Veteran Stories:
Myron “Bill” Laidlaw

Air Force

  • Air Vice-Marshal A. Earl Godfrey inspecting personnel of No.116 (BR) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.), Botwood, Newfoundland, September 1943.
    Bill Laidlaw served in Botwood from the spring of 1942 until the end of the war.
    Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-114774.

    Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-114774
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"I had a friend who was about the same age I was. We both went down to enlist."

Transcript

I was born in the city of Toronto, May the 31st, 1920. I grew up around Avenue Road and St. Clair, right across from Brown School. That was a public school. That was the public school I went to. I suppose I grew up in the Depression time. I was never, what should I say, there was always bread on the table during the Depression, I was one of the lucky ones. I had a good, a good upbringing and a good Christian family. I had a friend who was about the same age I was. We both went down to enlist. From St. Thomas [Ontario], I got posted down to Halifax, Eastern Air Command. And we were living out and I was living on Twin Pole Road. And I was there when the Americans were bombed at Pearl Harbor. I was there until I guess the spring and I got posted down to Scoudouc [New Brunswick]. It was a repair station for the air force where they bring aircraft in that were in accidents and do major repairs. And then from there, I was posted, this is back I’m talking about 1941, this would be the spring of 42, I was posted to Botwood, Newfoundland. And in those days, Newfoundland wasn’t in Canada. So it was an overseas posting. So we got to wear Canada badges on our battle dress and we went to Newfoundland, in a little town, it was a seaplane base, which had three Cansos. Cansos are an aircraft flying boat. And they would go, two would go out and patrol probably 100 miles out with convoys and come back. And while I was there, I don’t know whether you’d remember the Sikorsky, it was a flying boat. And it used to fly across the ocean and this flying boat was out in the bay in Botwood. And it was taking off this night for New York. And it only got about 50 feet in the air and it made a nosedive, went right into the water and split in two. And I was sitting on a slipway with another chap and my God, we witnessed all this and it carried about eight people I guess and two pilots. We didn’t go out to where the accident was but other people did. And some people were rescued and brought in. We didn’t have a... we had a makeshift hospital. And there were about three people that drowned. They were picked up, but they drowned. So that was quite an experience to see.
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