Now 95, the Second World War veteran is determined to seize an opportunity to step foot in the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum’s restored Lancaster. Without hesitation, the Oshawa, Ont. resident hands his walking cane to a relative and carefully climbs the stairs leading into the cabin of the aircraft.
He notices it’s stripped inside, but that doesn’t stop the familiar feelings from flooding back. He fondly remembers the days he lugged an armful of maps and charts to the position he occupied behind the pilot as the crew’s navigator.
“It brings back lots of memories, far more than just sitting down and talking about it with somebody,” said Hewett.
“It’s a feeling I can’t describe, a real thrill.”
He first thinks of his
A close call
The crew’s Lancaster lost an engine mid-flight with a full bomb load during a trip across a channel leading into France.
“We couldn’t release our bomb load, which created a problem,” recalls Hewett, adding that they tried a few maneuvers but were not successful in shaking the load loose over the designated “wash area” while contending with icing conditions.
“The procedure then was to either abandon the aircraft or try to land it, and you don’t want to try to land a thing like this on three engines and a full bomb load.”
Hewett said the Skipper advised the crew to bail, but they refused.
“We figured he’s such a good Skipper, he’ll get it down,” he said.
“We stayed aboard and he put it down just like a feather. I think that was probably our…
A living legend
Hewett was the guest of
The Gladiators flew 35 Lancaster missions during the Second World War, with Hewett serving between August 1942 and July 1945.
14 Wing Greenwood base commander Col. Michael Adamson commended both men for their bravery.
“The perils were great. For every 100 men who flew with bomber command, 56 were killed in the air or died of wounds,” said Adamson, delivering an address at the induction ceremony.
“It’s sort of came out of the blue. I’ve only been aware of this the last three months. It’s just a total surprise and a very delightful surprise,” he said, noting that Truro Daily News reporter Harry Sullivan tracked him down to get the ball rolling on a reunion with Morrison.
Hewett admits there were many difficult days during his time in the service, but he’s proud to be counted among Canada’s Second World War veterans.
“A lot of us used to say after the war, ‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but wouldn’t do it again for a million bucks,’” he said.
“I don’t think you can go through life just riding on a cloud all the time. I don’t regret it one bit.”