Lest We Forget

This is the first post I wrote on this blog on what happened 78 years ago today.

This is a blog about the story of the Canadian destroyer Athabaskan sunk in 1944.


I am currently writing a blog in French, but I have some many English speaking people helping me out, that I want to share my research with everyone in both languages. Tomorrow I will post my first article. It will be a translation of this one

See you tomorrow.

You can contact by writing a comment below.

Jacques Morin, the last airman to touch ground in WWII – In Memoriam


Jacques Morin was the last airman of 425 Alouette Squadron to touch ground in WWII.

His plane was the last one to touch down after the last raid.

The Alouettes’ parting fling at the foe was a daylight crack at gun batteries on Wangerooge in the late afternoon of 25 April, which came a week after a similar and even more satisfying blow at Heligoland, that flak and fighter outpost which had for so long been shown a hateful respect by bomber crews. When Command had done its deadly work, both islands were little more than cratered shambles. No 425’s last crew to bomb Festung Europa was led by Flt. Lt. L.R. Paquette, whose bomb-aimer, Flying Officer L.J. Mallette, pressed the bomb-release button at 1720 hours. The last to land after a flight over enemy territory was captained by Flying Officer J.E. Marcoux. When he eased “T”-Tare on to the Tholthorpe runway at precisely 1950 hours, the Alouette show in the heavy bombing campaign of the Second World War was a fait accompli.

Bagpipes that make it rain

A certain synchronicity of time between what is happening now on the Old Continent and St. Patrick’s Day prompted me to submit this piece to Lest We Forget. Although St. Patrick’s Day is not the Scottish holiday, which is St. Andrew’s Day, due to Celtic immigration and historical events, it has become so traditional in North America to hear Scottish pipers that no one has any problem with it. Besides, aren’t Ireland and Scotland both Celtic countries?

Among the cities on this continent with a historic parade for this holiday, Montreal has been at the top of the list for over a century and a half. However, in the pervasive gaiety of the popular “Parade”, Montrealers attach a very special meaning to it: that of the imminent and long-awaited arrival of spring.

The following, which is a true story, began on a distant day in my childhood, in 1964 or 1965, when I was less than 10 years old. Just as I had been introduced to Quebec’s St. Jean Baptiste Day, I had also been introduced to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. With a father who, in his own words, had “a grandmother with Hill as a maiden name, a mother whose maiden name was O’Malley and a father who played lacrosse at the Shamrock…”, how would that be surprising?

My father was Ti-Mick Côté, a garage serviceman, a taxi driver and a veteran of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal. I’ve already talked a little about him and others in this blog and I still have a lot to say.

We both left that morning in a car, an old green and white 1956 Chevrolet, with a rounded body, so rusty that when I hit my shin on it one day, it left a scar for eternity. We made a pit stop at the Binerie, a meeting place for taxi drivers who could eat there almost at any time. We used to say “the Binerie on Mont-Royal Street” because it was located “on Mont-Royal street” in a working-class neighbourhood which was full of children playing outside. That was long before some speculators invented “Le Plateau” as a way of making money for them. We had driven to Montreal city centre, still the Metropolis of Canada, under a sky that threatened the worst. An hour and a half after our departure, our stomach was full but we were worried. We finally found ourselves at the strategic waiting place at the curb. With a touch of Quebecois fatality in our eyes, the weather did not look that good. As we left the house, the temperature was chilly and the streets were under thick and grey skies. We had been psychologically prepared for what was to come under an Irish and Scottish winter. Lo and behold, as we were waiting at the curb there was a change in temperature as only this city can offer, whether positive or negative. And in just one hour, the weather forecasted magically disappeared, giving way to ideal weather…

I was very happy and waiting with my two feet firmly planted on the edge of the pavement with my back resting on my father’s belly. My father was standing right behind me. All we had to do was to take part in a game of who would be the first to see the arrival of the head of the procession from a distance. And so, under a pure azure sky, we witnessed the first energetic comings and goings of the pre-parade scouts and, more importantly, finally began to hear the plaintive and moving sound of the Black Watch bagpipes which I knew and my old man had meant.

My father’s instructions were that when the men of this regiment were passing by, I was to stand perfectly straight, head up in silence and no matter what happened, not to move an eyelash, because at the same time, he was to give the most beautiful military salute possible. The salute given by us was a very important symbol. My father had reminded me each time…

“During the war, the Fusiliers Mont-Royal and the Black Watch fought side by side many times to push back Hitler’s army. And that neither of us ever gave up…” He added… “That year he could also have joined the Black Watch…” but that I had finally chosen the Fusiliers because his language was French. In short, all these things made me think, as a child, that under those circumstances it was only natural that the bagpipes should give me the emotions they did. Moreover the regiment’s drums sounded like those of our old Compagnie franche de la Marine which we used to go and see in the middle of summer at the Fort of Saint-Helene Island…

When the music passed us by, of course I did what I had to. Except that suddenly a startling sensation came over me. Something like three drops of rain falling on my head. “But it’s not raining… Could it be a sparrow?”, I said to myself without moving and scanning the sky left and right. As soon as the bagpipes passed, I touched the top of my head to see what it could be. No, it wasn’t bird’s dropping, so it could only be water. I asked my father who was watching me, if he hadn’t received some drops. He simply said that maybe he had, but that he hadn’t bothered because he was perfectly at attention honouring the Black Watch that were passing by. Mockingly, he added that I’d better get back watching the parade because if I missed it, I’d have to wait a long time for the next one…

The rest of the parade went very smoothly, as you can imagine, but on the way back the whole thing seemed rather too strange. I asked my father if he had ever seen a weather phenomenon like that and then, probably coming from those Scottish and Irish roots that gave him the ability to communicate with elves and leprechauns, he replied, “You know, sometimes some bagpipes make it rain without anyone being able to understand it. But then, it happens so infrequently that you can consider it a great chance to be personally affected.”

At eight or at most nine years old, this became a certainty. For a few years, I felt the luckiest to have found this little happiness. But in reality, this was only the beginning of a story that would last for decades.

The following year, I believe, it was with my Dad that I saw for the first time a 1962 movie which was soon to become one of the most famous war movies: The Longest Day. And as you no doubt know, one of the events in the film was the crossing of the Bénouville Bridge in Normandy (code-named Pegasus Bridge) by Lord Lovat and his ‘piper’ (born in Regina in 1922), Bill Millin.



The thing seemed to me a pure fantasy, exactly of the kind I already knew the Americans were capable of inventing, so my father explained to me without elaborating too much that, despite a few small details, it had indeed taken place. And that it happened quite often in war that reality was more incredible than fiction and that he could give me dozens of examples of this kind of thing. And that one day, when I will be older, we might talk about it again if I was still interested.

Time passed too quickly and one evening in 1983, my Dad Ti-Mick left this earth to join many of his twenty year old friends. For his funeral, very modest I assure you, one of his brothers in arms with whom he had remained close all his life, Mr. Arthur Fraser, asked me if I had the idea of playing some bagpipes in church. I told him that he had a good idea, that I had a tape player to do it and that I would talk to the priest. I then asked the veteran in question if he had any suggestions for the song, as he was of Scottish origin. He then suggested When the pipers play. I don’t need to tell you any more about it except that if you don’t know anything about the lyrics, I suggest you read them and you will understand the rest.

Life went on and one day I decided to move to France. Since then, every two or three years my wife and I go to the commemorations in Normandy where we have made friends. And there, on a day of commemoration in Dieppe, I was given to learn two historical facts. The first was that on August 19, 1942 (the bloodiest page in the history of the Canadian Army), a detachment of the Black Watch was among those who landed (including the Fusiliers Mont-Royal) and those who were not killed became prisoners of war.

And the second is that the liberation of Dieppe in 1944 was carried out by the same regiments that had stormed the city two years earlier. These two Montreal regiments not only marched together to the applause and flowers of the city’s inhabitants, but that the Black Watch stood on guard of honour to salute the other regiments with bagpipes, including, of course, the Fusiliers.

And if that wasn’t bad enough for Ti-Mick, this was a month after these two infantry regiments had fought side by side and were decimated south of Caen, facing what is still identified today as the most powerful German armoured division of the Second World War, Kurt Meyer’s 12th SS Hitlerjugend Panzer Division (nicknamed Panzermeyer, or ‘Meyer the armoured’).

So this is the end of my story about a certain St. Patrick’s Day Parade from my childhood in Montreal in the mid-1960s. This is how I came to understand the tears my father was shedding that day.

What’s that you say? At 65, I no longer believe in Elves or Goblins?

Oh. I didn’t say that. You’d be wrong because during a commemoration day in Bénouville, without anticipating it, my wife Isabelle and I found ourselves stopped in the middle of a bridge to hear bagpipes.

And we can now testify that Ti-Mick had indeed been advised by these mysterious entities to tell the truth about bagpipes.

Because by the time I grabbed the camera to take the following shot, quite unexpectedly and while it was perfectly sunny, it suddenly started to rain in the car.

So who knows if one of these days, you might be a witness to such a phenomenon?

Thank you for reading.

Yves Côté, son of Ti-Mick

Below is a link to When the Pipers Play.


I hear the voice, I hear the war
I hear the sound, on a distant shore
I feel the spirit of yesterday,
I touch the past, when the pipers play.
The pipes kept playing, for you and me
They kept on saying, we will soon be free
And your soul will never fade away
You’ll live forever, when the pipers play
The pibroch rears its deadly cry
Ah, some will live and some will die
And though they passed so far away
I feel their presence when the pipers play
The pipes kept playing, for you and me
They kept on saying, we will soon be free
And your soul will never fade away
You’ll live forever, when the pipers play
It speaks of love, I have lost
Its speaks of my eternal cost
It speaks the price of peace today
A price remembered, when the pipers play
We do remember when the pipers play
The pipes kept playing, for you and me
They kept on saying we will soon be free
And your soul will never fade away
You’ll live forever, when the pipers play
The pipes kept playing, for you and me
They kept on saying we will soon be free
And your soul will never fade away
You’ll live forever, when the pipers play
Source: Musixmatch

Mouse before Moose No. 419 (PDF and text version)

Mouse before Moose No. 419 (PDF and text version)

Message from Clarence Simonsen

The 419-nose-art has found a new home at Cold Lake. The photos attached are in the Public Museum.


Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Dedicated to Ley Kenyon, this is my serious effort to document and preserve on original WWII RCAF aircraft skin, his forgotten “Canadian” No. 419 [Moose] Squadron nose art, where he painted the Mouse before the Moose.

RCAF original caption

Equalling the record for a Halifax bomber, “V” for “Vic” from the Moose squadron of the R.C.A.F. Bomber Group in England, recently completed its 48th operational sorite over enemy territory with an attack on the German capital of Berlin.  In the above picture is the picturesque design indicating 47 trips over enemy territory.  it shows one of the characters in the comic section heaving bombs out of a silk hat.  On its final trip “V” for “Vic” was piloted by WO2 R.G. Herbert.

Link to the PDF below.

Mouse before Moose No. 419

Text version with all the images

No. 419 Sqn.

RCAF 1942 -1944.

“The Mouse before the Moose”

The forgotten “Canadian” nose art painted by British Rear Gunner R.A.F. #112179 –  P/O   B. Ley Kenyon.

In 1984, the author was a volunteer with HMCS Drumheller Naval Reserve, involved in research, lectures and taking photos for local Navy Cadet events. In February 1984, [HMCS Drumheller Cadets] were the guests of CFB Cold Lake, Alberta, and we spent six special days living, learning, and touring the large Canadian Air Force training base. To my surprise, there was very little WWII aviation nose art history connected with No. 419 [Moose] Squadron in their base Archives, or at least that is what I was told. Three years later, I found myself conducting No. 419 [Moose] Squadron Nose Art research and that is how I made contact with WWII veteran RCAF pilot Jack McIntosh, from Calgary, Alberta.

Jack McIntosh was born in the town of Medicine Hat, Alberta, on 26 June 1922, his Scottish father was a member of the local Police Department, and played the bagpipes. Jack joined the local Militia [South Alberta Regiment] in the summer of 1938, followed by three weeks Army summer camp being held on the Sarcee military training area, located on the south western outskirts of the City of Calgary. As Canada went to war, Jack was hired by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada, but continued his Militia training, reaching the rank of a qualified infantry Sergeant in March 1941. At age nineteen, Jack decided to enlist and joined the RCAF on 30 June 1941, posted overseas on 15 April 1942, a new pilot in No. 419 Squadron, where he flew his first 2nd Dicky operation on 13 February 1943. After eighteen months of training, twenty-year-old pilot Jack McIntosh became the leader of his five or six man RCAF aircrew, and they were all older in age than their boss.

Jack explained on his third operation, 27 February 1942, they were shot up very badly and one German night fighter killed two of his aircrew [Sgt. A.D. Grogan, Flight Eng. and rear gunner Sgt. G.I. Dunbar] and wounded a third, [Sgt. A. Mellin], they were set on fire and he made a crash landing back at base. Jack continued: stating he was flying Halifax Mk. II DT619, the bomber of S/L D.Clark, [New Zealand] which was painted with a “Kiwi Bird on a Bomb” by aircrew rear gunner P/O Ley Kenyon, the squadron artist. That was the first time I heard the name of the 419 squadron artist, but Jack knew little about him, other than he pocessed great talent and even drew caracutures of the squadron senior officers.

On 6 May 1942, Jack and his crew air tested a new Halifax B. Mk. II Special serial JD114, and this became their aircraft code VR-O. After flying six operations, the crew decided to name their bomber and pilot Jack was asked to select the new name. He picked his home town of Medicine Hat, Alberta. The squadron artist then painted Walt Disney’s Goofy picking bombs from a hat which were dropped over Germany, and after each operation a new bomb was added. Jack never met or learned the name of the nose artist, however he believ it was Ley Kenyon, and for historical records, I believe that is correct. This drawing of Halifax JD114 proudly hung in the home of Jack McIntosh, and I snapped an image.

Over the next years I would often visit Jack and his wife Jan, where a great amount of Moose squadron information was obtained for my new upcoming book on RCAF Nose Art. I also painted the replica nose art of “Medicine Hat” which were donated to two RCAF aviation museum’s [Trenton, Ontario, and Nanton, Alberta] and one for the original pilot Jack McIntosh.

This scale replica painting on original Halifax skin from NA337, was donated to Karl Kjarsgaard, Vice-president of “The Halifax Aircraft Association” in 1998, original art was painted by P/O Ley Kenyon in July 1943. Location of nose art painting today unknown, as these panels intended for RCAF Trenton, Ontario, museum display, were given away to WWII RCAF senior veterans belonging to the Halifax Aircraft Association. This author nose art research involving No. 419 Squadron in fact began ten years earlier after my week long visit to CFB Cold Lake, Alberta.

In July 1988, No. 419 [Moose] Squadron “Canada-wide” two-day reunion was being held at Calgary, Alberta, and Jack McIntosh invited me as his guest. I can fondly recall standing beside Jack in the then Canadian Army Officer’s Mess special log building, constructed in the tree covered area on the Sarcee military training area. Jack proudly explained, this was where his first Army training began back in 1938, when he was only sixteen years of age. At this reunion, Jack introduced me to a very special “unofficial” RCAF Moose squadron historian, Mr. Arthur Herbert Vincent Elmer, known to all as Vince. Vince displayed five large No. 419 photo albums from his vast research collection, and they contained many new 419 early Halifax nose art images. Vince gave his permission, allowing me to make 35 mm copies and record the information attached with each photo in his historical special Moose Squadron Nose Art collection. Today his vast historical collection is part of the No. 419 [Moose] Squadron archives stored at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta. The major part of my Ley Kenyon nose art collection came from the Vince Elmer collection, later painted as replica nose art on original WWII RCAF aircraft skins, and published here for the first time.

This WWII British map pin-points over 95 RAF airfields in use during the Second World War. No. 419 Squadron, RCAF’s third Bomber Squadron was born at Mildenhall, Suffolk, England, [yellow #70] on 15 December 1941.

Canadian Wing Commander J. [Moose] Fulton, [RAF/RCAF] DFC, assumed official duties of No. 419 Squadron on 21st December 1941, arriving from RAF Farnborough, England.

The first two Vickers Wellington Mk. IC aircraft arrived on the airfield on 4 January 1942, and eight were on strength five days later. The fifteen original aircraft serial numbers are as follows: A serial Z1145, B – X9748, C – Z1067, D – Z9920, E – Z1146 and Z8967, F – Z1053, G – Z9894, H – Z8981, N – Z9757, O – Z1083, P – Z1077, Q – Z1095 and Z1572, S – DV509.

The first operation to Best was flown on 11 January 1942, two Wellington aircraft serial X9748 and Z1145, followed on 15th of the month to bomb Hamburg, Germany, the same two Wellington bombers took part and Wellington “A” Z1145 crashed in the sea off Spurn Head. The first four No. 419 Squadron airmen missing in action.

From 1 to 5 February, No. 419 Squadron was grounded due to wet snowy weather, then on 6 February, four Wellington aircraft bombed Brest and all returned safely. S/L F.W.S. Turner and his crew flew Wellington Mk. IC on the raid, serial Z8981, coded VR-H, the other three were A – Z1091, N – Z9757, and P – Z1077.

L to R – 9 February 1942, S/L F.W.S. Turner, P/O K.E. Hobson, F/Sgt G.P. Fowler, F/Sgt. C.A. Robson, F/Sgt. N.G. Arthur, and F/Sgt. H.T. Dell. [RCAF Public Relations photo #PL7096] They would fly this same Wellington bomber to bomb Paris on 3 March 1942.

This well published image of No. 419 Squadron Wellington Mk. IC, [Type 423] covered conversion aircraft, serial Z1572, VR-Q, was one of four taken on charge 14 February 1942. No. 419 Squadron was on stand down due to wet snowy weather from 1 to 5 of February, and the first new Wellington Mk. III bombers began to arrive on 13 Feb. 1942. Four Wellington Mk. IC [type 432], arrived on 14 February, including VR-Q seen above, transferred from No. 75 New Zealand Squadron.  On 21 February 1942, the squadron became non-operational and intensive training began for conversion to the Wellington Mk. III aircraft. They had on charge Wellington Mk. III – three, Wellington Mk. IC – fifteen, and Wellington Mk. IC [type 423] – four. RCAF [Canadian] aircrew officers – thirteen, RCAF other ranks aircrew – eighty-five, RAF aircrew officers – seven and other ranks RAF – eleven. On 10 March 1942, W/C J. Fulton made a hand written entry in the squadron Daily Dairy, “It appears that Wellington IC’s were last used by 419 squadron on 10-3-42.” For some reason Z1572, VR-Q, remained on charge and flew twenty operations from 30 May 42 until late November, then went to No. 427 Squadron. She flew until April 1945, training aircrews at No. 16 O.T.U.

On 26 March 42, Flight Lt. D.L. Wolf assumed command of “B” Flight in No. 419 Squadron. A new Canadian squadron “nose art” era was about to begin, but nobody realized what was about to take place.

In January 1942, F/Lt. D.L. Wolfe was the new Captain of four sprog aircrew fresh from operational schooling at a Heavy Conversion Unit, and now their months of training and new-found aviation skills would be put to the real test. It was common knowledge their odds of survival were not very good, however the overall RCAF casualty figures were not posted and became a heavily guarded secret until late in 1944. Before a sprog aircrew were permitted to fly operations their skipper had to fly on one or more operation trips as “Second Dicky.” This was a British RAF term from the WWI days when bombers had two pilots and the co-pilot was called Second Dickey.

F/Lt. Wolf flew Second Dickey to Captain S/L Turner on 21 January 1942, and three of his aircrew Sgt. Pearce, Sgt. Goodwin, and Sgt. Morrison came along on their first combat operation. If the first operation was uneventful, no German fighter attacks, burning aircraft exploding in the air, or aircrew death, the C.O. would send the sprog crew on another introductory sortie over France or Germany. On 28 January 42, F/Lt. Wolfe [Second Pilot] and crew flew their second operational trip to Boulogne, Z1053 came home on one engine, an outstanding quality other twin-engine aircraft could not manage to do.

9 February 1942, image shows RCAF ground crew placing 303 cal. guns in Wellington Z1053, code VR-F, flown by F/Lt. Wolf that night, 10 February 1942. P/O Ley Kenyon flew his first RCAF operation in Wellington Z1053, 8 March 1942. [Vince Elmer collection 1988]

Bad weather delayed flying operations in February, 1-5 and again on 7-9 of the month, wet snow, clouds, and rain. The Wolfe crew flew Wellington Z1053 “F” on 10 February 1942, [above] then the remainder of the month was used for conversion flight training to the Wellington Mk. III which began arriving on 13 February. On 3 March 42, F/Lt. Wolfe and crew flew Z1053 “F” for the very last time, and conversion training continued. On 5 March, a new fair haired, slim, soft-spoken British air-gunner reported to No. 419 Squadron, P/O Bennett Ley Kenyon, RAF #112175. Born on 28 May 1913, in Kensington Church Street, above the family owned undertaking business, he was educated at Marylebone Grammar School. He loved the underwater life, swimming, snorkeling, photography, and painting in watercolors. Ley attended art schools in London and Paris, specialising in water colours, and even taught his favorite subject, water color design and shading. He was very mild mannered and while he fully understood his many talents, to others Ley appeared as being on the shy side. With the outbreak of war in September 1939, Ley volunteered for service in submarines of the Royal Navy, then was informed to go home and wait. Ley was called up as a lorry driver in the R.A.F. in 1940, re-mustered to Air Gunner in March 1941, and graduated with a commission of Pilot/Officer in October 1941. He was posted to RCAF Canadian No. 419 Squadron in late April 1942, flying his first operation 8 March, as rear gunner for F/Sgt. Fawcett, in Wellington Z1053.

Painted on original 1938 RCAF skin fabric [17” by 21”] from Fleet Fawn 7C, serial 123, RCAF #264, trained RCAF pilots at Camp Borden, 1939-1945.

On 10 March, Kenyon flew with Sgt. Foy in Wellington Z1077 [2nd Operation], and on the 25 March with F/Sgt. Shannon, in Wellington X3703 [3]. On 26 March, Flight Lieutenant D.L. Wolfe assumed command of “B” flight in No. 419 Squadron, and he assigned the new British gunner to his own aircrew, flying 28 March 42, in Wellington X3467 [4th Operation].

Op. #      Date                        Pilot                                       Aircraft Serial

5.         8 April 42                   S/L Wolfe [promoted]          Wellington X3711 “R”

6.         10 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

7.         12 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

8.         14 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

9.         22 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

10.       23 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3703             “S”

11.       28 April 42                 W/C Fulton                            X3711             “R”

12.       7 May 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3486             “U”

Wellington X3486, VR-U, most likely painted with Donald Duck nose art in April 1942.

13.       8/9 May 42                P/O Cavaghan                      X3715             “G”

14.       17 May 42                  S/L Wolfe                              X3360             “R”

15.       29 May 42                  S/L Wolfe                              X3360

16.       30 May 42                  S/L Wolfe                              X3404

17.       1 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

18.       2 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

19.       3 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

20.       8 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

21.       16 June 42                  S/L Wolf                                X3360

22.        25 June 42                S/L Wolfe                              X3360

23.       2 July 42                     S/L Wolfe                              X3360

24.       6/7 July 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3360

25.       13 July 42                   S/L Wolfe                              X3360              “R”

On 1 August 1942, No. 419 was ordered to stand-down, and prepare for the movement of the complete squadron.

12 August 1942 from No. 3 Group, at Mildenhall, Suffolk, to No. 4 Group, Leeming, Yorkshire, 13 August to 17 August. Then on 18 August they moved to Topcliffe, Yorkshire, until 30 September, then on to Croft, Yorkshire, 1 October 1942 until 9 November 1942.

26.       13 October 1942        W/C M.M. Fleming DFC        X3659             “B”

W/C J. Fulton was killed in action 28 July 1942, [Wellington X3488, “H”] replaced by W/C A.P. Walsh, 5 August to 2 September 1942, killed in action. W/C M.M. Fleming assumed command on 8 September 1942 until 8 October 1942. Rear gunner Ley Kenyon flew Operation #11 with W/C Fulton and his #26 Operation with W/C M. M. Fleming.

Wing Commander John “Moose” Fulton, DFC, 1942, age twenty-nine.

W/C Fulton failed to return on 28 July 1942, Wellington X3488 “H” and his last message was –  “Fighters wounded 500.” The radio fix was ten miles of the Frisian Islands, and this German drawing gives some idea of the last moments of W/C Fulton and his crew.

The RCAF soon discovered that his artistic talents made Ley Kenyon an exceptionally good rear-gunner, able to recognise enemy aircraft in a split second. In August 1942, he was promoted to “Gunnery Leader” teaching aircraft recognition, gunnery instruction, and evasive tactics for escape from Germany if aircrews were shot down. Before going on combat operational squadron flights, sprog aircrews flew in various exercises designed to prepare them for the realities of operational flying. These operations were called “Bulls-eye” and took place over large British cities, where they learned how to avoid searchlights and night fighters. These crews also flew “Nickels” which required them to find a target over France, and sometimes Germany, then drop night leaflets. Other crews in training took part in minor raids, designed to take the German night fighters away from the main bombers force. These operational training flights were just as dangerous, sometimes even worse than the operational operations, as these new ‘sprog’ training crews had no combat flying experience. My Calgary friend pilot Jack McIntosh related how he attended eleven funerals in two weeks of his operational training. RAF Bomber Command did not count these training operational deaths in their causality total, a chilling fact in the cat and mouse game of war, never telling the aircrews or public the whole truth. Gunnery leader P/O Ley Kenyon survived fourteen of these training sorties which were never counted as combat operations. During his own spare hours, Ley began to paint large Walt Disney nose art images on the No. 419 Wellington bomber nose sections.

On 10 November 1942, No. 419 Squadron moved to their final base at Middleton St. George, Durham, England.

This Vickers Wellington Mk. III, code VR-M, is being serviced for an operation in late November 1942, at Middleton St. George. [RCAF PL7091]

The ground crew are L to R: LAC James Gardiner, Lac Fred Fitzhugh, LAC Fred Scott and unknown RAF. The Ley Kenyon nose art of Mickey Mouse stood for the aircraft call sign, “M for Mickey or Mouse” Note large code letter “M” painted on nose, serial unknown. [Vince Elmer image 1988]

This Wellington bomber could be serial X9757, X9874, X9920, Z1085, or Z1085, which had no known assigned code letters flying with No. 419 Squadron.  Nose art artist was British RAF rear gunner P/O Ley Kenyon.

Replica scale nose art painting of VR-M [M for Mouse], correct colors unknown.

Wellington Mk. III, serial X3486 flew her first operation on 25 March 1942, F/Sgt. Elliot, 28 March, F/Sgt. Elliot, 5 April F/Sgt. Swanson, then 8 and 12 April F/Sgt. Elliot. It appears the Donald Duck art was possibly painted for the crew of F/Sgt. Elliot.

Flight/Sgt. William Chester McGuffin, J15712, DFC, came from Calgary, Alberta, flying his first operation as Second Dickey with F/Sgt. Dutton on 2 May 1942, in Wellington Mk. III, X3486, VR-C, decorated with Donald Duck nose art by P/O Ley Kenyon. The bomber code letter was changed to “U” on 8 April. This was the sixth operation for the Wellington bomber and the above photo was taken 2 May 42, at Mildenhall, Suffolk, England. [Vince Elmer collection]

His second operation was flown in the same Wellington Mk. III, serial X3486, and he would survive his first tour of thirty operations.  S/L William McGuffin was nearly finished his second tour, 54 trips, when he was killed in a No. 419 [Moose] Lancaster on 23 October 1944, he was 22 years of age.

It appears this Donald Duck nose art might be the very first painted [April 1942] by RAF rear-gunner P/O Ley Kenyon who arrived at No. 419 Squadron, Mildenhall, Suffolk, on 5 March 1942. The aircrew of S/L Wolfe, with rear gunner nose artist Ley Kenyon flew this bomber [he painted] on 7 May 1942, their 12th Operation, the 9th Operation for the Wellington bomber. The use of Donald Duck was not just another Walt Disney cartoon choice, but closely reflected the Canadian and British spirit of the war in 1942. His anger, desperation, belligerent nature, and red faced aggression made Donald the number one choice in WWII aircraft nose art. Wellington VR-U survived a total of fourteen operations, X3486 went missing on 5/6 June 1942, F/Sgt. Dutton, bombing Essen, Germany. F/Sgt. Joseph Mervyn Dutton R60552 was from Calgary, Alberta, flying his thirteenth operation, age 23 years, his aircrew have no known grave. This replica painting on original WWII Norseman aircraft skin displays how RCAF nose art can be used as a memorial to a long lost Canadian aircrew from the past, rather than just a list of names on a cold marble wall in England.

W/C John [Moose] Fulton, 37095, began his wartime career with RAF No. 99 Squadron flying Wellington aircraft. He was flying his second tour of operations, his 66th on 28/29 July 1942, when his aircraft X3488 “H” was reported missing in action, he was twenty-nine years old.  W/C Fulton has no known grave and his name is inscribed on the Runnymede War Memorial, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey, England.

From August 1942, onwards the squadron began to unofficially use the name “Moose” derived from the nickname of their first squadron commander W.C John [Moose] Fulton. In January 1943, the City of Kamloops, British Columbia, adopted No. 419 “Moose” Squadron as a gesture of commemoration of their native son. In late August 1943, the unit badge and motto [Beware of the Moose] were designed [Ley Kenyon] and submitted for official Chester Herald approval.

The last three Wellington Mk. III aircraft, serial X3659 “B”, BK364 and K3390 flew on 6 November 1942, and the next day the squadron was ordered on “Stand Down” and operations creased. The Squadron prepared for the move to Middleton St. George and conversion to the Halifax Mk. II, Series I, “Special” with five bombers on strength by the end of November. On 31 December 1942, No. 419 had eighteen Halifax Mk. II Series 1, [Special] bombers on strength and they were fully trained to begin operations on 1 January 1943. They now came under control of No. 6 [RCAF] Group, No. 64 [RCAF] Base, Middleton St. George, Durham, England.

In the summer of 1942, a modification of the Halifax Mk. II Series I aircraft was introduced to the RAF, which was a new clean up of the original design, aimed at reducing the over all weight of the large bomber. The front turret was removed and the top half of the nose section was covered over by a fairing. Officially known as modification #398, it was called “Tollerton” after the Tollerton Aircraft Services where the first modification began. A number of these Halifax modifications also included the removal of the old Boulton Paul Type “C” mid-upper gun turret, saving a total weight of 1,450 lbs., which was equal to a further saving of 849 lbs. of fuel and oil over an average flight range of 1,800 miles. This new designed Halifax was officially designated B. Mk. II, Series I, [Special] beginning RAF service in August 1942.

Two-hundred and fifty were constructed by English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, serial numbers W1270 to W1276, and DT481 to DT808. Another one-hundred and fifty were constructed by English Electric, serial numbers W7801 to W7939. A further seventy-four were constructed by LPTB, Leavesden, serial numbers BB236 to BB313.

The following Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. II [Special] aircraft serial numbers were assigned to No. 419 Squadron, beginning mid-November 1942.

W7857            “O”

BB283             “O”

DT548             “B”

DT615             “P”                 Kenyon rare ditching tent art

DT616             “K”

DT617             “C” & “G”

DT619             “Q”                Kiwi Bird on Bomb with red Maple Leaf

DT623             “S”


DT629             “V”                  V for Victory sign

DT630             “T”

DT634             “E”                  Stork and Baby Bombardier [Disney]

DT639             “B”

DT641             “R”

DT646             “C”

DT669             “L”

DT672             “D”

DT689             “N”                 Moose menacing Hitler [flew record 45 Ops.]

No. 419 Squadron ground crew preparing a Halifax B. Mk. II, Series I, [Special] for Operations.

S/L David Walter Sealy Clark RAF #36213 was posted to No. 419 Squadron in early November 1942, appointed as the new Halifax Flight commander. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1916, he served in the RNZAF in 1938, and was commissioned in the RAF in 1939. He completed his Heavy Conversion training from Wellington to Halifax Mk. II bombers at No. 1653 HCU and reported to No. 419 Squadron on 9 November. He flew his first operation in Halifax VR-Q serial DT619 on 9 January 1943, and this became his aircraft which he piloted on 21 January, 2/3 February, 14 Feb., 16/17 Feb., 18 Feb., and 19 February, his last flight. During this time period the nose art of a New Zealand Kiwi bird diving on a bomb [with Maple Leaf] was painted by Ley Kenyon on the Halifax nose and named “Kiwi.” The Kiwi is a flightless bird species endemic to New Zealand, and that is what S/L Clark wanted on his bomber.

Nose Art image of “Kiwi” from Vince Elmer collection 1988.

This was Halifax Mk. II Special serial DT619 which was assigned to pilot Sgt. Jack McIntosh on 27 February 1943. While carrying out mining operations in the Frisian Islands area, they were attacked by an enemy fighter and the bomber was severely damaged by 20 mm cannon fire, killing two crew members and badly wounding the navigator. McIntosh made a successful forced landing at RAF Coltishall, with three mines on board his bomber. Jack confirmed this nose art to me in person, and he believed the Halifax was repaired and transferred to a Heavy Conversion Unit somewhere in England.

Kiwi replica size 16” by 16” painted on original skin from Fairchild Aircraft Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV, serial 9041. T.O.S. by No. 8 Squadron RCAF Station Sydney, Nova Scotia, 3 October 1941.

With the loss of DT619, the Flight Commander S/L David Clark began flying Halifax Mk. II serial W1271, which he piloted on 1/2 March, 8/9 April, 10/11 April, 14/15 April and his last operation flown on 16/17 April 1943.

It has been recorded [Ian Duncan] that Halifax W1271 carried the same nose art of the Kiwi bird, also painted by P/O Ley Kenyon. It has also been reported that W1271 carried the nose art image of an Australian Kangaroo with name “Have Another” but never confirmed. To add to this confusion, the exact very same Kiwi Bird nose art will later appear on a No. 419 Squadron Lancaster KB718, code VR-J, with confirmed photo images. Ley Kenyon was shot down on 16/17 September 1943 in LW240, so he did not paint the last “Kiwi” Lancaster nose art. KB718 first flew on 1/2 May 1944, and was piloted most operations by C18516 P/O G.R.H. Peck and his aircrew who were posted to No. 419 Squadron on 31 March 1944. Why they painted the very same Kiwi nose art which first appeared on Halifax DT619 is a mystery, and most likely will never be known.

The author believes, this Ley Kenyon nose art was possibly painted on Halifax serial W1271, VR-P.

In August 1942, the English Electric Company began to manufacture the new Halifax B [Bomber] and GR [General Reconnaissance] Mk. II, Series I [Special] for the R.A.F. They were built in serial blocks with gaps to confuse the German intelligence. The first to arrive with No. 419 Squadron came from RAF serial block W7801 to W7939, Halifax Mk. II W7857 was first to arrive 9 January 1943, assigned code letters VR-O. Next came W7817, “A” 29 Jan., W7889, 19 February and W7869, 24 February. The fifth to arrived was Halifax Mk. II serial W1271, “P” which flew first operation on 1/2 March 1943, S/L D. Clark.  The Halifax completed six operations in March, five in April, never flew in month of May and continued operations on 12/13 June, 19/20 June with the last flight on 21/22 June 1943. Shot down, all No. 428 Squadron attached aircrew killed in action.

This 17” by 31 “replica nose art was painted on original RCAF WWII aircraft skin fabric taken from Noorduyn Norseman RCAF serial #494, taken on strength 9 September 1942 and crashed into Lake Allen, N.W.T. on 25 August 1947. Recovered from the lake in 1993, restored by Alberta Aviation Museum to static condition in 1997, the original aircraft skins were saved from the garbage by pilot Tony Jarvis in 1999, and obtained by the author for painting.  The full history of this aircraft can be read online at the Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, Alberta. This original nose art was painted by Ley Kenyon No. 419 Squadron and appeared on one of their Halifax. B. Mk. II bombers, the serial and code letters are not confirmed.

This image is a nose art blow-up from the collection of Vince Elmer, Halifax B. Mk. II, Series I, “Special” which arrived with 419 Squadron in early January 1943. The Halifax came from a batch serial DT612 to DT649, constructed by English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, in December 1942. Given the code letters VR-E, she was assigned to the aircrew of Sgt. B.F. Heintz, flying first operation on 21/22 January, gardening at Nectarine, thirty-five attacked and two bombers were lost. Sgt. Heintz flew the next two operations and on 4/5 February Sgt. L. Bakewill flew DT634 to Turin, where he lost two engines on the return flight. The Halifax was parked for repairs during the next three weeks, [6 to 26 February] and that is when the most interesting Walt Disney insignia nose art most likely appeared painted by Ley Kenyon.

Ellington Field, Texas, was constructed in 1917, to train American pilots for service in WWI. In October 1940, construction began on a much larger airfield, five control towers, two large hangars, and 74 barracks for navigation, bombardier, and pilot training in the United States Army Air Corp. The huge airbase opened on 26 June 1941, and soon became known as “the Bombardment Academy of the Air.” In October 1941, the first bombardier class wrote to Walt Disney to create a new base insignia. [Disney artists created over 500 insignia for U.S. government and military units in pre-war year 1941] The new insignia [above] arrived just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and seems to have been lost or forgotten in the following months of confusion as the United States prepared for entry into World War Two.

When the Disney artist’s designs were published in an aviation magazine, [Insignia Industry by Kurt Rand, February 1942] the RCAF were quick to adopt and copy this insignia on aircraft training in Canada and England. No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mont Joli, Quebec, officially opened on 15 December 1941, and training began with British Fairey Battle aircraft. New Canadian built Avro Anson Mk. II bombers began to arrive on 17 February 1942, and nineteen were assigned to the base. These Avro Anson yellow training bombers were all painted [May-June] with the Walt Disney stork and baby [on white circle] dropping bombs, a most fitting RCAF Bombing and Gunnery insignia.

More Avro Anson Mk. II bombers in training at No. 5 S.F.T.S. at Brantford, Ontario, soon followed and the Disney insignia next began appearing on bombers in Heavy Conversion Units training in England. The Domino effect was taking place and the stork next began to appear painted on combat bombers in the RCAF. The stork first appeared in the movie Dumbo which was released to the American public 23 October 1941, not released in Canada until 31 March 1942. The movie was also released to the American Armed Forces and shown in combat theatres around the world, obviously when the Disney military insignia appeared the Dumbo stork was well known to thousands. During the filming of Dumbo, 29 May 1941, the Disney Studios went on a bitter strike, led by union leader animator Art Babbitt. Disney fired Babbitt, then had to rehire his animator when the union strike was settled, however they remained life-long enemies. The Art Babbitt Western Union stork would not appear in other Disney war created military insignia, but soon found a new home in Canada and England adopted by the RCAF. No. 405, 408, and 419 Squadrons all carried this Stork nose art on Halifax and Lancaster Mk. II bombers during WWII.

Lancaster Mk. II, [Hercules VI engines] serial DS692, in No. 408 Goose Squadron began operations in October 1943. Code “S” she wore the Disney Stork, airframe mechanic is LAC J. A. Talbot from Pictou, Nova Scotia. Crash landed Marston Moor on 23 July 1944. RCAF image PL26028.

The aircrew of Sgt. B.F. Heintz were assigned a new Halifax DT634 and flew seven operations in ‘their’ bomber, 21 January, 23 Jan., 29 Jan., 1/2 March, 3 March, 5/6 March, and 9/10 March. It is believed they were the crew which picked the Walt Disney stork for their bomber nose art painting by Ley Kenyon. The little stork came from the 1941 movie Dumbo, which became one of Disney’s most direct, appealing, and most American of all his movie tales. The stork delivers Dumbo to Mrs. Jumbo dressed as a Western Union messenger, all created by animator Art Babbitt, who hated Walt Disney, and headed the animator union which got him fired. Forced to rehire Babbitt, Art and Walt would be enemies for life. The new military insignia using the Western Union stork was created by animator Hank Porter, and now it was going to war painted on a Canadian RCAF Halifax bomber.

The Walt Disney stork and baby dropping bombs nose art was possibly painted on Halifax DT634 during the three weeks the aircraft was in for repairs and double engine replacement, 6 to 26 February 1943.

F/O Charles Edward Porter J9668, was hit by flak south of Bremen, Germany, and lost one engine, then decided to bomb Magdeburg, instead of Berlin. After his bombing run was completed, his Halifax was attacked by a German night fighter and a second engine was set on fire. The fuselage caught fire and the escape hatches became jammed by the heat, they had to be kicked or cut open with a fire axe. All of his aircrew finally jumped safely, pilot F/O Porter remained at the controls too long [saving his crew] and went down with his bomber.

This 18” by 24” scale replica nose art image was painted on original aircraft tail fin skin taken from Fleet Fawn 7C, RCAF serial 264, constructed in 1938. The tri-color tail markings are original RCAF standard when they were applied in 1938. This is painted as close as possible to the original Ley Kenyon nose art painting completed on Halifax VR-E, serial DT634.

F/Sgt. Harling was one of the original Wireless/Air Gunners in No. 419 Squadron, flying with a number of different pilots, F/Sgt. J.A. Clark, S/L P. Dart and F/O D.H. Kennay.  On 13 September 1942, Harling was flying in Wellington Mk. III, VR-O, serial X3308, piloted by F/Sgt. Cameron. They were hit by flak over the target of Bremen, Germany, and two fuel tanks were pierced and leaking.  They made a forced landing in the sea, just three miles from Southwold, Suffolk, England, around 5 am. Ditching diagram RAF Wellington Dinghy installation and exit points.

In the darkness, second pilot R.A.F. Sgt. A. Donlin released the aircraft dingy, but he failed to exit the sextant escape hatch and went down with the aircraft, the remainder of the aircrew survived in the dingy raft for over two hours and were saved at sunrise.

DT615 became the first new Halifax Mk. II to wear the code letter VR-P in 419 Squadron, flying operations 3/4 Feb., 18 Feb., 19/20 Feb., 24/25 Feb., and 26/27 February. On the 27th the aircrew of Sgt. Bill Gray were assigned Halifax “P” DT615 on a mining operation to the Frisian Islands. The rear gunner was F/Sgt. Russ Harling, and again his bomber was hit by flak and developed engine trouble, forcing them to ditch in the sea. They spent a very wet and cold night [nine hours] in the dinghy, were found the following morning and brought safely home with no injuries. Rear gunner F/Sgt. Russ Harling was the only member of No. 419 Squadron to survive two ditching’s in the cruel Atlantic Ocean. A very lucky Canadian rear gunner.

I interviewed Russ Harling in 1989, and he was kind enough to sent me this image from his collection. This special ground crew tent art of the second Halifax DT615 ditching was painted by fellow rear gunner RAF P/O Ley Kenyon.

The second Halifax Mk. II to wear the 419 Squadron code letter “P” became serial JD270, nicknamed “Popeye.” Constructed by E.E. in a batch of 35 serial JD244 to JD278, she was the last of four delivered to No. 419 Squadron, serial JD256, JD257, JD258, and JD270.

Pilot Sgt. William Donald Leslie Cameron R116979 was born in Sarnia, Ontario, after training his aircrew were posted to No. 419 Squadron in mid-June 1943. Flew his first operation as 2nd pilot with P/O B.F. Haintz, Halifax JB900, 22/23 June 1942. First operation as pilot was flown in Halifax Mk. II serial JD163, 28/29 June 1943, to bomb Cologne, Germany. The sprog aircrew were now assigned a new Halifax Mk. II aircraft, serial JD270, coded VR-P [Popeye]. They flew their first operation in JD270 on 3/4 July, part of 68 RCAF aircraft which were despatched to attack Cologne, Germany, six of these aircraft failed to return. [Which means over forty aircrew members were P.O.W.s or killed in action that night] The Popeye throwing red bombs nose art was picked by the Cameron crew and painted by Ley Kenyon possibly in the stand-down period of ten days 14 to 24 July 1943. The Halifax bomber JD270, VR-P, would be despatched on fourteen operations and eleven were piloted by Sgt. Cameron and his aircrew.

Vince Elmer collection image, ground crew name unknown.

Operations flown by Halifax Mk. II serial JD270, red circle piloted by Sgt. William Cameron.

Scale replica Ley Kenyon nose art painted on original RCAF Norseman skin from #494.

After completing their bomb run over the City of Berlin, Halifax JD270 was in a mid-air collision with a German night-fighter aircraft, and RCAF F/Sgt. Boos, F/Sgt. Scharf, and RAF L. Duggan were able to bail out of their bomber and were taken Prisoners of War. The other four members of the crew were killed in action, buried in the Berlin War Cemetery, Charlottenburg, Germany.

WO2 pilot William Donald Leslie Cameron, age 22 years, killed in action 1 September 1943.

Vince Elmer photo 1988, DT629, VR-V, artist Ley Kenyon.

Halifax B. Mk. II serial DT629 arrived with No. 419 Squadron in late January 1943, flying only one operation 23/24 of the month. The Ley Kenyon nose art was very simple, featuring the famous Churchill WWII sign “V for Victory” for the Halifax code letter VR-V.

In February 1943, DT629 flew six operations, 2, 3, 7/8, 14, 16/17, and her last trip on 18 of the month. The last trip was flown by aircrew of F/Sgt. R.G. Goddard, mining operation to Frisian Islands, where they were attacked by a German night-fighter. Rear Gunner F/Sgt. W.T. Gaunt fired a long burst and tracers were seen to hit the enemy fighter which broke off attack and went into a drive. Claimed as one Enemy fighter probably damaged. The RCAF bomber then disappears from the squadron records, no crash report, possibly transferred to another RCAF Squadron, or most likely to an RCAF Heavy Conversion Unit in England for sprog aircrew training.

Halifax DT689 was constructed in October 1942, by English Electric Co. at Salmesbury, Preston, in British block serial numbers DT665 to DT705. Delivered to No. 419 Squadron in early November she was assigned code letters VR-N, and began aircrew training at Middleton St. George, Durham, sometime after 10 November 1942. This aircraft was soon taken over by the new C.O. Wing Commander M.M. [Mervin] Fleming [his drawing by Ley Kenyon, shown in the cockpit above] and the Halifax became known to all as the “Winco’s Bomber.” The front nose fairing known as the “Tollerton” nose had two factory horizontal widows above the bomb aimer’s panels and this is where Ley Kenyon created his next truly nose art special painting.

Vince Elmer 1988 image

This nose art was dedicated to the squadron’s first C.O. W/C J. [Moose] Fulton, DFC, and AFC, showing a Moose head which has just taken a bite out of the ass of a running Adolf Hitler. This nose art became an inspiration for all squadron members as Halifax DT689 was never shot down, and set a record for 45 operations over Europe and Germany. Her operation record follows; the red circles stand for the eleven operations flown by W/C M. M. Fleming, DSO, DFC, 8 September 1942 until 8 October 1943.

This replica nose art painting was created by the author to honour W/C J. Fulton, DFC, AFC, painted on an original skin panel [16” by 27”] from Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial number NA337. Lost on a combat operation [dropping war supplies] 23/24 April 1945, the bomber laid on the bottom of Lake Mjosa, Norway, for the next fifty years. The full history can be found on many web sites, books, and videos, showing the correct restoration to the specifications of a British Halifax A. Mk. VII. This is not the combat version bomber flown by Canadians during WWII, however that is what the Halifax Aircraft Association RCAF veterans decided, and so be it. In the beginning, [1998] it was decided the author would paint replica nose art on original Halifax salvaged parts, but in the end, the replica panels were given away to WWII veteran senior association members. The black paint patches on the image are the original British WWII matt paint which survived fifty years in the lake in Norway, and today is preserved on this original Halifax skin panel dedicated to “Moose” Fulton.

RCAF Halifax B. Mk. II, Series I, “Special” serial DT689, became the pride and joy of No. 419 Squadron in the first eight months of 1943, dedicated to their first Commanding Officer “Moose” Fulton. British rear gunner Ley Kenyon painted this first nose art of the Moose chasing Hitler in honour of his missing in action C.O., which he flew one operation with as his tail gunner. All this history was saved by Vince Elmer and after his death was donated to No. 419 Squadron archives, where it has been forgotten with the passage of time.

For correct No. 419 Squadron historical records it should be noted that the idea, design, and approval of the “Moose” Squadron crest did not begin until August 1943, then it was submitted to the Chester Herald for British approval on the last day of the month.

The author has searched, but no record can be found naming who designed the original Moose drawing for approval by Wing Commander Mervin Fleming, DFC, in August 1943. It should be very clear to any historian this person was No. 419 British nose artist Ley Kenyon, who painted the first unofficial Moose nose art on Halifax DT689. The official Moose Badge, Motto and authority by King George VI were later approved in June 1944.

Halifax B. Mk. II “Special” serial JB859 “Thundering Heard”

The original replica nose art painted on salvaged skin from NA337, donated to the Halifax Aircraft Association in July 1999, given away, private location today unknown.

Halifax B. Mk. II, “Special” serial JB859 was one of 123 constructed at Handley Page Ltd. Cricklewood and Radlett, serial numbers JB781 to JB974. The bomber was from the second batch of 42 built between 28 February to 23 March 1943. Four of these bombers were delivered to RCAF No. 419 squadron by ferry pilots, serial JB859, JB860, JB861 and JB862. The Halifax would begin operations on 22/23 March 1943, and completed thirteen, with six different Canadian aircrews up to 12/13 May, when it was damaged by German flak and required major repairs.

12th operation was on 4/5 May 43, P/O J.D. Dickson and 13th operation 12/13 May, when the Halifax was hit by flak, rear turret out of action, flak holes in fuselage and port prop holed.

After repairs were completed Halifax JB859 was assigned to the aircrew of F/O Stanley Mervyn Heard, J5535, a twenty-three-year-old farm lad from Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

The Heard aircrew flew six operations in their Halifax, the 14th to 19th operations for the bomber. During this time period Ley Kenyon painted the special nose art of a stampede of cattle called “Thundering Heard.” The Halifax flew two more operations on 10/11 August to Nuremberg and 12/13 August to Milan, Italy. The Halifax was transferred to No. 1666 Heavy Conversion Unit, for training and survived the war, struck off charge by RAF on 1 November 1945, then soon after scrapped.

The Ley Kenyon nose art painting which flew only 5 or 6 operations during WWII. Image from Vince Elmer collection in 1988.

F/L Stanley Mervyn Heard, 23 years, was killed in action on 17 August 1943, raid on Peenemunde, Germany, shot down in Halifax JD158, “Three-headed Dragon” crashed Baltic Sea near Greifswald, Bodden, Germany. Body recovered and buried in Greifswald Cemetery, Germany. 15” by 32“painting on original skin from RCAF Norseman #494.

Halifax serial JD158, VR-D for “Dragon” by Ley Kenyon, from Vince Elmer collection 1988.

Halifax B. Mk. II, Special, serial JD158 was constructed by English Electric Co., Salmesbury, Preston, a batch of thirty-eight serial JD143 to JD180, built between 7 May to 28 May 1943. Five of these new Mk. II bombers were delivered by British female ferry pilots to RCAF No. 419 Squadron, Middleton St. George, Durham, JD143, JD147, JD158, JD159 and JD163. Halifax JD158 was assigned the code letters VR-D, and flew her first operation on 23/24 May 1943, assigned to pilot J8170 F/O Charles Edward MacIntosh and aircrew flying their 12th operation. Charles MacIntosh was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1916, and enlisted in the RCAF on 3 March 1941. Trained at No. 2 ITS, Regina, Sask., graduated 25 May 1941, No. 8 EFTS, Vancouver, B.C., graduated 26 July 1941, No. 3 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, received his wings, graduated and commissioned 17 October 1941. Aircrew came together as a unit at No. 22 OTU, Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire, and trained at No. 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit at Topcliffe, Yorkshire, 20 February 1943, posted to No. 419 Squadron on 11 March 1943.

Upon arrival at No. 419 Squadron they flew their first operation in Halifax DT789 on 12/13 March, and the Daily Diary [above] spelled the new pilot’s surname incorrectly. The correct spelling should read F/O C.E. MacIntosh, Captain. They completed ten more combat operations in Halifax JB861, DT672 [2], DT616, DT798 [2], BB376, JB859, and BB384 [2]. Assigned new Halifax JD158 on 23/24 March 1943, they would fly her eleven times, marked with red circle.

The aircrew of Flying Officer J8170 C.E. MacIntosh finished their tour on 13/14 July and the Halifax JD158 was taken over by S/L G.A. McMurdy who flew her seven times marked with letter M. The Three-headed Winged Dragon was most likely painted by Ley Kenyon in early June and the reason is not known. The Three-Headed Dragon exist in drawings, myths, and legends created in many different countries, some with wings and others without.

On his second operation in JD158, Flying Officer Charles MacIntosh took part in a 43 plane attack on Essen, Germany, and the bomber was hit by flak. One port and one starboard engine were knocked out of service, plus the rear turret and port wing were heavy damaged by flak holes. With great skill and determination, pilot MacIntosh was able to return across the North Sea on two engines and make an emergency landing at Coltishall, no aircrew were injured. For his actions he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, effective 1 September 1943. It is possible the Three-Headed Winged Dragon nose art reflected on this dangerous operation and was painted during the two-week repair period, 29 May to 12 June 1943.

This author 22” by 17” scale replica nose art painting was completed on one original skin panel from Halifax B. Mk. A, serial NA337. While the WWII colors are not known, this is very close to the original nose art by Ley Kenyon, and helps preserve his lost Canadian 419 Squadron Halifax aircraft “Dragon” nose creation.

RCAF No. 1691 [Bomber] Gunnery Flight was formed at Dalton, Yorkshire, England, on 2 July 1943, and promoted pilot F/Lt. Charles MacIntosh J8170 was posted to the new unit effective 14 August 1943. On 1 September 1943, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, AFRO 2322/43, dated 12 November 1943.

The Three-Headed Winged Dragon Halifax JD158 was assigned to the aircrew of F/Lt. Stanley Heard on 17/18 August raid on Peenemunde, Germany. Attacked by German night-fighters, they crash into the Baltic near Greifswald, Bodden, Germany, all killed.

Author painting of F/Lt. Heard from original 1943 sketch drawing by Ley Kenyon.

On 22 April 1943, the English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, England, began production of 223 Halifax B. Mk. II, Series 1, “Special” aircraft, serial numbers JD105 to JD476. The first production batch of twenty-four bombers received the serial numbers JD105 to JD128, and they were constructed without the mid-upper gun turret, which was faired over, shown in the flying drawing of JD114, above left. Later production aircraft had the British Boulton Paul ‘A’ Mk. VII mid-upper turret added, as shown in the above Halifax line drawing. Five of these first batch new bombers were assigned to RCAF units, JD107 to 408 Squadron, JD113 and JD114 to No. 419 Squadron, and JD123 and JD124 to No. 405 Squadron. For many new sprog aircrews in Bomber Command, the full risks of death associated with combat flying did not become evident until they began flying operations. A tour of combat was based on the accumulation of 200 hours of combat operations, or roughly 30 operational trips. If they survived a first tour, members were assigned to a training period for the next six months, thirty days leave, followed by a second operation tour of 30-35 trips. During the war, the odds of aircrew survival varied considerably due to the bombing campaign, enemy aircraft involved, ground flak, and always the weather.

The actual RAF odds against combat survival were somewhat withheld from the aircrews and the public during the war, and it was generally accepted that aircrews had a 50-50 chance of survival. In reality it was not that good.

While facts and records could be hidden by RAF High Command, the psychological impact of a battle-damaged aircraft returning to base with dead and wounded had a major impact on both RCAF air and ground crews. Jack McIntosh described his own recollected experience with death, survival, and the level of stress he had to deal with in his early combat operations.

Jack McIntosh flew his first operation [second Dickey] to F/Sgt. Gray in Halifax DT548, code “M” on 13 February 1943. He flew his crew in Halifax DT689 “N” on 26/27 February 1943.

Jack explained he was motivated to join the RCAF out of respect for his Scottish father, who had been wounded twice while serving with British forces in WWI. Rigorously selected and trained as a pilot for the RCAF, the grim realities of operational combat and the high death toll suddenly dispelled the more glamourous ideas in the young pilot’s mind. On their third operation of dropping mines in the area of the Frisian Islands, Halifax DT619 was attacked by a German fighter and two crew members were killed with the navigator serious injured. On landing back at base pilot McIntosh saw the battle damage done to the rear of his bomber, and the death of his two crew members. The psychological impact of seeing the remains of his rear gunner F/Sgt George Irving Herbert Dunbar R108858, age 22 years, had an instant impact on Jack. The 20 mm cannon shells from the German fighter had destroyed the rear gun positon, and the entire gunner cockpit was covered in blood, bone, and brain tissue as his rear gunner had been decapitated. Jack was now overcome with a fear of making a mistake, killing more of his crew, and mostly the fact he would never survive his tour of 30 operations. Jack was taken off combat operations, assigned two new crew members, and began training flights with his new aircrew, navigator F/O G.J.M. Harvey, F/Engineer [RAF] Sgt. E.S. Mulholland, and rear gunner F/Sgt. K.N. Doe, who had been his original mid-upper gunner. They flew together on 1st operation Halifax DT629 “V” on 30 April/1 May 1943, 4th operation for original four crew members.

On 1 May 1943, Sgt. McIntosh was instructed to report to the Commanding Officer W/C Mervin Fleming, where he had a long talk with both his C.O. and the squadron padre. His feelings about the war, life and dead in real combat operations were questioned by both officers. After the talk, the C.O. informed Jack a new Halifax bomber was coming from the factory and he could take this bomber as his own if he wished. Jack made a point to get a ride over to meet the young British female ferry pilot, and could still recall how upset she was to see him. This lady would not look him in the eyes, and refused to talk with him, she did not want to meet any operational pilots as she knew he would be dead in a few weeks. Once again the harsh realities of war casualties during combat operations were confronted by twenty-year-old pilot Jack McIntosh. On 6 May 43, Halifax serial JD114 was ready for her first test flight by the crew of Sgt. McIntosh, assigned the squadron code letters VR and her initial call sign “O for Orange.” After the completion of four operations the aircrew decided to give their bomber a name and nose art painting. Jack was asked to pick the aircraft name and he selected his home town in Alberta, Canada, Medicine Hat. Aircrew photo taken 6 July 1943, McIntosh collection.

The nose art painting of Walt Disney’s Goofy picking bombs from a hat and dropping them on Germany was painted by P/O Ley Kenyon. The painting was completed in one day and first flew on operation number seven, 21/22 June 1943, when fifty-seven RCAF bombers struck Krefeld, Germany, and eight were shot down.  Operations flown by Jack McIntosh aircrew marked in yellow.

During the last three operations Jack and his aircrew experienced an increase in tension and stress, but nothing like some historians have described. Jack McIntosh – “The name and nose art made it feel she was ‘our’ aircraft and would always bring us home.” That was the psychological power of WWII nose art, which is impossible to understand by most of today’s generation of modern jet pilot’s. The navigator and flight engineer required three more operations to hit thirty trips. This was operation number 31 for P/O McIntosh and his Halifax JD114 had completed 32 operations by 28 September 1943.

I ask Jack for the operation which stood out the most and he replied it was number nineteen, bombing the secret German A/4 rocket testing base at Peenemunde, Germany.

The RCAF despatched sixty-two Halifax and Lancaster aircraft and forty-seven hit the primary target, twelve were shot down.

No. 419 Squadron despatched the most RCAF Halifax aircraft with seventeen hitting the primary target and three failed to return.

1          JB965              21:07 hrs.

2          JD210              21:10 Hrs.       nose art Happy Valley Sally.

3          JD114              21:13 hrs.       nose art Medicine Hat [Flying 20st Operation].

4          BB376             21:15 hrs.

5          JD382              21:18 hrs.

6          JD270              21:20 hrs.       nose art Popeye.

7          JD325              21:22 hrs.

8          JD163              21:25 hrs.       “N” Sgt. Patterson, ditched in sea, no trace found.

9          JD158              21:27 hrs        Three-Headed Dragon “D” F/Sgt. Heard, shot down.

10        JD459              21:29 hrs.

11        JD204              21:31 hrs.

12        JD420              21:35 hrs.

13        JD457              21:36 hrs.

14        DT734             21:37 hrs.

15        JB929              21:39 hrs.

16        JD458              21:40 hrs.       “C” F/Sgt. Perkin, Australian, shot down.

17        JD456              21:41 hrs.

This 18”by 24” painting was completed on original aircraft skin from Fleet Fawn 7C, constructed in 1938, trained pilots at Camp Borden, Ontario, until 1946. The nineteenth operation flown by Jack McIntosh to bomb Peenemunde, Germany, 18 August 1943. JD114 took off at 21:13 hrs [third] and arrived back at base at 05:53 hrs, the last RCAF bomber to return. Medicine Hat was the last RCAF Halifax bomber to bomb the rocket testing site at Peenemunde, Germany. Halifax JD114 went on to set a 419 [Moose] Squadron record of 50 operations.

On 30 September 1943, Medicine Hat had a complete aircraft overhaul and her original four engines were changed. During repainting the Halifax was assigned the code letter “V.”

Goofy failed to return from the 51st operation, no trace found and no known grave for aircrew.

Halifax B. Mk. II Special serial JD210 “Happy-Valley Sally”

Vince Elmer 1988 photo of JD210 taken after operation #14 to Remscheid, Germany, 31 July/1 August 1943. JD210 was constructed by English-Electric in a batch of twenty-one JD198 to JD218, 28 May to 7 June 1943. This new Halifax code VR-S was chosen to fly the 1,000th sortie by No. 419 Squadron on her first combat operation 11/12 June 1943, piloted by P/O R.A.H. Bell. One-hundred and one RCAF bombers were despatched to bomb Dusseldorf, Germany, and eight struck the primary target, seven were shot down.

On the 18 June 1943, JD210 was assigned to the aircrew of F/Lt. A. N. Quaile, and they would fly ‘their’ Halifax for a total of seventeen operations until the end of August 1943. It is assumed they were the aircrew which picked the nose art name and Esquire magazine pin-up girl from May 1943, painted by RAF nose artist Ley Kenyon, in June.

The nose art by Ley Kenyon came from the May 1943 “Varga” pin-up from Esquire magazine.

Vince Elmer image 1988, eighteen operations, around 20 August 1943. The Ice Cream cone was the attack on Milan, Italy, 12/13 Aug. 1943, a “Milk Run” target with very little enemy resistance, plus many Italians operated ice cream stores in England.

16”by 22” replica painted on original Halifax skin from NA337.

The 22nd operation to Berlin was flown by F/Sgt. Marjeren, 31 August and 1 September 1943.

Operation #23 took place 3/4 September 43, to Foret de Raismes, France.

A sprog crew piloted by American F/O James Arthur Studer J14875 were assigned to fly the 24th operation to Mannheim, Germany, 5/6 September 1943. F/O Studer flew his first operation 2nd Dickey with veteran pilot Jack McIntosh on 30/31 August 43, in Halifax “Medicine Hat.”

This would be their third operation, from which they never returned.

F/O James Arthur Studer, age 21 years, born Hennepin County, Excelsior, Minnesota, USA, buried in war cemetery at Durnbach, Germany. One of 6,129 Americans serving in the RCAF, after the Pearl Harbor attack, 1,759 were released and enrolled in the service of the United States. Seven Americans would be killed in action flying Halifax bombers in No. 419 Squadron.

P/O Ley Bennett Kenyon [RAF #112175] flew his 25th Wellington Mk. III rear gunner operation in aircraft X3360 on 13 July 1942. He was now promoted to No. 419 Squadron as gunnery leader, teaching sprog air gunners and flying training “Bulls-eye” operations over Europe. In addition to his gunnery training duties he also taught RCAF aircraft recognition and evasive escape tactics for aircrew who might be shot down. It would appear he had little time to paint aircraft nose art during the months of August, September, and October 1942. On 13 October 1942, he flew rear gunner with his C.O. Wing Commander M. M. Fleming, [X3659] his 26th operation and last in the Wellington Mk. III aircraft. In November 1942, the new Halifax B. Mk. II, series I, “Special” aircraft began to arrive at No. 419 Squadron. Halifax DT689, coded VR-N had the front nose painted by Kenyon for his new C.O. Fleming, in honour of their first C.O. “Moose” Fulton. On 4/5 May 1943, Ley Kenyon flew 2nd gunner in DT689 containing the art of a Moose chasing Hitler. This trip became his 28th operation and the pilot was his C.O. W/C Mervin Fleming. The 29th operation came on 10/11 August 1943, Halifax serial BB376, and now Ley Kenyon required only one more combat trip to complete his tour of duty. Kenyon had actually survived 14 training operations “Bulls-eye” trips, three trips to Berlin, and now he would take off on his 44th operation in Halifax serial LW240, fifty-five bombers attack Modane, France, 16/17 September 1943. On the return trip they were attacked by two German night-fighters as they approached the English Channel. Kenyon shot down one German Me 110 but the other night-fighter set two aircraft engines on fire and the crew had to jump. Ley Kenyon avoided capture, made contact with the French Resistance, who attempted to smuggle him to Spain, but the Gestapo arrested him on a train at Bordeaux, France.

The target 16/17 September 1943, tunnel and marshalling railway yards at Modane, France [A], the area around Lisieux, France, [B] where Halifax VR-S, serial LW240 was shot down. F/Lt/ Ley Kenyon was able to evade the Germans and proceeded south by train attempting to reach the Spanish border. He was arrested by the Gestapo changing trains at Bordeaux, France. He was taken to Stalag Luft III, the POW north camp for RAF escapees, [no Americans] and became involved in the Great Escape. His artistic skills allowed him to forge passes, train tickets and identity papers, plus he also manned the all important air-pump supplying air for the tunnel diggers. His tunnel drawings and history have been published many times in books, videos, documentaries and the 1963 American fantasy WWII Hollywood movie “The Great Escape.”

A wonderful 1944 drawing of F/L Bennett Ley Kenyon by a fellow artist in Stalag Luft III.

In the postwar Kenyon became Britain’s greatest painter of underwater scenes, joined Cousteau in 1951, and spent five months with him on the Calypso. Wrote books illustrated with many of his undersea paintings, artist, author, photographer and underwater film maker, taught Prince Philip to deep sea dive in the Buckingham Palace swimming pool. He painted for himself where ever he went and gave free water color lessons to others, lectured thousands of students using his paintings and under water films. In 1988, while camping in the rough jungle in Malaysia he caught typhus, but survived to return home and organize an art Exhibition. In February 1991, while visiting friends in New Mexico, United States, he collapsed and died.

In 2001, [after twenty-two years’ research] the author published the very first RAF/RCAF nose art book which featured many firsts for Canadians, model builders, historians, and generations who were only educated with American Aircraft Nose Art. The cover of my book was dedicated to WWII pilot Jack McIntosh and his Ley Kenyon painted nose art of Walt Disney’s Goofy, named “Medicine Hat.” In 2002, a two-page story appeared in the Calgary Sun Newspaper by British born journalist friend Peter Smith, and veteran pilot Jack was very, very, proud.

Today our RCAF aircrew from the greatest generation are mostly gone and forgotten by a new age and a new generation of Canadian military male and female jet pilot’s. The old nose art from WWII is lowbrow stuff, and the pin-up girls from 1940’s get occasional complaints from even our present-day RCAF pilots of both sexes’. Art historians, sociologists, and even pop culture researchers are starting to look at past war art for clues to their value in time of conflict and social change. They should be looking at the awful military death toll in war, and the murderess effect it has on civilian populations, women, children, the helpless old and sick. After fifty-five years, I have found nose art did in fact boost WWII military morale, they had little else, and if an aircraft returned time and time again, it became famous and was considered lucky. The young RCAF aircrews of WWII knew the survival odds were heavily stacked against them, and painting nose art gave their aircraft an identity, they hoped might just help bring them back home. Sadly, it only worked for a small few like Jack McIntosh from Calgary, Alberta. The Royal Air Force lost 55,358 personnel during WWII, 8,240 of those were Canadians flying combat operations. No. 6 [RCAF] Group lost 127 Wellington bombers, 149 Lancaster bombers, and 508 Halifax bombers over enemy territory.  For the past fifty-five years the author has attempted to document, repaint, and educate Canadians on our forgotten RCAF nose art paintings, which our Canadian RCAF museum’s refuse to properly define or display.

P/O [later promoted to F/Lt.] Bennett Ley Kenyon was one of seven British born RAF officers posted to No. 419 Squadron RCAF on 3 March 1942. Ley was part of the original squadron roots and for the next eighteen months he served as rear air gunner, flying 29 combat operations, promoted to Canadian squadron gunnery leader, flying 14 operations [Bulls-eye] training fellow gunners, and in addition to flying duties he taught enemy aircraft recognition and enemy evasive tactics if they were shot down over enemy territory. During his busy duties he also found the time to decorate at least twelve No. 419 Squadron bombers with Canadian nose art, which today has been forgotten even by his original RCAF Squadron, training NATO pilots, based at Cold Lake, Alberta. Two of his decorated bombers set 419 Squadron records flying 45 and 50 operations, safely bringing the aircrews back to England.

Dedicated to Ley Kenyon, this is my serious effort to document and preserve on original WWII RCAF aircraft skin, his forgotten “Canadian” No. 419 [Moose] Squadron nose art, where he painted the Mouse before the Moose.

Alouette – Halifax Mk. III “B for Bully Beef” PDF and text versions


Halifax III B for Bully Beef


Research by Clarence Simonsen with contribution by Pierre Lagacé

Bully Beef, also called corned beef in Canada, is a variety of preserved meat made from a fine mixed corned beef and small part of gelatin jelly. It is believed the name comes from the French word “bouilli” [boiled] and possibly the head of a bull depicted on the British Hereford brand of canned corned beef.

Bully Beef and hardtack biscuits were the main mix of British Army and RAF field rations during WWI and WWII. These canned tins had a very distinctive oblong shape and were opened with an attached key, manufactured in the U.K., France, Brazil, and Uruguay [Fray Bentos]. They were still used in British Armed Forces field rations until 2009, and the British loved their Corned Beef Hash mix, still do.

Text version 

Alouette – Halifax Mk. III “B for Bully Beef”

Research by Clarence Simonsen with contribution by Pierre Lagacé

Bully Beef, also called corned beef in Canada, is a variety of preserved meat made from a fine mixed corned beef and small part of gelatin jelly. It is believed the name comes from the French word “bouilli” [boiled] and possibly the head of a bull depicted on the British Hereford brand of canned corned beef.

Bully Beef and hardtack biscuits were the main mix of British Army and RAF field rations during WWI and WWII. These canned tins had a very distinctive oblong shape and were opened with an attached key, manufactured in the U.K., France, Brazil, and Uruguay [Fray Bentos]. They were still used in British Armed Forces field rations until 2009, and the British loved their Corned Beef Hash mix, still do.

No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron was a unique RCAF Bomber Command “French-Canadian” air and ground crew formation.

Group photo taken in September 1944 via Pierre Lagacé

425 Alouette Ground Crews “A” Flight collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

425 Alouette Ground Crews “B” Flight collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

From June to October 1943, they flew tropicalized Vickers Wellington Mk. X aircraft in North Africa in support of the invasion of Sicily and Italy.

Wellington Mk X taking off from Kairouan in Tunisia

Wing Commander William St. Pierre was then in command of 425 Alouette Squadron. In this YouTube video Wing Commander William St. Pierre is seen at 6:00 with Group Captain Dunlap.



Wing Commander William St. Pierre was decorated by General Carl Spaatz with an American DFC.

collection Réal St-Amour via Pierre Lagacé

We see more of Wing Commander William St. Pierre on this YouTube video starting at 26;37.


These next photos were taken in North Africa. They are part of the collection of Roly Leblanc via his son.





More photos of the collection are found here on Pierre Lagacé’s blog Lest We Forget…

Rememberance Week: Off to North Africa

Issued with RAF rations, the meat was always tinned Corned Beef, which was not loved that much by Canadians.

One 425 Squadron RCAF Wellington aircraft [HE522 “B”] was painted with nose art of a Bull Head and was called “Bully-Beef” by all air and ground crews.

I have no photos of KW-B, HE522.  This Wellington flew 39 missions from Kairouan, Tunisia between 25 June 1943 and 05 October 1943.

If there are official “PL” photos, they would probably be between PL-16000 and PL-19000 mixed with photos of all the other Canadian bomber, fighter, transport, etc. squadrons present in England, North Africa, Malta, etc.  The descriptive cards generally give the names of the airmen but not where the photo was taken or the letters of the aircraft.  There are exceptions such as “Blues in the Nite” and “Turtle”.

The squadron returned to England, embarking for the U.K. on 26 October 1943. It arrived 6 November 1943 to No. 61 [RCAF] Base at Dishforth, Yorkshire, where crews began to convert to new Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft.


On 10 December 1943, the unit moved to No. 62 [RCAF] Base at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, and a new Halifax bomber [LW381] arrived on 12 December and was taken on charge, assigned the code letter “B” for Bull or Bully.

Halifax Mk. III, serial LW381 was given the code letters KW-B and nicknamed “Bully-Beef” by the ground and aircrew who flew her.

The simple white outline RCAF nose art featured a large snorting Bull Head, and she was considered to be a very ‘lucky’ aircraft flying 59 operations, from 24/25 February to 2 November 1944. That photo was taken after Op. # sixteen 22/23 May 1944.

First assigned to the aircrew of F/Sgt. M. Bryson on 20 February 1944, they flew her on the first operation on 24/25 February. It is possible this crew picked the Bull Head nose art and the name B for Bully Beef. They flew Halifax LW381 the most operations [fifteen]

February 24/25,

March 6/7, 15/16,

April 21/22, 26/27, 27/28, 30,

May 1/2, 7/8, 9/10, 10/11, 22/23, 27/28,

June 2/3, 6/7.

Other aircrew flew the Halifax once

F/O Taylor J.R. [Op. #3]

F/O Taylor J.R. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/O would later die.

Killed in action

F/O Wilmet R.B. [Op. #5]

P/O Dupuis L.B. [Op. #6]

P/O Dupuis L.B. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/Sgt Thomson R.A. [Op. #8]

P/O Côté J. A. [OP. #18]

P/O Côté J. A. image via Pierre Lagacé

WO2 Vincent V.R. [Op. #20]

F/O Gregson H. H. [Op. #22]

P/O Mauger A.R. [Op. #23]

P/O Haché J. P. D. [Op. #24]

P/O Haché J. P. D. image via Pierre Lagacé

P/O Brooks L. B. [Op. #25]

P/O Brochu L. B. [Op. #26]

P/O Brochu L. B. image via Pierre Lagacé

F/O Jacobs S.H. [Op. #27]

F/O Langlois S.H. [Op. #27]

F/O Langlois S.H. image via Pierre Lagacé

WO R151123 Boyer {Op. #29]

J86106 P/O Taillon A.F. [Op. #30]

J27416 F/O Jacobs [Op. #31].

Assigned to the RCAF aircrew of J27638 F/O N. E. Streight, they flew her fourteen times,

July 15/16, 18, 18/19, 20, 24/25

25/26; F/O N. Streight and crew flying Halifax III LW-381 coded KW-B was attacked by a unidentified single engine enemy aircraft, some strikes were seen.

August 3, 15, 16/17, 18/19;

September 9, 10, 12, and 17.

More single aircrew were now assigned, S/L Phelan [Op. #51, 6 October]

 collection William Phelan via Pierre Lagacé

For more information about Squadron Leader Phelan, click on the link below.


F/O Beaulieu [Op. # 52, 14/15 October]

F/O Séguin [Op. #54, 23 October]

F/O Desmarais [Op. #57, 30 October]

 image via Pierre Lagacé

For more information (in French) on F/O Desmarais, click on the link below.

9 décembre 1944 – Desmarais… et Laurent Dubois

 image via Pierre Lagacé

P/O Corbett [Op. #58, 1 November]

 image via Pierre Lagacé part of Réal St-Amour’s collection

and the very last flight

F/L Hemphill [Op. #59, 2 November 1944].

F/Lt. R. Hemphill had the port inner explode and burst into flames just before the target. The Flt/engineer was able to put out the fire and they returned safely to base on 3 engines.

After repairs the veteran Halifax was transferred to No. 1666 H.C.U. at Wombleton on 12 November 1944.

On 1 December, again it was transferred to No. 1664 H.C.U. at Dishforth, Yorkshire, where she flew training operations until 7 April 1945, when No. 1664 H.C.U. was disbanded. On 20 April 45 it was flown to RAF No. 41 Group, arrived at 45 M.U. for scrapping on 23 April 1945.

Record card “Bulls Head” prepared by RCAF F/L Lindsay in late May 1945, who also took photo Roll 1 print 2.

Lindsay photo Roll 1 Print 2 May 1945

If this nose art was selected for preservation and shipping to Canada, it is not in the War Museum collection today. The bomb total painted is 62, however only 59 operations were recorded in the squadron records. It is possible that three bombs were painted on during her training, for “Bulls-Eye” bombing training operations over Germany late in the war.

This was a true RCAF Halifax bomber veteran that survived 59 operations, plus unknown number of Bulls-eye training flights, and two reported German fighter contacts, 15 July 1944 operation #32 and 25 July 44 operation #36.

RCAF Combat reports follow.

Painting by Clarence Simonsen

Epilogue (contribution by Pierre Lagacé)

31 May 1944

RCAF photo PL29958  image via Pierre Lagacé


Bombs provide a not-too-comfortable seat for the five veterans of the RCAF Alouette squadron pictured ABOVE. They are all armourers and all have been with the famed RCAF Bomber Group unit since its formation. Shown are (left to right) LAC Maurice Déry, 24 St. Patrick St., Quebec City; Cpl. G.J. Pitre, 148 St. Patrick St., Ottawa; LAC P. B. Giguère, Valley Junction, P.2.; Sgt. H. W. Barnes, 30 Walker St., Wrightville, P.Q.; Cpl. J.A.F. Geraghty, 76 Sudbury Ave. Quebec City.

Note on PL-29958,

That photo was taken about 31 May 1944, just east of the 425 shed on the north-west side of Tholthorpe, with the firing range visible in the background looking north.  What appears to be snow on the roof of this structure is sand in front of a cement wall (to stop bullets).

The Halifax on one of the 425’s hardstands is KW-B (Bull), LW381. 21 bombs for 21 sorties are painted on the fuselage.  It survived 61 missions with the 425 between 24 February 1944 and 02 November 1944. In order to better identify the 5 armourers in photo PL-29958, here is the first name(s) of each one and their serial number.

LAC Maurice Déry, R/55196

Cpl. G.J. Pitre = Cpl. J. Georges Pitre, R/53571

LAC P. B. Giguère = LAC P. Bruno Giguère, R/155087

Sgt.  H. W. Barnes = Sgt. Harry William Barnes, R/54057

Cpl. J.A.F. Geraghty = Cpl. J.A. Fred Geraghty, R/55137

About the nose art of KW-B


Newspaper clippings provided by a reader who commented on my blog dedicated to RCAF 425 Alouette Squadron

 image via Pierre Lagacé



One year overseas

Flying Corporal GEORGES PITRE, of Ottawa, 148 St. Patricks, is one year overseas today. He arrived overseas on February 23, 1942.

Le Droit d’Ottawa 17 juillet 1944

They probably have a lot to talk about, as they both come from the mining town of Sudbury, in Northern Ontario. On the left a C.A.R.C. correspondent, Sergeant Maurice LACOURCIERE, 10 East Elm Street, interviews his old friend Aurèle RICARD, 159 King Street, Sudbury, Ont. (C.A.R.C. Photo)

The three armourers pictured above appear to be pondering for a moment the destructive power of the bombs they are about to hang from the belly of the Halifax bomber in the background. But their death mission, they know very well, has been imposed on them by the megalomaniac in Berlin. It is up to Hitler and his accomplices to stop the avenging arm of the Allied power; it is unconditional surrender. These veterans of the famous “Alouette” squadron are, from left to right: Senior Airman Maurice DERY, 24 St-Patrice St., Quebec; Corporal J.-G. PITRE, 148 St-Patrice St., Ottawa; Sergeant H. Wagner, 24 St-Patrice Ave. Ottawa; Sergeant H. W. BARNES, 30 Walker Street, Wright City. 30. Walker Street, Wright City, Que.

(Photo R.C.A.F.)

Note: Wrightville is part of Hull, now Gatineau. Maurice Lacourcière, war correspondent, became a judge later in life.


Two sons of Mrs. Lausianna Pitre, of 414 St.atrice Street, are members of the C.A.R.C. On the left, Corporal GEORGES PITRE, 30 years old, enlisted since 1939, has been overseas for the past three years: he has been in Sicily and North Africa, and is now with the “Alouettes” squadron. An employee of Continental Paper, he was a popular softball player for the Continental club. Chief Airman ROGER PITRE, 26, enlisted in the air force in 1941 and was stationed in Newfoundland for two years. He has been in Iceland for a few months.



Corporal GEORGES PITRE. of the RCAF, 148 Clarence Street, arrived last night in a group of 300 repatriated airmen who disembarked about midnight at Union Station. He is the son of Mrs. Widow Laudiana Pitre, and has served three and a half years overseas. He belongs to the French-Canadian Alouette squadron.

Final note by Pierre Lagacé

Are there photos of KW-B? A reader sent me this note after I had asked him for some.

No, I have no photos of KW-B, HE522.  This Wellington flew 39 missions from Kairouan, Tunisia between 25 June 1943 and 5 October 1943.  If there are official “PL” photos, they would probably be between PL-16000 and PL-19000 mixed with photos of all the other Canadian bomber, fighter, transport, etc. squadrons present in England, North Africa, Malta, etc.  The descriptive cards generally give the names of the airmen but not where the photo was taken or the letters of the aircraft.  There are exceptions such as “Blues in the Nite” and “Turtle”.




Canada’s “Thunder-Gander” PDF and text version

Canada’s “Thunder-Gander” PDF and text version

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Canada’s Thunder-Gander


Robert B. Cornelius Noorduyn was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1893, and after receiving his formal education began his aviation career in Germany and England.

In 1926, he made his first trip to Canada, selling Fokker aircraft to the Canadian Government and Mr. James A. Richardson, the ‘father’ of Canada’s earliest airlines. [Richardson would be destroyed by the Canadian Government and dirty politics]

Noorduyn soon realized Canada was a virgin playing field filled with huge possibilities for air transport in the far frozen north. In 1933, Robert began on and off designs of a new ski/float-equipped aircraft, which could operate in the Canadian intense cold winter climate.

In 1934, he rented an office on the top floor of the Canada Cement Building on Philips Square in Montreal, Canada, where a full sized mock-up in wood was created.  His new concept was based on many years of experience with the design work on the Fokker Universal and Bellanca Skyrocket aircraft.

This in depth history can be found online and in many excellent published books. Noorduyn stated – “his new design, would have to be tough as a rhino, and water adaptable as a duck.”

Text version with images.

Canada’s “Thunder-Gander”


Robert B. Cornelius Noorduyn was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1893, and after receiving his formal education began his aviation career in Germany and England.

In 1926, he made his first trip to Canada, selling Fokker aircraft to the Canadian Government and Mr. James A. Richardson, the ‘father’ of Canada’s earliest airlines. [Richardson would be destroyed by the Canadian Government and dirty politics]

Noorduyn soon realized Canada was a virgin playing field filled with huge possibilities for air transport in the far frozen north. In 1933, Robert began on and off designs of a new ski/float-equipped aircraft, which could operate in the Canadian intense cold winter climate.

In 1934, he rented an office on the top floor of the Canada Cement Building on Philips Square in Montreal, Canada, where a full sized mock-up in wood was created.  His new concept was based on many years of experience with the design work on the Fokker Universal and Bellanca Skyrocket aircraft.

This in depth history can be found online and in many excellent published books. Noorduyn stated – “his new design, would have to be tough as a rhino, and water adaptable as a duck.”

In 1942, Robert Noorduyn was interviewed by a Montreal reporter Mr. Lawrence Earl, and one page is worth reading for Canadian Aviation history sake.

The 29th built Norseman Mk. IV #2456 was used for world-wide publication.

The 94th constructed Norseman Mk. IV aircraft was taken on strength by the RCAF on 9 September 1942, given the serial #494.

Photo Tony Jarvis – Edmonton

First assigned to No. 3 Training Command [Montreal, Quebec] it remained in storage until 8 January 1943, transferred to No. 1 O.T.U. [Operational training Unit] at RCAF Station Bagotville, Quebec, where the above photo was taken. On 8 November 1944, the aircraft was returned to reserve storage at Eastern Air Command, Montreal. On 18 October 1945, the Norseman was flown to RCAF Station Mount Pleasant, Prince Edward Island, and placed into long term storage. On 1 August 1946, the aircraft was taken off strength by the RCAF and transferred to War Assets for disposal. On 5 May 1947, Norseman 494 was sold to Associated Airways at Edmonton, Alberta, for one dollar, and registered as CF-EIH. It was re-sold to McDonald Aviation Company in Edmonton on 29 May 1947, and passed its Certificate of Airworthiness on 8 August 1947. Flown by Charter Airways Ltd of Yellowknife, N.W.T., the aircraft crashed at Allen Lake on the Cameron River, 25 August 1947. Damaged beyond repair CF-EIH remained on the shore line for the next 46 years, and most of the original parts and wing sections were removed by first nation people who put them to a new use. In 1993, the remains of the aircraft were recovered by members of the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, and slowly missing parts were located and restoration began.  The full history can be found in the archives of the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Cover from Alberta Aviation Museum Journal magazine 1998. – Tony Jarvis.

A well-known Alberta businessman, Mr. Sandy Mactaggart, and his U.K. based family donated $25,000 towards the restoration of CF-EIH and many missing parts were donated by Joe McBryan owner of Buffalo Airways, [“Ice Pilots”] fame]. After over 8,000 volunteer hours of labor the restored aircraft was unveiled on 18 April 1998, and dedicated to volunteer Chuck MacLaren.

Pilot Tony Jarvis [left] and author in front of “Thunder-Chicken” CF-EIH, 2013.

During the restoration of CF-EIH the remains of the original RCAF Norseman skins were not saved but thrown in the garbage. Pilot Tony Jarvis called the author and ask if I wanted them for my paintings and the answer was – Yes, Yes, please, Yes. I fully understood those were the original skins placed on the Norseman aircraft in Montreal, mid-August 1942, and not only flew the next three years with the RCAF, they also survived 46 years in the ice-cold waters of Allen Lake, N.W.T. That was just the type of original historical aircraft canvas I wanted for preserving my aviation paintings.

In 2010, the author retired and headed south to Mexico City, the birth place of my wife and where I had lived three or four weeks every year since 1990. The next four years would be spent living at many different locations where new relatives resided, both rich and poor. Two full years were spent a four-hour drive north of Mexico City, called San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato. It has a small lake and a tiny beach, but it is truly a gem of the art world, and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is best known as – “A Community of Artists” and it is a most special place which is still hidden from other tourist sites. Please Google the name and read, it is all true, and a hard place to leave, but always good memories.

It is impossible to describe and must be seen and enjoyed just once in your life, the streets are lined with mural art. The large main museum has every type of Mexican art in one huge street-like ex-factory complex, plus excellent food and drink.

My art room was bedroom size, where I painted four to six hours everyday and mixed Mexican true aviation with original Aztec and Maya history, which I had seen in person.


Mexican main building material is cement and stone of all shape, size, and colour. For the first time in my life, I was introduced to painting replica Maya art on original rock that dates back to ancient America, and you can really become immersed in all this skilled artistic past history. The above rock art was painted for a special day I experienced on 21 December 2012, the end of the Maya calendar known as the long count. This replica was the scene painted on the 14th century A.D. Codex which survives today in Dresden, Germany, [also survived WWII allied bombing] depicting the Maya sun and moon gods with a catastrophic flood. The Maya Long Count odometer turns over every 5,125.37 years, which was 21 December 2012, and there I stood with hundreds of Mexicans at the base of an ancient site and waited for the Apocalypse. Many Mexicans believed the end of the world was coming, with food offerings and prayers to their ancient gods. Nothing happened, the Gods were happy, no flood, so I went back to painting aircraft nose art.  We can all thank our Christian Gods for not naming an exact date of death and only stating in their Bible, the end will come on Judgement day. During my four years in Mexico, I had also transported soft aircraft skins taken from Noorduyn Norseman RCAF #494, for future aviation paintings.

This RCAF Tactical Helicopter war art was painted for the aviation component who were fighting in Afghanistan, original skin from Norseman #494, painted at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and later presented to 1 Wing Headquarters, Kingston, Ontario, 16 December 2013.

The Canadian/Dutch Noorduyn Norseman is often called the “Thunder-Chicken” and will always be connected with two aviation accidents because of the famous personalities killed. Major Glen Miller, Director of the USAAF band, boarded a UC-64A Norseman in England on 15 December 1944, but never arrived in Paris.

On 20 May 1948, top-scoring RCAF fighter pilot ace George F. Beurling was ferrying a Norseman to Israel, when it caught fire over Rome, and he died in the fiery crash landing.

On 20 December 2012, I sent an email to Mr. Dennis M. Spragg, Senior Consultant, Glenn Miller Archive, American Music and Research Center, University of Colorado Boulder

Mr. Spragg had just finalized a comprehensive study on all aspects of the circumstances surrounding the Major Glenn Miller Norseman crash 15 December 1944, including over 5,000 pages of documents and first-hand reports. The research would soon be published in his book titled “Resolved.” I was not sure Mr. Spragg would even answer my email, [from Mexico] however he not only answered, he shared his research, answered all my questions, and gave in-depth advice on the correct painting of the Glenn Miller aircraft, Norseman USAAF serial 44-70285.

My painting began [2 January 2013] with a basic outline of the famous U.S.A.A.F. UC-64A type Norseman aircraft on original skin from RCAF Norseman serial #494. Photos were taken and submitted online to Dennis Spragg, who in turn replied with corrections and pages from his relevant documents and photograph base.

No complete aircraft photos of 44-70285 are known to exist, and many paintings have been completed showing different Glenn Miller Norseman markings. My interpretation would be based on the intense research conducted by Mr. Dennis Spragg and the Glenn Miller Archives at Boulder, University of Colorado, and Mr. Alan Cass. The Glenn Miller Norseman aircraft 44-70285 was the 550th aircraft constructed at Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in early July 1944.


Departure RAF Twinwood Farm at 1:55 pm, 15 December 1944.


The flight was charted over Beachy Head, England, via the normal American transport flight path. It did not reappear over Fecamp, France, [between 57 and 58 on map] on the other side of the English Channel, the standard route for American transport aircraft flight.

Photo sent by Dennis M. Spragg, showing Alconbury ground crew S/Sgt. Arthur Nanas posing with right foot on left wheel strut of Norseman #44-70285. Nanas testified the Norseman had maintenance repair on 12 December 1944, due to carburetor de-icing equipment malfunction, which was common in the UC-64A Norseman. The Board of Inquiry took this documented maintenance information into account when determining possible causes of the 15 December 1944 accident.

Painting completed in Mexico on 22 January 2013.

Original skin from Norseman RCAF #494

The author painting was based on the recorded known facts combined with the relevant documents and investigation conducted by Mr. Dennis M. Spragg, Glenn Miller Archives, American Music Research Center, University of Colorado Boulder, USA. The painting was mailed to Mr. Spragg in April 2013 and passed on to Mr. Alan Cass, Glenn Miller Archives.


Due to the fact this Canadian art was painted on original skin from RCAF Norseman #949, the Noorduyn Aviation Insignia and #94 [construction number] were included in the painting. An original strip of skin from Norseman #949 was also sent to the Glenn Miller Archives in an attempt to determine how many years the original skin of Norseman 44-70285 might survive in the English Channel.  RCAF Norseman #494 spent 46 years in fresh water at Allen Lake, [N.W.T.] Northwest Territories, Canada. The author’s surviving original #494 silver painted skin looked and felt like new material.


The RCAF was very slow to order their first Norseman aircraft, which had been offered to the Canadian Government in 1937, by Noorduyn himself, as a Canadian advanced trainer. Canadian officials still looked to Britain for building cheaper obsolete aircraft, and shipping British manufactured engines across the ocean, due to the simple fact Canadian’s could not manufacture top quality aircraft engines. The first major RCAF contracts came in May 1940, when 47 Mk. IV Norseman were ordered for navigational trainers. In total 759 Norseman were constructed for the USAAF and 79 for the RCAF. After fifty years of searching for a few good nose art examples that were painted on the famous Canadian [Thunder-Chicken] Norseman, I can still only find one, and it appeared in the RCAF at Gander, Newfoundland, which was not even part of Canada. I call this special forgotten simple “Canada Goose” Norseman aircraft nose art, “The Thunder Gander.”

The years between the two World Wars saw a great deal of turmoil in the Dominion of Newfoundland, which saw it revert back to the status of a British Crown colony. The “Rock” had become the Dominion of Newfoundland on 26 September 1907, but staggering under horrendous debt, they gave-up on self-governing and selected British rule by an appointed Commission of Government, with three members from Newfoundland and three from United Kingdom. In 1935, the Newfoundland airport originated in a signed agreement between Canada, United Kingdom, the free state of Ireland, and Newfoundland. In 1936, construction of the airbase commenced beside Gander Lake, and adjacent to the Newfoundland Railway line, which was very important for building supplies, etc. When the British Government declared war on Germany, 3 September 1939, Newfoundland was a British colony and this automatically brought Newfoundland into a state of war against Germany, seven days before the Canadian government declared war. With the United Kingdom struggling for survival and unable to find the resources to defend an invasion of Newfoundland, [Labrador] who had no money for any defence, negotiations for Canadian protection began. In May 1940, the Newfoundland airport was the largest in the world and with the fall of France, the defence of Newfoundland became even more precarious. As soon as an agreement for protection from Canada was signed by the Government of Newfoundland, the Newfoundland airport was placed under control of the RCAF and Canadian Department of Transport personnel. The RCAF moved in on 5 May 1941, Commanding Officer Group/Capt. A. Lewis, while most of the buildings were still under construction at RCAF Station, Newfoundland Airport. On 1 November 1941, the name in the Daily Diary becomes RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland. On 1 December, the first edition of the station magazine is published, title – The “Gander” RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland.


The first RCAF Gander base aircraft, a D.H. Fox Moth arrives on 17 December, given RCAF Instructional Airframe #A135.

The second edition Vol. 1, #2, arrives in early January 1942, complete with impressive cover art of a flying Goose by squadron artist Sgt. R.G. Falconer.


The back cover contains a single drawing of a Canada Goose, wearing a pilot helmet, and saluting with his right wing. This art by Sgt. Falconer becomes an instant hit with all members, and the RCAF Gander will now become the mascot, badge, insignia, trademark, and even rare aircraft nose art at RCAF Gander, Newfoundland.

Crest Craft in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, manufactured a number of different “Gander” crests which were worn by RCAF members from Canada and Newfoundland with pride.

The next Crest Craft design was created for the Gander Signals Section, a rare “Ganderia Wogosid” wireless bird.

In July 1934, Imperial Airways of London, England, purchased two D.H. 83 aircraft equipped with floats, for operation in the Newfoundland Government Air Service. In August 1934, they were registered as VO-ABC [#4093] and VO-ADE [#4094]. While anchored during a windstorm, 25 September 1934, both aircraft were damaged by a log boom and VO-ABC could not be repaired. VO-ADE was salvaged and required extensive repairs before returning to service. On 11 January 1938, VO-ADE made the first inauguration flight into the new Newfoundland Airport, and this history can be found online.

This free domain image dated 12 January 1938, records the special aviation moment, and the special markings on D.H. Fox Moth VO-ADE. The special orange markings on the Fox Moth can be found online in model sites and other fine publications. This aircraft made the last official Newfoundland Government Air Service flight from St. John’s to Gander on 24 February 1941, and was then turned over to RAF Ferry Command. On 17 December 1941, the Fox Moth was taken on strength at RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, and used as an Instructional Airframe, given RCAF # A135. At some unknown date the aircraft was painted RCAF yellow and received the famous nose art of the Newfoundland Gander.

The author believes these were the possible RCAF colours applied to A135, but photos are very hard to find. In 1944, F/O Horace William “Jimmy” Westaway C10734, RCAF Gander Mercy Flight pilot, had his photo taken in front of Fox Moth A135. This image was found in the Daily Diary and is very bad quality, however it confirms the unofficial “Gander” nose art did in fact appear on the famous Fox Moth airframe. The correct colours of the aircraft striping are unknown. This trainer aircraft did not require any RCAF code letters of national markings, only the A135 which most likely appeared on the tail fin. Any RCAF images of this aircraft would be appreciated by the author. The RCAF Fox Moth was damaged beyond repair at Gander Bay on 22 February 1944, struck off strength by Government of Newfoundland on 24 October 1945.

The first Norseman #2479 to arrive at RCAF Gander was the 52nd built, assigned to No. 12 Squadron, Rockcliffe and Search and Rescue Command on 9 March 1942. Taken on strength Gander in mid-July 1942, crashed at Ochre Pit Cove, [near St. John’s] Newfoundland, 21 August 1942.



Norseman #3527, the 71st built was assigned to No. 3 Training Command 14 September 1942, placed into reserve storage, arrived RCAF Gander in early April 1943. Flew Newfoundland training and mercy flights the next five months. On 19 September 43, transferred to E.A.C. and assigned No. 121 “C” Squadron. Flew in Western Canada [Alberta] until 12 June 1947. Destroyed in No. 1 Hangar fire at Edmonton, Alberta. [#2485 was also destroyed in fire].

On 7 October 1942, two D.H. 82C Tiger Moth aircraft with floats were taken on strength at RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, used for rescue work. It is unknown if these different aircraft, Norseman #2479, Lysander #447, and Tiger Moth float planes #9693 and #9695 ever carried RCAF Gander nose art. [Needs research]

RCAF #491, the 91st constructed Norseman, 9 September 42, arrived Eastern Air Command on 7 November 42, to RCAF Gander April 1943. Category “A” accident at Torbay, Newfoundland, 26 October 1944. The author believes this Norseman possibly carried the first unofficial RCAF Gander nose art, however photos are required for proof.

The fourth and last Norseman assigned RCAF Gander on 13 August 1943, the 138th built, serial RCAF #789. Constructed for the USAAF the aircraft was Lend-Least to the RCAF for Air-Sea rescue missions.


Photo – Gander RCAF magazine Summer 1945

Constructed for the USAAF as 43-5147, delivered 10 June 1943, and then lend-lease to the RCAF, receiving serial #789, arrived RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, August 1943. RCAF pilot F/O “Jimmy” Westaway was posted to RCAF Gander on 13 June 1943, and this became his main “Mercy” flight sea/rescue aircraft.

Norseman RCAF #789 was painted with impressive “Gander” nose art.

The main pilot for “Mercy” flights was Officer-Commanding RCAF Air-Sea rescue at Gander, Flying Officer “Jimmy” Westaway. The second pilot was F/O Labreche, and the mechanic, who flew on all missions was Cpl. Upton, [above] with nose art on Norseman #789. The 6 September 1944, rescue flight was published in RCAF Wings magazine September the same year, with F/O Westaway standing beside “Gander” nose art on trainer RCAF Fox Moth #A135.


The RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, continued to be used in Victory Loan drive art and even the Officer’s Christmas Menu for 1945.



The RCAF Gander insignia appeared on the rear cover of the Gander magazine on the last issue published in June 1945. The USAAF side of the base even copied and used the same insignia on two humorous certificates [Master Fog Eater] issued for time posted in Newfoundland.


The little Canadian nose art lady “Sierra Sue” landed at Gander on her return to Canada from England. RCAF Lancaster Mk. X serial KB746, VR-S [for Sue] flew the fourth most trips of all Canadian built Lancaster’s, surviving 68 operations. Above photos taken at Pearce, Alberta, September 1945, where “Sue” was scrapped two years later.


In the summer of 1945, [August] RCAF Gander demobilized while the airport remained an important commercial transport landing base. As the years passed, the WWII RCAF Gander was slowly forgotten and just disappeared. The military returned in 1957, however a Gander did not reappear until 1 April 1993, the date CFB Gander was renamed 9 Wing Gander with an official flying Goose insignia and badge. RCAF history had repeated itself with a design close to the original that was created in December 1941, for a foreign country, Newfoundland.

The Flying Gander created by RCAF artist Sgt. R.G. Falconer in December 1941, [when Newfoundland was a British Colony] once again flies with 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. On 1 April 1924, the prefix “Royal” was officially adopted to the Canadian Air Force, and 1 April 2024 marks their 100th Birthday. The original Gander insignia is eighty-three years old.

Author replica “Gander” painting on original Norseman aircraft skin from RCAF #494, aircraft preserved today at Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, Alberta. Will the WWII “Thunder Gander” even fly over Newfoundland again?  How about April 2024, the 100th Anniversary of the RCAF, over to you “Mother Goose” [Lt. Colonel Lydia Evequoz] C.O. of 9 Wing Gander Newfoundland, Canada. This nose art flew with the first RCAF sea/rescue flight at Gander, Newfoundland, 1942-45.

Remembering Unsung Heroes – Flight Lieutenant Gordon McNab Templeton (J88506) DFC

Updated 17 February 2022 with the source of the citation.

Remembering Unsung Heroes?

This is one of them.

Source: airforce.ca website

TEMPLETON, F/L Gordon McNab (J88506)

– Distinguished Flying Cross – No.186 Squadron

– Award effective 5 July 1945 as per London Gazette dated 17 July 1945 and AFRO 1558/45 dated 5 October 1945.

Born 11 November 1921, Montreal; home there.

Insurance clerk.

Enlisted in Montreal, 24 April 1942;

to No.5 Manning Depot, 24 May 1942.

To No.5 Equipment Depot, 3 July 1942.

To No.3 ITS, 29 August 1942; graduated and promoted LAC, 24 October 1942 but not posted to No.11 EFTS until 21 November 1942;

may have graduated 15 January 1943 but not posted to No.13 SFTS until 23 January 1943;

graduated and promoted Sergeant, 14 May 1943.

To No.1 GRS, 28 May 1943.

To “Y” Depot, 23 October 1943.

Taken on strength of No.3 PRC, 31 October 1943.

Commissioned 11 July 1944.

Promoted Flying Officer, 24 December 1944.

Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 28 December 1944.

Repatriated 8 April 1945.

To No.13 EFTS, 19 May 1945.

To No.1 SFTS, 15 September 1945.

To No.2 Release Centre, 18 October 1945.

Retired 23 October 1945.

Award presented in Montreal, 25 November 1949.

No citation other than “in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations against the enemy”.

Public Records Office Air 2/9082 has recommendation dated 20 March 1945 when he had flown 35 sorties (177 hours 38 minutes), 18 October 1944 to 5 March 1945. * denotes daylight mission

18 October 1944 – Bonn (5.03)

* 20 October 1944 – Stuttgart (6.12)

22 October 1944 – Neuss (4.27)

* 23 October 1944 – Essen (5.25)

25 October 1944 – Essen (4.18)

* 28 October 1944 – Cologne (4.41)

* 30 October 1944 – Wesselring (4.50)

* 31 October 1944 – Welhein (5.03)

* 15 November 1944 – Dortmund (4.42)

* 16 November 1944 – Heinsburg (4.41)

* 20 November 1944 – Homberg (4.44)

* 21 November 1944 – Homberg (4.24)

* 23 November 1944 – Gelsenkirchen (3.56)

* 26 November 1944 – Fulda (5.53)

* 29 November 1944 – Neuss (4.54)

2 December 1944 – Dortmund (3.57)

* 5 December 1944 – Schwannenauel (4.09

* 8 December 1944 – Duisburg (4.20)

* 12 December 1944 – Witten (4.31)

* 15 December 1944 – Seigen (3.08)

* 28 December 1944 – Cologne (4.05)

* 31 December 1944 – Vohwinkel (5.06)

* 2 January 1945 – Nuremburg (7.15)

6 January 1945 – Neuss (5.09)

7 January 1945 – Munich (7.43)

11 January 1945 – Krefeld (5.28)

* 15 January 1945 – Erkenschwick (5.05)

* 22 January 1945 – Duisburg (4.45)

9 February 1945 – Hohenbodberg (4.39)

13 February 1945 – Dresden (9.03)

27 February 1945 – Gelsenkirchen (5.19)

* 28 February 1945 – Gelsenkirchen (4.47)

* 2 March 1945 – Cologne (5.26)

* 4 March 1945 – Wanne Eickel (4.52)

* 5 March 45 – Gelsenkirchen (5.38)

* This officer has completed many operations against heavily defended German targets in Germany. As captain and pilot he has flown both by day and by night and has always shown fine captaincy. Photographs of the target on some of his sorties have been outstanding and prove that every effort has been made to hit the aiming point, regardless of heavy flak.

NOTE: The Station Commander adds, on 22 March 1945, his rather illuminating comments: An officer whose highly-strung temperament have him a very real appreciation of danger but who, with great courage, coolness and determination completed every mission in a most efficient manner.

End of the citation

To be continued on Lest We Forget II then on a new blog.

Found on YouTube – Trouvé sur YouTube

Found by my friend Jim Christie

Source: Library and Archives Canada. Peter McQuaid fonds, 1969-0055, IDC 328755.

Scenes shot in North Africa. 420 and 425 squadrons were stationed at Kairouan in Tunisia. At 6:00 we see in the back Wing Commander Joe St. Pierre DFC (American).

About Bergen-Belsen

In April 1945, when the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was surrendered and handed over to the British Army, Canadian forces arrived on scene to provide support, to bear witness, and to document the crimes. They were overwhelmed, understaffed, and left without adequate supplies, equipment, and medicine. Their encounters at the camp were haunting, transformative experiences that forever changed their lives.

In Kingdom of Night, Mark Celinscak reveals the engagement of Canadian troops and other personnel at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The book brings together a series of gripping, often deeply moving accounts that demonstrate the critical relief work carried out by Canadians who have been largely overlooked for more than seventy-five years. It outlines in both stark and moving detail what a cross-section of Canadians both said and did during the liberation efforts at one of the most notorious sites in Hitler’s camp system.

In addition, biographical overviews are presented for each Canadian featured in the book, not only highlighting some of their life-saving and humanitarian work, but also revealing what ultimately became of their lives after the war. Kingdom of Night depicts the gruelling efforts by those who assisted the victims of one of the greatest crimes in history.


Mark Celinscak is the Louis and Frances Blumkin Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Executive Director of the Sam and Frances Fried Holocaust and Genocide Academy at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


Source of the above: https://utorontopress.com/9781487532581/kingdom-of-night/



I am a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, a horrifying site of abuse, neglect, and death. This book collects eyewitness testimony by our Canadian liberators. When British and Canadian forces first entered the camp in
April 1945, they could not fully understand what they were witnessing.

Near the end of the war, Bergen-Belsen had become terribly overcrowded as prisoners were arriving from other locations across Europe. Josef Kramer, the former commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau, oversaw this horrific camp. There was hardly any food or water. Every morning we awoke to see more dead bodies in our barracks. The crematorium was working all the time, but it was not enough. At one point I was tasked with dragging and pulling the corpses into ditches and pits. I remember that we had to take off our belts, put them around the necks of the dead bodies, and pull them into the pits. These are scenes that you cannot adequately describe.

Passing through the gates of Bergen-Belsen was as though life and time were suspended. We thought that it was the end of everything. I was fortunate that I did not get sick and was able to walk around and survive. There are some things that you cannot even remember what happened or how you managed to deal with these problems. A few days before our liberation we could sense that something was coming to an end. The night before our liberation we heard the big cannons and the bombs in the distance. We knew something had happened. We thought our liberators might soon arrive.

I remember the moment when I saw the first British tank coming into Bergen-Belsen. Soldiers were standing on top of it. They were looking around and they did not know where they were or what was happening. The camp was situated in a forest, very deep in the Lüneburger Heide, which is a large woodland area in northern Germany. Our liberators looked at us in shock.

For many of us, thin, weak, and dishevelled, we did not celebrate or smile at our liberation. Many of us were crying. We had already lost so much. Any joy or celebration came later. Liberation was beyond our imagination, and I suppose we simply could not believe what was happening. A day before, we did not think that we would survive or be alive for another day. We must not forget that at the moment of our liberation, at the same hour when British and Canadian forces occupied Bergen-Belsen, people continued to die. Death was all around us even after liberation.

The first personnel who came into the camp were medics. They did not know what they were facing and were not fully prepared. There was no medication. They gave us the wrong food. They were not equipped to do anything. At that point, I believe there were about sixty thousand men and women in the camp. At the same time, there were pits and ditches with thousands of people in mass graves. Our recovery came slowly, and many people did not make it.

After liberation, some of us were transferred over to the German military complex next to the camp. Bergen-Belsen was in such a terrible state that there was a danger of a typhus epidemic. The British decided to evacuate everybody as soon as possible – and burned down many barracks – because it was too dangerous.

After the war I remained in the German military complex until the end of 1949. I stayed in the displaced persons camp where I had a job at the Jewish Agency, where we were mainly busy with educating and preparing people to go to Palestine, which after 1948 became the State of Israel. In 1950 I immigrated to Israel with my wife, whom I had met in Bergen-Belsen. After several years in Israel, I eventually immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto with my wife and two children.

This book collects the accounts of Canadian liberators and relief personnel. While their hardships were nothing compared to our own, it is important to recognize the challenges they faced in helping us try to survive in the aftermath. These stories will help us remember the terrible crimes that were committed against the Jewish people and many other victims. Let us never allow such crimes to ever occur again.

Joseph Podemski, 1922-2021

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


This is a research done by Clarence Simonsen. It was about a Spitfire pilot. This is Part Six of the research where Gordon McKenzie Hill recounts when he went to Bergen-Belsen.


The Making of a WWII RCAF Spitfire Pilot
P/O Gordon Hill J37340
Part Six

The move into Germany begins on 11 April 1945, when thirteen squadron Spitfires depart for B.100 Goch, Germany, [76 on map] where they will remain until 14 April.

The ground party moves out on 12 April, and follow the blue line on map. They cross the Rhine River at Wesel, [#57 on map] and proceed to B.108 at Rheine, Germany, where they spent the night.

Gordon was running the Orderly Room while Adjutant Howe was away, and requested to drive the squadron Jeep, so he could take photos of crossing the Rhine into Germany.

Crossing the Rhine [looking south] at Wesel, Germany, blue circle #57 on map.

North bound to Wesel, Germany

On 24 March, the American 9th Army and British Second Army forces swept across the Rhine at this point and the city of Wesel was secured. At the same time airborne troops landed on the German plain north of the Ruhr.

No 416 RCAF ground “A” convoy crossed at the same spot on 12 April 1945. Gordon returned to B.100 Goch and rejoined his flight.

The river banks were still heavily mined by the retreating Germans.

The pilots and thirteen 416 Spitfire fighters flown to B.100 Goch, Germany, on 11 April 1945. Gord flew patrol the next day, attacking buildings, and trains, from 06:48 until 09:16 hours.

Welcome to Germany, flak damage at B.100 Goch, Germany, 13 April 1945

No. 440 RCAF Typhoon at B.100 Goch

Gordon’s April trip to Dusseldorf clearly shows the effects of the Allied bombing campaign.

On 14 April 1945, the Spitfires arrive at B.114 Diepholz, Germany, and Gord records the fighters. It snowed on 21 April, and this image was taken some time later, with still snow on the ground. No. 416 [Lynx] Squadron left B.114 on 26 April and arrived at B.154 Reinsehlen, Germany, where they remained for the next two months.

Gordon with his camera

B.114 Diepholz was a former Luftwaffe base and contained excellent hangars and aircrew living quarters. They only stayed for twelve days and then departed North West 100 miles to B.154.

The ground “A” party left at 8 am 26 April 1945, and the Spitfires left just after 1 pm. The new drome was located 35 miles south east of Hamburg, Germany, near Schnenerdinge, Germany. Twenty miles south was the village of Bergen, Germany.

The fighter pilots were ordered to taxi to the end of the runway, park, and remain beside their aircraft, as the airfield had not been cleared of mines. Around 4 pm the British Army arrived and commenced to clear the area of German mines. By the time the area was secured, ground party “A” arrived and began to unload tents and supplies.

Ground party “B” arrived on 28 April 1945, and found they would be living in tents, and working out doors from their mobile hangar trucks. The Daily Diary made note the billets were not as good as the last ones, they would have to make the best of it.

The mobile aircraft hangar repair shop at B.154 Reinsehlen

The squadron group photo at B.154/ Reinsehlen, Germany, June 1945

Baseball game at B.154

On 2 May 1945, the pilots learned the village of Bergen was just 20 miles south of their location and two miles away was a large concentration camp named “Bergen Belsen.”

Gordon and four other RCAF pilots took the squadron Jeep and drove south to the large concentration camp. Gordon stated – “No amount of words can give a true impression of what we saw, heard, and smelled that horrible day. I still wish I had never gone, and it really bothered me for the next twenty years of my life. Nazi Germany conquered, enslaved, and plundered Europe, but we five pilots had no idea what to expect, and it defied any description, even still today.”

The entrance sign erected by the British Army around 29 April 1945.

Original black and white colorised by Pierre Lagacé

Flowers at a mass grave site.

Bremen bombed docks seen from a Canadian Spitfire, 3 May 1945.

F/O Picard and F/O McCallum

On 4 May 1945, F/O G. M. Hill was one of six Spitfires [TB237 – SM200 – SM191 – SM466 – SM470 – and his “S” TD187] attacking German shipping off shore at Eckerrerde Bay. They returned to base at 14:20 hrs. and were informed the war in Europe was over. This was later confirmed by radio at 20:30 hrs that evening.

On 5 May 1945, No. 416 was assigned a special escort of 14 Dakota transport aircraft to Copenhagen, Denmark, and the signing of the German surrender of Northwest Germany. Gordon flew DN-S, serial TD187, and the return trip took 2 hrs. and 25 minutes. The RCAF Spitfires could not land, as they did not have a self starter like the American P-51 fighters, who were also conducting escort of VIPs.

The 492nd Bombardment Group of the American 8th Air Force arrived at North Pickenham, England, on 14 April 1944, and flew a total of 64 missions until 7 August 1944. They were withdrawn from combat on 5 August and assumed special operations at Harrington, replacing the 801st Bomb Group. On the afternoon of 6 May 1945, Col. Robert W. Fish was assigned a secret mission to fly an American C-47 from Harrington, England, to Copenhagen [Kastrup] Denmark. The passengers were members of the Danish Government and two members of the Danish Royal Family. This was for a secret unconditional signing of the German surrender documents, as the Germans Forces had surrendered on 5 May 1945. The V.I.P.s arrived at Harrington on 7 May 1945, and the C-47 took off at 10:00 hrs, stopping for fuel at Eindhoven, Belgium. They were then joined by two American P-51 fighters who escorted the C-47 to the airport at Copenhagen, Denmark. They were cleared to land, and found the airport was still partly in control of the Germans. The V.I.P.s departed and the flight crew were treated to a huge meal by the Danish, then returned to England.

On 7 May 1945, “B” flight, No. 416 Squadron was informed four pilots would be flying escort for a single RAF Mosquito fighter to Copenhagen-Kastrup, Denmark. The Mosquito was transporting a special VIP for the unconditional surrender of North-West Germany, Denmark, and Heligoland. The No. 416 escort pilots selected were – P/O L. E. Spurr, [TD251 “F”] F/O K.J. Williams, [TB905 “K”] F/O R.O. Brouillard, [SM466 “Y”] and F/O Gordon Hill, [TD187 “S”].

These four pilots flew – “The last No. 416 Squadron operation in World War Two.” This special escort took place from 16:05 hrs to 18:25 hrs, 7 May 1945. The special Danish V.I.P. is unknown. F/O Hill had aircraft problems and returned to base, recorded as [D.N.C.O.] Duty Not Carried Out. Gordon is unable to recall the events.

The total number of special escort operations completed by No. 416 Squadron on 7 May 1945.

This image was taken by Canadians at Fleasburg airfield, Denmark, 5 May 1945. The Danes had removed all the propellers and spinners from the German fighters, preventing them from being flown out.

Copy of the final WWII newsletter – ‘WINGTIPS XTRA.”


On 8 May 1945, the war was officially over, and all RCAF ranks had the day off. Gordon, two other pilots, and three ground crew, drove north from Hamburg to an airfield [B.164/Schleswig] south of Flensburg, Germany. They were looking for German aircraft to bring back to the squadron and German guns. They loaded two cases of rum [12 – 16 oz. bottles] and headed off into northern Germany.


The original history by F/O Gordon Hill in his photo album.

The ex-Luftwaffe airfield was now home to a unit of British Marines, and they loudly advised – “No Bloody way you’ll get any guns, let alone any German aircraft.”

While standing on the airfield a German two engine bomber appeared, landed, and the two crew surrendered to the RCAF pilots. Gordon Hill took three photos.

The German pilot [right under engine] stated he came from Norway then Denmark. Possibly Junkers Ju188D-2 from 1. Fernaufklarungsgruppe 122, Kirkenes, Norway. Number on nose appears to be 032.

Standard green camouflage with pale blue-grey over spray, code white H and black letter R.

The Canadians requested lodging for the night, and that evening invited the British Marine Captain in charge, and two of his officers over for a few drinks of rum. The morning of May 9, 1945, the two ground crew returned to base driving the squadron Jeep. The three RCAF pilots each flew off in a German aircraft, loaded with German guns, and Gordon stated – “The remainder of the rum was left with the British Captain for medical use.”

This No. 416 captured Messerschmitt Bf 109, was now joined by three more German aircraft.

This is the original note given to F/O Gordon Hill from the British Marine Captain, to take the two Bücker Bü 181 aircraft, which he identified as Me 108s. It’s amazing the power a bottle of rum has in making a deal. F/O Hill flew one of the captured Bü 181s back to base, and this unofficial flight is not recorded in his log book. The German aircraft [RL-E1] were given the code DN-X and Gordon flew it on 11 May 1945, 6 and 19 June 1945, recorded in his log book.


RCAF Batman LAC Grieve, [left] on right is “Jules” the No. 416 Flemish civilian Batman, who received a ride in the German aircraft Bucker Bü 181 courtesy of pilot “Pic” Picard.

The third captured German aircraft, a Bf 108, was taken by the C.O.

It became the new squadron ‘pet’ as this Messerschmitt Bf 108, was flown by all the squadron pilots, who loved her soft leather seats. F/O Hill flew it one time on 15 May 1945, with F/L Parry, F/L Commerford, and the C.O. S/L Mitchner as passengers. Marked with 127 Wing and the initials of 416 Squadron C.O. S/L J.D. Mitchner used it to fly around bases in Europe and even to England for meetings.

On 30 May 45, F/O Chuck Darrow was flying too low in one of the Bü 181s and hit wires, taking off the tail and made a crash landing. His punishment was one-week Duty Pilot and one-week of Orderly Officer. The second aircraft had her engine destroyed by using 150 octane aviation fuel from the squadron Spitfires.

F/O Gordon Cameron, S/L Jack Mitchner, F/O Picard, and Dove, with war trophies.

Trap-shooting was used to keep fighter pilots eye-sight keen, and for pleasure.

F/L Walter Norman Douglas J2933, age 24, from Halleybury, Ontario, was accidently shot and killed by a shotgun blast. He is buried in the Becklingen War Cemetery at Soltau, Germany. F/O Gordon Hill witnessed this accidental shooting and was confined to barracks until the enquiry was completed. The official statements follow.

Now that the hostilities in Europe have ended, No. 416 is one of four RCAF day fighter units selected to remain in Germany under the British Air Forces of Occupation. They fly to Base 152, Fassberg on 2 July 1945, now under command of No. 83 [Composite] Group, No. 126 [RCAF] Wing.

The RCAF grave site at Eindhoven, Holland, June 1945

End of Part Six

Next chapter: Postwar Germany