Veteran Stories:
Alfred “Alfie” Brenner

Air Force

  • Alfred Brenner and Don Poaps, England, 1944.

    Alfred Brenner
  • Alfred Brenner in 1941.

    Alfred Brenner
  • At Cap-de-la-Madeleine (Quebec), 1941.

    Alfred Brenner
  • Mr. Alfred Brenner's Distinguished Flying Cross.

    Alfred Brenner
  • Mr. Alfred Brenner in 1943 and in 2010.

    Alfred Brenner
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"We had no choice. And we ditched and hoped the dinghy would come out, which it did. It broke loose but we had to swim for it."

Transcript

We were stationed at an aerodrome south of England called Thorny Island and we were called up there one morning, up to Bircham Newton which is in Norfolk. And there was two airdromes. There was Bircham Newton and Docking was the satellite and we kept our airplanes at Docking. And we were called out that night and we took off and the Hudson bombers, they had Hudsons on coastal command, actually is a Royal Dutch naval air squadron. They bombed, they bombed from about 4,000 feet. And the idea was that it would distract the gunships from shooting at us over the, we’d sneak in. But we didn’t quite sneak in, we went in and we got shot up very badly, dropped our torpedo and went through everything, through the, you know. They [the Germans] had things called spare breakers and they were barges and all they had on them was anti-aircraft guns. And they were on the outside and they protected the convoy. They did a pretty good job I guess. Anyway, we got through and we were about five miles off the Dutch coast when we got through and went a little towards the Dutch coast and gained altitude and went up north and then headed east to go home. But we didn’t quite make it. I ditched about halfway across. Fighter pilots used to carry, they used to get shot down quite regularly and they had a dinghy with their parachute, we didn’t. So we had no choice. And we ditched and hoped the dinghy would come out, which it did. It broke loose but we had to swim for it. We pretty well had to depend on the moon being out so we could silhouette the ships. So we swam to the dinghy, got in. Four of us managed to make it to the dinghy. We had a big box of emergency supplies but it sank before we got there and once we get out of the dinghy, oh, we had two homing pigeons, carried two of them in cans. And when daylight came, we let them go, with a message, but they didn’t get home. My wireless operator/air gunner, he was transmitting all the time as the receiver wasn’t working. So he didn’t know whether we were getting through or not. But partly they knew we were on our way home and then signals stopped. And they sent out Hudsons I think they were at the time, looking for us. Oh, and we had these Very pistols [flare guns], or we had one but I guess they went down with the emergency rations. And the weather was good, the weather was clear that, the next day and we spent another night and it was clear the following day. And then they came out and eventually, quite late, the Walrus [an amphibious aircraft] found us and picked us up. We were quite pleased. As a matter of fact, the only survivor that is still alive [other than Mr. Brenner himself] was this wireless operator who was just a great guy, He was in the RAF [Royal Air Force] on the Jersey Island [a British territory in the English Channel] . He joined the RAF as a boy entrant when he was 14. And they sent him to school, when he was old enough, he was in the RAF. And I still […]. I lost track of him about 1955 or so.
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