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Night time take off for bombing operations

Heroes Remember

Night time take off for bombing operations

We used to go out and watch the take off at night. Oh, it was 8:30 take off or 8 o'clock, or whatever time. And you'd go out to the end of the, the runway where the green guy with a green light was there, there wasn't any radio control telling them when to take off, it was somebody with an Aldous lamp giving them the green light to take off. And it was quite a thing to see. Let's say ten or fifteen airplanes, there were forty or sixty engines running all at the same time. They'd all start up and they'd taxi up. They were given a time, maybe there was a minute or, or five minute delay or something to come up. Eventually there would just be a line of airplanes with these big four engine Merlins roaring. And it was a real din, just on pre take off, the start up, the run ups, every engine was run up to full power to check, to make sure it was okay by the pilot. And then they'd taxi out and they'd taxi on to the end of the button, as we called "on the button". The green light would go and away they'd go. And you'd sort of wave to the guys that you knew, well we waved to them all. But that was one thing you'd see them take off. And say well, I wonder, is it gonna be, is he gonna come back or not. And there were always the few that didn't, and I have copies of the operation sheets, that show the different crews and the different positions they held in each crew and what aircraft they were assigned. And then on the sheet we'd circle the ones that didn't come back. It was kind of exciting and yet a trying time for the ground crew, to welcome these people back, the first thing they'd want to know was how it went, what the target was, and the aircrew were, you know, were only too weak or, to tell them what happened. The next thing there would be a briefing, debriefing, where we'd have technical people, that would take a record of all the flight engineer's reports, of engine malfunction or whatever. They had to be repaired for the next day. But the association, the ground crew, was ready and nice welcome home to, to have these people come back. But we'd have to start all over again, at 7 o'clock in the morning or eight, and start grinding it out and getting the airplanes ready to go again.

Mr. Snell reflects on the take off at night for bombing missions, and what the ground crew had to do if flight crews did not come back from these missions.

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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