Great Escape Week – P.O.W. Families

Flight Lieutenant Frank Sorensen

Vickie Sorensen talks about her father at 20:00 and 42:35.

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Remembrance Day – No. 9 B&G School Mont-Joli

Guy Fournier sent me three photos via Messenger last Saturday. All three were taken on February 26, 1942 at No. 9 B&G School in Mont-Joli.

P.L. 8031

P.L. 8032

P.L. 8033

I know it’s not November 11th, but I’m afraid I could forget to honour the memory of these airmen on Remembrance Day 2021.

Of the five airmen on the group photo, four of them will not be returning from the war.

Albert Dugal is on the left. His story was written by his nephew four years ago. Albert is also on another photo taken the same day with Edmond Thomas Spears.

Edmond is not on the group photo.

Albert died on March 3, 1943 after returning from a raid on Hamburg. He was a bomb aimer. Edmond died on August 28th 1942 in the crash of a Wellington during a training flight in England. The Wellington stalled and crashed.

Both had trained in Mont-Joli at No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School where this picture was also taken.

Kenneth Stewart Gunning is on the left and Ronald Hanson Welsh is on the right. They too will not return from the war. The only one who would have come back is Jackson the 2nd on the right next to Rowlen Martin Jupe.

The reason I am ahead of Remembrance Day 2021 is that Edmond Thomas Spears was born on March 2nd, 1922. I could have waited until his 100th birthday in 2022 to honour his memory, but I could have forgotten about it.

Remembering is what I have been doing on Lest We Forget since September 2009 when I started writing the history of the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan as well as the story of my wife’s uncle.

I always wonder why I keep remembering on Lest We Forget.

Maybe Guy Fournier would have the answer…

In Memoriam – Gordon McKenzie Hill (1923-2021)

In 2017 Clarence Simonsen met veteran Spitfire pilot Gordon McKenzie Hill who then shared with him all he had kept from his service with the RCAF during WWII. He shared stories and photos but mostly he remembered his comrades-in-arms.

Clarence then wrote me because he wanted Gordon’s stories and photos online to preserve Gordon Hill’s past.

In 2017 I knew nothing about 416 Squadron, but with Clarence’s research I learned so much more about Gordon HIll and also some French-Canadian Spitfire pilots who according to Gordon Hill were dawn good pilots. Being myself French-Canadian suffice to say that information made my day.

On Sunday Clarence wrote me again and asked something…

Hurricane 20

RCAF Pilot Gordon Hill died on 30 January 2021. Gordon was 97 years of age. Maybe you can add something at the end of this wonderful man’s history blog.


I then decided to add something and share Clarence’s research on the links below…

“Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389

“Crabapple” Fighter, Hurricane Mk. XII, serial #814, RCAF 5389 – PDF Version

The Making of a WWII RCAF Fighter Pilot – Part One

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot – Part One (PDF version)

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot – Part Two

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot – Part Two (PDF version)

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Fighter Pilot – Part Three

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot Part Three (PDF version)

Intermission One – Kittyhawk AK803 (1034)

Intermission Two – “Pic” Picard

Intermission Three – “Damn good pilots!”

Intermission Four – Crazy Frenchies

Intermission Five Petit Brogel

Intermission Six – More from Gordon

Intermission Seven – Jules, the Forgotten Batman in RCAF history

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot Part Four

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot – Part Four (PDF version)

The Making of a WW II RCAF Spitfire Pilot – Part Five

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Fighter Pilot – Part Five (PDF version)

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot – Part Six

The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Fighter Pilot Part Six (PDF version)

Postwar – Base 174, Utersen, Germany Part One

Postwar – [5 July 1945 to 21 March 1946] Base 174, Utersen, Germany Part One (PDF version)

Postwar – Base 174, Utersen, Germany, [5 July 45 to 21 March 1946] – Part Two

Postwar – [5 July 1945 to 21 March 1946] – Base 174, Utersen, Germany – Part Two (PDF version)

Postwar – [5 July 1945 to 21 March 1946] – Base 174, Utersen, Germany – Part Three

Postwar – [5 July 1945 to 21 March 1946] – Base 174, Utersen, Germany – Part Three (PDF version)


Gordon McKenzie Hill’s obituary is here.

Gordon McKenzie Hill November 11, 1923 ~ January 30, 2021 (age 97)


Along with sharing our joy and gratitude for his wonderful long life of 97 years, his family is sad to share news of the passing of Gordon Hill.

Gordon was born on the family homestead in Canora, Saskatchewan on November 11, 1923, and he grew up there and in Regina.

He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in December,1941, shortly after graduating high school and directly after the attack at Pearl Harbour. During World War Two, he became a fighter pilot with Squadrons 133 and 416. He flew a variety of planes, including Hurricanes and Spitfires, both in British Columbia and Europe. Over the time of his service, he flew close to one thousand hours. He loved flying and was proud to serve his country. His service was recognized and celebrated in a number of ways over the years, including a letter from the prime minister, a meeting with the King of Holland in Ottawa in 2015, having a boardroom named after him at M30 Retail Services, and, most recently, the grand homecoming of a reconditioned Hurricane (#5389) that he flew several times, to the Hangar Flight Museum, in November of 2019.

Following his return from the war, Gordon initially went into business with his father at the Hill Equipment Company in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. While there, he became reacquainted with Helen Plasteras, and they were married on October 1, 1949. They moved to Calgary in 1951, and Gordon worked for Stanolind /Pan American/Amoco for many years. At the beginning of that time, he attended night school to earn his CPA/CMA designation.

Gordon and Helen enjoyed 59 years of marriage. They raised their family, were involved in church and community activities, sang in several church and community choirs, travelled the world, trailered, and spent many wonderful summers at Twin Echo Shores in northern Idaho, U.S.A. They always set an example of unconditional love for each other and for their family.

Gordon’s interests were varied and eclectic. He was a faithful member of Lakeview United Church for 55 years, and he supported the church in a variety of ways including singing in the church choir until 2019. He always enjoyed anything to do with music and he sang in church and community choirs including the West Side Singers and the choir at The Manor at Garrison Woods. Gordon was a founding member of the Calgary Aerospace Museum (now the Hangar Flight Museum) and was a docent there for many years. More recently he was a docent at the Museums of the Regiments. He actively participated in most reunions of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association and enjoyed “The Wing” (Wing 127) meetings. Gordon had a lifelong interest in philately and was a member of BNAPS and the Calgary Philatelic Society. He volunteered for many years for the C.N.I B. and the United Way. He loved to play cribbage and he enjoyed cherry pie and ice cream and a drink of single malt scotch.

He was devastated by the illnesses and deaths of both his wife Helen and his daughter Barbara, but he supported them with all he had and then tried his best to carry on. Gordon had an indomitable spirit and greeted each new day with optimism. He genuinely enjoyed all the times he spent with family and friends.

Gordon is survived and remembered with love by his daughter and son-in- law Eleanor and Peter Creasey, son and daughter-in-law Douglas and Donna Hill, grandchildren Erin and David (Julie) Creasey, great granddaughters Helen and Rose Creasey, nephews Scott (Chris) McKay, Gord (Laura) Hill, Alec (Esme) Hill and their families, other family members, and many good friends, including Marion Rogers.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife Helen, his treasured daughter Barbara, his parents Lilly and John Ross Hill, his siblings and their spouses, Dr. Marian Hill, Kathleen (Neil) McKay and Dr. Jim (Sandy) Hill, and his niece Allison Broenink.

In time, when circumstances allow, a memorial service will be held at Lakeview United Church and Gordon will be interred at Queen’s Park Cemetery, near to his wife and daughter.

The Hill and Creasey families offer special gratitude to his caregivers at the Manor at Garrison Woods, and to his many friends and family for their visits, phone calls and care packages over the last few months. Most of all, we want to express our deep appreciation to all the angels at the Carewest Colonel Belcher, who, at great personal risk, cared for Gordon with unfailing compassion and kindness, especially during his final illness with COVID- 19.

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

In lieu of flowers, if friends so wish, memorial donations may be made to one of the following:

The Hangar Flight Museum ( or the Calgary Health Foundation in support of the Friends of Colonel Belcher Society (

December 22, 1944 Forgotten Angel — Today in History

The Battle of the Bulge is a familiar tale: The massive German offensive bursting out of the frozen Ardennes forest. December 16, 1944. The desperate drive to capture the Belgian port of Antwerp, vital to German re-supply efforts. The terrain was considered unsuitable for such an attack. The tactical surprise was complete, British and American […]

December 22, 1944 Forgotten Angel — Today in History

RCAF “Umingmak” at Yakutat 1942-1943

Research by Clarence Simonsen


In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, Sitka became the first seat of government in this new possession and first sight for a military base. In the late 1800s, many forts were constructed to provide law and order, and these Army units were also busy conducting geographic expeditions, communications, and a limited zig-zag rail and road network. Control of Alaska remained with the U.S. Army until 1877, then the U.S. Treasury Department assumed control and the U.S. Navy took over in 1884. During the Klondike Gold Rush, the U.S. Army returned for a short time and by 1912, [Alaska became a U.S. Territory] they were mostly gone and would not return for twenty-eight more years. In 1922, several nations signed the Washington Conference Treaty which limited the production of armaments by these countries, including Japan. In 1934, Japan suddenly renounced the treaty and this created no political reaction from the United States Government or more surprisingly no American military response. The following year, General William [Billy] Mitchell, an outspoken critic of military preparedness, spoke to an American Congressional hearing, and told them Alaska was the keystone to American peace and that Alaska was the most central place in the world for American aircraft.

“Japan is our dangerous enemy in the Pacific” but the American Congress was in no mood to listen or appropriate funds for military construction in Alaska. Five years later, Congress allotted 48 million to start construction of the first new airfields in Alaska, and that marked the beginning of U.S. Yakutat Army Air Base, [Landing Field] Alaska.

Click on the link below to be directed to the PDF.

Remembering Thomas Oscar Meteyer — 358th Fighter Squadron

Thomas Oscar Meteyer was part of 358th Fighter Squadron. This photo was found on Pinterest and it had a caption.   LT Thomas O Meteyer P-51B 42-106736 YF-Jwith ground crew”Joyce” His son Michael had a similar one. Michael Meteyer had also this one. I have colorized it for his father’s birthday which is today. […]

Remembering Thomas Oscar Meteyer — 358th Fighter Squadron

Remembering Philip Ensor

Before remembering Philip Ensor who was killed on a sortie on September 8, 1941, I have to tell you how I had created another blog in 2010 with the mission of remembering RAF 23 Squadron.

It was about remembering a RAF Squadron I knew nothing about. First it was about remembering a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot.


I had never heard about Eugène Gagnon before 2010. I was not alone in 2010. People here in Quebec don’t remember the Fallen that much. Eugène Gagnon did not die in the war. He died on October 21, 1947 in a plane crash.

The story of the crash is on the blog RAF 23 Squadron.

Eugène Gagnon was a night bandit as they were called back then. He would fly his Mosquito near German airfields just waiting for German night fighters to come back after shooting down RAF and RCAF bombers.

Eugène Gagnon flew 33 sorties but he never shot down a German plane. He was not an ace. But does it really matter?

Writing that blog led me to write about more and more about pilots and navigators who flew with 23 Squadron. I will spare you the list.

One of them was Alistair (Alec) Lawson. This is when I got this comment in August 2011 from someone I did not know… His name was Gilles Collaveri.

Good evening from France,

I am interested in 23 squadron for 2 reasons:

1) I met last year Alexander Lawson who flew Mosquitos with 23 Sq. and shot down a JU88 over Toulouse on 6 jan 1944; I found the remains of this JU88.
2) I shall look next week for the remains of Philip ENSOR’s Havoc I that crashed on 8 sept 1941 near Morlaix, Brittany.

If you wish to know more, let me know.

Best regards

Gilles Collaveri

To know more about Alistair Lawson, click here.

To know more about Philip Ensor, click here.