January/February, 1964, The Roundel
Of the 4,027 RCAF officers awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during the Second World War, less than 470 are still with the regular force. Now that retirements are hitting the age group pretty heavily, wearers of the blue and white ribbon symbolic of aerial gallantry are becoming even rarer. But the rarest ribbon of all is that worn by F/L J. A. Loftus, DFC, because he doesn’t have an aircrew wing.
How could it be that a man who never qualified as RCAF aircrew won this highly respected flying award? The following citation for the DFC tells the story:
“In his special duties as cine camera operator, F/L Loftus has done much valuable work providing records of some of the attacks against such heavily defended targets as Konigsberg, Brunswick and Karlsruhe. He also filmed the sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz. In December, 1944, during an attack against Brunswick, in spite of difficulties caused by severe icing, he obtained an outstanding photo record of the attack. Throughout his operational career F/L Loftus has shown the utmost enthusiasm and his outstanding skill and determination enabled him to bring back first-rate films, in spite of adverse weather and intense opposition from the enemy’s defenses.”
Film shot by this former public relations photographer was seen by thousands of Canadians during the war in newsreels distributed to theatres throughout the Commonwealth and, thanks to the medium of television, his graphic artistry has been witnessed by millions more who saw the National Film Board series “Canada at War.”
Next month F/L Loftus, who started out as the RCAF’s first operational cine photographer and became the service’s only non-aircrew DFC winner, retires from his post as technical services officer of the Photographic Establishment, Rockcliffe, the unit at which he first served after enlisting in May, 1937.
This article originally appeared in January/February, 1964 edition of The Roundel