Veteran Stories:
A.E. Robinson

Air Force

  • A. E. Robinson in his RCAF uniform with the family dog at home in Chatham, Ontario. Mr. Robinson was 18 when he enlisted and served as a Wireless Air Gunner

  • A.E. Robinson's crew. Mr. Robinson is in the back row, far right

  • Mr. Robinson's log book with a page showing his longest trip, from Ceylon to Burma and back again, totalling 21 hours and 55 minutes

  • A B-24 [Liberator Bomber], the kind of plane that Mr. Robinson flew in most often. All of the guns had been removed from these planes to leave as much room as possible for the 1 tonne of supplies they carried. They also needed 15 tonnes of fuel needed for the long trip

  • Mr. Robinson with his training plane

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"The big danger, of course, was having enough fuel to get us there and back"

Transcript

My name is Andrew Robinson. I joined the RCAF [Royal Canadian Airforce] in 1943. After basic training we went through a series of tests to see what we were best suited for, and I was apparently very good with Morse code, so I became a radio operator and went to Guelph for nine months for training, the last month of which was practical training in St. Catharines on Norseman and Yale aircrafts. Then at Fingal, our gunnery training was in [Bristol] Blenheim Bombers, and we graduated from Fingal. Then we went up to – I think it was Lachine, Quebec, and found out where we were going to be sent to. We had a choice, really, and I think we formed a crew and chose the Far East. From there we were sent to the Bahamas for three months to train the pilots to go from twin engine to four engine planes, and we wound up flying in B-24s – Liberators, as they were known. We went overseas to India, and then we moved from India to Ceylon – which is now Sri Lanka – and were stationed at Mineria, and our job was to supply the guerrillas behind the Japanese lines in Burma. So every three days we'd take a trip, go over the Indian Ocean, drop the supplies, and then came back. The average trip was anywhere between eighteen to twenty-two hours. The real danger, if any, was first getting off the ground with all that overweight, and then once we got to Burma we had to drop below eight hundred feet to drop the supplies and then get out and come all the way back home. The big danger, of course, was having enough fuel to get us there and back. These planes weren't made to go that far. Our last flight was on V-J Day, actually, and that was the first and only time I saw Japanese aircraft. We got a little bit lost there and wound up over a Japanese airfield. I was riding in the tail turret and I was eyeball to eyeball with a Japanese fighter, but he peeled off and went away so we headed for home. After the war ended I took a liner back to England, through the Mediterranean, the Suez, the Red Sea, and then from England to Canada where I was discharged.
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