Embraceable “U”

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Embraceable “U”

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Embraceable “U”

“Embraceable You” is a very popular jazz song, music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, written in 1928 but not published until 1930. Performed by Judy Garland in the MGM 1943 film Crazy Girl, and record release by Nat King Cole in the same year, became a huge wartime hit. I prefer the 1944 recording by Billie Holiday, just listen to her voice [online] and it will take you back to wartime 1944. This song title also inspired [Beer] nose art on one RCAF Halifax Bomber in No. 408 [Goose] Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse, England.

RCAF Nose Art on Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial number NP742, No. 408 Squadron, August 1944.

Halifax serial NP742 was manufactured in a Batch NP736 to NP781, 1 August to 9 September 1944 by Handley Page Ltd. Cricklewood and Radlett plant. Arrived with RCAF No. 408 [Goose] Squadron, Linton-on-Ouse, 8 August 1944. Assigned the aircraft code letters LQ-R, the Halifax completed 22 operations with no [known] nose art painting or name. On 18 November a Category “A” accident took place and the Canadian bomber went for major repairs.

After repairs were completed, Halifax NP742 rejoined No. 408 Squadron on 13 January 1945, and flew her 23rd operation [Duisburg, Germany] on 21/22 February by WOI R.E. Craven R123205. During her repainting, early January 1945, the bomber received the new code letters LQ-U and it is most likely the new nose art painting was completed around this date. Inspired by the hit song “Embraceable You” with a mug of British Ale, the nose art was completed by an unknown artist. The 24th operation was flown 23 February 1945, [Essen, Germany] P/O A.M. Brown J92578, followed by operation #25 on 23/24 Feb., [Pforzheim, Germany] by the new assigned aircrew of WOI R. Herringer R169453. This became ‘their’ aircraft flown on nineteen of her last twenty-one combat operations.

Operations flown by the aircrew of WOI R. Herringer #R169453:

#25      23 February 1945      Pforzheim                50 attacked primary target

#26      24 February               Kamen                       108 attacked primary

#27      27 February               Mainz                         182 attacked primary

#28      1 March                     Mannheim                 159 attacked primary

#29      2 March                     Cologne                     177 attacked primary

#30      11 March                   Essen                          194 attacked primary

#31      12 March                   Dortmund                  191 attacked primary

#32      13 March                   Wuppertal                   97 attacked primary

#33      14/15 March              Zweibrucken             192 attacked primary

#34      21 March                   Rheine                          80 attacked primary

#35      22 March                   Dorsten                        96 attacked primary

#36      24 March                    Gladbeck                      95 attacked primary

#37      25 March                    Munster                       92 attacked primary

#38      31 March                    Hamburg                    189 attacked primary

#39      4/5 April                     Merseburg                 104 attacked primary

#40      8/9 April                     Hamburg                    184 attacked primary

#41      10 April                      Leipzig                         188 attacked primary

#44      22 April                      Bremen                      200 returned early

#45      25 April                      Wangerooge             184 attacked primary (Last RCAF operation in WWII.)

Operation #42 was flown by P/O A.J. Cull J92246 on 13/14 April 45 and operation #43 was flown by F/O A.A. Clifford J36136 on 18 April 1945. This unknown crew could possibly be one of the two mentioned, as they posed under the nose art and chalked [not painted] in the words “Calgary Pale” for their Alberta brand of beer [Pale Ale] brewed by the “Horseshoe and Buffalo” Brewing and Malting Co. Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta. Photo from collection of No. 432 pilot Harold Kearl, Calgary.

Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. Ltd bottles had a wide range of Beer labels, however, it was against the law in Alberta to advertise Beer and only soft drinks could appear with the Horseshoe and Buffalo label. Alberta Liquor laws were just weird until 1957, when mixed drinking with men and women was finally authorized and major changes did not really come until the 1970’s. [In 1963, the author discovered Quebec was the best place to drink in all of Canada, still is].

On Operation #40, 8/9 April 1945, Halifax NP742 had an encounter with a new German jet fighter, but no hits were scored on the enemy aircraft.

The proud Halifax bomber was ready for disposal on 16 May 1945, flown to the huge Halifax graveyard at RAF No. 43 Group, Rawcliffe, on 23 May and parked for scrapping. Struck off charge by the RAF on 26 May 45, the aircraft was photographed [above] by F/l Harold Lindsay a few days later. Marked for preservation and return to Canada, the nose art was not saved, reason still unknown.

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