This blog about RCAF 420 Squadron is all about sharing. Philip is sharing this with my readers.
I am currently researching my father-in-law’s (John E C Austin) time with 420 Squadron. His Log book details that all his combat missions were with pilot Art Plummer and navigator Frank Dunster. I have a small photo of the crew sitting by a Halifax and his log book. I have visited the National Archives at Kew in London and obtained most of the Flying Logs.
Do you have any Squadron Photos that may contain the Crew or any other suggestions where I can obtain information?
Thanks and kind regards
John E. C. Austin’s crew
Two pages of his log book.
If you have anything to share, please leave a comment.
About Flight Lieutenant Plummer
PLUMMER, F/O Arthur Gordon (J14032) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.420 Squadron – Award effective 5 May 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1186/44 dated 2 June 1944. Born 23 April 1922 in Saint John, New Brunswick; home there; enlisted there 5 October 1940. Enlisted in Saint John, 3 October 1940. To ATC (?) 25 October 1940; to No.4 BGS (non-flying duty), 8 November 1940; to No.1 ITS, 28 November 1940; graduated and promoted LAC, 3 January 1941; posted that date to No.11 EFTS; graduated 21 February 1941 when posted to No.2 Manning Depot; to No.9 SFTS, 5 March 1941; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 28 May 1941. To CTS, Trenton, 7 June 1941. To No.9 SFTS, 28 August 1941. Promoted Flight Sergeant, 1 December 1941. Promoted WO2, 1 June 1942. To No.8 SFTS, 18 June 1942. Further postings uncertain. Commissioned 1 July 1942. Promoted Flying Officer, 1 January 1943. Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 13 April 1944. Invested by King George VI 11 August 1944. RCAF Photo PL-32372 shows him. Postwar service with RCAF (45606). Attended the University of New Brunswick where he played varsity hockey and rugby. posted to Gimli, Trenton, Summerside, Greenwood, and Ottawa, Moved to Halifax where he finished his civil service with Canada Post as a regional planner. Died in Halifax, 26 July 2011.
One night in March 1944, this officer piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Stuttgart. When some 200 miles from the target one engine failed and the aircraft lost much height. Although he knew that he would arrive at the target after the main bomber force, Flying Officer Plummer flew on to Stuttgart and pressed home a successful attack. His determination to complete his allotted task in the face of much difficulty set an excellent example.
DHH file 181.009 D.1513 (Library and Archives RG.24 Vol. 20600) has original recommendation drafted by W/C D. McIntosh, 26 March 1944 when he had flown seven sorties (53 hours 40 minutes); no sortie list; text as follows:
On the night of 1st/2nd March, Flying Officer Plummer was detailed to attack Stuttgart. About 200 miles from his target one engine failed and the aircraft lost height to 15,000 feet. Although he knew he would arrive at his target after the main force of bombers and that he was stretching his supply of petrol to a fine margin, Flying Officer Plummer by superb captaincy and airmanship successfully pressed home his attack with the utmost determination. // The ultimate completion of this operational flight was due to the initiative, resourcefulness and skilful airmanship of this officer and I strongly recommend that his determination should be recognized by the Immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Arthur Plummer obituary
PLUMMER, ARTHUR GORDON – 1922 – 2011 – Art, in his 90th year, passed away peacefully surrounded by family members on July 26th, 2011. Pre-deceased by his parents, Arthur Gordon and Greta Finley; his loving wife of 58 years Doreen; sisters Margaret (Nielsen), Ruth (Church), Phyllis (Thompson), Anita (Diamond), brother David and infant granddaughter Katelyn. He is survived by his children Cathy Morrison (Doug), Hampton, Stephen (Jill), Halifax, Gordon (Susan), Fredericton, David (Linda), Halifax, and Ian (Susan), Toronto; his grandchildren, Becky Miller (Joe), Scott Morrison (Margo), Peter Morrison (Sarah); Kent and Adrian Plummer; Carolyn Plummer (Lise), Lauren Wiley (Tim) and Megan Plummer; Jessica and Michael Plummer; Sara, Allison, and Gillian Plummer; his great grandchildren, Abby, Leah, Oliver and Carter; his sister Gene Moore, Fredericton; as well as numerous nephews, nieces and friends. Art was a loving father and husband as well as a proud grandfather and great grandfather. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, a graduate of Saint John High, Art joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot and flight instructor and served four years overseas during WWII. Promoted to squadron leader during the war, Art flew Lancaster, Wellington and Halifax bombers. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI for bravery. After the war, Art attended the University of New Brunswick where he played varsity hockey and rugby. Art and Doreen married in 1952 and were posted to Gimli, Trenton, Summerside, Greenwood, and Ottawa, with the Royal Canadian Air Force. They then moved to Halifax where Art finished his civil service with Canada Post as a regional planner. In 1963, Art and Doreen purchased a family cottage on the Saint John River at Buckley’s Cove. For nearly 50 years Art and Doreen spent every summer at the cottage and today there are three additional family cottages built on surrounding property. Art will be remembered by all who knew him as a humble man of strong moral character. A physically fit man, who played golf, skated and walked daily. Art was most grateful for the richness of his life, especially the opportunity to spend time with his children and their families. He was blessed with many friends from both his Rockingham neighbourhood and the summer community of Buckley’s Cove and Sand Point and was close to many nieces and nephews. Heartfelt thanks to the many family members, friends and neighbours who supported Art during the recent loss of his beloved wife Doreen. Many thanks to the Palliative Care staff at the Saint John Regional Hospital for their compassionate care and family support.
A memorial service will be held at Rockingham United Church, 12 Flamingo Drive, Halifax, NS on Thursday, August 4th, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Prescott Group (www.prescottgroup.ca), IWK Health Center Foundation, QEII Health Foundation, Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation or the Salvation Army. Online donations and condolences may be offered to the family at http://www.reidsfh.com The arrangements have been entrusted to Reid’s Funeral Home, Hampton, NB.
Update about John Austin’s training as a Wireless Operator
John completed his WOP training at West Freugh in Stranraer, Scotland. RAF West Freugh opened in 1937 as an armament training camp. During the Second World War, it expanded to include training facilities for observers, navigators, and bomb aimers and served as a base for the Bombing Trials Unit.