84-year-old World War II veteran Eric Grove.

84-year-old World War II veteran Eric Grove.

WWII veteran recalls being taken prisoner

CTV.ca News Staff

Most movies portray war as glory-filled. But when you speak with people like veteran Eric Grove you get a different picture.

The 84-year-old World War II veteran was a bomber pilot with Britain's Royal Air Force. It was a dangerous service -- there were more than 100,000 in the bomber command, including members of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Approximately half of them were killed or captured.

Grove's Avro Lancaster was shot down over Berlin in 1943. He survived the crash and spent two years as a prisoner of war -- one of 9,000 Canadians who were held by the enemy.

"If the war had gone on a few more months I would have died, there's no question about that," Grove says.

Each Remembrance Day, he recalls the friends who didn't survive.

"There wasn't too much happiness about Remembrance Day, not for me," he told CTV News. "I usually don't go to Remembrance services, because they choke me up too much."

Grove flew a Avro Lancaster, which was arguably one of the most famous Allied bombers of the war. "Each plane was 63,000 pounds and it could carry a bomb load of 20,000 pounds," Grove recalls. "That's an enormous load for a plane that size."

Today Grove is helping Hamilton's Canadian Wartime History Museum teach younger generations about the war.

There are only two Avro Lancasters still flying today. One of them is at the Hamilton museum -- and it will be in the air on Remembrance Day.

The Lancaster was originally built at the Victory Aircraft factory in Malton. Volunteers at the Toronto Aerospace Museum in Downsview are currently refurbishing a Lancaster, to be completed some time, they say, in the next few years.

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