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The loss of two engines

Heroes Remember

The loss of two engines

Daytime, we always got holes from flak. And this particular day, one of the, one of the oil lines was shot away that fed No. 3 engine. And so, consequently, the, you would normally feather the blades, so they wouldn't windmill. You'll have to follow me on that. Anyway, the feathering line was shot away, and we couldn't feather. So we sat there and it windmilled. You had three other motors pulling you along properly. And there was no oil in the engine, so, consequently, it caught fire, and it burned and it burned. And we used what extinguishers we had, which weren't elaborate, and it, eventually, it went out, because everything that was nearby had burned. But this causes severe vibrations because there was no lubrication in the propeller and, and the, and the controls, the reduction gears. So, in due course, it became very severe vibrations, and so, so severe that the throttle wouldn't hold their position even when locked. And, of course, by this time, the crew was all ready to leave and, but the skipper kept putting it off until the engine finally tore itself out of the wing and, and doing so, it hit No. 4 and destroyed that propeller. So, then we were, actually things were much better after that, and as soon as we found a place to land. We were, fortunately, just nicely over land coming across the North Sea. And, so, he chose the first airport that he saw and landed without permission. We didn't have time for trifles like that. And the runway was clear. And he made a very, a very good landing, but the poor old aircraft was badly beat up. And it was never repaired because it was getting late in the war and there was a good supply of new ones. In fact, the very next day, we had a nice new one. So, that was the, that was the good and the bad.

Mr. West tells us how the plane he was travelling on lost two engines while taking enemy anti-aircraft flak. The pilot had prepared the crew to parachute from the plane but he managed to keep the aircraft in the air long enough to make a unannounced emergency landing back in Britain.

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
Western Europe
Air Force
420 Squadron
Bomb Aimer/ Assistant Navigator
Bomb aimer/ Assistant Navigator

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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