George Henry Scott
Royal Canadian Air Force
who died in action
27 January 1944, age 22
The MemorialsGeorge is buried at the Hanover War Cemetery in Germany in a collective grave with other members of the crew that were killed at the same time. As yet we do not have a photograph of the grave site.
He is commemorated in the Book of Remembrance in the Peace Tower in Ottawa on page 439 of the Second World War book.
The Book of Remembrance
The Bomber Command Memorial
The Bomber Command Memorial is located in London, England as a tribute to the 55,000 airmen who lost their lives in actions against the enemy during WWII. While this memorial does not list those names, George is among those honoured. The memorial depicts members of a bomber crew as they appeared in those days, equiped for a flight. The airmen are wearing heavy clothing as protection against the cold and have oxygen masks at their aircraft were neither heated or pressurized.
The Commonwealth War Graves Registry
There is an on-line registry of commonwealth dead which contains information on the grave site of George Henry Scott as well as some personal information including the line that he is the "son of John and Joan Scott of Montreal"
Virtual War Memorial of Veterans Affairs Canada
The Department of Veterans Affairs in Ottawa maintains a web site maintains a virtual memorial to those Canadians killed in the wars. The page for George Henry Scott contains the photo which is used above and which must have been donated by a family member with whom we have yet to make contact.
The Last MissionOn the night of 27/8 January 1944 the 6th (RCAF) Bomber Group staged a mission to bomb Berlin. Included in this mission were Avro Lancaster II bombers from 408 (RCAF) Squadron, initially a squadron from Montreal, known as the Goose Squadron for its crest. In 1943-4 the squadron was based at Linton-on-Ouse about 15 km NW of the city of York in England. The bombers in this squadron had the squadron identification "EQ". Lancaster DS 849, the aircraft in which George flew his last mission, was designated as EQ-X. The photograph below, taken a few months later, shows EQ-Z, a similar aircraft of the squadron.
For this mission George was an air gunner on EQ-X which was captained by Flight Lieutenant Sven Laine, D.F.C. While this was an RCAF squadron, the crew contained not only Canadians but also RAF and RNZAF members. The aircraft took off from the base at Linton-on-Ouse about 5:45 pm on January 27th. The aircraft was loaded with 1 x 4,000 lb. HC, 2 x 150 x 4 Incendiary, 8000 rounds S.A.A. (presumably one 4,000 lb bomb, 800 incendiary bombs and 8,000 rounds of ammunition for the machine guns). On the approach to the target and on return the aircraft would be flying at about 20,000 feet (4 miles) altitude. The aircraft was not heated or pressurized and the external temperatures would be about -30 degrees. To endure these conditions the crew wore heavy and insulated clothing and donned oxygen masks above about 10,000 feet.
At this time of year, in that part of England, this would be a night take-off. The aircraft would join other aircraft of 408 Squadron and these squadron aircraft would join up with other squadrons of the 6th (RCAF) Bomber Group to form the attacking formation. The general destination of the attack was Berlin. Berlin had been repeatedly attacked since 1940 on a sporadic basis, but this attack occurred during what is considered the Battle of Berlin which lasted from 18 November 1943 to 30 March 1944. At the time of writing I do not have detailed information on the planned flight paths to and from the target. While the formation might have had some fighter cover for the first hour or so of the trip, such cover was restricted by the range and endurance of the fighter aircraft available at that time. Generally, these formations were subjected to flack (anti-aircraft artillery) on the approach paths and over the targets and also to night fighter attacks by the German airforce when not in flack zones. While in formation little evasive action could be taken when subjected to either form of attack for fear of colliding with other aircraft in the formation. The air gunners in the aircraft (there were three sets of machine guns in each aircraft) were located in the dorsal turret,the tail sand the nose. We do not know which position (dorsal or tail) was occupied by George. The machine guns were located in the nose and manned by the bomb aimer.
DS 849 was expected to return to base about 1:30 a.m. in the morning of 28 January. It did not return and no further information was available on what happened to it from other aircraft in the squadron.
This started an administrative process which would continue until after the end of the war. Firstly, on 28 January, having determined that the aircraft had not landed somewhere else in England, the status of the crew as missing was advised by telegram to Canadian Headquarters in Ottawa with direction to notify next of kin. Two days later on 30 January the squadron commander, Wing Commander D.S. Jacobs, D.F.C. sent a letter to each of the next of kin of the crew.
|The letter is addressed to
Mr. and Mrs. Scott (overlooking the information on his
personal file that his father had died in 1922) and is sent
to the 1468 Viau Street address in Montreal where his mother
lived. In the letter we learn that George had already
completed 14 missions for a total of 105 hours of
operational flying over enemy territory. Most of the rest of
the letter relates to the disposition of George's
possessions and the nature of how and when any further
information would be provided, while at the same time
holding out hope that George might be alive and might yet be
At some point before the beginning of April word was received through the International Red Cross Commision (IRCC) that an aircraft had crashed, killing all aboard, and that it contained five named crew members of George's crew and 3 unnamed persons. George was not among those named.
Interestingly this is not the last item related to George during this period. On his personal R.C.A.F. file is a letter and response at the beginning of April of that year. It references a letter from the squadron advising that he is missing and asking for an address for his mother.
The letter is interesting in a few ways:
Miss Kester received a response from the Air Ministry,
but, however, it was not particularly informative:
This response did not, in particular, provide Miss Kester
with contact information for George's mother. This lack of
information in the response was in general accord
with official policy at that time and probably now;
notification information was only made to the next-of-kin
and it was through them that others would learn. One
wonders if Miss Kester ever did make contact with George's
After the war the records of the German government were available to the Allies. Included in these was a record of the death of George.
BurialAfter the end of the war allied forces sought to determine the final resting places of aircrew that had disappeared during operations. The fate of DS 849 was part of this quest. There are numerous items on George's RCAF file related to the disposition of his remains. In summary they indicate that the aircraft crashed near the town of Wurges about 14 miles north of Wiesbaden in Germany. There were eight persons in the crashed aircraft and they were buried in a common grave in the local graveyard with a cross over the grave stating "8 Kanadische Flieger" (8 Canadian airmen). The bodies were stripped of their outer garments (the heavy garments would have been valuable in January at that time of the war in Germany). In accordance with agreed policy between the Commonwealth nations, the bodies were exhumed, identified where possible, and then buried in a British (later Commonwealth) War Grave. In the instance of this crew only one body was identifiable and the remaining crew members were buried in a common grave. All eight crew members are buried in two adjacent graves in Hanover, Germany.
It is not known if any family members have ever visited these graves and I plan to do so later this year (1915)
Birth, Childhood and Civilian Career
Born April 4, 1921 in Saskatoon Saskatchewan the third child of John Thomas Scott and his wife Joan, nee Phillips. He was their third child, being preceded by his older sisters Margaret (b. 1916) and Jeanette (b. 1918).
George's father, John, died on February 16, 1922 about 10 months after George's birth. George states on this attestation papers that he was raised by a foster mother who was his aunt Barbara (nee Phillips, married to John Devlin) from the age of 9 months. His mother, with three children under the age of 7 years at the time of John's death, appears to have moved (probably returned) to Montreal where she likely raised the two girls as a single mother but with help from her sister Barbara. George consequently did not know his father and on his attestation makes the statement that his father was drowned at sea.
From his attestation papers we gain an outline of his education. He attended Maisonneuve School in Montreal from 1927 until 1934, completing the 7th grade. He then had one year of high school at the Commercial High School. At that point he took employment with Anderson Smythe Co. of Montreal as a clerk. However he continued his education at night school for a couple of years taking business and commercial courses. After three years in clerical positions, in 1938 he obtained a job with Canadian Vickers as an aircraft mechanic, a job he held until he joined the RCAF in 1942. The only other information we have is that he played hockey and soccer extensively. The impression he gives is of an active, healthy well rounded person.
We also learn at the time of his induction into the RCAF something of his physical appearance. He was 5' 11 1/2", weighed 156 lbs. had a medium complexion, light brown hair, blue eyes, 20/15 vision in both eyes and a 35 inch chest. From the photograph above and this description he was clearly a striking young man.
The RCAF YearsGeorge joined the RCAF on March 17, 1942. As an aircraft technician at Vickers he would have been in a 'protected' trade and presumably not subject to conscription. As a volunteer he was awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. It would be interesting to know what would have caused him to volunteer in 1942 at the age of 21 when he might have volunteered earlier or not at all.
He initially asked to be considered for aircrew as a pilot or observer, however, due to his background at Vickers it was recommended that he be given a ground position as an aircraft engine mechanic (A.E.M.). He seems to have persevered in his desire for aircrew employment (the promotions and pay were better) and was eventually selected to be an air gunner (A.G.) His training in the RCAF, Canada, is itemized in the following extracts from his records. He went through basic training and then various other courses in Quebec and at RCAF Stn. Rockcliffe in Ottawa.
These documents shows that he received his qualification as an Air Gunner on 26 April 1943, that he completed air gunnery school and was promoted to promoted to F/Sgt (pd) and (importantly) entiteld to continuous flying pay from 20 March 1943. They also show that he was soon on his way to England embarking from New York on the fourth of May 1943 and arriving in the U.K. on 11 May 1943. From here a new record of his active service (form 1580) tracks his experience.
In the U.K. he is sent to the No. 3. PRC (a 'Manning' depot) for onward assignment. After spending 13 days there he is sent o No. 24 Operational Training Unit (O.T.U.) on the 25th of May. He spends almost two months there taking additional training as an air gunner before being sent to 408 (RCAF) Squadron on the 21st of July 1943. There are no further entries on his file until the disappearance of DS 849 on 28th January 1944. From the letter to his mother after he is reported missing we learn that he had completed 14 missions during this time period, an average of just over two per month.
MedalsGeorge, through his service was eligible for a number of medals. These were issued after the war and by this time the RCAF was using IBM punch cards to record the eligibility and awarding of the medals. The following punch card shows his awards which are for the 1939-45 star, the aircrew Europe star, the Canadian Volunteer Service medal with bar (for service in the face of the enemy) and the War medal. An additional bar, the Bomber Command bar, which only became available recently, could also be claimed by a family member who currently has the medals.
References and Comments
Further Research and Comments
1. This is a work in progress. Yet so far
much has been accomplished and I felt it important to
acknowledge all those who have helped me as well as to
synthesize the information so far accumulated on this
search. Any additional contributions will be much
2. To obtain information on any additional monuments or memorials that might include George's name. These might be at schools he attended or perhaps at a Legion Hall or in the City Hall in Montreal.
3. To visit the crash site and burial places of George.
This I plan to do on a trip to Europe this fall (2015).
©Kenneth Scott and others 2015email: ken at kenscott.com
first published 24 February 2015