Language selection


“. . . as a crew we became a fighting unit.”

Heroes Remember

“. . . as a crew we became a fighting unit.”

I was the only commissioned officer in our group. The rest were all sergeants. We had a problem at first, because I couldn't go into, y'know... the, the, the, the Brits were a little, they're still a little bit class-conscious, and I couldn't go into their mess, the sergeants' mess, and the sergeants couldn't go into the officers' mess. And bonding is necessary. You have to bond with a crew. You have to, you have to work as a, as a unit or else you're, you're going to get shot down, that's all there is to it. You, you, because you support one another. And so what we said, we decided, we, we spoke to the adjutant about it, and he said, "Look," he said, "bombing is escalating, we", he said, "We can't, we can't stop now. We have, you know, make the best of it." So we did, we went to, went to the local pub. And we, we, we operated out of the local pub. We, we drank there, we ate there and we had fun there, and we bonded there. So we had a hell of a good time, and, as a crew, we came, became a fighting unit. We had a real, real, real character for a pilot, you know. He was a real devil. Make our guys... he used to, he used to get into the damn plane, and he'd fly out over the Channel, he get in, the minute he get in the plane he was, he flew over the Channel. And he just, he'd clip the waves, you know, go through the waves. Just for the hell of it, eh, but he... eventually, though, for some reason, and I haven't, can't, haven't figured it out to this day, eventually, after we fixed, finished Hixon, he was taken off our crew. He went in for leave and never came back. Now, whether he was taken on a special job, or whether his family intervened, or what happened, and we don't know and we weren't told. And then the new pilot came in, and he was... there, it, there was a big difference between the old pilot and the new pilot. The new pilot was assigned to us, he was a Scot. He was all business, all business. He was an older type, he was all business and he was gonna take on the crew. And, then, he only had, oh, I guess, about six weeks to go and then he would be on squadron. He didn't say anything about the other pilot, we had to bond with him, so, we, he... but he was commissioned. And he took a liking to me for some reason, I don't know why. And, and the seven of us, it took us about, oh, I’d say about six weeks to bond. But they wouldn’t move us until such time as we did. They wouldn't move us until such time as we did. And once we had bonded, we knew one another and we were able to, to understand one another's job, then they put us on squadron, yeah. That makes a big difference. That makes a big difference. It's like a tank crew or something of that nature, though. If you don't know the other guy's job, you don't know what he's doing, and you don't know what to expect, you don't know what, what, what type of person he is, you can't work with him.

Mr. Pochailo describes the need for crew bonding and some of its difficulties.

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

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: