Veteran Stories:
Richard Sullen

Air Force

  • Note on artifact reads: One of eight that hit Lanc. "N" April 20, 44. Recovered from large tank RT wing. Went thru top and made hole in bot. Gas leaking into wing - 3 Engines were switched to leaking tank to get use of as much as possible"

  • Note on artifact reads: The is a piece of a flying bomb, that hit a tree in front of the club where I was taking a bath inside."

  • Floating life jacket light, 1944

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"We were losing gas, we were on fire, and we had a fighter attack at the same time."


My name is Richard Sullen. I’m from Oakbank, Manitoba. And I was in the RCAF and operated out of England under the RAF in a sense. I was on bombing raids. Did 39 bombing raids all together over Germany and the occupied countries. Now one of the most exciting raids I guess that I was on and what was the most dangerous was on a raid on Cologne one night and another one of our own planes dumped eight incendiary bombs on our aircraft. Set the starboard engine on fire, set the fire going in the port wing, and also another one fell into my large gas tank in the starboard wing and made a hole in the bottom. We were losing gas, we were on fire, and we had a fighter attack at the same time. We aided the fighter, and then we rejoined you might say the bomber screen and continued on over the target that we were supposed to be bombing and we dropped our bombs on the target indicators. And then we headed out of the city area and headed for home because we were losing gas and we were under the impression that we probably wouldn’t have enough to get back home. So I had the navigator pick the shortest way to an emergency drome in England and we had the wireless operator call them short-wave to them we would be coming in where we weren’t supposed to be and we would be attempting to make it there on the fuel that we still had. We did that, and we got back across the Channel, and we were coming in to land when with the two engines then on one side and on one the other and the trimming tabs had been knocked out with the incendiaries and I could not hold the aircraft on the beam…the airdrum was fogged in. I had the engineer cut an engine on the other side so that I could control it on the beam at the lower speed. But we broke through the crud and we realized that we were heading for a red light on a hangar and I had to go around. This is a serious thing going around with the shortage of gas and also with the heavy bomber with just two engines working. We had to take a chance it was better than running into a hangar anyway. We got around and we managed to land it and get down safely. I was never so glad to be down on Mother Earth as I was that night.
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