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I Lost My Egg!

Heroes Remember

When they assigned us a target of Schweinfurt, they were intensely interested in hitting the ball bearing factories. They considered that a high priority. So, in fact, this particular night that I was shot down, we were assaulted with a, a lot of activity on the part of the Luftwaffe. They knew where we were coming because we had... the position of the target was so far into Germany that they were able to take their fighters down to that area and be all ready for us. And what happened actually was that we were over target, we had just dropped our bomb, our bombs, and a Messerschmitt was in their own anti-aircraft fire, and he came up from underneath us, which was the blind spot on the Lancasters, and the first attack was severe enough that I was sitting in my position and I could see the petrol gauges or gas gauges just unwinding. So, I knew that we had no way of getting back to England, so I immediately gave my pilot a course for Switzerland hoping that we might stagger a little closer and maybe even get across the border into Switzerland. However, the fighter either stayed with us or they, they radared another one onto us, and on the second attack we were in bad trouble, going down, and so the pilot ordered "bail out". I got up to the front of the aircraft, and thinking that I might be possibly the third man out of the aircraft, I discovered that my flight engineer was crouched over the hatchway where we would bail out in the nose of the aircraft, and he didn't seem to be doing anything. So I sort of peeked around to see if he had his parachute on and realized that he was frozen. And once I realized that he had his parachute on, I gave him a nudge with my toe and out he went, and then I followed, thinking to myself, I'll hang on to the ripcord because it was a metal ring. That's about the only weapon I have on me, and in the process, I realized that the winds were much higher than we had calculated or that Met had given us And, so, almost immediately, my parachute started oscillating very badly and at one point I looked down and my canopy was below me, and I thought, "I'm going to go through the canopy." So, I started to pull on the ropes to try and stop the oscillation, at which point I lost my egg. Now, this is a very crucial part of my story because in Operations England, when you were flying on operations, you were allotted one egg. You could have the option. You could either have it before you flew or when you came home. So, almost everybody said, "No, I'll, I'll take my egg with me now." And I lost mine, so that was a bit of trauma in bailing out. Anyway, I coasted down but the winds were so high that the whole bunch of us, if we got out... I didn't know who had got out, but we were so scattered that we never made contact on the ground, and I didn't know until a whole year later what had happened to the rest of the crew. All I knew was that we had a mid upper gunner who was dead on the first attack from the cannon fire. So, I got on the ground and then realized that I had lost a flying boot on the way down, so I was a bit not much good at walking. But I tore a portion of the parachute up and made it into a boot and buried the rest of it thinking that, that would get rid of the evidence and then started to take down the insignia on my battledress, so that I would perhaps look like a Luftwaffe instead of a RCAF character and set off. And we were well equipped with escape kits, as we called them, which contained a, a fair bit of money, I think, in the range of about 200 dollars of currency, in case we got into a situation with the underground and were able to pay our way, so to speak. The other thing was that we had some condensed food, in toothpaste tubes essentially, and also some pep pills to keep us awake and keep going. So I set off and hiked and hiked and I was on the loose for two or three days before I finally took refuge in a barn, woke up to find two Volkswurm, Volkssturm, which is the equivalent of the Home Guard, with fixed bayonets at, pointed at my neck and they apparently... A farmer had come out and must have seen a foot or an arm sticking out through the hay. And they eventually turned me over to the, the local police, and they in turn handed me over to the Luftwaffe, who were responsible for all of the air force prisoners. And I was shipped off to Frankfurt on Main where there was a Dulag Luft, a sort of reception camp, and spent about a week there. I didn't hear anything about the rest of my crew at all, but then they sent, I think there were five or six of us with three guards, and we didn't know where we were heading or where we were going to end up, but we eventually we ended up at Stalag Luft 3.

Mr. McKiel describes his bomber being attacked, parachuting to temporary safety, and then being captured.

George McKiel

Mr. McKiel was born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, on May 15, 1924. His mother was a war bride, and his family moved to Devon, England, when he was quite young. Mr. McKiel joined 405 Squadron, Bomber Command in 1943, and was shot down and captured shortly thereafter. He spent 2 years in a Polish prisoner of war (POW) Camp, Stalag Luft 3, where he helped 76 officers escape in the Great Escape. After his liberation, Mr. McKiel returned to Canada and eventually earned a PhD in Cancer Research. These credentials have allowed him to consult on Nursing issues as far away as Australia. Having recently returned to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Mr. McKiel is already involved with seniors' health programs in his community.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George McKiel
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
405 Squadron
Flying Officer
Air Bomber

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