Willie the Wolf – PDF and Text Versions

Willie the Wolf – PDF and Text Versions

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Willie the Wolf

Click on the link above.


Wolves were once present in extraordinarily large numbers on the original island of Great Britain, and skeletal remains show they were the same size as today’s Canadian wolves. The species was slowly exterminated from the U.K. through a combination of deforestation and active trapping through bounty systems. According to Scottish folklore the last Wolf was killed in 1743, and their total extinction continues until present day. There still remains a strong resistance to reintroduce the Wolf to Scotland and England, however during the Second World War “Willie the Wolf” was secretly reintroduced to the United Kingdom and he produced a new generation of over two million offsprings, which remain part of their population today.

Text version (with all the images seen in the PDF version)

Willie the Wolf

[Author collection of Willie Wolf Nose Art on an American B-24 bomber in England 1944]

Wolves were once present in extraordinarily large numbers on the original island of Great Britain, and skeletal remains show they were the same size as today’s Canadian wolves. The species was slowly exterminated from the U.K. through a combination of deforestation and active trapping through bounty systems. According to Scottish folklore the last Wolf was killed in 1743, and their total extinction continues until present day. There still remains a strong resistance to reintroduce the Wolf to Scotland and England, however during the Second World War “Willie the Wolf” was secretly reintroduced to the United Kingdom and he produced a new generation of over two million offspring, which remain part of their population today.

The American 8th Air Force Historical Society was founded in 1975, by an original Lead B-24 pilot in the 466th Bomb Group, Lt. Col. John H. Woolnought, USAF, [retired]. That same year, the author was a ten-year veteran of the Metro. Toronto Police Force, employed in the print room [Dungeon] of the Identification Bureau at 590 Jarvis St. My main duties were fingerprinting endless lines of prisoners, learning to classify fingerprints and mastering the art of developing photographs in a dark room, hypo splasher. [replaced by the computer] After ten years of dealing with the dark side of Toronto’s mankind, the only real enjoyment became the few minutes I could spend in the darkroom, all alone, developing my own WWII aircraft nose art 35 mm negatives.  Though your author didn’t know it at the time, this experience proved to be a vital starting point in the next forty-six years of aircraft nose art collection and preservation of WWII aircraft photos. In a 1975 letter penned to Col. John Woolnought, I explained my interest in the subject of 8th Air Force WWII Nose Art, repainting and preserving this lost art, and if I could join the 8th A.F. as an associate member. In January 1976, I became an Associate [Canadian] member 644A, and shared letters with founder Woolnought. To my surprise, I learned Sgt. John Woolnought had become an Air Force photo instructor [hypo splasher] at Lowry Field, Colorado, in 1942, and later went to flying school and became a Liberator pilot in the 8th A.F. At the time, John was collecting original negatives and photos for the future 1978 publication of the first 8th A.F. Album, the story of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in WWII. I wrote back, and asked why not start a nose art column in the 8th A.F. Journal, which was then published four times each year, and learn more about the reasons for painting this art in time of war. I was not prepared for his reply in a following letter. The pilot who founded the 8th A.F. Historical Society, was giving this unknown Canadian his own small nose art column in the Mighty Eighth Newsletter, preserving their WWII nose paintings. By 1977, John had amassed a collection of over 6,000 photographs and hundreds of forgotten nose art images. Next came the formation of the 8th A.F. Memorial Museum Foundation, to establish and maintain a museum plus museum collections of 8th A.F. memorabilia. Another major project was the establishment of the 8th A.F. Collection in the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, England. In the spring of 1978, “The 8th A.F. Album” was published and it contained a section with hundreds of nose art photos. By 1980, the 8th A.F. Historical Society had grown to almost 8,000 members and the photo collection was nearly 10,000 images, with a second book, “The 8th Air Force Yearbook” published [1981] plus another section devoted to American nose art painted in England.  The author’s nose art column in the 8th A.F. News was also growing in both content and hundreds of letters received which preserved vital information combined with the discovery of many forgotten Americans who painted aircraft in WWII. This information was later published in the 1987 book – “Vintage Aircraft Nose Art “Ready for Duty” by Gary M. Valant and the 1991 publication “The History of Aircraft Nose Art WWI to Today” by Jeffrey Ethell and the author.

While my nose art column was small in size, I soon realized it was my choice of subject matter which produced the most interest and welcome stack of letters with attached original nose art photos, which I copied and printed. [learned at Toronto I-Dent. Bureau] This is my original 8th Air Force News Journal story which was published in 1982, and it produced an above normal amount of letters and nose art connected with “Miss Lace” “The Wolf” and also the slang word “Willie.”

Author collection

Love and War represent the two far extremes of our full human experience and combined with death and separation, produced millions of wartime love affairs. While conducting over two thousand Air Force wartime interviews, almost half of these veterans shared [with the author, not his wife] a World War Two sexual relationship which had a profound impact on this man for the rest of his life. [Some good, some bad] From 1939-45, over five million British infants were born and one-third were illegitimate [from a non-British biological father]. These babies were born to every age group of British mothers, and reached their peak in 1945, when 16.1% of 1000 births were illegitimate. The high death rate in the Air Force [RCAF, and USAAF] provided a powerful incentive to make love at every opportunity, and a large percentage of foreign males did just that. Over 22,100 Canadians fathered a child by an English mother, and perhaps the most famous became a world known rock and blues guitarist.

Sixteen-year-old British teenager Patricia Molly Clapton gave birth to a son 30 March 1945, [Eric Patrick Clapton] and his father was a Canadian soldier named Edward Fryer, who had returned back home to Montreal, Quebec. With so many servicemen seeking romantic encounters with British ladies, the slang name “Wolf” or “Wolf-Pack” was soon applied as these soldiers roamed like a pack of Wolves seeking sex. If you study American/Canadian teenage slang for the early 1940s you will find a number of terms were used to describe a male who’s fast with the ladies. B.T.O. [Big Time Operator], Wolf on a scooter, educated Fox, or just Wolf. The American Forces in England created a huge slang of their own and a number of books can be found online if readers are interested. The term G.I. for Government Issue was first used in the magazine “Stars and Stripes” in February 1942, and soon expanded to G.I. Jane [Women’s Army Corps], G.I. Joe [Common Soldier] and G.I. Jesus [Chaplain]. In January 1942, a dark haired, 5’ 1”, baby-faced Lenny Sansone enlisted in the U.S. Army and after training was posted to Fort Belvoir, Va., where he worked on the Camp Newspaper “Duckboard.”

Born in Norwood, Norfolk, near Boston, in 1917, Lenny was a graduate of Massachusetts School of Art and became a commercial artist in his short civilian life. For a gag, he created a cartoon G.I. soldier with a Wolf head, who had a one-track mind [SEX] when it came to women, named “G.I. Wolf.” When the Camp Newspaper Service was created, Pte. Sansone was transferred and his new editors saw the obvious possibilities in the cartoon and the title was changed to read “The Wolf.”

Cartoonist Pte. Lenny Sansone at Camp Newspaper Service.

The new cartoon caught on with Allied troops immediately, and was soon syndicated around the world appearing in over 1,000 service newspapers including those of the RCAF in Canada and England. By 1943, the “Wolf” began to appear in hundreds of different paintings as American aircraft nose art.

Author collection

The Wolf even appeared in Spanish on one American B-24 aircraft nose art. [Author collection]

Author collection

Lenny Sansone was a very talented artist and his cartoon was kept very simple, a well drawn sexy looking American Lady, the facial expression on the G.I. Wolf, with a catch line mostly reflecting on the subject of sex. This comic art [Wolf chasing a pin-up girl] soon began appearing as nose art on many aircraft, and a new trend was being created.

[Internet free domain image]

This happy-faced Wolf praying, dreaming of a nude British lady, was called “Los Lobos” and flew with the 449th B.G. Different Wolf nose art also appeared on the port nose of the same B-24 aircraft.  The effect of “The Wolf” cartoon strip was becoming a humorous, and at the same time, a factual part of wartime European Theatre aircraft nose art. The Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, and most of all the [over-paid] Americans were in fact changing the future DNA of a new generation [Wolves] being born in the United Kingdom. Today hundreds of British citizens are learning of their past [Wolf] roots thanks to modern DNA.

By 1942, American artists George Petty and Alberta Vargas had achieved world fame and public recognition, however another American artist named Gil Elvgren was emerging as the most loved and respected pin-up painter of the Second World War. In 1937-38 he created a series of pin-up paintings and these were reissued in 1942, in a twelve-page booklet form, which could be mailed to American soldiers serving overseas. These reissued American pin-up glamour girls had a major effect on USAAF aircraft nose art in the United Kingdom, and around the world.

The Gil Elvgren pin-girl began appearing as aircraft nose art and many were being chased by a Wolf. The 8th A.F. in England had five B-17 Fortress bombers named “Wolf Pack” including the 384th B. G. serial 42-29723, BK-B, seen above. [Author collection]

The simple Sansone cartoon [The Wolf] produced a wide range of nose art which involved all the famous pin-up girls of the time. In the 8th Air Force alone nine bombers [B-17 and B-24] carried the name “Wolf Pack” followed by Wolf’s Den, Wolf’s Lair, Wolfless, and Wolves Inc., which appeared on four known aircraft.

Author collection

In 1943, two colour photos of waist gunner Frank T. Lusic appeared in front of his B-17F, serial 42-29524, named “Meat Hound.” Today the WWII true sexual meaning has been lost to the newest generation of model builders, and it had nothing to do with Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.

War and Military breeds a different culture all its own and with it comes a new slang language. The world wide scale of the Second World War inspired thousands of new slang words and a large number found their way to aircraft nose art paintings. In 1962, the author joined the Canadian Army [Military Police] and began basic training at Camp Borden, Ontario, in early July.  Just two weeks into our course, my platoon was ordered by our Drill Staff Sergeant to strip naked and line up in front of a Medical Officer, who sat on a chair, beside a box of large flat wooden sticks. When your turn came, the officer took out a new stick, and then proceeded to pock around your genital organ until he yelled “next.” This was called “Short Arm Inspection” and that was the new Army Medical term for my penis. One of my fellow classmates was found to be infested with pubic lice and it was soon announced he had ‘Crotch Crickets’ and we never saw him again. That was my first recruit introduction to postwar Canadian Army slang.

During the first three months of Canadian Army Basic Training all recruits were confined to camp area, and no 48 hour passes were issued, you had to earn them. [impossible] This meant no drinking, no contact with females and of course no sex. [impossible] The Army slang word for your penis was “Willie” and most mornings you woke up with a “Woody-Willie” the slang for a penile erection. These male sexual slang words originated in the military during WWII and were still very much in use twenty-years later.

Author collection

This B-24J, serial 44-40271 flew with the American 14th Air Force during WWII with nose art showing a G.I. chasing a flying nude who was a “Willie Maker.” Slowly the slang word Willie [for penis] was being added to the Wolf and the aircraft nose art name became very common. By 1944, Leonard “Lenny” Sansone had been promoted to Staff/Sgt. and his cartoon was appearing in over 1,600 Camp Newspapers in U.S., Canada, and Britain. By now his Wolf had caused a major shift in nose art paintings, showing troops and or Wolf chasing nude or topless ladies, with slang catch names – Jamaica? [Did you make her?] Heavenly Body, Sack Time, Miss Slip Stream, Shackeroo, The Peter Heater, and very commonly painted Lakanooki. “Nooki” was military slang for having sex.

Author collection

Even the U.S. Navy got into the act of painting Wolf-Headed sailors. No matter what art form or what name, the Wolf joined the ranks of the Pin-Up girl and Walt Disney characters as possibly the third most painted nose art during the last year of WWII. [Author]

In 1944, S/Sgt. Leonard Sansone created a pun style cartoon directed at USAAF aviation aircraft nose art, showing his Wolf sexual conquests. [Internet]

While RCAF Canadian artists were equal or even better than some American counterparts, the demand for American strips “Male Call” [with Miss Lace] and “The Wolf” allowed both to be published across Canada in RCAF training newsletter magazines. [Author]

No. 4 RCAF Bombing and Gunnery School at Final, Ontario, “Observer” published both American cartoons “The Wolf” and “Male Call” each month.

RCAF artists created many cartoons drawing the aircraft they used in training, like the Avro Anson at No. 7 Bombing and Gunnery School at Paulson, Manitoba. American Coke ads also featured drawings of Canadians in RCAF uniform and a rare few appeared in French language like No. 9 Air Observer School, St. Jean, Quebec, above.

RCAF No. 1 Central Flying School at Trenton, Ontario, “Contact Newsletter” published two Wolf cartoons to one Male Call every month.

RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland, featured a comedy love column and a cover girl page by none other than their RCAF “Willie de Wolf.”

The American Camp Newspaper strip “Male Call” began in the summer of 1942, with a gal named Burma, [from Terry and the Pirates] but soon ran into trouble with the newspaper syndicate in New York. In short, Milton Caniff then created Miss Lace, his free contribution to the American War effort. Lace soon became an aircraft nose art “Paper Doll” winner. [Internet]

In Milton Caniff’s own words, “Miss Lace was his visualization of the girl back home, the one the American G.I. left to go to war.” She was a “Paper Doll”, a point of view, a wet dream, always there, always available, but yet never available. She always turned the tables on the hot pants G.I. [The Wolves] and hot shot officers who wanted to take her to bed. Miss Lace was always there for the cold, wet, G.I., an average forgotten American guy dumped in some shit-hole part of the world he had never heard of. For two minutes, these WWII soldiers read the strip and then their mind wandered back home, a pretty girl, and it didn’t matter what country they came from. Miss Lace will always be frozen in time, she would never work today, the WWII pin-up girl that became a nose art darling, which was totally a male soldier sexual fantasy.

Miss Lace entered the strip “Male Call” on 24 January 1943, [Pillow Fight] becoming the most delectable American pen-and-ink pin-up lady creation of all time.

In 1943, Leonard Sansone created his most powerful cartoon when “The Wolf” meets “Miss Lace” with a gag line – ‘HAVEN’T I SEEN YOU —-SOMEWHERE—- BEFORE?” [LIFE magazine]

When Milton Caniff replied in “Male Call” it just reinforced Allied aircraft nose art featuring Miss Lace and The Wolf. [LIFE magazine]

Milton Caniff was an aviation buff and a very devoted American patriot. He received thousands of fan letters and requests for his pin-up Miss Lace. He selected three different poses which he signed and mailed away, even to his fans in the RCAF. Today [2022] many of his three poses can be found all over the internet, however one Miss Lace pin-up is missing. The one-and-only cartoon Miss Lace with a drink in hand, which was drawn for “The Wolf” cartoon strip by Sgt. Lenny Sansone. [above left] If this original art survives, it’s a rare “Wolf” collector’s gem.

Sgt. Sansone’s drawing of “Miss Lace” also appeared as nose art on at least two American B-24 bombers. The American USAAF aircrews possibly believed “Drunkard’s Dream” was just another Milton Caniff drawing. Not correct, this was the Miss Lace who was chased by “The Wolf.”  Unfortunately, her bomb group and aircraft serial are still unknown. If anyone knows, please share, the author would like to preserve it in a nose art painting. [Author]

The name Willie and “The Wolf” also had a major effect on many nose art paintings appearing in the RCAF.

American born pilot F/L J.R. Walker [top right] and his RCAF aircrew in front of Halifax B. Mk. III, serial MZ594, No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron, called “Wildcat Willie.” Pilot #R122776, F/Sgt. John R. Walker was one of over 6,129 Americans who joined the RCAF, trained in Halifax bomber at No. 1659 H.C.U. [Topcliffe, Yorkshire] and was posted to No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron 10 January 1944. Assigned Halifax LW373 “W” on 15 February 1944, the aircraft was shot down [with another crew] over Berlin 25 March 1944.

The Walker crew flew a number of other [Snowy Owl] Halifax aircraft until May 1944, when they were assigned a Mark III, serial MZ594 code PT- “W” and named her “Wildcat Willie.” The Halifax was hit by flak, 29 August 1944, Anderbeick, Germany, and made a forced landing at Woodbridge, emergency landing field. Damaged beyond repair the aircraft was scrapped at a British boneyard [possibly No. 43 Group, Rawcliffe] in May 1945.  This replica nose art was painted by the author on original Halifax skin from NA337 and remains in the collection of Canada’s Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta. Without proper RCAF history this Halifax WWII nose art has very little educational value to future generations of Canadians.

In May and June 1945, RCAF Operations Officer, RAF Bomber Command, F/L Harold Hunter Lindsay C11987, realized it was extremely important that some of the RCAF WWII Halifax aircraft nose art be salvaged and returned to Canada.

F/L Harold Lindsay [above] was granted permission to visit three large Halifax aircraft graveyards [Maintenance Units] in England, where he recorded 63 Halifax nose art images and 54 of these were RCAF painted aircraft. Lindsay then arranged for fourteen panels to be salvaged and shipped back to Ottawa, Canada, in July 1946. The Canadian collection, fourteen original panels cut from thirteen different RCAF bombers, forms the second largest collection of aircraft nose art in the world, plus the world’s largest collection of original Handley Page Halifax nose paintings. These forgotten WWII nose panels went on public display for the first time 8 May 2005, the first time seen as a total collection in sixty years, sadly with no history. Appealing to modern public taste today is considered far more important to our Ottawa War Museum than telling and preserving the facts on their RCAF WWII nose art panels. Today they have three which were inspired by the American comic strip by S/Sgt. Sansone “The Wolf.”

The Canadian War Museum “Willie Wolf “Nose Art collection

“Willie the Wolf from the West” Halifax LW207 No. 426 Squadron


S/L Bedford Donald Chase Patterson J10296, D.F.C. was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1919, and after graduation from High School worked as a foreman in a canning factory. Donald enlisted in the RCAF on 28 May 1941, trained at No. 2 I.T.S., Regina, Sask., No. 19 EFTS at Virden, Manitoba, and earned his Wings at No. 4 SFTS, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, graduated 27 February 1942. F/O B.D. Patterson joined No. 426 Squadron 12 January 1944, during the Battle of Berlin and participated in many attacks on enemy targets all over Germany, at the same time he earned the nickname “Willie Wolf.” On 17 May 1944, [promoted] Squadron leader Patterson tested a new Halifax Mk. III aircraft serial MZ674, and it became his bomber, complete with new painted “Willie Wolf” nose art.

More on Flying Officer Arthur Ryan (Contribution by Pierre Lagacé)

Collection Réal St-Amour via his daughter Chantal

Flying Officer Ryan was part of 425 Alouette squadron.

Flying Officer Arthur Ryan was born on June 24, 1921 in Toronto. He survived the war only to die in an accident on February 14,  1951. He enlisted on February 21, 1942 at Toronto.

Citations: 1939-1945 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.

Source: LONDON GAZETTE, OCT. 13, 1944

Distinguished Flying Cross Award effective Oct. 13,  1944

“Warrant Officer Ryan is an outstanding pilot who has consistently displayed superb captaincy and airmanship. One night in August 1944 he was detailed to attack Forêt de Nieppe in France. During the outward flight two engines became defective and Warrant Officer Ryan was compelled to jettison some of his equipment and to set course for an emergency airfield. Before the landing ground was reached, the starboard outer propeller flew off and damaged the starboard inner engine. Under difficult and hazardous circumstances this airman effected a masterly landing without causing injury to his crew or further damage to his aircraft.”

The Award was presented by the Governor General to next-of-kin, December. 9, 1947.

Service Details :

He flew P-51 Mustang 9551 with 901 Air Traffic Handling Unit, RCAF and was listed as having crashed. Responsible for passenger and freight handling on military aircraft, 2 Air Movements Unit was formed on April 1, 1951 from a detachment of 901 Air Traffic Handling Unit at RCAF Station Lachine (now Montréal-Trudeau Airport).

Son of Edward James and Holly Ryan of Richmond Hills, Ontario. Husband of Winnifred Margaret Ryan. Father of Robert Clay, Lynda Susan Ryan.

Burial: Saint John’s Norway Cemetery and Crematorium – The Beaches, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada – Plot: North Grave, Plot 3, Row 2

Find A Grave Memorial # 162382556

Squadron – Award effective 13 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 2534/44 dated 24 November 1944.  Born Toronto, 24 June 1921; home there (salesman); enlisted there 21 February 1942.  Trained at No.6 ITS (graduated and promoted LAC, 28 August 1942), No.12 EFTS (graduated 6 November 1942) and No.9 SFTS (graduated and promoted Sergeant, 6 April 1943).  Arrived in the United Kingdom, 4 June 1943. To No.11 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit, 13 July 1943; to No.21 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit, 15 August 1943. Promoted Flight Sergeant, 6 October 1943.  To No.24 OTU, 16 November 1943.  To No.61 Base, and No.1659 HCU, dates uncertain.  Promoted WO2, 6 April 1944. To No.425 Squadron, 28 April 1944.  To No.420 Squadron, 22 May 1944.  Commissioned 12 June 1944.  To No.425 Squadron again, 25 August 1944, serving there until 17 November 1944.  Repatriated 18 November 1944.  To Rockcliffe Test and Development Flight, 14 February 1945.  Confirmed as Flying Officer, postwar RCAF, 1 October 1946.  To Experimental and Proving Establishment, 14 November 1946.  With that unit until his death, except for a brief spell with No.413 Squadron (30 March 1949 to 1 November 1950, SHORAN support work in a Norseman).  Killed 14 February 1951 near Richmond, Ontario while flying a Mustang; described as a “secret flying project while on strength of No.901 Air Traffic Handling Unit.”

Award presented by Governor General to next-of-kin, 9 December 1957.  RCAF photo PL-33337 (ex UK-15517 dated 4 October 1944) shows him.

Warrant Officer Ryan is an outstanding pilot who has consistently displayed superb captaincy and airmanship. One night in August 1944 he was detailed to attack Foret de Nieppe in France.  During the outward flight two engines became defective and Warrant Officer Ryan was compelled to jettison some of his equipment and to set course for an emergency airfield.  Before the landing ground was reached, the starboard outer propeller flew off and damaged the starboard inner engine.  Under difficult and hazardous circumstances this airman effected a masterly landing without causing injury to his crew or further damage to his aircraft.DHH file 181.009 D.1730 (Library and Archives Canada RG.24, Volume 20607) has the original recommendation raised by W/C Hugh Lecompte on 10 August 1944 when he had flown 27 sorties (128 hours 15 minutes); sortie list and submission as follows:10 May 1944 – Ghent (4.15, second pilot)19 May 1944 – Merville (4.10, second pilot)31 May 1944 – Au Fevre (4.55)2 June 1944 – Neufchatel (3.40)5 June 1944 – Houlgate (4.45)6 June 1944 – Coutances (4.00)7 June 1944 – Acheres (4.55)9 June 1944 – Le Mans (5.45)12 June 1944 – Cambrai (5.35)14 June 1944 – St. Pol (3.30)16 June 1944 – Sautrecourt (4.05)21 June 1944 – St. Martin (3.55)23 June 1944 – Bientques (1.55, duty not carried out)24 June 1944 – Bamieres (3.40)1 July 1944 – Biennais (4.10)5 July 1944 – Biennais (4.10)7 July 1944 – Caen (4.20)12 July 1944 – Thiverny (4.40)28 July 1944 – Hamburg (5.45)30 July 1944 – Amaye-sur-Seulles (4.20)31 July 1944 – Oeuf-en-Ternois (5.10)3 August 1944 – Foret de Nieppe (4.55)4 August 1944 – Bois de Cassan (4.45)5 August 1944 – St. Leu d’Esserent (5.30)7 August 1944 – La Hogue (4.45)8 August 1944 – Foret de Chantilly (5.10)9 August 1944 – Foret de Nieppe (2.05, early return, two engines unserviceable)12 August 1944 – Foret de Montrichard (5.15)14 August 1944 – Bons Tassily (4.10)Warrant Officer Ryan is an outstanding pilot who has consistently displayed suberb captaincy and airmanship throughout an operational career that comprises 27 sorties against enemy targets.On the night of 9th/10th August 1944 he was pilot of a Halifax bomber detailed to attack Foret de Nieppe, France.  Two minutes after take-off, trouble developed in the starboard inner engine.  It had reached such proportions as to necessitate feathering the propeller.  With cool determination, WO2 Ryan decided to complete his mission by setting course for the target fifteen minutes ahead of time, knowing that he could make the target just on time.  Upon reaching the French coast, the starboard outer engine became unserviceable.  Displaying a great presence of mind, this Warrant Officer tried again to bring into play the starboard inner engine, which finally developed only about one-third capacity.  He ordered all bombs to be jettisoned and obtained from the Navigator a course to the nearest emergency landing field.  Before reaching the aerodrome, the starboard outer propellor broke completely, damaging the starboard inner engine and indications were that this motor would not hold out for more than ten minutes.  Under such trying circumstances, Warrant Officer Ryan displayed great calm and resourcefulness.  His presence of mind and cool headedness were an inspiration to the remainder of the crew.  With outstanding courage and ability, he succeeded in making a perfect landing without injury to any member of the crew and without further damage to the aircraft.WO2 Ryan showed exceptional gallantry, leadership and undaunted devotion to duty which are worthy of high praise.  I strongly recommend that he be granted the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.DHH file 181.009 D.2623 (Library and Archives Canada RG.24, Volume 20628) has letter dated 27 September 1944, Headquarters, No.6 Group, to all Stations and Bases in the Group, signed by S/L T.D. McKee for Staff Officer i/c Administration at Group Headquarters:


R.156114 WO.2 Ryan, J.A, (Pilot) 425 (RCAF Squadron1. The above pilot of this Group had his Log Book endorsed in GREEN as follows:“HIGHLY COMMENDED – During an operational flight, while on the outward journey to the target, this pilot was forced to feather the starboard inner propellor of his aircraft. The starboard outer engine failed later, and the starboard outer propellor would not feather, and eventually this propellor came off, further damaging the starboard engine.  In spire of loss of power on the starboard side and excessive vibration, the bomb load was jettisoned and a course was set for an English aerodrome where the pilot completed a masterly landing.  No further damage was done to the aircraft, nor were any of the crew injured.”2. Details of the incident were as follows:Shortly after take-off on an operational flight, the starboard inner engine of this pilot’s aircraft had to be feathered.  The pilot decided to continue on three engines and the course was set 15 minutes early so that the aircraft would reach the target in its wave.  As the aircraft was approaching the French coast the starboard outer engine lost power.  Bombs were jettisoned safe and course was set for the nearest English aerodrome.  An attempt was made to feather the starboard outer propellor, but it continued to windmill. The pilot then unfeathered the starboard inner engine which developed only about one-third of its normal power and was running very rough.  Crossing the English coast the starboard outer engine seized, the propellor and reduction gear were wrenched off and the starboard inner propellor was damaged by pieces of the starboard outer engine.  An excellent landing was made at Manston and no further damage was done to the aircraft.3. The commendation and details of the incident are to be promulgated in Unit D.R.O.s [Daily Routine Orders].


No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron began converting to the new Halifax B. Mk. VII aircraft and S/L Patterson flew serial LW207, code OW-W, to bomb Bientque, France, on 23 June 1944. He would fly his new bomber on nine more operations, the last on 10 August 1944. His operations in yellow high-light follow.

In late [29-30] June 1944, the second “Willie Wolf” nose art was painted on Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial LW207 and this was called “Willie the Wolf from the West” with a same style Wolf piloting an aircraft. The Willie Wolf pilot nose art was S/L Patterson and the “West” stood for Calgary, Alberta. [photo – F/Sgt. W.F. Bessent, mid-upper and rear gunner on LW207]

S/L Patterson was posted to No. 426 Squadron 14 January 1944, during the Battle of Berlin campaign, flying Lancaster B. Mk. II aircraft. On 20 January 44, while flying over Berlin his Lancaster II, serial DS840 was struck on the main wing by two incendiaries dropped from another bomber. His wing burned fiercely for several minutes, then Patterson put his bomber into a drive, lost 3,500 feet and the fire went out. On 11 August 1944, he was presented with a D.F.C. by the King at Buckingham Palace.

The above photo was taken 17 August 1944, in front of Halifax LW207, with his nose art “Willie the Wolf from the West” as Patterson talks to LAC Don Forester [right]. Patterson was posted to RCAF No. 1666 H.C.U. at Wombleton, Yorkshire, on 1 September 1944. Nicknamed “Mohawk” they began conversion training to the Canadian built Lancaster B. Mk. X in early November 1944. “Willie” Halifax LW207 was now taken over by the aircrew of F/O P. A. Labelle.

Sgt. P.A. Labelle R101191 received his Wings at No. 17 S.F.T.S. at Souris, Manitoba, 21 July 1943. Promoted to P/O J85882 in England, his crew were posted to No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron on 25 June 1944. On 28 June 44, P/O Labelle flew second pilot with S/L Patterson in Halifax LW207 “Willie the Wolf from the West” bombing marshalling railway yards at Metz, France. The Labelle crew then flew eighteen operations in “Willie the Wolf from the West.” [below list]

Some date between 15 July and 8 August 1944, the rear gunner of the P/O Labelle crew [Sgt. E.M. Strauss #R205756] had tail art painted near his rear gun position, named “OL’ DAID EYE.”

Operations flown by other RCAF aircrew in “Willie the Wolf from the West”
LW207, with new code letter OW-K.

The file card shows Halifax LW207 remained with No. 408 [Goose] squadron for only four days.

During the four days Halifax LW207 remained with No. 408 Squadron, someone painted over the name “Willie the Wolf from the West” plus the body of the Wolf, leaving only the Wolf Head. Then fourteen new white bombs were painted where the nose art name was originally painted.

On 23 May 1945, the Halifax was flown to RAF No. 43 Group, Rawcliffe, parked ready for scrapping. A few days later F/L Harold Lindsay RCAF arrived, took the above 35 mm black and white image and marked the Wolf Head for salvage and return to Canada. The Wolf Head salvage [cutting from bomber] operation was completed by Mr. Robert Goodwin, a scrapping company employee. The nose art collection [fourteen panels] was then crated by Goodwin, driven to a dock and shipped to Canada, arriving in Ottawa, 7 May 1946. The RCAF Halifax nose art Wolf Head remained in storage in a warehouse at Hull, Quebec, for the next fifty-nine years. Placed on public display in the Canadian War Museum on 8 May 2005, it remains on a cement wall with no history, no reason for the art, no crew members who flew the aircraft, and no mention the Halifax also had rare RCAF tail art.  This is the rarest original WWII Halifax RCAF nose art in the whole world, and the only surviving Canadian flown bomber with both nose and tail art paintings.

A very simple RCAF display showing the Halifax aircraft outline, location [black] of original art on the bomber, original photos, and the two surviving RCAF ‘original’ nose and tail art panels is required to preserve and educate all visitors to our “Canadian” War Museum. The author has painted both replica tail and nose art for our Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta, but still no display. The Canadian War Museum has both original LW207 panels but they can’t even get them together as one complete Halifax aircraft. This should be embarrassing to all RCAF veterans, historians, and Canadians in general, however they just don’t understand.

In 1994, the author learned that two original WWII Halifax nose art panels were on private display in a small hangar museum of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Edmonton, Alberta. The “Goose” Squadron museum was created by a Corporal on his own, who arranged for two original nose art panels to be taken out of storage in [Hull, Quebec] Ottawa, War Museum. This 408 Squadron Helicopter ground crew member needs to be remembered, however, I can not find his name. [I am truly sorry, and if anyone can supply his name, please do so.]

This was the first time the author saw the original tail art [Ol’ Daid Eye] from WWII Halifax Mk. VII, serial LW207, “Willie the Wolf from the West.” I would like to thank all the past members of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, who removed this panel from the helicopter hangar wall and allowed it to be photographed. Special thanks to Sgt. Glenn Lloyd, [retired] who went out of his way [official duties] to assist the author and provided other Lancaster Mk. II No. 408 [Goose] Squadron nose art images for my research.

The main question remained, why did No. 408 [Goose] Squadron have a rare original Halifax tail art panel from No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron hanging on their hangar wall? Answer – They believed this bomber tail art flew in Goose Squadron during WWII, and they had the photo to prove it.

15 November 1944, tail-gunner #C89652 P/O C.L. Humphries, No. 408 [Goose] Squadron. [RCAF PL40133] Photos record the past but only good research can dig out the truth.

The RCAF aircrew of P/O Barber were posted from No. 61 [Training Base] Topcliffe, to No. 408 [Goose] Squadron on 15 June 1944. They flew two operations in Lancaster Mk. II aircraft, LL725 “Z” – 6 July 44, and LL617 “F” the following day.

On 15/16 July 44, P/O Barber flew Lancaster II serial LL725 “Z” and a new eighth crew member joined their team. Sgt. C.L. Humphreys was trained as a mid-under gunner who manned a single 50 cal. machine gun which pointed downwards from the belly of the bomber.

Mid-upper gunner Jean-Paul Corbeil and Navigator Pierre Gauthier (425 Alouette Squadron)

They flew two more operations in the Lancaster II [3 Aug. – DS651 “X” and 4 Aug. DS841 “Q”] then converted to the Halifax B. Mk VII aircraft, flying NP713 “X” on 5 August 1944.

During WWII, two RCAF Bomber Squadrons shared one British Base, with No. 408 [Goose] Squadron assigned No. 62 [RCAF] Base, Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, 27 August 1943 to 13 June 1945. No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron was assigned No. 62 Base, Linton-on-Ouse, 18 July 1943 to 24 May 1945.

As the P/O Barber crew approached their final 30th operation [flown in Halifax NP718 “Z” on 27 November 1944] it appears the mid-under gunner [now promoted] P/O Humphries walked over to No. 426 Squadron hangar and had his photo taken with LW207 “Ol’ Daid Eye” tail art. It is possible he returned to Canada and showed off his tail art photo, and it was assumed he flew with this very rare RCAF tail art. While the fact remains, P/O Humphries [No. 408 Squadron Air Gunner] never flew operations in No. 426 Squadron Halifax LW207, the power of this photo has confused many over the years.  Humphries did fly in Halifax NP717, “Willie Wolf.”

RCAF Operations Officer, F/L H. Lindsay photo May 1945, Roll #6, Print #1.

“Willie Wolf” Halifax NP717 – No. 408 Squadron

Constructed 13 July 1944, Halifax serial NP717 arrived with No. 408 [Goose] Squadron on 1 August 1944. Assigned the code letters EQ-W [Willie] the first operation was flown by F/O E.B. Gilson J26151 on 4 August 44 to Bois de Cassen, France. The date and crew who painted the nose art “Willie Wolf” is unknown, but the reason for the art is very clear – “The Wolf.” The funny part is the little furry animal is not even a Wolf but a Fox, from “Tru Val” Shirts in New York, Fifth Avenue, dated 11 December 1944.

This LIFE magazine ad appeared 25 February 1944, thus the RCAF nose art could have appeared a short time later, at least 21st October, operation number twenty. [see below]

On 16 May 1945, Willie Wolf was ready for disposal and flown to the aircraft graveyard RAF No. 43 Group, Rawcliffe, parked on 2 May. A few weeks later F/L Harold Lindsay arrived, took two photos, and marked the nose art for salvage and return to Canada. The little Fox named “Willie Wolf” arrived in Ottawa, 7 May 1946, and was placed into storage at Hull, Quebec.

The following photo was taken by F/L Harold Lindsay in late May 1945, 35 mm film, Roll #5, Print #8, and the original negative was in the War Museum in 1977.

On 8 May 2005, the original nose art panel from Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP717, went on public display in the Canadian War Museum. No RCAF WWII Halifax aircraft history, no record of the aircrews who flew in her, and no reason for the painting. Just a forgotten Canadian nose art original on a cold cement wall in Ottawa.  Out of sight, out of mind, our Canadian – “you guess what it is” museum, which can’t understand this 1944 war paint, is rare “Wolf” RCAF history.

“Willie the Wolf” Halifax NP707 No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron

Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP707 was constructed 5 July 1944 and flew her first operation 11 July to bomb Thiverney, France, J8973 F/L D. von Laufer.

The Halifax nose art was painted in early August 1944, by RCAF Fitter II, R86146 LAC Thomas E. Dunn from No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron, East Moor, Yorkshire, England. The full history can be found in Preserving the Past Part II, RCAF artist Tom Dunn.

No. 6 [RCAF] Group flew 40,822 operations in WWII, with 28,126 [73%] flown in the Handley page Halifax bomber. No. 6 [RCAF] Group lost 814 aircraft over enemy territory and most were the Halifax aircraft. RCAF aircraft missing in action, Wellington Bomber [127] Lancaster Bomber [149] and Halifax bomber [508]. Halifax NP707 was a survivor and that is the reason her original nose art was saved by F/L Harold Lindsay in May 1945. The list of “Willie the Wolf” 67 operations follows:

Ready for disposal on 18 May 1945, the aircraft was flown to No. 43 Group for scrapping on 25 of May and parked. Saved by F/L H. Lindsay in the last few days before she was chopped up on 29 May 1945.

Thanks to Mr. Daniel Glenney, [past] Director of War Museum Collections Management and Planning, the fourteen original RCAF Halifax nose art panels went on public display 8 May 2005. Without a proper display, with full historical background, the nose art means nothing to a new generation of Canadians. Three of the panels painted in 1944, preserve the largest original collection of “Wolf” nose art in the world.

Tom Dunn painted this art in August 1944, for the RCAF aircrew who flew NP707, that’s what they picked, and he painted it twice on two different Halifax aircraft. In total artist Tom made $50 Canadian for both paintings, and today only one survives in the Canadian War Museum. It’s the war paint expression of young Canadian men who flew and died in the Halifax aircraft, never officially RCAF approved, but fully accepted as a moral builder. With the real threat of death and extinction from a flak burst in the next cloud, the comfort and scent of a woman takes on a much greater importance. The word “Willie” was the military slang for penis, the “Wolf” was the RCAF aircrew on leave, chasing a nude British Blonde lady, who has lost her clothing as she flees the Wolf Pack. The whole humorous art subject is about sex, and it came from the American Camp Newspaper cartoon created by S/Sgt. Leonard Sansone called “The Wolf.”

The beauty of this Canadian nose art is in the eye of the beholder, so is the WWII RCAF history – like them or not, these three War Museum “Willie Wolf” nose art panels are original RCAF aviation history. Now, readers know the real history, even if it’s never displayed on the War Museum cold cement wall in Ottawa, Canada.

Dedicated to American cartoonist Leonard Lenny Sansone and…


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