- Contributed by
- People in story:
- William Orson Rublee
- Location of story:
- skies over Germany
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 11 May 2004
One of six sons and two daughters of a poor prairie doctor in Western Canada Uncle Bill was one of my mother's big brothers. At family gatherings when I was growing up I liked the way would ask me in his quiet manner what I was up to then actually listen as I told him. Few other adults did that and, as youngest of five brothers with a baby sister to add insult to my numberous injuries, I of course would do anything for Uncle Bill. This meant keeping his glass of whiskey full with trips to whatever makeshift bar had been set up on site; they never went anywhere without their tipple, those Rublee boys didn't. As the evening went on Uncle Bill would get louder and louder, and soon would start with stories of his days as a bomber pilot. Mostly anecdotes of drunken sprees on leave, he would for some reason speak with a Scottish accent. But by the end of the night he would try to speak of one mission or another over France or Germany, and he'd get real quiet, and end up staring off into space. At this point my aunt would take his empty glass from his hand and give it to me to hold while she helped him out to the car.
Over the years I must have witnessed this scene a dozen times. I became a history buff and read voraciously of those terrible battles in the skies over Europe. Once or twice I tried to ask Uncle Bill about them but he just told me there wasn't much point and then he'd turn away.
Uncle Bill died suddenly, at age 60, of a heart attack while climbing the stairs from his basement.
Some years later while helping to move my mother to a personal care home I found a clipping from a newspaper. It showed a smiling kid with an angular nose, cap at a jaunty angle, looking all of 16. The clipping announced the award to Flight Officer W.O. Rublee, RCAF, son of Dr and Mrs Rublee of Allan, Saskatchewan, of the Distinguished Flying Cross, for keeping his blazing bomber in the air while seven of his crew bailed out before he jumped from the craft.
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