Officer Prune experiencing extreme "ring twitch" as he earns a second joint
to his Finger Order. He had shot at an ME 109 the pilot of which had returned
his fire with some effect but, proving that Goering had an answer to P/O
Prune in his Luftwaffe, the German pilot followed Prune down to see how
he fared. On bailing out Prune found that his parachute harness was too
loosely adjusted. The German failed to pull of his dive, and ploughed in
on the down line from Charing Cross in front of the 2:45.
Prune later claimed this as a victory!
Who did not love P/O Prune that
WWII character who, by example, taught us what not to do. Prune was created
by fellow Air Gunner Bill Hooper when, through an AFHQ snafu, became cartoonist
and writer, for our TEE EMM Training manual.
Recently we received two humorous
articles from Members regarding service shenanigans. We can all identify
with Prune and I’m sure the following articles will stir memories of similar
situations which contravened the spirit of ‘good order and discipline.
John Leslie Sundell.
98 Squadron 139 Wing
I received word from the Salvation
Army that my brother was in hospital at Bramshot, having been wounded,
shot in the leg while on duty in France. I went up to visit him and found
that he was mobile with the aid of crutches.
To celebrate our reunion we visited
the local bar. Harv was an Officer in the Winnipeg Rifles, whereas I was
a step lower, a WO1. All our lives we had been taken for one another, having
similar features. As this was strictly an Officers bar, Harv managed to
secure an Argyle & Southerland officer’s uniform for me so I could
attend with him. We were having a drink when a young officer came up and
asked me where I got my commission. Hav immediately stepped between us,
forcing me to go one way and the inquisitor the other. That brought an
abrupt end to the conversation and Harv and I made tracks for safer quarters.
Looking back I wonder how I had the nerve to cut such a caper. If caught
the authorities would most likely say, “another bloody “ca-nigh-de-an”.
After this episode we decided we
had better get back to base. When we got to the train station, Harv decided
he didn’t want to go up and down all those steps to reach the desired platform,
so we proceeded to cross the tracks at ground level. All was going well
until we heard the whistle of an approaching train. It was nip and tuck
to get Harv and his crutches up onto the platform before the train removed
some of his particulars.
On another visit to brother Harv
following his recovery, he managed to take his platoon on manoeuvres where
the men were taken to various points and had to make their way back to
camp. I was not one of the troop so I remained at camp, dressed once more
in the uniform of the Argyle & Sutherland. Several non-coms came to
me and said “Lieutenant Sundell, what do we do now?” This put me on the
spot, but I replied, “You’ll have to wait until Lieutenant Sundell comes
back.” They looked at me as though I had lost my marbles! This impersonation
of an officer had its advantages and, as Harv and his men marched from
base to camp site, Lieutenant Leslie Sundell, got to ride in the supply
truck. Luckily, neither my brother or I were caught in this little game.
I know I have told this story before
but it is so similar to Les' that I will repeat in abbreviated form.
I was a Flying Officer and went
to visit an old school buddy, Bud Duller, who was an LAC Aero Engine mechanic
at Skipton-on-Swale. On arrival Bud offered me a vacant bunk next to his
in the airman’s barracks. Ideal, we would have lots of time to visit. The
next morning Bud had to go to work and asked me to press his uniform in
preparation for our night in Harrogate.
I was alone in the barracks pressing
the LAC’s uniform when a high ranking officer and a WO 2 entered. The officer
approached, turned shades of purple, and snapped, “What are you doing?”
Between iron stokes I casually said,
“Just ironing a friend’s uniform, Sir.” The Officer turned to the NCO,
“take his name and number,” and stalked out of the hut.
Nothing was ever heard of this misadventure.
We had a bang up time in Harrowgate.
Then there was the time I left my
tunic in a tailor shop to have repairs done, walked into a neighbouring
pub in my shirtsleeves, stepped up to the bar and ordered a pint of bitters,
then realized I was standing by an RAF Wing Commander. He said, “you are
out of uniform!”
I replied, “you are quite right
He moved off and I think he muttered,
But that is another story.
This is not a “war story” per-se. Rather it is a tale
of larceny and intrigue, usually punishable by hanging or guillotine particularly
as it relates to one of the most heinous crimes of all – theft of food
in wartime rationed Britain during WWII.
Our Wellington crew were on detachment from 407 Squadron
during the latter months of 1944 developing what was to become the first
AWAC. This was the brainchild of the RAF Boffins to be used in the detection
of the Heinkle-III Buzz-bomb carriers launching same against London over
Back row: Mclean, Skipper; Johnny Mahoney, Nav.; Ken
Dawson, WAG; Mike Winton, WAG
Front: Ross Hamilton, WAG; Howard Robinson, Second
On the occasion in question, we were temporarily operating
from RAF station Coltishall in Norfolk, one of several stations we worked
from during this development period. Coltishall was equipped also with
Night Fighter Mossies and Beaufighters operating over the Continent at
all hours of the day and night.
One particular evening a Canadian Mossie Pilot in
the RAF, and his Navigator shot down a JU-88 over the Channel. Upon his
return to base a “thrash” subsequently developed to celebrate the crew’s
victory. Naturally our 407 crew, the only other Canadians on the base at
that time, joined in. It was a good “thrash” and ended in the late evening
when the day’s bar ration expired, and the sane people went to bed, including
four members of our crew, including the Skipper, F/L MacLean. The other
two, second Pilot “Robbie” Robinson and yours truly, foolishly got on our
bikes and rode out into the countryside to a farm where Robbie had earlier
spotted a flock of chickens roosting in trees along the roadside.
It took a bit of an effort to remove a total of six chickens
from their sleep (one for each of the crew) wring their necks, and with
strips torn from a couple of handkerchiefs, tied the legs over the cross
bars and fled the scene of the crime.
What with the over balance of the chickens, plus the inner
loads of beer, yours truly executed a “prang” and ended upside down among
the hedgerow. It was at this point we decided to “dress” the chickens.
The plucking process was crude and unprofessional,
innocent bodies torn open, wings and legs hanging, a
sorry sight to say the least. We arrived back at the Officer’s quarters
and dumped the poor victims into water in a bath tub to await further processing.
Later next day we had some visitors, namely the Station
Adjutant accompanied by two huge police constables in full uniform. First
question was posed, “OK, where are the chickens?” (The rest of the crew
were yet unaware of our night fighting sortie). Both Robbie and myself
gave the cops a blank look and asked what they were talking about. The
police wasted no time and they were not lacking in detective skills. Sherlock
Holmes would have been proud!
“Could you please produce some items of your laundry?”
they asked. We brought out a shirt or two. Then one Constable opened up
a paper bag and extracted two strips of bloodied handkerchiefs and compared
the laundry marks with the identical ones on the shirts. If this was not
enough for a conviction, they emptied a second bag that contained bits
and fragments of blue serge. They explained that this evidence was recovered
from the scene of disembodiment among the thorn bushes. They quickly ascertained
that the bits of fluff were not from RAF clothing, but did match RCAF battle
dress. Thus they had us. We disclosed the location of the spoils, and what
a sorry sight they were in the light of day.
We were charged, advised of our rights, and told that
the Adjutant would be informed of the date and place of our trial. The
Adjutant advised us of the seriousness of the offence and, if we were convicted
in the civil court, we could be brought before a District Court- Marshal.
Conviction could result in dishonourable discharge if carried to the extreme.
This brought on some serious knee-trembling however, the
Adjutant suggested the only option open to us was to try to enlist the
assistance and sympathy of the Station Commander. Both Robbie and I shuddered.
The CO was Group Captain Donaldson DSO and Bar, DFC with 2 Bars, Battle
of Britain and Bomber Command.
When we were ushered into the CO’s office Robbie was our
spokes person and related the tale of the chicken episode. Still standing
to attention, we expected the CO to really give us a dressing down. Instead,
he roared with laughter and said, “How I wish I could have been along just
to watch”! He then agreed to go with us to court.
The ensuing trial in the little village was conducted
just like a murder trial. At the end of the constable’s evidence the lady
Judge directed a bitter summation and asked the Group Commander if he wished
to speak on our behalf. Our Commanding Officer launched into one of the
finest (and untrue) summations I have ever heard.
He said, “The true victims here, F/L Robinson and F/O
Hamilton, are on my station at present on a very secret assignment which
I cannot mention (true), and it is of great significance to England and
the war effort. Both of these fine young officers volunteered their services
to come from Canada to fight on our behalf. Both have been recommended
for DFCs (a lie) and should you people see fit to convict them, on the
basis of a silly prank, which now they both rue, you and I will all will
be the poorer, and we could lose their priceless services for the remainder
of the war. Following a possible conviction, they will be subject to a
District Court Marshall, which may result in a dishonourable discharge,
and a return to Canada in disgrace. The decision rests with you. Thank
The Madam judge’s summation was far from gentle. We were
classified as common thieves stealing scarce food from the starving populace.
Her final words were, “you are a disgrace to your uniforms and to your
families. There will be a fine of six pounds each.”
I think we each had a cheque written before she had finished
Back at base Robbie and I decided to repay the Group Captain
for saving our necks by presenting him with a carton of Sweet Caporal cigarettes.
We approached him in the mess where he was playing a game of billiards
in the games room, and offered up our token of thanks. He very graciously
accepted with this comment, “I suppose it is in order for me to accept
these now that the trial is over, and the cigarettes should not be construed
as a bribe. Thank you both.” As we departed he called out, “ By the way
gentlemen, don’t be late for dinner tonight. I understand they are serving
The training pamphlet, Gunnery Sense, was published
It covered lecture room subjects, range work, practice
and preparation for the real thing.
The following is the last segment; The real Thing.
A Tail Gunner’s Story
I’m going to tell you something about the life of a tail
gunner in one of our heavy bombers. But if you expect a long catalogue
of thrilling incidents, you will be disappointed. We certainly have our
excitements but for the most part our outings lack the Hollywood element.
The highlights of combat come only now and then. At the end of seven and
one half hours in the tail turret one rather sighs for them.
The tail gunner is part of a crew, and this crew’s life
dominates not only his flying hours, but his whole existence. You come
together, six non descript individuals – young and old, lean and fat, officer
and non-commissioned officer. You eye each other in a rather British sort
of way, and wish you could find something graceful and appropriate to say.
You can’t. You think how old they look, and I suppose you must look just
as old to them,. None of you would probably have chosen each other if crews
were made on the pickup principal, but, after a bit, you would not dream
of changing. It is really very curious.
The two other things that are all-important to an air
gunner are his turret and guns. He is entirely responsible for their upkeep
and efficiency. Daily he cleans them, fills the ammunition boxes, looks
to the sighting. As to his turret, it is his home for all his flying hours.
He is practically always working in the dark. At first, one is always at
six and sevens. One puts down the loading handle or the spanner or the
dummy round, and can’t find it again. One bangs one’s head, and tears ones
hands. After a bit it becomes almost lovingly familiar. One knows the exact
peculiarities, the strains and stresses of each fitting, and each seems
to have a personality which one regards with affection even in its most
I will take you with us tonight on an ordinary sortie
over Germany. The first time it is rather a thrill, but after a bit it
becomes an unnoticed routine. So settle down on the seat. Our turrets are
power operated swinging easily in any direction, so you test your turret
moving it to and fro by pressing on a pair of handles. And finally you
load and cock the guns, putting on the safety catches, because one may
meet a brother Boche at any moment. All this makes you feel rather hot,
because, knowing you may fly high, you have a couple of pullovers, a leather
Irving suit which is fur
lined, leather gauntlets with silk linings and
heavy flying boots. You apply your body gently to the seat. Seven hours
is a good long sit. I can assure my listeners that the last few months
have made me a connoisseur of contours.
Then you switch over your inter-comm, and speak to the
Captain to show that it is working alright; you hear others doing the same,
and in this way get a fair idea of what is going on all around the aircraft.
Personally, I never talk on the inter-comm. Unless I have anything that
needs saying. My first Squadron Commander told me that a garrulous tail-gunner
was an infernal nuisance – and I marked his words.
The thing about a tail turret is the sense of detachment
it gives you. It has all the effects of being suspended in space. It sounds
a little terrifying, but actually it is fascinating. The effect it had
on me is to make me feel that I am in a different aircraft than the others.
I hear their voices; I know they are there at the other end of the aircraft,
but I feel remote and alone. Running my little show, I like to sense that
they need not worry about attack from the rear.
we are rising slowly above the familiar darkened landmarks. A pause and
we have crossed the coast, and ask the Captain’s permission to fire a burst
into the sea, just to make doubly sure a to the serviceability of our guns.
Time passes, we are over the Dutch Coast, and soon we
are flying high above a bank of cloud,. It is lit from below by German
searchlights, and this gives a sort of opaque glow. Ten minutes later
we are past the clouds. We have been this way before and are getting to
know it quite well. Now the Germans are after us with their searchlights.
Out in front there is a flak barrage. You and I in the tail turret cannot
see the flak barrage yet. The searchlights keep crossing and crossing.
Now one has caught us. But no. After holding us for a moment, it passes.
Two minutes later, however, they get us good and proper. And very confusing
it is too. We felt a cross between a fly on an arc lamp and a man whose
clothes have been pinched while he is bathing.
We turn and twist, hoping to get clear and – now the party
is starting! Here comes the flak. You see the pyrotechnics come bursting
up at you, and going off all around you, with a sense of detachment. It
would cost you a shilling at the Crystal Palace. I have never really honestly
felt it could be going to hit me. But if it does catch us, we have the
benefit of our marvellously constructed aircraft. They stand a lot of punishment.
A large hole was once made only four feet behind my seat, and I never knew
the old kite had been hit.
we are getting close to the target now. It is a terrible temptation to
the gunner to sit and watch the bombs dropping, but he really shouldn’t,
because we may be attacked at any moment, and the rear gunner’s job is
to watch for their attack, not ours. Still, lets have a peep or two out
of the corner of our eye. The first stick seems a bit wide, but the second
hits the target square as far as one can judge, and adds to the blaze.
“Whoopee!” shouts the Second Pilot, Whoopee!” shouts back the Captain;
“Whoopee!” shout you and I from the back.
We waste no time, but turn for home. This is where we
may expect attack. We have been fired at pretty continuously all the time
but now the flak has stopped, and there are only the searchlights. This
seems to suggest fighters. A few nights earlier in this same area, an aircraft
from our Squadron met an enemy fighter under just these conditions. Both
aircraft illuminated by German searchlights, the fighter came bursting
up and started banging off tracer at about six hundred yards. It went low.
gunner let him come in to within three hundred yards and then gave him
three or four bursts. He banked sharply and then broke away. However, the
gunner thought that was not the end of him, nor was it. He came in again,
slightly above, and firing off a red and green tracer with all the enthusiasm
associated with the Fifth of November at a Prep school. This time our gunner
gave him all he’d got. But he didn’t need a lot, he just went into vertical
dive, and pitch forked himself into the Reich.
Well we are all keyed up for something to happen, but
it doesn’t. More searchlights, more flak, but no fighters, and in due course
we are crossing the coast again, though that in itself spell’s no immunity
from attack. It is beginning to feel pretty chilly, because we have been
flying at a good height; and I suddenly find that one of my legs is getting
cramped and that six and one half hours of scanning the heavens has been
as bit of a strain on the eyes; and that my hands have gown weary
from holding the grips that operate the turret. In short, quite suddenly
one finds that a lot of time has passed much to one’s surprise, and
that one feels tired. Still, anything may happen at any moment; one keeps
telling oneself, one must not relax.
Now we are over our own coast. We have had a good trip.
Things have gone well. The target was found easily and was well and truly
hit. There is a happy atmosphere inside the kite – though nothing is said.
You notice the barometer rising. It is sort of psychological.
here we are, safe over the aerodrome. In we come - a good landing, and
taxi up to the hangar. The CO is on the tarmac and wants to hear about
it; then we go pull off all our flying kit, swap a few experiences in the
crew room, and put in the report. And so to bacon and eggs, and bed in
the pale light of dawn.
I wish I could tell you something about this ordinary
Tail Gunner’s outing that was more spectacular than the things that have
happened to you and me….But the life of a Tail Gunner in a heavy bomber
is one of long hours of humdrum. I’m glad that so much of the mock-heroic
nonsense talked about Tail-Gunners in the early days of the war has dried
up – suicide clubs, and that sort of idiocy. We resented it.
But I should like to say a word of thanks to the designers
and work people who gave us our splendid, unfailing guns, and to the armourers
who at all hours and in all weathers keep them in action. They are heroes
of this war, and it is they who make our work something in which we have
a full measure of confident pride.
Ex-Air Gunner laid Wreath
at Remembrance ceremony in Ottawa November 11, 2005
The memories of Second World War comrades who never returned
to Canada was in Ed Chenier’s thoughts as he laid the wreath in their honour
during the National Remembrance Day in Ottawa. Ed was accompanied by his
Grandson who was a Warrant Officer in the Air Cadets.
Ed Chenier with photo of Air Force comrades
During his 15 bombing missions over Europe Ed was the
Wireless Operator. On one flight an air gunner asked him if he would like
to fire a few rounds. Having air gunner training, he accepted. Ed was firing
into the North Sea but he didn’t hear the Skipper’s order, “cease fire.”
Then Ed saw some chaps jumping out of a fishing boat and stopped immediately.
On another occasion, Ed recalls an incident while on a
night operation. After their successful mission they set their aircraft
on course for home. Ed noticed a blip on his radar screen that signified
an enemy fighter was getting into position to attack from the rear. Ed
alerted the gunners who had no visual contact. Just as Ed was about to
give the command for evasive action, the tail gunner yelled, “Corckscrew
Port – Go.” The pilot immediately threw the aircraft into a left diving
turn and the gunners opened fire. It was an intense moment. The enemy fighter
repositioned for a second attack, again without success.
Many surviving Veterans reflect back on the war and wonder
why their lives were spared.
RCAF HALIFAX LW170 RECOVERY
Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada) Members and Supporters,
Please note that Progress Report No. 12A (July 11, 2006)
is now on our official website at
Thanks for all your interest and support to save RCAF
Thoughts On the Controversial
Plaque On Display at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa
Dear John :
Probably like many other Bomber Command vets I was saddened
by the notice of the plaque now on view at the Canadian War Museum,
Ottawa, essentially condemning allied bombing in World War II .Why, of
all military activities in the Second World War this should be selected
for public view escapes me . It certainly can't be considered a memorial
to the 10,000 or so Canadian boys who lost their lives serving with Bomber
Command. I suppose it is to remind current generations of the wartime tragedies
suffered by civilian populations Certainly a worthy objective if put in
In the first place that was "the
way the war was fought" - it wasn't one sided - witness the bombing
of Warsaw and other Polish cities (!939), a residential district in Rotterdam
(May 1940), British cities (1940-41), Russian cities, particularly Stalingrad
and Leningrad (1941 -44). Hence thousands of civilian lives were lost (70,000
in Great Britain) and homes destroyed by Lufwaffe activities. In fact,
a major tragedy of World War II was the death of civilians, estimated
at around 30 million. Russians had the heaviest losses followed by Poland,
with Germany a distant third. This reflects the fact, apart from the closing
weeks, allied bombing was the only part of the war fought on or over Germany.
It could also be pointed out that German losses through allied bombing
were little more than 10% of exterminations in the concentration camps.
Second the assertion that bombing had
little effect on German war production is at best a "half-truth". Let us
remember that following the fall of much of Europe to German occupation
in 1940 the industrial capacity of the occupied countries fell into German
hands, and with conscripted labour made a contribution to German war production
- much of it beyond the capacity or out of reach for allied bombers. Hence
there has to be a distinction made between "German" war production and
war production "within Germany". Critical assessment of the effectiveness
of allied bombing does not take into consideration where and what level
of production would have otherwise prevailed.
Dear John and Doreen,
Regarding the article in The Turret-Spring-Summer-2006
on 'RAF on STRIKE 1945' (Note: THE Turret ran our June
2006 article on the RAF Strike). I am writing on behalf of my father who
would like to contribute an article to the monthly newsletter of his experience
during the time of the RAF Strike 1945. Any comments that you would like
me to pass on I will gladly do so, I know my father will be very interested
in anything you advise or ask and you can contact me via this email address.
My father writes:
I was stationed at Abu Sueir Ismalia M.E. Canal Zone.
One morning all ground personnel were ordered to assemble in the station
cinema to hear grievances etc. When the officer in charge asked for the
elected spokesman to stand up and speak all the lights went out. In total
pitch black they never did know who their spokesman was.
Another 'moan' was the order to wear best blue after work.
As many of the personnel had come through the war via the desert , Greece
- Italy, 'Best Blue' was not a priority in winning the war in those areas.
From Cyril Denniss ex 38 Sqdn - Stickle Back Wellingtons
- Berka 3 Benghazi - Skipper P.O Densmore - Canadian. I lost touch with
him when he was time ex and went home from Foggia - Italy.
I hope this is another aspect of 'The Strike' that will
P.S. This strike was reported in a weekly publication
at the time called 'John Bull'
Hi from England.
I have just picked up a set of books relating to a L.A.C
East F.G 1802582.
I have his flying log stamped as completed training as
Air Gunner and Air Bomber effective 23-12-43 from ground instruction school
No 6 Mountain View Ontario.
Also at No 9 Air Observer school St John Quebec. I also
have his sight log book and an exercise book from training.
What puzzles me is he is a L.A.C Leading Air Craftsman
training as a bomber/gunner, has completed his training including observer
up to April 1944.
There are no other entries after this. I do not have
any other details or names only initials. As all books are R.C.A.F issue
I happened across your web site and wondered if anyone could shed light
on what happened to Mr East after training. I will admit I have looked
through Bomber Command Losses, there are some Lake's mentioned but not
with his initials.
Any help or pointers would be appreciated.
Subject: Details regarding Lion Squadron #427
Hello to you. My uncle, Flight Sergeant Air Gunner
Bruce Elrick Findlay was a member of this squadron. Are there records
of their flights, logs, diaries that are available to view or buy?
Just wondering if you may know where I can direct my search. Thank
you for your time.
Cypress Hills Provincial Park
Air Gunner Trophy
I wonder if you or your contacts in Canada
can help me. The following information is needed for a Black History Month
exhibition in Manchester, England.
Sgt Lincoln Orville Lynch, No 102 Squadron RAF, from Jamaica
Winner of the Air Gunner Trophy 1944
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his determination
and great skill as an Air gunner in bombing sorties over Germany WW2.
Sgt L O Orville picture is located on a website called
Moving Here located under The Gallery section: www.movinghere.org.uk
I have been trying to locate any information on the "Air
Gunner Trophy", I am trying to reproduce one for the exhibition.
- Does the Air Gunner Trophy still exist?
- What does it look like, any inscriptions on the trophy?
- Are there any pictures of it?
- Do you have any pictures of any other WWII Air force
Your help on this matter would be much appreciated.
Insurance & Risk Officer
Insurance & Risk Management Group
Room 39b, via door 126
Manchester City Council
PO Box 314
Thanks to Laurin Carlson
firstname.lastname@example.org for the
Regarding your search for a picture of Gerald “Jerry”
Mckenna’s grave in Reykjavik, Iceland.
1) The people from Iceland were all from the north west
of Iceland, no one was from Reykjavik.
2) I was able to find on the Internet
details of his burial in Iceland.
Search yourself here
3) Also the "Maple Leaf Project" has a mandate to photograph
all Canadian Military Grave Sites.
According to their website all the
graves in Iceland have been photographed.
A search of McKenna in Iceland says
photo coming soon http://www.mapleleaflegacy.org/grave_page.asp?id=94042
4) Here is where you can request a photo, http://www.mapleleaflegacy.org/To_Request_A_Photo.htm
5) Here are all the Canadian War graves in Iceland
6) This site tells you that all the War Graves in Iceland
have been photographed
So the photo that you want should be available.
I am writing from
Australia and have stumbled upon your website. In your April 2001 edition
of Ex Air Gunners SHORT BURSTS, you write about the top secret steam
powered Halifax MKIV bomber of WWII.
Recently I was given a WWII flying helmet from my parents
for xmas and inscribed on the inside is the writings “S” Sqdn. I have been
trying to track the origins of this helmet and in particular what the term
S SQDN means.
Your article about steam powered Halifax’s is drawing
some debate regarding authenticity. I am asking you if this article is
fact or fiction? I really need to know the origins of this helmet
and when I discovered your article I thought I had found the truth…maybe
it appears I have not.
If you could please let me know by return email I would
be grateful. If it is a hoax then I will need to get back on the discovery
Many thanks in advance for your prompt reply.
02 9798 2022
0409 929 527
Editor: I replied to Peter advising him that the
‘steam powered Halifax’ was really a hoax. But a damn good one! Check it
Dear John and Doreene
I wonder if it would be possible to place a request in
your magazine? My uncle served as an Air Gunner on 78 Squadron and I am
trying to write a book on the history of the Squadron. Through my research
I am aware that a large number of Canadians served on the Squadron and
I would love to hear from any ex members of the Squadron as I feel that
the more information about the squadron that I can get from "the horses
mouth" so to speak the better. I am in contact with a number of ex squadron
members primarily bomb aimers and one air gunner who by coincidence is
a Canadian. If you can help I would be eternally grateful.
My postal address is as follows:
Captain DP Sheerin MBE MSM
1 (UK) Armoured Division HQ & Signal Regiment
British Forces Post Office 15
Request from Ted Hackett
I had a call from a gentleman this morning looking for
some information on an ex-RCAF member. The name is Robert Louis MacDonald
and he was a WAG. He was born in 1922 and his wife's
name was Agnes. They have no information regarding Wireless School
or Squadron served with. He did give me a number 48822, which I assume
was his service number and I presume he was an Officer. This gentleman
was Air Traffic Control from 1953 to 1959 but I don't know where.
He then became a teacher apparently. One of those cases where he
doesn't pass on his experience to his family I guess, I run into that when
I visit a school on Remembrance Day.
Do you have the address for the department in Ottawa
that has all that information or do you know where I can find it?
Nice September Issue, I sent it off to a couple of friends
and to my son in Khandahar, Afghanistan. My only complaint would be the
use of the modern day Squadron crest in a story about a wartime unit.
But then, I'm a nitpicker as everyone knows.
Editor – Did anyone else notice our error.
It is a wonderful crest.
Immigrants of War
A NEW book recognizing and honouring
thousands of lesser-known American soldiers who fought the Nazi threat
in World War II has been released, shedding new light on heroism that many
Wally Fydenchuk of Ontario, Canada,
is the author of Immigrants of War, a book about Americans who served
in the British and Canadian air force before the attack on Pearl Harbour
in order to fight in the war. Many of them joined at the risk of imprisonment
by their own government for violating the U.S. Neutrality Act. It's a good
book, a fascinated read about young Americans deciding to fight the Axis
powers before Pearl Harbor.
Many early recruits had to lose
their U.S. citizenship because they had to swear an oath to the king. The
oath of service was modified for later recruits. 15 thousand Americans
joined the Canadian military. About 9,000 of them joined the Air Force.
About 1,000 Americans were killed in British and Canadian service, but
they are not recognized on many memorials. They were ahead of their times.
They didn't wait for their country to declare war. Many memorial sites
do not list Americans killed while fighting in a foreign military. Those
fellows virtually disappeared off the record books. A lot of these fellows
disappeared in the shuffle, yet they were visionaries. They saw the Nazi
At the time, Great Britain and Canada,
had begun a recruitment program to draw Americans to join the Royal Air
Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Joe Hartshorn, originally from Pennsylvania
and now a Florida resident, suggested the title of the book. He flew bombers
with Canadian forces during the war and earned the Distinguished Flying
Cross for his valour. His is one of the many stories related in Fydenchuk's
Immigrants of War
is a companion to Fydenchuk's earlier book, "Before the Battle," which
focuses on the history of the old RCAF base. Fydenchuk has self-published
the book and it can be ordered by writing to
W. Peter Fydenchuk,
Crediton, Ontario Canada, NOM
The cost of a book is $24.95, including
Gunner Branch Reports
Northern Alberta Group
Had our luncheon meeting today,
fair crowd there about 15 I think counting a guest. There were
three members from the Wartime Aircrew Assoc. The POWs are no longer
going to join us according to Svend. We are going to go back to meeting
on the second Thursday of each month, our original day.
We had a guest today a Cedric Mah
who flew for the Chinese during the war carrying supplies over the "Hump".
He also disposed of a few million dollars in Chinese currency during a
stressful moment over the mountains. I have a copy of his story so
I am going to write something up for Short Bursts, with his permission.
I also have some materiel on his late brother who flew on the same operations.
Re: Memorial Benches at Nanton,
Darren delivered the benches and
they look OK
On an other subject. We periodically
receive e-mail inquiries from persons wanting to find former aircrew members
who survived the war. We have practically no sources for tracing the where-a-bouts
of such individuals.
The latest inquiry is from a Scott
Johnston, from Aurora, Ontario, who along with his brothers is putting
together a website based on his late father's war diary. His father served
with 115 Squadron. They are specifically looking for the bomb-aimer, Robert
(Bob) Livingstone, (or his family). Bob Livingstone was originally
Northern Saskatchewan Branch
Due to failing health, ‘Smokey’
Robson had to give up the position of Contact Person for the Branch. The
current Contact Person is Harry Thompson, 702 Mckercher Dr., Saskatoon,
SK S7H 3W7 Phone: (306) 374-6036.
We thank Smokey for the great work
he has done for the Ex-Air Gunner’s Association of Northern Saskatchewan.
You will notice that this edition
started on a humorous note. It is the funny escapades from our service
days that seem to come to the surface.
One day I had to sub for a grade
12 teacher. It was a poetry class and students will do anything to distract
a sub just to get away from the lesson. It was November and a chap said,
“Mr. Moyles, you were in the war, tell us about your experiences.”
I realized his purpose so I casually
said, “oh you would not be interested. All we remember are the gay times.”
There was dead silence. Then the
class burst into laughter. I realized that, in the English language, the
only constant is change. Gay, to my students, had a totally different connotation.
Send us your humorous experiences,
the “shenanigans” that made life bearable in those uncertain days. For
example, here is one that comes to mind.
My Pilot and I (each F/Os) were
in a pub in London and met two Canadian Privates on leave from France.
When the pub ran out of beer, and called “Time Gentlemen Please”, we moved
on looking for a serving pub. The soldiers were having trouble with sore
feet so they took off their boots, tied the laces together, and threw them
over their shoulders. As they padded along, quite comfortable in their
stocking feet, a Military Police van pulled up, two Red Cap Police corporals
jumped out and ordered the soldiers into the van. My pilot and I, obligated
to come to our countryman’s defence, stepped up and said, “It is quite
alright Corporal, they are with us, we will look after them.”
Out came the sticks and before we
realized what was happening all four of us were in the paddy-wagon heading
for the local lockup. My Pilot and I cooled our heels in a cell for twenty
minutes before a British army Captain released us. But the pub-crawl glow
had faded and we had to start all over again.
Then there is Member Sandy Sanderson’s
story about he and his crew coming into possession of a keg of beer, quite
illegally, and rolling it down the street. At each corner they would pop
the bung, pour a glass and toast the town. They eventually ended up in
the Police Station and, when the Bobby was not looking, Sandy stole the
badge off the policeman’s helmet. Sandy, for good luck, wore the police
badge on all future missions.
Years later the English Bobby found
Sandy in Vancouver (Sandy was then a Vancouver Policeman) and presented
him with the helmet. Badge and helmet were reunited.
So lets hear about your shenanigans.
There are a thousand stories out there. Share them with your colleagues
before these memories are lost.
John & Doreene
LAST POST ~ Charlie Yule,
We have been informed of the passing
JAMES H. FLICK, MBR. #0638, SUNDRE, AB on August
16/06 at the age of 81. It is believed Jim was traveling east by
auto on his way to an intended visitation and fishing outing with his brother
when he became involved in an accident.
Services were held in Sundre, AB August 22 with cremation
following. Interment to be at Woodlawn Cemetery, Guelph, ON Sept.
Jim enlisted on April 16th 1942 in Hamilton, ON and attended
Toronto Manning Depot. Selected for Gunnery Training he was posted
to Belleville, ON for Initial Training School #5. Then it was on
to #9 B&G at Mont Joli, PQ. Following completion of training
and receiving his AG Brevet he was posted overseas in March '43 to #23
OTU on Wimpy's (Wellington's) thence to 1659 Unit for conversion onto Halifax
i and ii's.
On his third trip with #405 (8 Group) PF trip - which
was to Berlin in August '43, his aircraft was badly damaged but managed
to make a forced landing in the Baltic Sea off the south coast of Sweden.
Interned he was returned to England March 16/44. He was then posted
to 432 Squadron, 6 Group, where he finished his tour and returned to Canada
November '44. He then became involved with Gunnery Instruction at
Mountain View until discharged in Sept. '45. In 1946 he re-enlisted
in Winnipeg and after a years training period in Trenton he became a Weapons
Technician (Air). His following service was in CFB Rivers, MB, Chatham,
NB (twice), Summerside, PEI (twice), Greenwood, NS, 3F Wing, Zweibrucken,
Germany, and Camp Borden, ON. where he instructed in Explosives Specialty.
For about the last 20 years of service he was involved
with EOD (Explosives Disposal) attending courses in the UK and USA.
After almost 32 years of service, Jim retired at Chatham on October 4th,
1974 having been commissioned during his wartime service as J90882.
F. ALEX McQUARRIE, #0077, CALGARY, AB:
Alex passed away at the age of 85 on September 25th/06. He enlisted
in the RCAF as R102405 at Regina, SK March 22/44 and was posted for Manning
Depot at Penhold, AB where he was selected for WAG training. He attended
#3 Wireless School in Winnipeg on Course #25 and upon completion was posted
to #5 Bombing and Gunnery at Dafoe, SK - Course #27, where he received
his WAG Brevet and Sergeants Stripes.
Overseas for OTU training on Hampden's at Cottesmore,
Alex as then posted to #424 Squadron, Topcliffe, 6 Group, where he and
his crew converted to Wellington's (Wimpy's). On Operations April
19th 1943, they were shot down on their 9th Op (Frankfort) and interned
as POW's until being liberated May 2nd/45 and returned to the UK May 4/45.
He was discharge with the rank of Flying Officer - J96427, on October 5th,
In addition to being a Life Member of the Ex Air Gunner's
Association of Canada, he was also a Life Member of the RCAF National POW
Association and the Aircrew Association of Southern Alberta.