American pilots of No 71 'Eagle' Squadron rush to their Hawker Hurricanes at Kirton-in-Lindsey, 17 March 1941. L to R: 'Pete' Provenzano, 'Red' Tobin, Sam Mauriello and Bill Nichols (IWM)

Immigrants of War is a collection of memories of the thousands of Americans who volunteered for service with the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. The book is an ongoing project, now in its 10th edition. I welcome photo scans and information which would assist in documenting this important story.

Please contact me at the following address:

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Victor Nicholas Cabas

January 15, 1920 - August 26, 2018 One of the Last WWII Ace Fighter Pilots Passes Away Brigadier General Victor N. Cabas died Sunday, August 26, 2018. Born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, he was 98 years old and died from natural causes. General Cabas devoted his entire career of 32 years to the preservation of our freedom. He was highly decorated for his service to his country including 11 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Air Medal with 21 oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Unit Citation, the Croix de Guerre avec Palme, Order of Leopold with palm and rosette, Croix de Guerre with cross, Belgian Fourragère, the Commendation Medal, King's Medallion and Battle of Britain Ribbon, U.S. Presidential Citation, and Canadian Battle Ribbon, maple leaf. He had 10 campaign stars for service in Europe, Africa and Korea. His battles include the Channel Dash, the Battle of Britain, the Dieppe Raid, North Africa, the Battle of the Bulge, D-Day at Normandy, Korea and Vietnam. Victor Cabas enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in March 1941 and served until 1942. While in the RCAF he had 51 flight missions over Europe and was said to have piloted Winston Churchill during the war. He joined the American Air Corps as a First Lieutenant after the U.S. entered World War II. He became one of the few American pilots to have flown a British Spitfire (his favorite of the 25 different planes he flew). Victor Cabas flew over 300 missions combined in WWII. He served with the 49th Fighter Squadron. He was an ace fighter pilot credited with downing five and a half German planes (including taking off from the airfield, engaging four German fighter planes, and shooting down one in sight of the base). He was downed by aerial and ground fire on two occasions. During the Korean War he became the Director of Operations for the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Group and served as Chief, Reconnaissance Operations, for the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. During the Vietnam era he was assigned Commander of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing from 1965-1967, preparing pilots to meet the demands of Southeast Asia. He transferred in1967 to the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in Southeast Asia. He was awarded his 3rd Distinguished Flying Cross at Udorn Air Force Base in Thailand and was decorated for the extraordinary achievement as an F-4 Phantom pilot during aerial flight over North Vietnam. Brigadier General Cabas had more than 3900 hours flight time by 1963 and more than 500 combat missions in all wars combined. He was said to have had as much aerial warfare as any man alive. He retired as a Brigadier General in December 1971.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Claude Alexander Rowe Jr.

(Photo: Claude Rowe Jr. with RCAF pilot badge on his U.S. uniform) October 5, 2018 By Andrew Dyer - San Diego Tribune Claude Alexander Rowe Jr. who served in the armed forces of two allied nations during World War II, was laid to rest Friday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego with full military honors, including a gun salute and a “missing man” formation flyby of WWII-era fighters. Rowe died on Sept. 20 at age 97. He was born in Detroit on July 7, 1921. He was a student at the Lawrence Institute of Technology during World War II and left college during his second year to serve his country as a pilot. Because Rowe was black, he was not eligible to fly in the Army Air Corps. Instead, he went north, to the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he earned his wings in 1944. In September 1945, Rowe came back to the U.S. and joined the Army, this time as part of the Tuskegee Airmen Experiment, a segregated unit. He earned his wings in June 1946 and flew bombers such as the WB-50 and B-29. Rowe stayed on as the Air Corps transitioned into the Air Force, eventually becoming a weather officer. He retired in 1966 as a captain.
(Photo: Claude Rowe Jr. wearing RCAF uniform) (Interview January 18, 2009 San Diego Union-Tribune) As a youngster, when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, of course my answer was “I want to be a pilot!” With Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit, where I lived, I used to watch the planes fly over on my way to school. I had my mind set from a very young age, and was not going to settle for less, despite the color of my skin. When I was in high school, I was offered the option of an aviation class or an auto mechanics class. I wanted to take aviation in order to begin my mission of becoming a pilot. Unfortunately, my teacher said they would never let a colored man be a military pilot, so I was directed to the auto mechanics class. Just a couple of years after I graduated, the war began. I knew it was not only a chance to fulfill my destiny, but also an opportunity to fight for my country. I left the Lawrence Institute of Technology and headed to the local military recruiting office to join the line of men waiting to sign up. When I got to the front, and they told me that my only choice would be to serve as a cook, I took my application and headed for the door. There was only one option I wanted, and that was to fly and fight for the right side. Having seen advertisements around Detroit for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and not knowing if and when colored pilots would ever be allowed in the United States, I headed north to Canada. Since I was the only black man in my class up there, I was naturally integrated with the white pilots. After I received my wings, I returned to the United States. Nathaniel Carr, a good friend of mine from high school, told me about the Tuskegee program. I leapt at the chance to be a part of such an unprecedented experience. That was what I had been waiting to hear my entire life, the chance to fly and fight for our country! I always thought that if I didn’t fly for my country, I wouldn’t earn the right to become a first-class citizen.
There were some tough times; being that it was a nearly colorless military at the time, we were segregated to all-colored bases. At certain other bases, we were not even allowed to go to the Officers Club, and white airmen were reluctant to salute colored officers. It was routine to be separated, and although the discrimination was uncomfortable, we were too determined to let that stop us. We were not just fighting for our country, we were fighting for our dreams, and we were willing to give our lives for it. The military was integrated in 1948, and that made things somewhat easier; it was another step toward being recognized for what we did rather than the color of our skins. We were given more opportunities to fly larger, more powerful planes. The bigger the plane, the more I liked it! I absolutely loved flying the B-29 Superfortress, a four-engine heavy bomber, in the Korean War. Being in the air gave you a sense of freedom you never felt on land. After serving for over 20 years, I retired from the military. Despite fighting in wars across the world, and a war for equality in my own country, I met my beautiful wife while stationed in England in November 1949. I have the experience to thank for a lot of wonderful things in my life (including eight children and 18 grandchildren!), and for paving the way for change in our country. We were not just fighting for our country. We were fighting for our dreams and we were willing to give our lives for it.
(Photo: Claude Rowe and fellow Course 92 pilot trainees at No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, Fort William, Ontario, Canada December 1943.)
(Photo: February 22, 2013 - Tuskegee Airman Claude Rowe and Nelson Robinson, left, chat with each other after the dedication/unveiling of the Tuskegee Airman Highway sign with the Senate Concurrent Resolution 90 that designates a 3-mile section of Interstate 15 as the “Tuskegee Airmen Highway” to honor all the men of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 447th Bombardment Group, who faithfully served this country while fighting the enemy in Europe and segregation at home. - D. Boomer photo)

Clyde East

In Memory of Clyde Bennett East - Lt/Col. USAF. Ret. July 19, 1921 - July 30, 2014 Clyde East was born a sharecropper's son on Cole's Hill plantation, Sheva, Southside Virginia on July 19, 1921. As a farm boy growing up in Depression-era rural Virginia, young Clyde scraped together the money to go up in a biplane at a carnival. With that flight, his budding interest in aviation flamed into a passion. By the summer of 1941, at 19 years of age, Clyde was hitchhiking up to Canada to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). His goal was to become a military pilot and help fight the war against Hitler. He achieved that goal and became an accomplished fighter and reconnaissance pilot, first with the RCAF (No. 414 Squadron), then with the US Army Air Corps beginning in January, 1944. Staged in England and flying Spitfire and Mustang recon/fighter planes, he flew in and led numerous missions across the English Channel. By war's end in 1945, Captain East had flown approx. 250 missions, and amassed 400 flight hours and 13 aerial victories. He was awarded the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Air Medal with 36 Oak Leaf Clusters. His career as a military pilot continued on in the Korean War (1950-1953) where he earned the rank of Major and was awarded three more Flying Crosses and six additional Air Medals. With this achievement Clyde held the record for the highest number of repeat combat medals, an honor which stood unchallenged in the Guinness World Records for 13 years. Clyde's accomplishments in the USAF continued through the 1950's and 60's, first as Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Commander at Shaw AFB (1951-1954), then with a three-year stint as Training Advisor for the Italian Air Force (1954-1957).
(Photo: Clyde and his Canadian bride Margaret Ann Dilks) Returning to the States with his family, which now included wife Margaret and 6 children, Clyde attended USAF War College at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL then on to TacRecon Squadron Commander at Shaw AFB, Sumter, SC where he flew the McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo. He was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1959, then served overseas another 3 years as a Squadron Commander at Laon AFB near Laon, France. Lt/Col East spent his last three years of active military service back at Shaw AFB as a Squadron Commander and Voodoo pilot. Notably, during the fall of 1962, he served as Detachment Commander in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Clyde flew numerous visual and photographic missions over Cuba and was later awarded the fourth cluster to his Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1964 he commanded a Voodoo unit deployed to South Vietnam in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. After a 25-year period of exemplary service spanning three major wars across the globe, Lt/Col Clyde East retired from Air Force life in February, 1965. Clyde's commitment to his country continued an additional 28 years as a military analyst for RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. The family recalls these as good years, where they could finally put down roots in southern California and become a normal family in a regular community.
One of Clyde's greatest accomplishments was the 2013 completion and printing of his detailed autobiography, "The Way It Happened". “I’d watch other veterans come up to Dad and shake his hand with a look of awe in their eyes — like they were touching a piece of walking, talking history,” says Suzy Danner, one of Clyde’s three daughters. They were touching history. It was Clyde who Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower sent ahead in a P-51 Mustang to get reconnaissance photos of German troop concentrations at Normandy only hours before the D-Day invasion. Clyde shot down an enemy aircraft along the way. When Gen. George Patton’s army was making its dash across France, it was Clyde flying up ahead through heavy anti-aircraft fire to let Patton know what to expect — shooting down a dozen more enemy planes in the process.

Albert Louis Schlegel

By Brian Albrecht, The Plain Dealer CLEVELAND, Ohio March 27, 2017 -- For 72 years, the remains of Cleveland's World War II fighter ace Albert Schlegel were known only as X-73, buried in an anonymous grave in an American cemetery in Champigueul, France. Then, in 2016, an investigation finally revealed the tragic story of the airman who had been shot down while flying his P-51 Mustang on a mission in France, and was apparently captured by German troops and summarily executed with a bullet to the forehead. Schlegel, who wanted to fly and fight so badly that he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force shortly before America entered the war in 1941, will be buried with full military honors on March 30 at the Beaufort (South Carolina) National Cemetery. "Uncle Sonny" will be saluted at the memorial service and burial by his nephew, Perry Nuhn, 84, a former Clevelander now living in Beaufort County, South Carolina. Nuhn, the last surviving family member who knew Schlegel before and during the war, is a retired Air Force colonel who served as a bombardier/navigator during the Korean and Vietnam wars. He said his uncle was born in Cleveland but raised in Garfield Heights, and played baseball and football at John Adams High School. His hobbies included making model airplanes. Nuhn said Schlegel was put in charge of watching the kids whenever Nuhn's family visited. "With us, as kids, he was patient, did not complain about watching us and keeping us entertained," Nuhn said. "Both before he left for Canada and when he came home after flight training, he passed on all his toys and models, some clothes and other items to us, some of which I still have," he added. "He was someone it was easy to want to be with, and caring." After Schlegel graduated from high school, "like all kids at the time, he was interested in aviation, and wanted to go into the U.S. military air (program)," Nuhn said. At the time, however, aviation candidates had to have two years of college, and "there was no way he could go to college, he didn't have the money," Nuhn added. Schlegel then heard the Canadians were recruiting American pilots for the war, and he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. One Canadian officer described Schlegel as a "good, clean-cut American lad. Will develop into good aircrew material. Pleasant and good appearance." Schlegel went to England to join 8,800 other Yanks fighting for the RAF in the Eagle Squadrons, but was injured while riding in a Jeep that hit a bomb crater on an airfield. He lost most of his teeth, and four pins had to be used to set his broken leg. (Those injuries would later help identify his remains.)
(Photo: Albert Schlegel in front of a Harvard trainer at Aylmer) Once healed, Schlegel, who was nicknamed "Smiley," tore up the skies in a variety of aircraft. He flew Hurricanes and Spitfires for the British. After becoming part of the U.S. Eighth Air Force's 335th Fighter Squadron in 1943, he also piloted P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs. He flew missions escorting bombers and attacking ground targets. Eventually he became an ace (five or more victories in the air), credited with 16 enemy planes (confirmed and probable, in the air and on the ground). Schlegel was able to make a short visit home in 1944. Nuhn recalled that the pilot spoke little about combat. "Hairy war stories were not in conversations with me or my brothers," he noted. "Mostly, funny instances about him and his fellow 4th Fighter group friends."
Nuhn said many veteran pilots were being re-assigned to duty in the U.S., but his uncle chose to return to combat. "He wanted to go back over and fly," he said. On Aug. 28, 1944, Captain Schlegel was a flight leader on a raid on a railroad yard near Sarrebourg, France. Three of the flight's 16 planes were shot down by enemy antiaircraft flak, including Schlegel, who radioed the formation, saying he'd been hit and "might have to bail out." Neither Schlegel nor his plane was found. The Germans did not report Schlegel as being captured, and the pilot was listed as missing in action. However, an investigation in 2015 turned up reports that on the day Schlegel was shot down, in the same area, villagers of Valmy, France, reported seeing an Allied airman brought to the train station by German troops, then hearing two gunshots. A body was later discovered near the train station, shot in the head, and the remains -- identified only as X-73 -- were transferred to the American cemetery in Champigueul. Investigators had the skeletal remains sent to a laboratory in Nebraska, where they were identified, and Nuhn was notified in 2016 that the family's longstanding mystery had been solved. Nuhn recalled that when his uncle was reported missing, then killed in action, "I do not believe my mother or grandmother ever got over his death. As for me, instant shock, deep loss and grief." Nuhn will speak at a memorial ceremony honoring his uncle on March 29 at the National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force,in Georgia. A flyover is planned by current members of Schlegel's old squadron, the 335th. He also will speak at the March 30 burial, where Schlegel's uniform and decorations will be displayed. Nuhn remembers Schlegel as both a fighter pilot and an uncle. Judging from Schlegel's letters home, "he was truly happy when flying," Nuhn said. "He got a 'rush' from real low-level flying. "I have known more than a few fighter pilots. Generally they tend toward more on the wild side as pilots go," he added. "I would not put my uncle in that category. But when it came to flying fighters, he loved it, and I suspect he was a determined 'fighter' as a fighter pilot." As an uncle, "he was always somebody we looked up to," Nuhn said. When he first got word that his uncle's remains had been found and identified, Nuhn said he was surprised and relieved. "You're talking about closure here," he said. "It's like reading a book, and now you're on the last chapter."
After a journey of more than 70 years, U.S. Army Air Force Capt. Albert L. Schlegel made it home Thursday morning to his final resting place. Schlegel, a World War II pilot, received a hero’s welcome home as hundreds gathered along the road in front of Beaufort National Cemetery to pay tribute to him. He was welcomed home by school children, veterans, current service members, families and many others who just wanted to say thanks one final time for his service to the country. “This completes the story,” Perry Nuhn, Schlegel’s nephew and last remaining relative said of the service. “Now I know what happened to him and it is good to have this closure. This is not a sad moment. This is a happy moment.”

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fuller Patterson

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Eisenhower decorates U.S. Airmen - April 11, 1944

John Godfrey (ex RCAF) and Don Gentile (ex RAF) chat for the cameras. Gentile and Don Blakeslee (ex RCAF) are decorated by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron

No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron

Funeral of Pilot Officer 'Billy' Fiske - August 24, 1940

Americans Join The RCAF - August 1940

From my files: (C/2646) Bernard Foster initially served as a staff pilot at No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School, Fingal, Ontario. He later served with No. 166 Squadron before transferring to the USAAF in 1944. (C/2492) Flying Officer David Francis Langmack was killed in a flying accident in Lysander 417, near Suffield, Alberta,September 22, 1941. 'Whitey' Dahl received a commission (C/5568) upon completion of a refresher course at No. 1 SFTS Camp Borden and was posted to No. 8 SFTS Moncton, New Brunswick. (C/2703) Edward Albert Moore served as a staff pilot at No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Jarvis, Ontario. Note: Sterling Carl Campbell was a Canadian who had been working in Hollywood at the time of the news reel.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Joseph Solko Interview

Michael Rodnick Interview

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010