When Fred Turner’s son sent me a black and white photo of his father sitting in the cockpit of a Harvard, I just had to do this…
Fred Turner seen in the cockpit of a Harvard later became a Spitfire pilot with RCAF 403 Squadron. I just had to colorise that photo for his son who had shared photos of his father when he found my blog about RCAF 403 Squadron.
How I came to create a blog about RCAF 403 Squadron is a very, very, long story.
While I was researching information about Mosquito pilot Eugène Gagnon for the 83 year-old man who considered Eugène as his hero, I had decided I just had to create a blog about RAF 23 Squadron since I did not know anything about that squadron. This is how the daughter of Paul Beaudet, a Mosquito navigator with 23 Squadron, found it and wrote a comment about her father and his pilot George Stewart.
Both had done 50 operations together.
She gave me George Stewart’s contact information so I just had to write him.
This is how I got to know George Stewart who phoned me twice, and lo and behold invited me to go visit him in Hamilton. I just had to go to Hamilton with my wife to see George (he insisted I had to call him George). We decided to stay over at a B&B (my wife loves staying at B&Bs). When I told the owner I was visiting a Mosquito pilot here in Hamilton, he told that me his father-in-law Walter Neil Dove was a Spitfire pilot and that his son Greg had all of his grandfather’s photo albums and log books.
He asked me if I was interested in meeting his son…
I just had to meet his son…
When I met Greg and I saw all he had, I told him that we had to create a blog about RCAF 403 Squadron since I did not know a single thing about that squadron and I would have to document what he had.
This is one photo I could related on something I knew…
Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson!
So I got to work even if I made some mistake with identifying some pilots at first.
Writing more and more about that squadron is how Fred Turner’s son found that blog and shared the Harvard picture.
Last month Charles Robertson Olmsted’s nephew also found that blog. Seeing this group photo I had once colorised he quicky identified his uncle. First row, first pilot on the right.
Charles Robertson Olmsted flew some 100 operations before being sent back to Canada because he could not fly anymore above 20,000 feet with an enlarged spleen that was not diagnosed. Charles became an instructor with No. 1 O.T.U. Bagotville, in Quebec.
On May 1, 1944, Charles Robertson Olmsted died in a plane crash which was flown by John Riley Milne.
Source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Photo of John Riley Milne – This photograph and an accompanying article appeared in The Globe And Mail newspaper on Tuesday, 11 November 2003. The touching article, called “He was the world to someone”, was written by Jonathan Vance. Circa 1973, when he was a young boy, Vance found this unidentified photograph in the bottom of a box of old books at a church rummage sale; he paid $0.10 for it. Subsequently, a letter to the editor appeared in the same newspaper identifying the young airman in the picture as being John Riley Milne. It was from his sister, Joan (Milne) Brett who was living in Morris Island, Nova Scotia, at that time. She wrote that her brother had been flying a Hurricane in a low-level training exercise in Bagotville, Quebec, when he had been killed.
It does not matter if John Riley Milne was not flying a Hurricane on May 1, 1944 but a Harvard with Charles as a navigation instructor. What matters is that the plane most probably took off without enough fuel in on the left wing tank, and this fact seems to have been somewhat not investigated further in 1944.
Lest We Forget.