Lyle Dales (left) with fellow airmen Cliff and Bill in Trafalgar Square, London, England, 1944.Lyle Dales
Select pages from Lyle Dales' Flight Log Book from 1940-1946.Lyle Dales
Lyle Dales in Burma, 1945.Lyle Dales
Lyle Dales standing in front of his sleep quarters in Burma, 1945.Lyle Dales
Mr. Lyle Dales on December 8, 2010 in Milton, Ontario.Historica Canada
"It was, and we did, we dropped troops, we dropped supplies to the men because Burma had no roads, just trails. Well, a few roads, but through the jungle. It’s really bad jungles"
We went to India and, of course, that’s when I went on that squadron. Because we were jump masters, I was a jump master [supervised paratroopers jumping from the airplane]. But my navigator, the pilot, he was a sickly guy and he would get sick, you know, when he was flying, and it was tremendously hot in this hot sun. And he’d get sick, he’d go to sleep. And he’d quite often say, Lyle, will you take over, I can’t fly? You see, I’d always wanted to be a pilot, so I was just damned ready for it.
And then one day, we were taking off from right over the Irrawaddy River [in Burma], from, I forget the name of the place, but a little runway. And one motor quit. And just like that, I knew what was wrong because I knew how to fly the damn plane. And I just hit that feather button. There’s two feather buttons there and which one’s which, well, I knew. Thank goodness because if I hit the wrong one, we’d been [bang]. It was bad enough if we hadn’t got the motor going, we’d been in the soup, and that’s a big river.
But anyway, we got it down and then he couldn’t get it going again. So we were there for two or three days, I don’t remember how long, right on the edge of the jungle and we got malaria there from being, we didn’t have any mosquito nets running. And we got malaria there and we had to be fixed for that, even on the boat coming home.
It was an RAF [No.] 194 Squadron. It was, and we did, we dropped troops, we dropped supplies to the men because Burma had no roads, just trails. Well, a few roads, but through the jungle. It’s really bad jungles, yeah. And then the [British] 14th Army in the jungle, they were the fighters, you see, and they hard times getting something to eat because in the jungle, you couldn’t drink the water. The food we dropped was rice. They used to put it in like 100 pound bags and then they’d put it in a bigger bag and then they’d put it in a great big one, about like a double bed mattress. It was 100 pounds or 200 pounds. And we’d have to, you know what it’s like to handle that.
So we had to drop those and we’d have to pile them up like, the pilot would go this way and then we piled them up when he was making the circuit, and then we’d try and shove them out. Now, we shoved those out anywhere from 300 to 700 feet, I think. And they would go down and they would break the first two bags, put the third one would hold it [the rice]. Otherwise, they would be lost, you see. And we even took 30 gallon drums of gas, just the two of us in there, trying to roll them around when we were going around the circuit, the plane going like this. If I hadn’t have been strong, I would have never done it.
They’d have a little clearing somewhere in the jungle. Now, if my navigator hadn’t have been a real gem of a man, he was a professor, he’d taught somewhere out west in the university, or something. And he was bright and he could always find it [the clearings]. I know others couldn’t because apparently nobody else that I was talking to dropped troops, but we did. We dropped a lot of Gurkhas [soldiers in the British Indian Army]. And they were the greatest guys. You just stand at the door and line them all up. I had to line them all up and then I’d have to get the wire on them and their chutes on them, and everything. And make sure they were ready to go because if I didn’t have them wired up right or something, there’d be trouble.
Two hundred and 22 trips we made out there. Now some of them were good and some of them were not, but we always found the place and we always dropped it. We didn’t drop it unless they were there to tell us where, yeah.
Interview date: 8 December 2010