Paying tribute to one of many Canadian war heroes

I am the founder of Veteran Voices of Canada. Our organization strives to educate the public about Canada’s military history through the eyes of the people who were there, our veterans. One such hero was Colonel (Ret.) James “Doug” Douglas Lindsay. Doug was born in Arnprior, Ont., on September 16,1922. He flew in Europe with the 403 and 416 Fighter Squadrons and, while in Korea, he flew with the American 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. He earned The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Bar—an incredibly prestigious award. Here, Doug describes some of his experiences in his own words: “I was very interested in the air force results in World War I, and I read up on everything I could about Billy Bishop and several other Canadians who became aces in the First World War. I thought that was what I would like to do.”

a close-up of Doug in uniform
a close-up of Doug in uniform

“It was about my tenth or eleventh sortie, and Buzz Beurling was number three in the foursome, and I was number four. We were flying top cover and escorting B-17s, Americans…and Beurling called out that enemy aircraft were attacking the bombers and said he was going down. I didn’t see what he was after, because I was watching his tail…and in watching him I noticed he was firing his guns because there was smoke coming off the wings, but I didn’t see what he was shooting at. He then pulled up, so I followed him and pulled up as well, and climbed back into the formation. I didn’t know that he had shot down an aircraft until we landed back at Kinley. That was my first, real operational experience.”

Wing (USAF) in Korea
Wing (USAF) in Korea

“We were in the middle of roughly 40-plus ME-109s and 12 of our aircraft and we were going around in circles firing around. Anytime we got anything lined up and let go of a burst I knew my number 2 wasn’t going to keep up with me; he needed to look after himself firing his guns and all the other chaps doing the same thing, and I figured I was on my own. I made sure nobody was shooting at me and was looking for another enemy aircraft. I finally latched onto another chap—got strikes on him and slowed him down enough that I caught him… he bailed out. The next thing I knew I was all by myself, there was not another aircraft in sight. It was just dead silence. I called the rest of my flight and didn’t get an answer from anybody, so I thought I’d better get the hell out of there and I headed home. I got three…in all we knocked down about nine of their aircraft out of the 40. Some of the boys who were in the scrap, well they didn’t make it back. They either bailed out or tried to land in the water. We were always worried about getting back, and quite often we had to land at coastal aerodromes to refuel and then go back to our base.”

Doug in his Spitfire while in England
Doug in his Spitfire while in England

“It was a wonderful experience that very few people had…or will ever have.” Doug Lindsay was credited with 6.5 fighter aircraft shot down, and five damaged during operations in Europe during World War II. This made him an a fighter ace. He returned to Canada, remaining in the air force as an instructor. During the Korean War, he flew F-86 Sabres with two enemy aircraft destroyed and another three damaged, for a total of 8.5 shot down and eight damaged. He earned both the Canadian and the American Distinguished Flying Cross. Doug now resides with his wife in Red Deer, Alta.

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