RCAF Distinguished Canadian Aviators

RCAF, Distinguished Canadian Aviators

Lieutenant-Colonel William George Barker VC, DSO & Bar, MC & Two bars

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3623168)

           Lieutenant-Colonel William George Barker, Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Bar, Military Cross (MC) and two Bars, French Croix de Guerre, Two Italian Silver Medals for Valour.  (3 November 1894 – 12 March 1930). His shown here as a Major.

           In December 1914, soon after the outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent call to arms in the Dominion of Canada, Barker enlisted as Trooper William G. Barker in the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles.  The regiment went to England in June 1915 and then to France on 22 September of that year.  Barker was a Colt machine gunner with the Machine Gun Section of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles until late February or early March of 1916, when he transferred as a probationary observer to 9 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps.

           He was commissioned as a second-lieutenant in April and was assigned to 4 Squadron and later transferred to 15 Squadron.  He officially qualified as an observer on 27 August and on 15 September he worked for the first time with Canadian troops, including his old regiment.  He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in November 1916 in the concluding stages of the Battle of the Somme. In January 1917 he commenced pilot training at Netheravon.  He served a second tour on Corps Co-operation machines as a pilot with 15 Squadron.  On25 April 1917, during the Arras Offensive, Barker, flying an RE 8 with observer Lieutenant Goodfellow, spotted over 1,000 German troops sheltering in support trenches.  The duo directed artillery fire into the positions, thereby avoiding a counter attack. During this period, he was awarded the Military Cross First Bar.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3238907)

Sopwith F.1 Camel, Capt William George OK VC, DSO & Bar, MC & Two bars, two Italian SilverMedals for Military Valour, and the French Croix de guerre. He was also mentioned in despatches (MiD) three times.

           The Sopwith F.1 Camel was Barker’s favourite aircraft.  After being wounded by anti-aircraft fire inAugust 1917, Barker transferred to become a scout pilot on the Sopwith Camel,being given command of C Flight in the newly formed 28 Squadron.

Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194851)

Major W.G. Barker in a Sopwith Camel, No. 28 Squadron RAF, 1918.

           The unit moved to France on 8 October 1917, although on 7November, No. 28 Squadron was transferred to Italy and most of the unit, including aircraft and with Barker temporarily in command, travelled by train to Milan. One of his most successful, and also most controversial raids was on 25 Dec 1917.  Catching the Germans off guard, he and Harold Hudson, his wingman, shot up the airfield of Fliegerabteilung (A) 204, setting fire to one hangar and damaging four German aircraft before dropping a placard wishing their opponents a “Happy Christmas.”

           Barker joined No. 66 Squadron in April 1918,where he claimed a further 16 kills by mid-July, which earned him the Distinguished Service Order.  He then became Squadron commander of 139 Squadron, flying the Bristol Fighter.  Barker however took his Sopwith Camel with him and continued to fly fighter operations. By this time, Barker’s personal Sopwith Camel had became the most successful fighter aircraft in the history of the RAF, having used it to shoot down 46aircraft and balloons from September 1917 to September 1918, for a total of 404operational flying hours.  The Military Cross Second Bar was awarded for his gallantry and devotion to duty during thistime.

           Having flown more than 900 combat hours in two and a half years, Barker was transferred back to the UK in Sep 1918.  In London at RAF HQ, he was granted a ten-day roving commission in France, wherein he selected the Sopwith Snipe as his personal machine and attached himself to No. 201 Squadron RAF, whose Squadron commander, Major Cyril Leman, was a pal from his days as a Corps Co-operation airman.  Barker had destroyed another 21enemy aircraft since his last award was conferred on him and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order Bar.

           He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the morning of the Sunday, 27 Oct 1918. Barker was delivering his Snipe to an aircraft depot crossing enemy lines at 21,000 feet when he observed an enemy two-seater over the Forêt de Mormal.  He attacked this machine and after a short burst it broke up in the air, its crew escaping by parachute.  At the same time a Fokker biplane attacked him, and he was wounded in the right thigh, but managed, despite this, to shootdown the enemy aeroplane in flames.  Byhis own admission, he was careless and was bounced by a formation of 15 or more enemy Fokker D.VIIs.  The large formation of Fokkers attacked him from all directions, and he was again severely wounded in the left thigh but succeeded in driving down two of the enemy in a spin.  He lost consciousness after that, and his machine fell out of control.  On recovery, he found himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation, and singling out one machine he deliberately charged and drove it down in flames.  During this fight, his left elbow was shattered, and he again fainted, and on regaining consciousness he found himself still being attacked, but not withstanding that he was now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered, he dived on the nearest machine and shot it down in flames.  Being greatly exhausted, he dived out of the fight to regain our lines, but was met by another formation, which attacked and endeavoured to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeded in breaking up this formation and reached our lines, where he crashed on landing.  This combat, in which Major Barker destroyed four enemy machines (three of them in flames), brought his total successes to fifty enemy machines destroyed.  The dogfight took place immediately above the lines of the Canadian Corps.  Severely wounded and bleeding profusely, his life was saved by the men of an RAF Kite Balloon Section, who transported him to a field dressing station.

           At the hospital in Rouen, France, Barker clung to life until mid-January 1919, and then was transported back to England.  He was not fit enough to walk the necessary few paces for the investiture at Buckingham Palace until 1 March 1919.

           He is officially credited with one captured, two (and seven shared) balloons destroyed, 33 (and two shared) aircraft destroyed, and five aircraft “out of control;” the highest “destroyed” ratio for any RAF, RFC or RNAS pilot during the conflict.  The Overseas Military Forces of Canada recognized Barker as “holding the record for fighting decorations” awarded in the First World War.

(RAF Photo)

Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe flown by Capt William GeorgeBarker, VC.

(Vintage Wings of Canada Photo)

Photo taken in late summer of 1919 of Lieutenant-Colonel William Barker sitting in Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe 7F.1, fuselage (Serial No. E8102), in a hangar at Leaside Aerodrome in Toronto. Looking through the Snipe’s centre-section is Arthur Doughty, the Director of War Trophies and standing at left is F.G. Ericson, the entrepreneur and engineer who controlled Leaside immediately after the war.

           The fuselage of Major Barker’s Snipe aircraft was recovered from the battlefield and is preserved at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.  At a hospital in Rouen, France, Barker clung to life until mid-Jan 1919, and then was transported back to England. He was not fit enough to walk the necessary few paces for the VC investiture at Buckingham Palace until 1 Mar 1919.  Barker is officially credited with one captured, two (and seven shared) balloons destroyed, 33 (and two shared) aircraft destroyed, and five aircraft "out of control", the highest "destroyed" ratio for any RAF, RFC or RNAS pilot during the conflict. The Overseas Military Forces of Canada recognized Barker as "holding the record for fighting decorations" awarded in the First World War.

           Barker returned to Canada in May 1919 as the most decorated Canadian soldier of the war, with the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Military Cross and two Bars, the French Croix de guerre and two Italian Silver Medals for Valour.  He was also mentioned in dispatches three times.

           Barker formed a business partnership, Bishop-Barker Aeroplanes Limited, with fellow Victoria Cross recipient and Canadian ace Billy Bishop which lasted for about three years.  In 1922 he rejoined the fledgling Canadian Air Force in the rank of wing commander. Barker was appointed acting director of the RCAF in early 1924 and he graduated from RAF Staff College, Andover, in 1926.  While waiting to start RAF Staff College Course No 4, Barker spent two weeks in Iraq with the RAF to learn more about the uses of air power.  He formally reported on his findings to the Minister of National Defence, and informally to Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, of the US Air Service.  One of his achievements in the RCAF was the introduction of parachutes.

           He suffered from the physical effects of his 1918 gunshot wounds and struggled with alcoholism in the last few years of his life.  He died in 1930 near Ottawa when he lost control of his Fairchild KR-21 biplane trainer during a demonstration flight for the RCAF, at Air Station Rockcliffe, near Ottawa, Ontario.  Barker, aged 35, was at the time the president and general manager of Fairchild Aircraft in Montréal.

           Newspaper reports said his state funeral in Toronto on 15 March 1930, was attended by 50,000 people and described it as the largest to date in the city’s history.

(Internet: http://www.thevictoriacross.net/recipients/william_george_barker.html)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3214720)

Major W.G. Barker, V.C., with Avro 504K aircraft at Hounslow Aerodrome, April 1919.

Air Marshal William Avery"Billy" Bishop VC, CB, DSO and Bar, MC, DFC, ED

(RAF Photo)

Captain Billy Bishop VC, with Nieuport 17 C.1 Scout, No. 60 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps,  Filescamp, France, c1918.

           Air Marshal William Avery "Billy" Bishop VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED (8 February1894 – 11 September 1956) was a Canadian First World War flying ace, officially credited with 72 victories, making him the top Canadian ace, and according to some sources, the top ace of the British Empire.

           Bishop was born in Owen Sound, Ontario.  He was the second of three children born to William A. and Margaret Bishop.  In 1911,at the age of 17, Billy Bishop entered the Royal Military College of Canada(RMC) in Kingston, Ontario, where his brother Worth had graduated from in 1903.  When the First World War broke out in1914, Bishop left RMC and joined the Mississauga Horse cavalry regiment.  He was commissioned as an officer but was ill with pneumonia when the regiment was sent overseas.  After recovering, he was transferred to the 7thCanadian Mounted Rifles, a mounted infantry unit then stationed in London, Ontario.  Bishop showed a natural ability with a gun and excelled on the firing range.  His seemingly “super-human” eyesight allowed him to put bullets in a target placed so far away others saw only a dot.  They left Canada for England on 6 June 1915 on board the requisitioned battleship Caledonia.  On 21 June, off the coast of Ireland, the ships convoy came under attack by U-boats.  Two ships were sunk, and 300 Canadians died, but Bishop's ship remained unharmed, arriving in Plymouth Harbour on 23 June.

           Asan observer Bishop quickly became frustrated with the mud of the trenches and the lack of action.  In July 1915, after watching an RFC aircraft return from a mission, Bishop said “...it's clean up there! I'll bet you don't get any mud or horsesh*t on you up there. If you die, at least it would be a clean death.”  He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and, as there were no spots available for pilots in the flight school, he chose tobe an observer.  On 1 September, hereported to 21 (Training) Squadron at Netheravon for elementary air instruction.  The first aircraft he trained in was the Avro504, flown by Roger Neville.  Bishop was adept at taking aerial photographs and was soon in charge of training other observers with the camera.  The Squadron was ordered to France in January 1916, it arrived at Boisdinghem airfield, near Saint-Omer equipped with R.E.7 reconnaissance aircraft.  Bishop’s first combat mission was as anaerial spotter for British artillery.  Atfirst, the aircraft would not get airborne until they had offloaded their bombload and machine guns.  Bishop andpilot Neville flew over German lines near Boisdinghem and when the German howitzer was found, they relayed co-ordinates to the British, who then bombarded and destroyed the target.  In the following months, Bishop flew on reconnaissance and bombing flights, but never fired his machineguns on an enemy aircraft.  During one takeoff in April 1916, Bishop’s plane experienced an engine failure, and he badly injured his knee.  The injury was aggravated while on leave in London in May 1916, and Bishop was admitted to the hospital in Bryanston Square, London.  While therehe met and befriended socialite Lady St. Helier, who was a friend to both Winston Churchill and Secretary for Air Lord Hugh Cecil.  When his father suffered a small stroke, St.Helier arranged for Bishop to recuperate in Canada, thereby missing the Battleof the Somme.

           Bishop returned to England in September 1916, and, withthe influence of St. Helier, was accepted for training as a pilot at the CentralFlying School at Upavon on Salisbury Plain. His first solo flight was in a Maurice Farman “Shorthorn”.

           In November 1916, after receiving his wings, Bishop was attachedto No. 37 Squadron RFC at Sutton's Farm, Essex flying the BE.2c.  Bishop disliked the flying, at night overLondon, searching for German Airships, and he soon requested a transfer toFrance. On 17 March 1917, he arrived at 60 Squadron at Filescamp Farmnear Arras, where he would be flying the Nieuport 17 fighter.  At that time, the average life expectancy of anew pilot in that sector was 11 days, and German aces were shooting down Britishaircraft 5 to 1.  Bishop’s first patrol,on 22 March, was less than successful.  Hehad trouble controlling his run-down aircraft, was nearly shot down by anti-aircraftfire, and became separated from his group.

           On 24 March, after crash landing his aircraft during a practiceflight in front of General John Higgins, Bishop was ordered to return to flightschool at Upavon.  But before he couldleave, Major Alan Scott, new commander of 60 Squadron, convinced Higgins to let him stay until areplacement arrived.  The next day Bishopclaimed his first victory, when his was one of four Nieuports that engagedthree Albatros D.III Scouts near StLeger.  Bishop shot down and mortallywounded a Lieutenant Theiler, but his engine failed in the process.  He landed in No Man's Land, 300 yards fromthe German front line.  After running tothe Allied trenches, Bishop spent the night on the ground in a rainstorm.  There Bishop wrote a letter home, starting: “Iam writing this from a dugout 300 yards from our front line, after the most excitingadventure of my life.”  General Higginspersonally congratulated Bishop and rescinded his order to return to flightschool.  On 20 March 1917 Bishop wasnamed a flight commander.  The next day hescored his second victory.

           Bishop, in addition to the usual patrols with his Squadroncomrades, soon flew many unofficial “lone wolf” missions deep into enemy territory,with the blessing of Major Scott.  As a result,his total increased rapidly.  On 8 April,he scored his fifth victory and became an ace. To celebrate, Bishop’s mechanic painted the aircraft's nose blue, themark of an ace.  Fellow Squadron member CaptainAlbert Ball, at that time the Empire's highest scoring ace, hadhad his spinners painted red.

           Bishop’s no-hold-barred style of flying always had him“at the front of the pack,” leading his pilots into battle over hostileterritory.  Bishop soon realized thatthis would eventually see him shot down, after one patrol a mechanic counted 210bullet holes in his plane.  His newmethod of using the surprise attack proved successful; he claimed 12 aircraftin April alone, winning the Military Cross and a promotion to captain for hisparticipation at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The successes of Bishop and his blue-nosed aircraft were noticed on theGerman side, and they began referring to him as “Hell's Handmaiden”.  Ernst Udet called him “the greatest Englishscouting ace” and one Jasta had a bounty on his head.

           On 30 April, Bishop survived an encounter with Manfredvon Richthofen, the Red Baron.  In May,Bishop won the Distinguished Service Order for shooting down two aircraft whilebeing attacked by four others.  On 2 June1917, Bishop flew a solo mission behind enemy lines to attack a German-held aerodrome,where he claimed that he shot down three aircraft that were taking off toattack him and destroyed several more on the ground.  For this feat, he was awarded the VictoriaCross (VC), althoughit has been suggested that he may have embellished his success.  His VC was one of two awarded in violation ofthe warrant requiring witnesses (the other being the Unknown Soldier), andsince the German records have been lost and the archived papers of his VC werelost as well, there is no way of ever knowing if there were any witnesses ornot.  It was, however, common practice atthis time among the RFC and RNAS Squadrons to submit kills claimed withoutrequiring confirmation or verification from other witnesses.  

           In July 60 Squadron received newRoyal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s, a faster more powerful aircraft with bettervisibility for the pilot.  In August 1917Bishop passed the late Albert Ball in victories to become (temporarily) the highestscoring ace in the RFC.  Soon after he wasinformed he had won the Victoria Cross for his Juneattack on the German aerodrome.

           He returned home to Canada in 1917,where he was acclaimed a hero and helped boost the morale of the Canadian public,who were growing tired of the war.  On 17October 1917, at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto, he married hislong-time fiancée Margaret Burden, a granddaughter of Timothy Eaton.  Her brother was the ace Henry John Burden.  After the wedding he was assigned to the BritishWar Mission in Washington DC to help the Americans build an air force.  While stationed there, he wrote an autobiographyentitled Winged Warfare.

           Upon his return to England in April1918, Bishop was promoted to Major and given command of No. 85 Squadron, the “Flying Foxes”. This was a newly formed Squadron and Bishop was given the freedom tochoose many of the pilots.  The Squadron was equipped with SE5a scouts and left for Petit Synthe, France on 22 May1918.  On 27 May, after familiarizing himself with the area and the opposition, Bishop took a solo flight to theFront.  He downed a German observation plane in his first combat since August 1917, and followed with two more thenext day.  From 30 May to 1 June Bishop downed 6 more aircraft, including German ace Paul Billik, bringing his score to59 and reclaiming his deadliest RFC/RAF ace title from James McCudden, who had claimed it while Bishop was in Canada, and was now the leading Allied ace.

(Library and Archives CanadaPhoto, MIKAN No. 2266422)

Stamp commemorating AirMarshal William Avery Bishop, VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED.

           The Canadian government was becoming increasingly worried about the effect on morale if Bishop were to be killed, so on 18 June he was orderedto return to England, officially to help organize the new Canadian Flying Corps.  Bishop was not pleased with the ordercoming so soon after his return to France. He wrote to his wife: “I've never been so furious in my life.”  The order specified that he was to leave France by noon on 19 June.  On thatmorning, Bishop decided to fly one last solo patrol.  In just 15 minutes of combat, he added another five victories to his total.  He claimed to have downed two Pfalz D.IIIa scouts, caused another two to collide with eachother, and shot down a German reconnaissance aircraft.

On5 August, Bishop was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and was given the post of “Officer Commanding-designate of the Canadian Air Force Section of the General Staff, Headquarters Overseas Military Forces of Canada.”  He was onboard a ship returning from a reporting visit to Canada when news of the armistice arrived.  Bishop was discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 31 December and returned to Canada. By the end of the war, he had claimed some 72 air victories, including two balloons, 52 and two shared “destroyed” with 16 “out of control”.

           After the war, Bishop established a short-lived passenger air service with fellow ace William Barker.  In 1921, Bishop and his family moved to Britain, where he was quite successful. In 1928, he was the guest of honour at a gathering of German air aces in Berlin and was made an Honorary Member of the Association.  However, the family's wealth was wiped out inthe crash of 1929, and they had to move back to Canada.

(Toronto Star Photo Archive)

Lockheed Hudson in the background with Flight Sergeant George Calver of Grandview, Manitoba, with Air Marshal W.A. Bishop at the de Havilland Plant in Toronto in 1943.  Flt Sgt Calverlost both his legs in a bombing mission over Cologne, Germany, and told thepress he wanted to fight again.  He flew to Toronto from Montreal, for thefirst time since he lost his legs, to address workers at the de Havillandaircraft plant.  With new artificial limbs, he was anxious to get backinto the fight.

           In 1938, Bishop was made an Honorary Air Marshal of the RCAFand placed in charge of recruitment.  Hewas so successful in this role that they had to turn many applicants away.  He created a system for training pilots acrossCanada and became instrumental in setting up and promoting the Commonwealth AirTraining Plan, which trained over 167,000 airmen in Canada during the SecondWorld War.  In 1942, he appeared ashimself in the film Captains of the Clouds, a Hollywood tribute to theRCAF.

           Both of Bishop's children became aviators.  He presented his son, Arthur, with his wingsduring the Second World War; Arthur would go on to become a Spitfire pilot andparticipated in the Battle of Britain.  Healso presented his daughter, Jackie, with a Wireless Sparks Badge as a radiooperator in 1944.

           By 1944, the stress of the war had taken a serious tollon Bishop's health, and he resigned his post in the RCAF to return to privateenterprise in Montréal.  His son latercommented that he looked 70 years old on his 50th birthday in1944.  Bishop remained active in the aviationrealm however, predicting a phenomenal growth of commercial aviation in the postwarworld.  His efforts to bring some organizationto the nascent field led to the formation of the International Civil AviationOrganization (ICAO) in Montréal.  He wrotea second book at this time, Winged Peace, advocating internationalcontrol of global air power.

           With the outbreak of the Korean War, Bishop again offeredto return to his recruitment role, but he was in poor health and was politelyrefused by the RCAF.  He died in his sleepon 11 September 1956, while wintering in Palm Beach, Florida.  He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in OwenSound, Ontario.

           Bishop's decorations include theVictoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order & Bar, MilitaryCross, Distinguished Flying Cross, légion d'honneur and the Croix de Guerre withpalm.  He was made a Companion of the Orderof the Bath in the King's Birthday Honours List of 1 June 1944.

           The citation for his VC, publishedin the London Gazette on 11 August 1917, read: For most conspicuous bravery,determination, and skill. Captain Bishop, who had been sent out to work independently,flew first of all to an enemy aerodrome; finding no machines about, he flew onto another aerodrome about three miles southeast, which was at least 12 milesthe other side of the line. Seven machines, some with their engines running,were on the ground.  He attacked thesefrom about fifty feet, and a mechanic, who was starting one of the engines, wasseen to fall.  One of the machines gotoff the ground, but at a height of 60 feet, Captain Bishop fired 15 rounds intoit at very close range, and it crashed to the ground.  A second machine got off the ground, intowhich he fired 30 rounds at 150 yards range, and it fell into a tree.  Two more machines then rose from theaerodrome.  One of these he engaged at aheight of 1,000 feet, emptying the rest of his drum of ammunition.  This machine crashed 300 yards from theaerodrome, after which Captain Bishop emptied a whole drum into the fourth hostilemachine, and then flew back to his station. Four hostile scouts were about 1,250 feet above him for about a mile ofhis return journey, but they would not attack. His machine was very badly shot about by machine gun fire from the ground.

           His citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross read: Amost successful and fearless fighter in the air, whose acts of outstanding braveryhave already been recognised by the awards of the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Bar to the DistinguishedService Order, and Military Cross.  Forthe award of the Distinguished Flying Cross now conferred upon him he hasrendered signally valuable services in personally destroying twenty-five enemymachines in twelve days - five of which he destroyed on the last day of hisservice at the front.  The total numberof machines destroyed by this distinguished officer is seventy-two, and his valueas a moral factor to the Royal Air Force cannot be over-estimated.

           His citation for the Distinguished Service Order read:For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While in a single-seater he attacked three hostile machines, two ofwhich he brought down, although in the meantime he was himself attacked by fourother hostile machines.  His courage anddetermination have set a fine example to others.

           Hiscitation for the Distinguished Service Order bar read: For conspicuousgallantry and devotion to duty when engaging hostile aircraft.  His consistent dash and great fearlessnesshave set a magnificent example to the pilots of his Squadron.  He has destroyed no less than 45 hostilemachines within the past 5 months, frequently attacking enemy formationssingle-handed, and on all occasions displaying a fighting spirit anddetermination to get to close quarter with his opponents which have earned theadmiration of all in contact with him. (Wikipedia)

(Guiness323 Photo)

Billy Bishop's decorations (now part of Canadian War Museum collection) include (left toright) Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order with Bar, Military Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, 1914–1915 Star, British War Medal 1914–1920.

2Lt Alan A. McLeod, VC

(IWM Photo, Q 67601)

2Lt Alan A. McLeod, VC.

On 27 Mar 1918 2Lt Alan A. McLeod from Stonewall, Manitoba, won the Victoria Cross for an action fought by him and his observer, Lt A.W. Hammond, while they were flying an Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.8.  During an air battle at an altitude of 5,000', 2Lt McLeod and his Observer, Lt A.W. Hammond MC, were attacked by eight German Fokker Dr.1 Triplane fighters.  2LtMcLeod skilfully maneuvred to enable his observer to engage and shoot down three of the attackers.  Wounded five times and with his aircraft on fire, 2Lt McLeod climbed out onto the left bottom-plane of his aircraft and proceeded to control his machine from the side of the fuselage.  By steeply side-slipping the aircraft he was able to keep the flames to one side, thus enabling the observer to continue firing until the ground was reached.  The observer had by now been wounded six times when the machine crashed in "no man's land," and 2Lt McLeod, not withstanding his own wounds, dragged him away from the burning wreckage at great personal risk from heavy machine-gun fire from enemy lines. Wounded again by a bomb while engaged in this rescue, he persevered until he had placed Lt Hammond in comparative safety before falling himself from exhaustion and lack of blood.  He later died of influenza on 6 November 1919. He was Canada's youngest VC winner, and the youngest winner of a VC for an air action.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN 3387943)

Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8.

The F.K.8 was a two-seat general-purposebiplane built by Armstrong Whitworth during the First World War. The type served alongsidethe better known R.E.8 until the end of the war, at which point 694 F.K.8s remainedon RAF charge. (Wikipedia)

Major Donald Roderick MacLaren, DSO, MC & Bar, DFC, Croix de Guerre, Compangnonde la Légion d’Honneur 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3219005)
Major D.R. MacLaren with a de Havilland D.H.9 aircraft `Leicester' presented to Canada by the Imperial Air Fleet Committee, 21 Jan 1919.

Major Donald Roderick MacLaren, DSO, MC & Bar, DFC, Croix de Guerre, Compangnonde la Légion d’Honneur, born on 28 May 1893 in Ottawa, was credited with 54 victories and, after the war, and helped found the RCAF. MacLaren joined the  Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in May 1917, while his brother joined the Royal Navy.

MacLaren completed his training for the RFC at Long Branch, Armour Heights, and Camp Borden in Ontario.  He received a commission as a second lieutenantin August, and then travelled to England where he continued his training on advanced aircraft at Number 34 Training Squadron at Turnhill. MacLaren flew Avro 504s, Bristol Scouts, Nieuport 12s, Sopwith Camels, and de Havilland DH 5s.  At the end of November, he was sent to thefront to fly with Number 46 Squadron.  Hisfirst action over the lines of Flanders occurred on 13 December when he flew aCamel with Number 3 Squadron.  MacLarenwas on a patrol with four others on 6 March 1918 flying a Camel when three GermanHannover CL.III two-seat aircraft were spotted 1,000 feet above them.  They ascended to meet the German aircraft andinitiated an attack. MacLaren fired about 100 rounds at one aircraft, sendingit into a spin.  This was his first recordedvictory.  On 10 Mar 1918, he engaged a GermanAlbatros D.V. earning his second victory. MacLaren was then appointed deputyflight leader.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4817972)

Officers of No. 1 Squadron, Canadian Air Force (CAF), standing left to right:Lt W.L. Rutledge, AFC, MM, Lt P.F. Townley, Lt G.R. Howsam, MC (later Air ViceMarshall), unidentified officer, Lt F.V. Heakes (later Air Vice Marshall), LtC.M. McEwen, MC, DFC (later Air Vice Marshall), Lt H.A. Marshal, Lt J. Whitfield,and an unidentified officer.  Seated left to right: Capt D.R. MacLaren,DSO, MC, DFC, Capt G.O. Johnson, MC (later Air Marshall), Maj A.E. McKeever,DSO, MC, (CO of the Squadron), Lt J.T. Verner, Capt C.F. Falkenberg, DFC, 13June 1919.

Oneof the greatest offensives by the Germans on the Western Front started on 21Mar 1918. MacLaren conducted a mission that included dropping four 25-pound Cooperbombs on a German long-range run.  Hewent on to flame a balloon that was over Biache St. Vaast and continued on thesame day to shoot down two LVG two-seater aircraft.  The next day, he shot down two more Germanaircraft over Bullecort, one of which he shared with Captain Marchant.  MacLaren shot down or assisted in downingthree more enemy aircraft.  On 24 March,he flamed another balloon, and caused a Junkers J.I to go down out of control.

On1 Apr 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service and RFC merged,and the Royal Air Force (RAF) was born. On 6 Apr 1918, the famous Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen, known as theRed Baron, shot down Sydney P. Smith, leader of Number 46 Squadron.  Don MacLarenbecame the new captain and leader of the Squadron.  Later that month, on 21 Apr 1918, another Canadian, Roy Brown,took part in the downing of the Red Baron. MacLaren increased his number of victories that day when he sent anAlbatros D.V out of control.  At the endof March, MacLaren received the Military Cross for the victories he had amassedover the month.  May was another very activemonth for MacLaren and when his number of victories jumped up to 32, he wasawarded a bar for his Military Cross. His victories continued to mount rapidly in July and August, resulting in his receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN 3523023)

September and the first week of October continued to be very successful for MacLaren, as his total victories mounted to 48 aircraft and six balloons, which made him the highest scoring Sopwith Camel pilot, and third best of all Canadian aces.   On 10 October, Donald MacLaren was having a friendly wrestling match with one of the junior officers in his Squadron when he broke his leg.  Unable to fly, MacLaren was posted back to England on 6 Nov 1918.  Five days later, on 11 Nov 1918, the war was over as the Germans surrendered.  MacLaren was given the Distinguished Service Order on 6 February 1919. Added to the honours he already received, MacLaren was awarded the Croix de Guerre and was made a Compangnon de la Légion d’Honneur by France.

Air Vice Marshal Raymond Collishaw, CB, DSO &Bar, OBE, DSC, DFC, RAF

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA-2788).

Squadron Commander Raymond Collishaw in a Sopwith F.1 Camel aircraft, Allonville,France, 1918.

           Air Vice Marshal Raymond Collishaw, CB, DSO & Bar, OBE, DSC, DFC, RAF (22 November1893 – 28 September 1976) was a distinguished Canadian fighter pilot, Squadron leader, and commanding officer who served in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and later the Royal Air Force.  He was the highest scoring RNAS flying ace and the second highest scoring Canadian pilot of the First World War.  He was noted as a great leader in the air, leading many of his own formations into battle. As a member of the RAF during the Second World War, he commanded No. 204 Group (which later became the Desert Air Force) in North Africa.  

Raymond Collishaw was born at Nanaimo, British Columbia, on 22 November 1893.  His father was John Edward Collishaw from Wrexham, Wales and his mother Sarah “Sadie” Jones from Newport, Wales but raised in Pantygog, Garw Valley.  At the age of 15, he joined the Canadian Fisheries Protection Services as a cabin boy. He was a lower-class sailor on board the Alcedo when it sailed into the Arctic Circle in search of the Stefansson expedition. Unfortunately for the expedition, it turned out that the expedition was too late to rescue the Karluk.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4063168)
1st contingent of No. 3 Wing. L to R, Lee, R. Collishaw, G.S. Harrower, K.G. MacDonald, C.E. Burden, St. Edwards, McGregor, Pearkes, Dallison, Donnes, F.C. Armstrong, J.A. Glen LCdr. RNVR, J.E. Sharman, L.E. Smith, Alexander, Newberry. Sitting: Capt. Elder and W/C. R. Bell-Davies.

When war broke out in 1914, his first idea was to join the Royal Navy in England, and he crossed the Atlantic at his own expense for that purpose.  By 1915, he had worked his way up to first officer. Toward the end of 1915, Collishaw joined the Royal Naval Air Service.  He qualified as a pilot in Jan 1916.  He spent eight months patrolling the British coast then, on 2 Aug 1916, he joined the RNAS’s 3rd Wing, which was operating at Ochey, in France, flying British Sopwith 1½ Strutters.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4542676)

Sopwith 1½ Strutters, No. 3 Wing, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS),Luxeuil, France, Sep 1916.

(RAF photo)

Royal Flying Corps or Royal Air Force Sopwith 1-1/2 Strutter in 1917-1918 period.

No. 3 Wing, RNAS, was commanded by Capt. W.L. 'Daddy' Elder, and contained a large proportion of Canadian pilots, not because of any conscious decision to do so, but because the large contingent of Canadians that had joined the RNAS were just now coming out of flying school and were available for service.

Some of the Sopwiths were equipped as bombers, while others were designed as two-seat fighters. “Collishaw’s first recorded victory came while he was flying escort on the Wing’s first large-scale raid into Germany, on12 October 1916.  The raid was against the Mauser Rifle Factory at Oberndorf, in Germany.  The bombers had nearly reached their target when they were attacked by six German Fokkers. Collishaw got into position to allow his observer to fire on one, and he evidently damaged it. Collishaw then turned, gained height, and fired a burst with the front gun.  The Fokker dived out of control, and, according to the British crews, crashed to the ground, a total wreck.  According to the German authorities, they lost no aircraft during the engagement, but it was not unheard of for combatants to attribute their losses to accident rather than enemy action.

Collishaw‘s next two victories were properly witnessed by thousands of French troops.  He was ferrying a new aircraft from Wing Headquarters when six enemies dived out of the clouds and attacked him.  It was six to one, and the Germans had the advantage of height. Collishaw, like Barker and McKeever, was happiest when close to the ground in such a spot.  He went down.  At tree-top level the advantage of numbers meant much less. In two quick bursts, he sent two Albatrosses crashing into the trees, after which the others flew off. The flight so impressed the French that they awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

On 27 December 1916, while returning from a raid on the steel works at Dillingen, Collishaw‘s machine was damaged in flight; he only just succeeded in gliding back over French lines near Nancy, France, where he crashed, and his plane was a total wreck.  It was the first of a number of crashes, and Collishaw on that occasion set the pattern which he followed throughout.  He stepped out of the wreckage grinning, and ready to fly again.”

In February 1917, Collishaw was posted to No. 3 Naval Squadron, which was operating with the army near Cambrai.  During his two months there, Collishaw was employed as escort to the Corps Squadron bombing planes, downing one German machine in the process.  In April he returned to the coast, being transferred to No. 10 Naval Squadron, engaging in mainly coastal patrols.

By the end of May, the British Flying Corps was badly in need of reinforcements, much due to the after-effects of Bloody April.  As a result, Collishaw was posted to his previous No. 10 Naval Squadron, as a Flight Commander.  Collishaw‘s “B” Flight would be composed entirely of Canadians.  Although British commanders had highly discouraged pilot’s painting their planes, Collishaw‘s flight painted their Sopwith Triplanes dead black, and called themselves the All-Black Flight, later known more simply as the Black Flight.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390963)

Sopwith Triplane (Serial No. N5438), ca1918.

The Sopwith Triplane first entered RAF service in 1917.  Only about 140 were built and most went to the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS).  The aircraft equipped the famous “Black Flight” of Canadians in No. 3 (Naval) Squadron, RNAS, led by Raymond Collishaw, from April 1917. The Triplane was powered by a 130-hp Clerget rotary engine and dominated the skies of the Western front for seven months.  The Sopwith F.1 Camel superseded it in November 1917.

           The Triplane’s fuselage and empennage closely mirroredthose of the earlier Sopwith but constructed with three narrow-chord wings to provide the pilot with an improved field of view.  Ailerons were fitted to all three wings.  The Triplane was initially powered by the 110hp Clerget 9Z nine-cylinder rotary engine, but most production examples were fitted with the 130 hp Clerget 9B rotary. The prototype Triplane, serial N500, first flew on 28 May 1916, and proved to be easy to control and within three minutes of takeoff, the pilot startled onlookers by looping the aircraft three times in succession.  The Triplane was very agile, with effective, well-harmonised controls.  By using the variable incidence tailplane, the aircraft could be trimmed to fly hands-off.  The introduction of a smaller eight ft span tailplane in February 1917 improved elevator response.

           In July 1916, N500 was sent to Dunkirk for evaluation with “A” Naval Squadron, 1 Naval Wing. It proved highly successful.  The second prototype, serial N504, was fitted with a 130 hp Clerget 9B. N504 first flew in August 1916 and was eventually sent to France in December.  This aircraft served as a conversion trainer for several Squadrons.

           Production commenced in late 1916 with 147 aircraft being produced.  No. 1 Naval Squadron became fully operational with the Triplane by December 1916, but the Squadron did not see any significant action until February 1917. No 8 Naval Squadron received its Triplanes in February 1917, and Nos. 9 &10 Naval Squadrons equipped with the type between April and May 1917.  The only other major operator of the Triplane was a French naval Squadron based at Dunkirk, which received 17 aircraft.

           The Triplane’s combat debut was highly successful.  The new fighter’s exceptional rate of climb and high service ceiling gave it a marked advantage over the Albatros D.III, though the Triplane was slower in a dive.  The Germans were so impressed by the performance of the Triplane that it spawned a brief Triplane craze among German aircraft manufacturers, resulting in at least 34 different prototypes.

           The Triplane was famously flown by No. 10 Naval Squadrons “B” Flight, better known as “Black Flight.” This all-Canadian flight was commanded by the ace Raymond Collishaw.  Their aircraft, named Black Maria, Black Prince, Black George, Black Death and Black Sheep, were distinguishable by their black-painted fins and cowlings.  Black Flight claimed 87 German aircraft in three months while equipped with the Triplane. Collishaw himself scored34 of his eventual 60 victories in the aircraft, making him the top Triplane ace.

           For a variety of reasons, the Triplane’s combat career was comparatively brief.  In service, the Triplane proved difficult to repair.  The fuel and oil tanks were inaccessible without substantial disassembly of the wings and fuselage.  Even relatively minor repairs had to be made at rear echelon repair depots.  Moreover, spare parts became difficult to obtain during the summer of 1917, and No. 1 Naval Squadron’s complement was reduced from 18 to 15 aircraft.

           The Triplane also gained a reputation for structural weakness because the wings sometimes collapsed in steep dives.  This defect was attributed to the use of light gauge bracing wires in the 46 aircraft built by a subcontractor.  Several pilots of No. 10 Naval Squadron used cables or additional wires to strengthen their Triplanes. Another drawback of the Triplane was its light armament.  While contemporary Albatros fighters were armed with two guns, most Triplanes were armed with a single synchronised Vickers Machine-gun.  Efforts to fit twin guns to the Triplane met with mixed results. Clayton & Shuttleworth built six experimental Triplanes with twin guns. Some of these aircraft saw combat service with Nos. 1 and 10 Naval Squadrons in July 1917, but performance was reduced, and the single gun remained standard.  

           In June 1917, No. 4 Naval Squadron received the first Sopwith F.1 Camels and the advantages of the sturdier, better-armed fighter quickly became evident. Nos. 8 and 9 Naval Squadrons transitioned to the Camel between early July and early August 1917.  No. 10 Naval Squadron converted in late August, turning over its remaining Triplanes to No. 1 Naval Squadron.  No. 1 operated Triplanes until December, suffering heavy casualties as a consequence. By the end of 1917, surviving Triplanes were used as advanced trainers with No. 12 Naval Squadron. (Wikipedia)

“The aircraft of the All-Black Flight were christened with suitable names. Ellis Reid, of Toronto, flew Black Roger; J. E. Sharman, of Winnipeg, flew Black Death; Gerry Nash, of Hamilton, called his machine Black Sheep; and Marcus Alexander, of Toronto, christened his plane the Black Prince. The flight commander, Collishaw, flew a machine which gloried in the name Black Maria.”

During their first two months they claimed a record 87 German aircraft destroyed or driven down - which, strangely enough, brought Collishaw and the unit no wide publicity.  Collishaw later claimed that this was because officials in the regular British Flying Corps were loathe to give credit to the naval pilots.  He was the first Commonwealth pilot to claim six victories in one day (6 July 1917).  There have been claims that Collishaw shot down German ace Karl Allmenröder, but this has been disputed.

“Their first loss came when they had achieved an aggregate of fifty victories. On 26 June, the All-Blacks found themselves engaged with Richthofen’s Jagdstaffel 11.  Gerry Nash found that he was fighting two German pilots single-handed. One of the Germans was Lieutenant Karl Allmenröder, victor in some 30 air battles, and second only to Richthofen among the German pilots then in action. Nash’s other opponent was Richthofen himself.

Faced by the two deadliest German pilots, Nash fought a tremendous battle. He twisted and turned, looking foropenings, but at last Allmenröder got in a telling burst, and Nash’s controls were damaged.  He fell out of the fight and managed to land safely - but behind the enemy lines, where he destroyed his plane before he was captured.

The four survivors were bitterly grieved by the loss, for they had grown into a band of brothers, and they swore to keep a sharp eye out for the Albatrosses of Richthofen’s Squadron which had brought down Nash.  At the same time, they thought that Nash was dead.  On the morning of 27 June, they met the Richthofen Staffel near Courtrai, and thistime Collishaw found himself engaged with the bright-greenAlbatros of Allmenröder - though he was not aware at the moment that he was fighting the conqueror of Nash.  It was one of the classic dogfights of the war, like Barker against Linke, like Hawker against Richthofen - two skilled and experienced fighters, who knew every trick, had met.

They met head-on, then they went into the “waltz” (dogfighting), but at last Collishaw found an opening, and Allmenröder went down out of control, to crash to his death near Lille. Nash, lying in a cell, heard a church bell tolling that afternoon, and learned from his guard that it was the funeral of Allmenröder, who had shot him down. Allmenröder, the guard said, had been shot down by the leader of the Black Triplanes.”

In August, Collishaw returned to Canada for two months leave, then the British Empire’s second-highest scoring living ace. He was virtually unknown, in stark contrast to the grand reception given to the top-scoring living ace, Billy Bishop, when he returned on leave at about the same time.  At this point, he had been awarded two British decorations during the summer: the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Distinguished Service Order. Returning to the war late November, he was given command of No. 13 Naval Squadron, which was operating from Dunkirk, doing escort duty with the Channel Patrol.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.3214137).

Maj. Raymond Collishaw speaking with Capt. A.T. Whealy, both pilots, with a Sopwith F. 1 Camel aircraft of No. 203 Squadron, RAF, Izel-le-Hameau (Filescamp), France, 12 July 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.3214136).

Pilots with Sopwith F. 1 Camel aircraft of No. 203 Squadron, RAF, Izel-le-Hameau (Filescamp), France, 12 July 1918. (Left to right): Maj. Raymond Collishaw, Capt. A.T. Whealy.

“His most amazing experience on that tour of duty was an air battle between his Squadron and a formation of German Scouts in which no shot was fired. The Squadron was providing protection for an observation machine, which was ranging guns for a fleet firing on Zeebrugge. The German formation approached, and Collishaw led his pilots to the attack but found that his guns had jammed, owing to the congealing of the oil in the low temperature. Several times he turned to attack the Germans, and each time they withdrew, until the navy’s shoot was finished. Then Collishaw learned that all the Squadron’s guns were jammed- possibly all the guns of the German Scouts as well.”

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3522194)

Major Raymond Collishaw and pilots with Sopwith F. 1 Camel aircraft of No. 203 Squadron, RAF. on the occasion of an inspection by King George V, Izel-le-Hameau (Filescamp Farm), France, 12 July 1918.

Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3522198)

Major Raymond Collishaw, DSO, DSC, DFC, Commanding Officer, and Officers of No. 203 Squadron, R.A.F., Izel-le-Hameau (Filescamp Farm), France, 12 July1918.

On 23 January 1918, Collishaw returned to the embattled area of the Western Front to command of No. 3 Naval Squadron, which were equipped with the more deadly British Sopwith F.1 Camel fighters. On 1 April, the RNAS and the RFC merged and 3 Naval Squadron became No. 203 Squadron Royal Air Force. Collishaw remained in command with the new rank of Major, that serving as a Commanding Officer took up a great deal of his time with “paper work”.  But he was able to be available for flying, and by the end of the summer he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and a bar to his Distinguished Service Order.

Collishaw had quite a few close escapes during the war. He was shot down out of control and crashed several times.  Once, lost in a fog, he landed on a German aerodrome, and was actually taxiing to the tarmac when he saw German insignia on the grounded planes, and German troops rushing out to arrest him.  He opened his throttle wide, took off, and escaped.  On another occasion, his goggles were shattered by an enemy bullet.  He once had his controls disabled by German machine gun fire from the ground and had to ride out the flight until the aircraft crash-landed – luckily near the British front trenches.

In total, during the First World War, Collishaw was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Order with bar and the French Croix de Guerre.  He scored 60victories, consisting of 28 and one shared “destroyed”, 28 and two shared “out of control” and one “driven down.”

Collishaw was in England working on the formation of the RCAF when the Armistice was signed.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel during this time.  He took some leave in Canada in December before returning to England.  He was planning on attempting to fly across the Atlantic using a long-range bomber, but his plans were interrupted by events.

(RFC Photo)

Airco DH.9A - The type Collishaw's forces flew in Russia in 1919.

The decision was made to send a Squadron to help General Denikin’s White Russian forces in the Russian Civil War and Collishaw was chosen to be in command.  His Squadron found itself fighting against the Bolsheviks, who had skilled German pilots manning some of their planes.  This campaign initially went well but eventually turned into a retreat then a rout during which the Squadron was withdrawn.  Collishaw added another victory to his total during this conflict, as well as managing to sink an enemy gunboat with a bomb dropped from his Sopwith F.1 Camel.

After No. 47 Squadron was withdrawn from Russia, Collishaw was sent to Egypt to command No. 84 Squadron.  The Squadron was moved to Persia, which was made a British protectorate after the war, to defend against the Russians.  In the 1921 New Year’s Honours List, Collishaw was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

In 1935 and 1936, during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Collishaw commanded No. 5 Wing.  During the Second World War, Collishaw attained the rank of Air Vice Marshal following distinguished service commanding the No. 204 Group in North Africa; he was awarded a Companion of the Order of the Bath during this time. He was then posted as AOC No. 14 Group RAF in the north of Scotland.  He retired, involuntarily, from the RAF in July 1943 and spent the rest of the war as the Civil Defence Regional Air Liaison Officer.

His memoirs were titled Air Command, A Fighting Pilot’s Story and were published in 1973.  Collishaw died on 28 September 1976 in West Vancouver, British Columbia at the age of 82.

As early as the 1950s, there has been debate over whether his kills had been understated, due to the Royal Naval Air Service receiving less credit than the Royal Flying Corps.  Some historians credit him with 81 (unofficial) kills, which would place him at the top of First World War flying aces, ahead of the “Red Baron” and top British Empire ace Billy Bishop.  If the application of stricter victory verification was applied, however, his score would invariably be considerably less (as with all RAF, RFC and RNAS aces’ scores in the First World War).

“A man who flew with him claimed that he would often “give” a victory to a new, green pilot, just to bolster his confidence. The new pilot would be taken out by the renowned Collishaw to “bag one”.  Anxiously following the leader, he would find himself diving on the tail of a German reconnaissance plane.  Trying to control the machine, so that the nose would stay still, he would find his gunsight wobbling all over the sky.  He would press the firing button, spraying bullets like a lawn sprinkler. Then suddenly Collishaw would appear alongside; there would be a short, deadly burst, and the new pilot would turn sick as he saw the enemy plane catch fire and plunge to earth.  He would fly back to the aerodrome, where the flight commander would clap him heartily on the shoulder and insist “You got one! Grand show, old boy!”  The new pilot, unable to speak, would nod timidly, and thereafter he would fly into battle with Collishaw anywhere.  That was -according to the story - part of Collishaw’s great quality of leadership.  Royal Canadian Air Cadets No. 205 Collishaw Squadron, named after him, is in his home town of Nanaimo. On 2 October 1999, the terminal at Nanaimo Airport was named the Nanaimo-Collishaw Air Terminal in his honour. (Wikipedia)


Air Commodore R.H. Mulock, CBE, DSO and Bar

(DND Photo, PMR71-405)

Air Commodore R.H. Mulock, CBE, DSO & Bar.

Redford Henry "Red" Mulock, CBE, DSO and Bar was born on 11 August 1886 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to parents William Redford Mulock, K.C., and Lillian Lucia Cummins, both descendants of Irish stock.

After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 1909 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, he worked as an electrical engineer. Red's first service in uniform was as a lieutenant in the militia, serving with the Canadian Field Artillery, in which he enlisted in 1911.

In 1914 he gave up his commission as an officer to enlist as a corporal in the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, a move that would see him sent overseas to serve in the First World War. Following training with the Canadian Field Artillery at Valcartier, Quebec, he shipped out for England in October 1914.

At the age of 28, in January 1915 he transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service, which began as a naval wing of the Royal Flying Corps. Red soon qualified as a pilot, earning his pilot's certificate on March 9 of that year at the Royal Naval Flying School at Eastchurch, England. Mulock was commissioned again, this time as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant in the RNAS.

In July 1915,Red Mulock was posted to No. 1 Aeroplane Wing at St. Pol Airfield in Dunkirk. Flying Nieuport type 10 and 11 aircraft, he carried out fighter patrols, bombing missions, photo reconnaissance flights and directed naval gunfire. As well, he pioneered the use of parachute flares to spot for artillery at night. On September 6 he became the first Canadian to attack a submarine when he dropped five 20-pound bombs on a U-boat. Later that month he made a lone bombing raid through cloud and mist to attack zeppelin sheds nearBrussels.

By the end of 1915, Mulock had been Mentioned in Dispatches (MID) for gallantry or otherwise commendable service. He had scored his first victory, sending down an enemy aircraft on 30 Dec. In January 1916 he downed two more and by March was promoted to Flight Commander and received another MID. On 21 May, he scored a double victory and became both the first Canadian ace to destroy Five enemy aircraft, as well as the first RNAS pilot to achieve that distinction.

(SDASM Photo)

Sopwith Pup (Serial No. A7302)

For his outstanding performance, in June 1916 Red Mulock was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Both his skill as a pilot and his leadership qualities were recognized. In 1917 Red was appointed Commanding Officer of No. 3 Naval Squadron and the Admiralty loaned the army five squadrons for Royal Flying Corps support on the Western Front at a time when German fighter squadrons ruled the air.

Mulock's No. 3 Squadron was equipped with now aging, but agile Sopwith Pup aircraft. Under Red's command his pilots, half of whom were Canadians, claimed 80 successful combats with the loss of nine Pups. Again Mulock earned the praise of his superiors for his knowledge and handling of men and machines.

The London Gazette of June 1916 reported, "Flight Lieutenant (Acting Flight Commander) Redford Henry Mulock. R.N.A.S. In recognition of his services as a pilot at Dunkirk. This Officer has been constantly employed at Dunkirk since July 1915, and has displayed indefatigable zeal and energy. He has on seven occasions engaged hostile aeroplanes and seaplanes, and attack submarines, and has carried out attacks on enemy air stations, and made long-distance reconnaissances."

In 1917 No. 3Squadron was returned to the Navy, and in September of that year Mulock left the squadron to become Senior Officer of the RNAS Depot at Dunkirk. While there, his bravery in rescuing a man from a blazing ammunition train and searching for others, his action was rewarded with another MID and the French government appointed him as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. For service from 1915-18 the British government awarded a Bar to his DSO for "brilliant leadership and skill and bravery." On January 1 of 1918 he was promoted to Wing Commander.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4818421)

Independent Force's No. 27 Group, under the command of Col R.H. Mulock, 1918.

In 1918, with the joining of the RNAS and the RFC to form the new Royal Air Force, Mulock was called upon to form a new Bomber Wing. The objective of his 82nd Wing was to attack the industrial heartland of northwest Germany. In July, he was promoted to Colonel and given charge to establish and train No. 27 Group, a special force consisting of two wings of the huge four-engine Handley Page VI 500 bomber, designed to strike deep into Germany from bases in the British Midlands. ByNovember, Mulock had one of his squadrons ready to bomb Berlin, but the war ended and the mission was scrubbed.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4816405)

Colonel R.H. Mulock of Winnipeg (sitting) with Major J.W.K. Allsop, c1918.

In 1919, due to delays in demobilization after the war, unrest built among airmen anxious to return home. Strikes began happening at aerodromes in England and Col. Mulock was given authority to settle problems. He resolved those difficulties and for that action, together with outstanding wartime service, he was appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE), the only Canadian airman to receive that honour. In June 1919, Red returned to his home town of Winnipeg, bringing with him his first wife, Edythe Goodman, whom he married in England. Unfortunately, Edythe died in England in 1923 while she and Red Mulock were visiting her parents.

When Mulock left the air force he become involved in peacetime aircraft industry. Nevertheless, he entered the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve and rose to the rank of Air Commodore, becoming an Honorary Aide de Camp to two Governors-General. By 1930, Red had joined the new Canadian Airways Limited in Quebec as assistant to the president and worked with founder James A. Richardson to coordinate mail service with a number of small companies.

Red was a skilled pilot and successful manager of military and civilian aviation organizations. He recognized the importance not only of those who flew, but the importance also of ground crew, support and policies that make a system work.

Red Mulock died in Montreal on 23 January 1961, survived by his second wife, Marion Blaiklock, whom he married in 1933.  Redford Henry Mulock was inducted as a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame on 10 June2010 at a ceremony held in Vancouver, B.C. (Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame)


Air Chief Marshal Lloyd Samuel Breadner, CB, DSC

(RCAF Photo)

A/C Breadner became Chief of Air Staff on 29 May 1940, and having been promoted to Air Marshal on 19 Nov 1941, became Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RCAF Overseas in January 1944. Breadner was promoted on his retirement on 25 Nov 1945, to Air Chief Marshal, the first Canadian to hold this rank.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4732063)

Lloyd S. Breadner and Instructor John Simpson at the Wright school, Dayton, Ohio. The pair are seated at the dual controls of a Wright Model-B biplane, c1915.

Air Chief Marshal Lloyd Samuel Breadner, CB, DSC (14 July 1894 – 14 March 1952) was a Canadian military pilot and Chief of the Air Staff during the Second World War. Breadner obtained his pilot's certificate at the Wright Flying School and was commissioned in the British Royal Naval Air Service on 28 Dec 1915. During the First World War he served on the Western Front as a fighter pilot in the No. 3 (Naval) Squadron. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant (RNAS) on 31 Dec 1916. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on 23 May 1917.

The citation read:

“For conspicuous gallantry and skill in leading his patrol against hostile formations. He has himself brought down three hostile machines and forced several others to land. On 6 Apr 1917, he drove down a hostile machine which was wrecked while attempting to land in a ploughed field. On the morning of 11 Apr 1917, he destroyed a hostile machine which fell in flames, brought down another in a spinning nose dive with one wing folded up, and forced a third to land.”

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3213052)

F/L Lloyd S. Breadner in his Sopwith Pup fighter "Happy" with the Walmer, Kent, Defence Flight, c1916.

Squadron Commander Lloyd Breadner and 3 (Naval) Squadron were posted to RAF Walmer during the Winter of 1917/1918 . He was released from the RAF with the rank of major in March 1919. He was commissioned promoted to Squadron Leader in 1920 and transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on its formation in 1924. He became Controller of Civil Aviation in 1922, and later commanded Camp Borden from 15 Jan 1924, to 23 Sep 1925. He was promoted to Wing Commander on 1 Apr 1924. After attending RAF Staff College, he was the Director of the RCAF from 15 Feb 1928 to 29 Apr 1932. From 1932 until 1935 he commanded Trenton and then attended the Imperial Defence College. He was promoted to Group Captain on 1 Feb 1936, and to Air Commodore on 4 Aug 1938.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194620)

Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King, Air Chief Marshal Lloyd S. Breadner, Mrs. Clementine Churchill, wife of PM Winston Churchill, Vice-Admiral Percy W. Nelles and Lieutenant-General Kenneth Stuart at the Quadrant Conference, 11-24 Aug 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194633)  

Air Chief Marshal Lloyd S. Breadner during the Quebec Conference,  11-24 Aug 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194619)

Air Chief Marshal Lloyd S. Breadner, Vice-Admiral Percy W. Nelles and other senior military officers attending the Quebec Conference.

On 30 Nov 1944, while he was Chief of Air Staff, his son, Flying Officer Donald Lloyd Breadner, was killed after an air gunnery exercise, while flying a de Havilland Mosquito from RCAF Station Debert, in Nova Scotia.

A/C/M Breadner’s awards include 23 May 1917: Distinguished Service Cross, 1 Jan 1943: Companion, Order of the Bath, 23 Oct 1943: Military Cross, First Class (Belgium), 24 Aug 1944: Grand Officers Cross of Polonia Restituta (Poland), 5 Oct 1946: Order of the White Lion, Class II (Czechoslovakia), 20 Dec 1946: Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander), 12 Sep 1947: Commander of the Legion of Honour (France), 12 Jun 1948: King Haakon VII's Cross of Liberty(Norway). (Wikipedia)

(IWM A 18826)

Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Chief of Combined Operations, with the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the Quebec Conference of 1943. Left to right (at Chateau Frontenac): Lord Louis Mountbatten, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, General Sir Alan Brooke, RCAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, Air Marshal L.S. Breadner, Field Marshal Sir John Dill, Lieutenant General Sir Hastings Ismay, Admiral E.J. King, General H.H. Arnold, Admiral W D Leahy, Lieutenant General K. Stuart, Vice Admiral P W Nelles and General G.C. Marshall.


Air Marshal Robert Leckie, CB, DSO, DSC, DFC, CD

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKANNo. 3575583)

Air Marshall Robert Leckie, CB, DSO, DSC, DFC, CD (16 April 1890 – 31 March 1975) was an air officer in the RAF and the Chief of Staff of the RCAF from 1944 to 1947. He initially served in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) during the First World War, where he became known as one of "the Zeppelin killers from Canada", after shooting down two airships.  During the inter-war period he served as an RAF squadron and station commander, eventually becoming the RAF's Director of Training in 1935.  He also served as the Air Officer Commanding RAF Mediterranean from 1938 until after the beginning of the Second World War.  In 1940 he returned to Canada where he was primarily responsible for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, transferring to the RCAF in 1942.  The photo was taken in 1919.

Leckie was born in Glasgow, Scotland, where his father and grandfather were weavers. In 1909 his family emigrated to Canada, where he worked for his uncle John Leckie while living in West Toronto. Leckie was initially commissioned into the 1st Central Ontario Regiment, and in late 1915 paid Can$600 to begin flying training at the Curtiss Flying School on Toronto Island. However, he had completed only three hours of training in the Curtiss Model F flying boat at Hanlan's Point, when the school was forced to close for the winter. At the urging of Sir Charles Kingsmill, the Chief of the Canadian Naval staff, the Royal Navy agreed to accept half of the class, and Leckie was sent to England. On 6 Dec 1915, he was commissioned as a probationary temporary flight sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service, and posted to Royal Navy Air Station Chingford, for training. On 10 May 1916, having accumulated 33 hours and 3 minutes flying time, he was granted Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate No. 2923, and was then sent to RNAS Felixstowe for further training in flying boats. He was confirmed in his rank of flight sub-lieutenant in June, and in August was posted to RNAS Great Yarmouth to fly patrols over the North Sea.

Leckie's first success came on 14 May 1917, as pilot of Curtiss Model H-12 'Large America' No. 8666, under the command of Flight Lieutenant Christopher John Galpin. The aircraft left Great Yarmouth on patrol at 03.30 a.m. in poor weather with heavy rain and low cloud. The weather cleared as she approached the Texel, and at 4:45 a.m. she spotted the Terschelling Light Vessel, and a few minutes later Zeppelin L 22 about 10–15miles away. The Curtiss increased speed and gained height, and Leckie took over the controls as Galpin manned the twin Lewis guns mounted in the bow. The Curtiss managed to approach to within half a mile before she was spotted, and the Zeppelin attempted to evade, but by then it was too late. The aircraft dived down alongside and Galpin fired an entire drum of incendiary bullets at a range of about 50 yards. The L 22 rapidly caught fire, and crashed into the sea.

The Curtiss returned to Great Yarmouth by 7:50 a.m., and they found only two bullet holes, in the left upper wing and the hull amidships, where the Germans had returned fire. On 22 June, for his part in downing the L 22, Leckie was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, while Galpin received the Distinguished Service Order. On 30 June Leckie was promoted to flight lieutenant.

Another memorable patrol began for Leckie at 10.35 a.m. on 5 Sep 1917, again flying CurtissH-12 No. 8666 from Great Yarmouth, under Squadron Commander Vincent Nicholl. They were accompanied by a de Havilland DH.4 biplane, and were again heading for Terschelling. However, they were only part-way to their destination when they unexpectedly encountered the Zeppelins L 44 and L 46 accompanied by support ships. The British aircraft were hit by enemy fire, but pressed their attack on the L 44. Nicholl noted several hits on the Zeppelin from his guns, but it did not catch fire. Leckie then turned the aircraft to attack the L 46, but it had turned rapidly away and was out of range, as was the L 44 by the time he turned back. Both British aircraft had been hit, and the DH.4's engine soon failed. The Curtiss had also been hit in one engine and one wing was badly damaged. The DH.4 was forced to ditch into the sea, and Nicholl ordered Leckie to put the aircraft down to rescue the two crew. However, now with six men aboard, damaged, and in heavy seas Leckie was unable to take off again.

Some 75 miles from the English coast, the aircraft began to taxi towards home. Their radio was waterlogged, but they did have four homing pigeons. Nicholl attached messages to the birds giving their position and course and sent them off at intervals. After four hours the aircraft ran out of fuel, and began to drift, so they improvised a sea anchor from empty fuel cans to steady it. That night the damaged wing tip broke off, and each man then had to spend two hours at a time outside balanced on the opposite wing to keep the broken wing from filling with water and dragging the aircraft under. After three days at sea, the six men were suffering badly. They had no food and only two gallons of drinking water, gained from draining the radiators of their water-cooled engines. Finally, at dawn on 8 September, as search operations were about to be called off, one of the pigeons was found, dead from exhaustion, by the coastguard station at Walcot, and shortly after midday they were rescued by the torpedo gunboat HMS Halcyon. Pigeon No. N.U.R.P./17/F.16331 was preserved, and originally kept in the officers' mess at RNAS Yarmouth, but is now on display at the RAF Museum Hendon. A brass plate on the display case bears the inscription "A very gallant gentleman".

On 31 Dec 1917 Leckie was appointed a flight commander. While onpatrol on 20 Feb 1918, Leckie spotted an enemy submarine on the surface, andattacked it with bombs, seeing one strike the vessel as it dived, leaving a large oil slick. Leckie was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 17 May 1918, only learning much later that he had not actually sunk it.

On 1 Apr 1918, the Royal Naval AirService was merged with the Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal AirForce, and Leckie transferred to the new service with the rank oflieutenant (temporary captain), though on 8 April he was promoted to thetemporary rank of major.

On 4 June 1918 Leckie led an offensive patrol of four FelixstoweF.2A flying boats and a Curtiss H.12 towards the Haaks Light Vessel off theDutch coast. They saw no enemy aircraft until one of the F.2A's, number N.4533,was forced down with a broken fuel feed-pipe. Five enemy seaplanes appeared,but seemed more interested in attacking the crippled F.2A. The remaining aircraft circled N.4533 as it taxied to the Dutch coast (where the crew eventually burned their aircraft before being interned), until ten more German seaplanes appeared. Leckie promptly led his small force into a head on attack, and a dogfight ensued which lasted for 40 minutes. Despite further mechanical difficulties – two other F2A's also had problems with their fuel pipes and had to effect makeshift repairs while in the middle of the action –two German aircraft were shot down, and four badly damaged before the Germans broke off the action, for the loss of one F.2A and the Curtiss (its crew survived to be interned by the Dutch), and one man killed. Leckie's force returned to Great Yarmouth, and in his report he bitterly remarked "...these operations were robbed of complete success entirely through faulty petrol pipes... It is obvious that our greatest foes are not the enemy..."

On the afternoon of 5 Aug 1918 a squadron of five Zeppelins took off from Friedrichshafen. They headed for the east coast of England, timing their flight to arrive off the coast just after dark. The leading airship, L 70 was commanded by Kapitänleutnant Johann von Lossnitzer, but also had Fregattenkapitän Peter Strasser, the Führer der Luftschiffe ("Leader of Airships"), the commander of the Imperial German Navy's airship force, on board. However, the airship squadron was spotted while out at sea by the Lenman Tail lightship which signalled their course and position to the Admiralty. Responding to the report Major Egbert Cadbury jumped into the pilot's seat of the only aircraft available, a DH.4, while Leckie occupied the observer/gunner's position. After about an hour they spotted the L 70 and attacked, with Leckie firing eighty rounds of incendiary bullets into her. Fire rapidly consumed the airship as it plummeted into the sea. Cadbury and Leckie, and another pilot Lieutenant Ralph Edmund Keys, then attacked and damaged another Zeppelin, which promptly turned tail and headed for home. All three received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

A few days later, on 11 Aug 1918 Leckie took part in another operation over the North Sea. Zeppelins often shadowed British naval ships, while carefully operating at higher altitudes than anti-aircraft guns or flying boats could achieve, and out of range of land based aircraft, so the Harwich Light Cruiser Force set out with a Sopwith Camel lashed to a decked lighter towed by the destroyer HMS Redoubt. When Leckie's reconnaissance flight reported an approaching Zeppelin, the Redoubt steamed at full speed into the wind, allowing the Camel's pilot Lieutenant Culley to takeoff with only a five-yard run. Culley climbed to 18,800 feet, approached the L53 out of the sun, and attacked with his twin Lewis guns, setting the airship on fire.
On 20 August 1918 Leckie was appointed commander of the newly formed No. 228 Squadron, flying the Curtis H-12 and Felixstowe F.2A out of Great Yarmouth. Within three months the armistice brought the fighting to an end.

Leckie remained with the RAF until 31 Mar 1919 when he was transferred to the unemployed list, and simultaneously seconded to the Canadian Air Force with the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel, to command the 1st Wing, Canadian Air Force. This unit comprised No. 81 Squadron (No. 1 Canadian), flying S.E.5 and Sopwith Dolphin fighters, and No. 123 Squadron (No.2 Canadian), flying Airco DH.9A bombers, and was based at RAF Shoreham, Sussex. The Canadian Wing had been formed in August 1918 at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, but never saw active service, and was eventually disbanded when the Canadian Expeditionary Force returned home.

On 1 Aug 1919, Leckie was granted a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force with the rank of Major (later Squadron Leader), relinquishing his commission in the 1st Central Ontario Regiment of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada on 31 Aug 1919.

On 15 December 1919 he was seconded for duty with the Canadian Air Board serving as Superintendent of Flying Operations. In this role he played a central role in the development of Canadian civil aviation, organizing and taking part in the first trans-Canada flight between Halifax and Vancouver. Leckie and Major Basil Hobbs flew from Halifax to Winnipeg between 7 and 10 Oct 1920, before other pilots and aircraft took over, finally arriving in Vancouver on 17 Oct.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3256150)

de Havilland D.H.9A (Serial No. G-CYAZ) of the Canadian Air Board at Ottawa Air Station. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Leckie is standing at the extreme left, 1921-1922.

Leckie's secondment ended on 27 May1922, and he returned to Britain to be posted to the No. 1 School of TechnicalTraining at RAF Halton on 8 June. On 25 Sep he was posted the RAF Depot (InlandArea) as a supernumerary officer, in order to attend the Royal Navy StaffCollege. On 5 July 1923 he was posted to the Headquarters of RAF Coastal Area.

On 1 Jan 1926 Leckie was promoted to wing commander, and on 16 Mar 1926 he was posted to Headquarters, Mediterranean, where on 30 March he joined the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes to serve as Senior Air Force Officer. He returned to the depot at RAF Uxbridge on 11 May 1927, and on 26 Aug was posted to Headquarters, Coastal Area, while he waited for HMS Courageous to be commissioned. Following the completion of her conversion to an aircraft carrier Courageous was commissioned at Devonport on 14 Feb 1928, and on 21 Feb Leckie joined her as Senior Air Force Officer.

Leckie returned to dry land on 5 Sep 1929, when he was appointed commander of RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk. On 11 April 1931 he became commander of No. 210 Squadron RAF, initially based at Felixstowe, and then RAF Pembroke Dock, flying the Supermarine Southampton Mk. II. On 1 January1933 Leckie was promoted to group captain, and on 30 January he was appointed both Superintendent of the RAF Reserve and commander of RAF Hendon. On 21 Aug 1935 Leckie was also appointed an additional Air Aide-de-Camp to King George V, attending the King's funeral in that capacity on28 January 1936,[49] and was appointed Air Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VIII on1 July 1936.[50] Leckie was appointed Director of Training at the Air Ministry on 5 Oct 1936, taking over from Air Commodore Arthur Tedder, and was promoted to air commodore on 1 Jan 1937, handing over the post as Air Aide-de-Camp to the King to Group Captain Keith Park the same day. Leckie's tenure as Director of Training ended on 28 November 1938, and on 2 Dec 1938 he was appointed Air Officer Commanding, RAF Mediterranean, based at Malta.

In 1940, Leckie was seconded to the RCAF to establish the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) in Canada. By the end of the war, the BCATP had trained 131,553 air crew from 11 countries. On 5 Aug 1941 he was promoted to the acting rank of Air Vice-Marshal, and served as Member of the Air Council for Training. On 6 Apr 1942 Leckie was placed on the RAF retired list on accepting a commission in the RCAF. On 2 Jun 1943 he was made a Companion ofthe Order of the Bath (CB). From 1 Jan 1944 until 31 Aug 1947 Leckie served as Chief of Staff, RCAF with the rankof air marshal.

For his service during the Second World War Leckie received the Order of Polonia Restituta (1stclass) from the President of the Republic of Poland on 1 May 1945, and was also made a Commander of the Legion of Merit by the United States, and a Grand Officer of both the Belgian Order of the Crown and the Czechoslovakian Order of the White Lion. In July 1948 he was awarded the King Haakon VII Freedom Cross by the King of Norway "in recognition of distinguished services rendered in the cause of the Allies".

Leckie retired from the RCAF on 1 Sep 1947, although he continued to take an interest in aviation, serving as a special consultant to the Air Cadet League. Air Marshal Leckie died on 31 Mar 1975, the last surviving wartime Chief of the Air Staff, aged 84. He was survived by his widow, Bernice, and two sons. Leckie was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988. (Wikipedia)

 Air Marshal Wilfred Austin Curtis, OC, CB, CBE, DSC & Bar, ED, CD

 (RCAF Archives Photo)

A/M W.A. Curtis (21 August 1893 – 14 August 1977) was a Canadian airman and Chief of the Air Staff of the RCAF from 1947 until 1953. He was born in Havelock, Ontario, having received his early education in Toronto.  He then joined the infantry of the CEF in 1915.  After he graduated on 11 Aug 1916, he joinedthe RNAS as a fighter pilot.   In1917 Curtis was promoted to captain and awarded the DSC (DSC) for his skill and courage. The award citation read:

Flt. Sub-Lieut. (act. Flt. Lieut.) Wilfred Austin Curtis, RNAS. Forconspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has on many occasions destroyedand driven out of control enemy machines. On 21 October 1917, in a combinedattack with two other pilots, he sent down an enemy machine in flames, andtwenty minutes later he followed another enemy scout from 10,000 to 2,000 feet,and sent it down in a vertical dive, which ended in a crash.

In 1918, Curtis was awarded a Bar to the DSC. He was a highly successful fighter pilot,shooting down 13 enemy aircraft confirmed.  In April 1918, he was transferred to the RAF.

On his return to Canada, he maintained his interest in military as well as civil aviation. During the late1920s and early 1930s, he served as an officer in the Toronto Scottish Regiment Reserve. In 1933, he became involved in the formation of No. 10 (ArmyCo-operation) Squadron.  Curtis became theOfficer Commanding in 1935 and initiated experimental air operations in mid-northern Ontario.

W/C Curtis was called to active duty in the RCAF on 1 Sep1939 and became deputy air officer commanding, RCAF Overseas Headquarters inLondon in 1941. He became a member of the Air Council in 1944. In 1947 he was appointed Chief of theAir Staff.  In this position he guidedthe RCAF through the difficult stages of reorganization which followed the warand through the expansion of Canada's participation in the Korean War and NATO. He received French, American and Italiandecorations in recognition of his contributions. He remained Chief of the AirStaff until his retirement in January 1953.

On his retirement from the RCAF he acceptedthe position of Vice-Chairman of Hawker Siddeley Canada, where hecontinued to have a substantial impact on the development of aviation in Canada.  He always devoted time to other aviationconcerns.  He was the President of theRCAF Association for two years until he was appointed Grand President of thatorganization, founded and organized the Canadian National Air Show in 1939 andserved as chairman of its scholarship fund and was appointed the Honorary WingCommander of the No. 400 (City of Toronto) Squadron.

Other interests included the chairmanship ofthe committee that formed York University, of which he was electedChancellor in 1960.  Heserved as Chairman of the Canadian Opera Company and President of the CanadianInter American Association.

A/M Curtis had a great interest in thedevelopment of the Canadian aircraft industry.  During his term of office, he continually andsuccessfully directed his efforts to secure money for experimental work on andproduction of a jet trainer and twin engine fighters, the Avro CF-100Canuck and the Avro CF-105 Arrow suitable for interception operationsin the northern Canadian climate.  Earlyin the Cold War, he convinced the cabinet that the RCAF should make a majorcontribution to NATO.  This resulted inan Air division of twelve Canadair CL-13 Sabrefighter squadrons beingdispatched to Europe.  This majorcontribution of 300 front line aircraft was the principal air defense force onthat continent during the 1950s.  (Canada’sAviation Hall of Fame)

Air Marshal Harold G. Edwards, CB

(DND Photo)

Air Marshal Harold "Gus" Edwards, CB (24 December 1892 – 23February 1952) was a Canadian Air Force officer who played a prominent role inbuilding the RCAF. From Nov 1941 to Dec 1943, Edwards served as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Overseas where he was responsible for all RCAF personnel. In June 2012, Edwards was posthumously inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame for his "outstanding leadership in building Canada's national air force".

Harold Edwards was born inChorley, Lancashire, England on 24 Dec 1892; he immigrated with his family to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in 1903. At age fourteen, he left school to work as atrapper boy in the coal mines, but also began home study following his shifts. By the age of 18 he qualified as the mine's chief electrician, and by 1915 hehad educated himself to a sufficiently high level to be accepted into the Royal Naval Air Service. Edwards earned his pilot's wings in 1916 and graduated as a flight sub-lieutenant.

During the First World War, Edwards was posted to No. 3 (Naval) Wing at Luxeuil-les-Bains, France, where he shot down one German aircraft, but was then himself shot down and captured. After two failed attempts to escape he succeeded on the third attempt; only to be recaptured and returned to Colmar for the remainder of the war.

After repatriation to England, Edwards joined the Royal Air Force (RAF), which had been formed on 1 April 1918by amalgamating the Royal Naval Air Service and the Army's Royal Flying Corps.In 1919, Edwards held the rank of captain in the RAF and volunteered to fly inthe fight against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution in South Russia. Hewas assigned to No. 47 Squadron under the leadership of Major Raymond Collishaw. For service in Russia, he received the Order of Saint Stanislaus and the Orderof St. Anna as well as being Mentioned in Despatches.

After the war, Edwards returned to Canada and joined the newly-formed Canadian Air Force, a few months after its formationon 18 February 1920. Following a short flying refresher he was posted to Ottawa and placed in charge of the personnel branch where he was responsible fordocumenting Canadians with First World War experience in the RAF thenrecruiting them into the provisional air force and setting up an air trainingcentre at Camp Borden. By 1924, the Canadian Air Force had grown sufficiently toacquire permanent status as a component of the new Department of Defence. On 1Apr 1924, Canada's national air force was accorded royal assent and officiallyestablished as the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Following his work to develop apersonnel organization for Canada's national air force, Edwards returned toflying duties in June 1924 and was appointed Officer-in-Charge of VictoriaBeach, a flying boat detachment of RCAF Station Winnipeg on the south shore ofLake Winnipeg. The program to photograph Canada from the air began in earnestin 1924, with the Manitoba detachments leading the other units in Canada byphotographing 27,000 square metres (0.027 km2) in over 180 hours of flying.Edwards demonstrated that aerial photography was equally accurate to groundsurveys and saved a time and labour. Edwards also recommended that crew size ofthe Vickers Viking flying boat be reduced from four to three to carry morestores and safety equipment. He also authored a report documenting andstandardizing how aerial mapping photos were taken. The Manitoba detachmentalso led other RCAF detachments in forestry patrols, flying 1,020 hours onforest fire patrols, timber cruising and transporting officials to inaccessibleregions. The work of Edwards and his compatriots fostered an "airmindedness" in Canada and paved the way for Canada's civil aviationpioneers. Edwards' Commanding Officer reported him to be, "A very capablepilot and efficient officer in every respect – keen and energetic. A goodorganizer and Commander".

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3580819)

S/L Edwards and HQ Senior NCOs, 28 Nov 1932.

In 1934, Edwards was selected to command RCAF Station Dartmouth (now 12 Wing Shearwater), where he formed one ofthe RCAF's first squadrons after the crippling Depression. No. 5 (Flying Boat)Squadron was created by amalgamating the five RCAF detachments at Dartmouth,Shediac, Gaspé, Sydney and Rimouski. Under his leadership, No. 5 Squadron initiated anti-smuggling air patrols with a Royal Canadian Mounted Police observeron board. The patrols were flown in consort with RCMP marine vessels to thwart illegal rum running along the Nova Scotia coast. Under his direction, No. 5Squadron initiated the first use of aircraft radios to report suspect vessels to RCAF and RCMP ground stations. He also introduced a tactical grid system todisguise geographic positions to foil rumrunners who eavesdropped on the wireless communications.

After the disastrous 1936 gold mine tragedy at Moose River, the provincial premier requested Edwards'assistance in coordinating the rescue mission. Edwards transmitted messages and coordinated No. 5 Squadron aircraft to fly rescue equipment and personnel tothe mine and to transport the injured to hospitals in Halifax; enabling them to receive treatment several days earlier than if transported by land. Millions inNorth America and Europe heard the rescue described on the radio. It was duringthese broadcasts that Edwards became known as he explained the RCAF's role inthe rescue; his leadership engendered interest in air power and respect for theRCAF.

During the post-Depression periodin the mid-1930s the government implemented an Unemployment Relief (UER)Project to create work for destitute and unemployed people and stimulate theeconomy. The RCAF benefited from the UER Projects by receiving more money andpersonnel, new aircraft and improved air stations. During 1937 and 1938, Edwardsoversaw the UER Project at RCAF Station Dartmouth, which expanded the smallseaplane base at Baker's Point into the largest and most important air stationin Eastern Canada. He supervised the purchase of land from neighbouring farmersand the construction of new hangars and runways. Edwards' Commanding Officerreported, "In addition to his [regular] duties, Edwards has been in chargeof UER Project No. 153 (Dartmouth Air Station) where his sound judgement anduntiring energy have been the main factor in carrying out this work underconsiderable [social upheaval] difficulties".

Under Edwards' command, RCAFStation Dartmouth and No. 5 Squadron were the only RCAF units in Canadadeclared combat ready at the outbreak of the Second World War. Notwithstandingthe RCAF's obsolescent aircraft and lack of experience in modern air warfare,Edwards prepared the station to play a role in the air defence of Halifax'sstrategic harbour, and the eventual defeat of the ubiquitous U-boats in theBattle of the Atlantic.

At the outbreak of the SecondWorld War, Canada agreed to be the principal venue for the British CommonwealthAir Training Plan (BCATP), which involved the construction of 107 flyingschools and 184 other units at 231 sites across the country. As Air Member forPersonnel at RCAF Headquarters in 1940–1941, Edwards was responsible formanning the RCAF and providing the essential personnel support servicesincluding discipline, pay, medical, chaplains, senior appointments, promotions,retirements, postings and reserve forces, as well as compiling Personnel StaffEstimates and supervising Personnel Appropriations. To help meet the immediater equirement for so many qualified flying instructors, Air Marshal Billy Bishopturned to the American Clayton Knight Committee to facilitate the recruitmentof hundreds of American civilian flying instructors and staff pilots, andEdwards dealt with the complexities of absorbing these Americans into the RCAFwhile respecting politically sensitive diplomatic protocols to avoid violatingUnited States neutrality.

The BCATP was able to provide over131,000 aircrew to Commonwealth air forces who were critical in replacing theacute loss of pilots during the Battle of Britain and the loss of more than 55,000aircrew in the bomber offensive over occupied Europe. The BCATP enabled the Commonwealth nations to man their air forces in Europe, North Africa and the Middle and Far East.

In January 1942, in the midst of the Second World War, Edwards was transferred to London, England as the "Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RCAF Overseas". Edwards' wide rangeof experience in administration, his concern for the welfare of both officersand other ranks, and certainly his forceful personality made him the bestchoice to command all RCAF personnel overseas, not only in England but also inthe Middle and Far East.

According to BCATP Article XV,Canadian graduate aircrews were to form 35 RCAF squadrons after arrival inEngland. However, when Edwards arrived in London he discovered that Canadianswere dispersed over "Hell's half acre" within the RAF. RCAF Officersin the posting departments in England had received little direction toconcentrate Canadians into RCAF squadrons and were uncertain of the location ofmore than 6,000 Canadians posted into RAF squadrons. Edwards established aRecords and Statistics Directorate to track the whereabouts of all RCAFpersonnel. He increased RCAF medical staff in RAF hospitals and supported thebuilding of the plastic surgery hospital in East Grinstead. He improved thepostal system and introduced a Canadian newsletter, Wings Abroad. Edwardsestablished seven district headquarters, to provide a direct channel of communication for RCAF personnel in the field, on matters administered by the RCAF (pay, allowances, promotion, etc.). Similarly, with the ever-increasing number of RCAF personnel in the Mediterranean and Far East, district headquarters were opened in Cairo, Egypt and India.

(DND Photo)

A/V/M Edwards.

With so many Canadians serving in RAF squadrons, Edwards was concerned that Article XV was not being implemented as agreed by the signatories to the BCATP. Moreover, the large number of Canadians embedded in RAF squadrons obfuscated the RCAF's contribution to the air war andCanada was not being justly recognized for its contribution. Edwards met with his RAF counterparts to revitalize Article XV, a process that became known as "Canadianization", where Canadians would form distinct RCAF squadrons, which would fight as Canadian units under Canadian command. This plan received harsh criticism from the highest ranks of the RAF; his assertiveness made him unpopular around the Air Ministry.

(DND Photo)

A/V/M Edwards (right) chats with Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada, at the world premiere of Captains of the Clouds in London.

Conflicting direction from Ottawa urging him to press for "Canadianization" but not to antagonize the Air Ministry took a toll on his health. Eighteen RCAF fighter squadrons, organized into six Canadian wings, formed the largest Commonwealth contingent in the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force. Similarly, 15 bomber squadrons in No. 6Group RCAF in RAF Bomber Command earned recognition of Canada's major role in carrying the fight to the enemy in the night skies over Nazi occupied Europe. In the same vein, six RCAF anti-submarine and anti-shipping squadrons provided yeoman service in RAF Coastal Command. By the end of the Second World War, RCAF BCATP establishments and squadrons in Europe constituted the fourth largest Allied air force.

For his leadership in RCAF's overall contribution to the Allied victory in the Second World War, Air Marshal Edwards received awards of distinction from the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Czechoslovakia. 16 Dec 1919 – Mentioned for valuable services whilstin captivity (London Gazette), 19 Jan 1920 – Order of St. Stanislaus w/sword and bow (Russia), 15 Mar 1920 – Mentioned in Despatches, 23 Mar 1920 – Order ofSt. Anne w/sword and bow (Russia), 1 Jan 1943 – Companion, Order of the Bath,13 Aug 1946 – Commander, Legion of Merit (United States of America), 12 Sep1947 – Croix de Guerre avec palme (France), 12 Sep 1947 – Officier de la Légion d'Honneur (France), 5 Mar 1948 – Order of the White Lion For Victory – Star, First Class (Czechoslovakia), 14 Jun 2012 – Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.

Exhausted from RCAF work, Edwards' failing health forced him to return to Canada on 31 Dec 1943. He retired from the RCAF on 29 Sep 1944 and died on 23 Feb 1952, at the age of 59, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Six days later the RCAF buried its first Air Marshal with national honours in Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery on 29 Feb 1952. On 15 Jun 2012,sixty years after his death, Air Marshal Edwards was reinterred beside his comrades-in-arms in the National Military Cemetery, located within Beechwood Cemetery. (Wikipedia)

Flight-Lieutenant DavidErnest Hornell, VC

(DND Photo)

F/L David ErnestHornell, 1944.

Flight-LieutenantDavid Ernest Hornell (26 Jan 1910 –24 Jun 1944), won the RCAF’s first Victoria Cross (posthumously)following an attack on a U-boat with his Consolidated PBY-5A Canso in 1944.  F/L Hornell VC was born on Toronto Island, Mimico,Ontario.  

He enlisted in the RCAF in January1941, and received his pilot's wings in September the same year. After furtherinstruction at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, he was posted to the RCAFstation on North Vancouver Island. Commissioned in 1942, Flight LieutenantHornell completed 60 operational missions, involving some 600 hours flying.

Asthe pilot of a twin-engine Canso amphibian aircraft flying with RCAF No. 162 Squadron, he conducted an attack on a German U-boat in theNorth Atlantic on 24 June 1941.  U-1225was sunk, but in the process his Canso was shot down.  The crew spent some 21 hours in the water,and in spite of rescue, F/L Hornell died of exposure shortly after being pickedup.[1]

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3231553)

P/O David E. Hornell, RCAF, 4 Oct 1941.

The following is a detailed report of the action:

           “Flight-Lieutenant David Ernest Hornell, RCAF 162 Squadron, was captain and first pilot of a twin-engined amphibianaircraft engaged on an anti-submarine patrol in northern waters.  The patrol had lasted some hours when a fullysurfaced U-boat was sighted, travelling at high speed on the port beam.  Flight-Lieutenant Hornell at once turned toattack.

           The U-boat altered course.  The aircraft had been seen and there could beno surprise.  The U-boat opened up withanti-aircraft fire, which became increasingly fierce and accurate.  At a range of 1,200 yards, the front guns ofthe aircraft replied; then its starboard gun jammed, leaving only one guneffective.  Hits were obtained on andaround the conning tower of the U-boat, but the aircraft itself was hit, twolarge holes appearing in the starboard wing. 

           Ignoring the enemy fire, Flight Lieutenant Hornell carefullymanoeuvred for the attack.  Oil waspouring from his engine, which was, by this time, on fire, as was the starboardwing; and the petrol tanks were endangered. Meanwhile, the aircraft was hit again and again by the U-boat'sguns.  Holed in many places, it was vibratingviolently and very difficult to control. Nevertheless, the captain decided to press home his attack, knowing thatwith every moment the chances of escape for him and his gallant crew would growslenderer.  He brought his aircraft down verylow and released his depth charges in a perfect straddle.  The bow of the U-boat was lifted out of thewater.  It sank and the crew were seen inthe sea. 

           Flight-Lieutenant Hornell contrived, with superhumanefforts at the controls, to gain a little height.  The fire in the starboard wing had grown moreintense and the vibration had increased.  Then the burning engine fell off.  The plight of the aircraft and crew was nowdesperate.  With the utmost coolness, thecaptain took his aircraft into the wind and, despite the dangers, brought itsafely down on the heavy swell. Badly damaged, the aircraft rapidlysettled. 

           After the ordeal by fire, came ordeal by water.  There was only one dinghy, and this could nothold all the crew.  So, they took turnsin the water, holding on to the sides. Once, the dinghy capsized in the rough seas and was righted only withgreat difficulty.  Two of the crew succumbedfrom exposure.  An airborne lifeboat wasdropped to them but fell some 500 yards downwind.  The men struggled vainly to reach it andFlight-Lieutenant Hornell, who had encouraged them with his cheerfulness andinspiring leadership, proposed to swim to it, though he was nearly exhausted.  The survivors were finally rescued after theyhad been in the water for 21 hours.  By thistime Flight-Lieutenant Hornell was blinded and completely exhausted.  He died shortly after being picked up. 

           Flight-Lieutenant Hornell had completed 60 operational missions, involving 600 hours of flying.  He knew the danger and difficulties attending attacks on submarines.  By pressing home, a skilful and successful attack against fierce opposition, and by fortifying and encouraging his comrades inthe subsequent ordeal, this officer displayed valour and devotion of the highest order.”[2]

(DND Archives Photo, PMR77-147)

Boeing Canada Canso A RCAF (Serial No. 9754),No. 162 Squadron, RCAF, photographed in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in 1943. This isthe aircraft that F/L David Hornell was flying when he and his crew were shot down on 24 Jun 1944.

David Hornell Junior School, an elementary school in Mimico is named after him. The Canso aircraft in the collection of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario, was restored in the colours and markings of No. 162 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron and dedicated to the memory of Flight Lieutenant David Hornell, VC. A squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in the west end of Toronto, Ontario, is named after him.
A Toronto Island Airport ferry is named after Hornell. The Wing Operations building at No. 14 Wing, CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Canada is named after Hornell. His Victoria Cross is on loan to 1 Canadian Air Division Winnipeg and is on display at the Air Force Heritage Museum. (Veterans Affairs Canada)

Pilot Officer. Andrew C. Mynarski, VC

(DND Archives Photo, PL-38261,and IWM Photo, CHP 975)

Pilot Officer Andrew C. Mynarski, VC.

P/O“Andy” Mynarski, VC, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and joined theRCAF in 1941.  P/O Mynarski was themid-upper gunner of a Lancaster aircraft detailed to participate in a raid onthe Cambrai railway yards in France on the night of 12-13 June 1944.  “Shortly after crossing the French coast, Lancaster VR-A, No. KB726 of the Royal Canadian Air Force 419“Moose" Squadron” was briefly coned by enemy searchlights. After some evasive manoeuvres, they were in the safety of darkness again.They began descending to the level of their planned attack when a German Junkers  Ju 88 night-fighter came in from astern.  Its cannons blazed from below. Three explosionstore the aircraft.  Both port engineswere knocked out and began to flame.  Hydrauliclines to the rear turret were severed and the fluid ignited, turning the rearof the fuselage into an inferno.  The captain,Art de Bryne gave the order to bail out.

P/OMynarski made a heroic effort to extricate the rear gunner P/O George (Pat) Brophy, from the turret of his burning Lancaster, even thoughhis own parachute and clothing were on fire. Ironically, Mynarski, who was able to bail out, died in the action whilethe trapped gunner incredibly survived to tell the tale.  The citation for his VC reads:

           “PilotOfficer Mynarski was the mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster aircraft, detailed to attack a target at Cambraiin France, on the night of 12th June 1944.  The aircraft was attacked from below andastern by an enemy fighter and ultimately came down in flames.  As an immediate result of the attack, both portengines failed. Fire broke out between the mid-upper turret and the rear turret,as well as in the port wing.  The flamessoon became fierce, and the captain ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft.

           Pilot Officer Mynarski left his turret and went toward the escapehatch.  He then saw that the rear gunnerwas still in his turret and apparently unable to leave it.  The turret was, in fact, immovable, since thehydraulic gear had been put out of action when the port engines failed, and themanual gear had been broken by the gunner in his attempts to escape.

           Withouthesitation, Pilot Officer Mynarski made his way through the flames in anendeavour to reach the rear turret and release the gunner.  Whilst so doing, his parachute and his clothing,up to the waist, were set on fire.  Allhis efforts to move the turret and free the gunner were in vain.  Eventually the rear gunner clearly indicatedto him that there was nothing more he could do and that he should try to savehis own life.  Pilot Officer Mynarskireluctantly went back through the flames to the escape hatch. There, as a lastgesture to the trapped gunner, he turned toward him, stood to attention in hisflaming clothing and saluted before he jumped out of the aircraft. Pilot OfficerMynarski ‘s descent was seen by French people on the ground. Both his parachuteand his clothing were on fire. He was found eventually by the French but was soseverely burned that he died from his injuries.

           Therear gunner had a miraculous escape when the aircraft crashed. He subsequentlytestified that, had Pilot Officer Mynarski not attempted to save his comrade’slife, he could have left the aircraft in safety and would, doubtless, have escapeddeath.  Pilot Officer Mynarski must have been fully aware that in trying tofree the rear gunner he was almost certain to lose his own life. Despite this,with outstanding courage and complete disregard for his own safety, he went tothe rescue. Willingly accepting the danger, Pilot Officer Mynarski lost his life by a most conspicuous act ofheroism which called for valour of the highest order.”[3]

           Andy Mynarski’s VC is on display at Air Command Headquartersin Winnipeg, Manitoba; in addition to an aluminum side panel from his Lancaster (Serial No. KB726) VR-A, complete with holes from the cannon shellsfired by the German Ju 88 that shot theaircraft down.  Also displayed here is aBrowning .303 machine gun from P/O George (Pat) Brophy’s rear turret, and many other major historical artefacts.[4]


Squadron Leader Ian Willoughby Bazalgette, VC, DFC

(Bomber Command Museum Photo)

Squadron Leader Ian Willoughby Bazalgette, VC, DFC (19 October 1918 – 4August 1944) was a Canadian-British pilot in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. S/L Bazalgette was the “Master Bomber” of a Pathfinder Squadron detailed to mark an important target for the main bomber force.  On 4 August 1944, while pilotingan Avro Lancaster in a pathfinder role, Bazalgette and crew flew to Trossy St.Maximin in France to mark a V-1 flying bomb storage cave.

Whennearing the target, his Lancaster came under heavy anti-aircraft fire.  Both starboard engines were put out of actionand serious fires broke out.  The bombaimer was badly wounded.  As the deputy ‘MasterBomber’ had already been shot down, the success of the attack depended on S/LBazalgette and this he knew.  Despite the appalling conditions in hisburning aircraft, he pressed on to the target, marking and bombing it accurately.  After the bombs had been dropped theLancaster dived, practically out of control. By expert airmanship and great exertion, S/L Bazalgette regained control.  The port inner engine then failed and thewhole of the starboard main-plane became a mass of flames.  S/L Bazalgette fought to bring his aircraft andcrew to safety.  The mid-upper gunner wasovercome by fumes.  

S/LBazalgette then ordered the members of his crew who were able toleave by parachute to do so. F/LCharles Godfrey DFC, Sgt George Turner, F/O Douglas Cameron DFM, and F/L GeoffreyGoddard bailed out. He remained at the controls and attempted the almost hopeless task oflanding the crippled and blazing aircraft in a last effort to save the woundedbomb aimer and helpless air gunner nearSenantes (Oise).

Withsuperb skill and taking great care to avoid a small French village nearby, he broughtthe aircraft down safely.  Unfortunately,it then exploded, killing him andthe remaining two wounded crew members, F/L Ivan Hibbert DFC and F/S VernonLeeder. S/L Bazalgette was posthumously awarded the VC.[5]

IanWilloughby Bazalgette was born in Calgary,Alberta, Canada on 19 October 1918 to parents of English and Irish background,Charles Ian Bazalgette (1888–1956) and Marion Edith,née Bunn (1891–1977). His great-grandfather was the civil engineer Sir JosephBazalgette. Bazalgette was always known as"Will" in his family, to distinguish him from his father, who wasknown as "Ian". Bazalgette began his schooling at theToronto Balmy Beach School, but his family returned to England in 1927. He grewup in New Malden, England and attended Rokeby School in Wimbledon (1927–1932)and then Beverley Boys Secondary School as well as receiving private tutelage.In his childhood he suffered from poor health, and at 13 was diagnosed withclinical tuberculosis, which required four months of treatment at the Royal Sea-BathingHospital, Margate, in 1931.

Whenthe Second World War broke out, Bazalgette enlisted in the Royal Artillery,being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1940. After serving in theSearchlight Section as an instructor, he transferred to the Royal Air ForceVolunteer Reserve. He soloed within a week of beginning his flight training atRAF Cranwell and swiftly completed his ab initio flying by 24 January 1942, giventhe rank of pilot officer. His first posting was to No. 25 Operational TrainingUnit (OTU) but by September 1942, he had joined an operational bomber squadron,No. 115 Squadron RAF at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk. Flying the venerable VickersWellington bomber, "Baz" was sent out initially on "gardening"sorties, laying mines in the North Sea. After 13 operations, Bazalgette and his squadron transitioned tothe Avro Lancaster, completing their training in March 1943.

Aftercompleting 10 more operations successfully on raids against heavily defendedtargets, including Berlin, Essen, Kiel and St. Nazaire, and surviving someharrowing escapes including a crash landing, Bazalgette was awarded the DistinguishedFlying Cross (DFC) on 29 May 1943. The award noted his "great courage anddetermination in the face of the enemy".
With the end of his tour of 28 operations, Bazalgette was posted as an instructor andFlight Commander to No. 20 OTU in Lossiemouth, Scotland, before he was "recruited"for the Pathfinders. He transferred in April 1944 to No. 635 Squadron RAF, partof No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group, based at RAF Downham Market in Norfolk.

When his conversion training was completed, 25-year-old "Baz" flew as anacting squadron leader, taking part in a number of operations during and afterthe D-Day campaign. As the assigned Master Bomber, Bazalgette's 58th and final operation was the bombing of V-1 rocket storage cavesat Trossy St. Maximin.

A memorial to Bazalgette, Hibbert, and Leeder can be seen along theroad beside the farm where he landed the plane. Bazalgette Gardens in New Malden, Surrey, where he hadattended Beverley Boys School, was named in his honour during the early 1950s.A school in Calgary, Ian Bazalgette Junior High School, isalso named after him.

(Tony Hisgett Photo)

Avro Lancaster (Serial No. FM159),Nanton, Alberta.

The Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton,Alberta, south of S/L Bazalgette’s hometown of Calgary, has restored and painted Avro Lancaster(Serial No. FM159), in the colours and markings of S/L Bazalgette's aircraft. A dedication ceremony was held in 1990. GroupCaptain T.G. “Hamish” Mahaddie, who had honored Bazalgette's request to be transferred intothe Pathfinders, came from England to speak at the ceremony. Ethel Broderick,Bazalgette's sister, unveiled a plaque and the markings of the Bazalgette aircraft, coded F2-T, were unveiled by two of Bazalgette's crew members, ChuckGodfrey and George Turner.

AirVice Marshal G.E. Brookes, CB, OBE

Air Vice Marshal G.E. Brookes CB, OBE (22 October 1894– 8 September 1982), English by birth, was in charge of the Canadian Groupwithin Bomber Command during the period 1942 – 1944. He had been able to establish from abroad and out of nothing at all a complete Group and to prepare it forbattle. The British government was very impressed by this achievement and awarded him the Order of the Bath. The chief of Bomber Command, Air Marshal SirArthur Harris, however was not satisfied with Brookes and took his command away from him.

George Eric Brookes was born on 22 October 1894 in Yorkshire. When he was sixteen he emigrated with his parents to Canada. The Brookes familyestablished themselves in the little town of Owen Sound in Southern Ontario.When the First World War broke out a few years later, Brookes enlisted in theCanadian Forces. With the Royal Canadian Medical Corps, he left for France in1914, where he would serve for two years.

In 1916 he was offered the chance to be transferred tothe Royal Flying Corps, which he accepted. He became a pilot in No. 13Squadron. One year later however he was wounded, which was the end of the warfor him. After having recovered from his wounds he enlisted in the UK with theRoyal Air Force which was established after the war. He became a flightinstructor. After three years he returned to Canada and enlisted with the RCAFhoping to be able to make a career. In the following 15 years he occupiedvarious positions within the service.

When the Second World War broke out, Brookes wasengaged in the planning of the Canadian coastal defenses in the HQ Eastern Air Command in Halifax Nova Scotia. At that time, he had achieved the rank of GroupCaptain. In May 1940- he was promoted to the rank of Air Commodore and receivedthe command of No. 1 Training Command in Toronto. Two years later he left forEngland. Here the Canadian politicians pleaded the case of a special CanadianGroup to be established within Bomber Command. The heads of the RAF and BomberCommand, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal and Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harrishad their reserves about this – in their minds – colonial experiment, butfinally they did agree.

Brookes was appointed on 24 October, 1942, as the headof the to be newly formed No. 6 Group, which became operational on the 1st ofJanuary 1943. Brookes had been allocated an enormous task. His new Groupcontained six airfields and eight squadrons in October 1942. Some of theairfields were under construction at that moment and apart from two of them,his squadrons still operated aging Vickers Wellington bombers.

Brookes succeeded in building an operational air Groupfrom scratch. In the night of 3 to 4 January 1943 No. 427 Squadron RCAF flewthe first mission of the Canadian Group. Brookes succeeded in modernizing andexpanding his Group continuously. The British government thought this anachievement of great impact and awarded Brookes with the Order of the Bath, forhis professionalism at establishing No. 6 Group. Without interruption, No. 6Group provided support to Bomber Command until 25 April 1945.

Although Brookes had accomplished a tremendous amountof work with No. Group, Harris was not impressed with his leadership qualities.Harris was especially concerned about the high percentage of bombers of No. 6Group that returned from a mission before the target had been reached.According to Harris this high percentage was due to a low morale as a consequenceof mediocre leadership. He thought Brookes to be too much of a fatherly figureinstead of the dynamic leaders he liked to see heading his Groups. Brookes andhis staff made an effort in the fall of 1943 to decrease the number of earlyreturning aircraft, but with little effect. Crews were to prove withphotographs that they were forced to return early and were extensivelyinterrogated about this. The percentage of No. 6 Group in November was onlyjust above the average of the other Groups. For Harris however, it wasinsufficient, and he replaced Brookes in February 1944 and appointed Air ViceMarshal Clifford McEwen as the new head of No. 6 Group. Brookes consequentlydecided to leave the RCAF in Nov 1944 and retired.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4818153)

Air Vice-Marshal C.E. McEwen, shaking hands with Air Vice-Marshal Brookes, 4Mar 1944.

After his retirement Brookes played a big part in the expansion of the RCAF Cadets. During the war in this organization young menwere trained for service in the RCAF, but after the war it concentrated more on the teaching of citizenship, leadership and fitness in combination with flyinglessons. Brookes was also chairman of the RCAF Association for some time. George Brookes passed away on 8 Sep 1982, at his home in Toronto. He was 87years of age. (RCAF Association)

Air Vice Marshal Clifford Mackay McEwen CB, MC, DFC& Bar

(DND Photo)

Air Vice Marshal Clifford Mackay McEwen CB, MC, DFC& Bar (2 July 1896 – 6 August 1967) was a fighter ace in the British RoyalFlying Corps during World War I and a senior commander in the Royal CanadianAir Force during World War II. His Second World War service culminated in hiscommanding No. 6 Group RCAF in England from 28 February 1944 to 13 July 1945.

During his command, the performance of the RCAF was greatly improved, becoming the most successful Allied bombing force in severalways. By late 1944 the RCAF had both the best survival rate and the highest accuracy of any bombing force. McEwen was born on 2July 1896 in Griswold, Manitoba and grew up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.(Wikipedia)

(Air Force Museum of Alberta Archives Photo, AF2012.034)

During his service in the First World War as a fighter pilot with both the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, McEwen was awarded the Military Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar. Flying a Sopwith Camel alongside William Barker with No. 28 Squadron RFC/RAF in northern Italy, McEwan wascredited with 27 aerial victories and the squadron’s highest scorer.

He remained in Canadian aviation service throughout the interwar period. Duringthe Second World War he was appointed to No. 6 Group RCAF in England and ledthe 15 bomber squadrons under his command from their training days to theirlong-range bombing operations.

CliffordMcKay McEwen was born inGriswold, Manitoba in 1896. He grew up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, attendingthe provincial university with plans to become a clergyman. The First World Warintervened, and he enlisted in early 1916 in the 196th (Western Universities)Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force bound for Europe.

Whilein England, and now a Corporal, McEwen was commissioned as a 2ndLieutenant and seconded to the RFC. Demonstrating exceptional flying skill, hewas sent to No. 28 Squadron to fly fighters in France in Oct 1917. That month,the Italian Army suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of German forcesthat were bolstering their Austrian allies. No. 28 Squadron was ordered to theItalian front. In keeping with the Squadron motto, “Quicquid Agas Age” –Whatsoever You May Do, Do, McEwen eventually racked up a score of27 enemy aircraft. He shot down an Albatross DIII near Conegliano on 30 Dec1917 and ended his score with the destruction of an Albatross DV over theTagliamento River on 4 Oct 1918. In addition to the MC and DFC & Bar, hewas awarded Italy’s Bronze Medal for Military Valour. In the citation for his DFCBar, McEwen was describedas “A brilliant and courageous pilot who has personally destroyed twenty enemymachines. Exhibiting entire disregard of personal danger, he never hesitates toengage the enemy, however superior in numbers, and never fails to inflictserious casualties. His fine fighter spirit and skillful leadership inspired allwho served with him.”

Withthe end of the war on 11 Nov 1918, Captain McEwen was posted to No. 1 Squadron inthe newly established Canadian Air Force in England. Demobilized back to Canadain 1919, he joined the semi-military Air Board with Canadian Commercial Pilotlicense No. 73 and became a flying instructor at Camp Borden, Ontario. Aboutthis time, he acquired the nickname ‘Black Mike’. As he told biographer ArthurBishop it was “Nothing sinister, I just happen to tan easily.”

Whenthe RCAF was established in 1924, McEwen was commissioned a FlightLieutenant and became active in aerial survey operations. His promotion toSquadron Leader came in 1929 and to Wing Commander in 1937. During theseinterwar years he flew all types of aircraft on strength with the RCAF andattended the RAF Staff College at Cranwell.

Bythe outbreak of the Second World War, McEwen was a Group Captain in charge ofRCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, and heavily involved with the buildup ofCanada’s wartime air force. Promoted Air Commodore during 1941, he went to No.1 Group, Eastern Air Command, Newfoundland, which was engaged in anti-submarinewarfare against the German U-boat threat to convoy shipments to a beleagueredBritain. It was during these early days of the Battle of the Atlantic that McEwen grew a reputation as a seriouslydisciplined leader.

Aftertwo years McEwen was sent to RAFLinton-on-Ouse in England. A Mention In Dispatches several months later states:“This officer was appointed base commander at No. 62 Operational Base in June1943; since then, five squadrons have either formed or converted after movementinto the base, Air Commodore McEwen has by his untiring efforts andleadership brought the base to a very high level of operational efficiency. Hisability and zeal have been worthy of the highest praise.”

Duringthis same period, a strong political move had been made to have Canadian airmenserve together as a united fighting force rather than being deployedindividually into Royal Air Force squadrons. To this end, No. 6 Group wasformed within RAF Bomber Command as an RCAF entity in January 1943. Its firstyear had been less than stellar. Based in Yorkshire, the Group had the longestdistance to fly to reach the enemy coast. Combat losses were high due totraining deficiencies and tactical shortcomings in the growing tempo of takingthe war to the enemy until Allied armies could land in Europe. In the words ofhistorian David Bashow, “No. 6 Group was a formation in shock and feeling sorryfor itself. In short, it was a unit in need of tough love. Perhaps the mostdifficult problems to overcome were the significant morale problems generatedby the losses themselves…”

InFeb 1944, McEwen was promotedAir Vice-Marshal and became Air Officer Commanding No. 6 Group RCAF. Acceptedas someone who had proved his mettle in the First World War; he initiallydismayed his personnel by implementing a program of arduous and demandingtraining along with stern discipline. However, A/V/M McEwen was not a desk pilot. He led inthe air, often accompanying his airmen on difficult enemy targets. Althoughofficially prohibited from flying operationally, a suitably uniformed ‘Sergeant’McEwen, was known to quietly slip aboard a Berlin-boundLancaster or Halifax bomber from time to time. The airmen of No. 6 Group grewto fully appreciate a commander who knew and shared their dangers.

Overall,McEwen was very awareof the pressures endured by his stressed aircrews and overworked ground crews.When not flying himself he never slept during the nights that his Group wasoperational and would informally meet and greet his returning aviators at theirdebriefings. Furthermore, in recognition of their outstanding efforts heordered that base commanders increase their number of submissions for honoursand awards. Group Captain Johnnie Fauquier, then leading No. 62 Base, recalled that each squadron was to submit aminimum of ten recommendations monthly in addition to Immediate Action Awards.

(Bomber Command Museum of Canada Photo Collection)

RCAF Air Vice-Marshal Clifford Mackay “Black Mike” McEwen, commander of No. 6 Group, RCAF in the foreground, RAF Air Vice-Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris, in the middle, and RCAF AirMarshal G.O. Johnson, AOC RCAF Overseas, in the background, wave goodbye to thefirst of 141 Canadian Lancasters departing for Canada from RAF Middleton St. George, in the UK.

One of theAvro Lancaster Mk. Xs destined to join Tiger Force was Lancaster (Serial No.KB999), the 300th Canadian-built Lancaster.  When it came off the assemblyline in Malton, Ontario, Victory Aircraft Corporation production staffdedicated this aircraft to A/V/M McEwen and had his pennant painted on the nosewith the words “Malton Mike”.  After the end of the war, KB999 wasassigned to the No. 405 Vancouver Squadron, RCAF, and flew A/V/M McEwan toCanada on 17 June 1945.

Bythe end of 1944, under McEwen’s able stewardship, No. 6 Group’s combat loss rate became the lowestof all Groups of heavy bombers. They also became the most efficient. The AOCBomber Command, Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, RAF, lobbied eloquently (andforcefully) to obtain a knighthood for McEwen’s contribution to the war effort but Canadian regulations forbade theacceptance of titles. In the event, McEwen was made a Companion of theOrder of the Bath with King George VI bestowing that decoration on him in Feb1945 at Buckingham Palace.

Inthe months that followed, France named McEwen an Officer of the Legion ofHonour with special mention for the efforts of No. 6 Group during the D- Dayinvasion and the liberation of their nation. After VE Day, the United Statesappointed him a Commander of the Legion of Merit with the words: “Hisoutstanding achievements on the headquarters staff and as the operational commanderof the Canadian bomber group, in planning and executing the RCAF’s part in theclose cooperation which has existed between the United States Army Air Forceand the British air services, and his success in advancing cordial relationsbetween these services have been outstanding characteristics of his fine work.These achievements are a reflection of his effective association with theUnited States forces in his previous position of Air Officer Commanding No. 1Group, Eastern Air Command, whose cooperation between the services was thefoundation of their success.”

WithGermany defeated, McEwen was appointed to command thebomber group of Tiger Force. Tasked to deploy to the Pacific to assist in thewar effort against Japan, this Canadian Force was rendered unnecessary afteratomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

AirVice-Marshal Clifford MacKay McEwen retired in 1946 after anextraordinary 30-year career. Taking up residence in Montreal, he continued tocontribute to aviation development as managing director of Trans CanadaAirlines, the forerunner of today’s Air Canada. He also took a strong interestin the men who had served under him during the war, by championing veterans’causes. He served as the national vice-president of the Canadian Legion and asa long time president of the Dominion Council of the Last Post Fund. He diedduring Canada’s Centennial Year 1967 and was buried at the Last Post’s Field ofHonour in Pointe Claire, Quebec. McEwen was survived by his wife of 40years and three daughters.

AirChief Marshal ‘Bomber’ Harris opined in his memoires that McEwen had received too little appreciation. In truth, it is the diminishing number of Canadian Veterans whoserved with him, offshore from their homeland, that best knew Black Mike. He had led them by example – albeit in the guise of a Sergeant Pilot. He was Canada’s highest-ranking airman to have flown in combat during the Second WorldWar. In 2003 CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, was officially named Air Vice-MarshalC.M. McEwen Airfield. (J. AllanSnowie)

(RCAF Archives Photo)

Headquarters, RCAF 6 Bomber Group Overseas - 23 May 1944

Air Vice Marshal C.M. McEwen, MC, DFC and Bar, Air OfficerCommanding, discusses a point of interest with some of his senior officers.Beside him are, left to right: Major A.K.L. Stephenson, Nelson, BC.; Air Commodore C.R.Slemon, CBE, Winnipeg and Bomanville, Ontario,senior air staff officer; Group Captain J.E. Fauquier, DSO and Bar, DFC, Ottawa, in charge ofoperations; and a Lieutenant-Commander, Royal Navy, 23 May 1944. All branchesof the armed services worked in close harmony as bombing operations againstenemy targets were carefully planned at headquarters of RCAF No. 6 Bomber Groupin the UK.

Air Commodore Leonard Joseph Birchall, CM, OBE, DFC, OOnt, CD

(DND Archives Photo, PL-133463)

Air Commodore Leonard Birchall, 30 May 1961.

Air Commodore Leonard Joseph Birchall, CM, OBE, DFC, OOnt, CD (6July 1915 – 10 September 2004), "The Saviour of Ceylon", was an RCAFofficer who warned of a Japanese attack on the island of Ceylon during theSecond World War. On 4 Apr 1942, S/L Leonard J. Birchall and crew of a Consolidated Catalina with No. 413Squadron RCAF, sighted a large Japanese naval force steamingto attack Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and gave the Allied defence network warning.  The Catalina was shot down with three killedand the rest taken prisoner. S/L Birchall was awarded the DFC for this action

Birchall was born in St. Catharines, Ontario andgraduated from St. Catharines Collegiate. He was always interested in flyingand worked odd jobs around St. Catharines to pay for flying lessons. Afterserving in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS), Birchall enrolled as a cadet at the Royal Military Collegeof Canada in Kingston, Ontario (student No. 2364) in 1933. He was commissionedin the RCAF upon graduation in 1937 and was trained as a pilot.

At the outbreak of the Second WorldWar in 1939, Flying Officer Birchall flew convoy and anti-submarine patrols fromNova Scotia flying with No. 5 Squadron RCAF. The squadron was equipped with theSupermarine Stranraer.

On 10 June 1940, Birchall was responsible for the capture of an Italianmerchant ship, the Capo Nola, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, hours afterCanada declared war on Italy. Birchall had been tasked with locating any Italianvessels still in Canadian waters as the outbreak of war became imminent, and onthat date, he found the Capo Nola. Birchall had been informed of the declaration of war byradio so made a low pass over the freighter, as if making an attack. Thispanicked the captain into running his vessel aground against a sandbank.Birchall then touched down nearby and waited untilRoyal Canadian Navy vessels reached the scene. The Capo Nola's crew werethe first Italian prisoners taken by the Allies during the war.

In early 1942, he joined No. 413Squadron RCAF, then based in the Shetland Islands and flew patrols over theNorth Sea. After the Japanese successes in southeast Asia, the squadron wassent to Ceylon to provide a reconnaissance force.

(DND Photo)

Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall in his Catalina,Ceylon, 1942.

On 4 April 1942, only two days afterhis arrival, Squadron Leader Birchall was flying a PBY Catalina flying boat (SerialNo. AJ155), coded QL-A, which was patrolling the ocean to the south of Ceylon.Nine hours into the mission, as the plane was about to return to base, shipswere spotted on the horizon. Investigation revealed a large Japanese fleet, theNagumo Task Force (Responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbour), including fiveaircraft carriers, heading for Ceylon, which at that time was the base for theRoyal Navy's Eastern Fleet. Birchall's crew managed to send out aradio message, but the Catalina was soon shot down by six A6M2 Zero fightersfrom the carrier Hiryū.

The Japanese continued to strafe thewreck seriously wounding Sergeant John Henzell in the front turret. He was lostwhen the aircraft sank along with Warrant Officer Lucien "Louis"Colarossi. The Japanese continued their attack on those survivors in the waterkilling Sgt. Davidson. The remaining six crew members were eventually picked upby the Japanese destroyer Isokaze.

The Easter Sunday Raid went aheaddespite Birchall's signal, but his warning putthe defenders on alert and allowed the harbour to be partially cleared beforethe Japanese attacked Colombo.  Birchall and his surviving crewmembers spent the restof the war as prisoners of war.  For manycaptured servicemen, a trip to a Japanese camp meant death.

As the senior Allied officer in foursuccessive Japanese prisoner of war camps, the resistance led by Birchall helped to reduce the Allied death rate from anaverage of 30% to less than 2%. During his time in the prison camps, herepeatedly stood up to the Japanese and demanded fair treatment of the prisoners,in compliance with the Geneva Convention. In his first camp, he struck aJapanese soldier who was forcing a wounded Australian to work. This earnedBirchall a severe beating and solitary confinement, butwon him the respect of the other prisoners. In 1944, Birchall encountered a situation in which sick men werebeing forced to work on the docks. He ordered all of the men to stop workinguntil the sick were excused. Birchall was beaten and sent to a special disciplinecamp, where he again was beaten. He saved many ill soldiers by taking theirbeatings.

Birchall was liberated on 27 August 1945 by Americantroops. His wife Dorothy had not known whether he was dead or alive for two years.His diaries, written during his captivity and buried, formed the basis of anumber of Allied wartime trials at which Birchall testified.

In the immediate postwar years,Birchall served on the Canadian attaché staff inWashington, D.C., then was a member of the Canadian NATO delegation in Paris.He later commanded a fighter base and was the commandant of the Royal MilitaryCollege of Canada from 1963 until his retirement from the Canadian Forces in 1967.He retired from the RCAF rather than be associated with the unification of theArmed Forces. He later served as honorary colonel of No. 400 TacticalHelicopter and Training Squadron and No. 413 Squadron in the Air Reserve.

From 1967 to 1982 Birchall was chief executive and administrative officerof the Faculty of Administrative Studies at York University, which awarded himthe degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa on the occasion of his retirement in1982. In the 1994 general election in Sri Lanka, Birchall was an official observer. Birchall died in Kingston, Ontario at the age of 89.

Birchall was made an Officer of the Order of theBritish Empire (OBE) in 1946, after his return to Canada for his work in the prisoner of war camps. His citation:

In April 1942, this officer was shotdown and captured after sending out the warning from his patrolling seaplanethat a large force of Japanese warships was approaching Ceylon. Throughout histhree and a half years as a prisoner of war Wing Commander Birchall as Senior Allied Officer in the prisoner ofwar camps in which he was located continually displayed the utmost concern forthe welfare of his fell ow prisoners. On many occasions with complete disregardfor his own safety he prevented as far as possible Japanese officials of variouscamps from sadistically beating his men and denying prisoners the medical attentionwhich they so urgently needed. Typical of his splendid gallantry was when inthe Niigato Camp he called a sit-down strike in protest against ill treatmentof his men. On another occasion when the Japanese wanted to send some sick prisonersof war to work Wing Commander Birchall found it necessary at great personal risk to forciblyprevent the Japanese non commissioned officer in charge from making these prisonerswork. As a result, Wing Commander Birchall spent several days in solitary confinement. Nevertheless,the sick prisoners of war did not have to work. Knowing that each time heforcibly intervened on behalf of his men he would receive brutal punishment WingCommander Birchall continually endeavoured to improve the lot of hisfellow prisoners. He also maintained detailed records of personnel in his campsalong with death certificates of deceased personnel. The consistent gallantry andglowing devotion to his fellow prisoners of war that this officer displayed throughouthis lengthy period of imprisonment are in keeping with the finest traditions ofthe Royal Canadian Air Force.

Birchall was also awarded the Distinguished FlyingCross (DFC) for his part in detecting the attack on Ceylon and for alerting theAllies during that 1942 flight. The presentation was made on 29 April 1946 atthe Embassy of Ceylon in Washington, D.C. Hume Wrong, the Canadian Ambassadorto the United States, presented the OBE and the DFC to Birchall, in the presence of theAmbassador of Ceylon, Sir Claude Corea.

When citizens of his hometown, St.Catharines, Ontario, heard Birchall was missing in action, students of Connaughtschool planted a memorial tree. The Len Birchall Memorial Circle is also in St. Catharines. In1950, U.S. President Harry Truman appointed Birchall an Officer of the Legion of Merit, saying:"His exploits became legendary throughout Japan and brought renewed faithand strength to many hundreds of ill and disheartened prisoners."

In 2000, Birchall was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.In 2001, he was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. He was an honorarycolonel at the Royal Military College of Canada. Birchall was the only member of the Canadian militaryto have earned five clasps for his Canadian Forces' Decoration (CD), representing62 years of service with the air force. The only other person with five claspswas Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

As a recipient of the 2001 Vimy Award,Birchall was recognized as a Canadian who made asignificant and outstanding contribution to the defence and security of Canadaand the preservation of Canada's democratic values. He was also honoured for hisyears of service to the community, including building a facility in 1993 at aKingston Girl Guide camp at his own cost.

The Leonard Birchall Sports pavilion at the Royal Military Collegeof Canada, in the area of the Navy Bay sports fields, was constructed in hishonour, from December 2008 to September 2009. The road leading to the terminaland hangars at Kingston's Norman Rogers Airport is named Len Birchall Way.  Birchall was honoured in 2009 as one of the 100 mostinfluential Canadians in aviation and had his name emblazoned directly behindthe starboard roundel on the fuselage with the others on the 2009 CF-118Centennial of Flight demonstration Hornet.

His widow Kathleen Birchall donated money to the Air Cadet League ofCanada to set up a scholarship in his name. On 9 November 2011, No. 883 AirCommodore Leonard Birchall Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadetsbased in Markham, Ontario was formed. In 2011, Air Commodore Birchall's name was also added to thewall of honour at the Royal Military College of Canada.


Air Marshal William Ross MacBrien, OBE, CD

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3940981)
Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham, KCB, DSO, MC, DFC, AFC, AOC in C. of the 2ndTAF [Tactical Air Force], gives an informal fighting address to ground-crew,aircrew and RAF Regiment personnel during a recent visit to an RCAF airfield.By his side is Group Captain W.R. MacBrien,Ottawa, commanding officer of a Canadian Sector of the 2nd TAF, 30 May 1944.

Air Marshal William Ross MacBrien, OBE, CD, RCAF (1913–1986), commonly known as Bill MacBrien or Iron Bill,was a senior Royal Canadian Air Force officer during the Second World War and a senior commander in the 1950s and 60s. MacBrien was born in1913 in the United Kingdom. He joined the RCAF in 1935 and during the Second World War he commanded a Canadian fighter sector in continental Europe. In the early 1950s,he was a senior staff officer at the Headquarters of Canada's Air DefenceCommand in Saint-Hubert, Quebec before being appointed to further staff dutiesat No. 4 Allied Tactical Air Force(4 ATAF) at Lansberg in Germany.

In September 1958 MacBrien took over asAir Officer Commanding Air Defence Command. Deputy commander in chief at theSHAPE HQ in Belgium in 1967. From August 1967 to January 1969 MacBrien was the DeputyCommander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). MacBrien died in 1986.His body was buried in the Beechwood National Military Cemetery in Ottawa. (Wikipedia)


WingCommander Gordon Roy McGregor, CC, OBE, DFC, BSc, LLD (Hon)

(RCAF Photo)

Gordon Roy McGregor, CC, OBE, DFC, BSc, LLD.(Hon), was born in Montreal, Quebec, on 26 Sep 1901. He was educated there and at St. Andrew's College,Toronto, Ontario. He graduated from McGill University in Montreal, in 1923 witha B.Sc. degree in engineering. He then joined Bell Telephone Company inMontreal, and after serving several years in the engineering department, hebecame Division Engineer at Ottawa, Ontario, in 1929. He was promoted toDistrict Manager at Kingston, Ontario, in 1932, and moved back to Montreal in1938 as Central District Manager.

McGregor's flying career began at Kingston in 1932 and thefollowing year he obtained his Pilot's Licence at Ottawa. He entered pilotingcompetitions, and won the Webster Trophy in 1935, 1936 and again in 1938, asthe best amateur pilot in Canada. He then joined No. 115 Auxiliary Squadron of the RCAF as aFlying Officer and in 1939 he proceeded overseas with No. 1 RCAF FighterSquadron.

McGregor was a FlightCommander with this squadron when it arrived in the UK on 20 June 1940. Duringthe Battle of Britain he claimed a German Dornier Do 17 bomber destroyed on 26 August, another Do17 probably destroyed and another damaged on 1 Sep, a Messerschmitt Me 110damaged on the 4 Sep, a Heinkel He 111 destroyed on 11 Oct, another probably destroyedon the 15th, a Junkers Ju 88 destroyed and a Bf 109 and two Do 17's damaged onthe 27th, and Bf 109's destroyed on 30 Sep and 5 Oct 1940. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) (gazetted 25 Oct 1940). McGregor was promotedto Squadron Leader and commanded the squadron during November and December 1940. In January1941 he was given command of No. 2 Squadron RCAF at Digby, which was re-numbered No. 402Squadron on 1 March.

(RCAF Photo, PL 10627)

Veterans of No.1 (Fighter Squadron RCAF with a Supermarine Spitfire.

McGregor was promoted on 14 April to lead the Canadian Wing at Digby. He came off operations on 31 Aug 1941 and returned to Canada but was back in London by October. He was appointed Director of Air Staff at HQRCAF London on 5 December and did this job until 17 April 1942, when he again returned to Canada, to assist in the development of fighter operations in Western Air Command.

He formed and then commanded a Wing to give air support to the Americans in Alaska. McGregor was made an OBE (gazetted 1st January 1943),promoted to Group Captain and posted back to Canada in late February 1943. As Commanding Officer of X Wing he was appointed to head the force sent to Alaska, and served as the point of contact between the Alaska Defence Command and the RCAF. McGregor subsequently headed No. 14 Fighter Squadron in the Aleutians before taking command of the RCAF Station at Patricia Bay, British Columbia on 1 April, with the rank of Group Captain.

McGregor returned to England on 23 Feb 1944, and spent four months at HQ 83 Group.  In mid-July was given command of 126 (RCAF) Wing. He still flew occasional sorties, one ofhis last being on 28 March 1945, when he destroyed a locomotive. Said to be the oldest Canadian fighter pilot to see action in the war, McGregor left the Wing on 27 Sep. He returned to Canada and was released from the RCAF on 27 Nov 1945. He was awarded the C de G (Fr) in 1947, the Czech Military Cross and was made a Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords.

(RCAF Photo)

Wing Commander Gordon Roy McGregor and Squadron Leader A. Deane Nesbitt, 19 Sep 1941. Both were pilots during the Battle of Britain. McGregor became the first RCAF commander of a wing when he helped form the Digby Wing in April 1941; Nesbitt commanded 144 Wing from 1 May to 13 Jul 1944and 143 Wing from 1 Jan to 7 Sep 1945.

When the war ended in 1945, McGregor was hired by Trans-Canada Airlines at Montreal as General Traffic Manager. In 1948he was named President of the airline, taking over from TCA's second President, H.J. Symington. McGregor was the principal figure in guiding that airline through its difficult years of expansion, with the result that Air Canada, as it was renamed in 1965, became one of the world's leading carriers. He oversaw the move of TCA's head office from Winnipeg to Montreal in 1949, and the addition of several new, more comfortable passenger aircraft, including Lockheed Super Constellations in 1954, turboprop-powered Vickers Viscounts in 1955,Vanguards in 1960, Douglas DC-8 jet aircraft in 1960, and Douglas DC-9's in1966. McGregor retired in 1968after twenty years as President.

McGregor was active in community service and aviation-related organizations. He was named to the board of management of the Montreal General Hospital, the advisory council of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association, and the national council of Boy Scouts of Canada. After serving on the traffic committee of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), he was elected to the executive committee in 1949, and in 1953 was elected President of that organization.

McGregor's many honours included being named an Honorary Fellow in both the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and the Royal Aeronautical Society. He was named a Commander Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (C.St.J.) and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by McGill University. During Canada's centennial year, he was presented with CASI's 1967C.D. Howe Award for his services to the nation. In 1968 he was created a Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.) and awarded the Pioneer Aviation Medal of the United States. He was appointed to a one-year term as Grand President of the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association. He died at Montreal, Quebec, on 3 March 1971.

Gordon McGregor was inducted as a member of the Quebec Air and Space Hall of Fame in 2002 and in 2004 he was inducted into Canada's Business Hall of Fame. Gordon Roy McGregor was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta. (Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame)

Wing Commander George Clinton Keefer, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, Netherlands Flying Cross, French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star

(Bill McRae Photo)

Squadron Leader Ian Ormston on the left and Squadron Leader George Keefer on the right, show off a pair of German Shepherd pups at RAF Tangmere, UK, in the months leading up to the invasion of Normandy. Both are wearing the Distinguished Flying Cross beneath their wings.

George ClintonKeefer was born in NewYork of a Canadian mother and an American father. George spent part of hischildhood in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. After receiving a scholarshipto study Mechanical Engineering at Yale University, he enlisted in the RCAF inOctober 1940, receiving his “wings” in April 1941. He hadsoloed after only four hours instruction and graduated at the head of his class.Keefer was quickly posted overseas to an OperationalTraining Unit and then to RAF Squadron No 274 flying Hurricanes in the MiddleEast. He returned to Europe in May of 1943 and flew Supermarine Spitfires withthe RCAF’s No. 416 and No. 412 Squadrons.

During the course of the war, Keefer rose to the rank of Wing Commander and flew three tours of operation accounting for 12 enemy aircraft destroyed, 2 probables, 5 destroyed on the ground, with 9 others damaged and over 60 enemy vehicles and ground installations destroyed.‘Johnnie’ Johnson spoke very highlyof Keefer in hisautobiography, “Wing Leader.”

Wing Commander George Keefer was flying leader of No. 125 Spitfire Wing under the command of Johnnie Johnson who had justbeen transferred from No. 127 Wing and promoted to Group Captain. In his book 'Wing Leader' Johnnie tells this story about "The bravest man I've ever known." (S/L Wally Conrad, who flew with both of them, claimed that was an understatement).

"We found a lot of Huns during the latter half of April. We destroyed fighters, bombers, transports, Stuka dive bombers, trainers, and a bunch of seaplanes we'd found floating in a lake. We could not catch the Jets in the air but we knew they were operating from Lubeck on the Baltic Coast. We paid special attention to this airfield, shooting the Jets down when they took off or came in to land. Some of the enemy leaders showed flashes of their old brilliance but the rank-and-file were poor. One evening George Keefer led one of the squadrons on a sweep round the far side of the Elbe and I led a finger-four down sun from him. We swung toward an airfield neatly camouflaged in the midst of woods. Heavy flak bracketed us and George led us into the cover of the low sun. On the airfield I saw a squadron of Messerschmitts about to take off. Five minutes later we returned in a fast dive from the sun. The Bf 109's were still there. Hundreds of light flak guns joined the heavy barrage against us. My heart sank. Probably we all thought the same thing: the war could only last a few more days. The pilots Bf of the 109's below had probably left their cockpits for the engines had stopped. What were the chances of getting through the flak now that the gunners were roused? I reckoned they were about 50-50.

George said, "Graycap, I'm going in with my number 2 (F/O Trevarrow). Cover us will you?" I wanted to say, "Is it worth it?" but only muttered: "Okay George."

The two spitfires got smaller and smaller as they went down in a fast dive. Their Gray-Green camouflage merged into the spring greenery below and for a second or two I lost them. But the gunners on the ground still saw them, and the whole airfield seemed to sparkle with the flashes from the guns. We saw the Spits again when they streaked over the boundary of the airfield. We saw George's Cannon shells bouncing on the concrete. I shouted into my microphone "Up a bit George you're under deflecting!" Then his shells ripped into the last Messerschmitt in the line. It caught fire, its ammunition exploded, and the Cannon shells slammed into the next 109. In a matter of seconds, the whole lot were blazing, and a great spiral of white smoke curled up from the airfield.

"You all right George?"
"Fine Graycap. Am climbing up."
"Red 2?"
"I've been hit sir but she's flying" replied the wing man.
"Lead him home George and we'll cover you" I instructed. I twisted my neck for a final look at the airfield. All 11 Messerschmitts were burning fiercely. It was the best and bravest strafing attack I had ever seen...

On 27 July 1943, S/L Keefer, who had been in command of No. 412 squadron RCAF for about 6 weeks, was leading them on a late afternoon sweep 15 miles over France, when the engine of his Spitfire, packed up. He managed to make it over the French coast and was roughlyfour miles north-west of Cayeux, at 1000ft, when he baled out. Having landed safely in the water and inflated his dinghy, Keefer began to paddle for the English coast, but it was already 6pm and although the alarm had been raised, poor weather conditions hampered efforts to rescue him. Keefer paddled for six hours until he was finally picked up by a Supermarine Walrus of the Air-Sea Rescue Service at 11.45pm.

By the time he retired from the RCAF in 1947, George Keefer had flown more Ops(468) than any other Canadian pilot except Stan Turner (500). He joined the management team of Canadair, eventually rising to become their Vice-President. In 1968, he bought ‘Plastal’ (today Avior) an aerospace composites manufacturing company based in Granby, Quebec, which he ran very successfully until his death in 1985, in Montreal. (Kenley Revival)

F/O William 'Willy' McKnight, DFC and Bar, No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron RAF

(IWM Photo)

William Lidstone"Willie" McKnight joined the RAF in early 1939 and served in No. 242Squadron RAF during the final phase of the Battle of France, covering theAllied retreat from Brittany, and later the Battle of Britain. McKnight'saircraft wore a distinct cartoon of a jackboot kicking Hitler on the port sideof the engine cowling. His Hurricane also carried a human skeleton image whichheld a sickle in its hand under the cockpit, on both sides of the aircraft.[1] McKnight scored 17 victories,as well as two shared and three unconfirmed kills. McKnight was shot down andkilled on 12 January 1941 during a fighter sweep over Calais.

William 'Willy' LidstoneMcKnight was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on 18 Nov 1918 and moved withhis family to Calgary in 1919. He was educated at Crescent Heights High Schoolin Calgary and after graduating, enrolled in medical school at the Universityof Alberta in 1938. Deciding on a flying instead of a medical career, he lefthis native Canada for England in Jan 1939 to join the RAF on a short servicecommission. After completing his flying training, he joined the newly reformed No.242 (Fighter) Squadron at Church Fenton on 6 Nov 1939, a squadron composedalmost entirely of Canadian personnel.

With his flight commander andfellow Canadians Slim Grassick and StanTurner, McKnight went to France on 14 May 1940 onattachment to No. 607 Squadron. A few days later they were attached to No. 615 Squadronat Moorselle, Belgium and on 19 May, McKnight claimed his first victory, a MesserschmittBf 109 destroyed over Cambrai, becoming the second Canadian to down a Luftwaffeaircraft in the Second World War. Two days later, he returned to England.Flying over Dunkirk on 28 May, he claimed a Bf 109 destroyed but was himselfattacked by another Bf 109 which damaged his Hurricane's oil system.

(IWM Photo, CH 1342)

RCAF P/O William McKnight, Acting S/L Leader Douglas Bader, RAF, CO, and Acting F/L Eric Ball, RAF, No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron, RAF, standing outside the Officers' Mess at Duxford, Cambridgeshire in 1940.  By the date this photograph was taken these pilots had, between them, shot down over thirty enemy aircraft.  S/L Douglas Bader DSO,DFC. Bader was one of the RAF's top fighter aces until he was shot down in 1941. He spent the remainder of the war in a German POW camp.

No. 242 Squadron was badly mauled over France, losing 11 pilots. It was reassembled at Coltishall with anew commanding officer, Squadron Leader Douglas Bader. In 242, he saw a squadron that needed to be "whipped back into shape" and he proceeded to establish his brand, selecting new flight commanders, requisitioning new equipment and eventuallywinning the approval of every squadron member, especially "Willie" McKnight. Bader saw his top ace as a surrogate son and chose him as a wingman.[5]

On 29 May, McKnight claimed one Bf 109 and a Dornier Do 17 destroyed with a further Bf 109 claimed as a probable and that evening, was awarded an immediate DFC, making him the firstCanadian fighter pilot to be decorated in the Second World War. On 31 May hedestroyed two Messerschmitt Bf 110s and on 1 June, claimed two Junkers Ju 87sdestroyed and two probables.

On 30 Aug he claimed three Bf 110sand one Heinkel He 111 destroyed and on 9 Sep, two Bf 110s. He destroyed a Do 17 on 18 Sep and shared in the destruction of a Junkers Ju 88. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC on 8 Oct.  On 5 Nov he claimed his final victory, a shared Bf 109 over the Thames Estuary. McKnight disabled a Bf 109, pulling up close to it and motioning for the enemy fighter pilot to lower his undercarriage in a sign of defeat. Instead, the pilot (Fw Scheidt of Jagdgeschwader 26) bailed out over the Thames.

On 2 Jan 1941, McKnight, in company with P/O M.K. Brown, was on an offensive cross-Channel operation. While strafing an E-boat in the English Channel, P/O M.K. Brown accompanying McKnight, broke off as the duo were under fire from anti-aircraft fire from the French coast just as a Bf 109 attacked.  Although Brown managed to get in a quick burst of fire at a Bf 109 going after his leader, both aircraft disappeared into cloud and McKnight was never seen again.  Brown made it back home, but McKnight was listed as 'missing'. Recent research suggests McKnight fell to Fw. Helmut Brügelmann of Jagdgeschwader 26 8./JG26 (three kills) who was himself KIFA 15Jan 1941 when he crashed his Bf 109E-4 (Wk. Nr 3728) off St. Valery, France.  Bader was distraught at the loss of McKnight and vowed revenge, but 242's "top gun" was never found.  Fellow Canadian ace Pilot Officer John B. Latta (seven kills and one shared) was also killed on this day.

At the time of his death, Willy McKnight was thehighest scoring Canadian pilot. His name is entered on the Air Forces memorialat Runnymede, and he is remembered on a commemorative plaque displayed atCalgary International Airport; a section of the main road which passes Calgaryairport also bears his name. (Halliday, Hugh. The Tumbling Sky. (Stittsville,Ontario: Canada's Wings, 1978)

Group Captain Percival Stanley Turner, DSO, DFC & Bar

(IWM Photo, CH 1376)

Flight-Lieutenant P S Turner of No. 242Squadron RAF, rests on the tail elevator of his Hawker Hurricane Mark I, after landing at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, (No. 242 Squadron were based at Coltishall, Norfolk at this time). Turner, a Canadian citizen, was a successful fighter pilot over France and during the Battle of Britain in 1940, destroying ten enemy aircraft.

Group Captain Percival Stanley Turner, DSO, DFC & Bar (3 September 1913 – 23 July1985) served with the RAF and the RCAF during the Second World War. He holds therecord of the most combat hours flown of any Canadian pilot.

Turner's parents emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, when he was at a young age. While studying engineering there, he joined the RCAF Auxiliary. In 1938 Turned joinedthe RAF, completing his pilot training just as Britain entered the Second World War. He was posted to fly Hurricanes with No. 242 Squadron RAF.  Over Dunkirk, he scored the first of his 14aerial victories during the war. During the Battle of Britain, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

Stan Turner was also involved in some other interesting and remarkable events during the war. He flew escort for the mission that was agreed to by the Germans todrop an artificial leg to Douglas Bader. Turner and Bader were good friends, despite a rocky start when Bader took over command of the Canadian pilots who had survived the Battle of France.  Bader won over Turner and the other Canadians by generously replacing their kit they had lost in France from his personal stores, not to mention by demonstrating his flying skills.  

After the Battle of Britain, Turner was posted to No. 145 Squadron RAF in June 1941,where he transitioned over to the Supermarine Spitfire Mk II. During this time,Johnnie Johnson remarked that Stan was a "Fearless and great leader" of his squadron.  In October 1941 he was awarded a Bar to his DFC while flying over France again.

With a short rest in between, Turner was then given command of No. 411 Squadron RCAF. His posting there spurred many requests to be transferred to the squadron, a notable one accepted was that of Robert Wendell "Buck" McNair. In 1942, he was then transferred to the command of No. 249 Squadron RAF. On Malta at the height of the Siege of Malta. In 1943, he became wing leader of No. 244 Wing, fighting in Italy. In 1944, he was promoted to group captain and commanded No. 127 Wing RCAF.

In May 1944Stan was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the citation confirmed his 14victories. “This distinguished fighter pilot has flown nearly 900 operational hours in single-engined fighters. Since November 1943 he has taken part in all the more important air operations during the invasion of Sicily and Italy andin the Sangro and Anzio battles. He has destroyed fourteen enemy aircraft and has always shown the utmost gallantry, enthusiasm and leadership.”

He was postedback to the desert, to HQ, Desert Air Force to learn the intricacies of running entire Wings and Groups of aircraft. By this time, the Desert Air Force was ina backwater of the war, and it was pretty quiet. In November, his HQ schooling was over and he was posted to Britain as part of 84 Group of the 2nd TacticalAir Force, now fighting in Belgium. In January 1945 he was promoted to Group Captain and made CO of No. 127 Wing conducting intensive "mopping up"operations on the continent with four Spitfire Squadrons.

The famous Johnnie Johnson was his first Wing Commander Flying, he was succeeded by thevery successful Canadian WC Stocky Edwards. He oversaw the conversion of 127Wing to ground attack duties and flew with it on the more important missions. By July the war was over and GC Stan Turner was posted back to England toAldermaston until December. He reverted to the rank of Wing Commander as therewere just not enough positions in the Air Force for all of the Group Captainswho were freed up by the disbandment of the fighter squadrons. In July 1946 hetransferred to the RCAF and attended Staff College. He took over 20 Wing fromMarch 1947 to Feb 1948. In this period, he was awarded the Czechoslovakian WarCross, 1939 and Medal for Bravery for his work in the war. He then went througha variety of other duties, including Canadian Air Attaché in Moscow fromSeptember 1954 to Oct 1957. He was made the Commanding Officer of RCAF StationLachine for 18 months. Then he was Air Force HQ Staff Officer, Personnel Administrationin August, 1961. He finally retired as a Group Captain in 1965.

Following retirement,he became an executive with the planning staff of Expo 67. Following this heworked with the exposition "Man and his World". He lived in the quiettown of Chambly, Quebec. He died on 23 July 1983, of a heart attack, whileteaching kids to swim at a local pool in Ottawa. He had returned to hislong-ago career of swimming instructor. Turner was inducted into Canada's AviationHall of Fame in 1974. (Wikipedia)


Flight Lieutenant Henry Wallace McLeod DSO, DFC and Bar

(RCAF Photo)

Flight Lieutenant Henry Wallace McLeod DSO, DFC and Bar (17 December 1915 – 27September 1944) was a Canadian fighter pilot and flying ace with the RCAFduring the Second World War. He achieved a total of 21 enemy aircraftdestroyed, three probably destroyed, and 11 damaged, and one shared damaged.  McLeod scored 13 of kills during the Battle ofMalta, earning the nickname "The Eagle of Malta".

HenryMcLeod was born in Regina, Saskatchewan to James Archibald McLeod, and HannahElizabeth McLeod on 17 December 1915.  James McLeod was from Brooklyn, Nova Scotiaand went to Acadia University. At the time of James' death, long after theSecond World War, he was reputed to be the oldest living graduate of Acadia.McLeod's mother, Hannah, died from Spanish flu, during the pandemic, when hewas three. McLeod was an average student, never excelling, but always managingpass grades. From a young age he had a reputation as a fast learner.

McLeodbegan his military career in 1928, serving with the 5th SaskatchewanRegiment and Regina Rifle Regiment until 1934. McLeod joined the Royal CanadianAir Force on 2 September 1940. He graduated from training on 1 April 1941 andarrived in Great Britain on 9 May 1941, attending 57 OTU.

McLeodbegan fighter sweeps over France in July 1941 with No. 485 Squadron and No. 411RCAF. By May 1942 he had scored five victories. On 13 October 1942 McLeod wasawarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation read:

“InSeptember 1942, this officer participated in an engagement against at least 20Messerschmitt 109's [sic]. Despite the odds, Flight Lieutenant McLeod soskilfully led his section during the combat that the enemy force was completelybroken up. This officer has always displayed the greatest determination toengage the enemy and has destroyed at least 5 and damaged a number of otherhostile aircraft. His leadership has been most inspiring.”

Soonafterwards McLeod was moved to No. 603 Squadron on Malta and in July joined No1435 Squadron. On 3 Nov 1942, he received a Bar to his DFC for his actions inthe island's defence. It is believed McLeod was credited with 12 enemy aircraftat this point.  During his time in Malta,it is thought McLeod may have shot down and killed the 47 victory ace Heinz"Figaro" Golinski on 16 Oct 1942. The citation read:

“Oneday in Oct 1942, this officer took part in an attack on a formation of sixJunkers 88's and shot two of them down. Although his aircraft was damaged inthe combat he led his section in an attack on another formation of nine enemybombers. Afterwards, he skilfully flew his damaged aircraft to base. During aperiod of five days Flight Lieutenant McLeod destroyed five enemy aircraft inthe defence of Malta. A gallant fighter, this officer has destroyed 12 anddamaged many more enemy aircraft.”

On4 Dec 1942 it was reported that McLeod had been sent for a rest in Britainafter destroying 13 enemy aircraft in three months. Included in his claims wereseven Messerschmitt Bf 109s, three Junkers Ju 88s and three Macchi C.202.

On5 September 1944 McLeod was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished ServiceOrder for 250 missions and 21 aerial victories, plus three probably destroyedand 12 damaged. McLeod scored most of his kills in the Spitfire Mk. V, scoring13 kills, two probables, 11 damaged and 1 shared damaged. The citation read:

“Thisofficer continues to display the highest standard of courage and resolution inair operations. He is an exceptional leader and a relentless fighter whoseachievements are worthy of the highest praise. He has destroyed 17 enemyaircraft.”

On27 Sep 1944, McLeod was leading a section of six aircraft of his squadron onhigh patrol as part of the fighter Wing led by Wing Commander James"Johnnie" Johnson over Nijmegen, Netherlands. During the actionMcLeod went missing. Johnson made repeated calls over the R/T, but McLeod didnot answer. After landing, Johnson could see his friend had not returned.Johnson questioned the rest of the pilots and one reported seeing Wally chasinga lone Messerschmitt. Knowing McLeod's character, Johnson believed he wouldhave attacked regardless of the enemy fighter's advantage:

“Ifeel certain that he wouldn't have let go of the 109 until the issue had beendecided one way or the other. There was no other aircraft in the area [thatJohnson had seen] and they must have fought it out together, probably above thecloud. To start with he would have been at a disadvantage, for the 109 wasalready several thousand feet higher. I think the Messerschmitt got him. It wasalways all or nothing for Wally.”

Theremains of his Spitfire Mk. IX (Serial No. NH425) were discovered in Sep 1949.McLeod was still in the wreckage of his Spitfire, in the outskirts of Wesel,near Duisburg, just inside the German border. He was buried in the CommonwealthWar Graves Commission cemetery at Rheinberg. McLeod may have been shot down byMajor Siegfried Freytag of Jagdgeschwader 77 flying a Bf 109, who claimed onthis day, the only Spitfire shot down in the Duisburg area near Wesel for his101st victory.

In September 2002, a building at 15 Wing, CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, was namedfor Henry Wallace McLeod. A McLeod Street in Regina's industrial district isjointly named for him and for broadcaster Jim McLeod (no relation). (Wikipedia)


Group Captain Robert Wendell "Buck" McNair, DSO, DFC & Two Bars

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4982734)

S/L R.W. McNair, 24 Sep 1943.

Group Captain Robert Wendell "Buck" McNair, DSO, DFC &Two Bars (15 May 1919 – 15 January 1971) was an RCAF flying ace of the SecondWorld War, with 16 or 16.5 victories and five probables. McNair was born on 15May 1919 in Springfield, Nova Scotia, the son of railroad engineer KennethFrank McNair (1891–1973) and Hilda May (née Grimm; 1898–1983). The family movedto North Battleford, Saskatchewan, during the Great Depression. McNairgraduated from high school in North Battleford in 1937 and went to work as aground wireless (radio) operator for the Saskatchewan Ministry of NaturalResources.

Followingthe outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, McNair enlisted in the RCAF inJune 1940 and attended training schools No. 1 ITS in Toronto, No. 7 EFTS inWindsor and No. 31 SFTS in Kingston.  Hegraduated as a pilot on 24 March 1941 and was posted to No. 411 Squadron RCAFat RAF Digby in Lincolnshire, England, in June 1941.

McNair's first encounter with the enemy came on 27 Sep 1941, while escorting BristolBlenheim bombers in a Supermarine Spitfire on a raid against the railroad yardsin Amiens, France, and a power plant near Mazingarble. He managed to get behindand damage a Messerschmitt Bf 109, but was attacked by another 109 before hecould finish the job and had to break off.  His first victory came on 13 Oct 1941 overBoulogne; he downed one Bf 109 and damaged another, though he himself was shotdown and had to parachute into the English Channel.

WithMalta undergoing heavy Axis aerial attacks and in danger of invasion, theAllies sent reinforcements numerous times between 1940 and 1942. On 2 Mar 1942,McNair piloted one of 17 Spitfires launched from the British aircraft carrierHMS Eagle to the beleaguered island. As a member of No. 249 SquadronRAF, he was frequently engaged in combat in the skies above Malta. He shot downa Bf 109 on 19 March, a Junkers Ju 88 on 26 March, a 109 on 20 April and a Ju88 on 22 April, making him an ace. He increased his tally by three 109s, on 22May, 25 May, and 10 June, before being recalled to England for a leave. He waspromoted first to flying officer, then to flight lieutenant sometime duringthis period.

RejoiningNo. 411 Squadron, McNair participated in the disastrous Dieppe Raid. On 19 Aug1942, he was credited with a probable kill of a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and withdamaging another. He was then sent home to Canada for six months rest and warbond drives.

Decliningcommand of a training school, McNair was assigned briefly to lead No. 416Squadron RCAF, before being given command of No. 421 Squadron RCAF. On 28 Jul1943, his Spitfire had engine trouble off Knocke and burst into flames on theway home from a mission. He managed to parachute into the water and was savedby the rescue crew of a Supermarine Walrus. He had been burned about his face and was admitted into hospital fortreatment. His eyesight was permanently damaged, so he had to get closer to theenemy than before to compensate. He kept his handicap to himself, leadingothers to believe that he was being excessively reckless. Nonetheless, thatyear he brought down four Fw 190s (20 Jun, 24 Jun, 6 Sep and 3 Oct) and anequal number of Bf 109s (6 Jul, 10 Jul, 31 Aug, and 3 Sep), bringing his finaltally to 16 or 16.5 confirmed kills.

In1944, McNair was promoted to wing commander of 126 Wing, RAF Second TacticalAir Force at RAF Biggin Hill, which meant he no longer flew combat missions.After six months, he was reassigned from operational to administrative duties.

McNairremained in the RCAF after the war. Upon graduating from the Empire FlyingTraining School, he was posted to RAF Fakenham, Norfolk, to fly Gloster Meteorand de Havilland Vampire jet fighters. He later served as Air Advisor andAttaché of the Military Mission at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

Forhis contributions in the Korean War "as RCAF Liaison Officer to the FarEast Air Forces from 27 Jun 1951 to 27 Jul 1953," the United Statesgovernment offered to award McNair a Bronze Star Medal, but it was against RCAFpolicy.

McNairwas aboard a Canadair North Star which crashed at Vancouver, British Columbia,on 30 Dec 1953. He made sure that all passengers and crew were safely evacuatedbefore leaving himself, despite being soaked in gasoline. For this, he wasawarded the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct. He suffered spinal injuriesand was treated for a year.

McNair was promoted to group captain in 1956 and posted to No. 4 Fighter Wing, CFB Baden-Soellingen. In 1964, he was made Deputy-Commander of NORAD's Duluth sector. He later joined the Canadian Joint Staff office at the High Commission in London. McNair died of leukemia and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey, England.

McNair met Watford-born stenographer Barbara Gwendoline Still (1925–2006) on a blind date in London in 1942; they married in 1944, and had two sons: Bruce and Lawrence Keith McNair (1949–1998). On her death, she was buried beside her husband in Brookwood Cemetery.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4975873)

R.W. McNair, R.A. Buckham and H.C. Godefroy, during investiture, 11 Nov 1943.

McNair was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 22 May 1942, 27 Jul 1943 and 22 Oct 1943. In Apr 1944, Acting Wing Commander McNair was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.  The French government awarded him the Croix de Guerre with Palm and made him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, both in Sep 1947. He received the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct in August 1954. In 1990, he was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.

(DND Photo)

Wing Commander R.W. McNair, DSO, DFC and 2 Bars, Legion of Honour, French War Cross, of Springfield, Nova Scotia, Sector Commander No. 1 Air Defence Control Centre, RCAF Station Lac St. Denis, Quebec.

AWARDED QUEEN'S COMMENDATION FOR BRAVE CONDUCT - Announcement has been made by Air Force Headquarters of the award of the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct to Wing Commander R.W. McNair, DSO, DFC, 35, of Springfield, Nova Scotia and Edmonton.  W/C McNair was awarded the commendation for his action during the crash landing of an RCAF North Star transport in Vancouver last December.  Although soaked in gasoline, W/C McNair refused to leave the aircraft which had landed upside down.  Knowing that a large number of passengers were aboard he worked to restore order and assisted all passengers in getting out of the plane.  At the time an explosion and fire appeared imminent, and did not occur "only through an act of God" according to the citation covering the award. (RCAF photo)

Flight-Sergeant George. F. Beurling, DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-22196)

“The Falcon of Malta”, Flight-Sergeant George. F. Beurling, DSO, DFC,DFM and Bar, of No. 249 Squadron RAF. “There’sa lot of room there for a lot more,” quipped Beurling as he painted crosses onthe fuselage of his Supermarine Spitfire fighter on 15 October 1943.

George Beurling joined the RAF in September 1940 andwas posted to No. 41 Squadron RAF a year later.  On 9 June 1942, he flewinto Malta from HMS Eagle and joined No. 249 Squadron RAF, with whomhe became the top-scoring Allied fighter pilot on the island, achieving 26victories between 12 June and 14 October 1942.  He was sent home to Canadafor publicity purposes in November 1942, but returned to the United Kingdom tojoin No. 61 Operational Training Unit as a flying instructor in July 1943. He transferred to the RCAF on 1 September 1943 and achieved the last ofhis 32 confirmed victories with Nos. 403 and 412 Squadrons before returning toCanada in April 1944 and retiring from the Air Force the following October.  He died in a flying accident, (possibly due to sabotage), on 20 May 1948, whileferrying an aircraft to Israel after having volunteered for service with thenascent Israeli Air Force.

(IWM Photo)

Flight-Sergeant George. F. Beurling, DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar, of No. 249 Squadron RAF, standing by a sandbag revetment at Ta Kali, Malta, with the rudder and unit emblem cut from a crash-landed Macchi MC.202 of378ª Squadriglia/51º Stormo CT, Regia Aeronautica, one of four enemy aircraft which he shot down over Gozo on 27 July 1942.

(DND Photo)

George Beurling shows Jean Johnson of the American Red Cross his DSO after his Investiture.

[1] Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ernest_Hornell.

[2] Internet: http://www.geocities.com/bgmcansh/hornell/davidhornell.html.

[3] The London Gazette, 11 October 1946.  Internet: http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/secondwar/citations/mynarski.

[4] Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Charles_Mynarski.

[5] The London Gazette, 17 August 1945.

Lieutenant General Edwin Michael Reyno AFC

Edwin Michael Reyno AFC, (shown here as S/L) was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on 11th May 1917 and attended St. Mary's University. He joined the RCAF on 3rd January 1938 and was serving with No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron when it arrived in the UK on 20 June 1940.  Reyno was posted to 2 (RCAF) Squadron on 1 January 1941 as a Flight Commander. He returned to Canada later in the year and served at RCAF bases at Rockcliffe, Ontario and Mossbank, Saskatchewan.

In 1942 he was appointed Chief Instructor at No. 1 (Fighter) OTU at Bagotville, Quebec. He was awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC) on 8 June 1944. In 1944 Reyno was Station Commander at Greenwood, Nova Scotia and in 1946 he was appointed Senior Personnel Officer at Western Command, Vancouver.

Postwar Reyno attended RCAF Staff College in 1947 and Imperial Defence College in 1959. He served as the Director of Strategic Air Plans from 1952 until 1955, when he was promoted to Air Commodore and made the Air Officer Commanding at Air Defence Command.

In 1963 he was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal and made Chief of Air Staff, 4th Allied Tactical Air Force. A final promotion to Air Marshal came in July 1966, when he was appointed Chief of Personnel of the Canadian Forces. From 1969 to 1972, he was the Deputy Commander of NORAD.

He retired on 30 Oct 1972 as a Lieutenant General, Canadian Forces. Reyno died on 10 Feb 1982.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4806147)

"B" Flight, No. 1 (F) Squadron RCA., pilots, Left to right: F/O G.G. Hyde, F/O B.E. Christmas, F/L V.B. Corbett, F/OE.W. Beardmore, F/L E.M. Reyno, July – Aug 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4327127)

S/L E.A. "Ernie" McNab with nine of his Battle of Britain pilots, No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron, RCAF, 12Sep 1940. (L to R) F/O W.P. Sprenger, F/O O.J. Peterson, F/L W.R. Pollock (Adjutant), F/O P.B. Pitcher, S/L E.A. McNab, F/O P.W. Lochnan, F/L E.M. Reyno, F/O E.W. Beardmore, F/O S.T. Blaiklock (Intelligence Officer) and F/O R.W. Norris.

01 Oct 1940. S/L John Alexander Kent from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was engaged in a battle with 40 German aircraft over England, downing one.  He was awarded the DFC.[1]  He would later become G/C J.A. Kent, DFC and Bar, AFC, Virtuti Militari (Poland).

[1] G/C John Alexander Kent, DFC and Bar, AFC, Virtuti Militari (Poland),  was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 2 Jun 1914.He learned to fly at the Winnipeg Flying Club and obtained his civil flying licence in Nov 1931. He joined the Northwest Aero Marine Company in 1932 and obtained his commercial licence in June 1933, becoming the youngest commercial pilot in Canada. Kent joined the RAF on a short service commission in January1935. He was posted to No. 5 FTS Sealand on 15 Mar and after completing his training joined No. 19 Squadron at Duxford on 29 Feb 1936. He moved to the Experimental Section, RAE Farnborough on 19 Oct 1937 in the Instrument, Armament and Defence Flight. Kent was awarded the AFC (gazetted 2nd January 1939) for his work on balloon cable research. While working at the RAE he carried out 300 collisions with cables.  

On 13 May 1940 Kent was posted to the Photographic Development Unit at Heston(above). On 15 July he went to No. 7 OTU Hawarden, converted to Hurricanes and joined No. 257 Squadron at Northolt on 20 July. On 23 Jul, Kent went back to the RAE at Farnborough but was released four days later and joined No. 303 (Polish) Squadron, then forming at Northolt. Kent was appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander on 2 Aug.  On 9 Sep Kent destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf 110 and damaged a Junkers Ju 88. On 15 Sep he destroyed a Bf 109,. On 23 Sep he destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and damaged a Focke-Wulf Fw 56. On 27 Sep he destroyed a Junkers Ju 88 and on 1 Oct he shot down a Bf 109 and probably another. He was awarded the KW (gazetted 1 Sep 1940). Kent’s last flight with No. 303 Squadron was made on 16 Oct. He was posted on 17 Oct to No. 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 25 Oct 1940) and on 26 Oct he took command of No. 92 Squadron as an Acting Squadron Leader.

Kent claimed a Me109 destroyed on 1st November and two Me109's and probably another on the 2nd. He was awarded the VM (5th Class) (gazetted 24 Dec1940) for his work with 303 Squadron. On 5 Mar 1941 he was posted to No. 53 OTU, then about to be formed at Heston, to organise the Training Wing. In early Jun Kent went to Northolt to lead the Polish Wing. On 21 Jun he shot down a Bf 109,on 27 Jun he destroyed another one on the ground and on 3 July he destroyed one in the air and on 20 Jul he destroyed another and probably a second. On 2 Aug1941, Kent was appointed to lead the Kenley Wing. He destroyed Bf 109's on 7and 16 Aug. In mid-October he was posted back to No. 53 OTU, then to Llandow.

He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 21 Oct 1941). Late in1941 Kent went on a lecture tour of Canada and the US. In Jun 1942 he commanded RAF Church Stanton and in Oct he went to HQ Fighter Command, as Wing Commander Training.  Kent was posted to the Middle East in Dec 1942 and took command of No. 17 Sector, Benghazi. On 25Jan 1943 he damaged a Ju 88 near Benina. In Aug 1943 he was made Command Training Inspector at Air HQ, Air Defences Eastern Mediterranean.  In mid-Mar1944 Kent returned to the UK and was posted to CFS Upavon for an instructors course, after which he took command of a satellite station of the AFU at South Cerney.  In late August 1945Kent went on a course at RAF Staff College and was then posted to Air HQ, British Air Forces of Occupation, as Wing Commander Operations Plans. In late 1946 he became the Personal Staff Officer to Sholto Douglas, the Commander-in-Chief and Military Governor of the British Zone of occupied Germany.  Kent retired from the RAF on 1 Dec 1956 as a Group Captain. He died on 7 Oct 1985.

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