“You might call it bragging, but I got the job done and it wasn’t easy.”
Long-time Shedden resident Lorne Spicer might have been recounting his work with minor hockey, the community’s Rosy Rhubarb Festival or his tireless efforts with the St. Thomas Field Naturalists and the Southwold War Memorial Committee.
Spicer certainly went above and beyond the call of duty with all of those undertakings.
And those achievements would be in keeping with his favourite piece of advice.
“When you make up your mind to do something, just do it.”
And three days before becoming an officer in the RCAF, he wrote in his log book he wanted to become an above average navigator.
His assessment after the fact?
Spicer is one of 27 Parkwood Institute veterans profiled in I Remember, a compilation of their memoirs released last month by Parkwood staffer Ann Pigott.
At a book-signing party Wednesday (Dec. 6), 91-year-old Spicer recounted altering his birth certificate in March, 1943 – he was not yet 16 at the time – in order to sign up with the RCAF.
He was a member of 426 Squadron and eventually stationed at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire, England.
He trained as a navigator and flew seven missions over Germany aboard a Halifax bomber.
He smiles when he boasts, “I was the only one on the plane who could tell the pilot where to go.”
In an interview for the book, Spicer told Pigott, “Being part of the crew taught me the importance of working as a team.
“In my family, we were lucky; four of us were overseas at the same time and we all made it home safely.”
As for the decision made by him and his brothers to join the war effort? Well, you have to go back to that piece of advice about just doing it.
“Germany had to be stopped and that’s why the four of us joined the service. We knew that if Hitler wasn’t stopped, there wasn’t going to be a world fit to live in.”
Back in September of this year, the RCAF sent a plane to London to pick up Spicer for a 426 squadron reunion at CFB Trenton. He is one of the last living members of those Second World War bombing runs and he was honoured with a commemorative medal.
There’s much more to Spicer’s wartime recollections, and those of the 26 other vets – including Ruth Brooks of St. Thomas – documented in Pigott’s book. By the way, the cover of the book is one of Spicer’s navigation charts. He told his mother after the war to destroy it. Thank goodness she ignored her son’s wish.
Proceeds from the sale of I Remember, available at Parkwood, will assist the Veterans Arts program at the institute.
Thank you to Jenny and Dave Phillips of Dutton for alerting us to the book signing.
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