Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:
MARCH 2007
Gerry Musgrove DFC WOP/AG and Bomb Aimer, RCAF, No. 15 Squadron RAF.
Dec. 22, 1915 – Dec. 28, 2006.

Taken in part, from The Globe and Mail, Friday February 16, 2007.
Article  by Buzz Bourdon.

Gerry joined the RCAF on Jan. 30, 1941 and trained as a Wireless Air Gunner. He reached Britain in November 1941. He was posted to No. 10 Squadron, RAF,June 1942.
First he was crewed up on Stirlings and then went to Lancaster bombers.

Gerry put in 30 Ops, and was eligible to cease flying as he had completed his tour of operations. However the other crewmembers still had 5 more Ops. to complete their tours, so Gerry decided to stay with the crew.

Gerry Musgrove leans against the tail gunner’s turret on a Lancaster bomber

Their final operation, June 8, 1944, two days after D-Day, target, the railway yards at Massy-Palaiseau. At this time Gerry was acting as Bomb Aimer. They were holding a steady course at 6,000 feet in preparation for the bomb release but, within seconds of releasing their bomb load, the Lancaster was subjected to cannon fire from an enemy night fighter. The aircraft burst into flames necessitating bailing out. Two air Gunners in the crew were killed.

Gerry landed safely and, with the help of the French Resistance, was able to evade capture. Part of his story is as follows;   ‘It was in the middle of the night and the French countryside seemed sound asleep, but Gerry knew that, after five years of war, the German occupiers and their French collaborators, were always watchful for Allied airmen. Eventually he smelt coffee brewing. After an old man emerged from a building, Gerry decided to take a huge risk and called out to him. After he was satisfied they were alone, the Frenchman took him in and fed him.’ “He gave me part of an apple, some bread, cheese, but best of all, a serving of Calvados brandy.”

Gerry Musgrove with restored Lanc.  1988

Two in the French Underground who assisted him were, Marcel Steinmetz and Rene Didier. Post War, Gerry kept in touch with those brave men who risked their lives to assist him escape capture.

This article is for the benefit of all AGs and WAGs (we will condescend to include the Aeroplane Drivers, Navigators, Bomb Aimers, and Flight Engineers) who are sitting around waiting for the Grim Reaper. Take a page from Glenn Heisler’s book.

Glenn Heisler, (AG with 434 Squadron), joined the Corps of Commissionaires, Nov. 24, 1983  and took up his duties at the Regina airport. In December 2006, after 23 years at his post, Glenn was scheduled to move to a Commissionaire’s position in a downtown building where his duties would be less strenuous. However, a recent call to Glenn disclosed that he could not resist the lure of the winged machines and the personnel who fly them. Glenn is again a Commissionaire at the Regina Airport, proudly wearing his AG wing on his uniform. If you see him, say hello.

When Glenn thought he was leaving the Airport, he gladly accepted the well wishes, handshakes, and kisses from airport personnel.

It makes one wonder if maybe, just maybe, this was a put up job so Glen could enjoy the ladies.

Congratulations Glen, you are an inspiration to us all. Keep our runways safe. Many more years of happy employment.

Feed-back from February 2007 Page

My brother Don, who belongs to the Air gunners' Association, drew my attention to your request in Short Bursts, and asked me to dispatch a response. He has internet connection but hasn't figured out how to use it. His email address is so please reply to him as well as to me (if you have a reply).

Our father, B69138 Pte. D. Roy Macfie, served in the Veterans' Guard from Sept. 1942 until Jan. 1945, when he was invalided out -- as a consequence of a shrapnel wound received at Passchendaele in the Great War!. The inactive life of a POW guard, interrupted periodically with hard labour back home on the farm during leaves, caused the shrapnel to move around, infect, and cause serious trouble. Any photographs Dad brought home were of himself and his mates grinning at the camera, so would hardly be of interest to you. Well, there is one of himself standing post with rifle at a guard post, but none I can think of that show actual POWs. He served only in Ontario camps, and much of that out on detachment with trusty prisoners on work parties, so life was tame. And he brought home no examples of POW crafts that I know of.

He did, however, write lots of letters home, and to those of us away in the military. Most of these were kept, and are in the hands of my aforesaid brother, Don. Unfortunately, they consist mostly of his concern for how Mother and the remaining youngsters at home were coping on the farm, and seldom mention his "Jerries" (when he does, he generally speaks respectfully of them -- except one occasion where a gang of woodcutters went on strike and he and another guard with a farm background had to hitch up the horses and put up the day's quota of firewood themselves.) Recently, I typed up edited copies of a thousand or so family wartime letters for distribution among present and future generations of Macfies. Included would be 60 or more of Dad's from the POW camps. I could provide photocopies of pages that I thought might interest you, or I suppose Don could dig out the originals for copying if necessary. My hard drive probably contains the whole set, or some of the years' worth at least, but the letters are arranged in chronological order, day by day, and not grouped by writer (there are six regular correspondents involved, plus the odd letter from or to six and eight-year old kids) so you can imagine the volume you would need to wade through if I sent the works by internet.

 Anyway, get back to Don and to me, confirming at least that you received this. 

John Macfie

Hi I'm Tyler Jones I am 11 years old

I go to Tweedsmuir public school my grandpa served in world war 2. His nick name was Bawana Bob Jones and he was a wireless air gunner like you out of Yorkshire England with the RCAF. 

Any way my school is doing a hero project and I would like to ask if you could send me some information about world war 2 as a wireless air gunner please.  I am interested in doing my grandpa as a hero because he is a real person and he helped protect our country and I think that is a real hero and I bet you do too. 

So I hope you can send me this information it would be greatly appreciated and maybe you could send me information about him like what he did and stuff.  Pictures are o.k. too.

My project is due in about a week.

Thank you very much.

Tyler Jones.

Ed. We forwarded material to Tyler who attends Tweedsmuir School in London, Ont.. Maybe one of our Members in that area might want to contact Tyler to assist him in obtaining more information on his Grandfather.

Dear Mr Moyles,

I apologise for the intrusion. I am writing to you since, from browsing the various Dambusters Websites, you may be the best person to help me. I am about to make a trip to Germany to visit the Moehne, Eder and Sorpe dams and am interested in contacting anyone who has been there. I am trying to find information about the (reported) museum to the raid which is near the Eder, and also to locate anyone there who had first or (by now) second hand information about events on the ground during and after the raid. If you were able to suggest resources or even put me in touch with any one who has visited the dams recently I would be most grateful. 

Yours Sincerely,
Rupert Harvey
Electric Entertainment Ltd.,
Vancouver, V6R 3L8,
BC, Canada.

Tel: 604 738 8989
Fax: 604 738 8972 

de ja vu 

There was been much comment in previous Short Bursts Pages regarding the controversial wording on the Plaque at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The Plaque reads as follows:

Mass bomber raids against Germany resulted in vast destruction and heavy loss of life. The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested. Bomber Commands aim was to crush civilian moral and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead, and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions in German war production until late in the war.

Since 1945 critics have tried to diminish or tarnish the achievements of the 125,000 gallant aircrew and ground personnel who waged a relentless campaign over the skies of occupied Europe, mainly Germany, 

It takes one back 15 years when the McKenna brothers made the controversial TV documentary, “Death by Moonlight,”  Bomber Command, which was the second in the three part CBC series: “The Valour and the Horror.”

Short Bursts March 1992, Issue #37, Pg. 15.

Letter to Regina Leader Post, February 8, 1992, by Cliff Shirley DFM, DFC.


The TV drama, Death by Moonlight – Bomber Command, depicts Air Vice Marshal Sir Arthur Harris as a killer of civilians. If he was, where do you think he got his lessons? If you had flown over London, Croydon, or Coventry in 1941, you would have seen that the German War Lords, with fighters and bombers, practiced the theory of total destruction; and in 1943 came the Nazi V-1 and V-2 rockets.

Yes, I was with the RCAF at an RAF station, and my admiration for the planning skills of the British war cabinet and officers regarding the air war, was most positive. I have nothing but praise for Canada’s efforts in the Commonwealth Air Training Plan – the adequate training of air and ground crew; the accurate planning that moved us from station to station for our courses; and the professional treatment we received regarding food, health, and accommodation during our preparatory career. I have great appreciation for the U.S. Air Force and its successes in daylight bombing.

I would like to tell the authors of the Valour and the Horror that he needs to change his thinking about the gruesome things caused by bomb dropping, to positive thoughts about the Allied war effort, especially the accuracy of the bombing using precise bombsights equipped for night and day, while facing well aimed enemy hostility.

Even after viewing the show, I’m proud of the cause we went to war for. I’m proud of the total plans for the Allied forces – the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

The fire bombing of Hamburg in July 1943 was one carefully planned step in the defeat of Hitler’s Germany. I was over Hamburg that night and we had a very specific aiming point in an industrial part of that great city. The TV show makes some gruesome presentation of those raids.

We always thought of Harris as the key man in sending information to heavy bomber squadrons, with orders for aircrew to prepare “X” number of bombers, each loaded with 12,000 pounds of armour piercing bombs and incendiaries, and a petrol load of 1,200 gallons. The announcement of the aiming point came at the time of crew briefing just prior to take off, with time to carefully study pictures and maps of the route and target.

The point of bombing contact was always photographed automatically upon the release of the last bomb. The air and ground crews could view these photographs the morning after a raid. Maybe there could be no greater feeling of accomplishment than to view a photograph that showed a direct hit. I, for one, think that our targets were carefully chosen industrial areas, and the aircrews’ intentions were, most definitely, to help knock out part of the German war machine.

War is war, and the cost of losses on both sides is a debt that can never be repaid or forgotten. The anxious parents and friends also paid a price. Don’t destroy their pride in their sons and daughters, by thinking this TV version depicts the whole truth.

Not too many raids were ill-timed or missed their target areas. No secret policy of using civilians as aiming points was ever heard in our war arena. We knew our losses every night were anticipated. We knew the targets on the Ruhr – like Essen, Hamburg, and Duesseldorf – meant death, and we saw it all around us. 

The death of over 9,000 Canadian aircrew was a sacrifice made to keep our way of life on its right course. I refuse to believe that their actions were ever directed towards the planned slaughter of thousands of German and Italian civilians.

It is ironic that a historian of 1991 uses the 1943 fire bombing of Hamburg and Dresden to discredit the war plans, when neither Harris, nor many dedicated airmen are here to defend themselves.

Fifty years have not destroyed my remembrance of German search lights, German night-fighter aircraft, balloon cables, the accuracy and effectiveness of their exploding ammunition, their dummy cities lighted at night, and their determination to win.

Many times, after a bombing attack, Enemy night-fighters followed aircraft to their bases in England, and succeeded in shooting down bombers as they made their landing approach. The enemy was doing his cruellest best to win the war. We were well equipped and trained to do our cruellest best to prevent him from winning.

Cliff Shirley, DFM, DFC, No. 10 Squadron (RAF)

Cliff served two tours, the first as a Navigator/Bomb Aimer, and the second as a Bomb Aimer. (60+ operational flights over enemy territory)  In the 1990s a class action suit was filed against the CBC and the MacKenna  brothers, but the Supreme Court of Canada would not recognize the Class Action suit.
Your Editor, after retirement, had the pleasure of knowing Cliff and Margery Shirley as kind and considerate neighbours for twenty-two years. Cliff passed away in 2005 at the age of 92.

John Chambers 

Flight Cadet Chalmers, CMR 
at St. Jean, Québec, 1957 
Dick Lidstone ( now of Victoria), with whom I spent the summer of 1957 in Centralia and 1958 in Trenton with the RCAF, wrote to tell me that S/L McLeod's poem rang a bell with him, and when he checked his collection he found the book of poetry in which the poem appeared, Dat H'ampire H'air Train Plan. It was first published in 1943 and printed by Gaylord Printing Co. Ltd. of Toronto.

So having the name of the book, I went to, which I have used several times to locate and purchase used, old, and out-of-print books. I picked up the phone and ordered the book from Alice at Cal's Books in Saskatoon.

The little hardcover book arrived the next day. It has 7 poems by S/L McLeod, illustrated with 33 cartoons by F/O H. Rickard. The cartoon sent with the poem as it appears in the February Page was not one of those by Rickard. I think it may have been drawn by someone for a station newsletter. 

The book is the story of a French-Canadian airman named Joe, who trains in the BCATP, earns his pilot's wings, is shipped overseas where he flies Halifax bombers, survives a belly landing after a mid-air collision with a German night fighter, is shot down overseas, evades capture, returns to England and is decorated by the king. It is all told in first-person with good humour about a young man who served his country in time of war.

 S/L McLeod has inspired me to write my own poetic response to all this. It follows below, and is called, "Dat Poetry Book."

 I know that some folks may take exception to the accent used by S/L McLeod, but I'm sure he meant no offence to anyone. Nor do I.  We're just having fun with words. As McLeod wrote in the book about Joe, "You will find him an earnest, brave, hard-working airman. He trained hard, studied hard, and proved to his superiors that he was the 'stuff' of which heroes could be made."

 Following is my response to finding S/L McLeod's book. I would welcome any information about him or his illustrator, F/O Rickard at

Dat Poetry Book
By John J. Chalmers © 2007

One day I’m read on h’Internet ‘bout Pierre who fly de goddam Link
And dat poem ’bout him and Trainer make me start to t’ink
Of d’ose airman boys from good ol’ days who serve wit’ me
When we all put on de h’air force uniform in university.

I remember days we spend on h’air force station
At Centralia and Trenton an’ de recreation
At station dances wit’ dem cute WD’s and old cars we drive
Like my ’40 Ford, and nights on beach when we love to be alive.

An’ I t’ink of days at h’officer school on de pee-rade square
Where we march wit’ shiny boots and short cut of hair
And lef’, right, lef’, right, we march in good formation
An’ learn to make de bed just right, according to regulation.

So when my ol’ frien’ Dick get my e-mail, he write to me
To tell me where to find de h’air force poetry. 
I get on computer and to search for book,
An’, tabernac, I find it right d’ere wit’ very first look.

So right away I pick up phone an’ call de store in Saskatoon
And nice lady name of Alice send book real soon,
But cost for book an’ shipping is only t’irteen buck
Which makes me happy to have such damn good luck.
 'eading home from Centralia in my 1941 

1941 Ford, Black Hills, 1958
So she’s ship dat poetry book to me toute suite,
Next t’ing I know Postes Canada is come down my street,
An’ I’m tell you I’m mighty please, mes amis,
To have dat book which is just arrive aujourd’hui.

So t’anks to Squadron Leader Carroll McLeod,
Who write d’ose poems meant to be read out loud;
His book is call Dat H'ampire H'air Train Plan
So now I got my own copy which make me ver’ happy man.

He write dem stories ’bout boys like Joe et son ami Pierre Flyboys at Trenton, summer 1958
Who serve d’eir country wit’ RCAF and fly in de h’air.
He remember good stories just like you and me,
D’en he write ‘em all down to share in his poetry.

Flyboys at Trenton, Summer 1958
He write d’ose poems in nineteen forty-t’ree,
Now a copy is on my desk for me to see,
So I’m très grateful to have such friends as you
And for everyone who help, I say merci beaucoup.

At Trenton in 1958 I owned this 1940 Ford with Dick Lidstone (above) 
and at the end of the summer drove the car home to Edmonton.

(Ed. John didn’t drive a car, he drove a Ford)
PENNY, Douglas R. Mbr  #0055, CALGARY, AB:  Enlisted as R163541 and posted to Brandon Manning Depot where he was accepted for Gunnery Training at #3 Bombing and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba and joined Course #50A.  He attained his AG Brevet and posted overseas where he was assigned to 420 Squadron in 6 Group with whom he was then posted to North Africa.  Operations there were 'scrubbed' with the end of hostilities with Italy.  Posted back to the UK and joined 432 Sqdn where he completed a tour in November 1944.  He was awarded the DFM in August and commissioned to Pilot Officer shortly after.

Returned to Canada April '45 for a 60 day Leave but the war in Europe ended in May - so he received his discharge.

Served with 418 (Aux) Squadron from 1952 to '55 as Adjutant, retiring with the rank of Flying Officer.

He spent his personal time and money visiting with as many members as possible when he was on vacation in various parts of Canada and the United States at which times he carried his Membership Roster booklet with him.

He took his responsibilities seriously by acting as MC or Speaker at many of our National Reunions and was always in attendance wherever they were held.  He presented himself in a manner which made him very popular with the membership in general.

We will all miss him.

FAULKNER, Victor, Mbr. #0576, WINNIPEG, MB:  Born Dec. 20, 1922, Vic enlisted in the RCAF early in the war.  After attending Brandon Manning Depot and #3 B&G where he earned his Air Gunner Brevet he served in the European Theater of War and completed an Operational Tour during the period 1941-45 as a Rear Gunner.  He was commissioned (J90501) and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery.  As attested to by his Granddaughters and other family members during his Funeral Service he was a wonderful bother, friend, husband, father and grandfather.  One of his favorite pastimes was participating in a Senior's Harmonica Band.

Though his illness prevented him from attending during the past couple of years, the members in Winnipeg will miss his company at our monthly luncheons.

Charley Yule


Douglas "Doug" Richard Penny, beloved husband of Ellen Penny of Calgary, passed away peacefully at the Sarcee Hospice on Friday, February 9, 2007 after a lengthy struggle with cancer at the age of 83 years. Doug was born on December 22, 1923 near Abernethy, SK. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 and served as an airgunner, primarily with the 432nd squadron. He flew thirty-six missions, mostly in Halifax bombers and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (D.F.M.) in October of 1944. Doug retired from active duty as a Flight Lieutenant.

On his return to Canada, Doug eventually married Ellen Jackson of Loreburn, SK on October 8, 1949. He became a salesman with Imperial Oil and was also a sales representative with Federated Co-op, Pacific Petroleum, and C.C.H. Canadian, where he retired from full-time work in 1988.

Doug and Ellen travelled extensively in later years. He was an avid sportsman who loved curling and golfing well into his seventies. He was a member of many service organizations including the Masonic Lodge and the A.C.T. (Associated Canadian Travellers). He was active with the air crew and airgunners, serving as National President  of airgunners. Doug was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for more than sixty years.

Besides his loving wife Ellen, Doug is survived by two sons and daughters-in-law, Rick and Marion and Jay and Connie; granddaughter Jennifer; step-grandson Michael; step-great-granddaughter April; As well as numerous other relatives and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Richard and Marion Penny; and two older brothers, Allan and Gilmore.

Funeral Services were held at Calgary Crematorium Chapel, 3219-4th Street N.W. (within the valley of Queen's Park Cemetery) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. A Memorial Service will be held at the Kensington Legion, Branch No. 264, at a later date. To email expressions of sympathy:, subject heading: "Doug Penny." If friends so desire, donations may be made directly to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, c/o Tom Baker Cancer Centre, 1331-29 St. N.W., Calgary, T2N 4N2 (Telephone 403.521.3433, ) The family would like to thank the many medical personnel who treated Doug during his eight-year struggle with cancer, specifically the staff of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Carewest Rockyview, Units 61 and 62 of the Foothills Medical Centre, as well as the compassionate folks at the Sarcee Hospice -- he loved you as much as you loved him.

This Newsletter is shorter than usual as we had to send it in to our Web Master, Bill Hillman, on the 19th of February. Why? you ask. Well, we are pulling up stakes and moving. (for the unwashed, ‘Pulling up stakes’ comes from the days when we lived in tents on the prairies.)

We are just moving to the opposite side of the City but, when you are a couple of pack-rats like Doreene and I, it will take us a couple of weeks to pack our kit bags and settle into new barracks.

New Address: 

John and Doreene Moyles,
 435 Froom Cresc.
 Regina, SK
 S4N 1T5

Now you will know where we are froom.

Phone is the same – (306) 949-6112 

You will note in the February Page that John Chalmers is going to attend the RAF 101 Squadron Reunion in England this Summer. Ex Members of 101 Squadron feel free to contact John. (See John’s article above.)

We will be back in April. Keep well.

John and Doreene

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 Milne,  Secretary,
392 St. Clements Ave., 
Toronto, Ont. M5M 1M1 

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:
Harry Thompson, 702 Mckercher Dr., Saskatoon, SK  S7H 3W7 Phone: (306) 374-6036

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.
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.

Contact Person and President
Larry Robinson 
Box 179
Okotoks, AB   T0L 1T0
(403) 938-4105

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, 
435 Froom Crescent
 Regina, Sk.  S4N 1T5
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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