Able Seaman William D. McCrindle

Able Seaman William D. McCrindle was just a name in the book Unlucky Lady.

cover page 1Until Garry sent me this.


Garry had this message with it.


I received the attached article for my website from Jim Dobell – William McCrindle was his wife’s cousin.

They gave me permission to forward this to you as well.

Yours Aye


You can visit Garry’s Website.

Garry and I…

We fight as oneWe fight as one


RCAF Station Gander, Wing Commander H.B. “Brandy” Godwin

More about the mysterious Short Snorter…

RCAF No. 403 Squadron

Follow the lead…?


Brandy Godwin 25-9-1942


Brandy Godwin

RCAF Station Gander, Wing Commander H.B. “Brandy” Godwin’s signature appears on the dollar bill. He appears to have also added the date.

The same pen seems to have been used for the autograph, the Short Snorter inscription and the date.

Brandy Godwin date September 25 1942

Who is Wing Commander H.B. “Brandy” Godwin?

We find more information about him here.

GODWIN, G/C Harold Brandon (C99)

Officer, Order of the British Empire

– Station Gander

– Award effective 14 June 1945 as per Canada Gazette of that date and AFRO 1127/45 dated 6 July 1945.

Born in Westmount, Quebec, 24 April 1907. Educated around Montreal, B.Sc. from McGill (Electrical Engineering) in 1928; appointed to commission 16 July 1928 and won wings 18 March 1929.

Flew at Camp Borden, Ottawa and Trenton, Signals Officer at Borden (1934-36) and later commanded Wireless School at Trenton.

In 1938 appointed Advisor (Air…

View original post 378 more words

What do you think?

Buzz  Beurling dollar reverse

Buzz Beurling signature

Is this the signature of Buzz Beurling?

About the Short Snorter…

When a civilian aviator by the name of Jack Ashcroft went out for a night on the town, he couldn’t have imagined that this would inspire him to start one of America’s quirkiest traditions.

Legend has it that Jack, a heavy drinker, went AWOL from the Gates Flying Circus where he worked. Upon his return he calmed his irate boss by coaxing him into handing over two dollar bills.

On one bill he wrote “Short Snorter No 1, Pangborn (the name of his employer), Aug 1925.” He handed this back and pocketed the other dollar. And so was born the first Short Snorter.

For the American forces in World War II, Short Snorters became not only a record of who a military-man had served with but also a drinking game and a status symbol.

The word ‘snort’ is derived from the slang for a stiff drink, and a ‘short’ is less than a full measure. When servicemen were out drinking they challenged each other to produce their Short Snorters. Anyone who failed to do so was obliged to buy the round of drinks.

But they also served as a kind of membership card to a special club. Officially Short Snorters were pilots who had flown across the equator, or from country to country. They added other currencies as a sign of their worldliness and asked the foreign fighters they met to sign their bills.

As the craze caught on Short Snorters became longer and were signed by famous names rather than just colleagues. One famous example was owned by Grover Criswell. His 200 foot long Short Snorter was made from between 400 and 500 notes taped together and rolled into a bundle 15 inches thick.

But quantity did not always mean quality. While the most famous autograph on Criswell’s roll was that of John F. Kennedy’s older brother Joe, many were signed by presidents and prime ministers.

The tradition was brought up to date in the 1960s as America entered the space age. The tradition of ‘Astronaut Signed Dollar Bills’ began at the grand opening of the Houston Astrodome in 1965.

Throughout the Gemini III-XIII and Apollo 7-11 missions, the astronauts all carried $1 bills signed by their fellow crew members, some even sporting Neil Armstrong’s signature.

And in true Short Snorter tradition, anyone unable to produce their bill during the mission would be the one buying the drinks when they got safely back to earth.

Genuine artefact?

I posted this yesterday on my blog RCAF 403 Squadron.

Pat Murphy had sent me this.


this letter and this Canadian one dollar bill have been in a file at the Vancouver Island Military Museum for many years.

Buzz Beurling Dollar bill

We came across it a while back as we sorted through the many artefacts that we have yet to put on display. I would like to make it part of the Spitfire display in fact I would like to create a special display just for this and place it next to the picture we have of Canada’s most famous Spitfire ace, if I can verify its authenticity then we will put it up on display.

Having never seen a copy of George Beurlings signature before I’m a little hesitant to claim it’s genuine, I thought if it were to be published on your blog site I may get some opinion from a collector of signatures who has seen Buzz Beurling signature.
The letter that came with the Canadian dollar bill tries to determine the names of the other signatures and has managed to figure some of them out, others are not eligible and I guess will never be known.

Beurling Dollar Bill info

On the back side of the dollar bill we see the name P/O G F Beurling, that signature is easy to read as is the words SHORT SNORTER in block letters on the left side of the bill.

Buzz Beurling Dollar bill signature

The date, September 25, 1942. Beurling was in Malta and claimed  a victory that day as well as one damaged. It stands to reason he might be celebrating that night with friends. I know he did not drink but he was famous for socializing with the fair sex and several female names appear on the bill.

Buzz Beurling Dollar bill 001 90L Buzz Beurling Dollar bill 001 180

Buzz Beurling Dollar bill 001 90L

Buzz Beurling Dollar bill Short

The tradition of the Short Snorter is not well known, It was common during the Second World War and maybe, just maybe this dollar bill is the genuine article. If any of your readers have an opinion I would love to hear them.
Pat Murphy
Vancouver Island Military Museum
Nanaimo B.C.

This morning Pat contacted me again.

He had this!

Beurlings signature

Pierre, I found this George “Screwball “Beurling signature on -line a few days ago, I’ve compared the shape of the letters and I find lots of similarities however I’m no expert when it come to signatures. I did send the information via email to the Malta Air Museum a few months ago as well a copy to Brian Cauchi a Malta Spitfire expert, Author and historian that lives in Malta. The Malta Museum did not have a copy of his signature to make a comparison nor did they say that this might not be his signature. Brain Cauchi had much the same opinion.
I also sent the information off to a Malta Squadron mate but regrettably I received no answer from him, he passed away a few weeks after I sent the information and he did not reply to my letter. I have attached a copy of the Beurling signature and you might want to post it and let your readers take a stab at comparing both signatures.
Pat Murphy
Vancouver Island Military Museum

Nanaimo B.C.

You can contact me using this contact form.

Just an incredible war story… Mission over Kassel in 1943

Sometimes you stumble upon a story that has never been told because veterans didn’t talk much about the war.

They keep their war memories buried deep inside. Then when they die, someone finds all about their war memories…

This is not related to the last posts about POWs. But it could have been…

25 times!

Lt. Wooldridge in B-17

Click here.

Kermit David Wooldridge, born in 1917 in Lawton Oklahoma to deaf-mute parents, was incorrigible as a youth  (his own words). A constant run-away, he had no use for school and would rather ride cross-country on trains. He enlisted in the Army in 1934. The United States Army would soon whip him into shape.

When WWII broke out the need for pilots was critical and the young Wooldridge, uneducated but smart, volunteered to learn to fly. My dad, a man with very little future when he got out of  high school would soon find himself in the midst of the most important war America would ever fight.  In just over 100 hours of training in the B-17 Flying Fortress he would begin his first mission.My father did make it back from 25 missions as the  pilot of the B-17 over Nazi-occupied Europe. The cost was extremely high. His entire squadron was wiped out four times in eight months. He was the only pilot in his squadron to survive those eight months of combat. 

As unlikely as it seemed in 1934, my father would go on to distinguish himself in the war and have a 24-year military career, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1958. He died in 1994. Regrettably, during my life we never talked much about the war. The reasons become clear as you read his diary. How do you talk about seeing five planes in your squadron blown out of the sky by enemy aircraft ? (See Raid 18, Schweinfurt, below).  

Many veterans never discuss those experiences, but my dad documented each of his 25 missions over Europe. I hope that by sharing some of what he wrote I can honor his memory better in his death than I did in his life. When you click on each raid below you will be reading the actual diary pages typed after each raid upon return to the base in England.  These words are those of a 26 year old pilot who was facing the very real possibility of death. This website is dedicated to those Veterans who fought and survived and to the enormous courage of those who did not make it back.

Frances Wooldridge Bekafigo

The 5th mission over Kassel is here.

There were 24 other missions.

Monopoly for POWs?

After Jim L’Esperance sent me yesterday this story about Monopoly for POWs, I checked on it.

Found on Snopes…

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape.

Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of ‘safe houses’ where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks — they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.

Someone in MI-5 (similar to America’s OSS) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It’s durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, ‘games and pastimes’ was a category of item qualified for insertion into ‘CARE packages’, dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington’s, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were regional system). When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington’s also managed to add:

1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a ‘rigged’ Monopoly set — by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.
The story wasn’t declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington’s, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.

It’s always nice when you can play that ‘Get Out of Jail’ Free’ card!


The gist of this account about maps (and other items useful for escape efforts) being smuggled to Allied POWs during World War II by cleverly hiding them in Monopoly game sets is true, although some of the finer details in this particular account may be inaccurate.

The general outline of the scheme to smuggle escape aids to POWs through specially manufactured Monopoly kits is recounted (among other places) in The Game Makers, a 2004 history of the Parker Brothers game company:

When allied airmen began to risk their lives flying missions over occupied Europe, Parker Brothers’ English partner found a way to use the Monopoly game to come to the aid of those who were captured by the Germans. The British War Office worked with a select group of Waddington staffers to modify Monopoly boards for insertion in games that the Red Cross would deliver to Allied prisoners of war. These men carved out precise depressions in the unfinished game boards and, before applying their labels, filled them with low-profile compasses, files, and maps that depicted escape routes from the prison camp where each game was to be sent. (The maps were printed on silk because silk did not rustle when opened. Waddington’s had perfected this process to such an extent that virtually all British flyers climbed into their warplanes with a Waddington’s map secreted in the heel of one of their boots.) Hidden among the games’ play money was real currency — German, Italian, or Austrian. It is not known how many airmen escaped thanks to these Monopoly games.

Regardless of when it may have been officially declassified, information about the rigged Monopoly kits was openly acknowledged and discussed long before 2007. A 1985 Associated Press article, for example, reported that:

Waddingtons, which received the license to distribute Monopoly in Britain in 1935 from Parker Brothers in the United States, got involved in aiding the prisoners of war because of its printing expertise. It printed maps for the military on durable silk.

Thousands of fliers who went on missions over German-occupied Europe had the maps sewn into their uniforms if they were shot down and captured.

Victor Watson, chairman of the firm, said Waddingtons had a secret department that put the maps, files and money in shallow recesses on the board under the paper face. Then MI-9, the division of Military Intelligence devoted to helping POWs escape, smuggled the sets into prison camps as recreational equipment.

Powell Davies, who was a 19-year-old flier when he was captured, said the prison escape committees would destroy the sets after removing the escape aids to keep the guards from figuring out what was going on.

Although the account claims “an estimated one-third [of escaped POWs] were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets,” both the Game Makers excerpt quoted above and Waddington’s chairman said the number of POWs who were actually aided by the smuggled game kits is unknown:

Maps, files and compasses were hidden in Monopoly sets and smuggled into World War II German prison camps to help British prisoners of war escape, the game’s manufacturer, the John Waddington company of Leeds, England, says. Monopoly boards were made with maps hidden in them showing “escape routes from the particular prison to which each game was sent,” chairman Victor Watson said. “Into the other side of the board was inserted a tiny compass and several fine-quality files.” The money piles were real money, with one piece of Monopoly money on the top and bottom of the pack. “We are not sure how many prisoners were able to escape by this method,” Watson said, but the company likes to think a few did.

A former archivist with John Waddington also pointed out some discrepancies in the account in response to a 2007 London Times recounting of it:

Sir, I write as the former archivist for John Waddington, the company which made Monopoly during the Second World War.

In his article about Monopoly, Ben Macintyre states that the special sets of Monopoly were sent to prison camps via the Red Cross. Waddingtons produced many escape aids which were sent to the Nazi prison camps, but these were always sent via private, often fictitious, organisations like the Licensed Victuallers Prisoner Relief Fund. No escape aids were enclosed in the Red Cross parcels, so that the Germans would have no justification for stopping these much needed parcels from reaching the prisoners.

It is untrue that safe houses were shown on the maps, as there was a virtual certainty that some of the maps would fall into German hands — the Germans were not fools when it came to tracking down prisoners’ ruses.

Jim L’Esperance’s Wartime Log

Jim L'Esperance 001This was given to Jim L’Esperance by the Red Cross.

Jim L'Esperance 003

There was a letter sent with the Wartime Log.

Jim L'Esperance 010 (2)Life was very harsh for POWs in Marlag und Milag Nord. Food was scarce as well as heating.

Jim L’Esperance survived the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan.

He came close to being rescued by HMCS Haida.

Athabaskan sinking 1944taken from the book Unlucky Lady

That was not meant to be…

Haida with survivorsThe lucky few rescued
(taken from the book Unlucky Lady)

Jim L’Esperance used his Wartime Log to document his stay at Marlag und Milag Nord.

You can watch videos made in 1945 when the prisoners were liberated from the prison camp.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3A

Part 3B

Every Monday I will post what Jim L’Esperance pasted in his Wartime Log leading us to April 29, 2014, 70 years after the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan.

cover page 1

Here is a preview of what I will post.


Jim L'Esperance 006Jim L'Esperance 008Jim L'Esperance 009Jim L'Esperance 007Jim L'Esperance 010Jim L'Esperance 011Jim L'Esperance 012Jim L'Esperance 013Jim L'Esperance 014Jim L'Esperance 017Jim L'Esperance 019Jim L'Esperance 015Jim L'Esperance 020Jim L'Esperance 021Jim L'Esperance 022Jim L'Esperance 023Jim L'Esperance 024