"One time, this Me-109 wrecked havoc with us, and he knocked down three planes over the airdrome because they knew that we put everything on safe when we were ready to land."
They needed pilots who had support, they needed Flight Engineers, number one, badly. Because nobody to shift from one tank to the other, you know, the gas. And the Flight Engineer was responsible for that. They were responsible for 26 instruments. We were the best protected people in the aircraft, because it was all done with, because the instruments that we were responsible for were very sensitive.
You see, what happens is that the Flight Engineer becomes a co-pilot really. He does everything except land and take-off the plane, that’s it. He works the allerons, he works all the instruments, and he helps. As a matter of fact, at straight and level flying, my pilot often asked me to help him, because he got tired. Flying a Halifax manually was very tough. Unbelievable bunch of kids flying a four engine aircraft, you know. Crazy. [Saved up] But not much enough to see my brother stationed in Aldershot at the time. He was recuperating from a wound in the head. He forgot to, as he said himself, “I forgot to duck.”
And he got hit with some shrapnel. Of course they operated on him right away. They got good medical training and he got saved. No, he was army, [First] Special Service Force. It’s half American, half Canadian, they wore the American uniform.
One time, this Me-109 [Messerschmitt Bf 109] wrecked havoc with us, and he knocked down three planes over the airdrome because they knew that we put everything on safe when we were ready to land. And the rest of the crew goes and sits in the rest area. And they knew bloody well that they’d get us. And even strafed the airdrome, killed a WAF.
And we watched very carefully, which planes didn’t come back. And we knew the crews on those planes. That was a really tough part of the operation, the planes didn’t come back. But we didn’t know for a while until they had landed.
I heard about it [VE-day] ahead of time, two days ahead of time. If you want to go to London for VE-Day, you’d better get moving because all the trains will be taken. We were in Yorkshire at the time, which is north England. We made it to London in time for VE-Day. On VE Day, the lights were on, a lot of booze given away, that’s for sure.