On the first trip out, we almost got shot down, which I wasn’t too fussy about.
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When I went overseas, I went over on the [RMS] Queen Elizabeth to Scotland and then to Greenock [Scotland]. And then Bournemouth [England]. And then posted to OTU, Operational Training Unit. I’d already had my wings; I got them in Canada. And I hadn’t seen any service up until then. And then after we’d been posted to a squadron [178 Squadron, Royal Air Force], we began to fly. On the first trip out, we almost got shot down, which I wasn’t too fussy about. But however, I lost my crew, my pilot was sick and the crew split up and they had to regroup and get a new crew. And then we went to North Africa. That was D-Day, on D-Day, June the 6th [1944 – while other Allied troops invaded Normandy on that day, the Italian campaign was ongoing]I guess it was. And I stayed until the end of the war. I did a whole tour there and all over Germany and Italy. I was stationed in Italy.
We were based on Foggia, that’s about halfway up in the interior, close to Bari. Well, we’d just get our operations from there, until the end of the war.
Well, all they talked about was the target and what route to follow. Everybody must follow the same route, get there on time, try not to be too late. But basically, it was all the same, you know. But we had pretty good targets. We didn’t go to Berlin. We went to other places, Magdeburg, and European ones, just the usual targets [Magdeburg’s synthetic oil plant was a prime target for the Allies who sought to cripple Germany’s oil-chemical industry, vital to the war effort] .
Of course, the idea was to destroy the highways, keep the roads clear. The funniest part of it all, when we were on leave, we drew back to Sorrento and the people that were rebuilding the bridges were women. They did all the work, there was no men. Rail yards, marshalling yards. And they didn’t bomb the towns; they tried to get to the outskirts, to where the action took place.
Well, I was a bomb aimer and of course, our, our main objective was to deliver the bombs to the target, which we tried our best to do. Sometimes, they were pretty hard targets, especially at night. But we all, we managed to get through and we did a good job I think.
On VE-Day [Victory in Europe, May 8 1945], I was on the squadron, in Italy. We didn’t fly that day. It was over. Except for the supply drops.