My Dad’s Missing War Pictures – Redux

Editor’s note

This article, published in October 2012, is from Mark White. It’s  just for  you John…

***

Mark White writes about his dad…

My dad’s war pictures went missing for a number of years.

I had no pictures of my dad from the war.

In 2011 I contacted my dad’s only surviving brother, Tom, in Kenora, Ontario and asked him if he had any pictures.

He didn’t have any, but he obtained this picture from a local veteran, Edgar “Dink” Strain who had a wartime photo of my dad and three other Kenora vets onboard the New Amsterdam in August 1945.

Edgar took this photo:

(L to R) My dad George White, Clyde Hillman, Art Pykerman and Rolf Nelson.

I talked to Edgar Strain on the phone a few times. He had been a Warrant Officer with 421 Lynx Squadron during the war. He was a very gracious gentleman and a very keen military historian with a tremendous amount of knowledge about the war.

When I talked with my uncle Tom, on Thanksgiving Day 2012, he told me Edgar had passed away.

Here’s Edgar’s obituary:

In Memory of

Edgar Wilson Strain

 

April 5, 1922 – July 13, 2012

In Loving Memory of

Edgar Wilson Strain

Edgar Wilson Strain passed away at his home on Friday July 13, 2012, at 90 years of age.

Edgar is survived by his sons Lindsay (Dorothy) and Gregg (Mary) and daughter Megan; granddaughters Larisa (Guy) and Siobhan; sister Lois Hoshwa; sisters -in-law Shirley Strain and Josie Strain. He was predeceased by his wife Isabella, parents Edgar and Eva, his sister Thomasina, brothers Neil and Lorne and brothers-in-law Nick Hoshwa and Ted Jorgenson.

Edgar was born in Kenora. He volunteered for service in the RCAF during WWII and served in Canada, England and throughout Europe. When he returned he married the love of his life, Isabella, and started a family. He worked at Williams Hardware for ten years and then founded Strain’s Stationery, later partnering with his brother Neil in the business until his retirement in 1987.

He was very involved in the community and his contributions of service and community development included work on the Kenora Thistle Hockey Team Board, serving as a trustee for the Kenora School Board, work on the Kenora Minor Hockey Association, board membership on the Central Community Club, the Kenora Economic Development Committee, a co-chair of the building committee for the original Kenora Recreation Centre and a field agent for Ducks Unlimited. He helped many other community groups and charities.

After his retirement, he followed his many interests which included sculpture, nature, gardening, architecture, the family camp, woodworking, reading, music and genealogy. He pursued these interests with passion, intellect and humour. His stories were enjoyed by family and friends. His wealth of knowledge will be missed. His ideas and actions influenced and inspired many.

Immediate cremation has taken place.

A private family service will follow at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, contributions of time or donations to a local charity of one’s choice would honour his life and service.

Online condolences may be made at http://www.brownfuneralhomekenora.com

BROWN FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION CENTRE ENTRUSTED WITH ARRANGEMENTS.

Private family service at a later date

Thank you Edgar for the wartime picture of my dad and the conversations we had.

Fortunately my dad’s pictures were located.

Here’s another one I’ll share from his collection of some of the Erks from 403 Squadron checking out a captured FW 190 in Germany 1945.

Again, you may recognize some of the Erks from 403.

***

Have a nice day mon ami.

Mark’s First Contribution – Redux

Editor’s  note  

I know this is not next Tuesday, but this is Mark’s  second contribution, not his first. You see how  hard it  is  to follow  this blog.

***

Original  post

Mark wrote another comment.

People usually don’t read reader’s comments on blogs.

I do.

This comment is most interesting because Mark mentions January 1, 1945. Click here to learn more.

Thanks for setting up an Erks category.

I can’t wait to start releasing the stuff I have – I’m really glad I have found this site where I can finally share it. This is the place and the community that will appreciate it.

I can recognize some of my dad’s “crew” in this group shot from my pictures.

My dad’s crew was referred to as the “Number 1″. I understand they held the time record for swapping out a Merlin engine that could not be beaten. His “crew” managed to stay together during the war on the continent, except for one member, who was killed during an attack on their airdrome January 01, 1945. I’ll get into more of the details I know about that later.

I’m pretty sure the guy in the back row to the right of the prop blade with the arrow drawn across the left shoulder is my father, George Edward White LAC R119501.

I have a picture of him standing in the bottom of a large bomb crater in exactly the same pose – right hand on the hip – take in Normandy 1944.

What I really notice in this picture at the end of the war, is the way many of these young men rapidly age during the course of the war. My dad was born in 1921 and he would have just turned 24 in August of 1945.

Mark

Mark  also mentions a whole lot more information about this picture.

I’m pretty sure the guy in the back row to the right of the prop blade with the arrow drawn across the left shoulder is my father, George Edward White LAC R119501.

More about erks…

Someone whose father was also a groung crew wrote a comment once on my other blog Lest We Forget.

His father was with RCAF 425 Alouette. His name was Roly Leblanc. I wrote several articles during Rememberance Week 2011.

Great pictures!

Click here.

Erks’, is a kindly word meaning your ground crew guys! I’ve not heard that term used since those days!

George Stewart DFC, 23 Squadron Mosquito pilot

paul-beaudet-and-george-stewart-1

UPDATE

Good morning Mark, thank you very much for writing about your Dad’s memories, it certainly takes me back a few years about 70 to be close enough. Without erks or men like your Dad who were so dedicated to their work the Spits could not fly, not very far anyway. Although I am sure that I must have seen your Dad many times as I frequently roamed around or maybe in the same lineup at the mess or even sitting next to him at the movie tent. A thousand reasons, no a million reasons why you should be proud of your Dad.

Who cares?,you do , I do, and All the thousands who stood for hours last November 11, at the War Memorial to applause and cheer continually while veterans, most in their late 80s or 90s, and I was one of them. The same ceremonies attracted crowds all through Canada.

Why?

Because THEY CARED.

Again Mark, those crowds were saying to your Dad and all vets Thank You.

John B.

Chuck Thornton Redux

Post no. 365

A comment from a reader about this post written in 2012…

re:

the group photo at Headoorn, Sept ’43: My Mother discovered this photo of my Father (Chuck Thornton) for the first time in a book entitled “Spitfires” (printed in the 90s) while browsing in a book store. She said that she seldom looked in the History section of the store but that day for no reason she walked straight to it, saw the book, and opened it on page 90 – to see this very photo.

“Le hasard, c’est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.”

About the post…

Small world.

About Chuck or Charles Thornton.

This has to be him in this small picture sent by Peter Lecoq, the son of Pierre Lecoq…

I managed to edit it.

He is next to Pierre Lecoq aka Peter Logan…

He is also in this picture sent a few months ago by Dean Black.

Here is the original picture.

Sometimes we just have to sit and wait for more information to reach us.

Footnote

“Le hasard, c’est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.”

I don’t believe in coincidence.

Tommy Todd Revisited Redux: the Sequel

Post 321

This post is for you Andrew.

This has happen so many times since 2011 that I have stopped pinching myself.

Andrew Todd contacted me!

Andrew whose grandfather was Tommy Todd left more comments…

I don’t know how you found me but I am sure glad you did! I feel like I know you somehow but can’t figure out the connection.

If you start reading this blog from the start, I know you will start pinching yourself then stop pinching.

Andrew had written a comment on this blog in December 2011, but he had never contacted me again…

Tom Todd is my grandfather.  These pictures are new to me.  I am at work and have to keep it together but feel overwhelmed with emotion so I will have to look at this later in private.  Thanks for posting this.

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

Many people contacted me since 2011 and they shared memories and pictures.

I posted everything!

This is why this is Post No. 321.

Captain Foster’s son wrote me, Van Sainsbury’s son wrote me, someone who knew Gil Gillis wrote me. Peter Lecoq’s son wrote me…

Dean Black, who is a retired air force Lieutenant-Colonel with 30 years’ service in the Canadian Forces, wrote me and share tons of information,

George White’s son wrote me and he wrote articles about his father… 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tony Cannell was the first person to reach me on this blog…

He knew Tommy Todd as well as his wife Val and he shared a story.

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

I knew Tom Todd very well and despite the fact he was older (I missed the war by two years) he was my best friend.

I took him flying occasionally in light planes in the early sixties. He loved that and would sometimes recall some of his wartime experiences while we tootled around the skies west of Ottawa, or later around Maple Airport north of Toronto.

One incident he recounted was of flying a rhubarb, busting trains etc. He and his friend Izzy Isbister were warned to stay away from the Rhone Valley because of the intense flak in the area. Unfortunately, in their haste to get away after intense activity and getting low on fuel, they mistook the Rhone for another river and flew through some heavy flak. Leaving the coast, Tom could see cannon shells hitting the sea just behind Izzy just ahead. Taking evasive action, they were lucky to get out of that little mess with, no doubt, a great sigh of relief !

Other little incidents were just as interesting too !

Tom was a very quiet,  unassuming and wonderful friend.

Tony Cannell

I wrote this on Tommy Todd.

Click here to read my article. 

Someone else had written a story about Tommy Todd. I just copied it because I did not want to lose that precious story found also in Walter Neil Dove’s precious logbook.

F/L Todd Shot Down by Flak North of Emmerich

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

Toddy was shot down 6 weeks before the end of the war and was taken prisoner. He should not have been flying that day, but had offered to take the place of a young pilot who was exhausted.

I had told Greg I was going to write about Tommy Todd once again so he revisited his grandpa’s photo album and Greg found this…

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

To be continued…?

There is no end in sight about what we can discover about RCAF 403 Squadron especially since Andrew is going to contact Karl.

Tommy Todd Revisited Redux

Someone added a comment on a post about Tommy Todd.

Tommy Todd:

He records his dreadful experiences in the hands of the retreating German soldiers and the Hitler Youth for his grandsons. They can be read in the blue covered book.

Can somebody bring me in contact with one of Tommy’s grandsons?
Up till now I do not know where he came down March 31, 1945.

Regards
Karl Lusink
Researcher from The Netherlands

START

One day someone will write a comment on this blog and say that he or she is related either to Captain Foster, Mo Morrison, Van Sainsbury, Ron Forsyth, Stew Tosh, Gil Gillis, Johnnie Johnson, Mac Reeves or Keith Lindsay…

 

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

Tony Cannell is the first person to reach us…

He knew Tommy Todd as well as his wife Val.

 

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

I knew Tom Todd very well and despite the fact he was older (I missed the war by two years) he was my best friend.

I took him flying occasionally in light planes in the early sixties. He loved that and would sometimes recall some of his wartime experiences while we tootled around the skies west of Ottawa, or later around Maple Airport north of Toronto.

One incident he recounted was of flying a rhubarb, busting trains etc. He and his friend Izzy Isbister were warned to stay away from the Rhone Valley because of the intense flak in the area. Unfortunately, in their haste to get away after intense activity and getting low on fuel, they mistook the Rhone for another river and flew through some heavy flak. Leaving the coast, Tom could see cannon shells hitting the sea just behind Izzy just ahead. Taking evasive action, they were lucky to get out of that little mess with, no doubt, a great sigh of relief !

Other little incidents were just as interesting too !

Tom was a very quiet,  unassuming and wonderful friend.

Tony Cannell

Want to read what I wrote on Tommy Todd?

Click here to read my article. 

In fact someone else wrote it, I just copied it.

This is an excerpt in case you forgot to read it the first time…

Soon after the Spitfires arrived one of the Canadian pilots, Flying Officer Thomas Todd visited Kingsden – my home, to ask my mother if she would accommodate his wife while he was stationed at the airfield. He had married a 19-year-old Welsh air controller called Val in Swansea. The answer must have been “yes” because they both moved in with us and remained until October 1943. Toddy flew a Spitfire that had the squadron letters AUT on the fuselage (another one I always checked for on their return). One particular morning Toddy had overslept and was woken by his batman calling him from under the bedroom window. Having no time to dress or eat breakfast, with only five minutes to spare until he was due at briefing, he pulled his uniform on over his pyjamas, and went off to cause havoc over France – if only the enemy had realised!

They would fly up to three missions a day, weather permitting. Toddy flew as wingman to Johnnie Johnson and his successor; this meant he had to protect the tail of the Wing Commander’s plane, with a great risk of being shot down. This must have helped Johnnie Johnson to become the Ace! There were very few accidents or losses while the Spitfires were here. Johnnie Johnson left here on September 9th for a course in preparation for D-Day. His place was taken by Wing Commander Hugh Constant-Godefroy until October 14th 1943, when with much regret the squadron left for a permanent base for winter at Kenley. Val returned to Wales to await the birth of their baby, and later sailed to Canada to stay with Toddy’s family. During his stay with us I had taken photographs of Toddy and Val, and my mother had taken one of me with them. We each treasured these photos for 47 years until we met again. In 1990 they came over from Canada to visit Val’s family in Wales, while over in the U.K, they came to visit us and take part in the service held in September at the memorial in Bedlam Lane for Battle of Britain Sunday. There they were joined by the next generation of pilots of the same wing. The young pilots had flown over from Germany for the ceremony (and did so for a few years afterwards). We shall never forget the sight of these youngsters cornering Toddy at Elvey Farm, where we had gone for tea. They were so interested in his Spitfire flying experiences. We have remained close to Val and Toddy and have visited them three times at their home to the north of Toronto. Toddy was shot down 6 weeks before the end of the war and was taken prisoner. He should not have been flying that day, but had offered to take the place of a young pilot who was exhausted. He records his dreadful experiences in the hands of the retreating German soldiers and the Hitler Youth for his grandsons. They can be read in the blue covered book.

F/L Todd Shot Down by Flak North of Emmerich

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

Toddy was shot down 6 weeks before the end of the war and was taken prisoner. He should not have been flying that day, but had offered to take the place of a young pilot who was exhausted.

I told Greg I was going to write about Tommy Todd once again so he revisited his grandpa’s photo album again and found this…

Walter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

END

North of Emmerich.

North of Emmerich

To be continued…?

Some Help Needed Here…Redux

This is an answer to Robert De Vries who had left a comment on the blog about Wing Commander L.S. Ford.

Stephen Nickerson just left this comment. 

Hello Robert;

I researched W/C L.S. Ford’s military career and wrote a book titled ‘Traded For Twenty-Two Spitfires’. In trying to give an explanation to your question of why Ford was buried at Vlieland Island and not Texel Island I can only guess that the tide carried his body to that island.
According to F/S Fuller, who was one of the pilots attacking the E-boats that day, reported seeing a Spitfire flying very slowly and trying to make a left turn after the action. Before the damaged Spitfire could complete the turn for England, the left wingtip hit the water and the last thing Fuller saw was the tail section sticking out of the water.
Ford was listed as missing until his parents received news on the 21st of August 1943, that his body was recovered from the sea.

This is what Robert de Vries was looking for.

Does anybody have more background about the crash / KIA of W/Cdr Sydney Ford? He was shot down attacking E Boats at the Nordsea. Did he leave his Spitfire (AA980) and couldn’ t reach land or did he crash with his plane together in the sea? He is buried here Vlieland, Netherlands in a field of honor.

Dean Black had given that answer…

Ford was the Wing Leader for the Digby Wing. He was the youngest RAF officer ever to reach the rank of WComd. The fact he was Canadian makes the achievement all the more meaningful. Ford and his wingman were both hit by flak, from the E-boats. Ford was killed and crashed. His wingman was wounded but returned to base. Some books attribute the loss to 402 Squadron, but there is absolutely no mention of Ford in the 402 history book. This probably suggests Ford was the WComd (flying) of the Digby Wing and was not affiliated with the Squadron whatsoever.

Robert wrote a thank you note…

Thanks a lot Dean.

It was indeed a great achievment that he became Wing Cmdr when he was 22 years. He must have been a great leader and person. Today on holiday on Vlieland I visited his grave and honoured him, together with other Canadian airmen, who participated in the liberation of our country the Netherlands. I still wonder why he is buried in Vlieland Island, because his plane crashed in the surrounding of Texel island….. The following impressive text was on his grave stone: “He being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a life time.”

Robert had commented more…

I dont know how to upload pictures, but here is a picture of W/ Cmd Sydney Ford:

http://www.acesofww2.com/Canada/aces/ford.htm

And his grave stone:

http://vlielandwar.blogspot.nl/2010_06_01_archive.html

Hope this helps