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Targets and Tinsel

Heroes Remember

We went down to the briefing room. We were all ready to go on our first trip and when we went down to the briefing room, of course the target was covered and as soon as they opened up the curtains and all the red lines were pointing to our most feared target which was Berlin, Aw!! Our hearts sank because we heard so much about Berlin and we thought, wow, our baptism of fire is going to be Berlin. Anyway, we did that trip but the fact on that trip I would open up my little window beside me, pull the blind up to look out and, yah. I was scared because you would see a line of tracer going out from somewhere, then you would see an explosion, you would know, wow, somebody got hit or all of a sudden out of the clear blue, out of the clear dark sky, an explosion from a ground anti aircraft so very quickly you realized that people were dying, planes were getting hit, people were dying, were suffering on this trip and so I kind of closed my curtain because yah, I was scared and so but I had a job to do. I had to listen to the radio. I had to make sure that I did not miss any communication from base because sometimes they would have a diversionary target. If the cloud formation was too heavy over the target or conditions were not right, they would have a diversionary target so instead of going to initial target, you would go to the secondary target but if you missed that signal, then your crew is going to the initial target and you were dead ducks. The other job was I dropped tinsel which was bundles of aluminum foil. Every aircraft, every wireless operator on every aircraft dropped these little bundles of aluminum foil. And what happened, and what this did, as it left the chute, and got caught in the slip stream, it would explode and it created a whole cloud of aluminum so the aircraft were flying along had this cloud of aluminum drifting down below them and the purpose of that was to jam the German radar on their anti aircraft guns so that they wouldn't be able to pinpoint the exact altitude you were at and that's why they threw up a barrage so the shells would explode between 15,000 feet and 18,000 feet and so you just had to fly through this barrage and tha''s how they beat the tinsel. It must have helped some, I am sure it did. But then the other thing I had to do was jam the German radio communications between the fighters and base because the fighters used to come on the outside of you and so they knew what altitude you were and they'd radio that back to the base and so my other job was to try and jam those communications between a fighter and base so I had a lot of jobs to do and so that kind of kept me busy. I didn't want to look out anymore.

Mr. Carter-Edwards talks about some of the different duties he had while on a mission; dropping tinsel in hopes of jamming the enemy’s radar, monitoring the radio for communications from base and jamming German radio communications.

Ed Carter-Edwards

Edward (Ed) Carter-Edwards was born on April 2, 1923, in Montréal, Quebec, and was raised in Hamilton, Ontario. He enlisted in August 1942, and then joined 427 (Lion) Squadron, 6 Royal Canadian Air Force Group, in Leeming, England. He was a wireless operator air gunner and completed 21 successful missions in a Halifax bomber. On his 22nd mission, Mr. Carter-Edwards was shot down near Paris. He was betrayed to the Gestapo by a collaborator, threatened with execution and forced into the Fresnes prison, near Paris. He spent five weeks in the prison in 1944 followed by a five-day trip in a French cattle car to the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp. He was there for three and a half months as one of 26 Canadians - 168 allied airmen in all. He was forced to participate in two death marches shortly before the end of the war. Once released from service and safely back home, Mr. Carter-Edwards returned to Hamilton and worked at the appliance manufacturer Westinghouse. He was married in 1946, and he and his wife raised three children.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
June 25, 2012
Person Interviewed:
Ed Carter-Edwards
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
4th Medium Artillery Regiment
Wireless Air Gunner

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