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  • The Awards of Admiral John McCain who Orchestrated Guadalcanal

    Admiral John McCain Sr., Grandfather of John McCain III, Republican Candidate for President during the 2008 elections, was one of the most important admirals in American naval aviation in the Pacific during World War II. John McCain was born on August 9, 1884 on his family’s plantation in Mississippi. He came from a military family where it was custom for the first born to take over the plantation and for the second born to enlist. McCain was the third born and had no obligation to join but felt compelled to follow in his brother’s footsteps. In 1906 he graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis as an Ensign, ranking 79th out of 116 students. He was not the most competent student but throughout his career proved that he was indeed a natural leader. He began his service in the Pacific Fleet and on escort vessels in the Atlantic during the First World War. In 1929 he graduated from the Naval War College, and a little later from Flight Instruction School at Pensacola. He was awarded his Naval Aviator Wings at the age of 52, making him the oldest man to achieve the status.

    After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, McCain, who meanwhile had been promoted to Rear Admiral, became commander in chief of land-based naval aviation in the South Pacific. In 1943 he became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, Responsible for air operations of the United States Navy. He returned to the Pacific in 1944 and took command of the 2nd Fast Carrier Task Force and a little later Task Force 38 of the US 3rd Fleet with nine fleet aircraft carriers and eight light aircraft carriers. Because of his successful tactics in July/August 1944, he was able to destroy 3000 Japanese aircraft on the ground, and with a few days sink 49 ships. He was awarded the Navy Cross for the rescue of the heavily damaged cruisers "USS Canberra" and "USS Houston" from sinking by the Japanese in October 1944. On 2 September 1945 he was on board the "USS Missouri" at the Japanese surrender. Importantly, McCain was a pioneer of aircraft carrier operations who in 1942 commanded all land-based air operations in support of the Guadalcanal campaign, and who ultimately in 1944-1945 aggressively led the Fast Carrier Task Force, in the Pacific Ocean theater.

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  • A Valour Road Victoria Cross Memorial Plaque to Leo Clarke

    A Valour Road Victoria Cross Memorial Plaque to Leo Clarke

    Leo Clarke was born on December 1, 1892 in Waterdown, Ontario (although his Attestation Paper states that it was Hamilton, Ontario), the son of Henry Trevelyan Clarke and Rosetta Caroline Nona Clarke. He spent his early years in England, home of his parents, but returned to Canada and settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba around 1903. 

    Before the start of the First World War, Clarke was working as a Surveyor for the Canadian National Railway in the Canadian north. He signed his Attestation Paper as a Private (72132) with the 27th Infantry Battalion "City of Winnipeg Regiment" on February 25, 1915 in Winnipeg. He did so at the age of 22, naming his next-of-kin as his father, stating that he had no previous military service, that he was not married and that his trade was that of Resident Engineer. 

    The Battalion was raised in Ontario and Manitoba, with mobilization headquarters at Winnipeg, Manitoba under the authority of G.O. 36, March 15, 1915. The Battalion sailed May 17, 1915 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J.R. Snider with a strength of 33 officers and 1,039 other ranks, arriving in England near the end of the month. 

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  • Baird Mitchell

    United States Army Air Force Captain Anthony Baird Mitchell was born to Mr. and Mrs. Osborne Mitchell. Baird Mitchell grew up as the youngest of five children in the town of Poland, Ohio where his father was Mayor. He was an accomplished athlete and leader during his high school days, setting a record at a state championship track meet. He moved on to College after high school which he attended only for a short time before enlisting in the war effort. In September 1941 Mitchell enlisted with the USAAF, trained and graduated as a bomber pilot. He served on several missions on the Gulf of Mexico before being sent overseas for service in the European theatre in June 1944. He was placed with 854th Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, Heavy, based in North Pickenham, Norfolk, England.

    In an ironic twist of fate Captain Mitchell landed a spot as Co-Pilot in a crew of ten, aboard a Consolidated B-24J-150-CO Liberator, piloted by Captain James K. Hunter for Operation Market Gardens. The normal Co-Pilot, 1st Lt. Charles Griffin had finished his tour of missions and wasn’t allowed to go on this one. Since there was a real competition to be included on this mission Captain Mitchell and a Captain Shy flipped a coin to see who got to fly, and Captain Mitchell “won”. On September 18, 1944 the crew of ten left to complete the operation, when their plane crashed northeast of Udenhout, Holland. The aircraft was badly hit in the right wing and the pilot, Captain Hunter decided to belly her into a field, but lost the no. 3 engine at an altitude of fifty feet, causing the right wing to dip low enough to touch the ground. Captain Hunter managed to pull the plane back into the air after hitting the ground, only for it to crash into some trees and farm buildings.

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