Amazing Airmen: Canadian Flyers in World War Two
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Canadian and British airmen engaged in fierce and deadly battles in the skies over Europe during the Second World War. Those who survived often had to overcome incredible obstacles to do so -- dodging bullets and German troops, escaping from burning planes and enduring forced marches if they became prisoners.
In one story, a tail gunner from Montreal survived despite being unconscious when blown out of his bomber. Another story describes how the crew of a navigator from Ottawa used chewing gum to fill holes in their aircraft. And another tells how a pilot from northern Ontario parachuted out of his plane and became the target of a German machine-gunner, but within hours 120 Germans surrendered to him.
These painstakingly researched stories will enable you to feel what now-aging veterans endured when they were young men in the air war against Nazi Germany.
He lay there unconscious. Freezing water seeped in. Ironically, this helped him. It splashed on his face, bringing him back to consciousness. When he was alert again, he could see that the turret and tail were no longer part of the plane. He walked to the rear to see if he could spot the dinghy that the plane carried in the port wing. A water-sensitive switch in the nose of the bomber was supposed to release and inflate the dinghy when the nose became immersed in water. Weightman couldn’t see the dinghy.
The stairs led to an apartment occupied by the owner of the store. They couldn’t risk entering the store itself in case someone who didn’t support the Allies saw them. The owner came up the interior staircase. Before he could find a pair of shoes for Renner, he noticed some unwanted customers in his store. “Les Boches,” he whispered, using a pejorative word to describe Germans. Renner looked down the staircase into the store. He could see several men in uniforms. He was not mistaken this time. German soldiers were right below him.
Cauley, twenty-two, was the navigator on Sunderland flying boat EK591, flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 422 Squadron. The squadron was based at the Royal Air Force station at Castle Archdale, beside Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. Sunderlands were big, powerful aircraft with a fuselage that was like the hull of a boat. They were ideal planes to search for submarines because they could remain in the air for the long patrols needed to spot subs, and could land on water. Frank Cauley in 1944. EK591 took off at 11:00 a.
By noon, Ogilvie came to a major highway. When he saw it, he realized he had not gone as far as he would have liked. He remembered the escape committee telling him he should reach the highway on his first night. He crossed the highway and re-entered the woods, where he hid in the underbrush. Ogilvie started walking again in the evening. Snow fell, which made his trek more difficult. After a few hours, he came to a road. In order to travel more quickly, he walked along it. Half an hour later, two members of the German Home Guard saw him as he crossed a bridge near the town of Halbau.
He had hoped that executing the prisoners would set an example that would discourage other prisoners from escaping. In 1963, the mass escape at Stalag Luft III was turned into the movie, The Great Escape. Ogilvie enjoyed the film as a Hollywood production, but he thought many scenes did not portray what really happened. No one, for example, escaped on a motorcycle like Captain Hilts, the character portrayed by American actor Steve McQueen. Although the characters are composites of real prisoners, one scene resembles the incident in which Ogilvie removed a guard’s wallet.