This beautiful Hallie was
sent in by Ted Turner who also supplied the Nose Art in this Newsletter.
Accuracy of Bomber Command
As much has been said about the accuracy
of Bomber Command during the early part of the war, I wish to recount two
of the raids we were on that were right on he money, even if they were
late in the war.
On March 15th. 1945 a daylight raid consisting
of 150 Halifax, 24 Mosquito, 14 Lancaster aircraft of 4,6,8, Groups, attacked
Benzol plants at Bottrop and Castrop/Rauxel. Both were rated as successful.
Our Squadron was on the Castrop/Rauxel
plant. Squadron Leader Ken France had the smoke plume generator in his
Halifax V11. At each turning point during the daylight raid, they emitted
a smoke trail for the gaggle to follow. Our pilot Ken Bain was tucked right
into the smoke emitting leader when someone in the first few aircraft hit
pay dirt. There was an immediate plume of white smoke quickly followed
by heavy black smoke visible for more than 50 miles from the burning target.
According to Bomber Command’s war Diaries,
only one Halifax as lost on the Bottrop target. On our target 23 Halifax
were damaged but all bombed the target and returned safely.
On April 15th. 1945 our crew was listed
for Ops in Halifax H. As a crew we had a harrowing experience in H on March
8th. When the starboard outer failed on take-off. Foolishly we tried to
make it to Hamburgh on three engines, then our port outer failed 100 miles
over the North Sea making it difficult to turn or climb. We just made it
back to Carnaby. After assurance the aircraft had four new engines and
had been checked out, we agreed to fly.
The daylight target was Heligoland. The
raid consisted of 617 Lancaster, 332 Halifax, and 20 Mosquito aircraft,
a total of 969 bombers. On take-off our bomb load was 9 - 1000 pounders
and the pilot kept the aircraft on the short runway right to the end and
gently lifted off. The aircraft sank and would not climb. It felt like
forever as we skimmed over tree tops when it finally smartened up and we
climbed to 2,500 feet. Two Halifax aircraft collided and went down over
the North Sea. The Pathfinders used Oboe controlled Mosquito aircraft to
drop 4000 lb bombs into the North Sea 30 miles North of Heligoland. This
created a huge boil in the water indicting a turning point for the gaggle
to line up for the run in.
We were in the first aircraft to start
the raid beginning with the airfield. The aircraft ahead of us blew up
and we flew through the smoke cloud. The pictures of this target show three
minutes of time over the airfield from our Squadron’s camera. And then
the larger bombs were dropped on the Naval Base and the City. From our
point of view they were bang on the Naval Base.
The trip home was uneventful and the pilot
reported the unusual problem on take-off. A check found the main spar cracked
and the aircraft was scrapped and carted away. We also heard that the CO
who, upon witnessing our take-off, had sent the fire truck looking for
our crash site. One thing about daylight raids was that you could see the
results but you could also see the black puffs of flak filling the sky
and other aircraft being hit. But that was a long time ago.
Ed. Stan sent a copy of their crew picture
taken when they arrived at 432 Squadron however, my scanner would not make
a clear reproduction. I guess it was the way it was copied. The picture
shows the crew standing in one line with no hats, no smiles, and hands
behind their backs. In conversation with Stan he said that all crews on
arrival had their pictures taken in that order, left to right, and in the
same pose. The powers-to-be told them that this was to assist in identification
at crash sites. Comforting thought!
VS Sub by W.F.Beals DFC
Taken from 422 Squadron Newsletter March
W/O Beales related the following story
to F/O David Griffin, RCAF Public relations Officer.
Back - George Clare,
Doug Mesney, Jim Rutherford, Jim Stafford, Bill Beales
Front – Jack Shand, Art
Bellis, Paul Sargent, Ches Steeves, Mike Stefanik
(Leo Needham, Flight
Engineer, F/L Woodward, and Bill Campbell, 3rd pilot, were not present
when the above crew picture was taken. George Clare in the picture is not
mentioned in the crew list.)
Our crew was part of a Sunderland flying
boat Squadron on Coastal Command. We had been together for more than a
year, had flown thousands of miles on patrol, always lived in hope that
we would spot the enemy. We liked our work; liked each other, and we liked
our ship. You get attached to those Sunderlands. They are a great aircraft.
One morning we were called and given a
whopping breakfast. We knew there was something in the wind. It was cold
and there was suspicion of fog rolling around the corners of the buildings
as we jogged over to ops for our briefing. The crew was F/L Paul Sargent,
Toronto, Skipper, F/O Art Bellis, Victoria, Co-pilot, P/O Chesley Steves,
Elgin, NB., was at the Navigator’s desk, F/O Bill Campbell, RAF, was Third
pilot. Others were: F/L Woodward, Flt/Sgt. Needham, Georgie Rutherford
and Douglas Mesney, RAF; Flt/Sgt. J.D. Stafford, Calgary on waist guns,
P/O J.D. Shand, Lethbridge AB, wireless air gunner, and myself as radio
operator. We’d figured on something pretty big, but when they told us that
five aircraft would take off on a straight sweep, we had an idea we were
going to get our wish – that this time we would really tangle with the
was dark when we took off and the engines were rolling over like a song.
Daylight broke grey and down below the ocean was rolling. You see a lot
of ocean when on patrol, so no one bothered to admire the beauties of nature.
But we were watching.
I was up forward when we got to the place
where we were supposed to turn back. We had been flying straight out for
nine hours. Then around one o’clock in the afternoon we got a sighting
– two enemy submarines. I couldn’t believe it at first. It was like when
you are fishing and you’re just about to give up when you get a big strike.
I let out a yell and the Skipper gave her
the gun. At the same time he snapped over the intercom, “Attacking immediately.”
The Skipper was standing up trying to get more speed out of her. The Third
Pilot, Bill Campbell was in the co-pilot’s seat, Bellis and Shand were
by the waist guns and camera, Stafford in the mid-upper turret; George
Rutherford in the tail turret; Needham on the job as Engineer, and I was
banging away at the radio, sending out the first sighting report.
We’d been hunting subs for months and here
were two, surfaced, and running along about 10 to 11 knots on a 90 degree
course. The Skipper took her down, took a bit of evasive action and then
started his run. Then we saw the enemy were staying on the surface to shoot
it out with us. We were not concerned as the shell bursts drifted past,
but we took it differently when we got within range. Just as we were going
in for the kill a shell exploded in the front of the Sunderland blowing
everything to pieces. I didn’t know whether it was a 20mm or an Oerlikon
shell but it sure messed things up. The Skipper kept right on. Tracers
were coming up thick and fast but he shoved her down.
took from 20 to 30 hits. The jolts were terrific. Every time we took one
the Sunderland would shake and shudder, and go on. Shells knocked out our
radio, put holes in the hull you could stick your head through. They had
us in a cross fire and if we wanted to get in on them we had to take it.
The Skipper could have broken off the attack, he would have been justified
– but that wasn’t our Skipper. The big compass took a hit and was knocked
clean through the side of the ship leaving a hole you could crawl through.
We were so busy we didn’t notice the uproar.
You’re too intent on what you have to do, that’s where training comes in.
We went over the sub at 75 feet and the depth charges were away, but they
were short. You could see them spout up just behind the sub, but not close
enough. At the same time Shand and Stafford were firing into the gun crews.
Tracers from our Sunderland were pouring onto the deck of the first sub
and at the same time we were taking fire from the other one. The gun crews
wilted, and one subs guns stopped.
We kept on taking hits ourselves and this
is where the business about P/O Shand losing his pants comes in.
Our intercom had been knocked out and I had to run up and down stairs with
instructions from the Skipper to the men at battle stations. The Sunderland
is a big ship with two decks so, with no intercom, you needed a messenger
boy. When I go to Shand he was sitting on the floor, no pants, and holding
up the broken plug from his intercom. He pointed at it and pointed at where
his pants should be. Bellis, with his helmet blown clean of his head, and
Stafford, were standing over him. Those two started to laugh and they got
me going too. Then Shand cracked a smile. We just roared. When I got back
on the top deck, Needham the Engineer, was singing at the top of his voice.
But we were hurt. Our good old ship was
loggy on the controls when we came about for the second attack. The Skipper
was putting her in again! The sailors on the sub we had attacked had manned
their guns again and the other one joined in sending up a regular curtain
of fire. It was cross fire down low, just where we would have to go to
get at them.
The Skipper bulled in – ignoring all evasive
action to make sure of a kill. The old girl was down to 75 feet and going
straight through the fire. There was another shuddering whallop and Needham
and Woodward were killed. We went over the sub, taking the cross fire and
dropped more charges. Rutherford in the tail turret let out a yell that
could be heard throughout the ship. The sub seemed to lift about four feet
and then it was gone, no crash dive. It just disappeared. There were no
cheers. We were all too busy.
I was on a machine gun strafing the decks
of the remaining sub. A shell hit near me. I felt a jar against my hand.
The handle of the machine gun had been shot out from between my fingers.
The remaining sub kept firing until we were out of range. I then realized
I could hear screaming above the engines which were banging as if they
would come apart, but this screaming rose above them.
Lower deck on Sunderland
looking back towards tail turret. Note catwalk.
Stafford and Shand went forward over the
catwalk to get the two dead gunners into the wardroom. Everything below
the catwalk had been shot away, leaving the whole front of the ship just
hanging there. When they crossed the catwalk there was nothing under them
but ocean. They got the gunners out and I rushed to see where the screams
were coming from.
It was Steves, the Navigator. He was on
the floor beside his table. There was no hope of saving him. He was still
alive and he knew me. He made a motion and I bent down. He could hardly
talk. His good hand held his navigator’s pencil. As I bent close he said,
“We’re in 50, 40, and course to convoy is 46. Tell the Skipper.” Then he
held up his right hand, still holding the pencil, and gave me a thumbs
up sign. I damn near cried. Making that sign was the last thing Steves
There was no use moving him so I went to
the Skipper with the position and reported damage. Our starboard outer
was making 2,350 revolutions a minute; our starboard inner 2,100, port
outer 700, and port inner 300 revs. They were nearly torn apart but were
still on the job. We had no compass, little control and losing height.
All our dinghies except one had been shot out of the wings.
The Skipper hauled her around and headed
for the convoy 20 miles way. He ordered us to get ready for ditching. How
we went the 20 miles none of us will ever know. Maybe the skipper put some
of himself into the ship because she managed to hang together. I was busy
with the wireless trying to make it run and everyone went to the station
assigned by the Skipper. We didn’t do it according to the book, because
at times like that there are things that the book doesn’t take into account.
spotted one of the escort ships and our flares went out. I had the Aldis
lamp and was flashing signals. Then the Skipper let her down. We hit 100
feet to the lee of the escort, landing on the crest of a breaking wave
and bounced into the air. The breaking wave filled the lower half of our
hull. The tail came off and we were knocked around. I came to under water
and must have gotten out through a hole in the aircraft. Shand crawled
through the broken tail, Mesney, with a broken leg, went through a hole
in the floor, as did Stafford and Rutherford.
She was still floating when I came up and
the escort was right along side. Bellis lay on one of the wings, snarled
in loose wires. A sailor skinned down a ladder and got him free.
The Skipper and Campbell must have been
thrown through the glass in front because I saw the Skipper come up about
40 feet in front of the Sunderland. I grabbed the ship’s ladder. The escort
had drifted close to the Skipper. Campbell was on the ladder with me and
we made a grab for the Skipper’s jacket. We got him up to the ladder but
he was caught in some wires from the sinking Sunderland. Then she
gave a lurch and went down. Paul Sargent was pulled out of our grasp and
went down with her.
I think that the few seconds that Campbell
and I hung onto the ladder and looked down into the ocean, where the old
Sunderland was drifting down with the skipper, were the worst either of
us will ever have. When we got onto the deck the doctor and medical orderlies
led us away, cut off our cloths, and put us to bed.
We were able to give the course and location
of the other sub and the Destroyer Drury left in a hurry. We heard it came
back later licking its chops. They were sure they had made a kill.
The Drury brought us to Newfoundland where
we recovered in a few days. I’d like to note something before winding up.
A Sunderland is a good swap for two submarines, but that can’t make up
for our Skipper and the pals we lost.
Hi John! Here is the photo of our crew
with the names . I am not sure you can put names to the rest of the pics
but if not let me know. My pilot Pat just heard from Karl Kjarsgaard in
Ottawa who is tracing down another Halifax bomber that ditched near Scotland
in 1945 and seems to be in good enough condition to salvage so he is trying
to go after it .Our crew had flown on missions in that same Aircraft so
he was interested in interviews from my skipper. I will send you briefs
on that also.
L to R -Adam “Shorty”
Kell, E.B. “Ted” Turner, Peter Provias,
Lloyd “Pat” Patten, Ron
Watson, Bob Hill, Gordon Ford.
Queen of them All
Friday the 13th.
From Don Macfie’s Diary
August 25, 1942 – This evening an aircraft
(Sunderland) from 228 Squadron RAF crashed into a Scottish hillside with
the Duke of Kent on board. All were killed with the exception of rear gunner
Flt/Sgt Andy Jack. P/O Saunders the Navigator was with us in Debert
NS. That is eight Debert boys lost since we came over in June.
August 27 – We flew over to Invergordon
today, taking the CO of 288 over to see about the return of the bodies
from the crash. We went up Caledonia Canal and by Inverness. We flew up
the valley between the mountains. It was really the nicest scenery I had
Note: some weeks later at Oban I was standing
at a bar and noticed Andy Jack beside me. He was jut out of hospital minus
most of his nose. I asked him what had happened. He leaned over and whispered,
“I think the Duke was flying.”
Ed – Don sent us a large number of black
and whites he had taken during the war. I scanned them into the computer
and mailed the originals back to him. We will share these with our
readers in the future. Here is one that will bring back memories.
AC2 Don Macfie on Guard Duty
at #17 Equipment Depot, RCAF Victoria Island, Ottawa.
“When you draw duty at the
gate you have to look smart.”
Guard Duty is one thing
most of us experienced.
Lets hear about your days
walking the perimeter fence.
Ed - Let me relate one of mine:
When we were transferred from Brandon Manning
Depot to #2 Wireless School in Calgary AB., April 1941, the School could
not accommodate us. Result, Guard Duty for three weeks.
The first few days we guarded #10 Repair
Depot in down town Calgary adjacent to the wild animal park. On my first
shift patrolling the perimeter fence at 3 a.m., the local lion roared.
I almost had laundry to do!
Then 12 of us, with a corporal in charge,
were sent on temporary duty to guard the airfield at High River, AB. There
were no personnel there as the station was just being constructed. Our
job was to prevent bales of shingles, piles of lumber, carpenter’s tools
and contracting equipment, from walking away during the night. We had 12
hours on and 12 hours off. While we were off we were billeted with families
in High River. It was a pleasant change from barracks. Gordon Lee
and I stayed with the Bairds.
At the air base there was just a small
Guard shack with double deck bunks, a hot plate for making tea, cans of
condensed milk, and lots of stray cats. Food came out from Calgary in heated
containers but I think it lost most of its steam at the Okotok’s hill.
They gave us Lee Enfield rifles on which
we had received no training. There had been cases of chaps firing off a
few rounds so they took away our ammunition. Some chaps found ammo and
more rounds were fired. They took the bolts from our rifles,
leaving us with the stock, barrel, and the long bayonet.
One moonlit night my buddy and I had removed
the “big knife” from our rifles and were having fun throwing our bayonets
into bales of shingles. Suddenly a vehicle pulled up and a Flying Officer
and W02 (ground types) stepped out. We were caught with our bayonets
stuck in the shingles. I shouldered arms and came to attention. My buddy
tried to take the ‘on guard’ stance. The officer shouted at him. “Let me
inspect your rifle airman.”
My colleague said, “Yes Sir,” and tossed
his rifle to the officer.
The officer caught it and started screaming
at us, “ Don’t you know you should never give up your weapon to a stranger.
I could shoot you both!”
“Oh, no you couldn’t Sir,” said my friend.
“And why not,” said the officer levelling
the rifle at us.
“No ammunition, no bolt Sir.”
The officer and NCO looked closely at the
rifle. Quietly he said, “Oh yes, I see,” and handed the rifle back. The
two walked to their car and drove away. We think they had made a few pub
stops before arriving.
On a very hot day one of the chaps was
sleeping strip-jack-naked on a top bunk in the guard shack. We decided
to pour some condensed milk on his stomach and then put a big tabby cat
up onto the bunk. The cat immediately began to clean up the milk. A moment
later the poor chap awoke, sat bolt upright, took a swing at the cat, which,
not to be deprived of his lunch, dug in his claws. When the airman and
cat hit the floor the shack was deserted.
Ok, lets have your stories.
Thank you for your note about our reunion
(Burma Bomber Association) in Short Bursts for September 2003. We had a
great “do” and are still finding new members who have just leaned of our
I have now become President of the Association
and thought the attached might be of interest to some of your Members.
Thanks also on the write up on Jock McBride.
I was with 99 Squadron on Island
of Cocos. Harry Bray was on 356 Squadron which was also on Cocos. (Harry
Bray passed away Dec. 29, 2003.)
Burma Bomber Association
9 Abinger Crescent,
Canada. M9B 2Y5
The following is a letter passed to Larry
by George Hosegood concerning a similar Association in the UK.
Feb. 2, 2004.
5 OTU (BC) ASSOCIATION
24 Seafield Avenue,
BN12 4NJ UK
Tel. 01903 245970
I have been given your name and address
by Ron Bramley, who is a member of the Burma Bombers and who attended last
I am one of the organizers of the above
mentioned Association which has been meeting for Reunions at Stratford-upon-Avon
for some years now. Our numbers are dropping but we have a hard core of
members who intend to keep it going a long as possible. We still occasionally
enjoy welcoming new members who have not previously known about us.
We all flew in Liberators and, as you will
probably be aware, we were RAF aircrew who trained at the RCAF OTU at Boundary
Bay and Abbotsford for eventual posting to the far east.
I wonder whether there may be any members
of Burma Bombers who also trained at 5 OUT but who have not heard of our
organization. I am writing to say that should this be the case, we would
be pleased to enjoy their company at future reunions. Indeed, any aircrew
who flew Liberators elsewhere, and who would be interested in joining us,
will also be welcome.
Would it be possible please for you to
include a short item regarding this matter in a future newsletter.
Alan E. Rumbelow.
I was printing up some Short Bursts for
my father Fred Burnyeat off the website and thought you might be interested
in a picture I took of Dad on Remembrance Day.
He continues to do well, and thoroughly
enjoys the Short Bursts. It brings back many memories, which we are lucky
enough to share.
Keep up the excellent work.
Bob Burnyeat, MSAA
AODBT Architecture Interior Design
301 Third Avenue South
Saskatoon, Sk S7K 1M6
Fred Burnyeat – 2003 – And
it still fits.
Dear John and Doreene;
I came across your web site quite by accident
and was delighted to have stumbled onto it.
My name is Gordon Hobbs and I reside in
the Toronto area. My father was Charles "Hobby" Hobbs who passed away a
few years ago.
My father joined the RCAF as a young lad
and trained as a tail gunner. He was sent overseas where he eventually
was assigned with a RAF unit. For most of his flights he was a tail gunner
on a Lancaster.
During the last number of missions my father's
crew was re assigned as part of a pathfinder unit As unbelievable as it
may sound my father and his crew mates where on their 42 or 43 mission
before being shot down.
My dad's pilot's surname was McNichol (sp)
who was from somewhere in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately he did not survive
the attack and subsequent crash in occupied territory. My father was the
only survivor of the crash and was taken prisoner where he spent the last
two years of the war.
My father says that McNichol was the bravest
man he ever met. Rather than parachuting out of the damaged plane and saving
his own life he kept it in flight long enough to give my father time to
climb through the chute to the front of the aircraft. By that time the
aircraft had lost too much altitude and the two were destined to crash.
However as the Lancaster was going down a German fighter in a cowardly
fashion re-attacked them, killing pilot McNichol.
If it is of any interest to you I will
obtain a copy of my father's book that he subsequently wrote while a resident
in the veteran's wing of Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto and forward it
Ed. - Gordon sent three copies of his
Dad’s book, PAST TENSE - CHARLIE’S STORY. A copy has gone to Member Jim
Cole in Balgonie Sk., and Charley Yule in Winnipeg, with instructions to
Thank you Gordon for encouraging your
Dad to do this work and for sharing it with our Members.
Past Tense CHARLIE’S STORY
by Charlie Hobbs
1994 - Soft cover –208 pages – 26 illustrations.
$18.95 plus $4.50 postage and GST.
To order: General Store Publishing
1 Main St.,
Burnstown, Ontario, Canada. K0J 1G0
Charlie Hobbs, Ex-Air Gunner, RCAF, has
left us a priceless legacy. Charlie’s account of his experiences in WWII
begins in Toronto in 1940. It is the writer’s use of innuendo and his sense
of humour that makes this work so compelling. Often it is what he leaves
to his reader’s imagination which speaks volumes, e.g. an English girl
friend’s suggestion, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, that they park their
bicycles next to a secluded haystack.
Charlie’s service account unfolds as follows.
Through the first 56 pages Charlie takes you from Manning Deport to OTU,
then 40 pages cover operations consisting of 43 missions, and the final
100 pages move though numerous POW Camps.
At #16 OTU Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire,
Charlie’s crew were seconded to help make up the numbers in Churchill’s
retaliatory 1000 bomber raids, their first baptism to fire. After a brief
time with #207 Squadron, they moved to #83 Squadron P.F.F (Pathfinder
Force) , at Wyton, Huntingdonshire (Wyton Hunts). Many of their missions
were to Italian targets. April 16/17 1943, on their 44th operational flight
to Skoda Works, Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, their luck ran out.
There is a vivid description of survival
in numerous POW camps. It is an account of resourcefulness, ingenuity,
and devious schemes to keep their enemy custodians off balance. Much of
this is described with gallow’s humour.
If you served as aircrew during WWII, regardless
of what theatre of operations, you will be able to relate to many of Charlie’s
experiences. You will pause and say, “Yeah, that reminds me of when….”
I recommend this book for your WWII Book
Reviewed by John Moyles
Smokey Robson, faithful as ever, phoned
to say that the Northern Saskatchewan Group were keeping their monthly
luncheon attendance to 20/22 members and enjoying the moment.
We thank Stan Sullivan for his contribution
to this page and also Don Macfie for his black and whites and for his support
of our newsletter over the years. We encourage other members to put pen
to paper. Without you we will not be able to publish.
This Page is being read around the world.
A Neil Mennie emailed us from New York. His father, Fergus Mennie, who
has passed away, was a bomb-aimer in the RCAF. He typed his father’s name
and squadron into a search engine on the net and, “Walla” up comes Short
Bursts right to the month (June 2002)
where his Dad was in a crew photo. We were
able to put him in touch with his Dad’s Wop/Ag, Ted Rainer
For members on the internet, or those who
have family on the net, I would like to mention a free program I belong
to. The purpose of this program is to unite “Netters” and give them an
opportunity to exchange ideas. It is a lot of fun. For a laugh, and to
witness what Father Time has done to the old curmudgeon, check out my site
Let us hear from you, and don’t forget
to pass the hat for our benefactor, The C.A.T.P. Museum in Brandon. And
a big collective thank you to our busy Web Master, Bill Hillman.
Until May, Keep well.
John & Doreene Moyles – editors.