Robert Wendell McNair

The only thing I plan on this blog is how I react to my readers’ comments.

I reacted to Buck McNair’s son’s comment yesterday who took the time to copy down all the pilots’ names engraved on the silver mug, and I looked for more information about his father.

Dad was Wing Commander Flying 126 RCAF Airfield in  ’43- ’44.  I hope this is an appropriate posting because he also flew with Red Indian Squadron 421, mentioned above.  Dad was presented with a fine engraved silver beer mug to celebrate him shooting down ” the hundreth Hun” for the squadron. The engraving is, under a fine depiction of the “Red Indian” chieftain, as follows:

To S/Ldr RW “Buck” McNair, DFC and Bar
Who destroyed the 100th Hun
For the Canadian Spit IX Wing
Sept 1943
“Cheers Actually”

He was presented later with a silver tray by 126 Wing, engraved by all the members alive at the time ( including my Godfather and Dad’s Best Man at his wedding).  I can’t find a utility to attach photos of the tray and mug but will try to do so later.

“Presented by 126 Wing RCAF Airfield
Wing Commander RW McNair
DSO DFC and Bars
Wing Commander Flying
October 1943-April 1944″

The pilots/ signatories on the tray are:
CP Wyman, J Hubbard, Gordon Lapp, Ewart Lindsey, RW Hogg, CW Fox, Len Harrison, GW Johnson, WR Tew, JS Hamilton, GB Murray, GA Bell, J
Nixon, RR Bouskill, J Sheppard, Ken Grant, DE Thorpe, JE McAllister,
JR Cronk, Tex Davenport, Bob Hayward, P Wallace, JA Shaw, JM
Bell-Irving, J Billing, TR Wheler, SJR Phillips, WT Klersy, WA Bishop,
DB Wurtele, Russ Or, SA Mills, AB Wheeler, DH Evans, RP Vatcher, T
Dowbigging, CD Cross, TW Love, W Bliss, WR Gibson, Art Booth, Monty
Berger, ML Anderson, D Laubman,  J Goldberg, RA Hayward, KLB Hodson, M Laureys, R Smith, —Marshall, H Garwood, DRC Jamieson, G Panchuk, LM
Cameron, S Berryman, Art Tooley, P Charron, DJ Dewar, RS Hyndman, WS
Johnson, NR Fowlow, G Keefer, HW Kramer, J Koch, WJ Ewens, AR
Hamilton, E Dillsul, B Needham, AF Holcourt (?), WF Guiens, Ross
Linquist, Bruce Whiteferd, Chuck Steele, HC Trainor, DD Ashleigh, HA
Heacock, WE Cummings, BH Cull, R. Stayner, Bob Hayward, Tex Davenport,
R Thitcher, WR McRae, JA Kerr.

There are a few Websites that pays homage to Robert Wendell McNair.

Here’s one.

Robert Wendell McNair

This one is most impressive.

This is an excerpt showing how great a man Buck McNair was.

Following the war Robert McNair stayed in the RCAF as they had a need for experienced senior officers. He returned to Canada to command of ?? In 1947 the French rewarded his wartime activities of liberating their country by awarding him the Croix de Guerre and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.

McNAIR, S/L Robert Wendell, DSO, DFC (21047) – Croix de Guerre avec Palm (France) – AFRO 485/47 dated 12 September 1947 and Canada Gazette dated 20 September 1947.

McNAIR, S/L Robert Wendell, DSO, DFC (21047) – Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (France) – AFRO 485/47 dated 12 September 1947 and Canada Gazette dated 20 September 1947.

McNair’s courage and bravery exhibited in WWII carried through to his civil service when in 1953, a North Star aircraft on which he was traveling as Senior Officer crashed at Sea Island, British Columbia. Although injured and soaked in gasoline, he managed to rescue and account for all passengers and crew members. The official commendation likely says it best.

McNAIR, Wing Commander Robert Wendall, DSO, DFC (21047) – Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct – Awarded as per Canada Gazette of 7 August 1954 and AFRO 448/54 dated 13 August 1954. NOTE: This was originally raised as a George Medal recommendation but downgraded inside NDHQ as it was deemed that McNair, being part of the crew, has a special responsibility with respect to passengers.

Wing Commander McNair was flying as a crew member in one of the crew rest positions of North Star 17503 when it crashed at Vancouver, British Columbia on 30 December 1953. The aircraft ended its crash landing run in an inverted position and as a result, all crew and passengers found themselves suspended in mid-aid in an upside down position. Self-preservation was uppermost in the minds of practically everyone because of the imminent danger of fire or explosion but Wing Commander McNair, cognizant of the large number of passengers being carried and the state of turmoil that must be existing, threw caution to the winds, remained in the aircraft and fought his way to the passenger compartment. Here, he set to work, restored calm and through prodigious effort assisted all passengers in evacuating the aircraft as quickly as possible. Still not content, Wing Commander McNair remained in the aircraft and personally searched through the debris on the off chance that someone might have been overlooked. Only then did he abandon the aircraft. It is to be remembered that this officer was soaked in gasoline at the time of this incident from an overturned Herman Nelson heater, a condition which would immediately bring to mind the fact that he had been badly burned by fire in his aircraft during the war and therefore should have been acutely aware of his precarious position under the present set of circumstances. The fact that the aircraft did not explode or did not take fire should not be allowed to detract in any way from the magnitude of Wing Commander McNair’s deeds, for it was only by an act of God that neither calamity occurred.

I don’t have to pay homage to Robert Wendell McNair, people have already done so. This blog has only one purpose. To reach out for relatives of those who served their country and let them share their loved one’s memories.

Robert Charles Medforth Lest We Forget


8 thoughts on “Robert Wendell McNair

  1. One of the signatories on the plate is Monty Berger.
    He was an intelligence officer with 126 Wing.
    He wrote an excellent book about the exploits of 126 Wing after D-Day.

    The book is called “Invasion Without Tears”. There is also some information about 403 Squadron in the book also.

    There was quite a bit of competition between 126 and 127 airfields during the war – both in the air and on the ground.

    I’ve got some pictures from my dad’s collection of baseball games between the two groups and a picture captioned “126 Wings Prize German Aircraft”, which is a plywood decoy aircraft!

    I’ll post them sometime.

    Here’s a link to Berger’s book:


  2. Hello Pierre /

    On behalf of my family I would like to thank you for your efforts in honoring the memories of all these men profiled on your pages who gave so much.

    I am replying here because I recognise and respect so many of the names on that list above for the simple reason that my father’s name is among them.

    S/L HC “Charlie” Trainor flew with 126 Wing in 411 and later as CO of 401 Ram squadron, until he bailed out a second time on Sept 19 during Operation Market-Garden and was taken prisoner.

    Thanks also to all who have contributed their stories and those wonderful pictures that you feature. I had the good fortune to meet some of these pilots as a youth at home on PEI and more just a few years ago in nearby Comox BC at a function surrounding the Y2K project.

    Wishing you all the best with your efforts here.

    For now / Jim Trainor

    • ARTHUR MACBEATH TOOLEY Arthur (Art) MacBeath Tooley passed away peacefully at his home in Winnipeg on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at the age of 91. Predeceased by his parents Herbert and Hannah, wife Helen Marjorie (née Maluish), brother; Jim, sisters; Beth Newton, Nancie Mauro and grandson Ben. He is survived by sons; Jock (Susan), Paul, Mark (Melanie), and Simon (Yves) in Montreal, and grandchildren; Charlotte (Glen), Adam (Christen) in Memphis, A.J., Meghan and great-grandchildren; Sarah, Shelby, Lindsay, Ben and Lulu. Art was born on October 3, 1920 in Winnipeg. He grew up on Balfour Street and attended Ravenscourt School and the University of Manitoba. At the age of 21, he joined the RCAF and served as a Spitfire pilot in England and France during the Second World War. Upon his return to Winnipeg in 1945 he married Helen and they started their family. He began his career as a chartered accountant and enjoyed much success in business until his retirement. Art had a long association with the Kiwanis Club of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Football Club where in 1992 he was inducted into the WFC Hall of Fame as a Builder. He was also on the board of Fort Whyte Alive and an active and committed supporter. Art was an avid downhill skier in his early years and an enthusiastic golfer in his later years. He enjoyed spending his summers at Victoria Beach with his family and later in life enjoyed his southern winter home in Ft. Lauderdale. The family sincerely thanks Lita Keith who was of great assistance to Art over the past few years.

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