Walter Carter served during the Second World War as part of the Royal Air Force number 487 New Zealand Squadron from 1942 to 1944. Remembrance Day is particularly meaningful to him because in March 1943 he lost his crew while training in Norfolk, England. Three of his ‘dear friends’ were killed that day, and he says he thinks of them all year long. (Craig Tompkins/Submitted)

Remembering friends who were lost

Walter Carter was part of the Royal Air Force from 1942 to 1944

Retired Flight Sergeant Walter Carter still remembers the day he lost his crew while training in Norfolk, England.

It was March 3, 1943 and Carter was 20 years old.

Carter said he was training with his crew when they crashed. He said he hadn’t even gone up on an operation yet.

“I’m the only survivor,” Carter said. “That’s why Remembrance Day means so much to me because I lost my three buddies in one accident.”

Carter said he had a lot of friends on his tour as well as some in different crews.

“They’re all dear friends of mine, or they were,” Carter said.

Carter, who is now 96, said he thinks about his friends all year long.

Carter was part of the Royal Air Force number 487 New Zealand Squadron.

He grew up in Southern Ontario and said work was tough and hard to find.

When he was 17 years old, Carter said he signed up for the air force but was sent away on leave for one year until he could be called up when he was 18.

In October 1942, Carter went overseas.

“Everything was new, everybody was the same age,” Carter said. “We were just a bunch of kids.”

Carter said at that age, he didn’t think about getting killed at the time. He said it was an opportunity to see the world.

Carter is not sure how long he was in the hospital after the crash.

He said he remembers walking out of the hospital at the air base, sore and bruised but without any broken bones.

“I went back to our quarters on the base,” Carter said. “All my buddies’ gear and stuff was there.”

He said he hung around for three or four days before taking off to Scotland for two weeks leave.

When he returned, Carter said he flew with various crews in eight different trips.

He served until January 1944.

Carter said he still remembers the big thumps in the aircraft and remembers how frightened he was while in them.

“It’s terrifying,” Carter said. “It’s weird sounds, the thunk, thunk. The smell of cordite and shells. That sounds dramatic but it’s the truth.”

Carter said he becomes very solemn and teary-eyed on Remembrance Day.

“I can salute the guys,” Carter said. “You don’t dwell on it but you respect them.”

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