Veteran Stories:
Daniel Lee

Air Force

  • Daniel Lee's Royal Canadian Air Force Hat. Mr. Lee served with the Mail Transport Squadron which was formed because Merchant Ships carrying mail and parcels kept getting torpedoed. Mail from home was needed to keep troops' morale high.

    Daniel Lee
  • Although he was born in Canada in 1924, Mr. Lee was classified as an alien when his parents registered his birth.

    Daniel Lee
  • Letter from Mr. Lee, then President of the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans, Pacific Unit 280, to the Chinese Benevolent Society in Vancouver, urging them to get involved in the discussions about the Chinese Head Tax.

    Daniel Lee
  • Daniel Lee in 1940.

    Daniel Lee
  • Daniel Lee at the Chinese Canadian Military Museum, in Vancouver, British Columbia, December 2009.

    Vincent Chan, Invisionation
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"At that time in England, they were still having the flying bombs (we called ‘Doodlebugs’) with engines, to attack areas of London…"

Transcript

My name is Daniel Lee. I joined the service in the RCAF in 1942. The squadron I served with, in the panicked motto we called them then, "We Keep Them Flying." That means that any aircraft we serviced, they'd get to their destination and safely home again.

While serving in the RCAF with 168 Heavy Transport Squadron, we were flying Flying Fortresses – the B-17 – acquired from the United States Bomber Training Command, and they were best described by the one pilot as, "Third-hand rejects." It was a tough and arduous task for all trades to get these aircraft brought up to our airworthy standards. Engines had to be changed to a better performing type, and interiors with modifications to carry the heavy loads intended for them.

Transport Command was under heavy pressure to get our aircraft as soon as possible, of which the main purpose was to boost morale of the servicemen. A parcel or a letter from home was just as important as ammunition.

Our home base was Rockcliffe, Ontario. Before I left Rockcliffe, my two brothers were in the Army at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, and they were heading for their ship in Halifax and going overseas to India, via UK and Suez. On a forty-eight hour pass, I was walking with another airman in London, the Palladium, we bumped into my brothers and cousin with their army buddies. What a real surprise! They were... in Ottawa, and I did not get to see them.

At that time in England, they were still having the flying bombs (we called 'Doodlebugs') with engines, to attack areas of London, and when the engines on these Doodlebugs quit, then the bomb would explode when it hit the ground.

Younger people nowadays, they haven't the faintest idea what happened back in those days. Just like when we were younger, in our time, they would talk about the First World War. So I have to tell them what happened in our generation.

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