A LESSON IN LINE-SHOOTING
In April, Members, Ted Hackett and Svend Jensen, gave your Editor a
tour of the Edmonton Aircraft Meuseum. When we retired to the coffee shop,
I was introduced to a volunteer busy filling coffee filters and getting
ready for the coffee break crowd, a Mr. Cedric “Ced” Mah. To make conversation,
Ced asked me what types of aircraft I flew in. I said that my first operational
aircraft was the Blackburn Shark on pontoons, out of Prince Rupert, B.C.
Ced looked at me and said, “we used to watch you take off and land in the
harbour. We thought they were the biggest aircraft.”
Cedric "Ced" Mah and your Editor
In front of Marie "Nipper" Wright's Anson
In those days Prince Rupert was a small town and I immediately felt
a bond between us. As I’m an incorigable line-shooter, I launched into
stories about the old Sharks. What I didn’t know, but learned later,
I was shooting a line to Cedric “Ced” Mah, US Air Medal, D.F.C., China
National Aviation Corporation, who had completed 337 missions over the
Burma Hump, supplying aid to Chinese forces. Warning, before shooting a
line make sure you know at whom you are shooting.
We thank CNAC Web Director, Tom O. Moore Jr. http://www.cnac.org/webeditor01.htm
for granting us permission to publish a few highlights from Ced’s wartime
experiences gleaned from Web site http://www.geocities.com/cedmah/
Cedric Mah US Air Medal, D.F.C
General Albert C. Wedemeyer, American chief of staff to Chinese Nationalist
leader Chiang Kai-shek, said, "flying the hump was the foremost and by
far the most dangerous, difficult and historic achievement of the entire
war." After the Burma road fell into enemy hands in the spring of 1942,
the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC), formed by American aircraft
manufacturer Curtiss-Wright in association with the Chinese Government,
was charged with flying supplies over the Hump into occupied China. A tour
of duty officially comprised 80 such missions. Two Canadian brothers, Albert
and Cedric Mah, made 420 and 337 round trips respectively.
At age 17 Cedric Mah enrolled at the California Flyer’s Aviation College
and later took advanced instrument rating courses at Fort Worth , Texas.
In 1944 Ced left for Dinjan in India’s Assam Province to join his brother,
Captain Albert Mah who was already serving with CNAC. Aircraft flown were
the Dakota and Curtis C46.
When flying the Hump, sudden strong gusts could rip off a wing or flip
big aircraft on their backs. On one crossing Mah’s load of lead ingots
was bouncing up and down like corks in the ocean. The ingots tore holes
in the roof of the aircraft and then embedded themselves in the floor.
They hauled ammunition, petrol, gunpowder, and TNT, as well as millions
of dollars in Chinese currency, printed in the USA. On the return trip
out of China they carried cargoes such as mercury, tin, lead, zinc, wolframite
and hog bristles in their hard-worked aircraft.
The Hump Route soon became known as the "graveyard of the air." It was
extremely dangerous flying in the high mountains, battling variable
weather conditions, cumulo-nimbus clouds, jet streams, and Japanese fighters.
At flight altitude pilots ran into 100–200 m.p.h. winds. If they crashed
in the jungles there were head hunters or enemy soldiers to finish them
off. The US Government offered highly prized bags of salt for every downed
airman returned alive to his base.
In August 1945 Cedric Mah’s most memorable adventure came when he had
to jettison $866 million in Chinese currency. The money, minted in USA
for the National Government, was destined for the Bank of China in Chongjing,
to replace worthless Japanese currency should VJ-Day arrive. When he was
transporting the money, his C-46 ran into trouble. Ice started to build
up on the wings and a hydraulic line sprung a leak, causing part of the
undercarriage to drop, creating considerable drag. Then one of the two
As the aircraft plummeted from 22,000 to 12,000 ft. Mah fought his way
to the cargo hold and jettisoned 48 of the 52 bundles of currency. Four
bundles were held back in case they had to make a forced landing, and if
they survived, the money might buy their freedom.
At 10,000 feet Mah tried to restart the dead engine. It popped, backfired,
and miraculously started. The jettisoned money was never found. Cedric
wrote to his brother, “we traded $866 million for a $300,000 aircraft and
our lives; a fair price.”
Eight months after Japan’s official surrender aboard the Battleship
Missouri September 2, 1945, Ced took a short vacation home, but returned
to fly with CATC for the next three years supplying the Nationalist troops,
until China finally fell to the Communists.
On one occasion, Ced landed at an airstrip in Tuanuan just as enemy
shells fell within range. He left one engine running while ground crews
unloaded the aircraft, and dived for a dugout to avoid the shrapnel. When
the aircraft was ready for take off, he raced from the dugout and jumped
in. He started the aircraft down the runway while cutting in the second
Following the Communist take-over in China, Ced came home, having logged
6000 flying hours, and became a bush pilot on the West Coast.
did not come for members of the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers,
until 1991, and for the former CNAC pilots until 1995. In 1997 the US Government
belatedly acknowledged the Mah brothers for their service in China during
the Second World War. They finally received an honourable discharge, the
US Air Medal, and the highest American air award, the Distinguished Flying
Cross. Earlier the Chinese Government had awarded them the Hump Victory
Ced Mah says, “for those who died flying the Hump, the most dangerous
air route in the world, we must pause and reflect. Their bones lie white
and shimmering in the vastness of the Trans-Himalayas. We who winged beside
you shall not forget.”
If you are ever at the Edmonton Air Museum be sure to look up Ced. Also
check out his web site at http://www.geocities.com/cedmah/
Just don’t shoot any lines, or ask him if he remembers where he dropped
D-Day Dakota KG395 continued from May /07 Short
From Goose Bay the Dak was ferried to Ottawa, assigned the Canadian
Government call sign VCDHL, assigned to the RCAF, serial No. 12919. The
Dak was used as an instrumental aircraft until being declared surplus to
the Canadian Air Force needs in 1970
Enter Don Brooks.
In 1973 Crown
Assets Disposal Corporation sold the Dakota to Owen Wilson of Calgary.
The Dakota never received Canadian registration (Wilson obtained the registration
CZCR but it was not taken up) and was eventually sold to Energy Incorporated
of Corpus Cristi, Texas, in July 1985 after being parked for some time
in Themopolis, Wyoming. During July 1986, after being Basler Flight Service
purchased the aircraft and registered it N99FS. That same year Basler sold
the plane to Flight Service Incorporated of Panama City, Florida. Current
owner Don Brooks of Douglas, Georgia, purchased the Dakota in March 1989.
The Greenland Expedition
During 1942, Operation Bolero began as a massive build up and movement
of aircraft and supplies to Europe as the United States entered the war.
On 15 July 1942, six P38 Lightnings and two B17 Flying Fortresses were
flying the perilous Northern ferry route when bad weather forced the fuel
starved formation to crash land on the Greenland ice cap. This route took
aircraft to England via Canada, Greenland, and Iceland. Ironically, this
was the same route flown by KG395 in 1944 on her way to war. Nearly 50
years later – in 1989, 1990, and 19922 – N99FS was utilized by the Greenland
Expeditionary Society to help recover one of the P 38s from 268 ft. of
ice, which had entombed the fighter since its crash landing.
Don obtained military surplus skis from an operator at Yellow Knife,
Northwest Territories, and fitted them to his Dakota for landing on the
snow and ice. The Dakota received a coat of highly visible paint to help
spotters find the aircraft if they had to put down.
Don with his highly visible Gooney Bird in Greenland
The P38 was recovered and is flying in better than
new condition today.
Return to Normandy
In 1994 Don had his Dakota made ready for a return trip to Normandy,
France, for the 50th. Anniversary celebration of D-Day, which included
26 Normandy Veterans jumping from KG395. The Gooney Bird’s high visibility
paint disappeared under a fresh coat of Olive Drab and Neutral Grey camouflage.
The Dakota was put back in its original markings it carried during wartime,
including the serial KG395 and D-Day invasion stripes. A static jump line
was installed to original specifications.
There was a delay at Gander Newfoundland due to a blown engine however,
with the help of Basler Flight Services, a replacement engine was flown
in and installed, and Dakota KG395 continued on to Glasgow, Scotland.
On June 3rd. they were scheduled to fly to Caen, France for a rehearsal
flight over the drop zone at Sainte-Mere-Eglise. KG395 was once more back
in its element as she crossed the English Channel and headed over Utah
Beach en route to Caen. A dry run was made over the drop zone while US
Army Rangers inspected the static line and got a feel for the aeroplane
On June 4th. The ceiling was low and the winds were gusting to
50 kns. The army had set a limit of 3400 ft. minimum. After questionable
weather the day before, fate smiled on the mission again and June 5th.
Dawned with calm winds and occasional cumulus clouds. The 27 Veteran D-Day
jumpers met the crew at the Dakota, and their excitement was evident as
they were instantly transformed back into their younger days. Once airborne
with Pat Epps and Bob Harless at the controls, they were obviously overcome
with various emotions as the Dakota mumbling along, brought back many memories.
Veterans preparing for the jump.
After two passes over the drop zone, all the jumpers had departed the
Dakota , completing their historic mission once again. This particular
flight set a world record of age for one flight, totalling 1875.46 total
years, averaging 72.13 years of age each! The mission was a huge success
and the whole world watched and read about it. Don had achieved what he
had set out to do, honour his father, who was a Gunner on a B-17 Flying
Fortress, as well as all other Veterans who fought in WW II.
Currently, the Dakota can be seen resting on the Ramp at Douglas. She
still sports her Olive Drab and D-Day stripes, although the humid Georgia
weather has somewhat taken its toll on the paint. Don hopes to have the
aircraft refinished in the near future. The static line and jump seats
are still installed, and the plane still frequents air shows around the
country. It is certainly a flying time capsule and is quite popular with
WW II re-enactors.
Don probably could not have picked a more historic Gooney Bird to purchase,
although he has also forged quite an interesting civilian history with
The following web site contains excellent material on DC 47 aircraft.
Photo by Max Haynes - MaxAir2Air.com
"Probably the most memorable thing about the [Dakota] was
the smell. The odour of the leather mixed with hydraulic fluid made a perfume
second to none. [The plane] always treated me well, unlike some of the
other birds I've flown, and my memories of it are all good."
~ Tex Gehman, Winnipeg, Canada
Gooney Bird; Super DC-3 (R4D-8);
Tabby (NATO code name for the Showa L2D);
Cab (NATO code name for Lisunov Li-2);
Dumbo (SC-47 Search-and Rescue variant);
Sister Gabby/Bullshit Bomber (EC-47 dispensing propaganda-leaflets in Vietnam);
Spooky/Puff the Magic Dragon (AC-47 Gunship);
The Placid Plodder;
Old Bucket Seats;
Dakleton (South African C-47s which replaced their Avro Shackletons),
Vomit Comet (Nickname used by US Army paratroops during the Normandy invasion.)
RETURN FIRE ON D-DAY DAKOTS KG395 ARTICLE
Dear Mr. Moyles,
Through Mr. Clarence Dixon I received a printed version of "Short Bursts",
the newsletter of the Ex Air Gunners. I noticed the web address and just
also visited your excellent airmuseum website.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Arie-Jan van Hees, 47
years 'old', amateur historian concentrating on the involvement of the
RAF in Operation "Market Garden", and Club Secretary of the RAF Association,
Amsterdam Branch / Club Limburg.
In 2000 I privately published my first book Tugs and Gliders to Arnhem
(now sold out), followed in 2004 by Green On! The Story of Arnhem
Re-supply, September 1944. (400 pages / 600 photographs). Out of a
1000 copies printed some 600 have now been sold of this book.
In addition to this, together with Mr. Alan Hartley (chairman of the
Down Ampney Association) and the Market Garden foundation, I am one of
the three-man team who took the initiative to have the Arnhem Aircrew Memorial
raised and unveilded in the grounds of the Airborne Museum Hartenstein
in Arnhem/Oosterbeek on 15 September 2006.
As Clarence mentioned on page 2 of your newsletter I supplied him with
the info on Dakota KG395. This article was again supplied to me by one
of the members of the Royal Netherlands Historical Flight who piloted one
of the Harvards while flying next to C-47 "Drag 'Em Oot" during the 15
September 2006 flypast over the Arnhem Aircrew Memorial. It's a small world....
As a "Thank you" for all my actions over the past years my son Jeroen
of 9 years old, myself and my friend Frans Ammerlaan of the Market Garden
Foundation (have a look at their Digital Monument on www.marketgarden.com)
were given a flight in Mr. Paddy Green's C-47 "Drag 'Em Oot" (in WWII colours).
This took place on a historic date, 17 September (2006) while the Remembrance
Service was going on at the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek, where so many
commonwealth aircrew are buried.
It was quite an experience to be in this historic aircraft while it
flew at treetop height giving a salute to all attendants of the service,
and of course, to our fallen heroes who died for our freedom.
I have attached a few photographs for you. Please feel free to use them
for your website or newsletter. If you would like to have some more do
let me know.
Please feel free to publish my name, address and website to your readers.
I will only be too pleased to answer any questions with regard to the
involvement of the Royal Air Forces in Operation Market. I would love to
hear from veterans on their experiences. In the future, when I will cease
my research activities, my complete files will be deposited at the Royal
Netherlands Military History Institute. So readers of "Short Bursts" please
do not hesitate to send me your reader's questions or stories.
Information on my book "Green On!" can be found at http://www.rafarnhemresupply.nl
This website will be updated shortly, including material on the Arnhem
Aircrew Memorial and including a large article on the Arnhem re-supply
operations which will soon be published in a forthcoming issue of Britain's
top selling aviation monthly "FlyPast".
I trust to have been of service to you with the enclosed information
and look forward to hear from you.
Arie-Jan van Hees
Club Secretary of the RAF Association, Amsterdam Branch / Club Limburg
Dakotas were used in Canada, post war,
doing Profile Recording.
Here is one of our Members,
a young, handsome, camera operator,
Ted Hackett doing profile recording in Dak. KN277
borrowed from 412 Squadron, 1954.
Ted also flew in
Dakotas KG441, KG455, KG634.
At Cold Lake he flew in
10917, KK160, KG973, KN427, and 656.
Could any of our readers tell us
to what wartime squadrons these a/c belonged?
Ted is most likely saying,
“damn, it is way past my coffee break.”
know this RCAF WAG?
The only information we have is as follows.
His Christian name may be George.
He was from Ontario.
In 1945 he was stationed at RAF Melksham,
a wireless training school in the UK.
If you have any information on this gentleman,
please contact your Editor at:
435 Froom Cres.
S4N 1T5 CANADA
Dear Mr Moyles,
I am writing an article about an Australian airman, A.Heymanson,
who trained as a Wireless/Air gunner at Mossbank -Saskatchwan, Canada
as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in 1943.
Could I please ask for your help. I am looking not for the history of
the gunnery school but the actual mechanics of the training. Windage, fall
of shot, deflection etc. In other words, how to shoot. Sgt A. Heymanson
eventually joined 195 Sqn as a top turret gunner in a Lancaster.
May I please ask if you can direct me to an internet site or any other
source where I might find the relevant information. Any assistance you
can give will be most appreciated.
Ed. I’ve wracked my brain – what little I have left – and cannot
recall a manual covering this at #2 B&G Mossbank, during November 1941.
All I can remember is trying not to throw up in the Fairie Battle, and
not to lose my hat to the slipstream while firing at the drogue, as we
didn’t have enough helmets to go around. Can anyone help Ken?
Letter to our Web Master, Bill Hillman.
I was very interested in the photo of the Blackburn Shark in your Oct
2001 "Short Bursts" online newsletter. http://www.airmuseum.ca/mag/exag0110.html
I believe that the pilot in the photo is my Uncle Gerald McKenna. His
flight log indicates that he flew Shark # 523 (indicated on the tail of
the aircraft) on Sept 26th and 27th, 1942 with F/S Hankinson and
F/S Moyles as shown in the photo. Gerald also flew with Sgt. Cousins (
the photographer is Tommy Cousins) on 3 flights in March 1942. I've attached
a scan of the relevant page of his flight log.
Gerald was killed in a crash in a Canso in Iceland on Dec. 19th, 1944.
Do you have any more information about the photo?
56 Spadina Ave.,
Ed. Stefan Mckenna has just come into possession of his Uncle’s log
book. I have written Stefan and given him names and phone numbers of WAGS
who are mentioned in the log book as well as information regarding 7BR
Squadron during the time his uncle, Gerald McKenna, flew with the Squadron.
If any of our readers knew Gerald McKenna, Pilot, 7BR and 162 Squadrons,
give Stefan a call.
Another Odd Bomb Story
I enjoyed the "odd bombs" stories in your April issue of Short Bursts.
Here's another one, from Art Crighton of Edmonton....
Art Crighton, who marks his 90th birthday on D-Day, June 6, 2007, provided
the following "odd bomb" story. Art was a Wellington pilot during the war,
shot down and spent over three years in Stalag Luft III. There he put his
musical background to work, teaching music and conducting an airmen's orchestra.
Following the war, he took a degree in music and began teaching at the
University of Alberta.
In the years following, he completed a master's degree and then a doctorate
in music, retiring as a professor at the U of A. I first met Art in 1956
when I joined the U of A RCAF Squadron as a Flight Cadet in the URTP program,
having spent two years in high school as an airman in aero engine mechanics
with 418 City of Edmonton Reserve Squadron. Art was an officer with university
squadron, eventually reaching the rank of Lt. Col. and was the last commanding
officer when the squadron disbanded in the 1960s.
I hadn't seen Art for some 43 years, until I was invited to attend a
regular monthly lunch meeting of an Edmonton group of RCAF veterans who
are former PoW's, escapees or evaders from the Second World War. I was
invited after my story of my uncle and all crew lost with RAF 101 Squadron
appeared in the Edmonton Journal. That story is on the internet at http://members.shaw.ca/johnchalmers/LM479/
Since then I have joined this great group of veterans many times at
their lunch meetings and have been pleased to be their guest speaker on
some occasions, talking about the RCAF and aviation research I am doing.
Over the past three and a half years, Art has become a good friend, someone
I know far better now than I did when I was a Flight Cadet and he was an
officer in my university squadron!
In the Spring 2007 issue of Airforce magazine, Art contributed an article
about his views of war and some of his prison camp experiences, entitled
"A Kriegie Remembers."
Here is his "odd bomb" story...
My "odd bomb" story is perhaps just an odd event. It developed from
my father's effort to ease my loneliness from home -- the Saturday edition
of the Calgary Herald. He was concerned about my journey to England to
join a squadron of ill-fated Wellington bombers threatening the Third Reich.
Hitler had turned his attention from the dismal Isle of Britain to engage
the forces of Russia. My duty as second pilot in a wavering Wimpy was to
distribute leaflets to the peasants below. This assumed management of the
bomber's flare chute. Not a challenging assignment after one has learned
to "extend the chute" so that leaflets will go down, not up to plaster
the walls of the Wimpy!
Duty accomplished on frequent occasions when I delivered a western Canadian
view of the war -- the latest Saturday edition of the Calgary Herald --
generously supplied by my father. "Odd bombs away!"
Art Crighton lives at 8903 - 180 St. NW, Edmonton AB T5T 0Y3
Our good contributor to Short Bursts, Ross Hamilton, requested we insert
a blurb asking for information on PRU Units, World War II.
John, a favour from you.
In the current issue of "Airforce" Mag. there is an article having to
do with the PRU Sqdns. in the RCAF. The writer has been in touch, and is
being encouraged to proceed with a book he has started on this topic--
particularly as regards the RCAF- PRU's which, until now have been ignored.
I met up with some post-war, but have lost track.
Can you send out a "Mayday" to all & sundry who may still have contact
with any old PRU pilots.. (Spitfires & Mustangs) We need Sqdn. numbers,
contacts, e-mail addresses-- anything to help the chap get this thing under
way. He is the author of the "Airforce" article, and has already done much
initial work, but now needs some "First-hand" input from those who were
there. Many thanks.
Ross & Evelyn
Ed. Showing my ignorance, which is not hard, I asked Ross the meaning
of PRU. PMUs I understand .
Here is Ross’s caustic reply:
Hi John and Doreen. Thanks for yours of today. (Why didn’t you ask Doreene?
She knows what PRUs are!)
In the event, it is "Photo Reconnaissance Units".. the guys flying
Spitfires and Mustangs photographing the enemy positions et al. Particularly
prior to D-Day. While the RAF instituted their own PR units, the RCAF also
created one or two, but they were never recognized for the great work they
The object here, John, is to try and locate some of these pilots. As
mentioned, the author of the article in "Airforce" is writing a book about
our RCAF guys primarily, and needs much input from any who are still with
us, simply what I had in my e-mail to you. A "Shot In The Dark", but perhaps
we can get the story told at long last. O.K.?
Personally, I knew two PRU pilots post-war... one S/L Jack Watts DSO,
whom I have long lost contact with, and a second chap who was with my firm,
one F/L Ralph Ritchie who, sadly, passed away at age 59. A good friend
of many years. He flew Spitfire MK-X1Vs and Mustangs with one of the Squadrons
-- 414, RCAF.
As mentioned, the detail in my (first) e-mail is about all that
is needed. (Doreen will know!) Per Ardua, Ross & Evelyn
If any reader can throw light on the history of RCAF PRU units, give
Ross a shout. firstname.lastname@example.org
Voices of THE DONEGAL CORRIDOR
By Joe O’Loughlin
Nonsuch Publishing Limited
73 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2, Ireland.
ISBN 1 84588 526 0
9” x 6 ½” Soft cover 94 pgs.
52 pictures. Price 11.49 pounds
At the outbreak
of WW II the British asked Eamond DeValera to grant them permission to
use the West Coast ports of the Irish Free State. He refused, as he did
not want to violate their neutrality. However, DeValera did agree to Allied
aircraft flying over a narrow strip of County Donegal, to give the Coastal
Command Squadrons direct Westerly access to the Atlantic convoy routes.
This flyway became known as The Donegal Corridor. DeValera also approved
of an RAF rescue launch to operate off the West Coast of the Corridor,
on the understanding that the craft should be fitted out like a fishing
vessel and the crew should wear civilian clothing.
Joe O’Louglin was only a boy during the war but, living in County Fermanagh,
he watched the air traffic of Coastal Command Squadrons stationed in Northern
Ireland as they flew the Donegal Corridor, and witnessed some of the crashes.
Joe has put together a documentary that gives the reader information
and circumstances regarding aircrew who were killed in Northern Ireland,
and memorial cairns he helped sponsor on crash sites. But the main theme
of this work is the locating of relatives and loved ones of those lost
so many years ago, so meaningful ceremonies could be conducted. In many
cases the families had only received an official telegram from the War
Ministry, or a letter from a Squadron Commander or Padre, but they were
never told the circumstances surrounding the death of their loved ones.
The following is only one example of how the author brought the complete
story and closure to one family.
Norman Muffitt, who has been a contributor to Short Bursts, was only
one year and five months old when his father, Ted Muffitt, Captain of Catalina
FP130, was killed when their aircraft failed to return from a mission off
the West Coast of Donegal, in November 1943. Only the telegram of regret
Sixty years later, through much research, and confirmed by another crew,
it was determined that, when Captain Muffitt released the depth charges
50’ above the target, they exploded on contact with the water destroying
aircraft and crew. Depth charges were supposed to sink 20 feet into the
water before detonating, however, due to faulty (or improperly set) detonators,
the charges exploded prematurely on contact.