For James Short the love of flying was one to share and instructing in the skills of piloting was his way to share
The Moose Jaw Flying School, where Short instructed, was like most flying schools in Canada, fulfilling the RCAF
need for additional pilot instructors.
At the beginning of the war with the thousands of men slated to take part in the BCATP the number of trained,
experienced instructors needed far exceeded those available. Private clubs and instructors supplemented the small number
of air force instructors.
James Short joined the RCAF in June of 1940 in the city of Regina, he already had a flying licence, and now the
air force would add the military touches to his skills.
After completion of courses at No.6 SFTS he went on to attend No.1 Central Flying School at Trenton, here he
would have had the opportunity of being at a base that had a large selection of single and twin engine aircraft.
Where most bases may have one or two varieties, Trenton offered a blend of old and new aircraft such as
Tiger Moths, Harvards, Cranes, Ansons, Hudsons, Oxfords, Cornells, Battles, Hurricanes and more. For the next
few years he was an instructor at both EFTS and SFTS bases and racked up 2,227 hours of instructional training.
Air Force Cross
On October 26th 1943, P/O Short while at No. 4 SFTS was awarded the Air Force Cross, the citation reads:
This officer has been instructing steadily since July, 1940, both at Elementary and Service
Flying Training Schools and has completed 2,227 instructional hours. During this period he has
performed his duties in an exceptionally meritorious and efficient manner. The keenness and
loyalty to duty displayed by Pilot Officer Short have been an inspiration to the other
instructors of the school as well as to his pupils.
In May of 1944, Short volunteered for overseas service. Even with the vast skills and experience he had built
up as an instructor
with over 2,200 hours, he would follow the same path as all other airmen. As with the hundreds of students that
to train, F/L Short would now go through the crewing up process and completing training at an OTU and at
Conversion Unit before being posted to an operational squadron.
Finally by April of 1945 he and his crew arrived at 419 squadron.
His fellow crewmen were:
Navigator F/O H S Hazlitt
Bomb Aimer F/O J F Marshall
F/E P/O R C Sullivan
WAG Sgt. John Volkes
M/UG Sgt. R E Zavitz
R/G Sgt. F S White
Crew with two ground crew photo taken in front of "Sierra Sue" most likely on arrival back in Canada June 13th 1945
For F/L Short and his crew there would be one more delay before flying squadron operations. Short would have to
complete a stint as 2nd. Pilot. In the mean time the crew had to acquaint themselves with the Lancaster X.
At No.1659 CU, Short and his crew flew on Halifax bombers and so now had to complete checkouts on the Lancaster X.
Short and crew would work with other squadron crews both experienced and new comers in squadron cross country flights
both solo and in gaggles, in addition to bombing practise again both solo and in groups. Exercises in working with
fighter escorts and the other exercises were carried out right up to the 19th of April.
But even with his 2nd. Pilot op. completed on April 16th, he would have to wait April 22nd
for his initial squadron operation with his own crew. This would be a daylight raid on Bremen to support the British Armies
XXX Corp take the port. Escorted by USAAF P-51 Mustangs and meeting only light flak over the target they completed
On the 25th of April, which would be the squadron's final operation, although at the time no one knew this.
There was a general feeling that the end was in sight and the flow of new crews still never let up,
since March of 1945 fourteen new eager crews has arrived at 419 and everyone wanted to be part of at least one operation.
The morning Battle Order for April 25th showed Short and his crew flying VR-R, "Ropey"
to Wangerooge this time to destroy the gun batteries that blocked the use of the port of Bremen.
Although the Battle Order for the 28th of April would show F/L Short was on for the next operation, by take off time the
operation had been cancelled.
The rest of the month and
May would find F/L Short and his crew taking part in the training and cross country
flights that would prepare them for the upcoming Transatlantic crossings to take the Lancasters home to Canada.
The Lancasters Come Home
On June 13th of '45 Short and his crew arrived back home on VR-S "Sierra Sue", took the customary crew photo and waited
for training for Tiger Force. By September of 1945 with the war over 419 squadron was disbanded. And so during his long service
from his enlistment on June 22nd 1940 to September 28th 1945, F/L James Short had trained hundreds of pilots and
had served overseas was now able to return to civilian life.
But before the 419 squadron and so many others were disbanded, many Lancasters from
the squadrons who flew in Europe were send to air shows and events across the country, so F/L Short flew VR-X the well
know "Xterminator" to at least one show in Victoria.
Wording in Article reads:
Still carrying traces of more then 100 flak holes, honourable scars of the more than 84 operational trips over Europe, the giant four engine bomber "X" for Xterminator shown above with her crew, will be featured in a display of aircraft and equipment on Saturday and Sunday at the RCAF station Patricia Bay.
The seven man crew will be on hand to tell well wishers of their war experiences.
From left to right they are Flight Sergeant Raymond Edward -Windsor Ont
F/S Robert M Morrison, Saskatoon, F/O R E Sargent Lakeside PQ
F/L James Egerton Short AFC, Moose Jaw
F/O Herbert S Lewis New Brunswick, F/L Jack R .. DFC Indian Head PQ
"X for Xterminator is a Canadian -built Lancaster recently flown to Canada.
The two swastikas indicate two German aircraft itís crew have destroyed. It is estimated
the aircraft has dropped 460 tons of bombs, roughly 23 times itís own weight during itíd
career On one memorable trip over the Rhine valley it encountered ... flack holes