CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS AIR-FIGHTER DEPOT
Group Captain Campbell, Hamilton Officer, in Attendance
COUNTRY IS PROUD
Somewhere in England, Sept. 6, 1941 - (CP Cable) - Prime
Minister Mackenzie King, visiting the first all-Canadian fighter station
in Great Britain, told airmen today that "there is nobody in the
world more in the hearts of all of us than you."
Obviously enjoying his visit to the great station, the Prime Minister
chatted with young flyers standing beside their Spitfires, Hurricanes
Scores of the Royal Canadian Air Force men snapped pictures of Mr. King
as he stood on the wing of an aeroplane and later sat in the cockpit of
a Hurricane wearing a helmet and talking to the station control room over
"Nothing could inspire me more than meeting you airmen," he
said in the longest informal speech he has made since coming to Britain.
The speech was made to a Spitfire squadron.
"I suppose there is nobody in the world more in the hearts of all
of us than you. I can't begin to tell you how proud we are of our air
"The people of Canada follow with pride and thankfulness your gallant
exploits. Your bravery and courage are known to them."
Mr. King recalled that he had paid tribute to the R.C.A.F. flyers in his
speech this week at the Lord Mayor's luncheon in London and said that
no words he had ever uttered gave him more pleasure.
He added that "no act of the government ever pleased my colleagues
and myself more than the working out of this plan with British representatives,"
referring to the initial conversations with Lord Riverdale and a British
mission which led to the Commonwealth air training plan.
"From my heart I trust the all-seeing and living Providence will
watch over you." Mr. King concluded: "God bless you all, boys."
Wearing a grey suit, a black Homburg and carrying a cane, Mr. King was
in a jovial mood as he talked with the airmen. He climbed up on the wing
of one of the new model Spitfires to shake hands with P/O Win Ash, of
As photographers took pictures, the Prime Minister quipped: "Don't
start this plane while I'm here. These press men would like nothing better
than to have me taken up 60 feet and dropped."
Meet "The Boys"
"I wonder if I may shake hands with these men?" he said when
he greeted F/L Kit Bushell, of Qu'Appelle, Sask., in charge of a group
of Spitfire pilots who were lined up in front of their dispersal hut.
Those he met included Pilot Officers Boyd Gartshore of Toronto; Ken
Boomer of Ottawa; R. W. McNair of Prince
Albert, Sask. and Sgt.-Pilots Dick Ellis, of Montreal; Bill Hagyard of
Perth, Ont. and Aubrey Ferguson of Glace Bay, N.S.
Two of their mates — Ash and P/O Donald Blakeslee of Cleveland, Ohio — staged a practical scramble into their planes
and Mr. King's hat was blown off by the slipstream caused by the propellers.
A squadron, led by Squadron Leader Paul Pitcher of Montreal, told Mr.
King there was a scarcity of magazines and newspapers from home.
The Prime Minister was cheered as he headed towards Beaufighter squadrons,
where he was greeted by F/L Bruce Hanbury of Vancouver. While Mr. King
was inspecting the airmen, L.A.C. Stuart Lee, of Almonte, Ont., photographed
him. Later Mr. King took pictures of the lads with Lee's camera and visited
the squadron's operations room.
With Hamilton Officer
Mr. King was accompanied throughout his tour by Air Commodore Leigh Forbes
Stevenson, air officer commanding the R.C.A.F. in the United Kingdom,
and Group Capt. A. P. Campbell, of Hamilton, Ont., the first Canadian
named to command an air station in Britain.
There was a touch of sadness when he asked of one group, "Who trained
these men to their present fine efficiency?" He was told they were
trained by an officer who was killed a few days ago — Wing Cmdr.
N. R. Peterson, of Winnipeg.
Mr. King concluded the visit by chatting with members of a Hurricane squadron
led by Squadron Ldr. Norm Johnstone, of Winnipeg. Among the men were P/O
Don Ball of Edmonton and F/L "Bev" Christmas of Montreal.
The Prime Minister climbed into the cockpit of a Hurricane and P/O Bud
Connell of Nipawin, Sask., showed him how to work the radio telephone.
Mr. King sent greetings to the control room.
|Born in Ottawa, 20 August 1916
Attended Hopewell Avenue Public School (1921-29)
Glebe Collegiate (1929-33)
Kempville Agricultural School (1933-35) &
Ontario Agricultural College (1935-1939)
Enlisted in Ottawa, 9 October 1939 &
Appointed Provisional Pilot Officer
To Trenton, 2 January 1940
To Camp Borden, 28 February 1940
- earning his wings 29 April 1940
To Station Ottawa, 19 June 1940
To Trenton, 10 August 1940
To No.1 BGS, 4 September 1940
To Ottawa, 12 September 1940
Embarked for overseas, 27 September 1940
Arrived in Liverpool, 5 October 1940
To No.112 Squadron (RCAF), 27 September 1940
To No.1 (RCAF) Squadron, 12 November 1940
Slightly injured on 29 December 1940 while on patrol; he became lost, ran out of fuel at 700 feet looking for a forced-landing field, and approached a field covered with obstruction poles, one of which he struck at a height of 20 feet. He swung 180 degrees but landed right-side up, suffering facial abrasions (Hurricane V6671)
Posted to No.411 Squadron, 28 June 1941
Returned to Canada, 8 April 1942
To No.132 Squadron, 3 June 1942 (Rockcliff) &
Subsequently took it to Sea Island and Patricia Bay
With No.111 Sq. 17 August 1942 to 31 May 1943
Took over command of the squadron from H T Mitchell
To Western Air Command, 5 June 1943
To AF HQ (staff duties), 23 October 1943
To No.2 SFTS, 13 November 1943
As of 1 Dec. 1943 his flying times were :
|single-engine solo (day)
single-engine solo (night)
single-engine dual (day)
multi-engine as captain (day)
multi-engine dual (day)
multi-engine as captain (night)
multi-engine dual (night)
To No.36 OTU, 14 January 1944
To “Y” Depot, Lachine, 9 April 1944
Embarked from Halifax, 9 April 1944
Arrived in Britain, 7 May 1944
To No.60 OTU, 13 June 1944
To No.418 Squadron, 20 August 1944
Killed In Action (Day Ranger), 22 October 1944. Took off in Mosquito PZ198 from St. Dizier airfield, France & failed to return. Shot down about 1643 hours at Brunnthal, 11.5 kilometres south of Munchen-Rosenheim.
See Airforce magazine, Volume VII No.2 (June 1983)
Navigator/Radio Op. Noel Gibbons (RCAF) also killed
(Gibbons had claims with J Johnson, F Johnson & R Gray)
Training: His assessments indicate that in training he was considered average. However, once with No.1 (Canadian) Squadron he was counted as "above average.” On 14 June 1941, S/L A.D. Nesbitt wrote:
"An excellent pilot who has had considerable experience. In my opinion he is capable of flight command from the point of view of both ability and experience. Excellent type of officer."
By February 1942, however, he was showing signs of boredom and fatigue. He had sought a posting "East” (presumably to Malta) and this had been granted, then cancelled. It was suggested that he needed a change, and was thus posted back to Canada. Here he blossomed: on 15 September 1942, W/C G.R. McGregor wrote:
Ideally suited for present employment. Conscientious, reliable and energetic. Takes a pride in his unit and works hard to improve it. Has wide fighter experience. Has judgement and balance beyond his years, and a most likeable personality.
Late in 1942 and early 1943 he was on non-flying lists (sinus problems) but by April 1943 he had resumed his duties. There was some consideration of employing him on training duties, which seems to have been the reason he was sent to No.2 SFTS for refresher flying. On 2 December 1943 he wrote a letter to Director of Postings and Careers, saying, in part:
After approximately three weeks refresher training on Harvard aircraft at No.2 SFTS I am fully convinced that I am not of the necessary temperament to make a suitable service training instructor.
Three years of solo fighter work flying hours developed numerous operational characteristics to my flying. These are not only extremely difficult to overcome but would be most detrimental to any student under my instruction, who would be required to pass the precision standard of service flying.
The syllabus of service flying training is so thoroughly laid down, that I am certain I have nothing to offer in respect of my operational experience.
I am extremely desirous of returning to operational flying, preferably overseas or, failing that, to the Home War Establishment. I have had a nine-month rest from my last operational tour and have been boarded medically fit for all flying.
I have already had considerable twin-engine experience, the most recent being on P.38 Lightnings. The conversion period, therefore, would be exceptionally fast, particularly to Mosquitos whose characteristics are practically the same as the P.38. If given the opportunity to attend a Mosquito OTU I could easily and quickly qualify for either day or night intruder work. In my 27th year I am well within the age limit for any of these types of operations.
May these reasons be considered, Sir, in respect to a conversion to multi-engined operations."
Ottawa Pilot Downs Junkers
London, Nov. 8, 1941 - (CP Cable) – F/L K. A. Boomer,
Ottawa member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, shot down a Junkers 88,
while flying with a Canadian fighter squadron Friday.
He spotted the Nazi bomber as it emerged from a cloud heading home into
the dusk. It dodged behind another cloud and Boomer followed and pounced
on it when it appeared again.
The Canadian pilot said his gunfire caused pieces to come off the Nazi
plane, whose rear gunner was shooting wildly in desperation. The Junker
disappeared in a cloud for a moment and once more it was seen losing altitude.
A new burst of fire brought flames from one of the enemy's engines. Then
it spun downward and crashed into the sea.
Keen Canadian Fliers Delight His Majesty
(By LOUIS HUNTER) Somewhere in England, Nov. 14, 1941
- (CP Cable) - Canada's aces of the skies, young men who carry the air
offensive to enemy territory in fast fighter aircraft and powerful bombers
were reviewed Thursday by the King during the first visit His Majesty
has paid to R.C.A.F. squadrons formed under the Commonwealth Air Training
It was disclosed tonight that upon conclusion of his visit the King told
Air Commodore L. F. Stevenson, commander of the R.C.A.F. in Britain, that
he was delighted with the keenness of the Canadian airmen who are playing
such a vital role in Britain's increasing offensive against Germany.
His Majesty spent all day Thursday with the airmen — many of them
still in their 'teens — in a 150-mile tour which took him to six
R.A.F. stations, including the first station to be commanded by a Canadian,
Group Captain A. P. Campbell of Hamilton, Ont.
He chatted with many of the several hundred men there, inspected their
bombers and looked over the deadly Beaufighter which Wing Commander Paul Davoud of Kingston, Ont., was flying when he
shot down a Nazi night raider two weeks ago.
At each station the men stood stiffly at attention, either in their vast
hangers or on muddy roads while the King, in the uniform of marshal of
the Royal Air Force, accompanied by Air Commodore Stevenson and the squadron
commanders, carried out inspections, at the end of which the airmen cheered
Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, commander in chief of the Fighter
Command, took part in inspection of fighter pilots, and Air Marshal Sir
Richard Peirse, commander in chief of the Bomber Command, attended His
Majesty during inspection of the bomber crews.
The formality of the inspections was broken twice during the day. The
King paused for refreshments while visiting a Spitfire squadron commanded
by Squadron Leader Jack Morrison of Regina, and met fliers informally
at the officers' mess of Campbell's station, where he lunched.
A Hampden bomber wing led by Wing Commander N. W. Timmerman of Kingston,
Ont., the only Canadian wing commander who holds the Distinguished Service
Order, was the first unit visited by His Majesty. The King stepped from
his big black sedan and talked a few minutes with Timmerman before starting
his inspection; during which he shook hands with Squadron Leaders A. C.
P. Clayton of Vancouver, W. J. Burnett of Garden Creek, N.B. and other
squadron and flight commanders.
Hens and ducks cluttered around the King's car as he drove through a farmyard
to the airdrome where command of a Spitfire squadron has been taken over
by Squadron Leader Morrison in succession to Squadron Leader Chris Bushell
of Toronto, who is missing after a recent sweep over Northern France.
After inspection of this squadron, during which he chatted with Flight
Lieutenant C. T. Cantrell of Ottawa and Sergeants C. R. Olmstead of Ottawa
and T. M. Crane of Saskatoon, the King visited a dispersal hut. He stood
by a small Quebec heater and sipped tea and ate a biscuit, then smoked
a cigarette, while Morrison related the squadron's experiences.
Visits Night Fighters
His Majesty also met Hart Massey, the squadron's intelligence officer
and son of Hon. Vincent Massey, Canadian High Commissioner to London.
Before lunching at the Canadian station where the roadways bear such names
as Piccadilly, Alberta Avenue, Ottawa Street and Yukon Trail, the King
inspected the night fighter squadron of Wing Commander Davoud and met
Flight Lieutenant Bruce Hanbury of Vancouver, one of the most popular
officers in the squadron.
Squadron Leader P. B. Pitcher, who flies the Hurricane "Byng of Vimy,"
presented by Lady Byng in memory of Canada's former Governor-General,
commands another squadron reviewed by the King. His Majesty shook hands
with him and with Flight-Lieutenant Ken Boomer of Ottawa,
who shot down a German machine Nov. 7 and Flight-Lieutenant R. C. Weston
of Saint John, N.B.
The King concluded his tour with a visit to a Royal Air Force bomber squadron
which numbers a handful of Canadians among the crews of the Hampdens and
Manchesters, and to a station in the technical training command where
he saw airmen learning wireless signaling.
Lunch was prepared for the King by members of the Women's Auxiliary Air
Force posted at Group Captain Campbell's station. The menu consisted of
thick soup, roast chicken and custard tart, with; sherry and red and white
Group Captain Campbell sat on the King's right.
Scores First Victories
Ottawa, Dec. 4, 1941- (CP) - A newly formed Royal Canadian
Air Force fighter squadron, led by Squadron Leader P. B. Pitcher of Montreal,
has shot down one Messerschmitt 109 and damaged two more in recent sweeps
over France, R.C.A.F. Headquarters announced tonight,
The German aircraft first to be shot down by the squadron, fell before
the two cannon and four machine guns of a new Mark V Spitfire flown by
Pilot Officer R. W. McNair of North Battleford,
"I was on a sweep and saw a number of Messerschmitts below me,"
said McNair in a report. "I dived on them and saw they were circling
a pilot in the sea. I picked one out and gave him a three-second burst.
I overshot him and pulling away. I saw him go into the sea. This took
place over Boulogne. The pilot did not bale out.
"I climbed again and turned for home. Then a Jerry dived on me from
out of the sun, his fire hitting my engine. My cockpit filled with smoke
and the enemy overshot me. He came around directly in front of me. It
was my turn then and I gave him a burst and saw hits registering. His
hood came off. Only my starboard guns were firing now and flames were
coming out of the cockpit. So I put my nose down.”
"Finding my engine cutting out I baled into the sea. I got rid of
my parachute immediately upon touching the water and had no trouble inflating
my dinghy. I was picked up fifteen minutes later by a sea rescue motorboat."
McNair trained at Toronto, Windsor and Kingston and worked for Canadian
Airways before enlisting, the Air Force said.
The squadron's first engagement was described by Squadron Leader Pitcher:
"On a day sweep over France we were jumped by a number of Messerschmitt
109's. From then on it was everybody's individual party with only sections
managing to keep together. Two Huns dropped down on Flight Lieutenant
Boomer's tail, but he shook them off and managed to get in a squirt at
one of them."
Flight Lieutenant K. A. Boomer of Ottawa is the leader
of a flight of the squadron, the air force said. He came from the University
of Toronto to the R.C.A.F. three months before war broke out.
Squadron Leader Pitcher joined No. 115 Auxiliary Squadron in Montreal
in 1935. He was a junior partner in the law firm of Mann, Lefleur &
Brown until war started. He went overseas with one of the first fighter
squadrons and shot down a Messerschmitt while with that unit.
Sergeant Pilot J. D. McFarlane, Calais, Maine, who trained at Prince Albert,
Regina and Ottawa, described his part in the squadron's initial scrap:
"I felt a sudden explosion under me and I felt a hit on my leg. My
cockpit filled with grey smoke. I wasn't certain whether I was being attacked
by enemy aircraft or flak. Looking at my wings, I saw a number of small
holes in them, and the port wing was covered with oil.
Bails Out Safely
"I headed for the English coast and about two minutes later my engine
stopped. I was up about 23,000 feet when the fun started so I glided down.
"A Rhodesian squadron leader covered me all the way back. At about
half a mile from the coast I slowed down and baled out. I landed between
Dover and Folkestone about 200 yards inland. My leg wound was only slight
and I was flying two days later."
"B" flight of the squadron is led by Flight Lieutenant R. C.
Weston of De Marts Street West, Saint John, N.B., who saw action with
a Royal Air Force squadron earlier in the war. He bagged a Heinkel and
a Dornier while with his first squadron. The new Spitfires are popular
with the Canadian fighter pilots. "There's nothing like them,"
said Pilot Officer J. R. Coleman, Waterloo Street, Saint John, one of
the newest members of the unit.
Sergeant Pilot F. E. Green is from Toronto.
Two Enemy Submarines Hit When Caught near Harbour Surface
Alaskan Defence Command, Sept. 28, 1942 — (Delayed
- CP) — First announced success of a Canadian pilot in operations
against the Japanese in the Aleutian islands, S/L Kenneth Boomer
of Ottawa, blasted a Japanese fighter out of the air in last Friday's
American - Canadian raid on Kiska, it was disclosed today.
Led By Veteran
S/L Boomer, a veteran of the Battle of Britain, led the Canadian
airmen who joined a strong force of United States army fighters and bombers
who attacked the Japanese. Before returning to Canada he shot down a German
plane in November, 1941.
Two enemy submarines in Kiska harbour were believed damaged by the joint
allied force which caught them on or near the surface, United States air
force officers said.
One submarine came up directly underneath a squadron headed by Lieut-Col.
Jack Chennault, son of Brig.-Gen. Claire L. Chennault, former leader of
the American volunteer group Flying Tigers who fought in China.
Chennault proceeded to strafe the submersible himself. Meanwhile, he ordered
his fighter squadron into a combat circle around the surprised submarine.
One Ship Beached
Each of nine planes made three strafing attacks on the undersea ship which
rolled on the surface, apparently afraid to dive because of a number of
holes in it.
(A Washington navy communique in announcing the Friday raid said yesterday
that in addition to the submarines two transports or cargo ships were
attacked at Kiska and one was beached. It said the attack was carried
out by a strong force of bombers and pursuit planes.)
A second squadron of fighters led by Major Wilbur Miller used similar
tactics after sighting another submarine. Although results of this attack
were not definitely known, the submarine was seen to be sinking slowly
and may have been mortally hit.
Shore Targets Hit
Chennault also got one of the Japanese float plane fighters which rose
to greet the raiders.
Both Americans and Canadians who have been itching for action during months
of patrol and guard work over Alaskan posts, took part in the raid.
S/L Kenneth Boomer of Ottawa, leader of the Canadians, sent a third
fighter spinning into the bay. In addition, the raiding force struck at
seaplanes on the water. Air force reports said at least five and possibly
more were destroyed.
Shore installations were also hit with fighter planes going in low ahead
of the bombers and strafing positions violently.
The P-40s of 111 Sq. lined up at Chiniak Field, Kodiak Island, Alaska. 'BITSA', coded "I" in the foreground, is purported to be the craft Boomer was flying when he downed the Japanese "Rufe" floatplane fighter
Canadians in Kiska Attack Led by Doughty Ottawa Flier
Alaska Defense Command Headquarters,
Sept. 29, 1942 — Squadron Leader Kenneth Boomer, R.C.A.F.,
who commanded the Canadian fighters which joined the United States
Air Forces in the attack on Japanese submarines and planes in Kiska
harbor last Friday, is a native of Ottawa. He is personally credited
with one Japanese plane to add to his overseas bag of a German bomber,
an assist in the destruction of a Messerschmitt and damage to three
other Nazi aircraft.
Squadron Leader Boomer, who is 24 years of age, is a son of Mr.
and Mrs. Frank Boomer of Ottawa, and he attended Ottawa schools
and later graduated from Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph.
He joined the R.C.A.F. in October, 1939, and proceeded overseas
in October, 1940. He saw considerable action with fighter squadrons
and returned to Canada this year, being posted to Alaska after a
The combined American-Canadian attack was most successful,
two submarines being attacked heavily by cannon and machine-gun by fighter
planes before they crash-dived. While the extent of their damage was impossible
to ascertain it is certain that it was heavy. The communique stated that
in addition it was estimated that 150 Japanese had been killed or wounded
and extensive damage was inflicted on various aircraft.
The attack resulted in the destruction of several Japanese single float
fighters, the possible wrecking of eight cruiser type biplanes and the
shooting down of three Japanese fighters which attempted to oppose the
attacking forces. A merchant ship was set on fire and another was damaged.
The combined attacking squadron returned undamaged.
S/L Ken Boomer stands in front of a Curtis P-40 Fighter
Aleutian Japs Lose 22 Planes to Allies' One
Headquarters Alaska Defence Command, Oct. 6, 1942 —
(Delayed - AP) — American and Canadian fighter pilots who never
saw Japanese planes in the air before September 1 have finished their
first month of combat against the Nipponese invaders with the remarkable
average of 22 enemy planes downed for every one lost.
This figure was revealed today by Col. Phineas K. Morrill, commanding
all fighter units in the Aleutian area.
Details of the 30 days of combat strengthen the theory that Canadian and
United States pilots when given any kind of a break are more than a match
for the Japanese.
The Canadians are under the Command of Sqdn. Leader Ken Boomer of Ottawa,
who has one Japanese plane to his credit.
Aerial Warriors of Two Nations Patrol Alaskan Skies
By FLYING OFFICER C. M. DEFIEUX, R.C.A.F., A Point on
the Alaska Highway, Nov. 20, 1942 — Unity, born of historic good-neighborliness
is flying the foggy and storm-swept skies of Alaska and its Aleutian Islands
and that unity is grim foreboding to the Japanese invaders of the United
Staten' and Canada's continental home.
The first retaliatory blows have been struck. Their might will mount in
strength and tempo.
Wing-tip to wing-tip the aerial warriors of the United States and the
Royal Canadian Air Force will battle the last Jap for the Aleutians —
Although they retain their identity and cherished traditions, the Royal
Canadian Air Force units in Northwestern Alaska and the Aleutians operate
under the United States Command directing that sphere of operations under
the United Nations unified command.
And their services and fighting ability are valued highly. Their role
in defense of Alaska's shores and the mountain offense is a vital one.
Daily they range the Alaskan skies flying through fog, rain, snow and
ice. Daily they perform the hazardous reconnaissance operations far out
to sea or over the tundra-like wastes. Daily they keep vigil above the
lofty, snow-sloped volcanoes of the Aleutian Peninsula and the rocky chain
of islands stretching far to the west.
There have been weeks and months when the grim weather, such as the Aleutians,
Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska can alone foment, has combined with tactical
necessity to render offensive action impossible.
Those have been days of long and arduous patrols. Those have been days
of dangerous flying not without their human cost. The job has been done
and done well under terrific weather handicaps.
Canada's fliers have shared in the tribulations of those days with their
But the offensive blows are increasing in tempo. The Royal Canadian Air
Force is sharing in that too.
Bags First Zero
Already Japanese fliers and ground troops have fallen before the deadly
fire of Canadian pilots flying in complete operational co-operation with
United States forces.
The first Japanese Zero encountered by a Canadian crashed into the seas
off Kiska after its pilot challenged the ability of the veteran fighter,
Squadron Leader K. A. Boomer, Ottawa.
The Nipponese have learned to respect the fighting prowess of such pilots
as Squadron Leader Boomer, Flight Lieutenant H. T. Mitchell, D.F.C., of
Ottawa; Flying Officer J. G. Gohl, Winnipeg; Pilot Officer D. F. English,
Vancouver; Flight Sergeant F. R. F. Skelly, Kirkland Lake; Flight Sergeant
G. R. Webber, Killarney, Manitoba; Sergeant Pilot N. Stusiak, Powell River,
B.C.; Sergeant Pilot A. A. Katkins, Regina, and others who have given
While they are under the direction of the United States in their operational
work, the R.C.A.F. units are headed by one of the service's most experienced
and popular officers.
One of the heroes of the Battle of Britain, Group Captain G. R. McGregor, D.F.C., is carrying wide experience with him into the battle of the Aleutians
and Northwestern Alaska.
Going overseas with No. 1 Fighter Squadron of the R.C.A.F., Group Captain
McGregor was second in command to Group Captain E. McNab, D.F.C. Later
he commanded a large Royal Air Force station, after which he joined the
staff of Air Vice-Marshal L. F. Stevenson when that officer directed R.C.A.F.
headquarters overseas. He is again serving under Air Vice-Marshal Stevenson,
who is now air officer commanding, Western Air Command.
Group Captain McGregor is married and makes his home in Kingston, where,
before the war, he was associated with the Bell Telephone Co. and was
prominent in civil aviation.
Morale is high among Canada's airmen in Northwestern Alaska. They speak
glowingly of the cooperation and kindnesses of their American allies,
the friendliness between all ranks and the quality of the fishing.
Whether they are stationed at the larger bases or are under canvas out
on the tundras or down in the islands, Canada's airmen share all the comforts
and recreational facilities provided by United States service organizations
for their own troops.
Fliers Seek Gold
"If the folks at home could see me now," they chortle as they
wash their own clothes in the glacial streams that flow through the tundra.
The lads in the outposts also find amusement in spearing fish and there's
some who've even tried panning gold — although not with much success.
Alaskans, too, have taken them to their hearts. There's no distinction
made between the Canadian and the American by the hardy settlers of that
far northern country. Canadian boys who have spent short leaves on hiking
trips through the country also report meeting many former Canadians
Those are the times when the logs burn brightly in the fireplaces and
the hosts loose a barrage of questions about their former homeland "outside."
Canada's airmen are agreed on the hospitality of Alaska and its people.
But they are agreed with most unanimity when they talk about the weather.
Pilots, mechanics, clerks and messmen agree vehemently on that point.
And the United States fliers stand ready to add their word too.
There are some sunny summer days, of course, but taking the whole Northwestern
Alaska and the Aleutians together — well — and the winter
is still to come. America’s best meteorologists stationed there
do their best to forecast, but their job is a nightmare.
They even tell of the meteorologist who, in the seclusion of his inner
office, one morning rejoiced in a "clean" weather map of his
area and was ready to don a sun helmet. He stepped outside to be almost
drowned by the rain, looked up and screamed, "It's a lie!"
Now that may be an exaggeration, but there's plenty of fliers up there
who will nod understandingly at the story.
"Pretty tricky," is the way Flying Officer J. B. Morgan, Montreal,
describes the weather. "It's hard to forecast. The weather is made
north of us. On the East Coast you could tell reasonably well. The mountains
make conditions even worse. They're covered 80 per cent of the time. Believe
me, a clear day at sea is a rarity."
He gets firm support in his weather exposition from Squadron Leader C.
A. (Chuck) Willis, Sherbrooke, Que., also a flier of wide experience on
the East Coast.
"The toughest weather I've ever seen," Pilot Officer Jack Attle,
Sudbury, Ont., described it. "You can always count on a thrill."
Then there's 21-year-old Flying Officer Harry Bray, Blyth, Ont., who had
the thrill of spending more than two hours looking for a place to "sit
down" at the end of a patrol. He finally got in on an emergency field
at 12:30 midnight with the aid of the headlights of two caterpillar tractors
to mark the end of the short gravel runways.
Pilot Officer James B. (Joe) Doak, Cowansville, Que., simply said "the
weather can be improved upon."
He was immediately voted all existing awards for understatement by fellow-members
of the mess, including Pilot Officer John H. Brown, observer, from Orillia;
Pilot Officer Beverly W. Bristol, Douglastown, N.Y.; Pilot Officer Harold
C. Paynter, Toronto, and Flying Officer Donald E. Arnold, Salina, Kansas.
Flight Sergeant Robert Skelding, Montreal, whose wife is residing in Vancouver
while her husband is in Alaska, offered a comparison with flying conditions
in Britain, where he also served as an airframe mechanic.
"This weather is grim. It's much safer flying over there, believe
me. Everything seems against you here. It closes in on you so fast, and
leaves you stranded."
While they decry the weather, Canada's airmen are equally vociferous in
praise of the co-operation afforded by the Americans.
"We can get anything we want from them," declared Flying Officer
W. M. Lord, Ottawa, engineer officer, who entered the Royal Canadian Air
Force in 1930.
Even more emphatic were Flight Lieutenant Douglas G. Hair, Montreal, equipment
officer; Flying Officer W. Burgess, Vancouver, accountant officer, and
Flight Lieutenant Ian Webb, M.M., Gulfport, Miss., former British Army
officer of the last war, and now an administrative officer with the R.C.A.F.
"While we are supplied through our own forces, there are, naturally,
some things that are needed in a great hurry," declared Flight Lieutenant
Webb. "The United States forces bend over backward to help us. And
they do much too, to keep our boys happy. They are as fine a bunch of
fellows you would meet anywhere."
As for the fellowship of American soldiers with the airmen of the Royal
Canadian Air Force, there is a wealth of tribute.
"They're swell," declared Leading Aircraftman James Albrecht,
Lacombe, Alta., and Leading Aircraftman Clifford Blow, St. Andrews, Man.,
nodded his assent. "They certainly show us a good tune," declared
Leading Aircraftman Phillip J. C. Beerman, Deepdale, Man.
That they had made a host of lasting friendships was reported by Leading
Aircraftman Jack Fordham, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.; Corporal Neil B. Saunders,
New Westminster, B.C.; Leading Aircraftman George Manchester, River Glade,
N.B.; Leading Aircraftman Earl W. McIntyre, Kemptville, Ont.
"They're really awfully good to us," declared Flight Lieutenant
R. A. Murray, Rosthern, Sask. "They have not a privilege that is
not extended to our men.
Report Health Good
The health and morale of Canada's forces in the far reaches of Alaska
are probably best summed up by Flight Lieutenant Herbert B. McGregor,
Penticton, B.C., one of the medical officers.
"Generally speaking, the health is good," declared Flight Lieutenant
McGregor. "There were lots of colds when we arrived some months ago,
but they're better now.
"The health of the men is remarkably good considering the climate
and the flying conditions some have got to work under. There are no contagious
"The food is good too. From a Royal Canadian Air Force dietary standpoint
it is a bit starchy, but that is the trend in the United States. The boys
don't seem to mind. Sanitation is good even at the outpost detachments.
Medical attention is available at all times to all personnel no matter
where they are serving.
"The boys' morale is quite good too, I think, though they are badly
in need of mail, pictures and clippings from their home-town papers,
"Snapshots are a Godsend; I don't think they need parcels.
"There's a question about mail though, I think should be brought
up. People at home write about a lot of problems which, if they were smart,
they'd leave out. The lad gives his advice, and then it takes nearly a
month to get an answer and he worries.
"If the folks at home would only wait a few days and let these problems
iron themselves out, or if they phrased their letters differently, everything
would be all right.
"Tell the folks outside not to dwell on the fact that they miss the
boys too badly. Of course they miss them. And we miss them too. But don't
"If they'd just stop and think when they write, the boys would be
even more happy," concluded the doctor.
Canada's airmen are doing a big job well in Northwestern Alaska.
"Let's start swinging," seems to be their chorus.
They've got the punch.
The Japs are beginning to feel it. They won't like it any more than their
Axis partners over in Europe.
Credited officially with shooting down ten German aircraft
in the last Great War, Group Captain G. E. Nash of Welland, who finally
was shot down himself by the vaunted German ace Baron Von Richthofen,
is now senior personnel staff officer at No. 3 Training Command, R.C.A.F.,
A former president of the Welland Rotary club, Group Captain Nash was
raised to his present rank on taking over his new duties at Montreal.
At the outbreak of war he was posted to No. 3 Manning Depot, Toronto,
as flight lieutenant.
In the last war, he enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service in 1915 and
was attached to No. 10 Naval Squadron of the old flying corps in France.
He was one of the five fighter pilots who made up the Black Flight Squadron
under Flight Cmdr. Sir Raymond Collishaw, now in service with the R.A.F.
Group Captain Nash was a prisoner of war for 18 months.
AIR FORCE DUTY IN NORTH SEEMS QUIET TO BOOMER
Veteran of Two Sectors Has Press Conference
Shot Down Both German and Japanese Planes
Ottawa, Dec. 22, 1942 — (CP) — Things are
quieter on Air Force duty in Alaska, than they are in Britain, S/L
Kenneth Boomer, of Ottawa, said at a press conference here to-day.
A veteran of air Warfare in two sectors who has shot down both German
and Japanese planes, 25-year-old Boomer is home for a month following
a slight operation and expects to resume command of a Canadian fighter
squadron stationed in Alaska when his leave expires.
Weather conditions in Alaska and the Aleutian islands make for less flying
than is possible overseas, he said. For days at a time flying stops altogether.
S/L Boomer accounted for a Japanese Zero plane when leading his squadron,
escorting American Liberator bombers in an attack on the Japanese Aleutian
base at Kiska some time ago. The attackers encountered three Zeros that
day and all three were shot down, the other two by American pilots. Boomer
commanded a mixed group of American and Canadian fighters for the operation.
The Japanese use Kiska mainly as a submarine base, Boomer said. He expressed
doubt if the base were of value for anything else.
"We saw four or five submarines the day we made the attack,"
he said. “We strafed them but I don't know whether we caused any
From his limited contact with the Japanese, he said, he was unable to
compare their planes and fighting ability with the Germans he fought over
Britain and France. His overseas record includes two enemy planes destroyed
and three damaged.
He said he got the Jap Zero from underneath when it was attempting to
attack the American bombers.
The Canadian air units in Alaska are under American command for general
orders. Canadian airmen enjoy American rations and are "generally
happy, although most of them would prefer to be overseas."
Mail service was poor but Canadians got news by radio. They were able
to tune in on Canadian and American stations and frequently could hear
the Japanese broadcasts.
His fighter squadron has shifted its base a number of times since Boomer
took command last August. He said all Japanese planes operate from carriers
or floats since the Japanese have no landing field at Kiska.
Doings in the Foggy Skies Where Canadians
Carry On Watchful Patrol to Check Japs
Central Ontario is well represented among the aerial
fighters and bombers serving in the wintry darkness of the Arctic, the
land of fog, gales, tundra, glacier-studded mountains and barren volcanic
rocks, according to a Canadian Press feature released this week.
F/O C. B. Tinsley, F/S Arthur J. Rathbone and L.A.C. William Manzer are
Hamilton airmen serving in these districts.
Here they fly wing to wing with the United States flyers, blasting loose
the slender grip the Japanese now hold on the extreme tip of the tenuous
chain of islands known as the Aleutians.
The weather is grim but the boys keep cheerful and are happy in the knowledge
that they have a front-line position against the enemy from Nippon. They
loudly sing their praise of the cooperation shown by the United States
The food is good, they share with the Americans the visits of stars of
stage and screen and they enjoy all the privileges of entertainment and
recreation of the United States forces.
But it is a long way from home and the greatest of all joys is when the
mail from home is distributed.
The first Japanese Zero fighter encountered by a Canadian crashed into
the sea off Kiska after its pilot challenged the ability of the veteran
fighter, S/L K. A. Boomer of Ottawa, who now is home on sick leave.
Since this first encounter the Canadians in the far northwestern stations,
in co-operation with the U.S. air squadrons, have unleashed many a heavy
blow at the Japanese.
The Jap has found the foggy and stormy skies his greatest ally. Much of
the bad weather makes up across the Pacific and then comes this way. He
has a chart much the same as the allies have of the Atlantic and the North
Sea before it hits Germany.
Back of the mountains and up the Alaska Highway huge aerial transports
are also winging their way north, many of the pilots being Canadian bush
flyers of long standing.
BOOMER, S/L Kenneth Arthur (C1220) - Air Medal (United States) - Alaska
Award effective 23 December 1942 as per AFRO 272/43 dated 19 February
Cited in this instance with F/O J.G. Gohl, P/O H.O.Gooding,
and F/O R. Lynch.
On 25th September 1942, they voluntarily flew with United
States Army combat pilots, accompanying heavy bombers in making a hazardous
five hundred mile overwater flight in order to press home an attack on
the enemy at Kiska Island, Alaska. Although the mission of protecting
the bombing planes from anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters was completed,
the fighters returned to strafe all enemy installations with remarkable
success. All planes returned safely to base.
Honors List Includes Names of 134 Airmen
Ottawa, Dec 31, 1942 - (GP) - The following awards to
134 members of the R.C.A.F. were announced in the New Years honor list
COMPANION OF THE MOST HONORABLE ORDER OF THE BATH
Air Marshal Lloyd Samuel Breadner DSC Chief of Air Staff, 48, Ottawa.
Group Capt. G. R. McGregor DFC, Western Air Command, 41, Montreal.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
S/L N. E. Small, Eastern Air Command, 34, (born in Allandale). Wife lives
in Dartmouth, NS.
S/L K. A. Boomer, Western Air Command, 26, Mrs. Lorna J. Boomer (wife)
524 Golden Avenue, Ottawa.
F/O M. J. Belanger, Eastern Air Command, 23, Ralph Roche Belanger (father)
BOOMER, S/L Kenneth Arthur (C1220) - DFC - No.111 Squadron (Canada)
Award effective 1 January 1943 as per Canada Gazette of that date and
AFRO 55/43 dated 15 January 1943.
This officer is in command of a fighter squadron on detached
operations in Alaska. Inspired by his unflagging zeal and devotion to
duty, his squadron has maintained a consistently high standard of efficiency
under difficult and trying conditions. He has displayed great qualities
of courage and determination in seeking out the enemy and his flying skill
has been responsible for the excellent work done by his squadron on coastal
patrol duties in action against the enemy. He was the first RCAF pilot
to make direct contact with the enemy and in so doing gave an exceptionally
good account of himself. His services on fighter operations have been
This award was recommended on 8 December 1942 by G/C A.D. Hull, Senior Air Staff Officer, Western Air Command. Submission read:
This officer has displayed energy and keenness in fitting his squadron for operational work and on September 25th 1942 he and three of his pilots formed part of a U.S. Fighter formation acting as escort to a Bomber operation from Fort Glenn to Kiska in the Aleutian Islands. This officer was credited with shooting down one of the two enemy aircraft destroyed during this operation. In addition he has destroyed one German aircraft in operations overseas and assisted in the destruction of another.
FLYING OFFICERS ATTACKED SUBS, AWARDED DFC
Sank Three Enemy Craft Off Nova Scotia Coast
Daring and Courageous Acts Are Cited
Ottawa, Jan. 4, 1943 — (CF) — Successes in
submarine hunting on the Atlantic coast and in fighting against the Japanese
in Alaska and the Aleutian islands were the basis for three awards of
the Distinguished Flying Cross in the New Year's honours list, air force
headquarters revealed today.
Citations for the awards showed that Sqdn. Ldr. Norville E. Small, of
Dartmouth, N.S., attacked five enemy submarines, three successfully; that
F/O Maurice J. Belanger, of Vancouver, attacked three, damaging one, probably
sinking a second and possibly sinking a third; and that Sqdn. Ldr. Kenneth
Boomer, of Ottawa, was the first R.C.A.F. pilot to make contact with the
enemy in the Alaska area. Following are the citations:
Sqdn. Ldr. Small:
"This officer has displayed outstanding airmanship, courage and devotion
to duty on operational flying in the face of the enemy over the sea off
the coast of Nova Scotia. During the last few months he has carried out
five attacks on enemy submarines carrying armament considerably superior
to that of the aircraft. Three of these attacks were successful; two of
the successful attacks were made within a recent period of six days on
fully surfaced submarines with decks manned.
"In the course of 335 hours' operational flying during the last four
months, this officer has on several occasions distinguished himself by
his initiative and by the completion of difficult tasks under adverse
weather conditions; in particular he has been of prime assistance in effecting
more than one sea rescue of survivors of sunken or damaged vessels."
"This officer has completed a total of 1,200 hours flying. His devotion
to duty has set an example and has been a source of inspiration to the
members of his squadron. In addition to demonstrating his ability as navigator
and pilot he has carried out three attacks against U-boats, inflicting
damage on one, probably sinking a second and possibly sinking a third.
"Two of these attacks took place within a period of 18 hours, during
which time he was on continuous duty. During one attack, which was carried
out at night, he displayed tenacity of purpose, courage and skill when,
taking advantage of occasional moonlight, he pressed home a good attack
at extremely low level."
Sqdn. Ldr. Boomer:
"This officer is in command of a fighter squadron on detached operations
in Alaska. Inspired by his unflagging zeal and devotion to duty, his squadron
has maintained a consistently high standard of efficiency under difficult
and trying conditions. He has displayed great qualities of courage and
determination in seeking out the enemy, and his flying skill has been
responsible for the excellent work done by his squadron on coastal patrol
duties in action against the enemy.
"He was the first R.C.A.F. pilot to make direct contact with the
enemy, and in so doing gave an exceptionally good account of himself.
His services on fighter operations have been invaluable."
Naval, Air Decorations Awarded For Courage, Devotion
Ottawa, Jan. 4, 1943 - (CP) - Telling blows against the
enemy's sea power and courage and devotion to duty in the face of blows
by the enemy were cited today as reasons for some of the decorations awarded
to naval and air personnel in the New Year's honors list.
Naval Service Headquarters made public the citations for more than 60
"operational" awards in the New Year's list and Air Force Headquarters
released citations for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to
S/L Kenneth Boomer of Ottawa, S/L Norville E. Small of Dartmouth, N.S.,
and F/O Maurice Belanger of Vancouver.
S/L Small was credited with five attacks on submarines, three of them
successful, within the last few months. He showed courage in attacking
surfaced submarines which carried armament superior to that of his aircraft,
the citation said. He was credited with assisting in more than one rescue
of survivors of sunken or damaged vessels.
F/O Belanger was reported to have "carried out three attacks against
U-boats, inflicting damage on one, probably sinking a second, and possibly
sinking a third."
The other D.F.C. recipient, S/L Boomer, was described as the first R.C.A.F.
pilot to make contact with the enemy in the Alaskan area. He commands
a fighter squadron whose "consistently high standard of efficiency
under difficult and trying conditions" is attributed to his "unflagging
zeal and devotion to duty."
More General Terms
The navy's citations were general in terms and seldom gave details of
specific acts of valor. They mentioned performances of individuals in
such important naval incidents as to the torpedoing of the Canadian destroyer
Saguenay and its limping voyage to port, the capture of the German merchant
ship Weser, the destruction of the German merchantmen Hermonthis and Munchen,
the sinking of the Newfoundland-Nova Scotia car ferry Caribou, the evacuation
of France, and the prolonged fight waged by the destroyer Skeena and other
Canadian warships against a submarine wolf pack in defense of an Atlantic
The one woman to receive an operational naval award was Nursing Dietitian
Margaret M. Brooke of Ardath, Sask., who was given the rank of Officer
of the Order of the British Empire for courage while attempting to save
the life of another nursing sister after the sinking of the Newfoundland
ferry Caribou. (Nursing Sister Agnes Wilkie of Winnipeg lost her life
in the torpedo-sinking of the Caribou.)
Post-Date New Year List
Sqdn. Ldr. Roger Relton Goodbody, formerly of Vancouver, has been named
an Officer of the British Empire and F/O Gordon James Gow of Lethbridge
has been appointed a Member of the British Empire, R.C.A.F. headquarters
The brief official statement said these awards are additions to the New
Year's honors list made public previously.
Sqdn. Ldr Goodbody, stationed in the Middle East with the R.A.F., was
born in Vancouver in December, 1913. His next of kin is his mother Mrs.
Sturge Goodbody, of Oxford.
F/O Gow R.C.A.F. was born in Alberta 21 years ago and now is stationed
in South Africa. His next of kin is his mother, Mrs. E. Gow, of South
Air Force Casualties
Ottawa, Dec. 4, 1944 - The Department of National Defense
for Air today issued casualty list No. 1057 of the Royal Canadian Air
Force, showing net of kin of those named from Ontario include :
Missing After Air Operations
BOOMER, Kenneth Arthur, DFC, S/L Mrs. K.A. Boomer (wife), 524 Golden
GIBBONS, Noel. DFC, Flt.-Lt. West Vancouver, B.C.
Victories Include :
|7 Nov 1941
25 Sep 1942
22 Oct 1944
one u/i e/a
one u/i e/a
111 Sq. (Aleutians)
plus apparently 3 more damaged
3 / 0 / 4
* "I climbed to a stall practically, pulled up right under him. I just poured it into him from underneath. He flamed up and went down."
The Japanese pilot was seen to jump from his burning plane just before it hit the water. He was not wearing a parachute.
"Victory Over Kiska" © by Rich Thistle - Aleutian Islands, 25 Sept. 1942, Ken Boomer of 111 Sq. RCAF - but fighting
with the USAAF's 11 Sq. & their "extra" planes - downs an A6M2-N
"Rufe" Float plane over Kiska to become the only Canadian to shoot an enemy
plane out of North American skies and the only RCAF plane to down a Japanese plane