89th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force

Theo is leaving Americus, Georgia and Souther Field.

last page Americus

Before we go to the next phase of his training a comment from Richard Perry about Souther Field…

Amazing that you have got all that information from friends and relations and from the Field itself. Also interesting to see the life and times of Theodore Griffiths. For myself we had our Annual RCAF Anniversary Mess Dinner celebrating the 89th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. I am attaching a photo of four of us with the Guest Speaker, I am on the left hand side of “Stocky Edwards, WC, DFC & 2 Bars, Canadian Hero”.

Picture attached.

Richard Perry, Flt.Lieut.Retired.

 89th Anniversary of the RCAF

“Stocky” surrounded at AFDA Mess Dinner, by his wartime “Mates”
Left to Right
Alan Davidson – RAF Squadron 227, Beaufighters – Malta, Libya, Italy.
Bill Marr AFC – Instructor, Canada , RAF Squadron 409, Beaufighters, Mosquitos. (After War, TCA & Air Canada, 29,000 hours of Flying Time.)
Harry Hardy, DFC+Caterpillar, Flight Commander, 440 Squadron, Typhoons. 96 Combat Opps Flts, 2 Bailouts and 1 Forced Landing, Pulverizer from the Falaise Gap onwards.
Richard Perry, DFC , 218 Squadron, Lancasters, 32 Bombing Trips over Germany, 1944, Pilot/Observer, Targets: Marshalling Yards, Airfields, the Rhur Valley, the Ardennes Break-through. (Falaise Gap)

Another comment…

Here’s a training picture, one of me is with my instructor at Harewood, Christchurch, New Zealand flying Tiger Moths, seen in the background.

Dick 1942

The #6 SFTS photograph has me on the right hand side of the back row, #3 to the left.  

Dunnville Richard Perry

Dunnville Richard Perry 1

This one was taken at the Dedication of the Bomber Command Memorial last year.

Jim and Me at the Guildhall 2012The first photograph is of myself and Graham Turner DFC In the Guildhall standing behind Wing Commander Jim Wright DFC in the Wheelchair. Jim and I have been working on obtaining a Bomber Command Award Medal for the least 30 years.

Who is Richard Perry?

Click here.

Theo in Americus, Georgia Part Two

I hope you will take some time to browse through Theo’s training logbook pages.

I did.

In the training logbook every flight is entered.

Date, Flight From, Flight To, Aircraft Make and Model…

Each flight was an adventure in itself and each flight was very dangerous for any young cadet not to mention the instructor in the back.


Robert Shay’s Jr’s collection

Theo must have a lot of stories to tell us about his training days.

Try to find an entry where something went a little wrong. Last page November 25, 1941.

photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

last page Americus

We see it on this page.


Failed check – Lt. Baldwin – (failed to find wind)

Now we know Theo’s instructor’s name.

Paying Homage to All Primary Flight Instructors in Americus, Georgia

I am getting back to Theodore Griffiths’ story.

Robert Shay Jr is the instructor in the back seat. A young cadet is flying a PT-17  over Americus, Georgia. He is not Theo because Robert Shay’s name never appears in Theo’s logbook.


Primary Flight Instructor Robert Shay Jr was teaching another young cadet to fly it. 

Flight Instructor Shay

Robert F. Shay Jr

The young cadet has to be a young RAF recruit training in Americus, Georgia, just like Theodore Griffiths DFC.

PT-17 in the background

Unknown instructor with Theo Griffiths

Stephen Shay was kind enough to send me some pictures with this message…


My dad was a US Army flight instructor stationed in Americus, GA from 1940-1941. He went down there from a small airfield he and others hewed out of an old orchard in Penn Yan, NY in upstate NY in the beautiful Finger Lakes. He and Harold Middlebrook and John Oliver Goodrich were from the same small town, were pilots and answered their countries call as instructors in the Army Air Corps. They all flew and instructed on Stearman PT17s. I have attached four photos taken by Robert Shay during that time.

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The picture of the lone pilot was Robert F. Shay Jr. He died at the age of 82 in FL in 2000. The photo of the two pilots includes Bob Shay and Johnny Goodrich, both instructors from Penn Yan, NY. The plane inflight over GA had Bob Shay in it at the time.

Dad’ flight log is extant, but I cannot locate it at the present time. I know that my Dad and his life long friend Johnny Goodrich rented a couple rooms from a family in Americus, GA. It seems that with very little seat time, many young boys were sent off to fight the war in Europe out of dozens of fields like the one in Americus. I thank God for the work these instructors and students did in preparation for combat.

Rev. Stephen Shay (USMC)


PT-17s at Americus, Georgia

PT 17 Americus GA

Bob Shay and Johnny Goodrich

Now people looking for a PT-17 flying over Americus, Georgia, will find this blog.

I sure hope someone related to Harold Middlebrook or Johnny Oliver Goodrich would find it.

Next time Theo’s training at Americus, Georgia.

How Eugene Became a Mosquito Pilot?

I always learn something new about a man I never met in my life.

laporte2 001

Eugene Gagnon died on October 21, 1947 when his Republic Seabee crashed probably when the propeller shaft broke.


I was born a year later.

Eugene and I are not even blood related. So why this compultive need to search for this Mosquito pilot’s life even though he died almost 66 years ago?

Because he gave so much for his country and I love history and airplanes.


This being said, someone just gave me this information about Eugene’s training days by looking at his service record.


Something I did not know and always puzzled me.

Looks like Eugene was washed out of pilot training at St. Catharines two weeks before the rest of the course completed their training there. Someone else also washed out and ended up serving as a navigator (DFC) with 426 Sqn. The remainder of the course was posted to No. 14 SFTS Aylmer (Harvards) and No. 5 SFTS Brantford (Ansons).
After KTS Trenton (reselection), Eugene was posted to No. 4 Manning Pool in Quebec, rather than back to No. 1 Manning Pool in Toronto. He must have had more receptive listeners in Quebec than in Toronto, as they sent him back to Elementary Flying Training, this time at Mount Hope, as you know, home airport of CWH – ties in great with the Mosquito appearance at Hamilton this summer.

Eugene trained at Mt. Hope and flew Mosquitos!

Eugene could have been washed out! But he persevered.

George Stewart will be a guest speaker at the CWH Airshow.

poster Hamilton Air Show

I am sure that if Eugene was alive he would also be a guest speaker alongside George.

But then I probably would not have written 170 posts (and counting) on a blog about 23 Squadron if he had not died on October 21, 1947, and met Peter Smith on the Internet, and met George Stewart at his home in September 2011, or reunited George with his navigator’s children and so on, and so on, and so on… and have in my possession the journal of someone who met Eugene only once in his life…


Small world!

It Just Struck Me!

Click here… 

Someone just wrote a comment.

Tommy Smith was indeed a brave man…he had the courage to allow me to marry his eldest daughter!

Another notable member of 23 squadron was the young Douglas Bader. He lost both his legs after crashing a 23 Squadron Bristol Bulldog during an unauthorised aerobatic display at a civilian aeroclub at Woodley, near Reading, in 1931when only 21 years old.

I have very fond memories of Tommy Smith who was an inspiration to us all.

Richard Benson QC

I had never realized before that Douglas Bader was with 23 Squadron and that Tommy Smith had a daughter. When I was a young kid I knew about Douglas Bader, but nothing about Tommy Smith.

Tommy Smith

Small world.

The Journal


The journal was not Eugene Gagnon’s journal. It belonged to this man.


He only met Eugene Gagnon once in his life.

April 24, 1942.

Eugene must have written him a letter when he was posted in Manitoba, and Lawrence Walton Montague must have pasted part of the envelope on the cover of his personal journal.

journal13 Now how to give this journal back to this man’s relatives if he had any. Are there any clues in it?


How did I came about to link him with Eugene Gagnon?


Both were stationed at No. 6 STFS in Dunnville, Ontario.

I know you want to know more. This is a long story that I will post on my other blog Lest We Forget since this one is dedicated to 23 Squadron and  its pilots, navigators and ground personnel.

About 23 Squadron…

What about this and this.

poster Hamilton Air Show



I am a librarian in Florida and I am doing some research for a patron. The patron has come across one of Eugene Gagnon’s journals from around 1943. He would like to get it back to the Gagnon family.

Please email me if you can be of any assistance. Thank you very much and keep up the great work on this website.



Most Amazing Blog

Most amazing blog about No. 6 SFTS Dunnville

Lest We Forget

I had found this blog back in 2011 when I was searching for a little known Mosquito pilot. I went back to visit it last week as I was searching for information about this man who met Eugene Gagnon on April 24th, 1942.


This man is Lawrence Walton Montague.

Lawrence Walton Montague is not a war hero because we don’t find much information on him on the Internet.

This is a war hero in the first row. Back in 2010 there was little on the Internet about him. Things have changed a lot since then.

Bugg's picture with Eugene GagnonHow I came about to look for this war hero would fill a book.


But I did not have time to write a book about Joseph Achille Eugene Gagnon, a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot with 23 Squadron based at Little Snoring.

Eugene Gagnon 1945I wrote a blog about it instead.

To contact me use this contact form.

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Souther Field Revisited

This is a link to a webpage dedicated to Souther Field.

A few months ago I did not know anything about Souther Field.

Souther Field is where Theodore Griffiths got his primary training.

PT-17 in the background

A few months ago I did not know anything about Theodore Griffiths let alone he won a DFC and flew Mosquitos.

But you already know that don’t you.

Last week I did not know anything about this man who was a Primary Flight Instructor in Americus, Georgia.

Flight Instructor Shay

Robert F. Shay Jr is also seen here with a cadet in 1941 flying over Americus, Georgia. His son sent me this picture.


This is a section of the Website dedicated to Souther Field. This is one image from the Website.

There are more.

What is most interesting is that Theo left Americus on December 9th, 1941.

December 9 1941

Captain Pardue checked him out on December 6th. Theo did not fly on December 7th, 1941. On December 9th he flew in the review flight.

He rode in front…

There is the story about cadets who came to Americus in January 1942.

The Souther Cadet publication was produced by and for British Cadets receiving pilot training at Souther Field. The images below are of pages from one of the editions.

Click here.


T.R. and Charlotte Wellons’ Album

During WWII Souther Field in addition to being used as a training facility for U.S. pilots was also utilized as a training facility for British pilots of the RAF (Royal Air Force). During this time many local Americus families acted as hosts to these cadets. One such local couple was T.R. and Charlotte Wellons. The information and photos on this page are shared by their son Neal Wellons to whom we express our sincere thanks.

The following photos various British Cadets along with their hosts are from an album that belonged to T.R. and Charlotte Wellons.