Box 024, folder 08: Victor Wishart Eldridge

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ELDRIDGE, Victor W. Canadian R.C.A.F.

Box 24, #8

Last edit about 3 years ago by roweall
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[inserted] RCAF 20445 F/L V. W. Eldridge [end inserted] [inserted] RCAF [end inserted] [inserted] Exerpt [end inserted] THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THS AIR, PARTICIPATED IN THE INVASION OF NORMANDY BETWEEN MIDNIGHT JUNE 5, 1944 AND MIDNIGHT JUNE 6, 1944. IF YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. [inserted] CANADIAN [end inserted] [inserted ]Nothing [end inserted]

What is your full name? VICTOR WISHART ELDRIDGE What was your squadron, station, unit? 415 RCAF Squadron based at Bircham Newton England

Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time?

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Warrant Officer What was your age on June 6, 1944? 22 Were you married at that time? NO What is your wife's name? N/A Did you have any children at that time? N/A What do you do now? ADJUTANT 436 (T) Squadron RCAF Downsview Ont

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? No specific instructions were given to our crew but were assigned direct support duty and briefed ahead of time. Aircraft were marked. What was the trip like during the crossing of the Channel? Do you remember, for example, any conversations you had or how you passed the time? Our job was to protect the ships from E"Boat attacks and possible subs. WE were close by the battlewagons firing salvos at the beaches and could see the shells and bombs hitting the shore. It was a forth of July with the sky lit up. The great worry was that the [underlined] German E Boats [end underlined] with their torpedos would wreak havoc weaving in out of the ships and landing barges. [underlined] There were known to be 35 or more in [end underlined] the immediate area that 415 Squadron had seen on previous flights. [inserted] ? [end inserted]

What were the rumors on board the boat, ship or plane in which you made the crossing? (Some people remember scuttlebut to the effect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in). We knew the 2nd front was opened. Our only worry was German fighters. The flak never [crossed out] particula [end crossed out] accounted for many of our planes. Our Squdron comprised of Wellingtons and our bomb load was 9 500LB barometric fused bombs. This gave a wide blast area very suited to destroying small craft.

Shortly after takeoff from the base in England I was filling the position of rear gunner. We took turns on our aircraft as were all trained in wireless, radar, fighter control etc. An aircraft came in on our tail and I ordered a corkscrew evasive action. We could not identify it as a friendly or enemy aircraft. The fighter apparently lost us. I had him zeroed in my gun sights but did not want to shoot down a friendly fighter which seemed to me to be a British Mosquito aircraft.

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Your name F/L VW Eldridge

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? Include any impressions from it. NIL

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during landing or during the day? NIL

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties?: NO

Were you wounded? Do you remember what it was like--that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were so surprised that you felt nothing? NO

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time?

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else?

Did you encounter any enemy aircraft or flak? Was your aircraft demaged? Our Pilot W/C Ruttan was too hot a pilot to get hit by fighters and we kept our eyes peeled to advise evasive action.

Last edit about 3 years ago by roweall
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Your name F/L VW ELDRIDGE

In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance; others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either from D-Day? [inserted]D-day?[end inserted] We made a radar contact shortly after reaching our area near the moving stream of allied surface vessels. A sighting report was sent by the wireless operator and he was apparently so nervous that it took him about ten minites before he cleared the message to base. We homed in on radar and in the dark flew about 500 feet above the water. I was looking directly below the aircraft when the E Boats fired a brilliant fighter flare which illuminated five "E" Boats directly below. They were a perfect target for my four Browning Machine Guns but our instructions were not to fire because even night tracer would give our exact position away. We climbed to 1000 feet and did a perfect run in on the E Boats which were in line astern. Just after our bombing run a German fighter flashed by and we dove. He lost us but a British Navy Plane called in by our signal to assist was shot down. The two E Boats at the end of the line were [crossed out] bow [end crossed out] destroyed and [crossed out] t [end crossed out] a third was on fire. The remaining two commenced firing at us but their fire was erratic. The aircraft captain W/C CG Ruttan was awarded the DSO for this and other sorties.

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? Protecting the ships moving toward the Normandy beaches.

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? RAF base Bircham Newton

Do you know of anybody else who landed within the 24 hours of D-Day, June 6, as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whom we should write to? NO

PLEASE LET US HAVE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT WE CAN INCLUDE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE BOOK. WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE YOUR STORY ON SEPARATE SHEETS IF WE HAVE NOT LEFT SUFFICIENT ROOM. FULL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WILL BE GIVEN IN A CHAPTER CALLED "WHERE THEY ARE NOW;" YOUR NAME AND VOCATION OR OCCUPATION WILL BE LISTED.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP.

W.M. Lee Squadron Leader Director of Public Relations (Air) Air Force Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario.

Last edit about 3 years ago by roweall
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