THE VETERAN ON OUR TEN DOLLAR BILL
If you have a Canadian $10 bill, look at the back right side of the
At the age of 80 he wrote a book about his experiences and on his
retirement he and his wife moved to Ottawa. One day out of the blue he
received a call from a government official asking him to go downtown for
a photo op. He wasn't told what the photo was for or why they chose him.
You will see an old veteran standing at attention near the Ottawa
His name is Robert Metcalfe and he died last month at the age of
90. That he managed to live to that age is rather remarkable, given what
happened in the Second World War.
Born in England, he one of the 400,000 members of the British Expeditionary
Force sent to the mainland where they found themselves facing the new German
warfare technique - the Blitzkrieg.
He was treating a wounded comrade when he was hit in the legs by
shrapnel. Enroute to hospital, his ambulance came under fire from a German
tank, which then miraculously ceased fire.
Evacuated from Dunkirk on HMS Grenade, two of the sister ships with
them were sunk.
Recovered, he was sent to allied campaigns in north Africa and Italy.
Enroute his ship was chased by the German battleship Bismarck.
In North Africa he served under General Montgomery against the Desert
Sent into the Italian campaign, he met his future wife, a lieutenant
and physiotherapist in a Canadian hospital.
They were married in the morning by the mayor of the Italian town,
and again in the afternoon by a British padre.
After the war they settled in Chatham where he went into politics and became
the warden (chairman) of the county.
"He had no idea he would be on the bill," his daughter said.
And now you know the rest of the story of the old veteran on the $10
I have read, with great interest, of the 55,000 aircrew of Bomber
Command that lost their lives. What is not stated is that they were all
volunteers, and I wish to tell two stories of volunteers – one very slight
story – and the other of a very brave man whose name I cannot recall, in
the hopes that somebody can tell me his name.
There is of the old adage, “never volunteer” but the stories of
World War II volunteers were legendry. Midget Submariners, Paratroopers,
Glider Pilots, Aircrews (including the Americans) etc.
Because of my age I only just made it by volunteering for navigator
training – did my training in St. John’s PQ and volunteered to go to 5
OTU near Vancouver. It was there that I met the other “volunteer”. He had
done three tours over Germany, including Pathfinder, as an observer – he
wanted to continue and was refused – so volunteered to retrain as a pilot.
He arrived at 5 OTU, I believe a Wing Commander, D.S.O., D.F.C., &
Bar. He treated all us younger men with respect and as equals, but was
tragically killed while taxing his Liberator by another Liberator which
tried to take off down the taxi strip. All of both crews died.
We, as a crew volunteered to go to the Far East and flew a brand new
Liberator from Montreal 5 August 1945 via Goose Bay, Gander, Lagens Azores,
Rabat French Morocco, Castel Benito Tripoli, Lydda Palestine, Shaiba Iraq,
Karachi, Alahabad to Salbani Bengal the home of 355 and 356 Squadrons.
25 August 1945 we parked the aircraft and waited in a hut for further orders
expecting to go for survival training. We were informed that 355 Squadron
had polio in the Officers Mess and if we walked in we would be quarantined
and would go straight on ops. We "volunteered" and were taken on strength
29 August 1945. We did a milk run screened by F/O Crawford's experienced
crew. The Japanese surrendered and 2 September 1945, again with Crawford’s
crew, in our new Liberator, we set off to drop sullies to a POW camp on
the Burma railway, Thakeh on the Mekong River. Unfortunately, although
we found the town square, a boy scout in full uniform using signal flags
to give us a message the hills where the camp was situated were blanketed
in low cloud. I still believe we should have dropped our supplies, plus
many personally made up packages, on the square – but I suppose we hoped
that we could return another day. So we turned round and set off back to
Salbani. Unfortunately, our Liberator and its Pratt and Whitney motors
had been built by Ford Motors and nobody had thought of doing a fuel consumption
check – and we did spend some time circling trying to find the POW camp
– although we had extra fuel tanks in the bomb bay, after 13 hours we were
nearly out of fuel and had to bail out, landing in Sunderbuns, the Ganges
Delta at night. Mangrove swamps and tigers. It took three days to get out,
we were reported “missing in action” (our parents got the “dreaded telegram”)
we got the Burma Star (the last day it was awarded).
My “volunteer” story does not finish there. 16 September 1945 our crew
F/O Tom Blackburn, skipper, were given the job of flying from Salbani to
drop supplies on the aerodrome at Saigon – again for POWs. Off we went,
not briefed on a tropical front – 8 hours there and using one line of Loran
and MPPs - the last 3 ½ hours in the inter tropical front often
climbing at 1000 feet per minute, faster than we could fly level, the clouds
cleared and there were the signal masts of Saigon aerodrome . We
dropped supplies on the runways and watched to POWs in trucks pick them
up, and turned for home and back into the front. Another 3 ½ hours
flying in cloud and darkness, no radio because of the rain, and the prospect
of landing on a jungle strip at night in cloud. We let down over the sea,
headed for the coast north of Rangoon, turned south and followed the coast
to the river mouth leading to Rangoon. We had marked on the map a race
course with a landing strip and hoped that if we fired our Very lights
they would light up the strip-. They saw our lights but did not light up
so we headed back to the coast and decided to land on flat ground near
the coast - and with landing lights on Tom set us down on paddy field.
The next day a Beaufighter found us and dropped supplies and told us to
head for the coast where a Sunderland flying boat, at great risk, landed
on the sea and flew us to their base on the river near Rangoon. We saw
the Golden Pagoda towering above the city – and we had been circling below
Well, there are the two stories of volunteers. One who did so much until
eventually his luck ran out – and our crew who had such a short, exciting
and lucky career –and lived to return to civilian life, marriage, and families
-- and in my case, at 79 still enjoying life to the full. But I can assure
you, I’m ever mindful of the 55,000 volunteers who never had the opportunity.
Donald H. Lamb,
Bomber Command Newsletter Spring 2005
Correspondence/ Search Pattern
I’m hoping you can help me or point me to somewhere that can.
My grandfather transferred from 16 squadron at Melbourne East Yorks to
35 Squadron Pathfinders stationed at Graveney. His name was Charles
Pattison and he was a sergeant Air Gunner with the RAF volunteer reserves.
His service number was 632331 (I found this from the war graves commission
site). He had a good friend and fellow 35 squadron member called
Harl Espy who was an American who joined voluntarily with the Eagles.
Harl Espy became my father’s godfather when he was born and my father’s
middle name is Harl. They were killed when they were shot down on
their first mission on 27/3/1943. I now have a son who is also called
Harl after the American airman. I started by trying to trace surviving
members of Harl Espy’s family in America so that I could contact them but
haven’t had much luck. I am now looking for the story of what happened
on that mission and a photo of them with their crew – which no one in my
family has – or anyone surviving who remembers them.
I would be grateful for any help you can give me that will help me find
out something about my grandfather and his friend Harl.
ATTENTION 159 Squadron Members
Whilst searching for information on my fathers unit in the hope
of finding some of his war time buddies I came across this article. In
the last paragraph Murray asks if any one has a record of a longer flight,
well I think my dad does. He was second pilot in a liberator in 159
Squadron in Digri. His log book records
Lib EV968 September 12.1944
First Pilot w/o Quaife (Quaifes Quavers)
Ops as ordered. Victoria point on Fakchan River. mining (4x1000) ack
ack from rivercraft and aerodrome. 3 Jap seaplanes at mooring No1.
Flight time 15.15 hrs
He had a Canadian called Peachy Day who was a gunner in his plane and
my dad is Robert (Bob) Power. (85 this year)
He asked if Murray remembers Quaifes Quavers?
I wonder if you would be so good as to pass this on.
Another Request from the UK.
I have recently discovered the site for the CATP and the Ex-Air Gunners
'Short Bursts' and was wondering if you could help me.
My late father,
Ronald Courtney Stickland, from Catford in South London, was in Canada
during the war and we have found the attached photograph (not in very good
condition I'm afraid). His sisters believe it was taken while he
was in Canada. We know nothing about his time there, in fact
he never talked about his war experiences at all and we are finding out
bits and pieces all the time. We have a photograph of him taken in
1940 and he was wearing the AG badge but when he married my mother in 1944
it wasn't on his uniform.
Would it be possible to see if somebody recognizes anyone in the photograph?
If not, could you point me in the right direction.
As far as we can work out Dad was with the 21 Squadron Coastal Command
in 1940, he was only 17 (he fibbed on his enlistment stating he was born
in 1921 not 1922 as he was) so it seems awfully young for him to have been
an Air Gunner. He was in Canada with the 35 SFTS and 2 EFTS
in 1941. I believe he was at Thunder Bay at one time as he did mention
Dad is the one toward the front with one hand on the gentleman's shoulder.
Enclosing the photo taken in 1940.
Thanks for your assistance
Brenda’s Dad with hand on shoulder of chap in front.
Since our last exchange of e-mails in April, I’ve received another kind
and helpful letter from Don Macfie concerning Mark II ASV ‘Stickleback’
radar. He remains convinced that a good operator could use the radar for
navigational purposes, not only picking up beacons that flashed a call
sign in Morse code, but also identifying features such as headlands, which
Don believes would have stuck out on the screen. He suggests that I should
put a further request in SHORT BURSTS for an ex-operator trained at the
Prestwick Radar School. Don also points out that many Wellington Coastal
squadrons were fitted with ‘Stickleback’ radar, so there must still be
quite a few operators around!
Would it, therefore, be possible to insert a notice along the following
lines in the next issue?
THE CRASH OF SUNDERAND W4026 ON 25 AUGUST
1942 & THE DUKE OF KENT
In the May 2005 issue of SHORT BURSTS we mentioned that a retired British
lawyer was seeking information about the loss in northern Scotland of the
Oban-based Sunderland in which the Duke of Kent was killed. At that time
RCAF 423 ‘Eagle’ Squadron was based at Oban.
Flying parallel to the coast in cloud, W4026, which was fitted with
ASV Mark II ‘Stickleback’ radar, drifted inland and crashed into a hillside
at 650 feet.
Don Macfie has pointed out that a good operator of ‘Stickleback’ radar
– such as one trained at the Prestwick Radar School near Glasgow –
could pick up not only beacons that flashed Morse code call signs, but
also features such as headlands.
If any reader has any information concerning the navigational use of
‘Stickleback’ radar or any information concerning the crash of W4026, please
contact Glyn M. Gowans at the following address:
S’Hort d’ en Pau,
Cami d’es Clot de’s Pou 6163,
07669 S’Horta, Mallorca, Baleares
Tel +971 16 20 49 Fax +971 83 90 05
J-96289 Kenneth WIDEMAN
He was from my hometown Arcadia, CA in the USA before he went to Canada
and joined the RCAF. Mr. Wideman was an Air Gunner during WWII. He enlisted
25 July 1942 and was discharged 25 October 1945. To look at a picture of
him and some of his decorations go to
go to the WWII Registry
then go to
and put in Wideman in the last name slot and put K or Kenneth in the
and than click on Kenneth Wideman.
Is or was he a member of the EX-Air Gunner Association?
Bill Hillman, our web master, forwarded me, Editor of Short Bursts,
your letter re Kenneth Wideman.
I looked up his picture on the net but it gives little information.
Would you please tell us the Squadron to which he was attached. Did
he complete his tour (30 to 35 Ops if he was in Bomber Command, or 800
operational hours in Coastal Command? What is, or was, your relationship
Kenneth should have more decorations than those listed.
Any information you have on Kenneth would be appreciated. No, he was
not a member of the Ex-Air Gunner's Association of Canada, but he manned
a turret, which makes him one of ours. We were truly A BAND OF BROTHERS.
I do not know what Squadron he was attached to and I do not know if
he competed his tour. As far as know he is not related to me he was just
from my hometown. From the picture could you tell what the decorations
he had were (being that it is black and white)? Tip, if go back his picture,
highlight it and push enter, it should enlarge the picture. Unfortunately
what I already gave you is all I have.
Our Volunteer Web Master, Bill Hillman, has put together some wonderful
pictures of the Brandon, Manitoba, Westman Air Show June 11/12, 2005, with
hundreds of photos of the Snowbirds, displays, and aerial acts.
Great show. Thanks Bill.
Letter from Ron Bramley, Editor of RAF Air Gunner’s Newsletter
Great to keep hearing from you. Will be using the Tee Emm in
next Turret.......Took me right back.....had to confer with fellow W/op
to clue up my Q code!!
Still not got the Standard back from Andy Colvin, despite personal and
Branch letters. London Branch have said, ‘nothing to do with them,
write direct to Andy’. Must have it for Air Gunners Day July 7th. as it
is a memorial Service for Fred Stead as well, this year. A letter from
Canada might help. Address:
131 Ambleside Drive,
Southend on Sea SS1 2UW UK.
He is not on e mail. Does not subscribe to the Self financing
Turret, but is still Hon. Sec.,of London Branch, who now have a web site,
unconnected with our Web Site at Elvington.
Have an idea you are on a long vacation? If you do make contact
with Andy...... we are only concerned with the return of the National Standard
to members........... not the final laying up. I seem to remember
that you heard of this about a year ago, and offered help, but then it
did not appear to be necessary.
Spring Turret is late....... my fault, had a fall and irreparably
damaged left shoulder.... no more Golf (very serious)
(Ed. If you want to ‘eye-ball’ Bram (with two good shoulders,) go to
Short Bursts Page August 2003. http://www.airmuseum.ca/mag/exag0308.html
Don Macfie writes:
These 7 pictures of nose and nacelle art came to me from a cottager
close by. He took these pictures while he was an armourer on 424 and 433
Squadrons at Skipton-on-Swale. If you used them in Short Bursts month to
month, someone out there might recognize their own “kite” and send you
a story about it.
(Ed. Will do Don, thanks, here is the first one.)
Murray Kalmovich – Armourer, 424 & 433 Squadron
6 Ivan Ave. Grimsby, Ont.
If any reader has a story about this a/c, please send it to the Editor.
Progress Report #7 - Recovery
of Halifax LW170
Some interesting happenings for the Halifax Project the past few weeks
which are like "2 steps forward - one step back".
In early May a contact in Houston passed on to me info that his
company Fugro, a deep sea exploration leader in the field, was going to
do a deep sea sonar job (in the area of Halifax LW170) for a major oil
company. I immediately contacted Fugro Aberdeen , Scotland and in turn,
the Oil company to lobby for them to include a sonar survey of the location
of LW170 after they finished their scientific work nearby. Both companies
were positive in their response to my proposal. The oil company was willing
to offer resources and Fugro agreed to use their highest technology, the
"HUGIN" underwater sonar submarine, to survey the location of LW170. Fugro's
technology is so advanced that they can do in 3 days (with more accuracy)
what would take the other companies 6 days. Fugro are not cheap, twice
the daily rate of others, but they decided that this project was historic
and have quoted us a 50% reduction in daily rates to do the sonar survey
for LW170. So the cost will be the same but with more accuracy.
These are the 2 steps forward. The one step back was that as the oil
company job schedule was delayed a week, and we have lost our Halifax
survey window with Fugro NOW. But they have said they will still offer
us the lowest rate they can when they are ready to go thru or near LW170's
location this summer. Therefore, with this step-forward of teeing
up Fugro's high tech talents for the immediate future ( for a wholesale
price) we have made progress. We are now promised
and are certain of the best tools available for LW170. The funding
is the only and last hurdle remaining.
I am hopeful that the American will be of help as so many of their boys
were in the RCAF, as I have told them. We have a core group of supporters
in Richmond, Virginia who are influential and powerful. These people are
determined to help us find the funding to locate and recover the Halifax.
I will be meeting with them soon in Rcihmond. Also, thru the Canadian Embassy
in Washington I have made an official request to the U.S. Navy to access
their databases and underwater technology resources to help us find LW170
in our sonar survey area. Hopefully our American brothers and sisters will
be able to help us in our quest as their sons helped us some 60 years ago
in the RCAF in winning Victory and Freedom.
We still have not been able to find a corporate, government, or philanthropic
sponsor for the $150,000 cost of the Halifax sonar survey ( I still have
some hair left - sorry Bob - after many refusals and rejections and
I will continue to find a good sponsor!). The legal costs for Halifax 57
Rescue (Canada) to become a Registered Charity have now been paid in full
with the donations from our membership fees and donations to the Halifax
Project. Funding is still required if we are keep up our efforts to promote
the Halifax Project and find a good sponsor.
I have been very busy with 2 months of training with Air Canada and
have not had the time to apply myself to other activities beyond what I
have reported today.
I apologize for the slow progress of the Project but it is progress.
In 1944, did our fathers and grandfathers know that Victory was only a
year away in 1945? The only guarantee they gave was they would do their
best and never give up. It is wise to emulate them.
Press on Regardless...
Best wishes to you all,
Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada)
P.S. Have included a photo of NA337 from March/05. The Official dedication
ceremony of Canada's first (but not last) Halifax will be November
Only the Stars Know
Just thought I would let you know that I have a copy of the second printing
of "Only the Stars Know." I was given it by my father "W.G. Harrison" on
May 31 1945. He was a flight officer in the RCAF. His brother, Jim Harrison,
was killed in a bomber landing in England shortly before.
Dear Mr. Moyles,
On 7 May of
this year, 828 "Hurricane" Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Cadets, with the
assistance of 819, 861 and 907 Squadrons, unveiled and consecrated a new
cenotaph at Boundary Bay Airport, the former RCAF Station Boundary
Lt. Col Michel Brisebois, the current Commanding Officer of 442 Transport
and Rescue Squadron, attended as Guest of Honour, to assist in the unveiling.
As you're likely aware, #14 (Fighter) Squadron, which was based at Boundary
Bay in late 1943, was renumbered 442 Squadron on departing for the
I was able to speak with several veterans who flew from Boundary Bay
during the war, two with #18 EFTS, and one who flew P-40's with the Fighter
Affiliation Flight at #5 OTU.
I thought that you might be interested in a few photos of the cenotaph
J.M. (Jason) White
Special Projects Officer
828 "Hurricane" Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron
If anyone can name these handsome chaps, please
information to the Editor and we will rerun the photo
5 OTU Reunion Association will be visiting Boundry Bay and Abbotsford.
A group of 5 OTU vet's from the UK, will be visiting Boundary Bay on Sept
6, and Abbotsford on Sept 8. If you live in the area make a point of welcoming
TRAQUAIR, Robert John, #0440, EDMONTON,
Bob passed away in Edmonton on July 01, 2005 at age 80. Joined
the RCAF Nov. 10/42 in Winnipeg, MB as R205150. #2 Manning Depot
at Brandon, where he was selected for Gunery Training. He graduated
as an Air Gunner from #3 B&G MacDonald, MB. Attended #12 OTU,
Edgehill and #1652 HCU at Feltwell in the United Kingdom, where he completed
a tour of operations with #90 RAF Squadron at Tuddenham, a unit in 3 Group.
BIGGS, David G. #0484, CALGARY, AB:
Dave passed away on Monday, June 27th 2005 at the age of 87 years.
He attended #3 Manning Depot at Brandon, MB where he was selected for Wireless
Air Gunner training, taking Wireless at #2 W/S in Calgary and his Gunnery
training at #4 B&G in Fingal, ON where, upon graduation, he was presented
with his WAG Brevet. Following Operational Training at Debert, NS
he arrived in the United Kingdom January 7, 1942 where he completed further
training at Invergordon, Scotland from where he was posted to Africa November
30/42. On December 11th he arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone and
#270 Squadron in Coastal Command, flying Catalina Flying Boats. From
July 23/42 Dave and his crew were stationed at Lagos, Nigeria from where,
on September 4th, 1943, they completed their 'tour of Ops' of over 800
hours. On Sept. 10/43, they were assigend to an Air Communication
Flight, or, as Dave described it, 'a Taxi Service for Big Shots'.
They were assigned to General Bruce and his ADC and Mr. Granthom, the Governor
General of Nigeria. In December '43, they left to return to the UK
where, in January '44 he became an Instructor at 131 OTU at Killareas (sic)
N. Ireland and in October of the same year was posted to #12, FIS, in St.
Angelo, N. Ireland in the same capacity.
On December 30th, 1944 he was assigned, 'HOME' -------
FOSTER, Robert, Member #0049, Markam, ON:
Bob passed away October 29th, 2004. He was a longtime member
of the Southern Ontario Chapter of our Air Gunner's Association.
Upon completion of High School, Bob enlisted in the RCAF in 1942 - R199287,
graduating from #9 B/G, Mont Joli, PQ with his Air Gunner Brevet.
Overseas he attended OTU at Leighton Buzzard, in Bucshire. Served
on operations with Nos. 75, 142, and 37 (RAF) in India, North Africa and
Italy. Crashed on Base, Sansevero, Italy after enemy action.
Bob was the only survivor. Invalided home, arriving VE Day Europe
in Toronto. Discharged June 8th, 1945. In civvie street, Bob
became President of Foster Motors in Agincourt, Ontario and, as a hobby
(if I am not mistaken), sang in choirs.
GALLAGHER, James, Patrick, Member #0362, Willowdale, ON:
'Pat' enlisted as R270013 and was posted to Lachine, PQ for Manning
Depot where is was selected for Gunnery Training. He received his
Half-Wing at #9 Bombing & Gunnery School at Mont Joli, PQ on April
7th, 1944 Overseas he served with RAF Group 231 on Nos. 159 and 356
Squadrons in Digri and Salboi, India as a Nose Gunner on B24 Liberators.
He was discharged as a Warrant Officer, 2nd Class and eventually became
a member of the Burma Star and RCAF Associations.
As a Post Script, may we add, that we are very
pleased to hear from the Southern Ontario Chapter of our National Association.
There has been a disconnect with many former members since the Association
disbanded as a National Organization at our final 'Reunion' in 2000.
We would be very pleased to receive communications from individuals who
are, or have been, keeping in contact through our Internet Webpage.
Since there is no way of telling who are looking into the site and printing
off copies of the very interesting 'Newsletter' being put together by John
Moyles on a continuing basis, it would be heartening to hear from former
members who are doing so.
In addition to former members, we do know that
there is much interest in the site by many folks seeking information about
the relatives who served in various capacities in the RCAF during the war,
or are otherwise just interested in wartime memories. Not surprisingly,
there were many veterans who chose not to discuss with their familes this
portion of their lives, and now those family members are older and very
much interested in knowing where and in what capacity their relatives served.
There is 'No Charge' for accessing the Web Page,
and the address is:
Regular Mail, or contact by phone, can be made
to JOHN MOYES (address and phone number below)
or CHARLIE YULE: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to all who supplied material for this Newsletter.
We hope you are enjoying the Summer months. I have been busy carving
walking sticks, trying to keep up with family orders. Doreene keeps busy
looking after the both of us. I was cleaning a paintbrush on the lawn and,
losing my balance, spilled some paint thinner. The chap who looks after
the grounds wanted to know why there was a patch of dead grass by our patio.
I told him that it must be that damn Saskatchewan Gopher with the bladder
problem. He didn’t dispute the fact.
Read the Correspondence/ Search Pattern letters carefully, you just
might be able to help. Remember, there are a thousand stories out there,
lets capture them before it is too late.
Note that Bill Milne is the Secretary of the Southern Ontario Group.
Bill’s address is: 392 St. Clements Ave.,
Bill replaces Bill Cockburn “Piper Bill”.
I spent 15 days of August in hospital recovering from surgery. My 82
year old plumbing system needed repair. Fortunately, the efficient medical
staff signed me out for a few more Ops.
We will see you in October.
Doreene & John Moyles