I am certainly not rushing into this build because I know I won’t build another Monogram PBY. So let’s enjoy every other step.
I won’t buy another model airplane kit. The only exception will be if some manufacturers will have the brilliant idea to stop making model kits of P-51s, Spitfires, et all… and to finally make a 1/48 scale Handley-Page Halifax Mk III.
Don’t ask me why I will buy it because I would have to direct you to the three blogs I created since 2010 about 425 Alouette Squadron which flew that bomber.
But I am digressing…
Most of the original members of the Alouettes are dead now.
Some never made it back. One who did was William Gerald Phelan whose grandson found my blog on 420 Snowy Owl Squadron.
Website dedicated to RCAF 420 Squadron
425 Squadron and 420 Squadron shared the same airbase at Tholthorpe.
William Gerald Phelan was a pilot with 425 Alouette and he became later Wing Commander of 420 Squadron.
All his operations were flown on the Halifax which took a second seat to the Avro Lancaster.
Wing Commander Phelan did not talk much about the war. His grandson never knew him, being born after his death.
Wing Commander William Gerald Phelan
Shortly after Remembrance Day last year, I spent some time searching online for my grandfather William Gerald Phelan to see if any information was available about him. After sorting through various government sites I found Pierre’s blog about 420 Squadron, one of the two squadrons that he served with during his time with the RCAF. To my surprise and pleasure there were a few photos of him that I had never seen before. Over the next few days I spent hours going through the site reading about the history and missions, looking at photos and wondering about the people and the lives they lived.
My grandfather died in 1970 long before I was born, so we never got to meet. Most of what I know about him came from what my mom and other family members have told me. He studied philosophy in college, enjoyed singing in choir and playing the violin. He worked various sales-related jobs both before and after the war with cosmetics companies and at a car dealership. He liked playing sports like golf and hockey, and watching NHL games on television. Apart from facts and details like this, there isn’t much else I know. I get the impression the war took quite a toll on him, and his children only knew the person he was after returning from service.
It’s hard for me to imagine the sort of life he lived during this time period. Being stationed overseas with a wife and young child in Canada, not knowing if he would make it back, losing his younger brother Terence who didn’t return from a mission in February of 1945. Coming home and being expected to have a normal life, get a job, raise a family, all at a time when the diagnosis and treatment of war-related trauma was probably not very common. He never really talked about the war, but his experiences with the RCAF clearly stayed with him for many years after.
He had seven children, and just a few generations later his descendants number 61 and counting as great-grandchildren continue being born. Most of them live in Ontario where he spent most of his life, with others scattered coast to coast across Canada and elsewhere. It’s incredible to think that almost none of these people would exist had he not survived, if he had been sent on different missions on different nights. So many lives and family lines were cut short for those who were not so fortunate.
My family and I are incredibly grateful for the work Pierre has done with his blogs. They add a personal touch to the lives of people like my grandfather that does not exist in any government archives. These sites allow us to wonder about the human beings behind the names and dates, and what their experience during the war and life in general might have been like. I look forward to learning more about the details of my grandfather’s service as Pierre shares what he has been able to find out. Thanks to all the people who have shared the many fascinating and important photos, documents, and journals on these blogs. I hope they continue to serve as an important memorial and piece of history for interested readers, and descendants like myself who are lucky enough to find them.
Table of Contents
Now you know why I wish some manufacturers would make a 1/48 scale model kit of the Handley-Page Halifax III.
Next time… What’s next.
I know there is a 1/48 scale Handley-Page Halifax III.
But I am willing to wait for an easier build.