Lest we forget: Honouring the fallen and remembering our Veterans

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We tend to take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. Today, on November 11th, we remember. Thank you to those that have served our country.

I’ve always had an interest in aviation, but it was this amazing man -my grandfather- who introduced me to it. He served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and was held as a POW in Stalag Luft VII from September 1944 until January 1945. In honour of Remembrance Day, here is his story:

“My name is John Callingham. I served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II, and began an aircrew pre-enlistment course in Hamilton in December of [19]41. Presented with my Bomb Aimer’s Wing in [19]43, and then went to Halifax and New York, and on the [RMS] Queen Mary to Greenock, Scotland, and to Bournemouth in England in October of [19]43. Went to Operational Training Unit in Lossiemouth, Scotland, February the 29th of [19]44, and to Heavy Conversion Unit in Riccall, Yorkshire following that, and was posted to 578 Squadron at Bourne in Yorkshire, flying Halifax IIIs. On our sixth operation over an oil refinery in Gelsenkirken, Germany, we were shot down on September the 11th of 1944. We were picked up by the German military, and were taken by train from Hessen to Frankfurt on Rhine. And eventually to Stalag Luft VII, which is near Kreuzburg [Kluczbork] in Silesia, in the corner of Germany between the border of Poland and Czechoslovakia. We got there in late September [19]44. We were told on… it was about 2 o’clock in the morning on January the 19th of [19]45… that we were to move out because the Russian forces, and they didn’t want us to be taken over by them and subject to their… whatever. So actually in about three to four weeks we ended up at Luckenwald, which was about fifty miles south of Berlin. We spent almost three weeks on the road, and the rest of the way on cattle cars packed in. We were eventually released by American troops after D-Day [the Normandy invasion of June, 1944] – probably about May the 8th of [19]45. They took us to Halle, which was just across the river from Leipzig, and we had our first meal in quite some time. Some of the fellows overate, and they paid for it. Then we flew to an airport near Brussels, and than Lancasters to England and on to Bournemouth. Returned to Halifax via the Isle de France in [19]45, and then on to Windsor where my parents resided. I was transferred to the RCAF Reserve in October 31st of [19]45″ – The Memory Project – Le Projet Mémoire 

There are so many stories out there like this. I encourage you to please share yours.

Disclaimer: My posts are my personal views and and do not represent the views of my company.



  1. Gabe
    November 14, 2016 / 4:42 am

    Thank you to your grandfather for his service. You have a lot to be proud of, and we are all the better because of it.

  2. Malcolm Ridley
    April 9, 2020 / 5:33 pm

    HI there!

    Thank you so much for this page; I came across it whilst doing some research…

    My father’s cousin was a member of your grandfather’s wartime crew; unfortunately he did not survive the events that your grandfather describes so vividly above. He was killed when the aircraft was first hit by anti-aircraft fire. I am in regular contact with another member of the crew, Ron Indge, who is still alive and well and who visited your grandfather in Canada a few years ago. I also met the navigator of the crew, but sadly he is now no longer with us.

    I wish I could have met your grandfather too!

    I have huge respect for all of the crew; they went through a hellish time for all our sakes.

    Feel free to get in touch!

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