Lloyd Slater began his military career with the 37th Field Battery Militia ( Royal Artillery Regiment)
on August 8th 1940. He transferred to the RCAF on July 9th 1941 and commenced his training at No.2 Manning Depot
in Brandon Manitoba. After spending time in the militia this beginning step for all recruits into the air force and the
change from civilian life to military life must have been an easy six weeks.
He was selected for training as Air Frame Mechanic and once he completed his courses at St. Thomas was posted to
No. 3 B&GS in MacDonald Manitoba. Here while working on the Battles used by aircrew students for bombing and gunnery
training he gained further experience in his trade.
Like so many before him and the thousands that would follow, Slater left Halifax for Britain aboard an ocean liner
converted to a troop ship. The normal passenger areas which would comfortably carry a thousand paying passengers where
now uncomfortably cramming in more than four times that number. With bunks in every place they could be forced into; including
places never meant for people to be in.
Slater like so many others saw sites which made them wonder at their chances of survival. In LAC Lloyd Slaterís case
he watched as the hospital ship berthed near by unloaded the thousands of wounded being brought back home. He mentions in his interview
given several years back that he thought to himself that this was not a ship he wanted to be coming home on.
His ship the SS Nievw Amsterdam arrived at Gourock Scotland after it's unescorted race across the Atlantic. The
safety of port soon became the hard outdoor life of a member of the 419 Squadron ground crew. Working in the elements and
weather of Yorkshire took it's toll on many of the men as they worked in the rain, snow and dampness surrounding their
aircraft parked out on the dispersal pads spread around the base. The only refuge was the shacks made by these crews from
what ever material they could find, borrow or steal from others huts. The huts were not a home away from home, just a brief respite
for the main job was to keep the bombers ready for the next operation. It was not a job that ran by the clock.
Whenever the work was completed was the end of the day unless they were
called on to help another ground crew. Long hours also took a toll on these men.
For Slater the Pleurisy he developed while working on the Lancasters eventually sent him to the base hospital at North Allerton
and later to Chapel Hospital. The problems with shortness of breath and the pain felt in his lungs against any
extraneous efforts continued
until it was decided to send him home to Canada.
Sometime after V-E Day he was transported to the docks and sent home on the SS Lady Nelson, the very same hospital ship
he had seen and commented on back in Halifax before he left for Britain. From Halifax he travelled by hospital train to
Winnipeg, somewhat closer to his Edwin Manitoba home. He spent an additional six months there before being released.