|Joe Bouzek is an interesting guy. He came to
Canada, at the age of 13, from England, with his family in 1928 and
settled in the great metropolis of Stewart, BC. At that time
Stewart had a population of about 1,000 and no roads leading into
it. The only way in was by boat up the Portland Canal.
Stewart was a stopping off point for all the Gold Rushes into the
interior of BC. Klondike Kate
lived here shortly before her death. But Stewart was not just a stop-off point. It had been
the home of some of the most lucrative gold mines in all of
Joe grew up to be a newspaper man and an electronics wiz ,self
taught. He is now retired and living in Ottawa with his wife of
almost 60 years, Helen. (one of Helen's relatives was the Master
on the HMS Nancy) There will be
more stories about their lives on Mysteries of Canada at a later time.
1940 was a pivotal year in the life of Joe Bouzek. It was the
time of World War II. The Nazis had conquered most of Europe and
had their eyes set on conquering Britain. This was the year of the
Battle of Britain.
One of the pivotal advantages that Britain had in defending itself
was a fairly new invention called RADAR.
We all know (or should know) that the Battle of Britain was won by
pilots from many countries, including 90
from Canada (20 of whom died), fighting against overwhelming odds.
But a positive outcome was not always ensured. The British War
Office decided that RADAR was a crucial technology that must not fall
into the hands of the Germans if the battle was lost. Therefore
they decided to train Canadian technicians to maintain the
systems. If that battle did turn against Britain at least the
"secrets" of RADAR would be safe in Canada.
was one of these technicians.
Joe was seconded (although not officially) to the RAF as a RADAR
trainer and remained in the UK until 1943. As if his life wasn't
interesting enough, even his return to Canada onboard the HMS Queen
Mary was eventful. As a senior NCO on the ship he was assigned
to supervise the watch. One evening as he did his rounds below
decks he spotted a figure coming towards him smoking a cigar. He
could not make out the smoker's face because of the lighting but he could
see the cigar glowing. He yelled to the smoker to put out the
cigar, "It is against regulations... and it is
dangerous.". The smoker stopped, dropped the cigar on the
floor, crushed it and then bent over to pick it up and put it in his pocket.
"I am sorry.", stated the smoker, "I was just in
thought." Then, Winston Churchill tipped his hat to Joe and
continued his voyage to the Quebec Conference where he met with Stalin,
King and Roosevelt.
Once back in Canada, Sgt Joe Bouzek was sent to the US to study new
High Frequency RADAR technology. While on duty in the US he
learned of a new technology that was going to revolutionize the science
of bombing. The Americans were planning to put a television camera
in the nose of a remotely controllable bomb. Some people will
tell you that this TV technology was used to control the Hiroshima and
Nagasaki bombs. (Just as an aside, the first official television
broadcast in Canada was in 1951, while it had been in use commercially
in the US since 1928.)
On his return from the US to Canada and his base at Clinton, Ontario, Joe talked
over the technology with his Commanding Officer, Wing Commander
Kenneth R. Patrick. Patrick,
who would later be installed as a Member of the Order of the British
Empire (OBE) for his contribution field of communications and radar, worked with
his US counterpart at Clinton to secure one of the American
setups. Joe was put in charge of what could be called a Black
Operation to demonstrate the use of the technology in Canada.
Let the fun begin!
Joe and his team began by installing the television camera unit in a truck and driving
it around Clinton and transmitting the images to their office on the
base. On December 13, 1944 they left Clinton to drive into
Toronto. That was a few days after one of the worst blizzards to ever hit
Toronto. During this storm some twenty-four people died as a result of 57cm of snow being blown into drifts by
gale force winds! Driving conditions were poor, a factor that was
to prove providential for Joe and his team.
The demonstration they had planned for December 14 was to
drive their specially equipped truck from the Royal York Hotel to the
Island Airport. The signal receiver was installed at the military
staff college one block north of the Royal
York. The demonstration went off without a hitch. There were
probably two main reasons why the demonstration was successful.
Traffic was light due to the snow storm and also that Joe sat next to
the driver during the entire trip. Why, you may ask, was Joe sitting
next to the driver important? Well, you see, the driver was
blindfolded and was being directed by Joe who was watching the
The team consisted of:
Top row left to right: Norm Shears, Joe
Bouzek, J. Fitzallen; middle row, L-R: AJ
Scott, WB Green, "Shorty" May, Herb Jackson; bottom row,
L-R: Ed Schafer, Vern Byers, Joe Marinelli.
If you look at the truck you can see a hole
on Joe's left where the camera was mounted and the antenna for
transmitting the signal.
The camera was alternately installed in the
nose of an AVRO ANSON V light attack bomber. It was by this
plane that the Peace Tower of the Parliament of Canada came "under
The Anson was flown by two pilots,
F/L Cowan and F/O Winkler, both of whom were veterans of the famous
617 Squadron of the RAF, the "Dam
Busters". For those who do not know, in 1943, 617
Squadron attacked a number of dams on the Ruhr River in Germany using
skipping bombs dropped from incredibly low altitudes.
Seems that this low flying skill was advantageous
for the "flying bomb" project.
their first flying operation, the plane flew at a scant few feet above the ground
and "targeted" the drill hall at Clinton Air Base. The
occupants of the drill hall stared in horror at the plane screaming towards
them. Good fun and great science!
In Halifax they took off from Greenwood Air
Base, dived to the deck over the Halifax Harbour and "targeted"
the big red cross on a moored hospital ship.
But the "piece de resistance"
came on March 17 when the Anson departed Ottawa's Uplands Air Base
and flew at less than 200 feet right up the middle of Metcalfe Street in
Ottawa with a bead on the clock of the Peace Tower of the Parliament
Buildings. The roar of the low flying bomber must have wakened the
Parliamentarians because they contacted the Defence Department,
then on Elgin Street, to complain about the noise. The Anson was contacted to
stop the demonstration but the order came too late, the plane was already
on its second pass. They broke off the flight within a couple of
hundred metres of the Parliament Building and flew to the area of
Britannia Beach in the west end of Ottawa. From there they made
their last "attack" of the day, targeting the Alexandria Bridge near the
By the end of the war the project led by
SGT. Joe Bouzek was terminated. All that remains of the "flying
bomb" project are Joe Bouzek's memories, some fading photographs and,
of course, this story at Mysteries of Canada.