Brian Winspear - A believer in fate
2 and 13 Squadron both travelled together. 2 Squadron was at Kupang and 13 Squadron was at…I'll think of the place in a minute, and the Japs were really giving them Hell and they'd wiped out half their squadron and they wanted some more aircrew. 2 Squadron had to send them three crews of four to make up for all the people they'd lost and so my name was on the board to go to, I'll think of the name in a minute.
My name was on the board to go so I packed up my bags, my kit bag etc and got all ready to go and the CO called me in, and he said, "I've got a problem. There's another wireless air-gunner who says he's senior to you and all his mates are going. He wants to go. Would you mind if he takes your place?"
Well, that suited me fine because it meant that I was in a crew at the time with Norm Lamb, it meant me getting used to a new crew and so on. I went back to my old job at the time. I was sitting, you know those very high radio masts that go into the clouds. I was up one of those radio masts with an Aldis lamp communicating with an American cruiser that was down in the bay about two or three Ks away and I was right on the edge of the strip and watched this plane take off with the twelve blokes in and about half way down the strip I said to myself, "They're in big bloody trouble" because the tail wheel was still on the ground and it should have been up flying and I said, "They're in big trouble".
They only got so far as the end of the strip and they went straight up 200 feet and straight down and the twelve blokes just cooked right in front of my eyes. And then I became quite a believer in fate because if I had have kicked against the system and said, "Bugger him, I want to go"
I would have been one of them. The irony of that is that every time when we were flying when I was sitting behind the pilot, behind the pilot was a radio desk and time and time again when we were taking off and I'd look around and the pilot would have the stick hard forward to try and get the tail up and I'd turn around and yell at the blokes, when we were carrying passengers, yell at the blokes, you know, down there, "For God's sake come up". I'd scream at them "Come up" and we'd survive.
The irony is if I had have gone and if I had have noticed the pilot was having trouble getting the tail up and I screamed to the blokes to come up it may not have happened. The worst part about it was that all the people had they not have died, that they would have died further up the line.