We [No. 419 Squadron] were known as ‘warriors of the night’ because most of our action, we were night fighters. That’s the way we, [No.] 6 [Bomber] Group, that was the Canadian bomber group: we flew at night. About 5:00 in the afternoon, we would be called for a briefing. We would go into a large room and up on one wall would be a large map of Europe, and it would be covered over. There would be the entire squadron, which could be 20 aircraft and which means there’s seven men to an aircraft, so there’s 140 air crew in there. We take seats at a table, and we make notes. The squadron leader will stand at the top of the room, and he’ll pull the cover off of the map; and he will say our target for tonight is, and he points to it. Target could be anywhere. The briefing would take the place of: number one, we’re pointing out the target; number two, we’re given the route that we’re going to take; number three, we are told the intelligence of what our opposition will be in the way of night fighters, in the way of searchlights, in the way of anti-aircraft guns. These are the things that we will make note of and be advised of.
And then at about, oh, 1900 to 2100 hours, at 7:00 to 9:00, we would take off. We would take off in what was known as a stream, in other words, our squadron would be part of it and that’s only 20 aircraft and there could be another four or five squadrons with us. We would all be up in the air at the same time. We would then take the route that has been assigned to us as being the most, not the easiest, but the most direct flight. But, in most instances, it’s not the most direct because we would go from one area to another area because we may take a secondary target.
We then, when we were within range, we turned the aircraft over to the bomb aimer. He will then direct the aircraft to the target; and we will drop our load, and hopefully come back a slightly different route with some pretty fair protection. We will arrive back at our base; and we will then go back into that briefing room, and we sit down, and we’re then debriefed. That’s when the intelligence officers and their staff, and the photographers, and the padres will go through the trip with us; and how many we lost and how many we got back, and how many ditched, and how many whatever.