and that is how I arrived in Halifax aboard the New Amsterdam. I was posted to Linton in Yorkshire to RCAF 6 Group Bomber Command, and we had to go all hours of the day or night to develop the runs from the pictures sent back from the cameras from the bombing runs over Europe. A few months after that I was posted to London to the photo lab, and that was where I got the job of being the photographer of Brookwood Cemetary - RCAF personnel who had been killed in the line of duty. I must admit that it was hard on me because my brother was buried in that cemetery. When I went to see my brother's grave I couldn't find it. As I walked along a path I encountered a man who I thought was a workman, but was in fact the caretaker of the cemetery. He asked if I was a relative and I replied that I was his sister. He said he lived in the next town, and he knew where the grave was. As it turned out, he had seen the crash and had pulled my brother from the plane, and had taken care of his particular grave ever since. I could hardly believe the coincidence of this story and my meeting him.
Follow us