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Apologies to the Ags. Like riding a bicycle, WAGs
Yule submitted the following material on Halifax NA3 337
Guests place wreaths before restored Halifax NA337
unveiled at Trenton Museum
Restoration of plane tribute to lost comrades
Allied forces flew 6,178 Halifax bombers during WWII but few remain.
One has risen from the bottom of a Norwegian lake to be restored for unveiling
at the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial Museum, Trenton, Ont.
By Natalie Pona ~ Toronto Star November 5, 2005
Jacqueline Bastable was only six months old when her dad’s World War
Two plane plunged into the lake in Norway. So she never felt like she knew
her father – until yesterday. .That was when she saw her dad’s aircraft
for the first time, restored to look like it did before the catastrophic
night in 1945.
Bastable was at the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial Museum, 8 Wing
Trenton, for the unveiling of the Halifax A MKV11, NA337. Her dad, Walter
Mitchell died when the plane was shot down by German anti-aircraft gunners
just two weeks before the end of the war. He was 22.
“This has filled a great big hole. I grew up not knowing my father and
my mother always found it too painful to talk about,” said Bastable, 61,
who came from England for the ceremony. “I think I understand him
a lot more … it’s the first time I can touch something my father was in.
It is the last place he was before he died.”
After taking off from the RAF base in England on April 23, 1945, their
mission was to drop rifles, food, and clothes to Norwegian Resistance Fighters.
The plane was shot down by German ant-aircraft gunners and crashed into
Lake Mojosa. There was only one survivor (Tomas Weightman, the tail
gunner) in the crew of six. He was too frail to come to the ceremony.
The NA 337 was pulled from the lake in1955 and restored by a team of
volunteers to its original state – one of only three planes that remain
“I can almost imagine my Dad as he took off… I can just imagine him
having that fear of knowing what he was going off to do,” Bastable said.
“this is a tribute to all the men who fought and flew in Halifaxes. But
for me, it’s also a memorial of my Dad. That’s the selfish side.”
Hundreds gathered at the museum today in memory of the more than 10,000
RCAF personnel who died (in Bomber Command) during World War II.
When we were laying the wreaths and singing O’Canada, I couldn’t sing,
I choked up,” said Lloyd Wright, 84. He was a member of the restoration
team, who also piloted a different Halifax during the war. We were some
of the lucky ones, I lost a lot of good friends.”
Tail Gunner Thomas Weightman then and now
Ross Hamilton 407 Squadron with Blackie,
Sqdn. Mascot. Blackie flew Ops with crews.
“One article in the January 2006 Short Bursts stirred me to action,
and that was about the Polish chap, Mark Oziewicz, who escaped from
his homeland and made it to England to join the RAF. “
Ross submitted the following article.
Jan Pidek escaped from Poland in 1939 at age 19 to avoid the Nazi and
Russian invasions. At the time he was taking his pilot training at the
Polish Air Force Academy but hadn’t fully graduated. His escape odyssey
took him to Romania then by ship to Transalvania, Beirut, Marseilles, Caan
and Paris, and finally to England.
Jan joined the RAF in April 1940 at Eastchurch, and began his RAF training
period after air-testing of his earlier schooling. Following his SFTS graduation
and obtaining his pilot’s wings, he was posted to No. 308 Polish Squadron
at Hutton-Cranswick flying Spitfires. He was in time to take part in a
good many “ops” during he Battle of Britain, plus flying cover for the
Dieppe raid, up to and including the same on D-Day.
The Squadron subsequently moved to Caan in France, flying support with
the invasion forces. Jan remained with 308 Squadron in Belgium on his second
tour until the end o the war. He was then attached to the RAF Occupational
wing, in which three Polish Squadrons participated.
Jan Pidek 308 Squadron 1945
During his sojourn in Germany, Jan and his colleagues made a point of
visiting some of the newly liberated slave-labour camps, where many of
his countrymen and women were unwilling guests, in order to distribute
comfort items such as chocolate, food, etc., to the recently liberated
On one such visit he made the acquaintance of a very beautiful young
lady from his home country, and a romance soon blossomed. Jan and his lovely
Gizelle were subsequently wed in Germany on June 24, 1945.
Jan, with his new bride, returned to England in 1948 to RAF Station
Portreath, where he took his discharge from the RAF. He had accumulated
1100 combat hours on Spitfires.
Subsequently the Pideks migrated to Canada (Winnipeg) in April 1948, where
Jan was in private industry for ten years. He then accepted a position
with the Federal Government in Ottawa as Director of the Public Archives,
until his retirement.
Jan and Gizelle 1948
Jan and Gizelle Pidek
Photo taken by Gary Nylander
The Okanogan Sunday, September 25, 2005
In 2005 Jan and Gizelle left Ottawa and moved to Kelowna, B.C., to be
near his beloved niece, one of only a very few of his surviving relatives.
Jan is now 85 years of age, a member of our local “Wartime Aircrew” club,
and an honoured “Brother”. Long may this special couple be in our midst.
Walter Shaw ~ Regina, Sask.
One day whilst based at Aqir, Palestine, flying for Transport Command,
my two-man crew and myself found that we had run out of cigarettes and
there were none available on the base so we got the OK to fly up to Lydda
to purchase some. When we landed and purchased some fags we were
classed as people passing through and were entitled to a meal So
we ate a good breakfast (free) got back on our kite and returned to base.
(You would think we were politicians not paying for a meal) But it was
From Wings Parade to Mandalay by Allan Coggon
300 pages soft cover. Many photos, illustrations, and tactical maps.
6E-2333 Government St.,
Victoria, B.C. V8T 4P4
Tel. 250.383.6864 or 1.888.232.4444
Trafford Publishing (UK) Limited
9 Park End Street ,
Oxford, UK. 0X1 1HH
Allan Coggon takes the reader on a nostalgic, emotional , mood swinging,
coaster ride. From the exhilaration of obtaining his wings in 1940, and
dreams of fighter pilot status, to the deflation of being posted to an
Instructor’s course. In 1944, his desire to serve overseas is finally fulfilled
when he put in a tour on 31 Squadron RAF over the jungles of Burma. The
mood changes to sombre realization of the trauma of conflict.
While serving in Canada as a staff pilot the author provides the reader
with much gallows type humour. It seems that on the home front aircraft
maintenance was sometimes of a low priority due to shortage of spare parts.
In one case an inventive mechanic, because the stores was out of copper
fuel lines, used the rubber tube off a douche bag. The engine test and
flight test went well. However, when the author took the aircraft up for
a night transport flight, after two hours both engines stopped. It took
that long for the high octane fuel to eat through the rubber. Many ex-aircrew
readers will identify with the problems encountered in Canadian flying.
The Burma campagne has been known as ‘The Forgotten War’. In his preamble
to the Burma section of his book the author states:
“My account of the war in Burma is a brief account
of the adversaries in the longest continual battle in the Second World
War, and Britain’s longest retreat. It is not presented as an objective
or exhaustive account of the Burma campaign. The prologue and the nine
vignettes are meant to refresh the memories of those whose recollections
may be hazy and for those who were not yet born. Consequently, some aviation
enthusiasts may find themselves in a holding pattern with my geographical,
cultural, and special unit descriptions as a preamble to the flying activity.
Nevertheless, my flight plan in documenting these details some 60 years
later is to inform those who never knew of “The Forgotten War”.
Some times supplies were ‘kicked’ out over a drop zone (DZ).
When the enemy were close to the DZ the pilot had to fly over enemy positions
at 500 feet to approach the area. As the window of drop was often small,
the pilot had to make a number of circuits to deposit the full load. In
other cases when they put down on temporary landing strips.As the area
changed hands so quickly they didn’t know for sure which side controlled
the strip. Often on landing, the crew would run from the aircraft to the
closest slit trench until the aircraft was unloaded. Their main concerns
were enemy Oscar fighters, ground fire, mountains, and the violent unpredictable
It is true that there were many different types of air war. Bomber Command
flew in their steams of hundreds of planes and many crashed on the continent;
Coastal command crews went out individually as did Ferry Command crews.
When they didn’t return or reach their destination it was often, ‘Lost
at Sea’. Allan Coggon describes another military experience. When supply
aircraft that went down, whether from enemy fire, or violent storms, the
jungle claimed them, and for many crews, guards its secrets to this day.
I found this a most fascinating read. It is well documented and supported
by tactical maps. It is a book that should be in public and school libraries.
Reviewed by John Moyles
||Author Allan Coggon spent 38 years as an active pilot, obtaining his
wings with the RCAF in 1940, serving in Eastern Canada until 1943, and
then doing a tour with the RAF against the Japanese forces in South East
Asia. After completing his tour of 700 hours with 31 Squadron, the author
retuned to Canada and, following his discharge, continued a career
in flying. First with the KLM Dutch Royal Airlines on trans/oceanic and
intercontinental flights to Dutch East Indies. He then flew with Hollinger
Ungava Transport; personal pilot to Sir James Dunn in St. Andrews, New
Brunswick; Algola Steel Corporation, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario; instructed
on ski and float planes in the hinterland north of Lake Superior. In 1992
he was instrumental in forming the Nova Scotia branch of the Aircrew Association
and in 1992, the Silver Dart Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical
Society in 1096.
I have been trying to find out where exactly the Blister gunner
was on three Halifaxes 0f 10, 77 and 78 sqdns. who reported combats with
e/a on the Plzen raid of 1943. It is definitely the nose position for the
V.G.O. gun. I suspect it is was on the floor of the aircraft. even better
would be a photo of the position! These were MKII Halifaxes at least one
of which had to Z Fairing on the nose.
Can any air gunners help?
Greetings P Cunliffe,
(Pretty heavy on the Sir, might go to my head)
Regarding your question, I published a picture of the waist gunner's
position in the Halifax in one of our mail-out newsletters prior to March
2001. I will try to find it and send you a copy.
John Moyles - Editor of Short Bursts
Thanks for your efforts my original should have read as below! Must
have typed it late night.
It is definitely NOT the nose position for the V.G.O. gun. I suspect
it is was on the floor of the aircraft. even better would be a photo of
the position! I talked to a ex Bomber command pilot on Halis and he said
they had a position on the floor for a blister. It is amazing how hard
it is to find someone who knows!
Hi, Came across your site while surfing around. My age is 86 and I
live in Stoke on Trent, England. During the war years I was a bus conductress,
and often had airmen travelling on my bus between Derby, Uttoxeter and
Hanley Stoke on Trent.
There was an airfield at Foston close to Uttoxeter it was upsetting
to see the planes covered with tarpaulin, after a raid. Many friendly chats
were exchanged, but one in particular I remember was with a young airman
whose home was in South Africa. On one of my early morning trips he boarded
my bus at Cheadle, which is near to Uttoxeter; he told me he had hitch
hiked from Derby the previous night to visit his young brother at nearby
Denstone college. I thought how very thoughtful of him and prayed that
he would return safely home. My husband served with the Royal Tank Regiment
in the middle east and in Europe. He was slightly wounded while disarming
German soldiers at the Danish border. With Regards,
Southern Alberta group changed Contact
Person and President to:
Box 179, Okotoks, AB. T0 L 1T0
Ph: (403) 938-4105
I have attached a photo that would be important for those interested
in buying our Halifax print "INVINCIBLE ITEM".
The print sales are the main source of the success of our Halifax Project
at this time.
I am hopeful to hear from the Alberta government in early 2006.
about our request for financial support.
I have included a picture of Russell Earl and myself when he was signing
the prints in Estevan in early Dec.
This also gives people an idea of the size and quality of the print,
it is one of the best in years with 11 signers who actually flew our LW170
in combat, a real collectible.
The signed ones are ($ 165. including postage)
The unsigned are ($90 including postage).
Thanks for your support in 2005 and wishing to "Press on regardless
.." with you and the AG's in 2006.
Editor: the picture Karl sent also included
Russell Earl but I was unable to download the full picture.
Sorry Earl, we will get you in later.
From Bill Hillman
Google Earth menaced by WW2
Veteran aircraft caught in flight over UK
By Lester Haines ~ January 9, 2006
The results of our Google Earth black helicopter competition last year
proved just how eagled-eyed you lot were when it came to virtual plane
spotting, but here's one you missed, and a real blast from the past it
Check out: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/09/google_lancaster/
There doesn't seem to be a list of rcaf servicemen from ww2. A bomber crewman
(ray reeder) from swift current went to
europe and retured safe after the war, but I can't find any mention
of his name or squadron. any suggestions.
John Lutes . . .Moncton
Editor: Through 411 service I contacted the only Ray Reeder in Swift
Current but he said that he was not in service during WWII. Does the name
ring a bell with any of our readers? The Swift Current, SK. Legion might
be a starting point.
HELL’S ANGELS 30rd Bomber Group
Missing Comrades Register
Below are the names of nearly 5,000 303rd BG(H) Comrades for whom we
have no current information. We are looking for address information if
they are living, or a death date if they are deceased. Please help us in
our search. If you have ANY information about anyone on the list, please
contact: email@example.com. Please see our Lost Comrade Search Tips.
the Memory of Winnipeg’s Andrew Mynarski, V.C.
June 13, 1944.
In an instant frozen forever in time, a young airman, wrapped in flames,
turned back to his trapped comrade in the stricken Avro Lancaster bomber
and snapped a salute. For precious moments, he had struggled with the doors
of the jammed tail gun turret while the fires that consumed his clothes
and parachute, and, eventually his life, sealed the fate of the bomber
and its crew.
Fifty years later, at the bomber base in England where he served, a
larger-than-life bronze statue of Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski was recently
dedicated. His selfless act won him the Victoria Cross, Canada’s highest
tribute for valour in peace and war. Today, his hometown is mobilizing
to remember its North-End hero by bringing an exact copy of the Mynarski
statue home to Winnipeg.
One year ago, Middleton St. George in England began the “Forgotten Hero”
appeal (as part of the Wartime Memories Project) to honour the memory of
the Victoria Cross winner. The local newspaper, The Northern Echo and the
Winnipeg Free Press were instrumental in the fund-raising that eventually
saw donations from Canada, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world
flow into this small town in Northern England.
A group of local Winnipegers prominent in business, government, heritage,
military and community organizations have now embarked on a fund-raising
project to raise $60,000+ to cast a new statute by Keith Maddison, the
original sculptor of the Mynarski memorial at Middleton St. George. The
Mynarski Statue Project has the cooperation and support of the Andrew Mynarski
V.C. School, the 573 Andrew Mynarski Air Cadet Squadron, the Canadian Aviation
Historical Society, the Manitoba Aviation Council and the Polish Combatants
Association, among a host of other organizations committed to the goal
of bringing the Mynarski Statue home.
Fund-raising has just begun, with all funds directed to Jim Bell, President
of the local chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, c/o 1
Allen Dyne Road, Winnipeg, MB, R3H 0Z9, (204) 774-2580 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Completing the Circle - Remembering Andrew Mynarski today
The story of “Andy” Mynarski is also the story of a North-End Winnipeg
hero; today, a school, park and an Air Cadet Squadron bear his name. On
Remembrance Days, his story is recounted as a tale of individual courage,
but it is much more than that, it is a story as timeless as his heroism,
it is a story of a community, of Polish immigrants, of young men who went
off to war and the generation of today that still needs to know his story.
To see a more detailed account go to 2005 Short Bursts Page: http://www.airmuseum.ca/mag/0511.html
With the completion of Canada’s “Year of the Veteran,” the imminent
50th Anniversary of Andrew Mynarski VC School and the Forgotten Hero Appeal
at Middleston St. George, a fitting tribute to a wartime hero is appropriate
and now we have the opportunity to do just that.
• Community awareness of the Andrew Mynarski story
• Creating a partnership of various individuals and organizations for
planning and action
• Funding the costs of mold repair and casting of a Keith Maddison
• Casting an exact duplicate of the Andrew Mynarski statue, in England
• Funding any associated costs of repair, casting and travel of the
• Transporting and installation of the statue at a suitable site in
• • 419 Sqdn, Canadian Armed Forces
• 500 Wing City of Winnipeg
• 573 Andrew Mynarski Air Cadet Sqdn
• Dr. Tom Axworthy
• Andrew Mynarski V.C. School
• CAF- Heritage and History Branch
• Canadian Aviation Historical Society
• Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
• Harry Lazarenko, Wpg City Councillor,
• Keith Middleton, Sculptor
• Bonnie Korzeniowski, MLA
• Manitoba Aviation Council
• Middleton St. George Primary School
• The Northern Echo newspaper
• Polish Combatants’ Association
• Royal Canadian “Polish” Legion #34
• Judy Wasylycia-Leis, MP
• Wartime Memories Project, U.K.
• Wartime Pilots’ and Observers’ Association
• Western Canada Aviation Museum
• Winnipeg Free Press
I invite you to join us.
Bill – in my other life, a meek and mild librarian – Zuk (204)
Prince George Duke of Kent
20 Dec. 1902 – 25 Aug. 1942
Firstly, let me take this opportunity of wishing your wife and yourself
a Happy New Year. I hope you’re both well. I’ve just looked through
the last few issues of Short Bursts and, as usual, they’re difficult ‘to
put down’, so to speak.
Let me bring you up to date. After over a year’s research, I believe
I will have enough material for a fairly detailed biography of the Duke;
(of Kent) it will, of course, include what I hope will be the most detailed
and accurate account of the events surrounding the tragedy in 1942, but
a biography should have a wider appeal than a book dealing solely with
the loss of W4026. I still have a lot of work to do, and every day I make
a new contact and learn something more. Only yesterday I was put in touch
with a journalist in Pembroke, John Evans. He has his own publishing firm,
Paterchuch Publications, and has written several books about Pembroke Dock
(PD) during the War and the history of the Sunderland. He was recommended
by a wonderful eighty-five-year old, Eric Harrison, who is Secretary of
the 228 Squadron Association. He is amazingly active and still a dynamic
member of his local Rotary in Manchester. He served as a navigator on Sunderlands
and has given me a great deal of information and assistance.
It may be that you already know of John Evan’s books, which include
the official history of 228 Squadron, but if not, I feel sure they would
be of interest to you and your colleagues. You might like to have a look
at his website: www.paterchurch-publications.co.uk. I’ve given him details
of your website. His e-mail address is: email@example.com
I’m about to write again to Don and Jack, who’ve been so helpful, as
after re-reading my notes, there are some points I would like to check
with them. I do hope they’re both well.
I wonder if you or one of your colleagues could help me with a small
point. The Duke’s ADC on the fateful flight was the Hon. Michael Strutt;
he was 28. I know a lot about him, but in brief he was the son of Lord
Belper, a Derbyshire industrialist. After university Michael went into
business in New York. In July 1939 he married an American in Newport, R.I.
By 1941 he was an air gunner on a Lancaster based at Mildenhall. What puzzles
me is that the records at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission show that
at the time of his death not only was Strutt a Pilot Officer (Air Gnr.)
in the RCAF serving in 228 (RAF) Sqdn., but that he was also a Canadian
citizen. His service number was J/15062. I have asked my father about this
and he relates that before the USA entered the War, it was not unusual
for Americans who wanted to serve in the RAF to go over to Canada to join
up. I wonder whether Strutt, being marooned in New York in September
39, joined the RCAF for this purpose. If so, would it have been necessary
for him to become a naturalized Canadian?
Does Canada have an equivalent to the London Gazette, the British Government’s
official newspaper, which publishes all commissions in the Armed Forces
and naturalizations? (The Gazette for the whole of the Twentieth Century
is available on-line.) I’m sorry to trouble you with this query, but it’s
been puzzling me for months!
Karim Gaafar firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. During his 1941 tour of Canada, the Duke, while travelling with
the Premier of Ontario, was in a nasty car crash. Luckily, neither of them
was badly hurt. I think the Duke must have been driving: he hated chauffeurs
and drove himself everywhere. Unfortunately, he was a keen but reckless
motorist and crashed often!
Michael Strutt enlisted in the RCAF. His RCAF service card indicates
He trained at No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Jarvis, Ontario Canada.
I have attached a copy of this email to Robert Schweyer, a good friend
and author of an excellent book about No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School.
Rob has researched the visit of the Duke of Kent to Canada/Jarvis as well.
I have some photos of the Duke of Kent visiting RCAF Trenton which I
can scan and email to you.
Wally Fydenchuk email@example.com
Editor: The above Duke of Kent photo came from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_George%2C_Duke_of_Kent#Death
There is an interesting quote regarding a conspiracy theory.
From: Leonard A Estrella Jr.
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2006 5:53 PM
Subject: 407 Demon Sqd.
Hi my uncle Leonard W Almquist flew a Hudson in WW2. He was in the
407 Demon Sqd. His plane went down Dec 15, 1941 over the Dutch coast. I
was wondering if any one served with him or knew him. Please contact me
Mr. Leonard A Estrella Jr
Subject: Summer Event at Nanton Alberta.
Good morning John.
I have just received an e-mail from Bob Evans at the Nanton Lancaster
Museum and he informs me that the date of the 20th Anniversary of the Museum
in 2006 is changed from August 19 to August 26. You might want to
include that in the next issue of Short Bursts. I will have something
for you shortly. I have the photos and most of the information on the Edmonton
Aviation Heritage Museum, I just have to put it all together and send it
The picture of Ross Hamilton with the Squadron mascot sent me to the old
Short Bursts Newsletters where I found in Issue #39, September, 1992, the
there was the fawn (baby deer to city dwellers) that frequented the Sgt’s
lounge at 7 BR Squadron. The chaps poured beer into ashtrays and our mascot
kept the trays squeaky clean.
As the evening wore on the little free loader
had difficulty navigating and its spindly undercarriage kept retracting.
Something like the accompanying picture.
It is said that laughter is the best medicine,
and believe me, at our age we need all the support we can get. Send
in your anecdotes and stories, give the chaps a chuckle,
We will be back in March.
John & Doreene Moyles.