"If we wouldn’t have destroyed their industrial might, the war would have been lost by the Allies. We couldn’t afford that."
From December 1944 to May 1945, we did 35 [bombing] missions. That was quite a trying time, believe me. Many times, one worst time, when we got back the next morning, our flight driver came, he was a friend of mine that I knew in Trenton, Ontario, and I was his best man when he got married in Sunderland in England. Jerry came and picked me up; and he said, "get your crew, Harry, I want to take you out to show you the aircraft before they tow it away." They towed that aircraft away after we looked it over and they had found a total of, I believe it was, 232 holes or 235 holes, pierced through the aircraft. The holes were all nine millimeter shells that passed inches underneath my feet. One cannon shell took the radio out underneath our flight engineer’s, flight wireless air gunner’s nose, took his radio out and it travelled from port side of the aircraft, kitty corner across to the front starboard part of the nose, just underneath the bomb aimer’s nose. Took part of the radio, made a bullet hole out the fuselage going out. Cold wind that we could feel all the way up into my turret.
I would have asked to make it back before they towed that aircraft away for demolition for saving for whatever parts they could save off it. That was our worst trip. On daylight missions, on our way into target, passing over some of the cities that we had bombed previously, from a short distance away, it looked like the city was still standing, holding firm, nothing wrong with them at all. But when you flew right over them, you could see that all that was left was bare walls still wobbling, sitting up in the breeze. The inside of the buildings were completely destroyed.
You know, it’s a terrible thing to even think of the thousands of people that were killed because of a fanatic guy that wanted to rule the world. But we didn’t really want to kill those people, but we had to. Believe it or not, the RAF [Royal Air Force] and the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] actually used to drop leaflets over the German territories; warned them ahead of time that that city would be bombed within days. To please get the disabled and the people out of way because that city was going to be bombed. And Hitler just refused to let those people out of the area. He kept them there thinking that we wouldn’t follow through with the bombing. And if we wouldn’t have destroyed their industrial might, the war would have been lost by the Allies. We couldn’t afford that.
Now I know it was terrible to see all those burned out, shattered buildings, thinking of the millions of people who were, or the thousands of people who were likely killed. But war is hell. I don’t think anybody wants war. But we were there to preserve our peace, which we did. That’s all I can say.
You know when you’re flying along and all that anti-aircraft [flak] exploding all around your aircraft; and it would even bounce your aircraft around, from the explosions of the anti-aircraft [flak] firing at you. And you see a bomber fall alongside of your bomber, in front of your eyes, and thinking that one of your close buddies had just gone, he wouldn’t be at roll call the next day, that was hard, believe me. Anybody that would call us murderers though, because we went to preserve our way of life, that’s a terrible picture for somebody to put on us people. That’s the reason why I started writing my first book and I’ve been writing these further books. I want the world to know exactly what we did and the why fors. And if anybody wants to refer to me as a murderer, I think that’s terrible. Nobody, nobody likes to go to war.