Veteran Stories:
Frank Ralph Boyd

Air Force

  • Frank Boyd, June 1945.

    Frank R. Boyd
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"And so I went and I looked and these poor Russian slave labourers out there, dressed in rags, and yet they were throwing me a cigarette, you know, and they had absolutely nothing."

Transcript

We were special duty squadron [No. 101 RAF Squadron] and we had this secret or so-called secret equipment onboard where we would take an extra man with us. He wasn’t part of our crew and usually you got a different one every time. But they could speak German and understand German, and their job was to tune this radio on German fighter control frequencies. And when they got a frequency in, they would flip the switch and it would send a screaming noise into the German fighter’s aircraft and he couldn’t hear. So they would have to change channels. And these fellows were all, not all, but a great proportion were Jewish or German. There was a couple of Canadians and as I say, they rotated amongst the crews; they were called special duty operators. And the system was called ABC, ‘Airborne Cigar’ was the name of it.

We were attacked from underneath. The favourite tactic of the German was to come in low underneath you, very low, and then come up underneath you. And they had a upward firing guns in the [Junker] Ju 88, which all he had to do was to position himself underneath you, which we couldn’t him, we had no vision underneath the aircraft, and he would just fire the guns and it would shoot right into the belly of the aircraft. As soon as he said get out, I went down to the back door and opened it up, turned on the fuselage light and the wireless operator, he came behind me and the gunner was having trouble getting out of the rear turret. So I went to grab him, he was a little fellow and I pulled him out. And so the three of us were standing and the aircraft was on a gentle dive, burning like the hounds of hell and I’m saying to one guy who was married, I said, “After you.” And he’s saying, “No, after you.” And the three fools were standing there saying, after you, and like an Alphonse Gaston routine, you know.

Finally, I pushed the little guy, the rear gunner, out and the next guy and then I went. We all, everybody got out, not a scratch. I was taken in to see the German doctor and he asked me if I had any wounds or anything. I said no. And then being a very gregarious young man, I offered them cigarettes, which they thought was marvelous. These cigarettes were called Kool cigarettes. They were mentholated cigarettes and they each lit it up and they choked a bit and then the major said, “Oh, sehr gut! Sehr gut!” [Very good, very good] And the fatty offered me a shot of brandy. And then I was dismissed and put in a big long sleeping quarters of the German pioneer corps and I went to bed. That was my shoot down night.

And then I was taken from there that day to a German airdrome and officially turned over to the Luftwaffe. One thing in my cell, when I first got there in the early morning, all of a sudden, something came through the window and it was a hand rolled cigarette. And so I went and I looked and these poor Russian slave labourers out there, dressed in rags, and yet they were throwing me a cigarette, you know, and they had absolutely nothing.

It was about five of my crew. We were taken out and taken to Dulag Luft in Frankfurt-am-Main [Oberursel Camp]. That was the air force interrogation centre for prisoners. He knew I came from Toronto, he knew my mother and father’s name and where I’d gone to school and… The Germans had arranged with friendly embassies to have the newspapers of say, Toronto, every day were picked up and eventually sent to overseas to Portugal and then into Spain and up through and into Germany. And like when I graduated as an air gunner, it was usual to put your picture in the local newspaper. It said, son of Frank Boyd, Mabel Boyd, you know, and the address in Toronto. And that’s where they had this information. But it shows, though, how thorough they were in gathering any intelligence at all.

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