November 11 – R220222’s Final Mission – Epilogue

November 11 – R220222’s Final Mission – Epilogue

Last time I wrote about Jean-Paul Corbeil’s final mission. He had survived 40 operations flown over Europe from May to September 1944.

Well I was wrong. He flew his last operation on August 16.

In 2015 he had an idea.

This is the English version of the letter he wrote in March 2015.

Ma dernière mission 003

The letter was in an enveloppe with another enveloppe with a special card inside. On one side of the card there was the cover of his log book and a photo of his crew taken in May 1944. On the other side there was an image of a page taken from his log book where we can see his two operations on D-Day.

copie carte ma dernière mission

86 letters and cards were sent in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day 2015. Some were sent in Canada, some in England, some in the United States, some in Belgium, some in France.

Later, he asked me to write again to these people and to add this to the blog…

My last mission

Dear friends,

As Remembrance Day approaches, let us remember the 42,000 young Canadians, including some 19,000 airmen, who gave their lives in the defence of freedom during the Second World War. I would like to share with you my last letter that accompanied the reproduction of a page from my logbook, along with a photo of our crew, and ask that you keep these authentic documents for posterity.

I want to suggest that you give copies of this mission card, as well as the envelope with a postage stamp created especially for this project, to people of your choice who will be able to pass it on from generation to generation.

Also, you may freely distribute copies of everything you have received to people who would be interested in promoting the duty to remember in their entourage. The next time I contact you by email, I will tell you where and when the idea for this project came to me and what happened next.

What about this project? One hundred original cards, accompanied by a letter explaining my last mission, were sent around the world to people who had expressed an interest in honouring the memory of Alouette Squadron and promoting peace. Several people wrote to me and told me to whom they would eventually send the card, letter and stamped envelope specially for this project.

On behalf of myself and all the Alouettes, we wish you and your family a serene and long lasting peace.

Jean-Paul Corbeil, Canadian veteran

Jean-Paul Corbeil died on October 3rd, 2018 and the final mission has been dormant since. That was until I found the grandson of Lloyd Lafoy who flew one operation with Jean-Paul Corbeil in 1944.

Lloyd Lafoy was known as Lucky Red. Red because of his hair colour and Lucky because he always came back from his operations.

Lucky Red was also an air gunner. When he flew with Jacques Terroux’s crew he was manning the mid-under turret and Jean-Paul Corbeil was the mid-upper gunner. In my numerous meetings with Mr. Corbeil we never spoke about Lucky Red because I did not know they were both on the same operation.

Since my last contact with Che Lafoy who received a card, I have started to find people who would understand Mr. Corbeil’s final mission on Earth.

All of the remaining cards have been sent. Each recipient shares something with R220222.

logbook Jean-Paul Corbeil 001

One recipient is the grandson of Wing Commander William Gerald Phelan. His grandfather signed one of R220222’s log pages. He had checked his August 1944 entries for errors or omissions.

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Something was not by the book. Day operations had to be in black and night operations in red. R220222 had to enter all the information the right way.

logbook Jean-Paul Corbeil 019
Squadron Leader Phelan approved his log book.

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I am sure R220222 was not reprimanded for it, but he remembered it when he told me about what would happen if a Squadron Leader would find something wrong in an airman’s log book…

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Don’t give me no bullshit…

Who remembers William Wallace Seymour?

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Message from a reader

I am the oldest son of Wallace Edgar Seymour. He was a Chief Petty Officer Telegrapher aboard the RCN Destroyer Escort Athabaskan, on convoy patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War.

Fondly known as “Leggy”, I am told because of his height. My father was on leave when the Athabaskan was torpedoed by the Germans in the English Channel.

Lucky for me, as I was born in March, 1942. If you, or your readers have any anecdotes, or stories about my father, his children would be very grateful.

Sincerely,

William Wallace Seymour


You can leave a comment to contribute.

The Saviour of Ceylon

Excerpt from Chapter 2

The last chapter of the “Saviour of Ceylon” saga didn’t occur until Canada’s centennial celebrations in 1967. Prime Minister Lester Pearson gave a formal dinner and reception for each head of state that came to Canada, and Birchall was invited to attend the dinner for the Ceylonese. At this dinner, Prime Minister Lester Pearson related one of his personal experiences with respect to the Ceylon battle. Pearson spoke of an event that occurred at a dinner at the British Embassy in Washington, either just before or after the end of the war. Someone asked Sir Winston Churchill what he felt to be the most dangerous and most distressing moment in the war. Pearson thought he would refer to the events of June and July 1940 and the imminence of invasion, or to the time when Rommel was heading toward Alexandria and Cairo at full speed or when Singapore fell. However, Churchill thought the most dangerous moment of the war was when he got the news that the Japanese fleet was heading for Ceylon and the naval base there. The capture of Ceylon, the consequent control of the Indian Ocean and the possibility of a German conquest of Egypt would have “closed the ring” and the future would have been black.

Churchill went on to say that disaster was averted by an airman, on reconnaissance, who spotted the Japanese fleet and, though shot down, was able to get a message through to Ceylon. The message allowed the defence forces there to get ready for the approaching assault; otherwise they would have been taken completely by surprise. Churchill believed that the unknown airman, who lay deep in the waters of the Indian Ocean, made one of the most important single contributions to victory. He got quite emotional about it.

Pearson was pleased to tell Churchill that the “unknown airman” was not lying deep in the Indian Ocean but was still an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed down the street from the British Embassy where he was active in the Canadian military mission. Churchill was surprised and delighted to know that the end of the story was a happier one than envisioned.

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Click on the link below.

Canadian Aerospace Power Studies Volume 1

Going Back in Time – 1 July 1942

1 July 1942

Mont-Joli

Number 30 Squadron

PMR75-632 – 130 Squadron, Mont-Joli, Quebec, 1 July 1942

People are still remembering…

Notes

Commanding Officer Jacques Chevrier is posing for posterity on July 1st, 1942. He is fifth from the left. He died five days later on July 6, 1942. Seventy-nine years later, minus five days, how Wing Commander Chevrier died is still a mystery…

Links

https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2622524

https://sadp.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/jmsl-17-09-09-6-des-aviateurs.pdf 

(in French)

http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Chevrier.htm

Joseph Armand Jacques Chevrier was born in St. Lambert, Quebec, Canada on 7th October 1917. He joined the RCAF on 4th July 1938, travelled to England in 1940 and was posted to No. 1 Squadron at Wittering on 3rd October, moving to No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron at Prestwick on the 21st. Chevrier was repatriated to Canada on 9th January 1941.

He was appointed ADC to His Excellency the Governor-General, the Earl of Athlone on 8th August and served in that capacity until 31st March 1942. Chevrier was then posted to be the first CO of 130 Squadron, taking command at Mont-Joli, Quebec on 1st May 1942.

On 6th July 1942 the squadron was scrambled to search for U-boats after a freighter was torpedoed 10 miles off Ste. Anne-des-Monts. Four Kittyhawks were launched. Several survivors of the sunk ship were located, but no U-boat. Chevrier ran out of fuel on the return to Mont-Joli, and died when his Kittyhawk AK915 ditched in the St. Lawrence just off Ste. Anne-des-Monts.

His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Ottawa Memorial.

In 1952, his father was still asking questions about how his son had died…

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I found more information on the Internet…

https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/205495

More on the Battle of the St. Lawrence here…

https://www.veterans.gc.ca/pdf/publications/canada-remembers/RS_Battle_Gulf_e.pdf

The official story seems to be this…

Rapport42127_83024005548_0105-00354 (2)

Chevrier ran out of fuel on the return to Mont-Joli, and died when his Kittyhawk AK915 ditched in the St. Lawrence just off Ste. Anne-des-Monts. 

Hopefully, how he died will one day be known when parts of the Kittyhawk he flew on July 6, 1942, will be found.

Until then, people are still remembering Wing Commander Jacques Chevrier in Mont-Joli…

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