Part II: Pi­lot Of­fi­cer Fred­er­ick James Piper

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - OPINION - RICHARD DOW­SON AM­A­TEUR HIS­TO­RIAN & RE­SEARCHER

Fred­er­ick James Piper was born in 1920, the son of Archie and Elizabeth Piper. Archie came to Canada from Scot­land and set­tled in Pincher Creek, Al­berta at the same time as the fa­mous Hal­ton fam­ily. Mathew Hal­ton went on to be­come the most fa­mous Canadian news­pa­per and CBC Reporter of the Se­cond World War.

Fred’s mother moved to Pincher Creek about the same time as Archie. She was from Lon­don, Eng­land. The cou­ple met in Canada and mar­ried. Archie fought in the First World War and was a strong pa­triot. Af­ter the war, he bought a black­smith shop in Tux­ford, Saskatchewan and they set­tled there. The busi­ness was suc­cess­ful. Archie added the sale of fuel and farm im­ple­ments to the busi­ness.

Young Fred was a go-get­ter. He at­tended the Tech­ni­cal High School (Pea­cock) in Moose Jaw, learned weld­ing and used the skill in the fam­ily busi­ness. He was bright, ca­pa­ble and skilled. When he joined the RCAF and at­tended Ini­tial Train­ing School he was se­lected for pi­lot train­ing; com­pleted the train­ing and got his wings as a pi­lot.

Fred­er­ick was even­tu­ally as­signed as a Pi­lot to RCAF Squadron 434 (Bluenose Squadron), Crew #6. His Wire­less Air Gun­ner was a Moose Jaw lad, Flight Sgt. Ge­orge Con­nor. The two prob­a­bly didn’t know each other be­fore en­list­ing be­cause of their age dif­fer­ence. Con­nor was three years younger.

Ge­orge Ron­ald Con­nor (R114897) was the son of Ward and An­nie Con­nor. His dad worked in Moose Jaw as an elec­tri­cian. Be­fore the war he worked as a car­pen­ter at Prairie Air­ways. Ge­orge en­listed in 1941.

The men were part of the huge bomb­ing raid on the Nazi Rocket Pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity at Peen­e­mu­nde. It was a con­tro­ver­sial bomb­ing op­er­a­tion. The head of Bomber Com­mand, Sir Arthur Har­ris, was not in favour of the op­er­a­tion be­cause the losses would be too high and the abil­ity of the bombs to dam­age the tar­get were low.

Like so much — the need to show the Al­lied pub­lic the fa­cil­ity had been at­tacked, was the main rea­son for the op­er­a­tion. Af­ter the raid, rocket pro­duc­tion was put back about four weeks. Nine­teen men from Saskatchewan died on the raid — three from Moose Jaw and district. They in­cluded Fred, Ge­orge and for­mer Cen­tral stu­dent, Nav­i­ga­tor F/O Don H. Orr, son of Dr. John Orr, the an­ti­tu­ber­cu­lo­sis physi­cian with the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment.

Fi­nal flight of P/O Piper and Sgt. Con­nor and Hal­i­fax Bomber IP-T

Fred (his pro­mo­tion to Pi­lot Of­fi­cer came af­ter his death), with 434 Squadron, and his crew de­parted Tholthorpe, East York­shire at 2113 hours on the night of Aug. 17, 1943.

Fred was the pi­lot of Hal­i­fax Bomber Mark V, s/n EB285, Squadron Code IP-T

and their tar­get was the Nazi Rocket Pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity at Peen­e­mu­nde.

The bomber was lost over Wester­lund. The en­tire crew were killed. They are buried in Keil War Ceme­tery, Ger­many.

The tragic irony — Fred Piper and the DOC Reg­u­la­tions

Archie Piper wanted his son to join the Air Force and went so far as to have the RCMP have a sales­man charged un­der the DOC Reg­u­la­tions be­cause he thought the man was try­ing to talk his son out of join­ing the Air Force. His son may have been el­i­gi­ble for ex­emp­tion from mil­i­tary ser­vice to work in the fam­ily farm im­ple­ment and black­smith busi­ness. But Archie wanted him in the RCAF. Trag­i­cally, at age 23 Fred died in north­ern Ger­many.

Tux­ford Me­mo­rial Ser­vice

On Thurs­day, Dec. 2, 1943, a Spe­cial Me­mo­rial Ser­vice was held in the Tux­ford United Church for Fred and two lo­cal broth­ers, Fly­ing Of­fi­cer Jack Lowther and WO2 David Lowther.

David had been killed in air op­er­a­tions early in 1943 and as of De­cem­ber 1943, Jack was listed as miss­ing in air op­er­a­tions. He was later con­firmed killed Sept. 28, 1943.

The Tux­ford United Church was packed. It must have been a mov­ing cer­e­mony led by the Rev­erend Thomas Bray and as­sisted by Rev­erend R. S. L. McA­dam, the Angli­can min­is­ter in Tux­ford.

The ser­vice opened with the singing of the Na­tional An­them — which at that time was prob­a­bly God Save the King. The “in­spir­ing” ser­mon was de­liv­ered by RAF Squadron Leader N. M. Slaugh­ter, of No. 32 S.F.T.S., Moose Jaw, the sta­tion chap­lin.

Also in­cluded in the cer­e­mony was a con­tin­gent of Air Cadets led by Cadet Fly­ing Of­fi­cer N. C. Allen. The Cadets pre­sented a flower ar­range­ment in the shape of an air­plane. One can only imag­ine Archie’s grief. There is lit­tle left in Tux­ford, Saskatchewan today that re­minds peo­ple of the tragic war years. The plaque at the Tux­ford Com­mu­nity Hall commemorates those who served. It in­cludes the names of Fred, the Lowther broth­ers; the Han­nah broth­ers and many more.

Time moves on — mem­o­ries fade — but we must re­mem­ber, lest we for­get the fallen.

COUR­TESY CANADIAN VIR­TUAL WAR ME­MO­RIAL

P/O F. J. Piper killed on Air Op­er­a­tions, Aug. 18, 1943.

SUB­MIT­TED

Jack (KIA Set. 28, 1943) and David (KIA Mar. 3, 1943), Lowther – Eng­land Jan­uary 1943

COUR­TESY 434 RCAF RECORDS

Sgt. G.R. Con­nor, Crew 6, killed on Air Op­er­a­tions, Aug. 18, 1943.

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