Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 140 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

A World War II Memory - Glen and Sam Merrifield Part 14

​​
During the fall of 1943, we who had been overseas more than three years were offered an opportunity to return to Canada. The reports we had from those arriving from Canada told us they were still playing "soldier" pretty hard back there so we declined. The thoughts of marching past the flag at attention, saluting officers, attending parades, signing in and out at guardhouses, having passwords and polishing boots and buttons, except for going on leave, were activities we did not wish to resume after a long freedom from them.
 
Around this time Flight Engineers became common and many of our fitters re-mustered to aircrew. One such was a chap named Bishop. He was a Sergeant fitter, who when he applied, was given a FE (Flying Engineer) wing brevet, put in John Fauquier's crew and sent on ops almost immediately, John knowing his capabilities. The Problem arose when shortly thereafter he was given an aircrew medical which he did not pass. His one mission was a good one as I believe John was Deputy Master Bomber that night and Bishop spent 45 minutes over Berlin on his first operational flight. He had a fine time for a few weeks thereafter going around telling all and sundry to "Get One in".
 
The Squadron Summary of Events for January 10, 1944 shows under VISITS AND INSPECTIONS Their Majesties, The King and Queen, accompanied by their retinue, the Deputy AOC in - Chief RCAF O'seas, A/V/M N.R. Anderson, the AOC Pathfinder Force (8 Group), A/V/M/ D.C.T. Bennett, C.B.E. D.S.O. visited this station for the primary purpose of meeting aircrew of 405 (RCAF) Squadron. In spite of INCLIMATE (sic) weather, the ceremony was carried out successfully. This was probably a very busy period in their Majesties lives and we forgive them for not stopping by our billet and seeing us. I shall probably skip Buckingham Palace on my next trip to London.
 
Rumors abounded that prior to "D" day Hitler would strike at Bomber Command Airbases and especially Pathfinders with parachuted troops. As a precaution all hedges and concealment was removed from around the drome and we were issued rifles and Sten guns which we carried at all times during this period. Thank goodness it did not
happen because a half hours practice session on a Sten gun does not really qualify one for defence against trained troops.
 
At Gransden we started a section softball league which resulted in a squadron team being chosen. I saw some service on this team which resulted in me writing a 1980 anecdote called "Fastball, Fortresses and Food" here it is;
 
Being the only Canadian Squadron in Eight Group PFF which was located between U.S. Sth Air Corp at Bedford and the U.S. 9th Corp at Chelmsford we never missed a chance to play a game of fastball with the American lads and then make pigs of ourselves on their creamed canned peas and peaches and all sorts of goodies we never saw at any RAF drome in over four years. Their B-17 Flying Fortresses we were shown with much pride and we spoke many fine compliments to properly set the stage. We noted that the bomb doors could not cope with more than a 1000 lb bomb. Now our Lancasters were off limits to other than PFF types due to H2S etc… However we could take them out and stand them under the nose and open the bomb doors and watch their mouths drop open. They never really believed that an RAF twin engine Mosquito with two of a crew aboard could carry as large a bombload as their Fortresses with 13 men aboard. 
  
Glen and Sam Merrifield
​​  405 RCAF Squadron Memorial Window
St. Bartholomew's Church

Three light south facing window in St. Bartholomew’s in Great Gransden, Hunting-
donshire.
       
The 405 Royal Canadian (pathfinder) Squadron window was installed in 1989 .  
‘Let light perpetual shine upon them’ - this design is a memorial to the 900 men lost in bombing missions and represented as falling maple leaves.

ttp://www.glenncarterglass.com/architectural/architectural_glass_barts_3.html  
Our demonstration showed them that our "Heavies" could with ease carry 3 to 4 times as much as theirs. Took the sting out of the beating they usually gave us on the ball diamond.
 
In early June 1944 we all awaited the news that the second front had been opened. This day I was in Cambridge on day off and overheard a pilot from another drome telling another he was scheduled for a 4 a.m. takeoff, a very unusual hour in Bomber Command. On returning to camp I was informed our time was the same and so I told the assembled poker players that tomorrow was 'D' day. I was laughed at of course and when I went up for breakfast next morning nobody was talking about it so I assumed I had made a bad guess. On the shortcut bikepath to the drome from the mess, I met the overnite drome crews coming the other way and they had been listening to the radio and announced the invasion of the continent.
 
During our time at Gransden, Alex Sochowski, a Wolseley (Saskatchewan) boy, joined the squadron. Alex, a Flying Officer, flew as Navigator on Tomzaks crew in "M" for mother. The crew was lost but Alex survived the war as a POW.
 
The Fleming brothers, Ralph and Les, from Summerberry, a town eight miles from our home town Wolseley, joined the squadron at Pocklington and served through to Gransden with us. One was a fitter and one a rigger. Another Summerberry resident Don McQuaid, known as "Tex" around the squadron, came to us as a Squadron Leader after service as a pilot in Coastal Command and was soon promoted to Wing Commander as a Flight Commander. Don won the DSO & DFC and had over 30 ops to his credit when we returned to Canada in November 1944…
 
Fall 1944 brought War Bond time and we sent our ball team to local villages to play a game for the locals to spur the Bond Rally. We had our own for the first time too as the 1980 anecdote about "War Bonds" relates:
 
During '44 at Gransden Lodge when the availability of supplies were much improved someone felt that a show was needed to induce the patriotic spirit and get the lads to buy udar Bonds. We were much excited as we were told our Bombers would fly around in formation, something many of us in our fourth year in Bomber Command had never
seen. Now the supply angle in '44 allowed our drome to have a fighter stationed there for fighter affiliation exercises. What a far cry from the summer of 1940. Our formation flying was grand but would the Bonds bought at our drome pay for the petrol? Silly question... press on... very grand. Now the finale... the Lancasters all down safely, the Spitfire starts to beat up the drome to show some Fighter Command flying. About the middle of the runway on his second pass he got too low... chips flew from the end of his prop... he pulled up and got in safely. One advantage of a wooden prop that splintered.
Maybe we broke even financially... hope so.