Veteran Stories:
Edgar N. Hester

Air Force

  • Edgar Hester's identity card that he was issued in February of 1942 by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Mr. Hester worked at radar stations during the war.

  • The reverse of Edgar Hester's identity card showing his first posting to Clinton, Ontario, 14 October 1942

  • Radar Bulletin Poster

  • Another of Edgar Hester's identity cards used during his time in the service. This one was issued in 1944.

  • The reverse of Edgar Hester's 1944 identity card. This was issued by the British Royal Air Force. Mr. Hester was one of the many Canadian radar mechanics who worked at British radar stations

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"I don’t know why the Lancaster hit, because we had huge obstruction lights on the top."

Transcript

My name is Edgar N. Hester. I was one of the first groups drafted by Canada to do thirty days' training back in October of 1940. I was sent to Long Branch. There were a thousand men there and they were into four regiments, and we had five platoons to each regiment and at the end of thirty days there were two Lance Corporals appointed and I was one of the Lance Corporals, and I got an extra twenty cents a day. They did three thirty day groups and then the government realized that thirty days wasn't much so they decided the next group would be in for four months, and while that next group was in for four months they decided that they would not get out – they would be conscripts – and I realized that it was just a matter of time until they got us thirty day guys back for the four months so I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. I decided to become a radar mechanic and when I got overseas I was situated with No. 7, 3 Wing in Yorkshire. Was sent from Yorkshire down to RAF Bard Hill in Norfolk. At RAF Bard Hill we had two radar installations. We had a regular radar station that picked out aircraft, and we also had what they called a 'K station'. The 'K station,' also known as a Centimetre Station, was used to plot enemy shipping or attack vessels approaching the coast of England. Originally it was a hundred and eighty foot oil derrick that was to be shipped to South America before the war started. They used it for picking up shipping between Norfolk and the Dutch coast, so when I did my tube hours at the one station I was at, I had to go across to this 'K station' and take their hours. The radio tube hours we took was the time the stations had been on the air, so that our mechanics could change the large transmitting tubes before their estimated time for usefulness ran out. So I went over there, and a WAAF said to me, "Will you have some beans and toast?" and I said, "No, I'll wait until I come back down." So anyway, I went up to take my hours and when I came down she said, "Beans and toast?" and I said yes. I was eating my beans and toast when a Lancaster hit our tower, about two thirds of the way up. Obviously, if I had had my beans and toast before I went up I would have been in the tower when the Lancaster hit. I don't know why the Lancaster hit, because we had huge obstruction lights on the top. I remained there until the war with Japan was over, and finally I was posted back to Canada back in early '45.
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