Erks and the necktie story

I first  heard the word “erks” from George  Stewart’s mouth when  he phoned me in 2011. I  never thought  a Mosquito  pilot  would  have ever phoned  me.

I asked John last  Saturday  if he knew George Stewart.

He did not.

I  am sure  George  doesn’t  know  who is J. B. Le May also because I am  pretty  sure George doesn’t  read this blog, not even  my blog about  23 Squadron,  a night intruder  squadron  in the R.A.F., the squadron  he flew with in WWII.

It doesn’t  really matter because  I  just write  so people will  find  my blogs  about  their  father, grandfather, uncle, granduncle… just like Andrew Tood did a few years ago.

All this writing  about  people  I  knew  nothing  about  led me to meet virtually,  or in person,  wonderful  caring human  beings.

I  could  write  a book about  all these meetings, but I  am too busy writing  my blogs.

This  being  said, John B. told  me so many anecdotes  when  I  met  him that I  have enough  material  to fill a book. Luckily  he wrote  most everything  in his ebook.

Take  the  time  to  read it.


Now what about the necktie  story  I  told John  B.?

Robert Wendell McNair Update

This comment was made about this post…

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

About the post I wrote…

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 (sic), 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

Untold story

You won’t find this story anywhere in a book about Spitfire pilots who flew off H.M.S. Eagle during WWII.

Bruce McNair just wrote this after I posted my article about H.M.S. Eagle. It tells a lot about his father.

H.M.S. Eagle sinking

It has been said before but it is right to comment here that HMS Eagle brought a group of dedicated pilots to Malta that, with the unflagging support of maintenance crews, ground support and the Maltese civilians putting their shoulders to the grindstone, won the war in the Med. They knew the odds when they embarked on the Eagle.

Dad was very fond of Malta and continued to buy Maltese Sweepstakes tickets from the same guy he met during the seige, for decades after the war.

He paid a final visit to his old haunts the year before he died and was quite content he done so.

This is why I write this blog and let others share what memories they have.

Buck McNair

The talk around the barracks and the messes was all of volunteering for overseas. In mid-December given the opportunity to volunteer for service in the Near, Middle and Far East, all pilots submitted their names. At this time the situation on Malta was becoming grim. The tiny island was a major thorn-in-the-side of the Germans as it lay astride the resupply routes from Italy and Sicily to North Afica. Malta was the perfect location to stage interception raids on Axis ships trying to reinforce General Rommel in Cyrenaica. The Luftwaffe were committed to crushing the RAF and their means of living on Malta with the eventual aim of invading the island. The RAF brass wanted pilots with either experience or a proven ability to destroy the enemy. McNair, amongst others, was chosen to go to Malta. They were shipped out on a long-range Short Sutherland flying boat.

(Source of text and image)

Click here to visit the Webpage where more if found about Canadian Aces.

Bruce’s contribution

Bonjour Pierre, hello John,
Back home now. Checked logbook.  Dad has no entry for 9 May 1942. He flew a Spit he marked as ” 177″  from HMS Eagle to Malta on 18 May.  I  attach (in my techo-challenged way) a copy of my working copy of the relevant page for your records.  If you would like a scanned shot of the original page let me know; I just need to warm up my antique Canon scanner.


logbook page

Click on the image to zoom in.

I did not know Buck McNair flew off an aircraft carrier. I have to know more. And yes Bruce I would like a scanned image from your antique Canon if possible.

Meantime I will be reading Pat Murphy’s account of Spitfires taking off HMS Eagle.

Click here to read it.

Malta Spitfire on Wasp

Spitfires on USS Wasp

For your information

Bruce McNair added this comment after he sent this picture of his father with fellow pilots.

Dad Rod number 6 course


Glad you liked the photo.  Rod was a lanky 6’5″ and Dad a stocky 5’11”.  They were a good team.  In the photo, on the left front is Arthur Bishop, son of Billy.  Arthur is a bit of a legend himself.  You will see his signature on the silver tray a photograph of which I sent you.  I was in touch with Arthur up until he died.  He was a fiesty, undefeated fighter to the end.  On the far right, front, is Chuck Charlesworth, who remained friends with Dad and Rod after the conflict was over.

Four pilots are now positively identified.

443 pilots four identification

Dad Rod number 6 course close up

Rod Smith and Buck McNair

443 pilots Charlesworth's picture

Chuck Charlesworth

And now Arthur Bishop, the son of the legendary Billy Bishop.

Arthur Bishop

Arthur Bishop

If you have a comment or want to contact me, just fill out the form, or write a comment in the comment section.

I know why I was all excited yesterday

I know why I was all excited yesterday when Bruce McNair sent me this picture of his father with some new pilots.

I will tell you why I posted an article on the wrong blog. 

It was about the caption.

Dad Rod number 6 course

Front Row…

Look at then name at the end of the row.


I have been searching for that pilot whose picture was missing from Art Sager’s WWII memorabilia that I posted on my blog about RCAF 443 Squadron.

443 pilots Charlesworth

I recently posted this story on RCAF No. 443 about Paul Piché, a pilot who was killed on October 11, 1944. When I saw Charlesworth’s name in Bruce’s picture of his father, I jumped the gun and posted the No. 6 Course picture on that blog instead of this one.

Honest mistake…

Dad Rod number 6 course

Where did Buck McNair got his wings?

I knew where to look.

Robert Wendell McNair was born on May 15, 1919 in Springfield, Nova Scotia. He spent his boyhood in the Annapolis Valley and in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. His family had relocated there during the depression looking for work. He completed high school in North Battleford in 1937 with good marks. He went to work for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Natural Resources as a ground wireless (radio) operator.

Then the war started in September, 1939. He continued work for a while until it became clear that this was not to be a quick war. He enrolled in the RCAF in June 1940 and went through the usual training regimen, attending schools in Toronto (No.1 ITS), Windsor (No.7 EFTS) and Kingston (No.31 SFTS). He graduated as a pilot on March 24, 1941.


That group picture could have been taken at No. 31 S.F.T.S. Kingston, Ontario.

Dad Rod number 6 course

And this has to be Chuck Charlesworth at the end of the first row.

443 pilots Charlesworth identification

443 pilots Charlesworth's picture

Chuck Charlesworth

I know Chuck Charlesworth survived the war because his name is not listed on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and Art Sager would have written a note on this page.

443 pilots Charlesworth picture

I wonder how many pilots from No. 6 Course survived the war.

I know Rod Smith and Buck McNair did.

Dad Rod number 6 course close up

Rod Smith and Buck McNair

For more on Rob Smith, you can read what I posted on him and his brother Jerry.

If you have any comment or want to contact me, just fill out the form, or write a comment in the comment section.

Just a picture

I posted this on the wrong blog. I hope you will forgive me for this.

RCAF No. 443 Squadron


I was too excited and I posted this on the wrong blog!

Proceed with your reading anyway…

Bruce McNair just sent this.

Dad Rod number 6 course

With this personal message…

Hi Pierre,

I won’t tax you with mon francais fracturé here, so relax!  As you have been chatting about Rod and my Dad on your blog , I thought you might be i interested in this photo.  This was taken on graduation, Course Number 6.  They now knew how to fly!  The names are set out and I have blown up the relevant part, showing Rod on the left and Dad on the right.  It was all ahead of them- war, madness, scrambles, ramrods,  heart-ache and ultimately, victory.  Most didn’t make it to 1945.  Dad lived until 1971, Rod until 2002.



Just a picture?

Think again.

Dad Rod number 6 course close up

Click here to get redirected to my 403 blog.

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Buck McNair’s Sykes-Fairbairn “Commando” style dagger

Bruce sent me these pictures along with this message he had written in French.

I was wondering this morning who the hell was writing me about a Sykes-Fairbairn “Commando” style dagger.

Salut Pierre.

Je vous souhaite un bon semaine en préparant votre blog. C’est très intéressant et je suis content l’avoir trouvé.  J’attache quelques fotos d’un SF dagger/ poignard, porté  par mon père quant it etait dans le ciel en faisant ses affaires.

Ses amis d’escadron lui ont donné.   Je tentais prendre beaucoup de fois les fotos sans éclat mais sans succes.    Karsh, je suis pas, sans aucun doute.

Cet dagger est fabriqué dans le deuxième style, conçu par le maître soi-même.  On peu voir, au milieu des flueris  sur le lame, son nom “Buck McNair”.  C’est pas bons fotos mais s ‘agit question des réflections obstinés.

Peut-être vous pourriez améliorer les fotos un peu pour que vous les utiliser dans votre blog.  Si vous ne pourriez pas les ajuster  adéquatement, j’essayerai encore un fois.

SVP, soyez patient avec mon francais fracturé.  On parle  pas beaucoup de francais dans les montagnes à l’est de Chiang Mai.


Now I know why Bruce is an early bird. He wrote from mountains east of Chiang Mai.

Where the hell is Chiang Mai? I will have to Google this something.

Before I have one of those senior moments, here are Bruce’s pictures of his father’s dagger that was given to him by his fellow pilots, and that he took with him in the air.


Sykes-Fairbairn “Commando” style dagger



Sykes-Fairbairn “Commando” style dagger



Sykes-Fairbairn “Commando” style dagger

Bruce, I love your French!