Friday, November 11, 2011

"HERO = ZERO" by Robert Lavack

Robert Lavack (third from the left) with friends, WWII
/Click on image to Enlarge/

Under this working title, Robert Lavack is writing a fact-filled memoir of his life. Born and raised in Canada's west, and later working as a citizen of the world, Robert's extraordinary World War II experiences make compelling reading in the heart of an engrossing life. Friendship with Norval Morrisseau, aerial geological surveys in Canada's north, near death flying adventures in Africa and brief commercial forays into chemical toilets, sugar beet grinders and zeppelins are just a few of Mr Lavack's post WWII adventures.

Below is a lesson from the Durham West Art Centre's Reading and Remembrance project 2005. and

Robert "Kurt" Lavack was a young Canadian lad in the merchant marine when his boat was torpedoed. As one of six survivors, he was taken to Britain where he could choose training in the Royal Air Force. He was trained and flew 84 bombing missions-a remarkable feat considering the tremendous casualty rate of British and Canadian airmen.

"My first tour was 250 combat hours on fighters. This tour started in the UK and culminated in the Middle East during the first and second battles of El Alamein. Then I made the mistake of volunteering for bombers to get out of the Middle East. My first bomber tour started in the UK but half way through our group was transferred to the Middle East. Bomber tours in the UK were 30 operations (raids), but when we were transferred to the Middle East this had increased to 40 operations. Supporting the invasion of Sicily and Italy resulted in losses of crew and slow replacements. Like many other RAF aircrew, my tour was extended. My tour terminated at 47 raids. My second bomber tour was out of Italy and was a 30 raid tour. The old loss and no replacement formula persisted and as a result, I did 37 raids on that tour."

Robert Lavack in the Western Desert (Egypt) in 1942
/Click on image to Enlarge/

The photo showing me half inside my tent was taken in the Western Desert in 1942 during the first Battle of El Alamein. My squadron was based south of Sidi Barrani when Rommel captured Tobruk in June 1942 and the British forces started their withdrawal to the El Alamein line. We lived rather rough like in the army. The dug out tent wasn't mandatory, but it tended to be safer in bombing and strafing attacks. Water was rationed and the diet was mainly bully beef, tinned potatoes, pickles, hardtack, jam and tea. A good evening snack was to fry the hardtack in butter and eat it warm with jam. We would occasionally get eggs from Bedouins who passed through the area with their camels and sheep. They wanted dry tea and we had lots of that but limited water. Washing was a luxury but we could occasionally take a trip to the ocean about 20+ miles north and soak in the sea."

Mr Lavack, now living in the Czech Republic on a posting with his Swedish Diplomat wife is writing the stories of his war years.

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