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!

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