Veteran Stories:
Neil Moore

Air Force

  • Neil Moore in Murree, India, September 22, 1943.

    Neil Moore
  • Cessna Crane, Brandon, Manitoba, September 1941.

    Neil Moore
  • Aircraft in Salalah Arabia, December 1942.

    Neil Moore
  • Neil Moore's Log Book.

    Neil Moore
  • Neil Moore's Medals (L-R): Burma Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; Defence Medal; 1939-45 Star; War Medal (1939-45).

    Neil Moore
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"Once they got on the ground, then they had to go about their duties of sabotaging."

Transcript

I had to start training for dropping men into Burma, men who came from Nepal, the Gurkhas. It was called familiarization flights, and familiarization flights meant they’d take up for the first time flying so they’d find out what was going on and they were all provided with a paper bag and I would make sure that they used it by making a few moves in the aircraft which would cause them to toss their cookies. But they did get used to what it was like, that they were going to be sick and all these things, so learn to live with that. That was the basic thing. So we did the training that way.

And they didn’t get that much training, then we’d head down and this English sergeant would take them over and there’s usually only maybe six men and they’d drop them into a small clearing in the jungle. Lots of times, very close to the Japanese and there would be somebody down on the ground with a flashlight or something like that. The navigator had to be very good to do this. And they were using the smaller aircraft like the [Lockheed] Hudson and they tried the [B-24] Liberator, which is a four engine, but they were clumsy and then there was a range of hills in Burma that when you crossed over the jungle to drop these men, you had to do some quick turns to get out of there or you were right into this range of mountains that went along the coastline.

And so the Liberators were clumsy and they turned around to get out of there and that’s where most of them were killed, not through enemy action. In fact, they had a bombing raid would go advance of it, maybe 20 in advance to draw their attention while we sneaked in over the water, that’s usually at about 100 feet and that’s why we did it at moonlight night because the moon reflected on the waves and you could judge your height over the water because you never used landing lights or any of that type of thing.

Now, as soon as we get to the shore, the coastline, we’d come up to 500 feet and that and we’d drop the men from 500 feet and of course, it was used a static line. And when they’d jump out, that just allowed the chute to open and just start floating and that’s when they touched the ground. So it was gauged, that’s how it would be. So these men didn’t really have to do any thinking. Once they got on the ground, then they had to go about their duties of sabotaging.

We were flying an officer from Delhi [India] up in the northern part. Now, this is what we would do lots of times, when we weren’t training in the off season, in other words, the non-moving season, we would be transporting people around the country and these were officers and everything. So this day, I had to travel from Delhi, northern India, down to Bangalore, which is in south India and it was a very stormy weather and everything, but we had to descend through these clouds to get down to the airport. And the navigator was about five miles off his flight plan and so when I was coming down, of course, I’m flying by instrument but I just happened to look up and I saw the V-shape, inverted V-shape of a mountain peak, right in front of us. So I pulled back on the controls and turned to the right and the aircraft, both props [propellers] touched this mountain and it had earth on it. And when you fly the aircraft like we did, we didn’t have any pressure treating or anything like that, so we’d have to leave our little windows on the side, each side open a bit, otherwise, they’d steam up, much like a car would do where you kind of open up a vent, nowadays they’d turn the air conditioner on, but in the old days, you used to have to open a vent to let the steam out so you wouldn’t steam up.

We had these open, so this mud came in through the windows and landed on our laps. Well, as soon as I go over and beyond the mountain peak, then I got caught in the updraft where the air is coming up the mountainside, going up and the aircraft started going up. And even though I had the nose pointed down, we were still climbing. And then all of a sudden, we got out of the updraft and hit the downdraft. And then we started going down like that and I couldn’t pull it out, so I had the navigator in this case was down in the nose and I had to yell at him to come up, that there was always second steering control towers in the aircraft. And so the pilot had to come up and we both put our feet up on the dash and we’re pulling. And we just pulled it out at the last minute, but the aircraft was shaking like mad because the last six inches of the propellers were turned up.

So, and then when we got to Bangalore, the airport is half covered in a downpour of rain that you couldn’t begin to see through it all, and so we had to land with the wind, not in the wind, which was always what you do. And we’d touch down and the ambulance once again ran along the airport, picked up this officer and he’d had a broken rib and the suitcase that was with him came down and landed on his ribs and broke a rib on him. So he was in pain so they had picked him up. That was quite an experience in itself, but once again, we survived it.

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