MARCH 2004

Larry Robinson
AG Association No. 0021  101 Squadron.

Two Trips to Duisbury Oct. 14 and 15 1944.

I was on both of these trips in October/44. Man, that is a long time ago!

Our trips were mostly no problem, some flak, no fighters. On trip two we had to feather our Starboard outer just before the target. The above picture was taken by William Troughton a wartime journalist who made both trips from our 101 Squadron at Ludford Magna. Mr. Troughton caught the 4000 lb. “cookie” and incendiaries perfectly. Very faintly you can read the aircraft designation SR-B. You can also see that this aircraft is equipped with two aerials placed just in front of the Mid Upper Turret. This was to disrupt German fighter Control. We had an extra WAG whose job it was to pick up German frequencies. He could speak fluent German and could give the fighters false information. Or, sometimes just tune a Merlin (one of our engines), onto the frequency.

Our Navigator had to be sharp as we needed to be over the target at specific times to give all bombers as much protection as possible.

We usually sent out 22 aircraft from 101 Squadron.

Daily Express Oct. 16, 1944


By William Troughton
William flew on both raids on Saturday, and is the first War Correspondent to make a day and night raid in the same day.

At an RAF Station, 5 a.m. Sunday

The Medical Officer had just asked me to take a sleeping tablet – and I’m almost asleep on my feet. It sounded so silly that I had to laugh.

But the boys who have just come back from Duisburg are all milling around him with their hair dishevelled and their eyes heavy with the need for sleep, and they are taking his tablets. Funnier still, because only seven hours ago we were taking “Wakey-wakey” tablets from him to ward off sleep.

We were pretty tired then, for most of us were setting out to bomb Duisburg again for the second time in 18 hours. Now we are back - and we have left Duisburg dying. We have dropped more than 10,000 tons, including 500,000 fire bombs on the city – one ton for every  45 of its inhabitants – delivered in two great raids of more than 1000 planes each.

Twenty of those planes have not come back. That was inevitable for Duisburg is still one of the most heavily defended cities of the Ruhr Valley. But our losses are surprisingly small, only .9 per cent. 

This is what happened in the two attacks

By Day.  Yesterday morning when we saw at last the great waterways of Duisburg gleaming in the sunshine, the sky ahead of us was full of the aircraft that were going in with the first wave. They looked like a cloud of gnats. Behind us hundreds more were stretched across the sky.

Flying Officer J. Whitwood, of Norwich, stockily built, fair haired, put on his best guide manner and said over the intercom, “and there, Bill, on our Port bow, is the great big ‘Happy Valley’.”

But ahead of us ugly black smudges of smoke appeared among the gnats and slowly expanded into big, black blobs. And suddenly a pale blue smoke trail spiralled down from the cloud of gnats in front.

“Somebody’s got it,” came some one’s voice over the itercom.

Down in the dock area behind Duisburg’s waterways that lie to the east of the winding Rhine the bombs were falling. And far down to the right I saw the little red flashes of a ack-ack battery opening up on us at the end of a straggling village. I pointed this out to the engineer, P/O Ken Thomas, of Swansea. “Jerry never could take a joke,” he cracked back.

Just ahead, much nearer, quicker, blacker, and more vicious – new smoke puffs appeared. There was only a few minutes now before we were due over the target. The layout of the city was as clear as a map. The bombs were raining down on it and the sky around us was filling with smoke smudges – hundreds of them. They appeared from nowhere as if they had been painted by an invisible paint brush. Our Bomb Aimer, F/O D.J. McEwen, of Gridrod, British Columbia, Canada, planted the bombs well on the target.

The rest of us had our noses flattened against the Perspex. The Navigator, F/O P. Lankester, of Bexhill, Sussex, pointed to four or five great black balls of smoke right across the dockside. “Looks like an oil dump,” said the Mid Upper Gunner, Flight Sergeant J.V. Gillespie, a Canadian from Toronto, “Duisburg had it.”

There was the radio operator, Flight Sergeant D (Jock) Cargill, of Arbroath, who, an hour or so earlier, when we were waiting in the darkness to take off, had kept us laughing with his description of a murder film he had seen that made him “sweat with fright”.

And there was Sergeant Tommy Birch, of Hendon, N.W. who had pulled Jock Cargill’s leg about his birthday – “Friday 13th.” Tommy Birch, at the end of the trip tumbled out grousing cheerfully: “I’ve never been so cold in all my life.”

The rear gunner’s cockpit is the coldest place in the kite.

War Correspondent  William Troughton
War Correspondent  William Troughton

By Night       This nights work has been much grimmer. There was for me, a bad few minutes when the first searchlights on enemy territory began feeling for us, coning and creeping nearer.

This time we were a new crew with S/L P.B. Clay of Sowerby Bridge, Yorks, as Skipper. He is a tall young fellow with fair hair and a nonchalant manner, but a brain as cool as ice when he sits behind the joy stick. When the flak began to flash around us I thought of the great cloud of smoke puffs we had left behind us in the sky the previous morning. But Duisburg and a great cylinder above it, stretching four miles into the sky, was ablaze. It was too fascinating for fear.

Markers showered down and lay on the city like shimmering flower beds, others were lost in the fires. Flak of all kinds shattered the darkness. Then as we left this fantastic scene, the boys who followed us sent down thousands of incendiaries. The sky was red and angry above Duisburg when we were 100 miles away.

We could not see our boys in front of the Siegfried Line a we passed over on our way home – we were too high for that – but we drew great comfort in the knowledge that they could see the glow from the city, only 30 miles away, where thousands of tons of supplies to have been used against them were going up in flames.

The night attack on Duisburg was made in two waves. The first began bombing at 1:30a.m. and the second nearly two hours later.

Later Sunday   Now I know why the M.O. wanted to give me sleeping tablets. So many impressions have entered my mind and I saw so vivid the flashes and the colours of the flak, when I finally got into bed, I could not sleep.

But the boys who do these trips – the crew of my Lancaster, G for George, was typical of them – night after night were wiser, especially after this, when the greatest weight of bombs that has ever been dropped on one city fell within 24 hours.

They took the tablets and slept. They were still sleeping, most of them, when I left the Station later this morning.

by George Lawler

Any one who was associated with the Royal Air Force during WW11 will remember a periodical called TEE EMM and a particular column therein which dealt with an award known as the M.H.D.O.I.F. – The Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger.

The M.H.D.O.I.F. was TEE EMMs way of paying journalistic to some airman, somewhere, on some front, for some act or other, of outstanding achievement in the field of stupidity.
I was once a candidate for such an award.

In 1941, the RAF was flying aircraft out to the Middle East and Far East, by way of the long and circuitous route which led south along the west coast of Africa and then east across the continent. In terms of human casualties, this proved to be a costly effort – not so much due to enemy action as from tropical diseases picked up at jungle bases along the way. Very few of these transient crews ever made the journey without losing one or more of their members to malaria, jaundice or dysentery. Therefore, I, a Wireless Air Gunner became one of 1500 Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders sent by ship from England to the Middle East as replacements for the dead or disabled pilots, observers, and wags.

Shortly after our arrival in Egypt, I was posted to an RAAF Squadron which was busily engaged in the hazardous task of attacking enemy ships carrying supplies to General Rommel’s army in the Libyan desert. My fellow crew members would be an Australian pilot, Toby Nichols, a Canadian Observer, Ross Singlton, and another WAG, Clem Burrell, who hailed from New Zealand. I should have been happy for they were all nice fellows, and after all… it’s what I had come half way around the world to do… fly against the enemy.

But I was not a happy fly boy. My first encounter with the equipment I would be expected to use left me with a deep sense of foreboding. I had never seen any of it before; Browning machine guns, hydraulic turrets, and Bendix transmitters were as foreign to me as the Chinese alphabet. The thirty minute briefing delivered by a smiling Aussie Gunnery Officer, quite unnerved me, and his parting assurance – “you should have no bloody trouble. Did remarkably little to restore my moral.

The day I arrived at 459 Squadron I had exactly 16 hours flying hours to my credit – 6 doing radio exercises from a Tiger Moth at St. Hubert’s airport, Montreal, and 10 hours on Fairey Battles at Gunner School in Mountain View, Ontario. I had received no advanced instruction in wireless, had never tried firing anything but a Vickers gas operated machine gun, had never been to an O.T.U. I was indeed poorly prepared for the job at hand… and I knew it!

But, of course, there was no backing down. No way one could say, “Get somebody else.” All I could do was hope like hell that nothing too serious would happen before I’d had the time to accumulate some knowledge. In this respect fate was more than kind to me. The weather turned bad and the whole Squadron was grounded giving me a brief opportunity to study the gun turrets and the .5 Browning machine guns. But unfortunately, the weather cleared to soon for me to study the radio equipment.. The first air operation found me seated before a Bendix radio set praying fervently that I would not be asked to use it.

Our night flight, which took us over the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, was uneventful. We saw no enemy ships – no submarines. I had just begun to feel secure in my role as W/Op when the Pilot called me on the inter-com. “George” he said,  “Will you send the following message back to base – “Estimated Time of Arrival 06:30 hrs.”

“Gottcha, Skipper,” I replied as I broke out into a cold sweat, as cold as one could produce on a summer’s night in Africa. I turned the transmitter switch to where it said “ON” and waited for a break in the busy air waves to send my message.

The break did not come. The frequency was jammed with coded messages coming mainly from Malta, which Island was being subjected to heavy bombardment. Try though I did I could not get my message on the air. Each time I touched the key a powerful signal would come crashing in to send my dits and das into oblivion. Something had to be done.  How could I admit that on my first Op I had failed to carry out my duty. I wracked my brain in search of some way to get Malta off the air – even for a few seconds. This led me to a desperate but reasonable solution.

Back in wireless school in England, I had listened to a lecture dealing with correct procedure in transmitting messages. Contained within that dissertation was a list of various combinations of the letters O and U which, placed at the first of a message, gave the sender undisputed domination of the air waves. This combination indicated that the Italian Fleet, or part thereof, had been sighted. The mere fact that I’m still alive today is proof positive that I decided not to use such bogus sightings to send forth my ETA.

I did however use another high priority signal, one which simply read “immediate”. It worked. I shut down every radio transmitter in the Mediterranean theatre long enough to tell the people at our landing strip that we would be home for our morning ration of fried bully beef and toast “a la weevils”. When my Skipper asked if I had sent my message, I was able to nod and smile proudly. My career in the Air Force was, it seemed, off to a brilliant start.

There would be stressful hours ahead, especially for our Pilot, who was, as Captain, deemed responsible for the actions of his crew. Upon landing we were met by a reception committee that included several high ranking officers. Our Aussie pilot was driven away to what must have been some form of torture chamber, for when he returned two hours later, the bloom of youth had left his cheek, and when he spoke his voice shook audibly, “George,” he asked, “What the hell did you do?”

Although I was richly deserving, I did not win the M.H.D.O.I.F. That went to an Intelligence Officer who forgot to fasten his attaché case properly and let a sheaf of papers marked “top secret” blow away across a Scottish airfield.

Ross Hamilton recalls the Bendix

Yes, I remember the Bendix sets quite well, which we first encountered at Debert OTU, on Hudsons. On an OFE out over the Atlantic one time, I had trouble with the key sticking when trying to complete my wireless exercise to base. Having a rather "Short Fuse", I slammed my fist down on the sending key, and it snapped off about a quarter inch from the base. My fellow WAG, Bob Clegg, was next to do his exercise, and had to cope with trying to send with only a stub for a key. When questioned upon landing, we swore that a thermos had fallen on the key and snapped it off. I know the RAF inmates didn’t believe us, but they couldn’t prove otherwise. Bob had to repeat the exercise, and he never let me forget it. From Debert we went to 161 Sqdn. at Dartmouth, N.S. and spent 6 months on convoy escort etc. before they began posting the unit overseas late 1943. Ours was the first crew to be let go from the squadron.

Bob Clegg WAG, Ross Hamilton WAG  (Truro NS)

With thanks to Allan Coggon, Editor of Aircrew Association of Nova Scotia Newsletter TAILWIND

As Eastern Air Command’s most important base during the Second World War RCAF Dartmouth played a pivotal role in the Battle of the Atlantic protecting convoys of merchant ships from German U-boat “Wolf Packs”.

Being the largest seaplane and landplane base in Eastern Canada, Dartmouth was home to nine RCAF long-range Bomber Reconnaissance squadrons, whose Stranraer, Digby, Hudson, Catalina, Canso, and Liberator aircraft flew thousands of hours on anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols over the North West Atlantic and Gulf of St. Lawrence. In fact, the RCAF’s first mission of the Second World War was flown from RCAF station Dartmouth on 10 December 1039 by a #5 Squadron Stranraer flying boat tasked to conduct a search for enemy ships off Halifax harbour. In January 1944, 162 Squadron transferred from Dartmouth to Reykjavik, Iceland, where it became the RCAF’s most successful anti-submarine squadron during WW11, sinking six U-boats.

Similarly, a total of six RCAF fighter (F) Squadrons equipped with Goblin, Kittyhawk, and Hurricane aircraft were based at RCAF Station Dartmouth to protect Canada’s Atlantic approaches and Halifax’s strategic harbour from air attack. In 1940 Dartmouth’s #127 (F) fighter Squadron was transferred to England and renumbered as 401 (F) Squadron where it became the RCAF’s highest scoring fighter squadron in WW11. In May 1941, the RCAF built the first radar station in North America at Preston NS, about ten kilometres north of Dartmouth.


“Skipper to Navigator, We are running on fumes. Where is the water you promised us?”

Some of #5 Squadron Stranraers were flown from Dartmouth NS to Jerico Beach B.C. to bolster the West Coast Flying Boat Squadrons. Unable to land on runways the Stranraer flying boats were committed to landing and taking off from water. Can anyone tell us what route the Stranraers took across Canada, especially across the Prairies. If anyone can fill us in on this, drop a line to the Editor.

Ross Hamilton

#31 OTU Debert, N.S. was staffed by the RAF, tour expired instructors in all categories, plus the Clapped Out Hudsons that were shipped over from U.K., as being deemed as unfit for Ops any more. No doubt the early 407 Sqdn. types may have flown some of them in 1941/42 on shipping strikes etc. Plus the 1st thousand-plane raid on Berlin.

Debert air base was adjacent to the Bay of Fundy, which soon became known as "Hudson's Bay" because of the number of these old kites that ended up there. I.E. Our Canadian pilot, Johnnie Goodkey, was doing circuits & bumps one night, when both Hudson engines failed at about 500 feet after take-off. Johnnie and the RAF instructor, managed a pancake in the Bay, far from shore, and both climbed out onto the fuselage hoping for rescue. The water was then up to their knees, but the tide was coming in. The RAF type couldn’t swim, but Johnnie was an excellent swimmer. They spotted a light on an island, and Johnnie stripped to his shorts, in April weather, and took off to swim to the Island. He arrived there, and found a fisherman in residence, and they immediately took off for the downed Hudson in his boat. They arrived just in time, as the poor RAF pilot instructor was standing on tip-toe, with just his head above water as the tide came in full bore. It was two days before the RAF found them missing, and sent a meat-wagon to pick them up, after a phone call finally registered.

Hudson Cockpit

At this particular OTU, the rule was that, if your were an all-Canadian crew of four, upon graduating, you were all posted to Eastern Air Command. (In our case, we went to 161 Sqdn. at Dartmouth, N.S.) Crews that were mixed, i.e., Aussie, and it only had to be one member, N.Z. Brits, etc. were posted overseas upon graduating. We had no choice, as the courses were predominately RCAF. 

As any airman knows, the superstition was that all bad things happened in lots of "Three". (I still believe it!) On this particular day, there were three crashes before noon. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Then, in early afternoon there was a fourth. Oh lord, what now? Shortly after there was a fifth prang. 

Then Bob Clegg and myself were designated to do a "Local" with two Aussie sprog pilots. We were trundling down the runway on takeoff when the port engine quit. As take-off speed was almost reached, the pilot did the only option open to him-- he pulled up the undercart. When the wheels retracted, we took off on the finest ground-loop ever designed, and ended up in a cloud of smoke and dust on the other side of the airfield. Aside from a few bangs, no one was seriously hurt. The Meat-wagon subsequently turned up. The RAF MOs asked --  "Anyone hurt"?  We responded in the negative, and they took off-- without us! (Bar time in the mess, no doubt!) but eventually a gurney came out for us.

Yes, there were casualties at Debert. One most memorable was the loss of two classmates from  #4   Wireless School (Guelph), who had just arrived on the station, P/O Ursel and P/O Summerhill. That same evening they were invited by a crew to go on an OFE (Operational Flight Exercise) just to see what it was like. They took off at 0100 hours over the Atlantic, and have never been heard from since. What a tragedy!

Being an all-Canadian crew, we were posted, upon graduating, to #161 Sqdn. at Dartmouth, N.S. April/43. There we flew on the infamous Douglas Digbys, mostly convoy escort and Halifax harbour patrol. The Canadian Government had purchased 20 of these kites from the U.S. in 1940, and had them towed across the border from Maine into New Brunswick, just to protect the U.S. neutrality at that time. 

Bob Clegg WAG, Eric Hyde, Nav. Mac McFarlane, Pilot, Ross Hamilton, WAG

The Digbys did a job, but had no long-range endurance. Thus we could escort a convoy for only a short period when once on station. It wasn’t until the long-range Liberators, out of Iceland, were able to close this deadly gap in coverage, that the U-Boats now had something to worry them.

In late 1943, 161 squadron was called upon to begin posting its crews overseas to fill the gaps at that end. Ours was the first crew to be favoured, and we were on our way to U.K. in short order.
And so endeth the epistle.

Per Ardua, 
Ross & Evelyn


She was described by Winston Churchill as the Nation’s secret weapon. During the dark days of the Second World war Christabel Leighton Porter helped maintain Britain’s moral as the countries favourite pin-up, rivalling even the legendary force’s sweetheart, Vera Lynn. Few people knew her by her real name. Instead, she was known to millions simply, as Jane. The Daily Mirror strip cartoon character, whose patriotic antics more often than not found her cavorting seductively in her underwear.

Sadly Christabel has passed away, but paying tribute to the role she played in defeating the Nazis, the Hampshire Chronicle reminds us that she was the daughter of an Eastleigh railwayman and reveals that she is among the local celebrities soon to have their achievements permanently recognized in a borough hall of fame.

The Chronicle tells how Christabel was the youngest of 11 children in the Drewery family and spent her childhood in Desborough Road at Estleigh. Her parents had moved to the town with the Southern Railway and her father had a job in the local carriage works. In later years she spoke of her time in Eastleigh as the happiest in her life and recalled with affection walks in the country and dances in the town hall.

Christabel contributed her initial success in modeling to her healthy, girl-next-door image. But her picture adorned tanks, battleships, and aircraft. Submarine crews were given advance supplies of the cartoon before they left on long, secret, and dangerous missions.

Apparently the Lord Chamberlain, conscious of a conflict between public moral and morals, expressed concern about the amount of clothing she discarded. Then it was pointed out that the more cloths she shed, the further our troops advanced.

Jane’s popularity continued after the war and Christabel even made a film called, appropriately, The Adventures of Jane. Her stage appearances included a show at the Grand Theatre, Southhampton. When she shared billing with a young Benny Hill. Her last appearance in the Daily Mirror was in 1959, but her memory lived on literally to her dying day, and will no doubt continue well beyond.

(Ed. When on troop transport we would be away from base for up to two weeks however,  our WAAF Transport  Driver would clip the Daily Mirror strips of Jane . When she picked us up at dispersal point, we caught up on Jane’s states of dress and undress in the back of the lorry – high priority!)

From Short Bursts newsletter December 1996, Issue #56

The Lancaster in the Photograph, JUST JANE, was gate guardian at RAF Scampton (Home of the Dambusters) for a number of years. It had been through the MU and brought up to full flying serviceability before going on display.

The Paton brothers bought the Lanc and housed it at the old East Kirkby WW11 bomber base, which they also bought. The old control tower and hangars were refurbished and brought up to wartime configuration, together with most of the equipment.

All this was done in honour of their older brother, a wartime Navigator on Lancs who was killed in action.

The Lincoln Echo, Lincoln, England. Nov./95

JUST JANE, bought and restored by Fred and Harold Paton, owners of the Aviation Heritage Centre, was celebrating her 50th anniversary

To mark the occasion she prepared to taxi down the former runway – moving under her own steam for the first time in two decades. First one engine roared into action, then the second and third. Harold Paton stared at the Lancaster as the rain increased and the temperature turned colder. 

“It’s a pity about the weather, but it couldn’t spoil this day, no matter what,” he said.

A number of Search Patterns – Can you help?

Hello John & Doreen,
Thank you for your quick response. It’s amazing to think that after all these years we can reach out like this. You may be surprised to hear that Haverhill is in Suffolk and has been in my short life of sixty two years! I too have visited various old airfields and of course where I live now there are remnants of WWII. Some are being used as industrial estates and old runways are used as thriving Sunday markets. 

I flew to Canada in the summer of 1966 and visited the mother of F/Sgt. Bowden in Sutton, Quebec. It was very emotional to find she had a picture of her son alongside my father. Unfortunately we lost touch. 
It may be too late now but having time on my side in retirement I would love to find someone who knew my father. He was Sgt. (Air Gnr.) Freddie Skeet, from Ipswich in Suffolk. He was killed when I was two, so my recollections are very vague, but the memory of a father who made the supreme sacrifice is still with me today. His picture stands on my bedroom windowsill.

Here is some further information as requested: T/o 0008 Linton-on-Ouse.
Lancaster II LL719 EQ-V 408 Sqn. RCAF lost on Feb 19/20 1944 whilst on ops to Leipzig. The crew were F/O G. W. Richter RCAF; P/O C. W. G. Roberts RAF; F/Sgt. D. I. Bowden RCAF; P/O G. N. Bennett RCAF; P/O S. L. Roach RCAF; P/O R. G. Kelly RCAF; Sgt. F. G. Skeet RAF.

Thank you for your help and I wish you luck in all your endeavours.


Correspondence forwarded by Bill Cockburn

Dear Bill,

 I may be on the wrong track here, however if you can take a moment and read on I would greatly appreciate it. I have been trying to do some research on Hagersville No 16 Service Flying Training School and it seems every time I do a search on the net your website (Short Burst) ends up in the findings. You see, my family now owns what used to be this "base" and I'm trying to piece together some of the history of the property and it's past. 

The drill hall, PMQ's and hangers still exist (although part of the property was severed and the hangers are not on our property now) yet some of the "timelines" for these structures don't coincide with old Dept of Defence site plans and I'm told by some of the older "locals" conflicting tales of what this place actually was. I suppose what I'm asking is if there is anyone you can put me in touch with that may have ever served here and may recall a little about the place. 

I know its a tall order as many of our older veterans have passed on and I'm sure SFTS Hagersville wasn't a place that would rate a high spot in the memory of many but I'm taking a shot in the dark here in the remote possibility you can point me in a direction. 

What really got me started on the history of the place was when I was doing some work in the old drill hall and found the name of a serviceman (cpl O'Keefe) written in pencil behind a set of shelves I was removing. It was probably 50 years since the scribble had seen the light of day and just kind of got me wondering about the entire history of the property and the people that served here. Any help or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

Kirk Berry 
Hagersville Ont


I hope all this comes through as I'm not much of a rocket scientist when it comes to pressing the right buttons!

The information I was sent identified the photo as being of "a Wellington MkIc with the Popeye character 'J. Wellington Wimpy' as its nose art.  This aircraft had the serial number T2820 and it served with no, 75 Squadron, Feltwell.  It crashed on Methwold Fen on the night of 21-22 October 1940 when returning from Ops. on Hamburg.  All 6 crew were injured but survived. I was given a photo of this crashed aircraft a couple of months ago.  I was given a detailed photo of the nose art during the 75 Sq. memorial dedication. (This will be sent on as soon as my CD re-writer is doing its stuff).  I have checked the BCWG website for details on John Skelly.  They show a F.Lt. John Henry Skelly ser. No. J/24501 (Canadian), being killed on 23.06.45 whilst serving with No.409 Squadron.  He is buried at Enschede Cemetery in the Netherlands."

J Wellington Wimpy

So this is all I received last week.  I checked with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site and got the picture of the cemetery.  Perhaps the RCAF Archives have more information on John Skelly and can tell us which Province he came from which would narrow it down.


Carman Brown #849

429 (Georgina) A.F.A.C. Wing in Pefferlaw, Ont. Is strongly associated with 429 (T) Squadron at Trenton, Ont. We were having our memorial for the Battle of Britain and paying homage to Aircrew lost while serving with 429 Bison Squadron.

As an Ex-tour expired member of 429 (Bison Sqdn. of Leeming, York., I decided to scan my log book and refresh my memory of flying in Halifax MK 111s. I am not a  superstitious person but the following might change my mind.

Being the rear gunner of a crew of seven flying in a Halifax Mk 111, we did operations # and on Aug. 7, 1944,  #23, all in AL-E (Easy) A/C MZ825, a total of 13 ops. We went on leave Aug. 8/44, returning to Leeming Aug. 14/44. To our dismay E-Easy was not sitting on her usual dispersal pan. This aircraft was lost on a raid to Bruinswick, Germany, on the night of Aug. 13/44. The Pilot was F/O George Dougls DePew of Copper Cliff, Ont. The crew were all lost and are interred at Limmer British cemetery, Hanover, Germany.

The numbers make one think – don’t they?


DONNELLY, W. V. #0213, WINNIPEG, MB:  Born July 29/24, Vern completed his formal Education and joined the RCAF on his 18th Birthday, 1942.  He passed way Feb. 26/04.  Survived by his wife Millicent, and their family.

Vern attended Manning Depot at Brandon, MB and Initial Training School, Regina.  He volunteered for WAG training which he completed at #2 Wireless School, Calgary and #7 B&G School at Paulson, MB, where he graduated with his Brevet Dec. 23/43.

He attended Operation Training Unit #111 at Nassau in the Bahama's where he crewed with an Australian Pilot, Co-pilot and Navigator, 3 Canadian Canadian WAG's, 1 RAF WEM and a Flight Engineer from Argentina.  At #44 (Air Training) Group, they were assigned to fly an aircraft to Karachi, where they arrived June 16/44, to Fly Special Assignment with #21 Ferry Command, Maripur Airport Karachi.  They were then posted to 200 Squadron in Coastal Command, St. Thomas Mount (Madras).  They were reassigned to 159 Squadron in Bomber Command with a Special Duties Flight where they completed their tour of duty on Jan. 15/45.

In 1962, he became a member of the 500 (City of Winnipeg) Wing, Air Force Association where he served at President and Secretary.  He was also a proud member of the Air Gunners Association and the Burma Bombers.

Contact: Charles Yule ~

We thank those who contributed to this Issue, without your efforts this Page would not be possible.  Much appreciated.

If you have any information relating to the “Search Pattern” articles, send gen to your Editor.

Doreene, my most caustic critic, did not think the following picture should be published however, I always leave the Editor’s Report until after proof reading, so please don’t tell her Ross Hamilton’s picture is here.

In Whitehorse Evelyn caught Ross on film checking out the local sights.

Didn’t you read the sign Ross? You can look, but don’t touch.

As mentioned in the February Page, chaps are sending in their old black and white photos. I have managed to scan them and get the photos back by return mail. When one looks at these old crew pictures the mind goes back to those who didn’t come home.

They shall grow not old
As we who are left grow old.

And we still see the young happy faces that made life possible in those dark days.

Remember to pass the hat for the CATP Museum.

Until April, keep well.

Cheers,  John & Doreene 

Please drop us some copy and pictures for April Issue.
Keep well.
John and Doreene Moyles
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St.,
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112
Regional Meetings

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.
Contact persons: 
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.

Northern Saskatchewan
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.

Southern Alberta
Location - Royal Canadian Legion  #264 
Kensington, Calgary
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 
Firefighters Social & Athletic Club, 
6515 Bonsor Avenue, 
Burnaby, B.C. V5H 3E8 
Super eating facilities
Contact person - Dave Sutherland       Ph. 604-431-0085

Members across the Country are encouraged to 
send current information regarding 
regular meeting places, dates, and Contact Members, to

John and Doreene Moyles, 
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St., 
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112


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: 

CATP Museum Inc.
Box 3, Grp. 520, RR5,
Brandon, MB   R7A 5Y5
 Phone: (204) 727-2444


Read Them All The Way Back To March 2001
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Visit Our WWII Nostalgia Online e-Zine 
and Past Issues Archive at:
As You Were: Contents
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum: RCAFHMCS Prince Robert: Hillman WWII Scrapbook - RCNXII Dragoons - 26 RCA Museum

Volunteer Webmaster: William G. Hillman
41 Kensington Crescent
Brandon, MB  R7A 6M4
 © 2008 Bill Hillman and Ex-Air Gunners Association