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Bombs Away

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: As the war wound down, there were fewer targets for the strategic bombers. What do you remember about the weeks leading up to the end of the war? Well, after D-Day, we began to operate twice a day from the heavy bomber squadrons, which really put an awful load on everybody. They would go out in the daytime, and when they came back, all the aircraft that were still serviceable or could be made serviceable, then they had to be bombed up and ammoed up. But I remember once the... Most of the bombs used to be brought in by truck and, of course, they were using so many bombs, they couldn't keep up with it. So, they brought them in by rail, and this was a little railway station near the camp. And, so, they rounded up a bunch of us to go and unload these bombs. And the, the truck body was higher than the rail car, so you had a ramp. And here we were with pieces of rope. There was a ring in the nose of the bomb, so they put a piece of rope through it, and we'd pull these two thousand pounders up the ramp, into the truck. And I guess we weren't too happy about it. On the way through the village, one of the bombs fell off the truck into the middle of the road, and it was left there. And when we got back to the base, we would go to each individual aircraft, and we would just kick the bombs off, and one would hit the other and, you know, most bombs were safe. They weren't all safe, but we just kicked them off and one would fall on top of another and, and you'd hear ‘em clanging together. But none of them blew up, so I guess we were alright. During the early part of the war, if the, with the danger of enemy attack on the Bomber Command bases, if the aircraft were loaded with bombs and ammunition, and then the operation was cancelled, then they had to go around, take all the bombs off. But when the threat of enemy attack became less, they just left them on. And one night, about two in the morning, a delayed-action bomb on one of the Lancasters was defective. And then we heard this huge roar. And it... That plane literally disappeared. They found one of the main wheel, wheels in the are-, in the village about a half a mile away. There were two other Lancasters so badly damaged, they had to be written off. And there was a sta-, another station called Waterbeach where there were actually eight ground crew members killed in a Lancaster when a delayed-action bomb went off.

Mr. James recalls being frustrated with lugging bombs across town and describes how they began to handle them roughly. He then goes on to describe two instances of faulty bombs exploding while being loaded in grounded Lancasters.

Albert James

Mr. Albert James was born in London, Ontario, on April 3, 1919. He attended school there until grade 13, before beginning work with D.H. Hauden and Co. - including years spent in the war, he stayed with the company for over 43 years. In 1940, Mr. James joined the London Militia, and on April 28, 1941, was called to report to the RCAF. After 4 weeks basic training in Toronto, a 14 week radio course at University of Toronto, and 5 weeks training at a RAF radio school in Clinton, he was posted overseas as a radar mechanic. He would eventually land in Gourock, Scotland, on November 23, 1941. From there Mr. James spent a short time in Yatesbury before being posted to #3 group, 115 Squadron with RAF Bomber Command. There he installed, tested, and maintained G radar - a new technology, introduced to aid in navigation, that would revolutionize bombing. In the fall of 1942, Mr. James was selected for project Mandrell and was sent to London to help assemble, and learn to maintain, new radar jamming units. He and other mechanics returned to RAF #3 Group to service the new units for squadrons in the area. Eventually he was promoted to corporal, and put in charge of one of the servicing units. In July 1943, Mr. James was promoted to Senior NCO in charge of the radar section for #75 New Zealand Squadron - RAF Bomber Command. He would remain as an administrator for the remainder of the war, returning to Canada on August 25, 1945. He received his discharge in October, and immediately returned to work.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Albert James
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
RAF Bomber Command
Radar Mechanic

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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