Preparation
  Flight Sergeant Thomas Merchant- 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit  
 

Flight Sergeant Thomas James Kenifick Merchant - RCAF

 

 

 

 Also known by his crew as "Yogi" or "QBJ", Ken Merchant was born on February the 19th 1925 in Toronto, Ontario and enlisted in the RCAF in 1943 He was posted to Manning Depot at Lachine, Quebec in May 1943 and ITS in Toronto.

 He took his wireless training at No 4 Wireless School, Guelph,Ontario and Bombing and Gunnery School at No 2 B&GS Mossbank, Saskatchewan, graduating as a Sergeant WAG in April 1944.

 After embarking on the Empress of Scotland in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he arrived in Scotland on June 24th 1944. He attended an AFU at Innsworth, Gloucestershire before returning to No 3 PRC at Bournemouth. He was then posted to No 20 OTU at Lossiemouth, Scotland where he joined the Sumner crew.

The crew consisted of:

 

Name Service Trade Hometown 
F/O “Bill” Sumner  RCAF Pilot London, Ontario
Sgt Jim “Jock” Oliver  RAFVR Flight Engineer Edinburgh, Scotland
F/O Jim O’Neil  RCAF Navigator London, Ontario
F/Sgt William Lloyd Fulford  RCAF Bomb Aimer Clinton, Ontario
F/Sgt T. "Yogi" Merchant  RCAF W/Op/AG Toronto, Ontario
W/O Harry Armstrong RAAF M/U  Gunner Allendale, Australia
F/O Bill Gordon RCAF Rear  Gunner Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

 

 Ken acquired the nickname of “Yogi” due to his “Russian dancing” on the mess hall  table He was also referred to as “QBJ” after an incident in which he sent a query to Base on the wireless asking for the cloud height when they were flying on instruments socked in 10/10ths cloud on a sim bombing flight. After they returned to base the Skipper was “given a right rocket” by Flying Control as to why his WAG had used an obsolete code, and how could they possibly know the height of the cloud tops anyhow? These nicknames were used as commonly as his given name and Ken was a well-liked and affable member of the Sumner crew.

 After the crew was split up, he was stationed at RAF Tholthorpe and RAF Eastbourne and in January 1946, he sailed for Canada on the Queen Elizabeth, from Southampton via New York City.

 After the war Ken and his wife Mary eventually settled in Rochester, New York where he worked as a Graphic Artist. After being unexpectedly widowed, Ken moved to his son Jim’s home (USAF retired) in Omaha, Nebraska.

 F/Sgt. Thomas Merchant, the last of the five Ontario boys who crewed up together passed away on June 26, 2011. He is survived by his three children, Jim, John & Mary Louise, as well as his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

 

 Photo courtesy of the Bill Sumner and Ken Merchant, research by Linda Ibrom.