Copy of Mr. Allenby's RCAF Service Army Book.Mr. Allenby
Flyers dropped from Aircraft warning of the dangers of Russia.Mr. Allenby
Various German food stamps and money.Ken Allenby
Mr. Allenby is pictured here sitting on atop the stepladder with a screw driver in hand. Mr. Allenby was engaged as the fitter assigned to service his Spitfire aircraft. One of the squadron pilots, Art Tooley, is pictured here as well. Belgium, 1944.Kenneth Allenby
Mr. Allenby is pictured painting the body of the Spitfire. All Aircraft were required to be identified with white stripes.Mr. Allenby
"When we landed on the Continent and then the first time this truck came, and they brought a corpse wrapped in the brown blanket, and it hit home that people are dying here."
When we landed in France, we found out that we had landed at the wrong airfield, that the airfield we landed in hadn’t really been taken yet, so a wing commander, which is a memorable way to get over there, landing alone, thinking ahead, oh boy, we’re going to be in the [Normandy] invasion. The maintenance wing commander come running out to the airplane and he told us to get off right away because they bomb us as soon as an airplane lands here. So whatever. We turned around and took off, and then landed on the thing. We were the first air force people to land and start operating in France at that time.
This one place that we stopped at, we were only there for a couple of days, we ended up in one tent after all the gang had gone and we were doing the whatever, cleanup, to make sure that we didn’t leave anything or whatever. So we had one tent full and as it turned out, the ‘chiefy,’ the flight sergeant, was with us and during the night, the night fighters happened to fly right over our aircraft; and we could hear the empty shells and so on from whatever aircraft, whistling down. You just lay there and you think, well, are we going to get strafed, or whatever? And it is, it’s a thought that passes, but it’s a momentary thing. It isn’t something that your mind dwells on and it’s kind of, in a way, I guess, unless you’re a person that shouldn’t be there in the first place, you’re thinking, oh boy, what am I going to do next? And it is just the excitement of the moment and if it passes and you’re lucky, then nothing dangerous happens.
As it turned out, we were quite all right there, but you look back upon it now and there were times when the biggest thing that we used to be real serious about were the flying bombs [German V-1 Fieseler fi 103 rockets, also known as buzz bombs]. They could come over and we were right in the pathway when we were up in Holland, where they were going to bomb Antwerp [Belgium] and so on, and it was a thing. We had these things that landed quite close. One of them landed right near our dispersal and left a hole in the ground that you could plant your house in. If you were lucky, it never landed in your tent and this kind of thing. So you just carried on because you knew you were there, you had to do your job and you had missed that one.
We had good moments and bad moments but, all in all, we were successful doing what we were supposed to be there to do. When we landed in Bény-sur-Mer, our first stop in the invasion, the army people that had been killed or being killed were brought to a place that was right at the airfield; and as it turns out now, it’s one of the burial grounds, Bény-sur-Mer. So at night, this buddy of mine and I would go and help dig the gravesites. So we didn’t realize it at the time that that was going to be one of the gravesites of our killed troops that it is now.
But then right at the near point behind our airfield was where they were collecting all the bombs and whatever that they found in the fields and so on; and as it turned out, one of the land mines, I guess, one of the fellows handling it had dropped it or whatever, and it exploded. They said it was a possibility of the whole ammo dump blowing up, but it was just this one thing that I remember because I was sitting beside one of our trucks, leaning against the back tires; and all of a sudden, the whole truck shook and it was a pretty, you didn’t know whether you’d been bombed or whatever because at this time, the jets, the German jets had started to fly over and you couldn’t see them or hear them or anything, but when they went over, they were dropping things on the military. If you were unlucky, then they were aiming for you, but these are all, they didn’t happen, so it is again something that you have in mind at the time: are we going to be lucky today or are we going to have something that we will not remember?
When we landed on the Continent and then the first time this truck came, and they brought a corpse wrapped in the brown blanket, and it hit home that people are dying here. Other than that, you didn’t have any direct contact with it until that happened. This buddy of mine says, you know what we can do, Ken? He says, we can help here to do something for these people and I hadn’t even thought of it. There are still people just, they’re dead, they’re still people; and he says, maybe we can help dig some graves at night. It’s a bit of a shock then when you found that an army person was there that had been fighting and had been killed, that it hits you pretty hard that regardless how successful you’re doing getting your airplanes up in the air and back and forth, but there are still people getting killed. So you’re trying to do what you can to alleviate whatever. If you have time on your hands and you can do something to help, then this is what we did anyway.