What Uncle Jack Did for Me - and You  (12.11.10)

I didn’t mean to be presumptuous when I came up with this title to my Remembrance Day essay.  My Uncle Jack wasn’t unique in what he gave up for me - for us.  Over the decades many have lost their lives in battles all over the world.  Will it ever end?

As it is for others who have lost family members during wars, Remembrance Day is always a sad day for me.  It is on this day each year that my thoughts about family losses in war are intensified.

On this day each year, I pull out Jack's diary and go over those last days of his life. One day, he and his very best friend, Phil Bridgeman from Calgary (he called him Bridgy), were making the best of living in England during the war and the next day they were gone - forever.

This year, I thought I would give you a chance to read those entries from his diary.  Jack was a navigator/bomb-aimer in a Lancaster in the RAF 61st Squadron stationed in Syerston, Nottinghamshire, England.  He was an excellent tennis player and loved riding his bicycle everywhere.

________________________

Prior to September, 1942, he had a scary incident.  On May 30, he was part of a thousand-bomber raid on Cologne.  During the return trip, he escaped serious injury when his plane was forced to make a belly landing on the coast of England.

From Jack's diary:
(Note:  NFT means 'Night Flying Training')


At 8:20 P.M., 10 September 1942, Jack’s Lancaster took off from Syerston on a raid to Dusseldorf and Neuss in Germany.  The pilot of Jack’s aircraft was Sgt. M.C. Davies, an English boy from Shropshire, who at 19 years of age was the youngest RAF pilot killed in 1942.  Their Lancaster was among the 478 other aircraft from many other stations that took part in the raid. The Pathfinder planes successfully marked the targets - the industrial factories.  Fifty-two factories were hit and put out of production for varying periods of time. Thirty-three planes were shot down that night including Jack’s. His Lancaster was shot down near Cologne, Germany, on their return flight.

On September 14th, Jack’s mother received this telegram.

He had been killed three months before his thirty-second birthday.  

There is a stained glass window in the First Presbyterian Church in Regina, in honour of all the members of the church that were lost in that war.  Jack was one of them.

                                                                                                                                                

Telegram of JLB loss-jpeg