My name is Claude Burry and I was born in Safe Harbor, Newfoundland on 12 July 1922. I probably have more education than most Newfoundlanders as I finished grade 11. After that I went to work at a radio shop for one year. I had to work to look after my mother. My father was deceased, and I was the only boy in the family. I had one sister ten years older than myself.
I joined the Royal Air Force Ferry Command as an aircraft maintenance mechanic in 1941. This Command was in charge of operating aircraft going over the Atlantic during the war. My boss was Group Captain Anderson and I can see him now; he had four bars on his arm. I was a civilian and civilians didn’t have service numbers. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t join the military and serve because I felt we were doing our part in the war. Without us, there would have been no aircraft to fight in the war. So, I went to work for the RAF Ferry Command and they trained me to be a mechanic.
The planes were made in California then sent to Dorval Airport in Montreal and then to Gander and then overseas to Iceland and Shannon Airport in Ireland and then over to Britain. I was transferred for six months from Gander to Goose Bay, Labrador because the runways were unserviceable. Then I went back to Gander.
In 1945 I left and attended Radio College of Canada in Toronto. After college I got a job with Trans Canada Airlines as a radio mechanic. I worked in Montreal for one year, Goose Bay for seven years and Montreal for another six years.
I then went to Torbay, St. John’s, Newfoundland. In 1948 I married Margaret Tuck in Montreal. She used to work in a restaurant at Transport Command. Together we had three children; one son and twin girls. We also have four grandchildren. Margaret was deceased in 1961.
The RAF Ferry Command changed their name to Transport Command during the war because they didn’t want the Germans or others aware of their location. The pilots that flew for them were a higher class of people than us mechanics. We lost quite a few planes going overseas due to icy conditions. We lost so many Mosquito Bombers. These planes were made Toronto and there were two seats in them; one for the Navigator and one for the Captain. Deavlin thought the pilots had finger trouble because so many went down, so they sent over a test pilot and he too went down in the Atlantic. This was all due to icy conditions. You see we had no de-icing equipment in those days. All these pilots were civilians.
Some of the other planes I worked on were Hudson Bomber – 2 engine; Boston A20; B26; Venture Bomber – 2 engine; Liberator B24 – 4 engine; Mitchell Bomber B25 – 2 engine; and DC3 A/C Decoda. The Decoda towed gliders across the Atlantic. I remember one night there were 28 DC3 with 28 gliders being towed behind them. This was just before the Dieppe raid.
I retired in Torbay, St. John’s Newfoundland and stayed there for two years until I remarried in 1986 to Emily Dyke. She used to own a store on Dominion Street. I moved to Truro and liked it so much I stayed. I’ve been a member of Royal Canadian Legion Colchester N.S. Branch No. 26 for three years now. My hobby is amateur radio. I’ve never smoked nor drank in my life. You see my parents were very strict and I guess I in turn was very strict with my children. My grandfather never smoked, my father never smoked, I never smoked, my son never smoked and my grandson never smoked. I will be 83 in July and I have never taken a pill, been sick or in the hospital. I’m fit as a fiddle probably because of all the fish I ate.