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Dangers of Bombing Operations

Heroes Remember

Dangers of Bombing Operations

But just to put it in figures, we lost 157 airplanes in about three and a half years of operation. And that was 900 and some odd air crew. Now some of them were taken POW, some of them were, died or crashed or, you know with the airplane, but that's, that's just one squadron. We had 157 airplanes over, lets say four years, that's forty airplanes a year. You know, it started adding up, almost three or four a month. On a given, any given raid you never knew what was going to happen, we would see the airplanes take off naturally. We knew what the target, we didn't know what the target was when they left always, but we had a good sense by the fuel that was prescribed and the bomb load, the heavier the bomb load and the less fuel, the shorter the flight. So we knew it was probably a coastal command, Hamburg or some place like that. If it was a heavy fuel load, we knew that there was going to be Berlin, or well down into the Ruhr Valley, or someplace. So we had a good feel as to where it would be, and depending upon the target, it had quite an effect on our losses, like the people that went to Berlin. Berlin was a rough ride, you went three, six hours there and back and you were, the pilots or the crew were in difficulty, or were in danger, from about the first forty five minutes out. All because they had night fighters, they had flak, they had all this stuff to, to contend with, and those long flights. They used different procedures, too. We sent diversionary forces out in flight. They'd take off and there'd be one squadron or two squadrons or whatever assigned to go to one target, and then the both of them going to another one, and the Germans immediately would say, "Oh, they're going after Cologne tonight." And scramble their fighters to Cologne, and hopefully they'd forget about the rest that went on to, to bomb the other target. But again it was a continual battle between wits in that sense, that the Germans were always trying to figure out what we were doing and our guys were, people had ways of trying to disrupt whatever they were doing.

Mr. Snell talks about the 157 airplanes and 900 air crew lost in three years, and the danger of the bombing operations over Berlin.

John “Jock” Snell

John Snell was born in Calgary, in April 1920. He was the middle child of three, having an older sister and a younger brother. Mr. Snell's family lived through the depression where they survived on $85.00 a month, which had to support their family of five. After struggling as a farmer Snell's father took a job as a milkman. Mr. Snell remembers helping his father on the milk route on Saturday's so his father could join his friends in a game of cricket. Mr. Snell dropped out of school only months before finishing and pursued a career as a radio repair technician, which little to his knowledge would pave the way for his career as an instrument mechanic in the air force. He quickly rose through the ranks of the air force and at the age of twenty he became a commanding officer in charge of over thirty five men. Mr. Snell retired from the air force in December 1969, with just over 30 years of service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John “Jock” Snell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Flight Sergeant
Instrument Mechanic

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