Who never flew on Rabbit’s Stew?

Rodrigue Arcand never flew on Rabbit’s Stew?

Jacques Lamontagne 004

collection Jacques P. Lamontagne via Laurent Lamontagne

Flight engineer Rodrigue Arcand RCAF never jumped on March 15th, 1945 when Flight Lieutenant Laporte was flying over Belgium and his Halifax was shot down by a Ju88.

You can read what Jacques P. Lamontagne wrote.

Jacques Lamontagne 15 mars 1945

collection Jacques P. Lamontagne via Laurent Lamontagne

The first time I had heard about Rodrigue Arcand was in November 2010 in a comment that  was left on my blog dedicated to 425 Alouettes, a RCAF bomber squadron I did not know had ever existed.

You can read the comment here. 

What I am cooking?

It’s all about a crew member who never flew on Rabbit’s Stew.

Jacques Lamontagne 010

collection Jacques P. Lamontagne via Laurent Lamontagne

Rabbit’s Stew – Redux

I just have to share this comment from a reader about…


I still wonder about the name of this aircraft. The rabbit is laying on top of what appears to be a stewpot, but he has a big smile on his face and he is throwing carrots. That hardly suggests an ode to rabbit stew. In fact, the word “Rabbit’s” with its apostrophe is possessive which implies that “Rabbit” owns or possesses the “stew”. “Stew” can be something we eat, but it is also slang for a brothel or house of ill repute. So, are we confronted with a bit of humor here? Is there a bit of double entendre with the hidden name of the aircraft really being “Rabbit’s house of ill repute”? Perhaps the name is more humorous than acknowledged.

Food for thought


I would guess that the Germans would be in the Rabbit’s stew according to this crew.
The carrots are missions they flew, but not on a Lancaster but a Halifax.

425 Alouette converted to Lancasters in May 1945 when the war was almost over. Rabbit’s Stew never saw combat.



Who flew on Rabbit’s Stew?

Jacques Lamontagne 004

collection Jacques P. Lamontagne via Laurent Lamontagne

LAPORTE, F/L Joseph Roland Serge Yvan (J6958)

– Distinguished Flying Cross

– No.425 Squadron

– Award effective 18 May 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1085/45 dated 29 June 1945. Sequence on names on pay card appears as Joseph Serge Yvan Rolland Laporte.

Born in Montreal, February 1918; home there (salesman); enlisted there 8 September 1939 as Aero Engine Mechanic. To Technical Training School, St. Thomas, 16 December 1939. Promoted AC1, 1 July 1940; to Ottawa, 17 July 1940; to No.2 SFTS, 31 July 1940. Remustered to aircrew, 23 March 1941 when he reverted to AC2 and was posted to No.3 ITS; graduated 21 April 1941 when posted to No.11 EFTS; graduated 9 June 1941 when posted to No.6 SFTS; graduated and commissioned 20 August 1941. To Trenton, 21 August 1941. To No.13 SFTS, 22 November 1941. To No.11 EFTS, 12 December 1942. Attained rank of Flight Lieutenant, 1 June 1943. To No.13 SFTS again, 8 January 1944. Posting date from there uncertain but taken on strength of No.3 PRC, 13 April 1944.

With his crew he reported from No.76 Base to No.425 Squadron, 23 December 1944. Repatriated 13 June 1945. Retired 13 September 1945. Re-engaged, 2 October 1946 as Flight Lieutenant, No.438 (Auxiliary) Squadron, Montreal. Retired 25 August 1948 to live in Trois Rivieres. Photo PL-42488 shows him. DFC and Bar presented 24 August 1948.

One night in March 1945, this officer was detailed to attack Chemnitz. Before reaching the French coast the distant reading compass became unserviceable and a little later the starboard engine failed. Undeterred, this officer continued to the target which was bombed most effectively. On the return journey the aircraft came under fire from the ground defences and sustained several hits. In spite of this, Flight Lieutenant Laporte flew back to base and landed safely. This officer, who has completed many sorties has invariably displayed a high degree of skill and resolution.

LAPORTE, F/L Joseph Roland Serge Yvan, DFC (J6958) – Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross – No.425 Squadron – Award effective 3 July 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1453/45 dated 14 September 1945.

This officer was the pilot of an aircraft detailed to attack Hagen one night in March 1945. The target was successfully attacked, but whilst photographs of the bombing were being taken, the aircraft was hit several times by anti-aircraft fire. A little later, the bomber was engaged by two enemy fighters. The enemy came in with guns blazing. Flight Lieutenant Laporte’s aircraft was struck by a stream of bullets. Considerable damage was sustained. The starboard engine burst into flames. A fire commenced in the fuselage but it was extinguished by a member of the crew. Unfortunately, the flames in the burning engine could not be controlled. It became imperative to abandon the aircraft. Flight Lieutenant Laporte gave the necessary order. Ammunition was exploding intermittently as his comrades jumped. In these harassing moments, Flight Lieutenant Laporte, who had been struck by a bullet which passed through both his elbows, displayed great coolness, remaining at the controls until his crew members were clear. As he was preparing to leave, an explosion occurred. Flight Lieutenant Laporte was thrown to the floor. He got clear of the debris, however, and jumped to safety. This officer set a magnificent example of courage, coolness and resolution.

The crew (which had reported to the squadron with him in December 1944) were as follows: J42771 F/O Joseph Achille Louis Phillipe Rodrique (navigator), R164759/J42771 WO2 Jacques Pacifique Lamontagne (WAG), J40677 F/O John Hilliard Foley (bomb aimer, killed in a Harvard, 22 March 1949), Can 8166A/J94977 Flight Sergeant Joseph Rene Raymond St. Onge (rear gunner), R253830/J94932 Sergeant Joseph Laurent Veronneau (mid-upper gunner) and R177470/J94671 Sergeant Joseph Jules Rodrique Arcand (flight engineer, killed 15/16 March 1945 in the incident described below and which won him Laporte the Bar to DFC. The events involved Halifax III PN172 G/425, airborne 1730 hours.

The Form 541 entry read as follows:

Target: Hagen. Bomb load: same as “I”. Weather clear with visibility good. Target identified by red Target Indicator built up area and Gee homing. Bombed centre of smoke as directed by Master Bomber from 18,7000 feet at 2036 hours, 156 mph, heading unknown. Master Bomber heard clearly giving good instructions. Target well marked and bombing appeared well placed. Smoke was rising to 3/4,000 feet. At target, 2037 hours, 18,700 feet, hit by flak just near mid-upper position, putting hole through flooring. At 2118 hours in the Charleroi area at 9,000 feet we were attacked by a fighter. Six members of the crew baled out successfully but the Flight Engineer, R177470 Sergeant J.R. Arcand was killed.

Prior to being attacked, the Mid-Upper gunner saw unidentified twin-engined aircraft 500 feet below flying on a reciprocal course. Before this the Rear gunner had given corkscrew starboard as he thought he saw what might have been an aircraft firing about 1,000 yards astern and approaching quickly. About two minutes after seeing the aircraft on reciprocal course the bomb aimer, having moved to the Navigator position saw tracer from starboard and below, pass through the nose of the aircraft, blowing it off. Other bullets struck the starboard inner engine, setting it on fire as well as the starboard side of the fuselage and inside the cockpit just behind the Engineer’s position. The Engineer tried to extinguish the fire without much success. Following this there was another attack which set the starboard outer engine on fire.

Pieces started to come off the starboard main plane. The Engineer was going back to fight the fire inside. The pilot feathered the engine and used the engine extinguisher. He gave order to the crew to abandon aircraft and held aircraft under control. When, apparently, everyone had jumped, the pilot rose from his seat, to realize that his harness was caught in the “windshield de-icer pump.” He got back on the seat and at same time getting free from the pump. He was getting ready to jump when he was suddenly thrown to the floor where his left foot got caught in between the window ‘chute and the wireless panel. He managed to push himself with his right foot towards the hatch, where he was sucked out with terrific force, his two boots remaining in the aircraft. The five members landed successfully. None of them can understand why the Engineer did not leave the aircraft as he was beside the rear escape hatch with the mid-upper gunner. The latter states that the engineer was working at the leg straps of his harness when last seen. It is believed that he went down with the aircraft but I can give no explanation as to why he did not jump. His body was found where the aircraft crashed. The aircraft crashed approximately 4 ½ miles northwest of Gosselines, Belgium. During the attack, none of the gunners opened fire. One crew member’s watch read 2130 hours as he was descending by parachute. The only injuries suffered by some members of the crew were strained ankles. All returned to this unit.

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Jacques Lamontagne 15 mars 1945

part of Jacques P. Lamontagne’s logbook