Fred Moritz and his Lancaster, somewhere in England, 1942. (The Memory Project)

PHOTOS: Maple Ridge honours 100-year-old Second World War gunner

Fred Moritz was awarded a medal by King George IV for taking down a German night fighter plane

A Second World War veteran who ended his military career with eight medals was recognized for his service by the City of Maple Ridge on his 100th birthday.

Flight Lt. Fred Moritz, now a Maple Ridge resident, was born on Sept. 14, 1919, in Gull Lake, Sask., said city councillor Ahmed Yousef, who was at the presentation ceremony in council chambers on Sept. 24.

In 2010, Moritz recounts his experience during the war in an interview for The Memory Project, an initiative of Historica Canada.

“At the beginning of my first tour, you had a 20 per cent chance of completing 30 trips, which was not too great odds,” he said in the interview. “On operations, there is tension from the time that you leave the aerodrome [airfield] until you get rid of your bombs at the target, and then you sort of relax after, but not that much.”

On Wednesday, Moritz was the guest of honour at the Haney Rotary Club.

“It is important for us to recognize the sacrifices and service of all those who have answered the call of duty to defend our country, our values, and our principles,” said Yousef. “It also puts matters in perspective for us and upcoming generations as to how fortunate to have the liberties we enjoy everyday because of those who defended us with their lives.”

READ MORE: Coastal Rangers watched over B.C. during Second World War

Moritz joined the 14th Canadian Light Horse in July 1940 and in September transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to begin his training as a wireless operator/air gunner. Upon his graduation he was promoted to sergeant.

In May 1941 Moritz travelled to England to train with the No. 420 City of London Squadron RCAF on the Handley Page HP.52 Hampden, a British twin-engine medium bomber.

First flights were deployed in January 1942.

While returning from a night bombing mission over Germany, Moritz’s squadron was attacked by a German night fighter. Moritz was credited with the official shoot down, and for his actions was awarded the distinguished flying medal from King George VI at Buckingham Place.

“On this particular trip, we were going to Aachen in Germany and the pilot was new, the air gunner was new, and the navigator was inexperienced,” Moritz shared with The Memory Project. “On our way back, we were attacked… our rear gunner was wounded; I also was wounded… I had 400 rounds to do my best. Which when I opened up, I killed the pilot and the navigator… I pulled the wounded gunner up between my legs and saw that he was alright; and we preceded home, crash landed, but nobody got hurt and we survived the trip. And for that action, I received the Distinguished Flying Medal.”

In July 1942 Moritz began training on the Vickers Wellington, a long-range medium bomber. His completion of 30 missions earned a trip back home.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Maple Ridge students plant metal poppies at legion ahead of Remembrance Day

While on leave Moritz was promoted to the rank of flight lieutenant in February 1943.

In September 1943 Moritz answered the call of duty again and enlisted in another 20 missions. He was deployed to the No. 434 Rotary Club in Halifax, N. S.

In January 1947 Moritz finally retired, earning eight medals that recognized his years of service. During his time on the front lines Moritz accepted missions to Germany, France, Norway, and Italy.


@JotiGrewal_
joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

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Fred Moritz (bottom left) and his Lancaster bomber crew, Royal Air Force Station Croft, Yorkshire, England, 1944. (The Memory Project)

Air Gunners course at Royal Air Force Station Waddington, Lincolnshire, England, October 23, 1941. Fred Moritz is second from the left in the bottom row. (The Memory Project)

Fred Moritz (right) answered the call of duty during the Second World War and he was recognized for his years of service by Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden. (Ahmed Yousef/Special to the NEWS)

Fred Moritz (third from the left) poses with members of council in Maple Ridge. (Ahmed Yousef/Special to the NEWS)

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