Arnett, Rex

Rex Arnett was born November 12, 1924 in Toronto.  He grew up in the city’s east end, in the Danforth-Woodbine neighbourhood.  Rex and his friends kept busy playing all kinds of sports, and against the backdrop of the Great Depression Rex worked as a delivery boy for a local drugstore.  He was attending De La Salle high school, but in 1942 – now 18 years old –  he left school and opted to join the RCAF, where he trained to be a wireless air gunner.  He went into the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, where Calgary would be his first stop.  In fairly short order he was sent to an OTU in the Bahamas, where he was crewed up.  They then went north and returned to Canada, where Halifax and the troopship to Britain awaited them.  Rex became ill during that journey, and on arrival in Scotland he was hospitalized in Glasgow.  His stay in hospital was brief, and he quickly rejoined the crew, assigned to 223 Squadron.  They flew B-24 Liberators, and played an important role in RAF Bomber Command, tasked with radar-jamming activities.  Rex flew 19 missions with his original crew, and then he was grounded by the base doctor with a respiratory condition.  His crew flew without him that fateful night – February 21, 1945 – and they were shot down, with most of the crew killed.  Rex went on to fly several more missions with other crews as the war was winding down, and he finished at 21 missions.  He was on his way back to Canada on the Queen Elizabeth in December 1945.  There he connected with Jeanne, and the two went on to have 73 years together.  Rex Arnett was interviewed by Scott Masters at his home north of Toronto in December 2023.  We’d like to thank Zach Dunn for the connection to Rex; Zach’s interview with Rex can be seen at