Flying Officer Clifford Shnier, RCAF Pilot J17452
Born June 5, 1916, in Emerson, Manitoba
Shot down in World War II during the night of July 29/30, 1943, at 27 years of age, by a Luftwaffe night fighter, near Wohnste, Germany while piloting a Lancaster Bomber Mark III, serial EE173, call letters OF-O, in the Royal Air Force 97 Squadron, on a night bombing raid on Hamburg
In the summer of 2005, Norman Shnier visited the grave of his brother Clifford Shnier who was killed when his plane was shot down during the Second World War. In advance of his visit Norman requested Clifford's complete War Service Record from Library and Archives Canada. After Norman gave the documents to Allan Paull (both of whom also served overseas in the War), I received them.
All I had ever heard was that my Uncle Clifford was a pilot in the War, and was shot down.
These hundreds of pages of military documents included application forms, promotions, Mess bills, flying test results, hospital records, discipline notes (he was AWL once), a malaria attack in West Africa, an accident report where he collapsed his aircraft's landing gear, and then all of the notifications, and eventually letters to Clifford's parents, and the many exchanges dealing with Clifford's serviceman's estate.
There were some real gems, such as hand-written letters and signatures from Clifford's parents (my Grandparents, whom I never knew), and even my own father's signature (when he was 21 years of age), seeing that Clifford initially failed out of Pilot school, and when he did pass, his instructor was concerned "insofar as discipline is concerned this Airman may develop into a problem child", and learning that my Uncle Allie's real name is Abraham Joseph, even though some know he gives his formal name as Allan. There are enquiries from Allan Paull about both Clifford and his brother Norman, who was a Prisoner of War in Germany, and dealing with the sale of Clifford's 1936, eight horsepower car, described by the Military as: "one Morris 8 tourer automobile, in a generally dilapidated condition of an approximate value of £15 to £20".
And there are some mysteries. Who was the enquiring friend of Clifford's a Miss. M. Meadows who lived north of London but gave two different nonexistent mailing addresses, why did Clifford take two week-long paid leave of absences his first in years just weeks before he was shot down, and why don't Clifford's dental records seem to match those of the person buried in his grave.
Rather than just summarizing these pages of Military documents, I wanted to make the actual images of them available, and this web site is the result.
The main image pages are organized by year, and each image is numbered and dated so you know where you are. All these images are the Military records on file with Library and Archives Canada.
A low-resolution image of each document is to the right of my paraphrasing (or sometimes fully quoting) the document.
To see a high-resolution view of each image (so you can read the document for yourself), just click on the small image (it will then take a few seconds for the download). You can also click on one of the "Large image" buttons for the image in a different format (PNG is the same high-resolution image as clicking on the image, TIF is the same high-resolution image but in a different format which may let you zoom and pan easier, PNG1024 is a medium-resolution image that will download faster).
I found going through these documents a fascinating look at someone who was up until a few weeks ago, just a name to me. This view of Clifford is primarily from reading the documents, though another side is shown from the except from Pip Beck's book. I realize that there is another side from the many letters and memories, which are primarily in Winnipeg. I'd be happy to add these, but best to get started, so here it is.
I have added some maps and satellite photographs, pictures, and web resource links.
I would like to thank my Uncle Norman for knowing these records were available, for obtaining them, and for letting me use the pictures from his trip to the Cemetery where Clifford's grave is. I would also like to thank Allan Paull for thinking of me when he had to decide what to do with the documents.
If you have any comments, corrections, or additions, please e-mail me at Mitchell@shnier.com. If you'd like, I'd be happy to post such comments on this web site.
Mitchell Shnier, Toronto, Canada, December 2005