I first started researching the 419 Lancaster named "Chopper" about six months ago.
What I had found out to that time was that there were four Lancaster aircraft in the squadron which
bore the VR-C on their fuselage. The photo I had was one without any
notations on it, or so I thought.
The one point which had slowed my research was the stylized swastika below the artwork, I took it to mean that an
enemy aircraft had been claimed by one of the crews of a VR-C. Checking back on all the Lancaster VR-C found there were
none that made any claims of enemy aircraft damaged or destroyed .
The photo appeared to have been taken before any operations had been marked on or any names of crew applied.
It was at this point where I left the Chopper research last September.
A Missed Clue and Helpful Friends
The clue that I missed or misinterpreted was the wording in faded pencil on the back of the photo
"Alberta ...81" This photo was actually a photo of a photo taken with an old Kodak Brownie at the
Reunion 1997 in Alberta. And so the real clue was on the photo,
although very faintly, at least there all the time. KB881 was "Chopper", the first three letters of the serial
number "KB8 " part had faded out.
Operational History KB881
The history of "Chopper" with 419 Squadron is a short one in that it came to the squadron near the end of March
1945. The first four ops were flown by the crew of F/O G.L. Smith. He and his crew flew KB881 eight out of the
eleven operations I could find Chopper taking part in.
His crew were:
Navigator F/O J.A.F. Miller
Bomb Aimer F/O A.J. Skinner
WAG P/O N.S. Croucher
F/E Sgt. J.J. McCann
A/G M/U F/O J.P. Goyette
A/G R/G F/O J.J. Calder
On a day light raid on March 25th the aircraft was hit by flak over Hanover, a hole was punched through the Port Inner
engine. It does not mention if it was the engine that was damaged or just the nacelle that was holed. The damage was
not severe enough to stop the Lancaster from returning to base.
The Chopper took part in the squadron's last operational sortie on April 25th, having completed eleven sorties she was to
return to Canada. Squadron documents shown that on June 10th 1945 Chopper arrived at Yarmouth with F/L G.L.Smith at