Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
2018.11 Edition

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Combat Deaths and Missing in Action totals: 53,402
Total Military Deaths from all Causes (including non-combat) totals: 116,708

Combat Deaths and Missing in Action totals: 56,638
Total Military Deaths from all Causes totals: 56,639 to 64,996
Chart from Infograph :: Emaze ::  Wikipedia

By Daughter Betty Anne Richard

Richard Jones and his Hawker Tempest aircraft he flew in WWII.
On one of his missions his plane developed mechanical trouble and he crash landed in Holland.
The Dutch Underground found him near the plane
and hid him from the Germans for several months until the Allies liberated Holland

 My father was trained in several locations in 41/42 and became an instructor at Uplands.
He eventually went overseas and flew out of Vokel, Holland.
He was shot down in Feb/45 and hidden by the resistance.
I have over 200 letters he wrote to my mom as well as many original papers, photos, memorabilia etc.
I am writing a book about it right now.

A Personal Remembrance by an Air Force Brat.
 While in the process of writing a book about my Father, Mother and the Dutch Resistance during WWII, I am more than happy to share some of it with those who are interested in this important part of our history.

 I am an Air Force brat who has lived from Victoria B.C. to Greenwood N.S. and many places in Ontario.

 It feels like I always knew about dad being in the war.  We lived on air bases and all our friends had Dads who were in the War.  It was normal for us so no-one really talked about it.  But over the years, something would trigger yet another story.  Two of the many stories that really made an impression on me were about the bravery of a young boy and the hunger that devastated Holland in the winter of 44/45. 

 Maarten was only 5 years old when his parents agreed to provide refuge to the Canadian pilot who was shot down in occupied territory.  Wanting to do something to help ‘Uncle Dick’, Maarten would swing on the gate to the laneway leading to their home.  When he saw Germans coming down the road he would run to tell Dick and his father “The Germans are coming, the Germans are coming”.  This meant the Germans were doing house to house checks looking for radio equipment or other proof of resistance activities.  They were also looking for any allied service men or people of the Jewish faith that families may be hiding. 

 The winter of 44/45 was known as the ‘hunger winter’, particularly in the occupied western part of Holland.  Rations fell to 580 calories by February of 1945.  Tulip bulbs were now being eaten to try to keep from starving.  Unfortunately, thousands did starve to death. Learning about this, I can understand why Dad had little tolerance for us leaving food on our plate or complaining about what we were having for supper.  I remember one evening, the complaints triggered Dad and he threatened to go outside to dig up some tulip bulbs.  If I close my eyes I can still see his face and hear his voice as he pointed to the back door and saying they had to eat them in Holland because they had nothing else to eat.  I won’t tell you we never complained after that, but it was much more infrequently.

 I learned more during high school when we were studying the second world war.  Asking my father more pointed questions, I heard more about the crash and the family that took him in.  Years later, as my children were learning about the wars in history class, my interest was again piqued.  It seemed that the older I got, the more detailed the stories became.  He spoke of the van Ede family that sheltered him and of Paul van Ede who was an active member of the resistance and his wife Lien, who would go on perilous food seeking trips with other women in the village. His admiration and respect for the resistance was always with him and he thought of Paul as his own brother.

 While clearing out my parents’ home so it could be put up for sale, I ventured into the attic.  You know, that place that houses long forgotten treasures from the past just waiting to be rediscovered. There were the typical old lamps, boxes of out-of-fashion clothes, curtain rods and books that could no longer fit on the overcrowded bookcases downstairs.  Toward the back of the attic I noticed the corner of a box protruding from its hiding place under the insulation.  Carrying it downstairs, I placed it on the kitchen table and carefully lifted the lid. The musty smell of history wafted up and revealed bundles of letters tied with blue ribbon.
 I brought them into the living room and, sitting beside my Mother, asked her what they were.  Her eyes misted as she explained another part of the past I had not yet heard.  When my parents learned they were going to be separated for an indefinite period of time during the war, they made a promise to write each other a letter every day. They kept this up for a year and a half and actually, if they missed a day they would write two the next day.

 Intrigued, I asked if I could read some of them.  I was disappointed when she said no.  Maybe sometime she said, but for now would you please put the box under my bed.  And under the bed it went.  Some time later I noticed another box was placed under her bed.  Again, she didn’t want to talk much about it.  She said they were just letters, cards and some things she had written but did not want to share.  Mom asked me to promise her I would never look in the second box nor would I let anyone else. She said that when she died I could have the first box, but was to burn the other one. I respected Mom’s wishes and had the second box placed with her when she was cremated. 

 Before passing away, Mom told me she considered me the ‘keeper of the Jones history’.  She gave me a large box containing many items my father brought home from the war.  Mom had made an album of Dad in the Air Force which included photos and documents.  And she also gave me the box of letters tied with blue ribbons. A few years later I began to read the letters.  There were literally hundreds of them in the box but I was disappointed when I realized that the majority of Mom’s letters were missing.  I can only surmise that she had placed them in the second box after reading them over.  I will never regret having honored my Mothers wishes. But I am grateful that the last ones she wrote were still with my Father's letters. 

 So, what was it like for me to read personal letters my parents wrote?  For starters, I am so grateful that mom and dad had excellent penmanship.  I loved the words and phrases they used from the 40’s.  They were so clean, like ‘gee’ and ‘swell’ and ‘darn’.  I loved that at times they wrote as if they were in the same room.  I did have a hard time with some of the ways they expressed their love, I mean, parents don’t do that do they?

   But most of all, I learned a lot about who my parents were in a way that not many people have the opportunity to do.  So, I will now begin to tell this story through the letters, documents and first hand accounts of my Mother, Father, and the wonderful van Ede family. I am hoping to have the book out for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Holland.

 Just as my parents were, I am forever grateful to the van Ede family and the Dutch Resistance for what they did for my father.  Without them, I would not be here.  I am still in touch with the 5-year-old ‘Maarten’ and think of him as a brother.  Hopefully I will make it back over to write the portion of the book detailing dad’s ‘adventures’ there.

·Announcement of dad, Flt. Lt. Richard William Jones, missing overseas.
 Formal notification to mom by the Minister of National Defence for Air.

Telegram notifying mom that dad was missing in action.

Some of the other allies in hiding.

These are copies of the forged papers passing my dad off as
a deaf mute Dutchman under the name of Willem de Jongh.

The Nazis found the forged papers on dad and
used them to declare he was a spy and was sentenced to be shot.

Telegram from the RCAF Casualities Officer
informing mom that dad arrived safely in the United Kingdom.

This is the home of the people in Holland that hid Richard Jones
during the months that he was in hiding from the Germans.
His room was right above the front door.
Behind the house was a small opening into the bushes where he could quickly escape
if the Germans came towards the house.
I heard some amazing stories about his time there and it would make an outstanding movie.
This photo was taken by his family long after the war when they went to Holland
to visit with the family who had risked their lives to hide him.

Remembering Northern B.C.'s Flying Tigers
The legend of World War Two pilots Albert and Cedric Mah,
as told by their daughters ~ Nov. 8, 2018 ~ Shannon Lough

(Steven Lemay photo)
World War Two aviation legends Albert Mah and Cedric Mah
were raised in Prince Rupert before finding their wings.

War was not so distant in Prince Rupert after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in 1941. The North Coast fishing village transformed into a strategic military base. The population of the city tripled, from approximately 7,000 to 21,000 people. Reminders from that time are reflected in the wartime homes built across the city and some military structures, such as the Barrett Fort on southern Kaien Island.

But there are memories of war heroes that exist beyond Kaien Island. Heather Mah and Cheryll Watson remember their fathers as great bush pilots who were raised in Prince Rupert and went on to become World War II aviation legends in their own right. Both women spoke to the Northern View to share what their fathers’ roles were in the war, and how Prince Rupert always held a special place in their heart.

“He (Cedric) did 337 flights over the Himalayas — ‘The Hump’ — and my dad (Albert) did 420. They broke some kind of a record flying non-pressurized planes,” Heather said over the phone from her home in Montreal. The Hump was the only way to get supplies to China after the Japanese took control over sections of the country and Manchuria. Both Albert and Cedric flew supplies for Pan American Airways, a subsidiary of China National Aviation Corporation. The treacherous route, known as The Hump, was known for poor visibility, turbulence, harsh winds and it wasn’t uncommon for planes to ice up.

Wartime pilots assisting the American mission in China were known as Flying Tigers. The Mah brothers were as fierce and determined as the moniker. Their bravery came from a shared mission to help their ancestral territory where much of their family lived during both the Japanese invasion and the civil war between the Chinese Nationalist and Communist forces. Albert died in 2005 at age 84, and Cedric died in 2011 at age 88. Their aviation accomplishments and misadventures have been well documented, but what is less known are the anecdotes from their daughters.

“When my father was little, he would get up to some mischief. When he was as young as 10-12 he would run off the top of the garage with an umbrella to try to fly. That’s what my auntie told me,” Heather said, before sharing another story about stealing her grandfather’s ice cream truck and enjoying hot dogs and french fries during a brief stint behind bars.

From China to the Hump

The Mah family moved to Canada in the late 1800s. Mah Bon Quen and his wife had one son, Mah Chung Kee, who moved to Prince Rupert in 1912 and started up the Sunrise Grocery Store. Mah Chung Kee had nine children, two of which were Albert and Cedric. When their grandfather died in 1936, the family went back to China to bring his body to his ancestral village. Some of the family stayed, but a teenage Albert and Cedric went back to Prince Rupert to finish their schooling. “Father and Cedric came back to Canada and at a very young age, they both got interested in aviation. My father started flying at age 16,” Heather said.

The brothers went to California to learn how to fly. They returned to Canada, and worked at the Air Observers School in Edmonton, and later Albert went to work for Quebec Airways. “By 1943 the war had broke out and his family, sisters and his mother, were still in the village in China,” Heather said. Eager to serve in the war and be closer to their family, they wanted to fly but the Royal Canadian Air Force had a discriminatory policy at the time that wouldn’t allow ethnic Chinese to fly with them. Instead, they signed up with Pan American Airways and flew missions over The Hump in the Himalayas.

“This was really dangerous work. They were flying through the Himalayas. There were Japanese in the air. No pressurized cabins, they used oxygen masks and had trouble with icing up,” Heather said.


There are documented stories of the brothers taking part in dangerous missions. Albert once pretended to be deaf and mute to sneak past enemy lines in China in order to smuggle his 12-year-old sister from Fei Gno, the family village where many had returned after their grandfather passed away. They hid in a coffin on a river boat to avoid the guards, while Japanese planes bombed from above.

Near the end of the war, Cedric was flying in a Douglas DC-3 carrying millions in Chinese currency. When his plane iced up, an engine failed and he was forced to toss most of the bundles of money over to lighten the load. They landed safely, and were thoroughly investigated.

In 1945, the Japanese surrendered, but the civil war in China erupted. The brothers continued to supply the nationalists until 1949 when Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist Chinese Army was defeated by the Mao Zedong’s Communist forces. For their efforts, Albert and Cedric were both awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal by the U.S. Air Force in the 1990s.

After the war

Cedric worked as a bush pilot based in Prince Rupert for a few years. His daughter, Cheryll, was 15 years old at the time. “He had a great gig out there. He did a lot of work for some lumber companies. My dad would have to fly people in from the lumber companies in to check out the inventory,” she said. “Definitely some very sophisticated navigational flying skills were required.”

Cheryll and her brother went to visit their father twice. She remembers how the community supported him, and helped out the single dad. Sometimes, he even took his kids on flights. “It was amazing to watch him maneuver the plane in between the mountains,” Cheryll said.

Then they moved back to Edmonton, where Cedric continued to fly as a bush pilot in the Arctic, where he also crashed and survived. Albert moved to Montreal, where he met Heather’s mother, but he still made trips to Prince Rupert for reunions. In 2005, he purchased a plane ticket to the North Coast for another reunion, but he passed away before he could use it. Heather inherited the ticket and travelled to Prince Rupert for the first time.

She reunited with her relatives. The Mah family is well established in Prince Rupert, including her cousin, Pat Mah, who runs Baker Boy on Third Avenue. She also met up with her dad’s best friend’s daughter, Donna Morse-Smith, who came to visit Heather in Montreal this past summer. It was Albert’s connection over the years to family and Ingver Leon Morse that Heather said helped form a stronger bond with Prince Rupert and her cousins.

Determined to fly, the Mah brothers, Flying Tigers, are just two of the legends who emerged from Prince Rupert who can be remembered on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day this November 11.

As You Were . . .

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