Veteran Stories:
Jim McPhee

Air Force

  • Jim McPhee's Discharge Certificate dated from November 21, 1945 when he was honourably released.

    Jim McPhee
  • Jim McPhee in uniform in 1945.

    Jim McPhee
  • Group from No. 7 I.T.S. RCAF in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in September, 1943.

    Jim McPhee
  • Pages from Jim McPhee's Flying Log Book in which he recorded all his air time and combat operations, 1944.

    Jim McPhee
  • Page from Jim McPhee's Flying Log Book, in which it certifies his qualifications as Air Gunner, 1944.

    Jim McPhee
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"I realized that I was in a free-fall, pulled my ripcord and with a very short interval, I landed on top of a roof, rolled off onto a cobblestone courtyard."

Transcript

On November the 21st [1944], we were sent to Castrop–Rauxel [Germany] to bomb an oil fabrication plant and we flew in at 22,000 feet. While going over, I had trouble with my electrical system. My electric flying suit almost burned me. So I had to turn it off. I think it was something like 50 [degrees Celsius] below zero up there and by the time we got to the target, we were pretty cold.

On the bombing run, I could see that we were going to get coned with searchlights and I advised evasive action to the pilot but he said we were on the bombing run and he didn’t want to hear from anybody but the bomb aimer. And so we got the bombs dropped on target; the spotlights hit us and we were surrounded with the most intense light that you could imagine. The searchlights were turned off and we frantically tried to search for enemy aircraft and I did spot, it was either a Junkers 88 or a Messerschmitt 110 up on the port side of the aircraft. I thought maybe it was a decoy, I assigned it to the mid-upper gunner and I did a further sky search.

The next thing I knew, there were tracer bullets coming from below and behind. And I could see that the tail-planes, the aircraft were disintegrating. And I heard them say that the mid-upper gunner had been wounded and was bleeding and another attack came through with the tracer bullets coming in and more damage being done and I suddenly was hit on the side of the head with something. The next thing I knew, I was falling with the sensation of a great rush of wind. My flying suit had come out of my flying boots and was flapping up around my face and I realized that I was in a free-fall, pulled my ripcord and with a very short interval, I landed on top of a roof, rolled off onto a cobblestone courtyard.

I could see I was in a little village in a valley and there was a forest on the side of a hill. And I escaped up into there and hid overnight. For the next week, I wandered around Germany, trying to find my way up to Arnhem [Netherlands] because we were close enough there, we could hear the sounds of the artillery up there. I was at that time, I knew I was near Düsseldorf and, but after wandering around in the snowy terrain, it rained and snowed and the weather was sub-zero, I went into a barn for some refuge because I was just about worn out. When I was there, the farmer’s dog alerted the farmer and he and I had a confrontation but he was more frightened of me than I was of him. But I indicated that I had no weapons and he actually took me into the house and could see I was in great distress. There were a couple of teenage girls there who helped me off with my outer clothes and they took and spread them to dry. They fed me a very adequate breakfast which was very welcome and after about an hour, the Wehrmacht, the German Army, showed up and I was escorted into the city of Düsseldorf, into a police station.

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