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Reflections - Past and Present

Heroes Remember

Reflections - Past and Present

Marching down the main street here which I still do, I think o the memory at the time when our first regiments left for overseas. This would be in 1940, I was still, I wasn't in the air force yet, and I worked downtown. And I remember looking out there and seeing those young kids. And the leaders were two high school teachers, Colonel Coleman and Colonel Cole, at that time they were captains. And these young kids before that had been in high school and out at work and that, and all of a sudden, they were marching down there and their on there way over to the train. And they looked so proud and so great and I remember that and I remember when they came back home. The same regiments marched up the street but they weren't the same people. Many of them were missing in Dieppe. Sarnia lost 70 at Dieppe and other battles. And we lost a lot of fine people. That was my remembrance of things like that. And I remember leaving from Halifax, we, we had to march down to the train. And I remember marching on to the wide up, when the band was playing. And all the airmen were lined up (inaudible) going, waving and cheering. And I remember one old lady, under a lamp light by herself and she was crying and waving a handkerchief. And I thought she had a son somewhere. And I remember that distinctly. And then marching down to the station like we didn't, we sailed from New York. So those are things, I do remember. And I remember, every Armistice Day, my wife and I, we speak at a lot of the schools. And my wife talks about World War I, which her dad was in. And we get the loveliest letters back from these kids. Like I've spoke at Rotarian meetings and things like that, they are all wanting to get back...when is that old guy going to shut up. But these kids, they ask the most wonderful questions. And the letters they write to you, they're priceless. So, we enjoy that very much. And my wife goes with me. And we are treated with great respect. Much more than we deserve sometimes. Interviewer: It's important to do. It is. And another thing that the people don't necessarily think about, the credit should go to the teachers for the way they prepare these things. It's amazing they'll have cenotaphs in there and they'll have poppy things and without the teachers it wouldn't happen. And the last I went down in front, here's four little kids that go out frolicking out in front of the place. As we get up, they are at full attention and I said, "Good heavens, they are giving a guard of honour here." And the last time I And these little kids were out there all standing at attention as walk up and I thought that the teachers had to tell them that. So I saluted them and they were so proud about that. But yeah, I've got great faith in the youth of our country. They would do everything we had to do, they would do. There were 90 of us put in these hanger, 15 crews, 6 man crews at that time, before we got an engineer. Of that 90 boys ours was the only crew that finished. Those others 84 lads were all lost. And none of them crashed, they were all on operations all were shot down or killed like that. So, the risks were great but I'd do it again in a minute for the same reason. Not for the love of flying but to protect our country.

Mr. James reflects on community events and past service.

Lyle James

Mr. James was born February 27, 1917. He grew up in Sarnia, a small Ontario town whose economy depended on Imperial Oil and the Canadian National railroad. Being politically aware, Mr. James considered Hitler to be a global threat; he enlisted with the hope of keeping World War Two from spreading to Canada. After receiving his wings, Mr. James sailed to England where he joined 101 Squadron, Bomber Command in 1943. Mr. James became the pilot of a Lancaster bomber after training in a Wellington. He piloted 32 missions during the second Battle of the Ruhr. Today, Mr. James is a frequent guest speaker at service clubs and schools, where he shares his reflections on the Second World War.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Lyle James
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
101 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant

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