Gordon Cheesman began his life and working career in the small town of Forget Saskatchewan. Working on the family
farm and enjoying the
time in between school and work playing baseball and hockey. Looking for more in life he left Forget, which
was a small farm community closer to the North Dakota border then to Winnipeg or other large town.
Moving east and taking work at McKinnon Industries in St. Catherines Ontario, always looking to improve himself he later moved on
to Windsor Ontario where he became a welder for Canada Bridge.
It would be in Windsor where he saw an opportunity
to not only serve his country but again better his education for the future. He did indeed think of his future
after the war, making bank deposits and buying War Bonds all during the realities of life as part of a bomber crew.
December of 1942 saw him
at the Hamilton recruitment
center the day after enlisting.
His next step as it was for many more to come was No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto's CNE
grounds. During this time is movement cards show he attended Ontario Training College in Hamilton to upgrade
his mathematics, physics and English, a program put in place by the RCAF for aircrew
recruits who showed aptitudes for trades but required higher levels of educational . A plan that paid off well
for the air force in these days following the Great Depression when men had to leave school early to earn money for families
His occupational background in mechanical trades were looked at by the enlistment officer, but Gordon drew a line through
"Ground Duties" and had Flying Duties "Pilot" as what he wished for. The next step was No.1 Initial Training School, where
along with other instructions he would be tested for abilities as a pilot in a Link Trainer and undergo the psychological
testing necessary for selection to pilot training.
His first taste of flying came at No.7 Elementary Flight Training Windsor Ontario from
the end of May to end of June of 1943 he completed all his training and with twelve and half hours of solo
time most likely on Fleet Finch aircraft.
He then moved on to
No. 16 SFTS in Hagersville where he flew another seven hours plus as solo this time on Harvards. It was here
that it was suggested that he begin training as a Navigator.
At No.4 Air Observer School in London Ontario he proved to be an eager student completed his Navigation course after almost 100 hours
on an Anson being the responsible Navigator in charge. Next stop was overseas.
Arriving on March 15th in Bournemouth at No. 3 Reception Center, then in April more training at No.6 AFU before
continuing to No.22 O.T.U where he crewed up with F/O Bruce Hyndman and with the other future members of the Hyndman
Shown in Photo
Sgt. Ronald Ovis Flight Engineer
Sgt. Lloyd Graham WAG
Sgt. George Smith Bomb Aimer
Sgt. Douglas Marcellus Mid-Upper Gunner
During his first operational sortie over Europe Cheesman would be kept very busy. The journey along route set out
from their base to the target was not taking as long as what had been planned. The Pilot had F/O Cheesman plan a series
of doglegs to Castrop Rouxel so his Lancaster would not arrive ahead of schedule and then be left circling the
target awaiting the Pathfinders and thus being the only thing for the enemy defences to shoot at.
The path set out by Cheesman brought them into the target area on the allotted time. Although they ended up being hit
by ground fire anyway. Two small holes inside the bomb bay were the crews souvenir for the first sortie.
After completing two other sorties in November F/O Cheesman along with all the other airmen of 419 found themselves
in winters grip. What would turn out to be one of the worst winters in decades did not stop flying operations
Moose Squadron. The icing conditions played havoc with the aircraft and the nerves of their crews.
Hyndman's crew almost became a causality of the ice that plagued the flights to the far off objectives. December 2nd.
was the date, Hagen the objective. Along the way the aircraft iced over so heavily that the elements of lift built into
the design of the shape of the wing were overcome by the ice. The ice buildup changed the shape of the wings to such a degree that
the aircraft lost all effects of lift and fell from 16,000 to 3,000 feet before control was gained. It was a close call.
The weather did not change much over the next few days. For Cheesman and his fellow crewmen there was some relief as they
read the days Battle Order. They were on for the night, but as Spare Crew. With the weather and the problems with
aircraft flying in it, Spare Crew meant this was a night when a Spare crew could easily be needed.
They spent that night at base not called into action, the next night they were again on the Battle Order this time as
part of the operation. As things would go, something went wrong and they and their aircraft were "Scrubbed".
As December 6th came the weather continued with its assault on the aircraft flying off into the night, once
again F/O Cheesman saw his name on the Battle Order. This time they were off into the wintery night.
It would be the last time any official sighting of Lancaster KB779 and its crew would be made.
Officialdom Moves Slow and a Mother Wants Answers
When F/O Cheesman and the crew failed to return the first movements of the paperwork followed the normal channels. Crew
is listed lost most likely by enemy action. As the days pass and no further word is heard of them. Someone in the
paperwork trail posts them as Presumed Lost at 1940 hours on December 6th. No reason for that exact time can be found in the
records. Just that it most likely happened between 1935 and 1955 hours. Were they seen by another aircraft prior to that time then
noticed as not being seen after this time, it is not mentioned.
Letters are sent out to his mother at home and his brother in the Canadian Army Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment.
The letters have little if any valuable information, only promising to send any more information to them if any is found.
By June 19th 1945, Mrs. Cheesman, Gordon's mother writes to the RCAF wanting to know if more information has been
found out. In August the return letter offers no more information for her or her other son still overseas.
In his hometown of Forget, Saskatchewan is a memorial for Gordon Cheesman and a Lake named in his honor.
KB779 and the Hyndman Crew