GEMMEL, John Leslie Flying Officer, No.78 Squadron, J19036 Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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GEMMEL, F/O John Leslie (J19036) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.78 Squadron - Award effective 18 October 1945 as per London Gazette dated 26 October 1945 and AFRO 133/46 dated 8 February 1946. Born in Selkirk, Manitoba, 28 July 1920. Educated in Selkirk, Lakefield College and Kelvin High School (Winnipeg, graduating 1939). Trained at No.2 ITS (graduated 14 September 1941), No.3 AOS (graduated 20 December 1941), No.2 BGS (graduated 31 January 1942), and No.1 ANS (graduated 5 March 1942). Flew two tours. Released from the RCAF, 9 June 1945, settling in Winnipeg. Postwar he articled with Miller MacDonald in Winnipeg, receiving his Chartered Accountants degree in 1952. Worked in the oil industry in Calgary from 1952 to 1956, then from 1969 to 1985. He worked in Vancouver from 1956 to 1969, retiring from Wintershall Canada in 1985. Died Vancouver, 20 February 2006. No citation other than "completed...numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty." Public Records Office Air 2/9112 has recommendation dated 5 May 1945 when he had flown 47 sorties. Total hours not stated; first tour had been 26 sorties (no hours given); second tour had been 21 sorties (123 hours 55 minutes). The sortie list below is for the second tour only: // 7 October 1944 - Cleve (4.29) // 23 October 1944 - Essen (5.33) // 29 October 1944 - Westkapelle (2.44) // 30 October 1944 - Cologne (6.07) // 31 October 1944 - Cologne (4.51) // 4 November 1944 - Bochum (5.00) // 16 November 1944 - Julich (4.21) // 21 November 1944 - Sterkrade (5.56) // 6 December 1944 - Osnabruck (6.16) // 18 December 1944 - Duisburg (5.50) // 26 December 1944 - St.Vith (5.56) // 29 December 1944 - Coblenz (2.25, DNCO, hydraulics unserviceable) // 2 January 1945 - Ludwigshaven (6.29) // 28 January 1945 - Stuttgart (7.08) // 2 February 1945 - Wanne Eickel (5.23) // 7 February 1945 - Goch (5.35) // 13 February 1945 - Bohlen (8.15) // 14 February 1945 - Chemnitz (7.13) // 17 February 1945 - Wesel (5.09) // 21 February 1945 - Worms (6.31) // 23 February 1945 - Essen (4.46) // 5 March 1945 - Chemnitz (8.00) // This officer has now completed his second operational tour consisting of 21 sorties, involving a total of 123 hours. His first tour consisted of 26 sorties. // His navigation has been of a very high order, even under the utmost difficulties, and his coolness and skill have been an example to other Navigators. He has taken part in attacks against some of the most heavily defended targets in Germany and has never failed to show a fine offensive spirit. // For his good work throughout two tours of operations, and his devotion to duty, this officer is most strongly recommended for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. // RCAF Press Release No.7804 dated 11 December 1944 from “Macpherson”, transcribed by Huguette Mondor Oates, reads: // // WITH CANADIANS FLYING IN THE RAF.: -- J.L. Gemmel of Winnipeg (481 Wardlaw Street), was clerk accountant with The Northern Trust Co., Ltd., in his home town before he joined the RCAF. in March, 1941. Today, as F/O Gemmel, he is an air navigator with experience over more than half the world. // Gemmel came overseas in March, 1942, completed his operational training and was assigned to a RAF Wellington bomber squadron. // His first trip of the tour was to Bremen in September, 1942, and is probably the most hazardous he has undertaken and one after which he is lucky to be alive. Just after bombing, the “Wimpy” was attacked by a Me.109, the first burst of fire from the enemy splitting the petrol cocks and cutting the oil lines of the bomber. Hydraulics were knocked out and the undercarriage fell down. // But the aircraft responded to the urge of the skipper and headed back for England. Over the channel, the port engine cut out and there was trouble with the remaining engine in the starboard wing. Just over the English coast, the starboard engine gave up the unequal struggle and quit, but the pilot managed to crash land the aircraft in a plowed field without injury to a single member of the crew. // Gemmel completed one more bombing mission and was then posted to India, another Wellington squadron assigned to coastal patrol and the strafing of enemy shipping in the Bay of Bengal. The “Wimpy” carried torpedoes and Gemmel completed a total of 120 operational flying hours, was given leave and returned to England for his second tour of operations, this time with a Halifax squadron.