Typical staged photo - Don Blakeslee buckles Jeep into his Spitfire
TWENTY PILOTS GIVEN TRAINING FOR WAR DUTIES
Aero Club Provides Important Stage of Tuition — Many Flying Hours
Five More Future Aerial Warriors Here Now —
Civilians Take Courses
23 February 1940 - The Hamilton Aero club had more flying hours last month than in the first three months of 1939. No less than 338 hours were flown, with 128 dual hours and in all, 560 flights. In the previous year the hours flown in January were 110, February 94 and in March 106.
The great increase, not only in January, but also in months prior to this date, has been directly due to the advanced training of provisional pilot officers, 20 of whom have already received their complete instruction and five more recently arrived to take the course.
The local Aero club, it will be remembered, was one of the first clubs in the Dominion to be chosen, with six others across the country, as a location for advanced training for R.C.A.F. pilots under the National Defence scheme. Four pilots arrived here last June; in September nine others came and by November had completed the course. These were followed by seven others who left the airport last week after being fully trained by four instructors headed by Ernest Taylor, one of the foremost flying teachers in Canada. Under him are Donald Rogers, Arthur Leach and Norris Hart. The club has now received five new students who will study and train for the Royal Canadian Air Force examination which terminates their instruction here in two months' time, after which they are moved to Ottawa, Trenton or Camp Borden.
The five new men here are: Herbert E. Mitchell, Kingston; Douglas G. Chown, Winnipeg; Eugene L. Neal, Quebec City; Hubert H. Gilchrist, Toronto & Frank E. Grant, Brockville.
Civilians Also Train
The fact that provisional RCAF pilots are being trained at the club does not mean that civilians may not learn to fly. To the contrary, the club has just purchased a new 50 horse power cub plane, the second in a year, with the anticipation of greatly-increased business in civil aviation. Four other instructors are now taking a course at the airport and will be qualified to instruct within a month or so, making one of the largest groups of instructors at any aero club in the country.
Stewart S. MacNaughton, president of the Hamilton Aero club, stated this morning, "Each year we improve the club's facilities to handle civil aviation training, not only for private pilot's licenses, but also commercial, transport and instructor's tickets. Last year, for instance, 18 members received their private pilot's license, six their commercial, six others became qualified instructors and four more gained their transport license. The club now has seven planes of its own, not counting several others which are used solely to train the RCAF students."
|Born in 1917 in Millihochet, Maine.
Home in Beauharnois, Quebec.
Formerly in the Canadian Army.
Enlisted in Quebec, 29 January 1940.
Graduated from No.1 SFTS, 10 October 1940.
(The nickname JEEP comes from the Popeye comic strip *.
In 1936 Eugene the Jeep was introduced as a magic animal)
Invested at Buckingham Palace, 11 May 1943.
Died at Pierrefonds, Quebec, 22 August 1997.
Wings Are Presented To 41 Pilots at Borden
(By BILL ROCHE, Staff Writer, The Globe and Mail) Camp Borden, Sept. 6, 1940 — Climaxing the annual sports day of No. 1 Service Flying Training School, Royal Canadian Air Force, forty-one graduates of the intermediate training squadron late this afternoon received their wings from Group Captain A.T.N. Cowley, officer commanding the school..
Happy pilot officers receiving the coveted wings were representative of communities from Charlottetown to Vancouver and most of them came here from the elementary ground instructional school at the former Eglinton Hunt Club, Toronto.
Captain Cowley, addressing the graduates, reminded them they were the sixth and last class to come in as pilot officers for training. From now on, all pupil pilots will come into the service as aircraftmen under the joint air training plan, formerly known as the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
"We knew you would be the last class, and so you were hand picked," Captain Cowley said. "You are our choice, and anything you do will reflect to the credit or otherwise of the Royal Canadian Air Force."
Air Vice-Marshal Absent
Air Vice-Marshal L. S. Breadner, D.S.C., had hoped to attend the wings parade, but could not come from Ottawa because of pressing duties.
Those receiving their wings were: Pilot Officers D.A. Weir, Montreal; P.W. Langford, Field, B.C.; W.B. Wood, Toronto; H.C. Stewart, Calgary; C.L.T. Sawle, Edmonton; F.W. Macdonell, Halifax; G.A. Tambling, London; R.J.W. Askwith, Ottawa; E.L. Neal, Cornwall; E.D. Porter, Belleville; J.H. Ross, Edmonton; W.D.W. Hilton. St. Catharines; R.H. Hyndman, Ottawa; R.M. Stayner, Saskatoon; J.R. Bryan, Port Arthur; J.S. Cardell, Edmonton; H.C. Trainor, Charlottetown; D.C.S. Macdonald, Vancouver; G.R.M. Hunt, Edmonton; D.T. French, Edmonton; R.P. Quigley, Bartonville; J.G. Weir, Toronto; C. Chetwynd, Vancouver; R.A. McLernon, Montreal; J.W. Weis, Oakville; W.G.M. Hume, Sherbrooke; H.E. Mitchell, Brampton; E.W.R. Fortt, Esquimalt; E.A. Bland, Peterborough; D.G.C. Chown, Winnipeg; N.C. Brown, Saint John; R.J. Richards, Montreal; A.G. Byers, Montreal; H.E. Fling, Weyburn; L. Savard, Quebec; C.W. Scully, Ottawa; J.V.S.L. Saint-Pierre, Montreal; W.F. Napier Fredericton; P.J. Phelan, Toronto; E.B. Gale, Quebec and C.J. Fallis, Toronto.
The parade was called to attention and a short silence was observed when the name of M.L. Stephen of Moncton, N.B., was called. This member of the class died in an airplane crash last Monday after having qualified to receive his wings.
The wings ceremony took place in a hollow square formed by comrade units of airmen on three sides, and more than 2,000 relatives and friends on the other. The event was held on the tarmac in front of the control tower.
Among distinguished guests present were Wing Commander W.I. Riddell, Officer Commanding Rockcliffe Air Station, Ottawa; Wing Commander F.S. McGill, O.C. of the new No. 2 Service Flying Training School at Uplands, Ottawa and Squadron Leader J.G. Kerr of No. 2 S.F.T.S., Ottawa.
Behind The Lines
September 7, 1940 - Jean Cowman, secretary of the Hamilton Aero club, was present at the wings ceremony at Camp Borden yesterday to watch three young men who received their early flying training in Hamilton as they became fully-fledged flying officers. She was able to reflect with pride that, there are now 28 flyers in the air force who first flapped their wings over the Hamilton airport. The three who got their wings yesterday were Pilot Officers Eugene L. Neal, Cornwall; Douglas Gordon Chown; Winnipeg, and Herbert F. Mitchell, Kingston. In addition, there were three more young pilot officers from this district receiving the coveted badge of a flyer: R. P. Quigley, Bartonville; J. W. Weis, Oakville and W. D. W. Hilton, St. Catharines.
NIGHT AIR FIGHTS PROVE THRILLING TO YOUNG FLYERS
Former Student of Hamilton Aero Club Describes Hectic Experiences
Heavy Operational Machines Prove Deadly Weapons Against Germans
September 27, 1941 - A young Hamilton airman who received his early flying training with the Hamilton Aero club in the spring of 1940, before the British Commonwealth air training plan got under way, and who is now apparently engaged in night fighting operations, writes to Jean Cowman, secretary of the Hamilton Aero club, to tell of the experiences of himself and another Hamilton lad in England.
The writer is Herbert Mitchell. "Everything," he says, "is in tip top shape with both Jeep and me (Jeep is the nickname for another lad trained in Hamilton, Eugene Neal, of Quebec City.)
"Jeep has had a bit of action lately and damaged a Junkers Ju88 off the coast. The lower half of his engine was shot away, but he made shore and crash-landed with no personal damage. He has also had a few goes at Me109's with no apparent results.
"Here we are now at __ flying the __. They are a big and heavy machine requiring a lot of continual flying but carry excellent equipment and outstanding armament capable of blowing up anything that flies or that moves along the ground.
"A few nights ago, we went operational and got our first Hun — a Ju88, which just blew up and crashed. It was a Canadian crew that got it so we had quite a celebration.
"They have quite a long endurance, all the necessary speed, and are warm and comfortable with a wonderful cockpit and marvelous visibility. At first they frightened the life out of us. Few of us had flown before and none of the Canadians had so they started us off on __.
"After getting used to them night and day we got started. During the first few flights we gathered considerable grey hair but we all feel at home in them now, even in devilish weather. There is always a soft spot in the heart for the Spitfires and Hurricanes though, as far as actual flying is concerned ...."
Canadians Bag 4 Nazis In Honor of New Chief
(By DOUGLAS AMARON) London, Nov. 23, 1941 - (CP) - Canadian fighter pilots, who celebrated the arrival of Air Vice-Marshal Harold Edwards in Britain by shooting down four German planes over Northern France, were visited today by the new air officer commanding the R.C.A.F. in Britain and his predecessor, Air Commodore L. F. Stevenson.
Less than twenty-four hours after he stepped from a plane which brought him from Canada, Vice-Marshal Edwards went to the Canadians station and heard first-hand accounts of the engagements of the previous day, which are considered by air authorities to be one of the finest performances of the war in the particular type of operation in which the Canadians were engaged.
The Canadians, who also were credited with one probably destroyed and four seriously damaged enemy aircraft, were the toast of the station, and received an informal message of congratulations from Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air, and a formal message from Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, under whose command the squadron operates.
"Congratulations on a splendid showing. Well done, Canadians!" said Vice-Marshal Leigh-Mallory's message, read to all the squadron's personnel.
Like an excited crowd of youngsters who have just won a football game, the Canadians talked shop most of the day, telling and retelling about their combats with what was estimated to be a force of at least sixty German fighters.
Get First Huns
Attention centered on Pilot Officer Ian Ormston of Montreal, Pilot Officer Don Blakeslee of Fairport Harbor, Ohio; Sergeant Omer Levesque of Mont Joli, Que., and Sergeant Don Morrison of Toronto, each of whom shot down his first plane of the war.
It was a particularly satisfying day for Blakeslee, Levesque and Morrison. Levesque, in addition to his confirmed victory, came to grips with a second Nazi and last saw him breaking up in mid-air, while Blakeslee and Morrison also both inflicted serious damage on a second German plane.
The squadron's commanding officer, Squadron Leader Norman Johnstone of Winnipeg and Regina, and Sergeant Jeff Northcott of Minnedosa, Man., were given credit for the other damaged German aircraft.
"Those boys made a might good show of it," said Johnstone, beaming with fatherly pride. "The odds were considerably against them, both in numbers and in consideration of the sweep that took us over enemy territory. It was the first real flight for a majority of them and they pitched right into battle with plenty of courage and no end of ability."
Ormston, who with Flight-Lieutenant E. L. Neal of Quebec City, Blakeslee and Morrison dived into a group of Messerschmitt 109's and new Focke-Wulf 190's, literally blew his Messerschmitt out of the air.
Levesque, who said that "once in action I forgot the perils because things were happening too fast," forced the pilot of the first plane he attacked to bail out and shot part of the wing off the second.
“He Simply Exploded”
Blakeslee, who enlisted at Windsor, Ont., said he spotted the Messerschmitts at 15,000 feet and dived on them at 6,000. "All we did was dive and a one-second burst got my man," he said. "He simply exploded."
Morrison, who earlier in his first week with the squadron, scored a probable, spotted three Germans on the tail of Neal's plane.
"I came up from below and knocked off one," Morrison said. "He apparently didn't know I was there. Later I nearly joined three Focke-Wolf 190's which I thought were Spitfires. I took a crack at the last one and when last seen he was pouring out black smoke."
The Canadian fighter squadron co-operated with an English squadron whose members bagged another two enemy craft.
A veteran RAF wing commander with a personal score of eighteen confirmed victories led the combined English-Canadian squadrons operating from the fighter command's top-scoring station. The six planes destroyed brought the station's total of aircraft shot down since the start of the war to nearly 900.
"We saw fifteen Messerschmitts about two miles below us climbing hard," the wing commander said in describing the action. "Leaving the British squadron on top, I sent down several sections of the Canadians to attack. I stayed with the others, keeping a look-out in case assistance was wanted. It wasn't. Those boys just sailed into the German fighters and they were a grand sight to watch, whooping down and mixing it with the Hun
Chased Into France
"After the fight had been going on for some time our pilots started to chase the Messerschmitts deeper into France, and, as I didn't want them to get too widely scattered, I told them over the radio to come back and call it off. It was well that they did, for another bunch of Messerschmitts had approached higher up."
The wing commander sent the English squadron after these, and one German fighter promptly was sent smoking down to earth. Both squadrons then started for home, running into another batch of enemy fighters on the way.
During the flight home Levesque, who transferred to the air force from a French-Canadian army unit, got his Nazi.
"He was having a tough struggle," the wing commander said. "The Messerschmitt he was fighting finally plunged into a wood just inside the French coast and exploded like a bomb."
Over the coast and the Channel the squadrons met more German fighters in ones and twos, and the commander estimated that they encountered about sixty in all.
"Really," he said, "it was a grand afternoon for both squadrons."
J. P. Bickel, Toronto mine owner, who has held positions of importance in the Ministry of Aircraft Production, arrived with Air Vice-Marshal Edwards, as did Brigadier G. R. Turner, who is returning to his post at Canadian Corps Headquarters after a visit to Canada.
Mr. Bickel was met by Sir Archibald Rowlands, Permanent Secretary of the Aircraft Production Ministry. He said he was here "for a couple of weeks."
Flight Lieutenant Bill Broadribb of Ottawa also accompanied Edwards.
The flight across the Atlantic was described as "cold.”
Canadians See Action On Air Escort After Paratroops Patrol
Sgt. Morrison, Toronto, Saves Fellow Flier and Gets 'Probable'
'BUNCH OF 109's'
(By LOUIS V. HUNTER) An R.A.F. Station Somewhere in England, March 1, 1942 - (CP) - Canadian fighter pilots and bomber crews took part in Saturday's paratroop-Commando raid that destroyed an enemy wireless location station at Bruneval, France, but for a Canadian Spitfire squadron which formed part of the umbrella for the raid the dawn job was just the start of the day's work.
A few hours after the squadron completed what its members called a "routine patrol" it was in action again. It escorted Blenheim bombers in Saturday's daylight attack on Ostend, during which Sergeant Pilot Don Morrison, young Toronto flier who is the squadron's "high man," added to his score one plane probably shot down and one damaged. His tally had stood on Feb. 21 at two destroyed, two probables and one damaged.
Flight Lieutenant Al Harley of London, Ont., was one of those in charge of a section of Spitfires guarding the vessels carrying the returning paratroops. The squadron's commanding officer, Squadron Leader A. G. Douglas, R.A.F., and Flight Lieutenant Gene Neal of Quebec City were in charge of the other sections.
"It was just like an ordinary patrol," said lanky Flight Lieutenant Harley. "There wasn't a thing around and I didn't even see the ships."
Pilot Officer Hugh Merritt of Smithville, Ont., agreed it was a "dull trip." He said he met the convoy about midway across the Channel and "saw the ships all right, but I don't know yet what they did."
The airmen in Harley's section were Flight Sergeant Deane Macdonald of Toronto, Flight Sergeant Jack Ferguson of Victoria, a former star of the Calgary Bronks football team, and Sergeant Pilot Gerry Clarke of Winnipeg, who was reported missing after the afternoon operation.
Sergeant Pilot Jack Aubrey Ferguson of South Port Morien, N.S.; Flight Sergeant Jim Whitman of Edmonton; Pilot Officer Ian Ormston of Montreal; Pilot Officer Don Blakeslee of Cleveland, Ohio and Morrison were the other pilots in the fighter screen.
Canadians in Crews
Canadian members of the crews of the Wellingtons and Whitleys, which carried the paratroops, included, besides pilots whose names are not immediately available: Flight Sergeant A. Bradshaw of. Edmonton; Wireless Operator-Air Gunner Sergeants L. J. Narveau of Cornwall, Ont. and L. D. Jackson of Saint John, N.B.; Air Gunner R. J. Heather of Toronto; Observer J. Dremers of Timmins, Ont.; Wireless Operator-Air Gunners A. E. Shaw of Paris, Ont. and R. W. Taylor of Victoria; Observer T. R. Cattle of Toronto; Air Gunners D. F. Campbell of Toronto, R. J. Chisholm of Vancouver and H. W. Bydwell of Montreal and Wireless Operator-Air Gunner H. F. Tice of Hamilton, Ont.
During the second escort job of the day Morrison tackled a Focke-Wulf 190 which was roaring in to attack Ormston. It was the second time the dark-haired Toronto youngster had saved his Montreal companion from attack by a Nazi aircraft.
"Ormy," Morrison said, "was about 100 yards in front of me when the 190 suddenly appeared about fifty yards over my head, going for Ormy. I sort of pulled up after him and chased him around, but I took a squirt at him and saw the shells explode in the front of his cockpit. He just rolled over and went down in a dive with a trail of smoke behind him."
Went for Two More
Morrison followed the Nazi down to 12,000 feet in an 8,000-foot dive, but had to leave him "because I saw two more Jerries over on my left and went for them."
"They attacked a bunch of Spits," he continued. "One of them broke off and I took a squirt. He started shooting out black smoke and I was just about to close in and administer the coup de grace when two more Jerries came down and began to circle around. I figured it was time to go home — and did."
Morrison and his companions were uncertain what happened to Clarke. The Toronto flier said he did not see Clarke during the action and Harvey said he heard the Winnipegger report over his radiotelephone that he had been hit.
"We ran into a bunch of 190's on the way back and apparently one of them went for Clarke," Harvey said. "I heard him say his aircraft was hit but that he was all right. Later someone in another squadron saw a Spit going down and it must have been Gerry."
Stratford Flyer Shows Coolness
Escapes By Parachute Over Channel When Ship Blasted
London, April 1, 1942 — (CP Cable) — The R.C.A.F. revealed today that Sgt.-Pilot C. S. Pope, of Stratford, Ont., saved himself with singular coolness via parachute after his Spitfire was seriously damaged over the English channel.
Serving with one of the most famous R.C.A.F. fighter command squadrons, he was heading homeward after a fighter sweep immediately behind the section leader, F/L E. L. Neal, Quebec, when two German Focke-Wulfes dived.
P/O Ian Ormston, Montreal, led several pilots, who delayed their fire, onto the enemy's tail and was credited with the probable destruction of one of the planes, while the remainder of the section battled a big Focke-Wulf formation.
Pope's plane was raked with machine-gun and cannon fire which damaged the control surfaces. Be managed to head for the English coast but encountered trouble in bailing out when his knees jammed under the instrument panel.
The big fellow, after failing to throw himself clear in a fast dive, eventually scrambled from the cockpit and with dexterous chute handling managed to land safely near the coast.
"Jeep" & "Ormy" before either one was gonged (from "Lucky 13" by Hugh Godefroy)
DFC Awards Are Made To Two Canadian Pilots
By Louis Hunter, London, May 27, 1942 - (CP) - Flight Lieutenant Eugene Neal of Quebec and Pilot Officer Ian Ormston of Montreal, a couple of young fighter pilots who have been in almost 100 operational flights together, were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross tonight and the announcement of their decorations broke up a team that has accounted for at least four Nazi aircraft.
They will still fly in the same squadron, but Ormston, a tousle-haired youngster of 21 who has been serving in a flight commanded by Neal, has been promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant and given command of a flight of his own. Spitfire pilots, they both are members of 401 Squadron of the R.C.A.F., commanded by Squadron Leader A. G. Douglas, an Englishman who also was awarded the D.F.C.
The citation described stocky, fair-haired Neal as "a skilled and determined pilot." He has participated in ninety sweeps, convoy patrols and other operations and "throughout he has displayed great keenness and has set an inspiring example."
"On one occasion his aircraft was very extensively damaged by enemy fire. Despite this he skillfully landed it in a field. On another occasion after several combats and when running short of petrol he was forced to leave his craft by parachute whilst over the sea. He was rescued some two hours later," the citation said.
Neal, who is 25, was officially credited with destruction of a Messerschmitt 109 and assistance in destruction of another.
Ormston, who likes nothing better than a good sky battle, has destroyed three Nazi aircraft, probably destroyed another and has shared in the destruction of a fifth.
A keen flier, his enthusiasm drew official praise. The citation said: "He displayed exceptional keenness to engage the enemy." He has been on almost 100 operational flights.
Douglas has completed more than 100 operational trips and destroyed two enemy machines in addition to probably damaging two others.
The list of awards also contained the name of Squadron Leader J. A. F. MacLachlan, D.F.C., of Southampton, England, who has destroyed three enemy aircraft since he started flying again after the loss of his left arm in aerial combat over Malta. He is the leader of a Hurricane night fighter squadron which has been active over enemy bases in Northern France.
HAMILTON PILOT FERRIES BOMBER ACROSS ATLANTIC
Flight-Lieut. Frank E. Grant Has Arrived Overseas, Parents Informed
Former Member of Hamilton Aero Club Has Achieved Career Ambition
May 27, 1942 - The Hamilton Aero club has contributed another former student of elementary flying to the growing ranks of ex-members serving overseas, for today it was learned that F/L Frank E. Grant, son of Wallace and Mrs. Grant, Lyn road, Brockville, has successfully piloted a bomber across the Atlantic. The parents of the popular young officer, known to his friends as "Bitsy," were notified of his safe arrival by cable.
F/L Grant received his primary training under the Commonwealth Air Training plan at the Hamilton Aero club between January and April, 1940, and later proceeded to Camp Borden. During the time he trained here, he was associated with the famous "Jeep" Neal, of Quebec, who has been mentioned for participating in various raids over enemy territory, and with Herbert Mitchell and John McColl, of Waterdown. His numerous friends in Hamilton visualize a grand time for this quartet if they manage to arrange a meeting.
Before being called to make the Atlantic crossing, F/L Grant evidenced great patience while still attached to the No. 14 S.F.T.S. at Aylmer. So pronounced was this trait that the station publication, the Aylmer Airman, commented on it in a farewell article.
"As nearly every one knows," said the item, "Bitsy's fondest hope for the last two years has been for a posting overseas. Beaming from ear to ear with evident pleasure at the early prospects, he expressed the hope that he would land with a fighter squadron.
"I expect that I'll be flying a bomber over," he was quoted, irradiating the greatest pleasure.
The article described Flight-Lieutenant Grant as "a boyish, happy-go-lucky fellow with a dashing disposition, who took a moment off occasionally to poke his head in the orderly room doorway to jolly the girls of the staff. Any one who has been up with him could quite easily elaborate on the larynx-gripping qualities of Bitsy's flying prowess."
Holder Of Flying Cross Received Training Here
May 28, 1942 - F/L Eugene Neal, announced today as the winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross for conspicuous courage, is a former resident of Hamilton and received his early instruction at the Hamilton Aero club. He is well known to many Hamiltonians having spent considerable time here, and the announcement did not come as a surprise for he had shown much ability in his early days. While in Hamilton he resided on Wexford avenue south.
F/L Neal received his first 50 hours training at the local airport with Ernie Taylor as his instructor. He was one of the young men selected for training as provisional pilot officers and completed his course in April, 1940, after four months instruction. F/L Neal, who is 25, comes from Quebec, and is officially credited with the destruction of a Messerschmitt 109, and assistance in destruction of another. He has made almost 100 operational flights.
A Spitfire pilot, he is a member of 401 squadron of the R.C.A.F. The citation described stocky, fair-haired Neal as a skilled and determined pilot. "He has participated in 90 sweeps, convoy patrols and other operations and "through out he has displayed great keenness and has set an inspiring example.”
"On one occasion his aircraft was very extensively damaged by enemy fire. Despite this he skillfully landed it in a field. On another occasion after several combats and when running short of petrol he was forced to leave his craft by parachute while over the sea. He was rescued some two hours later," the citation said.
NEAL, F/L Eugene Lawrence (C1640) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.401 Sq.
Award effective 28 May 1942 as per London Gazette dated 29 May 1942 and
AFRO 880-881/42 dated 12 June 1942.
This officer has proved himself to be a skilful and determined pilot. He has participated in sweeps, convoy patrols and other operations. Throughout he has displayed great keenness and set an inspiring example. On one occasion his aircraft was very extensively damaged by enemy fire; despite this he skilfully landed it in a field. On another occasion after several combats and when running short of petrol he was forced to leave his aircraft by parachute whilst over the sea. He was rescued some two hours later. He has destroyed a Messerschmitt 109 and assisted in the destruction of another.
Behind The Lines
F/L "Jeep" Neal Recalls Hamilton Days & Flying Over France
June 16, 1942 - This column had its birth just a few short weeks after the start of the war with its originator being Basil Dean, now flying officer attached to the R.C.A.F. overseas. A letter from him has just reached the Spectator bearing news of Flight-Lieutenant Eugene "Jeep" Neal, of Quebec city, who was recently awarded the D.F.C. for one of his exploits.
Flight-Lieut. Neal took his elementary flying at the Hamilton Aero club before the opening of the elementary flying training school at Mount Hope — and told F/O Dean that whenever he is in trouble over France he always thinks of "good old Jean Cowman" and manages to pull through out of danger somehow. Miss Cowman is, of course, secretary of the Hamilton Aero club and is fondly remembered by scores of airmen overseas who took their early training courses at the club.
Talking about "Jeep" Neal, here is the latest story about that popular ace. Forced to crash land miles away from his station after a brush with German fighters over the channel, Neal got in touch with his 'drone and was asked by P/O Art Warner, Calgary, engineering officer of the fighter squadron, what caused the crash. "Glycol trouble," was the laconic reply. This worried Warner as he is responsible for aircraft maintenance.
He sped to the wrecked craft, made an inspection, then raced back to the station with his blood pressure at a high altitude. "No wonder you had glycol trouble you _______," Warner yelled at the grinning 'Jeep.’ “You had seven cannon holes in your kite.”
Went Into Action Two Years Ago, Canadian Fliers Have Won 6 DFC's
Proud Record Compiled by Only R.C.A.F. Unit in Battle of Britain
By FLYING OFFICER BASIL DEAN, R.C.A.F. London, July 17, 1942 — Canada's first fighter squadron to precede overseas — the only R.C.A.F. unit to serve during the Battle of Britain — has just celebrated its second anniversary. It was two years ago in June that the squadron landed in Great Britain.
Since that day, it has carved out a fine name for itself in the Battle of Britain. It accounted for a considerable number of German raiders, and since then took a leading part in the great daylight sweeps over Northern France which Fighter Command has been staging during the summers of 1941 and 1942.
Today it is commanded by Squadron Leader Keith Hodson of London, Ont., former chief instructor at the service flying school in Moncton, N.B., with 2,000 flying hours in his log book. A former commanding officer, who was moved recently, is Squadron Leader A. G. Douglas, an R.A.F. pilot who was awarded the D.F.C. for his work with the squadron. Two other members of the squadron got D.F.C.s at the same time — Flight Lieutenant Eugene (Jeep) Neal of Quebec City and Flight Lieutenant Ian (Ormie) Ormston of Montreal. Seven decorations in all have been awarded to members of the squadron.
Two Squadrons Merge
The squadron was born from the amalgamation of two pre-war Canadian squadrons, No. 1, which was based at Calgary, and No. 115, which had its headquarters at Montreal. The boys first got together on the boat early in June, and by the time they landed at an English port, were fairly well acquainted. First, they were at "A" for a couple of days after landing, and then went to a station in the vicinity of "B" for three weeks. July 7 saw them at "X," not far from London. It was at the latter station, they say, that "we found out what the war was all about."
A day or two before they were scheduled to leave for still another station Jerry came over to leave his visiting card with the Canadians.
"That night we really got a pasting," the veteran members of the squadron recall. There were no casualties, however, although a bomb went right through the orderly room. Some members of the squadron will tell you that this bomb was the only "good" one the Nazis have dropped in the whole war. It destroyed, it seems, many squadron records, including the crime sheets. All petty offenses any one had committed prior to that date, therefore, were wiped out and forgotten.
The squadron moved on to another station according to schedule, however, and it was at this new station, Aug. 26, that it first went into combat as a unit. A few days previously Squadron Leader (now Group Captain) Ernest McNab, who later won the D.F.C., went on an operational trip with another squadron "just to see what it was like," and managed to shoot down an enemy aircraft. The first action as a squadron, however, was on Aug. 26 and it was the date they lost their first pilot, Flying Officer Robert L. Edwards.
It was a grand record for the first time out, however. The squadron was ordered to intercept twenty-five enemy bombers raiding Britain, and they did so with a vengeance. They destroyed three Do215’s and damaged three others, and pretty well broke up the formation.
In the show that day were a number of pilots whose names have since become bywords in Canada in this war. There were Flight Lieutenants G. R. McGregor, A. Dean Nesbitt and V. B. Corbett, and Flying Officers Jean Paul Desloges, H. de M. Molson and D. B. Russel. Including the squadron leader, six of these men now wear the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Two of the first Focke-Wulf 190's shot down by Allied airmen went to the credit of the squadron on Nov. 22, when the total score was four destroyed, one probable and four damaged. On that day Flight Lieutenant Ian Ormston, later to become a flight commander and holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, got his first enemy aircraft. It was the first aerial combat, too, for another who was to become a Flight Commander with a D.F.C., Flight Lieutenant E. L. (Jeep) Neal. Flying Officer H. A. (Hank) Sprague was reported missing in that day's operations, and is now a prisoner of war.
Then on Feb. 12 of this year the squadron took part in the "Scharnhorst do," up the English Channel, and in this affair raised a score of two destroyed and two damaged. Many times, this spring and early summer, they have gone out over the Channel or over France without seeing an enemy. At other times he has fled home.
While many former members have gone to other squadrons, the "Newcomers" still carry on. There is Sergeant Don Morrison of Toronto, who has destroyed two enemy aircraft and helped destroy another, besides between two and three damaged on his board. There is Ian Ormston, who destroyed two and helped destroy another, besides a probable and a damaged. And there are many others.
Don Morrison Missing, Slight Hope for Safety
By ALLAN NICKLESON
London, Dec. 22, 1942 - (CP) – F/L Don Morrison, youthful collegian from Toronto, whose air exploits brought him recognition as one of Canada’s best pilots, is reported missing after a sweep over Northern France.
(The fact Morrison is missing was announced last Friday in an R.C.A.F. casualty list issued at Ottawa. His parents are Mr. and Mrs. Robert Morrison.) It was a few weeks ago that Don climbed into his Spitfire as he had many times before, and led his flight across the Channel. But this time the 21-year-old ace who rose from the rank of sergeant pilot to F/L in less than a year did not come back. He and his Canadian flying mates ran into a group of Nazi fighters and Morrison's plane was shot down a few seconds after he destroyed a Focke-Wulf 190 by riddling it with machine-gun and cannon fire. The boys around the squadron still cling to a slight hope he may have landed safely in enemy-held territory, but if he had to "go out" that's the way he would have wanted it.
An Intrepid Leader
A shy, handsome fellow who blushed at praise, Don was not talkative, but his exploits as his Spitfire roared and dived in a full year of action spoke volumes. His personality and fearless fighting ability singled him out as a leader.
Don was credited unofficially with five enemy aircraft destroyed, seven probably destroyed and five damaged. One of those destroyed craft went down before his blazing guns a few days after Don promised to "get one" for a school chum who is missing.
I visited Don's squadron last May and in course of a conversation in the dispersal hut told him my brother, F/S Jack Nickelson, a bomber pilot since presumed dead, was missing.
"Jackie was in my class at North Toronto Collegiate just before we both joined up," Don said quietly. "I'll get one for him."
He was not boasting. A few days later he penned another swastika in his log book. Don always did that when he landed after sending down another enemy with his cannon and gunfire.
Don shared a Nazi plane with F/S Eugene Neal, D.F.M. (?), of Quebec on his first operational trip, but they claimed it only as "probably destroyed." A few days later Morrison got his first confirmed victim.
Saved Life of Friend
Neal and Morrison often flew together in those days and the Quebec pilot, now back in Canada, once told me how Don saved his life.
"He dived on a Jerry who was just getting ready to give me the business," he said. Neal recounted that Morrison's trigger finger was so sure he was transferred for a time to an air-gunnery school as an instructor, but he did not like that and on his first 48-hour leave he raced by motorbike back to his squadron, and took part in a couple of sweeps.
"I wanted to get back into action," Don told his squadron mates. "There is not much doing around a gunnery school."
He got his wish and was re-posted to his old squadron. Promotion from Flight Sergeant to Pilot Officer, award of a Distinguished Flying Medal — this on his 21st birthday — came at the same time last June, and Don was so excited he clambered into his Spitfire and shot dawn a Nazi fighter by way of celebration. In all his air fights Don gave as much as he took.
On the day of the Dieppe raid he was forced to bail out over the Channel but it was the wreckage of a FW-190 he had destroyed and not German bullets that smashed up his Spitfire.
When he was posted as missing Morrison was flying as Flight Commander in a squadron commanded by S/L Keith Hodson, D.F.C., of London, Ont. He had skipped the rank of Flying Officer in his promotion to Flight Lieutenant after Dieppe.
Hodson had the greatest confidence in him and ranked him and the squadron's other flight commander, F/L George Murray (J15476), D.F.C., of Halifax as "the hottest pair of kids in the fighter command."
R.C.A.F.'S BAG DURING WEEK INCLUDES SUB
Ottawa, Dec. 17, 1943 (CP) — Mosquito pilots of the R.C.A.F. overseas destroyed one Heinkel 111 and damaged another during the last week, while the two-man crew of another Mosquito shot down three of four bombers destroyed over England last Friday and a Coastal Command Flying Fortress, whose second pilot was a Canadian, sank a U-boat after two depth-charge attacks.
In addition, the R.C.A.F. said in a summary of overseas operations tonight, Spitfire squadrons of the RCAF were active last Monday carrying out sweeps in support of United States Flying Fortresses and Liberators hammering targets in Northwest Germany. Two squadrons later escorted Marauders of the United States Army Air Force in an attack on Schipol airfield in Amsterdam.
Last Tuesday P/O C. B. Witt of Morden, Man., shared in the victory of a Coastal Command Beaufighter squadron off the coast of Norway. Two Beaufighters were patrolling when they saw a Dornier three-engined, long-range flying boat ahead. They immediately attacked it and set it on fire.
Crew of the Fighter Command Mosquito which destroyed three bombers last Friday was F/O R. D. Schultz of Bashaw, Alta., and F/O Vernon Williams of Hamilton, the plane's pilot and navigator respectively.
They took off to intercept enemy bombers attacking England and shot down a Dornier 217, blowing it up in mid-air. They then encountered and destroyed another Do217, accounting for their third victim after their own aircraft had been damaged and was flying on only one engine.
New Base Effective
The Coastal Command plane which sank the U-boat was captained by an Englishman. The submarine was the first victim to fall to a squadron operating from newly acquired bases in the Azores.
F/O D. Thompson of Westmount, Que., second pilot, described the second attack against the U-boat as "a beautiful straddle."
The Heinkel 111 shot down Sunday was destroyed by F/L Robert Kipp of Kamloops, B.C. The second Heinkel was severely damaged by F/O J. Johnson of Omemee. Kipp's navigator was F/O Pete Huletsky of Montreal and Johnson's was F/O J. Gibbons of Vancouver. The combat occurred in daylight over France. (Johnson and Kipp shared them both –ed)
Squadrons commanded by S/L E. L. (Jeep) Neal, D.F.C., of Quebec; S/L I. G. Ormston, D.F.C., of Montreal; S/L George C. Keefer, D.F.C., of Charlottetown; S/L R. A. Buckham, D.F.C. (United States), and S/L G. M. Magwood, D.F.C., of Toronto carried out sweeps on Monday.
In close escort of United States heavy bombers were squadrons commanded by S/L G. W. Northcott, D.F.C., of Minnedosa, Man., and S/L F. E. Green, D.F.C, of Toronto.
The squadrons commanded by Buckham and Northcott escorted the American marauders in their attack on Schipol airfield.
JEAN COWMAN HOPES TO AlD IN REPATRIATION OF FLYERS
Keeps in Touch With Countless Graduates of Hamilton Aero Club
Who Are Doing Invaluable Work in Air Force
(By Hal Miller) Ottawa, Dec. 2, 1943 — Miss Jean Cowman has her post-war plans made. She wants only to be back in Hamilton in the repatriation depot, meeting all her Hamilton Aero Club proteges as they come back from the wars. A former secretary of the club, she is still very much in her own aviation element, serving on the staff of the directorate of organization, R.C.A.F. headquarters, in the Lisgar building, Ottawa.
Men Serve Throughout World
In her present job she is constantly in touch with Hamilton people, many of them high in air force and governmental aviation circles, but her heart is with the young flyers who first earned their wings at the Hamilton Municipal Airport, and are now dropping destruction on enemy territory in the far reaches of the globe.
"There is only one thing I want to be doing when this thing looks like it's near the end," she told this writer, "I want to be back at 'repat' headquarters in the old home town and see all the boys coming in.”
There is no paper rationing where Miss Cowman's mail is concerned. She gets letters from Hamilton boys serving in every R.C.A.F. station and establishment in Canada. And letters come to her from the most unexpected places: India, the Far East, the United Kingdom, the Pacific coast, and even from "Way Down Under."
We saw the first of Jean's Christmas mail start to roll in, and it was something to gladden the heart to know that her "boys" never forget her, wherever they may be serving.
Last year, 250 graduates of the old Beach Road Airport and Municipal Airport remembered her with Christmas cards. She knows the total will be somewhat reduced this year, because many of her buddies have gone on.
Said Farewell to Every One
With her" familiar greeting "Hi pal," and a forward wave of the hand — the old-fashioned take-off salute — she said good-bye to all of them. Most of them went into the air force. Others — the Hamilton pioneers — are top-ranking executives in the aeronautical end of the Department of Transport. Some of the youngsters who were not accepted for active service are handling important war jobs in civil aviation.
Typical of the contribution to Canada's war in the air are the casualties among what Jean terms her "pet five," of the non-Hamiltonians. Killed in action were F/L Doug Chown, F/L Herb Mitchell and S/L Hugh B. Gilchrist. Missing is S/L Frank E. Grant. Left to carry on for the quintet is S/L Eugene (Jeep) Neal, D.F.C.
All these boys trained at Hamilton Aero Club before the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was inaugurated. Chown was a Winnipegger, Mitchell from Brampton, Gilchrist from Scotland, Grant from Brockville, and Neal from Quebec City.
Whether from Hamilton or not, the Hamilton Aero Club was a home away from home for all of them.
Almost every dispatch from overseas carries news of what her boys are doing, and there is no more avid reader of the air force news than Miss Cowman.
Pioneers of Organization
She credits Major Robert Dodds, M.C., founder, first president and first instructor of the club, now serving as superintendent of airports and airways for the Department of Transport, with making it possible for Hamilton to make such an outstanding contribution of flying fighting men. Major Dodds is also stationed in Ottawa now.
"The four Aero Club pioneers — Major Dodds, Alex G. Muir, David Green and Bill Hopkins — can be proud of the record of the club in this war," Miss Cowman said.
For instance, here are a few of the directors, mentioned off-hand, who have gone places: Major Lloyd Havill Smith, overseas; W/C Norman L. Drynan, at Trenton; W/C W. J. Peace, D.F.C., Jarvis; S/L Kenneth E. Krug overseas; S/L E. B. Hale, on operational duty; G/C Norman S. McGregor, overseas; F/L John Harrington, Trenton; F/L Albert J. Lewis, Windsor; F/L A. F. (Fay) Head, Rockcliffe; W/C Royden Foley, on operational work; S/L B. W. Hopkins, Toronto; W/C R. D. Byers, A.F.C., at Calgary, and S/L Jack Summer, overseas.
Officers of the club in important posts in the R.C.A.F are Air Commodore Fred Tice, head of the air force medical section, and Group Capt. Harry Peacock, also of the medical branch, and Group Capt. H. G. Clappison, of air force headquarters.
With the R.A.F. overseas, rank unknown, is Art Lawson, another director.
Other directors with the Department of Transport are: Kenney Whyte, civil aviation inspector at Toronto; Sam S. Foley, inspector of airports and airways for Southern Ontario; W. S. Lawson and Jack Hunter, holding the same posts in the west.
Wellington J. Burtch, Northern Ontario Hydro executive, still maintains an interest in flying. Doug Pickering is in charge of aircraft engine production in an Ottawa war plant. Fred G. Baldwin is a Canadian Legion Auxiliary Services officer at Guelph.
The list of Canadian boys who as members or students have passed through the Hamilton Aero Club on to great accomplishments in uniform or in a civilian capacity is too long to reproduce here.
Perhaps the greatest number received their first instruction from Ernest H. Taylor, former chief instructor, now a test pilot with Victory Aircraft in Toronto. He has had 12 trans-Atlantic crossings and has trained literally hundreds of flyers. His assistant, Don H. Rogers, can claim almost as scintillating a record, and has ferried some ships across during the present year.
The club sponsored No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School which was moved from Hamilton to Pendleton, Ont., and is continuing to maintain Hamilton's flying reputation through capable management of Gerry Moes, of Hamilton. Still actively boosting the school are S. S. McNaughton, Marshall Lounsbury, E. M. Coles, D.F, C., Don Barnes and R. C. Smale, currently on the Hamilton Aero Club directorate.
Whether of high or low estate, of commissioned or non-commissioned rank, Jean Cowman has a cheery "Hi pal" for all of them.
Oh, yes, Jean, ever a good friend of the fourth estate, will have an especially friendly greeting for two Hamilton newspapermen, both honorary members of the club. They are S/L Basil Dean, overseas (who, no-doubt wrote at least one of these articles), and F/L Johnny Johnstone, now in the west. Both are Spectator men.
Don Dougall & Don Morrison chat with Jeep shortly after the two Dons returned to England. They were part of a prisoner exchange with the Germans in October '43
Victories Include :
|8 Aug 1941
18 Nov 1941
1 June 1942
w/ Don Morrison
w/ Stan Cosburn*
1.5 / 0.5 / ?
* Joachim Hahn KC (21 Nov 40) KIA