This blog pays homage to Buck McNair and 249 Squadron.
It was created when his son Bruce McNair sent me a message on one of my many blogs on World War Two.
Bruce had shared some of the informations he had about his father’s service with the RCAF.
I decided then to create a blog especially about 249 Squadron.
A few weeks ago I received this message.
It was wrongly addressed to me. I now have permission to let you in on a story about Rod Smith’s ashes and a few more stories shared by Wendy, Rod and Jerry’s sister.
This is Wendy’s first message.
Enjoyed your article about Rod and Jerry. I knew your Mother but never had the pleasure of meeting your father. Regarding taking Rod’s ashes to Malta ~ I don’t think it was something Rod ever hoped for, as far as I know, and it all happened quite serendipitysley if there is such a word!
A Vancouver Club friend of Rod had offered his boat for a ceremony and scattering of Rod’s ashes, but by the time we were ready he and his wife were away on a cruise, and I had to return home to Toronto.
Another friend, Robin Fleming, suggested we scatter both Rod’s and our brother Don’s ashes from a boat in the Fraser River near her Steveston home where they both loved to visit. A small group of close friends and relatives attended and it was quite lovely. Robin phoned me that night to say she and her husband had gone out for a walk along the Fraser and had seen a kestrel (his boat was Kestrell III), and that they thought the boys’ ashes had gone out sea!
The intended urns, designed and custom made by a potter friend of Rod, had blown up in her kiln and she brought another pair that were too small for either set of ashes, so we kept the extra ashes in small urns for another occasion.
Otherwise the Merlins Over Malta magic would never have happened. Without my knowing about this historic event, I planned a trip with an old friend who wanted to see Malta with me because she knew I had been there with Rod. After we had booked, by another serendipitous event, I learned about a day on which a new Ta’ Kali Airport hanger was to be dedicated, but didn’t think of attending it without Rod.
I planned to scatter the remnants of Rod’s and Don’s ashes from a boat near where Jerry went down in 1942. We landed at Luqa in the middle of an airshow and gradually learned that we had arrived a day or two after the beginning of the week long Merlins Over Malta celebration. A message at the hotel from Karl Karsgaard said we would receive a phone call at ten the next morning and that’s when we were advised that the pilot of the Spitfire, Fl/Lt. Charlie Brown, would be proud to take the small urn containing Rod’s ashes and scatter them in the Mediterranean from the Spitfire.
So much to tell about the week, but my brother Donald’s ashes were spread by my friend and me in Ramla Bay on Gozo, and Rod’s were scattered near Sicily on the Spitfire’s return to The Imperial War Museum in Duxford. Charlie Brown sent me a beautiful chart showing the exact location where they were sent out over the Mediterranean from an envelope under the flaps of the aeroplane.
I had saved a few of Rod’s ashes for a little pond in the RCAF garden in Stanley Park and later walked there from his apartment, past Lost Lagoon and up past the Rose Garden where I was sure no one would mind if I snipped two red roses for Jerry and Rod! They were still floating among the ashes on the surface of the pond when I left.
Would love to hear from you. Rod would be so pleased with your account of him and his friends. I knew the Charlesworths and met Arthur Bishop several times in Toronto.
Keith: I forgot to mention I had written Frederick Galea,whom I had met with Rod when he was head of the War Museum at Fort St. Elmo, to ask his help about where in the Med I should scatter the ashes. He confessed to being very much behind what unfolded.