OCTOBER 2006
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Pilot Officer Prune experiencing extreme "ring twitch" as he earns a second joint to his Finger Order. He had shot at an ME 109 the pilot of which had returned his fire with some effect but, proving that Goering had an answer to P/O Prune in his Luftwaffe, the German pilot followed Prune down to see how he fared. On bailing out Prune found that his parachute harness was too loosely adjusted. The German failed to pull of his dive, and ploughed in on the down line from Charing Cross in front of the 2:45.
Prune later claimed this as a victory!

Who did not love P/O Prune that WWII character who, by example, taught us what not to do. Prune was created by fellow Air Gunner Bill Hooper when, through an AFHQ snafu, became cartoonist and writer, for our TEE EMM Training manual.

Recently we received two humorous articles from Members regarding service shenanigans. We can all identify with Prune and I’m sure the following articles will stir memories of similar situations which contravened the spirit of ‘good order and discipline.

John Leslie Sundell. 
98 Squadron 139 Wing 

I received word from the Salvation Army that my brother was in hospital at Bramshot, having been wounded, shot in the leg while on duty in France. I went up to visit him and found that he was mobile with the aid of crutches. 

To celebrate our reunion we visited the local bar. Harv was an Officer in the Winnipeg Rifles, whereas I was a step lower, a WO1. All our lives we had been taken for one another, having similar features. As this was strictly an Officers bar, Harv managed to secure an Argyle & Southerland officer’s uniform for me so I could attend with him. We were having a drink when a young officer came up and asked me where I got my commission. Hav immediately stepped between us, forcing me to go one way and the inquisitor the other. That brought an abrupt end to the conversation and Harv and I made tracks for safer quarters. Looking back I wonder how I had the nerve to cut such a caper. If caught the authorities would most likely say, “another bloody “ca-nigh-de-an”.

After this episode we decided we had better get back to base. When we got to the train station, Harv decided he didn’t want to go up and down all those steps to reach the desired platform, so we proceeded to cross the tracks at ground level. All was going well until we heard the whistle of an approaching train. It was nip and tuck to get Harv and his crutches up onto the platform before the train removed some of his particulars.

On another visit to brother Harv following his recovery, he managed to take his platoon on manoeuvres where the men were taken to various points and had to make their way back to camp. I was not one of the troop so I remained at camp, dressed once more in the uniform of the Argyle & Sutherland. Several non-coms came to me and said “Lieutenant Sundell, what do we do now?” This put me on the spot, but I replied, “You’ll have to wait until Lieutenant Sundell comes back.”  They looked at me as though I had lost my marbles! This impersonation of an officer had its advantages and, as Harv and his men marched from base to camp site, Lieutenant Leslie Sundell, got to ride in the supply truck. Luckily, neither my brother or I were caught in this little game.


John Moyles

I know I have told this story before but it is so similar to Les' that I will repeat in  abbreviated form.

I was a Flying Officer and went to visit an old school buddy, Bud Duller, who was an LAC Aero Engine mechanic at Skipton-on-Swale. On arrival Bud offered me a vacant bunk next to his in the airman’s barracks. Ideal, we would have lots of time to visit. The next morning Bud had to go to work and asked me to press his uniform in preparation for our night in Harrogate.

I was alone in the barracks pressing the LAC’s uniform when a high ranking officer and a WO 2 entered. The officer approached, turned shades of purple, and snapped, “What are you doing?”

Between iron stokes I casually said, “Just ironing a friend’s uniform, Sir.” The Officer turned to the NCO, “take his name and number,” and stalked out of the hut.

Nothing was ever heard of this misadventure. We had a bang up time in Harrowgate.

Then there was the time I left my tunic in a tailor shop to have repairs done, walked into a neighbouring pub in my shirtsleeves, stepped up to the bar and ordered a pint of bitters, then realized I was standing by an RAF Wing Commander. He said, “you are out of uniform!”

I replied, “you are quite right Sir.” 

He moved off and I think he muttered, “bloody colonials.”

But that is another story.


Ross Hamilton

This is not a “war story” per-se. Rather it is a tale of larceny and intrigue, usually punishable by hanging or guillotine particularly as it relates to one of the most heinous crimes of all – theft of food in wartime rationed Britain during WWII.

Our Wellington crew were on detachment from 407 Squadron during the latter months of 1944 developing what was to become the first AWAC. This was the brainchild of the RAF Boffins to be used in the detection of the Heinkle-III Buzz-bomb carriers launching same against London over the Channel.


Back row: Mclean, Skipper; Johnny Mahoney, Nav.; Ken Dawson, WAG; Mike Winton, WAG
Front: Ross Hamilton, WAG; Howard Robinson, Second Pilot.

On the occasion in question, we were temporarily operating from RAF station Coltishall in Norfolk, one of several stations we worked from during this development period. Coltishall was equipped also with Night Fighter Mossies and Beaufighters operating over the Continent at all hours of the day and night.

One particular evening a Canadian  Mossie Pilot in the RAF, and his Navigator shot down a JU-88 over the Channel. Upon his return to base a “thrash” subsequently developed to celebrate the crew’s victory. Naturally our 407 crew, the only other Canadians on the base at that time, joined in. It was a good “thrash” and ended in the late evening when the day’s bar ration expired, and the sane people went to bed, including four members of our crew, including the Skipper, F/L MacLean. The other two, second Pilot “Robbie” Robinson and yours truly, foolishly got on our bikes and rode out into the countryside to a farm where Robbie had earlier spotted a flock of chickens roosting in trees along the roadside. 

It took a bit of an effort to remove a total of six chickens from their sleep (one for each of the crew) wring their necks, and with strips torn from a couple of handkerchiefs, tied the legs over the cross bars and fled the scene of the crime.

What with the over balance of the chickens, plus the inner loads of beer, yours truly executed a “prang” and ended upside down among the hedgerow. It was at this point we decided to “dress” the chickens. The plucking process was crude and unprofessional,
innocent bodies torn open, wings and legs hanging, a sorry sight to say the least. We arrived back at the Officer’s quarters and dumped the poor victims into water in a bath tub to await further processing.

Later next day we had some visitors, namely the Station Adjutant accompanied by two huge police constables in full uniform. First question was posed, “OK, where are the chickens?” (The rest of the crew were yet unaware of our night fighting sortie). Both Robbie and myself gave the cops a blank look and asked what they were talking about. The police wasted no time and they were not lacking in detective skills. Sherlock Holmes would have been proud! 

“Could you please produce some items of your laundry?” they asked. We brought out a shirt or two. Then one Constable opened up a paper bag and extracted two strips of bloodied handkerchiefs and compared the laundry marks with the identical ones on the shirts. If this was not enough for a conviction, they emptied a second bag that contained bits and fragments of blue serge. They explained that this evidence was recovered from the scene of disembodiment among the thorn bushes. They quickly ascertained that the bits of fluff were not from RAF clothing, but did match RCAF battle dress. Thus they had us. We disclosed the location of the spoils, and what a sorry sight they were in the light of day.

We were charged, advised of our rights, and told that the Adjutant would be informed of the date and place of our trial. The Adjutant advised us of the seriousness of the offence and, if we were convicted in the civil court, we could be brought before a District Court- Marshal. Conviction could result in dishonourable discharge if carried to the extreme.

This brought on some serious knee-trembling however, the Adjutant suggested the only option open to us was to try to enlist the assistance and sympathy of the Station Commander. Both Robbie and I shuddered.  The CO was Group Captain Donaldson DSO and Bar, DFC with 2 Bars, Battle of Britain and Bomber Command.

When we were ushered into the CO’s office Robbie was our spokes person and related the tale of the chicken episode. Still standing to attention, we expected the CO to really give us a dressing down. Instead, he roared with laughter and said, “How I wish I could have been along just to watch”! He then agreed to go with us to court.

The ensuing trial in the little village was conducted just like a murder trial. At the end of the constable’s evidence the lady Judge directed a bitter summation and asked the Group Commander if he wished to speak on our behalf. Our Commanding Officer launched into one of the finest (and untrue) summations I have ever heard.

He said, “The true victims here, F/L Robinson and F/O Hamilton, are on my station at present on a very secret assignment which I cannot mention (true), and it is of great significance to England and the war effort. Both of these fine young officers volunteered their services to come from Canada to fight on our behalf. Both have been recommended for DFCs (a lie) and should you people see fit to convict them, on the basis of a silly prank, which now they both rue, you and I will all will be the poorer, and we could lose their priceless services for the remainder of the war. Following a possible conviction, they will be subject to a District Court Marshall, which may result in a dishonourable discharge, and a return to Canada in disgrace. The decision rests with you. Thank you.”

The Madam judge’s summation was far from gentle. We were classified as common thieves stealing scarce food from the starving populace. Her final words were, “you are a disgrace to your uniforms and to your families. There will be a fine of six pounds each.”
I think we each had a cheque written before she had finished speaking.

Back at base Robbie and I decided to repay the Group Captain for saving our necks by presenting him with a carton of Sweet Caporal cigarettes. We approached him in the mess where he was playing a game of billiards in the games room, and offered up our token of thanks. He very graciously accepted with this comment, “I suppose it is in order for me to accept these now that the trial is over, and the cigarettes should not be construed as a bribe. Thank you both.” As we departed he called out, “ By the way gentlemen, don’t be late for dinner tonight. I understand they are serving chicken.”


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The training pamphlet, Gunnery Sense, was published in 1941. 
It covered lecture room subjects, range work, practice and preparation for the real thing.
The following is the last segment; The real Thing.

A Tail Gunner’s Story

I’m going to tell you something about the life of a tail gunner in one of our heavy bombers. But if you expect a long catalogue of thrilling incidents, you will be disappointed. We certainly have our excitements but for the most part our outings lack the Hollywood element. The highlights of combat come only now and then. At the end of seven and one half hours in the tail turret one rather sighs for them.

The tail gunner is part of a crew, and this crew’s life dominates not only his flying hours, but his whole existence. You come together, six non descript individuals – young and old, lean and fat, officer and non-commissioned officer. You eye each other in a rather British sort of way, and wish you could find something graceful and appropriate to say. You can’t. You think how old they look, and I suppose you must look just as old to them,. None of you would probably have chosen each other if crews were made on the pickup principal, but, after a bit, you would not dream of changing. It is really very curious.

The two other things that are all-important to an air gunner are his turret and guns. He is entirely responsible for their upkeep and efficiency. Daily he cleans them, fills the ammunition boxes, looks to the sighting. As to his turret, it is his home for all his flying hours. He is practically always working in the dark. At first, one is always at six and sevens. One puts down the loading handle or the spanner or the dummy round, and can’t find it again. One bangs one’s head, and tears ones hands. After a bit it becomes almost lovingly familiar. One knows the exact peculiarities, the strains and stresses of each fitting, and each seems to have a personality which one regards with affection even in its most stubborn moments.

I will take you with us tonight on an ordinary sortie over Germany. The first time it is rather a thrill, but after a bit it becomes an unnoticed routine. So settle down on the seat. Our turrets are power operated swinging easily in any direction, so you test your turret moving it to and fro by pressing on a pair of handles. And finally you load and cock the guns, putting on the safety catches, because one may meet a brother Boche at any moment. All this makes you feel rather hot, because, knowing you may fly high, you have a couple of pullovers, a leather Irving suit which is fur lined, leather gauntlets with silk linings and heavy flying boots. You apply your body gently to the seat. Seven hours is a good long sit. I can assure my listeners that the last few months have made me a connoisseur of contours.

Then you switch over your inter-comm, and speak to the Captain to show that it is working alright; you hear others doing the same, and in this way get a fair idea of what is going on all around the aircraft. Personally, I never talk on the inter-comm. Unless I have anything that needs saying. My first Squadron Commander told me that a garrulous tail-gunner was an infernal nuisance – and I marked his words.

The thing about a tail turret is the sense of detachment it gives you. It has all the effects of being suspended in space. It sounds a little terrifying, but actually it is fascinating. The effect it had on me is to make me feel that I am in a different aircraft than the others. I hear their voices; I know they are there at the other end of the aircraft, but I feel remote and alone. Running my little show, I like to sense that they need not worry about attack from the rear.

Now we are rising slowly above the familiar darkened landmarks. A pause and we have crossed the coast, and ask the Captain’s permission to fire a burst into the sea, just to make doubly sure a to the serviceability of our guns.

Time passes, we are over the Dutch Coast, and soon we are flying high above a bank of cloud,. It is lit from below by German searchlights, and this gives a sort of opaque glow.  Ten minutes later we are past the clouds. We have been this way before and are getting to know it quite well. Now the Germans are after us with their searchlights. Out in front there is a flak barrage. You and I in the tail turret cannot see the flak barrage yet. The searchlights keep crossing and crossing. Now one has caught us. But no. After holding us for a moment, it passes. Two minutes later, however, they get us good and proper. And very confusing it is too. We felt a cross between a fly on an arc lamp and a man whose clothes have been pinched while he is bathing.

We turn and twist, hoping to get clear and – now the party is starting! Here comes the flak. You see the pyrotechnics come bursting up at you, and going off all around you, with a sense of detachment. It would cost you a shilling at the Crystal Palace. I have never really honestly felt it could be going to hit me. But if it does catch us, we have the benefit of our marvellously constructed aircraft. They stand a lot of punishment. A large hole was once made only four feet behind my seat, and I never knew the old kite had been hit.

Well we are getting close to the target now. It is a terrible temptation to the gunner to sit and watch the bombs dropping, but he really shouldn’t, because we may be attacked at any moment, and the rear gunner’s job is to watch for their attack, not ours. Still, lets have a peep or two out of the corner of our eye. The first stick seems a bit wide, but the second hits the target square as far as one can judge, and adds to the blaze. “Whoopee!” shouts the Second Pilot, Whoopee!” shouts back the Captain; “Whoopee!” shout you and I from the back.

We waste no time, but turn for home. This is where we may expect attack. We have been fired at pretty continuously all the time but now the flak has stopped, and there are only the searchlights. This seems to suggest fighters. A few nights earlier in this same area, an aircraft from our Squadron met an enemy fighter under just these conditions. Both aircraft illuminated by German searchlights, the fighter came bursting up and started banging off tracer at about six hundred yards. It went low.
 
 

Our gunner let him come in to within three hundred yards and then gave him three or four bursts. He banked sharply and then broke away. However, the gunner thought that was not the end of him, nor was it. He came in again, slightly above, and firing off a red and green tracer with all the enthusiasm associated with the Fifth of November at a Prep school. This time our gunner gave him all he’d got. But he didn’t need a lot, he just went into vertical dive, and pitch forked himself into the Reich.

Well we are all keyed up for something to happen, but it doesn’t. More searchlights, more flak, but no fighters, and in due course we are crossing the coast again, though that in itself spell’s no immunity from attack. It is beginning to feel pretty chilly, because we have been flying at a good height; and I suddenly find that one of my legs is getting cramped and that six and one half hours of scanning the heavens has been as bit of a strain on  the eyes; and that my hands have gown weary from holding the grips that  operate the turret. In short, quite suddenly one finds that a lot of time has  passed much to one’s surprise, and that one feels tired. Still, anything may happen at any moment; one keeps telling oneself, one must not relax.

Now we are over our own coast. We have had a good trip. Things have gone well. The target was found easily and was well and truly hit. There is a happy atmosphere inside the kite – though nothing is said. You notice the barometer rising. It is sort of psychological.

Well, here we are, safe over the aerodrome. In we come - a good landing, and taxi up to the hangar. The CO is on the tarmac and wants to hear about it; then we go pull off all our flying kit, swap a few experiences in the crew room, and put in the report. And so to bacon and eggs, and bed in the pale light of dawn.

I wish I could tell you something about this ordinary Tail Gunner’s outing that was more spectacular than the things that have happened to you and me….But the life of a Tail Gunner in a heavy bomber is one of long hours of humdrum. I’m glad that so much of the mock-heroic nonsense talked about Tail-Gunners in the early days of the war has dried up – suicide clubs, and that sort of idiocy. We resented it. 

But I should like to say a word of thanks to the designers and work people who gave us our splendid, unfailing guns, and to the armourers who at all hours and in all weathers keep them in action. They are heroes of this war, and it is they who make our work something in which we have a full measure of confident pride.
 
 
 


Ex-Air Gunner laid Wreath at Remembrance ceremony in Ottawa November 11, 2005

The memories of Second World War comrades who never returned to Canada was in Ed Chenier’s thoughts as he laid the wreath in their honour during the National Remembrance Day in Ottawa. Ed was accompanied by his Grandson who was a Warrant Officer in the Air Cadets.


Ed Chenier with photo of Air Force comrades

During his 15 bombing missions over Europe Ed was the Wireless Operator. On one flight an air gunner asked him if he would like to fire a few rounds. Having air gunner training, he accepted. Ed was firing into the North Sea but he didn’t hear the Skipper’s order, “cease fire.” Then Ed saw some chaps jumping out of a fishing boat and stopped immediately.

On another occasion, Ed recalls an incident while on a night operation. After their successful mission they set their aircraft on course for home. Ed noticed a blip on his radar screen that signified an enemy fighter was getting into position to attack from the rear. Ed alerted the gunners who had no visual contact. Just as Ed was about to give the command for evasive action, the tail gunner yelled, “Corckscrew Port – Go.” The pilot immediately threw the aircraft into a left diving turn and the gunners opened fire. It was an intense moment. The enemy fighter repositioned for a second attack, again without success.

Many surviving Veterans reflect back on the war and wonder why their lives were spared.


RCAF HALIFAX LW170 RECOVERY 
424 Squadron 

Dear Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada) Members and Supporters,

Please note that Progress Report No. 12A (July 11, 2006) is now on our official website at 

www.57rescuecanada.com

Thanks for all your interest and support to save RCAF Halifax LW170.

Best regards,
Karl Kjarsgaard
Project Manager
 


Thoughts On the Controversial Plaque On Display at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa

Dear John :

Probably like many other Bomber Command vets I was saddened by the notice of the plaque  now on view at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, essentially condemning allied bombing in World War II .Why, of all military activities in the Second World War this should be selected for public view escapes me . It certainly can't be considered a memorial to the 10,000 or so Canadian boys who lost their lives serving with Bomber Command. I suppose it is to remind current generations of the wartime tragedies suffered by civilian populations Certainly a worthy objective if put in proper perspective.

     In the first place that was "the way the war was fought" - it  wasn't one sided - witness the bombing of Warsaw and other Polish cities (!939), a residential district in Rotterdam (May 1940), British cities (1940-41), Russian cities, particularly Stalingrad and Leningrad (1941 -44). Hence thousands of civilian lives were lost (70,000 in Great Britain) and homes destroyed by Lufwaffe activities. In fact, a major tragedy of  World War II was the death of civilians, estimated at around 30 million. Russians had the heaviest losses followed by Poland, with Germany a distant third. This reflects the fact, apart from the closing weeks, allied bombing was the only part of the war fought on or over Germany. It could also be pointed out  that German losses through allied bombing were little more than 10% of exterminations in the concentration camps. 

    Second the assertion that bombing had little effect on German war production is at best a "half-truth". Let us remember that following the fall of much of Europe to German occupation in 1940 the industrial capacity of the occupied countries fell into German hands, and with conscripted labour made a contribution to German war production - much of it beyond the capacity or out of reach for allied bombers. Hence there has to be a distinction made between "German" war production and war production "within Germany".  Critical assessment of the effectiveness of allied bombing does not take into consideration where and what level of production would have otherwise prevailed.


CORRESPONDENCE 

Dear John and Doreen,

Regarding the article in The Turret-Spring-Summer-2006 on 'RAF on STRIKE 1945'   (Note: THE Turret ran our June 2006 article on the RAF Strike). I am writing on behalf of my father who would like to contribute an article to the monthly newsletter of his experience during the time of the RAF Strike 1945. Any comments that you would like me to pass on I will gladly do so, I know my father will be very interested in anything you advise or ask and you can contact me via this email address.

My father writes:

I was stationed at Abu Sueir Ismalia M.E. Canal Zone. One morning all ground personnel were ordered to assemble in the station cinema to hear grievances etc. When the officer in charge asked for the elected spokesman to stand up and speak all the lights went out. In total pitch black they never did know who their spokesman was.

Another 'moan' was the order to wear best blue after work. As many of the personnel had come through the war via the desert , Greece - Italy, 'Best Blue' was not a priority in winning the war in those areas.

From Cyril Denniss ex 38 Sqdn - Stickle Back Wellingtons - Berka 3 Benghazi - Skipper P.O Densmore - Canadian. I lost touch with him when he was time ex and went home from Foggia - Italy.

I hope this is another aspect of 'The Strike' that will interest you.

 P.S. This strike was reported in a weekly publication at the time called 'John Bull'

Kind regards, 
Jill Smith


Hi from England.
I have just picked up a set of books relating to a L.A.C East F.G 1802582.

I have his flying log stamped as completed training as Air Gunner and Air Bomber effective 23-12-43 from ground instruction school No 6 Mountain View Ontario.
Also at No 9 Air Observer school St John Quebec. I also have his sight log book and an exercise book from training.

What puzzles me is he is a L.A.C Leading Air Craftsman training as a bomber/gunner, has completed his training including observer up to April 1944.
There are no other entries after this. I do not have any other details or names only initials. As all books are R.C.A.F issue I happened across your web site and wondered if anyone could shed light on what happened to Mr East after training. I will admit I have looked through Bomber Command Losses, there are some Lake's mentioned but not with his initials.

Any help or pointers would be appreciated.
thanks

Charles Wheeler
charles.wheeler@btinternet.com 



Subject: Details regarding Lion Squadron #427
Hello to you.  My uncle, Flight Sergeant Air Gunner Bruce Elrick Findlay was a member of this squadron.  Are there records of their flights, logs, diaries that are available to view or buy?  Just wondering if you may know where I can direct my search.  Thank you for your time.

John Findlay
Conservation Officer
Cypress Hills Provincial Park
ph. 403-502-1093



Air Gunner Trophy
 I wonder if  you or your contacts in Canada can help me. The following information is needed for a Black History Month exhibition in Manchester, England. 

Sgt Lincoln Orville Lynch, No 102 Squadron RAF, from Jamaica 
Winner of the Air Gunner Trophy 1944 
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his determination and great skill as an Air gunner in bombing sorties over Germany WW2. 
Sgt L O Orville picture is located on a website called Moving Here located under The Gallery section:  www.movinghere.org.uk

I have been trying to locate any information on the "Air Gunner Trophy", I am trying to reproduce one for the exhibition.
- Does the Air Gunner Trophy still exist?
- What does it look like, any inscriptions on the trophy?
- Are there any pictures of it?
- Do you have any pictures of any other WWII Air force trophies?

Your help on this matter would be much appreciated. 

Regards 
Teresa
Teresa O’Neal
Insurance & Risk Officer
Insurance & Risk Management Group
Room 39b, via door 126
Manchester City Council
PO Box 314
Manchester
M60 2JR


Thanks to Laurin Carlson lscarlson@sasktel.net for the following. 

Regarding your search for a picture of Gerald “Jerry” Mckenna’s grave in Reykjavik, Iceland.

1) The people from Iceland were all from the north west of Iceland, no one was from Reykjavik.

2) I was able to find on the Internet details of his burial in Iceland

OR

Search yourself here        http://www.cwgc.org/debt_of_honour.asp?menuid=14

3) Also the "Maple Leaf Project" has a mandate to photograph all Canadian Military Grave Sites. 
    According to their website all the graves in Iceland have been photographed.

    A search of McKenna in Iceland says photo coming soon   http://www.mapleleaflegacy.org/grave_page.asp?id=94042
 

4) Here is where you can request a photo,  http://www.mapleleaflegacy.org/To_Request_A_Photo.htm

5) Here are all the Canadian War graves in Iceland   http://www.mapleleaflegacy.org/results_page.asp

6) This site tells you that all the War Graves in Iceland have been photographed            http://www.mapleleaflegacy.org/Countries/Iceland.htm

   So the photo that you want should be available. 


 I am writing from Australia and have stumbled upon your website. In your April 2001 edition of Ex Air Gunners SHORT BURSTS, you write about the top secret steam powered Halifax MKIV bomber of WWII.

Recently I was given a WWII flying helmet from my parents for xmas and inscribed on the inside is the writings “S” Sqdn. I have been trying to track the origins of this helmet and in particular what the term S SQDN means.

Your article about steam powered Halifax’s is drawing some debate regarding authenticity. I am asking you if this article is fact or fiction?  I really need to know the origins of this helmet and when I discovered your article I thought I had found the truth…maybe it appears I have not.

If you could please let me know by return email I would be grateful. If it is a hoax then I will need to get back on the discovery trail.

Many thanks in advance for your prompt reply.
Kind Regards,

Peter Lee
Managing Director
02 9798 2022
0409 929 527
www.colefaxchocolates.com.au

Editor: I replied to Peter advising him that the ‘steam powered Halifax’ was really a hoax. But a damn good one! Check it out at http://www.airmuseum.ca/mag/exag0104.html



Dear John and Doreene

I wonder if it would be possible to place a request in your magazine? My uncle served as an Air Gunner on 78 Squadron and I am trying to write a book on the history of the Squadron. Through my research I am aware that a large number of Canadians served on the Squadron and I would love to hear from any ex members of the Squadron as I feel that the more information about the squadron that I can get from "the horses mouth" so to speak the better. I am in contact with a number of ex squadron members primarily bomb aimers and one air gunner who by coincidence is a Canadian. If you can help I would be eternally grateful.

My postal address is as follows:

Captain DP Sheerin MBE MSM
1 (UK) Armoured Division HQ & Signal Regiment
Officers Mess
Wentworth Barracks
British Forces Post Office 15

Many thanks,
Darren


Request from Ted Hackett

I had a call from a gentleman this morning looking for some information on an ex-RCAF member.  The name is Robert Louis MacDonald and he was a WAG.    He was born in 1922 and his wife's name was Agnes.  They have no information regarding Wireless School or Squadron served with.  He did give me a number 48822, which I assume was his service number and I presume he was an Officer. This gentleman was Air Traffic Control from 1953 to 1959 but I don't know where.  He then became a teacher apparently.  One of those cases where he doesn't pass on his experience to his family I guess, I run into that when I visit a school on Remembrance Day.

  Do you have the address for the department in Ottawa that has all that information or do you know where I can find it? 
Ted Hackett
 tedgene@telusplanet.net



Nice September Issue, I sent it off to a couple of friends and to my son in Khandahar, Afghanistan. My only complaint would be the use of the modern day Squadron crest in a story about a wartime unit.  But then, I'm a nitpicker as everyone knows. 
Ted
Editor – Did anyone else notice our error.
It is a wonderful crest.

BOOKS

Immigrants of War

A NEW book recognizing and honouring thousands of lesser-known American soldiers who fought the Nazi threat in World War II has been released, shedding new light on heroism that many have overlooked.

Wally Fydenchuk of Ontario, Canada, is the author of Immigrants of War, a book about Americans who served in the British and Canadian air force before the attack on Pearl Harbour in order to fight in the war. Many of them joined at the risk of imprisonment by their own government for violating the U.S. Neutrality Act. It's a good book, a fascinated read about young Americans deciding to fight the Axis powers before Pearl Harbor.

Many early recruits had to lose their U.S. citizenship because they had to swear an oath to the king. The oath of service was modified for later recruits. 15 thousand Americans joined the Canadian military. About 9,000 of them joined the Air Force. About 1,000 Americans were killed in British and Canadian service, but they are not recognized on many memorials. They were ahead of their times. They didn't wait for their country to declare war. Many memorial sites do not list Americans killed while fighting in a foreign military. Those fellows virtually disappeared off the record books. A lot of these fellows disappeared in the shuffle, yet they were visionaries. They saw the Nazi threat.

At the time, Great Britain and Canada, had begun a recruitment program to draw Americans to join the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Joe Hartshorn, originally from Pennsylvania and now a Florida resident, suggested the title of the book. He flew bombers with Canadian forces during the war and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his valour. His is one of the many stories related in Fydenchuk's book.

Immigrants of War is a companion to Fydenchuk's earlier book, "Before the Battle," which focuses on the history of the old RCAF base. Fydenchuk has self-published the book and it can be ordered by writing to 

W. Peter Fydenchuk, 
RR 1 
Crediton, Ontario Canada, NOM 1MO. 

The cost of a book is $24.95, including postage.


Air Gunner Branch Reports
Northern Alberta Group

Had our luncheon meeting today, fair crowd there about 15  I think counting a guest.  There were three members from the Wartime Aircrew Assoc.  The POWs are no longer going to join us according to Svend.  We are going to go back to meeting on the second Thursday of each month, our original day. 

We had a guest today a Cedric Mah who flew for the Chinese during the war carrying supplies over the "Hump".  He also disposed of a few million dollars in Chinese currency during a stressful moment over the mountains.  I have a copy of his story so I am going to write something up for Short Bursts, with his permission.  I also have some materiel on his late brother who flew on the same operations. 

Re: Memorial Benches at Nanton, Alberta
Darren delivered the benches and they look OK 
On an other subject. We periodically receive e-mail inquiries from persons wanting to find former aircrew members who survived the war. We have practically no sources for tracing the where-a-bouts of such individuals. 

The latest inquiry is from a Scott Johnston, from Aurora, Ontario, who along with his brothers is putting together a website based on his late father's war diary. His father served with 115 Squadron. They are specifically looking for the bomb-aimer, Robert (Bob) Livingstone, (or his family).  Bob Livingstone was originally from Edmonton. 

Ted Hackett.


Northern Saskatchewan Branch

Due to failing health, ‘Smokey’ Robson had to give up the position of Contact Person for the Branch. The current Contact Person is Harry Thompson, 702 Mckercher Dr., Saskatoon, SK  S7H 3W7 Phone: (306) 374-6036.

We thank Smokey for the great work he has done for the Ex-Air Gunner’s Association of Northern Saskatchewan.


Editor’s Report

You will notice that this edition started on a humorous note. It is the funny escapades from our service days that seem to come to the surface.

One day I had to sub for a grade 12 teacher. It was a poetry class and students will do anything to distract a sub just to get away from the lesson. It was November and a chap said, “Mr. Moyles, you were in the war, tell us about your experiences.”
I realized his purpose so I casually said, “oh you would not be interested. All we remember are the gay times.”

There was dead silence. Then the class burst into laughter. I realized that, in the English language, the only constant is change. Gay, to my students, had a totally different connotation. 

Send us your humorous experiences, the “shenanigans” that made life bearable in those uncertain days. For example, here is one that comes to mind.

My Pilot and I (each F/Os) were in a pub in London and met two Canadian Privates on leave from France. When the pub ran out of beer, and called “Time Gentlemen Please”, we moved on looking for a serving pub. The soldiers were having trouble with sore feet so they took off their boots, tied the laces together, and threw them over their shoulders. As they padded along, quite comfortable in their stocking feet, a Military Police van pulled up, two Red Cap Police corporals jumped out and ordered the soldiers into the van. My pilot and I, obligated to come to our countryman’s defence, stepped up and said, “It is quite alright Corporal, they are with us, we will look after them.”

Out came the sticks and before we realized what was happening all four of us were in the paddy-wagon heading for the local lockup. My Pilot and I cooled our heels in a cell for twenty minutes before a British army Captain released us. But the pub-crawl glow had faded and we had to start all over again.

Then there is Member Sandy Sanderson’s story about he and his crew coming into possession of a keg of beer, quite illegally, and rolling it down the street. At each corner they would pop the bung, pour a glass and toast the town. They eventually ended up in the Police Station and, when the Bobby was not looking, Sandy stole the badge off the policeman’s helmet. Sandy, for good luck, wore the police badge on all future missions.

Years later the English Bobby found Sandy in Vancouver (Sandy was then a Vancouver Policeman) and presented him with the helmet. Badge and helmet were reunited.

So lets hear about your shenanigans. There are a thousand stories out there. Share them with your colleagues before these memories are lost.

Keep well.

John & Doreene Moyles
Editors.


LAST POST ~ Charlie Yule, Editor: yulec@mts.net
We have been informed of the passing of 
JAMES H. FLICK, MBR. #0638, SUNDRE, AB on August 16/06 at the age of 81.  It is believed Jim was traveling east by auto on his way to an intended visitation and fishing outing with his brother when he became involved in an accident.

Services were held in Sundre, AB August 22 with cremation following.  Interment to be at Woodlawn Cemetery, Guelph, ON Sept. 2nd, 2006.

Jim enlisted on April 16th 1942 in Hamilton, ON and attended Toronto Manning Depot.  Selected for Gunnery Training he was posted to Belleville, ON for Initial Training School #5.  Then it was on to #9 B&G at Mont Joli, PQ.  Following completion of training and receiving his AG Brevet he was posted overseas in March '43 to #23 OTU on Wimpy's (Wellington's) thence to 1659 Unit for conversion onto Halifax i and ii's.

On his third trip with #405 (8 Group) PF trip - which was to Berlin in August '43, his aircraft was badly damaged but managed to make a forced landing in the Baltic Sea off the south coast of Sweden.  Interned he was returned to England March 16/44.  He was then posted to 432 Squadron, 6 Group, where he finished his tour and returned to Canada November '44.  He then became involved with Gunnery Instruction at Mountain View until discharged in Sept. '45.  In 1946 he re-enlisted in Winnipeg and after a years training period in Trenton he became a Weapons Technician (Air).  His following service was in CFB Rivers, MB, Chatham, NB (twice), Summerside, PEI (twice), Greenwood, NS, 3F Wing, Zweibrucken, Germany, and Camp Borden, ON. where he instructed in Explosives Specialty.

For about the last 20 years of service he was involved with EOD (Explosives Disposal) attending courses in the UK and USA.  After almost 32 years of service, Jim retired at Chatham on October 4th, 1974 having been commissioned during his wartime service as J90882.


F. ALEX McQUARRIE, #0077, CALGARY, AB:  Alex passed away at the age of 85 on September 25th/06.  He enlisted in the RCAF as R102405 at Regina, SK March 22/44 and was posted for Manning Depot at Penhold, AB where he was selected for WAG training.  He attended #3 Wireless School in Winnipeg on Course #25 and upon completion was posted to #5 Bombing and Gunnery at Dafoe, SK - Course #27, where he received his WAG Brevet and Sergeants Stripes.

Overseas for OTU training on Hampden's at Cottesmore, Alex as then posted to #424 Squadron, Topcliffe, 6 Group, where he and his crew converted to Wellington's (Wimpy's).  On Operations April 19th 1943, they were shot down on their 9th Op (Frankfort) and interned as POW's until being liberated May 2nd/45 and returned to the UK May 4/45.  He was discharge with the rank of Flying Officer - J96427, on October 5th, 1945.

In addition to being a Life Member of the Ex Air Gunner's Association of Canada, he was also a Life Member of the RCAF National POW Association and the Aircrew Association of Southern Alberta.

..
Regional Meetings


Southern Ontario Chapter
Royal Canadian Legion
Wilson Branch 527
948 Sheppard Avenue West
Downsview,Ontario
We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the Legion hall 1:00 pm. 
No meetings July, August, September.
Contact persons: 
Ken Hill  ~  President ~  905.789.1912
Bill Milne,  Secretary,
392 St. Clements Ave., 
Toronto, Ont. M5M 1M1 

Winnipeg
Location - Royal Canadian Legion Br.#4 St. James Legion.
Date - Third Thursday of each month.
Time - Luncheon meeting (provide your own lunch).
Contact Member - Charlie Yule Ph. (204) 254-6264.

Northern Saskatchewan
Location - Lynx Wing Ave. C North, Saskatoon.
Date - Third Monday of the month.
Time - Luncheon meetings.
Contact Member:
Harry Thompson, 702 Mckercher Dr., Saskatoon, SK  S7H 3W7 Phone: (306) 374-6036

Northern Alberta Branch
Location - Norwood Branch 178, 11150 – 82 Street, Edmonton, AB
Date -  The first Thursday of each month.
Time - 12:00 hours.
Contact Members - E. H. "Ted" Hackett (780)962-2904
or Sven Jensen (780)465-7344.

Southern Alberta
Location - Royal Canadian Legion  #264 
Kensington, Calgary
Date: Second Monday of each month.
Time - 11:30 hours.
Note: 
October meeting time moved to third Monday. 
Also there are no meetings in July and August, however, 
a Barbecue is usually held  at Larry Robinson's ranch in Okatoks during that time.

Contact Person and President
Larry Robinson 
Box 179
Okotoks, AB   T0L 1T0
(403) 938-4105


British Columbia Branch 
Meeting time and local: 2nd Tuesday of each month at 11:30 
Firefighters Social & Athletic Club, 
6515 Bonsor Avenue, 
Burnaby, B.C. V5H 3E8 
Super eating facilities 
Contact person - Dave Sutherland       Ph. 604-431-0085 
E-mail distilledwater4@shaw.ca

Members across the Country are encouraged to 
send current information regarding 
regular meeting places, dates, and Contact Members, to

John and Doreene Moyles, 
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St., 
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112

Email moyles@sasktel.net


Members are requested to send their experiences, articles, anecdotes, pictures, etc., to John Moyles and I will forward them to our Web Master in Brandon. Articles and Last Post items will be deleted from the page each month after the designated Member in each region has had an opportunity to copy the material for their Members. Notices of deceased Members are to be sent to Charlie Yule who is still our 'Keeper of the Rolls'. 

This is your SHORT BURSTS with no printing or mailing costs, and no deadlines! The Brandon Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum has agreed to host our AG page. However, as it costs the Museum $35.00 per month to maintain the Web Page, it is suggested that each Ex-AG group contribute periodic donations to the Museum to help off-set this expense, and to enhance the work they are doing. 

We thank our Web Master, Bill Hillman, for his volunteer time and expertise.

Donations can be made directly to: 

CATP Museum Inc.
Box 3, Grp. 520, RR5,
Brandon, MB   R7A 5Y5
 Phone: (204) 727-2444
 
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