"You feel like you're flying if you fly low... if you're up 10,000 feet, you just might as well be sitting at home."
My name is Barry Chaster. I was in the Air Force. I was in the Army slightly before that for three months but I, basically, was in the Air Force for my career. I started flying in Port Arthur and I started in May, and I flew Tiger Moths, and one day I came home with a bunch of hay on my undercarriage and they made me wash airplanes and march on the parade square with a parachute on and they didn't accuse me of anything and I didn't complain at the time.
Then I went on to service flying at Yorkton, Saskatchewan and flew Harvards. Got my wings there in 1941. And immediately after, shortly went overseas.
Went down to Bournemouth like everybody else did and then up to Scotland to a place called Montrose where I flew Hurricanes and then mostly Miles Masters. And I had a little problem there as well. Practising forced landings I hit a stone wall, and there's lots of them in Scotland, in that area. I was immediately transferred to a beam approach course in Middleton St. George and gradually worked down to... I wasn't going to be a fighter pilot, I was going to be a bomber pilot so ended up on Wellingtons in Yorkshire.
You feel like you're flying if you fly low. You know, you feel like you're really flying 'cause you get the sense of speed. Whereas if you're up 10,000 feet, you just might as well be sitting at home. 'Til you get that sense of speed, especially if you're flying real low like, I mean, you can pick up hay on your undercarriage, that's low. Stone walls, that's low too. But when you get up at a hundred feet or something, it's not quite the same sensation.
I had an opportunity to go out to the Irish Sea and fly low over the water, but my tail gunner complained 'cause he was getting wet. I then went to a proper OTU on Wellingtons. Moved on to Lancasters. And I was 83 Squadron, got transferred to 207 Squadron. But before that I'd been doing some steep turns around a smokestack in Doncaster and got called in for a Court of Inquiry. I guess I was in on my third op by that time and they were short a Lancaster pilot, so I finished my tour. I did twenty trips before I got shot down.
I was shot down in Holland, 1943, January the 3rd and I went via the escape route to southern France, Bayeau and then I went across the Pyrenees Mountains. Ended up in Gibraltar and came back by boat to England. I wasn't low flying when we got shot down, but only three of my crew got out, the other four were killed right there.
I was back in England within three months, transferred to Canada, where I continued to get into a certain amount of trouble at bombing and gunnery school, which was where I went after getting back from overseas. I was court-martialled there for low flying at night, down the main street of Lethbridge, by the CO of the station. For some reason or other they let me go flying again without any explanation.
I then went on transport command 'til I was discharged from the Air Force.