Cassidy enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1942 he had no idea that a twist
of destiny would have him face the enemy from above. He would be where
he had wanted to be since the beginning – in the air. All the time.
Extensive Army training gave him a knowledge of guns that he would later
appreciate as a n RCAF Tail Gunner. After getting his AG Wing at Mont Joli,
he was assigned to 420 (Snowy Owl ) Squadron, based in Yorkshire, England.
That is where Flt. Sgt. “Cas” Cassidy met the “Brothers” he would never
forget. Pilot Doug Watterson from Windsor, Ont., was one of them. Doug
Watterson married only a few weeks before that fatal night of April 24,
1944. After reaching their target over Karlsruhe, their Halifax 111 bomber’s
nose was cut off by a Lancaster, causing the aircraft to lose significant
altitude. They were then attacked by a German night fighter, which blasted
the two starboard engines. The Skipper ordered the crew to bail out. Only
two of the seven crew made it out alive.
Michael hit the ground just before the aircraft burst into flames on
impact a few fields away. Ray Tanner, the Mid-Upper Gunner from Stirling,
Ont., was the other survivor. Michael then began a three-day gruelling
escape bid through the barren Dutch country side, full of irrigation ditches
with no place to hide. “If I am captured or killed, I would have lived
so many days longer than they did,” he would think of his crew.
He was captured and sent by box car to the PoW Camp in Heydekrug, East
Prussia. He was transferred to other Stalags as Russians began moving further
West. He later joked, “The Fuhrer was my inn-keeper.” While a PoW he kept
a diary in which he wrote, “a fine tribute should be paid to these men
who gave their lives for their Country. They were gentlemen and skilled
airmen. Their lives shall not be in vain.”
Severely malnourished and in dire health, Michael was liberated on 1945
by the Desert Rats. The loss of his crew shaped his life, cementing feelings
of fair play and esprit de corps. He always paid tribute to those men.
Following the war, Michael became a free-lance entrepreneur dealing
in divers ventures, food franchises, 6-electrode spark plugs, but he never
strayed far from his first love, Journalism and the Media. In 1976 Michael
took the bold gamble, placed many of his marketing projects on the back
burner, and formed his own national news media magazine PRESS REVIEW. It
was a labour of love ant took him to wherever the media gathered to cover
news or discuss news coverage.
But Michael never forgot his crewmates resting in Dutch soil near the
Village of Zuilichem, Holland. Like so many others crews who flew together
during the war, they were truly a ‘Band of Brothers’. Michael’s request
was that he should be returned to Zuilichem and laid to rest alongside
his fellow crewmen.
Michael Cassidy was laid to rest with glowing honours on May 4, 2005,
a day set aside by the beautiful Dutch Village of Zuilichem to commemorate
WWII heroes. Over 100 area residents attended the funeral.
Burial party folding Canadian flag
Veterans Affairs Canada worked closely with the Department of National
Defence and Linda van Rappard, of the Cabinet of the Zaltbommel Mayor,
in organizing the moving and lovely ceremony. The Municipality of Zaltbommel
donated Michael’s tombstone.
Short Bursts wishes to acknowledge and thank the staff of PRESS REVIEW
for sending us the Spring/Summer 2005 Edition from which the Michael Cassidy
story was obtained.
AVRO LANCASTER by Ted Hackett
This is intended to be an account of the Post War use of the Lancaster
however, a short history of the aircraft is in order.
In September 1936, the Air Ministry issued Specifications P13/36 for
a twin engine bomber for use in the RAF. The A. V. Roe Company submitted
plans for type 679, the Manchester, while Handly-Page submitted Plan for
HP56. The latter became HP57, the Lancaster aircraft familiar to many 6
The maiden flight of the Manchester was July 25, 1939, and in January,
1940, 1200 had been ordered powered by the Rolls Royce Vulture. Only 158
of the original order had been delivered before production of the Vulture
engine was discontinued, one of the few Rolls Royce failures. The chief
designer of the A.V. Roe, Roy Chadwick, had plans to rebuild the aircraft
as the Manchester Mk III with four Rolls Royce Merlin engine. The particular
engines used had been designed for the Beaufighter MkV.
The Prototype BT308 was first flown on January 09, 1941. This aircraft
was still known as the Manchester III but the Clearance Certificate showed
the name as Lancaster. The aircraft was renamed Lancaster by Roy Chadwick
as a tribute to the capital of Lancashire and the name was approved in
January, 1941, and that, of course, was the name by which it was known
throughout the life of the aircraft.
The first operational sortie carried out by the Lancaster was a mine
laying operation in Heligoland Bight by aircraft of 44 Squadron on March
03, 1942. The last raids of the war were carried out on April 25, 1945,
when 482 aircraft, including some from 6 Group, bombed the coastal gun
batteries on Wangerooge, one of the Friscan Islands. A simultaneous raid
was carried out on Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” at Berchtesgaden in Germany.
A total of four aircraft were lost, two on each target.
The total HE tonnage dropped on primary targets was 608,612 tons. The
number of incendiaries dropped was 51,513,106. A total of 36 Lancasters
flew 100 or more operational sorties during the war. The aircraft with
the greatest total wa ED888, it complete 140 sorties with 103 Squadron
(UL*V/UL*M) and 576 Squadron (PM*M). By the end of the war Bomber Command
would have 57 Lancaster Squadrons.
The Lancaster was flown by a number of countries but this account will
deal with those aircraft flown in Canada and for the most part, by the
RCAF. The Lancaster Mk X with Packard Merlin engines was build by Victory
Aircraft in Toronto, Ontario, a total of 430 being produced before the
end of the war. The first of the type to arrive in the UK was KB700 which
flew on August 06, 1943, and was supplied to 405 Squadron for operational
assessment. The first unit to become operational with the MK X was 419
This aircraft was employed by Maritime Command for patrols of the East
Coast of Canada. It differed little from the original aircraft except for
the removal of the mid-upper turret and the guns.
The Lancaster Mk X MR (Maritime Reconnaissance)
Lancaster MKX 0
This aircraft was used as a test bed for the Orenda jet engine,
the jet engines replacing the two outer piston engines. The Orenda engine
was later installed in the Canadair F-86 Sabre and the AVRO CF-100.
Nine aircraft, FM 120; 122; 199; 207; 212; 214; 215; 217; 218, were
modified for photographic survey and reconnaissance. The turrets were removed
and space flared over as can be seen in the photograph of the aircraft.
The aircraft was fitted with four camera ports immediately behind the bomb
bay for vertical and tri-megtregon cameras operated by the Camera Operator.
The long range fuel tank was installed in the former bomb bay. The aircraft
was capable of flights of long duration.
Lancaster MKX P)
Lancaster MKX AR (Area Reconnaissance)
Three aircraft, KB882; 839; 976, were modified in the late 1950s as
MKX Area Reconnaissance aircraft. They were extensively modified with the
lengthened nose and additional radar and camera equipment including a camera
in the nose that was operated by the Pilot. The crew positions were much
more comfortable, particularly the Camera Operator’s position.
Lancaster MK X AR
The civilian designation given to six aircraft for Trans-Canada
Airlines, FM184; 185; 186; 187, being among that number. The aircraft
had additional fairing of the nose and tail, windows in the fuselage and
long range fuel tanks. The photograph shows the Lancaster “Aries” used
by the Empire Air Navigational School for long range flights to solve the
problems of overseas navigation.
Lancaster MkX DC
The Lancaster MkX DC was used to to carry and launch, the Ryan
Firebee drone over the Primrose Lake Range at RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta.
Lancaster MK X DC
Line up of aircraft of 408(P)Squadron at Goose Bay,
Labrador probably in 1956.
The aircraft shown are Lancaster MkX P, C47 Dakota
and PBY5-A Canso.
The C47 was on loan from 412 Squadron and fitted out
for Profile Recording and Photography
Inside view of the lanc:
This slide show takes the viewer inside the Wartime
Lanc showing crew positions.
Sources of information: Lancaster, the Story of a Famous Bomber – by
Bruce Robertson. AVRO Lancaster – by Harry Holms.
Just finished watching some of the old movie the Dambusters, what a
difference computers would have made in some of the scenes particularly
the explosion at the dam sites. When I was with 408 in Rockcliffe
I flew a couple of times with S/L Ken Brown who, as a Flight Sergeant,
flew on the raid. I met him a couple of times at Nanton and we had
some nice talks, he was a nice gentleman.
Dear Members and Supporters,
Progress Report No. 8 is out and can be read and copied at our official
Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada)
Pat and John O’Buck from Plains, Montana, travelled to Red Deer
Alberta and stopped at the Nanton Lancaster Museum, Nanton,
Alberta. The following are some of Pat’s pictures and comments
Made a stop today en route home. Wow! I can't believe the
difference since we stopped about five years ago. It is an honest
to goodness museum now.
The wall is great. Can't make tracings of the names though because
they were done w/laser and not engraved. I found the names of the
brothers of my two friends; one on one side of the wall and the second
on the other. Hope my camera shows them.
As you can see by the picture, the names photograph well. My friend's
brother was William Harold Howson. Can't avoid some flash because
the granite is so shiny.
Lawn seats being
donated to the Nanton Lancaster Museum by the Northern Alberta Branch of
the Air Gunner’s Association.
I think these pics will give you some idea of what the seats will look
like. Certainly, they are not meant for a crowd.
It is my guess that the two slabs of cement with the fancy edges will
sit on the fancy cement work blocks. The count is right; two slabs
for seats and four ends.
There has been a lot of work done to provide walkways and the work is
still in progress.
The subject web site may be of interest to you.
(ED. This is one of the best sites I have seen. It lists Squadron
In the April
2003 Newsletter we reviewed George Olson’s book, No Place to Hide
a collection of wartime poems
George wrote during his tour of operations from 1943 to 1945.
With each poem is a write up of the Operational flight that gave birth
to the poem. Copies of his log book are also included. Excellent book.
No Place to Hide 123 pages –
5 ½ x 8 ¼ Soft cover. Six illustrations
ISBN 0-9687220-0-8 ~ Price - $10.00 Can.
LORAL FAMILY GROUP
P.O. Box 4810
Edmonton, AB T6E 5G6
Year Of The Veterans
Year 2005 as ‘ Year Of The Veteran’ has been designated
To Canada’s veterans, this year of 2005 has been dedicated
With patriotism and valor, the Canadian veterans served
So recognition of their loyal service has long been deserved
When our freedom was in jeopardy, for our liberty they fought
courageous efforts, our present freedom was bought
The veterans did not battle for glory, or to gain personal fame
Now for their service they are receiving some deserved acclaim
From cities and towns, from villages, ranches and farms
young men and women, responded to the call to arms
Winning the war against all oppressors, now was their goal
In the Navy, Army, Air Force and Merchant
Marine they’d enroll
On the oceans, the land and in the air, they battled the foe
Many were the adversities
and tribulations, they would undergo
Several prime years in their country’s armed forces were spent
To reward meritorious service, this
Year Of The Veterans is meant
That Canadians do live in freedom, to the veterans is owed
A legacy of precious liberty, is what they have on us bestowed
To these veterans who valorously served, is owed a great debt
The Year Of The Veteran is to
indicate, Canada will never forget
September 5, 2005
Lysander Runup Good evening John.,
I got this from my friend Norm Muffit some time ago. I thought it
might fill a space in Shortbursts. I don't have any information on
this aircraft except that it is at the museum in Hamilton, Ontario.
Editor: After our 422 Squadron closed the hangar doors,
I was posted to 426 Squadron flying Liberators on troop transport between
UK and India. Our Second Pilot, Bill Armstrong, had put in his tour on
a Lysander Army Support Squadron in Europe. He had some hairy tales to
tell. They were attached so closely to the Army that RCAF HQ lost track
of them. This resulted in missed pay parades, and few leaves or rest periods,
I am looking for information on this squadron and would like to hear
from any one who served on, or knew of, this Squadron.
My name is Louise Wright, I lost my father 1974, I was only 13 and
apart from knowing that he was in the RAF I knew little about what he did.
However I have recently lost my Mother and going through her papers I found
an invitation to a presentation of RAF Wings to graduates of the senior
course on April 15th 1944 and I was wondering whether you would know where
I could get any further information on him. His name was Kenneth Patrick
Park known to most as Paddy he was from England and he would have been
20. The presentation took place at the Kaufman County Airport, Terrell.
I would be very grateful for any help you could give me.
Dear John and Doreene,
Thank you for replying so quickly, unfortunately I do not know much
but the County Airport is in Texas. I think he was a pilot, but I have
no idea what squadron he was in. I do have photos of him by an American
Thunderbolt and he is with other flying crew. I could scan and send you
the pictures if it would be helpful. Sorry I don’t have any more information
than this. It would be really great if you could find out anything that
would help me.
Here are 5 photos that may help:
The one called NQ18070 seems to be of the squadron.
My father is 4th one in from the right, second row from the bottom.
Not sure if the number is significant. Its written
on the back of the photo.
In the one “With the boss” he is on the right
In “watermelons” he is second from the right.
I have included the “Thunderbolt” photo because the
ID number may jog some memories.
Invitation to the “Wings award” just in case it’s
I have other photos of him with colleagues and other aircraft but I
guess these will do for now.
I am sorry to say I don’t have any additional information about the
unit, the location or my Father than this. I am really looking forward
to hearing about what comes up, if anything!
Ed. If any reader can help Louise they can reach her at email@example.com
REPORT from Ex-Air Gunners’/WAG
Association , Southern Ontario Chapter.
Ken (425 Squadron) and Linda Hill. Ken is President
of the Southern Ontario Chapter.
Ken forwarded the following:
A Video of the Chapters barbeque. This video will be shared with other
AG/WAG branches in Western Canada.
Extracts from Chapter’s News Letter:
Next meeting will be held Wednesday October 5th., 2005, at 13:00 hours
at the Royal Canadian Legion, Wilson Branch 527, 948 Sheppard Avenue West,
By all accounts it has been a good summer, highlighted by two very special
events. The barbeque and entertainment at President Ken’s home and the
barbeque and swim at Penny’s were very successful and happy gatherings.
At the Oct. 5th. meeting we will hear from Bill and Marg Cole about
their visit to the Netherlands in May during which they participated in
the 60th. Anniversary celebrations of VE Day. Penny Willis will speak about
her visit earlier this year to Japan, South Korea and Thailand and will
show pictures taken.
~ Bill Milne – Secretary.
President Ken with tail turret from a Lanc which the
Chapter reconditioned and presented to the Toronto Aerospace Museum.
Fun and Dancing at the barbeque. Facing camera, Bill
and Marjorie Lloyd
Bill did a tour as a Tail Gunner.
Please send Obituary notices to Charlie Yule: firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTHIM, John: Mbr #0305, Winnipeg, MB: Passed
away peacefully in Vancouver, BC on Sunday, Sept. 18/05 in his 81st year.
He was born Kenora, ON and at the age of 18 joined the RCAF where he served
as an Air Gunner training at #9 Bombing and Gunnery School at Montjoli,
PQ. Overseas he attained the rank of Pilot Officer - J88492.
He was with #50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe in 5 Group until he and his
crew were shot down. John became wounded he was hidden by the French
Underground, eventually being captured and held as a POW at Stalagluft
III where he remained until the end of the war.
Following his military service he joined the ranks
of the Civil Service in Manitoba where he rose to the positon of Chairman
of the Municipal Board for the province.
He was a loyal member of the RCL Br. #84, becoming
a Life Member of that Branch where he served as President, and received
his Meritorious Service Medal in 1995. He was also a valued member
of the Winnipeg Branch of the Ex Air Gunner's Association of Canada, and
a Life Member of Wartime Pilot's and Observer's Assoc.
It was encouraging getting the report from the Southern Ontario Chapter.
It shows that the Air Gunner’s Association is still alive and well. If
other Branches across the country would report in we could use Short Bursts
to learn from each other and celebrate together.
My recovery is a slow process but I’m experiencing frustration at not
being able to get things done as fast as before. I guess that is a good
Bill Hillman, our Web Master, is on the road to recovery. “Don’t over
do it Bill.”
Please drop us a line for future Short Bursts and share your experiences
with our members.
See you in November 2005.
John and Doreene Moyles