Veteran Stories:
Rae MacLeod

Air Force

  • Rae MacLeod's medals (left to right): Distinguished Flying Cross, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, War Medal 1939-45.

  • Decades after the end of World War Two a friend of Rae MacLeod was able to obtain the declassified logs for the missions flown by MacLeod's squadron. Note the extensive details, compared to brief or even absent descriptions in pilot/crew logbooks.

  • The declassified log of Rae MacLeod's final flight with a particular squadron. The "minor damage" casually alluded to in the report came close to causing a crash landing.

  • Rae MacLeod's logbook, showing one of the missions also outlined in declassified flight logs included in MacLeod's collection. Note the difference in details.

  • Rae MacLeod and friends gathered for the wedding of one of their number. It is rare to see Air Force officers in dress uniform without their hats.

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"...we would fly from England north east to Oslo, flying about 500 feet above the ocean. Which made navigation a little bit tricky"

Transcript

My full name is Duncan Rae MacLeod. I joined the Air Force in October of 1941 in Toronto and trained as a navigator, graduating as a navigator in the fall of 1942 at which point I was appointed an instructor in navigation under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

In the fall of '43 I was posted overseas and did a tour of operations in bomber command in Halifax aircraft from Leaming, which is up in Yorkshire in the northern part of England. When we arrived on the 5th of June, '44, that night our pilot went on, what was known as, a second Dickie trip... a second pilot, with another crew, so that he would get the experience of seeing what it was like to be on a bombing raid and shot at and so forth, so we wouldn't all be in a crew with completely neophytes and panicking when we saw what terrible things were going on. The next morning the rest of the crew were waiting anxiously to make sure out pilot got back safely and we didn't want to bother him 'til he'd had a little sleep after he got home and the next morning we went in to awaken him and tell him that D-Day was last night. And he said, "Oh yeah, I started it." So we went on from there and did our tour. The tour were quite varied, we were fortunate it was just after the time when the buzz bombs had started being fired from France into London so we did a number of raids on buzz bomb sites which were pretty easy raids to go. They weren't too far and they weren't too well protected. But we also did raids into Germany. For example, Hamburg and Stuttgart. We also did a number of, what were known as mining raids, where we dropped mines in harbours so that they would not be available to the German fleet. We put mines in Oslo Harbour and the coast of France. They were kind of interesting trips but to get to Oslo, for example, you had to avoid detection, so we would fly from England north east to Oslo, flying about 500 feet above the ocean. Which made navigation a little bit tricky.

Just talking about arriving back safely, it sounds like, "well you went there and got back." But when we went on that trip, I looked up in my log book and I found that we left England at 9 PM, we would have been involved, of course, for two hours before that in the preparations and so on, the flight lasted 8 and a half hours and at 5:30 in the morning we landed at an airfield in southern England. The reason for that was that it was such a long trip to Stuttgart that we didn't have enough petrol left to get us back up to Yorkshire. When we landed at an airfield in southern England I guess they were getting ready for a daylight raid and by the time we were gassed up, we couldn't take off until they had finished their operation take off. So when we finally took off and got back to our own airport up in Yorkshire, it was 11:30 when we landed. So that was from 6 or 7 when we started briefing until noon the following day, which is quite a long day. I mention that just to indicate that, although, we talk about the flying, being shot at and all that, that there was in the background of it, there was a lot of just, go, go, keep on going.

Follow us