16. Chivenor was surrounded by hills and one night a fortress flying too low, crashed. Four of us grabbed a jeep and drove as high as we could and walked or ran the rest of the way. But because
of the exploding ammunition from the fire, we didn’t dare approach the plane but watched from a ditch. The flight engineer who was a member of that crew, saved many of his crew member by pulling them out. He received the George Medal for
his act of bravery.
17. To go back to Hudsons at North Coates, we lost our electrical power which meant no radio, no lights, no radar. Along the coast were flashing red lights with certain Morse number. We had flown somewhat erratically, and then a single search light appeared straight up and lowering in a certain direction. This told us that an airfield was in that direction. As we flew along, more and more search lights came on until they formed a cone. We knew there was an airfield directly below. We landed in darkness, no runway lights and bounced 10 feet into the air. This was Lancaster squadron base and on entering the mess, there was on old friend from home. I’d played ball and hockey with him. When I was discharged in Lachine, I met one of his crew. He told me that Sonny was killed coming over the coast of Holland. The plane had been shot up and the pilot had said to the crew, “prepare to bail out.” Sonny had just put on his head phones and what he heard was “Bail out.” His head hit the tail section and the Germans found his body on the shore, and did not report it back to England.
18. Also, to go back to North Coates, when the German battleship slipped up the channel from France to Germany. We, on the Hudson, were sent out to try and locate the Prince Eugen. It was foggy all of the way and we flew between Denmark and Sweden. We always felt relieved when we didn’t find it. We could have been blown out of the sky.
19. On one of our Liberator patrols, we pick up the convoy we were to escort. We were asked by Aldis lamp if there were any stragglers, so we flew back on the path the convoy had been and found one lonely French (Free) ship. The code at the time was international and we were asked where the convoy was, so we flew over the ship showing the direction it was to go. We always felt sorry for this ship, so defenceless.
20. Our Scottish navigator was one of the best and you had to be good to be away out over the ocean and know where you were. We always threatened him that if we got lost we would turn the radar dish on him and make him sterile. It had a high frequency of 278 kilocycles. Well I kept in touch with Scotty all these years and some time ago had asked him how many children he and his wife had. “None” he said “ We couldn’t have any.” I felt bad, But Scotty’s position was right above the radar screen, which turned 360 degrees continuously.
21. While stationed at Thorney Island, one day and one evening we were confined to camp. We didn’t know until the next day that the raid on Dieppe was on and our job would have been to fly along the coast of France looking for German e-boats. We weren’t sent out.
22. While on Hudsons, we were part of an experiment of fitting and firing a 20 mm cannon forward. Out over the north sea, the pilot fired. The concussion almost stopped the plane. No more firing of this nature took place.
23. At Aldergrove, near Belfast, on Liberators we had rockets fitted under the wings. The procedure was to go into a 30 degree or so dive and fire these rockets in the water. All went well until we started to pull out. It took the two pilots to bring the plane back out. However the action so affected the plane it never flew again.
24. While stationed at Thorney Island we attended the cinema in Portsmouth on evening to watch “ Mrs. Miniver.” A German Focke-Wolfe plane flew along the street dropping bombs. All the lights in the cinema went out, the screen went black. When the lights came back on, we Canadians, four of us, were the only ones in the whole place under our seats. The English patrons were still in their seats. We felt pretty foolish.
25. When taking off from Andergrove one night in a liberator, we had a new co-pilot, and he had his procedure to carry out on take off. He forgot to bring the landing flaps into position and we couldn’t gain any height. We were heading directly to some buildings when our pilot saw what was wrong, corrected that fault and we just cleared that building.
26. A couple of times we were sent out to find crews of aircraft that had had to ditch. Unfortunately we had no luck.
27. While at Chivenor on Fortresses, we were fitted with top secret homing torpedoes and if we were diverted, some one was designated to sleep on board and we were all issued with .38 revolvers. Well, we were diverted one time at night to Exeter, and I was the one to stay on the plane. I had that revolver with original 5 shell until I came to London. I turned it in at the police station to be destroyed. I received a call from a policeman wanting to buy it so I sold it to him. It was a first war Smith and Wessen.
28. Many leaves were spent in London. We were granted two weeks every six weeks and two 48 hour passes. The fog at times was so thick that at night the only way to navigate was by feeling the walls. The Salvation Army hostels were one shilling. Their centers were open at all time. Paper and envelopes were always free. The YMCA, on the other hand charged for everything. To this day I have a soft spot for the Sally Ann.
29. The Beaver Club in London was a favourite meeting place and many friends from home were seen again.
30. While at North Coates we were bombed one night by the German planes. The air-raid shelter was soon filled and a direct hit would have been disastrous.
31. Coming in one night, we were told by radio that there was an enemy plane in the circuit and we were to gain height and wait it out. It was a policy that the turret gunner vacate his position on landing, but this time he stayed in at the ready.
14. On one of our patrols over the Atlantic were flying at 4,000 feet in cloud when we picked up a blip on our radar. Thinking sub all the way, we came within three miles and dived out fully
expecting to see a sub. Here it was H.M.S. Athenia, a cruiser, with every gun pointed right at us. Our pilot flipped the plane on its side to show the roundels under the wings and we fired off our very gun with the colours of day. This
consisted of three balls of colour, red, green, and orange and these changed their rotation each day.
15. Posted to Chivenor in Devon, we converted to Fortresses with the most of our flying in the Bay of Biscay area off Portugal looking for subs leaving or returned to their base in France.