Veteran Stories:
Clifford A Mizzen

Air Force

  • RCAF Flying Log Book and Portrait of Clifford A. Mizzen, 1944-45.

    Clifford A. Mizzen
  • Clifford A. Mizzen in Uniform, 1945.

    Clifford A. Mizzen
  • Ruth and Clifford Mizzen at 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1998.

    Clifford A. Mizzen
  • Aircrew of V for Victor Lancaster Bomber, April 18, 1945. Clifford A. Mizzen is 3rd on left in back row.

    Clifford A. Mizzen
  • Copy of Discharge Certificate of Clifford A. Mizzen, October 19, 1945.

    Clifford A. Mizzen
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"I was scanning the night sky for fighters and spotted a [Junker] Ju 88, sneaking up on a bomber, a Lancaster, on our port."

Transcript

This was quite a change to go into a four engine bomber. The trouble, we had a problem there at conversion unit. It was normal procedure for people to, when you’re coming to land, the bomb aimer usually had to come out of the nose of the aircraft. Unfortunately, towards the end of our time at the conversion unit, when he came out of the nose of the aircraft, he somehow unfortunately caught the intercom of the engineer so that when we were coming to land, the skipper said, “Power off Jerry,” and nothing happened and he yelled, “Power off, Jerry!” And well, then the engineer realized that there was something wrong and he pulled the power, but this time, he landed halfway down the runway, went over the end of the runway. It was a pile of concrete, pile there. We went through that into a plowed field and stopped about, oh, maybe 50, 100 yards or so from the, the women’s barracks. And we got pretty shook up, but nobody got any broken bones.

We just transferred, shortly after that, they send us to squadron. And after we got to the squadron, it was right just before Christmas in 1944 and our first flight was to, the target was Koblenz [Germany], the day before Christmas and everything went well. Unfortunately, we, on our return to squadron, all the bases were fogged in and we had to go and land at a special base which had all, had the gas pipelines. I think it was a brand new base, the gas pipelines along both sides of the runway and on the cross where you land. So everybody was stacked up to many thousands of feet because everybody, that’s the only base that was open. And, which was quite an experience for our first time. And anyways, the skipper finally got the opportunity to land, which he did, was congratulated on his approach and what he’d landed, and so this was a new experience and not too many people I guess experienced this. But it was another page in the book. And so then we flew back the next day for Christmas at the, at the squadron.

And from then on, we went on many missions or sorties and on, after our eighth sortie, we fortunately, we got a new [Avro] Lancaster, V for Victor. In the previous ones, I was a rear end gunner in the rear turret. That was my position and on the previous Lancasters, they were, the turrets were Frazer-Nash 303s, and very confined, very limited view on them. And the, the trouble with them, the links went up into the aircraft, if you got hit with flak, then your turret was dead. So we got a new aircraft with the Rose Brothers turret, which is 50 calibre ones. They, this was a new type of turret that, it was produced in 1944. Not too many aircraft had this turret, but thank God we had it. It was wide open; there was nothing in front of me. A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them, but there was nothing in front of me and if my electric suit did ever quit working, I would have frozen to death and you could bail right out over the guns if you had to. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. But it, this turret was introduced because they heard that the Germans were coming on-stream with the [Messerschmitt] Me 262 and so it, the 303s would not be effective against it. And they were hoping that the 50 calibres would.

And so later on, in February, around February the 3rd, we had to, had a target in the Ruhr [Valley] and after bombing, it was called a boat drop, and after we’d bombed, we, there was indications that this fighter was in the area, so he came up on us and at first, he went above us and then we went into evasive action. And when you’re in evasive action, the tail gunner, he has absolutely no idea, he’s like floating in space and the pilot has to give the locations of the aircraft when he’s going down, port, up port, rolling, down starboard, up starboard, rolling. Otherwise, the gunner doesn’t know where he, where the positions were. And usually on, when rolling, you’d fire point blank and so I don’t know how long we’d been in the evasive action, these Me 262. I saw them in daylight, nothing would touch them, they were so fast, but at night, they had to slow down to the, the speed of the, the bomber because otherwise, they overshoot. So I could see this, and of course, the flames of the two engines of the jet were very pronounced, so I was able to see him without any trouble and fortunately, after some time, with me firing the guns, he broke off and he went into a dive and he crashed on the deck in flames. And I instructed the skipper to commence normal flying and he said, “Where the hell is he.” I said, “He’s on the deck.” And so he banked over and the navigator made note of it and it was confirmed that we’d destroyed the, the jet. And so about a week later, the, the Rose Brothers, an official came to the squadron and presented me with several bottles of liquor, which the mess enjoyed. So it was kind of celebration, so that worked out great. Very great. So.

And later on, on our tour, I think it was on Nuremburg, I happened, a night trip, most of our trips were at night. Daylight was much easier than the night trips, but anyways, Nuremburg, I happened to, I was scanning the night sky for fighters and spotted a [Junker] Ju 88, sneaking up on a bomber, a Lancaster, on our port. And I don’t think they were aware he was there, so I opened up on him and kind of shook up the crew, I hadn’t given any warning. But anyways, I fired across there, and I don’t know whether I alerted the other bomber or not, but they went into evasive action and they were very fortunate because as they went in their evasive action, the Ju 88 fired his cannon and just missed, it went over the top of them. It would have blown them right out of the sky.

So that’s some of the, one of the trips we had, a lot of them were very, very long and we’d take off usually at dusk, at night, about around 5:30 or so, we’d fly to a place called Reading [England] and then go across to the, to Europe. And so lots of times, we would get back maybe at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. Be most of our trips were about eight hours or longer. And we, later on, I think we covered all the major places in Germany and the only one that was a controversy was the one on Dresden. We were on that one and we had, when you’re on operations, you’re given a target and that’s what you’re going to do. And that was our last trip was, our last sortie was in April 1945. We, it was Heligoland, which is a naval base north of Denmark there. And it was a daylight and it was what we call a piece of cake. I think we kind of took care of the naval base and then the skipper asked for a direct flight from the, from the navigator. We flew right back straight instead of dawdling, we would fly straight back to the squadron. We got back early and the skipper had promised the ground crew that we would shoot up the station and he sure did. At the control tower, the, they thought we were going to hit, hit them as we went by and I remember as we went over the, the kitchen, there was a woman with a whole bucket of potatoes. We were so, I could see her, she threw them in the air, she thought we were crashing. So that was, we finished our tour and that was it.

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