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Flying on Empty

Heroes Remember

Most fantastic sight I've ever seen. And we're at five hundred feet, we had to be because of the height of the cloud, doing our recce, and out to sea was a great band of black smoke and blinking lights in the black smoke, and of course those were the battleships firing at exactly where we were. And we never even, I never even thought about it, but the targets were right underneath us, and we were, in effect, flying through a hale of huge shells. But it never... I was too dumb, it didn't occur to me. But we went back and forth up and down the beach. We watched the landing craft, the first landing craft come in, the Queens Own, and all the Canadians come into their beach as we went back and forth. Absolutely staggering sight, so Jack Taylor, who became a chiropractor in Brockville, he's gone, Alzheimer got him. Handsome guy, just fantastic man. He was my leader, the two of us. And he... when you're flying number two, use a lot more petrol, gas because you have to keep up with the leader, so you use more fuel. So finally, I'm mesmerised by what I'm seeing and finally I look at my fuel gauges, the arrow is pointing at zero. So I shout at Jack Taylor, "I've got to get back. I'm... it says zero." So off we went back toward England, and I pulled the throttle back and leaned back the fuel mixture as far as I could. Got up to maybe 1500, 2000 feet and off we started. I was prepared to bail out anytime, quite, without any problem because the ocean, the channel is loaded with ships. You do not ditch a Mustang. Because if you hit the water, the Mustang has a great scoop underneath, and it's so beautifully streamlined, if you try to ditch, as soon as you hit the water the scoop would take you straight down, and you'd go to the bottom of where you are and you're done. There's no way that you can, that you can land this airplane on the water and get away from it.

Mr. Rohmer recalls a time when he had been flying longer than he'd anticipated, and found his gas gauge on empty. He was trying to make it back across the channel.

Richard Heath Rohmer

Major General Rohmer was born in Hamilton, Ontario on January 24, 1924. He enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force on his eighteenth birthday. He had received some training in Canada before being shipped overseas to Bournemouth for further training on both Spitfires and Mustangs. He chose to fly a Mustang and was finally able to get into operations in the Fall of 1944.

General Rohmer provided reconnaissance for D-Day, the Falaise Gap and the Liberation of the Netherlands.

After the war, General Rohmer instructed Spitfire pilots on how to attack in the air at Gunnery Instructor School and later went back to college in Ontario, Canada. After graduating from college he went on to practice law. General Rohmer has received several awards throughout his illustrious career including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Canada Defence Medal and is an Officer of the Order of Canada just to name a few. General Rohmer is also a best selling author.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Richard Heath Rohmer
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
403 Squadron

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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