Walter Gordon Kirkwood

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London, June 25, 1944 (CP) — Canadian heavy bombers switched from the long Germany run to concentrate on buzz-bomb bases around the Pas-de-Calais area Saturday night and this morning, hitting those robot plane launching areas through heavy flak and belts of searchlights. One R.C.A.F. aircraft is missing.
In each attack, R.C.A.F. Halifaxes and Lancasters provided the main force, joining with the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.A.F. heavies in plastering the ramps from where the pilotless planes are catapulted into Southern England. Apparently their aim is good as the number of buzz-bombs reported over England are getting fewer each day.
On this morning's run, searchlights were reported the chief defense. "There must have been 60 or 70 of them," said Mid-upper Gunner Sgt. H. R. Forster of Punnichy, Sask. "Some heavy flak came up with them and burst below us, but didn't give us any trouble."
Bombs Shot Down
F/S Ivan Gravelle, Montreal, reported the destruction of the buzz-bombs was a double-play affair. He said that on the way to bomb the robots' bases, his aircraft passed some pilotless planes and watched them being coned in searchlights on the British coast and knocked out of the air.
Two Canadian fliers returned from today's daylight attack with souvenirs in the way of flak wounds. P/O Bill Mackay, Toronto, had a piece of metal crash through his turret, shattering the mouthpiece of his intercom and scratching his cheek. P/O Con Kelway, Victoria, had flak break through his turret and cut his nose on the way past.
Kelway probably was the luckier. His plane, piloted by F/L G. W. Higgins, D.F.C., Charlottetown, hit a storm of flack as it was passing over the French coast. "To get away from it," said Higgins, "we were obliged to dive to the deck. We were so low the altimeter read 300 feet below sea level."

Wonderful Sight
The attack was a "wonderful sight," said P/O Bob Brown of Toronto, "Our bombs going down looked as though we had put them through the funnel." F/O George Johnston, Simcoe, Ont., also rated the buzz-bomb blow as an exceptionally good attack.
The plane piloted by F/O G. A. McNaughton, Kelowna, B.C., ran into heavy flak over the French coast, suffering three direct hits. The starboard engines were knocked out, oxygen lines were severed, the wings were holed and the bomb bay was damaged, but the plane completed the attack and limped back to base.
The mission marked the 100th sortie for the Bluenose Squadron, formed a year ago. It also was the 33rd trip for F/O Bob Prat of Toronto, and as usual, he carried a rabbit's foot dangling from the collar of his battledress.
Mosquito planes flying intruder patrols continued operations with W/O Walter Gordon Kirkwood, Edmonton, and Observer W/O C. N. Matheson, Winnipeg, knocking down a Ju188 near Le Havre.


Born 6 December 1922 in Vegreville, Alberta.
Educated in Bonneyville, Alberta, 1928 to 1941.
Summer time creamery worker.
Enlisted in Edmonton, 21 August 1941.
No.3 Manning Depot, Edmonton, 2 October 1941.
Station Calgary, 11 November 1941.
No.4 ITS, Edmonton, 22 December 1941
(graduated and promoted LAC, 27 March 1942).
No. 18 EFTS, Boundary Bay, 12 April 1942.
No.19 EFTS, Virden, 26 April 1942.
(may have graduated 3 July 1942 but not posted to)
No.4 SFTS, Saskatoon until 19 July 1942
(graduated and promoted Sergeant, 6 November 1942).
Disembarked in UK, 18 December 1942.
Posted to No.3 PRC.
Attended No.12 (P) AFU, 4 March to 15 June 1943
(promoted Flight Sergeant, 6 May 1943).
No.54 OTU, 15 June to 14 September 1943.
No.409 Squadron, 14 September 1943 to 31 July 1944.
Promoted to WO2 on 6 November 1943.
Commissioned on 3 April 1944.
At "R" Depot, supernumerary, 31 July to 18 Sept. 1944.
With No.406 Squadron, 18 Sept. 1944 to 3 April 1945
(promoted Flying Officer, 3 October 1944).
At No.54 OTU, 3 April to 1 August 1945.
To Canada, 2 August 1945.
Released, 21 September 1945.
Cited with WO2 Colin N. Matheson
(RCAF observer also awarded DFC).
Award presented 11 September 1946.

Served again as a pilot in RCAF Primary Reserve (209993)
21 September 1953 to 31 March 1958
(instructor at Edmonton Flying Club).
Died in Smiths Falls, Ontario, 19 November 1982
as per Airforce Magazine of June 1983.

PL-33650 (20 October 1944) shows F/O C.N. Matheson
on the left talking to his pilot, F/O W.C. Kirkwood.

Training: Interviewed 31 July 1941 as which time he was described as “Good type of young man, keen, clean and educationally qualified.”

At No.4 ITS he was described as having scored 65% on Visual Link. “Average sports ability. This airman is responsible and tried hard but he is weak in his classroom delivery. He is considered below average material but he has a record here which justifies his being sent on for further training. Alternative, WAG.”

At No.19 EFTS he flew Tiger Moths (38.10 day dual, 48.55 day solo, 3.00 night dual). Of this, 11.35 was on instruments; also logged 12.45 in Link. “Good average. Keen and learns quickly. Retains instruction and is a capable pilot. No bad flying habits and instrument flying is a good average. Has very good ability in Ground School and is naturally bright. Deportment and discipline very good.”

At No.4 SFTS he flew Cranes (74.40 day dual, 75.45 day solo, 8.50 night dual, 8.35 night solo). Of this, 33.05 was on instruments. Also logged 20.45 in Link. “Generally a very sound pilot and with a little more experience should become above average. Fine operational material.” (S/L A.E. Thompson, Chief Instructor). “Clean cut appearance, quiet and well mannered. Generally a very good type and is fine officer material.” (W/C C.F. Newcombe).

Course at No.54 OTU was 15 June to 1 September 1943. Exposed 207 feet of film and carried out six air firing exercises; deemed average to above average. Flying times listed as follows: Beaufort (12.15 hours dual, 7.05 spent dual before going solo), Beaufighter (34.35 day solo and 21.35 night solo; five hours on instruments). Also logged 25 hours 15 minutes in Link. He attended all lectures (Airmanship, Armament, Meteorology, Navigation, Signals). Flying tests as follows: General Flying (260/400), Applied Flying (156/200), Instrument Flying (178/250), Night Flying (63/100), Link (33/50).

Notes: Upon repatriation to Canada he filled out a form (7 July 1945) stating he had flown one operational tour and four months non-operational tour. Overseas flying had been 164 hours 25 minutes operational, 508 hours ten minutes non-operational. He had flown 55 sorties, the last on 21 March 1945, after which he had been an OTU instructor. Aircraft types and hours flown listed as follows: Beaufighter (257.45), Mosquito (338.40), Blenheim (39.20), Oxford (19.40), Beaufort (15.40), Lancaster (1.30). On another form he listed his flying times with two squadrons as follows: No.409 Squadron, 25 September 1943 to 18 September 1944, 95 hours 35 minutes, and No.406 Squadron, 18 September 1944 to 2 April 1945, 74 hours 15 minutes.


Eight Overseas Named for DFC

Ottawa, Oct. 2, 1944 - (CP) - The RCAF tonight announced the award of eight Distinguished Flying Crosses to RCAF personnel serving overseas. The recipients include :

P/O W. G. Kirkwood (address not available)
P/O C. N. Matheson (address not available)


KIRKWOOD, WO1 (now P/O) Walter Gordon (R121850/J87765) - DFC - No.409 Squadron
Award effective 3 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date &
AFRO 2534/44 dated 24 November 1944

As pilot and observer respectively, these officers have completed many night fighter sorties. They have displayed praiseworthy keenness and skill throughout and have destroyed three enemy aircraft.

NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9159 had recommendation drafted 25 July 1944 -

Warrant Officer Kirkwood, night fighter pilot, has completed 30 operational sorties over enemy territory. He has at all times shown courage and determination in pressing home attacks, and has successfully intercepted and shot down four enemy aircraft during these sorties. His courage and coolness in action is particularly reflected in the successful interception and destructions of a Junkers 188 on the night of June 28/29th. In this engagement after following hard evasive action, through extremely difficult conditions, he attacked from 200 yards, observing strikes on the port engine, which exploded covering his windshield with oil and debris. Despite the fact that his vision was impaired through the oil-splattered windscreen, he observed that the enemy pilot had regained control of his aircraft and despite the return fire, Warrant Officer Kirkwood pressed home a second attack from short range hitting the enemy aircraft dead center, causing it to explode in the air and crash to the ground.


Victories Include :

24/25 June 1944
28/29 June 1944
18/19 July 1944
30/31 July 1944

31/01 Jan. 1945
one Ju188
one Ju188
one Ju88
one Ju88

one Ju88
destroyed *

destroyed OTG
MM589 of 409 Sqn
MM589 of 409 Sqn
MM589 of 409 Sqn
MM589 of 409 Sqn

MM732 of 406 Sqn

4 / 0 / 0

plus  1 / 0 / 0  On The Ground

* All claims with Colin Matheson as R/O except this one with F/O W. A. Ward




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