Veteran Stories:
Herald “Red” Katz

Air Force

  • Badges collected by Mr. Katz: The Canadian Grenadier Guards (22nd Armoured Regiment) (top left), Metropolitan Toronto Police Badge (top right), Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) (bottom).

  • Photo of Mr. Katz taken in August, 1943 while serving in North Africa.

  • Pocket Knife issued to Mr. Katz while serving with RCAF Squadron 420.

  • (Left) Cap Badge given to Mr. Katz while serving in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), May-November 1948.
    (Right) 101 Squadron, Israeli Air Force cap badge. Mr. Katz was transfered to the Squadron and worked on the assembly and maintenance of Messerschmitt fighter aircraft seconded to the Israeli Defence Force.

  • Badge worn by Mr. Katz when he joined the Toronto Auxillary Police force in 1950

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"I was a test flight mechanic. When we repaired the aircraft, we’d have to go up with the aircraft to check it out. And that’s what I did, go up with the aircraft and check it out to see that it’s operating..."

Transcript

Well, I went overseas in 1942 and I ended up in Liverpool [England]. And from Liverpool, we went through our station in Hastings. We ended up in Hastings. It was a seaside resort, Hastings, but it was a very, very, very bad spot because the German… I was in the Marine Court Hotel. We were all in the hotel, the airmen. The Germans used to come over and they used our hotel as a turning point to bomb Hastings. And when I looked out the window one day, I see this German plane coming at me. They came across, you know, the German. And they didn’t bomb the hotel, but they used it for a guide, so they could turn and bomb Hastings, which they did, they bombed Hastings. So I thought that was… But later on, the Australians were at that hotel and the Germans bombed the hotel. They killed the Australians, the Australians that were in there. But it was very exciting. Very exciting and very dangerous. I was a test flight mechanic. When we repaired the aircraft, we’d have to go up with the aircraft to check it out. And that’s what I did, go up with the aircraft and check it out to see that it’s operating and in good shape. That was pretty well my job. We were in North Africa in 1943. The squadron [RCAF No. 420 Squadron] went to North Africa and our squadron bombed Italy for the invasion of Italy, before the invasion of Italy. I got malaria there. I had malaria. I still have, but not too bad, I have problems with malaria. As a matter of fact, I didn’t get a pension for the malaria because when I went to the sick bay, to see the doctor, the doctor had malaria and he couldn’t do anything for the airmen. Otherwise I would have got a pension for the malaria. It was on my records that I seen a doctor in North Africa. With the malaria, I would have got a pension, but like this, it wasn’t on my records. I don’t get a pension. When we were in North Africa, Sousse [Tunisia], small town, myself and a fellow from Montreal, Joe La Pointe was my friend, and we were on rehab. We went to this town for rest, it was a rest for the airmen. And I was walking through the market and I see a girl there wearing a Magen David, Star of David. So I said to Joe, speak to her in French, he spoke French. What’s that, why is she wearing that? She said, she’s Jewish, that’s why she’s wearing that. I couldn’t imagine that, in the middle of the desert, that a Jewish girl wearing a Magen David. So when Joe La Pointe told her that I’m Jewish, oh, she got very excited, that I came all the way to North Africa from Canada, thousands of miles, to meet this girl. So she was very happy to see us. But otherwise, there were a lot of Jews in Tunisia, but most of them left and went to Israel. I went up in the [Vickers] Wellington [medium range] bomber, just to see what it was like. And I went to the rear turret, where the rear gunner sat. I went into the rear turret; and this aircraft came out and, I didn’t know, it looked [like] there was someone [going] to shoot down an American plane. It was an American plane. And he got the guns and swiveled it around, aimed it at the aircraft coming at us and then at the last minute, he saw the [RAF] roundel [identification symbol] and he scooted off. But it was very lucky. He could have shot us down very easily.
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