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Air Combat

Heroes Remember

That's where I first encountered and I got my first air craft was up near the east of the bridge of Nijmegen. An ME 190, one of their better ones but he was just running away, trying to get away. He didn't quite make it. I don't know whether I hit him or whether he just hit the ground but anyhow he blew up in front of me. The biggest most satisfying part of the operation that I took part in was hitting, a direct hit with a 500 pound bomb on an ammunition train moving out of the Ruhr up toward Arnhem and Appledorn, it was either loaded with war heads or loaded with liquid fuel for the rockets and that's where up near Appledorn is where they had the V1s. The buzz bombs were not all pointed down towards Brussels and the port of Antwerp in Brussels. The V2s of course were still dropping over on London but they were all coming from that little prong up in Holland in toward Denmark which is Appledorn area. I hit a train there were about 30 cars on it, trucks and it just blew like a string of crackers, Chinese crackers from one end to the other and that was rather satisfying. Fireworks up in the air to 6000 feet as the... must have been anti-aircraft ammunition in the load. It was more significant I guess feat than enemy air craft. I imagine it was a little more costly I don't know. The air men that trained would have to take his expense into account. It was a good, good feeling. People over in the left hand section reported a jet. We knew it was a 262 at that time or an Arado. Crossing from port, that's left hand to the starboard across to the right hand side and I was over on the right hand section and just a little bit out in front of the other ones and it so happened that by that time I had to power up and go in like as fast as the Spitfire could accelerate. And he crossed over in front of me just a way out of range there, around 800 yards or so, but we had the gyro gun sight in those days and if you put the pepper on the target and you nipped his wing span down and ranged him and tracked him it would take care of the gravity drop of the bullet out to 1000 yards or 1200 yards which is damn near a mile, three quarters of a mile and would take care of any slippery skid that he might have on and so he was just going straight away and downhill like a bullet and I was going about the same way. So I just did it text book style. I put the dot on and nipped him down, gave a good long burst out of it with the cannons and my squadron leader in centre section saw two strikes on it so it was just a sheer mechanical business that did it. The simple gyro gun sight was a pretty good computer there in those days.

Mr. Ireland describes three combat engagements; downing a Messerschmitt 190, blowing up a munitions train, and damaging a new German 262 jet fighter.

Elgin Gerald Ireland

Elgin Gerald Ireland was born in Shelbourne, Ontario, on January 12, 1921. He was the eldest in a family of seven. Because his father was a farmer, his family survived the depression in relative comfort. Mr. Ireland lived close to an airfield, and was fascinated by the thought of flying. When the family farm was sold, Mr. Ireland felt no obligation to stay home, and in April, 1941, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was groomed as a pilot, and did his elementary training at St. Eugene, flying the Fleet Finch. He moved on to St. Hubert, learned to fly the Harvard aircraft, and then moved on to Trenton where he was a flight instructor for one and a half years. Mr. Ireland reached England as a member of a Hurricane squadron, but soon transferred to 411 Spitfire Squadron. He flew air to ground combat at Falaise Gap and Nijmegen, while at the same time engaging the Luftwaffe in air to air warfare. For his efforts, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Netherlands Flying Cross. After the liberation of Europe, Mr. Ireland volunteered for the Tiger Force, an air group which was to aid in the war against Japan. Mr. Ireland remained in the air force, returning to the Trenton Flying School. He was one Canada’s first pilots to fly the Vampire, F-86 Sabre, and CF-100 jet fighters. After spending four years as Canada’s CF-100 Squadron Commander in France, he returned to 409 Squadron at Comox, British Columbia, where he was promoted to Camp Commander. It was at that point that British Columbia became his family home.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Elgin Gerald Ireland
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Flight Lieutenant

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