Just plane proud

Truro Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BY HARRY SUL­LI­VAN COVER PHOTO BY HARRY SUL­LI­VAN/TRURO DAILY NEWS Roy Mor­ri­son of Truro Heights, a re­tired War­rant Of­fi­cer with the Royal Cana­dian Air Force dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, is seen look­ing through his old log book.

The mem­o­ries came rush­ing back for Roy Mor­ri­son as he laid his hands on a Lan­caster bomber for the first time since crawl­ing out of a tail gunner’s perch 72 years ago.

“It means a lot,” said Mor­ri­son, 93, of Truro Heights. Mor­ri­son re­cently vis­ited Green­wood Avi­a­tion Mu­seum where he was hon­oured with in­duc­tion into the Lan­caster Liv­ing Leg­ends project.

It’s there that a Lan­caster, sim­i­lar to the one he was aboard for 30 mis­sions over Ger­many dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, is be­ing re­stored.

“I’m happy to see them restor­ing it and keep­ing it,” he said. “It will be around for a good many years now.”

Mor­ri­son was 18 when he signed on with the Royal Cana­dian Air Force with hopes of be­com­ing a pi­lot.

“I soloed in a Tiger Moth be­fore I ever drove a car,” he said, of the open cock­pit, bi-planes used as train­ing craft dur­ing that era.

Af­ter wash­ing out as a pi­lot, how­ever, Mor­ri­son was as­signed

the po­si­tion of air gunner – his seat was in the Lan­caster’s glassed-in bub­ble at the rear of the plane.

“I was very slim,” he said, weigh­ing in at about 130 pounds at the time. “Maybe that’s why they picked me to go in the tail.”

Clad in a heavy quilted suit be­neath an­other can­vas fly­ing suit, heavy, sheep-lined boots and three pairs of gloves – silk, chamois and leather – Mor­ri­son

was equipped with four .303 guns and about 1,000 rounds of belted ammo at his feet.

Be­tween Nov. 15, 1944 and March 10, 1945 he par­tic­i­pated in 17 day­time and 13 night mis­sions. Each time he crawled over the tail spur to reach his seat, the same thoughts ran through his mind.

“I can’t re­mem­ber when they weren’t scary,” he said, of flights over en­emy ter­ri­tory. “You never knew what you were go­ing to run into.”

That was es­pe­cially true with the night­time bomb­ing runs when the large spot­lights from be­low would trap him in the en­emy sights and light up his glass bub­ble, while anti-air­craft flak ex­ploded all around at close to 20,000 feet,

On oc­ca­sion, some of the flak found the mark with Mor­ri­son’s Lan­caster. For­tu­nately, in his case, it was never se­ri­ous.

But dur­ing his re­cent visit to the old Lan­caster at the Green­wood mu­seum, a lot of his mem­o­ries did come back. And these days, as an old vet­eran chat­ting with a vis­i­tor in his kitchen on a cool spring morn­ing, Mor­ri­son still can’t help but marvel at those war-torn times of long ago.

““Just a bunch of kids out there fly­ing those air­planes,” he said.

“Just won­der­ing if you were go­ing to get back.”

suB­miT­Ted phoTo

War­rant Of­fi­cer (re­tired) Roy Mor­ri­son of Truro Heights, a for­mer Avro Lan­caster tail gunner with 90 Squadron, is seen riv­et­ing his hand-signed me­tal plaque on a me­tal plate dur­ing the re­cent Lan­caster Liv­ing Leg­ends recog­ni­tion cer­e­mony in the 14 Wing Green­wood avi­a­tion mu­seum.

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