ANDERSON, Henry Gordon
NAME ANDERSON Henry Gordon
RANK Pilot Officer 6490 Group 3 - RAF Bomber Command SQUADRON RCAF No. 419 “Moose” Squadron
“beware of the moose”
Middleton St. George Airfield in Durham
Squadron Markings VR A Born April 15, 1912 - Exeter - Townships of Usborne / Stephen - County of Huron Residence Cheminis - Ontario Died February 12, 1942 29 years 10 months
Memorial Runnymede Memorial - Englefield Green - Egham - Surrey - England
Father Mr. James Anderson - Exeter. Brother James Jr. - Exeter Sisters Mrs. Glen Maclean - Kippen Mrs. Theron Crury - Kirkton
Henry was born on April 15, 1912 in Exeter. He attended SS #10 Lumley School. He was known to have
enjoyed baseball, rugby, track, hockey and pool. His hobbies were mapping / surveying. He was raised United and would have attended Exeter United Church. He attended SS No. 10 in Usborne Township from 1917-25, then from 1925-30 he attended Exeter High School and between 1930-32 he attended the University of Western Ontario and was an Honours student in Geology. After his education he became a teacher and taught at SS #2
Thames Road in 1934 and then went to work in the gold mines of northern Ontario. He was employed with Kerr Addison Gold Mines at North Virginiatown in the Timiskaming District near the Quebec border.
While in North Bay in 1940, at the age of 28 he enlisted into the Royal Canadian Air Force on October 29 with the rank of Aircraftsman 2. At the time he stood 5' 6" tall and weighed 137 pounds. He had a fair complexion with grey eyes and brown hair. He was assigned to No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto. From November 16, 1940 - January 27, 1941 he was posted to Camp Borden His next posting on January 28 was to No. 1 Initial Training School in Toronto where he obtained 90%. While here he received the rank of Leading Aircraftsman. Between March 6 - May 16 he was posted to No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School in London and here his average was 76%. Then it was back to Camp Borden to No. 1 Service Flying Training School where his average was 75%. He received the rank of Sergeant and Pilot Officer while here. At the end of July it was to the east coast to "Y" Depot in Halifax.
Pilot Officer Anderson embarked from Halifax early in August by way of Iceland and disembarked in the United Kingdom on August 13. The following day he reported to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre in Bournemouth. On October 7 he was posted to RAF No. 23 Operational Training Unit attached to No. 6 Bomber Command and based at RAF Pershore - Worcestershire and here he trained for night missions on the Wellington bomber. On January 1, 1942 he was posted to RCAF No. 419 Squadron based at RAF Mildenhall - Suffolk with No. 3 Group Bomber Command.
In the Field "Operation Fuller" was the name given to the dash by the German Navy of the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and the Prinz Eugen that were effectively trapped in Brest but Hitler wanted them in Germany at any cost. To date the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had sunk 22 Allied ships that totaled 115,000 tons. The German Naval ships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prince Eugen were usually in Brest Harbour, but the RAF found it difficult to attack and sink them while they were there. In the meantime, Hitler believed that Norway was about to be invaded by the British and this led the infamous “Channel Dash” of February 12, 1942.
The ceiling was approximately 300 feet, cloud cover was 100% and it was snowing heavily, but in the Channel the sea state is low and no fog. After two flights of Swordfish and Beaufort torpedo bombers failed to penetrate the German convoy defences, Bomber Command then mustered 242 aircraft of all types and this was virtually the entire RAF combat-ready aircraft available and the strike was launched in mid afternoon. Pilot Officer Anderson was airborne from Middleton St. George at 17:00 hours. He was the second pilot of this aircraft. The final mission for he and his crew was in Wellington Mk 1C Z 1091 and their mission was to intercept the German Naval ships Scharnhorst, Gneisenhau and Prince Eugen as they moved through the Straits of Dover off of the Dutch coast. These ships were trying to get to a safer anchorage at Kiel in Germany and from there north to Norway. The weather during the late afternoon and early evening was very poor with much rain, sleet, snow and low clouds. Visibility was very poor, and to bomb the ships when located they would have to fly through different cloud layers because the ceiling was 800 feet. The last word anyone received was that they had sighted the German ships and were about to begin their bomb run. Nothing ever followed that report. As well the Scharnhorst had dropped away from the convoy.
It is believed that after each aircraft of the formation broke away to look for the targets individually that Wellington Z 1091 located their target, pressed home their attack and because of the heavy defences of the enemy ships lost their lives in the attack.
The German capital ships were to be protected by 282 aircraft and 6 destroyers. The aircraft were from various bases along the French, Belgian and Dutch costs
Only 39 British aircraft came within sight of the German ships, with P/O Anderson’s aircraft being one of them. No hits were scored. Facts: On February 11 the three enemy warships prepared to leave Brest with their objective being to force their way through the English Channel. Hitler wanted them back in Germany to counter any Russian/British invasion of Finland and Norway. The German Admiralty felt these ships were more valuable in Brest and could move into the Atlantic at any time to attack enemy shipping. They were overruled by Hitler. To support the three warships the Germans had been jamming The British radars all along the Channel with the jamming signals being increased each night to prevent RAF operators from noticing. In addition, there was a large, elaborate and effective plan for fighter screen protection of the three ships, with relieved German fighter patrols hopping down the coast to prepositioned refuelling airfields which gave them the opportunity to keep pace with the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prince Eugen as they moved toward Germany. On February 11/12 the RAF attacked Brest and this delayed the departure of the three enemy warships and their destroyers which eventually left at 9:15 pm. Had there been no RAF attack they would have departed on time and been detected by a Coastal Command Hudsons aircraft on airborne radar picket. When this aircraft finished is patrolling picket duty the replacement Hudson was attacked by a German night fighter causing the relief RAF Hudson to take evasive action .After the attack by the German night fighter the radar on the Hudson was found to be unserviceable, possibly due to the enemy night fighter attack and evasive manoeuvres it had to perform. The back up radar on another Hudson also failed and during this time the enemy ships passed undetected through the RAF airborne radar picket and made their way toward the Channel. It would be another 12 hours before they would be discovered. On February 12 the German fleet achieved a tactical surprise against the British because 12 hours had passed before they were detected and because they began their run through the channel in daylight hours and this the British were not expecting. February 12 was also a day of low cloud and poor visibility. As a result RAF aircraft had been stood down and were being held on 4 hours notice instead of 2 hours notice. Because of this RAF and Royal Navy air operations fell apart because of the weather and the confusion with the result being that any attacks carried out against the enemy fleet was only piecemeal and even when the British attacked they faced a well planned enemy air protection, enemy radar jamming, enemy flak and terrible weather. Attacks against the enemy fleet were made from their detection entering the Channel until they were lost in the darkness off of the Dutch coast. Nine RCAF Squadrons with four each from Bomber and Fighter Command took part in the attacks on the enemy ships along with one RCAF Coastal Command Squadron. Both the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were damaged by mines but both ships made their port of Kiel. Scharnhorst was out of commission for a year.
Gordon is honoured and remembered on the both the Exeter Cenotaph and Usborn Township Cenotaph as well as on the Memorial Plaques of Exeter United Church and Exeter High School. He is also honoured and remembered on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial and in the Books of Remembrance located in the Parliament Buildings of Canada. He is also named in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Also he is honoured and remembered on the RCAF 419 Squadron Honour Roll.
In November of 1943 Henry's sister Mrs. Glenn Maclean received the Memorial Cross. In April 1946 the Anderson family received the medals awarded to Henry which included the 1939-45 Star, the War Medal along with the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp.