Halifax – Skill testing question:
Where was the camera located?
RHYMES OF REASON
Second World War veteran hopes words will bring home horrors of war
By Ajay Bhardwaj – Staff writer Edmonton Sunday Sun Nov. 11, 2001
George Olson with copy of No Place to Hide
There is nothing glorious or glamorous about war, says second World War Veteran George Olson, who hopes his book of poems will drive the point home with today’s youngsters.
Olson served two years as a gunner on Mitchell bombers in the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed in England during the war. In the wake of September 11 terrorist attack on he U.S.A, George hopes No Place to Hide, a book of more than 50 poems and limericks about his war experiences, emphasizes the horrors of war to a new generation.
“I did it in an effort to have the youngsters of today realize war is horrible.” Says George who was born in Chipman, 75 km East of Edmonton. “War is as terrible now as it was then. It is not glamorous.”
George was 18 when he enlisted in 1943. Serving as a gunner on planes that flew bombing missions over Europe, his was a highly dangerous task: indeed, three in four Second World War gunners were killed in action.
September 1944 ~ L to R
Cyrille “Cy” Poissant, Peter “Doc” Ryan, Fred “Bing” Bing, George “Ole” Olson
While the air gunners were easy targets for enemy fighter planes. Gunners manned their weapons from cold, plexiglass-fronted bubbles in the nose, rear, belly and top of the plane.
“You didn’t think you were going to survive,” George recalls, “ I was always afraid of being wounded and bleeding to death.”
To fight off fear, George made up poems in his head. When he returned to base he would write them down. “You couldn’t show emotion, you couldn’t show fear or else they would write in you’re log book, ‘lack of moral fibre.” George said, “The poems were almost like a diary.”
He flew on D-Day with a crew who had already seen other gunners killed. War reporters from he western powers were clamouring to go on the raids and parachutes were snapped up quickly. (At times) George did not get one.
In total George was part of 48 raids over enemy territory. “Luck,” he says describing how he got through them all. “We beat the law of averages.”
On the last mission, he recalls, his Mitchell bomber got shot up. The windshield collapsed in the pilot’s face and the co-pilot had to land the lane. The bombardier had to hand-crank the landing gear down.
Doctors found George’s nerves were frayed and grounded him. He later discovered the bomber was shot with 96 bullet holes.
He returned to Canada and farmed for four years before going to work for a construction company.
Four years ago, George’s brother-in-law, Loris Koch, saw George reciting poetry to four grand-nephews and niece. “That opened the floodgate,” Koch says.. “He couldn’t stop writing.”
They formed a company and published 1000 copies of the book. George picked up the love of poetry from his grandfather, George Chapman, in his childhood in Chipman. There was little for children to do during the depression so George took to reading poetry in the local school’s library. Rudyard Kipling was his favourite.
Cyrille “Cy” Poissant, Peter “Doc” Ryan, Fred “Bing” Bing, George “Ole” Olson ~ 2002
George still writes poetry. He recently published a book of cat poems called Feline Fantasies and Cat Tales. But his war poems remain his pride and joy. In some ways it’s a method of closure – you can talk about it now,” said George who now lives in Abbottsford, B.C. “If that book brings the horrors of war to light, I am happy. I wouldn’t want it to happen again.”
No Place to Hide – A collection of wartime poems written by George (Ole) Olson during his tour of Operations from 1943 to 1945.
123 pages – 5 ½ x 8 ¼ Soft cover. Six illustrations
Price - $10.00 Can.
LORAL FAMILY GROUP
P.O. Box 4810
Edmonton, AB T6E 5G6
Apt. 117 - 2487 Countess St.,
Abbotsford, BC. V2T 5L9
Ph. (604) 504-1768
This is a book you ‘literally’ can’t put down. As mentioned in the above article, George Olson, 98 Squadron, Dunsfold, Surry, kept a record of many operational experiences during his WW11 Air Force career – in poetic form. Jotting down these poems after each experience gives them an authentic and nostalgic impact describing the emotions, uncertainty and fear, that can never be dredged by recollections recorded years after the fact.
What impressed me, besides the poetry, is the way the book has been organized. In the first section the author sets out the “Inspiration” for each poem, e.g. the poem entitled No Place to Hide was conceived during a raid on a heavy 105mm gun emplacement at Boulogne, France, where we had to fly through some very heavy flak. At the time I also thought of comments that I had heard such as, “you fly-boys have it easy compared to the foot soldier” and wishing I could take some of those detractors along on a bombing mission, making them realize that we had no place to hide and that we could not run away, but had to take what was thrown at us.
This section on “inspiration” is followed by the many poems. Then, to validate these experiences, the author has included his complete log book which records the training and operational flights referred to in his poetic memories.
I guarantee that the sharing of these poems will put any airman back in time recalling his own operational sorties and especially the Air Gunners, who will share the turret experiences with the poet, George Olson.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share one poem with you. The following was inspired by a War Correspondent’s photograph of George just before his 13th. Mission.
I highly recommend this work and am proud to have it on my bookshelf. Perchance my children and grandchildren will read it and gain a greater insight into the horrors of war.
I was down at the crew room, in the late afternoon,
We’d fly that evening on mission number thirteen
When a war correspondent came up to me and said
“Your Canadian shoulder patch I have just seen”
“I represent the Edmonton Journal” he now said
“A picture of you and your bomber I’d like to take”
So out we went to where ‘Walaroo Warrior’ sat
Standing beside our bomber I posed for his sake
After the picture was snapped I went back inside
Now wondering if mission thirteen I’d survive
Had I hexed the mission with that photograph?
Would I beat superstition and come back alive?
At eleven forty-five our bomber took to the sky
To drop flares for mosquito bombers we went
It’s a dangerous mission for over target you stay
Until everyone of your flares has been spent
Luckily I, from mission thirteen returned
So that dreaded thirteenth was now done
And that picture of me before taking off
Will be a reminder of the jinx overcomeJune 28 1944Reviewed by John Moyles
THE COMMONWEALTH AIR TRAINING PLAN MUSEUM
C.A.T.P. Museum, Brandon, Manitoba
I am writing to introduce myself as the new President of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (CATPM), [Brandon Manitoba]
A Message from Our New President:
I feel a bit like the new “Wing Commander” promoted to a senior position by attrition of his “Senior Officers,” when he would rather be flying. I suppose however that this is a normal state of affairs. I do not come from an “armed services” background. My father and uncles served in WW11. I spent time as a young boy visiting military bases and have always had a love of aircraft – although some may call this an affliction. As I became aware of the needs of the CATPM, I began to volunteer whenever I had spare time. It was then that I realized the dedication of the people who started this organization is truly commendable.
I often wonder why so little is known about the “Plan.” During my youth as a “baby boomer,” WW11 was considered a recent event. Those who experienced the events of WW11, and survived, needed and wanted to get on with life and, as a result, the Plan has not been well covered in our current history texts. It seems that history does not become a matter of record until several generations have passed … by then the picture is dim. I have come to the conclusion hat we must record, preserve, and tell this story now.
History has always been the mirror in which we see ourselves reflected. The surface of the mirror gets cloudy with time. It is not an easy thing to stand here today looking at a past I did not experience, and use that mirror to shine light on the future.
It has often been said that history repeats itself. Let us pray that statement is not true.. I believe that by doing a good job of following our museums purpose, philosophy and mission we will be able to provide vantage point from which we can view the future.
Canada has a rich heritage in which the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) played a truly significant part. The Museum’s planning and fund raising committees have a vision of what the CATPM can become as a museum in which to display this portion of Canada’s Heritage. May our future, and that of the next generation, be brighter.
I feel very privileged to know some of you as veterans and as friends. May I ask the veterans, that you would tell your stories to any of the younger generations who ask? It may not be easy. You may feel your part was not important in the grand scheme of events, but I urge you to let us know what happened. The importance of each of your contributions to the whole is what made this country, and the so-called “Free World”, what it is. It is your first person accounts of the events that will ensure the accuracy of the history of tomorrow.
I am also very concerned that the staff of the CATPM is aging. Younger people are needed to help in many capacities. If you are a younger person with skills of any sort to offer, please make yourself known, we need your help. To those of you both young and old, who are doing the work of the museum … we thank you! Please contact me with your concerns, advice, offer to help, or what have you, and I will endeavour to respond. I am honoured to serve. We will remember them …
President, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.
Extract from GREMILS on the JOB by Judy Varga
A story based entirely on R.A.F. legend
Published in 1943
Thanks to Lynn Spring who loaned us a copy of this book passed down to him by his father William (Bill) Spring, who was a Flight Engineer,.
There is a good deal of questioning going on about where they came from, and when they were first seen. Well – to find the first Gremlin we have to go back centuries in the middle ages. One day during the crusades a knight was going to the battle field. He was valiant and brave, and wore the proud colours of his lady fair. The little intruder got under his knightly armour, tormenting, sabotaging him. Flyers swear that’s where Gremlins originated.
Gremlins were reported to be seen in various parts of the world: in India, in Gibraltar, or the hairy legged variety in the U.S.A., but mainly in England where they merrily sabotaged the “LORDS OF THE AIR”, the R.A.F
Gremlins are very cooperative among themselves and appear mostly in swarms, thus outwitting the pilot. It is reported by the R.A.F. that Gremlins differ in character, colour and appearance. The leader of them all is the enticing, captivating Gremlin Princess, who with her wicked charms distracts the pilot.
The white-haired “George” lazily leans against the aerial, snapping directions to the little fifth columnists. The fat Gremlin parks himself on the tail of the plane, making it practically impossible to take off.
One of the most devastating – the ice, or high altitude Gremlin, as his name suggests, operates only in iced regions. He has been found placing huge blocks of ice on the wings. His hairy green body, and six feet long ears are a gruesome sight. A cheery group supplied with straws, attack the gasoline tanks. Their illuminated red noses at once betray them as the gasoline-drinking Gremlins. When flying with instruments in bad visibility, the whispering Gremlin goes to work, jumping on the shoulders of the pilot, whispering in his ear, “You idiot, you are flying upside down,” and makes him doubt his instruments., - and down he goes – fast. The “windwhistlers” have triangular holes on their stomachs through which the wind whistles, giving the poor pilot the impression that he is flying faster than he really is, upon which he throttles back, stalls his plane and goes “Bang” into the deck. There are always dozens sliding down the beam to the airdrome below, where others snatch the runway, making the pilot land in the mud. One fogs the spectacles, another, an Australian looking like an elephant with lightning for his tail, magnetize the compass. The one with the tough posterior sits on the back wheel, making the plane ground loop. Grounded Gremlins operate among mechanics – snatching their ………………….. ( in 1943 the author seems reticent to mention the word “tools”). Shy Ground Gremlins are trained into hangar owls. The Blackout gremlins hammer on the pilot’s head while in a dive, thus causing “blackouts.” When you’re seven miles up in the heavens,There are, of course, groups and groups of Gremlins sitting in the clouds, snickering at the sight of the tortured crew.
That’s a hell of a lonely spot,
And it 50 degrees below zero
Which isn’t exactly hot.
When your frozen blue like your Spitfire,
And you were scared mosquito pink,
When you’re thousands of miles from nowhere,
And there’s nothing below but the drink –
Its then you’ll see the Gremlins,
Green, gamboges, and gold,
Male, and female and neuter,
Gremlins both young and old.
But, I’ll let you in on a little secret. In a hidden part of England, Prof. Gremosky has practically completed his life’s work, a concentrated ant-Gremlin powder – which when sprinkled on the plane makes it absolutely Gremlin proof. So, until then – Gremlins or no Gremlins – “Keep ‘em flying.”
18 Members were out to the March luncheon. A time of fellowship and camaraderie was enjoyed by all.
There is still no further information of how many would attend the April Reunion in Victoria.
“Smokey” Robson – President.
Charley Yule writes,
I believed that I had sent you a correction for the REGIONAL MEETINGS concerning the change of dates for the Winnipeg Group. This should now read: Date - THIRD Thursday of each month. I receive very few enquiries from folks wishing to attend our monthly gatherings, and there are only about 6 or 8 of us who attend, but thought I should point this out to you in order to keep our records straight.
Charley Yule has advised that as of April his address will be changed to:
Mr. Charles W. Yule,
Ste. 1113 - 70 Whillams Lane,
Phone will remain at (204) 254-6264
Thanks for info. John. will get son cracking for the latest news mag.
Suppose you know about Burma Bombers this year? It's at Niagara Falls Sept 29/Oct.1st. Have booked on the strength of just reaching 82 on 4th. March!!!! How about a 2nd honeymoon for Doreene and yourself when my pilot and I are there?
Ed. Ron Bramley is the Editor of THE TURRET the RAF Ex-Ags Newsletter in the UK. If any of you Burma Boys would like to contact Ron his Email is
Good evening John: I spoke to the members at our luncheon today and they were in agreement that we should see if we can do something for Karl. I couldn't find the information I had on that award before the 2000 reunion so I phoned my MPs office. They weren't much help, they couldn't find the award I was talking about. I phoned my youngest, he is G1 or something at Brigade Group, and part of his job is Honours & Awards. He had a look through some books he had but he couldn't find the award, however, I got the phone number for contact people in Ottawa. I will give them a call in the morning and talk to someone there. Who knows, maybe I will get the same guy I spoke to in 2000 and I can give him a blast for not sending me the forms back then. I will let you know what happens. Cheers,
Just had a read of the March issue, very interesting. Gene and I paid a visit to 'Trenton in the summer of 2000 just to see the Hali, had my photo taken in the rear turret. I had a thought at that time that we should get some recognition for Karl Kjarsgaard for the work he did in getting the aircraft recovered and brought to Canada. I had seen something in the paper about a Governor Generals Commendation , a man in Ontario, I think, had received one for buying Col McRaes medals and presenting them to the government. He saved them from being auctioned off to the highest bidder, I don't know why our Heritage Minister couldn't have done that, but that's beside the point.
Anyway, I phoned a number for Government House and talked to some guy there, I forget his position, and he said that he would send me all the forms I needed to recommend someone for the award. I thought that if we worked fast and had it approved it would be a nice announcement to make at the reunion. That was not to be I'm afraid because I never did receive the forms and by the time I realized that it was too late to re-apply.
The whole point of this message is, should we apply again? I always thought that he should receive some official recognition. Would it be necessary to put the question to the readers of Short Bursts? Have members bring it up at their monthly luncheons, or what? Let me know what you think.
Cheers for now. Ted
If anyone has a suggestion regarding the above give Ted a shout at
(Letter in part) I sure enjoyed the article(s) on the Halifax restoration, and have been a member of the Association since its inception. On different trips back to Ontario, I have paid numerous visits t the museum to see the progress they were making on the old girl. A special hangar has been built adjoining the museum, and that is where she will go when they get her back on her feet again. You have never seen such a dedicated staff dong the restorations, and not a few old WW2 airframe and engine mechanics are on hand with their expertise. . . .
It is interesting to note that when Evelyn and I visited he Museum earlier on, they had just cleaned u the 20-volt batteries (4 of them) and still with the white lettering “RAF” on the sides. They wanted to turn over the first Hercules engine to be restored, just to see if it would work. They had no 20-volt batteries, so tried charging these ones up. They came right up to full strength, and did the job nicely. Something to be said for Brit quality.
Doreene and I took a nostalgic trip without leaving the chesterfield. In our continual downsizing effort Doreene came across the video of the 5th. Ex-Air Gunner’s Reunion in Regina August 1989 and part of the 1990 Reunion in Calgary. It makes one realize how many comrades have left us, but the memories remain.
Just received an interesting account of an operational flight from Member Phi Dubois, 427 Sqdrn., Gibsons BC. We will run this in May. Phil refers to a Hali V, “Yehudi” which was their aircraft. When returning from operational leave they arrived just in time to see their Halifax “Yehudi” become a statistic performing a wheels up landing.
Regarding the Message from John McNarry, President of the C.A.T.P. Museum in Brandon Manitoba, We must not forget that the Museum are hosting our Short Bursts Web Page as well as providing us with a volunteer Web Master, Bill Hillman. So, at your next luncheon why not pass the hat and send a donation to the Museum. I believe the Web page costs approximately $35.00 a month. All donations, large or small, will be appreciated.
The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Box 3, Grp 520, RR 5,
Brandon, Manitoba. R7A 5Y5 Canada.
Ph. (204) 727-2444
Until May, keep well. Cheers, John and Doreene Moyles
Aircrew Association Reunion
April 18th - 20th April 2003
Contact person Ken Pask firstname.lastname@example.org
or Jamie MacGregor (250) 477-8972
Registration - $150.00 per person.
Ken Pask advises that registration is limited to 400
and that they are currrently at 85%.
Send Cheque to:
P.O. Box 43022 Victoria North P.O.
Victoria, B.C. V8X 3G2
(PRINT OUT REGISTRATION FORM)
AirCrew Association – Canada
First Canadian Reunion
Easter in Victoria 18th-20th April 2003
Members Name(print) ___________________________________________________________
Address ____________________________________ City ______________________________
Province/State ___________________________ Postal/Zip Code ________________________
Telephone No. ___________________________ E-mail ________________________________
Accompanying person(s) to be registered. Please include City and Province if different from above.
Registration Fee includes entry to the following events:
18th April – Buffet Dinner at Crystal Gardens
19th April – Reception, Banquet and Dance at Empress Hotel
Registration Fee $150 per person
Early Bird Registration – 25% discount (before 30th June, 2002) $125 per person.
Amount enclosed $_______________
Please submit payment in Canadian Dollars by cheque or money order,
Cheques payable to AirCrew Association Reunion.
Mail with Registration form to:
PO Box 43022, Victoria North PO
Victoria, BC V8X 3G2
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St.,
Regina, Sask. S4X 3C5 CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112
Southern Ontario Chapter
Royal Canadian Legion
Wilson Branch 527
948 Sheppard Avenue West
We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the Legion hall 1:00 pm.
No meetings July, August, September.
Ken Hill ~ President ~ 905.789.1912
Bill Cockburn ~ Secretary ~ 416.492.1024
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.
Location - Lynx Wing Ave. C North, Saskatoon.
Date - Third Monday of the month.
Time - Luncheon meetings.
Contact Member - C.A. "Smokey" Robson Ph. (306) 374-0547.
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.
Location - Royal Canadian Legion #264
Date: Second Monday of each month.
Time - 11:30 hours.
Contact Member: Dave Biggs Ph: (403)236-7895
or Doug Penny Ph: (403)242-7048.
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.
British Columbia Branch
Meeting time and local: 2nd Tuesday of each month at 11:30
send current information regarding
regular meeting places, dates, and Contact Members, to
John and Doreene Moyles,
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:
Box 3, Grp. 520, RR5,
Brandon, MB R7A 5Y5
Read Them All The Way Back To March 2001
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Volunteer Webmaster: William G. Hillman
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Brandon, MB R7A 6M4
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