Veteran Stories:
Robert Young

Air Force

  • A DC-3 Dakota transport similar to what Robert Young flew in the war.

    Robert Young
  • A whistle that Robert Young carried with him when he flew. In the event of ditching his aircraft in the water he was to blow this whistle to attract rescue.

    Robert Young
  • A silk escape map that Robert Young carried with him in the event that he was shot down over enemy territory.

    Robert Young
  • Robert Young, 2010.

    Historica Canada
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"we had enough gasoline to make three tries at the airport in the fog, which we did. The second landing was successful; and the soldiers cheered as they departed the airplane."

Transcript

It goes back to high school when my class listened to [radio reports of] the Battle of Britain and many of us decided to join the air force. So as soon as high school was finished in 1942, in June, I joined the air force as a potential pilot. And a year later, in August, I got my wings as a pilot in [RCAF Station] Moncton, New Brunswick, flying two twin engine airplanes.

I was promptly posted, as were about two or three members of each graduating class, to Training Command. And I was posted as a staff pilot in an air navigation school, to train navigators and wireless operators for flying. I kept nagging them to get out of [RCAF] Training Command; and finally, I was posted to [RCAF Station] Comox, B.C.; and we were crewed up pre-action training at Comox.

So we trained for all sorts, flying around the world. Flying different things, different, doing different [things]: from parachute dropping to hauling gliders, to hauling casualties and all sorts of equipment anywhere in the world.

We landed in England in May 1945, so we had missed the war, but being in air transport and as the transport people returned home, we took their places in the squadron. And we serviced the occupation forces in Germany and Italy and, well, all over Europe after the war. We’d haul supplies, mail, whatever. But I think the toughest one was the one with casualties from Italy. This was in the fall of 1945; and these soldiers had been wounded long before the war ended. And now they were ready to come home and we flew them from Italy, stretcher cases, to England.

And it was a memorable flight because when we got to England, we came over the Channel. I called ahead; and said, we request permission to approach the airport. They said, you have a ground fog here, you might have problems. So what’s the alternative? Well, you can fly for an hour north to Manchester, which is clear, or you can try to come in with your aircraft blind flying the equipment. So I talked it over with the crew; and we decided our soldiers should not have to wait for any length of time in an airplane while they waited for their ground transport to catch up to them. We would make, we had enough gasoline to make three tries at the airport in the fog, which we did. The second landing was successful; and the soldiers cheered as they departed the airplane. But it was the most memorable flight of my career, I guess, for that reason.

Follow us