Veteran Stories:
Frederick Randolph “Fred” Carter

Air Force

  • Avro Ansons on the runway at No. 10 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mount Pleasant, Prince Edward Island, circa 1944-45.

    Fred Carter
  • Fred Carter (on right) and a comrade en route to Britain aboard the troop ship Ile de France, 1945.

    Fred Carter
  • Fred Carter (on right) and a Royal Air Force comrade in Vancouver, British Columbia, 1945.

    Fred Carter
  • Fred Carter's B-24 Liberator crew posing near their bomber, RCAF Station Boundary Bay, British Columbia, Spring 1945. Mr. Carter is second from right in the first row.

    Fred Carter
  • Fred Carter's Statement of Re-Establishment Credit, issued by the Newfoundland Department of Veterans' Affairs, April 30, 1949. Mr. Carter purchased a new oven with the funds.

    Fred Carter
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"Our power was gone and the skipper called back and said, he didn’t know where we were and it was foggy out that night. And he said, he figured that we were going to have to ditch in the Pacific"

Transcript

I tried to join the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] when I was seventeen years old, on my birthday. I went down; they had a recruiting office on Kenna’s Hill in St. John’s. And they just wouldn’t hear tell of it. They just said, no, come back when you’re eighteen years old. So I waited a few months and then I decided to go up and try the Royal Air Force. And they didn’t question my age at all. I didn’t lie about my age; I told them exactly what it was. You still had to be eighteen I guess to join the Royal Air Force but they didn’t press the point and just went ahead. And then I sat back and waited for a draft to be formed, d-r-a-f-t, I mean, to, to go to the Royal Air Force station in Moncton, New Brunswick. That’s where I did my recruit training.

Right there in Moncton, what they did was, they gave you an IQ or an aptitude test and from that, they decided whether you were air crew material or you’d be better off in ground crew. So out of the nine of us that went in the draft, two of us were chosen to be air crew. So, my buddy, Noel Howard, he went as an air gunner and I chose wireless air gunner. You had to be really proficient in Morse Code. There was no such thing as audio contact with the base then. It was all done by Morse key, so wireless. So when you were airborne, in training, out on the West Coast, Boundary Bay [British Columbia] especially, you had to make contact with various stations along the coast, on the Pacific. And they would take a bearing on your aircraft so then you could determine your location. So you’d just pass the bearing along to the navigator and he would do all the math problems.

I had a couple of close calls which I found kind of, you know, life-threatening. Like the time when we got lost out around the Prairies, because after we had taken off from the base, the fog had moved in, believe it or not and so we had to go down through that fog, in order to find out the location of where we were. Because there was no radar or anything then about the aircraft, right. And we broke out on a farm and just missed a power line. Just right across from us was a railway track and there was a passenger train passing by, going in the same direction as we were. They were doing probably about 75 [miles per hour]. We weren’t doing much more than that, because aircraft were slow then. Harvard planes; they were monoplanes, two-seaters.

But the most serious time was, we were out over the Pacific involved in night bombing training exercises and our generator aboard the aircraft blew. And so we had no contact with any base. Our power was gone and the skipper called back and said he didn’t know where we were and it was foggy out that night. And he said, he figured that we were going to have to ditch in the Pacific, right. So he came right down, I can remember seeing the wings now of the plane, causing waves on the ocean, we were so low. And he just used his head I suppose and after, I don’t know, we were all ready to ditch and get in dinghies and whatever, and he called back and he said, I know where we are now. He said, I just flew in one direction, what he thought was the right direction and luckily, it was. And you know, he even told us before that we were getting pretty low on gas, or fuel. And he figured we were going to have to ditch in the Pacific.

But then he said, I can see Victoria in the distance, see the lights of Victoria. I’m always amazed at that because over here in Newfoundland, we had a blackout during the war. You weren’t allowed to have any lights showing through your windows or doors or anything else. But over there, he saw the lights of Victoria and it was during the war. And that’s how he got back to Boundary Bay.

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