Arthur Dwight Ross GC CBE CD (Direct Recipient)

b. 18/03/1907 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. d. 27/09/1981 Kingston, Ontario, Canada

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 28/06/1944 RAF Tholthorpe, Yorks.

Arthur Dwight Ross (1907-1981) was born on 18th March 1907 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and was the only child of Donald Ainsley and Maude Elizabeth Ross (nee Dwight). His grandfather was the Honourable Arthur Wellington Ross, a Member of Parliament who was heavily involved in the construction of Canadian Railways. His uncle, Hugo Prentiss Ross, sadly died aboard the Titanic in 1912, when Dwight (as he was more commonly known) was just 5.

Arthur D Ross

Dwight attended public school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario and then the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. On graduation from the RMC in 1928, he was appointed to a Permanent Commission in the Royal Canadian Air Force and on completion of flying training at Camp Borden, he was awarded his pilot’s wings. He then undertook training at Jericho Beach Station, Vancouver in Flying Boats and Seaplanes.

In April 1929, he transferred to Winnipeg Air Station and subsequently to Cormorant Lake, Manitoba for employment on Northern bush operations (transport, photo survey, forestry) in Northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North West Territories. For four months in 1929-30 he was employed in the construction of emergency fields and beacons from Regina to Winnipeg on the first Prairie Air Mail route. He returned to bush flying until moving to Camp Borden in the spring of 1931.

From 1931 to 1936 he was a flying instructor at Camp Borden and with the City of Toronto Auxiliary Squadron with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. This was followed by three years as a Personnel Staff Officer at Air Force HQ in Ottawa. In June 1935 he married Marguerite Wynn, and they had two daughters, Susan and Nancy. In June 1939 he transferred to RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and now a Wing Commander, was appointed Officer Commanding 5 General Reconnaissance Squadron. In October 1940 he was promoted to Group Captain and moved to Calgary to open and command 3 Service Flying Training School. He stayed until 1942, when a return to operational duties came at RCAF Station Sydney, Nova Scotia, where the Battle of Atlantic resumed.

In November 1942, he moved overseas to RAF Middleton St George in Yorkshire and Bomber Command. Three Canadian heavy bomber squadrons were based there, and formed the Canadian Bomber Group in January 1943. On 1st March 1944 he was appointed Air Commodore as Commander 62 Base Tholthorpe, consisting of three Stations and five Bomber Squadrons.

On 28th June 1944, at RAF Tholthorpe, a Halifax bomber crash-landed into another bomber that was in the dispersal area and fully loaded with bombs, bursting into flames. Ross, assisted by Corporal Maurice Marquet, extracted the pilot, who had suffered severe injuries. Then ten 500lb bombs about 30yds away exploded, throwing them to the ground. When the hail of debris had subsided, cries were heard from the rear turret of the crashed bomber. Despite the risk of further explosions, they returned to the blazing wreckage and looked in vain to swing the turret to release the gunner. Ross hacked at the glass with an axe and then handed it through a hole to the gunner who made the opening bigger. Taking the axe again, Ross managed to break in and extricate the gunner. Another 500lb bomb exploded, which threw the three men to the ground; St Germain quickly threw himself upon the gunner in order to shield him from flying debris. Ross’ arm was practically severed between the wrist and the elbow by the blast. He calmly went to the ambulance and an emergency amputation took place.

On 24th October 1944, the announcement was made of a George Cross to Dwight Ross, while Maurice Marquet and Joseph St Germain were awarded the George Medal. Following the recovery from his wounds, Dwight was moved to RCAF Overseas HQ in London. In March 1945 he returned to Canada and became Chief Staff Officer, No 1 Air Command in Trenton, Ontario. Later that year, he became Commandant of the RCAF Staff College in Toronto.

In August 1948, he moved to Ottawa and took the job of Air Officer Commanding Air Transport Command, and also acted as Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General of Canada, Viscount Alexander of Tunis. He retired from the RCAF after over 30 years’ service in 1961 and in the autumn of that year he took a qualifying course as a general insurance agent in Ontario and started work with W.A. Curtis & Co in Toronto until June 1962. In August 1962 he became Enrolment Director for the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation for South Eastern Ontario. He retired from this occupation in 1966.

In later years, he served as a member of the Ontario Committee of the Air Cadet League of Canada, executive on the Kingston branch of War Amputations, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Kingston Division, Corps of Commissionaires, and a member of the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto. Dwight died on 27th September 1981, aged 74, in Kingston, Ontario and was buried in Cataraqui Cemetery. His medal group including GC, CBE (awarded 1946), Canadian Forces Decoration with Two Bars, 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star with clasp “Air Crew Europe”, Defence Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp, War Medal 1939-45 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, 1953 QEII Coronation Medal, 1967 Canadian Centennial Medal and 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal were donated to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.