Remembering their stories: Bob Pratt

Born in Toronto in 1921, as a young boy Bob Pratt’s family moved West. His father worked for the railway and so Robert, his two older sisters, mother and father when he was home, spent a few years living on Bowen Island. 

At 19 Bob volunteered to serve in the Second World War. Part of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Robert became a pilot out of Halifax, coincidentally flying with the 424 Halifax squadron. 

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Over the course of the war, Bob flew 49 missions, when the average was a good 20 fewer than that. 

At 22 Bob received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Germans had hit his Halifax with a direct blast as the plane was returning to England after bombing Berlin. The plane’s engineer died immediately and the plane was severely damaged. Bob could have chosen to fly to Sweden, but said later that he wanted to return the engineer to England and he (Bob) was getting married that weekend, so they headed for Britain. The injured plane and crew (Bob had sustained a head injury) just made it over the white cliffs of Dover to safety. Over the course of the war Bob won five other medals for valor and flying. 

In the last few weeks of the war Bob was a wing commander, an instructor for new pilots arriving.

Like many veterans, Bob didn’t like to talk the war but participated in many Royal Canadian Legion events. 

Bob lived out most of his adult life in Ontario, at one point working for Volkswagen, an ironic turn of events as he’d bombed the Wolfsburg Volkswagen plant during the war. 

He was featured in the Knowledge Network series Warriors of the Night.

Bob died in 1998 from cancer. 

-As told by Bob Pratt Jr. (son) 

© Copyright 2018 Bowen Island Undercurrent

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