Veteran Stories:
Charlie Snyder

Air Force

  • Mr. Snyder in Didbury, 1941.

    Charlie Snyder
  • Mr. Snyder in Olds, Alberta, June 2010.

    Historica Canada
  • Mr. Snyder's Medals (L-R): Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal (1939-45).

    Charlie Snyder
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"And this guy, that was emptying his gas, he jumped out of the truck and got underneath the truck. Well, of all places to go. But the bullets just missed the top of the truck"

Transcript

We had a squadron and we were on a base. We’d have a good 20 planes, Lancaster planes, maybe more. And they’d fly out. If we were on, working in the hangars - I was just on maintenance - and every so often, you’d have to go out on the flight deck, out on the tarmac and you’d have to take your month out there on the tarmac and then the rest of you would be working in the hangars. And usually on a, on a stormy night, we were lucky to get all our planes back. But on a really clear night, quite a few of them didn’t come back. Because it was so clear. I mean, you didn’t have a chance to get into the clouds. And it was pretty hard to take, some of them planes coming back, they were pretty well shot up. And especially in the gunner’s bottom; belly gunners, they were, what’s left of them. It was all automatically took. We would have to work on all the planes, go through all the cables and all the controls and look for cracks in the wings and all the hydraulic. I was mainly, I had a hydraulics course and I used to do all the wheels, the struts and everything like that. That’s about what you did all the time, when the planes come back, you went over, over them all. And the only time that we had contact, one German fighter made it across. And he shot up our hangar, he shot up a couple planes on, outside the hangar and then he shot the, hit a lot of planes, two planes inside the hangar. And there was a big truck unloading gas. We could watch this from our billets, this plane coming over, it was dark and all the tracer bullets were coming. And this guy, that was emptying his gas, he jumped out of the truck and got underneath the truck. Well, of all places to go. But the bullets just missed the top of the truck, they just went over the top like that. And he started going around and he got our maintenance building and he shot, the bricks went right through it and there was two girls in there that got killed that night. And he came around our billets; we were up on top, two-storey billets, all brick. And he circled around there and he was giving us his thumb up. And it was total moonlight out, you could just see him sit there, he was just right level with our windows. And just before that, we used to have, down at the front of the billets, we used to have to go there, about four of us used to have to stand on guard for guys like that. And they decided there was nobody coming anymore, so there was nobody there. But he went around twice and just gave us the finger. And then he took off. I don’t think he made it back but …
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