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Decision to Bail Out

Heroes Remember

Decision to Bail Out

It was around one o'clock in the morning of June 8th, 1944, flying along, actually almost getting ready to drop our bombs when the whole aircraft shook as if someone was hitting it with a sledge hammer. And what had happened this German night fighter that was not seen by either the mid upper gunner or the tail gunner came underneath us and as he flew by he just raked the whole aircraft because the German had invented, developed a gun that was mounted at right angles to the fuselage so they didn't have to point their nose at you, they just fly underneath you and as they pass underneath you they rake the plane and so it set the whole left wing on fire so we got the order to bail out, jump because, wow, the whole left wing was on fire and I opened up my little window and looked out, oh this is, ya, this is dangerous and so I grabbed my chute, put it on and I went to the nose of the aircraft. In the Halifax aircraft those in the front leave by an opening in the nose of the aircraft. It wasn't until many, many years later when I met my navigator, Gordie Waddell, he said to me, "Do you remember bailing out?" I said, "No, I don''t," and I really don't. What happened I got to the nose of the aircraft, I was sitting there with my legs dangling out of the hole and I froze. Psychologically, emotionally, mentally I froze. And Gordie who was behind me couldn't get out because I was blocking his exit so he said I just put my foot on and shoved you out. Now I don't remember leaving the aircraft, I don't even remember grabbing the D-ring and pulling it. All I remember is floating down. And when I was floating down, of course, the aircraft went down a bit further and then it crashed and it lit up the whole countryside. And by the glow of the aircraft I could see another parachute above me so I knew that Gordie got out but I could also see five way behind me. So I felt comfortable in that the whole seven got out. But as I was coming down by the glow of the aircraft, the fighter plane that shot us down was making circles around us and around me and at one time when he was between the burning aircraft and me, he was that close that I could see his silhouette in the cockpit and I thought he's going to run into me but he didn't and they wouldn't do that. While I am up here in the sky, by the glow of the aircraft I could see what looked like a church steeple sticking up, a white one and the Seine River. And it looked like a bush over here so I figured as soon as I hit the ground I will run for the bush and hide in there because you anticipate as soon as you hit the ground someone is going to be shooting at you or yelling at you and so as I was coming down, while you are up high by the glow of the aircraft you can see all this but as you get close to the ground then the buildings and the hills block out so now you don't see the ground so you are bracing waiting for the impact which comes very unexpectedly and it comes with a terrible shock, my knees came up, hit me in my chin, I hurt my back. I gathered up my chute and I ran towards what looked like the bush and before I entered the bush I looked back towards the burning aircraft and there was a shadow running towards me in my direction and it was hunched over. Now I can see him because he was between the burning aircraft and me and I was on the dark side and as he got closer, I said, "Who is it?" "It's Ed." Here it turned out to be the bomb aimer so we embraced each other, we were so thankful we survived. "We gotta get out of here!" So Tommy still had his chute, we ran into the bush and we buried our chute under some bushes and by a miracle, by the glow of the moon it looked like a path.

After Germans ignited the aircraft, Mr. Carter-Edwards and the crew bail out and after a rough landing, he reunites with one of his crew.

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

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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