THE DUTTON LEGACY
Only our more senior readers, or possibly hockey historians, will have heard of Mervyn Dutton, better known as "Red", who lived a remarkable life. Born in Russell, Manitoba, Red lied about his age to enlist in WW I and saw plenty of action in France and was badly wounded at Farbus Wood(Vimy) in 1917.
Doctors despaired of saving his leg but Red would not hear of amputation. He spent 18 months in hospitals and found his way to Winnipeg in 1919 and announced his intention to be a professional hockey player. With sheer grit and rigorous physical training he made the grade and turned pro with Calgary in the Western Hockey League.
In 1926 Red began a 10-year career in the NHL, first as the rugged and much-penalized defenseman of the old Montreal Maroons and later with the New York Americans. He retired as a player in 1936 and carried on as coach of the New York team for five more years until the team folded due to dwindling crowds following Pearl Harbour.
Red returned to his adopted home in Calgary where he operated a successful construction business. He and his associates laid down many of the airfields across the Prairies for training aircrew under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Red maintained his association with hockey and was for a short time Managing Director of the NHL and a Trustee of the Stanley Cup for almost 40 years. He passed away in 1987.
Not so well known are the tragic losses suffered by the Dutton family in WWII in losing two air-gunner sons in Bomber Command. Joseph Mervyn Dutton, 419 Squadron RCAF was shot down on a raid to Essen in June 1942 on his 30th operation. In March 1943, Joe's younger brother Tom did not return from an operation over Germany. He was a proud member of 427 RCAF Squadron based at Croft, Yorks and flying Wellingtons at the time.
I was newly arrived on the squadron but I knew two members of his crew having trained with them in Canada. The names of the Dutton brothers are among the 20,450 Commonwealth Air Force personnel inscribed on the Runnymede War Memorial as having no known grave. It was all so very long ago but there is a rightful place in history for two generations of the Dutton family marked by courage and sacrifice.
Thanks to Vern White
No. 6 Group flew a total of 40,822 sorties from 1943 to 45 which totalled almost 300,000 operational hours flown. There were 1,312 encounters with enemy aircraft reported during this period and unfortunately 814 aircraft were listed as missing. 2,222 gallantry awards were won.
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