The eldest son of James Garfield Gardiner and his second wife, Violet (McEwen), John Edwin Gardiner was born in Lemberg, Saskatchewan on July 8, 1919. His father’s political career, first as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, then Premier of Saskatchewan and finally as a Liberal member of parliament, meant that John would attend various schools in Lemberg, Regina and Ottawa. However, it was while in Regina that he discovered his passion for aviation, learning to fly at the local flying club.
After graduating from Glebe Collegiate in Ottawa, he attended the University of Toronto to study engineering. Intending to pursue a degree in aeronautics, he decided instead to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force on November 19, 1940.
John’s training took him to No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School at Fort William (now Thunder Bay), Ontario, and then on to No. 11 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Receiving his wings on October 7, 1941, he found himself on his way to England less than a month later. Posted to No. 8 SFTS at Royal Air Force (RAF) Station, Montrose, Scotland, John began his training as a fighter pilot on the Hawker Hurricane before proceeding to No. 57 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Hawarden, Wales, where he was introduced to the Supermarine Spitfire.
After John was posted to 403 “City of Calgary” Squadron in April 1942, located at RAF Station North Weald, Essex, the commanding officer of the OTU noted that the…