PLUMER, Benjamin Erwin Flight Lieutenant, No.410 Squadron, J10802 Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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PLUMER, F/L Benjamin Erwin (J10802) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.410 Squadron - Award effective 15 December 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 293/45 dated 16 February 1945. Born 3 November 1917, Bassano, Alberta. Educated there, 1924-1935. Took two years engineering, Queen's University (1937-39) before returning to briefly to farming; then employed as Mill and Crusher Helper, Preston East Dome Mines, South Porcupine (December 1939 to March 1941). Enlisted in Calgary, 8 March 1941 and posted to No.2 Manning Depot. To No.2 ITS, 20 August 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 24 September 1941 when posted to No.19 EFTS; graduated 21 November 1941 when posted to No.11 SFTS ; graduated and commissioned, 27 March 1942. Posted to "Y" Depot, 29 March 1942; reposted to Central Flying School, Trenton, 25 April 1942. Served at No.5 BGS, 5 June 1942 to 10 September 1943 when posted to “Y” Depot (promoted Flying Officer, 1 October 1942 and Flight Lieutenant, 15 May 1943). Arrived in UK 19 September 1943. Further trained at No.12 (Pilots) AFU, 10 October 1943 to 29 February 1944, taking a course at No.1536 Beam Approach Training Flight, 8-14 February 1944. Further trained at No.51 OTU, 1 March to 11 April 1944 and No.54 OTU, 11 April to 21 June 1944 . To No.410 Squadron, 21 June 1944 to 2 April 1945 with which he scored four kills as follows: 2/3 August 1944, one Ju.188 destroyed (navigator F/O Evans); 6/7 October 1944, one Bf.110 destroyed, Venlo (navigator F/O Hargrove); 3/4 February 1945, one He.219 destroyed, Garzweiler (navigator F/O E.H. Collis); 26/26 March 1945, one Bf.110 destroyed, Orsov (navigator F/L Bradford). Served with No.409 Squadron 2 April to 1 July 1945 (one kill - 24/25 April 1945, one FW.190 destroyed on ground, Wittstock with P/O Beynon as navigator). Repatriated 5 September 1945, released 18 October 1945. In the 1950s he served as Chairman, Newell County School Committee. Oversaw construction of most of the county schools and the Bassano Hospital. Also served on Board of Directors, Eastern Irrigation District (two terms). Founding Director of Tirol Dehydraters, Limited. PL-41953 (ex UK-18868 dated 16 February 1945) taken after his recent third victory; caption says “It was the 50th kill for the Continent-based Cougars since D Day, keeping them in the lead as top-scoring Allied night fighter unit.” Died in Bassano, Alberta, 19 June 1992. Cited with F/L William W. Hargrove (RCAF observer, awarded DFC), which see above for citation. Photo PL-40403 (ex UK-17550 dated 16 December 1944) is captioned as follows: “F/L Ben Plumer, DFC, of Bassano, Alberta, tries his hand at bull-dogging a calf in a field in France while the rest of the herd takes in the show. Plumer pilots an RCAF Cougar squadron Mosquito. He won the DFC when he bagged his second German plane without firing a shot, chasing it down into it crashed to earth. He was a farmer in Alberta before he enlisted in the RCAF.” // Notes: Accident, 30 October 1942, Norseman 2468, with passengers S/L I.M. Cleghorn (C4240), F/L Paterson (C9104) and F/O R.W.F. Spencer (C6304). No injuries. Aircraft nosed over after landing at Yorkton - pilot used brakes incorrectly. // Application for Operational Wing dated 27 June 1945 stated he had flown 66 sorties (181 hours ten minutes), 20 June 1944 to 8 May 1945. // On Repatriation Form dated 23 August 1945 he stated he had flown 66 sorties (191 hours ten minutes), the last on 2 May 1945; also 333 hours 50 minutes non-operational. Types flown were Beaufighter II, VI and XIV (128.30) and Mosquito (396.30). // Training: Interviewed in Calgary, 9 January 1941 by F/L G.A. Hodgetts - “Good physique, clear eye, not nervous. Keen to get in, prefers Pilot but very willing to do whatever job best suited for. Good in Math.” // Attended No,2 ITS, 20 August to 20 September 1941. Courses in Mathematics (99/100), Armament. practical and oral (73/100), Signals (92/150), Link (70/100), Hygiene and Sanitation (32/40), Drill (90/100) and Law and Discipline (49/60). Placed eleventh in a class of 60. “This airman is inclined to be quiet and slow of speech. Has a good sense of responsibility. Has been a flight senior and has done good work assisting other airmen in Maths. Seems to have definite leadership qualities and recommended for commission.” // Attended No.19 EFTS, 26 September to 21 November 1941. Tiger Moth aircraft - 29.45 dual, 40.20 solo. Was ten hours on instruments. Logged 12.30 in Link. “Average, apt to be overconfident. No bad flying habiits, keen. Instrument flying average. Deportment and punctuality good.” (J.M. McFee, Chief Flying Instructor). Ground courses in Airmanship (176/200), Airframes (90/100), Aero Engines (63/100), Signals, practical (100/100), Theory of Flight (79/100), Air Navigation (190/200), Armament, oral (187/200), and graded 176/200 in Qualities as an Officer. Placed eighth in a class of 58. “This young man has a first class student record from here and was awarded ‘The most promising pupil pilot award’ on leaving. We found him a most accomplished young man of high spirits and attractive personality. Deportment generally satisfactory and always correct.” (Bjirn Stefansson, Chief Ground Instructor). // Attended No.11 SFTS, 8 December 1941 to 27 March 1942, Crane aircraft - 50.45 day dual, 65.55 day solo, 5.05 night dual, 11.30 night solo. Was 23 hours on instruments. Logged 25.15 in Link. “A very accurate, smooth instrument pilot, and above average, clear hood.” (F/L J.D. Somerville). Ground courses in Airmanship and Maintenance (138/200), Armament, written (80/100), Armament, practical (78/100), Navigation (105/150), Meteorology (38/50), Signals, written (43/50100) and Signals, practical (95/100). Placed 12th in a class of 67. “Intelligent, conscientious and capable. Should do well.” (S/L W.R. Irwin, Chief Instructor). // Assessments: At No.19 EFTS he had been judged a most promising pupil, and he was also highly rated at No.11 SFTS. However, at Central Flying School he resented the course, slept in at least once and did not learn patter - he was judged to be deliberately refusing to learn it. On 28 May 1942, W/C F.C. Carling-Kelly (Officer Commanding, CFS), wrote, “It is a very necessary policy of Central Flying School to make examples of pilots who deliberately fail a course so as to be eligible for an overseas posting; therefore it is recommended that this officer be posted to a Bombing and Gunnery School for a considerable length of time.” This was concurred in by No.1 Training Command, which noted on 30 May 1942 that he should be “posted to a Bombing and Gunnery School as a staff pilot for a period of at least six months.” // “A very able pilot. He has demonstrated ability to handle a flight as Flight Commander.” (S/L L.A.. Harling, No.5 BGS, 16 September 1942). // “Sound and reliable pilot who is at present handling the Drogue Flight in a capable manner. Is keen, has a good sense of responsibility and will develop into a sound officer.” (S/L A.E. Thompson, No.5 BGS, 9 December 1942). // “Young in point of view of service experience but well above average as a prospect for promotion. Is a very good pilot and an excellent Flight Commander. Is keen to work and fly. Has considerable ability in handling men, yet retains his popularity with them. Promotion to Acting Flight Lieutenant would assist him in performance of his duties and increase his value to the RCAF. (S/L W.B. Miller, No.5 BGS, 6 April 1943). // “Excellent operational material. A skilful pilot who has done a good job on this Station, Very keen for overseas duty, and will be a valuable man on operations.” (S/L W.B. Miller, No.5 BGS, 25 August 1943, on posting to “Y” Depot). // RCAF Press Release 5472 dated 22 February 1945 reads as follows: // With an RCAF Night Fighter Squadron on the Continent - Flight Lieutenant Ben Plumer, DFC, of Bassano, Alberta, carved an important niche in the history of the RCAF Cougar (City of Saint John) Squadron when he downed the 15th enemy plane to be destroyed by them since the invasion, on an early night patrol recently. // It was a Heinkel 219, one of the latest types to be used by the Germans as a night fighter, and first one to be shot down by Canadian night fighters. // Plumer sneaked up on the enemy at over 25,000 feet, where it was apparently searching for stragglers from an Allied bomber raid against Germany. // “He was between Venlo and Aachen, just circling around. I guess he was too late for the bombers, but he was still looking,” Plumer said. “There was no moon, but it was a beautifully starlit night, and we identified him easily as a He.219 as we came in from below him. We dropped back and fired from dead astern. There was a big explosion in the fuselage and he went off in a steep dive. He hit the deck and blew up.” // The patrol which netted the Mosquito skipper his third kill was given to him when the pilot scheduled for it went sick. Plumer flew with the other pilot’s navigator, Flight Lieutenant E.H. Collis of Birmingham, England. // Checking the Mosquito’s four cannons after the combat, squadron armourers reported that only 27 shells had been expended in knocking out the Hun night fighter. This total was one less than Plumer used on his first victim, a Ju.88. // His second kill, for which he was awarded the DFC, was scored without a shot being fired, when the 28-year old pilot chased a Me.110 into the ground while flying his disabled Mosquito on one motor. // The Cougar Squadron is the leading Allied night fighter unit in invasion scoring, shading the second-place RCAF Nighthawk squadron by two planes destroyed.