Burma Star Association
Burma Star Association

Sidney Martin's Memories

Like so many other young, eager types, Sid Martin joined the R.C.A.F. in August 1941. What lie didn't tell the recruiting officer, was that he lead been born in January 1925 and was just past his 16th birthday - not quite legal size. 


He  must have spun a convincing story, for he was accepted into the R.C.A.F. as an airframe mechanic. Possibly the fact that he was at the time working as a truck driver for the Commercial Truck Co. of New Westminster, steered him in that direction. Also Sid had been to T.J.Tapp Technical School, after attending Lister Kelvin School in New Westminster. 


In any case, the Air force took three months to declare him underage and put him back in the civilian market. Sid bided his time, until reaching the ripe old age of 17 1/2 plus a few clays, and re-enlisted; this time as aircrew. Possibly, because of his rather limited education, or because air gunners were in short supply, he was enrolled as a W.A.G. and promptly sent via #3 Manning Pool, Edmonton to #3 Wireless School in Winnipeg, then on to #8 B & G Lethbridge, #2 A.O.S. Edmonton and finally to #32 O.T.U. at Pat Bay, B.C. 


While at #2 A.O.S. at Edmonton, Sid was instructing navigators and nearly ended his career there. The old Mark 1 Anson lost an engine during a navigation exercise, and although everyone had been assured that the Anson would fly on one, this one didn't prove up to the task, ending up as a crash landing in the badlands of southern Alberta. The kite was a total write off, but the crew was of sterner stuff, (or much luckier) for they all survived. 


After that, what could overseas have to offer in the way of adventure?. Sid did not have too long to find the answer. From #32 O.T.U. he was posted in April 1944 to Dorval, for advanced training on the old goony bird, to prepare the crew for an Atlantic ferry via Gander, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland. The old DC3 took this all in its stride, although it took 27 hours of flying to complete the crossing. The weather was at its normal worst, making the sight and feel of the solid land of the U.K. especially reassuring. 


But even there, a posting to the Far East, seemed like a reprieve from doodle bug alley and a trip by the renowned Sunderland, a flight in the right direction. Front Tenby in Wales, to #52 R.A.F. squadron at Dum Dum, India, must have been another long grind, but to trade that grand flying boat for the motley collection of airplanes then comprising #52 Squadron - must have been a come down. 


However, all these work horses had been pressed into service flying; "the hump" into Kunming. Sid did 12 of these trips, along with supply flights to tile 14th army, which was pushing the Japs down from Imphal to Rangoon and beyond. In all he did 290 operational hours, rose through the ranks to that of F.O. and added the Burma Star to the 1939/45 Star, C.V.S.M., Victory Medal and China War Memorial Medal. (Total flying time1330 hours) 


Repatriated in September 1945, a long ship's passage to England and a short one to Canada, landed hint back home on January 20th, 10 days short of his 21st birthday. 


Sid had lost a lot of sports playing time, but unlike many of those who returned, he was able to quickly make up, for during the next 35-1/2 years with the New Westminster Fire Department, he found time to play lacrosse for the famous Salmon Bellies of New West., played world class softball (participating in 4 world tournaments) until 1962 and played senior basketball up to 1962. Not many of the boys can tie that record. 


Sid and Esther have been married over 52 years, another good record. Their daughter Jackie also took to the air, signing on as a stewardess with Pacific Western Airlines, while son Wayne works for the Government as a Labour Relations Officer.

When you go home

tell them of us and say,

For your tomorrow,

we gave our today

Lt Gen Slim at Fort Dufferin, Mandalay, in March 1945 Lt Gen Slim at Fort Dufferin, Mandalay, in March 1945
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