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August 2002
Sunderland Flying Boat
Sunderland Flying Boat taking off from Lough Erne, Northern Ireland

Extracts from
by Joseph E. Nespor. Ex AG 422 Sqdrn.
Copyright Oct. 22, 1998

RCAF 422 Squadron
U-Boat Attack - The sinking of German Submarine U625

Before the first of December 1943 four air gunners, all commissioned officers, accepted the offer to go to Coastal Command, received marching orders and left by train to Alness, Scotland. We all realized that we were a long way from being combat ready and additional training would be required to accomplish this. Alness was a small fishing and farming town with an excellent large inlet concealed enough for flying boats to operate safely. The surrounding area around Alness is quite hilly which presented some problems for night flying. The old Castle was used as Coastal Command Operational Training headquarters and nearby Nissan huts provided accommodations for the airmen. Following the usual ground rules laid out by the station commander, the first order of business was to fonn a crew. The Sunderland float aircraft operated with a crew of ten; 2 pilots, one navigator, 3 wireless operators, 2 air engineers and 2 air gunners. Before the start of the new training course names were posted against each position required on the aircraft. We all met in the hangar and introduced ourselves to each other. Our crew consisted of seven members from Canada and three from the British Isles. Ranks were of very little importance while flying. Our skipper, Frank Morton of Calgary was a Flight Sergeant who had considerable experience as second pilot on an operational squadron, sent to AIness to qualify for captaincy. Second Pilot was Flying Officer Rene Simard of Montreal who had been a chemical engineer prior to joining the Air Force. Frank Cauley of Ottawa was our navigator who had already completed one tour of operations on Coastal Command. His plane was shot down over the English Channel and he was the  only surviving member. Ted Higgins, Sergeant, air engineer; John Rushton, Sergeant, air frame mechanic; Chuck Holland, Hugh Gallagher and Rob Roberts, wireless air gunners, all Sergeants; "Hank" Henry of Toronto and myself, both Pilot Officers, were air gunners on the crew. The crew consisted of three commissioned officers and seven non-commissioned airmen. We were well pleased with the crew personnel - Frank Morton, the skipper, was very easy to get along with.

 Front row, l to r:
Frank Cauley, Roy "Hank" Henry, Frank Morton, Joe Nespor, Rene Simard
Back row, l to r:
John "Jimmy" Rushton, Ted Higgins, Chuck Holland, "Rob" Roberts, Hugh Gallagher
 Normal classes on all aspects of aviation were conducted by experienced instructors which made it more interesting as they sighted living cases on operations of flying boats, submarine attack, enemy aircraft attacks, and fighting the elements. All senior officers at Al ness were the stuffy RAF types who did not exactly appreciate Canadians because we were paid more money. Pilot Officers pay in the RCAF equaled to the Squadron Leaders , in the RAF .The winter months were not exactly the best time of the year to be in Scotland. Cool raw winds quickly penetrated your clothes, and heavy fog formed over the water in the inlet. One evening while our pilots were doing circuits and landings heavy fog moved in and caused a major disaster. Two aircraft from the same senior course, who were on a training exercise, were returning to base at night and failed to recognize this problem and literally landed on top of the fog approximately fifty feet above the water and crashed. Over one half of the crew was killed in each aircraft.

All this time Frank Morton, who was practicing circuits and landings with a skeleton crew saw and heard all the commotion below. The returning aircraft from the exercise were given the top priority to land first. Our crew was compelled to wait until the bodies were recovered and a new flight path established. Frank fully realized the danger and when permitted to land he kept the speed up to make sure that he touched the water before pulling the throttle back. Following that night we had full confidence in Frank's ability as a pilot and skipper.

The picturesque hills of Scotland are generally covered with snow during the winter months. During our free time we visited the local fish shops where I had my first fish and chips in a newspaper. Weekends, quite often, were spent at Invemess. The town had  several bars and a large dance hall. Invemess was a unique little town where people spoke Canadian English. The train service between the two locations was very good. Invemess also had a large indoor swimming pool quite frequently used by the Air Force for training in survival on water, proper use of dinghies and other tests. The ground and air training at the OTU lasted over four months which included daylight and night flying, bombing and machine gun firing exercises, radar, navigational charts, aids and new equipment.

The crew completed all major exercises by the middle of February 1944 and were posted to RCAF 422 Squadron at Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland. We expected that we were now fully qualified to conduct reconnaissance missions and convoy escort patrols. To our surprise we continued to fly and train in aerial combat with our own fighter aircraft, practice bombing of marked water targets and air to ground machine gun attacks.

Finally the command felt that the crew was ready for combat action and were assigned Sunderland EK591. In the mean time our Skipper, Frank Morton, was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer. Our crew's first operational flight was scheduled for March 10, 1944, to patrol a designated area in the North Atlantic.

Following the aircrew briefing pertaining to patrol area, weather conditions, etc., the crew boarded the Sunderland Flying Boat EKL591 on Loc Erne, Northern Ireland. Prior to take-off Squadron Leader Brian Young, in charge of Operations, came aboard the aircraft to wish us well. In addition, F/L Sid Butler and 2nd. Navigator F/L A. Omeron became part of our crew on this trip to ensure our safety. A .5 machine gun was installed in the nose of the aircraft. Take off time took place at 11:25 a.m., March  10,1944, for the patrol area in the North Atlantic. In less than five hours after take-off on our first operational trip every member of the crew was put to the test after months of teaching, learning, and practicing. The day was bright and sunny with unlimited visibility. At 1500 hours, before we reached the patrol area a U-Boat was sighted simultaneously by F/L Butler from the first pilot's seat and Flight Sergeant W. Roberts from the front gun turret. F/L Butler, who was nearing completion of a tour of operations was screening the captain of the aircraft, W/O Morton, on his first operational sortie as Captain. All guns were test fired immediately and I positioned myself to operate the .5 gun in the nose of the aircraft.

The U-Boat had ample time to dive long before we reached the sub but it decided to remain on the surface and fight it out with the aircraft. I was unable to notify the captain that  I was prepared and ready to operate the .5 machine gun because the intercom, normally beside the .5 location was missing. Captain Morton sent F/O Simard, our second pilot to  see where I was. I informed him that I was ready and not to stand behind me. The manoeuvring and counter manoeuvring of he U-Boat and the aircraft began in earnest. The U-Boat kept turning to keep the stern towards the aircraft for maximum fire power. The aircraft took evasive action and the U-Boat continued to fire at the aircraft without success.. Because the Plexiglas window in the nose of the aircraft was scratched and dirty, I opened the window for a better view. Unbeknownst to me Captain Morton had turned  over the controls to F/L Butler for the attack. F/L Butler, an experienced pilot, tried to manoeuvre the aircraft for the front bow attack with some success and quickly dropped the aircraft to 400 feet in a steep dive towards the U-Boat and, levelling off at 50 feet, it appeared that we would hit the conning tower with the bottom of the aircraft. Once the frontal attack started and the U-Boat came into full view of the frontal guns they opened fire and silenced the guns on the U-Boat. The main attack lasted less than two minutes. I fired 350 rounds of ammo wih the .5 machine gun. F/L Butler did a superb job of dropping six depth charges straddling the U-Boat behind he conning tower.

Main Explosion

The 20mm cannon on the U-Boat was pointed at an angle skyways and, to my surprise, I saw one brave German running towards the cannon. He pulled the trigger and fired one shot at the aircraft. I continued to fire the .5 machine gun until we flew past the sub and, leaning forward,with my feet spread apart for better control of the gun, I heard an explosion and noticed a light below the aircraft. The submarine's cannon had opened a hole in the fuselage approximately ten inches in diameter between my feet. I saw no blood and proceeded to lift my right foot and then my left foot which appeared  to be still intact. We had been told at training sessions that quite often you do not feel pain after being hit.

Fortunately an explosive shell was in the breach which exploded on impact. The shell fragments hit the frontal partition wall in the fuselage and peppered it with holes. An armour piercing shell would have gone through the aircraft from bottom to top and in all likelihood would have killed most of the crew.

I still couldn't believe that I wasn't hit until I walked away from the machine gun and met the fellow crew embers who inspected me for blood. Mind you, they did not help matters by any stretch of the imagination by saying, "Almost a bouquet on your grave, Joe."

The crew had responded with perfection after several months of training.

After the attack the aircraft circled. Three minutes had elapsed when the U-Boat submerged but resurfaced after another three minutes moving at a very slow speed and turning to starboard. While there appeared to be a considerable amount of fuel oil slick around the U-Boat, we were uncertain as to whether we were successful in damaging the sub beyond repair as it continued to float on the surface. As we were out of depth charges, some consideration was given to attacking the U-Boat with frontal guns in the aircraft. This proposal was quickly disregarded as the guns alone could not sink the sub. All guns on the aircraft and the U-Boat remained silent and it was decided to play a waiting game to see the final outcome. In any case no Germans were seen on top of the U-Boat. Operational headquarters were constantly kept informed of all our activities by Flight Sergeant C. Holland via radio with a request for assistance.

Sub sinking
Sub sinking

 One hour and twenty-eight minutes later the U-Boat flashed "Fine Bomish" by altis lamp and the crew started to abandon the sub in numerous small dinghies. At 17:40 hours the U-Boat sank beneath the surface. A Sunderland aircraft from the sister squadron 423 was dispatched to our area. This aircraft was the closest patrol aircraft to the area and arrived shortly after the U-Boat sank. We were still circling the dinghies occupied by the survivors.

Survivors in life rafts

While we were quite jubilant to see the Germans vacating the U-Boat and entering the dinghies, several thoughts went through my mind . Firstly, that I could have been killed or maimed by the gun fire on the initial attack and secondly, that it could have been some of us floating in the dinghies instead of the Germans.

Seventeen U-Boat seamen survived the sinking, including three officers who stood up in the dinghy and gave the Heil Hitler salute as their U-Boat was going under. A British war ship was patrolling the shipping lanes in close proximity to the sinking site and was requested to pick up the seventeen survivors.

Even thought the hole in the fuselage was slightly above the water mark, to land the aircraft with a gaping hole would have been a problem. The task to repair the hole became a major concern. Sergeant Ted Higgins, aircraft engineer, found some sheet metal pieces large enough to more than cover the hole. It was necessary to firmly brace the sheet metal into place so that it would not become disengaged during landing. With the patch in place F/L Butler inspected the repairs and  was satisfied that he would be able to land the aircraft safely.

By the time we returned to the operational base at Castle Archdale it was already dark which made the landing that much more difficult. The rescue boats were alerted and in place in case we could not save the aircraft. The crew members were in position and braced for landing. F/L Butler landed the plane on the flare path with the nose slightly higher than normal and taxied firmly on the step all the way to the ramp where crews were ready to remove the aircraft from the water. The patch held with only a small amount of water penetrating the hull.

The debriefing of the crew was probably worse than the attack itself. It lasted for hours. We were all very tired with over 12 hours in the air and perhaps the most dramatic experience of our lives. I remember a rather stupid question, "What improvements would you recommend to improve future attacks on U-Boats?" I replied rather sarcastically, "It is hard to improve on a perfect attack."

It was then we found out there were pictures. By pressing the release button on the pilot's controls which dropped the depth charges also automatically activated the rear facing camera. The entire attack was photographed and some of the best pictures of a submarine attack in the war was captured on film.

F/L Sid Butler immediately received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Warrant Officer Frank Morton was recommended for a King's Commission.

The German Submarine U625
Information obtained from Germany

Type: VIIC
Weight: 769 tons
Commander: Kapitan Leutnant Hans Becker.
Leutnant Becker had also commanded U152 and U80

War Service of Submarine U625

Leader Post  July 8, 2002. By Will Chabun

Sixty years to the day after they died in the North Pacific, two Regina Airmen and six of their buddies will be saluted in a memorial service. And the organizer wants to make sure their families know about this.

This story starts in August 23, 1942, nine months into the Pacific war, when a Stranraer flying boat from RCAF's 120 Squadron, operating from Coal Harbour on Vancouver Island, disappeared on a patrol flight.

Stranraer Flying Boat
Stranraer Flying Boat

No race of the large twin-engined aircraft and its eight crewmen was ever found. All eight were declared missing and presumed dead. The Reginans were Sgt.Chrles Franklin Beeching, and F/Sgt. Lawrence Alfred Bernd Horn. Organizing the Memorial Service, to be held in Victoria's Royal Oak Burial Park on August 23, 2002, is Traer Van Allan, cousn of the Stranraer's Pilot, F/O Everard Thomas Cox of Vancouver.Beeching lived at 933 Edgar St. and Horn resided at 3415 Victoria Ave.
Van Allen determined to organize this service after co-ordinating one last year for his brother, posted missing and presumed dead in Goose Bay area in September 1941.

Van Allen said RCAF records insicte the men lost in 1942 were reported missing while attafcking a Japanese submarine off the Western coast f Vancouver Islnd. The RCAF official history does not mention this incident, but notes many sightings of, and two attacks, by Japanese submarines off B.C. that summer.

The other men were F/O E.T. Cox of Vancouver, F/Sgt. Mervin Cram of Renfrew, Ont.; Sgt. A.W. Anderon of Selkirk, Man; Leslie Oldford of Penhold, Alta., lus two Sgts. from Vancouver, Kenneth Hope (also listed as having relatives i Saskatooon) and Robert Stuart.

The August 23 service will see the unveiling of a large red granite memorial bearing the names of the eight airmen, whose bodies were not found. "These guys were Canadian Heroes and they weren't even given a funeral," said Van Allen.

Family members or others wishing to attend this service can contact the Royal Oak Buriel Park at (250)658-5621.

The account of F/O Cox and crew on Stranraer 951
is recorded in more detail in Chris Weicht's book
JERICO BEACH and the West Coast Flying Boat Squadrons pg. 103/104.

Pages 103/104:  "On August 23, 1942, F/Sgt E.T. Cox and a crew of seven airmen, took off at 0920 hours on a long patrol for the day. Nine hours later, about ninety miles North West of Cape Scott, #951 developed engine trouble and F/S Cox was forced to ditch the aircraft. The wireless operator sent out an S.O.S. giving their position and  short cryptic message that they were down at sea and sinking. The navy was advised, and the five remaining aircraft on the station (Coal Harbour) were immediately dispatched.

Two hours later F/O Snyder and crew of Stranraer #952 sighted #951 - some of the #951 crew had climbed out on the wing to wave and cheer at the approaching stranraer. The high seas made landing impossible, but  the crippled aircraft's wireless operator F/Sgt. Cram signalled that they were all relieved to be spotted and everything was fine, with the exception of their aircraft which was taking a beating in the rough sea. F/O Snyder advised dispatch that they were now experiencing some engine trouble. He was ordered, if possible, to circle over the ditched aircraft until Stranraer #950 could get there to relieve them. The high speed launch, 'Malecite' M.231, which was waiting for orders in Quatsino, was dispatched to the position to pick up the crew, and all the other aircraft were ordered back to base. As total darkness closed in, it seemed that the situation was in hand.

Somewhere in their circling pattern, in the blackness beneath them, the crew of #952 lost sight of #951. #950 arrived and searched the area but returned to Coal Harbour station with negative results; the 'Malecite' also returned and reported that they had found nothing. F/O Wayave in Sranraer #909 was within sight of the search area when his aircraft also developed engine trouble and had to turn back. He reported sighting a submarine that he thought was moving in the direction of the downed aircraft.

Wayave, who was awarded the Air Force Cross for his courageous work in trying to locate the lost aircraft, returned to the station and took off again in one of the Stranraers fitted with long range tanks. In spite of poor weather conditions with a cloud ceiling sometimes as low as 100 feet, he circled the crash site throughout the night. As dawn came he saw no trace of #951 or his fellow Airmen. Along with other searchers he refused to give up hope and continued to fly long hours in the next week as the search area was expanded.

 S/L Carpenter, operating out of RCAF Station Ucluetlet, took personal charge of the organized search over the enlarged area. Aircraft from Coal Harbour, Bella Bella, Ucluelet, and Patricia Bay made extensive sweeps in criss cross patrols, but the results continued to be negative. At the end of August no clue had been uncovered to explain the total disappearance of Stranraer #591 and its crew of 8 Airmen. The Japanese submarine sighted so close to the crash point also remains part of the mystery."

Fred Burnyeat  Ex AG Member (Saskatoon) was stationed at #4 BR Squadron, Ucluelet, at the time and carried out a number of search patrols.

Chris Weich's book, JERICO BEACH records other evidence of enemy submarines on the West Coast including an attack on a submarine off the Queen Charlotte Islands October 27, 1942, by a Blackburn Shark crew from #7 BR Squadron, Prince Rupert.

Blackburn Shark 545 #7 B.R. Squadron
Blackburn Shark 545 #7 B.R. Squadron

The book also records the sighting of a Japanese submarine borne Yokosuka E14Y1 "Glen" reconnaissance aircraft flying over Prince Rupert in February 1942. At the time, all this activity on the West Coast was Top Secret and the Canadian public were kept in the dark to prevent panic.

Japanese Sub showing aircraft mount.

From the Homefront Archives & Museum, 6015-5th Ave., Regina Sk, Canada S4T 6V4

Paper propaganda sheets dropped by air or by special artillery shells were a form of psychological combat utilized by all nations during WW11. Intended to demoralize the enemy, with the hope they would surrender to the promise of proper care, ample food,and the security of being safe until the war ended.

 Most recipients made good use of the pamphlets as toilet paper, which explains the rarity at this time. Complete records of the variations and their volume were never retained. It does make an interesting  field for the collectors of today. Most Bomber crews started operations with a ‘Nickel’ trip spreading propaganda leaflets over enemy territory.

Robert  Henderson owns and operates the
Homefront Archives & Museum at Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada,
and has published the following book.

by Rober Henderson and C.M. Madsen.
ISBN 0-9697888-0-0  SOFT COVER  6" X 9"  203 PAGES
Price - $28.00 (Can) includes mailing cost.

Details: the definitive book on the history, activities and collectable artifacts of German Prisoners of War (with some Veteran Guard of Canada) artifacts from the Second World War.

Documented details including photographs, locations of branch camps, Labor Projcts, Military Hospitals, and Detention Centers. The book includes a special section on the collecting of artifacts relating to these Prisoners, including eighty eighty photogrphs of "Collectibles" currently held in the Homefront Archives & Museum at Regina, Saskatchewan.

The book provides the historian, the researcher, and the colletor with details not found in any other publication! Extensive Bibliography. The book is available from:

Robert J. Henderson,   6015-15th Ave. Regina, Sk. S4T 6V4 Canada.



British Columbia Branch

Meeting time: The second Tuesday of every month at 11.30am
Local: Firefighters Social & Athletic Club, 6515 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby ~ 604-437-4347
NB: Wives and lady friends are most welcome at all meetings.
Contact: Dave Sutherland. Email:  Phone:604-431-0085
Dave Sutherland

Re: Lyle Peace  Aus439229
Dear Sir,
I have just visited your Ex Air Gunners Web site, whilst looking for any information about training aircraft.
I was hoping to find out some information about the aircraft that my late father-in-law (Lyle Peace  Aus439229) trained on whilst in Canada during 1944/45.
He  trained as a radio operator from 2/8/44 to19/12/44 and his flight log is stamped by the
Which I believe was in WINNIPEG?
He then trained as a gunner from 28/1/45 to 17/2/45 at  #9  B & G School ~ Mont Joli
In his flight log for these periods under Aircraft Type and No, all the entries appear to be call signs
eg  -  N2477,  Y3394,  Y3413 and N 2474   -  Battle 51,  Battle107  etc.
All the information that I have at this time is two name - Yale and Norseman, but I am unsure about them. I also believe that he went to NASSAU in the BAHAMAS and was involved in some bombing training as well. Any information that you or any of your members can help me with will be greatly appreciated and I take this opportunity to thank you for any assistance.

Bob Offer
(Ed. Send replies to Editor)

Northern Saskatchewan Branch

 Smokey Robson phoned to say that their July  meeting was well attended and that their Group is still quite active.

422 Squadron Reunion - Sept. 26 - Sept. 30, 2002.
Winnipeg, Manitoba. Contact person   Jack Logan

GROUT, WILLIAM #0262, BURNABY, BC:  Bill passed away in June after a short illness.  Enlisted as R109214 as a Carpenter, previously a member of the Calgary Highlanders Regiment from early 1940 to mid 1942.  Remustered to Air Crew and  Posted to #3 Manning Depot in Edmonton where he was selected for Gunnery Training.  Attended BC University for PAED training then on to #3 B&G at MacDonald, MB.  Overseas he was posted to #75 (New Zealand) Squadron in RAF 3 Group at Mepal, Cambridgeshire where he completed a 36 Ops Tour as a Rear Gunner on Lancasters.  Following the war Bill spent 30 years on the Vancouver Police Department

HUMPHREYS, C. MBR #0549, CALGARY, AB: Cecel passed away at the Foothills Hospital on Sunday, July 7, 2002 at age 83.  Service No. C89652, Air Gunner and served with 405 Squadron in the UK with 6 Group.  He was a talented Mechanic who spent 26 years in the trucking industry.  There was no service as per his request.

Good Lord Willin' and if the creek don't rise, we will get another Issue of Short Bursts out September 2002.

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!
Keep well.

John & Doreene Moyles

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
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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