Veteran Stories:
Ivor Williams

Air Force

  • Ivor Williams training at RCAF Bagottville, Quebec, fall 1942.

    Ivor Williams
  • Ivor Williams and his wife Duclie Williams, 1943.

    Ivor Williams
  • Group photograph of 443 Squadron, RCAF, in between two Spitfires.

    Ivor Williams
  • A page from Ivor Williams' log book from 6 and 7 June 1944, detailing his flights in Normandy. Of particular note, he mentions strafing behind enemy lines, a front line patrol around the town and airfield of Carpiquet, and a "big tank attack east of the Orne River to circle Caen. 4 800 pound bombers gave initial ... Few Huns seen over area. Army drive is according to plan. Hun's [sic] still man plenty of ack-ack guns."

    Ivor Williams
  • Ivor Williams' brother Maldwyn Williams, taken in 1941. Maldwyn was an air observer with the RCAF, however he was shot down in a raid over St. Nazaire, France and died on 20 May 1942.

    Ivor Williams
  • Ivor Williams in London, Ontario, June 2012.

    Ivor Williams
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Listen to this story

"It was the most fantastic sight that I will ever see, all these boats coming out of little harbours and around the south coast of England and they were they were in formation, they were. And we saw this, all these little arrow heads coming over the Channel, we knew that the beach invasion was on."

Transcript

I joined the RCAF on the day after I was 18 in Windsor, Ontario. My parents lived at that time in the place called Tilbury which is very close to Windsor and so I joined the Air Force at Windsor, the very day after I was 18. Well everybody was doing it. We were all joining up, and I suggested that I was would be an air gunner, and I went to the recruiting office, and the sergeant in charge of the recruiting and saw my papers and that I was wanting to be an air gunner, and this man happened to be a man who my father had married a few days before, and he said, “You’re old enough, you’re smart enough you can be a pilot,” and I said, “well that’s just fine,” so I became on the stream to be a pilot.

I remember my very first flight I had about nine hours, and my instructor let me fly solo and I remember going down the runway and shouting and cheering and clapping my hands, so happy to be in the air by myself.

We were posted to a place called Digby in northern part of Yorkshire [England], and we went from there, we learned to fly the [Supermarine] Spitfire. Up to this point we had only learned in training planes, but the Spitfire was pretty up to date. And the squadron was changed around and it became 443 Squadron instead of 127 Squadron. It was, the wing commander was Johnnie Johnson [highest scoring Western Allies flying ace]. Johnnie Johnson was the top scoring Canadians; he was a Brit, but he liked to fly with Canadians. And we learned to fly the Spitfire in about three or four weeks, and then we went down to the south part of England and we were ready to go on operations.

In England I had a mid-air collision one day. I was doing en engine test and I had my head in the cockpit, checking the instruments and I looked up and in front of me was this Spitfire coming like this straight, and it went over my head, it took the radio antenna off, and I was underneath this other Spitfire, kind of hairy. Johnson was playing Rummy, a card game with the other squadron commanders when I came in and I said, “Sir, I’ve had a mid-air collision,” and he said, “Well congratulations Williams, I have never known anybody to survive one.”

It was amazing, I flew the last patrol at night on June the 5th [1944], and we were, in the south of England, and in five minutes we were over the [English] Channel. It was the most fantastic sight that I will ever see, all these boats coming out of little harbours and around the south coast of England and they were in formation. And we saw this, all these little arrow heads coming over the Channel, we knew that the beach invasion was on, and so we were not allowed to go over the German lines, because obviously reasons, but we had the aircraft were painted with black and white stripes at that point, so that there were no mistaking the Allied aircraft. And we did a recce and returned late at night, and then had a few hours’ sleep and took off the next morning, that was, and then we knew the invasion was on.

And the sky was full of airplanes of course. We were circling back and forth over the beachhead, we didn’t go back, we were making sure that the German aircraft didn’t get to strafe our own troops, so it was a recce to make sure the sky was kept clear of enemy aircraft. We were back and forth, we could see there was fighting on the ground, we could see tanks blazing and trucks, we really knew the invasion was on at that time.

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