Less We Forget Poppy


The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.
A Canadian Hero

Less We Forget Poppy


Chapter 5: RETURN TO CANADA – RCAF St. HUBERT –No. 1 R&NS SUMMERSIDE

Section 5.1: RETURN TO CANADA

I had landed "safe" in the UK on 19–March 1945. I had last left the UK on my bombing mission 9–April–1942. I remained in the UK covering various debriefings etc for the rest of March and April.

In absentia, I had been promoted to:

Now since I was back and my story became known, certain elements in the R.C.A.F. were trying to ante or back date my promotion to Flying Officer.

Image Letter 19 April 1945
Image 2 Letter 19 April 1945
Image 3 Letter 19 April 1945

As the R.C.A.F. then noted in my personnel file, I was posted to CANADA W.E.F. (with effect from) 14–May–1945 with my home station being at least temporarily 1 Air Command Trenton.

I arrived at the # 1 Repatriation Depot in Lachine Quebec on 14–May–1945. I had some extended vacation coming, and did get a weekend with my mother and sister, before heading off to 1 Air Command Trenton for a quick 2 day visit.

Brooks Speculates On Next Career Move

At Trenton the RCAF gave me a Personal Counseling Report. After all I was in the Air Force Reserve and although Canada by that time had the world’s 4th largest air force, the move was to reduce costs and downsize manpower significantly.

Like so many of my peers, I could be downsized at any moment. There were only a certain number of open positions that would be made available for those in the air force reserve and at that time the air force were keeping their cards close to their chests. Although I was a war hero and my picture and story had certainly been in the papers, my war time active guerilla warfare experience had been closer to army commando then anything to do with flying. Compared to other Air Force officers, my flying time and experience were almost non–existent.

My Personal Counseling Report provides some insight to the vague thinking that I had at that time as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

Image Personal Counseling Report 1
Image Personal Counseling Report 2

As the Report indicates at that point in time I was "undecided" as far as what I wanted to do. Since the air force seemed very cautious and non–committal when future opportunities with the service were discussed, I vaguely stated that I might go back to school and complete my high school degree and then go on to university. Alternatively, I might apply for a position with the U.N.R.R.A. the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

I had liked school and in particular mathematics so going back to further my education seemed like a good thing to do …however it had been a few years…..and the years of action and war time experience had changed a few things...and I thought there must be some manner in which my acquired skills could be utilized.

I had heard good some general good things about the (U.N.R.R.A.) and it seemed like a potentially attractive match. The stated purpose of UNRRA was to:"plan, co-ordinate, administer or arrange for the administration of measures for the relief of victims of war in any area under the control of any of the United Nations through the provision of food, fuel, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities, medical and other essential services".

Perhaps it was this simple potential career move comment that led the R.C.A.F. to eventually think of me when the Missing Research & Enquiry Service opportunity arose. If so, I was to be very pleased with the outcome!

Section 5.2: R.C.A.F. Station St Hubert & Decline of Operational Flight Wings

As previously mentioned, my next posting was to be R.C.A.F. Station St Hubert.

However I had accumulated a lot of leave and the air force gave me a month of holidays from the end of May 1945 till end of June 1945.

A lot had happened since I left to go to war. My father had died, my sister had married, the family had moved from 6964 Drolet to 410 Belanger in Montreal. There was a lot of family and friends and just normal life acclimating catching up to do.

The last week of June 1945 I reported for duty at R.C.A.F. Station St, Hubert (just east of Montreal).

Once there I applied for my operational flight wings.

AFHQ (Air Force Headquarters) examined my request and declined to grant it. Their comment back was: "Has undoubtedly done commendable work in the line of duty but unfortunately he has insufficient number of air operations against the enemy."

While in England I had amassed: 55 hours on a Whitley and 25 hrs with a Wellington. With the 2 operational sorties I had 7 hours of operational flying and then 73 hours of what the air force called non–operational flying.

While both the Air Force and I mulled this situation over and decided on next steps, the recommendation of the R.C.A.F. Overseas Headquarters was brought before a Board of Officers for review.

Image Board of Officers Report

The pleasing outcome of this review was that I was retroactively promoted to (Temporary) Flying Officer effective 7–July–1944.

The R.C.A.F.’s solution to my "insufficient number of air operations against the enemy" to grant me my operation flight wings was to post me to No 1 R. & N.S. (Reconnaissance and Navigation School) Summerside to reacquire or brush up on the navigation skill set that had been exercised since the start of the war.

This move also bought the RCAF some time to figure out what to do with me, if anything, moving forward.

Section 5.3: No 1 Reconnaissance and Navigation School Summerside

I arrived at No. 1 R & NS Summerside on 3–August–1945.

I was there primarily for the S.N.I.N. (Staff Navigation Instructor/Navigator) course. R.C.A.F. Central Navigation School (CNS) had set up the SNIN course as an advanced navigator training course designed to qualify the selected candidates at the instructor level and to provide them with knowledge of navigation so that they could assume positions at training units.

The course was to last 17 weeks in total.

R.C.A.F. Summerside under G/C Lewis was very busy at that time with more than 1,600 persons at the base and more than 100 Mark V aircraft.

Navigation theory and procedures had changed (advanced) considerably since I last went through in March of 1941. I struggled a little here. Although mathematics was my favorite subject in school, my grade 11 level education did not provide me with the background needed to quickly adapt to the new mathematical concepts. I was passing – it was just difficult and required a lot of work. During August I hoped between Summerside and Trenton working on various aspects of the course.

MRES Opportunity Presents Itself

At the end of August 1945, the R.C.A.F. approached me with the opportunity to work with the Missing Research & Enquiry Service (M.R.E.S.) over in Europe. The Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was set up at the end of WW2 with a mandate to locate Commonwealth forces personnel who had gone missing or had died in missions over enemy held territory.

Canada wanted to contribute to the M.R.E.S. organization that the R.A.F. was setting up to search for missing Commonwealth airmen. This included a large number of Canadian aircrew. The thought was that my "independent" (aka guerilla – living off the land) war time activities in the mountainous regions of southern Poland, my navigation skills, my familiarity with aircraft and military uniforms, and my comfort with "foreign" languages might be well suited to the type of person that the M.R.E.S. needed.

I volunteered immediately! I felt a sense of duty to the memory of the incredible heroism in action and ultimate sacrifice given by the tens of thousands of airmen missing during the Second World War. It was a job well worth doing. I knew first hand the importance of proper closure that families sought for their loved ones and knew very well the impact of inaccurate communications. I knew I could do the job. I do not know if it was my mention of the UNRRA in my Personal Counseling Session or if the R.C.A.F. had arrived at this opportunity separately but regardless this was something that very much interested me.

Left SNIN Course & 1 Air Command Trenton & Arrival in Europe

My SNIN course was obviously cut short and I reported to 1 ACHQ (Air Command Headquarters) in Trenton on 18–September–1945 for briefings prior to my departure for Europe.

This was to be a 1 year posting to the M.R.E.S..

They gave me 2 weeks leave and then on 20–October–1945 I embarked Canada, dis–embarking in the UK on 31–October–1945.
I had made this ocean voyage several times now!




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