The Airmen's Stories - F/O H deM Molson
Hartland de Montarville Molson was born in Montreal on 29th May 1907, the son of a wealthy family, with large commercial interests which included a brewery.
Molson first attended Bishops College School in Quebec. The family then settled briefly in England and Molson was sent to Charterhouse.
After returning to Canada, he went back to Bishops College School for a year and was then sent to the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ontario.
Above: Northolt 1940
Left to right: F/O OJ Peterson, F/O J-PJ Desloges, F/O PB Pitcher and F/O H deM Molson
Molson went to Paris in the late 1920s and became an unpaid apprentice at the Banque Adam in Paris, to learn French. After he returned to Canada Molson became an accountant and learned to fly.
A fellow-pupil was Billy Bishop, fighter ace of the 1914-18 War, who was retraining on modern aircraft.
Molson and Bishop started a charter flying business but he later entered the family brewery business and gave up the charter business. Molson served in the Canadian Militia from 1928 to 1933, in the 27th Field Battery.
Above on the voyage to the UK (L to R): F/O H deM Molson, F/O PB Pitcher, F/O AD Nesbitt, F/Lt. J-P J Desloges
He joined the RCAF in 1939 and was serving with No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron when it arrived in the UK on 20th June 1940. He was attached to RAF Uxbridge from 10th to 15th July for a short R/T procedure course.
He damaged a Do17 on 26th August, damaged two Me110s on 4th September and claimed a He111 destroyed on 11th September.
Molson was shot down during combat with enemy fighters over Canterbury on 5th October, baled out, wounded, and was admitted to Chartham Hospital. His Hurricane, P3873, crashed at Deering Farm, Smarden. It was his last operational flight.
He was posted to 112 (RCAF) Squadron, a holding unit, on 5th October as non-effective sick. On 7th November 1940 Molson was notified of an impending posting back to Canada. This came in early 1941. After returning he went on a speaking tour of Canada and America.
He commanded 118 (Auxiliary) Squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia from 23rd July 1941 to 14th June 1942, operating Kittyhawks in defence of Canada’s East coast. From 15th June to 6th September 1942 Molson commanded 126 (RCAF) Squadron on similar duties, equipped with Hurricanes.
He later became RCAF Director of Personnel and Honorary ADC to the Governor-General, the Earl of Athlone.
In 1945 Molson retired from the RCAF as a Group Captain.
He was made an OBE (gazetted 1st January 1946).
Very prominent in Canadian business circles, he was appointed a Senator, Dominion of Canada in July 1955.
Molson died on 28th September 2002.