Four Bombers Downed By F/O. Aikman, Toronto
By Ross MUNRO at an R.A.F. Fighter Base on the Tunisian
Jan. 15, 1943 - (CP) - Flying with R.A.F. fighter squadrons, Canadian
pilots in this forward airdrome are in action virtually every day as Allied
air forces step up their offensive in Tunisia. .
The Canadians are operating with British, Australian and New Zealand airmen,
taking part in air battles over Northern Tunisia and sometimes right over
Bizerte and Tunis. They are making daylight sweeps along the enemy lines
and having fierce dustups with Axis bombers and fighters they intercept.
Top Canadian pilot of this base is F/O. Alan F. Aikman
of Toronto, credited with destroying four bombers. Aikman and F. Allan
Turnbull of Prince Albert, Sask., were in the first squadron landing at
Maison Blanche airdrome in Algiers Nov. 11. Turnbull is credited with
the destruction of one bomber. Both men were with a squadron when it occupied
a forward airdrome several hours ahead of British troops advancing along
the coastal road in the first phase of the Northwest African campaign.
Take Over Airdrome
"We dropped down on the airdrome like a bunch of Commandos and took
the place over," Aikman said. "You should have seen the amazement
of the British colonel when he rushed up with his troops and found Spits
lined up on the field."
On the last lap of the long drive to the front I arrived at this airdrome
just as the Spits were coming in from a sweep over Bizerte and the Canadians
were among the first pilots I saw.
The Canadians here include PO (Junior) Fenwick, D.F.C., of Toronto,
who has shot down three of the enemy, PO. Howard McMinniman of
Fredericton, N.B., and PO. Eldon McKinley of Calgary, who has been ferrying
aircraft to North Africa and has just been transferred to the Fighter
Command. There are even some Canadians in the ground crews, including
LAC. Syd Roberts of Brantford, Ont., and LAC. Les Liverman, of Westmount,
I have seldom seen pilots as much on top of the world as those at this
base. They have good planes and, although the airdrome is sometimes a
mass of mud and the weather is frequently frightful, they get their kites
into the air and find they can put up a great effort on this front.
"A New Zealand pilot in our squadron shot dawn four Italian bombers
in one patrol," Turnbull said. "He popped them off like Sergeant
York (a United States sniper in the first Great War) and returned to base
with 40 rounds of cannon shells still unused."
Born Transcona, Manitoba, 21 December 1920.
Home in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
Enlisted Windsor, Ontario 19 November 1940.
Trained at No.1 ITS (graduated 6 May 1941),
No.7 EFTS (graduated 21 June 1941), and
No.6 SFTS (graduated 13 September 1941).
Killed In Action - 21 June 1944. He was 23 years old
Shot down by a USAAF Thunderbolt or "friendly" ground
while with # 401 "Ram" squadron and flying Spit # NH207.
He crashed west of Oucelles France near landing strip B6
(I found this next note.
Check it out. I believe Jerry Billing is the quotee)
"On the 18th of June, 1944- We landed (401
Sqdn.) at Benny-Sur-Mer France.........shortly after "D-Day"-
Hap Kennedy and I were standing by our spits on readiness......
Babe Fenwick from Leamington Ont. had been scrambled after the
Hun. We heard this bloody roar from the South West - all of a
sudden an Me 109 being chased by Babe appeared right over our
heads. They were flying full out - our "Ack Ack" fired
late and shot Babe down.....
We buried Babe as the 8th person to be buried at Beny-Sur-Mer....."
I read somewhere that American Ace George Preddy
was killed the same way. Preddy, it said, was hit by American AA gunners
trying to hit the 190 he was chasing. A 50 cal round came up through
his seat into his left butt cheek and stopped in his heart. Unbelievably,
Preddy, like the Red Baron, was able to land his plane successfully
[quite a feat considering he was involved in a high speed, treetop level
fight when he was hit] in a nearby field. When ground troops reached
him however, he was dead.
FURTHER R.C.A.F. AWARDS MADE
Late Sgt. Donald Moss Posthumously Honored
Ottawa, Feb, 11, 1943 - (CP) - Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross
to Pilot Officer Harry Elmore Fenwick of Sioux Lookout, Ont., and posthumous
award of the Distinguished Flying Medal to Sgt. .Donald Moss, whose parents
live at 261 Keewatin Avenue, Toronto, was announced today at R.C.A.F.
The citation for PO. Fenwick, whose father, Harry Fenwick, lives at Sioux
Lookout, reads: "PO. Fenwick has participated in a very large number
of sorties. He has always displayed great determination to achieve success
and has destroyed four enemy aircraft."
Sgt. Moss' citation: "This airman has completed many sorties, including
low flying attacks on enemy shipping. On one occasion, in spite of heavy
opposing fire, he attacked a merchant from mast height. On another occasion
whilst pressing home a determined attach on an enemy vessel, his aircraft
sustained much damage. Despite this he skillfully flew it to base, where
he affected a masterly landing.
"Throughout his operational career this airman has displayed great
initiative, courage and dash."
FENWICK, P/O Harry Elmore (J15790) - Distinguished
Flying Cross - No.81 Squadron
Award effective 10 February 1943 as per London Gazette dated 16 February
AFRO 410/43 dated 12 March 1943.
Pilot Officer Fenwick has participated in a very large
number of sorties. He has always displayed great determination to achieve
success and has destroyed four enemy aircraft.
Local Flyer, Bill Olmsted, One of Canadians
Who Are Doing a Good job in Tunisia
Increasing Number From Canada Seeing Action on Desert Front
(By Ross Munro, Canadian Press War Correspondent)
With the RAF in North Africa, Feb. 25 – (CP Cable) – An increasing
number of Canadian fighter pilots are in action on the Tunisian front
and squadron leader Jimmy Walker of Edmonton,
now commands a Spitfire squadron, the first Canadian-led RAF squadron
in North Africa.
Walker has just been awarded a bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross.
His citation reads: “This officer has destroyed four enemy aircraft
and damaged four others since his arrival in North Africa. His untiring
efforts and leadership merit the highest praise. His example has been
an inspiration to other pilots in his wing and has contributed greatly
to the wing success in the air.”
Flying with Walker at different times during the campaign have been several
other Canadians who have been knocking off enemy aircraft.
Toronto Man Promoted
Alan Aikman, of Toronto, has been promoted from
the rank of flying officer to that of flight lieutenant and he now is
leading a flight of Spitfires. Aikman flew No. 2 to the famous Irishman,
Paddy Finucane, and
was with him the day he was shot down off the French coast by anti-aircraft
fire. The Torontonian has a score of five enemy planes destroyed in North
Africa. Recently he shot down a Focke-Wulf 190 in an air fight over the
Mediterranean. The German plane crashed on the shore.
Aikman said Spitfires have been doing a large number of sweeps recently
to harry the Germans on the northern sector of the front. "The Jerries
don't seem to want to mix it up with us," he said, "Sometimes
we get a dozen or 15 in the sky but they sheer off when we get in at them.
So life is a little dull at times these days."
Another high-scoring Canadian is P.O. Harry (Junior) Fenwick, of Leamington,
Ont., who has destroyed five of the enemy and damaged five more, besides
having a probable to his credit. He wears the ribbon of the Distinguished
Flying in the same squadron as Fenwick are six other Canadians: Sgt. Louis
Hamilin, Sgt. Donald Rathwell, and P.O. Calvin (Pep) Peppler, all of Winnipeg;
Flt.-Sgt. Douglas Husband, of Toronto; F.O.
Bill Olmsted, of Hamilton, Ont., and Sgt. John
Olsen, of Kirkland Lake, Ont.
With another squadron that flies on sweeps with Fenwick and his crowd
are P.O. Jim Woodill, of Halifax, Flt.-Lieut. Glen Lynes, of Montreal,
who has just been promoted from the rank of pilot officer and leading
a flight like Aikman; P.O. C. F. Sorensen, a Dane from Kingston, and P.O.
Howard McMinniman, of Fredericton.
Flying with still another R.A.F. squadron that included a half-dozen Canadians
is F.O. R. W. Robertson, of Sydney, N.S., who has been through a couple
of recent scraps over Tunisia. On a dawn patrol he ran into seven Nazi
fighters and engaged them immediately. He took on three at first and headed
straight at them. At less than 100 yards he squirted lead at one and saw
it break away and dive for the ground, riddled with bullets. Troops on
the ground saw it crash and Robertson got the credit for destroying it.
He was not finished, though. He chased after the rest and damaged two
before returning to his base in time for breakfast. Robertson flies a
Spitfire with the name Bluenose painted on its nose. He has done almost
150 operational hours as a fighter pilot. .
A great friend of a large number of Canadian pilots out here is Flt-Sgt.
Tony Jonsson, the only Icelander in the R.A.F., who was recently awarded
the Distinguished Flying Medal. His score is three destroyed, one probable
and one damaged.
Tunisia Victors - R.C.A.F. Men Among Aces Topping List
By FLT. LT. LES POWELL, R.C.A.F.
Algiers, May 29, 1943 - (CP) - Royal Canadian Air Force personnel played
a big part in the aerial domination achieved by the Allies during the
closing stages of the Battle of Tunisia, for they were—as they are
everywhere—plentifully sprinkled among R.A.F. squadrons, and even
a United States Army Air Force Mitchell squadron.
They flew Spitfires, Hurricanes Bostons, Beaufighters, Wellingtons, and
Two of the highest scoring fighter pilots in the campaign were Canadians,
both leaders of Spitfire squadrons. They are Sqdn. Ldrs Jimmy Walker,
D.F.C. and Bar, of Edmonton, and George Hill, D.F.C.
of Pictou N.S. They destroyed a score of enemy aircraft between them,
plus innumerable probable and damaged, and brilliantly lead their units
during the final decisive phase of the battle.
Not far away was another Canadian fighter ace, Flt. Lt. Fred Alan (Butch)
Aikman, D.F.C., of Toronto, while a short distance away, - “cross
the waddi and turn left at the second eucalyptus" - was a squadron
with five Dominion fliers, including another D.F.C., PO. Harry (Junior)
Fenwick of Leamington, Ont.
Listowel Flier a Leader
In addition to carrying out fighter sweeps and ground strafing, these
fighter boys acted as protection for bombers, Flying Fortresses, Mitchells
and Bostons. They liked especially to escort a particular squadron of
Bostons, for the leader, Wing Cmdr. Jimmy Thompson, D.F.C., is a Canadian
hailing from Listowel, Ont. whose men include many Canadians.
Providing convoy protection through the Mediterranean was tremendously
important work, and there, too, were found Canadians. Flt Lt. Ted Bishop
of Ottawa leads a flight which includes some of his countrymen. Another
Hurricane squadron near by included FO. John (Slim) Wilson of Saint John,
One of the most successful preludes to victory was the bombing of the
docks and harbors of Tunis and Bizerte, which stopped supplies for the
Axis. Giant Flying "Forts" for the U.S.A.A.C. went over in daytime,
while Wellingtons took over by night. Here again one found R.C.A.F. personnel
There were F. M. (Bill) Rublee, 20-year-old Wimpey pilot from Allan, Sask.,
a veteran of raids on important Tunisian ports who first learned to fly
a Waco 10 he and a pal bought, four years ago back home, and Sgt. Jay
Lepine, a wireless operator-air gunner from Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Que.
There is also Bill Webb, a pilot officer from Windsor, Ont., and the squadron's
Navigation officer, Flt. Lt. O. H. Morgan, of Kamloops, B.C. is a veteran
of more than a score of trips over enemy targets.
The Mediterranean Fight
Keeping the Mediterranean clear of submarines is the job of Hudsons of
Coastal Command and only recently there was a victory over a large Axis
submarine by a crew which included Sgt. Rod Blair, a wireless operator-air
gunner from Moose Creek, Ont. Other Canadians with the squadron include
Sgt. Doug Berlis and his all-Toronto crew of Sgts. W. L. Allen and W.
Not only in the air but also on the ground did Canadians serve in North
Africa. There are LACs, Roy Corney, Ridgeway, Ont., and Alan Harris of
Ottawa, radio mechanics with the fighter squadron commanded by Walker,
Cpl. Clary Brown, Mount Forest, Ont., and many others, all doing important
jobs — jobs which helped to drive the Axis out of North Africa,
except for 100,000 or so we are keeping as "guests."
Now the Canadians are sitting around wondering what's to happen next and
hoping that it will happen soon. They are all eager to get on with the
job, finish it up completely and get back to Canada.
Decorated Fliers Tell Thrilling Air Stories
Ottawa, Aug. 24, 1943 - (CP) - Four modest young fliers
who won decorations for fighting the enemy from the Frisian Islands to
North Africa were among a group of Air Force personnel who arrived at
the R.C.A.F. repatriation depot here today after overseas service.
They were FO. L.E. Philpotts of Saint John, N.B., who flew from bases
in Britain and Malta; Flt. Lieut. Harry D. MacDonald
of Toronto, who has shot down eight enemy aircraft flying from British
bases; and PO. Harry E. Fenwick of Leamington, Ont., who entered Tunis
with the victorious Allied armies, all with the Distinguished Flying Cross,
and Sgt. A. A. Mellin of Duncan, B.C., who won the Distinguished Flying
Medal for good work in bringing a damaged aircraft back from a mining
operation at the Frisian Islands.
"Tunis was wild with joy," said Fenwick, speaking of the day
the troops entered, "The people were out in force in the streets.
They gave us a great reception."
Girls Were Lovely
He said he and some friends rode into the city in a jeep to see what was
going on. They were greeted by pretty girls, who asked them to their homes
"And they were lovely," he said.
The three officers are all fighter pilots, although Philpotts was on "special
task" work when stationed at Malta. Between them they have 17.5 enemy
aircraft destroyed to their credit.
Sgt. Mellin is a navigator and on his second operational flight in a bomber
received a bullet wound in the leg. The flight engineer and rear gunner
were killed and he took on the job of flight engineer while other surviving
members of the crew were busy putting out fire which had broken out from
gunfire by an enemy night fighter.
MacDonald has eight enemy aircraft to his credit and commanded a flight
in the famed Canadian "Wolf" Squadron. He came through two tours
of operation without a wound and after a month's leave hopes to go back
to operation and to the Welsh girl he married in England.
Once, his whole flight, with the exception of himself, was shot down over
He is credited with damaging three locomotives in train-busting operations.
Fenwick served eight months in North Africa and was all through the operation
as his squadron landed with the British 1st Army and worked with it and
the 8th Army until the fall of Tunis. His bag is 5½ certain destroyed,
3½ probable and 7 damaged.
His worst experience was when he shot down his second German and he was
forced down himself.
"I got separated from my squadron and ended up with another squadron
which turned out to be Jerries," he said. "There were 12 of
them and they played around with me for a while. They shot me down, but
I got one of them."
He made a crash landing in a mountainous area of enemy territory where,
fortunately, there was little activity and made his way to a British Army
advance post. That was the second time he was shot down and on the first
occasion he had a "few wounds."
In nine months of special task work from Malta, Philpotts had many brushes
with the enemy. He was working over enemy territory most of the time and
in all has 140 operations over it to his credit, including one week’s
operations over Sicily at the start of the campaign there.
Previously, while serving in Fighter Command from Britain he shot down
two enemy aircraft and was shot down himself.
Victories as listed in Chris Shores, Aces High,
(all flying Spitfires with No.81 Squadron):
9 November 1942, one Ju.88 probably destroyed
- one Ju.88 damaged;
16 November 1942, one Bf.109 damaged;
17 November 1942, one MC.202 destroyed;
18 November 1942, one Bf.109 destroyed;
25 November 1942, one Bf.109 destroyed
- one Bf.109 damaged;
6 November 1942, one Re.2001 destroyed (1/2 share)
- one Re.2001 damaged,
- one Bf.109 damaged;
31 December 1942, one Bf.109 damaged;
2 March 1943,
one Bf.109 probably destroyed (1/2 share)
6 March 1943,
one Bf.109 damaged (flying BS511);
14 March 1943, two He.111s
- one He.111 damaged (flying EN210);
23 April 1943,
one Bf.109 destroyed (flying EN187).
Air Force Casualties
Ottawa, July 6, 1944 — The Department of National
Defense for Air today issued casualty list No. 328 of the Royal Canadian
Air Force, showing next of kin of those named from Ontario include:
FENWICK. Harry Elmore. D.F.C. FO. Harry Fenwick (father), Sioux Lookout.