Military Ops





Group Captain Roy Foss

by R.G. Pelley

Group Captain Foss was Base Commander in Gander during the war and as his war record shows, served with great honour. A street, Foss Avenue, bore his name on the Canadian Side residential area.


G/C Foss extreme left in the rear


Military Record : Roy Holmes Foss.

FOSS, G/C Roy Holmes (C373) - Mention in Despatches - Station Gander - Awarded 1 January 1943 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 55/43 dated 15 January 1943.  Born at Sherbrooke, Quebec, 19 January 1896.  Trained in 1918; attended civil flying instructor's courses, 1928, 1929 and 1933.  Entitled to RCAF pilot's badge and appointed to be Flight Lieutenant on Non-Permanant Active List, in Montreal, 1 September 1934.  Served prewar in No.15 (F) Squadron, Non-Permanent Air Force; given command of No.115 (F) Squadron, 28 September 1938.  DHist file 181.009 D.3061 (RG.24 Vol.20635) has letter from Foss to AOC No.1 Group, St.John's, Newfoundland, dated 20 June 1942 giving much detail of his work.  In previous 7 1/2 months he had flown 140 hours 35 minutes. 

This included the following: 30 December 1941 and 1 January 1942, flew 13 hours 40 minutes searching for Digby 744 (not located); 2 January 1942 Digby 738 forced landed at Wellington, Fresh Water Bay, Newfoundland; Foss flew a doctor and mechanic to within half a mile of the site, had medical assistance rendered within 75 minutes of forced landing, and had aircraft towed to a place where it could be salvaged; 28 January to 1 February 1942 flew 16 hours 20 minutes searching for Hudson 768, landing at several difficult sites to gather information; from information gained at Alexander Bay station, it was possible to locate the lost Hudson, fly in and bring out two crewmen who were suffering terribly from exposure and could not make dog team trip to Grand Falls.  Three trips made to site of crash, but on last one he had to leave alone following magneto failure.  All landings made in small burnt area surrounded by dead trees.  2 March 1942 at request of Newfoundland government he flew a Fox Moth to Musgrave Harbour and evacuated a Mrs. Vincent+ (labour and acute appendicitis); baby girl born 21 hours after arrival at Gander; 2 March 1942 (evening), night flight of 90 minutes searching for Ferry Command personnel who had become lost skiing.  Dropped flares over airport which enabled the man to find his way back, though with both feet badly frozen; 11 March 1942, co-pilot with F/L Cameron, Digby 577, conducting Atlantic ice patrols; located main seal herds which were photographed and reported to Sealing Fleet; 22 March 1942 flew Mrs. Vincent and baby back to Musgrave Harbour, a trip that would otherwise have required a five-day dog team trip (requested by Newfoundland government); 29 March 1942 with F/L Graham flew to Burlington and Fleur-de-Lis to investigate and treat patients (meningitis epidemic), landing on ice in both places; probably five lives saved by early treatment; 3 April 1942 with F/L Graham flew to Musgrave Harbour at request of Newfoundland government to retrieve sick nurse.  Landing conditions very bad owing to soft, wet snow.  He made one flight to evacuate nurse, then returned to bring out Graham, needing 14 attempts to effect two takeoffs; 26 April 1942 flew S/L Hobbs to Silverdale where woman was reported in four-day labour; could not land within eight miles of village and returned to Gander.  Granted Air Efficiency Award, 20 September 1944.

Group Captain Foss as Commanding Officer of an RCAF Operational Station has flown many wearisome hours under adverse weather conditions on searches for lost aircraft and in the rescue of aircrew personnel.  He showed courage and resolution in landing and taking off in small hazardous places and undoubtedly saved service crews from hardships and danger of freezing.  His ability as a pilot was also demonstrated in landing and taking off in difficult circumstances while on mercy flights, undoubtedly saving lives.  He completed on one occasion thirteen hours flying on search.  Most of this flying was completed on light aircraft which was the only means of successful operation.

FOSS, G/C Roy Holmes (C373) - Officer, Order of the British Empire - No.10 Repair Depot - Award effective 13 June 1946 as per Canada Gazette of that date and AFRO 660/46 dated 5 July 1946.  Presented with OBE insignia, 11 March 1949.  Governor General's Record (RG.7 Group 26, Volume 60, file 190-I, dossier 9) has citation.

researched by R G Pelley



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