Gordon B. Smith
F/Sgt. Gordon Bayfield Smith flew with the F/O W.F. Dix crew. The Dix crew was only one of two crews who flew
KB700 more than on a few ops. Dix and his crew spent most of their missions with 419 on Ruhr Express.
Sgt. Smith arrived at 419 on May 2nd 1944. According to the Operations Record Book the night of June 16/17 was the
first operational mission the Dix crew flew on KB700. Prior to that date KB700 know as Ruhr Express had been
used by a number of crews as a training Lancaster because it had dual controls. It additionally was used by a
number of different crews on sorties over Germany during the time she was with Moose squadron.
The Dix crew were posted to 405 Squadron in August of 1944
The Dix crew were:
F/O W F Dix Pilot
F/O C L Lindsay Navigator
P/O E R Jackson B/A
Sgt. G B Smith WAG
Sgt. A J A Page F/E
Sgt. K Turner M/UG
Sgt. J D Jarvis R/G
Gordon Benfield Smith in an interview for "Veteran Stories":
I had a brother who was older than me. He went in 1940. He was a pilot at [RCAF Station] Saint-Hubert a town
in Quebec for two years. Couldnít get overseas because he was an instructor. And about, oh, a couple of
months before, Gordon Smith received his gunnery training at No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School near Guelph.
It was while there that his older brother had been killed while overseas.
After completing OTU and HCU he was posted to 419 Squadron. After he and his crew completed approximately
14 sorties they were asked to join No. 8 Pathfinders.
And in 419 Squadron, I did my first trip there.
The "Ruhr" Express [Avro Lancaster X] was the first
Canadian built [Avro] Lancaster [heavy bomber], did three (ORB shows 10 ) trips with that particular aircraft and after
14 trips on 419 squadron, based on the pilot and I guess the bomb aimer, the navigator in particular,
the good work they had on those trips as such, they asked us to go onto [No. 8] Pathfinder [Force]
Squadron [RAF Bomber Command].
With 405 Squadron located at Cambridge completed his first Tour.
He began his second Tour which in Pathfinders was which for
Pathfinders was 30 sorties instead of the normal
Went on to the Pathfinders. While there, I finished one tour
and the idea was on Pathfinder, after one tour, you went back to Canada for six weeks leave and
then came back over. But if you were Pathfinders and if you wanted, they asked you to stay on for
your second tour and not go home. You would have to only do 25 trips instead of 30 for your second tour.
And the pilot, the bomb aimer and myself, we did that and I finished two tours, actually 59 trips,
really 60 as I said earlier, 59 trips.
Well, a couple of shaky dos there sometimes. On one particular trip, we lost an engine. We were going right
on the target, going over the target and lots of searchlights, and lots of flak [anti-aircraft weapons],
which there usually was, especially on a bigger city and we were hit by flak. Not by fighters by flak. And
at the same time, we were caught in searchlights, not one but they flipped by you quite often. But once they,
like a master searchlight gets on you, you have what you call a cone, an inverted cone which could be maybe
10 searchlights and youíre under that one mass. It worked so that the pilot had a very hard time getting out
of the cone. And meanwhile, the engineís on fire. So he puts the extinguishers on and after about, it seemed
longer than that, probably only three minutes, he wasnít getting anywhere with the fire, nor the searchlights,
and they told us to get ready to jump.
So I was down at the back, ready to go out the back door when he said,
hold on, he said, the fire had gone out, maybe the fire went first, they get the fire extinguishers in the
And what happened was there was flak that knocked the one engine out, so we only had the
one engine left. Anyhow, he had knocked the engine out. And then we had what they called a corkscrew,
which is to get out of the searchlights. So you dives down and going around like a corkscrew so to speak,
steepest dive and going out in circles, so to speak, just straight down. And we finally got out of that.
Now, that was not so bad.
Well, it was bad enough certainly, but I didnít jump and the thing was, we got back on track,
but the navigators could fly by the stars if they had to. But one engine had a lot of electronics
on it and they were knocked out. So we were coming back without any, well, other than the knowledge
of what they were doing, a lot of the equipment was missing. So we were going in areas sometimes close
to towns and you were getting shot where you normally wouldnít, from the ground, Iím talking
We did get back and landed at a separate base because, with that one engine gone. But that was the
drift of that whole particular trip, it was a scary do.