How to Search this Blog?

Updated 30 November 2021

Use the search button on the right side to look for someone’s name among more than 800 posts I have written about RCAF 403 Squadron. 

 

After you can either use the comment section or the contact form below to share stories and photos.

 

In France, it’s called le devoir de mémoire – Update

Updated with Donald John Shapter’s record of service file at the end.

Bonjour

Je suis à la recherche d’informations au sujet du pilote : Donald John Shapter, J/35505, 403e Escadron de l’ARC (code KH). Mort le 14 juillet 1944 sur la commune de Saint-Lambert dans le Calvados, Normandie, France.

Je fleuris régulièrement sa tombe dans le petit cimetière de St-Lambert, mon devoir de mémoire.

Voilà je vous remercie d’avance.

Cordialement Jacques

Translation

Hello,

I am looking for information about a pilot: Donald John Shapter, J/35505,403 RCAF Squadron (code KH). He died on 14 July 1944 in the commune of Saint-Lambert in Calvados, Normandy, France.

I regularly place flowers on his grave in the small cemetery of St-Lambert, this is my duty to remember.

I thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely

Jacques

Many people in France still remember the Fallen. A lady in France is doing the same with Leclare Walker.

IMG_3673

Ronny Bosmann does the same in the Netherlands remembering Admiral Byrd.

P1070634

These are two pictures of Donald John Shapter, J/35505. First when he was not still a commissioned officer.

44486_83024005550_0584-00018

44486_83024005550_0584-00016

Donald John Shapter, J/35505 earned his wings at No.6 SFTS Dunnville.

Donald Shapter is remembered on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

In memory of
Flying Officer
Donald John Shapter
July 14, 1944

Military Service:

Service Number: J/35505
Age: 24
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 403 Sqdn.

Additional Information:

Son of the Revd. Charles P. Shapter and Margaret M. Shapter; husband of Elizabeth Jean Shapter, of Toronto, Ontario.

Commemorated on Page 440 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. Request a copy of this page.

Burial Information:

Cemetery: ST. LAMBERT CHURCHYARD ; Calvados, France
Grave Reference: N/A
Location: St. Lambert is a village and commune 20 miles (32 kilometres) south-west of Caen, 25 miles (40 kilometres) south-south-east of Bayeux, and 6 miles (9 kilometres) south-west of Thury-Elarcourt. This is a small town on the N.162 Caen to Flers road, 16 miles (26 kilometres) south-south-west of Caen. There is 1 Commonwealth burial of the 1939-1945 war here, in the north-west corner of the churchyard.

I guess Jacques will be sending me a picture of Donald Shapter grave.

Update 8 September 2022

Lest We Forget

28 March 1945

Today marks the 77th anniversary of one of Madoc’s wartime heroes’ passing. Mackenzie Reeves who was serving with 403 Squadron RCAF and was killed on March 28th, 1945.

Mac and 5 other airmen departed for a patrol over the Haltern Germany, Mac saw enemy transport. He and his wingman went in for a closer look and engaged the transport. Suddenly enemy flak opened up and the planes got split up. Mac’s wingman looked behind him and noticed Mac’s plane was going into a dive. Mac’s plane was hit and was not able to get out according to radio transmissions. Resulting in the plane crashing into nearby woods, and mac not making it out of his aircraft.

Mac was credited with 4 confirmed air kills and a 1/2 during his time with 403 Squadron RCAF. Mac in my opinion was considered a hero before going overseas, during his time at Uplands flying Harvards. He brought in 5 or more aircraft back to Uplands when planes were lost in a blizzard over the Ottawa skies. Mac who was familiar with the area, as he camped their many times recognized the terrain. The flying instructor credited Mac for his heroics before receiving his pilot wings in 1943.

Before the war, Mac ran a service garage in Madoc and Marmora in partnership with his mother Florence Reeves. My great uncle Joseph Kerby served with Mac in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment Militia during the 1930s, and later Joe support Mac’s squadron as aircrew with the 127 Wing Squadron RCAF. Joe wrote a birthday letter home to one of his dear sisters but mentioned he saw Mac the day before he was killed.

Mac is listed on his parents grave here in Madoc, one of the nicest headstones in Madoc.

Later this year, I will start my third documentary about Mac and bring his heroic story brought to life. I will remember !!

Brock Kerby

Stanley Ernest Messum – Correspondence 22 November 1942

Stanley Ernest Messum – Correspondence 22 November 1942

CORRESPONDENCE

We do not hold ourselves responsible for views expressed by
correspondents.

Tuesday, December 1st, 1942

Lloydminster

George Baynton, Esq.
Editor,
Lloydminster Times,

Dear George:

Yesterday a letter came to hand from Stan, mailed on November 1st, prior to the big push in Egypt, which gives an idea how some of the planes, etc., were delivered to our fighting forces to enable them to inflict so crushing a defeat on Gen. Rommel’s army; it was passed by the Censor, so it will be in order to publish these excerpts in the Times if you so desire.

Yours Sincerely,

H. C. Messum.


The Gold Coast, Africa,

November 22nd.

Dear Dad :

Never could I have guessed two years ago that today would find me writing from the Gold Coast of Africa but such is the case.

This new job is just as the names implies A.D.U. (Airplane Delivery Unit) not Ferry Command; it is not considered “operational flying”—’tho. many hundreds of miles are over impenetrable jungle and hot arid desert. I was sorry to leave the squadron—but here I am with the A.D.U.. We are situated in Cairo on Houseboats on the Nile, two to a cabin, very comfy beds, wash basins, hot and cold water, grand meals—native waiters; what a change from the desert front? I was there two days, then on my way across Africa to this place from where we fly Kites back to the Middle East by the long route. Yes, the same kind of Kite as per squadron (Spitfires) —but a little about the trip across.

The first part was dreary as far as scenery was concerned—desert—miles of it. The vegetation gradually increased until, with the last thousand miles or so, the jungle really started. The last few hundred miles is very dense, scattered here and there with negro villages. At one airdrome I saw a negro loading baggage, at least 7 ft. 6 inches tall. I was a head taller than his hips. There were two tame gorillas there also. We ate pretty ritzy all the way in British Airways and Pan Am, except at Lagos where we ate at the R.A.F. Camp, and stayed in bamboo and grass huts. Four of us went to the town that night. An Australian and I were together. I would like to be able to just see and tell you all about it. Maybe I will yet, …….. (Stan does not entertain a very high opinion of the natives in Egypt.)

“The negro out here is his superior mentally and physically. The little chap here who looks after three of us does well, and he is honest. His fee is two bob a week each.

I bought an October issue of Life at an American Mess on the way. We arrived back (Cairo) yesterday after a good trip; no sooner here and trying to get a few things done, than orders come to be away west again tomorrow. Oh well, “keep busy” is a good motto. I’ll have the afternoon to myself anyway.

Yours as ever,
Stan.
Flt. Sergt. S. E. Messum,
R.C.A.F. with R.A.F.
M.E. Forces

Another Brock Kerby’s contribution – Looking for more heroes?

Windsor Man With Famous Wolf Fighter Squadron

Members of the Wolf Fighter Squadron are included in the above photograph with W.C. J. E Johnston (sic), D.S.O. and Bar, D.F.C. and Bar, of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, brown eyed, 27-year-old Englishman, who has just relinquished leader ship of the Canadian fighter wing to W.C. Hugh Godefroy, D.F.C., Toronto. Johnston has destroyed 25 German aircraft in combat over France, Belgium and Holland, a record for fighter pilets

Front row: F/O Joseph P. Lecoq, Montreal; P/O. Charles P. Thornton, Detroit; P/O John Allen Wilson, Hamilton, Ont.; Sgt. Stanley Barnes, Toronto (since reported missing). Toronto; F/O Stanley W. Matthews, Winnipeg; WO. 1 Clinton E. Rae, Moulinette, Ont, and Sgt. James R. MacKinnon, Winnipeg.

Second row:
F/O Livingston Foster, Grimsby, Ont; F/O Robert G. Middlemiss, Montreal; F/O James F. Lambert, Winnipeg; F/L Dean Dover, Mount Dennis, Toronto; S/L Frank (Bitsy) Grant, Brockville, Ont; W.C. J. E. Johnston (sic), D.S.0. and Bar, D.F.C. and Bar; F/L Noel J. Ogilvie, Ottawa; F/O Harry Dowding, Sarnia, Ont; F/O  J. D. Browne, Florham Park, New Jersey; P/O Paul K. Gray, Toronto.

Third row:

F/O Thomas A. Brannagan, Windsor, Ont; F/O John Hodgson, Calgary; F/L Arthur C. Coles, North Vancouver, BC; F/L Herbert J, Southwood once reported missing, Calgary; Sgt. Norman V. Chevers, Niagara Falls, Ont; F/O James Preston, St. Catharines, Ont; F/L David Goldberg, Hamilton, Ont; F/O Malcolm J. Gordon, Edmonton, Alta, and F/L Harry A. Pattinson, Hamilton, Ont.

 

You can visit this Website dedicated to heroes.

Another Brock Kerby’s contribution

GRAVE HOLLAND OCT 1944

Back Row: Mac Reeves, Davis Leslie, Steve Butte, Gilmartin, Fred Town, Mo Morrison, Van Sainsbury, Bob Greene, Dick Reeves, Red Thomson, Red Harvey

Centre Row: Reg Morris, Ron Forsythe, Doug Orr, Eep Wood, Jim Collier, Bob Shannon, Teg Tegerdine, Aitchison

Front : George Nadon, Tommy Tomlinson, Larry Wilcocks, Cec Brown, Walt Hill, Mac McLaren

 

Bottom of the ninth? – Redux

Updated 8 September 2022

This is what I wrote 9 years ago on this blog. It was the first time I had come across the name of Flying Officer R.C. Shannon. There is something new I have learned about him thank to Brock Kerby whose hero was this pilot.

ORIGINAL POST

Here are the last pictures sent by Greg.

Stew scoring…

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Stew is Stew Tosh.

Fred the body beautiful is at bat.

Fred Town at bat…

Collection Walter Neil Dove

He comes running home…

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Van taking a cut at the ball.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Van is taking a cut at the ball. That’s what Walter Dove wrote. I think Van swung and missed. But then maybe I am wrong. Anyway,  now you know who was on 3rd base.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

About Stew Tosh… We know little about him. Just this.

Uneventful patrols on the 4th were followed by more successes in the air the next day. The Wolves, on their third patrol, sighted fifteen Me.109s at 14,000 feet in the Arnhem area. S/L Wood destroyed two and shared a third with P/O R. C. Shannon, Wood’s victories contributing to the award of the D.F.C. which he received in December. Another was destroyed by F/O F. W. Thomson and a fifth by P/O M. Reeves. Finally F/L S. Tosh damaged one. The same squadron, likewise on its third patrol of the day, scored again on the 6th when two bomb-carrying Me.109s were encountered at 16,000 feet over Nijmegen. Wood shot down one of the enemy, the other making its escape. Many Me.262s were seen in the course of operations but they were not engaged.

That’s not much. Perhaps this on this site… 

S. Tosh, Almonte. This airman got his wings at Dunnville, Ontario on June 19, 1942.

FLYERS AWARDED WINGS

Dunnville, Ont., June 19, 1942 —(CP)—

Eight Ontario sergeants, all civil pilots before the war and former instructors at Canadian training schools, received their wings at No. 6 Service Flying Training school here today.

They were: E. Watson, J. M. D. Holden, R. D. Grogan, Toronto; P. H. Perdue, Oakville; R. H. Bennett, Brantford; H. L. Snider, Baden; V. B. Powers, London; F. S. McCarthy, Windsor.

Wings were presented by Wing-Cmdr V. H. Patriarchs, officer commanding the station.
Other Ontario graduates were: E. H. Edwards, W. T. Klersy, T. R. Martin, W. Smith, A. W. Smith, H. Taylor, J. A. Warren, all of Toronto; D. A. Armstrong, Trenton; G. W. Brown, S. A. Round, Sarnia; J. Clark, D. E. Smith, Woodstock; E. G. Duck, H. C. Spurgeon, Windsor; D. A. Hall, R. A. Neff, Ottawa; D. Hall, Willikens; E. S. Lavery, Listowel; A. V. Nightingale, Mount Forest; M. F. Pettibone, Lakeport; E. R. Proud, Edengrove; J. N. Parrish, Britton; W. Stirling, Niagara Falls; J. Shapter, Bracebridge; S. Tosh, Almonte; R. B. Trull, St. Thomas.

Stew Tosh was a rugby player in 1939.

Surprised?

That would explain the A on his sweatshirt.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

You can read all about it. The game ended in a near riot!

END OF THE ORIGINAL

TRANSCRIPTION

Close Call for Airman

German Bayonet Nearly Ends 

Montrealer’s Role of Farmer

F/O Robert C. Shannon Discovered 

In Falaise Swamp by Nazi Searcher

ROBERT CHAMION moved uneasily in the marshes. A German soldier followed the trail of broken reeds and suddenly came upon him. The 23-year-old “French laborer” of Falaise lay motionless on his back in the swamp. The German, ordered to root out slave-labor deserters near, this village in Normandy, looked him over and then he turned away, leaving him breathing hard on the wet ground. 

One shove of the bayonet and that might have been the end of everything. But Robert Chamion was left in the bog. The German soldier joined his unit, and the group continued their search elsewhere. 

It was not until Robert Chamion met advance units of Allied armies two weeks later that he returned his identification card to Falaise authorities, gave his soiled trousers back to a French farmer and again. put on the blue uniform of the R.C.A.F.

From here on, he was Flying Officer Robert C. Shannon, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Shannon, of 343 Clarke Avenue, Westmount. 

Spitfire Riddled

It was June 29, 1944, and the Spitfire he was piloting was riddled by German aircraft over Normandy. Shannon bailed out, landed on a stretch of French farmland near Falaise.

The Falaise countryside was dark, and there were German patrols lurking around. Shannon had heard that if an airman could conceal himself for two hours after landing, he’d be safe — maybe. The Nazi patrol knew he had jumped. They searched the bushes for two hours, then gave up.

Robert C. Shannon

The tap Shannon got on his shoulders as he made his way toward a farmhouse and started things off right. It was a French farmer who knows the ropes — and the Germans — for what they were. 

There were cows and chickens on the farm and plenty to eat and in a back room there were clothes of various sizes. Shannon had no idea of being a farm laborer when he quit studying engineering at McGill University to join the in February, 1942, but that’s what he became that June night of last year.

The next morning he became a native of Falaise, and he had a municipally-approved identification card to prove it. Robert Chamion was not so very different from Robert Shannon. The parents’ names had to be invented, but that wasn’t hard. 

Shannon was 21, but Chamion was 23 because at the time Nazis were not calling 25-year-olds for compulsory labor on the German home front. 

But there was just one thing wrong. He had a uniform that he couldn’t hide. And, he didn’t want to destroy it because it would mean being shot as a spy if he ever had to make a dash across enemy lines in civilian clothes.

A group of burly Nazis, searching the French homestead, found the uniforms of both Shannon and the paratrooper, Shannon remembers the Nazis running out into the fields calling to their men: Englanders! Englanders!”

Shannon was simply posted as missing for June 29 to August 29. When given his freedom, he rejoined his Spitfire squadron, and took part in enough sorties to complete 200 flying hours against the enemy. 

Now he’s back In Montreal again.

Stanley Ernest Messum – The Takoradi Route

Note

This is what I posted on one of my blogs about WWII in 2019.

https://raf238squadron.wordpress.com/2019/05/17/notes-of-takoradi-route/

I knew nothing about the Takoradi Route, but I got curious to learn more. Little did I know Stanley Messum would be flying the Takoradi Route.

What I posted…

On May 17, 1942, Michael Gibson leaves Takoradi for Egypt, a trip lasting until May 25th aboard a C-53 Skytrooper.

2212931.jpg

Source Internet

26 April 1942

Source

http://www.sixtant.net/2011/

The Takoradi Route

TAKORADI

When finally embracing the allied cause, Brazil would then give a decisive contribution to the war effort with the cession of several naval and air bases along its lengthwise coast. This fact had overwhelming importance. The military complex erected in Natal, with the largest airbase ever built outside USA, served as a springboard to launch thousands of airplanes across the South Atlantic bound for Africa, to Egypt through the legendary TAKORADI route, as far as Russia through Middle East and Iran and even to the Pacific theater across the jungle in India and Burma. When Task Force 3 began its operations in South Atlantic waters, on March 24th 1941, the bases for the establishment of US Navy in Brazil had already been set upon.

These well conceived blueprints were taken into effect after mutual agreements signed in 1940 and 1941. Back in November 1940, the US Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, drafted a contract with Pan American Airways, the major and pioneer of American aviation, through its airport corporation branch, to perform the studies aiming to built and enlarge 55 airports in South America, with special focus on those located in Brazilian coastline.

For that urgent task the chosen was the chief of United States Engineering Dept. ADP (Airport Development Program). Brazilian airports extended alongside its extensive 2000 mile coastline, ranging from the dense jungle in northern Amapa, bordering the coast eastward to Belem, Igarape Açu, and São Luis, across the northern deserted coast, to Fortaleza, and turning abruptly southwards at Natal to Recife, Maceio, Salvador, Caravelas, Vitoria and Santa Cruz 20 mile south of Rio de Janeiro.
Takoradi route began actually in US when American aircrafts were ferried across Caribbean, northern South America, South Atlantic narrows and Africa. The longest hop was the lonely and perilous flight across the South Atlantic from Natal in Northeastern Brazil, where USAAF built in 1942 the largest airbase outside US territory. Americans B- 25, B- 24, fighters as well as transports made their way to Takoradi, Gold Coast.

From that tiny point in Western Africa they leaped to the first staging post Lagos, 380 miles away. From Lagos Nigeria to Kano over dense jungle still in Nigeria 520 miles over equatorial forest. Between Kano and El Geneina already in Sudanese barren desert plains some 960 miles with refueling stops at Maiduguri in the heart of Africa, El Fasher, El Obeid, on the long way this time facing typical sandstorms of East Central Africa, until reaching Khartoum the Sudanese capital.

The journey proceeded this time along the majestic sinuous Nile river 520 miles through strategic refueling points at Sueir, and stretching out 560 long miles to Wadi Halfa, Luxor and finally after five days over the perilous jungle and thunderstorms of Equatorial Africa, barrens and desolate landscapes of the semi deserted southern Sudan, then came in sight, the greatness of the pyramids, the historical intriguing city of Cairo, the outpost of Middle East Command.

Takoradi route was one gigantic ferry flight operation in the WWII. More than 5000 aircrafts of several types were ferried across that route from 1940 to 1943. The British RAF, constituted a recovery team, a special skilled group of engineers and technicians to recover crashed aircraft along that route. Tractors and trailers specially designed were precious tools in the hands of those men. Many aircraft crashed in the desert due to running out of fuel or overdue but when they were spotted soon the rescue teams were despatched and soon the crewmembers and plane were saved.

Despite the state of any aircraft they were dismantled and sent back to the RAF maintenance service erected along the route. There the team worked hard to replace damaged parts and put the aircrafts ready to fly again. For those severely damaged, the useful parts were salvaged for re use. The Royal Air Force was in so severe shortage of supply parts that engineers were able to build a new one aircraft from the remains of 2 or 3 others. A truly arise from ashes were in progress.

 

Hurricane_Sudan_1942[1]

A truck loaded with one Hurricane arrives at the base. There the maintenance will rebuild the same and put it back to fly to Egypt.

 

Blenheim_Mk__I_crashed_in_desert[1]

 

A crashed twin engined Blenheim awaits the recovery team. Soon it will be one new aircraft ready to go to the war front.

 

 

TAKORADI HARBOR

 

View of the port of Takoradi. From there hundreds of ships were loaded with vital raw materiel bound for allied ports.

 

RAF 1

 

Several RAF aircrafts seen in one convoy marching to Cairo where they will be assembled and despatched to the combat area. Some of them were involved in accidents and damaged during the long journey. The British teams worked hard to restore them all.

 

RAF

One RAF aircraft is seen being uncrated at Takoradi. Roughly 6,000 airplanes flew across the desert to Cairo their final destination.

 

TAKORADII

Picture shows Takoradi aerodrome where thousands of British planes gathered to undertake the long journey across the Central Africa toward to their bases in Egypt.

A Royal Air Force advanced party of twenty-four officers and men arrived at Takoradi on 14th July 1940. It was led by Group Captain H. K. Thorold, who, after his recent experiences as Maintenance Officer-in-Chief to the British Air Force in France, was unlikely to be dismayed by any difficulties in Africa. Thorold rapidly confirmed the selection of Takoradi, then set his little band to work on organizing such necessary facilities as roads, gantries, hangars, workshops, storehouses, offices and living accommodation. This activity was not confined to the port. Thorold was also charged with turning the primitive landing-grounds into efficient staging posts and perfecting wireless communication along the whole route.

It was certainly a route over which the wireless would come in useful. The first stage, 378 miles of humid heat diversified by sudden squalls, followed the palm-fringed coast to Lagos, with a possible halt at Accra. Next came 525 miles over hill and jungle to an airfield of red dust outside Kano, after which 325 miles of scrub, broken be occasional groups of mud houses, would bring the aircraft to Maiduguri. A stretch of hostile French territory some 650 miles wide, consisting largely of sand, marsh, scrub and rocks, would then beguile the pilot’s interest until he reached El Geneina, in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Here, refreshed with the knowledge that he had covered nearly half of his journey, he would contemplate with more equanimity the 200 miles of mountain and burning sky which lay between him and El Fasher.

A brief refuelling halt, with giant cacti providing a pleasing variety in the vegetation, and in another 560 miles the wearied airman might brave the disapproving glances of immaculate figures in khaki and luxuriate for a few hours in the comforts of Khartoum. Thence, with a halt at Wadi Haifa, where orange trees and green gardens contrast strangely with the desert, and a house built by Gordon and used by Kitchener shelters the passing traveller, he had only to fly down the Nile a thousand miles to Abu Sueir. When he got there his airmanship would be doubtless be all the better for the flight. No so, however, his aircraft.

The main Royal Air Force party of some 350 officers and men, including 25 ferry-pilots, joined Group Captain Thorold at Takoradi on 24th August. Small maintenance parties were sent out to the staging posts, B.O.A.C. navigators were enrolled for the initial flights, and B.O.A.C. aircraft were chartered to return the ferry-pilots from Abu Sueir. It was also laid down as a general principle that single-seat fighters should be led by a multi-engine aircraft with a full crew. With these preliminaries arranged, the first consignment of crated aircraft—Six Blenheim IV’s and six Hurricanes—docked at Takoradi on 5th September.

It was followed the next day by thirty Hurricanes on the carrier Argus. These were complete except for their main-planes and long-range tanks. No time was lost. The Port Detachment of Thorold’s unit quickly unloaded the aircraft and transported them to the airfield. There the Aircraft Assembly Unit took over, exercising much ingenuity to make up for the unexpected absence of various items, including the humble but essential split-pin. Last-minute difficulties like the collapse of the main runway on 18th September were rapidly overcome by hard work, and on 19th September the first convoy—one Blenheim and six Hurricanes—stood ready on the tarmac for the flight to Egypt.

By now French Equatorial Africa had joined de Gaulle, and that pilots had the consolation of knowing that they would be flying all the way over territory which was diplomatically well disposed, if unfriendly in other respects. The Blenheim roared down the runway, climbed and circled, to be joined in a few moment by its six charges. Seven days later, on 26th September, one Blenheim and five Hurricanes reached Abu Sueir.

With the Troops Overseas

This article was in the scrapbook that Stan’s brother’s wife had kept all those years. Her nephew-in-law Charles sent me the whole scrapbook.

I don’t intend to use it all although it’s like a time machine.

This is one article which is interesting. We know Stanley Ernest Messum was stationed in Malta. He is now going to Egypt.

 

With the Troops
Overseas
FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

Mr. Geo. Baynton,
Editor, The Lloydminster Times,

Dear George,
Here is another letter which we received from Stan and contains considerable information that may be of interest to his friends and others. It has been passed by the censors.
Sincerely,
H. C. MESSUM.

Hello Dad, Mom, Roy, Alec, Jack. This is just “yours truly” calling from some tiny little spot in the Egyptian desert.

True, this has always been the month for camping back home—by a good little lake, trees, plenty to eat and drink, dances, shows (cars, girls—they go best together, of course), midnite dips in the moonlite—the whole gang, the good old gang!

Well, I’m in a tent—12 x 16 ft., about five of us. I say about five because sometimes there are six and sometimes three or four, depending on whether a couple are away. At present we sleep plunk on the floor—two blankets, Irvin jacket for a pillow. It doesn’t get too cold. The only drawback is the dust-like sand which coats everything. Then again one may wake up with a scorpion on one’s leg or arm. Just so long as he doesn’t sting, O.K. I can think of nicer bed companions. Let me try to explain this dust.

Picture a day at home in winter when a mild blizzard is the order for the day. Fine snow constantly blowing in clouds over the surface—just enough to make you duck your head and blink your eyes. Now imagine that wind to be not quite so strong (a fairish breeze), the temperature about 100-110 degrees and the snow a very fine sand—as fine as dust. You should have a fair picture of the desert—mile after mile just sand—with blowing sand—a clear, blazing hot sky. In the morning before ten or eleven there is a cool breeze with no blowing sand—really very nice. We still have the same kind of kites (Spitfires), thank gosh.

In England we did sweeps over France. Here we do sweeps over the enemy lines as they change, and quite a way back of the lines as well, depending on the job. But for obvious reasons I can’t say too much about that. It really is something to look down though and see the tanks scrapping away, various, ones burning—shell fire, troops moving like ants. Yes, there is a war here!

But I must tell you about leaving Malta. The first nite three of us loaded as much as we were allowed into the Wimpy (Wellington Bomber), and climbed aboard. We were just starting up the engines when we were signalled to stay put, as an air raid started. First, Gerry dropped some lovely flares over the drome which lit the place up quite well. We climbed out, we (the passengers and the crew of five and half a dozen times we figured we were sure gonners. We would hear the plane dive—almost see it—then the whistle of the bombs. We would run and flop face down wait for the explosion. Needless to say we didn’t get away that nite. The
next nite we left quite late. Tried to sleep but we were too cramped. In the morning we gazed down upon the Nile, the Suez Canal. We landed at quite a nice airdrome and had a good, meal. That same day we went via transport to another camp, on the southern edge of Great Bitter Lake. Boy, but it was grand to be able to buy chocolate bars, soft drinks, canned beer (ice cold) Canadian beer, have real fine meals. We really made pigs of ourselves after having practically lived on next to nothing in Malta. We didn’t swim in the lake cause of the huge jelly fish which can really sting. Saw an “Andy Hardy” show there. We were only there two days. We went via transport to a pool near Cairo. That was where I met quite a number of fellows from 416 Squadron (in Scotland). They have been out here for a heck of a while and have done very little flying. You bet I visited Cairo—the next nite. It’s quite a nice city—just partial black-out while we were there. The people on the street selling goods is amazing. You really have to tell some of them to “go to heck” in no uncertain terms, considering the way they tag on to you.

We visited a very good club, The New Zealand Club. Had a good dinner—scrambled eggs on toast, carrots, mashed potatoes and chicken and tea—all for ten ackera (peastres) about 50 cents, and then at the milk bar we enjoyed two or three milk shakes, fruit sundaes and ice cream. Boy, it was grand to be able to get such eats for the first time since leaving home.

The next day we came on to the squadron via “Bombay”—quite a large aircraft. You bet! Here we are away out on the desert. What fun!

Well, Dad, the sooner you get this the sooner I’ll hear from you. Boy, do I want to get a few lines from home. Love to all from the Canadian Arab.
Your son,

STAN.

 

 

 

 

Coming soon in 2022

Somewhere in England — Members of Britain’s air-sea rescue service spell service with a capital, and rightly so, according to Flt. Sgt. S. E. Messum, of Lloydminster, Sask. Less than 20 minutes after he parachuted into the English Channel he was picked up and on his way to shore in a rescue boat.

So rapid was the service that his squadron headquarters received the report about him being picked up before they knew he had been shot down. The report was received be fore the rest of the squadron had re turned to base.

Messum was attacked over the French coast by a Foche-Wulf 190. Fire from the FW caused Messum’s engine to vibrate badly, his fore-and aft trim was practically gone, all the controls were sluggish and his legs were soaked in gasoline.

The Canadian headed for home and his engine cut out at 4,000 feet and within sight of the English coast. Messum was able to bale out at 2.000 feet, but not until he had thrown his aircraft into a half-roll to throw him self clear.—Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.

 

Dinghy Saves Life of Local Airman in Channel

His presence of mind in bringing, his rubber dinghy with him when he bailed out of his Spitfire Fighter saved the life of Flight Sergt, Stan Messum son of Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Messum. when he was shot down over the English Channel sometime around the 17th of April.

We recorded briefly in our last issue that “Stan” had suffered minor injuries while on active operations and that he was going back to duty after a leave of seven days. It now appears that “stan”, as he is popularly known, was returning from an escort assignment when he was shot down from a great height somewhere over the English channel, forcing him to abandon his plane. Bailing out with the use of his parachute, he had the presence of mind to pick up his collapsible rubber dinghy and apparently inflate it on the way down, for the story, as heard over the radio on Saturday evening last, stated that he Ianded with his dinghy in the Channel and was later picked up by a boat. When asked by his rescuer how he was it is reported that Stan replied. “OH, I’m all right.”

These dinghies, we understand, are small rubber boats capable of sustaining a man on top of the water for some considerable time and are also fitted up with emergency rations and hand paddles.

Several local citizens heard the report of his experiences over the “Wings Abroad” programme originating in London, England, and rebroadcast over the CBC every Saturday evening at 9:15 p.m. It was unfortunate that his father was busy in the store at the time and unable to hear the broadcast, however, several citizens immediately phoned him the account.

There is no doubt that the possession of the rubber dinghy saved Stan’s life, and quite probably, a dinghy made from the scrap rubber around your home may yet be the means of saving the life of another local boy. It was co-incident that his grandfather, the late Mr. Eli Pallot, was buried on the same day.