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

Every picture in John Le May’s collection has its own story




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 –

The fun stuff….HTML and multimedia programming: – Marcel Lemay –

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

John Le May’s collection – Never seen before documents

Documents taken from the CD John LeMay sent me.

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 –

The fun stuff….HTML and multimedia programming: – Marcel Lemay –

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

WESTAWAY, F/O Horace William (C10734)

Who remembers Jimmy Westaway?

Flying Officer Westaway


This blog does so does Website where I found this information about Jimmy.

Wing Commander  Godwin’s name is mentioned only once in the despatch.

That’s how I found all about Jimmy Westaway.

WESTAWAY, F/O Horace William (C10734)

 – Mention in Despatches

– Station Gander

– Award effective 3 November 1944 as per Canada Gazette of that date and AFRO 2479/44 dated 17 November 1944.

Born 16 August 1898 in Plymouth, Devonshore. British-born and a First World War veteran of both the infantry and Royal Flying Corps, being commissioned as Temporary Second Lieutenant, on Probation (General List), 7 June 1917.

Graded as Flying Officer and confirmed in rank, 28 July 1917. Lieutenant in Royal Air Force, 1 April 1918. As Lieutenant, to Unemployed List, 29 April 1919. Granted short service commission as Flying Officer, 27 August 1920.

In Middle East after the war; Flying Officer H.W. Westaway, RAF, to Home Depot, 21 October 1924 on transfer to Home Establishment.

Placed in Class “A” Reserve, 27 August 1927.

Transferred to Class “C” Reserve, 19 May 1928.

Migrated to Canada in 1929 and joined the Ontario Provincial Air Service. Home in Simcoe, Ontario; enlisted in RCAF at North Bay, 27 March 1942, immediately commissioned as Flying Officer and posted to No.1 Manning Depot, Toronto.

To Conversion Training Squadron, Rockcliffe, 18 April 1942.

To No.1 BGS, Jarvis, 15 September 1942 where he was in charge of the Gunnery Flight (so described by G/C A.D. Bell-Irving who recommended him for promotion to Acting Flight Lieutenant, 9 March 1943).

To Eastern Air Command, 21 May 1943.

To Gander, Newfoundland, 13 June 1943.

To No.9 Release Centre, 6 March 1945.

Retired 19 March 1945.

Returned to Ontario Provincial Air Service.

Killed in a crash, 25 May 1948.

Travelling with Henry Crosswell (forest ranger) and William Taylor (mechanic) to repair a ranger’s boat that had run onto rocks. After examining it they determined what parts were needed and attempted to return to Parry Sound. Newspaper report said that they attempted to take off from Severn River but strong winds frustrated first try. “On their second attempt they did achieve lift-off, but the plane seemed to stop dead 20 feet above the water. The motor did not stop, but the left wing tipped and the machine swooped down. The plane cartwheeled and settled on the water upside down.”

Westaway drowned; the others escaped.

Credited with 16,000 hours flying.

This officer has faithfully and capably discharged his duties as a service pilot over a long period of time. His outstanding ability in the operation of aircraft on skiis and floats, often in localities far from base and under hazardous conditions, has been most praiseworthy. Many of these flights have resulted in the saving of civilian lives by making hospital treatment possible for serious cases. His cheerful willingness and untiring devotion to duty, under difficult circumstances, have brought high respect for himself and the service in a foreign area.

The above award began as a recommendation for an Air Force Cross, raised on 20 July 1944 by W/C M.P. Martyn. He was noted as having flown 7,000 hours (civil and military) of which 60 hours 20 minutes had been in previous six months. Text was as follows:

This officer has faithfully and capably discharged his duties as a service pilot over a period of many years, both in the RAF and the RCAF. His outstanding ability in the operation of aircraft on skiis and floats, often in localities far from base and under conditions of extreme hazard, has been most noteworthy and commendable. Many of these flights have definitely resulted in the saving of civilian lives, by making possible hospital treatment to cases of dangerous illness and for serious accidents. Flying Officer Westaway’s cheerful willingness to do his best, even under difficult circumstances, has made him a popular and a respected officer and has brought credit to the service in a foreign area.

This was highly recommended by the Base Commander on 20 July 1944, and by A/V/M Morfee (Eastern Air Command) on 23 July 1944. However, at an uncertain date, Air Commodoe H.L. Campbell (AFHQ) turned it into a Mention in Despatches.

WESTAWAY, F/O Horace William (C10734) – Air Force Cross – Station Gander – Award effective 1 December 1944 as per Canada Gazette of that date and AFRO 1/45 dated 5 January 1945. Award sent by registered mail 11 August 1945 when he was at Sault Ste.Marie.

One day in September 1944, a Harvard aircraft crashed approximately twelve miles from a Royal Canadian Air Force station in Newfoundland, injuring the two occupants. This officer, a rescue pilot at the station, took off in quickly deteriorating weather, when all other rescue aircraft had been recalled. He discovered the crashed aircraft after all other air search had failed and landed the rescue party on a small lake. To enable ground crew parties to be briefed, he returned to base in face of the most hazardous weather. The following morning, with no improvement in weather conditions, he returned to the scene of the crash and flew the two injured men to the hospital. His outstanding courage and skill in this rescue operation were undoubtedly responsible for saving the lives of the two men. The determination and devotion to duty displayed by Flying Officer Westaway are most praiseworthy.

The original recommendation was raised on 6 October 1944 by G/C H.B. Godwin, Station Gander. Westaway was noted as having flown 479 service hours, 69 in previous six months. Submission read:

On September 6th, 1944, at 1645 hours, Harvard NK2-3068 crashed approximately twelve miles from RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland. The occupants, P/O Leonard and LAC Smithers, suffered severe injuries. Flying Officer Westaway, rescue pilot at this station, took off in weather which was deteriorating quickly, when all other rescue aircraft had been recalled. He discovered the crashed aircraft after all other air search had failed and landed the rescue party on a small lake. To enable ground crew parties to be briefed, he returned to base in the face of the most hazardous weather. The following morning, with no improvement in weather conditions, he returned to the scene of the crash and flew the two injured men to hospital. His skill and courage undoubtedly resulted in the saving of the lives of the two men.

NOTE: The following entry from the ORB of Station Gander is worth quoting:

6 September 1944 – Harvards 3068 and 2897 were doing local flying and at 1930Z P/O Wenz, J24391, pilot of Harvard No.3899 returned over the station and reported Harvard 3068, piloted by F/O E.J. Leonard (J36211) has crashed. Also in No.3068 was ground crewman LAC Smithers, G.L. (R206266). At 2110Z F/O H.W. Westaway (C10734), rescue pilot, in Norseman 789, sighted the crashed aircraft approximately 2 1/2 miles northeast of Botts Lake, and approximately four files north of Gander Lake. One man could be seen walking about. F/O Westaway landed on Miller’s Pond and a ground party proceeded to the scene of the crash. F/O Leonard had a sprained ankle and LAC Smither a wound on the upper leg. Both suffered from bruises and shock. The following morning F/O Westaway made one of his famous small area landings in adverse weather condition and brought the injured men and rescue party back to the Station. Both occupants of the crashed plane were admitted to hospital.

The following appeared in The Gander (station newspaper), December 1944. The First World War material has not been substantiated.

The whole station congratulates F/O H.W. Westaway on his latest decoration – the Air Force Cross. According to KR (Air) this award is made “for exceptional valour or devotion to duty whilst flying though not in active operations against the enemy.”

Jimmy (figure out if you can how that name comes from the initials H.W.) had more than one crack at the Hun in World War I. 1916 found him in the muddy trenches of France, but his heart was with the RFC boys who flew overhead, The following year his dreams came true and he was in the perilous skies over France and Germany. His was an artillery spotting job. His final sortie in that war came near to being very final. His gunners got three Jerries before the ack-ack got him, and sent his plane spinning to the ground. In the explosion which followed Jimmy was hurled 40 feet. Someone in the infantry got the Military Medal for dragging him back to safety – out of range of enemy guns.

In World War II, if we consider as enemies disease, accident and the gremlins that cause crashes, F/O Westaway is still facing the enemy. And there’s certainly no question about his exceptional valour and devotion to duty while doing it, either.

Ten years of flying with the RAF in India and Mesopotamia in skirmishes with frontier tribes, and another decade with the Ontario Provincial Air Service, penetrating the wilds of the northern part of the province, have given Jimmy ample preparation for the task he has carried on so well in Newfoundland.

He’s Officer Commanding of the Mercy Flight Division on RCAF Station Gander. That division, incidentally, is a small but mighty one. It consists of one Norseman plane and one pilot, none other than the OC himself. Every pilot on the station will tell you that Jimmy hasn’t an equal and everyone has a warm spot in his heart for this jolly, broad-shouldered man with such a merry twinkle .in his eyes – the fellow who can take off and land in weather when even the pigeons are walking.

The list of mercy flights resulting in saving of life is indeed a long one. There’s scarcely a bay along the rugged North and East coast of this island on which his Norseman hasn’t landed. The plane is equipped with two stretchers, and accommodates a doctor and a nurse. F/O Westaway is his own crew.

“No matter what the weather is when he takes off – or how long he’s gone, we never worry. We know that Jimmy will return safe and sound”, say the Commanding Officer.

A hospital assistant who was fortunate enough to go along on one of the mercy flights tells how all the inhabitants of the little village turned out to meet them. After a brief pause for a cup of tea and a sample of warm Newfoundland hospitality, they made a speedy return to the hospital with a cancer-afflicted patient. “The people all over that part of the island just about worship F/O Westaway. Though the little villages all along the coast look the same to us, Jimmy knows just where to land. Our own admiration of him was enthusiastic”.

Sometimes a boat voyage or ride behind dog-teams is required in order to supplement the plane ride. The length of their stop-over depend on how many of the “sick and maimed” from the surrounding countryside are brought to the doctor when he is summoned for one particular patient.

There have been closely competed races with the Stork more than once. So far the Norseman has been the winner.

The particular feat that won the Air Force Cross for our hero was the rescue of two men who had crashed in a Harvard last September. Weather was closing in and the aircraft sent to the vicinity of the crash failed to spot the two victims. Seventeen minutes after his takeoff from Gander Lake, Jimmy had sighted them. He landed on a rocky lake, left the M.O. [Medical Officer] and two other men on the shore with First Aid and sleeping bags and took off again. Weather conditions were considerably worse by this time. Nearing Gander, F/O Westaway called the tower for landing instructions.

“Norseman 789 – Ceiling and visibility zero zero. Hold your position above cloud. Stand by for further instructions. Over.”

Instantly came back the reply:

“Hell, I’m no b—- angel. I’m going to land”.

And he landed.

The next day, clouds were hanging on the tree tops. Nothing could fly – Nothing but the Norseman. Jimmy went back to the little lake, picked up the injured men and rescue party – returned to base using a sixth sense he evidently possesses.

It is doubtful if the two men would have survived if they had not been found when they were.

Forced landings on the desert, rescue work in Ontario would make a long, long story.

In 1929 when Jimmy was operating from Oba Lake, Ontario a certain Vedette landed, and its pilot and mechanic cut up a gas drum belonging to Jimmy. He has been offered numerous other gas drums to replace it, but still maintains that the pilot owes him $ 8.00.

It was the CO who told this story – I’d be disobeying orders if the name of the Vedette pilot was revealed – but maybe you’re good at guessing.

Jimmy once lived near a golf course – which was a very expensive site – because on warm days his friends used to come in after a round of golf and drink up all his beer.

F/O Westaway’s wife, son and daughter are living in Simcoe, Ontario. His son is air-minded too – is an enthusiastic Air Cadet.

“If I have enough money left for a ticket to South America, I’d like to go there after the war,” says Jimmy. So if in postwar years we hear of someone untangling jungle vines from the propellers and taking off using an alligator as a runway or landing safely on 100 square feet on a peak in the Andes, we’ll be ready to wager 50 to 1 that was Jimmy Westaway.

Further notes: He was short (64 ½ inches tall) and stocky (171 pounds). When medically examined he was described as an experienced pilot with 6,500 hours to his credit; “Fit physically other than poor ocular muscle balance and manifest hypermetropia.”

On enlistment he was recommended by George Ponsford (OPAS), his lawyer H.S. Hamilton (“Westaway has been a pilot with the Provincial Air Serviice for years and has proven himself a man of resource and ability and is well thought of in this community.”) Also recommended by Dr. A.R. Stevenson and Frank MacDougall (OPAS).

Course Report from Conversion Training Squadron stated he had flown 20 hours dual and 3,838 hours solo on civil single-engine aircraft; with the RAF he had flown 100 hours dual and 1,500 hours solo (900 on operations). His course at Rockcliffe was 19 April to 21 August 1942 during which time he had flown Battles (35 minutes dual, two hours solo), Harvard (50.10 day dual, 30.25 day solo, 3.00 night dual, 2.15 night solo), Oxford (10.30 day dual, 7.25 day solo) and Anson (6.55 day dual). Of this time he had flown 23.20 on instruments and logged 21.45 in Link. Ground courses in Airmanship (74 %), Airframes (50 %), Engines (90 %), Navigation (51 %), Armament (60 %), Meteorology (50 %), Wireless (80 %). Placed 15th in a class of 18. The Chief Ground Instructor wrote, “Older type of student, very slow to learn. Conduct and attitude excellent.” However, he was classed as “Above average” in all flying skills. “This officer is very safe and reliable with very good air sense but his instrument flying should be watched.” (CFI, 21 August 1942); “This officer should be capable of holding any type of staff pilot job. His conduct on and off the station has been very good.” (S/L D.I. Mackkin, 21 August 1942).

On 5 May 1943, W/C Z.L. Leigh wrote:

“A qualified pilot is urgently required at Gander to take charge of rescue and salvage operations. For this work, it is necessary to have experience on Norseman aircraft, both on skiis and floats, and ‘bush’ experience, if possible.” He was specifically looking for Westaway – “the above officer is very well qualified for this position.”

Royal Air Force Service:

“The above named officer served under my command for a considerable period in India. I found him a steady, reliable pilot and a trustworthy and hard working officer. In my opinion he can be safely employed in any suitable capacity, and will prove of read value to those so employing him.” (G/C R.M. Pine, Air Defence Great Britain, 15 July 1927).

“Flying Officer H.W. Westaway served under me on the Kurdistan frontier in Iraq for a period of two years. During that period he distinguished himself on several occasions and rendered excellent service in connection with the various operations against the frontier tribes. He is a hard working officer, of outstanding ability, and can always be relied upon, both from an administrative and flying point of view.” (W/C V. Gaskell Blackburn, Headquarters, No.21 Group, 20 July 1927, who added, “I can conscientiously recommend him for a colonial or Indian Office appointment.”

On 27 July 1927, W/C W.R. Read (No.2 Apprentices Wing, No.1 School of Technical Training [Apprentices], Halton, wrote that for the past two years Westaway had been in command of a Squadron of Aircraft Apprentices at that unit; “While I have known him Flying Officer Westaway has at all times commanded his Squadron with ability, conscientiousness and zeal. In the successful commanding of such a Squadron there are many cases which call for thoughtful consideration and tact in the handling of personnel, and in these respects and in clerical and officer work he has shown his capability.” Read then added, “From a flying point of view I am able to say that he is the most efficient pilot that I have in the Wing. He has flown consistently and regularly, and has not confined his flying to one type of aircraft. Neither has his flying been confined to local work. He is a good and experienced cross country pilot who takes the weather as it comes. He has had no flying accidents during the time he has been under my command. To the best of my knowledge he is strictly sober.”

OPAS Service:

On 5 June 1936, F/O G.L. Lumsden (in charge of RCAF Recruiting, Sudbury) wrote of him, “Mr. Westaway joined the service in 1927 [sic]. After two years in the capacity of Senior Pilot I posted him to the remote operating station at Oba Lake as pilot in charge of the station. He is still in charge of Oba Operations and holds this position through his steady, reliable and very trustworthy efforts.” Although Lumsden had no personal contact with Westaway after resigning from the OPAS in 1935, he stated that he believed Westaway still logged 400 hours each six-month season, and concluded, “Mr. Westaway is a willing and hard working pilot. I have no hesitation in recommending him for employment in any senior piloting capacity.”

On 29 November 1939, G.E. Ponsford wrote that Westaway had been ten years in OPAS service. “We consider Mr. Westaway one of the finest pilots we have ever had in the Service, and he possesses an Engineer’s license in addition to his flying qualifications.” To this he added, “We have always found him very willing and very diligent in the carrying out of any work assigned to him, and he has the happy faculty of being able to get along with any staff to which he has been assigned. His character and integrity are beyond reproach, and I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone who may be able to use his services.”

On 19 January 1942, OPAS Headquarters certified that he had flown 3,773 hours ten minutes in that service, his last flight being on 9 October 1941.

On 1 November 1945 he wrote to AFHQ inquiring about rejoining the RCAF. He had been looking for something new in flying; did not wish to go back to OPAS work.

In April 1991, John Westaway (172-1045 Morrison Drive, Ottawa) was asking about him.

Who remembers Jimmy Westaway?

This Website does…

Flying Officer Westaway

Flying Officer Westaway 1

Flying Officer Westaway 2

Flying Officer Westaway 3

Harold Brandon Godwin Redux

I am still trying to find out how and why Walter Jonathan Wetton’s name appeared on the dollar bill.

Brandy Godwin

Brandy Godwin 25-9-1942

I believe the signature is W. J. Wetton and not W. H. Wetton as transcribed in the letter.
Beurling Dollar Bill info

If we have the same Walter Jonathan Wetton who was with 21 Squadron RAF, then he signed it before his death that occured on April 6th, 1940.

6th April 1940 21 Sqn Blenhiem IV L8740 YH- Take Off 0400 from Watton, while setting out on an anti submarine patrol. The aircraft crashed into trees at 0405 Close to Merton Hall.

Leading Aircraftsman 524840 John Brayfield Ball, . Watton St Marys Churchyard

Pilot Officer 40438 Ian Stapledon, age 20, Watton St Marys Churchyard

Sgt 580533 Walter Jonathan Wetton, age 20, Heckington Cemetery Lincolnshire.

I found this other source which is more complete than the last one I posted about Wing Commander Godwin.

I found it on Airforce. ca. (click here)

We can ascertain where and when H.B. Godwin was posted during WWII.

Wing Commander Godwin

Source of the picture here

GODWIN, G/C Harold Brandon (C99)

– Officer, Order of the British Empire

– Station Gander

– Award effective 14 June 1945 as per Canada Gazette of that date and AFRO 1127/45 dated 6 July 1945.

See Canadian Who’s Who, 1968.

Born in Westmount, Quebec, 24 April 1907.

Educated around Montreal, B.Sc. from McGill (Electrical Engineering) in 1928; appointed to commission 16 July 1928 and won wings 18 March 1929.

Flew at Camp Borden, Ottawa and Trenton, Signals Officer at Borden (1934-36) and later commanded Wireless School at Trenton.

In 1938 appointed Advisor (Air Signals) at RCAF Headquarters with rank of squadron leader.

To No.3 Wireless School, 23 March 1941.

Promoted Wing Commander, 1 May 1941.

To AFHQ, 14 August 1942.

Promoted Group Captain, 1 November 1943.

To Newfoundland, 4 April 1944.

To “Y” Depot, Lachine, 1 April 1945.

To United Kingdom, 4 April 1945 to command No.64 Base and subsequentl as Deputy AOC, RCAF Overseas Headquarters.

Promoted Air Commodore, 25 April 1945.

Repatriated 13 December 1946.

Promoted Air Vice-Marshal, 1 January 1952.

It’s obvious that H.B. Godwin was not in England in the early 1940s and that he probably got the short snorter from someone else who was the one who probably met Sergeant Walter Jonathan Wetton before his death on April 6, 1940.



Godwin was with AFHQ from 14 August 1942 to 4 April 1944 when he was posted to Newfoundland.

This being said, I have found something that merits your attention.

It’s about  a pilot, Horace William Westaway, who was in Newfoundland at the same time period as Wing Commander Godwin.

His name is not on the dollar bill and he is almost unknown on the Internet.

Try Googling Horace William Westaway before I tell you all about him.

The Theory

Pat and I have arrived at the same theory about the dollar bill…

Well almost… and I am even not sure of mine the more I look at who signed that short snorter.

Buzz Beurling Dollar bill

Brandy Godwin

Buzz Beurling Dollar bill 001 180

Beurling Dollar Bill info


I’m convinced that the dollar bill was signed by Beurling however, after all the research I’ve done on this item I’m also convinced that the dollar bill was not started in Malta and Beurling never signed it while flying out of Malta.

I believe that the dollar bill may have originated in Canada after all what is the likelihood of a Canadian having a one dollar bill in Malta.

My theory is this.

What if Brandy Godwin or any of the other signators started the short snorter on September 25 1942 after or before one of the many long flights they would have experienced during military service in Canada. It does appear the printing on the top right, side and lower right were done by Godwin  and let’s assume Godwin kept the bill as a souvenir in his wallet as many flyers of that period did.

P/O G.F. Beurling had gained rock star status  both in Canada and Europe, he returned  to Canada early in November 1942 to mend after his war wounds and surviving 5 crashes. He passed through Gander Newfoundland then on to Montreal and reunited with his family, then on to Ottawa through Rockcliff airport. Beurling was sent across Canada on public speaking events, to help recruit and to sell warbonds. People lined out to get his autograph and he was very much in demand and RCAF brass wanted to be seen and photographed with him. I believe that Brandy Godwin may have produced his short snorter at one of these events and had Beurling sign it. The date September 25, 1942 was just a coincidence and was not the day Beurling signed the dollar bill. We will never know for certain the real story behind the dollar bill – that I’m convinced of.

After comparing the signatures on the bill and what I’ve seen on-line and after many people here in Nanaimo have studied it, the conclusion is, it’s Beurling signature. The letter that accompanied the dollar bill is typed not created on a computer and the paper shows signs of age and fading. Time may provide other answers and we hope they do but for now, I think the mystery is partially solved, Pilot Officer George “Buzz” Beurling, one of Canada’s most famous fighter pilots signed this Canadian Dollar bill and we are proud to have it in our museum.

Pat Murphy
Vancouver Island Military Museum
Nanaimo B.C.

Although I agree with Pat’s theory, I believe that the Short Snorter was started before 25 September, 1942.

W.H. Wetton who had signed that dollar bill could not be there on September 25th, 1942 in Malta.

With airfields at near by Watton and Bodney, the area had its share of incidents of aircraft crashes,  some of the listings at Merton below.
I have made my own investigations around our local area with the help of crash reports from the RAF museum and from sources in America.  Equipped with original details / reports, photos etc I have managed to match these to the present day. I have also managed to record various places in the area which include Merton, Thompson, Stow Bedon, Scoulton,  Saham Toney and Watton.

6th April 1940 21 Sqn Blenheim IV L8740 YH-
Take Off 0400 from Watton, while setting out on an anti submarine patrol. The aircraft crashed into trees at 0405 Close to Merton Hall.

Leading Aircraftsman 524840 John Brayfield Ball, . Watton St Marys Churchyard

Pilot Officer 40438 Ian Stapledon, age 20, Watton St Marys Churchyard

Sgt 580533 Walter Jonathan Wetton, age 20, Heckington Cemetery Lincolnshire..