"He was sitting at a table at the foot of my bed and all of a sudden I hear a bang; and I got a wound in my right shoulder. The bullet had just scraped enough to bring a little blood."
It was a very sad day, as while we were in England, and I forget whether we were flying the Lancs [Avro Lancaster heavy bombers] or [Vickers] Wellingtons [long-range medium bomber] at the time, and each crew had a hut of their own, a Nissen Hut [corrugated steel structure]. This morning, we went out with another group and they flew in their plane, we flew in ours, we came back and they never did. Somebody heard that the plane had frozen up and just plummeted to earth. They were all killed. So that was a very traumatic moment.
But outside of that, there wasn’t anything else that really bothered me. I just went along, minding my own business and I had one exciting experience. While we were on guard duty at [RCAF Station] Clinton [Ontario], the man in charge of our group of our Nissen Hut, was an RAF [Royal Air Force] sergeant. And one day, he was sitting at a table at the foot of my bed and all of a sudden I hear a bang; and I got a wound in my right shoulder. The bullet had just scraped enough to bring a little blood. The sergeant had accidentally shot off the gun and just missed hurting me with a lot of luck. So we didn’t want to get him expelled for firing a rifle or anything like that, so we said I had fallen against the cot and I cut my shoulder and I went to the hospital and they fixed it up. I called my wife [laughs] and told her she better come up and see me, which she did on the weekend from Toronto. It was really nothing, it was just a very slight wound and I don’t think there’s even a trace of it now.
Sailed to Scotland in July of 1944. And from Scotland, we went down to a station, a greeting station in the south of England and I got a crew. And the first station we went to crewed up with a pilot, a bomb aimer, a wireless op [operator], a rear gunner, a tail gunner, and we started flying [Avro] Ansons [training aircraft]. After we flew the Ansons, when we were posted to another station, we started flying Wellingtons; they called them Wimpies in those days. We stayed there for a couple of months; and then we were posted to a station where we flew Lancasters. We flew Lancasters; in April 1945 we finished flying at [RAF Station Middleton] St. George, some place like that. It was [RCAF No.] 428 Ghost Squadron and I was ready for ops [operations].
We were scheduled for two trips, but after the [de Haviland] Mosquitoes [fighter-bomber] had gone in and checked the place out, it was raining and they said they didn’t see the targets, so they scrubbed the two ops and that was the end of it because there was peace in April or May 1945 [Victory in Europe occurred on May 8, 1945]. And so we did bomb disposal work for, oh, about three or four months. We were taking the bombs out of the Canadian stations and dropping them in the [Atlantic] Ocean and the North Sea. And then we got stationed in September 1945 at [RAF Station] Torquay, which was like a summer resort with palm trees. It was very nice and it was outside of a small town [Torquay, Devon], but I forget what the name was. I lasted there until December 1945 and then I got posted to Toronto back home, and then 20 January 1946, I got my discharge.