Veteran Stories:
Keith Flanigan

Air Force

  • Pages from Keith Flanigan's log book.

    Keith Flanigan
  • Pages from Keith Flanigan's log book.

    Keith Flanigan
  • A picture with a caption that reads "Previously Missing on Active Service - Now Presumed Dead; McLEAN, George Daryll, F.O. [Flight Officer], Mrs. G.D. McLean (wife); Hopewell Ave., Ottawa"

    Keith Flanigan
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"I was the first out and my job was to open the escape hatch and then lead the way out. So I was the first out after the hatch was released and I landed somewhere between the two front lines, which was the River Maas."

Transcript

Mack McLean from Ottawa, Bill Chapman from Meaford [Ontario], were my two best friends in the service that I kept track of until each was killed in 1945. Well, we were told it was a special raid [on Dresden, Germany] when we got to the briefing and we were told that the Russians were marshaling troops to attack Germany from the south. And that we were to provide air cover by way of bombing of the city of Dresden, which we did. And it became notorious later on where it was alleged that there were no troops there but only civilians. And that many thousands of civilians were killed in the fire bomb that ensued after or as a result of the bombing.

But of course, the one that stands out most of all was the time we were shot down coming back from Duisburg on 21st/22nd of February, 1945. Well, we were coned by searchlights coming out of Dresden over the River Maas, M-A-A-S, and we were then attacked by a fighter plane, which according to the Americans on the ground, was shot down by our rear gunner, well, they didn’t know it was the rear gunner but our rear gunner shot down the plane that was attacking us. And the American soldiers on the ground saw it go down and then the rest of us were in the process of bailing out and the pilot kept the aircraft afloat. The rear gunner was killed and the navigator was badly cut but was able to bail out the, according to the Air Ministry report, to of the air gunner’s mother his chute was destroyed and he had no way of getting out. His body was never found. We assumed that he got out or went down with the plane and perhaps was incinerated.

Well then, when I landed, I was the first out and my job was to open the escape hatch and then lead the way out. So I was the first out after the hatch was released and I landed somewhere between the two front lines, which was the River Maas but because of the river, and I landed on the allied side. I spent the night in the bush. And the next day, I made my way through the bush until I found the American lines and they took me back to Eindhoven [Germany].

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