Steve Oancia, the bomb aimer in Ken Brown’s crew on the Dams Raid, came from a tiny farming community near Stonehenge in the south of Saskatchewan province, Canada. He crewed up with Ken Brown during training, and stayed with the crew until it disbanded in May 1944. Brown was also a “prairie boy”, born and brought up in the town of Moose Jaw, some 70 miles from Stonehenge. Oancia received the DFM for his role in dropping AJ-F’s Upkeep mine at the Sorpe Dam. The weapon did some damage to the dam but it failed to breach it.
Oancia returned to Canada after the war and became a civil engineer after studying at the University of Alberta. He died in 1999. A few years later, his cousin Clarence Oancia was clearing out the family farmhouse after it was sold and came across his RCAF uniform jacket, hanging in a closet in the attic. Fortunately for posterity, he retrieved it, and now the family have decided to donate it to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario. The full story is told in a post on the blog of Canadian writer Ted Barris, author of Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid against Nazi Germany (HarperCollins 2018).
Bernie Wyatt, a cousin of Steve Oancia, presents Oancia’s wartime uniform jacket to Erin Napier of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario. Pic: Bernie Wyatt