Veteran Stories:
Ross Baroni

Air Force

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
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"Getting across the Channel was a big factor. We always felt that was quite an item because if Jerry was out anywhere with his aircraft, fighter aircraft, he’d be looking to get you early before you, sort of, changed routes, and so on."

Transcript

In January of 1940, a chum and I went to enlist in the armed forces. I went to the air force, and had all documentation completed, [I was] told to go home, and wait, that they would give me a call. But that never happened. In the meantime, my chum and I, we had made a pact to do the same thing, at least if one went, the other would go. So, Pat said to me, in May 1940, “I‘m going in to enlist.”‖ So, I agreed. And I said, “Well, I‘m going with you.”‖ So, we did. We went and enlisted in the army.

I was put in the 1st (Halifax) Coast Brigade [Canadian Artillery], at the farthest battery out at the harbour. And, two weeks to the very day, after I received their letter, I got a letter from the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force], saying to come in and finish the documentation for enlistment in the RCAF. Unfortunately, I was in the army. I took the letter I received from the RCAF, to show it to the major of the fort, and he gave me a reply to the extent that, this wasn‘t a recruiting ground for the air force.‖ But it made me more determined to make that transfer, if it was [at] all possible.

Many a night when we were out navigating—we‘d just fly up from Montréal, up through here—up to, maybe, Pembroke, on the other side of the river, and then Québec, down again. It was different lengths, you see. More than one time, the pilot said, “For God‘s sake, Baroni, take over.” Or I‘d be pinpointing myself where we were going. This other guy was supposed to be navigating, but he wasn‘t on track. The pilot would finally bring it over to the town, or where ever we were supposed to go, with the result that his report said how well that I did, because I was doing coming and going, most of the time. The navigation part—that hurt, too, that she stayed behind. We were just married, after I graduated.

[Handley Page] Halifax [heavy bomber] squadron.* I think they were all alike—most of ours were. That once you had your supper… you had that, sort of, last meal sometime before being airborne, so that your food could digest that was the point of that. Of course, you had your functions to do in the aircraft, before you take off—checking the bomb sight, checking this, that… And the gunners, they are checking their guns and all that, and in essence, getting prepared. Of course, take off. Getting across the Channel was a big factor. We always felt that was quite an item because if Jerry** was out anywhere with his aircraft, fighter aircraft, he’d be looking to get you early before you, sort of, changed routes, and so on.

 

*The Handley Page Halifax was a multi-purpose heavy bomber, used frequently in night-time bombing runs.

** Jerry was a term used to refer to the Germans.

 

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