A Spry Crew

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: Could you tell us about your first operational mission? How about my first training mission? Interviewer: Okay. Not my first one, but my most exciting one, was at night. And we had this great big, long-legged …and I was new to the crew. And I had done a couple of runs and things with them, and we didn't have to do much navigating. But in this case, we did. We were all alone, and went away one way, and another way. And it was dark, and you couldn't see the ground. I said to the pilots, “What are we over? Land or water?” They didn't know where they were. So we turned on ETA twice. And coming home…Charlie, he was an American and he … but he was in the Canadian RCAF. And he was a great talker. And he kept yakking at me, “Give me a course home.” Of course I couldn't do any work with him yakking at me, so I pulled the intercom out, took a few star shots. and prayed a lot. Give him a course for home, an ETA, and looked down. There was the airport. So, I was in. So I was accepted then. Interviewer: So what happened on your first operational mission? We bombed Rangoon, and my job was to watch and see if the bombs were dropping. If they didn't drop, they didn't know whether the thing was working right. I was to pull the jettison lever. So, they get over the target, and a few seconds is a long time over the target, especially on your first run. I'm not sure yet. I think I pulled the lever too quickly. I think I pulled it before I should've. Well anyway, we dropped the bombs through the bomb doors and the bomb doors … we came home with the bomb doors flapping in the wind. And all the rest of the squadron had a good laugh at us. We thought we were a spry crew, dropping our bombs through the bomb door windows, and it was probably my fault. Interviewer: The bomb doors weren't open? No! Interviewer: Good thing they didn't go off. It was a good thing.

Mr. Campbell talks about his first training and operational missions and a time he gave the squadron a good laugh.

David Robert Campbell

David Robert Campbell was born on May 16, 1916. Mr. Campbell grew up on the family farm with his brother and sister in Elgin County, Ontario. He attended a one-room schoolhouse, then went to Western University on a scholarship, studying math and physics, later becoming a high school math teacher. Mr. Campbell joined the Royal Air Force as a navigational instructor in 1940. He taught navigation to many students and flew numerous operational missions as a navigator. Though he was never wounded, Mr. Campbell saw many of his colleagues fall. After the war Mr. Campbell returned to teaching math.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
David Robert Campbell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
356 Squadron

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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