Veteran Stories:
Howard McNamara

Air Force

  • Howard McNamara in Air Force uniform, 1944

  • Howard McNamara circa 1999.

  • Paris Leave Map, 1944. Given to Canadian soldiers of all branches of service, the booklet showcases the attractions and general services available in Paris, France

  • Close up detail of Howard McNamara's silk escape map, showing Austria

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"I’ve been asked several times what were your thoughts at the time. Well, you don’t think, you react and you think after when you get down."

Transcript

My name is Howard McNamara and I was a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After doing operational training in England, we volunteered for service in the Middle East. From there, through my operational service, I was attached to the RAF fighting in the North African desert campaign and the Italian campaign, which lasted, in my case, from around 1942 'til the end of '44. We'd be on duty from 12 one day 'til 12 the next day. And then off duty from 12 that day 'til 12 the following day. In other words, we were on 24-hour periods in alternate days. After a certain length of time we'd come out on a week or a ten-day leave and then go back into action. We were well trained to react to all actions, I would say. So, whenever attacks or whatever came up we were, more or less, trained to react immediately. I've been asked several times what were your thoughts at the time. Well, you don't think, you react and you think after when you get down. We were stationed in Corsica and we flew across to Italy. But we used to escort bombers to the north of Italy during that campaign to disrupt communications and supply lines. Also we went over without escorting bombers to draft communications by ourselves, in the valleys, in the mountains. And we used to blow up trains and whatever we'd find on the road. When I came home on leave and, as the war was nearing its end, they more or less gave us the opportunity of retiring early so, having lost my brother just in the Fall of '44, my family asked me if I would mind taking advantage of retiring early, so I did, which ended my career in the Air Force in March, 1945.
Follow us