ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE CAREER
by
Mike Spack


CONTENTS FOR THIS SECTION
OVERSEAS PART 8
 Repatriation
 Discharge
 War Services Grant Act 1994

POST-WAR PART 9
Chipmunks - Winnipeg
402 Squadron - Winnipeg
Army - Personnel Officer

FINAL COMMENTS

PHOTOGRAPHS - miscellaneous

APPENDICES:
Appendix I:   Mosquito "Mossie"
Appendix II:  Pilotless Buzz Bombs
Appendix III: Logbook Operations
Appendix IV:  Poems, Over There, War Department, History of RCAF,
Battle of Britain Internet Sites, Billy Barker from Dauphin, MB
Appendix V: Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Appendix VI: My Air Force Friend Bill
Appendix VII: Sir William Stephenson "Intrepid"
Appendix VIII: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton
Appendix IX: Salute to the Canadians
Appendix X: Murphy's Laws of Combat Operations

OVERSEAS PART VIII

REPATRIATION

Noted previously is that my days with 163 Squadron at Huntingdon ended officially June 16, 1945 even though operations ceased with the declaration of Victory in Europe Day May 8, 1945. A few details of activities are recalled in both books but rather limited. Even so, the logbook shows a number of flights after the last operations trip on May 2nd up to and  including June 16th. Why this happened is not known other than the importance of the Cook's Tour with a ground crew member and Mel mentioned previously. Perhaps it was to keep us occupied. Total number of hours flown are shown as 1291 plus 40 minutes.

In Book 1 in the repatriation pages include some details of my Air Force career in terms of dates completed (Repatriates Interview Report) for aircrew only at Warrington. Decorations line is blank but all of us received various medals located now on the shelf next to this computer ( and including Kath's Dad's decorations from World War 1).

Naturally we repatriates wondered about the process of getting back home and for those of us who were married , would our wives be going with us? Memory fails me as to whether or not this was disclosed verbally but we waited patiently Kath and I as did her Mom and Dad. Meanwhile we were together more of the time and that was excellent being able to chat about future plans to some extent. Other pages that follow are interesting but someone surely took a long time in completing the forms. What a tedious task that was considering there were so many of them. It appears that I was posted to Yarmouth on the 22 of July and officially discharged to Reserve Class E, honourably ,in early September but later it is noted that October 2, 1945 was the official date.

Eventually, we found out that Kath would be leaving for Canada sometime in 1946 and that I would leave from Liverpool towards the end of July 1945 soon after arriving at "R" Depot in Yarmouth ( July 22) to arrive home around August 1. This pleased me since I had two failures in Grade 12 to make up in August at United College in Winnipeg and then be ready for first year university in early September to begin my three year Arts degree program and in the fourth year teacher training.

One other item to be noted on one of the forms was the 48 hours detention without pay and note my writing Yorkton and preferred to call this jail. At any rate, much repetition as one may expect but going home overshadowed any impatience I may have felt.  A definite bonus was Kath and I had much time to spend together while we waited.


DISCHARGE

Incredible! To be coming home after just over two and half years overseas and prior to that for more than a year in training; Sad also that many of my friends and thousands of others did not return having died in service for their country.

The documentation in Career Book 1, a "red tape" process but a necessary one, is quite straightforward. One sheet lists all the essential documents required for reading and signing. One was to decide whether or not I would be willing to continue service in the Pacific (Japan), European Occupational, or Western Hemisphere with the last line asking if I wished to have an immediate release. This last was my choice.

Those who chose the Pacific theatre (John did) would get a month's leave and then be posted. Victory over Japan took place August 15, 1945. so there was no need for those postings. One could of course, remain in the Air Force subject to posting anywhere in the Western or other Hemisphere. The address I used for my residence was 106 and a half Disraell which was where my mother- and family lived. A tight squeeze for us all but we managed.

Noted also is that my official discharge was October 2, 1945.


WAR SERVICE GRANTS ACT. 1944 - GRATUITY

It may have been the experience of World War i that prompted the Canadian government to pass this act. I stand corrected but it seems to me my reading includes the fact that veterans, after having served their country in World War 1, were not treated as adequately as they should have been. For Kath and me, the gratuity was a godsend with the opportunity to choose four years of university with an allowance each month (including a dependent's allowance for Kath).

Admittedly the monthly allowance, which may have been around $100, did not provide a high standard of living. One could, as I did, take a part-time job and then there were the summer months when I did not go to university and was able to add to our monthly revenue as a playground Director for two years and then as a Life Insurance Underwriter with Equitable Life.

The papers in Career Book 1 are really self-explanatory if one wants to laboriously check them out concerning the monthly allowance. As mentioned previously, the dollar was worth far more than it is today so multiplying by ten or twelve or perhaps more for some items would provide a reasonable guess in today's values. As an aside, some veterans chose land if they wished to farm or perhaps there was another choice but I have no information on this.

Certainly we veterans fortunate to come back home, were treated well allowing us to pursue our lives with at least a decent financial beginning. Then it was up to us to make the best of such an opportunity.

Note also in the documentation book 1, the certificate of marriage sheet as well as the official Discharge Certificate.



 
 
 
POST WAR


CHIPMUNKS

Certainly the love of flying prompted John and me to apply for Chipmunk Exercise in July 1951. Not too much is prominent in the documentation BOOK 1 except for the fact that I did have almost 1300 hours of flying . The actual flying on Chipmunks did not start until November 10 according to Log book 1.

The Chipmunk was a beautiful little aircraft, single-engine, single wing, and was a trainer I believe at the time for beginner flyers replacing the Tiger Moth that I flew. Another aircraft, Cornell I think, was also used as a trainer and may be seen in our Brandon Museum.

It was in the Chipmunk when I achieved a reasonable standard in aerobatics. Up to this time my hours had to do mostly with twin-engine aircraft. Required were twenty hours a  year so we did not get too much flying with the last flight soon after March 30th, 1952. The reason for termination was that John and I had heard that we could apply for 402 Squadron for weekend flying on Harvards and the well- known Mustang which along with the Hurricanes and Spitfires was a successful fighter during the war especially in the early years of the conflict...all single engine.

Chipmunk flying was done through the Winnipeg Flying Club and one advantage was that we qualified for a pilot certificate although private flying for us was out of the range of our pocketbooks. The aerodrome was the existing one called Stevenson's Field at the time I believe and now is the Winnipeg Airport so we had to be on the alert for the commercial flights.

Also, there was some pay according to rank and this helped a bit in our operating expenses at nome. Mind you, I would guess that Kath was not too enamored about the flying but went along with it as well as with my joining 402 Squadron.


402 SQUADRON

John and I faced quite a bit of red tape when in June 1952 we applied for 402 as noted in Career Book 1. We were accepted into RCAF Reserve. Confusing is Log Book 11 (scribbled in by daughter Suzanne when she was a little girl) where my first flight in a Harvard took place May 4, 1952, It may be that the Chipmunk training allowed us to do this prior to the interviews.

The Harvard was easily the noisiest aircraft of all and over the years many residents had complained bitterly about this. In war time however, there was little anyone could do about such a minor incident. Another feature was that the rudder pedals on which one placed his feet were too far for me. So this meant having to place a cushion at my back which was a nuisance for a while but I eventually became used to this and took the jokes from colleagues favourably.

Much more flying took place and the usual process was that once enough hours were flown on the Harvard, one then flew the Mustang which John and I looked forward to very much. Summer camp took place from June 28 to July 5th. I began my new position at the Young Men's Hebrew Association at the time and weekends were our busy time. So I opted for the one week but John stayed on for the two week period and flew the Mustang which he said was marvellous to fly.

Many dual hours were required for transition to Harvards remembering I was a twin-engine pilot so it was at summer camp in Watson Lake, Yukon, just north of the British Columbia border, where I finally soloed the Harvard July 1 to be exact. The week went by quickly and there was not enough time for me to be ready for the Mustang which was a disappointment. My dual check I note, was done by a F/L Osborne, a lovely chap who I heard later from John had an unfortunate accident in the second week and was killed trying to do square loops in a Mustang. Also in the first week, another pilot, dive bombing at a target, never pulled up for some reason and he also was killed. How sad this was for the families of two persons who had survived operations in the war!

Not mentioned before was that many of these pilots on the squadron were ex-Spitfire pilots and risks for them was usual. Indeed the first evening we were at Watson Lake, in the mess. the guys starting drinking and singing some of the old war-time songs. We anticipated some difficulties if the drinking got out of hand and locked ourselves in our room. Soon someone was banging on our door but we did not budge. Then a gang of them seen clearly because at that time it was twilight all night, seemed to be in two separate camps. A few were in their shorts and many were obviously quite drunk. This happened when they were due to fly very early in the morning . Heaven knows when they finally got to sleep. For many of them the two weeks were a holiday but flying, though wonderful, is a risky business and there is no reason for two deaths at a two week summer camp in peace time especially.

If I remember correctly Duff Roblin was the Officer Commanding at the time but no signature appears in the log book. For some reason, upon return from Summer Camp, I did not fly until September 6 and by that time I knew that weekend flying and my regular job did not match too well. September 14th then, was my last flight still on the Harvard and my letter of resignation is included in documentation - a return to supplementary Reserve.


ARMY - PERSONNEL OFFICER

It was John's teacher colleague, Lieutenant Colonel Donald, who suggested that we might like to become personnel officers in his reserves unit located at Minto Barracks. The tasks seemed to fit in nicely with our teaching responsibilities and there was a bit more pay attached to this, so it was September 15, 1959 when we lived on 15 Glencoe Avenue, East Kildonan, that I wrote the letter indicating confirmation of my release from 402 Squadron. The process then to be transferred to the Army could begin.

There is not too much I could say about the Army. Certainly it was a different experience. I forget, to tell the truth, much of what happened except that I had difficulty in receiving  the army rank of Captain equivalent to my Flight Lieutenant rank in the Air Force - a matter of payment rather than only principle. The tasks were interesting, much testing, and getting to know new people. Eventually in 1962 I did get my captaincy and no doubt some back pay but this could not have been that very much for we were part-time of course.

No record is noted as to when I terminated service with the army but in looking back it was a new experience and overall a worthwhile one. More importantly John and I did this together.
 
 
 

FINAL COMMENTS

In discussion with my lifelong friend John (Potter) on many occasions, the word "blessed" was mentioned. Both of us have been blessed with beautiful experiences which undoubtedly affected our lives greatly. Our Air Force careers are blessings even though in each there are sadnesses of forever departed friends physically that is for in our thoughts they are always with us.

War is a disaster but it meant a reviving of one's patriotism, and being one of so many who played his and her part in challenging successfully the Axis threat, Germany, Italy, and Japan in particular. Success certainly but at a terrible cost.

For me it was definitely a speeding up of maturity where the basics of quality living came into play. Meeting my wife Kathy and eventually marrying overseas was a result of the war. Going to university was also a result of the war although eventually I may have decided to manage this one way or another. Strong friendships resulted and communication with a number of these buddies continues, again the result of the war. There were so many truly fine experiences including the familiarity with mostly England but also Scotland and Wales.

How many young persons just out of boyhood, John and I pondered, have this opportunity. To fly an aircraft, I the Mosquito and John the Beaufighter, was far beyond our imaginations in our high school days. Even now, I look at the picture of the Mosquito on my wall, and say to myself, "Imagine; I flew; I was the pilot of that magnificent machine!"

The organising and writing of my Air Force Career has taken a number of months and rewarding months they were. It is my hope that our children and their children will sometime in the future make use of these experiences whether in the reading or in using it as a resource for personal or other reasons. Perhaps someone else other than family wants this writing as a resource. My signature below confirms that this is indeed possible.

Certainly my wife Liz ( nickname for Kathy) has been a constant loving support especially since she is here with me because of my career in the Air Force. I thank her for this love.

In closing, I give thanks to God for so many blessings and allowing me this time in the twilight of my life to place thoughts on paper.

mike spack
April 1, 1997
 

SECTION 2: 
Royal Canadian Air Force Memoirs

Mike Spack
THE STORY
100 pages of text
THE PICTURES
150 photographs
INTRODUCTION
 Intro Gallery
PART I
Recruitment and Training in Canada
Gallery 1
PART II
Overseas Parts 1-3
Gallery 2
PART III
Overseas Parts 4-5
Gallery 3
PART IV
Overseas Parts 6-7
Gallery 4
PART V
Overseas 8 and Post War
Gallery 5
My Friend Bill
Gallery 6
 
Gallery 7

 
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Spack Family History
Looking Back At The Spacks
Contact Daughter Cathy at:
cspack@mymts.net
 
 
 
 

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