Veteran Stories:
Frederick Parent

Air Force

  • Frederick Parent (front, far right) and air crew on base circa 1942

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"We were actually, you could say "shot-down." Not so that we fell out of the sky in one swoop, but we could not continue to fly"

Transcript

We were actually, you could say "shot-down." Not so that we fell out of the sky in one swoop, but we could not continue to fly. The difficulty with that, of course, is that we're at 10,000 feet, and it's January or February, I think... it's early in the year. And we're over Norway, which is pretty cold. So you can imagine that having the wind coming through the airplane - it's really, really bitterly cold. We were dressed, but not dressed for that. We weren't dressed to be proof of cold. The pilot and the flight engineer are trying to fly this plane in a, you know, 100-200 mile an hour hurricane of cold wind. So they're really having a tough time. And they actually both suffered quite severe frostbite. And it was very fortunate for them that we... well, we didn't choose, but we landed in Sweden on an emergency basis. And that was very good because the Swedes know something about frostbite. And they could save, with their expertise... I mean, neither the pilot nor the flight engineer who were frostbitten lost any fingers or toes, you know, or any members of their body, which, I think if they'd gone down someplace else with a more primitive understanding, they would have done that. We had this usual bad landing, and everyone's telling the skipper what a lousy pilot he is. Of course, in his case, he wasn't doing so well as usual, on account of being frostbitten. And at one point we decided... we discussed - I'll put it this way - as far as you could discuss anything in an airplane. We discussed whether we should not bail out. We'd gotten over Sweden, we were actually no longer over the sea, and we discussed whether or not we should bail out. Because the airplane was so difficult to fly, and it was so uncomfortable up here we might as well jump. Well, I went to the back door and I looked down. Now, I'll tell you the exact situation of flying over Sweden. When I came back from Europe one time on a civilian flight, we flew over Newfoundland, and it's just like flying over Newfoundland. You have a forest of pines and spruce below you, and you have some tiny lakes. Every few miles there's a little hole in the forest where there's some water. And that's exactly the picture we were getting in Sweden. And I said, as far as my contribution to the discussion, was that I didn't think we would do very good if we jumped out - we'd either find ourselves in water, or hanging up on a tree. Forget it.
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