Veteran Stories:
Harry Simpson

Air Force

  • 160th Squadron. Harry Simpson up high on the left propeller.

    Harry Simpson
  • Harry cleaning the twin browning machine gun

    Harry Simpson
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"We had 15 aircrafts, and they had to be checked. We had to make sure all the depth charges were under the wings, because we were escorting convoys and looking for submarines."

Transcript

The Air Force is a very good life. I joined because everybody else was joining. It was the thing to do. You either joined, or you got drafted. When you got drafted you could go places that were quite unpleasant, like Hong Kong*.

We had 15 aircrafts, and they had to be checked. We had to make sure all the depth charges were under the wings, because we were escorting convoys and looking for submarines.

I had quite a few friends in the Air Force. One of them, our Squadron Leader, was called Uncle Freddy. Uncle Freddy read the Sunday comics to the kids on Sunday mornings. He was a good fellow.

One day, the Royal Air Force, they were training pilots to fly off the deck of aircraft carriers, believe it or not. The reason to fly planes. They were across the way and they were training for life on an aircraft carrier. As a matter of fact, I got pneumonia and I spent a week or two in the hospital over there. I couldn't understand their English language. Their accents were so strong it was pretty hard to understand them. But they were a great bunch.

Trapped inside the wing of an aircraft, odd story. We carried depth charges and to service the depth charge carriers, you had to go inside the wing of an aircraft. And that's not a very pleasant place. You went in. It's pretty dark. So one day I was in and a chap ahead of me, he was wrestler from down East, and he got stuck in a wing. And I was pushing, they were pulling. You dare not cut the wing of the aircraft, you'd be court-martialled I think for destroying an aircraft. Anyway, we finally got him out of the aircraft, and I was so glad to see daylight.

I was lucky to have a very good group to work with. Really a great bunch of chaps.

 

*Soldiers who served in Hong Kong were not drafted, Conscription did not start until 1944)

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