Doug Davidge remembers his uncle Rod Davidge

source Internet

Doug wrote back about his uncle Rod…

Unfortunately Rod is no longer with us so he can’t tell his own story. That said, if you browse the links below, you will find courtesy of others, he will always have a profile on the Internet (see links below).

In regards to his career as a fighter pilot during WWII, he and another young man from Edson, AB (William “Bill” Switzer) both enlisted at about the same time…both achieved their wings and were both assigned to RAF 193 about the time they received their first Hawker Typhoons.

Both men had many adventures flying Typhoons most of which was a bit hair raising to say the least. Like so many other Tiffie pilots, the risk to life and limb was always present. They lost many good pilots. Rod was hit twice by flak but landed safely…dead stick, one wheels down, one wheels up. He had many other close calls. Bill Switzer was hit on a few occasions and on his last mission he had to bail from a burning aircraft. In the process, he broke his leg, suffer burns but somehow managed to get out in time for his parachute to open. He soon found himself along the front lines and had to take cover for a couple of days…crawling the whole time. He eventually had to find water and in doing so was taken prisoner by German infantry. Their commanding officer was crucial in keeping him alive. Not long after, though, the German squad got into a fire fight with American troops and Bill was able to steal away into hiding. Before his ordeal was over, he had to avoid a tank battle, bush fires, but was eventually picked up by US troops who found him in pretty bad shape. Once they figured out he was RAF (and not a German pilot), the got him to medical aid. He was eventually moved to England to recover. About the same time, my Uncle Rod was finally removed from active service with 193 (132 combat missions, mental fatigue) and was shipped to England to recover. Both men made it back to Canada by Christmas, 1944.

Doug Davidge

Links to Rod’s story

http://www.amnesta.net/other/index_davidge.html

http://www.thetyphoonproject.org/raf/RAF-193-Davidge.html

http://www.rafharrowbeer.co.uk/193_Sqdn.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py8wTFPlP1s

Another fellow from Edson also ended up in Typhoons:

http://flyingforyourlife.com/pilots/ww2/l/laurence/

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Update – “Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389

Comment made on February 22, 2019

I enjoyed very much reading this. Great work! I do have some details of Hawker Hurricane 5588 that is mentioned above. My Uncle (Rod Davidge, originally from Alberta), who had served overseas with the RAF 193 Typhoon Sqd. (130 missions), was eventually repatriated back to Canada late in 1944. He resumed his service with the RCAF helping out with flight training new pilots late January, 1945. He was assigned to 3 SFTS in Calgary and then later to Rivers, MB. On April 24th his flight log shows him being flown to Yorkton, SK where he picked up Hurricane 5588 and flew it to Moose Jaw, Sk. On the 25th he was to ferry 5588 to Calgary but weather interfered as he got close to Calgary. I don’t believe he had a radio in the aircraft. Low on fuel he was able to put 5588 down at a ranch/farm in the Eagle Butte area of southern Saskatchewan. He finally made it safely to Calgary on April 28th. He continued to fly 5588 during May, June and into July, 1945. His last logged flight was on July 2nd and he was scrambled after a Japanese Balloon spotted along the foothills. Although he did say he had seen one of the balloons near the US border, I don’t think he ever fired a shot at one. If interested I can provide a digital copy of his flight log for this period of my Uncle’s RCAF career.

Cheers,

Doug Davidge

Exclusive research done by Clarence Simonsen about the little History of “Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389


“Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389

By Clarence Simonsen

RCAF Hurricane 5389 was constructed by the Canadian Car and Foundry factory in Fort William, Ontario, on the western tip of Lake Superior in May 1942.

The first production Hurricane Mk. XII aircraft serial RCAF 5376 was retained at the factory in Fort William for testing and was not assigned to the RCAF until taken on strength 6 August 1943. The next 25 production new Hurricane Mk. XII [serial 5377 to 5401] aircraft were flown directly by No. 124 ferry pilots to No. 4 Training Command at Calgary, Alberta, or their Ferry Detachment at Lethbridge, Alberta, then later assigned to No. 133 [Falcon] Squadron which was formed at Lethbridge, Alberta, on 3 June 1942.

The first Air Force Ferry Squadron was formed at Air Force Headquarters, RCAF Station, Rockcliffe, [Ottawa] Ontario, on 24 December 1941, Organization Order 173, Flight Lieutenant H. O. Madden [C1407] was approved as the first Ferry Squadron Commander. On 14 February 1942, they were officially numbered No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron, formed for the purpose of inter-command ferrying of all RCAF aircraft across Canada, with detachments located in Eastern Division at Moncton, New Brunswick, Montreal, Quebec, Megantic, Quebec, Malton, [Toronto] Ontario, North Bay, Ontario, Kapuskasing, Ontario, and Western Division at Armstrong, Ontario, Regina, Saskatchewan, Lethbridge, Alberta, Cranbrook, B.C. and Penticton, B.C. The Daily Diary records the first ferry aircraft were Oxford AT533 and AS6596 delivered to R.A.F. Station Penhold, Alberta, on 4 January 1942, before they were officially numbered 124 [Ferry] Squadron.

The month of June 1942, became a busy period for No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron as new Canadian built Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII aircraft were being delivered from the factory in Fort William to new formed units in Eastern and Western Canada. The Daily Diary records the number of aircraft delivered but no aircraft individual serial number is recorded. The No. 124 squadron ferry pilot who delivered Hurricane 5389 is not known, however this fighter was taken on charge by RCAF on 23 June 1942, and assigned to No. 133 [F] Squadron in the next few days.

Hurricane aircraft serial 5377 to 5382 were taken on charge by the RCAF 16 January 1942, and later in June delivered by 124 [Ferry] Squadron to No. 133 at Lethbridge, AB, which is recorded in the Daily Diary of squadron operations. Between 24 June and 30 June 1942, No. 124 Squadron will ferry 53 aircraft to allotted units and a large percentage are new Hurricane fighters, including 5389.

This RCAF photo [PL12324] which was a posed image taken at No. 133 Squadron at Lethbridge, Alberta, records two new Hurricane aircraft #5383 without code letter and #5398 [March of Dimes] with code “L” painted on fuselage. This was most likely taken around the end of July 1942, when the squadron was busy with training and painting code letters on their new Hurricane fighters.

The No. 133 Daily Diary records the following for 17 July 1942 – Hurricane “March of Dimes” aircraft No. 5398, together with No. 5395 arrived at his unit at 19:00 hrs from Fort William, Ontario.

Hurricane # 5398 was first ferried to Calgary from Fort William on 15 July 1942 and was officially taken on charge by the RCAF. This was a special presentation aircraft with the “March of Dimes” painted on both sides of the nose panel in white lettering.

Photo taken at No. 4 Training Command Headquarters, Calgary, Alberta, 15 July 1942.

 

No. 133 Squadron Commanding Officer received the new presentation fighter at Lethbridge, Alberta, 17 July 1942, newspaper clipping on left. The nose lettering reads – ‘CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANADA “MARCH OF DIMES” HELPED TO PURCHASE THE AEROPLANE.’

On 4 February 1943, No. 133 [Falcon] Squadron were based at Boundry Bay. B.C., conducting normal patrols and training exercises. P/O Grover Stewart Sargent, J11976, was assigned a night time map reading exercise [flying Hurricane 5398, “L”] to the training area at Pender Island, then west to Patricia Bay, fuel, and return to base at Boundary Bay. He never arrived at Patricia Bay and the next morning his body was recovered near Pender Island. The crash site has never been found, and the cause is unknown. The body of Pilot Officer Sargent, age 20 years, was returned to Quebec, where he was buried in Lake View Cemetery, Pointe-Claire, Quebec.

All Hurricane fighters were painted at Fort William in R.A.F. colors for period June 1940 to June 1942.

Aircraft code letters were painted on at assigned RCAF units as shown above.

This records the correct 1942 roundel markings on the Canadian Hurricane fighters that were delivered from Fort William to RCAF Home War Establishment units. Upper roundel was type “B” red and blue, under wing was type “A. II” and fuselage was type A. I, red, white, blue and matt yellow.

Hurricane RCAF 5389 was the thirteenth fighter delivered to the RCAF and taken on charge 23 June 1942 at Calgary, Alberta, delivered to Lethbridge two days later. The fighter was painted with the code letter “M” and began general pilot training on 1 July 42, where Hurricane flying time was recorded at 23:15 hrs. On 2 July 42, Wing Commander Gray arrived by air at 11:00 hrs to arrange the allotment of three No. 133 Hurricane aircraft for pilot training at No. 135 Squadron at Mossbank, Saskatchewan. On 8 July 42, RCAF Hurricane 5385, 5386 and 5389 were transferred to No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron at Mossbank, Saskatchewan for pilot training. They arrived at Mossbank the next day, recorded in Diary. Pilots were S/L Brookes, P/O Sargent, [killed 4 February 1943, March of Dimes] and F/Sgt. Shavalier.

[It is recorded in the No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron Daily Diary that all pilots had been fully trained and soloed in the Hurricane fighter aircraft by 17 July 1942. It should also be recorded that Hurricane 5389 trained many of the first RCAF fighter pilots in No. 135 ‘Bulldog’ Squadron].
It is most likely Hurrican

e 5389 received a new 135 squadron code letter, and possibly even the nose art of the 135 “Bulldog” appeared on her engine covering for a few weeks.

No. 135 pilot George Lawson in front of Hurricane “U”, at Mossbank, Sask., 13 July 1942, which could possibly be one of the loaned fighters, 5386, 5385 or [Calgary] 5389, with Bulldog nose art.

On 26 July 1942, Hurricane 5385 and 5389 are returned to No. 133 Squadron from Mossbank, Sask. RCAF Hurricane 5386 returns to Lethbridge on 31 July 42.

27 July 1942, Mr. E. J. Sousby, General Manager of Canadian Car and Foundry Co. arrives for a special meeting to discuss the new Hurricane aircraft. The following day all Hurricane Mk. XII aircraft are being tested by the flying instructors for a detailed report on their general condition, which will be sent to the Fort William factory.

On 31 July 1942, Officer Commanding No. 133 Squadron, S/Leader W. T. Brooks, reports 24 Hurricane and 6 Harvard aircraft on strength, only 9 Hurricane fighters are serviceable. 28 August 1942, at 15:20 hrs. Hurricane 5380 makes a crash landing on aerodrome and is a total loss. F/Sgt. Pilot E. B. Monypenny R108600 is suspended from further flying. This is the first Hurricane lost and not taken off charge until 11 February 1943. On 12 May 1943, F/Sgt. Monypenny lost control of Hurricane 5383 at 1,500 ft over base, crashed and was killed.

Pilot Eric Burk Monypenny

On 31 August 1942, No. 133 Squadron has 13 officers and 199 airmen on strength, 23 Hurricane aircraft and 6 Harvard trainers. Total Hurricane flying training time for the month is 30:55 hrs day and 7:30 hrs night. 15 September 1942, Captain D. M. Howard, Chief Test Pilot, Canadian Boeing Aircraft, Co. arrives to test all of the squadron Hurricane aircraft.

23 September 1942, S/L Brooks advises the Squadron they will be moving to Boundary Bay, B. C. in October. The advance party depart by rail for Boundary Bay on 30 September 1942. At 17:00 hrs that same day, [30 Sept.] No. 135 squadron [Bulldogs] arrive for fuel with 19 Hurricane aircraft on their southern route to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. The “Bulldogs” will become the first RCAF Fighter Squadron to fly from Lethbridge, Alberta, to Spokane, Washington, Yakima, Washington, and then to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C., No. 133 Squadron will follow this same route on 5 October 1942.

No. 133 [Falcon] Squadron patrolled the Canadian section [orange] however, unknown to many Americans, they also patrolled and were even stationed from Bellingham to Tacoma, Washington, [yellow]. This is covered in detail with Daily Diary records in chapter on pilot Gordon Hill.

Secret orders – 8 December 1942- Daily Diary

October 4th, ground personnel consisting of 135 Airmen and Officers, departed from Lethbridge at 23:59 hrs by special C.P.R. train, under supervision of flying Officer Thompson. October 5th, 16 Hurricane and 4 Harvard aircraft, under the supervision of Squadron Leader W. T. Brooks, depart from Lethbridge at 07:20 hrs via Spokane [fuel] and Yakima [fuel-image below], arriving Boundary Bay at 16:00 hrs same day.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States government moved quickly to organize, purchase, or lease local airports to be used as Military training airfields. In the State of Washington, 17 municipal and local civilian airports would be used as military airfields, with new expanded runways, new constructed hangars, and many other improvements. Most of these airfields had been constructed in the 1930’s depression era with funds provided by the United States Works Progress Administration and the Public Work Administration. Three of these airfields became the main Hurricane aircraft ferry route from Alberta to the West Coastal RCAF Stations which were being constructed in 1941-1942.

Felts Field, Spokane, was constructed in 1927, home to the Air National Guard/116th Observation Squadron. It was named in honor of pilot Buell Felts, killed 30 May 1927. During WWII the airfield served as a Civilian Pilots Training Program and provided the USAAF with thousands of pilots. It also became the first ferry fuel stop for RCAF aircraft [No. 135 Bulldogs and No. 133 Falcon] leaving Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, for Sea Island and boundary Bay, B.C.

McAllister Flying School, Yakima, Washington was cleared of sagebrush in 1926 by Charles McAllister and the first building was completed in 1928, which still survives today. Above is the Yakima Air Terminal in 1940, the same sight the Hurricane pilots of No. 133 Squadron saw on 5 October 1942. This became the second important ferry flight fuel stop for RCAF aircraft, and during WWII the base was part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program.

Bellingham Army Airfield was constructed in 1936, the runway was paved in 1940, and it officially opened on 7 December 1941, the same day the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor. On 10 December 1941, the U. S. Army moved in and constructed 38 new hangars and buildings, expanded and constructed two more runways, making a major facility for bombers and fighter aircraft. This became the main American base for the protection and defending of Puget Sound area, shared by No. 133 Squadron of the RCAF north at Boundary Bay, B. C. The Daily Operations Record for No. 133 Squadron record many flights in and out of Bellingham Army Airfield, including that of Hurricane fighter 5389.

On 5 October 1942, this Army Airfield provided an emergency stop over for the ferry flight of No. 133 Squadron 16 Hurricane fighters and 4 Harvard trainer aircraft. No RCAF ferry aircraft were required to land at Bellingham Army Airfield. On landing [Boundary Bay] Hurricane 5399, pilot F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie, makes a hard landing [the runways are still under construction] and the aircraft is damaged as Cat. “C” crash.

Two of the squadron Hurricane 5391 and 5392 were left at Lethbridge as they required new Merlin engines, which were being shipped from Fort William. October 12th, Wing Commander Gray and Flight Lt. Assheton arrived at Boundary Bay at 17:25 hrs in Hurricane 5391 and 5392.

The Squadron diary notes –

Housing condition was very poor and inadequate. The Senior NCO’s and airmen were placed in various uncomfortable sections of the station. Civilian construction personnel occupying 2 H-huts and Airmen’s Mess. One hangar is remodeled and at once lectures, physical training and organized sports are started while ground crews attempt their normal duties. The Squadron consists of 29 pilots, 27 trained for overseas duty, 17 Hurricane aircraft and 2 Harvard ready for instrument training. Due to the fact the runways are still under construction no hours of actual flight training are allowed.

The No. 133 Squadron Operations Record [below] states – NOTE –

We submit a “Nil Report” for this period, Oct. 1st to Oct. 26th, 1942, inclusive as the runways at this station are under construction.

The first Hurricane to officially take to the air at Boundary Bay, B.C. was recorded as Hurricane 5389, pilot F/O F. H. Sproule, Practice Scramble, 11:00 to 11:20 hrs, 27 October 1942 [20 minutes].

1 November 1942, strength of unit is :

RCAF Officers [Aircrew] 7,

Ground Crew Officers 2,

Airmen Aircrew 18 and Ground crew 173.

RAF Officers – 4.

Aircraft service ability

Hurricane 12,

Harvard 2.

Duties – Local flying of Sector Reconnaissance, Hurricane Scrambles, and Instrument flying in Harvard aircraft. Each month, five qualified fighter pilots will be posted overseas and replaced by five new graduates from Service Flying Training Schools in Canada.

This RCAF pilot training produced new Canadian fighter pilots for mostly England and gave coastal protection for Canadian Home War Establishment against possible Japanese attack. Only 14 flights had taken place in the month of October and now November would prove to be the break-in period for No. 133 [F] Squadron RCAF.

The total number of flights, date, and pilot name, are now listed for RCAF Hurricane [Calgary] 5389.

November 1942

Hurricane 5389 will make 17 flights in the month of November, which totals 13:25 hrs.

1 November 1942 Sgt. Millar G. G. 9:20 to 10:20 hrs Sector Reconnaissance
1 November 1942 F/Sgt. Curtis W. S. 10:35 to 11:30 hrs Sector Recon.
7 November 1942 P/O D. C. Laubman 15:40 to 16:45 hrs Formation Training
8 November 1942 F/Sgt. Tomlinson C. J 09:40 to 10:40 hrs Formation Training
8 November 1942 P/O D. C. Laubman 15:40 to 1645 hrs Formation Training
10 November 1942 F/Sgt. Walton N. R. 11:10 to 12:10 hrs Practice Scramble
13 November 1942 F/Sgt. McGowan J. G. 10:50 to 11:35 hrs Formation Flying
13 November 1942 Sgt. Costello G. A. 10:20 to 11:20 hrs Formation Flying
15 November 1942 Sgt. Monypenny E. B. 10:55 to 11:55 hrs Formation Flying
18 November 1942 P/O L. R. Brooks 15:10 to 15:40 hrs Scramble
19 November 1942 F/O F. H. Sproule 12:00 to 12:15 hrs Scramble
23 November 1942 Sgt. Young F. B. 13:25 to 13:40 hrs Scramble
24 November 1942 Sgt. Costello G. A. 11:30 to 12:20 hrs Scramble
24 November 1942 F/O R. M. Tracy 15:15 to 15:30 hrs Aircraft Test
27 November 1942 P/O L. R. Allman 16:15 to 17:05 hrs Air Test
28 November 1942 F/Sgt. Walton N. R. 09:35 to 10:35 hrs Squadron drill
28 November 1942 F/ Sgt. R. F. Gainforth 14:00 to 14:40 hrs Squadron Drill

December 1942

1 December 1942, 17 Hurricanes on strength and 5389 will make 13 flights.
1 December 1942 P/O L.R. Allman
1 December 1942 F/Sgt. McGowan J. G.
13 December 1942 P/O L. R. Allman
13 December 1942 P/O G. S. Sargent
14 December 1942 P/O G. S. Sargent
20 December 1942 F/Sgt. Shavalier R.
22 December 1942 F/Sgt. Le Gear F. S.
23 December 1942 P/O D. C. Laubman
30 December 1942 F/Sgt. Law R. R.
30 December 1942 Sgt. Dalsell D. J.
30 December 1942 F/O R. N. Gull
31 December 1942 F/O F. H. Sproule
31 December 1942 Sgt. Gaskin R. A.

January 1943

1 January 1943, 15 Hurricanes on strength and 5389 will make 11 flights.
3 January 1943 Sgt. Young F. B.
4 January 1943 F/Lt. R. W. Mc Nair [DFC] local formation flying.
7 January 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
7 January 1943 F/O G. S. Sargent
11 January 1943 S/L W. T. Breeks
14 January 1943 P/O D. C. Laubman
27 January 1943 F/Sgt. Walton N. R.
28 January 1943 Sgt. Dalzell D. J.
29 January 1943 P/O R. M. Tracy
30 January 1943 F/Sgt. Law R.R.
31 January 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth.

February 1943

1 February 1943, 17 Hurricanes on strength 5389 assigned 31 flights
2 February 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
2 February 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
3 February 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
3 February 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth

On 4 February 1943, Pilot Officer G. S. Sargent is assigned to fly Hurricane 5398, “March of Dimes” presentation fighter, on a routine map reading night-time exercise. The aircraft never arrives at Patricia Bay, and next morning a search is conducted. The body of pilot Sargent is found.

Mayne, Saturna and North and South Pinder Islands were used by No. 133 squadron for many training flights, conducted between home base at Boundary Bay and Patricia Bay, on Vancouver Island. A number of Hurricane fighters crashed into the waters around these islands, in 1943, 1944 and 1945.

 

6 February 1943 F/Sgt. A. J. Ness

11 February 1943 F/O R. N. Gull
11 February 1943 F/Sgt A J. Ness
11 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
12 February 1943 F/ Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
12 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
16 February 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
19 February 1943 F/L E. H. Treleaven
19 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
20 February 1943 Sgt. F. B. Young
20 February 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
21 February 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
21 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
22 February 1943 Sgt. Gaskin R. A.
22 February 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
22 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
23 February 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
23 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
23 February 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
25 February 1943 Sgt. F. B. Young
25 February 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
27 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
27 February 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
27 February 1943 F/Sgt J. A. Leslie
28 February 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
28 February 1943 Sgt. F. B. Young.

March 1943

1 March 1943, 17 Hurricane on strength, 5389 assigned 34 flights
2 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
3 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
5 March 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
5 March 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
7 March 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
7 March 1943 F/Sgt. A. J. Ness
7 March 1943 P/O G. G. Millar
9 March 1943 F/Sgt/ R. A. Gaskin
10 March 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
10 March 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
11 March 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
11 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
13 March 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
15 March 1943 P/O D. C. Laubman
16 March 1943 F/Sgt. W.S. Curtis
16 March 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
17 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
17 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
17 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
19 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
19 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
20 March 1943 F/Sgt. G. A. Costello
20 March 1943 F/Sgt. G. A. Costello
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
25 March 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
26 March 1943 P/O G. G. Millar
28 March 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
28 March 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
29 March 1943 F/Sgt. N. R. Walton
29 March 1943 F/Sgt. W.S. Curtis
29 March 1943 F/Sgt. E. B. Monypenny

April 1943

1 April 1943, 16 Hurricanes on strength, 5389 assigned 35 flights
1 April 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
2 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
2 April 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
3 April 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
4 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
4 April 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
4 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Grissom
5 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
5 April 1943 Sgt. E. E. Allman
6 April 1943 P/O L. R. Allman
8 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
9 April 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
10 April 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth
11 April 1943 F/Sgt. G. A. Costello
11 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
12 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
13 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
13 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
14 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
14 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
15 April 1943 F/Sgt. E. B. Monypenny
15 April 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
15 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
18 April 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
18 April 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
18 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
18 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
18 April 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
19 April 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
19 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. B. Young
19 April 1943 F/O R. W. Ferguson
19 April 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
21 April 1943 F/Sgt. E. B. Monypenny
28 April 1943 F/O D. C. Laubman
29 April 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis.

May 1943

1 May 1943, 6 Officers and 17 Airmen, 19 Hurricanes on strength, 5389 assigned 49 flights.
2 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
2 May 1943 F/Lt. J. B. McCall
2 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
2 May 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
3 May 1943 F/O D. C. Laubman
5 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. F. Gainforth
5 May 1943 F/Sgt. G. J. Tomlinson
6 May 1943 P/O R.R. Law
6 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
6 May 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
7 May 1943 F/O R. W. Ferguson
8 May 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
8 May 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. le Gear
8 May 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
9 May 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
9 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
9 May 1943 F/Lt. J. B. McCall
9 May 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
9 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
10 May 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
10 May 1943 F/Lt. J. B. Deek

On 11 May 1943, two new pilots reported to No. 133 squadron, P/O T. W. Wann and Sgt. Gordon M. Hill. The next day, 12 May, F/Sgt. Monypenny was killed flying Hurricane 5383.

Source Facebook page Boundary Bay 1941-1945 

14 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
14 May 1943 F/Sgt. L. R. Allman

15 May 1943 Sgt. Gordon M. Hill [R14282] first flight in Hurricane 5389.

Gordon M. Hill Course #65, continued his pilot training in fall of 1942, No. 13 S. F. T. S. St. Hubert, Quebec. He graduated and received his “Wings” on 22 January 1943, posted to No. 1 Operational Training Unit at Bagotville, Quebec, training Hurricane pilots. Course #8 began on 30 January 1943 and 29 pupils graduated as Hurricane pilots on 23 April 1943. Two pilots were posted to Eastern Air Command of Home War Establishment, while P/O Wann and Sgt. Hill were posted to Western Air Command, No. 133 Squadron at Boundary Bay. B.C.

Graduation photo – 22 January 1943

The full RCAF career of pilot F/O Gordon Hill will be covered in two complete chapters, with over 400 unpublished photos, and new art work.

15 May 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
16 May 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
17 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
18 May 1943 P/O T. W. Wann
18 May 1943 P/O T. W. Wann
18 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
19 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
20 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
20 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
20 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
20 May 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
23 May 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
23 May 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill
23 May 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
24 May 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
24 May 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
25 May 1943 F/Sgt. W. S. Curtis
25 May 1943 P/O J. M. Ingalls
25 May 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
26 May 1943 F/Sgt. C. J. Tomlinson
26 May 1943 F/Sgt. R. Shavalier
28 May 1943 P/O T. W. Wann
31 May 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill
31 May 1943 P/O R. R. Law
31 May 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule

June 1943

1 June 1943, 15 Hurricane on strength, 5389 assigned 47 flights.
1 June 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill
1 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
1 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
1 June 1943 F/Sgt. F. S. Le Gear
2 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
3 June 1943 F/O F. H. Sproule
4 June 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
4 June 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
5 June 1943 F/Sgt. H. F. Wakeman
5 June 1943 F/Sgt. N.F. Wakeman
5 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
6 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
6 June 1943 WO2 W. S. Curtis
6 June 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill [13:00) to 14:00 hrs – submarine search]
6 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
7 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
7 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
7 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
7 June 1943 F/Sgt. J. A. Leslie
7 June 1943 W02 W.S. Curtis
7 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
8 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
8 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
9 June 1943 P/O R. R. Law
9 June 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
9 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
10 June 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
11 June 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
12 June 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
13 June 1943 W02 R. F. Gainforth
13 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
13 June 1943 W02 R. F. Gainforth
13 June 1943 W02 R. F. Gainforth
17 June 1943 W02 F. S. LeGear
18 June 1943 F/O T. W. Wann
18 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
19 June 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
21 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
22 June 1943 Sgt. D. J. Dalsell
22 June 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
22 June 1943 F/O R. M. Tracy
23 June 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
23 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall
23 June 1943 F/O L. R. Allman
24 June 1943 W02 R. W. Ferguson
27 June 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
28 June 1943 F/L J. B. McCall

 

The last scramble at Boundry Bay, B.C. is recorded on 30 June 1943, 08:00 to 08:50 hrs when two Hurricane aircraft 5395 and 5397 complete a sea patrol. The squadron now prepare for the movement to Tofino, B.C.

Fourteen Hurricane Mk. XII fighter aircraft and two Harvard Mk. IIB aircraft fly to the new base at Tofino, B. C. Hurricane 5389 is piloted by F/O R. W. Ferguson and his flight time is 15:45 to 17:00 hrs.

July 1943

The squadron begin operations on 5 July and Hurricane 5389 will make 19 flights in the month of July 1943.

5 July 1943 W02 A. J. Ness
5 July 1943 F/O J. M. Ingalls
6 July 1943 P/O J. G. McGowan
6 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
9 July 1943 W02 W.S. Curtis
9 July 1943 W02 W. S. Curtis
9 July 1943 Sgt. G. M. Hill Formation Attack – 14:10 to 15:00 hrs.
10 July 1943 F/O V. J. Le Gear
11 July 1943 F/Sgt. J. V. Burke
11 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
11 July 1943 F/O T. W. Wann
12 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
12 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
12 July 1943 W02 J. A. Leslie
12 July 1943 W/C C. N. Greenway
13 July 1943 F/Sgt. J. V. Burke
13 July 1943 F/Sgt. R. A. Gaskin
14 July 1943 P/O R. H. Brown
14 July 1943 P/O F. D. Hague 15:05 to 16:15 hrs., – “Crashed” Cat. “B”.

 

On 22 July 1943, Hurricane 5389 is loaded onto a ship and transported to No. 13 Aeronautical Inspection District, Vancouver, B. C. [Coates Ltd.] for repairs. Hurricane 5389 remained at No. 13 A.I.D. until 15 March 1944.

In the fall of 1938, the RCAF decided to create repair units close to major aircraft companies in Canada. This allowed technically experienced civilian personnel to assist aircraft contractors and report back to the RCAF Headquarters on how repair work was being carried out as well as inspections on the quality of repair work. These new units were designated as RCAF Technical Detachments and given numbers. No. 11 T.D. – Montreal, Quebec, No. 12 T.D. – Toronto, Ontario, No. 13 T.D. – Vancouver, B. C., No. 14 T. D. – Ottawa, Ontario, No. 15 T. D. – Winnipeg, Manitoba, No. 16 T. D. – Edmonton, Alberta, and No. 17 T. D. at Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1940, these units were re-designated as RCAF Aeronautical Inspection Districts and formerly No. 13 Technical Detachment became No. 13 A.I.D. at Vancouver, B.C. also called “Coates Ltd” for the civilian company. In July 1943, a significant number of RCAF aircraft required repair work and to assist this high demand a priority system was established. The Canadian built Hurricane fighters were no longer a front line aircraft and they took a backseat to repair of other important aircraft. Hurricane 5389 would remain [parked] under repair when time permitted, at No. 13 A.I.D. Vancouver, B. C. for the next eight months.

No. 133 [Falcon] Fighter Squadron continued to fly Hurricane aircraft on West Coast air defence from Tofino, B. C., until 9 March 1944, when they were transferred to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. This became part of what many historians call the “RCAF musical chairs” when complete squadrons moved from base to base and switched aircraft from squadron to squadron.

This has caused many problems for Internet historians and fogged over the true history of Hurricane 5389. Fortunately, the wartime Daily Diaries of both No. 133 and 135 squadrons are very detailed and contain a wealth of information on what in fact took place.

On 10 March 1944, [above record Daily Diary] No. 133 Squadron ferried 17 of their original Hurricane Mk. XII fighters from Tofino, to Patricia Bay, and then to Sea Island, [Vancouver, B.C. F/O Gordon Hill flew Hurricane 5378 to Sea Island, Vancouver, B. C. These Hurricanes are now parked [Vancouver] and No. 133 Squadron will receive 18 Kittyhawk fighters, Mk. I, [11] Mk. IA, [2] and Mk. III [5] aircraft transferred from No. 163 Squadron, which will be disbanded at Patricia Bay, B. C. on 15 March 1944.

To add to this confusion, we have 16 ex-135 Hurricane fighters parked at Terrace, B.C.
No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron began to ferry their 16 Hurricane fighters [plus two Harvard trainers] from Annette Island, Alaska, [U. S. Command] to Terrace, B.C. on 17 November 1943. They flew patrols from Terrace until 29 February 1944 when they stood down until 11 March 1944, pending a move to Patricia Bay, B.C. They left their original Hurricane aircraft at Terrace, B.C. and the pilots were ferried to Patricia Bay. B. C. on 12 March 1944. No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron began moving the 16 Hurricanes fighters to Patricia Bay on 31 March 1944. The last #5579 arrived at Patricia Bay, B.C. 31 January 1945.

The No. 135 Squadron Daily Diary for 12 March 1944 records – “Arrived Vancouver, Sunday Morning at 10:00 hrs. The party split at C.N.R. Depot and 18 pilots led by S/L Smith [Sqdn. O. C.] proceeding to Sea Island to ferry Hurricane aircraft which formerly operated by No. 133 [F] Squadron. Upon arrival at Sea Island it was discovered only 15 Hurricanes were available, and three Harvard. The party under S/L Smith, piloted the Hurricanes over to Patricia Bay and arrived at 12:00 hrs.

These 15 original No. 133 Squadron Hurricane aircraft are now transferred to No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron and flown from Sea Island, [Vancouver] to Patricia Bay. B. C. on 12 March 1944. Hurricane 5394 [original No. 133 Sqn. fighter] and 5413 [original No. 135 Sqn. fighter] were not serviceable and after repairs, will join No. 135 Squadron at Patricia Bay on 22 April 1944.

Thanks to this confusion of RCAF Hurricane fighters being switched [musical chairs] from No. 133 Squadron to No. 135 Squadron, the location of Hurricane 5389 has been lost by many historians. The Daily Diary of No. 13 Aeronautical Inspection [Coates Ltd. Vancouver] contains the facts on [Calgary] Hurricane 5389.

On 15 March 1944, No. 13 Aeronautical Inspection District, [Coates Ltd. Vancouver] notify No. 133 Squadron that Hurricane 5389 has been repaired and is ready for return to their squadron. P/O R. A. Gaskin [No. 133 Sqn.] picks up Hurricane 5389 at 10:10 hrs and flies it to No. 135 Squadron in Patricia Bay, arriving at 10:40 hrs. Hurricane 5389 will become the 17th ex-No. 133 Squadron fighter aircraft to be transferred to No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron and for the second time in her career, 5389 will now fly with the ‘Bulldogs’ stationed at Patricia Bay, B. C.

Remember, Hurricane 5389 began her RCAF career training No. 135 pilots at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, from 8-26 July 1942, and now she will end her career with No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron at Patricia Bay, B.C.

 

No. 133 Squadron will fly the Curtiss Kittyhawk from mid-March 1944 to July 1945.

The No. 135 Daily Diary reports on 10 May 1944 all pilots have soloed on the new Kittyhawk fighters, with the exception of two pilots on leave. The old ex-No. 133 Squadron Hurricane fighters are only flown for airframe and engine tests, preparing them for upcoming ferry flights.
Hurricane 5389 is last flown in No. 135 Squadron on 22 May 1944, pilot P/O Hodgins B. H., 15:15 to 16:15 hrs airframe and engine testing.

The next chapter in Hurricane 5389 is about to begin, and this involves the ferrying of thousands of war surplus aircraft across Canada.

In early December 1943, the Ottawa Supervisory Board began discussing the need to expand the BCATP in Canada, beyond the 31 March 1945 termination date which had been agreed upon in 1942. In early February 1944, Harold Balfour, British Under Secretary of State for Air and Air Marshal Sir Peter Drummond, RAF Air Member for Training arrived in Ottawa for meetings with Canadian Air Minister C. G. Power. On 16 February, Power officially explained to the Canadian House of Commons the need for a cutback in BCATP aircrew training. The reduction would be forty per cent and this involved the closing of 33 aircrew training schools out of a total of eight-two currently in operation.

At the request of the British government, Canada had agreed to close the 26 RAF schools first, and this began on 14 January 1944, when No. 33 [RAF] Elementary Flying Training School at Caron, Saskatchewan was closed. No. 41 [RAF] Service Flying Training School, Weyburn, Sask., was closed on 22 January 44, followed by No. 35 [RAF] S.F.T.S. North Battleford, Sask., on 25 February 1944, then No. 37 S.F.T.S. [RAF H.Q.] at Calgary, Alberta, 10 March 1944, and so on.
By the end of November 1944, all but two British RAF Schools in Canada had closed, including 13 schools located in No. 4 and No. 2 Air Training Commands in Western Canada. With the closing of these BCATP airfields, the Canadian Government began to plan for the end of hostilities and the future plans for these abandoned military airfields.

The first priority became the huge storage of surplus military equipment, including thousands of unwanted vehicles, supplies, and ex-wartime aircraft. To move this vast amount of military aircraft to the new storage holding units a new ferry squadron of RCAF pilots was required. On 1 March 1944, No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron was formed at Winnipeg, Manitoba, using RCAF personnel from the Western Detachment of No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron. This new squadron was assigned the task of ferrying over 5,000 training and operational aircraft in Western Canada, including the old Hurricane fighters used by No. 163, No. 135, and No. 133 Squadrons in the air defense of the West Coast.

On 26 May 1944, No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron pilots arrived at No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron Patricia Bay, and ferry out the first two Hurricane aircraft, 5379 and 5425. Hurricane 5379 was an original No. 133 Squadron Hurricane fighter [16 June 1942] and 5425 was an original No. 135 Squadron fighter [18 June 1942]. Hurricane 5425 was ferried from Terrace, B. C. to Patricia Bay, B. C. on 3 October 1944.

On 27 May 44, No. 170 ferry pilots arrive at No. 135 Squadron and ferry out 5394 and 5413. Again, Hurricane 5394 is an original No. 133 Sqn. fighter [30 June 1942] and 5413 is an original No. 135 Sqn. fighter [23 July 1942]. Hurricane 5413 was ferried from Terrace, B. C. to Patricia Bay, on 31 March 1944.

On 1 June 1944, No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron have 13 Hurricane fighters on strength but not in use. These 13 fighters are all ex-No. 133 Squadron aircraft which now includes [Calgary] Hurricane 5389. On 21 June 44, No. 170 [Ferry] squadron pilots begin the movement of Hurricanes from Patricia Bay, B. C. to Yakima and Spokane, Washington, USA, to Lethbridge detachment in southern Alberta. The last flight of a Hurricane by No. 135 Squadron took place at Patricia Bay on 25 June 1944, W02 Connor J. W. flew Hurricane 5377 from 16:30 to 17:00 hrs on engine test. This became the last Hurricane to leave No. 135 Squadron for Lethbridge that same date. The exact date that Hurricane 5389 was ferried to Lethbridge, Alberta, was never recorded in the Daily Diary of No. 135 Squadron or by No. 170 [Ferry] squadron, who only recorded the number of aircraft ferried on each date. On 24 June 44, No. 170 Sqn. ferried six Hurricanes from Patricia Bay, B. C. to Lethbridge Detachment, Alberta, and I believe that was the date Hurricane 5389 arrived at Lethbridge, Alberta. It appears the Hurricane fighters remained at Lethbridge for at least five months. No. 32 SFTS [RAF] Moose Jaw, Sask., closed on 17 October 1944, and No. 4 Training Command ceased to exist on 1 December 1944, replaced by No. 2 Air Command.

On 2 December 1944, the old RAF base became No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, RCAF, Moose Jaw, Sask. The first “Forty-Two” storage aircraft arrived on 5 December 1944, and were placed into hangars. The very last RAF personnel are repatriated back to the United Kingdom on 2 January 1945. In the next few weeks No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron pilots will fly eleven Hurricane fighters for “Reserve Storage” at Moose Jaw, Sask.

One of them is 5389, today Calgary Flight Hangar Museum.

On 1 July 1944, the Canadian Government began to plan and create Surplus Equipment Holding Units at the abandoned WWII British Commonwealth Air Training Plan bases across Canada. No. 170 [Ferry] squadron which had been formed on 1 March 1944, were now responsible for the ferrying of all surplus RCAF aircraft to these vacant training bases. The RCAF had on strength 12,000 surplus aircraft, and many, like the Avro Ansons, were just set on fire and destroyed. Others, including the Hurricanes Mk. XIIs, were flown to an “Aircraft Holding Unit” where they were stored and maintained in flying condition, and could be flown out on short notice.
On 1 December 1944, a total reorganization and re-naming of the storage units took place. The name was changed to “RESERVE EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE UNITS” with a Headquarters and reserve satellite units located in the old training bases. On this date No. 4 and No. 2 [WWII] Training Commands ceased to exist and were replaced by No. 2 Air Command. On record cards, it appears that aircraft were moved, however only the Air Force Command names were changed.

No. 1 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit was established at Lethbridge, Alberta, on 15 December 1944, ex-No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School. Under its command were three Satellite Units, No. 101 at Macleod, Alberta, No. 102 at Pearce, Alberta, and No. 103 at Vulcan, Alberta.

No. 2 Reserve E. M. U. was located at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on 2 December 1944, [Ex-RAF 32 SFTS] and under it were formed four Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite Units. No. 201 at Dafoe, Sask., No. 202 at Mossbank, Sask., No. 203 at Caron, Sask., No. 204 at Assiniboia, Sask., and No. 205 at Davidson, Saskatchewan.

At least eleven Hurricane fighters were held in storage at units under command of No. 2 Reserved Equipment Maintenance Unit, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Their serial numbers appear in the Daily Diary of various units, when they were flown during some special event. They were just a group of old WWII fighters, which were outdated, ready for scrapping and of no further use to the Air Force. That all changed in early November 1944, and saved them from being scrapped. The confirmed Hurricane serial numbers are – 5377, 5389 [Calgary], 5393, 5418 [Wetaskiwin], 5414, 5424 [fake serial in England], 5447, 5584 [Ottawa], and 5588. The two unidentified Hurricane fighters are possibly – 5395 and 5478.

Beginning on 3 November 1944, and continuing until late June 1945, Japan launched between 9,000 and 10,000 incendiary balloons from their home islands. This history can be found on many websites and in numerous publications, which does not need to be repeated. The first line of defence for the RCAF became the West Coast of Canada, and this involved de Havilland F.B. Mk. 26 Mosquito fighters flown by No. 133 Squadron. The RCAF Mosquito aircraft were the only West Coast fighters to attain the speed and altitude to possibly intercept the Japanese balloons, travelling at 125 m.p.h. at over 35,000 feet.

In January 1945, a ‘secret’ second line of defence was being established by the RCAF and this involved old Hurricanes based in the Prairies, to track and possibly shoot-down the Fu-go weapons. In February 1945, Air Commodore B. F. Johnson, No. 2 Air Command, [Winnipeg] ordered a number of Hawker Hurricane fighters be removed from reserve storage at [No. 2 R.E.M.U.] Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, flown to No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, and made ready for flying Fu-go [Japanese Fire-Balloon] interception duties. Historians record the number of Hurricane fighters at five, however my research indicates six or possibly seven Hurricane aircraft were involved in these patrols for balloons. The proof is there, in Ottawa, if you take time to research it, page by page.

These Hurricane fighter serial numbers first appear recorded in the Daily Diary for No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, Manitoba, dated 2 February 1945. Hurricane 5418 arrives for a new Merlin 29 engine, from No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The fighter is stored in hangar #4, awaiting a new engine and other parts. A Merlin 29-233 engine is installed, and completed on 17 February 1945, the fighter is returned to storage at No. 2 R.E.H.U, by a pilot from 170 [Ferry] Squadron.

This rare fighter survives today in the world class aviation museum at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, today run by Alberta Culture and Community Spirit Heritage, with Byron Reynolds, AME, Honorary Curator of the Aviation Program.

Movement of Airframe and Aero Engines for month of February 1944, No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Hurricane 5418 is one of the first five fighters selected for duty in Saskatchewan. It is flown to No. 8 Repair Depot for minor engine repairs on 2 February 1945, and requires a new Merlin engine, which is installed by 17 February 1945. This Merlin 29 remains in the fighter today.
In 1986, I met Bryon Reynolds, at the then titled “Reynolds Museum Ltd” Wetaskiwin, Alberta. In 1998, I was invited, and gave two lectures on my subject of WWII aircraft nose art. On 27 December 2000, I received a phone call from Bryon, and he ask if I would paint the replica No. 135 “Bulldog” on the nose of Hurricane 5418. He knew my answer, but made it very clear, the nose art must be as close to the original as possible, and that including counting the aircraft rivets. Working with Byron was very professional and followed the same standard as that in the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C., USA.

This was the original pattern ‘nose art’ Bulldog approved by Bryon Reynolds. I spent six hours with Bryon and obtained as much history on Hurricane 5418 as I could. I was in for a big surprise, involving a rare part of unknown RCAF “Fu-go” nose art. This complete new history, with paintings, will appear next year [2018] on my Blog. Here is a small part of that story.

The Reynolds-Alberta Museum Hurricane 5418, ex-No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron, was obtained by Stan Reynolds from a Saskatchewan farmer in November 1960.

Byron Reynolds – March 2001

When Hurricane 5418 arrived at No. 4 S.F.T.S. at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on 15 June 1945, it still contained the original image of the 135 Bulldog nose art. This was over-painted and a new nose art image appeared over the section where the Bulldog had been painted. This “Beautifull Balloon” nose art was still on the Hurricane engine cowling when it arrived at Wetaskiwin in November 1960. Bryon Reynolds copied the image and my replica painting is being shown for the first time.

The only WWII RCAF “Fu-go” nose art in the world. [Complete history coming in 2018]

Yes, that is the correct spelling for Hurricane 5418 nose art, painted in June 1945.

On 22 February 1945, Hurricane 5588 arrives at No. 8 Repair Depot for modification. This is completed on 9 April, and No. 170 [Ferry] squadron fly 5588 to No. 23 E.F.T.S. at Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The Daily Diary records one Hurricane taken on charge, no pilot name, no report of balloon sightings, and no scramble of the fighter. It appears there was total censorship by the C.O. at Yorkton, Sask.

On 12 March 1945, Hurricane, 5377, 5584, [Ottawa] and 5389 [Calgary] are flown in by No. 170 [Ferry] Sqdn. pilots for modification. When these three aircraft were placed into “Reserve Storage” [No. 2 R.E.M.U.] Moose Jaw, Sask., the radio, all armour plating, and the twelve .303 Cal. Browning machine guns were removed. The modification at Winnipeg involved replacing the radio and one .303 machine gun, for shooting at the Japanese balloons. Hurricane 5389, [Calgary] is completed on 14 March 1945, and flown to No. 23 EFTS at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, joining Hurricane 5588.

On 17 March 1945, Hurricane 5393 arrives for modification [below] and leaves the same date, flown by 170 [Ferry] Squadron to No. 4 SFTS at Saskatoon, Sask.

Hurricane 5393 completes patrols with no balloon sightings, or records appearing, until 8 June 1945, at 21:55 hrs.

Hurricane 5584 arrives at Winnipeg on 12 March 1945, and departs (No. 170 [Ferry] Sqn.) 19 March 1945, for No. 32 SFTS at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. [seen with records of Hurricane 5393, 17 March 1945] Hurricane 5377, which arrived with 5584 [Ottawa] and 5389 [Calgary] was never modified or assigned to any RCAF Station. It was prepared for being inhibited, 30 May 1945, and returned to No 3 S.E.H.U at Swift Current, Sask.

5377 remained at Swift Current, Sask., where it was sold on 13 July 1946.

Hurricane 5418 arrived at No. 8 Repair Depot on 7 May 1945, for modification of radio and machine gun.

Hurricane 5418, was taken on charge at No. 4 S.F.T.S at Saskatoon, Sask. 15 June 1945 and joins 5393 in patrols. Its first action is recorded on 21 June 1945, over Climax, Sask.

Thanks to these No. 8 Repair Depot records and base RCAF Daily Diary reports, the number and location of the RCAF Hurricane “Fu-go” fighters can be confirmed. There were five original Hurricanes, which No. 2 Air Command stationed at Saskatoon, [two] Yorkton, [two] and Moose Jaw, [one] Saskatchewan, beginning on 14 March 1945 and then removed, one by one, ending on 12 July 1945.

The Government assigned the Canadian Army as the chief agency to find, and most of all transport bomb disposal experts to the crash site. This same operation is going on today, as these 1944-1945 fire balloon bombs are still being discovered, the latest at Lumby, B.C., in October 2014.

The five RCAF Hurricane fighters were given the task of shooting down the balloons, then the RCAF would transport Army experts to the site, and last, the recovered material was flown by RCAF transport to Ottawa. The Canadian Government feared the balloons were transporting biological weapons of war, and total censorship was applied. This lack of records and no newspaper reporting has affected the true research and history to present day. The use of old RCAF Daily Diary for the period has released many hidden facts.

The peak Japanese balloon-launching months were February, March, and April 1945. Only four RCAF Hurricane fighters were on patrol during these three months. #5389 on 14 March 1945, #5393 on 17 March 1945, #5584 on 19 March 1945, and #5588 on 10 April 1945. Hurricane 5418 arrived on 15 June, near the end of the patrol period. A sixth [and last] Hurricane #5447, arrived at Yorkton, Sask., on 6 June 1945, but never taken on strength, [two Hurricanes appear in Daily Diary for end of June, 5588-5389] after twenty days, 5447 was flown to No. 3 S.E.H.U. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, 26-27 June, and inhibited by 1 October 1945. Hurricane 5447, never appears in the Daily Diary and only two Hurricanes are ever shown taken on strength at Yorkton, Sask., for the month of June 1945. I believe 5447 was assigned to Moose Jaw, then during delivery the patrols were cancelled, and 5447 ended up at Yorkton, for twenty days and one photo was taken. [Photo on Vintage Wings site]

Hurricane 5447 was being ferried by P/O Ramsay of No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron, Rockcliffe, Ontario, on 4 September 1942. It had a category “A” crash one-half mile north-west of Porquis Junction, Ontario. It was salvaged and transported back to Fort William for a completed rebuild. Taken on strength RCAF No. 1 Training Command, it served with Home War Establishment at Nova Scotia from 2 October 1942 to 5 July 1943. It was sent to No. 3 Training Command for repairs and placed into storage 29 November 1944. On 4 June 1945, it was taken out of storage and flown to No. 2 Air Command at Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

There are no records of modification for Hurricane 5447 at No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, and it appears no machine gun was ever installed. No. 8 R.D. had a fleet of mobile panel trucks with mechanics who drove to RCAF Stations for minor aircraft repairs. On 24 June 1945, Winnipeg, No. 8 R.D. mobile party [five workers] did a special inspection [M.5] on Hurricane 5389 and 5447 at No. 23 E.F.T.S., Yorkton, Sask. This proves the Hurricane was at the station, but never shows up in any other records. I believe this was to prepare the two fighters for storage [inhibited], and they were next flown to No. 3 Surplus Equipment Holding Unit at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, between 12 and 18 July. No. 5447 was recorded ready for disposal on 12 July 1945, inhibited in October, with 312:40 hrs airframe flying time. Sold on 28 August 1946.

On 28 August 1946, #5447 was sold to a Regina farmer and years later re-sold to Harry Whereatt of Assiniboia, Sask. in 1988. The aircraft came with nose art name “Star Dust” and large yellow 71 painted on the original engine cowling. It was slowly being restored to flying condition by Harry until he became ill [stroke] and sold it to Vintage Wings of Canada, 23 August 2006. It is still under restoration at V.W. in Ottawa, and will appear as the famous fighter of Calgary’s Willie McKnight. Vintage Wings have many highly qualified research experts, and I’m sure the full history of #5447 will appear on their website. I am interested to see if my amateur research is at all close.

Swift Current, Saskatchewan

No. 39 Service Flying Training School. Swift Current, Saskatchewan, was a British R.A.F. school, one of 26 that operated in Canada during WWII. The last class of trainees, Course #63, began on 29 November 1943 and 55 graduated on 24 March 1944. That is the same date the British school was disbanded. On 1 April 44, a new school re-opened by the RCAF as No. 402 Aircraft Holding Unit. It was unique in RCAF history, as it was never fully established when it was disbanded at 23:59 hrs, 21 May 1944. It had a staff of six officers, 51 airmen and 42 civilians, plus temporary personnel of 103. It was formed to store and maintain RCAF surplus aircraft in flying condition, then the RCAF senior command began to restructure aircraft holding units, and it became RCAF Station, Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

On 1 May 1945, RCAF Swift Current re-opened as No. 3 Surplus Equipment Holding Unit, Swift Current. By the end of the month they had 432 aircraft in storage, including two Hurricane Mk. XII fighters. The Daily Diary for May 1945, contains only one Hurricane serial number, #5414 which had been on a Victory Loan Drive from 11 April 1945. This is an ex-135 [Bulldog] fighter which records her tire being repaired on 4 August 1945, at No. 3 S.E.H.U. 5414 was inhibited in October 1945, and sold on 20 August 1946.

From early June to 18 July 1945, eight Hurricane fighters arrive for storage and the following day [19] one more Hurricane arrives. That brings the total to 11 Hurricanes on strength. This is recorded in the Daily Diary for 31 July 1945, and they also have 205 Avro Anson trainers in storage. A good number of these will be set on fire and destroyed.

Five of these Hurricane Mk. XII fighters were ex- “Fu-go” Japanese Balloon fighters, which were taken on charge at Yorkton, Moose Jaw, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The following history was found in a number of RCAF Daily Diary records, giving a much clearer picture of what took place in after June 1945.
1. #5389 [ex-133 Sqn.] returned 26 June 1945, Inhibited 15 November 1945. Sold 20 August 1946.
2. #5393 [ex-133 Sqn.] returned 18 July 1945. Sold 20 August 1946.
3. #5418 [ex-135 Sqn.] returned 18 July 1945, flown to Air show at Winnipeg, 4 August, and returned 22 August 1945. Inhibited in October 1945. Sold 20 August 1946.
4. #5447 (No. 170 [Ferry] Sqn.) arrived 26-27 June 1945. Inhibited in October. Sold 28 August 1946.
5. #5584 [ex-163- 135] [at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, in Ottawa, today] arrived 22 August 1945, picked up by F/O Saidler, 13 June 1946, flew in Winnipeg airshow 12-13th July and then Edmonton 26 July 46. F/L Anderson was the Edmonton pilot, then the Hurricane had engine problems and could not fly. 28 July 1946, flown to Winnipeg. Never sold, saved for display and today in Ottawa, still owned by Canadian Government. Flown only 196:55 hrs.

6. #5588 [ex-163 Sqn.] arrived early June 1945. Picked up by F/O Dibnah R.H. at Swift Current, on 13 June 1946, and flown in Airshow at Winnipeg, by F/O Saidler D. 12-13 July 46. Flown in Edmonton Airshow by F/L Anderson on 26 July 65. Suffered a flat tire at Suffield, Alberta, 28 July 46. Inhibited at unknown location, and not sold until 22 October 1953.

The mystery Hurricane #5424. [Possibly flew in Manitoba]

This Hurricane 5424, was an original No. 135 [Bulldog] Squadron fighter which was stored at No. 18 Staging Unit, Terrace, B.C. on 12 March 1944. The ferrying of 15 Bulldog stored Hurricanes from Terrace to Patricia Bay, B.C. began on 31 March 44, when No. 170 [Ferry] squadron pilots departed with #5413 and #5414. They completed a second record flight for the RCAF, when they returned using the little known “Internal British Columbia Staging Route” with airfields at RCAF Vanderhoof, RCAF Quesnel, RCAF Williams Lake and the most important RCAF Dog Creek.

When No. 135 Squadron flew to join the Americans in their Alaskan Command [RCAF “Y” Wing, Annette, Alaska] on 16 August 1943, they were the first RCAF squadron to fly this interior route, which was still under construction. Now they became the first to return to Patricia Bay, using the same interior route. On 7 September 1944, Lodestar 555 delivered six 170 ferry pilots to Terrace, B.C. at 15:30 hrs. They were assigned Hurricane #5407, #5411, #5418, #5421, #5424 [above] and #5589, departing Terrace, B.C. at 18:00 hrs. The remote RCAF Station Dog Creek had just been installed with night time landing lights, due to the fact it was a most important 24-hour fueling point. [In 1944-1945, this RCAF Station saved the lives of many Canadian and American fuel-starved aircraft] Today it is gone from sight and totally forgotten. Just before midnight, 7 Sept. 1944, the six Hurricane aircraft arrived for fuel, and became the first night-time landing and take-off at RCAF Station Dog Creek. Hurricane 5424 was now flown to Patricia Bay, and next ferried back to Lethbridge, Alberta, by No. 170 Squadron, possibly in November 1944. Possibly placed into storage at No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, Moose Jaw, Sask., on 5 December 1945. Forty-two aircraft arrived on that date. I cannot find any serial record in any RCAF unit Daily Diary.

No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba, did not close until 17 February 1945. On 13 September 1944, they had on charge two Hawker Hurricane fighters and received three more on that date, total now five. No serial numbers are listed.

On the 19 September 1945, Hurricane 5424 arrives at No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, for minor repairs. It is next flown to No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, Macdonald, Manitoba, for storage.

Eight months later, spring of 1946, Hurricane #5424 is found in storage at No. 3 S.E.H.U. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where it is sold on 15 August 1946. It was later obtained by Lynn Garrison and moved to Calgary, along with Hurricane 5389. 5424 is leased, without any approval by owner Lynn Garrison, to a man in Saskatchewan, where it is secretly sold to a millionaire in U.K. It arrives in England, then it is reported ‘stolen’ to Calgary Police, and nothing can be done. It sits for five years in U.K. with no serial number, then it is registered with a false number. It is sold, and then appears with a new serial number, again false, and now the owners are attempting to flog it to anyone with over two million bucks to thrown away on a false fighter, with a false history. A pure crime of Canadian and British greed, caused by money, which can only be solved by more money. Buy it, return it to Canada, and paint it correctly as 5424.

Hurricane 5424 is the ninth confirmed WWII Canadian Mk. XII Hurricane, out of a total of eleven, which were in storage at No. 3 S.E.H.U. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, June 1945 to July-August 1946. For many years, it has been rumored this Hurricane flew patrols against the Japanese Fu-go Balloons, however this history is still a mystery. Rivers, Manitoba, had one Spitfire and one Mosquito for tracking balloons drifting that far East.

Thanks to the Japanese Fu-go Balloons, the five [original] Hurricanes assigned to shoot them down, remained protected and stored in Western Canada. That protected them from being scrapped, and three [5389, 5418 and 5447] were purchased by Saskatchewan farmers, preserving our RCAF past, and now they are found in Calgary, Wetaskiwin, and [Vintage Wings of Canada] Ottawa.

The fourth Hurricane 5584 can be found in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, sitting beside our Lancaster Mk. X which has been painted incorrectly for the past fifty years.

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Collection Pierre Lagacé 2015

Such a beautiful Canadian built Mk. XII Hurricane fighter, with almost no historical information. It flew with No. 163 Squadron, and was placed into “Reserve Storage” a number of times, available for disposal 12 July 1945. On 18 April 1946, retained by RCAF for purpose of display. To the average visitor of “our” Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, this is not a very important or interesting WWII fighter aircraft. But wait, it is most important, provided it receives the correct historical information, and they remove the British spinner from the nose.

The Ottawa Hurricane [today] is displayed with a “Canadian” manufactured spinner, which the average person has no idea about. So, visitors just think it is “British”, and that’s the point I am attempting to make.

Here is a photo which shows a first Canadian spinner, appearing in No. 133 Squadron at Tofino, B.C., March 1944.

Collection Gordon Hill

Only a few Hurricanes received this spinner, as the aircraft was obsolete by 1944, and being replaced by the Kittyhawks. The photo was taken at Tofino, B.C. before the move to Sea Island, Vancouver, on 10 March 1944. This was Hurricane #5377 [“S”] of S/L W.C. Connell, the C.O., and possibly the only one to received this Canadian spinner.

No. 163 [Army Co-operation] Squadron was formed at Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. on 1 March 1943. They flew obsolete Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft on West Coast photographic assignments, and the North American Harvard Mk. II, in close support of Army troops in ground training exercises at Camp Wainwright, Alberta. In late June 1943, the squadron was converted to fly the Hurricane Mk. XII fighter and the first two arrived on 5 July 1943. Hurricane #5584 was not only the first to arrive, it became the very first to fly on 11 July 1943, F/L Wilson. 5584 will complete 22 patrols from Sea Island, until end of July 1943, and continue patrols until 13 November 1943.

No. 163 is re-designated a Fighter Squadron on 14 October 1943, and ordered to re-equip with the modern Curtiss Kittyhawk aircraft on 28 November 1943. The last flight of 5584 is on 13 November 1943, F/Sgt. Senecal. By 19 November, the complete squadron has converted to Kittyhawk fighters. Hurricane 5584, 5586 and 5590 are now flown from Sea Island to No. 133 Squadron at Tofino, B.C., on 4 December 1943, and placed into Command Reserve. The squadron is over-strength with fighters and they remain in reserve, never flown, until 4 August 1944. Hurricane 5584 is now returned to No. 2 Training Command, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and placed into storage at an “Aircraft Holding Unit” possibly No. 401 at Swift Current, Sask.

On 1 December 1944, No. 2 Training Command becomes No. 2 Air Command, and 5584 remains in storage. In early March 1945, #5584, #5377, and 5389, are removed from storage and flown to No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, Manitoba, arriving 12 March 1945. Modification with radio and one 303 Browning machine gun is completed on Hurricane 5584 and 5389, 19 March 1945. They are now flown by No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron pilots to assigned Japanese Fu-go patrol units, and 5389 is assigned Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

On 15 March 1945, F/O W.A. Doyle, #J22160 arrives from Winnipeg, assigned No. 2 R.E.M.U. at Moose Jaw, Sask., a new Hurricane “Fu-go” fighter pilot. Hurricane 5584 arrives on 20 March 1945, and is flown to Rivers, Manitoba, by pilot Doyle on 29 March, [reason unknown] returning to Moose Jaw on 2 April 1945. RCAF Station Rivers Manitoba, had on strength one Spitfire and one Mosquito for tracking Japanese Balloons, and 5584 was possibly involved in training with these fighters.

Hurricane 5584 is air tested on 27 May by pilot Doyle. No Balloons sighted.

Hurricane 5584 is scrambled at 16:00 hrs as a “Crabapple” is sighted 5 miles south of climax, Saskatchewan. This is the first use of the RCAF code word for Japanese Balloons, “CRABAPPLE.”

On 22 August 1945, F/O Hanneson G. J47498 returns Hurricane 5584 to No. 3 S.E.H.U., RCAF, Swift Current, Sask. The fighter is inhibited in November and remains in hangar storage until June 1946.

On 8 December 1945, the RCAF form No. 2 Air Command [H.Q. “K” Composite Flight] at Winnipeg, Manitoba. Assigned aircraft are used for communication, target towing, practice flying, including Canadian “Airshow” flying. On 13 June 1946, F/L Dibnah R.H. and F/O Saidler D. arrive at No. 3 S.E.H.U. Swift Current where they pick up Hurricane 5588 and 5584, flying both back to Winnipeg. On 12-13 July, the two Hurricanes appear in a Winnipeg airshow. On 29 July, both 5588 and 5584 are test flown and head off for an airshow in Edmonton, Alberta. The airshow is held on 26 July 1946, and during an engine run-up, pilot F/O Saidler encounters problems and cannot take part in the airshow. Hurricane 5584 is returned to No 8 Repair Depot on 28 July 1946, for repairs and placed into stored reserve in Manitoba.

In 1960, the new National Aeronautical Museum in Ottawa begins looking for RCAF aircraft to preserve. Hurricane 5584 is discovered in Mountain View, Ontario, where it will soon be scrapped. It is saved and flown to RCAF Uplands, Ottawa, in August 1962, and repainted for public display. This is the most original preserved Canadian built Hurricane Mk. XII in the world, and has always remained property of the taxpayer [Government] of Canada. On 6 February 1964, it went on public display, where it remains today, wearing a British nose spinner.

Today, the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, have on display an original “Crabapple” Japanese Fu-go bottom [bomb-sand bag] section, without Balloon. Now, if they [Ottawa] could just get this WWII rare artifact together with the Canadian built Hurricane Mk. XII that hunted “Crabapples”, Wow!

Left is part of a “crabapple” recovered at Provost, Alberta, 7 February 1945, and [right] the one recovered at Minton, Saskatchewan, 12 January 1945, and now in the Canadian War Museum Ottawa.

Hurricane 5584 is powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Most visitors to the museum take for granted, it was the best engine, and it was British made. Not true, it was the best, but produced in the United States of America!

In 1939, the Canadian Government was in such a rush to support Britain, it signed a contract to produce training aircraft, and in their eagerness forgot about fighter aircraft and protection of Canada. On 9 March 1941, the Canadian Chief of the Air Staff submitted a proposal for the increased of Hurricane fighters for the Defence of Canada, in the Home War Establishment. Canada had no aero-engine industry and they suddenly realized, the American and British produced all front-line combat aircraft engines, and the real shocker was they also controlled the allocation of engines needed for the airframes built in Canada. In brief, there were chronic shortages of aircraft, aero-engines, and spare parts for the war in Europe 1940-41. Up until 7 December 1941, the British and Americans together opposed the allocation of any Canadian built fighters, with American engines, for the protection of Canada. The events in Washington, D.C., after the attack on Pearl Harbor, changed both the British and American thinking, as fighters were now needed for the protected of the West Coast of both Canada and United States.

In September 1940, the American Packard Motor Company, Detroit, Michigan, signed a multi-million-dollar contract to build the British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine for both the American and British Governments. The first American Packard original Merlin 28 was built with the designation V-1650-1 and shown to the American public on 2 August 1941. Canadian Car and Foundry Co. Ltd. also signed a contract with the British Ministry of Aircraft Production for the manufacture of Canadian Hawker Hurricanes for the R.A.F. The first Canadian built Hurricane began flying trials in January 1940, and were delivered to England in the following month. All this history can be found on many websites.

By October 1941, the Packard-built Merlin engines were in full production at Detroit, [Many on the production line were young American ladies] and the second production engine became the Merlin 29. These new engines were shipped from Detroit, to the Can. Car and Foundry plant at Fort William, Ontario, [Now-Thunder Bay] and installed in the Hurricane Mk. XII fighters. The Merlin 29 was a 1,300 h.p. engine manufactured with splined airscrew shaft, fitted with an American built Nash-Kelvinator Hamilton Standard propeller. This American propeller could not accommodate the British made Hurricane spinners, and thus ‘our’ fighters gained a special “Canadian” built-in trademark. They flew without any spinners.

Pilot F/O Gordon Hill began his Hurricane training at No. 1 Operational Training Unit, Bagotville, Quebec, Course #8, on 30 January 1943. His course was delayed by a two-day snow fall, which can be seen in this image, taken around 3 February 1943. This is what Hurricane “Y” looked like, and how Hurricane 5584 should be displayed in Ottawa. England is full of ‘their’ Hurricane fighters, with British spinners. 5584 is the best original Canadian built Hurricane fighter, but to many, a spinner confuses it with a British production aircraft. The original “Crabapple” Hurricane Mk. XII, 5418, in Reynolds Alberta Museum, is displayed correctly, with an American Packard-Rolls-Royce engine displayed beside it.


Canadian Army reports dated 28 March 1945, claim a Japanese Balloon was intercepted and shot down at Strathmore, Alberta. No verified records can be found in any RCAF unit of Station Daily Diary. Two Mitchell B-25 bombers were stationed at Suffield, Alberta, again no record can be found. Tight press censorship was applied to all newspapers, but at times the government allowed some “fake” news to leak out. On 28 May 1945, a Japanese Balloon landed intact at High River, Alberta, just south of Calgary. A reporter for the Calgary Albertan [Calgary Sun today] obtained these photos, but he could not publish until 23 June 1945, and only without revealing location, date, or time.

Fu-Go Balloons in Canada

Released in Japan, during normal winter wind conditions, the Japanese Fire Balloons took approximately 70 hours to reach the west coast of Canada. As would be expected, most balloons with positive identification landed in British Columbia, with 39 found, the last in October 2014. Once they crossed the Rocky Mountains, Alberta discovered 17, then 9 in Saskatchewan, and 5 in Manitoba. It is estimated that 1,000 balloons reached North America and combined, Canadian and American authorities only found, [or reported] 285. That means around 600 are still out there someplace.

This is a list of the positive known balloons [or parts] that were found in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, from 1 January 1945 to 15 June 45. March was clearly the month most balloons appeared over the Prairies, and when four Hurricane fighter were flying patrols.
1 January 1945 Stony Rapids, Sask.
12 January 1945 Minton, Sask.
7 February 1945 Provost, Alberta.
9 February 1945 Moose Jaw, Sask.
22 February 1945 Manyberries [Lethbridge] Alberta.
22 February 1945 Porcupine Plains, Sask.
10 March 1945 Nelson House, Manitoba.
11 March 1945 Edson, Alberta.
12 March 1945 Oxford House, Manitoba.
13 March 1945 Baril Lake, Alberta.
14 March 1945 Hay Lake, Alberta.
19 March 1945 Marie Lake, Manitoba.
20 March 1945 Fort Chipewyn, Alberta.
20 March 1945 William Lake, Manitoba.
20 March 1945 Olds, Alberta.
20 March 1945 Wimborne, Alberta.
21 March 1945 Delburne, Alberta.
21 March 1945 Camsell Portage, Sask.
23 March 1945 Athabasca, Alberta.
23 March 1945 Delburne, Alberta.
24 March 1945 Medicine Hat, Alberta.
28 March 1945 Strathmore, Alberta.
29 March 1945 Medicine Hat, Alberta.
30 March 1945 Consul, Sask.
30 March 1945 Waterton Lake, Manitoba.
31 March 1945 Ituna, Sask.
1 April 1945 Yorkton, Sask.
5 May 1945 Stettler, Alberta.
15 May 1945 Kelvington, Sask.
23 May 1945 Milo, Alberta.
28 May 1945 High River, Alberta. Reported in newspaper 23 June 1945.
15 June 1945 Whitecourt, Alberta.

Alberta had two aircraft stationed at RCAF Detachment, Suffield, Alberta. Very little has been recorded or researched on their operation. One B-25 Mitchell bomber KJ641, was on strength in February 1945, and reported in articles, as used to track Japanese Balloons. It appears in the Daily Dairy with a number of different pilots, conducting what they called ‘Local 104” or “Local 101” and other numbers. A Boston Bomber BE410 was also used for camera work, and that’s about all I can make out.

On 7 February 1945, a single Mosquito fighter arrived at 17:00 hrs, with a No. 170 ferry pilot and navigator. They returned to No. 1 R.E.H.U. at Lethbridge, Alberta. The Mosquito was flown by different crews and did special tests called F.E. 291 or F.E. 293, and other code numbers. The tests were conducted at 30,000 feet and recorded on film by the Boston Bomber. The Mosquito remained on strength until 4 April 1945, and then left for Regina, Sask. I believe this was all top secret, involving the Japanese Balloons, during the same time period 22 Balloons were found in the three Prairies provinces. Canadian Government officials were very concerned the balloons were being used to carry a biological war to Canada.

About the Mosquito

I have attached here the RCAF Suffield Daily Diary 7 Feb, and end of month 28 Feb. 45. I believe this RCAF Mosquito worked with the five Hurricanes in Saskatchewan, but I have no further proof.

I think releasing this information is a good time and place.

The known balloons to land in Canada up until 28 August 1945, was 88, which includes N.W.T, and Yukon. Historians report the Japanese stopped releasing balloons in early April 1945, and that is not correct. The High River balloon arrived on 28 May 45, and it was intact, after releasing incendiary bombs and anti-personnel bomb, possibly over the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The self-destruct bomb mechanism failed to work, and the bomb came down in a farmers field, bouncing along until it hit a fence. This Japanese Fu-Go balloon was launched around 23-24 May, then 70-80 hours later was recovered and flown to Ottawa. One more balloon would be found in Alberta in June 45, and two in Yukon. In July 45, six balloons were found in B.C. and one in Yukon. In August 45, three balloons were found in B.C.

Born and raised on a farm in Southern Alberta, I fully understand the winds that seem to always blow in Alberta. That is the reason many balloons were blown north from United Sates and landed in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Right in the middle of this was the location of RCAF Detachment, Suffield, Alberta, today a British Army [restricted] training area. The truth may never be fully released.


The last original “Crabapple” Hurricane fighter 5389

The last original “Crabapple” Hurricane fighter 5389, has been stored outside, lost, forgotten, and almost given away to another millionaire in England. This fighter is truly a survivor, in more ways than I could ever describe.

Hurricane 5389, [in Calgary today] was taken out of No. 2 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit, RCAF, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in March 1945. It was flown to No. 8 Repair Depot, at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 12 March 1945, along with #5377 and #5584. [in Ottawa today] The modification of radio and one .303 Browning machine gun was completed on 14 March, and No. 170 [Ferry] Squadron flew 5389 to No. 23 E.F.T.S. at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, where it is taken on strength, Daily Diary, [15 March 1945]. No. 23 EFTS did not close until 15 September 1945, and records of all activities appear in Daily Diary, however there is no record of Hurricane pilot, any scramble or sightings of Japanese Balloon, just one Hurricane taken on strength. A second Hurricane 5588 arrived on 10 April 1945, and again is only shown taken on charge. On 24 June 1945, a mobile repair party of five, from No. 8 Repair Depot, complete an M.5 inspection of Hurricane 5389 at Yorkton, Sask. The machine gun is removed and No. 170 [Ferry] squadron fly the fighter back to storage at No. 3 S.E.H.U. Swift Current, Sask. The Daily Diary at Swift Current record shows Hurricane 5389 is inhibited in a hangar on 15 November 1946. In the spring of 1946, the Hurricane is ready for disposal, taken off strength by RCAF and sold by War Assets Corporation on 20 August 1946. The new owner is Mr. Robert R. Hamilton, 3915 Montague St. Regina, Saskatchewan. The Hurricane is placed on a farm outside Regina and forgotten.

During his flying days with No. 403 Squadron in Calgary, Lynn Garrison befriended a young 15-year-old who wanted to be a fighter pilot, Joe E. McGoldrick. Lynn would take him to the airport and left him sit in the Mustangs and Harvard aircraft. When he was old enough, Joe joined the RCAF, but they made him a navigator, so he dropped out, as he wanted to be a pilot. He returned to Calgary and began a concerted effort to become a pilot. He obtained his licence, spent many hours as a flight instructor and was finally accepted by Pacific Western Airlines. During the early days Garrison was forming the Alberta Aviation Museum, Joe was a student pilot in training for navigator, at RCAF Station Winnipeg. On weekends Joe would drive around and locate WWII aircraft. He learned that Hurricane 5389 was for sale and Calgary mechanic Ed Fleming purchased 5389 and 5424 from the farmer owners in Regina, Saskatchewan. Later in 1962, Lynn Garrison was looking for Hurricane fighters and Ed was doing a rebuild of a WWII P-51 Mustang. Lynn Garrison traded a set of Mustang wings, one Packard Merlin 29 engine and a Mustang propeller to Ed Fleming for the two Hurricane fighters, 5424 and 5389. The two Hurricanes were transported to Calgary courtesy of Wolton Lumber Company, and placed in the Shell Oil Pipeline storage yard on Edmonton Trail, Calgary. If you are still interested, more details can be found on the website of The Calgary Mosquito Society.

On 21 December 2011, the City of Calgary awards the restoration of “Crabapple” Hurricane fighter 5389 to the Calgary Mosquito Society. The fighter is moved to Historic Aviation Services in Wetaskiwin on 27 October 2012, for restoration to taxi condition. The restoration is expected to be completed a year from now, summer 2018. Today [September 2017] only three RCAF original “Crabapple” Hurricane fighters survive, and two are back together at Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Next Chapter – The WWII pilot who flew Hurricane 5389, 94-year-old F/O Gordon Hill, from Calgary, Alberta.

Message from Clarence

Clarence sent me this message… It’s from Lynn Garrison.

Garrison 1

Since 1983, I have operated the Haitian Children’s Fund from my personal resources, with some effect. Throughout those years, I have studiously avoided any mention of my colorful past, since the charity operations here are mostly “Faith Based,” which might find me, in their minds, “marching to a different drummer.”

Recently, I was contacted by Biafrans who thought I was dead. They have held an annual memorial service for me since 1969, saluting me for what I did 50 years ago. I was surprised that anyone remembered me, since I did everything possible to remain unnoticed.

So now, the gloves are off! I am going to make a thrust for support, throughout the aviation community. Each month theHaitian Children’s Fund site will have a short story, under our section – HIGH FLIGHT that recounts an adventure from a somewhat adventursome past – all with an aviation focus. The first tells of my involvement with the Ferry Flights of ex-RCAF Mustangs during the sixties. A follow to this could be one about the 1969 Football War, in El Salvador….. my film projects…

Many people donate each year, most times to charities they know little about. I am hoping the aviation people will look at us as a recipient. We don’t have any overhead, and a dollar/pound/peso in is 100% on target.

Like a “chain letter- with a purpose,” I would hope that each of you sees fit to pass this message along to your personal e-mail list of contacts.

If anyone wants to communicate with me, via e-mail, I will respond to each contact, personally.

Some Haitian kids lives depend on this, literally. I am running as fast as I can but children – and adults – are actually dying of starvation, at this moment in Haiti’s Northwest, – unremarked – 623 nautical from where we can launch missions to the moon.

Take a look at our site and see the HIGH FLIGHT segment.

My small friends need help!

Regards,

Lynn Garrison

haitipro@bellsouth.net

http://www.haitian-childrens-fund.org

Update – P/O Eli M. Rosenbaum

A comment about a research done by Clarence Simonsen 

I am really glad I found your blog and this story. I am the grandson of F/L Horace Hillcoat who flew with Eli Ross and eventually was lost on 15 December 1944. I was wondering if you had any contact with Eli’s family and if they had anything that would provide more information about my grandfather and the type of person he was. My mother was very young when this incident occurred. She doesn’t remember much of her dad, other than the smell of his pipe. His wife, my grandmother, has given us view; but it would be interesting to learn more about him in his career. I am just taking a shot in the dark to see if there was anything recorded by Eli, but who knows? Any help you could give, would be greatly appreciated.


In January 2015, this story appeared on Lest We Forget, a blog that I created in 2009 with the idea of paying homage to my wife’s uncle who was a sailor aboard HMCS Athabaskan G07.

Little did I know back then that I would virtually meet Clarence Simonsen thanks to another blog I had created to pay homage to RCAF 128 Squadron. People might consider Clarence as a amateur historian.

I don’t. This is why I had created Preserving the Past to share Clarence’s impressive research.

Clarence is always afraid I might get tired posting his stories. This will never happen. So without further ado, here is the story that was posted in 2015.

The original is here: https://athabaskang07.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/a-real-survivor-po-eli-ross/

Except this picture shared on a Facebook group page…

Canadian Military Aircraft Crashes, Wrecks, Relics, Retired & Displays

I could not resist colorising it to show my appreciation for Clarence.


Another impressive research from Clarence Simonsen

During WWII the Canadian Jewish Congress published four comic style books recording the history of Jewish Heroes.

comic book

The Jewish WWII Decorations speak for themselves.

decorations won by Canadian Jews

One of the RCAF officers who never appeared in the comic style honor book was P/O Eli M. Rosenbaum, [Air Force Cross] from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He cheated death flying in a RCAF B-17 on three different occasions.

Eli Maximillian Rosenbaum

P/O Eli Maximillian Rosenbaum #J27043, 1943 [Rosenbaum collection]

This story begins in the fall of 1943, when a very serious Canadian political and military problem had developed, slow mail delivery to our Canadian troops in England and the new Mediterranean war zone. For the first three years of the Second World War, the Canadian Government had largely relied on the British and Americans to deliver our military mail to the battle front. With thousands of Canadians now serving in the air and ground forces in North Africa, the mail was not getting to the fighting man, and with Christmas quickly approaching the Government was feeling the heat, both from home and the war front. At once official pressure was applied and RCAF activity began on 17 October 1943, when Wing Commander R.B. Middleton was ordered to disband his present squadron and form a new squadron in his Hangar #66 at Rockcliffe, Ontario. The next day, official RCAF authorization was received for forming No. 168 [Heavy Transport] Squadron, under No. 9 [Transport] Command, Air Force Headquarters, Rockcliffe, Ontario. That same afternoon three Lodestars arrived from No. 164 Squadron, sub-detachment at Edmonton, Alberta. By the end of October, a total of eleven Lockheed Lodestars were on strength at 168 Squadron and training began on 9 November 43. The non-stop direct training flights were flown from Rockcliffe to Edmonton, Alberta, the approximate same distance as an Atlantic crossing from Rockcliffe to Scotland. It soon became obvious to all squadron members the Lodestars were not suitable for long-range flights and due to extra fuel could carry very little mail cargo.

On 2 November 43, the new Commanding Officer W/C Middleton and two other officers left for the USAAF B-17 instructional school at Lockbourne Army Air Base, Columbus, Ohio. The Canadian Government had purchased six veteran aging B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, which had previously been used to train USAAF crews, and now arrangements were made for delivery to Rockcliffe plus the training of new RCAF aircrew at Lockbourne Army Air Base.

Eli Maximillian Rosenbaum was born in the Jewish section of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and joined the RCAF in 1942. He attended No. 2 Initial Training School at Regina, Saskatchewan, trained at No. 8 EFTS, Vancouver, B.C. and earned his wings at No. 7 SFTS Fort Macleod, Alberta. I made mail and phone contact with Eli in 1993, during which time he informed me he never used his full surname and always went by the name Eli Ross, even during WWII. Due to his nationality, he was instructed he would remain in Canada, posted to the newly formed No. 168 [HT] Squadron which was in the rushed temporary building stage. He first reported to Dorval for instructions on transatlantic operations and briefings from RAF instructors who came from No. 31 RAF Radio Direction Finding School at Clinton, Ontario. This B.C.A.T.P. school was run by the RAF and became the only one of its kind in all North America, training American, British and Canadians. It was taken over by the RCAF in July 1943 [in paper only] and became No. 5 Radio School, still manned by original RAF instructors, who instructed co-pilot Eli Ross.

On 26 November 43, Eli Ross was one of six RCAF Officers selected for training at the American B-17 Training Base at Lockbourne, Ohio. Two Canadian pilots, two co-pilots, and two wireless operators joined the Americans in the class room, when the USAAF instructor’s allowed the RCAF personnel to interrupt their normal training. While Eli was in training, the very first American B-17F arrived at Rockcliffe airfield 4 December 43, during a heavy snowfall, which proved the American pilot with poor runway conditions and limited visibility. Unfamiliar with Canadian winter conditions the USAAF pilot continued to fly overhead again and again, waiting for the snow conditions to clear. After the runway was plowed, he made his successful landing and turned the first USAAF B-17F [42-3160] over to W/C Middleton.

newspaper photo of unknown American

The newspaper photo of unknown American who delivered the first B-17F to Rockcliffe in the Canadian snow storm

[PL23191]

With the arrival of B-17F [Douglas] serial 42-3160 on 4 December 1943, the RCAF began their Fortress serial numbers with 9202. It is interesting to see the runway had been cleared of snow and in the background are the Lockheed Lodestars used for early training. The following day B-17F, serial 42-6101 [Vega] arrived and received RCAF serial #9203. On the 8 December B-17F [Douglas] serial 42-3360 arrived and took serial 9204.

With the arrival of the first three B-17s, a great amount of RCAF pressure was applied to get the first Christmas mail to England as soon as possible. Fortress #9202 was prepared for the flight, loaded with mail and prepared for take-off on 14 December 1943. During the run-up, one engine developed an engine gear failure which required the entire replacement. An overnight change of aircraft was hurried into effect and the next morning Fortress #9204 was ready for take-off.

The RCAF officer in command was W/C Middleton, the pilot was F/L B.G. Smith, co-pilot P/O Eli Rosenbaum, F/O F. B. Labrish navigator, F/O C.A. Dickson wireless operator, with passengers W/C Z.L. Leigh Air Force H.Q., Ottawa, F/O J. F. Irvine, technical officer and F/O S. Tingley, H.Q. staff Ottawa. In total 189 mail bags were placed on board and combined with the RCAF brass a total weight of 5,502 was recorded.

The crew of the first flight of the RCAF Overseas Airmail Service

The crew of the first flight of the RCAF Overseas Airmail Service [Mailcan]
on 15 December 1943

Left to right P/O Eli Rosenbaum, [co-pilot Winnipeg]; F/L B. G. Smith, [pilot American- Nebraska]; F/O C. A. Dickson, [wireless Edmonton]; and F/O F.B. Labrish, [navigator Montreal]. The background B-17F is 42-6101 which became #9203 and arrived on 5 December 1943, the same date three RCAF crews had their official photo taken in front of the Fortress.

The pre-flight farewell ceremony

The pre-flight farewell ceremony held before the take-off of Fortress 9204, 15 December 1943. [Eli Ross collection]

The above photo came from Eli Ross [center under over-painted American white star and bars] who can be seen looking over the shoulder of civilian [Post Master General of Canada]. Three of the RCAF crew members [far left] are seen chatting with the young lady, possibly a secretary to a senior officer. The special guests included the Minister of National Defence for Air, the Deputy Minister of DND for Air, Deputy Post Master General and other senior RCAF officials. After the official ceremony the B-17F with passengers and crew departed to Dorval for the overnight stay, then on to Gander where they were delayed three days with gas leaks in self-sealing tanks.

Take-off from Rockcliffe on 15 December 1943

Take-off from Rockcliffe on 15 December 1943, Fortress 9204
heads to Dorval for the overnight stay. [PL23408]

On 20 December 1943, [just after midnight] the crew and passengers of B-17F #9204 departed Gander, Newfoundland for Prestwick, Scotland. At 20,000 feet they broke free of clouds and navigator Labrish took a star fix. At this point they discovered the fortress had a tail wind of 60 knots, and then they settled in for the long trans-Atlantic flight. As the Eastern sunrise climbed into the morning sky, pilot Smitty switched to the auxiliary fuel tanks and in turn each engine quit. Due to the [jet-stream] tail wind the aircraft made a landing at RCAF No. 422 Squadron, flying boat [Sutherland] base at St. Angelo in Northern Ireland, with twenty minutes of fuel in the main tanks. When the ground crew checked the fuel lines they found the Americans had clamped off the auxiliary tanks, which were not required for training flights. In the rush to get the Christmas mail to Scotland, the Fortress had not been properly checked, and this almost cost the lives of all the crew and senior RCAF Officers. No blame was directed at the ground crews as the senior officers realized they had in fact caused the problem. Official report – “It is not possible to lay on an important transport operation with second-hand aircraft in a hurry, without taking serious chances.”

Co-pilot Eli Ross fully understood that the 60 knots tail wind and pure luck had saved all of their lives, and lady luck would ride with him two more times and save his life again and again.

At Rockcliffe, two more B-17E aircraft had arrived and joined the growing fleet. On 15 December 43, USAAF serial 41-9142 arrived and took RCAF #9205, followed by B-17E, serial 41-2438 on 21 December, which took RCAF #9206.

9202

mailbag

The No. 168 engineering officer S/L W. H. Lewis looks on as the squadron artist LAC Freemantle paints a Canadian Mail bag for each operation flown. Ground crew LAC Murray admires his art work. RCAF Fortress #9202 was the first to return to Rockcliffe on 10 January 1944, with 1,400,000 Christmas letters. The near tragedy of this first flight was not reported to the public, while the Canadian Government took the occasion to give it considerable publicity, which pleased the greater majority of Canadian families with sons and daughters at war overseas.

By the middle of January 1944, the five B-17s of No. 168 Squadron were providing regular overseas airmail delivery from Rockcliffe to Preswick, Scotland. During the spring of 1944, LAC Freemantle created and painted a special nose art insignia for the B-17 aircraft and it first appeared on the nose of B-17F serial 42-3369, RCAF #9204, featuring an American Eagle in full flight carrying one Canadian mail bag in each claw.

Eli Ross photo showing the first RCAF B-17 nose art

Eli Ross photo showing the first RCAF B-17 nose art on #9204, spring 1944

nose art

The same nose art would later appear on Boeing built Fortress B-17E, serial 41-9142, RCAF 9205. Please note these two nose art insignia featured a full white tail on the American bald Eagle. This was painted in honor of P/O Eli Ross and donated to the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, March 2009. This nose art resulted from the following story.

On the night of 23 January 1944, the very first airmail flight took place from Prestwick, Scotland to Italy with a fuel stop at Gibraltar. The crew would fly together for the first time with new pilot F/O H. B. Hillcoat, co-pilot Eli Ross, F/O Freddie B. Labrish, navigator, F/O Cec A. Dickson, wireless, and Cpl. Al de Marco as crewmember. They departed Scotland in Fortress #9205 for Gibraltar, flying just below the freezing level of 5,000 feet. Some ninety miles south of Brest there was a sudden tremendous impact with another aircraft, which they later learned was a Vickers Wellington of RAF Coastal Command. The Fortress lost two engines, the nose was bent, the complete under side was damaged, and they only had one supercharger in operation. For the next two hours pilot Hillcoat and Eli Ross fought the damaged controls, with the shuddering aircraft flying near stalling speed. Near the coast of Cornwall they began to call for help and received a reply from RAF Station Predannack, where they landed. For their heroic actions and exceptional airmanship, Hillcoat, Rosenbaum, Labrish and Dickson were awarded the Air Force Cross, while de Marco received the Air Force Medal. For the second time lady luck had saved the lives of Eli Ross, Labrish and Dickson. [At this point in the war the RAF had advocated all aircraft on the Gibraltar to England flights be allotted different heights of flight, but nothing had been officially done]. Shortly after this RCAF Fortress and Wellington head-on collision the new rules came into effect, saving future air force lives.

Eli Ross images of damage to RCAF Fortress

Eli Ross images of damage to RCAF Fortress #9205

Due to the shortage of four engine aircraft Fortress #9205 was completely rebuilt, striped of camouflage paint and give an unglazed silver fabric nose cone. The American Bald Eagle with solid white tail appeared as nose art on the new natural metal skin. The much delayed sixth and final Fortress B-17E, [Boeing] serial 41-2581, arrived on 1 February 1944 and became RCAF #9207. Her life was very shot when she crashed on take-off from Prestwick, Scotland, on 2 April 1944, all killed. This was caused by shifting of mail cargo during take-off, causing the aircraft to stall and spin in. The aircraft was not installed with proper strapping to prevent the movement of mail bags in flight and was carrying a heavier than normal load.

No. 168 Squadron took delivery of its first Dakota [DC-3] aircraft in late January 1944, and the first two flew overseas on 21 and 22 February 1944. These aircraft carried a new modified nose art insignia created by LAC Freemantle, and each featured a solid black tail on the American Eagle.

Simonsen replica painted Dakota nose art

This Simonsen replica painted Dakota nose art is in the private collection of Richard de Boer, Calgary, Alberta

On 17 September 1944, Fortress #9204 was landing at Rockcliffe when the undercarriage was accidently retracted, and damage was so severe it was written off. [Second B-17 lost]

Eli Ross photo collection

Eli Ross photo collection

New B-24 Liberator aircraft which had been converted to transports began to arrive in Mid-October and the first flight took place on the 19th of the month.

On 15 December 1944 [one year to the date of the first mail flight] Eli Ross was on leave when his normal aircrew of pilot F/L Horace Hillcoat AFC,AFM, navigator F/L Fred Labrish, AFC, and wireless F/O Cecil Dickson, AFC, depart Rabat Sale, Morocco, in Fortress 9203. Eli had been replaced by co-pilot F/L Alfred Ruttleledge, DFC, and bar. Twenty minutes before they were due to land at the French Morocco base in Azores, they called in for landing instructions. The B-17 and crew were never seen again and only a few mail bags were found floating in the Ocean. A South African Ventura was dispatched to the area and this aircraft also went missing. It was believed a German U-boat shot down both aircraft.

This would mark the third time Eli Ross had escaped death.

By mid-February 1945, the squadron had on strength nine Liberators, ten Dakotas, one Hudson and three B-17 Fortress aircraft. For the new B-24 Liberators LAC Freemantle created the same nose art insignia as painted on the B-17s however each one had a solid black tail.

RCAF 578

This is RCAF 578, “QN” USAAF 44-10581, 27 July 44 to 7 July 1947

RCAF QK

F/L John Harding, DFC, standing in front of RCAF “QK” #575 USAAF serial 44-10592,
27 July 1944 to 7 July 1947

John Harding was born in London, Ontario, in 1919, and joined the RCAF in 1941. He served in RAF Bomber Command as a navigator with the rank of Sgt. and after his first tour with No. 130 Squadron was promoted to Flight Lt. He flew 30 operations in Lancaster bombers with 130 RAF Squadron and completed another 20 operations in Lancasters with No. 550 Squadron RAF. He painted his Lancaster serial #4901 in 130 squadron with nose art of a Red Devil under the pilot cockpit area for his skipper Sid Burton, RAF.

After two tours with the RAF, F/L John Harding, DFC, arrived in Ottawa, posted to No. 168 Squadron for his third tour, flying in Liberators beginning early August 1944. He was not alone as other members of the squadron wore decorations and also had completed one or two operations overseas. Another famous WWII pilot F/O Johnny Bourassa, DFC, had completed 43 operations with No. 635 Pathfinder squadron, which was unheard of at that time due to the low survival rate. He later became a well known bush pilot who became lost on 18 May 1951, returning from Bathurst Inlet in North West Territories, and force landed on a northern lake. He left a note in his aircraft and departed on foot at 14:30 hrs 23 May 1951, but has never been found. His aircraft crash site was located on 15 September 1951, by an American B-17 Fortress flying to Edmonton, Alberta. I have a copy of his log book and for his third RCAF tour. He flew Dakota aircraft with No. 168 Squadron all over Europe, Biggin Hill, Brussels, Minden, Germany, Naples, Italy, Cairo, Egypt, Benghazi, Libya, Apeldoorn, Holland, Hengelo, Holland, and Bückeburg, Germany.

John Harding also related to me how No. 168 Mail Squadron had two pilots who came from rich families living in the Ottawa area, and they had used political power to have their sons posted to the much safer mail squadron. Some of the WWII veterans took a dislike to these pilots, including John Harding who refused to fly with one, which possibly saved his life. John was assigned to navigate the new Liberators, [first week in November 1944] while the pilot he did not respect was later killed, flying with his crew in the older B-17 Fortress aircraft.

The end of the war in Europe, 8 May 1945, did very little to change the daily operation of No. 168 Squadron, as the mail must still go through. The new Liberators had taken over the major work load, which included an increase in senior RCAF and civilian VIP passengers. Liberator 574 was extensively modified and became Canada’s first VIP official transport aircraft, flying the Prime Minister, Governor General and other cabinet ministers to meetings.

The RCAF Fortress would have one last moment of glory when #9205 and #9202 were rushed into a special delivery of penicillin from Canada to Warsaw, Poland in October 1945. Due to the increasing Cold War pressure the Russians had to first grant flying permission to the RCAF which they did. On 4 November 1945, Fortress #9202 hit a mountain near Muenster, Germany, and all five crew were killed.

B-17 9202

F/L John Harding, DFC, flew his last operation as navigator in Fortress #9202 on 14 October 1944, and took this image at Gibraltar. The B-17 had completed thirteen compete round-trips, and was half-way to her next little mail bag painting.

Eli Ross photo collection 2

Eli Ross collection

Loading the much needed miracle drug of penicillin into the fold-down nose cap of Fortress #9205, showing the solid white tail of the American Eagle “mail Squadron” insignia.

With the birth of another new year, 1946 would mark the end of No. 168 [H.T.] RCAF Squadron. On 3 March 46, the very last flight took place when Liberator #575 switched her engines off at Rockcliffe. When you look at the squadron records it shows the Liberators completed the most mail trips with an impressive three hundred and thirty-two, however the six B-17 Fortress aircraft were the trail blazers and completed two hundred and forty trips.

From 15 December 1943 to 21 April 1946, No. 168 [H.T.] Squadron delivered 9,125,000 pieces of Canadian service air mail, lost five aircraft and eighteen personnel killed in action. From the very beginning the six old American B-17 Fortress aircraft carried the work load, after they had already served a hard and useful American life, thus they required constant maintenance just to keep them flying. In the end, four B-17s would crash and their casualty list reached fifteen RCAF killed in action.

  1. B-17F RCAF #9203, lost at sea 5 December 1943. [Five killed]
  2. B-17E RCAF #9207, crashed Scotland, 2 April 1944. [Five killed]
  3. B-17F RCAF #9204, damaged beyond repair, Rockcliffe, 17 September 1944.
  4. B-17F RCAF #9202, hit mountain Muenster, Germany, 4 November 1945. [Five killed]

The two remaining B-17E surviving aircraft were #9205 and # 9206, which were sold by War Assets to a pilot in Argentina, where they both arrived on 12 April 1948. After a brief period of flying cargo, both were parked on the field at Moron, Argentina, where they were dismantled and hauled away for scrap in 1964.

Born in the family farm house, located six miles east of the small village of Acme, Alberta, on 24 March 1944, I grew up with the love of aviation and comic books. At age three, I saw a pattern for making a child’s uniform based on the RCAF uniform of WWII, and I wanted it. From the magazine pattern my mother made the uniform which I proudly wore on our train trip to Vancouver, B.C. in the summer of 1947. On my very first train trip, I met my very first girlfriend named Patsy Gibson, and had no idea that girls and uniforms would form a major part of my future aviation research.

Oh, the power of a pilot uniform.

children

The photo back reads – “Twenty minute train stop at Revelstoke, B.C.,
1 June 1947, girlfriend Patsy Isabel Gibson.

Growing up on our mixed farm of cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, turkeys, was constant day to day work, which gave me very little time for my love of drawing and painting airplanes, most of all the American B-17 Flying Fortress. Due to the fact all comics were American, I became an artistic expert on the Fortress, and dreamed of what it would be like to fly in such a famous aircraft. I grew up in a world with no electricity, no in-door plumbing and my entertainment became newspapers, comics, and radio programs. Unlike today’s computer generated fantasy world of super monster heroes, I had to use my imagination, which involved hours of flying in the B-17. In 1962, I jointed the Canadian Army Military [Provost] Corps and learned firsthand the impact of cartoons and art in the Armed Forces. This led directly to my future research and painting of WWII Aviation nose art, which began with the B-24 and B-17 aircraft of the 8th Air Force in England. In 1980, I joined the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, while I was busy editing my own column of the nose art used by the American who flew in England during WWII. I was learning what it was like to be a pilot in a B-17 during WWII, from the very veteran aircrews and making contact with the men who painted the Fortress nose art. This became the best part of my B-17 nose art research as I fully understood, I would never be able to fly in a real Fortress.

By 1990, I was completely consumed by nose art, working on an American nose art book with Jeffery Ethell, plus interviewing and recording as much as I could on the RCAF WWII nose art and artist. I learned the full history of the Calgary Lancaster FM136, a proud bomber that had marked the entrance to the Calgary Airport until 13 October 1977, when the new airport opened further north. The Lancaster was now exposed to vandals and pigeons, which left years of droppings inside the bomber. On 10 March 1992, a special committee was formed to move the Lancaster to a safer location. On 23 April 1992, the WWII Lancaster was removed from her pedestal where she had been placed on 11 April 1961. The original pedestal contained 140,000 pounds of cement and 8,000 pounds of steel which was secured inside the bomber fuselage attached to the main spar. Almost half of the bomb bay door was cut and removed for the cement base to fit inside the aircraft. This large section of bomb bay boor needed to be replaced for the new restoration.

In 1993, I spend two days with No. 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron at CFB Namao, Edmonton. I was researching the full history of Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB994, which Neil Menzies had donated to the squadron in July 1984. This bomber was donated for restoration but the new C.O. Lt. Col. Lee was an Army pilot and he strictly forbade any work to be completed towards the restoration. Frustrated the Air Force members returned the bomber to Menzies, who sold KB994 to Charles Church in England, which he planned to mate with KB976.

Lancasters

The two Lancaster aircraft owned by Charles Church in England,
date unknown, after 1988.

For some reason the two bomb bays doors from KB994 were never shipped to Charles Church in England and they remained near a storage fence in Edmonton. I photographed the doors on my visit in summer of 1993 and then informed 408 Helicopter Squadron that the Aero Space Museum of Calgary required two bomb bay doors.

bomb bay doors

In 1994, the original KB994 bomb bay doors were donated to the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, and restored into the Calgary Lancaster FM136. I obtained the scrap sections that remained for future nose art replica paintings. Then in the spring of 1996, I learned that the owner [Gordon Laing] of Sunwest Aviation in Calgary airport was bringing the B-17G “Sentimental Journey” to Calgary for a five day visit. It is not possible to describe my feelings at that moment.

The General Manager of the Aero Space Museum of Calgary was Mr. Everett Bunnell, an ex-WWII Flying Instructor, Mosquito postwar pilot, CF-100 jet pilot and British Bristol Air pilot. He was not an overly friendly person and ran ‘his’ museum like the wartime Air Force, he was top brass and did not speak to the “Erks.” I had been a museum volunteer for the past 16 years and wanted to welcome the Confederate Air Force and their B-17 and German He-111 to the City of Calgary. This was a no brainer for the WWII connection and the warm hospitality shown by the people of Calgary, so I approached Mr. Bunnell in his office for the one and only time. I wanted to know what the Aero Space Museum had planned to do and I wished to be involved, if possible. The reply from Mr. Bunnell was very upsetting, shocking, and totally unexpected. He informed me ” I don’t want a thing to do with the Yanks or their damn B-17 aircraft, period.”

I next approached Richard de Boer who was the third in charge at the time and we both expressed outrage over the remarks of Manager Bunnell, but he was boss and nothing could be done to change him. During my life, I found I do some of my best work when people tell me “no” or “you can’t do that, you’re not good enough.” I informed Richard I would paint a WWII nose art replica and present it to the CAF from myself, Richard de Boer, and the Aero Space Museum of Calgary.

I had just made contact with Eli Ross [1993] and learned the full history of the six B-17’s that flew with the RCAF during WWII, and that triggered my nose art idea. I would paint the American Bald Eagle insignia that flew on the two RCAF B-17’s that hauled mail to England. From the bomb bay section of skin I saved from Lancaster KB994, I stripped the original paint, hand polished to a bright shine, and then painted the replica insignia of the RCAF WWII, B-17E, #9205 mail squadron.

9205

The 1996 presentation to the Confederate Air Force, Arizona Wing, painted on original WWII Lancaster skin from bomb bay of KB994.

The two WWII aircraft of the Confederate Air Force, Arizona, Wing, arrived at Calgary International Airport on 28 July 1996 and the pilots were presented with white hats from the City of Calgary. I then approached the pilot of the B-17G, Sentimental Journey and presented him with the replica nose art of the WWII RCAF Mail Squadron. He was most pleased and ask me to tell him more about the use of the American B-17 by the RCAF during WWII, as he had no idea Canada flew any Fortress aircraft. After a brief history conversation, the pilot invited me to arrive at the airport the next morning at 5 am, and I would be taken for a ride in their B-17G. I didn’t sleep much that night as the excitement was running very high, plus it was such an impossible dream, now coming true.

The next morning I was taken onto the wing of the B-17, shown how they checked the oil on each engine and then I did my own pull through on one engine. You had to turn the props on each engine, five or six times to get the oil to coat the cylinders. [That may not be the correct terms but it is close]

Clarence

This photo taken by the B-17G pilot is out of focus, however it captures the moment.

I was next instructed I could go anyplace in the bomber once we had reached our altitude of 6,000 ft, just be careful and hang on. We would be doing a pilot check ride and it would last for the next two hours. I was then introduced to the new pilot, who had in fact flown B-17s with the 15th Air Force during WWII, just amazing. Then came the start and warming of the four engines, while we sat between the two hangars at Sunwest Aviation.

view

In 1996, regulations did not allow the landing or take-off of any aircraft until 7 am, and then the Calgary Tower gave the visiting B-17 priority for first take-off. We proudly taxied past all the airliners waiting in line for take-off clearance.

view 2

view 3

This is what you see from the nose blister of a WWII B-17G during take-off from the Calgary International Airport, 29 July 1996.

view 4

Coming in to land with a few bugs on the nose. [Just think the pilot
and co-pilot are sitting eight feet behind you]

Even after the passage of almost twenty years, it is still hard to imagine what occurred in the next two hours of flying over southern Alberta. Twice the pilot shut down two engines, first the two inner, then restarted each, and then the two outer, then restated. Next came shutting down two engines on each wing, and for the first time I could imagine what it had been like for Eli Ross and crew to fly back to England on one and one/half engines. We then did three touch and go landings at the Calgary Airport, but the best was still to come. In the last hour we flew over my home town of Acme, Alberta, the very farm land I worked, hunted, and played on including the old farm house where I was born on 24 March 1944. This still ranks as the most touching aviation event I have experienced in my 70 years of life. All because of my one nose art painting.

To the Arizona Wing of the Confederate Air Force, now named the Commemorative Air Force, “Thank You.”