Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:
When Michael Cassidy enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1942 he had no idea that a twist of destiny would have him face the enemy from above. He would be where he had wanted to be since the beginning – in the air. All the time.

Extensive Army training gave him a knowledge of guns that he would later appreciate as a n RCAF Tail Gunner. After getting his AG Wing at Mont Joli, he was assigned to 420 (Snowy Owl ) Squadron, based in Yorkshire, England. 

That is where Flt. Sgt. “Cas” Cassidy met the “Brothers” he would never forget. Pilot Doug Watterson from Windsor, Ont., was one of them. Doug Watterson married only a few weeks before that fatal night of April 24, 1944. After reaching their target over Karlsruhe, their Halifax 111 bomber’s nose was cut off by a Lancaster, causing the aircraft to lose significant altitude. They were then attacked by a German night fighter, which blasted the two starboard engines. The Skipper ordered the crew to bail out. Only two of the seven crew made it out alive.

Michael hit the ground just before the aircraft burst into flames on impact a few fields away. Ray Tanner, the Mid-Upper Gunner from Stirling, Ont., was the other survivor. Michael then began a three-day gruelling escape bid through the barren Dutch country side, full of irrigation ditches with no place to hide. “If I am captured or killed, I would have lived so many days longer than they did,” he would think of his crew.

He was captured and sent by box car to the PoW Camp in Heydekrug, East Prussia. He was transferred to other Stalags as Russians began moving further West. He later joked, “The Fuhrer was my inn-keeper.” While a PoW he kept a diary in which he wrote, “a fine tribute should be paid to these men who gave their lives for their Country. They were gentlemen and skilled airmen. Their lives shall not be in vain.”

Severely malnourished and in dire health, Michael was liberated on 1945 by the Desert Rats. The loss of his crew shaped his life, cementing feelings of fair play and esprit de corps. He always paid tribute to those men.

Following the war, Michael became a free-lance entrepreneur dealing in divers ventures, food franchises, 6-electrode spark plugs, but he never strayed far from his first love, Journalism and the Media. In 1976 Michael took the bold gamble, placed many of his marketing projects on the back burner, and formed his own national news media magazine PRESS REVIEW. It was a labour of love ant took him to wherever the media gathered to cover news or discuss news coverage.

But Michael never forgot his crewmates resting in Dutch soil near the Village of Zuilichem, Holland. Like so many others crews who flew together during the war, they were truly a ‘Band of Brothers’. Michael’s request was that he should be returned to Zuilichem and laid to rest alongside his fellow crewmen.

Michael Cassidy was laid to rest with glowing honours on May 4, 2005, a day set aside by the beautiful Dutch Village of Zuilichem to commemorate WWII heroes. Over 100 area residents attended the funeral.

Burial party folding Canadian flag 

Veterans Affairs Canada worked closely with the Department of National Defence and Linda van Rappard, of the Cabinet of the Zaltbommel Mayor, in organizing the moving and lovely ceremony. The Municipality of Zaltbommel donated Michael’s tombstone.

Short Bursts wishes to acknowledge and thank the staff of PRESS REVIEW for sending us the Spring/Summer 2005 Edition from which the Michael Cassidy story was obtained.


This is intended to be an account of the Post War use of the Lancaster however, a short history of the aircraft is in order.

In September 1936, the Air Ministry issued Specifications P13/36 for a twin engine bomber for use in the RAF. The A. V. Roe Company submitted plans for type 679, the Manchester, while Handly-Page submitted Plan for HP56. The latter became HP57, the Lancaster aircraft familiar to many 6 Group airmen.

The maiden flight of the Manchester was July 25, 1939, and in January, 1940, 1200 had been ordered powered by the Rolls Royce Vulture. Only 158 of the original order had been delivered before production of the Vulture engine was discontinued, one of the few Rolls Royce failures. The chief designer of the A.V. Roe, Roy Chadwick, had plans to rebuild the aircraft as the Manchester Mk III with four Rolls Royce Merlin engine. The particular engines used had been designed for the Beaufighter MkV.

The Prototype BT308 was first flown on January 09, 1941. This aircraft was still known as the Manchester III but the Clearance Certificate showed the name as Lancaster. The aircraft was renamed Lancaster by Roy Chadwick as a tribute to the capital of Lancashire and the name was approved in January, 1941, and that, of course, was the name by which it was known throughout the life of the aircraft.


The first operational sortie carried out by the Lancaster was a mine laying operation in Heligoland Bight by aircraft of 44 Squadron on March 03, 1942. The last raids of the war were carried out on April 25, 1945, when 482 aircraft, including some from 6 Group, bombed the coastal gun batteries on Wangerooge, one of the Friscan Islands. A simultaneous raid was carried out on Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” at Berchtesgaden in Germany. A total of four aircraft were lost, two on each target.

The total HE tonnage dropped on primary targets was 608,612 tons. The number of incendiaries dropped was 51,513,106. A total of 36 Lancasters flew 100 or more operational sorties during the war. The aircraft with the greatest total wa ED888, it complete 140 sorties with 103 Squadron (UL*V/UL*M) and 576 Squadron (PM*M). By the end of the war Bomber Command would have 57 Lancaster Squadrons.


The Lancaster was flown by a number of countries but this account will deal with those aircraft flown in Canada and for the most part, by the RCAF. The Lancaster Mk X with Packard Merlin engines was build by Victory Aircraft in Toronto, Ontario, a total of 430 being produced before the end of the war. The first of the type to arrive in the UK was KB700 which flew on August 06, 1943, and was supplied to 405 Squadron for operational assessment. The first unit to become operational with the MK X was 419 Squadron. 

This aircraft was employed by Maritime Command for patrols of the East Coast of Canada. It differed little from the original aircraft except for the removal of the mid-upper turret and the guns.

 The Lancaster Mk X MR (Maritime Reconnaissance)

Lancaster MKX 0

This aircraft was used as a test bed for the Orenda  jet engine, the jet engines replacing the two outer piston engines. The Orenda engine was later installed in the Canadair F-86 Sabre and the AVRO CF-100.

Nine aircraft, FM 120; 122; 199; 207; 212; 214; 215; 217; 218, were modified for photographic survey and reconnaissance. The turrets were removed and space flared over as can be seen in the photograph of the aircraft. The aircraft was fitted with four camera ports immediately behind the bomb bay for vertical and tri-megtregon cameras operated by the Camera Operator. The long range fuel tank was installed in the former bomb bay. The aircraft was capable of flights of long duration. 

Lancaster MKX P)

Lancaster MKX AR (Area Reconnaissance)

Three aircraft, KB882; 839; 976, were modified in the late 1950s as MKX Area Reconnaissance aircraft. They were extensively modified with the lengthened nose and additional radar and camera equipment including a camera in the nose that was operated by the Pilot. The crew positions were much more comfortable, particularly the Camera Operator’s position.

Lancaster MK X AR

Lancastrian XPP

The civilian designation given to six aircraft for Trans-Canada  Airlines, FM184; 185; 186; 187, being among that number. The aircraft  had additional fairing of the nose and tail, windows in the fuselage and long range fuel tanks. The photograph shows the Lancaster “Aries” used by the Empire Air Navigational School for long range flights to solve the problems of overseas navigation.

Lancastrian XPP

Lancaster  MkX DC

The Lancaster MkX DC was used to to carry and launch,  the Ryan Firebee drone over the Primrose Lake Range at RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta. 

Lancaster MK X  DC

Line up of aircraft of 408(P)Squadron at Goose Bay, Labrador  probably in 1956. 
The aircraft shown are Lancaster MkX P, C47 Dakota and PBY5-A Canso. 
The C47 was on loan from 412 Squadron and fitted out for Profile Recording and Photography

Inside view of the lanc:
This slide show takes the viewer inside the Wartime Lanc showing crew positions. 

Sources of information: Lancaster, the Story of a Famous Bomber – by Bruce Robertson.  AVRO Lancaster – by Harry Holms.

Just finished watching some of the old movie the Dambusters, what a difference computers would have made in some of the scenes particularly the explosion at the dam sites.  When I was with 408 in Rockcliffe I flew a couple of times with S/L Ken Brown who, as a Flight Sergeant, flew on the raid.  I met him a couple of times at Nanton and we had some nice talks, he was a nice gentleman.

~ Ted
Karl Kjarsgaard

Dear Members and Supporters,
Progress Report No. 8 is out and can be read and copied at our official website:

Best regards, 
Karl Kjarsgaard
Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada)

Pat and John O’Buck from Plains, Montana, travelled to Red Deer Alberta  and  stopped at the Nanton Lancaster Museum, Nanton, Alberta. The following are some of Pat’s pictures and comments

Made a stop today en route home.  Wow!  I can't believe the difference since we stopped about five years ago.  It is an honest to goodness museum now. 

The wall is great.  Can't make tracings of the names though because they were done w/laser and not engraved.  I found the names of the brothers of my two friends; one on one side of the wall and the second on the other.  Hope my camera shows them.

As you can see by the picture, the names photograph well.  My friend's brother was William Harold Howson.  Can't avoid some flash because the granite is so shiny. 

Lawn seats being donated to the Nanton Lancaster Museum by the Northern Alberta Branch of the Air Gunner’s Association.

I think these pics will give you some idea of what the seats will look like.  Certainly, they are not meant for a crowd.

It is my guess that the two slabs of cement with the fancy edges will sit on the fancy cement work blocks.  The count is right; two slabs for seats and four ends. 

There has been a lot of work done to provide walkways and the work is still in progress.

Dave Sutherland 

The subject web site may be of interest to you.

(ED. This is one of the best sites I have seen. It lists Squadron histories.)

George Olson

In the April 2003 Newsletter we reviewed  George Olson’s book, No Place to Hide  a collection of wartime poems 
George wrote during his tour of operations from 1943 to 1945. 

With each poem is a write up of the Operational flight that gave birth to the poem. Copies of his log book are also included. Excellent book.
No Place to Hide 123 pages – 
5 ½  x  8 ¼ Soft cover. Six illustrations 
ISBN  0-9687220-0-8 ~ Price - $10.00 Can. 

Published by: 
P.O. Box 4810 
Edmonton, AB  T6E 5G6 

Year Of The Veterans

Year 2005 as ‘ Year Of The Veteran’ has been designated
                 To Canada’s veterans, this year of 2005 has been dedicated
With patriotism and valor, the Canadian veterans served
                  So recognition of their loyal service has long been deserved

When our freedom was in jeopardy, for our liberty they fought
           With their courageous efforts, our present freedom was bought
The veterans did not battle for glory, or to gain personal fame
            Now for their service they are receiving some deserved acclaim

From cities and towns, from villages, ranches and farms
           Patriotic young men and women, responded to the call to arms
Winning the war against all oppressors, now was their goal
     In the Navy, Army, Air Force and Merchant Marine they’d enroll 

On the oceans, the land and in the air, they battled the foe
        Many were the adversities and tribulations, they would undergo
Several prime years in their country’s armed forces were spent
      To reward meritorious service, this Year Of The Veterans is meant

That Canadians do live in freedom, to the veterans is owed 
            A legacy of precious liberty, is what they have on us bestowed
To these veterans who valorously served, is owed a great debt
       The Year Of The Veteran is to indicate, Canada will never forget

George Olson
September 5, 2005

Ted Hackett

 Lysander Runup      Good evening John., I got this from my friend Norm Muffit some time ago.  I thought it might fill a space in Shortbursts.  I don't have any information on this aircraft except that it is at the museum in Hamilton, Ontario. 

Editor: After our 422 Squadron closed the hangar doors,  I was posted to 426 Squadron flying Liberators on troop transport between UK and India. Our Second Pilot, Bill Armstrong, had put in his tour on a Lysander Army Support Squadron in Europe. He had some hairy tales to tell. They were attached so closely to the Army that RCAF HQ lost track of them. This resulted in missed pay parades, and few leaves or rest periods, until VE-Day. 

I am looking for information on this squadron and would like to hear from any one who served on, or knew of, this Squadron.


My name is Louise Wright, I lost my father 1974, I was only 13 and apart from knowing that he was in the RAF I knew little about what he did. However I have recently lost my Mother and going through her papers I found an invitation to a presentation of RAF Wings to graduates of the senior course on April 15th 1944 and I was wondering whether you would know where I could get any further information on him. His name was Kenneth Patrick Park known to most as Paddy he was from England and he would have been 20. The presentation took place at the Kaufman County Airport, Terrell. 
I would be very grateful for any help you could give me.

(Second letter)

Dear John and Doreene,
Thank you for replying so quickly, unfortunately I do not know much but the County Airport is in Texas. I think he was a pilot, but I have no idea what squadron he was in.  I do have photos of him by an American Thunderbolt and he is with other flying crew. I could scan and send you the pictures if it would be helpful. Sorry I don’t have any more information than this. It would be really great if you could find out anything that would help me.
Best regards

Here are 5 photos that may help:

The one called NQ18070 seems to be of the squadron. My father is 4th one in from the right, second row from the bottom. 
Not sure if the number is significant. Its written on the back of the photo.

In the one “With the boss” he is on the right

   “Whoops” he is in the foreground. Did he crash this I wonder?

In “watermelons” he is second from the right.

I have included the “Thunderbolt” photo because the ID number may jog some memories.

Invitation to the “Wings award” just in case it’s helpful

I have other photos of him with colleagues and other aircraft but I guess these will do for now.

I am sorry to say I don’t have any additional information about the unit, the location or my Father than this. I am really looking forward to hearing about what comes up, if anything!

Ed. If any reader can help Louise they can reach her at

REPORT from Ex-Air Gunners’/WAG 
Association , Southern Ontario Chapter. 

 Ken (425 Squadron) and Linda Hill. Ken is President of the Southern Ontario Chapter.

Ken forwarded the following:

A Video of the Chapters barbeque. This video will be shared with other AG/WAG branches in Western Canada.

Extracts from Chapter’s News Letter:
Next meeting will be held Wednesday October 5th., 2005, at 13:00 hours at the Royal Canadian Legion, Wilson Branch 527, 948 Sheppard Avenue West, Downsview, Ont.

By all accounts it has been a good summer, highlighted by two very special events. The barbeque and entertainment at President Ken’s home and the barbeque and swim at Penny’s were very successful and happy gatherings.

At the Oct. 5th. meeting we will hear from Bill and Marg Cole about their visit to the Netherlands in May during which they participated in the 60th. Anniversary celebrations of VE Day. Penny Willis will speak about her visit earlier this year to Japan, South Korea and Thailand and will show pictures taken.

~ Bill Milne – Secretary.

President Ken with tail turret from a Lanc which the Chapter reconditioned and presented to the Toronto Aerospace Museum.

Fun and Dancing at the barbeque. Facing camera, Bill and Marjorie Lloyd
Bill did a tour as a Tail Gunner. 

ACTHIM, John: Mbr #0305, Winnipeg, MB: Passed away peacefully in Vancouver, BC on Sunday, Sept. 18/05 in his 81st year.  He was born Kenora, ON and at the age of 18 joined the RCAF where he served as an Air Gunner training at #9 Bombing and Gunnery School at Montjoli, PQ.  Overseas he attained the rank of Pilot Officer - J88492.  He was with #50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe in 5 Group until he and his crew were shot down.  John became wounded he was hidden by the French Underground, eventually being captured and held as a POW at Stalagluft III where he remained until the end of the war.

Following his military service he joined the ranks of the Civil Service in Manitoba where he rose to the positon of Chairman of the Municipal Board for the province.

He was a loyal member of the RCL Br. #84, becoming a Life Member of that Branch where he served as President, and received his Meritorious Service Medal in 1995.  He was also a valued member of the Winnipeg Branch of the Ex Air Gunner's Association of Canada, and a Life Member of Wartime Pilot's and Observer's Assoc.

Please send Obituary notices to Charlie Yule:

Editor’s Report

It was encouraging getting the report from the Southern Ontario Chapter. It shows that the Air Gunner’s Association is still alive and well. If other Branches across the country would report in we could use Short Bursts to learn from each other and celebrate together.

My recovery is a slow process but I’m experiencing frustration at not being able to get things done as fast as before. I guess that is a good sign.

Bill Hillman, our Web Master, is also on the road to recovery. “Don’t over do it Bill.”

Please drop us a line for future Short Bursts and share your experiences with our members.

See you in November 2005.

Keep well.

John and Doreene Moyles

Please drop us some copy and pictures for the November Issue.
Keep well.
John and Doreene Moyles
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St.,
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112
Regional Meetings

Southern Ontario Chapter
Royal Canadian Legion
Wilson Branch 527
948 Sheppard Avenue West
We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the Legion hall 1:00 pm. 
No meetings July, August, September.
Contact persons: 
Ken Hill  ~  President ~  905.789.1912
Bill Cockburn  ~  Secretary ~  416.492.1024

Location - Royal Canadian Legion Br.#4 St. James Legion.
Date - Third Thursday of each month.
Time - Luncheon meeting (provide your own lunch).
Contact Member - Charlie Yule Ph. (204) 254-6264.

Northern Saskatchewan
Location - Lynx Wing Ave. C North, Saskatoon.
Date - Third Monday of the month.
Time - Luncheon meetings.
Contact Member - C.A. "Smokey" Robson  Ph. (306) 374-0547.

Northern Alberta Branch
Location - Norwood Branch 178, 11150 – 82 Street, Edmonton, AB
Date -  The first Thursday of each month.
Time - 12:00 hours.
Contact Members - E. H. "Ted" Hackett (780)962-2904
or Sven Jensen (780)465-7344.

Southern Alberta
Location - Royal Canadian Legion  #264 
Kensington, Calgary
Date: Second Monday of each month.
Time - 11:30 hours.
Contact Member: Dave Biggs Ph: (403)236-7895
or Doug Penny Ph: (403)242-7048.
October meeting time moved to third Monday. 
Also there are no meetings in July and August, however, a Barbecue is usually held  at Larry Robinson's ranch in Okatoks during that time.

British Columbia Branch 
Meeting time and local: 2nd Tuesday of each month at 11:30 
Firefighters Social & Athletic Club, 
6515 Bonsor Avenue, 
Burnaby, B.C. V5H 3E8 
Super eating facilities 
Contact person - Dave Sutherland       Ph. 604-431-0085 

Members across the Country are encouraged to 
send current information regarding 
regular meeting places, dates, and Contact Members, to

John and Doreene Moyles, 
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St., 
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112


Members are requested to send their experiences, articles, anecdotes, pictures, etc., to John Moyles and I will forward them to our Web Master in Brandon. Articles and Last Post items will be deleted from the page each month after the designated Member in each region has had an opportunity to copy the material for their Members. Notices of deceased Members are to be sent to Charlie Yule who is still our 'Keeper of the Rolls'. 

This is your SHORT BURSTS with no printing or mailing costs, and no deadlines! 
We thank our Web Master, Bill Hillman, for his volunteer time and expertise.

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