Veteran Stories:
Norton Herbert James

Air Force

  • A photograph of Norton James while in uniform.

    Norton James
  • A page from Norton James' log book.

    Norton James
  • A page from Norton James' log book indicated the units he served with and which aircraft he flew.

    Norton James
  • A page from Norton James' log book indicating total flight time and other accomplishments.

    Norton James
  • A page from Norton James' log book which record sorties he flew over occupied Europe.

    Norton James
  • A display box showcasing Norton James' medals and selected photographs. The medal at the bottom right is the Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to "officers and Warrant Officers for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy."

    Norton James
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"We got the bomb doors open and couldn’t get them closed. You always opened the bomb doors to be sure there was nothing hung up. Didn’t want to land with that. And one motor was gone and the second one was just maybe half power or less. And the other two were what kept us airborne."

Transcript

Getting Lost in the Fog

Went up one night and the fog closed in.  These guys decided the two of them they know better than their navigator so they’re running around his damned wireless trying get themselves home.  Meantime I’m plotting every course we were on and the distance and the time.  Finally they decided they didn’t know where in the heck they were.  We’d flown down.  We learned after we got on the ground we’d flown down a valley between two mountains below their tops.  And they couldn’t see us but the ground spotters had heard the aircraft and reported us going through.

Finally we were getting, oh, been up quite a while and I was getting a little worried so I said to them, “Now, do you want to go home?”  They said, “Well, that’s what we’re trying to do.”  Well, I said, “Here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll go out over the Irish Sea which wasn’t too far away.  Get down under this stuff,” because that’s what’s the fear.  They couldn’t come down in case they hit something.  “Then we can fly back.”

Well, they said how can you get us there?  I said I haven’t been a navigator for nothing and I’ve been working on carrying the flights and I looked at our air position and applied the winds to it and came up with a ground position and then set a course for the middle of the Irish Sea.

We got out there.  I told them they could go down and we went down, cleared things that I wanted to see  and I give them a general course back.  And they went back, picked up the ground and then they could see their way in. And got down on the runway and taxied to the end of it.  Turned to taxi back to where we left the aircraft and it died.  It had run out of fuel.

Details of a Crash Landing

I don’t know what happened.  I think we got hit with ground fire.  But I can’t remember for sure.  And parts of the aircraft were unserviceable.  We got the bomb doors open and couldn’t get them closed.  You always opened the bomb doors to be sure there was nothing hung up.  Didn’t want to land with that.  And one motor was gone and the second one was just maybe half power or less.  And the other two were what kept us airborne.  And we got the bomb doors opened as I said, couldn’t get them closed.  We were picked up by a RAF [Royal Air Force] or RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force], I don’t know which, fighter, over the channel and guided into this airport which we didn’t even know was there and landed with the bomb doors open and no undercarriage.  Couldn’t get it down.

So we’re basically crash landing.  We hit the crossroads and the runways which were grass with a mesh on top of them and tore the bejesus out of them.  They just pulled the aircraft over to the side and left it.  It was, it was a write off.

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