Unidentified aircrew with Avro Lancaster B.II aircraft DS848 QO:R of No. 432 (Leaside) Squadron, RCAF. As a navigator with No. 425 (Alouettes) Squadron, RCAF, Mr. Arthur Young would have been part of an air crew much like the one pictured here. Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence collection / Library and Archives Canada / e005176207Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence collection / Library and Archives Canada / e005176207
"I have no regrets of what we did and how we did it. If you want to get into a fight, make sure you know what the end result’s going to be, one way or the other."
I flew overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force, [No.] 6 Group, Bomber Command. I had 28 flights over Germany. We were briefed before each flight and navigators were given their targets and their route, which we then had to plot on our own charts. I have a picture someone took of me down on my hand and knees with my chart.
One of the things in the aircraft was the gyro compass, a mechanical compass. You set it before you take off and from there on, you use it until you come back home. On my very first flight I set it, but I made a mistake and instead of plotting it east, I plotted it west: Which meant that by the time I got to target, my compass bearing was almost across the page. But it turned out, once we got to the target, of course, you know exactly where you were, hoping it’s the same target. You could reset it and on the way home, it was no problem at all.
We got into radar finally. We were able to pinpoint locations from a chart. This special chart had beams and lines that you intercept lines and that’s where you’re supposed to be. Later on, they had [H2S], which was actually radio bearings from ground, so you can get an outline of a territory below you and with highlights and points, we can get references and from there, do your plotting: And it was plotting all the way. Which was another little bit of a hazard. Being a navigator, that flight desk in front of you kept coming up and down and up and down and got to be motion sickness. And they did have a little bag there for your, your upbringing, anything that was brought up. It was one of those hazards and it wasn’t uncommon for that to happen.
We were very busy from the time we took off. We had readings every six minutes and plotting every 12 because in six minutes, you multiple by 10 and you get miles per hour. And it was just adding a zero to your calculations to find out your speed. Other than that, it was just working; it kept you out of mischief anyways.
I flew with the French-Canadian squadron, the Alouettes [No.] 425. Half of the crew were French-Canadian but when we joined the conversation in the mess, the lads would switch right over to English and were very, very gentlemen-like, top of their class.
What really impressed me most was the war damage. Down in London, I had to go down there to pick up my uniform and I found the damage there. And later on, going back, we were over Coventry and saw the damage there. And I have no regrets of what we did and how we did it. If you want to get into a fight, make sure you know what the end result’s going to be, one way or the other.
There was no hatred in my life as far as what I did and why I did it, I just did it. God bless I survived.