"George (Starkey, in Dec. 1943) now had to endure a stretch of idleness at No. 1 PRC in Bournemouth. Gerry Racine's squadron blew into town one night, and the following morning the ceilings in their hotel were decorated with footprints! Britain in wartime demanded some personal adjustments." (quoted from Typhoon & Tempest the Canadian Story by Hugh Halliday)
Born 21 May 1920 in St.Boniface, Manitoba
Chicago (1930-31) &
Montreal (1931-1938) - West Hill High School
Home in Montreal
Had trained as an artist specializing in animation
- and was working for his father's firm, Vibra-Lite Ltd.
Also free-lanced as a commercial artist, 1940-1941
Enlisted in Montreal, 11 November 1940 (AC2)
No.2 Manning Depot, Brandon, 11 Nov. to 11 Dec. 1940
No.4 SFTS, Saskatoon (guard duty), 12 Dec. '40 to 4 Jan. '41
No.2 ITS, Regina, 5 January to 7 February 1941
(graduated 4 February 1941 but made LAC on 7th)
No.8 EFTS, Vancouver, 8 February to 29 March 1941
No.10 SFTS, Dauphin, 10 April to 28 June 1941
(graduated 21 June 1941)
Graduated 7th in a class of 48 which included
- I.F. Kennedy and J.D. Mitchner.
Commissioned 22 June 1941
Attended Central Flying School, Trenton
(29 June to 18 September 1941)
Instructed at No.13 SFTS, St.Hubert
(19 September 1941 to 2 April 1943)
(Promoted to Flying Officer, 15 June 1942)
Attended No.1 OTU, Bagotville
(3 April to 19 June 1943)
Posted to Halifax,
Embarked from Canada on 30 June 1943
Arrived in the UK on 7 July 1943
(He had been a competent instructor 1941-43 and the CO of No.124 Squadron recommended him for an AFC in July 1945, describing him as follows: "He has shown an extraordinary keenness to produce competent and successful pupils".
No award followed)
Further trained at
No.59 OTU (27 July to 16 October 1943) &
No.56 OTU (17 October to 28 October 1943)
No.263 Squadron (Typhoons), 28 October 1943
Promoted to Flight Lieutenant, 21 December 1943
Reported missing 31 March 1944
(baled out at 15,000 feet, landed unhurt other than momentary concussion and sprained ankles). Exposed to moderate hardships sleeping in open in wet clothing; reached Britain 16 April 1944; the SIO at RCAF HQ suggested an award for his evasion but none forthcoming)
Repatriated to Canada, 11 May 1944
At Station Trenton, 20 June to 18 July 1944
No.124 (Ferry) Squadron, St.Hubert, 19 July '44 to 6 Feb '46
Released from RCAF 8 February 1946
DFC presented 25 February 1949
NOTE: The ORB of No.263 has several interesting entries pertaining to him. Upon his arrival the squadron was flying the last of its Whirlwind operations and he did not operate on that type. The first Typhoons were delivered on 2 December 1943. The unit had a party on the 3rd, marking the end of the much-liked Whirlwinds. Training on the Typhoons began in earnest, with two pilots lost on 26 December 1943 (Flight Sergeant Handley, F/O Mogg). The unit attended an Armament Practice Camp at Warmwell (5-19 January). The squadron was declared operational on 1 February 1944. The first operation, a ship recce on the 2nd, was abortive owing to weather. Racine was appointed “B” Flight Commander in February 1944.
3 February 1944 - His first recorded sortie. Form 541 entry described it as dive bombing a Noball site, Ramrod 128, the second of the day, 1520-1620, eight Typhoons led by S/L Warnes, Racine in JR196; first attempt had failed due to weather:
Again impossible to reach the target through the cloud. Maupertus Airfield was dive bombed as an alternative target, and five bursts were seen in the S.E. dispersal area. These were the first bombs dropped “id auger” [in anger ?] by Bomphoons of the squadron.
4 February 1944 - Ramrod 124, dive bombing Noball, eight Typhoons led by S/L Warnes, 0903-1003, Racine in JR330.
Finding unsuitable weather our aircraft jettisoned bombs and flew an uneventful shipping recce to the Isle Marcouf area.
5 February 1944 - Ramrod 129 Part I, 0855-0955, described in Form 541 as “Repeat of previous days operations, 7/10 cloud prevented dive bombing.” Racine on JR362. The fourth mission of the day was 1635 to 1740, Ramrod 129, Part 3, led by S/L Warnes; Racine flying “196”. Form 541 read:
Dive Bombing of Noball target. Bomb bursts straddled the target from North to South and it is likely that some damage was done. Flak was accurate and holed F/O Tuff’s aircraft.
13 February 1944 - Form 540 entry as follows:
Overcast and cold. Afternoon, Rodeo 82. The Commanding Officer destroyed an ME.109F at Chartres and F/L G.G. Racine destroyed three more on the ground. Unfortunately Flight Sergeant G. Williams was shot down by flak at Etemps/Mondair Airfield; he must have been killed instantly. P/O W.E. Watkins aircraft was also hit byflak; he pulled up successfully to bale out at 1,500 feet.
The Form 541 entry for the above indicates this was Rodeo 82 (1530-1730) led by S/L Warnes, six Typhoons, Racine flying “249”
This sweep of Chartres and Mondesir was carried out as is normal at zero feet after crossing the coast at 8,000 feet.
At Chartres airfield the C.O. chased at, shot down a Me.109 while F/L Racine ground straffed five Me.109s which were refuelling. He destroyed three of them in a remarkable conflagration. P/O Purkis attacked covered shelters. Flak here was surprised and late. But at Etampes/Mondesir it was intense and too accurate. Flight Sergeant Williams was seen to go in from zero feet and is believed to have been killed. F/O Watkins aircraft streamed glycol and he baled out a few minutes later. His parachute opened fully at 1,500 feet.
22 February 1944 - On a sweep/shipping reconnaissance, Commanding Officer ditched near Guernsey. Other pilots orbited. Racine and F/O R.B. Tuff saw CO swimming to dinghy pack. Tuff thought CO was hurt, said he was going to bale out to help. Racine advised against it - but Tuff baled out anyway. Near home, Racine had trouble with fuel feed changing tanks, finally landed wheels up at Roborough.
12 March 1944 - His first sortie since the disaster of 22 February 1944 - an uneventful patrol on MN170, 1615-1714 hours.
17 March 1944 - On Ramrod 98, 1425-1605, Racine one of three Typhoons, he on MN120. Form 541 reads: Sweep of Vire, Fougares, St. Malo, Channel Islands. Some flak from St.Malo but no enemy aircraft and no ships.
21 March 1944 - Flying MN170 he was leading four Typhoons on shipping recce, 1755 to 1900. Form 541 reads:
Recce of Cherbourg Harbour. They climbed from zero feet West to East to fly over the outer moles at 3,000 feet but surprised the flak out of the sun. It was late and inaccurate. No ships in the harbour which was thoroughly inspected.
31 March 1944 - Racine (MN170) led four aircraft (1904-2119) to catch Ju.88s at Vannes and Kerlin Bastard at last light as they came home from Biscay patrols. Went in at Ile Groix from sea at naught feet, patrolled between there and mainland under 10/10 cloud, visibility bad. In wandering, Racine separated from others who got home. He straggled, met flak near Morlaix, then reported missing. Search did not turn him up.
16 April 1944 - "In the evening we heard that 'Gerry' Racine, RCAF, had returned to London after being shot down near Morlaix on the night of 31st March. Later, we learnt from him that he had been attacked by a ME.410, had then got on its tail, and destroyed it with one long, true burst, then had found his controls jammed and had to bale out. The rest is, or must be, silence, but we believe that Gerry had some extremely remarkable adventures."
Public Record Office WO 208/3319 has his MI.9 evasion report based on interview of 17 April 1944. He had arrived in Britain the previous day (report states his OTU had been No.51 OTU, Millfield). All map references were to France 1:250,000.
I was pilot of a Typhoon aircraft which left Predanack on 31 March 1944 at 1900 hours to patrol the Isle de Groux (Sheet 13, G.60) area.
At about 2100 hours, when approximately over the Isle de Batz (Sheet 7, R.33) I was attacked by a night fighter and, after an engagement in which I believe I shot him down, I was compelled to bale out.
I came down in an open field about three kilometres north of Plouezoch (R.4723). I hit the ground pretty hard and was knocked out for the moment. When I came to I found I could not walk, so crawled into a ditch. I remained in this all night. I inflated my dinghy, and with the help of it and my parachute, erected a small tent which afforded me a certain amount of protection.
At about 1000 hours (1 April) I buried my parachute and dinghy. I had already removed my badges. I could see a farm about 300 yards away, and hid in a hedge and watched it till about mid-day. I saw that it appeared to be inhabited only by an old man and woman, and decided to approach them.
After some difficulty I got them to understand who I was and that I wanted to get into touch with somebody who spoke English. The old man, after having had a good look round to see that there were no Germans in the neighbourhood, provided me with an old raincoat and a beret and took me across a road to within 200 yards of a house, where he said I would find a teacher. I knocked at the door of the house. A voice said, “Entrez”, and I entered, to find a lad of about 17. The family soon collected men and, although the mother was frightened and wanted me to go, the others insisted on keeping me, giving me food and drying my clothes.
I got one of the sons to pin-point my position on a map, and told them that I would like, if possible, to get a boat. Another son said he knew of a boat, and that he would get a man to come and see me next day. I was given a room and a bed for the night, but told to keep away from the windows, as there were Germans in the neighbourhood.
On the evening of 2 April a man and woman turned up to see me. The woman gave me to understand that I was to be taken to Morlaix within the next two or three days, and that I would be informed of the exact day. I was stripped of all my identification.
On 4 April at about 1300 hours I was given a forged identity card and a box of far produce, and taken to a deserted farm quite near. In about an hour’s time the man who had come with the woman called for me in a car and took me to his house in Morlaix (R.41). From this point my journey was arranged for me. (-Halliday's notes)
Hugh Halliday, in his excellent book "TYPHOON & TEMPEST the Canadian Story," (available at canavbooks) gives us this little piece of Racine history ...
"Another notable escapade in the days before D-Day involved F/L Gerald G. Racine (J58OO), a native of St. Boniface, Manitoba, and citizen of Montreal on enlistment. Like many other RCAF pilots, he had been retained in Canada as an instructor until the spring of 1943, and had not arrived overseas until July 1943. He joined No. 263 Squadron on October 28, 1943, and eventually achieved an enviable record. On February 13, 1944, the squadron attacked an airfield near Chartres. While the Commanding Officer, S/L G.B. Warnes (RAF), destroyed a Bf.109 in aerial combat, Racine went down to strafe five additional Messerschmitts being refueled. Three of these were destroyed in what the unit diarist described as "a remarkable conflagration."
Nine days later, on February 22, Racine witnessed what can only be described as a foolish tragedy. No. 263 was on a shipping reconnaissance near Guernsey when Warnes had to ditch. While the other pilots orbited, Racine and F/O R.B. Tuff (RAF) came low enough to see the CO swimming towards his dinghy pack. Tuff thought Warnes was hurt, and said he was going to abandon his aircraft and help Warnes. Racine advised against it, but Tuff baled out anyway. Racine continued to circle, hoping to draw a rescue craft, but none appeared before he had to fly back. Near home he had trouble with the fuel feed while changing tanks; he finally landed wheels up at Roborough. Tuff's bravery was for naught; both he and Warnes were lost.
March 31, 1944, was the highlight of Racine's career. At 1904 hours he took off in MN170, leading three Tiffies. Their mission was to catch Ju.88s at Vannes and Kerlin Bastard at last light as they came home from Bay of Biscay patrols. The formation entered France at naught feet near He Groix, then patrolled between there and the mainland under 10/10 cloud. Visibility was bad. In wandering, Racine separated from the others who eventually got home. He straggled, met flak near Morlaix, then was reported missing. A search failed to turn him up, but on April 16 the squadron diary carried a jubilant entry:
In the evening we heard that 'Gerry' Racine, RCAF, had returned to London after being shot down near Morlaix on the night of 31 March. Later, we learnt from him that he had been attacked by a ME.410, had then got on its tail, and destroyed it with one long, true burst, then had found his controls jammed and had to bale out. The rest is, or must be, silence, but we believe that Gerry had some extremely remarkable adventures.
Racine had indeed evaded capture and escaped France with the aid of the French Resistance, SOE, and his own command of French. He was immediately pulled from operations and repatriated to Canada.
Typhoon operations before D-Day were chiefly to prepare the way for the Army. That included a systemic campaign to wipe out enemy radar systems, so that the Allied air and naval forces might approach the coast undetected until the last moment. Unfortunately, radar sites bristled with anti-aircraft guns and the Typhoon units paid a price."
CANADIAN AIRMEN HIGHLY HONOURED
Ottawa, Sept. 29, 1944 — Sqdn. Ldr. G. B. Ellwood, Portage la Prairie, Man.; Sqdn. Ldr. L. L. MacKinnon, Ponoka, Alta. and Sqdn. Ldr. G. A. Sweany, Toronto, all holders of the Distinguished Flying Cross, have been awarded the Distinguished Service Order, R.C.A.F. headquarters announced last night.
The announcement, which also included the award of three D.F.C.s, said they were awarded for "outstanding and continuous service of exceptionally high order." The recipients :
Sqdn. Ldr. G. B. Ellwood, Portage la Prairie, Man.
Sqdn. Ldr. L. L. MacKinnon, Ponoka, Alta.
Sqdn. Ldr. G. A. Sweany, Toronto
Flt. Lt. A. L. Brown, Hawarden, Sask.
Flt. Lt. G. G. Racine, Montreal.
F. O. W. M. Arbuckle. Lakeside, Que.
RACINE, F/L Gerald Geoffrey (J5800) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.263 Sq.
Award effective 19 September 1944 as per London Gazette dated 29 September 1944 and
AFRO 2373/44 dated 3 November 1944.
This officer has taken part in many fighter operations against enemy airfields in France. In February, 1944, he participated in the destruction of an enemy aircraft and later in the same month badly damaged three Messerschmitt 109s on the ground during a determined attack on Chartres airfield. On another occasion an aircraft of his squadron was forced down onto the sea. Flight Lieutenant Racine remained circling in the area until forced to make a hazardous landing from lack of fuel. In March 1944, during a sortie against an enemy airfield in the Brest Peninsula, Flight Lieutenant Racine engaged an enemy aircraft and shot it down. His own aircraft was damaged and he was forced to abandon it by parachute. With great coolness and courage he evaded capture and succeeded in returning to his squadron. He has invariably displayed outstanding gallantry and as a flight commander has inspired his pilots with the utmost confidence.
Victories Include :
"His actual victories are a problem. The citation to his DFC appears to be in error when saying that three enemy aircraft were "badly damaged" when they were in fact destroyed. DHist records do not indicate victories prior to attack on Chartres airfield. Yet in November 1944 he applied for operational wings. He listed 18 sorties from 3 February 1944 (dive bombing Noball site, 55 minutes) to his being downed on 31 March 1944. In this form he claims several victories, none of which can be traced through the citation, combat report or intelligence reports. His list (with appropriate comments by Hugh Halliday, is as follows: "
13 February 1944
23 February 1944
3 March 1944
12 March 1944
31 March 1944
| 3 Me109s
|destroyed OTG during Rodeo
destroyed during ASR patrol
destroyed during invasion exercise
destroyed during scramble
destroyed on night low level sweep
4 / 0 / 0
plus 3 / 0 / 0 On The ground
|confirmed by citation, combat report and intelligence reports
no confirmation from other sources
listed on W/C F.H. Hitchins' RCAF Combat Cards and cited in DFC award