Sunday, December 28, 2008

Newspaper articles from 1941-The Telegraph journal

Newspaper articles from 1941-The Telegraph journal

Greetings to all!

After a very tumultious year 2008, we are nearing it's end! Today is December 28, 2008. I am very saddened to hear that more Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan have lost their lives! We will remember you all! As for the economy things are not very good! But this was to happen, there is so much greed on wall street and in the business world that i am not surprised!! Greed rules, unfortunatelly!

Man will never learn of his past mistakes! Such a shame!

I have found some interesting articles that i came across on an old newspaper of mine that i wanted to share with you! These articles are from The Telegraph journal and is from Saint John's, New Brunswick and is dated Wednesday September 10, 1941

Germany Warns all ships in war zones subject to atttack. (Please note that America lost Merchantships to the Kriegsmarine and was not yet at war with Germany until December 7, 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.)

(Berlin, Sept 9 A.P) The Germans warned again tonight that all ships in the Axis-declared war zones are subject to attack "regarless of nationality" and indicated that either an Italian or German plane sank the American freighter Steel Seafarer in the Red Sea Friday night.

A spokeman said, however, that "it is beyond discussion that there should be any general order to attack American ships."

Since the Red Sea has long been considered a war zone by the Axis, he said, no one should be surprised that the steel Seafarer was sunk there. He pointed out that the 5,819 ton vessel was lost while en route to Suez, pressuably with lend-lease supplies for the British forces.

Emphasising the activity of Axis bombers in the Red Sea area the high command claimed today the sinking of a 7,000 ton tanker and the damaging of five other large merchantmen in a sunday night raid on shipping over Suez Gulf and Roadstead.

Here is another article from The Telegraph Journal and his dated September 6, 1941.

German Planes raid Scotland. Article by Drew Middleton. (Associated Press)

(London. Sept 5)Several German planes attacking eastern Scotland today inflicted a small number of casualities and some damage, and one of the bombers crashed, killing it's crew of four, the Air Ministry annouced tonight. A report from one village said a Nazi bomber machine-gunned the streets where children were plawing but that none was injured. In the only British offensive action the ministry said two German tankers were attacked off the continental coast last night. Clouds of smoke were seen to rise from one of the ships. A factory at La Pallice, France was also bombed.

I hope you enjoy reading these events that happened so long ago! I want to share them with you because this is an interresting part of history that must never be forgotten. Thank you for reading my blog!

Friday, December 05, 2008

In memory of our lost soldiers of today!

In memory of our lost soldiers of today!

Greetings to all!

I was reading the news today and i came across the sad news that Canada has again lost three brave soldiers to the Talibans.

The soldiers are from left to right on the picture, corporal Mark Robert McLaren, Officer Robert John Wilson and soldier Demetrios Diplaros.

The soldiers were patrolling the district of Arghandab in Afghanistan when there armored vehicule drove over a mine. The three soldiers were based in Petawawa, Ontario.
It is very sad news everytime a Canadian soldier or a soldier of the coalition dies or is injured in the course of action.

I would like to say thank you and God bless you soldiers and the members of your family!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008






Here is the link to The Globe and Mail article

Operating on a wing and a prayer




Sunday, November 09, 2008

A simple Thank you from the heart for Remembrance day

A simple Thank you from the heart for remembrance day.

Were can i start, what can i say that has not been said to our veterans. How we love dearly, how we care and that i must say Thank you. You have givin us hope to look for tomorrow. All the tears that are shed for a loved one who has givin it all for our freedom! What can i say, there are no words to say but Thank you. It is not enough, i feel, when one dies of old age, my heart has sorrow that i know a part of our history is slipping away. I will not hear again of your brave courage you have givin to me and to all of us! How we care for thee, to the Canadian veterans of all wars and of our allied friends!

We must say Thank you, that you are not forgotten, and when your trumpets of eternity will call you home because of a long life that you have kept inside of sorrow and grief and nightmares of loosing friends that were like your brothers on the battlefields of the world, we must say thank you.

God Bless you all for what you have done to thee, giving us our freedom for a beautiful and bright tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The RAF bomber pilot who single-handedly recovered the body of the co-pilot and comrade he lost on Berlin raid 60 years ago

The RAF bomber pilot who single-handedly recovered the body of the co-pilot and comrade he lost on Berlin raid 60 years ago

Hero: Former Pilot Officer Reg Wilson who found the body of a former comrade killed when their plane was shot down 60 years ago
Crammed together in their unwieldy aircraft and utterly dependent on one another, the bomber crews of the Second World War forged friendships that often only death could break.
Which is why Pilot Officer Reg Wilson never forgot the night more than 60 years ago when he lost two friends in the night skies over Germany.
As he entered his old age - the memories of his youth perhaps more powerful than ever - Mr Wilson began a quest to find their remains.
Yesterday he told how at last he had succeeded in finding one of those friends, flight engineer Sergeant John Bremner, and finally laying him to rest.
Sergeant Bremner will be buried with full honours at the Heerstrasse War Cemetery in Berlin next Thursday.
'It's only right that John is honoured,' said Mr Wilson, of Chigwell, Essex.
'Thousands of good men, like John, lost their lives. It must not be forgotten. It will be an emotional, but happy, day.'
Sergeant Bremner died aged 21 on the night of January 20, 1944, when 800 aircraft raided the German capital.
Among the 27 aircraft lost was Halifax LW337 from 102 Squadron based at RAF Pocklington near York.
The aircraft - nicknamed Old Flo by her eight-man crew - was heading for home when she was hit by anti-aircraft fire.

Long search: Pilot Officer Wilson and Sergeant John Bremner

Woodland hunt: Reg with wife Barbara in the woods in Koepenick, Germany, where the plane was discovered 60 years after it went down
Another survivor from Old Flo, rear-gunner Sergeant John Bushell, 84, said: 'It burst into flames from wing tip to wing tip.
'I was thrown out after hitting my head on a gun. I came to in free-fall and managed to pull the chute.'
Both he and pilot Mr Wilson, along with bomber aimer Flying Officer Laurie Underwood, now 86, and pilot Flying Officer George Griffiths survived and became prisoners of war.

A Halifax bomber like the one shot down as it approached Berlin 60 years ago
The bodies of second pilot Sergeant Kenneth Stanbridge and wireless operator Pilot Officer Eric Church were buried after the war.
But Sergeant Bremner and gunner Warrant Officer Charles Dupueis were never found.
Mr Wilson, 85, a former management consultant, began his search for answers in 2005 when he travelled to Berlin with his daughter, Janet Hughes, 46, who speaks fluent German.
They met local historians and witnesses and the next year, he returned and found the wreckage with the help of a team of volunteers using metal detectors.

War heroes: George 'Gag' Griffiths and Sergeant Kenneth Stanbridge

Reg shows off some of the debris from the crashed Halifax bomber
Final confirmation that the remains belonged to Sergeant Bremner, of Elswich, Northumberland, arrived after a DNA sample was taken from his sister Marjorie, 89, who will also attend his burial.
Mr Underwood, of Wetherby, West Yorkshire, is too ill to go and Mr Griffiths died in 1998.
A Royal British Legion spokesman said Mr Wilson's quest 'spoke of the searing and life-long impact of service in the armed services. People don't put away their war memories easily.'

Survivors: Sergeant John Bushell and Flying Officer Laurie Underwood
Some 55,500 young men of Bomber Command died during the war.
Last night Mr Bushell, of Oakley, Bedfordshire, added: 'My abiding memory of John is singing our hearts out together at a piano bar in York. He was a war hero who gave his life for his country.'

Former RAF Rear Gunner John Bushell holding his Prisoner Of War ID Card which he took from the prison office when he was freed

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I remember Sam Estwick

During the First World War, patriotic black Canadians lined up to join the armed forces but weren’t allowed to enlist. In 1916, the Second Construction Battalion out of Pictou, Nova Scotia was formed, the first black battalion in Canadian history. They were responsible for crucial work building bridges, digging trenches and clearing roads. In the Second World War, black Canadians tried to enlist again. This time, men like Sam Estwick were allowed to join.Served: As a Leading Aircraftman in the Second World WarSam Estwick immigrated to Canada from Barbados at the age of four and his family settled in Glace Bay, N.S. When war broke out, Mr. Estwick heard the Air Force was looking for fighter pilots. But when he showed up in Halifax to enlist, the officers at the recruiting office wouldn’t take him. “What do you mean? There’s a war,” Mr. Estwick said. “We can’t trust a black pilot,” they told him.Top-secret radar work: Rejected by the Halifax recruiting station, Mr. Estwick went home and wrote a letter to his MP who brought the issue up in Parliament. Still, nothing changed. But his high-school diploma and strong academic record showed he was just what the Air Force was looking for in its top-secret radar program.
Thousands of radar technicians were trained and sent around the world to serve on aircraft, ships and air strips. Mr. Estwick was the top of his class in radar school at Clinton, Ont. He was sent overseas in December 1942.Why he joined: Mr. Estwick will never forget what his church minister said to him when he won a school award the age of 14. “He said to me, ‘That goes to prove that a young lad of your colour can be as good as any other colour.’” Mr. Estwick also remembers meeting members of the Second Construction Battalion from the First World War.
“My family was from Barbados so we had a very strong allegiance to the British,” Mr. Estwick said. “Everyone would say how handsome they all looked in uniform.”The longest layover of his life: After advanced training in England, Mr. Estwick was assigned to duty in India by ship, with a 10-day layover in Durban, South Africa. Despite the red maple leaf sewn onto his uniform, Mr. Estwick was continuously denied entry into the local restaurants. One night when he and a group of his radar buddies went into a bar, a beefy bartender ordered Mr. Estwick out. Mr. Estwick was only 5-foot-7 but he had a reputation as a feisty boxer with an attitude. He was ready to fight the bartender when a British commando stepped in. “He said: ‘Hold on, Canada. He’s too big. That guy’s more my size. Let me do it.’” Mr. Estwick recalled. “And he took the guy down.”

Service to honour WWII RAF airmen

RAF pilots who defeated the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain are being remembered at a thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey.
Veterans and their families are attending, along with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Defence Secretary Des Browne.
The service marks the 68th anniversary of the battle that cost 544 airmen.
It was these crewmen Winston Churchill referred to in his phrase "never was so much owed by so many to so few".
The service is also being attended by Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy.
After the ceremony, the Prince of Wales, who is patron of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, and the Duchess were due to meet former aircrew members.
Four Tornado F3s were also taking part in a fly-past over Westminster Abbey.
The defeat of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe by the RAF's Hurricane and Spitfire pilots came at a cost of more than 1,000 fighter planes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Veteran reunited with lost medals

Veteran reunited with lost medals

Mr Brown lost his medals as he boarded a boat using his walking frame
A 93-year-old veteran of the Dunkirk evacuation has been reunited with war medals after they were recovered by scuba divers from the River Thames.
Charles Brown lost two rows of medals last Sunday as he boarded a boat during the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships cruise from Kingston to Weybridge.
Mr Brown said he was "emotional" about the medals which included an OBE, a Dunkirk and Normandy campaign medal.
Divers from Teddington Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) found them.
Scuba divers began their fingertip search near Kingston Bridge at about 1100 BST on Saturday.

Last week attempts to recover the medals with magnets proved unsuccessful.
Mr Brown lost the medals from the breast pocket of his jacket as he used his walking frame to board a boat near Kingston Bridge.
On hearing about the recovery Mr Brown, who is originally from Southwark in south London, came to the riverside from his care home in Woking, Surrey.
He said: "I do get a bit emotional because these medals meant so much to me. I wasn't a celebrity, a pop singer or a cricketer, these medals were what I was proud of.
"I'm not going to be celebrating with cream cakes or anything like that, just having the medals back is enough for me."
Poor visibility
Malcolm Miatt, operations manager at Teddington RNLI, said: "It was a fingertip search on a grid pattern. I wasn't sure that we'd find the medals because they have been down there all week."
RNLI's helmsman and experienced scuba diver Jean-Pierre Trenque, who led the dive, said: "It was quite dark but surprisingly we had probably half a metre visibility in there.
"I literally just went in the water, straight down the wall, we had good datum where the medals had been dropped and I didn't think they would have drifted too much."
Mr Brown, who joined the army as a volunteer in 1939, was a tank transporter and fought a rear guard defence at Dunkirk.
He was one of the last off the beach during the evacuation.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Guy Gibson and the Dambusters remembered 65 years on

May 16th, 2008 a service and fly-past has been held to mark the 65th anniversary of the World War II Dambusters mission.
A Lancaster bomber flew three times over Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire, which was used by the original pilots to train ahead of their famous raid.
In 1943, the RAF's 617 Squadron set out to destroy three dams in Germany's Ruhr valley. They managed to breach two, giving a boost to Britain's war effort.
The service remembered the eight aircraft and 53 crew who were lost.
A Spitfire, a Hurricane, two Tornadoes and a Dakota transport plane joined the fly-past.
Most of them travelled from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to take part.
Low-level mission
Sqn Ldr Les Munro, the last surviving pilot from the mission which was codenamed Operation Chastise, was a guest of honour.
The New Zealander said: "I feel a certain amount of pride that I've outlasted the other pilots.
"I'm not sure whether that says anything about the way I've lived and that sort of thing, but I think that I've always had a bit of satisfaction in that I've outlasted many of the others."
Also present was Michael Gibson whose uncle, Wing Cdr Guy Gibson, led the Dambusters.

WWII Dambusters raid revisited
During the service, 88-year-old Richard Todd, who played Mr Gibson in the 1954 film The Dambusters, laid poppies on the water of the reservoir.
The Lancaster is the last left flying in the UK, and there are only two still airworthy in the world.
It flew 100ft above the water, which compares to the 60ft of the Dambusters on their practice runs.
On 16 May 1943, 19 aircraft set out to destroy the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany's industrial heartland.
They used specially-designed drum-shaped bouncing bombs which skimmed across the water, rolled down the dam wall and exploded at depth.
Only 11 of the aircraft returned from the perilous low-level mission in which they flew at just 150ft all the way from England before descending for the bombing run to defeat the German radar.
It resulted in the largest awarding of medals at any one time during the war.
The bouncing bombs were the brainchild of legendary aviation engineer Sir Barnes Wallis, who was knighted in 1971.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An RCAF tribute to Victor Phillip Walsh

I wish to dedicate this tribute to Mr. Victor Walsh who is originally from Montreal, Canada. Mr Walsh joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. Victor wanted to join the RCAF like so many young airmen, to help protect his country in times of danger and trouble, not only for Canada but for all of the free world. I would have loved to meet Victor but i never have but i have been very fortunate to meet his son Richard, through the wonders of the Internet, actually through EBay and then Richard told me of his father Victor. I was so happy and proud to meet the son of an RCAF airman that i offered Richard to do a post of his father and of his WW2 exploits. I am very fortunate to do a post of a WW2 veteran who has contributed to give us so much of our freedom that many people now seem to take so much for granted! Even now, 63 years after the end of the Second World war, i simply cannot forget any of the sacrifices our veterans have done for us and this includes the sacrifices of Victor.

Victor joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in Montreal to be an Air gunner on a Canadian or British bomber of the Commonwealth forces during the Second World War but his ambitions didn't stop him there! Having a High school diploma, Victor figured that he actually could be and wanted to be an RCAF pilot. Although a tall man, Victor was able to somehow fit in the small cramped space of an air gunner to protect his bomber but this just wasn't enough for Victor. He wanted more action and more responsibilities so he became a pilot for the RCAF after many months of learning, training and flying. From my personnel accounts as a WW2 historian, i do not recall hearing of many air gunners becoming pilots during the Second World War, so this was indeed quite an exploit being an air gunner and then becoming a pilot. Victor graduated from the RCAF gunnery and training school in 1943 and in 1944 was transferred to England. Victor, during the war after hard work and devotion became a warrant officer and has met the Queen mother at a reception at the Leinster Court Hotel in London on Febuary 10, 1942 with other Canadian airmen. Victor served in Italy and all across Europe during the Second World War as a gunner and then as an RCAF pilot. Victor, i wanted to say thank you for all of your courage and bravery and for all that you have done not only for me but for Canada all of the free world in which we live in today! I am so happy to be free, thanks to you and all of our veterans!

Thank you Victor and also thank you to Richard for helping me meet your father Victor, another Royal Canadian Air Force WW2 hero!


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A tribute to my friend Mr. Ted Turner

I would like to dedicate this tribute to my very good friend Mr. Ted Turner. Ted is someone who is always fascinating to talk to and always has a good story to tell and i would like to share to the world his story of bravery and courage. Like so many young men of his age in the early 1940's war was ravaging Europe and Ted wanted to do his contribution for our freedom so he signed up with the Army Reserves from age 15 to 17.5 when he was accepted by the Air Force but not paid by them until enlistment at age 18. He was in the Manitoba Mounted Rifles during that time and is very proud of that because it counts towards his military career. Ted is from Morden, Manitoba and he received part of his basic air crew training with the RCAF in Lachine, Quebec which happens to be my home town where I grew up and I remember very well the hangars where the base was situated on Provost street in Lachine. It was quite a fascinating time for the City of Lachine because so many young men from all over Canada went there to receive their basic training and Lachine was a reception and selection depot for the RCAF. Today only memories are unfortunately left of the airbase there in Lachine. Many men that trained in Lachine never came back home and are now buried in cemeteries all over Europe or are missing in action. Such brave men!

After Ted's basic training in Lachine he moved on to Quebec City and then to Mont Joli where he trained and graduated as an Air gunner on a Fairey Battle single-engine aircraft. In late 1943 Ted was transferred from Halifax, Canada to England for more air gunnery training. Such extensive training was necessary before combat! Then afterwards when training was completed Ted was chosen as a members of the crew on Handley Page Halifax bomber. The pilot who chose Ted as one of the member of his crew was Flying Officer Lloyd W. Patten of the RCAF also from Manitoba. Ted was posted to a conversion unit to train on the Halifax bomber and did operations (ops) in England on a Wellington bomber before being posted on a Halifax bomber doing his 35 missions of the war. The Halifax bomber consisted of seven crew members and Ted was the rear gunner.

Ted was very lucky along with his crew to have done 35 missions over Europe without being shot down over enemy territory! Ted and his crew did their last flight to try out a new belly gun on a Halifax, which was over enemy territory, so he could have been shot down and killed or captured, at that time. Ted remembers on one of his missions, one night flying over a burning airport in Germany and having to confront a Luftwaffe Messerschmidt ME 109 that came out of nowhere behind a cloud and noticing the ME-109 at the very last second. This was quite an hair raising experience indeed when you don't see the enemy coming for you until the last second! All and all Ted and his crew were very lucky because in those days the odds were that only 1 in 5 allied bombers would survive their first five bombing missions at the most. When you were able to survive 35 missions or more you were considered a very lucky crew. Ted was commissioned as a Pilot Officer from Flight Sergeant after the end of his 35 mission tour and and only found out about it after he had returned to Canada, after spending two months in a hospital in Engand and in Winnipeg due to sickness. He was carried off the hospital ship back in Canada and taken straight to hospital. Ted had been hoping that he (and also the mid-upper gunner Adam Kell, who was also from the Interlake District of Manitoba and has also volunteered with him) to go to Japan but Ted spent January and February of 1945 in hospital in Winnipeg. When he was discharged from hospital, he was also discharged from the Air Force for medical reasons. The war in Europe ended in May and the war with Japan ended in August of 1945, so he was never sent to fight the Japanese. After the war another amazing career was about to begin for Ted. Ted learned how to fly and became a bush pilot in Northern Manitoba and Northern Ontario from 1950 to 1966 and then moved to BC and became a coastal pilot until his retirement in 1982. Ted flew over 30,000 hours in his flying career as a bush and coastal pilot. Such a beautiful way to earn a living indeed! Quite an accomplishment for anyone who loves to fly!

Ted, i wanted to say Thank you for all you have done for myself and the rest of Canada and the free world and we will always remember you and all of our veterans past and present for what you have done for our freedom!

Thank you Ted and God bless all of our veterans!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The RCAF consolidated PBY Catalina

The WW2 RCAF consolidated PBY Catalina was a wonderful airplane that saved many downed airmen during the Second world war. From the Atlantic to the Pacific and the South Atlantic the PBY Catalina proved to be a formidable foe for German Uboats and a welcomed sight for the ditched Canadian and other airmen of the Allied Air Forces. The Catalina came into service in 1936 and flew with many air forces of the world until the late 1970's. 4000 Catalina's were build between the mid 1930's until the end of the Second World war in 1945. The Catalina proved to be a very versatile and enjoyable airplane to fly for the Allied Airmen being able to land on a runway or on water. Hundreds of sailors and airmen were rescued in harms way thanks to the Catalina. Sadly, there aren't too many of them left in flyable condition. Some say about 30 Catalina's are still in flyable condition to this day? This goes to show that anything historical should be preserved at all cost or restored to their original historical condition because once they are gone they can never come back to their original condition. The Americans used their Catalina's for search and rescue off the coast of the US and to attack Japanese convoys in the Pacific and the British and Canadians used them in the Atlantic for search and rescue and to attack German Uboats. The Australians and New Zealanders also used the PBY Catalina in the Pacific for strafing the Japanese and also for search and rescue.

In Canada the PBY was build by the Vickers Company in Cartierville which still exist today and the company is now named Canadair. The maker of the world famous Challenger and global jets and also the yellow Canadair water bombers that have some design familiarities with the PBY. The PBY's were also manufactured by the Boeing Aircraft Company and have two Pratt and Whitney engines that consist of radial piston engines. Weight: Empty 20,910 lbs., Max Takeoff 35,420 lbs.Wing Span: 104ft. Length: 63ft. 10.5in. Height: 20ft. 2in. Performance: Maximum Speed: 179 mph Long-Range Cruising Speed: 117 mph Ceiling: 14,700 ft. Range: 2,545 miles Armament: Five 7.62-mm (0.3-inch) machine guns Up to 4,000 pounds of bombs or depth charges. There were many variations of the PBY throughout the war until the end of it's production in 1945. I will be making more tributes in time to come to some of our great Canadian and Allied airplanes and fliers of WW2. To be followed.

We were very fortunate to have a wonderful aircraft such as the consolidated PBY Catalina and great pilots and air crews that contributed to save the lives of the people in need and helped the Allies win the war over the oceans of the world.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spitfire heroine's joy over medal

A woman pilot who was among those who flew replacement fighters to RAF bases during World War II has spoken of her joy at the recognition for her work.
Margaret Frost, 87, is one of 15 women and 100 men who are to have a special merit award for serving in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).
The parson's daughter from Bwlchllan, near Lampeter, west Wales, flew Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs.
She said: "We just went wherever we were needed to go."
The ATA played a pivotal role in ensuring the RAF received the planes it desperately needed as fighter pilots fought dog fights with the Luftwaffe.
Made up of old WWI pilots, injured airmen and women who had private flying experience, it ferried new and repaired fighters, bombers and other aircraft from factories to frontline bases.

I think that we were extremely lucky when I look back to be able to fly those planes when we all so wanted to do that
Margaret Frost
Ms Frost won her wings in 1938, after just 15 hours in the air, only five of them solo.
She was rejected by the ATA when she volunteered after war broke out because she was just under the 5ft 4in (1.62m) height requirement and was considered too inexperienced.
But the need for pilots was so great three years later that, aged 22, she was accepted, only to face objections from her father.
She said: "Villagers where we lived heard about it [and] phoned my father to congratulate him and I overheard him say I would not be allowed to do it.
"Soon after he got a second call and he then said he wasn't sure whether I should do it.
"By the third call he was saying he was delighted and so I suppose he was swayed by public opinion."

Her father was swayed by 'public opinion' to let her join the ATA
She was posted to "number 15 ferrypool" based at Hamble, near Southampton, and flew spitfires, hurricanes, mustangs and barracudas all over the UK.
She said: "We were not allowed to fly above 2,000ft (600m) and there was no radio contact so it could be quite lonely.
"And, of course you didn't meet many people during the war because you were busy doing it all.
"But I think that we were extremely lucky when I look back to be able to fly those planes when we all so wanted to do that."
When the war was all over people just went their own way and didn't want any recognition - that was just the way it was
Margaret Frost
She added: "It is marvellous to get the recognition but I also feel very embarrassed about it all really because there are so few of us left.
"I should think that the original girls who started it all would be turning in their graves now at all the fuss.
"When the war was all over people just went their own way and didn't want any recognition. That was just the way it was.
"Nobody wanted any fuss they just did what was needed doing at the time and after the war got back on with their lives."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The battle for Malta.

In 1940 everything seemed quite bleak for the free world! Western Europe had capitulated to Nazi Germany and England was struggling for survival. One very small island in the Mediterranean sea is of vital importance not only for the Allies but also to the Axis forces and this small island is called Malta. This little island is only 142 square miles in the Mediterranean sea but of so much importance to the supply lines of both forces. Possession of this little piece of land is vital for control of supply lines. Cross the Mediterranean by sea or air in any direction and you will pass close to island of Malta. Control of Malta is Vital for the supply lines of North Africa for the Afrika Korps and vital for the British troops there to wreck havoc on the German army in North Africa. Malta has been of strategic importance for hundreds of years. On June 10Th, 1940 Mussolini decides to bomb Malta with his Regia Aeronotica (Italian Air Force). Imagine, the Royal Air Force only had three flyable Gladiator 6C to ward off incoming Italian bombers and fighters. The British were defending the island of Malta with three World War 1 fighter airplanes against more modern Italian fighters and bombers. Thankfully before the end of June four Hurricane fighters landed on the island to refuel on their way to North Africa and were pressed into defending Malta instead of heading back to North Africa. Finally the island had four modern fighters for its defense. The Royal Air Force was able to control the air over Malta because of the inexperience of the Italian Air Force but their luck quickly changed when the Luftwaffe came into battle for the Italian reinforcement in January of 1941. The Luftwaffe were based in Sicily only seventy-five miles away from Malta. Now the Italians had reinforcements from Germany and the RAF were in big trouble. Fortunately in April of 1941 more newer versions of the Hurricanes arrived that were a closed match to the BF-109's. In 1941 the role of the RAF was mostly on the offensive. Save the island lads! Don't forget, the nearest British bases were at least 1,000 miles away from the island of Malta from Gibraltar in the ouest and Alexandria in Egypt on the eastern flank.

In June of 1941, RAF fighters and fleet air arms from aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean were able to attack the Afrika Korps in North Africa and the shipping of troops and merchandise in the Mediterranean in which Erwin Rommel was in desperate need. Mind you these attacks came to great loss for the British forces that lost so many men and aircraft in the deserts of North Africa. Many of there flyer's graves are scattered throughout North Africa. (RIP.) From April to November of 1941 the RAF and the British Fleet air arms were able to sink 170,000 tons of enemy shipping. In December of 1941 Malta was under constant bombing from the Luftwaffe to the despair of the British! The British forces were beginning to wonder when this hell will end because of the constant fighting in the air and on the island. Now, two islands are at stake, Great Britain and Malta!!!! At one time in February of 1942 the Luftwaffe had over two thousands sorties to the despair of the British. The Germans wanted nothing less than air supremacy over Malta. The RAF was indeed outclassed and outnumbered by the Luftwaffe. In February of 1942 Air Vice Marshal Lloyd reported to his Commander in chief that it was becoming impossible to do any sorties for his fighters. His airfields were under constant attacks. What the RAF badly needed were reinforcements from Hawker Hurricanes to Spitfires to save the island. Finally in February of 1942 fifteen Spitfires arrived on the island from Gibraltar. Don't forget the island was resupplied by convoys each month from England and the RAF had to protect them on their way to Malta but in February of 1942 the RAF were so badly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe that no convoy reached the island to feed the population and the British forces. Now the RAF was in shortage of fuel, ammunition and so on. The RAF's desperately needed fuel was floating in the Mediterranean sea sunk by a Uboat or a Luftwaffe bomber.

Finally on April 20, 1942 47 Spitfires were able to take off from the USS Wasp to Malta as greatly needed reinforcements. Unfortunately, the German army radars in Sicily had detected the 47 spitfires in the air on their way to Malta and were destroyed on the runways or in the air by the Luftwaffe. This is very bad news for the RAF high command. Two weeks later 60 Spitfires were dispatched again from the USS Wasp and the HMS Eagle to the island flying low over the water and having all hands waiting on the ground in Malta for the spitfires when they arrived they had them refuelled and armed and ready to meet the oncoming Luftwaffe immediately. They had learned from their previous experiences two weeks earlier that speed is of the essence for survival. The Spitfires were quickly back in the air ready for battle. Day and night the battle raged on day after day, night after night until the winter of the 1942 the siege was lifted. At last with a stroke of good fortune the battle of Malta was coming to an end! The British and allied airmen and soldiers, sailors were totally exhausted! The battle lasted over two years and after 14,500 tons of bombs fell on the island. Over 1,500 civilians had been killed or injured and 23,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged. Thank God the island did not fall to the hands of the Axis forces otherwise the re-supply of North Africa would have been possible for the Army of General Erwin Rommel and General Montgomery and his desert rats might have lost the war against the Afrika Korps in North Africa. This would have permitted General Rommel to walk right through to South Africa and Gibraltar and drive back to Europe from the southern Mediterranean. Quite a frightening scene to know that General Rommel could have controlled the African continent. British and Canadians fought for the battle of Malta and so many gave their lives! George Beurling is one of the Canadian aces and heroes who fought to save Malta.