Veteran Stories:
John Penner

Air Force

  • Mr. John Penner. October 30, 2009

    Courtesy of The Memory Project
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"The only problem was that we almost didn’t come back from the third trip."


My training was typical of flying. We were flying Tiger Moths. Some people say it’s the most difficult aircraft you ever fly - right. We managed to fly the thing alright. A number of people didn’t fly it right. I found it a fairly simple aircraft to fly. After training, Three Rivers [Trois-Rivières], Quebec, and from there, eventually, we went to England. And from there to Scotland; Kinloss, among others. And eventually we were assigned a different post and away we went. I went up to Scotland and we went to do an advanced flying training. We picked up our crews and eventually we got together, flying together in Whitley aircraft. This was an aircraft that was built in 1937, wasn’t a very modern aircraft. We get about 110, 115 miles an hour flying. That’s all you get. There is different areas where you’re assigned. They weren’t operations, operations where we went to a target. Strictly in Britain. So we didn’t have any targets. I would like to have had but we didn’t have. That’s where we went on to heavy aircraft. And we got to fly the Halifax and that was a chore in itself. It’s a big job, first four engine job. Then we went to the squadron. Let’s see, I went to four different targets. The first one was called the Harburg [oil refinery in Germany]. We went there and we did it all right there. We got a good target in that. And we came back, we went to the second, where is the second? I have no idea where the second was. The only problem was that we almost didn’t come back from the third trip. We nearly didn’t come back so that was a good memory. That was the first and last trip. It was supposedly a second, a thousand bomber trip but it wasn’t, there wasn’t a thousand bombers there. There was something like 800 or 900. They took off, we went to the target and turned around and came back. And that was the story of the trip.
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