Veteran Stories:
Eric McFall

Air Force

  • A photo of Airman McFall receiving his wings in September 1942.

    Eric McFall
  • A photo of Eric McFall's medals.

    Eric McFall
  • Contemporary photo of Eric McFall.

    Eric McFall
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"And I said, well, our motto is, Press On, Regardless. So we’ll go without a radio, we don’t really need it until we get back so we flew on."

Transcript

I had an eye problem and they said that I could not be a pilot but when we got back from the hospital … I was sent down to Chatham, New Brunswick, for flying training, even though I wasn’t allowed to fly. And I can still see the, what the medical officer wrote on page two of my dossier, “this man cannot be a pilot because of very severe astigmatism”. But nobody ever looked at that again. They were right; I had problems landing, getting the right height.

But I managed to get through all that and after about 75 hours of flying in Chatham, New Brunswick, we went to Brantford, Ontario, on a twin-engine aircraft. And that’s where I got my wings the following September. I joined up in September 1941 and got my wings in September 1942.

There was one trip out of Italy, we went to a place called Feuersbrunn, F-E-U-E-R-S-B-R-U-N-N, in [north] Austria. They had built this plant down south so it would be too far for planes to get to from England but when we moved into Italy, it was much closer and well within our range. But on this one trip that I’m thinking about, during our briefing, the meteorological officer said, there’s a thunderstorm on the way but we’ve routed you so you’ll skirt around it. But after about 20 minutes after we’d taken off, the wireless radio officer called me and said, my equipment has failed, I can’t get anything on it. And I said, well, our motto is, Press On, Regardless. So we’ll go without a radio, we don’t really need it until we get back so we flew on.

We ran through a fairly heavy thunderstorm and we got pretty badly shaken up and we finally reached the target but there wasn’t anybody else around and I couldn’t pick out what had happened to the rest of the Air Force; there was supposed to be 500 planes and I couldn’t see anybody. Anyway, we dropped our markers, we were in Pathfinders by this time and we didn’t carry very much explosive bombs. It was all flares and things.

So we were about seven minutes ahead of the main force behind us, so we marked the target and turned it around and flew back again and as we approached where our base was, everything was completely dark. Usually there were five airfields in a concentrated area of Italy. But there was nothing lighted. So I fired off a couple of flares and finally somebody came and turned on the landing strip and we were able to land. Because not having any radio, anyway, we, we got home safely and found out that some senior officers had been on too and they decided that the thunderstorms were too severe and we shouldn’t be flying in them. So they cancelled the operation after about half an hour but of course, we had no radio anymore, so we never heard the, the recall.

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