Searching for information

From a new reader…

I am doing some research on a pilot who flew with 420 squadron during the war. His name was Arthur Barratt and he told me in conversation that he flew 23 missions in Halifax aircraft. His airplane had call letters PT-Q. He recently died at age 95 and I hope to learn some more about his wartime experiences. Do you have any information on Arthur?

Thank you

Dave Paddon

I have no information about this pilot. I am adding Dave Paddon’s request.

Please leave a comment, and I will get in touch.



About Corporal William Andrew Sanderson

Kirk Sanderson shared this about his in a comment.

Mention in despatches

SANDERSON, Corporal William Andrew (R102847) – Mention in Despatches – Leeming – Award effective 14 June 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1647/45 dated 26 October 1945. Born 20 April 1912. Home in Toronto; enlisted there 6 May 1941 for General Duties and posted to No.1 Manning Depot. To No.5 BGS, 16 May 1941; remustered to Armament Branch (Bombs) and promoted AC1, 6 August 1941 or 30 November 1941. Promoted LAC, 1 April 1942. To No.2 OTU, 8 July 1942; to No.4 Repair Depot, 18 August 1942 until posted to “Y” Depot, Halifax, 11 February 1943. To RAF overseas, 2 March 1943. Promoted Corporal, 1 April 1943. Repatriated 2 August 1945. Released 20 September 1945. No citation in AFRO; DHist file 181.009 D.2619 (RG.24 Vol.20628) has recommendation forwarded 1 February 1945 to No.63 Base HQ, noting he had served 22 months in Canada, 22 months overseas. This NCO is in charge of a bomb dump crew, has been a bomb dump crew chief and key loading man over a long period of time. He is both cheerful and energetic, carrying out arduous tasks in a manner that is both efficient and trustworthy. His unfailing efforts have at all times set an example to his men and gained the confidence of his superiors. Corporal Sanderson has spent many hours over and above those normally required and has proven himself to be definitely outstanding both as a tradesman and NCO.

I don’t have pictures of ground crew servicing 420 Squadron Halifax bombers. I only have these pictures from 425 Squadron’s Adjutant Réal St-Amour’s collection.

bomb trolley

bombing up 1


easy does it (copier)

group picture devant halifax

lac laforce (copier)

laforce et bailey (copier)



A request

Do you know of any photos of Halifax PT-V, LW692. My Father Robert Allan Anderson was the tail gunner. The aircraft was shot down April 20, 1944 and my Father and Paul Bourcier, the mid-upper gunner, were the only survivors. Both ended up in Stalag Luft III for the remainder of the war.

This is a photo of the crew Bill Anderson sent.

crew of halifax lw692

You can use the comment section below to reach us.
More about Robert Allan Anderson

Sgt. Robert Allen Anderson Royal Canadian Air Force 420 Squadron

from:Brandon, Manitoba

I have prepared the following brief summary of my Dad’s World War II experiences based primarily on materials in my possession, including his Identity Card, Flying Log and Wartime Log:

In October, 1943, my Dad, Robert Allan Anderson, qualified as an Air Gunner after completing training at #3 Bomb and Gunnery School at Macdonald, Manitoba under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In January, 1944, he was posted to the 420 (Snowy Owl) Squadron, based in Tholthorpe, England, as a tail gunner in a Halifax bomber.

My Dad was just 3 days shy of his 20th birthday on April 20, 1944, when 154 Halifax bombers took off to attack the rail facilities at Lens, France, Dad’s Halifax, LW692, was shot down and crashed into the Scie River at Pourville, near Dieppe. It was the only aircraft that failed to return that night and my Dad and Paul Bourcier, the mid-upper gunner, were the only survivors.

According to a researcher, Dad described the event as follows: “We flew down to south England and over the Channel. Reached enemy coast 10 minutes early and off track, we passed over very near Dieppe. They threw up a lot of flak and we got 3 hits, the plane shuddered, slowed down and lost height fast. Port engines went on fire, spread to whole wing, engineer admitted it was hopeless, skipper said bale out. I got to escape hatch after mid upper gunner and jumped after him, plane was diving very fast and had trouble to get out of slipstream. Saw the plane spiral down on fire and crash. I landed in the mouth of a small river near Dieppe, had to use my Mae West, not a scratch.”

The same researcher described Paul Bourcier’s account as follows: After taking off and setting course for Southern England and then the Channel we got off course and reached the enemy coast ten minutes before time over Dieppe, which was about 20 miles off course, as Le Havre was the crossing point. We were picked up by radar and we were hit 3 times by flak, causing trouble to port engines, the necessary measures were taken, but fire started, and spreading rapidly on the port wing, I was then given order to bale out, which I did and by doing so landed safely. Out of front hatch.”

After capture, the researcher presented a quick timeline of events: plane goes down, Anderson and Bourcier are picked up. From there they take a train ride to the Dulag Luft, the Luftwaffe Interrogation Centre at Albereusel, north of Frankfurt. Most fliers spent between 2-3 weeks there. Treatment ranged from pretty decent, to threats to a strange scenario where the Luftwaffe stripped you of all your clothes and locked you in a room with the heat turned up high. They had an interrogator there from Kitchener, Ontario who spoke better English than some of the Canadians there. When the Fatherland called he had returned to Germany”

Both Dad and Paul were then sent to Stalag Luft III, arriving just days after the 50 airmen were recaptured and murdered by the SS under the direct order of Adolph Hitler for their part in The Great Escape. As the Russians advance towards Germany in 1945, Hitler gave the order to evacuate POW camps and move POWs closer to Berlin. On Saturday, January 27, 1945, Dad and thousands of other POWs were told to gather their meager belongings and a forced exodus began. A day-by-day account was recorded in Dad’s Wartime Log. After an eleven day trek, Dad ended up in Stalag IIIA in Luckenwalde. Eventually liberated by the Russians, his ordeal was still not as yet over.

A notation in his Log states: May 6, 1945 Russians refuse to let Americans evacuate us, some trucks have gone back empty. Russians have posted guards who have shot at some of the fellows. On May 7, 1945, he nevertheless managed to escape his new captors by making his way to the American lines at Magdeburg. On May 10, 1945, he then caught a USAAF DC3 (Dakota) to Rheims, France, and the next day, a Lancaster to Tangmere, England.

Today, there are memorials to Peter Warren the Navigator, Patrick Gough the Flight Engineer, and Raymond Leonard, the Pilot, in Runnymede Cemetery, Surrey, England. Clifford Wheelhouse, the Wireless Air Gunner, and Clark Wilson, the Bomb Aimer, were originally buried in a cemetery in St Riquier-ès-Plains, and later in Grandcourt War Cemetery, France.

Bill Anderson

Philip F. Plant’s Contribution

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


JEC Austin and Crew

John E. C. Austin’s crew

Two pages of his log book.

Log Book Jun 44


Log Book Nov 44

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 (, 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 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.


Log Book 3[13518]