Veteran Stories:
Thomas Archibald Jamieson

Air Force

  • Briefing of pilots of No.654 Air Observation Post Squadron, Royal Air Force (R.A.F.), operating in support of regiments of the Royal Canadian Artillery (R.C.A.), Castel Frentano, Italy, 10 February 1944.
    Credit: Lieut. Alex M. Stirton / Canada. Dept. of National Defence collection / Library and Archives Canada / PA-137424
    Mr. Jamieson flew in the RCAF's Air Observation Post Squadron - No. 664 Squadron RCAF.

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"Now, the little planes that they used, this is what they called Hedgehoppers [Piper J-2 Cub]. There was no starter in the planes; you had to start them by switching the prop."

Transcript

I was shipped out to [RCAF Station] Vulcan, Alberta, that’s where they trained pilots to fly. They had the old [Avro] Anson [air crew trainer] planes to fly. Now, we were there over a year or so. Then we come back, they took us down to Halifax and put us on the [SS] Île de France and went over to England. And from England, we were there for some time and then they took, they formed a squadron, [No.] 664 Squadron in England. Now, the little planes that they used, this is what they called Hedgehoppers [Piper J-2 Cub]. There was no starter in the planes; you had to start them by switching the prop. So, and the pilots were all captains. They belonged to the army; they were all army captains, flyers. And what they did was just fly around and see if there was anything that shouldn’t be there and they’d have to try to look after it. But they sent us from that England base of [No.] 664 Squadron [Royal Canadian Air Force] up to Scotland and gave us army uniforms. Now, we were in the air force, but we were wearing army uniforms. And the only thing we had left to wear, to show them we were air force was a cap or headgear, because it was cold weather down there too. If they met you on the street, a provost [military policeman], you know, they’d say, what the heck are you with, what are you with? They’d ask a lot of questions. Whenever we went up, we had to go up in all planes after we did work on them, to fly them, to make sure we used to fly backwards. Well, there’s this little seat behind the pilot. It was the pilot, a 22 [radio navigation] set and a little seat. And they’re only small little planes, four engine planes. And I had two brothers over there. I had met my brother, Cameron. I got in touch with him. I met a fellow that knew where he was and he told me how to get to him; and I went and spent an evening with Cameron. Well, he joined the service… [he] was one of the first people around Bathurst in 1939 [to join up]. And then later on, I met my other brother, Ken. I was up in Amsterdam. We were just sitting in a café on the street having a coffee, me and a fellow by the name of Rouen from Quebec; and I seen this fellow walking by and I said to him, geez, that’s my brother. He said, are you drinking? I said, no. I run out and I got hold of him; and it was my brother, all right. Oh, it was quite a thing because we hadn’t seen him for quite a few years. He was in the service quite a bit longer than I was, you see. When we were out there, I had good friends with… We had great guns, you know. And this fellow had got a shotgun somewhere and he used to go out every once in a while, in the latter part of the war, on the air field and he’d shoot a partridge or two; and he’d come in and he’d cook the partridge. But it wasn’t very good eating. I don’t think you’d ever get used to good ‘stew’ or good ‘mutton’ stew. When the war finished, I was at a place in Germany. A day or two before the war was over, you couldn’t imagine the flying going on, so many planes in the air. When the war was finished, we were up in Germany and they shipped us down to a place called, it was at a lake with a great big aircraft station, Bad Zwischenahn they called it. I looked it up often in the map. That was a lake where I suppose people would go, but it was a big, big airport; and we were there for two or three months. They were transporting all the troops from there back to England. And that’s where I left from Bad Zwischenahn back to England. And then we got the boats and come home. Yeah.
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