K.I. Robb, Mike Askey, J.S. Macdonald (Houston, Tx) & F.H. Richards of 412 Squadron
CANADIANS TAKE PROMINENT PART
ASKEY, MICHAEL WILLIAM HAMILTON
- P/O (P) J19049.
An Airfield Beyond Gabes, North Africa, April 20, 1943
- (CP) - Three Canadian members of a front-line fighter squadron distinguished
themselves during the 8th Army's advance, with an impressive record of
low-level attacks on enemy tanks, armored vehicles and motor transport.
Flying with a specially-assigned squadron, FO. James Carswell, of Turleford, Sask., FO. Kenneth Bendall of Hamilton, Ont., and PO. John Wilcox of Cobalt, Ont., braved intense ground fire in attacks which set tanks aflame and disrupted armored forces trying to stem Gen. Montgomery's spectacular advance.
Riddled repeatedly with machine-Fun bullets and fragments of flak, their aircraft never failed on any mission they undertook. Bendall and Carswell both had their engines hit, but managed to coax their machines home. Carswell on one occasion had a bullet hole through the hood of his cockpit.
The impressive score of a Canadian pilot with another Spitfire squadron, Flt. Lt. Lawrence (Red) Chisholm, D.F.C. and Bar, former railway brakeman of Kentville, N.S., who is one of the most brilliant R.C.A.F. fighter pilots in the Middle East, continued to grow as the African campaign neared its climax. He destroyed an ME109 and probably destroyed a Macchi 202 in mid-April to raise his score to seven destroyed, with many more probables and damaged.
In one scrap, he led Sgt. Michael Askey, son of a Winnipeg army padre, and a third pilot who was English, against a strong formation of enemy fighters. Chisholm and Askey each got one. Their squadron, led by a famous Battle of Britain pilot, got five that day. Another who added to his score was WO. E. A. Ker of Fenwick, Ont. He destroyed a Macchi 202 over Mareth and an ME109 over the Mediterranean. He has shot down a total of three enemy aircraft and has many probables and damaged to his credit.
Ker is a member of a crack R.A.F. squadron which piled up a combined score of 20 destroyed in March and added another seven before the middle of April.
The English squadron commander has a personal score of 20, the highest number of enemy aircraft destroyed by any fighter pilot entirely in the Middle East.
Allied Headquarters, North Africa, April 26, 1943 - (BUP)
- Delayed reports to headquarters revealed that Sgt. Michael Askey, of
Winnipeg, shot down three Italian Macchi fighters last Tuesday, the day
his section of the tactical air force bagged 19 Axis planes without loss.
He got one before breakfast and the other two after lunch.
"In the morning show I attacked one of two Macchis in front of me," Askey said. "He rolled over on his back and hit the beach right at the edge of the water.
"In the afternoon I ran slap into a formation of Macchis and concentrated on two of them. I hit one in the cockpit and the pilot bailed out. Then I scored hits on the cockpit and wings of the other, and it dived into the sea out of control."
London, July 7, 1943 — (CP) — Wherever British
fighters fought and bombers bombed in North Africa, there were Canadians
there as members of Royal Air Force crew.
Total Reaches 2000
Into the two massive aerial arms Britain conceived to crush the Axis —the Western Desert and the Northwest Africa Air Forces—the Dominion poured her aviators in liberal supply. Official figures place their number in the vicinity of 2,000.
Only one R.C.A.F. fighter squadron operated as an entity, but few R.A.F. squadrons were without Canadian representation and in some fighter squadrons as high as six of the 12 operational pilots were Canadian.
In the air, Dominion crewmen fought from El Alamein to Tunis. From their ranks emerged Sqdn. Ldrs. Jimmy Walker, 24-year-old Edmonton bank clerk, and George Hill from Pictou, N.S., two youngsters who learned to fly in the Commonwealth Air Training scheme and now hold the D.F.C. and bar.
Build Fine Scores
Walker went to Africa with two planes to his credit, shot down 8½ more. Hill had 9½ when Africa fell.
A 26-year-old Listowel, Ont. athlete who went to Britain in peacetime to play hockey and who fought in the Africa campaign was Wing Cmdr. J. R. Thompson, of a Boston bomber squadron.
Supporting the 8th Army, the one R.C.A.F. squadron to see action was the City of Windsor squadron under Sqdn. Ldr. F. B. Foster, of Montreal, which finished the campaign in a crack, front-line fighter wing.
In this Western Desert force, too, were Flight-Lieut. James Francis Edwards, D.F.C., D.F.M., North Battleford, Sask., who ran his score of destroyed aircraft to ten and flight-Lieut. William Lawrence (Red) Chisholm, D.F.C., of Kentville, N.S., who has eight.
Downs German Ace
In their wake came many another exploit. Flight-Sgt. Michael Askey, of Winnipeg, son of an army padre, ran wild one day and shot down three Italian Macchis. F.O. Frank Regan, of Vancouver, shot down the German ace, Kurt Helmann.
Canadians in this Western Desert force, exclusive of those in the R.A.F. proper, won 36 D.F.C.s and five Bars and 21 D.F.M.s. At the climax of the fight, about 1,000 Canadians were in the air and 600 were serving in ground crews or on technical or administrative work.
R.C.A.F. officials in London, without comparative figures for the northwest force, estimated that the air crew number would approximate 1,000, but said the ground crew force would be considerably lower than 600.
Toll Not Checked
Across the thousands of desert miles, the "Erks" labored at their obscure tasks, at times within artillery range of the Germans, maintaining aircraft that might be flown by Scot, Rhodesian, Canadian or South African.
To a former Mounted Policeman, Flt.-Lieut. G. W. Slee, was entrusted maintenance of wireless communication in the Tunisian theatre of operations. He enlisted at Winnipeg.
R.C.A.F. wireless air gunners turned up in American and South African air force bombers.
The toll Canada paid has not been finally computed, but 132 were reported killed and missing in the Western Desert group and the figure in the Northwest Africa group would probably coincide roughly.
(By Ross Munro, Canadian Press War Correspondent)
Somewhere in Sicily, July 13, 1943 (Delayed CP Cable) — Canadian pilots now are flying off a Sicilian aerodrome which was captured by Canadian infantry and brought into operation by a British airfield construction group soon after the landing last Saturday.
Furrows Two Feet Deep
The Italians had ploughed up this airfield before the invasion and the airfield construction group, including British pioneers and sappers who came in with the Canadians, went to work filling in furrows which in some parts were two feet deep.
It was not long before fighter planes flown by Canadians landed on the repaired drome, throwing up great clouds of chalky dust as they taxied to a standstill.
At this airfield this morning I met six Canadians of an R.A.F. fighter squadron.
They were: PO. Gordon Wilson, of Regina; PO. Red Probert, of Moose Jaw, Sask.; FO. Fred Wihak, of Melville, Sask; FO. Bob Hazel, of Ottawa, a former Rough Rider football player; FO. Milt Jowsey, of Ottawa, and Flight-Sgt. Mike Askey, of Winnipeg, whose father is a padre of a Canadian division in England.
Ottawa, Nov. 11, 1943 (CP) The R.C.A.F. reported tonight
in its 730th casualty list of the war, containing 24 names, that five
men previously reported missing on active service overseas now for official
purposes are presumed dead, and one man previously reported missing on
active service in Canada now for official purposes is presumed dead. The
list includes with next of kin:
ASKEY, Michael William Hamilton, WO. missing after air operations overseas, Major William Askey father), Winnipeg.
7 Mar 1943
Destroyed [am] &
5 / 0 / 1
Ottawa, Nov. 10, 1944 — The Department of National
Defense for Air today issued casualty list No. 1,037 of the Royal Canadian
Air Force. This list includes:
Previously Missing — Now Officially Presumed Dead
ASKEY, Michael William Hamilton, PO. Winnipeg.
--- Canadian Aces ---
On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources, newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) as well as other sources both published and private