"And that was one way of getting away from getting shot down with a German fighter."
We got leave before we had to go overseas. Then went back, went to Halifax and got on a big ship. Ended up over in Scotland, where they used to land them near Glasgow. And we got off there and we went, oh, several places in England. That was the fall of 1943. Me and three more Canadians was lent to the Royal Air Force, because they were short of men. And we had three English then, there was seven in the crew, four Canadians and three English.
We would go to the administration office and check the duties for the day, then we’d find if we were flying that night. We would fly two night trips and then we’d get a trip off, let the nerves settle down a bit. If we were flying that night, we’d go get a supper. We’d go out in the afternoon, or if it was daytime, it would be right after dinner or before. We’d go out and check our aircraft all over.
We had four mechanics for four motors. Each mechanic had a motor to look after and we had a man that looked after the body and frame of the aircraft, to see that there was no cracks or weaknesses. And we done that ourself as well.
We would go and have bacon and eggs for a nice meal, which we liked for before we went on a trip. And after briefing, we had to go out to our aircraft, which was on a dispersal point. They were dispersed all around the drome in a big circle, so that they could only be strafed by Germans, one at a time. And we’d go out and we’d start up our aircraft again, the pilots start the motor, run them up, warm them up and we’d check everything out and if we had to wait long, we’d play poker underneath the machine if it was nice weather. And if it wasn’t nice, we’d find a sheltered place until it was almost time for us to take off.
In the meantime, that day, there was armourers had loaded us with bombs and checked the ammunition for the guns and everything. And we’d go through another checklist and see that everything was right up to scratch and they’d warm the motor so that when they were told to take off in five minutes, he didn’t need to warm them up then. We’d just all get in and away we’d go, hoping we’d get home again.
We’d done a lot of bombing ahead of our own troops, our own Canadian Army. We were actually sent to a special duties aerodrome and we done special trips when there were lots of special trips to do, like going in front of the army, the army wanted some weakening done up ahead and we’d bomb. I was in the back, very back end of the aircraft. My turret was bolted on outside the back. I could see half the circle, up or down or sideways. If I saw aircraft coming in, I never let it get up to 600 yards. From one thousand to eight, in there somewhere, I would yell for the pilot to dive to whatever direction that fighter was coming from, whether it be starboard or, what was the other one? Oh, right or left. And we’d go down 1,000 feet and of course, he was coming faster than we were, so he’d overfly us. When we went down 1 000 feet, he’d turn the machine over the other way and come up, back up 1 000 feet. And everything was cleared up, didn’t see nothing, nobody there. And that was one way of getting away from getting shot down with a German fighter.