St. Thomas Man Takes Part in Thrilling Attacks
by Air on Wolf Pack in Mid-Atlantic
Squadron Leader Fred Green is One of Long-Range Liberators Making Six Separate Drives Against Nazi Subs, Which Stay on Surface to Fight Attackers
Ottawa, Sept.28 (CP) – Long-range,Liberator bombers operating from a base on the Canadian east coast carried out six separate attacks against submarines of a German “wolf-pack” during a recent two-day running battle in the mid-Atlantic, the RCAF announced today.
The air force made no specific claim of destruction of or damage to any of the U-boats involved but said that one of the aircraft returned to base with a “motor disabled by gunfire and with flak holes punched through the wings, tail and fuselage.”
The story of the battle by units of the R.C.A.F.’s “North Atlantic” squadron was told in a press release written by FO N.A. (Ab) Folland, RCAF public relations officer.
Have own Sub on our Hands
“Every one of the six submarines attacked remained on the surface and attempted to battle it out with the attackers,” said the RCAF statement. It referred to a “fierce curtain of anti-aircraft fire” in telling of the damage to one plane.
Air Vice Marshall Takes Part
“What a picnic!” was the comment of Flt. Lt. John Martin, of Winnipeg, one of the crew captains after the two-day battle had ended.
The first attack registered in the squadron’s fight was made by a bomber captained by WO John Billings, of Vancouver with WO Art Adamson, of Vegreville, Alta. as co-pilot.
A Hail of Flak
Other members of the Billings crew were WO Bruce (Hank) Henry, Bracebridge, Ont; Flt. Sgt. Edward Dave North Gower, Ont., and Cpl Dick Hake, Toronto. In the six attacks, theirs was the only aircraft damaged.
Liberator aircraft. Public Archives Canada
Tangles with Two Subs
During his second attack, Martin also found himself out of depth charges and appealed to convoy escort to come to the scene. He received the same reply he had give Adamson.
Martin brought his Liberator home without a scratch, but said:”I really had to take evasive action to miss that barrage.”
In his crew were Flt. Sgt. Lloyd Conlin, Drumheller, Alta; FO Doug Campbell, Coburg, Ont; WO Arthur;WO Arthur (Bill) Johns, Sudbury, Ont.,and WO Mackenzie Gilmour. Gravenhurst, Ont.
Still another clash occurred the same day when a crew captained by FO A. (Gus) Cirko of Fort William sighted a U-boat as their plane was returning to base. It was too dark to carry out an attack but when the submarine opened fire with tracer, the Liberator replied with machine guns.
Green Opens Dawn Attack
It was Green’s crew which included Air Vice-Marshal Godfrey, now referred to by the others as their ‘straight air gunner.' The ‘regulars' were FO Steve Sanderson, London, Ont.; Lt. Stan Bruce, Vancouver; WO Jake Silverstein, Windson, Ont.; WO Mickey Macdonald, Woodstock N.B.; WO Frank Jenkins, Millview PEI and Sgt.Ray Ware, Vancouver.
Macdonald caught sight of the first U-boat just as dawn broke. Green went into cloud cover and broke through within two miles of the raider.
“The Jerries started to open fire almost immediately,” said Macdonald, “and I wasn’t far behind them.”
“The barrage they put up was something,” said Jenkins. “It was coming fast and might hot.”
Air Vice Marshall in Action
“They got plenty from our guns,” Jenkins said.
In gaining height for a second run, the Liberator lost contact with the U-boat because of low clouds and poor visibility, but later in the day another submarine got the full measure.
“The skipper didn’t fool this time,”said Co-pilot Sanderson. “He put her nose down and the sub was so surprised he didn’t even get his guns in action until after we had blasted with with depth charges”. The Air Vice-Marshal and Sgt. Ware again occupied the blister and while the deputy inspector general pumped lead, Ware took photographs to collect ‘evidence.”
The Liberator circled and let go a second load of depth charges just as the submarine was submerging.
“All in all it was a pretty busy day,” said Sqdn. Ldr. Green, who received word of his promotion to that rank while in the air on the two-day battle. “Perhaps the A.V. M. brings us luck. I hope he visits the squadron again.”
AVM Godfrey, Group Captain Clare Annis, OBE, Squadron Leader Green
Green was on the hot seat in more than one way. The Air Vice Marshall (left) was aboard his aircraft and he had been given strict instructions 'to keep him out of trouble'. Judging from the broad smile on his face in this image, the AVM was more than pleased that things turned out as they did! Recollections at EMM.
Final Attack of the Two-Day Flight
Ingrams, a veteran sub-hunter with more than 1,200 hours of operational flying, had as his crew, FO Don Malley, Elrose, Sask; PO Ross Curtis, Fenelon Falls, Ont.;PO Norm Fisher, Edmonton; WO Stan Hassall, Ville LaSalle, Que.; and Cpl. William Wilkie, Deep Cove, B.C.
Played a Tattoo
Coming out of cloud, the Liberator caught the submarine fully surfaced. Fisher was in the top turret and started firing the moment the U-boat was in range.
“He really played a tattoo all the way in,” said Ingrams. “His guns never stopped blazing and that was probably the reason the sub didn’t return the fire.”
Four depth charges were dropped, and they were beautifully placed,” said Cpl. Wilkie, taking pictures from the rear blister. One stick, he said, “almost bounced of the Jerry’s hull.”
Wilkie got what the RCAF said were “the best pictures yet taken of a submarine under attack.”
“He was practically hanging out in the slip stream to get the pictures,” said the skipper.
As the reports came in to the station on the first day’s attacks far over the Atlantic almost every member of the squadron moved down to the hangers to await the return of the Liberators.
Before the crews had all been interrogated, other crews had taken off to score three more attacks and another sighting.
Note: This is not known to be a Wilkie image. If anyone can tell us where to find Wilkie images please contact the EMM.
Off to the Far East
Fred returned to St. Thomas where he practiced architecture for many years. He was a founding and long supporting member of the Elgin Military Museum.