Donald Wesley Rathwell

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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.


Born 15 July 1921 in Brandon, Manitoba
Home in Winnipeg
(clerk, former COTC & former Royal Canadian Artillery)
Enlisted there 5 March 1941
Trained at
No.2 ITS (graduated 15 August 1941),
No.2 EFTS (graduated 24 October 1941) &
No.13 SFTS (graduated with wings on 16 January 1942
Overseas in March 1942
Further trained before service with No.403 Squadron
(25 August to 25 November 1942)
To No.81 Squadron, North Africa, 21 December 1942
To Malta, 6 June 1943
Commissioned 26 March 1943
Promoted to Flying Officer, 26 September 1943
Went with No.81 Squadron to India (November 1943)
Remaining with that unit until 4 March 1944
To AFTU (India), 7 March to 13 November 1944
To No.17 Squadron (Ceylon), 13 November 1944
Promoted to Flight Lieutenant, 26 March 1945
Left India in April 1945
Repatriated to Canada, July 1945
Released 13 September 1945

He claimed two tours;
With No.81 Squadron
(1 September 1942 to 4 November 1943, 132 sorties)
With Nos.81 and 17 Squadrons
(20 December 1943 to 20 December 1944, 145 sorties)
Claimed a score of 3.5 / 1 / 3

Transferred from Reserve to No.402 Squadron (Auxiliary)
(14 November 1946 as Flying Officer)
Flight Lieutenant on 1 January 1949
Squadron Leader on 1 June 1950
Wing Commander on 8 November 1951
Commanded No.402 (Auxiliary) Squadron
(8 November 1951 to 1 August 1953)
DFC presented 18 May 1946
Received Queen's Coronation Medal, 28 Oct. 1953 as W/C


Aerial Slaughter Shared in Monday By Two Canadians
Manitoba and Nova Scotia Pilots Helped to Down 21 Nazi Transports

Near Catania, Sicily, July 28, 1943 — (CP Cable)— Two Canadian fighter pilots, Sgt. Donald Rathwell, of St. Vital, Man., and F/O Edward Burrows, of New Glasgow, N.S., shared in Monday's greatest aerial slaughter of the Sicilian campaign, it was announced today.
They were part of the British Spitfire force which shot down 21 German transport planes, four German fighters and one Italian fighter.
Rathwell downed one Junkers Ju-52 transport and Burrows shared another with an English squadron-mate.
The flyers described the foray as "an absolute shambles," reminiscent of earlier and similar destruction of transport aircraft in the Tunisian campaign.
There are approximately 25 R.C.A.F. men flying in one Sicily-based, fighter-bomber wing which has been doing spectacular work over the enemy positions near Catania, bombing supply lines and strong points.
One daring strafing foray was led by S/L Stanley Turner, D.F.C. and bar, of Toronto, who was accompanied by F/O Hedley Everard, of Timmins, Ont., and W/O Paul Lapointe, of Escourt, Que.
Yesterday P/O's William Steel, of Toronto, and Malcolm Bakken, of Edmonton, returned from a patrol with flak holes in their planes.


RATHWELL, F/O Donald Wesley (J18284) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.17 Squadron
Award effective 23 March 1945 as per London Gazette dated 3 April 1945 &
AFRO 765/45 dated 4 May 1945

Flying Officer Rathwell has a long record of operational flying. Throughout he has displayed outstanding keenness and devotion to duty. He has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft and damaged others


Victories Include :

02 Mar 1943
20 Apr 1943
25 July 1943
13 Sep 1943
13 Feb 1944

15 Apr 1944

25 Apr 1944

1/2 Bf109
1/2 Bf109
one Ju52/3m
1/3 Do217
EN204 (Mateur)
EN455 (sweep to Bizerta)
JK508  (Gulf of Milano)
EN491 (Salerno)
FL-N    (Mayu Peninsula)
          (Mayu Peninsula)
JG333  (Imphal)
FL-N    (Imphal)
JG333  (SW Imphal)

3.83 / 0.5 / 2

Stats from 'Those Other Eagles' by Christopher Shores




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