Sunday, June 11, 2017

The 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Dutch Harbor has been filled with a weekend long remembrance ceremony in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. We were blessed with the presence of nine WWll veterans, forty evacuees along with speakers, warbirds and an outstanding community that came together to honor those whose lives were effected. 
After nearly a year long of planning for this commemoration, it was a huge success all around, even when the Aleutian weather reared it's unsettled head.  It is an event quite worthy of a separate post, perhaps even multiple, which will have to come at a later date.

WWll Veteran from the 7th Infantry who landed on Attu May 1943, Signalman Frank Vaughn.
Right now, final preparations are being made for a second WWll historical tour through the Aleutians that leaves just hours from now!  This years tour has a very diverse group with three Japanese film makers, two ladies, both daughters of Aleutian Island veterans and four Alaskans, plus me- the Canadian.   Makes for a well rounded trip, I'd say.

As I so often do, before I left I wanted to sit down and investigate what the 111 (F) Squadron, RCAF were up to on this day 1942.  Around this time 75 years ago,  the squadron, then stationed out of Patrica Bay, British Columbia (now the Victoria Airport) were just days away from making their long trip north to Anchorage in defense Alaska.

Below are a few entries from the Squadron diary leading up to their arrival in the last frontier state.   After reading this and coupled with the memories fresh in my mind from last weekend, reminded me of exactly why I am out here and how all the blood, sweat and tears of this last year, is totally worth it.  

Patricia Bay, B.C

June 10th, 1942
No flying.  Servicing Ships.

June 12th, 1942
F/S Baird and Sgt. Stusiak returned to Pat Bay from leave and left that evening for Prince Rupert enroute to Anchorage.  Balance of squadron arrived at Wrangell and departed at 19:00 hours.

June 13th, 1942
Squadron Leader Nesbitt leaves the squadron to take the post of C.O. of the Canadian Wing at Annette Island.  He will be sorely missed by all personnel of the squadron.  F/L Kerwin appointed C.O. of our squadron.   The balance of the squadron arrived in Juneau at 07:00 hours. 

June 14th, 1942
Squadron left Juneau at 06:00 hours and arrived at Valdez at 14:00.  Squadron offices set up at Elmendorf.  No flying today. 

June 15th 
Squadron took over readiness (24 hours) with six Kittyhawks. Balance of squadron departed Valdez at 07:00 hours.

June 16th, 1942
P/O Lynch and *Whiteside on orders from W.A.C. moved by air to Sea Island (Vancouver Airport) for the purpose of flying two Kittyhawks of the 14 (F) to Anchorage, in formation with the three that are already at Sea Island.  All machines to have belly tanks.  Balance of squadron to arrive at Seward at 14:30. Disembarked at 19:30, embarking on train at 21:00.  Church services were conducted each Sunday by the Adjutant. 

L-R- my grandfather P/O Lynch, wife Eileen, Baird's wife Muriel, *F/S Baird at Patricia Bay, B.C. just before departing for Alaska.  F/S Baird was killed July 16th when he and four other Canadian Airmen were killed when lost in the Aleutian weather.

* P/O Whiteside did not survive the war, he was in the same formation as F/S Baird (above) when they got lost in the fog and crashed into Unalaska.