Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Trevor Glasziou is standing far right.
My father Ken began training with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in Canada and was presented with his wings in October 1941.
The only story we have from his war years is an essay of his great trek across Canada.
My favourite paragraph reads…
Visited the Empire State Building. Whilst up the top, one of the Aussies was signing the visitors’ book and noticed the previous visitor came from Munich, Germany, and had written in the remarks column ‘Come and visit our city sometime’. The Aussie airforce friend wrote underneath “WE WILL - RAAF”.
Next day this yarn appeared in the New York papers and was broadcast over American and Canadian radio stations.
The following accounts were written when Ken was in his late 80s by a church friend of his, Bob Taylor.
An amateur historian, Bob took an interest in Ken’s story and interviewed him about the plane crash and imprisonment.
Ken was flying in Beaufort Bombers from England to Gibraltar, which was quite a deal because they didn’t have enough petrol to get there.
“We had to wait for the right weather to give us a tail wind, and they used to load us up in Cornwall, and we took off over this darn cliff to get airborne,” Ken said.
When talking to Bob Taylor, Ken suggested that the plane had possibly been sabotaged in Gibraltar, en route to Malta, when they had to ditch off the coast of Tunisia after losing the starboard motor.
They crashed into the Mediterranean. Ken thinks they only made it because they hit the top of a wave then crashed through the peak which slowed the plane down enough for the crew to survive.
According to Ken, when you hit the water it is like hitting a brick wall at 140 miles an hour and you are a dead duck, but he could remember two hits crashing through waves.
The crew then had 30 seconds before the aircraft cracked and sunk. But the four of them got out, inflated a circular dinghy (with no paddles) and had a one litre can of water that was sealed.
For three days they paddled with their hands and used the tide before getting to shore.
The story followed with imprisonment in Tunis after being turned into the authorities by seemingly friendly folk.
They escaped using hacksaw blades hidden in their uniforms and parachute chords.
Hidden by a family for a week, they were then turned into the authorities by a priest.
Placed into solitary confinement, and tortured to release information about the people who helped them - which they did not - they were then sent to a prison in Laghouat (in Algeria).
Luckily US troops raided North Africa and they were released.
Ken went back to England where he joined the Pathfinder Squadron and flew over 80 bombing missions in Lancasters until the end of the war.
The crews then flew over enemy territory to drop food into European countries
Ken rarely spoke of the war years, but luckily we have his second log book (first one went down with the plane) and the memories written by a crew member.
My father Ken died in 2013, aged 90.
Below is an excerpt from his diary after they ditched