F. A. Sampson

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Group Capt. Franklin Augustas Sampson (F. A. “Sammy” Sampson) O.C., O.B.E., Legionnaire, Legion of Merit (United States), Croix de Guerre with Silver Star (France), Order of the British Empire, b. 1906 in Royal Flat, Jamaica 1; d. 1992 in Brockville, Canada, was a Canadian war hero and accomplished military attaché.

During World War II, Sampson was one of only three Canadian military personnel stationed at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) under General Dwight D. Eisenhower,[1] the Supreme Allied Commander. He was selected due to his expertise regarding the repatriation of military prisoners of war. Notable later stations included Argentina and Paris following World War II.[2] Sampson was head of air force personnel in London leading up to the Battle of Britain 1939 - 1940.[3] In February 1939, following the Munich Agreement and during preparations to defend England against an imminent German air campaign, which commenced later that year, Sampson was instrumental in quashing a general strike by 1,500 Canadian enlisted personnel stationed at RCAF Odiham Air Base, Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England. With threat of war on the horizon, the enlisted personnel were seeking immediate repatriation to Canada.[4] The base was a critical air logistics hub for British defensive operations. Acting on direct orders from Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King to enforce Canada’s military commitments in defense of England in the lead up to World War II, Sampson confronted strike leaders on the steps of Canada House in London, February 8, 1939 declaring "It will be considered mutiny if you men are out after February 11, 1939".[5]

During the war, Sampson was assigned to RAF No. 27 to train British and Commonwealth fighter pilots, and later assigned to station command at Allerton Park (Allerton Castle) upon the establishment of No. 6 Group RCAF (No. 6 Group RCAF).[6] At the war's end the RCAF had 11 bomber stations in England; seven of these were operational stations, controlled by No. 6 Group responsible for over 40,000 sorties, making it one of the most productive bomber units of the entire war.[7] An expert on prisoners of war, Sampson was one of only three Canadian nationals assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) upon preparations for Project Overlord: D-Day, with direct responsibility for repatriating first military, then later civilian POWs.[8] During this period, Sampson lobbied General Eisenhower extensively, and ultimately, successfully, to extend SHAEF command authority to include civilian repatriation, thereby making the liberation of concentration camps a military responsibility. Sampson was awarded the Legion of Merit by Dwight D. Eisenhower at Camp Griffis on December 12, 1944 for his efforts.[9] The medal is the highest military honor that can be awarded to a foreign national by the U.S. government. It is the only citation to be awarded as a neck order, other than the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Many of the details regarding Sampson’s activities during and after World War II remain sealed under Canada’s Official Secrets Act and Security of Information Act. Sampson pursued his liberation related responsibilities for the rest of his military career as commanding military attaché in Argentina (1948) and Paris (1951), until his retirement in 1955.[10] On January 29, 1947 Sampson was presented with Order of the British Empire for outstanding service as Commanding Officer of the Base Station in No.61 (RCAF) Base and, later, the Base Station at No.64 (RCAF) Base, “as largely responsible for the very enviable record shown by both of these stations under his command”.[9] On September 12, 1947, Sampson was awarded Croix de Guerre with Silver Star (France) for gallantry in action against an enemy.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. Army, U.S. Forces, European Theater, Historical Division: Records, 1941-1946. http://www.fold3.com/document/291148582/
  2. ^ Vance, Jonathan, F. Objects of Concern. Canadian Prisoners of War Through the 20th Century; UBC Press, 1992.
  3. ^ Ottawa Citizen, February 8th 1939; “Down Ampney Base Crews Stay Off Job”. Air Force Association of Canada. http://airforce.ca/awards.php?search=1&keyword=&page=658&mem=&type=rcaf
  4. ^ Ottawa Citizen, February 8th 1939; “Down Ampney Base Crews Stay Off Job”.
  5. ^ See 6 Group Bomber Command: http://www.6grouprcaf.com/.
  6. ^ See 6 Group Bomber Command: http://www.6grouprcaf.com/. Air Force Association of Canada. http://airforce.ca/awards.php?
  7. ^ Royal Air Force. http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/bombercommandno6group.cfm; http://www.richthistle.com/aviation-articles-mainmenu-41/60-rcaf-6-group-halifax-bomber-ww2.
  8. ^ Arms, Men and Governments, The War Policies of Canada 1939-1945, by C.P. Stacey; Ottawa, 1970. Although there were over one million Canadian military personnel serving in European theatre only three were selected by Gen. Eisenhower to serve at SHAEF. The three Canadians assigned to SHAEF included Lt-Col. J.P. Page, Canadian Army; Group Captain F.A. Sampson, RCAF; Lt-Col. R.A. Harris, Canadian Army. http://www.network54.com/Forum/28173/message/1031883332/Number+of+Cdns+who+served+directly+under+SHAEF
  9. ^ a b c Air Force Association of Canada. http://airforce.ca/awards.php?search=1&keyword=&page=658&mem=&type=rcaf
  10. ^ SampsonFA