THE DAM BUSTERS ~ THE CANADIAN CONNECTION

As mentioned in my previous post, Canadians played a major role in the Dams Raid.  “Of the 133 airmen involved in the raid, 30 were Canadian.  Fourteen were killed during the raid; one became a prisoner of war.  Exactly 50% of the Canadians who took off didn’t return. Four who survived were later killed in action during the war.” (Bomber Command Museum).  I’m sharing just two of the many stories in this post.     One of the most well known of the Canadian group was not Canadian by birth.  This was Joe McCarthy.  Born in New York, he tried unsuccessfully tried to join the Army Air Corps. In May 1941, Joe’s friend Don Curtin, suggested they head to Canada to join the Royal Canadian Air Force.  They were sent to the Manning Depot in Toronto.  Joe trained in Goderich and Brantford, then received his commission in December 1941. After Christmas, he sailed from Halifax; eleven days later, he and his fellow aircrew arrived in Liverpool.  Further training took place with the No. 12 Advanced Flying Unit and the No. 14 Operational Training Unit.  In September of 1942, he was assigned to No. 97 Squadron RAF; it was here that he met W/C Gibson.  Just as McCarthy was completing his tour, he received a call from Gibson telling him that a new squadron was being formed and that he was inviting Joe and his crew to join.  They made their first flight with the new squadron in March of 1943.  After weeks of intensive and low level training, he and his crew almost failed to get airborne in the...

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ THE DAM BUSTERS

  Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out May 16 and 17, 1943 by the RAF Squadron No. 617; the squadron was later referred to as the “Dam Busters”.           Before WWII, the British Air Ministry had identified Germany’s industrialized the Ruhr Valley and specifically its dams as important strategic targets.  As well as providing hydro-electric power and pure water needed for steel making, the dams supplied drinking water and water for the canal transport system.  The methods chosen to attack the dams had been carefully selected.  Calculations indicated that repeated air strikes with large bombs could be effective, but this required a degree of accuracy Bomber Command had yet been unable to attain. A specially developed “bouncing bomb” that had been invented by Barnes Wallis was used for the attacks.  His idea was to use a drum-shaped bomb (a specially designed heavy depth charge).  It would spin backwards and would be dropped at a low altitude for the correct speed and release point, skipping for a distance over the surface of the water in a series of bounces before reaching the dam wall.  The residual spin would run the bomb down the side of the dam toward its underwater base.  Using a hydrostatic fuse, an accurate drop would bypass the dam’s defences, then enable the bomb to explode against the dam some distance below the surface of the water:         The Squadron was divided into 3 formations to attack. Formation No. 1’s mission was to attack the Mohne and then the Eder.  Following a successful attack on the Mohne,...
ESCAPE AND EVASION ~ AIDS TO ESCAPING

ESCAPE AND EVASION ~ AIDS TO ESCAPING

I recently wrote an article on escapees and selected a few individuals and their stories. Throughout history people have escaped from captivity and, from these, many lessons were learned. This came to a climax in World War Two, with the advances in air warfare. Training air crew is an expensive business and to lose those men for the duration when they were shot down was extremely serious. Therefore, it was decided everything must be done to get them back and this became a high priority. There were two types of escapees, the ones shot down and never captured and those who were captured and held in POW camps. It was necessary to not only train these men to fly but also train them to know what to do when shot down. Both from an escaping prospective but also what to do or say during an interrogation. Such training was started in WW2, continued after 1945 and is still on going in the 21st century. In fact I, myself took part in one such exercise in 1952 when, as a member of an army unit, we had to patrol a large area looking for aircrew from an RAF station who were scattered around the area.  We did manage to capture quite a few during this exercise.  A new department was established to decide what tools they would need to assist them in their escape and the allies were fortunate to recruit an officer, named Christopher Clayton Hutton (known as Clutty) who became responsible for arranging for the items which would be needed for an escape. Firstly, compasses and maps would be essential. He arranged for small compasses to be made and hidden in buttons...
NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ THE RCAF MARINE SECTION: A BRIEF HISTORY

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ THE RCAF MARINE SECTION: A BRIEF HISTORY

  Following WWI and prior to 1939, most of the RCAF aircraft were amphibious.  In order to service these aircraft, small boats of different sizes and shapes were used.  These were manned and maintained by personnel who became the RCAF Marine Section.         Between 1918 and 1935, some of the work done by the Air Force included air photography, reconnaissance, and forestry patrol.  Because this was accomplished mainly by sea planes, it was necessary to set up small marine sub-sections at various places across the country in order to service the aircraft.  Though there were small sections, the major marine establishments were located at Ottawa (Rockcliffe), Trenton, as well as Jericho Beach.   A school was formed in Trenton in 1935 to train marine crewmen.  In the same year, the RCAF acquired its first crash boats, 37 feet in length and built in England. They arrived at Halifax aboard a civilian freighter; one of the launches stayed at Halifax (assigned to No. 4 Flying Boat Squadron).  The other was transported by rail to Jericho Beach, Vancouver (assigned to No. 5 Flying Boat Squadron).   The design of the boats proved to be quite successful, and as a result, in 1937, a 38 foot boat of the same type was ordered, this time from a Canadian firm.  As well as the three crash boats, the Air Board also ordered three power dinghies from Canadian builders.  Eighteen feet long, powered with a 56 h.p. engine, and operating at a maximum speed of 18 knots, they were used for aircraft tending and bomb loading. The personnel strength of the...

FROM OUR MAIN GALLERY- NOSE ART – PART THREE

This is the third and final chapter covering the topic of aircraft nose art. It’s been a topic that is never ending with so many stories and tales to explain the reasons why it was used or the emotions and reasons for using it.   it wasn’t just Disney characters that were used, as you can see from the photo above, many aircraft painted looney tunes to send a message. This painting was on a Ventura, based on Argentia, NL. What’s  special about this painting was that it was done at the factory in Burbank, California by the studio artists themselves.               Another two popular characters are those seen above, Popeye and Olive Oyl. I used the olive Oyl picture because it shows the humour often seen in these paintings, as olive beats the behind of Hitler. This was painted on an RCAF lane piloted by P/O D.J. Sullivan.       Many of the planes were adorned with stylized pin up girls such as “Lonesome Lola” seen here. She was on a mk1 Lanc of no.9 Sqn. This a/c finished 97 ops!   Some of these girls were very much on the line of what could be accepted and what could not, even to today’s standards! The following two pictures highlight this well.   “I’m Easy” was lost on 31July 1944.  The unnamed nude was on a B24 belonging to 159sqn. Some of the paintings were very intricate, covering all of the nose or most of the aircraft. The following  picture shows an RACF B24 mkIV serial #3742. The inspiration came from a...

FROM OUR LIBRARY ~ CANADIAN FLYING ACE BILLY BISHOP

William Avery “Billy” Bishop VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED was a Canadian flying ace and Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War. He received the Victoria Cross (VC) “For most conspicuous bravery, determination, and skill.  Captain Bishop, who had been sent out to work independently, flew first of all to an enemy aerodrome; finding no machines about, he flew on to another aerodrome about 3 miles southeast, which was at least 12 miles the other side of the line.  Seven machines, some with their engines running were on the ground.  He attacked these from about fifty feet, and a mechanic, who was starting one of the engines, was seen to fall.  One of the machines got off the ground, but at a height of 60 feet, Captain Bishop fired 15 rounds into it at a very close range, and it crashed to the ground.  A second machine got off the ground, into which he fired 30 rounds at 150 yards range, and it fell into a tree.  Two more machines then rose from the aerodrome.  One of these he engaged at a height of 1,000 feet, emptying the rest of his drum of ammunition.  This machine crashed 300 yards from the aerodrome, after which Captain Bishop emptied a whole drum into the fourth hostile machine, and then flew back to his station.  Four hostile scouts were about 1,000 feet above him for about a mile of his return journey, but they would not attack.  His machine was very badly shot about by machine-gun fire from the ground.” (August 1917) Our Museum Library has a number...

Get our articles sent via
email

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.