Veteran Stories:
Gordon Stewart Colquhoun

Air Force

  • Mr. Gordon Colquhoun in 1940 after his enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

    Gordon Colquhoun
  • Mr. Gordon Colquhoun in Calgary, Alberta, on June 27, 2010.

    Historica Canada
  • Mr. Colquhoun's model of an Avro Lancaster aircraft.

    Gordon Colquhoun
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"To me, that was just it, just, that was the end of the world, there’s nothing more to invent. This big silver plane flying over. It was the first time, it was the first trip across Canada."

Transcript

Well, I was going to high school and it seemed that everybody, all the other kids the same age, were joining up and I thought it was the right thing to do. It still is the right thing to do. I’m convinced of that. We didn’t know really what was going on in the world when this plane came over. And I thought, just my own thoughts, just, that’s the end of everything, for perfection. There is this plane flying, you know on a farm you had nothing but a wheelbarrow to work with. To me, that was just it, just, that was the end of the world, there’s nothing more to invent. This big silver plane flying over. It was the first time, it was the first trip across Canada. Well, [our job] it was just basically keep that plane up there. You didn’t forget to put some gas in it and keep it in good shape, and look for any problems, if they had any holes in them, Pulled [the plane] out [of rotation]. Perfection is what you had to watch for. After all, there was at least seven members on that plane. That’s a lot of people, with their families. It’s something; and lots of them didn’t come back. I remember on the wing there was a hole that you had to look in there; and you would put your hand in, and it controlled something, I just forget what it was. But, anyway, to save time, sometimes we’d take shortcuts. And this one time, the pilot was revving it [the engine] up and, I think, yeah, you know now it comes back to me. You had to put your hand in there with a screwdriver probably and tighten something up or loosen it, or whatever it required. But it saved you running the plane up for a real test. The signal we had when [we were working on the planes] was ‘shut it down,’ I mean, anybody I think knows that, ‘shut it down.’ And I kept doing this [signal] and he’s sitting there. I don’t know. Some guys weren’t all there I don’t think, but he kept going faster and higher, and higher. I think that’s what he figured it [the signal] was. But he finally blew me off the wing right back to the, you know, the tail section. I ended up right behind. I was in the hospital for a while with that. I remember near the end, there was, when they increased from their first … we just had the small bombs, maybe 500 [pounds]. And then they increased it to, I think, up to the 5,000 [pound bombs]. And I can remember standing, it was just in the evening when you could still see. And there was a hill over there and you’d see the plane going up with 5,000 pound bombs on it. You could see it and you could see this happen, and the air controller running straight for the hill. But no, it’s all night bombing.
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