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Alexander, Orlin Ronald - Flight Lieutenant - Pilot (1944)

posted 11 Mar 2013, 17:05 by Bill Bishop   [ updated 2 Jun 2018, 21:40 ]

Flight Lieutenant Alexander (Serial # J4421) was from St. Thomas, Ontario and was killed 20 February 1944 at age 29.  

He is commemorated on Page 235 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.  

F/L Alexander was killed when his Mosquito aircraft (MM277) endeavoured to overshoot after the initial approach to land and crashed on the airfield at RAF Station Odiham, Hampshire, England.  P/O Cosoff (navigator) and an RAF ground crew member (on the ground), were also killed.  

E-mail sent by F/L Alexander's son Ken on April 26, 2013

I note that my father is listed on the web-site as being 22 at his death on Feb. 20, 1944 {corrected to 29}.  'Jake" was one of the older members of the squadron born on May 7, 1914 making him 29 at the time of his death.  I suspect that when the book (referred to on the web site) was being written the authors were unaware of his actual birth year and decided to simply give him an 'average' age at death of 22 (an error that would appear to have been carried over onto his grave  marker at Brookwood Cemetery, by the way).  In fact, he graduated from OAC in 1937  (where he had excelled at athletics) and worked at Toburn Mines in Kirkland Lake as a mining engineer (and an outstanding  baseball player) until his enlistment into the RCAF(at age 25) in 1940.  
(He had applied at the outbreak of war in 1939 but the RCAF was not organizationally equipped to handle increased enrolment at the time, and said they would call him to come down  to their recruiting office in North Bay when they could accommodate him).
Thank you so much for posting my mother's message on the web site, and for your continuing efforts on behalf of the former members and their families.  It is very much appreciated.
Best regards, Ken

A further e-mail sent by Ken ...

I think it would be 'neat' to have what F/L  Arthur Collins has referred to as the "Famous Photograph" taken of him and 'Jake' at the business end of a Mustang at Redhill, Surrey by the Toronto Star's Greg Clark in late 1943 that found it's way (posthumously) onto the D-Day edition of the Toronto Star, together with the article, made available on the web-site --- not so much because the photo catches the essence of two pilots in animated discussion with hands simulating the flying, but more so because of the fact that the article recognized the very important work the Squadron had been doing in the lead-up to the invasion -- the photorecce work that the article rightly referred to as "Ike's Eyes Over Europe".

Thanks to Ken we now have "the famous photograph" and the article from the Toronto Daily Star's D-Day issue of June 6, 1944

On June 2, 2012, 400 Squadron Dedicated our Monument to all 400 Squadron Members. On the rear of the monument is our "Honour Roll".  Many living relatives of members on our Honour Roll were invited.

Members of F/L Alexander's family attend 400 Squadron Monument Dedication

From left to right: Anda Alexander, Peter Sparrow, Ken Alexander and Mark Alexander

From left right: Barbara Smola, Peter Smola, Ken Alexander, Allan McChesney, Anda Alexander and Mark Alexander


F/L Alexander's widow, Grace Alexander Sparrow prepared this message to be played at the reception following the Monument Dedication Ceremony.  Due to technical difficulties it could not be shown on the large screen TV but key members of the 400 Squadron Historical Society were able to view it. 

F/L O.R. Alexander ‎[Form]‎

F/L O.R. Alexander