Veteran Stories:
Fred Mullen

Air Force

  • F/Lt. Fred Mullen in his service uniform in 1941.

  • Graduates of the Radar School at the University of Saskatchewan Detachment, RCAF. 1939.

  • F/O S. Jones, F/L J. Hendry and F/Lt. F. Mullen pose in front of "home." Mr Mullen, along with Mobile Radar unit #15092 lived in these tents for two years, even in winter, as their unit worked their way through Europe.

  • Souvenirs from Mr. Mullen's time in Northeastern Europe. The miniature shoes are from Brussels and the Christmas card was on top of a cake from locals in Beligium and reads: "Thanks to our dear liberators."

  • Mr. Mullen wearing his medals in 1996 and the commemorative medal he received for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day.

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"Luckily, we were still there, but it was rather eerie because the rocket arrives before the sound does."

Transcript

My name is Fred Mullen. I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. That was when everything was so grim and we were losing battles all around. And I thought I should do a little bit of helping out. I heard about radar. The fellow said, "Oh yes, this is the thing to get into." He told me about it and I said, "Well, I think maybe I'll be a fighter pilot or something like that. Do something worthwhile." He says, "No, no, no!! This is my top priority, and I have to get people like you into radar." We were away to radar and we did some training in Canada, and then I went to a radar station in England. The RAF had really developed the radar system, and it really was the winning ace in the Battle of Britain, where they detected planes and then sent out their scarce, very limited defences and resources. After that, I was on a mobile radar unit to go on the Second Front, landing in Europe. I was the CO of the unit and I had thirty vehicles and ninety men on the unit. We worked our way up through France, and at (?), July 1944 a V-2, which was the German supersonic rocket came at us and blasted us and blew us over. Luckily, we were still there, but it was rather eerie because the rocket arrives before the sound does. This was the first encounter we had had with this. We continued our way up, and in Holland, our job there was to protect the three bridges at Nijmegen. It was very interesting because at night we could see these red rocket trails in the air of the German V-2s being launched against London, so it was rather scary. Another interesting story was on New Years' morning, 1945. The German fighter-bombers attacked Brussels airport. I happened to be at the airport at that time, and they destroyed hundreds of planes sitting on the runway and we said, "How could this happen?" Another radar unit had detected fifty-plus planes coming in, reported it to the sector operations, and were told by the duty controller, "Don't be so silly! Germany doesn't have that many planes anymore." They pleaded and threatened and told him this was fact, but to no avail, so there were no defences scrambled to intercept them.
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