Canada 150 Vignette Series
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Vignettes
PART VI: Nos. 26-30
By Greg Sigurdson/Bill Hillman
26. Station Magazines - "Target" Mossbank SK, ~ September 1944
27. BCATP Aircraft ~ The Airspeed Oxford
28. BCATP A World War II Memory: Stan Reynolds - Pilot - Part 1 of 3
29. BCATP A World War II Memory: Stan Reynolds - Pilot - Part 2 of 3
30. BCATP A World War II Memory: Stan Reynolds - Pilot - Part 3 of 3
Continued in PART VII: Nos. 31-35
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Station Magazines - "Target" Mossbank SK ~ September 1944
Message from the Commanding OfficerAlways it is the right spirit that counts: "Esprit do Corps", it is called in the Service. It is no secret that the Spirit of Mossbank is the right spirit andúthat which has made it possible for you to retain first place in the awarding of the Minister for Air's Efficiency Pennant. You, each one of you -Officer, N.C.O., airmam, airwoman and civilian alike -
are the components of the Spirit of Mossbank. Your efficiency and cheerfulness in work, your good sportsmanship in play and recreation, your pride in No. 2 B&G and your devotion to the R.C.A.F. are reflected in the top position you hold amongst Bombing and Gunnery Schools in Canada.
In all of my twenty-plus years of service, I have never before had the pleasure of associatingúwith men and women of your type: men and women who work so well together and whose interests in work and recreation are centred on the Unit in which you serve - No, 2 B&G School. You can be justly proud every time you look at that weather-worn "E" Flag flying at the flag-staff on the parade square. To say the very least, I am proud to be one of you.
For the past three-quarters of the year you have earned the right to fly that pennant. By your continued loyalty and co-operation in the effort being made to tum out the' best trained bombers and gunners from Canada, you can retain it for the next quarter. Should you succeed in doing just that, we will have the honor of closing the doors of this Station to bombing and gunnery training at the end of this year with that fine old wind-torn flag still flying.
I sincerely thank you for what you have already done and pledge my help in your further effort.
E. C. TENNANT, G/C., Commanding Officer
Mossbank Still the Best B&G
A picture of the Efficiency Pennant, awarded to indicate that Mossbank received premier honors again amongst B.&G. Schools in Canada for the quarter April to June, is presented to Group Captain E. C. Tennant, Commanding Officer, No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School, by Air Commodore B. F. Johnston of No. 4 Training Command, Calgary.
The Salute at the March Past
Air Commodore Johnston takes the salute at the march past following the Efficiency Pennant presentation ceremony. This is the second time in succession that No.2 B. & G. Scnool has won this premier award.
Previous to that, Mossbank won honorable mention, and then the runners-up pennant.
During a recent visit to the Station the Command Photographer snapped the above pictures of three sets of sisters and the Station majorettes.
TOP LEFT: Leading Air Women Peggy and Mary Chase of Regina
TOP RIGHT: Leading Air Women Thelma and .Pamela Bounds, Rose Valley, Sask.
LOWER LEFT: Majorettes Cpl. Thelma Toddúand Sgt. Finnie Wiebe of Regina
LOWER RIGHT: Leading Air Women Mona and Jene Strange of Brandon, Manitoba.
Air Cadets Visit No. 2 B&GS
This year No. 2 B.&G. School once more became the host of Cadets from the surrounding district, and Calgary. There were two camps held, the first from July 4th to July 14th. It was comprised of squadrons from Assiniboia, Tugaske, Wilcox and Gravelbourg. The second camp was from July 18th to July 28th, and was made up of only one squadron from Calgary.
The boys were a bit green on barrack life and customs, but under the direction of Cpl. W.D. Hoskinson, a P.T. and D.Instructor from No. 4 T.C., the boys had everything shipshape and their beds were made up as well, if not better, than the regular airmen's beds. The C.O. highly commended the Cadets on his inspection.
After the Cadets had more or less become settled, they were welcomed by the Commanding Officer, Group Captain E.C. Tennant, who wished the boys every success in their camp and told the Cadets that everything in the way of training facilities would be at their disposal, and that when they left they would carry with them some useful and practical information so as to make them good airmen of the future.
The Padre and Senior Medical Officer also addressed the boys as if they were incoming trainees, which put them on an equal basis with the airmen.
The first camp came through very well, medically, but the second camp had one case of Scarlet Fever, which kept the other boys in quarantine for a week. However, outdoor classes were arranged úúand the syllabus was fully covered.
The Cadets had regular classes in all Bombing and Gunnery subjects. The time was evenly distributed so as to make the camp as interesting as possible. They saw every section on the Station, toured the Bombing Ranges, did firing with the Browning Gun on the 25-yard Range and heard ex-operational aircrew give accounts of their experiences.
The highlights of the camps came with the familiarization flights. These were made from Navigation Flight, four Cadets going up at a time and lasting from twenty to thirty minutes. Before any of the Cadets could go flying they had to produce a waiver signed by their parents. Out of one hundred and forty Cadets, which comprised the two camps, there were only five who didn't have signed waivers. The boys' only disappointment was the fact that there wasn't more of it, and continually kept asking for more flips. This was the first year that Cadets had been allowed to fly, and it is believed that more flying will be done in the future.
Both camps got away quite satisfactorily. The boys left with regret, all wishing that they could have stayed longer, but were grateful for the fine treatment aand attention accorded them while at No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School.
NOT AT No. I! It's the Russian 11-2 "Stormovik", a low-wing, single seat fighter, powered with a single inline engine. It has a long, thin fuselage with a pointed nose. The trailing edge of the tapered wing flares into the fuselage. The tailplane is diamond shaped with rounded tips.
Which Would You Shoot At?
FIRE AT No. 21 It's the Japs' "Tony", a single seat fighter equipped with an inline engine. Both edges of the low set wings taper almost equally to rounded tips. The leading edge of the tailplane is swept sharply back and the trailing edge is swept forward slightly to rounded tips.
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BCATP: Aircraft ~ The Airspeed Oxford
BCATP Schools Using the Airspeed Oxford Aircraft for training:
The Airspeed Oxford
No. 32 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Oxford)
No. 34 Medicine Hat, Alberta (Harvard and Oxford)
No. 35 North Battleford, Saskatchewan (Oxford)
No. 36 Penhold, Alberta (Oxford)
No. 37 Calgary, Alberta (Oxford, Harvard and Anson)
No. 39 Swift Current, Saskatchewan (Oxford)
The Airspeed Oxford is an advanced twin-engine, three-seat, monoplane aircraft chosen by the Royal Air Force to provide training in navigation, bombing and gunnery and radio operation during World War II, Oxford training was particularly relevant to students to be assigned to bomber aircraft. The aircraft was used by the RAF until 1956. The Oxford was based on Airspeed’s AS.6 Envoy, a eight-seat commercial aircraft. A total of 8,586 were built in Great Britain by Airspeed in Portsmouth (4,411), Airspeed in Christchurch Dorset (550), de Havilland in Hatfield (1,515), Purcival Aircraft in Luton (1,360) and Standard Motors in Coventry (750). Alan Butler, chairman of Airspeed and de Havilland revealed at a that Oxford production peaked in the spring of 1942 at 75 per month.
The normal crew for the Oxford consisted of three airmen. The cockpit had dual controls for a pilot and either a second pilot or navigator. Seating for a navigator was pushed back in the cockpit to give access to a chart table. The extra control set was removed for bomb-aimer training and the space configured for bomb-aiming. The Oxford was configured full time to facilitate wireless operation generally with the third member of the crew being a wireless operator. The Oxford was truly versatile offering training in navigation, bomb-aiming, wireless training, gunnery and camera operation. The Oxford also saw duty as an air ambulance, anti-submarine warfare aircraft and for communications support for RAF and USAF operations.
Initial manufacturing specifications called to two models – the general purpose Mark I with a dorsal gun turret and the Mark II with dual controls but lacking a gun turret. The first Oxford aircraft flew on June 19 1937, A total of 8,586 Airspeed Oxfords were built.
In Canada, the Royal Canadian Air Force ordered 25 Oxfords in 1938 which were shipped to Canada and assembled by Canadian Vickers in Montreal. They were used by the RCAF initially in the Central Flying School but were transferred to the RAF Service Flying Training schools which brought many more from Britain for six of their BCATP RAF schools. The Airspeed Oxford saw service in one form or another in 23 air forces across the world.
Maximum speed for the Oxford is 192 mph with ability to remain airborne for 5.5 hours while flying up to 23,550 ft. When armoured, the Oxford had one Vickers K machine gun mounted in a dorsal turret and was capable of carrying 16 11.5 lb. bombs externally on its wings.
An interesting mostly unknown fact about the Airspeed Company is that it was founded in 1931 by Neville Shute Norway who shortened his name as a novelist to Neville Shute. Having introduced the world to the Airspeed Oxford, Shute continued working as a engineer/inventor as well as fostering his thriving career as a novelist. He was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy working in the government’s Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development. Projects he worked on included the Panjandrum, the giant wheeled cart device designed to destroy concrete fortifications on Hitler’s Atlantic wall and the Rocket Spear, an anti-submarine missile which proved to be successful in naval combat. His writing talents were not overlooked by the Ministry of Information which sent him to the 1944 Normandy Allied Landings and Burma as a correspondent. He retired from military service as a lieutenant commander. Twenty-four of his writing works have been published.
Oxford Aircraft in flight 1944
32 Service Flying Training School, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
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BCATP A World War II Memory: Stan Reynolds - Pilot - Part 1 of 3
In December 2000, the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum received this air force history from Stan Reynolds. It is one chapter out of a book commissioned by the Alberta Department of Culture commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of hostilities in World War II. The book is "For King and Country – Albertans in the Second World War" and Stan’s chapter was in the Albertans Overseas section.
Stan entitled his chapter: "From Air Training to the Defence of Britain: One Pilot's View From Tiger Moths to Mosquitoes."
It is a fascinating by story but much too long for one Canada 150 Vignette so we have split it into three Vignettes with each covering Training in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Training Overseas in an Operational Training Unit and Air Operations overseas.
Part 1 – Training in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
The Reynolds family of Wetaskiwin has always been interested in aviation. My father, Edward A [Ted] Reynolds, was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. My older brother, Byron E. [Bud] Reynolds, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940, and completed a Tour of Operations as a flight engineer on Catalina flying boats. My younger brother, Allan B. [Bert] Reynolds, joined the RCAF in 1943, and served overseas as an air-frame mechanic on Dakotas [C-47s] with 437 Squadron. When I was sixteen years old I joined the Edmonton Fusiliers and trained with E Company at Wetaskiwin during periods that did not conflict with school hours. The two weeks' training at Sarcee Camp in Calgary during the summer months was a great experience, with sleeping in tents and target practice with Ross rifles. In 1941 I was hired as a truck driver for MacGregor Telephone & Power Construction Co. of Edmonton during the time they were installing power lines at the RCAF stations at High River, Claresholm, De Winton, and other locations.
The crews slept in tents and my job was driving and looking after MacGregor's 1928 Ford one-ton truck. At this time a local fellow Dallas Schmidt, home on leave from the RCAF, stopped at my father's garage. I was impressed to see him in his officer's uniform. That dapper uniform and his enviable war record probably increased my desire to join up. Dallas Schmidt received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant while flying Beaufighters during the Defence of Malta. I was in the process of finishing my grade 12 education when, early in 1942, an RCAF recruiting group came to Wetaskiwin and set up a desk in the Driard Hotel. Curiosity and my desire to learn how to fly prompted me to visit the recruiting officer. I was told that I could enlist in the "Pilots and Observers" category, and if I passed the required tests I would be selected for training as a Pilot or Observer. The recruiting officer was quite persuasive and before I left the hotel I had enlisted.
On 15 April 1942 I was called to Edmonton to start training at RCAF No. 3 Manning Depot. I was assigned living quarters in a barracks which housed about fifty airmen, and we slept in two-tier bunks. Except for a few technicians we all started with the rank of AC2 [Aircraftsman second class]. We were issued uniforms, mess kits, sewing kits called "housewives," brass button polishers, shoe shiners, and other gear. We received medical and dental checkups. inoculations, physical training, marching drill, and lessons in airmanship. Each airman made his own bed, polished his buttons, badges and shoes and the entire group received periodic inspections. Everything had to be kept neat and clean, strict discipline was enforced and every man did his stint on guard duty.
When a group of about forty Australian airmen arrived at the Manning Depot they decided to take in some Edmonton city night life, even though they did not have permission to leave the base. They elected to leave the base when I was on guard duty, and when I was near the farthest end of my beat they made a hole in the fence big enough for a man to crawl through. When I turned around at the end of my beat I saw a long lineup of men in their dark blue Australian uniforms, in single file, crawling hurriedly through the hole in the fence. I was carrying a .303 Enfield rifle with fixed bayonet, but no ammunition was allowed for anyone on guard duty. Being quite confident that I would not be able to stop these Australians, I began running towards them, mostly running on the spot, waving my rifle and shouting "Halt in the name of the King." They did not pay any attention to me and when I arrived at the hole in the fence the last Australian was a few feet too far away for me to reach him with the bayonet. Someone else was on guard duty when the Australians returned [probably during the early hours the next morning]. I heard no more about it so I presumed they got back without incident.
During passes I would hop on my 1928 Harley Davidson motorcycle and head for Wetaskiwin, where I spent most of the time building a Model T Ford race car from parts at my father's auto wreckage. The category "Pilots and Observers" was discontinued and all airmen in that category were remustered to "Aircrew." This meant that any airman could be selected for training as a pilot, navigator, bomb aimer, wireless air gunner or air gunner. On 19 July 1942, I was posted to No.7 Initial Training School at Saskatoon. There were 42 airmen in Course #58 and we received classes and tests in mathematics, wireless, navigation, meteorology, armament, anti-gas measures, airmanship, drill, administration, and aircraft recognition. White cloth flashes were placed in the front of our wedge caps to signify that we were aircrew trainees. My Link trainer instructor was a Flying Officer Elder. I passed the Link trainer portion of the course with the grade of 89 per cent which, I was told, was the highest mark in the class. After the final exams each graduate was interviewed individually by the selection committee which, after considering the airman 's abilities, decided which members of air crew should receive
training. I wanted to be a pilot and was pleased to be selected for pilot training
All graduates of the course were promoted to LAC [Leading Aircraftsman] and were given cloth propellers which were sewn on the sleeves of their clothing to indicate their rank. Squadron Leader Fred McCall of Calgary, the famous First World War ace, was one of the officials in the picture when the class photograph was taken. Thirteen of the aircrew in this class were killed on active service.
The graduates were authorized to have a pass the following weekend in early October. The Model T Ford races were being held in Edmonton on Thanksgiving day, 12 October. I had my car entered in the races, and consequently I made an arrangement with the Station Warrant Officer by which I would stay on the station the weekend of 3 October and would receive my pass the following weekend. I was put to work in the station hospital and spent the entire weekend doing undesirable jobs, mostly cleaning washrooms and toilets. I did what I was told to do, I did a good job and I did not complain about anything. When the following weekend arrived I was told all passes were cancelled. Considering that it had taken nearly all of my leave periods during the past five months to complete the assembly of the race car, that it was painted with RCAF lettering and roundels on both sides, that the Edmonton and other newspapers had published write-ups and photographs promoting me and my car in the races, that I had been promised leave to attend the races, and that I had already paid the consideration by working the previous weekend in the hospital, I believed I was entitled to leave to attend the races. When I left the station that weekend without a pass I was considered to be AWL [away without leave].
I proudly raced my car and won second prize in the second race. When I returned to Saskatoon, Squadon Leader Bawlf, the Chief Ground Instructor, announced to other classes that I had gone AWL and was therefore washed out of aircrew. I believe this announcement was to emphasize to other students the consequences before they considered going AWL. As I was now ground crew I was put to work in the camp kitchen where I washed dishes, pots and pans, dished out meals in the mess hall, and scrubbed tables and floors . Once again I did what I was told to do, I did a good job and I did not complain about anything. After two weeks of kitchen duty I was called into the office of Wing Commander Russell, the Commanding Officer. He told me that I was being put back into aircrew and was being sent to No. 6 Elementary Flying Training School at Prince Albert for pilot training. It appeared he had received good reports of my work and discipline while I was on kitchen duty; however, he never asked me why I had gone AWL and I believe he never was fully aware of the reasons.
On 25 October I was posted to EFTS, where I was one of 45 students in Course #67. We were issued flying suits and other items needed for our flying training and ground classes. My first flight in a Tiger Moth biplane was on 28 October; my first solo flight was on 9 November, after receiving eight hours and 45 minutes of dual-flying training. Most of the flying instructors were civilians, and during flights they talked to the students through speaking tubes called Gosports.
On 23 November I was given a 30-hour check by Ernie Boffa, a well known bush pilot who was the Assistant Chief Flying Instructor. During the test I was required to do various manoeuvres, including slow rolls, blind flying [flying by instruments while under a hood], practice forced landings, cross-wind landings, steep turns, tail spins, side slipping, and other exercises. While practising aerobatics during a solo flight on 28 November, an oil line ruptured and I flew back to base with oil spraying on the windscreen. I flew 29 different Tiger Moths at EFTS; my last flight there was on 18 December by which time I had logged 73 hours and 25 minutes flying time on Tiger Moths. In my log book endorsement in the space allocated for "Instructor's remarks on pupil's weakness" was written "no particular faults." My flying grade was 74 per cent, and my assessment was "above average." At least 14 pupils from Course 67 were "washed out," which means their pilot training was terminated. Ten of the students in this course were killed on active service overseas.
Pilot student Stan Reynolds
at No. 6 EFTS, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, December1942.
The Tiger Moth is equipped with skis.
A Gosport hearing-tube needed for in-flight conversation
between instructor and student hangs from his helmet.
Photo courtesy Stanley G. Reynolds.
After completing my elementary training in December, I went home on leave. A U.S. pilot flying a Bell Airacobra fighter experienced engine trouble during a flight to Alaska, baled out and the plane crashed nose first into the ground near Wetaskiwin. Personnel from the US air base at Namao picked up all the parts they could locate, but they left the engine which was buried about 17 feet down in the ground. I took it upon myself to dig out the Allison V 12 engine, the 37 mm cannon that was buried under the engine, live ammunition, propeller, and other gear. When I was digging out the engine a spectator standing nearby threw a cigarette into the hole, causing an explosion of the gas fumes. I came out of the hole so fast I don't know whether I jumped out or was blown out. Not knowing of any useful purpose for the articles, my father notified U.S. officials who sent an army truck to pick up the remains of the Airacobra.
On 10 January 1943 I was posted to No.4 Service Flying Training School at Saskatoon, where I was placed in Course #72 with 61 other student pilots. We were learning to fly twin-engine Cessna Cranes, and my flying instructor was Pilot Officer Macintyre. My first solo in a Crane was on 24 January, after receiving eight hours and 40 minutes dual-training. During a solo flight on 7 April the fuel pump quit in the starboard engine. I flew back to base on one engine and made a successful single engine landing. My last flight in a Crane was 22 April, by which date I had logged 166 hours and 40 minutes twin-engine day-and-night flying time. By then I also had logged 35 hours in the Link trainer, not including my Link time at ITS. At least 14 pupils in Course 72 were washed out. Not every pilot received his wings on the parade square. A day or two before this important occasion I was stricken with appendicitis and taken to the base hospital where I received an appendectomy.
As I was not allowed to leave the hospital bed, my pilot wings were pinned on my pyjamas by an officiating officer from high command. In attendance were my instructor, other graduating pilots from my course, the doctor and nurse, various officials from the base and my very proud father. This was one of the most thrilling experiences in my air force career. I had graduated from SFTS flying twin-engine Cessna Cranes, and was now a full-fledged pilot. In my log book endorsement in the space allocated for "Instructors remarks on pupil's weakness" was written "High average student, should do well in all future flying." I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Fifteen of the students in this class were killed - on active service overseas.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Stan Reynolds was a legend in the museum and aviation community in Canada. After his Royal Canadian Air Force Service in World War II, Stan returned to his home in Wetaskiwin Alberta and grew a very successful automobile and farm machinery business. His words in the story indicate that he acquired the 'collector bug' early in his life. He amassed a huge collection of vintage automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, stationary engines, tractors, agricultural implements, aircraft and industrial equipment of which 1500 items were donated as a start to the Reynolds-Alberta museum in Wetaskiwin Alberta. Among other honours, he was inducted in the Aviation Hall of Fame in 2009 and named to the Order of Canada in 1999.
Reynolds died in February of 2012 at the age of 88 years and his wife Hallie, passed away in August 2012 at the age of 85 years.
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BCATP A World War II Memory: Stan Reynolds - Pilot - Part 2 of 3
Part 2 – Training Overseas in a OTU (Operational Training Unit)
I went home on embarkation leave prior to leaving for overseas. I boarded a train with other airmen, and arrived at No.1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 21 June. A few days later we boarded the troop ship "Louis Pasteur," joined a convoy and headed for England. The ships travelled in a zig-zag path to lessen the chances of being hit by a torpedo from an enemy submarine. We were told that some submarines were picked up in the ships sonar, although no ships were torpedoed in this convoy.
On Dominion Day I was posted with other pilots to No. 3 Personnel Receiving Centre at Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. This city had been the target of a low-level attack by enemy aircraft and a number of buildings showed mute evidence of the strafing and bombing. At Bournemouth we were given training in parachute-harness releasing over land and water, use of the life preservers called "Mae Wests," jumping into a pool of water from a high platform, and lots of physical exercise which included routinely swimming several lengths of the swimming pool. We also received instruction on the use of firearms, and did target practice with revolvers. As part of our emergency kit, our photographs were taken in civilian clothes, to be used by the underground for forged passports if we were forced down in enemy territory.
We received training and tests on wireless, aircraft recognition, link theory, armament, ship recognition, and naval theory. On 26 and 27 August, at the Empire Central Flying School at Hullavington, I took flight tests in a Miles Master and an Airspeed Oxford. From Bournemouth the pilots were posted to various bases for further flight training, depending upon their qualifications and capabilities. I was fortunate to have good night vision, good aircraft recognition and my ability as a pilot was satisfactory so it was decided my further flying training should be as a night fighter pilot.
LAC Stan Reynolds readies himself for a solo flight
in a Cessna Crane at No. 4 SFTS, Saskatoon, during April 1943.
Note the quick release fastener at the front of
the parachute harness and the ripcord on his left side.
Photo courtesy Stanley G. Reynolds.
On 22 September I was posted to No. 12 Advanced Flying Unit at Grantham, Lincolnshire, where I was one of 51 pilots in Course #17. In this course were servicemen from around the world: 33 RAF, six RCAF, four RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force], two RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force], two SAAF [South African Air Force], an airman from Pol and one from Java, one from Scotland one from USA. One of the pilots in this course was S/L George Edwards, who was the Chief Flying Instructor during the time I was training at No. 4 SFTS Saskatoon. We were flying twin-engine Bristol Blenheim Mark Vs, known in England as 'Bisleys.' I received 4 ½ hours dual-instruction before my first solo flight on 8 October, and was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 30 October.
Shortly before Christmas a group of about half a dozen airmen in my barrack block got together to play carols using a group of bottles partially filled with water. Each bottle was filled to a different level to produce a different musical note when an airman blew over the top of the bottle. Each of us controlled several bottles and after hours of practice we became quite proficient in playing "Good King Wenceslas."
During a solo cross-country flight on 24 February 1944, the ceiling, 10/10th overcast, came down and I was forced down to under 300 feet to fly below the low ceiling. Endeavouring to map read at such a low height while flying over territory containing numerous roads and railways crisscrossing and running all directions, often having to read the aircraft instruments and look ahead for obstructions, I became lost. I flew with 15 degrees of flap to maintain safe control at a slower speed, but I was unable to pinpoint my location on the map. I still had a reasonable fuel supply when I flew over an air base where the planes were all grounded because of the bad weather. I made a quick circuit, landed and taxied up to the control tower. The control officer said that if I shut off the engines I would have to stay. Therefore I left the engines idling at 1000 rpm, set the brakes, and walked into the control tower where I was told I had landed at Polebrook, a United States Air Force base. I drew a line on my map from Polebrook to Grantham, took off and map-read my way back to my base, landed and parked the plane in its proper place. When I landed at Grantham I was over two hours late; however nobody asked me why I was overdue. Flying Officer Osborne, RAF, was one of the pilots killed during the flying training of Course #17.
Ground school classes were Morse code wireless, navigation, meteorology, aircraft recognition, armament, and engines. During a pass I went to London and spent the night at a servicemen's hostel at Earls Court. That night the air raid sirens began wailing and the German planes dropped their bombs. Instead of going to an air raid shelter as most cautious people would do, I stayed in my room which was on an upper floor. I could not quite muster the urge to leave the hostel bed and traverse four flights of stairs for a sojourn in a bomb shelter. Next morning I looked out the window and noticed that the street was barricaded. A large bomb had dropped in the street in front of the building but had failed to explode. Being a born collector I picked up from the streets of London about twenty pieces of shrapnel which I still have.
On 29 February I was posted to No. 51 Operational Training Unit at Cranfield, Buckinghamshire. Here we had to learn to fly twin-engine Bristol Beaufighters, an airplane which had a gross weight of over twelve tons, and a top speed of over 300 mph. This was a plane on which we could not receive dual instruction because it had only one front seat and no provision for a second pilot. I was in Course #31 which had 25 pilots and 24 radio navigators. Six of the pilots held the rank of Flight Lieutenant or higher. One of the pilots was a Technical Sergeant in the United States Army Air Corps. An RAF Sergeant, who was not a member of aircrew, gave each pilot instruction while he was sitting in the pilot's seat of a Beaufighter cockpit section called a "dummy fuselage." We had to learn the readings and all the operations of the instruments, gauges, switches, controls, and radio. We had to be proficient in going through the sequences of operations needed by a pilot during takeoff, climb, flight, gliding, and landing. This would include adjustment of the propellers, engine coolers, retracting the landing gear, operation of the flaps, and radio operation.
When the ground instructor was satisfied that the pilot knew what to do in the cockpit, he would approve the pilot to fly the Beaufighter. I received nine hours and 40 minutes dual day-and-night flying, and instrument flying in a Bristol Beaufort. On 19 March I made my first solo flight in a Beaufighter. After 5 ½ hours of solo flying I was assigned a radio-navigator, Sergeant Donald MacNicol from Winnipeg. The call sign allocated to me was "Jungle three niner," used mostly during radio communications. During time off we often chummed around with another crew in the same course, Sergeant Robert S. Walker, a pilot, and Sergeant George R. Fawcett, his radio-navigator. During a landing on 23 April the port tire blew out and the drag was too great to keep the Beaufighter on the runway. The wheel tore a deep groove in the sod, although the plane was undamaged. There was another pilot coming in to land behind me, and after I got stopped I heard his voice on the radio saying "good show three niner!"
During a night flight in April I was flying near London when several flights of German aircraft began dropping bombs. I could see the German planes coned in the searchlights with numerous anti-aircraft shells exploding around them. There was nothing I could do because on training flights we carried no ammunition for the guns. During night flights we were directed by ground control which gave us messages by radio. The Germans had jammed our radio frequencies during the raid so I could not be vectored back to base. Also the lights were shut off at the airfields to prevent them from becoming a target, so I was unable to land during the raid. After the raid was over and the radio jamming was lifted I was directed back to my base. On 30 April, after 32 hours and 55 minutes day-and-night flying training in a Mark I Beaufighter plus numerous hours in ground classes I finished my course at No. 51 OTU.
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BCATP A World War II Memory: Stan Reynolds - Pilot - Part 3 of 3
Part 3 - Aircraft Operations Overseas
On 1 May Don MacNicol and I were posted to RAF Station Winfield on the east coast of Scotland. We were the only RCAF crew in "A" Flight. All the rest of the fifteen crews were RAF. Robert Walker and George Fawcett also were posted to Winfield and were one of sixteen crews in "B" Flight. From this base most of our flights were over the North Sea in Mark VI Beaufighters, with two Bristol Hercules 1650 horsepower engines, four 20 mm cannons, six .303 machine guns and radar in the nose. We flew Mark II Beaufighters with Rolls
F/S Stan Reynolds wearing "battle dress"
beside his Mark II Beaufighter
at RAF Station Winfield, Scotland in May 1944.
A radar antenna is fastened to the port wing behind him.
Photo courtesy Stanley G. Reynolds.
Royce Merlin engines during air-to-ground firing, and when firing at target drogues being pulled by Fairey Battles. One of the first things we noticed was the number of WAAF [Women's Auxiliary Air Force] working on airplane engines. With my folding camera, which I could carry in my pocket, I took some photographs of these women at work. On 6 June 1944 [D-Day ], the supercharger in the starboard engine was unserviceable so we flew back to base after a short flight. We were not informed about the invasion until the next day.
On 11 June we flew back to base after a short flight for the reason "weapons bent," meaning our guns wouldn't fire. Quite often the night flying aircrew received carrots with their meals as the vitamins in carrots were said to be of benefit to our night vision. Everyone had brussels sprouts with most meals, and periodically a chicken egg was al located to each flyer. We had to stand in a single-file queue, and when we got to the front of the line we signed our name on a dotted line to receive our single egg. Each airman took his own egg to the mess kitchen and told the cook how he wanted it cooked; we would then eat the egg with the rest of the meal that was dished out to us. Don MacNicol received comfort parcels from home which contained cans of Spork, Spam, jam, peanut butter, and margarine. He would take a can of jam or peanut butter to the mess hall and put it on the table in front of us. After a few minutes RAF ground crew would come over to our table with a slice of bread in their hand and meekly ask if they could have a little bit of the jam or peanut butter. Don never refused anyone, and soon the can was empty.
My twenty-first birthday was on 17 May, and on this day I spent an hour and ten minutes flying a Mark II Beaufighter, firing 20 mm cannons at a target drogue being pulled by a Fairey Battle. Don became quite friendly with Robert Walker, and asked if I would mind if he crewed up with Walker, in which event George Fawcett would become my R/N [radio navigator]. George and I had no objection, so MacNicol became Walker's R/N and Fawcett became my R/N.
Late at night on 19 June George and I were "scrambled" [took off] and vectored to intercept two "bogies" [enemyaircraft] flying high over the North Sea towards Edinburgh. We had climbed to 16,000 feet when the bogies had completed their reconnaissance mission and were heading back towards Norway. During their flight they descended, at the same time giving them a greater speed. Because we were on an interception course we were able to get fairly close to one of the bogies, but not close enough to be able to see the plane visually, which would enable us to fire our guns. When our height was down to about 100 feet above the North Sea waves, we had to level out and the German planes, being faster than our Beaufighter, pulled away from us. Later we were told that they were probably Messerschmitt 21 Os based in Norway. On 21 June, after 31 day-and-night flights in Beaufighters, I was posted with my R/N to 410 Cougar Squadron RCAF based at Zeals, Wiltshire.
At this time 410 Squadron was assigned to the Defence of Britain. It was a night fighter squadron equipped with Mark XIII and Mark XXX DeHavilland Mosquitoes fitted with four Hispano Suiza 20 mm cannons in the belly and radar equipment in the nose. They had two Rolls Royce Merlin 1650 horsepower engines, and a top speed of 420 miles per hour. There were instruments, gauges and controls on both sides as well as in the front of the cockpit, and the radio had 32 channels. There also was one Mark III Mosquito that had dual controls. On 23 June, with F/0 Edwards at the controls and me in the other seat, he flew one circuit, then told me to fly a circuit. After I landed he told me to continue flying circuits and left me alone in the plane. I took off on my first solo flight in a Mosquito, and practised takeoffs and landings for an hour and 25 minutes. I thought to myself at the time how much nicer and easier it was to fly the Mosquito than the Beaufighter.
We were using a grass airfield without runways, smaller than most other bases. We slept in tents on folding cots at that time. When we took a shower we used a hand-pumper fire extinguisher filled with water, and took turns spraying water on each other. W/C Abner Hiltz was our Commanding Officer, and George Fawcett and I were one of sixteen crews in "B" Flight. S/L J.D. "Red" Somerville was our Flight Commander, and F/L Walter Dinsdale was the Assistant Flight Commander.
During a night flight in a Mark XIII Mosquito on 9 July, the starboard engine burst into flame. I shut off the fuel line and switches for this engine, feathered the propeller and activated the fire extinguisher which put out the fire. I flew back to base on one engine, aniving about 2:30AM. When a twin-engine airplane flying on one engine slows below a certain air speed, there is not enough rudder control to keep the aircraft in a safe attitude if too much power is used on the operating engine. The increased pull from the operating engine causes the plane to become uncontrollable and crash. Consequently pilots are trained to approach the landing field at a greater height than is usual; if there is an overshoot or undershoot during landing, it is safer to hit the far fence at a slower speed than it is to hit the near fence at flying speed.
When I was certain I would reach the landing field, I activated the flap and undercarriage controls. There is a hydraulic pump on each engine; as one engine was inoperative the hydraulic pump connected to that engine was not working. The hydraulic pressure from the single pump operated the flaps and undercarriage so slowly that they were only partially down, and I could not get the plane stopped before I ran out of landing space. As soon as I was aware that the plane was not slowing down fast enough and the undercarriage was only part way down, I returned the landing gear control to the retract position and the plane skidded on its belly into a coulee adjacent to the landing field.
RCAF 410 Squadron Mosquito night Fighters
stationed at Colerne, Wiltshire, in August 1944.
Black and white striping was painted on the underside
of the aircraft shortly before D-Day.
Facial scars on pilot Stan Reynolds resulted from crash landing
his partially disabled Mosquito during a night flight in July 1944.
Photo courtesy Stanley G. Reynolds.
The plane could not be stopped while it was skidding down the slope on the near side of the coulee; however, it came to a sudden stop when it went across a small creek and hit the bottom of the ascending slope on the other side. My head hit the instrument panel and I received facial lacerations while George's jaw was broken. The port engine caught fire, and in order to save time I disconnected my parachute and threw off my helmet with earphones and oxygen mask, rather than disconnect them. When I attempted to leave the plane I found my left foot was caught under the damaged rudder bar. After twisting around and spraining my ankle in the process, my foot became dislodged. By this time the fire was burning up the left side of the fuselage singeing the left side of my clothing and the hair on the left side of my head.
We crawled out a hole on the right side of the fuselage, and while we were crawling away on our hands and knees the port fuel tanks exploded. A few seconds later the ammunition also started exploding. After we had crawled about 100 yards away we sat on the ground getting our bearings and watching the burning plane. After another ten minutes we got up on our feet, I put one arm over George's shoulders to take some of the weight off my sprained ankle, and we walked about a quarter mile to a house. George knocked on the door and an elderly lady in her night gown opened the door. She was quite startled when she saw us with blood running down our faces and the front of our uniforms. She let us in the house and after we told her what happened she telephoned the base and a short time later we were picked up by an ambulance-hearse, and taken to the base hospital.
Lacking any anaesthetic, the doctor stitched the lacerations in my face without benefit of painkillers. Later we were strapped on stretchers in an Oxford ambulance plane piloted by F/0 Snowden. With F!L Rogers, the Medical Officer, in attendance, we were taken to Gatwick airport. From Gatwick we were taken to the Queen Victoria Hospital at East Grinstead, Sussex. Soon after we were placed in hospital beds and official photographs were taken of our head wounds for the hospital records. I was visited by Wing Commander Ross Tilley, the doctor in charge of the Canadian wing of the hospital. He took a quick look at me, ripped the scabs off my face, talked to me for a few minutes, then left to attend other airmen whose injuries were more severe than mine. Many of the patients were burn victims and were receiving plastic surgery from Dr. Tilley. Because this type of surgery was in its infancy, and was somewhat experimental, these patients became known as Guinea Pigs. A Club was formed and all patients who were in the Queen Victoria Hospital became official members of the Guinea Pig Club.
German V1 flying bombs, called "buzz bombs" or "doodlebugs," flew over quite often on their way from France to London. During my recovery at the Queen Victoria hospital the patients were visited by an entertainment group from the Women's Division of the RCAF, called the "All Clear" .group. The lady in charge was Flight Officer Alice Fahrenholtz, who later married Brigadier General William F. Newson, a member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. Some of the airmen who were not confined to their beds were honoured by having their photograph taken with the young ladies. I was one of six airmen who had their picture taken with four smiling ladies in their RCAF uniforms; the pretty redhead wi th her hand resting on my left shoulder was LAW [Leading Airwoman] Maureen Harrington from Edmonton. When I left the hospital to return to the squadron I was picked up by F/0 Sexsmith in an Airspeed Oxford. He was accompanied by W/0 Jones and W/0 Gregory, who slept in the same tent as George and I. George was not released from the hospital until later because his jaw had not yet healed.
On 5 August I was given a fli ght test in an Oxford by F/0 Green, to check that the accident had not affected my flying ability. On 8 August, being anxious to get back into the air, I took the Squadron utility airplane, a Miles Magister, for an hour's flight. Many of the ground crew wanted to get into the air whenever they had a chance,so I took LAC Coffin. from Edmonton, as my passenger on this flight. On 11 August I was back fl ying a Mark XIII Mosquito, and made three flights that day. In August the squadron was moved from Zeals to Colerne, Wiltshire, an airfield with paved runways. We were given RCAF Form R60, which was a Will, and were urged to complete it. On 16 August 1 completed my Will, and another air crew signed as witnesses. These were F/L Ben E. Plumer, pilot, from Bassano, Alberta and his N/R F/0 Evans.
F/S Stan Reynolds in the cockpit of
a Mosquito Mark XXX Night Fighter in August 1944.
Photo courtesy Stanley G. Reynolds.
I flew a number of practice intercepts in which my Mossie was the target and a crew in another Mossie would track me with their radar and endeavour to catch or intercept me. During these exercises, both aircraft carried loaded guns in the event either one or both planes were diverted to intercept a bandit or buzz bomb. After 35 day-and-night flights in Mosquitoes, I flew a Magister to an airport near London. From there I was sent to the Repatriation Depot at Manchester, and received a promotion to Warrant Officer second class effective 30 April. On 10 October my first RIN Don MacNicol was killed while he was serving with 406 Mosquito night-fighter squadron. On 14 October I was awarded a Wound Stripe for injuries received on active service, and on 30 October was promoted to WO 1 [Warrant Officer first class]. I left Manchester on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth, which was filled with troops, and several days later docked in New York harbour. From there I travelled to eastern Canada, and then back to Alberta by train.
I was very disappointed when I was discharged in 1945, as I liked to fly and would have been happy to stay in the air force as a pilot. In January 1947 I received a letter from No.2 Air Command, RCAF Winnipeg, stating that a Mosquito Squadron was to be formed for overseas service, and offering ·me a five-year commission with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. Later it was learned that this squadron was sent to China where the Canadians taught Nationalist Chinese to fly and maintain Mosquitos obtained in Canada for use against the Communists. By this date I had built a garage, owned a car sales lot and had a business that was progressing successfully. I therefore did not go back into the air force; however, if I had done so it is probable that my future would have been significantly different.
BCATP Vignettes are Continued in PART VII: Nos. 31-35
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