The Biggs' Boys

By Ken Stofer

Copyright 2001 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved

FOREWORD

    There are many untold stories of the great contributions made by individual Canadian men and women to the allied war effort during World War II. As with any war, there are those whose contribution bordered on the boring while others faced death on more than one occasion. And so it is with this book, a series of individual anecdotes collected by the author from a few of the survivors of the group who were assisted by Captain Henry Seymour-Biggs, a retired Royal Navy Officer, to join the British Forces, primarily the Royal Air Force, in the late 1930s.

   Captain Biggs was a remarkable man, worthy of a book in his own right, who had the necessary connections with the United Kingdom to guarantee acceptance into the British Forces to those seeking his help from his office in far away Victoria, B.C. Both men and women sought him out, for what ever reason, to get into the Armed Forces of the U.K. at a time when the Canadian Forces were still trapped in a financial squeeze caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s and unable to accept volunteers with minor exceptions. Undoubtedly the depression had a direct affect on these young people who wanted more out of life and felt that, by joining up, they would achieve this end. Certainly many of them did so as the challenges, excitement and risk of death on active service was more than they had bargained for. Many made the supreme sacrifice. Their stories are lost forever.

    Several of Biggs' boys served in France with the RAF during the 'phoney war' prior to the fall of the Low countries and France. Their stories are particularly important as little is known of these Canadians and their experiences prior to the arrival in the United Kingdom of a flood of young Canadian volunteers in later months and years. Their stories fill a gap in Canadian military history, particularly when so many of them were not aircrew or officers. Their work as groundcrew was essential to the war effort as any wartime pilot will quickly admit. Others suffered the hardships of surviving in a hostile environment in the desert or jungles while fighting a fierce and skilful enemy.

     Again it is right that their stories, so likely to be lost in the glow of aircrew 'heroes' biographies, should be recorded for history so that future readers will appreciate the wartime efforts of the 'not so high and mighty'. If the truth were really told, they were the ones who won the war.

   Many Biggs' boys have gone and so their stories go with them. It is sad that they were not recorded earlier as the ones here make fascinating reading and there must have been many more. The author has retrieved much that can now be added to the history of Canadians in war - a heritage that all Canadians can be proud of.

February, 1995

Lieutenant General R.J. Lane DSO DFC CD

Prologue

Dedication

Forward

The Scene

Captain Henry Seymour-Biggs

Robert Frank Hawes, MD

Dale Stephens, DFC

More to Come

Copyright 2001 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved

LINKS

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