Last Name First Name Rank Unit Service Number Award Type
Last Name First Name Rank Unit Service Number Award Type
SIMPSON, Allan James Flight Lieutenant, No.6 Squadron, 41747 Distinguished Flying Cross RAF WWII
Description (click to view)
SIMPSON, F/L Allan James (41747) - Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 14 August 1942. Biographical material provided by himself. Born in Delhi, Alberta, 2 January 1915; home there; educated at Newport Public School (Delia), September 1922 to June 1928 (Grade VIII and High School Entrance) and Delia High School, September 1928 to June 1931 (Grades IX to XI, Junior Matriculation). Farmed for four years; sales clerk for T. Eaton Company in Calgary (one month), gold prospector in British Columbia (one summer). RAF, 28 December 1939 to 19 December 1944 when he transferred to RCAF. For much of his career see notes following citation. Retired from RCAF, 30 May 1963. Died in Ottawa, 4 July 1999 AFRO 1413/42 dated 4 September 1942 (reporting DFC award) described him as a Canadian in the RAF. RCAF photo PL-28694 (ex UK-9917 dated 20 April 1944) shows him after investiture with Mrs. C. Keating and her daughter, Miss Claire Keating, Seven Oaks, Kent. Photo PL-28993 (ex UK-9916 dated 20 April 1944) taken after investiture at Buckingham Palace, with Miss Claire Keeting of Seven Oaks, Kent. See his article, “Lucky” in Airforce Magazine, Volume 15, No.4, January-February-March 1992. // In June 1942 this officer led a fighter formation in an attack on a large number of enemy armoured vehicles. Although he was wounded in the chest by enemy ground fire, he continued to attack and obtained several hits on the objective. Although weakened by the loss of blood and with his right arm useless, he attempted to gain height and evade the heavy barrage, but his aircraft was hit. Hot oil sprayed over his face and being unable to see, owing to smoke which was penetrating into the cockpit, he was forced to leave his aircraft by parachute at about 500 feet. Flight Lieutenant Simpson descended safely, however, and was rescued by one of our ambulance units. Throughout he displayed great gallantry and outstanding devotion to duty. // Simpson’s personal papers described a remarkable career, as follows: // 12 July 1935 to 11 July 1936 - Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), Calgary (permanent force, mounted and partially mechanized cavalry) - Duties - cavalryman, riding school for nine months, motor transport course for six weeks - Rank - Trooper - Remarks - Section, Troop, Squadron and Regimental mounted and dismounted training; sword, rifle and machine gun; tactical Army maneouvres; vaulting, jumping, tent-pegging mounted sports, remount training, participated in Musical Ride and Activity Ride; completed three-year engagement. Character on discharge: “Very Good”; Remarks: “Reliable. Intelligent. Good Worker.” // 13 July 1938 to 25 February 1939 - Royal Canadian Artillery, Calgary (Non-Permanent Active Militia) - Duties - Signalman - Rank - Gunner - Remarks - Attended summer camp at Shilo, Manitoba, and evening parades in Calgary Armouries. Honourably discharged. // 28 December 1939 to 3 March 1939 (note overlap with above) - Reid and Sigrist Civil Elementary Flying Training School, Desford, England - Duties - on pilot’s course - Rank - Pupil Pilot - Remarks - DH.82 (Tiger Moth) aircraft. // 4 March 1939 to 17 March 1939 - RAF Station Uxbridge - Duties - On Officer’s Disciplinary Course - Rank - Acting Pilot Officer - Remarks - Course for newly-commissioned officers of four-year Short Service Commission in RAF, service back-dated to 28 December 1938. // 18 March 1939 to 30 September 1939 - No.8 Service Flying Training School, Montrose, Scotland - Duties - on course - Rank - Acting Pilot Officer - Remarks - Intermediate Flying Training School (March to June), pilot’s flying badge in June; Advanced Flying Training School (July to September 1939). // 11 September 1939 to 28 September 1939 (note inclusion in above) - No.8 Armament Training School, Evanton, Scotland - Duties - on course - Rank - Acting Pilot Officer - Remarks - Report stated, “An alert type who has worked well throughout the course.” Hawker Hart, Audax and Fury aircraft. // 4 October 1939 to 15 November 1939 - School of Army Cooperation, Old Sarum, England - Duties - on Army Cooperation Pilots Course - Rank - Pilot Officer - Remarks - Passed eighth on course of 49 officers (Lysander aircraft). // 16 November 1939 to 16 December 1939 - Army Cooperation Pilots Pool, Andover, England - Duties - awaiting posting; attached to Artillery Unite one week - Rank - Pilot Officer - Remarks - Flying practice with Magister aircraft. Volunteered for service in France. // 17 December 1939 to 22 May 1940 - No.13 Squadron, Royal Air Force - Duties - Operational Army Co-operation pilot; Flight Interpreter (French-English) - Rank - Pilot Officer - Remarks - aerial photography; artillery spotting; Tactical Reconnaissance with British Expeditionary Force (Lysander aircraft). // 19 February 1940 to 23 February 1940 (note inclusion in above) - RAF Station Odiham, England - Duties - on gas-spray course - Rank - Pilot Officer - Remarks - Airborne has spray (Lysander aircraft). // 22 May 1940 to 7 October 1940 - No.13 Squadron, Royal Air Force - Duties - operational squadron pilot - Rank - Pilot Officer and Flying Officer from 3 September 1940 - Remarks - Coastal reconnaissance and anti-invasion patrol (Lysander and Hornet Moth aircraft). // 7 October 1940 to 7 March 1941 - RAF Hospitals, Cosford and Torquay, England - Duties - patient Rank - Flying Officer - Remarks - knee injury. // 7 March 1941 to 7 July 1941 - No.13 Squadron, Hooton Park,Odiham and Warmwell, England - Duties - operational pilot, Deputy Flight Commander, Welfare Officer; in charge of Air/Sea Rescue Detachment (RAF/RCAF) at Warmwell in May. Rank - Flying Officer - Remarks - Acted as Personal Assistant to Air Commodore Cole-Hamilton during tactical army/air exercises, March (personal commendation from Air Commodore Cole-Hamilton). Lecturing to factory workers. Best rifle shot in No.13 Squadron. Volunteered for service in Middle East. Assessed as “Above Average” as army co-operation pilot. // 30 July 1941 to 17 August 1941 - HM Troopship Orcades, UK to West Africa - Duties - Aircraft Recognition Officer while in transit by sea - Rank - Flying Officer - Remarks - Greenock, Scotland to Freetown, Sierra Leone. // 17 August 1941 to 28 August 1941 - HM Troopship New Northland, Freetown to Lagos, Nigeria - Duties - in transit by sea - Rank - Flying Officer - Remarks - via Takoradi, Gold Coast. // 30 August 1941 to 8 September 1941 - Sabena (Belgian) Airways and BOAC, Nigeria to Egypt - Duties - in transit by air - Rank - Flying Officer - Remarks - Lagos, Nigeria via French Cameroons, Unbangi Shari, Belgian Congo and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan to Cairo. // 9 September 1941 to 18 October 1941 - No.71 OTU, Ismailia, Egypt - Duties - on course and army co-operation instructor - Rank - Flying Officer and Flight Lieutenant from 30 September 1941 - Remarks - Conversion course to Hurricane aircraft; also flying Magister and Lysander aircraft. // 18 October 1941 to 7 March 1942 - No.74 OTU, Aqir, Palestine - Duties - Flying Instructor; Lecturer; Unit Stores Officer; Flight Commander; Aircraft Ferrying - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Lysander, Magister, Gloster Gladiator and Hurricane aircraft. Volunteered for service in Western Desert. // 7 March 1942 to 8 June 1942 - No.6 Squadron, Egypt and Libya (Hurricane IID anti-tank with 40-mm cannon and two .303 machine guns - Duties - Flight Commander, tank buster operations in Western Desert - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - In charge of hand grenade and rifle grenade training for Emergency Attack Patrols. Shot down 8 June 1942, wounded right arm and chest while attacking enemy tanks and troops which menaced Free French Forces under General Koenig in trap at Bir Hacheim., Baled out and taken to Tobruk hospital. Evacuated by air to Heliopolis, Egypt, 13-14 June 1942. His personal notes indicate that he was informed of his DFC on 14 July 1942, although this may be confusion of month. // 6 August 1942 to 10 September 1942 - No.74 OTU, Rayak, Syria - Duties -supervision of flying, lecturing - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - nil. // 12 September 1942 to 7 February 1943 - No.6 Squadron, Shandur, Egypt - Duties - Flight Commander and Detachment Commander, in charge of Training and Maintenance Flights - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - In charge of tank-buster training for No.6 Squadron RAF, No.7 Squadron SAAF, and Nos.20 and 28 Squadrons, India (Hurricane IID aircraft); assessed as “Above Average” as tank-buster pilot. Transferred to RAFO - Reserve of Air Force Officers - 28 December 1942 on completion of four-year Short Service Commission. // 25 February 1943 to 1 March 1943 - BOAC, Egypt to South Africa - Duties - in transit by air - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - From Cairo, Egypt via Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Portugese East Africa to Vaal Bank Dam, Union of South Africa. // 3 or 24 March 1943 to 3 June 1943 - No.33 Flying Instructor School, Norton, Southern Rhodesia - Duties - on flying instructor course - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Graduated as instructor on elementary and twin engine advanced trainers. Assessed as “Average” as twin-engine pilot and granted “C” Category Instructor Certificate. The course at No.33 FIS was on Oxfords, and actual instruction may not have begun until 24 March 1943. Also flew Tiger Moth and Harvard aircraft. // 6 June 1943 to 1 January 1944 - No.23 Flying Training School, Heany, Southern Rhodesia - Duties - Operations Officer, Flight Commander and Flying Instructor; temporarily grounded medically - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Oxford aircraft. // 3 January 1944 to 20 February 1944 - Clairwood Transit Camp, Durban, South Africa - Duties - awaiting shipping to United Kingdom - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks -nil. // 20 February 1944 to 13 March 1944 - HM Troopship Nieuw Amsterdam, Durban, South Africa to Greenock, Scotland - Duties - in transit by sea - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - nil. // 20 April 1944 to 3 May 1944 - No.51 OTU, Cranfield, England - Duties - on course - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Night Vision Instructor Course // 4 May 1943 to 4 July 1944 - No.51 OTU, Cranfield, England and No.69 Squadron, Wellington aircraft, night photography, Northolt, England - Duties - Night Vision Instructor - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - flew Auster V, Oxford and Anson aircraft. // 5 July 1944 to 10 October 1944 - No.62 OTU, Ouston, England (School for Radio Navigators) - Duties - Staff Pilot, Flying Instructor, Acting Squadron Commander - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Captain of Rifle team. Flew Anson aircraft; assessed as “Above Average” on twin-engined aircraft. // 11 October 1944 to 18 December 1944 - No.2 Group Support Unit, Tactical Air Force, Swanton Morley, England - Duties - Mosquito Conversion course and intruder training - Rank - Flight Lieutenant Remarks - Transferred to RCAF (C89524), 19 December 1944; repatriated to Canada, January 1945. // 28 February 1945 to 15 March 1945 - No.3 SFTS, Calgary - Duties - administration - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - double banking as Training Wing Adjutant. // 16 March 1945 to 19 April 1945 - No.1 Composite Training School, Toronto - Duties - Officers Administration Course - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Passed high on course and graded as “Superior”). // 20 April 1945 to 10 June 1945 - No.3 SFTS, Calgary - Duties - annual inspection of Air Cadet squadrons while in charge of Air Cadets in Northern Alberta - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Inspected about one-half of Air Cadet Squadrons in Alberta and some in Saskatchewan. // 10 June 1945 to 13 June 1945 - No,1 Aircrew Conditioning Unit, Brandon, Manitoba - Duties - Flight Commander - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks -nil. // 19 June 1945 to 4 April 1946 - No.1 Repatriation Depot, Lachine, Quebec - Duties - Repatriation and Postings Officer; Unit Administration Officer; Publicity Officer for Ninth Victory Loan campaign; thanked by Minister of Finance; also carried out Train Conducting for repatriation receptions at New York and Halifax. // Took Aptitude Tests under supervision of Personnel Counsellor with following results - “This officer is considered to have outstanding ability to learn and is considered outstanding in Mechanical knowledge. He has high clerical aptitude.” // 5 April 1946 to 30 June 1948 - Air Force Headquarters, Directorate of Public Relations, Ottawa - Duties - Public Relations - Rank - Flight Lieutenant and Squadron Leader from 1 June 1948 - Remarks - biographies, speech writing, radio scripts, news photo captions, investitures at Government House, editing Spook (a sports and recreational magazine, circulation of 2,000), writing magazine feature articles, liaison with press, special events such as Hamilton Air Show, Rockcliffe Air Force Day, Ottawa Sportsman’s Show, CNE). // 10 June 1947 to 17 September 1947 (note inclusion in above) - U.S. Army Information School, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania - Duties - Public Relations course - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - passed 17th in a course of 80 officers with rating of “Excellent”. The course included World Affairs, U.S. Economy, U.S. Government, Army of the U.S., United Nations Organization, Army Information Progress, Public Relations in general, Labour-Management Relations, Community Relations, Propaganda and Psychological Warfare, Advertising, Special Events, Press, Radio, Tours of Newspaper Plants, Radio Studies, Letter Writing, Typing, Committee Studies, Pictorial Journalism, Public Speaking. // 5 January 1948 to 12 March 1947 - Air University, USAF, Special Staff School, Craig Field, Alabama (note inclusion in above). Duties - Public Relations Officers Advanced Course - Rank - Flight Lieutenant - Remarks - Public Opinion, Public Relations, Public Information, administration and planning; Public Speaking, Speech Writing, Press, Radio, Photos and Pictorial Journalism; Field Trip (one week) to Hollywood, California. Received 40 lectures, visited Don Lee Television, Warner Brothers film studio, NBC radio, etc. Led class of 33 officers in final exam and placed second on overall course. Report described him as “... a refined and consistently conscientious officer. He is bland, mild and quietly dignified in manner. Despite obvious discomfort when he began public speaking, by sheer will power he demonstrated commendable improvement. In seminar work he participated objectively, contributing pertinent ideas and reflecting mature, analytical judgement. His written expression was excellent. In overall aptitude for duty as a Public Information Officer he ranked among the leaders in a class of 33...He is highly recommended as a Public Information Officer att any echelon of command...highly recommended for further (college level) academic study.” // 1 June 1948 to October 1948 - Administrative Officer in AFHQ (assisting Air Member Organization and Training), July 1948 to October 1948, continuing with Spook and helping launch Roundel. // 25 October 1948 to 27 January 1949 - Secretary to Air member for Air Plans. Attended Service Management Course, RCAF School of Service Management, Trenton, October 1948 (two weeks). // 28 January 1949 to 30 September 1949 - Secretary to Aerodrome Development and Projects Committee at AFHQ. Wrote Promotion Papers for Pilots Trade (74 percent), General Service Knowledge (74 percent), World History since 1914 (86 percent, Global Geography (91 percent), Current Affairs (82 percent). // 30 September 1949 to 28 March 1950 - Attended Advanced Photographic Interpretation Course (CFATC and APIS), Rivers, Manitoba. // May to August 1950 - Attended Strategic Intelligence and World Affairs Course for Military Attaches, U.S. Army School of Strategic Intelligence, Washington, D.C., May to August 1950 (12 weeks). Much time spent with Canadian Joint Staff, Washington. // 5 August 1950 to 20 August 1951 - on staff of Directorate of Air Intelligence, AFHQ - Strategic Intelligence Officer for Africa, Middle East and South-East Asia Section and Photo Interpretation Staff Officer). During this period he was detached to Rivers, Winnipeg and Fort Churchill, 6-22 February 1951 to be in charge of Photo Interpretation Unit for Exercise SUN DOG II. Attended Joint Services Indoctrination Course (Guided Missile), Clinton, Ontario, 1951 (two weeks). In this period one might note a letter written 8 March 1951 by Brigadier R.E.A. Morton (General Officer Commanding, Prairie Command, Winnipeh, to Group Captain M.G. Doyle, Commanding Officer, Station Rockcliffe: // I would greatly appreciate if you would commend, on my behalf, Squadron Leader A.J. Simpson and the staff at the Photographic Section for their willingness and cooperation in connection with their duties on Exercise Sun Dog II. // As the photographs which were taken of the enemy location on the barrens proved, a well camouflaged position is difficult to locate. It was necessary to interpret a great number of photographs which involved working, in many instances, around the clock. In spite of this, at all times, Squadron Leader Simpson and his staff not only carried out their duties in a commendable way, but were most cooperative and diligent and their manner throughout caused favourable comments on the part of all Army Officers whom they either worked for or with. // August 1951 to May 1955 - No.408 Squadron, Rockcliffe as Photo Interpreter, Intelligence Officer, Security Officer and Station Public Relations Officer, remaining there until May 1955. As of 26 October 1951, he was attached to the United Nations Photo Interpretation Unit in Korea for ten weeks; his visit to the Far East was familiarize himself with both strategic and tactical phases of air operations. With the 67th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron, based in Korea itself (26 October to 7 December) he flew as Observer in at least one night photographic sortie over North Korea and spent three days at the front with the Canadian Brigade (Commonwealth Division). Much of his other time was spent studying American reconnaissance and photo interpretation methods with the Far East Air Forces Headquarters in Tokyo and three days at Strategic 548th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron at Yokoda Air Force Base, Japan. Detached again to SUN DOG III at Goose Bay and Halifax, 4-27 February 1952 in charge of Air Photo Interpretation Section in exercise involving Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence Research Board. Attended RCAF Current Affairs Course as Discussion Leader, Air Transport Headquarters, Trenton, 10-15 March 1952. // 12 December 1955 to 30 July 1958 - RCAF Station Senneterre, 12 December 1955 to 30 July 1958, variously serving as Chief Operations Officer and Unit Public Relations Officer plus short periods as Acting Commanding Officer when responsible for 300 RCAF personnel and 110 civilians. As Chief Operations Officer he was responsible for training, scheduling and discipline of 130 officers and other ranks engaged in radar surveillance, aircraft identification and control of fighter aircraft. Also Member, RCAF Central Examination Board. // 31 July 1958 to 3 October 1961 - Chief Standards Officer for Montreal NORAD Sector Headquarters, Lac St. Denis; responsible as “efficiency expert” for Sector Headquarters and its four ACW Squadrons; also continuing as member of RCAF Central Examination Board. // 4 October 1961 to April 1963 - Chief Operations Officer and Deputy Commanding Officer, No.13 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, St. Sylvestre, Quebec, 4 October 1961 (also trouble shooting other units; won unit Outstanding citation in 1962. // Aircraft Flown: Listing his aircraft types as of 1948 he had the following: Tiger Moth (101 hours 30 minutes), Hawker Hart (51.50), Hawker Audax (22.00), Hawker Fury (24.40), Lysander I, II, III and IIIA (278.00), Magister (56.00), Hornet Moth (1.15), Proctor (1.50), Moth Minor (6.50), Hurricane I and IID (54.35, which seems rather low), Gladiator (ten minutes), Oxford (134.00), Harvard (4.50), Auster V (1.25), Anson (57.45), Mosquito III and VI (48.05), Blenheim I (1.55). // Further Note: The December 1978 issue of Airforce carried an article by Simpson, “The Tank Busters, about his experiences in No.6 Squadron: // In the spring of 1942 in Egypt, Wing Commander Dru-Drury arrived from England to teach us in No.6 Squadron how to fly the Hurricane 2D. It was armed with two .303 machine guns and a pair of 40-mm Vickers “S” guns. These guns wdere slung partly exposed under the wings with a streamlined fairing to prevent interference with the airflow. The 40-mm shells could penetrate the 20-mm armouir plating of a German Mark III tank, and the projecvtive would weld itself into metal on the far side. // W/C Roger Cave-Porteous commanded the squadron. His army cousin, Major Patrick Porteous, won the Victoria Cross and Roger had been made a Member of the Distinguished Service Order by the time he left 6 Squadron. I was honoured to be best man at his wedding in England in 1944. He was killed in a flying accident in Germany eleven years later. // We didn’t have long to train, and not many aircraft. But we set up two rails from a railroad, painted a life-sized tank on a piece of canvas, and secured it to the two vertical rails. That was our target practice. // Then we listened to lectures on our new aircraft and its weapons system; tanks and their vital spots (tracks, bogey wheels, drive wheels, engine, fuel tanks, crew); the tactics tank formations used, and the tactics we should use. // Our skill level was high; we had an average of more than 70 percent hits, firing six to ten shots per attack, not counting the machine guns. // We went to a sand strip known as Gambut East in Libya. On June 6th the C.O. and two others each got one enemy vehicle, but Roger’s wing was damaged by the German 88s which were mounted on trucks on either flank of the tank V-formations. Then I went out with Tommy Morrison-Bell and Mike Bealy. Squadron Leader Billy Drake of 33 Squadron [?] and his “flying sharks” flew top cover to us. // Our targets were in the area of Bir Hacheim, where the Free French under General Koenig were surrounded. Our mission was to relieve the pressure on them from tanks, which were lobbing shells from a few thousand yards away. A few days later these gallant Foreign Legionaires made a deperate break for it by night and escaped. // As we neared the target, we dove to pick up speed and attacked level from about 1,000 yards at ten feet off the deck. (Later that autumn some of the boys took off their tail wheels by hitting tank turrets. One bent his propeller on a tank.) // I remember the bullet that hit me. I saw it coming, the way you see a snowflake coming at your windshield. Flak normally breaks away from an aircraft like snowflakes, too, as I had seen in France and Belgium in 1940 from a Lysander, and as I saw it over North Korea in 1951 from an RB-25. But this one kept coming. An explosive bullet, it detonated as it entered the hull of the aircraft by my left hand. It burst a few inches in front of my chest. My goggles were cracked and my right arm still has the blue marks after 35 years. I picked pieces out of my chest for weeks afterwards. Some of them went through my right side and had to be extracted from my back, and X-Rays still show pieces. I have a “tented diaphram” from adhesions. // I made it back to no-man’s land and baled out at 500 feet. A British army ambulance ultimately picked me up and took me to a Field Dressing Station at El Adam and on to Tobruk. They put me on an aircraft with other horizontal casualties and flew us out to Egypt five days later, just before the Germans captured the town with 25,00 South Africans in it. [Transcriber’s note: This should be checked against officials histories to determine towns and captures.] // One of his postwar adventures was described in an article, “Lucky”, Airforce Magazine, January-February-March 1992: // One night in December 1954 I was a passenger in an RCAF North Star aircraft en route from Reykjavik, Iceland to Goose Bay, Labrador. I was returning to Ottawa from some NATO exercise in France. // This was not the aircraft on which I had been scheduled to fly. Two days earlier in London I had gone to the airport to board another plane which was to return via the Azores. When I got to the airport I discovered that one of my bags was missing. Not knowing whether it had been left at the Regent Palce Hotel where we were picked up by the bus, or at my friend Ronald Atkin’s flat where I had stayed, I went back into London to retrieve it. “Too bad”, I thought. I had been through the Azores in a convoy in 1941, but had never set foot there. // After we left Iceland the weather was adverse. There was a bank of cloud nearly two miles deep above us, and the North Atlantic Ocean was less than 2,000 feet below us. Please make your own metric conversions. // I had nothing to do, but I saw a radio headset on the seat beside me so I put it on and listened. The pilot and co-pilot were in conversation. The gist of it was that it was raining; the rain was freezing on the wings, tail and other surfaces, and the de-icers were unable to handle it. // The implications, I reasoned, were that this was making the aircraft heavy and sluggish; it was altering the contours of the wings and reducing their aerodynamic efficiency. There was also danger that the control surfaces would become inoperative from ice impeding their movement. // It looked as though our life expectancy was perhaps less than half an hour unless something very soon turned in out favour. // A Squadron Leader pilot was sleeping in the seat opposite me. I did not know him but someone had mentioned to me that his name was Gordon Webb and that he had written the Pilot’s Notes for the North Star aircraft. // Years later I learned that he had flown 23 sorties with No.6 Group RCAF in Bomber Command, then another 47 as a Pathfinder. He flew Halifaxes and Lancasters. He was awarded the DFC and Bar. On the 17 pilots who graduated on his course and who got to fly on operations, he was the only survivor. // He had also flown on the Korean Airlift while on exchange to the USAF Military Air Transport Service, 1950-53. Later (1965-68) he flew with MATS again and is one of the few - the only foreigner - to wear the USAF diamond award for exemplary flying. // He also holds the record for the shortest flying time from Vancouver to Halifax, achieved in RCAF North Star 17512 on January 15th, 1950. The eight hours and 25 minutes still stands as a record in 1991. // It looked as though I was destined to be the catalyst to bring together the problem and its best chance of a solution. I woke him and handing him the headset, I said, “I think you had better listen to this.” He put on the headset and after about 15 seconds proceeded up forward to where the pilots sat. (You should never leave home without an expert on board). // “What’s happening ?” he asked. Then he said, “We’d better climb up out of this while we still can.” // “But it would require full power,” the pilot objected, “and we might ruin the engines.” // “Four good engines are going to be very little comfort to us at the bottom of the ocean”, said Webb, and he quickly convinced the pilot that all four throttles must be fully advanced without delay. // We ultimately came into the clear at about 9,000 feet, having shed many chunks of ice in the meantime. Some of them clunked loudly as they smashed against the fuselage. It sounded as though we were being hit by flak. And so we arrived at Goose Bay. // Long afterwards I met Gordon Webb at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario. I asked him a question that had made me wonder. “How much longer could I have delayed bringing that matter to your attention ?” // “About a minute,” he said; “Two at the most. We were just about on the point of stalling.” // We were well rewarded for the job we did in saving the aircraft, crew and about 66 passengers from a cold, wet, salty end that night. No medals. No commendations. Better than that. // Our personal benefit has been 35 years so far of added life span, for whatever that is worth. // Notes by Wing Commander Gordon W. Webb, DFC, CD: // I remember well that flight. At the time I was Command Check Pilot for RCAF Air Transport Command; I was returning from England where I had been giving instrument and routine checks to the pilots flying out of Langar. // I had accompanied the crew during the pre-flight planning. At the weather briefing we were advised that an extensive band of frontal weather lay across out intended route, and that icing had been reported in it. This was cause for only mild concern. It was quite normal to encounter some such conditions over the North Atlantic during winter months, and the North Star could withstand a considerable load of ice. // The situation in which we found ourselves, however, was by no means a case of normal aircraft icing. We had flown into an area of severe ice and the aircraft had picked up an alarming load in an equally alarming short time. // When Allan alerted me I went forward to the cockpit. It was obvious that the situation was very serious. The aircraft was not holding altitude and was difficult to control. The Captain had decided that the solution lay in letting the aircraft descend, if necessary to sea level where he assumed we might find warmer air. This was not a good assumption, under the circumstances, as many a North Atlantic sailor will attest. Numerous ships, in otherwise good condition, have been lost because the ice accretion on the superstructure rendered them too heavy to stay afloat. // I suggested strongly and unequivocally that we should go to maximum power and stay there in a fight for altitude, giving up any hope of finding warner air below. It is never an easy decision for a pilot knowingly to over-tax his engines. Pilots are aware of the consequences of engine abuse. It goes against everything they have been taught. Their instincts rebel at power settings which they know could cause damage to the very heart of the aircraft. It is well known that over-stressing an engine comed back to haunt you sooner rather than later. // The motors groaned their disapproval, but the four great Merlins hung in there. After some fine flying by the pilot we got ourselves out of a very dangerous situation. // Allan Simpson suggests one should never leave home without an expert on board. I can only add that it also helps to have someone listening on the intercom. // RCAF Press Release No. 8194 dated 9 January 1945 from: George Sinclair reads: // WITH RCAF IN BRITAIN: - They were thinking of chaps like Flight Lieutenant Alan Simpson when the R.C.A.F. made up a recruiting poster called “Be A World Traveller At 21”. Since he last saw Canada, Simpson has been in 24 difference countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. Wearing the DFC, F/L Simpson is at an RCAF repatriation depot on his way home to Calgary and Delia, Alberta after six years overseas. // He joined the RAF in 1938 and was flying Lysanders from a French base when the Germans broke through in 1940. “There’s nothing worth telling”, he remarks. But then he goes on to tell of sleeping on the ground beside his machine on his last night in France, with the front line running across his airfield. “We had stayed behind to act as a stop-gap while another squadron evacuated,” he said. “The airfield was being defended by the Pioneer Corps. Next morning, I took off in a machine with one magneto useless, and got it back to England,” That was one extra aircraft for England, because a faulty magneto makes it dangerous to fly and few pilots would have attempted to save the aircraft from the Germans. “We didn’t have any real trouble,” Simpson says. “We were chased by some 109’s but we saw them in time. Sometimes the enemy flak was pretty hot. They got two out of three of us on one flight.” // Action shifted to Africa after the evacuation of France, and Simpson went with it. In 1942, after a period of instruction in Egypt and Palestine, he was serving as a flight commander with a squadron of Hurricane tank busters, wrecking Rommel’s armour. In a reckless attack on a concentration of German equipment at Bir Hacheim, Simpson’s Hurricane was badly hit and a bullet went through his lung. “I turned for home but knew I’d have to bail out,” he said. Repeatedly, he tried to get out of the machine, but weakened by his wound, be couldn’t fight the slipstream which held him in. “I was down to 500 feet when I finally managed to get out of the cockpit. I pulled the ripcord while standing on the wing of the machine holding on to the side of the cockpit,” he related. // After a long period in hospital Simpson returned to direct the training of RAF and SAAF tank-busters on his squadron. Later, he went to Southern Rhodesia as an instructor, returning to England last spring to fly Mosquitoes. F/L Simpson transferred to the RCAF last December. On his way home after six years, he says he feels like a tourist about to visit a strange country. “I’m more familiar with London than Calgary,” he remarked. For three years before going to England, Simpson served with Lord Strathcona’s Horse in Calgary, Alberta.