Sergeant Walter McKinnon RCAF Air Gunner

 

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A wonderful post war colour photograph of Walter back in Canada.

 

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The following log book records the operational career of Canadian Walter McKinnon RCAF. I am indebted to John MacKinnon for allowing me to reproduce the Log Book pages and the photograph of his father. The first pages deal exclusively with Walters early training, from gunnery training with No.3 Bombing & Gunnery School, crewing-up at No.12 Operational Training Unit based at RAF Chipping Warden. 

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Part 2 of the Log Book records training at No.1483 Gunnery School at RAF Marham, followed by conversion to the Short Stirling at No.1657 Con Unit based at RAF Stradishall.

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Part 3  Walter is now operational, the following pages record both his training and operational flights.

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On July 17th you will note that McKinnon carried out a fighter affiliation flight with Sergeant Arthur Aaron.

27.06.1943 : Mining (Nectarines) N3721 HA-J 23:40hrs-03:20hrs (5hrs aloft)

6 x Sea Mines

 Duty Carried.

03.07.1943: Cologne : EH884 HA-X 23:30hrs-04:35hrs (Aloft 5hrs 5

810x4lb+96x30lb Incendiaries

Aiming point identified by Red & Green TI Markers in slight haze. Bombs dropped from 12,000ft

24.07.1943: Hamburg  : EH884 HA-X, 22:30hrs-05:00hrs (Aloft 6hrs 30 mins)

1x2000lb HE + 450 x 4lb + 48 x 30lb Incendiaries

Very good fires, well concentrated, smoke up to 12,000ft. NB: ORB makes no mention of fighter attack. Click to see report.

25.07.1943: Essen : EH884 HA-X, 22:30hrs-03:15hrs (Aloft 4hrs 45 mins)

1x2000lb HE + 1 x 500lb HE + 630 x 4lb + 56 x 30lb Incendiaries.

Attacked from 14,500ft in rather bad visibility on Red TI Markers, several large fires burning.

 27.07.1943: Hamburg : EH884 HA-X, 22:20hrs-05:00hrs (Aloft 6hrs 40 mins)

720x4lb + 80x30lb Incendiaries.

Attacked at 15,500ft, poor visibility on Green TI Markers. Very large fires and one big explosion, building ablaze. One huge explosion on leaving target.

 30.07.1943 : Remscheid : EH923 HA-W, 22:30hrs-02:50hrs (Aloft 4hrs 20 mins)

810x4lb+96x30lb Incendairies

Bombed from 15,500ft on Red TI Markers. Good fires, well concentrated on TI’s. Good prang.

It would appear that either Walter McKinnon filled in his log book monthly, which was highly irregular or just forgot to complete his flights for August. The hand writing is most definitely not McKinnon’s and looks similar to that of Squadron Leader Howard Saunders “A” Flight Commander. Note that F/Lt Kenneth Balding’s signed the end of month summary for S/Ldr “A” Flight?

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02.08.1943 : Hamburg : EH884 HA-X 23:45hrs-05:10hrs (Aloft 5hrs 25 mins)

720x4lb+80x30lb Incendiaries.

Abandoned due to icing, bombs jettisoned fussed.

10.08.1943 : Nuremburg : 22:20hrs-23:45hrs (Aloft 1hr 25 mins) 

Starboard inner u/s. Dropped bombs Rushford Range

12.08.1944 : Turin : EH884 HA-X 21:25hrs-05:45hrs (Aloft 8hrs 20 mins)

450x4lb + 56 x 30lb Incendairies

Bombed from 14,500ft on Green TI’s.

 16.08.1943 : Turin : EH884 HA-X 20:20hrs – FTR

136x30lb Incendiaries. 

The route to target was bathed in bright moon light. It was while approaching Amberieu that the crew of W/O Stanley Chudzik were intercepted and attacked by Oblt Hans Kulow of 9./NJG4 at approximately 00.43hrs.  The Stirling was immediately set on fire, a fierce fire started in the bomb-bay, probably the result of the incendiaries being hit during the attack.  Sergeant Donald Deans the crews flight engineer, valiantly tried to put out the fire with a portable hand extinguisher,  he soon realized that it was a loosing battle.  He instructed Stanley to jettison the bombload, but it was too late. The fire had by this time engulfed the engineers cabin and was quickly spreading aft to the mid uppers position.  Aware of the danger Stanley ordered the crew to bail out, it was too late. Only two crew members managed to leave the blazing Stirling before it crashed to earth, Walter and Sergeant James Patterson the crews navigator.  Walter, who had been wounded in the fighter attack was soon captured, he was taken to a local hospital where his wounds were treated. He subsequently ended in in Stalag 356 Kopernikus. James Paterson was more fortunate, he managed to evade capture and returned to England in 1944.  The combat was witnessed by two squadron crews, who reported the encounter upon their return to Downham Market.  The bodies of the crew were recovered from the wreckage and  buried locally, they were later transferred to Lyon Cemetery. Close to the crash site a memorial was erected in memory to the crew of EH884 HA-X, it is a fitting tribute to a brave young crew.

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