Research by Clarence Simonsen
John “Napper” Dana Duchak was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, 10 July 1921, the son of Mike and Mary Duchak. John was educated in the Regina school system and enjoyed playing hockey and lacrosse. He was a self taught artist, born with a talent to paint, draw, and cartoons became his major creative ability, which formed a secret part of his official RCAF art work overseas 1943-45.
John was first employed in Regina as a commercial artist in 1941 and early 1942. On 24 July 1942, he arrived at No. 2 Manning Depot in Brandon, Manitoba, and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he had just turned 21 years of age. At this point, it appears fate stepped in and directed him to his love of drawing cartoons.
In early 1942, manning depots had taken over all RCAF aircrew selection programs, and it was in these large reception centres where all new RCAF recruits were funnelled and in the process changed from a civilian to an airman. Each new recruit appeared before an aircrew selection board of at least two officers, and they examined his medical reports, personal history file, and scores obtained on the Classification Test, and aptitude testing. These officers decided if the candidate had good pilot potential or if he should be assigned another aircrew category or ground trade. The candidate had no choice other than to accept the board’s decision. In January 1942, there were five manning depots in Canada, No. 1 in Toronto, Ontario, No. 2 in Brandon, Manitoba, No. 3 Edmonton, Alberta, No. 4 in Quebec, and No. 5 in Montreal, Quebec. Most of the recruits were sent to Edmonton, Brandon, and Toronto, the last of which had accommodation for five thousand men.
No. 2 RCAF Manning Depot, was formed at Brandon, Manitoba, on 29 April 1940, and the staff strength in July 1942 was 35 officers and 280 other ranks. They processed an average of 1,300 recruits per month, under Commanding Officer Wing Commander H. G. Reid. The manning depot also published a high quality monthly magazine titled “The Airman’s Post” which featured a large amount of cartoons and a sexy pin-up lady created by their artist AC2 P. Kuch.
Artist Kuch was being posted to No. 2 Initial Training School at Regina, Sask., and they needed a new artist for their publication.
When the selection board finished with John Duchak, he was selected for aircrew training but he would first be posted to No. 2 Manning Depot, [29 August 1942] where he would replace out going artist P. Kuch.
The October 1942 issue of “The Airman’s Post featured the last work of artist AC2 P. Kuch and the first drawings from AC2 John Duchak, RCAF.
The first cartoon by John Duchak depicts ex-artist Kuch leaving for the Initial Training School and artist Duchak arriving at Brandon, No. 2 Manning Depot.
The signature trademark of RCAF artist AC2 John “Napper” Dana Duchak [R176475] No. 2 Manning Depot magazine [The Airman’s Post] October 1942.
AC2 Duchak cartoons at No. 2 Manning Depot, September – October 1942
The next part of John Duchak’s RCAF training is a bit of a mystery, as his Ottawa records do not show him posted to any Initial Training School or Elementary Flying Training School. If he was selected for pilot training, he would spend four weeks at an initial training school, followed by ten weeks of elementary flying training where the pilot candidates came face to face with their first aircraft and the RCAF instructor who will teach them how to fly it. John was posted to No. 2 Manning Depot on 29 August 1942 and then directly to No. 12 SFTS on 6 November 1942, both located at Brandon, Manitoba.
On 6 November 1942, AC2 John Duchak proceeded to No. 12 S.F.T.S. at Brandon, Manitoba, and joined Course #67 in training. The Daily Diary records on 1 December 1942, Course #67 pupils were interviewed in regards to their unsatisfactory progress and a number failed the course. They received their wings on 18 February 43, and cleared the station the following day. It would appear John Duchak failed this course, was reassigned, and posted to No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at Macdonald, Manitoba, on 21 February 1943.
On 22 February 1943, Course #51 commenced at No. 3 B and G School with 90 trainees. On 5 April 1943, AC2 Duchak was promoted to LAC, and graduated on 14 May 43. His Gunnery Wings were presented by C.O. Group Capt. R.F. Gibb, AFC, with graduation of 63, 43 being RCAF who were posted to No. 1 “Y” Depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia. LAC Duchak was promoted to Sergeant on graduation and arrived at Halifax on 19 May 1943. On 17 June 43, Draft No.73, with 80 officers and 167 sergeants departed Halifax at 16:00 hrs. He arrived in the U.K. on 24 June 43, and was assigned to No. 23 Operational Training Unit, where he repeatedly suffered airsickness and failed his operational training.
The next step in Duchak’s air force career involves the very creation of No. 6 [RCAF] Group and the Headquarters’ know as “Castle Dismal.” Canada’s indigenous bombing group began operations at one minute after midnight on the first day of 1943. The planning and creation of No. 6 Group on paper had began in August 1942, and this clearly showed the RCAF was short on officers and required a number of RAF officers to be posted [loaned] to the new Canadian group. This mix caused a number of serious problems and a lot of training was required before the Canadians would be an effective force on bombing operations. Air Vice-Marshall George E. Brookes, A.O.C. of No. 1 Training Command, was selected to provide a diplomatic bridge between the RAF senior officers and the new Canadian airmen. In September 1942, Brookes first task was the selection of a new permanent site for the Canadian Headquarters of No. 6 [RCAF] Group. He found a rambling old seventy-five room Victorian style castle at Allerton Park near Knaresborough and this was taken over by the RCAF. The property was owned by forty-seven-year-old Lord Mowbray, and he showed no patriotism or love for the Canadians, and complained vociferously about the war, the RCAF, and the alterations being done to his rundown castle. The new RCAF officers soon found Brookes to have a few shortcomings, lack of command experience, a very fussy man, inclined to dwell on trivial British matters, and concentrated excessively on the renovations to his new castle. To the majority of RCAF airmen, Allerton Park, [Allerton Hall] became known during its Canadian tenancy as “Castle Dismal.” This is where all bombing operations were planned for No. 6 [RCAF] Group beginning on 1 January 1943.
On 5 January 1943, No. 6 [RCAF] Group H.Q. Allerton Park was officially changed to read – “Allerton Hall.” The new Headquarters’ for the Dominion “HOME” Stations of the Royal Air Force in England.
On 28 June 1943, orders were received that initiated the collection and publication of historical records from No. 6 [RCAF] Group, which were titled “Summary of Activities. At first these typed sheets of ‘secret’ information was very simple and contained no art work or cartoons. Unknown to Sgt. John Ducahk, these reports would form a major part of his future RCAF wartime career.
On 22 November 1943, [after failing his Bombing and Gunnery course] Sgt. John Dana Duchak was posted to R.C.A.F. Overseas Headquarters, known as RCAF Overseas. Formed on 1 January 1940, it was based in London, [20 Lincoln’s Inn Fields] where it provided a central location for personnel records and general RCAF administration. By 1943, the administration had top authority over the movement of Canadian RCAF personnel in England, working closely with RCAF H.Q. at Allerton Hall. It is not clear why Sgt. Duchak was posted to RCAF Overseas, but this was possibly due to his artistic talents. He was also possibly involved in the forming of No. 19 Dental Company, as he completed at least three newsletter covers for this new unit in early February-March-April 1944.
The RCAF Overseas official badge was an eagle in flight over a blue disk [sky] and in its claws it carried a sprig of branch from a Canadian Maple tree. Six Maple Leafs show in the design. Il was approved by King George VI, in June 1944.
In 1938, the Canadian Dental Association lobbied the Minister of National Defence to create an independent dental service for use by the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force. By 1939, the Canadian Army Dental Corps was replaced by the Canadian Dental Corps, which provided diet and oral dental standards for servicemen and servicewomen around the world. In December 1942, No. 18 Base [Dental] Company, RCAF, was formed at London, England, under command of Major L. L. Kent, from Lachine, Quebec. In charge of the Canadian Dental Corps of the RCAF in England, was Lt. Col. E. M. Wansbrought, M. M., E.D., from Shelburne, Ontario. As more Canadian graduates of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan reached Britain, the demands for the Dental Corps were increased and the expansion from a single Base Company to two Base Companies was announced in February 1943. No. 19 [Dental] Company, was formed at RCAF Station Leeming in March 1943. By October 1943, dental work done for the RCAF in England, involved 11 mobile clinics, which attended bomber and fighter bases, plus No. 18 Base in London and No. 19 Base [Company] at Leeming. In October 1943, 7,600 patients received treatment totalling 13,000 operations by forty-three dental officers and more than 100 dental assistants. On 22 November 1943, Sgt. Duchak possibly joined this select group of dental technicians and assistants which were staffed by a large number of female members of the RCAF’s Women’s Division. No. 19 Dental Company left Station Leeming and moved to No. 6 [RCAF] Group H.Q. on 15 December 1943. The artistic talents of Sgt. Duchak were soon discovered by senior RCAF officers and on 21 December 1943, he was officially posted to No. 6 [RCAF] Group H.Q. at Allerton Hall on “General Duties.”
This was the first “Bombing Digest” cover with art drawn title, possibly created by Sgt. Duchak, late November 1943. He had just been posted to RCAF Overseas Headquarters on 22 November 1943.
Cover art by Duchak for the 24 February 1944 issue of the No. 19 Company, Canadian Dental Corps Newsletter. This is making fun of the No. 19 Company O. C. Major R.A. Gilbert, from St. Thomas, Ontario. You must keep in mind No. 19 Company did dental work on the most senior officers at “Castle Dismal” Allerton Hall, and it was made up of 45 dental assistants from the RCAF Women’s Division. Thus, this cartoon cover art featured some form of sexual humor directed at their Commanding Officer.
In March 1944, O.C. [Officer Commanding] of No. 19 Company Canadian Dental Corps, Major R.A. Gilbert was promoted to Lt. Colonel and artist Duchak gave his congratulations with a special cover art. Sgt. Duchak was now on charge No. 6 [RCAF] Group, [Ground] at Allerton Hall, as their official artist, however it appears he had close connections to the newly formed No. 19 Company Dental Corps, the connection is unknown.
Sgt. Duchak was officially posted to No. 6 [RCAF] Group H.Q., as an artist on 25 January 1944. In February 44, he became the N.C.O. placed in charge of a new formed art section, with three draftsman working under him. His first cover art for operational duties “Summary of Encounters” appeared March 1944, followed by 28 more covers which I have in my collection. It is possible he created more than the 29 known RCAF covers, which were classified secret, resulting in most being destroyed.
The No. 6 [RCAF] Group, H.Q. monthly “Summary of Activities” publications officially began in 28 July 1943. These early editions were small, containing 10 to 12 pages of typed secret information and no artwork. Each month the pages of information increased, April 1944, had 21 pages, May 1944, contained 26 pages, and the June 1944, increased to 28 pages. This information was classified “secret”, printed in limited copies and distributed to 54 units of the RCAF in Bomber Command located in Yorkshire, England. Each month a new summary publication arrived and the old copies were ordered to be destroyed by RCAF Headquarters.
In May 1944, Sgt. Duchak was granted permission to create small black and white drawings to add to the Summary of Activities publication, and he created hundreds of cartoons for the title pages. A few samples are shown, but each month he created ten to twenty new images for the RCAF Summary of Activities, plus full page cartoons. Some images were later repainted in color and survive today.
This header with cartoon art first appeared in the June 1944 issue.
These small header cartoon captions reveal the true ability and originally of Sgt. Duchak. The title for the RCAF ground crew making aircraft repairs soon became their unofficial motto – “U Bend Em – We Mend Em.”
It has been well documented by famous historians and official RCAF publications, that the forming of No. 6 [RCAF] Group involved hidden private fighting with hostile words. In short, the British RAF High Command did not want the formation of No. 6 RCAF Group. The R.A.F. chiefs wanted the Canadians to remain under British control in the existing RAF groups. This became a political nightmare for both the Canadian Liberal Government in Ottawa, and the British Government under Churchill. In the end the Canadians won, for the simple reason it was politically desirable to form the new ‘all-Canadian’ Group.
Even Sir Arthur T. Harris, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief R.A.F. Bomber Command, had little respect for the RCAF’s Air Officer Commanding 6 Group, Air Vice-Marshal G. E. Brookes, who he nicknamed “Babbling Brook.” Harris was equally critical of the Canadian 6 Group Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief overseas, Air Marshal “Gus” Edwards, who he described as unsuitable for any Command.
When No. 6 [RCAF] Group demanded to be equipped with new Lancaster aircraft, “Bomber” Harris drew a line, which is still disputed by historians today. From the National Bestseller – “Reap the Whirlwind” published in 1991, page 15. In September 1942, Harris wrote to Portal – “I fail to see why we should give these people, [Canadians] who are determined to huddle into a corner by themselves on purely political grounds, the best equipment [Lancaster aircraft] at the expense of British and other Dominion crews.”
Harris was true to his word, and for the majority of No. 6 [RCAF] Group aircrew, the Halifax bomber became their dominant aircraft, which they flew through the toughest days, and costliest period of World War Two.
Even finding a new headquarters for the Canadians proved to be a British political struggle, as Lord Mowbray put up many obstructions for the RCAF taking over his enormous castle estate of two thousand acres. The main building [Allerton Castle] was located four miles east of Knaresborough, at Allerton Mauleverer, some ten miles east of Harrogate, England.
Post Card image of Allerton Park
In the early months of 1943, No. 6 [RCAF] Group regularly recorded the highest casualties in RAF Bomber Command, and the worst early return to base rates of all squadrons. It took time and combat experience for the RCAF to mature and form a true team spirit from a new ‘independent Canada.’ All members of No. 6 [RCAF] Group knew they were the first non-British formation of this size to ever become part of R.A.F. Bomber Command, but they needed a symbol to pull them together as one. I believe this impressive winged 6 with bomb symbol, became their ‘own’ new RCAF identity.
In March 1944, Sgt. Duchak created his first black and white cover for the Summary of Activities and this became his unofficial insignia for No. 6 [RCAF] Group, appearing in a number of different designs. It appears to me, this 1944 cover art was a very fast sketch done by the artist, possibly just an idea forming in his head. He improved on his original design in the May and July cover issues and this slowly became the ‘unofficial’ insignia for No. 6 [RCAF] Group, H.Q. in England.
At the same time, he created a yellow six with grey bomb inside, imposed over a red Maple Leaf, which began to appear in cover art as well as his full page cartoons. I believe this impressive symbol became the missing link the RCAF aircrew in England needed, to show they were an independent Canadian bomber force. This also became the trademark for the artist, appearing below most of his drawings, maps, charts, and cartoons, created in his art room at Castle Dismal, Allerton Hall, from June 1944 to May 1945.
This black and white image appeared on hundreds of drawings, all classified as “Secret.”
By July 1944, the Summary of Activities cover became very detailed artwork, which I believe Duchak took pride in creating.
In the same month, [July 1944] this impressive symbol [A Red Maple Leaf superimposed over a White Rose of York] had slowly become the “unofficial’’ insignia for all members of No. 6 [RCAF] Group, manufactured by Crest Craft in Saskatoon, Canada, and worn in England with pride as a cloth badge [left] and also as a British made ‘sweetheart’ pin.
A new design appeared on the RCAF Education cover page in January 1945
His final “Victory Number” cover design in April 1945
No. 6 [RCAF] Group was transferred from England to RCAF Eastern Air Command, Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 14 July 1945, and began to organize and train for RAF “Tiger Force.” The atomic bombing of Hiroshima [6 August 45] and Nagasaki [9 August 45] resulted in the Japanese acceptance of the Allied terms of surrender, officially signed 2 September 45. No. 6 [RCAF] Group was disbanded on 1 September 1945, and now became Canadian aviation history.
On 19 April 1943, No. 405 Squadron became part of No. 8 Pathfinder Group at Gransden Hodge, Beds., and they were honoured by Sgt. Duchak in June 1944, issue of Summary of Activities.
Sgt. Duchak created full page drawings for special events and cartoon poster art. The Royal visit in August 1944, with his trademark 6 Group bomb, Maple Leaf design.
Sgt. Duchak could turn a special message into an art poster.
Full page cartoon art with a warning, and a depressed Luftwaffe vulture image which appeared in many cartoons.
August 1944 issue, which contained 18 pages of cartoon art just like this one.
Special art created for “Sea Mining” August 1944
1 January 1944, the 2nd Anniversary of No. 6 [RCAF] Group in England.
This American 8th Air Force [B-17 tail] and 6 RCAF Group [Halifax] nose art cartoon appeared full page in August 1944. Note – Canadian Beaver as nose art.
“Fishpond” was the codename given to a British H2S airborne tail warning radar, which was suppose to detect enemy aircraft and German night fighters from belly attacks on bomber aircraft. Its radar signal was unknowingly attracting German night fighters to the very Allied bombers, it was designed to protect. The cat and mouse game was captured in this cartoon.
RCAF ground crew humour directed at their Officers
Sgt. Duchak began to use his yellow six, grey bomb, over a red Maple Leaf as his trademark. He also created a cartoon featuring German pilot Otto and his son Otto Jr. Note – the RCAF aircrew giving a hair cut – “Short Cut.”
A caution for RCAF bomber aircrew to watch for the new German jets
The creation of bomb charts became a monthly report in the Summary of Activities. These were drawn by the three draftsman who worked under Sgt. Duchak, and were all classified “Secret.”
No. 6 [RCAF] Group map by draftsmen J. W. Kressler who worked under Sgt. Duchak and created many maps and charts, which appeared in Monthly Summary of Activities.
Sgt. Duchak and his three artists were all cleared to “Top Secret” as they were reading secret classified RCAF bomber material on a daily basis. The monthly Summary of Activities was first read by senior officers in No. 6 [RCAF] Group Headquarters, then passed on to senior officers in RCAF squadrons. This also contained special drawn maps of each bomber raid into Germany and the position of each aircraft in the bomber stream, called “Gaggle Formation.”
The Allerton Hall RCAF switchboard was a very busy place in 1944-45. It was staffed by RCAF Airwomen [W.D.] and 444 were on strength in September 1944. The total strength of all ranks operating at Allerton Hall in 1944, was 718. They included 149 RCAF Officers, 20 RAF Officers, 249 RCAF other ranks, and 261 RCAF [W.D.] other ranks, with 20 assorted RAF other ranks and one Canadian Army officer. The W.D. RCAF switchboard became the main line of communication, captured in this July 1944, cartoon by Sgt. Duchak.
The first A.O.C. of No. 6 [RCAF] Group, Air Vice-Marshal George Brookes gave no priority to obtaining decorations for the Canadians under his bomber command. That all changed on 29 February 1944, when Air Vice-Marshal Clifford Mackay McEwen, known as “Black Mike”, took over command. He ordered RCAF base commanders to increase the number of award submissions, and this had a desired effect on morale and performance. This is reflected in the Duchak cartoon – “Black Mike’s” Boys.
The No. 17 cover art for “Bombing Digest” in October 1944
Hitler and his V-1 rocket charge off a cliff in France, and the depressed vulture “Luftwaffe” waits for the crash.
The cover art for December 1944 “Gunnery Encounters” would appear inside the same edition, under Squadron training.
The new bomber ‘baby’ for January 1945
By March 1945, at least 102 copies of Monthly Summary of Activities were being printed, bound in booklet form and delivered to appointed units, above. These booklets contained all secret classified No. 6 RCAF Group information with a large number of Sgt. Duchak cartoons, charts, and bomber stream attacks of Germany. Beginning January 1945, special instructions were received and ordered drawn on the front cover art by Sgt. Duchak.
The last offensive operation by No. 6 [RCAF] Group was an attack on two coastal batteries on Wangerooge Island, on the eastern end of the Frisian island chain. The date was 25 April 1945, and the Canadian Group sent 192 bombers of 482 that hit the target. Six bombers would be lost due to tragic pilot error, as one bomber lost control when it hit the slipstream of another, lurched into a third, and in seconds six bombers were lost. Four of the aircraft were from No. 6 Group and all twenty-eight Canadian occupants were killed. This map of the attack was drawn by draftsman J. W. Kressler on 4 May 45, the last gaggle formation completed at Allerton Hall.
The War in Europe was over and the Canadian bombers were coming home.
A cover by draftsman J.W. Kressler, end of April 1945
Special technical “Secret” detailed drawings were also created at Allerton Hall and published in the Summary of Activities, plus printed as poster size training aids for the RCAF squadrons involved. This was drawn by an RCAF artist named Davies, who worked under Sgt. Duchak.
Sgt. Duchak and his staff also produced hundreds of RCAF charts which appeared monthly in the Summary of Activities booklet. GEE was a British radio aid using three ground transmitting stations. H2S was an airborne ground-mapping radar aid to navigation and target identification.
It was time to return to Canada, where No. 6 [RCAF] Group would join the Americans in bombing Japan. This Canadian navigator is taking his RCAF files, and Allerton Hall is seen in the background.
This is the April 1945 [last] cover art created by Sgt. Duchak, with the RAF [left] and RCAF [right] flags flying from the “unofficial” badge of No. 6 [RCAF] Group, Yorkshire, England. This was created by Sgt. Duchak with the Canadian Maple Leaf superimposed over a white rose of York. This clever design symbolized the close association the Canadian Bomber crews had with the people of Yorkshire, from 25 October 1942 until 14 July 1945. This badge would now move to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and join the Americans to bomb the Japanese in the invasion of Japan.
On 25 October 1946, King George VI, gave authority to the official badge of No. 6 [RCAF] Group, Headquarters, with the motto – Sollertia et ingenium, [Initiative and Skill].
It’s amazing how close this official RCAF Headquarters badge is to the ‘unofficial’ badge created by Sgt. Duchak in 1944. This official badge was never used at Allerton Hall, [closed 14 July 45] in fact, No. 6 Group was disbanded at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on 1 September 1945. I’m not sure why this badge was even created, possibly ordered for official use by No. 6 [RCAF] Group as part of the upcoming bombing campaign against Japan in Tiger Force. Then the war suddenly ended and the badge was placed in files and forgotten, along with the art of Sgt. Duchak. Today some modern internet historians record this badge as the one used at Allerton Hall during WWII. That is wrong, and I hope this error can be corrected by my story on the man who created both No 6 Group unofficial badges.
These are the secret organization orders dated 20 July 1945, which officially transferred [advance H.Q.] No. 6 [RCAF] Group from Allerton Hall, Yorkshire, to the new headquarters at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 14 July 1945. They will now reorganize and train for the Pacific bombing campaign against Japan, as part of RAF “Tiger Force.”
Lost in all this official RCAF history, is the simple fact the “unofficial” No. 6 [RCAF] Group badge created by Sgt. Duchak at Allerton Hall, now served with pride in Canada, until 1 September 1945. [Six Weeks]
In November 1944, Sgt. Duchak featured his Allerton Hall Christmas Card on the cover for the Summary of Activities. He also created the table menu art work for the 1944 Christmas dinner at the castle.
The formation of No. 6 [RCAF] Group “Advanced Headquarters” took effect on 14 July 1945, at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. On 1 October 1945, the official “Handing Over” of Allerton Hall appeared in the Operations Record Book. The total strength at Allerton Hall Headquarters on 30 October 45, was 97. Made up of the following:
RCAF Officers 16
RAF Officers 1
RCAF [WD] Officers 5
RAF WAAF Officers 1
RCAF other Ranks 67
RAF other Ranks 6
RAF WAAF other Ranks 1
Disbandment of No. 6 [RCAF] Group, H.Q. [rear party] at Allerton Hall came into effect 1 November 1945.
Sgt. Duchak was posted to “R” Depot at Torquay, Devon. on 11 July 1945 [RCAF rear party] and attended Martin School of Art in London, and Warrington School of Art in Manchester, England, on what was recorded as “Temporary Duty in York.” He was repatriated to Canada on 18 February 1946, and released from the RCAF at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 15 April 1946. On 17 August 1947, he married Lois A. Ross in Regina, Saskatchewan, and moved to North Reading, Massachusetts, where they raised their family.
He appeared in several movies with Tom Tryon and Steve McQueen. John became an advertising artist with W.T. Grant and Company, S. S. Kresge Company and the F.W. Woolworth Company. In 1952, he served as a cartoonist for the Boston Bruins Hockey Team and completed cartoons for the book “Hockey Tip-Ins” by former Bruins Captain Ferny Flaman. In 1990, John and wife moved to Rockland, Maine, where he continued to draw and paint windows on the main street advertising Lobster Festival, Blues Festival, Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbor Shows.
RCAF WWII cartoonist Sgt. John “Napper” Dana Duchak passed away Tuesday, 25 September 2012, at Windward Gardens in Camden, Maine.
Like his fellow RCAF nose artists in WWII, official RCAF cartoonist Sgt. Duchak and his hundreds of drawings and paintings have been lost and forgotten by his country of birth and the official history of the RCAF. I hope to change that for you “Sarge.”
24 July 1921 – 25 September 2012
In 1946, Allerton Castle was returned to Lord Mowbray, who is described as still being a very difficult and domineering person. By 1960, Lord Mowbray was involved in a messy marriage break-up which affected the complete family and details can be read on the internet. When Lord Mowbray passed on in 1965, no provision was left in his will for his wife and the bulk of his estate was left his eldest grandson, Edward Stourton, who was just 12 years of age. For the next 30 years, the family estate and Allerton Park Castle, was run by trustees, then it was sold to an American businessman, Dr. Gerald Rolph, in 1983. After a tragic fire in January 2005, the castle has been restored to a high standard, which only the British can do in period style. All the details and breath taking images can be viewed on line, and yes, you should all take a look, most of all Canadians. Dr. Gerald Rolph has saved Allerton Castle, a Victorian Gothic house with history going back to the Norman conquest, and possibly unknown to him, he has also saved a small part of RCAF WW II history for Canadians. Guided tours of the main floors are available for visitors, and if you should take the tour and see the shape of a man drawing cartoons, don’t worry. It is just the ghost of Sgt. Duchak, hard at work. Somewhere in Allerton Park [Castle] there is a room, where this Canadian created all of his RCAF WWII cartoons, maps, and other paintings in 1944-45. And, if you should have a few in a British public house, near Allerton Castle, tip a pint for Canadian “Napper” Duchak. I wish I could join you.
Photo from my friend Ken Cothliff [Aviation Historian, Author, and Display Commentator] and the MG Car Club who meet at Allerton Castle. The orange MG belongs to Ken.
In 1999, the Greenwood Aviation Museum had in their collections, two original paintings by RCAF artist Sgt. John Duchak, and both were signed by the man in charge of RCAF Bomber Command, “Bomber” Harris. This would give them a little more value that an unsigned painting. On 17 March, I phoned the man in charge, [Mr. R.A. Johnson] and explained everything to him. In return he sent me his email and the attached message was sent.
To date, I have received no reply.
Next week my history of Sgt. John Duchak will appear on my Blog titled “Preserving the Past.” This research has been sent to Prof. Heather Hughes, International Bomber Command, and RAF Linton Museum [Wing Commander Al Mawby], in U.K.
In short, this is very important RCAF history that has been forgotten by Canada, and needs to be updated. During WWII, No. 6 [RCAF] Group never received any official badge or insignia, however Sgt. Duchak created both an ‘unofficial’ badge and insignia [March 1944] which was used at RCAF 6 Group H.Q. Allerton Castle [Hall] until 14 July 1945. On 15 July 1945, No. 6 [RCAF] Group was transferred from England to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and thus, this unofficial badge served in Canada until “Tiger Force” was disbanded on 1 September 1945. Greenwood, Nova Scotia, was part of the new formed Tiger Force and this badge also has a connection to your museum.
Can you please confirm, you still have the two original paintings by Sgt. Duchak, and if possible what they look like? I wish to use this in my history.
You are welcome to my complete history, if you wish?
Best regards – Clarence