Category Archives: Alouette – Halifax Mk. III “B for Bully Beef”

Alouette – Halifax Mk. III “B for Bully Beef” PDF and text versions

Halifax III B for Bully Beef

Excerpt

Research by Clarence Simonsen with contribution by Pierre Lagacé

Bully Beef, also called corned beef in Canada, is a variety of preserved meat made from a fine mixed corned beef and small part of gelatin jelly. It is believed the name comes from the French word “bouilli” [boiled] and possibly the head of a bull depicted on the British Hereford brand of canned corned beef.

Bully Beef and hardtack biscuits were the main mix of British Army and RAF field rations during WWI and WWII. These canned tins had a very distinctive oblong shape and were opened with an attached key, manufactured in the U.K., France, Brazil, and Uruguay [Fray Bentos]. They were still used in British Armed Forces field rations until 2009, and the British loved their Corned Beef Hash mix, still do.


Text version 

Alouette – Halifax Mk. III “B for Bully Beef”

Research by Clarence Simonsen with contribution by Pierre Lagacé

Bully Beef, also called corned beef in Canada, is a variety of preserved meat made from a fine mixed corned beef and small part of gelatin jelly. It is believed the name comes from the French word “bouilli” [boiled] and possibly the head of a bull depicted on the British Hereford brand of canned corned beef.

Bully Beef and hardtack biscuits were the main mix of British Army and RAF field rations during WWI and WWII. These canned tins had a very distinctive oblong shape and were opened with an attached key, manufactured in the U.K., France, Brazil, and Uruguay [Fray Bentos]. They were still used in British Armed Forces field rations until 2009, and the British loved their Corned Beef Hash mix, still do.

No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron was a unique RCAF Bomber Command “French-Canadian” air and ground crew formation.

Group photo taken in September 1944 via Pierre Lagacé

425 Alouette Ground Crews “A” Flight collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

425 Alouette Ground Crews “B” Flight collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

From June to October 1943, they flew tropicalized Vickers Wellington Mk. X aircraft in North Africa in support of the invasion of Sicily and Italy.

Wellington Mk X taking off from Kairouan in Tunisia

Wing Commander William St. Pierre was then in command of 425 Alouette Squadron. In this YouTube video Wing Commander William St. Pierre is seen at 6:00 with Group Captain Dunlap.

 

Screenshot

Wing Commander William St. Pierre was decorated by General Carl Spaatz with an American DFC.

collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

We see more of Wing Commander William St. Pierre on this YouTube video starting at 26;37.

 

These next photos were taken in North Africa. They are part of the collection of Roly Leblanc via his son.

 

 

 

 

More photos of the collection are found here on Pierre Lagacé’s blog Lest We Forget…

Rememberance Week: Off to North Africa

Issued with RAF rations, the meat was always tinned Corned Beef, which was not loved that much by Canadians.

One 425 Squadron RCAF Wellington aircraft [HE522 “B”] was painted with nose art of a Bull Head and was called “Bully-Beef” by all air and ground crews.

I have no photos of KW-B, HE522.  This Wellington flew 39 missions from Kairouan, Tunisia between 25 June 1943 and 05 October 1943.

If there are official “PL” photos, they would probably be between PL-16000 and PL-19000 mixed with photos of all the other Canadian bomber, fighter, transport, etc. squadrons present in England, North Africa, Malta, etc.  The descriptive cards generally give the names of the airmen but not where the photo was taken or the letters of the aircraft.  There are exceptions such as “Blues in the Nite” and “Turtle”.

The squadron returned to England, embarking for the U.K. on 26 October 1943. It arrived 6 November 1943 to No. 61 [RCAF] Base at Dishforth, Yorkshire, where crews began to convert to new Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft.

 

On 10 December 1943, the unit moved to No. 62 [RCAF] Base at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, and a new Halifax bomber [LW381] arrived on 12 December and was taken on charge, assigned the code letter “B” for Bull or Bully.

Halifax Mk. III, serial LW381 was given the code letters KW-B and nicknamed “Bully-Beef” by the ground and aircrew who flew her.

The simple white outline RCAF nose art featured a large snorting Bull Head, and she was considered to be a very ‘lucky’ aircraft flying 59 operations, from 24/25 February to 2 November 1944. That photo was taken after Op. # sixteen 22/23 May 1944.

First assigned to the aircrew of F/Sgt. M. Bryson on 20 February 1944, they flew her on the first operation on 24/25 February. It is possible this crew picked the Bull Head nose art and the name B for Bully Beef. They flew Halifax LW381 the most operations [fifteen]

February 24/25,

March 6/7, 15/16,

April 21/22, 26/27, 27/28, 30,

May 1/2, 7/8, 9/10, 10/11, 22/23, 27/28,

June 2/3, 6/7.

Other aircrew flew the Halifax once

F/O Taylor J.R. [Op. #3]

F/O Taylor J.R. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/O would later die.

Killed in action

F/O Wilmet R.B. [Op. #5]

P/O Dupuis L.B. [Op. #6]

P/O Dupuis L.B. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/Sgt Thomson R.A. [Op. #8]

P/O Côté J. A. [OP. #18]

P/O Côté J. A. image via Pierre Lagacé

WO2 Vincent V.R. [Op. #20]

F/O Gregson H. H. [Op. #22]

P/O Mauger A.R. [Op. #23]

P/O Haché J. P. D. [Op. #24]

P/O Haché J. P. D. image via Pierre Lagacé

P/O Brooks L. B. [Op. #25]

P/O Brochu L. B. [Op. #26]

P/O Brochu L. B. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/O Jacobs S.H. [Op. #27]

F/O Langlois S.H. [Op. #27]

F/O Langlois S.H. image via Pierre Lagacé

WO R151123 Boyer {Op. #29]

J86106 P/O Taillon A.F. [Op. #30]

J27416 F/O Jacobs [Op. #31].

Assigned to the RCAF aircrew of J27638 F/O N. E. Streight, they flew her fourteen times,

July 15/16, 18, 18/19, 20, 24/25

25/26; F/O N. Streight and crew flying Halifax III LW-381 coded KW-B was attacked by a unidentified single engine enemy aircraft, some strikes were seen.

August 3, 15, 16/17, 18/19;

September 9, 10, 12, and 17.

More single aircrew were now assigned, S/L Phelan [Op. #51, 6 October]

 collection William Phelan via Pierre Lagacé

For more information about Squadron Leader Phelan, click on the link below.

Home

F/O Beaulieu [Op. # 52, 14/15 October]

F/O Séguin [Op. #54, 23 October]

F/O Desmarais [Op. #57, 30 October]

 image via Pierre Lagacé

For more information (in French) on F/O Desmarais, click on the link below.

9 décembre 1944 – Desmarais… et Laurent Dubois

 image via Pierre Lagacé

P/O Corbett [Op. #58, 1 November]

 image via Pierre Lagacé part of Réal St-Amour’s collection

and the very last flight

F/L Hemphill [Op. #59, 2 November 1944].

F/Lt. R. Hemphill had the port inner explode and burst into flames just before the target. The Flt/engineer was able to put out the fire and they returned safely to base on 3 engines.

After repairs the veteran Halifax was transferred to No. 1666 H.C.U. at Wombleton on 12 November 1944.

On 1 December, again it was transferred to No. 1664 H.C.U. at Dishforth, Yorkshire, where she flew training operations until 7 April 1945, when No. 1664 H.C.U. was disbanded. On 20 April 45 it was flown to RAF No. 41 Group, arrived at 45 M.U. for scrapping on 23 April 1945.

Record card “Bulls Head” prepared by RCAF F/L Lindsay in late May 1945, who also took photo Roll 1 print 2.

Lindsay photo Roll 1 Print 2 May 1945

If this nose art was selected for preservation and shipping to Canada, it is not in the War Museum collection today. The bomb total painted is 62, however only 59 operations were recorded in the squadron records. It is possible that three bombs were painted on during her training, for “Bulls-Eye” bombing training operations over Germany late in the war.

This was a true RCAF Halifax bomber veteran that survived 59 operations, plus unknown number of Bulls-eye training flights, and two reported German fighter contacts, 15 July 1944 operation #32 and 25 July 44 operation #36.

RCAF Combat reports follow.

Painting by Clarence Simonsen


Epilogue (contribution by Pierre Lagacé)

31 May 1944

RCAF photo PL29958  image via Pierre Lagacé

Caption

Bombs provide a not-too-comfortable seat for the five veterans of the RCAF Alouette squadron pictured ABOVE. They are all armourers and all have been with the famed RCAF Bomber Group unit since its formation. Shown are (left to right) LAC Maurice Déry, 24 St. Patrick St., Quebec City; Cpl. G.J. Pitre, 148 St. Patrick St., Ottawa; LAC P. B. Giguère, Valley Junction, P.2.; Sgt. H. W. Barnes, 30 Walker St., Wrightville, P.Q.; Cpl. J.A.F. Geraghty, 76 Sudbury Ave. Quebec City.

Note on PL-29958,

That photo was taken about 31 May 1944, just east of the 425 shed on the north-west side of Tholthorpe, with the firing range visible in the background looking north.  What appears to be snow on the roof of this structure is sand in front of a cement wall (to stop bullets).

The Halifax on one of the 425’s hardstands is KW-B (Bull), LW381. 21 bombs for 21 sorties are painted on the fuselage.  It survived 61 missions with the 425 between 24 February 1944 and 02 November 1944. In order to better identify the 5 armourers in photo PL-29958, here is the first name(s) of each one and their serial number.

LAC Maurice Déry, R/55196

Cpl. G.J. Pitre = Cpl. J. Georges Pitre, R/53571

LAC P. B. Giguère = LAC P. Bruno Giguère, R/155087

Sgt.  H. W. Barnes = Sgt. Harry William Barnes, R/54057

Cpl. J.A.F. Geraghty = Cpl. J.A. Fred Geraghty, R/55137

About the nose art of KW-B

 

Newspaper clippings provided by a reader who commented on my blog dedicated to RCAF 425 Alouette Squadron

 image via Pierre Lagacé

 

p.14 LE DROIT, OTTAWA, MARDI 23 FÉVRIER 1943

One year overseas

Flying Corporal GEORGES PITRE, of Ottawa, 148 St. Patricks, is one year overseas today. He arrived overseas on February 23, 1942.

Le Droit d’Ottawa 17 juillet 1944

They probably have a lot to talk about, as they both come from the mining town of Sudbury, in Northern Ontario. On the left a C.A.R.C. correspondent, Sergeant Maurice LACOURCIERE, 10 East Elm Street, interviews his old friend Aurèle RICARD, 159 King Street, Sudbury, Ont. (C.A.R.C. Photo)

The three armourers pictured above appear to be pondering for a moment the destructive power of the bombs they are about to hang from the belly of the Halifax bomber in the background. But their death mission, they know very well, has been imposed on them by the megalomaniac in Berlin. It is up to Hitler and his accomplices to stop the avenging arm of the Allied power; it is unconditional surrender. These veterans of the famous “Alouette” squadron are, from left to right: Senior Airman Maurice DERY, 24 St-Patrice St., Quebec; Corporal J.-G. PITRE, 148 St-Patrice St., Ottawa; Sergeant H. Wagner, 24 St-Patrice Ave. Ottawa; Sergeant H. W. BARNES, 30 Walker Street, Wright City. 30. Walker Street, Wright City, Que.

(Photo R.C.A.F.)

Note: Wrightville is part of Hull, now Gatineau. Maurice Lacourcière, war correspondent, became a judge later in life.

LE DROIT, OTTAWA, JEUDI 21 DECEMBRE 1944 – page 12

Two sons of Mrs. Lausianna Pitre, of 414 St.atrice Street, are members of the C.A.R.C. On the left, Corporal GEORGES PITRE, 30 years old, enlisted since 1939, has been overseas for the past three years: he has been in Sicily and North Africa, and is now with the “Alouettes” squadron. An employee of Continental Paper, he was a popular softball player for the Continental club. Chief Airman ROGER PITRE, 26, enlisted in the air force in 1941 and was stationed in Newfoundland for two years. He has been in Iceland for a few months.

 

p.14 LE DROIT, OTTAWA, VENDREDI 29 JUIN 1945

Corporal GEORGES PITRE. of the RCAF, 148 Clarence Street, arrived last night in a group of 300 repatriated airmen who disembarked about midnight at Union Station. He is the son of Mrs. Widow Laudiana Pitre, and has served three and a half years overseas. He belongs to the French-Canadian Alouette squadron.


Final note by Pierre Lagacé

Are there photos of KW-B? A reader sent me this note after I had asked him for some.

No, I have no photos of KW-B, HE522.  This Wellington flew 39 missions from Kairouan, Tunisia between 25 June 1943 and 5 October 1943.  If there are official “PL” photos, they would probably be between PL-16000 and PL-19000 mixed with photos of all the other Canadian bomber, fighter, transport, etc. squadrons present in England, North Africa, Malta, etc.  The descriptive cards generally give the names of the airmen but not where the photo was taken or the letters of the aircraft.  There are exceptions such as “Blues in the Nite” and “Turtle”.