Volume 13 Number 2 April 1996
Editors: Greg Sigurdson ~ Dirk Aberson
Contact is the official publication of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. The primary function of contact is to keep the membership aware of the Museum's progress, activities, and needs. It serves as a means of communication and information for members in Canada and other countries around the world. Comments, letters, and articles are encouraged, they may be reprinted or rejected at the discretion of the executive.
The subscription to Contact is included in the annual fee for membership in the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.
Shall Grow Not Old
A Farewell to a Good Friend -- Lancaster to Visit the CATPM
The Japanese Question In War Time B.C.
Ground Staff: The Unsung Heroes
Let the Good Times Roll!
Our Special Thanks to a Talented Artist
For the Moment
What's the Gen?
CATPM Want Ads
Hey Big Spender, Spend a Little Canadian Tire Cash on Me!
Welcome to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
THEY SHALL GROW NOT OLD
LINDE, JAMES ALEXANDER F/O (N) J22075. From Vancouver, British Columbia. Killed in Action Jan. 21/44 age 22. #431 Iroquois Squadron (The Haiten Ronteriios), Halifax aircraft #LK680 was shot down at wesermunde-Geestemunde, Germany during a night trip to Magdeburg, Germany. P/O. W.J. Louth, WO. J.P. McLeod, Sgts. J.H. DiPinto, C. Gilroy (RAF) and W. Kingham (RAF) were also killed. One Canadian, FS. G.E. Krentz, was taken Prisoner Of War. Flying Officer Navigator Linde was buried in the Garrison Cemetery at Wesermunde-Geestemunde, exhumed, and reburied in the Becklington War Cemetery, Soltau, Germany.
F/O Linde's entry is one of 18,000 in the CATPM memorial book THEY SHALL GROW NOT OLD. ``Dedicated to all those airmen and women who served their country, during the Second World War, that we may be free,'' a limited-edition, second-printing of the Memorial Book is available for purchase at $92.70 delivered anywhere in Canada. Additional information, order forms and quotes for shipping costs outside of Canada can be obtained by writing the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Box 3, Grp. 520, RR5, Brandon, Manitoba, R7A 5Y5.
A FAREWELL TO A GOOD FRIEND --
LANCASTER TO VISIT THE CATPM
The Canadian Warplane Heritage Inc. museum is putting its Mynarski Memorial Lancaster into semi-retirement and will be taking it on a final, extended tour of the country including a planned visit to the CATPM in late May or early June. This will be its last trip beyond a 100 mile radius of its home base in Hamilton, Ontario. A committee is currently negotiating a stop in Brandon. If the committee is successful in its efforts, museum members and the general public will be invited to say farewell to this good friend, have a close look and tour the museum. A final decision will be made by May 1 after which a call to the museum will yield final details.
The Lancaster was the outstanding heavy bomber of WW II. Of 7,337 produced, 3,345 were lost engaged in Bomber Command Ops. The Mynarski Memorial Lancaster is a B.Mk X, one of 430 made by Victory Aircraft, Toronto. Built in July 1945 and retired from service in 1963, it is dedicated to P/O Andrew Mynarski, VC, who was posthumously decorated for bravery over France in 1944 while serving with 419 Sqdn, RCAF.
The Japanese Question In War Time B.C.
I had no particular difficulty with any of the people that I was escorting. I had no one leave or try to run away. There were a few people who got sick and required medical attention. I had a few complaints, but they were few. Most of the people were contented with their lot. They knew what the situation was and tried to make the best of it. They even offered me oranges and things that they had brought with them and tried to be friends.
The only time that I heard of losing anyone, at all, was when one of the other young policemen had two young fellows run away from train at one of the stops. It took a while for them to be located and brought back. That, however, was a very rare happening and there really wasn't too much difficulty.
When we did hear complaints and grumblings, it generally was when we got to their destinations and they were met by the people who were going to be taking them to the farms or whatever it was that their new homes were to be. Of course, each family knew what type of a place where they were going. They had been advised of this, but as has been said before, some of them had been living in very nice homes and the prospect of now having to move into something much more spartan and much less commodious was not very inviting to them. So, they sometimes felt a little put out because of this.
I remember one fellow who, when he saw the tiny, little house in which he and his family were to live, pulled out his cheque book and asked the farmer ``Where do you live?'' The farmer answered, ``I live in that house over there,'' indicating a nice, big house. ``Well,'' the newcomer said, ``I'll buy it from you and you can live in the three room house.'' The farmer, however, didn't take him up on his offer. Naturally, it was all a little bit of a let down to them, but I guess they survived.
When we made these trips, we had to travel in what is known as our ``walking out order.'' That was red serge, full dress without sidearms. We did not carry any sidearms on these escorts because the people were not considered to be prisoners. We carried a riding crop and that was a part of our dress.
I was, of course, as I've said before, just a young fellow and rather proud of my uniform. In Vancouver, where we boarded the train, I had to ``count noses'' as the people entered so that we knew that everyone had got on the train and as we stood there, I guess I felt pretty proud walking around there in full dress -- my red serge and so on. Quite a few people would come around and stare at us. I was all spit and polish at the time and aware of the attention that we were getting.
One day, I was standing around with people boarding the train. I had to stand on the platform awaiting. It was close to the seashore, of course, with lots of seagulls flying around, swooping over the train and you know what seagulls do. Well, one of them took aim at me and sure enough, he let fly and a big blob lit right on the brim of my Stetson. That sure took me down a peg.
I was little embarrassed and red faced. Naturally, I had to remove my hat and clean it. A lot of people had a few chuckles. I didn't do muchchuckling at the time, but I can see the humour in it a little more now.
On that particular escort, I was taking 411 Japanese to Lethbridge where they were to be distributed to various points in southern Alberta. The trip went well. We were met by the farmers who had agreed to take these people. I had to get receipts for all of them. I stayed overnight and returned to Vancouver the next morning. I remember that when I arrived in the city, there was no one to meet me. I was waiting for someone to come with a vehicle to pick me up and was standing on the station platform in the sunshine. I saw a couple of American GIs and they came over and spoke to me. We got chatting away and they asked me why I was there in that dress uniform. These escorts were not military secret, so I was able to tell them what I had been doing and I mentioned to them the number of people that I had escorted.
One of them said, ``Well, where's the rest of the guys?'' And I said, ``You mean the Japanese? They're all in Lethbridge and area.'' ``Naw, the rest of the escort.'' the GI said. I said, ``What do mean the rest of the escort? I'm the only escort.'' He said, ``You're not telling me you made that trip all by yourself to escort that number of people?'' I answered, ``Of course I did.'' to which he responded, ``Well, where's your weapon?'' I said, ``Well, the only weapon I've got is my riding crop here, if you could call that a weapon.''
He couldn't believe it. He exclaimed, ``My gosh! We've been escorting these people away from our coast from Seattle and with that many people, we'd have thirty armed men... all armed with submachine guns.''
So, that's the difference in the way the problem was handled in the two countries and I can see why there was some resentment towards the Americans by those people. However, I suppose the feelings were greater down there due to the fact that they had been hit by Japanese much harder than we had.
About the only problem that I remember encountering was with a few of them who were up in the interior of B.C. It was group up around Blue River. I can't even remember what their complaint was, but they went on strike there and they were not happy about something or other So there was a detachment of us, numbering about eleven I think, who went up there to settle the problem. We were up there for a couple of weeks on this strike duty and we got things straightened out without any real difficulty. We worked it so that they thought there were about 25 of us instead of 11. We did this by making sure that not all of us were seen together at one time. We soon got things ironed out. It was just a few of the young fellows who had become a little bit resentful and created a few problems. There was an agitator there with them and he was arrested and taken back to Vancouver. That was the last that I heard of them.
We met a lot of nice people up in that area and I saw some new country, but that was about the size of my dealings with the Japanese people at that time. I have met again with quite a number of them, years later around Lethbridge and Taber, Alberta and a few of them even remembered me, but that was many years ago. I don't think any of them would recognize me now, but I know that there's still a lot of those people living there. Many of them now own the farms and businesses at which they were placed to work for other people. They were industrious, made money and saved it and were able to get themselves located and in business, some on farms, some at garages, some at other things. I think they've done very well.
I know that there's presently some of the young people, who have grown up since those stressful times, agitating for the government to make restitution. I note, though, that it is the children and grandchildren who are the ones who want compensation, not the ones who were actually involved. They say that the Japanese-Canadians were unjustly treated. I guess they were, but I ask the question, ``How would you have handled it if you had been there at the time -- a time of emergency when the country was in peril, and was looking at a means of keeping invasion away from its shores?'' I can't really see how it could have been done much differently, but I guess I'm not the expert.I remained at the West Coast doing that type of duty for a total of approximately 12 months. It was beautiful and green most of the time. Sometimes it was a bit rainy and at certain times of the year, there was rather heavy fog, but generally, it was nice country and I enjoyed my stay there.
Ground Staff: The Unsung Heroes
In the last war, I was a navigator and did a tour with 428 "Ghost" squadron at Middleton St. George in Durham, England. We flew Canadian built Lancasters. I went to the squadron as a Flight Sergeant and left as a Pilot Officer, having survived and completed a tour of operations on Bomber Command. My time on the squadron was in fall and winter, at a time when the weather was anything but pleasant.
We had some interesting flying experiences over Germany. Rather than tell about them I would like to salute some unsung members of the ground staff and in particular the ground crew who looked after our aircraft. First let me describe the general situation.
Our aircraft were parked on a hard stand, a circle of cement, large enough for a Lanc to make a 360 degree turn. The hard stands were dispersed in a great circle around the airdrome, thus most were over a mile from the station proper. Off to one side was a ground crew shelter about eight feet square and five feet high with a sloped roof. These shelters were made by the occupants. All the material came from the scrap dump, thus they varied greatly being made from pieces of corrugated metal, pieces of tin and aluminum, old boards, tar paper and canvas. They were heated with a home made stove fuelled with used crankcase oil. Furniture was mainly old boxes and a crude wooden bench. They were really quite ugly and resembled the source of the building supplies. On the other hand they were warm and the stove provided a place to brew some tea. Our ground crew consisted of a Sergeant, two fitters , a rigger and an armourer.
Sergeant Joe Hand was also in charge of two other crews who looked after aircraft on nearby hard stands.
What about these people who worked in a so called safe job? They worked at all hours of the day and night. In the winter months the nights were about 16 hours and a lot of work was done with flash lights. They worked in the most abominable weather as often there was a drizzle with wind and temperatures just above freezing. Imagine working on an engine 14 feet above the ground maybe doing a complete engine change. To keep warm they had to wear heavy underwear, two pairs of pants, a turtle neck sweater, a battle dress jacket and over all a lined leather coat without sleeves. Because of the mud and water, knee boots were standard wear, most had them turned down half way. I often wondered when our ground crew got any sleep.
We never took off without them being there to see us off. Our take-off times varied from six in the morning to 11 at night and we returned six to eight hours later. We never landed without them being there to greet us. The minute we stopped on the hard stand they were into the aircraft to check on snags and malfunctions. They immediately went to work on repairs.
The ground crews were not the only ones to work under tough conditions. Many trades people had it tough, in particular the armourers. On our squadron a form of punishment for aircrew was to spend from two days to a week in the bomb dump. When an operation was on, there was great activity in the bomb dump. Bombs had to be loaded on low slung trolleys. A tractor would pull a string of loaded trolleys and would drop off three at each aircraft with the proper bomb load, usually 13,000 pounds for each aircraft. Bomb loads and bomb types varied according to the target and the distance to the target. The fuel load and bomb load were calculated for minimum fuel and maximum bombs, together they totalled about 25,000 pounds. Work in the bomb dump was, to say the least, dirty manual labour. Mud and water were normal and combined with cold, wind and rain it was not a pleasant place to work. There were times when the dump was so busy that volunteers were asked to help with the result there would be barbers, cooks and clerks lending a hand. On occasion, targets would be changed at the last minute and this necessitated changing the bomb load. There would be a great rush to get out the new loads. Aircraft that were already loaded would be unloaded and the bombs rolled to one side to be picked up later and returned to the bomb dump. When the aircraft were being loaded, a trolley would be pushed under the plane, and the bombs raised into the bomb bay by a winch. Some winches were hand powered and some were hydraulic powered. A bombing operation on a station usually required the man-handling of half a million pounds of bombs, no small task when you consider that it was often done several times a week. If there was a change from a daylight trip to a night trip or vice versa the 24,000 rounds of ammunition in each aircraft had to be changed.
Others were busy delivering thousands of gallons of high test gasoline, oil, oxygen cylinders, dozens of boxes of window and photo flares. Bomb cameras had to be loaded and the film collected as soon as we returned. Other technicians checked instruments, radios and radar sets. The WAAF drivers took us to and from the aircraft and other WAAFs looked after our parachutes and flying clothing. Cooks who made our meals at all hours, the medics and rescue workers, were always ready. Some of the rescue people were many miles away; they had their launches and Walrus aircraft ready to go and search for ditched airmen. Many others were busy preparing for a bombing operation. Orders had to be typed and a meteorology briefing prepared. The intelligence section checked German defences, prepared a briefing and selected escape aids. The Padres pedalled their bikes to every aircraft, bringing best wishes for a safe return, chewing gum and a drink of water.
Finally a thank you to those girls in the control tower. They had to really keep their cool. Just imagine 40 or more aircraft returning to each station. At Middleton we had a common circuit with Croft thus there could be over 80 aircraft arriving all low in gas; some were very low. Others had minor or major damage, maybe one or more engines not working or no hydraulics which meant no flaps or brakes. Everybody wanted to get down, get their meal and get to bed. The girls had to sort out those who had to get down from those who were just in a hurry. They calmly sent some up to circle and wait while others got their landing instructions. These girls were able to keep order and have an aircraft land every 40 or 50 seconds.
This is a thank you to all those men and women who worked under very adverse conditions at all hours of the day and night in all types of weather. Unlike the aircrew they did not get the coveted meal of bacon and eggs when an operation was complete. They worked long days for minimum pay and received far less leave. They slept in cold drafty barracks on straw biscuits. Three biscuits served as a mattress. They ate in messes that served mediocre food. They were responsible for getting over 1,000 heavy bombers ready for a raid. Their duties did not end after 30 odd trips but would continue month after month to the end of the war. They kept the Air Force in the air.
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!
Our friends at R.C.A.F. #4 SFTS are encouraging us to pass along the following reminder:
R.C.A.F. #4 SFTS Reunion
June 6-9, 1996
For more information, phone Pat Edgar at (306) 374-2205, fax C.A. Robson at (306) 664-4120 or write the association at RCAF #4 Reunion, 226 Candle Crescent, Saskatoon, Sask., S7K 5A4.
OUR SPECIAL THANKS TO A TALENTED ARTIST
A couple of years ago, we put an inquiry in CONTACT requesting photos of the base at Bowden, Alberta. One of those who replied was Brian Molloy of Wales. He indicated that he had a photo album that had a number of photos of different stations including Bowden, Carberry and others. He kindly loaned the albums to us and we were able to make several valued copies in our darkroom.
Brian's letters had a most interesting painting of a training aircraft over a Canadian base on each of the envelopes. A close examination of these paintings, each signed by him, indicated that the quality was such that if enlarged, they would make beautiful displays in the museum. We wrote Brian requesting permission to make laser copies for that purpose. He replied that if we were to display them, he would render full size paintings to assure the best of quality. His most generous donation of one 11" X 15" and four 8" X 10" paintings arrived soon after which have been framed and put on display in the main floor area.
Brian, naturally, reserves copyright privileges. Anyone wishing to commission a painting, may contact Brian through the museum.
Our special thanks are extended to Brian for so generously sharing his talents with us.
FOR THE MOMENTCopies of director Aaron Kim Johnston's movie tribute to young love and life in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan -- For The Moment -- are available on VHS videocassette for $25.00 (Cdn.) plus shipping C.O.D. by contacting the museum. For The Moment won best Canadian film honours at the 1994 Vancouver Film Festival and received 3 1/2 stars (out of 4) from the Brandon Sun movie critic.
What's the Gen?
spill the beans, to - to give information
spin, in a - go round in small circles
spot, to - to see
spot, a - a drink.
squadron vic - as a ``V'' formation; from the phonetic Morse pronunciation for the letter V.
For Harry Hayward, the CATP Museum has been a focal point in his life ever since a group of like- minded people gathered together in 1982 to discuss the concept of a museum.
When questioned about his motives for getting involved with the museum, he said, ``I've always been interested in aircraft... always... when I was up north, I did a lot of flying. So when the notice in the paper said that they were going to have this meeting,.. I said, ah-hah, I'm `gonna' go and see what happens... I joined right-up!''
``The first meeting, to decide if there were enough people in Brandon interested in the museum, was in the fall of 1980. It was decided that there was enough interest, so I became the membership chairman and mail-boy.'' Harry continues ``Then in the early summer of the next year, we went to see the mayor of the city of Brandon to see if we could use the part of the hangar.''
``So, now we had a place. We cleaned up the place and hauled in the five aircraft we had on loan from the Agnew family in the fall of '81. We had our official opening in July 1982.''
``I've been with the museum all the time from the very first meeting and I've done various things. Wherever there was something that needed to be done, I got involved.'' he said. ``I hold the title of Archivist. That basically means that I am responsible for keeping track of all the archive materials -- like uniforms, photographs and books,'' he said. ``If you can carry it with two hands, then I probably have to look after it. If it's something big, like an airplane and you can't carry it into the museum, then it's not archives.'' said Hayward.
``Also, I do the research -- we get quite a few requests in for Squadron Casualty Lists or casualty lists according to home town or to station. The (Memorial) `Book' is all on the computer, so it's really not all that hard to do -- (although) it can be time consuming.''
Although his work at the museum is his primary hobby, Harry approaches it with the seriousness of a full-time job. In addition to research and archival duties, he also performs many administrative functions.
``In the wintertime I'm up here seven days a week,.. probably an average of five hours a day... about 35 hours a week. In the summertime it's less because I really like to get out on the golf course and not work around the Museum. So, I have to come up a least once a week to do it and, of course, with the amount of mail we get, I have to clean out the mailbox.'' he said.
New volunteers are always made to feel welcome by Hayward. In fact, he is looking for assistance with a project especially close to his heart. For a computer-literate volunteer or someone willing to learn, Harry is willing to train them for what will be an interesting job with duties important to preserving archives.
``When we do get around to getting a new computer, which is well on the road to being accomplished, we'll be able to start putting our archives in the computer.''
As if this was not enough to keep the active retiree active, Hayward is also a member of the committee -- which includes Jim Greaves, Marlene Leonard and Archie Londry -- responsible for the second, 1,500 copy printing of the museum's memorial book ``They Shall Grow Not Old.'' ``I'm responsible to look after that -- to make sure it gets printed and with some help from some of the other members, when we get the orders in, package them up and mail them out.''
Harry and another museum member received recognition by peers for their fine work in compiling the book. ``It was co-authoured by a chap by the name of Les Allison from Roland, Manitoba.'' Hayward explains. ``It was his (Les') idea and because of my small knowledge of computers, I did the work on the computer and some of the research... not all that much. But between the two of us, we did the book and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Air Force Association of Canada which we received in October, 1994 at a meeting in Edmonton.''
``Basically it (the Memorial Book) is a book that contains 18,039 biographies of Canadian Air Force casualties of the Second World War. We got information from the Canadian Public Archives, books that were printed at the end of the war, the grave registers that we purchased from the War Graves Commission and information that Les had researched out in his first book about being in the RAF.'' He went on to add ``So, it literally came from all over. I know also that Canada's Weekly Gazette, I think it was called, which came out every week during the war, listed those missing and killed. Les has a copy of those and I know we went through those completely, so there's many, many sources.''
The scope of this project became evident when Hayward stated ``We worked for eight years and we figure we averaged about six hours a day every day for those eight years. Somebody once told me that was 50,000 hours... I don't know I never added it up.''
When asked of which of his projects he is most proud, Hayward's modest response shows his respect for fellow museum volunteers. He said ``I'm proud of the work that's been done here in its entirety.''
Hayward is no stranger to volunteer work. In addition to the museum work and activities already mentioned, he has a long record of other service including time as a cub leader, president of a minor ball association in Portage, president of the Greater Winnipeg Minor Ball Association, coach for women's fastball and hockey and involvement with an archery club in Thompson, Manitoba.
Hayward explains ``I moved around a lot with my job and anytime we moved into a town, we would, as soon as we got settled, try and get involved in some volunteer activity... community club or whatever.'' he explained, adding with a laugh ``Yep... I'm always sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong to see if I can help.''
It is Harry's involvement with baseball which yields one of his proudest, lifetime memories so far. During 1970 Centennial Celebrations in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Harry was asked to provide baseball-game commentary to, and answer any questions of a very special guest. For 15 minutes, Harry was the centre of H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth's world, as she was his. Harry's `mission' went without a hitch as the two chatted about baseball, Canadian life and other things for a quarter hour.
Harry gleefully recalls that upon exiting this sporting event, he exchanged a left-handed Boy Scout handshake with Prince Philip -- also a Boy Scout Leader -- who was sporting a sling on his right arm at that time.
Despite his great deal of work for the museum so far, Harry is far from being tired. He shares the ambitious vision of the museum's future held by other active members. ``Well, I'd obviously like to see it grow. I suppose the best thing to say is that we'd like to expand... we're out of room for aircraft, we have more aircraft we want to put in.''
``We're really strapped for room and that's where I'd like to see the museum go... is to be able to accommodate all this (six additional aircraft under restoration). If we can accommodate it in a period hangar, then great, that's the ideal. If we cannot, then do you know where we're going to get a couple of million dollars more, to build a hangar?''
The museum may be shy a few thousand dollars of a new hangar, but its future appears to secure and bright in the million-dollar hearts of volunteers like Harry Hayward.
CATPM WANT ADS
Even if your skills are not equal to the talented CATPM members currently restoring our aircraft and building displays, you can play an important role in the process by helping to locate scarce parts and money.
The pedestal Bollingbrook crew is looking for a number of parts of which Boly Mk IV engines, props and wings are at the top of the list.
Bringing the Tiger Moth back to flight status is nearing completion but funds are still short for this project. The wings need the application of fabric, doping and paint.
A pneumatic, paint spray-gun would be universally appreciated by the back-shop boys.
Our intrepid archive staff is looking for RCAF Battle Dress in any size or condition.
If anyone knows where any of the above items may be located, please let us know. Donations of these items and/or cash will be greatly appreciated. Charitable donation receipts will be issued where appropriate. Trades for surplus museum parts will be considered.
HEY BIG SPENDER...
SPEND A LITTLE CANADIAN TIRE CASH ON ME!
A rather painless and innovative way of helping in the restoration of aircraft and maintenance of the museum is through a program inspired by imaginative members of the Midwestern Rail Association, a group dedicated to the preservation and promotion of rail heritage, science and technology of Western Canada. They are using donated Canadian Tire Cash Bonus ``Money'' to purchase tools and materials for their Train Gallery.
Not to be left in the dust by a bunch of ground-ridden locomotive jockeys, we at the CATP museum are now accepting donations of Canadian Tire bonus cash to be used for the purchase of tools and materials. A mailbox has been set up in the aircraft restoration area for donations.
The Midwestern Rail Association can be contacted at: Box 1855, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 3R1 - Tel: (204) 942-4632.
Philippe Mertens had always wanted to be a pilot, but this was not to be. Instead, he devoted his free time to research material from World War Two concerning English, American and German Air Forces. His hobby has enabled him to amass a collection of over 1200 artifacts from the war years. He also became interested in locating crash sites of war planes, and consequently spent his free time pursuing his hobby in the Ardenne Mountains of Belgium, 140 kilometres from his home in Leuven.
On one occasion, he asked a woodcutter if he knew of any crash sites. This man brought him to a location near a little travelled road deep in a forest, and was told he would find aircraft parts in this location. Indeed, he did find several aluminium pieces of wreckage, and with the aid of a metal detector, found a RAF compass. This verified that he had found the wreckage of a British plane. Two months later, he unearthed a part of a watch near the road, bearing the serial number and name of one of the flight crew members...a F/O James Edward Traill, RCAF.
Mertens then contacted an associate in England who was able to track down details of the crash through the records department of the RAF Museum in London. John Reid, a Photo Librarian/Archivist came up with more pieces of the puzzle.
On the night of March 20/21, 1945, 161 Squadron dispatched eight Stirling and five Hudson aircraft on a special duties mission. The Hudsons were detailed to drop saboteurs behind enemy lines in Germany. Their intent was to disrupt road, rail and communication facilities.
The crash site that Mertens had found near Samree, Belgium was that of Hudson, serial number T 9445 NA-O of 161 Squadron based at Tempsford in Bedfordshire. Its mission was to drop a SOE agent behind enemy lines at a place called Remagen. The agent was to blow up railway lines at Betzdorf Wissen to halt the stream of German reinforcements and supplies heading to the front lines.
Unfortunately, the bag containing the explosives attached to the agent's leg, caught on the aircraft and was lost. The agent landed safely, but as he had no means of completing his task, was forced to abort the mission and returned successfully to his own lines.
The Hudson was on its return flight home when it is believed to have been intercepted by an American Black Widow night fighter. It is thought that the Americans were not advised of the Special Duties aircraft operating that night, and mistakenly took them for German night fighters. This was confirmed by American military archives in the state of Alabama in the United States who provided a Battle report of that night's operations. Three Hudsons were lost that night, one of them coming down in Luxembourg with only the pilot surviving. The other is believed to have been the Hudson that Mertens had located in the forest near Samree, Belgium.
From official sources, it was learned that the bodies of crew members of Hudson T 9445 were recovered and buried in Heverlee cemetery, 26 kilometres East of Brussels. They were identified as follows: F/Lt Richard Nicholas Ferris, RCAF, age 23, Pilot, Son of Samuel and Watfa Ferris and the husband of Lois Anne Ferris of Ottawa, Ont., Canada; W/O Gerald Hutton, RCAF Navigator, F/Lt Allan Frayne Penhale, RCAF W/OP-A/G, age 24, son of Asa and Venetta Penhale of Exeter, Ont., Canada; and F/O James Edward Traill, RCAF W/O, all killed in action March 21/45.
But the tenacious Philippe Mertens was not yet satisfied and wanted to establish contact with any surviving colleagues of the deceased flyers. He placed an ad in three English magazines. An elderly lady, who had been a chauffeur at Tempsford air base in Bedfordshire, responded by sending a copy of the operation sheet of the doomed flight with the notation," All killed".
Now Mertens wanted photographs of the flyers, so that he could better relive the last night of the crew. A John W. Smith replied to an ad placed in a Canadian magazine. He put Mertens on the track of living sisters of Flt/Lt. Penhale, through which Mertens established contact with Dwayne Rabe-Martin, a grandson of Penhale. The grandson wrote Mertens to advise that he had visited his grandfather's grave in Heverlee in 1989.
For Philippe Mertens, the mystery is now complete. His three years of research has cost him personally between 10 and 15 thousand francs. He has appealed to the administration of Samree as well as to the Canadian Embassy to have them underwrite the costs of erecting a monument to the flyers at the crash site. Neither one has volunteered to finance this undertaking, even though it could be done for 17 thousand francs.
Philippe Mertens is now intrigued by another mystery. He is on the track of an American B-17 that was shot down in the vicinity of Houffalize. And later, when he has more time, he vows to publish his findings in a book.
(Editor's Note: The value of a French Franc as of 95/03/05 is $0.28 Cdn.)
The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, Anchorage, Alaska, has been in correspondence with the CATPM. They wish to recognize the part played by the R.C.A.F. in the Aleutian Campaign. The Museum has forwarded them a R.C.A.F. ensign, pictures and other memorabilia.
We invite members to supply us with experiences, pictures etc., regarding involvement in that campaign. These will be copied and returned to the provider. We look forward to hearing from those who served in the Aleutian Campaign.
From the December 1944 issue of Mountain Viewpoint, monthly newspaper of the Mountain View, Ontario RCAF Station: P/O O'Malley has a new modification to embody Lysanders. He suggests a wheel for each wing tip, as he successfully landed one on one wheel and one wing tip in a cross wind not so long ago.
WELCOME TO THE COMMONWEALTH AIR TRAINING PLAN MUSEUM
Thousands of people, including many of our 900 members, tour the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum every year. With our membership list stretching from Hong Kong to Great Britain and all points between, many of our members have never been through the museum while others have not been through to see changes and additions to exhibits that have occurred over the past few years. In response to numerous requests from readers, we present a brief overview of the hangars and hallways on the CATPM tour. In upcoming issues of CONTACT, we will feature various areas at the museum with additional pictures and commentary.
TOP LEFT - The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum located at the Brandon Airport (McGill Field), 1/2 mile north of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada on Manitoba #10 Highway.
TOP RIGHT - A view of the Hangar from the second-level of the Archive Display area. Aircraft clockwise from the bottom centre - Cornell, Bollingbrook, Lysander, Stearman (with Norseman, Twin Beech and Hurricane obscured behind), Cessna Crane (left engine only) and Stinson. This area also displays the museum's ground transport vehicles and other aircraft.
BOTTOM LEFT - A view of the front of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Chapel with pews in the foreground and stained-glass windows on the wall framing Winston Churchill's famous ``Never has so much...'' speech and the memorial book case. Between the flags, is a copy of the memorial book ``They Shall Grow Not Old'' under glass.
BOTTOM RIGHT - The museum's main restoration area with a view of the Bollingbrook (foreground) being prepared for pedestal display and the Mark I Avro Anson (behind Boly) being restored for static display. Other work (not seen in the photo) includes restoration of the `pranged' Tiger Moth wing and fabrication of new wings for the Hurricane.
End of CONTACT Volume 13 Number 2 April 1996
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