Your Stories By Lyle Carter
It’s not every day that a local person receives a letter from Buckingham Palace, so you can bet Eric MacMillan was excited as he opened one last September.
The Upper Onslow resident was an air gunner who flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force in bombing missions over Germany during the Second World War, and for many years has been on a quest for a Bomber Command medal.
“I have corresponded with Canadian and British officials regarding a request for a Bomber Command 1939-1945 Medal,” MacMillan said. “I exhausted every avenue within protocol to stop the introduction of the Bomber Command Bar worn on the CVSM Medal as a substitute for a Bomber Command 1939-1945 medal.
“The widows and orphans deserve this,” he continued. “Expected crew survival was less than one in 10. Our burnt bones lay all over Europe. It was the biggest enterprise of the Second World War. There were 55,678 who died over enemy territory.”
MacMillan was thrilled to have received a letter from British officials on the matter.
The opening paragraph of the letter read:
“The Queen has asked me to thank you for your letter of the 30th August regarding the award of a Bomber Command medal. Her Majesty has taken careful note of your comments.”
The letter went on to explain that Her Majesty acts on the advice of her Ministers and she therefore forwarded MacMillan’s letter to the Right Honourable Philip Hammond, MP, the Secretary of State for Defence, for consideration.
“In the meantime, I am to convey Her Majesty’s warm good wishes to you for the future,” is how the letter closed.
It was signed Mrs. Sonia Bonici, Senior Correspondence Officer for The Queen.
“I was pleased and appreciative in receiving a response from The Queen,” MacMillan, who will turn 90 early next month, said. “Of course, I was very interested in what would take place next.”
MacMillan’s commitment to a medal for the Bomber Command included putting together a book.
“The book was 20 years in the making,” he said. “It was in no way for personal gain. I don’t want any of this to glorify me. The bar that was issued in place of a Bomber Command 1939-1945 medal is not acceptable. What I am saying is this is not good enough. It is wrong. The magnitude of what the Bomber Command did, they deserve a medal.”
MacMillan has kept files displaying neat pages of contacts he has made and correspondence that has taken place.
For a man his age, MacMillan’s effort and his dedication in requesting a Bomber Command Medal has been outstanding.
Correspondence has included many high places, such as the Prime Minister of Canada, the Governor General of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion Magazine, Department of Veteran Affairs and The Ditchley Foundation.
“I heard from Defence Secretary G. Krishnasamy of the United Kingdom in early October,” MacMillan said. “He thanked me for my letter to Her Majesty The Queen. I appreciated that my request was given consideration. Apparently, a Bomber Command 1939-1945 Medal is stalled. I am becoming just too old to continue this endeavour. Surely, one day, the situation will be corrected. I only wish I could be around to see it happen.”
Born in Truro, MacMillan attended and played hockey for Colchester County Academy. Before the war, he worked briefly for Goodspeeds, a large Truro car dealership.
In 1941, at 17 years of age, he joined the Canadian Army. While on furlough in 1942 MacMillan transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Following the war, MacMillan returned to Goodspeeds, located approximately where Pye’s Chevrolet is now located. Spending 40 years with Goodspeeds, besides being a top salesman, MacMillan became a shareholder in the company.
Lyle Carter’s column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.