Qui se souvient de Bernard Vilandré?



Collection Bruce McNair


3 réflexions sur “Qui se souvient de Bernard Vilandré?

  1. Birth: May 15, 1919
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Death: Jan. 15, 1971
    Greater London, England

    Group Captain Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNAIR, DFC (3), DSO, Croix De Guerre (1939-1945) avec Palme (France), Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (France), Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct

    A brave Canadian World War II Spitfire Flying ‘Ace’ who became a superb RCAF leader.

    Son of Kenneth Frank McNAIR and Hilda May (GRIMM) McNAIR. Born in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, his early years were spent in the Annapolis Valley; then his family moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan seeking better opportunities.

    Before enlisting he was a ground wireless operator, working for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Natural Resources.

    In June 1940 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (service number J4745), and after pilot flight training in Toronto (No.1 ITS), in Windsor (No.7 EFTS) and in Kingston (No.31 SFTS), he received his wings on 24 March 1941. Posted to RCAF Squadron 411 in RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, he received further Spitfire training before seeing his first action over France.

    In Feb 1942 he was posted to RAF Mediterranean Command at Malta and RAF 249 Squadron. It was while serving here that P/O McNAIR won his first medal-the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded on 21 May 1942 (Citation: « This officer is a skilful and courageous pilot. He invariably presses home his attacks with the greatest determination irrespective of odds. He has destroyed at least five and damaged seven enemy aircraft. Four of these he damaged in one combat. »). The award was followed by a promotion to Flying Officer and a further promotion to Flight Lieutenant.

    In July 1942 he was transferred back to England and RCAF 411 Squadron. He saw further action before being repatriated to Canada in October.

    In January 1943 he was posted back to England. On 17 May Squadron Leader McNAIR was given command of RCAF 416 Squadron and, on 19 June, he was given yet another posting: this time he was made CO of RCAF 421 Squadron. It was during his tenure with this Canadian Squadron that he earned two bars to add to his Distinguished Flying Cross medal–
    30 July 1943- Citation:
    « This officer is a skilful and determined fighter whose record achievement and personal example are worthy of high praise. Squadron Leader McNair has destroyed ten hostile aircraft, five of them whilst serving in the Middle East, and damaged a number of others. »
    26 Oct 1943-Citation:
    « Squadron Leader McNair is a tenacious and confident fighter whose outstanding ability has proved an inspiration to the squadron he commands. He has completed a large number of sorties and has destroyed fifteen and damaged many other enemy aircraft. His keenness has been outstanding. »

    He was next promoted to Wing Commander Flying of 126 Airfield at Kenley, Staplehurst, Kent and Redhill, Surrey, consisting of 401, 421 and 411 Squadrons; he commanded this Wing until April 1944.
    On 14 April 1944, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO)- Citation:
    « Since being awarded a second Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Wing Commander McNair has completed many further operational sorties and destroyed another enemy aircraft, bringing his total victories to at least sixteen enemy aircraft destroyed and many others damaged. As officer commanding his wing he has been responsible for supervising intensive training in tactics. The results achieved have been most satisfactory. The wing, under his leadership, destroyed at least thirteen enemy aircraft. Throughout, Wing Commander McNair has set a magnificent example by his fine fighting spirit, courage and devotion to duty both in the air and on the ground. He has inspired his pilots and confidence and enthusiasm. »

    After the war, McNair remained in the RCAF.
    In 1953, a North Star aircraft on which he was traveling as Senior Officer crashed at Sea Island, British Columbia, Canada. Though he was injured himself, he rescued and made comfortable the other passengers and crew members. His brave actions earned him the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct-« Wing Commander McNair was flying as a crew member in one of the crew rest positions of North Star 17503 when it crashed at Vancouver, British Columbia on 30 December 1953. The aircraft ended its crash landing run in an inverted position and as a result, all crew and passengers found themselves suspended in mid-aid in an upside down position. Self-preservation was uppermost in the minds of practically everyone because of the imminent danger of fire or explosion but Wing Commander McNair, cognizant of the large number of passengers being carried and the state of turmoil that must be existing, threw caution to the winds, remained in the aircraft and fought his way to the passenger compartment. Here, he set to work, restored calm and through prodigious effort assisted all passengers in evacuating the aircraft as quickly as possible. Still not content, Wing Commander McNair remained in the aircraft and personally searched through the debris on the off chance that someone might have been overlooked. Only then did he abandon the aircraft. It is to be remembered that this officer was soaked in gasoline at the time of this incident from an overturned Herman Nelson heater, a condition which would immediately bring to mind the fact that he had been badly burned by fire in his aircraft during the war and therefore should have been acutely aware of his precarious position under the present set of circumstances. The fact that the aircraft did not explode or did not take fire should not be allowed to detract in any way from the magnitude of Wing Commander McNair’s deeds, for it was only by an act of God that neither calamity occurred. »

    In 1955 he was promoted to Group Captain. He was made commander of 1 Air Defence Command at RCAF Stn. Lac St. Dennis from 1955 to 1957. Then he was made CO of 4 (F) Wing of the No. 1 Air Division Europe in Baden-Soellingen, Germany.

    In the late 1960’s, while still an officer in the RCAF G/C McNAIR contracted leukemia. At the time of his death he held a position with the Canadian High Commission in London, England; he was Senior Air Liasion Officer at CDLS. He battled his disease until 15 January, 1971, when he died in a London hospital leaving his wife, Barbara (Still) McNair and sons, Robert Bruce and Keith McNair. Following a memorial service in the RAF church of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand, he was buried with full military honours in Brookwood Military Cemetery. And, at the end of the burial service, a lone aircraft flew overhead, waggling its wings, in honour of this gallant Canadian.

    At Edmonton, Alberta, Canada’s Convention Centre, G/C Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNAIR was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame on 8 June 1990. The citation reads:-« His leadership, courage, dedication and his indomitable will to survive were manifestations of his contributions to Canadian aviation. »

    In 2001 Norman L. R. Franks authored a book about G/C McNAIR:- « BUCK McNAIR SPITFIRE ACE (The eventful life of Canadian Gp Capt R W McNair DSO, DFC and 2 BARS, Ld’H, CdG, RCAF »)


    A Brave And Gallant Man
    Admired By All
    Loved By Many
    And Now At Peace

    Brookwood Military Cemetery
    Woking Borough
    Surrey, England

    Maintained by: SJ Hearn
    Originally Created by: wertypop
    Record added: Jun 16, 2009
    Find A Grave Memorial# 38408960

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