Gordon served in the Second World War, volunteering for the Royal Canadian Air Force shortly after graduating from Oak Bay High School in 1941 (see photo below). After his military flight training in Canada he eventually became a flight captain of an Avro Lancaster, based in England. His service in the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Bomber Command played a vital contribution to the Allies ability to end the war in September 1945. This specific service was recently acknowledged by Canada’s Veteran Affairs (see photo below).
One of Gordon’s strongest memories of his time in World War II involved the repatriation of allied prisoners of war back to England near the end of the war (Operation Exodus). The transport of passengers in planes back then had no resemblance to what it is like now, and the POWs had to simply sit on the floor of the repurposed bomber for their flight home from mainland Europe. During one of the flights, when Gordon’s Lancaster flew over the coast of England, the excited POWs all ran to the back of the bomber to view their homeland again. Gord reported that the sudden shift in weight during the landing approach almost caused his bomber to crash. He stated that it was a very awkward and hard landing which was the closest he came to death during the war — that he knew of!
Gordon’s family reports that he must have felt proud enough of his war service to be willing to share his memories — many of which were inconceivable for young people to fully comprehend. Gordon eventually reenlisted with the RCAF as a post war career pilot. After several postings in Europe, Canada, and the USA, he retired as an Officer Major in 1971. He then returned with his family to Victoria, BC, where they have lived ever since.
Gordon wasn’t the only family member who served Canada and her people. His father, Albert (see photo below), also started his military service as a pilot of a Sopwith Camel in World War I. Due to a flight accident early in the war in France (and a resulting head injury), Albert was forced to return to Canada to recover from his injury. He studied dentistry at the University of Toronto and finished his second military service as a Lieutenant in World War II as a dentist. Several other family members also served in World War I.
Gordon enjoys singlong tunes from the 1930s and 1940s, as singing around the piano was the way many folks enjoyed the popular music of the day. He loves the Big Band tunes too, and prior to COVID-19, enjoyed the music performances in the Oak Room at Veterans Memorial Lodge.
You can help veterans like Gordon enjoy the comforts of home and simple pleasures by making a donation today.