Cindy Wilson photo/Telegraph-Journal

Vet amazed at how many flyers survived

by Derwin Gowan - Monday, March 9, 2009

This article is courtesy of Telegraph-Journal

John C. (Jack) Crammond flew on the first of his 26 bombing missions over Europe on Jan. 7, 1945.

The retired Saint John High School teacher, who grew up in St. George, still recalls that and many other details of those final months of the Second World War in Europe.

He recalled these stories not long ago for students at Saint John High School.

"I try to bring in veterans in to my Canadian history class," teacher Barry Ogden said in an interview.

The class filmed Crammond, with the intention of sending the recording to the National War Museum in Ottawa.

Crammond flew as a bombardier, a Canadian attached to Royal Air Force squadrons, out of Wickenby, about 13 kilometres from Lincoln, England.

On Jan. 1, 1945, the pilot he was to fly with on Jan. 7, Fred (Red) Benoit of Montreal, went along on another bombing mission to fly with an experienced crew before doing it on his own.

The rear gunner was sick.

"So our rear gunner, Bill Pogson was his name, volunteered to take the place of this rear gunner," Crammond said.

"He was a chocolate salesman."

Pogson did not make it back to England after the enemy shot down their bomber aircraft.

Benoit parachuted down over Liege, Belgium.

Young people celebrating New Year's at a camp in the woods found him hung up in trees. He made it back to fly again.

Crammond was born in Newfoundland, but came to St. George at the age of one, when the bank transferred his father there.

He graduated from high school in 1941. He worked the summer at the YMCA canteen at the new Pennfield Air Station. The bank transferred his father to Petitcodiac, so Crammond lived on the base.

He enrolled at Mount Allison University in Sackville in the fall of 1941.

"I was waiting to get old enough to enlist, you see."

He enlisted with the RCAF in Moncton in 1942, and trained in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan at Mossbank, Sask., before going overseas.

"I was overseas a year and a half," Crammond said.

The authorities credited his squadron with a complete "tour" of duty, even though the war ended before the squadron did the normally required 30 missions for this designation.

"I look back on it and it is remarkable to me that as many survived as did," Crammond said.

A total of 55,000 Commonwealth Bomber Command air crew died, including more than 10,000 Canadians, he said.

After more training in England, he joined the operational squadron at Wickenby.

Following the war, he returned to Mount Allison, where he completed bachelor's degrees in arts and education. He started his teaching career in Albert County near Elgin.

After three years in Albert County, he taught in Saint John for about 22 years, beginning at a junior high school on Union Street before moving to the high school.

He retired at 51 in 1975, taking advantage of a rule that teachers with overseas service could retire at 50 after 25 years of service.

He and his wife, parents of three children, moved to a new home on the Magaguadavic River, five kilometres north of St. George.

They liked the gardening, hunting and fishing.

"We liked it there, had 26 good years there," he said.

His wife's kidney disease forced them to return to Saint John in 2002. She died in 2006.

lancaster1.jpg - John C. (Jack) Crammond holds an artists rendering of the Avro Lancaster, a bomber that he flew in as a bombardier during the Second World War, when he was based in Wickenby, England. - Taken by Cindy Wilson

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