AIR VICE MARSHALL GORDON F. OCKENDEN
Distinguished Flying Cross
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
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
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
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
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.