Veteran Stories:
E.W. Minnes

Air Force

  • 'Bud' Minnes at the controls of a CANSO Amphibious aircraft, wearing his 'lucky' skycap. It shows the barren structure of the RCAF craft, with metal box seats and a parachute cushion worn at all times. Photo taken by Minnes pal F/O Al Glover Nov. 1944.

  • A CANSO amphibious aircraft used by 163 Squadron at Summerside, P.E.I. Minnes flew as a second pilot after completing a coastal command / navy reconnaissance course. Courtesy of Bud Minnes, November 1944.

  • A group of pilots ready to go on convoy protection duties from Summerside, P.E.I. F/O Bud Minnes (3rd from left in back row) and his friends dressed warmly for the aircraft, and the average age of these pilots was 21 years. Courtesy of E.W. Minnes, 1944.

  • Commando Course in Maitland, Nova Scotia which Minnes completed for survival training in August of 1944. Nine obstacles and live ammunition rounds were used to chase the airmen, and they ran 12 miles a day while learning man-to-man combat techniques.

  • Bud Minnes (upper right) and his six aircrew pilot comrades while in the initial stages of pilot training in Montreal in June 1943. They were posted on special training programs designed to prepare for flying amphibious types of aircraft.

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"It's a wonderful life, to have the experiences of meeting people in different situations.."

Transcript

Hi, this is Bud Minnes. I was in the [Royal Canadian] Air Force for a period of time, toward the end of the war when things were starting to wind down in the European conflict. Convoys that we were protecting going out of Canada would be as many as a hundred ships, and we'd have to wait outside the harbours, or we'd meet them outside the harbours of either St. John, New Brunswick, or St. John's, Newfoundland. And the convoys could only go as fast as the slowest of the ships, and there were some pretty old tankers and tramp steamers that were in those convoys. And the total group would only move at a rate of about ten knots. That's a little more than ten miles, let's say, per hour. And we did searches all in the area around the convoys, so that we would be looking for signs of any submarine action, or even surface vessels as well. We did have a couple of situations where we had to chase the bad guys out. They had pretty good vision, too, from what we found. They knew that we were there, and we knew that they were there, but we couldn't really put our pinpoint finger on each other. It was a cat and mouse game. The [CANSO amphibious] aircraft had a flight durability of up to eighteen hours, which made a long trip... that you would be quite a ways out by the time you were ready to turn around and come home. What we found, rather interestingly, admittedly by our naval friends - you never fly over a ship. If they have a gun on board, they're going to shoot you with it. They don't care who you are. If you fly over their ship, you're ready for it. So we learned not to fly over them, but we got very friendly with some of them at times, with the blinker lights and morse code. It's a wonderful life, to have the experiences of meeting people in different situations, locations. And for a lot of people, it's their first time away from home and can be a little scary, but also has a great effect of maturity very quickly. I'm not suggesting that you go out and join up and try to make yourself a world traveler, but it is great for discipline and a wonderful opportunity for advancement. The work that I have applied to my professional career since being in the services has happened in innumerable situations, where you don't realize it until... oh, I learned that in the services. So I strongly recommend. It's a good opportunity to, as they say, see the world.
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