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A Long Way from the Skies

Heroes Remember

A Long Way from the Skies

Actually had a job at the airport in North Battleford, they were building the runways. And I was supervising the amount of gravel they were putting down, counting the trucks and making note of it. Big job. Anyway, until I got called up. They send you a meal ticket and whatever to get down to Brandon, overnight on the train. Went to Brandon manning pool, and here is a great number of people, hundreds of guys just like me coming in. Everybody got a haircut and everybody got kitted, from the boots up. And you had a bunk, a nice clean bunk and blankets and they had a routine, getting up at whatever time, 6 o’clock or whatever ungodly hour. They used to blow the bugle to wake you up. Not that I didn’t like it, but I would wake up a few seconds before that bugles first notes just so that I would be aware of what is happening. I didn’t want to be waken by it, its how you set your clock you see. But it was great fun met lots of people and made lots of friends. I found out very quickly that if you did what you were told you got along very well. As soon as you disobeyed somebody you were in trouble. We did our best. They taught us how to march, how to look smart, and it had to be the same, it had to be up to a standard which was great. You wouldn’t have one good and one bad sort of thing. And everyone would pitch in. The sooner you got down to it, the sooner you accomplished what you were after. In the background you were always thinking about flying, but this was a long way from flying.

Several months after enlisting, Mr. Edwards was finally called to duty. He quickly realized that he had to bide his time through training like everyone else, before he even got close to a plane.

James Francis Edwards

Mr. Edwards was born on a farm near Lockwood, Saskatchewan on June 5th 1921. His father, a First World War Veteran, kept horses until the depression forced him to move the family to Battleford where he became an insurance salesman. His mother had been a nurse during the First World War. In June 1940, Mr. Edwards enlisted in the Air Force. He was sent to the Brandon, Manitoba to do his Initial Training, then to Edmonton, Alberta for Flying School. After completing Flying School, Mr. Edwards was sent to overseas. He was assigned to 55 Operational Training Unit in Osworth, England where he flew Hurricanes. From there he was posted to Africa to take part in the Desert Campaign. Among many battles and operations, he took part in the El Alamein Battle (Egypt) and the Tunisian Campaign. In Egypt, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. After a period in Cairo running a gunnery school, he was called back to combat in Italy. There he fought in the Battle of Ortona and Anzio and he was given his own squadron, the RAF 274. He was shot down on his first flight as squadron commander. Surviving, he and his crew were sent back to England to take part in D-Day. He would also fight in Holland and Germany. In total, Mr. Edwards served two tours of duty, flying over 360 missions. He had more than 19 confirmed kills. After the war was over he returned to Canada and continued service with the air force retiring as a wing commander.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James Francis Edwards
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force

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