Needing Help with a Research Project

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by Hannah.B, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. Hannah.B

    Hannah.B Member

    Hi!

    I already read the forum about the sudden burst of research projects, and I can confirm that we're basically all from the same high school. We were actually referred here to ask for help finding information, as we found out that some people on here are good at finding information. Our project is to make a biography on soldiers who attended our high school, and our teacher is planning to make the biographies into a book so people can learn more about WW2 soldiers from Edmonton.

    Anyway, needless to say I am one of those high school students. I would like to find out more about my soldier so he isn't misrepresented, or there isn't crucial details I miss out on because of my lack of knowledge.

    I don't really know much about WW2 or anything to do with war, really. I had received a folder full of papers and documents for my soldier, whose name is Donald McDonald, but a lot of it doesn't make sense to me, and I don't have a clue how to look anything up that would help me understand.

    Most of the documents I have are found on ancestry.ca (sorry for the huge link incoming)


    http://interactive.ancestry.ca/9145/44485_83024005549_0595-00356?pid=15598&backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.ca%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fgss%3dangs-c%26new%3d1%26rank%3d1%26msT%3d1%26gsfn%3dDonald%2bFrancis%26gsfn_x%3d0%26gsln%3dMcDonald%26gsln_x%3d0%26msbdd%3d2%26msbdm%3d7%26msbdy%3d1914%26msddd%3d14%26msddm%3d5%26msddy%3d1943%26cpxt%3d1%26cp%3d3%26MSAV%3d0%26uidh%3d000%26pcat%3d39%26h%3d15598%26recoff%3d5%2b6%2b7%2b33%26db%3dCANWWIIkia%26indiv%3d1%26ml_rpos%3d1%26nreg%3d1&treeid=&personid=&hintid=&usePUB=true

    The things that I do know are that he was in the Air Force, and that he was born to George Edward McDonald and Julia O'Sullivan. He had no siblings (or any he spoke to, none were written on the forms i found). He was single when he enlisted, and he enlisted in 1941. I found some personal details of him as well in the papers. He was (buried?) in the Rheinberg War Cemetary in Germany. I have also found a picture of him on Ancestry.ca. Apparently he went MIA while flying somewhere, although I don't know many details.

    Any help is greatly appreciated, even a nudge in the right direction.

    Thank you!

    -Hannah


    EDIT: Right now I am looking around the bac-lac website, (Thanks to whoever posted a link in the other thread!) I'll update this thread with new info in case anyone is also interested

    EDIT 2: Oh wow I forgot to post his military number thing, it's R93881

    EDIT 3: http://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=CanCen1921&indiv=try&h=6238587 i found this about him, too.
     
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  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello Hannah

    I am not sure your edit is in the best taste regarding the casualties name.
    He wasn't a soldier he was in the Royal Canadian Air Force




    McDONALD, DONALD FRANCIS




    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=18407545&PIpi=124761397[​IMG]
    Rank:

    Flight Sergeant

    Trade:

    Nav./Bomber

    Service No:

    R/93881

    Date of Death:

    14/05/1943

    Age:

    25

    Regiment/Service:

    Royal Canadian Air Force



    149 (R.A.F.) Sqdn

    Grave Reference:

    Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12.

    Cemetery:

    RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY



    Additional Information:

    Son of George E. McDonald and Julia E. McDonald, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.






    Royal Canadian Air Force
     
  3. Hannah.B

    Hannah.B Member

    Thanks! Just for clarification, how would I refer to someone in the RCAF if they're not soldiers?
     
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    thank you for editing that out re his name

    You can use the term Airmen


    Edit typo
     
  5. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Hi Hannah,

    Just to clarify a few points on the different services that are used in a countries defences.

    Army members are referred to as "Soldiers" and are predominantly land forces.

    Navy members are referred to as "Sailors" and are Sea forces.

    Air force members are referred to as "Airmen" and may fly fighter Aircraft or Bomber Aircraft, Transport aircraft etc.


    In your specific research case, R/93881, Flight Sergeant Donald Francis McDonald was a Navigator/Air Bomber on a Stirling III Bomber aircraft which usually had a crew of seven who all had a specific function.

    Donald's position in the aircraft was to ensure that the aircraft went to where it was supposed to go by using instruments and map charts (Like a human GPS) which they of course, did not have in those days. His job was to get them to their bombing target and drop the bombs in the right place and get them home again to their home airfield in England.

    A bomber aircraft crew could be made up of different countries aircrew. RAF (UK), RCAF, RAAF (Australian) or RNZAF (New Zealand) airmen.

    The crew of a bomber aircraft were listed like this with different types of "Bomber" having a different crew mix.

    Pilot (Captain)
    Co-Pilot or 2nd Pilot (Not on Donalds Aircraft when he was lost.)
    (Flight Engineer)
    (Navigator/ Air Bomber)
    (Wireless Operator)
    (Front Gunner)
    (Mid Upper Gunner)
    (Rear Gunner)

    I am sure Peter will be along with the details of how Donald's Aircraft was lost.

    Cheers

    Geoff
     
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  6. Hannah.B

    Hannah.B Member

    Wow! Thank you!
    Thanks for the clarification of how to refer to different people, i had no idea.

    That's incredibly helpful!
     
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    If you search here - http://search.ancestry.ca/search/db.aspx?dbid=9145&geo_a=r&geo_s=ca&geo_t=ca&geo_v=2.0.0&o_iid=41016&o_lid=41016&o_sch=Web+Property in the Canada, WWII Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947 you will find lots of useful info for your project.

    You can also search here - http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/second-world-war/second-world-war-dead-1939-1947/Pages/files-second-war-dead.aspx
    Library and Archives Canada - Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947

    TD
     
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  9. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Hannah, please find the following details re the sad loss of your man. Please give credit in your paper to the source listed below......

    13-14 May 1943

    149 Squadron
    Stirling III BK726 OJ-Z
    Op. Bochum

    The aircraft took off from RAF Lakenheath at 0005 hours. Shot down by a night-fighter and crashed at Immerath, 9 km south east of Erkelenz, a small town 14 km south south west of Monchengladbach, where all were brought for burial in the Stadtfriedhof on 18th May. Since the cessation of hostilities their remains have been exhumed and removed to Rheinberg War Cemetery. Their average age was 21.

    Crew

    P/O. H E. Forsyth RCAF +
    Sgt. J J. Ryan +
    F/S. D F. McDonald RCAF +
    F/S. Y J B. Guepin RCAF +
    P/O. D E. Sharpe +
    Sgt. L P. Barnett +
    Sgt. W. McCall +

    Source - RAF Bomber Command Losses Vol.4 - W R. Chorley.

    During the night of 13-14 May 1943, 442 aircraft attacked Bochum, 13 Halifax's, 6 Wellington's, 4 Stirling's and 1 Lancaster were lost.

    ​During the course of 1943, RAF Bomber Command visited Bochum on 25 occasions. 1544 aircraft were dispatched with 1334 attacking the target, which consisted of industry and oil. 2239 tons of high explosives were dropped along with 1994 tons of incendiaries. 69 aircraft were lost.

    Further details of the crew can be found here http://www.cwgc.org/
     
  10. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    There is a slightly unusual aspect to McDonald's burial.
    You'll note that it shows he is in a Collective Grave 1-12.
    Usually Collective Graves are for known crew members but due to the explosion or burning of the crashed aircraft, individual identities cannot be given to any set of remains. Often RCAF crew could be identified by the darker blue of their uniforms, or others from their position in the wreckage.
    The normal crew was 7 men and often the rear gunner could bale out through a hatch in the back of his turret, so most times Collective Graves are 6 men or less.
    A Collective Grave for 12 men indicates to me that perhaps there was a mid air collision and both bombers crashed in one place, and therefore the remains of 12 men could not be separated.

    The crew was: (pilot first)
    FORSYTH, HAROLD EARL. Rank: Pilot Officer. Trade: Pilot. Service No: J/17672. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 20.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 149 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Grave Reference: 2. F. 20. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of J. H. Forsyth and Edith S. Forsyth, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

    then McDonald as navigator; followed by

    GUEPIN, YVON JEAN BAPTISTE. Rank: Warrant Officer Class II. Trade: Bomb Aimer. Service No: R/108356. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 21.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 149 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Grave Reference: 2. F. 21. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of Francis and Anne Guepin, of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada.

    SHARPE, DONALD ERNEST. Rank: Pilot Officer. Trade: W.Op./Air Gnr. Service No: 144690. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 21.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 149 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: 2. F. 22. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of Ernest William and Florence Mary Sharpe, of Hinckley, Leicestershire.

    RYAN, JAMES JOSEPH. Rank: Sergeant. Trade: Flt. Engr. Service No: 614624. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 22.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force 149 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of Leonard and Mary Agnes Ryan, of Birch Vale, Derbyshire.

    BARNETT, LAURENCE PHILIP. Rank: Sergeant. Trade: Air Gnr. Service No: 1319840. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 21.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 149 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: 2. F. 23. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of Maurice and Julia Barnett.

    McCALL, WILLIAM. Rank: Sergeant. Trade: Air Gnr. Service No: 651839. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 21.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force 149 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of Ogilvie and Georgina McCall, of New Hartley, Northumberland.
    (so all 7 of the Stirling crew lie together, having been shot down most likely by flak with co ordinates of the crash near Gladbeck, just to the northwest of the target)

    The other aircraft was from 429 Squadron (The RAF allocated the 400 series Squadron Numbers to the RCAF which flew Wellingtons at the time, so it was one of the 6 lost that night.)

    ATKINSON, ALBERT EARL. Rank: Sergeant. Trade: W. Op. Service No: R/134035. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 19.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 429 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of John and Hazel Helena Atkinson, of Wellington, British Columbia, Canada.

    HAVARD, DONALD IVOR. Rank: Flight Sergeant. Trade: Air Gnr. Service No: R/139686. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 20.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 429 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of Alfred and Laura Havard, of Adanac, Saskatchewan, Canada. (can you work out what Adanac means?
    There's also a CWGC Cemetery from WW1 of that name). Also many pilots would recognise the name of a popular training aircraft.

    REID, WILLIAM JOHN. Rank: Flight Sergeant. Trade: Nav. Service No: R/142433. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 20.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 429 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of David A. Reid and Maria Reid, of Spalding, Saskatchewan, Canada.

    WINDIBANK, FRANK RICHARD. Rank: Flight Sergeant. Trade: Pilot. Service No: R/103246. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 31.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 429 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of William Edwith Windibank and Annie Rose Windibank, of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada; husband of Donalda Irene Windibank.

    but there is also these crew members in the same communal grave..... (102 Squadron flew Halifax bombers, so this was one of the 13 shot down.)
    BROWN, SIDNEY. Rank: Sergeant. Trade: Air Bomber. Service No: 1322948. Date of Death: 14/05/1943.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 102 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. Grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY

    HATCHARD, VINCENT HERBERT. Rank: Sergeant. Trade: Pilot. Service No: 1392608. Date of Death: 14/05/1943. Age: 21.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 102 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Son of Herbert and Gladys Hellender Hatchard, of Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand.

    LEEDHAM, JOHN. Rank: Sergeant. Trade: W.Op./Air Gnr. Service No: 1291992. Date of Death: 14/05/1943.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 102 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.

    LEE, WILLIAM TRESSILLIAN. Rank:Sergeant. Trade: Flt. Engr. Service No: 577037. Date of Death: 14/05/1943.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force 102 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Coll. grave 2. G. 1-12. Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY.


    You've no doubt researched the Stirling bomber and found that it was the first of the RAF "heavy" 4 engined bombers into service. It was a nice aircraft to fly once airborne but had difficult handling tendencies on takeoff and landing.
    The RAF's largest hangars had an opening just over 100ft wide, so that was the limitation for the wingspan on the designers, and the shorter wing span limited its operational ceiling, and brought it into easier reach of night fighters and anti aircraft guns, flying lower than Halifaxes or Lancasters.

    There are Loss Cards detailing many of the Bomber Command losses, and can often show not only the number of Operations the pilot had flown, but the Squadron Identification letter for that aircraft (which also had a unique Serial Number) So "your" Stirling took off at 5 minutes past midnight on the 14th May, from Lakenheath in Suffolk, part of over 440 bombers to attack the city of Bochum, in the strategically important Ruhr valley. 24 aircraft, being 13 Halifax; 6 twin engined Wellingtons, 1 Lancaster and 4 Stirlings were lost, almost 5.5% of the force. 24 x 7 men, you do the maths....! 149 Squadron was allocated the Squadron code letters OJ followed by a single letter for the individual aircraft.

    Because the Ruhr region was an area of high residential density and a centre for the manufacture of weapons, it was a major target in the war. Women with young children, school children and the homeless fled or were evacuated to safer areas, leaving cities largely deserted to the arms industry, coal mines and steel plants and those unable to leave.

    Bochum was first bombed heavily in May and June 1943. On 13 May 1943, the city hall was hit, destroying the top floor, and leaving the next two floors in flames. On 4 November 1944, in an attack involving 700 British bombers, the steel plant, Bochumer Verein, was hit. One of the largest steel plants in Germany, more than 10,000 high-explosive and 130,000 incendiary bombs were stored there, setting off a conflagration that destroyed the surrounding neighbourhoods. An aerial photo shows the devastation.

    The town centre of Bochum was a strategic target during the Oil Campaign. In 150 air raids on Bochum, over 1,300 bombs were dropped on Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. By the end of the war, 38% of Bochum had been destroyed. 70,000 citizens were homeless and at least 4,095 dead. Of Bochum's more than 90,000 homes, only 25,000 remained for the 170,000 citizens who survived the war, many fleeing to other areas. Most of the remaining buildings were damaged, many with only one usable room. Only 1,000 houses in Bochum remained undamaged after the war. Only two of 122 schools remained unscathed; others were totally destroyed.

    You may want to research in greater depth from the starter clues we've given you, not simply "cut and paste" what you've been given
     
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  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Kevin, you wrote "You've no doubt researched the Stirling bomber and found that..............."


    Hannah wrote "Thanks! Just for clarification, how would I refer to someone in the RCAF if they're not soldiers?"



    Hmmmmmmmm
    TD
     
  12. Hannah.B

    Hannah.B Member

    Wow, this is incredible. Thank you so much for this. Through my own research I found the plane he had been on, and the mission, but knowing who was on it and why they went is great, thank you!!
     
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  13. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Hannah,

    Well done for returning to thank these good people, perhaps a little reminder to your classmates to do likewise ? :)


    Kyle
     
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  14. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    TD: Perhaps you missed Hannah's post #6?

    The startling thing is that the ages of many of those killed aren't far different from these students making the enquiries.
    A sad aspect is that Hannah and others simply have very little idea about the military and political background to WW2.

    I just hope it sparks an interest to find more by Googling the various items of information so they can truly add "their own take" on what these young people did.
    Climbing in to a practically obsolete, slow and vulnerable bomber night after night, braving not only cold, ice, snow and rain (how does one sit in a nose turret with a 200mph cold wind, rain etc in your face for up to 8 hours?) and seeing not only burning aircraft falling, but attacks by night fighters, being coned by searchlights and targetted by flak guns almost all the way there and back sitting in a small metal tube filled with petrol and high explosives. The bond of comradeship forged in these highly charged times is often the only reason they would get back into their aircraft and go through the experience time and again.
     
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  15. Hannah.B

    Hannah.B Member

    It is a very scary thought that the people who went to this war (and many others) were barely older than I am now. I can't imagine being in the position that many people were back then.
    This project has put a lot of things into perspective for me, Donald McDonald was ambitious in his music career and had loved to golf and play other sports, and I can't imagine the bravery it must have took to go to war and serve his country.

    I've really enjoyed researching for this paper, I really like fitting different pieces of information together to show off who Donald was as a person and what he did. Reading about the different things he (and other people) had to go through for the country is equally scary and fascinating.

    I came into it not knowing anything, really, about WW2 and what happened and how it affected people, but I really want to keep researching and finding out more about what went on now
     
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  16. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Hannah,

    The attached should help a bit with the various theories (mixed graves) etc.

    Paragraph one gives you a cause of loss (Luftwaffe nightfighter) and the fact the aircraft was still carrying its bombload.

    Paragraph two makes me think that F/Sgt McDonald was the airman who survived a few hours.

    The description provided matches him from height and build to lip size.

    Good luck with your project.

    Regards,

    Dave
     

    Attached Files:

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  17. Hannah.B

    Hannah.B Member

    Looking at the picture of him I found, paragraph two definitely does seem to describe him. Wow thank you so much
     
  18. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Hannah: Beware! That's how many of us started, and look at us now!
     
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  19. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Hannah,

    I would not be too worried about describing F/S McDonald RCAF as a soldier.The fact that you knew his service number with the unique R prefix would indicate to anyone with research expertise that the soldier was in fact a RCAF serviceman.

    The CWGC website database,given that information such as a name and equally a service number will reveal the service background to a casualty,namely rank,name,service number,branch of service,unit/ for aircrew usually a casualty's crew designation ,say Pilot etc, NOK(next of kin), date of death and burial location where the body has been identified.If the casualty has no known grave,the casualty will be remembered on an appropriate CWGC memorial.For the RAF, the Empire and Dominion air forces missing without a known grave,the Air Force Memorial at Runnymede which lists all those lost is a fitting tribute.

    Data such as unit (say Squadron in the case of aircrew) and NOK, can for various reasons be found to be omitted from the CWGC records.

    Rheinberg Military Cemetery is known as a consolidated cemetery, created as others in Germany in the 1950s to re-inter casualties previously buried in a multitude of locations,some remote,some not.The same practice was also carried out after the Great War in 1922.

    I must say I do like Canada's tribute to its war dead by the naming of geographical locations such as lakes after the dead.I do not know if F/S McDonald has such a place named after him....there must be a database of those locations so named.

    No 149 Squadron was in No 3 Group, RAF..... it was a not unusual for RCAF servicemen to serve in RAF squadrons although the RCAF had its own dedicated Group, No 6 Group,operating from Yorkshire airfields

    Good luck with your project.
     
  20. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Hannah,
    I am a Canadian. I want to say thank you for saying thank you to all of the forum members who have helped you with your project. If you see a few classmates from your school who have received some help with their own assignments via this forum, perhaps give them a nudge to say thanks to those forum members who lent a hand.
    cheers
     

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