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Thread: BCATP Mercy Flight

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    Default BCATP Mercy Flight

    Diary entry dated 4 February 1943, No.34 EFTS, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan - 14.00 - Telephone call received from S/L Summerville, Officer Commanding, No.15 EFTS. Regina, Saskatchewan, requesting that, if possible, this Unit arrange air transportation to Regina for a civilian child who was seriously ill at Coronach, Saskatchewan. The Officer Commanding this Unit, S/L H. Marsden (70445) consulted the Manager, Central Manitoba Flying Training School, Limited, and it was decided that this should be done. F/O E.G. Snowden (101031), Flying Instructor at this Unit, took off from the aerodrome, No.34 EFTS in a Tiger Moth fitted with skis, landed at Coronach and conveyed the child from there to Regina by air. He was escorted in this flight by S/L H. Marsden (70445) and P/O R.H. Day (132070) and the flight was uneventful.

    Winter mercy flights by BCATP units on the prairies were not uncommon. Prairie roads in the 1930s and 1940s were generally poor - even a short distance from villages they deteriorated into a pair of muddy ruts, and blizzards might isolate farms and small communities for days. Immediately after the war, the prairie provinces undertook road reconstruction that transformed the rural landscape, but until that was completed, there was much use of aircraft for emergency services. The Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Service was inaugurated on 3 February 1946.

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    Default Re: BCATP Mercy Flight

    Hello,

    S/L Summerville, OC, 15 EFTS.

    Possibly, C4799 S/L Ian SOMERVILLE AFC, RCAF. LG: 16/04/1943 - 15 EFTS RCAF.

    https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/...upplement/1744

    12 RCAF Men Decorated 11 Others on Honor List - Ottawa, April 15. AIR FORCE CROSS - Sqdn. Ldr. Ian Somerville, 34, native of Trail, B.C. who is serving at No. 15 Elementary Flying Training School, Regina, and whose next of kin is Mrs. I. Somerville, Trail.
    Globe and Mail, 16/4/1943.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 28th July 2020 at 11:06.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: BCATP Mercy Flight

    Quite right - I should have checked my own data bases which now record:

    SOMERVILLE, S/L Ian (C4799) - Air Force Cross - No.15 EFTS - Award effective 16 April 1943 as per London Gazette of 13 April 1943 and AFRO 1035/43 dated 4 June 1943. Born 22 September 1908. Enlisted in Vancouver, 7 February 1940 and posted to Trenton; granted rank of Sergeant as of that date. To uncertain posting, 27 May 1940. To No.31 EFTS, 5 November 1941. Commissioned in rank of Flight Lieutenant, 10 November 1941. To No.15 EFTS, 18 March 1942. Promoted Squadron Leader, 1 January 1943. To “Y” Depot, 10 March 1944. Overseas as of 12 March 1944. Repatriated 10 September 1945. To No.1 Air Command, 21 September 1945. To Test and Development Centre, Rockcliffe, 26 October 1945. To No.9 Surplus Equipment and Holding Unit, 6 November 1945. Returned to Test and Development Centre, Rockcliffe, 22 December 1945. To No. 8 Release Centre, 6 July 1946. Retired 19 July 1946. Award presented. RCAF photo PL-33446 (ex UK-15750 dated 11 October 1944) taken outside Buckingham Palace following investiture. The following citation found in Governor General's Records, RG.7 Group 26, Volume 57, file for 1943.

    Squadron Leader Somerville has been employed as Chief Flying Instructor at this school for the past ten months. The keen interest afforded by this officer to the training of every pupil at this school, coupled with his enthusiasm and devotion to duty, has made him an outstanding example to all instructors under him. He is an above average flying instructor and a capable officer who has completed a total of 2,588 flying hours, of which 1,288 hours are instructional given over a period of eighteen months.

    RCAF Press Release 6967 dated 7 May 1946 gives the following account from his participation in Exercise MUSK OX:

    Enthusiastic tribute was paid to Squadron Leader Ian Somerville of Trail, B.C. by the senior U.S. Air Force officer attached to Exercise Musk Ox for risking his life to fly a doctor to two men in a glider crash north of Fort Nelson. In a letter to Air Vice-Marshal A.L. James, Air Member for Research and Development at RCAF Headquarters, the U.S. officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward G. Butler, paid tribute to Somerville’s resourcefulness, skill and alertness and personal bravery.

    The accident occurred when a glider, loaded with a heavy engine, landed at high speed on an ice-covered lake. The nose ploughed into the snow and turned partly over. So heavy was the engine it tore loose from its moorings and pinned the American pilot and Canadian co-pilot into the nose. The former suffered shock and back injuries and the latter escaped serious injury.

    Squadron Leader Somerville volunteered to land a power glider on the lake with a doctor, although he was warned that a “pickk-up” of the power glider might be impossible with the result that he would have to remain on the lake for sa week until a ground party could reach him. As it happened another glider, as well as the power glider piloted by Somerville, were picked up and towed back to base.

    “I cannot compliment this officer too highly”, wrote Lieutenant-Colonel Butler. “Although his work with us in the past few months has been exceptionally fine, I feel that a definite service was rendered to the United States Army Air Force on this occasion. I felt he made this decision [to attempt the landing] with complete disregard for his own personal safety.”

    Not yet entered in the data base is his 1998 passing in Trail, B.C.

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