Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Art Adams was affectionately known as “The Brick Bomber”

Art Adams Dec 30 1923 Apr 1 2018

A large gathering filled the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum hangar on May 5 to bid farewell to Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Art Adams and remember his outstanding military and business accomplishments. Art died in his 95th year at St. Joseph’s Villa in Dundas on April 1, surrounded by his loving wife Sonja, family and friends. A member of 447 Wing, he served 436 Squadron with distinction in the Second World War and was honorary colonel of the 436 at CFB Trenton from 2004 and 2007.

It was especially impressive that an RCAF contingent from the 436 flew in to the CWHM from Trenton to attend the Celebration and Service. BGen Colin Kiever, Commanding Officer of the 436 from 2010 to 2012 and 8 Wing Trenton Commander from 2015 to 2017, was among the speakers who paid tribute to Art’s wartime RCAF service in Burma where 436 and 435 Squadrons flying Dakotas were known as “Canucks Unlimited.”

As the eulogists recalled, difficult conditions in the Far East were exemplified by forbidding jungle warfare, deadly snakes and “near misses.” Art served as an airframe mechanic and kicker for 10 months in 1944-45. Kickers, as the name suggests, kicked loads of supplies, food and ammunition equipped with parachutes out of open cargo doors to the troops below. Also known as loadmasters, they were often shot by enemy soldiers and completed their jobs, usually without the comfort of a safety harness.

Whatever the danger, Adams told the Flamborough Review in a 2010 interview that he got use to being shot at. “I enjoyed flying so whenever I had a chance to go on a trip, I would go,” he said. “There were (bullet) holes in the airplane when we came back, but we were never shot down.”

Art’s famous “Brick Bomber” incident occurred aboard a Dakota that was flying down the Burmese coast to Ramree Island, to maintain supplies to the British 14th Army which was advancing on the Japanese. Ramree had been shelled and extensively damaged. S/L Dick Denison was instructed to fly a load of bricks to Ramree so the cooks could build ovens to serve the squadron’s messing needs.

A Dakota piloted by Denison was transporting the bricks and couldn’t gain altitude, due to being overloaded. Just as this became apparent, L.A.C. Adams spotted a Japanese seaplane that had been beached on a small island. Someone shouted, “Let’s get rid of some bricks!” The paradrop bell and lights came on, the signal to “Do the drop.” During a few low passes, Adams pushed out as many bricks as he could. It’s believed to be the only bombing raid in the Second World War done with bricks. Denison later landed the Dak like a feather. It had been overloaded by 2000 pounds! Decades later, a Japanese wartime photo surfaced showing a badly damaged seaplane surrounded by bricks.

In 2010, Art was among three Canadian vets who, on the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, were recognized for their selfless contributions to the war effort with a commendation from Veterans Affairs Canada at a special ceremony in Ottawa. Art was moved that the federal government had recognized the sometimes overlooked service of as many as 10,000 Canadians who served in the Far East, including more than 500 who died there.

As a longtime friend of the CWHM, Art enjoyed a close association with the museum’s “Canucks Unlimited” DC-3 that is flown at air shows across Ontario and beyond. For more than 50 years, he chaired the 435-436 Burma Squadrons Association.

It was typical of Art that in June, 2010, he launched the Art Adams Kicker Cup at CFB Trenton to honour those who make parachute drops of supplies to the troops on the ground. He decided to donate the trophy of bronzed boots because he felt it was time to remember those who played key roles in the Burma conflict. The recipient of the inaugural cup was a Canadian loadmaster serving in Afghanistan.

During the service, presided over by Bill McBride of the CWHM, the eulogists included dear friends of Art, Dave Robertson and Kevin MacLeod. While Art was honoured with many medals and decorations for military service, he was also known as an energetic and accomplished businessman. He founded numerous businesses and served as President of CEO of the Credit Bureau of Southern Ontario, ClearNeed Information Systems and Software Authors into his nineties. His community service, kindness and example to others spoke volumes.

His wife, Sonja, wrote a kind farewell to Art for the service. She wrote, in part: “Those who knew Art will remember the caring and kind-hearted man with a zest for life. Well known for his wonderful sense of humour; he prized pranks and puns delivered with pluck, panache and pizzazz!...We will miss him but fondly remember him through his kind acts and generous nature.”
Art was laid to rest at a graveside service on May 12 at Maple Grove Cemetery in Havelock, ON

--- with files by Gord McNulty



436 Squadron members arrived in a Hercules from Trenton for the celebration of Art Adams life at CWHM May 5 Gord McNulty photo

436 Squadron members arrived in a Hercules from Trenton for the celebration of Art Adams life at CWHM, May 5. G. McNulty photo

CWHM DC 3 in Canucks Unlimited colours of Dakotas flown by RCAF No 435 and 436 Sqdns fires up at Flyfest June 16 2018 G McNulty

CWHM DC-3 in Canucks Unlimited colours of Dakotas flown by RCAF No. 435 and 436 Sqdns. fires up at CWH Flyfest June 16, 2018. G. McNulty photo

Bricks Away b Lance Russwurm

Bricks Away by Lance Russwurm