Good evening John.
I received my copy of the Nanton Lancaster Society newsletter today
and it has some interesting news. To quote the newsletter "Our special
2004 event will focus on the contribution of the air gunners to the successes
of Bomber Command." They expect to have their display of turrets, Bristol,
Fraser-Nash and Martin, completed for the event. Final details for
this event will be placed in the Spring-Summer newsletter in May, 2004.
I thought you might want to mention this in the current issue of Short
Bursts, perhaps some of our members will plan on being there. I think
I can drum up some interest in attending among the Edmonton gang, we really
haven't attended any of their events for a couple of years.
I will keep you informed of any other news I receive. Cheers,
B.C. Ex-Air Gunner’s Branch
HI John: Another fine addition of Short Bursts. Stan Sullivan printed
it out for everyone without a computer to read. We had our monthly meeting
a week early this month because our regular day would have clashed with
the 11th November. I am sending you something different here and I hope
you will be able to give this some space to help Mike Garbett. Thanks John.
Did you fly in Lancasters?
If you did, you are probably familiar with the names Mike Garbett and
These two gentlemen are the authors of Lancaster, Lancaster at war etc.
and now “Lancaster at war: 5 Fifty years on” is in the works.
Recently, I have had some correspondence with Mike Garbett and he says
that he looking for help from the old Lanc boys. In particular he would
like to receive copies of all of your logbook pages to add to his extensive
and ever-growing library of vivid slices of history.
Mike has been collecting stories on Lancasters and those who flew in
them. He would welcome any stories, photos of wartime exploits or tales
of returning to visit the old squadron stations. As Mike says “Nothing
surrounding the Lancaster is boring, be assured”.
Mike promises faithfully to promptly return any photos as soon as he
has copied them.
Please forward you contribution to
“Lancaster at war: 5 Fifty years on”
10 10 Northbrook Road,
West Midlands, England,
UK B90 3NT
NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN BRANCH
Smokey Robson reported that their monthly luncheon attendance is still
good and that the Branch are having their Christmas Dinner December 15th.
IT WAS ABOUT THE TIME OF THE VON RUNSTEDT
PUSH AGAINST THE ALLIES IN EUROPE AND I WAS POSTED TO METHWOLD AFTER COMPLETING
12 HOURS OF TIGER MOTH PILOT INSTRUCTION AT FAIROAKS NEAR WINDSOR CASTLE.
ABOUT THIRTY OF US, ALL DESIROUS OF BECOMING PILOTS, WERE NOW DESTINED
TO BE AIR GUNNERS. BUT....THERE WAS A HOLD UP IN TRAINING SO WE WERE ASSIGNED
TO ASSIST 149 (INDIA) SQUADRON AT METHWOLD IN NORFOLK. 218 (GOLD COAST)
SQUADRON WAS ALSO ON THE AIRFIELD...ALL EQUIPPED WITH LANCASTERS.
MY JOB WAS TO HELP ON THE BOMB DUMP! AN EXCITING PLACE TO WORK, FUSING
BOMBS AND LOADING SPECIFIC 'RECIPES' DEPENDING ON THE TARGET... ON 'STRAUSERS'SPECIALLY
DESIGNED 'BUGGIES' TO TRANSPORT THE LOAD TO THE AIRCRAFT.
THERE WERE TARGET INDICATORS, 500 AND 1000 BOMBS, COOKIES, INCENDIARIES
ALL TO BE FUSED AND LOADED ON THE LANCS.WE HAD LONG DELAYS...DELAYED ACTION
BOMBS WHICH WERE A BIT TRICKY. THEY CONTAINED AN ANTI TAMPER DEVICE THAT
WOULD EXPLODE THE BOMB IF THE ENEMY ATTEMPTED TO UNSCREW THE PISTOL! INSIDE
THE BOMB WAS A STRIKER BEARING DOWN ON A GLASS PHIAL CONTAINING A CHEMICAL.
ON THE WAY TO EARTH THE STRIKER WOULD BE RELEASED AND ON INPACT WITH MOTHER
EARTH THE CHEMICAL WOULD BE RELEASED AND START TO EAT THROUGH A PLASTIC
OR PERSPEX MATERIAL THUS DETERMINING THE LENGTH OF DELAY...IT COULD BE
FOUR OR SIX HOURS. THEN THE BOMB WOULD EXPLODE! ONE NIGHT A 500 LB BOMB
FELL OF THE STRAUSER AND THERE WAS NO WAY WECOULD DETERMINE IF THE
GLASS PHIAL WAS BROKEN. THE BOMB WAS REMOVED TO AN AREA IN A REMOTE
PART OF THE BASE... AND FORGOTTEN!SOME DAYS LATER WE WERE ALL SUMMONED
TO A HANGAR ...AIR CREW GROUND STAFF ET AL TO ASSIST IN LOADING INCENDIARIES....THOSE
LONG HEXANGULAR DEVICES WHICH WERE SET IN LARGE 'COFFINS'.WE WERE ALL BUSY
AT WORK WHEN THERE WAS A TREMENDOUS EXPLOSION . WE RUSHED OUT OF THE HANGAR
TO SEE A LITTLE FOX TERRIER COMING DOWN A SMALL HILL...YELPING WITH BLOOD
STREAMING FROM IT.OUR DELAYED ACTION BOMB HAD EXPLODED AND TRAGICALLY TWO
MEMBERS OF THE RAF REGIMENT...UNAWARE OF THE LOCATION, WERE KILLED.THE
SITE HAD NOT BEEN POSTED, AND OF COURSE THERE WAS AN INQUIRY.IT WAS HARD
WORK ON THE DUMP...ABOUT FIFTEEN HOURS A DAY BUT OUR MORALE WAS GOOD AND
THE MESS HALLS PROVIDED US WITH EXCELLENT MEALS.I MANAGED TO GET THREE
DAYS LEAVE AND ON RETURNING WAS INFORMED THAT A HALIFAX AIRCRAFT HAD CRASHED
ON THE DUMP, RETURNING FROM A RAID. I WENT DOWN TO VIEW THE AIRCRAFT AND
GOT A LAUGH WHEN OBSERVED THE ENTRANCE TO THE AIRCRAFT PAINTED LIKE THE
DOOR OF A PUB NAMED 'THE COCKWELL INN!'.A FOG CAME DOWN OVER EAST ANGLIA
AND THE SQUADRON OPERATED FROM WOODBRIDGE IN SUFFOLK...MORE EXCITEMENT!
MYSELF AND ANOTHER SCOT WERE GIVEN ACCOMMODATION IN A NISSEN HUT WITH GROUND
STAFF FROM A CANADIAN SQUADRON...THEY WERE VERY GENEROUS IN SHARING THEIR
XMAS CAKE!FIDO (FOG INSTANTANEOUS DISPERSAL OF!) WAS IN OPERATION AT WOODBRIDGE...WHERE
THOUSANDS OF GALLONS OF PETROL WOULD BE ALIGHT TO LIFT THE FOG ALLOWING
RETURNING AIRCRAFT TO LAND.HAPPY BUT DANGEROUS DAYS. I LATER WAS POSTED
TO DALCROSS (5 AIR GUNNERY SCHOOL) TO COMPLETE MY GUNNERY TRAINING
AND WAS AWARDED THE COVETED AIR GUNNER'S BREVET FROM CAMERON OF LOCHIEL,
CHIEF OF CLAN CAMERON.I FLEW WITH XV SQUADRON AT MILDENHALL JUST PRIOR
TO THE END OF THE WAR. THIS SQUADRON IS A RESERVE SQUADRON AT LOSSIMOUTH
,TRAINING TORNADO CREWS.EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER MY CREW FLEW UP TO LOSSIEMOUTH
TO PICK UP A BRAND NEW LANCASTER EQUIPPED TO CARRY THE GRAND SLAM BOMB
WHICH WAS SLUNG OUTSIDE THE AIRCRAFT...NO BOMB DOORS.WE FLEW TO MILDENHALL
BUT WERE DIVERTED TO...WOODBRIDGE AND WHAT A CHANGE FROM THE NOISY BUSTLE
OF WARTIME DAYS!BUT THE LARGE GRAVEYARD WAS STILL THERE WITH CRASHED AIRCRAFT
FROM ALL THE ALLIED AIR FORCES!
Wellington 11 W5476 (LQ-H of 405 Squadron being bombed
This a/c was lost on a raid to Hamburg Nov. 30, 1941
BILL COCKBURN CD
Ross Hamilton 407 “Demon” Sqdn. RCAF (War Time)
We had our regular Wartime Aircrew Luncheon today, and I advised the guys
that there would be no More issues of Short Bursts forthcoming, and why.
In the event, those who subscribed were glad to get what they did, and
Les Perkins talked to me after, and put forth a suggestion. (I believe
Les sent you a copy of his book "Flight Into Yesterday"?) With a similar
thought in mind, i.e., of creating yet another book, in co-operation with
John Moyles etal, to be made up of the many stories that have appeared
over the years in Short Bursts, also the British A/G Assoc. newsletters
of a similar vein, of which has most copies, and any other first-hand sources.
What do you think. Les has a publisher, and is of the opinion that if
we don't do this now (Les and I both just turned 80) a lot of the stories
could be lost forever.
Les does'nt have a computer, but his phone no. here in Kelowna is (250)
762-6180. Incidentally, Les will be sending you an autographed sticker
to insert in your copy of his book.
Our best to Doreen and yourself, Ross & Evelyn.
Any Hudson chaps from the Far East? If so, please check your log books
for Hudson FH 444. I have the beginnings of the story for this kite as
I was part of the crew that got it from Dorval Que. to Prestwick Scotland
via Gander lake Newfoundland.
I would like to hear from anyone who flew in this aircraft. Quite an
eventful trip June 4/5 1942.
RAF sources state that FH 444 left for India in July 1942 and twelve
days later was at a place called Kemble. This aircraft was struck off strength
February 5, 1945.
Sept. 7, 1941, 407 Squadron flew its first low - level anti-shipping
missions in Hudsons. Many Hudsons were lost. Early 1943, 407 began receiving
RR #1, Dunchurch, ON,
POA 1G0 (705) 389-2479
Ed. You will find an account of Don’s “dicey” ferry flight over the
Atlantic with FH 444 in Short Bursts Archives May 2003 – it is worth another
Don Macfie sends us the following Statistics
On January 3, 1941, 28 young lads left on a draft as recorder
in the North Bay Nugget.
27 graduated as Aircrew;
2 as fighter pilots;
2 as bomb aimers;
3 as Straight Air Gunners;
20 as Wireless Air Gunners;
1 one did not make aircrew.
Their service Numbers were from R69351 to R69378
26 served overseas;
1 put in 2 tours on East Coast Squadrons.
10 were killed in action, 1 was killed at OTU, 1 was POW.
Of the 28 three were awarded the D.F.C.
It would be interesting to know how many tours this represented.
In September 2003 four of these veterans gathered for a jug or two
at Sundridge, ON, Legion.
(Ed. Don Provided photo copy pictures of these young lads in civilian
dress, from the 1941 North Bay Nugget, but the pictures could not
be reproduced. The important points are the statistics.)
Don sends us the following War Time Christmas Experience.
Joe’s Christmas Story
You see Joe and I were members of a Sunderland crew formed at Oban,
on a/c ABA W6000. Now we never heard any former history of this old kite
but we helped t0 make some with 423 Squadron flying ops out of Oban and
Castle Archdale. We had a few good ops under our keel before it W6000 got
up to 360 hrs. and in need of a good overhaul at Wig Bay. Her rivets were
sticking out quarter of an inch which dragged her down to 105 knots and
bilges need pumping twice a day.
Well, we left her at her moorings in Wig Bay, moved on to Glasgow and
train South on our fist Ops leave. We were heading for London to rub shoulders
with other types in Captain’s Cabin Nerone, and Crackers Club.
Getting off the train at Euston Station a porter came up to us and asked
if we were Canadians off W6000. When we said yes, he gave us the distressing
news that she now rested on the bottom of Wig Bay. This shook us up a bit,
but not a real lot. We went on to High Holborn and a 2/6 room at Sally
Anne (shared) Joe and I.
We had had no mail since coming over 8 months before, so it was down
to Knightsbridge to see the postie who happened to be another tree-toppler
like myself, just four miles from where I lived back in Canada. He piled
the counter up with so many parcels that Joe started to use his rough language.
He said, “Geez! Geez! Red, what are we going to do with all this Geez.stuff?”
We went back to High Holborn, emptied our kit bags, and then went back
to collect it all. When dumped on our beds, it made a mountain of parcels.
Joe said, “Geez, what are we going to do with this.”
I said that I was going to a far out relative Uncle for Christmas so
I knew what I was doing with mine. Joe said that he didn’t have any uncles.
He walked around the bed, up one side and down the other, cocking his eye
like a robin looking for a worm, then he said, “Geez, Red, give me your
kit bag.” He then filed his and mine and said, “follow me.”
Going down towards Trafalgar Square in a real dense black-out we suddenly
came across a Bobby. Joe says, “Sir, do you know a real destitute family
in these parts?”
“Now,” says the Bobby, “I should think that I do.” He told us to make
some lefts and rights to a bombed out building. We were to look for some
stairs open to the stars and, if we went up two flights we would come to
the door of one room saved from the bomb. We found this to be true. At
the door Joe says, “Red, rap on the door.” This I did, no answer.
“Rap again,” says Joe. This I do louder. A timid female voice answers,
“who’s there.” Joe roars out, “Santa Clause.”
The voice tells us to come in, so we do.
Now I would like you to pause a minute and try to put in your mind what
I saw. A young woman, maybe in her late twenties, two small kiddies, one
on each side, all sheltered against the cold under one blanket. There
was no bed, no furniture, except a table on which stood a sturdy candle
lighting the room. Joe said, “Red, hold the candle.” He dumped the kitbags
on the table until it was heaped and parcels spilling over onto the floor.
Joe roared, “Merry Christmas,” and we left on our merry way down to
Trafalgar Square. Christmas Eve 1942.
Members will recall that in our November 2002 issue mention was made
of the Ex- Armourer on #135, and #422 Squadrons, Hal Sisson, and
his retirement writing career.
Here are his humorous works to date.
Contact Salal Press
These books would make excellent Christmas gifts
for old Curmudgeons like us.
Hal was an armourer who served at Annet Island Alaska with #135 Hurricane
Fighter Squadron and then with 422 Sunderland Flying Boat Squadron
in Northern Ireland and Pembroke Dock South Wales. Hal kept the guns and
turrets operating. Post war Hal was a lawyer and Judge in Peace Country,
Since retirement Hal has written the following books:
STOP PRESS NEWS!!!
Hal has just published his sixth missal, MAQUILADORA MAYHEM, and I know
it is a barn burner.
A Fowler View of Like
Coots, Codgers, and Curmudgeons
The Big Bamboozle
Caverns of the Cross
And his latest (June 2002) A Fat Lot of Good ISBN 1-894012-06-2
MAQUILADORA MAYHEM is a sequel to A FAT LOT OF GOOD, a continuation
of the exploits of characters Figg and Fowler. For $10.99 (Can.) It is
a barrel of chuckles and belly laughs. Well, what can you expect from an
old armourer whose hobby is collecting marbles - Hal Sisson has not lost
any of his!
Information on books can be obtained from:
THEIR NAMES LIVE ON - by Doug Chisholm
Canadian Plains Research Centre,
University of Regina, Regina, Sk.
S4S 0A2 Canada.
Autographed editions can be purchased directly from:
La Ronge, SK
During the Second World War, over 91,000 men and women from Saskatchewan
enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces, and served in the army, air force
and navy. In active service for their country, over 3800 servicemen
from Saskatchewan lost their lives. During the 1950's and 1960's
the province of Saskatchewan, named geographic features in memory of these
individuals, who made the supreme sacrifice.
The 3800 northern lakes, islands and bays named after the men who gave
their lives in the war are a perpetual sign of our indebtedness to those
who gave their lives in defence of democratic ideals.
As a bush pilot in northern Saskatchewan, I have long been intrigued
by the many lakes and islands which were named in memory of the Saskatchewan
servicemen who lost their lives in the Second World War.
Over the past years, I have been taking aerial photos of the sites and
have now recorded aerial photos of over 3500 of these geo-memorial locations.
I am continuing to research the names of these servicemen, establishing
an extensive database regarding home communities, military service, and
burial location and remaining family.
The naming of the lakes and islands was a fine tribute by our province,
in memory of Saskatchewan servicemen who made the supreme sacrifice for
For some families, with supporting text, I have prepared framed tributes
utilizing an aerial photo of the lake, and a service photo of the individual.
THEIR NAMES LIVE ON contains, in part, the stories of Eighty-nine
young Saskatchewan men that gave their lives that the future world could
be free. Well written by Gerry Hill, these stories and bountiful
pictures have been collected by Doug Chisholm from his personal contact
with the many family members he has communicated with. There are
also coloured aerial photographs of some of the lakes, rivers and islands
that have been name after Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen from Saskatchewan
that did not return when the war was over.
This book is also Saskatchewan's Honour Roll from World War II.
Approximately 3800 names appear complete with their Branch of Service,
Rank, Hometown, Casualty Date, the Geo-Memorial named for them and it's
location in Longitude and Latitude.
This book makes a beautiful interesting read, is a good reference and
would make a fine addition to anyone's library.
As Doug stated above, he is still researching the history and relatives
of the men so honoured. If you have or obtain a copy of, THEIR NAMES
LIVE ON, and can help Doug in his endeavours, give him a call.
BURNSIDE, E.G. #0976, TORONTO, ON: Informed by Member Bill
Cockburn of the Ontario Chapter, we regret to announce the passing of Elwood.
His enlistment number was R292777 and he attended #1 Manning Depot, Toronto
where he was selected for Gunnery training. Posted to #3 B/G at MacDonald,
MB where he described his activities as 'joe jobs', he eventually arrived
at #10 B/G at Mount Pleasant, PEI, to begin training with Course #95 with
whom he graduated with his Brevet on February 16th, 1945. Proud though
he was at having accomplished this goal, he was deflated when he was released
from the service on March 23, 1945, subject to recall. Elwood was
pleased to become a member of our Association and was a respected member
of the Ontario Chapter (Toronto) where he was active in interviewing ex
aircrew and filming spoken excerpts of their wartime exploits.
PAWLAK, E.G. #0266, CALGARY, AB: Edwin, who passed away
Sept 4/03, joined the RCAF and was selected for WOAG training
at #2 Manning Depot, Brandon, MB. He attended Wireless School at
#3, Winnipeg and #8 B/G at Lethbridge, AB. He served with #547 Squadron
in an RAF Group.
SHEPHERDSON, W.J.E. #0268, CALGARY, AB: 'Bud' was
born in Expanse, SK on May 22nd, 1923, and passed away peacefully at the
Rosedale Hospice in Calgary on Oct. 15th, 2003. He attended Manning
Depot at Brandon, MB and was selected for AG training which was accomplished
at #3 B&G MacDonald, MB. Following service overseas as a tail
gunner with 425 Squadron in 6 Group, he earned a law degree at the University
of Saskatchewan in 1950. In living memory of Bud, a tree will be
planted at Nose Creek Valley.
SPANKIE, D. #0138, INNISFAIL, AB: 'Don' was born in 1922
and passed away April 8, 2003. He joined the RCAF in 1942 as R202711.
At Manning Depot in Edmonton he was selected for Gunnery and received training
at #3 MacDonald, MB from August to October 1943. Posted to #44(Rhodesia)
Squadron in 5 Group at Dunholm Lodge he completed his tour of 33 Ops 6/10/44
with an Op to Breman.
We want to thank the members from across our fair land who contributed
to this Page. Also a bouquet to Charley Yule who looks after the Obituaries
We lost my brother in November. Desmond was a career RCAF officer, enlisting
in September 1937. However we are having out-of-Province guests for Christmas
week. It will be a time of mixed emotions.
Under the circumstances there will not be a January 2004 Page, unless
someone wants to put it up. We will try to get the ball rolling again in