Headlines

Hamilton WW2 hero destroyed an enemy plane with a load of bricks

One of 90-year-old Art Adams's best stories from World War II is what happened when an unarmed load plane he was flying in came across a downed Japanese seaplane in Burma.

Art Adams, 90, came up with an idea when his unarmed plane flew over a downed Japanese seaplane

      1 of 0

      A 90-year-old veteran in Dundas goes by a curious nickname: The Brick Bomber.

      The nickname's origins go back to one particular day in 1944 in the skies over Burma.

      Born in Hamilton in 1923, Art Adams wanted to become a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, but his eyesight was poor. Instead, he joined up and served as a kicker, the evocatively named precursor to what today's force calls a leading aircraftman.

      Planes would fly supplies to where the British and Allied forces were, trying to stop the advance of the Japanese through Burma to India. Once they found the British, Adams and his fellow ground crewmen would kick or push the supplies out of the plane to deliver them via parachute. 

      They'd open the doors of the DC-3 plane, and out would fall food, munitions, medical supplies — even donkeys ("liquored up" before the drop to keep them calm).

      "They had no way of transporting stuff in the jungle, except for the donkeys," Adams said. 

      'We'll get rid of some bricks'

      In 1944, several hundred Allied troops had set up a camp on Ramree Island where there was no cooking facility. Adams went with the 436 Squadron leader to an abandoned airfield on Akyab Island to pick up some bricks to bring back to build ovens with.

      As the plane made its way back, Adams spotted a downed Japanese plane on the beach. 

      "Art ran up to the pilot and said, 'Go round a couple of times, and we'll get rid of some bricks,'" said Sonja Cuming Adams, Art's wife.

      The plane was too heavy with bricks, anyway —it had struggled to take off. Adams's plan would lighten the plane's load. And it would make sure that the Japanese plane couldn't fly again. 

      Just in case the story seems hard to believe, Adams offers up some corroboration: There's a picture of that plane on that island, authenticated by a Japanese publication 12 years ago, he said.

      "The wings and tail are all riddled, and there's bricks on the ground," said Sonja Adams. "So it never flew again. So that's why they call him the one and only Brick Bomber."

      Now, decades after the war, Adams still goes into work as often as he can at the Credit Bureau of Hamilton. He and Sonja married four years ago, and they go for near-daily walks by nearby Webster's Falls.

      And every year he presents an award for current Air Force members. He took a regulation boot and bronzed it, a commemorative award to honour the best loadmaster each year in Squadron 436.

      "They vie for that," Sonja Adams said.

      Comments

      To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

      By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

      now