Identical twins Bruce and Douglas Warren were born in Nanton in 1922. Joining the Royal Canadian Air Force at age 18, they completed their elementary flying training at #5 EFTS at High River. During this training they often flew over their hometown of Nanton.
As part of No. 165 Squadron they flew Spitfire fighters on three sorties in support of the Canadian Army at Dieppe, sharing in the destruction of a DO217 bomber.
During 1944, the twins served as Spitfire pilots with No. 66 Squadron where Bruce was “A” Flight Commander and Douglas was “B” Flight Commander. They both had the nickname “Duke” and were known a “Duke Mk I” and “Duke Mk II.” Having identical twins as flight commanders on the same squadron was a unique situation. The majority of the pilots could not tell the twins apart but this was no problem as they assumed whoever was giving them orders knew which flight they were commanding.
Their former CO recalled, “As pilots they had the right mixture of determination, discretion, and dash to be successful an formidable…They both had enquiring minds and little patience with tradition-bound methods or ways of though. . . They represented the new world at its best. And each, with a impartiality and detachment which was sometimes puzzling, called the other “‘Duke.'”
In March, 1945 the identical twins were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI, who remarked, “I don’t believe I have ever done this before.”
Following the war, Bruce Warren continued his career with the RCAF until becoming a test pilot with AVRO. He was killed in the crash of a prototype CF-100 jet fighter in 1951. The accident was thought to have been caused by an oxygen system malfunction. The CF-100 was the only Canadian designed and manufactured fighter aircraft to see operational use.
Douglas Warren continued his career with the RCAF following the war. After flying the Vampire, he became CO of the F-86 Sabre equipped, 410 Squadron in 1952. The following year he was attached to the USAF and flew Sabres in Korea. He became chief flight instructor at the RCAF’s Operational Training Unit at Chatham, New Brunswick and then served in a similar role in Germany, assisting the post-war Luftwaffe in forming their Sabre Operational Training Unit at Oldenberg. There he found himself working side by side with Eric Hartmann, the greatest fighter ace of all time with over 350 kills. So just 15 years after assisting in shooting down a German bomber at the Raid on Dieppe, Duke found himself teaching Luftwaffe jet fighter pilots. His official title was Squadron Leader Warren-RCAF, Chef Kancdisches Beraterteam, Waffenschule 10 Fliegerhorst, Oldenberg i. Oldbg, Germany. He was told that his translated to, Chief Canadian Aid Team, Weapons School 10, Flying Base (Military) Oldenburg City in Oldenberg Province.
Duke retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1973. He is a lifetime member of the Nanton Lancaster Society and served as Master of Ceremonies at the Dedication of the Ian Bazalgette Memorial Lancaster and at our “Salute to Those who Served” event in 1996.
Fifty years after Bruce Warren was killed in the crash of a prototype CF-100 jet,
the Nanton Lancaster Society has dedicated a garden in front of the museum’s CF-100
in memory of a local pilot who made a significant contribution to Canada’s aviation history
both in wartime and afterwards as a test pilot.