Monday, November 15, 2010

Larry Carter, RCAF Pilot, KIA

This amazing story was sent to me by someone that wished to remain anonymous. The link to this story was sent through my tribute to the RCAF email address. I thought that this story of courage, should be posted on my blog. This young man's name is Larry Carter as seen on the Flickr link which can be viewed simply by double clicking on the title, Larry Carter, RCAF Pilot, KIA, above. I would have liked to respond to the person who has sent me this link, to know, if i can make a copy of the Flickr page and post it my my blog? Who ever is the rightful owner of the picture and story, if you have any objections or comments, please let me know! In the mean time, i though that it would be beautiful to post this story of courage and sacrifice by a another truly brave Canadian by the way who trained at the RCAF base in Lachine in which, i have made a previous article on my blog. Thank you Larry for your courage.

Larry was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on January 23, 1924. His father was Roy Cuthbert Carter, and his mother was Josephine Stovel. He was one of the best educated of the crew, having achieved his senior matriculation (grade 12). He enjoyed hockey, football and track. Larry enlisted at Windsor, Ontario, on May 20, 1942. His first station was at  #5 Manning Depot in Lachine, Quebec, where he learned military discipline, aviation basics, regulations, history, and navigation. Between courses he engaged in endless drills and weapon-handling exercises.

At #3 Initial Training School, Victoriaville, Quebec, it was found that Larry had the aptitude to be a bomber pilot. He was tested on a LINK flight simulator, which was a grueling test of one’s capabilities.

While attending #11 Elementary Flying Training School at Cap de la Madelaine, Quebec, Larry flew De Havilland Moth and Fairey Fleet training aircraft.

At #5 Special Service Flying School in Brantford, Ontario, Larry trained in Avro Ansons (known as the ‘greenhouse’ because of its wrap-around cockpit).

Larry was awarded his pilot’s badge on January 10, 1943. On October 22, 1943, he embarked from Halifax, and disembarked in Britain on October 30, 1943.

Upon arriving in Britain, he was first stationed at No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre in Bournemouth, Dorset, while waiting for openings to become available at advanced training units.

I’m a little bit sketchy concerning his precise training at 26 Elementary Flying Training School at Theale in Berkshire, RAF Gaydon in Warwickshire, 14 (P) AFU at Ossington in Nottinghamshire and Dallachy, Moray, Scotland.

At 83OTU Peplow, he trained on Wellington bombers, and it was here he was killed on a night training mission, July 22/23, 1944.

The commanding officer at Victoriaville found him to be “… a bright-eyed youngster with excellent Service Spirit. [He is ] very anxious to make good as any part of aircrew. Working very hard. [He] is keen, well-disciplined and should do well as captain of an aircraft”

Larry’s body was recovered from the sea east of Afonwen Junction, Caernarvonshire, on August 4, 1944, and he was buried at Blacon cemetery in Chester, on August 4, 1944

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The many behind the few: TV's David Jason takes to the skies in a Second World War Spitfire to pay tribute to the Battle of Britain's heroes...

During the Battle of Britain, those fighter pilots lucky enough to have dodged the Luftwaffe’s deadly bullets always performed a ritual on their way home.
They would wait until they were flying just above the White Cliffs of Dover – the very symbol of everything they were fighting for – and flip their Spitfire or Hurricane in an exuberant barrel-roll of honour.
It was a kind of ecstatic, airborne dance of victory. Recently, while filming my forthcoming ITV documentary on the Battle of Britain, I got to experience just a little of what they must have felt.
Not only did I get to fly a Spitfire – with the help of a trusting trainer, Carolyn Grace, in the front – but I also got to experience the stomach-tumbling joy of the ritual myself.
That day I had already soared high above the English Channel in a plane steeped in military history.

My Spitfire had flown 300 combat hours during the Second World War and had shot down the first enemy plane during D-Day. It had been mind-blowing to imagine the steel required by pilots to keep their nerve, their course steady and their aim true while bullets flew past them in all directions. But the best was yet to come. As we flew back, Carolyn said: ‘Just imagine, you’re returning home after surviving your latest battle with the Luftwaffe. Now look over there.’ And as I did, I saw the White Cliffs looming majestically up from the sea.
‘Shall we do the barrel-roll?’ she asked. The answer had to be ‘yes’. Carolyn took the controls and we flipped in a glorious double somersault, careening above the cliffs with the magnificence of an eagle.

There are not too many things in life that have reduced me to tears but this was one of them. I felt humbled and so proud of those men who fought for us in our darkest hour. It’s an experience that will never leave me.

For me, the making of a documentary to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain was an intensely personal journey. I was born in February 1940 so I was just six months old as the battle raged overhead.

Our soaring and twirling Spitfire was painting the sky with a hula hoop of happiness...

I grew up in London, a city devastated by the bombing. I am, you might say, a Blitz Baby.

I was too small to remember much about it but all of us alive at that time were shaped by the events of the war. My parents, Arthur and Olwen, were honest, working-class people who raised my brother Arthur, sister June and me with the values of that era – patriotism, stoicism, honesty, concern for your neighbours and judging a man by what he did rather than what he had.
My mum worked as a char when I was growing up and my dad was a fishmonger, but during the war years he had another role, too. He was in the Reserves, a kind of Home Guard.

The stories my father used to tell about his service in that organisation had echoes of Dad’s Army about it. We lived in Finchley, North London, and so he and his compatriots in the local division would plonk themselves on top of the nearby Southgate Gasometer with an ack-ack gun and fire at German bombers as they flew overhead.
The problem was that they never actually had any real bullets because they were all being used in the war effort elsewhere. My dad would come home and say: ‘We could have hit them if we had ammunition!’ It wasn’t funny at the time, although he laughed about it years later when he retold the stories.
Thinking back, he was lucky to survive. Can you imagine if a bomb had hit the gasometer? He would still be flying now. When you look at the large casualty figures – four million British homes destroyed and more than 60,000 British civilians killed in bombing raids during the Second World War, two-thirds of those during the Blitz – we were lucky to survive at all. At home we had an air-raid shelter and we were religious about observing the lights-out rule.

One little chink of light could guide a German bomber in, and that would be it. Even now, the rule is so conditioned in my brain that I’ll never leave a light on in the house unnecessarily and I can get quite grumpy when other people do. Yet still, even with these precautions, everyone in London was vulnerable. One night, a German plane scattered bombs all around us: one landed just up the road on the Gaumont cinema, another in Percy Road, the street next to us, and a third in our road, Lodge Lane.
If the bomb had dropped just 150 yards to the right, I wouldn’t be here today. Years after the war had ended, the scarred landscape of London remained the backdrop of my childhood.
Our gang played on the bombsite that had been left in Lodge Lane, while a rival group played on theirs in Percy Road. When it got close to November 5, we would creep over to the rival bombsite to sabotage the bonfire they had been building. We would try to set fire to theirs, they would try to set fire to ours.

As young lads, around the age of ten, it never occurred to us that these ‘playgrounds’ were created by a bomb and that people must have died there. But now aged 70, I find myself reflecting on the human cost in both civilian and military terms.

We need to remember, for example, that during the war more than 55,000 men in Bomber Command never made it back – 5,000 of those were from Elvington, near York, one of several airfields I visited while making my documentary. Indeed, the life expectancy of a fighter pilot at the height of the battle could be counted in days. And I’ve been thinking not just about the pilots – perhaps the bravest men in the world – but of all the men and women on the ground who helped us defeat the forces of Nazi Germany.

These include the crews who looked after the planes and kept them ready constantly for service. I met Joe Roddis, who had been an 18-year-old flight mechanic in 1940 at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, now home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

‘Without us, it was no good,’ he said simply. ‘And without them, the pilots, it was even less good.’

Then there was the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, affectionately known as the WAAFs. By 1943, the WAAF’s numbers exceeded 180,000, with more than 2,000 women enlisting every week.

During those dreadful months of the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, it was WAAFs such as the redoubtable Hazel Gregory, then aged 19, who worked as ‘plotters’ in radar stations up and down the country. It was their job to map the progress of Luftwaffe planes as they flew towards Britain.

During our interview, I looked into Hazel’s eyes as we sat together 60ft below ground in a bunker in Uxbridge that had been the Fighter Command centre for London and the South East.

‘Did you ever worry that the Germans would succeed?’ I asked her. ‘No,’ she said. ‘There was tremendous spirit and nobody thought for a single moment that we wouldn’t win.’ What better example of the Blitz spirit could you ever encounter?

And let’s not forget the Royal Observer Corps, a band of unarmed civilians stationed at hundreds of observation posts all over the country. While filming, I went to the wartime location of one such post, codenamed Sugar Three. There I met Dennis Bates and John Elgar Winney, two of the 30,000-strong army of volunteers who had spied on the skies through binoculars. ‘What we could do that the radar couldn’t was to tell what type of aircraft were coming, how many there were and what direction they were flying in,’ Dennis told me. They would call this intelligence through on a crackling GPO line to their own HQ, which then alerted Fighter Command, which would scramble Spitfires and Hurricanes.

‘The Observer Corps were vital in the Battle of Britain,’ John added. ‘Without us it could not have been won.’ The most important lesson, then, to emerge from the making of the documentary was that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to so many people. As Terry Kane, another of the veteran fighter pilots I was privileged enough to meet, explained: ‘It wasn’t just the pilots who won the Battle of Britain. In many senses, it was the whole country.’

If Britain had not come together at that time, as it did, to defeat theNazis, none of us would have lived the kind of life that we have been able to live, or had the kind of freedoms I know that I have certainly enjoyed.

So the documentary became not just about those brave fighter pilots immortalised in Winston Churchill’s post-Battle of Britain victory speech in which he said: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’

It was also a tribute to the ‘many’ behind the ‘few’: the unsung heroes of the Battle of Britain. Most importantly, I wanted to reveal the human face behind the history lesson, although, of course, the history itself is important.

War had been declared in 1939 and by the end of June 1940 the German jackboot went right through most of Europe, including France and Poland, and it was also well on its way to Russia. Britain was next on Hitler’s hit-list and by August 1940, German invasion barges were assembling on the French coast.

However, they could not set sail until the Luftwaffe had wiped out the RAF, both in the air and on the ground. We didn't feel brave, we just got on with it

It was essential that the RAF prevailed because it was the only thing standing between freedom and the Nazis, and if it had capitulated we would have been annihilated.

Yet we were horrendously outnumbered – 4,000 German bombers and fighters massed against just 600 RAF fighters.

‘But the question of being outnumbered didn’t come into it because you were always outnumbered,’ said Paul Farnes, who was a 21-year-old Hurricane pilot in 501 Squadron at the time. ‘But we had one big advantage: we were fighting over our own country and so we knew all too well what we were fighting for.’

Unwisely, Hitler had not reckoned on the indomitability of the British spirit and the men and women of the RAF. His generals had told him it would be easy, but even after attempting to destroy our airfields before turning his attention to cities such as London, Aberdeen, Bristol, Coventry and Hull, still we would not yield.

Hitler was left scratching his head over his force’s inability to defeat us. In the end, I suppose he said: ‘OK, we’ll come back to that later’ which was a big mistake because he never got to do that. The Battle of Britain was not just a defining moment in our nation’s history, it was also the absolute turning point in a war that ultimately saw the Nazis defeated.

But I also wanted to take a closer look at the men and the machines – the pilots and the planes – that gave the Luftwaffe such a run for their money in 1940. I’ve always had such tremendous respect for the men who fought in the Battle of Britain and I am a patron of the RAF Benevolent Fund.

I also have a pilot’s licence myself, although in my case, until I flew the Spitfire, I had only ever flown helicopters. I got my licence in 2005 after my wife Gill bought me a flying lesson as a birthday present.

I found myself so completely hooked on flying that I was determined to get the necessary qualifications. A couple of years ago, I bought my own helicopter, a Robinson R44. I use it occasion-ally to fly myself to sets where I am filming or to business meetings.

From Buckinghamshire, where I live, I’ll fly for an hour to Norwich, perhaps, or to the south coast. But I never fly more than that. It’s more than enough in terms of the mental workload because it takes a lot of concentration. So I’m lost in admiration at the way our pilots were able to fly up to six sorties a day. And they did it without any of the mod-cons that pilots have today. They would have been alone and freezing cold, heading towards an enemy that had only one objective in mind. It was a shoot-or-be-shot situation. It would have taken nerves of steel. During my visit to RAF Coningsby, I was shown the oldest airworthy Spit-fire in the world. It is the only one still flying today that fought in the Battle of Britain. A team of proud fitters showed me the workings of this magnificent plane, including its eight guns.

Each was loaded with 350 bullets, which seems impressive but this gave the pilots only 12 to 14 seconds of fire-power, after which they had to come back to base to reload before going out again.

‘Ninety-seven per cent of the bullets missed. We were very bad shots,’ Tom Riley, another of the veteran fighter pilots, recalled with a smile. ‘But the only thing to do was to get as close as you could to the bloke in front. If you could almost touch him you could probably hit him.’

Like so many of the pilots, Tom had been heartbreak-ingly young at the time that he risked all for his country. He was just 19 when he flew his first Battle of Britain mission. The average age of fighter pilots was 22.

Amazingly, the pilot in command of one of the squadrons that bombed Dresden later in the war was only 24.It’s difficult to imagine young men in their early 20s these days being able to stand so much responsibility.

But, perhaps, if the enemy was at our door, as it was then, they would find the courage.Back in 1939 these young men had joined the RAF as volunteers and learned to fly in Tiger Moths, but with the outbreak of war they were called upon to defend our skies in Spitfires and Hurricanes against the Messerschmitts and Dorniers.

It was not what they had signed up for and so, in that sense, their lives were not given for this country but taken by it, because no fool ever actively wants to go to war.And yet they discovered such tremendous heroism and tenacity within themselves, although they would never dream of boasting about their own achievements.

‘I don’t think anybody felt particularly brave,’ former Hurricane pilot Paul Farnes said. ‘It was what we had been trained for. It was our job and we just got on and did it.’During my interviews, I wanted to find out what – aside from luck – separated those who survived from those who died.

According to Bill Green, a fighter pilot with 501 Squadron who flew 29 missions himself before being gunned down and baling out, it was the exhausted and the inexperienced pilots who were first to be shot down.

‘Most of the casualties were inexperienced pilots joining the squadron one day and being shot down the next,’ he told me. ‘The ones who stayed alive usually had a great deal of experience.’

Paul Farnes added: ‘The really good pilots all had a sixth sense. They didn’t need to look round to see where the danger was – they felt it instinctively and dodged the bullets.

‘Those who had intuition survived and those who didn’t got shot down, I’m afraid. It was brutal.’

At RAF Hawkinge, now the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, I saw just how brutal things were for myself. The museum still holds the remains of 650 crashed aircraft – a propeller from a German Dornier 17 is riddled with bullets, showing just how many shots it must have taken to bring down such an aircraft. But while our planes did fall, the British spirit never faltered, and in its own way, life went on. People still fell in love, babies were still born, and the young still tried to enjoy themselves.

For example, after working at Fighter Command at Uxbridge, Hazel Gregory would travel into London to go dancing. Was she worried about the bombers, I wondered.  ‘No,’ she replied. ‘We were young and we wanted to have fun.’So in the midst of it all she wanted what probably every ordinary young woman wanted at the time: to meet a good-looking pilot or soldier and have an innocent dance.

They all wanted to forget about the worries of the war for an evening and just have a good time. Again, I felt totally moved by what she told me.There is an emotional thread that runs through the documentary – the same emotional thread that still binds us and tugs at us 70 years after the events of that fateful period.
We are still fascinated by that time – by the Second World War in general and the Battle of Britain in particular – because it was our finest hour. And it was the spirit of the men and women just like Hazel and all the fighter pilots and those who ensured that they could keep on flying that made it so.
Flying high above the White Cliffs of Dover at the end of the documentary, the soaring, twirling Spitfire painting the sky with a hula hoop of happiness seemed to embody the very spirit of those brave men and women and of the Battle of Britain itself.

After the barrel-roll of victory, I retook the controls and we headed homewards.‘You certainly know how to affect a man’s heart!’ I told Carolyn.

And, oh, how she did.

David Jason: Battle Of Britain will be shown on ITV1 on September 12 at 7pm. Albert’s Memorial, a drama about Second World War veterans in which David Jason stars, will be shown on the same evening at 9pm.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Veterans gather on clifftop to celebrate 70th anniversary of Battle of Britain

Veterans who took part in the Battle of Britain gathered on a clifftop in blazing sunshine today at an event to mark 70 years since the start of the historic conflict. Around 5,000 people attended the open air service at the Battle of Britain memorial at Capel-le-Ferne near Dover, Kent. As well as the ceremony, which included the Act of Remembrance and wreath-laying, there were flypasts by a Spitfire and Lancaster bomber and a parade involving veterans and current air cadets.

A Hurricane was unable to fly due to technical problems. The event was attended by Prince Michael of Kent, who took the salute, along with the RAF's most senior figure, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. 'There's been a complete mixture of people here, young and old, lots of families, aircraft enthusiasts,' spokesman Malcolm Triggs said of the annual event was the biggest memorial day yet.

'It's particularly important for youngsters to understand the history and to see the veterans here and be able to get an idea of the bravery they showed. 'This anniversary is a very significant event,' he added. He said 19 veterans were in attendance, with some of them taking part in the parade. During the summer of 1940, nearly 3,000 British and Allied airmen took on the Luftwaffe and ended up preventing a German invasion of England.
Then prime minister Winston Churchill famously said of their actions: 'Never was so much owed by so many to so few.' Officially the conflict took part between July 10, 1940 and 31 October that year, when the Luftwaffe called off bombing raids due to mounting losses and bad weather. A total of 544 British and Allied airmen lost their lives during the period. It is thought that only about 100 of the veterans who took part in the battle survive. "LEST WE NEVER FORGET"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A call to reason for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster

I wanted to post on my blog a call to reason! Something to the South of us in The United States is troubling me very much! It is the Oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Our Father's and Grandfather's have won many wars againts tyrants such as Hitler, Mussolini and people who wanted to rule the world without a democracy!! I think that this oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is like a war and we are not winning it right now! This spill is gushing millions of gallons of oil, methane and a lot of garbage that is killing wildlife and marshes and destroying the lives of thousands of fishermen, people related to the tourist industry in the United States and many more other working class people. This is all very sad!

BP and the American Government must do everything in their power to stop this oil spill before it gains the Gulf Stream and heads out to the Atlantic Ocean. This oil spill has already done enough damage and is now affecting the livelihood of people in Louisisana, Alabama, Florida and will eventually stream North with the Oceans current! I don't even want to think if there is a major hurricane in the Gulf although scientists and the people of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict that this hurricane season could be one of the worst on records due to the Gulf water and the Atlantic ocean being warmer than normal due to the oil absorbing the heat of the sun rays in the ocean.

I always like to talk of our veterans and all of their great accomplisments and history but this is oil spill is too important not to mention to the world through my blog and the way i feel about this disaster! This oil spill will go down in history as being humanities worst man made disaster!

Please, help in any way you can!! Please donate to an accredited Wildlife funds,  I have posted on my blog a logo of the National Wildlife Federation on the top left side, all you need to do is click on the logo to be re-directed to the National Wildlife federation to help maintain the eco system of the Gulf of Mexico and the wildlife. There are other sites where you can donate to help the people of The Gulf, write to your member of Parliament if you are in Canada or the United Kingdom, write to your senetor if you live in America and tell them that this spill must be stopped urgently because it is killing the Wildlife in the Gulf and destroying the Eco system of the Gulf of Mexico and destroying the people's lives.

You can contribute to Gulf Aid Acadiana. Gulf Aid Acadiana was founded by three friends with the help and support of many other friends. Singer-songwriter Zachary Richard is recognized for his committment to environmental and cultural causes. Author of 18 albums in both French and English, as well as several collections of poetry, he is best known for his efforts to promote the French language and Cajun culture of Louisiana. Their link is

I wish i could help in the Gulf as a volunteer but being here in Canada is impossible for me! At least, if i can do anything through my blog, it will already be a step for me in the right direction. Our veterans have helped win World Wars and bring peace againts tyranny and madmen but this is another kind of war that we all must participate in so we can win it! For the people of the Gulf, for the wildlife and this beautiful planet EARTH that we all live on!

God bless you all and let's win this war in the Gulf like our veterans did! It is urgent and the Gulf of Mexico is being polluted by the minute and will take generations as of today to bring it back to it's original state so every hour and every minute counts! This is very urgent!

Thank you for your help and your call to reason in this sad situation in the Gulf of Mexico. Let's win this war once and for all and let's do it fast!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A forgotten Spitfire hero

As a Spitfire pilot in the Second World War, John Mejor risked his life for his country, England. He went on to devote his working life to conservation, helping to preserve the nation’s heritage and landscape.

But in his hour of need, when he might have expected something in return, the state he gave so much to has forgotten him. The 88-year-old grandfather, who requires round-the-clock nursing at a home because of dementia and diabetes, has had the funding for his care withdrawn despite the advice of his GP.
His family now fear they will have to sell the house where his 94-year-old wife Cecile lives to cover the care home costs. On Thursday his daughter Sally Mejor, 54, said: ‘My father made great sacrifices for his country, he is a war hero and deserves better than this. I feel totally let down and hurt that he has been treated in this way.

Sally Mejor with father John Mejor, 88, is being forced to sell his house after the NHS withdrew full funding for his care.

‘It is a complete nightmare, a disgrace and an insult. He was, and still is, a very dignified man.’

Mr Mejor was moved from his house in Exmouth, Devon, to a care home 18 months ago because his family could no longer look after him following a series of mini-strokes.

At first his NHS Trust paid the £800-aweek costs at the nearby Linksway Care Home under its ‘continuing health care’ scheme. Mr Mejor was eligible for the scheme, which is not means tested, because of the assessment of his GP.
But now his health needs have been reviewed by a different doctor acting for the trust. Officials say he is no longer considered a ‘severe’ case and will only receive £106 per week towards his care.
Miss Mejor, however, says her father’s condition has not improved and his GP does not agree with the findings.

Miss Mejor, who lives at the family home in Exmouth as her mother’s full-time carer, said: ‘I cared for him myself for the first five years of his illness and if I could manage to continue I would. At no point was it said there would be any timeframe or, that should his condition improve, even slightly, it would be pulled from us.
‘If there was plenty of money to cover it, I would be willing and happy to pay. But because there isn’t, I have to stand up for him.’ 

Mr Mejor was born in Belgium but moved to Britain as a young boy and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in the war. During a mission over Malta in 1942, in which he shot down German bombers, he was forced to bale out over the sea after his plane was hit – but returned to battle the very next day.

His last operational flight was on D-Day, and after the war he rose to the rank of wing commander, in charge of a squadron of Vampire fighters. He retired in 1964 and set up the Devon Conservation Forum and the Devon Historic Buildings Trust.

Mr Mejor flew a Spitfire like this one above in the Second World War during the battle for Malta

Miss Mejor said: ‘What worries me is the money we are going to have to find for his care is going to have an effect on my mother’s life.

‘I’m fearful for her future, too, because we’re going to have to sell this house and she very much wanted to spend the rest of her life here.’

The family could apply for the NHS to pay for the residential care, but this is means tested and it is highly likely they would be unsuccessful. A health care source said that because Mr Mejor’s health was thought to have improved, extra funding would be an issue of social care – such as help with washing and dressing – rather than health care. This would make it a matter for the local authority, not the NHS.
On Thursday NHS Devon said the cost of Mr Mejor’s care would still be covered while an appeal was heard. This could take several months.

Parveen Brown, who is responsible for continuing health care funding at NHS Devon, said: ‘There is no question of funding being suddenly cut off, or of houses having to be sold abruptly.

‘We deal with these issues as sensitively as we can and we will offer our support throughout.’

Means test rules in England state that anybody who has been assessed as ineligible for nursing care must pay for residential care if they have assets worth more than £23,000. Last month it was revealed that at least 3,000 elderly people a year are forced to sell their homes to pay for residential care. There are fears that cash-strapped health trusts will use public spending cuts as an excuse to reduce funding further in England.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

South Normay-April 12, 1940 by Fl/Lt. M.W Donaldson, Royal Air Force

This is the account of a bomber pilot whose bombers formation attacked and sank the German cruiser "Karlsruhe" Flight Lieutenant Donaldson who is a Canadian flying with The Royal Air Force, hails from Lethbridge, Alberta, held a short term pre-war comission in the R.A.F.

This is a day i shall not forget in a hurry as it landed in Gafangenenschaft where i have resided. I was in a night bomber squadron, but owing to the invasion of Norway and our almost complete lack of long range day bombers we were called up to operate in daylight.

A German heavy cruiser (later identified as the Karlsruhe) had been damaged in the early morning hours by our Navy, but owing to heavy seas and bad visibility had made good escape. We were ordered to locate and destroy her. After a sticky trip across the North Sea the 12 of us arrived over the south coast of Norway and opening up into a wide view of sanctions commenced a sweep. I was a little worried about our formation as operating over ennemy territory with heavy and consequently slow aircraft, we ran every chance of meeting fighters. However we carried on and after two hours sweeping we sighted our quarry lying in Kristiansand harbour. "What very shortly proved to be a very costly mistake was made here as our leader ordered us into sections astern, aircraft astern which presented a long line of single bombers to the ennemy, any one of which could be engaged without assistance from another, and it also cut down our firepower to a bare minimum.

Opening the bomb doors we fused our bombs and commenced our run up. The picture is and will be clear in my mind; a cloudless sky, height 12,000 feet, airspeed 180 miles per hour, the cruiser appearing as a small gray silver of steel dashing headlong for the open sea and a pumping up of A.A. for all she was worth. Leading the last section of three, i was just coming onto the target when low and behold enemy fighters, six Messerschmiths 109's. Needless to say they attacked my section and in less time than it takes to put in writing my No.3 airman was shot down in flames and all hands were sadly lost. My No.2 and i managed to weather the storm, ran up, bomded, and as i did a turn to the west saw a direct hit scored just forward of my funnel. But i had very little time to observe as i was unable to catch up to the rest of my formation owing to the increased speed and the heavy and accurate attacks of the ennemy.

Being completely unable to hold them off, having neither the speed nor the firepower i came down to sea level, that at least protected our belly. The two of us had only just arrived there and got properly formed up with No.2 and simply exploded in mid-air in a mass of flames and in the twinkling of an eye had dissappeared forever under the cold gray surface of the sea. I was just about to throw in the towel then and there as with all my section except myself shot down, one of my gunners killed, the rest of us all hit and bullets and cannon shells simply raining in from all directions, we were a gone goose. But one dosen't surrender in the air and fight on we did.

After about three-quarters of an hour of concentrated hell my starboard engine took fire and i was forced to turn north and try to make the Norwegian coast. On the run in, the Jerries figuring we were cold meat threw caution to the winds and attacked relentleely right up to 20 yards. It was a bad mistake on their part as we still had a certain sting in the for of two Vickers K's. By simply heroic work my remaining rear gunner bounced three of them in quick succession with the result the remainder held off to a more respectable distance. Just as we were approching the shore, a well placed burst brought us crashing down in flames in the sea. By the grace of God and a lot of luck, we in the aircraft who were alive as we were shot down all emerged alive and kicking from what had a few seconds before been an aircraft.

Well there it is Jerry, you will no doubt think it is just one big moan--probably it is, but one does hate like hell to be as throughly thrashed as we were and have practically no means of fighting back but let me tell you the war is not over for me. I will continue fighting to my last breath!      

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The WW2 RAF poster boy now aged 91

The dashing young airman who became the poster boy of the RAF during World War II has been revealed – 65 year after the conflict ended.

Squadron Leader Ian Blair, now 91, was 22 years old when the famous snap was taken in 1940 after his daring flying in north Africa earned him a medal.

But he didn’t realise his fame until two years later when, on a break in Bournemouth, he saw his face on a propaganda notice warning 'Careless Talk May Cost His Life'.

Flying ace: Squadron Leader Ian Blair with the classic World War II poster he unwittingly posed for at age 22

The poster, aimed at raising morale on the Home Front and spreading vital educational messages, was one of the most enduring images of the war.

Last week, a recently unearthed stash of mint condition pictures sold at auction for more than £25,000 after attracting bids from around the world.

Mr Blair, from Brentwood, Essex, who was born the year the RAF was formed, yesterday told of the moment in 1942 when he first saw the poster.

He said: ‘I wasn't even aware that it had been produced. The photo had been taken two years earlier, in North Africa, when I was a 22-year-old corporal.

‘I didn't think anything more of it, and then all of a sudden, there I was, hanging on the wall of a post office.’

In the famous image, Mr Blair is smiling in his airman's kit as if he hadn't a care in the world.

But just the day before, the former air ace of 113 Squadron had saved himself and a comrade with an act of bravery that won him the coveted Distinguished Flying Medal.

Dashing: Mr Blair was pictured in north Africa in 1940 after earning the Distinguished Flying Medal for bravery

He said: ‘I look cheerful in the photo. I always look cheerful. But it doesn't tell you the true story - the full picture.

‘The day before, we had been sent out to bomb an enemy airfield at Derna, about 400 miles west of Alexandria.

‘We were in a Blenheim bomber, and I was the observer. That's the guy in the front who does the navigation and drops the bombs.

‘But as soon as I had released the bombs, a fighter-plane attacked us.’ Glasgow-born Sqn Ldr Blair still has the blood-stained flight log he made that day. The pencil entries end suddenly.

He said: ‘There was an almighty bang. When I looked round, the pilot - a chap called Reynolds - was slumped forward on the controls.

Hero: Mr Blair with his medals on his dress uniform

‘I think it was the very last round that killed him. It was really unfortunate. His luck had run out.

‘Then the aircraft went into a steep dive.’

Despite having never flown an aircraft in his life before that moment, the young airman - paid one shilling and sixpence per day extra to fill in as part-time air crew - took charge.

He said: ‘From that moment the only thing going through my mind was survival. Everything happened so quickly, and we had to get the heck out of there.

‘I managed to pull the pilot's body off his seat and get the aircraft under control. But we still had to get home and land the thing.

‘My gunner, Hank, sent a message back to base saying: “We're in dire trouble here, the observer is flying the aircraft.”

‘Lo and behold, when we got back to base there was whole gallery of people, cars, ambulances and fire tenders all lined up waiting for the ultimate - but it didn't happen.

‘I had spent a long time watching pilots, and made a textbook landing. We came down in a shower of dust.

‘Perhaps I was a bit over-confident. The air officer commanding the base apparently said: “If that guy can fly an aircraft without a pilot's course, let's send him on a pilot's course.”’

He was presented with his DFM by George VI.

Mr Blair, who joined the RAF as a boy entrant apprentice aged 16 in 1934, went on to fly Spitfires against the Luftwaffe, and was shot down twice before the war ended.

He said: ‘They say that if you walk away from a landing, it's a good landing.

‘I spent 11 months in hospital after one crash but the strangest effect was psychological.

‘Each aircraft has its own smell. After the incident in the Blenheim, I couldn't bear the smell of Blenheims. It was the same after I was shot down in a Spitfire.

‘The quack prescribed a daily glass of milk with three drops of iodine. My friends were quite envious because nobody else got milk.’

Iconic: The well-known propoganda poster was among a selection recently sold for £25,000 at auction

After the war he served in Singapore and Malta and retired from the RAF in 1977, having served for 44 years.

He was an honoured guest at the RAF's 90th birthday celebrations two years ago, where he was introduced to the Queen.

Today, he says his thoughts are with British servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said: ‘I know how difficult it is on the ground with Improvised Explosive Devices. The sense of the unknown must have a terrible effect on their morale.

‘You can't compare the two eras though. Back in my day we never had enough equipment. The finances were always a problem. There was never enough money for anything.

‘The trouble with the politicians was that they wanted the Forces to do too much with not enough people.

‘What really impresses me nowadays is the computerisation. The mind boggles.

‘When I was a navigator, we had to work out our courses laboriously. Now you just press a button.’

In his tenth decade, Mr Blair - who had four children with his late wife, Vera, and has ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren - shows no sign of slowing down.

He regularly tours the country giving PowerPoint presentations to schools and veteran's associations on his wartime experiences.

He said: ‘I can't leap into a Spitfire with careless abandon as I used to in my younger days. But I do enjoy sitting in flight simulators.

‘I have always been interested in flying. My first flight was when I was ten. I paid three shillings to go up with my hero, pilot Sir Alan Cobham.

‘And at Sir Alan Cobham's flying circus I met WE Johns, who wrote the Biggles books.

‘Were the books true to life? Not really. Well, perhaps to some degree.’

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Looking for Spitfire/Typhoon veteran pilot Eric FTS Cooke RCAF

Looking for Spitfire/Typhoon veteran pilot Eric FTS Cooke RCAF of King City, Ontario, Canada

Greetings to all in cyberworld.

A gentleman wrote to me from England who was in Royal Air Force in World War 2 and is looking for a good friend of his who was in The Royal Canadian Air Force. This veteran has a letter dating back to 1987 ..he was 60 years old that year. Eric Cooke is from KING CITY, Ontario...Eric Cooke served in the RCAF During the war. They were very good friends and they joined the service together...I was RAF. We met up in London during the war, 1944, 1945. Eric Cooke flew spitfires and Typhoons in Europe.....we met again in cambridge England, both were married by this time......I did speak with him by phone once...but no contact since...his wife BERNICE....children I know not.... Eric Cooke worked for the local government E.M.O. for 12 years.....I am 83 years of age and would like to hear again of my very good friend Eric Cooke.

If anyone in cyberworld has ever heard of Mr. Eric Cooke or knows where we can find him, be friends or family, can you please let us know. This gentleman looking for his good friend is Mr. Ray wade who was in the Royal Air Force Navigation school during the war.

Any news what so ever would be truly appreciated for this World War 2 British RAF veteran. If ever, i can help two veterans meet again after all these years will be an honour and a very gratifying experience for me because our veterans need all the recognition they deserve.

Thank you to you Mr.Wade and to Mr.Cooke.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Great World War 2 movie,The Battle of Britain 1969

A Great World War 2 movie, The Battle of Britain 1969

Hello to all!

I dont know, if you are like myself but i do like to watch once in a while World War 2 movies, especially the ones that are more historically accurate. The 1969 movie, The Battle of Britain, i think is one of those great World War 2 classics! The reason that i wanted to write about this movie classic, that i am posting today on my blog is to try to help people understand and know what World War 2 history was like! I want to continue to help the world as best as i can about World War 2 history and also of it's consequences, this is the reason, i have created my blog about the Royal Canadian Air Force, The Royal Air Force and all of the other Air Forces of World War 2 and of our soldiers and seamen. I would like people to know what their fathers and Grandfathers accomplished during the war and of all their courage in the air, at sea and on the ground, so we do not forget their sacrifice!

There are other great World War 2 movies, i could write about such as Dark Blue World and Nine O'Clock high. but today, i will talk about this great classic, The Battle of Britain! With a string of career actors such as Christopher Plummer (Canadian fighter pilot), many Canadian fighter pilots flew for the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Michael Caine (as squadron leader Canfield) , Trevor Howard (Air Marshall Keith Park), Laurence Oliver whom by the way gives an extraordianary role as (Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding) and Robert Shaw ( as an unnamed Squadron Leader, referred to as "Skipper") The actors who play German pilots and personel also play a very good role! We must not forget the very good Polish and Checkoslovakia pilots who flew for the RAF during the Battle of Britain.You will get to see the determination of the German Luftwaffe for the control of the skies over The English Channel and Britain. The movie is directed by Guy Hamilton. This movie is a great Historical reenactment of the air war in the early days of World War Two for control of the skies over Britain in the summer and fall of 1940 as the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force determine whether or not an invasion of Britain can take place.

It is in the month of August 1940, Adolf Hitler is planning to bomb England into submission to his dreams of a 'Fortress Europe'. Standing between Britain's freedom and Hitler's terrifying plans is the R.A.F - dedicated RAF and Commonwealth including Canadian pilots who took to the skies again & again in the face of overwhelming odds. The German Luftwaffe's planes outnumber the R.A.F's by more than 2 to 1 - 650 planes of the R.A.F. vs. 2,500 of the Luftwaffe! These odds. however, do not deplete the determination of the R.A.F. to stop Hitler, and as the Luftwaffe launches wave after wave of Heinkel 111 bombers against British cities, the R.A.F. responds, under the leadership of Air Vice Marshal Park and Squadron Leaders Canfield and Harvey who lead the newest pilots of the R.A.F. into confrontation after confrontation with the Luftwaffe's experienced veterans, with the aim of driving Hitler's forces away from Dover's white cliffs for good...and back to occupied France.

This movie is very accurate and if you want to have a good history lesson with great actors, this movie will remind you of all of the great sacrifice our veterans have done for us so we can be free today!  This movie is highly accurate and one of the reason being is that while filming the movie, many veterans such as Douglas Bader (RAF), Adolf Gallant(Luftwaffe) and other veterans of the Commonwealth and Luftwaffe were consultants for the movie. This was done so because it was important that the movie be done of the greatest  accuracy! I have included three of the DVD covers so if ever you want to buy or rent the movie, you will recognise the DVD or Blue Ray cover.  I hope you will enjoy this movie as much as i did and let's all take a moment to thank a veteran when we see one! We owe our veterans all of our freedom for if ever Britain fell to Germany, the war most likely would have been lost by the Allies for we would have lost the only soil that we had as a footstep to Europe! Don't forget D-Day was launched from Britain on it's southern coast to invade France and to help free Europe.

Let's not forget to thank all of our veterans past and present when we meet one!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Canada and the world we love!

Canada and the world we love!

Hello to eveyone in cyberworld. Welcome to the year 2010. I wish you health, peace, hope and happiness. If you are living in the western world, chances are that you are doing fairly well? I sure hope so! Like i said in my previous blog, 2009 has been a tough year and many people have lost their jobs and because of this, hardship follows for a while? Here in Canada, times can be tough sometimes for us but we can always have help from many private or governmental organisations. We, Canadians are known to be tough and how to get out of hardships, this is what makes us strong and united!

In the wake of the massive earthquake in Haiti, my heart goes out to the people of this little island in the Caribbean ocean. I do not want to mention all of what they are going through. All you need to do is open your television and we are bombarded with all the information that we need to know! There is so much suffering and death that the images we see on CNN and all the other news medias are reminiscent of a horrible war scene. In Haiti, this is not war, it is famine on an unimaginable scale, misery and grief. We should be all so greatful not to be living under those horrific circumstances. So sad!

Today, while watching the news, i have heard that our first Canadian military personal have arrived in Port au Prince to bring relief to these wonderful Haitian people. Canada doesen't like to abandon people in need and this is reminiscent of our history! In any time of need, our people are there! Soldiers, policemen, firemen, engineers, doctors and so on! We are not there to conquor but to help. We are there to help and once it is time to leave, if the goverment in place asks us to stay, we will stay to continue helping the people in need of that country! We help our fellow human beings! I hope that what ever can be done by yourselves, finacially or in any other way, please do so, we can all help, even by givin the Haitian people a little prayer from the heart, because somehow we can be of help to this people in need!

During two World Wars, the Korean war, the United Nations peace missions, Canadians have givin their lives and their youths because we have stood on guard for thee and we still do so today in Afghanistan and other places in the world! This is why, i am proud of my country! Canada is not perfect but we are all human beings and as long as our Canadian hearts stand on guard for thee, this will always make me proud to be a Canadian and am i proud of our past and present accomplishmets to our country and the world!

Please, help the people in need of Haiti. What ever little deed is done, their prayers will be answered!

Here a few reliable links, where donations can be made to help the people of Haiti

Thank you!