Nine Jap Planes Felled By Seven Canadians
Ottawa, June 26, 1942 - (CP) - Air Minister Power announced
today that seven Canadian airmen destroyed eight Japanese bombers and
one fighter during the Easter raid on Colombo — "exactly one-third
of the total number of enemy aircraft destroyed over the Ceylon port."
The seven airmen, all recently posted to Ceylon, were P.O. Jimmy Whalen,
of Vancouver; Sqdn.-Ldr. R.T.P. Davidson, of
Vancouver; Sgt. Jack Hurley, of Vankleek Hill, Ont.; Sgt. George C. Bate,
of Saskatoon; Sgt. Creighton L Nutbrown, of Sherbrooke, Que.; P.O. Donald
A. McDonald, of St. Thomas, Ont., and Sgt. Grant Bishop, of Mount Royal,
"They avenged the death of Sqdn.-Ldr. L.J. Birchall, of St. Catharines,
Ont., who first spotted the enemy fleet and flashed back the dramatic
message which warned the island defenders of the impending attack,"
the air minister said.
Pilot Officer Whalen "destroyed three Japanese bombers," the
"I climbed to 15,000 feet above the City of Colombo," he related,
"and saw a formation of seven bombers at 18,000. I climbed above
them, dived and shot down two. I broke away, climbed again and got another.
Then I was attacked by Jap fighters, but Squadron Leader Davidson saw
my trouble, attacked the Japs and shot one of them down."
Sergeant Hurley destroyed one Japanese bomber and shared another with
Davidson. Taking off with Davidson they both spotted a bomber and went
after him. The Japanese was soon falling in flames. "I then went
into cloud," said Hurley, "and emerged over the harbor where
I ran into a Jap bomber formation flying in a 'Vic.’ I tackled No.
2 of the formation, and after I put some bursts into him he blew up. I
was then attacked by Jap fighters, but none of them hit me.”
Bate got two Japanese bombers.
"I came down from above on them," he said. "There were
several kites in a tight 'Vic.' I gave my first a few short bursts and
blew off his tail. I shot across another, spraying him with fire, and
he went down with flames streaming from his cockpit."
Sergeant Nutbrown chalked up a "probable." He chased the Japanese
machines for more than an hour and returned with many holes in his aircraft
to tell of the battles he had waged.
McDonald caught up with seven bombers at 2,000 feet, attacked one and
sent it crashing down. As he turned away a Japanese fighter pumped cannon
shell into his aircraft and oil sprayed all over him, but a Royal Air
Force pilot came to the rescue and shot the attacking enemy plane down.
"I passed over the harbor with all the ack-ack fire blazing away,"
said McDonald, "and managed to make a forced landing in an open space.
I clambered out of the machine and made my way to a local hotel for a
Takes On Five Fighters
Bishop ran into five Japanese fighters, but took them on. After giving
one of them a few bursts he found an enemy plane on his tail, and his
controls and a chunk of his propeller were shot away.
"It was toward the end of March that Japanese fleet movements in
the Indian Ocean portended an attack on Ceylon within two or three days,"
the Air Minister's statement said. "Catalina aircraft patrols were
therefore well on the lookout. It fell to the lot of Squadron Leader Birchall
to sight the enemy first and to him Ceylon owes a heavy debt. A few minutes
past four on the afternoon of April 4 he flashed back the dramatic message
that a large Japanese force was 350 miles south of the island. Then, silence.”
"He, and Pilot Officer A.W. Abbot of Aerschal, Sask., who was in
the same crew, were never heard from again.”
One Catalina Lost
"Other Catalinas were immediately sent up to shadow the enemy and
of these one was lost, but the Japs were sighted about midnight 270 miles
south of the island. The enemy fleet was lost in the darkness then but
it was evident it was moving against Ceylon and Command ashore spent the
night calculating, issuing orders and making all ready for the attack.
It was estimated that the Japanese would be in position for their onslaught
at 7:30 next morning.
"Catalinas were sent up with the first light of dawn, and, prowling
the approaches to the island, contacted the enemy 180 miles southeast
"Ashore all was ready. The fighter pilots were standing by, impatient
to get to grips with the Japanese. Eager as any of the defenders were
the seven Canadian airmen. Soon the order was given for the fighters to
take off and soon the Canadians were back, flushed with their victories
and happy in the knowledge that they had avenged Birchall." (Although
believed killed at the time, Birchall was in fact picked up after being
shot down into the sea. Called the "Saviour of Ceylon" by Winston
Churchill, he miraculously survived the War as a prisoner of the Japanese.
You can read more about it here)
Born 23 April 1920 in Vancouver.
In army cadets before war,
- with hopes to join RCAF Permanent Force after university.
Enlisted in Vancouver, 26 June 1940.
Trained at No. 1 ITS (23 July to 16 September, 1940),
No.2 EFTS (16 September to 16 November 1940) and
No.2 SFTS (17 November 1940 to 18 February 1941;
Sergeant as of 28 January 1941).
Arrived in UK 6 March 1941.
Further trained at No.57 OTU.
To No.411 Squadron, 24 July 1941, and
to No.129 Squadron 1 August 1941.
to No.30 Squadron, India, 25 February 1942
To No.17 Squadron, 15 March 1943;
No.34 Squadron, 11 August 1943.
Killed in action 18 April 1944
- when hit by light anti-aircraft fire near Kohima, India.
He was leading twelve aircraft on a bombing and
- strafing mission,
released his bombs, rolled, corrected roll,
- dived over ridge out
of sight (Hurricane LB780).
(A wartime CO described him as charming but ambitious)
Award presented to next-of-kin, 21 February 1947.
WHALEN, F/L James Henry (J15005) - DFC - No.34 Squadron
Award effective 17 April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 21 December
AFRO 155/46 dated 15 February 1946.
Whilst flying with this squadron, Flight Lieutenant Whalen
has shown exceptional keenness as a captain of aircraft. He has destroyed
three Messerschmitt 109s and three Navy 99s. As leader of a flight or
squadron on most exacting operations Flight Lieutenant Whalen has attained
much success by his determination and skill.
NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9633 has recommendation
dated 16 April 1944 noting that he had flown 237 hours 20 minutes on operations:
This pilot has carried out with good success 176 sorties
against the enemy, 107 being over enemy territory and 23 by night. He
has to his credit three Messerschmitt 109s destroyed and one damaged whilst
flying in England and three Navy 99s destroyed whilst operating in Ceylon.
Whilst flying with this squadron, Flight Lieutenant Whalen
has completed 87 sorties by day and nine by night and has shown exceptional
determination and keenness at all times. His ability as an operational
pilot is above the average and the success of many of the squadron's sorties
are due to his leadership, determination, enthusiasm , courage and keenness.
The Officer Commanding his station added his comments
on 5 May 19144:
This officer, now missing, was known to me as a most
gallant and successful operational pilot, both on defensive and offensive
fighter and fighter-bomber work. He has throughout been a source of inspiration
to all those who have worked with him, or under his leadership, and I
strongly recommend him for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying
Air Commodore S.F. Vincent, who commanded No.221 Group,
India, wrote on 12 May 1944:
Strongly recommended. This officer was known to me personally
as an excellent leader of a Flight or Squadron on most exacting missions
- mostly low bombing over mountainous jungle-covered country. I discussed
the recommendation for an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross with
his Squadron Commander before his death on operations, and it was submitted
then, so this is not being recommended posthumously.
To this was appended a
summary of his 176 sorties.
These were described thus:
Sector recce and patrols 13
Sweeps over France 15
Channel patrols 6
Red Sea patrols 2
Bombing and strafing 99
Miscellaneous escorts, etc. 10
A popular publicity shot of Jimmy after his triple kill in 1942
WHALEN. JAMES HENRY - J15005 - D.F.C. Killed In Action
April 18, 1944. age 22. With 34 Squadron (Lupus Volt Lupas Volat). Whalen
was flying a Hurri-bomber (LB 780 "EG-X", his normal Hurricane
was HW 840 "EG-S",
down for radio repairs that day) and was shot down by enemy flak while
carrying out a bombing and strafing attack against Huewi, Burma. The aircraft
crashed near the Kohima-lmphal road in India. Flight Lieutenant Pilot
Whalen was found weeks later, buried near the crash site, exhumed, and
reburied in the Military Cemetery at Kohima, India.
Credited with :
17 Sept 1941, two Bf.109s destroyed
21 Sept 1941. one Bf.109 destroyed
5 April 1942 three Type
99 Aichi D3A (Val)
- carrier bombers destroyed
--- Canadian Aces ---