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Second World War tail gunner bringing memoir to Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum

Riverheights Terrace resident Doug Christie holds an old portrait of himself that sits on the retirement home’s Wall of Honour, commemorating veterans that reside there, in this April photo. Christie, who served as a tail gunner during the Second World War, will be selling and signing copies of his new memoir, “Some Experience,” at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum on Remembrance Day at 2 p.m.

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Riverheights Terrace resident Doug Christie holds an old portrait of himself that sits on the retirement home’s Wall of Honour, commemorating veterans that reside there, in this April photo. Christie, who served as a tail gunner during the Second World War, will be selling and signing copies of his new memoir, “Some Experience,” at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum on Remembrance Day at 2 p.m.

Flipping through the pages of his wartime memoirs, Doug Christie pointed to a photo of an aircraft and quipped, "Here’s the office."

The Second World War veteran, now 97 years old, served as a tail gunner during the war. The "office," as he called it, was a Boulton Paul Type E Turret. Christie completed 30 missions by the time the war ended in 1945.

Christie recently received the first shipment of his memoir, "Some Experience," just in time for Remembrance Day. He will be at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum on Friday at 2 p.m., where he will sell and sign copies of his book.

Stephen Hayter, executive director of the CATPM, said Christie is the perfect guest for their Remembrance Day event, and a living reminder of what the memorial day is all about.

"There won’t be too many more chances to have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a World War Two veteran, so we thought it would be a neat opportunity," Hayter said.

As The Brandon Sun reported last May, the book came about thanks to an incidental friendship at a Brandon retirement home. Christie met Joan Dillon who was visiting her mother at Riverheights Terrace.

They talked about Christie’s wartime experiences, and he showed her a package of handwritten notes.

Christie kept records of his missions, and made a point to collect the newspaper the day "after each operation."

Together, Christie and Dillon worked on the book, with some historical context added in. Christie served with the No. 6 Royal Canadian Air Force Group Bomber Command after joining at the age of 21. It was his job to defend the bombers from enemy fire, from his perch in a turret located at the rear of the aircraft.

He originally wanted to share his stories for his children, but after some encouragement decided to sell it to a wider audience.

"Joan talked me into publishing it, and selling it — so we’re doing it," Christie said, adding Dillon did a "crackerjack job of arranging it."

Dillon is originally from Hamiota, and has lived in the Netherlands for more than 40 years.

"A lot of Doug’s flights I’m sure went right over here on the way to Germany," Dillon said in a telephone interview on Wednesday from Enschede, near the German border.

Dillon said she enjoyed working on the project, helping with research and learning about the war along the way.

"It’s very interesting, and just to imagine what they went through … I mean they were flying these missions in the night, and cooped up in these turrets, and my goodness, it really was quite the thing."

Dillon also spoke about a war cemetery near her home which has 1,394 Canadian soldiers buried there.

"Everybody’s got stories about the war, and I visit the cemetery every year out of respect," she said. "The interest in it hasn’t waned, and I think that’s really great because we mustn’t forget what can happen and what these fellows went through."

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @jillianaustin

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 10, 2016

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Flipping through the pages of his wartime memoirs, Doug Christie pointed to a photo of an aircraft and quipped, "Here’s the office."

The Second World War veteran, now 97 years old, served as a tail gunner during the war. The "office," as he called it, was a Boulton Paul Type E Turret. Christie completed 30 missions by the time the war ended in 1945.

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Flipping through the pages of his wartime memoirs, Doug Christie pointed to a photo of an aircraft and quipped, "Here’s the office."

The Second World War veteran, now 97 years old, served as a tail gunner during the war. The "office," as he called it, was a Boulton Paul Type E Turret. Christie completed 30 missions by the time the war ended in 1945.

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