Thursday, December 20, 2007

Determined We Fly

It is not every day when one learns something new about World War II. One would think after 60+ years, everything that could be learned of the battles and the people caught up in that whirlwind of destruction would be known. But articles like this still spring up to surprise and inform.

The reporter mentions all the Free French, Polish, Czech, and Norwegian pilots who served with valour and distinction in the Royal Air Force when so much was owed by so many to so few. I wont really nit-pick the reporter overlooking the American manned Eagle Squadrons plus the other countless Americans who served in the RAF and RCAF, but to be complete they must be mentioned along the Mexican and Brazilian Air Force squadrons who fought in the ETO after Normandy flying P-47s.

It turns out some 400 young men from Argentina crossed the U-boat infested waters of the Atlantic to serve in the RAF and RCAF in WWII. Of these, some 150 paid the ultimate price in defending Europe and the world from tyranny. One of the survivors is Flight Lieutenant Donald McLarty who was shot down in North Africa on his 199th mission in 1942 when ack-ack picked his Hurricane apart during a raid on a German airfield, he spent a year in an Italian POW camp before escaping. Many of these volunteers flew in an all Argentine squadron numbered 164 Sqn. After WWII they went their various ways, some stayed in Europe while others went back to Canada where they trained and some did go back to the Peron controlled Argentina, but all slipped back to civilian life quietly for one reason or another. That is until Caludio Meunier decided to document their exploits and spent a decade doing such. Thank sir for adding yet another chapter to the annals of World War II.

"Other people had fought for the freedoms we'd been living under and so I felt it incumbent on us to do the same thing, as the evil of Hitler was very, very serious indeed," said Michael Welch, another pilot.

No comments: