NWORA Remembrance Vol.4 - NE99

NE99

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Forget-me-not 12 U nit 302 member William E. Turner was born in Rossland, B.C. 9 December 1923. He enlisted in the RCAF in June 1941 when he was 17 years of age. After his 18th birthday he was posted to Edmonton where he did his basic training - Manning Depot where he was assigned to a Precision Parade Flight, thence to the University of Alberta for Initial Training and finally to the Air Observer School at the Edmonton Airport. In December 1942, Bill received his Navigator's Badge and Commission. After 12 days leave he was sent to Halifax and then overseas to England for operational training. Before training was completed his crew was sent on an unexpected posting to 205 Group RAF in Tunisia in North Africa. Air operations consisted of RAF 104 Squadron (Sqn), 40 Sqn, 150 Sqn, 162 Sqn, and two Canadian Sqns - RCAF 424 and 425. The following stories are but a couple of accounts from Bill's notes and log book about his experiences during his service in the RCAF. 205 GROUP RAF OPERATIONS 205 was a tactical group that had supported the 8th Army from Egypt to Tunisia and continued into Italy doing the same work. All operations were performed using twin engined Wellington Aircraft. The Wellington ("Wimpy") was the only military aircraft that was in operation early in September 1939 to August 1945. Targets included troop concentrations, roads, bridges, airfields, seaports, oil refineries and dropping mines in the Danube River. The landing strip was on the northern fringe of the Sahara, summer conditions were hot (110 F) and very dry. All personnel lived in tents that were also occupied by rats, scorpions and the odd snake. Drinking water was rationed. Food was basic military rations, which we occasion- ally supplemented with melons, figs, dates and prickly pear. The Officers' beer quota was ½ bottle per month, what few bottles we received went to the ground crews. The RAF acquired a spacious Italian Villa at Sorrento. This was our rest camp, which we could visit for four days every six months. This was heavenly compared to flying operations. My last operation on 29 October 1944 consisted of dropping supplies into Dubrovnic in Yugoslavia. On the night of 2 Nov, as we were boarding the plane for a night bombing raid, the Commanding Officer of 40 Sqn drove up and forbade me from flying that night. RCAF authorities had noted that I had not had extended leave from flying for well over a year, and I was to be sent back to Canada as soon as possible. By this time I had successfully completed 78 opera- tions (44 bombing and 34 clandestine), which was equivalent to two tours. I celebrated my 21st birthday with relatives in England; I was then on a troop ship heading for Canada. RAID ON TURIN BALL-BEARING FACTORY 24 Nov 43: A pronounced cold front was very active over the area we were to traverse. It was hoped the front would weaken before we arrived at the Italian coast; but it grew more intense with winds 50-70 knots - this was not to helpful for an aircraft flying at 120 knots. We were blown Remembrance Vol.4 By the Late Shirley Skelton, ANAVETS Unit 302 Vancouver (With the permission of William (Bill) Turner). An earlier version of this article appeared in Clarion, the Unit 302 newsletter, in 2008.

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