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“ . . . at the end of 30 days you’re a man.”

Heroes Remember

“ . . . at the end of 30 days you’re a man.”

Basic training is, is, is rough. Actually we, the basic training that we had was in Edmonton, at No. 1 Manning Depot. And we had a corporal there, his name was Koszyk. And what they do is, you become a non-entity. They just drill you into, right into the ground and, and they take a person, and they turn that person into a nothing and then begin to mould him. And then at the end of training, you're a soldier. You can take an order, you can give an order and, but during that 30 day period all you do is run. You're running all the time. You're doing things on the double. Your shoes have to be shined, your buttons have to be shined, you have to be there early in the morning, you have to be. The calisthenics, calistetics, for example, aren't part of the curriculum, the RCF curriculum, but you have to be there. Half an hour, you have to take exercises. And then you rush in for breakfast, and it's not served, you help yourself to breakfast, go to the table, and then you have to be in a certain place at a certain time. So it's, it's motion all the time, all the time, all the time for 30 days. But the end of the 30 days, you're a man. Initial Training School was a kind of a, you're in a university-type atmosphere where you learned all the mechanics of the trade that you're going into. You don't know what you're going into until the end of ITS. And at the end of ITS, depending on aptitude and how you stand in the class and so on, they determine whether you're a bomb aimer, at that time it was only observers. It was, you were either an observer or a pilot. One or the other. And the Link trainer was a big, big thing in determining whether you were a pilot or a, one of the other trades. And the reason for that was because it was based on aptitude. A Link trainer, if you were, if you qualified as a, a pilot, then you had to be very, very good on a Link trainer. It's just a small aircraft, you get inside, it's all closed up, and it’s got all the instruments of an aircraft in it, and you fly it. You fly the airplane, you've got the altimeter, and you know how high you are, how low you are, you're banking, you're turning. So you go through all those manoeuvres on a daily basis and if you are, if you have a hell of a lot of dexterity, you're good at it, you're apt to be a pilot. Everybody wanted to be a pilot. Everybody wanted to be a pilot. I wanted to be a pilot badly, but I wasn't. I was an observer. We decided at the end of ITS, Initial Training School, that I'd be a bomb aimer, that I'd be an observer, but eventually a bomb aimer. So, then we went to Dafoe, Saskatchewan, where we trained for bombing and gunnery. And everyday we went up in the middle of winter, we went up, and Lysander aircraft towed the drogues. And we got into an airplane to, usually Blenheims, Blenheims and Bolingbroke, and we used to fire at the drogue. So we went into that training, and we also went into bomb aiming to see whether there was a target on the ground and we'd try to, to hit that target all the time. So we, we had, we finished at Dafoe, well, that was six weeks, I guess, and then we went to navigation school in Rivers. And we were another six weeks in Rivers, doing navigations, all types of navigation. And at the end of that period, it was graduation. We went home for a period of time and then came back out to graduated.

Mr. Pochailo discusses basic training and the steps required to become a bomb aimer

Philip Pochailo

Philip Pochailo was born in Rainy River, Ontario, on November 19, 1920. After finishing his education, he worked several years in lumber camps, and finally enlisted in the RCAF in 1942. He went overseas in 1943. After advanced training as a bomb aimer in Great Britain, he was assigned to a British crew in No.1 Bomber Command in April 1944. His aircraft was shot down over the Netherlands and only he and the aircraft's pilot survived. Mr. Pochailo evaded capture and joined the Dutch Resistance Movement where he lived and worked for the next 12 months. He was liberated by Canadian troops in Rotterdam in 1945. Mr. Pochailo returned to Canada after the war and now resides in Ottawa, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Philip Pochailo
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
#1 Bomber Command
AC2 / Flying Officer
Bomb Aimer

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