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Blair MacSwain

Interviewed by Emily Beck and Jordan Creed

Blair MacSwain, who passed away in September 2005, lived in Alliston, Prince Edward Island. He joined the service at age 20 when he was in Halifax in 1942, and became a part of the North Nova Highlanders Regiment. He fought in World War 2 and was in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Blair travelled all over Europe, flying over Germany, Poland, Norway, France, Holland, Belgium, and England. Along with almost 900 other people in the air force, he was a volunteer.

During the time he was enlisted Blair didn't know any of the many people that were there, although he also had two brothers fighting in the war. When Blair was leaving his family, he didn't really realize what he was getting himself into; that led him to feel many different emotions.

In the air force during the war, they had many responsibilities like washing dishes, mopping floors and keeping bunks clean. The men also had inspections on boots being polished, hair cut short, moustache shaved, shirt buttons polished. and also a very straight stand.

Blair was trained in England and went on a 7 day long trip by ship. The ship carried about 900 people at the time. In the war, Blair was a Tail Air Gunman. He flew in a small cubby at the tail end of a plane. The cubby had no bathroom, no food, and was wide open from his head to about his knees. Blair operated 4 machine guns all at the same time, each gun shooting 150 shells per minute. The shells he shot were about 2 inches long; one of the biggest bombs ever dropped at that time was 22,000 tons. He usually flew in a plane called Land Caster, which had 4 engines, or a Stirling which had only 2 engines. The Land Caster was a much better aircraft with more speed, and more power.

For flying in the open cubby, Blair dressed in 1 suit which was electrically heated, 3 pairs of gloves(1 which was electrically heated), a helmet, ear phones, oxygen masks ,etc. All were needed because of the temperature being 40-50 degrees below zero.

The men had only 2 meals a day, and if they were in a plane, they were probably lucky if they got one meal. The meals consisted mostly of stews, and many men got sick just looking at it. If the men flew in a plane they got one egg a week, because the men who flew in a plane were considered higher class.

Blair was very happy once he received news that the war was over, while he was at Wessel on March 23, 1945. Blair, by that time, had flown 34 successful trips. Blair claimed that he only did what was right, and did not see himself as a hero.


Links

Veterans Affairs Canada
Air Force Association of Canada
Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
The War Amps of Canada
The Royal Canadian Legion
RCAF 424
102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion
85th Canadian Infantry Battalion - Nova Scotia Highlanders
South Saskatchewan Regiment
The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment of Canada
422 Squadron R.C.A.F.