Veteran Stories:
Michael Fedoruk

Air Force

  • Michael Fedoruk with Bomber Command Group RAF crew after trip de-briefing, warming up to a hot stove and a cup of tea, February 20, 1944.

  • Michael Fedoruk and two other evading airmen are given a farewell tea party by the Ottens family from Amersfoort, Holland before being escorted to their next destination by the Underground, April 1944.

  • Michael Fedoruk (standing 3rd from left back row) and the Koeslag Family, which boarded six evaders from Canada, U.S and England during the German occupation of Holland, May 30, 1944.

  • Michael Fedoruk standing beside a 4000lb Air Blast Bomb (Cookie) with Lancastor Bomber in background, June 2001.

  • Michael Fedoruk and friends having a pint of bitters at the Red Lion Inn around an oak table carved with aircrew names, June 2001.

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"To you folks, I will say come along for the ride and live the experience that many a bomb aimer and crew had to endure…"

Transcript

My main story starts on March the 24th, or 25th, during a raid by Bomber Command on the City of Berlin in 1944. Six hundred and seventy-seven aircraft took part in this raid. Now, let's go back in time to that day. To you folks, I will say come along for the ride and live the experience that many a bomb aimer and crew had to endure. Pretend that you are seated in a Lancaster bomber, the ME 672, operating out of 44 Squadron Base in Lincolnshire, England. Don't get airsick because this is supposed to be a seven-hour flight. Now, my name is Michael Fedoruk, I am twenty-three years old and a certified bomb aimer. My original crew had already taken part in five raids deep into German territory, and this one will be my sixth mission. We were not a rookie crew. So here we go on a mission to Berlin. Our bomb load is approximately 9,526 pounds which consists of one 4,000-pound bomb, called a blockbuster or a cookie, and the rest are incendiary sticks packaged in crates ranging from four pounds to thirty pound sticks. Now, a cookie bomb is used to cause blasts and destruction and the incendiaries are used to fire the area. So we're off on our mission as a commander of our base waves to all aircraft taking off and wishes us a safe return. Chatter in our aircraft has settled down and only necessary commands and instructions were carried out. Looking ahead through the nose of the plane from the bomb aimer's compartment, activity was starting to take shape. Searchlights started to pierce up into the dark sky. Aircraft are being combed by these beams and look helpless. Puffs of grey and black smoke dot the sky as orange flashes accentuate the exploding anti-aircraft shells. We are now over the target, bomb bay doors opened, and all the bombs have been activated. I sight up the target with verbal instructions to the pilot for course correction. I release the bombs and there's a slight lift of the Lancaster as I voice "bombs gone" over the intercom. The pilot says, "Thank God they are gone." And he turned our war machine on a new course for home. On return over the Ruhr Valley we are caught in a cone of searchlights, and are subjected to heavy anti-aircraft fire. Our night vision is poor due to the blinding searchlights. Looking down below the Lancaster I observe a burst of tracers arc its way from below towards our plane. I holler for the pilot to take evasive action. The nightfire hit us. One engine on the left wing was knocked out and the other one was on fire. We were a blazing torch in the dark sky. The pilot asks for our location as he has great difficulty to fly and control the plane. We are over Holland and there is panic in the aircraft. The pilot orders the crew to bail out. I reply, "Bomb aimer, bailing out," and I exit the plane. I pull the ripcord on the chute and a sudden flurry of cord and silk is followed by a sudden jerk. My nose is bleeding, my chin is bruised, my earlobes are slightly torn. I hit the ground hard with my feet and tumbled over. All was still and silent, but my heart is pounding hard. And seeing some bushes nearby, I hide there and bury my chute. So began my thirteen months of evasion in Holland.
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