Squadron 107 of Royal Canadian Air Force.
L-R: Pollard; Derosier; Bellachey; Sanderson; Aiken; Turner; McClurgo, May 1944.
Albert Sanderson standing in front of an A-20 Boston (which he learned to fly along with Mosquito Fighter Bombers), October 1943.Canadian Press Photo
A Navigator (Left) with Albert Sanderson during a debriefing.Canadian Press Photo
Operation Training: Crash in Delbert, Nova Scotia, 1944-45 (no one was killed).Air Force Staff Photo
Mosquito Plane that crashed in the bush, 1944-45.Air Force Staff Photo
"The speed, maneuverability and we were well armed. You didn’t get much of an argument when you had four machine guns and four canons and a bomb load."
I joined the air force or attempted to join the air force in 1940 but they were only taking university graduates or students with a fair amount of academic training. And they didn’t accept me until January of 1941 and they enlisted me on June the 20th, 1941.
Well, after Manning Depot at Brandon [Manitoba] and guard duty in Calgary, I went to Initial Training School in Edmonton and then High River, Alberta for elementary training on Tiger Moth [trainer planes]. And then back to Brandon where I had started for service flying on Cessna Cranes. And then almost immediately overseas.
I got to an advanced flying unit, flew Oxfords and then after that, to my first Operational Training Unit [OTU]. Well, I did a short stint with 6 Group, with their Wellingtons. And this is maybe a little irrelevant but they found out that my legs were a little short for controlling the aircraft on a single engine. So they did an unusual thing. The squadron leader said I could have a choice of three things. I could go home and instruct, I could stay over in England and instruct, or they give me anything I wanted. So I said, give me fighter bombers. So I lost my crew, they stayed with 424 squadron but they sent me back to an OTU [operational training unit] and I trained on lighter, medium aircraft and went to Bostons and Mosquitoes.
The speed, maneuverability and we were well armed. You didn’t get much of an argument when you had four machine guns and four canons and a bomb load. Two of us were sent out to, well, there was going to be about six or eight of us all told but we were the lead two aircraft to bomb a marshalling yard. And this, near as I can determine, what I’m about to say is quite factual. The fellow that outranked me that I was with and was supposed to be flying in a loose formation with him, took off when we got to France and we normally flew out about 1,500 feet, he was way down near the ground the last time I saw him. He just disappeared for whatever reason from our location. I don’t know if he was having problems or not but I never did discuss it with him afterwards. But he took off and my navigator says, if we follow him around, we’ll never get to the target. So we kept on going and when we got near the target, they were about 1,500 feet at the time, they opened up on us with a lot of tracer and anti-aircraft. It was quite frightening, I’ll admit. You expected every one of them to hit you in a bad spot.
I opened up with the four machine guns and the four canons and waved the nose around and they quit firing at us. Never saw another tracer or anything come up. I guess they did hit us because we had a hydraulic failure. And I got two bombs out of the bomb bay and there was only two or three [other bombers] arrived at the target for some reason. There was cloud but he [another member of the crew] said there was two direct hits on the main buildings there.
My two live bombs on the wings wouldn’t jettison or release, so we came back with two bombs on the wings and my navigator pumped the undercarriage down and then he pumped the flaps down. But we set it down very, very gently and we survived that one.