CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS AIR-FIGHTER DEPOT
Group Captain Campbell, Hamilton Officer, in Attendance
COUNTRY IS PROUD
Somewhere in England, Sept. 6, 1941 - (CP Cable) - Prime Minister Mackenzie King, visiting the first all-Canadian fighter station in Great Britain, told airmen today that "there is nobody in the world more in the hearts of all of us than you."
Obviously enjoying his visit to the great station, the Prime Minister chatted with young flyers standing beside their Spitfires, Hurricanes and Beaufighters.
Scores of the Royal Canadian Air Force men snapped pictures of Mr. King as he stood on the wing of an aeroplane and later sat in the cockpit of a Hurricane wearing a helmet and talking to the station control room over radio telephone.
"Nothing could inspire me more than meeting you airmen," he said in the longest informal speech he has made since coming to Britain. The speech was made to a Spitfire squadron.
"I suppose there is nobody in the world more in the hearts of all of us than you. I can't begin to tell you how proud we are of our air force.
"The people of Canada follow with pride and thankfulness your gallant exploits. Your bravery and courage are known to them."
Mr. King recalled that he had paid tribute to the R.C.A.F. flyers in his speech this week at the Lord Mayor's luncheon in London and said that no words he had ever uttered gave him more pleasure.
He added that "no act of the government ever pleased my colleagues and myself more than the working out of this plan with British representatives," referring to the initial conversations with Lord Riverdale and a British mission which led to the Commonwealth air training plan.
"From my heart I trust the all-seeing and living Providence will watch over you." Mr. King concluded: "God bless you all, boys."
Wearing a grey suit, a black Homburg and carrying a cane, Mr. King was in a jovial mood as he talked with the airmen. He climbed up on the wing of one of the new model Spitfires to shake hands with P/O Win Ash, of Dallas, Tex.
As photographers took pictures, the Prime Minister quipped: "Don't start this plane while I'm here. These press men would like nothing better than to have me taken up 60 feet and dropped."
Meet "The Boys"
"I wonder if I may shake hands with these men?" he said when he greeted F/L Kit Bushell, of Qu'Appelle, Sask., in charge of a group of Spitfire pilots who were lined up in front of their dispersal hut. Those he met included Pilot Officers Boyd Gartshore of Toronto; Ken Boomer of Ottawa; R. W. McNair of Prince Albert, Sask. and Sgt.-Pilots Dick Ellis, of Montreal; Bill Hagyard of Perth, Ont. and Aubrey Ferguson of Glace Bay, N.S.
Two of their mates — Ash and P/O Donald Blakeslee of Cleveland, Ohio — staged a practical scramble into their planes and Mr. King's hat was blown off by the slipstream caused by the propellers.
A squadron, led by Squadron Leader Paul Pitcher of Montreal, told Mr. King there was a scarcity of magazines and newspapers from home.
The Prime Minister was cheered as he headed towards Beaufighter squadrons, where he was greeted by F/L Bruce Hanbury of Vancouver. While Mr. King was inspecting the airmen, L.A.C. Stuart Lee, of Almonte, Ont., photographed him. Later Mr. King took pictures of the lads with Lee's camera and visited the squadron's operations room.
With Hamilton Officer
Mr. King was accompanied throughout his tour by Air Commodore Leigh Forbes Stevenson, air officer commanding the R.C.A.F. in the United Kingdom, and Group Capt. A. P. Campbell, of Hamilton, Ont., the first Canadian named to command an air station in Britain.
There was a touch of sadness when he asked of one group, "Who trained these men to their present fine efficiency?" He was told they were trained by an officer who was killed a few days ago — Wing Cmdr. N. R. Peterson, of Winnipeg.
Mr. King concluded the visit by chatting with members of a Hurricane squadron led by Squadron Ldr. Norm Johnstone, of Winnipeg. Among the men were P/O Don Ball of Edmonton and F/L "Bev" Christmas of Montreal.
The Prime Minister climbed into the cockpit of a Hurricane and P/O Bud Connell of Nipawin, Sask., showed him how to work the radio telephone. Mr. King sent greetings to the control room.
411 Squadron at Digby in 1941 - From Left to Right - Front Row Sitting : F/O R. N. P. Whalley (Adj.), F/L Ken Boomer, W/C H. P. Blatchford, S/L P. B. Pitcher, F/L R. C. Weston, P/O R. W. McNair & P/O W. F. "Tex" Ash.
Back Row: Medical Officer (RAF), Dave Evans, Gord Lapp, Stein Taylor, Charlie Semple, Jack Leggatt, Tom Holden, Fred Green, unknown, unknown, Mat Reid, Bill Sills, unknown, David Brown, Mac Maclachlan, W.J. Curtis, Joe McFarlane, Neil Mara, Jack Long, Don Blakeslee & unknown.
|Enlisted Montreal, 26 September 1939.
From RCAF Auxiliary (No.115 Squadron),
Winged 8 December 1939.
Battle of Britain pilot with No.1 (Canadian) Squadron;
Later acting CO of Nos.401 and 411 Squadrons.
Also served with No.417 Squadron in Middle East.
Resigned, 28 November 1944.
Keen Canadian Fliers Delight His Majesty
(By LOUIS HUNTER) Somewhere in England, Nov. 14, 1941 - (CP Cable) - Canada's aces of the skies, young men who carry the air offensive to enemy territory in fast fighter aircraft and powerful bombers were reviewed Thursday by the King during the first visit His Majesty has paid to R.C.A.F. squadrons formed under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
It was disclosed tonight that upon conclusion of his visit the King told Air Commodore L. F. Stevenson, commander of the R.C.A.F. in Britain, that he was delighted with the keenness of the Canadian airmen who are playing such a vital role in Britain's increasing offensive against Germany.
His Majesty spent all day Thursday with the airmen — many of them still in their 'teens — in a 150-mile tour which took him to six R.A.F. stations, including the first station to be commanded by a Canadian, Group Captain A. P. Campbell of Hamilton, Ont.
He chatted with many of the several hundred men there, inspected their bombers and looked over the deadly Beaufighter which Wing Commander Paul Davoud of Kingston, Ont., was flying when he shot down a Nazi night raider two weeks ago.
At each station the men stood stiffly at attention, either in their vast hangers or on muddy roads while the King, in the uniform of marshal of the Royal Air Force, accompanied by Air Commodore Stevenson and the squadron commanders, carried out inspections, at the end of which the airmen cheered His Majesty.
Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, commander in chief of the Fighter Command, took part in inspection of fighter pilots, and Air Marshal Sir Richard Peirse, commander in chief of the Bomber Command, attended His Majesty during inspection of the bomber crews.
The formality of the inspections was broken twice during the day. The King paused for refreshments while visiting a Spitfire squadron commanded by Squadron Leader Jack Morrison of Regina, and met fliers informally at the officers' mess of Campbell's station, where he lunched.
A Hampden bomber wing led by Wing Commander N. W. Timmerman of Kingston, Ont., the only Canadian wing commander who holds the Distinguished Service Order, was the first unit visited by His Majesty. The King stepped from his big black sedan and talked a few minutes with Timmerman before starting his inspection; during which he shook hands with Squadron Leaders A. C. P. Clayton of Vancouver, W. J. Burnett of Garden Creek, N.B. and other squadron and flight commanders.
Hens and ducks cluttered around the King's car as he drove through a farmyard to the airdrome where command of a Spitfire squadron has been taken over by Squadron Leader Morrison in succession to Squadron Leader Chris Bushell of Toronto, who is missing after a recent sweep over Northern France.
After inspection of this squadron, during which he chatted with Flight Lieutenant C. T. Cantrell of Ottawa and Sergeants C. R. Olmstead of Ottawa and T. M. Crane of Saskatoon, the King visited a dispersal hut. He stood by a small Quebec heater and sipped tea and ate a biscuit, then smoked a cigarette, while Morrison related the squadron's experiences.
Visits Night Fighters
His Majesty also met Hart Massey, the squadron's intelligence officer and son of Hon. Vincent Massey, Canadian High Commissioner to London.
Before lunching at the Canadian station where the roadways bear such names as Piccadilly, Alberta Avenue, Ottawa Street and Yukon Trail, the King inspected the night fighter squadron of Wing Commander Davoud and met Flight Lieutenant Bruce Hanbury of Vancouver, one of the most popular officers in the squadron.
Squadron Leader P. B. Pitcher, who flies the Hurricane "Byng of Vimy," presented by Lady Byng in memory of Canada's former Governor-General, commands another squadron reviewed by the King. His Majesty shook hands with him and with Flight-Lieutenant Ken Boomer of Ottawa, who shot down a German machine Nov. 7 and Flight-Lieutenant R. C. Weston of Saint John, N.B.
The King concluded his tour with a visit to a Royal Air Force bomber squadron which numbers a handful of Canadians among the crews of the Hampdens and Manchesters, and to a station in the technical training command where he saw airmen learning wireless signaling.
Lunch was prepared for the King by members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force posted at Group Captain Campbell's station. The menu consisted of thick soup, roast chicken and custard tart, with; sherry and red and white wines.
Group Captain Campbell sat on the King's right.
Scores First Victories
Ottawa, Dec. 4, 1941 - (CP) - A newly formed Royal Canadian Air Force fighter squadron, led by Squadron Leader P. B. Pitcher of Montreal, has shot down one Messerschmitt 109 and damaged two more in recent sweeps over France, R.C.A.F. Headquarters announced tonight,
The German aircraft first to be shot down by the squadron, fell before the two cannon and four machine guns of a new Mark V Spitfire flown by Pilot Officer R.W. McNair of North Battleford, Sask.
"I was on a sweep and saw a number of Messerschmitts below me," said McNair in a report. "I dived on them and saw they were circling a pilot in the sea. I picked one out and gave him a three-second burst. I overshot him and pulling away. I saw him go into the sea. This took place over Boulogne. The pilot did not bale out.
"I climbed again and turned for home. Then a Jerry dived on me from out of the sun, his fire hitting my engine. My cockpit filled with smoke and the enemy overshot me. He came around directly in front of me. It was my turn then and I gave him a burst and saw hits registering. His hood came off. Only my starboard guns were firing now and flames were coming out of the cockpit. So I put my nose down.”
"Finding my engine cutting out I baled into the sea. I got rid of my parachute immediately upon touching the water and had no trouble inflating my dinghy. I was picked up fifteen minutes later by a sea rescue motorboat."
McNair trained at Toronto, Windsor and Kingston and worked for Canadian Airways before enlisting, the Air Force said.
The squadron's first engagement was described by Squadron Leader Pitcher:
"On a day sweep over France we were jumped by a number of Messerschmitt 109's. From then on it was everybody's individual party with only sections managing to keep together. Two Huns dropped down on Flight Lieutenant Boomer's tail, but he shook them off and managed to get in a squirt at one of them."
Flight Lieutenant K. A. Boomer of Ottawa is the leader of a flight of the squadron, the air force said. He came from the University of Toronto to the R.C.A.F. three months before war broke out.
Squadron Leader Pitcher joined No. 115 Auxiliary Squadron in Montreal in 1935. He was a junior partner in the law firm of Mann, Lefleur & Brown until war started. He went overseas with one of the first fighter squadrons and shot down a Messerschmitt while with that unit.
Sergeant Pilot J. D. McFarlane, Calais, Maine, who trained at Prince Albert, Regina and Ottawa, described his part in the squadron's initial scrap:
"I felt a sudden explosion under me and I felt a hit on my leg. My cockpit filled with grey smoke. I wasn't certain whether I was being attacked by enemy aircraft or flak. Looking at my wings, I saw a number of small holes in them, and the port wing was covered with oil.
Bails Out Safely
"I headed for the English coast and about two minutes later my engine stopped. I was up about 23,000 feet when the fun started so I glided down.
"A Rhodesian squadron leader covered me all the way back. At about half a mile from the coast I slowed down and baled out. I landed between Dover and Folkestone about 200 yards inland. My leg wound was only slight and I was flying two days later."
"B" flight of the squadron is led by Flight Lieutenant R. C. Weston of De Marts Street West, Saint John, N.B., who saw action with a Royal Air Force squadron earlier in the war. He bagged a Heinkel and a Dornier while with his first squadron. The new Spitfires are popular with the Canadian fighter pilots. "There's nothing like them," said Pilot Officer J. R. Coleman, Waterloo Street, Saint John, one of the newest members of the unit.
Sergeant Pilot F. E. Green is from Toronto.
PITCHER, F/L Paul Brooke (C615) - Mention in Dispatches - No.411 Squadron
Award effective 1 January 1942 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 142/42 dated 30 January 1942.
MANY CANADIANS RECEIVE AWARDS IN KING’S LIST
Twenty-Two Flyers Are Named For Outstanding Services
London, Jan. 2, 1942 — (CP Cable) — Canadians fighting in the air and on the sea were rewarded by the King yesterday in the New Year's honors list. Of the 24 Canadians included in the list, all but two, are airmen.
Three Air 'Aces'
Among the seven Canadian members of the Royal Air Force receiving the Air Force Cross were listed three aces whose brilliant flying had brought them decorations before—Wing Commander John Fulton, of Kamloops, B.C.; F/L Archibald P. Walsh, of London, Ont., and F/L Lawrence L. Jones, of Port Arthur, Ont.
Fulton received the Distinguished Flying Cross on September 28, 1940, for outstanding skill in a raid on Brussels. Walsh was awarded the D.F.C. on December 19, 1940 — just after the R.A.F. had won its great battle over Britain against the German air force.
Jones not only won the D.F.C. in 1940 but was also "mentioned in dispatches" in the King's 1941 New Year's honors list.
The Air Force Cross, which was instituted in 1918, is designed for presentation upon officers and warrant officers of the R.A.F. "for acts of courage or devotion to duty when flying, although not in active operations against the enemy."
The Distinguished Flying Cross, which also dates from 1918, is bestowed "for acts of gallantry when flying in active operations against the enemy."
Seven in Dispatches
A distinguished group of seven Canadians in the R.A.F. were listed as mentioned in dispatches. They were Acting S/L R.A.D. Foster, of Prince Albert, Sask.; Acting S/L J. H. Van, of Lake Megantic, Que.; Acting W/C Howard P. Blatchford, of Edmonton; Acting W/C N. W. Timmerman, of Kingston, Ont.; F/L J. M. Bodman, of Edmonton; F/L K. B. Corbould, of New Westminster, B.C. and Acting S/L H. R. Beall, whose Canadian home town was not given.
Blatchford and Corbould had previously won the D.F.C. for gallantry in action and Timmerman was awarded the Distinguished Service Order last September 19. All of them have seen the heaviest action and Bodman was reported wounded in action on August 26, 1941.
Flight Sergeant J. F. Bishop, of Calgary, was awarded the Air Force Medal.
Hamilton Man Included
Warrant Officer J. L. McKenzie, a member of the R.A.F. since 1919 and whose birthplace was given merely as "Colchester, Canada," was made a member of the Order of the British Empire.
The following members of the Royal Canadian Air Force were listed as mentioned in dispatches:
G/C A. P. Campbell, of Hamilton, Ont. (wife lives at 304 Queen street south, Hamilton);S/L N. R. Johnstone, of Regina and Winnipeg (T. A. Johnstone, father, 556 McGee street, Winnipeg); F/O J. A. Ross, of Moncton, N.B. (wife lives at 41 Cornell street, Moncton); S/L P. B. Pitcher, of Montreal, commander of the First R.C.A.F. Squadron in Britain; Sergeant-Pilot H. S. McNeil, of Welland, Ont. (G. J. McNeil, father, 79 Merrett street, Welland); Sergeant-Gunner R. J. Ward, of Lachine, Que. (Mrs. Irene Ward, mother, 95 55th avenue, Lachine).
Ace Canadian Air Fighters Are Named by Winnipeg Flier
Winnipeg, March 2, 1942 - (CP) - Wing Commander J. A. (Alex) Kent of Winnipeg, member of a Royal Air Force squadron that shot down numerous Nazi planes during raids and over the Channel, said here today that Wing Commander Mark (Hilly) Brown of Glenboro, Man., killed in action, "was one of the best fighter pilots in the R.A.F. and still heads the list of Canadian aces" in this war.
Speaking before members of the Canadian Club, Wing Commander Kent told of how the Manitoban distinguished himself in several actions against the enemy as flight commander in the R.A.F.'s No. 1 Fighter Squadron.
Other Canadians whom he named as great fighters were members of No. 1 Canadian Fighter Squadron— Wing Commander E. A. McNab, Regina; Wing Commander Gordon McGregor and Squadron Leaders Dal Russel, Hartland Molson and Paul Pitcher, all from Eastern Canada.
He told how he and other British pilots drilled a squadron of Polish pilots. "One day the Polish squadron was practicing intercepting enemy raiders when they actually ran into a lot of Nazi planes. The fighters gathered around and got the trainees out of trouble except for one Polish airman (Lt. Ludwik Paszkiewicz - ed), who dashed across, shot down a Dornier 17* and then rejoined the squadron. The R.A.F. officers thought it was just lucky.
The next day however, the Poles shot down six Messerschmitts for no loss. Then the R.A.F. officers decided the Poles had trained enough and the squadron was allowed to go into action, which they did with a vengeance. Flying Hurricanes, the Poles shot down 130 enemy planes in the next six weeks," Wing Commander Kent said.
*According to post-war research, the plane claimed as a
Do 17 by Paszkiewicz was a Messerschmitt Bf 110 - ed
Montrealer Becomes Leader of Squadron
London, April 6, 1942 — (CP Cable) — S/L Paul S. Pitcher, of Montreal, a veteran of the Battle of Britain, has been given command of a new R.C.A.F. Spitfire squadron after returning from a brief visit to Canada, it was announced last night.
Flight-commanders who will serve under Pitcher are F/L F. B. Foster, of Montreal, and F/L W. H. Pentland, of Calgary, both of whom used to fly with another Montrealer, S/L Vaughan Corbett.
Canadians Move To Middle East As RCAF Unit
London, June 9, 1942 — (CP Cable) — A Royal Canadian Air Force fighter squadron has arrives in the Middle East to help knock the axis out of the desert skies.
Though a number of Canadians already are serving in Libya and Malta with the R.A.F., the squadron headed by S/L Paul B. Pitcher, of Montreal, is the first Canadian air unit to join the Middle East fighting. In the Far East, in Ceylon, there is an R.C.A.F. squadron of Catalina flying boats.
Air Vice-Marshal Harold Edwards, chief of R.C.A.F. headquarters in Britain, bid farewell to the airmen and their ground crews when they sailed from a British port wearing tropical kit and carrying big pith helmets.
"I firmly believe you are particularly well suited to the type of fighting which will face you," he said. "The wide open spaces of Canada have something in common with the great expanses you will soon be encountering, although the great stretches of sand and water will present some contrast."
Canadians in Africa Are in High Spirits
Advanced Airfield, Tunisia, April 26, 1943 — (Delayed) — (BUP) — Pilots of a Royal Canadian Air Force squadron belonging to the desert air force were in high spirits when visited on a forward landing ground.
"Our main ambition has been to be in the front line at the kill, and here we are," said the squadron commander, S/L F. B. Foster, of Montreal.
"The squadron was formed in England in November 1941," Foster told me, "and to start with, it was by no means all Canadian. S/L C. E. Malfroy, the New Zealand Davis Cup player, was our first O.C. and most of the ground crew were British. By last June, however, when we were posted to the Middle East, we were commanded by S/L Paul B. Pitcher, who had been in the first Canadian fighter squadron to come overseas, and the outfit became 75 per cent Canadian. Today it is 90 per cent Canadian."
Victories Include :
|15 Sept 1940
27 Sept 1940
5 Oct 1940
damaged * Me111 ?
2 / 0 / 2 or 1 / 0 / 3
* I was Red 2 which was leading section of squadron. We attacked about 15 Do215s proceeding in a westerly direction Northeast of Kenley. I attacked one Do215 from port quarter astern and slightly above, closing to dead astern. After several seconds of fire from astern he pulled up steeply and smoke was issuing from his engines. I broke off and made a beam deflection shot on another from starboard with no visible effect and finally one attack on same aircraft from astern above, when amuniton ran out. Time of action approx. 1515 hours. Cine film taken.)
- It is interesting to note that while the squadron claimed 1 dest and 5 dam, when the wreckage was surveyed it was found that 5 had been destroyed and 1 damaged.
** I was yellow 1 leading searching section. about 10 miles east of maidstone we engaged about 10 Me109s. I failed to make contact and climbed up to 21,000 ft. Near Canterbury I encountered four Me. 109s in line astern and attacked the last one in a port deflection from beam closing to astern about 100 yards. I fired about 12 seconds in three bursts, in the last burst large bits were seen to fall off e/a, his undercarriage dropped and he rolled on his back. No further results were observed as I was forced to break off, being attacked by other Me. 109s from above. At the end of the break away I made a deflection attack on the last of the three Me. 110s in line astern from above and astern at about 250 yards. I gave one burst of about four seconds and ran out of ammunition. Strong return fire was encountered. Tracers were seen to enter e/a, which was seen to be damaged as I broke away and dived down violently.