They shall not grow old, as
We that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them,
nor years condemn.
At the going down of the
sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
The Beaufort was a slow aircraft, with a top speed of only 265 mph (430 km/h), which dropped to a mere 225 mph (360 km/h) when carrying a torpedo. Although it did see some use in the torpedo bomber role, notably in attacks on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau while in port in Brest, the Beaufort was more often used as a mine-laying aircraft while in European service. It saw considerable action in the Mediterranean theatre, where it helped put an end to Axis shipping supplying Rommel in North Africa.
This poem was written in Malta, June 1942, by Sergeant George Hodson. The youngest member at that time of the aircrews of 217 Squadron. Sergeant Hodson sat at his bedside one night and wrote this:
Sometimes I Wonder
Sometimes I wonder
Will I live
To see the fight for freedom won,
And then begin the fight again
Against men of greed and gain,
Who would our land in post war years
Fill it once more with grief and tears
With promises heard once before
A land for heroes fit to live in.
Is this the land from whence we heard
Those words that now are scorned
By men who from the last Great War remain
Some blind, some gassed, some maimed.
The rest returned for peace and rest
For which they fought their level best.
Only for some was meant this peace,
For others it meant begging in the streets,
Long waits in queues for jobs that never came.
Sometimes I wonder
Will I live to see it all againSgt. George Hodson, June 1942 MaltaSadly Sergeant George Hodson did not live to see it all again. He was lost a week later on July 3, 1942 age 19 years. This poem has not previously been published but has been kept by his friend, Mr, Harry Mallaby, who was himself a Member of 217 Squadron.
Further particulars on 217 Squadron and the loss of George Hodson:
217 Squadron, Coastal Command, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. 1942
The Beaufort aicraft of 217 squadron were en-route to Ceylon with the first nine aircraft leaving RAF Leuchars, Fife in May 1942, proceeding via Gibraltar and Malta and arriving in Malta in the afternoon of 10th June. Due to unservicabilities with the Torpedo loading and dropping systems, all nine aircraft were grounded to sort out the problems and the Squadron was then kept in Malta to take part in a number of missions against enemy convoys. One of these missions occurred on Friday, 3rd July 1942, when seven Beaufort aircraft escorted by five Beaufighters were due to depart Ta Qali airfield in Malta to attack a convoy south of Zante Island off the coast of Greece. Two of the Beauforts failed to start and the remaining five took off at 18:30, but of these, two aircraft developed engine trouble and turned back leaving three aircraft to press on with the attack. Two of these 4-man crewed aircraft, L9893 and AW240, were shot down in the sea by flak, the third, DD993, was hit in the tail but managed to reach Malta again where it crashed at 01:00.
Sergeant George Hodson was a member of the crew of Beaufort AW240.
Sergeant HODSON George Leonard 1259043, 217 Squadron, Coastal Command, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 3rd July 1942. Age 19. Son of L. P. and Ann Hodson, of Hudson, Province of Quebec, Canada. Commemorated on MALTA MEMORIAL, Malta. Panel 4, Column 1.
Tom Cousins - WAG 7BR Squadron
I’m writing today, probably as the result of seeing the TV show of the Swordfish attacking the German battleship. Some great pictures of the plane. Of course the Blackburn Shark was a better airframe, especially the partially covered cockpit area. However the engine, at first, was not equal to the power plant in the Swordfish.
Speaking of engines takes me back to the following entry in my log book:
“22-7-42 14:55 Shark 549 Pilot WOII Clark WT Opr. Myself
Remarks: A/S Patrol – forced down Ellis Isl. Flt Time 2:30”
Blackburn Shark 548
The day started out on the wrong foot. Pop Clark had invited the station preacher to come along for the ride. Apparently the Reverend had been bugging Pop for the experience. As we left from our mooring in Seal Cove, Prince Rupert, B.C. at low tide, in the rain as usual, everything in the aircraft wet, and slippery on the pontoon. Eventually, by pushing on the rear end of the Reverend, I managed to boost him into the back cockpit and climbed in after him. We were off.
Half way around our patrol route the engine quit. Quiet! I had no idea how much noise came from the wings and struts. Then Pop Clark came on the intercom, “If you are saying a prayer Reverend, say one for the three of us.” Pop then turned into wind and made a wonderful dead engine landing on the heavy seas.
The wind was fresh and the waves were bigger than I had expected. I climbed out of the cockpit onto the pontoon, then I had to cross on the narrow strut, under the hot engine, to the other pontoon to release the drogue. This was difficult with the waves coming over the pontoons. Once the drogue was release our movement steadied.
The Reverend announced he could see a flashing light to the East. It was a signal light and, although we could see the light, we could not see the vessel. I instructed the Reverend to plug in the Aldis lamp and asked him to flash a light back in the direction of the light. I then got Pop to have pencil and paper ready and, standing on the heaving pontoon, read the message calling the letters out to Pop and he wrote them down. I then instructed the Reverend how to send a reply. We were up to our armpits in water and the ship’s message was, “do you require assistance?” The request sounded ludicrous. However the Captain of the vessel knew what we didn’t, that the area between his ship and our plane, was marked by many shallows, rocks, and small islands.
The vessel responded to our request for help and the RCN patrol boat, The Cougar (a converted yacht) arrived within the hour. They passed us a line and I attached it to the drogue rope. I don’t remember how we boarded the Naval vessel, but I do remember the lunch. We were served my favourite, sausage and peanut butter sandwiches, items never seen in our mess.
After our landing in the ocean, I had tried to get through to base on the radio, without success. Signals around that area were spotty. Our failure to contact Base caused an investigation to be launched by Western air Command H.Q. Two signals experts arrived on the Station. They did some tests from the air, but unfortunately, their Shark crashed on landing and the depth charges exploded, killing one of the technicians and badly injuring the other. The Pilot survived the crash.
Pat Miller and I heard that Taylor was on the plane. We thought it was T.S. Taylor, a blond WAG on our Squadron. We rushed down to the marine section. The first person they landed was Taylor, but when we saw black hair, we knew it was not our T.S. Pat and I carried the injured man up to the ambulance and accompanied him to the hospital. He was a mess, but recovered.
The first Blackburn Shark manufactured by Blackburn Aircraft Limited of Brough, East Yorkshire in England, was powered with the 700 hp. Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IV engine. The MKIIs had the 760 hp. Tiger engine. These engines proved to be maintenance prone, due to extensive bearing wear. The Swordfish was equipped with the Pegasus engine, which was more efficient. Because of this The British Navy adopted the Swordfish.
T.S Taylor, Pat Miller, Tommy Cousins,
Ex-AG’s reunion, Winnipeg 1992.
The British Government unloaded their unwanted Blackburn Sharks by selling them to the fledgling Canadian Air Force. The Sharks, powered with the Tiger engines, were purchased from Britain by the Canadian Government in 1937/38. In 1938/39 the Canadian Sharks were modified with the Pegasus engine.
The Blackburn Sharks carried out shipping and anti submarine patrols from Stations on the North west coast of British Columbia from 1940 to 1944, first from #6 BR Squadron, Alliford Bay, Queen Charlotte Islands, then, after the Japanese entered the war, from #7 BR Squadron, Seal Cove, Prince Rupert. B.C.
MEMORIES OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCES FROM WWII
By L.J. (Jack) Walter
This booklet was put together by Lois, Jack Walter's daughter. Lois writes, “when we were growing up, Dad seldom spoke of the war. As he mentions in one of his writings, we often heard him having nightmares, re-tracing in his sleep, the events that he, and so many of his contemporaries, suffered through. When the Gulf war was in full swing, it seemed to bring back a lot of memories, and a need to get it out of his system. We, the family, are grateful for his poems and writings, through them we can begin to understand a little of what went on.”
Here is Jack's remarkable service career:
Jack Walter joined the RCAF in 1940 as an Air Gunner. In August 1941 he went overseas to England as a WAG. In June 1942 he was re mustered as a bomb aimer in 7 Squadron, RAF, and flew 11 ops on Sterlings. In August 1942 he transferred to 15 Squadron RAF. He flew four ops on Sterlings, then on September 18, while he was in hospital, his entire crew went missing. He flew one more op and was then transferred to 426 Squadron RCAF on November 13, 1942. Stationed in Dishforth in Yorkshire, he did another 15 ops. on Wellingtons.
In July 1943, he took an instructor’s course and MK XIV bombsite and returned to OTU as an instructor on techniques of bomb aiming and bombsights.
In May 1944 Jack took leave an returned to Canada for a short period, then returned to England in September 1944 to join 405 Pathfinder Squadron RCAF at Gransden Lodge. He was a Bomb Aimer in a Lancaster bomber until January 1945 when he completed his second tour.
After the second tour, Jack served as an instructor at Honeybourne. He returned to Canada as a F/L and served as a recruiting officer. He was then sent on a Pilot’s course in Centralia, Ont. He flew on 435 Transport Squadron out of Edmonton for three years.
In 1952 Jack transferred to 430 Squadron, Fighter Command, flying Sabres. He flew across the Atlantic to Scotland and Grostenquin, France. While there he was sent to Austria for three months to teach winter survival skills to RAF crews. Jack was discharged in September 1953.
Many readers will identify with Jack’s following article.
That Damn Front TurretThe first Squadron I was posted to flew Sterling bomber with F/N turrets. As soon as we were airborne, I was ordered into that damn front turret, and the bulkhead door closed behind me by the Flight Engineer.
On the ground, wearing only my battle dress I manoeuvred around and opened the turret door and with a bit of effort, opened the bulkhead door and got back into the aircraft. When dressed in full flying attire, two or three layers of clothing, leather bomber jacket, leather pants, parachute harness and Mae West, even Houdini would have had a hard time getting out of that damn front turret.
On an “Op” to Frankfurt we were badly shot up by enemy fighters and were heading for the deck three miles below. The pilot’s voice came over the intercom “Prepare to bail out.” Where was my bulkhead door opener? Likely pinned to the side of the roof of the aircraft by “G” forces, like everything else that was not belted down. Before the Pilot gained control again, that old Sterling went through manoeuvres that even a fighter shouldn’t attempt.
Trapped in that damn front turret, full of panic, I must have died a thousand deaths. It only lasted a few minutes, but seemed like a lifetime.
I could never see the sense of having anyone in the front turret at night at the height we flew. Even flying at eight hundred feet, laying mine at night, you were over a flak ship or coastal battery before you saw them.
The front turret was extremely cold and noisy with a hundred and fifty mile an hour gale roaring in around the gun ports and other turret openings. In the front turret you had a ringside view of the impossible wall of flak, plus the belt of search lights at night.
The only good thing about that damn front turret was being let out of it to drop the bombs, and being the first in the crew to cross the English coast on returning from the “Op”.
Many of Jack’s poems are included in the booklet. One that touched your Editor was the following.
HOLD MY HAND
Hold my hand and cuddle up tight,
as I can’t see your face tonight.
Hold my hand whose strength has gone.
Hold my hand from dark to dawn.
I held your hand in old London town
when Nazi bombs came raining down,
when our bedroom was filled with flying glass
from one of the “Doodle Bugs” deadly blast
I held your hand when off “Ops” on leave
a few days together – a bit of reprieve.
I held your hand as we walked downtown
looking for a ring that would tie me down.
So hold my hand and hold it tight
and I will sleep sound throughout the night.
Hold my hand forever dear
then I will know that you are here.
Jack Walter married the young lady who held his hand, and their daughter Lois, arrived in ‘Old London town when Nazi bombs came raining down’. But as Lois says, “that is another story.”
Jack Walter passed away in 1998. Lois Volk is to be congratulated for helping to keep his memory alive.
War Museum Plaque
Suggested re-wording of the controversial Plaque regarding Bomber Command at the War Museum in Ottawa.
The strategic bombing campaign against Germany, an important part of the Allied effort that achieved victory, remains a source of controversy today.
Strategic bombing enjoyed wide public and political support as a symbol of Allied resolve and a response to German aggression. In its first years, the air offensive achieved few of its objectives and suffered heavy losses. Advances in technology and tactics, combined with Allied successes on other fronts, led to improved results. By war’s end, Allied bombers had razed portions of every major city in Germany and damaged many other targets, including oil facilities and transportation networks. The attacks blunted Germany’s economic and military potential, and drew scarce resources into air defence, damage repair, and the protection of critical industries.
Allied aircrew conducted this grueling offensive with great courage against heavy odds. It required vast material and industrial efforts and claimed over 80,000 Allied lives, including more than 10,000 Canadians. While the campaign contributed greatly to enemy war weariness, German society did not collapse despite 600,000 dead and more than 5 million left homeless. Industrial output fell substantially, but not until late in the war. The effectiveness and the morality of bombing heavily-populated areas in war continue to be debated.
THE VETERAN ON OUR TEN DOLLAR BILL
If you have a Canadian $10 bill, look at the back right side of the bill. You will see a veteran standing at attention near the Ottawa war memorial. His name is Robert Metcalfe and he died last month at the age of 90.
That he managed to live to that age is rather remarkable, given what happened in the Second World War. Born in England, he was one of the 400,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force sent to the mainland where they found themselves facing the new German warfare technique - the Blitzkrieg.
He was treating a wounded comrade when he was hit in the legs by shrapnel. En route to hospital, his ambulance came under fire from a German tank, which then miraculously ceased fire. Evacuated from Dunkirk on HMS Grenade, two of the sister ships with them were sunk. Recovered, he was sent to allied campaigns in north Africa and Italy. En route his ship was chased by the German battleship Bismarck. In North Africa he served under General Montgomery against the Desert Fox, Rommel.
Sent into the Italian campaign, he met his future wife, a lieutenant and physiotherapist in a Canadian hospital. They were married one morning by the mayor of the Italian town, and again in the afternoon by a British padre.
After the war they settled in Chatham where he went into politics and became the warden (chairman) of the county.
At the age of 80 he wrote a book about his experiences and on his retirement he and his wife moved to Ottawa.
One day out of the blue he received a call from a government official asking him to go downtown for a photo op. He wasn't told what the photo was for or why they chose him.
"He had no idea he would be on the bill," his daughter said.
And now you know the rest of the story of the veteran on the $10 bill.
Dear Mr Moyles,
I was forwarded a copy of the piece titled "The Veteran on the Ten Dollar Bill". The item just seemed a little too neat and I started to check a few facts that were presented. these are my findings:
I certainly don't mean to sound critical, because the story brings forward all of the emotions we are supposed to feel at reading such a heart-warming tale. It would be nice to know who the veteran on the bill really is, and what his own story might be.
- The BEF in France did not total 400,000 men, but all of the Allies involved in the battle did. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Dunkirk )
- The HMS Grenade itself was sunk during the evacuation at Dunkirk, and one of her sister ships was also sunk, the Grafton (they were among a total of 9 British and French destroyers sunk) (http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/4396.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkirk_evacuation)
- The Bismark was sunk on 27 May 1941 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_battleship_Bismarck), which was long before the landings in Northern Africa on 8 Nov 1942 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Torch)
- And I do wonder why the anonymous government official wouldn't have found a Canadian veteran for this photo op.
- If the veteran wrote a book on his experiences, it is very unusual that the original reporter didn't mention the book's title.
Regimental Adjutant, The RCR
Commercial: (519) 660-5275, ext 5039
Facsimile: (519) 660-5344
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.
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.
Location - Lynx Wing Ave. C North, Saskatoon.
Date - Third Monday of the month.
Time - Luncheon meetings.
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.
Location - Royal Canadian Legion #264
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
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,
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'.
As You Were . . .
Hillman WWII Tributes
RCN HMCS PRINCE ROBERT
Ex-Air Gunners Association
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