Research done by Clarence Simonsen – The Calgary Wings (draft version)

Calgary Wings

The Forgotten R.A.F. History –

C.A. Simonsen

This is the forgotten history of RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, during WWII, dedicated to the 30 British lads who never returned home. 

Royal Air Force, No. 37 Service Flying Training School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Click below for the PDF file.

No. 37 SFTS

Draft text version (with no images)

Calgary Wings
The Forgotten R.A.F. History –
C.A. Simonsen

This is the forgotten history of RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, during WWII, dedicated to the 30 British lads who never returned home.

Royal Air Force, No. 37 Service Flying Training School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, – Part One

The British Royal Air Force members of No. 37 S.F.T.S. docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 14:30 hrs. 15 September 1941, with their first train arriving at Calgary, Alberta, five days later. Their new training school was still under construction, with the first 13 British officers and 444 other ranks moving in 30 September 1941. This RAF unit unofficially adopted an indigenous Thunderbird as their new Canadian training flying school insignia, and this image first appeared on stationary and the school newsletter “Wings” cover [above] in November 1941.

The large area surrounding present day Calgary, Alberta, was first inhabited by a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture of peoples who have been radiocarbon dated [human remains] to 10,200 years ago. At the end of the last glacial period, Cordilleran Ice Sheet, 11,650 years ago, this culture began to manufacture distinctive bone and ivory tools with distinctive “Clovis points” and they became known as the Clovis culture. The Clovis people are considered [DNA testing] to be the first ancestors of today’s indigenous cultures in most of North America, reaching to Mexico and South America. The First Nations of present day Alberta came under control of the Blackfoot Confederacy and this included the Blood, Peigan, Blackfoot and Tsuu T’ina indigenous peoples. The first recorded European appeared in 1787, when cartographer David Thompson made contact with the First Nations people and the early white settlers began to arrive in 1873. The North-West Mounted Police arrived in 1875, and the following year Fort Calgary was constructed, named after clear running water on the isle of Mull, Scotland. The Native Thunderbird symbol is a mythical creature still seen as a most powerful spirit which can change into a human form and was believed to be the dominating force of all natural activity, power, protection, and strength. It is clear some forgotten RAF historian carefully did his research long before the RAF selected their British Thunderbird insignia, possibly at RAF Station West Kirby, England, in July 1941.

In the early hours of 17 December 1939, the British and Canadian government representatives signed a document titled “Agreement Relating to the Training of Pilots and Aircraft Crews in Canada and their Subsequent Service.” During the many hours of meetings [which began 5 November 1939] leading up to the signing the BCATP, the United Kingdom government had intimated the possible need to move complete RAF training schools to Canada, but nothing else was discussed. In the spring of 1940, the World War took a turn for the worse and the British faced possible invasion from Nazi Germany. On 4 July 1940, the British High Commissioner in Ottawa ask Canadian Air Minister Hon. Charles Gavin Power if the RAF could move four complete flying training schools to Canada. The British High Commissioner was informed by Hon. Mr. Power the U.K. could move four schools to Canada, then added, “If the British wished to transfer more schools to Canada, room for them would be found, but it must be understood the full cost of these schools must be borne by the United Kingdom.” On receiving this answer, the RAF revised their original request [four] to eight service flying training schools, two air observer schools, one bombing and gunnery school, one air navigational school, one general reconnaissance school and one torpedo bombing school.

The original estimated Canadian cash outlay for building “Part One” of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan came to 441 million dollars and to this total was now added the Canadian cost for construction of fourteen new Royal Air Force special training schools, with an estimate cost of another $50 million.

Canadian cartoonist editorial drawing by Les Callan which was published after the signing of the 17 December 1939 agreement. Repainted and coloured by author. This cartoon in fact projected BCATP history, as the yellow peril [training aircraft] were like wild hornets attacking Nazi leader Hitler. The British also called the plan “Empire Air Training.”

New sites were now selected for hurried construction of the fourteen new RAF schools, [located in Western Canada] to avoid confusion with RCAF training schools under construction in the BCATP. The movement of complete RAF training schools began in earnest in October 1940, and five schools had arrived by the end of the year. In March 1941, the British government again revised the number of RAF schools they would like to move to Canada, nine more service flying training schools [including Calgary No. 37 SFTS], fifteen elementary flying training schools, ten air observer schools and four operational training units. In 1941, Canada constructed and opened thirty-three RCAF training schools in the BCATP, plus constructed and opened seventeen special RAF schools which were operated by the RAF. The RAF schools in Canada were subject to RCAF administration and operational control, while the British had access to Canadian supply, medical, maintenance, and the same services as the RCAF. There was really very little difference between the British RAF special schools and the RCAF schools under construction for the BCATP. The one major division became the British preservation of their national identity in the RAF schools, which were commanded by their own officers and trained in the same custom and traditions as that in the United Kingdom. For administration control the numbering of RCAF training schools was reserved from #1 to #30 and the RAF training schools were allotted numbers #31 and above. During the war the RAF would operate twenty-eight British schools in Canada, twenty-six were for aircrew training, one Radio Direction Finding School #31 RDF at Clinton, Ontario, and the main RAF reception centre, #31 Personnel Depot at Moncton, New Brunswick. By 1942, it had become clear that air training in Canada [BCATP] had far outgrown the size, cost, and organization of the original plan due mostly to the arrival of twenty-eight new RAF special schools. On 5 June 1942, the British partners in the BCATP set down with Canada and deliberated a new agreement, [Part Two] and the plan was extended until 31 March 1945. Canada would bear half of the total cost of the new extended training program, which was estimated at 747.5 million dollars, for a total Canadian cash outlay of 1,188.5 billion. The British contributed 145 million in cash, and 360 million in aircraft and supplies, for a total of 466 million since the beginning of the plan.

The true financial cost of the BCATP will never be known due to the many claims and counter-claims between the various partners. In 1946, a group of accountants produced a balance sheet which seemed to satisfy all the parties involved and that is the best rounded number we have for historians. Canada contributed seventy-two per cent of the air training cost [$1,617,955,108.79]. The United Kingdom paid $54,206,318.22 in cash, and provided equipment to the value of $162,260,787.89 or ten per cent of the overall cost. Australia payment was $65,181,068.00 or three per cent and New Zealand $48,025,393.00 or two per cent of the total cost.
By 30 June 1942, [end of Part One] Canada had spent $212,280,010.00 on the construction of twenty-eight British RAF schools and purchase of additional aircraft for RAF training in Canada. On 13 October 1944, the Hon, C.G. Power released to the Canadian public the first reports, costs, and prospects of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and these figures were staggering to the main stream Canadian taxpayer.

Under the new BCATP agreement, [Part Two] which took effect on 1 July 1942, the RAF schools in Canada would continue in their present form of retaining British identity under the administration of the RCAF. The only change became the RAF and RCAF schools were now all merged with the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and almost all RAF schools were enlarged to take in new trainees from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Free French, Holland, Norway and Poland. These European Allies maintained national squadrons in the RAF and provided individual aircrew for British Squadrons. Now they would be trained in Canada beside the RAF in their operated schools, where a wide variety of English was being spoken in six foreign tongues. When I walk the small forgotten grave sites near No. 36 SFTS Penhold, No. 32 EFTS Bowden, or the largest grave site [43] at Calgary, Alberta, I can historically read the Allies names mixed with their British comrades as they fell from the sky and died during training.

No. 36 SFTS Penhold, Alberta, was officially opened by Group Captain W.B. Farrington, DSO, on 23 August 1941. It was constructed by the Canadian government for the RAF with the purpose of training young British pilots to fly multi-engine Airspeed Oxford aircraft to “Wings” standard. These British pilot trainees had graduated from basic flying on light aircraft at another RAF E.F.T.S. in Alberta, and now they would learn more advanced flying in the Airspeed Oxford twin-engine aircraft. Each course contained 35-55 students on average, and the course ran for twenty weeks. Today twenty casualties are buried in the Red Deer Cemetery and seventeen lost their lives training in the British Oxford aircraft. [above actual accident] Three were non-flying training deaths, 30 January 1942, Cpl. Stan Ryder, plowing snow RAF tractor tipped over killing driver. 24 September 1942, Flt. /Sgt. G.F. Jennings natural death in hospital. 23 July 1944, P/O D.J. Stewart, drown in swimming accident.
At the request of the British government, RAF schools in Canada were the first to close, and this began in January 1944. By November 1944, only two RAF schools remained with 3,800 RAF students in training. The Part Two agreement of the BCATP signed in June 1942 stated the total cost of the Plan would be divided equally between Canada and the United Kingdom. When the books were balanced in September 1945, the U.K. still owed Canada $282,511,039.25 for Part two of the Plan. Counter-claims and dropping of figures reduced the final claim owed to Canada at $425 million for Plans #1 and #2, including the cost of the twenty-eight British RAF schools. On 29 March 1946, the Canadian Minister of Finance introduced Bill No. 208 providing a loan to the British government in amount of $1,250,000,000.00 for postwar Canadian food products. Included in this Bill was a special clause cancelling the $425 million owed for the BCATP. The Bill passed on 7 May 1946, and the BCATP became history. As the Canadian Press reported – “In addition to meeting more than its own appropriate share of the Training Plan costs, the Canadian Government [taxpayer] had played the role of creditor to its British partners on a very large scale.”

Today modern Canadian and British aviation historians continue to state the total cost of the RAF schools moved to or formed in Canada during WWII were paid for in full by the United Kingdom. I believe that claim is false, and in fact the construction of twenty-eight RAF schools, special CN/CP train transportation, bombs, ammo, food, fuel, medical, ground equipment, and the purchase of extra aircraft for RAF training [$104 million] was paid by the Canadian taxpayer, when the British $425 million owed to Canada was cancelled in May 1946.

Calgary New Airport and the Second World War
In 1935, Canadian voters defeated the Federal Conservatives and returned the Liberals of W.L Mackenzie King to power. This proved to be the most aviation minded government Canadians had ever seen and many historical changes took place. In 1936, Minister of Harbours and Railways, Hon. C.D. Howe, moved civil aviation from under the Department of Defence and placed it in a new formed Department of Transportation. Next he began construction of a Trans-Canada Airway, with airports and emergency landing fields spread across Canada, and by 1938 a framework of 94 airfields were nearing completion. A new [fourth] civil airport for Calgary, Alberta, was developed on new land purchased [$31,126.00] in the North-East of the city, with the first ever designed municipal constructed civilian airport terminal and hangar. The new airport opened [two weeks after Canada declared war on Germany] 25 September 1939, titled McCall Field, for WWI ace and Calgary born Freddy McCall. Today this famous original TCA terminal and historical WWII hangar still stands, sadly, forgotten by the passage of time and proper historical background education.

The cover of Maclean’s 1 March 1940, featured a color photo of Lockheed Model 14H2, believed to be CF-TCJ, the TCA pilots are not identified. These pilots and aircraft would continue to transport passengers, freight, and Calgary air mail during WWII.
With the Canadian declaration of war 10 September 1939, the Federal Department of Transport took over control of Calgary McCall Field, which was now selected as a potential BCATP training base site. The Dept. of Transport completed surveys, blueprints, and cost estimates, which were submitted to the RCAF Aerodrome Development Committee for rejection or approval. The final construction site approval came from the Minister of National Defence, [sworn in 23 May 1940] Hon. Charles Gavin Power in Ottawa. Calgary’s McCall Field was first selected to train British fighter pilots for the Royal Air Force, becoming No. 35 Service Flying Training School, construction beginning in late November 1940. Construction continued during the bitter cold winter months when temperatures dropped to 35 below F and gravel had to be steam heated before it could be mixed for cement.

This image was taken in spring of 1941, possibly around April or May, giving a clear air-shot of the original TCA 1938 wood constructed terminal and hangar, which opened 25 September 1939. Seven Trans-Canada Airlines Loadstar aircraft can be seen on the ramp, possible delayed in Calgary due to bad weather over the Rocky Mountains. [TCA only had twelve on strength] The three bottom aircraft are CF-TCY, CF-TDG, and CF-TDF, with CF-TCY surviving today and being restored by the Canadian Museum of Flight in B.C., a rare Canadian historical civil aircraft. Top is the future RAF hangar #1 with British control tower, first used by the RCAF. On 24 January 1941, RCAF Flying Squadron from No. 2 Wireless School [SAIT campus today] Calgary, moved from RCAF No. 3 SFTS [Currie Barracks] to TCA operations hangar. [above]

This image was found and supplied by Karly Sawatzky, BA, SAIT Archives of Calgary.
These eight D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II wireless trainer aircraft were the first WWII trainers to occupy the future RAF hangars, they arrived by rail at Calgary on 18 March 1941. The first Menasco Moth assembled was RCAF serial 4843, [first aircraft in line] and the first to fly at Calgary, [officially recorded by RCAF as Municipal Airport No. 35 SFTS] on 20 March 1941. Menasco T-Moth serial numbers were in production order – 4834-35-36-37-38-40-41 and 42. Eight more arrived on 20 March 1941, serial 4833-4839,4843-4844-4845-4846-4847 and 4848. No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron [formed 6 January 1941] became the first WWII Wireless Air Gunners Course 9X [46 trainees] to train and use Calgary Municipal TCA control tower at Calgary. The airport was now under control of the Dept. of Transport, and the British control tower was not in operational order. The Wireless course began on 28 April 1941, with thirty-five aircraft on charge, 9 RCAF Norseman, 1 old Fairchild, 1 Moth 82C and 24 Moth 82C-4 trainers. These trainer aircraft also became the first to used the new constructed Relief Flying Field located at Airdrie, Alberta, however they would never graduate at No. 35 SFTS. On 12 May 1941, No. 2 Wireless School was ordered back to RCAF No. 3 SFTS at Currie Barracks, as the British government had requested the movement of many more Royal Air Force training schools to Western Canada, and training space for twelve schools had to be found in a short period of time. These future RAF training schools were still under construction as the British staff and trainees began to arrive by train, and they would have to double-bunk in H-huts which were still not fully constructed.
On 22 April 1941, RAF Senior Officers and other ranks of newly formed No. 31 SFTS boarded a train 09:30 hrs at Kirkham, England, arriving at Glasgow, Scotland at 13:00 hrs. They sailed on the S.S. “Royal Ulsterman” on 23 April and arrived at Iceland four days later. They departed Iceland on 29 April in the H.S. California and arrived Halifax, Nova Scotia, 6 May 1941. A special CPR train transported the entire staff to Calgary arriving on 10 May, where they were trucked from the train station to the Calgary Municipal airport and No. 35 SFTS, their temporary training school still under construction.
Two days later RCAF No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron were ordered back to Currie Barracks, [their original base] to complete their wireless flight training, and make room for the arriving British. RAF No. 31 EFTS were never assigned aircraft for training and one RCAF D.H. Menasco Tiger-Moth Mk. II was loaned to them from No. 2 Wireless School on 15 May 1941. This allowed the pilot students to receive aircraft ground instruction until their new trainers were delivered from Toronto by rail. Their first Canadian built De Havilland Tiger-Moth arrived at Calgary, flown from Regina, Saskatchewan, 30 May, and twenty-one more would arrive by CPR rail from de Havilland in Toronto, by the end of June. The first RAF flying instruction at Calgary, Alberta, began on 18 June when Course #22 commenced their first elementary flying school training, containing 93 student pilots, with completion of course slated for 20 August 1941. The RAF staff of No. 31 EFTS at Calgary were 29 Officers, 24 NCO’s and 425 airmen, including the first 93 student pilots. In June the course students flew an average of seven and one half hours, with six pupils flying solo, and six more ready to fly solo. In the month of July 1941, No. 31 EFTS student pilots had twelve Tiger Moth aircraft accidents, fortunately with no loss of life.

The last collision between two Tiger-Moth trainers at Calgary occurred on 11 October 1941, and training was suspended the next day.
The advance RAF party of S/L P. Jackson, P/O J.S. Robinson, and 84 other ranks began the move to their new base at De Winton, Alberta, on 13 October, and the main body of the school arrived three days later. Their new school was still under construction, no telephones, poor sanitation, temporary heating, but they had running ‘cold’ water. The British called this ‘blue pencil’ showers. Not one building at De Winton, Alberta, was 100% completed, including hangars, requiring all aircraft to were flown back and forth to Calgary for normal maintenance and major overhauls. Base construction would not be completed until 13 July 1942.

The historic 1938 constructed first Calgary TCA terminal and hangar remains in use today, while her WWII past is largely unknown to the majority of citizens in Calgary. Author in hangar door under the impact point of the world famous WWII RAF Mosquito “F for Freddie.” Believe it or not, the history of the tragic crash of “Freddie” is not even displayed in the Flight Hangar Museum, and the City of Calgary have never designated this historic aviation hangar as a protected heritage building, which is [2018] privately owned and operated by Condor Aircraft. Knowing the cowboy priorities in Calgary, Canadians can pretty much kiss this Trans-Canada Airlines and WWII RAF British aviation history good-bye.
In March 1941, the British once again revised the number of RAF schools they wished to move to Canada, adding nine more service flying training schools, fifteen elementary flying training schools, ten air observer schools and four operational training schools. This caused many additional construction problems for the Canadian government, RCAF reorganization, doubling the size of some schools under construction, and turning relief landing fields into full size training schools. In June 1941, the RAF Officers and ranks of No. 35 SFTS were reassigned from their intended base at Calgary to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, where they arrived on 21 July 1941.
Their original designated RAF school under construction at Calgary, Alberta, now remained an un-numbered temporary training school of RAF No. 31 EFTS until 4 September 1941, then it was officially renumbered RAF No. 37 SFTS.

When this image was taken, 4 April 1941, [5,500 feet] the base was still designated as No. 35 S.F.T.S and the aircraft seen in front of Hangar #1 are four Menasco Moth Mk. II from No. 2 Wireless School. The RAF organization of British Officers and other ranks of new formed No. 37 S.F.T.S. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, came together at RAF West Kirby, England, on 18 August 1941. RAF West Kirby was constructed beginning in October 1939, a large camp designed to train new RAF recruits in education of the wartime RAF, learning air force parade ground drill, later with rifles, and intense physical fitness training. West Kirby was a basic training unit with no airfield, where discipline was much stricter than a normal RAF training school, which earned the nickname ‘square bashing camp.’
After eight weeks of basic training, the new recruit was posted for special trades training or directly to RAF operations. The new staff of No. 37 SFTS were recalled from leave on 2 September 1941, and it appears around 400 were new British airmen who would learn their air force trade at a far-off place called Calgary, Alberta, in Western Canada.

Of all the new formed RAF training units in Canada the elementary flying training schools went through the most numerous changes in construction, location, and student size, due to their rapid expansion. This sudden acceleration of British student pilots also effected the service flying training schools in not only construction, or finding training aircraft but in finding proper accommodations, and Calgary became a perfect example.

When the first No. 37 SFTS RAF train arrived at Calgary on 20 September 1941, they found it occupied by No. 31 EFTS, and new arrival staff [458 all ranks] had no accommodation. The new arrivals had to double-up with the 478 staff members of No. 31 EFTS. The second train was halted at RAF No. 39 Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which was still under construction and would not open until 15 December 1941. The officers from the second train were taken to RAF No. 32 SFTS at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for accommodation. What a confusing greeting to Canada after five or six days at sea, and then four days on a train. The fact being RAF training staff and students were arriving in Canada faster than their training schools could be constructed by Canadians.

On 30 September 1941, 13 officers and 444 other ranks moved into RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, a very slow beginning, then came aircraft training changes. Calgary originally had been selected as a service flying training school, equipped with Harvard aircraft for RAF fighter pilot training. In 1940-41, Harvard aircraft in Canada were relatively plentiful and twin-engine Avro Anson and Airspeed Oxford bomber pilot trainers were scarce. The British Oxford [Ox-box] twin-engine aircraft were being shipped from England and took weeks to deliver, thus more RAF pilots were being trained as fighter pilots and an imbalance was taking place. Fully trained RAF fighter pilots arriving back in United Kingdom had to be retrained as bomber pilots at a British operational training unit, and this wasted time and cost money.
On 22 September 1941, RAF Order #228 advised No. 37 SFTS Calgary, would train bomber pilots flying British built Airspeed Oxford trainers, being shipped across the sea from England. These aircraft would arrive three, four, or six a time depending on the ship size that transported them to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The prototype British [Ox-box] Oxford flew on 19 June 1937, with 8,586 manufactured by Airspeed, 4,441 at Portsmouth, 550 at Christchurch, 1,515 built by de Havilland at Hatfield, 1,356 by Percival at Luton, and 750 by Standard Motors at Coventry. The RCAF ordered twelve Mk. I and thirteen Mk. II trainers in 1938, the first serial 1501 [Mk. II] arrived at Trenton, Ontario, 8 May 1939. These first twenty-five aircraft were serial #1501 to #1525, serving at RCAF Camp Bordon, Trenton, Picton, and Rockciffe, Ontario.

Oxford #1521 was taken on charge RCAF at Camp Borden 10 September 1939, had a Cat. C accident at RCAF Rockcliffe, Ontario, on 9 January 1942, off charge 19 February 1945.

The RCAF also purchased 188 Oxford AS. 46 Mk. V aircraft which trained in various parts of the BCATP in Canada. Oxford Mk. V, serial EB623 was taken on charge 19 March 1943, off charge by RCAF 21 August 1945. This aircraft never few training operations and had only 10:10 hrs when sold by War Assets in 1946.

Due to RAF training school construction delays in Canada, combined with a shortage of RAF Bomber Pilots, No. 37 SFTS RAF Calgary will begin twin-engine Bomber pilot training with the British Airspeed Oxford “All Purpose” RAF trainer. The RAF Calgary airport was constructed at a high elevation of 3,606 ft. [1,099 metres] above sea level, which required a longer runway for take-off in twin engine aircraft and the Oxford was not suitable to operate in this high altitude of Western Canada.

The most notable difference between twin-engine training schools in Canada became aircraft types. The RAF schools flew the Airspeed Oxford, 601 which were shipped from England, [March 1941 to November 1943] then arrived by rail at the assigned schools in Western Canada, while the RCAF schools flew the Avro Anson trainer. The higher the British Oxford trainer flew in Calgary the more power it lost due to thin air density, and the RAF knew this, but they needed bomber pilots, so the decision was made to train bomber pilots at Calgary [for eleven months] until 25 September 1942. The first British Oxford AS276 arrived by rail on 7 August, followed by four T1184, V3426, V3434, and AS365 on 20 August 1941.

The first 68 RAF EFTS pilot graduates arrived at Calgary on 13 October 41, and now these British lads came face to face with their first twin-engine Oxford and their new flying instructor. Keep in mind all British schools and many RAF course numbers in Canada began with number 31.

This four-page cartoon appeared in No. 32 EFTS magazine “Three Corners” but the humor would apply to any of the 26 RAF wartime training schools in Canada. Joining up and posted to RAF West Kirby, Cheshire [later Merseyside] England, “Fly with the RAF.”

RAF parade ground drill, “square bashing” spit and polish, with strict discipline.

Intensive physical fitness training and weekends of book study, kitchen duty, or Orderly Sgt.

Canadian RAF Flying Training washed-out, replaced by hours of cleaning duties.

On 21 October 1941, RAF ground school lectures and flying instruction began at Calgary, and the next day RAF No. 37 SFTS officially opened for Airspeed Oxford bomber pilot training, Course #31. This first Course began with 68 students and graduated 53 Bomber Sgt./pilot flying badges, with 13 students granted officer commissions. The Wings parade flying badges were presented by Vice-Marshal G.N. Croil AFC, beginning 09:00 hrs 21 January 1942.

This is an actual RAF photo of a Wings Parade Badge presentation at the Drill Hall of No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta. Today this 1940 constructed Drill Hall survives as the Flight Hangar Museum of Calgary. In 2017, the City of Calgary spent one-million dollars to renovate and make this historic old building fire proof, and you can now rent this very space for a birthday, wedding, funeral, or stag party evening, drinking and dancing around old airplanes. Sadly, you will not find one aircraft, photo, or fact sheet which tells the true history of this British WWII RAF pilot training site, or the 30 British lads who died here. One-thousand five hundred and thirty-five RAF trained pilots received their wings in the Flight Hangar Museum of Calgary.

Image from RAF aircraft in March 1942, showing downtown Calgary and the location of British No. 37 S.F.T.S. Forty-three Mk. I and forty-one Mk. II British Oxford aircraft were delivered directly to the base from Halifax, Nova Scotia, by C.P.R. Railway.

Airspeed Oxford Mk. I, serial number Taken on strength Taken off strength

T1180 2 Sept. 1941 17 Feb. 1945
T1184 [Mk. II] 20 Aug. 1941 17 May 1944
V3379 29 Aug. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
V3393 29 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
V3426 20 Aug. 1941 18 Aug. 1942
Cat “A” accident, 14 August 1943. Mid-air with AS666, LAC Nimmo and LAC Webb killed.
V3434 20 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
V3439 12 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
V3463 19 Sept. 1941 11 Apr. 1944
V3479 3 Sept. 1941 28 Nov. 1942
Cat. “A” accident, 28 November 1942, No. 39 SFTS Swift current, Sask.
X6539 26 Aug. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
X6544 4 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6549 4 Oct. 1941 18 May 1944
X6550 2 Sept. 1941 8 Sept. 1943
X6551 2 Sept. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
X6557 22 Oct. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6589 24 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6590 17 Sept. 1941 10 June 1943
X6593 25 Sept. 1941 11 May 1943
X6881 3 Nov. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
X6883 3 Nov. 1941 3 Oct. 1943
X6884 [Mk. II] 9 Oct. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6964 [Mk. II] 2 Feb. 1942 23 Jan. 1945
X6967 [Mk. II] 2 Feb. 1942 12 May 1943
X7143 [Mk. II] 24 Mar. 1942 3 Oct. 1945
X7156 [Mk. II] 14 May 1942 19 Feb. 1945
AP424 [Mk. II] 4 Mar. 1942 23 Jan. 1945
AR969 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS266 [Mk. II] 28 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS276 [Mk. II] 7 Aug. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS303 [Mk. II] 29 Aug. 1941 17 May 1944
AS321 [Mk. II] 18 Aug. 41 13 Apr. 1944
AS365 [Mk. II] 20 Aug. 1941 11 June 1943
Cat. “A” accident, 1st British bomber student pilot killed at Calgary 5 December 1941, LAC Ernest Thomson 1387318. Flying his first solo, the pilot attempted to land with only one wheel locked in down position, the aircraft stalled and crashed onto nose, killing LAC Thomson. Funeral on 8 December 41, attended by ten RAF officers, firing party, trumpeters and drummer.

RAF crash photo Oxford AS. 10 Mk. II, serial AS365, 5 December 1941

AS373 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 41 29 Oct. 1942
19 January 1942, forced landing Cat. “C” accident, extensive damage, LAC Crampton G.C.
AS382 [Mk. II] 29 Aug. 1941 18 Aug. 1942
Cat. “A” accident, LAC E.C. Dunbavand #1218546 killed at Three Hills, Alberta. [1st Solo flight]
Funeral 16 January 1942.

AS396 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS475 22 Oct. 1941 2 Oct. 1946
AS599 14 Nov. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
AS603 4 Sept. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
AS610 26 Aug. 1941 28 Nov. 1942
AS612 29 Aug. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS614 2 Sept. 1941 12 May 1943
Involved in collision 11 Dec. 1941, pilot 656537 LAC B. Williams.
AS616 22 Oct. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS617 22 Oct. 1941 11 Nov. 1943
Cat. “A” accident at No. 29 SFTS Swift Current, Sask.
AS619 2 Sept. 1941 28 28 Jan. 1945
AS625 18 Nov. 1941 27 Aug. 1943
Cat. “A” accident 8 July 1943, No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Sask.
AS629 25 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS666 17 Sept. 1941 12 Mar. 1943
Cat. “A” accident 14 Aug. 1942, LAC L.R. Nimmo 420814 mid-air.

AS691 12 Nov. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS699 10 Dec. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS701 3 Nov. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS790 [Mk. II] 4 Sept. 1941 22 Feb. 1943
Cat. “A” accident 12 December 1943, No. 39 SFTS, Swift Current, Sask.

AS798 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS802 [Mk. II] 4 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS834 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1942 25 May. 1945
AS837 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS838 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
AS848 [Mk. II] 18 Nov. 1941 17 Feb. 1945
AS853 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS859 [Mk. II] 9 Oct. 1941 12 Feb. 1945
AS860 [Mk. II] 9 Oct. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS862 [Mk. II] 22 Oct. 1941 22 Feb. 1945
AS927 [Mk. II] 8 Jan. 1942 19 Feb. 1945
AS931 [Mk. II] 6 Nov. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AT442 3 Sept 1941 2 Oct. 1946
Crashed in landing accident 17 April 1942, no injuries.

Cat. “C” accident 17 April 1942, Oxford AS. 10 Mk. I, serial AT442, repaired, continued training until October 1946.

AT444 3 Sept. 1941 2 Oct. 1946
AT446 25 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AT447 25 Sept 1941 14 Feb. 1945
AT452 25 Sept. 1941 20 May 1943
Night flying 8 January 1942, hit telephone wires. No injuries.

AT455 25 Sept. 1941 17 May 1944
AT457 3 Sept. 1941 12 Dec. 1942
Cat. “A” accident 10 Dec. 1942 LAC W.J. McCarthy 656512 killed 20:30 hrs second solo flight.
Crashed three miles north of aerodrome, pilot killed instantly. Funeral 13 Dec. 1941.

AT458 17 Sept. 1941 30 Oct. 1945
Cat. “A” accident 14 Sept. 1943, No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Sask.
AT472 17 Sept. 1941 12 Mar. 1942
Cat. “A” accident 26 Aug. 1942

BG303 [Mk. II] 12 Mar. 1942 23 Jan. 1945
BG328 [Mk. II] 12 Mar. 1942 13 Apr. 1944
BG354 [Mk. II] 4 Mar. 1942 1 Aug. 1943
Cat. “C” accident 1 June 1942.
BG355 [Mk. II] 27 Feb. 1942 25 May 1945
BG363 [Mk. II] 27 Jan. 1942 19 Feb. 1945
BG503 [Mk. II] 14 May 1942 11 Apr. 1945
BM679 [Mk. II] 4 Mar. 1942 8 Aug. 1944
BM701 [Mk. II] 27 Jan. 1942 8 Sept. 1943
BM749 [Mk. II] 22 Apr. 1942 19 Feb. 1945
BM752 [Mk. II] 24 Mar. 1942 17 May 1942
BM807 [Mk. II] 10 Apr. 1942 11 Apr. 1944
BM810 [Mk. II] 10 Apr. 1942 28 Nov. 1942
Cat. “A” 14 August 1942, LAC W.J. Webb killed. Mid-air with Oxford AS666, LAC Nimmo.

Six of the thirty RAF pilots killed at Calgary were flying an “Ox-box” Airspeed Oxford when they died.

The British RAF shipped 601 Airspeed Oxford AS. 10 and AS. 46 trainers to RCAF for training in Canada, [March 1941 to November 1943] five were lost at sea [ship torpedoed] serial – AR809, AR810, AR813, AR814, and AR819. Delivered Mk. I aircraft totalled 281, Mk. II, 318, and Mk. V, 2. No. 37 SFTS RAF Calgary received 43 Mk. I aircraft and 41 Mk. II aircraft which are listed above on date of arrival and date off charge by RCAF.

On 28 September 1942, seventy-eight of the above Airspeed Oxford aircraft were flown to RAF No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and one-hundred Harvard II trainers were flown to No. 37 SFTS in Calgary. Another five Oxford aircraft were transferred on 30 September, and the last six departed Calgary by 11 January 1943.

Burnsland Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta, was established in 1923, containing 22,061 burials of WWI and WWII Veterans from the City. The British Union Jack proudly flies over the hallowed ground which contains 43 WWII graves of RAF students and Flying Instructors who never left Calgary 1941-44. Thirty were RAF members killed while training at No. 37 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, with the other thirteen killed training in Tiger-Moth aircraft at No. 31 EFTS RAF De Winton.

The first British issue of “Calgary Wings” with original RAF [First Nations] Thunderbird on front cover, November 1941.

The second issue of Calgary Wings came out in March 1942, featuring a new designed [First Nations] Thunderbird which remained with the British school until closing 10 March 1944. It’s possible this image was even painted on a few aircraft.

The first RAF full page cartoon appeared in the March issue. The citizens of Banff would invite 100 RAF students for a weekend of entertainment every few months.

The British RAF feelings towards Wild West Calgary in March 1942. Population was 87,000.

The first RAF Bomber pilot to solo at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Sgt. Howard from Course No. 31, trained 21 October 1941 to 21 January 1942.
The second RAF Oxford trained Bomber Pilot class of sixty to graduate at Calgary on 5 March 1942, became Course #33. Seventeen from original class were wastage [failed] posted back to No. 31 RAF Personnel Depot at Moncton, New Brunswick.

Course #35 graduated 52 bomber pilots on 21 May 1942, with 13 wasted [failed]. The last bomber pilot graduation class became Course #57 on 24 September 1942. Sixty-eight pilots graduated and all flying training was suspended on 25 September 42. The next day 73 Oxford aircraft were flown to No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and exchanged for 100 Harvard trainers which arrived Calgary on 30 September. No. 37 SFTS Calgary had graduated eight Airspeed Oxford bomber pilot courses [#31, #33, #35, #47, #49, #51, #56, and #57] with a total of 385 bomber pilots returning to England. Now, RAF Calgary would begin training fighter pilots for the RAF, flying Harvard II trainers, a new era begins on 1 October 1942.

R.A.F. No. 37 SFTS Relief Field at Airdrie, Alberta
On 10 October 1939, the Canadian government agreed that after the BCATP was signed [17 December 1939] the new Department of Transport would undertake the initial selection of airfield training sites, which must then be approved by the Aerodrome Committee of the RCAF. The erection of all buildings and training aids on each base was totally controlled by the Aerodrome Committee [RCAF]. Government survey crews from the D.O.T were aided by provincial highway survey parties and by 24 January 1940, a tentative selection of eighty schools for the BCATP was summited to Supervisory Board in Ottawa. A good number of these early training sites originally constructed for the RCAF would now be turned over to the RAF as they arrived in Canada, however I’m sure these original records are long gone.

The RCAF training schools in the BCATP were distributed throughout the four Air Force Training Commands in Canada, while the RAF schools were mostly located in No. 4 Training Command, which took up the southern part of Saskatchewan and the complete provinces of Alberta, and British Columbia. The above map shows the locations of thirteen RAF Pilot training schools in No. 4 T.C. and three more located in No. 2 Training Command, with H.Q. at Winnipeg.
Twenty-six Royal Air Force training schools would train 42,110 British aircrew members from October 1941 until January 1945. Almost half [17,796] graduated from Canadian RAF flying training schools in western Canada as pilots. Another 81 RAF pilots were trained and graduated from RCAF schools in the BCATP. After 1 July 1942, these Canadian RAF schools also trained 2,000 Free French aircrews, 900 Czechoslovakian pilots, 677 Norwegian pilots, 450 Polish pilots and 400 Dutch and Belgian pilots. Each of the British run RAF schools had one Relief Landing Ground [some had two] which was used for day and night flying training. These figures give a small account of the tremendous problems encountered and it is still hard for many historians to grasp that the RAF schools were training in the same air space as many other [five] RCAF schools south of Calgary, Alberta. Seventy-eight years later the RAF Relief landing fields are mostly gone, the buildings removed or torn down years ago, the runways over-grown with trees or just a faint outline in the earth seen from the air by passing aircraft.
Today [2019] it is a complete surprise to find a large percentage of No. 37 SFTS Relief Landing Ground at Airdrie, Alberta, still operates and survives like a war ghost from the past. My historical research of RAF in Canada began in 1985, and the hardest part was finding WWII images, and placing the history of this forgotten British training base in correct order. I know that hundreds of photos survive in England, forgotten in old photo albums, which are rarely looked at by today’s generation. The author would really appreciate any British images or shared history from this past RAF history in Western Canada. The majority of my RAF Airdrie/Calgary history was obtained from four caring Canadians, all of whom are now deceased. Mr. Burt Sharp, an ex-RCAF airplane mechanic who was posted to RAF Relief Field in February 1943, Mr. Harry Cromwell, an Airdrie farmer who owned the land surrounding the RAF Bomb Range, Mr. Archie Penny, an original 1942 RAF pilot, who flew Harvard trainers from Calgary, training at Relief Field Airdrie, and Mrs. Gwen Conroy, an amazing lady who owned and lived on the Airdrie Airport, plus being a qualified Harvard aircraft female pilot. Some of these WWII photos are being published for the very first time, with limited information, corrections are always appreciated, to record and preserve the truth. Many WWII photos were copied and shared by other aircrew members, then passed on and later placed into photo albums. For this reason, a good part of Canadian training RAF history was just forgotten and lost.
In December 1940, the aerodrome Committee of the RCAF selected 640 acres of farm land situated almost 3 miles East of the Village of Airdrie, Alberta, for construction of a Relief Landing Ground for RAF No. 35 SFTS being constructed in North-East Calgary. The construction contract was awarded to the Dutton Bros. of Calgary, Alberta, with the airfield completed in May 1941. Airdrie first became a railway siding of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in 1889, named after a Scottish village, with the first farmhouse constructed in 1901. When the RAF airfield construction began in 1940, the Village of Airdrie had a population of 191 citizens. The runways at Airdrie were first used for training by RCAF No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron using D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth Mk. II trainers based in Calgary, 28 April until 12 May 1941
No. 31 EFTS RAF arrived next, flying Canadian built DH 82 Tiger-Moth training at Airdrie Landing Ground beginning 18 June 1941. No. 31 EFTS moved to De Winton, Alberta, beginning 13 October 1941, and the main party arrived officially three days later. Airdrie Relief Landing Ground officially became the training field of No. 37 SFTS Calgary on 4 September 1941, with British built Airspeed Oxford twin-engine pilot training beginning 22 October 1941, consisting of 68 RAF pilot students in Course #31.

This cold flying shot was taken on opening day of No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, 22 October 1941. The RAF student pilot [LAC Gafney who took image] was being flown by his RAF instructor Reg Eastwood, in a DH 82 Tiger-Moth trainer aircraft from No. 31 EFTS at De Winton, Alberta, and they would be landing in a few minutes. Twenty-five British Twin-engine Airspeed Oxfords are parked on the first snow fall of the fast approaching Calgary winter. The Daily Diary records 8 hours flying time on 22 October, with RAF strength 51 Officers, 136 RAF Student bomber pilot trainees, and 1,044 other ranks of British training staff. RAF Officer’s and Oxford aircraft are still arriving on a daily basis, with 50 aircraft on strength, and by the end of the month, they completed 444 hrs. 55 min. flying training hours. The Relief Landing Ground at Airdrie, Alberta, had suddenly become a busy WWII British airport.

This is the normal “three corner” design of a WWII Relief Landing Ground of the British and RCAF Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This 1991 image was taken by WWII pilot Ernie Thompson showing the RAF Relief L.G. at [Big Bend] Innisfail, Alberta, used by student pilots from RAF No. 32 EFTS at Bowden. Relief Landing Grounds received a fair share of training accidents and loss of life during WWII training in Canada.

Crash image by Mr. George Frost, Chief RAF Aviation Engineer at No. 32 EFTS, Bowden, Alberta. This DH 82C Tiger Moth #5034 being flown by RAF student LAC Thomas Malan hit the power lines over the Town of Bowden on 27 May 1942, and the pilot survived. The man on right in white shirt with hands in pocket is the one and only Town Constable Ed Shenfield. Up to this point in his police career, he had only investigated, stolen horses, car accidents, and drunken Alberta farmers. That possibly explains the puzzled look on his face, what the hell should I do?

The RAF at Bowden picked their news magazine publication cover from Shakespeare – “Come the three corners of the world in arms” a dark period in England, when King John has been poisoned by a Monk. It also stood for the three corner runways of the training fields in Canada, very fitting.

A copy of the original Dutton Bros, ‘Three Corners” construction map created by the Department of Transportation in 1940. Obtained from Mrs. Gwen Conroy in 1991, at which time she was the property owner of the runway portion of the Airdrie Airport, and resided on her very own private airport.

In the spring of 1944, a south-bound American Douglas Digby lost an oil line over Olds, Alberta, then made a forced landing in the wet field just south-east of the Airdrie Relief Landing Ground. The RAF Airdrie Hangar can be seen on the left under the bomber wing. The American airmen [possibly pilot] in the bomber door has dropped his pants, and ‘moons’ the British camera.

Towed from the soft-wet ground by an RAF Cat Tractor, [seen above] the oil line was repaired and the Digby took off south for the United States. The old USAAF bomber had been serving in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the three corners of Airdrie, Alberta, had saved her return flight home.

This original 1940 constructed RAF Hangar survives 2019 [minus WWII control tower] which is still in private use, owned by a German who immigrated to Calgary, Alberta, in the 1960’s.
Airdrie Relief Landing Ground was constructed at elevation 3,602 ft. [1,098 m] and as you drive or fly directly east, the ground level slowly drops. Four miles directly east of the airport the ground suddenly drops 130 ft. and the lowest section contains a two to three-foot body of water which is one-half mile in length, running north to south. This body of water was never claimed by early western homesteaders, as no farmer wanted to pay taxes for a duck pond. Today it still remains Federal government property, [Crown Land] and for that reason the RAF in WWII decided this would make a very good bomb training range for low-flying aircraft.

This author image is looking directly east at the road located four miles east of the Airdrie airport, and this body of water marsh area contains tens-of-thousands of WWII British smoke bombs, some still unexploded ordnance. Farmer Harry Cromwell owned the surrounding farm land and lived on the far south section of land from the lake area. The lake had no official name, however the local Airdrie farmers called it Wood Lake, reason unknown. In January 1942, the RAF approached farmer Cromwell for permission to build two twenty-seven-foot bomb towers, which would be placed on the east and west side of Wood Lake, near the center of the body of water. In the center of the frozen lake they chipped rows of six holes in a square shape and them pile drove thirty-six half length telephone poles in each hole. Each telephone pole was then painted yellow and red in alternating colors, and this became the target for dropping training smoke bombs. On the assigned training day, the RAF placed one LAC student in each tower, and his duty was to point a gun sight device at the white smoke released where the bomb hit the water near the target. Then the number on a map were recorded and this was repeated again, and again, as each aircraft dropped its bombs. In the evening, the maps from were each tower were connected by drawing lines, which marked an “X” and the location each student bomb landed. A very simple, but effective way of giving each RAF student his bomb marks. The RAF called this training area “Wood Lake No. 1 Bombing Range” and it remained in use until 1946, used by the RCAF in the postwar era. The only known accident at the bomb range occurred on 26 October 1943, when RAF Harvard aircraft FE808 struck the centre of the target area with a wing, but made it safely back to base. Today this forgotten WWII bomb site is not even recorded as a government explosive ordnance site, so please use caution, if you are digging for war junk.
Author map showing location of RAF Wood Lake, No. 1 Bomb Range at Airdrie, Alberta.

Airdrie Relief L.G. bomb training is not recorded in the Daily Diary of No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, while farmer Cromwell believed it began in April 1942. RAF Calgary had a staff of 88 Officers, 1,168 airmen and 221 RAF bomber pilot trainees, with 98 Oxford aircraft on strength, 1 April 1942. Airspeed Oxford bomb training began 21 October 1941 and ceased 25 September 1942. By 28 September, 78 Oxford trainers had been flown to RAF No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and 100 Harvard trainers returned to Calgary by 30th of the month.

North American Aviation, Inc. [NAA] was a holding company for many aviation firms, which came together during the great depression, then General Motors obtained 29 percent of the shares in 1933, and decided to create General Aviation Corp. of NAA, located in the Curtiss-Caproni factory at Dundalk, Maryland. In 1934, General Aviation was renamed becoming the Aircraft Manufacturing Division of NAA, and from this came the prototype [future Harvard] aircraft, NA-16 the first of many. The first BT-9, flew on 15 April 1936, and a production line was set up in the new constructed plant at Inglewood, California. The first Harvard I, serial N7000 was built with British-specified equipment, and flew on 28 September 1938, wearing full British RAF markings. Witnessed by British representatives, the aircraft impressed and 200 aircraft were ordered for RAF training in U.K. Another 200 Harvard’s were ordered in January 1939, which were shipped without engines, assembled at a shadow factory RAF Shawbury, England. In April 1939, Canada ordered 30 Harvard I’s [NA-61] which were built for the RCAF, serial #1321 to #1350. The first three were delivered 20 July 1939, eleven in August, eight in November [Canada had declared war on Germany 10 September] and the last seven arrived at the Alberta border on 1 December 1939, serial #1344 to #1350.

This image appeared in the 11 December 1939 issue of American LIFE magazine, titled – BRITISH WARPLANES ARE TOWED ACROSS CANADIAN BORDER AT MONTANA “PORT OF EXIT.” This North American Harvard I is serial #1338, delivered to the RCAF in Alberta, [above] 21 November 1939. The aircraft flew at Camp Borden, Ontario, until 14 February 1945. Flying the last fifteen Harvard I’s to Canada proved to be a problem as the U.S. Neutrality Act prohibited the flying of aircraft to a Country at war. The Nov. & Dec. Harvard’s for the RCAF were flown to Sweetgrass, Montana, USA, landed at the border, and then pushed across to Alberta, [right side of fence wire in photo] then flown north to Calgary RCAF No. 3 SFTS at Currie Barracks.
From this point in time, [January 1940] the Harvard production line officially became the American AT-6 production line for the remainder of the war. Whatever you wish to call it – U.S. Navy J-Bird, Texan, AT-6, or British/Canadian Harvard, it soon earned the unofficial name “Pilot Maker” and the entire Allied war effort would depend on this single aircraft which produced tens of thousands of WWII combat pilots. The largest customer for the Harvard became the RCAF and the Royal Air Force training at their bases in western Canada. On 18 March 1941, the 1,000th Harvard II rolled off the production line in California, and it became the 570th to be flown directly to Canada. The ridiculous process of flying to the Canadian border had been dropped by the U.S. State Department and now direct flights were made to Canadian RCAF bases. For model builders or aviation painters, it is interesting to see the new Harvard II was painted in full British RAF markings on the NAA final production line at Inglewood, California. For flying in the United States the trainers still required U.S. national insignia under the wings, an unusual mix of fuselage British Roundel with American Star National wing markings.

Jeff Ethell collection 1983.

Harvard AJ987 never made It to Canada, one of two aircraft which crashed in California before delivery to RCAF. In the background is AJ986, flown to RAF No. 39 SFTS [Swift Current, Saskatchewan] and taken on charge 3 February 1942. This trainer had a Cat. C-5 crash on 18 March 1942, was repaired and became one of the [100] delivered to RAF No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, 30 September 1942. In the Royal Air Force, the American built AT-6C became known as the Harvard IIA. In January 1940, the Canadian government bought the rights to produce the AT-6A by Noorduyn Aviation Ltd. in Montreal, Quebec, and these Canadian constructed RAF Harvard’s became the British Harvard IIB trainer. Noorduyn Aviation would build 2,610 Harvard IIB trainers in Montreal, Canada, 1,500 were lend-lease for the RAF. Uncle Sam paid Canadians in Montreal to build the AT-6, then gave them to the British [Lend-Lease] to train pilots in RAF bases in Canada.
On 30 September 1942, one-hundred RAF Harvard II “Pilot Makers” returned to Calgary, Alberta, where the very first RCAF Harvard I, #1321, touched down on 20 July 1939.
By mid-January 1943, all the Airspeed Oxford trainers were gone from Calgary, aircraft strength 102 Harvard II’s and seven Avro Anson.

Part Two R.A.F. No. 37 SFTS Harvard Training follows.

No. 37 Service Flying Training School, Calgary, Alberta, – Part Two

RAF Flight of North American Harvard Mk. II trainers on delivery to No. 37 Service Flying Training School at Calgary, arriving over RAF No. 34 SFTS Medicine Hat, Alberta, where they landed for refueling. Date 25 to 27 September 1942. [RAF WWII Image]

On 21 September 1942, all North American Harvard Mk. II aircraft flying training ceased at No. 39 Service Flying Training School, Swift Current, Saskatchewan. In the next five days, One-Hundred Harvard aircraft, thirty-four RAF Harvard Flying Instructors, and a large number of RAF Ground Staff would be transferred to No. 37 S.F.T.S. at Calgary, Alberta. This large base transfer included four Senior RAF Officers, 62 Junior Officers, and 313 other British ranks, mostly Harvard trained ground crews. The one-hundred Harvard Mk. II aircraft flew west from RAF No. 39 SFTS to RAF No. 34 SFTS [refuel] then north to RAF No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta. The refueling arrival over Medicine Hat was captured on rare color film by an RAF flight member.

The new RAF administration staff at Calgary Headquarters were:
G/C J. B. Stockbridge, [C.O.] S/L G.S. M. Warlow, [S. Adjutant] F/L E.T. Hawley, [Admin. Officer] W/O R. H. Evans, [S. Warrant Officer] Sgt. D. Abery, Cpl. E.A. Palmer, LAC G. Wishart, LAC K. Jennings, AC1 G. Meakes, LAC E. Dickinson, Cpl. E.W. Bryant, LAC E.D.G. Crowe, LAC W. Goodlett, AC1 J. Coppock, LAC V. Gould, LAC P.G. Ross and LAC L. Calver.

The 34 RAF Harvard Flying Instructors, consisted of twenty-one officers, and thirteen NCO’s. The Flying Instructors were composed of four squadrons commanded by F/O R.H. Saxton, F/O E.O. Jones, W/O R.H. Evans, and F/Lt. Peter F. Middleton. [remember that last name] On 1 October 1942, RAF Calgary began training of British Fighter pilots in North American Harvard Mk. II aircraft, using Airdrie Relief Landing Ground. Seven Cat. “A” fatal crashes took place.

North American Harvard Mk. II T.O.S. RCAF Taken Off Strength by RCAF
The dates shown are for RCAF Harvard aircraft Taken on Strength and shortly after they were delivered to RAF No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Sask., which opened on 5 December 1941. All of these one-hundred Harvard MK. II’s were delivered to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, by 30 September 1942. All Oxford aircraft were gone from Calgary mid-January 1943.
2566 23 Sept. 1940 18 Oct. 1960
2586 4 Oct. 40 15 Jan. 1947
2631 26 Oct. 40 1 Dec. 1943, Cat. “A” 21 Oct. 43
2698 2 Dec. 40 1 Oct. 1946
2726 20 Dec. 40 18 Oct. 1960
2937 5 Mar. 41 31 Aug. 1946
3274 2 Feb. 42 4 Dec. 1946
3278 9 Feb. 42 7 Nov. 1957
AJ582 29 July 41 14 Mar. 1945
AJ583 [#46] 29 July 41 21 Jun. 1960
AJ723 9 Sept. 41 21 Oct. 1957
AJ753 16 Sept. 41 21 Oct. 1957
AJ758 16 Oct. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ759 16 Oct. 41 2 Mar. 1943, Cat. “A” 10 Dec. 42

Airdrie Relief L. G. claimed the first qualified Flight Commander F/Lt. E.G. Ford #81636 and his pupil from No. 70 Course, when Harvard AJ759 stalled just after take off.

Recovery of RAF Harvard Mk. II serial AJ759, 10 December 1942.

AJ760 [#73] 16 Oct. 41 23 Oct. 1946
AJ762 16 Oct. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ766 16 Oct. 41 4 Feb. 1943
AJ793 16 Oct. 4 24 Apr. 1944
AJ795 16 Oct. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ796 16 Oct. 41 24 Sept. 43, Cat. “A” 28 Aug. 43

AJ798 16 Oct. 41 27 Nov. 1958
AJ799 [#87] 16 Oct. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ824 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ825 11 Nov. 41 24 Nov. 1946
AJ827 14 Oct. 41 23 Jan. 1946
AJ830 29 Oct. 41 16 Apr. 1945
AJ833 16 Oct. 41 1 Oct. 1945
AJ834 16 Oct. 41 9 Mar. 1945
AJ835 [#91] 16 Oct. 41 21 Oct. 1945
AJ836 16 Oct. 41 12 Mar. 1945
AJ847 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ848 3 Nov. 41 11 Mar. 1958
AJ849 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ850 11 Nov. 41 9 Jun. 1946
AJ851 3 Nov. 41 26 Nov. 1945
AJ852 4 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ853 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ854 3 Nov. 41 12 Mar. 43, Cat. “A” 15 Dec. 43
AJ893 30 Dec 41 5 Sept. 1946
AJ894 11 Nov. 41 29 Sept. 43, Cat. “A” 4 Aug. 43
AJ896 11 Nov. 41 10 Nov. 1945
AJ897 11 Nov. 41 21 Oct. 1945
AJ898 11 Nov. 41 2 Mar. 1943
AJ899 11 Nov. 41 16 Feb. 1944
AJ900 [#21] 11 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ901 11 Nov. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ902 11 Nov. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ903 26 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ905 26 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ906 26 Nov. 41 6 Nov. 1946
AJ908 26 Nov. 41 27 Oct. 1955
AJ909 26 Nov. 41 9 Mar. 1945
AJ910 27 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ912 26 Nov. 41 11 Mar. 1943, Cat. “C” 22 Jun. 42
AJ913 26 Mar. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ914 26 Nov. 41 22 Dec. 1954
AJ915 27 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1945
AJ917 27 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ920 26 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ921 26 Nov. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ927 30 Dec. 41 29 may 1944
AJ930 [#39] 26 Mar. 42 4 Dec. 1946
AJ948 17 Jan. 42 22 Feb. 1945
AJ949 14 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ951 19 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ954 9 Feb. 42 1 Nov. 1960
AJ955 21 Feb. 42 23 May 1945
AJ956 22 Jan. 42 20 Sept. 43, Cat. “A” 8 Aug. 43
AJ957 14 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ958 17 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ960 14 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ961 17 Jan. 42 4 Dec. 1946
AJ962 14 Jan. 42 22 Dec. 1954
AJ963 17 Jan. 42 18 Oct. 1960
AJ964 14 Jan. 42 4 Dec. 1960
AJ965 17 Jan. 42 7 Dec. 1950
AJ966 14 Jan. 42 16 Feb. 1944
AJ967 14 Jan. 42 9 Mar. 1945
AJ968 14 Jan. 42 1 Nov. 1946
AJ970 14 Jan. 42 7 Nov. 1957
AJ971 14 Jan. 42 25 May 1951
AJ973 14 Jan. 41 11 Mar. 1946
AJ974 17 Jan. 42 21 Jun. 1955
AJ975 17 Jan. 42 18 Sept. 1947
AJ976 17 Jan. 42 18 Oct. 1960
AJ977 17 Jan. 42 3 Nov. 1950
AJ978 17 Jan. 42 5 Aug. 1948
AJ979 17 Jan. 42 11 Mar. 1946
AJ980 17 Jan. 42 11 Mar. 1946
AJ983 6 Feb. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ984 9 Feb. 42 14 Dec. 1960
AJ986 3 Feb. 42 6 July 1955
BW204 [#100] 14 May 42 2 Feb. 1946
FE405 5 Aug. 42 2 Oct. 1946
FE406 5 Aug. 42 15 Jan. 1947
FE407 5 Aug. 42 12 Nov. 1946
FE408 5 Aug. 42 2 Oct. 1946
FE409 5 Aug. 42 2 Oct. 1946
FE411 5 Aug. 42 20 Aug 43, Cat. “A” 6 Jun. 43
FE808 7 Feb. 43 2 Oct. 1946
FE824 9 Feb. 42 2 Oct. 1946

North American Harvard Mk. II pilot training began at Calgary/Airdrie on 1 October 1942. Today it is hard to believe this RAF training was done by hand signals, without the benefit of aircraft radios for air-to-air communications.

To the west of Calgary were the foothills and towering Rocky Mountains to explore, and to the east the flat prairie and desolate Red Deer River badlands to Drumheller.

On 30 June 1942, the original part one of the BCATP was terminated and phase two began dated 1 July 1942 until 31 March 1945. This became a turning point in the history of the BCATP with many major changes related to a large expansion for RAF’s Bomber Command. In England, RCAF and RCAF squadrons were being equipped with four-engine Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster bombers and aircrew training numbers must increase. In January 1943, total aircrew production in Canada was 39,354 compared to 19,423 in all other Dominions, Canada was training 45 per cent of all Commonwealth aircrew. This would increase as RAF schools were enlarged and began training students from Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Free French, Holland, and Norway. In August 1942, five new buildings, [red] were constructed for increased training [including Wood Lake Bomb Range] at Relief Landing Ground RAF Airdrie. A large percentage of these graduating students became RAF Mosquito Fighter/Bomber pilots.

The original RAF administration building constructed in summer 1942, is still in use today, the left section in original WWII condition, used for storage.

Inside the original WWII RAF 1942 administration building, Airdrie, Alberta.

The location where the first [1940] RAF H-Hut building once stood.

This is the original 1940 constructed RAF Motor Transport building, located at the entrance to the main gate. This is where the 1941 Ford [Marmon-Herrington] 6X6 crash fire truck, medical ambulance, [RCAF 30-632] Dodge Station Wagon Transport vehicle [RCAF 31-162] Crash Tender Recovery Truck, [RCAF 33-741] RCAF Tractor [20-247 CL] refuelling tender [RCAF 34-276] and mobile radio control tower vehicle [RCAF 31-129] were parked and maintained for over three years. These emergency vehicles were on 24-hour standby during night and day flying training at Airdrie landing ground. The right side building addition was constructed in August 1942, for increased vehicle space.

The RAF Airdrie Relief L.G. 1941 fire-crash truck, [Marmon-Herrington Ford 6X6] aircraft fire-rescue suit, and the mobile radio control tower truck, RCAF #31-129 with wind sock. The mobile radio tower vehicle was painted bright yellow, with complete top a bright red, with a large white letter “T” painted on roof for trainee pilots to see. Image taken in front of hangar doors, east side of building summer 1943.

RAF Medical Officer “Doc” Al Walton beside ambulance and mobile radio control tower truck.

The RAF mobile control tower airmen sending lamp signals to the Harvard pilots, [no aircraft radios] with the Airdrie hangar and main control tower in the background. The bright red painted roof clearly shows in this image. RCAF and serial number 31-129 in black are stenciled on yellow driver/passenger doors.

RAF Doc Walton [left] and “Meathead” RAF Service Police Sgt. Crawford, south side of hangar, summer 1943. The Air Force Police Sgt. wears an RCAF Sweat-Shirt, lettered North Atlantic Squadron. The Airdrie L.G. Camp Commander was F/Lt. F.R. Britton.

14 November 1942, Harvard AJ758 nosed-over at Airdrie, pilot LAC F.S.T. Chesterfield. Night landings were made by coal oil goose-necked flare pots which were spaced beside the runways.

Cartoons can become real, mopping hangar floor 1943. The same Airdrie hangar floor today.

RAF 1942-44 Practice Smoke Bomb Loading Range Airdrie, Alberta.

In August 1942, the RAF began construction of three concrete buildings for the purpose of storage and arming of RCAF 25-pound white smoke practice bombs. This original construction bomb-assembly building blue-print copied from Mrs. Gwen Conroy collection 1991.

Bomb building #6 contained the gun powder, building #7 contained the 25 lb unarmed smoke bombs, and the third building was where RAF ground crew members primed the smoke bombs, [seen above]. Four smoke bombes were then attached under each wing of the Harvard II trainer and the training could begin. I believe this bomb dropping course lasted one week but no records can be found. The RAF total inventory, unused bombs, and student records were ordered buried on the airport property in April 1944, by the British rear party before they departed for U.K. That’s another story of time capsule war junk.

When each No. 37 SFTS Course graduated and their new pilots received their wings, these pilots had also qualified in a one-week bomb training at Airdrie Wood Lake No. 1 Bombing Range. The RAF Harvard carried four 25 lb. smoke bombs under each wing, as seen in above photo taken at Airdrie in early January 1944. These are seven RAF members of Course #90 which began with 59 students on 20 September 1943, graduated 56 new fighter pilots on 14 January 1944. The Course had twenty-seven members of RAF, six from R.A.A.F. and twenty-three from R.N.Z.A.F. The course lasted 117 days in which 113 days permitted full pupil flying conditions, class rated Average, discipline Very Good. Thirty-four pilot cadets received over 70% in their final graduation marks. RAF cadet 51513 P/O J. Brown was killed in flying accident 26 November 1943. 1314739 LAC R.W.G. Sadler failed due to medical reasons. 1604059 LAC R.L. Mitchell failed due to being mentally unsuitable, bad temper. 1624942 LAC G. Bradley and 1582558 LAC D.B. Holland both failed due to lack of natural flying ability. Fourteen of the new pilots were granted officer commissions with all [except six] posted back to home country, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Six students were selected for Flying Instructor Training [top course marks] and remained in Canada posted to No. 1 Flying Instructor School, Trenton, Ontario. Each student pilot made four flights over the Airdrie bomb range at Wood Lake, dropping two smoke bombs on each pass. That means this course dropped at least 448 smoke bombs in Wood Lake, where they remain today, beside a few unexploded ordnances.

One rare photo taken from the mobile radio control tower vehicle showing a Harvard taking off and the three cement bomb storage/assembly buildings on the right of the aircraft.

This unknown British/Australian/New Zealand RAF future fighter pilot has dropped all his eight smoke bombs and now for a little aviation fun. What an impressive photo that needs no words, taken in late 1943 or early January 1944, over Wood Lake No. 1 Bomb Range Airdrie, Alberta. Pilot graduates RAF 17,796 – RAAF 4,045 – RNZAF 2,220 and most earned their Wings over southern Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

The WWII RCAF and RAF practice smoke bombs which were used at Wood Lake, Airdrie, Bombing Range, 1942-46. When the RAF left on 10 March 1944, the RCAF moved in and continued to use the bomb range until late 1946. After release from the Harvard aircraft the 25 lb. bomb striker head would hit the water or ground causing the striker rod to be driven back igniting the gun powder which gave off a large white smoke. The smoke travelled up the round tail tube showing the location the bomb landed. These bombs were painted solid white, and some had red rings painted on round shaped tail fin or rear section of the bomb casing. It is estimated over 10,000 of these smoke bombs remain in Wood Lake, Airdrie, today, some still armed and dangerous.

Each evening the RAF instructors aligned the recorded map numbers and drew two lines which made an X on the location the bomb was dropped. This very simple bomb record was the modern computer for the war years [1942-44] at Airdrie, Alberta, Wood Lake Bomb Range.
The two RAF constructed bomb towers base measured twelve feet wide at front and back, the sides measured thirteen feet in width. The structure was twenty-seven feet high in the middle with a roof that sloped down four feet on each side. The front side facing the lake contained three joined windows, ten feet width by four feet high, located on the second floor, which was reached by a single set of stairs running up the inside rear wall of the building. The two side walls each contained a four foot by five-foot window, on the second floor, allowing the airmen to look left or right to observed the arriving Harvard aircraft. The right side on the main floor wall contained a single seven and one half-foot high door for entering the building. The front of the building main floor contained a small hatch door which only opened outwards, locked from the inside. The rear wall of the structure contained no openings, doors, or windows.

This RAF tower was used by the RCAF from April 1944 until the fall of 1946. Farmer Harry Cromwell then purchased the tower from the RCAF for $125.00, pulling it by his tractor to his farm property, where it was placed over his water well. Seventy-three years later this WWII RAF Airdrie Bomb tower survives and it is still being occupied. The far right wall is today [2019] home to wild honey bees, who have taken over the space between the walls. This is possibly the only surviving original RAF WWII aircraft bombing range observation building in Canada. Nobody cares, and no Canadian Museum wishes to preserve RAF bomb range history.

By July 1942, the Canadian aviation industry still struggled to get the Avro Anson II into full production, with most of these new aircraft were assigned to pilot training schools, the navigator training schools continued to fly the ancient Mk. I, III, and IV aircraft. In early October 1942, No. 37 SFTS RAF Calgary received on strength six new RCAF Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft [three more arrived in November 42] for navigational student pilot training, and staff transportation. On average only six or seven Anson’s were serviceable per training day.

Anson #11300 28 Dec. 1940 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 18 May 43. Off strength 17 Aug. 1946 – 406:15 Hrs. flying time.
Anson 7402 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 13 Feb. 45, Off strength 10 May 1945.
Anson 7403 11 May 1942 Calgary 25 Sept. 42, Off strength 14 May 1947.
Anson 7404 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 20 May 43, Off strength 15 Jan. 1947.
Anson 7405 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 1 June 43, Off strength 17 Aug. 1946.
Anson 7407 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident Calgary 10 Dec. 42, crashed Vulcan 9 Jan. 45, 439:15 hrs. Off strength 22 Feb. 45.
Anson 7409 12 May 1942 Calgary Nov. 42, Night crash 30 Nov. 1943, Off strength 16 Aug. 1946.
Anson 7410 12 May 1942 Calgary Nov. 42, accident 10 June 43, Off strength 27 Jan. 1947
Anson 7411 12 May 1942 Calgary Nov. 42, accident burst tire 13 June 1943, Off strength 12 Nov. 1946.

The RCAF Anson II had cabin heating, a square astrodome fitted with heat jets, and two navigator desks with a complete set of instruments. This allowed for training of four students on each flight, as noted above in Daily Diary Anson serial 7411 crash report. Below is a nice flying shot of Avro Anson 7411 in the farm country around Airdrie, Alberta, fall of 1943. This also records the correct RAF roundel wing markings locations used at RAF Calgary, Alberta.

Permanent RAF Staff Officers’ and NCO’s at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, October 1942.

P/O Baker, F/O Bates, S/L Best, W/C Blake, F/O Booth, P/O Bower, Sgt. R.N.G. Bray, F/O Bromfield, P/O Brown, F/O John Brown [killed 24 Nov. 43] F/O Bryant, F/O Casley, F/O A. S. Carter, F/O O.S.D. Carter, F/O A. Chadwick, F/O F.F. Clarke, F/L Clelland, F/O Cooper, P/O P.D. Corlette [killed 7 Jan. 43] P/O Darke, S/L Davies, F/O Deane, F/O De Verteuil, F/Lt. E.G. Ford [killed 10 Dec. 42] F/O Gale, F/O Greig, P/O M.J. Gubbims, F/O Hames, W/C Hancockes, F/O Hicks, S/L Jackson, F/O Jeffery, F/L E.O. Jones, F/L H. B. Jones, P/O Jackson, F/L Korer, P/O Lattin, F/O Leeming, F/L Luck, F/L Mason, F/O Maxwell, F/L McArdle, F/Lt. I.F. McDermott, F/O McKelvey, Sgt. G.F. Lambert, F/L Peter Middleton, F/L M. V. Morgan, F/O Morgan, F/O Muirhead, F/L North, F/O Norminton, P/O Offen, F/O Osborne, F/L Ossulston, P/O Passey, S/L Palmer, F/O A.I. Philips [killed 12 Oct. 42] P/O Potter, P/O Ray, S/L Reuss, P/O Ridgeway, F/Sgt. K.W. Rosewell [ killed 8 Jan. 44] F/L Ross, F/L Samuel, F/O Saward, F//O Saxton, F/L Scott, F/O Seldon, P/O Severn, P/O Stephens, G/C J. B. Stockbridge, F/O Smalley, Sgt. S.D. Timms, P/O Walkden, S/L Warlow, F/L Werner, F/L Wheeler, F/O J.K. Williams, and F/L Wright. Thirty-four of these seventy-nine RAF officers and NCO’s were Harvard II aircraft Flying Instructors.

The majority of these British Harvard II Flying Instructors remained at Calgary until closing 10 March 1944. The Flying Instructors of the BCATP [both RCAF and RAF], were the unsung heroes of the Second World War, chosen from the best pilots of their class and not always keen for their frustrating and often dangerous student training job. They received eight weeks special training and were rated in four main categories: A1, granted to only the most experienced instructor with exceptional flying ability. A2, was for a very good instructor, B1 and B2 was awarded to an outstanding or more capable flying instructor.

Peter Francis Middleton was born at West Yorkshire, England, 3 September 1920, joined the RAF in 1940, and became a flying Instructor the following May 1941. I do not know his rating, possibly one of the few A1 instructors. Posted to Canada RAF No. 39 SFTS, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, promoted to F/Lt. 9 March 1942. Arrived RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, 28 September 1942. F/Lt. Peter Middleton led the RAF student/pilots from course No. 80 [60 students began 3 May 1943] and No. 82 [68 students began 1 June 1943] in the official 58th opening parade of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, 5 July 1943. I feel he was selected by his Commanding Officer [Group/Captain D. Iron, O.B.E.] for his special Flying Instructor leadership abilities.

Many RAF WWII parade images are preserved in the archives of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede; however, the author cannot afford the cost for long-time usage on my free Preserving the Past Aviation Blog site.

Sixty-eight years passed before a small forgotten part of RAF history would repeat itself at the Calgary Stampede Parade, 8 July 2011. A most gorgeous Royal British [cow-girl] watched the Calgary Stampede Parade, seated beside her new RAF helicopter pilot husband Prince William, known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine [Kate] Middleton was the granddaughter of F/Lt. Peter Francis Middleton. On this same spot in July 1943, a young RAF Flying Instructor Peter Middleton led 128 British student Harvard fighter pilots on their one and only appearance in the Calgary Stampede. Twenty-two Australians led the first RAF July 1942 Stampede parade. F/Lt. Middleton departed Calgary at 19:00 hrs, 10 March 1944, on a special CPR officers train headed for eastern Canada, and back to U.K., where he flew de Havilland Mosquito Mk. VI aircraft with No. 605 Squadron at Manston, Kent, England. Capt. Middleton flew postwar with British European Airways, and much more family history can be found on the internet. Capt. Middleton [90 years] passed away 2 November 2010.
In learning to fly the Harvard the RAF student pilot made a great jump from the RCAF Tiger Moth or American PT-27 Stearman [March to November 1942] aircraft they flew around 70 hours as an elementary trainer.

The RAF service flying schools were equipped with a Harvard cockpit drill trainer, such as above taken at RAF No. 34 SFTS Medicine Hat, Alberta, December 1943. [PMR 81-138 Ottawa] This was where the students began by making themselves familiar with the layout and many functions of instruments and controls in the new Harvard cockpit. Next came four hours of dual instruction and the pre-take-off drill which had to be memorized perfectly, H-Harness/Hatches, T-Trim, M-Mixture, P-Pitch [prop], F-Flaps, C-Carb/heat, G-Gas, and S-Switches. After three or four flights the Flying Instructor decided when the student was ready to make his first solo flight and take full control of the tremendous 600 h.p. Pratt and Whitney Wasp engine. A few good RAF students never returned from their first solo flight. Harvard manoeuvres were repeated again and again until the student obtained a degree of proficiency, then he was slowly given more freedom and encouraged to get the best performance out of the massive, heavy, rugged, Harvard II trainer. Cross-country flights by day and night raised the discomforting thought of engine failure and a forced landing in an inhospitable section of vast farm and ranch lands in Western Canada. As the weeks passed the RAF students gained confidence and experience and now two-hour sessions of aerobatics were introduced. The night landing flights were very primitive by todays standard, as simple coal oil goose necked flares lined the runway, smoking and flickering for the returning pilots. With all these hurdles and obstacles safely passed, graduation day arrived and the proud pilots received their coveted Wings. The American Harvard trainer aircraft truly earned the title “Pilot Maker.”
The above history came from letters and phone calls received from Archie M. Pennie a British pilot who trained in Harvard’s at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, beginning 7 December 1942. Archie took his basic RAF training at Heaton Park, Manchester, England, and sailed for Canada on the troopship H.M.T. Letitia, arriving at Halifax in early August 1942. He still had his RAF ship pass which read – “C” Deck, Mess #21, Hammock #86. At RAF No. 31 Personnel Depot, Moncton, New Brunswick, LAC A.M. Pennie was assigned training at No. 32 EFTS Bowden, Alberta, and after five days on a train, arrived at Bowden, which was in full prairie harvest mode. He joined 61 other students in Course #64, beginning 14 September 1942. At the elementary flying training school student pilots came face to face with their first aeroplane and the RAF instructor who would teach them how to fly it. Due to a shortage of Tiger-Moth Trainers, No. 32 EFTS at Bowden flew sixty-six American PT-27 Stearman biplane aircraft from April to 14 November 1942, and LAC Pennie was a member of the last RAF course to train in these freezing open cockpit biplane aircraft. RAF personnel had flown to the Stearman Aircraft Company, at Wichita, Kansas, on 17 October 1941, and ordered 300 American biplane trainers [lend-lease] which were designated PT-27 for the British. The first PT-27 arrived at No. 32 EFTS Bowden on 2 March 1942, and all of these aircraft would be modified to Canadian weather conditions in the following months. The pilot canopy modification and cockpit heating system never arrived from Wichita, and all open cockpit training was halted by the RAF on 14 November 1942. The 60 British pilots in Course #64 were issued with leather face masks, which they wore to complete their flying training in the freezing skies around Bowden. On 28 November 1942, the British RAF made the decision to return the remaining PT-27 open cockpit trainers [287 survived] to Great Falls, Montana, in the coldest months of Alberta winter weather. RAF Course #64 graduated 54 student pilots on 6 November 1942, one was killed in training, and seven failed the course. Thirty-five RAF students were posted to RAF No. 36 SFTS at Penhold, for bomber pilot training in Airspeed Oxfords, while the remaining nineteen were posted to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary for fighter pilot training in the Harvard II trainer. Archie Pennie was one of the nineteen students selected for pilot training at Calgary, and each of these student pilots were ordered to fly a Stearman PT-27 trainer from Bowden to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary on 6 December 1942.

LAC Archie Pennie stands beside an American PT-27 at No. 32 EFTS Bowden, Alberta, 6 December 1942. In a few minutes [the engine is running] he will put on his leather face mask and fly this open cockpit trainer to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, the outside air temperature is -50 degrees F. LAC Pennie will begin fighter pilot training in the Harvard II at Calgary, Alberta, the following day, Course #70, with 64 pupils, another twelve will be added during the training, two will be killed in flying training accidents.
Flying Students at Calgary shared a small room with a double bunk bed, and Archie described his upper bunkmate as a nineteen-year-old, very keen, bright-eyed lad, quick to learn. On 7 January 1943, LAC A. Leder # 1397463 [Pennie’s bunkmate] and his RAF flying instructor P/O P.D. Corlett were flying two-and one-half miles east of Conrich, Alberta, when they collided with another Harvard flown by a pupil from course #68, LAC D.A. McAuley. The two aircraft AJ912 and AJ953 were destroyed and three members of No. 37 SFTS were killed instantly.

Archie Pennie graduated on 2 April 1943, received his wings, was promoted to F/Lt. and selected for Flying Instructor training in Canada. In April 2010, I donated all of my RAF Bowden research, photos, and letters from F/Lt. Archie Pennie to Dave O’Malley of Vintage Wings in Ottawa. Please go to Vintage Wings of Canada to read three excellent stories on this WWII RAF Flying Instructor [night] P/O Archie M. Pennie #157698, who flew 252 hrs, training RAF students in night flying, No. 34 EFTS, RAF Assiniboia, Saskatchewan. Canada provided a safe training site for the British students, an abundance of healthy food, bright lights for study and entertainment, and as would be expected, many fell in love with Canadian girls and married. The normal training time spent in Canada averaged around eighteen months and a staff posting lasted two years. Generally, most of the RAF student trainees looked forward to receiving their wings and then returning to the United Kingdom, where over half would be killed in flying accidents or WWII combat. A large number of RAF airman who survived the war returned to Canada, and I have interviewed a few in southern Alberta. Archie Pennie returned to eastern Canada after the war, married and resided in Ottawa, for the rest of his life.
No. 34 RAF Assiniboia, Sask., closed 30 January 1944, taken over by RCAF and re-designated No. 25 EFTS, closing for good 28 July 1944. In 1958, Archie Pennie returned to visit his old RAF base and it was totally gone. On 18 March 1959, he published his story “Assiniboia Revisited.”

Archie was very proud to know his old training base at Airdrie, Alberta, had somehow survived the passage of time, also troubled by the fact WWII RAF history of Calgary, Alberta, was not being preserved by the old Aero space Museum of Calgary.
Nineteen single-engine Harvard II pilot training courses were held at No. 37 SFTS Calgary
Course #60 [students were in Harvard II aircraft mid-training when they arrived at Calgary 25 September 1942] seven failed, graduated 57 pilots, 6 November 1942.
Course #62 [in training when they arrived Calgary] five killed in October 42, LAC Darling, LAC Buckley, F/O A.I. Philips, F/Sgt. R.F. Warner, and LAC H.C. Cormack, graduated 53 pilots, 5 December 42.
Course #64 graduated 51 pilots, seven failed, 30 December 1942.
Course #66 graduated 56 pilots, two failed, 5 February 1943.
Course #68 began 9 Nov. 42, graduated 54, six failed, 5 March 1943.
Course #70 began 7 Dec. 42, graduated 56, two ceased training, two killed, 2 April 1943.
Course #72 began graduated 60 pilots, six failed, one killed, 30 April 1943.
Course #74 began 8 Feb. 43, graduated 55 pilots, one ceased training, 28 May 1943.
Course #76 began 8 Mar. 43, 63 pupils, 34 failed medical reasons, 25 transferred to Course #78, six posted away, graduated 35 pilots, 25 June 1943.
Course #78 began 5 April 43, 31 transferred to Course #80, graduated 55 pilots, 23 July 1943.
Course #80 began 3 May 1943, one killed, five discontinued training, graduated 55 pilots [45 RAF], 20 Aug. 1943.
Course #82 began 1 June 1943, one killed, twelve discontinued training, graduated 53 pilots, [first class of all RAF Sergeants], 17 Sept. 1943.
Course #84 began with 55 pupils 28 June 1943, one killed, three discontinued training, graduated 46 pilots, 15 October 1943.
Course #86 began 60 pupils 26 July 1943, graduated 60 pilots, 12 Nov. 1943.
Course #88 began 23 Aug. 1943, 62 trainees, one killed 51513 P/O John Brown 24 Nov. 43, four failed, graduated 56 pilots, 10 December 1943.
Course #90 graduated 56 pilots, 14 January 1944. This course consisted of twenty-seven RAF, six RAAF, and twenty-three RNZAF.

At the request of the British government, Canada allowed their RAF schools to be the first closed. This British closure began with RAF No. 41 SFTS Weyburn, Saskatchewan, which officially closed on 22 January 1944. Their last two courses totaling 117 students in training, were transferred to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, where they graduated 105 pilots. No. 41 SFTS had received 1,425 students for instruction in twenty-five courses, graduating 1,036 Harvard II pilots, for return to wartime England. Over half will be killed in action.

Course #92 at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, [This course with 61 pupils was posted from No. 41 SFTS Weyburn, Saskatchewan, on 15 January 1944]. They graduated 52 pilots at Calgary, 11 February 1944.
Course #94 at Calgary contained two groups of students. Course #94A began 15 November 1943, with 69 students, 64 graduated on 10 March 1944, one RCAF, thirty-four RAF, one RAAF, and twenty-eight RNZAF, four students were wastage and transferred out, New Zealand student LAC W.D. Shaw was killed 31 December 1944. This became the last RAF fatal flying training accident at No. 37 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, during WWII.

No. 94B Course graduated the last 53 pilots from No. 41 SFTS Weyburn, Sask. 10 March 1944. This became the very last graduation course at No. 37 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, and the last Wings Parade at the Drill Hall, today home of the new Flight Hangar Museum of Calgary. It is a pity, each new generation of Calgary citizens can party and dine in this very same space, where 1,535 pilots [Australian, New Zealand, and British] received their wings, yet there is no memorial to their sacrifice.

Nineteen RAF Harvard II [fighter] pilot courses were completed at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, 1 October 1942 until 10 March 1944, with 1,150 RAF students receiving their Wings. Calgary averaged a graduation of 60 students per Harvard II course, plus first graduated a further 385 twin-engine Airspeed Oxford bomber pilots for England. That’s 1,535 RAF pilots [including Australian and New Zealand students] who returned to United Kingdom to fight Nazi Germany.
On 10 March 1944, two special CPR trains departed Calgary for Halifax, Nova Scotia, the beginning of their return trip home across the sea. The first train with NCO’s, ground crews, and airmen, departed Calgary at 19:00 hrs, the second train with RAF Officers, and Station Commander Group Capt. J.B. Stockbridge and family departed Calgary CPR main station at 20:00 hrs.

This forgotten plot of land in Calgary will forever be a part small part of RAF Britain.

Thirty members of RAF No. 37 SFTS were killed in southern Alberta, Canada, and they rest in Burnsland Cemetery, where the Union Jack flag flies. Twenty-seven were killed in aircraft training, [one student from New Zealand and twenty-six British], twenty were killed flying the Harvard II, while one walked into a spinning Harvard propeller.
LAC John Broadhurst #573151 Killed 8 January 1944, Harvard AJ889, Drumheller, AB. Last member killed at Calgary.
P/O J. A. Brown #51513 Killed 24 November 1943, Harvard 2739 mid-air with Harvard 2566.
LAC Cornelius C. Buckley 15396504 Killed 5 October 1942, Harvard AJ836.
F/O G.A. Clegg Killed 7 January 1943, Harvard AJ953.
P/O Peter D. Corlett Killed 7 January 1943, Harvard AJ953.
Cpl. C.A. Crapper Died natural causes, 11 March 1942.
LAC Hubert C. Cromack 1125880 Killed 12 October 1942, Harvard AJ854.
LAC John C. Darling 1560163 Killed 5 October 1942, walked into Harvard Propeller.
LAC Edward C. Dunbavard 1218546 Killed 14 January 1942, Oxford AS382.
LAC Mosttn V. Eckert 1350866 Killed 28 August 1942, Harvard 8127.
F/Lt. E.G. Ford #81636 Killed 10 December 1942, Harvard AJ759.
LAC H.N. Hall #1512542 Killed 10 December 1942, Harvard AJ759.
AC1 L.A. Keeble #1426377 Fell out of boat, 17 July 43, in [ice cold] Bow River at Banff, body recovered 8 August 1943.
LAC A. Leder #1397463 Killed 7 January 1943, Course 70, Harvard AJ953.
Sgt. Charles A. Lockett #988641 Killed 12 October 1943, Harvard 2631.
LAC Jack Major #1339948 Killed 28 August 1943, Harvard AJ796.
AC1 N.J. Mann #1234015 Died from auto accident, Airdrie, blizzard 6 February 1943.
LAC Henry T. McCarthy 656512 Killed 10 December 1941, Oxford AT457.
LAC D.A. McAuley #1483473 Killed 7 January 1943, Harvard AJ953.
LAC James McNaught #1566353 Killed 5 March 1943, Harvard AJ986, mid-air, student bailed out. Too low, hit ground before parachute opened. The Flying Instructor safely landed the damaged Harvard back at base.
LAC Laurence R. Nimmo 1389540 Killed 14 August 1942, Oxford AS666.
F/O Anthony Phelps Killed 12 October 1942, Harvard AJ898.
Sgt. Kenneth H. Rosewell #1586791 Killed 8 January 1944, Harvard AJ889, crashed Red Deer, River, Drumheller, Alberta. Second last member killed at Calgary.
LAC J.G. Rynn #1459936 Killed 12 October 1943, night flight Harvard 2631. Ex-Scottish Army Major who transferred to RAF.
LAC William D. Shaw NZ4216082 Killed 31 December 1943, Harvard AJ966.
F/O Iain A.L. Stewart #49623 Killed 1 August 1943, Harvard AJ894.
LAC W.I. Stonebridge 1331534 Killed 10 August 1942, Oxford AS610.
LAC Ernest C. Thomson #1387318 Killed 5 December 1941, Oxford AS365. First student pilot killed at Calgary.
F/Lt. Robert F. Warner Killed 12 October 1942, Harvard AJ898.
LAC William J. Webb 1331223 Killed 14 August 1942, Oxford BM810.

The Death of Daisy

Another amazing research done by Clarence Simonsen.

The Death of Daisy


My history on Lancaster KB882 is being published in an attempt to educate the average Canadian public to what the RCAF has done at Trenton, Ontario. It will not make any difference, but just maybe a few relatives from the aircrew who flew KB882 in WWII can read her rare aviation past. Unlike our present day RCAF Senior Officers, I will never forget our RCAF veterans who flew and died in ‘our’ Lancaster Mk. X bombers over the bloody skies of Europe. It is becoming increasingly harder for a new generation of Canadians, and new immigrants to understand what took place during WWII, if our aviation museums do not paint our aircraft correctly, and fail to educate with the truth, Canadians may never understand.

Below is the text version (no images) to enable a search on search engines.

 The Death of “Daisy”

Daisy was born 15 September 1930, in the brain of cartoonist Murat “Chic” Young, when he created a new comic strip called “Blondie.” A cute and very vivacious American blonde lady falls in love with an average guy named Dagwood Bumstead, described as a scamp, a bit lazy, and not that smart. Dagwood is heir to his billionair father’s estate, but the father objected to his marriage to flapper [dancer] Blondie. The marriage took place on 12 February 1933, and the new couple were cut out of the will, without a penny from his father’s locomotive company fortune. They settled in the suburbs of Joplin, Missouri, and the strip contines today appearing in over 2,000 newspapers, 47 countries, and 35 different languages. For this computer age you can go online and enjoy the most widly syndicated comic strip ever. You will find the essential ingredient for the world-wide success of Blondie is the fact it deals with daily family problems, is kept very simple, and yes it is still funny.

Chic Young’s most enduring contribution to American and Canadian culture became the famous “Dagwood Sandwich” a mind-boggling concoction which evolved into today’s submarine sandwich. In 1974, Chic was interviewed and explained he never used politics, religion, liquor, cigarettes, divorce, sickness, racial objects, or any unpleasent subject in his strip. He was careful not to offend anyone, hurt no group, and while the original concept was an average American family life style, it soon appealed to families around the world. The humor has been described as warm, outlandish, slapstick, yet very sentimental. Mankind can still learn a lot from Blondie today. During World War Two, the American women took a much more forceful role in society and this was soon reflected in the comics. Blondie remained the strong-willed, dominant force, but changed into less of a vixen, while Dagwood took more of a male role, less fearful of the war problems. A generation of American teens and yes, Canadians, had grown up reading Blondie and this would inspire the use of the characters as aircraft nose art. The cartoon surname Bumstead, and the dog name “Daisy” came from the real long-time close friend of artist Chic Young, Arthur Bumstead, who owned a real dog named Daisy. The Daisy dog was created with the original strip in the 1930s, and Daisy was always aware and would react with a facial expression to the many family problems. Described as a purebred ‘mongrel’ Daisy was a lady and became a major part of the cartoon strip. Later, Daisy had five puppies, four girls and one male named Elmer, which greatly produced more family drama to the strip.

In the fall of 1944, at Malton, Ontario, Canada, the Victory Aircraft production facilites were delivering one Lancaster Mk. X bomber per day and KB839 was the 139th built in October 1944. The bomber was flown to Prestwick, Scotland, in November 1944, by an RAF ferry crew and next delivered to Glouchester Aircraft Company Maintenance Unit near Chetenham, England. This is where all of the British manufatured equipment, including the Fraser Nash gun turrets were installed. Lancaster KB839 arrived with No. 419 [Moose] Squadron of the RCAF in mid-January 1945, and flew her first operation on 28/29 January 1945, assigned the code letters VR-D [D for Dog]. The new Lancaster was assigned to a veteran aircrew of J24764 F/O Peter Tulk, who had completed eight operations [24 December 1944 to 6 January 1945] against German targets. [Flying – KB797 “K”, KB762 “J”, KB804 “E”. and KB787 “M”].

After flying their operation to bomb Stuttgart, Germany, 28/29 January 1945, the Fulk aircrew were advised KB839 would become ‘their’ bomber, and pilot Fulk decided to name her “D for Daisy” and have the cartoon pet painted as nose art. F/O Tulk was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in late February 1945, and flew “Daisy” on 20/21 February 1945, when the image below was taken and mailed back home to Canada.

This image is from Peter Fulk’s family sent to Col. [Retired] Herb Smale when he completed his history book 5 August 2005. Lancaster KB839 flew 26 operations during WWII, with Daisy and her five pups on the nose for the last twenty-three operations. F/L Tulk and crew flew Daisy home to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, arriving 10 June 1945, then departed on 30 days leave. On 15 July 45, Peter and crew returned from leave and began training for Tiger Force and the airwar against Japan. The last training flight in Tulk’s log book was 1 September 1945, the Pacific war was soon over and Tulk never saw Daisy again. On 8 September 1945, KB839, “Daisy” was flown to Pearce, Alberta, by RCAF ferry crew #5, S/L J.F. Thomas, and parked. No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, Pearce, Alberta, was a mix of veteran and new non-combat Lancaster aircraft and almost each one contained old and new nose art. The new nose art was painted for the war against Japan and most will never be seen or viewed by the Canadian public. I have thirty-two in my research collection, however no Canadian Museum will publish the history or display the images, as some of the RCAF ladies were nude, such as one called “Jill.”

The RCAF aircrew [7 Jacks] and “Jill” wearing only bright red high heel shoes, to match her long flaming red hair. Photo from LAC Laverne Thomas Shearer, ground crew No. 408 [Goose] Squadron, Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire.

Jill was painted by LAC Robert Douglas Sneddon from Calgary, Alberta, an Airframe Mechanic in No. 405 [Vancouver] Squadron, painted on Lancaster Mk. X [EQ-J] serial KB919, from No. 408 [Goose] Squadron. No. 408 was stationed at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, flying Halifax bombers until the end of the war on 8 May 1945. No. 405 became the only RCAF squadron transferred to RAF famous No. 8 [Pathfinder] Group, flying British built Avro Lancaster Mk. I and Mk. III bombers until 25 May 1945. No. 405 was now transferred back to No. 6 [RCAF] Group on 26 May 1945, and stationed with No. 408 [Goose] Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse. Neither squadron had flown Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft until late May 1945. No. 405 and No. 408 were now assigned thirty-eight new Canadian Lancaster Mk. X aircraft, to be air-tested, and flown back to Canada as part of “Tiger-Force” to bomb Japan.

Jill arrived at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, [No. 664 Wing] on 20 June 1945, then thanks to the sudden end of hostilities with Japan, Jill was flown to No. 102 R.E.M.S. at Pearce, Alberta, 23 September 1945, and forgotten. KB919 was converted postwar to a Bomber Reconnaissance aircraft and trained crews at No. 2 [Maritime] O.T.U. at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, scrapped 25 August 1955.

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

In May 1940, the first construction of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan aerodromes began across Canada. On 13 July 1940, the United Kingdom asks permission to transfer complete RAF schools to Canada, and the construction of 26 RAF operated [and financed] aerodromes began at once. All transferred RAF schools were reserved numbers 31 and above, including RAF schools which were later formed in Canada.
The RCAF picked the site for RAF No. 36 E.F.T.S. Aerodrome Pearce, Alberta, and it proved to be a very poor choice. During construction in August 1941, a southern Alberta dust storm was captured on film [looking South-West] fast approaching from the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

On 17 March 1942, twelve Canadian Pacific Railway coaches arrived on the siding at Pearce, Alberta, and RAF No. 36 EFTS was officially commissioned the 30th of March. The arriving RAF personnel included 32 officers, and 304 airmen staff, mostly new student pilots. They began their journey in West Kirby, England, and soon found their new home to be an isolated spot on the broad Canadian prairies, which became known as windy acres, a chummy, hard to fly station. After just four months, the RAF school was disbanded 3 August 1942, for the simple reason the southern Alberta winds were too difficult for the novice British students to deal with. The RAF rear party were gone by 14 August 1942 and the RCAF decided to move No. 3 Air Observer School from Regina, Saskatchewan, to Pearce, Alberta.

The movement from Regina began on 12 September 1942, when a CPR train with five RCAF Officers, and 55 airmen, [44 were trainees] arrived in Pearce at 23:00 hrs. Due to lack of proper accommodations at Pearce, classes were conducted at Regina and flying training at Pearce, which was done with great difficulty. The school had on strength 18 Avro Ansons, 2 Cessna Cranes and one Stinson to begin the New Year, and on 18 January 1943, the Daily Diary recorded a winter temperture of -50 degrees Fahrenheit [-45 C]. RCAF Organization Order No. 264 arrived on 4 March 1943, advising the school would be disbanded, effective 3 May 1943. On 21 April 1943, six officers and thirty-eight airmen boarded the train back to No. 3 Air Observer School at Regina, to permit the re-location of No. 2 Flying Instructors School from Vulcan, Alberta, to Pearce. The RCAF advance party from No. 2 F.I.S. Vulcan arrived at Pearce on 26 April 1943, to organize the training school movement from Vulcan, Alberta.
On 3 August 1943, No. 2 Flying Instructors School, Pearce, Alberta, officially opened, and these were six of the first ‘professors’ as they were called.

F.I.S. training lasted eight weeks and was really an advancement of what was being taught at the RCAF S.F.T.S. In the air the professors flew the Cornell for teaching elementary flying training instructors, the Harvard for advanced flying instructors and the Cessna Crane for twin-engine flying instructors. When a student first arrived at Pearce, the instructor would take him up in a familiarzation flight. This is where the new student was put through a number of nerve-racking, dives, stalls, steep banks, and other stunts to see if the new kid would freeze at the controls.

The above cartoon [signed O’Lee] appeared in the squadron newsletter titled Pearce Platter, showing a new student on his first test-flight. The newsletter also contained a little Cessna Crane cartoon character named “Dewey” who kept students informed as to what was taking place on the isolated RCAF station.

This December 1943, No. 2 F.I.S. Christmas Card, featured Dewey sound asleep in front of the control tower, grounded due to the windy, bitter cold, winter weather flying conditions.

Recreation became a high priority at Pearce, and the staff even had a “Trading Post” which was much like a civilian general store. The RCAF also created something which was entirely different from all other RCAF Stations, when they allowed the formation of a base town with small homes constructed, so a number of wives could join their husband on this remote base. The new “Boom Town” was built across the road from the base, and while it was never fancy, it solved a major morale problem. Pearce became known as the “Western University of the Air” and the student graduates became the best qualified flying instructors partly due to the windy training conditions. On 20 January 1945, No. 2 F.I.S. closed and the flying school was abandoned. The very next day, 21 January, No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite RCAF Station Pearce, Alberta, was formed on paper for storage of surplus WWII aircraft. By 23 September 1945, one-hundred and twenty-one veteran Canadian built Lancaster bombers were flown to Pearce, awaiting long-term storage in other bases in southern Alberta. Today [August 2019] only two of these combat flown veteran RCAF Lancaster Mk. X bombers remain in the world, KB839 and KB882. Amazingly, both of these rare original veteran Lancaster Mk. X bombers have been destroyed by our modern RCAF museums at CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and CFB Trenton, Ontario, Canada.

RCAF Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB882, No. 428
[Ghost Squadron]

No. 428 Squadron was officially born with the first Operations Record Book entry on 7 Nov. 1942.

The very first No. 428 Squadron Canadian constructed Lancaster Mk. X [KB705] aircraft landed at Middleton St. George on 25 May 1944, and the complete squadron turned out to inspect this new RCAF bomber. The next day, ground instruction began in preparation for conversion from the Halifax Mk. II aircraft to the Lancaster Mk. X, and by the end of May, No. 428 had on charge 19 Halifax Mk. IIs and 3 new Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft. [KB705, KB709, and KB725]
In early June 1944, aircrew conversion training for the Lancaster began and by the 14th of the month seven aircrew had been fully trained to operate this new Canadian bomber. No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron first flew a complete RCAF Lancaster aircraft operation on 14/15 June 1944, where seven Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft took part. Order of take-off was – KB737, [R] KB704, [E] KB758, [Z] KB725, [L] KB742, [M] KB705, [F] and KB739 [W].

No. 428 Squadron seven Lancaster Mk. X aircraft joined 51 other RCAF bombers which attacked St-Pol, France, with three aircraft returning early. The majority of 6 Group operations were now flown in the daytime, attacking V-1 flying-bomb sites in France.

On 25 October 1944, KB737 [the original NA-R] went missing on a day time raid to Essen, Germany. The missing aircraft was later replaced by Lancaster Mk. X serial KB882 which took the same code letter “R” flying her first operation on 12 March 1945.
KB882 was built at Malton, Ontario, in December 1944, and arrived in England on 24 February 1945, assigned to No. 32 M.U. The aircraft was next assigned to No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron but only on paper, and was never delivered. It was now reassigned to No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron and given code letter “R” completing 11 operations from 12 March 1945 to 25 April 1945. The RCAF Lancaster Mk. X contained no known nose art or name during her combat operations, using call sign “R for Robert.”

1. 12 March 1945 Dortmund, Germany, [191 attacked] F/O G. Cox #J41866
2. 15/16 March 1945 Hagen, Germany, [139 attacked, 3 shot down] F/L A.L. Ross #J16986
3. 24 March 1945 Mathias Stinnes-Gladbeck, Germany, [95 attack] F/O D. Brown #J7608
4. 31 March 1945 Hamburg, Germany, [189 attacked, 8 shot down] F/L A. L. Ross
5. 4 April 1945 Merseberg, Germany, [89 attacked] F/L Ross
6. 8/9 April 1945 Hamburg, Germany, [184 attacked, 1 shot down] F/L Ross
7. 10 April 1945 Leipzig, Germany, [188 attacked, 2 shot down] F/L Ross
8. 13/14 April 1945 Kiel, Germany, [204 attacked, 2 shot down] F/L Ross
9. 16/17 April 1945 Schwandorf, Germany, [116 attacked] W/O R. K. Quinn #R192575
10. 22 April 1945 Bremen, Germany, [200 attacked] F/L R. D. Hay #J7608
11. 25 April 1945 Wangerooge, Germany, [184 attacked, 4 lost mid-air crash] F/L A. L. Ross.

No. 428 Ghost Squadron became the last No. 6 RCAF Group bomber squadron to return to base landing at 20:10 to 20:36 hours, the final operations of WWII.

The crew of Flight Lieutenant A.L. Ross J41866 flew Lancaster KB882 on seven operations and his crew was made up completely of officers, with all but one on their second combat tour. Pilot F/L Ross was flying his 52nd operation in World War Two.
Pilot F/L A.L. Ross, DFC, DFM. – 2nd tour
Flight/Engineer – F/O. R. Loveday. – 1st tour
Navigator – F/O K.R. Fee, DFC. -2nd tour
Mid-Upper – F/O Dan Ferguson. – 2nd tour
Wireless/Oper. – F/L Aitken. -2nd tour
Rear-gunner – F/O Bill Watson. – 2nd tour
Bomb aim – F/O E.K. Bergy. – 2nd tour

On 4 April 1945, 105 RCAF Halifax and Lancaster bombers were despatched to bomb Merseburg, Germany, with 104 attacking the primary target. At 22:53 hrs. Lancaster KB882 sighted a German Me-410 night-fighter and the rear gunner fired 100 rounds, no official claim was made.

Copy of original report follows:

Lancaster KB882 flew four operations in March and seven more operations in the last month of war, April 1945.

The last offensive operation by Bomber Command took place on 25 April 1945, when 482 RAF bombers were launched against Wangerooge Island at the eastern end of the Frisian Island chain. These German coastal batteries had been bombed many times and this last raid was ordered to make sure the guns were destroyed forever. RCAF No. 6 Group despatched 192 aircraft from thirteen different squadrons, ninety-two Halifax bombers from No. 408, 415, 425, 426 and 432, supported by one-hundred Lancaster aircraft from No. 419, 424, 427, 428, 429, 431, 433, and 434 Squadrons.

RCAF Command had placed a number of rookie aircrews on this last operation, and these good intentions would cost the lives of twenty-eight Canadians and thirteen British aircrews.

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron was flying in the last gaggle of bombers and witnessed what took place just a short distance ahead of them. Two Lancaster bombers [KB822 and KB831] from No. 431 Squadron, both with sprog crews flying their first operation, did not realize the bombers in front of them were violently churning up the air. In seconds one Lancaster lost control and rotated on its side into the other Lancaster, breaking a wing and tail plane in the collision. This was repeated by two RCAF Halifax bombers NP796 in No. 408 and NP820 in No. 426 Squadron. Nine parachutes were sighted, floating to their slow death in the ice cold sea, over two-hundred miles from any British coast.

This is the No. 6 [RCAF] Group official map showing the location of each bomber before and after the attack on Wangerooge, Germany. This was plotted from the navigator exact location taken from each RCAF bomber, the modern computer for the year 1945. The “Gaggle” of 192 RCAF aircraft flew in a bomber stream which was thirty miles long by ten miles in width. No. 428 dispatched fifteen Lancaster bombers on the operation, with KB747 failing to take-off.

On 25 April 1945, F/O David Walsh and crew were flying their 28th operation in NA-D Lancaster Mk. X serial KB843, named “DOLLY.” They were the second Lancaster to take off for the raid on the coastal batteries on Wangerooge Island, and became the very last No. 6 RCAF Group bomber aircraft to return to base, Middleton St. George, Yorkshire, England, at 20:36 hrs. The Canadian Bomber Group’s bombing and shooting war had just come to an end. Lancaster KB882, NA-R, had landed just minutes before and shared in this No. 6 RCAF Group history.

KB843 NA-D [DOLLY] the last bomber to land in England from No. 6 RCAF Group in WWII.

The above image of KB843, NA-D [Dolly] was taken at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, around 18:00 hrs. 8 June 1945, and F/O David Walsh is about to land on Canadian soil.

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron flew their first RCAF Lancaster [Canadian built] Mk. X operation on 14/15 June 1944, and KB843 became the very last Canadian Lancaster Mk. X to land in England, after bombing Germany, [Wangerooge Island] on 25 April 1945. That is possibly the reason Ghost Squadron were selected over the more veteran No. 419 [Moose] Squadron, to be the first Lancaster Mk. X squadron to take off for Canada on the morning of 31 May 1945. No. 419 [Moose] Squadron will follow flying twenty of their Canadian constructed Lancaster bombers.

On 31 May 1945, [09:00 hrs] RCAF ground crew LAC Delbert Todd recorded Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris addressing the members of No. 428 [Ghost] and No. 419 [Moose] Squadron at Middleton-St.-George. On the far left is Air Vice Marshal C.M. “Black Mike” McEwen, Commodore McBurney, S.A.S.O. No. 6 RCAF Group and Air Commodore Bryans, C.O No. 64 RCAF Base.

The exodus to Canada begins with fifteen Lancaster bombers in No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron and in the next six weeks 165 Canadian built Lancaster aircraft will return to Canada, with the loss of one KB764. [No. 428 Sqn.] The ferry route follows:
31 May 1945, take-off from Middleton-St.-George to St. Mawgans, in Cornwall 2 hrs, 5 mins. [Note – due to inclement weather most of 428 and 419 aircraft would languish at St. Mawgans for six days.]

6 June 1945, St. Mawgans Cornwall to Lagens, Azores, 8 hrs. 42 mins. 9 June 1945, Lagens Azores, to Gander, Newfoundland, 8 hrs. 46 mins.
10 June 1945, Gander, Newfoundland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 3 hrs, 17 minutes.
The first RCAF Lancaster Mk. X selected for take-off is aircraft NA-F [Fearless Fox] serial KB891, pilot F/L S.V. Eliosoff #J88974.

Led by “Fearless Fox” fourteen other Lancaster Mk. X bombers thunder into the air and head on the first leg to Canada. F/L Cox pilot of KB848, NA-G. “Fightin” Pappy” finds his aircraft is nose heavy and returns to base at Middleton St. George. On 1 June 1945, Fightin’ Pappy and four remaining No. 428 Lancaster bombers take to the air for Canada. In total nineteen No. 428 Lancaster aircraft depart for Canada, however NA-B, KB764 will crash in the sea while landing at the Azores.

The Nose Art of KB891 “Fearless Fox” – [RCAF PL44566]

Fearless Fox arriving at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1945. [David Walsh – Lisa Sharp]

Take-off of KB848, NA-G, “Fightin’ Pappy” with pilot F/L G. Cox and crew, 31 May 1945.
LAC Delbert Todd [who took this image] served as ground crew on this Lancaster, which arrived with No. 428 Squadron 20 January 1945, assigned to F/O K.C. Roulston. The Lancaster was first named “Hollywood Caravan” with white and red trim lettering painted under the pilot window. F/O Roulston and crew completed their tour [32 Ops] on 21 February 1945, and the Lancaster was flown by a number of different aircrew. On 4 April 1945, NA-G KB848 was assigned to the crew of pilot F/L Cox and they decided to rename their bomber and give her some new nose art. KB848 became nose art “Fightin’ Pappy” photo from Delbert Todd collection.

The No. 428 Squadron ground and aircrew members shortly after the new nose art was completed in early April 1945. Lancaster KB848 completed 26 operations and had an interesting postwar career. Today this complete original Lancaster cockpit section is restored in WWII RCAF markings and on display in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. Sadly, her wartime career and colorful nose art are not part of the public display. [Delbert Todd photo – second from left, black coveralls, hand on hip]

Should our Canadian Aviation and Space Museum historians ever decide to paint Lancaster KB848, nose and cockpit section in her correct No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron World War Two markings, this is what she would look like, preserving RCAF Lancaster history. At least someone can now build a correctly marked Canadian Lancaster Mk. X KB848 nose art model.
Nominal roll and 18 Lancaster Aircraft of No. 428 Sqn. flown to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

David Walsh collection [pilot KB843] photo from Lisa Sharp.

8 June 1945, NA-K, serial KB920 first to land at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, taxies to the hangar. She carried a British ‘stowaway’ passenger, a small puppy from U.K. and a new life in Canada. The crew of F/L A.L. Googe are home at last, followed by KB757, KB843, KB891, KB848, KB867, KB864, KB781, and KB747. Lancaster KB882 [NA-R] arrives on 10 June 1945.

Lancaster KB920 shuts down her four engines and receives an official welcome to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. [D. Walsh – Lisa Sharp]

In October 1944, the Canadian War Committee began drawing up plans for the early Canadian air element participation in the Royal Air Force very long range bombing of Japan, titled “Tiger Force.” The early advanced element would consist of one RAF Mosquito squadron, and nine Lancaster squadrons, five RAF, one from Australia, one from New Zealand, and two from Canada. No. 419 [Moose] and 428 [Ghost] were selected to be operational to bomb Japan beginning 1 January 1946. In mid-April 1945, RCAF Overseas Headquarters ordered No. 419 and 428 squadron to leave Middleton-St.-George, “as soon as possible.” On 31 May 1945, this first movement of Canadian built bombers to Canada began, and most carried veteran ‘nose art’ for the upcoming attack on Japan. The next leg of the journey was St. Mawgan, which became the departure base for the Atlantic crossing. Some of the Lancaster aircraft of No. 428 and 419 squadrons were delayed at St. Mawgan, Cornwall, for six days due to inclement weather conditions. Six more RCAF Lancaster squadrons would follow to Canada, No. 431 and 434 at Croft, No. 405 Pathfinder at Gransden Lodge, No. 408 at Linton-on-Ouse, and No. 420 and 425 at Tholthorpe, would complete the bomber force in Tiger Force. Each squadron would fly twenty Lancaster Mk. X aircraft back to Canada, for reorganization and training for RAF “Tiger Force” in the Pacific. They now came under command of War Home Establishment, Eastern Air Command, with H.Q. at Halifax, Nova Scotia. No. 1 Maintenance Wing H.Q. was located at Scoudouc, New Brunswick, with four new [Heavy Bomber] Wings located at Yarmouth, Dartmouth, Debert, and Greenwood, Nova Scotia. On 8 June 1945, No. 419 and 428 Squadron Lancaster bombers began to land at their new Canadian base, No. 661 [Heavy Bomber] Wing, RAF Tiger Force, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. [Officially formed on 15 July 1945] RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, arrival of No. 428 and 419 Squadrons –

Photo D. Walsh via Lisa Sharp.

These eighteen Lancaster Mk. X aircraft from No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron are now being prepared for war against Japan. The aircrews begin 30 days leave [plus travel time] and will report back to their squadrons to prepare for the Pacific Campaign “Tiger Force.” These eighteen Lancaster Mk. X aircraft will be ready to bomb Japan beginning 1 January 1946, including NA-R, KB882. No. 419 and 428 Squadron Lancaster aircraft will be re-equipped with Canadian built Avro Lincoln B. Mk. XV bombers in July 1946. The production of serial FM300 Lincoln is already underway in the plant at Malton, Ontario.
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, forced Japan into accepting the full terms of the Allied surrender on 15 August, officially signed 2 September. On 5 September 1945, RAF Tiger Force was disbanded before commencement of their combat training, and production of the FM series Lincoln bombers were cancelled with only one constructed. No. 661 Wing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, No. 662 Wing at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and No. 633 Wing at Debert, Nova Scotia, prepare for disbandment.

The Atomic bombing of Japan will save many veteran Canadian lives as 103,402 men and women had volunteered for service in the Pacific war.

This important aviation fact is most often omitted by today’s generation of Internet historians. On 5 September, at RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, seven Lancaster aircraft are air tested in preparation for the postwar storage ferry flights, one is No. 428 Squadron KB882.

The Canadian Government has decided the Tiger Force Lancaster bombers will be flown across Canada to Calgary, Alberta, then a final stop at the abandoned WWII No. 2 Flying Instructors School at Pearce, Alberta. In the next eight months, over one-hundred and twenty veteran bombers will be flown and placed into long term storage at RCAF Stations in Alberta.

In preparation for the ferrying of these large bomber fights, Lancaster Ferry crews are organized at Yarmouth, Dartmouth, and Debert, in Nova Scotia. These ferry flights are given the title Very Large Range ‘VFR’ Force and will depart in groups of fifteen Lancaster aircraft. The ferry crews are made up of four RCAF members. Pilot, Navigator, Wireless Air Gunner, and Flight Engineer. A list of thirty ferry crews was formed, with each crew assigned to one Lancaster aircraft.

On 7 September 1945, the first fifteen Lancaster bombers depart RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, at one-minute intervals, on the first leg of the ferry flight to St. Hubert Airport in Montreal, Quebec. The sight at Montreal airport was most impressive, as 15 RCAF Lancaster aircraft flew in and landed [17:46 hrs] and were parked by 18:00 hrs. The next morning fifteen more Lancaster aircraft departed Yarmouth for the ferry trip west to Calgary, one being Lancaster KB882. What follows is a poor copy of the original RCAF Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Daily Diary with the list of RCAF Lancaster KB serial numbers in the order they took off for the West. Beside each serial number, I have added the original RCAF Squadron number they flew during WWII. These first thirty Lancaster aircraft would land at re-named No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, RCAF Pearce, Alberta, on 8 and 9 of September 1945.

On 8 September 1945, the remaining fifteen Lancaster bombers depart RCAF Station Yarmouth for Montreal, Quebec. KB882 is the eighth to take off for the ferry flight west to Calgary, Alberta, with ferry crew #21, pilot F/L G. Walton J89607, Navigator F/O F.E. Sprung J28697, Wireless Air Gunner F/Sgt. J. A. Shaer R260019, and Flight Engineer F/O J. B. McClusky J43393.

Early on 8 September 1945, the first group of 45 Lancaster WWII veteran bombers have departed Montreal for RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba, a selected RCAF Station for refueling.

The “Very Long Range Force” heading West, landing for fuel at RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba, 8 September 1945. Next fuel stop will be Calgary, Alberta, and then south to ex-No. 2 Flying Instructors School at RCAF Pearce, Alberta. [re-named No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, RCAF Pearce, Alberta, on 21 January 1945]

Ray Wise was employed at Vancouver shipyards until Christmas 1942, when he decided to join the RCAF. In March 1943, he completed his Aero Engine training and was posted to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta. On 5 September 1945, LAC Raymond Wise, LAC Cook, LAC Wyers, and the NCO in charge Cpl. Edge, were posted to ex-No. 2 F.I.S. School at Pearce, Alberta, now RCAF No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite. The four lived in a rented house at Fort Macleod, Alberta, and drove an RCAF Chevrolet van to the old abandoned air base each morning, returning each night.

On the afternoon of 8 September 1945, the first fifteen Lancaster bombers began arriving at the RCAF storage base, and with no control tower instructions, these ferry pilots put on their own display of flying skills, terrifying the local farm animals as well as a few of the Alberta farmers. By the 23rd of September 1945, these ferry crews had landed over 120 WWII Lancaster bombers at Pearce, and almost each one carried nose art from the Second World War.

When I interviewed Raymond Wise in 1996, he was 92 years of age, but still spoke with excitement about the spectacular arrival and air-show he had witnessed at Pearce, Alberta, for a number of days in September 1945. The bombers were parked in four long rows, and each morning the four ground-crew mechanics were ordered to fire up each of the four American built Packard Rolls-Royce Merlin engines on each of the 121 Lancaster aircraft. Ray Wise also recorded and preserved the very best RCAF Lancaster WWII collection of nose art I ever found. For a few short months, the very best of Canadian veteran Lancaster WWII nose art, which had flown over and bombed Germany, now rested side by side in an abandoned airfield of southern Alberta.

From the air today, the original RCAF runways and old WWII hangar locations are clearly still visible, almost the same sight which greeted the Lancaster ferry pilots and aircrew in September 1945. [Free domain image 2018]
Now, let’s turn back the pages of time and once again look at Canada’s best WWII Lancaster Nose Art, which no Aviation Museum will display.

After some stunting, the Lancaster aircraft landed and taxied to the front of the RCAF hangars where they were angle parked in four rows. [Ray Wise image taken from control tower]

LAC Cook in front of No. 419 Squadron KB746, VR-S, “Sierra Sue” flown from Yarmouth on 7 September 1945, by ferry crew #14, F/L D.S. Mullin J35317, arrived Pearce the next day.

LAC Cook in front of KB746, with hangar #1 [control tower] and hanger #2 in background. This image was taken looking directly north. These first two hangars were built for the RAF in 1941, and two more [one a double-wide] constructed for RCAF Flying Instructors in 1942.

Sierra Sue became the number one photo favourite and she even caught the eye of Cpl. Edge. She completed 68 operations, [the last bomb was never painted on] a true Canadian veteran in Moose Squadron, scrapped 16 January 1947. (via Ray Wise)

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron NA-S, KB864, became another photo favourite. She was flown to Pearce by ferry crew #22, F/O R.L. Boyle J4160, arriving on 9 September 1945. In the cockpit sits LAC Cook, front left is LAC Wyers, and with left hand on prop is LAC Raymond Wise. RCAF historians owe this man a special thanks for preserving Lancaster nose art at No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce, Alberta.

Unfortunately, not one aviation museum in Canada will display the correct history, artists, or images, including the Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta.

No. 428 Squadron KB864, Sugar’s Blues was named after a very popular wartime Jazz swing dance tune, with both sides of her nose painted by my departed friend wireless air gunner Sgt. Thomas Walton. The lady came from the January 1945, Esquire pin-up girl by Alberto Vargas. Tom passed away in 2018, he was 95 years of age.

P/O Tom Walton [J93791 promoted in February] painted “Sugar” [that’s what he called her] in mid-January and this is his finished nose art, with her left nipple showing.

NA-S, KB864 at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1945, flown by American born pilot F/L R. Laturner. The starboard nose art painted by Tom Walton featuring a Ghost dropping a 500-pound blue bomb. Flown from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 8 September 1945, by ferry crew #22, pilot F/O R.L. Boyle J4160, Navigator F/L G. F. Kean J17489, Wireless WO/I D. McDermond R162318, and F/O G. Baker J49337.

Raymond Wise riding Lancaster KB864 like an Alberta cowboy, while LAC Wyers gives a thumbs up from the cockpit, mid-September 1945.
Sugar’s Blues was placed into long-term storage at Pearce, Alberta, and she never left. Parked beside the airfield, disposed 16 January 1947, used for spare parts in 1950-51. Cut up on site in 1956, sold for scrap.

The graveyard of WWII Lancaster airframes rest in the farm hayfield next to the abandoned airfield at Pearce, Alberta, summer 1955. They will soon be cut up, placed onto railway cars and shipped to Quebec for smelting. Maybe someone in Quebec today has an old pot or pan made from Sugar’s Blues.

Below PT-V, KB910, No. 420 Squadron, no operations. Photos – Paul Szoke from Nanton.

No. 428 Squadron NA-L, KB867, which replaced KB725 after it crashed on 3 February 1945. “L for Lanky” flew her first Op. on 21/22 February 1945, and finished the war with eighteen operations, which were painted as Jerry [piss pots] that were dumped on Germany. Flown to Canada by F/L A.S. Webb, she landed on 9 June 1945, 18:00 hrs. where the above image was taken.

Close-up of nose art taken by Ray Wise at Pearce, Alberta.

Another ground crew image at Pearce – far left unknown, Wyers, Wise, and Cook. KB867 arrived with second group of thirty Lancaster aircraft on 13 September 1945.

This is a copy of the original RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Lancaster Mk. X ferry crew list for 7 and 8 September 1945. Lancaster KB882, flown by F/L G. Walton J89607, departed Yarmouth, N.S. for Calgary, Alberta, on 8 September 1945 and arrived at Pearce, the following day, where she was parked beside a line of her sister aircraft.

This image was taken by LAC Raymond Wise at No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce, Alberta, after the arrival of the first thirty Lancaster Mk. X veteran bombers, 9 September 1945. Twenty-four of these Canadian manufactured Lancaster Mk. X aircraft were original World War Two combat veterans, which flew with our RCAF squadrons over Germany, and survived to return to Canadian soil. No. 419 [Moose] Squadron and No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron were the two most senior Lancaster operated squadrons at the end of the war in Europe, containing our best Canadian Lancaster nose art paintings. Eleven of the bombers in this photo flew with No. 419 Squadron and thirteen flew with No. 428 Squadron, including KB882, which is somewhere in this image. KB882 would be flown out of Pearce, Alberta, [in the next six months] and placed into long-term storage at RCAF Station Fort Macleod, Alberta. In June 1956, this veteran WWII bomber was pulled from her hangar and modified as a test-bed for RCAF night-photography. The Lancaster was withdrawn from post-war service in the RCAF on 17 March 1962, and two years later sold to the City of Edmundston, New Brunswick.

This rare, WWII veteran Canadian built and flown RCAF bomber has never been painted correctly or ever displayed in her original No. 428 [Ghost] colour markings, and now she never will. If you watch any episodes of American or Canadian Pickers, you soon learn that rare, one-of-a-kind antique items are never painted over or changed, as that would totally destroy their historical content and value. Even average, main-stream Canadians know if you find a rare Ford Model T automobile, you would never repaint it as a Chevrolet and then display it as a collector’s item.

Sadly, when it comes to our RCAF WWII history and aircraft, the average Canadian leaves it up to the RCAF to preserve, display, and teach future generations of youth what we constructed and flew in the past.

After spending the past 51 years outside in Canadian weather, Lancaster KB882 ownership was at long last transferred from the City of Edmundston, New Brunswick, to the National Air Force Museum of Canada at Trenton, Ontario, the home of the RCAF, on 20 September 2017. Preserved and protected indoors.

In 1940, as the war in England worsened, the British turned to Canada for Lancaster bomber production, out of range of the destructive German bombers. The location chosen to construct the Lancaster Mk. X in Canada became Malton, Ontario, the National Steel and Car Corporation Aircraft Division. Due to political, and managements problems, the company was taken over by the Canadian Government on 5 November 1942, and as a Crown Corporation was renamed Victory Aircraft Ltd, later becoming A.V. Roe Canada Ltd.

A British built Mk. I Lancaster serial R5727 was flown from England, and this aircraft became the master tool and pattern standard for the Canadian constructed Lancaster Mk. X bombers.

This British built Lancaster was later acquired by Trans-Canada Airways [T.C.A.] and modified with nose windows, faired over rear gun position, and windows fitted in her fuselage. It began trans-Atlantic service on 22 July 1943, flying freight, mail, and ten passengers across to England.

This is R5727 now registered as CF-CMS for T.C.A., image taken at Dorval [Quebec] airport in preparation for her first Trans-Atlantic flight to Prestwick, Scotland. The first Canadian Lancaster used in Civil Transportation was in fact a British Lancaster Mk. I, which flew combat with No. 44 Squadron in the RAF, made the first Lancaster trip to Canada across the Atlantic, became the pattern bomber for all Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X’s, and last transported secret mail, freight, and V.I.P.’s back and forth from Canada to U.K.

Now, that is a lot of aviation history for one Lancaster bomber. Fitted with extra fuel tanks, and ten passenger seats, Lancaster R5727 also became the pattern civil air transport on four other T.C.A. constructed transports on the Malton Lancaster production line. KB702 became CF-CMT [TCA-101], KB702 became CF-CMU [TCA-102] KB729 became CF-CMV [TCA-103] and KB730 became CF-CMW [TCA-104].

Just sixteen months after the first Canadian Lancaster drawings were completed, KB700 the Canadian prototype was air tested on 1 August 1943. Due to political interference and insistence the new bomber leave at once for England, the christening ceremony was rushed to 20 August, and the unfinished bomber flew off to Dorval, Quebec, where her construction was completed. Delayed for two weeks, she did not arrive in England until 15 September 1943. The first 300 Lancaster Mk. X aircraft were assigned the manufacture’s serial numbers KB700 to KB999, built between August 1943 and March 1945.

All of the KB series combat aircraft were ferried to England with the loss of only one KB828. During the spring of 1945, the Victory Aircraft Ltd work force of almost 10,000 persons [30% female] produced one Canadian Lancaster per day. No. 419 and No. 428 Squadrons were assigned the most Canadian built Lancaster aircraft in WWII and they lost the most aircrew and bombers.

No. 419 [Moose] squadron lost forty-two Lancaster Mk. X aircraft to enemy action, seven crash landed on return from operations and three were lost in training accidents. Today Lancaster FM213 has been restored to flying condition painted as KB726 of No. 419 [Moose] Squadron and flies in honour of P/O Mynarski V.C., shot down 12/13 June 1944. Thanks to Canadian Warplane Heritage, the Mynarski Lancaster is the only flying example of a Canadian Avro Mk. X Lancaster in North America, however FM213 never flew operations during WWII and this aircraft will always be a replica painted RCAF bomber. The only original part of Lancaster FM213 which flew operations in WWII is the centre wing section, which came from KB895 [Lady Orchid] of No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron. Thus, FM213 is in fact a hybrid of a wartime combat aircraft wing [KB895] and herself, which never flew combat operations during WWII.

Today, August 2019, the original rare combat flown [eleven operations] Lancaster KB882 is under a seven-year restoration program, reappearing in her postwar markings as Lancaster 10 A.R. [Aerial Reconnaissance] of No. 408 Squadron.

I have no idea why Senior RCAF Officers at Trenton, Ontario, would pass over the history of this rare WWII Canadian constructed veteran bomber and their very own RCAF WWII roots, for a postwar photo taking patrol aircraft. I guess they never watched any episodes of American or Canadian Pickers.

My history on Lancaster KB882 is being published in an attempt to educate the average Canadian public to what the RCAF has done at Trenton, Ontario. It will not make any difference, but just maybe a few relatives from the aircrew who flew KB882 in WWII can read her rare aviation past. Unlike our present day RCAF Senior Officers, I will never forget our RCAF veterans who flew and died in ‘our’ Lancaster Mk. X bombers over the bloody skies of Europe. It is becoming increasingly harder for a new generation of Canadians, and new immigrants to understand what took place during WWII, if our aviation museums do not paint our aircraft correctly, and fail to educate with the truth, Canadians may never understand.

In total 7,377 Avro Lancaster aircraft were built and 3,736 were lost during the Second World War. Victory Aircraft Ltd at Malton, Ontario, constructed 430 Avro Lancaster aircraft, and today ten of these Canadian bombers survive in the world, eight remain in Canada. From the total of 7,377 Avro Lancaster aircraft which were constructed, only seventeen survive in the world today. From this total of seventeen survivors only two British constructed Lancaster bombers [R5868 and W4783] and two Canadian constructed Lancaster bombers [KB839 and KB882] flew operational RAF Bomber Command combat sorties during World War Two. R5868 was constructed in early 1942, and today is painted correctly in the RAF Museum in England. W4783 was also constructed in early 1942, and after flying in an RAF squadron, was transferred to the RAAF in October 1944. This combat veteran was flown to Australia in postwar, restored in correct RAAF markings and remains in their Australian Museum today. These two British constructed RAF operational WWII bombers have been preserved and painted correctly for the education of all future British and Australian citizens.

Today our modern Canadian historians tend to only glorify the Canadians who won awards, or lost their lives during combat, and forget about the ones killed in training accidents. No. 419 [Moose] Squadron lost three Lancaster aircraft and twenty-one aircrew members in accidents. On 24 November 1944, Lancaster KB785 [Y-Yoke} took off [14:20 hrs.] on a normal night time practice bombing exercise to the Bradbury bombing Range. At around 18:20 hrs the NCO at the Bradbury Range heard the engines of the approaching Canadian bomber, then saw a great flash in the night sky, followed by silence. At first light the bodies of the seven Canadians were recovered from the crash site. [RCAF image from Vince Elmer collection]

In Canada, our modern RCAF, [really the taxpayers] owns the two Canadian constructed Avro Lancaster Mk. X bombers, both of which flew operational sorties under RAF Bomber Command during WWII. Sadly, our modern day RCAF has done what the German Luftwaffe could not complete during WWII, they have destroyed both of ‘our’ rare original combat bombers.

When KB882 is painted in her postwar colors, all Canadians have lost a rare original aircraft from our World War Two RCAF history. In my attempt to keep a positive attitude, I am very pleased to see this Lancaster restored, placed indoors protected from the harsh Canadian weather, and yes, even correctly painted in her postwar colors. This will educate future Canadians, but most important is the fact this aircraft can still be restored back to her original rare WWII condition, if smarter RCAF historians [bureaucrats] later prevail at RCAF Trenton.

Fortunately for all Canadians, aviation historians, bureaucrats, and RCAF members, we have a second rare combat veteran Lancaster Mk. X, KB839, which flew twenty-six operations during WWII, and was constructed earlier than KB882. [To the average Canadian, this Lancaster survivor would be equal to the most famous American B-17 Memphis Belle]

This Lancaster was the 139th Mk. X bomber built at Malton, Ontario, serial KB839. Ferried to England in November 1944, she entered service with No. 419 Squadron in January 1945, receiving the code letters VR-D [Dog]. After her first operation was completed to Stuttgart, Germany, on 28/29 January 1945, she was given the name “Daisy” and the nose art painting of a popular comic strip dog in Blondie.

The complete history of the RCAF’s oldest and rarest surviving WWII Lancaster bomber was published in August 2005 by Col [Retired] Herb Ernest Smale, and the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, Nova Scotia, and I have one personnel signed copy. Herb Smale, age 90 years, passed away on 19 February 2019, an RCAF veteran, ex-Commanding Officer, and a trusted true aviation friend.

During Herb’s Lancaster research, a full scale nose art painting of “Daisy” was completed by the author on original Lancaster skin from the museum at Nanton Alberta, and donated to the Greenwood Museum, to preserve the history of our most famous WWII Canadian Lancaster Mk. X aircraft. The crew of pilot F/L Peter Tulk named KB839 “Daisy” and completed eight combat operations in ‘their’ bomber, including the return flight to Canada where they arrived on 10 June 1945. The following No. 419 [Moose] Squadron Canadian Lancaster Mk. X bombers were flown to Canada, RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 10 to 16 June 1945. Eleven of these World War Two veteran aircraft [underlined] were flown to No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce, Alberta, between 8 and 9 September 1945, part of the first thirty bombers ferried west for long-term storage.

The little dog “Daisy” in the comic strip Blondie for 1944.

VR-A KB841 F/L F.G. Dawson 10 June 1945
VR-B KB721 “Linden Rose” F/O J. W. Smith 10 June 1945
VR-C KB881 “Chopper” F/L G. L. Smith 10 June 1945

VR-D KB839 “Daisy” F/L P. H. Tulk 10 June 1945

RCAF Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, June 1945

VR-E KB865 F/L E.G. Peters 12 June 1945
VR-F KB783 P/O D.G. Brown 10 June 1945
VR-G KB733 “Goofy” P/O D.E. Rickerts 16 June 1945
VR-I KB878 F/L B.A. Nichols 10 June 1945
VR-K KB884 S/L D.B. Hunter 10 June 1945
VR-M KB889 P/O D.W. Laubman 10 June 1945
VR-N KB857 F/L C. J. Widdicomb 10 June 1945
VR-O KB748 “Lady Oboe” F/L W.G. Manning 10 June 1945
VR-P KB892 S/L J. W. Watts 10 June 1945
VR-Q KB921 “Queen of the Swamp II F/L B. P. Wickham 10 June 1945
VR-R KB772 “Ropey” F/O R.E. Chambers 10 June 1945
VR-S KB746 “Sierra Sue” F/L J. E. Short 13 June 1945
VR-T KB854 “She’s Trudy Terrific” P/O D. R. Cushman 10 June 1945
VR-U KB823 “Lily Marlene” P/O J. C. MacNeil 12 June 1945
VR-W KB851 “The Captain’s Baby” W/C M. E. Ferguson 10 June 1945
VR-X KB732 “X-Terminator” F/L D. B. Lambroughton 10 June 1945

KB839, “Daisy” was flown from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, by ferry crew #5, S/L J. F. Thomas # J7975, departing 8 September 1945 and arriving at Pearce, Alberta, the following day. In the next few days she was photographed by LAC Ray Wise, and became part of his nose art collection. Today we only have these photos and the history book by Herb Smale, to preserve and educate future Canadians on the RCAF WWII past of Lancaster Mk. X “Daisy.” That simply means very few Canadians will learn the true history of our most famous Lancaster X bomber.

These two images were taken by Ray Wise at Pearce, Alberta, and clearly capture the wartime nose art painting of the little dog Daisy, and her pups, from the comic strip named “Blondie.” This is Canada’s oldest surviving original combat flown WWII Lancaster Mk. X bomber; however, she has never been honored or painted in her correct RCAF markings or nose art from the Second World War. This veteran WWII RCAF aircraft KB839 has been stripped of paint and repainted four different times, and now she wears the colors of a British built Lancaster Mk. III aircraft, serial JB226, which means our original Canadian built Mk. X WWII bomber has become an RAF replica, which never flew in No. 6 [RCAF] Group of Bomber Command.

During her fourth restoration and repainting by the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, someone decided to paint “Daisy” in the markings of a British built Lancaster Mk. III, serial JB226, which flew with No. 405 [RCAF] Pathfinder Squadron. A copy from the original Operations Record Book appears above, giving all the required details of the crew who were shot down on 17/18 November 1943. Much more can be found on the Internet in regards to why our rarest Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X was painted as a replica British Mk. III constructed aircraft. This airframe is still the oldest original RCAF Lancaster Mk. X in the world, which flew combat operations for the RAF during WWII, and carried the name “Daisy.”

Our RCAF history can never be changed with a new paint job, code letters, or a replica British serial, but our RCAF still try. Why senior RCAF officers and aviation historians allowed this to take place is very alarming, however, the most important task is the protection and preservation of this rare Canadian Mk. X built airframe for possible future correct RCAF historical restoration.

Do professional Canadian aviation historians even understand what the RCAF have done?

Thanks to our modern thinking RCAF, “Daisy” is now the only Canadian constructed Lancaster Mk. X in the world which flew combat operations during WWII, and it sits outside at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, painted as a British built RAF bomber. Will “Daisy” be lost forever, just like our Avro Arrows? No. 6 [RCAF] Group was “Canadian” and our RCAF Museums should be telling our history and preserving our Canadian built Lancaster Nose Art not British.

No. 6 [RCAF] Bomber Group was unique in that it was designed and composed completely of Canadian squadrons. By April 1945, nine RCAF squadrons were flying the four-engine Lancaster bomber, five of these were equipped with the Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft. With the end of the war in Europe, No. 419 [Moose] Squadron had flown the most Lancaster Mk. X operations and more sorties than any other RCAF Lancaster Squadron. For that reason, the surviving Lancaster aircraft in No. 419 Squadron had claimed many impressive Canadian achievements and carried some historical nose art paintings. They were coming back to Canada, and after the surrender of Japan, would never drop bombs or fly in anger again.

LAC Ray Wise captured many of No. 419 Squadrons most famous Lancaster nose art images at Pearce, Alberta, knowing this was possibly their final flight. Raymond was proud of serving in the RCAF and justly very proud of what these Canadian constructed bombers had done to bring peace to our world.

This RCAF photo PL43722 has been published many times showing our most famous Canadian Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB732, VR-X for “X-Terminator. This was taken just minutes before her last 84th operation as A.V.M. C.M. McEwen, CB, MC, DFC, and Bar chats with two of her aircrew. Far left is Group Commander H. B. Godwin, A/C C.R. Dunlap, F/Sgt. D.R. McTaggart rear-gunner, the AVM, and the pilot F/L Barney Wickham.
“X-Terminator” departed for Canada with pilot F/L D.B. Lambroughton at her controls, landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 10 June 1945 and departing for Calgary, Alberta, on 8 September 1945, with ferry crew #23 F/O W.A. Herboanke J85688. Replica life-size nose art hangs in Canada’s Bomber Command Museum, Nanton, Alberta.

Correct nose art markings early May 1945.

Ray Wise photo of LAC Wyers, Cpl. Edge and LAC Cook standing in front of Canada’s most famous WWII Lancaster Mk. X bomber, KB732, X-Terminator at Pearce, Alberta, 10 September 1945. After shooting down two German night-fighters and surviving 84 combat operations over Germany, she will be flown to North Calgary [ex-RAF hangars] and placed into long-term storage. On 15 May 1948, this veteran bomber will be unceremoniously scrapped without any thought by Canadian authorities, and out most important RCAF Lancaster Mk. X history has just slipped away.

One older veteran Lancaster in No. 428 Squadron was KB747, NA-X [72 Ops.] “Madam X.” On landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1945, she ran off the runway. Pilot F/O E.T. Lewis from Turner Valley, Alberta, took some heat from his fellow pilots.

Madam X arrived at Pearce, Alberta, 13 September 1945, pulled from storage on 19 January 1948 and scrapped. Full history and images are found on my Blog, “Preserving the Past” #1. The replica scale nose art painting of “Madam X” [on Nanton Lancaster skin] can be seen in the Military Museums of Calgary, No. 6 RCAF Group, Historical section.

A second veteran bomber flying 72 operations in No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron was KB760, NA-P [P for Panic] landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 12 June 1945.

Under an arrangement between the RCAF High Command and the Victory Aircraft Ltd. in Malton [Toronto], Ontario, KB760 was flown to the plant where she was constructed, so the 10,000 employees could see one of their own surviving combat flown bombers. The above image was taken at Malton, Ontario, on 13 June 1945, as Flying Officer R.L. Boyle points to the 72 bombs on her nose.

The starboard nose art “P” for Panic in large red letters with white trim. Image from collection of original Calgary pilot F/O Jack Carter J22971, August 1944.

KB760 was selected due to the fact she was a veteran Canadian Lancaster Mk. X and carried original WWII impressive nose, fuselage, and tail gunner combat flown RCAF markings.

Original KB760 fuselage door and rear gun markings from pilot F/O Jack Carter collection.

On arrival at Malton airport, the crew posed for this image. Left to right are F/O D.A. Matheson, F/O D.F. Moore, W/O D.A. McAmmond, F/O R.J. Foord, F/L D.W. Irvine, Sgt. E. Jenner, and in the doorway is pilot F/O R.L. Boyle. Four days later the crew returned to Yarmouth, and went their different ways on 30 days leave. On 8 September, ferry crew #19, F/L D.F. Verden J24596, flew KB760 to Pearce, Alberta, arriving the following day.

The Ray Wise nose art collection contains three photos of KB760, this one with Cpl. Edge in the cockpit running each engine, which now have red spinners.

LAC Wyers in the cockpit of KB760 and behind is Lancaster NA-F “Fearless Fox” KB891.

Both of these veteran Lancaster Mk. X bombers were disposed of by RCAF on 16 January 1947. I believe they were purchased by farmer Albert Hoving of High River, Alberta, sold to the Found Brothers and used for spare parts in the 1950s.

Today [2019] it is still possible to see a half-ass [incorrectly] painted replica of this Lancaster bomber painted on KB944 in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Canada. In 1962, a pilot named Lynn Garrison of Calgary, Alberta, began collecting aircraft for “Canada’s Flying Aviation Museum” something like Vintage Wings of Canada is today. This caused a bit of a stir in Ottawa, both political and in the RCAF, and plans soon developed to form the National Aeronautical Collection based in old RCAF hangars at Rockcliffe, Ontario. In 1965, they began a search for an old KB series Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X bomber which flew in combat operations during WWII. It was soon discovered the Canadian Government had scrapped and destroyed all of the most famous veteran bombers which had been parked at Pearce, Alberta, in September 1945. Then someone found KB994, which was ready to be scrapped at RCAF Station Mountain View, Ontario. This Lancaster had never flown operations in WWII but it was from the KB series and could be painted as a replica to look like a famous WWII RCAF bomber. In 1967, KB994 was incorrectly painted with bombs and a smaller image of the famous RAF cartoon pilot P/O Percy Prune. The other markings [fuselage, tail, P for Panic] on the bomber were never painted, including the pilot words – “The Lover, Loin Me, and The Kiss Kid.” When I interviewed pilot Jack Carter he explained this was an adult joke painted by his ground crew, in referenced to him being a poor pilot and being gay. Of course Jack was neither, being a top qualified pilot with hundreds of hours as a bomber flying instructor before he began his tour of operations.

If you wish to read the complete history of Lancaster KB760 [and KB944] it is found on my Blog, Preserving the Past, #1.

No. 419 [Moose] Squadron flew the first [more than one aircraft] Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X bomber operations on 27 April 1944, to Montzen, Germany, where eight attacked with five Halifax bombers. KB706 [A], KB701 [B], KB711 [C], KB716 [D], KB712 [L], KB719 [T], KB728 [V], and KB713 [X]. This became a No. 6 [RCAF] Group first which is noted in their Daily Operations Record Book.

KB733 arrived with the squadron a few weeks later and received code letters VR-G [G for Goofy]. LAC R. J. Rutz from Hanna, Alberta, painted the new nose art of “Goofy” on the Lancaster and she flew her first operation on 24/25 May 1944 to Aachen-Roth Erde, Germany. Using his bomb stencil, LAC Rutz paints her first bomb tally, and sixty-nine more will appear, the fourth most operations flown by a Canadian Lancaster during WWII.

Goofy arrived at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 16 June 1945, and her serial number never appears with the Lancaster aircraft ferried to Alberta in September 1945. Goofy was assigned as an RCAF instructional airframe [#A450] and flown to Camp Borden, Ontario, 28 September 1945.

KB733 was struck off charge by the RCAF on 18 May 1948, and scrapped without saving her nose art. Goofy was the third oldest surviving RCAF Lancaster that flew in WWII, destroyed and forgotten by the passage of time. The oldest Lancaster Mk. X to return to Canada was KB721, a sister-ship coded VR-B [50 operations] with the nose art name “Linden Rose.”

VR-B “Linden Rose” at RCAF Aylmer, Ontario, used for postwar instructional airframe #A448, 29 September 1945 until 25 November 1948. Sold for scrap.

F/O J. W. Smith arrived with No. 419 Squadron on 6 February 1945, and flew his first operation in VR-J as second Dickie to F/O Griffith, target Duisberg, Germany. The following day he flew second Dickie with F/L Collard to Pforzheim, Germany. On 23 February, his crew flew VR-D to Mainz, Germany, followed by thirteen operations, the last on 16 April 1945, Lancaster VR-S. They flew their bomber “Linden Rose” on seven ops. and returned her to Canada 10 June 1945.

After surviving 50 trips over Germany, “Linden Rose” arrives at Yarmouth, N. S. 10 June 1945.

KB721 was struck off charge by RCAF 25 November 1948, sold to Mr. Cameron Logan at Scotland, Ontario, towed over-land from RCAF Aylmer and scrapped. Images from Lisa Sharp, the granddaughter of pilot F/O J. W. Smith J41159 [Smitty painted on cockpit] who flew his bomber on seven operations, 21 March until 16 April 1945. Below at Aylmer in 1948.

Today this airframe would be worth two million dollars or even more.

Left is Peter Whitfield, from Sarnia, Ontario, and right is Lisa Sharp, the granddaughter of Linden Rose pilot F/O W. J. Smith.
I first met Peter in the early days of the old Lancaster Museum at Nanton, Alberta. Each and every summer, Peter, and his wonderful parents would fly from Ontario, rent a motel room, and for the next two weeks arrived each morning to work on the restoration of the Alberta Lancaster bomber. Lisa flew as a ground crew member on Lancaster KB726 [FM213] the famous “Mynarski” bomber at Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton, for many years. Lisa inspected every part of the Lancaster bomber, making sure it was safe for the pilots to thrill the airshow crowds. These ‘average’ Canadians never receive a mention from our Canadian government, Senior RCAF Officers, or most of all the C.E.O.s, V.I.P.s and bureaucrats who get paid to run our Canadian Aviation Museums. Without these volunteers, many museums in Canada could not survive, and they volunteer their time and money to preserve our RCAF past. When Peter asked me to paint a replica nose art of “Linden Rose” on original Nanton Lancaster aircraft skin, I was honored to do so. RCAF nose art painted on original aircraft skin becomes a living memorial to a loved one who served or gave his life for Canada during WWII. Why can’t our modern RCAF museums understand that?

Our next veteran Lancaster was KB746, NA-S, named Sierra Sue, which appeared in my lead-in history of Pearce, surviving 68 operations over Europe.

This was followed by No. 419 VR-R [Ropey] KB772 which completed 64 operations. During my interview with ground crew LAC Delbert Todd, he informed me that the nose art name was never painted on the Lancaster during combat operations. Then to my surprise, Delbert showed me a photo showing VR-R without a name, taken in mid-May 1945 at Middleton-St.-George. The name Ropey was painted on her nose just a day or two before take-off on 31 May 1945. So, if you are researching a painting, or building a model of KB772 flying operations, don’t paint her with the name Ropey. KB772 never flew combat operations with a nose art name.

KB772 in mid-May 1945, being prepared for the trip to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 31 May 1945. The Lancaster has 64 bombs but no nose name when LAC Todd took this photo.

Arrival at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 10 June 1945, wearing name “Ropey.” Lisa Sharp image.

Ray Wise image taken 10 September 1945, at Pearce, Alberta. LAC Cook, Wyers, and Ray Wise.

Ropey was still at No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce for Christmas 1945, with a covering on her cold nose. It’s possible she never left the airfield, and was sold for scrap on 13 May 1947. Purchased by wealthy rancher Albert Hoving of High River for around $250. Re-sold to the Found Brothers from Malton, Ontario, for $800 in 1950, then re-sold by the Found Brothers back to the Canadian Government for $10,000 in 1951. Used by the RCAF for spare parts, airframe scrapped at Pearce grave-yard in mid-1950s. The found Brothers story will appear later in my history.

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron NA-Z “Zoomin’ Zombie” KB739 became the first RCAF “Ice Wagon”

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron NA-Z, KB739, “Zoomin’ Zombie” completed her last and 56th operation on 25 April 1945, a sister ship of KB882 which today survives in Trenton, Ontario. The pilot was F/O D.W. Murray and the names of his crew are shown above. The return flight to Canada was completed by F/L C.W. Pratt and crew [photo] arriving at Yarmouth, N. S. on 8 June 1945.

After surviving 56 operations over Europe, this veteran Lancaster was one of 288 Canadian constructed bombers to return to Canada, and one of 121 selected for long-term storage at Pearce, Alberta, but she never made the flight. In the postwar era our Lancaster bombers would enjoy an entire new life in the RCAF, and over 100 would be renovated as Lancaster 10s with nine different designations. Most of the early postwar Lancaster aircraft were from the newer FM series which never flew operations during WWII, however many old veterans flew postwar and Zoomin’ Zombie KB739 became the very first. This veteran Ghost Squadron aircraft was taken on charge 12 June 1945, by RCAF Test and Development Establishment Flight at Rockcliffe, Ontario, and became the first unofficial named Rockcliffe “Ice Wagon.” On 5 July 1945, she began electric priming and alcohol de-icing wing testing, but the old warhorse kept breaking down and was unserviceable for many days, which delayed the de-icing test flights. She was replaced by KB961, [new aircraft which never flew operations]. She was flown to Edmonton, Alberta, taken on charge 5 December 1945, by RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment at Namao, Alberta, created on 1 October 1945, but her postwar career was short. In the harsh arctic winter conditions, the skin of Zombie would shrink an inch, her oil seals leaked, and the maintenance to keep her in the air was once again driving the RCAF ground crews crazy. She was placed into storage at Namao in early February 1946, then replaced by a newer Lancaster FM148 on 28 June 1946, and sent for scrapping in the summer of 1948. The postwar history of Canada’s first “Ice Wagon” was then forgotten and just lost with the passage of time.

In the mid-1990’s I featured a number of nose art displays at the then named Lancaster Museum in Nanton, Alberta. During a chat with a visitor named George Marks from Calgary, he mentioned he owned a Lancaster nose art negative and image print, which I could have if I wished. On a visit to George’s home in Calgary, I learned he was a professional photographer and had won a number of awards for his many photo images. In March 1948, George was taking photos around an RCAF storage yard in North Edmonton [RCAF Namao] and came across one RCAF Lancaster Mk. X fuselage which had been partly scrapped. George liked what he saw and snapped this one image, entered it in a photo contest, and walked away with first prize.

This is also a very prized RCAF historical photo which preserves the very last days of a proud RCAF combat veteran Lancaster KB739, NA-Z, from WWII.

For model aviation builders, [or aviation painters] it confirms this first postwar veteran bomber flew with RCAF Test and Development Est. Flight at Rockcliffe, Ontario, and then RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment, Namao, [North Edmonton] wearing her WWII camouflage markings and nose art. Her RCAF Namao replacement FM148 [never flew operations] arrived 28 June 1946, and the RCAF ground crew completely stripped her of all WWII camouflage, and repainted her with their own paint scheme, containing prewar RAF roundels. Another model builder’s one-of-a-kind postwar history making RCAF Lancaster.

This image should also be a “wake-up call” to Senior RCAF Officers, to the historical fact KB882, the sister Lancaster to “Zoomin’ Zombie” is at this moment being restored and painted in postwar markings. We [Canadians] only have one other original Lancaster Mk. X serial KB839, VR-D “Daisy” which flew in WWII. She sits outdoors at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, painted as a British built RAF Lancaster Mk. III. It appears our modern RCAF is destroying their past roots, and with it, all the men and women who died wearing a shoulder patch reading CANADA.

The replacement Lancaster at RCAF Rockcliffe for KB739 [Zoomin’ Zombie] became a new aircraft KB961, which was flown to England, but never assigned to any RCAF Squadron. On 26 May 1945, Lancaster KB961, was assigned to No. 405 [Vancouver] Squadron which were reassigned to No. 6 [RCAF] Group from British Pathfinder Squadron. KB961 was painted with code letters LQ-A, flown to Canada, and landed at RCAF Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 21 June 1945. Flown for storage at Pearce, Alberta, 23 September 1945.

The Canadian laboratories of the National Research Council in Ottawa, began research into the problems of aircraft propeller icing in February 1935. In the spring of 1939, the British requested that aircraft air-icing be conducted in Canada by the National Research Council, in collaboration with the RAF establishment at Farnborough, England. With the declaration of war, the two governments agreed the actual in-flight icing testing would be conducted by RCAF aircrews in Canada, using aircraft supplied by both Canada and England. On 6 September 1939, Test and Development Establishment Flight was formed at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, [Ottawa] Ontario, which included testing in many aspects of aviation. By the fall of 1944, the major problem of propeller icing had been solved with the development of an electric propeller de-icer, which was patented by the National Research Council, and came into worldwide use in the postwar years. The British Ministry of Aviation now requested a priority in conducting icing tests on four engine ferry aircraft over the Atlantic from Canada to England. This in-flight air-testing would be conducted by an American [lend-lease] aircraft PB4Y2 Privateer, the U. S. Navy designated RY3, serial number JT973. When the British flown RY3 arrived at Dorval, Quebec, in March 1945, RAF No. 45 Group Ferry Route to England was disbanded and this caused delays in obtaining the RAF bomber for in-flight ice testing. On 12 June 1945, RCAF Test and Development at Rockcliffe, applied for an RCAF Lancaster bomber to begin the ice testing, and veteran KB739 “Zoomin’ Zombie” was despatched to Ottawa from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, RCAF orders D/23/45. Modifications for flight wing spraying were completed on 27 June, and the first air test was conducted on 5 July 1945. The nose of the Lancaster was modified with a two-foot spray apparatus system which covered the propellers as well as the leading edge of the Lancaster wing with water, which turned to ice. The Lancaster soon earned the name “Ice Wagon” which would be later passed on to the British Liberator IX, serial JT937, in June 1946. Due to the old veteran Lancaster KB739 becoming unserviceable, the unit requested a newer model aircraft for testing and KB961 was selected from storage in Alberta, and flown to Rockcliffe, [Ottawa] Ontario, December 1945. After modification, [January 1946] the new Lancaster bomber began ice-testing for RCAF Test and Development Establishment, with a newly painted nose art featuring a large Raven flying into an ice storm.

KB961 “T & D Rockcliffe Lankie” began water droplet-testing in January 1946, and continued until June 1949, when she was replaced by Lancaster FM199. On 11 January 1946, the British Air Ministry agreed to continue the four-engine ice testing in co-operation with the RCAF Test and Development and lend-lease American RY3 aircraft serial JT973 arrived 24 April 1946. The first test was conducted 5 June 1946, and she was christened “The Rockcliffe Ice Wagon” with appropriate nose art of a “Godly Iceman.”

RY3 made her last ice-test 8 June 1948, flown to Trenton for disposal 1 December 1948, and scrapped 16 November 1949. North Star serial 17513 became the new “Ice Wagon” [December 1950] and the forgotten Lancaster KB961 was modified to a 10SR for Search and Rescue and served with No. 404 Squadron until 28 September 1955, then scrapped.

The Rockcliffe Ice Wagon was painted 5 June 1946, nose art by the very same clever RCAF artist who painted Lancaster KB961, [T & D Rockcliffe Lankie] however his name is unknown. For aviation historians, it should be recorded that RCAF Lancaster KB739, “Zoomin’ Zombie” became the very first Canadian four-engine [Ice Wagon] bomber to be modified and used for electric priming [propellers] and de-icing test flights by RCAF Test and Development at Rockcliffe, Ontario, beginning 5 July 1945. KB739 flew in her WWII markings, including her nose art, and she was the first RCAF test aircraft nicknamed “Ice Wagon.” The second ice wagon became Lancaster KB961, January 1946, which was painted by the RCAF artist in spring of 1946, conducting de-icing tests before the arrival of the American Liberator C. Mk. IX [U.S. Navy RY-3 #90021] 24 April 1946. The American Privateer became the best modified weather research aircraft and the show-piece for the RCAF in Ottawa, but the true facts show the aircraft was a disappointment. The British had only allotted ten per cent of test money for spare parts, and the RY-3 was an orphan, with inherited problems. Her motors were unreliable, gas tanks leaked, Pratt and Whitney Canada could not overhaul her engines, they did not have the equipment in Canada. Spare parts were impossible to find as the Americans had sent their RY-3’s to scrap yards. The RCAF aircrews disliked and distrusted the aircraft and her last flight was 8 June 1948. The last member of the American Liberator family vanished from RCAF history and Lancaster KB961 flew on until fall of 1955. Nose art has preserved this lost RCAF history.

The Moose nose art on KB799, the 100th Canadian built Mk. X Lancaster, dedicated to No. 419 [Moose] Squadron by the factory workers at Malton, Ontario. Shot down 14/15 January 1945, on her 29th operation to bomb Merseberg, Leuna synthetic oil complex, six of her crew survived as P.O.W.s. This most famous Lancaster code VR-W was replaced by KB851, flown by F/L A.G.R. Warner J12477 on 4/5 February 1945, when ninety-seven aircraft bombed Osterfield, Germany.

The third operation for KB851 took place on 13/14 February 1945, and the pilot was Wing Commander Malcolm Elroy Ferguson C1579. He served as Commanding Officer of No. 419 [Moose] Squadron from 26 January until 6 August 1945, and Lancaster KB851 became his “Baby” named after his baby daughter back home at 241 Shepard St. Sarnia, Ontario. The Wing Commander flew twenty operations in WWII [136:25 Hrs.] and eleven of those trips were in his Lancaster called “The Captain’s Baby.” On 10 June 1945, W/C Ferguson flew his “Baby” back to Canada landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, then proceeded on 35 days leave beginning 13 June 1945. With the end of the war [Japanese surrender] KB851 was flown to RCAF Station Delbert, Nova Scotia, on 8 September 1945 by Pilot Officer Connally, one hour and 2 minutes’ flight. Arrived at Pearce, Alberta, 23 September 1945, then placed into long-term storage.

KB851 was taken from storage in summer of 1951 and flown to Trenton, Ontario, then placed into storage with a number of other veteran Lancaster aircraft. In 1957, KB848 [ex-WWII veteran No. 428 Sqn. “Fightin’ Pappy”] and No. 419 veteran KB851 “The Captain’s Baby” were selected for conversion to carry and test the RCAF Ryan KDA-4 Firebee recoverable drones. They were ferried to Fairey Aviation in Nova Scotia, and configured to carry, launch, and film the drone test aircraft, becoming 10DC [Drone Carrier] Lancaster aircraft. RCAF image below.

During the restoration at Fairey Aviation, someone realized the WWII RCAF nose art from KB851 should be saved, and today the original is in storage at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. I saw it in 2004, and after over fifty years of research believe this is the only surviving RCAF Lancaster nose art from WWII. Miss Ferguson would be around 78 years of age today.

Today [2019] the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa have the original complete nose and cockpit of KB848, which flew 26 operations with No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron as NA-G. And across the street [figure of speech] at the War Museum in Ottawa, they have the original nose art from No. 419 [Moose] Squadron VR-W, “The Captain’s Baby” which flew 25 operations in WWII. These were the only two Lancaster aircraft to test the RCAF Ryan Firebee Drones, which continued until 1961. That is why they were saved, as someone at last understood they might be important to RCAF historical past. This is rare Canadian RCAF history, but our WWII historians and bureaucrats in Ottawa have to get ‘their’ heads together, digest, and display.

The very first southern Alberta wet snowfall began on 22 September 1945, and it came down all day long. This caused the delay of the arrival of the very last thirty Lancaster bombers from No. 405 and 408 Squadrons [No. 664 Wing] of Tiger Force. They arrived on 23 and 24 September and the total came to at least 121 veteran RCAF bombers delivered to Pearce from Nova Scotia. This image [below] was taken on 1 October 1945, when “Indian Summer” arrived and the snow was beginning to melt. The rows of Lancaster aircraft are slowly starting to decline in numbers as ferry pilots arrive to fly them to other RCAF Stations around southern Alberta.

When I interviewed Raymond Wise, he was very firm in the number of Lancaster bomber engines he started each and every morning, being from eighty-three aircraft. No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, Pearce, Alberta, was formed 21 January 1945, and came under control of No. 1 R.E.M.U. in Lethbridge, Alberta. The Lethbridge Daily Diary gives the correct number of Lancaster bombers and date of arrival at Pearce.

Thirty Lancaster aircraft arrived on 8 and 9 September, [No. 419 and 428 Squadrons] followed by thirty more on 13 September, [No. 431 and 434 Squadrons] thirty-one arrived on 14 September [No. 420 and 425 Squadrons] and the last thirty arrived 23 September 1945, [No. 405 and 408 Squadrons]. At least 121 RCAF veteran World War Two Lancaster bombers were flown to Pearce, Alberta, where they remained for a few short weeks. RCAF ferry crews next arrived by Avro Anson and Boeing model 247D transport, then the bombers were flown to other RCAF Stations in Alberta, and placed into long-term storage.

Ray Wise photo mid-September 1945.

Ray Wise photographed this rare Boeing model 247D ferry crew transport aircraft at Pearce in September. The RCAF received eight of these aircraft beginning 18 June 1940, and two were assigned No. 121 Squadron Composite Unit at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, serial 7635 and 7636. Six other aircraft flew with No. 12 Communications Squadron, RCAF Rockcliffe, serial 7637, 7638, 7639, 7655, 7839, and 7840. Today one of these aircraft is preserved in our Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, ex-RCAF 7638, Boeing construction number 1699, registration NC13318, converted to a 247D aircraft for the RCAF on 13 July 1935. One of only four in the world, the Canadian 247D in Ottawa was donated in 1967, by an Alberta Oil Company. RCAF records show all eight were taken off strength by RCAF on 2 December 1942, yet here is one still flying at Pearce, Alberta, in September 1945. This could possibly be the one in the Ray Wise photo, if it was sold postwar to the Alberta Oil Company.

Ray also photographed one of the Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft used to fly in ferry crews for the Lancaster bombers. Serial FP770 she was taken on charge by RCAF on 8 October 1942, and off charge 22 September 1946, with total flying hours 1491:10. The tail markings showing this Anson possibly flew with No. 2 Air Training Command during her wartime training days.

This is Canadian built Mosquito KB428 at Pearce in late September 1945. Constructed 20 July 1944, taken on charge by RCAF 14 September 44, assigned to No. 1 Winter Experimental Training Flight at Gimli, Manitoba, where it flew until 22 September 1945. On 22 September, No. 1 W.E.T.F. was disbanded and reformed 1 October 1945, as Winter Experimental Establishment, at RCAF Namao, North Edmonton, Alberta. The Mosquito was flown at W.E.E. as a pilot trainer, and for winter testing, until her last test flight on 6 March 1946, then placed into storage at Namao. On 9 July 1946, Mosquito KB428 became an instructional airframe #A516, struck off charge by RCAF on 27 February 1950.

These two images came from Peter Whitfield collection and they show eight of seventeen Lancaster’s remained outdoors at Pearce December 1945. KB746 VR-S “Sierra Sue” arrived on 8 September and was still parked out in the winter cold four months later. The Daily Diary reports eight inches of snow fell on Pearce, Alberta, 10 December 1945, and that seems to match these two photos.

The last long-term storage of 120 Lancaster veteran bombers in Alberta was completed by the end of January 1946, and the hangar doors were locked.
In total seventeen known Lancaster aircraft were placed into long-term storage at Pearce, Alberta, and thirteen were RCAF WWII combat veterans.
KB746 No. 419 Squadron VR-S “Sierra Sue” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB757 No. 428 Squadron NA-C off charge 16 January 1947.
KB760 No. 428 Squadron NA-P “P for Panic” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB794 No. 428 Squadron NA-W off charge 16 January 1947.
KB843 No. 428 Squadron NA-D “Dolly” off charge 13 May 1947.
KB864 No. 428 Squadron NA-S “Sugar’s Blues” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB867 No. 428 Squadron NA-L “L for Lanky” off charge 15 April 1948.
KB881 No. 419 Squadron VR-C “Chopper” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB910 No. 420 Squadron PT-V “Virgin Vickie” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB916 No. 425 Squadron KW-C off charge 30 January 1952.
KB930 No. 425 Squadron KW-N “The Night Mare” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB932 No. 420 Squadron PT-O “Oozy Oscar” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB933 No. 420 Squadron PT-J “Jumpin’ Jupitor” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB940 No. 32 M.U. Postwar 10MR off charge 27 January 1948.
KB969 No. 5 M.U. Postwar 10BR off charge 16 January 1947.
KB982 No. 32 M.U. off charge 16 January 1947.
KB984 No. 32 M.U. Postwar 10BR off charge 16 January 1947.

In January 1947, the Canadian Liberal government decided the Lancaster veteran bombers were no longer needed and Crown War Assets were directed to sell them off to the public, along with spare parts and new Packard engines.

A wealthy Alberta rancher from High River saw the chance to make some easy cash, and purchased 44 old WWII Lancaster aircraft at $250 per airframe. Mr. Albert Hoving purchased fourteen Lancaster aircraft from Pearce, and another thirty which were flown to the abandoned airport at High River, Alberta. He planned to scrap the bombers and sell the aluminum for pots and pans, but the Soviet Union would change his plans. Twenty new American Packard Merlin engines in their containers, and tons of spare parts were also purchased from Crown War Assets and placed into storage at High River, Alberta.

In 1948, the two Found Brothers from Malton, Ontario, formed “Found Brothers Aviation” and began the design of a Canadian four-seat monoplane which was registered as Found FBA-1. By 1950, the Canadian Government realized they required a four-engine long range patrol aircraft to provide Soviet anti-submarine and maritime surveillance of the vast Canadian coastline. Suddenly the veteran Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X would enjoy an entire second life protecting Canada, but first the Canadian Government had to buy back the veteran bombers, engines, and spare parts they had sold [given away] just three years before. The Found Brothers received a Liberal party political leak of the buy-back scheme, obtained a line of credit from their local bank, and then hopped on a train for Calgary, Alberta. This story research was all received from Bud Found himself in a phone call and in letters I wrote to him in 1980s. The Found Brothers located fifty ex-Lancaster RCAF bombers in Alberta and purchased 49 at $800 to $1,000 per airframe, including the 44 owned by Albert Hoving and stored at Pearce and High River, Alberta. They also purchased twenty Packard Merlin engines and all the RCAF spare parts stored at High River. Original photo by Bud Found winter 1950, High River, Alberta.

The Found Brothers then re-sold the 49 Lancaster bombers back to the Canadian Government at market value of $10,000 per airframe. The twenty Packard engines and spare parts were also sold back to the Canadian Government at market value, and the found Brothers received a cheque for almost $600,000.00 Canadian dollars. The profit from this sale financed the production of twenty-six Found FBA-2C aircraft. The company went out of business in July 1968 and today one original Found FBA-2C can be found in our Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, but you won’t find this history beside it. Thanks to our Canadian government screw-up, the poor old taxpayer financed the Found Brothers twenty-six new bush planes, which never became an aviation success.

The RCAF was now left with the job of flying this collection of veteran bombers from Alberta back to Trenton, Ontario. These RCAF bombers had been sitting inside an RCAF hangar [or outside] in Alberta for four and one-half years, now they must be made airworthy.

Ferry trips to RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, and then on to Malton for modification was explained in emails received from ex-LAC Fred Monteith, pictured in the rear door of KB937, No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron PT-G, “Gallopin Gus” at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta, 3 May 1951. Photo – F. Monteith.

This new Lancaster carried WWII nose art but she never flew operations during the war. KB937 arrived at Pearce, Alberta, 14 September 1945, and was placed into long-term storage at Claresholm, Alberta, until March 1951. KB937 was one of seventy-four Lancaster’s modified for a Maritime Reconnaissance/Patrol aircraft and flew until 2 June 1960.

Of the 288 Lancaster Mk. X’s which returned to Canada, over 100 would be modified to nine different versions for postwar service in the RCAF. Most [74] were modified as Mk. 10-MR for Maritime Reconnaissance duties, thirteen became Mk. 10-BR for Bomber Reconnaissance duties, eleven were modified to Mk. 10-P for Photo survey duties, eight became Search and Rescue aircraft, three became navigational trainers, one became the Orenda engine test aircraft and two became Mk. 10-DC for wing launch Firebee drones.
Beginning in 1946, the majority of Lancaster modifications came from the late production FM series of which only five were assigned to active RCAF squadrons in 1945. In the spring of 1951 [No. 404 squadron was formed] and they required many of the older veteran KB series Lancaster “X” aircraft for modification. The RCAF operational postwar use of the Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X’s fell into four main squadrons:
No. 404 based at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 30 April 1951, flew maritime reconnaissance duties until March 1955, then they began to convert to American Lockheed Neptune’s [March 55 to 1960].

No. 405 based at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, was formed on 31 March 1950 and flew maritime reconnaissance until March 1955, then converted to American Lockheed Neptune’s [March 55 to 1958].
No. 407 based at Comox, B. C., formed 1 July 1952, flew maritime reconnaissance until May 1958, then converted to American Neptune’s.
No. 408 formed at Rockcliffe, Ontario, 10 January 1949 for photographic duties until March 1964.
In February and March 1951, over one-hundred of the KB series Lancaster Mk. Xs were pulled from their long-term storage hangars in Alberta and prepared for the short flight to RCAF Station Fort McLeod, where all were given minor pre-fight maintenance.

This image shows KB972 No. 408 Squadron EQ-C “Cuddles” at Fort McLeod, Alberta and beside her is No. 420 Squadron PT-Q Lancaster KB901, which had been in long-term storage at Claresholm, Alberta.

Lancaster KB972 was originally assigned to No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron in England as NA-I, but the war ended before she could fly any operations. Re-assigned to No. 408 [Goose] Squadron for the return flight to Canada, 18 June 1945. The nose art was painted on the aircraft in early May 1945, at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, England, by LAC Robert Douglas Sneddon from Calgary, Alberta, an airframe mechanic. The original painting was a nude lady on a case of booze, however the padre told Robert ‘She’s going home, get some clothing on her.’ All of his 408 squadron nose art paintings were recorded by fellow ground crew member LAC Laverne Thomas Adam Shearer, including “Cuddles.” She arrived at Pearce, 24 September 1945, and went into long-term storage at Claresholm until February 1951. After flight inspection at Fort McLeod, she was flown [with wheels down for safety] to No. 10 Repair Depot at Calgary, Alberta, where Cuddles received major overhaul for the next long two-day flight to Trenton, Ontario.

LAC Fred Monteith was a RCAF wireless operator in newly formed No. 404 [MR] Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron at Greenwood, Nova Scotia. On the same day the squadron was formed, 30 April 1951, he was ordered to become part of a ferry crew that would fly the Lancaster Mk. Xs from Calgary, Alberta, to Trenton, Ontario. These new ferry aircrews boarded a Dakota [C-47] aircraft in Greenwood and departed for Calgary on 31 April 1951, arriving at No. 10 Repair Depot in Calgary on 2 May, and “Cuddles” was waiting there to greet him. Fred took her photo, and later was informed another ferry crew would fly her to Trenton. Cuddles was converted to a Lancaster 10 MR and assigned to No. 407 Squadron, but she never arrived, the Lancaster was destroyed by fire on 30 January 1952.

No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, 2 May 1951, “Cuddles” is ready for her last trip to Trenton, Ontario. In the background is No. 420 [Snowy Owl] PT-E, KB871 “Take Yer Time I’m Easy.”

The pilot of Fred Monteith’s crew received orders to fly WWII veteran KB937, ex-No. 420 [Snowy Owl] squadron PT-G, which still contained the original nose art of “Gallopin’ Gus”, and they departed Calgary for Trenton on 3 May 1951. Photo – F. Monteith.

The trip to Trenton took two days and the crew had no radio contact with ground airport control stations. Fred Monteith was stationed in the nose of the Lancaster and carried a small hand held radio, which had a very short range of two miles. They flew at whatever altitude the pilot picked, around 3,000 to 5,000 feet and followed the railway tracks to each major city, then for a short time made radio contact with the airport control tower. It took one day to reach the airport at Fort William [today Thunder Bay] and then on to Trenton where they arrived on 4 May 51. Next came another ferry crew which ferried the bombers to AVRO [Canada] Malton, Ontario, for modification and return to postwar service.

Fred Monteith flew as radio operator in six Lancaster Mk X’s ferry flights which were delivered to Trenton, the last on 14 June 1951. Mk X Lancasters delivered to RCAF Trenton follow.
KB937, [Gallopin’ “Gus” became 10 MP served with No. 2 [M] Operational Training Unit,]
KB966, [New- became 10 MR, went to No. 405 Squadron]
KB871, [Take Yer Time I’m Easy], 10 MR went to No. 407 Squadron, 15 September 52]
KB857, [Ex-419 VR-N, became 10 MR went to No. 407 Squadron]
KB992, [New 10 MR – 2nd to arrive No. 407 Squadron, 21 July 52]
KB958 [New 10 MR – 1st to arrive No. 407 Squadron 9 July 52].

After modification at “Victory Aircraft” in Malton, now called A.V. Roe Canada Ltd., or just AVRO Canada, they were delivered back to Trenton by ferry crews and then flown to the new RCAF Squadrons.

In total 53 “KB” series serial numbers were modified and served as Mk. 10 variants in the postwar years 1950-1964. The Lancaster 10 [MR] Maritime Reconnaissance model, was produced in the largest number [74] and twenty-three were old veteran aircraft that flew during WWII.

Serial numbers KB857, 865, 871, 875, 914, 919, 929, 934, 940, 945, 948, 955, 956, 960, 964, 966, 972, 974, 977, 992, 995, 997, and 999.

The Lancaster 10 [MP] Maritime Patrol model, had seventeen KB series veteran bombers. Serial numbers KB883, 890,892, 901, 903, 904, 920,925, 937, 943, 946, 949, 957, 958, 959, 973 and 996.

The Lancaster 10 [N] Navigational Trainer was modified and six were sent to RCAF Navigational School at Summerside, Prince Edward Island. Only two were Lancaster veterans KB826 and KB986.

The Lancaster 10 [DC] Drone Carrier, modified two veterans KB848 [nose and cockpit survives today] and KB851 [original nose art “The Captain’s Baby” survives today].
The Lancaster 10 [SR] Search and Rescue flew three KB series veterans which appear officially as KB801 [S] KB944 [S] and KB961 [SR]. Lancaster KB944 survives today in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, painted incorrectly as WWII veteran “P for Panic” KB760.

The Lancaster 10 [AR] Area Reconnaissance was conceived in March 1952, the major reason being the Canadian government concern over Russian ice stations at the North Pole and Soviet claim to sovereignty over the Canadian Arctic Islands. Three Lancaster 10 AR airframes were modified and two were WWII combat veterans KB839, and KB882. The third KB976 never flew operations. Today KB839 and KB882 are the only two surviving Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft which flew operations during World War Two.

The most obvious modification on the three Lancaster Mk. 10 [AR] aircraft became the 40 inch [101 cm] extension of the nose, which would house a AN/APS-42 navigational all-weather radar plus one camera. The aircraft would receive ten cameras, special electronic surveillance equipment plus an array of antennas and special long range fuel tanks in the old bomb bay.

Image from Herb Smale, KB839 “Daisy” flying in her postwar markings as MN839.

Image from Herb Smale shows the two most unique and important Canadian built Lancaster Mk X aircraft in the world today, as both survive. The top aircraft is ex-KB839 “Daisy” the most famous WWII Canadian built Lancaster to survive, with a total of 26 wartime operations flown from 28/29 January 1945 to 25 April 1945. The second is ex-KB882 which completed eleven operations between 12 March and 25 April 1945.
In March 1964, a “White Paper” was tabled in the House of Commons in Ottawa, P.M. Pierre Trudeau and his governing Liberal party were about to change Canada’s defence policy and the RCAF would become “Canadian Armed Forces.” In the same month and year, the Canadian built Lancaster 10 was retired from service with the RCAF. On 1 February 1968, the Canadian Forces Reorganization Act came into effect and the identity, records, and all RCAF achievements were laid to rest, the Royal Canadian Air Force was no more. The terms “Canadian Armed Forces” and “Canadian Forces” both became official and were painted on aircraft.

I have interviewed a good number of WWII RCAF veterans who retired with disgust over these actions from P.M. Trudeau and his governing Liberal party who destroyed our RCAF. Could the destruction of our last two WWII Lancaster aircraft be political?

The scrapping of Canada’s veteran KB series WWII combat flown bombers began in the mid-1950s and continued until only a few survived. From the total of 121 Lancaster Mk. X bombers flown to Pearce, Alberta, in September 1945, fifty-three would be modified and fly in the postwar era. By 1960, most of Canada’s veteran Lancaster bombers had been retired from service and scrapped. The RCAF in Ottawa failed to research, select for preservation, or protection, even one of their most famous veteran WWII bombers. Today [2019] Canada [as might be expected] has the largest collection of original Canadian built WWII Lancaster Mk. X aircraft in the world, with eight located in four provinces. Four in Ontario – KB882 [Trenton], KB944 [Ottawa], FM212 [Windsor], and the most famous in the world, FM213 flying in Hamilton. Alberta is next with two – FM136 in Calgary and FM159 in Nanton. Greenwood, Nova Scotia, has KB839 and Victoria, B.C. has FM104. From this handful of Lancaster survivors, only KB944 in Ottawa, was luckily found by our government in 1967, and donated to the present day Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Sadly, KB944 still remains a poorly researched and incorrectly painted replica for past fifty-plus years.

The other Canadian Lancaster bombers all survive thanks to chance, when they were purchased by caring Canadian civilians for $800 to $1,300 each. Every surviving Canadian RCAF Lancaster also has a history to tell in the correct or incorrect markings each was painted in over the past 55 to 60 years. In the total number of eight surviving Lancaster aircraft today in Canada, not one is painted in their ‘original’ wartime or postwar RCAF markings, and each aircraft is in fact a “replica” aircraft. This can be expected and understood because the majority of Canadian small aviation museums are run by civilian volunteers, farmers, teachers, ex-military, who depend on government handouts, auctions, poker-nights, etc. and cannot hire air historians to properly research, advise, and paint aircraft correctly. They find a war hero, paint their aircraft and that’s about it.

When you read the definition for “Original” it means present or existing from the beginning, first or earliest, the original owner of something. The synonyms are: authentic, genuine, actual, real, true, bona fide, veritable, not copied, kosher, or master. All of the KB series of Lancaster bombers fall under this definition, and if you display, repaint, historically record or copy wrongly, they then become a replica of another original Lancaster aircraft. The most embarrassing paint job of all our Canadian RCAF Lancaster bombers is found in our “Canadian Smithsonian” the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. These experts are highly paid; however, they can’t paint our RCAF veterans Lancaster aircraft correctly, not even in replica markings.

This half-painted ‘replica’ is not even close to the original in colors, location of art, or replica in size, and that is where the most foreign visitors meet our Canadian built Lancaster bomber. The RCAF veterans from WWII called her the ‘fake Lancaster’ long before Mr. Trump used the term.

FM100 to FM229 were constructed at Victory Aircraft, Malton, Ontario, from April to August 1945. The last seventy aircraft [FM230 to FM300] were cancelled when the war ended. Only one Canadian Avro Lincoln B Mk. XV was constructed.

Five of Canada’s eight surviving Lancaster aircraft came from the FM series [above] bombers which never flew operations during WWII, and yet today, four are painted as a replica of WWII original bombers. Only five FM series Lancaster aircraft were assigned to RCAF Squadrons at the end of WWII. FM110 [R], FM115 [Z], FM120 [J] and FM122 [L] were assigned to No. 405 Squadron on 26 May 1945, for return to Canada, and preparation for “Tiger Force” and the Pacific war against Japan. Only one Lancaster Mk. X, FM122 contained any known WWII nose art painting, which was painted for the coming air war against Japan.

FM122 was painted with nude nose art at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, England between 26 May to 15 June 1945. Canadian Lancaster Mk. X, code LQ-L was named “The Lady Love” by her ferry crew, and LAC Robert Sneddon from Calgary, Alberta, completed the nude lady and the fifty operations flown in a previous British built Lancaster III [Special]. The RCAF Pathfinder squadron never flew a British bomber with code letter “L.” The nose proudly displays a Maple Leaf for the fact they flew with British No. 8 [Pathfinder] Squadron at Gransden Lodge, Beds, from 19 April 1943 until 25 May 1945. No. 405 Squadron was re-assigned back to No. 6 [RCAF] Group on 26 May 1945, taking on charge eighteen Canadian built Mk, X bombers, and returned to Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 21 June 1945. [Serial KB961 [A], KB964 [B], KB997 [C], KB965 [D], KB977 [E], KB973 [F], KB991 [G], KB967 [H], FM120 [J], FM122 [L], KB700 [Q], FM110 [R], KB945 [T], KB949 [U], KB957 [W], KB952 [X], KB959 [Y], and FM115 [Z].

A good number of old Hawker Siddeley Canada photos record at least thirty Lancaster bombers from the FM series were flown to Malton, Ontario, where the wings were removed and the fuselage covered by protective tarps. That is mostly likely where “The Lady Love” found herself parked until 1949, when she was modified into a Mk. 10 [P] photographic reconnaissance and assigned to No. 408 Squadron. By Christmas 1950, No. 408 had taken over the entire photo survey and reconnaissance role in the Canadian Arctic north. The squadron soon became involved in a host of miscellaneous duties, transport, gathering Russian air samples, mercy flights, and even search and rescue in the far north. The aerial photo-mapping of Canada began on 20 May 1944, conducted by No. 7 [Photographic] Wing, No. 13 [Photo] Squadron, which was originally created as an RCAF wartime experimental photo flight squadron. In October 1945, No. 13 [P] Squadron received two old veteran WWII Lancaster bombers from storage at Pearce, Alberta, for photo testing, KB884 [ex-No. 419 Squadron] and KB917 [ex-No. 420 Squadron]. This testing resulted in an RCAF order [August 1946] for Avro Canada to modify Lancaster FM212 as the prototype 10P Photographic Reconnaissance four-engine aircraft. On 1 April 1947, No. 13 [P] Squadron became RCAF No. 413 Aerial Photo Squadron and FM212 arrived 4 June 47, air-tested 21 June, and C-1 auto pilot installed 2 July 1947. FM212 became the work-horse and major test station for the future mapping of Canada. On 1 January 1948, No. 413 Aerial Survey Squadron were flying six 10P aircraft, FM212, FM214, FM215, FM216, FM217, and FM218. No. 408 Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ontario, 10 January 1950, and was originally created to share the photo survey work with No. 413 Squadron. On 1 November 1950, No. 413 Aerial Survey was disbanded and No. 408 took over the photo/recon role. FM212 [today survives in Windsor, Ontario] was the first RCAF prototype 10P model, flying and mapping Canada from 3 July 1947 until the Lancaster was retired in 1964. Rare Canadian RCAF cultural aviation heritage history. For this very reason, the RCAF Senior Officers picked Lancaster FM212 to fly the very last official symbolic flight of a Lancaster Mk. X aircraft in Canada, 11 March 1964. Once again, another RCAF historic making aircraft was saved by civilians from the City of Windsor in 1964, however it has never been painted or displayed in its original correct heritage setting RCAF markings. Today it is being restored, preserved, and protected, [with very high professional workmanship] however it appears it will again be painted as a replica British built RAF Lancaster Mk. III, flying with No. 8 [Pathfinder] No. 405 Squadron. We already have one No. 405 Squadron British replica Lancaster Mk. III [Special] in Greenwood Military Aviation Museum painted on Canada’s most famous “ORIGINAL” combat flown Lancaster Mk. X, “Daisy” and a third British Lancaster replica at “Canada’s Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta.”


Aircraft restoration refers to the treatment procedures which will return an aircraft into a known or assumed original state, often using non-original material as replacement for damaged or missing parts. I am happy to report Canadian Lancaster restoration has today reached its highest peak, after sixty-five years of neglect and improper care of our eight surviving Canadian built Mk, X bombers. The second and clearly most important part of aircraft restoration is conservation, the profession devoted to the preservation of our “Canadian” cultural property for all future Canadians to see and become educated in our RCAF past. Conservation also includes stabilization, examination, and treatment intended to maintain the integrity of an original aircraft and prevent deterioration of the airframe body. Canada’s most famous surviving veteran WWII Lancaster Mk. X, “DAISY” KB839, remains out in the rain and snow at CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia, a military operated RCAF museum, where she was painted replica as a British RAF Lancaster Mk. III. How can these members wear a poppy on 11 November?

You would think [expect] one or two Senior RCAF Officers in Ottawa would want to save, and correctly paint this rare part of ‘their’ own roots, heritage, and veteran combat Lancaster which flew 26 combat operations in World War Two. No, silence of the lambs. While the RCAF in Nova Scotia have done an excellent job in destroying our last rare RCAF WWII Lancaster “Daisy” and not preserved Canadian culture history, the exact opposite is taking place on the west coast of Canada.

The history of Lancaster FM104 can be found on many websites and need not be repeated, most of all the City of Toronto rejection of their Lancaster Mk. X bomber. Thanks to the City of Toronto, a rare RCAF cultural gem has been saved and will be restored to flying condition by the B.C. Aviation Museum at North Saanich, British Columbia. Please go online and enjoy what is being preserved for all Canadians, and a very first for Canada. FM104 is the oldest surviving Canadian built Lancaster from the “FM” series, but much more important is the fact FM104 will become the only “ORIGINAL” flying Lancaster Mk. 10MR in the world, when restoration is completed. The B.C. Aviation Museum [volunteer civilians again] are restoring, preserving, and saving an RCAF cultural aircraft, which flew from CFB Comox, B.C., for twenty years. If you want to make a wise donation to save CANADIAN CULTURE, send a cheque to North Saanich, B.C., they know what they are doing.

At present time [2019] not one of our surviving other seven Canadian Lancaster aircraft are preserved and painted correctly in their ‘original’ RCAF markings, in fact the other seven bombers are all replica aircraft. I have no problem with painting replica aircraft provided they are painted correctly, and preserve “Canadian” culture. At present Canadians have four Lancaster Mk. X aircraft on display in Canada, and not one is correctly painted as a true replica aircraft. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. Their National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world and each one is painted in 100% correct markings. If our Canadian Museums want to become the best, you must please attempt to meet the standards set by the American Smithsonian Institution. Canadian museums still have a long, long, way to go in learning and painting their Lancaster aircraft correctly.

FM136 Calgary – painted replica incorrectly, RCAF for Ronnie Jenkins.

WL-O serial # KB-895, 434 Squadron. (Photo courtesy – Clarence Simonsen)

FM159 Nanton – painted replica RAF, wearing incorrect nose painting Victoria Cross.

FM212 Windsor – painted [unknown] replica RAF. Please don’t put that “Old Penny” on her nose, that’s not correct WWII replica.

FM213 Hamilton – painted replica RCAF, flies with original WWII centre-section. [Carries incorrect nose painting of Victoria Cross art]

KB839 Greenwood – painted replica correctly RAF [Canada’s most famous WWII combat veteran 26 operations] WWII Heritage destroyed by modern RCAF museum.

KB882 Trenton – under restoration, will be painted correctly as RCAF post war. [Canada’s second combat veteran WWII Lancaster, eleven operations] WWII Heritage destroyed by modern RCAF museum, and home of RCAF.

KB944 Ottawa – painted replica RCAF incorrectly for past fifty years. If painted properly, [King of the Air] would become an original RCAF Lancaster.

This history is dedicated to J24764 F/L Peter H. Tulk, pilot of KB839 “Daisy”

Rest in Peace Daisy


About a Flying Turtle

Clarence Simonsen has been a precious contributor to the mission I started in 2009 to preserve the past… Every time I get a chance to share and add more information I do.

Today I have an update for you to read at the end of this original story about a flying turtle posted in 2014.

Hello Pierre,

This is in fact three stories in one. Group Captain Dunlap was an outstanding RCAF Officer, who served [exchange duty] with the RAF in 1935, and for this reason understood the British and thinking of the pre-war RAF. He was one officer who was not afraid to express his true point of view and give a blunt reply to everything. He was in fact – “a man’s man” and did everything he could to serve and take care of the members under his command. When he arrived in North Africa and was informed [by RAF Command] the best landing strips had been taken by the RAF, he was determined his Canadians would not take second best or fly at night from the mountainous regions the British had picked for him. By the use of the barter system and some booze, he persuaded a Major in the American Engineers to build two dirt strips next to the RAF units, then informed the RAF Command to supply his three RCAF squadrons. This saved Canadian lives, [including French-Canadians] and showed the British the type of Canadian officer who was in total command of his RCAF squadrons.

The creation of No 420 and 425 Wellington desert nose art began at these two dirt landing strips, thanks to LAC Skip Rutledge. In a crazy twist of fate, the official war artist [Paul Goranson] also recorded the same Wellington nose art as painted by Rutledge. This would make an impressive educational display if we only had a nose art museum. Other paintings by Goranson capturing the air war in the desert are in storage in the War Museum but will they ever be shown? This is a simple case [but very rare] where unofficial nose art and official war art can be combined to educate.

The power of nose art can be clearly seen in the little slow Wellington bomber, which set a record in No. 425 with 46 consecutive operations. This was all due to the fact the French Canadian ground crew took extra care of their “Slow but Sure” bomber. My replica turtle painting has never been published before.

Over to you Pierre.

All my best in the New Year.

Here is another gem post from Clarence Simonsen. This time it’s about RCAF Squadrons in Tunisia in 1943.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy

On 22 June 1942, an organization order was issued authorizing the formation of Canada’s fifth RCAF Heavy Bomber squadron in England. No. 425 squadron came into existence three days later at R.A.F. Station Dishforth, Yorkshire, England, a unit in No. 4 Group of Bomber command. What made this squadron unique in the wartime RCAF history is the fact it was formed as a French Canadian unit and its ranks filled by French Canadian air and ground crews. They picked the motto “Je te plumerai” [I shall pluck you] and the nickname Alouette, the official badge showing a sky lard bird in the hovering position.

logo escadron 425

Centuries before, their French ancestors the Gauls, used this same lark bird image as the official tribe emblem and engraved it on their battle helmets in time of war. No. 425 began training in the Vickers Wellington B. Mk. III bombers in August 1942, with eight crews flying the first operation to Aachen, Germany, on 5 October 1942. On 1 January 1943, the French Canadian squadron joined eight other squadrons to become No. 6 [RCAF] Group of RAF Bomber Command. By April 1943, the Alouette Wellington aircraft had successfully bombed Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Bochum, Hamburg [2], Cologne [2], Essen [2] and a third trip to Duisburg, Germany, on 26 April 43.

On 3 April 1943, the British Air Ministry asked the Canadian Government to approve the use of three experienced Wellington RCAF squadrons for the invasion of Sicily, named Operation “Husky.” On 10 April, No. 420, 424 and 425 Squadrons were selected to become part of No. 205 [RAF] Group, 331 Wing, flying new Wellington Mk. X bombers which were tropicalized for use in the heat, sand, and frequent dust storms of Tunisia. No. 331 Wing was officially formed on 7 May 1943, under command of Group Captain Clarence Larry Dunlap, a pre-war RCAF officer.

All my best in the New Year.

Group Captain Clarence Rupert Larry Dunlap 1943

Upon arrival in the theatre of operations [21 June 43] G/C Dunlap was informed it would be impossible for the Canadians to operate out of the planes of Tunisia, as this space had been claimed by three squadrons of the RAF under No. 331 Wing.

No. 70 RAF Squadron had taken over Kairouan/Temmar on 25 May 43, No. 40 RAF Squadron had moved 10 miles north to occupy Kairouan/El Alem, on 28 May 43, while No. 37 RAF Squadron was located south at Kairouan/Allami on 30 May 1943.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (11)

No. 331 Wing RAF in West Kairouan May 1943

The new Canadian RCAF commander of No. 331 Wing was not impressed when the British informed him he would be operating further south-west in the mountainous region between Algeria and Tunisia. Thanks to some lost poker cash and a few bottles of Scotch whiskey, two new RCAF dirt airfields were constructed in four days by a Major in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. G/C Dunlap then informed RAF Mediterranean Air Command Headquarters the RCAF would be located in the Tunisian plains and the RAF should find the means to supply his Canadian squadrons with fuel, ammunition and food. The British reluctantly agreed, and the Canadians prepared for air war in North African.

The Canadians of No. 424 Squadron moved into Kairouan/Pavillier, while members of No. 420 and 425 Squadrons took over the new landing strip at Kairouan/Zina on 23 June 1943. The two new dirt landing air strips were only ten miles apart and thirty miles from the Mediterranean coast city of Sousse, much safer for the Canadians returning from night time operations.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (9)

By 25 June 1943, No. 425 Squadron was declared operational and flew their first operation on 26/27 June 43, when they joined No. 420 Squadron attacked the airstrip at the town of Sciacca, then continued with raids on other ports in Sardinia and Sicilian airfields.




photo Floyd Rutledge

LAC Floyd “Skip” Rutledge joined the RCAF on 17 October 1940, and after training as an air engine mechanic was posted to No. 3 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, for practical experience in his trade. In April 1942, he was posted to his first active squadron No. 420 [Snowy Owl] at Waddington, Linc. , England. Here he painted his very first RCAF nose art on a Handley-Page Hampton Mk. I bomber, which featured a native Indian in full head dress.

Skip arrived at Kairouan/Zina air strip on 23 June 1943, and began working on the new Wellington Mk. X aircraft in the extreme 120 F desert outdoor conditions. During his tour in North Africa he painted at least five Wellington aircraft with RCAF nose art. [Possibly including Wellington bombers in No. 425 Squadron, he could not recall?]

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Stork Stork Clarence Simonsen

This impressive stork with the tail of a Wellington bomber was painted for No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron at Kairouan/Zina, air strip in August 1943. [photo Floyd Rutledge] The 2003 scale replica was painted by Simonsen and today hangs in the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta. This original stork sketch done by Skip in North Africa 1943, was also donated to Nanton in 2010 by Simonsen.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (7)

In August 1943, official war artist Paul Goranson painted this Wellington nose art of No. 420 Squadron bomber “Scarlet Harlot” which he titled “Bombing Up a Blockbuster.” This was sketched at Kairouan/Zina featuring pinup girl painted by nose artist “Skip” Rutledge. This painting is today in the War Museum collection or photo PL47565.

This is the original Wellington nose art by Skip Rutledge, photographed by him in August 1943, North Africa, Kairouan/Zina.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (6)

The three RCAF Squadrons based at Landing strip Kairouan/Pavillier [No. 424] and Kairouan/Zina [No. 420 and 425] would produce impressive Canadian Wellington nose art paintings.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (5)

S/L Joe McCarthy, DFC, No. 424 Squadron, Kairouan/Pavillier, 28 September 1943. [PL18385]

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (4)

F/Sgt. Art Jackson [Vancouver, B.C.] F/Sgt. B.H. Tremblay, [Montreal] and F/Sgt. Joe Ross, [River Bend, Quebec] admire their No. 425 Wellington Mk. X bomber “Chat-an-ooga-choo-choo” nose art. 31 August 1943. [PL18303]


From the very first operation flown on 26/27 June 43, one “Alouette” Wellington Mk. X bomber code “X” for X-Ray, HE978, immediately acquired a reputation for being very slow, most often the last bomber to land at base, but always coming home. Night after night this Wellington KW-X flew different crews to Mediterranean targets, always returning very last, but never acting temperamental like some bombers in the squadron. The air and ground crews began to feel a kind of condescending confidence in this slow aircraft, with the ground crew slowly getting over their feelings of inferiority. Soon they were lavishing extra hours of repair work and attention to the engines of their slow bomber.

Wellington ground crew –

Cpl. Andre Lupien from Lac a la Tortue, Quebec.

LAC Yvon Monette from Montreal, Quebec.

LAC Eric Merry from Vancouver, B.C.

LAC C. Schierer from Ponoka, Alberta.

After each operation the ground crew painted a small orange bomb for night operations, and as the bombs mounted, they spoke with subdued pride of ‘their’ aircraft. When the Wellington was shot up the same ground crew worked all the next day to have her ready for the next night operation. When the Sicilian campaign ended their bomber had not missed one single operation, a 425 Alouette record of 32 consecutive trips to Sicily, which they proudly boosted about. Pilot Officer Armitage from Miniota, Manitoba, was the bomb aimer on many operations flown in the Wellington bomber, and he dreamed up the idea of giving her a nose art name “Slow But Sure” taken from Aesop’s fable of “The Hare and the Tortoise.” Next came the nose art image created by P/O Armitage, who was assisted by all the ground crew in painting the new art on the left nose area. The nose art became a winged turtle holding one large bomb in her claws.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (3)

With the capture of Sicily, it was intended that No. 331 Wing would be disbanded and return to Britain by the end of July 1943. This date was moved back to 15 September 1943, and the Wing would now take part in the invasion of Italy.

Wellington “Slow But Sure” was now flying day time operations bombing the Foggia Italian airfields, railway yards in Naples, and rail and road junctions of Salerno. These targets were now painted with white bombs on her nose, and she was no longer looking new, with her life span now measured in hours. The big surprise was the fact her bomber performances kept improving and in her last four operations, she was in the first group of bombers to return to base. On 15 September 43, the little “Turtle with wings” made her 46th consecutive operation to bomb Italy, but on return her bearings were worn out. She was taken off operations and ordered to a salvage unit. While looking at their bomber, the ground crew decided she should be given a D.F.C. for all those record making operations. Between the last row of bombs a DFC ribbon was painted with her nose art.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (2)


[Photo PL18351] records the top left [ground crew LAC C. Schierer] four aircrew and bottom ground crew – L to R LAC E. Merry, Cpl. A. Lupien and LAC Y. Monette. These were the very proud ground crew who painted the impressive record of 46 operations [32 night and 14 day] plus the little “Turtle with Wings” nose art.


A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (10)-001

On 30 September 1943, the three RCAF Squadrons of No. 331 Wing pull up tents and move to Landing Ground #33 at Hani East, Tunisia.

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (10)-002

This RCAF “Moving Day” was captured in another official water color by war artist Paul Goranson, 30 Sept. 1943. Today this painting remains in storage in the War Museum collection in Ottawa. [photo image PL47563]

A French Canadian Turtle with Wings - Copy (10)-003

No. 425 Wellington B. Mk. X, “Blues in the Night.” Left to Right – P/O J.E. Leigh, F/Sgt. R.S. MacKay, Ferdinand le Dressay and P/O C. L. Spooner, 31 August 1943, [PL183303]

The nose art images on the Wellington bombers of No. 425 Squadron continued their fight until early October 1943, when the Germans retreated further north in Italy and the front line was stabilized. On 27 October 43, the members of RCAF No. 331 Wing boarded their troop ships and returned to home bases of Dalton, Dishforth and Skipton in England. Their trusty Wellington Mk. X bombers with Canadian nose art was left behind for the RAF units and forgotten.

The little “French Canadian Turtle with Wings” was slow but sure, and to the men who flew in her and came home, she was no Aesop’s’ fable, but a large part of No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron history in North Africa.



This little story of the Flying Turtle begins in the spring of 1943 at the Wellington squadron in Yorkshire England. While on one of my leaves from the squadron the rest of my crew volunteered me to go to North Africa as a replacement crew for one the 3 squadrons that were already there for the Africa Campaign, Since the wheels were already in motion I could not back out. This meant that I had to change my plans to get married (that is another story) since they wanted me to get ready to go right away after embarkation leave.

My crew and I arrived at a base in southern England and were equipped with tropical gear and khaki uniforms and a brand new Wellington aircraft, so new in fact that we had to put a number of flying hours on it in order to iron out the bugs. Our route was from the southern tip of England across the bay of Biscayne, which was patrolled by German long range aircraft, around Spain and make landfall at Port Lyauti in Morocco, North Africa. After refueling and equipping the engines with sand filters we took off for Algeria which was to be our main base.

From our main base we were taken by truck to our squadron which was on an old lake bed in the desert with sand runways. All the “buildings” were tents of various sizes and the latrines were holes in the ground with a fence around them. Not a very inspiring site having left the comforts of England a couple of days ago. We even had to pitch our own tent which held four and was to be our home for an indefinite period. Water was a scarce commodity which had to be trucked in from a town about 10 miles away, Needless to say showers were few and far between until were able to rig up a pump to a well built by the Germans (the previous owners).

The next day I was “introduced to my aircraft,” a beat up dusty Wellington that had seen better days in contrast to the shiny new one I brought down (no doubt a senior officer had that). We “air tested” our new X for Xray and confirmed it was not in very good shape. A check of the records showed that it had suffered some damage on a previous operation and was very slow compared to other aircraft, however it did fly and the engines sounded good.

After a few raids over Italy it was confirmed that it was slow with a bomb load but seemed ok after we dropped our bombs and we could keep up with the rest of the squadron. I then suggested that we should take off a little earlier than everybody else in order to get there at the same time, The CO granted my request. My bomb aimer suggested we should name the aircraft the Turtle. We all agreed and had an “artist” on the squadron design and paint a picture of a turtle with wings carrying a bomb and the inscription “Slow but sure.” A picture of a bomb was added for each operation the aircraft made. The whole operation was such a success that after about 46 trips we decided that the “old lady” deserved the DFC so it was painted on her nose along with the bombs. It was pointed out later that the stripes on the DFC were angled the wrong way but I don’t think the old lady would mind.

The Flying Turtle was retired when her engines were “time expired” and due for an engine change. After the war I heard a group of children commenting on a comic book about war exploits and about a flying turtle. Sure enough it was about my aircraft. A war correspondent that was covering the North Africa campaign heard the story and submitted it. Along with a couple of pictures.

Hope this is what you want. If not I will try again. Good luck on your project.
Ex F/L H. Elliott CD

1943 Kairouan

Pilot Officer (in 1943) Hewitt Elliott’s crew
Armitage L. K. J/21471 P/O Bomb Aimer
Cairns K. Sgt. Navigator
McPhadden S. S. Sgt. Wireless Air Gunner
Ouellette D. Sgt. Rear Gunner

Piquing My Curiosity

I guess Clarence Simonsen piqued my curiosity last week when he sent me his manuscript about the research he had done on an artist who had worked for Wernher von Braun in Peenemünde, and later in the U.S.

Usually Clarence sends me about a 20 to 30 pages Word document with images to copyedit and format on WordPress. This time it was much more, somewhat in the range of 200 pages, and much more controversial since noboby ever bothered to look into tail art on A4 or V-2 rockets.

So I got reading, and copyediting…and formatting his manuscript to put on the blog. The problem is that the contacts he had made had stopped replying to his emails.

So Houston, we might have a problem…

How to tell Clarence Simonsen’s story about an artist who probably painted most of the A/4 (V-2) tail arts in Peenemünde, and later in the U.S., tail arts that Clarence painted replicas of?

I hope I am piquing your curiosity…

“At the home of Baron Magnus von Braun in Wirsitz, in the Prussian province of Posen, life was filled with zest for serious reading, classical music and good conversation in any of half a dozen languages,” according to Wernher von Braun biographer Erik Bergaust.1

The baron was Wernher’s father and the books that his son liked to read best were science fiction. Stories by 19th century writers like Jules Verne fired von Braun’s imagination. In fact, von Braun also tried writing science fiction. One story, “Lunetta” (Little Moon) was published in a distinguished magazine. The story “concerned a rocket flight to a space station during which the crew wore space suits and observed the heavens through special windows,” wrote Helen B. Waters, another von Braun biographer.2

1. National Space Society, Wernher von Braun, 1912-1977, p. 3.
2. Helen B. Waters, Wernher von Braun, Rocket Engineer, (New York, 1964), p. 18.

Art of the Image



RCAF German nose art – Death Comes At Night – Redux

Editor’s  notes

You  are  probably  wondering  why I  posted four links  yesterday.

I  wanted to show  you something Clarence  Simonsen sent me.

Death Comes At Night was written  by Clarence Simonsen, and  I posted this story in December 2014. Little  did  I know there was more to this story than history  had recorded…

Original  post

On the warm summer night of 17/18 August 1943, RAF Bomber Command conducted a precision attack on the German V-2 rocket test site at Peenemunde. This operation was code named “Hydra” [RAF Operation order #176] and used an advance decoy raid to Berlin in an attempt to draw away the German night fighters from the main target on the Baltic coast, 150 kilometers north of Berlin. The raid was unique in many forms, as it was conducted in very thin cloud cover on a bright moonlight night, with the bombers flying at a low altitude of 8,000 feet. The force of 596 RAF bomber aircraft would attack the V-2 site in three separate waves. It took time for the German defenders to understand the main target was Peenemunde and not Berlin, and this allowed the first two waves of bombers to strike with full force. As the final wave of bombers arrived over Peenemunde the German night fighters had arrived in force, thus the majority of the 40 bomber casualties [243 killed, 45 POW] lost over Peenemunde came from the last wave. The Canadian No. 6 RCAF Group was part of the last wave and they suffered the highest casualty rate [19.7] in Bomber Command that night, when twelve of their 57 aircraft failed to return, and sixty were killed.  Three RCAF squadrons [419, 428 and 434] each lost three aircraft over Peenemunde and this is the story of the loss of one new Halifax Mk. V bomber from No. 434 squadron, which carried rare newly painted nose art with German words “Todt Kompt Bei Nacht”. No photo image was ever taken of the nose art.

RCAF German nose art - Copy

Lloyd Christmas was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on 21 July 1919, and during his youth, drawing and painting became a major part of his life. In High School Lloyd received his first instructional art lessons, which were interrupted due to the depression and family problems. Like many Canadian youth of this period, Lloyd was forced to leave school and go to work to support their family. He became an apprentice in a silk screen printing company, where the pay was poor, but jobs were hard to find and it gave him experience in the graphic arts.

Lloyd’s career in the RCAF began at a Manning Depot in Brandon, Manitoba, in early February 1941. He reported to Toronto Manning Depot the following month, and then two months guard duty at Camp Borden in June. In August he reported to Trenton – “they tried to make everyone a Wireless Air Gunner.” Lloyd was soon on a west bound train to No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary, Alberta. “Not finishing High School caused me many problems in the RCAF, long on art, but short on the math.” Lloyd failed the course and returned to Trenton, where he was sent for Air Gunner training, arriving at No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School, just before Christmas 1941. Sgt. Christmas graduated Air Gunner on 2 February 1942, leave, marriage, and report overseas to Stormy Downs, Wales, advanced Gunnery course beginning on 24 May 42. On 28 June he crewed-up with P/Sgt. R. Wright at No. 22 O.T.U. Wellsbourne, flying Wellington aircraft. 1 October 42, conversion to Halifax bomber at No. 1652 H.C.U., joined No. 408 RCAF [Goose] squadron on 24 October. Lloyd flew his first squadron air to sea test firing [rear gunner] in Halifax DG239 on 26 November 1942. Beginning operations on 6 February 1943, Sgt. Christmas flew seven night operations as rear gunner with pilot Sgt. Wright, the last completed on 26 February, Halifax “J” DT769 to Cologne. This original crew was suddenly broken up due to the burn out of their pilot.

Sgt. Christmas next flew three night operations as fill-in for other crews. 4 April – Halifax “S” pilot P/O Harty, [rear gun] 10 April – Halifax “D” pilot F/Sgt. Wood, [rear gun] and 27 May – Halifax “R” pilot F/O Smith [mid-upper gun]. On 11 June 1943, Sgt. Christmas was assigned to fly to Dusseldorf with the crew of pilot Gregg McIntyre Johnston, from Rosetown, Saskatchewan. This veteran combat crew had  their original mid-upper gunner killed and after this operation, the pilot ask Sgt. Christmas if he would join their band of comrades. Lloyd agreed to remain as their mid-upper gunner until the end of their operational tour. The following night the new crew flew Halifax “T” to Bochum.

In July 1943, three experienced aircrew were sent from No. 408 [Goose] squadron to help form the nucleus of No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron. The crew of P/O Gregg Johnston became one of those selected for transfer.

“I do believe we thought up the nose art idea of painting something while we gathered in a pub at Leeming, which was adjacent to 408 Squadron. It never came to fruition until we received a brand new Halifax “G” EB276, on our transfer to No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron.” “We had quite a bit of free time while No. 434 was getting itself organized. We went on leave and I was able to go hunting on the squadron property. After training flights in our new Halifax, I had time to paint my very first [and last] bomber nose art. We had kidded with the idea of using the call sign “G” for German and that led to the idea of painting nose art using German names – “Death Comes at Night”.

I had to first scout around the base to find someone who could give me the German words needed, and I still don’t know if they were correct? I also had much difficulty painting with the coarse brushes, which I borrowed from other ground crew. When I finished the painting, the black German letters TODT KOMPT BEI NACHT appeared in a white circle and the middle of the circle contained a white skull and crossed bones.” “I will now describe what I remember about 17 August 1943. It was a rare beautiful sunny day and the flight engineer [RAF Keith Rowe] and I had ridden my motorcycle into a nearby town. Near lunchtime we returned to the sergeant’s Mess, which was alive with speculation we were going to the ‘Big City’ – BERLIN. When it came time for briefing the big wall map was opened, revealing the tape stretching from Flamborough Head, due east across Denmark and then a right angle turn south in direction of Berlin. The thing that surprised us most was that it went only a little distance south and then turned back west toward England. I do recall we were warned that if we failed to destroy the target on this first try, we would go back as many times as it took to get the job done. That was the first time any of us had heard a statement like that. I remember as we taxied out and started our take-off, I noticed there was an unusually large crowd of personnel lined up parallel to and back from the runway. Because of the light, the sun was just going down; they all looked like a big line of crows. I felt a sense of foreboding.”

“Over the channel we test fired our guns and sure enough two of my 303’s refused to fire. I was still working on them when we arrived over the target. We came in north over the Baltic coast and turned flying north to south over the target, dropped our bombs, then turned west on a course home. We were now attacked three times by three different German night fighters. The first attack came shortly after we left the target; a single engine fighter was spotted by our husky French-Canadian rear gunner Doug Labelle. He quickly gave Johnny instructions to corkscrew to starboard and we lost him. Immediately a twin engine, Bf110, attacked us and again we lost that one with a corkscrew.

Suddenly from far below and off to the port side, obscured by a dark patch of ground, a third aircraft fired cannon shells that arched up like big orange balls, directly into our port inner engine, just below me. Our Halifax seemed to shake and then flame poured from the engine and soon spread along the complete wing. Pilot Johnny gave the order to bail.” “Pilot Gregg Johnston maintained control long enough to allow his crew to escape; but he could not get out and was killed on impact. The crew was captured and the following morning the Germans took rear gunner Labelle to the crash site, to identify his pilot who was lying in the nose section of the Halifax. He was promoted to Pilot Officer posthumously and cited for valor.”

During the raid the Germans used their new “Schrage Musik” 2 x 20 mm cannon weapons for the very first time. The Bf110 aircraft was fitted with twin upward-firing cannons and this is what destroyed the Halifax Mk. V. The bomber crews had no idea they now faced danger from a night-fighter flying below them. Few aircrew saw the night-fighter, just tracer markers in the sky, then it was too late.  Two of the new Schrage Musik Bf110 aircraft found the bomber stream and they shot down six bombers, including “Death Comes At Night.”

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The deadly upward firing 2 X 20 mm canons aimed at 70 degrees.

When Sgt. Lloyd Christmas painted his little nose art on Halifax Mk. V, serial EB276, code WL-G, he had no idea how true his words ‘Death Comes At Night’ would become to the future Peenemunde history.

This first precision raid of WW II was conceived by the RAF to not only destroy the Peenemunde testing facility, but it was also directed at the living and sleeping quarters of the many technical and administrative staff and families as possible. The first RAF wave would bomb the 80 residential buildings at Karlshagen Housing Estate located on Usedom Island, home to the top 500 German scientists and their families. Because of the inaccuracy of the early Pathfinder aircraft, most of the first wave bombers [two thirds] dropped their bombs on the camp at Trassenheide, [two miles south] which housed [forced labor] foreign prisoners of war, killing 555. Although this part of the raid was not effective, two key figures, Walter Thiel and Erich Walther were killed together with their families, along with 50 residential buildings destroyed.  The raid cost the lives of 735 on the ground but only 178 of the over 4,000 in the residential area were killed. The attacks came too late to effect the development of the A-4 rocket and gave the Germans the opportune time to move the rocket production to the infamous Mittelwerk center in the Harz Mountains. This would have a major effect on the future of man in space, American Russian cold war, the creation of NASA, and man on the moon.


At the same time as Operation Hydra, a group of nine Mosquito bombers conducted Operation Whitebait, the dropping of Pathfinder markings over Berlin. This was a complete success and tricked over 200 German night fighters to the defense of the German capital city. During this confusion, the Luftwaffe Chief of Staff, General Hans Jeschonnek erroneously ordered Berlin’s air defenses to open fire on the German night fighters. On 18 August 1943, General Jeschonnek committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

The total Housing Estate was home to 1000 rocket scientists and over 3000 rocket personnel. If the first wave of RAF bombers had struck the intended target [F], the war and future space travel would have been altered. However the mistaken attack on the workers camp at Tassenheide [between rings #3 and #4] allowed all but one top German scientist to escape death. Only 178 rocket personnel were killed in the residential area, out of 4,000, which had little effect on future A/4 rocket development. This unusual operation left its mark in history, but never became the turning point it should have been. The continuous raids [post 18 Aug, 42] by RAF and American 8th Air Force against V-2 supporting facilities had a much larger effect on the A/4 future then the single attack on Peenemunde.

The Water Thiel family lived in apartment Hindenburg Road 56. They had escaped to the trenches in front of their home, but it took a direct hit by RAF bombs. Top rocket engine scientist Walter Erich Oskar Thiel was killed with wife Martha, daughter Sigrid, and son Siegfried. This one death did in fact cause a major setback to the future A/4 rocket development at Peenemunde. Eric Walther, Chief of Maintenance Workshops and family were also killed.

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This post card shows the self-living model village housing estate constructed at Peenemunde, known as Karlshagen Siedlung. The construction was completed in October 1937, and housed 500 of the most brilliant German rocket scientists. Only one-quarter of the first wave bombers stuck this target late, destroying 50 of 80 residential homes. The occupants had escaped to bomb shelters, where only one top scientist [Thiel] and family received a direct bomb hit.

Had the RAF Pathfinder aircraft correctly marked this primary target, many experts technical and administrative, would have been killed. Three-quarters of the first wave bomber force struck the forced labor camp at Trassenheide, killing 555 prisoners of war. In total 18 of 30 wooden sleeping huts were destroyed. This mistake allowed the German A/4 rocket experts to escape to the bomb shelters and only two key figures were killed, Walter Thiel and Erich Walther. Post war interviews with German technicians [Helmut Zoike] even suggest the raid came at an opportune time, allowing the rocket production to be moved to the infamous Mittelwerk center.

In April 1943, Arthur Rudolph had endorsed the use of S.S. forced labor in the production of the A4 rockets in Peenemunde. In early June 1943, the first of 600 French and Russian prisoners of war arrived and began assembling A4 production machinery.

The RAF primary object was to kill as many expert A/4 rocket personnel as possible, including women and children, and this became a complete failure.

The facts in regards to the mistake of marking the wrong target have been covered in many publications by many authors. The RAF Pathfinders were the very best and on this moonlight night with light cloud covering they could not find the correct target? Is it possible one of the lead Pathfinder crewmembers could not bring himself to kill thousands of German women and children as they slept in their beds? The first causality in war is always the truth and the answer to my question may never be known. However, this bombing error did affect the future of world space travel, the Russia – American cold war, landing on the moon in 1969, and today’s space station.

A total of 243 airmen lost their lives that night over Peenemunde. The British lost 167 , Canada came second with 60, Australia 10, New Zealand 3, USA 2, Rhodesia 1, Trinidad 1, and Southern Ireland 1. Of the British total, 69 bodies were recovered from crashed bombers or washed ashore to be interred  in British Berlin cemetery. Twelve bodies drifted east in the Baltic and were interred  in Poland.  

Today 125 aircrews are still listed as “Missing in Action.”

This story is dedicated to the unknown names and forgotten foreign prisoners of war who died on 18 August 1943. Their sacrifice changed the future world of space travel forever.

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British R.A.F. map of the Rocket Base at Peenemunde 17-18 August 1943. Main targets marked in red.

A – Test stand VII, the main A/4 launch pad.

B – Peenemunde south, Production plant, where forced labor worked.

C – Dock for oxygen plant.

D – Test pad

E – Peenemunde East, development works

F – This area housed over 6,000 rocket engineers. The north section was known as settlement I;     further south was the Karlshagen Estates, which housed the 500 most brilliant scientists. This was the primary target, but they bombed two miles south in ring 4.

Was this an error as recorded by all historians?

The Packard Merlin Rolls-Royce Engine and Avro [Canadian] Lancaster Bomber

Research and article by Clarence Simonsen

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This classic 1939 British poster celebrates fifty years of British aviation design and aircraft production, as the topless English lady looks to the beginning of her dark war-torn future. The next five war years will bring together the development of British and American aircraft and aero-engines which will effect combatant air forces until the end of the hostilities in May 1945. My story will be told by poster ads used in that time period, also demonstrating how the Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X bomber idea was created and constructed using North American engines and parts.

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This pre-war British ad possibly appeared in 1938, when the first production Spitfire Mk. I fighters were delivered to No. 19 and 66 RAF Squadrons. The prototype Spitfire was fitted with the first Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and flew in March 1936, setting a world record of 342 mph [547.2 km/h]. A total of 305 Spitfires were built before the war and over 21,000 during the war years, which appeared in 29 different versions. Over 730 were supplied to the U.S. Army Air Force under reverse “Lend-Lease.” This British aircraft design combined with the Rolls-Royce engine made it a front ranked WWII fighter of all time.

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Rolls-Royce Ltd. was established on 15 March 1906, with aero-engine works at Derby, Crewe and Glasgow. They specialized in the production of high performance liquid cooled aircraft engines named the Merlin and Griffon. This 1940 ad promotes the new type Griffon engine which was produced with the outbreak of war in September 1939. This engine was also drawing large interest from the American aviation industry and Government Defense agencies.

In June 1940, the American Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr., held discussions with Henry Ford’s son Edsel, regarding the building of the British Rolls-Royce aircraft engine in the Ford Motor Company plant. Edsel tentatively agreed to produce 6,000 Rolls-Royce engines for Great Britain and 3,000 for the United States. In mid-July, Henry Ford called off the entire deal when he refused to manufacture any engines for Great Britain to support their war effort.

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Get the facts

LIFE magazine 2 December 1940

The American Defense Advisory Commission subsequently turned to another car manufacturer located in Detroit. In September 1940, an agreement for $130,000,000.00 was signed with the Packard Car Company and this turned out to be a very good choice for the future war effort, Great Britain, the United States and British aircraft manufactured in U.K. and Canada. The Packard built Merlin Rolls-Royce aircraft engines are sometimes confused with the American Packard built Marine engines used in the U.S. Navy PT-Boats.

In 1939, the U.S. Navy contracted the Huckins Yacht Corporation and Electric Launch Company [ELCO] to design three different high speed boats [P.T.] and these were constructed in eight different boats, designated PT-1 to 8. In testing they were found to lack the speed and capabilities the Navy sought. The ELCO company made a trip to England and procured one high speed 70 foot British Hubert Scott-Paine constructed power boat. This British boat was used on an experimental basis and designated PT-9 on 17 June 1940, by the U.S. Navy.

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On the left is the British built [Hubert Scott-Paine] experimental PT-9 boat sporting the new Walt Disney designed “Mosquito Fleet”. On the left is Lieutenant Earl S. Caldwell, Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C., the officer who wrote to Walt Disney requesting the new Patrol Torpedo insignia.

The U.S. Navy was pleased with the British design and ordered ten examples to be constructed by ELCO and they were given the designation PT-10 to 19. These new boats were installed with three Packard built Marine gasoline engines of 1,350 horsepower each. These engines were built by Packard’s chief engineer, Jesse Vincent beginning in 1929, and were not part of the British Rolls-Royce contract. The first ten boats were built at Bayonne New Jersey 70′ and the first PT-10 was launched on 20 August 1940. PT-10 was transferred to the Royal Navy on 11 April 1941 and became H.M.M.T.B. 259.

The most famous ELCO constructed boat with Packard Marine engines became Bayonne New Jersey 80′, launched on 20 June 1942 and designated PT-109, skipper John F. Kennedy.

Located by deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard on 22 May 2002, the remains are 1,200 feet down in the South Pacific. Can you imagine the American historical value to this Walt Disney created insignia on PT-109 if it were recovered? This is the second Navy art image which promoted Disney to create a five-man design team which produced over 1,200 insignia during WWII.

PT boat

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LIFE magazine 13 January 1941, shows the very first PT-10 which was launched on 20 August 1940. In eleven months 12 PT Boats will open fire on Japanese attackers at Pearl Harbor and for months later these same boats were the only front line defense against possible Japanese invasion. Packard built over 14,000 Marine 4M 2500 engines, at their East Grand Ave. plant, Detroit, which were not part of the Merlin Rolls-Royce aviation engine built under contract from England.

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This early 1941 ad features the P-40 fighter and the PT Boats but the engines were two different designs.

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The Packard Car Company began by redrawing all the British blueprints from first-angle projection to American third-angle projection used in the United States, including manufacturing specifications in American terminology. Several significant American improvements were also incorporated into the Packard engines, and a most significant change involved the crankshaft bearing material. This had been developed by General Motors Pontiac Division to prevent the corrosion of auto crankshaft bearings, a common design adapted and used in the manufacture of large American radial aircraft engines.

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This ad appeared on 20 April 1942, showing the war production drive of General Motors in America. Lost in this drawing is the fact that the crankshaft bearing material improvement invented by General Motors would make a significant change to the American built Packard aircraft engines. The original British Rolls-Royce crankshaft used a lead bronze with a lead-indium flash finish. Packard engines introduced the General Motors silver with lead-indium flash finish which prevented corrosion from all lubricating oils, even low grade oils. This new bearing coating also improved the break-in time for a new Packard Rolls-Royce engine and boosted the load-carrying ability of the surface, giving the engine a longer life-span.

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This ad promotes the American built Allison engine, however it also demonstrates the General Motors invention of the main crankshaft bearings manufacture using silver with a lead-indium flash, which improved the Packard engines.


The first Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine was test run in August 1941, and received the U.S. Army designation V-1650-1 which was equivalent to the Merlin 28 or 29 single stage with a two-speed supercharger.

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The early Merlin 28 engines built by Packard were installed in the Kittyhawk Mk. II [P-40F] and the British built Lancaster Mk. I and Mk. III.

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The Merlin 28 engines built by Packard were first installed in the Canadian built Hurricane Mk. X aircraft [490 built] constructed by Canadian Car and Foundry Ltd. Later the Packard Merlin 29 engine was installed in the Canadian built Mk. XI, [150 built] Mk. XII and XIIA Hurricane fighters. In total 1,451 Canadian Hurricane aircraft were built, which were also installed with American Nash-Kelvinator Corporation Hamilton Standard propellers that could not accommodate the British spinners. The trade mark Canadian built Hurricanes flew without spinners.

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The Merlin 31 Packard built engine [V-1650-1] was first installed in the Canadian built Mosquito Mk. VII aircraft, all of which remained in Canada. The next Canadian model Mk. XX, received the Packard built Merlin 31 and 33 engines, delivered to England in August 1943, and saw action on 29 November 43 attacking Berlin. Later in the war the Packard built Merlin 225 [same as British Merlin 25] was installed in Canadian built Mosquito Mk. 25, Mk. 26, and dual-control Mk. 27 trainer aircraft.

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The 1,400 h. p. Merlin 68 [V-1650-3] was installed in the American Mustang P-51B and C models, entering service in early 1943. This long-range fighter could now escort the 8th Air Force deep into Germany, and saved thousands of American lives.

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American nose art “Sky Clipper” City of Packard War Workers, on a P-51B donated by the Packard war workers.

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The P-51B-NA, serial 43-12484 flew with the 354th Fighter Group, 355th Fighter Squadron.

Due to the tremendous war time production pressures Rolls-Royce faced, particularly in 1940 and 41, the British had been unable to introduce a two-piece cylinder bank into their engine manufacture. Packard became the first to manufacture a two-piece cylinder head and bank assemblies. American manufactured magnetos were used and the AC Delco units were designed to be interchangeable with British counterparts.

Several other important improvements were incorporated into the Packard engines, such as the far superior Bendix fuel injection carburetor. [the British used Skinner’s Union carburetor of Morris Group] The Packard team made a significant change in the redesign of the supercharger drive for the two-stage engines. The epicyclic gearing drive which was patented by Wright Aeronautical was also used on the two-stage engines.

The Packard engines manufactured for Canada and installed in the Hurricane, Mosquito, and Lancaster Mk. X were produced with the standard British propeller shaft used by Society of British Aircraft Constructors.

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Thousands of American Packard built Merlin 38 engines [V-1650-1] were installed into the British Lancaster Mk. I & III’s. These were the same as the British Rolls-Royce Merlin 22 with 1,390 h. p. at 3,000 r.p.m. The painting shows No. 44 Squadron Lancaster code KM-T, but the serial is not known. The squadron lost five Lancaster bombers with the code “T”, serial L7548, [17 Apr. 42] W4106, [23 Mar. 43] W4778, [3 Aug. 43] DV331, [21 Dec. 43] and ME699, [5 July 44]. Lancaster PD422 survived the war, off-charge on 14 Dec. 1945.

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The superior Bendix fuel injector carburetor and the Bendix “Eclipse” Aircraft Engine Starter were installed in the American P-51 plus the Canadian built aircraft, including the Lancaster Mk. X.

The World War Two historical achievements of the British built Avro Lancaster bomber has been recorded in many books, on film, and today appear on many aviation internet websites. To a lesser extent, the history of the Canadian Lancaster X’s built at Malton, Ontario, by the Victory Aircraft plant tend to be combined with the total production of 7,377 bombers built during World War Two. Last summer, [2014] the Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X serial FM213 [painted as Mynarski Lancaster KB726] made a famous return to England and joined her British built Lancaster cousin. An American pilot-friend [B-25] ask me if the two Lancaster aircraft were in fact manufactured the very same. I informed him the Lancaster Mk. X was totally Canadian production, thanks to the cooperation of “Uncle Sam” and the United States War Industry.


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The original design and manufacture of the Canadian Lancaster Mk. X’s were identical to the British Lancaster Mk. III, the first 75 aircraft [KB700 to KB774] received the Packard built [USA] Rolls Royce Merlin 38 engines, which produced 1,390 h.p. at 3,000 r.p.m. Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB775 onwards were installed with the American-Packard Merlin 224 engines. These were manufactured in Detroit by Packard and based on the British Rolls-Royce Merlin 24. They were given the “2” prefix and became the Packard Merlin 224, producing 1,620 h.p. at 3,000 r.p.m.

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Altogether during World War Two over 150,000 Merlin Rolls-Royce engines were manufactured in Great Britain and the United States. The Packard Car Company manufactured 55,873 engines in Detroit which were installed in American, British, and British aircraft manufactured in Canada. The Packard engines built for North American Aviation and Curtiss were constructed with the American SAE No. 50 propeller shaft, while the engines supplied to England and Canada were built with the Society of British Aircraft Constructors standard British propeller shaft.

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By the fall of 1940, the British still stood alone in the fight against Hitler and the war situation had worsened, which greatly affected the British Aircraft Production Industry. The United States had not yet entered the war, while the Dominion of Canada aircraft production and construction of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan were still in the early stages. The British urgently needed to speed up aircraft production and place it out of the reach of German bombers. This was all accomplished in a special meeting held in the offices of the British Supply Council in Washington, D.C., on 18 September 1941. The production in Canada of the British heavy bomber [Lancaster] would soon begin, with the official order announced in December 1941. This was combined with a sudden crippling attack by the Japanese on the United States naval and air forces at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, quickly changed the tempo of the world war. The entry of the United States into World War Two would also change the Canadian Lancaster manufacture and parts supply switched from British to North American. In January 1942, the British Lancaster bomber blueprints had arrived at the Aircraft Division of the National Steel Car Corporation at Malton, Ontario. This Aircraft Plant had been constructed for the new [N.S.C.C.] Aircraft Division and opened on 1 February 1938. In 1941, a large extension to the plant was constructed due to a contract to build the American Martin B-26 Marauder bomber. The Marauder contract was cancelled and the Canadian Lancaster Mk. X manufacture took its place. On 25 August 1942, American pilot Clyde Pangborn, piloted British built Lancaster Mk. I, serial R5727, from England to Ottawa, [Rockcliffe] Canada, making the first east to west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a Lancaster. This event was reported to American and Canadians in the 28 September 1942 issue of LIFE magazine. The Lancaster first stopped for fuel at Gander, Newfoundland, and then headed to Ottawa, [Rockcliff] where these American photos were taken.

Note the rubber life rafts and survival supplies in the bomb bay of Lancaster R5727 [above] for this first historic Atlantic crossing.

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American pilot Clyde Pangborn had a rich aviation history which involved many long distance flights. He was the chief test pilot for Bellanca Aircraft Corporation when the Second World War began. Pangborn officially offered his services to the Allied war effort in 1940 and helped the Royal Air Force establish the early Ferry Command of American aircraft to Great Britain. He piloted the delivery of 175 Atlantic Ocean crossings of British aircraft including the first flight of Lancaster R5727 from England to Rockcliffe, Ontario.

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This [American] LIFE magazine photo was taken at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, where the Lancaster was demonstrated to RCAF Ottawa high command, including Minister for Munitions and Supply in the Canadian Government, the Right Honourable C.D. Howe. The Lancaster was next flown by pilot Ralph Bell and passenger C.D. Howe to Malton, Ontario, on 31 August 1942.

In September 1942, work began immediately on the new Lancaster production line and R5727 became the master tool and pattern standard aircraft model. This produced a variety of serious [infighting] management problems, which resulted in the National Steel Car Company Aircraft Division being taken over by the Canadian Government. The new Crown Company was renamed “Victory Aircraft” which later [1 December 1945] postwar became A.V. Roe Canada Ltd. or commonly called Avro Canada. British built Lancaster R5727 was later acquired by Trans-Canada Airlines, modified with 10 seats, extra fuel tanks, and began ferrying passengers, air mail, and freight on trans-Atlantic service beginning 22 July 1943.

The initial plans for the building of the Lancaster in Canada begin in early 1942 and involved Sir Oliver of the Churchill War Ministry and Canadian Minister of Munitions and Supply, Hon. C.D. Howe. The British Conservative Coalition Government under P.M. Churchill was formed in 1940 and remained until the elections in 1945. The Churchill War Ministry appointed special members to control the war against Germany in these crucial years of battle. Sir Oliver  [below] was appointed the Minister of British War Production in March 1942 and remained in charge until May 1945.

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Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos

On 4 June 1942, Sir Oliver arrived in Washington, D.C. for a special meeting with President Roosevelt and the American Joint War Production board members. On 9 June 42, Sir Lyttelton toured the huge Ford Willow Run B-24 factory and stated -“If Hitler and Goering had made this trip with us through these plants, they would “cut their throats.” The Philco radio company placed this ad in LIFE magazine.

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On 16 June 42, Sir Lyttelton departed Washington by train for Ottawa, and a meeting with P.M. Mackenzie King and the Canadian War Production chiefs. At these meetings the details for the building of the Canadian Avro Lancaster Mk. X bomber were formalized. A major challenge was the manufacture of interchangeable parts made in the United States and Canada to that of the British design. While the American built Packard engines high-quality of engineering had been a complete success, other obstacles had to be overcome to build the Lancaster bomber. The manufacture of the Canadian/American parts for the Lancaster can be seen in the following ads.

All Lancaster instruments, radios, ball bearings and a completely new electrical fuselage wiring system came from [North American] Canadian and American companies.

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The new novel Canadian wiring system could quickly be converted from a one-wire to a two-wire circuit by pulling out a plug and converting the system, allowing repair and replacement of battle damage without costly repairs being shipped from Canada. Even the Canadian lighting systems were manufactured to be interchangeable with the British production.

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The Bendix Aviation Corporation supplied two major improvements for the Packard Rolls-Royce engine plus Lancaster Mk. X precision pilot instruments.


This Before This

The seats came from New York.


The Canadian Good Year Rubber Company [New Toronto] received the contract to produce the Lancaster Mk. X tires. 

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Nash-Kelvinator manufactured the Lancaster Mk. X propeller blades.

In March 1941, Nash-Kelvinator was contracted under license [U.S. Government] to build 1,500 Hamilton Standard Hydromantic variable pitch aircraft propellers per month. By 1945, they had built and assembled 158,134 three blade propellers, plus 85,656 spare blades. A large number of these propellers were shipped to England and installed on the British Lancaster bombers. Other propellers were sent to Canada and installed on British built aircraft, including the 430 Lancaster Mk. X aircraft built at Malton, Ontario.

The arrival of KB700 [15 September 1943] and shortly after KB705 [used for component mating tests] allowed the British Ministry of Aircraft Production to test the new Canadian built Lancaster X and all major components were successfully mated with the British counterparts. KB705 went to British Rolls-Royce for testing [interchangeable test] in January 1944. The British were both surprised and impressed with the Canadian workmanship and the joint Canadian/American parts manufacture.

The first production order of 300 Lancaster X’s received the serial numbers KB700 to KB999, produced between August 1943 and March 1945. The first 154 bombers were finished with the gun positions faired over, flown to England where the standard British .303 guns were installed.

The forward turret – two .303 machine guns F.N.5. [Frazer-Nash]

The mid-upper gun turret – two .303 machine guns F.N.50.

The rear gun turret – four .303 machine guns, F.N.20.

During the complete war the British Bombers carried enormous bomb loads combined with highly inflammable aviation fuel, incendiary bombs, and oxygen tanks. The crews flew long hours of combat endurance, only escaping death in seconds by the famous ‘corkscrew’ manoeuvre, which was far inferior to the speedy night-fighter attacks. The aircrew always knew they were outpaced and outmanoeuvred by the German fighters but they also understood they were outgunned by the German fighters, who could stay out of range of the British .303 cal. machine guns [450 yards] and pump 20 m.m. cannon fire into the huge black slow flying bombers. A number of surviving RCAF air gunners expressed the simple cause for the majority of Bomber Command losses was the refusal of the RAF to upgrade to the .50 cal. machine guns. They were sitting ducks.

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The Americans took a much different approach and installed a high muzzle velocity and larger caliber machine guns in all their bomber aircraft, giving them a much stronger destructive power, and crew survival.

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The most widely manufactured high power upper turret gun used by American aircraft during WWII was the Martin 250 CE-7 to 23 series, which fired twin .50 cal. Browning M2 machine guns. These guns packed a very destructive force and had a full field of fire traversing 360 degrees, with a range of 800 yards.

Lancaster Mk. X. serial KB783 [below] arrived in England in October 1944 and was sent to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down. This Canadian Lancaster was fitted with the .50 Cal. Martin turret and used for flight gun trials, which proved to be very successful. Due to the new gun weight gain the Martin turret had to be moved further forward to correct the aircraft balance.

Packard Merlin Rolls-Royce Engine - Copy (38)

Beginning with Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB855, [below] the American manufactured twin .50 cal. Martin 250 turret was installed in all the bombers that left the plant in Malton, Ontario.

Packard Merlin Rolls-Royce Engine - Copy (39)

The Canadian installed Martin 250 CE-23 turret was mounted in the middle of the Lancaster fuselage [in front of roundel] while the old British Frazer Nash 50 was mounted closer to the rear [behind the roundel]. This was due to weight gain, however it also gave much better protection for the complete top of the bomber, which had a 360 degree of fire with two feeds of 800 rounds of .50 cal. ammo. [two ammo boxes on each side, right and left supplied 400 rounds each for a total of 1,600 rounds.

These Canadian Lancaster Mk. X’s were the only RAF bombers to use two .50 cal. machine guns during WWII and this saved many RCAF lives. The range of the British .303 cal. machine gun was best at 450 yards, compared with the .50 cal. American range of 800 yards. Can you imagine the surprise when a German night-fighter pulled into what he believed was a safe distance, then was blasted out of the dark sky by a Canadian Lancaster .50 cal. mid-upper gunner.

Many RCAF veterans believed the Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X manufactured with American Packard engines and North American parts was the safer bomber, and in the case of the mid-upper gunner, it was far more advanced with American .50 cal. fire-power.

 Packard Merlin Rolls-Royce Engine - Copy (40)

LIFE magazine 1944 shows Martin turret fire power.

Tail-end Charlie – another story by Clarence Simonsen -redux

Always nice to get a feedback from a post…

Thank you for writing/posting this. I’m glad to read that my Grandpa made such a lasting impression that you felt compelled to share this so many years after his death. I love that the story captured his humour and personality.

Again, thank you.


Hello Pierre,

Here is another story on a very special person, rear gunner Doug Penny. During his whole life he did so much for Canada and fellow Canadians, but his WWII history and nose art needs to be displayed.

This 1942 cartoon which appeared in an issue of aeroplane magazine tells the true story.




While most rear gunners were proud of their RCAF slang, they also understood it was the most dangerous of all bomber crew stations, the most detached, and they were the least lucky to survive a night attack. Located in the rear, all alone, they will become the first into the air as the bomber tail lifts off the runway in Yorkshire, England.  Then for the next six to eight hours they search and search the night blackness for any movement or shape which might be a German night-fighter. The “Tail-end Charlie” frequently died in his isolated world, shot to death by a night-fighter he couldn’t even see. This lone man also made the decision that could save his entire crew when he screams out “Corkscrew left or right”, then fires his four Browning machine guns at the shape in the darkness. To fly night after night as a rear gunner, you needed a special kind of courage and sometimes just pure luck to escape a rendezvous with death.  F/L Douglas Richard Penny flew 37 operations as a rear gunner and he told me during one operation, he survived only because of his training and luck.

Doug Penny was born near the Qu’Appelle Valley of Abernethy, Saskatchewan, on 22 December 1923. He applied for the RCAF in the fall of 1941, but was not taken on strength until after his 18th birthday, officially dated 23 April 1942. This delay was caused when he contacted scarlet fever while in training at Brandon Manning Depot and spent two months in hospital. He stated “The rats in the hospital were as big as alley cats.” He was posted to No. 2 Wireless School at Calgary, Alberta, but washed out [29 March 1943] where he was informed his Morse Code was not good enough. He always felt his grades were OK, it was the simple fact they needed “tail-end Charlies”  due to the high gunner loss rate.

Doug was next posted to No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba, and graduated course #50A as a F/Sgt. and attained his A/G Brevet on 14 May 1943. 

“After the usual embarkation leave [30 days] I ended up in the UK at Bournemouth, just in time to get strafed by a couple of German Me109s, while we were lying around the bowling green. I then went to Operational Training Unit at Stratford and crewed up with Wellingtons. During this training period I was slated to go on a fighter affiliation flight in an old Halifax Mk. II. I had just purchased a new bicycle and was late reporting, missing the instruction flight. During a corkscrew by the pilot, the old bomber broken apart and all the crew and new air gunners were killed. It was my first escape from death but not the last. We were posted to No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron and heading for North Africa [late September 1943] when the campaign in Italy ended.”

 Tail-end Charlie - Copy (2)

“We were posted back to a Heavy Conversion Unit at Croft and Dishforth, then back to No. 420 Squadron at Tholthrope, where we flew three operations in Halifax aircraft. Out pilot [above center] was asked to go on a trip to Berlin as second “Dicky with another crew and was killed in action.” 

“Our crew headed back to Wombleton-in-the-mud looking for a pilot who would take us.  They would meet a Canadian pilot S/L Maurice William Pettit, DFC, who had completed a tour of 27 operations with No. 128 RAF Squadron, flying Stirling bombers. Penny – “He was a super Canadian pilot, also one of the great beer drinkers in the RCAF.” “I  finished my first tour with him at 432 Squadron, East Moor, Yorkshire, a few trips to Berlin, D-Day, and wrapped it up in early August 1944.”

On 18 March 1944, they began operations with No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron, and received a new Halifax Mk. III aircraft serial LW596, QO-D, call sign “D for Dog.” This inspired the new nose art painting, which had appeared in an issue of Saturday Evening Post magazine.


Tail-end Charlie - Copy (3)

This Doug Penny photo clearly shows the gas-operated Vickers”K” nose mounted gun in Halifax Mk. III, LW596 and the early nose art painting before name “Devastating Dog” has been applied, operation number three.

 Tail-end Charlie - Copy (4)

This was the photo Doug proudly called “Penny, spending a Penny.” The British term for urinating in a toilet was “spend a penny” as the use of a public toilet in England cost one penny. Before each operation Doug Penny would “spend a penny” while holding onto his tail guns, just for good luck. He always left his bed unmade, also for good luck, as he  would make it upon his return from the operation. 

In June 1944, No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron began to received new Handley-Page Halifax Mk. VII aircraft and the older Mk. III Halifax bombers were transferred to the No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron. Halifax serial LW596 joined No. 434 Squadron coded as WL-Z and possibly flew with the same original nose art “The Devastating Dog.” 

The new Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP692, was assigned to the crew of S/L Maurice Pettit and tail-end Charlie, Doug Penny. 

 Tail-end Charlie 2 - Copy (2)

Flight/ Sgt. Doug Penny in his new office, which had a better rear turret heater.

 Tail-end Charlie 2 - Copy (3)

Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP692, “D for Dog”  received the same nose art and name as LW596.

 Tail-end Charlie 2 - Copy (4)

NP692, The Devastating Dog at her hardstand after thirteen operations. 

On 28/29 July 1944, Doug Penny was flying his 33 operation, and this attack on the German city of Hamburg involved almost the entire force of 234 aircraft from No. 6 [RCAF] Group. The bomber stream was allotted a four thousand height band between seventeen and twenty-one thousand feet over the target city. This would prove to be a night the Canadians would never forget as the night-fighter attacks were intense over the target, then the German fighters continued to attack the bombers on the homeward journey. The bombers of 6 Group would have twenty-two aircraft shot down, including Halifax LW596, [The Devastating dog] flown by F/O I. Alexander and crew in No. 434 Squadron, all killed in action.

 Doug Penny recalls -“It was a long stressful trip home in total darkness, then I felt the most welcome slow descent and I knew we were approaching the English coast and home.  As we approached four thousand feet, I began to relax, removed my oxygen mask and reached forward for my thermos to have a cup of hot coffee. Suddenly, in the blackness I saw a movement, dropped my thermos and fired my four machine guns. At the same time the darkness was alight with the return fire of a German night-fighter. The German fighter had followed the Halifax bomber across the English Channel and both Penny and the German pilot had opened fire on each other at the exact same instant. The German shells missed Doug Penny by six feet, but Doug scored a direct hit on the Ju-88 fighter, which dove straight into the sea, witnessed by several bomber crews. In the morning light, F/Sgt. Doug Penny looked at the damage on his Halifax wings and realized he had escaped death by pure luck, combined with his skill as a rear gunner.


 Tail-end Charlie 2 - Copy (5)


The Halifax tail wing damage caused by the German night-fighter [Ju-88]  on 29 July 1944. [Doug Penny]



 Tail-end Charlie 2 - Copy (6)

 Damage caused to Halifax NP692 main wing, almost reaching the fuel tanks. [Doug Penny]


For his actions in saving his crew, Doug was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and received the Distinguished Flying Medal. He returned to East Moor and instructed gunners in No. 432 and 415 Squadrons on combat and night vision tactics. During this time he also completed four more operations with Wing Commander J. K. MacDonald who was the C. O. of No. 432 Squadron, finishing his tour in early October 1944. He continued to train new gunners until the spring of 1945. 

 Tail-end Charlie 2 - Copy (7)

After completing 37 operations, F/L Douglas Penny arrived at Gransden Lodge, Bedfordshire, in April 1945, to begin his second tour flying with No. 405 [Vancouver] Squadron, under No. 8 [Pathfinder] Group of the RAF. The C.O. decided he had not been screened long enough and he was ordered to Canada and 60 days leave. During his leave, the war in Europe ended and he was sent to instruct at No. 7 Bombing and Gunnery School at Paulson, Manitoba. Doug – “That’s where I lounged until September 1945, when I was discharged from the RCAF.”” I left the service an older and wiser Air Gunner, then returned to finish my schooling in Regina, Saskatchewan.”“I was only 22 years of age.”

On 8 October 1949, Doug began a career in the oil and gas industry as a salesman for Imperial Oil Ltd, in Edmonton, Alberta. From 1952 to 1955 he served as Adjutant with No. 418 [Auxiliary] “City of Edmonton” Squadron, flying the North American Mitchell Mk. II and III aircraft. He was a member of many service organizations, including the Masonic Lodge, Associated Canadian Travellers, and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for over sixty years. He served as National President of the Air Gunners Association, spending his personal time and money visiting members in the United States and Canada, acting as M.C or Speaker for many of the National Reunions. He always presented himself in a manner which made him most popular with all membership. Doug was big supporter of the first formed Lancaster Museum of Nanton, Alberta, now named the “Bomber Command Museum of Canada. 

After a lengthy battle with cancer, F/L Douglas [Doug] Richard Penny passed away at the Sarcee Hospital [Calgary, Alberta] on Friday, 9 February 2007. 

 Tail-end Charlie 2 - Copy

My first meeting with Doug Penny occurred in the summer of 1980, when he drove to my farm located six miles east of the village of Acme, Alberta. Doug introduced himself and during our chat he ask if I would paint his nose art for him. That began a friendship that last until 2004, when I ask him to autograph this third replica painting of his Halifax nose art. Today this hangs in the nose art section at the Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta, however it contains little information of the two RCAF Halifax aircraft that carried this nose art or the man who flew as the “Tail-end Charlie” in both.

In 2009, I attempted to create a section in Nanton Museum that would tell this history and honour the forgotten WWII men who painted nose art during the war. The Directors of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada took a vote and said – “NO”. 

This story was created to honour Doug Penny and record the history of the nose art painted on the two Halifax bombers he flew rear gunner in World War Two. 


 written by Clarence Simonsen

Another Oscar winning story by Clarence Simonsen

Soon on this blog…

A trailer…

Crazy Rabbit

Hello Pierre,

Last week I received two emails in regards to the Lancaster with nose art “Rabbit’s Stew” and the serial number KB903 which came originally from Nanton and was used by Dave O’Malley of Vintage Wings, then copied by you. One email came from Mr. Troy Kirby of Edmundston City, New Brunswick, the man who worked on the history of KB882 since 2001. Please find attached the history I sent to him, and you may publish if you wish. It was from him, I learned KB882 was being given to Edmonton museum, a total surprise, but good news.