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Transportation on the airbase

Heroes Remember

Transportation on the airbase

Well, there were few vehicles, there were vehicles to transport equipment and occasionally pick up crews. But the people, generally, were all issued with a bike. It was a single speed, pretty basic bicycle. But everybody on the base, including the aircrew, had bikes to transport. The living quarters, and the eating quarters, and the headquarters, were dispersed on most bases, the newer ones, so that they couldn't be all wiped out with a set of bombs. The living quarters, Nissen huts had to be over here, the mess hall, would be in another location, the work site would be another location. But the airdromes, the majority of them, in fact all of them, were, had a perimeter around, a taxi perimeter, where airplanes taxied. But there were dispersal points went off, just a big pad was what it was, that they parked the airplanes and they were dispersed all the way around this airplane, airport I should say. For the ground crew, like my staff that worked out of the instrument repair shop had to go back and forth to get spares and go out, and back and forth two or three times. The only way they could get out there was with a bike. And so they rode a bike out and maybe on any given day, they would ride twenty or thirty miles, by the time they were back and forth, maybe to the different aircraft dispersed around. By the time they rode from their sleeping quarters to the mess hall, to the work site, and back again. And then at night, if they weren't on duty, perhaps it was a five mile trip or a ten mile trip out to some pub, and the bike rides coming back were sometimes a bit dicey, but there was another ten or fifteen miles at night. And I estimate I rode between ten and fifteen thousand miles in the years I was over there. Maybe a bit generous, but on any given day it wouldn't be hard to add up twenty-five, thirty miles a day, just going back and forth on dispersal. Get up in the morning, go to work, go back to the mess hall for dinner, back to the site, back again, back out for take off at night. Which brings me up another point that I'll come to in a minute. But just the fact that we were continuing on our bikes, it didn't take long to add up a lot of miles. It was quite a common thing too, you'd want to bike into a pub someplace from the adjoining village or wherever, you had to make darn sure it was locked because somebody'd come out that didn't have a bike and it'd be gone. Not that the people were thieves, that just they needed the transportation to get back and forth.

Mr.Snell talks about how the air crew used bicycles for transportation around the base.

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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