Letter, John "Jack" Chapple Tate to Margaret Tate, 25 May 1942
- Tate, John, Author
- Tate, Margaret, Recipient
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A handwritten letter in black and navy ink on paper with the Royal Canadian Air Force crest in blue at the top of each page, with an associated white envelope. Content is only written on the front side of the paper. Sent by John “Jack” Chapple Tate to his sister Margaret Tate in Paris, Ontario. The letter was sent from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, and is dated 25 May 1942. In the letter, Jack describes the loss of his friend James Waldron “Wally” Creeden who died in a flying accident. Wally was a pilot also from Paris, Ontario, who served in the same squadron as Tate overseas.
Tate and Creeden served in the Royal Canadian Air Force 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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- 2017EG001.035a1 Letter
There is very little I can write about the loss of Wally Creeden. It was just tonight that I received your telegram asking for particulars and at least will write what should get through.
I was on leave in Cardiff when our squadron made its biggest strike yet on enemy shipping. I remember reading in the paper and also hearing over the radio of our successes and also of our losses. These were fine aircraft missing. Immediately I thought of Wally and I must admit that it was not a cheerful thought that he might have been in one of them. I tried to think that with all
his experience he would have come through it safely.
It was not until I returned to the station that I learned what had really happened. Wally was one of them. He had returned almost to the landing field when his aircraft crashed. A message had been received from his aircraft that they were shot up and that is about all I can say about it Margaret.
I do hope that what little I have said will get through the censors and you can let Mrs. Creeden know of what I have said. Two more of the boys will be writing to the Creedens and I also will write to them.
Wally had been with the squadron since it was formed
and was one of its best fliers. His loss is felt quite deeply by all of the boys who knew him and particularly by those of the old squadron who knew him so well. It is more tragic that he was only 20 yrs. old and the youngest pilot and the first to win the DFM [Distinguished Flying Medal] on our squadron.
Received a letter from you today Margaret and also 300 cigarettes a few days ago. I need not mention my appreciation. You already know of it. Please thank the Creedens for giving Wallys parcel to me but it is unlikely that I will be with the squadron when it gets here. You can tell them that it will be divided up among Wallys friends.
Believe I wrote you from Cardiff
that I was having a very good time there. Mary Pike is quite jolly. We had a good time seeing the city together. Mrs. Pike is very nice too and could not do too much for me. It was the best leave I have had over here. Did I thank you for the pictures you sent Margaret. If not I thank you now. I was very glad to get them old girl.
Give my best wishes to Dad and I must close now.
Have no fears about your operation Margaret. You will certainly leave the hospital much happier than you will go in. Please bear that in mind for your first few days there and the very best of luck to you.
2017EG001.035b Envelope Front
Handwritten in black ink:
MISS MARGARET TATE
Black circular stamp:
KING’S LYNN NORFOLK
Rectangular royal blue and white 2 ½ pence stamp with a portrait of King George VI in the centre with the Tudor Crown above his head, and flowers in each corner. Along the left and right edges it reads “POSTAGE / REVENUE”.
Three sets of seven black wavy lines on the top right corner over the stamp.
- Date of Original
- 25 May 1942
- Local identifier
- Language of Item
- Geographic Coverage
England, United Kingdom
Latitude: 52.75178 Longitude: 0.4057
Latitude: 43.2 Longitude: -80.38333
- M. Eleanor (Tate) Gloster
- Recommended Citation
- Letter, John "Jack" Chapple Tate to Margaret Tate, 25 May 1942, M. Eleanor Gloster. 2017EG001.035a-b.
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