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eMedals-A Fine DFC & LogBook Grouping to RCAF Lancaster Pilot Flight Officer Gauvreau; 626 Squadron RAF

Item: C4343

A Fine DFC & LogBook Grouping to RCAF Lancaster Pilot Flight Officer Gauvreau; 626 Squadron RAF

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A Fine DFC & LogBook Grouping to RCAF Lancaster Pilot Flight Officer Gauvreau; 626 Squadron RAF

Description: Distinguished Flying Cross, George VI GRI; 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp; and War Medal 1939-1945. Court-mounted with swing bar pinback, as worn by the veteran, replacement ribbons, extremely fine. Accompanied by a six-ribbon Ribbon Bar (Distinguished Flying Cross, 1939-1945 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Maple Leaf Clasp and War Medal 1939-1945, cloth, 12 mm x 192 mm); his Pilot Officer Shoulder Board Pair (uppers are fabricated from grayish-blue wool, a 14 mm wide band of black embroidered piping with a light blue central stripe in the centre of the piping, representing the rank of Pilot Officer, a 14.5 mm bronze R.C.A.F. button at the opposite end, held in place by intact loops and pins, black leather backers with black leather straps on their reverses, 53 mm x 128 mm each); Officer's Cap Badge (in silver and gold-coloured bullion wire, in various textures, maroon felt in the void of the crown with touches of red and green embroidery in the crown's base, bronze gilt eagle, on a black wool base, padded, black paper backer, 67 mm x 76 mm); Pilot's Wings (red, brown and white embroidery, on a black wool base, 47 mm x 123 mm); RCAF Canada Shoulder Flash (light blue embroidered lettering on a black wool base, black cotton mesh backer, 25 mm x 68 mm); his Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot's Flying Log Book (named in black ink "GAUVREAU R.J." on the front cover, inscribed in ink "161702 GAUVREAU R.J. COURSE 70" on the edge of the pages, with detailed multiple entries dated from December 11, 1942 to October 19, 1944, covering training locations and courses taken, types of aircraft flown, bombing targets, crew list, etc., 198 mm x 225 mm x 18 mm); along with a mounted photocopy of an article from the Ottawa Citizen in 1944. Footnote: Raymond Joseph Gauvreau was born on September 30, 1921 in Ottawa, Ontario, the son of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Gauvreau. He was educated at LaSalle Academy, The Glebe, Ottawa, then served with the Cameron Highlanders from 1940 to 1942 and was employed at Ottawa Car and Aircraft Limited, before enlisting with the Royal Canadian Air Force at No. 5 Manning Depot in Lachine, Quebec, on April 30, 1942, at the age of 20. He split his time between No. 13 Service Flying Training School at St. Hubert, Quebec and No. 5 Manning Depot in Lachine, before being posted for training with No. 6 Initial Training School at the Toronto Board of Education in Toronto, Ontario, graduating on November 6, 1942. He was transferred to No.12 Elementary Flying Training School in Goderich, Ontario, on December 11, 1942, training on Fleet Finch aircraft, graduating on February 19, 1943. He was transferred to No.6 Service Flying Training School in Dunnville, Ontario, on March 7, 1943, training in the North American Harvard and the North American Yale, graduating on June 25, 1943, receiving his wings as a Sergeant Pilot. Gauvreau married Jean Ellison of Montreal two weeks before he departed for overseas service, then was posted to No. 1 "Y" Depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia in July to go overseas to England. Upon his arrival in England, he was initially posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth. He was transferred to the Empire Central Flying School at RAF Hullavington on September 8, 1943, where he trained on Miles M.27 Master III and Airspeed Oxford aircraft, followed by a transfer to No. 18 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Snitterfield, then posted to 1514 (Beam Approach Training) Flight at Coningsby, taking Course No. 98, from October 27 to November 15, 1943, before returning to RAF Snitterfield, where he trained on Airspeed Oxford aircraft. Upon leaving RAF Snittefield, he was transferred to No. 30 Operational Training Unit at RAF Hixon, Staffordshire, then stationed at No. 30 Operational Training Unit at RAF Seighford, Staffordshire on February 7, 1944, where he trained on Vickers Wellington Bombers. In his assessment, the examiner declared him to be "Above Average" on his report, dated March 23rd, with Gauvreau later commissioned as a Pilot Officer in April. Upon leaving RAF Seighford, he was posted to No 11 Base at RAF Lindholme, Yorkshire, where he trained on Handley Page Halifax Bombers and was with No. 1667 Conversion Unit at RAF Sandtoft, North Lincolnshire as of May 1, 1944. One month later, he was transferred to No. 1 Lancaster Finishing School at RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire on June 3rd, for initial training on Avro Lancaster Bombers, then posted to 626 Squadron at RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire onJune 16th. It was here that he would take on his flight crew, which consisted of Navigator, George D. MacIntosh of Fort MacLeod, Alberta, RCAF; Bombardier, John Halliday of Thorold, Ontario, RCAF; Engineer, E. Haslet of Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, RAF; Wireless Operator, E.A.V. Rowlands of Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire, Wales, RAF; Mid-Upper Gunner, T. Windon (sic) of Tattenhall, Chester, England, RAF; and Rear Gunner, H. Parsons of Wednesbury, Staffordshire, England, RAF. In an interview conducted on November 8, 2010, Gauvreau reflected on the creation of his flight crew, along with another pilot he had met getting ready for his first mission which would prove to be a fatal one: "I served with the [No.] 626 Squadron [Royal Air Force] in England, from an airport called [RAF] Wickenby. I started right into the [Avro] Lancasters [heavy bombers]. They sent me to a station in central England where they had a variety of every crew member imaginable, from gunners to navigators, but not pilots. I was sent to that station with a date at a certain point to pick out six men to join me as my crew members. I was completely in the dark about what it involved, but when I got to it, I got to this big building and opened the door and it looked like I was entering a huge double gymnasium, loaded with people who were all aircrew members of different stations in an aircraft, from a tail gunner to a navigator. I immediately closed the door and stood back, and said, I’ve got to go in there and pick out six men, and I don’t know a soul? There was nobody to talk to. I was all by myself. I finally said a prayer, and I said, "Lord, help me to do this." I walked in and before I could even close the door, there was a great big guy stood in front of me and says, "my name is George MacIntosh from [Fort] MacLeod, Alberta, I’m a navigator and I’d like to join your crew, will you take me on?" I says, "you bet, George, shake hands." And as we were shaking hands, five more men came walking right over, and I signed all of them on; and that became my crew. Oh, one other Canadian was John Halliday from Welland, Ontario and the rest were British chaps from a variety of places in England. After I had completed six trips, my first six trips, a young pilot came to my billet; and he was allocated the extra bed that I had in that particular billet. And since he was just starting off his trips - that night he was going to have his first trip while I was having my eighth: it was my eighth trip; it was his first trip - I got acquainted with him and helped him to unpack his luggage, and so forth. He took a photograph and put it on the table between our beds; and it was a picture of his wife and his one-year-old daughter back home in Winnipeg. And, however, we went to the flights later on and got ready for my usual bombing trip; and when I got back, about 2:30 in the morning, he hadn’t yet arrived. So I stretched out on the bed and waited for him, so we could talk over what happened. A short time later, a knock came on the door and it was my station commander who said, "Ray, I’m sorry to tell you this, but your friend has not returned, will you please repack his luggage so we can send it back to his wife in Canada." It left me with real sad memories thinking about my wife whom I married just two weeks before I left for overseas." Gauvreau and his crew flew numerous sorties over ten locations in France, bombing various targets between June 20 and July 19, 1944, including Reims, Liegscourt, Vaires, Saint Pol, Viezon-Ville, Domleger, Orleans, Foret-de-Croc, Caen (twice) and Tours. The month of July would conclude with missions to Courtrai, Belgium on July 20th and over a five day span, from July 23 to 28, three sorties to Germany: Kiel and Stuttgart (twice). In the period between August 8 and October 19, 1944, sorties were flown to France (Aire, Falaise Sector, Le Havre, Calais and Cap Oriz Nes), Holland (Volkel, Gent, Eindhoven and Weskapelle), Belgium (Frederick Hendric) and Germany (Russelsheim, Stettin, Saarbrucken, Duisburg (twice) and Stuttgart). Gauvreau was posted to the Repatriation Depot at RAF Houghton Green, Warrington, Lancashire on November 14, 1944, his total flying time accrued on De Havilland Tiger Moths, North American Harvards, North American Yales, Airspeed Oxfords, Miles M.27 Master IIIs, Vickers Wellington Bombers, Handley Page Halifax Bombers and Avro Lancaster Bombers. J/85521 Flight Officer (Pilot) Raymond Joseph Gauvreau, 626 Squadron RAF was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross effective February 5, 1945, the announcement appearing in the Fourth Supplement to the London Gazette 36942 of Tuesday, February 13, 1945, on Friday, February 16, 1945, page 934 and in AFRO 563/45 of Thursday, March 29, 1945. No citation exists other than "completed...numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty." The Public Records Office Air 2/8830 has a recommendation dated November 5, 1944, after he had flown thirty sorties (143 hours 25 minutes),June 17 (Aulnoye) to October 19, 1944 (Stuttgart) (the sortie list badly torn, with most dates not clear, particularly after July 18 (Caen) until October 14, 1944 (two attacks on Duisburg), however, the dates are clarified in Gauvreau's log book). The recommendation for the award states: "Flying Officer Gauvreau, a Canadian, as pilot and captain of aircraft has carried out 30 operational sorties against the enemy. These sorties have included such important targets as Kiel, Stuttgart (three attacks), Stettin and Russelheim. Throughout this, his first tour of operations, Flying Officer Gauvreau has shown himself to be a competent and skillful pilot and his keen offensive spirit coupled with his fearlessness has set a magnificent example to his crew. His captaincy and determination have been of a high order enabling him at all times to drive home his attacks to the fullest advantage. I recommend that Flying Officer Gauvreau's fine record and devotion to duty be rewarded by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross." By his own recollection, Gauvreau dropped a bomb over Caen, which was marked with the personal message "To Adolf, from the Ottawa Car and Aircraft Limited of Ottawa". During the war, he had three brothers in the services: Mechanical Staff Sergeant Fred Gauvreau, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps; Sergeant Vincent Gauvreau, Corps of Military Staff Clerks at Debert, Nova Scotia; and Sergeant Gerald Gauvreau, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals at Barriefield, Ontario. For his Second World War service, he was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp and the War Medal 1939-1945. Raymond Joseph Gauvreau passed away at Ottawa General Hospital, on August 4, 2015, at the age of 93, pre-deceased by his first wife, Jean Gauvreau, who died in 2007. However, he re-married after that, taking Patricia Gauvreau as his second wife. At the time of his death, he had seven children (Diane, Arlene, Raymond, Michael, Catherine, Teresa and Christine), along with being a grandfather, great grandfather and great great grandfather. His memorial service was held at Eastview Baptist Church in Vanier, Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday, September 7, 2015. (C:14)
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