Jack Ford’s War

It was off to the Aviation and Space Museum* this morning to hear a presentation by Jack Ford. He was a private, and the lowest of the low, a soldier without a gun. He carried a camera into the second world war behind the Normandy beaches a few weeks after DDay.

Mr Ford walked and talked like a man in his seventies, when he is actually ninety-one.. I took some pic in the darkened theatre. Here they are, I only wish you could have heard him tell the stories to go with them.


Mr Ford chatting with the head of the Aviation and Space Museum
the pilot (left) brought in his plane, the groundcrewman of the photog unit took out the camera, and brought it over to a truck right on the runway, where the film was processed and multiple prints made
a allied-bombed French town during the liberation of France.
minutes after the bombers had their way, the reconaissance units flew over taking pictures of what was hit or missed. There were a number of pictures that left the audience in stunned silence, such was the magnitude of destruction
after the allies established the Normandy beachheads, the Germans had time to regroup and organize strafing and bombing raids on the troops. Barrage balloons were raised aloft at changing heights to obstruct their flight; even more deadly were the cables that hung down from the balloons ready to damage planes


early one morning, the photographers were roused to get out the runway to greet a mystery plane. First off: King George V. The next airplane had Montgomery. The third had Churchill, all on a risky visit to the front lines to encourage morale.
Churchill arrives. Ironically, he used a captured German plane, preferred because of its superior flight characteristics
Mr Ford got close to take a photo of Churchill, but Ford wanted no cigar. Churchill scowled at the impudent Canadian colonial; but the photo is a predecessor to the famous Karsh portrait
Liberation of Holland. Dutch people would go out for miles into the countryside to scavenge dead or damaged trees for firewood, and take home the logs on bikes. Mr Ford is still incredulous they wore wooden shoes.And that the ocean goes up and down every day. Twice. Who knew.
Dutch children gather round a Cdn supply vehicle for food and clothing. Mr Ford donated his spare pair of pants to a Dutch worker who showed up days later with his daughter wearing a new outfit made entirely from his pants. She hadn’t been able to go outdoors all winter due to the total lack of clothes.
The Cdn squadron noticed the lack of food and sent planes back to England to pick up Christmas supplies; here kids are given turkey sandwiches, first meat in years. Cdn soldiers are dressed up as the typical Dutch version of Santa and his helper. On New Year’s day the recon unit base was strafed by a flight of 30 German fighters; we lost sixteen planes on the ground.

Speakers like Mr Ford do well to put into perspective the complaints and rich people problems we have in Canada today.




* embarrassingly, the first time I have ever been there. It only opened in 1988.

2 thoughts on “Jack Ford’s War

  1. Thanks for this. However much we loath the violence and stupidity of war, it’s easy to respect and honour the combatants, many of them as much victimized as the civilians (collateral damage!) sufferinng the horrendous blows. Likewise those who risk their lives to document the brutality.

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