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

Ted Hackett sent this picture.
For those of us who were raised with the black and white  “box” camera,
the shutter speed in this case is mind-boggling.
Wouldn’t it have been great to have that lens speed and clarity over the target – or would it.

DON MACFIE: Dashing, Daring, Dicing, Denroche

I was surprised to see his (Denroche’s) name as a pilot on the West Coast at No. 9 BR Sqdrn., Bella Bella, B.C. (see  article January 2003 ) Assuming there was only one Denroche, I will tell about a couple of trips I had with him out of Pembroke Dock in South Wales. Better still, lets copy it from my diary and we will know how it really did happen.

#422 Squadron, Pembroke Dock March 2, 1945 – and here we go!

We were are on a Loran training trip to Rockall and have Jack Richie and his Skipper, Duclos, along as extra crew. Up by Chicken Rock on the Isle of Man, I was on the radar and picked up a Blip ahead which I reported, but Denny said he could not see anything. I got out of the dark radar shelter, stood between the pilots and said, “see over there, on the port quarter,” and there was white snorkel smoke drifting along on the sea at six miles – like the radar had said. Denny really got excited to get over there and dropped a pattern of Sonar Buoys in about a mile or so square and one in the centre. We got a contact.

After a couple of hours shadowing (we could hear voices and clanking of tools down there) I saw the snorkel  of the Sub suddenly emerge directly below us. I was in the Mid Upper Turret. It disappeared but we again saw it surface a couple of times. On the fourth time it came up we made a beautiful angle attack right over the conning tower. It was right on the surface and going all out for deep water. The Depth Charges failed to release!

Later it was up on the surface again and we made another attack. The Sub was on the surface again making a desperate dash to escape as two lines of naval vessels were approaching, one from the South and one from the North. Our DCs still did not drop which was one hell-of-a disappointment.

We were ordered to stay around until 6 p.m. The Navy was depth charging and shooting up flares as it was dark. A very spectacular display, but the Sub got away. A failure in the electrical system was our problem.

Denny had the DCs kept out under the wings, handed over control, and came down into the bomb area with the fire-axe in hand. He leaned out of the bomb door waiting to chop one off if we had another chance. He sure was mad. There was his DFC right in front of him!

You know, unless you have experienced a ride over the conning tower of a Sub going flat out, you’ll never imagine the mighty wallop the exhaust give to the A/C.

Don MacFie at his Radio position.
Three WAGs alternated between the wireless, radar, and mid-upper gun position.
Picture taken from LIFE and TIMES OF #422 Squadron
Edited by Bernard “Bud” Crookes

APRIL 20, 1945 diary entry – in part.
Denroche and those Pesky Germans.

Called at 3 a.m. and eventually airborne for a patrol off Lorient. Intelligence said that it was O.K. to fly over Belle Isle, but as we got over the town on the S.W. point, things broke loose and we were in a box barrage of flak. I looked down and saw gun flashes all over the ground on the Island – maybe a few hundred. Denny did violent evasive action and we had to get six miles away before we were out of range. Pretty exciting. What a target. The biggest aircraft in the Air Force, at 3000 feet, 110 knots, in and absolutely cloudless sky! But we got away. Frank, the tail gunner let loose on the town.  Denny sure was scared as he tried to avoid the black puffs in front of him.

Previous to this, Percy Cuttle, our Navigator was trying to stay six miles from any land but Denny was saying, “don’t be an ass, we can go anywhere around here as all the enemy have been cleared out.” But, after the shoot-out, Denny kept panicking to have a look at the radar to make sure there was no land closer than 20 miles.

Maybe Sunderlands should have been used to eradicate the big ships the Germans kept there. The Americans lost about 19 Fortresses there the first time they tried it in daylight. Sunderlands were so slow the gunners fired to far ahead. When we were going through the spent flak it sounded like a violent hailstorm from within the A/C. There were three holes in our A/C, one through a fuel tank, one by the rear turret and one in he fuselage.

These sure weren’t all the adventures I had when flying with Dashing, Daring, Dicing, Denroche.

What a target, the largest aircraft in the air force at 3000 ft., 110 knots.
The ground gunners were unable to adjust to the slow moving ‘enemy’ aircraft.

Actually, this is an RNZAF Mk V Sunderland, Pratt and Whitney engines and without the mid-upper turret. The bomb doors under the wing are quite visible. The doors opened and the bombs ran out on rails under the wings. The picture was taken over Suva in the far East. Sunderlands were used post war, Berlin Airlift, and in the Middle and Far Eastern theatres during the Korean war. The last operational flight of a Sunderland was May 14, 1959 when DP198 W/205 was airborne from Seletar at 0800 hrs. It undertook an exercise with HMS Caprice. (Ref. Short Sunderland in World War 11 page 139 - by Andrew Hendrie)

(Ed. Don kept a daily diary during his war time service and has been a loyal contributor to SHORT BURSTS over the years. Copy of his diary are now in the CATP Museum in Brandon.)


Hello! Happy New Year!

The Great Escape Memorial Project Executive committee has been hard at work over the last few months assembling fundraising contacts, press coverage, designing a comprehensive website and developing presentation material about the Great Escape Memorial Project.

We are thrilled to report that we have received a lot of interest and support from people around the world in this project. Numerous emails have come in from across North America, England, Germany, Belgium, and South Africa re-enforcing the need for this project. Through the power of media and word of mouth (thanks to many of you!) this project is connecting people from all over the world into one global community all with a common interest to see this project come to fruition. It's purpose, to honour and preserve the memory of Prisoners of War from Stalag Luft III Camp, and to educate people about this historic and heroic event.


Thanks to the efforts of our volunteer web designer, Matthew Chow, our website is now up and running with new information about the memorial. Please have a look at
Copies of many of the news articles are now available to see on the website under press coverage as are links to other related sites.


For those of you interested in joining us at our next Great Escape Memorial Project Volunteer Committee meeting - Canadian Chapter. It will be held on February 19 at 5:30 pm in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The exact location will be announced in the next week or so.


I'd also like to take a moment to recognize the generosity of some individuals and organizations who made a donation to the Great Escape Memorial Project recently. Just last week we received a $2000 donation from the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary Chapelhow Branch # 284 located in
Calgary. Other individual donors include Myron Williams from Calgary, Paul and Joyce Tobolski (Calgary) and Peter G. Porter from Torrance California.
Thank You!!

As you know, in order for this memorial to be built, we need the support of individual donors, corporations, groups and government departments. If you are interested in making a donation or know of a company or organization that would like to contribute to this initiative, we would like to talk to
you! More information about how to donate can be found on the website under the "Donate" button. A donation form can be download off the website and mailed along with payment to:

The Great Escape Memorial Project
c/o MediaWorks Corp
Suite 1370, 144 - 4th Ave. SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 3N4

For more information about the Great Escape Memorial Project, please do not hesitate to contact me either by email at or by phone at (403)245.6693.

PS. Your email address was added to Great Escape Memorial Project update database either because you requested it or someone you know suggested that you might be interested in this project. If you would like to be removed from our email database, please let us know and we would be happy to do so.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Shannyn Scarff
Director, Fundraising and Publicity
The Great Escape Memorial Project


I'm not certain if you can help me but I'm searching for WAG by the name of F/S JW AITKEN. This individual was a member of 419 Squadron, and was shot down over Germany on March 21st, 1945. He was the sole survivor of his crew commanded by Flight Lieutenant R.W. (Bob) Millar. The reason for my search is that a family relative (F/S Charles Elliott) was one of the crew members killed on that mission. I have no further information regarding JW Aitken except that he may have been from Quebec. Any information regarding him or a family member would be most appreciated or any suggestions of where I should search would be great. I am doing this research for F/S Elliott's sister and as a general interest project for myself. My F/S Elliott was posthumously promoted to P/O. Thanking you in advance.

Const. Peter Vail
Fredericton Police Force
New Brunswick

(Second letter)

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I wish I had a service number for you unfortunately I haven't been able to track one down. I do have the following: The plane was a lancaster KB-786 Coded VR-P. After being attacked by a German nightfighter, the plane blew up in midair and crashed in Odderade, approximately 7 Km ESE of Hemmingstedt, the target for the operation. Somehow, F/Sgt. Aitken was thrown clear which leads me to believe that he must have been either the tail gunner or mid upper gunner. I've been trying to locate Prisoner of War Camps for this area in hopes of locating nominal roles but surely there must be something with the National Archives. Anyway, I will forward my work email, address and phone number as that is the best location to make contact with me. Again, I sincerely appreciate your assistance, it would be wonderful if I could learn a bit more about P/O Elliott (my cousin).  Looking forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Peter Vail
311 Queen Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3B 1B1
(506) 460-2593


From Don MacFie:
Hello John,
I have been silent for quite a while and getting the Short Bursts again through family members who have the proper equipment. What I have is an A.C.W. tranceiver and my call sign is WA3 WAG. If you know of anybody near you I would like their call signs and phone numbers so I can test my equipment to Saskatchewan.

I’m sending this stuff on Denroche to help John Maysmith out on some of the pilots his Dad flew with. On reading the January Issue I see Marshall and McGillvary mentioned. They must be the same ones with me in the 18th entry Montreal Wireless School. How can I get in touch with them?

I met Denroche at his home in Vancouver in 1948. He was flying a small float plane for B.C. Airlines. Not long after he and two others went into the mountains on a hunting trip. The stove in the tent put out monoxide gas at night and they didn’t wake up – ever.

Ed. For any of the people mentioned in Don’s letter, or any Ham Operators, here is Don’s address:

Mr. & Mrs. Don M. MacFie
RR 1, Dunchurch, Ont.  POA 1G0
Phone:  (705) 389-2479    Call Sign:  WA3    WAG

From Ted Hackett

Evening All again.  I just printed the January issue of Shortbursts for a friend and I noticed that you have us down as meeting on Tuesday.  We meet for lunch on the FIRST THURSDAY of each Month.  Would you have it changed please.

Did I mention about Betty Jensen?  She is now in the General Hospital receiving Pallitive Care, she was in the Grey Nuns on the south side but they moved her last week.  Gene and Francis Craig were up to see her in the Grey Nuns last week and they said she was in remarkably good spirits.

I do believe you are an old Stranraer man, from the west coast.  If you punch in "Handley-Page Halifax it will bring up a number of sites dealing with the Hali.  One of them lists a 1/72 scale model made by a chap in, I think, Manitoba.  There is also photographs of several other models in that scale and one of them is a Stranraer in both the white scheme and the sand and green scheme.  Very nice models.  I used to do things like that many years ago but dat ole Devil arthritis of the fingers sometimes makes it difficult.  I have to get help from my son on my model railroad sometimes.  Oh well, that's life.  Cheers,

Ted & Gene

From Charley Yule
I am sending to you via Regular Post, an envelope containing Progress Reports on the Halifax Project at Trenton Air Base.

These are sent to me 3 or 4 times a year, and unfortunately I have not saved them all.  For some reason I had assumed that you also received these reports.  Not the first time I have been wrong!

I hope you will be able to make up a current report for the next issue of SHORT BURSTS or the one following.

It is one of my dreams to make a visit to the Trenton Museum and have a look at the project.  I have been putting it off until the project had progressed to a more completed state, but I may not be able to put it off too much longer.  You will recall that our Honorary Member Karl Kjarsgaard was a leading force in recovering this aircraft and spoke of it at one of Edmonton Reunions.

Thanks Charley,
I have been in touch with HALIFAX NA337 RESTORATION  Project Manager Bill Tytula. I am working on a larger article for the March Issue however, here is a brief up-date in which the members will be interested.

October 9, 2002
Today the tail - turret was installed using a web of pulleys, ropes and hoists. Fairings have been manufactured and installed and Plexiglas sections molded and fitted. This photo was taken shortly after installation, much has happened since then.

Halifax Restoration Project
10 North Elm Drive
Trenton, Ontario   K8V 2A1
Work: 613-965-2864   ~   Home 613-392-6302   ~   Fax 613-392-6191

76% of all 6 (RCAF) Bomber Command Group Sorties were done with Halifaxes
Charley Yule – 192 Squadron, 100 Group – Foulsham, Norfolk, In his Halley.
Charley Yule – 192 Squadron, 100 Group – Foulsham, Norfolk, In his Halley.
This is why Charley wants to get down to see NA337 Restoration.

Northern Saskatchewan
Phone call from Smokey Robson.
The Northern Saskatchewan Branch met in fellowship at noon January 20th. with 19 members in attendance.
Good food, good fellowship, balanced books, who could ask for anything more!
Some Members are talking about attending the Aircrew Reunion in Victoria in April.
Aircrew Association Reunion
April 18th - 20th April 2003
Victoria, B.C.

Contact person Ken Pask
or  Jamie MacGregor   (250) 477-8972
Registration - $150.00 per person.
Ken Pask advises that registration is limited to 400 
and that they are currrently at 85%.

Send Cheque to: 
ACA Reunion
P.O. Box 43022 Victoria North P.O.
Victoria, B.C.  V8X 3G2

Hi John: We had our regular 2nd Tuesday of the month meeting today and a good bunch of guys and their partners were present. Stan Sullivan, our fearless leader asked me to sent you the following note for inclusion in the next issue.

Welcome to BC and Vancouver
If you are contemplating a visit to beautiful B.C. be assured of a warm welcome from the BC branch of the Ex Airgunners Association. You don't need to be here on the second Tuesday of the month. Just tell us when you are coming and we will get a bunch of the guys together to make you feel welcome.
There will be delegation of us attending the reunion in Victoria in April and if we don't see before that, we will see you at the reunion.
Dave Sutherland

Les Perkins  (From Flight into Yesterday)

The most poignant stories, perhaps, are the ones of opportunities lost. In the following story Les Perkins makes the reader wonder with him – what if?

“I was only 19 years old, and far from home. To this day I often reflect on what might have been….

She stood at the edge of the swirling mass of dancers, smart and neat. Her right foot tapping to the rhythm of the music, hair loosely brushed, framed a friendly face. Grey-green eyes sparkled with enjoyment. She was alone. I was entranced and stared unashamedly. Our eyes met. She smiled and was instantly beautiful. I blushed beet red because I was shy and girls were very much a mystery to me. My

 approach was corny indeed. Taking her hand in mine, I bent low and, said, ‘Please may I have the honour of this dance?’ I believe I was hoping she would refuse, and when she graciously accepted without (thank God) laughing, I knew I was over my head. I did not know how to dance, this was to be my first attempt. Helen was sweet and charming and made no comment on my clumsiness.

After a while we went to a pub. We lingered in the noisy public bar for some time, warm and comfortable now with each other. She knew how to talk to a shy awkward youth who was far from home and lonesome. It was a wondrous evening. I was enchanted.

Walking to the bus stop, hand in hand, we continued to chatter like a pair of magpies. Waiting, she linked her arm in mine and gave it a squeeze as the bus approached. When it stopped she raised herself on tip toes and kissed me very gently on the lips.  Her perfume lingered and it was as if I had been brushed with a rose. I waited until she was seated by a window. She waved and her lips formed the words, ‘See you tomorrow.’ She blew a kiss and I nodded happily as the bus rumbled away.

The next morning I was told I was posted to an Initial Training Wing, immediately. It was a shock and I was dismayed to realize there was no way to contact Helen, no address, no phone number, the name of a friend, nothing. . .

Sadly I boarded the train that was to take me away from Blackpool and my new love. Many times I was to reflect on the hurt she must have felt when I, apparently, stood her up. Many years have come and gone, and I think of her still.

In my youth she enchanted me, in my old age she lingers a warm friendly ghost.

WILLIS, J.  #0245, WESTON, ON:  We have been advised by Ken Hill of the passing of Jack Willis.  We got to know Jack quite well with his dedicated involvement in our Association, mainly through his attendance at various National Reunions across the country but also as a Director representing Southern Ontario.  He was a GOOD GUY!  He enlisted in the RCAF as R270086 and attended #1 Manning Depot in Toronto.  Selected for Gunnery training he completed the required courses and was awarded his Air Gunner Brevet.  Overseas he served with 100 Squadron in 1 Group and 405 Squadron in 6 Group.  REST WELL, JACK!

A Chuckle sent by Glen Clearwater

Three old Air Gunners were walking down the street to their monthly luncheon.
1st Air Gunner – “It's windy.”
2nd Air Gunner – “No, it's Thursday.”
3rd Air Gunner, - “So am I, let's go have a beer.”


January over, looking forward to the February bonspiel thaw. Remember when we used to curl on real ice and water droplets from the roof made little mountains that rerouted the curling rocks, and there was always a bottle of home brew secreted at the far end of the rink. One has to be from the West to appreciate this. ANYONE HERE FROM THE WEST?  The answer cannot be printed here! However, after –30 C. with wind chill of -40 C., any change is welcome.

Through the generosity of CATP Museum and out Volunteer Web Master, Bill Hillman, in Brandon Manitoba, we are able to enjoy this modern media of communication. So lets capitalize on it. The purpose of this Web Page is to reunite AGs and WAGs for fellowship and  remembrance,  so send us your anecdotes, requests, and suggestions, we are open to (almost) anything. It is hard to read an article and not say, “yeah, that reminds me of the time…………..”  Come on chaps, STIRR THE MEMORY POT.

Keep well.    Cheers, John and Doreene


AirCrew Association – Canada
First Canadian Reunion
Easter in Victoria 18th-20th April 2003


Members Name(print) ___________________________________________________________

Address ____________________________________ City ______________________________

Province/State ___________________________ Postal/Zip Code ________________________

Telephone No. ___________________________ E-mail ________________________________

Accompanying person(s) to be registered. Please include City and Province if different from above.

Registration Fee includes entry to the following events:

       18th April – Buffet Dinner at Crystal Gardens
       19th April – Reception, Banquet and Dance at Empress Hotel

Registration Fee $150 per person
Early Bird Registration – 25% discount  (before 30th June, 2002) $125 per person.

                                                                                          Amount enclosed  $_______________

Please submit payment in Canadian Dollars by cheque or money order,
Cheques payable to AirCrew Association Reunion.
Mail with Registration form to:

ACA Reunion.
PO Box 43022, Victoria North PO
Victoria, BC   V8X 3G2

John Moyles

Our Son, when not sure whether to believe his Old Man, politely responded, “Sure Dad.”  This gave rise to the following cartoon.
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 -  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! The Brandon Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum has agreed to host our AG page. However, as it costs the Museum $35.00 per month to maintain the Web Page, it is suggested that each Ex-AG group contribute periodic donations to the Museum to help off-set this expense, and to enhance the work they are doing.  We thank our Web Master, Bill Hillman, for his volunteer time and expertise.

Donations can be made directly to: 

CATP Museum Inc.
Box 3, Grp. 520, RR5,
Brandon, MB   R7A 5Y5
 Ph.- (204)727-2444

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