Veteran Stories:
Aubrey Dutch

Air Force

  • Certificate of Discharge belonging to Airman Aubrey Dutch, 1945.

  • The Birla Temple in New Delhi.

  • Aubrey Dutch's Medals. Left to Right: 1939-1945 Star; Burma Star; Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal 1939-1945.

  • The Taj Mahal at Agra. Photo taken by Aubrey Dutch while stationed in India.

  • Pagoda in Burma. In one corner is a "Chinthe", which is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a dog.

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"It was a dirty war down there because they faced what they didn’t face in Europe... It wasn't an easy war for the fellows down there."

Transcript

Aubrey Dutch, Royal Canadian Air Force. My training (laughing)... I was screwed in the training. I had an accident. Some guy hit me in the back. We had a game and he hit me in the back and I went on the floor, banged my knee. Got water on my knee. Laid up for ten days. And I should have gone to St. Thomas, Ontario for a ten-month course as an airplane mechanic, and, when I came back from the hospital leave, and I asked to go, he said, "Oh. No. No." He says, "There's... there's no room. Your place was taken by somebody else. Here's the book." Gave me a book about two inches thick. "Study on your own." This is a ten-month course. So I - eight hours a day for five days a week for ten months - so at night, for two hours every night, when the guys were playing games and the radio was on, I had to study my course. That was the course I got in that Royal Canadian Air Force.

I entered the Air Force as AC2, which means Air Craftsman Second Class. I took the exam, I passed it. I became AC1, Air Craftsman First Class. And then in England I took my third test for an LAC, which means a Leading Air Craftsman and I passed that one. Fortunately for me, they didn't ask questions that I didn't know.

I flew down in May of 1944 to Calcutta. And I don't like sitting around, I love walking. I got out on the main drag which is called Charingi Road and I looked halfway down the street, I see an officer walking up the street. And as he gets close to me... he's a south Montreal. And his sister and my sister were good friends. And he said to me, "Aubrey, what are you doing here?" I said... I told him. So he said, "How many of you are they?" I said, "There's nine of us." He said, "Keep them all together, I'm going to get a photographer from the RCAF." And about two years later I got them by mail. So, just by pure fluke. You don't expect to see a fellow from Montreal walking down a street in Calcutta. But I met him in Calcutta in the main drag.

We were there as a support group. We were sent by the Canadian Government. Why we went down there, I have no idea. I can only see that we were part of a group of Transport Squadron. There was seven British, eight American and two Canadian. And we were all down there helping the 14th Indian Army that was fighting the Japanese. And that's what we did. We were dropping supplies for the 14th Army. We were flying seven days a week, eight or twelve hours a day. There was three flights of four hours each, a round trip, until finally, we started on the 19th of December of 1944 and we finished on August the 15th when Japan surrendered. We were a support group and we didn't do the actual fighting but, we were supporting the ones who did the fighting. Like the Indian Army fighting in the jungles. And it was a dirty war down there because they faced what they didn't face in Europe - they had tropical diseases down there. They had monsoon rains that used to come between May and September. It wasn't an easy war for the fellows down there. We were dropping supplies to the Indian Army about two or three miles behind the front line and this is one of the reasons the Japanese were pushed back all the way from the Indian-Burma border all the way down to Rangoon, which is at the bottom of Burma.

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