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Oxygen Starvation - A Deadly Adversary

Heroes Remember

Oxygen Starvation - A Deadly Adversary

You'd see these planes breaking in formation and just going down, crashing, and you would wonder why and I often wondered, there's no other enemy around or anything, but now I know it was lack of oxygen, and I lost my oxygen up in Tunisia. I was in high flying Spit 8's, Spit 9's. We were up around 33,000 feet and all of a sudden I just dropped out of formation and I lost my sight and I was, felt like I was diving and I'd try and pull it out and then I felt I was stalling and I'd dive again. Finally, when I got down to about 12,000 feet, which is pretty low, my eyesight came back and I was able to correct it and I tried to join up with the Spitfires below and then I thought, well, I better, we were almost home and I thought, well, I better just stay by myself.

Mr. Wilson describes being mystified by pilots, in sound aircraft, who plummeted from formations and crashed. He finds out that the cause is 'oxygen starvation', and on one sortie experiences its nearly deadly consequences himself.

Gordon Wilson

Gordon Wilson was born on December 5, 1917 in Limerick, Saskatchewan. The Royal Canadian Air Force was no longer accepting recruits when he enlisted so he joined the Royal Regina Rifles. Six months later, Mr. Wilson joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at Brandon, Manitoba. His first wartime deployment saw him serving in North Africa near El Alamein, where he initially flew Hurricanes in a Royal Air Force squadron. He later piloted Spitfire 9’s in Sicily, Italy and the Middle East. After the war, Mr. Wilson completed a university degree and became a museum curator.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gordon Wilson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Flying Officer

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