‘I Was Walking Across London Bridge When Enemy Aircraft Strafed Our Group, Killing Three Buddies’
Veteran Gord Blume remembers some of the horrors of World War II when in England over half a lifetime ago and spoke to The News about those experiences in a recent interview.

Although Blume, now 82 years old missed direct fighting because he and a couple of others stuck up their hands when an officer was asking for volunteer cooks while overseas—he will never forget what he saw and how close he came to being killed.

One of those times was when he was stationed in London, England for six months as the enemy was trying to burn the city. He recalls that he and a group of people were walking across London Bridge one day when suddenly a German fighter plane appeared flying low—about 25 feet off the ground and strafed the bridge. “Three boys with me got killed” in that lightning raid. The buddies were from the same camp he was stationed and Blume says that it happened so fast that he did not even have time to fall down to seek cover. Before you had time to say “oh my God, what are you going to do, it was over . . . it was too late to take cover.” Another 25 to 30 civilians lay dead from the machine gun fire.
But the airman went on a mission as a rear gunner in a plane and the aircraft returned—but with the man dead—hit with enemy fighter bullets. Blume found out after his friend failed to show up and went looking for him. After 48 hours he found out the shocking news. “He was gone.”

Another time the cook was asleep while on leave and a bomb was dropped around 3 a.m., hitting the building he was in. Because the bomb did not immediately strike anything solid, it skipped along the cement floor, 50 feet from where Blume lay, went out a wall and continued on for two blocks down the street. The noise woke him: “I had no idea what the score was and people were running in every direction.” The bomb finally hit a natural gas pipe causing an explosion and fire that killed three or four people.

But there were some happier memories and one was when long-time pal and soldier Walter Murray who was stationed 25 to 30 miles away came to visit Blume in England. “Walter used to tell me he had to come and get something good to eat” so Blume gave him a fine meal. The pair went to classes together at Marquis School 12 miles north of Hayter. Murray still lives on the farm a couple of miles north of town.

Like many others who volunteered the Provost man spent time training in Calgary and then at Borden, Ontario. “I joined more or less for the experience and to see another part of the world. We were lucky enough to get back.” His parents weren’t too happy about his leaving, though they never really said too much.

“I thought I’d be stationed for a while in Canada but it wasn’t very long before I was being sent overseas.” He went with other soldiers across the Atlantic Ocean on a six day trip aboard a cattle ship. He and others slept in hammocks, finally landing in Scotland. He wasn’t sick on the way over but after the war “I was sicker than hell on the way back on the Queen Lizzie.”

He wound up at camp headquarters in Borden, England where three kitchens prepared meals for 700 men. His only experience cooking was helping his mother out a bit on the family farm back home. The cooks had a good variety of food to prepare and didn’t run out of supplies but they never did see white bread while they were there. At their base camp they would often hear the roar of enemy planes nearby.

When the war was over Blume and some others stayed behind for nearly a year in England to tie up loose ends. Then with the help of a government grant awarded to many returning people from the war effort, he bought a half section of land and went farming. His parents were “pretty happy” to see him again.

After shipping back to Canada his train was routed from Halifax to New York, then Winnipeg and finally Chauvin. “I met an old guy on the train who had a bottle of rum and we got stoned before we got to Chauvin.”

Does the veteran, who lives in the Provost Health Care Centre often think about the war years? “It’s always there.” But as November 11 approaches “ . . . you think about it more. You never forget—and I only saw some part of it. Some of the boys went through hell.”

The memories “still make you dream a little bit at night. You don’t forget those things.”
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