S/L David L. (“Bud”) Quinn, CD

Someone posted this comment…

S/L David L. (“Bud”) Quinn, CD

Armament Officer in Charge of Gunnery
No.7 Bombing and Gunnery School, Paulson, Manitoba
June 1941 to July 30, 1942

My father (above) probably knew both P/O Gagnon and LAC Norm Pringle.

Thanks to your blog, I have discovered more about my father’s wartime service. After transferring from the militia (7th Toronto Field Artillery), he joined the RCAF in 1934, starting over at the bottom as an LAC. He was an original member of what was then No. 10 Sqn (later 110 and ultimately 400 Sqn.) when it first formed up. He had risen to the rank of F/Sgt by the time of the declaration of war and was commissioned shortly after. He served throughout the war, managing to find a way to get his pilot’s wings and an overseas posting, and served with RAF 2nd TAF HQ in Europe. As a permanent force member, he stayed in the RCAF after the war and retired as a Sqn.Ldr in 1962.

I always knew he had served as a bombing and gunnery instructor in Manitoba during the first part of the war, and names like Paulson and Jarvis had sometimes been mentioned, but I had no details. As an air force brat growing up on RCAF stations throughout eastern Canada, I have always maintained an interest in the history of the service and my father’s service in particular. I cannot ask him, as he passed away in May 1993 at the age of 80. I was both shocked and pleasantly surprised to find his name and picture in one of the documents on your blog.

The post on your blog from March 30, 2010 contains a link to copies of the Paulson Post. In Vol 1, No. 1, from Sept. 1942, there is a brief article on my father, then a Flight Lieutenant, on page 15. I have now learned that he was probably a key player in establishing the air gunnery sections at B&G Schools no. 2, 3, 5 and 7 in Mossbank, MacDonald, Dafoe and finally Paulson. Based on the opening dates of each of those schools I have an idea of when he was at each and definite knowledge of his time at Paulson. It also tells me the date of his initial commission and the date of his promotion to F/L and when he was posted to AFHQ in Ottawa.

This was a very pleasant surprise for both myself and my two brothers.

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into this wonderful resource. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

I will try my best to answer them.

Per Ardua ad Astra!

Bob Quinn
Mississauga, Ontario

As a footnote to this…

Paulson Post, September 1942, page 15…

S/L David L. (“Bud”) Quinn, CD

One of the reasons I write this blog…

Comments from my readers like this one…

A few years ago, but I remember sneaking into the base to watch the wings parade ceremonies. I was the only kid ever to have the opportunity to get past the guardhouse and see what went on during those times. I got in with the help of a couple of meteorologists who lived at my parents farm house just across the road from the guardhouse. I had to keep out of sight of the brass but I had a good view from the window of a small office on the third floor of the control tower. It was during one of the last graduation ceremonies that I had the privilege to see a Lancaster bomber up close. Just before the parade, it landed and taxied up right in front of the tower. After the group got their wings, a few of them collected their kit bags, got on-board the Lanc and took off for an undisclosed destination. I was probably about six years old and the sight and sound of that monstrous thing with four thundering engines and guns pointing right at me was a truly awesome experience. Every time I see the Lancaster in the War Plane Museum at Mount Hope, it brings back that memory.

Spitfire pilots

I have another blog on WWII. It’s about RCAF No. 403 Squadron.

The grandson of one of the pilots has been scanning his grandfather’s logbook and photo album

As I like to say, he scans and I write.

86 articles since September 2011.

All this to pay homage to RCAF No. 403 pilots.

These are three articles I wrote last week to pay homage to some pilots who never returned home.

Greg sent me these pictures yesterday. I will post them on my other blog soon.

I just want to share them with you this morning. 

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Some pilots came back… like Walter Dove, Tommy Todd, Doug Orr, and Reg Morris.


Walter Dove

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Walter Dove and Tommy Todd

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Tommy Todd

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Doug Orr

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Reg Morris

Collection Walter Neil Dove

But some died.

Click here for the first article, then here for the second and here for the third.

Lest we forget.

Digital Heritage Alberta

A must see Website.

Click here.

Then click on the screen, then on Pilots to view Knights with Wings.

Click on the image to go to the BCATP page

Sometimes it does not work all the time because this is a site using Flash Player, so be patient. Also try to use either Firefox or Internet Explorer. Google Chrome seems not to work all the time.

But there is a whole lot more on this site.

Captains of the Clouds

Eugene Gagnon was one of them…

Back in 1941.

Captains of the Clouds was a movie made in 1941.

Click here for more information.

In this photograph, Eugene stands besides a Harvard.

Look at the first numbers… 25.

Now look at this movie still taken from the movie.

 Eugene went to No. 6 SFTS Dunnville after where he got his wings as you can see on his service record.

So this photograph has to have been taken at Uplands.

The Magnificent Seven

At first I believed that the next picture was taken in autumn 1941 at No. 6 SFTS Dunnville, Ontario.

That’s what I believed looking at the Irvin jackets and the planes in the background.

But I was not sure…

I first believed this because there were no information about when and where this picture was taken.

This picture might seems to ordinary people an ordinary photograph of ordinary airmen posing for an ordinary photographer.


It’s not.

Someone’s father is there and she was trying to find out where her Dad was and when he was there.

So I started looking.

Flight Lieutenant James Evans Jenkins, who later was posted in the Middle East and later in England flying Hawker Typhoon, was stationed at Dunnville in 1941, so I figured he was there.

But there was something what was bugging me.

The planes in the background were Tiger Moths.

No. 6 SFTS Dunnville was flying Yales and Harvards.

I now believe we have seven New-Zealanders recruits training in 1941 at No. 3 Harewood in New-Zeland.

Part of the story is already here on this blog.

I tried to find more about New-Zealanders who were pilots in WWII to see if I could fine the rest of the Magnificent Seven.

This is what I found on Wikipedia.

I think we are missing someone and six others New-Zealanders.

To be continued…

Dunnville, Ontario

I don’t travel much, but when I do, I take a lot of pictures.

And I mean a lot…

These pictures where taken in September 2011 when I went to visit Cricket 34 in Hamilton.

Cricket 34 is George Stewart.

Cricket 34 is George Stewart’s call sign.

I met George because Peter Smith met him in 2010 and said I had to meet him someday.

That day came in September 2011.

I don’t have a picture of George and me… only five and a half hours of pure selfish pleasure talking to him in his living room.

On another note, I never met Flight Lieutenant Jenkins’ daughter personally.

We know each other by each other’s blogs.

You see Flight Lieutenant Tommy Smith, Peter Smith’s father, knews Flight Lieutenant Eugene Gagnon and Flight Lieutenant George Stewart.

The three were No. 23 Squadron pilots.

Flight Lieutenant Jenkins was not a No. 23 Squadron pilot, but he got some his training in Dunnville, Ontario where Eugene Gagnon got his wings in April 1942.

I don’t believe Eugene ever met this New-Zealander airman in Dunnville.

If he did, that would really make my day.

Maybe they ate at the same table but at a different time.

Maybe they flew the sameTiger Moth but at a different time.

We will never know.

But we can find out more about some of Flight Lieutenant Jenkins’ friends at No. 6 STSF Dunnville, Ontario. I have a picture to show you.

See you next time.

John Colton, another Typhoon pilot

I had heard about this pilot before but I did not pay too much attention.

He lives in Canada.

Albie Gotze told me he knew him so I got curious.

I never met him personally nor did I ever meet Albie Gotze.

John Colton has probably a lot of stories about his missions with the Typhoon.

This picture was taken from the IWM site.

A pilot of No. 175 Squadron RAF scrambles to his waiting Hawker Typhoon Mk IB fighter-bomber at Le Fresne-Camilly in Normandy, 24 July 1944.

John Colton was with No. 137 Squadron RAF and he talks about his war experience on this Website.

Click here.

This is the audio transcript.

It has a lot of information.

We got through it okay and finally I got through my training course there at Windsor Mills [Quebec; present-day Windsor, Quebec, site of No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS)], although I did have one hot experience there. I was sent out to do aerobatics by myself and it was a pretty windy day and I got blown quite a ways from the base. And, after a while, I said, well, I’d better start going back to the base. And I looked down and I couldn’t recognize anything on the ground. I said, “well, where am I?” I checked the gas and the gas tank was pretty low, so I said, “well, I guess the only thing I can do is find a field here,” so I did find a field and I landed in this field. And, of course, all the people from the area had to come out and see this airplane, this warplane, and of course, they guarded it for me while I phoned my base and told them where I was. So then they said, well, we’ll be out there in the morning to pick you up but you sit in the airplane at night, you’ve got to protect the airplane, so you sleep in the airplane, which I did.
And then, many years later, after the war, I was wondering just where was that field. I was back in Sherbrooke [Quebec] and I was just wondering, where was that field I landed in. So I went around, scrounging around the countryside and finally I found the field, found the farm and got acquainted with the people there. And I got acquainted with a family in the area and would you believe it, I married one of the daughters of that family that had come out and seen my airplane. And I’m talking the year is 1976 and I landed there in 1942. So that was, it was a Tiger Moth, what goes around comes around with the Tiger Moth.
And I was posted to [No.] 137 Squadron [Royal Air Force] in Manston in Kent, down in the south coast of England. And our main job there was to go out every morning around 4:00 and look for the German torpedo boats [Schnellboot or E-boats] that had been out all night attacking our convoys in the [English] Channel. And by 4:00, 4:30, they were going back home so we were out there to wait for them going back home. So they did have quite a few sunken torpedo boats there.
And going along with that story, I happened to be in the Army/Navy/Air Force [Veterans] Unit here in Sherbrooke about 10 years ago and there was a gentlemen there sitting at the table and he was having a beer and I noticed he had a bit of a German accent and I said to him, I says, “were you in the German forces during the war?” He said, “yeah, I was in the navy.” I said, “oh, what were you doing?” He says, “I was on the torpedo boats.” I said, “oh, where?” He says, “in the Channel.” I said, “well, so was I.” He says, “you were the one, he says, you were the one that was shooting at us all the time.” And I says, “you shot back, too.” So that was, he and I became very good friends and, unfortunately, he died two years ago, but still we were great friends and we always sat down and had a beer together and talked about our experiences.
Then came the 1st of January 1945. And this was Operation Bodenplatte. This is when the German Air Force decided that they were going to take one major attack on all the Allied aerodromes in operation on the 1st of January, 1945 [this action is also known by the Allied slang term “the hangover raid”]. They were going to catch us on the ground. Well, they did catch us, some of us, on the ground, because New Year’s Eve is a party night. So some of us weren’t feeling that well. Anyway, at 9:00, 10:00 in the morning, these German airplanes appeared over the base [Airfield B. 78 at Eindhoven (Welschap), The Netherlands] and they just caused more havoc. They were shooting up anything that moved, anything that was, airplanes that were taken off on operations, any of our airplanes that were, some of them were taken off, they were shot down. One member of our squadron was landing and he was shot and killed while he was landing. And he happened to be one of my good friends and they had created quite a lot of damage. Not just to our aerodromes but they attacked many aerodromes, but their losses were extremely high. And that was the last major operation done by the German Air Force.
And just to go a little further on this story, it happened, I think it was probably 1985/86, somewhere in there, I was at an air show in Sherbrooke and there was a gentlemen there doing a show in a glider. He was doing aerobatics in a glider as part of the air show. And they introduced him as being a pilot of the Focke-Wulf 190, which was a German airplane during the war. And I had been involved against them quite a bit so I said, “I’d like to talk to this fellow.” So anyway, it got arranged that I met him when he came down and I told him that I had been flying [Hawker] Typhoons [a British fighter-bomber] during the war. He said, “where were you the 1st of January 1945?” I said, “I was in Eindhoven.” He said, “so was I.” So he was attacking us that day. So I tensed up for a few seconds and didn’t know just what to do, whether to, thinking of my friend that got killed there, didn’t know whether to go at him or what. But finally, we went and had a beer together. And since that day, every 1st of January, Oscar Bosch calls me from Toronto and he calls and he says, “John, I’m here again.” So we’ve got over it and we’re good friends today.

Typhoon Pilot… No Piece of Cake

While searching for information about 137 Squadron and Albie Gotze, I found this…

You can tell that flying the Hawker Typhoon was no piece of cake…

A Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX raises the dust as it taxies past a Hawker Typhoon Mark IB of No. 181 Squadron RAF, at an advanced landing ground – probably B2/Bazenville – in Normandy. The Spitfire is fitted with a 45-gallon ‘slipper’ fuel tank.


Martin Pederson — Typhoon pilot (source)

Martin Pederson had a good long “think” about it … and came to a conclusion. If he was going to be of any use as a fighter pilot, he had to give up this idea of wanting to survive, and resign himself to dying. That was the only way, he figured, that he’d be able to do his job.

It was 1944 and the young Canadian’s job was flying a Typhoon fighter-bomber on coastal strike duties for the RAF’s 137 Squadron.

As he put it 53 years later, “unless I could get control of my emotions, I was a dead duck! “It was an usually sober realization for a 22-year-old to make, a crucial milestone in a journey that had begun in June 1940, when Pederson (from Hawarden, near North Battleford) enlisted in the RCAF. He passed through No. 7 Initial Training School in Saskatoon, then Elementary Flying Training School in Virden and Service Flying Training School at Ottawa, where his wings were presented by no less than prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King.

By 1942, Pederson was headed overseas to Britain and a posting as a fighter pilot. He trained on Hurricanes and Curtiss Tomahawks before joining 137 Squadron, flying the mighty Hawker Typhoon.

There were two models of Typhoons: one carrying rocket projectiles and the “Bombphoon”, rigged for two 500- or 1,000 lb. bombs under its wings — the only single-engined Allied fighter, he was told, capable of carrying such a heavy load.

To make that point, Pederson recalls being at RAF Manston in Kent when a damaged USAAF B-17 came in. Talking to its crew, he learned that it carried only two tons of bombs. Figure out the economics: 10 men aboard a B-17 carrying two tons of bombs vs. a Typhoon, one man and one engine, carrying one ton of explosives. “Of course, being Yanks, they wouldn’t believe that!”The Typhoon’s engine was the formidable 2,500-horsepower Napier Sabre that, with a 14-feet, 10-inch propeller (“the biggest of any fighter of the war”), produced considerable torque. “They were a seven-ton bandit, to put it mildly; they were the only fighter aircraft of the Second World War, that I know of, that when you were posted to Typhoons, you were told that if you couldn’t handle this thing, you would be quietly posted off the squadron.”

The “Bomphoon” version was used by the three Canadian squadrons (438, 439 and 440) of the RAF’s 144 Wing.When taking off, “if you weren’t very careful opening that throttle, that thing would just take it — and you — off to oblivion.” So when Pederson, who had logged time on Hurricanes and Kittyhawks, got ready for his first Typhoon flight, he lined up on the left side of the runway, and started to pick up speed. He felt the aircraft swinging to the right, so he applied more and more rudder, which “didn’t do a damned thing”. By now, the rudder is “pretty well jammed to the floorboards and it’s still drifting”. When he finally took off, he was “at right angles to the runway with one wheel dragging.””You can imagine the scene: it was headed for a hangar and all the groundcrew were running!” But 10 or 15 minutes in the air taught him “what a wonderful aircraft it was”.”It was fast and the engine could take considerable abuse, providing nothing hit the radiator because they were running very hot … if you pierced the radiator, 30 or so second later, the coolant was gone and 30 seconds later, the engine seized.”

At any given time during daylight, 137 Squadron, then stationed at Manston, would maintain three pairs of aircraft at readiness: two aircraft on one-minute alert, two on five-minute alert and two more on 15-minute alert. One particular day, one pair was “shot off”, then another pair, and finally Pederson and his wingman found themselves heading toward Le Touquet, a harbor just south of Boulogne. Seven German R-boats (gunboats) were reported steaming toward the French port.

“There was nothing but silence and I thought that we were going back because it was too dangerous.”At this point, the other Typhoons started heading back to Manston; neither pair had attacked. “Hullo, Yellow 2, I think we’ll proceed,” said Pederson’s wingman, an experienced New Zealander named R.D. Soames. “We’ll go and take a look.” Like many European harbors, Le Touquet was protected by a mole, or breakwater; a gap in the mole let shipping enter and leave.As the two Typhoons went in, “all hell broke loose,” Pederson recalled. “The sky was full of flak bursts from the previous four aircraft. You couldn’t see anything except the twinkling of the guns and I soon realized that mole had gun emplacements on it.”The radio crackled again: “I think we’ll have one shot at them,” Soames said. “And with that, he rolled over … nose back and went down.””I have to tell you I was scared to death,” said Pederson as he described the sheer volume of flak thrown up that day. “I have never been so frightened in my life. To face that flak and fly right into it … it just seemed like total destruction.”So unnerving was it that Pederson admits he forgot his training and at 3,000 feet fired all eight rockets in a terrific salvo, then pulled back on the stick and climbed away — “the most stupid thing I could do because they were all shooting at me.”From the corner of his eye, he saw a plume of water far off in the English Channel. “That’s where my rockets landed because I’d pulled back on the stick too fast.”

Scary — but no less so than the next radio transmission from Soames, who said calmly:. “I’m just going in on a second run.” Pederson forced himself to follow, Soames picking out the first and Pederson the second of the R boats, letting loose with their 20mm cannon — and successfully sinking one ship each.Whereupon Pederson admits he did another “stupid thing”: he pulled up, looking over his shoulder at the shellbursts — and his engine stopped.Another big problem: the Typhoon’s huge chin radiator made a successful ditching almost impossible. Pederson was also getting down toward 1,200 feet, considered the minimum altitude for safely bailing out. He began undoing his seat harness, flipped on his radio and called, “Mayday!” so air-sea rescue could get a fix on him.By now, the French shore was out of gliding range, the Typhoon was juddering, “and I’m thinking that any second now, she’s going to hit. I must admit that in the last few seconds, I closed my eyes.”Now, RAF Manston came on the radio: “Aircraft giving mayday signal … please repeat . . . we didn’t get a fix.”Miraculously, the engine caught and started again. Pederson was able to keep it turning over “and when I crossed the English coast, I was at 18,000 feet!”

Pederson told this story to make a point: “so that you would understand the terror that pervaded everybody’s life”. He added: “I quickly realized that unless I could get control of that terror … well, the only way I could do that was to admit that you were going to die.”Once you’ve arrived at that situation, then you can function because you can ignore the fact that you’re going to die.”That’s why he spent the rest of the war thinking that “if you died, it will come quickly.”Wherein a contradiction: “You were safer and you’ve got to accept that — if you’re going to survive. And I honestly believe that one of the reasons why I’m here today is because I was able to control that terrible emotion. It’s something that absolutely grips you and you can’t shake it off.”

The scene now shifts to late 1944, when Pederson was based out of the airfield at Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The target were dams on tributaries of the Ruhr; Pederson’s squadron was assigned to take out flak emplacements. Because of the long distance to these targets, the Typhoons were to be fitted with 152-gallon drop tanks — a load of which was due in from the UK on Dakotas.”The instructions are coming with them,” the CO assured.The Typhoon’s fuel system was, Pederson recalled, “very touchy”; the long and confusing instructions did not arrive until midnight. “I stayed up all night memorizing them!”Next day, things went fine with the tanks, the flak sites were dutifully sprayed, “and the Bombphoons came in right behind us and knocked out three little dams. It added to the flooding … I gather it made quite an impact on the army when they tried to cross through that country.”

On another mission out of Eindhoven, Pederson was leading a flight of four Typhoons to sweep the Ruhr Valley and attack any trains they saw. Taking off, they entered cloud at 50 feet, slipped into line abreast and broke back into sunlight at 10,000 feet. Navigating by dead reckoning, they let down through cloud, broke out at 100 feet, “and we were smack dab in the middle of a city”.”I’m frantically thinking to myself, “Where in hell am I?” The Typhoons slipped into line astern, “and with that, what must have been obviously the city hall loomed up in front of me.”The Typhoons circled, “just dragging their wings on the rooftops”, zipped into open country, then roared over another urbanized area, where they spotted a railway roundhouse and eight engines waiting. Shooting up the anti-aircraft emplacements on the roundhouse roof, Pederson took aim and unleashed a full salvo of rockets — which missed the engines, but hit the base of a nearby smokestack, “and then it came down right across the backs of these engines!”

A successful mission — but when the pilots got back to Eindhoven and made their way to the intelligence officer’s tent, Pederson heard one of them say, “Gee, if you ever get an opportunity to fly with Pederson, don’t do it because he’s crazy!”___Crazy? Well, badly stressed. “Needless to say, it wasn’t too long after that the doc spotted me and grounded me as medically and mentally unfit to fly.”A good thing, too. Pederson said it was calculated that the average lifespan of a Typhoon pilot was 15 “trips”. Pederson managed to log 93 of them. “When I left the squadron, my nickname was “Old Pete” and I was 23!” he said. “I was the oldest person on the squadron.”

When he attend a reunion of his wing, it was noted that no fewer than 151 Typhoon plots were killed during the D-Day operations alone. During the approximately one year that he was on the squadron, 71 pilots died or disappeared, Before him, only two pilots had completed a full tour: one was blinded in one eye, another went mad — and then there was Pederson, who had lost 45 of his 185 lbs. “I couldn’t sleep at night; I’d tear the sheets to ribbons because of nightmares. I was in pretty bad shape.”

As Pederson, who went on to a successful postwar life and eventual leadership of the Saskatchewan Conservative party, said of his wartime experience: “I was just grateful to get the heck out of there and survive.”

More on 137 Squadron…

First-hand experience about Operation Market Garden

During my search about Operation Market Garden, I found this…

Albie Gotze was there and he gave a lecture on his experience as a Typhoon pilot.

This is where I found it.

The main talk of the evening, My Role as a Fighter Pilot at Arnhem, was given by General Albie Gotze and was one of our series of “I was there” talks. This provided for a remarkable evening, as our speaker not only went into considerable detail on the battle itself, but also added the personal touch at relevant points, as he explained his role as one of the fighter pilot escorts to the ground troops. To start we heard how events evolved from the break through at Falaise; the use of Eisenhower’s broad front and the related support problems, the lack of a decisive supreme commander, the impact of British failure to take the Beveland Peninsular, the thrusting and conflicting demands of Montgomery and Patton and much more – all of which led to acceptance of Montgomery’s plan for an airborne attack to secure a gateway into Germany and the Ruhr, codenamed Market Garden. The ever careful Montgomery shook his colleagues by suggesting that his plan, resulting in The Battle of Arnhem, should take place “immediately” but the briefing to his senior colleagues led to one of the most famous comments of the war when Lt. Gen Browning pointed to Arnhem bridge on the map and said “I think we might be going a bridge too far”. It proved to be a correct judgement.

The plan was monumental with just 7 days to launch the first ever fully equipped airborne force to drop deep behind enemy lines in daylight, in joint operation with ground troops, and using 1187 troop carriers, 478 gliders, 5000 aircraft of all types to deploy a total of 35, 000 men. The aim was to take all identified bridges and to hold open a 64-mile wide corridor for the army advance through Germany. How this was all planned was given in detail, including specific targets by unit, air support operations, weather, security, the choice of landing and drop zones and most controversial of all – the use (and non-use) of available intelligence. Most fascinating of all was the role of our speaker; after a tour on Hurricanes he volunteered for ops on Typhoons and joined 137 Squadron on 28 August 1944. His role and those of his pilot colleagues both before and during the 9 days of the battle (when 35 pilots were killed) made his description of the battle even more fascinating than usual.

The battle started before dawn on 17 September 1944, when 1400 bombers supported by over 1500 fighter escorts, bombed German positions in preparation for the airborne armada to arrive at their drop zones around 1100 hours. That was a sight our speaker saw from the air and he said about it “my feelings at the time were of awe and wonder, I will never forget it”. But misfortune followed, with the recent arrival of the 9th and 11th Panzer Divisions in the area, the operational plans for Market Garden being found on the body of a USA officer – plans that were passed immediately to the German high command – and most of the 1st British Airborne Division radio equipment being lost. This last misfortune was the reason for the almost total loss of communication between this unit and the approaching ground troops. With the airborne drop underway, XXX Corps started their ground attack into Holland, with Albie Gotze and his co-pilots giving close air support, but despite making initial progress they were clearly behind schedule by the end of day 2. The 1st Airborne were also losing their initiative, a problem compounded by their CO – General Urquhart – losing contact with his HQ for 36 hours at a time when the Dutch underground were reporting that the Germans were winning the battle at Arnhem Bridge. With the Germans having full knowledge of their plans, the signs were already ominous for the main attacking forces. Several sorties being repulsed and although the north end of the bridge was secured by 0600 on 18 September, all the troops in the action were surrounded. This put the emphasis on the bridge at Nijmegan, where the Germans were waiting, after the bridge at Zon was blown up be the Germans.

From that confused start to the battle, Albie Gotze then took us through the detail of the battle as it unfolded on a day-by-day basis, giving equal emphasis to the 4 main airborne units – 1st British, 82nd American, 101st American and 1st Polish – and the ground troops of the 2nd Army – VII, XXX, and XII Corps. He added to this with the roles played by air support, including the way that B24 Liberators flew in supplies through heavy flak, and how the Typhoons, flying at anything from 500 to 50 feet attempted to neutralise that flak – all explained with personal knowledge. The success or otherwise of taking the target bridges was described, together with the determined attempt by German forces to stop the advance of the ground troops and the capture of the bridges by the airborne troops. The battle ran from 17 – 26 September, 9 days of fierce fighting and heavy casualties that did not achieve the anticipated objectives, and eventually the airborne troops, who never did receive the timely help from ground forces, had to withdraw and this they did. Our speaker then summarised the reasons for failure, including: airborne troops landing too far from their objectives, the bad luck of the late arrival of Panzer troops, the speed of German response aided by knowledge of the allies plans, the impact of the worsening weather, the communications failure, the inability of the ground forces to advance within the planned time and Eisenhower’s reluctance to channel all his resources to this hugely important operation. Although it was a failure, it was an epic and heroic battle for all the men who fought at Arnhem on both sides. As General Albie Gotze stated, “It was a victory for the human spirit, it has a special quality, a flavour almost of mystique”. The talk we received more than matched the quality of the battle itself.

Albie Gotze also flew in Korea with the SAAF.

Click here for pictures.

Tomorrow, first-hand experience in flying a Hawker Typhoon…