Lt. (P) Gerald Arthur Anderson RCNVR

October 5th 2022
The Last Canadian to Die in the Second World War

Originally from Trenton, Ontario, Lt. (P) Gerald Arthur Anderson RCNVR was a Fleet Air Arm Pilot on HMS Formidable and had as his compatriots, Hammy Gray of BC and Bill Asbridge of Edmonton. All were lost in the Pacific campaign against Japan.

On 9 August 1945 – the same day that the B-29 Stratofortress “Bockscar” dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, Lt. Anderson participated on an aerial attack on Onagawa Bay in northern Japan.

Anderson was a pilot with 1842 Squadron, and embarked on “Ramrod 3” and returned to Onagawa Bay to finish the destruction begun by Robert Hampton Gray and his 1841 Corsairs of “Ramrod 2”. By the time the Corsairs of Ramrod 3 were heading home at 1500 hrs, there was total devastation on the surface of Onagawa Bay. Only one ship, Kongo Maru, remained afloat. The day’s combat operations had been successful, but the loss of the much-liked Robert Hampton Gray was a bitter pill to swallow, especially as they all understood the war was winding down.

Telegram received by the Anderson family noting Lt (P) Anderson's having been killed in action.

There was still 150 miles to fly until they were home safe aboard Formidable. Anderson’s aircraft had been hit by anti-aircraft fire during the attack and he was leaking fuel rapidly on the way home. Anderson was given two options. He could ditch his dying and damaged Corsair or elect to recover aboard the carrier. It was possible that Anderson was wounded, and a ditching might prove difficult to get out of. He chose to land aboard and so set up for the regulation curving approach from the port rear quarter. It looked like he was going to make it and the batsman standing on deck guided him in down the roiling wake towards Formidable. Just feet from the flight deck rounddown, Anderson’s engine quit on him, and the 9,000-pound fighter sank. His Corsair slammed hard and flat into the rounddown, angled toward the sky. The aft section of the Corsair behind Anderson broke away and fell backward to the boiling sea and Formidable’s three thrashing propellers. Anderson was the last Canadian to die in the Second World War. Anderson was 22 years old.

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