Sam Garnet had this photo taken on April 22, 1945, while stationed at Leuchars, Scotland, with #547 Squadron.Sam Garnet
Silk handkerchief Sam Garnet sent to his mother in 1944. He bought it in Londonderry and had the words: "To Mom from Sammy" painted on it.Sam Garnet
Booklet for the 66th entry of the No.2 Wireless School in Calgary, Alberta. All graduates of the school are listed and Sam Garnet tried to keep track of his classmates, 1943.Sam Garnet
Photo of a museum exhibit showing indentification tags that Sam Garnet's crew wore in case they were shot down over Russian territory. The tags said in Russian: "We are British."Sam Garnet
A view inside the barracks at the Air Force base in Leuchars, Scotland. There were five or six squadrons at this base during the war.Sam Garnet
My name is Sam Garnet. I was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force and eventually on loan to the Royal Air Force with Squadron 547 of Coastal Command.
The first place you go to was a Manning Depot. I think there were two in Canada. There was one in the Coliseum at the Canadian National Exhibition. And I remember, we slept in what was called the bullpen and that’s where they decided what part of air crew you would be in, and/or be air crew or not. And there were several trades in air crew so they tested you there on what your aptitude would be; whether you could be a navigator, a pilot, a bomb aimer, etc., etc. They gave me a dit-dah [dot-and-dash] wireless test, Morse Code, and I didn’t want to be a wireless operator. I thought I could be a navigator. And so I cheated. And I purposely made mistakes in the dit-dah but it turned out they said that I was perfect. And I guess they were right. I wound up being a pretty good wireless air gunner.
The first place I was stationed was a station in Land’s End [England], it was called [RAF] St. Eval, a village that’s still there and the closest of note was Newquay. There were several squadrons there and of course, being at Land’s End, you were just about in the ocean, let alone on it, on land. And my impression - I don’t think I had time for an impression, I was too busy worrying about flying and what we were going to do when we went on operations. I think my mind was pretty well set on, am I going to fire a gun, am I going to send a message by Morse Code, etc., etc. Am I going to have the ability to keep up with the rest of the crew. They were all great guys.
The first thing that hits me all the time is the fact when we woke up. We didn’t know anything about it. But we got a circular from [Supreme Allied Commander] General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower wishing us well and telling us what an important mission we were all going to be involved in. And I don’t know how many they printed but every, every guy in every service got one. And the other thing that struck me: all the aircraft, all the allied aircraft had white stripes on them. And that was really impressive. And then we knew D-Day was on. We thought it was going to be on June the 5th but it was delayed because of weather and even on June the 6th, the weather wasn’t the best. And so our mission was to make sure that no ships in the [English] Channel were sunk by torpedoes from German submarines. And I gather that not one ship was sunk by submarine torpedo and all the sub had to do was point its nose at the Channel, they couldn’t have missed.
Making a landing in France, and remember what happened at Dieppe, I hoped it wasn’t going to be anything like that. I remember that thought. Then when I realized how huge it, it really was, and once I was airborne and we saw all the activity, in England and the Channel and the Bay of Biscay and so on, I knew this was it. And it better work.
There’s one thing, I remember being at the Dundee [Scotland] railway station when I heard that [American] President [Franklin] Roosevelt died [on April 12, 1945]. And I’m just about ready to cry right now. I actually cried. I remember that very well. And not long after that, the war ended. And I can, I think candidly, I became a father while I was overseas and I think that was one of the first things that I thought, oh, I’m going to come home to see my son. And I was too young to appreciate what being a father was. I was going to have to learn.
I was very proud of Canada and Canadian servicemen especially. I always tell the story, can I tell the story?
Interviewer: Yeah, please.
I always tell the story, overseas I think the Canadian servicemen were the most respected by the local people, by the inhabitants of England. We had on our shoulders the word Canada and it was a passport to being kissed by little old ladies, grab you, thank you and give you a kiss. This really happened and I was very, very much impressed by that. Whether [Prime Minister] Mackenzie King had anything to do with that Canada thing, I don’t know. But I wasn’t that Canadian, involved with Canadian politics. We knew that we had no conscription. We knew it was because of Quebec. We knew [Prime Minister] Mackenzie King did that. That I knew. Or maybe I learned it after the war, I can’t tell for sure. You know. I was proud of the fact that we didn’t have conscription. I, I thought that was the, the only country in the world that didn’t have conscription. And we sure put a lot of servicemen over there into battle, without it. And I’m very proud of that.
I belong to an air crew association and all of us are my age, 85 or older. And whenever I talk to my fellow airmen, they’re all airmen, we didn’t talk to our children about … As a matter of fact, my skipper, Mr. Dingle, Charlie Dingle, lives in Kanata [Ontario], he’s 94 years of age and still driving a car. I visited him one day and it happened to be his birthday and his children were all there. And I started talking to my skipper, Charlie, about things we did and so on and his children said, Dad, why didn’t you tell us about that. He had never told them about anything. And he had done a tour of ops [operations] on the Hamptons as a navigator and so on. Anyhow, I asked him questions about what we did together in our crew and he said, oh yes, and the kids said, What Dad, that happened? So that was typical. Mind you, he was the worst I know, at 90 and he hasn’t told them. But most of my friends that were in air crew or servicemen all said they didn’t start talking about it with their grandchildren or children until they turned about 50. You’re too busy doing other things, trying to make a living, etc., etc. Then it all comes back.