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Unforgettable Sights

Heroes Remember

Unforgettable Sights

I flew in October, November and it was getting cold but we had electrical heated flying suits which were great but it was still, you know, chilly. I was in the open really. Again, where I was, I had the view right down so I saw the target. I could just lean over like that and everything was happening down there. Compared to the navigator, I don't think he hardly ever saw anything. He was too busy in his little cubby to make sure you were on course. The other air gunners, the mid upper and the rear, they saw a lot of it too. I will never forget it for what I saw, you know. It was just explosions, fire, search lights, flak, looking out for fighters. And my last trip, I'll have to tell you about that... my 32nd trip in Willy, we had just released the bombs and we were caught in the cone. Now there was a blue search light which controlled the battery of search lights and if the blue light caught you then instantly the whole battery had you. And they got us just after we released the bombs and it was just like daylight up there and like for me, it's a funny feeling but I had the feeling they're really after me, you know, because there I was sitting there and these lights shining right up at me. But anyways, the skipper put the nose down, this was the recommended way to get out of the cone and build up your speed and we did, we got out of it. That could have been my last trip in other than getting home. You know, it was sort of a funny situation; last trip getting home and completing it and the last trip being shot down, that was the difference. Interviewer: But there must have been great anxiety and tension. I don't know how you describe that really. It was just something that happened, something that we did when we were told to do it and you didn't ask any questions. At briefing you took in everything that you thought would be necessary and when when we got home, when we touched down, back to dispersal, who was the first one to greet us, the ground crew. Interviewer: Can you elaborate on the importance of the ground crew? All important. I mean, they kept the aircraft airworthy, that's what they did and you relied on them wholly as far as the aircraft was concerned to get you back home and that's what happened 32 times for me.

Mr. McLean shares his recollection of what he witnessed during flight operations and the significance of the ground crew.

John “Jack” McLean

John (Jack) Caldwell McLean was born on June 1, 1925, in Port Elgin, Ontario. He moved to Hull, Quebec, with his family at age 12, and then eventually settled in Ottawa, Ontario. He enlisted at 55 Queen Street in Ottawa on September 15, 1943, and joined 415 (Swordfish) Squadron, Bomber Command, as an air gunner on an all-Canadian crew. Number 6 Group consisted of 14 squadrons on 7 airfields in Yorkshire, England. Mr. McLean ended the war as a flying officer (FO), after completing a tour of 32 trips. He was also a volunteer for “Tiger Force.” He enjoyed a successful career in the public service at the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board Secretariat, and Indian and Northern Affairs. He was married on May 15, 1948, and raised a family of five. Mr. McLean is a member of Branch 593 of the Royal Canadian Legion (Bells Corners), and is a member of the Air Force Association.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
June 22, 2012
Person Interviewed:
John “Jack” McLean
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
415 Squadron
Mid Upper / Tail Gunner

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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