"The object of the exercise was to slow down the withdrawal of troops out of Norway to the Western Front."
I remember one time we got an order. Two of us only from our squadron went out to mine Oslo Fjord, a section of Oslo Fjord. And the naval officer who was briefing us said, “There are two corvettes there but not to worry. They’re nothing.” So we flew in at about 1,000 feet, I guess. Fairly low. We went across at about 500 and then when we got, climb up to 4,000 feet. And my bomb aimer said, “There the corvettes* are down there.” So I said, “Well, what we’re going to do, we’re going to dive right on them. It’s the fastest way, and get right over.” So we dived right on them, and they were two König class cruisers that sent up more stuff, and missed us fortunately. It was very bright as you might imagine. And we went right over them and dropped our mines a little further along. It was at the time when the Germans were trying to get the troops out of Norway. And the object of the exercise was to slow down the withdrawal of troops out of Norway to the Western Front.
I only did two or three daylight operations. The first one was my first trip, when I went across as what as they call a second dickey [second pilot]. On the first trip that you did, you went along with an experienced pilot. You didn’t take your crew. It was just the pilot that went. This was into a place called Villers-Bocage. It was after D-Day, and it was to bomb a village that was a strong point, German strong point. It was… we bombed it at 8,000 feet, which is very low for a bomber. It was quite exciting for my first trip but it was… there were no fighters that night, that day at least.
And I imagine that we probably had an escort because it was not far in. It was not far in from Caen. The other one was at Falaise, where we were told that we had a 10 minute run in from the coast and that to be exact, and your speed was to be exact, and what have you because the Canadian troops, which were right in front there, were in a quarry. The 3rd [Canadian Infantry] Division, I think, was in the quarry. We were told not to bomb the quarry. My navigator had a watch on one wrist and a watch on the [other] wrist, and a watch on that thing and he was, very fortunately, he was an extremely good navigator. And the bomb aimer came along and we were watching it, and the bomb-aimer said, “They’re bombing the quarry.” The navigator said, “You’re not there yet. Don’t bomb the quarry.” So we didn’t. But we bombed right on time and we were like this with the squadron leader, a guy named Art Fetterman (?), who came from Ottawa.
We were side-by-side. We were waving. The gunners were waving at each other. We bombed at exactly the same time. We bombed, we think we bombed too far in advance of the firing line. You couldn’t see anything. It was all dust, you know. So when we got back, all our pictures were taken away immediately because there were pictures every time we bombed, there was a picture taken. And we were all made to go up to do practice bombing as a sort of a punishment. And I saw my, I saw this squadron leader, and I said, “Art, we bombed at exactly the same time and you’re not up practice bombing.” He said, “David, the reason why – I’m a squadron leader and you’re a flying officer.”
*Corvettes were small vessels that had excellent maneuvering capabilities. German corvettes were used for surveillance, reconnaissance and some target engagements.