Michael Cassidy enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1942 he had no idea that
a twist of destiny would have him face the enemy from above. He would be
where he had wanted to be since the beginning – in the air. All the time.
Extensive Army training gave him a knowledge of guns that
he would later appreciate as a n RCAF Tail Gunner. After getting his AG
Wing at Mont Joli, he was assigned to 420 (Snowy Owl ) Squadron, based
in Yorkshire, England.
That is where Flt. Sgt. “Cas” Cassidy met the “Brothers”
he would never forget. Pilot Doug Watterson from Windsor, Ont., was one
of them. Doug Watterson married only a few weeks before that fatal night
of April 24, 1944. After reaching their target over Karlsruhe, their Halifax
111 bomber’s nose was cut off by a Lancaster, causing the aircraft to lose
significant altitude. They were then attacked by a German night fighter,
which blasted the two starboard engines. The Skipper ordered the crew to
bail out. Only two of the seven crew made it out alive.
Michael hit the ground just before the aircraft burst
into flames on impact a few fields away. Ray Tanner, the Mid-Upper Gunner
from Stirling, Ont., was the other survivor. Michael then began a three-day
gruelling escape bid through the barren Dutch country side, full of irrigation
ditches with no place to hide. “If I am captured or killed, I would have
lived so many days longer than they did,” he would think of his crew.
He was captured and sent by box car to the PoW Camp in
Heydekrug, East Prussia. He was transferred to other Stalags as Russians
began moving further West. He later joked, “The Fuhrer was my inn-keeper.”
While a PoW he kept a diary in which he wrote, “a fine tribute should be
paid to these men who gave their lives for their Country. They were gentlemen
and skilled airmen. Their lives shall not be in vain.”
Severely malnourished and in dire health, Michael was
liberated on 1945 by the Desert Rats. The loss of his crew shaped his life,
cementing feelings of fair play and esprit de corps. He always paid tribute
to those men.
Following the war, Michael became a free-lance entrepreneur
dealing in divers ventures, food franchises, 6-electrode spark plugs, but
he never strayed far from his first love, Journalism and the Media. In
1976 Michael took the bold gamble, placed many of his marketing projects
on the back burner, and formed his own national news media magazine PRESS
REVIEW. It was a labour of love ant took him to wherever the media gathered
to cover news or discuss news coverage.
But Michael never forgot his crewmates resting in Dutch
soil near the Village of Zuilichem, Holland. Like so many others crews
who flew together during the war, they were truly a ‘Band of Brothers’.
Michael’s request was that he should be returned to Zuilichem and laid
to rest alongside his fellow crewmen.
Michael Cassidy was laid to rest with glowing honours
on May 4, 2005, a day set aside by the beautiful Dutch Village of Zuilichem
to commemorate WWII heroes. Over 100 area residents attended the funeral.
Burial party folding Canadian flag
Veterans Affairs Canada worked closely with the Department
of National Defence and Linda van Rappard, of the Cabinet of the Zaltbommel
Mayor, in organizing the moving and lovely ceremony. The Municipality of
Zaltbommel donated Michael’s tombstone.
Short Bursts wishes to acknowledge and thank the staff
of PRESS REVIEW for sending us the Spring/Summer 2005 Edition from which
the Michael Cassidy story was obtained.
AVRO LANCASTER by Ted Hackett
This is intended to be an account of the Post War use
of the Lancaster however, a short history of the aircraft is in order.
In September 1936, the Air Ministry issued Specifications
P13/36 for a twin engine bomber for use in the RAF. The A. V. Roe Company
submitted plans for type 679, the Manchester, while Handly-Page submitted
Plan for HP56. The latter became HP57, the Lancaster aircraft familiar
to many 6 Group airmen.
The maiden flight of the Manchester was July 25, 1939,
and in January, 1940, 1200 had been ordered powered by the Rolls Royce
Vulture. Only 158 of the original order had been delivered before production
of the Vulture engine was discontinued, one of the few Rolls Royce failures.
The chief designer of the A.V. Roe, Roy Chadwick, had plans to rebuild
the aircraft as the Manchester Mk III with four Rolls Royce Merlin engine.
The particular engines used had been designed for the Beaufighter MkV.
The Prototype BT308 was first flown on January 09, 1941.
This aircraft was still known as the Manchester III but the Clearance Certificate
showed the name as Lancaster. The aircraft was renamed Lancaster by Roy
Chadwick as a tribute to the capital of Lancashire and the name was approved
in January, 1941, and that, of course, was the name by which it was known
throughout the life of the aircraft.
The first operational sortie carried out by the Lancaster
was a mine laying operation in Heligoland Bight by aircraft of 44 Squadron
on March 03, 1942. The last raids of the war were carried out on April
25, 1945, when 482 aircraft, including some from 6 Group, bombed the coastal
gun batteries on Wangerooge, one of the Friscan Islands. A simultaneous
raid was carried out on Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” at Berchtesgaden in Germany.
A total of four aircraft were lost, two on each target.
The total HE tonnage dropped on primary targets was 608,612
tons. The number of incendiaries dropped was 51,513,106. A total of 36
Lancasters flew 100 or more operational sorties during the war. The aircraft
with the greatest total wa ED888, it complete 140 sorties with 103 Squadron
(UL*V/UL*M) and 576 Squadron (PM*M). By the end of the war Bomber Command
would have 57 Lancaster Squadrons.
The Lancaster was flown by a number of countries but this
account will deal with those aircraft flown in Canada and for the most
part, by the RCAF. The Lancaster Mk X with Packard Merlin engines was build
by Victory Aircraft in Toronto, Ontario, a total of 430 being produced
before the end of the war. The first of the type to arrive in the UK was
KB700 which flew on August 06, 1943, and was supplied to 405 Squadron for
operational assessment. The first unit to become operational with the MK
X was 419 Squadron.
This aircraft was employed by Maritime Command for patrols
of the East Coast of Canada. It differed little from the original aircraft
except for the removal of the mid-upper turret and the guns.
The Lancaster Mk X MR (Maritime Reconnaissance)
Lancaster MKX 0
This aircraft was used as a test bed for the Orenda
jet engine, the jet engines replacing the two outer piston engines. The
Orenda engine was later installed in the Canadair F-86 Sabre and the AVRO
Nine aircraft, FM 120; 122; 199; 207; 212; 214; 215; 217;
218, were modified for photographic survey and reconnaissance. The turrets
were removed and space flared over as can be seen in the photograph of
the aircraft. The aircraft was fitted with four camera ports immediately
behind the bomb bay for vertical and tri-megtregon cameras operated by
the Camera Operator. The long range fuel tank was installed in the former
bomb bay. The aircraft was capable of flights of long duration.
Lancaster MKX P)
Lancaster MKX AR (Area Reconnaissance)
Three aircraft, KB882; 839; 976, were modified in the
late 1950s as MKX Area Reconnaissance aircraft. They were extensively modified
with the lengthened nose and additional radar and camera equipment including
a camera in the nose that was operated by the Pilot. The crew positions
were much more comfortable, particularly the Camera Operator’s position.
Lancaster MK X AR
The civilian designation given to six aircraft for Trans-Canada
Airlines, FM184; 185; 186; 187, being among that number. The aircraft
had additional fairing of the nose and tail, windows in the fuselage and
long range fuel tanks. The photograph shows the Lancaster “Aries” used
by the Empire Air Navigational School for long range flights to solve the
problems of overseas navigation.
Lancaster MkX DC
The Lancaster MkX DC was used to to carry and launch,
the Ryan Firebee drone over the Primrose Lake Range at RCAF Station Cold
Lancaster MK X DC
Line up of aircraft of 408(P)Squadron at Goose Bay,
Labrador probably in 1956.
The aircraft shown are Lancaster MkX P, C47 Dakota
and PBY5-A Canso.
The C47 was on loan from 412 Squadron and fitted out
for Profile Recording and Photography
Inside view of the lanc:
This slide show takes the viewer inside the Wartime
Lanc showing crew positions.
Sources of information: Lancaster, the Story of a Famous
Bomber – by Bruce Robertson. AVRO Lancaster – by Harry Holms.
Just finished watching some of the old movie the Dambusters,
what a difference computers would have made in some of the scenes particularly
the explosion at the dam sites. When I was with 408 in Rockcliffe
I flew a couple of times with S/L Ken Brown who, as a Flight Sergeant,
flew on the raid. I met him a couple of times at Nanton and we had
some nice talks, he was a nice gentleman.
Dear Members and Supporters,
Progress Report No. 8 is out and can be read and copied
at our official website:
Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada)
Pat and John O’Buck from Plains, Montana, travelled
to Red Deer Alberta and stopped at the Nanton Lancaster Museum,
Nanton, Alberta. The following are some of Pat’s pictures and comments
Made a stop today en route home. Wow! I can't
believe the difference since we stopped about five years ago. It
is an honest to goodness museum now.
The wall is great. Can't make tracings of the names
though because they were done w/laser and not engraved. I found the
names of the brothers of my two friends; one on one side of the wall and
the second on the other. Hope my camera shows them.
As you can see by the picture, the names photograph well.
My friend's brother was William Harold Howson. Can't avoid some flash
because the granite is so shiny.
seats being donated to the Nanton Lancaster Museum by the Northern Alberta
Branch of the Air Gunner’s Association.
I think these pics will give you some idea of what the
seats will look like. Certainly, they are not meant for a crowd.
It is my guess that the two slabs of cement with the fancy
edges will sit on the fancy cement work blocks. The count is right;
two slabs for seats and four ends.
There has been a lot of work done to provide walkways
and the work is still in progress.
The subject web site may be of interest to you.
(ED. This is one of the best sites I have seen. It
lists Squadron histories.)
the April 2003 Newsletter we reviewed George Olson’s book, No
Place to Hide a collection of wartime poems
George wrote during his tour of operations from 1943
With each poem is a write up of the Operational flight
that gave birth to the poem. Copies of his log book are also included.
No Place to Hide 123 pages –
5 ½ x 8 ¼ Soft cover. Six illustrations
ISBN 0-9687220-0-8 ~ Price - $10.00 Can.
LORAL FAMILY GROUP
P.O. Box 4810
Edmonton, AB T6E 5G6
Year Of The Veterans
Year 2005 as ‘ Year Of The Veteran’ has been designated
To Canada’s veterans, this year of 2005 has been dedicated
With patriotism and valor, the Canadian veterans served
So recognition of their loyal service has long been deserved
When our freedom was in jeopardy, for our liberty they
With their courageous efforts, our present freedom was bought
The veterans did not battle for glory, or to gain personal
Now for their service they are receiving some deserved acclaim
From cities and towns, from villages, ranches and farms
Patriotic young men and women, responded to the call to arms
Winning the war against all oppressors, now was their
In the Navy, Army, Air Force
and Merchant Marine they’d enroll
On the oceans, the land and in the air, they battled the
the adversities and tribulations, they would undergo
Several prime years in their country’s armed forces were
To reward meritorious
service, this Year Of The Veterans is meant
That Canadians do live in freedom, to the veterans is
A legacy of precious liberty, is what they have on us bestowed
To these veterans who valorously served, is owed a great
The Year Of The
Veteran is to indicate, Canada will never forget
September 5, 2005
Lysander Runup Good
evening John., I got this from my friend Norm Muffit some time ago.
I thought it might fill a space in Shortbursts. I don't have any
information on this aircraft except that it is at the museum in Hamilton,
Editor: After our 422 Squadron closed the hangar
doors, I was posted to 426 Squadron flying Liberators on troop transport
between UK and India. Our Second Pilot, Bill Armstrong, had put in his
tour on a Lysander Army Support Squadron in Europe. He had some hairy tales
to tell. They were attached so closely to the Army that RCAF HQ lost track
of them. This resulted in missed pay parades, and few leaves or rest periods,
I am looking for information on this squadron and would
like to hear from any one who served on, or knew of, this Squadron.
My name is Louise Wright, I lost my father 1974, I was
only 13 and apart from knowing that he was in the RAF I knew little about
what he did. However I have recently lost my Mother and going through her
papers I found an invitation to a presentation of RAF Wings to graduates
of the senior course on April 15th 1944 and I was wondering whether you
would know where I could get any further information on him. His name was
Kenneth Patrick Park known to most as Paddy he was from England and he
would have been 20. The presentation took place at the Kaufman County Airport,
I would be very grateful for any help you could give
Dear John and Doreene,
Thank you for replying so quickly, unfortunately I do
not know much but the County Airport is in Texas. I think he was a pilot,
but I have no idea what squadron he was in. I do have photos of him
by an American Thunderbolt and he is with other flying crew. I could scan
and send you the pictures if it would be helpful. Sorry I don’t have any
more information than this. It would be really great if you could find
out anything that would help me.
Here are 5 photos that may help:
The one called NQ18070 seems to be of the squadron.
My father is 4th one in from the right, second row from the bottom.
Not sure if the number is significant. Its written
on the back of the photo.
In the one “With the boss” he is on the right
In “watermelons” he is second from the right.
I have included the “Thunderbolt” photo because the
ID number may jog some memories.
Invitation to the “Wings award” just in case it’s
I have other photos of him with colleagues and other aircraft
but I guess these will do for now.
I am sorry to say I don’t have any additional information
about the unit, the location or my Father than this. I am really looking
forward to hearing about what comes up, if anything!
Ed. If any reader can help Louise they can reach her at
REPORT from Ex-Air Gunners’/WAG
Association , Southern Ontario Chapter.
Ken (425 Squadron) and Linda Hill. Ken is President
of the Southern Ontario Chapter.
Ken forwarded the following:
A Video of the Chapters barbeque. This video will be shared
with other AG/WAG branches in Western Canada.
Extracts from Chapter’s News Letter:
Next meeting will be held Wednesday October 5th., 2005,
at 13:00 hours at the Royal Canadian Legion, Wilson Branch 527, 948 Sheppard
Avenue West, Downsview, Ont.
By all accounts it has been a good summer, highlighted
by two very special events. The barbeque and entertainment at President
Ken’s home and the barbeque and swim at Penny’s were very successful and
At the Oct. 5th. meeting we will hear from Bill and Marg
Cole about their visit to the Netherlands in May during which they participated
in the 60th. Anniversary celebrations of VE Day. Penny Willis will speak
about her visit earlier this year to Japan, South Korea and Thailand and
will show pictures taken.
~ Bill Milne – Secretary.
President Ken with tail turret from a Lanc which the
Chapter reconditioned and presented to the Toronto Aerospace Museum.
Fun and Dancing at the barbeque. Facing camera, Bill
and Marjorie Lloyd
Bill did a tour as a Tail Gunner.
Please send Obituary notices to Charlie Yule:
ACTHIM, John: Mbr #0305, Winnipeg,
MB: Passed away peacefully in Vancouver, BC on Sunday, Sept. 18/05 in his
81st year. He was born Kenora, ON and at the age of 18 joined the
RCAF where he served as an Air Gunner training at #9 Bombing and Gunnery
School at Montjoli, PQ. Overseas he attained the rank of Pilot Officer
- J88492. He was with #50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe in 5 Group until
he and his crew were shot down. John became wounded he was hidden
by the French Underground, eventually being captured and held as a POW
at Stalagluft III where he remained until the end of the war.
Following his military service he
joined the ranks of the Civil Service in Manitoba where he rose to the
positon of Chairman of the Municipal Board for the province.
He was a loyal member of the RCL
Br. #84, becoming a Life Member of that Branch where he served as President,
and received his Meritorious Service Medal in 1995. He was also a
valued member of the Winnipeg Branch of the Ex Air Gunner's Association
of Canada, and a Life Member of Wartime Pilot's and Observer's Assoc.
It was encouraging getting the report from the Southern
Ontario Chapter. It shows that the Air Gunner’s Association is still alive
and well. If other Branches across the country would report in we could
use Short Bursts to learn from each other and celebrate together.
My recovery is a slow process but I’m experiencing frustration
at not being able to get things done as fast as before. I guess that is
a good sign.
Bill Hillman, our Web Master, is also on the road to recovery.
“Don’t over do it Bill.”
Please drop us a line for future Short Bursts and share
your experiences with our members.
See you in November 2005.
John and Doreene Moyles