Gordon Clarke Gillanders

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Gord Gillanders gets his Wing


Tiger Squad Ace Gets Another

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London, June 12, 1944 - (CP Cable) - Sgt. Peter Engbrecht, a mid-upper gunner flying with the City of Hamilton Tiger Squadron, claimed his third and fourth fighters destroyed in two weeks as a "large number" of R.C.A.F. bomber group squadrons attacked the railway yards at Versailles-Matelot near Paris last night
Engbrecht, from Whitewater, Manitoba, engaged in three combats. The outcome of the third clash was not known.
Sgt. G.C. Gillanders, a rear gunner, of Vancouver, was in on one of these engagements.


Born in Vancouver, 15 March 1924
Home in Fraser Hills, British Columbia
Enlisted in Vancouver, 14 September 1942 for wireless repair training
To No.3 Manning Depot, 21 September 1942
To No.3 Repair Depot, 15 January 1943
Remustered for aircrew, 19 February 1943
To No.4 SFTS, 21 March 1943
To No.2 Pre-Aircrew Education Unit, 2 May 1943
To No.2 Air Gunner Ground Training School, 28 May 1943
Promoted LAC, 10 July 1943 and posted that date
To No.3 BGS; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 17 September 1943
To “Y” Depot, 1 October 1943
Taken on strength of No.3 PRC, Bournemouth, 9 October 1943
Repatriated 22 November 1944
Released 14 February 1945
Died in Surrey, British Columbia, 26 March 1997
as per Legion Magazine of September 1997


3 Toronto Men Named In List For Air Honours

Ottawa, Oct. 12, 1944 - (CP) - The RCAF announced tonight the award of 14 Distinguished Flying Crosses and five Distinguished Flying Medals to RCAF men serving overseas.
S/L L. G. Neilly of Gilford, Ont., was awarded the D.F.C., for leadership in directing a search which resulted in the rescue of 17 passengers of a plane forced down on the sea.
F/O J. Wagman of Regina was another D.F.C. winner. He was returning from a mission when his fuel tanks were holed by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to land on the sea 40 miles from the English coast. In spite of adverse weather and lack of landing lights, he avoided a catastrophe. The recipients:

S/L L. G. Neilly, Gilford, Ont.
F/L R. W. Kent, 149 Proctor St., London, Ont.
F/O A. L. Butler, Vancouver
F/O H. D. Egli, 89 Douglas Drive, Toronto
F/O R. G. Holden, New York City
F/O J. G. M. Landry, Montreal
F/O W. M. MacKay, 894 Queen St., Toronto
F/O R. C, Penrose, Vancouver
F/O R. H. Simpson, North Battleford, Sask.
F/O J. F. Tees, Bruce Mines, Man.
F/O    J. Wagman, Regina, Sask.
P/O A. V. J. Boyer, Penetanguishene, Ont.
P/O J. A. Ryan, 22 Neville Park Blvd., Toronto
P/O H. A. S. Smith, Preston, Ont.
F/S F. J. Clay, Red Deer, Alta.
F/S G. C. Gillanders, Vancouver
F/S E. J. Lefave, Windsor, Ont.
Sgt O. M. Brown, Ottawa.
Sgt R. E. Budd, 122½ Kenmore Blvd., Hamilton.


GILLANDERS, FS Gordon Clarke (R189496) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.424 Squadron
Award effective 13 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 2534/44 dated 24 November 1944.

Flight Sergeant Gillanders was the rear gunner of an aircraft which, in August 1944, was detailed to attack Brunswick. On the return journey the bomber was attacked by an enemy fighter. Flight Sergeant Gillanders opened fire with a long burst which caused the enemy aircraft to burst into flames. The second burst of fire caused the fighter to explode in the air. Flight Sergeant Gillanders has always shown courage, coolness and determination to fulfil his duty.

NOTE: DHist file 181.009 (D.2611), in National Archives of Canada RG.24 Volume 20627 has a detailed recommendation drafted by S/L J.A. Westland on 15 August 1944 when he had flown 22 sorties (112 hours). Text as follows:

Flight Sergeant Gillanders is the rear gunner of a four-engined bombing aircraft.

On the night of August 12th, 1944, after an attack against Brunswick, the aircraft "G" MZ.802 was attacked by a single engine enemy (ME.109). The rear gunner gave it a fully long burst upon which it burst into flames and on the second burst it exploded in the air and the pieces floated to the ground. Just a few minutes previous to this both the mid-upper gunner and the rear gunner shared in the destruction of a twin-engine fighter (ME.210). They both opened fire at 450 yards and on the first strike it burst into flames and gradually dived to the ground where it was seen to explode by the pilot, the flight engineer and the air bomber.

It is felt that the courage, coolness and fine cooperation shown by the whole crew is worthy of great praise and in my considered opinion Flight Sergeant Gillanders is deserving of high commendation and I recommend him for the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.


Canadian Bombers Destroyed 116 Hun Planes in 2½ Years

London, June 19, 1945 - (CP) - Peter Engbrecht 22, of Whitewater, Manitoba, was top scorer of the Canadian Bomber Group, it was disclosed tonight in a statement crediting the group with destroying 116 enemy aircraft from its formation Jan. 7 1943, to the end of the war in Europe.
In addition the group, which had 1,312 encounters with enemy planes, probably destroyed 25 and damaged 91. Of these encounters, 701 occurred last year when the Germans sent up fighters in great strength in an effort to halt massed bombing.
Engbrecht, who joined the RCAF in 1941, but did not become a gunner until 1943, returned to Canada last March. During most of his operations he was a flight sergeant, but was commissioned on completing his tour of duty last August. His achievements were recognized by award of the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.
The gunner shot down his first German plane in May, 1944 on his second operation with the Tiger Squadron. Three of his four guns were rendered inoperative and the bomber was damaged severely by an attacking Messerschmitt 110, but Engbrecht destroyed the enemy plane.
Seconds later he destroyed a Focke-Wulf 190 and during this trip he defended his bomber against 14 separate attacks.
Two weeks later he destroyed an ME-109 and an ME-110 on a raid on Versailles-Matelot. The night after his investiture he and his rear-gunner, F/S G.C. Gillanders, DFM of Vancouver, destroyed an ME-210.
In addition to Engbrecht, two Oshawa gunners were potent marksmen. During a raid on Oberhausen, Germany last November F/Sgts Sam Shutka and Tom Romanchuk destroyed an ME-110 and an ME-210. The next night they downed another fighter.


Victories Include:

Jun 10/11 1944
Aug   7   1944
Aug 12/13 1944

Aug 16/17 1944
1/2 ME-110
1/2 JU-88
1/2 ME-210
one Bf-109
one ME-110
destroyed (1)
destroyed (2)
destroyed (3)
destroyed (4)
destroyed (5) (prob?)

3.5 / 0 / 0

Pete Engbrecht was the Mid-Upper gunner who shared the 3 kills

(1) At the position given a fighter flare was seen to drop on the starboard beam, the enemy aircraft came from behind the flare and in doing so silhouetted himself against it. The Me110 opened fire at 400 yards, almost immediately on sighting. The mid-upper gunner ordered combat maneuver and opened fire right after, keeping up his fire until the engagement was broken off, the rear gunner getting in a short burst at 250 yards. The fighter seemed to lose control at 200 yards range, diving straight down and an explosion was seen on the ground a few seconds later.

(2) On August 7, 1944 while flying in another Halifax, "Galloping Gerty", Sgt. Engbrecht shot down an Me-410 and, together with Gillanders, a JU-88.

(3) Enemy aircraft was first seen by mid-upper gunner and rear gunner as it attacked and shot down another Halifax on their port quarter down. The fighter then turned and attacked from the port quarter level at 450 yards. Corkscrew port was given by mid-upper gunner. Fighter opened fire at 400 yards and both gunners immediately returned fire. Traces from both turrets converged on the enemy aircraft which burst into flames and was seen to explode by both gunners and engineer. The aircraft was identified as an Me210.

(4)Rear-gunner sighted enemy aircraft at 400 yards port quarter down. He and fighter opened fire at the same time. Trace was seen striking the enemy aircraft which burst into flame and shortly afterwards exploded. The aircraft was identified as an Me109 when it burst into flames and was seen to explode by the engineer and both gunners. The pilot also saw the flash and burning parts going down. Following this raid F/Sgt Gillanders was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Medal. The accompanying citation stated, "Flight Sergeant Gillanders has always shown courage, coolness and determination to fulfil his duty."

(5) August 16/17, Gillanders was credited with an Me110, the combat report reading, "An unidentified aircraft was first sighted at 550 yards starboard quarter down, showing a yellow light in the nose. The fighter immediately opened fire and rear-gunner gave the evasive action corkscrew starboard. The gunner opened fire at 500 yards and continued firing until fighter closed to 400 yards, at which time the fighter caught fire and broke off on the starboard quarter down. The gunners lost sight of the fire, but about two minutes later an aircraft was seen to explode on the water. The mid-upper gunner saw it burn for a short time and disappear. Rear gunner claims fighter as probably destroyed.
Engbrecht claimed a "probable" Me-262 that night as well.


Check out this article from the Bomber Command Museum (source of photo)




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