Gilbert Peter Mallon Hardesty

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Squadron 103 R.A.F : Lest we forget

Flight Sergeant, Squadron 103, Royal Air Force

103 Squadron Crest.png
103 Squadron Crest.png

Official Squadron crest for Squadron 103 R.A.F. Obtained from
Service Personnel Information
  • Name: Gilbert Peter Mallon Hardesty
  • Service Regimental Number: R59562
  • Rank: Flight Sergeant
  • Height/weight: 5'2 and a half, 144 pounds
  • Colour of eyes: light brown
  • Marital status: single
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Address: 122 Hart Avenue, Winnipeg, Mb
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): John Barron Hardesty (father)
  • Date of enlistment: June 10th, 1940
  • City and province of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba


Gilbert Peter Mallon Hardesty is a World War II air force veteran. He was born on February 15th, 1914 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on June 10th, 1940. Gilbert was later transferred to the Royal Air force of Britain (RAF) in which he joined squadron 103, which was the same squadron his brother (Benedict Joseph Hardesty). Gilbert was a flight sergeant and flew in the Vickers Wellington. He was in the air force for two years before he passed away on January 15th, 1942 (Military records).

Gilbert was a single Roman Catholic from Winnipeg and lived with his mother and a father (John Barron Hardesty and Theresa Mallon) who were British. They lived on 122 Hart Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Gilbert attended St Paul’s College high school and upon joining the air force he was a “beer waiter” in Winnipeg. Gilbert was a very good athlete and played many sports including hockey, lacrosse, golf, skiing and swimming, he also enjoyed photography. He enlisted on June 10th, 1940 in Winnipeg. He was 5 ft 2 and a half and weighed 144 pounds at the time of enlistment (military records).

He originally began with the Royal Canadian Air Force. His training began in Winnipeg and was later transferred to camp Borden, Ontario on August, 20th 1940. Only to be transferred to Regina, Saskatchewan eleven days later. That wasn’t his home for long as yet again he was transferred on October, 13th 1940, to Calgary, Alberta (Military records). Shortly after arriving in Calgary Gilbert was given notice that because of his parents British citizenship that he would be joining his brother and squadron 103 of the Royal Air Force of Britain.

Gilbert was a flight sergeant and flew in the famous Vickers Wellington. The Wellington first flew in 1939 and remained in service as a land bomber for five and half years. The Vickers Wellington appears to look very modern but was in fact very old technologically even for the 1930’s. It was slow in speed, had a limited ceiling and could only carry a very small bomb load which lead to its abandonment only a few years after it was created. Hardesty would have sat in the small glassed in cubical at the nose of the plane and shot at enemies and enemy targets (IPMS Stockholm, 2006).

He was part of Squadron 103 of the Royal Air Force which was formed in Beaulieu Hampshire, on September 1st 1917. During the World War II Squadron 103 made short range day and night bombing attacks. The motto for Squadron 103 (in latin) is “Noli me tangere” meaning “touch me not”. The crest for Squadron 103 R.A.F is a swan with its wings elevated and addorsed. They chose the swam because it has strong wings and is very well able to defend itself (RAF history, 2005).

Hardesty was announced dead on January.15th 1942, it was reported that his plane was shot down during flying missions over Parnewinkel, Bemervorde, Germany. Parnewinkel is about 90 kms from Hamburg Germany, which was a huge target during World War 2 because of its many shipyards, U-boat pens, and oil refineries. On the night of January 14th/15th , 1942 “95 aircrafts with shipyards and an airframe factory as targets. 2 Hampdens and 2 Wellingtons lost. Only 48 aircraft claimed to have bombed Hamburg, which reports Altona station hit and 12 fires - 7 large, with 6 people killed and 22 injured - but no other major incidents.” (RAF history, 2005). One of those two Vickers Wellingtons shot down was Gilbert Peter Mallon Hardesty and squadron 103. It is unknown what they were shot down with and if they were shot down flying back from Hamburg or on their way to Hamburg. He was announced missing on January 29th,1942 and was officially announced dead on April 18th, 1942. He is buried in Becklingen Was Cemetery in Soltau, Niedersachsen, Germany.

Gilbert appears to have been a very pleasant young man who loved his country and had lots of friends. He did not have a very good job in Winnipeg and probably saw the war as an opportunity for a change and to show his pride and love for his country and the people. He was a well decorated war veteran with many medals. The first medal he received was a 1939-45 Star, this is awarded for “six months service on active operations for the Army and Navy and two months for active air-crew service”. The next medal he received was an Air Crew Europe Star, “awarded for two months of operational flying from the UK over Europe”. He was also awarded a War Medal for full-time personnel of the Armed Forces. Lastly he received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal along with a clasp which is a military decoration (Veteran Affairs Canada, 2011).

Gilbert Peter Mallon Hardesty, is just one of the thousands of men who bravely fought and lost their lives in World War II. These men are the true heroes of our country, they all deserve so much respect and will never be forgotten. They didn’t fight for the money or the fame, they fought for us, their families, friends and for the love of our great country.

Lest we forget

Military Service Record

  • Age (at death): 28 years old
  • Force: Royal Canadian Air Force, later transferred to the Royal Air Force
  • Unit: 103 (R.A.F.)
  • Service Number: R59562
  • Honours and Awards: 5 (see essay)
  • Photograph: Of grave and squadron 103 (R.A.F.)
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): John Barron Hardesty
  • Date of Death: January 15th, 1942
  • Country of Burial: Germany
  • Cemetery: Becklingen War Cemetary
  • Grave Reference: 26.C.7
  • Location: Soltau, Germany
  • Book of Remembrance: Page 79

Grave Reference

  • Name of Cemetery: Becklingen War Cemetery
  • Grave Reference: 26.C.7
-The Becklingen War Cemetery is a military cemetery located in the state of Lower Saxony in north Germany on the Luneburg Heath. It was built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who continue to look after it today. The cemetery lies near Getrudenhof near the village of Becklingen.

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picture of cemetery diagram:

Picture of Grave:

Additional information/links

Vickers Wellington, the plane Gilbert flew in.
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Officially announced dead:
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Works Cited

“Campaign Diary January 1942.” R.A.F Bomber Command. Delta Web International Ltd, 6 Apr. 2005. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <__>.

Fell, David W. “Summary of the History of the 103 Squadron, Royal Air Force.” The RAF Elsham Wolds Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <__>.

Fells, David. “103 Squadron Royal Air Force pictures.” flickr. Yahoo, Account: EW103576, 8 Jan. 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <__>.

Manitoba Library Consortium. Manitobia. the Project, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <__>.

- - -. Manitobia. the Project, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <__>.

Veteran Affairs Canada. "Campaign Stars and Medals (1939-1954)."Veterans Affairs Canada. Canada, 4 Oct.2011. Web. 10 May 2012. <>

Waligorski, Martin. “Vickers Wellington Mk. X in Detail .” IPMS Stockholm. N.p., 22 June 2002. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <__

The War Graves Photographic Project. “Gilbert Peter Mallon Hardesty.” The War Graves: Photographic Project. Web of Knowledge, 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <__>.

Archive Resources

Military Service Files of GIlbert Peter Mallon Hardesty (R59562) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.