‘Stocky’ Edwards, Canadian flying ace in World War II, dies at 100

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James “Stocky” Edwards, a Canadian fighter pilot and ace during World War II who was known as his country’s “top gun” in the North African desert in 1942 and 1943, died on May 14 in British Columbia Comics. He was 100 years old.

Announcing the death on Facebook, Comcast Mayor Ross Arnott, citing the pilot’s family, gave no reason, although Mr Edwards had been suffering from heart problems in recent years.

With the rank of Wing Commander, Mr. Edwards shot down a guaranteed 19 Luftwaffe fighter planes and scored many more “potentials” that the aircraft he kept out of action but did not see hit the ground. He destroyed at least 12 more enemy warplanes at their desert base before taking to the skies.

Hitler’s Africa Corps, led by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, was locked in a battle with allies in North Africa until pilots like Mr. Edwards, a member of Britain’s Royal Canadian Air Force (RAF) Royal Canadian Air Force, were deployed in the sky. Dogfights with Luftwaffe and presses and bombs the Germans to hasten their defeat.

In those exchanges over North Africa, Mr. Edwards flew U.S.-built P-40 Kittyhawk fighters, much heavier and slower than the German Messerschmitt Bf 109, which made his achievements even more remarkable. After the wars over Italy and France, including D-Day, he would move on to more clever British Spitfire fighters.

Physically, Mr. Edwards was nothing more than a “stockie.” He was skinny as a teenager, and the Toronto Globe and Mail once quoted some of his fellow travelers as saying that he was “like a very wary bantam weight.” Known as Eddie during the war, he later earned the nickname “Stocky” in honor of his perseverance.

In all, he conducted 373 combat missions during World War II, mostly on North Africa but D-Day in Italy and Normandy in 1943 and 1944 – to provide air support for Allied landings on June 6, 1944 – among a rare “triple” Allied pilot. .

Mr. Edwards was a 20-year-old flight-lieutenant when he departed from a desert airfield in North Africa on March 23, 1942 for his first combat mission as part of an RAF squadron. While escorting Allied light bombers, he and other flyers flew a German ground base, and while engaged in an aerial dogfight with Luftwaffe, he shot a Messrschmidt BF109, his first “murder.”

The Toronto Globe and Mail quoted his son, Jim Edwards, as saying that his father was a humble and humble man who was “too lazy to record his victory.” 22.

For example, on June 17, 1942, over Tobruk, Libya, Mr. Edwards shot down a German BF109 in his Kittyhawk but did not see it hitting the ground, only recording it as a “possible” instead of killing. . Many years later, German records show that the crashed pilot was Auto Schulz, one of Luftwaffe’s best fighter pilots, who died in an accident.

Mr Edwards’ wingman that day was Australian pilot Ron Candy, who witnessed the dogfight. “When I looked closer to the 109, Eddie applied a lot of right radar and got out of the way,” Candy told the Globe and Mail a few years later. , Eddie turns left, fires and shoots him. It was one of the greatest battles I’ve ever seen. “

Jim Edwards told the Toronto Paper that his father had 20/20 vision and was a crack markman in his youth when he shot ducks and other wild birds at Saskatchewan prairies. When shooting at wild birds, Mr. Edwards’ father taught him to “lead” rather than shoot at his target, according to Jim Edwards, who added that his father used the same tactics as a fighter pilot.

Although Mr Edwards did most of his “murder” against North Africa, he went on to work over Italy and France. In February 1944, in support of an Allied beach landing in Angio, Italy, he shot down at least three German fighter planes.

In June of that year, the Allies flew a legendary British spitfire to escort bombers as they approached the coast of Normandy on D-Day. Allied spies deceived the Nazi forces into thinking that the landing would take place elsewhere.

In addition to the prestigious Flying Cross awarded by the United Kingdom during the war, Mr. Edwards was named one of the country’s highest awards in 2004, the Order of Canada. He was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013, and President Franোয়াois Hollande was appointed to the French Legion of Honor the following year for his services to France during the war.

James Francis Edwards was born on June 5, 1921, in Nocomis, Saskatchewan, one of six children. Her parents lost their home in despair and moved to the small Saskatchewan town of Battleford in an area called Canadian Prairies, where her father looked for work.

At St. Thomas College in North Battleford, Mr. Edwards’ first love was ice hockey, and he was once scouted by the Chicago Black Hawks. “But I was younger,” he told Comics Valley Records on his 100th birthday. After graduating from high school, he volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force, although he had never flown before.

In 1946, he married Norma Hatcher, a nurse, and they had two children, Dorothy and Jean. Norma soon contracted polio and died. In 1951, he married Alice “Tony” Antonio, who was also a nurse and had two children, Angel and Jim. Mr. Edwards’ daughter Jean preceded him. Survivors include his wife and three children, as well as several grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Back in Canada after the war, Mr. Edwards remained in the Royal Canadian Air Force, flying a Saber Jet Fighter as a Flying Instructor, Search and Rescue Pilot, and Commander of the First Canadian Squadron. Before retiring to Vancouver Island in 1972, he had other responsibilities, where his passion was wetland conservation.

Along with author Michelle Lavin, Mr. Edwards wrote the non-fiction memoirs “Kitty Hawk Pilot” in 1983 and “Kitty Hawks Over the Sands: The Canadians and the RCAF Americans” in 2002.

“I’m proud of my quiet little way,” he told Comcast Valley Records when he turned 100. “I’ve done 373 combat missions. You pick … you know nothing else. The day the war ended, I thought, ‘What do I do now?’ “

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