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Air Force Operations

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420 Squadron "Snowy Owl" a Canadian Bomber Squadron that flew from the Midlands in Britain to attack Nazi held positions in Europe

The RAF (Royal Air Force - Britain) and the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force - Canada) were divided into different Commands:


  1. Robert Allan Anderson - Review the entire story of a Canadian Airman from Brandon Manitoba. The story encompasses enlistment to his return home.
  2. Frederick Manual Mifflin - A Newfoundlander (not in Canada until 1949) was a pilot on a Lancaster Bomber. An engine caught fire and the Navigator, Norman Cyril Jackson, VC actually went out on the wing during flight to extinguish the blaze.
  3. Answer the 7 sets of Anderson questions below. You can click and link directly to the Anderson file.
  4. Claude Weaver III is an excellent true story about an exceptional American Fighter Pilot who joined the RCAF before the USA joined the war (USA joined after the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941).

Air War Casualties: Air Force Operations (6)

401 Sqn (RCAF)
Peterborough, Ontario
403 Sqn (RCAF)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
420 (B) Sqn (RCAF)
Brandon, MB
106 (B) Sqn (RAF)
Catalina, Newfoundland
622 Sqn
Hamilton, Ontario
435 Sqn (RCAF)
Perth, Ontario

Anderson Study Questions:

Enlistment and Training start reading here

  1. Training an RCAF Air Gunner
    1. How long did it take to train an air gunner in WWII?
    2. Why do you think air gunner training would take so long?
  2. Go to the link entitled "Bomber Command Museum Air Gunner".
    1. There were two air gunners in a bomber. Where were they located in the plane?
    2. What was the prime job of the rear air gunner?
    3. Why was the job of the rear air gunner one of the most important of the entire crew?
    4. Why was the job of an air gunner particularly stressful?
    5. In the early years of the War most of the bombing runs by Canadian crews were at night. Why do you think they ran them at night?
    6. Why did some of the rear air gunners remove part of the plexiglass that surrounded them?
    7. If the rear gunner removed some of the plexiglass around them, what problems did this create?
  3. Briefly describe what training took place for an air gunner at each one of these facilities:
    1. Brandon, Manitoba
    2. Trenton, Ontario
    3. Macdonald, Manitoba
    4. Topcliffe, United Kingdom
  4. Aircraft:
    1. What airplane was used for training purposes at the Macdonald, Manitoba facility?
    2. Why was this airplane chosen for training?
    3. The Macdonald Bomb and Gunnery School (3 B&GS) was near Lake Manitoba. Why was that lake valuable for training?
  5. Bob Anderson drew sketches of enemy aircraft such as the one under "Air Gunners Course". Why would he need to know the details about enemy aircraft?
  6. Canada was one of the most important countries for training pilots and aircrew for the Allies in the War. Why do you think Canada would have been chosen as a center of training as opposed to other countries such as India?
  7. Look at all the training aircrews went through at each training center. Which training do you think would have been the most difficult for the people enrolled? Explain your reasoning.
  8. Why do you think Bob Anderson’s completion of training was so significant for him?

Anderson Crew Study Questions:

Hit by Flak & Capture (start reading here)

  1. On April 20, 1944 Bob Anderson’s bomber took off on a mission.
    1. What was the purpose of their mission?
    2. What route were they supposed to take?
    3. What route did they take?
    4. How many other bombers were on the mission with them?
    5. What was their bomb load? (ie. The number of bombs and their sizes)
  2. As their Haifax bomber LW692 crossed over Dieppe, France, what damage was done to the plane, and what happened to the plane?
  3. Crew:
    1. What were the names of the members of the crew of the Halifax bomber LW692 and what was their job on the plane? (See section on “Air Crew” Photo)
    2. What happened to each one of the crew?
  4. After Bob Anderson and Paul Bourcier landed, where were they taken?
  5. Prisoners of War
    1. How were Prisoners of War (PoWs) treated at the Dulag Luft? (Keep in mind when you are captured by the enemy you were to tell them only your name, rank and service number).
    2. What type of information do you think the Nazis wanted to find out from interrogating POWs?
    3. What techniques do you think the Nazis used to get information from POWs?
    4. Where were Bourcier and Anderson taken after the Dulag Luft?
  6. What does the crash site of their Halifax look like today? (See air photos of crash site)
  7. Do you consider Raymond Leonard (the pilot) to have been a brave man? Explain your answer. (See page with Air Photos)
  8. If you were Bob Anderson or Paul Bourcier, how do you think you would feel when you found out what happened to the other members of your crew?
  9. Of all the events that happened before, during and after the crash, which do you think would have affected you the most? Give reasons for your answer.

Anderson Study Questions:

Prisoner of War Camp Stalag Luft III (start reading here)

The first Prisoner Of War (POW) camp Bob Anderson was sent to was Stalag Luft III.

  1. Near what city and in what country was this POW camp located?
  2. Describe the camp using these headings:
    1. The number of buildings housing prisoners
    2. How many guard towers were there?
    3. What do you think the guard Towers were used for?
    4. What ran around the outside of the camp?
    5. What do you think the fire pool was?
    6. Why do you think the Nazis built this POW camp in the middle of a forest?
  3. Why do you think there was only one entrance to the camp?
  4. The dotted lines represent tunnels dug underground. How many tunnels were there at this camp?
  5. What were the names given to the tunnels? What is amusing about the names?
  6. The tunnel from Building 104 was used for the “Great Escape”. Most of the men who left the camp by that tunnel never made it to freedom. Why do you think they dug the tunnel right under a guard tower and Cooler?
  7. Why do you think so few prisoners of camps like this one ever escaped?
  8. Who “ran” this camp under the supervision of the Germans?

Anderson Study Questions:

The Long March and Liberation (start reading here)

The prisoners and guards were forced to move to new prison camps.

  1. Why did Hitler order the POWs to be moved from Stalag Luft III?
  2. What day did these POWs start their march?
  3. How many days did they march?
  4. How many kilometres did these men walk and where did they end up?
  5. What do you think the story about the American soldier carrying the German guard’s gun shows about the march?

Anderson Study Questions:

"The Torture March" (start reading here)

Turn to the description of the march with the title "Last Mile to Luckenwald"

  1. What was the weather like as they headed out on the march? (diary page 85)
  2. Why did they build sleighs?
  3. What did they use to build sleighs?
  4. What do you think the term “kit” means? (diary page 87, 88)
  5. Why did the POWs have to keep walking? (diary page 87)
  6. What were the conditions of the march like during the night? (diary page 90)
  7. In Bob’s diary he said “every step was misery”. Suggest three reasons this was true. (diary page 91, 92)
  8. What did they eat for breakfast? (diary page 91)
  9. Why was this particular night so good for the marchers? (diary page 95)
    1. The roads were all full of refugees? Why do you think there were so many refugees?
    2. Where do you think these refugees might have come from?
  10. When they finally arrived in Luckenwalde (Stalag III-A), what were the accommodations like? (diary page 97)

Anderson Study Questions:

Living in Stalag III-A (start reading here)

  1. Food
    1. Examine the daily menu for this camp. Was it a healthy diet? Explain your reasoning.
    2. What part of the diet would you personally find the worst?
  2. Camp Events
    1. What happened on February 27 1945?
    2. What did February show about the conditions in the camp?
  3. Why do you think POWs often had dreams or fantasies about the food they’d like to eat?
  4. On April 21 (1945) why was there excitement and fear at the same time? (diary page 78)
  5. Why do you think the German troops decided to surrender to the Canadian PoWs rather than the Russians? (diary page 79)
  6. More events
    1. When Bob Anderson went for a walk on April 29, what did he see? (diary page 79)
    2. How would you have reacted if you had been on that walk?
  7. How did Bob get from Germany to Bournemouth in England?
  8. How do you think Bob felt when he finally got to Bournemouth in England?

Anderson Study Questions:

Final Thoughts & References (start reading here)

  1. On April 21, 1944 Bob Anderson’s airplane failed to return to its base from the mission.
    1. What did the commanders of 420 Squadron know? (see Official Correspondence item a.)
    2. Why do you think there was so little information about the plane?
    3. What modern technology would have been useful in 1944 that would have helped the commanders of the Squadron know what happened to the airplane?
  2. On April 23, 1944 the family received a telegraph (see Official Correspondence About Dad)
    1. What information did the telegram include?
    2. What do you think Bob Anderson’s family would feel/react to this telegram?
    3. Considering your answer to 2a and 2 b, what conclusions can you draw about communications during the War?
    4. When did they finally know? (see Official Correspondence about Dad item g.)
  3. There is an expression "The fog of war". Based on what you have read in this study of Bob Anderson, what do you think the term means? Explain your answer fully.
  4. When Anderson & Bourcier were released from PoW Camp there was a team of men that questioned them.
    1. What purpose do you think they had in questioning these two men? (see Official Correspondence item i.)
    2. Give three specific examples of questions they might ask Bourcier and Anderson.

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