Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:
June 2002

Norman "Wimp" Noel sent this picture of the Liberator. Wimp had aspirations of becoming a fighter pilot but at Bournemouth the powers-to-be said that he as too tall to fit into a Spitfires. Actually, they were just short of bomber pilots at that time. Wimp flew Wellingtons, Lancs, Stirlings, and Liberators. Of all the aircraft he captained the Liberator was his favorite.  No, he didn't get his nick name from flying Wellingtons, it came from his voracious appetite for hamburgers and he was named after the comic trip character who loved the same delicacy.

The Liberators operated in all theaters around the globe, Coastal Command, Bomber Command, Air Sea rescue, Burma Bomber Command, Pacific Theater, and troop Transport. When used in Troop Transport the bomb bays were welded shut and two narrow planks were bolted along each side of the fuselage. The troops sat with their rifles between their knees, hunched over due to the curvature of the fuselage. Most uncomfortable.

Flying with heavy loads, in 110 Degrees F., through sand storms in desert areas, could test any aircraft to the extreme. On one landing at Basra, at the head of the Persian Gulf, our Liberator blew a tire.  One of the British troops coming back from Burma asked Wimp, "How many landing are these tires supposed to make, Sir?" Wimp, being disgusted with his hard landing, replied, "Only one of mine soldier."

Like most military aircraft, the B24 went though many variations, the final one being  the B-24J of which 7000 were produced. The four 1,200hp radial engines gave a 300 mph plus speed.

Maurice Winton (Ex-Air Gunner's Association) was a tail gunner on Liberators  with 355  and 356 Squadrons operating out of Salbani India.

Maurice Winton in Salbani, India 
355 and 356 Sqdrns. RAF
Note .50 Calibres 
Maurice Winton
"One trip I remember quite well, both Squadrons were briefed, on June 23rd.1945, to attack two bridges near Kanchanburei abut 150 miles from Bangkok.    This was the infamous railroad built by allied prisoners of war. 18,000 POWs died building it. Ten planes were to take part, three were to fly half an hour ahead and, at 3000 ft., attack and destroy all A.A. positions with bombs and guns. The flight was through heavy monsoon storms but we made it on time. On one side of the river was a POW camp, this we had to keep well away from. POWs had been killed on previous raids. For 20 minutes all hell broke loose, guns and bombs devastating the gun positions. When we pulled out, in came the seven planes and attacked the bridges, some even made two runs at them so light was the ground fire. All the planes returned to base.

The bridges were destroyed, the wooden one was never used again, the steel one was rebuilt by the Japanese in 1947 as war reparations, and is still used today. The POW camp was completely dismantled, but is still visited by tourists 

These were the Bridges over the River Kwai destroyed by the RAF and RCAF and not as depicted in the movie! Our time on that trip was 16hrs and 10 min., 3 hours on instruments through the storms."

 Ed. After the advanced aircraft took out the gun positions,
Maurice took pictures from his tail turret position of
the second wave attacking the bridges.

Bridges over the River Kwai

Aircraft Recognition

Ok, what is it?
Hint - off the British ship Ark Royal 1939

Ted Rainer

Ted Rainer 
on roof of 
bombed out school
I am an Ex-Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and, by chance, received the magazine “Intercom” which had an article on 205 Group RAF.  I was one of the aircrew who flew Wellington Xs with 104 Squadron from 31.1.44 to .8.44. completing 39 sorties from our base near Foggie, Italy. I'm afraid that I will not be recorded in history as I was not shot down, did not bale out, crash or ditch, but I do know what it was like being on Ops in Italy for eight months. 

After special training at 311 FTU, which was mainly three long cross country flights in a new Wellington X, we changed our dress to army Battle Dress and carried 38 revolvers. We left England on the night of 4.1.44 for Rabat Sale in French Morocco and then East across North Africa to an airbase at Cairo West. Our aircraft was taken from us as it was needed at an OTU in Palestine.

An American DC3 took us to Tunis and then on to Bari Italy arriving 31.1.44. Squadron 204 sent transport to take us to Foggie which would be our home until 3.8.44. On arriving we found that all the aircrew had moved from the base because they were camped in tents and heavy rainfalls had flooded the site. Conditions were so bad that the aircrew had moved into a bombed out school.. We were directed to the second floor classroom where other crews were bedded down on the floor. When the water level went down, we returned to our tents.

On 17.2.44 we took off on our first operation as  crew; Pilot Peter Judd RAAF, Navigator Steve McCann RAF, Bomb Aimer Fergus Mennie RAF, Wireless Operator Ted Rainer RAF, Rear Air Gunner Dick Farley RAF. (All Sergeants).

This operation was to help the Canadian Army at Genzano-Velletri, Italy – target, roads and motor transport concentrations. The Canadians were so pleased with the results that they sent us each a bottle of Black Horse beer. This was appreciated as we had no beer all the time in Italy. I still drink Molson beer but Black Horse is no longer brewed.

The book, Military Errors of World War 11 written by Kenneth Macksey 1987, under “Mining in the Danube” he stated that the official British history of the bomber offensive totally omitted the blocking of the river Danube between April and September ’44. Liberators and Wellingtons based at Foggia crossed the Alps and began laying sea mines. In May alone, 152 sorties and 531 mines were laid. The Danube carried, almost exclusively, the oil production of the Romanian oil fields,  amunition destined for the Southern Russian front were held up and 170 vessels were sunk or damaged in April/May ’44.

We went on these operations on moon-lit nights as we had to get very low, about 50 feet above the river, in order to drop our mines The gunners in some crews strafed as they flew past docks and other targets. We did not do this because we did not have any opposition and we thought that the tracer bullets would show our position.

The target to Verona I will never forget. When we dropped our bombs we took a photograph to prove our accuracy, therefore it was agreed that we would do a long run into the target on a straight and level mode. My job over the target was to watch out from the astro dome for other aircraft, enemy or friendly, and also to report flak. We were in a steady straight run to the target, I could see flak at our height behind us. I am sure it was radar controlled as it crept up closer all the time.

It seemed ages before I felt the aircraft jump which meant that the 4000 lb. “Cookie” had dropped. Within seconds an explosion occurred on our port side and the port engine stopped leaving the propeller windmilling. As we were going down, Peter, our pilot, called the Bomb Aimer for help. Finally the port propeller was feathered and we leveled out at 2000 feet. Peter ordered the crew to have their parachutes ready.  As was the procedure, I sent out an S.O.S and clamped the transmitter key down. In the event of a crash the signal might be intercepted and our position calculated.

 Luckily it was a bright moonlight night and we were able to fly through the valleys of Northern Italy. I canceled the S.O.S, we had plenty of fuel as we were using only one engine. Our rear gunner threw our guns out and we jettisoned some fuel to reduce weight.I picked up a beam on our radio loop and, with Steve’s great navigating, we got back to base.

Later we found that shrapnel had severed a fuel line and done damage  to the port wing. This aircraft was not very old and the other crew, which shared it with us, were not happy about the damage done to “our” new aircraft.

Foggia Italy 1944

Back - Dick Farley: A/G  ~ Peter Judd: Pilot  ~ Steve McCann:Navigator
Front - Fergus Mennie: Bomb Aimrer  ~ Ted Rainer W/Op

John Fordham

When visiting the UK in April I met our Welfare Officer (Charles Wernham)    R.A.F.A. Wantage Branch who happened to show me a copy of  SHORT BURSTS which I found very interesting. I thought that your readers might be interested in the following.

I lived in Wantage after my parents moved from London in '37 and I worked for my father who purchased a butcher shop. During 1940 I got together with three local fellows and we formed a band. Our pianist and vocalist was GORDON SYMONDS, about two years my junior. I joined the RAF in January '41, completed initial aircrew training, spent most of the next three years verseas, and lost touch.

Due to a faulty undercarriage I was in a crash landing at Mont Joli, Quebec.I was attached to the RCAF and sent on a Gunnery Instructor's Course. I was then posted to Dauphin, Manitoba until early '45. When I arrived in Winnipeg for repatriation they said that they had "lost track of me"?? On arrival back in the UK I was stationed at Abingdon (90 Bomber Grp) about five miles from Wantage, as a Wellington tail gunner. I had the 8th of April off and came home at around 23:00 hours. We were just making dinner when the place lit up and was followed by an explosion. Since we lived on the perimeter of Grove airfield (USAF), I assumed it was there. The next morning I was informed that GORDON SYMONDS had bought it in a Lancaster. Shortly afterwards I migrated to the United States and never got particulars of the crash.

In October 1999 I made a determined effort to learn more about the crash and made extensive inquiries around Lyford. An ex. RAF aircrew had  the enclosed Research Document, "THEY LOVED TO FLY"     LANCASTER CRASH AT LYFORD 8TH APRIL 1945.

You will note that one of the cew of the ill-fated Lanc was WO2 Hugh Fisher from Dauphin, Manitoba. Hugh may have trained at #9 B&G in '44. You might consider investigating to see if any living relatives of Hugh Fisher may be interested in receiving a copy of this report.

Crew of Lancaster HK 788 WS-E
Crew of Lancaster HK 788 WS-E
Back Row - Sgt C.V. Higgins,  WO2 H.A. Fisher,  F/S W. Thomas,  F/S K.C. Mousley
Front Row - F/S C.Mel. McMillian,  F/O A.E. Jeffs,  F/S G.J. Symonds

Introduction to "They Loved to Fly"

On Friday April 7th. 1945 Pilot Officer Ted Jeffs and his crew boarded Lancaster E-Easy for their twentieth mission over enemy territory. The target that night was a benzol plant at Molobis near Lutzkendort, Germany. Take off was at 18:37 hrs. from the Lincolnshire wartime airfield of Bardney, which is nine miles East of the City of Lincoln.

Just minutes after take off the aircraft was seen to be on fire by other ircraft in the formation, however the fire appeared to be quickly dealt with and E-Easy flew on to the target.

Over the target Ted Jeffs, the pilot, had more problems. Bud Fisher, the bomb aimer tried to release the bombs but they "hung up" in the bomb bay. Unable to jettison them, Jeffs decided to head for home. It is not quite clear what happened next, but just after midnight the Lancaster was clearly seen to be in trouble. Whether the fire just shortly after take off had caused damage to the flight systems of the Lancaster, or simply they were just getting low in fuel, but it appears that Jeffs declared an emergency and tried to divert the aircraft to the nearest airfield, which was RAF Abingdon, for an emergency landing.

The aircraft was seen to turn and dive steeply into the ground at Lyford, Berks, four miles from the airfield at Abindon, exploding on impact and killing all seven of the crew.

(Editor's note - If any person would like a copy of this report on the crash of Lancaster HK 788, please write the Editor of this page.)

Aerogram Vol 12 Number 3 May 2000 600 (Regina) Wing
57 Years of Emotion
As related by Leslie Temple  Ex 101 Squadron.

How does one equate 57 years into two days? The 57 years being the period of hich I had not seen my old skipper Eric Nielsen and my rear gunner Jimmy Rooke. On the weekend 1-2 September we met once again at the 101  Squadron reunion. The feeling can not be adequately described when I met the man whose professionalism had given me life, especially recalling the mission we made to Kiel in July 1944 and being coned in searchlights, coming back on two engines, and nearly 100 holes in our Lancaster.

F/O Nielsen, P.C., DFC, QC, LLb, FCSM

Of Interest to 422 Squadron Members

Regret to advise that Joe Corkindale died today as result of massive heart attack while on a short walk near his home in Stranraer. News phoned to Jean Doern. We will miss this fine gentleman who was planning to attend our Winnipeg reunion.

Weldon Moffatt:

Rob Davies writes to say that he has all Bomber Command losses (1939-1945) on an extremely comprehensive computer database and is happy to search his records to assist inquirers. This is a free service, by Email: or via his web site:


Six heavily modified Lancasters were based at Enstone, Lancashire, during WWII. The aircraft were painted black and carried no squadron markings or codes, and also had no bomb bay doors. The aircraft were at Enstone for about eighteen months and were kept on the other side of the airfield to the OTU aircraft, the crews never mixing. Can anyone shed further light on this matter? Weldy 306-522-9938 or use email

Regards, Please note my current email address

Dirk Decuypere:

Dear John,
Thank you very much for your appreciation. Wim Huyghe and I would like to thank you for paying full attention to our project in your most recent Ex-AGs web page. It feels so good for us to know that so many other people can see via the Internet how Halifax LW394 was recovered and that its history and that of its crew is preserved for the future.

Meanwhile we would also like to express our appreciation for your work.

Many, many thanks.

Dirk Decuypere

(Ed. Dirk is referring to the article in April 2002 )

Ted Hackett Reports on Northern Alberta Ex-AG Group.

Good evening John. Svend was out here yesterday, we had coffee with he and Betty at Rickies All Day Grill. I missed the last luncheon meeting so I asked him what went on.  Nothing in articular I guess but I thought I should send you something to put in the SB. so here goes.

The monthly luncheon meeting of the Northern Alberta group was held at the Norwood Legion on March 07, 2002.  The attendance was fairly small but not bad for this time of year, there are still a number of our regular members who are out of the Province, and out of the country in some cases,  Those members will be returning in the coming weeks and we shall probably see some of them at the next meeting.  The Treasurer reported that we are in good financial shape with $ 5000+ in our bank account.  The President, Svend Jensen, stated that he will shortly be coming up with some summer activities to discuss with the members.  After the short meeting was over, the members settled down to a nice lunch and some pleasant talk.

A moment of silence was observed for our late member George Pratt a popular member of our group who will be missed. His funeral was held in the  Legion Hall in Leduc, Alberta, and was very well attended, in fact, it was standing room only.  It was a pleasant affair, for a funeral, with many guests telling humorous stories of our late friend.

There you are John, that's the best I can do. By the way, they still had us listed as meeting at the JP Legion, we now meet at the Norwood Branch 178, 11150 – 82 Street, Edmonton, AB.


These Ladies at the final Ex-Air Gunner's Reunion in Edmonton 2000 are enjoying themselves.
Are they happy it is the last Hurrah, or are they just letting their hair down?


In SHORT BURSTS, June 1995, Issue #50 we reviewed the book
LANCASTER VALOUR written by Clayton Moore.
I received the following letter:

Dear Mr. Moyles,

I am writing to inform you about the sad loss of my father, Mr. C. Moore who requested we inform you when he died. I am writing this letter on behalf of my mother, Edith.

Yours faithfully, 
Claydon's daughter

Clayton Moore was an Air Gunner, who came from a farm near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and was a Member of the Ex-Air Gunner's Association of Canada. In his book, LANCASTER VALOUR, Clayton tells it as it was. He takes the reader through two tours as a tail gunner and weaves an account of crew camaraderie, and a love story, which will hold the reader's interest to the last page.

LANCASTER VALOUR was published by
Compaid Grafics,
Little Ash, Street Lane,
Lower Whitley,
Warrington, Cheshire WA4 4EN.  UK
ISBN 0 9517965 6 9

Author - Clayton Moore
#9 Squadron ~ 1944

This is an excellent book.
Our thoughts go out to Edith and her family.

Please note that Doreene and I have a new address:
John and Doreene Moyles,
Ste. 233 - 1060 Dorothy St.,
Regina, Sask.     S4X 3C5  CANADA
Ph. (306) 949-6112


Again, I encourage Members to send me articles for future pages, otherwise we will have to glean articles from old copies of Short Bursts. That would be like recycling yesterday's chewing gum off the bed post!

We hope to get another edition out in August. Until then, Keep well.

John and Doreene.

 "Three WAGs"
No names – no pack drill!


SARSON, A. #0132, BURLINGTON, ON: 'Tony' passed away during the summer of 2001.  After enlisting as R200836 he received his Gunnery Training at #1 BGS, Jarvis, ON and served overseas with 424 Squadron in 6 Group.  In peacetime he was the Squadron Representative in the Hamilton Area, and was a member of the Commonwealth Aircrew Reunion which was held each fall in Toronto.

RUNCIMAN, D. R. #0339, BELLEVILLE, ON: Don passed away in February.  He enlisted in May 1943 and attended Gunnery Training at #3 BGS at MacDonald, MB.  Due to a Gunner's shortage was posted for advanced training of one weeks' duration at Wombleton then on to 6 Group and 433 Squadron where he completed his first 5 Operational Trips.  Then posted to 427 Squadron at Leeming where he completed his tour, when he received his commission and was awarded the DFC.

DUGGAN, J. #0466, EDMONTON, AB: James passed way September 6,200 after a long illness.  He enlisted in Winnipeg during 1941 and selected for Wireless training.  Served on Guard Duty at Toronto waiting for course opening.  Attended #4 WS at Guelph and #1 in Montreal with Gunnery Training at #7 BGS, Paulson, MB where he received his Brevet. Served at #20 PAED in Saskatoon, SK from where he received a Medical Discharge in 1945.

YORK, G. #0613, WINNIPEG, MB: Born February 27, 1924, George passed away March 11, 2002.  Selected for Gunnery Training he attended Ground School at Quebec City then on to #3 BGS, Course #67 at MacDonald where he received his Brevet.  Then overseas to #26 OTU and HCU at Chedburch, then #3 Finishing School at Feltwell.  Posted to #149 Squadron in 3 Group where he completed 27 Ops before the war ended.

SHARPE, J. C. #1155, CALGARY, AB: James Carson passed away January 20, 2002, having been born on a farm at Glenavon, SK in 1916.  Enlisted as C17283 and took Gunnery Training at Dalcross in Scotland.  Completed a tour with #617 and #619 Squadrons in 4 Group as a rear gunner on Lancaster's.  He was returned home to promote the sale of Victory Bonds and eventually returned to his vocation as a School Teacher.

BELL, R. #1204, SPRUCE GROVE, AB: Dick passed away suddenly on March 27, 2001.  He enlisted in Edmonton on November 30, 1942 and attended #3 BGS at MacDonald, MB  Overseas he received more training at OTU Ossington and #1659 HCU, then flew Ops with #434 'Bluenose' Squadron in RCAF #6 Group at Tholthorpe, Yorks.

PRATT, G.F. #1234, LEDUC, AB: George passed away suddenly on January 21, 2002.  He enlisted in 1941 at Toronto and trained at #2 Wireless School, Calgary, Course #40 and graduating with his WAG Brevet from #4 BGS, Fingal, ON.  He took further training at #111 OTU Nassau, Bahamas, and served overseas with #220 Squadron RAF.

EWATSKI, FRED, #0023, WINNIPEG, MB:  Peacefully at age 81 on March 31st, 2002.  Fred served proudly as President of our Association, beginning in 1983.  He guided us through our growing pains before passing the mantle to Doug Penny.  Fred was also a very active member of his Ukrainian Legion, Br. #141, and served in various offices.  In 1953 he was the co-founder of 573 Air Cadet Squadron which was sponsored by his Legion Branch and served as the first Commanding Officer of that group, following which he became the Sponsoring Committee Chairman during the 70's.

Fred enlisted in the RCAF in September 1942 attending Brandon Manning Depot where he was selected for Gunnery Training.  Following Tarmac Duty at Paulson #7 BGS he attended PAED at McGill University and from there was posted to #9 BGS at Mont Joli, PQ graduating 9-7-43.  Overseas he was assigned to the RAF and took his OTU on Wellington A/C then posted to #159 Squadron on Liberators in India.  He completed his tour 7-4-45 and was discharged November 6th, 1945.

HAYS, J. #1216, EDMONTON, AB:  Born July 31st 1917, John passed away April 27th, 2002.  Joined the RCAF 1941 and released in 1945.  Attended Manning Depot at Penhold, AB and #2 W/S in Calgary with Bombing and Gennery at #8 B&G Lethbridge, AB.  He flew operations with #458 (RAAF) Squadron in North Africa.  He is survived by his Wife Barbara, 2 daughters 1 son and 2 grandchildren.

MOORE, C. #928, BILLINGHAM, Cleveland, UK:  Clayton passed away May 1st.  At the time of enlistment in 1942 he was a resident of Prince Albert, SK and trained as an Air Gunner.  He completed a tour with #9 Squadron and then completed a second tour with the Pathfinders in #83 Squadron during 1943/44.  He was commissioned as J89621 and attained the rank of Flying Officer.  Following the end of the war he was repatriated to Canada but elected to return to Britain where he married and raised his family, and a was employed as a Firefighter.

(Note to Ted Hackett:  Obit for Donald Sharpe #661 appeared in
July 2001 issue of Short Bursts.)

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 - Norwood Branch 178, 11150 – 82 Street, Edmonton, AB
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

Meeting time and local: 2nd Tuesday of each month at 12 noon, 
Canadian Legion, 4896 Delta, Ladner, B.C. (no 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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