Cana­dian war ace dealt his fi­nal hand

Pi­lot shot down three Ger­man bombers in one night in 1943

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW DUFFY

Fly­ing Of­fi­cer Rayne “Joe” Schultz be­gan the night that would de­fine his war at a poker game — win­ning money for a change.

It made him re­luc­tant to climb into his de Hav­il­land Mos­quito to launch an­other night pa­trol over the North Sea. But the moon was full on Dec. 10, 1943, which usu­ally meant the Luft­waffe would be ac­tive: Ger­man bombers liked the added vis­i­bil­ity.

Within min­utes of tak­ing to the air, Schultz and his nav­i­ga­tor, Vern Wil­liams, were di­rected to­ward a stream of bombers. Schultz shot down the first he en­coun­tered, then quickly came upon an­other. He fired at close range, ex­plod­ing the plane’s bomb load, the fall­out from which al­most took out Schultz’s plane.

Wil­liams iden­ti­fied a third bomber, and Schultz be­gan a 12,000-foot, de­scend­ing bat­tle. His in­stru­ment panel and port en­gine were de­stroyed by Ger­man gun­ners, but Schultz pressed the at­tack. Wil­liams de­scribed its fi­nal mo­ments to a Cana­dian Press reporter days later: “Rayne’s last burst of am­mu­ni­tion, the last we had, ganged him into the sea, and we pulled up just in time to miss go­ing in our­selves.”

Schultz had de­stroyed three Luft­waffe planes in less than 15 min­utes, a feat that earned him the Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross. He would de­stroy eight Ger­man planes dur­ing his night-fight­ing ca­reer, and gain a Bar for his DFC. He ended the war as one of Canada’s top-rated aces.

Schultz, who served 37-years in the Royal Cana­dian Air Force and re­tired as a group cap­tain, died on Re­mem­brance Day from what his daugh­ter called “sys­tems fail­ure.” He was 88.

“Fly­ing was his life,” said long­time friend Maj.- Gen. (Ret.) Wilson Leach, former sur­geon gen­eral of the Cana­dian Forces.

Leach said Schultz was fa­mously head­strong: “He wasn’t shy about com­ing for­ward: he ex­pressed his views to any­body and ev­ery­body, re­gard­less of rank.”

Rayne Dennis Schultz was born on Dec. 17, 1922, in Bashaw, Al­berta. His fa­ther, Al­bert, a Ger­man im­mi­grant, worked for the rail­road.

Young Rayne, how­ever, had eyes only for air­planes.

Schultz en­listed in the RCAF at 17. En­cour­aged to be a nav­i­ga­tor, he in­sisted on be­com­ing a pi­lot. He earned his wings in April 1942 and was sent over­seas one month later.

His wing com­man­der de­cided to make him a bomber pi­lot, but Schultz balked: he wanted a fighter. Although taken aback at the ju­nior of­fi­cer’s temer­ity, the com­man­der agreed and Schultz was as­signed to 410 Cougar Squadron.

The night fighter squadron’s job was to comb the skies over the North Sea for Ger­man bombers and to in­ter­cept them be­fore they could in­flict more dam­age on Bri­tain’s cities. On-board radar was then in its in­fancy, so pi­lots had to find and iden­tify the planes be­fore en­gag­ing them.

Schultz would point to a mis­sion in which he made a near-fa­tal mis­take as his “most in­ter­est­ing” of the war.

On Feb. 14, 1944, Schultz and Wil­liams spot­ted a Ger­man bomber streak­ing home in the night sky. Schultz pur­sued it and set it on fire with his guns. Then, at Wil­liams’ re­quest, he flew in for a bet­ter look so they could iden­tify the bomber’s ex­act model.

“It was the stu­pid­est thing I ever did in my life,” Schultz once told an in­ter­viewer. “The air­plane was com­pletely in flames, but the mid-up­per gun­ner was still in his tur­ret.”

The tur­ret swung to­wards Schultz, who broke hard to his left. It was too late: 13-mm rounds ripped into his plane from wingtip to wingtip.

Sev­eral bul­lets punc­tured the cock­pit, one be­tween the pi­lot and nav­i­ga­tor. The en­gines were so badly dam­aged that the men pre­pared to bail out, but a ground con­troller told them the sea was too rough for them to be re­trieved.

So Schultz nursed the ail­ing plane back to Eng­land. The en­gine quit as he re­duced power; he had no brakes when he crash-landed. Although it would never fly again, the Mos­quito — the Cana­dian-built planes were made largely from wood — some­how held to­gether.

Af­ter the war, Schultz con­tin­ued to fly with the RCAF. It was while sta­tioned at CFB Tren­ton that he met his wife, Mary.

Mary But­ler was jus­tice of the peace in nearby Belleville when Schultz and an­other air­man were hauled in front of her for hav­ing open liquor in their car. Schultz was so taken with the jus­tice that he asked her out. When she re­fused, he sought her out twice more to re­state his case.

“To her credit, she fi­nally said, ‘yes’,” said Kath­leen Boettger, the cou­ple’s only daugh­ter, who was born in 1950, two years af­ter her par­ents mar­ried.

Kath­leen grew up on air­bases across Canada and around the world.

Schultz would fly ev­ery plane ever bought by the Cana­dian Forces, in­clud­ing the CF-101 Voodoo and CF-18. He pi­loted more than 40 air­planes in his ca­reer, which in­cluded many se­nior post­ings. Among other things, he was pi­lot rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Avro Ar­row project and chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer at RCAF Sta­tion Baden-soellin­gen in Ger­many.

Schultz spent 10 years as the RCAF’S di­rec­tor of flight safety and, in 1978, he was awarded the pres­ti­gious Trans-canada Mc­kee Tro­phy for his work.

Lt.-gen. (Ret.) Bill Carr, former leader of Air Com­mand, said Schultz helped en­sure that the Cana­dian Forces had one of the low­est ac­ci­dent rates in the world. “He knew air­planes and he knew air­crew,” Carr said. “He was a modest and in­cred­i­ble hu­man be­ing. He was a mem­ber of that breed that doesn’t much ex­ist any­more.”

Schultz was one of only 218 RCAF air­men to re­ceived a DFC and bar in the Sec­ond World War.

It was shortly af­ter at­tend­ing the funeral of his wartime nav­i­ga­tor, Vern Wil­liams, last year that Schultz fell and broke his leg. The in­jury trig­gered a de­cline from which he never re­cov­ered.

“He was a true of­fi­cer and a gen­tle­man,” said Boettger, a re­tired de­fence depart­ment pol­icy an­a­lyst.

“He was a gen­uine per­son whom you could al­ways rely on. He was a true in­spi­ra­tion.” Online: See a video of Rayne ‘Joe’ Shultz and his fly­ing ex­ploits at ot­tawac­i­t­i­

Rayne Dennis Schultz started fly­ing with the 410 Cougar Squadron af­ter earn­ing his wings in April 1942. He earned a Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross from the cock­pit of a de Hav­il­land Mos­quito af­ter shoot­ing down three Ger­man planes dur­ing one skir­mish in...

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