Joe was born on 2nd December 1919. He was a son of a Canadian civil servant. His mother had been born in England and emigrated to Canada as a child. His father died in 1973 as he had been badly gassed at Ypres when he was
serving with the Canadian forces in France during World War I.
Joe’s RCAF career started in July 1940 at #1 Manning Depot in Toronto, after which he was sent to the Central Flying School at Trenton which I assume was for tarmac duty.
Then on to #2 ITS at Regina, Sask.
First flying took place at #5 EFTS(Elementary Flying School) at Lethbridge, Alberta.
First flight was with W Roy in a Tiger Moth on Oct.9/40, duration 1hr. 10mins. Soloed Oct 29th with apprx. 11hrs.
With about 50 hrs., he left Lethbridge with a Satisfactory rating in his logbook, then posted to #3 SFTS(Service) at Calgary AB.
About 60hrs. on the Avro Anson with an assessment of being an Average pilot and an Average Plus in Navigation.
Overseas with a whole 110 hours under his belt he was posted to #19 OTU(Operational Training Unit) at Kinloss Scotland where Sgt. R.S. White during the period of May 11 until June 25th 1941 accumalted another apprx. 75 hours on the Whitley.
Assessment at the end of OTU reads Above Average Pilot with Average for Navigation, Bombing and Air Gunnery with the word NIL in the box which reads Any Points in Flying or Airmanship Which Should be Watched
Now posted to 104 Squadron at Driffield Yorkshire where after a few hours of Blind Approach Training and a couple of Locals, Joe was Second Dicky to Berlin on a Wellington.
Then after several more flights in the right seat both local and operational with his own crew and others, Joe was Skipper on Aug24/41 and Aug26th, Joe and crew, P/O Haydon as second pilot and Sgt. Gee as navigator, Sgt. Robson WAG, Sgt. Maynard as front gunner, Sgt. Clynes as rear gunner, flew to LeHavre with the notation in the log reading “Visibility good, bombs started large fires in dock area.”
Several more missions to places like Brest, Berlin, Hambourg followed and then in the middle of October 1941, 104 Squadron was posted to RAF Station at Luqa Malta. Oct. 16 Joe and crew flew to Malta with the notation of Fine Weather, one Fighter seen off the French Coast.
Not the place for a pleasant layover. Just over 50 miles from the Sicilian coast island was battered and bruised from the almost constant attention of first the Regi Aeronautica and later the Luftwaffe - and then both air forces. It was around this period that Ralph White became
‘Joe’ White. Almost by definition a “Joe” acquires undesirable jobs to perform and this happened for a while to the Canuck but the name stayed with him. Three days after arriving Joe and crew were chosen along with his C.O. S/L Young and cew to unleash a 4000 lb bomb each on Tripoli. Young who later lost his life in the famous dambuster raid had an aircraft that went U/S and was anxious to use Joe’s. Not to be, Joe dug in his heels and told them that there was no way that it was going to happen. Firstly I wanted to fly the operation and secondly I just wasn’t going to part with my aircraft for anyone, said Joe.
And he did. They their way up to 7000 plus feet and eventually dropped the 4000 pounder on Tripoli. The log book reads 3:15 for this mission.
Incidentally I am now getting this info from Logbook #2 which has a notation on the first page which reads:
Due to my original logbook being lost by enemy action in the Middle East, I have assumed a total of 350 hours including 14 operations over enemy territory from England and gives all the stations that he had flown from.
As Joe White had a stroke in December 1999 which paralyzed his right side and left him speechless, this has been prepared by Phil Pawsey, a good friend and a crew member of Joe’s.
‘A’ Flight Pennfield Ridge
Click on Photo to Enlarge