Veteran Stories:
Thomas Frederick “Fred” Notley

Air Force

  • Lancaster Training Bomber, July 1943.

    Thomas Notley
  • DC3 Twin Engine Plane.

    Thomas Notley
  • A photograph of Thomas Notley taken at a Memory Project event.

    Thomas Notley
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"One night during the latter part of the war, a German airplane flew over the airport. We were out fueling the aircraft when he flew over and he did open his machine guns on us."

Transcript

My full name is Thomas Frederick Notley. I was born in Olds, Alberta in 1919, November the 2nd. There was two of us boys left on the farm and at that time, if we wanted to, farm boys were exempt from joining the army, because somebody had to stay home and do the work on the farm. So my brother decided he would go to join the services and he was in for about four months and then they let him out because of some, I think his walking ability. So I thought, well, if he can’t make it, maybe I can. So I joined the services and went in as an aero-engine mechanic. These aircraft, Halifax and their crew, would take off and go for about five [hours]. They were learning to fly the plane and they were also learning navigation. And so they would fly either day or night at, whichever. When they returned, if there was anything that was wrong with the aircraft, we would, as a crew of five people, would fix whatever had to be done. Maybe there would be a generator on one of the engines that wasn’t working, magneto [electric generator] that needed to be changed or oil change, had to change the oil, refuel it and make sure that it was running perfectly for the next flight. And one night during the latter part of the war, a German airplane flew over the airport. We were out fueling the aircraft when he flew over and he did open his machine guns on us but everybody saw him coming and then all run to a dugout. That’s where we stayed until he was gone. But he shot up the barracks but nobody was killed and that’s the last we saw of him. So that’s the only time that anything ever came too close for that, for me. During the war, everything was blacked out. All windows in the barracks and a good part of the towns and cities would either pull their shades so that the aircraft flying around could not locate the different areas that they wanted to bomb. If you went to town or anywhere, you had no lights on your bicycle, you went down the road by, by moonlight. And with no lights, the cars had headlights painted with just a little slit left in the middle that would show them enough light to keep them on the road. So there was very little traffic throughout England during the bombing, when the Germans were bombing. And that was the main reason for the blackout of the windows.
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