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Bombing alone

Heroes Remember

Our radios were good, but they're not as nearly as good as they are now. And there was a lot of, there was a lot of static, and it was bothering our skipper so badly that he ordered our wireless operator to turn it off, which he did. And we went on, no trouble. It was cloud, ten-tenths, and we were in cloud. You don't often get cloud that high. And we were going to a town by the name of Wurms. That's a very old German and a very famous city. And we went, and there was no other aircraft around. And we arrived and we bombed precisely on no markers. We bombed on H2-SNG and then came home to find that we were alone. He

Picture of bomber crew studying map of target.

turned off the radio because it was bothering him and missed the recall, that's interesting. I guess I can say that now, they're all gone, but I have it marked in the log - "bombed alone." Interview: Do you recall why they were recalled? Oh yes, yeah, and often times they were. If the weather proved bad at your target. Sometimes you had an alternate target, and sometimes you didn't. And we didn't. And a recall was very serious because here you were loaded with a whole belly full of bombs, and that wasn't very healthy to land at your home base with them. And, so, often times, they were directed to dump them in the ocean, the North Sea, and then proceed home. Now this, of course, was a great waste of time and money and bombs. But that was one occasion where we did our duty alone.

Technology has advanced over the years, but during the Second World War sometimes it was more a distraction. Mr. West recalls during one bombing run that his pilot, annoyed by the static on the airwaves, ordered that the radios be turned off, subsequently missing the order to turn back to base. Mr. West's plane was the only one who made the target and dropped their bombs.

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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