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.
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
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
But that is another story.
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
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
“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
The training pamphlet, Gunnery Sense, was published
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
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
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.
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
57 Rescue (Canada) Members and Supporters,
Please note that Progress Report No. 12A (July 11, 2006) is now on our
official website at
Thanks for all your interest and support to save RCAF Halifax LW170.
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.
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'
Hi from England.
I have just picked up a set of books relating to a L.A.C East F.G
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
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
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.
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
Cypress Hills Provincial Park
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.
Insurance & Risk Officer
Insurance & Risk Management Group
Room 39b, via door 126
Manchester City Council
PO Box 314
Thanks to Laurin Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Search yourself here
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
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
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
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.
02 9798 2022
0409 929 527
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
British Forces Post Office 15
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?
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.
Editor – Did anyone else notice our error.
It is a wonderful crest.
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
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
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,
Crediton, Ontario Canada, NOM 1MO.
The cost of a book is $24.95, including postage.
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.
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.
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.
John & Doreene Moyles
LAST POST ~ Charlie Yule,
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.