George Clinton "Keefe" Keefer

George Keefer & John Lane
Keefe (left) & John Lane, 4 June '42. After seeing a Very flair over the North African desert, Keefer lands & meets a downed & stranded SAAF pilot (John Lane). The 2 men squeezed into the cockpit of Keefe's Hurricane and flew home. This photo shows the pair - demonstrating for the press - how it was done.

RCAF    W/C    -    DSO  &  Bar,   DFC  &  Bar
Netherlands Flying Cross
French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star

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Wing Commander George Keefer was flying leader of 125 Spitfire wing under the command of Johnnie Johnson who had just been transferred from 127 wing and promoted to Group Captain. In his book 'Wing Leader' Johnnie tells this story about "The bravest man I've ever known."
(S/L Wally Conrad, who flew with both of them, claimed that was an understatement)

"We found a lot of Huns during the latter half of April. We destroyed fighters, bombers, transports, Stuka dive bombers, trainers, and a bunch of seaplanes we'd found floating in a lake. We could not catch the Jets in the air but we knew they were operating from Lubeck on the Baltic Coast. We paid special attention to this airfield, shooting the Jets down when they took off or came in to land. Some of the enemy leaders showed flashes of their old brilliance but the rank-and-file were poor. One evening George Keefer led one of the squadrons on a sweep round the far side of the Elbe and I led a finger-four down sun from him. We swung toward an airfield neatly camouflaged in the midst of woods. Heavy flak bracketed us and George led us into the cover of the Low sun. On the airfield I saw a squadron of Messerschmitts about to take off. Five minutes later we returned in a fast dive from the sun. The 109's were still there. Hundreds of light flak guns joined the heavy barrage against us. My heart sack. Probably we all thought the same thing: the war could only last a few more days. The pilots of the 109's below had probably left their cockpits for the engines had stopped. What were the chances of getting through the flak now that the gunners were roused? I reckoned they were about 50-50.
George said, "Graycap, I'm going in with my number 2 (F/O Trevarrow). Cover us will you?"
I wanted to say "Is it worth it?" but only muttered: "Okay George."
The two spitfires got smaller and smaller as they went down in a fast dive. Their Gray-Green camouflage merged into the spring greenery below and for a second or two I lost them. But the gunners on the ground still saw them, and the whole airfield seemed to sparkle with the flashes from the guns. We saw the spits again when they streaked over the boundary of the airfield. We saw George's Cannon shells bouncing on the concrete. I shouted into my microphone "Up a bit George you're under deflecting!"
Then his shells ripped into the last Messerschmitt in the line. It caught fire, its ammunition exploded and the Cannon shells slammed into the next 109. In a matter of seconds the whole lot were blazing and a great spiral of white smoke curled up from the airfield.
"You all right George?"
"Fine Graycap. Am climbing up."
"Red 2?"
"I've been hit sir but she's flying" replied the wing man.
"Lead him home George and we'll cover you" I instructed.
I twisted my neck for a final look at the airfield. All 11 Messerschmitts were burning fiercely. It was the best and bravest strafing attack I had ever seen...

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Born in New York City, 11 July 1921
Canadian Parents
Home in Charlottetown, PEI
Enlisted there 15 October 1940
Trained at
No.1 ITS (graduated 9 December 1940)
No.11 EFTS (graduated 28 January 1941) &
No.2 SFTS (graduated 10 April 1941).
Got DSO, DFC & Bar at Buckingham Palace 7 Nov '44
Presented with Bar to DSO, 25 February 1947
Retired from RCAF service that same month

Keefer flew more Ops (468) than any other Canadian
fighter pilot except Stan Turner (500). Number 3 was
Duke Arthur with 448.

Joined Canadair becoming Vice President
Resigned in 1968 and bought a plastics factory in Granby
Died in Montreal in January 1985

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Gallantry Wins Awards For Canadian Airmen

Ottawa, Jan. 22, 1943 - (CP) - Award of two Distinguished Flying Crosses and seven Distinguished Flying Medals to members of the R.C.A.F. serving overseas and of two Dis­tinguished Flying Crosses to R.A.F. officers who took their training in Canada was announced today by  R.C.A.F. headquarters.
Following are the award-winners with next of kin:
D.F.C.  (R.C.A.F.)
F/L GRENFEL J. CONRAD of Melrose, Ont., Rev. William W. Conrad (father), Post Office Box No. 1, Bedford, Que.
F/L GEORGE CLINTON KEEFER of Charlottetown, Mrs. Grace Hughes (aunt), 167 Euston Street, Charlottetown.
F/L Conrad: "The sound judg­ment and exceptional efficiency displayed by this officer have con­tributed greatly to the successes recently achieved by his squadron. On one occasion, while in co-opera­tion with a South African squadron, 15 Junkers strongly escorted by Messerschmitts were intercepted and through the brilliant leadership displayed by Flt. Lt. Conrad his squadron was able to continue the escort while 14 of the enemy were destroyed. He has been personally responsible for the destruction of four enemy aircraft."
F/L Keefer: "This officer has participated in numerous opera­tional attacks, in the course of which his determination and ten­acity have resulted in 12 victories for his squadron, while many enemy aircraft have probably been de­stroyed or damaged. During an exceptionally long tour of flying duty he has continuously displayed great gallantry and skill in strategy."

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KEEFER, F/L George Clinton (J5022) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.274 Squadron
Award effective 12 January 1943 as per London Gazette dated 22 January 1943 and
AFRO 272/43 dated 19 February 1943.

George Keefer
F/L G. C. Keefer
 

This officer has participated in numerous operational attacks in the course of which his determination and tenacity have resulted in twelve victories for his squadron, while many enemy aircraft have probably been destroyed or damaged. During an exceptionally long tour of flying duty he has continually displayed great gallantry and skill in strategy.

NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9612 has recommendation for a non-immediate award sent by Group Captain W.J.M. Akerman, Headquarters, Royal Air Force, Middle East to Air Ministry on 14 December 1942:
This pilot has flown more than 210 operational hours, covering 179 sorties, since November 1941. His determination in pressing home attacks and his strategy both as an individual and as a Section Leader have resulted in a dozen victories for his section, with numerous probables and damaged.

In addition, he has either led the squadron or his section on 18 bombing trips since early June 1942, dropping thirty-six 250-pound bombs with great success. He was relieved from operational flying on 15th August and he had completed 511 hours flying, having continuously displayed gallantry during his nine and one-half months service with the squadron.


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"Ormy" Ormston & "Keefe" Keefer
The caption for this photo reads: "15 October 1943 - Two squadron leaders in the Canadian fighter wing led by Wing Commander R.W. (Buck) McNair, DFC & Bars, of North Battleford, Sask., are shown above with their pet Alsatian pups at an advanced Canadian airfield in England. They are S/L Ian Ormston, DFC, of Montreal, (Left) with "Flight" and S/L George C. Keefer, DFC, of Charlottetown, P.E.I., with "Rommel." The pups are the same age but different litters."

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D.S.O. AWARDED BUCK McNAIR, HUGH GODEFROY

Ottawa, April 13, 1944 (CP) — Award of the Distinguished Service Order to two top-ranking R.C.A.F. fighter pilots, Wing Commanders R. W. (Buck) McNair of North Battleford, Sask., and Hugh Godefroy of Toronto — both of whom already have won multiple recognition — was announced tonight by the R.C.A.F., with a series of lesser decorations.
McNair already has won the D.F.C. thrice, while Godefroy has won it twice. McNair becomes the most-decorated flier who has spent his entire operational career in the R.C.A.F. and is topped only by F/L George Beurling of Verdun, Que., who won most of his decorations while a member of the R.A.F.
Also announced was the award of the bar to the D.F.C. to S/L George C. Keefer of Charlottetown and award of D.F.C.s to F/L J.A.H. De Le Paulle of New York; F/L K.R. Linton of Plaster Rock, N.B.; F/O V.I. Gorrill of Creston, B.C.; F/O R.H. Watt of Winnipeg, and F/O J.E. Williams of Grand Rapids, Mich

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Night/Day Blows Fall On Dazed Nazi Centres

London, April 23, 1944 - (CP) - ... A Canadian squadron of Spitfire fighter-bombers led by Wing Cmdr. George C. Keefer, Charlottetown, hit an important railroad viaduct near Le Havre twice in the morn­ing. Unable to see the damage because of smoke, the squadron returned in the afternoon, found a gap in the middle of the bridge, and bombed both ends for good measure.
It was the squadron's first bombing mission since the outfit was equipped for bombing duties.

Chadburn in Action
Other Canadian fighter-bombers were active over the weekend. Low-level attacks on enemy objectives were carried out by a squadron led by Wing Cmdr. Lloyd V. Chadburn, Aurora, holder of the D.S.O. and Bar and the D.F.C.
Squadrons of Canadian Spitfires also supported and escorted British and American mediums, ceaselessly hammering the German communications system in Northern France.
No Canadian fighters were lost in these operations

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KEEFER, S/L George Clinton (J5022) - Bar to DFC - No.412 Squadron
Award effective 5 April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 14 April 1944 and
AFRO 1020/44 dated 12 May 1944.

Squadron Leader Keefer has always performed his duties with unfailing coolness and courage. On many occasions he has escorted large formations of bomber aircraft over enemy territory, achieving much success. Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross he has continued to take part in operations with the greatest keenness and has engaged the enemy many times.

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RCAF Shoots Down 26 Enemy Planes
in Normandy Between Dawn and Dusk

By P/O H. R. McDONALD, A Canadian Airfield in France, June 29, 1944 - (CP) - Canadian fighter planes, in one of the most brilliant achievements in the history of the R.C.A.F., shot down 26 out of a total of 34 enemy aircraft destroyed over the Normandy front between dawn and dusk yesterday.
In addition, R.C.A.F. pilots chalked up a number of enemy planes probab1y shot down and a number bf others which were damaged.
Four pilots scored double kills. They were Wing Cmdr. J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English–born commander of a Canadian fighter wing operating from an R.C.A.F. base in Normandy, and Flt, Lts. H.C. Trainor, Charlottetown; W. T. Klersy, 14 Harcroft Rd., Toronto, and R. K. Hayward. St. John's, Nfld.

Destroys Two, Damages Third
Hayward destroyed two FW-190's and damaged a third, which gave him the highest R.C.A.F. individual score of the day.
Earlier reports indicated the Canadian airmen had downed 18 enemy planes in yesterday's daylight operations.
The complete figures were reached by intelligence officers today after a period of aerial operations which exceeded in intensity anything since the Allied Normandy beachhead was opened June 6.
Besides the toll of enemy planes, which included all fighter types, R.C.A.F. pilots also strafed transport on the roads.

Final claims on two aircraft are being sifted
Among the R.C.A.F. Spitfire pilots contributing to the total with one Hun each were: Flt. Lts. Irving Kennedy, Cumberland, Ont.; G. R. Patterson, Kelowna, B.C.; J. McElroy, Kamloops, B.C.; Henry Zary, New York; R. M. Stayner, Saskatoon; A. F. Halcrow, Penticton, B.C.; G. W. Johnson, 102 Beechwood Ave., Hamilton, Ont.; D. E. Noonan, 146 Willingdon Ave., Kingston, Ont.; J. B. Rainville, Montreal; and Flying Officers W. J. Banks, Leaside, Ont. and G. H. Farquharson, Corbyville, Ont.
Wing Cmdr. Johnson's score of two brought his total of enemy planes downed to 32, equaling the mark set by Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, a South African, now on ground duty.
Among the R.C.A.F. fliers scoring probables were FO. A. C. Brandon, Timmins, Ont.; FO. J. B. O'Sullivan, Vancouver; and PO. J. M. Flood, Hearst, Ont.

Nine Others Damaged
At least nine others wire damaged by fliers of the R.C.A.F.
Of the wings comprising Group Capt, W. (Bill) MacBrien's R.C.A.F. sector, the one led by 22-year-old Wing Cmdr, George Keefer, D.F.C. and Bar, Charlottetown, was high ,scorer of the day with 13 confirmed victories. Johnson's wing was second with seven, in a close race with a unit led by Wing Cmdr. R. A. Buckham, Vancouver.
The margin for Keefer's wing was established in two dusk operations in which seven enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged. In the first action Hayward sighted more than 25 Nazi fighters and led his formation in pursuit. He damaged one.
Later the same Spitfires became embroiled with a dozen FW-190's, and Hayward got two of them. The first fell out of control, and the second burst into flames and crashed after Hayward had followed it down to tree-top height.
"The Huns were like bees,” said WO. Murray Havers, 1 Lloyd St., Hamilton. Ont. "They seemed confused and acted as though they did not know what they were doing."
The Canadian airmen said the Germans did not put up much of a fight despite their numerical advantage.
Other Canadians credited with kills during the day were FO. G. R. Stephen, Montreal; FO. Larry Robillard, Ottawa; FO. W. A. Gilbert, Dartmouth, N.S.; FO. Don Goodwin, Maynooth, Ont.; and FO. Tommy Wheler, 10 Beauford Rd., Toronto.

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ALL-CANUCK FIGHTER WINGS IN BATTLE FOR BEST SCORES
Competition So Intense Airmen Beg For Another Crack at Enemy

London, July 12, 1944 — (CP Cable) — Competition among all-Canadian fighter wings operating from Normandy in support of the Allied invasion reached such a pitch by today that pilots are plaguing operations officers to have one more show "laid on" so they can top the score of German planes downed by rival wings.

Excellent Record
A summary of the operations of one Normandy-based fighter wing during four weeks of the invasion period shows that 170 Nazi aircraft have been shot out of the skies. This summary covers the period up to Monday, since when poor weather in the bridgehead area has reduced tactical flights to a minimum.
Since D-day W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, who holds the D.S.O. and two bars, the D.F.C. and bar, and the American D.F.C., has skyrocketed to new fame as Britain's leading ace with a score of 35 German aircraft downed. Johnson, native of Nottingham, England, now heads a Canadian fighter wing.

Downs 35th Victim
He downed his 35th enemy victim June 30 to top the record of 33 set up by G/C A.G. (Sailor) Malan, from South Africa, who now is on ground duty. At the same time Johnson's wing went on to win a bet made with the late W/C Lloyd V. Chadburn, of Aurora, Ont., holder of the D.S.O. and bar and the D.F.C., six weeks before D-day.
The two wing-commanders wagered that their respective wings would outscore the other during the month after the invasion was launched. After Chadburn lost his life over France in the early days of the invasion, the wager was taken over by S/L Walter Conrad, D.F.C. of Richmond, Ont., of the Red Indian Squadron.
Until Johnson's wing scored seven victories in one operation July 5 Chadburn's wing, now led by W/C R.A. Buckham, D.F.C., of Vancouver, was only two behind. The latest available accounting showed Johnson's wing is in the lead 47 to 40.

Others in Race
Meanwhile however, another Canadian-led wing under W/C George Keefer, of Charlottetown, although not included in the wager, is just as interested in finishing at the top and in the last reckoning was tied with Johnson's wing with 47 enemy planes destroyed.
Furthermore, Keefer's pilots claimed 23 enemy aircraft damaged against 11 by Johnson's wing. F/L Charlie Trainor of Charlottetown, who until June 28 was scoreless, entered the ace class by being credited with 7½ victories in the subsequent seven days. This was half a point more than Johnson achieved during the first month of the invasion.
Other Canadian airmen who have achieved notable scores during that period are: F/L Doug Lidsay, Arnprior, Ont., four; S/L H.W. (Wally) McLeod, D.F.C. and bar, Regina, four; F/L W.T. (Bill) Klersy, Toronto, four; F/L Paul Johnson, Bethel, Conn., four.

Typhoons Prominent
These scores brought Lindsay's total kills to six, McLeod's to 19, Klersy's to five and Johnson's to five also. McLeod became Canada's leading operational pilot with his score of 19.
The Normandy-based Empire fighter plane group to which these Canadian wings are attached is commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Henry Broadhurst, of the R.A.F. Total of 12,000 sorties were flown by British and Canadian members of Air Vice-Marshal Broadhurst's group during the four weeks following D-day.
An all-Canadian Typhoon wing in the sector, commanded by Wing-Cmdr. Paul Davoud, D.S.O., D.F.C., of Kingston, Ont., has achieved a high degree of precision in dive-bombing since assigned to this role in Normandy.
More than 8,000 rockets have been projected by R.A.F. Typhoons from close range at enemy targets within the battle area.

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Airmen With Invasion Honors Among 200 From Overseas

Ottawa, Aug. 13, 1944 - (CP) - More than 200 Canadian airmen, many of them with decorations earned in action over the Normandy bridgehead climbed today from a repatriation train here to renew acquaintance with a homeland many of them had not seen for as long as three years. Among the repatriates was F/O W.A. Bishop, son of Air Marshal W.A. (Billy) Bishop, Director of recruiting for the R.C.A.F., who was met by his father. Another was W/C G.C. Keefer, D.F.C. and Bar, of Charlottetown, back after two completed tours of operations.
Others returning included W/C J.W. Reid, Kingston, and F/L J.L. McCauly, D.F.C., Toronto; S/Ls. R.A. Buckham of Mission City, B.C., and Howard Cleveland, D.F.C., of Vancouver, who both ran up impressive scores of enemy aircraft destroyed.
Buckham has a record of six and one-half planes destroyed, two "probables" and two damaged. Cleveland claimed nine destroyed and one damaged in a single tour of operations.
The returning fliers, all happy to be back, plowed hungrily into the ice cream and soft drink offerings of Canadian Legion representatives who met them at the station.
In the group were S/L G.W. Conrad, Richmond, and F/L A.J. Van Rassell, Timmins

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15 CANADIANS NAMED IN LIST FOR AIR HONORS

Ottawa, Oct. 19, 1944 - (CP) - Air Force headquarters announced tonight 15 awards to members of the RCAF serving overseas, including one Distinguished Service Order, 11 Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Distinguished Flying Medals and one British Empire Medal, Ontario winners of the DSO and DFM are named in the following list of recipients:

DSO
W/C G. C. Keefer, DFC and Bar, Charlottetown.
DFC
S/L G. D. Robertson, 3 Lam­port Ave., Toronto.
S/L J. D. Somerville, Parry Sound.
F/L G. Johnson, 102 Beechwood Ave., Hamilton.
F/L G. E. Mott, Sarnia.
F/O B. W. Prange, Kitchener.
P/O S. A. Simmons, Copper Cliff.
DFM
P/O H. W. Robinson, Fenelon Falls.
BEM (MILITARY DIVISION)
P/O E. S. Neill, 347 Campbell Ave., Windsor.

W/C Keefer received the DSO for outstanding work on operations since receiving his Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross. Under his leadership 40 aircraft have been destroyed, eight of which he accounted for personally.
P/O Neill received the British Empire Medal for "exceptional cool­ness and courage" while rescuing his comrades after their aircraft had crashed on landing and burst into flames. On the same occasion he rescued two women and two children trapped in a nearby house set on fire by the crash.

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KEEFER, W/C George Clinton, DFC (J5022) - DSO - No.126 Wing
Award effective 20 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 2637/44 dated 8 December 1944.

This officer has completed many sorties since being awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross and his record is outstanding. Within the past few months he has led large formations of aircraft on air operations during which forty enemy aircraft have been destroyed. The successes obtained reflect the greatest credit on the skill, gallantry and resolution of Wing Commander Keefer. This officer has been responsible for the destruction of eight hostile aircraft.

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KEEFER, W/C George Clinton, DSO, DFC (J5022) - Bar to DSO - No.125 Wing
Award effective 10 July 1945 as per London Gazette of 24 July 1945 and
AFRO 1619/45 dated 19 October 1945.

Since his appointment as Wing Commander of Operations, Wing Commander Keefer has led and trained his wing to a high pitch of keenness and efficiency. Under his leadership the wing has destroyed 191 enemy aircraft and damaged many more. In addition a great variety of enemy ground targets have been successfully attacked. During this period Wing Commander Keefer has destroyed four enemy aircraft in the air bringing his total victories to twelve aircraft destroyed. He has also destroyed at least sixty enemy transport vehicles. In April 1945, he completed a daring attack on eleven Messerschmitt 190s [sic] assembled on an airfield at Parchim. Despite intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire the attack was pressed home and all the enemy aircraft were destroyed. This officer has completed three tours of operational duty and has proved himself to be a leader of the highest order and a cool and fearless pilot.

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KEEFER, W/C George Clinton, DSO, DFC (J5022) - Netherlands Flying Cross
Award effective 18 October 1947 as per Canada Gazette of that date and
AFRO 576/47 dated 31 October 1947.

"In recognition of valuable services rendered during the recent war". Public Records Office Air 2/9140 has recommendation as cleared by Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee.

Wing Commander Keefer took over the duties of Wing Commander (Operations) of No.125 Wing in November 1944, while they were in winter quarters at Eindhoven. During this phase of active operations, under extremely adverse weather conditions, Wing Commander Keefer's indomitable courage and brilliant leadership maintained the morale of his Wing at the highest level. This officer showed exceptional keenness to engage the enemy, and his steadfast determination was worthy of the highest praise. In the subsequent battles through Holland to the German border, this officer's exceptional qualities remained well to the fore. He displayed outstanding devotion to duty.

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KEEFER, F/L George Clinton, DSO, DFC (J5022) - Croix de Guerre with Gold Star (Fr)
AFRO 485/47 dated 12 September 1947.

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Victories Include :

  7 Dec 1941

  8 Dec 1941
21 Dec !941
25 May 1942
  8 June 1942
12 June 1942
16 June 1942
17 June 1942
10 July 1942
17 July 1942
12 June 1943
  1 Dec 1943
  7 June 1944

25 June 1944
27 June 1944
  2 Mar 1945
19 Mar 1945
16 Apr 1945
18 Apr 1945
20 Apr 1945
25 Apr 1945
one MC200
one MC200
one Me109E
one Ju88
one Me09F
one MC202
one Me109E
one Me109F
one MC202
Two MC202s
one Me109
one FW190
one FW190
one Ju88
one FW190
one ME110
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one FW190
Five Me109s
one Me109
one FW190
destroyed &
damaged
damaged
destroyed
probable
destroyed
damaged
destroyed
damaged
damaged
damaged
damaged
probable
destroyed &
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
damaged
destroyed OTG
destroyed
destroyed

BD880
BD880
BD880
BE229
BE281
BN109
BE689
BE689
Z5337
BE487
EE681
MJ187

MK826
MK826
MK826
RM809
   unk
MV263
MV263
MV263
MV263

12 / 2 / 9
+ 5 On The ground (although by Johnnie Johnson's telling, it would be 11)

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--- Canadian Aces ---

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On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research (which includes info from numerous sources), newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) as well as other sources both published and private, including Aces High 2nd Ed. (Shores and Williams)

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