How The Lancaster “Miss Kingsville” Got Her Name

How The Lancaster “Miss Kingsville” Got Her Name

by Bob Swaddling

In 1974 I was in a hobby shop in Detroit and bought a Profile Publications book on the camouflage and markings of the lesser known Lancaster Mk II with Bristol Hercules radial engines.

On looking through the pictures used in the book I was shocked to see a posed photo of a proud ground crew with their charge, an RCAF 408 Squadron Mk II Lancaster named “Miss Kingsville”, after my home town.   408 Squadron was the “Goose Squadron” and used the Canada Goose in their official squadron crest. I decided to try to find out who had named this bomber. This turned out to be not so easy as the ground crew seldom got to name an aircraft and when I asked around town, trying to find out if any of the men in the photograph happened to be from Kingsville, their names were not known. I inquired at the Kingsville legion but no one there had ever heard of a Lancaster named “Miss Kingsville” or the men in the picture. It seemed that she was forgotten.
My friend, and ex science teacher, Charlie Campbell (himself an ex Lancaster tail gunner), told me that he thought that Claire Ferguson of Leamington might have been in 408 Squadron. I went to Canada Customs Office in Leamington, where Claire worked. I showed the picture to him and asked him if he might know the ground crew or even the aircraft. To my amazement he said, “Yes, that’s my plane!” Then he told me the story behind “G” for “Goose” and how she became Miss Kingsville.”

The story that he told me then is as follows…
In October 1943, Claire Ferguson was the bomb aimer on a 408 “Goose Squadron” Lancaster coded EQ-G. The proper radio call sign was “G” for “George” but being a Canadian crew they would be a bit rebellious and call her “G” for “Goose”. Claire Ferguson at that time was from Kingsville, Ontario, the home of the Canada Goose and the famous Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary. He wrote to Jack Miner and told him of their squadron crest that featured the Canada Goose, how their Lancaster was called “G” for “Goose”, and how he had told his squadron-mates about Kingsville and the bird sanctuary.

Jack Miner must have been impressed for he got the town of Kingsville to be the official sponsor for 408 Squadron (Most other squadrons were adopted by cities such as Winnipeg, Oshawa, Windsor, etc.). People of the town would then send socks, cigarettes, packages and letters to “their” Squadron.
Jack Miner did even better. He sent them six, live, wild geese as mascots in crates that were safely delivered by RCAF overseas transport. Claire’s Lancaster, “G” for “Goose” became the squadron flagship and was called “Miss Kingsville” which was painted on the nose along with the new 408 squadron crest and the popular red Maple Leaf on the white disk carried by most RCAF aircraft at the time. Postwar, this Maple Leaf Disc became the official Roundel and was designed and first carried in May, 1943 by Bob Morrow, D.F.C. from Alberta, of 402 Squadron on his Spitfire Mk Vb.

408 carries the name “Goose Squadron” to this day and the crest is the same as it was in World War II with a side profile of one of Canada’s and Jack Miner’s own beautiful feathered fliers signifying that the squadron represents the town of Kingsville, Ontario Canada… The “Home of the Wild Goose”

As a footnote, I should also add that the six wild Canada Geese mascots did not last very long at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire. Claire said that they mysteriously disappeared, one-by-one, and every once in a while there was an enticing smell of roast goose wafting about. He said the boys sure did enjoy their mascots but not in the way that Jack Miner probably intended. They were a real treat and he insisted on being invited to enjoy them too, since he was the one that got them there in the first place.

Lancaster LL 636 “G” for “Goose flew on with the 408 Squadron till she was retired from combat when the squadron traded in their well-used and beloved Lancaster Mk II’s for newer Halifax B Mk Ill’s in September 1944. “Miss Kingsville” went to No. 1668 Heavy Conversion Unit (H.C.U.) and flew on, training new aircrew how to handle a heavy bomber. She was lost in a crash on January 7th, 1944 (sic.)   Editor’s note -Bob probably meant 1945, but needs confirmation).

Claire gave me his personal pictures of “G” for “Goose” and will always be grateful for him sharing his personal account and pictures with me.

Bob Swaddling, Kingsville ON
Submitted to the Charlie Campbell Museum for Grand Opening of the Museum Saturday 12
August 2000
This version edited by Gary R. Tetzlaff and supplemented by his own research.

Editor’s Timeline Facts – Research for the Charlie Campbell Museum.

1. Kingsville adopted the 408 Squadron in April 1944, just in time for celebrating Jack  Miner’s (last) birthday.
2. The Windsor Daily Star noted that Jack Miner intended to send along some live  geese, after having supplied a stuffed goose to serve as a mascot. 15 June 1944, p.5
“Live Goose From Kingsville Will Go to Goose Squadron
3. publish the photo of Miss Kingsville on the front page of the local weekly newspaper in  August 1944.
4. The Essex County Reporter would publish 16 Nov. 1944, p.1, “Garf Kelly Captain  Winning R.C.A.F. Baseball Team”. (Garf was a Kingsville boy in the 408 squadron in
1941, when he was called the squadron disciplinarian. Did you ever know Garfield Kelly  during the war or afterwards when he moved to Toronto?)
5. Jack Miner O.8.E., died in November of 1944, not long after having shipped the six  Geese.
6. National Wildlife Week was created to honour the conservation work of Jack Miner,  after the war ended.

Supplied courtesy of Ruth I. Maurice, whose brother, Sgt. Murray L. Wiper, was KIA in a 408 Squadron
Lancaster on 14 January 1944 Ruth is an Associate Member of 408 Squadron Association, and the mother of
Gary Tetzlaff.

3 thoughts on “How The Lancaster “Miss Kingsville” Got Her Name”

  1. Your Garf Kelly Guest Book Comments April 24, 2014 :
    8:08 and 8:56 am
    Reviewed all Cyrus Garfield Kelly Guest Book Comments at the request of the Webmaster of the Association Site and I believe this is what Mary is hoping to achieve.
    I’m the granddaughter of Cyrus Garfield Kelly who was a member of 408 Goose Squadron. I understand that he was a Flight Sergeant and may have been Squadron Disciplinarian and also known for squadron recreational activities. However I’m not sure what his role was and if anyone knows of him, or his role in the Squadron it would be most appreciated.

    Also believes Garf Kelly was captain of the winning RCAF Baseball Team with 408 Squadron in 1941 and wants anyone having memories of him, or knowing him at that time to contact her.

    The following probably explains why the family believes the winning RCAF baseball team was in 408 Squadron in 1941.
    The Essex County Reporter 16 Nov. 1944, Page 1. “Garf Kelly Captain Winning RCAF Baseball Team “(Garf was a Kingsville boy in 408 Squadron in 1941, when he was called the squadron disciplinarian.”
    Trying to locate a copy of the Article.

    408 Squadron Association story How the Lancaster “Miss Kingsville” got her name. “Garf Kelly Captain Winning R.C.A.F. Baseball Team”. (Garf was a Kingsville boy in 408 Squadron in 1941, when he was called the squadron disciplinarian.” However the Kingsville Connection story on the 408 Squadron Association Site indicates “sometime early in 1942″ a local boy named Garfield Kelly joined 408 Squadron as a disciplinarian. A popular athlete in town, he would return in 1944 and the writeup in the local paper would establish the first connection between the Canada Goose in Kingsville and the 408 (Goose) Squadron.

    Sun, 10 October 2010. Guest Book Comment Flight Sergeant Garf Kelly
    Garf Kelly passed away 29 Sept.1979. He was with 408 we believe from Dec. 1941…. from Kingsville, Ont. We would love to hear about his antics as we are sure there are many. Nancy.

    408 Squadron History
    July 20th 1941 the Squadron was transferred from Lindholme to Syerston Nottinghamshire and Aircrew began to arrive from OTU’s. The first major contingent of RCAF groundcrew arrived in August and another in late November 1941. As a member of the November contingent, I found 408 RCAF Squadron was predominantly RAF with no baseball team while 408 was with Number 5 RAF Group.

    -1-
    September 16 1942 the Squadron transferred from Syerston to Leeming Yorkshire under the operational control of Number 6 RCAF Group. All Canadian bomber squadrons operating in one Group was the first opportunity for a 408 Squadron Baseball Team and probably marks the beginning of sports competitions between Canadian Squadrons.

    Pleased learn that Mary now has her grandfather’s Military Records and Postings. The addition of Garf’s RCAF Trade and the dates he was with 408 Squadron to your Guest Book Comments will be very helpful to anyone trying to reply to your Comments. Unfortunately it’s somewhat late since individuals serving with 408 squadron between 1941-1945 are extremely rare.

    Best wishes in your continuing research.
    George R McKillop
    New Westminster, BC

    June 6, 2014

  2. With thanks to Ruth I Maurice and Gary Tetzlaff.
    Excerpt from 408 Squadron Stories – Lancaster EQ-G “Miss Kingsville”
    My friend, and ex science teacher, Charlie Campbell (himself an ex Lancaster tail gunner), told me that he thought that Claire Ferguson of Leamington might have been in 408 Squadron. I went to Canada Customs Office in Leamington, where Claire worked. I showed the picture to him and asked him if he might know the ground crew or even the aircraft. To my amazement he said, “Yes, that’s my plane!” Then he told me the story behind “G” for “Goose” and how she became Miss Kingsville.”

    Miss Kingsville Photo (PL30770), The Lancaster Phase. 408 Squadron History Book. ISBN 0-920002-32-3, Copyright 1984, The Hangar Bookshelf. Caption: Right, Groundcrew pose beside their aeroplane (Lancaster II LL636 EQ-G).
    Top to bottom left, LAC H. Truax, LAC H. Arnold and Sgt. J Godfrey.
    Top to bottom right, cockpit window, LAC R Ferry, LAC K. Cinnamon,
    Sgt. S McCracken and LAC G Palen.

  3. I am Garf Kelly’s granddaughter who was RCAF Baseball Team Captain of the Winning Team of 408 Squadron in 41. Does anyone have any memories of him or knew him then. I fyou do please contact me at the above. Thank you…

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