Call it luck or being in the right place at the right time, but a Saskatchewan veteran admits he had to be crafty to land a posting in the Canadian army to fight in the Second World War.
“I tried the navy but they wouldn’t okay me, my eyesight wasn’t good enough so I went to the air force and before getting the eye test they let a bunch of us in a room and I memorized the chart so when it was my turn I rattled it off,” said Harold Frank Gow.
Gow and several veterans are featured on a YouTube channel called Saskatchewan Veterans Remember, put together by the provincial government leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.
Gow said his father was a military man and admits there may have been some peer pressure to enlist in the Canadian army, as a majority of his high school classmates did as well. Having travelled to Ontario for training, Gow eventually landed a position as a radar technician and in 1940, after Winston Churchill phoned William Lyon Mackenzie King asking for 4,000 radar technician, Gow was on his way across the Atlantic.
“Our job was to protect London from the German bombers coming in to bomb London, night bombers as they called them,” Gow said, adding one day his commanding officer called him for special duty.
“They were short guards at the front gates so we went out there, but we were told to make sure we were wearing our tin hats and at about 10 p.m. we found out why.”
The London base had radar-based towers and as German bombers approached the base, heavy cannon would literally blow the bombers out of the sky.
“Once the aircraft got within 500 metres the cannon fired automatically and once they fired the ski lit up like it was noonday … The next thing you know hot metal, hot aircraft parts, hot bodies, they were all falling so we ran and got our damn tin helmets,” Gow said.
To listen to stories from other Saskatchewan veterans click here.