Fighter at Fifteen
After 18 operational sorties comes Canada’s youngest Air Gunner
THE YOUNGEST KNOWN GRADUATE OF the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan is Roy Hadwyn of Lindsay, Ontario, who joined the RCAF in 1942 when he was fifteen years old. Two years later, still under regulation age, he was an air gunner in a Halifax bomber, part of the air fleet that swept over France on D-Day. About to go on another raid, he was called in to the Commanding Officer of his squadron, told that his age had been discovered. He was promptly sent home with no arguments accepted, and arrived in Canada a seventeen-year-old veteran who had been on eighteen operational sorties, and downed one Messerschmitt, badly damaged a Focke-Wulf.
Roy had been making model planes ever since, his father says, "he was old enough to hold a pair of scissors." Two years ago, he made five trips to the RCAF recruiting centre in Toronto before they accepted him. Chased out the first time, he returned persistently, "till they got tired of seeing him around." The same persistence finally won his parents over. Anxious but resigned, they sent him off to Manning Pool with an injunction to be careful. Overseas, he wrote his family that he was an instructor. They discovered his flying record only when newspapers carried the story after his return to Canada. "We might have known it” said his father, William Hadwyn, CNR brakeman.
He came home unexpectedly late at night, woke his sleeping family. Now living in Lindsay, he is adjusting himself to civilian life at an age when most boys are thinking of leaving that life for the armed services.
During his first days back, he went to dances, met old friends, went to the local soda fountain to be posted on whereabouts of buddies in the services. Small boys came to the house to see him, wanted to be shown how he downed a Messerschmitt. Roy doesn't look much older than his age. Other men in aircrew had a hunch he wasn't eighteen, called him "Muscles" for the same reason that fat men are called "Tiny". They told him to come back again when he was old enough.