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John Thompson

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Royal Air Force (RAF)World War II
Joined: Age 18
Position: Single Engine Fighter Pilot
Posted: London, Belgium, Germany

The Second World War began when John Thompson was only 16 years old. As a result, John spent much of his later teenage years reading all about the battle of Britain. Fighter pilots in particular caught his interest and quickly became his heroes.

John enlisted as soon as he turned 18, applied for the air crew and underwent a rigorous series of tests and interviews to become a single engine fighter pilot himself.

Having previously never left Woodbridge, Ontario, John found himself training in Halifax before being sent to England on the Queen Elizabeth. As John recalls, the liner was built to fit a maximum capacity of 3,000 people, but ended up carrying over 12,000 to England for the war.

John was so good at what he did that he was eventually transferred to the Royal Air Force despite being Canadian. "They still looked on Canadians as colonials and they treated you that way, but they knew I was a pretty good pilot," John said. John stayed with the RAF squadron from May 1944 until the end of the war. "When the invasion of Europe started, we did a lot of operations across the English channel," John said. "We lost a lot of men." John and the Royal Air Force moved from Normandy to Belgium and from Belgium to Holland before moving into Germany.

When the war ended in April 1945, John recalls thinking to himself, "I pretty much used up my nine lives now. I think I'll go back to Canada."

Back home, John obtained a degree in Business Administration from the University of Toronto, worked for Avro Aircraft for eight years and then worked for the Ministry of Revenue for the next 28.

John retired in 1983. He has three beautiful daughters, has celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary with his wife and will be 90 on his next birthday. "Life is good as far as I'm concerned," John said.