In Memory of




George Henry Scott 

Photo of George Henry Scott –
              George visited my wife's grandmother (Mrs Kester)when he
              was in London.(Greyhound road,Hammersmith.) He may have
              stayed there ?. My wifes mother had the picture and the
              poem in a frame.

Flight Sergeant
408 Squadron
Royal Canadian Air Force

who died in action
27 January 1944, age 22



The Memorials

George 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
Page 439 - Second World
                          War
The Memorial Roll in the Peace Tower in the House of Commons in Ottawa
This roll lists all of the war fatalities of the Canadian Forces and the page shown above includes the name of George Henry Scott.


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 Mission

On 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.



Wing Commander D.S. Jacobs, who signed the above letter, is seated on the left in this photograph taken in December 1943


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 heard from.

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:
  • someone on the squadron communicated George's missing status to her. Was this a friend of George who knew her?
  • George's mother was from Scotland. Was this Miss Kester a relative that he had made contact with in England? But, if so, she would presumably have known the address for George's mother
  • was this a girlfriend of George's?

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 mother.

By August 1944 action was taken to classify the status of George as presumed to have died on 27 January 1944 based on the fact that eight persons had been buried at the crash site, that the IRCC had advised that Germans sources provided that information, and that a significant time had elapsed since the event.

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.




Burial

After 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 Years

George 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.

Medals

George, 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

  1. When DS 849 was lost, that aircraft was struck off strength of the squadron and another aircraft acquired and  given the same identifier "EQ-X". EQ-X was not a lucky identifier. On the night of 24/25 February 1944 DS 844 bearing this same EQ-X identifier was lost over Schweinfurt, Germany. Altogether, during the war, at least 8 aircraft from 408 Squadron with this designation were lost [ search lostaircraft.com]
  2. George did not get selected as a pilot and I wondered if his CT score of 37 or his lack of education might been the cause. The Arnprior Experiment in 1943 examined the question of pilot selection and in a report on the experiment (a doctoral thesis) the following statement was  made: "The applicant was temporarily accepted, subject to findings of the medical examination, if he was between 17 1/2 and 33 years of age, if his CT score was 30 or more, and if he satisfied the interviewer that he sincerely desired to take up aircfrew training and would accept the aircrew trade to which he might be assigned later by the Classification Board at the Manning Depot. Lack of formal education was no bar to enlistment but candidates who has not completed Grade VIII were not accepted without relatively high CT scores. . . the CT score limit of 30 was nevertheless considerably below the score of 48 normally required of pilot candidates".


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 appreciated.

2. This biography of George Henry Scott is based solely on documentary evidence that I have managed to collect personally and through the assistance of various institutions and individuals mentioned in the acknowledgement sections. It is also a biography that has come into being over just a month or so since I first learned of the existence of George Henry Scott, my second cousin twice removed. The part of the family of which George Henry was the youngest son was also unknown to anyone in my part of the family and even to an aunt of his with whom I am pursuing this story. Consequently a very important part of the story, that of personal recollections or family lore is missing. To fill in some of that detail a first task is to make contact with descendents of the following:
  • Barbara (Phillips) Devlin, aunt, foster mother and beneficiary of George Henry Scott. Barbara married John Devlin. She died in 1972 and her ashes are at Westmount Cemetery. In 1944 she lived at 1468 Viau St. in Monteal
  • Margaret (Scott) MacDonell, (b. 1916) sister of George who lived at 2064 Mansfield St., Montreal in 1944
  • Jeanette (Scott) Connell, (b. 1918) sister of George who lived at 1452 Theodore St., Montreal in 1944

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).



Acknowledgements

  1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission site for details of his resting place and date of death.
  2. The Library and Archives Canada site for copies of his service papers.
  3. Veterans Affairs Canada for access to the Memorial Book Page Image
  4. Charlotte Edwards, a fellow genealogist who first brought the 1916 and 1918 census entries in Saskatoon to my attention
  5. Maureen Anderson of Saskatchewan, a fellow genealogist who has helped in many ways in researching family details in Saskatoon.
  6. David March of the Saskatoon Quilt Project who helped in particular with locating Lancaster DS 849 on the lostaircraft site.
  7. Jean Reed in England, a niece of George's who has helped particularly in researching the Phillips side of the family, but, who much earlier contacted me with information on her part of the Scott family.
  8. Claus on the lostaircraft site for his help in understanding the information therein.
  9. Barry Miller for suggestions and information related to using the facilities at the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.


©Kenneth Scott and others 2015
email: ken at kenscott.com
first published  24 February 2015