"That evening, we got a call for blood donors and there was more than one person died as a result of that crash."
We went down to the recruiting unit in Victoria at that time and my father went with me. During the interview, I was asked what my preference was in the Air Force and I said I’d like to be an air frame mechanic. He said, why? And I said, well, I have been a cabinet apprentice, worked with wood and I would like to be an air frame mechanic because I would be able to work on the wooden aircraft. So I got my orders to go to Vancouver; 1943, January the 7th, I was enlisted into the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force].
I went to St. Thomas, Ontario. There, we learned to actually work on aircraft. When we were marching into the place at St. Thomas, we were greeted with three Harvard aircraft nosing down, diving down at us as a welcoming committee. So we were quite excited about that. Anyway, we were there and trained to learn to spin the prop, start the aircraft engine by spinning the prop and learning the various parts of the aircraft. And then came our graduation and November the 11th of 1943, my first posting was to Calgary, No. 3 SFTS [Service Flying Training School].
Here I was mostly on midnight to eight in the morning duty, doing inspections on the aircraft and minor repairs. And I was here until, oh, about May of 1944. And then I was transferred or posted at that time as I said to Boundary Bay, B.C. That was RCAF Station, Boundary Bay. Just outside of Vancouver. Here, we had Mitchell aircraft and Liberators to work on. My duty was mostly on the line, where we would refuel the aircraft and do what we call daily inspections and any minor thing that had to be fixed.
So I was there for, oh, until about November of 1944, when I was posted to Patricia Bay, B.C., RCAF Station Patricia Bay, just outside Victoria. Here, I was working on Canso aircraft and, once again, I was on the line duties where we refueled the aircraft and did the daily inspections after the flight. One interesting thing was when the aircraft came home, they landed in the water; they would taxi up a ramp and as they taxied up the ramp, we would wash them down with the hose and water. And this was mainly to remove as much of the saltwater from the aircraft as possible. Then we would refuel them and do the minor inspections.
One interesting thing that happened here was I was coming in one afternoon for our late shift when we got the word that one of our aircraft was just starting to touch down on the water near our base when it exploded and sank. That evening, we got a call for blood donors and there was more than one person died as a result of that crash. But that would be one of the aircraft that I had been working on at some point.
Then, while there, we got the call to volunteer for the Pacific warfare. And I did volunteer for that because I wanted to go overseas. And after a while, I did get a call from the orderly room; I had to report up there. And the airwoman asked me, she said, I know that you’d like to go overseas, would you like to go to Burma? And I said, certainly. My posting took me to Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and I arrived there in June of 1945. And once again, I was on line duties, Anson aircraft, and doing the same type of work, refueling and minor inspections and repairs and that. And then after being at Summerside for three weeks, the Pacific war came to an end as the atom bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima [Japan] and I didn’t get overseas after all. Although I was close to it, I was very disappointed.