Bomber Command Aircrew Chronicles
Born in Scotland, Bill Hume had trained as an air-gunner at Carnarvon in Wales for six weeks when, by-passing the normal training at an OTU, he was posted directly to 51 Squadron. "We're short of gunners," Bill was told. "You're going right to a squadron." He flew nineteen operations with 51 as Bernard "Bunny" Clayton's rear-gunner.
"After the Dams Raid, 617 needed fresh crews so they picked them out and Bunny was one of them. So he said, 'I'll go on one condition-that I can take my crew with me.' They said, 'That's no problem.' So that day, boy, we were cleaned out of that station. We didn't even have to check out."
When asked, "Did you want to go, even though they'd just lost all those crews?"" Bill's immediate reply was, "Yeah. We never even queried it. We just said, 'Let's go.'"
Like the original Dams Raid crews, the new crews had to do low-level training. Bill recalled,
"We used to go over Lincolnshire at low-level, practicing. If there were low-level aircraft people used to report them-get their number. We were the only squadron that could go low- level and there were no questions. I used to like it. We'd be out there and there'd be someone out in their hay field with their horse and hay rake and they couldn't hear us coming. When you went over them the bloody horse was gone!"
During the next year, Bill and his crew flew on a wide variety of special operations including low-level raids, the dropping of 12,000 pound "Tallboy" bombs, special operations in support of the French Resistance, precision attacks on factories in occupied France, a diversionary tactical success during the early hours of D-Day, and attacks on U-Boat pens and V-1 Flying Bomb sites.
Bunny Clayton's first operation with 617 Squadron was a raid to Italy following which they landed at Blida in North Africa. Bill recalled, "We had a ball. Coming back we were loaded with groceries, bringing stuff back from the guys that were there. When we were there the skipper came up and said, 'Bill, you've got to go to the Medical Officer.' I said, 'Now what have I done?' He said, 'Oh you'll find out.' I went into the Medical Officer and it was Jim Trainor, the doctor from my home town in Kelso, southeast of Edinburgh. He says, 'Will you do me a favour Bill? Take this home to the wife.' It was three or four pairs of silk stockings."
Following his 49th operation, Bill was told by Leonard Cheshire, 617's c/o, that he had done enough and was being taken off of combat duty. Bill protested, saying that he'd like to complete an even fifty. Cheshire told him, "No, that might be the one."
Bill settled in Claresholm, Alberta following the war and became an enthusiastic supporter of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada. In 2010, Bill unveiled our new signage as the name of the museum was changed from the "Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum" to the "Bomber Command Museum of Canada."
The museum is honoured to display Bill's flying jacket, logbook, and Distinguished Flying Medal.