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Shot Down And Rescued (Part 2 of 3)

Heroes Remember

Shot Down And Rescued (Part 2 of 3)

I decided I would bail out so I took my helmet off and threw it over the side and that would take the oxygen tube, you see, and the electric cord, got rid of those and then I undid my harness, the harness that held me in the aircraft and there are different theories on bailing out. One is you step out like a bathtub, the other is you go upside down and go out that way, there were problems with that, and the other is just bunt it, put your control column forward and your centrifugal force will throw you out and that’s what I thought I’d always had in mind that I would do that. And so I did that but I only, as I trimmed the airplane forward so in effect instead of pushing the control column, there was really no pressure on it and I got, because it was going forward by itself, and I got part way out so I was sort of sitting, you might say, on the edge of the cockpit and I was leaning against the air mask, it was right at my back and it was like riding a horse that you didn’t have the reins to. The thing started down and you could see it going downwards and I kicked around, I finally kicked around somehow and I got clear. And I felt the tail hit me on the hip as I went past it, not very hard but it hit me and then I was on my back looking up at the sky. I remember my pants were rippling in the breeze, that’s my clearest memory and I looked down for the rip cord, the D-ring here in the parachute, just saw it and pulled it, you see, then I saw a white ball. I was on my back, my head is down, my feet up and I saw this white ball going up between my legs and then the shock. I suddenly got a terrific shock and I really, I know that I went out briefly because when I came to I found myself hanging below the parachute. I was below the parachute and I could see coloured lights slowly going by me like this, anyway, I looked down. I looked around and I was about within a mile or less of the shore and right at the mouth of Sliema where that Macchi 202 had gone in but I was further, I was about three quarters of a mile out to sea. Then the parachute started to swing, as they said they always do, if you’re experienced, you can pull on the shrouds on one side or the other and stop as they say. We never, of course, practiced, only used it the first time, you know, when you had to. I was kind of nervous because you swing so far and people had said that. You think that it’s going to swing to one side and you might go right over and you’ll wind up in your own parachute. And anyway it went down, that kind of stopped a bit and I thought, first of all I thought I hadn’t been coming down just seemed to be suspended there and the last 500 feet or so I didn’t think I had a parachute, I was coming down so fast.

Mr. Smith describes his frightening ejection from his Spitfire and the experience of parachuting for the first time.

Roderick Smith

Roderick Smith was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in March, 1922. He was the second of four children. His father, who had served in the First World War, was a land surveyor. Mr. Smith had been fascinated by propaganda leading up to the Second World War, so he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 following the completion of his Senior Matriculation. After pilot training in Canada, he was selected for overseas flying duty. His first tour of duty was on Malta and Mr. Smith’s impressive list of enemy aircraft destroyed began here. He was also shot down himself while on this tour. After returning to England, he joined 401 Squadron piloting new generation Spitfire 9's. Mr. Smith was in action on D-Day, and later did strafing runs in German held France. Later at Nijmegen, he destroyed several more enemy aircraft, including the shared kill of a prototypical ME-262 jet fighter. Mr. Smith retired with the rank of Flight-Lieutenant, DFC and Bar, with thirteen destroys, 1 shared and ½ possible to his credit.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Roderick Smith
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
401 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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