Posts Tagged With: New Brunswick

WAG the Tail

One of my postings during WWII before I went overseas was in Bathurst New Brunswick.  

We were flying Ansons at the time.  There were usually four of us in the Anson and two students in training – making a total of six.   We all got to know each other quite well – sometimes too well. 

On one of our flights over PEI, my wireless air-gunner (WAG) asked me if I’d land because he wanted to see his girlfriend.  Of course, we couldn’t just land – we were working.   I said, “no”.  He wasnt’ too happy, but accepted and understood my decision. We had respect for one another. 

A bad habit we both had, however, was that we both smoked.  You have to remember that smoking in those days was much more acceptable as the hazards were not well known.  Everyone smoked.  And if you were in the Forces, even more of us smoked.  Anyhow, since even then cigarette smoke was bothersome, we needed to open the windows in the Anson we were flying.   My WAG opened the window so far it actually slid right out.   That wasn’t the biggest problem we had.  You see when it slid out it flew to the back of the plane and hit the tail.  It made one hell of a bang.  I didn’t know what kind of damage the window had done and, wouldn’t you know it, I felt the best thing to do was to land the craft.

I radioed in an emergency landing – guess where – Prince Edward Island.  The landing went well – the plane was checked over – but we couldn’t get back up into the air until the morning.  We didn’t know what to do with ourselves – so we decided to go downtown for a couple of drinks.  My buddy arranged to meet his girlfriend afterall.

We were back in the air the following morning – the plane was fixed and my buddy’s heart too.  I guess some things are just destined to be – with a little help from lady luck.

Categories: Uncategorized, World War II | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lobster Air

Introduction

When Dad told me this story – just a few months before he passed away – I was shocked.  Of all the stories I had heard growing up, this one had been kept a secret.  Maybe it wasn’t a secret but it had certainly slipped into the back files of his mind.  Dad didn’t really think this was a story at all and “It isn’t really worth repeating.”, he said.   Writing the update to the story, I did some research about the Straits and lobster there – found an article from the Toronto Star which puts another layer to the story about lobsters.  Kind of interesting read for those of you who are lobster fans!  (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1238462–new-brunswick-lobster-fishermen-fight-for-higher-prices)

“Oh, my goodness, Dad.  This is funny!”  I replied.  I must confess that I didn’t understand a few aspects of the story since I didn’t really put the story into the context of World War II and the fact that fishermen didn’t have access to much needed fuel.  After a few questions and a bit of research, however, this is the story that emerged.  Enjoy!

Lobster Air (in Dad’s words)

Yes – lobster can fly – at least they did in Prince Edward Island during World War II!   Truthfully, the crustaceans were assisted with their flight and it wasn’t that the pilots were particularly welcoming of their aerial hitch-hike either.

We, members of the RCAF Squadron, were on patrol in the Northumberland Straits watching for German Submarines.  The Straits are located between Prince Edward Island and the “Mainland” – mainly New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Today, the Confederation Bridge New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island makes the trek between the two locations a little easier.  But, during World War II, the only way to “access” the area was by plane and air surveillance.  Although there had never been sightings in the Straits,  Germans had surfaced and were even so bold as to buy fish in Montreal.  I never did confirm that was the truth, but the rumor was pretty exciting.  Our mission was to criss-cross the Straits to watch for “enemy” subs.  (Funny how some of my best friends today are German.  Was sure is a strange thing!)

The Straits were well known for lobster.  Since my favorite meal was lobster I felt I was not only defending my country, but also my palate!  During lobster season, the fishermen were out in full force – not like today – but still there was many of them.  Since fuel was rationed during the war, the fishermen had to use sailboats to fish.

Some of the pilots – to conduct their patrol- would fly close above the water.  This would make a “slip-stream” behind the aircraft.  This slip-stream would unintentionally (or not) cause the  lobster farmers’ sailboats to tip over.

Oh boy, the fishermen became quite upset but it seemed there was little they could do.. until they figured out how they could retaliate.  When the low-flying pilots flew too low, the fishermen threw lobster up at the aircraft.  Some of the lobsters would become lodged in the wings.  This wasn’t really too much of a problem.  The fishermen felt they had had their “say” and the pilots were still able to fly without hazard.

The funny part of the story happened, though, when the pilots arrived back at base when the pilots took their planes to the maintenance crew for inspection.  The crew were quite surprised to find lobster stuck in the aircraft.  I guess for a while they figured the lobster jumped out of the water.  No one could figure out how the lobsters managed to hitch a ride.

Finally, the story emerged.  The low-flying pilots and their craft had unintentionally become, “Lobster Air”.  I guess we may have been the first to ship lobster into PEI!

Categories: Duff History, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, World War II | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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