Veteran Stories:
Allen Henry Groat

Air Force

  • Allen Groat's service medals, L-R:
    1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; Defence Medal; 1939-1945 War Medal.

    Allen Groat
  • Photo taken in either Holland, Belgium or France, 1943-1945.

    Allen Groat
  • A German Iron Cross painted inside an abandoned building. Exact location and date unknown - either France, Belgium or Holland, 1943-1945.

    Allen Groat
  • Portrait of Allen Groat, ground crew with RCAF. Date and location unknown.

    Allen Groat
  • A Hawker Typhoon that had crashed. Date and location unknown.

    Allen Groat
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"Well this Liberator climbed up there and it’s vertical until it would stall. No more power. And then it would drop and come down, straight down. And then before it would hit the ground or the ocean, it would change again."

Transcript

We were in Normandy at the time [July, 1944] and they were fighting over the city of Caen and there was heavy bombing going on at that time. And the Americans were bombing in Liberator bombers, the four-engine bomber. And at this particular time, they were coming back off a raid. You see, Caen was only about six miles inland from the ocean and they were coming back off a raid and this one Liberator was evidently having trouble and trying to abandon. And they abandoned it and they put it on what they called “George” [autopilot]. That’s remote; it flies by itself and it goes a certain direction for a certain length of time and then it changes and goes another… Well this Liberator climbed up there and it’s vertical until it would stall. No more power. And then it would drop and come down, straight down. And then before it would hit the ground or the ocean, it would change again. And then it would climb again or fly on the level for a certain time and go through this whole performance again. Well, this went on for about a half an hour, and all this time that this was going on, there was fighter planes, Spitfires and probably Mustangs and Marauders or whatever, were trying to shoot it down, to get it down. And it would go out over the ocean and they’d try and shoot it down so… it wouldn’t do any harm I guess over the ocean. But finally it did go into the ocean. But that was one thing I saw. It lasted for about a half an hour. But that was something you’d never see again. I wouldn’t say often, but it did happen. When the raids were going over there, there were a lot of planes lost and I imagine some of them were put on automatic pilot. But you don’t know, news was pretty tight, security and that. But that was one thing I witnessed in broad daylight. They’d go out, Spitfires, for about an hour the sortie or whatever it is, would last and then come back and some of them would be shot up pretty bad and others never come back. I had some photos of the Spitfires that had crash-landed and were in pretty bad shape, you know. But I remember one in particular, when this pilot come back, he said his controls weren’t [working]. And he’d come in so low over a train and bombing and the concussion from the explosion had caved the bottom of the Spitfire; it dented it a little bit. But he made a landing and he was okay but the plane was all smoked up black. Yeah. I knew him briefly. It never really got personal, the ground crew and the air crew… kind of separate. But it was a good experience.
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