Veteran Stories:
Pierre Bauset

Air Force

  • Telegram dated November 27, 1943 reporting the disappearance of Pierre Bauset in action.

    Pierre Bauset
  • Pierre Bauset's flight log (1943) containing the story of 'his war'.

    Pierre Bauset
  • Pierre Bauset at the 50th Anniversary of the Testimony to the Resistance, Hôtel de Ville, Paris, France (May, 1994).

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"I must say that these resistance people stand in very, very high regard. I owe them a debt of gratitude that cannot ever be repaid."

Transcript

My name is Pierre Bauset. I'm a French-Canadian from Montreal. In 1941 I was just under eighteen and a half and I enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. From there on I went through the usual stages of training and waiting in line for the next stage.

I went overseas in February of 1943. I crossed on the Queen Elizabeth and I landed in Scotland. A few days later I was stationed in Bournemouth, where I stayed until the month of July, and finally I wound up on squadron in the month of September 1943 with the 431 Iroquois Squadron based in Yorkshire. We operated from that particular point.

My war was very, very short. The aircraft losses at that time were very, very high and aircrew on average managed about three operations over enemy territory. It was my case: I was shot down on November 25, 1943, coming back from a raid on Frankfurt. We had dropped our bombs successfully crossing over to the target, then beginning on the way back was usual, there was anti-aircraft fire, heavy anti-aircraft fire over the target area. But that was to be expected, at least that's a little bit presumptuous to say it was to be expected because this was my third trip only. The first two trips had been rather heavy. The first trip should have been what we call a nickel raid, going into an area that was not too heavily defended, possibly to drop leaflets instead of bombs. Well, our first trip was a diversion raid to Ludwigsaffen(?) from the main force that was attacking Berlin. The next raid was also on Berlin, the biggest raid on Berlin during the war, and our third raid, the one over Frankfurt, was the fatal one. Coming back, things appeared to be fairly... fairly safe in a manner of speaking, when all of a sudden we were hit with heavy gunfire, that could've been anti-aircraft fire from the ground, it could've been fire from night fighters. It was difficult to tell. But nevertheless it was very, very effective. The nose of the aircraft was blown out. The inside port engine was set on fire. The pilot tried to put out the fire. As a matter of fact, he did. He dove the four-engine bomber... he dove it for about ten thousand feet and finally we snuffed out the fire. Came back to altitude, kind of about twenty-thousand feet, and we carried on for about twenty minutes when the same scenario started all over again, which tends to believe that we were followed by night fighters. But anyhow, the firing started all over again. The fire started on the port side engine, and the aircraft was in danger of disintegrating, especially the port side wing, which was being attacked by the fire. So the pilot ordered us to jump, and that was the end of my active war with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

From there on I was what we call an escapee. My job was to avoid being captured and try to get back to friendly territory and go back on operations. We were shot down over Occupied France. We landed round four o'clock in the morning. One of my crew members landed at the same time as I did. We found each other on the ground and we decided to go along together. We managed contact with some farmers who quickly got us some civilian clothes and the next morning managed to put us on a train for Paris. Now, I must say that all of this was a little bit dicey because we had no papers, no identification and we were in civilian clothes, which was a very dangerous thing because if we were caught by the German military without any proper identification we could easily have been construed as terrorists and treated as such. We were very, very lucky. And finally I made a contact with the young secretary who... she said, "You're an airman?" I replied affirmatively. She says, "I understand. Follow me." That was my beginning with the organized resistance in France. So I must say that these resistance people stand in very, very high regard. I owe them a debt of gratitude that cannot ever be repaid.

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