Wendel John August Nelson


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Wendel Nelson, Kay Frances & and unidentifed RCAF member
Wendel lights a smoke for an unidentified RCAF man while Hollywood actress Kay Frances* looks on

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"Here is some preliminary info.  He was an American that volunteered for the RCAF in August of 1940.  He received his wings and arrived in England in September, 1941.  He was first assigned to night fighters in Scotland (squadron number unknown).  He then flew with the 600 "City of London" Squadron.  He was qualified and had significant hours in both Hurricanes and Spitfires. 

He was transferred to North Africa in 1942, where he first flew Bristol Beaufighters, then "tank buster" Hurricanes against Rommel's forces.  After being wounded, he served as a test pilot for the high altitude version of the Spitfire in Egypt.

He was returned to Canada, where he was chief of the photographic experimental project for the Spitfire.  After substantial pressure by the American Army Air Corps, he transferred back to his own country's uniform and flew P-47s and then P-51s in England on bomber escort missions.  He was KIA on Saturday, 18 January 1945, and buried initially at Cambridge cemetery.

His Canadian wing commander told our family that he remembers "about a dozen" kills, but the squadron's records were destroyed in a Luftwaffe bombing raid.  I have looked through various public records, and he is not listed with any kills.  However, I originally had two of his log books, which were lost in one of my many moves, that listed two JU-86 shot down in Egypt."


Spitfire BR390 ZX-N
Nelson (with shades) in front of Spitfire BR390 ZX-N of 145 Squadron


Victories Include :

?? two Ju86s destroyed Egypt


I think Wendel's nickname was "Wendy" but I have been unable to verify this


The site that was linked here is no longer online.

This is Richard's take on the info presented on that (now non-existing) page:

"I must confess that this narrative, combined with the photos, were an emotional experience for me.  The control stick above was probably gripped by my dad's hand as he crashed, and he undoubtedly was wearing those goggles when he died.  For me, it was like meeting a ghost from the past.

From a flying perspective, I somewhat doubt the researcher's contention that my dad and the other five Mustang pilots all crashed because of "vertigo."  In his case, he had trained in Canada and the UK, where the weather is notoriously bad.  In the type of winter weather described, it is more likely that icing was the primary cause, because fighter aircraft of that period lacked effective de-icing systems for the airframe and instruments.  In another web site describing the P-51:  "The Mustang is normally certified in the "limited" category. . . .If properly equipped the aircraft can be flown IFR and at night. Due to the lack of de-icing equipment (other than pitot heat), most P-51’s fly very limited IFR."  WWII Mustang pilots also complained about problems with carburetor icing, which would cause engine failure.  These crashes are more likely the result of desk-bound generals launching sorties in dangerous weather conditions, without regard to aircraft capabilities.  This is a sad, repetitive theme."




Thanks to son Richard Nelson for the info and photo

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