Cerro Gordo County

Lee Usher



Expect to Be in Royal Air Force by Next Summer

Two Mason Cityans, Lee Usher and L. A. "Doc" Ottaway, missing from the local scene for a little more than two months, were back home Tuesday wearing the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Force and telling stories of life at a Canadian aviation base. Both are here on passes for a few days freedom and relaxation before plunging back into the strict routine of preparing for an opportunity to do aerial battle against Adolf Hitler's dread luftwaffe in the skies over western Europe.

Ottaway, who was a foreman for the Allis-Chalmers company here, and Usher, who operated at truck line, both report that life at the air base where they are stationed is "not bad at all." It is the No. 7 bombing and gunnery school at Paulson, Manitoba, 215 miles north of Winnipeg.

They have been at Paulson for approximately two weeks, having previously been at Brandon, Manitoba. They left Mason City to enlist in the RCAF Aug. 18. They are stationed at present in what is known as a personnel holding unit, waiting until a vacancy comes up at an initial flight training school.

Neither of them has been taught anything about flying as yet, although Usher was previously a pilot under the civilian pilot training program here. Instruction to date has been in armament, air force procedure, mathematics, code and military drill.

Army life in the RCA begins at 6:30 a. m. and the men have an hour to get up, dress, make their bunks, shave and eat breakfast. Parade follows for a short period and the first class begins at 8:15. Three classes are held between then and noon and beginning at 1 o'clock three more classes are held.

Evenings are left to the men to use as they see fit and lights go out at 10:30 o'clock.

The local men were members of a group of approximately 300 men who went into the air force at the same time. Of this number, approximately half were Americans with Canadian, English, New Zealanders and Australians making up the rest.

Americans seem to play a big part in the RCAF, according to the local men, for many of the instructors come from this country. Some of them are veterans of Dunkirk and other air struggles overseas and many of the training planes are ones which saw service in action a year ago.

Expectations at present are that the local men will be overseas a year, after enlistment, they say. They expect to be sent to a flight training school at any time and will go overseas with approximately 250 hours of flight experience.

Pay in the RCAF amounts to approximately $1.30 a day in Canadian money. When they get overseas the men will be members of the Royal Air Force of Great Britain and will draw less.

The difference between the RCAF an RAF pay will be made up by the Canadian government, however.

Ottaway has lived in Mason City for approximately four years. Usher attended the Mason City junior college, and starred on football and basketball teams which won state titles for Mason City.

Usher plays on the basketball team which represents his flight in intra-camp play. The quintet proved so good, he reports, that is cleaned up on all the other teams in camp and then beat an all-star five made up of the best players the other teams had. Among the players on the team are former varsity competitors from Louisiana State university and Wabash university.

One of the things he misses most is American cigarets (sic), Ottaway says. They are almost impossible to get in Canada and the Canadian brands are not much good in his opinion. When American brands are available they are well liked but most of the Canadians but not generally by the British, he says. Usher doesn't care much what kind of cigarets (sic) are available. He doesn't smoke.

Usher and Ottaway report that they hear KGLO 215 miles north of Winnipeg at their training camp.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, Wednesday, October 29, 1941, Page 6


Some Mason Cityans, anxious to get into action in the battle against the axis, did not wait for the United States declaration of war but joined Canadian forces last fall. Of these, some are in active duty now after completing intensive training in Canada.

Lee Usher, leading aircraftsman, ranked second in examinations when graduated from flying school at Regina, Saskatchewan.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, October 30, 1942 (photo included)

35 Cerro Gordo Men Killed in Action in 2 ½ Years of War

Memorial Day this year marks almost 2 ½ years since the United States entered World War II.  Of the more than 11 million men serving with the U.S. armed forces at home and overseas, it is estimated that Cerro Gordo county has contributed 4,100 men.

Prisoners of war list:
Lee Usher, of Germans, June 1943.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 30, 1944