Flying Officer – KIA – Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Had gone to Montreal to study at McGill University in Science in 1939 – he is listed in the university’s Honour Roll. He later enlisted.
[Source: Wayne Saunders, Quebec, Canada]
ATTITUDE AND APTITUDE
RCAF PILOT OFFICER EUGENE DUNLOP VANIER
This is a quick sketch of the background and air force career of P/O E.D. Vanier, one of the number of individuals from the Caribbean who entered the RCAF during the Second World War. This presentation is largely to show his various movements from the time he left the Caribbean in 1939 until he died in action in 1942. Moreover, it attempts to focus largely on statements about his positive character, one that likely would have served him well if not for the unfortunate circumstances of a short operational career.
Born: 14 February 1916, Charlestown, Nevis, British West Indies
Died: 1 September 1942, missing over Mediterranean Sea on air operations from Egypt; commemorated on El Alamein Memorial
Educated at Antigua Grammar School 1927 to 1933. A reference letter from the Headmaster of the School, W.M.R. Voubery, Priest, MSc., dated 12 May 1934, states about Vanier “He is an intelligent, industrious and thoughtful worker. He won a Government Scholarship … He made a successful prefect, and was head prefect his last term … He has an excellent character. I have always found him honest, truthful, clean, straight, loyal and trustworthy. He has a pleasant personality …”
Employed in Antigua Post Office, assistant clerk – 1934-1935
Employed by Geo. W. Bennet Bryson & Co., Ltd, Antigua – 1935 to August 1939 (left to attend McGill University). A reference letter to the RCAF from the Managing Director of the firm, which were agents for Canadian National Steamships, states about Vanier “employed by this firm in the accountancy department for the last four years. During that period we have found him thoroughly reliable and honest, hard working, and … We can strongly recommned him in every way.”
At the same time was a Private in Antigua Defence Force, Antigua, 1935-1939. On leaving the force to go to McGill University the Commandant of the Leeward Island Police in a letter to Vanier wrote “On behalf of the Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the Antigua Defence Force, I beg to express our regret on your leaving us. You have at all times been an energetic and useful members of the Force and we shall certainly miss you …”
Another reference letter from the Sergeant Major of Police for the Commisioner of Police, Leeward Islands Police, dated 1 Augst 1939 mentions native of Nevis and residing in Antigua for “the past eighteen years” and is of “irreproachable character.”
Sailed from Barbados on 29 August 1939 on Merissa (Furness-Bermuda West Indies line), landing New York City, New York, on 6 September 1939
Arrvied in Montreal, Quebec, to attend McGill University – Science Program
Enlisted as Cadet in McGill University Canadian Officers’ Training Corps (COTC) – 4 October 1939. In his duties there he trained in the Air Force section of the Special Wing and was rated an excellent Cadet. The Officer Commanding this section stated Vanier “is highly recommended by his Company Officers” for a position in the RCAF
At the end of his first year at McGill University, worked as a salesman with the T. Eaton Co. until he enlisted in the RCAF
Completed an interrview for the RCAF Special Reserve – July 1940. Interviewing officer Pilot Officer C.S. Goudreau noted on interview form “Well recommeded … quick intellect, polite, very willing and ambitious. Pleasant …” and suggested Vanier would likely make officer at end of his training.
Enlisted in RCAF, Montreal, Quebec – 14 August 1940
Posted to No. 2 Manning Depot, Brandon, Manitoba – 14 August 1940
Posted to No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – 23 October 1940
(This would have not been for his flying training but initial duties prior to him beginning his Initial Training Course in December)
Posted to No. 2 Initial Training School, Regina, Saskatchewan – 11 December 1940. Completed Course No. 20, 11 December 1940 to 11 January 1941; finished 17th overall in a class of 148 with comments by C.O. “Good background – very good type.”
Posted to No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School, Eburne (Sea Island, Vancouver) British Columbia – 14 January 1942. Completed Course No. 18, 19 January 1941 to 5 March 1941; for the Ground Training portion of the course scored 90% and finished 1st in a class of 32 with comments “Conduct excellent. Outstanding in class work. Works hard and is very keen.” Flew Tiger Moth training aircraft and listed as average pilot at this stage.
At No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – 18 March 1941 to 11 July 1941. Completed Course No. 23 4th overall and noted as “An above-average student, possessing a high degree of ability and industry. Aptitude and attitude towards the service, excellent. Showed a good attitude towards his duties. Distinguished Pass” Flew Cessna Crane twin-engined aircraft.
Received his commission as Pilot Officer and flying wings on 4 July 1941. Service Number originally R56301; when commissioned became J6001
Posted to General Reconnaissance School, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – 14 July 1941. Completed Course No. 10, 14 July 1941 to 4 October 1941; this course was focussed primarly in navigation exercies, flying in Anson twin-engined training aircraft
Reported to No. 1 Y Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia – 24 October 1941
Sailed for Overseas – 2 November 1941
Arrived at No. 3 Personnel Reception Center, UK – 14 November 1941
Posted to No. 2 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit, RAF Catfoss – 23 November 1941
Posted to No. 14 SFTS, RAF Lyneham – 23 December 1941. No. 14 Service Flying Training School at this time was based at RAF Lyneham. The unit used Airspeed Oxfords for advanced training on twin-engined aircraft for pilots who had been selected to fly multi-engined aeroplanes
Posted into 201 Group – 4 May 1942; destination was No. 252 Squadron flying Beaufighters
Arrived in West Africa – 31 May 1942. In July 1942 ferried aircraft across North Africa to Idku, Egypt, arriving on 13 July; on arrival reported ill and diagnosed with malaria; hospitalized for convalescence
Arrived No. 252 Squadron – July 1942. Squadron flew coastal command operations flying Bristol Beaufighter out of Idku, Egypt, since November 1941
Killed in action on air operations while flying Bristol Beaufighter T4881 – 1 September 1942. Aircraft set out for straffing operations behind enemy lines and failed to return to base. “Last seen 31 degrees 33 minutes north 25 degrees 33 minutes east at 1230 hours.”
[Wayne Saunders, 5 March 2012 - All quotes and related information from Vanier's RCAF personnel record, courtesy Library and Archives Canada, RG 24 Volume 28859.]
Pushing up a cloud of dust, Bristol Beaufighter IF V8318 ‘F-Freddie’ of No 252 Squadron, Royal Air Force moves out at Magrun, North Africa. [This is photograph No. TR903 from the Imperial War Museums collections.]