Biography: Earl Stewart Rheaume
On February 20, 1914 my dad was born in Ottawa Ontario,
to Lillian and Eddie Rheaume.
Dad attended Devonshire Public School, where he was awarded
the Certificate of Honour, after completing his third year in 1926-27.
Dad graduated with honours, from Glebe Collegiate in 1932.
Dad met his later to be wife, at a Saturday evening church
dance. Dad asked the then, Dorothy Ristow for a dance, she agreed,
and they danced together, the remainder of the evening.
Their courtship eventual led them to elope and marrying
in a civil ceremony on January 31, 1936. Their two best friends attended.
The four celebrated with dinner, drinks and dancing.
Those were the depression years where rationing, unemployment
and tough times touched most families, including dad and moms.
Dad would take on any employment that he could find. He
was happy to do so, and worked at the Clark Dairy Limited and later the
Their first son Graham, was born on August 10th 1936 at
the Salvation Army Grace Hospital. Graham died at 4 ½ years, of
End Stage Nephritis, on March 23rd 1941.
I (Earle) their second son, was born some three months
later, on June 27th also at the Salvation Army Grace Hospital.
Dad applied for enlistment in the RCAF on November 28,
1940. He met all qualifications for Aircrew duties – either as a Pilot,
Observer or Wireless Operator Air Gunner. He enlisted in June 1941, receiving
his training at No. 1 Wireless School at Montreal; Manning Pool, Toronto;
Camp Borden and Fingal, where he received his air gunner’s wing in June
1942. He arrived overseas one month later joining up with RCAF Squadron
June 12 1943 at 2:45 AM – Wellington HE 392 Crashed:
While returning to home base at Burn Yorkshire, England,
from a bombing raid on Dusseldorf, Earl and his four crew members aboard
their Wellington HE 392 bomber, were attacked by a German Night Fighter.
The Wellington was last seen in flames and diving toward the earth. It
crashed on the land of Mr. Komen at Schagen Netherlands.
The remains of only one of the five-member crew was recovered
and buried the same day: Dad (Grave #183, Row 10, in Petten, District Zype).
The bodies of the other four-crew members were not recovered.
Royal Netherlands Air Force Aircraft Recovery Team
On September 10, 1991 the Royal Netherlands Air Force
Aircraft Recovery Team (ARG) began carrying out excavations at the crash
site, and discovered the remains of the four missing crew.
Together again after fifty years:
On June 16, 1993 a full military funeral honours, including
British, Netherlands and Canadian military and officials, reunited the
four-crew members with my dad, after fifty years of separation.
L C Scott Flt/Lt. CHAPLAIN:
“I knew the whole of this crew well, as it is my custom
to see them off at night and very often meet them on their return in the
morning. Earl, I knew particularly well, as he very often played
the piano for me at my church services and was always very ready and willing
to do so. Also his gift for playing the piano was a valuable asset to us
here, both in the Concert party and also at dances”.
Members of the crew of Wellington HE 392
Squadron Leader W E Mulford RAF (Pilot)
Flying Officer C A MacDougal RCAF (Navigator)
Warrant Officer 11 J G Breen RCAF (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant E S Rheaume RCAF (Air Gunner)
Sergeant J R Bell RAF(VR) (Wireless Operator/Air
~ Earle Rheaume