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Bombing and gunnery school

Heroes Remember

Bombing and gunnery school

The next stop was off to Fingal, that's a little village just south of Saint-Thomas, in Ontario. And that was where we learned actual bombing and gunnery. That was interesting, and we flew, we did cross-countries and bombing with cute little practice bombs, which give a big white puff in the daytime and a nice flash at night. There was... and then of course we did the gunnery, and that was somewhat interesting too, because the, the planes we used, well we didn't have unlimited planes, so we used one, a British plane called a Bolingbroke. And three of us, three potential gunners, went up in the same flight. And one guy would have red, another one white, another one green, painted bullets. This was .303, and you would fire at the drogue which was a target that was being pulled by another aircraft fairly close to you. And then when you came back for, for counting, then you, they knew who hit and who didn't, and how many times, because the paint was still there on the target as the bullets penetrated it. Well that was kinda cute. That was the, that was the gunnery part of it. You were, well, you were perhaps half-trained as a gunner when you finished that course. And the, the bombing was also both day and night by using the different flash or smoke bombs. And then you had two, two guys on the ground assessing your positions, you see. And then of course when you went back for assessment, you either got bad marks or good marks and were encouraged to go on or go away. So that was at, that was at Fingal. And then later on the same year we went to Crumlin, which is a village next door to London, Ontario, which was a navigation school. And there we earned both the office, ground, and actual navigating in Anson aircraft.

Mr. West talks of his time in Fingal, Ontario, while he attended a bombing and gunnery training centre.

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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