Veteran Stories:
Gerald Cowhey

Air Force

  • Mr. Cowhey and fellow RCAF trainees in their initial training after enlisting. After completing this course, during which time they were billeted at Queen's University, the trainees were sent to Calgary, Alberta, for flying school, 1943.

    Gerald Cowhey
  • Mr. Cowhey and his crew standing in front of their Halifax Mark 7. Most of them, including Mr. Cowhey (far left) are wearing their Mae West life jackets. The crew flew as part of 426 Squadron.

    Gerald Cowhey
  • Mr. Cowhey's log book entry for his 32nd mission, the completion of his operational tour, over Cologne, Germany. After he logged their return to the RCAF station, Mr. Cowhey also wrote the word AMEN!

    Gerald Cowhey
  • The new Mr. and Mrs. Cowhey on their honeymoon at the cliffs of Cornwall, England.

    Gerald Cowhey
  • Top: RCAF crews while completing a tour of ops often dropped leaflets, like these food ration coupons, over German territory. Bottom: Escape photos Mr. Cowhey carried with him in case his plane went down and he could connect with the underground.

    Gerald Cowhey
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"You're twenty years old and you think of your own mortality and are you going to survive the next twenty-six trips. We did."

Transcript

My name is Gerald Cowhey. I live in Kingston, Ontario. I was a wireless operator in the Second World War. My rank under training was R195886, and as a commissioned officer was J37937. I joined up in Ottawa in the fall of 1942, and went to Lachine Manning Depot. A short time at Queen's University, and then out to No. 2 Wireless School, where we spent twenty-eight weeks in training. Eventually overseas to 426 Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire, part of 6 Group, RCAF Bomber Command. We started our tour in early July of 1944. Our first four trips were Army co-op and buzz bomb sites. Our first German trip was to Wessling in the Ruhr. Returning from that trip we were badly shot up over Belgium, and we left the aircraft at Woodbridge. We lost the starboard wing tip, complete loss of the starboard airleron. They say we were pretty well all shaken up from that trip. We had an excellent pilot, Murray Seaman. We thought at the time that we had an excellent pilot but that we had twenty-six more trips to go to get through this. You're twenty years old and you think of your own mortality and are you going to survive the next twenty-six trips. We did. I came back to the Squadron as Safety Officer after we had finished our tour, and then back to Greenwood, Nova Scotia, as part of Tiger Force. The war with Japan was still on and we were to convert on to Lincolns, and of course the Americans dropped the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. The war was over, and back to civie street.
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