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From Hockey back to War

Heroes Remember

From Hockey back to War

Archie Wilder, and he was, he was a pro hockey player from Saskatoon and he said to me one day, he said, "You play hockey, don't you?" As if I should, you see so, I said, "Oh, yeah," He says, "Come one down and practice with us.: So I was a little bit in shape then, you see. So I went down to practice with them. They played in what they called a "Corral" and they were the Stampeders. It's the same name, the Calgary Stampeders. And we had lots of fun. There was a big fellow on defence called Slobosian (sp), a huge man. And I was small, see. So he said, "Don't you worry about it Eddie. They won't hurt you. I'll kill them. And he did! So, I had some fun there until they caught up with us again and got posted back to Winnipeg. Because then I'm flying on this twin engines and it didn't mean anything. But Northcott had a call from, got a signal from overseas, from the commander there asking, telling him to come back to be a wing commander. They needed some senior Canadians on the wings that we had. They were tour expired and getting killed, shot down, the flak and stuff. And I'll never forget Northcott, he'd run around that he's a squadron leader. He's running around this command and goes into the Guthrie who is AOC and gives him the fingers and say, There you are, sir, I'm going back overseas." and all this. And the AOC, instead of court-marshalling him, he smiles and said, "Jeff, the best of luck to you. See that you come back," he says. You know! Real good. And he's saying, I'll get get Edwards back in two weeks!" and away he goes. And I'm left with this. Two weeks time, in comes a message: Report back to 127 Wing as wing leader. And Northcott's gone to 126, see. So back we go. And we get over there, and they're flying Spitfires. They're flying out of Holland, the Holland area. And I stayed with them until the end of the war.

Mr. Edwards had been good enough to try out for the Black Hawks hockey team before the war, therefore, after he returned home, he went back to his old hobby. Shortly thereafter, however, he was called back to Europe: Holland needed pilots.

James Francis Edwards

Mr. Edwards was born on a farm near Lockwood, Saskatchewan on June 5th 1921. His father, a First World War Veteran, kept horses until the depression forced him to move the family to Battleford where he became an insurance salesman. His mother had been a nurse during the First World War. In June 1940, Mr. Edwards enlisted in the Air Force. He was sent to the Brandon, Manitoba to do his Initial Training, then to Edmonton, Alberta for Flying School. After completing Flying School, Mr. Edwards was sent to overseas. He was assigned to 55 Operational Training Unit in Osworth, England where he flew Hurricanes. From there he was posted to Africa to take part in the Desert Campaign. Among many battles and operations, he took part in the El Alamein Battle (Egypt) and the Tunisian Campaign. In Egypt, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. After a period in Cairo running a gunnery school, he was called back to combat in Italy. There he fought in the Battle of Ortona and Anzio and he was given his own squadron, the RAF 274. He was shot down on his first flight as squadron commander. Surviving, he and his crew were sent back to England to take part in D-Day. He would also fight in Holland and Germany. In total, Mr. Edwards served two tours of duty, flying over 360 missions. He had more than 19 confirmed kills. After the war was over he returned to Canada and continued service with the air force retiring as a wing commander.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James Francis Edwards
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Wing Commander

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