FLAP

From John  Le  May’s  collection

FLAP SOUVENIR ISSUE was produced by members of the 39 RCAF (Recce) Wing in January of 1945.

 

Editor’s notes

Production of this CD is the result of a collaboration
The hard work….scanning…cataloguing…photography…caption editing etc.., -: John B. Le May – rcaf127@gmail.com

The fun stuff….HTML and multimedia programming: – Marcel Lemay – lemaymanufactur@gmail.com

Some material on this CD may be copyrighted and is not to be distributed commercially

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Don’t shoot!!

From John’s collection

 

Don't shoot

John added this.

The Russians were so drunk with “victory over Germany” that they could not tell the difference between German soldiers’ uniforms and ours. They used to be blue but after a while and after a year’s wear and tear and hardly any chance of taking it to the local cleaning establishment (don’t forget this was Europe..not China) it eventually became to look very much like Jerry’s uniforms. But for the inscription, I always thought it meant ” I am an Anglican, don’t shoot before you ask questions”

 

Editor’s notes

Production of this CD is the result of a collaboration
The hard work….scanning…cataloguing…photography…caption editing etc.., -: John B. Le May – rcaf127@gmail.com

The fun stuff….HTML and multimedia programming: – Marcel Lemay – lemaymanufactur@gmail.com

Some material on this CD may be copyrighted and is not to be distributed commercially

John Le May’s collection – Wings Abroad Volume 1 No. 2

John Le May has 25 more of those…

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

Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 1 Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 2 Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 3 Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 4 Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 5 Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 6 Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 7 Wings Abroad Volume 1 No 2 page 8

Who in the world might be interested in reading those?
Does it really matters?

image

2667791_1

Source

I guess it does…

Capture

Welcome  aboard  John.

 

Editor’s notes

Production of this CD is the result of a collaboration
The hard work….scanning…cataloguing…photography…caption editing etc.., -: John B. Le May – rcaf127@gmail.com

The fun stuff….HTML and multimedia programming: – Marcel Lemay – lemaymanufactur@gmail.com

Some material on this CD may be copyrighted and is not to be distributed commercially

Exclusive Pictures From Alaska Circa 1942 – Redux

Editor’s note…

Have you noticed something on one of these old pictures?

I just did!

***

More pictures from Lorne Weston’s collection with this message…

Hello again Pierre

Here are more Alaska pictures for you, all but one un-dated, with Dad’s notes, where possible.

Crack up
crack up
 
Kitty Hawk (sic) crash landing Alaska
Kitty Hawk cash landing Alaska
 
 
 
Bolingbrook (sic) landing Alaska
 
Bolingbrooke Landing in Alaska
seaplane base Alaska
 
Seaplane Base in Alaska
runway
 
Runway
 
Alaskan Airfield
Alaskan Airfield
(sign reads); 1 MILE
                  <———–
                  FATHER NESBITTS
                  BOYS TOWN
                  WELCOME
 
(back of picture); WING COM. NESBITT
                         SQAD. LEADER ASHMAN
                         PILOT OFFICER BULTON
                         AUG 1942 ALASKA
 
airborne on dawn patrol Alaska
airborne on dawn patrol Alaska
 
Kitty Hawk (sic) landing Alaska
Kitty Hawk (sic) landing Alaska
 
Back in the 1960s Dad told me that the “dawn patrol” picture, and others like it which I have, were taken from the Observer’s seat of a U.S.A.A.C. PB-Y Catalina, but I don’t know if they were taken at Ketchican, or Kodiak.
 
No caption…
 Kittyhawk with pilot

***

Alaska Kittyhawk 2

Setting the record straight… 
Alaska Kittyhawk 3

Who is Robbie?

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)

Robbie

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)

Robbie

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.
Robbie

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