Daily Archives: October 24, 2017

Dear Peter,

17 April, 1992

Dear Peter,

I have procrastinated long enough. I intended to write to you much sooner but I kept putting it off. Your letter of January 18th arrived about January 24th – Thank you for writing.

I appreciate your bringing me up to date on your dad’s history. We had no idea that he was married or had a family. I will attempt to answer your queries in the order that you asked.

It is many years since I visited Hamilton and the war plane museum was not in existence. However, I have contributed funds over the years to rebuild the plane that you saw. For your information, there is an official government war museum in our nation’s capital (Ottawa, Ontario) – My nephew an army officer and my ex-pilot Bob Boyle have informed me that the major attraction is a life-size replica of “P” for Panic”. I hope someday to see it if time and finances allow it.

Before I answer your questions, I shall give you a bit of trivia on how our Lanc got its name. Officially, aircraft lettering used the phonetic alphabet. We were assigned P – Peter. All documents used that term P – Peter. There might be some significance in the name you received – * (continued below)

Your dad, compared to the rest of the crew was a taciturn gentleman. I personally, probably knew him the best, as we were both senior N.C.O.s – the same mess and barracks – (barracks another story).

My memory is not as sharp as it was a few years ago but will try my best. We were blessed with an all around excellent crew. We, each in turn, proved that we were all conscientious and reliable. Your dad was probably the best flight engineer on the squadron. He had previous aeronautical engineering experience before re-mustering to aircrew.

(*) – I started to digress but will return to the subject. Our squadron’s call sign was “Nitro”. Our base call sign was “strapper”. Returning from a trip, the pilot or I would call on the radio – “quote” – “Strapper from Nitro P. for Peter – landing instructions please”. We used that terminology throughout landings and take-offs. Other crews used nicknames for their kites. (friends of ours changed their name from W-William to “W-The whore of the pack.

Upon our return one time our mid-upper gunner had not had a chance to “billy” and got out of the plane in a hurry to relieve himself. He sighed and said that we should call our aircraft “P for Relief”. The name stuck for sometime until one morning upon the return from a raid. The R.C. Padre met us at dispersal. He notified us that he was often in the control tower when our squadron returned checking on what aircraft made it back. The ladies in the control tower (R.A.F. types) or W.A.A.F.s (Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force) were requested to address us as we identified ourselves. The padre didn’t care but he said that the girls used to blush when he was there. He asked us if we would mind changing our call sign. He was a nice guy so we complied. We had had a particularly traumatic raid & once again the mid-upper gunner christened our aircraft P for Panic. The name stuck for all time.

OK, I’ll try to get this letter back to some form of continuity. Yes, there was apprehension before a raid – we tried not to show it but nevertheless it was there in all of us. (Another little digression) – It so happened that the very first raid that we were on was also the most terrifying (actually) – The Jerrys threw everything at us – Flak, ME 109s, we were combed by searchlight (thanks to Bob & your Dad) we managed to escape scarecrows – everything – We had been hit several times, thanks again to your Dad, we arrived back at base safely. Needless to say, we were a scared crew. When the other more experienced crews returned, they told us that we were lucky to have such a soft raid the first time out. We learned later that they were kidding us, as they had never had a worse experience. Strangely enough, even bad trips after that seemed comparatively mild after our fearful initiation.

Yes Peter, we had a number of close calls. I have managed to forget a great deal of things but your letter and questions seemed to help me recall. I don’t normally dwell on the war but my son John, 37 years of age who is a lawyer in Winnipeg and my youngest brother Dick have often asked questions. They know more about WWII than I do.

You asked what your Dad was like on raids (missions is an Americanism not generally used by R.A.F. or R.C.A.F.). Eric was a calming effect on the rest of the crew. He was probably scared spitless like the rest of us but he didn’t show it. Although I have seen him sweating under hazardous conditions and doing his job well.

The two gunners & your Dad were the “old men” of the crew. They were at or near thirtyish. The other 4 were just kids & I was the youngest.

Peter: You can be proud of your Dad’s experience. Take it from me who knew him the best, your Dad was a man! There are a number of stories to tell but it would take too much time to tell it all.

About crew reunions: We have seen each other individually from time to time however a few years ago the three of us and our wives got together here in the little village of Edberg, Alberta. We had exchanged Christmas cards & both the boys mentioned that they would be at or near Alberta in the summertime. I immediately wrote them and asked them to come here for a reunion. They both complied. We had a grand time.

As to another reunion, it seems very unlikely. You may not realize the immensity of Canada – Matheson lives 1,000 miles west of me and Boyle about 1,000 miles east. Hamilton Ontario is about another 2,000 miles east of Boyle. Bob & Matt are both 70 years of age & I will be 69 on April 24th.

In September or October this year my wife & I plan to motor to Winnipeg to visit my son. Bob and Beth Boyle have invited us to stop over in Portage-la-Prairie to visit them. We plan to do so if at all possible.

Peter, it was nice to hear from you. If you can see your way clear to write again, I would appreciate learning about your Dad, how he fared, how many children, your mother etc…etc…

If we should ever be fortunate enough to meet, we could then exchange a number of stories that I don’t necessarily relish putting on paper.

I am starting to get writers cramp so I’ll end this epistle for now. Respectfully,

Don McAmmond

Some logbook pages…with so much history

Here are four pages scanned from F/O Boyle’s logbook who was a pilot with 428 Ghost Squadron. They were scanned by Pete Jenner whose father Eric Jenner was the Flight Engineer.

Last time, Pete Jenner had shared this photo taken in 1991 with F/O Boyle and his wife.

Bob Boyle & Wife with Pete Jenner1991

Much more later…


On March 3, 1945, Flying Officer Boyle had just arrived at Middleton St. George.

3 March - 20 March 1945

His first sortie is on March 14 as a second dickie with Flight Lieutenant Quinn. On March 15 he takes off aboard NA-M for his second operation: Target Zweibrücken. 

22 March - 31 March 1945

March 31… Flying P for Peter.

Taken from Richard Koval’s Website.

March 31, 1945
100 Halifaxes from 408, 415, 420, 425, 426, and 432 squadrons were joined by 100 Lancasters from 419, 424, 427, 428, 429, 431, 433, and 434 on an attack at the Blohm & Voss shipyards at Hamburg. The crews were over the target at between 17,000 and 19,500 feet, releasing 1,908,000 lbs of high explosives. According to reports, the target was cloud covered but extensive damage was caused in the industrial area of Hamburg. The 6 group was in the last wave of the attack and were attacked by many ME-262s. 8 crews failed to return, mostly due to attacks by these aircraft.

428 Squadron

F/O R. Boyle from 428 squadron returned early as the port inner caught fire and the stbd outer was running poorly. They landed safely at base on 3 engines.
F/O D. Varden was hit by flak, there were holes in the port wing and bomb bay.
F/O D. Walsh and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-843 coded NA-D, were attacked by an ME-262, there was no claim or damage.
F/Lt R. Hay and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-794 coded NA-W, were attacked by an ME-262, there was no claim or damage.
F/O A. Mutch and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-864 coded NA-S, were attacked by an ME-262, there was no claim or damage.
F/O D. Brown and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-816 coded NA-E, were attacked by an ME-262, there was no claim or damage.
F/Sgt D. Desereux and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-764 coded NA-B, were attacked 3 times by ME-262s, there was no claim or damage.
F/O G. Johnson and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-879 coded NA-Y, were attacked by an ME-262, there was no claim or damage.
W/O2 R. Quinn and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-795 coded NA-Q, were attacked by an ME-262, there was no claim or damage.
F/O D. Payne and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-791 coded NA-A, fired on a ME-262 attacking another Lancaster, both gunners fired and strikes were seen, it burst into flame in the fuselage and wing root and spiraled vertically through the cloud below with pieces coming off.
W/Cdr M. Gall and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-838 coded NA-O, were attacked by an ME-262, there was no claim or damage.


3 April - 18 April 1945

April 25, flying NA-U… Target Wangerooge Island

1 Flak hole…

2 Halifaxes collided…

3 chutes…

20 April - 30 May 1945

A few days later, the war was over…