The Biggs' Boys

By Ken Stofer

Copyright 2001 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved

Biography of "Bert" A. Moorehouse

Corporal, Fitter, RAF

   I was a sawmill worker, with Bloedel, Stewart and Welch, in Port Alberni, British Columbia at the time I tried to join the R.C.A.F. around 1940. Because of my age (29) they would not look at me for aircrew.

   I heard about Biggs so went to see him at his home on Quadra Street, in Victoria, B.C. I remember he had a very talkative parrot. Most of my business with him was done by letter and phone so I don't remember meeting any other lads except Jim Maloney (my buddy, as I lived at his parents house). Jim decided to come with me to the R.A.F.

   I was one of a group of five who were sent over by Biggs. Except for my pal Jim, none of us had met before. I believe we were the last group to go through the Capt. Our party was Roy Cook, Richard Slee, Jim Maloney, G.T. "Tommy" Westinghouse and myself. We left in May of 1941, travelling by train to Montreal. On our arrival there we found to our annoyance that our ship space had been taken over by the Canadian Army. The five of us were stuck in Montreal. We "were in the news" and had our pictures taken in Montreal at Windsor station.

   "Tommy" Westinghouse the 3rd, contacted his father who agreed to pay our passage by air from Bermuda, via Lisbon. We five went to Bermuda on the Lady Rodney. We stayed our first night in Military Barracks, with the remnants of a British Regt. the Black Watch who were on R&R after Dunkirk. We then moved to the Belmont Manor Hotel, complete with pool and 18-hole golf course.

   Our passports had been sent to New York to get visas for Portugal. We had arranged to go on the Clipper that brought our passports from New York.

   We were in Bermuda for 12 days, leaving on May 31 for Lisbon. It was quite a thrill flying the Atlantic, even to having a bunk to sleep in at night.

   We stopped for fuel in the Azores and arrived in Lisbon after 19 flying hours. We were in Lisbon 4 or 5 days and then flew via Oporto to Bristol, June 6th.

   "Tommy" Westinghouse had scrounged passage earlier to England on a P.B.Y. as Flight Engineer. Nice to have money! I was put in charge of the gang and given money to look after in case anyone ran short. We stayed in a small hotel in Beaford Place, which is not far from the Air Ministry Bldg.

   After reporting to the R.A.F. we were processed in a hurry and able to get cracking quite soon. Cook spent some time with relatives in Buckinghamshire. Slee also had relatives to visit, so Jim and I were on our own.

   I failed the aircrew test (colour vision), so enlisted as a Fitter IIE.

   I did my square-bashing in Great Yarmouth and my engine course at Innsworth Lane in Gloucestershire. I finished Christmas, 1941 at Hednesford.

   I was at 16 different stations, even came back to Vancouver Island and was with 32 O.T.U., stationed at Patricia Bay, north of Victoria. Later I left as a draft of one, to go back to England for a Flight Engineers course - which I never got. Later I was with a squadron of Tempest aircraft at Manston when we were chasing Doodle Bugs (the rocket bombs Hitler sent over). Damn near got blown up by one in Norfolk when we were after the ones Jerry dropped from aircraft over the North Sea.

   I remember Roy Cook, (`Cookie' as we called him), very well. I spent some time at his aunt's place in Buckinghamshire. He had a sister who joined the W.A.A.F. He was killed in a bomber. Richard Slee was killed crash-landing a Spitfire. Westinghouse died in Seattle about 1981 at age 72.

   I wish I had kept my letters. Photos of our group were taken from us in Bermuda. They were supposed to be sent to Canada but never were.

   I didn't transfer to the RCAF. I was demobbed at Wembley stadium - rank Cpl.

   I came home and went back into sawmill management.

----- Bert Moorehouse

Copyright 2001 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved


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