New and im­proved

Tri-County Vanguard - - FRONT PAGE -

It was an ex­pe­ri­ence that moved Tracy Hat­field to tears.

The Yar­mouth res­i­dent was in Europe re­cently and his trip in­cluded a visit to a German ceme­tery where he got to see the graves of three mem­bers of his fa­ther’s bomber crew from the Sec­ond World War.

In late May 1942, their Welling­ton air­craft was shot down dur­ing a mis­sion over Cologne and three of the plane’s six-mem­ber crew were killed.

Hat­field’s fa­ther – also named Tracy – sur­vived, but he eas­ily could have been one of those who per­ished. In ear­lier op­er­a­tions, Hat­field had served as front gun­ner, but on more recent ones he had been wire­less op­er­a­tor. On this par­tic­u­lar night, when their plane was brought down by en­emy fire, the plane’s front gun­ner was among those who died.

The younger Hat­field, who trav­elled over­seas in Septem­ber – a trip that also in­cluded a visit to a former pris­oner-of-war camp where his fa­ther spent al­most a year – said see­ing the graves of his fa­ther’s fel­low crew mem­bers was an emo­tional time.

“Just to re­al­ize, you know, one of them sort of traded places with Dad in a sense,” Hat­field said. He isn’t sure why or how the de­ci­sion was made that his fa­ther again was wire­less op­er­a­tor that night in­stead of front gun­ner.

He was shot down al­most two years to the day af­ter his older brother, Jack Hat­field, was killed when he was shot down May 28, 1940, while fly­ing over the North Sea. Jack Hat­field was the first Nova Sco­tian and the third Cana­dian to die in aerial com­bat dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Dur­ing his trip over­seas ear­lier this fall, Tracy Hat­field had a chance to visit his un­cle Jack’s gravesite too.

As Remembrance Day ap­proaches read more sto­ries of remembrance on pages C1 to C5 of this is­sue.

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