William Alfred "Bill" Olmsted

RCAF   S/L   -   DSO,   DFC   &   Bar

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Bill Olmsted in his spifire

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"At first I disliked strafing because it meant frequently attacking a target in a heavily defended flak area. Eventually however, I came to enjoy it, for the sense of accomplishment and the thrill of daring nearby guns made the task a grim yet exhilarating game. Very often when we attacked a truck, it would stop before we started to fire and a number of soldiers would jump out. By this time both the soldiers and the truck would be in the ringsight. The German soldiers obligingly stood stock-still in surprised poses of fear and dismay, the sound of the Spitfire having paralyzed their muscles. Then with a firm pressure on the gun button the truck would be blasted, and the soldiers would disappear in bright flashes."   -  from Olmsted's book, "Blue Skies"


Born in Victoria, B.C., 1 July 1920.
Home in Hamilton.
Educated at McMaster University.
Enlisted in Hamilton, Ontario, 31 August 1940.
Trained at
No.2 ITS (5 November to 11 December 1940),
No.15 EFTS (12 December 1940 to 31 January 1941) &
No.6 SFTS (8 February to 18 May 1941).
Central Flying School, Trenton, 19 May to 30 July 1941.
No.4 Training Command (Regina), 31 July to 5 Nov. 1941.
No.31 EFTS, 1 August 1941 to 9 February 1942.
No.1 BGS, 1 March to 30 August 1942.
Embarked from Canada, 6 September 1942.
Arrived at No.3 Personnel Reception Unit, 21 Sept. 1942.
At No.61 OTU, 6 October 1942 to 4 January 1943.
To Algeria and then to
No.81 Squadron (15 February to 1 June 1943) &
No.232 Squadron (1 June to 3 December 1943).
Hospitalized with malaria.
Embarks for UK, 18 January 1944.
Arrives in UK, 4 February 1944.
Attached to
Station Grangemouth, 24 February to 2 March 1944.
Central Gunnery School, 16 March to 19 April 1944.
To North Weald, 26 April 1944.
To Hornchurch, 26 April to 18 May 1944.
Attached to
Detling, 19 May to 19 June 1944.
No.442 Squadron, 2 July to 22 December 1944.
To Canada, 22 January 1945.
Released from the RCAF on 6 April 1945.

He wrote an autobiography called "Blue Skies" but on
14 May 1987, while on his way to see his publicist, he was
killed in a car crash. His book was published shortly after.


Bill Olmsted & Calvin Peppler chat with a PR man
Paddington, April 1943 - Olmsted & Calvin Peppler talk to Canadian PR man, F/L Les Powell

Local Flyer, Bill Olmsted, One of The Canadians Who Are Doing a Good job in Tunisia
Increasing Number From Canada Seeing Action on Desert Front

(By Ross Munro, Canadian Press War Correspondent)
With the RAF in North Africa, 25 Feb. 1943 – (CP Cable) – An increasing number of Canadian fighter pilots are in action on the Tunisian front and S/L Jimmy Walker of Edmonton, now commands a Spitfire squadron, the first Canadian-led RAF squadron in North Africa.
Walker has just been awarded a bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross. His citation reads: “This officer has destroyed four enemy aircraft and damaged four others since his arrival in North Africa. His untiring efforts and leadership merit the highest praise. His example has been an inspiration to other pilots in his wing and has contributed greatly to the wing success in the air.”
Flying with Walker at different times during the campaign have been several other Canadians who have been knocking off enemy aircraft.

Toronto Man Promoted
Alan Aikman, of Toronto, has been promoted from the rank of F/O to that of F/L and he now is leading a flight of Spitfires. Aikman flew No. 2 to the famous Irishman, Paddy Finucane, and was with him the day he was shot down off the French coast by anti-aircraft fire. The Torontonian has a score of five enemy planes destroyed in North Africa. Recently he shot down a Focke-Wulf 190 in an air fight over the Mediterranean. The German plane crashed on the shore.
Aikman said Spitfires have been doing a large number of sweeps recently to harry the Germans on the northern sector of the front. "The Jerries don't seem to want to mix it up with us," he said, "Sometimes we get a dozen or 15 in the sky but they sheer off when we get in at them. So life is a little dull at times these days."
Another high-scoring Canadian is P/O Harry (Junior) Fenwick, of Leamington, Ont., who has destroyed five of the enemy and damaged five more, besides having a probable to his credit. He wears the ribbon of the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Flying in the same squadron as Fenwick are six other Canadians: Sgt. Louis Hamilin, Sgt. Donald Rathwell, and P/O Calvin (Pep) Peppler, all of Winnipeg; F/Sgt. Douglas Husband, of Toronto; F/O Bill Olmsted, of Hamilton, Ont., and Sgt. John Olsen, of Kirkland Lake, Ont.
With another squadron that flies on sweeps with Fenwick and his crowd are P/O Jim Woodill, of Halifax, F/L Glen Lynes, of Montreal, who has just been promoted from the rank of P/O and leading a flight like Aikman, P/O C. F. Sorensen, a Dane from Kingston, and P/O Howard McMinniman, of Fredericton.
Flying with still another R.A.F. squadron that included a half-dozen Canadians is F/O R. W. Robertson, of Sydney, N.S., who has been through a couple of recent scraps over Tunisia. On a dawn patrol he ran into seven Nazi fighters and engaged them immediately. He took on three at first and headed straight at them. At less than 100 yards, he squirted lead at one and saw it break away and dive for the ground, riddled with bullets. Troops on the ground saw it crash and Robertson got the credit for destroying it.
He was not finished, though. He chased after the rest and damaged two before returning to his base in time for breakfast. Robertson flies a Spitfire with the name Bluenose painted on its nose. He has done almost 150 operational hours as a fighter pilot.
A great friend of a large number of Canadian pilots out here is F/Sgt. Tony Jonsson, the only Icelander in the R.A.F., who was recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. His score is three destroyed, one probable and one damaged.


Tampax Squadron

 ... "My first view of the tiny island of Malta is still a vivid memory. Through the mid-morning haze, it looked like a small golden leaf floating on the sea. I thought it looked ridiculously small, measuring roughly seven miles by fourteen miles, and our new airdrome, Takali, stood out as obvious and exposed.
"Gonda control," called Duke (Arthur), "Tampax squadron requesting landing instructions."
The reply came from Malta control: "Say again."
Duke returned, "Tampax leader requesting landing permission."
Gonda control again asked, "Say again, please. What call sign?"
Duke, now impatient, "Tampax leader."
"Please repeat call sign," intoned Gonda control.
By now Duke was obviously exasperated and certainly still seething over the loss of Cam. He roared into the radio, "Tampax leader. Tampax! Tampax! The stuff you shove up your snatch."
I could visualize the horror, the giggles, and the consternation that must have swept through the operations room. After another delay we finally received a polite and quiet reply instructing us to land at Takali airfield."  -  more from Olmsted's "Blue Skies"


Played Vigorous Part In African Campaign

May 17, 1943 - Two years ago Bill Olmsted received his R.C.A.F. pilot's wings and commission, but he wasn't any too happy. Following his graduation leave he was to report to Central Flying School, Trenton, for training as an instructor instead of going overseas as a fighter pilot.
However, many things can happen in two years and in Bill's case did. After serving as instructor at an R.A.F. flying school at Calgary and the Bombing and Gunnery School at Jarvis, he was posted overseas, arriving in England last September. He attended a Spitfire operational training unit and joined his present squadron just in time to take part in the North African campaign.
Bill was in his element as a Spitfire pilot and almost daily roamed the sky over what was then Hitler's rapidly dwindling Tunisia, looking for the Luftwaffe. If the Luftwaffe wouldn't fight, as was so often the case in those days, Bill and his squadron mates would go down and strafe roads, transports and troops.

Bill & Pep
Olmsted & Calvin Peppler
"Now that this show is cleaned up I hope we go on to fresh fields." says the 22-year-old flying officer, for he loves traveling and well he might.
Born in Victoria, B.C., Bill traveled all over Canada and the United States with his engineer father, Major R. I. Olmsted, now officer commanding the 11th Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, Hamilton.
He attended schools in Calgary, Niagara Falls, Temiskaming, Rutland, Vermont, Chicago, Fort William, the family finally settling in Hamilton, where Bill attended Westdale Collegiate and McMaster University. It was while studying economics preparatory to a law course, at the latter institute, that he joined the R.C.A.F. He trained at Regina and Dunnville, thence going to Trenton.
His favorite sports were swimming, rugby and golf, but it was in the latter sport that he really excelled, having a three handicap. He also swam for the university team.



London, 27 Sept. 1943 (CP) — R.C.A.F. overseas headquarters announced the following promotions of Ontario fliers (in part):
From Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant – D. E. Noonan, Kingston; W. A. Olmsted, Hamilton; W. R. McRae, Port Arthur.
From Flying Officer to Temporary Flight Lieutenant – J. H. Turnbull, St. Thomas; H. J. Everard, Timmins.
From Pilot Officer to Temporary Flying Officer – D. H. Dover, Mount Dennis.




In Canadian Spitfire Squadron Over France That Met Swarms of German Focke-Wulfs

Four Hun planes destroyed and a score more probably destroyed is the aerial batting average of a young Hamilton fighter pilot after dogfights Thursday over Normandy battlefronts. He is F/L William A. Olmsted, son of Major R. I. Olmsted, M.C., and Mrs. Olmsted, 15 Chedoke, Avenue. He is the second Hamiltonian and one of a few Canadians with at least four "kills" to his credit.

A Veteran Pilot
Now on his second tour of operations, F/L Olmsted declined leave at the end of the first tour when his score was two shot down and many damaged. He is a veteran of the North African campaign and has had extensive experience throughout the Middle East.
According to a Canadian Press dispatch from London, F/L Olmsted got two of the three aircraft destroyed west of Bayeux on Thursday.
"R.C.A.F. Spitfire pilots shot down eight out of ten German aircraft destroyed over the British-Canadian sector of the Normandy battlefront Thursday," the dispatch related.
"More than 90 Focke-Wulf 190's were encountered by one Canadian formation of 11 Spits over Bayeux and three of the enemy were downed. A dozen other R.C.A.F. Spitfires met another large group of Focke-Wulfs near Bernay and shot down two."
Later the dispatch credits F/L Olmsted with having shot down two of the three enemy planes in the Bayeux sector.
F/L Olmsted is a former Westdale Secondary School student. His father is officer commanding the 13th Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A. (reserve).



August 3, 1944 - Another Hamilton fighter pilot has achieved the enviable record of four enemy planes destroyed and a score more damaged and probably destroyed. He is F/L George W. Johnson, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Johnson, 102 Beechwood Avenue, who knocked down another Hun fighter over Normandy battlefields yesterday. F/L William Olmsted, son of Major R. I. Olmsted, M.C., and Mrs. Olmsted, and F/L Jack Bamford, D.F.C., share the record of four "certain kills”. F/L Bamford is now missing.
According to a Canadian Press dispatch from France, "three German aircraft were destroyed over the battlefronts yesterday by Canadian Spitfire pilots flying from Normandy bases. One fell to F/L R. R. Bouskill, of Toronto; one to F/L R. H. Cull, of Alberta, and one to F/L Johnson.
Now into his second tour of operations, F/L Johnson has scored at least three of his kills since D-day.
He was posted overseas last June after having served for a year as instructor in Canada. He was awarded his wings at Dunnville. Employed in the offices of the Steel Company of Canada, prior to his enlistment, he attended Prince of Wales School and Central High School of Commerce. His father is a Great War veteran.
According to today's dispatch from overseas, the Canadians are members of a squadron commanded by S/L Charlie Trainor, of Charlottetown, and their victories raised to 92 since D-day the score of the wing led by W/C Dal Russel, of Montreal. An individual victory was marked up Wednesday by F/O Terry Saunderson, of Dorval, Que., who forced a German pilot to bale out at 3,000 feet.


Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross For Gallantry and Skill

October 4, 1944 (This date may be a mistake on the cataloger's part and might actually be the 24th -jf) - A veteran of the North African campaign who’s Spitfire has wriggled through scores of dog fights over battlefronts in France, Squadron Leader William A. Olmsted, son of Major R. I. Olmsted, M.C., and Mrs. Olmsted, 15 Chedoke Avenue, has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his great gallantry and skill in aerial warfare. He is known to have shot down four enemy planes and crippled or damaged many more.
With his second tour of operations almost completed, Squadron Leader Olmsted was promoted recently to command a Spitfire squadron in a forward position on the western front. He is believed operating in the Nijmegen sector, strafing enemy positions, shooting, up heavy vehicles and generally disorganizing the enemy's communications.

Score of Four in July
While Squadron Leader Olmsted clashed with the enemy in North Africa often, most of his "kills" have been made over invasion forces in France. His score was brought to four this July with destruction of a German plane over a front in Normandy.
The young airman is a former student at Westdale Secondary Schools here. He declined leave at the end of his first tour of operations to be on hand when the invasion of Europe was launched. His father is a former officer commanding the 13th (Reserve) Light Anti-Aircraft Battery of the Hamilton garrison.


OLMSTED, F/L William Alfred (J5125) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.442 Squadron
Award effective 24 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date &
AFRO 2637/44 dated 8 December 1944

Flight Lieutenant Olmsted has flown on many operational sorties over enemy territory and has at all times displayed exceptional keenness and determination. In two successive days in August 1944 he was responsible for the destruction of twenty-eight enemy vehicles, bringing the total he has destroyed to fifty. He has rendered fine service.

NOTE: DHist file 181.009 D.2833 (RG.24 Volume 20632) has recommendation dated 18 August 1944 which bears comparison. As of that date he had flown 282 sorties (397 hours 15 minutes):

Flight Lieutenant Olmsted has taken part in 282 sorties over enemy territory and has at all times displayed exceptional keenness and determination to engage the enemy both in the air and on the ground. During his operational career while in Italy and France he has destroyed four enemy aircraft, probably destroyed two and damaged three others. On August 13th and 14th he destroyed or damaged 28 enemy vehicles, bringing his total enemy vehicles destroyed or damaged to fifty. He has at all times proved himself to be a very capable and skilful Flight Commander and his work is worthy of the highest praise.


Smashes 50 Foe Vehicles, D.F.C. Citation Reveals

24 Oct. 1944 - Squadron-Leader William A. Olmsted, son of Major R. I. Olmsted, M.C., and Mrs. Olmsted, of 15 Chedoke avenue, whose winning of the D.F.C. was reported here early this month, apparently has added vehicle smashing to his plane-destroying activities.
The citation to his D.F.C., which was issued today, reads: "S/L Olmsted has flown on many operational sorties over enemy territory and has at all times displayed exceptional keenness and determination. In two successive days last August, he was responsible for the destruction of 28 enemy vehicles, bringing the total he has destroyed to 50. He has rendered fine service."
One of the city's top plane destroyers, S/L Olmsted is known to have shot down five enemy aircraft and to have damaged many more. A veteran of the North African campaign, he was recently promoted to command a Spitfire squadron, believed to be operating in Holland. Most of his "kills" have been made since the invasion of the Continent.



With the RCAF Bomber Group In Britain, Oct. 31, 1944 – (CP) – Group headquarters today announced the appointment of new commanders for two Bases.
Group Captain J.L. Hurley of Ottawa assumes command of one base, comprising three operational bomber stations, and is promoted to the rank of Air Commodore. Formerly he was director of organization at RCAF headquarters in Ottawa. Also promoted to Air Commodore is G/C F.R. Miller, of Ottawa, who assumes command of a base with three stations housing heavy conversion units and one housing an air crew battle school. It was additionally announced that W/C C.C.W. Marshal of Kingston, Ont. has been appointed to command of the Tiger squadron. He formerly was a flight commander in the Porcupine Squadron.
S/L Bill Olmsted of Hamilton, Ont., was named commander of an RCAF fighter squadron in Belgium in a fighter wing led by W/C Dal Russel of Westmount, Que.


Local Boy Leads Holland Bombing
Squadron-Leader Olmsted's Spitfires Play Havoc

November 6, 1944 - The dive-bombing Spitfire squadron led by S/L William A. Olmsted, D.F.C., son of Major R. I. Olmsted and Mrs. Olmsted, of 15 Chedoke Avenue, is showing the way in Holland in smashing German railway communications and enemy motor transport. In four recent morning sorties, the Canadian squadrons reported they had cut three lines in Holland in addition to blowing up a road.
Returning from one of these missions, S/L Olmsted's squadron shared with other groups the destruction of a locomotive, three enemy transport vehicles, and damage to six more, all with cannon and machine gun fire.
The citation to the Hamilton airman's D.F.C., issued a short time ago, disclosed that he had personally destroyed some 50 enemy vehicles.



An Advanced RCAF Airfield in Holland, Nov. 22, 1944 - (CP) - Here's the record of a hot day's operations by two RCAF Spitfire squadrons operating as fighter-bombers,
Four enemy fighters destroyed, a fifth probably destroyed; enemy rail lines cut at 20 points; a direct hit with a bomb on a road bridge; one locomotive destroyed, 22 damaged and put out of action; six freight cars destroyed; 28 damaged; two anti-aircraft railway cars destroyed, and two damaged; four barges damaged; seven transport vehicles destroyed, two probably knocked out and seven damaged.
The squadrons are commanded by S/L Dean Dover, DFC, Mount Dennis, and S/L William Olmsted, DFC, Hamilton, in a wing directed operationally by Wing Cmdr. Dal Russel, DFC and Bar, of Montreal.
F/L Don Laubman, DFC and Bar, of Edmonton, brought his bag to 15 German aircraft destroyed as a result of the day's encounters.
F/O's Don Goodwin, Maynooth, Ont., and Neil Burns, 196 Eglinton Ave., Toronto, took off on a weather reconnaissance flight, but returned an hour later after disabling six locomotives, destroying six freight cars and cutting two rail lines. They encountered a perfect setup for dive-bombing—two trains passing one another—10 miles east of Deventer. They scored direct hits on both, severing the parallel lines and destroying six cars. Then they returned and strafed both locomotives.
En route home they damaged four more engines by cannon and machine-gun fire. Olmsted's men had the most success against trains, disabling 18 of 23 Locomotives and all but three of 34 freight cars.


442 Squadron, Volkel, Oct. 1944 Bill Olmsted & his 442 Squadron, Volkel, October 1944
Top row - Smith, Burns, Doyle, Dunne, Olmsted, Mills, Lumsden & Schenk
Sitting on wing - Jowsey, Watkins, Keene, Francis
Bottom row - McClarty, Simpson, Dick, Ireland, Engineering Officer

Flyers Play Havoc With Hun Utilities
Canadian Spitfire Pilots Destroy Enemy Transport

November 23, 1944 - The Spitfire Squadron commanded in Holland by S/L William Olmsted, DFC, of Hamilton, continues to play havoc with German communications. This squadron and another, commanded by S/L Dean Dover, DFC, of Mount Dennis, seem to be engaged in a friendly competition, judging from the dispatches from that war theatre, and the results are disastrous for the enemy.
They had a "hot" day recently, and here's the record: Four enemy fighters destroyed; a fifth probably destroyed; enemy rail lines cut at 20 points; a direct hit with a bomb on a road bridge; one locomotive destroyed and 22 damaged and put out of action; six freight cars destroyed, 22 damaged; two anti-aircraft railway cars destroyed and two damaged; seven transport vehicles destroyed, two probably knocked out and seven damaged.
S/L Olmsted's flyers had the most success against trains — they disabled 18 of 23 locomotives and all but three of 34 freight cars.


Coveted Crosses Mark Distinguished Work in Battering Supply Lines of Enemy

December 30, 1944 - Five Hamilton fighter pilots who helped chase the Germans across France, Belgium and Holland, have earned the air force award for bravery, the Distinguished Flying Gross. The total was raised to five today with reports from overseas that F/L John Lumsden, 21 Mapleside Avenue, and F/L Harold d. Nixon, 137 Stinson street, had merited the decoration. All five operated from the same landing strip in France, battering Hun supply and communication lines.

Won Bar to Cross
Earlier it was reported that F/L George W. Johnson, 102 Beechwood Avenue, had been awarded the D.F.C. and later a bar. He is a leading Hamilton ace, with at least eight enemy planes to his credit. Having completed operations, he is now doing an instructional tour in England.
S/L William A. Olmsted, D.F.C., of 15 Chedoke Avenue, won his decoration in France after considerable service in the Middle East.
F/O Lloyd F. Berryman, D.F.C., 657 King street east, was another Hamilton pilot to win the D.F.C. in France.
Only two of the local airmen were with the same squadron but all operated from the same landing strip in Normandy.
About the time F/L Nixon was reported missing, the Allied armies had started to move and the remaining Hamiltonians moved up with them.
By the time F/L Berryman left for home, they were operating from Holland. S/L Olmsted is now in England, and will be home soon. F/L Lumsden is believed to be still on ops. Flying from the original landing strip were two other Hamiltonians, and the record of five awards out of seven is considered a mighty fine score.




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.


Squadron Leader W. Olmsted Now Has Three Awards — Expected Home Soon

31 Jan. 1945 - Hamilton's most decorated airman - "most destructive" the Germans would have it - is S/L William A. Olmsted, former C.O. of the City of New Westminster Squadron, who wears the insignia of the Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar. Immediate award of the D.S.O. was revealed today along with an enviable record of enemy planes, motor transport, and locomotives destroyed in months of campaigning in Africa and over the western front.
S/L Olmsted is the son of Major R. I. Olmsted, M.C., and Mrs. Olmsted, 15 Chedoke Avenue. In mid-October, with the better part of two tours of operations under his belt, the young airman had destroyed five Hun planes and 130 motor vehicles; damaged countless other vehicles and damaged 27 enemy locomotives.
When he was awarded the D.F.C., reference was made to the destruction of 50 German vehicles. By mid-October, when the citation came through for the bar to the cross, he had destroyed "a further 80 mechanical vehicles."

Magnificent Leader
The latter citation paid tribute to his "magnificent leadership and fine fighting spirit."
Forced to parachute in England after a raid on the Continent in October, S/L Olmsted had to abandon his craft a second time — on his final operation over the western front.
Veteran of the North African campaign, he was flying from English bases when the D-day invasion was launched. When landing strips went down in Normandy, he was among the first Canadians to operate from them. Although he led the squadron previously, he officially took command of the New Westminster squadron in mid-September.
Happy on the job in spite of scores of harrowing experiences and constant exposure to flak, weather and enemy aircraft, he was determined to find action whether by engaging enemy aircraft, rocket emplacements or motor transport.
Last fall, when he had occasion to report that "there wasn't a Hun in the skies," he led his squadron on dive bombing expeditions which earned them a signal reputation.
According to information received by his parents, Squadron-Leader Olmsted will be back in Hamilton shortly.


OLMSTED, S/L William Alfred, DFC (J5125) - Distinguished Service Order - No.442 Squadron
Award effective 16 February 1945 as per London Gazette of that date &
AFRO 508/45 dated 23 March 1945
16 February 1945 Globe and Mail has it as effective on the 15th
Hamilton Spectator on January 31st (above) says it's effective "today"

This officer has led the squadron on very many sorties during which great loss has been inflicted on the enemy. Much of the success achieved can be attributed to this officer's brilliant leadership, outstanding skill and courage which have inspired all under his command. Squadron Leader Olmsted himself has been responsible for putting out of action a large number of mechanical vehicles, numerous locomotives and coaches and much other equipment; he has also destroyed four enemy aircraft. His determination to harass the enemy on every possible occasion has been worthy of the highest praise.

NOTE: DHist file 181.009 D.2833 (RG.24 Volume 20632) has recommendation drafted about 30 December 1944 when he had flown 410 sorties (517 hours 30 minutes) or 46 sorties (68 operational hours) since his previous award. Again, the sheer detail of this document contrasts with the sparse description given in the official citation:

Since being recommended for a Bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross, Squadron Leader Olmsted has continued his trail of destruction over the enemy. Since that date he has destroyed or damaged a further 18 Mechanical Enemy Transport - destroyed two and damaged seven locomotives - destroyed 11 railway coaches and damaged 16 railway trucks - destroyed one Motor Transport trailer and troops and put out of action two flak cars. On top of this he is mainly responsible for the 53 rail cuts claimed by the squadron on their recent rail interdiction program. This brings his total destruction to 143 Mechanical Enemy Transport destroyed or damaged, 36 locomotives destroyed or damaged, 11 coaches destroyed, 16 trucks damaged, five armored fighting vehicles damaged, two trgs [?] damaged, one Motor Transport Trailer and troops destroyed, two flak cars put out of action plus four aircraft destroyed, two probably destroyed and three damaged.

Squadron Leader Olmsted's keenness to seek out and destroy the enemy is self-evident in that he carried out at least 75 percent of the operations flown by his squadron while it was under his command and it was through his aggressive spirit and outstanding leadership that the squadron rose from the bottom position to the top scoring ground attack squadron within their wing and proved to be the highest squadron at rail cuts within the wing. The latter was accomplished due largely to this officer's exhaustive and untiring efforts at Warmwell Practice Camp and later to the example he set up in pressing home his attacks to point blank range regardless of the amount of flak encountered.

The spirit that he has inspired amongst the pilots of his squadron is clearly shown in the following results achieved since he assumed command on September 30th:


- 23 destroyed 81 damages
- 13 destroyed 75 damaged
- 1 damaged
- 58 destroyed 73 damaged
- 3 damaged
- 1 destroyed 2 damaged
- 11 destroyed 4 damaged
- 2 damaged
- 1 destroyed

The destruction of enemy equipment for the loss of only four pilots shows great ability and extremely sound tactical judgment. During the last month of his tour, Squadron Leader Olmsted, in pressing home his attacks to such close range, was on two occasions shot up so badly that he was only able to make our lines before his aircraft caught fire and he was forced to bale out. These narrow escapes produced not the slightest slackness in the vigor and persistence with which this officer fought and led his squadron


Olmsted & Gray
Paddington, April '43 - Colin Gray describes his 21st kill, while Bill (left) enjoys a good smoke


S/L Olmsted Twice Shot Down in Operations - Record Includes 410 Sorties

2 Feb. 1945 - Veteran of 410 operational flights in North Africa, Sicily, Malta, Italy, Normandy, Belgium and Holland S/L W. A. Olmsted, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, commanding officer of the Caribou Squadron, R.C.A.F., and Hamilton's most decorated airman, has arrived at his home here on leave. A son of Major R.I. Olmsted, 15 Chedoke Avenue, he went overseas in September, 1942, after receiving his fighter pilot's wings at No. 6 S.F.T.S., Dunnville, on April 22, 1941.

Enjoyed Every Minute
"I enjoyed every minute of it," he said this morning. "I was campaigning all the time, sleeping in tents and working off air strips within a few miles of the enemy in Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Belgium and Holland. For the last three months I was operating almost entirely over western Germany. I really enjoyed every single minute of it."
Piloting a Spitfire, he was engaged in fighting enemy aircraft and strafing enemy motorized transport, trains, barges, gun emplacements, etc., as well as dive-bombing small strategic targets along the railways. He has been officially credited with the destruction of four enemy planes, two probables and three damaged planes. Of the four shot down, he told, he got one each in Sicily and Italy, and two over Normandy. The probables were over Italy and Normandy and the damaged ones were in Africa and Italy. Official records also credit him with destroying a very large number of transports, trains and strategic targets.
Never wounded, he was forced to bail out twice when his planes were "shot up." His first experience came on a raid over Munster. "On that occasion," he related, "I had dropped two bombs when I dive-bombed a lorry. At a height of 50 feet, I fired my guns at transports and the shuddering of the guns shook a third bomb off the plane. It landed fair on a lorry which blew up and also blew my plane up.

Loses Consciousness
"I lost consciousness and when I came to the plane was on its back and heading straight for the ground. All the controls were useless and all the ship would do was climb. The wings were bent up out of shape, the cockpit was buckled in, the tail was falling off and there were scores of holes all through the ship. After going for a hundred miles like that I bailed out at about 8,000 feet.”
His second "bailing out" experience came just recently on his last flight while he was "shooting up" an enemy troop train. "A man with a rifle got me this time," he said. He managed to glide 20 miles back to his own lines before jumping. He gives full credit to F/L Jack Lumsden, D.F.C., of Hamilton, for saving his life on this occasion. "I couldn't see at all," he related, “but Lumsden, flying beside me, remained calm and directed me back to where I jumped, about one and one-half miles behind our own lines.”
"I lived and died about a hundred and fifty times on that occasion. In fact, I think, a few times every inch of the way."

In Sicily, Italy
This gallant young airman "covered" the initial landings on the beaches of Sicily and Italy. Then, loaned to the United States Air Forces for a time, covered the Salerno beachheads for a month. Sent back to England for a rest period, he took a gunnery course and joined a wing of the R.A.F. with which he flew as a gunnery officer on operational flights. Rejoining his own wing of the R.C.A.F., he covered the beaches of Normandy on D-day. He was transferred to the Caribou Squadron which he commanded for several months.

Tribute to Associates
While his citations for the D.F.C. and Bar mention enemy aircraft and transports destroyed, he claims the D.S.O. is "more or less a present from the boys." "Those boys of my squadron," he said, "are the most marvelous bunch any one could ever meet. I simply got paid for what they did."
Hun pilots have always been afraid of Spitfires, he asserted. “They simply will not stay and fight them. They have an inborn fear of them. It may seem fantastic but I know of many instances where half a dozen or so Spitfires would take to the air against 200 or more Jerries, shoot a few of them down and then come back safely. The boys we’re shooting down are the green ones. The good ones - and there are some superb German pilots - just keep going on and on."
The end of the war, he believes, is coming sooner than many had expected, owing to the recent successes of the Russian armies.



5 May 1945 - A Canadian Spitfire squadron with but three aircraft left prevented disaster for the Allied armies in the African campaign. Hamilton's most decorated ace, Squadron-Leader William A. Olmsted, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, said here last night. S/L Olmsted who recently returned to Canada after commanding a Canadian Spitfire squadron in Holland, addressed a mess dinner of the 81st Hamilton Lions Squadron, Air Cadets of Canada, in the Rainbow room.
The Burlington Sea Cadets, of RCSCS Iron Duke, were guests of the squadron, and the evening was arranged as a return for courtesies extended to the cadets by the Burlington corps last summer.
S/L Olmsted gave a brief, interesting history of the 81st Squadron, R.C.A.F., from its formation during the last war. "The 81st Squadron is one of the top squadrons of the R.C.A.F. with 230 enemy aircraft to its credit," he disclosed. He cited the great work it had done in the Battle of Britain, the African campaign and at Gibraltar, Sicily, Malta and Salerno. After the Battle of Britain the squadron was sent to Russia to assist in the training of pilots of the Russian Air Force in R.A.F. tactics.

Ex-Members Present
The speaker was introduced by A. K. Charlesworth, president of the Hamilton Lions Club. A vote of thanks was tendered by Hugh Bain, Chairman, Air Cadet Committee, and Lions Club. A toast to the Navy League of Canada was proposed by WO2 Gordon Berner, 81st Squadron, and was responded to by P/O Bruce Ashcroft. P/O Gerry Haines proposed a toast to the Air Cadet League of Canada and the response was given by Sgt. Robert Horn, of the Lions Squadron.
Guests of the squadron who are serving in the armed forces were; Sgt. (W.A.G.) Trevor Meldrum, Sgt. (A.G.) Edward Oak and Sgt. Jack Trout, who are all former members of the squadron. One former member of the Sea Cadets Corps, (W.) George Dickenson, now serving with the R.C.N.V.R., was also a guest.
The evening was arranged by Sgt. Betty Greenall, secretary of the Lions Squadron; Sgt. Lillian Groves, Sgt. Harold Clarke, president of the mess committee, and WO2 Gordon Berner.


Victories Include :

23 April 1943
26 April 1943

29 June 1943
11 Sept 1943
23 Oct 1943

20 July 1944
27 July 1944
one Me109
one Me109

one Me109
one FW190
one Me109

two FW190s
one Me109



Salerno area
Bari area

81 Sq
81 Sq

232 Sq
232 Sq
232 Sq

442 Sq
442 Sq



4 / 1 / 3


Battle Of Britain Service Planned Here For Sunday
Pay Tribute To Heroic Airmen

On Sunday, September 21, (1947) Across the whole Dominion of Canada congregations in churches will bow their heads in prayer in tribute to the valiant members of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force who gave their lives for freedom in the Battle of Britain waged over the skies of that island from July to October 1940.
In that epic struggle for supremacy of the air Canada was represented by several hundred officers and airmen who served as air crew and ground crew in Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands. The great majority of these Canadians who fought in the Battle of Britain were young men who had crossed the Atlantic in pre-war days to enroll in the R.A.F. and served in units of that force. There were, however, two fighter squadrons which bore the name Canadian. One was 242 (Canadian) Squadron of the R.A.F., composed of Canadian fighter pilots in the R.A.F.; the other was No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron of the R.C.A.F., (later designated No. 401) which arrived in Britain on the eve of the battle.
Hamilton today mourns the loss of one of her sons who fought in this heroic battle. P/O Norris Hart, son of R. S. Hart, 90 Stinson Street, was shot down in the first week of November 1940 after having served with 242 Squadron under the famous leader S/L Douglas Bader for two months.

Official Record
Speaking of 242 Squadron R.A.F., on September 15, 1940, the official R.A.F. records state "September 15 marked the climax of the battle, the historic day on which 85 enemy aircraft were shot down. When, just before noon on that sunny Sunday morning, the first great waves of raiders began to cross the Channel, No. 242 Squadron took off to engage them. Over Gravesend, east of London, the squadron, accompanied by four other fighter units, found about 30 Dorniers escorted by Messerschmitt fighters flying 6,000 feet below. S/L Bader led his pilots in a diving attack out of the sun and the enemy force was all but annihilated. Bader described the action as "the finest shambles" he had been in. For once the British had the advantage of height, position and numbers; indeed the sky seemed to be full of Spitfires and Hurricanes who queued up and pushed each other out of the way to get a shot at the Nazi bombers. The German fighters judiciously stayed out of the way. Stansfeld and Turner each destroyed a Dornier; F/O Tamblyn shared another with a companion; S/L Bader shot down a fourth and a Fleet Air Arm pilot in the squadron accounted for a fifth. P/O Hart shot down an Me-109 in flames. In addition, several Dorniers were damaged. The four squadrons flying with No. 242 claimed 23 destroyed and eight probables in the action.
This is but the account of one squadron in one day of those terrible four months that finally hammered the Hun into submission so far as striving for the conquest of Britain was concerned. It is for the heroism of those pilots who fought those grim battles high above the British Isles that Canadians everywhere will offer a prayer of thanks on Sunday as will the people of Great Britain.

Church Parade
Here in Hamilton the occasion will be marked by a church parade of 424 Fighter Squadron R.C.A.F. (Auxiliary) and the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadrons of Hamilton to the Church of St. Thomas. At this special service Wing Cmdr. Douglas H. Wigle, commanding officer of 424 Squadron will read the lesson and Rev. Dr. R.C. Blagrave, rector of the church, will deliver a special sermon.
Following the service the squadron and cadets, led by the Air Cadet Trumpet Band, will march west on Main Street East to James Street, north on James to King Street, and east on King Street past a saluting base near the Cenotaph. Here the salute will be taken by Commander Sam Ross R.C.N. (R), commanding officer of H.M.C.S. Star; Lt.Col. A.E. Bliss, E.D., commanding officer of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, and Group Captain Norman S. McGregor, president of the Hamilton Air Cadets.
Following the march past the squadron will return on the north side of King Street and halt in front of the Cenotaph where a wreath will be placed and Last Post and Reveille sounded. The parade will then move off south on Hughson Street to Hunter Street for dismissal.
In the afternoon at approximately 4 o'clock two flights of the squadron, commanded by S/L Douglas Annan, D.F.C., A.F.C., and S/L William A. Olmsted, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, will fly in formation over the city.




Top photo from "Blue Skies" by Bill Olmsted

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