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HALCROW, Alexander Foch Flight Lieutenant, No.411 Squadron, J6795 Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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HALCROW, F/L Alexander Foch (J6795) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.411 Squadron - Award effective 8 December 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 293/45 dated 16 February 1945. Born in Transcona, Manitoba, 4 November 1918 (birth date on MI.9 form); educated in British Columbia; home in Penticton, British Columbia (mine surveyor and piper with Gordon Highlanders militia). Enlisted in Vancouver, 18 December 1940 and posted to No.2 Manning Depot. To No.37 SFTS (guard), 26 January 1941; to No.2 ITS, 16 March 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 20 April 1941 when posted to No.8 EFTS; graduated 8 June 1941 when posted to No.15 SFTS; graduated and commissioned, 20 August 1941. Upon receiving wings he was posted to Central Flying School, Trenton for instructors course (13 September to 2 December 1941); at No.31 EFTS, De Winton, 3 December 1941 to 12 October 1942 (promoted Flying Officer, 20 August 1942); at CTS, Rockcliffe, 13 October to 30 November 1942; at \"Y\" Depot, Halifax, 1-29 December 1942; arrived in Britain, 14 January 1943; to No.3 Personnel Reception Depot, Bournemouth, 15 January 1943; at No.17 (P) Advanced Flying Unit, 16 February to 22 March 1943; at No.52 OTU, 22 March to 1 June 1943 (although MI.9 report says he was at No.57 OTU, Aston Down, without giving dates); with No.401 Squadron, 1 June 1943 to 5 August 1944 (promoted Flight Lieutenant, 20 August 1943); with No.411 Squadron, 5-18 August 1944 (missing; he was shot down by flak, baled out and was captured; enemy permitted him to return to Allied lines to report their surrender on the 21st; officially reported safe on 22 August 1944); to Repatriation Depot, 13 September 1944; to Canada, 23 November 1944; returned to Britain, 5 December 1944; back to Canada, 5 January 1945 and assigned to Western Air Command; at Station Patricia Bay, 20 January to 18 May 1945; \"Y\" Depot, Moncton, 19-27 May 1945; arrived in Britain by sea, 12 June 1945; repatriated to Canada, 25 November 1945; released 28 November 1945. Service career included 152 operational sorties (225 operational hours). On 29 May 1944 he burst a tyre on touchdown; he became airborne again, dropped his belly tank and made a good belly landing. Aerial victories as follows: 15 March 1944, one FW.190 destroyed, Cambrai; 7 June 1944, one Ju.88 probably destroyed; 28 June 1944, one FW.190 destroyed south of Caen; 20 July 1944, one FW.190 destroyed, Conde sur Noireau; 27 July 1944, one Bf.109 destroyed southeast of Caen. In addition he destroyed about 100 enemy vehicles nd three locomotives. Died in Vancouver, 15 April 1990 as per Airforce Magazine of July-August-September 1990 and Legion Magazine of July/August 1990. Photo PL-19370 shows him in front of Spitfire. Flight Lieutenant Halcrow is a keen and resolute fighter. He has led his flight and, on occasions the squadron, in many successful attacks on a variety of targets. He has displayed praiseworthy skill and determination throughout. In air fighting, Flight Lieutenant Halcrow has destroyed four enemy aircraft. Public Record Office WO 208/338 has MI.9 report of his being shot down and subsequent escape: I took off from B.18 (T.8869 250,000, Sheet 3a and b) on 18 August 1944 at 1330 hours in a Spitfire Mark IXB to carry out an armed recce to the south of Vimoutiers (Q 4964 Sheet 7, 250,000). On the roads going south from Vimoutiers I attacked the convoy on the west road on a corner round (Q 4454). I came down from 3,000 feet to tree top height and gave them a four second burst of cannon and machine gun. I flew on for a bit “on the deck”, climbed to around 1,000 feet and made another low level attack in the same direction north-south. It was on the second attack I was hit by some 20-mm shells - my propellor - both glycol and oil lines were hit - the engine about leaped out of its mountings. I called up my Squadron Leader, telling him I was returning to base. I found this to be quite impossible - the temperature was rising rapidly and there was a great danger of fire - so from 800 feet I baled out. Just before I landed (U 3525) I noticed someone running to where I was going to land. My first impression was that he was a civilian. No sooner had I landed I released my harness and called out “Anglais”. That was fatal, the supposed civilian was German with a rifle. He covered me. Another German running out with a machine gun came and joined him. They signalled me to walk towards a hedge where an officer and 20 men were standing. They started to take off my Mae West and help themselves to the chocolate, cigarettes and compass in the escape box; they handed the money back to me. While they were disrobing and robbing me one of them asked in English, “Have you been shooting up Red Cross wagons ?” I said No. They motioned me to sit down. They then went into a “huddle” and started to share out their booty. The English speaking German asked me my rank. I said Captain; after a few minutes consultation with his officer he told me I would have to go to the Kommandant. Escorted by two Privates I was taken into his office. He asked me my rank and whether I was RAF. I nodded. Presumably he told my escort to take me to a place outside some 30 yards away. Here I found five Americans, a Pole and a Russian. I asked them what type of fellows the guards were; they said they were mixed; they included Roumanians, Greeks, Italians, Poles and Russians. I reckoned that a little morale breaking was indicated. We got the Russian and the Pole working on them, and with my limited French I explained to them that the Luftwaffe was finished and that they were completely surrounded. Out came to “Safe Conduct” passes which had been dropped by the RAF - they each had one in their possession. One of the Italians came up to me and said, “Tomorrow, I your prisoner”. Unfortunately the story must have got out because a pure (?) type German was added to our guards. Later during the evening around 2030 hours the Kommandant sent for my papers. I handed the messenger my 1250-R - it was returned shortly afterwards. Along with seven cows, we slept the night in the stables. The next day (19 August) for breakfast we were given a piece of bread each. About 0900 hours the Kommandant came to tell us that there was no more food to be had, only a three-pound bag of granulated sugar which he left for us. Guards were changing hourly; they always put a pure (?) German in charge of the guards. That afternoon - intermittent shelling went on for about two hours - nothing nearer than a quarter mile of us. We passed the night in the stable. About 0200 hours we were woken up - we were on the move. The Germans wore their camouflage smocks. As I approached the stable door both my arms were grapped and in this manner I was marched to a truck hidden under some trees. Four of us (a Russian, two Americans and myself) were put in one truck, and a Pole and three Americans in the other. There were 20 guards to each truck. For about two hours we drove through congested roads and without lights. We passed a lot of horse-drawn artillery on the way. The convoy eventually stopped about four kilometres short of Tournay sur Dives (U 3226). The reason for this was that the convoy was being shelled around Tournay sur Dives. We were taken across fields, with about six or seven thousand infantry men to join up with the convoy south of the town. British shelling was amazingly accurate, piles of destroyed vehicles - dead horses and Germans littered the area - approximately at U 3124 British ranks appeared (53 Division, I believe) from out of the woods. Throwing their arms away the Germans went “hell for leather” towards Tournay sur Dives. I followed suit, close by was one of the guards. In the mad melee only one American and myself kept together. Around U 3125 about 40 Germans and ourselves took shelter in a basemen of a house. We were joined shortly by about twelve Boschs. Next morning around 0700 hours (20 August) we went into the adjoining house which had been set up as a First Aid Post. The American, Private Palango and myself were welcomed by the two German doctors and four orderlies with open arms. They gave us food, drink, tobacco and cigarette papers to roll our own cigarettes. One of the orderlies who spoke a bit of English impressed upon me that when we were rescued to explain to the troops how well we had been treated and not to leave them behind. During the after around 1800 hours, Thunderbolts dive-bombed the place. The Germans were really shaken by these attacks. About 0700 hours [21 August] an SS type hobbled in; he had been hit by a shall in the foot - Ludovie was his name, 18 years old, had already been in the army a year. Despite his wound he was tough and arrogant. Openly they discussed surrendering. Little by little the SS boy gave way. I told him he would be well looked after in a hospital; if he insisted on staying on gangrene would set in and he would lose the leg. Finally he was won over. I and one other German, a stretcher bearer, began to walk down the road to find our lines - we ran into the Cure. He showed us where the lines were. We walked down the road carrying a large Red Cross flag between us. I carried a note from one of the Germans. It stated that many Germans in the village wanted to surrender. I met Major Petersen of the Glengarry Highlanders (Canadian) and gave him the note. He said he could not spare any men to go and fethch them. Already he had 700 surrendered to him including two Generals. From here I went to Battalion Headquarters and through to Creully. Transcriber’s Note: “Major Petersen” is most likely Major John Frederick Peterson (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders), awarded the DSO 17 March 1945.