The Captions – The Sequel

This morning I found a message in my inbox. It was about my other blog on RCAF 443 Squadron…

I have some photos of J.A. Arsenault, my late father, including one taken shortly after the mid-air formation collision of September 1945. I also have a photo of Dad in his flight suit. Additionally, I have a photo of the page in my father’s log with the signature of H.R. Finley, certifying medals earned. I would be happy to share.

In December 2011 I had written this.


This is the two group pictures I posted some time ago.

These pictures where taken in March 1945.

I am trying to put some of the names with the right faces. What I like about Greg’s grandfather is his sense of humour.

He uses a lot of nicknames and he calls himself Moiself

With a little French accent…


Moiself is with Buzz Burdis who got killed the day after he wrote his father…

Buzz is on the right. I wrote about him so his story would be told and he would forever be remembered.

Gil Gillis from Pense, Saskatchewan, is wearing the German helmet.

Bob Young is behind Moiself who is picking his nose…

These last pictures were taken in Germany the first time 403 Squadron set up their tents…

I wonder who is this Freddie Arsenault. This sounds like French-Canadian…

I can’t find him anywhere on the Internet except on my blog about 403 Squadron.


To be continued…

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


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.

Erks – Redux

Written two years ago when Mark White was just thinking of writing about his dad George White. We have come a long way since then.


A new collaborator and a new category.

This blog pays homage to all those who served with RCAF No. 403 Squadron during WWII.

This blog is all about sharing.


Greg has shared his grandfather photo album and his precious logbook.

Mark wants to share what is seldom mentioned in WWII…



This is what George Stewart said about erks when I asked… Click here.

So next time, on this blog, we will talk about Mark’s dad who was an erk with RCAF No 403 Squadron.

I just can’t wait.

Click on the image to zoom in. Mark’s father should be there.


George White

collection Walter Neil Dove courtesy of his grandson Greg Bell

More Pictures from Mark – Redux

Editor’s notes

This was Mark White’s third contribution to this blog. It was published back in 2012.


Mark White forgot this picture in his article.

The captions are the original captions wrote by his father.

Here are the other ones he sent me before.


Does anyone know who’s in front, his hand over the right side mirror?

 Good old Robbie

Robbie - Copy


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  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



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.



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

John B.

Mark White’s first post – 403 Erks Captured German Truck

Editor’s  note

Every  Tuesday  morning  I  will  post  once again  Mark White’s  articles. I  will  add after more  information that  came  to  light  since  they  were  published.



This post is from Mark White’s pen. His dad was an erk with 403 Squadron.

Mark wrote this e-mail…


Here’s my first serious post – many more will likely be coming your way.



403 Erks Captured German Truck

Towards the end of the war, 403 Squadron operated out of 127 Airfield near Soldau Germany. 

This was known as Base 154 or B154. They remained there from April 26 until July 7, 1945.

B 154 was an abandoned German airbase known as Reinsehlen. It was about 45 km from Hamburg. It was quite near the Concentration Camp at Bergen Belsen and the swimming pool at Lüneburg Germany.

The Erks from 403 visited the concentration camp and the swimming pool. I’m posting some never before published pictures from my dad’s collection.
You can identify some of the Erks in these pictures in the 403 Group picture.


I showed a friend of mine, who is a serious military model maker, some of my dad’s photos. Steve had never seen a Maple Leaf painted inside a Roundel. He built a model depicting this truck complete with three 403 Erks. The Erk with the cigarette wearing the leather Jerkin is my dad. Steve won a gold medal at a recent model show in Calgary for his work depicting 403 squadron’s captured German truck at B154 in July of 1945.

The medium 4.5T cargo truck Mercedes-Benz L4500S was originally developed for civilian use. It was used in wide service with all German military units during World War II on both Western and Eastern fronts. A total of 9,500 trucks were manufactured from 1939-1944, most of them for the Wehrmacht. The L4500 had a 7.2 litre diesel engine with 112 HP and existed in 2 basic versions: 2-wheel drive “S” and 4-wheel drive “A”.

Steve’s Model Depicting 403 Erks with a Captured Mercedes 4.5 Ton Truck


The fog of war – 25 December 1944: “Sandy” Borland (416) Shot Down by T-Bolt

Editor’s  note

This was posted  in 2011. It  was  the first  time  that I  had heard  about  such a story  before.

I am sure you browsed though Greg’s first scanned pages of his grandfather’s logbook.

“Sandy” Borland (416) Shot Down by T-Bolt

If you did then you will not be surprised to read this obituary.

In memory of Flying Officer

who died on December 25, 1944

Military Service:

Service Number: J/25780

Age: 21

Force: Air Force

Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force

Division: 416 Sqdn.

Additional Information:

Son of John and Jessie Borland, of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

There were very few information about the death of this pilot…

Until Greg sent me this…


I was shocked when I read this entry in the logbook.

“Sandy” Borland (416) Shot Down by T-Bolt

This is a T-Bolt…

This is what I found on Google Books about the incident…

This is Flying Officer Alexander George Borland…

He was just 21..

Sandy” Borland (416) Shot Down by T-Bolt…on Christmay Day…!

Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, Jan. 9, 1945 – The Department of National Defense for Air today issued Casualty List No. 1086 of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next of kin of those named from Ontario include:
Missing After Air Operations (Believed Killed)

BORLAND, Alexander George, FO. J. L. Borland (father), Guelph


Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, Aug. 14, 1945 — The Department of National Defense for Air today issued casually lists Nos. 1,254 and 1,255 of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next-of-kin of those named from Ontario include:
Previously Missing Believed Killed, now Officially Presumed Dead

BORLAND, Alexander George, FO. J. L. Borland (father), Guelph

Click here