Kittyhawk lovers – Update

A comment about a post…

The 403 squadron site is a work of love, and respect. Well done. They were truly great guys ! I’m a major fan of the Curtiss p-40 Kittyhawk. I quite by accident came across this site while doing research on Umnak, Island, Alaska. There I found an image of pranged Kittyhawk from RCAF 118 Squadron AK 857 I.D. ‘H’. that took place on 1/September/42. My dad served with the 111 (F) Squadron Thunderbirds.

Dad was stationed  at Elmendorf, AFB, and he and one of his buddies were sent down to Annette Island to repair ( I believe) this Kittyhawk. Just curious, would anyone have further info on the above mentioned hawk. ie: who was the pilot ? what was the cause of the prang ?

Once again, nice site and thank you in advance.


Here is the original post…

Any comments?

Alaska Kittyhawk 3 Kittyhawk with pilot 2 Kittyhawk with pilot 1 Kittyhawk 2 Kittyhawk-001 Kitty Hawk (sic) landing Alaska Kitty Hawk cash landing Alaska

About Wings Abroad – and John Le May


Wings Abroad was a newsletter produced for the members of the RCAF Overseas (England). Most issues cover the period late 1940, year 1941 and a few for the early part of 1942. The squadrons shown are the 400, the 401 and the 402.

These provide an excellent insight to squadron life during this early part of the war through excellent articles and photos.  The time spent reading them will, I feel, be well worth your while.
Our collection of some 25 issues is courtesy 403 Squadron and in particular Pierre Lagacé and John Le May, both of whom desire a BIG Atta Boy for all their hard work in preparing these documents.

Click here


403 Squadron’s Captured BMW Sports Car – Identified?

Final answer…

A comment from Paul

The car on the left is a 327/28 80hp that came with “knockoff” wheels from the factory. I have a 1939. The Priller vehicle pictured is a BMW 327 55hp model with spun metal hubcaps. It also has the single blade bumper. The 327/28 has what is left of a less elegant bumper. The 327/28 also has fender mounted signal lights and semaphores, while Priller’s has the semaphores that are recessed in the body panel before the doors.

RCAF No. 403 Squadron

Guest post from Mark White

403 Squadron’s Captured BMW Sports Car – Identified?

I posted this article and a picture of 403 Wolf Squadron’s “Captured Jerry Car” a few months ago.

Pips Priller 1

After doing some research, I think I may have identified this particular BMW.

It’s just a hunch – what do your readers think?

 Pips Priller 2

Oberstleutnant Josef “Pips” Priller with his Fw190A-8 ‘Black 13’.

His car is a red BMW 327/55 Sport-Cabriolet.

 Pips Priller

Josef “Pips” Priller(27 July 1915 – 20 May 1961) was a flamboyant World War II Luftwaffe fighter ace.

Priller flew 1307 combat missions to claim 101 victories. All his victories were recorded over the Western Front, and consisted of 11 USAAF heavy bombers, 68 Spitfires, 11 Hurricanes, 5 medium bombers, and 5 USAAF fighters.

Priller was the most successful Luftwaffe pilot in battles with Spitfires – claiming at least 68 kills – the highest Luftwaffe ace’s tally…

View original post 58 more words

The Power of the Internet – More than a Framed Print

Something I posted on this blog in 2014…

It was  about  a man called Robbie.

Mark White  wrote  it. 


Story written by Mark White who is contributing once more on this blog

My father George “Whitey” White was a Leading Aircraftsman, Airframe Mechanic, with RCAF 403 Squadron during the Second World War.

George White left

I’ve shared some of the pictures, stories and notes that I have about his “Crews” experiences during the war on this website. I’m fortunate to have some notes, a journal, some pictures and a few objects that I share freely with the readers here.


Many of the pictures have no caption and I have no idea who many of the men are. 

This is a picture of Robbie.

Robbie - Copy

The date and the location are unknown.                                                              

Robbie - Copy (12)


He is posing in this picture holding the case for my dad’s Kodak camera.

 Robbie - Copy (11)

Robbie is second from the left. 

After the D Day landing, the men in my dad’s crew stayed pretty much together for the duration of the war. They always referred to their Crew as “Number One Crew”. They were the top ground crew that kept the Spitfires of their squadron operational during the European Campaign. They were “Number One Crew” because they could consistently change out Merlin engines in Spitfires, under field conditions, faster than the other RCAF ground crews in 127 Wing. 

They maintained and repaired the aircraft in terrible field conditions. Much of the time they worked outside. They lived in tents during all months of the year. They had few amenities, and they often worked and lived under the threat of enemy staffing, bombing and shelling attacks. 

They were a very resilient and self-reliant bunch of young men, with a close camaraderie with each other. They worked well as a team. The “Brass” had often tried to break them up and deploy the men to other crews, but in the end, they were left alone because they worked so well together. My dad had a little dog called Teddy. Teddy helped keep the Number One Crew sane during the war. The Crew successfully smuggled Teddy back to England at the end of the war. 

 Robbie - Copy (10)

 Some of  the Crew with a German 3 Wheeled truck.

Robbie is second from the left.                     

Robbie - Copy (9)

Some of the Crew working on the Auster. Ted Klapecki is on the front right and Robbie is front left. My dad’s camera case in the foreground on the workbench.   

They often developed their own repair techniques and they often built and fashioned their own tools from scavenged and abandoned German tools and parts. They liked and admired German tools. When food conditions were bad, they sometimes avoided going to the “Mess” altogether and resorted to scavenging food that they prepared for their own meals. They scavenged green apples in the countryside and bartered cigarettes with locals for eggs to supplement their rations. One fellow, Cliff, had a girlfriend in the Red Cross and she sent the boys some much welcomed hot chocolate during miserable winter conditions at Base 82 Grave, Netherlands during the winter of 1944.  Once or twice they even tried out abandoned German rations. They found them quite tasty compared to their official British rations of canned Bully Beef, hardtack and a spoonful of jam. 

 Robbie - Copy (8)

Robbie is always prominent in my dad’s pictures. Many pictures show him working very hard. They must have been good friends. Robbie is behind the wheel of the captured BMW Roadster.

 Robbie - Copy (7)

Robbie at work on a Spitfire

Robbie - Copy (6)

Robbie is on the far left – A captured German FW 190 Aircraft

They built their own stoves and fireplaces for warmth and cooking. They usually had some form of unofficial transportation. They usually had bicycles or motorcycles. Being mechanics, they would often scavenge derelict British Army motorcycles, repair them and use them for trips into the countryside and into towns and villages. They liked to collect and fire off discarded German Mausers, Walthers and Lugers. They kept notes and journals, they wrote letters and they took photographs. The “Brass” was always trying to confiscate their cameras. 

Their tents constantly leaked because of shrapnel holes from nearby exploding enemy munitions. They sometimes slept outdoors under Spitfire engine cowlings as their tents offered no protection from shrapnel and bullets. Some of the men slept with two “tin hats”, one covering the face and the other covering the crotch. 

our tent

Robbie and the rest of the Crew were friends with Buzz Beurling when 403 Squadron was based in England.

Peter Lecoq George Beurling Hodgson

Lecoq, Beurling, and Hodgson (collection Pierre Lecoq via Peter Lecoq)

Buzz would rather hang out with the Erks and work on his own Spitfire than hang out with the “Brass”. They listened to the pilots on the “Tannoy” as the Spitfires did sweeps into enemy territory  on the continent and they waited patiently for the aircraft to return. 

Unlike most visitors to Bergen – Belsen, Robbie went right into the camp. He went behind the fence. He had a camera and shot a roll of 20 pictures. He gave the film to my dad. He probably used my dad’s camera. I still have that camera. 

Flight Officer Donald K. Anderson, also of the 127 Wing, arrived at Bergen-Belsen at the end of April or early May 1945. He completed numerous sketches of Bergen-Belsen and its inmates. Anderson ultimately completed only one water colour of the camp, which is held by the Canadian War Museum.

This picture depicts members of 127 Wing handing out a truckload of relief supplies at the camp fence. 

Bergen Belsen


 How do I know this is Robbie? 

Robbie - Copy (4)

Robbie - Copy (3)


Only because he has his name painted on his air force issue leather Jerkin. The Crew decorated their Jerkins with aircraft paint. I still have my dad’s decorated Jerkin and it’s a beauty.

Thanks to this website, I also know Robbie wrote a beautiful poem honoring their Crew member and friend, Bob Medforth, who was killed on January 1, 1945 when German aircraft attacked their base in Evere Belgium. 

Robbie wrote this poem for Joyce, Bob Medforth’s widow. Bob Medforth’s niece found this poem in her mother’s things, and then posted it on this website. 

Here’s the poem that Robbie wrote for Joyce Medforth:

A Man

There are men who fly the trackless skies
Who rove the seven seas.
They win all fame and glory
While floating through the breeze

There’s men that hold the front lines fast
And for their country dying,
There’s unsung lads not far behind
Who keep the aircraft flying.

We too have come to fight for home
For Victory – Freedom – Peace
We do not look for glories, fame
But work that wars may cease.

Yes, Joyce, he gave his life for you
For me, his family, friends
For people in this darkened world
In every walk and trend.

He gave his all and asked for naught
A hero to us all
“Where’s Robert, where is Goose and George”
Of death he had no fear.

He thought not of himself but us

“Look after them”, he said

“I’m O.K. look after them”

And now our Bob is dead.

Dead? ah no – they never die,
He’s left this world tis true,
But there in heaven he reigns with god
Where skies are always blue.

An unsung hero here on earth
His rightful place he holds up there
He’s ranked up with the best of them
As in our hearts down here.

John Le May placed his collection and CD of his experiences during the Second World War on this website in February 2014. 

John Le May said that, “One of our members was a regular contributor to the “Wing Tips” newsletter “The Poet’s Corner”, and on the January 1st attack by the Luftwaffe, he wrote the following poem.” 

That man that wrote the poem was Robbie, a member of the “Number One Crew” and his name is Don Robb.   

Now thanks to John Le May, I now know that my dad’s war buddy’s name is Don Robb. 

Don Robb 1 jan 45

Memories of a ‘Not So Happy’ New Year’s Day

Who of us will ever forget

That memorable New Year’s Day

The ominous hum as bullets spun

And pierced the hidings where we lay?


It all began so strangely

As round our drone they came

Across the sky we watched them fly

Then heard the shells & bullets rain.


‘Twas poor old Melsbroek got it first

Then altitude they quickly gained.

Around they spun for they weren’t done,

No longer was their target feigned.

Across they came the first attack

In hordes, in droves, they strafed;

Our minds were rant while theirs hell bent

“to kill, to kill” they laughed


They laughed, they laughed, I know they did

For sitting ducks we were.

Some sixty they fell on their prey

And shot us up for fair.


They climbed & dove with chattering guns

We lay there stiff with fear

There in our lairs we said our prayers

On the first day of this year


Five spits of ours roared from the deck

And strove to drive them off

Shot down six Huns with blaring guns

Through odds extremely rough


One spit while scarcely off the deck

Before his wheels were up,

He got his Hun-but in the fun

Was shot down by a Nazi pup


The minutes dragged like hours,

And there were sure twenty five

The bullets spat while I lay flat

Well frightened, unhurt, alive.


Old lady luck had been with me

I’d thought my life was over,

A grimy mess, I must confess

As I gazed out through the door.


Yet some lady luck had not been

Bullets found them hiding there.

The fiendish hun had got our Bob

We lost a pal both fair and square. 


The New Year came in with a bang

As you can plainly see,

And you can bet we’ll ne’er forget

That gruesome day, that Nazi spree.


Don Robb, maintenance 127 wing

 Robbie - Copy (2)

Don Robb is one of the Boys in this picture.

Thank you John Le May for solving the mystery.


Mark White

February 2014

Donald Kenneth Anderson Official War Artist (1920-2009)

 Donald Kenneth Anderson Official War Artist (1920-2009)



In the early 1980s, Hugh Halliday, a former Curator of War Art at the Canadian War Museum, wrote an extensive account on Donald Anderson’s wartime career. It was based on research he uncovered following correspondence and conversations with the artist, whom he had recently located. The article was never published and exists in typewritten and hand-edited form in the Canadian War Museum’s (CWM) artist file for Anderson.1 The edits appear to be in response to Anderson’s own comments on the piece. This document forms the substance of this obituary for Canada’s last surviving Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) official Second World War artist.


Walter Neil Dove’s Training Days: Part Two

I had started posting in 2012 what Greg had sent me about his grandfather’s training days in the RCAF.

He had sent me lots of scans from his grandfather’s logbook and photo album.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

I said that more was forthcoming, but I must have been distracted somewhat and I forgot to post everything.

Since September 2011 this has been quite a long journey into the past of a young Canadian who enlisted early in the war. If I recall correctly Walter Neil Dove enlisted in December 1940.

I will have to ask Greg about it. 

This is the inside cover with a good luck charm on the upper left.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

This is page 2… very instructing!

Walter Neil Dove came home unscathed on the Queen Elizabeth in December 1945 and he had something to prove it.

Many young men were not on board like Arthur Horrell…


Walter Neil Dove had some pictures to record this event…

He had kept his precious logbook and all the pictures he took. His grandson Greg was generous enough to share all with me. I could have kept everything for himself but he did not.

This is how this blog started in September 2011 when I met Greg at his parents’ place.

I had told Greg I was going to take the time to check if everything he sent has been posted.

Wally, that was his nickname, was first stationed at No.1 Manning Depot in Toronto on July 11, 1941.

the gang at manning pool

Germany had invaded Russia two weeks before on June 22, 1941.

Walter Neil Dove stayed there until August 8, 1941. He was then stationed at No. 14 S.F.T.S. Aylmer from August 8 to September 1, 1941.

Aylmer airdrome

After Alymer, Wally was posted with No.5 I.T.S Belleville. Wally wrote the meaning of all the abreviations.

I.T.S stands for Initial Training School. This is where cadets were selected either to be pilots, navigators, or air gunners.

On October 27, 1941, Walter Dove was posted with No. 3 E.F.T.S. London, a flight training school.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Flight Instructor Chandler was the one teaching Walter Neil Dove how to fly.

J. H. Chandler, Flight Instructor circa 1941

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Maybe one day relatives of J. H. Chandler will find my blog and shared what they know.

Who knows?