Veteran Stories:
Del Nelson Budd

Air Force

  • Delbert Budd and his wife, picture of RCAF Diploma, 1995.

    Delbert N. Budd
  • Flight Log Book of Delbert Budd, 1945. Pages noting the transportation of Nursing Sisters.

    Delbert N. Budd
  • Flight Log Book of Delbert Budd, 1945. Pages noting the transportation of POW's, as well as totals for his tour.

    Delbert N. Budd
  • Newspaper Clipping: Group of Allied war prisoners awaiting air transport from Bangkok to India.

    Delbert N. Budd
  • Log Book of Delbert Budd, September 1943.

    Delbert N. Budd
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"And it took about an hour to convince these nurses when we’re flying that I was really the pilot. So to pacify them, I took them down, oh, maybe about 15 feet off the ground so they could get good pictures"


I’m Dell Budd, Delbert N. Budd, BUDD. And I’m 85 years old. I was born in Guelph, Ontario, 85 years ago I guess. But the first time I actually flew, I had eight hours on Tiger Moths in Oshawa [Ontario]. And then they send you out solo and you know, you get up there and you think, taking off isn’t bad, but you think, my gosh, I’ve got to get this thing back down onto the ground again. So you know, I did my circuit and landed and a few more circuits and now I felt, well, maybe I can fly after all.

When I started with 117 Squadron, we were actually supplying the British 14th Army. I made a list one time of some of the things we carried and we carried fuel in like large containers and we dropped those with parachutes, so that they wouldn’t hit too hard. Then other things like mule feed, sugar, salt, stuff like that, that could be contained within another bag, we dropped those from about 25 feet off the ground, so that they would roll. If you were up too high, the trajectory changes and they would drop straight down and burst open.

And we carried ammunition and one of the nicest loads I carried, the day after the British took Mandalay[March 1945] back from the Japanese, I landed with 6,000 pounds of beer and whiskey. So I got a good reception there. Sometimes we would land, sometimes we would drop free, sometimes we’d drop by parachute. And then a place called Mithila [India] was an interesting place because the British would have it during the day and then they’d go back to their dugout for the night-time and the Japanese would take it over. So then the British in the morning would have to fight to get the runway back again. And if we got there too soon, we had to circle before we could land until they took it back from the Japanese.

A lot of the drops that we did where in amongst the hills, that’s where the British 14th Army were moving. And we would go down and they would shoot it at you from being in the hills. Like we would be lower in the plains than what these Japanese would be in the hill. And they shot and they hit four guys in my plane, just flesh wounds but it was kind of exciting at the time.

In the Near East, if they did 75 OPS [operation] hours, they had to have a medical check. But we were so busy supporting the British 14th army that in the first five days of March, 1945, I think I had put in about 50 hours alone, just in, in a few days. But we, we would take off early in the morning, they’d wake us up 4:00, we had a batman [soldier assigned to commissioned officer] who would wake us. And we’d take off about 5:30 and our last landing, after doing maybe three trips in one day, we would come in about 9:00 at night. I tell you, we were tired. We could hardly move. You know, you’re on duty for such a long time.

A typical flight, we would take off and not run into anything too exciting. And as a matter of fact, we put, I put the automatic pilot on and we had a box between myself and my co-pilot and my navigator would sit on another box and we’d play cards. But then there are other things, like we, our Wireless Operator was always listening in when we’re on an operation. And if there was going to be some Japanese planes in our area and they designated these areas as green area, blue area, red area, they would warn him, or warn all people who are listening in, said there were enemy aircraft in that area and we’d just go in the clouds. We had no arms onboard a Dakota [Douglas C-47 Skyplane], so we couldn’t fight back or anything, so we’d just go in the clouds.

It’s funny, my crew, I was 20, my co-pilot was 23, my Wireless Operator was 27 and my Navigator was 23. So we called my Wireless Operator, we called him father. I have mostly good memories, some not so good, you know. The flying was horrendous in the monsoons. It was very dangerous. I think we lost more planes in the monsoons than we ever did with enemy action. My first Navigator was Buck Newell from Nova Scotia and I was to fly with a new crew to show them what to do when they get over a dropping zone. And the, the CO [Commanding Officer] and the adjutant were going in to Calcutta, so the adjutant asked me if I would sit in his office and look after it for the day. So my Navigator went instead. It’s just a coaching thing anyway. And that crew didn’t come back.

And it was a funny thing out there, if you change anybody in your crew, it was almost for sure bad luck. And I made a mistake, I was standing on the tailgate of a truck, they call them lorries in the RAF [Royal Air Force] and watching a glider come in when we were up northwest India, and I got hit in the neck with a telephone wire, some kind of a wire, and it burned across my neck. So there’s a few days I couldn’t fly, I had my neck all bound up. But my crew wouldn’t fly with anybody else because it’s bad luck. So I flew with a bandaged neck. So you know, those are idiosyncrasies that you pick up and they prove themselves right more than wrong.

One of the things we did, because we were transport planes, we were, two crews were invited up to Camilla to fly some nurses down to Rangoon [Myanmar]. And the ground crew guys were pretty excited, all these nurses floating around, we didn’t often see women. So I said to my crew, let’s have some fun. So I switched my jacket with my Navigator and my co-pilot switched his with the Wireless Operator. And we pretended we were flipping, to see who was going to fly. And of course, my Navigator, I’m wearing a Navigator jacket, I say, “Oh, I’m going to be first pilot.” And my co-pilot with a Wireless Operator jacket on says, “Oh yeah, I’m going to be second pilot.” So the other two sat back with the nurses when we’re taking off and we’re going down the runway and getting up even, I looked at my air speed, which was at zero and that’s not a good way to fly. So I closed the throttles, put on the brakes as well as I could and actually did a ground loop at the end of the runway and taxied back. And the ground crew had forgotten to take the pitot cover off the pitot tube. The pitot tube is the thing that sticks out front and gives you your air speed. And it took about an hour to convince these nurses when we’re flying that I was really the pilot. So to pacify them, I took them down, oh, maybe about 15 feet off the ground so they could get good pictures of a couple of pagodas.

Well, it is funny, you know, you have to look at the funny side or you go around moping all the time.

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