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Ronald Gaudet
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January 1945 By Ronald Gaudet
My Years in the Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot Officer Ronald Gaudet January 1945 Pilot Officer Ron Gaudet moved to Hornchurch in England on January 1, 1945 and boarded an L.S.T. [tank landing ship] the next day for Ostend, Belgium on route to the Canadian aerodrome Evere, near Brussels. The first day or so had quite a fight to keep from being sick as this thing rolled, slid, and pitched all at the same time. I would stay in the Officers mess until I felt too bad and go up on deck in the fresh air but it was pretty cold to stay too long. On one of these trips a sailor came by and asked if I was all right and I told him I didn't feel too hot but had not thrown up yet. He told me not to feel too bad as he had sailed the seven seas in different ships with no problem but the first three days aboard this he thought he was going to die and wished he would. We ran into a storm and lay off Ostend for 36 hours and docked on January 5, 1945. I could see why they could not go in if it was rough as the enemy had sunk a ship across the opening and the Engineers had just blown a hole through the hulk so it was not much wider than the ship. I arrived on the Squadron the next day. [Squadron 443] They informed me that my replacement was shot down and killed by flak on the way back from an escort. The field was a mess from the enemy attack on January 1. There here were wrecked kites all over the place. Our squadron missed this as they were in England at the time. There were three Dakotas standing side by side. They were used as air-ambulances, and the tail sections of each were cut off as the bullet holes were touching each other in a line just ahead of the fin. The tails were laying on their sides leaving the noses pointing to the sky. The enemy figured everyone would be hung over after New Years Eve and gathered all the fighter aircraft they could and sent them over at deck level so radar couldn't pick them up and the ground observers would be too hung over to see them. This happened and the first target was the control tower at Eindhoven thus knocking out our main communication lines. After this they hit our field and in the process of this the phone rang in our Intelligence Office and said it was Control at Eindhoven and we were going to be attacked as there were some fighters headed our way. The officer replied, "I know listen to them" and stuck the phone out the window. I was talking with Mac Reeves a pilot in one of the other Squadrons on our field about the Jan. 1st. effort. He was on patrol along the bomb line with another Reeves (no relation) and control called and told them their base was under attack. They headed for home and when they arrived thought they were over Germany as the circuit was full of M.E.109's and FW. 190's. They started down and the other Reeves’ engine started to act up so Mac went down and attacked by himself even though there were 40 or 50 of them. I can see him now stretched out sitting in a chair smoking a cigar and saying, "I got three of them before they got away." He came down and got on the tail of a 190 and pushed the button but the guns didn't fire and realized he forgot to take the safety off so had to break off. He then shot down a 109 and a 190 then they all started to leave, gas running low I imagine. He got on the tail of a 190 and chased him at ground level and the 190 drove his nose in the ground and blew up. As Mac put it, "He must have been a green pilot and turned to look at me and let the stick go forward so I got a destroyed and never fired a shot”. A few days later [January 10] another pilot and I were just leaving the latrine and headed for the mess hall. And suddenly saw a large flame shoot high in the air through the fog and then a loud blast so we both dropped to the ground as we thought another January 1 raid. Just as we stood up again there was a loud crash close to us and then something hit the blast wall beside my head so we dropped again. After a few seconds got up and there were two pieces of steaming hot cement that had missed us by a foot in the snow on top of the wall. There were women screaming in the mess and as we went to go through the opening to enter the building, we were almost bowled over by Sqn/L. Art Sager and he said something about a Flying Fortress blowing up on the field and jumped in his Jeep and drove off. There was a large hole through the roof of the mess and one window complete with frame was lying on the ground and another was inside on the floor. I saw this at a glance and took off for the field to see what was going on. Men were running out of the barracks and offices with blood running from their faces due to flying glass, all wanting to know what was happening. A B17 with a full bomb load was making an emergency landing in the fog and touched down too late. It tried to go around again but saw he couldn't make it but was too late to stop. He ran into a concrete hangar and caught fire. One of the men from our ground crew pulled a few of the crew out and while carrying one of them the whole thing went up. He was smart enough to keep the side wall between him and the Fortress in the hangar so was blown off his feet along with the crewman he was carrying but not hurt. The hangar was flattened along with the aircraft that was in there along with some that were parked near the site. One of the main wheels was out in the middle of the field burning.