Arthus Hazelton "Art" Sager

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Poles Bag Five Others in Sweeps Over France

London, July 6, 1943 - (CP) - Canadian pilots flying with R.A.F. Spitfire squadrons over Northern France and along the French coast from Dieppe to Dunkirk today shot down three of eight Nazi planes destroyed, a Polish wing of the R.A.F. accounting for the other five.
S/L R. W. McNair of North Battleford, Sask., destroyed one Messerschmitt 109 inland from Boulogne before the engine of his plane coughed out. He glided the 30 miles to his home base in England.
The other two Canadian bags were destroyed by F/L H. D. MacDonald of Toronto, who raised his personal score of destroyed Nazi craft to seven in today's action, and FL Walter Conrad, Richmond, Que.
FL Art Sager of Vancouver damaged another enemy aircraft, but was unable to observe results. Late tonight the British Air Ministry announced that two enemy fighter planes had flown for a short time this evening over a district in East Anglia, at one point wounding a small number of persons by machine-gun fire.
R.C.A.F. headquarters said in a communiqué that Canadian Spitfires destroyed three enemy craft over Northern France and that no Canadian fighter was missing from the action.
The Berlin broadcast recorded by the Associated Press said enemy planes carried out "nuisance raids" over Western and Northern Germany during the night, but there were no immediate announcements by the British concerning any night activities


Born 22 October 1916 at Hazelton, B.C.
BA from UBC, 1938
Pre-war clerk, actor, seaman, reporter and teacher
Enlisted in Vancouver 28 February 1941
Trained at
No.2 ITS (graduated 1 July 1941),
No.8 EFTS (graduated 18 August 1941) &
No.4 SFTS (wings and commission on 7 November 1941)
Arrived in UK 26 December 1941.
Further trained at
No.58 OTU (10 February to 14 April 1942)
Served in
421 Squadron (14 April 1942 to 4 August 1943)

Interesting incident was 15 July 1942 at Central Gunnery School, Sutton Bridge when flying Spitfire P7603 on a tactical exercise (intercepting bombings). Glycol leak set white smoke pouring from exhaust stacks. Had trouble locating airfield due to smoke. Engine seized and he belly-landed in a field.

Promoted to Flying Officer, 1 October 1942
Promoted to Flight Lieutenant, 10 May 1943
Demoted to Flying Officer and sent to
416 Squadron (4 August 1943 to 10 January 1944)
403 Squadron (5-25 August 1944)
416 Squadron (25 August to 30 September 1944)
Squadron Leader, 30 September 1944
443 Squadron (30 September 1944 to 30 March 1945)
Released 28 June 1945
Award presented 21 February 1948

Postwar he was a CBC producer
Assistant to the President of the University of British Columbia
Executive assistant to the Federal Minister of Fisheries
Also Public Relations Director for the Fisheries Association of BC
Finished his career with the UN's Food & Agriculture Org., Rome
Move to Aix-en-Provence, 1978 and to Victoria in 2000
Awarded Legion of Honour in 2004

He wrote three books:
Line Shoot: Diary of a Fighter Pilot,
It’s in the Book: Notes of a Naive Young Man
The Sager Saga

Died in Victoria, 22 September 2007


Note: In a letter to A.J. Simpson, 22 June 1983, apologizing for being unable to attend a meeting of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association, he nevertheless decided to offer the following anecdotes:

Biggest Black: Flight Commander on the make with 421 at Kenley, 11 Group, Johnny Johnson’s Wing, summer of 1943. East of the aerodrome and within the circuit, a nudist colony. Sometimes, coming in, you got glimpses of bare flesh. My ground crew felt cheated. So, one day when the wing was grounded, I took them up in the Tiger Moth, one by one, to have a look at the naked women. Couldn’t see much, as I remember, but it stimulated the imagination - and it was good for morale. Only thing was I hadn’t noticed a sports meet just beyond the nudist colony. Every time we zoomed over at tree-top level, the kids started running, speech-makers couldn’t be heard, and the sponsors - local gentry - became most annoyed. So annoyed they wrote the Air Ministry who sent a blast to the Group Captain. I was nailed. Didn’t get court-martialled but lost my rank and posted to 416 at Digby. Lucky thing actually as I got to fly under Chad Chadburn - for me the best leader of them all.

Most Angry: May 1943, 421 Squadron, flying out of Kenley. Sweep south of Abbeville, 23,000 feet. Tail end [Charlie], saw a bogey at six o’clock, a bit below. Reported to Wingco. “O.K., investigate,” he said. Caught up to the loner, a ME.109. He saw me, turned on his back and headed straight down. Went after him in a spiral, shooting whenever I could line him up. But I was no Beurling and I sprayed the sky. He straightened out at tree-top level. Got up behind him, fifty yards away, pressed the button - and nothing happened. I’d used it all up on the way down. So bloody angry I thought I’d slice off his tail. Instead I flew up beside the guy and waved at him to have a go. He declined; looked scared - maybe hit because there were holes in his fuselage. Followed beside him a bit, then smartened up and beat it for home on the deck. Claimed one damaged but felt guilty about it and asked the Intelligence Officer to burn the film.

Luckiest: November 13, 1943, Flight Commander with 416, Chad Chadburn’s Wing, Digby, Lincolnshire. Duff weather and, wanted some action, got permission to lead a four-man rhubarb to look for some Huns practicing dive bombing in the Zuider Zee. They’d been sinking coastal shipping in the North Sea. Flew at wave-top level from Coltishall, planning to hit the Dutch coast a few miles north of Ijmuiden where Intelligence said there were no guns. Either they’d just been installed or, more likely, I missed the landfall because 30 seconds from the beach there was an explosion. Stunned, woke up with cockpit full of smoke, broken glass all over.
  Art Sager - flak damage
I pulled back the hood and looked for a soft place to land when suddenly realized that the good old Merlin was still ticking over. Radio and some instruments gone but otherwise apart from a draft, everything pretty normal. Got close to No.3 and waved at him to take over and go on but when I turned 180 degrees he and the others followed. Followed me all the way back, expecting me to ditch at any moment. They’d seen the hole behind my head. I hadn’t, or I’d really have been scared. Kissed the armour plating behind the seat when I got out.

Most Rewarding: 2 January 1943 421, flying out of Angle, south-west Wales. Convoy had been attacked by subs during the night, several ships sunk. Out in pairs to look for survivors or vulturing Huns. Stormy weather, bitterly cold, cloud at about 1,000 feet. Half an hour on patrol when we spotted an open lifeboat. Dived down. Two men in it, one motionless but other waving both arms. Climbed and got control to take a fix. Earlier had seen a small coaster, south and heading south. Left No.2 circling above the lifeboat and started searching. Found the ship, flew formation on it as slow as I could, pointed north; headed north, waggled wings, shot guns in short bursts. Repeated several times. Bright captain because he finally got the message; turned 180 degrees, speeded up and followed me. By the time he got to the lifeboat we decided to skadoodle or we’d be out of petrol and be in the drink too. Never did find out if the two seamen survived.


500 American Bombers Blast Submarine Base In Biggest Day Attack

London, Nov. 3, 1943 - (AP) - The largest force of heavy bombers ever sent out by the United States Air Force — probably 500 or more — battered its way with long-range fighter protection through strong German opposition to smash the important port and naval base of Wilhelmshaven and other targets in Northwestern Germany today.
The raiding force destroyed 34 German planes, 18 falling to the heavy bombers and 16 being shot down by the escorting fighters. In other daylight operations over Occupied France and Holland, Spitfire pilots knocked down 12 German fighters, all but one being victims of Canadian pilots. Medium bombers destroyed two, bringing the total loss for the day to 48 for the Nazis.
The total Allied losses for the day were five heavy bombers, two medium bombers and three fighters, a joint Air Ministry and United States Air Force communiqué said.
The cross-Channel air war continued after dark with a short alert in London — indicating Britain's 13th German raid in 19 nights — and German radio stations went off the air, often a sign that the R.A.F. is raiding the Continent.
(D.N.B., German agency, said in a broadcast that the R.A.F. bombed Cologne Wednesday night.)
The record raid by the heavy bombers followed earlier sweeps over the Continent by 8th Air Force medium bombers escorted by R.A.F., Dominion and Allied Spitfires in attacks on enemy airfields at St. Andre de L’Eure and Tricqueville in France and Amsterdam-Schiphol in Holland.
In other operations, Typhoon bombers raided shipping along the French coast, damaging 12 barges and four boats
Today's attack was the sixth American raid on Wilhelmshaven and the third assault on which escorts went all the way to the target and back with the bombers but it was the fighters' longest trip. The other two-way trips were to Emden, a little short of Wilhelmshaven.

Vigorous opposition by groups of as many as 75 German fighters were reported by the fliers. But they were unanimously enthusiastic about the way the two-engine twin-tail Lightnings — flying close to the bombers while Thunderbolts provided high and surrounding cover — kept the Germans on the run.

Nine of the German fighters destroyed by Spitfires were victims of an R.C.A.F. fighter wing commanded by W/C Lloyd V. Chadburn of Aurora, Ont., and were destroyed as the fighters protected Allied bombers raiding Schiphol Airdrome at Amsterdam. The other two were shot down by S/L Charles Magwood of Toronto and F/L John Sherlock of Calgary while escorting bombers in a raid on St. Andrew de L’Eure Airport in France.
Chadburn and F/L Jack Mitchner of Kitchener, Ont., each got two planes. Other Canadian victors:


Members of 416 Squadron
Dan Noonan, Doug Booth, Freddy Green*, Art Sager, John Mitchner, Jeff Northcott & Lloyd Chadburn

F/L Danny Noonan, Kingston, Ont., 1½ planes; F/L Arthur Sager, Vancouver, one-half plane (actually one and a half -jf); F/L Doug Booth, Vancouver, F/L Jeff Northcott, Minnedosa, Man., and a Toronto flying officer named Bill Jacobs, one each. (* S/L Green is standing in for Jacobs who did not return from the mission.)


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.


SAGER, S/L Arthur Hazelton (J8638) - 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.

Squadron Leader Sager commenced operational flying in April 1942 and is now on his second tour of duty with this squadron. Throughout many hours of flying time he has always displayed the utmost determination in all his allotted tasks. He is now in command of 443 Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron and has proved a most skilful and successful leader combing very good judgement and sound reasoning with keenness and courage. He has destroyed five enemy aircraft during his operational career.


Cut Excellent Airfield From Netherlands Bush

By MARGARET ECKER with the RCAF in Holland, April 2, 1945 - (CP) - An RCAF Spitfire wing now flies from a made-to-measure airdrome sliced out of a Netherlands forest.
As one airman put it, "It's like a summer camp in Northern Ontario - except there's no place to fish."
Six weeks ago, this was a young pine wood. Today it's a "super" airfield, but the forest still crowds around its fringes and among the trees Nissan huts, where RCAF personnel live, have been built.

''Best and Safest"
"It's the best and safest airfield we've ever had," said the commanding officer, pointing out the double-perimeter track, one for aircraft, the other for transport, and the wide, safe runways of metal mesh that won't be muddy in any weather.
From those strips, Canadian Spitfires fly on patrols over the British 2nd Army lines and escort heavy and medium bombers on the way to blast German cities. S/L Danny Brown of Elm Park, N.J., commands the Red Indian Squadron: S/L J. D. Mitchner, Saskatoon, the City of Oshawa Squadron, and S/L Art Sager of Vancouver, the Hornet Squadron.
On one side of the field is the brain centre of the airfield, the control tower caravan which helps make this a super airfield. S/L Reg Fisher of Toronto described how difficult it was to control an airfield with planes landing at both ends. In the glass dome of the caravan, F/L Ivan Tinkess of Orangeville, Ont., earphones on his head, seemed to be answering a dozen telephones as he brought in planes from one fighter squadron. There's so much strain on the job that most control officers can work only five or six hours.

Brought Him In
While a lost pilot was being guided back, F/O Johnny Maffre of Montreal came into the caravan to say "Thanks for helping me get back this morning, boys. I didn't think for a while that I'd make it." He had been flying over the front line when his engine started to splutter.
The flight lieutenant called to the squadron leader that "there's a kite upstairs with his wheels half way down and they're stuck. He's almost out of gas."
S/L Bill Boggs of Noranda, Que., the station's chief technical officer, was on the job in a few seconds. He watched the plane and relayed advice to the pilot until finally someone shouted the wheels had shaken down.
In one hut near the field, P/O Wallace Tobey, of Tara, Ont., F/L Ted Neapole of Montreal and F/L Jerry Anglin of Ottawa were writing letters around a brisk fire. Wide windows at each end of the hut let in light and the walls were gay with pin-up girls. Expeditions into ruined German towns not far away netted the men a radio, end tables for their camp cots and as many mirrors as you'll find in a camp for women.


Victories Include :

11 June 1943
15 June 1943
6 July 1943
10 July 1943
4 Sept 1943

22 Sept 1943
3 Nov 1943

26 Nov 1943
26 Sept 1944
27 Sept 1944
22 Jan 1945
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one FW190
1/4 Me109
1/2 Me109
one FW190
one Me109
1/2 Me109
one FW190
one FW190
two Me109s
one u/i e/a
damaged *
destroyed &
destroyed &
NE of Poix
(sh/w Chadburn, Noonan & Booth)
(sh/w Chadburn)

(sh/w Dan Noonan)
10m E of Arnhem
W of Bucholz & W of Emmerich
OTG - Rheine

4.75 / 0 / 7.5

plus   0 / 0 / 1  On The Ground

* Aces High shows this as a probable but in his book, Art says he damaged it.
This may have been upgraded


See Art's book, "Line Shoot" for more details

Trevor Guthrie's wrote a song called "Strong Hands" which commemorates Sager




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