Veteran Stories:
Ray Sowerby

Air Force

  • Ray Sowerby, October 2009.

    Historica Canada
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"Everybody did the same, everybody was involved in the war. And we listened to the results of it on the radio."


Yeah, there’s nothing like the air force. It was wonderful. And I had a brother in the air force and I had built model airplanes all my life and I was dedicated to flying. I had a paper route in Merritt and I made a few bucks on that and I’d send off for the balsa wood and all that to the place in the United States and for about a dollar’s worth of balsa wood, you got quite a bit of stuff. And then we built model airplanes from, there was a magazine called Air Trails. I remember a friend of mine, Ralph Wass who lived in Kelowna but he’s passed now, he and I used to have a, we shared a common thread in that we both built model airplanes and gasoline powered engines were just coming in and they were very primitive and didn’t work very well. But I made some rubber controlled models where, I don’t know whether you understand them, they’re Wakefield, Wakefield model airplane and you’d literally put about 100 feet of rubber and you’d have somebody hold onto about 10 feet away and you’d wind it and you’d wind all this up into the aircraft and then you’d let it fly. And I had flights of about three minutes out of an aircraft like that. Anyway, we built model airplanes and I really enjoyed the air force. I would do it all over again. Well, in Merritt, which was barely a thousand population then, it was very much dedicated to the war and my dad, who worked for the B.C. government in Merritt and he was also the recruiting officer in Merritt for part-time job and I can remember people have been very dedicated. I remember one lady, Hannah Forsyth, she did a lot of knitting for the war and she was always sending parcels overseas and away. And my mother did the same. Everybody did the same, everybody was involved in the war. And we listened to the results of it on the radio, there was no TV then. Well, there were about 20 of us on the course, on the grading course and then there were just three of us left who’d done better than the others on the course and we thought we’d surely continue our pilot training. And this was in St. Hubert and eventually, we had to, we mustered to another trade, so I took bomber. And I went to Jarvis, Ontario, for the bombing and gunnery. And I went to Malton for the navigation part of the training. And then I got my wings. And the war was pretty well over by then. Sad things in my life were when my brother was lost and I can remember, I was in the air force in Edmonton by then. And he had been home for Christmas leave, had Christmas and then he was lost in about the second week of January. So he was quite close to when we saw him. And then I was back in Edmonton at ITS and I was told to report to the padre and that’s when I got the news. But they were never found anyway. There is a creek down near Hope, B.C., which is named after Ernie. It’s Sowerby Creek and my sister, my oldest sister passed away about three years ago and her ashes were deposited in Sowerby Creek.
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