My name is John J. Walkty, and I graduated as a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Altogether, my service was here in Canada with about two years before I was ready to go overseas. I arrived in May of 1944, and I got further training. Then when I was finally sent to a squadron, the RAF was short of navigators, so instead of flying with an RCAF squadron, I flew with an RAF squadron.
I had approximately eleven missions, and on the eleventh mission, which was on June the 6th, 19, our squadron was to bomb a railway station in the middle of a town, and as the railway station was situated in an area that had a lot of civilians living around, it was decided that the target would have to be seen by us before we bombed it, and not by instrument. Just as we were getting close to our destination, we were hit by…well, I guess it was a (Messerschmitt), we didn't see him. All we could hear was [machine gun noise] as it hit our wings and so on. We kept on going, and suddenly we saw our wing was on fire. Our skipper, he said, "Well, we'll just have to hurry up and forget about the rotation of going in and whether we have to drop our bombs, otherwise the plane is going to blow up." So we went in, dropped our bombs on the target, and if we hit it or not I can't remember – it's so long ago – and on the way back, the flames had now completely enveloped the wing, and the pilot said, "We'd better jump and go before it blows up." So we all parachuted out, with the exception of the rear gunner, who died when the plane blew up. We were at about two thousand feet, and as I came down, I landed right in the parade square of a German group. They saw me coming down with the searchlights, and I had a welcoming committee right there.
I was taken prisoner of war, and after being interrogated and so on, I was taken by train – the trains were still running and I was kind of amazed at that – I was taken up to… the area was Breslau, and the camp was called Bankau. Now Bankau was a prisoner of war camp that had all Allied prisoners of war there – there were Canadians and Americans and Australians, British and so on – and I was there for approximately nine months, when the Russians started their winter campaign.