Looking back on my tour of 35 bombing operations I have many memorable and raw moments, but the chances of this one happening, I suggest is "one in a million".

This story began back on a bombing operation on Bohlen, near Leipzig, our target was an oil refinery. I had often wondered what it would be like in an aircraft once it had been damaged by a “German Night Fighter” or hit by flak; how would the crew react with the realization they were going down?

At the time my crew were nearing the end of our "Tour Of Operations", and we could have been classified as a "Seasoned Crew", but nothing could prepare me for what happened that night.

When we arrived over the target, the Master Bomber was in complete control, I remember his clear commands to the Pathfinders directing them to drop their various colored flares in their role of "marking the target". Then the Master Bomber calmly announced in the clearest, coolest voice imaginable "Damn, I've been hit, I'm going down, number 2 take over”. A voice came on stating he was Number 2, followed by a second voice claiming he was Number 2 ....then all hell broke loose with a lot of yelling and clear chaos. Not surprisingly, the operation was abandoned, and later classified as being unsuccessful. What amazed me though, was the voice of the Master Bomber; there was no panic, no shouting, he seemed to be more concerned with his responsibility of passing on his command to Number 2, than the fact he was on his way down. It was the calm, collected, controlled nature of his voice that has made it one of the most vivid memories of my tour of thirty-five bombing operations.

Over the years I have often thought of this Master Bomber and whether he may have survived that frightful night. There was always the hope that he may have. By chance a couple of years ago at a meeting of the Ontario Air Crew Association there was a book sale being held prior to the meeting. I stumbled upon and purchased a copy of "The Bomber Command War Diaries”. It was through this publication that I was able to identify the Master Bomber as Wing Commander E. A. Benjamin, D.F.C. and Bar, and that he is buried in the Berlin War Cemetery. To say I am saddened to learn that he had died is an understatement. At every Mass I have attended over the years, (and I have attended many!), I have included him in my prayers said with those for my fallen comrades. Each time, I hoped that he may well have gone down but survived the hit.

Now this is not the end of my story,… following our return from the recent unveiling of the Bomber Command memorial in London, England, I visited the website and began reading the comments. Imagine my surprise when I came across one written by a Jeannie Benjamin who had attended the unveiling of the memorial in respect of her father Wing Commander Eric A. Benjamin! I was thrilled. I immediately checked Facebook, and sure enough her page appeared. I sent her a message, but after a week or so with no reply and recognizing there was not a great deal of activity on her Facebook wall, I decided to check her friends that were listed. It was then I found her sister, Sally. I sent her a message, and within a few days I received a reply that she and her sister were gobsmacked to receive my message. They asked to tell them more and so I promised to write out this story that I have carried over all these years describing what I remember when their Dad and I were both in the skies over Bohlen on the night of February 19/20, 1945.

Jeannie and Sally were just wee ones at the time of their father’s tragic death; Jeannie, a toddler of two years and Sally, only two months old. They are overjoyed in finding me, one person who remembers hearing the last words spoken by their Dad, and I am ecstatic in finding "my Master Bomber's" family to share my indirect, but profound experience with those who love him the most. I've agreed to try to answer any question they might have about this time in history,…a silver lining in a very dark ominous cloudy sky.

Another interesting connection that I have with W/C Benjamin is that we both share the same birthday.... June 27th. At the time of the bombing over Bohlen he was twenty- five and I was twenty. May he rest in peace eternally.

Fraser A. Muir
August 14, 2012