Bruce Warren

Section 5, Lot 14
York Cemetery

Identical twin boys, Douglas and Bruce, were born to Marie and Earl Warren of Nanton, Alberta on May 28, 1922. While they were young, the twins were regular visitors to the Wetaskiwin Library, where they were exposed to “Flight” and “Aeroplane,” two magazines about flying. One day, while attempting to explain their identicalness, a teacher referred to them as duplicates, which started their classmates calling them “dupes.” The boys didn’t like that, so gradually changed it to “dukes.” They forevermore referred to themselves in the same manner, and even started calling each other “Duke.” Following the outbreak of World War II, the 18-year-old twins enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in March 1941. Their training began at No. 5 Elementary Flying Training School at High River, just north of Nanton, Alberta. Following their training the Dukes managed to end up together in the same Squadron. A feat they duplicated throughout the War. In mid-December 1944 the Warren Twins were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses. The citations read: “Flight Lieutenant Bruce Warren: This officer has led his flight with such skill and determination in attacks on ground targets that more than twenty vehicles have been damaged and many probably destroyed. During his numerous sorties, he has destroyed two enemy fighters and participated in the destruction of a hostile bomber. His fine fighting spirit and zeal have set an excellent example to all.” And “Flight Lieutenant Douglas Warren: F/L Warren, during two tours of operational duties, has shown outstanding skill and courage. His determination to engage and destroy the enemy in the air and on the ground is worthy of high praise. He has completed numerous missions on heavily defended ground targets and enemy shipping. He has participated in the destruction by cannon fire of twenty enemy vehicles and the explosion of the magazine of a large enemy strong point. By accurate bombing he has destroyed one enemy aircraft and shared in the destruction of another. On another occasion his accurate bombing severed an important rail link in Germany.” In mid-February 1945, the twins were declared tour-expired and taken off operations. Bruce had flown 248 sorties and Douglas had completed 253. Prior to leaving for Canada, their DFC’s were presented by King George VI who remarked, “I don’t believe I have ever done this before,” as he invested the identical Warrens. W/C Johnston had commanded the Warrens, both on No. 165 and No. 66 Squadrons. In his book, “Tattered Battlements,” he wrote, “The Dukes were Canadian twins, known without distinction —for few could distinguish one from the— by a name which was neither theirs nor that of their parents who had christened them Bruce and Douglas... They were the same height to an eighth of an inch, the same weight to a couple of pounds, always dressed alike and, though different in character, were as similar physically as two peas. Everything they did they did together, and everything they had, they shared; even their bank-balance was common to both. As pilots they had the right mixture of determination, discretion, and dash to be successful and formidable. On the ground, they both had vigorous enquiring minds and little patience with tradition-bound methods or ways of thought. They had remained together practically throughout their careers in the service, and liked to say that if they had not both joined up, but only one, they could have worked alternate weeks. They were typical of their trade in never taking exercise, but unusual in that they neither smoked nor drank; photography was their main pre-occupation and delight. They represented the New World at its best. And each, with an impartiality and detachment which was sometimes puzzling, called the other ‘Duke.’” Both Warrens served in the post-war RCAF, but Bruce left to become a test pilot with Avro in the early years of the CF-100 jet fighter program. On April 5, 1951, at the age of 28, Flight Lieutenant Bruce Warren lost his life in the crash of the second prototype due to an oxygen system malfunction.

 Story Archives »