Veteran Stories:
Lorne Everett Wood

Air Force

  • First picture of Lorne Wood in Uniform, Brandon, Manitoba, 1942.

    Lorne Wood
  • Group Photo of Flight #36, St. Thomas, Ontario, 1942. Note the bars on the windows.

    Lorne Wood
  • Wartime Friends at the Barracks in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1943-44. #8 Repari Depot.
    Back Row L-R: Bill West, Arnold Palmer, Stan Mutch.
    Front Row: L-R: Gillette, Lorne Wood, Downey.

    Lorne Wood
  • Lorne Wood's Discharge Certificate from RCAF, January 13, 1945.

    Lorne Wood
  • "Lorne Wood (left) and Arnold Palmer (right) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Only photo of best buds.
    Arnold's father was an engineer out of Biggar, Saskatchewan."

    Lorne Wood
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"The airframe mechanics were known as “Wood Ticks” and the aero-engine mechanics were known as “Grease Monkeys.” They were kind of friendly names."

Transcript

I’m Lorne Wood and my middle name is Everett, so it was a “Lew” kind of a name. I was born in Cadillac, Saskatchewan on November 21, 1922. I joined with the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] as an airframe mechanic in 1942. We took some training in Saskatoon, and then we were sent down to Brandon, Manitoba where we were handed out our uniforms and we took some basic training and rifle training. From there we were shipped down to Saint Thomas in Ontario where we did more training in airframe mechanics. After that, we were posted to different stations throughout Canada. I was posted to No. 8 Repair Depot in Winnipeg. My brothers were overseas. I wanted to go over and they said “Absolutely not! You’re needed here for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. We need people here.” It happened, as it turned out, that if you were good at what you were doing you were kept here in Canada, same with the pilots. The top pilots were kept here; they weren’t sent overseas. I thought it was pretty rough, but I thought well, I guess we have to go by what they want to do. The Generals had the last say in what you were going to do. We had a Tiger Moth which was a biplane, a two-seater, and the Gypsy Moth, which was a similar one. Those, at that time at the start of the war, were mostly made of wood and covered with cloth. This cloth was put over the top of the wood and then it was covered with a dope [a plasticised lacquer used to tauten and stiffen the fabric stretched over the airframe] in different colours. It was like a varnish, in a manner of speaking. It dries and works its way into the cloth then dries it out. It’s hard to tear it after that. Then there were the Avro Ansons which were all wood and covered with cloth. The same with the Cessna Cranes which were all made of that wood, too. That’s where we kind of got our knick-names for the different ones. The airframe mechanics were known as “Wood Ticks” and the aero-engine mechanics were known as “Grease Monkeys.” They were kind of friendly names. We went to a lot of dances and we learned a lot of dancing down in Winnipeg. They were the old-time dances like the old waltzes. There were dance teachers that went to those places. That’s how we learned a lot of that stuff; we’d get in with the dance teachers and they would show us what to do! The old-time waltzes were the favourite. They had a contest down in Winnipeg at the dancing place where we always danced. The partner I was dancing with - we were out on the floor, and we came second in the waltz. Her heels touched the floor once and that left us in second place. So, on that we were pretty good! The last part of the war we were sent out. They had a lot of Tiger Moths and we had to take off the wings, the gas tank, and the propellers and turn them up on their noses to store them in the hangar. We stored about 200 in the hangar. We were so good at it and so fast at it that we could drop the wings off in about six minutes. There were two struts on each side to hold the wings apart on the outside and there were guy-wires between those struts and there were guy-wires from the struts back to the main part of the plane. We could take all these struts out and all the guy-wires off, and take out all the pins that were holding the wings to the main part of the aircraft. We would drop them off in six minutes. That was fast! Well, we had done so many of those we just got so that we could do them quick.
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