Philip Zeman at his home in Kelowna, 2009.Historica Canada
"We went to patrol the North Pacific because the Japanese were sending submarines up to Sitka, Alaska. So we’d fly out over the Pacific, looking for submarines."
I was born on the northeast quarter of section 30, township 29, range two, west of the third meridian. I used to go out and milk the cows, separate the milk from the cream, feed the calves, feed the pigs, chickens, geese, turkeys.
Well, it was wartime. All the kids were enlisting in either the navy, army or air force. And I chose the air force. Well, I heard about the radar and I thought I’d become an electrical engineer, and the air force was probably the best way to go.
We went to patrol the North Pacific because the Japanese were sending submarines up to Sitka, Alaska. So we’d fly out over the Pacific, looking for submarines. It [the radar] is like a T.V. and you’re looking for signals from the ocean that would pinpoint an object. If it was an enemy submarine, it would not signal back that it was friendly, because you could contact them with, with the radar. And if it was a friendly object, it would signal back that it was friendly.
Signals were just a reflection from the object in the sea. You’d send out a signal and the reflection would come back to your receiver. You’d have a transmitter that would send out a signal, and your receiver would search for the reflection, if there was any. And if it was a big signal and you knew it was friendly, or there was a, an exaggerated blip, which is the friendly object, would receive your signal and rebroadcast it stronger. But an enemy object wouldn’t rebroadcast it, it would just, you’d just get the reflection from the surface of the object. Well, we carried depth charges and we’d drop one of them on the signal.