Veteran Stories:
Errol Laughlin

Air Force

  • Errol Laughlin, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"now can you imagine that fellow with a set of wings? I don’t understand how he ever got his wings, when you get lost over PEI in the daytime."

Transcript

Well, enlisted with the air crew, and then from there on I was in the wireless seat, accepting wireless message and sending wireless message back to base, based on what the navigators would give me. You know, the next turn point, estimated time of arrival [ETA] and so on. You had a two minute slot every half hour, each aircraft, so I had to make certain my two minutes was on the two minutes because you’d be interfering with the next plane. If you missed your two minutes and then the next guy’s two minutes, you’re in there, you’re in big trouble then because it was all laid out ahead, which two minutes you had every half hour. So you had to be wide awake, make sure you’re in your own slot. But the navigator trainees would give you the message and the odd time, I would take a bearing for the navigators, if they asked for it. That was my job, take the bearings. Would you believe I was with a pilot who was lost over PEI [Prince Edward Island] in a sunny afternoon? Sergeant Bloxam. The navigator trainee’s job was over at Point Prim Lighthouse, across from Charlottetown. Then it was up to the pilot to go up Tracadie Bay for a bomb drop – there was a target in the centre of Tracadie Bay. If you make all those trips, 252 flights, well, it would be somewhere in between then. I guess you get to know how many minutes it takes you to go up to Tracadie Bay from when the navigators are done. So I was thinking, taking a long time this day, so I looked out in Tracadie Bay, [they were] way back on their left, heading for Souris. So I called Sergeant Bloxam on the intercom, “Where are you heading for?” “Tracadie Bay.” I said, “Tracadie Bay, way back on your left.” “Well, we don’t have enough fuel to go there. We’ve got to go back to base.” So two or three minutes later, I look up the line of the [Avro] Anson, and he was saying, “There’s some strait showing up ahead.” I guess he thought it was Hillsborough River. Anyway, I took a bearing first: 186 degrees. I said, “Where are you heading for now?” “Base.” I said, “Base is 186 degrees.” 180 is opposite, flying away off the T [of a compass] a bit meant 186. So I got him turned around and we figured we had five minutes gas left when we landed. If I had let him go another five minutes… now can you imagine that fellow with a set of wings? I don’t understand how he ever got his wings, when you get lost over PEI in the daytime.
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