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Thread: Hugh Ross WILSON, R.C.A.F.

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    Default Hugh Ross WILSON, R.C.A.F.

    hello,

    I'm looking for details about Flying Officer Hugh Ross WILSON (J/23525), previously a NCO (R/58184) who was killed in action during the night 27/28th January 1944. He was a pilot, and was lost with the full crew of S/L C.W. SMITH, D.F.C., the 'A' flight commander of No. 408 Squadron.

    I have the details from Chorley volume 5, Canadian virtual War Memorial, and his Escape & Evasion report (WO 208/3308), when, as a navigator, he was the only one of his Whitley crew (Z6874) to evade capture, when the bomber crashed in Calais in October 1941.

    It seems members of his family have contacted one of the French family who helped him in Calais in 1941, but they failed to leave coordinates in order to be contacted back. He was the son of Frederick Alfred and Alice Beatrice (née Pound) Wilson, of Vancouver, British Columbia, and the brother of John David Wilson of Scarsdale, New York, United States of America.

    I'm trying to help the people in Calais, in case a visit should be organised later on, the Canadian family wishing to visit in July. Thanks in advance for your help.

    Joss

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    Default Hugh Ross Wilson

    Joss,

    I realise that this is a late reply to your post dated 2009 but I have just come across it and I have just joined this website in order to be able to respond to you.

    I believe that I may have a few details on the gentleman you are researching.

    In the last couple of years I have got to know an elderly gentleman who was a childhood friend of my Great Uncle. His name is James "Jim" Harris and he was an Air Gunner on Halifax's during WW2. Having initially joined the Fleet Air Arm he transferred to the RAF whereupon he underwent Air Gunnery training and was one of the tiny minority who passed out of Air Gunnery School with a commission. Jim undertook a period of flying with 22 Operational Training Unit - this is where he first met P/O Ross Wilson (Jim's log book records their first flight together was on 23/09/43 in a Wellington). During this time Jim flew with a number of pilots, but when he was moved to 1666 and 1679 Conversion Units they flew together nearly all of the time. Their last flight together occurred on 21/01/44 in a Lancaster of 1679 CU (by this time Ross held the rank of F/O). Following this they were both posted to 408 Squadron.

    I am certain that the Hugh Ross Wilson you are researching is the same Ross Wilson that flew with Jim Harris. The following seal it for me:

    - Jim has told me that Ross had previously completed a tour as a navigator;
    - that during this previous tour Ross had been shot down but survived and escaped back to England (with the help of some "ladies of the night" as Jim puts it);
    - that Ross was from Vancouver
    - that Ross held the rank of Flying Officer
    - after 21/01/44 there are no further entries in Jim's log book of flying with Ross (indicating that this is the Ross Wilson who was killed as you say on 27/28 Jan 1944)

    Jim has been very kind to me and gifted me a number of artefacts from his service days. Included amongst these items are his log book (which is where I got the above dates from) and some photographs. I have 2 pictures of Ross Wilson, one of him standing by himself looking very smart in his uniform and the other standing with his parents exhibiting a big smile. These would have been taken after his Navigator service because on his uniform are his wings (as a Navigator he would have only worn one wing).

    On the back of one of the photos of Ross are some notes that Jim had penned. His writing is not the clearest but the following is what I can decipher:

    "First trained as a Navigator, shot down over France. Parachute hung on cinema lights. "Ladies of the night" helped him, contacted French Resistance who got him to Spain - he walked over the Pyrenees. Back in Canada re-trained as a pilot. On first crew pilots have to take a trip with an experienced crew before taking his own on ops. He was killed on this trip".

    I should imagine that it was during his time back in Canada that the photo's I have were taken.

    Jim did not fly operationally with 408 squadron, instead he was posted to 420 RCAF whereupon he completed 35 operations mainly as mid-under turret gunner (note mid-under, not mid-upper. His variant of Halifax was a rare one which had a man lay flat on the floor just aft of the bomb-bay manning a single 0.5 calibre machine gun). Jim flew his last sortie on 30/10/44 to Cologne.

    Jim's hearing is very poor and he is rather fragile but his mind is as sharp as a man a fraction of his age. I am 31 and he keeps me on my toes! Jim has always spoken fondly of Ross and to this day he still has a picture of him hanging on his living room wall.

    I hope that this is of use to you. If you would like I can provide you with a list of all the training flights Jim undertook with Ross - they are all listed in Jim's log book.

    Kind regards

    Ian Macdonald

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    Default

    Hello,

    It's never too late to fill up a file about an airman. I think most of the forumites here are always happy when some new information can be found.

    Actually the "Amis du Vieux Calais" association proved totally unresponsive, and my last e-mail to their website about another subject was well received by their webmaster who forwarded it to the "chairmen", but either they don't want to share their infos, or they have no real interest in WW2 aviation.

    Indeed it looks like that's the same Wilson.

    You can contact me directly at JossLeclercq AT orange.fr (replace by the obvious)

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    Joss

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