Veteran Stories:
Hugh Blacklock Allan

Navy

  • Air crew standing in front of a Short Stirling bomber.

    Hugh Allan
  • A document detailing the particulars of Hugh Allan's service.

    Hugh Allan
  • A photograph of Hugh Allan at a Memory Project even held on 15 August, 2012 in Waterloo, Ontario.

    Hugh Allan
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"A young paratrooper was leaning against the wall listening to our debriefing. He said, “That's okay kid, we don't mind landing in the trees,” which made me feel better. "

Transcript

I only did one trip to Iceland and back prior to transferring to the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force]. The ship was the [HMCS] Alberni from the West Coast, it was a corvette. It was sunk. I think we noticed on the picture of it was the 24th. About two months after I left it, it was sunk in the English Channel with all hands on board, which is very unfortunate.* But that's the way it is. I was lucky to escape from that and I was fortunate to come out of the air force unscathed.

The first twin unit, advanced laying unit was at Tilstock [England] and it was at that time that they transferred the entire group to a special duties 190 Squadron and we did a further OTU officer training unit concentrating on towing gliders. This was to supply the Underground in France, Holland, Norway and Belgium when we graduated. Being associated with the—what did they call them—Special Air Service, SOE [Special Operations Executive], the two major operations—I missed dropping paratroops and gliders on D-Day by two months. I joined the squadron just a little bit too late.

The two operations that I was involved in were Arnhem [Holland] and supporting [General] Montgomery crossing the Rhine [river]. Interesting enough, the chap that I towed, the glider pilot that I towed to Arnhem, was the same young man that I towed crossing the Rhine. So he survived Arnhem and so did I fortunately. Those are the two major operations.

The other one that comes to my mind was dropping six officers, paratroops, at Magdeburg [Germany] and they were doing a reconnaissance of a prisoner of war camp and I can recall vividly the next day after dropping them, the intelligence officer came up to me in the Officer’s Mess and said we heard from your boys and they said thanks for a nice drop. And I can recall at the debriefing I expressed some concern that I thought the last man out landed in the trees because we had to drop them in a clearing in a woods, which doesn't give you much time for the boys to drop out.

At any rate, a young paratrooper was leaning against the wall listening to our debriefing. He said, “That's okay kid, we don't mind landing in the trees,” which made me feel better.

Market Garden [an airborne drop into the Netherlands] was a disaster really. Unfortunately, I don't know how it happened but there was a panzer division on leave at Arnhem at the time and our folks didn't know about it. We lost nearly all our squadron there. I lost three different flight commanders. We flew every second day and I can remember September the 17th [1944] was one of the days that I was not on and we sent over 10 aircraft and I think three got back.

*HMCS Alberni lost more than half its crew but there were infact survivors.

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