John Dick was born in Stirling, Scotland in 1920 and in 1939, enlisted with the RAF as a Wireless Operator.
John was a young man of 18 when the Second World War broke out in September 1939. He had recently started work at a bank in Stirling following a strong academic and sporting career at Stirling High School. He knew that at his age, he faced being conscripted as an infantryman, so he and a friend (Jimmy Duncan-later the best man at his wedding), chose to volunteer and enlist in the RAF.
John wanted to be a pilot, but at the time the RAF noted that what they really needed were wireless-radio operators. He trained in England and some months later was sent to Skapa Flow, the main Royal Navy base in the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland. There he experienced some German bombing raids, although no near-misses.
Second World War
Sometime in 1941 John was sent to Liverpool docks knowing that he would be shipped somewhere very soon. After a few days of waiting, the troops were given hot weather gear on the expectation of sailing to a "location unknown" in SE Asia. However the next day the troops handed back their gear and were given cold-weather supplies and were shipped to Canada. Britain's bases in SE Asia were falling to the Japanese.
John's first posting in Canada was Calgary, where in October 1941 he celebrated his 21st birthday at the Palliser Hotel! Over the next several years John moved to various air bases in western Canada, but eventually spent about 18 months based in Moose Jaw. As a part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), John helped to train numerous air and ground crews.
He also managed to obtain some considerable flight time as a wireless operator and navigator on Hudsons, Harvards and other planes. He had one or two air accidents but escaped with only a broken nose. He also worked on advanced radar tracking trials, as the allies worked to improve technologies.
During John's time in Moose Jaw he met Laura Watch. In July 1947 Laura traveled by train to Halifax and then by boat to Southampton, England. In September 1947 they were married in Stirling. The war brought together many couples and I can only imagine the strong love and bond that must have led to Laura, a sweet, shy, attractive Prairie girl to travel so far to be with the man she loved.
John and Laura moved to England with the TSB Bank (now Lloyd's TSB) in 1950 and settled in Lichfield, Staffordshire where their three children were born (Malcolm, Robert and Catherine). John and Laura did visit Canada fairly often from 1968 onwards until their deaths in 1988 (John) and 1995 (Laura.)
During one of John and Laura's trips to Canada in the summer of 1988 John told me that he joined the RAF to be a pilot, and every month throughout the war he requested to train as a pilot and every month he received the same answer…”You are now too valuable in your current role.” I am sure this story is typical of wartime service to your country.
This panel is a tribute to my father and to his service in the RAF and the BCATP in Canada. It is also a tribute to Canada which has done so much for my family. Robert Dick, Calgary, Nov 2007