Veteran Stories:
F. Stuart Crawford

Air Force

  • Portrait of Mr. Crawford in Britain.

    Frank Crawford
  • Battle school in Maitland, Nova Scotia.

    Frank Crawford
  • Mr. Crawford at Graduation in Belleville, Ontario.

    Frank Crawford
  • Mr. Crawford with 419 Moose Squadron.

    Frank Crawford
  • Telegraph listing Mr. Crawford as Missing In Action

    Frank Crawford
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"I don’t know whether fear is involved, but extreme apprehension certainly is involved before when you find yourself on the battle order."

Transcript

My life starts in 1942 in the Air Force when I decided that that’s what I should be part of. I went to Initial Training School in Belleville, where they selected me as a candidate for a bomb aiming position. On graduation I was surprised when I got my commission, so I now became Pilot Officer F. Stuart Crawford, RCAF, and then overseas to England in 1944.

I don’t know whether fear is involved, but extreme apprehension certainly is involved before when you find yourself on the battle order. The battle order lists your crews the day… sometimes the day before, sometimes that day. We’d been briefed on a trip to Hamburg. It was the last big raid on Hamburg on April the 8th and 9th of 1945. Four hundred and forty aircraft taking part on that trip. I’ll never forget the run over the target… his accurate flying. I wish I’d had a photograph of that.

Then after that, we dropped down to a lower level, and that’s when interesting things happened. The starboard inner engine caught on fire. When the starboard outer engine caught on fire, from then on the pilot had trouble keeping altitude, and the order was given to bail out, and of course as bomb aimer, I’m the first one out of the front. I landed with quite a clatter on a tile roof with my parachute around the chimney. I met the mid-upper gunner. I called him out from behind a tree. So we proceeded to walk and hope for the best, and took our identification off our tunics. We weren’t certain whether we were in enemy territory or no-man’s-land, or in Allied territory. We thought we were in good shape when we saw white sheets hung out of windows, and the mid-upper gunner climbed up a flagpole and liberated a white sheet and I have half of that. We split it in half. We’d now walked perhaps about seven hours and I found a barn, and by daylight I was able to poke up a tile on the roof and saw a wonderful sight of the stars on the side of the vehicles going by the intersection, so I knew we were home free. I stopped the Corporal and told him who we were, and he called for a jeep and took us to British 2nd Army headquarters in Osnabruck.

When we were taken to a safe house in Eindhoven, the next morning flown out to Britain, I thought I’d better report in to Air Force headquarters in London. I went in and said to Corporal Jackson (he was an old friend of mine from school days), I said, "Mort, am I dead or alive?” and he said, “Well, we’ll just have to find your file. So he went in and got my file, and then he came out and he said, “You’re dead!” I said, “Oh great. Then my parents have all the telegrams.” He said, “Yes, your parents have the telegrams. Let’s make out a telegram to your parents and tell them I’m sorry I’ve caused them all that trouble.”

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