Flying Officer Alexander Lewis

 

The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada published a three part document on his life in Summer 2017, using his papers and letters home

1899 Jul 15. Born Gloucestershire.

1901 in Bristol, Gloucs

1911 census at 5 Melrose Terrace, Forest Rd, Fishponds, Bristol

1915 Oct 22 as a Draftsman/Aero engineer at Brazil Stroker, Bristol

1917 Sep 17 In training in OTC at Farnborough

1917 Nov 2. Left Brazil Stroker and enlisted in RAF as Air Mechanic 2.

 

1918 Feb 2. The undermentioned cadets to be temp. 2nd Lts. (on prob.). Alexander Lewis.

 

1918 Aug. Having qualified as a pilot, he finally lands in France. He flies bomber/reconnaissance aircraft in France till the end of the war, including shot down and shooting down a German aircraft

1919 Sep 26 Demobbed. "I was too unsettled to return to university with the terrors and nightmares fresh in my mind of the air war on the Ypres front. After the war I obtained my Air Ministry commercial flying license and barnstormed all over England in Avro-504-Ks converted to 3 seaters, also charter trips to points in Europe". He got a got a job with a flying boat company. became a partner in it, but it was forced to close down, and he lost all his investment, hence short of money. At this point, home in Bristol, he was reading the Sunday Pictorial, and came across the advert for the ADRIC, and went to London the next day to enlist

1920 Aug 13 Joined ADRIC with service no 227. Posted to C Coy

" Arriving at Scotland Yard, I wa taken down innumerable passages and several flights of stairs to a huge long room at the end of which was a large desk and sitting behind it was the commissioner in charge of the Special Branch. Without wasting any time he looked at my identity papers, then picked up the phone and called the Air ministry to confirm everything I had told him....I was immediately sworn in, and because I was an ex-officer, I was given the temporary rank of Police Sergeant...To cut a long story short, I served in the RIC for a number of years, and attained the rank of Inspector...My experiences in Ireland would fill a book, and I was still suffering nightmares for more years after. "

1921 Nov At the scene of the Kilmichael Ambush .

"When I was stationed in Cork there were only 37 of us altogether, and of that small number18 were murdered in an ambush one Sunday night...I was one of the remaining 19 who found the bodies on Monday morning, horribly mutilated on a lonely peat bog road with the police cars blown up and burnt"

"When travelling along the Kilmichael road, I suddenly noticed a Crossley tender absolutely burnt out, lying in the ditch on the left hand side of the road. A few yards further on I saw a dead body...about 100 yards down the road was the other Crossley also burnt out, also in the left hand ditch, and around which were all the other dead bodies. At that everyone went raving mad. I took two petrol cans , went to the nearest farmhouse, out of which the occupants had fled, emptied the contents all over the place, down the stairs, over the bedding, etc., and put a light to the lot. It went up with a roar and that was the finish of that, the others did likewise to another farmhouse and haystack close by. When we had cooled down a bit we proceeded to pick up the bodies and pile them in the tender, and then commenced the awful return home. ..I have never driven a more gruesome load before and never wish to do so again"

1921 Jan 1. Promoted Section Leader (Transport) The leave book has him as "Hon DI3"as does numeric register. I assume the Section Leader in charge of Coy Transport as an Hon DI3

1921 May 7 to 8 May on Leave

1921 Jun 24 On a raid with C Coy

1921 Jul 29 to 28 Aug on Leave

1922 Jan 13. Discharged on demobilisation of ADRIC

1922 Mar 28. Joined the British Gendarmerie section of the Palestine Police as a Sergeant

1923 Jan 1. He writes "I have had a ripping Christmas. One of the best I have ever had I believe because, you see, I spent it in Bethlehem and Jerusalem" He describes visiting the Church of the Nativity, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Mount Calvary and the Dead Sea

1923 Jun .The Palestine Gendarmerie was too monotonous life for me, so after 15 months I resigned and made my way to Port Said, boarded a Japanese ship for England

In the next year in England he renewed his commercial flying license, he did his reserve officer's training, and had the odd job test flying aircraft at Filton. However he soon realised England was not for him

 

"The year was 1924, a time of depression in England and I couldn't foresee any future in flying for some time to come, so I decided to come to Canada and review the situation there"

1924 Jul 24. Leaves UK for Canada. Intending to live in Canada. An air pilot. Roman Catholic

On arrival in Quebec, he took the train to Montreal, and wrote letters to get employment. In Dec 1924 he went for an interview with the new Canadian Air Force. He got the job, and after a stint at Camp Borden, he was stationed at Winnipeg, where he met and married Jeanette Cady.

1927 Jun 25 Married

1927 Jul 15.Only a few weeks after his marriage, he sets sail with the Hudson Strait Expedition. This expedition had, among other members, 6 pilots. From arrival, until they departed in August 1928, the pilots flew 227 patrols, for a total of 370 hours and took 2285 photographs

1928 Feb 17. His aircraft ditched in the sea off Labrador

The Hudson Strait Expedition flew daily patrols from three bases in order to collect metrological information and ice conditions. Lewis had taken off with 2 crew, Flight-sergeant N.C. Terry , the engineer, and an eskimo called Booby, whose role was to aid survival in the event of ditching.. Bad weather, high winds and low fuel forced them to land on an ice flow. Eventually after 14 days they reached their base, having been helped over the final 4 days by an eskimo hunting party. By the time they got back to base, they had already been given up for dead

1928 Oct 11. Arrives in UK from Canada. An Air pilot , travels with wife Jeanette. Lives in Canada

1929 Apr 26 Leaves UK for Canada . RAF travels with wife Jeanette.

1935 Mar 5. Arrives in UK from New York. He is a Fl.Lt in RCAF

1941 Sep. A Group Captain in RCAF

 

1942 Feb 11. Leaves UK for Bermuda. He is a Wing Commander living in Canada.

Group Captain, Commanding Officer of Rivers School

1942 May. The increase in bombing missions in Europe caused the demand for air observers to grow in 1941, and 2 ANS was formed at Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick in July of that year. The two schools operated separately for a year before their amalgamation into the Central Navigation School (CNS). The decision to merge the schools was made for economic reasons, as well as the belief that meteorological conditions in Manitoba were preferable for celestial navigation training. No. 2 ANS moved to Rivers in May 1942, and 1 CNS was created under the command of Group Captain A. Lewis. In July of 1942, the staff at 1 CNS consisted of 103 officers, 1932 airmen, and 248 civilians, with an additional 90 officers and 595 airmen as students. They operated 118 Avro Ansons and one Stinson HW-75 aircraft

1945 Jan 4. Group Captain RCAF awarded AFC

1952 Aug 3. Arrives in UK from Boston. He is retired and travels with his wife Jeanette

1952 Nov 19. Leaves UK for Canada with wife Jeanette. They live in Vancouver, Canada.

1962 Oct. In the press as Civil Defence Coordinator in Vancouver

1996 Dec 8. Died of Heart Failure in Canada , aged 97

 

ADRIC