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October 27, 2020

Veterans News

Remember Everyone Deployed

Canadian WWII Ace Don Laubman

3 min read

There was a job that had to be done and we did it. Hesitate to say, to use that word, but we enjoyed doing it. Lieutenant General Donald Laubman trained and flew in Hurricane 5389, that is currently being restored by the Calgary Mosquito Society. He went on to be a Spitfire pilot and an RCAF ace with a credit of 15 enemy kills. At that stage, we’re so happy to be there flying fighters. The speed and maneuverability of a fighter plane was very attractive and it all added up, fighter pilot. Over six consecutive missions, Laubman downed eight enemy aircraft and damaged two more. There was quite a little battle going on there for three days. In fact, every time I flew during that period, we ran into aircraft and that was something that seldom happened.

The very last aircraft that I shot down had sort of force landed in a field and I came down and strafed him. I looked up, and here, you know, the high tension lines, there’s one right here and I should have hit it. I thought for a split second about going under the wires and then no, I pulled back on the stick as hard as I could and there was a great big bang. I thought, “Uh oh, I’ve hit it”, but the aircraft was okay. We got home and everything was fine. Throughout all this, you had, certainly in my case, had to be very, very lucky. There was a half a dozen times that I should not have escaped.

Air firing is a little different and difficult. You’re not shooting at the aircraft, you’re shooting way ahead of it. You can sneak up behind them and that’s what you would strive to do. If they saw you and reacted then yes, you’re in a situation now. On April 14, 1945, Laubman’s luck changed. He fired on two enemy vehicles from his Spitfire. Now I’m pretty low and close, break off and I’m passing right across from maybe 15 or 20 feet above them and they exploded. They’re gas trucks in a massive ball of fire and I’m right in the middle of this thing.

I come out the other side and my aircraft now is totally black; Windscreen, canopy, totally black. There was quite a bump; a blast when the explosion occurred. I climbed to 7000 feet and I could see the temperature starting to rise which means the engine is now starting to heat up. I carried on until it got hot, in fact caught fire, and I had to jump out. Too low, I was about 800 feet when I let go, hit the tail plane as I was going out. He was captured and taken as a POW for the remaining three weeks of war. That’s the way the war ended for me. I think we were involved in the war, period. We did our share. That’s it. I wound up with 15 destroyed. After the war, Laubman continued his career with the RCAF, retiring in 1972 at the rank of Lieutenant General. I flew every, I think every fighter plane that the RCAF had up to and including the 104 and I liked them all, every one of them.

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