Military Background

Jack McIntosh's military background started in a Militia Unit, the South Albert Regiment. His father a wounded and decorated veteran of the Frist World War came to Canada after the war and settled in Alberta.
Although in the Militia he decided to join up with the RCAF and volunteer for aircrew training in June of 1941. By the end of the month he was reporting to No.2 Manning Depot in Brandon Manitoba. With his Militia background he quickly was promoted to Corporal.
As with all aircrew applicants he was next posted to a Initial Training School, at No.2 ITS in Regina he did academics studies, mathematics, Morse code, theory of flight, aircraft recognition, armaments, navigation and of course time in the Link Trainer.
The applicants were also put through a battery of interviews and testing to establish mental and stress characteristics, as well as how they could handle them. At the end we was selected for pilot training.


Introduction to flight training was on the venerable Tiger Moth at No.8 EFTS in Vancouver. Here after two months of instruction and testing he completed his EFTS on Sept.20 1941. Then posted to No.7 SFTS at Ford McLeod in Alberta. It was winter and the days were very cold and the skies windy for most of the time. Still he completed the flight training on the Avro Anson and on April 15th 1942 was presented with his wings. Now a Sergeant with slightly a little over 200 hours in his log he was next headed overseas.


On May 12th 1942 he left Halifax in a convey headed for Britain, it wasn't an easy voyage, five of the ships in the convey were sunk before they reached the shores of Britain. After the customary stop at No.3 Reception Center in Bournemouth it was off to Shawbury for more training at an Advanced Flying School, performing exercises in cross country flights, instrument flying, navigation, blind controlled landing and more aircraft recognition and map reading. In total another 80 hours flying time on the Oxford trainer.
With his 280 hours training behind him as he arrived at the OTU base, his next major duty was to pick a crew and then work them into a team by completing more cross country night flights and exercises together. As with other training bases, accidents and death were all too familiar. And more training and dangers still laid ahead.
The aircraft at the OTU were the twin engine Wellingtons, but now here at the Heavy Conversation Unit the sight of the huge four engine bomber he was next to learn to fly, the Halifax, stayed with him till his later years. During an interview in his later life he mentioned he was "in utter awe of size of the Halifax". He was now 20 years old and had been in the RCAF for 18 months, with a total of 353 hours in his log. He was responsible for the lives of six other men and to ensure the operations were carried out to the best abilities of all on board.

419 Squadron

While he waited to complete his 2nd. pilot sortie, he and his crew attended training on escaping, survival, ditching an aircraft, bombing runs both as a solo effort and in groups and more night cross country flying.
Finally with the completion of his 2nd. Dickie sortie on February 24th. He was ready to take his crew on operation sorties over Europe.
His crew were:
Navigator Sgt. A. Mellin DFM
B/A Sgt. R.N. Keary
WAG Sgt. A. D. Rumsam
F/E Sgt. A.G. Grogan
R/G Sgt. K.N. Doe
MU/G Sgt.G. Dunbar

A Dangerous Passage Feb. 27th 1943

While the crews first operation together went without incident. Tragedy would strike on the next operation Their mission was to mine a section of the Frisian Islands, his aircraft Halifax DT619 was heavily damaged by hits from both a flak ship and an enemy night-fighter.
Two of McIntosh's crew were killed F/E Grogan and rear gunner Dunbar. Sgt. Mellin had been seriously wounded in the leg but despite his wounds and pain he took over the duties of the F/E as well as his own navigation duties.
The crew extinguished the fires as Mellin charted their way home and aided McIntosh as the F/E in bringing the Halifax back for a successful crash landing at Colteshall air base.
A controlled crash landing, is getting the aircraft and crew down safely with as little harm to crew or aircraft as possible. Many times a controlled crash could result in more damage and deaths, there was always the unknown factor that took the lives of many who thought they had it in control. Along with not knowing what mechanical faults could happen to his aircraft as he brought her in, McIntosh knew he still had three fifteen hundred pound mines in the bomb bay of the Halifax. The long tube like devices were filled with high explosives, there was no way for all the crew to parachute. It was all in the hands of the pilot and the wounded Sgt. Mellin working as Flight Engineer to get down in one piece.
For his exemplary conduct and fortitude Sgt. Arthur Mellin was awarded the DFM, on April 23 1943.

Return to HCU and 419 and More Dangers

With the loss of three of his crew on that night in February, McIntosh and the remaining members of the crew returned to HCU to put together another crew and train together before returning to squadron operations.
On May 1st, McIntosh returned to 419 with his original B/A Sgt. Keary, WAG Sgt. Rumsam, Sgt. Doe now as rear gunner, with a new F/E Sgt. E.S. Mulholland. Navigators and 2nd. gunners would change periodically, but all the remaining original crew members would stay with McIntosh until the end of their tours.
The second operation after their return was to Dortmund where again flak hit and damaged their Halifax. This time the damage was done to the starboard rudder, knocking a hole through it from shrapnel pieces sent out by the flak bursts. Two operations later they encountered a twin engine night fighter. McIntosh took evasive actions that threw the Halifax off it's main target, but he managed to complete a bombing run on the secondary target. No Combat Report was filled out for that incident.
The crew were to witness the bringing down of another aircraft, off in the distance as they returned to home on the next night's operation. P/O McIntosh's crew were to take part in many important operations in the next few months including one to the rocket research base at Peenemunde and the ten plus hour mission over the alps to Milan Italy.
But one danger would reappear a number of times during his operations from May to October, one that he even remembered while giving interviews decades later.
Night Fighter flares! These bright illuminating flares dropped by enemy night fighters lit up the dark skies, making the large bombers targets for not only the fighters but the guns below.
Fighter flares are made mention of in McIntosh's last few operations in September, when he reported a line of fighter flares dropped from East to West directly along the bomber stream. And on a second operation within two nights on Hanover multiple sightings of these flares could be seen by himself and the crews of other bombers. P/O McIntosh returned to base during all these sightings without incident.

Medicine Hat Halifax JP114

In late May McIntosh was awaiting his new type Halifax, the MkII Special, most noticeably different by the lack of a nose gun and the now more aerodynamic nose, making it a little faster then the other Halifax aircraft.
The new Halifax was to be delivered to 419 by the Air Transport Auxiliary, an organization of women pilots who flew any type of aircraft from base to base, or factory to base. They would be flying a Spitfire one minute then delivering a Halifax later in the day. And they had their own superstitions. As McIntosh found out when he drove out to meet his new aircraft, the ATA pilot would not directly look at him. She reused to make eye contact with him.

P/O McIntosh named it after his home town Medicine Hat, Alberta it was painted with the Disney character Goofy on the side. One of the ground crew selected Goofy and the rest of the crew loved the idea. Goofy dropping "medicine" on the enemy from the "hat". The painting was done by fellow 419 airman and artist F/L Ley Kenyon, who would later be shot down in September of 1943 , becoming a PoW as well as a witness and recorder of the Great Escape. (Ley Kenyon's drawing are found in many books on the Great Escape or other WWII books.)
In later years Jack McIntosh would say that the nose art gave him good luck.
Medicine Hat would be P/O McIntosh's aircraft for the remainder of his tour. Not that other pilots did not get to fly it on operations, they got to fly it when McIntosh and his crew were on Leave.
On October 19th 1943 P/O Mcintosh along with F/S Keary, F/S Rumsam, F/S Mulholland and F/S Doe were screened and posted to "R" Depot for preparation to return to Canada.

DFC Comments

This officer has taken part in sorties on most of the important German targets during a most successful tour of operational duty. On one operation his aircraft was severely damaged by an enemy fighter, two of the crew being killed and one wounded. In spite of this, by fine airmanship, Pilot Officer McIntosh made a successful return to base where he executed a skilful crash landing. On another occasion a wing of his aircraft was set on fire and one of the tail fins was rendered unserviceable in an encounter with a fighter. Despite such harassing experiences this officer has displayed continued gallantry. He is a skilful and courageous pilot.

Jack McIntosh returned home to a successful life in business. While in training at No. 8 E.F.T.S. Vancouver he would meet his future wife. And in March of 1945 they were married in Vancouver.

Jack (John) McIntosh passed away in Edmonton Alberta in 2004.