Monday, September 16, 2013

Wilson Brooks: African-Canadian Bomb Aimer

Colin M. Bain et al., Making History.  The Story of Canada in the Twentieth Century.
Prentice-Hall, 2000. 
Wilson Brooks was born in Windsor in 1925 but grew up in Toronto.  After high school, he volunteered for the RCAF and was trained as a bomb aimer (bombardier/navigator) in Manitoba, subsequently flying sorties over Europe.  He flew with another African-Canadian, Lincoln Alexander, who was later to become Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.  At age 19, he became one of Canada's youngest commissioned officers, and one of only a very few African-Canadians to be awarded this rank.  Following World War II, he became the first black school principal in 1952 and helped to found the Toronto War Veteran's Association.

Black aviators faced many hurdles during WWII.  An American pilot, James L. Peck, was unable to achieve active service during the war because of his race.  He went on to become a successful aviation writer.  He wrote a very interesting piece about a Ferry Command pilot's experience transporting a Hudson across the Atlantic.  I've posted his article: Bomber to Britain.

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