Stuart Crawford was born on March 2, 1922, in Kingston, Ontario. He had three brothers, and the boys all grew up playing sports and musical instruments, and they shared the same Kingston Whig Standard paper route, passed from one brother to the next. Stuart’s family was very close, and with his parents’ sacrifices they made it through the Great Depression. When the war came, Stuart happened to the family paperboy at that moment, and he recalls selling many papers when Canada declared war on Sept. 10, 1939. Life went on as normal for Stuart for a time; he continued to work and to attend school. But then he received his letter, and a group of men from the newspaper decided to head off to Ottawa together, to join the RCAF. While there Stuart was declared fit for air crew, and his BCATP training began in earnest, and he went from one school to the next, mainly in Manitoba and Ontario. He graduated and earned his wing in London, Ontario, and he was ready to go overseas as a bomb aimer. Stuart arrived in Scotland via New York and a week on the Ile de France; he went to a holding unit, and then flight training began in England, and Stuart and the other men went through OTU and the conversion unit, learning their way around the heavier, 4-engine aircraft. With guidance from his brother Don, Stuart ended up with an excellent crew, including a veteran 25-year old pilot. Assigned to Squadron 419, the crew prepared for their first mission, which targeted an oil refinery near Merseberg, Germany; it would prove to be Stuart’s baptism of fire. The second op targeted the Hamburg shipyard. Stuart recalls having a premonition before the mission – that it would not go according to plan, but that it would not be fatal…He was correct; the Lancaster experienced engine trouble over the target, and then failed on the return home. The crew was forced to abandon it, and Stuart jumped into the night sky somewhere over Germany. He and a crewmate were lucky to land in Allied-held territory, and they were located by British forces in Osnabruck. They returned to England via the Netherlands, and Stuart finished his war with an MI9 debriefing and time at the 419, informing family and friends that he was in fact alive.
Stuart Crawford was interviewed for this project in July 2019, courtesy of the Memory Project, when Scott Masters visited him in his home in Kingston, Ontario.
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