Former East Mountain man defied odds by overcoming sight deficit
Second World War flying ace Larry Sutherland is seen receiving his Distinguished Flying Crosses and Bar from Frank Ray Lawson, the 17th lieutenant-governor of Ontario, shortly after the end of the war. Submitted photo
TRURO - A former East Mountain man who became Canada's top Second World War heavy bomber air gunner ace has died at his home in Sebastian, Florida.
Clarence Bentley (Larry) Sutherland, one of only three bomber aces in Canada, died May 23. He was 89.
Sutherland flew 35 missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross twice.
Raised on a farm in East Mountain, he went on to become an aviation legend in both the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Air Force (RAF), despite having a birth defect in his left eye.
Although Sutherland was initially turned down seven times for enlistment in the RCAF because of his eye condition, the defect actually provided him with phenomenal night vision, which gave him an advantage as a gunner in the night skies.
Sutherland was responsible for shooting down seven German night fighters and damaging another from the turrets of the Lancasters he flew in during the Second World War. He and his tail gunner shot down three such planes on a single night mission, a feat that has not been duplicated by another heavy bomber air gunner.
Sutherland also survived a crash landing during training exercises, flew in nine Berlin raids and made three forced landings as the result of flak damage.
The details of his wartime accomplishments have been published in a bestselling book, The One Eyed Gunner, (Bryler Publications Inc.,) which was written by his nephew, Gary Chisholm of Braeshore, Pictou County.