Gordon Frederick "Ocky" Ockenden

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3 December 1942 - 3 happy Albertans pose for a photo after receiving their wings at No.8 SFTS Moncton. They are: R.P. Woywitka, Gordon Ockenden and E.W. McConnell (PL-12960)


Born 20 July 1923 at Vermillion, Alberta
Home in Edmonton
Newspaper clerk before enlistment in Edmonton
Trained at
No.3 ITS (April 1942 to June 1942)
No.21 EFTS (20 June to 12 August 1942) &
No.8 SFTS (12 August to 3 December 1942)
Commissioned 4 December 1942
Flying Officer, 4 June 1943
Trained further at No.1 OTU, Bagotville
To 127 Squadron (CDN), 20 Apr. to 14 Dec. 1943
  (this included flying coastal patrols)
Sent overseas
With No.443 Squadron, 13 Feb. to 18 Dec. 1944
Flight Lieutenant, 4 December 1944
Served at No.10 OTU
Then back to Canada in August 1945
Released 25 September 1945
Rejoined in January 1946
Retiring as an Air Vice Marshall (Major General)


Edmonton Flier Downs 2 Enemy

WITH THE R.C.A.F. IN FRANCE, 25 August 1944 - G/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson back on the warpath after a period of leave, raised his personal score of German aircraft destroyed to 37 Wednesday as Canadian Spitfire squadrons under his leadership shot down 12 of 80 enemy aircraft encountered north of Paris.
The R.A.F.'s leading fighter pilot destroyed two FW-190's and had his own aircraft damaged for the second time in his long fighting career. Once before a piece of flak hit his plane. Wednesday's damage, a bullet in the wing root, was the first occasion he had been hit in air fighting.
"It looked as though the Jerries were on patrol," said Johnson, who was making his first flight since he returned from leave. "They were at all heights up to 7,000 and 8,000 feet."
The leading Canadian pilot in this first major action the wing has seen in several weeks was F/O Gordon F. Ockenden, 10923 81st st., Edmonton, who scored two kills and damaged another.
F/O Gordon Frederick Ockenden, member of an R.C.A.F. Spitfire squadron in the 2nd Tactical Air Force overseas, is a native of Edmonton — his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ockenden, reside at 10923 81st st.
He received his education at Oliver and Eastwood high schools, and before enlisting he was a member of the advertising staff of The Journal.
All soaped up
"All soaped up" France, D-Day + 2 weeks
He served with an R.C.A.F. fighter squadron at Dartmouth, N.S. and Gander, Nfld. prior to being posted overseas in January 1944. He enlisted in Edmonton in December 1941. Ockenden marked his 21st birthday last July 20.


21-V in France, 1944
"Ocky" Ockenden in Spit IX, MK356 "21-V", at B2/Bazenville, Normandy, France, June 1944


London, 29 Sept. 1944 - (CP) - Spitfire pilots of three Canadian fighter wings destroyed at least 28 German aircraft today, raising their score for the week to more than 80. The RCAF reported from Belgium that pilots of a Belgian-based wing under the command of W/C W. R. MacBrien of Ottawa, shot down nine German planes and damaged two others. A Reuters News agency correspondent in a field dispatch credited wings commanded by W/C Dal Russel, D.F.C., of Westmount, Que., and W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson English-born leader of a Canadian wing, with 10 and nine, respectfully. F/L Gordon Ockenden of Edmonton, F/L Gordon Smith of Nelson, B.C., and F/O R. A. Hodgins of Ottawa each scored double victories as MacBrien's wing smashed up German formations of fighters over Nijmegen, Holland, near the northern tip of the British 2nd Army's corridor through Holland. Single kills were credited to F/O A.J. Horrell of Windsor. Ont., F/O K.M. Langmuir of Toronto, and F/L Cap Foster of Grimsby, Ont. F/L B.T. Gilmour of St. Thomas, Ont., and F/O F.R. Kearns of Quyon, Ont., each claimed to have damaged an enemy plane. Foster's victory was a "revenge" kill. The Grimsby pilot was forced to bail out behind the Allied lines Sunday when an ME-109 blew up the engine of his Spitfire, but today he got another ME-109 in his sights and brought it down with a four-second burst. "I was pretty mad and thinking of what happened to me the other day," Foster said. "He blew up, and I had to dodge the debris. I guess things are evened up now." Names of the scorers in the wings commanded by Russel and Johnson were not immediately available.


Fliers Win DFC's

Ottawa, Jan. 1, 1945 - (CP) - Air Force Headquarters tonight announced the award of three bars to the Distinguished Flying Cross and of 30 DFC's to RCAF personnel serving overseas.
Two of the DFC's went to F/L Douglas Warren and F/L Bruce Warren, twin brothers from Ponoka, Alta., who are serving with the same squadron overseas. The recipients:

S/L W. A. Olmsted, Hamilton
F/O D. W. Goodwin, Maynooth.
F/O D. R. C. Jamieson, 148 Gilbert Ave., Toronto

S/L W. M. Foster, Guelph
S/L E. H. Lapp, Redcliffe, Alta.
S/L A. E. Monson, North Hollywood, Ca.
S/L A. H. Sager, Vancouver
S/L E. P. Wood, Renfrew
F/L W. D. Burton, Brantford
F/L J. M. Ballachey, High River, Alta.
F/L W. C. Fox, Dunnville
F/L R. E. Evans, Cleveland, Ohio
F/L P. L. Gibbs, Harlan, Sask.
F/L D. W. A. Harling, Westmount, Que.
F/L J. E. McLurg, Westmount, Que.
F/L H. J. Nixon, Hamilton
F/L J. D. Orr of Victoria
F/L W. B. Peglar, 144 Glengarry Ave., Toronto
F/L D. B. Rodd, Concord, Mass.
F/L N. G. Russell, New Westminster
F/L B. Warren, Ponoka, Alta.
F/L D. Warren, Ponoka, Alta.
F/L G. M. Smith, Nelson, B.C.
F/O W. K. Carr, Grand Bank, Nfld.
F/O W. F. Cook, Clinton
F/O D. H. Kimball, Oromocto, N.B.
F/O J. P. Lumsden, Hamilton
F/O H. F. Morse, Haney, B.C.
F/O G. F. Ockenden, Edmonton
F/O P. Slayden, Houston, Texas
F/O A. M. Sauve, Hull, Que.
F/O W. R. Weeks, Loggieville, N.B.
P/O J. A. Kerr, Alexander, Man.


OCKENDEN, F/O Gordon Frederick (J21398) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.443 Squadron
Award effective 18 December 1944 as per London Gazette dated 29 December 1944
and AFRO 379/45 dated 2 March 1945

This officer has proved himself a resourceful and efficient pilot whose fine fighting spirit, enthusiasm and devotion to duty merit high praise. He has completed numerous missions including escort and patrol sorties and bombing and low level attacks. He has destroyed or damaged at least thirty-five enemy vehicles and in addition he has destroyed four enemy aircraft and damaged one.

Letter from Vincent Massey


Gordy Ockenden

F/O "Ocky" Ockenden
Flying Spitfires
(Ford Sussex)
A keen 20 year old


A/V/M (Ret.) Gord Ockenden, DFC, CD
Allowed near Spitfires
(Duxford Bed.)
An envious 74 year old

Victories Include :

  7 June 1944
23 Aug. 1944

29 Sept. 1944

1/2 Me109
two Me109s
one FW190
two Me109s
near Caen *
NE of Caen
NE of Nijmegen

4.5 / 0 / 1

* Shared with Hugh Russel


Ockenden with his parents & sister
Welcome Home! Gordy is greeted at the train station by his parents Ruby & Fred, & his sister Dorreen




The engagement of Mary Patricia Slessor and Flight Lieutenant Gordon Ockenden, DFC, was announced recently by Miss Slessor's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Slessor. Flight Lieutenant Ockenden is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick C. Ockenden. The wedding will take place June 2 at Christ Church at 7:15 p.m.


AVM Ockenden  

Significant Post-War Work Included:

Flying Norseman & Dakota aircraft with No.6 (Com)
  - Flight & No.435 Squadron (Jan 1946 to Nov 1948)
Air Defense Command HQ (Nov 1948 to Sept 1953)
61 AC&W Squadron Metz, France (1956)
30 NORAD Region (June 1960 to August 1964)
Commanded Camp Borden from 1967 to 1970

NORAD Command Center in Colorado (1971-1975)
Canadian Defense Liaison Staff, Wash. (1976-1978)

Retired in 1978

Director of International Marketing Defense Products
  - Bristol Aerospace, Winnipeg (1978 - 1982)
Took semi-retirement to Kelowna in 1982
  - but maintained contact with Bristol
1988 became President, TRIMAN Consultants
National Vice-President, RCAF Assoc. (1985-88) &
National President, RCAF Association (1988-92)
Appointed Honorary Col. of 443 Squadron, Nov. 1992

Permanent flight out of Kelowna, B.C. 14 April 2000


Ockenden Remembers Friends Who Didn't Return

Westsider Gord Ockenden's story is part of a new book on the Second World War, titled
All The Fine Young Eagles

By DOROTHY BROTHERTON (Originally printed in The Westside Weekly)
Westside resident Gord Ockenden was a fighter pilot during the Second World War. He'll travel to England soon to watch his restored Spitfire fly in formation once again.
As he gazes overhead at the craft in which he teased death, you can be sure Ockenden will be remembering.
He'll remember himself as a keen, dare-devil, 20-year old at the controls of the Spitfire's first operational flight on April 14, 1944.
He'll remember Art Horrell. They trained together on Hurricane squadrons in Canada. Ockenden attended Horrell's wedding. The newlyweds had one month together before Horrell went overseas with Ockenden.
They became tent mates. One night at an Allied defeat at Grave, Holland, Horrell headed back into the fray and disappeared. He never came back. Gord had to help pack Art's stuff to send back to his wife,
"One night he's my tent mate. The next night he's gone." Gord speaks the words with awe in his voice still. Of 25 in the squadron, 11 didn't come back.
Amazingly, after 139 operational flights, Ockenden did come back.
Speaking at high schools, Ockenden sometimes asks the football team to stand up, and then has half sit down. That's how it was, he says. That's how many of your buddies were suddenly not there any more.
He admits he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at 18 simply to learn to fly.
I never thought of going to war. But flying operations, you suddenly realized, hey, this isn't just fun flying, this is serious business.
"I was pretty scared at times." Fear was worst during heavy anti-aircraft fire. The pilots called the fire "flaming onions" and scrunched behind their engines as though it would help.
The young Canadian had close call after close call.
"I can shut my eyes today and hear that huge airplane going over me," he says recalling one near miss.
He'll never forget the famous D-Day invasion of Normandy. He was flying dawn patrol. Fighter support from England had not arrived because of fog. The Normandy [?area/beach/coast?] was also obscured by low stratus clouds, our six-plane dawn patrol protecting U.S., British and Canadian ground troops quickly degenerated into a two-plane patrol. Ockenden and Don Walz.
More than 20 German planes flew over to strafe the beachhead, and the two Canadians took them on.
"My guns jammed on the first round so with me acting as his faithful I-won [?] you number-two, engaged one of the enemy planes. Don got him. The other Huns shot up troops as well as our airfield, then ran home thank God."
A German pilot was captured by Canadian troops after bailing out. He declared he had been surrounded by Spitfires.
Later that day, Walz was forced to bail out but rescued by the French underground, he lived to return to his squadron for more action.
Because Ockenden had a rough morning that day in France, Hugh Russel offered to take his dusk patrol. Gord took the task of burying German soldiers. Russel was shot down and killed. (This patrol took place on the 16th and included Jimmy Hall, Hugh Russel [Dal Russel’s brother], Luis Perez-Gomez [from Guadalajara Mexico] & Don Walz. They were attacked by a superior force of Luftwaffe fighters and Walz was the only one to survive. He bailed out of his burning aircraft and evaded with the help of the French underground. It seems Gord [or the author] got things a little mixed up after 50 years but we won’t hold it against him -jf)
Gord will remember him when he watches the Spitfire fly again, and many, many others.  Was it worth it? He pauses to carefully weigh the question.
"Yes, it was worth it. We won. Just think about what the world would be like if we had lost"
Maj-Gen Gord Ockenden retired from his career in the RCAF in 1978. His story, and those of other Canadian Second World War fighter pilots, is told in a new book by David Bashow, aptly named "All The Fine Young Eagles".


Spitfire Will Fly Again

(Originally printed in The Westside Weekly) - Gord Ockenden's Spitfire will fly again. The rebuilt craft has become part of the Memorial Flight team at a Royal Air Force station in England.
That's a permanent squadron with planes such as Spitfires, Hurricanes and Wellingtons, which became famous during the Second World War. The group performs at air shows and important events.
Ockenden's Spitfire spent much of the 50-plus years since the war as a crippled bird, set on a pedestal to guard a gate or flung into dead storage.
In 1992, restoration work on the Spit began, much of it volunteer.
Every rivet was replaced, but original components make up 75 per cent of the restored aircraft. Now it will fly again after over a half century on the ground, the latest addition to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
It was finished and delivered Oct. 28 this year.
Sometime next year, Ockenden, best known locally as retired Westbank director of the Central Okanagan Regional District and current alternate director, will travel to Britain to watch it fly.

MK356 21-V   MK356 UF-Q
Spit IX, MK356, "21-V" as flown by Ocky, was restored to it's original RCAF 443 squadron glory in 1997 (left). It flew as such as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) for a few years. Currently MK356 masquerades as  MJ250 "UF-Q" of 601 (County of London) Squadron during the Italian Campaign, although she still sports 'MK356' on her side (right). (photos BBMF)


Military Mural to Grace Old Arena





Thanks to son Gary for the photos & infos !

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