Letter, John "Jack" Chapple Tate to Margaret Tate, 20 July 1941
- Tate, John, Author
Tate, Margaret, Recipient
- Media Type:
- Item Type:
- Letter handwritten in black ink on paper sent by John “Jack” Chapple Tate to his sister Margaret Tate in Paris, Ontario. The postage stamps indicate it was sent from Grimbsy, Lincolnshire, England, although the letter is addressed from the Royal Canadian Air Force #1 Signals School at #1 Wing, 3 Squadron located at Cranwell, Lincolnshire, where Jack was taking a Morse code course. The letter is dated 9 November 1941. Jack served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Wireless Air Gunner with the Royal Air Force 407 "Demon" Squadron overseas in England during the Second World War.
- John “Jack” Chapple Tate was the youngest of three children of George R. and Gertrude Louise [Chapple] Tate, born in Paris, Ontario on 19 January 1911. He grew up at 79 Walnut Street, and attended Paris Central Public School, Paris District High School, and St. James Anglican Church. His sister Lucy Margaret Tate was a teacher at Paris Central School, and his brother George R. Tate was a foreman at the Gypsum, Lime & Alabaster plant in Caledonia.
Jack served as a Corporal in the 10th Brant Dragoons from 1925 to 1928 and in the Royal Canadian Dragoons for a month in 1925. He attended Brantford Business College from 1927 to 1928 taking book keeping, and worked as a grocery clerk for the following two years. He began working at Gypsum, Lime & Alabaster in 1930 and became a foreman a year later, working over the next ten years at the Paris and Caledonia branches.
In July 1940, he married Mary Kathleen Welsh of Ayr, Ontario. The couple lived at 78 Sheridan Street in Brantford. On 22 July 1940, Jack enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in Hamilton. In the “Special Qualifications, Hobbies, etc., useful to the R.C.A.F.” section of his attestation papers, he writes: “I have no fear in the air and delight in aerobatics, tail spins etc. I have several times frightened the instructor as he will testify.” World War II Service Records reveal that he had applied to enlist in the RCAF in Hamilton September 1939, but the application was lost.
He trained at Camp Borden, Regina, Montreal, Debert, and Jarvis, receiving his Wireless Air Gunner’s wings and promotion to a Sergeant on 25 April 1941. In June 1941, he served overseas in the No. 407 “Demon” Long Range Patrol Squadron under the Royal Air Force Coastal Command. Based around England, the Demons’ used the Lockheed Hudson, operating as a “strike” squadron, attacking enemy shipping from September 1941 to January 1943. Jack took part in 43 operational flights, and his immediate crew was credited with destroying four ships in six attacks. Of the 54 Canadian members of the 407 Squadron to serve overseas during the Second World War, Tate was one of seventeen to return home.
On 28 April 1942, Jack received his commission as a Pilot Officer, and returned to Canada on 16 June 1942. He was posted to Yarmouth where he trained as a radio officer, and carried out flight operations along the St Lawrence Valley. During this positing, Mary moved to Yarmouth to join Jack, and assisted the local war effort by driving a military ambulance.
While temporarily stationed at Mont-Joli, Jack along with three crewmembers performed an anti-submarine patrol off the coast of Labrador during the early hours of 14 October 1942. Around 5:30 am, their Hudson aircraft fatally crashed near Chandler, Quebec. A lumberjack working in the area heard the explosion, and the site was discovered after three days of searching. The cause of the accident was unknown, although the investigation records suggest the port motor caught fire while in flight, and the aircraft was at too low of an altitude to bail out. Thirteen days prior to his death, Jack was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer.
Tate was buried with full military honours by the Royal Canadian Air Force in his home town of Paris, Ontario. A military funeral procession was led from St. James Anglican Church, down Grand River Street, along William Street, to the St. James Anglican Church Cemetery. John Chapple Tate’s name appears on the Second World War Memorial Plaque displayed at the Paris District High School.
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- 2017EG001.033.1 Front “Page 1”:
#1 SIGNAL SCHOOL
#1 WING – 3 SQDN
Wednesday July 30 – 41
Dear Margaret & Dad,
Received your call yesterday and was glad to hear that everything is fine at home and you are all well. Wrote to you more than three weeks ago but will write again before hearing from you as it takes so long for a letter to get there and back.
Getting along fine here and enjoying life. The boys were given 10 days leave but I didn’t take it. There were 11 of us who stayed & started on the course. Am doing OK with it but for taking code I am slow at that but will
2017EG001.033.2 Front Page “3”:
[…] months and then to another school for […]. The wireless course is the longest of the three and I think it is the most worth learning. Any one can fly a plane if they have a little nerve and flying is about all some of the pilots know. Don’t ask me how they get through their exams. You will likely know Observers, unless they are exceptionally clever get through in the same way. A wireless operator just can’t get away with very much. Most of our exams are oral and we must know our instruments to operate them and make repairs. We have to be able to take code
2017EG001.033.1 Reverse Page “4”:
or we would have failed out stations & air operating where we have to defend on our selves. Of course taking code is half the job and for some of us it is very difficult to do. But we will do our very best to make it and if we don’t we will most likely get into some other job in air crew.
You very seldom read of the wireless gunner in the papers and yet he has the longest course and I think the hardest. The wireless operator receives the orders in code after the plane leaves the ground. He contacts all planes overseas, he gets
2017EG001.033.2 Reverse Page “6”:
wireless could be so important in an aircraft or that the […] was so […] about it. All the more reason we should want to get it.
Must close now and make a few rounds to lock some doors & put out some lights. I am orderly sergeant tonight, a job we all get for one day during the course here.
So will write again when I hear from you. Best of luck to you all and have you seen much of Mary lately? Have had two letters from her already.
- Date Of Event:
- 30 July 1941
- Personal Name(s):
- Tate, John "Jack" Chapple
- Local identifier:
- Language of Item:
- Geographic Coverage:
England, United Kingdom
- M. Eleanor (Tate) Gloster
- Recommended Citation:
- Letter, John "Jack" Chapple Tate to Margaret Tate, 20 July 1941, M. Eleanor Gloster. 2017EG001.033.1-2.
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