Everett Coulter

From Curriepedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Everett Coulter, during WWII

Everett Malcolm Coulter (23 July 1920 - 20 February 1944) was a Canadian man killed in action during WW2.

Early life

He was born to Joseph and Williamina Bessie Coulter on 23 July 1920, the fifth of seven children.

He graduated from Toronto Normal School. He taught for two years in the Sunderland district.

Service in World War 2

He enlisted in the RCAF on 2 March 1942 in Toronto.

He served with service number R/156195 as Warrant Officer Class II in the 78th Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

His brothers Hubert and Wesley also served in the RCAF.

His military record notes his sports as hockey, baseball, and basketball.

On 25 August 1942 his medical examiner's remark was "Fair physique - small - thin. Stable type - slightly nervous but not notably tant. Meek and mild type. Wants P. At least average ability to learn."

He earned the Air Observer's Badge on 5 February 1943 at Crumlin, London, Ontario.

He went overseas to the UK in March 1943.

On Sunday 23 May he survived an air raid on Bournemouth, wherein the Germans specifically targeted airmen, Bournemouth's bloodiest of the war. He stayed up all night searching for survivors in the rubble.

From 22 June to 2 August 1943 he went to Air Navigation School, but received poor marks, although the instructor's remark was "His work has been consistent. Should be good with experiance. [sic]"

From 17 August to 9 October 1943 he went to Air and Ground Training, ranking 29th out of 102 in the class. His instructor's remark was "Not a physical type. Has some merit academically."

78th Squadron

The 78th squadron was a bomber squadron with the Number 4 Group [1].

Letters

On 6 June 1943 he wrote home to his sister Ruth:

The aftermath of an air raid experienced by Everett on 23 May 1943. This was the hotel he was staying at. A rare colour photo of the bomb-damaged Metropole Hotel with Women's Voluntary Service canteen in the foreground
R156195

Sgt. Coulter E.M.

R.C.A.F. Overseas,

June 6, 1943.

Dear Ruth + Bruce,

It's been quite a while since your letter came and I should have answered it before. However, you will probably have seen any & all of my letters at home. An air letter from Daddy came in 14 days. Up to the time of writing - May 21st he said they had only received 3 letters of various descriptions from me. I very foolishly left writing after the first few until I started getting answers. That left quite a gap in the time of my letters reaching Canada. Now I am writing regularly every week so they should be coming through better now. I would write blue air letters all the time but we can't get many of them. Once a week they give us one on parade so they don't go around very far for writing home.

I gather from your letter that Bruce's birthday is April 23. Right or wrong? After getting the telegram about Hubert I kind of forget about the birthdays in May until Wesley's letter came the other day. He wrote it on his birthday. Now there are Ken's and Elaine's. I must remember and yours following shortly after. In case I don't get another letter away in time - Many Happy Returns of the day on the 2nd, Ruth.

Your mention of bicycles must have given me an idea because I went to the town of Poole the other day and bought a new one. It cost £10 7s 3d or $47.50 in Canadian money. It was quite a bit to pay but you can usually get quite close to full value if you want to sell a bike over here. The money was burning a hole in my pocket. I went away on leave with £16 and came back with £14 so I had to do something with it.

That reminds that perhaps Elaine might like a bike. See Mama + Daddy and get their opinion on the matter. Perhaps they might not like her to have one in the city but I think she is big enough to handle one now. If they are agreeable to letter her have one, take one my checks and get one for her birthday. I should have written sooner and then you could have been on the look out for one. Perhaps you won't receive this letter till after her birthday but it would be just as well for her not to see it till after her exams. You can see what they think about the matter.

I have had two air letters from Ken. He says he has his bike all oiled up ready to go. I am glad you liked the picture. I would liked to have seen them myself. Everybody seems to be satisfied with them so I guess they must be all right.

I finished out a role [sic] of film while I was in Aberdeen on my leave but they all turned out underexposed. I don't know just what the trouble was. You probably wonder how I got all the way to Aberdeen and back on £2. We can get travel warrants for leaves to any place in Gt. Britain and Northern Ireland so I took advantage of the opportunity. I had seven days and divided the time between London, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Edith had given me an address of friends of theirs in Aberdeen so I thought it would be a good idea to take in the far away places first. On the way up I stopped off in London and went out to see the people Hubert spent his leaves with. They are very nice. While there I also saw Buckingham Palace, Westminister [sic] Abbey, Houses of Commons & Lords, Big Ben, 10 Downing St., and Trafalgar Square. I also spent some time amusing myself in the tubes (London's Underground Railway.) The following day and night I stopped off in Glasgow and then went on to Aberdeen for the rest of the time. On the way back I rode in the "Flying Scotsman" [2].

The weather is O.K at 10 ft. Bruce but as yet I have not got any higher to see what it is like. I haven't been inside a place since A.O.S. [Air Operating School] About the only work we have done is a three week refresher course in ground school which we finished on Sat.

Two weeks ago I experienced my first air raid. Just after dinner [actually it was 12:54] on Sunday [23 May 1943] I was lying on the grass in the Park [in Bournemouth [3]]. The alert went but as usual we payed no attention to it because up till then nothing had happened. This time it was the real McCoy. Focke-Wulfe 190's [sic] [4] and Messersmitts 190F's [sic] [5] came sailing over the roof tops dropping small bombs (500 lb.) on whatever buildings they saw and strafed the park with machine guns and canon. You never saw a park clear so fast. Everybody ducked under trees and shrubbery to get out of sight. It was too late to think of shelters. A chap about 4 yards from me got a canon slug in the back and died next day. [Either Abraham Spinak or Robert Barrington Robshaw [6]] Several others in the park were cut to pieces, and many received minor injuries. I worked all night to 5 A.M. [Monday 24 May 1943] in a rescue squad helping to get people out of the remains of a hotel. You could hear voices all through the ruins so we tried to tunnel to them first because we knew they were still alive. The raid only lasted 45 seconds but that was plenty long enough. It was just a nuisance raid - 'tip and run' [7] as they call them here. One of our chaps threw a kid into the bushes and laid on top of him to protect him. A bullet grazed his trousers and took the kid's foot off. When I see what a few small bombs did here, it must have been terrific during the London blitz and at places such as Coventry etc. I guess they are really giving Germany + Italy their own medicine back now. It looks as though they intend to flatten Germany & Italy from the air before going in on the land. If they don't let us start flying soon we'll be missing out on the fun. Germany must realize her fate by now.

See article: A minute of intense devastation – Bournemouth’s bloodiest air raid [8]

Well I hope you both are in good health. They weather has been really healthy since we arrived. There has been the most sunshine this year that there has been for years in Eng. [England] Once again many Happy Returns of the day on the 2nd [of July] Ruth [for her birthday].

Love

Everett
— Everett Coulter, letter to Ruth Newman, 6 June 1943

The Bournemouth air raid of 23 May 1943 was its bloodiest of the war:

On 23 May, hundreds of Canadian airmen were staying at the Metropole Hotel... The authorities typically expected to give Bournemouth a full 22 minutes’ warning of approaching enemy aircraft, but on 23 May 1943 the sirens sounded at 12.54 and the first bomb was dropped as the clocks prepared to strike one. What followed was barely a minute of intense devastation in which around 25 high-explosive bombs fell on the town and, with grotesque irony, the Pleasure Gardens were strafed with machine gun fire.

...

In its wake, at least 131 people lay dead, although the grim total may never be known exactly. Hundreds more were injured, many of them suffering – to use the modern parlance – life-changing injuries and some 3359 buildings were damaged, 37 of which had to be demolished adding to the 22 that had been destroyed in the raid including two of the town’s landmark hotels, the Metropole at the Lansdowne and the Central at the bottom of Richmond Hill.

...

On May 23, 1943, the peacefulness of a beautiful Sunday morning was abruptly shattered when 22 German aircraft, led by Leutnant Leopold Wenger, conducted their most audacious raid on Bournemouth. The Kingsway Hotel, the Congressional Church and Beales Department Store sustained significant bomb damage, but at the Landsdowne Circle the Metropole Hotel was virtually destroyed when it took a direct hit.

Casualties were high. Among the 128 killed that day were 51 service men.
— Dorset Life, April 2013 [9]

Some weeks later, he wrote to Ruth again, on 23 August 1943:

FROM R156195, Sgt. Coulter E.M., R.C.A.F. Overseas

TO Mr + Mrs B.F. Newman, 2042 Gerrard St. E, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

R.C.A.F. Overseas, 25.8.43. [25 August 1943]

Dear Ruth + Bruce,

On looking over my unanswered letters I see that there are two of yours unanswered. It is now over a week since I received the one you wrote in Sarnia and well over a month since the other one came. I keep resolving to get entirely caught up in correspondence but never seem to quite manage. There were four air letters from home, two from Ken and two from you, so three answers are accounting for quite a few. They seem to come in bunches.

I see by the letters from home that Elaine has her bicycle now [purchased for her 14th birthday on 27 June 1943]. No doubt she will be tickled with it. It is good that she already knows how to ride it. Don's [Everett's youngest brother Ian Donald Coulter] birthday will be next [his 10th birthday on 27 September 1943]. I was wondering what to suggest for him. However I have written home and told them to use a check as for Elaine, and get whatever they think he would like. If he has an inkling for a wagon, that might be a good idea.

Your letter of June 26 came while I was at A.F.U. [Advanced Flying Unit] but the second one came since we moved to O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit] [10] My pilot Jack Smith and I were into Oxford [11] last Saturday to do some shopping. It isn't much of a business centre but mainly as one would expect, a centre of learning" [sic - first quote missing]. The rest of my crews' names are W/OP [Without Papers?]

  • on WAG [Wireless Operator/Air Gunner] - George Reynolds, &
  • Bomb Aimer [12] - George Burnham.
  • Gunners & a Flight Engineer will be added when we get on to the four engine jobs.

We may have to look for a new Bomb Aimer as the present one has developed a case of ulcers of the stomach (like Harvey Shier had)

I got a letter from Alice Ingham a bit ago. If she could only learn not to start each sentence with 'So' her letters would be a lot easier to read. What she has to say is interesting but these "so" sentences all the time are rather irksome.

A few days ago a chap in the Canadian Army over here, whom I didn't know, wrote me. It turned out that he is a brother of one of Hubert's crew - the W/OP [Without Papers?] I presume. It is rather a coincidence that my pilot should have the same name as Hubert's. My first pilot - a Canadian - was sent here by mistake and had to leave for another O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit] the day after we had agreed to crew up. All my crew now are English boys. To get back to the army lad - His name is Homer Newton and he is stationed near London. As I am within popping in distance of London we may get to-gether [sic] some week-end [sic].

No doubt you had a good time on holidays at the cottage. We got no leave between A.F.U. [Advanced Flying Unit] + O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit] There should definitely be some after this course.

Glad to hear you got a raise in salary, Bruce.

Love

Everett
— Everett Coulter, letter to Ruth Newman, 25 August 1943

Death

He was missing in action 20 February 1944:

Globe and Mail, 1943
Flt. Sgt. Everett Malcolm Coulter, 151 [sic - it was actually 157] Wolverleigh Blvd., missing, was born in Calgary in July, 1920. He is a graduate of Toronto Normal School and before enlisting in March, 1942, taught school for two years in the Sunderland district. He graduated at Crumlin [an RCAF base in London, Ontario] [13] in February, 1943, as a navigator and went overseas the following month. He had been on operational assignments during the past three months in Halifax bombers. A brother, Hubert, an R.C.A.F. observer, has been missing since May, 1943, and is now presumed dead. Another brother, Wesley is a sergeant navigator in England
— Globe and Mail
Pte. [sic] Everett Malcolm Coulter was born July 23, 1920 at Calgary, Alberta. He was the son of Rev. Joseph and Mrs. Bessie Coulter, fifth oldest in a family of five boys and two girls. They lived in Western Canada until moving to Little Current in 1928.
— The Manitoulin (Island) Expositor, special issue, 1994. (Note: it contains several inaccuracies)
Inscription at Runnymede Memorial

Along with 20,450 others who have no known grave, he is commemorated at Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, United Kingdom, and referenced on grave reference panel 254.

Sources

Canadian Virtual War Memorial [14]

Wartime files [15]