Crew of Lancaster 428 Sqdn. RCAF: W/Op. M. Laporte, A/B H. McKay, Pilot V. Gaskin, Nav. M. Elie, F/Eng. T. Hickman, R/Gunner R. Playter, Mid/Upper Gunner J. Keating
Flight Lieutenant Victor Gaskin at age 24.
428 Sqdn. Middleton St.George. Remains of Lancaster crash attributed to engine trouble on February 3, 1945. Crown Copyright.
Notebook page from RAF Station, Bramcote, Warwickshire in September 1943. The Colonel Puff Drinking Game required completing several precise movements several times, in which Victor Gaskin succeeded.
"The port wing dug into the ground and spun us around 270 degrees. The aircraft broke in half"
My name is Victor Gaskin. I was in World War II as a pilot - Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
On February the 2nd, 1945, I was stationed in Middleton St. George, which is in the north of England, with 428 RCAF Squadron. Flying Lancasters. We were briefed to go to bomb a target called Wiesbaden in Germany. When we departed I was not in my regular aircraft because I had volunteered to fly an aircraft that we designated L-Love, since several pilots had reported that it was not really a good aircraft and I wanted to find out what was wrong with it.
Shortly after take-off I found that it would not perform well. It was underpowered and we had difficulty reaching height with the bomb load that we carried. After some time, flying down England, we were able to get up to our height but, when we reached the Channel, on our way to France, the engineer was asked, by myself, to calculate our fuel consumption. We had gone to three engines and he estimated that we would be able to get back to France but we would never get across the Channel to England. We then headed out to what was known as a drop zone to reduce our weight by dropping our high explosives. And, after we did that, we headed back north. At this point, we had a second engine which was giving us trouble and we were forced to stop that engine as well. The aircraft would not perform on two engines, in order to get us back to base; therefore, I said we would start up the original engine, which we had stopped because of over-heating and see if that would help us. That got us back to our base but, as we were coming in to land, one of the engines quit and the aircraft veered to the left, taking us off the runway, across some buildings, in the middle of the night, until I saw a white building, which I believed was the local pub, and decided there was a farmer's field there and we would go down there. We, therefore, cut everything and went into the farmer's field. Unfortunately, in the darkness, you couldn't really see well. The field wasn't all that level and the port wing dug into the ground and spun us around 270 degrees. The aircraft broke in half. Three engines were torn out.
We all got out of the aircraft because the incendiaries were beginning to catch fire and headed to a ditch where we could take shelter. Unfortunately, when I counted noses, I was missing both of my gunners. My navigator and I went back to the aircraft to try to find the two gunners but no response to our calls was received. When I got back to the shelter area, I told the crew that I was going to go up the field and see if I could find the farmhouse. I did and set off down the road with the farmer who, fortunately, had a car. And we saw another vehicle coming our way so we stopped, flagged it down and it turned out to be from our squadron.
We returned to the scene of the crash and an ambulance arrived and took all my crew. When I enquired, they told me that both of my gunners were dead. This was my last trip - number twenty-nine - because I was then screened and came home.