Veteran Stories:
William Austin Byrnes

Air Force

  • William A. Byrnes (middle), on home leave shortly after his enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force, flanked by his mother, Anastasia, and his father, William John, in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, 1941.

    William A. Byrnes
  • William A. Byrnes posing with a cheetah somewhere in Africa during his service with No. 117 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

    William A. Byrnes
  • William A. Byrnes during his Royal Canadian Air Force basic training at RCAF Station Penhold, Penhold, Alberta, 1941.

    William A. Byrnes
  • Pages from William A. Byrnes' Royal Canadian Air Force Service Flying Log Book. The entries document flights from September 1944 ranging from Gibraltar to India, and numerous African and Asian points in-between.

    William A. Byrnes
  • William A. Byrnes' service medals (left to right): 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (CVSM); 1939-45 War Medal.

    William A. Byrnes
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"I liked the flying. We were out 18, 20 hours some days searching for subs. We didn’t find any."

Transcript

I went in to sign up and they put in they put me in the Royal Canadian Air Force, [No.] 117 [Squadron] BR [Bombing Reconnaissance]. We were out looking for subs, 18 and 20 hours sometimes. Wireless operator/air gunner. Wireless operators travelled, and worked in RT [radio telephony]. There was a pilot and a navigator. The pilot was from Saskatoon [Saskatchewan], Johnnie Peaker. The navigator was from Kelowna [British Columbia]. I liked the flying. We were out 18, 20 hours some days searching for subs. We didn’t find any. Just went and did what they told me to do. Just went and did what they told me. Hurry over here and stand over here, wait over there.
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