Good evening John.
I received my copy of the Nanton Lancaster Society newsletter
today and it has some interesting news. To quote the newsletter "Our
special 2004 event will focus on the contribution of the air gunners to
the successes of Bomber Command." They expect to have their display of
turrets, Bristol, Fraser-Nash and Martin, completed for the event.
Final details for this event will be placed in the Spring-Summer newsletter
in May, 2004. I thought you might want to mention this in the current
issue of Short Bursts, perhaps some of our members will plan on being there.
I think I can drum up some interest in attending among the Edmonton gang,
we really haven't attended any of their events for a couple of years.
I will keep you informed of any other news I receive. Cheers,
B.C. Ex-Air Gunner’s Branch
HI John: Another fine addition of Short Bursts. Stan Sullivan
printed it out for everyone without a computer to read. We had our monthly
meeting a week early this month because our regular day would have clashed
with the 11th November. I am sending you something different here and I
hope you will be able to give this some space to help Mike Garbett. Thanks
Did you fly in Lancasters?
If you did, you are probably familiar with the names Mike
Garbett and Brian Goulding.
These two gentlemen are the authors of Lancaster, Lancaster
at war etc. and now “Lancaster at war: 5 Fifty years on” is in the works.
Recently, I have had some correspondence with Mike Garbett
and he says that he looking for help from the old Lanc boys. In particular
he would like to receive copies of all of your logbook pages to add to
his extensive and ever-growing library of vivid slices of history.
Mike has been collecting stories on Lancasters and those
who flew in them. He would welcome any stories, photos of wartime exploits
or tales of returning to visit the old squadron stations. As Mike says
“Nothing surrounding the Lancaster is boring, be assured”.
Mike promises faithfully to promptly return any photos
as soon as he has copied them.
Please forward you contribution to
“Lancaster at war: 5 Fifty years on”
10 10 Northbrook Road,
West Midlands, England,
UK B90 3NT
NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN BRANCH
Smokey Robson reported that their monthly luncheon attendance
is still good and that the Branch are having their Christmas Dinner December
IT WAS ABOUT THE TIME OF
THE VON RUNSTEDT PUSH AGAINST THE ALLIES IN EUROPE AND I WAS POSTED TO
METHWOLD AFTER COMPLETING 12 HOURS OF TIGER MOTH PILOT INSTRUCTION AT FAIROAKS
NEAR WINDSOR CASTLE. ABOUT THIRTY OF US, ALL DESIROUS OF BECOMING
PILOTS, WERE NOW DESTINED TO BE AIR GUNNERS. BUT....THERE WAS A HOLD UP
IN TRAINING SO WE WERE ASSIGNED TO ASSIST 149 (INDIA) SQUADRON AT METHWOLD
IN NORFOLK. 218 (GOLD COAST) SQUADRON WAS ALSO ON THE AIRFIELD...ALL
EQUIPPED WITH LANCASTERS. MY JOB WAS TO HELP ON THE BOMB DUMP! AN
EXCITING PLACE TO WORK, FUSING BOMBS AND LOADING SPECIFIC 'RECIPES' DEPENDING
ON THE TARGET... ON 'STRAUSERS'SPECIALLY DESIGNED 'BUGGIES' TO TRANSPORT
THE LOAD TO THE AIRCRAFT.
THERE WERE TARGET INDICATORS, 500 AND 1000 BOMBS, COOKIES,
INCENDIARIES ALL TO BE FUSED AND LOADED ON THE LANCS.WE HAD LONG DELAYS...DELAYED
ACTION BOMBS WHICH WERE A BIT TRICKY. THEY CONTAINED AN ANTI TAMPER DEVICE
THAT WOULD EXPLODE THE BOMB IF THE ENEMY ATTEMPTED TO UNSCREW THE PISTOL!
INSIDE THE BOMB WAS A STRIKER BEARING DOWN ON A GLASS PHIAL CONTAINING
A CHEMICAL. ON THE WAY TO EARTH THE STRIKER WOULD BE RELEASED AND ON INPACT
WITH MOTHER EARTH THE CHEMICAL WOULD BE RELEASED AND START TO EAT THROUGH
A PLASTIC OR PERSPEX MATERIAL THUS DETERMINING THE LENGTH OF DELAY...IT
COULD BE FOUR OR SIX HOURS. THEN THE BOMB WOULD EXPLODE! ONE NIGHT A 500
LB BOMB FELL OF THE STRAUSER AND THERE WAS NO WAY WECOULD DETERMINE
IF THE GLASS PHIAL WAS BROKEN. THE BOMB WAS REMOVED TO AN AREA IN
A REMOTE PART OF THE BASE... AND FORGOTTEN!SOME DAYS LATER WE WERE ALL
SUMMONED TO A HANGAR ...AIR CREW GROUND STAFF ET AL TO ASSIST IN
LOADING INCENDIARIES....THOSE LONG HEXANGULAR DEVICES WHICH WERE SET IN
LARGE 'COFFINS'.WE WERE ALL BUSY AT WORK WHEN THERE WAS A TREMENDOUS EXPLOSION
. WE RUSHED OUT OF THE HANGAR TO SEE A LITTLE FOX TERRIER COMING DOWN A
SMALL HILL...YELPING WITH BLOOD STREAMING FROM IT.OUR DELAYED ACTION BOMB
HAD EXPLODED AND TRAGICALLY TWO MEMBERS OF THE RAF REGIMENT...UNAWARE OF
THE LOCATION, WERE KILLED.THE SITE HAD NOT BEEN POSTED, AND OF COURSE THERE
WAS AN INQUIRY.IT WAS HARD WORK ON THE DUMP...ABOUT FIFTEEN HOURS A DAY
BUT OUR MORALE WAS GOOD AND THE MESS HALLS PROVIDED US WITH EXCELLENT MEALS.I
MANAGED TO GET THREE DAYS LEAVE AND ON RETURNING WAS INFORMED THAT A HALIFAX
AIRCRAFT HAD CRASHED ON THE DUMP, RETURNING FROM A RAID. I WENT DOWN TO
VIEW THE AIRCRAFT AND GOT A LAUGH WHEN OBSERVED THE ENTRANCE TO THE AIRCRAFT
PAINTED LIKE THE DOOR OF A PUB NAMED 'THE COCKWELL INN!'.A FOG CAME DOWN
OVER EAST ANGLIA AND THE SQUADRON OPERATED FROM WOODBRIDGE IN SUFFOLK...MORE
EXCITEMENT! MYSELF AND ANOTHER SCOT WERE GIVEN ACCOMMODATION IN A NISSEN
HUT WITH GROUND STAFF FROM A CANADIAN SQUADRON...THEY WERE VERY GENEROUS
IN SHARING THEIR XMAS CAKE!FIDO (FOG INSTANTANEOUS DISPERSAL OF!) WAS IN
OPERATION AT WOODBRIDGE...WHERE THOUSANDS OF GALLONS OF PETROL WOULD BE
ALIGHT TO LIFT THE FOG ALLOWING RETURNING AIRCRAFT TO LAND.HAPPY BUT DANGEROUS
DAYS. I LATER WAS POSTED TO DALCROSS (5 AIR GUNNERY SCHOOL) TO COMPLETE
MY GUNNERY TRAINING AND WAS AWARDED THE COVETED AIR GUNNER'S BREVET FROM
CAMERON OF LOCHIEL, CHIEF OF CLAN CAMERON.I FLEW WITH XV SQUADRON AT MILDENHALL
JUST PRIOR TO THE END OF THE WAR. THIS SQUADRON IS A RESERVE SQUADRON AT
LOSSIMOUTH ,TRAINING TORNADO CREWS.EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER MY CREW FLEW
UP TO LOSSIEMOUTH TO PICK UP A BRAND NEW LANCASTER EQUIPPED TO CARRY THE
GRAND SLAM BOMB WHICH WAS SLUNG OUTSIDE THE AIRCRAFT...NO BOMB DOORS.WE
FLEW TO MILDENHALL BUT WERE DIVERTED TO...WOODBRIDGE AND WHAT A CHANGE
FROM THE NOISY BUSTLE OF WARTIME DAYS!BUT THE LARGE GRAVEYARD WAS STILL
THERE WITH CRASHED AIRCRAFT FROM ALL THE ALLIED AIR FORCES!
Wellington 11 W5476 (LQ-H of 405 Squadron being bombed
This a/c was lost on a raid to Hamburg Nov. 30, 1941
BILL COCKBURN CD
Ross Hamilton 407 “Demon” Sqdn. RCAF (War Time)
We had our regular Wartime Aircrew Luncheon today, and I
advised the guys that there would be no More issues of Short Bursts forthcoming,
and why. In the event, those who subscribed were glad to get what they
did, and appreciate it.
Les Perkins talked to me after, and put forth a suggestion.
(I believe Les sent you a copy of his book "Flight Into Yesterday"?) With
a similar thought in mind, i.e., of creating yet another book, in co-operation
with John Moyles etal, to be made up of the many stories that have appeared
over the years in Short Bursts, also the British A/G Assoc. newsletters
of a similar vein, of which has most copies, and any other first-hand sources.
What do you think. Les has a publisher, and is of the
opinion that if we don't do this now (Les and I both just turned 80) a
lot of the stories could be lost forever.
Les does'nt have a computer, but his phone no. here in
Kelowna is (250) 762-6180. Incidentally, Les will be sending you an autographed
sticker to insert in your copy of his book.
Our best to Doreen and yourself, Ross & Evelyn.
Any Hudson chaps from the Far East? If so, please check
your log books for Hudson FH 444. I have the beginnings of the story for
this kite as I was part of the crew that got it from Dorval Que. to Prestwick
Scotland via Gander lake Newfoundland.
I would like to hear from anyone who flew in this aircraft.
Quite an eventful trip June 4/5 1942.
RAF sources state that FH 444 left for India in July 1942
and twelve days later was at a place called Kemble. This aircraft was struck
off strength February 5, 1945.
Sept. 7, 1941, 407 Squadron flew its first low - level
anti-shipping missions in Hudsons. Many Hudsons were lost. Early 1943,
407 began receiving Wellingtons.
RR #1, Dunchurch, ON,
POA 1G0 (705) 389-2479
Ed. You will find an account of Don’s “dicey” ferry
flight over the Atlantic with FH 444 in Short Bursts Archives May 2003
– it is worth another look.
Don Macfie sends us the following Statistics
On January 3, 1941, 28 young lads left on a draft
as recorder in the North Bay Nugget.
27 graduated as Aircrew;
2 as fighter pilots;
2 as bomb aimers;
3 as Straight Air Gunners;
20 as Wireless Air Gunners;
1 one did not make aircrew.
Their service Numbers were from R69351 to R69378
26 served overseas;
1 put in 2 tours on East Coast Squadrons.
10 were killed in action, 1 was killed at OTU, 1 was POW.
Of the 28 three were awarded the D.F.C.
It would be interesting to know how many tours this represented.
In September 2003 four of these veterans gathered for
a jug or two at Sundridge, ON, Legion.
(Ed. Don Provided photo copy pictures of these young
lads in civilian dress, from the 1941 North Bay Nugget, but the pictures
could not be reproduced. The important points are the statistics.)
Don sends us the following War Time Christmas Experience.
Joe’s Christmas Story
You see Joe and I were members of a Sunderland crew formed
at Oban, on a/c ABA W6000. Now we never heard any former history of this
old kite but we helped t0 make some with 423 Squadron flying ops out of
Oban and Castle Archdale. We had a few good ops under our keel before it
W6000 got up to 360 hrs. and in need of a good overhaul at Wig Bay. Her
rivets were sticking out quarter of an inch which dragged her down to 105
knots and bilges need pumping twice a day.
Well, we left her at her moorings in Wig Bay, moved on
to Glasgow and train South on our fist Ops leave. We were heading for London
to rub shoulders with other types in Captain’s Cabin Nerone, and Crackers
Getting off the train at Euston Station a porter came
up to us and asked if we were Canadians off W6000. When we said yes, he
gave us the distressing news that she now rested on the bottom of Wig Bay.
This shook us up a bit, but not a real lot. We went on to High Holborn
and a 2/6 room at Sally Anne (shared) Joe and I.
We had had no mail since coming over 8 months before,
so it was down to Knightsbridge to see the postie who happened to be another
tree-toppler like myself, just four miles from where I lived back in Canada.
He piled the counter up with so many parcels that Joe started to use his
rough language. He said, “Geez! Geez! Red, what are we going to do with
all this Geez.stuff?”
We went back to High Holborn, emptied our kit bags, and
then went back to collect it all. When dumped on our beds, it made a mountain
of parcels. Joe said, “Geez, what are we going to do with this.”
I said that I was going to a far out relative Uncle for
Christmas so I knew what I was doing with mine. Joe said that he didn’t
have any uncles. He walked around the bed, up one side and down the other,
cocking his eye like a robin looking for a worm, then he said, “Geez, Red,
give me your kit bag.” He then filed his and mine and said, “follow me.”
Going down towards Trafalgar Square in a real dense black-out
we suddenly came across a Bobby. Joe says, “Sir, do you know a real destitute
family in these parts?”
“Now,” says the Bobby, “I should think that I do.” He
told us to make some lefts and rights to a bombed out building. We were
to look for some stairs open to the stars and, if we went up two flights
we would come to the door of one room saved from the bomb. We found this
to be true. At the door Joe says, “Red, rap on the door.” This I
did, no answer. “Rap again,” says Joe. This I do louder. A timid female
voice answers, “who’s there.” Joe roars out, “Santa Clause.”
The voice tells us to come in, so we do.
Now I would like you to pause a minute and try to put
in your mind what I saw. A young woman, maybe in her late twenties, two
small kiddies, one on each side, all sheltered against the cold under
one blanket. There was no bed, no furniture, except a table on which stood
a sturdy candle lighting the room. Joe said, “Red, hold the candle.” He
dumped the kitbags on the table until it was heaped and parcels spilling
over onto the floor.
Joe roared, “Merry Christmas,” and we left on our merry
way down to Trafalgar Square. Christmas Eve 1942.
Members will recall that in our November 2002 issue mention
was made of the Ex- Armourer on #135, and #422 Squadrons, Hal Sisson,
and his retirement writing career.
Here are his humorous works to date.
Contact Salal Press
These books would make excellent Christmas gifts
for old Curmudgeons like us.
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:
STOP PRESS NEWS!!!
Hal has just published his sixth missal, MAQUILADORA MAYHEM,
and I know it is a barn burner.
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
MAQUILADORA MAYHEM is a sequel to A FAT LOT OF GOOD, a
continuation of the exploits of characters Figg and Fowler. For $10.99
(Can.) It is a barrel of chuckles and belly laughs. Well, what can you
expect from an old armourer whose hobby is collecting marbles - Hal Sisson
has not lost any of his!
Information on books can be obtained from:
THEIR NAMES LIVE ON - by Doug Chisholm
Canadian Plains Research Centre,
University of Regina, Regina, Sk.
S4S 0A2 Canada.
Autographed editions can be purchased directly from:
La Ronge, SK
During the Second World War, over 91,000 men and women
from Saskatchewan enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces, and served in
the army, air force and navy. In active service for their country,
over 3800 servicemen from Saskatchewan lost their lives. During
the 1950's and 1960's the province of Saskatchewan, named geographic features
in memory of these individuals, who made the supreme sacrifice.
The 3800 northern lakes, islands and bays named after
the men who gave their lives in the war are a perpetual sign of our indebtedness
to those who gave their lives in defence of democratic ideals.
As a bush pilot in northern Saskatchewan, I have long
been intrigued by the many lakes and islands which were named in memory
of the Saskatchewan servicemen who lost their lives in the Second World
Over the past years, I have been taking aerial photos
of the sites and have now recorded aerial photos of over 3500 of these
I am continuing to research the names of these servicemen,
establishing an extensive database regarding home communities, military
service, and burial location and remaining family.
The naming of the lakes and islands was a fine tribute
by our province, in memory of Saskatchewan servicemen who made the supreme
sacrifice for our country.
For some families, with supporting text, I have prepared
framed tributes utilizing an aerial photo of the lake, and a service photo
of the individual.
THEIR NAMES LIVE ON contains, in part, the stories
of Eighty-nine young Saskatchewan men that gave their lives that the future
world could be free. Well written by Gerry Hill, these stories and
bountiful pictures have been collected by Doug Chisholm from his personal
contact with the many family members he has communicated with. There
are also coloured aerial photographs of some of the lakes, rivers and islands
that have been name after Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen from Saskatchewan
that did not return when the war was over.
This book is also Saskatchewan's Honour Roll from World
War II. Approximately 3800 names appear complete with their Branch
of Service, Rank, Hometown, Casualty Date, the Geo-Memorial named for them
and it's location in Longitude and Latitude.
This book makes a beautiful interesting read, is a good
reference and would make a fine addition to anyone's library.
As Doug stated above, he is still researching the history
and relatives of the men so honoured. If you have or obtain a copy of,
THEIR NAMES LIVE ON, and can help Doug in his endeavours, give him a call.
BURNSIDE, E.G. #0976, TORONTO, ON:
Informed by Member Bill Cockburn of the Ontario Chapter, we regret to announce
the passing of Elwood. His enlistment number was R292777 and he attended
#1 Manning Depot, Toronto where he was selected for Gunnery training.
Posted to #3 B/G at MacDonald, MB where he described his activities as
'joe jobs', he eventually arrived at #10 B/G at Mount Pleasant, PEI, to
begin training with Course #95 with whom he graduated with his Brevet on
February 16th, 1945. Proud though he was at having accomplished this goal,
he was deflated when he was released from the service on March 23, 1945,
subject to recall. Elwood was pleased to become a member of our Association
and was a respected member of the Ontario Chapter (Toronto) where he was
active in interviewing ex aircrew and filming spoken excerpts of their
PAWLAK, E.G. #0266, CALGARY, AB: Edwin, who
passed away Sept 4/03, joined the RCAF and was selected for
WOAG training at #2 Manning Depot, Brandon, MB. He attended Wireless
School at #3, Winnipeg and #8 B/G at Lethbridge, AB. He served with
#547 Squadron in an RAF Group.
SHEPHERDSON, W.J.E. #0268, CALGARY, AB:
'Bud' was born in Expanse, SK on May 22nd, 1923, and passed away peacefully
at the Rosedale Hospice in Calgary on Oct. 15th, 2003. He attended
Manning Depot at Brandon, MB and was selected for AG training which was
accomplished at #3 B&G MacDonald, MB. Following service overseas
as a tail gunner with 425 Squadron in 6 Group, he earned a law degree at
the University of Saskatchewan in 1950. In living memory of Bud,
a tree will be planted at Nose Creek Valley.
SPANKIE, D. #0138, INNISFAIL, AB: 'Don' was
born in 1922 and passed away April 8, 2003. He joined the RCAF in
1942 as R202711. At Manning Depot in Edmonton he was selected for
Gunnery and received training at #3 MacDonald, MB from August to October
1943. Posted to #44(Rhodesia) Squadron in 5 Group at Dunholm Lodge
he completed his tour of 33 Ops 6/10/44 with an Op to Breman.
We want to thank the members from across our fair land who
contributed to this Page. Also a bouquet to Charley Yule who looks after
the Obituaries for us.
We lost my brother in November. Desmond was a career RCAF
officer, enlisting in September 1937. However we are having out-of-Province
guests for Christmas week. It will be a time of mixed emotions.
Under the circumstances there will not be a January 2004
Page, unless someone wants to put it up. We will try to get the ball rolling
again in February 2004.