"And ultimately, our tail gunner, our plane was kind of badly damaged in that, but our tail gunner shot down the German plane at the very last really, because we were down, as I say, to 50 feet when we finally broke off and the gunner shot him down."
I did my first operational trip on the 23rd of November of 1941. And that was a ship [trip] to Dunkirk [French port on the North Sea]. Now this is Stirling bombers I flew on. So on that particular one, we carried five 1,000-pound bombs and eight 500s on our trip to Dunkirk.
You fly night flying and you fly, you navigate your way to Dunkirk, which wasn’t very far. Total trip there and back was two hours and ten minutes, because we were in south of England in Wyton [Royal Air Force air station RAF Wyton, Huntingdonshire] actually. So it wasn’t a long flight and I don’t have anything recorded as a problem actually on that one.
The next flight I did was two nights later, an operational trip to Brest [French port], which was on the coast where they have ships come in and so forth. And went to Brest and we got, on that one I have in here, I got caught in searchlights, our port inner motor - of course, the Stirling’s a four-engine plane - the port inner motor was shot up and the radio aerial was shot off. We bombed [in] heavy flak [anti-aircraft artillery fire] with five 2,000-pound bombs and our flight was five hours and 15 minutes. And that’s what I have sort of recorded in my book, so, that was, that would be exciting. I was the only Canadian on my crew. The rest were all English. We all had the same purpose, you know.
The last one, I can tell you, that we tangled with a night fighter, a German night fighter, and we started at about 17,000 feet and ended at about 50 feet above the ocean or the North Sea. And ultimately, our tail gunner, our plane was kind of badly damaged in that, but our tail gunner shot down the German plane at the very last really, because we were down, as I say, to 50 feet when we finally broke off and the gunner shot him down. And so we then were on our way home. And so we had to sort of determine - we were over, I think it was over Kiel [German Baltic Sea port], July of 1942, and that was my last flight. And I’ve got here “night ops Hamburg [German city], reached and bombed target, in searchlights for 13 minutes, crossed the coast at 50 feet and last op of our tour.” But I know that our tail gunner shot down this German aircraft, fighter aircraft.