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
from an original painting of Halifax NA337
by Barry G. Price
HALIFAX NA337 Restoration Project
In the February Issue we made mention of the Hally Project at Trenton Ont. For those who do not know the background to this Restoration Project the following article by Weldy Moffatt which appeared in Short Bursts Newsletter June 1995, Issue 50, pg.18ff, will fill in the blanks. This article has been arranged so the reader, while being introduced to the beginning of the project, will see “flash forward” pictures of the restoration now in progress.
HALIFAX NA337 Recovery
Karl Kjarsgaard, pilot with Canadian Airlines and “Jeff” Jeffery, a veteran, have been avid fans of the Halifax on learning of a 644 Sqdrn. Halifax that ditched on Lake Mjosa in Central Norway.
The Norwegians were well aware of where the aircraft went down and, when an oil seismic crew was in the area they asked the crew to see if they could pin-point the exact location of the wreckage. An image of what appeared to be a Halifax bomber was obtained by electronic means. A video camera was sent down and pictures were obtained of a Halifax MKV11A ser NA337 from 644 Sqdrn. (9U-X Tarant Rushton) that had gone down 23/24 April 1945.
The Halifax lies at the bottom of Lake Mojse under 750 feet of fresh water at 4 degrees Celsius.F.E. “Jeff “ Jeffery D.F.C. President, The Halifax Aircraft Association Email: email@example.com
Former Halifax Bomber Pilot Jeff Jeffery,
holding a handmade replica of the .303 Browning machine gun
stands before the nose of Halifax NA337.
Picture from Globe and Mail – Nov. 5, 1998.
Autumn 2001 Cockpit/Forward Fuselage ReconstructionThe pilot’s seat was totally restored with a new back cushion. We do have a seat cushion that has not been restored; we’re not sure what to do to it now. The story is that F/O Doug Hawkes of Calgary Alberta liberated two cushions from a Halifax and brought them home to Canada. His mother sewed new covers for them and they were used at their hunting lodge for many years. Doug has donated one of these cushions to us. Our dilemma is that Doug’s mother … who sewed the covers…was Lillian Gish, one of Canada’s famous Silent Movie stars. We think we will leave it as it is, with suitable plaque.(Past Cont.)
The aircraft captained by F/L Turnbull, ditched after completing a successful supply drop to partisans. The dinghy failed to deploy. The rear gunner, Sgt. Weightman, went back into the aircraft, turned on the switches and then went back out. The dinghy was upside down. He righted it, climbed in and passed out. Four of the crew died of exposure. Weightman was rescued by two local Norwegians, then captured by the Germans. He is now a resident in England. The Flight Engineer may still be in the aircraft.
The pictures show a very well preserved Halifax and it is believed that it could be restored to flying condition. The tail section has been knocked off and lies a few feet away from the rest of the airframe. The nose is slightly dented (possibly by hitting the water). Everything else looks remarkably good.
Karl’s friends in Canada were interested in salvaging what would be the only intact Halifax and have formed the Halifax Aircraft Association with the aim of bringing this example of a Halifax to Canada. The reason that, of the 39,584 6 (RCAF) Grp. sorties in WW11, 28,126 were in the Halifax.
Autumn 2002 Port Wing and #2 Engine RestorationThe re-skinning of the left wing is now complete. The next task will be to manufacture a new wing tip as the original is severely damaged. This Halifax has a wing-span of over 104 feet. Most visitors, many of them Halifax crews, are impressed and awed with the size of the airplane. Wait till they see it on it’s wheels. At over 21 feet, the Halli is not only wide, it is tall.(Past Cont.)
This group has obtained salvage rights from the Norwegian Minister of Defence. With the support of our Prime Minister, DND, and other senior officials, the Association is confident of success.. The materials to be used for the stabilization and preservation will be donated. A water treatment plant on the lake with large storage areas and machine shoos will donate their facilities. Canadian Forces have expressed an interest in transporting as a training exercise. The RCAF Memorial Museum in Trenton (Ontario) is anxious to provide a home for the aircraft.
Should the Flight Engineer’s body be found, the Norwegian Air Force will provide a military funeral and burial will be in the Commonwealth Military Cemetery at Lillehammer.
The Association will be doing a remote video survey in May. They have a complete proposal from Ancom Sub Sea Operation who will be coordinating he salvage with GMC Candive of Aberdeen, a subsidiary of Hardsuits of Vancouver B.C.
The estimated salvage cost is $250,000. Incidental costs are estimated at $50,000. This assumes restoration for static display.
If returned to Canada and restored it would be the only restored Halifax known. The work on the Halifax at Elvington is more of a recreation than restoration. The Halifax Association now have a charitable registration from Revenue Canada. They are soliciting memberships at $20 and asking for donations from individuals, interested groups and corporations. They invite all Canadians to join in honouring the contribution of the aircrews of Canada and the heritage of the Halifax.
Winter 2002 Bomb Aimer’s Control PanelThe entire forward fuselage has seen much progress. The pilot’s seat is installed, flooring is complete and individual items installed temporarily for fitting purposes. On Oct 31, the Bomb Aimer’s Control Panel was put in place, fitted, then removed. We had time for one photograph.
CANADIAN HALIFAXES OVER YORK MINSTER
Prints of this beautiful painting are still available. The Halifax Aircraft Association have sold 400 of these and have a profit of over $50,000.00 towards the restoration of NA377. This is a limited edition of 650 prints signed by the artist and by representatives of the 15 Canadian Bomber Squadrons of 6 Group, all of whom flew Halifaxes at some time. It is a collector’s item.
Order your print for $150.00, including shipping and handling from:
The Halifax Aircraft Association
5444 Yonge Street
Proceeds go to the Halifax Restoration.
Halifax NA337 Restoration Project
10 North Elm Drive
K8V 2A1 CANADA
In closing, here are a few excerpts from their Newsletter to emphasize what a world wide, beg, borrow, manipulate, barter, exchange, project this is. Jeff Jeffery, President of HAA and his wife/Adjutant Elaine have returned from 6 weeks in Australia with glowing comments about Australia and Australians. Jeff was invited to speak with a number of Air Force Associations:Sydney… Halifax branch of the Australian Flying Corps and the Royal Austrlian Airforce Association.Any of you will remember the problems we had trying to get a Bristol Hercules Engine from St.Andrews Manitoba to Trenton. This is the Bristol freighter engine that we traded for a pair of T33 Tip Tanks.
Adelaide… Aircrew Association.
Perth … Aircrew Association and Air Force Heritage Museum. Generous donations were received on these occasions.
Rescue 57, our team in Scotland, have strong leads on engine gear- boxes, shafts and propeller blades. They are presently in a farm building in the area of Arnhem, Holland. The farmer will donate them to us but has asked that they not be removed until his crops have been harvested..
STOP THE PRESSES… This morning the transport arrived with our Bristol Hercules engine from Manitoba. It was a dream come true…the engine gear box and other parts are identical. We can now complete our fourth engine.
Also this morning, an email arrive from Holland indicating that the gear-box in Arnhem is usable along with it, there are three propeller blades. Its Rags to Riches overnight.
We have a number of sets of Radio Operator’s Morse Keys, a number of Compasses, Bubble Sextants and many miscellaneous Electrical Switches, Lamps and other gadgets. Any surplus items will be used for trading purposes…to exchange for items we don’t have, like an H2S Radar or a Radio Compass.
When NA337 was raised to the shore of Lake Mjosa, a banquet was held to celebrate the raising. Sgt. Weightman, the rear gunner and sole survivor was brought over from England for the occasion.
At the end of the meal, when tea was being served, nothing was placed in front of Sgt. Weightman. Then, to the surprise of the Ex- rear gunner, a silver tray with his old thermos containing tea, recovered from his turret, was placed in front of him. It is reported that he shed a few tears.
THE TAIL OF THE FOUR SKINS - By Don Macfie
It seemed in the service a fellow chummed up with another fellow and you went around together sharing experiences. That was the way with Ronnie McLean and myself from the first day we joined up until we left Bournemouth. We always managed an upper and lower bunk.
At Wireless School Mathews and Jordon used to get drunk and then go and sing with the Salvation Army. Higgins and Latrimoville used to have a big medal presentation to each other by their beds after n evening in town for their achievements in mischief. When they crawled into their bunks they had some pretty dandy looking medals pinned on their pyjamas. This is the sort of thing I am going to tell you about, but this time a bit off the ordinary as these chums numbered four.
Ed Curtain – red curly hair and a fantastic prankster. He could twist a group of words into a joke. Larry Sullivan – blonde, from Montreal, English speaking, halfway between taking jokes and giving them. Val Richard – small, pinched face French lad from up the Ottawa River, the butt of all jokes because he had such a time with his “Hanglish”. Then there was Gord Smith – from I don’t know where, who looked like Clark Gable, the mustache part getting him the most attention.
At Debert it was four to a room, which just suited them, and by rules and regulations we had four occupants names on the door of each room. Well, their door had the list;
Each day an individual would answer to a different number than the day before. Each morning they had to be up, beds made, and on parade by a certain time. The first person to get up was Four Skin, the next Three Skin, the next Two and the last One. Now One Skin had the sole privilege of sounding out his name anywhere at any time as loud as he liked, and when he did it the others had to answer in rotation just as loud or pay a forfeit in any such way the others decided. I saw this pulled in the chow line, on parade, in the bus to town, and in town anywhere there was a crowd. Often Four Skin kept quiet.
- One Skin
- Two Skin
- Three Skin
- Four Skin
The forfeits they went through were really entertaining. One day Ed Curtain was taken out to the firing range on pretense that there was firing that day. The other three nabbed and blindfolded him, stood him on the butts and pelted him with eggs and tomatoes. There was a fast flowing creek in spring flood nearby that had a trolley on a rope allowing you to hand over hand yourself to the other side. One day they had some on each side with Val Richards on the trolley half way across and they were swinging him around like a skipping rope. Val was yelling in French and “Hanglish”.
Richard crossing creek.
He paid a Forfeit on this trip.
There was a dance in the mess one night and a number of girls were brought in from Truro. Gord Smith was dancing it up with the Mayor of Truro’s daughter and a intermission had to wipe the sweat off his brow. When he took out his handkerchief and shook it open, it was the most lovely pair of ladies silk panties.
Their room was something else. They had a table with one short leg and when one went to write letters they all wrote letters. And the beds, Oh boy! They always kept a freshly melted condom on the inside door knob. One day they got me. I was going down the hall and one of them hollered out, “Who’s that?” I answered “Red”. He said “Red, come in and shut the door after you.”
Spring brought in some nice warm days and, as we had an afternoon off, we prepared for town. I was heading for the Guard House and the bus to town when ahead of me were the four skins dressed for town and walking in step four abreast. Now, when you come to the Station flag, you give it a real professional salute. As the four passed the flag there was no salute. It was loud! One Skin, Two Skin etc. and Four Skin really sounded out. Now the C/O of the Station was standing beside an open window and I can hear him yet, pointing at the four and roaring, “Sgt. Major, arrest those men!” Well, anyway, they did get as far as the Guard House. It just happened that very morning the C/O had pulled a barracks inspection and, on seeing the names on the door, opened it to see what it was like inside and took hold of the inner knob.
Sadly, stories have an ending and this is one of my pet ones from the war. It is unusual that the four actually survived the war. On average about three of them should not have.
Gord Smith was kept behind as an instructor. Maybe he got things right again with the Mayor’s daughter. Val and Sully flew the Atlantic about the same night that I did and ended up on 423 Sqdr. With me and each did a full tour. Scotty got shot up by cannon fire in a rear turret by a Foke-Wulf Condor. Val sank with the Sunderland in the famous attack by Bishop South of Iceland. By some miracle his helmet cord broke and let him bob to the surface and he was picked up. Curtain did a couple of tours and survived a bad crash. In between tours I met Curtain again and later had the privilege of being best man at his wedding to a Games Keeper’s daughter in Scotland. He never did come home and we still keep in touch.
Me? Nothing happed to me. I went through two courses in Debert, each having ten crews and each time I was the only one that didn’t have a prang or crash. The day we left Debert there was only one lone serviceable Hudson out on the line. I understand that it was the last one out of 75 that had been brought in. A spur rail line was built to take the wrecks out.
Larry Sullivan bumped his head during a bad landing.
My Log Book shows that I did 93 operational trips and nothing happened to me – only a few stories to tell.
(ED. I’m sure the above will remind readers of interesting characters and their antics during training and on ops. I recall two chaps in our class at Calgary Wireless School, 20th. entry 1941, who entertained with an impromptu dance routine. They were inseparable. No matter where they were, on the parade square, in the barracks, mess hall, or down town on a crowded street, they would suddenly link arms and do a soft shoe shuffle . This was all done in ‘dead pan’, no expression, then they would casually walk on as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Many times I have seen them stop pedestrian traffic in downtown Calgary. Does anyone remember the names of these two chaps?
If you have any such stories, send them in to your Editor – address below. Our Members would love to hear them.)
PIGEON MEMORIES (Short Bursts #53, 1996 pg. 9)
My one and only experience with the feathered flyers occurred on August 24, 1943 when we two WAGs, James “Jimmy” McDougal and myself, 119 Sqdrn. detached to Mont Joli, along with pilot F/O Charles, were scheduled to carry out a “pigeon exercise” flight.
We were instructed on the method of launching the birds out of the gun tunnel of the Hudson aircraft. On arrival we found that several cages contained the feathered wonders were already aboard.
After take-off at 14:40Z and arriving at altitude of 1500 feet, I cranked down the gun tunnel (gun removed) and assumed my favourite position – prone. Jimmy removed a bird from its cage, inserted it head first into a paper bag, and handed it to me. I launched it head first into the slipstream. The bag was to protect the bird from the slipstream until it freed itself, and then it was supposed to return to the loft. The pigeon, not the bag.
After the first few launches, I noticed that the birds were not cooperating with Jimmy’s efforts to bag them. Suddenly there was one, then two, then three, birds in free flight inside the rear fuselage. Jimmy was getting real perturbed about me not helping him out. I was enjoying the performance too much to interfere. However, after getting stomped on few times, I got the message and arose from my prone position. Between the two of us we captured the escapees and continued on with the launching – all but one. We reported to the skipper that ALL feathered friends were launched and we returned to base DCO.
After landing, Jimmy and I sneaked the remaining bird into the mess building where we waited for the opportunity to release it in the lounge area when we would not be observed. It became quite popular for a time until it was returned to the loft.
Jimmy and I enjoyed the many theories of how the feathered flyer arrived in the mess, in fact, we started a few ourselves. Apparently all the other birds we had launched made it back too. Not long after this the Squadron stopped using pigeons, although I don’t think our actions had anything to do with it.
A White Homer
Ok Glenn, take a guilt trip.
Good evening John. I was looking through a Bomber Command web site and came across an obit for Ken Brown. He was an original member of 617 Squadron (Flight sergeant) and was awarded a CGM for his part in the dam raids. I flew with him post war when I was serving with 408 Squadron at Rockcliffe, he was then a Squadron Leader. I met him again at the reunions in Winnipeg and a couple of other times at the Lancaster museum in Nanton, Alberta. A very nice officer and a pretty good guy.
Cheers, Ted Hackett
Smokey Robson phoned to report that 19 members showed up for the February luncheon. Reunion applications from the February Short Bursts Page were copied and distributed. A number expressed their intention to attend.
You will notice that a large portion of this page is devoted to the Halifax Restoration Project. Their Newsletters are extremely interesting and it might be something you could share at your Branch luncheons. I was just speaking with Charley Yule and we discussed the donations the National Association made while active, especially following Reunions. Now it is up to the individual Branches to pick up the torch.
As most of us are in the 80 + range maybe it is time to start wondering about a will. I jokingly tell my family that I have a one-liner. “Being of sound mind and body I spent all my money before I died.” If inflation keeps sky rocketing this might be more fact than fiction! But it would be a way of leaving something to the Halli Project.
In reading the NA337 Restoration letters I’m impressed by the hundreds of volunteers, the amount of planning, and how the Project is slowly but surely reaching fruition. All involved are to be congratulated.
And let us not forget the efforts of Karl Kjarsgaard and Jeff Jeffery whose vision and determination 10 years ago found the resting place of Halifax NA337, raised it from the depths of Lake Mjosa in Norway, returned it to Canada, and are still active in its restoration.
Ross Hamilton took a copy of our Web Page to Vancouver in December and showed it to a number of Aircrew Association types. Ross reported that the “Airframe Drivers” were quite interested (but questioned their ability to read!). The following, from the Leader Post (Regina) Feb. 25, 2003, is for our Front End Comrades.
Battle of Britain Memorial Planned
British actor Edward Fox who starred in the 1960’s
“Battle of Britain” motion picture,
studies detail from a miniature centre piece of
the planned Battle of Britain Monument.
The three bronze reliefs depicting images from the battle will be built into an existing 25 metre-long granite wall on the Victoria Embankment over the Thames. Names of those who fought in the battle will be inscribed on the monument. 544 airmen, including 22 Canadians lost their lives. Artist Paul Day said he chose to insert the monument into the granite at ground level to draw people into it.
Approximate cost 2.8 million Can. Estimated completion date September 2004.
Mail us some material for the April Page. Until then, keep well.
John & Doreene Moyles
A Naughty but Cute Story received.
Compadres: Here's one you can remember and pass on:
W/C Johnson got himself a new secretary. She was young and sweet and very polite. One day while taking dictation, she noticed that his fly was open. When leaving the room she said: "Sir, your hangar door is open." He did not understand her remark, but later on he happened to look down and saw that his zipper was open. He decided to have some fun with his secretary.
Calling her into his office, he asked, "By the way Miss Jones, when you saw my hangar door was open this morning, did you notice an airman standing at attention?
The secretary, who was quite witty replied, "Why no sir, all I saw was a little disabled veteran sitting on two duffel bags."
Have fun fellas,
Aircrew Association Reunion
April 18th - 20th April 2003
Contact person Ken Pask firstname.lastname@example.org
or Jamie MacGregor (250) 477-8972
Registration - $150.00 per person.
Ken Pask advises that registration is limited to 400
and that they are currrently at 85%.
Send Cheque to:
P.O. Box 43022 Victoria North P.O.
Victoria, B.C. V8X 3G2
(PRINT OUT REGISTRATION FORM)
AirCrew Association – Canada
First Canadian Reunion
Easter in Victoria 18th-20th April 2003
Members Name(print) ___________________________________________________________
Address ____________________________________ City ______________________________
Province/State ___________________________ Postal/Zip Code ________________________
Telephone No. ___________________________ E-mail ________________________________
Accompanying person(s) to be registered. Please include City and Province if different from above.
Registration Fee includes entry to the following events:
18th April – Buffet Dinner at Crystal Gardens
19th April – Reception, Banquet and Dance at Empress Hotel
Registration Fee $150 per person
Early Bird Registration – 25% discount (before 30th June, 2002) $125 per person.
Amount enclosed $_______________
Please submit payment in Canadian Dollars by cheque or money order,
Cheques payable to AirCrew Association Reunion.
Mail with Registration form to:
PO Box 43022, Victoria North PO
Victoria, BC V8X 3G2
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 - 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.
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 11:30
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.
As You Were . . .
Hillman WWII Tributes
RCN HMCS PRINCE ROBERT
Ex-Air Gunners Association
Webmaster: William G. Hillman
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
Editor and Webmaster Bill Hillman ~ Copyright 1996-2021
© 2008 Bill Hillman and Ex-Air Gunners Association