Cadet squadron crest pays trib­ute to bomber crews

The Compass - - CLASSIFIED - Neil Earle is an ad­junct his­tory pro­fes­sor at Cit­rus Col­lege in Glen­dora, Cal­i­for­nia, but calls Car­bon­ear home.

When two Can­sos from Gan­der blunted a U-boat at­tack on Feb. 24, 1943, it was the over­ture to the turn of the tide in the North At­lantic.

All the while, RCN and Royal Navy sailors were tough­ing it out in the corvettes, ser­vice­able ships re­sem­bling whalers and only twothirds the size of de­stroy­ers. They were so low in the water and so per­pet­u­ally drenched that the men joked they de­served sub­mariners pay.

The naval base at St. John’s, code-named HMCS Avalon, was al­ready “the most im­por­tant Cana­dian naval base” along the “Newfy” to Derry run (Paul Collins, Front Lines of De­fence).

In the air, the RCAF kept beef­ing up its con- voy screen and im­ple­ment­ing bet­ter sub-hunt­ing tech­niques. Squadron leader B.H. Mof­fitt’s sink­ing of U-630 in a Canso bomber out of Gan­der on May 4, 1943 was a pa­rade ex­am­ple.

Flight Lieu­tenant Fisher, re­turn­ing to Gan­der af­ter es­cort­ing Win­ston Churchill in HMS Renown from the Que­bec Con­fer­ence, sank U341 in an op­por­tune en­counter.

Tech­nol­ogy was mak­ing the dif­fer­ence. At sea, as 1943 moved along, es­cort ves­sels were equipped with bet­ter de­tec­tion equip­ment, im­proved as­dic, “huff-duff ” (High Fre­quency/Di­rec­tion Find­ing), and side­fir­ing as well as back-fir­ing depth charges. The new B-24 Lib­er­a­tors out of Ar­gen­tia sported bet­ter hom­ing tor­pe­does and the abil­ity to work at night.

But losses were still heavy — 22 RCN ships went down all told. Vic­tory at sea would never come cheaply.

The Gan­der Avi­a­tion Mu­seum dis­plays a Hud­son bomber as one of its leit­mo­tifs. And who could have thought that those spa­cious air­fields built to win the Bat­tle of the At­lantic would be home to thou­sands of stranded pas­sen­gers on Sept. 11, 2001?

Air Cadet Squadron 589 in Car­bon­ear sports a dis­tinc­tive unit crest that shows a Hud­son Bomber over Car­bon­ear Is­land. It hon­ours the men who flew them as well as re­call­ing the squadron’s first com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, RCAF veteran Hud­son Davis. Canada’s peace­keep­ing forces of the 1950s and 1960s drew very much upon the con­fi­dence gained along the West­ern At­lantic. Sheer guts of the mer­chant marine The mer­chant marine per­haps de­serves dou­ble hon­our in that they pos­sessed scanty means of fight­ing back against the U-boat peril.

Ad­mi­ral-his­to­rian Sa­muel Eliot Mori­son paid all of them this trib­ute: “The pa­tri­o­tism, the en­ergy, and the sheer guts that kept th­ese men of the mer­chant marine, and of the three es­cort­ing navies, to their al­lot­ted tasks is be­yond all praise” (The Bat­tle of the At­lantic, page 344).

Be­yond all praise. So be it, lest we for­get.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.