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Robert Harold ‘Bob’ Hewgill

Born: 25th November 1924. Died: 21st October, 2021. Age 96

The following note is a clipping from the Richmond Hills Senior’s club newsletter.

World War II Veteran, Tail gunner of the Lancaster Bomber

(Served with 170 Squadron)

“I volunteered my services on September 21 1943, I was 19 at the time and honourably discharged 25th day of 1946 at the age of 22.

A good part of my training took place in Canada. It wasn’t too long before we were on our way to England. In England we spent another 3 months and joined up with members who would be our crew for the duration of a tour which consisted of 30 missions.

It wasn't too long before the big day arrived when we did our first bombing mission over Europe. Does anyone know what a Lancaster Bomber looks like?

Above: Battle of Britain Memorial flight Avro Lancaster (Photograph attribution: Cpl Phil Major ABIPP/MOD)

Here is one here - it has 2 egg shaped tails to identify it. As I was a tail gunner I sat at the rear of the plane in between 2-50 mm guns - the turret itself was wide open - temperature was -35 -40 degrees below zero. In order for me to keep warm I had an electrically heated flying suit (much like an electric blanket) - heated gloves and slippers. On these trips we were given a cheese sandwich on bread. Can you imagine what it was like to try and eat a frozen cheese sandwich? From time to time I would get thirsty. Condensation from my mask would freeze into icicles. I would break one off, slip it under the mask and suck it much like you would a sucker. Most of my raids were done at night time and there were a few day-light ones as well.

One of them has always stuck in my mind. It was daylight and close by a rear gunner was waving at me. I gave him a thumbs up - within seconds a ball of black smoke was seen. German guns made a direct hit on his plane and he was gone.

Soon the war ended and at this time we were given the job of dropping food to people living in the Netherlands. We did this - dropping it at a race course - flying about 1,200 feet above the roof tops. The Dutch people came out on their balconies waving their table cloths and blankets at us - yes and there were a few knickers being waved”.

“Bob" died peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Richmond Hill, Ont. A veteran of WWII.

He leaves behind his beloved wife Shirley (nee: MacLeod) of more than 67 years.

Loving father of Mark (Colleen) of Belleville, and Paul (Maria) of Beeton.

He will be greatly missed by his 4 grandchildren Charlotte, Ashley, Braedon and Kelsey

Predeceased by his brother Doug Hewgill of Collingwood

Bob enjoyed his residence in Port Carling Muskoka with all his family and friends and belonged to many clubs including Richmond Hill Seniors’ Club (Club 35), The K40 and Horticultural Societies.

With thanks to Braedon Hewgill for this tribute to his grandfather (Jan 2023)

RS 18.01.2023 – Initial upload

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• Last Modified: 18 January 2023, 07:09 •