By Carlie Connolly
Roy Newnham did Canada proud with his efforts in World War II as an air gunner serving for over two years. When he turned 18, he decided to join the war, and began taking his basic training in Edmonton. When it came to fighting for his country, the decision was easy.
“Well, the war was on and we had to win it or have Nazism all over the world. That’s the way I look at it anyway. You’re there to defend your country.”
After Edmonton, he then completed tarmac duty at Fort Macleod followed by some advanced education in Hamilton and then off to Trenton where he began his training as an air gunner then later came back to Macdonald, Manitoba where he graduated from the program in Nov. 1943. He was sent overseas just around Christmas time in 1943. Once there, the air force was stationed on the south coast of England that was the holding unit before they went for training with a squadron.
Newnham was a tail gunner on a Halifax Bomber. After training, the men got their crews together and he remembers having an air crew consisting of seven men: the pilot, the bomb aimer, navigator, wireless operator, the two air gunners and the flight engineer. His job didn’t just involve shooting, it also involved protecting his crew.
“An air gunner’s main responsibility was not necessarily to shoot down other aircraft, but to protect your aircraft from getting hit by them.”
From Leeming, Yorkshire, the crew went out on their bombing mission against the enemy. Newnham had completed his tour of bombing missions, completing 30 operational flights. Newnham recalled that when you completed your operational flights, you were given an option of either going on instructional courses in England for six months or taking a month’s holiday in Canada. He and a man from Edmonton, who he met when he first joined the air force decided to go home.
“Well we were home on leave here when the war ended so I had to report to Winnipeg, they sent me to Calgary for my discharge and that was it,” he said.
And just like that, the war was finally over, and it was a big relief for Newnham.