Air force vet recalls combat operation that ended his war

During the Second World War, Sydney Phillips served in the RCAF as a wireless air-gunner. (Sydney Phillips In Uniform_E)

Sydney Phillips’s war ended in the water half a world away.

“I saw a water spout up behind me and said, ‘Uh oh,’” he said. “I was sitting in a lift behind two machine guns. (I) couldn’t get out. The plane must have broken in half behind me because the next thing I knew I pitched forward and I was floating in the Mediterranean.”

Sydney Phillips, 90, resides at the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged, at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.

He joined the RCAF right after he graduated from high school in 1939. He trained as a wireless air-gunner. Training took nine months and the air force chose where his training would take place.

“They took the boys from the East and sent them out West and sent the boys from the West out East. I was sent to Calgary,” he said.

Sydney Phillips holds photo from his service in the air force. He is a resident of the Baycrest Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. (Sydney Now_E1)

His last combat operation took place off the Italian island of Sicily. His warplane was attempting to delay enemy ships bound for the front lines in North Africa.

Phillips survived his plunge into the Mediterranean. He was rescued by an Italian fisherman and then spent 18 months in a prisoner-of-war camp.