Eugene Gagnon unknowingly led me to Allan Todd.
Allan Todd unknowingly led me to Eugene Gagnon.
I never met that man.
Eugene Gagnon receiving his wings
Collection Jacques Gagnon
But I met his nephew.
I never met this man also.
Collection LeVerne Haley’s family
Use only with permission
Writing about Eugene Gagnon in 2010 led me in 2014 to LeVerne Haley’s grandson whom I never met except on the Internet. Trusting someone with personal pictures of your grandfather tells a lot about someone. Writing about a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot who died in a plane crash on October 21, 1947, tells a lot about someone also.
Collection Jacques Gagnon
Using pictures without permission by an university student for a term paper in a history course tells a lot about someone also.
This is what happened to me two months ago. I won’t go into this story. This is why I am asking you to please contact me if you want to use pictures on this blog. I will gladly give permission if you ask and tell me why.
This blog is all about paying homage to the young men who gave so much.
If you think likewise then you are more than welcome to share these pictures unless you add a “Please donate button” on your Website.
Jacques Gagnon’s uncle was there. Eugene Gagnon was in Class 46, and in 2011, his nephew shared precious mementoes to pay homage to his uncle.
Brian is now doing the same thing in 2014.
You can use the comment section to reach me or use this contact form…
The Harvard on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum is one of more than 17,000 Harvards built by North American Inc. aircraft factory in Inglewood California. It was built as a Mark II version, allocated Serial No. 2777 and subsequently taken on strength by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on 14 January 1941 as a pilot training aircraft. Harvard 2777 served out the remainder of the war at No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Dunville ON, a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) station. Following cessation of hostilities in late 1945, 2777 went into storage at Dunville, but was put back in service in August of 1950 when it was assigned to the RCAF’s 9403 Regular Service Unit where it supported 403 (Auxiliary) Squadron at Calgary, Alberta. That same month it was equipped with a gyro gun sight that enabled it to be used as a Mark IIA armament trainer.
Declared surplus to the RCAF’s needs, Harvard 2777 was loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on 29 August 1950 and assigned to No. 1 Training Air Group (1 TAG) at HMCS Shearwater Naval Air Station. The RCAF extended the conditions to an indefinite loan to the RCN on 18 December 1953. It was initially assigned to the Navy’s No. 1 Training Air Group and eventually to its successor training squadron, VT 40, when it formed in May of 1954. Harvard 2777 was transferred from Shearwater to VC 924 naval air reserve squadron when it formed in Calgary on 1 June 1954. It remained on charge with the Navy until February 1957 after which it was placed on Inactive Reserve at No. 6 Repair Depot, RCAF Station Trenton Ontario. When the RCAF retired its Mark II/IIA Harvards in 1959, Harvard 2777 was declared surplus to requirements and transferred to Fingal Ontario pending disposal. As part of the Harvard fleet retirement, Harvard 2777 was struck off strength on 11 October 1960 and turned over to Crown Assets Disposal Corporation where it was sold to private interests.
Mr. D. Currie of Toronto subsequently donated Harvard 2777 to the Shearwater Aviation Museum where it was restored by volunteers from the Atlantic Chapter of the Canadian Naval Air Group. Harvard 2777 was rescued from long term storage in a deteriorated condition and with parts from other Harvards was refurbished as a VC 924 naval air reserve squadron Harvard with “930 – NAVY” markings. (RCN Harvards retained their RCAF serial numbers but were assigned RCN aircraft numbers as well. Aircraft numbers in the 900 series were assigned to RCN air reserve squadrons). Harvard 2777 for many years was a “Gate Guardian” at the entrance to the Shearwater air base. The aircraft again deteriorated out of doors in the corrosive maritime climate and was brought indoors in 1999 and given a new yellow paint job with “930 – NAVY” markings for display inside the Shearwater Aviation Museum where it stands today.
Clue no. 1
No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Dunville ON, a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) station.
Clue no. 2
Clue no. 3
Clue no. 4
24 April 1942 at No. 6 SFTS Dunnville, Ontario
taken from Eugene Gagnon’s nephew’s collection
This is what I wrote on another blog that pays homage to pilots and navigators with RAF 23 Squadron.
If Cam Harrod is passionate about his Fleet Finch… and an avid reader of this blog about the BCATP…
I am passionate for letting the world know about this pilot and those who flew with him.
I am not closely related to him.
So why am I so interested in his story?
I could write a book on Flight Lieutenant Joseph Achille Eugène Gagnon DFC, a little known French-Canadian Mosquito pilot born in Bromptonville in 1921, or write a book on how I came about to find information on a civilian pilot who died in a plane crash on October 21, 1947.
So what happened at Windsor Mills in 1945 that Cam Harrod can relate to?
You will have to come back later on this blog about the BCATP.
Cam already knows.
So why am I so interested in his story?
A French-Canadian Mosquito pilot!
What more can I say…
November is a good time to remember… what happened in July 1941.
Eugène Gagnon did not die in a plane crash while training in a Fleet Finch like LACs Fetherston and Davie.
I will tell you how he died later.
Eugène Gagnon is on a picture his nephew Jacques Gagnon shared with me in 2011.
At first I thought it was taken at No. 4 Manning Depot in Quebec City. I quickly had identified Eugène.
I had this other picture Jacques Gagnon shared.
There was something written on the back…
Pretty easy to identify who were on it and where it was taken thanks to Eugène.
Front : Nadeau – McGuire
Back : Reardon – Sweet – Cloutier
St. Catharines Ont July 41
In 2011 I had figured the group picture was taken later when Eugène was posted to No. 4 Manning Depot.
I wished I had known Cam Harrod back then. Cam’s father was an instructor with No. 9 EFTS St. Catharines.
November is a good time to remember… what happened on September 5, 1942.
Students Pilots Lost Lives As Planes Crashed in Mid-Air
First accident at No. 4 EFTS Windsor Mills…
They are buried in Prospect Cemetery in Toronto.
Most instructors and staff pilots with BCATP were desperately wanting to go overseas and fight the nazis like Eugène Gagnon did when he enlisted in 1941.
Who is Eugène Gagnon?
I will tell you next time.