James Priest was born in Barrie Ontario part of Simcoe County, on December 30th 1921. The family were part
of the great farming community that was part of that area.
James was already interested in flying and he worked as Trainee at Galt Aircraft School. With the entry of Canada into the war in Europe
Priest enlisted on August 21 1941. Stating his hobbies were model aircraft building and small motor repairs. He was
also an avid hockey player and played some baseball in the summer when his farm chores allowed him the time.
After completion of his training as Flight Engineer he shipped out for Britain sometime in 1943. Dates are not clear some say 1943 while others say
September of 1944, which has to be incorrect as he was with the F/O Bell crew by June 18th of 1944.
He was not on KB708 VR-E on the night of July 6th 1944 when Bell's crew went on their first operation. One in
flak did some heavy damage to VR-E. When Bell took his crew on their second sortie, one to Mont Condan,
Priest and a new crew member Wally Loucks were part of the crew. (in around 2019 when Loucks passed away he left
the documents he collected on the history to the niece of James Priest and her husband. Which indicates a lang
time bond between them both.
The Bell crew continued on to complete their Tour on November 6th 1944 and left the Squadron sometime in December of 1944. By January of 1945
Sgt. Priest was back in Canada. After receiving his commission to P/O he long with so many others were transferred to General Section of Reserves. With the
war in Europe over the RCAF were planning their part in operations in the Pacific. This never came about as the war in the
Pacific was over before the training could begin.
James Priest moved to the United States becoming a citizen in 1953. He began a business in Detroit. He then worked for Boeing Aircraft until
1967 found former P/O Priest flying helicopters in Vietnam. He would now be 45 years old and there is no indication of if
he is flying for the US Army or USAF. He mentions in a letter home about almost crashing into a tree and how 115 degree days
are hard on anyone. His letter hints that the losses of men were higher than maybe being told to the folks back home.
The nights are filled with mortar and small arms fire.
A 1969 letter tells of his journey back home
He was married and had a family, two daughters. He passed away a number of years ago, I have no date on that,