Wireless Air Gunner  -  Jake Redinger (“Red”)
June 16, 1916 to October 11, 2004

Jake Redinger (Post WWII)

Red joined the RCAF in 1941 and trained as a Wireless Air Gunner. He was then sent to Edmonton, as a WAG on a base where Navigator’s were being trained and he flew with them. He was then transferred to the east coast to fly on Maritime Command aircraft, patrolling the East Coast. The crew that he was flying with was selected to fly in the Trans Atlantic Patrol which only required one WAG per crew. Red and the other WAG flipped a coin to see who would stay with the crew. Red lost the flip, but won in the end. The crew that he missed out on, was later killed in England.

After the war, Jake returned to the farm and in 1946, married Norma Johnson. They started a new life in the Duhamel area. Jake got a job driving a truck in Bashaw hauling coal, hogs and much more.

With hard work and a few breaks, he became a shareholder in “Hameisters Ltd”, a trucking and heavy equipment company. Eventually the trucking side of the company shut down. His partners retired and Jake now owned the company. He would be around Caterpillar’s and heavy equipment for the remainder of his working life, building oil leases and clearing and breaking land for farmers around Bashaw.

In 1971, Jakes oldest son Andy was taken in a tragic accident. The news would rock the family forever, never leaving things quite the same.

In 1974, Jake and Norma relocated to Sylvan Lake when Lyle Walker Construction bought out his business. It was the only way Lyle could get Jake to manage the Oilfield Construction arm of his business, which Jake managed until he retired in 1982.

Don, like myself, had been trying to locate Red. Don was able to contact someone who had a record of all the Indigenous people who served in WWII. The records had Red’s address and phone number. Don phoned Red and to his surprise, Red was working for a road construction company and they were doing roadwork just past Don’s farm!

When we all heard that, we immediately arranged a reunion, wives included, which we had at Alvin’s home in Tara, Ontario. For 3 days, we a had a really good time and we were also able to meet Red’s wife, Norma.

With retirement, Jake and Norma moved to acreage at Caslan, on land that was part of Norma’s parents homestead. When the acreage work became too much, Jake and Norma sadly relocated to Lamont.

At age 86, Jake was diagnosed with stomach cancer. They performed surgery and a few weeks later, Jake was home walking around again. A few months later, he lost his wife Norma to cancer, after 56 years of marriage.

His family was able to take Jake to Nanton, Alberta to see the Lancaster Museum. They went twice in two years.

In his final days in hospital, as his health deteriorated, an incident happened. Jake had trouble breathing and was coughing out of control. The nurse asked him how he was doing. He smiled and replied “Wonderful”!

That would be our “Red” …   

The Original Six Men Of Our Bomber Crew
By Ron Moyes, July 2020

Pilot:                                  Donald Walkey
Navigator:                         Hugh Ferguson
Bomb Aimer:                    Stewart Farmer
Wireless Air Gunner:       Jake Redinger
Mid Upper Gunner:          Alvin Kuhl
Tail Gunner:                     Ronald Moyes 

Around June 10th, 1944, we all ended up at the #82 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Ossington, Nottinghamshire, UK. We were asked to assemble in front of a hanger in groups - Pilots, Navigators, Bomb Aimers, Wireless Air Gunners and Gunners. 

The Pilots were told to go and pick their crews for Operations. Don went over and asked Hugh Ferguson if he’d like to be on his crew. Hugh said “Sure, OK”. Don told him to go pick the rest of the crew. So Hugh asked Stewart Farmer, then Jake Redinger, Alvin Kuhl and then Ron Moyes. We then met Don and he said Welcome to the crew and you too “Shorty” (referring to Ron). The name “Shorty” stuck with Ron right to present day. 

For the next three months, while in the training unit, we were flying on Wellington aircraft (twin engines) and practiced Navigation flights, Bombing and Gunnery flights.  At the end of the OTU training we were transferred to Station Dalton (not a flying station) for a course on ‘Survival and Evasion”, in case we ever happened to get shot down on Operations. this course was about 10 days long. 

We were then transferred to a “Conversion Unit” to transfer from twin engine aircraft to four engine bombers. These aircraft were the MKIII, Halifax Aircraft. This station was RCAF Station Topcliffe, Yorkshire which had been a pre-war station. Here we were assigned an Engineer to help the Pilot. His name was Durkin from Ontario. He had just arrived from Canada with only about twelve hours of flying time. After a few weeks at Topcliffe, we were transferred to 429 Bomber Squadron at Leeming Yorkshire, all part of the RCAF 6 Bomber Group. 

During the next twelve Bombing and Mining flights, we found Durkin lacked professionalism  and he was fired from the crew. I don’t think we would have survived our tour with him as our Engineer. We had the use of a spare Engineer for the next three Operations, before we transferred to 405 Pathfinder Squadron. Here we were assigned an Engineer who had the DFM Medal and had completed a tour of Operations. He was F/O Skebo of Winnipeg, Manitoba. We were also assigned an additional Bomb aimer, as we had been selected as a ‘Visual Crew”, one Bomb aimer to operate the Radar, the other the bomb sight. He had just completed one tour of Operations with 630 Squadron. His name was F/O Bill Horseman (RAF). 

The Visual Crew would go into the target right after the Master Bomber (who is in charge of the Operation), The “Blind Crews” with just one Bomb aimer, would follow at intervals to keep the target marked throughout the raid. Being up front like that meant that the Flak was very heavy. Flak is when the anti aircraft shells explode and pieces of shrapnel fly all over. That’s really frightening, you see right ahead and around you, all these shells are bursting and there’s no defence from them. As it hits the aircraft, it sounds like someone is throwing stones at you. 

Another scary thing was when we were stacked up more or less, starting at about 17,000 feet to 20,000 feet and the Engineer takes his position looking out and up above with his head in the Astro Dome of the aircraft. He must watch for any aircraft above, which might be above with the bomb doors open. He must immediately tell the Pilot so that he can turn to get out of the way so that you don’t get a load of bombs on you. This did happen. Not to us, but to several other aircraft. 

Search lights are another problem, they are blinding especially if they cone you. That’s when several lights get on you and that invites fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft shells. 

You never knew how your aircraft under-carriage survived the anti-aircraft firing until you landed, then anything is possible. After the last operation, we had a trip to take, a trip to Holland. Bomber Command was picked to drop food supplies to the people starving in Holland. The Germans had said that they wouldn’t shoot at the aircraft. But we weren’t sure. 

The war ended May 8, 1945, Bomber Command was then asked to help bring the POW’s back home. 405 Squadron flew to Lubeck, Germany and picked up POW’s, many of them had been on the long forced march from their POW camps. On the way home from Lubeck, Don flew the aircraft over the city of London (strictly against regulations) and many of the POWs wept as we few over. Of course Don got in trouble for doing so. 

The people of the village put barrels of beer and food on the Village Green. Everyone had a wonderful night. The next day, we were informed that our Squadron was one of eight Squadrons heading back to Canada, then over to the Pacific Theatre. They asked for volunteers. Our crew discussed the situation and Don, Stew, Red and Ron decided to volunteer. Fergy and Alvin, each with children, decided to go home to their wives and family. 

The Squadron was then sent by train up to Linton, Yorkshire, to train on the Canadian built MK10 Lancaster and fly them back to Canada, which we did. Upon returning to Canada, we were given thirty days leave, then told to report to Greenwood, NS and await transport back to England to pickup the new Lincoln Bombers and fly to the Pacific war. 

The Pacific war ended in August 1945 and we were discharged. Stew’s wife, Pearl came to Greenwood, NS and we were all pleased to meet her. They’d rented an apartment nearby. Don was the last to go home. Years later, we got together for reunions. 

Bomb Aimer  -  Stewart Farmer (“Stew”) 
June 4, 1922 to May 28, 2013

Stewart  Farmer (Post WWII)

In 1945, Stew with Don, Red and Ron, had volunteered to go to the Pacific Theatre war with our Squadron. After a months leave in Canada, we ended back in Greenwood, Nova Scotia. Stew had Pearl come down and they rented an apartment a short distance away. The war ended in August and we were all discharged.

Stew went home to Sault Ste Marie and bought 40 acres of land near his father’s farm. But Stew was not a farmer and soon gave that up. He was like the rest of us, trying to settle down. Stew then went to work in the Industrial Engineering Department of the Algoma Steal Company until his retirement.

In the 1970’s, Stew and Alvin thought about having a reunion and invited Ron to join them. Ron had joined the RCMP at that time and couldn’t make it. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Don & Dorothy, Alvin & Fran, Stew & Pearl and Ron & Marg were able to get together in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, enjoying a good time at Stew’s home. Don had come east towing a big home trailer. When he drove in, Dorothy stepped out with her arm in a sling. She had fallen in the trailer and broken her arm. Stew took us to his garage and showed us an airplane he was building. When built, he sold it, having never flown it.

We had another great reunion at Alvin’s place in Tara, Ontario. This time Red & Norma joined us. Finally, we were all together again and had a wonderful time.

Four years later 405 Squadron had a reunion out in Kelowna, BC. 

Mid-Upper Gunner  -  Alvin Kuhl
February 26, 1923 to March 28, 2000

 Alvin (‘AL”) Kuhl  (Post WWII)

In September 1945, we were discharged in Moncton, New Brunswick and said our goodbyes. Al went back to the farm in Tara, Ontario, where his wife and son Bob were waiting for him.

Fran’s brother, Bob, I believe his name was Bob, was in the RCAF and stationed in London, Ontario, with 420 Squadron with Ron. Strange how the world seems to travel around.

At home in Tara, Al and Fran settled down on the farm, raising some cattle. Al and Fran continued raising their family, a daughter and three sons.

Throughout these years, Al bought more farmland around Tara. He was also instrumental in building a large cattle auction barn and then helped in the community skating rink. Al and Fran travelled to Florida and he once told Ron that he liked Las Vegas. Al liked gambling, when on the Squadron  in wartime. Al liked to play craps with the dice and he often won.

We had our big reunion at his home after he moved from the farm. This was the first and only reunion with the full crew and their wives. His son, Bob arranged to take each of us up in his small airplane to show us around the area. We all really enjoyed that. 

Tail Gunner  -  Ronald Moyes “Shorty”
Born: February 11, 1926     

Ron (“Shorty”) Moyes  (Post WWII) 

Ron was discharged in Moncton, New Brunswick, September 19, 1945. He returned to his home in Coquitlam, British Columbia. First he found a job selling Health & Accident Insurance. After a month of that, he gave the job up. Then he got a job working for Pacific Veneer Company in the Boiler Department that made the steam that ran all of the machinery. In August 1946, the plant went on strike, Ron quit. Actually Ron was very depressed and rejoined the RCAF in Vancouver as a Leading Aircrafts Man. His first transfer was to Western Air Command Headquarters, in Vancouver, then to Station Patricia Bay near Victoria. He was waiting to go on an Armament Course back East. In December Ron got orders to report to Station Mountain View, Ontario near Trenton by January 2nd, 1947. 

The Armament Courses started in August 1946 and a new course started every month. These courses consisted about 90% of ex-aircrew, mostly ex Officers or Senior NCO’s. In September, personnel were reduced to lower ranks. From Flight Lieutenants to NCO’s were reduced to Leading Air-craftsmen, about the lowest rank. On Ron’s course of 22 students, 18 were ex-aircrew. Eight had completed a tour of Operations, Flight Lieutenant Jim Dale, a pilot with DFC and had completed a tour. Flying Officer Fritz Chrysler, a pilot on Mosquito Pathfinder aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft and was a POW for over a year. Another pilot flew Hurricane’s up in the Aleutian Islands. Another air-gunner, his aircraft was damaged over Berlin, the crew bailed out over Denmark, he was able to find his way to the coast and a fisherman too him to Sweden where he became a POW. Another gunner who had shot down two German fighters had the DFM. They were all a bunch of great guys. They were together for the year and then were dispersed all over the country. 

During this time, at Mountain View, Ron met his future wife, Margaret Winters. They were married on Valentine’s Day, 1948.  From Trenton, in 1951, he was transferred to 420 Mustang Squadron in London, Ontario. In 1952, Margaret was expecting their first child, who was supposed to arrive the first week in January 1953. In November Ron got a transfer to 410 Squadron in North Luffenham, UK. and was to report to Halifax, NS on the 15th of January. Ron asked for a postponement, but was refused. Their son was born in January 1953. Ron got a message that the ship he was to sail on had caught fire and the date was changed to February 15th. They decided that Marg would go with the baby to her parents in Belleville, Ontario. After a year in the UK, Ron returned and his son was walking. 

After a short stay in Trenton, Ron and family were transferred to Camp Borden (Barrie, Ontario) as an instructor. Ron and about five others spent from 1956 to 1962 instructing on Explosive Surveillance and Bomb and Explosive Disposal. In 1958 their daughter was born. In 1962 the family was transferred to 3 Wing, Zweibrucken, Germany to a CF104 Nuclear Bomb Station. Ron had just bought a new car and decided to have it shipped overseas rather than sell it. That was a great idea, as the family travelled extensively in Europe, from Italy, Austria, right up to Scotland. 

Arriving at 3 Wing in July 1962, the station was waiting for the arrival of the CF104’s. By fall, President Kennedy of the USA, found out that the Soviet’s were putting missiles in Cuba. NATO was on High Alert as they were afraid that the Soviet’s were going to invade Germany. The CF104’s arrived and the crews were practicing loading and unloading 2000 pound nuclear bombs on the aircraft. Ron was given a crew of five, just in case they did invade. Ron and his crew were to destroy the runways using 10, 1000 pound bombs, plus destroy all communication systems above and below ground. The families were to be bussed to France. 

The crisis finally quieted down. In 1966, Ron and family returned to Ottawa, National Defence Headquarters in the Directorate of Ammunition. In 1974, Ron heard of an opening in the Crime Detection Laboratory of the RCMP Firearms Section. Ron applied and in December 1974, Ron retired from the RCAF and the next day was sworn in as a Civilian Member of the RCMP. After 15 years in the RCMP, Ron finally retired after a total of 46 years service. 

Ron, Marg and family toured Canada, USA and the UK extensively until 2018, when Marg’s health deteriorated. Marg passed away February 19, 2020 after 72 years of marriage. Ron is currently living independently in an apartment at the Perley-Rideau Veteran’s Health Care Centre in Ottawa. 

Navigator  -  Hugh Ferguson
October 13, 1917 to June 18, 1996

Hugh Ferguson (Post WWII) 

In 1945, Hugh returned to his family in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He then left to visit his brother in Josephine, Ontario. Hugh found work in an Iron Mine there. When the Iron Mine closed down, Hugh and his family moved to Wawa, Ontario, where the Algoma Iron Mine is located. Hugh started working there and became Superintendent of Ore Preparation, until his retirement. During this time, Hugh became Reeve of Wawa. As such, he and a couple of businessmen went to Toronto to see if it was possible to get a road built up to Wawa. 

In about 1960 or 61, Hugh and Peggy came down to Camp Borden to visit Ron and Marg. They came down part way by train, then borrowed a car and came for a visit. Hugh said “you’d better come up and visit us”. The next year, the highway to Wawa was  completed, so we went for a visit. A few years later, 1979, I believe, we visited Hugh and Peggy again. At this time we met their daughter Joyce and grandson Aiden. Hugh and Peggy were living in a new home and he was retired. 

In the 1980’s, Peggy and Hugh came down to Stew Farmer’s for the first crew reunion. All of us except Red and Norma were there. We hadn’t located Red yet. 

Reunion - Tara, Ontario (same order as wartime photo)

Pilot  -  Donald Whitfield Walkey
March 31, 1923  to  July 31, 2002          

Donald Walkey (Post WWII)

After discharge in late 1945, Don worked for World Wide Aviation, ferrying Beechcraft aircraft to Buenos Aires, South America, with friend Ray Simpson. Ray went missing in the Caribbean on one of these flights. Don quit working for the Airline and went home to Alberta. 

Don was like the rest of us and didn’t know quite what he’d do. He had married Dorothy in 1947 and baby Carol came along. First he bought a gas station and then went into car sales. In 1949, Ron and Marg drove out to Vancouver and had a short visit with Don. He was quite possibly living at his mothers at the time. He was working at a gas station and we didn’t stay very long, as we wanted to reach Lake Louise before dark.  

In 1951, Don rejoined the RCAF and was transferred to Trenton’s 6RD. Ron was stationed at Trenton as he had re-enlisted in 1946 and the two men got to see each other. Don was transferred to Clinton, Ontario, then up to CEPE in Edmonton which offered Cold Weather Flying. Don’s son Douglas was born in 1955. That same year, Don went to the UK to the Beverley Aircraft Company and brought back a plane for Cold Weather Testing. In 1960, Don was transferred to Summerside, PEI, flying Neptune P2V Aircraft. He was transferred from there to 407 Squadron at Comox, BC and was flying P2V7’s. He then became an Air Cadet Liaison Officer in Central BC. In 1967, Don was transferred to Cold Lake, Alberta and flew several different aircraft there. Don ended his Service Career in 1970. 

Retiring from the service, Don went into farming, buying land in Raven, Alberta, just west of Spruce View. His former high school math teacher brought him 2 Charolais cows for a start and the rest is history, as the herd grew. When Ron and Marg with the family went to Vancouver around 1980, they stopped and visited Don and Dorothy at the farm, and also met Cathy. 

Don, like myself, had been trying to locate Red. Don was able to contact someone who had a record of all the Indigenous people who served in WWII. The records had Red’s address and phone number. Don phoned Red and to his surprise, Red was working for a road construction company and they were doing roadwork just past Don’s farm!

When we all heard that, we immediately arranged a reunion, wives included, which we had at Alvin’s home in Tara, Ontario. For 3 days, we a had a really good time and we were also able to meet Red’s wife, Norma. 

A few years later, 405 Squadron had a reunion in Kelowna, BC. We decided to join them. Unfortunately Ron’s brother-in-law passed away and the funeral was on the Saturday of the reunion. That was the last crew reunion.