Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:



Range: 1050 miles
Bomb Load: 1500 lbs
Max Speed: 257 mph
Ceiling: 25000 ft
Engine: Rolls Royce Merlin III
12 cylinder V inline 1030 hp



On Monday, May 28th the S'toon Ex A/G group held its monthly luncheon with 19 present; one of which was Reg "Crash" Harrison a wartime pilot.

Chairman Robson gave a report on his recent visit to England and his attendance at the RAF Mildenhall Reunion.

Treasurer Doug Warren reported on the groups finances; we are in a strong position financially.

Lunch was served by the R.C.A.F. Ass'n Lynx Wing.

A brief report was given re those not in attendance.

The next meeting will be on the 3rd Monday in June; at the R.C.A.F. Lynx Wing on Ave C North.

The following report on a wartime experience by Chairman Robson was given by Robson:

During the last half of December of 1941 our crew completed three successful missions to the French Port of Brest in our Wellington bomber. On one of these missions the following is our experience in the target area.

"Our captain was a Canadian Douglas Bain and our navigator was 'Buster' Fair, a Canadian.  On our first run up to the target the bombs failed to Fall so Douglas Bain said to Buster, "We will do another run".  We did and the bombs failed to fall for a second time so Doug for the third time said, 'We will do another run only lets jettison the Bombs' which we did and we headed for home lucky to have survived three runs over a hot target like Brest."

~"Smokey" Robson - Pres.



CHARLIE YULE:  A Bornemouth experience.

I travelled 'Overseas' in early April 1943 (I know!  Many will say I never truly participated in WWII since I had not started my 'Overseas' Service a lot earlier!).  In any event we made a 'solo' run in a vessel named the SS Andes and arrived in Bournemouth 7 or 8 days after departure.  This was a South American ship capable of carrying 600 Passengers plus crew - we numbered 6000-odd!  My billet area was a mess room (over the engine room) which had wooden tables and benches.  There were hammocks slung over the tables and sleeping accommodations available under the tables as well as on the tables.

It turned out that I was a terrible sailor.  Though I didn't get sea-sick I could only eat in a prone position and had to rely on my comrades to provide me with cookies, etc. in the way of foodstuffs.  Bathing was out of the question and consisted of cold seawater showers.  Ugh!  No Thanks!  I'll just stink!!!

Upon arrival at Bournemouth many of us were billeted in the twin 'pink' hotels in an elevated area of the city.  Our 'suite' was situated on the third floor and contained at least 4 or 5 rooms with a Bathroom.  There were four or six individuals billeted in each room.  The others guys were anxious to get cleaned up and hit the hi-spots.  I kept out of their way until they were all finished and gone!  Then I leisurely filled the tub with lots of hot water and began my soak when suddenly sirens began to wail!  I leapt up out of my sitting position and was in the act of stepping out of the tub when I thought, 'Where do I run?  And if I do who says I won't run into a falling bomb or down the stairs?  To Hell with it - I am staying right where I am.  If my number comes up at least I will be clean'.

The roof of the Hotel was made out of corrugated metal with Pom-Pom Guns mounted on them.  I could hear and feel the guns firing and the spent casings rattling off the roof.  After things quieted down I seemed never again to be concerned about air raids.  As the saying goes about Air Gunners. 'Too dumb to be pilots and too stupid to be scared'!  Though I did earn my Glider Pilot's License in later years.

I remember my Bournemouth days as pretty nice, and never did run into accommodation like John Moyles experienced.  As we departed Halifax on the Andes I remember thinking 'This war is real!  They actually think I can contribute something to it.  Are they nuts'!?  I was on an adventure in Bournemouth and other stops in my overseas training until I reached my squadron I thoroughly enjoyed all that was going on - that is, up till our first operational trip when I saw all of the searchlights and felt the effects of anti-aircraft flak!  Then I knew it absolutely was real!!!

I wish we could hear more from the Canadian guys who did NOT serve in 6 Group.  It was not until after the war that I began feel like an outcast having served with the RAF, though I had an ALL-CANADIAN crew except for our great Scottish Flight Engineer.  We served with 192 Squadron in 100 Group doing Special Duties - sometimes within the Main Bomber Stream and sometimes on Diversionary raids or Electronic Surveillance and Jamming duties.

The Halifax MkIV controversy does not want to go away. PHIL DUBOIS sent the following, an extract from Halifax – Second to None.

“The Mk.3 Halifax was originally intended to be one of many variants – an interim model, pending the development of the high altitude Hercules and while the development of the Halifax Mk.4 took place. Unfortunately the high altitude Hercules engine never proved reliable or satisfactory and, due to extensive development commitments, the building of the Mk.4 prototype was abandoned, so the Mk.3 became the next main service type and the most mass-produced version of the Halifax.

In May 1943 R9534 was being fitted with Type D fins and rudders and flight trials had already been carried out with Beaufighter type intakes to improve performance, By now the decision had been made to incorporate into the Mk.3 production  aircraft a number of aerodynamic and structural improvements of the cancelled Mk.4. Some of these were the local doubling of spar webs, an increase in some bolt sizes, some tubes of the Messier undercarriage to be improved in strength, the introduction of the Mk.4 floor and the re-introduction of the retractable tailwheel assembly. MAP also ruled that the Mk.3  was to be tropoicalized from the outset of production. With this marriage of airframe and Hercules engine the Halifax was second to none; with further development and powered by a more powerful Hercules we considered the Halifax superior to all.”

A bit of Trivia: The first internal combustion engine built by Daimler Benz was run on coal dust!


In 1989, a request appeared in SHORT BURSTS asking Members to comment on side-arms  and drugs issued to aircrew. Here are a couple of replies.

Bob Hayes

Hand guns – they were optional for aircrew on our Squadron. Our Skipper and both the A/Gs carried a Smith and Weston .38, the rest of our crew declined. We only had six rounds of ammo and left one chamber empty for safety reasons. We were not issued holsters so tied the butt with lanyards to our epaulets and stuck the .38 into our belts, not too comfortable with your mae west and parachute harness. We never received any instruction on firing. When I bailed out and roamed Germany for a while it gave me a sense of security knowing I had some protection, small as it was.

Drugs – To the best of my knowledge we never received any drugs on ops. On a raid to Settin it took about 12 hours. This was about max time with full bomb and fuel load, and we came home on the fumes. The Engineer had a nervous breakdown, he never needed any wakey-wakley pills!

Wakey-Wakey pills handed out by MO to aircrew as a precaution against sleepiness.

Donald Daikens

“If you were a commissioned officer, and most AGs weren’t, you could draw a cute little 5 ½ lb. Webley, complete with webbing from stores to take with you on Ops if you so wished. All non-commissioned ranks were not included. Apparently we were not as intelligent as the commissioned types. Even though we knew the Browning .303 inside and out, we just couldn’t be trusted with a hog-leg like that.

This was the rule on our Squadron #76 at Holme On Spaldng Moor.

About the drug bit … The two gunners were the ones most likely to doze off because of their long periods of inactivity. Doing a visual search on a pitch black night kind of hypnotized and, along with the drone of the engines, induced sleep in most normal gunners. NOT THIS BOY…. I was too damned scared to close my eyes. In fact I stared into the darkness so hard that I couldn’t close my eyes for a least four hours after we landed. My eyelids were stuck under the edge of my helmet.

We were advised, all joking aside, that we could have wakey-wakey tablets if we felt we needed them, but were advised not to take them if we did not need them. They were caffeine  tablets and also acted as a diuretic. You know what that meant and nobody enjoyed that parade at 20,000 feet and minus 40 degrees fahrenheit!

The Benzedrine some people mentioned was in the form of tablets in our escape kits and to be used ONLY in the utmost urgency, as running from pursuers to cover lots of ground. Our Medics advised us if we used them and did push ourselves to the limit to escape, we were to realize that we would be completely worn out and to make sure to find some place where we could sleep the clock around.

At no time were we, on #76 Squadron, ever advised or coerced into taking any type of drug, and I’m sure it was the same for all the RAF, RCAF, RAAF, RNZAF, and the RSAAF.

I don’t know about the rest of you but a nice warm electric suit and the gentle roar of those Hercs did nothing to seduce me into the arms of Morpheus. I valued my hide too much! Any stories to the contrary I believe are a pile of bull. We were not drug addicts.

The following is taken from RECOIL, the Ex-Air Gunners’ Association, B.C. Branch Newsletter


I was with 31 Squadron from August 1942 to December 1943 and flew 500 operational hours and 250 non-operational hours.

My next posting was to a Communication Squadron in New Delhi. I was assigned as a WAG to the Supreme Commander Sea, Lord Mountbatten, and when we were not required by him, flew other senior officers. It was interesting and exciting. The A/C had special call signs, and all ground stations kept a watch when we were airborne. We had to be prepared for almost anything as we were not advised of destination.

On the trips we flew the brass were always interesting and on one trip, after leaving Chunking, I was to contact Calcutta but couldn’t raise them. I thought my transmitter was off frequency. After finding no problem with the equipment I kept calling. My special call signs really helped. Gibralta picked up my message and called Malta, Malta called Karachi, Karachi called Allahabad, Allahabad woke up Calcutta and Calcutta called me.


You will see that this page is a little shorter than previous pages. I find that, when reading other AGs experiences, they trigger memories of similar situations. If they do with you, jot them down and sent them in for others to share. For example, George Parkinson's communications problem (above) reminded me of returning from the East with a load of ex-POWs from Japanese camps in Burma. We were headed up the Persian Gulf at night in bad weather and, for some reason, could not gain altitude. We did not carry a navigator and the pilot asked me to get a fix. The Japanese had just surrendered, the RAF were going on strike - yes, strike, and all service communication was shut down for the night. I had swing my loop onto two domestic, broad band,  AM stations. Not knowing the language I could only guess at the location of the station by direction and strength of the signal. To make it more difficult to plot one was approximately 10 degrees and the other was approximately 180 degrees. It was just pure luck that, when we broke out into moolight, we were barrelling down a gorge with the mountains rising on either side.

As Jim Patterson said, when he was Associate Editor of SHORT BURST, "if you don't want to listen to any more of my stories, get some of your own in to the Editor".

A big THANK YOU to the Southern Ontario Branch for their donation to the CATP Museum.

Thanks again goes out to member Ray Stoy for his painting of the Fairey Battle.  If interested in one of Ray's WW11 a/c paintings contact him at:
                             Ray Stoy
                               7728 U.S. Open Loop,
                               Bradenton, Fl. 34202
                               (941) 907-6077

OK, how many of you chaps up-chucked in the back of the Battle???

Until July, keep well and have a good summer.
                                                                             Cheers, John Moyles.

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 - Second 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 - Jasper Place Legion , 10220 - 156 St. Edmonton.
Date -  Third Tuesday 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
We meet on the first Tuesday in 
March, June, September, and December at 11:30 am. 
There will also be special events and meetings throughout the year. 
Our mailing address and meeting place is:
Royal Canadian Legion #83, 
5289 Grimmer St., 
Burnaby, BC. V5H 2H3
Contact Members are - Stan Sullivan (604)277-5641 
and Rod MacDougall (604)515-4280

Members across the Country are encouraged to 
send current information regarding 
regular meeting places, dates, and Contact Members, to
John Moyles
Box 6 
Kenosee Lake 
SK   S0C 2S0 

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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