An American who joined the RCAF

Sometimes you find a story on the Internet that someone sent you the link of an article for you to read.

image

The source of this article is here.

With the kind permission of Republican-American this  is…

Athlete, war hero, legend
The amazing story of Naugatuck’s Ed Poscavage

Republican-American (Waterbury, CT) – Sunday, January 27, 2013
Author: By Joe Palladino ; Republican-American

1942 Grey Cup

The jubilant Toronto Royal Canadian Air Force Hurricanes celebrate their Grey Cup victory of 1942. The team of 21 is made up of pilot trainees, 15 of whom were sent off to war in Europe. Seven of them never returned. The coach, Lew Haymond, is in the RCAF uniform at bottom right. Jake Gaudaur, the future CFL commissioner, is in the top row, taking a swig of soda pop (probably). Naugatuck’s Ed Poscavage is slightly obscured in the middle of the photo. He is at the right elbow of Gaudar, with the large smile. (photo courtesy of Canadian Football Hall of Fame)

 ***

Could Edmund W. Poscavage be one of the greatest athletes the Naugatuck Valley League has ever produced? Is it possible that he is the best ever from Naugy High?

These are difficult questions to answer or even debate because most of us have never heard the name Ed Poscavage. Until now.

Here are facts for which there is no debate: Poscavage, a Naugy grad, was a Greyhounds football star and national swimming record holder who went on to play both sports at Ohio State. Poscavage later starred on a Canadian military football team that captivated the Dominion by winning Canada’s Grey Cup in 1942.

That alone would have made Poscavage a legendary sports figure, but there is more.

Poscavage’s greatest glory came off the gridiron, as an American war hero and fighter pilot who flew 13 combat missions over Germany in World War II.

Surely, the handsome, six-foot, blue-eyed star would return to America and become a community leader and a much-admired Borough legend.

But Ed Poscavage never returned from war. His plane was shot down on a mission over Gersheim, Germany in 1945. He is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in France, and for seven decades, his remarkable athletic accomplishments remained buried with him. His name lives on only as an engraving on a monument that stands for all-time on the Naugatuck Green, one of six dozen or so Borough citizens who died serving their country in the war.

His relative obscurity changed in 2012, however, when Canada’s Grey Cup celebrated its centennial. Canada’s all-sports television network, TSN, aired a series of documentaries, called “Engraved on a Nation,” that explored the game’s history. One show in that series, “The Photograph,” focused on the 1942 game, and the victory by the Toronto Royal Canadian Air Force Hurricanes, a team made up of young Canadian men training to become fighter pilots, and a strapping athlete from a place with the exotic name Naugatuck.

As the documentary took shape, something remarkable happened. For the first time in decades someone asked the question: Who was Ed Poscavage?

Who was Ed Poscavage?

How is it that an athlete as prominent and accomplished as Poscavage disappeared from memory? One of Poscavage’s last living relatives, his niece, Linda Tortorelli of Stratford, explained that the pain and loss was too great for family members to bear.

“My mother and my grandmother never talked about him,” said Tortorelli, who was 2-years-old when her uncle died in Germany. “They were just too heartbroken.”

The family hid away the pain and sorrow, and never talked about Ed Poscavage. It was not easy to turn away from his legacy, though. There are scrapbooks stuffed with photographs and newspaper clippings chronicling the Poscavage sports years at Naugatuck High.

When Tortorelli opened the scrapbooks she was stunned.

“I didn’t realize he was such a great athlete,” she said. “We knew he was a good swimmer, but not that exceptional.”

On the football team, Poscavage was a star left end on a team that had stars too numerous to mention, like Borough icons Frank Edmonds and Dick Tuckey, who went on to play in the National Football League for the Cleveland Rams and Washington Redskins.

Poscavage was All-State in football in 1932, and played for the Naugatuck team that beat bitter rival Ansonia, 32-0, in 1933.

Poscavage was at his best, however, in the water, where he crossed paths with a couple of other future Naugatuck legends. He once placed second in a Cross Harbor Swim on Long Island Sound, and the man who was third in that race would later leave his own indelible impression on NVL swimming as coach at Sacred Heart and Naugatuck, James Farrar.

Naugatuck High did not yet have a swim team, so Poscavage, who by this time had acquired the nickname “Yama,” starred with the YMCA team, swimming alongside another Naugatuck giant, the man who started the high school team and for whom the high school pool is still named, Alex “Gimbo” Sullivan.

Newspaper clippings tell of a swimmer who was a state backstroke champion and who set local and state records whenever he jumped in the water. Most notably, on June 9, 1936, Poscavage broke a nine-year national backstroke record in a meet at Yale’s Payne Whitney Pool [dash] it was not yet named for Bob Kiphuth [dash] when he swam the 440 yard back in 5:49.2. Poscavage broke his record the next day when he swam 5:43.8.

The meet was part of an invitational series at Yale that featured college champions leading up to the U.S. Olympic trials in Providence. Poscavage was not invited to the trials. “He was ninth,” Tortorelli said, “and they only took the top five.”

The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were in Berlin, and are best remembered for the track and field performances of Jesse Owens. It is not difficult to imagine that Poscavage, at the time, might well have rued his missed opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Germany.

He then went off to Ohio State where he swam and was part of a Buckeyes Big Ten championship, and two second-place finishes in the NCAA championships.

It is mentioned in the TSN documentary that Poscavage played football at Ohio State, but the school’s sports information department could not find his name on an Ohio State roster. However, a Toronto Star article from December, 1942, mentions that Poscavage was a “regular with Ohio State” at end on the football team.

Tortorelli said the family never mentioned football at Ohio State. “I remember hearing something about a broken arm,” she said.

But in the Toronto Star story Poscavage details the depth of the top American college teams, where there is a “squad of about 60 men with first, second, third, fourth and fifth teams. With each position five or six deep.”

Poscavage, who also played and coached water polo at Ohio State, was probably on the football team, but deep in the Buckeyes’ depth chart and not on game-day rosters.

The Call to Duty

Poscavage graduated from Ohio State in 1941 with a degree in business administration. He had worked as a lifeguard during his summers, and briefly held a sales position with Sears, Roebuck & Co. But there was a war in Europe and Poscavage seemed desperate to get in it.

“He was the only son,” Tortorelli said. “He did not have to go.”

But go he did. Poscavage enlisted on Sept. 5, 1941, asked for the Army Air Corps, and was sent to Maxwell Field, now Maxwell Air Force Base, in Alabama. He did not last long in the Army Air Corps. Poscavage received an honorable discharge from the U.S. military after he crashed a plane in training. He walked away unhurt, but his dreams of being an American pilot were, at present, grounded.

In January, 1942, Poscavage took those dreams north to Canada, and enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He arrived in Toronto with thousands of Canadian recruits, and marshaled in a building called the Cow Palace at the Canadian National Exhibition.

On his first day there Poscavage met and bunked alongside a young man named Jake Gaudaur.

Most Americans will not recognize the name Gaudaur, but he is a legendary figure in Canada. Gaudaur played on two Grey Cup champion teams, served as captain of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and later president, majority owner, director and general manager of the franchise that went on to win four more Grey Cup titles in his tenure.

Gaudaur was Canada’s Pete Rozelle. He served as CFL commissioner for 16 seasons, from 1968 through 1984, and is credited with pioneering the modern era of professional football in Canada.

Gaudaur is a member of the Toronto Argonauts Hall of Fame, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Burlington, Ontario Hall of Fame. He received the Officer of the Order of Canada in 1985, and in 2010, three years after his death, the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Trophy was established.

But most importantly, Jake Gaudaur from Orillia, Ontario, and Ed Poscavage from Naugatuck, Conn., discovered each other.

“They were best friends from moment one,” said Diane Gaudaur, Jake’s daughter. “My father always referred to him as his best friend.”

When Gaudaur met and married Molly Scott, a former figure skater, Poscavage was his best man. While training, Poscavage met a Toronto beauty named Cynthia Claire Dawson at, of all places, a swimming pool. Dawson was a swim champion herself. They married in October, 1942. Gaudaur was best man.

Poscavage and Gaudaur were two of 130,000 airmen who signed up to go to war for Canada. Gaudaur never got into the fight. He earned his wings, but Gaudaur was so proficient as a flyer that he was ordered to stay behind in Canada and train more pilots.

Gaudaur never had the chance to fight alongside his buddies in Europe. “At the time I was disappointed that the adventure was postponed,” Gaudaur wrote in a private memoir. “But I speculated that we would meet again in England.”

That meeting with Poscavage never happened.

Poscavage earned his wings in Canada, and that was his ticket back to the U.S. military. He resigned from the RCAF, came back to the States a certified fighter pilot, rejoined the Air Corps and was assigned to Europe.

The Photograph

The Canadian television documentary about the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes was called simply, “The Photograph.” The picture in question shows a jubilant football team as it celebrated the Grey Cup championship of 1942. The story behind that picture, and the team, is one of triumph, tragedy, joy and heartbreak.

With Canadian professional football players in active military service, the Western Interprovincial Football Union and the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union were shut down. These leagues provided the finalists for the annual Grey Cup game, so the 1942 Grey Cup was the first non-civilian tournament.

The military recruits trained under famed Toronto Argonauts coach Lew Hayman, who asked permission to pull together a football team. The Hurricanes were former college players, professionals like Gaudaur, who had already won a Grey Cup, and Poscavage, an American star.

The team of 21 players lost its first game, tied its second, and then won eight straight. Gaudaur was the snap back, Poscavage an outside wing.

The Naugatuck man scored two touchdowns in the 18-13 win over Ottawa in the Cup semifinal, and then the Hurricanes defeated the Winnipeg RCAF Bombers in the Grey Cup final, 8-5, on Dec. 5, 1942, before 12,500 fans in Toronto’s sold-out Varsity Stadium.

The tournament, the game, and the Hurricanes captivated the nation. The game was broadcast worldwide to the Canadian armed forces, and for a brief time at least, hearts and minds were turned away from war and death and loss.

The members of the Hurricanes completed military training in April of 1943. From a team of 21 men, 15 were sent to Europe. Seven never returned. One third of the team died in the liberation of Europe.

An American flyer

Once Poscavage earned his rank as Pilot Officer in the RCAF in 1943, he served with the Eastern Air Command in Halifax, the 126th Squadron in Nova Scotia, and at the RCAF Station in Goose Bay, Newfoundland.

His desire was always to serve the United States, so Poscavage resigned from the RCAF and was officially discharged June 3, 1944. He immediately re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was placed with the 366th Fighter Squadron, the 358th Fighter group. His wife Cynthia remained in Canada.

It took nearly four years, but First Lieutenant Edmund Poscavage was finally an American pilot. He flew 13 combat missions in his P-47 Thunderbolt, escorting bombers on missions in Europe, and attacking German airfields and installations. The missions had a horrific survival rate. As noted in the documentary, only one in four pilots got out of the war alive.

On March 11, 1945, Poscavage was part of a bombing mission on a strategic bridge in Gersheim, Germany. His plane was hit by enemy fire, broke up and crashed. Poscavage’s badly burned body was found two days later by American ground troops. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, France.

Poscavage died 10 days shy of his 28th birthday.

His devastated young widow, just 22 years old, moved to Naugatuck to be near the Poscavage family, and worked at UniRoyal. She remarried in 1963, remained in Naugatuck, and even coached swimming. Cynthia died in 1995.

Jake Gaudaur lost his best friend, and he carried that grief with him for the rest of his days. An accomplished artist, Gaudaur produced a charcoal portrait of Poscavage wearing his flyer’s headgear. Gaudaur kept the portrait in a private scrapbook. Gaudaur died in 2007, and the sketch remained hidden until daughter Diane uncovered it in 2010.

A trip to Naugatuck

Diane Gaudaur and her sister, Jackie, traced the histories of the young men who played in and won the most unique of all Grey Cup championships. Their work formed the basis for the TSN documentary, and eventually led to an emotional journey from their home in Ontario to Naugatuck to meet the surviving members of the Poscavage family.

Diane and Jackie visited Linda Tortorelli and her brother, the late John Blondis, in Blondis’ Prospect home in the spring of 2012. They brought framed copies of Gaudaur’s stunning charcoal sketch, and they listened to a record album of a Poscavage interview, intended for broadcast on WTIC radio. The recording was made days before his fatal mission.

“Being there, and making that connection, would have been so meaningful to my father,” Diane Gaudaur said. “I felt his presence while we were there, which is something I never felt before. It would have been as thrilling for him as it was for me.”

Tortorelli said that the contact from Diane Gaudaur, the many emails, photographs, and newspaper stories that followed, and the subsequent Canadian television documentary, gave her a new connection to the uncle she never knew.

“We have the letters that he sent home to my mother and grandmother,” Tortorelli said, “but all of this has brought him to life for us. I wish I had gotten to meet Diane’s father. I feel honored that (Diane and Jackie Gaudaur) would do this. I wish I knew about this a long time ago. Maybe it wouldn’t have made my mother or grandmother feel so heartbroken. It definitely helped me know him a little better. It changed my life.”

Diane Gaudaur said that Cynthia Poscavage called her father annually.

“She would always cry,” Gaudaur said. “I asked my father, ‘And what did you say to her?’ and he said nothing. This was not a chatty generation. Men were not over-sharing. And other than the teammates on that team, nobody knew this story. The is a new story for most of Canada. The players are all deceased. All that is left are the recollections of their children.”

Hall of Fame?

In 1972, Naugatuck held its first induction ceremony. More than 200 Borough sports luminaries have been enshrined. Edmund W. Poscavage is not one of them.

In fairness to the Borough Hall, an athlete needs to be nominated before he or she can be elected. When Poscavage’s Thunderbolt was shot down over Germany 67 years ago, his sports accomplishments and athletic prowess went down with him on that tragic day.

“When he died, the line was gone, and the name Poscavage was gone,” said a tearful Tortorelli, who said she will now work towards getting her uncle into the Naugatuck Hall of Fame. “He was handsome, a football and swimming star, he had it all. I wish I knew him. He had so much to live for. Who knows what he could have done.”

Ed Poscavage is the Naugatuck legend that no one knows. Poscavage was both star and hero, an all-state football player, a national record-setter, and a Canadian Grey Cup champion.

Hall of Famer? No doubt. Among the best ever from the NVL? I know of no man or woman more worthy of our acclaim.

RCAF joins the American Ninth Air Force – Update

Carl Fleck had commented on this post last week.

He just sent this personal message with lots of pictures from his father’s collection.

Hi Pierre,

Here’s a  few images from the 83rd squadron period. I’ve got to rescan these images as their resolution isn’t very good.

My father flew in few B25s. In the image CASTBEN.jpg, refers to a the location where the 12th BG were located Castel Benito. The plane #52, my father flew in, is over Tripoli in the image.

Image M5 (Mighty Five)  the CO of 83rd Squadron crew…left to right…. Lt. Muska, Lt Wilson, Capt Young, Sgt Fleck, Sgt Wilson.

I’ve attached a couple of log pages….you may find the dates interesting.

 Cheers,

 Carl Fleck (Jr.)

Collection Carl Fleck

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

From Clarence Simonsen

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, American and British leaders arranged for a joint meeting to be held in Washington, D.C., between 24 December 1941 and 14 January 1942. This was called the Arcadia Conference, which formed overall plans to conduct a total global war against the axis powers. The first major American force established was the 8th Air Force, which moved to England and became operational on 17 August 1942. The next urgent action was needed to relieve pressure on Russia and stop the advance of German General Rommel across the Western Desert.

The whole story is here…

American 12th Bomb Group and RCAF

Text version

RCAF joins the American Ninth Air Force

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, American and British leaders arranged for a joint meeting to be held in Washington, D.C., between 24 December 1941 and 14 January 1942. This was called the Arcadia Conference, which formed overall plans to conduct a total global war against the axis powers. The first major American force established was the 8th Air Force, which moved to England and became operational on 17 August 1942. The next urgent action was needed to relieve pressure on Russia and stop the advance of German General Rommel across the Western Desert.

The existence of 23 American B-24’s plus a dozen B-17’s in Egypt in June 1942, was a fortunate coincidence of war as Rommel made his push for the Suez. On 17 June, Washington, D.C. ordered Colonel Harry Halverson to taken charge of this small force of U.S. large bombers, in response to the threat of the German Africa Korps. This new air arm of the US Army Forces in the Middle East was pressed into service to help the British 8th Army hold Cairo. Out of combat necessity, the American Ninth Air Force was unofficially born on 28 June 1942, when Major General Lewis H. Brereton was placed in charge of this newly formed United States Army Middle East Air Force. At the same time, two stateside combat bomb groups were ordered to prepare for movement to North Africa. Leaving Florida, the 98th Bomb Group ferried its B-24’s across the Atlantic arriving in Egypt the last week of July 1942. Following the 98th were the B-25C Mitchell medium bombers of the 12th Bomb Group. These two Groups aircraft were all painted in “Sand No. 3” covering all areas that had been painted dark Olive Drab. Even new this sand paint had a pronounced apricot shade, and when exposed to the North Africa sun, the yellow pigments faded, leaving only a strong pink color. These aircraft became commonly known as “tittie” or ‘desert pink’.

The 12th Bomb Group was formed 20 November 1940, and patrolled the west coast of United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They began training in the B-25C medium bomber in January 1942, for duty overseas. On 16 July 1942, the S.S. Louis Pasture departed New York with 4,882 men of the 12th Bomb Group, assigned to the 12th Air Force. They arrived at Deversoir, Egypt, on 31 July 42, just before Rommel’s Panzers made their last gamble to take Alexandria. The key to victory in North Africa was Allied air power, which could deny the Germans their spare parts, ammunition, fuel, food, and water. The 12th B.G. was the first USAAF medium bomber group in the Mediterranean theatre of war, which introduced the ‘desert pink’ B-25C to desert combat. The B-25 crews had little time for training and joined No. 3 Wing South African Air Force on 25 August, attacking targets in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. No. 3 Wing was made up of South African, British, Australian, and Canadians in RAF squadrons flying Boston and Baltimore aircraft. At first there was friction when the Americans thought their training was superior to the British. Although the Americans had never experienced anything like the North Africa combat conditions, it took time to convince them the British and Commonwealth veterans knew a little more than they did. To aid American radio operators to learn British radio procedures, 23 [cousins] RCAF wireless/gunners were freely loaned to the 12th Bomb Group, and four would be killed in action.

The USAAF crews soon welcomed the new Canadian radio operators who also prevented ‘friendly fire’ incidents from British anti-aircraft gunners, unfamiliar with the new B-25 bombers. The 23 Canadians served one year in their four respective bomb squadrons, first located in two airfields in the Nile delta, – the 81st and 82nd B.S. at Deversoir and the 83rd and 434th B.S. at Ismalia.

Under command of Col. Charles Goodrich, the 12th B.G. took the unofficial name “Earthquakes” and sported some very impressive nose art on their desert pink aircraft. The first mission was flown on 16 August, two days before the full complement of ground crew arrived. By the end of September 1942, the 12th B.G. had flown 21 missions and dropped 139 tons of bombs, with the loss of only six B-25 aircraft.

B-29

This early 12th B.G. nose art paid tribute to the new B-25C Mitchell bomber.

Earthquakers

Sahara Sue

This photo shows one of the RCAF Canadians pointing to the American nose artist in the 12th Bomb Group “Earthquaker’s”.

This is a list of the RCAF airmen who participated and four who died with the Earthquakers

ANDERSON, Sgt. Trevor Maxwell [promoted to P/O] R87853 – officer J17875

BROWN, F/O Joseph Alfred, J17884 – Sarnia, Ontario.

CARR, P/O Alexander Lawrence J17877

CRUIKSHANK, P/O Donald Herbert, J17887 – St. John, New Brunswick.

EMERY, F/L Charles Emile Michel, J18025 – Westmount, Quebec.

FLECK, P/O Carl Sidney,J17125 – Middle Stewiake, Nova Scotia.

NO57

CASTBEN

Carl Fleck’s plane over Tripoli (source Carl Fleck Jr.)

left to right: Lt. Muska, Lt Wilson, Capt Young, Sgt Fleck, Sgt Wilson

left to right: Lt. Muska, Lt Wilson, Capt Young, Sgt Fleck, Sgt Wilson

LOG4 LOG3Collection Carl Fleck

FRASER, F/L David Scott, J17879 – Calgary, Alberta.

FRY, F/Sgt. Cyril James Howard, R67842 – Amherstburg, Ontario, KIA

Killed in action at age 25 years, Boston medium bomber missing 14 September 1942, 12th Air Force

GALL, P/O Robert Davidson, J17127 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

GALLIVER, Sgt. William Thomas, R86558

HALL, F/L Stewart Llewelyn, J17882 – St. Catherines, Ontario.

HENRY, Sgt. Hank, Montreal, Quebec, POW

KELLY, Leonard Thomas, J17885 – Ottawa, Ontario. KIA

Wireless air gunner 27 years old, B-25 Mitchell bomber shot down while attacking Adrano, south of Mount Etna, Sicily, 5 Aug. 1943. No Known Grave.

LAMOUREUX, P/O Alexander Paul, J17130 – Edmonton, Alberta.

MACLEAN, F/L Cornelius, J18373 – Stelerton, Nova Scotia.

MARTIN, F/O Anthony Arthur, J17876 – Squamish, British Columbia.

MARTINO, P/O George William, J17880 – Montreal, Quebec.

MIRON, F/O Wilfred Arthur James, J17883 – Toronto, Ontario.

PARADIS, P/O Joseph Jean Paul, J17129 – Quebec.

RENNIE, P/O Henry Thompson, J17129 – Elora, Ontario, KIA

Medium bomber Boston aircraft shot down 12 March 1943, Sidi Barrani, Arab republic. Reburied National Cemetary at Fort Scott, Kansas, USA.

ROBERTSON, P/O Forbes, J17881 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, KIA

Wireless air gunner 23 years old, went overseas in October 1941, assigned 12th A.F. December 1942, flew 22 missions in B-25 Mitchell. On return from mission on 29 April 1943, hung-up bomb fell on landing, exploded. War cemetery Tunisia.

ROBERTSON, P/O Ronald Douglas, J17128 – Roblin, Manitoba.

SIBBALD, P/O Roy Everett, J17878 – Cochrane, Alberta.

B-25

This is the image of the famous “Desert Warrior” taken at Red Sea base of Desouire as it prepared to leave on the first B-25 promotional tour of the United States.

Crew – [back row left to right]

Capt. Ralph Lower, [pilot] Lt. W.O. Seaman, [co-pilot] Lt. Lloyd Pond, [navigator] Lt. T.R. Tate, [bombardier]

[front row left to right]

Sgt. Pat Garofalo, [top turret gunner] Pilot Officer Anthony Arthur Martin [RCAF] wireless air gunner, Sgt. John Dowdy Crew Chief.

B-25-1

Press release error – F/O Anthony Arthur Martin was “Canadian” from Squamish, British Columbia.

The nose art was impressive

B-25-3

This memorial to the RCAF members killed in action while flying with the American “Earthquakers” is painted on original skin from the B-25 in Alberta Aviation Museum at Edmonton, Alberta. This B-25 flew with the U.S. Navy during WWII. Thanks again to pilot Tony Jarvis.

What happened on the night of February 14, 1945?

The war wasn’t yet won by no means for Bomber Group 6…

no6_hq_crest

http://www.6bombergroup.ca/Feb45/Feb14~1545.html

Not for Flight Lieutenant Brittain it wasn’t.

image

And for some it was their last night on this Earth.

February 14/15 1945
66 Halifaxes from 408, 415, 420, 425, 426, 427, 429, and 432 Squadrons were joined by 52 Lancasters from 419, 424, 428, 431, and 434 Squadrons on an attack at Chemnitz. The crews were over the target at between 18,000 and 20,000 feet, releasing 431,000 lbs on incendiaries and 291,000 lbs of high explosives. According to reports, the target was cloud covered with some damage caused.

P/O A. Brown from 408 Squadron was attacked by an enemy aircraft, there was no claim or damage.
W/O1 R. Craven and crew, flying Halifax III MZ-495 coded EQ-V, were attacked by an FW-190 and an ME-110, there were strikes seen on the FW-190.
P/O L. Clarahan and crew, flying Halifax VII PN-223 coded EQ-X, were attacked by a rocket, it was fired upon and went vertically to the ground and exploded, claimed destroyed.

P/O J. McKenzie from 415 Squadron returned early as they were unable to raise the under carriage.
F/O L. Minkler landed at Brussels on return due to a fuel shortage.
F/Lt C. Piper and F/O R. Evans landed at Hardwick on return.

F/O C. Widdecombe and crew from 419 Squadron, flying Lancaster X KB-814 coded VR-N, were attacked by an unidentified twin engine enemy aircraft, strikes were seen and shortly after a aircraft was seen to crash to the ground, it was claimed as a probable.

F/O W. Anderson RCAF and crew from 420 squadron flying Halifax III NA-179 coded PT-B had the stbd outer engine fail shortly after takeoff. On return while turning on final approach the Halifax stalled and spun to earth.

Sgt H. Evans RAF
F/O J. Sinden RCAF
F/O L. Jones RCAF
F/O S. Hay RCAF
F/Sgt W. Giles RCAF
P/O E. Sills RCAF
All the crew was killed except the mid upper gunner.
P/O E. Cole and crew, flying Halifax III NP-951 coded PT-Y, were hit by flak, stbd inner was damaged and u/s. They were also attacked by an FW-190, there was no additional damage or claim. The landed at Juvincourt, France on 3 engines due to a fuel shortage.
F/Lt H. Ledingham landed at Molesworth on return.

F/O V. Roy RCAF and crew from 427 Squadron flying Halifax III MZ-422 coded ZL-N failed to return from this operation.

Sgt H. Mayer RCAF–POW
F/Sgt A. Williams RCAF–POW
Sgt A. Morrison RCAF–POW
F/Sgt A. Scorah RCAF
F/Sgt A. Cybulskie RCAF
F/Sgt H. Gallagher RCAF
4 crew were killed and 3 POWs on their 1st operation.

F/O D. Payne and crew from 428 Squadron, flying Lancaster X KB-757 coded NA-C, were attacked by a JU-88, there was no claim or damage.

F/O D. Murray from 431 Squadron returned early as 3 engines were running poorly.
F/O J. Patterson and crew, flying Lancaster X KB-872 coded SE-N, were attacked by an unidentified enemy aircraft, there was no claim or damage.

P/O J. Durand from 432 Squadron landed at Halesworth on return.
P/O R. Bradley landed at Hardwick on return.
F/Lt W. Miller and P/O J. Daly landed at Hardwick on return.
S/Ldr J. Thompson RCAF–POW and crew flying Halifax VII RG-449 coded QO-S failed to return from this operation.

Sgt G. Sorrell RAF
F/O J. Serne RCAF–POW
F/O A. Borland RCAF–POW
F/O S. Harrison RCAF–POW
F/Sgt R. Stringer RCAF–POW
P/O R. Thomson RCAF–POW
6 crew were POWs and 1 was killed after being shot down by a JU-88 on return.

F/Lt R. Fern and crew from 434 Squadron, flying Lancaster X KB-824 coded WL-E, were attacked by an unidentified enemy aircraft, there was no claim or damage.
F/O D. Magrath RCAF and crew flying Lancaster X KB-741 coded SE-C failed to return from this operation. This crew borrowed this aircraft from 431, their sister Squadron.

P/O B. Granka RCAF
F/O G. Barlow RCAF
F/O J. McElhone RCAF
F/O L. Medynski RCAF
P/O G. Robertson RCAF
Sgt G. McLarty RCAF–POW
6 crew were killed and 1 POW.

While some crews were attacking Chemnitz, 10 Lancasters from 424 and 433 Squadrons were joined by 10 Halifaxes from 427 and 429 Squadrons on a mining operation to the Kattegat. The crews were over the garden at 15,000 feet, sowing 90@1500 lb mines.

F/Lt C. Lundeen from 424 Squadron returned early as the navigation aids were u/s.
F/Lt F. Aldworth RCAF and crew flying Lancaster I PB-899 coded QB-A failed to return from this operation.

P/O L. Davis RAF
F/O E. Reaney RCAF
F/Sgt K. Miller RCAF
P/O G. Guthrie RCAF
P/O V. Smith RCAF
F/Sgt K. McMurchy RCAF
All were lost without a trace.

F/O J. Mulholland from 427 Squadron returned early as the navigation aids were u/s.
S/Ldr W. Brittain RCAF–POW and crew flying Halifax III MZ-355 coded ZL-W failed to return from this operation.

wpid-2015-09-25-05.43.30.jpg.jpeg

Sgt P. De Metz RAF–POW
F/O C. Driscoll RCAF–POW
F/O H. McKay RCAF–POW
F/O R. Dallin RCAF–POW
P/O E. Ford RCAF
P/O J. Peak RCAF
5 crew were POWs and 2 killed after being shot down by flak.

F/Lt R. Charlton RCAF and crew from 429 Squadron, flying Halifax III MZ-865 coded AL-V, failed to return from this operation.

P/O W. Fedorchuk RCAF
F/O R. Thorne RCAF
P/O R. McCallum RCAF
F/O K. Rainford RCAF
F/Sgt G. Barnes RCAF
F/Sgt S. Bostwick RCAF
All were killed after going into Swedish airspace and being shot down by anti-aircraft fire.

Source of the above

Richard Koval’s Website

More on 427 Squadrons operation on that day.

The pilot who shot down Godfrey Alan McKoy on 26 January 1943

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He never stood  a chance…

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http://www.luftwaffe.cz/gallandw.html

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Wilhelm-Ferdinand “Wutz” Galland

Excerpt

Wilhelm-Ferdinand “Wutz” Galland was born on 23 October 1914 at Bochum. He enlisted in the Luftwaffe in 1935 serving with a flak regiment. Galland participated in the invasion of the Low Countries and France with a flak regiment before volunteering for flight training at the end of 1940. He competed operational training with Ergänzungsgruppe/JG 26 and reported to II./JG 26 on 27 June 1941. JG 26 was under command of his brother Adolf Galland (104 victories, RK-Br). His younger brother Paul Galland (17 victories, killed in action 31 October 1942) was also serving with the unit. Assigned to 6./JG 26, “Wutz” scored his first victory on 23 July 1941, shooting down a RAF Spitfire fighter near Hesdin. By the end of 1941 his victory total had climbed to three. On 5 May 1942, Galland was appointed Staffelkapitän of 5./JG 26. He had eight victories to his credit. On 2 June, he claimed two Spitfires shot down over the Somme Estuary to record his ninth and 10th victories. Galland recorded his 20th victory on 4 December when he shot down another Spitfire near Boulogne. His score had risen to 21 by the end of 1942. Hauptmann Galland was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 26 on 3 January 1943. On 13 January he claimed a Spitfire shot down, but, it was, in fact, a 6th Staffel Bf 109G-4 piloted by Unteroffizier Johann Irlinger. The mistaken identification of the Messerschmitt for a Spitfire cost Irlinger his life. The incident was cleaned up for the official records… On 28 January, Galland received the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold for 24 victories. He recorded his 30th victory on 15 February, when he shot down a Spitfire near Ramsgate. Galland was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 18 May 1943 for 35 victories.

Godfrey Alan McKoy was his 24th victory.

Who remembers Mervyn Jack Mills? – Harvards at the NZ Warbirds show

Brian is sharing these pictures he took in New Zeland yestarday.

 

Brian had shared a whole lot on this blog about his uncle.

ORIGINAL

His nephew does.

He sent me this message with a few pictures.

I found this an enlightening account of night flying in a Spitfire.

http://rcafdunnville.blogspot.co.nz/2013/06/jimmy-osborne.html

I live about 15 minutes away from Papakura and it used to have an Army Camp there.

Most of all I noted that he mentioned about five New Zealanders won a commission.

My Uncle Mervyn Jack Mills’ file says that his commissioned of Pilot Officer superceded that of Sergeant.

Scrolling down to Course 44 and looking at names of the New Zealanders.

I was reminded of James E Shields in the attached files.

Hope you find them interesting.

Regards, Brian Vonlanthen.

Jimmy Osborne was in Course 44 at No. 6 SFTS Dunnville with Mervyn.

Mervyn Jack Mills banquet document 1 Mervyn Jack Mills banquet document

RCAF joins the American Ninth Air Force

From Clarence Simonsen

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, American and British leaders arranged for a joint meeting to be held in Washington, D.C., between 24 December 1941 and 14 January 1942. This was called the Arcadia Conference, which formed overall plans to conduct a total global war against the axis powers. The first major American force established was the 8th Air Force, which moved to England and became operational on 17 August 1942. The next urgent action was needed to relieve pressure on Russia and stop the advance of German General Rommel across the Western Desert.

The whole story is here…

American 12th Bomb Group and RCAF

 

Text version

 

RCAF joins the American Ninth Air Force

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, American and British leaders arranged for a joint meeting to be held in Washington, D.C., between 24 December 1941 and 14 January 1942. This was called the Arcadia Conference, which formed overall plans to conduct a total global war against the axis powers. The first major American force established was the 8th Air Force, which moved to England and became operational on 17 August 1942. The next urgent action was needed to relieve pressure on Russia and stop the advance of German General Rommel across the Western Desert.

The existence of 23 American B-24’s plus a dozen B-17’s in Egypt in June 1942, was a fortunate coincidence of war as Rommel made his push for the Suez. On 17 June, Washington, D.C. ordered Colonel Harry Halverson to taken charge of this small force of U.S. large bombers, in response to the threat of the German Africa Korps. This new air arm of the US Army Forces in the Middle East was pressed into service to help the British 8th Army hold Cairo. Out of combat necessity, the American Ninth Air Force was unofficially born on 28 June 1942, when Major General Lewis H. Brereton was placed in charge of this newly formed United States Army Middle East Air Force. At the same time, two stateside combat bomb groups were ordered to prepare for movement to North Africa. Leaving Florida, the 98th Bomb Group ferried its B-24’s across the Atlantic arriving in Egypt the last week of July 1942. Following the 98th were the B-25C Mitchell medium bombers of the 12th Bomb Group. These two Groups aircraft were all painted in “Sand No. 3” covering all areas that had been painted dark Olive Drab. Even new this sand paint had a pronounced apricot shade, and when exposed to the North Africa sun, the yellow pigments faded, leaving only a strong pink color. These aircraft became commonly known as “tittie” or ‘desert pink’.

The 12th Bomb Group was formed 20 November 1940, and patrolled the west coast of United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They began training in the B-25C medium bomber in January 1942, for duty overseas. On 16 July 1942, the S.S. Louis Pasture departed New York with 4,882 men of the 12th Bomb Group, assigned to the 12th Air Force. They arrived at Deversoir, Egypt, on 31 July 42, just before Rommel’s Panzers made their last gamble to take Alexandria. The key to victory in North Africa was Allied air power, which could deny the Germans their spare parts, ammunition, fuel, food, and water. The 12th B.G. was the first USAAF medium bomber group in the Mediterranean theatre of war, which introduced the ‘desert pink’ B-25C to desert combat. The B-25 crews had little time for training and joined No. 3 Wing South African Air Force on 25 August, attacking targets in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. No. 3 Wing was made up of South African, British, Australian, and Canadians in RAF squadrons flying Boston and Baltimore aircraft. At first there was friction when the Americans thought their training was superior to the British. Although the Americans had never experienced anything like the North Africa combat conditions, it took time to convince them the British and Commonwealth veterans knew a little more than they did. To aid American radio operators to learn British radio procedures, 23 [cousins] RCAF wireless/gunners were freely loaned to the 12th Bomb Group, and four would be killed in action.

The USAAF crews soon welcomed the new Canadian radio operators who also prevented ‘friendly fire’ incidents from British anti-aircraft gunners, unfamiliar with the new B-25 bombers. The 23 Canadians served one year in their four respective bomb squadrons, first located in two airfields in the Nile delta, – the 81st and 82nd B.S. at Deversoir and the 83rd and 434th B.S. at Ismalia.

Under command of Col. Charles Goodrich, the 12th B.G. took the unofficial name “Earthquakes” and sported some very impressive nose art on their desert pink aircraft. The first mission was flown on 16 August, two days before the full complement of ground crew arrived. By the end of September 1942, the 12th B.G. had flown 21 missions and dropped 139 tons of bombs, with the loss of only six B-25 aircraft.

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This early 12th B.G. nose art paid tribute to the new B-25C Mitchell bomber.

Earthquakers

Sahara Sue

This photo shows one of the RCAF Canadians pointing to the American nose artist in the 12th Bomb Group “Earthquaker’s”.

This is a list of the RCAF airmen who participated and four who died with the Earthquakers

ANDERSON, Sgt. Trevor Maxwell [promoted to P/O] R87853 – officer J17875

BROWN, F/O Joseph Alfred, J17884 – Sarnia, Ontario.

CARR, P/O Alexander Lawrence J17877

CRUIKSHANK, P/O Donald Herbert, J17887 – St. John, New Brunswick.

EMERY, F/L Charles Emile Michel, J18025 – Westmount, Quebec.

FLECK, P/O Carl Sidney,J17125 – Middle Stewiake, Nova Scotia.

FRASER, F/L David Scott, J17879 – Calgary, Alberta.

FRY, F/Sgt. Cyril James Howard, R67842 – Amherstburg, Ontario, KIA

Killed in action at age 25 years, Boston medium bomber missing 14 September 1942, 12th Air Force

GALL, P/O Robert Davidson, J17127 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

GALLIVER, Sgt. William Thomas, R86558

HALL, F/L Stewart Llewelyn, J17882 – St. Catherines, Ontario.

HENRY, Sgt. Hank, Montreal, Quebec, POW

KELLY, Leonard Thomas, J17885 – Ottawa, Ontario. KIA

Wireless air gunner 27 years old, B-25 Mitchell bomber shot down while attacking Adrano, south of Mount Etna, Sicily, 5 Aug. 1943. No Known Grave.

LAMOUREUX, P/O Alexander Paul, J17130 – Edmonton, Alberta.

MACLEAN, F/L Cornelius, J18373 – Stelerton, Nova Scotia.

MARTIN, F/O Anthony Arthur, J17876 – Squamish, British Columbia.

MARTINO, P/O George William, J17880 – Montreal, Quebec.

MIRON, F/O Wilfred Arthur James, J17883 – Toronto, Ontario.

PARADIS, P/O Joseph Jean Paul, J17129 – Quebec.

RENNIE, P/O Henry Thompson, J17129 – Elora, Ontario, KIA

Medium bomber Boston aircraft shot down 12 March 1943, Sidi Barrani, Arab republic. Reburied National Cemetary at Fort Scott, Kansas, USA.

ROBERTSON, P/O Forbes, J17881 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, KIA

Wireless air gunner 23 years old, went overseas in October 1941, assigned 12th A.F. December 1942, flew 22 missions in B-25 Mitchell. On return from mission on 29 April 1943, hung-up bomb fell on landing, exploded. War cemetery Tunisia.

ROBERTSON, P/O Ronald Douglas, J17128 – Roblin, Manitoba.

SIBBALD, P/O Roy Everett, J17878 – Cochrane, Alberta.

B-25

This is the image of the famous “Desert Warrior” taken at Red Sea base of Desouire as it prepared to leave on the first B-25 promotional tour of the United States.

Crew – [back row left to right]

Capt. Ralph Lower, [pilot] Lt. W.O. Seaman, [co-pilot] Lt. Lloyd Pond, [navigator] Lt. T.R. Tate, [bombardier]

[front row left to right]

Sgt. Pat Garofalo, [top turret gunner] Pilot Officer Anthony Arthur Martin [RCAF] wireless air gunner, Sgt. John Dowdy Crew Chief.

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Press release error – F/O Anthony Arthur Martin was “Canadian” from Squamish, British Columbia.

The nose art was impressive

B-25-3

This memorial to the RCAF members killed in action while flying with the American “Earthquakers” is painted on original skin from the B-25 in Alberta Aviation Museum at Edmonton, Alberta. This B-25 flew with the U.S. Navy during WWII. Thanks again to pilot Tony Jarvis.

RCAF nose art of the “Allan Cup” by Clarence Simonsen

During my fifty years of nose art research, I have interviewed over 1,000 veterans of the American 8th Air Force, Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force who served in England during WW II. Almost all agree, that it was very easy for servicemen to have a sexual encounter with all ages of British ladies. Britain was the first country to be afflicted by total war and a catastrophic shift in sexual behaviour and attitude of her female society. Between September 1939 and May 1945, 5.3 million infants were delivered in England, and two million were illegitimate, with a non-British biological father. These babies born out of wedlock came from every age group of British mother, from teenage girls to mature ladies in their forties. Most of the biological fathers were well-paid Americans in the 8th Air Force, followed by Canadians in the RCAF. If it had not been for total war, most of these ladies, would never have had illegitimate children. This is the true story on one British infant who never knew his Canadian RCAF father.

This is also the only WW II nose art image I have ever found that featured a trophy from Canadian Ice hockey. The story was offered to the Ottawa Senators hockey team, CBC Hockey Night in Canada, Coaches’ Corner, and Vintage Wings of Canada. All three declined to publish. It is now published for the first time.

RCAF nose art of the “Allan Cup”

In November 1939, RCAF service hockey teams began to compete on the ice at a number of wartime Canadian bases. In the following six years, almost every RCAF unit in Canada and U.K. boasted its own band of hockey talent. The Ottawa R.C.A.F. Flyers entered the senior city league in October 1939, and at once began to attract considerable attention with their scoring punch and general hockey skills. This was no surprise as Ottawa had various RCAF units to draw talent from and the best hockey talent was posted to our nation’s capital. In two years the Ottawa RCAF Flyers became the number one high-calibre Air Force team in wartime senior hockey. Five of these mainstay players came from the original Trenton Flyers of 1938; Louis Le Compte, Eric McNeeley, Roy Hawkey, Hank Blade, and defence star Gerald [Gerry] Philbin.

Gerald Bernard Philbin was born at Montreal, Quebec, in 1909, raised in the city of Valleyfield, situated on the south bank of the island in the St. Lawrence River, 30 miles west of Montréal. He was educated in English and French, plus excelled playing hockey in his school years. In 1938 and 39 Gerry played for the Trenton Flyers hockey team, which influenced his decision to join the RCAF on 21 July 1940. Trained at No. 1 ITS and graduated 9 December 1940. No. 11 EFTS graduated 28 Jan. 1941, then received his wings at No. 2 SFTS, Uplands, 28 March 1941. Gerry was posted to C.T.S. Rockcliffe, which allowed him to play fulltime with the Ottawa RCAF Flyers team, but in fact he had played on and off with the team since the fall of 1940.

The Ottawa senior hockey league teams played 16 regular games in the 1941-42 seasons. The Ottawa RCAF Flyers won 11, lost 4 and tied 1 game, ending with 23 points and a second place finish. They won the semi-final playoff games, 3 games to none, over Hamilton Majors, won the Ontario East final playoffs, 3 games to none, over Quebec Aces, and then faced the Port Arthur Bear-Cats in the final for the Canadian National Senior Ice Hockey Championship Allan Cup.

Game #1 – RCAF 7 – Bear-Cats 4

Game #2 – RCAF 8 – Bear-Cats 7 [won in over-time]

Game #3 – Bear-Cats 3 – RCAF 1

Game #4 – Bear-Cats 4 – RCAF 3

Game #5 – RCAF 7 – Bear-Cats 1

They won the Allen Cup in five games and now 90% of the team was broken up as members moved on to wartime duties in the RCAF.

Gerry Philbin was promoted to Flying Officer and posted to operations in England. F/O Philbin formed a sprog crew made up of five other Canadians and one British. The new crew were assigned to No. 431 [Iroquois] squadron stationed at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, where they flew their first operation on 8 October 1943, in Halifax Mk. V, “O”.

On the 18 November the crew were assigned to fly Halifax “U” [LL152] which became their bomber. Shortly after completing an attack on Berlin, 21-22 November 43, the starboard engine failed and on the return trip they were damaged by anti-aircraft fire. Despite this Philbin return his crew safely to base and for his actions, was recommender for a D.F.C. No. 431 squadron are ordered to move to #64 Base at Croft, Yorkshire, on 10 December 1943.The 23 Dec. 1943, issue of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported F/O Gerry Philbin always wore his 1942 “Allan Cup” hockey jersey on operations for good luck.

On 15/16 March 1944, after attacking Amiens, France, the Philbin crew had a hung up 500 lb. bomb, and upon landing the bomb dropped and exploded. Two of the original crew, Canadian gunners P/O Lloyd Barker, P/O Irvine Klein, were killed Gerry Philbin and the rest of his crew escaped with minor injuries. The Philbin crew received a new Halifax SE-U, serial LK991, and went on to complete 21 operations with No. 431 squadron, 13 of which were flown in the two Halifax aircraft coded “U”.

No. 425 [Alouette] squadron was formed on 25 June 1942, and designated “French-Canadian” squadron. Bomber Command combed other squadrons for French speaking air and ground crews to fill its ranks. On 13 June 1944, French speaking pilot Gerry Philbin and his crew were posted from No. 431 squadron to No. 425 squadron based at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, where they had flown with their original squadron. Pilot Philbin is now promoted to squadron Leader in the RCAF, providing experience to the French speaking squadron.

S/L Philbin received a new No. 425 squadron Halifax Mk. VII, serial LL594, with code letter “U”. On this aircraft he had the squadron artist paint the nose art of the 1942 Allen Cup and the background logo used on the Ottawa hockey sweaters. The Philbin crew flew their first operation with No. 425 squadron on 16 June 1944, a date the French-Canadian squadron began attacks on the German V-1 rocket sites in France. In the next four weeks the squadron would attack 21 rocket sites in France, but the Philbin crew will not take part.

On 5 August 1944, at 11 am, Halifax LL594 and the Philbin crew become airborne from Tholthorpe for the last time. It is their 26th operation; the fifth flown in No. 425 squadron and the target is the V-1 site at St. Leu d’ Esserent, France. Over the target the Halifax with the Allan Cup on the nose takes a direct hit from flak and explodes. Six of the crew die at once, pilot Philbin and RAF Sgt. Milliard are blown into space and parachute to earth where they are taken prisoner. Sgt. Milliard is interned in camp Luft. 7, POW #608.

Gerry Philbin lands among exploding bombs from his own squadron, but has two broken ribs and fractured both feet. He is virtually pulled into a foxhole by a German soldier who saves his life, and then taken prisoner. Gerry is transported to a German army hospital and the next day driven to Beaujon [Luftwaffe] hospital in Clichy, north of Paris.

On 11 August 1944, the American 8th Air Force launched 956 B-24 and B-17 bombers in visual attacks on German railway, fuel dumps, and troop concentrations in the French, Brest peninsula. Three B-24’s and two B-17’s were lost with seven crew killed and 28 missing in action.

One of the B-17’s in the 100th B.G., with nose art “Royal Flush”, crashed in a suburb of north Paris, four crew are killed and six taken prisoner by German SS troops.

The six Americans are transported to the same hospital as Canadian S/L Gerry Philbin. The SS Colonel in charge of the hospital informs all prisoners they will be transported to Germany that evening. American Chuck Nekvasil and Gerry Philbin speak perfect French, and ask the French staff in the hospital to help them escape. The prisoners are locked in the seventh floor of the hospital with one German guard. At 7 pm trucks and ambulances arrive to transport the POW’s to Germany. Soon after, the French FFI attack the hospital and during the gun battle one of the Americans obtains a knife and slashed the throat of the lone German guard, Willie. The German keys are obtained and the group took off making nine miles in the first day. They took cover by day and travelled by night until 3 September, when a German fighter dropped fire bombs on the building they were hiding in. Eight of the prisoners, including the six Americans and Gerry Philbin, took off running for about six miles, when two motorcycles came tearing down the road towards them. The soldiers wore the uniform of the French 2nd Armored Division. It was all over, and they were next taken to a field hospital near Orleans, France. On 6 September 1944, the group was airlifted by an American C-47 to Exeter, England, and another hospital. For S/L Gerry Philbin the war is over, he now has a desk job, and effective 1 September 44 awarded the D.F.C. The award was presented by Governor General of Canada on 27 June 1945.

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Crew photo from Ken Cothliff

The six crew members killed in Halifax III, serial LL594, KW-U, on 5 August 1944 are –

P/O R. Reed RCAF

P/O T. Lee RCAF

F/O L. Stamp RAF

F/O G. Beresford RAF

W/O B. Clark RAF

F/Sgt. William [Bill] Gracie RCAF

On 12 August 1944, a baby boy is born in Wallasey hospital near Liverpool, the mother is Emma Murray, a mother of two children, and a widow whose sailor husband was killed when his trawler was torpedoed off Ireland in 1941. The new son is named Kenneth Glenn Murray, but life is tough for the new widow/mother in war torn England. In October 1944, Emma places her new son up for adoption and he is put in the Children’s Home at Strawberry Fields in Liverpool. In January 1945, the boy is adopted by Hilda and Malcolm Cothliff, where he spends a very happy and secure childhood.

At age sixteen Kenneth becomes interested in Jazz and enrols in the local Art College, which becomes the centre of a new tend called the “Mersey Sound.” Ken meets a fellow student who is very active in the college at this time and his name is John Lennon.

Ken always knew he was ‘chosen’ and regarded himself as very fortunate. In 1977, the British adoption laws changed and Ken was able to learn who his parents were and provided with the details of his natural father. He learns his father was a Canadian in the RCAF, F/Sgt. William Gracie, killed just seven days before he was born. Ken begins a search for his Canadian relatives and in May 1979 came to Peterborough, Ontario, to meet Mrs. Christina Gracie, who was Bill’s mother. She had no idea he existed and at once accepted Ken as her grandson. Ken would make four more trips to Canada to visit his grandmother and relatives. In the summer of 1992, Ken received word his grandmother, Christina Gracie was becoming fail and he decided to make one final trip. It was apparent she was in her last days and kept referring to Ken as her son Bill. The day before his return to England, Ken dug up six, 3 inch high, sugar maple trees from his grandmother’s front yard. These trees were transported back to England and placed into small pots. One month later Ken’s grandma Gracie passed away. In 1994, Ken made his way to the Oise Valley, north of Paris, France, and in St. Leu D’Esserent and St. Maximum area, next to a French school he planted a Canadian Maple tree. The tree was planted at the crash site of his father’s Halifax bomber on the 50th anniversary, 5 August 1944. A second Maple tree was planted in his home yard in Leeds, England. A third Maple tree was planted in the village green next to the RCAF memorial at Tholthorpe village, where his father had taken off on his last operation. Today three 40 foot Canadian Maple Sugar trees grow in England and France, a living memorial to the Canadian father he never knew.

I first made letter contact with Kenneth B. Cothliff on 10 April 1993, and over the years learned more and more of his family story. In June 2010, Ken came to Western Canada and spent two days at my home in Airdrie, Alberta. During this time, I learned so much more about my special loving friend and his amazing true Canadian life story. If this were the United States they would make a movie, but in Canada it proves impossible to even tell the story. Ken has done more to honour the Canadian father he never knew, than thousands of Canadians whose father’s wore the uniform of the RCAF in WW II.

In 2012, I surprised Ken with a replica painting of his father’s WW II Halifax nose art, on original Halifax bomber skin.

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Image from Ken Cothliff-2012

Clarence Simonsen nose art Halifax Mk. VII. serial LL594, No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron, named “Allan Cup”. Painted on original skin from Halifax NA337. Ken’s mother and father met at the very same factory that built the Halifax LL594 and the [above] skin from NA337. Ken Cothliff holds the replica nose art of the aircraft his Canadian father, F/Sgt. Gracie was killed in 5 August 1944.

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Ken’s office is a living memorial to his Canadian father – 2014.