George Weber, 1941
Weber's spitfire - "vewwy funny" insignia to the left of the cockpit.
George Weber flying over Burma
Yeah, I went to the Royal Air Force Operational Training Unit in the middle of Yorkshire. And there, I was training for, as a photographic reconnaissance pilot. To do that, you had to have, you went out by yourself and so you had to have some type of navigation skills. As a consequence, I was sent to Blackpool area for a pilot navigator’s course and completed that and then joined an RAF squadron at Benson, which is halfway between Oxford and Reading. Only flew a couple of trips over France and then the squadron was [decimated] by the German Luftwaffe [Air Force]; we were only a small outfit.
So it was disbanded and I was sent to Malta. And I was flying out of a Malta squadron. There the same thing happened, the Luftwaffe destroyed practically all our pilots and aircraft and that squadron was disbanded. And then I was sent to Calcutta, in which I flew the last three years from Calcutta and Burma, over the India/Burma/Indonesia campaign against the Japanese.
Flying Spitfires all the time, all we had were cameras and the souped-up aircraft so that when we got into trouble, we’d run like hell. I got caught a couple of times and chased a couple of times but between me and my aircraft, I always managed to get out of trouble. There was once though that I remember getting chased in the south of France and I was doing several airdromes in the south of France, which is just about extreme range from the south of England. And I got caught by a couple of Luftwaffe pilots in 190s, which are very good aircraft. And they started chasing me. Well, there was no way that I could go like heck across there;, I’d use up all my gas and end up landing in France out of gas. And so I decided the only way to do this is to fly tight formation with one of the guys.
Well, I just throttled back and when he went past me, then I went, ducked up and inside to him and ducked right in close to him. I sort of scooped in and tucked my wingtip into his nose and flew tight formation just above the treetops while he’s trying every maneuver he can to get me. And so was the other guy, but I’m too low for him to get under me.
And I was a pretty good pilot, so I kept real tight formation, that way, they couldn’t shoot me down. And the other guy couldn’t shoot either because he’d shoot his own friend. My wingtip was about five or six feet away from his cockpit. I’m in there tighter than a drum and every time he manipulated and maneuvered, I stuck with him like a fly.
Well, what I did actually, we had canopies and the canopy kind of limited you in what you could see around. It was in the way, so I ejected the canopy and was flying with, with an open cockpit. And that way, I could keep my eyes on what this guy was doing.
We hit the eastern end of the [English] Channel and he was on our right and there was another guy flying up above us, kind of keeping track of what was happening. And they wouldn’t let me turn right to get to the south coast of England so I ended up by going west all the way along the Channel until I got to Cornwall and then at Cornwall I thought, I’m going to end up in the Atlantic out of gas. So that’s when I ducked underneath him and rammed it full throttle and out-speeded him actually, because that aircraft just went like a house on fire and left him in the dust.
And surprisingly enough, I had that aircraft on the deck, which was just a few feet above the trees at over 500 miles an hour on the clock. Now in 1942, that was really going fast because it was almost unheard of to go that fast in these aircraft. But the Spitfire was a wonderful aircraft. So I landed in Cornwall, got re-gassed and then went back home. Got my pictures intact; got hell from my commanding officer for going such a roundabout way and even after I told him what I did, he still gave me hell. But of course, the Brits thought we Canadians and Aussies were a bunch of colonials that didn’t; nincompoops that didn’t do anything.