Harry Major

Why Did We Go to War?

by Harry Major, CD

I would never have given any thought to writing a book, let alone one of my life’s experiences down through the years, before seeing a movie on TV that I considered to be a very inaccurate accounting of those years. It was only after seeing this movie and reading some of the garbage produced by the weird individuals citing that the Canadian Military and the Allies in general, were murderers during the war years that I turned my attention to giving the folks a first hand account of my experiences.


It was the belief of the whole world that the rising of Hitler and his henchmen wished to rule over the world with their iron fists. They wished to take away world freedom and promote their “cleansed society” throughout the lands. Hitler hoodwinked the German population and actually usurped leadership over their own nationals before reaching out in an attempt to rule over all the other nations, not only in Europe but parts of Asia. They destroyed hamlets, villages, towns, cities and countryside’s subduing all people to their servitude. These evil leaders did not only take away their freedom of speech but also the ordinary way of life and freedom as we know it in this fine country. The German Blitzkrieg demolished everything and everyone in their paths. Millions of innocent people were killed in the name of “cleansing”. People were interred in camps, worked to death, and gassed because they were the wrong color, creed or political party. People were experimented on because they were “genetically different”. Not only were the handicapped treated to experimental surgery but also twins, triplets, people who were thought to have psychic powers were experimented on as well. Although we Canadians did not find out until later the total of atrocities the Nazis perpetrated, or the unimaginable lengths they would be going to, we did know that the situation of the European nations and the Jewish peoples were being violated. We were certainly aware of Hitler’s wish to reign over the entire world.


I can only speak for myself, but if you ask any veteran of any war in which they volunteered to serve, they would tell you their main reason for going was to protect the freedom of the world and particularly of this Grand Nation.


Once the German might had taken all they could in Europe they attacked Russia. They also began bombing throughout England and Scotland. Many towns and cities were destroyed and innocent children, elders, and peaceful citizens were killed. They did not confine their bombs to the military targets but bombed hospitals, churches, schools and market places in these cities. Lucky for us the British upper lip stayed strong and they fought back. We Canadian volunteers went to their help to defeat the enemy in Europe. We did not want to wait for them to attack our shores once they had the eastern regimes under their thumbs. Even with this although it is a little published fact, German Subs made it into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and along the eastern shores of North America. Divers today can see the remains of these ships, and the Japanese subs along the west coast, where our forces blew them out of the water.


I am not writing this looking for fame, but only to present the facts as to why I put my life on the line; why I became an air gunner and took the fight to the enemy by helping to destroy their Industrial might; demolishing their factories. In doing so, many lives were lost. If I had been one of the lost, I would have considered it a small price to pay for the Freedom of many future generations. When we entered the war millions of lives had already been taken by the Nazi regime; many of Europe’s cities had already been destroyed. It was time to say “the war stops here!”.


I can assure you, the reader, that the memories of those trips over enemy territory causes me many a bad dream. Seeing anti aircraft blow up the plane flying at your side, and knowing that you will never have a game of darts or a beer with those comrades again was horrifying. Standing in roll call, seeing the number shrink daily, and climbing into your aircraft with the knowledge that you might be missing the next day’s roll call, is not a pleasant feeling. It was only the knowledge of what and who we were fighting for that kept us going. It was only the determination to stop the evil suppressions that allowed us to fight another day. Flying above, seeing the destruction below, seeing an enemy aircraft trying to sneak in under your tail to blast you from the sky was nerve wracking. Our pilots were amazing! They depended on our crew to flip the intercom switch to alert them of incoming aircraft. They corkscrewed through the skies, out maneuvering the enemy, and flew us safely back to base, only to go out and do the same thing after a few hours exhausted sleep. I can assure you that none of this was fun. For anyone to say that we weren’t afraid would be fantasy, but one had to do the best he could even shaking in his boots.


Don’t ask me how our crew managed to get through a total of 35 missions over enemy territory. Our pilot was our hero. He could put any aircraft like Wellingtons, Halifaxes, and Lancasters through the skies almost like they were a small Spitfire. What a flier he was! We had a very fine crew who worked well together whether we were on a training flight or on a mission. We were Q.B. “E” of 424 Squadron. The City of Hamilton was our sponsors and to the people of that city, even today, I extended my thanks for the many parcels which were sent by your fine citizens of Wartime Hamilton. Your Freedom was in our minds and in our hearts on every mission.