Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
A MILITARY TRIBUTE WEBZINE . . . AS YOU WERE . . .
Compiled by Bill Hillman
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 20, 1942
7 BR Squadron, Seal Cove,
Prince Rupert B.C.
F/S Hal Phillips, Pilot, age 20, and Wireless Air Gunner F/S Hy Baum, age 22, flying Shark #524, crashed into the ocean off Metlakatla Island, North West coast, B.C.
The only trace of Shark #524 was a single float picked up by Minesweeper, HMCS Coventry. Crew, Hal Phillips and Hy Baum were never recovered.
Pilot WO2 Gordon “Pop” Clark and
Pilot, F/Sgt. Bill Holbeck casting wreaths
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
I Remember Grampa
By Lauri Appleby (Grade 7 – 1991)
Granddaughter of the late Member - Alfred Hawkins.
When I think of Grampa I remember the first time I saw him cry. This happened when he saw one of the planes he had flown in during WWII. It was a Lancaster bomber which we saw at an air show. We still have the pictures and I still hear the ghost of my Grampa laughing and crying with joy as he watched his plane.
I remember the story my Grampa told me of how his Captain saved his life. It was the time when my Grampa got his Goldfish Badge for crashing into the ocean. It all started when my Grampa and his friends knew they were in trouble. They couldn’t parachute out of their plane because they were over enemy territory and would be shot. They decided to crash into the ocean. When they crashed, the door was forced open and the plane stated filling with water. They all escaped except for the tail gunner. The plane had filled just before he pushed my Grampa out.
On Remembrance day I think of and remember the great way my Grampa was saved from death. Marty gave up his own life, but one memory my Grampa had to keep was how his friend saved his life. I think there is no greater tribute than to give up your life for your friends.
My Grampa died in August of this year, 1991, and my family now has his car. On the windshield of the car is a sticker showing his Goldfish Badge. I guess each time I see the badge, I think of him and I am sad and I remember his part in the war.
I wear the Poppy on Remembrance Day as many people do, but I think my Remembrance is also the symbol of a Goldfish. Remembrance day will be a day when I will stand proud and remember why we are free and why the soldiers gave their lives for ours.
We will wear our Poppies proudly.
[Previously appeared in Short Bursts #42, June 1993. If any Member or reader knows the location of the late Alfred Hawkin’s granddaughter, Lori Appleby, please advise her of Short Bursts Web Site and this letter. Lauri would be approximately 24 years of age now.]
HE’LL REST WITH HIS PALS WHO DIDN’T MAKE IT
By Joe Warmington – Toronto Sun
Reprinted from Short Bursts #69, 2000.
The head stones in a tiny Dutch Cemetery read
November 11th is always special but there is not a day goes by when he doesn’t think of those names and Mike Cassidy (Member #680) takes solace in knowing that someday he’ll be buried alongside them.
- R. Hansford, W. Murphy,
- A.S. Redmonds,
- D. D. Watterson,
- E. Webb.
Believed to be the first Canadian to ever gain such permission, Mike has made special arrangements to be laid to rest next to five members of his 420 Squadron RCAF bomber crew, who died in 1944 after being shot down over Holland. It has been 57 years since they were buried there. When his time comes, he’ll join them.
“When I first went back in 1985 I had the feeling that this is where I should have been.” He said of wanting to be interred at the cemetery in the Village of Zuilichem, Holland. “We lived together, ate together, and we became closer than our own relatives.”
420 Squadron, 6th Group, R.C.A.F.
Members are from the left:
When you hear this story it's clear he almost ended up there a lot sooner. I’ve known Mike for years in his role as publisher of Press Review magazine. One thing I’ve noticed is that he always responds to the question, “how are you?” with “I’m here.” He finally told me his story. It all started in the early hours of April 25, 1944, over Karlsrude, Germany where he and his seven member crew flew into enemy territory in their Halifax III bomber.
They had just completed their mission when the plane’s nose was sheered off after being struck by another RCAF bomber. Suddenly everything in the plane was turned upside down and they found themselves heading further into German territory without the benefit of support from other aircraft.
They tried to stay calm. The pilot quickly pointed the plane West hoping they’d be able to make it back to Britain. But it wasn’t to be. With the help of radar, German Luftwaafe pilots caught up to them.
“The sky lit up with flares and the next thing I know is these balls of fire are heading straight for me,” said Cassidy, the plane’s tail gunner. “The only thing I thought is, it’s going to be strange to be dead.”
The bullets missed Mike but took out two of the plane’s engines, leaving flames everywhere. Mike was pretty sure they were not going to make it back to England. “I called up to the Pilot and said, "It's getting pretty hot back here." The Pilot replied, "It's getting kind of hot up here too.” In all the turmoil, there was levity and not panic.
Eventually the Pilot gave the order to bail out. “See you on the ground!” he yelled. But Mike could not find his parachute. He finally discovered it had been dislodged and was stuck in the wires in the plane’s ceiling. He put it on, but then he and a fellow member could not open the hatches. Suddenly the plane turned onto its side and dropped thousands of feet. Mike got flung around and hit his head, but the pilot got back into the cockpit and straightened the plane up. “ I was lying there and I was thinking, since I was going to be dead I might as well try to open the hatch.” This time it worked.
Not knowing how far they were from the ground, Mike dove out head first followed by the Mid-Upper Gunner, Ray Tanner. “I pulled the rip cord right away and I only had time to look up and see that my chute had opened. Suddenly the plane exploded and then it smashed into the ground with enormous force."
When Mike landed, “I thought my leg was going to go through the top of my head,” he said. Turner managed to escape in similar fashion. The rest died in the explosion or on impact. As soon as he saw his plane a couple of fields away, Mike began a two day ordeal of eluding Nazi troops until he was eventually captured and held as a prisoner of war.
When he finally told his story in England in 1945 there was much talk of how the pilot should receive the Victoria Cross for staying at the controls and how the rest of the crew should receive the Distinguished Flying Crosses. “They got nothing,” said Mike.
The only way Mike could think of repaying them was to go out and have a productive and happy life, never forgetting that he wouldn’t be doing so without the efforts of each of them. It's something both he and Tanner, a native of the Belleville area, who died 17 years ago, never forgot.
On November 11th Mike Cassidy will be thinking of Pilot Doug Watterson, of Windsor; Navigator Ed. Webb, of Moose Jaw; Bomb aimer Arthur Redmonds, of Toronto; Flight Engineer, Art Hansford, of Lancashire, England; and Wireless Air Gunner, Bill Murphy, of Georgetown. As he does every day.
One day they will be together again.
Mike Cassidy at rear turret of Halifax III
In the days when Short Bursts was a printed, mailed, News Letter, we got a lot of feed-back from Members which resulted in a section entitled “Return Fire”. The article on the Japanese balloon attack on North America in the October 2002 Issue (see archives) has created such welcome Return Fire.
Of the 285 balloons discovered in North America, 110 landed in Canada. The most Easterly penetration in Canada was at Oxford House, Manitoba close to the Ontario border. However, the most easterly penetration in the USA was at Farmington, Michigan, close to Lake St. Clair and the Canadian border.
Your Editor has a ‘RESTRICTED’ document listing the locations of all the balloon landings in Canada as well as a map showing all sites in North America. If any reader is interested in their locations, write to the Editor (address on this page) or contact –
HOME FRONT ARCHIVES AND MUSEUM
Robert J. Henderson,
Regina, Sk. S4T 6V4 Canada.
The following article was taken, in part, from LIBERTY May 4, 1946 magazine.
“……………….The problem of keeping the balloon from going too high was simple – it called merely for a spring-controlled escape valve, which would let out some of the gas when the balloon reached the lowered atmospheric pressure at its service ceiling. Much more thought was needed to rid the balloon of ballast when it got too low, as it would do occasionally from the natural leakage of gas through the envelope, or from running into a layer of colder air, which would reduce its lift.
There was much knitting of brows, much sad shaking of heads, much troubled sucking in of breath. And then Rubesaki Goldbergiyama let out a happy bleat and waved his slide rule in he air – he had it! Aneroid barometers would control the dropping of the ballast, letting a series of sandbags fall, one at a time, whenever the balloon dropped to a predetermined level.
It was good idea but it need refinement. If the balloon were to carry thirty or forty sacks of ballast – which it would need – that would mean a like number of barometers, a lot of added weight, and a reduced pay load of bombs. So, with ingenuity worthy of a better cause, they made three or four barometers to take care of everything. They meant just that – everything.
The first public intimation of all this patient hocus-pocus came early in December of 1944, when the little community of Kalispell, Montana, shouldered itself into newspaper headlines with an account of a mysterious bomb which had gone off with a bright flash and a lot of noise, but hadn’t hurt anyone. Fragments were identified as coming from a Japanese Army fifteen kilo (thirty-three pound) antipersonnel bomb – and if the Japanese Army happened to be around Kalispell in November of 1944, neither the Sheriff nor the F.B.I. had heard of it.
Then some found nearby a strange looking paper balloon with Japanese characters; the source of the bomb immediately ceased to be a mystery. Forthwith there was a lot of gumshoeing and hypothesis and drawing of diagrams by the Army, Navy, and F.B.I., with a view to determining just what gave.
At first there was some official willingness to believe that the thing had come from a submarine somewhere off the coast. This was ruled out, however, when the size and unwieldiness of the balloon were studied. To inflate and launch a thirty-three foot paper balloon from the tiny deck of a submarine, even in a calm sea and with little wind, would be a bit of a chore.
And, as our own meteorologists are no dopes, it wasn’t hard to figure out that it came all the way from Japan. Simultaneously, North American newspapers began to clam up, and the subsequent thunderous silence about balloons became one of the bright pages in the history of voluntary censorship.”
Japanese Fire Balloon
Fire Balloon Parts
Further to your fine article on Japanese Fire Balloons (Oct. 02), I enclose a photo of parts of one of these potentially deadly weapons of war. These parts include a small portion of rice paper gas bag, brass ring, rubber tube, red coated packing, and parts of the detonation mechanism.
These parts were salvaged by a member of the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, No. 71 Co., in 1944. They are now on display in the Homefront Museum and Archives at Regina, Sask.
It is interesting to note that at one time (circa 1958), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum in Regina had an example of a fire balloon that had been taken on War Bond drives in Ontario. Through a misunderstanding, the balloon was later sent to an apparent military exhibit for display, but instead it was destroyed, along with machine guns etc.Robert Henderson, Proprietor of Home Front Museum and Archives
Ross Hamilton 407 “Demon” Sqdn. RCAF (War Time)
Ross and Evelyn Hamilton
Ross provided the following humorous article.
Via S/L Peter Koch, RCAF Ret. Ex-405 Sqdrn. F/E
In your, icy indeed, telephone call upon my return, you requested a report about the alleged proceedings involving my crew at the Squadron Reunion in Edmonton. As the reports from the Reunion committee and various others in position of authority, were undoubtedly a complete fabrication, I hereby take the opportunity to put the truth of the whole matter on file.
Upon arrival at the reunion for registration, our old Commanding Officer’s kind offer to buy a round of drinks was taken seriously by my crew who, in their wisdom, decided to upgrade the event to its correct status, so appropriate quantities of libation and food were purchased, with the festivities being held in my hotel suite.
An enjoyable evening ensued, but insufficient supplies had been obtained initially, so several members of my crew left for further purchases at the local bar. In a truly magnanimous gesture, ten of the bar girls from the establishment helped carry the beer etc., back to my suite. To demonstrate our appreciation for their assistance, we served them some cool drinks. They then offered to show us some local culture, and, in order not to offend, we allowed them to perform some exotic dances.
The banging on the walls of my suite from next door had, by now quite honestly become invasive, so we arranged an amusing little deterrent. F/O Brown’s impersonation of a police officer was excellent. In full Air Force blues, with an aluminium trash-can lid on his head, he goose-stepped to each room and subjected the occupants to a very witty speech about their disturbing of other hotel guests. I personally heard nothing of his alleged threats of getting to serve time in the City lock-up, as was claimed by the sister of the Chief of Police whose room, unluckily, was right next to mine.
I have no doubt that it was this very same woman who was the sneak who called the hotel management. And I absolutely refute that the shout, “Look out, here come the Indians” was made. The simple coincidence of security arriving just as we stood the double bed on its side across the door to make the dance floor larger, is obvious.
The major damage to the room occurred when a group of gate crashers, whom we could not know were hotel Security, forced their way in just as most of us were leaning on the bed to watch the dancing.
The subsequent events in the foyer of the hotel are an equally vicious distortion of the facts! I was explaining the importance of our Reunion to the General Manager of the Hotel, and noting that other guests were fabricating stories of noise, drinking, and singing, when F/O Smith and several of his crew, in keeping with their almost monastic persuit of health, organized a race up the drapes hanging along the foyer wall. It says little for the workmanship of hotel staff that the drapery fittings came off the wall before most of the racers were even half-way up!
At this stage, in an amazing display of international posturing, the Mayor of the City of Edmonton, who was attending a National Day Cocktail party in the foyer, cast some denigrating remarks about Canadian Air Force culture. Although he misunderstood our gestures of greeting, Corporal Williams, a female member of the Registration Committee, rescued the situation with her thorough knowledge of local culture.
(By this time they have won
“The Most Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger”
(MHDOIF) many times over!)
Her rendition of “Fertility Dancing Maiden” in the foyer “Pool of Remembrance”, was nothing short of breath taking. Normally this dance is performed wearing only a sarong skirt, so Corporal Williams extra step towards full nature was a bold step forward indeed.
Unfortunately, during one intricate step, Corporal Williams slipped and fell beneath the fountain, so we were lucky when F/O Brown, who had the presence of mind to strip totally in order to avoid getting is blues wet, leapt into the pool to help. That the tiles were slippery is beyond dispute, as it took nearly ten minutes of threshing about before F/O Brown completed his rescue. Such concern was there for these two exemplary Squadron members safety, that the rest of the crew were forced to assist, and I deny that this massed altruistic rescue attempt could be construed as a water polo game.
This slanderous accusation was first put to me by the Chief of the Riot Squad, whose storm troopers had apparently been called by some overzealous Fascist at the cocktail party.
Order had nearly been restored when the fire started. I prefer F/L Smith’s version of events, in that the drapes had caught fire from fixture, and that he had dropped his lighter whilst trying to escape from the flames. Had the Host Management fulfilled their responsibilities and used fire-retardant material instead of velvet, the fire would not have spread to the rest of the hotel!
The responsible attitudes shown by my crew in assisting the bar staff to carry out the drinks from the cocktail party is to be commended, not condemned. And attempts by male members of my Crew to extinguish pockets of the fire using natural means, has been totally misrepresented. I cannot overstate how strongly I resent the assertions made by the Chief Fire Officers report!
Finally not since “Rainman” has our Squadron been mentioned in so many newspapers. (Some Air Force people would lie to receive coverage like that.) The main newspaper in town mentioned our Squadron 76 times on the front page alone, although some of the coupled epithets can only be described as the worst journalistic excesses of the gutter press.
I trust by now that I have outlined the correct version of events, that we may allow ourselves a discreet smile as to the lack of sophistication of some of our developing allies, and put this all behind us. As far as I am concerned, my crew carried on in the finest traditions of our Air Force.
P/O P. Prune Jr.
P.S. I have checked amongst the members of my Crew as to their various Language qualifications, but no one was up to speed in Latin. Can you therefore recommend anyone at headquarters who could define the meaning of “Persona-Non-Grata”? which now appears prominently on my own and my Crew’s New Squadron Association Membership cards. PER ARDUA!
A proud P/O Prune,
Mrs. Prune and Jr. Prune
(Ed. - The only picture we have of P. Prune Jr., son of P/O Prune, appears at the left.
Note the little tyke’s upright finger.
True to his heritage, even at a tender age, he has won that prestigious award,
“The Most Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger” (MHDOIF).
Allan Coggon Editor of The Air Force Association Newsletter TAILWIND sent the following pictures.
The Gov. General dedicated our Statue at Greenwood in their Garden of Memories. 'twas a raw cold windy day with a goose grey overcast that prevented good pictures. I expect to get an official picture from the Air Force whenever it is ready.
Garden of Memories
Greenwood Nova Scotia
|The Plaque reads:
A TIME FOR COURAGE
…"And what of the aircrew, the flyers, the ones who left their burnt bones over all Europe? In those young men we may discern the many faces of courage, the constitution of heroes; in lonely cockpits at dizzy altitudes, …quartering the treacherous and limitless sea, …searching the Deserts hostile glare, …brushing the peaks of high mountains, …in the ferocity of low level attack, or the long, tense haul of a bombing mission,.. in fog,.. in deadly cold, in storm, ...on fire, ... in a prison camp, in a skin grafting hospital. There was no prouder place or time,.. none deserving more honor than this, ... a time for courage"
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
John. I should also mention that the Aircrew Association are organizing a reunion for all aircrew to take place in Victoria, B.C. from 18th to 20th April 2003. If you feel that this would be of interest for inclusion in Short Bursts, I will send you a copy of the pamphlet. Cheers for now and kindest regards to you and your good wife.
“Smokey” Robson reports that, at their October21st. luncheon, there were 20 members present.
They are now looking forward to their annual Christmas bash to be held Dec.9th. 2002.
Jack Willis - Ontario Branch advised that their luncheons are well attended with approximately 20 members attending.
Sven Jensen – Northern Alberta reported that attendance at their monthly meetings are from 20 to 25 members plus 10 to 18 ladies. Their Christmas luncheon is scheduled for Noon, Dec. 16th.
OBITUARIES (Contact Charlie Yule: mailto:email@example.com
MARTIN, S.T., #-413, NEW WESTMINSTER, BC: Sid passed away in September. Members of the BC Branch of the AG/WAG Association attended his memorial service. I took Sid two attempts to get where he wanted to be in serving his country. In 1941 he volunteered for the RCAF and found himself becoming a Flight Mechanic (Airframe). Shortly after completing the course he was sent home - most likely because he was too young to serve. A year later he tried again, but this time for in the Aircrew category. In June of 1943 he completed his training and graduated as a WAG from #3 W/S Winnipeg and #8 B&G Lethbridge. Overseas he was assigned to #52 Squadron - Karachi in Transport Command and did many trips 'over the hump' flying in support of the British 14th Army, dropping supplies in Burma, India and China. We have it on no less an authority than the son of Major Leslie Daniels who served with the 14th Army, that they could not have shaved, eaten of even survived if not for the supplies dropped from the 'Dakotas' flown mostly by the RCAF. Sid was in China on VJ day and was shipped home on the QE in the company of Winston Churchill, arriving in Canada in January 1946, 10 days short of his 21st birthday
One thing Ex-Air Gunners have in common – we are all reporting to Sick Parade more often. When Doug Penny was the President of our National Association he organized a conference call including Provincial Directors and the appointed officers, Charlie Yule and myself. No sooner had we gathered on the line when a chap in Ontario and a member in B.C. started to compare notes on their respective operations. It took Doug some time and much diplomacy to get the discussion back on topic. But of course, Doug has diplomacy to burn.
I had a medical problem last month but, as the Health Workers of Saskatchewan were on the picket lines for over three weeks, and I was in pain, I had to go to a Veterinarian clinic. After he got me on the table and started poking around, a black lab wandered in and licked the soles of my feet. The Doc gave me a shot to reduce the pain and I guess I dozed off for a moment. When I awoke a large tabby cat was sitting on my chest.
As the Clinic could not collect from Health Services, the secretary gave me the bill. I questioned the charge of $620.00 but She explained that it covered the Veterinarian’s time, lab work, and cat-scan.
I have submitted the bill to D.V.A. and will keep you posted on the outcome.
While on this serious topic of aging health problems it is important that members know about the most recent operation that is helping old curmudgeons like us. Try it. You take it as an outpatient and only have to wear a band aid for a day.
They have discovered a fine nerve that runs from the optic nerve to the rectum, and when that nerve is severed, you no longer have a dirty outlook on life.
Just received a book from Hal Sisson of Victoria B.C. Hal was an armourer who served at Annet Island Alaska with #135 Hurricane Fighter Squadron and then with 422 Sunderland Flying Boat Squadron in Northern Ireland and Pembroke Dock South Wales. Hal kept the guns and turrets operating. Post war Hal was a lawyer and Judge in Peace Country, Alberta.
Since retirement Hal has written the following books:
Information on books can be obtained from:
- A Fowler View of Like
- Coots, Codgers, and Curmudgeons
- The Big Bamboozle
- Caverns of the Cross
- And his latest (June 2002) A Fat Lot of Good ISBN 1-894012-06-2
Hal has a great sense of humour. He is now working on his next book
As the poet, Dylan Thomas, wrote
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light!”
Cheers, John and Doreene Moyles.
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St.,
Regina, Sask. S4X 3C5 CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112
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 Cockburn ~ Secretary ~ 416.492.1024
Location - Royal Canadian Legion Br.#4 St. James Legion.
Date - Second 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.
Contact Member - C.A. "Smokey" Robson Ph. (306) 374-0547.
Northern Alberta Branch
Location - Norwood Branch 178, 11150 – 82 Street, Edmonton, AB
Date - Third Tuesday 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.
Contact Member: Dave Biggs Ph: (403)236-7895
or Doug Penny Ph: (403)242-7048.
October meeting time moved to third Monday.
Also there are no meetings in July and August, however, a Barbecue is usually held at Larry Robinson's ranch in Okatoks during that time.
British Columbia Branch
Meeting time and local: 2nd Tuesday of each month at 12 noon,
Contact person - Dave Sutherland
Ph. (604) 431-0085
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'. 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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