"the snow was flying and everything else. I said, we’ll take the iron compass. What in the hell is the iron compass? I said, well, we follow the railway tracks."
Well, it was a strange thing but I was told by a group captain, he said, I don’t think you’d ever get to be bombing Germany, John. Your grandmother and grandfather are still alive in Düsseldorf -- did you do it, did you kill them? You know. Well yeah, the policy was that there was a lot of [servicemen of] German descent and Italian descent … your brothers and cousins and that, in Italy especially. But I had cousins and I had my grandparents were still alive.
Went to ITS in Toronto, that’s Initial Training School and went to Windsor, Ontario, where my elementary [training was] on Tiger Moths. And I was right at home because that’s where I grew up was in Windsor, Ontario. And then I went to Hagersville [Ontario], No. 16 Service Flying [Training] School and graduated at Hagersville.
Then I went out to Saskatoon, No.4 SFTS and instructing on pilot navigation and I was out there about a year. You took the young fellows that did - that Service Flying School was all pilots. And this was a, for them to graduate and they were taken out, you take two at a time and you just fly around and tell them to be observing the pinpoints of where they are going to end up and then we’ll fly home. But you’ve got to give me a course for home. And sometimes you’d end up about 50, 60 miles south or north. They knew the general direction but the earth turned on them. No, it’s all you wanted, the boys picked it up pretty fast because they were doing different things and even before they got their wings. But when they, during their service flying, it was a big part of flying was navigation, you knew where the heck you were most of the time, or you should know.
Well, I transported a flight lieutenant air gunner from Saskatoon to Dauphin, Manitoba. I took him in there and he said, oh, gee, the weather doesn’t look good out there and the snow was flying and everything else. I said, we’ll take the iron compass. What in the hell is the iron compass? I said, well, we follow the railway tracks. And he, I said, I’ll stay on the proper side so I’m not hitting the, those big buildings that they have next to the side. And geez, I was down about 300 feet and holy gee, well, he reported me to the CO [Commanding Officer] in Dauphin and the CO came out and said, John, you’d better head back to Saskatoon. But he said, it’s gone no farther than me, I’m not reporting that. But the guy was a, he was an air gunner and I guess he’d done, like he’d done a whole tour. And then, just like this, he was going to go through for a pilot.
But man, he was just shattered. He said, that was the hairiest trip and I’m going to report that to the CO. And he did. CO came out and … I said, well, I still had 300 feet under my belly, you know.