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Okanagan Military Museum

MILITARY BIOGRAPHIES

AIR VICE MARSHALL GORDON F. OCKENDEN




Distinguished Flying Cross

Air Vice Marshall Gord Ockenden, DFC, CD, had a distinguished career in Canada's air force during WWII and in the post war period. During WW II he flew with 443 Squadron, equipped the the nimble Spitfire fighter as part of the Canadian Fighter Wing flying in the skies over the Normandy battlefield and beyond.


443 Sqn crest

Gord and his fellow fighter pilots provided the air umbrella of allied air superiority that protected our ground troops during the desperate battles to establish a hold in occupied France followed by the advance towards Germany and the liberation of all of western Europe. The Spitfires cleared the skies of the German airforce, the once mighty Luftwaffe, and escorted fighter-bombers such as the much feared Typhoons on their relentless ground attacks against German forces. Allied air power was truly the guardian angel of the allied ground forces in fighting the powerful German armoured forces flung against the allies. On occasion the Spitfires themselves would go down on the deck to shoot up targets of opportunity. Indeed, this is how Field Marshall Rommel was wounded and taken out of the battle on the ground when his staff car was strafed by Spitfires.


A Spitfire as seen from the ground
during a low-level strafing attack

"This officer has proved himself a resourceful and efficient pilot whose fine fighting spirit, enthusiasm and devotion to duty merit high praise. He has completed numerous missions including escort and patrol sorties and bombing and low level attacks. He has destroyed or damaged at least thirty-five enemy vehicles and in addition he has destroyed four enemy aircraft and damaged one" , this describes Flying Officer Ockenden's contribution as a fighter pilot and underlines his award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Gord served in the wartime air force until he was demobilized in 1945. He rejoined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1946 and served until his retirement in 1978 having reached the rank of Air Vice Marshall. He served in a variety of positions in the air force including senior appointments within NATO and NORAD.



Newspaper photo of Gord at setup of air force display

After he retired from the Canadian Forces he entered a career in the civilian aviation industry. Gord settled in Kelowna in 1982 where he continued his contact with the aviation industry and pursued his interests in support of aviation and the air force. He served as a National Vice President for the Royal Canadian Air Force Association and as the Honorary Colonel for 443 Squadron. Gord also became involved with the Okanagan Military Museum Society and made a significant contribution to the creation of the Okanagan Military Museum. Gord made a tremendous impression on all who knew him and had the pleasure of working with him. He was much appreciated for his common sense, humility and sense of service to his fellows. He passed away in 2000.

 

 
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