Sportscasting Icon Big Al Davidson saw battle as a teen in the air force during WW Two

Mike Sporerby MIKE SPORER, The Province Sports

Handout photo of Big Al Davidson smoking a cigar on the bomb. Nice shot of a Typhoon right behind him. Department of National Defence / PNG

Broadcasting icon Big Al Davidson dominated the Lower Mainland airwaves with his fiery and often controversial sportscasts during his more than two decades as sports director at CKNW.

What his thousands of listeners never knew was that Davidson — who joined CKNW in 1958 after working at radio stations across Canada — was a Second World War veteran. Only 16 when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943, he was still a teenager when he was sent overseas to serve with the 438 Wildcat Squadron. 

This Remembrance Day feature, adapted from an upcoming biography being written by trial lawyer and Douglas College instructor Michael Sporer, focuses on Davidson’s experiences during D-Day and the pivotal battles that followed.

The story picks up in 1943, when Al was a Grade 11 student in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario.



Published on November 11, 2018 at 3:27 pm by mikedup


November 11, 2018 - 6:23 pm


Thank you for this post on Remembrance Day. Big Al was a great radio personality at the once great NW. This story adds to the respect that I had for his work at NW and today is appropriate for this story.
My grandfather fought and survived WW1 . I have many memories of him and his endless story telling. Never did he ever talk about the war. All his stories were about life after the war. He couldnt completely hide his war activity from us as he lost one of his legs. He was hit from behind by a Canadian artillery shell . Apparently not uncommon in trench warfare.
Now Ive got another war hero to remember on Nov 11


November 11, 2018 - 11:06 pm

Frank Bucholtz

This story in today’s Province about Big Al is quite amazing. It showed a very different side of the legendary broadcaster, a guy whom so many of us grew up listening to. Big Al used to infuriate me at times when listening to him (I still recall his non-stop push for a new hockey arena on the PNE grounds, to replace the Coliseum), but some of his very noticeable quirks make a lot more sense after reading this. I learned a lot about the impact of the war on RCAF ground crews in this story. Al was one of the greatest generation, putting his life on the line for those of us who came behind. I salute him.

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