Veteran Stories:
Art Butler

Air Force

  • Art Butler walking down the street on Granville Street in Vancouver. 1942.

    Art Butler
  • Art Butler posing in his Halifax bomber cockpit. Yorkshire, England, 1943.

    Art Butler
  • Halifaxes bombers from No. 433 [Porcupine] Squadron in Skipton-on-Swale, England, 1943. Mr. Butler served as an air gunner in that squadron during the war.

    Art Butler
  • Art Butler pictured at Buckingham Palace. 1943.

    Art Butler
  • Mr. Butler's medals, from left to right: 1939-1945 Star; France & Germany Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal 1939-1945. Mr. Butler also received The Distinguished Flying Cross and The Defence Medal.

    Art Butler
  • Mr. Art Butler, 2011.

    Art Butler
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"And for breakfast, you'd sit down at the breakfast table and several of your friends aren't there. They never made it. You feel so sorry for their families."

Transcript

One night they sent 600 of us, as in Lancasters [the Avro Lancaster, a British four-engine heavy bomber], to southern Germany. And usually the tactic is to change course every few minutes so they don't know you're coming or where you're coming to. And somehow or other they got wind of it and they were ready for us when we got there and they shot down 118 of our planes. And most of the crews were killed. But it's just a little frightening at the time for the first experience. But other than, later they moved to Yorkshire [No. 433 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force]. And the reason they moved to Yorkshire, because it was closer to Germany and closer to get there and closer to get home. But you have to fly over so much water there. And if it's in the winter, it's very serious if you come down in the water in the winter in particular because, you know, you have a raft, life raft on it, sealed on the aircraft, in the exposure you don't last very long. So I wasn't unfortunate to be shot down, but I made a lot of trips. I shot a few planes down and got the DSF [the Distinguished Flying Cross] from the King [George VI] and several other medals. I did a complete tour. And a tour was we had to do 32 missions. And there wasn't many that did that. They didn't make it. And that was hard to understand. You know, we flew all the time at night and we left in the early evening and we'd come back late at night. And for breakfast, you'd sit down at the breakfast table and several of your friends aren't there. They never made it. You feel so sorry for their families. And the families wrote to our CO [Commanding Officer] to see if any of us had much to do or if they'd just write some notes so they could get some idea of what happened. They'd [the enemy aircrafts] work in a series of three and then one would come directly they always attacked you from the rear as much as possible and then get below you and you couldn't see them then. And they'd build up speed and then come right underneath and fire underneath the aircraft and they'd try and hit the gas tanks, of course. And our evasive action in our training was to turn the aircraft into theirs. Don't turn away from them because they'll be on your tail then. But if you turn into them, you have more chance to defend yourself. The worst targets were in Eastern Germany. It was a long way there and a long way back. And they seemed to put up more resistance when you get to their eastern cities.
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