Return to Duty

Heroes Remember

We had to get photographed for a new identity card and get our records straightened out, and there I found that after six months from becoming a sergeant, I became a flight sergeant, which I didn't know about and then six months after that I became a warrant officer, second class which I didn't know about, and now I was a warrant officer, first class. First of all I had a fair amount of back pay coming to me, which they wouldn't give me all at once, of course. They almost had to go in everyday to get a few pounds, they were so afraid we'd go spend it foolishly. So another fella and I took a room in the Regent Palace Hotel, which we paid I think 10 shillings each a night for it. That was our home for a month, so we joined a couple of bottle clubs, we went to some movies and we spent, we had a Christmas dinner with a family, I forget now who that was, got some uniforms. Then after about a month we were sent to a place near Liverpool waiting on a ship home. And there we were interviewed, or I was at least, by a board, and I was told I was going to get a commission, which eventually came through after I got back to Canada. Interviewer: Why did they send you back to Canada, Mr. Spear, as opposed to putting you back on active service? Well, first of all it was supposed to be I guess, a month's rest, although I had been resting for about a year I figured, but anyway. After I got home, I was told that I wasn't going to go back over seas, something about, if you happened to be taken prisoner again, that you could be shot as a spy. And one of my friends got out of prison camp when I did, and he didn't come back home for some how or other he got, he was an officer, and he had some connections with the RCAF headquarters in London, and he got himself a job there, and then eventually he got back flying again and he flew over Europe, over France, under a different name and number and he was shot down a second time and he escaped a second time through, this time, through staying. So they must have thought there was something to this threat because he was, he flew under a different name, anyway. So that's why, maybe that's not why I was sent home, that's why I stayed home once I got there.

Mr. Spear recalls returning to duty after escaping the Sulmona, Italy POW camp. He explains the reason he was not returned to active duty.

Allen Maxwell Spear

Mr. Spear lived in Sussex, New Brunswick, before attending Business College in Saint John - he worked in Bathurst, New Brunswick, for a number of years before joining up. Mr. Spear had not enjoyed his Army camp experience in high school and was attracted to joining the Air Force, particularly as a fighter pilot, because of the recognition the Air Force was receiving in the Battle of Britain. He joined as soon as the Air Force lowered the education requirements to high school which allowed him to qualify. After much basic and initial flight training, Mr. Spear was excited to begin Spitfire training in England in fall 1941. In early 1942, he was stationed to North Africa. The camp locations changed often as the RAF and German Air Forces leapfrogged back and forth across the desert. A few months later (July 1, 1942), his engine gave out during a mission. He landed his plane behind German lines, was captured as a POW, and was shipped to Sulmona, Italy for internment. In September 1943, when the Italians capitulated, the POWs at the Sulmona camp escaped. Mr. Spear, along with two other Canadian POWs managed to escape by travelling along the mountains, avoiding the valleys where they were more likely to run into Germans, until they met up with other Canadian troops in November 1943. After being shipped back to England, Mr. Spear was returned to Canada to serve as a Staff Pilot at a Bombing and Gunnery School in Mountainview, Ontario. A post he held until the end of the War, at which time he was discharged.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Allen Maxwell Spear
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Warrant Officer
Spitfire Pilot

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