~ St. Catharines' Wartime Neighbourhoods

Gordon Kidder

RCAF – Member of The Great Escape

Gordon Kidder

Gordon Kidder, son of a cannery manager, was born in St. Catharines and lived here until he graduated from high school, when he left to study languages at the University of Toronto. 

When war broke out he joined the RCA and trained as a navigator.  He was originally posted to the 149 Squadron flying Short Stirlings, but joined the 156 Squadron at Warboys in September 1942.  The last flight raid that he participated in was one on Kiel, Germany.  As they were returning from the raid his Wellington took fire, was hit and went down in the North Sea.  Kidder and one other crew member survived and were picked up by a German minesweeper.

Kidder was sent to Stalag Luft III around Christmas 1942.  Once there, he met two others from St. Catharines, Ed Broderick and Harold Avery. Neither Ed nor Harold were part of the Great Escape.  At Stalag III, he was one of the camps best language instructors and was a key member of the escape committee.  Kidder, along with his escape partner, made it out of the tunnel and to the Sagan train station, where they had a close call but boarded the train for the Czechoslovakia border.  He crossed the Czech border but was recaptured at Hodonin in southern Moravia close to the Austrian border.  He was taken to the prison at Zlin and was one of only two escapees who were tortured by the Gestapo.  He was executed by the Gestapo March 29, 1944 near Mahrisch Ostrau.

~ Information from History.ca