The Windsor Star journalist, Rick Dawes, tells the story of RAF pilot, Jerry Billing, known for being head strong and somewhat of a daredevil: “… It was 70 years ago in June of last year that Billing joined the D-Day invasion from above. He’d survived five months of intense air battles in the skies above Malta over the winter of 1942-43, including being shot down twice over the Mediterranean Sea.
After Malta, he was sent home to recover and train other pilots, but some crazy aerial stunts over Windsor convinced his superiors he was better suited for the battle on the front lines. Billing was shot down a third time over enemy territory. He was still only 23.
In many ways, Billing, who survived more than 250 Second World War sorties, was honoured more outside Canada than here, perhaps caused in part by a cantankerous streak and pride of flying achievements that have left him a little contemptuous of authority. He was knighted by France, made an honorary French citizen, and was nominated for the Order of Canada in 1995…”
On the other hand, The Guardian, tells the story of the two members of the Tuskegee airmen, Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey, who enlisted together in 1942: “… They were shipped to Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the army air force’s 332nd Fighter Group. As mechanics, they kept the combat planes flying.
Huntley serviced P-39, P-47 and P-51 aircraft, and as crew chief was responsible for the plane of the squadron commander, Captain Andrew D Turner, said Huntley’s nephew, Craig Huntly of Inglewood. “The life of his pilot was in his hands, and he took that very seriously,” his nephew said. His concern led Turner to nickname him “Mother”, Huntley said…”