Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and I was sharing a story about my Grandfather, Albert Nolan (deceased 2003-01-13) with the kids. He used to talk very little about the war, but as a boy I knew he served in Burma (and I didn’t know where Burma was then, but I know now he was stationed at Tulihal near Imphal India over the border from Burma), flew airplanes, and once crashed the plane. My cousins and I would make up stories about him dog-fighting or something exciting like we’d seen in movies, but as a teen I learned the plane had run out of gas and simply didn’t make it over a hill. Prompted by an email from my Uncle, I’ve done a bit of research and here are some notes and photos I’ve found.
The “Burma Campaign” as it is known now saw 8,000 Canadians in India and Burma. My grandfather was part of “The Dakotas”.
“Nos. 435 and 436 Squadrons, two medium-range transport squadrons based in India which flew their first operational missions in December 1944 and January 1945. The squadrons were comprised of C47 Dakota transport aircraft (the military version of the Douglas DC 3). The “Dak,” as it was affectionately called, was tough, reliable, extremely stable and able to take considerable punishment from ground fire.”
The Chinthes (Chin-thay), whose motto was Certi provenhendi (Determined on delivery), ran supply missions, often kicking the supplies out of the plane as it flew over the ground forces. The chinthe is a legendary leogryph creature which guards the temples in Burma. The motto refers to the unit’s activities as a transport squadron. They continue today as the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron stationed at CFB Winnipeg.
Another interesting resource I came across was this VEMRA page which had over a hundred photos from scrapbooks of the time. In the list I discovered my grandfather was part of ‘”A” Flight 12’, it seemed there were 16 ‘flights’ in ‘A’ group and some ‘B’ group flights. I include a couple of photos from that page where they show a Dak being worked on, and the cockpit. Review their slideshow for pictures of men at work and rest, and some of their living conditions.