Over 26,000 Canadians served during the Korean War. Often called the “Forgotten War,” Korea still represents a vital part of Canadian military history. All three branches of the Canadian military participated in Korea. Although the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) served exclusively in a logistical capacity – by transporting troops, equipment, and injured personnel over the Pacific – 22 RCAF pilots volunteered with the United States Air Force (USAF) to serve in combat roles. These 22 RCAF pilots flew over 1,000 sorties during the war, and between them, were credited with nine MiG-15s destroyed, two probable kills and ten damaged whilst earning eight US Distinguished Flying Crosses, ten US Air Medals and one Commonwealth Distinguished Flying Cross. Ernest “Ernie” Glover, one of the 22 volunteers, was the last and only RCAF pilot to be awarded the Commonwealth Distinguished Service Cross since the Second World War.
Born October 20, 1922, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Glover enlisted with the RCAF following the outbreak of the Second World War. He earned his wings in 1941 and flew almost 100 combat missions with the Royal Air Force operating both Hurricane and Typhoon fighters. Glover was shot down in 1943 during a night raid over occupied France. He was flying at extremely low altitude to strafe a freight train when an anti-aircraft crew opened fire on his plane. Glover describes the attack in an interview with John Melady saying:
“It was about four in the morning, and I was rather surprised that they were awake. I was only about fifty feet in the air when they got me. I pulled up as much as I could, but then when I knew the ship was going to go in, I blew the canopy and got the hell out of there. Fortunately, the [para]chute opened, but I was almost down to the treetops when it did.”
Like most pilots that are forced to eject over enemy territory, Glover was captured. He would spend the remainder of the war in the prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III. Stalag Luft III was the site of “The Great Escape,” where captured Allied airmen worked together to tunnel out of the camp, though Glover was not among the 76 men who escaped through the tunnel before it was discovered.
Returning to Canada in 1945, Glover worked for the Dominion Bridge Company before reenlisting with the RCAF in 1948. As a veteran aviator, Glover was selected to train on the British-made Vampire jet in 1951, crucial experience when he later volunteered to serve with the Americans in Korea.
Glover excelled in Korea. He was an incredible dog fighter and had an unmatched knack for maneuvering his jet through the treacherous flying conditions in the Korean theatre. Most air-to-air combat in Korea occurred in “MiG Alley,” over a strip of land near the China-Korea border. Glover had 3 confirmed MiG kills, the highest of any Canadian pilots during the Korean War; he shot down two and caused a third to crash by outmanoeuvring it. He also damaged at least 3 more MiG fighters. Glover flew 58 combat missions during his time in Korea.
Glover would go on to serve with the RCAF until his retirement in 1970. Earnest Glover passed away September 9, 1991, at 68 years old.
Main photo: Glover seated in his Sabre talking to a member of the Air Crew. (Credit: Legion Magazine)
DeWelles, Ted. 2022. “Remembering Ernest Glover: Leaside’s forgotten Korean War ace.” Leaside Life. Accessed July 2023. https://leasidelife.com/remembering-ernest-glover-leasides-forgotten-korean-war-ace/.
Government of Canada. 2020. “The RCAF in the Korean War.” The Maple Leaf. Accessed July 2023. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/maple-leaf/rcaf/2020/06/the-rcaf-in-the-korean-war.html.
King, Andrew. 2015. “BEING ERNEST: THE UNTOLD STORY OF OTTAWA’S KOREAN WAR ACE.” Ottawa Rewind. Accessed July 2023. https://ottawarewind.com/2015/11/09/being-ernest-the-untold-story-of-ottawas-korean-war-ace/.