- No. 429 (Bison) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War -
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No. 429 (Bison) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force
No. 429 (Bison) Squadron was formed at East Moor in Yorkshire on 7 November 1942 flying Vickers Wellington Mk IIIs as part of No. 6 Group, operating by night over Europe. In August 1943 429 Squadron moved to Leeming and re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk I these were replaced in March 1944, with the more powerful Halifax Mk III. In March 1945 No. 429 re-equipped with Avro Lancaster Mk Is and Mk IIIs, and used these briefly on operations before the war in Europe ended. They then undertook POW repatriation duties until the squadron disbanded at Leeming on 31 May 1946.
Airfields at which No. 429 Squadron were based:
- East Moor.
- Skipton on Swale. (Detachment)
27th Jan 1943 429 Squadron Wellington lost
5th Jan 1945 Night Ops
13th Feb 1945 Night Ops
24th Mar 1944 Berlin Targeted
30th Mar 1944 Aircraft Lost
13th Jan 1945 429 Squadron Halifax lost
2nd Feb 1945 Halifax Lost
17th Feb 1945 Halifax Lost
20th Feb 1945 Halifax Lost
21st Feb 1945 Night Ops
23rd Feb 1945 Night Ops
27th Feb 1945 Night Ops
2nd Mar 1945 Night Ops
3rd Mar 1945 Night Ops
25th Mar 1945 Night Ops
8th Apr 1945 Night Ops
13th Apr 1945 Night Ops
18th Apr 1945 Night Ops
22nd Apr 1945 Night Ops
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
No. 429 (Bison) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Bole Jimmy. F/Sgt
- Carr Johnnie.
- Conroy Robert Fitzgerald . F/O. (d.24th Mar 1944)
- Dykes G. Sgt (d.9th Oct 1940)
- Findlater Harold Alfred.
- Findlater Harold A..
- Freer Arthur James. F/O
- Gardiner Allan Thomas. WO/2 (d.26th November 1943)
- Gardiner George W.. F/Lt.
- Hannan Gordon Alexander. Sgt.
- Lamb Edward Walter. LAC.
- McLean Malcolm Neil. P/O.
- McLean Malcolm Neil. P/O.
- Wade. George . P/O
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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Harold Alfred Findlater 429 SqdMy Father, Harold Alfred Findlater, was interred at Stalag Luft 111 after being shot down over Dusseldorf on the 23rd of April 1944.
He was in the RCAF and came from Vancouver BC. The crew were
My son & I are trying to research Dad’s war history and I have found a photo of marked ‘British Columbians - taken 20 May 1944 at Stalag Luft 111, Sagan, Germany’. My Father is on this photo but I don’t recognise any of the other 28 POW’s that are also on the picture.
- F/O E.L.Howland USAAF,
- WO2 D.S.Brillinger RCAF,
- Sgt E.A.Goss,
- WO2 H.A.Findlater RCAF,
- F/S H.W.Doiron RCAF,
- Sgt R.Chamberlain RCAF,
- Sgt Y.O.Young RCAF,
- Sgt W.R.Adlard RCAF.Sheryl Crossland
Harold A. Findlater 429 SquadronMy Dad, Harold A. Findlater, flew in Halifax aircraft out of Leeming in 1943 with RCAF 429 Squadron, he was shot down over Dusseldorft on 22 April 1943 in aircraft LV963 and became a POW in Stalag Luft III. We brought my Dad & Stepmum up to Leeming in, I think, 1990 and I remember the staff showing Dad some details about himself in a book, but I don’t remember any of the details. How can I find out more about this please? My brother and I also came to Leeming to scatter some of his ashes, at the end of the runway, when he passed away in 2002. The staff at Leeming were very kind to us on both occasions.
My Mother was in the WAAF and also served at Leeming, and met my Dad there. They married after Dad was repatriated to the UK when the POW’s were liberated. Her name is Joyce Wilson later Findlater. I think she was attached to 427 Squadron.
Any information that anyone can give me would be much appreciated.Sheryl Crossland
F/O. Robert Fitzgerald Conroy 429 Sqn. (d.24th Mar 1944)Article from the Halifax Chronical Herald, 2 June 2012 about F.O. Robert Conroy, RCAF 429 Sqn.
In four weeks, Elizabeth McMichael will travel from Cornwallis Park to a park next to Buckingham Palace, to watch the Queen dedicate a memorial to the men of Bomber Command. The thousands of flight crew members whose lives were lost in the Second World War will be represented at the dedication by their descendants. But in that huge crowd, McMichael may in one way stand alone. She has looked into the eyes of the German pilot responsible for the death of a loved one.
Long after dark on the night of March 24, 1944, Capt. Heinz Roekker of the German Luftwaffe climbed into his Junkers Ju 88 twin-engine fighter and took off to do battle with the hundreds of Allied bombers streaming into the skies over Berlin. By the time he returned to base two hours later, he had shot down four planes, including a Halifax-class bomber piloted by 23-year-old Robert Fitzgerald Conroy of Middle Stewiacke.
When the people of the village near the field where Conroy’s plane crashed got there the next morning, they found him dead in his seat, wearing his Air Force uniform and a white sweater, with his head leaning forward as if he were asleep. He had stayed at the controls while the other six members of the crew, who survived and were taken to German PoW camps, bailed out. It was the second time Conroy had been shot down. A year earlier, the Wellington he flew went down in Holland. That time, Conroy was the only survivor, and over a period of three months, the Underground spirited him to Gibraltar, from where he made his way back to England.
Conroy was Elizabeth McMichael’s uncle. “He came home on leave when he was released from hospital in England,” McMichael, now 71, remembers. “It was quite a story. He came home on leave for a month, and at that time I was about 3. My mom was his older sister and he was visiting us at home. I remember him very clearly because he was just Hollywood handsome, and had a beautiful tenor singing voice. He used to carry me around and sing to me, and I remember that.” Conroy, known as Gerald, was the second-youngest in a family of 13, and one of four brothers to serve in the war. He had worked in the woods, so at first the Army assigned him to the Forestry Corps. But he wanted to be in the Air Force and eventually was transferred and trained as a pilot. “They were very pleased with that, very proud of him,” McMichael says of Conroy’s family. “I think the thing that sticks in my mind is there was this picture, this handsome face on the wall, all my life. Each one of my aunts and uncles I went to visit, there was this same handsome picture. So he was kept alive to me that way, and once in a while there’d be some story about Gerald, often to do with his singing.”
Six decades after she last saw her uncle, McMichael was at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Halifax with Alex Morrison, who would soon become her husband. When the ceremony was over, she took off her poppy and put it on the cenotaph. “Alex said ‘Why did you do that?’ and I told him it was because of my uncle, who was killed during the Second World War,” she says. “I had never told Alex this story, so that led to me talking about it.” Morrison is a military historian and has several contacts in Germany. Through a retired general, the couple soon found themselves on the outskirts of a village near Leipzig, where Conroy, with more than 20 missions to his credit, had died. “The field where Gerald crashed, near midnight, is still a bare field,” Morrison says. “Eyewitnesses were able to tell us exactly where in the field the plane crashed. One of the engines fell off, and they showed that spot to us. “His rank was flying officer, he was in 429 Squadron and he was just about to turn 24.” As Morrison’s research divulged more information, the couple made two more trips to Germany, culminating, incredibly, in a meeting with Roekker. “We met him in Germany two years ago. He’s 90,” McMichael says. “I’d had a few years to process the information, after we made contact with him, so I was looking forward to meeting him. “When I actually saw him, I felt kind of sorry for him, because he was an old man, and he looked a little nervous. I thought about the courage it must have taken for him to come and meet us. “The first thing he did was put his arm around my shoulder and say, ‘I didn’t mean to kill your uncle.’ It was a very emotional moment for each of us. I said to him, ‘But you didn’t kill my uncle, you were a young man doing your job, as he was, and you just happened to shoot down the plane he was in.’ It was really quite a beautiful moment.” Friends of Morrison from Germany helped with translation and helped Roekker feel more comfortable about the meeting. The group had lunch and spent a couple of hours together.
McMichael will think about Roekker when she watches the Queen dedicate the Bomber Command memorial, but mostly she’ll think about the handsome young man with the beautiful singing voice. “It’s really the first official thank you to, and recognition of, all these people who were in Bomber Command,” she says. “Having the Bomber Command recognized and honoured, that hasn’t really been done. And it’s time that it was, that we really say thank you to these young men who gave their lives.”Jack Ouellette
F/O Arthur James Freer 429 (Bison) SquadronI volunteered for aircrew service in the RAF and served with ITW Torquay followed by technical Training at St. Athan South Wales. Commenced flying at Wombleton 1666HCU with a Canadian RCAF crew captained by F/O J.M.C (Jack) Wade DFC. The crew completed 33 ops with 429 (Bison) Squadron at Leeming Yorks in 1944.
The crew returned to Canada soon afterwards, but I was retrained as a Signals Officer and on completion was posted to the Far East. We were flown in a "Liberator" from Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire to Castel Benito (Tripoli) thence to Karachi via Cairo and Habbaniya, Iraq. On arrival at Karachi we were told that no Signal Officers were required there but that teams were required to set up and operate RAF Post to improve the transit of Forces mail to and from the U.K. With the end of hostilities in the Far East servicemen and women were keen to return home and morale was at a very low level. Initially, I served in Bombay and in Calcutta at the time of the race problems following the partition of India and Pakistan which was very unpleasant indeed. My next posting in India was to AHQ New Delhi and finally back to Bombay and repatriation to the U.K on SS Moultan.Jim Freer
P/O George "Geordie " Wade. 24 Operation Training Unit
I Flew With The Canadians
I was called up into the RAF from Durham University Air Squadron on 9th May 1942 as an aircrew trainee aged 19½ years of age, and spent three weeks of induction at ACRC London living in Avenue Close, St John’s Wood. There followed three weeks in the Metropole Hotel in Brighton before posting to No 9 EFTS, Ansty, Warwickshire for the aircrew grading course. This involved 12 hours dual instruction in DH82A “Tiger Moth” aircraft in which we did “the whole business” of flying, up to spins and recovery from spin. I absolutely loved it but I failed to go solo.
From there we went to Heaton Park, Manchester where we lived in small ridge tents awaiting our new gradings. I was to become a Bomb Aimer (officially Air Bomber).
After seven weeks, many of us were sent to Marine Court, St Leonards on Sea (9½ hours by train) to wait for posting to training units. I was on the 12th floor and lifts were not operating! I became very fit going up and down the stairs several times a day for four weeks.
The building was attacked twice by cross-channel Me109 and FW190 fighter bombers and on the second occasion it was slightly damaged, so we went back to Heaton Park via Harrogate (9 hours). One week later we travelled to Gourock (10 hours by train) to board RMS Queen Mary. There were 18 to a cabin and only 2 meals a day. These were meals like pre-war food because these troopships stocked up in the USA. We had actual white bread (unlike the National Loaf at home) and sausages with meat in them!
On board we could buy plenty of Coke and chocolate and cigarettes were 2/6d for 200. After landing at Boston, Mass, we took the train up to Moncton, NB through the brilliant autumn colours of New England. 4 days later it was a CNR train journey across Canada via Lake Superior and the prairies to No 5 Bombing and Gunnery School at Dafoe, Sask. On completing that course we were posted to No 1 Central Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba on New Year’s Eve 1942. There we did cross-country flights (map reading and bombing for me) in temperatures at night as low as -40ºC. The engines of the Avro Ansons had to have their oil diluted with petrol to facilitate starting in those freezing conditions.
There were individual ice crystals falling from the sky and the Northern Lights were spectacular. Completion of that course saw us on Wings parade and promoted to Sergeant. Then it was CPR train back to Moncton with a stopover at Montreal. At Moncton I was promoted to Pilot Officer and given $180 for kitting out (at T. Eaton Co). Soon afterwards it was train down to New York to board RMS Queen Elizabeth for the trip back to the Clyde. This time the cabin accommodation was the same as on the trip out but being an officer, I had meals in the first class saloon served by stewards. Both trips across the Atlantic were by Southern latitudes to avoid the U-boat packs in the North.
Back in the UK there was more bombing, gunnery, astro-navigation, map reading and signals at No 1 (O) AFU at Wigtown near Newton Stewart in the South West of Scotland. Then more of the same at No 24 OTU at Honeybourne, Gloucestershire where crews were formed.
I crewed up with Sgt RC Reinelt (Pilot), Sgt “Johnny” ARW Hardes (Nav), Sgt DH Williams (W/Op A/G) and RCAF Sgt G Dykes (A/G). After that it was a move to 6 Group RCAF, starting at 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit at Topcliffe where we trained on old MKI Halifaxes and on 16th September 1943, I celebrated my 21st birthday. We went on to RCAF Squadron 429 at Leeming having picked up a F/Eng Sgt JE Peppercorn and a mid-upper gunner RCAF Sgt “Curly” Shields making a crew of seven.
Back Row Left to Right: Sgt DE Carruthers, M-U Gunner RCAF. Sgt DH Williams, W/Op A/G RAF. Sgt ARW Hardes, Nav RAF. P/O RC Reinelt, pilot RAF.
Crew of Q Queenie at Skipton on Swale, 433 Squadron April 1944
Front Row Left to Rig: Sgt JE Peppercorn, FL Eng RAF. P/O G Dykes, Rear Gunner RCAF. F/O GM Wade, Bomb Aimer RAF.
At 429 Squadron (Motto : FORTUNAE NIHIL – nothing to chance) led by W/Cdr Patterson DFC (known to us as “2650 + 4” because of his insistence on such revs and boost for economical cruising), we flew Halifax MK II’s. Although we were based at Leeming we actually flew from Skipton-on-Swale.
When we, as a crew, had done four ops we were posted to Skipton as part of the nucleus of five crews to start 433 Squadron (Motto : QUI S’Y FROTTE S’Y PIQUE” = whoever rubs himself there will be pricked there) – the Porcupine Squadron. One crew piloted by RCAF P/O Chris Nielsen (nicknamed “the mad Dane”) had done 15 ops and so were very experienced.
At Skipton we flew Halifax Mk III’s under the leadership of W/C Clive Sinton DFS, a superb CO, and the aircraft were totally trustworthy and good performers. In a tragic accident in late December 1943 an aircraft piloted by F/O PR Humphries was taking off at Skipton and crashed on to our aircraft which was parked at dispersal. The five crew members and two ground crew members were all killed and both planes were destroyed in the resulting blaze. Since I was the only officer in our crew at the time, I was appointed officer in charge of the escort party at the funeral of these seven men. The funeral took place in Harrogate on Christmas Eve which was a very frosty day. It was a truly miserable occasion. I cannot imagine what was put in the coffins since both planes were reduced to ashes. Normally each carried 1800 gallons of petrol plus ammunition for the guns, and some flares.
I trained on H2S and Gee, while the Squadron was expanding, and my task apart from bombing was to take and log fixes every two minutes when possible, sitting alongside the navigator. I assisted the pilot with engine controls on take off and landing and took over from him occasionally especially on training flights and returns from operations. I was also expected to be emergency pilot as well as deputising for other crew members, should the need arise.
At an early stage at 433 Squadron “Curly” Shields went back to Canada and we were joined by RCAF Sgt Doug Carruthers as Mid-Upper Gunner. Three of the five crews who formed the nucleus of 433 Squadron were soon lost on ops leaving Chris Nielsen’s crew and ours. Sadly Chris and his crew were shot down just short of the target on their 27th op. and at least one of the crew, F/Eng P/O Christopher Panton, was killed. This was the disastrous raid on Nuremberg (30th/31st March 1944) when 95 aircraft were lost. It was nearly 96 because we were attacked by a Me210 just after leaving the target. We lost an engine and two fuel tanks when we were hit by 3 cannon shells which resulted in a fire in the wing. We were able to make the trip back to Englnd landing at Manston in Kent. This was our 15th operation.
The skipper was commissioned and received an immediate DFC. The rest of the crew were commissioned later and then the Navigator and both Gunners received DFC’s.
Almost half of our raids lasted between 6 and 8¼ hours and the rest were from about 3 to 6 hours. After D-day most operations were daylight ops to Northern France. The sky seemed full of aircraft all around, which we had not been aware of in the dark.
Instead of the full 30 ops for a tour, I was allowed to finish on 29 having been in Station Sick Quarters (when the rest of the crew went to Berlin) because of a very bad cold! This was not really surprising seeing that we lived in cold Nissen huts, the crudest accommodation we could have had, other than tents.
Incidentally, Chris Nielsen’s F/Eng Christopher Panton, who was killed, has been commemorated by the establishment of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre by his two younger brothers, near Spilsby, Lincolnshire.
Also it may not be well known that only one crew out of three completed a tour of 30 ops without being shot down or lost in some other way.
Having completed my tour in June 1944 I was posted to a number of OTU’s as bombing instructor then went on to BDU, Feltwell and CBE Marham in Norfolk. Marham was the last of my active service stations before demob in August 1946. I went back to University to finish my degree in Electrical Engineering, extremely relieved to have survived my time in the RAF and glad to have flown with the Canadians.
Sgt G Dykes 429 Sqd. (d.9th Oct 1940)Sgt Dykes trained as an Air Gunner with 1659 HCU and was posted to 429 Sqd. He flew with Geordie Wade.
F/Lt. George W. Gardiner 429 SquadronMy dad, George Gardiner was on his 23 mission on July 18th 1944 when his plane was hit from falling bombs from above Aircraft Halifax LW127. Went down 3 killed 3 POW's and 1 made it back to friendly lines. Phil Brunet was in the same camp and bunk house.Greg Gardiner
LAC. Edward Walter Lamb 429 SquadronMy father Edward Lamb served in the R.A.F. from September 1939 to January 1952. He died when I was two years old. This, and his R.A.F. service record and the attached photographs, are all I know about him.Andrew Lamb
Johnnie Carr 429 (Bison) Sqdn.I have a picture of my great uncle Johnnie Carr and the rest of the crew in 429 Squadron, who I would like to identify.MacRae-Barry
WO/2 Allan Thomas "Barney" Gardiner 429 Sqdn. (d.26th November 1943)WO/2 Allan Thomas Gardiner was shot down on a mission to Frankfurt on the night of 25/26th November 1943.
F/Sgt Jimmy "Jock" Bole 429 SquadronJimmy Bole(s) was my uncle. He flew as a W/Op/AG in Whitleys in 10 Sqn RAF and Wellingtons with 429 Sqn RCAF. He survived three flying accidents, baling out of an aircraft over the English Channel, a serious crash at East Moor in March 1943 and a further incident. He was awarded the DFM for service with 429 Squadron, Gazetted on 13th September 1943. He received his commission to the rank of P/O on probation (emergency) on 20th May 1943, rising to F/O on probation (war subs) on 20th November 1943 and F/Lt (war subs) on 20th May 1945. He transferred to the South African Air Force after the War and in the rank of Lt flying with No.1 Squadron he was sadly killed on 14th March 1952 flying in Harvard 7023 that crashed near Bryanston, South Africa just prior to being posted to Korea.Angus Mathie
Sgt. Gordon Alexander Hannan 429 SquadronGordon Hannan was a tail gunner on Halifax and Lancaster bombers. He served from November 1944 until the end of the war.Michael J Hannan
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