By Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner
Many Canadians flew in the Royal Air Force during World War II, but whether they were Canadian, or British didn’t matter; they were airmen. They flew out of British airports, across the English Channel to add support to the ground troops in Europe.
I know personally of a pilot, in Parkhill, Ontario, who left his leg in a burning spitfire. I also witnessed a crash of a training plane in Toronto, in l944. The Downsview Air Base, now Canadian defense quarters, was just outside of Toronto in the forties. It is now in Toronto proper.
I witnessed a plane crash when a Harvard trainer suddenly went out of control, and spiraled downward, crashing on a farm about two miles from where I lived. I saw the smoke; a huge plume of dark smoke, as it rose in the air after the crash.
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Several crashes occurred. One at Fingal, just outside St.Thomas, at least one in Goderich where there were Air Force Bases, and one outside of Mattawa in Northern Ontario where three airmen died. They crashed into a hill, and the three crosses mark the spot where they died.
Several Canadians served in the huge Lancaster Bombers, which was a large plane for its day. It had a crew of five; pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, and a tail gunner. The RCAF fictionalized a Lancaster Bomber and its crew on Sunday evenings at 7 PM on CBC Radio. Called “L for Lankie”, as it was known ran for half an hour. The crew was fictional, but the drama was based on reality. I learned this some years after the war when I was working for CFOS in Owen Sound, Ontario. One of the executives of the company that owned the station, Jack Hawken, had been one of the writers of that program. He served in the public relations department of the RCAF during the war. There is a Lancaster Bomber in Jackson Park in Windsor, Ontario.
HE WAS A SOLDIER
Grew up like you and me,
Came here as a boy to Ontario
From Britain’s Isle of Guernsey.
Through the Days of World War II
He served our country, proud.
Fighting abroad for a quarter a day
That was all our country allowed.
Two thousand and 86 days he spent
In the service of his King,
And 89 cents.
He was a Soldier.
Like many of the young men,
Heroes of the day:
Willing to stand and fight for us
Who stand here, free, today.
He held the rank of Sergeant
On the day he was discharged…
June the third, l946.
His medals, stripes and pay book
I hold here in my hand…
All that’s left to show us
The mettle of a man
WHO WAS A SOLDIER.
In Honour of Sergeant
Stanley George Vidamour
Rev C.J.Barry Kentner.
Barry was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1935 and schooled to Grade 10, but continued educational pursuits until age 65 when he graduated from Open Word Bible College. He started working for Spitzer and Mills advertising in 1952, then moved to the Broadcast arena where for 62 years he was News Director and Talk Show Host at several Canadian Radio Stations. He was one of 5 consultants who managed to lobby for Christian Radio in Canada, and in the last five years before retirement, he was News Director of Canadian Altar.Net News, a network of 25 Christian Radio Stations across Canada from Charlottetown PEI to Campbell River BC.
Barry Kentner is a semi-retired pastor.
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