Archive for the ‘World War Two’ Category

Don Duncan, Canadian serving with Radar Crew in Forgotten War

Don Duncan born in Green River, Ont. along with his brother Gordon responded to the call to duty to serve Canada at the age of 20 years old in the Second World War. Don joined the new RAF Radar Calibration Crew and was trained over a three month period by the RAF in Clinton, Ontario Canada along with 75 fellow Canadians who maintained the permanent and mobile radar crews in India and along the India Burma border during World War Two. Radar was innovative new technology defending the Indian colony from the invading Japanese

He was shipped overseas in March 1943 first to Edinburgh, Scotland then to Bournmouth, England and was billeted with the 403 Squadron in Valley, Wales( A night fighter crew)
Don worked to calibrate the ground radar stations along with other crew member members which included 40% Canadian and 60% British. When they shipped to the Burma border the crew was 60% Canadian and 40% British. He waited between three and four months awaiting to be shipped out which happened on Nov. 1943.

Top Row: Don and Gordon(Brother), Don Duncan at General Story, Don Duncan
Second: Canadian Radar Crew in India, Don’s Military Card, Duncan Family Portrait
Third: Original Names of Canadian crew, Radar Crew Reunion in Ottawa, Canadian Crew in India
Four: Cpl Don Duncan’s metals, Don Duncan(Now)
Five: Burma Star Pin, Burma Star Tie

Don’s life on the Burma India border started with a dangerous convoy trip across the Atlantic dodging the submarines and after spending a short time in the UK then he sailed on a former Dutch pleasure ship, the Marnyxvan St. Aldegonde commonly called the Marnix. around the Rock of Gilbratar on route to India. Alas, the ship was hit by a torpedo from a German fighter and they survived the blast to regain their trip to Bombay (Mumbai) India.

After arriving in Bombay India on December 1943, the 75 Canadians were scattered across Canada.
He joined the 62 Squadron(RAF) transport which involved daily maintenance over three shifts, starting the engines was a tough job.

Names( Original)

Don recalls how the villages on the Burma border was the domain of the British and Indian soldiers while at night the Japanese visited the same villages for supplies. An interesting relationship. The Japanese used the Radar Station as a beacon.

One of his memories of food whilst serving was eating ” Bully Beef and Rice” every day.

Don suffered from Dysentry and Jaundice while in the tropics and returned to his hometown in Green River, Ontario in December 1946 with substantial weight loss and he recalls spending alot of time next to the woodstove in the family General store.

Don served in the famous “Forgotten War” which had 8,000 Canadians during the Burma Campaign who served with the British Fourteenth Army.

In August 15, 2010, 100 veterans of the campaign gathered in Ottawa to celebrate their achievements

In honour of those who served see memorial dedicated on August 15, 1995 in Kingston Ontario


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Report from the Aleutians: 1943



Report from the Aleutians
47:04 – 3 years ago

A official documentary movie about the misson of the US forces on an island of the Aleutians, from which US bombers are attacking the Japanese occupied island Kiska. The movie includes footage from a bombing raid over Kiska with B-17 and B-24 bombers.

Sgt Sam Magee of FSSF  from Oshawa was involved in this invasion


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Story Ninety Seven: Satire and Nazi Germany

This BBC documentary posted at GoogleVideos looks at the clampdown on satire and other undesirable comedians as the Third Reich grew in power. The plight of specific groups (or “art”) tends to get lost in the scale of the much bigger human cost of WWII.

However here the film looks at how satire and jokes at Hitler’s expense were encouraged to some degree as he came into power but gradually anything deemed “subversive” was squeezed out and telling such jokes gradually became more and more dangerous. We hear about German comedians who are sentenced to hard labour in camps or even death as punishment for making jokes. This is recalled with well chosen recollections from a couple of people involved in the period and it serves to only make things worse by not being at all surprising. After this the film explores the general sense of humour on the street as the war started to turn back against German cities and civilians, where understandably there was a certain amount of gallows humour. Throughout the film the jokes are recreated by two German comedians

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Story Ninety Four: WW 2 War Cartoons

This is a collection of  politically incorrect cartoons  which  were a staple at  movie theatres during World World Two.  Many of their story  themes were adult oriented and aimed at the parents rather than children.

As the war years pressed on,  actors and entertainers were actively engaged to help boast  moral of the troops and the home guard , it is no wonder that the cartoons  followed suit do a similar job.   Interestingly these cartoons are far more racist and deliberate that the film noir movies and serials  during the same period which  worked overtime to influence public opinion.

We have set up another blog with a cross section of WW 2 cartoons from various video feeds including Disney, Tex Avery and a  German Nazi  cartoons


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Story Ninety-One: 2009 Calendar


Courtesy of William Sam Magee,  a  2009 calendar with pictures from the First Special Service Force,  an elite group of WW 2 Americans and Canadians.

Sam provides an entertaining story of his first dispatch with the force to Kiska

Click on link or icon to view the slideshow

Or you can download it at




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Story Eighty-Nine Children Evacuation and Canada


Over 7,700 children were evacuated from Britain to Canada for the duration of the war. Eighty percent were private evacuees sent abroad by wealthy families or sponsored by companies, service clubs, and institutions; they were accompanied by some 1,500 mothers

In 1939 with war about to break out, the government expected major air attacks on all Britain’s cities, and that this bombing would pave the way for a German invasion. The government felt it needed to get at least the children out of the city and into the safety of the countryside. Plans for the evacuation of school children began in July 1939 before the outbreak of war. Mass evacuation began on September 3rd 1939 the day that war was declared. Children, mothers and expectant mothers were moved out of the danger areas and into the relative safety of the countryside, to places in Kent, Sussex, Wales, Devon, Cornwall, and many other areas. Children returned to school from their summer holidays and suddenly found that they were all about to move to a different part of the country.

Most London children were evacuated through their schools.

Altogether 827,000 school children were evacuated along with 103,000 teachers and helpers. 524,000 children under the school age went with their mothers. 12,000 pregnant women also left the city to protect their unborn children.

London was bombed every night that September by an average of 200 planes each night. The devastation was immense. However on the 14th November, Coventry suffered the worst raid of the entire war. Over 400 bombers dropped more bombs (incendary and high explosive) than any part of London had experienced in one evening. Southampton, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester all suffered smaller scale destruction.

In the period of the Blitz (Autumn 1940 – Summer 1941) over 43000 civilians were killed including almost 5500 children. Over 190,000 bombs were dropped and nearly 1.25 million homes in the London Region alone were damaged

Source: ‘We Remember the Blitz’: compiled by Frank and Joan Shaw:
ISBN 1 872779 00 X

Life during the Blitz for Children is well depicted in the movie  Hope and Glory

Government  Initiatives, CORB,   despatched 2,664 children, who became known as ‘Seaevacuees’, over a period of three months.

Canada received the bulk of them – 1,532 in nine parties.

Three parties sailed for Australia, with a total of 577 children, while 353 went to South Africa in two parties and 202 to New Zealand, again in two parties.

Between 21 July and 20 September 1940, 16 voyages were made carrying 2,664 children to new lives in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa

Read a story of a girl from Grimsby, UK  who along with her two sisters  stayed in Montreal ,   story from the WW 2 BBC  series,  it is  calledEvacuation to Canada 1940 – 1945  by Marjorie Smith

The  evacuees  were not all treated  well  by their relatives  or  foster parents  and  a number  of  stories  are told on the BBC  People’s  War  site  which includes over 14,000 memories


Oshawa Author:  Brian Perks

A  local  Oshawa resident  Brian Perks  published his  own memories of his   experience , he  also provides an engaging presentation for children  in Oshawa schools of  the emotional pain  of separating parents from young children.


Oshawa  based  writer  Brian Perks, author of  The Plight of the Wartime Child Evacuees, One  Boy’s  Story,


YouTube Video

Watch Audio Soundslide



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Story Eighty-Eight: Prisoners of War


Approximately 9,000 Canadian soldiers, airmen, naval sailors and merchant seamen were captured by the enemy and held as prisoners of war (POWs) during the  Second World War.

The first Canadian POW  was  Flying Officer Alfred B. Thompson of Penetanguishene, Ont., who had joined the RAF in 1937  and was  captured on Sept. 9, 1939

1,946 who were captured during the raid on Dieppe in 1942 alone


The Great Escape

One of the most famous was  Flying Officer Clark Wallace Floody of Chatham, Ont. who  was a Spitfire pilot with No. 401 Sqdn.

A Canadian Flying Officer, Clarke Wallace Floody, was called the architect of the “Great Escape” – perhaps the most famous POW escape of the Second World War in which 76 Allied prisoners escaped Stalag Luft 3, a German POW camp in 1944. After he was shot down over France, Floody was captured and put in the camp. While imprisoned, he used his pre-war mining experience to help survey, design and engineer three tunnels, nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry, which were built as possible escape routes. Harry— the tunnel the men eventually used for the escape—was more than 100 metres long and was 10 metres underground.

Extensive story found at Legion Magazine by Hugh Halliday



Philip Lagrandeur, We Flew, We Fell, We Lived

Hong Kong Prisoners of War

Oshawa’s  veterans who were POW  in Hong Kong included: Jack Arthur, Edward Bolton, Henry Galbraith, William Lee, Edward Lott, Jeffrey Marston, Fredrick Mason and Mathew Murray.  A  PDF resource kit is available created by History teacher, Flora Fungfrom Oshawa Central Collegiate Institute Oshawa, ON  see resource http://www.hkvca.ca/teacherszone/index.htm

Important to note that two Canadian Nurses were POW in Hong Kong, these nursing sisters, Kay Christie  of Toronto and May Waters of Winnipeg.  they were the only Canadian Women as POW’s

Canadians in Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Twenty-Six Canadians among a total  of  142  airmen which were  British, American, Australian and New Zealand airmen, spent several months in Buchenwald Concentration Camp in eastern Germany in the summer and fall of 1944.

A rarely seen documentary from PBS on the conditions of the concentration camps.  Nazi Germany killed 11 million people in the various camps.

Caution:  Video is very graphic


No information on the cities of origin of these Canadians

A NFB  movie  by Director  Michael Allder produced  a  movie detailing their trails  and tribulations  called ”  The  Lucky Ones” in 1994.


Watch Soundslide



To read various  POW  stories  visit


Interesting educational video produced by US Airforce  teaching the soldiers how to escape


POW  and board game  Monopoly

According to the recent newsletter from the War Grave Photographic Project

http://www.twgpp.org,  January 2009  newsletter

Only recently in 2007  this story has been declassified in the UK which reported  that the Waddington company produced speciality pieces for the popular board game to include a  silk map, various currencies and a compass.  Apparently  1/3 one third of the 35,000 POW allies  who escaped used this popular game

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