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Learning of a new aircraft, the Wellington bomber

Heroes Remember

Learning of a new aircraft, the Wellington bomber

When you made a bad landing with most aircrafts, particularly light ones, then you, you, you gunned your engine, and you went around again. Hence the term "circuits and bumps." Well, everybody was used to this. So, we made a rather rough landing. And, and as we bounced up on the first bump, then he decided to go around again. Well, you didn't do that with the Wellington, which he didn't realize, and I don't know why, he should have been. But it just ain't done because you don't have the power. So, we went along the runway, the full length of the runway, with one wing down about 10 feet, and finally got over the fence and the trees with very, very small amount of clearance. And, of course, this was all very painful. And when we made a good landing, the next trip, then the station commander was there at the end of the runway, beating on the door to get in. And he was very unhappy. And he left a very unhappy pilot. So, that was the cute little things but, of course, it was very near a crash, and usually those crashes are pretty nasty because they burn. So, that was our first little trip on the Wimpy. That's the nickname for Wellington.

After Mr. West gets settled in England and his new air force base near Stratford on Avon, he and the flight crew have to adapt their previous training to that on a new aircraft, the Wellington bomber. Mr. West tells how his pilot's inexperience with the Wellington almost caused them to crash.

James West

Mr. West was born in June 1924, in the town of Hopewell, New Brunswick. He is he youngest of three children, one brother and one sister. Mr. West grew up on the family farm and attended school completing grade 11. In June 1942, he decided to leave school and enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Mr. West took his basic training in Lachine, Quebec. After basic training he spent the winter in Mont Joli, Quebec, where they had a bombing and gunnery school. Mr. West got his first taste of flying near Trois Rivieres, getting 8-12 hours of instruction before getting a chance to solo in a Tiger Moth, and a Finch Fleet. Unfortunately Mr. West washed out of flying school and was transferred back to Lachine, Quebec, for the purpose of being retrained as a bomb aimer. He then was transferred to Fingal, Ontario, to take up training as a bomber/gunner.

Mr. West left Canada for England, via Halifax, on board the vessel the Empress of Scotland, taking nearly six days to cross the Atlantic, arriving in Bournemouth, England. Not long after he was transfered near Stratford on Avon where he underwent updated training to the Wellington aircraft.

Mr. West completed his training and was assigned to serve with the 420 Squadron in the Yorkshire Valley. From December 1944 until May 1945 Mr. West took part in 31 missions. He completed his tour of service just before the end of the war in Europe. He signed up to serve in Japan but the war there ended while he was on route back in Canada.

After the war Mr. West married his girlfriend within a year of his discharge from the Air Force and attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. After graduation he got work in Scarborough, Ontario, with an Engineering firm as a technician and designer. Later he was able to transfer to Moncton where he retired next door to the farm that he grew up on.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James West
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
420 Squadron
Bomb Aimer/ Assistant Navigator
Bomb aimer/ Assistant Navigator

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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