Veteran Stories:
Gordon Saunders

Air Force

  • Mr. Gordon Saunders, August, 2012.

    The Memory Project
  • Mr. Saunders' Certificates of Qualification as a Navigator. 22 December, 1943.

    Gordon Saunders
  • Mr. Saunders' Flight Log Book (Cover page).

    Gordon Saunders
  • Inside of Mr. Saunders' Flight Log Book describing the type of missions flown at the time he was serving with the RAF Ferry Command.

    Gordon Saunders
  • The aircraft flown by Mr. Saunders as Navigator (from his Flight Log Book).

    Gordon Saunders
  • Cover page of Carl A. Christie's book "Ocean Bridge. The History of RAF Ferry Command". Mr. Saunders served in the RAF Ferry Command from December 1942 to July 1945.

    Gordon Saunders
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"I shouldn’t admit this on the, being recorded, however I gave the right course to our destination but I noticed that Agra with the Taj Mahal was off to our left not very far. I did another little course which happened to be the one I gave to Ray and we ended up right over the Taj Mahal which we circled which is now banned but at that time was okay."

Transcript

We went to a spot just outside of London, picked up an aircraft there. We had to check the compasses on the plane so re-set those things on the air field. Then we took it to a field in the west of England, spent a night there and then flew across France with the warning not to get too close to the Spanish border because there were still two pockets of Germans surrounded by the Americans [in 1945]. And they weren’t really fighting each other they were being quarantined if you like, but if we flew over them they’d shoot at us. So it, left there. So we landed at a field just outside Marseilles, spent the night there. From there went on to Malta, spent a night there. The next day we were supposed to fly to Cairo. We were on our way and got a radio message that could we divert. There was a stretcher case needing to go to Cairo so if we could land there and pick it up. So we did and then had to fly it 5-6,000 feet or something because otherwise it would be too rough. Ray and I had counted on flying low to take a look and see all the damage, the stranded tanks and all this kind of thing on the desert but we flew up. We landed right in a field right in Cairo. You kind of came in, you nosed down steeply, you landed and stopped before the end of the runway fortunately and unload the nurse, or was it two and the stretcher case. And then turned around the other end of the runway again and took off. Where you take off and turn the nose up sharply so you don’t hit the buildings at the end. And then go up, actually south about 40 miles to the air force base. Landed there. The next day we took off, the only time I ever saw the Dead Sea we flew over the southern end of the Dead Sea. Landed and again I can’t recall either Iran or Iraq there was a field there. We were there just for the lunch, couple of hours, then we took off again to head down to Bahrain. And took off and Ray was getting quite concerned because the red danger sign was on the heat of the engine. But he’d apparently been warned it’s alright, it happens until you get up above 17,000 feet and then you get into cooler air and it cools off. So we did that and then landed in Bahrain. It was hot there. We went to our bunk assignment, decided to have a shower. So we walked across the parade ground to the showers that were on the other side. Had showers, walked back and by the time we were back we were just about as wet as we’d been in the showers from the heat. Anyway we took off the next day, headed south of the bay and then had to turn to the east towards what was India, now Pakistan, Bombay. So I was in the navigator’s seat which was behind the pilot. I got the change of course and I went up, sat down in the pilot’s seat. It was on automatic control as these laser planes were. Ray was sound asleep. I knew enough, I took it off of automatic control, changed it around to the course I’d set, put it back on, sat there for another 20 or 25 minutes until Ray woke up and off we went, carried on of course. We landed in Bombay I guess it was. From there we were to go to central India the next day. I shouldn’t admit this on the, being recorded, however I gave the right course to our destination but I noticed that Agra with the Taj Mahal was off to our left not very far. I did another little course which happened to be the one I gave to Ray and we ended up right over the Taj Mahal which we circled which is now banned but at that time was okay. We circled and looked and unfortunately neither of us had a camera with us. And then gave him another course and we ended up at our destination right on time. So we landed there. The next day we went on to the air field north of Calcutta that we landed at and we were there for a day, well, no, I guess, there was a plane that took us down to the field in Calcutta itself and then to the drop where we were staying just outside the headquarters with tents. We landed there, I knew that my brother in the air force had been, actually got married in England, I missed the wedding, I was waylaid getting there. I accompanied him and his wife a week later from her parents’ place back to the house, to the train and left him there and he reported back. He then was shipped by boat to Bombay and their group were going on from there, but I knew he was there. So being an impudent young fella I went to the commander of the office, of the base and said would it be okay if I were to hitch a ride from here, from Calcutta to Bombay so I could see my brother there rather than just waiting here for the return flight. I really don’t think so. Yes, sir. Dismiss. I walked out, I was going to meet Ray, he and his brother, his brother was there, a dentist there, and they were just down the street under the shade. As I turned to walk to them I heard a yell. It was my brother. They had arrived the night before in Calcutta by train, had marched from there to headquarters to find out what they were going to have happen. A friend of his saw me, said to my brother hey there’s someone over there looks like you. My brother ignored him because he’d let his hair grow and they were always kidding him that he looked like a Sikh. And his friend, Wilf, said no, Harold, look. And that’s when he called. We had five days together because they got stationed, or tents in the schoolyard next to where we were. I traded with the fellow there. He went with Ray, I went with my brother and we were there. I went on home after that, he a few days later went to Assam [India] with their group and they, from there were feeding the natives in Burma by dropping rice as the Japanese retreated. So there’s a personal story.
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