Harold Kearl was born December 10, 1922 in Cardston, Alberta, where he grew up on a farm with nine siblings. He attended school in that town, where he did well, and all the while he kept busy doing chores on the farm. He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, and while he remembers men riding the rails and the dust storms Harold also remembers neighbours helping one another during those lean years. The war came in 1939, and Harold’s older brother Eldon joined the RCAF, and Harold soon followed in his footsteps, going into the British Commonwealth Air Training Program and earning his wings. Harold did his training at the different schools in Alberta, including High River and Claresholm. When he was waiting to go overseas, his parents received the telegram that his older brother Eldon had gone missing on his 18th mission. They still attended Harold’s wings ceremony, and Harold set off for Quebec and Halifax, and then he went overseas. After additional training in England, Harold was crewed up and assigned to RAF base Newton, and 432 Squadron. Harold piloted Halifax and Lancaster bombers, including the famed Willie the Wolf, a Halifax that was able to complete 67 missions. Harold and his crew flew many missions over German territory, dodging flak and fighters and dealing with cold weather and all the other perils that confronted the crews of Bomber Command. At war’s end Harold was transferred to Transport Command, flying DC-3 Dakotas on the continent, delivering needed supplies to Germany and elsewhere. While there, Harold asked to go to Berlin; he knew that his brother’s plane had gone down east of Berlin, and Harold wanted to find where he had been buried. Finding Eldon took Harold down a bit of a bureaucratic maze as he had to contend with the fact that Eldon’s remains were in the Soviet zone of occupation. But with help from Canadian and Soviet authorities – and the German farmer who had buried Eldon – Harold found his older brother’s final resting place, achieving a sense of closure for the family. Harold Kearl was interviewed over zoom by Crestwood students in January 2023.
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