Graham, Arnold

Arnold Graham was born December 12, 1925 in Lakefield, Ontario.  He grew up in a large family:  there were 12 children, and Arnold was the youngest.  Arnold grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression; life was tough for the family, especially when Arnold’s father died.  His older siblings and his mother managed to get the family through those hard times though.  When the war came, Arnold was in Timmins with his older brothers, but he returned to Lakefield and went back to high school, where he made it through Grade 10.  By that time six of Arnold’s brothers had joined up, and he wanted to go and fight with them.  His mother reluctantly agreed to let him go, signing his letter when he was 17.  Arnold went off to Manning Depot, and then on to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan schools in Quebec, where he earned his wings as an air gunner.  A very colourfully remembered troop ship journey followed; glad to be on firm ground again, Arnold boarded a train and headed for Bournemouth, soon to be followed by a stint flying Wellingtons in OTU.  By now Arnold had crewed up, and they were assigned to 433 Squadron, where they flew Lancasters and Arnold was either mid-upper gunner or tailgunner.   Arnold flew 19 combat missions, enduring the flak, the cold, and the German fighters – which included an Me262 on one mission!  On mission #19 Arnold’s luck ran out when his Lancaster was shot down on a mission over northern Italy; he was captured and held in a German prison camp for a short time.  The Americans liberated him in short order, and he was sent up to the coast, and over to England.  It was during this time that the war came to an end, and Arnold returned home on the Ile de France, going home to his family in Lakefield.  There he and his brothers fell back into the rhythms of civilian life, making their way in postwar Canada.  Arnold Graham was interviewed at his home in Lakefield in August 2022 by Scott Masters.