34. In Aldergrove, North Ireland, the runway had to be extended because of the Liberators and this cut across the railroad line the one time an airplane took precedence over a train. It had to give way
when one of our planes was taking off or landing.
35. While flying off the coast of Portugal, we would drop leaflets in Spanish on the fishing boats warning them to make for shore. To us, they could have been boats to warn the Germans of our presence.
36. As air force personnel, Lady McRobert had donated her castle for any leave we might have. We were charged one schilling a day, provided with a bicycle, golf clubs and one ball. It took all day to play 18 holes. A lost ball had to be found. Lady McRobert lost 5 sons in the war as Spitfire pilots and she provided funds for five Spitfires that were named “McRoberts’ Reply” We took the train one time with our bicycles to Balmoral Castle, one of the homes of the royal family. We toured the grounds, looked in the windows. All the drapes and carpets were Scottish plaid. No pictures were to be taken.
37. The second 1000 bomber raid over Bremen was one of the highlights, and of course a scary one. To fly so far over enemy territory, with anti-aircraft fire directed your way was not an easy way to make a living, and to set out over Bremen in total cloud with the cloud below outlined by fires on the ground, and then being blown 10 feet or so higher up by exploding bombs under you was enough for me “ when sitting” on my tin hat in the rear turret almost made me feel that I was entirely in that hat. We had only ten minutes over the target because of a different wave of planes coming in over us at 23,000 feet and we had to get out fast. We found a small hole in the cloud, dropped our bombs and started for home. The navigator reported that one bomb had hung up, so instead of jettison over the countryside and hitting some poor German family, we dropped it over the North Sea. We had just enough fuel to make it to base.
38. Radar was very good as time went on. We could come up the west coast of Ireland and see all the coastline. This in the darkness. On one trip back to Aldergrove, we did just that, knowing when to make a turn to out base, coming over Loch Neagh and then gradually circling lower and lower and breaking cloud at 300 feet, right in the line with the runway.
39. Four of our crew are still living and I am in touch with all of them.
40. I have experienced fear twice in my life time. Gut retching fear. The first when diving on that convoy on our first taste of enemy action and hearing and feeling the shells hitting our aircraft, and the second time over Bremen, when getting bounced by exploding shell underneath us. Any air force service man who has been in action will never say “Me, I’ve never been afraid”. It happened to all of us.
41. After 43 trips I was taken off ops and posted to Nassau. I came into New York on the Queen Mary, this time in a stateroom. Officers had the best. It was quite a thrill to walk up to the front door of home with my family there to greet me.
42. Posted to Nassau to train Czechoslovakian crews was the ultimate in what is called ‘a rest’ Flying to spots like Cuba - 5 times - Turk Island, Grand Bahamas, Jamaica, Guantanamo, Abaco Island and San Salvador where stands a monument to commemorate the landing of Columbus. We had the run of Paradise Island, the Colonial Club and received 7 shillings 6 pence a day hard living allowances because we had to sleep on canvass cots under mosquito netting. AS officers we were invited to Government House where Prince Edwards and Wally Simpson resided. They were away at the time by they did attend a dance on the base later on. I did get back to Montreal a couple time on leave, by plane to Miami and by train to Montreal.
43. After I was discharged and living at home, an official from the Czech government came to the door, and I was presented with a solid silver air force medal and the citation that went with it, for my work in training their crews. I would work after hours to help.
44. One last story. On one of our flights over the Atlantic, we passed right over a German four engine plane called a Focke-Wolfe Condor on its way out to attack our convoys. We reversed our direction to attack from the rear. I was in the upper turret at the time. In the following battle he managed t escape into cloud with one engine smoking. One of his shells passed through our aircraft, missing a depth charge by 2 inches and passing through the radio and seat where a wireless operator had been sitting minutes before. We had to return to base.
45. Some years after the war, I was on a 11-7 work shift at General Foods, La Salle, Montreal, working with a German mechanic. During a slack period we took the time out to talk and the subject of the war came up. He said he ended up a prisoner of war interned in Southern France. I asked what he had done before that and he said that he had been a gunner on the rear of a merchant ship going in convoys up the French and Dutch coasts. We started pinpointing the year, the month, the day and the time. It turned out that was the convoy that we had attacked. So here he was shooting at us and we were attempting to drop bombs on his ship. He saw the other two planes shot down, and thought that we had suffered the same fate. Strange - what a coincidence.
46. The foreman of our boiler room had been a u-boat submarine commander, had been captured and interned in Old Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario. We had got talking one time to learn of this, and that he was the leader of the prisoners to dig a tunnel out of there. He was recaptured and out of the group three escaped, ending up in New York and eventually back to Germany. He brought me the write up with pictures form the Montreal Star.
On one patrol over the Atlantic and flying at 4,000 feet four engines cut out and we dropped 400 feet like a stone. The flight engineer, whose jobs it was to switch petrol tanks when running low, forgot, but managed to do so right away. Too close for comfort.
33. Meeting the Queen Mary on one of our patrols and to see some of the 20,000 American troops on board, was quite a sight. Our navigator Scotty said to tell them that they’re 50 miles off course. I was on the Aldis and flashed the signal. From then on no more communication. I guess they were insulted. Some time later in Londonberry, in a meeting of navy and air force brass, our pilot was there when the captain of the Queen Mary told of that incident. He had his navigator check and sure enough there were out that 50 miles. Seeing the smile on our pilot’s face, the captain said, “ and what you know about this?”. “Sir” said my pilot, “I was the captain of that aircraft.”