Beverley Evans "Bev" Christmas

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Crew Pastes Ace of Spades In ‘Deadeye Dick's' Plane

(By D. E. Burritt) With the Royal Canadian Air Force in Scotland, Jan. 6, 1941 - (CP) - The alarm bell sounded somewhere across the muddy field and three youths in blue jumpers, rubber boots and woolen toques leaped down from inspecting the Hurricane's motor. There was a momentary flurry which ended with one lad in the cockpit and the other two standing by, a drizzling rain beating in their faces. Suddenly the plane began roaring, a red flare shot into the air and. pilots appeared from nowhere.
The two men standing on the ground grabbed a parachute that had been left handy on the wing of the plane and helped harness it on to the tall youth with fair, wavy hair who came racing across the mud, wearing his regular uniform, sheep-lined boots and yellow life jacket.
In the cockpit the other youth in overalls sat nursing the motor until the pilot climbed up on the wing and was ready to squeeze into the narrow seat. In a couple of seconds F/O B. D. Russel of Montreal was strapped to his seat and, with his head and face covered by helmet and oxygen mask, sent his plane plowing through mud and Water that bordered the airport.
As the Hurricane was joined by two others, piloted by F/L Bev Christmas and F/O G. G. (Kewpie) Hyde, both of Montreal, another flare warned hovering aircraft to keep their distance, The flight turned suddenly into the wind and roared away like a clap of thunder.
The alarm had been sounded only as an exercise. It was just an every-day occurrence, and they came back again, disappointed at failing to sight the enemy.
Russel's plane was wheeled back into "action" position and one of the ground crew pulled out a duster to wipe away the mud from a spot on the fuselage to reveal a playing card — the ace of spades.
The card was pasted and shellacked there by the ground crew who hoped it would bring "plenty of luck" to Russel, to whom they referred as "Deadeye Dick." There was no special reason for the pseudonym, other than "he's brought down some Jerries and has won the D.F.C. But they didn't apply it in front of Russel. “He might not like it, because he's a very modest chap.”
Russel had leaped from the plane and had disappeared only a few seconds before the crew were back on their perches, again examining everything from engine to rudder. "This is one part of the game where no chances are taken," explained one youth, his face hidden by a mask of grease and black oil. "This crate gets more attention than a spoiled baby."
After watching the crew at work you readily understand what the rigger meant. And if you didn't, Leading Aircraftman Victor King of Westmount, Que., was ready to explain further. In his quiet way king told of his duties as "fitter," especially when the plane returned from battle.
Numerous patches where bullets had punctured the fabric were outlined by the 20-year-old "fitter" who rammed his long screwdriver into the leg of is his rubber boot and used both hands to measure off a big square section that had been blown out by a cannon shell. He was pretty indignant about that and smoothed over the patch as if it were newly added. But he found some solace in something he had been told.
"I don't think we'll be bothered by many more of those," he said, "now that we're adding cannon to our fighters."


Born at St.Hilaire, Quebec, November 1919.
Educated in Westmount and at Lakefield School.
Joined RCAF, 3 January 1939.
Flew with No.1 (Can) Squadron during the Battle of Britain
Sent to North Africa in November 1941.
Attached to RAF and South African Air Force.
Shot down in January 1942 but parachuted to safety.
Attached to South African Air Force for liaison duties
in South Africa itself, May 1942.
DHist file 181.009 D.1636 (RG.24 Vol.20604) has application
for Operational Wings dated 11 February which indicates
80 hours ten minutes flown with No.1 (F) Squadron
(January 1940 to April 1941) &
50 hours ten minutes with 403 Sq. (May to September 1941)
Middle East service was with
No.4 SAAF Squadron on Tomahawks (Nov.'41 to March 1942,
112 hours five minutes) and
thirteen hours with No.260 Squadron (March to 5 May 1942).
Total of 171 sorties.
Subsequently served at Patricia Bay.
In June 1944 attended RCAF Staff College.
Then posted to No.126 Wing.
Returned to Canada in December 1945 and
Stayed in the postwar air force.
Duties included;
Command of Station Bagotville (June 1951 to February 1954)
Followed by much service with NATO,
Returning to Canada in August 1957.
Awarded Queen's Coronation Medal, 23 October 1953
while a Wing Commander at North Bay.
When he retired (March 1973) he was the last Battle of
Britain veteran in the RCAF.


Group Captain Campbell, Hamilton Officer, in Attendance

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."

Enjoying Visit
Obviously enjoying his visit to the great station, the Prime Minister chatted with young flyers standing beside their Spitfires, Hurricanes and Beaufighters.
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 radio telephone.
"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 force.
"The people of Canada follow with pride and thankfulness your gallant exploits. Your bravery and courage are known to them."

Pleasing Plan
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 Dallas, Tex.
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.


A group of 403 Squadron Fighter Pilots (1941)

Back row : P/O Derick Colvin, (RAF); P/O Cryil Wood, (RAF); F/L Ted Cathelo of Vancouver, B.C.; S/L Tony Lee-Knight, (RAF, KIA); F/L B. S. Christmas, of Montreal, Que.; P/O Phil Carrillo of New York City; P/O Don Ball of Edmonton, Alta.; F/O L. E. Price of Quebec City, Que.; P/O L.S. Ford of Liverpool N.S.; F/O S. J. Peeson of Singapore, S.S.;

Front row (Left to right) : Sgt. Charlie Grigg of Mount Brydges, Ont.; Sgt. Lawrence Soanes (RAF); Sgt. John Rainville of St. Johns, Que.; Sgt. Hugh Belcher of Roblin, Man.; F/O C. A. Hyde Bray, (RAF); Sgt. Eric Crist of Wallaceburg, Ont.; Sgt. Ken Collinson of Niagara Falls, Ont.; Sgt. Jack Ryckman of London, Ont.; Sgt. Doug Granham of Winnipeg, Man.


CHRISTMAS, S/L Beverly Evans (C925) - Mention in Dispatches
Award effective 1 January 1943 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 232/43 dated 12 February 1943.

No citation to MiD.


Victories Include :

31 Aug 1940
1 Sep 1940
11 Sep 1940
27 Sep 1940
5 Oct 1940
one Me109
one Do17
one He111
1/3 Ju88
one Me109


2.33 / 0 / 2

[a] Claimed as a Do215, "Aces High" says Do17
[b] Shared with Ernie McNab & Ed "DaPeyster" Brown


21 Canadian Airmen Decorated by Czechs

Ottawa, Jan. 23, 1948 - (CP) - Recognizing the co-operation between Canadian and Czech fliers during the war, Czechoslovakia has conferred decorations on 21 serving and retired members of the RCAF, it was announced tonight.
The Czechoslovak War Cross, 1939, was awarded to five officers, all of whom served in the Battle of Britain. The Czech Medal for Bravery went to 12 others, while four officers won the Czech Medal of Merit, 1st Class.
W/C P. S. Turner of Toronto, who served with the RAF in the Battle of France, Dunkerque and the Battle of Britain, won both the War Cross and the medal for Bravery.
Already a holder of the DSO and the DFC, he destroyed 14 enemy aircraft and for a time commanded the City of Windsor Squadron No. 417 at Malta. Later he headed No. 244 Wing and then transferred to the RCAF. He now is stationed at the Joint Air School at Rivers, Man. Other winners of the War Cross are: G/C G. R. McGregor of Montreal and Winnipeg; G/C E. A. McNab of Regina; S/L B. E. Christmas of St. Hilaire, Que., and F/O B. D. Russel of Montreal.
There were no citations accompanying the awards, presented in each case to Canadians associated in some way with the Czech war effort.
G/C McNab, 41, a son of a former Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan, was the first Canadian flier to receive an award in the Second Great War. That was on Oct. 4, 1940. Following service overseas, he returned to Canada and commanded No. 4 Service Flying Training School in Saskatchewan.
G/C McGregor was among the first three RCAF pilots to get the DFC. A fighter pilot like the others who won the War Cross, he headed an overseas fighter station, saw service in the Aleutians, and later commanded No. 126 Wing.
F/O Russell, who holds his present title as a member of the auxiliary air force in Montreal, formerly was an acting wing commander and led a wing overseas.


CHRISTMAS, S/L Beverly Evans (25471) - War Cross, 1939 (Czechoslovakia)
Canada Gazette dated 24 January 1948 &
AFRO 81/48 dated 6 February 1948.




Thanks to daughter Penny for the correction on his name

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