Last Name: White
First Name : Bob
Subject's City: Shirley
Subject's State: West Midlands
Subject's County: West Midlands
Subject's Country: England
Type** : B&W
Comments: Bob White (Nee: ) | Shirley West Midlands England | 1941-1960 | Comments: During 1944 made 37 trips over Germany, Belgium, and France, transportation being provided by the RCAF in what became known as “Halibags”, Halifax bombers operating out of Canadian Six Group and stationed at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire. Crew were members of #420 “Snowy Owl” Squadron and shared the aerodrome with #425 Squadron better known as the “Alouettes”.
I write this piece in honour of Pilot Officer (then Sergeant) Bob “Whitey” White DFC, who was the designated mid-upper gunner in the crew in which I was the rear gunner, although at various times he and I would exchange positions. Our Captain was Warrant Officer Bill McAdam, DFC.
Bob White was very keen and very sharp. My recollections of him here begin with a part of his personal story, which he shared with me in answer to my question about some prominent scars on his left forearm. Bob lived in the West Midlands, and while still too young to join the RAF, endured an enemy bombing in which he sustained the injuries but, nonetheless, crawled under a shattered building to rescue, from the arms of her dead mother, a baby girl whom he kept track of for the rest of his life (Bob passed away in 1995).
On May 27, 1944, we were assigned to bomb Bourg Leopold in Belgium. On the way out to the target area the German fighters were both present and busy and I personally witnessed a total of nine of our aircraft go down. In one case, the fighter must have followed his victim’s descent, for I could see tracer bullets pouring out of the bomber’s rear turret right until the bomber hit the ground and disintegrated in a ball of flame.
About five minutes after we had made our drop and headed for home our mid-upper turret burst into action. My turret was facing directly to the rear and before I could swing to starboard it was all over, but I did manage a glimpse. It seems the JU 88 had made a 90 degree turn towards us on our starboard beam. The gunner’s response to that move is a “no deflection” shot. What I could not see, Whitey and the co-pilot (Bombardier) could. What they reported at the later debriefing was this. “The Junkers starboard engine burst into flame and then a piece of the tail section flew off.” I saw him wiz by behind us and that was it. How badly he was damaged we shall never know, but we escaped!
The following month on June 12/44, our target was Cambria in France, and the drop zone was lit up like a Christmas tree. On our way out of the target I clearly saw and reported the presence of a Focke-Wulf 190, whose nose was painted white. The fighter flew West to East right through the illuminated area. We subsequently altered course and headed North West for the English Channel. About half way there, the mid-upper turret once again came to life, and while I was again out of position I saw the tracer from Whitey’s guns over my left shoulder. The German had fired his first burst just above his target. Whitey’s response must have spooked him into making a steep bank to his port side . Since he had come in from the starboard beam his subsequent bank exposed his belly to a fusillade of ammo, and I could see our tracer actually bouncing off his underside! We had been told that the 190 had a protective lead shield and here was proof enough; but its effect was to make us feel as if we were fighting a war with popguns. However, I can imagine the German pilot could hear the multiple thuds in his cockpit, and if he reached home safely that night, I guarantee he had to change his underwear!
Bob White went on to join the Pathfinder Squadron after he completed his tour with us and finally did receive his well deserved Distinguished Flying Cross.
It is a matter of interest that the Cambria raid referred to above was the same raid during which Air Gunner Andrew Mynarski, VC, lost this life in a heroic attempt to save that of a fellow crew member, following an attack by a JU 88. I suppose every age has its heroes. We certainly had ours!
Written by CLIFFORD CAMPBELL ˆ Dunchurch, Ont. (courtesy of Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum)
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