Bert Ramsden (1921 – 2014): A Canadian War Hero

Written by Harold McNeill on November 10th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

In Memory of Herbert W. Ramsden
1921 – 2014

Herbert (Bert) W. Ramsden

On November 3, 2014 Pilot Officer Herbert (Bert) W. Ramsden, passed away peacefully at his home in Saanich, British Columbia. The young war hero and others who fought with him in the Second World War shall not be forgotten.

“At the age of 93, Bert joins his beloved wife, Marie who predeceased him in 2004, as well as parents, Joseph and Mercy and brothers, Cal (Eleanor) and Cec (Bess).  Born in Castor, Alta., Bert is survived by his son, Don (Nancy); daughter, Karen (Chip); grandchildren, Andrea (Chris), Jennie (Trevor), Jon, Jamie and Jeff and great-grandchild, Zachary.” (McCall’s Funeral Chapel)

memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 14, 2014  at
St. Aidan’s United Church, 3703 St. Aidan’s Street in Victoria.  

After a chance meeting at a Son’s of Norway dinner in early 2012, I continued to meet regularly with Bert over that spring to learn more about his years as a bomber pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Bert still had many photographs along with all his log books from the time he began training, until he mustered out in 1945.

His service with the RCAF included dozens of missions into the Fjords of Norway, where, in one battle that became known as Black Friday, eleven of Bert’s fellow pilots and navigators were killed. Bert and his co-pilot along with a few other aircraft from the 404 Beaufighter Squadron  managed to escape and return to base.  Over the course of several meetings Bert told me the full story of his war experience.  Thaty story, titled Black Friday in Norway, was written and posted in June, 2012.

Ninety-one at the time of our meetings, Bert was ever the affable pilot officer who was still more than able to charm the young women at our various coffee stops and restaurants we frequented along the way. While his vision was failing, his mind remained sharp as a tack and his easy going manner made him a hit.  Bert was also a humble man who did not think his actions in war were anything extraordinary – he was just doing his job.

The photos in the post and in the photo album attached to the post were copied mainly  from Bert’s personal files and from various Web Sites that carried information about Black Friday battle.  During the period of research and writing, an amazing coincidence became apparent with that coincidence being written up in a separate post (linked in the main story).

Tomorrow we shall take some time to remember Bert and the thousands of other young men and woman who left their homes, families, farms, businesses and careers to join in the Second World War effort in Europe and other parts off the world.  While Bert returned home without injury, many of his comrades in arms were not so lucky and it is on November 11 of each year we celebrate these young men and women whose sacrifice made to made our world a better place.  While I say that Bert returned without injury, it is clear he still carried with him, even at the age of 91, great sadness that he returned while so many of his flying comrades died in the battles in the skies above Norway and elsewhere.

We shall remember Bert.

Harold McNeill
November 10, 2014
Victoria, B.C.

Link to Black Friday in Norway

Link to an Amazing Coincidence

Remembering Viet Nam

Link to Remembrance Day 2012  (with photo of Lynn’s Dad and Mom at their wedding, in England, just before Lynn’s Dad left for the front in Italy).



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  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.