Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:
Air Gunners Honoured 
by Nanton Lancaster Air Museum
On August 14, 2004, the Staff and Volunteers of the Museum, and the City of Nanton, Alberta, honoured the WW11 Ex- Air Gunners and Wireless Air Gunners. The occasion was to display the restored Lancaster FM 159, other RCAF memorabilia, and to engender an atmosphere of camaraderie. 

On behalf of the Air Gunners we offer a heartfelt thank you to all involved. Pictures of the occasion are dispersed though out this page and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The photographers, Svend Jensen, Ted Hackett, Linn Spring, did a terrific job of recording this event on film. If we make any citation mistakes (get the wrong names under the snaps), please let us know. To assist in the transmission of this News Letter the pictures have been positioned throughout. This reminds me of the first TEE EMM training manual I saw, the last page read, “OK, you have looked at the pictures, now go back and read it”.

The program contained, among other things, introductions of the Turrets; unveiling of the Bristol Turret by Doug Penny and Charlie Cobb; dedication of the Lancaster rear turret to Doug Cameron DFC; honouring Sgt. Peter Engbrecht and Sgt. Gordon Gillanders, and a demonstration of a functioning turret that certainly got the attention of  those assembled.

The luncheon program was followed by a fly past involving, Tiger Moth, Chipmunk, three Boeing Steerman, (one flown by Liz Murphy), and a Beechcraft 18 Expeditor.

The Museum is located in the heart of Nanton
fronting on the busy #2 Highway. 
The display must turn a lot of tourist heads 
as they drive South.
Dan Fox, MC, did a supreme job

And he did his best to alert the speakers
to the fact that the fly past was about to begin.

The heart and sole of any non-profit organization
is the often unsung Volunteers. 
The banquet table turret centre pieces made by
Director JIM WIERSMA and his wife PAULINE 
confirms this fact.

Svend Jensen our pictorial keeper of the record. Tight fit!

Alone in his transparent shell,
A speck in space,
He sits, poised in his airy kingdom;
At his back the unknown,
Before him the unfolding map
Of his journey.
Guardian of seven lives,
Taut with the concentration of survival,
He swings his turret through the vigilant arcs,
Eyes straining for the fighters,
Braced for the violence of surprise.

 Philip A. Nicholson
Toronto Globe and Mail June 4, 2004-08-06 by Nathalie Bibeau

Once he flew bombers over the land where she sought cover. 
Years later, the two found shelter together.

On the second floor of a drab, over lit nursing home, I found the last chapter of one of the most famous military stories in Canadian history.

I was working on a CBC documentary commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day, June 6th 1944. it was a drizzly morning in February, the nurse at the desk was impassive, and Jim Kelly was in a room at the end of a wide, barren hallway. He sat in an oversized wheelchair, with his long legs crossed at the knee, he was so thin and narrow the space around him looked swollen. Dressed neatly in a plaid shirt and suspenders, he was leaning back holding the newspaper close to his chest. His wife, on one of her long visits, was sitting close to the window staring out.

Sixty years ago, Jim flew Lancaster bombers over Nazi occupied France. In the spring and early summer of 1944, he was the wireless operator on a crew whose last mission would become one of the legends of the Second World War.

On the night of June 13, 1944, while on their 13th mission, they were shot down. In the few minutes it took for their burning bomber to fall out of the sky, as most of the crew at the front bailed out, a grim drama unfolded in the rear. The tail gunner, Pat Brophy, was trapped in his turret, plummeting to certain death. His friend mid-upper gunner Andrew Mynarski, had safely reached the escape hatch and was about to jump when he turned around and saw Brophy. He crawled over to him through a wall of flame, and tried to pry him free. Clawing at the door with his bare hands, he was on fire from the waist down. What transpired in those few moments 13 minutes past midnight, is one of the most selfless acts of valour in the history of war and it would earn Mynarski a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Jim Kelly, sitting before me that February morning, was the last man left alive from that mission, which is why I was here. But there was one last story waiting for me in that little room.

While Jim talked of D-Day and his excitement over crushing the Nazi advance, he noticed his wife leaning over his tray, quietly mashing a banana into a bowl for him. He stopped and said to her, “That time was different for you, wasn’t it?”

Regine – bold and charming – is Jim’s second wife. She’s German. She spent the war married to a German Naval Officer, and living with her mother in Aurich, a town 30 kilometres from the North Sea coast directly under the flight path of Allied bomber raids.

“At eight months pregnant, I was riding my bicycle begging the neighbours for food, jumping into ditches every time I thought the planes were getting too close,” she said. Her village was never the target, but the bombers flew overhead day and night on their way to the industrial heartland of the Reich. The quaking sound of those bombers haunt her to this day. “The air drummed, the house trembled --- first with the sound of engines, then alarms. It happened so often, I kept my baby in a laundry basket to be able to run down to the cellar.”

In the spring of 1944 while Regine’s husband was away fighting she and her daughter fled farther inland to the Harz Mountains to get out from under the war.

Jim, in the meanwhile was miles up in the sky, and just as fear stricken. He was a kid who had enlisted at 17 to fight the Nazis, and left his young wife in Winnipeg. Within months he was part of the greatest air armada in history. On big raids there could be a thousand Lancs in the air at once in a bomber stream one mile high, one mile wide, and ten miles long.

It was cold, the flights were long, and he was usually sitting on at least 8000 pounds of bombs. “I could hear and smell the flak exploding around me, and when I looked outside, I saw airplanes blowing up,” he said, never knowing if it was a friend until he got back to the squadron base. All he could do was count down the time that they had left: “I only have this many hours to live through – just this many.”

After they were hit the night of the 13th, Jim parachuted out of the flaming plane and landed safely in a field. He was taken in by a family and spent three months as a fugitive with the French resistance.

By the time Jim made it home the Nazi empire was unravelling and Regine was fleeing back to the coast to escape the Russians who were squeezing in from the East. It was sheer anarchy. “The years after the war were almost worse than the war itself, once we learned what Hitler had done,” she said. In 1953 Regine, her husband, Ernst, and their daughter, were accepted into Canada as immigrants.

For more than half a century, Jim  lived happily with his wife, Lee, and their two children. Regine worked in restaurants and chocolate factories, her husband was a barber, and they raised their daughter Anke, as a Canadian.

Four years ago, there was a Christmas party in the basement of the condo building where Regine and Jim were introduced. Both had by then lost their spouses; they were alone. When the party ended, they took the elevator and realized they lived on the same floor.

It started with Jim taking home leftovers from Regine’s; it progressed to Sunday dinners. One impulsive morning, two years later, 78 year old man, Jim, and an 80 year old Regine walked into city hall, yanked two witnesses off the street and said their vows.

Parkinson’s disease had devitalized Jim’s voice and hand gestures, but all of life was concentrated in his eyes, so that when he spoke, I could see the kid in him waging an insurrection. He was playful, sharp witted, and kind. Regine was indomitable, warm, and loyal. I admit, I was totally charmed. Sixty years ago these two people were bobbing corks in a ferocious tidal wave, but on that February  morning, they were just in love.

When Regine had finished mashing the banana, she lathered on the whipping cream. Jim flashed her a beaming grin, and she was radiant. This is how the last chapter closes. Two polarized war experiences converging in this quiet, unremarkable room. And no one in the North York nursing home seemed to have any idea.

Jim Kelly, last survivor of a mission that would enter Canadian schoolbooks, died five days after I saw him. On May 17 Regine joined him.

Remember the story about bombers returning from a raid and a Lancaster Pilot called the tower, “coming in on three, request direct approach.” Another bomber cut in, “coming in on two, request direct approach!”

The control tower cleared the second aircraft ---
--- and the Wellington landed!

June 28, 2004. Discussion 
Between Mr.W. Vanzant and Robert Henderson,
Homefront Archives & Museum

Flight Sgt. Vanzant was Mid-upper Gunner on Halifax DK258, lost to a German night fighter during a raid against Nuremberg, Germany, August 27/28, 1943. They flew with 434 Bluenose Squadron  (in Excelsis Vincimus)

The Nuremberg, Germany, bombing raid was made by 674 aircraft – 349 Lancasters, 104 Stirlings, and 221 Halifax. Eleven of each type were shot down by Night Fighters and flak, for a loss of 4.9% of the total force. The bomb pattern fell across the South-Eastern and Eastern suburbs, with a loss of 65 people on the ground. Though the target was cloudless, it was a very dark night. While the Pathfinder bomb markings had been accurate, a “creep back” of the bombing pattern occurred which could not be corrected by the Master Bomber due to poor communications between the aircraft.

Lost with the aircraft was the Pilot, WO2  R116497, Thomas Frank THOULD, 21 years, from Winnipeg. Also killed was R105328, Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner) Milton Ray LEDGETT 22 years, from Brooklin, On. Both men wee buried in the War Cemetery at Durnbach, Germany.

Canadian survivors of the loss, who became Prisoners of War were:

Warrant Officer H.D. MALLORY (acting as 2nd. Pilot to gain experience).
Flying Officer McREADY
F/Sgt W.M. VANZANT (Upper Gunner)
Two non-Canadian crew members were taken prisoner.

F/Sgt. VANZANT parachuted to safety, and on landing, took evasive action to avoid capture. He managed to cross on heavily travelled road in his efforts, but was captured by civilians the following day.

During his interrogation, F/Sgt. VANZANT recalls the interrogators told him I detail about his unit and himself.. On the wall of the interrogation room was a very large map of Canada, with every military station identified, among other things.

Sent to Stalag 4B, Muhlburg, Germany, the memories are not pleasant. He recalls an instant where one of the many starving Russian prisoners kept in the camp to perform the most unpleasant duties, rushed after a cart load to grab a handful of garbage. He was shot in the back by a German guard, and died instantly.

On a separate occasion, closer to the end of the war, an American Mustang was in combat near the PoW camp with German aircraft. The Mustang chased a JU88 over the camp, fired too soon, and the shells hit a watching PoW, killing him.

The most tragic event occurred on 30 April 1944. It was the practice of German Pilots from an airfield located beside the PoW camp made a practice of “buzzing” the camp personnel on a regular basis. On this occasion, a JU88 roared across the PoW exercise yard, during which time the propeller of the aircraft struck W/O H.D. MALLORY from behind, killing him. The aircraft then took out part of a fence , but managed to stay in flight. Buzzing of the camp ceased after that date.

W/O Herbert David MALLORY, from Woodstock, N.B. was 22 years old at the time of his death.

The PoW camp was finally over run by the Russians, and F/Sgt. VANZANT joined with another PoW to walk away to Allied lines, scrounging food and avoiding enemy personnel along the way/. A Russian group allowed them to cross a bridge after they had identified themselves as Allies, and shortly after that, an American Red Cross jeep approached them offering a ride. They were told they would be flown out of the area the following day.

Shortly after that a burst of tracer shells from three German machine guns forced the jeep to a sudden halt. The Germans took over the jeep, and allowed the unarmed prisoners to head back to the original PoW camp, on foot. After about two days at the camp it was back to England and freedom via courtesy of the American Air Force.

Among his souvenirs from those hard times Mr. VANZANT proudly displays his Caterpillar Club lapel pin – representing his emergency parachute jump from his disabled Halifax.

Victor Polichek and Duke Dawe, Vernon, B.C.
Duke flew 200 hours on the Nanton Lanc.


This is a picture of my Dad's squad. He died in 1994. He is in the back row, far left. William Lane. He trained at Trenton and was stationed in England. He was a tail gunner on a Lancaster. My mother gave away all his air force info. I do not know what squadron he was in or anything else. I know he was a crack shot, because the air force wanted to keep him to train future gunners. I have no details at all. Maybe you can circulate this picture and see if there is any one still alive that could provide any details. I would appreciate this very much. It is probably to late, but I still have some hope. I have heard some of the stories of what these brave men went through.

William Lane back row extreme left

Greg Lane
410-653 Major Mackenzie Dr. E.
Richmond Hill, Ontario
L4C 1J8
(905) 883-6413


Thanks for the prompt reply and information as to the rightful ownership of the graphic. I think it is a great graphic and it needs to be exposed more. I will wait to hear from Ross or yourself, with final approval, before I use it on the site at and in our newsletters.

Cafba stands for the Canadian Air Force Brats Association. 

The association was originally formed in 1996 under the banner name of Canadian Air Force Brat Network as a result of a few brats getting together one evening and reminiscing about their past on the various stations they had lived on in their youth. One of the unanswered questions coming from that original meeting was "whatever happened to...?"

Thus the first beginnings were started. By word of mouth news of the network was spread and plans for a reunion were started. The sole purpose was to reconnect with kids we went to school with so long ago, and to find answers to that famous question. 

The first reunion was held in Vancouver in 1997 and attracted 800 plus interested parties. In Jan 1997 I set up the first static web page that provided registration and membership information only. Late in 1997 the name was changed to its current name of Canadian Air Force Brats Association. The web site was expanded and membership started to grow in leaps and bounds. Today the database contains the names of over 10,000 BRATS that are looking to either reunite with or be reunited with long lost friends.

There are numerous web sites dedicated to a variety of military backgrounds. While our site is called Canadian Air Force Brats Association, it is by no means limited to just Air Force Brats any longer. The amalgamation of the Forces around 1965 saw the distinctive uniforms of the three services disappear and the local brats growing up in "mixed" schooling situations. Was it Canada's first attempt at multiculturalism?

We now have our own web site, a newsgroup, a chat room a plethora of web sites that reminisce about our youth and a true virtual BRAT family that is supportive, loving, dedicated and resourceful.

A recent comment on our newsgroup sums up who we are: "Why I am proud to be a brat - so much in common with so many. - Dennis LLoyd"

We are the children of those who are honoured in the graphic that I have requested permission to use. We understand the statement that is being made and we wish to pick up the torch from the few remaining surviving war veterans. 

Following is a copy of our most recent newsletter. Thanks for your part in making our lives safer and more enjoyable. I look forward to seeing your September issue.


Svend, we repeatedly told you, always ask permission before you click!

For registration forms and more information contact:

Larry Wynn
9 Abinger Crescent,
Etobicoke, On. Canada
M9B 2Y4

Web site

SHORT BURSTS web page will keep you up to date on this planned reunion. Stay tuned. 

The following is a quote from Larry’s letter:

“They say you should always leave them laughing, so I am pleased to share this one with you from Ian Scott in Blairgowie, Scotland. Thanks Ian.”

“As the Japanese pushed down the Malayan Peninsula various aircraft made their way back to India. One of thee was the Brewster Buffalo. At Digri Road, M.U. they were having trouble with sand getting into the carburetor and wound up using Tampax as a filter. After running out of Tampax, a young innocent P/O was sent down to the nearest chemist to get some more. On entering the shop rather frantically, he was greeted by a bright young Anglo-Indian girl who asked him what he wanted. After replying that he wanted some Tampax, she asked him “Will that be large, medium, or small?

“Well,” he said, “I really don’t know. You see, it’s for Buffalo.”


Weldy Moffatt  427 Squadron
 (306) 522-9938

Next year will be a major anniversary of the end of World War Two. The executive of No.6 RCAF Group Association Bomber Command feel this is the time to call a dignified finale on our regular Reunions with one final event next year. However we are opening our Reunion to all who served in 6 Group and any families that wish to attend.

The Reunion will take place over the weekend of 21-22 May 2005, based around the York area with a gathering at the 6 Group Memorial at Elvington, Yorshire Air Museum on the Saturday, special dinner at the officers mess at RAF Linton on Ouse already agreed by the Commanding officer, and a service at York Minster. The scale of these events will depend on your support.

It is difficult to plan so far ahead but it would be a shame for the association to end up with a “whimper” rather than a “roar.” L/Gen Reg Lane said at the Reunion in 2002 that a dignity should be maintained with any final event being planned. Support for the Reunion is being enlisted from the Bomber Command Association Canada and the Halifax Aircraft Association.. All those with a connection to 6 Group are urged to attend. 

Weldy Moffatt will be able to pass on information as it becomes known to him. 

The Ladies and the Lanc. 
L to R Jean Greenaway, Mildred Erickson, Gene Hackett, Doreene Moyles


Dear aviation enthusiast.

I would like to introduce to You a brand new aviation gallery dedicated mostly to the WWII air aces.
The gallery You can find on websites and also 

At this time You can find there for example painting about Wellington of 311th "Czech" bomb squadron and some else about czech WWII aces Otto Smik, Frantisek Perina and Miloslav Mansfeld and also for example the samples about aces Piere Closterman, Siegfried Schnell, Alex Vraciu .

Feel free to inform about the conditions of commission inquiries and purchase of artwork.

With regards
Vladimir Urbanek
Gallery Vladimir 

You are right I have hit your site during I found some visual materials for my paintings depicted the theme of air gunners concretely tail gunners in Wellingtons.

Dear Editor,

I would really appreciate it if you could include this in your publication. 
Please feel free to insert this as a letter to Ed or separate news article. 

TS Eliot’s memorial in Westminister Abbey London, has a fascinating inscription: "The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living." 
It raises an intriguing question: Can the dead communicate with the living? Many people have stories of extraordinary happenings in their lives relating to deceased relatives or friends that are inexplicable. It might be the appearance of a deceased loved one, the discovery of a lost and precious item belonging to a deceased person or a song with particular meaning, heard in a place of special significance. The possibilities are infinite. 

I am currently researching the topic with a colleague for a book to be published in Europe and the USA. I would be grateful if any of your readers might share any such experiences with us, with a view to publication. All correspondence will be dealt with the utmost respect and confidentiality. 

Anyone wishing to share an experience with us can write to the following address: - 

Audrey Healy 
3 Canal Close, Longford, Co. Longford, Ireland. 
Alternatively email to 

A Couple of Fish Stories

Charley Yule and daughter.
I don’t think Shirley believes you Sir Charles.


John Moyles with Grandson, Andrew.
(Svend threatened to haunt me 
if I failed to print this one)
If Charley and John sat on their hands,
they would be speechless!

Reminds me of the story about the Londoner who lived through the blitz. 
1950: “Yes, a bomb landed three blocks East of us.’
1970: “Yes, a bomb landed in the next block.”
2000: “Yes, a bomb hit the house next door”.
2004: “that bloody V2 blew the roof right off our house. Haven’t heard a damn thing since!”

 Ellen Penny, Doug Penny, 
Karl Karlsgaard (front)
You will recall that Karl was the moving force behind the raising of the Halifax  presently being restored at Trenton, On. Karl is now involved in the salvaging of Halifax  LW 170, 424 Squadron, ditched August 4, 1944, off the NW coast of Ireland. This Halifax is destined to be restored at the Nanton Museum. 

As Project Manager for 57 Rescue (Canada), Karl gave your Editor a copy of his third Progress Report on Halifax LW 170. A complete copy of this report will be in the October ’04 SHORT BURSTS page.

If you wish to contact Karl:
Phone : 613-835-1748

Doug Penny and Charlie Cobb 
unveiling the Bristol Turret
(The third party refused to give me his name,
just kept mumbling, “Loose lips sink ships.”)

There are many more Nanton pictures
that will find their way into the October ’04 Page. Stay tuned.

Editor’s Report

It was a wonderful day and, for many of us, 
would not have been possible 
without the support of family.

Jack Batrum and his Grandson 
who drove Jack to the function.

Shhhh! You can interest some of the people
some of the time, and all the people 
some of the time, but you can’t interest
some people all the time. : )

L to R Doug Madder, Doug Penny, Dave High, Roy “Scotty” MacDonald, 
Ted Hackett, Charley Yule, Earl Hiscox, John Moyles.

Ted Hackett to Doreene,
“. . .and who is that handsome young fellow with you?"

Until October, keep well.
Cheers, John & Doreene Moyles – Editors.
Please drop us some copy and pictures for the October Issue.
Keep well.
John and Doreene Moyles
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St.,
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112
Regional Meetings

Southern Ontario Chapter
Royal Canadian Legion
Wilson Branch 527
948 Sheppard Avenue West
We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the Legion hall 1:00 pm. 
No meetings July, August, September.
Contact persons: 
Ken Hill  ~  President ~  905.789.1912
Bill Cockburn  ~  Secretary ~  416.492.1024

Location - Royal Canadian Legion Br.#4 St. James Legion.
Date - Third Thursday of each month.
Time - Luncheon meeting (provide your own lunch).
Contact Member - Charlie Yule Ph. (204) 254-6264.

Northern Saskatchewan
Location - Lynx Wing Ave. C North, Saskatoon.
Date - Third Monday of the month.
Time - Luncheon meetings.
Contact Member - C.A. "Smokey" Robson  Ph. (306) 374-0547.

Northern Alberta Branch
Location - Norwood Branch 178, 11150 – 82 Street, Edmonton, AB
Date -  The first Thursday of each month.
Time - 12:00 hours.
Contact Members - E. H. "Ted" Hackett (780)962-2904 
or Sven Jensen (780)465-7344.

Southern Alberta
Location - Royal Canadian Legion  #264 
Kensington, Calgary
Date: Second Monday of each month.
Time - 11:30 hours.
Contact Member: Dave Biggs Ph: (403)236-7895
or Doug Penny Ph: (403)242-7048.
October meeting time moved to third Monday.
Also there are no meetings in July and August, however, a Barbecue is usually held  at Larry Robinson's ranch in Okatoks during that time.

British Columbia Branch 
Meeting time and local: 2nd Tuesday of each month at 11:30 
Firefighters Social & Athletic Club, 
6515 Bonsor Avenue, 
Burnaby, B.C. V5H 3E8 
Super eating facilities 
Contact person - Dave Sutherland       Ph. 604-431-0085 

Members across the Country are encouraged to 
send current information regarding 
regular meeting places, dates, and Contact Members, to

John and Doreene Moyles, 
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St., 
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112


Members are requested to send their experiences, articles, anecdotes, pictures, etc., to John Moyles and I will forward them to our Web Master in Brandon. Articles and Last Post items will be deleted from the page each month after the designated Member in each region has had an opportunity to copy the material for their Members. Notices of deceased Members are to be sent to Charlie Yule who is still our 'Keeper of the Rolls'. This is your SHORT BURSTS with no printing or mailing costs, and no deadlines! 
We thank our Web Master, Bill Hillman, for his volunteer time and expertise.
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