“TWO BY MOONLIGHT”

You might recall a previous post in which I shared the unveiling of the K.O. Moore exhibit in our Main Gallery.   Wing Commander K.O. Moore DSO was certainly a hero of World War Two, earning an immediate Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the US Silver Star by destroying two U-Boats in a 22 minute span.  The combat took place at night as he and his No 224 Squadron RAF crew, in a Very Long Range Liberator, were tasked with keeping NAZI U-Boats away from the D Day invasion fleet.  The U-Boats put up a hail of machine gun and cannon fire that he had to fly right through to complete his attack; he did so without flinching or failing.  His crew sent the enemy contact message: ‘ saw two subs, sunk same’!  He survived the war and went on to become an important RCAF leader in the post-War period. Recently, Dave O’Malley wrote the amazing story for Vintage Wings of Canada.  I thought you might like to read it on the Vintage Wings of Canada website.  Special thanks to Dave for his permission to share!  We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did here at the...

THE WICKENBY REGISTER NEWSLETTER ~ A NEW SERIES

Mel, Chair of our Collections Management Committee, recently shared a set of newsletters that had been donated to our Museum. The newsletters were printed twice yearly; they include information about 12 Squadron RAF, memories of service men and women, the occasional recipe, stories of times past… But perhaps the thing that spoke to both of us was the inclusion of a poem on the back of each issue; we’re looking forward to sharing them with you!   In this first post, I’ll introduce 12 Squadron as described in one of the newsletters, along with one of the poems. “Formed at Netheravon, Wiltshire on February 4th 1915 the squadron was first equipped with B.E.2c aircraft and went to France in September of that year to perform various roles.  The B.E.s were replaced with R.E.8s in August 1917. After the Armistice the squadron formed part of the Army of Occupation in Germany until July 1922 when it was disbanded at Bickendorf.  In April 1923 it was reformed at Northolt as a bomber squadron equipped with DH.9As.  In 1924 the aircraft were Fairey Fawns and in 1926, Fairey Fox high speed bombers.  On many exercises No. 12’s Foxes outran the defending fighters and this led to the adoption of the motto ‘Leads the field’.  The highly polished  metal nose cowlings of the aircraft also gave the squadron its nickname ‘Shiny Twelve’.  The Fox’s mask badge was given Royal Assent in February 1937 by King George VI.  In 1931 No. 12 became one of the first squadrons to have Hawker Harts and four years later it moved to Aden to reinforce the Middle East...

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,...

BBQ AT HANGAR 268 ~ A GATHERING OF OUR VOLUNTEERS

This past Thursday, our volunteers gathered at Hangar 268 ( in our Heritage Air Park ) for a BBQ.  We love “working for food” here at the Museum, and the BBQ was well attended.     Jed, one of our Gift Shop volunteers, grilled the hot dogs for us. Thanks, Jed!             We hung around for some time, chatting:                                                             We took time to celebrate Nort Kennedy‘s 25 year volunteer service with a lifetime membership.  Nort, you are appreciated!        ...

SPITFIRE PILOT ~ FLYING OFFICER PATRICK LANGFORD

Patrick Langford was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the son of  Mr & Mrs Richard Langford. His father was a Forest Ranger at the Jasper National Park and its first Chief Warden from 1911. He returned to England to serve in WW1 and settled back in Jasper in 1919.       Patrick was born 4th November 1919. He was educated at Jasper Public and High School from September 1926 to June 1936 and Banff High School from September 1936 until June 1937 and worked summer jobs for Brewster Transport as a driver and later in the National Park. On 29 January 1940 in Edmonton, Alberta he joined the RCAF as a Regular Service officer and was commissioned; he was assigned to the Calgary Aero Club flying Gypsy Moth aircraft. He received further training in Toronto and at RCAF Camp Borden. On September 1941, he flew to England and was sent for operational training flying Wellington Bombers.   On the night of 28 July 1942, he took off to bomb the German Shipbuilding and Port of Hamburg. His bomber was singled out by searchlights and the aircraft was shot down over Lubeck in Northern Germany. Three of the crew were killed on landing, one was unhurt but taken prisoner, but Langford and the rear gunner were seriously injured and spent two months in hospital. On recovering he was sent to Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan, now in Poland. As prisoner #710 Langford was involved in the planning and excavation of the tunnel code-named “Harry” which was located under the barracks stove in Room 23 Block 104.  With the constant checks...

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