Veteran Stories:
Kent Arthur Ford

Air Force

  • Mr. Kent Ford in Belleville, 2010

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"he said, oh, that’s enough of this nonsense. He said, don’t kill yourself, go and fly around for an hour and come back and land. That was it."


One of the things that didn’t happen to me, but it happened, when we went to Manning Depot. We went to the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto. One of the things that my uncles and my dad always told me, whatever you do, don’t ever volunteer for anything. Unless it’s a job you really really, really, really want. You’ve got to really, really for that job. Every meal, the ordered officer and the ordered sergeant came in. The ordered sergeant said, if you had a complaint, to put up a hand. This kid was not too far away from where I was sitting and he put up his hand. And his complaint was there was rind on the bacon. And so for the next seven days, they bailed him out of bed at 5:00 in the morning and he went to the kitchen and with a pair of scissors, cut the rind off the bacon for two hours. Every day, for seven days. And that sure impressed me: don’t ever open your mouth unless you really want something. [laughs] Oh dear. In those days, because they were in a hurry, everything was done in a rush. All your training was hurried up; everything you did in the training was hurried. For example, I started flying the Tiger Moth in winter. In that particular place, you had nine hours dual time. And if you weren’t able to go solo then, you were out of pilot training, into something else. That was it. I think I had somewhere on seven hours when I went solo, but that was okay. And the other thing, of course, when I was finished there, I went to Brantford and Brantford was on twin engine aircraft, the [Avro] Ansons [training aircraft]. Well, you go from a single engine biplane and Tiger Moth [British training aircraft], to an Anson, I had five hours dual and I went solo on the Anson. And, again, if you had 10 hours and you weren’t cutting it, you were gone. That’s all there was to it, and the same way all the way through. Everything was done, it was a rush, rush. You either were able to do it and do it easily or they found you another job. That’s all there was to it. Yeah. I think I had about two hours on the Halifax [British heavy bomber]. We went up, flew around with the instructor and he feathered one engine, two engine, three engine, had me try and fly steady on one engine and, of course, he picked the outer engine, which made it even worse. Anyway, we went back, we did a three engine landing and he said, overshoot, overshoot in the end, feather that engine. Well, I was going down the runway and we took off, went around and come back and landed again. And he got out of the aircraft and he said, oh, that’s enough of this nonsense. He said, don’t kill yourself, go and fly around for an hour and come back and land. That was it. [laughs] That was the check ride of a Halifax. Oh yeah. These things were all done in, you know, it was a hurry. Yeah. It was a good aircraft I thought to fly. Now, people who flew Halifax and Lancasters [bomber], some of them liked the Lancaster a little better. But the thing about the Halifax was the engines. They were air-cooled and, of course, you could lose part of it. Like I was flying to Wellington and the induction elbow blew off the thing, off one engine and it just kept right on going. The only time you ever found out there was anything wrong, when you come into land, when you went to throttle back, when you get down about 1,400, it wanted to quit. It made it quite a hassle landing a thing like that. But otherwise, I thought it was a good, solid aircraft and I liked the Halifax. We were chosen, I guess is the best word to use, to go to the Far East. And what they did was they sent us home and our two squadrons, [No.] 432 [Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force] and [No.] 425 [Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force], were sent to Debert, Nova Scotia. And we were supposed to fly Lancasters. They brought home a bunch of Lancs. We were supposed to fly Lancasters out over the ocean to get used to flying over the water long distance. When we had finished the training, we were to go back to England and get [Avro] Lincolns [bomber], which were an oversized Lancaster, to take to the Far East and bomb Japan. That was the deal. And, of course, Japanese have two atomic bombs that was enough for them, they didn’t care. And that was the end of it. What, shortly after that, they just discharged whole works of us. They didn’t even ask you if you wanted to stay in or not, it was just, you’re gone, boy and that was it.
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