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CF-100 squadron shenanigans

StorIES by charles alexander and DICK BENTHAM

F/Os Dick Bentham and Bob Burnie

The 409 Squadron porcupine perps: F/O Dick Bentham and his nav, F/O Bob Burnie. (DND photo)

BOYS WILL BE BOYSCharles Alexander and Dick Bentham
The morale of 433 Squadron in the late-fifties was very high, and of course, the porcupine was a central unifying symbol. The squadron song was to the tune “Men of Harlech”:

Checkerboards are on the line,
Symbol of the Porcupine,

Don’t forget our famous motto,
“Qui s’y frotte s’y pique”

For us, “qui s’y frotte s’y pique” translated freely as, “Frig around with the Porcupine and you get a quill up the ass.”

433 Squadron would exchange a crew with 409 Squadron of the Royal B.C. Air Force from time to time, presumably to give the Nighthawks a taste of reality. As trophy hunting was quite popular, our two stuffed porcupines were sealed in a glass cabinet downstairs in the mess. A 409 crew, after completing a two-week tour with 433, celebrated the occasion at Friday night beer call and prepared for an early Saturday morning departure. One outstanding member of our squadron, Ron Button, had an incipient criminal mind, which is probably why he rose to the rank of General. Ron suspected the 409ers of coveting our porcupines, so, heedless of the hazards, rose early that Saturday morning to find his worst fears confirmed. One of the porcupines and the 409 crew had departed simultaneously minutes before. Undaunted, he phoned our refuelling men at Lakehead giving them careful instructions.

The would-be thieves, predictably, landed and went to the snack bar for breakfast. The refuellers parked their bowser between the CF-100 and the snack bar, dropped the gun bay door, removed the porcupine, replaced the door and spirited it to safety.

Meanwhile, Ron sent a friendly signal to the OC 409 Squadron explaining that one of his crews had lifted our porcupine and recognizing the spirit in which the act was done, we would appreciate its safe return at the earliest convenience. The time was 0900 hours EST.

A couple of hours later, by which time the Nighthawks were still plodding over the prairies, Ron sent another signal, a little crisper in its tone, requesting the immediate return of the porcupine. By this point, the bar was open at North Bay. A leisurely consultation resulted in a third signal being sent, to be delivered just before the arrival of the 409 crew at Comox. This one was downright cool, demanding an explanation for the theft of the porcupine.

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