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Stress, Fatigue and Consequences

Heroes Remember

Stress, Fatigue and Consequences

They talk about stress. We never mentioned stress in those days. We had never heard of stress but now you can realize the number of pilots that went through terrific stress. We had pilots, we had one pilot, he was highly decorated, DFC, DFM and he came out and joined our squadron and every, we had to send 13 planes up every time because he wouldn't most times come back. This other fellow would fill in but, you know, the stress had just knocked everything out of him. He was a famous Battle of Britain pilot and he just couldn't take any more, and there were quite a number of them, you know, coming back for their second or third tour that just couldn't stand the stress of the times. But, thinking back when I finally got up to Sicily and Italy, I was a very tired pilot. I never realized it and they had the attitude too, we'd rather have a well trained pilot than bring in newly trained pilots, so they kept you on as long as they possibly could. In my case there was, I think there was five of us that were OTEE I think they called it, operation tour expired, and they said, “Do you want to keep flying?” And we say, “Sure, we'll keep flying,” and all of a sudden we lost two out of the five.

Mr. Wilson discusses how the continuous stress of combat flying impacted even the most decorated pilots.

Gordon Wilson

Gordon Wilson was born on December 5, 1917 in Limerick, Saskatchewan. The Royal Canadian Air Force was no longer accepting recruits when he enlisted so he joined the Royal Regina Rifles. Six months later, Mr. Wilson joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at Brandon, Manitoba. His first wartime deployment saw him serving in North Africa near El Alamein, where he initially flew Hurricanes in a Royal Air Force squadron. He later piloted Spitfire 9’s in Sicily, Italy and the Middle East. After the war, Mr. Wilson completed a university degree and became a museum curator.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gordon Wilson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Flying Officer

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