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Calder, Gordon Alexander (Pilot Officer)

Killed in Action 1943-May-13

Birth Date: 1917-June-17 (age 25)

Murdoch A. & Myrtle K. Calder

Home: Nipawin, Saskatchewan (parents)

Enlistment: Saskatoon SK Canada

Enlistment Date: 1941-03-12

98 (B) Sqn- Squadron (RAF)
Never Failing
Pilot Officer
Air Chief MarshalA/C/M
Air MarshalA/M
Air Vice MarshalA/V/M
Air CommodoreA/C
Group CaptainG/C
Wing CommanderW/C
Squadron LeaderS/L
Flight LieutenantF/L
Flying OfficerF/O
Pilot OfficerP/O
Warrant Officer 1st ClassWO1
Warrant Officer 2nd ClassWO2
Flight SergeantFS
Senior AircraftmanSAC
Leading AircraftmanLAC
Aircraftman 1st ClassAC1
Aircraftman 2nd ClassAC2
Service Numbers

Mitchell Mk. ll FL197

Bombing Boulogne France 1943-May-13 to 1943-May-13

Mitchell II aircraft FL 197 crashed in the sea near Hardinot, France.

P/O GA Calder (RCAF) and Sgt F.P.C. Gower (RAFVR) were killed. F/O IW Tweddell (RCAF)and Sgt J Gale (RAF) were take as Prisoners of War. While a PoW F/O Tweddell received textbooks and material from the University of Saskatchewan so he could continue his studies in engineering (T. Barris). F/O Tweddle was interred in Stalag Luft L3, location of the Great Escape

Former Sergeant John Gale, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner (RAFVR) related an eyewitness account for 'John Gale's Heydekrug Run' by David Poissant.

John was keenly aware; their aircraft had suffered a flak hit and was on fire. He and Sergeant Frank Gower, Air Gunner RAFVR, in the rear section of the Mitchell high over Boulogne, had not heard a bailout order when John saw Ian Tweddell, their Navigator/Bomb Aimer, take to his parachute.

The intercom must be u/s...“Time to get out!” John called as he slapped Frank’s arse to get him out of his turret seat in the smoke and melee of the stricken B-25. They jettisoned the rear crew door in preparation to bail out; “Frank was not wearing his parachute harness” John recalls, “I was helping him on with it, kneeling in front of him to get the connecting strap and buckle between his knees when the aircraft went into a power dive.” Gordon Calder, their pilot, put the plane into a steep dive in an attempt to extinguish the fire. “We were thrown to the roof of the craft. Our pilot then put it into climb mode to put the fire out.” When Calder pulled out of the dive the manoeuvre’s centrifugal force hurled John, unscathed, through the open hatch; Frank must have collided with the aircraft floor. “I was shot out at the end of the dive” John said, “the chute shot off my chest and was hanging at the end of the straps, vibrating; I just reached down and pulled the handle...opened with a bang!” John was travelling at a considerable speed when his parachute opened with a yank, the force of which ruptured his injury that would bother him for years. He saw their aircraft, still on fire, climb after pulling out of the dive and then saw his pilot bail out. Pilot Officer Calder’s parachute was aflame; he didn’t survive. The aircraft went into a spin; it would have been impossible for Frank to get out, even if he was conscious. Suspended in his parachute, John watched as B-25C Mitchell II FL197 (41-12757) crashed into the sea near Hardelot, France.

It was noon on Sunday, 13 May 1943; they had just bombed the Boulogne Marshalling Yards on their 13th operation (including 2 Air Sea Rescue searches) with 98 Squadron RAF. Their first ‘op’ had been 22 Jan 43, which was also 98 Squadron’s first of WWII; and the first for the Mitchell they had flown on that operation, FL176 VO-B ‘Grumpy’.

Sergeant Gale had little time for reflection; he was over the sea, anxiously steering his parachute for the dry landing he soon experienced. A group of German soldiers that watched his descent were waiting a short distance away as he landed; “sit still” a voice called “you are among mines.” An officer arrived shortly and directed John through the mines and took him to an interrogation hut.

In a follow-up letter to David, John wrote "When I was shot down it [was] awful to see my pilot go down with his parachute on fire! It was my pilot's action at the time that saved my life.

Canada Source Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial

Canada Primary Source Library and Archives Canada Service Files (may not exist)

Crew on Mitchell Mk. ll FL197

North American Mitchell B-25 B-25D B-25J

North American B-25J Mitchell Mk. III
Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

The North American B-25 Mitchell is an American medium bomber that was introduced in 1941 and named in honor of Major General William "Billy" Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. Used by many Allied air forces, the B-25 served in every theater of World War II, and after the war ended, many remained in service, operating across four decades. Produced in numerous variants, nearly 10,000 B-25s were built.

The North American B-25 Mitchell was flown by the RCAF during and after the Second World War. The RCAF flew the B-25 Mitchell for training during the war and continued flying operations after the war, in Canada with most of 162 Mitchells received. The first B-25s had originally been diverted to Canada from RAF orders. These included one Mitchell Mk. I, 42 Mitchell Mk. IIs, and 19 Mitchell Mk. IIIs. No 13 (P) Squadron was formed unofficially at RCAF Station Rockcliffe in May 1944 and flew Mitchell Mk. IIs on high-altitude aerial photography sorties. No. 5 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Boundary Bay, British Columbia and Abbotsford, British Columbia, operated the B-25D Mitchell in a training role together with B-24 Liberators for Heavy Conversion as part of the BCATP. The RCAF retained the Mitchell until October 1963.

No. 418 (Auxiliary) Squadron received its first Mitchell Mk. IIs in January 1947. It was followed by No. 406 (Auxiliary), which flew Mitchell Mk. IIs and Mk. IIIs from April 1947 to June 1958. No. 418 Operated a mix of Mk. IIs and Mk. IIIs until March 1958. No. 12 Squadron of Air Transport Command also flew Mitchell Mk. IIIs along with other types from September 1956 to November 1960. In 1951, the RCAF received an additional 75 B-25Js from USAF stocks to make up for attrition and to equip various second-line units.. Wikipedia and Harold Skaarup web page

YouTube Mitchell Bomber

Wkikpedia Wikipedia Mitchell Bomber

General Harold A Skaarup Web Page

CASPIR Aircraft Groups:
RCAF On Strength (164), Canadian Aircraft Losses (73), Canadian Ferried (5)
last update: 2021-09-23 15:53:49

Mitchell Mk. ll FL197

98 (B) Sqn- Squadron (RAF) Never Failing

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