Category Archives: Miscellaneous

From Clarence Simonsen’s collection

Updated from the original version with this comment and Clarence Simonsen’s reply…

Hi, Couple of things regarding entry for Spook N Droop. 427 Squadron code letters were ZL ( not KW). Lancaster ME501 was coded ZL-T. 427 flew Halifax until 3rd week of Feb 1945, then transitioned to Lancaster I and III. Commenced operations in the Lancaster March 11 1945. Most of Dad’s ( F/O FD Kaye) Ops were in ZL-T including Exodus and sightseeing flights with Leeming base staff and ground crew over France and Germany. Their final flight June 1 1945 over Dingle Ireland. ( dates from pilot’s log) 10 days later they were on a ship. When I saw the images on this page I immediately remembered seeing this as a child- I think as a drawing, not a photo. ( Should I find anything concrete I will share) A Germanic speaker relates that the context of « Spook ‘n Droop » could be best explained as a « Haunting from Above »

Clarence Simonsen’s reply

Nos. 427 and 429 were both formed in RAF No. 4 Group on 7th November 1942, located at RAF Stations Croft and East Moor respectively.

On 10 August 1943, the two squadrons came together when No. 429 moved to RCAF Station Leeming, where No. 427 was based. This was where they both similarly re-equipped with Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft. Later, on 19 February 1945, both squadrons again re-equipped with the British built Lancaster Mk. I and Mk. III aircraft. Both squadrons would again be disbanded together on 31 May 1946.

F/O F.D. Kaye J37990 was posted to No. 427 [Lion] Squadron on 14 January 1945 and began flying Halifax aircraft on 2/3 February 1945, Halifax “U” serial LW130. They flew this same Halifax on 4 Feb. and 13/14 Feb. 45. Next came Halifax “G” serial RG347, then “Q” LV942 on 20/21 Feb. and “R” MZ755 on the last operation #6 on 21 February 1945. The Kaye crew now trained and converted to the British Lancaster aircraft and flew first two operations in “R” serial NX555 on 11 March [day trip] and night trip on 14/15 March. Their third operation was in Lancaster ZL-T which was serial ME501. [This was not SNOOP ‘N DROOP] Never, never, never.

In No. 429 [Bison] Squadron J36547 H.A.M. Humphries was assigned to fly Halifax Mk. III, serial LV860 squadron code AL-T on 28/29 January 1945. This Halifax was painted with the original SPOOK ‘N DROOP nose art and they would fly nine operations with the twin Death-Heads. In early April Humphries crew were training and converting to the new British Mk. III Lancaster, and they were assigned squadron code AL-T, serial NN701. By the third operation on 10 April to bomb Leipzig, Germany, they had the local nose artist paint the same Halifax nose art on their new British aircraft. 

The attached photo shows Lancaster Mk. III serial NN701, with the new nose art and the three bombs. This photo and the other [in the article] with F/O Humphries in the cockpit, were both obtained from his son at Calgary, Alberta, in 1999. 

My history is very clear, and takes tons of research. 

Regards – Clarence


Original post

Everything on Preserving the Past II is to preserve the past for future generations. With this in mind, Preserving the Past II is the sequel to Preserving the Past which was originally created to help Clarence Simonsen publish his research mostly on nose art. Little did I know then was how much research Clarence had […]

From Clarence Simonsen’s collection

Request from Clarence Simonsen – Flight Lieutenant Hugh Rickard (Updated)

Updated 15 January 2022

Clarence Simonsen wrote with this request…

LAC H. Rickard was an RCAF unknown artist, at some forgotten unit in 1940. He began a cartoon strip on his RCAF duties – “AC2 ERK, Joe” and it became a hit. He was posted to Ottawa, maybe in 1941, then began drawing RCAF training posters, plus his cartoon which appeared in WINGS magazine – RCAF log.

He was posted to London, England in [?], I think 1944, promoted to F/O, serial unknown.

Images shared by Clarence Simonsen

Transcription

Thanks Ricky !

No. 3 I.T.S., and “The Take-Off” in particular, are deeply indebted to Flying Officer H. Rickard, who spent two days at this Station During July and subsequently produced the cartoons which now adorn our magazine.

“Ricky”, as he is known thoughout the Service, is the R.C.A.F. official cartoonist who has drawn hundreds of cartoons of all kinds, single ones and in series, in connection with Air Force matters. Not an Air Force Station in Canada, (and we doubt not, abroad) but has his works on its walls, drawing attention to rules and advice of all kinds in a far more striking way than could ever be done by mere printed words.

Our cover is his product, and we think you will agree that it is a mighty good one! So are the frontispiece and end cartoons. and most of the other drawings. “Ricky” is a quiet man and one didn’t see much of him during his visit, but his eyes were open and he saw things—witness his inimitable cartoons of the “snipe hunt” and the hot July route marches in our first issue.

Having seen things, he returned to Ottawa and went to work. He was shortly afterwards taken ill, but kept at his work and had it in Victoriaville in time for our first issue.

We can never appreciate enough his wonderful contributions to our magazine and we hope to have a lot more of them in the future.

Thanks “Ricky” !

Our First Editor is Posted

“The Take-Off” records with much regret the departure of its first editor, Flying Officer W. F. Burke. Mr. Burke has left oil temporary duty to take the course with the Fighter Command School at Orlando. Florida, subsequent to which he will be posted to other duties.

While envious of Flying Officer Burke’s trip to the Sunny South, where there seems no doubt he will he able to combine some pleasure with his duties (for it is difficult to imagine a month in Florida without some fun, we were sorry to see him leave.

”The Take-Off” was his child. He was amongst those who conceived the idea of publishing a magazine at No. 3 I.T.S., and was its guiding spirit in its earliest days. It followed as a matter of course that. he became the first editor. He did a good job and saw the baby safely born. It was on after the first edition of the magazine appeared that he was posted, but he left knowing that his work was well established.

The best of good luck, Flying Officer Bill!

Transcription

Our congratulations this month to F/Sgt. Pat Winder, who was recently elevated to that rank. Also to Sgt. Errett, a new-comer in our midst. Welcome.

We understand that Sgt. Hankins is quite a ladies’ man. It must be that classic profile.

Attention Sgt “Sandy” Robertson. Is it true what they say about gophers?

Sgt. L’Heureux is speaking with a decidedly English accent these days—the Curle-Salter influence, no doubt.

We hear that W. 0. 2 Kirkham received 2 aspirins and 25c from Drummondville the other day. Better hang on to them Major. You never know, when you’ll need them.

Favourite expressions

Sgt. Howie: “Do you think that’s right ?”
F/Sgt. Gervais: Censored. It could not he printed.
W. O. 2 Blanchette: “Would you like to hear me sing?”
Sgt. MacDonald: “I think I’ll get married.”

What station Sgt. Major had to jump the gate to get in Friday evening? It’s funny how gates can get in the way.

NOTES FROM THE OFFICERS

Postings, marriages, births, promotions, with postings most frequent and promotions least, such is the news of the officers’ mess. Despite their rarity there have been three changes in rank. Allen Hern and Gerard Aubry, who also makes the news with his marriage, have become F/O’s. Our B.O, Mayne has been demoted from S.F.O. to Flight Loot.

F/O’s Ray Cotton and Don Edward each have another mouth to feed. Congratulations.

Friends departing were : F/L “Taffy” Davies to Moncton; F/L Paul Green and Sister Pitkethly for overseas; F/L Gus Dubuc for Lachine “M” Depot: F/O Cliff Church for No. I: F/O’s Burke and Tardif for Florida (yes, Florida) ; and F/O Charlie Young for No. 10 A.O.S., Chatham. We may also have lost, though. we aren’t quite sure F/O Bergeron.

New arrivals are: Padre Curry (May he have luck with our souls); F/O Blackwood and Sister Larose for the Hospital; Lt. Mussels, jaw-breaker: and three officer trainees: P/O’s Zeller, Smith, and Dernier. Bobbie Zeller is no stranger here. He was equipment officer here when No.3 was a pup. So to him and all the newcomers, welcome!

P. S.—There were some parties but everyone who needs to know about them knows already.

Images found on the Internet

Remembering Squadron Leader Carroll McLeod (source Internet)

http://www.hillmanweb.com/rcaf/mag/0703.html

Dick Lidstone ( now of Victoria), with whom I spent the summer of 1957 in Centralia and 1958 in Trenton with the RCAF, wrote to tell me that S/L McLeod’s poem rang a bell with him, and when he checked his collection he found the book of poetry in which the poem appeared,

Dat H’ampire H’air Train Plan. It was first published in 1943 and printed by Gaylord Printing Co. Ltd. of Toronto.

So having the name of the book, I went to http://www.abebooks.com, which I have used several times to locate and purchase used, old, and out-of-print books. I picked up the phone and ordered the book from Alice at Cal’s Books in Saskatoon.

The little hardcover book arrived the next day. It has 7 poems by S/L McLeod, illustrated with 33 cartoons by F/O H. Rickard. The cartoon sent with the poem as it appears in the February Page was not one of those by Rickard. I think it may have been drawn by someone for a station newsletter.

The book is the story of a French-Canadian airman named Joe, who trains in the BCATP, earns his pilot’s wings, is shipped overseas where he flies Halifax bombers, survives a belly landing after a mid-air collision with a German night fighter, is shot down overseas, evades capture, returns to England and is decorated by the king. It is all told in first-person with good humour about a young man who served his country in time of war.

S/L McLeod has inspired me to write my own poetic response to all this. It follows below, and is called, “Dat Poetry Book.”

I know that some folks may take exception to the accent used by S/L McLeod, but I’m sure he meant no offence to anyone. Nor do I. We’re just having fun with words. As McLeod wrote in the book about Joe, “You will find him an earnest, brave, hard-working airman. He trained hard, studied hard, and proved to his superiors that he was the ‘stuff’ of which heroes could be made.”

Following is my response to finding S/L McLeod’s book. I would welcome any information about him or his illustrator, F/O Rickard at…

Request from Clarence Simonsen – Flight Lieutenant Hugh Rickard

Updated 16 January 2022 with the proper rank.

Clarence Simonsen wrote with this request…

LAC H. Rickard was an RCAF unknown artist, at some forgotten unit in 1940. He began a cartoon strip on his RCAF duties – “AC2 ERK, Joe” and it became a hit. He was posted to Ottawa, maybe in 1941, then began drawing RCAF training posters, plus his cartoon which appeared in WINGS magazine – RCAF log.

He was posted to London, England in [?], I think 1944, promoted to F/O, serial unknown.

Images shared by Clarence Simonsen

Transcription

Thanks Ricky !

No. 3 I.T.S., and “The Take-Off” in particular, are deeply indebted to Flying Officer H. Rickard, who spent two days at this Station During July and subsequently produced the cartoons which now adorn our magazine.

“Ricky”, as he is known thoughout the Service, is the R.C.A.F. official cartoonist who has drawn hundreds of cartoons of all kinds, single ones and in series, in connection with Air Force matters. Not an Air Force Station in Canada, (and we doubt not, abroad) but has his works on its walls, drawing attention to rules and advice of all kinds in a far more striking way than could ever be done by mere printed words.

Our cover is his product, and we think you will agree that it is a mighty good one! So are the frontispiece and end cartoons. and most of the other drawings. “Ricky” is a quiet man and one didn’t see much of him during his visit, but his eyes were open and he saw things—witness his inimitable cartoons of the “snipe hunt” and the hot July route marches in our first issue.

Having seen things, he returned to Ottawa and went to work. He was shortly afterwards taken ill, but kept at his work and had it in Victoriaville in time for our first issue.

We can never appreciate enough his wonderful contributions to our magazine and we hope to have a lot more of them in the future.

Thanks “Ricky” !

Our First Editor is Posted

“The Take-Off” records with much regret the departure of its first editor, Flying Officer W. F. Burke. Mr. Burke has left oil temporary duty to take the course with the Fighter Command School at Orlando. Florida, subsequent to which he will be posted to other duties.

While envious of Flying Officer Burke’s trip to the Sunny South, where there seems no doubt he will he able to combine some pleasure with his duties (for it is difficult to imagine a month in Florida without some fun, we were sorry to see him leave.

”The Take-Off” was his child. He was amongst those who conceived the idea of publishing a magazine at No. 3 I.T.S., and was its guiding spirit in its earliest days. It followed as a matter of course that. he became the first editor. He did a good job and saw the baby safely born. It was on after the first edition of the magazine appeared that he was posted, but he left knowing that his work was well established.

The best of good luck, Flying Officer Bill!

Our congratulations this month to F/Sgt. Pat Winder, who was recently elevated to that rank. Also to Sgt. Errett, a new-comer in our midst. Welcome.

We understand that Sgt. Hankins is quite a ladies’ man. It must be that classic profile.

Attention Sgt “Sandy” Robertson. Is it true what they say about gophers?

Sgt. L’Heureux is speaking with a decidedly English accent these days—the Curle-Salter influence, no doubt.

We hear that W. 0. 2 Kirkham received 2 aspirins and 25c from Drummondville the other day. Better hang on to them Major. You never know, when you’ll need them.

Favourite expressions

Sgt. Howie: “Do you think that’s right ?”
F/Sgt. Gervais: Censored. It could not he printed.
W. O. 2 Blanchette: “Would you like to hear me sing?”
Sgt. MacDonald: “I think I’ll get married.”

What station Sgt. Major had to jump the gate to get in Friday evening? It’s funny how gates can get in the way.

NOTES FROM THE OFFICERS

Postings, marriages, births, promotions, with postings most frequent and promotions least, such is the news of the officers’ mess. Despite their rarity there have been three changes in rank. Allen Hern and Gerard Aubry, who also makes the news with his marriage, have become F/O’s. Our B.O, Mayne has been demoted from S.F.O. to Flight Loot.

F/O’s Ray Cotton and Don Edward each have another mouth to feed. Congratulations.

Friends departing were : F/L “Taffy” Davies to Moncton; F/L Paul Green and Sister Pitkethly for overseas; F/L Gus Dubuc for Lachine “M” Depot: F/O Cliff Church for No. I: F/O’s Burke and Tardif for Florida (yes, Florida) ; and F/O Charlie Young for No. 10 A.O.S., Chatham. We may also have lost, though. we aren’t quite sure F/O Bergeron.

New arrivals are: Padre Curry (May he have luck with our souls); F/O Blackwood and Sister Larose for the Hospital; Lt. Mussels, jaw-breaker: and three officer trainees: P/O’s Zeller, Smith, and Dernier. Bobbie Zeller is no stranger here. He was equipment officer here when No.3 was a pup. So to him and all the newcomers, welcome!

P. S.—There were some parties but everyone who needs to know about them knows already.

Images found on the Internet

Remembering Squadron Leader Carroll McLeod (source Internet)

http://www.hillmanweb.com/rcaf/mag/0703.html

Dick Lidstone ( now of Victoria), with whom I spent the summer of 1957 in Centralia and 1958 in Trenton with the RCAF, wrote to tell me that S/L McLeod’s poem rang a bell with him, and when he checked his collection he found the book of poetry in which the poem appeared,

Dat H’ampire H’air Train Plan. It was first published in 1943 and printed by Gaylord Printing Co. Ltd. of Toronto.

So having the name of the book, I went to http://www.abebooks.com, which I have used several times to locate and purchase used, old, and out-of-print books. I picked up the phone and ordered the book from Alice at Cal’s Books in Saskatoon.

The little hardcover book arrived the next day. It has 7 poems by S/L McLeod, illustrated with 33 cartoons by F/O H. Rickard. The cartoon sent with the poem as it appears in the February Page was not one of those by Rickard. I think it may have been drawn by someone for a station newsletter.

The book is the story of a French-Canadian airman named Joe, who trains in the BCATP, earns his pilot’s wings, is shipped overseas where he flies Halifax bombers, survives a belly landing after a mid-air collision with a German night fighter, is shot down overseas, evades capture, returns to England and is decorated by the king. It is all told in first-person with good humour about a young man who served his country in time of war.

S/L McLeod has inspired me to write my own poetic response to all this. It follows below, and is called, “Dat Poetry Book.”

I know that some folks may take exception to the accent used by S/L McLeod, but I’m sure he meant no offence to anyone. Nor do I. We’re just having fun with words. As McLeod wrote in the book about Joe, “You will find him an earnest, brave, hard-working airman. He trained hard, studied hard, and proved to his superiors that he was the ‘stuff’ of which heroes could be made.”

Following is my response to finding S/L McLeod’s book. I would welcome any information about him or his illustrator, F/O Rickard at…

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.

Excerpt

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:

LOG BOOK ENDORSEMENT

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…

 

Embraceable “U”

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Embraceable “U”

Click on the link for the PDF version.

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.

RCAF Vampire 3

Research by Clarence Simonsen

RCAF Vampire 3
No. 401 [Auxiliary] “Ram” Fighter Squadron
1946-1956

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RCAF Vampire 3

Click on the link above for the PDF file.


Text version with images

RCAF Vampire 3
No. 401 [Auxiliary] “Ram” Fighter Squadron
1946-1956

The D.H. 100 Vampire was a single-seat, twin-boom, jet propelled fighter monoplane with the pilot located in the nose of the central nacelle in a pressurised cockpit. The Vampire was all metal construction except for the forward fuselage which was wooden construction covered by metal skin.

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The de Havilland Engine Co. designed the first jet engine in April 1941, and by March 1943, it was flying in a Gloster Meteor [twin-engine] and by 20 September 1943, it was powering the D.H. 100 Vampire on its initial test flights. The RAF Vampire fighter reached a top speed of 540 mph [864 kph] over a wide altitude range, the second jet fighter operated by the RAF, and the first powered by a single jet engine.

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The RCAF’s choice of the D.H. 100 Vampire as its first postwar jet fighter had more to do with politics and money, rather than fighter pilot operational considerations. In 1945, the United Kingdom owed Canada 242 million for the construction of the BCATP, and this debt was forgiven by the government of Canada in 1946. Acquiring British jets for the RCAF was another complex financial agreement which was controlled by credits [not money] which Canada had secured in Britain during the war. The RCAF had hoped for both Vampire [single engine]and Meteors [twin engine] jets but the Canadian government did not have enough British credits for both, and thus picked the cheaper Vampires, when available credits allowed for 85 fighters, rather than 66 Meteors. So “Bloody” Canadian.

The first RAF jet shipped to Canada for testing was Meteor EE311, which arrived by ship in Montreal, August 1945. Assembled and test flown at Ottawa, the new jet fighter was ferried by rail to Edmonton in December 1945, for cold weather testing. On 1 April 1946, RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment [W.E.E. testing] was moved to Namao, [North Edmonton] Alberta, and a second RAF Meteor EE361 was shipped to Canada joining EE311. On 29 June 1946, F/L William H. McKenzie J16763, was ordered to ferry Meteor EE311 to Malton, Ontario, for an RCAF airshow, where the RAF Meteor would become the big attraction. The pilot ran out of fuel [external tank would not feed] and the new RAF Meteor EE311 was ditched in Helen Bay Lake, north of Nipigon, Ontario. Pilot McKenzie survived three weeks in the Canadian wilderness and was not found until 25 July. Meteor EE361 was returned to England in 1947, and these two RAF Meteor jets were the only pair flown by the RCAF for testing. Meteor EE311 was recovered from Helen Bay Lake in 1946, and most likely scrapped.

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This Library and Archives of Canada image shows RAF Meteor jet-fighter EE311 at RCAF Rockcliffe, Ontario, in October 1945. She will be shipped by C.P.R. rail to Edmonton, Alberta, in December 1945 for cold weather testing. RCAF test pilot officers [L to R] F/Lt. Jack Robert Ritch, F/O Everett L. Badoux and F/Lt. William H. McKenzie who ditched in Helen Bay Lake on 29 June 1946.

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On 22 December 1946, the first RAF Vampire 1, serial TG372 [below] arrived by rail at RCAF Namao, [North Edmonton] Alberta, for cold weather testing. First flight 4 January 1947, instrument check by pilot F/L Ritch, 5 minutes. Test flown until 11 June 1949, then remained at Edmonton base and only used for local test flying, last flight by W/C W.B. Hodgson on 17 November 1949. Replaced by RCAF Vampire 3, serial #17055, taken on strength 20 August 1948, test flown W.E.E. Edmonton, on 25 November 1948, F/L Robert Ritch.

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The first RCAF Vampire F.3 was test flown by de Havilland at RCAF Downsview, Ontario, 17 January 1948, and soon went into service as Central Flying School training aircraft at RCAF Trenton, Ontario. The Vampire was already an obsolescent jet fighter by the time it entered service with the RCAF, but the American F-86 would soon be built by Canadair in Montreal and the new Avro CF-100 was being designed at Malton, Ontario. The British Vampire 3 introduced Canadian fighter pilots to jet propulsion, a pressurized cockpit and tricycle landing gear, however the fighter had no ejection seat, which did cost lives. Ten RCAF squadrons flew the Vampire, with a total of 86 acquired in 1948, only forty survived by 1956, when the jet fighter was withdrawn from RCAF service. The serial numbers of the 86 aircraft follow, with dates of the twenty-two lost in Category “A” accidents.

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RCAF Vampire 3 Serial Numbers

The yellow indicates seventeen DH-100 Vampire 3 fighter jets taken on charge by No. 401 [Auxiliary] “Ram” Fighter Squadron based at St. Hubert, Quebec, March 1948 – February 1956.

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The Early History of No. 1 [RCAF] Fighter Squadron 1937-41

No. 1 [RCAF] Fighter Squadron was formed at Trenton, Ontario, on 21 September 1937, the nucleus of the unit came from No. 3 [Bomber] Squadron “Fighter Flight” which was formed at Camp Borden, Ontario, on 1 September 1935.

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These RCAF fighter pilots trained in five obsolete Armstrong Whitworth Siskin Mk. III A aircraft serial #302, 303, 304, 305, and 309. This RCAF image was taken at Trenton, Ontario, in July 1938, Siskin #302 being prepared for flight. No. 1 [Fighter] Squadron moved to Calgary, Alberta, 30 August 1938, where the first modern Hawker Hurricanes fighter aircraft arrived in crates from England. Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, #316 arrived at Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. on 17 May 1939, was assembled and test flown. First British Hawker Hurricane fighter #316 to arrive in Calgary, Alberta, 1 June 1939, pilot S/L Fullerton. [author collection]

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The first RCAF Hawker Hurricane fighter training took place at Calgary, Alberta, 28 June 1939, when S/L Elmer Garfield Fullerton took #315 for a test flight. This RCAF airfield is today the location of Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta. Fighter training continued until 3 September 1939, when England declared war on Germany. On 10 September 1939, war was declared by Canada, and No. 1 Squadron moved to St. Hubert, Quebec, with seven Hurricanes fighters on strength, serial #311, 315, 316, 324, 327, 328, and 329.

On 28 May 1940, before going overseas, No. 1 Squadron absorbed No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron which was an RCAF Auxiliary Active Air Force unit from Montreal, Quebec. RCAF Auxiliary Squadrons and their ‘part-time’ aircrews saved Canada [and England] during the early six months of WWII. Canadian history forgotten by the passage of time.

The world-wide depression of 1932, had a drastic effect on the RCAF and they were barely able to survive, with a strength of 103 officers and 591 airmen. [I won’t mention the obsolete aircraft they were flying] Since the RCAF inception in 1924, it was mainly employed with the Canadian government’s civil flying duties, and it was not until 1936, the government decided they should reorganize as a purely military organization. Almost too little too late, as only the growing threat of Hitler’s conflict in Europe resulted in federal funds for the RCAF to expand and form new commands under their own control. On 15 November 1937, to allow for the expansion of the RCAF Permanent Force, Non-Permanent Auxiliary Air Force units were assigned and renumbered in the 100-block squadron numbers. No. 15 [Auxiliary] Fighter Squadron in Montreal, Quebec, now became No. 115 Squadron, and the RCAF Auxiliary Active Air Force was created on 1 December 1938, with twelve squadrons by 1939. On 19 December 1938, the RCAF became an independent arm directly under the Minister of National Defence, controlled by the Chief of the Air Staff. As a result, the new commands were fully operational when war was declared and the RCAF were able to handle the sudden rapid air force expansion. On 10 September 1939, when war was declared, the twelve Auxiliary units were mobilized, and this ‘part-time’ Auxiliary Active Air Force now represented one-third of the RCAF’s total strength. These Auxiliary units supplied half of two RCAF squadrons which sailed to England in 1940, so often forgotten by historians in modern unit history. Forty-three per cent of No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron came from No. 115 [Fighter] Auxiliary Squadron from St. Hubert, Quebec.

On 26 August 1940, they were the first to encounter German aircraft, suffer combat casualties, the first RCAF squadron to engage in combat during the Battle of Britain, and to win gallantry awards. When mobilized at St. Hubert, Quebec, 10 September 1939, they also created an unofficial unit badge with a large blue number 1, a flying Canada Goose, with a Red Maple Leaf, which served with pride in the unit until 1 March 1941, when a new official badge was created at Digby, Lincolnshire, England. No. 401 [Fighter] Squadron was approved featuring a Rocky Mountain Sheep [Ram] Head, Motto – Mors celerrima hostibus [Very swift death for the enemy]. They flew Hurricane and Spitfire fighters on offensive and defensive combat air operations over England and in air support of Allied ground forces in North-West Europe. They held the record for RCAF sorties flown at 12,087, and lost 62 pilots, 6 killed in action, 10 killed in accidents, 28 presumed dead, no body ever found, and 18 POWs. On 5 October 1945, No. 401 scored the very first RAF/RCAF kill over a new German Me262 jet fighter over the Arnhem-Nijmegen area of Germany. In total they destroyed 195 German aircraft, probably destroyed 35 and damaged another 106 fighters, making them the top-scoring RCAF fighter squadron in WWII. They remained in Germany under No. 127 [RCAF] Fighter Wing, and were disbanded at Fassberg, Germany, on 10 July 1945.

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It is possible the No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron ‘unofficial’ badge was created at Calgary, Alberta, during Hawker Hurricane training 28 June to 3 September 1939. On 10 September 1939, No. 1 Squadron was mobilized at St. Hubert, Quebec, and this is where the first image of the unofficial badge was photographed by Quebec pilot F/O Nesbitt. This unofficial badge served with No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron during the Battle of Britain, however nothing else is known. I’m sure it was painted on a few Canadian aircraft, but again, just lost when aircraft were shot down and no photos were taken of the Canadian Hurricane fighter art.

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During the Battle of Britain, five urgently needed Hurricane squadrons joined the fray, No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron, No. 302 and No. 303 [Polish], No. 310 and No. 312 [Czech] Squadrons. The RAF allowed these five squadrons to paint a national emblem on the Hurricane fuselage, provided it did not take up more than one square foot. RAF fuselage and nose art was permitted and No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron became part of RAF aviation aircraft marking history. History painted and self-explained on the front cover of Toronto Star Weekly magazine 5 July 1941. [author collection]

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The inside story of Toronto Star Weekly, 5 July 1941, exposed the full impact of RAF Hurricane fighter fuselage [pilot position] art which was first allowed during the Battle of Britain, and involved No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron.

The RAF soon expanded the use of national emblems used by all Allied Squadrons serving in the RAF, they had no choice, the Polish, Norwegian, Greek, Dutch, Free French, Belgian, Czech, Americans, and Canadians were all painting their British flown aircraft with art. RAF Command simply attempted to take some form of control, and orders read – “National Emblems must be positioned on fuselage sides close to pilot position and conditioned not to exceed 100 Square inches in area.” RAF squadrons began to paint different forms of pilot position art and this slowly moved forward to the nose and became commonly called “Nose Art.” For some insane reason, today’s RCAF Aviation Museum’s are afraid to paint and display WWII aircraft properly, and American [internet] publications are slowly claiming they were responsible for WWII aircraft nose art. This simple fuselage art all began in August 1940, when Allied pilots flying for the RAF in the Battle of Britain, just wanted to display their national pride, and maybe bring them some combat luck.

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This Star Weekly image clearly shows the proper RAF approved “pilot position” art on a Battle of Britain Hurricane, not exceeding 100 Square inches. S/L John Simpson flew with No. 35 and 245 Squadrons, thirteen kills, became Group Captain in RAF, died 8 December 1949.

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The second photo came from No. 5 S.F.T.S. at Branford, Ontario, as RCAF ground crew pretends to paint a flight squadron Devil stencil on a British Avro Anson Mk. I trainer. Most of these WWII training flight aircraft art insignia were not preserved and have been lost and forgotten.

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Sadly, this also applies to the original No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron badge, the very roots of our Canadian fighter unit which has been overlooked by historians and forgotten as non-important Canadian RCAF history.

The RCAF reached its peak wartime strength in 1944, with 215,200 all ranks, including 46,272 serving overseas. On 6 February 1946, the government approved a peacetime RCAF of four components, a Regular Force, an Auxiliary, a Reserve and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. The Regular Force were assigned 16,100 all ranks and eight squadrons, while the Auxiliary were assigned 4,500 all ranks and fifteen squadrons. The Auxiliary were assigned the role of Canadian Air Defence and began to form flying squadrons in April 1946.

No. 401 [Auxiliary] Squadron was reborn on 15 April 1946, at Montreal, Quebec, and once again the head of a “Ram” took to Canadian skies. On 1 October 1945, No. 401 took over all ground and air training aspects of a RCAF Regular fighter squadron.

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The official WWII badge, approved by King George VI, September 1944, was once again the official badge of No. 401 [Auxiliary] Squadron, Training Command, Air Defence, St. Hubert, Quebec.

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In September 1946, No. 401 [Auxiliary] Squadron took on strength twelve North American Harvard Mk. II trainer aircraft serials: #195, 586, 2680, 2760, 3046, 3082, 3091, 3123, 3192, 3288, 3300, and 3586. Around this period an ‘unofficial’ badge of a vicious Flying Rocky Mountain Sheep [RAM] was created by the squadron, appearing on beer mugs, glasses, plus an unofficial cloth badge [left] worn by Auxiliary aircrew members until 1956. The Squadron colors became Dark [Roundel] Blue and each Harvard trainer aircraft cowling, wing tips, and rear rudder were painted Dark Blue. [Decal and cloth badge from collection of F/O Denis LeBlanc]

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On 9 May 1947, RCAF Routine order 250, issued in a new five-letter Post-War code system with a new International Civil Aviation Organization registration of aircraft. Harvard serial #3288 now became VC-ABG and was marked as such. The “VC” [on paper] denoted RCAF, “AB” was No. 1 [Auxiliary] Squadron, and the “G” became the aircraft assigned letter. This VC system code was not discontinued by the RCAF until 19 November 1951. While the No. 401 Squadron Ram head appeared on many aircraft, Harvard, Canadair Silver Star [T-33], Canadair Sabre [F-86] and Beechcraft Expeditor Mk. 3, no photo evidence can be found showing the unofficial badge [Flying Ram] was ever painted on any aircraft. I’m sure it was, but again lost by time.

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Harvard flying training consisted of four, six, and eight aircraft flying in close formation, aerobatics, instrument flying and long range navigation. Ground lectures were held on navigation, air traffic control, armament, and survival.

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Early March 1948, four RCAF D.H. Vampire 3 jets begin to arrive with No. 401 [Aux.] Squadron.

Vampire #17008, 17014, 17024, and 17040 received the same VC system of identification as the Harvard’s, with the nose given the letters AB – A to Z on each side. The twin tail rudders were painted in Dark Blue, the same as the Harvard trainer aircraft.

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Vampire training consisted of four, [later six, and eight jets] flying in formation, pipelines, cine range firing, air to ground live firing at Diver Range, Instrument flying, low and high level navigation with and without fuel drop tanks and jet conversion training. Special pilot training instructions were also given in the dangers of baling out of the new Vampire jet as the pilot was likely to strike the twin tail plane and would be killed or seriously injured. A special technique was developed which involved an inverted half-roll before the pilot jumped, however this was only effective in normal controlled aircraft flight. If you lost an engine or the aircraft was on fire, you rode the Vampire to a forced landing and hoped for the best. No. 401 Squadron had a total of seventeen Vampire 3 jets on strength and six were lost in Category “A” accidents, killing four pilots.

F/Lt. Charles Stewart Buchanan, Vampire #17024, killed 22 July 1952. F/O Donald Ross Wright, force landed Vampire 17035 at Joliette, Quebec, killed 11 June 1954. F/O Peter Albert Read #105313, arrived 25 April 1951, mid-air #17086, killed 10 July 1954. F/O George Harry Griffin, crashed on take-off #17059, killed 22 July 1954, Toronto. S/L T.W. Dowbiggin baled out of Vampire #17054 [survived] after mid-air with #17086, 10 July 1954.

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The official title “City of Westmount” never appeared on aircraft, while the Ram’s head unit insignia continued to appear on Canadair [T-33] Silver Star, Canadair [F-86] Sabre and Beechcraft Expeditor until 1968.

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When the International Civil Aviation Organization system of registering individual aircraft was introduced 9 May 1947, the Canadian government did little research and soon the RCAF problems with the system began to mount. When an RCAF aircraft was transferred to another unit, the aircraft had to be re-registered and all new markings must be applied. This was too costly and very time-consuming for the RCAF who had enough common problems to deal with. Since no other military organization in the world had adopted the VC code ICAO system, the Canadian government officially discontinued the markings on 19 November 1951. New two letter codes were issued to all RCAF units and all aircraft had to be repainted, again with more cost and time. New Squadron two-letter codes were now assigned [to selected units] with the last three digits from the aircraft serial number, so simple, and cost saving. No. 401 [Auxiliary] retained their squadron code “AB ” and the last three digits for each aircraft serial were applied to both sides of the nose. The AB code letters were painted after the national insignia on each twin boom of the jet. The nose area in front of the cockpit was painted black, the underside nose wheel area was painted black and the underside of the engine fuselage was also painted black. The two twin rudder tails remained painted dark [Roundel] Blue. The wing undersurface contained the three digit [030] serial numbers in reverse with Maple Leaf national marking.

No. 401 [Auxiliary] Squadron establishment was broken into two sections; the Auxiliary [part-time] Air Force and the RCAF Permanent Air Force, which was called the Auxiliary Support Unit.

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In August of 1951, Permanent Air Force Flight/Sgt. Denis [Denny] LeBlanc, twenty-eight years old, was posted to No. 401 Squadron for fighter training in the new D.H. 100 Vampire 3 jet aircraft.

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Denis Denny LeBlanc was born in Campbellton, New Brunswick, 28 February 1924. He joined the Canadian Army in September 1941 and was released from the Army in December 1942, so he could enlist in the RCAF.  He received his Flight Sgt. Wings in 1943, No. 1 Flying Training School, Trenton, Ontario.

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Promoted to F/O in January 1952, Denny LeBlanc #J8805, [middle right] was an experienced pilot when he arrived with No. 401 Fighter Squadron, sadly his log book is missing and much information was lost. The photo is not dated and the Chaplain is believed to be F/Lt. J.A.R. Ducharm, St, Hubert, Quebec. The Dakota DC-3 was taken on charge RCAF 17 January 1945, U.S. serial 43-49872, RCAF VC-BNA serial 983, sold to the Indian Air Force 12 March 1963.

S/L Fred L. Mitchell first soloed in a Vampire jet on 18 January 1951, and one year later was assigned training officer for F/O LeBlanc. At 09:30 hrs., 9 March 1952, the two pilots were flying a normal routine training flight at 3,000 feet, then around 10:00 hrs S/L Mitchell noticed black smoke streaming from the engine of LeBlanc’s Vampire jet serial #17029. Mitchell ordered LeBlanc to make an immediate forced landing, and the pilot selected a snow covered field beside the main highway to Lanoraie, Quebec, thirty-five miles from RCAF St. Hubert, Quebec.

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The D.H.-100 Vampire 3 RCAF jet trainer serial #17029, coded “AB-B” with possibly pilot LeBlanc at the controls. [Date of photo unknown]

As he prepared for his wheels-up forced landing, the extra under wing fuel tanks were jettisoned, and the flaming jet touched down and began to slide along the snow covered ground. In seconds the flaming jet slid about 150 feet and then suddenly disappeared in a blinding flash. S/L Mitchell circled the crash site and as the smoke cleared could see no sight of pilot LeBlanc. Fearing the worst, Mitchell gained altitude and raced for the base, informing the control tower of the crash location, as ground and RCAF ambulance were dispatched. The force of the aircraft engine explosion had blown the aircraft cockpit sideways and LeBlanc was found half-conscious in his cockpit amid the wreckage. His escape from Vampire aircraft death was described as “nothing short of a miracle” with superficial injuries and no broken bones. He was rushed to Queen Mary Veterans Hospital where he remained in a body cast, a precaution for healing of his spine, for the next four months.

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The remains of DH Vampire #17029 under investigation at St. Hubert, Quebec

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Queen Mary Veterans Hospital June 1952 and pilot LeBlanc is still in partial spine body cast.

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31 May 1953 F/O LeBlanc [right] was posted to RCAF Station London, Ontario.

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Converted to F-86 Sabre and flew at RCAF Chatham, New Brunswick.

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In December 1954, two Canadair Silver Star [T-33] arrived, serial #21437, and #21439. Trainer serial #21476 and #21530 arrived in 1955, with 530 [above] the last to leave April 1958.

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Vampire training was slowly coming to an end and by the fall of 1955, they were parked, officially off strength in February 1956.

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Seventeen D.H.–100 Vampire jets served with No. 401 [Aux.] Squadron from March 1948 until February 1956 and now the Vampire Bats were going into storage.

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In total 3,268 Vampire jets were constructed in fifteen different versions and today [2021] at least eighty survive, with a number still flying. Canada has seven, including four Vampire 3 aircraft. The Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa has the world’s second oldest Mk. 1 and most original intact RAF Vampire TG372, which was used for winter flight testing [W.E.E.] at Edmonton, Alberta.

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RAF DH-100 Vampire 1 serial TG732 arrived in Canada from England and was taken on charge by the RCAF 22 November 1946. Taken on strength RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment [W.E.E.] Edmonton, [Namao] Alberta, 30 November 1946. First flight 4 January 1947, F/L Ritch, test pilot.

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RCAF Vampire #17055 arrived at RCAF Edmonton in the fall of 1948, flying her first W.E.E. testing on 25 November 1948. The test flying hours of Vampire TG372 slowly dropped to around fifteen hours a month and she was used in an Edmonton airshow on 11 June 1949, pilot K.W. Brown. On 17 November 1949, Vampire TG372 was taken for a test flight by W/C W.B. Hodgson, testing and local area flying. The Vampire still flew a few test flights up to February 1958, eleven years of service in the RCAF. Somehow this rare Vampire Mk. 1 was saved from scrapping and today is in storage at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, complete with rare “My Assam Dragging” nose art. Canadian RCAF museum’s have a very bad track record of destroying one-of-a-kind historical aircraft and then repainting them as replica aircraft, or just failing to paint them correctly. I do hope [our Canadian Smithsonian] Canada Aviation and Space Museum will preserve Vampire 1 serial TG372 in her original markings and also preserve the original Dragon nose art painting.

The art work reflects on the long service record [eleven years] and the fact the RAF Vampire jet was in fact dragging her ‘ass’ by 1958. The RCAF artist or date of the nose art are unknown to the author but the hard part will be attempting to preserve this artistic history by Canadian historians in Ottawa.  The painting “Our Assam Draggin” dates back to 1942, when the USAAF 25th Fighter Squadron went to war in the India-Burma campaign.

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American General Pershing landed at Liverpool, England, with his staff, on 8 June 1917, to organize the American Expeditionary Force. The American Air Service would procure 4,791 front line aircraft from France, 261 from Britain and 19 from Italy. In addition, 1,216 D.H. 4 aircraft were shipped from the U.S. which were mainly used for training, as they were not front line combat aircraft.

Forty-four American combat squadrons were organized in France and saw active service at the front flying mostly modern French aircraft. Each A.E.F. Aero Squadron painted insignia art on the French aircraft they flew and most of this insignia were retained when the U.S. Army Air Corps was formed on 1 March 1935. As new Air Corps squadrons were formed new insignia was created and approved, while others were never officially approved. The 25th Pursuit Squadron was constituted on 20 November 1940, activated on 15 January 1941. On 20 June 1941, the American War Department created the U.S. Army Air Forces, and during the war A.A.F. combat units were assigned to wings and numbered air forces. The 25th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the 51st Fighter Group, 10th Air Force, flying the India-Burma WWII campaign, based at Karachi, India, in the North-East State of Assam, 12 March 1942.

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 Their official insignia became “Our Assam Draggin” with a P-40 shaped Dragon, designed by an ex-Walt Disney artist This insignia inspired many nose art paintings of “Our Ass is Dragon” during WWII, and possibly inspired the nose art on RCAF Vampire TG372 in mid 1950s. Will the bureaucrats in Ottawa preserve their rare Vampire nose art and tell the history? I can only hope!

Fleet Fawn II – R.C.A.F. #264 – Update

YO-G

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By Chris Charland

This story has beer, flying, fighting, beer, hockey, more beer and a pinch of politics in it. Life does not get any better than that. Did I mention beer?

C1226 Flying Officer Hartland de Montarville Molson (yes of the Molson Brewery family) from Montreal, Quebec, stands beside his damaged Hawker Hurricane Mk. I s/n P3757 coded YO*G. He was slightly injured when landing his aircraft at R.A.F. Station Hornchurch, Essex after flying a sortie from there on the 18th of August, 1940. At that time, the squadron commanded by Squadron Ernie ‘PeeWee’ McNab from Rosthern, Saskatchewan. was based at R.A.F. Station Croydon, Surrey as part of R.A.F. Fighter Command’s No. 11 Group.

Molson flew 62 combat sorties while with the No. 1 (RCAF) Fighter Squadron. He damaged one Dornier 215 (26th of August, 1940), damaged two Bf 110’s (4th of September, 1940) and destroyed one Heinkel He 111 (26th of September, 1940). On the 5th of October, 1940, Molson was flying Hurricane s/n P3873 and coded YO*R on a patrol. He encountered Luftwaffe fighter opposition and in the ensuing melee was shot down. Although getting shot three times in the leg, he safely baled out over Canterbury. He was admitted to a hospital in Chatham, Kent Molson was repatriated to Canada in early 1941 to recuperate from his wounds.

Now a squadron leader, Molson assumed command of No. 118 (F) Squadron on the 23rd of July, 1941 from his former commanding officer overseas,Wing Commander Ernie McNab. Based at R.C.A.F. Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the squadron assigned east coast air defence duties, initially flew the portly Grumman Goblin bi-plane until it was replaced by the Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. I beginning in November, 1941.

Molson relinquished command of No. 118 (F) Squadron to C1328 Squadron Leader Arthur M. Yuile from Montreal, Quebec on the 14th of June. Molson and Yule had been squadron mates with No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron in England

On the 9th of June, 1942 Molson assumed command of No. 126 ‘Flying Lancers’ (F) Squadron from Squadron Leader Arthur M. Yule. The squadron also tasked with defending Canada’s east coast from R.C.A.F. Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was equipped with the Canadian-built Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIA . Molson’s command of the Flying Lancers lasted until the 6th of September, 1942.

Molson would be flying a desk with his new posting at Eastern Air Command H.Q. in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He would go on to command R,C,A.F, Station Dartmouth, No. 8 Service Flying Training School in Moncton, New Brunswick and after its move to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, as well as R.C.A.F. Station St, Hubert, Quebec. His final posting effective the 16th of July, 1944, was to the Directorate of Personnel at Air Force Headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario.

Molson, who retired in September 1945 with the rank of Group Captain, received the Order of the British Empire Medal effective the 1st of January, 1946. The citation that accompanied the ward reads as follows:

“This officer was appointed during the first months of the war and upon completion of advanced training proceeded overseas with No.1 Fighter Squadron, with which he served during the Battle of Britain. He was wounded and repatriated to Canada. Since his return, he has served as staff officer in charge of Fighter Defences in Eastern Air Command and was subsequently appointed to the command of several stations. In all of these appointments he has displayed outstanding initiative, thoroughness, enthusiasm and devotion to duty. As the result of his excellent record he was appointed to the position of Director of Personnel. For a year he has carried the heavy responsibilities of this position, and continued to display the same outstanding qualities of leadership and loyalty.”

Molson would later be called to Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent in 1955. His long association with the Montreal Canadiens (my late granny Edith hated them with a passion) as President and Chairman of the team earned him a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973.

Sadly, Molson passed away on the 22nd of September, 2002.

Cheers…

End of update


Research by Clarence Simonsen (May 2021)

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Fleet Fawn RCAF 264

Click on the link above for the PDF.

Introduction

The full history of Fleet Aircraft Limited and their Canadian aircraft manufacture can be found on many websites and need not be repeated. The first Fleet Model 7B aircraft was taken on charge by the RCAF 1 April 1931, and nineteen more [Mk. Is] were delivered from Fort Erie, Ontario. They were given the name “Fleet Fawn” and these two-seater primary trainers not only impressed the RCAF, they greatly improved pilot flying standards in the pre-war 1930s.  

Thirty-one Model 7C trainers Mk. II were constructed and delivered to the RCAF between 5 March 1936 and 16 November 1938, fitted with a more powerful but quieter engine. They became the definitive trainer variant aircraft. Forty-three Fleet Fawn Model 7B [Mk. I] and 7C [Mk. II] trainers were on operational pilot training duties when war was declared on 10 September 1939. 

Fleet Fawn 7C [Mk. II], manufacturer construction number FAL-123 [Fleet Aircraft Ltd.] was completed in early July 1938 and officially taken on charge by the RCAF on 7 July. The aircraft was assigned RCAF serial number 264 and flown to No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron [Auxiliary] at Montreal [St. Hubert] Quebec, 16 July 1938.


Text version (with images) 

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Maclean’s Magazine – 15 May 1944

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The full history of Fleet Aircraft Limited and their Canadian aircraft manufacture can be found on many websites and need not be repeated. The first Fleet Model 7B aircraft was taken on charge by the RCAF 1 April 1931, and nineteen more [Mk. Is] were delivered from Fort Erie, Ontario. They were given the name “Fleet Fawn” and these two-seater primary trainers not only impressed the RCAF, they greatly improved pilot flying standards in the pre-war 1930s.  

Thirty-one Model 7C trainers Mk. II were constructed and delivered to the RCAF between 5 March 1936 and 16 November 1938, fitted with a more powerful but quieter engine. They became the definitive trainer variant aircraft. Forty-three Fleet Fawn Model 7B [Mk. I] and 7C [Mk. II] trainers were on operational pilot training duties when war was declared on 10 September 1939. 

Fleet Fawn 7C [Mk. II], manufacturer construction number FAL-123 [Fleet Aircraft Ltd.] was completed in early July 1938 and officially taken on charge by the RCAF on 7 July. The aircraft was assigned RCAF serial number 264 and flown to No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron [Auxiliary] at Montreal [St. Hubert] Quebec, 16 July 1938.

Early history of No. 15 [Fighter] Squadron – reformed No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron

No. 15 [Fighter] Squadron [Auxiliary] was formed at Montreal, Quebec, on 1 September 1934, however they would be flightless birds for the next twenty-one months. No flying, just ground school duties showing as ‘NIL’ in their Daily Diary. The Great Depression had caused a delay in the development of RCAF training, aircraft, and qualified pilots, coupled with the over-cautious approach taken by P.M. Mackenzie King and his political advisers, who believed Hitler and Germany were not a threat to world peace. 

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In May 1936, No. 15 Squadron received four Tiger Moth DH-60 trainer aircraft serial #64, #72, #81, and #110, allowing their first pilot training to begin that summer. 

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On 15 September 1937, No. 15 Squadron was renumbered No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron [Auxiliary] and flying training increased. At militia summer camp in Camp Borden, 2 June 1938, Tiger Moth serial #81 crashed at Ivy, Ontario, killing P/O P. F. Birks, resulting in four new Fleet Fawn trainers being assigned to No. 115 Squadron beginning 3 July 1938. 

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The first modern Fleet Fawn Mk. II two-seat trainer serial RCAF #262 arrived 3 July 1938, followed by Fawn #263 and #264 [Nanton, Alberta, Museum today] on 16 July. The fourth and last Fawn 7B Mk. I trainer RCAF #198 [below] arrived at St. Hubert airbase 30 August 1938.

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At times historians and Canadian aviation museums lose sight of the importance involving a few aircraft or their small part in forming WWII RCAF history, thus, too often it is just overlooked and forgotten. These four forgotten Fleet Fawn trainer aircraft provided vital pilot training for the auxiliary pilots in No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron for twelve months, August 1938 to August 1939. [In August 1939, the RCAF listed only 235 fully trained pilots, including 57 Flying Instructors] When war began, 10 September 1939, Auxiliary units represented one-third of RCAF total strength, and supplied two complete squadrons which sailed for England in 1940.

No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron was formed as a fighter unit at Trenton, Ontario, on 21 September 1937, training in obsolete WWI Siskin aircraft. 

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Canadian Department of National Defence (Royal Canadian Air Force photo) – From: Dempsey, Daniel V. A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage. Victoria, BC: High Flight Enterprises, 2002.

The squadron moved to Calgary, Alberta, in August 1938, and continued Siskin training until February 1939, when the first British Mk. I Hurricanes began arriving at Sea Island in shipping crates. These first modern RCAF Hurricanes were uncrated, reassembled, test flown and then ferried over the Canadian Rocky Mountains to Calgary, Alberta. When war was declared, 10 September 1939, No. 1 Squadron was ordered to St. Hubert, Quebec, for Hurricane training and by 27 September the balance of the squadron had arrived, total strength five Officers and seventy-two airmen. 

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A new No. 1 Squadron “unofficial” badge [Motto – “Always Faithful”] appeared in Quebec with the squadron but the details are still unknown. I believe this art originated in Calgary, Alberta, after February, when the new Hurricanes fighters began arriving. [author scale replica from original photo in P/O Nesbitt collection] On 6 November 1939, No. 1 Squadron moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, for further Hurricane training. 

The auxiliary fighter pilots in No. 115 Squadron had their first look at a new British Modern Hurricane fighter, but they continued to train in their four Fleet Fawn aircraft. The flight training pilot names listed for one day, 1 November 1939, [below] demonstrates the importance of this Fleet Fawn training as nine of these Montreal pilot’s will later fly Hurricane fighters with No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron in the Battle of Britain. These same nine pilots would destroy [confirmed kills] thirteen German aircraft and claim another fourteen damaged during the Battle of Britain, thanks in part for their Fleet Fawn training obtained at St. Hubert, Quebec. 

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Daily Operations Record for No. 115 Squadron list twenty-four [Auxiliary] members of the squadron who flew one or more training flights in Fleet Fawn #264 from 1 November to 2 December 1939. The nine underlined flew in the Battle of Britain.

P/O Pitcher, P/O Brown, P/O Beardmore, P/O Hyde, P/O Hill, F/O Molson, P/O McCarthy, P/O Jones, F/O Mclean, P/O Nesbitt, F/Lt. Pollock, F/Sgt. Horsley, S/L Foss, P/O Russel, Cpl. Phillips, AC2 L’Abbe, P/O Hanbury, S/L Fullerton, A/C Stone, Lt. Smallere [RCE Army], Sgt. Carpenter, P/O Sprenger, Cpl. Fair, and F/O Corbett.  

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This free domain photo possibly came from the collection of P/O Nesbitt, showing the RCAF auxiliary pilot strapping his skies to the port side of a No. 115 Squadron Fleet Fawn trainer. The Fleet Aircraft Ltd insignia can be seen under the cockpit fuselage in the image.

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P/O Nesbitt flew all four of the Fleet Fawn trainers in 1938-39 [56:25 Hrs.] and trained in Fawn #264 twice on 2 November 1939, [10:25 to 11:40 hrs.] and [12:45 to 13:20 hrs.] The following day he flew #264 from 10:50 to 11:45 hrs. It is possible this snowy scene was taken in November 1939, as his name was no longer recorded in the Daily Operations from this date onwards. Three North American Harvard trainers arrived on 1 December 1939, serial #1341, #1342, and #1343, pilot P/O Nesbitt flew Harvard training flights totalling 48:35 Hrs. 

Eight Senior Officers, eleven Officer pilots, and 86 airmen of No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 27 May 1940. On 28 May 1940, all personnel were absorbed into No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron and the new unit sailed for England [11 June] as a complete mobile force prepared to go to air war in France. The total No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron personnel which arrived in England were twenty-seven Officers, including twenty-one pilots and 314 Airmen. Almost half of this new composite RCAF squadron personnel came from Montreal, Quebec, 43 per cent from No. 115 Squadron [Auxiliary] St. Hubert, Quebec, September 1937 to May 1940.

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This RCAF group photo of No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron was taken on the Steamship “Duchess of Atholl” ship E.37 in Halifax harbour around 21:00 hrs., 10 June 1940. Departed Halifax 10:00 hrs 11 June 1940. Forty-five ranks are in the photo, including 27 officers, 21 are pilots. Eleven of these pilots are from No. 115 Squadron and have no flying experience in Hawker Hurricane fighters. They will be treated as new pilots and receive Hurricane fighter training in England. This reveals the importance of their many hours of training in four Fleet Fawn trainers at St. Hubert, Quebec. 

The following chart records the flying training hours completed by twenty of these No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron pilots when they arrived in the United Kingdom on 20 June 1940. The average age of No. 1 Squadron pilots was twenty-five years. 

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Twenty-seven Canadian pilots [one American F/O Brown] in No. 1 Squadron will fly Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain, original copy of No. 1 Squadron [Renumbered No. 401 Squadron 1 March 1941] list follows. 

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No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron photo taken 5 July 1940, arrival at Croydon, England.

Top row left to right – F/O R. Smither #C1594, F/O Thomas B. Little #C1117, P/O Arthur M. Yuile #C1328, F/O Eric W. Beardmore #C820, P/O Dal B. Russel #C1319, F/O C.E. Briese #C1591, 

Middle row L to R – F/O B.E. Christmas #C925, Capt. Donald Rankin, Medical Officer, P/O O. J. Peterson #C900, F/Lt. Gordon R. McGregor #C936, F/O Deane A. Nesbitt #C1322, F/O S. T. Blaiklock #C1817, Intelligence Officer, F/O Hartland de M. Molson #C1226, P/O E. M. Reyno #C806, P/O J.B.J. Desloges #C788, S/L E.A. McNab #C134, F/O P.B. Pitcher #C615.

Front row L to R – F/O George G. Hyde #C948, F/O William P Sprenger #C895 [with dog mascot] and F/O J. W. Kerwin #C922. 

Missing from the photo are F/O V.B. Corbett #C299 and F/O R.L. Edwards #C903. 

On arrival at Liverpool, 15:30 hrs, 20 June 1940, these Canadian pilots were assigned to No. 11 Group Middle Wallop, Hants. and seventeen were given RAF procedure and elementary attack courses between 5 and 12 June 1940. RAF Command wanted to see how well trained these new Canadian pilots were compared to British trained pilots and the test results obtained were above average. 

In the total of seventeen Canadian pilots tested, eight were original members on No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron and were all fully qualified to fly the British Hawker Hurricane Mk. I fighters. The remaining eight pilots [marked in yellow highlight] were all auxiliary trained pilots from No. 115 Squadron at St. Hubert, Quebec, and were only qualified in Fleet Fawn trainer aircraft and American Harvard trainers. F/L Corbett had only trained 5:50 Hrs. in the Hurricane Mk. I fighter. 

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Course No. 18 contained eight [yellow highlight] ex-members of No. 115 [Auxiliary] Squadron from St. Hubert, Quebec, trained mostly in the Fleet Fawn trainer [sixteen months] and the American Harvard [five months flying time]. P/O A.M. Yuile had no Hurricane training. These Canadian course pilots scored almost the same test results as the Canadians in course No. 17, seven of whom were fully qualified to fly the modern Hawker Hurricane fighter. The four two-seater primary Fleet Fawn trainers had proved their full value in properly training the auxiliary pilots in No. 115 Squadron and now these pilots moved on converting to the Hurricane fighters assigned to No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron in England. 

No. 1 Squadron moved to RAF Croydon, Surrey 6 July to 16 August 1940, then to Northolt, Middlesex, 17 August to 10 October 1940. After the Battle of Britain, the Canadians moved to Castletown Caithness, Scotland, to regroup, a base described as a cold, wet, ‘pigsty.”

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No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron moved to No. 12 Group, Driffield, Yorkshire, from 11 February until 28 February 1941. On 1 March 1941, they were renumbered No. 401 [Fighter] Squadron based at Digby, Lincolnshire, No. 12 Group, Canadian Digby Wing.

Due to the large number of Dominion Squadrons formed in the United Kingdom under R.A.F. control, a large number of low numbered squadrons had caused confusion. No. 1 [Fighter] Squadron RAF and No. 1 [RCAF] [Fighter] Squadron were both stationed at the same base causing many air control problems. The British Air Ministry assigned the number block 400-445 to the RCAF and No. 1 became No. 401 [fighter] Squadron on 1 March 1941, with a new official badge and motto.

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The unofficial No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron badge with Motto – Semper Fidelis [Always Faithful] had been painted and used by members, however it is still unknown if this art ever appeared on Hurricane fighter aircraft. 

The new No. 401 Badge featured the head of a Rocky Mountain sheep with Motto – Mors Celerrima Hostibus [Very Swift Death for the Enemy].

 

Today it is hard to believe the RCAF entered the Second World War with only sixty-three qualified flying instructors, who did not even warrant a separate organization in the Air Force. In April 1939, the RCAF began preparation for the formation of their first instructional flight at Camp Borden, Ontario, and Fleet Fawn trainers were now transferred to the new F.I.S. In July 1939, this first instructional flight was elevated to status of a school under command of F/Lt. G.P. Dunlop. In September, with war declared, the flying Instructor school expanded month by month and more and more aircraft were required for pilot training.

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Fleet Fawn #264 was transferred to RCAF Camp Borden, Flying Instructors School, arriving 2 December 1939, pilot Macallister. With the demand for more qualified instructors, and to meet future requirements, the F.I.S. relocated to RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, on 18 January 1940, and Fleet Fawn #264 found a new home. Twenty-nine Fleet Fawn aircraft flew at Flying Instructor Schools, training thousands of pilots under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and #264 flew until 3 March 1942. A new Sgt. pilot H. McFarlane was taxiing #264 at Trenton when he ran into the rear of a fuel truck and sustained Category “C” damage to the trainer. The 1938 constructed Fawn was no longer a top priority trainer aircraft and repairs were not completed until 2 December 1942. The Fawn was now reissued to No. 1 Training Command as an Instructional Airframe with serial “A198.” On 4 August 1943, the airframe record entry shows “Free Issue” to West P.S. Centre 4, that location is still unknown. [info. required]

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By 1943, the Fleet Fawn primary trainer aircraft were no longer useful and thirty-two were kept around as squadron instructional airframes, until they were flown to Surplus Equipment Holding units. Fawn #264 was sent to No. 3 S.E.H.U. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, on 24 September 1945. It was turned over to War Assets on 19 September 1947, sold to Ernie Oakman, Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan, and donated to Nanton Museum in 1990. In the following years the volunteers at Nanton, Alberta, [today the Bomber Command Museum of Canada] restored Fawn 264 back to almost flying condition, however it will never take to the skies again, it is too valuable. In 1998, the complete aircraft was reskinned and a rebuilt Kinner engine was installed in 2007. 

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During the restoration years of the Fleet Fawn, the author was a card carrying member of the Nanton Museum and followed the rebuild progress. After the reskinning of this trainer aircraft, the original skin was in very poor condition and only selected sections such as the RCAF roundels and fuselage original skin were saved. It was discovered the inside Fawn skin taken from the twin cockpit area contained many signatures, RCAF service numbers and date each WWII aircrew member had trained in Fawn #264. It was suggested this would make a perfect display and research project, however being a Bomber Command Museum, it fell on deaf ears. At this date, [2021] I have no idea if the Fawn original skin with signatures will ever be displayed or even still survives. The original skins thrown in the garbage were saved by the author [Special thanks to past curator Bob Evans] and over the past twenty plus years many have been restored and used to preserve WWII RCAF replica nose art paintings. 

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This is the original starboard side of Fleet Fawn #264 tail RCAF tri-color markings painted in 1938. This was recovered from the garbage in Nanton, Alberta, [1998] in three sections, missing a five-inch strip from the centre section. Restored by the author, it contains 80% of the original fabric and paint from Fawn #264, plus the original RCAF Instruction Airframe serial #A198, applied in December 1942. This was painted to preserve and honor the pilots and aircrew from No. 115 [Auxiliary] Squadron, St. Hubert, Quebec, [Montreal] who trained in this forgotten Fleet Fawn during 1938 and 1939.

 

No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron Canadians in Battle of Britain

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  1. F/O E.W. B. Beardmore [Montreal, Quebec] trained 164:20 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, damaged one Bf 109 5 October 1940, wounded 18 September 1940.
  2. F/O C.E. Briese [Rosetown, Saskatchewan] trained 55:15 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, no kills.
  3. F/O E. de P, Brown [Coronado, California] trained 56:20 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, damaged one Bf 109 30 September 1940 and destroyed one Do 215 on 27 September 1940.
  4. P/O J.A. Chevrier [St. Lambert, Quebec] no kills. Killed Mont Joli, Quebec, 6 July 1942.
  5. F/O B.E. Christmas [St. Hilaire, Quebec] trained 49:55 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, destroyed Bf 109, 31 August 1940, damaged Do 215, 1 September 1940, damaged He 111, 11 September 1940 and destroyed Bf 109, 5 October 1940.
  6. F/Lt. V.B. Corbett [Westmount, Quebec] trained 239:15 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, damaged one Do 17, 26 August 1940. Killed 20 February 1945.
  7. F/O J.P.J, Desloges [Ottawa, Ontario] trained 60:05 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, no kills, burned 31 August 1940, killed 8 May 1944.
  8. F/O R.L. Edwards [Cobourg, Ontario] trained 50:45 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, destroyed one Do 17 26 August 1940, killed same date.
  9. F/O F.W. Hillock [Toronto, Ontario] no kills.
  10. F/O G.G. Hyde [Westmount, Quebec] trained 191:15 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, no kills, wounded 31 August 1940, killed 17 May 1941.
  11. F/O J.W. Kerwin [Toronto, Ontario] trained 45:55 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215 destroyed 31 August 1940, one Bf 109 destroyed 1 September 1940 and one Do215 damaged 1 September 1940. Killed 16 July 1942.
  12. F/O T.B. Little [Montreal, Quebec] trained 44:15 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215, damaged 26 August 1940, one Bf 109, destroyed 31 August 1940, one Do 215, damaged 1 September 1940. Killed 27 August 1941.
  13. F/O P.W. Lochnan [Ottawa, Ontario] two Bf 109s damaged 9 September 1940, one Do 215, damaged 14 September 1940, shared kill of He 111, 15 September 1940, shared half kill of Bf 110, 27 September 1940, one Bf109, damaged 5 October 1940, and one Bf 109, destroyed 7 October 1940.  Killed 21 May 1941.
  14. F/Lt. G.R. McGregor [Montreal, Quebec] trained 109:15 Hrs, in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215, destroyed 26 August 1940, one Do 215, probably destroyed, one Do 215, damaged 1 September 1940. One Me 110 damaged 4 September 1940, one He 111, destroyed 11 September 1940, one He 111 probably destroyed 15 September 1940, one Ju 88 probably destroyed and one Bf 109 damaged 27 September 1940, one Bf 109, destroyed 30 September 1940, and one Bf 109, destroyed 5 October 1940. Died 1971.
  15. S/L E.A. McNab [Rosthern, Saskatchewan] one Do 215, destroyed 15 August 1940, one Do 215, destroyed 26 August 1940, one Bf 109, probably destroyed 7 September 1940, one Bf 109, damaged 9 September 1940, one He 111 shared kill and one Bf 110 damaged 11 September 1940. One He 111 destroyed and one He 111 damaged 15 September 1940, one Bf 110, destroyed and one Ju 88, destroyed 27 September 1940. 
  16. F/O W.B M. Millar [Penticton, B.C.] no kills, wounded 9 September 1940.
  17. F/O H. de M. Molson [Montreal, Quebec] trained 50:55 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215, damaged 26 August 1940, two Bf 110 damaged 4 September 1940, one He 111, destroyed 11 September 1940.
  18. F/O A.D. Nesbitt [Westmount, Quebec] trained 56:25 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215, damaged 26 August 1940, one Bf 110 destroyed 4 September 1940, one Bf 109 destroyed 15 September 1940. Wounded 15 September 1940. Won DFC.
  19. F/O R.W. Norris [Saskatoon, Saskatchewan] one Bf109 probably destroyed 15 September 1940, one Bf 110, damaged 27 September 1940.
  20. F/O O.J.Peterson [Halifax, Nova Scotia] trained 56:55 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215, damaged 1 September 1940, one Bf 110m damaged 4 September 1940, one Bf 109, destroyed 9 September 1940, one Bf 109, probable destroyed and one Bf 109 damaged on 18 September 1940, half kill shared Do 215, 25 September 1940. Killed 29 September 1940.
  21. F/O J.D. Pattison [Toronto, Ontario] no kills, won DFC.
  22. P/O P. B. Pitcher [Montreal, Quebec] trained 89:05 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one He 111, damaged 15 September 1940, one Do 215, damaged 27 September 1940, and one Bf 109 destroyed and one Bf 110, damaged 5 October 1940.
  23. F/L E. M. Reyno [Halifax, Nova Scotia] trained 38:00 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215, shared kill on 1 September 1940.
  24. F/O B.D. Russel [Toronto, Ontario] trained 45:35 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Do 215, damaged 31 August 1940, one Bf 110, probably destroyed and one Ju 88 damaged on 4 September 1940. One He 111, probably destroyed on 15 September 1940, shared kill Do 215, 25 September 1940, one Bf 109, destroyed one Bf 110 destroyed and one Do 215, damaged on 27 September 1940.
  25. F/O R. Smither [London, Ontario] trained 58:55 hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one Bf 109 damaged 31 August 1940, one Bf 110, destroyed and one Bf 110, damaged on 4 September 1940. Killed 15 September 1940.
  26. F/O W.P. Sprenger [Montreal, Quebec] trained 71:05 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, no kills. Shot down 31 August 1940, killed 26 November 1940.
  27. F/O C.W. Trevena [Regina, Saskatchewan] no kills, discharged medical grounds October 1943. 
  28. F/O A. Yuile [Montreal, Quebec] trained 43:55 Hrs. in Fleet Fawn, one He 111, destroyed 11 September 1940, one Do 215, damaged 27 September 1940.

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Four members of No. 115 [Auxiliary] Squadron flew during the Battle of Britain, flying Hawker Hurricane fighters with No. 1 [RCAF] Fighter Squadron. These four pilots were killed in action in United Kingdom, and two trained in Fleet Fawn #264 at St. Hubert, Quebec, 1938-39.

F/Lt. V. B. Corbett, Westmount, Quebec, killed 20 February 1945.

F/O W. P. Sprenger, Montreal, Quebec, killed 26 November 1940.

Canadian Bush pilot Ralph MacLaren Christie

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Excerpt

With the passing of the Canadian War Exchange Act on 6 December 1940, many ‘non-essential’ goods were banned from being imported into Canada. American comic books were declared non-essential and banned from import, which created new Canadian comic book publishers featuring Canadian heroes. The Canadian comics lacked color and were called Canadian “whites” as only the front and back covers were printed in color. Over twenty million would be printed by 1945, and while all retained a theme based on patriotic Canadian war attitudes, very few were based on true Canadian war heroes in WWII. 

When the United States of America entered WWII on 8 December 1941, many new “True War” comic magazines were created publishing the heroes from around the world. The following RCAF hero comic appeared in True Aviation, Picture Stories No. 6, dated December 1943, “Canadian Bush Pilot.” Most of these American Aviation comics were never sold or read in Canada until the internet came along. 

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PDF file below.

Ralph MacLaren Christie

Text version without images. Images will be inserted later.

Canadian Bush pilot Ralph MacLaren Christie

With the passing of the Canadian War Exchange Act on 6 December 1940, many ‘non-essential’ goods were banned from being imported into Canada. American comic books were declared non-essential and banned from import, which created new Canadian comic book publishers featuring Canadian heroes. The Canadian comics lacked color and were called Canadian “whites” as only the front and back covers were printed in color. Over twenty million would be printed by 1945, and while all retained a theme based on patriotic Canadian war attitudes, very few were based on true Canadian war heroes in WWII. 

When the United States of America entered WWII on 8 December 1941, many new “True War” comic magazines were created publishing the heroes from around the world. The following RCAF hero comic appeared in True Aviation, Picture Stories No. 6, dated December 1943, “Canadian Bush Pilot.” Most of these American Aviation comics were never sold or read in Canada until the internet came along. 

image 1

Ralph MacLaren Christie was born at L’Original, Ontario, on 15 February 1919, located 55 miles [88 k/m] east of Ottawa, Canada. His birth town was French named meaning “Moose Point”, a location on the Ottawa River, which Canadian Moose used for crossing back and forth into Quebec. In his youth, the family moved to North Bay, Ontario, where he was educated and graduated from High School. His first job was an employee at the Royal Bank of Canada in North Bay, and his spare time and money were taken up by learning to fly. Ralph soon received his commercial flying licence and obtained a bush pilot job with Northern Flying Service based in Ottawa, where after eighteen months flying he had over 1,300 hours in his log book. In 1935, more freight was being moved by air in Canada than in all the rest of the world combined. Bush flying greatly expanded during the development of iron ore reserves in Northern Ontario and Quebec. Ralph was one of the gallant new bush pilots who carried men, mining machinery, food, and even live cows into isolated mining camps, exposed at a young age to the lure of his adventurous vocation. He flew on the water in summer months and on the ice in winter with no instruments to guide him over the many mining camps in Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba. This Canadian bush flying by the seat of his pants would save his life during combat operations over Holland in 1942.

Canada declared war on Germany 10 September 1939, and Ralph enlisted in the RCAF on 9 October 1939, and thanks to his flying experience was appointed an early commission in the Air Force. Arrived at Central Flying School, Trenton, Ontario, 12 December 1939, graduated 8 January 1940. To Camp Borden, 23 January 1940, posted to No. 4 [B.R.] Squadron Vancouver, B.C., 25 March 1940. Posted to No. 6 [B.R.] Squadron 10 June 1940. Returned to Trenton Central Flying School for Flying Instructor training course 23 November 1940 to 18 January 1941. 

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During his F.I. course he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and moved on to No. 5 S.F.T.S. at Brampton, Ontario, 19 January 1941. When he graduated as a fully qualified Flying Instructor on 15 April 1941, he had flown over 100 hrs. instructing, and his total flying time was 145 hrs. single-engine solo, 43 hrs. single-engine dual, 140 hrs. twin-engine solo, and 18 hrs. twin-engine dual. Arrived No. 1 “Y” Depot Halifax, Nova Scotia, 12 February 1942, sailed for England, arriving five days later. Posted to No. 1 [Coastal] Operational Training Unit at RAF Silloth, ten miles S-W of Kirkbride, Cumbria, England. Below is free domain air-photo of RAF Silloth taken in 1943, looking North-West to the Irish Sea. RAF Silloth was #82 on the Airfield map in WWII.

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RCAF photo Mikan #4315394, taken at RAF Silloth in 1940, two ground crew are RCAF members. RAF Hudson Mk. III serial N7388 belly-landed on 9 July 1940. From 16 March to 5 April 1942, F/L Christie trained at RAF Silloth in RAF Hudson Mk. III aircraft, fired 350 rounds air-to-ground, dropped 32 bombs, flew 6:20 hrs. day dual, 5:15 hrs. day as pilot, 6:05 hrs day second pilot, 55 minutes’ night dual, 45 minutes as first pilot, and one hour as second pilot. On 5 April 1942, an RAF Group Captain Commanding RAF Silloth wrote – “An officer with above average ability as a pilot: he handles Hudson aircraft very satisfactory.”

 

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Posted to RCAF No. 407 [Coastal] “Demon” Squadron, RAF No. 16 Group, Coastal Command, located at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, on 8 April 1942.

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The flying qualifications of F/Lt. Christie were included in the No. 407 Squadron Daily Diary. F/L Christie was promoted to Squadron Leader on orders dated 15 May 1942, the same date he would first lead twelve RCAF Demon Hudson aircraft on a German shipping attack over the Dutch Coast. Eight RAF Hudson aircraft from No. 320 [Dutch] squadron would also join the Canadian coastal raid over their Nazi controlled homeland.

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RCAF photo of No. 407 [Demon] Squadron in flight, from Chris Charland. The twelve Hudson Mk. V aircraft of No. 407 Squadron and the eight from No. 320 [Dutch] Squadron took off at 20:20 hrs, in two formations, the first ten Demons led by F/Lt. Christie. The second formation of two Demon aircraft and eight Dutch Hudson bombers were led by P/O Kay in Hudson “O” serial AM906. Hudson “V” serial AM701 piloted by Sgt. Santy had one engine pack it in and his crew had to abort and return to base. RCAF photo Hudson RR-G from Chris Charland.

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F/Lt. Christie explains his trip back to home base. “The experience I had in Northern Ontario really paid big dividends that night. I don’t know how I would have gotten that aircraft back if it hadn’t been for all the things I learned the hard way bush flying up north.”  When he joined the RCAF Christie had 1,300 hours of flying ‘by the seat of his pants’ over lakes, forest, muskegs, and finding the tangled mining camps in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba. 

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“The wings, fuselage and tail were all peppered by flak and some of the controls were shot away. My navigator was wounded and my instruments were useless but somehow we made it to the coast and sighted an RAF Base [Docking] where I came in and did a belly landing at terrific speed and we seemed to skid along the ground forever.” 

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At 00:39 hrs. 16 May 1942, F/Lt. Ralph MacLaren Christie C1278 crash landed his heavily damaged Lockheed Hudson Mk. V, serial AM626, bomber at RAF Station Docking, [#24 on map] just a few miles from his home base located at Bircham Newton #22 on map.  A second Hudson “O” serial AM906 had a wounded pilot P/O Kay, and a dead observer, P/O Kippen. They had followed the flight of Ralph Christie across the North Sea and also crash landed at RAF Docking. Four Hudson crews returned safely to No. 407 Squadron base at Bircham Newton, one aborted the operation, four aircraft are missing and one crash landed at RAF Coningsby killing the five aircrew.

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Twelve Lockheed Hudson Mk. V RCAF bombers attacked the German convoy and only four intact aircraft returned to base.  Explained in the words of F/Lt. Christie: “We fly at zero feet – by that I mean just over the wave tops. The reason for this is it makes it more difficult for the ship we are attacking, to bring its guns to bear on us. It also offers protection to some degree against enemy German fighters, as they don’t like to dive so close to the sea in order to attack our aircraft successfully. This particular night it was not a long flight until we were in enemy waters. Then everybody was on qui trying to spot the enemy convoy of ships. It was dusk and the light was fading when we went in to attack just off the Dutch coastline. It was a very important convoy well protected by armed ships and destroyers. All hell broke loose as we swept in to deliver our attack. There was a veritable screen of fire coming up from the German ships escorting the convoy. I saw one of our Hudson aircraft hit fully and then crash into the sea. The aircraft in front of me was hit, the aircraft sort of shuddered, picked up speed and got through the fire. I learned later the first burst of flak had peppered up through the floor of the bomber, wounding pilot Frank Kay from Montreal, Quebec. He continued on and managed to drop his bombs almost at deck level. There was no doubt he scored a direct hit. This all happened in seconds, and by this time, I was on my way into the large ship I had selected for my attack. I don’t mind admitting I was scared and scared plenty, but we didn’t have much time to think of what was going to happen to us. I gave the engines full throttle, pulled up to mast height and when we were directly over the deck, I let my bombs go. We were credited with direct hits and destruction of the largest ship in the German convoy.”

Squadron Leader Ralph M. Christie became the first RCAF flyer in WWII to be awarded the Distinguished Service Order, effective 30 May 1942, per London Gazette 16 June 1942, AFRO 880-881/42. 

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In 1943, S/L Christie was honoured in a Men of Valor RCAF poster by Hubert Rogers. Original painting stored in Canadian War Museum collection in Ottawa.

S/L Christie had completed 208 hrs, flying Lockheed Hudson bombers on low level anti-shipping and offensive patrols. Posted to No. 4 O.T.U. at RAF Station Stranraer on 10 June 1942, where he completed seven weeks of Flying Boat training. Posted to RCAF No. 423 [General Reconnaissance] Squadron on 18 August 1942, where he flew 254 hrs. in Short Sunderland Mk. III flying boats until posted to RCAF Overseas Headquarters on 2 November 1942. 

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Repatriated back to Canada 11 December 1942, thirty days leave, posted to Composite Training School on 10 January 1943, for administration course. Posted to No. 12 Operational Training Group, Eastern Air Command, 14 February 1943. To No. 2 Group Headquarters, Victoria, B.C. 8 March 1943. To Western Air Command H.Q. 20 July 1943, then promoted to Wing Commander 15 August 1943. Attended War Staff College in Toronto, January to March 1944. To No. 8 A.O.S. Vancouver, B.C. 12 March 1944. To RCAF H.Q. Ottawa, 15 July 1944. To No. 8 A.O.S., Ancienne Lorette, 22 December 1944. To Eastern Air Command, 15 April 1945. RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, 20 April to 2 July 1945, RCAF Station Sydney, Nova Scotia, 25 August to 3 November 1945. To RCAF release Centre, 19 December 1945, released on 20 December 1945. 

Married hometown North Bay girlfriend Helen M. Angus, wearing the same uniform he wore when King George presented him with his coveted award. Died in Oliver, B.C., 17 September 1986.  W/C Ralph MacLaren Christie was the real Canadian bush-pilot “Captains of the Clouds.”