The Hudson was a ubiquitous machine serving in anti shipping
and anti submarine duties in Canada, U.K., North Africa, India, and Burma.
Note the Pyramids in the above picture.
The following tells of a Canadian Hudson experience:
BOMBING OF CHARLOTTETOWN by Glenn Clearwater – Winnipeg MB
During the last part of Feb. 1943, a Hudson a/c of No.11(BR) Squadron
was returning to its base at Dartmouth NS following an anti submarine patrol.
The weather had turned bad with high winds and blizzard conditions making
visibility nil. The crew of the Hudson were informed that Dartmouth base
as closed and that they were to try for an alternate to the North.
All alternates were closed with the possibility RAF 31(GRS) Charlottetown
being open, but when they arrived overhead they were informed that it was
now also closed. Remaining fuel indicated that the crew could not stay
airborne much longer and, with zero visibility, the chance of a controlled
landing anywhere was out. It was decided that they would have to bail out.
A course was communicated to the crew to be flown where their depth charges
could be jettisoned safely, and then a course to fly which would enable
them to bail out over land.
Some how things got fouled up. The depth charges landed in open country
between Charlottetown and 31(GRS). A large hole was blown in the ground
but, fortunately, there was no injuries or damage to property. The crew
then flew the course from which to bail out. The pilot put the aircraft
on “George” to keep it on an even keel when they jumped. The aircraft roared
away into the stormy night on its last few pints of fuel.
The four man crew landed on a smooth hard surface, a large ice flow
in the Straights of Northumberland where, huddled for warmth under a parachute
canopy, they spent the next four days and nights before being found and
rescued by the Borden to Tormentine ferry.
Outside of minor frostbite, the crew were in good shape, and after
a short stay in hospital, returned to 11(BR) for flying duties. The Skipper
was S/L Wilson K.C. who, at the time., was CO of 11(BR).
The end of the saga is rather bizarre. After the crew left the Hudson
with no one but “George” in charge, the aircraft flew on until fuel exhausted,
then with Mephistopheles’-lean mockery, landed itself in the only stretch
of open ground available and with minimum damage. A local resident notified
the officials and a salvage party arrived. The aircraft was flown out of
the field to Moncton NB before the original crew had been discharged from
The Charlottetown paper of the time carried a long write-up of the
event. Perhaps someone could see it in their archives. On the same
night three other aircraft were in trouble, two made it to safety, however
one, 11(BR) Hudson, trying to make it into Dartmouth, crashed and blew
up several miles short of runway #4, no survivors.
It would be interesting if any former 11(BR) personnel recall this
Ross Hamilton – Kelowna,
The October issue of Short Bursts received, and a great job as usual.
Just before some "Smart-Ass" takes you to task, may I offer a bit of additional
information relative to the Guinea Pig article? No doubt someone omitted
a name or two when composing the item, and I will fill this in for you
from a personal standpoint.
On page 8 there is mention of a "Dr. Ross", who worked with MacIndoe.
Actually, this chap, was W/C A.R. Ross Tilley. He headed up the burn hospital
at East Grinstead, a unit that was purchased and maintained by the Canadian
people, not the Canadian government per se.
Post war, Dr. Ross Tilley, and my son-in-law's father, Dr. Ken MacEwen,
also a RCAF M/O during wartime, were colleagues at one of the big hospitals
in Toronto, where Ken was a Radiologist Specialist. If you have a copy
of Larry Milberry's & Hugh Halliday's fine book, "The RCAF At War,
1939-1945", .some of the Guinea Pigs story is on pages 154 & 155. Having
run on about all of this, another story has come to mind, and concerns
a personal friend who flew Lancs on 207 Sqdn, Turns out that Dave Sutherland
was on the same Squadron, and knew Bill Baker then. It is quite a story,
regarding frozen hands after a mid-air collision.
By 1943 good deal was being learned about treating burns suffered
in combat, but little was known about frostbite. This story illustrates
one such happening, and thankfully it didn’t happen often. It was my god
fortune to meet up with F/L Bill Baker, DFC, Post-war, and we were close
friends for many years prior to his death in 1995.
Bill was a pilot on Lancasters on 207 Squadron. During a raid on
Penemunde Nov. 22, 1943, flying out of RAF station Spilsby, Bill’s Lanc.
and another from a different squadron, had a mid-air collision near the
target. The upshot was that the nose of Bill’s Lanc. Was sheared off and
his bomb aimer was sucked out, without a parachute, and fell to his death.
Also the port outer engine was badly damaged and put out of service. They
had bombed their target and set course for Waddington.
With the Lanc’s. nose sheared off, the gale now blowing into the
aircraft as fierce and it was around –50 degrees F. Bill was wearing his
leather flying gloves plus his silks, but his hands eventually froze to
the control column. His flight engineer looked after other duties in the
Damage to nose and Port engine of Bill Baker’s Lanc.
Near Holland Nazi spotlights zeroed in on them and Bill had to dive
and corckscrew to get rid of them. They landed safely in Waddington and
Bill was taken to sick quarters for examination. After several days the
fingers of both hands ballooned into sausage size. With no help at this
location, Bill was shipped down to the Military hospital in London. Here
it was determined that there was no known method of saving the fingers
and all eight were subsequently amputated right next to the hand knuckles.
The thumbs were saved.
While recovering in hospital, Bill was awarded the DFC which
was presented to him by no less a person than W/C Gibson, VC. Sadly, a
few days later, the medal was stolen by somebody in the hospital. He was
given a new one, but it never carried the same import as the original.
Upon leaving the air force Bill returned to university and obtained
his engineering degree. He and his long time sweetheart, Jeannie, (WAAF
on the station) were wed and settled in Niagara-On-The-Lake where Bill
was employed with ACRES Engineering Firm building bridges, dams, etc. all
over the world.
At an Air Gunner’s reunion at Stockton on Tees, in 1980, by way of
a casual comment about a mid air collision, the two crews involved were
able to have a “meet-up” reunion. The other aircraft had been so badly
damaged that the crew had bailed out and, all but the pilot, became prisoners
of war. Their pilot went down with the plane. They compared log books
and there even was mock finger pointing, “why didn’t you watch where you
Bill always grieved his lost bomb aimer who fell into Germany without
a parachute. Eventually, Bert Dowty, in Lincoln, UK made contact with a
historian in Germany who was able to track the boy’s grave, and furnish
photographs of the military headstone. He had received a military funeral.
When the pictures and details were given to Bill, he broke down. He was
finally at peace knowing where his crewmate was buried.
Clearwater - Winnipeg
Have an extra minute? If you do, check out the following two stories.
A little history never hurt anyone.
STORY NUMBER ONE
Al Capone and his lawyer – could it be “Easy” Eddy?
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't
famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city
in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.
Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was his lawyer for
a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering
kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone
paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also Eddie got special
dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion
with live-in help and all of
the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that
it filled an entire Chicago City block. Eddie lived the high life of the
Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on
Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved
dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything:
clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no
And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried
to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better
man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two
things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name and a
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted
to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities
and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name
and offer his son some semblance of integrity.
To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew
that the cost would be great. So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie's
life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his
eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest
price he would ever pay.
STORY NUMBER TWO
World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander
Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington
in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne,
he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to
top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission
and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.
Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.
As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his
blood cold A squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward
the American fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all
but defenceless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in
time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching
danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation
of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in,
attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and
out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible
until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the
assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes
of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.
Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the
carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding
The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale.
It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He
had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.
This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became
the Navy's first Ace of WW II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional
Medal of Honour. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the
age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero
to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the
courage of this great man. So the next time you find yourself at O'Hare
International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying
his statue and his Medal of Honour. It's located between Terminals 1 and
SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH
Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.
Further to this article, the City of Moose Jaw Saskatchewan has reopened
the tunnels under their city. These tunnels were used by Al Capone and
his gangster associates during prohibition days. Capone would purchase
liquor in Moose Jaw (from eastern breweries) and ship it down the Soo Line
into the USA. The picture of Capone and his lawyer above was taken in the
tunnels some time in the ‘20s. If you don’t believe me, go to http://www.tunnelsofmoosejaw.com
for the straight Gen.
Don Macfie – Dunchurch
Blessed is the crew that had one – a joker, that is. Every deck of cards
has one and, hopefully every crew had one to help through worries and fears
Our Sunderland crew of 11 to 12 members had one by the name of George
Irving from Meaford, Ont. George was the product of a very early
coarse in Wireless training in Canada, and when he got overseas he didn’t
improve much despite what Cranwell or Yatesbury could do for him. He was
shuffled off to SE11 at Prestwick on Botha aircraft and there he shined.
He could read that time base (radar) when the rest of us couldn’t. But
he was the keeper of an endless supply of ribald jokes and songs.
When, as a dispirited group, we stood in the drizzling rain,
on the pier at 3AM awaiting a dinghy to take us to the aircraft, George
was likely to break loose with his rendition of “Mary had a little lamb”
or sing, “Starkle, starkle, little twink, what the hell you are I think”,
or one of his encounters with the Duchess concerning her daughter. By the
time we reached the “Kite” we were in better humour to start our Op.
Once we made a landfall in an Atlantic gale up against the 1500 foot
cliffs of Arran, Ireland. Visibility was almost nil and the waves were
climbing the cliff so high we were getting drenched in sea-water. I got
out of the rear turret where I was getting wet but George continued, seemingly
unperturbed, in the mid-upper.
When we did find the mouth of the river that would lead us to our
base at Castle Archdale, the visibility was still poor. We hopped hydro
lines and passed down the middle of a main street. Looking up at the town
clock as we went by, George called up the navigator and asked him if he
had synchronized his watch!
Three years later my Skipper and I were accompanying a lamppost in
front of the Regent Palace in London – we were parting for the last time.
The lights were all on and the streets deserted, no other uniforms in sight.
He says to me, “Red, do you remember that time we were crawling the cliffs
trying to find the river mouth in the fog.” I said that I sure did. He
said, “Well, things were so desperate that I figured we were not going
to make it. I was praying for our souls. But then I heard George over the
intercom call up Ray Snelus in the bomb bay and ask him which one of the
two girls they were taking out that nigh he wanted. Right then I knew we
were going home!”
Coles, Balgonie, SK
Jim Coles 77 Squadron RAF
Jim loaned me a copy of 77 Squadron Association newsletter, Nickel
Leaflet No. 30, 1 October 2003. Opposite a query regarding the Gelsenkirchen
Operation 9/10 July 1943, Jim has added; My 7th trip 6:30 hrs.
The following is one of the Nickel Leaflet articles with a Canadian
WERE ALL YOUNG MEN
But, some were younger than others and, none were much younger than
Eric Fedi of 77 Squadron then based at Elvington.
On 28 March 1943, Sergeant R.W.F. Munns, Pilot, was posted with his
crew to 77 Squadron, then under the command of Wing Commander A.E. (Lofty)
Lowe MBE. Sgt. Eric Fedi, RCAF, was the mid-upper gunner in the crew and
he was then 16 years of age. The crew operated for the first time on 14
April 1943 when the squadron put up 16 aircraft to attack STUTTGART. Their
aircraft on this occasion was Halifax 11, JB865 KN ‘J’.
They flew their last operation on 7 September 1943 when, in Halifax
11, DT793 KN, ‘E’, they flew to MUNCHEN (Munich). Following take-off from
Elvington at 1918 hours, nothing further was heard of the aircraft or crew
and they were therefore reported ‘Missing’, presumed ‘killed’. The names
of the crew are recorded on the Runnymede Memorial at Panels 132, 133,
165, 167, 169, 170, and 181. R172702 flight Sergeant Eric Fedi, RCAF, was
just 17 years of age when he was killed defending our freedom.
The 77 Squadron Association Newsletter is edited by Harry Shinkfield.
154 Broadway, Wakefield WF2 8AQ . West Ridingof Yorkshire. UK
George (Ole) Olson
October 23, 2003.
On behalf of 2nd T.A.F./M.B.A. Canadian Wing
Tribute To Air Marshal C.R. (Larry)