Stoughton (cpd) — Canadian airmen who flew with Bomber Command during the Second World War are getting recognition 67 years after their service.
National Defence Minister Peter McKay announced on June 25 a Bomber Command Bar will be awarded to Second World War veterans who served in the Bomber Command. In doing so the federal government has recognized with distinction these special airmen of the war.
At age 93, Wilf Coderre of Stoughton is one of the few living recipients to receive this Bomber Command Clasp. The special silver bar clasp is to be worn on the Canadian Service Medal, and depicts a four-engine Second World War bomber in the centre, superimposed on a pebbled background.
There were 50,000 young Canadians who volunteered for Bomber Command and who were later sent on missions over Germany to combat the formidable German air defences. Approximately 10,000 made the ultimate sacrifice and died.
Wilf was 20 when he joined the RCAF. In January 1944 he was on his 13th bombing mission with five other crew members.
There were 1,000 planes in the air that night, 48 planes were shot down and his plane was one of them. He was able to free himself from behind the turret of the tail gun he was operating and parachuted out at 17,000 feet. He spent the next 17 months as a prisoner of war and was released only when the war ended.
Coderre is also the recipient of a prestigious red-eyed caterpillar lapel pin, military memorabilia issued by the Irvin Parachute Co. Inc., recognizing that he successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft.
The chute made by Irvin was the one he wore the night his plane was shot down. The caterpillar represents the silk used to make the chute and the red eyes indicates his plane was on fire.
This Bomber Command Clasp will be added to Coderre’s collection of five other medals.
After the war, Wilfred successfully founded W.H. Coderre and Sons Construction. Today the business is owned and operated by his three sons, Del, Kim and Randy.