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
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