Hon. CYRUS MACMILLAN (Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of National Defence for Air):
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the
Minister of National Defence for Air it is my proud privilege and honour to inform the house that the highest decoration for valour, the Victoria Cross, has been awarded posthumously Edward David1 Hornell, of Mimico, Ontario, formerly residing at Harbord street, Toronto.
With the consent of the house I should like to place on Hansard the citation referring to the gallant and distinguished conduct of Flight Lieutenant Homell, on the night and day of June 24 last.
Flight Lieutenant Hornell was captain and first pilot of a twin-engine amphibian aircraft engaged in anti-submarine patrol over northern waters.
The patrol had lasted some hours when a fully-surfaced U-boat was sighted travelling at high speed on the port beam. Flight Lieutenant Hornell at once turned to the attack. The U-boat altered course. The aircraft had been seen and there could be no surprise. The U-boat opened up with anti-aircraft fire which became increasingly fierce and accurate.
The front guns of the aircraft replied; then its starboard gun jammed, leaving only one gun effective. Hits were obtained on and around
Victoria Cross-Lieutenant Homell
the conning tower of the U-boat, but the aircraft was itself hit, two large holes appearing in the starboard wing.
Ignoring the enemy's fire, Flight Lieutenant Hornell carefully manoeuvred for the attack. Oil was pouring from his starboard wing; and his petrol tanks were endangered. Meanwhile the aircraft was hit again and again by the U-boat's guns. Holed in many places, it was vibrating violently and became very difficult to control.
Nevertheless, the captain decided to press home his attack, knowing that with every moment the chances of escape for him and his gallant crew would grow more slender. He brought his aircraft down very low and released his depth charges in a perfect "straddle". The bows of the U-boat were lifted out of the water; it sank, and members of the crew were seen in the sea.
Flight Lieutenant Hornell contrived, by superhuman efforts at the controls, to gain a little height. Fire in 'the starboard wing had grown more intense and the vibration had increased. Then the burning engine fell off. The plight of aircraft and crew was now desperate. With the utmost coolness, the captain took his aircraft into the wind and, despite manifold dangers, brought it safely down on a heavy swell.
Badly damaged and blazing furiously, the aircraft rapidly settled. After the ordeal by fire came ordeal by water. There was only one serviceable dinghy and this could not hoid all the crew, so they took turns in the water holding onto the sides. On one occasion the dinghy capsized in rough seas and was righted only with great difficulty. Two of the crew succumbed from exposure. An airborne lifeboat was dropped to them but it fell some 500 yards dowm 'wind.
The airmen struggled vainly to reach it and Flight Lieutenant Hornell. who throughout had encouraged them by his cheerfulness and inspiring leadership, proposed to swim to it, though he was nearly exhausted. He was with difficulty restrained. The survivors were finally rescued after they had been in the water twenty-one hours. By this time Flight Lieutenant Hornell was blinded and completely exhausted. He died shortly after being picked up. Flight Lieutenant Hornell had completed sixty operational missions, involving six hundred hours flying. He well knew the danger and the difficulties attending attacks on submarines. By pressing home a skilful and successful attack against fierce opposition, with his aircraft in precarious condition, and by fortifying and encouraging his comrades in the subsequent ordeal, this officer displayed valour and devotion to duty of the highest order.
The members of the crew who died with him were Donald Stewart Scott of Almonte, Ontario, and Fernand St. Laurent, of Father Point, Quebec. The surviving members of the crew are Bernard Charles Denomy, of Chatham, Ontario, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order; Graham Campbell, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; Sidney Edward Matheson, of Nelson British Columbia, who was awarded the Distinguished
Flying Cross; Flight Sergeant Israel Joseph Bodnoff, of Ottawa, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, and Sidney Reginald Cole, of Long Branch, Ontario, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.
May I add just one word, Mr. Speaker? We rejoice, I am sure, in the rescue of the living; we deeply sympathize with the kindred of the dead. This story of courage which I have just read is typical of the spirit of Canada. May it live forever as a perpetual inspiration in the heart and memory of the land they loved, Canada, the land they died to save!
Topic: QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic: ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE