The First Vintage Flying Wings of Canada at Calgary, Alberta
Research by Clarence Simonsen
Flying Officer Jack Carter and his Lancaster KB760, NA-P for “Panic.”
Arthur John Edward “Jack” Carter was born in Wadena, Saskatchewan, on 16 April 1922. He graduated from High School in 1939, and enlisted in the RCAF at Saskatoon, Sask., on 8 May 1941. He spent four weeks at a manning depot where he was interviewed, tested, and lectured, plus long hours of drill where he learned to salute and march for the salary of $1.30 per day. After recruit training, he moved a step higher when he was selected for pilot training, which took him to three different training schools.
Jack was first posted to No. 4 Initial Training School, Edmonton, Alberta, graduated 5 August 1941, and arrived at No. 5 E.F.T.S. at Lethbridge, Alberta, where he graduated on 25 September 1941.
His final posting was to No. 7 Service Flying Training School at Fort Macleod, Alberta, where he graduated and received his wings on 19 December 1941. The entire pilot course was designed for twenty-seven weeks of training, however in 1941 the RCAF urgently needed pilots and the course was shortened to twenty-two weeks. The pilot failure rate at elementary training schools was 22.5 per cent, and that did not include students who could not complete the course due to sickness, injury and death.
Jack not only passed, he finished in the “above average” and was posted as a flight instructor to Central Flying School at Trenton for flying training and ground school. He became a flying Instructor at No. 6 E.F.T.S. at Prince Alberta, Sask., where he trained pupils until 8 June 1943, then returned for a refresher course.
Next he was posted to No. 2 Flying Instructors School at Pearce, Alberta, where he remained until 7 June 1944.
While Jack was busy training new pilots for duty in Canada and overseas, the number ninth RCAF Bomber Squadron was formed at Dalton, Yorkshire, England, on 7 November 1942. They took the official badge of a ‘ghost’, a designation earned through the hours of night bombing operations over Europe and Germany, bringing death and destruction to the Nazi enemy. The badge featured a death head in a shroud, with the motto “Usque ad finem” [to the very end].
No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron flew the Vickers Wellington B. Mk. III & Mk. X, Handley Page Halifax B Mk. V & Mk. II, and the Canadian built Avro Lancaster B. Mk. X on strategic and tactical bombing operations over Europe. On 26 November 1942, total squadron strength was – Aircrew RCAF 15, RAF 25, officers RCAF 47, RAF 66. Ground crew – 2 RCAF officers and 2 RAF officers, 24 RCAF other ranks and 203 RAF other ranks. Percentage of Canadian personnel was – Aircrew 68.13%, ground crew 12.68%.
No. 428 Squadron flew the RCAF’s first Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X operation on 14 June 1944. Percentage of Canadian RCAF aircrew was 73.20% and ground crew was 91.91%.
When the RCAF entered WWII they had on strength a very small number of flying-instructors, however these members had a sound tradition for pilot training, and in June 1942, three separate schools for flying instructors were created. No. 1 located a Trenton, Ontario, trained instructors on twin engine aircraft, No. 2 was first formed at Vulcan, Alberta, and later moved to ex-RAF school at Pearce, Alberta, training students in the powerful Harvard aircraft. The third school was located at Arnprior, Ontario, and they turned out instructors for elementary flying schools.
This cartoon appeared in the opening day program for No. 2 Flying Instructors School, Vulcan, Alberta, 30 October 1942. It’s humour clearly shows the duties of an RCAF flying instructor.
Many young RCAF pilots who had recently won their wings, objected to being posted as a flying instructor in Canada. More education was required to convince them they were needed even more in Canada as flying instructors. The wastage rate for training of flying instructors was twenty-one percent, and many of these were deliberate failures. This problem of discontent continued until March 1944, when some flying schools were closed, and experienced pilots were finally posted overseas. The RCAF command gave priority to flying instructors, and over five hundred were released for posting overseas, including F/O Jack Carter.
Jack had thoroughly mastered the art of flying during his two tours of instructional duty in Canada, and now he would take this experience into combat over Europe.
On 7 June 1944, he was posted to No. 17 SFTS at Souris, Manitoba, where he completed a refresher course, in preparation for overseas operational combat.
No. 17 SFTS published a weekly newsletter titled – “Out of the Scramble, hot off the tarmac.” It contained all the local news with many cartoons, and a first class pin-up lady in the Petty – Vargas style.
At 18:45 hrs. 26 June 44, the Coca Cola Victory Parade entertained the airmen and visitors with a forty-five-minute program, followed by a live CBC nationwide broadcast at 19:00 hrs. Mart Kenney and his band then supplied the music for a dance in the drill hall attended by 1,400 RCAF members. This was the last entertainment for P/O Carter, in twenty-one days Jack would be in England, and seventeen days later flying a Canadian built Lancaster bomber over Germany.
No. 428 Squadron moved from Dalton, Yorkshire, to No. 64 [RCAF] Base at Middleton St. George, Yorkshire, on 4 June 1943. One year later, 17 July 1944, F/O Jack Carter [he was promoted from Pilot Officer to Flying Officer] and his crew arrived at Middleton St. George.
F/O Carter flew his first operation as “Second Dickey” to F/O Nicholl-Carne J27904, in Lancaster Mk. X, code “L”, serial KB725, on 3 July 1944.
Second Dickey – was the RAF slang given to a new pilot who flew his first operation with a fully operational-seasoned crew, which gave the new Captain experience before he took his own crew on their first operation. On this first sortie as Captain of the Lancaster KB725, Flying Officer Jack Carter had an engine burst into flame shortly after leaving his base at Middle St. George. The Lancaster lost height but F/O Carter proceeded to the target at Bois de Cassan, France, and executed his successful bombing attack. He returned safely to base and his determination and devotion to duty was recorded in the 428 Operation Record book.
Jack was not the normal pilot flying his first operation, as he had completed two flying training instructional tours in Canada. In May 1942, the minimum instructional tour was twelve months and this was gradually extended to eighteen months. In 1943, the RCAF found it impossible to find competent instructors, in both the number required and pilot devoted to their training duty. Commanding officers at service flying training schools were directed to point out that selection as a flying instructor was a tribute to their own ability to fly and also teach new pupils. Jack Carter became a senior flying instructor who was mild mannered with pupils, unassuming, and devoted to his duty of training new young men to fly. While some RCAF flying instructors were frustrated and a small number were inclined to take it out on their pupils, the majority performed their task with conscientiously. Hundreds of these ex-flying instructors would prove themselves in combat with an outstanding record and a very low casualty rate. F/O Jack Carter was one such pilot and now we can follow his operational record with No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron and his Lancaster aircraft NA-P for Peter, which soon became P for “Panic.”
9 August 1944, the first time the crew of Jack Carter were assigned to fly Lancaster KB760, with call sign “P for Peter.”
On 18/19 August 1944, 100 bombers were despatched on operations to Bremen, Germany. Five aircraft aborted the operation and 94 struck the primary target, with one shot down. This became the 2000th sortie flown by No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron and Lancaster KB760 would carry a special decorated bomb [cookie] which would be dropped on Bremen for this event. Just before take off a photo was taken of five ground crew and two flight crew. The two aircrew officers in the center were [left] bomb aimer F/O W.C. Chester from Lethbridge, Alberta, and on his right was his pilot F/O A. J. Carter from Regina, Saskatchewan.
The Ghost Squadron Operational Record Book records the special bombing of Bremen, Germany, 18/19 August 1944, and the selected crew.
This is a copy of the newspaper clipping Jack Carter had in 1986, and it shows a badge on the nose of KB760, which appears to be some type of nose art. It is in fact the official badge of the “Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire.”
In 1899, a young Canadian lady was in England and she became swept up in the British wave of patriotic support for the soldiers of the British Empire. Her name was Margaret Polsen Murray, and when she returned to Canada to began to organise a women’s support group of colonial patriotism. On 15 January 1900, the founding meeting of the first Canadian chapter was held in Fredericton, New Brunswick. On 13 February 1900, a meeting was held in Montreal, Quebec, and a national organization was formed called the “Federation of the Daughters of the Empire” who designed the above official badge.
Forty-three years later, the Toronto Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, adopted No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron at Dalton, Yorkshire, England. For the official photo of the 2,000th sortie flown by 428 squadron, the badge of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire was painted on the bomber nose, and flew the operation to bomb Bremen, Germany, pilot Jack Carter. This was not nose art created by the crew, and was only used to show their adopted “Daughters of the Empire” in the public relations photo, which the squadron understood would appear nationwide in Canadian newspapers. After the operation to bomb Bremen, Germany, the new Commanding Officer of 428 Squadron, W/C Chester Hull, DFC, informed P/O Jack Carter, Lancaster KB760, P for Peter would now be his own bomber.
On the 1 September 1944, P/O Jack Carter was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The award took effect on 3 October 1944, and was presented to Jack on 22 February 1947.
On 6 September 1944, the P/O Carter crew begin operations in ‘their’ Lancaster, KB760, NA-P.
The crew first changed their call sign to “P for Panic” and named their Lancaster Panic Inn, directed at P/O Carter, who they nicknamed Pilot/Officer Prune.
This famous cartoon character was created for the WWII RAF training magazine called Tee Emm, founded on 1 April 1940, by Anthony Armstrong Willis. Anthony Willis was born in Esquimalt, British Columbia, Canada, on 2 January 1897, but spent the majority of his adult life in England. He became a famous British author of crime novels, historical books, humorous short stories, plays, radio and film scripts., under the name Anthony Armstrong.
In 1940, he founded the RAF training manual or magazine TEE EMM, and served as its editor until its demise in 1946. The drawings of the famous P/O Percy Prune, and his humorous adventures in the RAF in fact saved hundreds of lives during WWII. The famous P/O Prune was created by an RAF General Duties clerk who had a growing reputation for his aviation cartoons, his name was Aircraftsmen W. J. Hooper RAFVR. If you find original copies of TEE EMM they are a gem, and the book “Pilot Officer Prune” published in 1991, by Tim Hamilton is also a keeper. You can also obtain the complete collection in CD format, which can be purchased online from England.
This is the introduction to the book by Anthony Armstrong, titled “Prune’s Progress” February 1943.
P/O Jack Carter’s crew understood their Captain was one of the best qualified pilots in the RCAF and in naming him P/O Prune, well, it was in fact a humorous compliment. They decided to record each and every operation flown by Lancaster KB760, with a white bomb, and out of a tour of 30 operations, Jack and his crew flew 17 in ‘their’ bomber, NA-P for Panic. Op. #12, #17, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24. #25, # 26, #27, #28, #33, #34, #36, #37, #41 and # 42.
P/O Jack Carter became the “Canadian” P/O Prune flying his “Panic Inn.”
In September 1944, the crew painted the Starboard side, [right side] with their new call sign “P for Panic” in bright red, and beside the large white “P” the outline in white of a ghost and words Ghost Sqdn.
The rear door to the Lancaster received the sign “Panic Inn” red letters. [Jack Carter collection, England, September 1944]
Rear gunner art – “The Ghost Speaks.”
On 21/22 November 1944, 230 RCAF bombers struck Castrop-Rauxel and six returned early, four were shot down. No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron sent 20 Lancaster bombers, and this became the last  operation for P/O Jack Carter. His crew were on their 30th operation, the seventeenth flown in their bomber, NA-P for Panic, KB760.
P/O Carter and crew were screened and returned to Canada, while their Lancaster KB760 would fly 30 more operations with 20 different RCAF crews.
On 31 March 1945, the crew of F/O Boyle were assigned to fly KB760 to bomb Hamburg, Germany, the fifth operation for the new crew, the sixth for their Captain. They were forced to turn back to base when they lost an engine. On 4/5 April 45, the Boyle crew flew their only operation in “P for Panic” when they attacked Merseburg, Germany. On 25 April 45, F/L Googe and crew flew KB760 to Wangerooge, Germany, as the Canadian Group sent 192 bombers as part of 482 that attacked the coastal batteries at the eastern end of the Frisian Island chain. The last Canadian bomber from No. 6 [RCAF] Group to return to base was NA-D [D for Dolly] KB843, F/L D.R. Walsh from No. 428 Squadron. When F/L Walsh touched down at 20:36 hrs. the long Canadian Bomber Group’s war had come to an end.
” P for Panic” was now coming home to Canada carrying all her original P/O Carter aircraft markings.
In September 1944, the Canadian Cabinet War Committee began to prepare for a new fight, joining the Americans in the invasion of the Japanese home islands. The formation of the 6th Canadian Army Division, with 30,000 combat ready troops who had fought in Europe, were being rushed home to Canada, given thirty days leave, and then shipped to Okinawa in the Pacific. The advanced air element of RAF “Tiger Force” would consist of one RAF Mosquito and nine Lancaster squadrons, five would be RAF, two from Canada, and one from Australia. RCAF Overseas Headquarters wanted No. 419 and No. 428 squadrons to be ready for bombing operations against Japan on 1 January 1946, and ordered they be returned to Canada as soon as possible. No. 428 became the first squadron selected for return to Canada, leaving Middleton St. George on 31 May 1945. This is their official order of arrival back home.
On 2 June 1945, personnel of No. 6 [RCAF] Group Advance Headquarters arrived at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to discuss the establishment of a Lancaster bomber “Wing” , which would proceed to the Pacific Threatre of operations, after a period of training at this station. In the afternoon, a conference was held in the office of the Commanding Offcier, at which time plans were formed for the reception of personnel scheduled to arrive aboard the Lancaster aircraft from Overseas.
Daily Diary – At 19:00 hrs., 8 June 1945, nine four-engine Lancaster bombers appeared out of the north sky, and slowly one after another began to let down and land at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The serial numbers were – KB757, KB843, KB891, KB848, KB744, KB920, KB864, KB781 and KB747.
F/O David Walsh and crew [KB843] touch down at Yarmouth, N.S. 8 June 1945. [D. Walsh collection via Lisa Sharp]
This is the Lancaster which flew No. 6 [RCAF] Group’s last offensive operation on 25 April 1945, crew F/O David Walsh, Sgt. Ted Taylor, F/Sgt. Norm Pratt, P/O Ken Daley, F/O Jim Hope, F/O Jim Harris and F/O Arnold Lindsay. Passenger to Canada was F/O D. J. Lindsay from Brantford, Ontario. [30 days leave – 9 June 45]. F/L S.V. Eliosoff lands KB891 [below].
Pilot F/L A. L. Googe taxies KB920, Yarmount, N.S. 8 June 45. Crew – WO2 A.J. Myers, F/O K.G. Poole, WO2 C.F. Parr, F/O W.K. Todd, WO2 R.N. Thompson, F/O W.C. Hinkle, F/O R. B. Fereaux, passengers – F/L N. Nagon, and Cpl. V.A. R. Nalnquist.
The first Ghost Squadron bomber to arrive KB920, pilot Googe shuts off his engines. [D. Walsh via L. Sharp] Flown to Pearce, Alberta, departed Yarmouth, 7 Sept. 45, by ferry crew F/L Brown.
The Yarmouth Daily Diary records the “over-shoot” by P/O E.T. Lewis, “Madam X”, KB747, 8 June 45. On 4 Sept. 45, she will be flown to Debert, N. S. by ferry crew of S/L MacDonell, then to Pearce, Alberta.
Flown to Pearce, Alberta, departed Yarmouth, 7 Sept. 45, ferry crew F/L H. E. Batty.
KB846 “S for Sugar” arrived with the first nine aircraft on 8 June 45. She spent eight hours at Gander getting a tire changed, and carried a crew of ten with three passengers, the most of all the aircraft. Her famous nose art was painted by my friend P/O Thomas Walton.
I first met Tom Walton in Nanton, July 1997 and we have remained friends to the present day. At age 94 years, Tom lives in Northern Ontario, where he spends may hours fishing, and enjoying the freedom of Canada, which he fought to save for all of us. I believe Thomas Walton is the only living RCAF No. 6 [Group] Nose Artist, and one of the finest Canadian veterans I have ever met.
The bomb record was a British ‘Jerry [PEE] pot’, which rained on Germany eighteen times.
On Sunday 10 June 1945, twenty more Lancaster aircraft landed at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This included the first bombers of No. 419 [Moose] Squadron and three more from 428 [Ghost] Squadron. One of these was KB867, piloted by F/L A. S. Webb, “L for Lanky.”
Lanky was flown to Ottawa on 12 June 45, winterized and remained with No. 2 Air Command, Winnipeg, until struck off charge by RCAF 15 April 1948, and sold for scrap.
The only accident of thirty-eight Lancaster bombers which landed at Yarmouth, N. S., was No. 419 “F” KB783. It had rained for two days and when KB783 did an over-shoot, the soft ground caused her to nose – over. Scrapped 26 November 1947.
The famous KB772 “Ropey” who arrived a Yarmouth on 10 June 45, then to Greenwood, N. S. on 4 Sept. and finally to Pearce, Alberta, 14 September 45. One of only two Lancaster Mk. X’s which carried shark teeth on her four Merlin engines.
This is KB772, No. 419 [Moose] Squadron at Middleton St. George in late May 1945. After flying 64 operations she was scrapped on 13 May 1947, and a valuable part of RCAF history just slipped away. Today, this lost history is being reborn by the “Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum” in Hamilton, Ontario. In the past three years, they began repainting their Mynarski Lancaster in our lost WWII nose art colors. I can’t say enough about their decision to fly and save history, just look at the images and you will understand. This special two-day event occurs each year on “Father’s Day”, honouring No. 6 [RCAF] Group World War Two.
A special thanks to Lisa Sharp [ex-ground crew member] for the images, and for keeping our Canadian Lancaster safely flying for so many years, now preserving RCAF nose art history. Lisa was also one of the original members who suggested they preserve our Lancaster nose art heritage. Her grandfather flew KB721, “Linden Rose” in No. 419 Squadron during WWII.
On 10 June 1945, F/O W. J. Smith landed VR-B, “Linden Rose” KB721, at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, as part of Tiger Force. [photo from Lisa Sharpe – in her grandfather’s collection] Thanks to the efforts of Peter Whitfield, a replica nose art on original WWII Lancaster skin was presented to Lisa for her grandmother.
The crew of “P for Panic” KB760, arrived late 12 June 1945, due to bad weather, and their photo appeared in the Daily Diary for that date. Note the Panic Inn painted by Jack Carter crew.
On arrival at Yarmouth, N. S. each member of F/O Boyle crew posed beside the tail art, including their Captain. On leaving Middleton St. George, 31 May 45, Boyle and crew headed for St. Mawgan, Cornwall, England, the departure point for the Lancaster’s making the Atlantic crossing to Canada. They remained at St. Mawgan for six days until the weather cleared, then flew to Lajes in the Azores on 7 June 45. Adverse weather forced them to turn back and they left for Gander, Newfoundland, on 8 June, a seven and one half hour flight, fuel at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and after a weather delay, final destination Yarmouth on 12 June 1945. Under a special arrangement between the RCAF and Victory Aircraft, Toronto, they flew KB760 to the plant where she was built, one year earlier.
On 13 June 1945, Boyle and his crew flew KB760 to Victory Aircraft Ltd. at Malton, Ontario.
On arrival at RCAF Station Yarmouth, N. S. on 8 June 45, their Daily Diary recorded the words on the bomb bay door of P for Panic.
P for Panic hit old Jerry, in every conceivable place. The war in Europe is over and gone. Let’s get cracking on that YELLOW race.
This message was read by thousands at Malton, who understood this very Lancaster they built was now going to war to bomb Japan.
“P for Panic” code NA-P, serial KB760, remained at Malton for the next four days, and her crew received a tremendous welcome from the employees who built the Canadian Lancaster and the citizens of Toronto. Hundreds of photos were taken of this veteran WWII bomber and her crew. On 18 June 45, KB760 was returned to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and the Boyle crew departed for 31 days’ leave at different parts of Canada. In late July 45, the RCAF bomber crews returned for training in the strategic air bombing of Japan.
Today historians know the Japanese fierce determination to fight against the Allied invasion of their home islands would cost millions of lives, as they were committed to mass suicide. The vast area bombing of Japan by the American Air Force had already taken millions of lives, and now it has been estimated another 10,000,000 would be killed by the Allied bombers including the Lancaster aircraft in “Tiger Force.” The true number will never be known, only because of two American atomic bombs, which at a huge cost, [in lives and money] brought peace to our world.
To today’s political correct generation and Government controlled War Museum’s, the strategic bombing of WWII appears a cruel way to win a world war. The simple fact is, in 1945, there was no other way to win the war other than invasion by ground troops, supported by air power. Then on 6 August 1945, the first atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, followed by a second dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 45. The Japanese were forced [Yes, I said Forced] to accept the Allied forces terms of surrender on 15 August, with the official signing on 2 September 1945. [It took the leaders of Japan five days to realize they would suffer the same fate as their people, if they continued to fight].
The figures don’t really matter, the fact remains tens of millions of Japanese lives were saved, along with millions of American, British, and Canadian lives. No. 6 [RCAF] Group as part of “Tiger Force” were prepared to again do the dangerous, and dirty job of bombing the enemy. Many were troubled by the morality of bombing cities and killing civilians, yet they had no choice to save, protect, and defend our civilization. Japan surrendered, No. 6 [RCAF] Group was disbanded before they could commence training, and World War Two was over.
Today the mass carpet bombing of WWII cities has gone forever, we have smart bombs, but war is still a cruel force, that kills innocent civilians. Only the leaders of countries can prevent war, the direct result of greed, land, power, and today more than ever religion.
Most of the veterans from No. 6 [RCAF] Group have now passed away and the survivors are in the 93 to 95 year of age range. Our politicians are slowly drifting away from these old men who contributed so much to the air wars over Europe and our museums are not painting ‘their’ aircraft correctly, including “P for Panic.” Canada will never again have an Air Force or Bomber Group like World War Two, the best force of young men and women this country ever raised, the finest volunteer generation. They will always have a special place in Canadian history and today we must also attempt to protect our Canadian built Lancaster, that gave such an outstanding service to our airmen during World War Two.
The Lancaster Mk. X also demonstrated to the world that Canada could manufacture a large, modern, four-engine war machine, even if the Merlin engines had to be produced in the United States.
In June and July 1945, 288 Lancaster Mk. X aircraft returned to Canada, most were veteran survivors, while others had never been assigned to an RCAF unit in England.
With the end of WWII, these bomber veterans became worthless aircraft, and many would be cut up and destroyed. They were now flown west to Pearce, Alberta, for long-term storage, and scrapping in 1947.
On 7 September 1945, the first fifteen Lancaster bombers departed Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, Pearce, Alberta. They were a mixture on No. 419 and No. 428 bombers, with KB878 lifting off at 14:25 hrs.
The Lancaster Ferry Crews were made up of four members – Pilot, Navigator, Flight engineer, and Wireless air gunner. Thirty crews were selected and each given a number, two crews were held as spare aircrew. F/O R. L. Boyle was pilot of crew number 22, assigned to fly Lancaster KB760, “P for Panic.”
Beginning at 14:25 hours each Lancaster departed Yarmouth, N. S. at one-minute intervals for the three-hour plus flight to St. Hubert Airport, Montreal, Quebec. The take-off order was as follows –KB878, KB923, KB794, KB889, KB744, KB920, KB915, KB 917, KB781 KB848, KB860, KB746, KB854, KB945, and KB884.
All fifteen Lancaster aircraft arrived safely at Montreal, the last touch-down at 17:46 hours. These became the first aircraft to arrive at Pearce, Alberta, on 8 September 45. While these aircraft were landing in Alberta, the last group of fifteen bombers departed Yarmouth, N. S. at 13:38 hours, for Montreal. The take-off order is recorded as – KB857, KB891, KB927, KB839, KB865, KB838, KB760 [P for Panic] KB882, KB864, KB732, KB843, KB968, KB 841, KB881, and KB851, which was flown by P/O Connelly to Debert, N. S. [Reason unknown] The last fourteen Lancaster bombers arrived at Pearce, Alberta, on 9 September 1945.
The bombers remained over night at St. Hubert, Quebec, the next stop RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba, for fuel [above] and then on to Pearce, Alberta. It is possible the bombers stopped at Calgary for fuel and then proceeded to Pearce. [that has not been confirmed] This would become the last stop for many of these veteran WWII proud No. 6 [RCAF] Group bombers.
Pearce, Alberta, had been constructed as No. 36 Elementary Flying Training School for the Royal Air Force and opened on 30 March 1942. The southern Alberta high wind conditions became a daily problem for the British students and the school was closed on 14 August 1942. On 3 May 1943, Pearce opened as RCAF No. 2 Flying Instructor’s School, which moved from Vulcan, Alberta. The base closed 20 January 1945, reopened 1 September, as temporary No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite.
Pearce, Alberta, dust storm in August 1943, below No. 102 R.E.M.S 1945.
Beginning on 8 September 1945, fifteen veteran Lancaster Mk. X bombers were flown to Pearce, Alberta, in preparation for long-term storage at other selected RCAF Stations in the Province. On 9 September, fifteen more bombers arrived. By 15 September, they formed three long rows and most contained ‘nose art’ from No. 6 [RCAF] Group. These were the cream of the crop that flew the war torn skies over Europe. [Ray Wise images taken after 15 September 45]
The Daily Diary of No. 1 R.E.M.U. [Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit] at Lethbridge, Alberta reported thirty more Lancaster aircraft arrived on 13 September, followed by sixteen more on the morning of 14 September, with fifteen more expected to arrive that same evening. That brings the total to 91 Lancaster bombers, eight more than the 83 total Ray Wise gave me during my interview.
This is KB918, “Owl Be Seeing Ya” which was assigned to No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron in early April 1945. In mid-May the bomber was transferred to No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron and became KW-P, flown back to Debert, Nova Scotia, with the Snowy Owl original nose art.
This photo was taken at Pearce, Alberta, by Ray Wise, after 15 September 45.
Along with their nose art, many were scrapped and forgotten by RCAF history. This was painted at Linton-on-Ouse in England, No. 408 Squadron KB979, EQ-L. Photo taken at Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she is being placed into long-term storage spring 1946. Scrapped 27 January 1948.
A staff of four were sent to Pearce, and each day they had to start all of the four Merlin engines on 83 to 91 Lancaster bombers. The NCO in charge was Cpl. Edge, LAC Cook [in cockpit], LAC Wyers, [left] and LAC Ray Wise, hand on prop. [the man who supplied his collection for preserving RCAF history]
LAC Wyers, Cpl. Edge, and LAC Cook stand in front of the most famous Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X which completed a record 84 operations and shot down two confirmed German fighters. The date is 10 September 1945, photo taken by LAC Ray Wise. Placed into long-term storage at RCAF Station Calgary, it was removed, struck off charge by RCAF and unceremoniously scrapped 15 May 1948.
On 8 September 45, F/O Boyle flew “P for Panic” to Pearce and parked her. Two days later Cpl. Edge is running up her engines, possibly the last image ever taken. Scrapped 16 January 1947.
It was a Sunday afternoon, mid 1990’s, and I was painting Willie McKnight’s Hurricane on a wall in the Aero Space Museum of Calgary. A 93-year-old visitor from British Columbia stopped and we began to chat, his name was Ray Wise. He told me how he recorded most of the nose art on the Lancaster bombers at Pearce, Alberta, in September 1945, and he would send me the box of images, some were water stained. Without any due thought by Canadian RCAF and Government authorities, our Lancaster history was allowed to slip away and no photos were taken. Thanks to Ray Wise, at least his photo images have helped preserved a good part of our Canadian built Lancaster nose art heritage.
Lancaster KB746, VR-S No. 419 Squadron, Sierra Sue was a photo winner.
I keep an artist fact sheet on nose art and this is KB746. She flew with 419 [Moose] Squadron, a true WWII veteran the Germans could not shoot down, she never left Alberta, scrapped 16 January 1947.
In 1947, Jack Carter had joined his brother-in-law at Gallant Motors in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and he had no idea his old bomber KB760 was soon to be scrapped. Ten years later, Jack became sole owner of the dealership and the name changed to Century Motors. In 1962, Jack sold his business and moved to Calgary, Alberta, where he built and established “Jack Carter Chev Olds”, located at Glenmore Trail and Macleod Trail.
In 1967, the Air Museum of Canada [Calgary] was defunct and the aircraft are being sold to interested parties, with the understanding they keep their mouth shut. In Ottawa, plans for a new national RCAF aviation museum have been taking place since 1961, then in 1964 the idea was dropped for another government museum. In 1965, the National Aeronautical collection was established in the old RCAF hangars at Rockcliffe, and they begin looking for important Canadian aircraft. A Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft was located and flown to Rockcliffe, Ontario, her serial number is KB944.
Image obtained in Ottawa in 1977
This is what KB944 looked like at Rockcliffe, Ontario, in 1967, wearing her postwar markings with 404 [M.P.] Squadron based at Greenwood, Nova Scotia. In WWII this Lancaster was flown to England on 8 March 1945, and in May, [after end of war] became one of twenty new Canadian built Lancaster aircraft assigned to No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron, the only French-Canadian Squadron in No. 6 [RCAF] Group, RAF Bomber Command.
No. 425 Squadron flew the British built Vickers Wellington and Handley Page Halifax bombers during WWII, the last operation on 25 April 45, when eighteen Halifax Mk. III bombers struck the German gun positions at the Island of Wangerooge. These Halifax bombers were decorated with French-Canadian nose art and few original panels survive. No. 420 Snowy Owl and No. 425 Alouette squadrons were still flying the old Halifax Mk. III bomber when the war came to an end 8 May 1945. When you read the battle orders, you will find as other RCAF squadrons received British built or new Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X bombers, they passed their old Halifax veterans on to No. 425 Alouette to fly. The French-Canadian Alouette Squadron never flew the Canadian Lancaster Mk. X bomber on operations during WWII, and that would later become a political problem in Ottawa early 2002.
Halifax Mk. III, serial NP-957 was received new by No. 427 Squadron on 9 September 1944, and went on to fly 40 operations, the last on 25 February 1945. In March, 427 received new British built Lancaster bombers. NP-957 was then transferred to No. 429 Squadron and flew three operations until 13 March 1945. In mid-March, 429 received new British built Lancaster bombers. On 16 March 45, the old Halifax was transferred to No. 425 Alouette and would fly ten more operations as KW-Q, the last in WWII on 25 April 1945, pilot F/O Nezan to bomb Wangerooge.
A most talented tail gunner in 425 squadron, Raymond St-Onge, decided to decorate the veteran Halifax bomber and completed an amazing painting “Ville de Quebec.” [photo Pierre Lagacé]
F/Sgt. Raymond St-Onge was the rear gunner on the crew of F/L J. R. Laporte #J6958.
Collection Jacques Pacifique Lamontagne courtesy Laurent Lamontagne
They were posted to No. 425 Squadron on 23 December 1944, flying their first operation in Halifax NA527 “A” on 2 January 1945. On 15/16 March 45, they were shot down flying Halifax PN172, “G”, parachuted into Allied lines and returned to base. F/Engineer Sgt. J. R. Arcand did not leave the plane and was killed in the crash.
The crew had completed nineteen operations when the war ended. They flew in nine different Halifax bombers but were never assigned NP957, KW-Q for “Ville de Quebec.” I believe this was painted between 25 March to 4 April 1945, when Halifax Mk. III, NP957 flew no operations.
As soon as the war came to an end on 8 May 1945, the British Government created large aircraft storage maintenance units in England. One of the largest became the ex-Halifax aircraft repair unit located at Croft, Yorkshire, named No. 43 Group, Rawcliffe. Beginning in early May 45, 1,376 Halifax surplus bombers were flown to the airfield and scrapping began at once. RCAF French-Canadian pilots delivered their old 425 squadron Halifax bombers to Croft and returned to base, knowing their WWII nose art was gone forever. The RAF records show 811 Mk. II, MK. III, and MK. V, Halifax bombers were scrapped at Croft, including 533 Halifax Mk. III aircraft, and all of the Alouette veteran aircraft. A huge pile of cut up aircraft metal reached 80 feet in height and could be seen from the nearby village of Rawcliffe. These chopped-up metal sections also contained the best of our RCAF World War Two Halifax nose art paintings.
Halifax NP957 flew her last operation on 25 April, ready for disposal on 6 May, and was flown to No. 43 Group at Rawcliffe, Yorkshire, on 14 May 1945. This photo was captured by RCAF Officer Harold Lindsay a few days later, and you can see the wings and engines from the WWII bombers have been chopped off. This RCAF officer photographed all the Canadian Halifax nose art and selected fourteen for return to Canada, where they arrived in July 1946. We can all thank F/L Lindsay for his efforts in selecting and preserving our past, including this impressive painting created in England by nose artist Raymond St-Onge. This panel remained in storage in Hull, Quebec, for the next 42 years, then in September 1988, seventy-year old veteran Raymond St-Onge was informed his nose art survived and was going on display at the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa. [In 1982, the National Aeronautical Museum was renamed the National Aviation Museum] This original Halifax Mk. III nose art panel was moved in 2004, and hangs today in our Canadian War Museum, sadly with little WWII history to educate our youth or world aviation historians.
Source Pierre Lagacé
I have been researching the fourteen nose art panels since 1977 and from time to time saw one or two originals. In 2005, I visited the War Museum and observed the complete collection at once, they are mix of styles, by many different forgotten RCAF artists from WWII, but Ville de Quebec is a pure work of French-Canadian art.
No. 420 Snowy Owl Squadron shared the base at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, with No. 425 Alouette Squadron, both flying Halifax Mk. III bombers. On 1 April 1945, No. 420 squadron began to receive their first Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft, with ground crew training beginning on 10 April, followed the next day when six crews began flight training. By 30 April, Snowy Owl squadron had received 24 bombers and a number of these were receiving new nose art images. No. 420 received nineteen new bombers, and five old veteran bombers, four of these were now transferred to her sister squadron, No. 425. [KB902, KW-C, KB917, KW-E, KB918, KW-P, and KB903 KW-R] The first Canadian Lancaster arrived at No. 425 Squadron on 1 May 45, and by the end of the month, Alouette Squadron had received on charge, twenty Canadian built Lancaster bombers. The crews began training flights for the trans-Atlantic flight to Canada.
On 1 May 45, No. 425 Alouette Squadron received their first Canadian built Lancaster, possibly PT-A, KB894. Flight/Sgt. Raymond St-Onge, the squadron nose artist, began to decorate the new Lancaster bombers with French-Canadian nose paintings. This is a full story on its own, so I will only give a few samples.
Lancaster KB894 was a new aircraft which received the code KW-A for Alouette. This is the nose art created by F/Sgt. St-Onge. [Photo Richard Koval collection]
KB903 was first assigned to No. 420 as PT-P then came to Alouette and became KW-R Rabbit’s Stew. Painted by F/Sgt. St-Onge. [Photo – Richard Koval collection]
New Lancaster KB924 “T for Tarzan” KW-T, was most impressive work by F/Sgt. St-Onge.
He followed this with KB931, KW-S for Samson, and his little dog.
All twenty of the 425 Squadron Lancaster bombers received some form of art on the nose, while KB915 KW-H sported just the name “Happy Hoolican”. Artist is unknown.
Lancaster KB944, KW-K was the only nose art to have both English and French, and in May 1945, just an innocent painting done by an unknown French-Canadian artist. When the war ended, KB944 was flown to Pearce, Alberta, placed into long-term storage at McLeod and forgotten. In 1952, K for King was flown to Fairey Aviation in Halifax, her old painted was removed along with the nose art, and she was restored to a Mk.10MR/MP Maritime Reconnaissance/Patrol, flying with 404 Squadron at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, until 1956.
In March 1955, the old Lancaster Mk. X bombers were being replaced by the American Lockheed Neptune patrol aircraft and #944 was placed into reserve storage at Dunnville, Ontario, in 1957. In 1966, the new Canadian National Aeronautical collection discovered her and she was transferred to RCAF Station Rockcliffe, where #944 was officially handed over to the museum. [above photo at Rockcliffe] In 1967, the powers to be in Ottawa decided to paint KB944 in Second World War colours of a famous No. 6 [RCAF] Group bomber, and they decided on KB760 from No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron, “P for Panic.” [below 1967] The Lancaster was never painted correctly.
In 1963, I was stationed at Kingston, Ontario, as a member of the “Canadian Provost Corps” Army Military Police. In May of that year, I was sent to Ottawa as part of the Quebec F.L.Q. crisis, my first visit to our nation’s capital city, and Quebec. By 1975, I was a ten-year veteran of the Metro Toronto Police Force, making my first visit to the old Canadian War Museum and the Canadian National Aeronautical collection in the WWII hangars at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario. I saw our Canadian Lancaster but had very limited knowledge of nose art or No. 6 [RCAF] Group at that time. It was during this trip, I learned I could pay to have someone do WWII research for me or I could travel to Ottawa, stay in a motel, do my research, pay for photocopies and photos, etc. That’s what I decided to do, and two years later, I made my return research trip to Ottawa. In the Canadian War Museum, I was lucky enough to meet the Deputy Curator of Collections and Research, Mr. Hugh A. Halliday. He invited me into his office and for the next 30 minutes explained where to go and what I would fine on nose art and RCAF records, a huge boost to my early research from an expert himself. In the next few years, I began to record and interview veterans from the RCAF and learned to my surprise, the Lancaster in our National Collection was in fact painted incorrectly. It soon became clear that some bureaucrat in charge of the Rockcliffe collection had objected to the World War Two art bestowed on the original KB760, and only painted one-third of the bomber nose, in the wrong color yellow and not even close to WWII replica. In 1977, the Canadian National Aeronautical Collection was in fact our equal to the American Smithsonian, well to Canadian thinking, and I was positive this error would be corrected in time. In the next nine years, I became totally involved in nose art research and publishing two books on this subject, I just forgot about the improper painting of KB944 as KB760 in Ottawa.
The Calgary Lancaster FM136, painted as “P for Panic” in 1991
Then in 1986, with the re-painting of the Calgary Lancaster FM136 as KB760 “P for Panic” and learning the history from the original pilot Jack Carter, I decided something must be done to correct the error in Ottawa. We had two Lancaster aircraft in Canada, both painted as “P for Panic” and both were painted incorrectly. To make matters even worse, neither museum [Ottawa or Calgary] displayed any history beside the WWII bombers. November 1986, I sent a letter to Mr. Hugh Halliday at the Canadian War Museum. The reply is attached.
A follow-up letter [with images] was sent to Mr. Bob Bradford but no reply was ever received. It soon became clear, I needed help from some organization, or V.I.P., as it was just impossible to find anyone interested. In November 2005, I donated a replica WWII Halifax bomber nose art panel to be auctioned off at an Ottawa charity event called “Cocktails for Cancer.” At the end of the evening, my nose art sold for $4,400.00.
At this same charity event, I learned for the first time, that 425 “Alouette” Squadron Association, headed by Honorary Colonel Paul Bourdages, were attempting to have Lancaster KB944 painted in the original WWII colors of No. 425 Squadron, with the nose art “King of the Air.”
The real story behind the Lancaster
in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum…KW-K “King of the Air.”