Thursday, 1 January, 1942
Weather again overcast and misty. Unfit for flying. In the afternoon, a Baseball Match was played between ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights (Pilots only). ‘B’ Flight emerged victorious by 5 runs to 1. The particulars given regarding the strength of the Squadron on 31.12.41. remain the same for today, 1.1.42.
Friday, 2 January, 1942
Weather again dull and foggy, no flying. In the morning, the pilots played the ground personnel at baseball. The pilots won by 18 runs to 15. Later, the pilots were given drill instruction by F/L Gibbons, Station Ground Defence Officer. Some clay pigeon shooting was done during the afternoon.
Saturday, 3 January, 1942
Weather, another dull day and mist. Rain in the afternoon. Compass swinging and Link Trainer visited in the morning. In the afternoon, the pilots and the majority of the ground personnel were released to attend the Soccer, Rugger and Hockey matches between the Station and Hornchurch for the AOC’s Challenge Cup. North Weald won the cup. No flying during the day.
Sunday, 4 January, 1942
Weather dull and misty in the morning, clearing later. No flying during the day.
Monday, 5 January, 1942
Weather cloudy and misty, with some rain and sleet. General practice flying and Sector Reconnaissance flying; also camera gun practice.
Tuesday, 6 January, 1942
Weather cloudy, some fine periods with fog late in the day. Squadron formation flying was carried out during the morning. During the afternoon, the Squadron accompanied the Wing on a Channel Sweep that was entirely uneventful. Sgt D.C. Campbell from 64 Squadron, Hornchurch, and Sgt J.L. Mitchell from 602 Squadron, Henley, posted to the Squadron wef 6.1.42.
Wednesday, 7 January, 1942
Weather cloudy and foggy all day. No flying. Baseball game played against 121 Squadron in the afternoon. 403 Squadron won.
Thursday, 8 January, 1942
Weather cloudy, fair periods with showers. No flying. Sgts Walker, Argue, Mitchell and Olmsted, and P/O Hurst visited the Link Trainer. P/O McPharlin posted to RAF Station North Weald, non-effective sick wef 8.1.42.
Friday, 9 January, 1942
Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud early morning becoming 3/10ths at 5,000 in the afternoon. Air firing carried out by the Squadron and local flying practice. No operational flying was done today. Sgt Pilot J.L. Mitchell posted to 411 Squadron, Hornchurch wef 8.1.42.
Saturday, 10 January, 1942
Weather cloudy until dusk, then slight showers with snow later. Visibility 2 to 6 miles. The Squadron carried out routine flying. Air firing to Martlesham, cine-gun, sector reconnaissance, aircraft test and dusk landings.
Sunday, 11 January, 1942
Weather fair to fine; mist persisting until 1700 hours then fog. Vis 1 to 4 miles until dusk. The Squadron again carried out cine-gun exercises, commencing at 0930 hours until 1705 hours. Sgt Crawford went on a GCS Co-op from 1400-1500 hours. Three sections carried out Squadron formation flying, while Sgts Campbell and Beurling did some cross country in the Magister to Hornchurch.
Monday, 12 January, 1942
Weather fair to fine until 2100 hours then cloudy. Fog and frost all day. Vis poor at first, improving until noon then falling again. The new Squadron Leader, C.N.S. Campbell, arrives to assume command of 403 Squadron. He was posted to us from 72 Squadron and, from all reports, he will be a great asset to the Squadron, a steady leader and fine example for ambitious pilots. He succeeds S/L A.C. Douglas, who was held in high esteem by the Squadron. S/L Douglas leaves to take-up his duties with RAF Station North Weald, wef 12.1.42; our best wishes go with him.
Tuesday, 13 January, 1942
Weather poor, improving in the afternoon and closing in again in the evening. No flying this morning. Four sections of two a/c each carried out cine-gun practice from 1535 hours to 1555 hours. One section of two a/c each carried out formation flying. Sgt Somers did some cloud flying.
Wednesday, 14 January, 1942
Weather overcast, cloudy in the morning and fine in the afternoon and evening. The Squadron was fairly active today. Beginning at 0950 hours to 1640 hours, five sections of two a/c each carried out camera gun and formation flying. Sgt Somers did a/c and cannon tests, Sgt Rainville did aerobatics and local flying.
Thursday, 15 January, 1942
Weather cold and fine most of the day, becoming cloudy later. Vis poor in fog and mist day and night. Due to weather no flying activity in the Squadron this morning. At 1415 hours, F/L Wood went up for a weather test. S/L Campbell did a cannon gun test and two sections (Red and Yellow) each did formation and cine-gun practice. Sgt Collinson posted to Bradwell Bay.
Friday, 16 January, 1942
Weather cold and overcast most of the day with poor Vis. Weather conditions rather sticky. At 1115 hours P/O Dick carried out a weather test. Later, two sections (Blue and Green), each of two a/c, took off on convoy patrol, returning to base at 1400 hours. Nothing of interest to report.
Saturday, 17 January, 1942
Weather fine, vis 4,000 feet, with the wind from the NE. F/L Walker carried out a weather test at 0915 hours. Squadron formation and cine-gun practice was the order of the day, most of the pilots participating. At 1200 hours, Sgt Monserez and Sgt Campbell in Red Section, took off to do cine-gun and formation flying. During the exercise and just before they were about to land, Sgt Monserez appeared to be having some difficulty with the undercarriage on the aircraft. After several attempts, by doing aerobatics, to drop the undercarriage, Sgt Monserez manoeuvred his plane and began gaining height. He was next seen to come through cloud formation in a spin and crashed into the woods opposite the Officers Mess at 1310 hours. F/L Wood flew over the vicinity where the a/c appeared to crash and, after thirty minutes, he sighted the plane. With the assistance of F/L Wood, the ambulance with F/L (Dr) Riddell and other officers, was successfully guided to the scene of the accident. Sgt Monserez was found dead and the a/c damaged beyond repair. The boys felt keenly the loss of one of their colleagues but with that grim determination to ‘carry on’ finished the days activities with cloud and local flying.
Owing to his excellent work in operational flying, his leadership and his outstanding sea rescue work, S/L Campbell has been awarded the DFC. ‘Whoopie’ Our first DFC in the Squadron. Congratulations Sir, let’s add the bar to it while in 403 Squadron. Best wishes.
Sunday, 18 January, 1942
Weather fair, vis 1,000 yards, wind ESE 15 mph. No flying today due to weather. Talks to pilots and games. The Squadron was released at 1750 hours.
Monday, 19 January, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud at 500 feet, vis 500 yards with wind SE at 15 mph. No improvement in the weather, planes were grounded. The pilots examined their equipment and parachutes were adjusted and repaired. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was released on 4-hours notice.
Tuesday, 20 January, 1942
Weather 10/10ths at 2,000 feet, vis 2,000 yards. Wind ESE at 10 mph. S/L Campbell went to Martlesham to do air to air firing, but returned due to faulty R/T. Blue, Green, Yellow, Red and Black Sections flew to Martlesham for air to air firing. Sgts Crist and Ryckman went to Debden to collect new Spitfires, returning at 1230 hours. All a/c returned from Martlesham except ‘M’ turned back on account of pressure. Aircraft landed at North Weald at 1650 hours.
Wednesday, 21 January, 1942
Weather 8/10ths at 2,000 feet vis 2,000 yards. Wind ESE at 10 mph. This morning, the Squadron attended the funeral of Sgt Monserez. The service was held in the RC Chapel, RAF Station, North Weald. After the service, the cortege moved at slow march from the Chapel to beyond the Station entrance, travelling by bus and motor cars to the churchyard in North Weald where the remains were laid to rest. There was a short service at the graveside, followed by the Airforce honours to the dead. Father S/L McNeil officiated at both services.
P/O Gillespie carried out a weather test at 1330 hours. P/Os Dick and Magwood and Sgt Somers took off at 1440 hours on a pinpointing exercise to great Dunnow, Halstead, Bellerires, Fyfield, Stapleford and Towney landing at 1540. Red and Yellow sections ordered to scramble on interception of e/a at 1505 hours L.A.B. 1615. No e/a were sighted. Square search carried out, and two Wellington aircraft were sighted.
Thursday, 22 January, 1942
Weather 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet. Vis 4,000 yards with the wind from the ESE at 10 mph. Three sections, Red, Yellow and Blue of four a/c each, TOB 0850 hours for Martlesham to carry out operations for QO. Landed at 1745 hours. Only ten a/c returned, two remaining due to engine trouble. F/L Walker and P/O Gillespie, together with P/O Parr and Sgt Belcher scrambled on QO, airborne at 1620 hours, landing at 1700 hours. Nothing was sighted. Three new Sgt Pilots, Oliver, Cromwell, and O’Neil were posted to the Squadron from 53 OTU Llandow.
Friday, 23 January, 1942
Weather overcast, snowing in the morning, changing to rain in the afternoon. The Squadron was released for the day, off station at 1140 hours. Previous to this, S/L Campbell gave a talk to the pilots on air tactics, Squadron formation etc followed by a discussion. Officers were then fitted with gas masks. The adjutant, F/O Carlysle, visited Hornchurch. F/O Lodge took pay parade for the airmen. There was a lecture in Drury Lane at 1800 hours given by W/C Ashton on the German Air Force. This was very enlightening and well received.
Saturday, 24 January, 1942
Weather bright and clear in the morning, becoming cloudy with rain in the afternoon. Vis 3-6 miles. Two sections, Red and Blue of four a/c each did cine-gun and follow the leader. P/O Hurst did pinpointing, Hitchen, Bunting, Ford, Great Dunnow, Royston. P/O Gillespie and P/O Parr to Southend in the Moth. P/O D.S. Aitken posted to us from 501 Squadron.
Sunday, 25 January, 1942
Weather mostly fair becoming cloudy later in the day. Vis 4-8 miles. The Squadron was on convoy patrol off Barrow Deep from 0815 hrs until 1345 hrs. During the afternoon, the pilots carried out aircraft tests, formation practice, circle and bumps and dog fighting. F/L Walker, P/O Gillespie, P/O Parr and Sgt Ryckman went to Hunsdon for dusk landings and night circuits and landings. Duties carried out. The Squadron had a very active day including church parade to the Church of England, with P/O Gillespie in charge.
Monday, 26 January, 1942
Weather fair with ground mist and occasional scattered showers of rain or snow. Vis good and wind gusty, with a gale warning at 1030 hours of the east coast. F/L Walker and P/O Parr returned to North Weald from Hunsdon. The Squadron participated in air to ground firing at Dinghy Flats. P/O Zoochkan, P/O Magwood, Sgts Belcher, Hubbard, Campbell, Argue and Beurling went on local pinpointing exercise.
Tuesday, 27 January, 1942
The pilots carried out section and Squadron formation flying. Sgt O’Neil went on a sector reconnaissance. P/O Parr, P/O Hurst, Sgt Ryckman and Sgt Olmsted went on convoy patrol. Due to the weather, they were given homing to Southend. S/L Hammond, S/L Jones and F/L Spires from RCAF Headquarters visited the Squadron for an Inspection as to the general welfare and accommodation of personnel. S/L Campbell appeared on behalf of F/S Jefferies at Blake Hill in regard to his attitude towards a sentry while on duty. F/S Jefferies was given a serve reprimand.
Wednesday, 28 January, 1942
Weather fair becoming overcast with ground haze. Vis 4 to 8 miles. The Squadron took part in convoy patrols off Barrow Deep, patrolling from 0820 hours to 1620 hours. At 1100 hours, S/L Campbell, Sgts Schmitz, Somers, and Crawford took off on a patrol for enemy reconnaissance. Nothing to report. F/L Walker and Sgt Beurling took off on a scramble but were recalled. S/L Campbell, F/L Walker, Sgts Munn, Somers, Hubbard and Campbell went to Hunsdon for night flying. ENSA show for the troops was attended and apparently enjoyed by all. The Squadron was complimented by G/C Pain on their fine show during night flying.
Thursday, 29 January, 1942
Weather misty, poor visibility with rain and sleet in the afternoon. The Squadron took part in mock air raid and gas attack in the morning. During the afternoon, the pilots went to the cinema room to view films of their results of firing practice. Pilots returned from Hunsdon, leaving a/c on account of weather. P/O Zoochkan, Sgts Ryckman, Olmsted and Argue went to Hunsdon to return with the a/c when weather permits.
Friday, 30 January, 1942
Weather closed in the morning, snow and rain in the afternoon. F/S Rainville instructed F/S Campbell on how to swing a compass. P/O Magwood, F/S Somers, Sgts Schmitz, Beurling, Walker, O’Neil went to the Link Trainer.
Saturday, 31 January, 1942
Weather cloudy with occasional wintry showers. Squadron on readiness. Sgts Zoochkan, Ryckman, Olmsted and Argue returned from Hunsdon, L.A.B. 1230 PM. Sgt Hubbard, Campbell, Beurling, Crawford, and Argue left for Hunsdon for night flying. No activity due to weather.
RCAF Officers – Air crew – 9
RCAF Officers – Ground crew 4
RCAF Airmen – Air crew – 17
RCAF Airmen – Ground crew – 142
RAF Officers – Air crew – 2
RAF Officers – Ground crew – 1
RAF Airmen – Ground crew – 110
Operational flying time 115 hours
Training flying time – 256 hours
Patrols carried out – 89
Aircraft on strength Spitfires 18, Magister 1, Tiger Moth 1.
Sunday, 1 February, 1942
Overcast, snowing heavily most for the morning, clearing in the afternoon. Quite a heavy fall of snow. All personnel, pilots and airmen, had a fair amount of exercise clearing runways of snow. It was nice to see the clean white snow making a blanket on the good mother earth, more than one was a bit homesick. Due to the weather conditions, S/L Campbell and the pilots returned from Hunsdon by motor transport, and the a/c remained at Hunsdon. P/O Magwood went to Stapleford on a course.
Monday, 2 February, 1942
Weather overcast intermittent snow and drizzle, fair in the afternoon. More snow to be cleared so all personnel cheerfully marched forth with shovel and broom and did a very nice piece of work. In the afternoon, S/L Campbell did some circuits and landings to test the runways after snow clearing. Sgts O’Neil, Munn, Ryckman, Somers, Connell and P/O Dick did some training on the link.
Tuesday, 3 February, 1942
Weather snowing again and the Squadron is clearing the runways. Weather closed in later on. Due to the weather, one section was held to readiness while the remainder of the Squadron were put on 30 minutes notice. The Squadron was released off the Station at 1400 hours. All the pilots took advantage of this, going to Epping for shopping, to the cinema, or to enjoy a meal outside of the Mess. Four Sgt Pilots departed for Hunsdon to bring back the a/c that remained there from night flying. All a/c were grounded for aileron droop, two pilots to do the taxing of the a/c to the hangar.
Wednesday, 4 February, 1942
Weather was bad and operations were cancelled. The aircraft were tested for aileron modification. Four aircraft returned from Hunsdon. This was an excellent piece of work. F/L Foster, RCAF Public Relations Branch, visited the Squadron together with F/O Hunter, getting the ‘gen’ on the Squadrons pilots.
Thursday, 5 February, 1942
Weather still bad with snow. At 0900 hours a weather and aircraft test were carried out; flying was washed out but ‘B’ Flight was held at 30 minutes notice.
Friday, 6 February, 1942
Weather persistent, still bad although it cleared up somewhat in the late afternoon. At 0950 hours, Red Section scrambled to Clacton-on-Sea. Runways were slippery and Sgt Ryckman crashed while taxing for take-off. RAF Orchestra gave a most enjoyable concert in Drury Lane, which was very well received by all ranks. Pay parade was held at 1105 hours.
Saturday, 7 February, 1942
Weather, low cloud base today but still able to carry out training flying. Four a/c were tested for aileron modification. Red, Yellow and Blue Sections did some formation and cine-gun practice. P/O Hurst did aerobatics, Sgt McDonald did some pinpointing. Training was finished at 1710 hours. ‘B’ Watch, RTO’s WAAF, North Weald have taken over 403 Squadron to mother. Should be no ‘opening of escapade’ in socks now. One officer and eight airmen went to Stapleford for Military Training Course lasting 7 days.
Sunday, 8 February, 1942
Weather cloudy with some fair intervals becoming more stable in the afternoon. Vis 3 to 6 miles. Formation flying was carried out by the Squadron during the morning. At 1345 hours, Blue and Green Sections went on convoy patrol east of Bradwell bay, these were relieved by other sections at 1800 hours. The different types of camouflage on Destroyers was noticed. It was agreed amongst the pilots that those with pinkish grey camouflage were more readily distinguished. P/O Zoochkan struck a parked motorcycle while taxing down the perimeter doing damage to both the motorcycle and starboard wing. Owing to the ridges of hard snow on the edge of the runways and the roughness caused by the snow, the damage to the aircraft was not observed until after landing from operations. P/O Cawsey misjudged the landing, running short and the port wheel engaged the barbwire used for station Defence, resulting in the tire of wheel to be torn and no further damage. The Squadron was released at 1831 hours. Good day’s work.
Monday, 9 February, 1942
Weather fog-bound with slight drizzle. The Squadron was released from readiness. The pilots went to the Link Trainer. After lunch, the pilots enjoyed a half-hour of PT and ,at 1530 hours, were released from the Station. The pilots crew room at dispersal has been considerably cleaned and made more comfortable. Woollen comforts were distributed to NCOs and Airmen from the Red Cross Society. These were much needed and are greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, 10 February, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with much fog at first. Visibility improving slowly, from 1,000 to 4,000 yards. At 1100 hours, two sections TOB on convoy patrol, SE of Orfordness at 17 plus. The aircraft were recalled due to weather. They found thick haze to 1,500 feet over the convoy and ran into rain on the way back, landing at 1210 hours. Convoy was sighted and nothing to report on e/a. Sgt Somers reported seeing what he thought was sea rescue work being carried out by 3 or more MTBs in the vicinity of the convoy. The Chilean Ambassador and staff visited the Station and the Squadron, making some observations of the crew room and dispersal generally. His remarks were conveyed through an interpreter. A surprise visit was paid to the Squadron by AVM Leckie, F/L Hamilton, and W/C McGregor of the RCAF Headquarters. AVM Leckie interviewed the pilots in the manner of a friendly chat, with the view of gaining data and suggestions that would be valuable to training pilots for war activity. A splendid type of gentleman whose easy manner quickly put the pilots at ease won their confidence. At 1100 hours, Red and Blue Sections got airborne on convoy patrols 8 miles SE of Orfordness and, at 1215 hours, were recalled and landed. Formation flying was carried out during the afternoon until 1705 hours. The Squadron certainly had their share of celebrities today. It is hoped that they were as favourably impressed with us as we were with them.
Wednesday, 11 February, 1942
Weather, bright and clear at first in the morning with a slight ground haze. Vis 3 to 6 miles. At 0945 hours, with S/L Campbell as leader, the Squadron took off to practice operational and formation flying. They were recalled at 1030 hours to stand by for an offensive escort job. The sweep was cancelled at 1240 hours. At 1300 hours, one Flight was brought to readiness and one Flight at 15 minutes readiness. At 1350 hours, one Flight went on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness and were relieved at 1440 hours when the aircraft were ordered to patrol another convoy 15 miles off Clacton-on-Sea at 1530 hours. This patrol continued to 1800 hours and the Squadron was released at 1840 hours. A good afternoon’s operations.
Thursday, 12 February, 1942
Weather fair to fine, becoming cloudy with fog. The Squadron was at readiness at 0737 hours. At 0900 hours, two a/c (Red Section), F/S McDonald and P/O Cawsey, were scrambled to investigate e/a, report number 27, coming into Clacton-on-Sea. A/C given 2 vectors onto raider that was a single e/a plotted at 3,000 feet. Our Section was at 8,000 feet. Controller vectored them 120 degrees from Clacton-on-Sea. Red Section reported visibility bad and was instructed to use their own discretion. At 0930 hours R/T failed. F/S McDonald reports that he and P/O Cawsey dived into cloud then he suddenly felt his aircraft shudder and he lost control. The instruments in his a/c went haywire and the a/c went to pieces, tumbling over and over toward the sea. F/S McDonald bailed out, landing in the sea close to a naval craft which picked him up four minutes after entering the water at approximately 0943 hours. F/S McDonald was taken to Ashmore Naval Hospital, Brightlingsae. He was suffering from shock but was otherwise uninjured. P/O Cawsey, after entering the cloud, was not seen or heard from again. The skipper of the Naval craft HMD Reids reported that he saw F/S McDonald break cloud in his parachute and what appeared to be an a/c dive into the sea a mile distant. He did not see any further a/c or parachute break cloud. P/O Cawsey was a very likeable lad, conscientious, punctual in his appointments, but inclined to be over confident. At 1100 hours, the Squadron was brought to readiness and was briefed for a Wing show with targets being the battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU in convoy going through the Straits of Dover. The Wing took off at 1140 hours with S/L Milne leading. Our Squadron was under the leadership of S/L Campbell, (Red Blue and Yellow Sections) with W/C Eyre as Red 4. The Wing was to join with the Debden Wing overhead and then proceed to the coast. The Wing was over Manston, at 1442 hours, disappearing into cloud in a climb to 7,000 feet on the way to the target, with another broken layer at 2,000 feet. As they approached the target, S/L Campbell, who was at 2,500 feet, saw a burst of smoke between himself and Gravelines on the French Coast. As he turned right, two Hudsons appeared on the same level flying in the same direction. S/L Campbell kept on the port side as he was waiting for the Squadron to break through cloud. Suddenly, 3 ME 109Es made a head-on quarter attack at the Hudsons. S/L Campbell tired to head them off, giving full deflection of shot which had the effect of sheering one away, the other two dived to sea level and were lost in the cloud. The Hudsons did not appear to be damaged. S/L Campbell turned and saw to the East a large blaze on the water with what appeared to be a ship with port and starboard sides ablaze. More ME 109es appeared from the East at cloud base; he gave chase, mixing in with a lot of Spitfires. By this time, he had lost the Squadron and, whilst trying to rejoin them, flew over the ships noting that the blaze was now out. At 1503 hours, he saw what he thought were two Flak ships throwing up flak bursting at 2,000 feet near the cloud base. Two of our Squadron, with three other Spits joined S/L Campbell and they headed West. The ME 109s kept breaking cloud base but when the Squadron turned on them, they took cover. At 1518 hours, approximately eight Wimpys appeared from the East. S/L Campbell escorted them to 15 miles off Dover and then returned to base. The Wimpys were still flying on a Southerly direction. Our Yellow Section engaged e/a at 2,000 feet. Sgt Ryckman positioned his a/c on the tail of a ME 109F and gave it a two-second burst at 275 yards with cannon and machine gun. The e/a was seen to pour black smoke and took evasive action. The e/a straightened out long enough for Ryckman to get in another 3-second burst and strikes were seen on the wings and the fuselage. Heavy black smoke and flames shot from the engine and the e/a went into a dive at 2,000 feet, disappearing into cloud. A second e/a appeared but was lost in the cloud. Sgt Ryckman with Sgt Crist (Yellow 3) engaged a third e/a and both fired a 3-second burst at 300 yards from astern and a second burst of 1 second from dead astern. The e/a disappeared into the cloud but before doing so, strikes were seen on the wings and the fuselage. Sgt Ryckman returned to base, having run out of ammunition. The dive of the first e/a was enveloped in smoke and flames and was witnessed by Sgt Crist and P/O Parr. Sgts Crawford and Somers saw a ME 109E dive toward them out of the cloud, both turned to their right and fired a 3-second burst of cannon and machine gun. No strikes were seen. Both a/c then rejoined their sections. Sgt Crawford engaged a second ME 109 on his right front angle of 45 degrees, firing a 3-second burst of cannon and machine gun fire, then he rejoined his section. All a/c returned to base by 1715 hours, after having quite a party with one e/a destroyed and another damaged. Those in the sortie were: S/L Campbell, P/O Magwood, Sgts Schmitz (Red 1,2 and 3), F/L Walker, F/S Crawford, F/S Somers (Blue 1, 2 and 3) F/S Ryckman, P/O Parr, F/S Crist (Yellow 1,2 and 3) and W/C Eyre (Red 4).
Friday, 13 February, 1942
Weather fair to fine with part sunshine, clearing in the morning. Cloud 6/10ths to 9/10ths. At 0900 hours, two sections went on formation flying. These were recalled as the Squadron was put on readiness at 0946 hours. The sections LAB at 0955 hours and 1010 hours. F/S Somers, with F/S Belcher, as a passenger TOB for Brize Norton at 0945 hours in the Miles-Magister, the objective being to ferry two Spitfires to North Weald. Three sections, Red, Blue, and Yellow were airborne at 1050 hours to patrol and escort seven destroyers approximately 150 miles on course 085 from North Weald. Our aircraft located the convoy which was going NE off the French Coast. When the destroyers sighted our a/c they altered course to the SW. Patrol lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes, with the Squadron LAB at 1230 hours. At 1245 hours, Red Section was scrambled to Southwold to intercept an e/a but were recalled to base, landing at 1255 hours, the e/a having disappeared. At 1310 hours, three Sections, Red, Blue and Yellow, TOB to continue their escort for the destroyers which they picked up just off the English Coast, with four at Barrow Deep and the three other destroyers just off Felixstowe heading SW and one other destroyer in about the same position heading NNE. This escort of three sections was relieved and landed at base at 1430 hours. Red and Yellow Sections TOB at 1515 hours to continue the escort patrol of the destroyers, LAB at 1700 hours. Nothing to report. Some local flying and cine-gun was practised in the late afternoon. All of the pilots returned to base from Brize Norton and Martlesham, bringing over three a/c that had been weather bound in Martlesham and two others from Brize Norton. The Squadron was released from operations after a good days work with everyone happy, at 1842 hours.
Saturday, 14 February, 1942
Weather partly cloudy with 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud. Vis 2 to 5 miles generally. The Squadron took advantage of excellent weather and training flying was carried out in the morning for height (25,000 feet) chasing, dogfights and GCI co-operation. Sgt O’Neill did a cross-country flight. F/S Crawford and Sgt Olmsted with P/O Hurst did aerobatics. P/O Aitken did a cannon test. How smoothly everything goes as long as the pilots can fly.
Sunday, 15 February, 1942
Weather cloudy in the morning, becoming fair in the late afternoon. Cloud 7/10ths to 10/10ths with vis 1 to 3 miles. At 0810 hours, 2 Sections TOB on convoy patrol 10 miles east of Martlesham. Escort was continuous, with the Sections being relieved every hour and a half. Last patrol LAB 1405 hours. S/L Campbell, F/L Wood, F/S Campbell and Sgt Beurling went to Southend to participate in Air-to-Air competition of 11 group – result was fair. P/O Gillespie promoted to Acting F/L and posted to 72 Squadron as a Flight Commander. Splendid work, fine fellow, a loss to our Squadron and a gain for No. 72, and our best wishes go with him. Excellent show at Drury Lane tonight. Tommy Trinder was in the cast. It was probably the first time for most of the Canadians on this Squadron to see Trinder, England’s foremost comedian, in person. Comments were amusing.
Monday, 16 February, 1942
Weather much the same as yesterday. Practice flying carried out during the day from 0935 hours to 1750 hours. During the afternoon, the Squadron scrambled to 20,000 feet. F/S McDonald returned today, from his harrowing experience. A bit thinner perhaps and a little jittery, he looks tired but otherwise OK. Sgt Crawford was posted to No. 55 OTU. F/O Lodge inspected the new billets at Sites 1&7 Thornwood. The personnel have moved in. These quarters are agreeably better than the ones just vacated. I’m sure that a great deal of comfort is to be received here. The meals are on quite a high standard, in fact, the roast beef was much better than I have seen in the Officer’s Mess. Personnel seemed quite happy and had no complaints. The drawback is the time lost in traversing backward and forward for meals.
Tuesday, 17 February, 1942
Weather hazy, clearing later with 10/10ths low cloud. Practice flying was done consisting of cine-gun and cloud flying. Five Sections were put on readiness at 1115 hours. At 1215 hours, Blue and green Sections TOB for convoy patrol off Barrow Deep. These were relieved at one-hour intervals until it was cancelled at 1513 hours. Three sections were called to readiness at 1554 hours and Red Section was scrambled to patrol off Clacton-on-Sea, LAB at 1750 hours. F/L Wood, with his section who were on their way out to relieve the convoy patrols SE of Clacton-on-Sea at 1405 hours, saw a DO 217 below the cloud base which was 800 too 1,000 feet. He instructed the section to proceed on patrol while he turned to give chase. The DO 217 was seen to jettison bombs in the sea, climb and was lost in the cloud. It did not reappear. No damage by the bombs was seen. Another anti-gas exercise, with personnel taking more interest in these doings which commenced at 0900 hours in the morning.
Wednesday, 18 February, 1942
Weather cloudy with 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud and vis 1,000 to 2,000 yards. Training flying was carried out by the Squadron during the day. F/L Walker did cannon testing. At 1005 hours, Red and Yellow Sections scrambled. Yellow Section was recalled at 1015 hours, Red returned at 1120. Nothing sighted and nothing to report. Convoy patrol commenced at 1045 hours for a convoy 15 miles ESE off Shoeburyness. The sections relieved one another until 1355 hours. F/L Walker, P/O Hurst, F/S Schmitz went to Hunsdon at 1735 hours for dusk flying. The Squadron was released at 1845 hours.
Thursday, 19 February, 1942
Weather cloudy, occasional slight snow shower, with 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud 1,000 to 2,000 and a base of 500 to 1,000 feet. Vis 3 to 6 miles. The Squadron was put on 15 minutes readiness at 0740 hours. A Gas Defence exercise went on from 0900 to 1015 hours with a/c acting as bombers. Nice work. The pilots returned from Hunsdon. Practice flying and cine-gun were carried out in the afternoon. 403 Squadron stood in for 222 on readiness during the lunch hour. S/L Campbell left at 1550 hours to pay a visit to Biggin Hill, returning at 1710 hours. The Squadron was released at 1851 hours. A letter of thanks was received from the Chilean Ambassador.
Friday, 20 February, 1942
Weather remains the same day to day; cold and hazy, vis fair. Practice flying consisting of cine-gun and formation flying was carried out. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was put on readiness. Nothing exciting happened today with the exception that soap is to be rationed as of today. Horrors. The Games Rooms on Site 1&7, equipped by the Salvation Army Branch of Auxiliary Services, opened for the airmen’s pleasure at 1700 hours. Although confined by space, these rooms have been decorated, and furnished with writing tables, games, reading material and radios. These rooms should be an asset to the sites. 11 Group signalled at 1700 hours that F/L Wood was awarded the DFC. Congratulations ‘Timber’ (from Ottawa way out west). We are very pleased about this as F/L Wood has been with the Squadron since its formation. This brings the number of DFCs awarded to personnel while serving with this Squadron to three. Who Next!
Saturday, 21 February, 1942
Weather today was cold with snow flurries and 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud, vis 1,000 to 4,000 yards. One section was put at readiness from 0719 hours. The pilots went to the link trainer. The Wing was released in the afternoon for organized sport. Some of the pilots went to town. P/O Hurst and P/O Aitken went on seven days leave. The Officers of 403 Squadron attended a dance given by the Suffolk Regiment at Hill Hall. Jolly good show. There was a dance on station at Drury Lane for the NCOs and Airmen. Photographs of 403 Squadron appeared in Canada Weekly, February 21 edition. The COs inspected the new billets.
Sunday, 22 February, 1942
Weather, light snow with 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. Vis 1 to 4 miles and less in snow. Weather tests reported that it was unfit for flying. Little or no activity today. The Squadron was brought to readiness at 1515 hours as enemy aircraft were reported but the Squadron was moved back to 30 minutes readiness almost immediately. Another very fine ENSA show was enjoyed this evening by most of the personnel.
Monday, 23 February, 1942
Weather mainly cloudy clearing slowly. Practice flying, formation and cine-gun were carried out. ‘B’ Flight was on readiness at 1300 hours and ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes. F/S Rainville went on a flight to Martlesham and returned. The Squadron was released at 1913 hours. S/L Campbell went on seven days leave, a well-earned rest. F/L Wood assumed command of the Squadron.
Tuesday, 24 February, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with some light snow. Cloud was 8/10ths based at 2,000 to 4,000 feet with vis 2 to 5 miles. The Squadron was at readiness at 0658 hours. At 0854 hours, two sections went on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness. Relief sections were sent out during the morning, landing at 1330 hours. P/O Hurst made a crash landing, the aircraft was damaged but he was unhurt. Practice flying was carried out during the afternoon – formation and cine-gun. The Squadron was brought to readiness at 1500 hours for 45 minutes. P/O Aitken, P/O Magwood, F/S Rainville and Sgt Beurling TOB at 1640 hours for Hunsdon to do night flying. F/L Wood and P/O Dick went over by motor car.
Wednesday, 25 February, 1942
Weather still cloudy, becoming fair with occasional light snow. Cloud was 8/10ths to 10/10ths at 2,000 to 4,000 feet and vis was 2 to 6 miles. The pilots returned from Hunsdon after making an excellent showing at night flying. 14 hours, 45 minutes were piled up. This is tops. One Flight was brought to readiness at 0837 hours, the remainder practised formation flying, cine-gun, amp reading and pin-pointing. Two sections went on convoy patrol but were recalled. The Squadron was released from operations at 1525 hours. All of the pilots went to the lecture room at Station Intelligence for a talk by AVM Leigh-Mallory on ‘Review of War and our Possibilities in the Spring of 1942’ and some gen talk on a new type of engine for Spitfires and collapsible tanks. Very instructive and interesting talk ending on the watchword ‘Physical Fitness for Pilots’.
Thursday, 26 February, 1942
Weather cloudy with light snow. 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud base at 1,500 feet. Vis 1 to 2 miles. No activity today. One section was at readiness at 1300 hours to 1919 hours. F/L Wood went on a familiarization flight. Tonight the Officers and NCOs bade farewell, good luck, and God’s keeping to two of our gamiest and smallest pilots, F/Ss Crist and Ryckman on their posting overseas (East). A keen pair doing excellent teamwork.
Friday, 27 February, 1942
Weather cloudy becoming fair in the afternoon, closing late afternoon. One section was at readiness at 15 minutes and ‘A’ Flight at 30 minutes, available from 0920 hours to release at 1330 hours. Eight a/c went at different periods on familiarization flights to Needham Market. F/L Wood and Sgt Olmsted did a sector reconnaissance. Flying was discontinued at 1655 hours. F/S Campbell, with AC1 Baldwin went to Hornchurch where they remained overnight due to weather closing in. S/L Belton and Frayne (RCAF Padres) visited 403 Squadron. S/L Belton is our visiting Padre and has promised to look after the interests of the personnel, providing comforts, amusements and to their spiritual welfare. They were favourably impressed with the set-up here and spent the afternoon chatting with pilots, officers and airmen. Sgts Connell and O’Neill posted overseas. Good luck.
Saturday, 28 February, 1942
Weather cloudy to fair with smoke haze and low cloud, 10/10ths at 500 to 1,500 feet. Vis 1 to 3 miles. Two a/c were at readiness at 0647 hours. The Squadron went on readiness at 0800 hours to 1304 hours and was released at 30 minutes availability. The trippers, F/S Campbell and AC1 Baldwin, returned from Hornchurch. During the afternoon 7 ATC visited the Squadron and were taken up for flips. The Squadron is still waiting for ‘fun and games’ with the Army. Gift cigarettes were distributed to all personnel this afternoon. These were most necessary for the majority of the airmen.
RCAF Officers – aircrew – 9
RCAF Officers – ground – 4
RCAF Airmen – aircrew – 15
RCAF Airmen – ground – 130
RAF Officers – aircrew – 2
RAF Officers – ground – 1
RAF Airmen – aircrew – 1
RAF Airmen – ground – 68
Operational flying time – 182 hours
Training flying time – 241 hours
Patrols carried out – 129 operational
Spitfires – 18 Magister – 1 Tiger Moth – 1
CASUALTIES CLAIMED BY PILOTS WITH 403 SQUADRON
UP TO AND INCLUDING 28 FEBRUARY 1942
Casualties claimed prior to joining the Squadron
Casualties claimed with the Squadron
Honours & Awards
Sunday, 1 March, 1942
Weather cloudy and improving slowly but still with a ground haze. The Squadron was on readiness at 1300 hours awaiting a sham battle to commence. The Squadron was scrambled at 1634 hours. 13 a/c took-off (custom 21). F/S Campbell landed on account of engine trouble. Attacked enemy forces in the Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds area at 1755 hrs. All sections landed and were released at 1924 hours. Sgt Olmsted went to Duxford for a camera gun course. He was taken there in the Magister by Sgt Hubbard.
Monday, 2 March, 1942
Weather foggy and dull. S/L Campbell returned from leave. One Section of ‘B’ Flight at 15 minutes readiness and ‘A’ Flight at 30 minutes.
Tuesday, 3 March, 1942
The Fog was very bad in the early morning, slowly clearing towards noon. At 1414 hours, the Squadron took-off with 12 a/c to rendezvous with 12 Havocs and did a feint towards France returning to Manston. The Wing formed up well the Havocs, flying a course to Bradwell Bay, then across towards Manston. The Wing turned there and flew back to North Weald. The Biggin Hill and Kenley Wings then swept across the channel after we left. We brought up 100 huns over the French Coast, but Biggin Hill and Kenley did not clash with them. At 1530 hours, all the sections landed. Sgt Hubbard was granted permission to do Army Co-operation. Sgt Campbell and Sgt Oliver went on formation flying. F/L Spear accompanied F/L Fleming and Matthews who takes over his job on personnel at 1600 hours.
Wednesday, 4 March, 1942
Rain all day, with visibility less than 1,000 yards. ‘B’ Flight was up at dawn to take-off for Martlesham Heath for air to air firing practice. Not to be outdone, ‘A’ Flight also arose early with 1 section on readiness and the remainder of ‘B’ Flight at 15 minutes notice. A film was shown in the Intelligence Room at 1545 hours for the pilots. The Squadron was released at 1929 hours. F/O Francis, the adjutant arrived at 1900 hours.
Thursday, 5 March, 1942
Rain, low cloud and visibility at 1,000 yards. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flight were on readiness at 0641 hours with ‘A’ Flight having one section at readiness and two section on 15 minutes and ‘B’ Flight at 30 minutes. The Squadron was released at 1300 hours.
Friday, 6 March, 1942
Low cloud with visibility of 1,000 yards. Customs 32 on weather test and S/L Campbell went to RCAF HQ at Lincoln’s Inn Fields at 1000 hours to attend a conference. No practice flying today. F/O Carlyle went on 48 hours leave prior to his posting to 402 Squadron.
Saturday, 7 March, 1942
Low cloud and mist; the Wing was released for training at 0700 hours – no flying. The Wing Commander instructed all pilots to report to the watchtower at 1200 hours for a track meet. Ran around the perimeter.
Sunday, 8 March, 1942
Thick haze fairly low. At 0915 hours, Red and Yellow Sections went on Convoy patrol. At 0950 hours White Section was scrambled, landing at Hunsdon at 1100 hours and returning to North Weald at 1345 hours. At 1503 hours, the Squadron went on a sweep as close escort to five Havocs who were to bomb the Comfines Power Station, North of Lille with Northolt, Hornchurch and 12 Group Wings acting as cover. We rendezvoused at Bradwell bay at 1536 hours, entering France South of Dunkirk. Funny to see our Wing suddenly start weaving like bats out of he– when the flak started to come up. We reached the target okay, though 121 Wing were not with us as they did not make the rendezvous. Just North of St. Omer on the way home, FW 190s and ME 109s tried to bounce the Havocs. During the engagement, we lost a very good little pilot, P/O Aitken, (it was his first show). Nobody saw what happened to him. Also a great loss, our Wing Commander, W/C Eyre, was shot down by a 109 and was seen going down with glycol pouring out. 121 Wing came in by Dunkirk to pick us up on our way home. They also tangled with 109s and lost one. We brought the bombers back safely. During the circus, the following combats took place. Blue Section – F/L Wood saw two ME109Fs come down out of the sun on the tail of Blue 4. The leader fired and hit Blue 4 on the port aileron. F/L Wood attacked and the 2 109s broke away. He gave the first 109 a burst of cannon and machine gun and then closed with the second 109, giving a continuous 6 or 7 second burst from 200 yards at quarter astern. There was an explosion just behind the pilot’s seat. The e/a poured white, then dark blue smoke and went down in flames. This was confirmed by Blue 4. One e/a claimed destroyed. Blue 3, WO Rainville, got in three different bursts of about 3 to 4 seconds from 150 to 200 yards astern of a ME 109F and saw strikes in the wing root of the e/a and white smoke. The e/a went into a steep dive and was lost to sight. This e/a is claimed as damaged. Yellow 1, P/O Dick was attacked by two ME109Fs as he gave the leader a burst of cannon and machine gun at 300 yards, thirty degrees off head-on position. The e/a dived below Yellow 1 who saw a large piece of his tail unit break away. This e/a is claimed as damaged. At 1740 hours, all a/c, with the exception of W/C Eyre and P/O Aitken returned to base.
Days Score 1 ME109F destroyed and 2 ME 109fs damaged.
Days losses 2 Spitfires, Mk VB.
Monday, 9 March, 1942
Heavy fog, visibility nil. The Squadron was at readiness at 1300 hours and released at 1920 hours. F/O Carlyle became the adjutant, succeeding F/O Francis who left this morning. No flying was done today by the Squadron. W/C Rankin visited the Station to discuss yesterday’s show.
Tuesday, 10 March 1942
Heavy fog all day. The Squadron was suddenly called to readiness at 0600 hours. At 1300 hours, one section of ‘A’ Flight was put at readiness and two sections at 15 minutes, with ‘B’ Flight at 30 minutes. The Squadron was released at 1939 hours. Squadron Leader Campbell went to an AOC conference at 11 Group for the deputising for the Station Commander and W/C Flying. The boys gave Roger Parnell a send off from the ‘Thatch’ in the evening on his posting to Hornchurch.
Wednesday, 11 March 1942
Thick mist and rain all day. The Squadron was released at 1300 hours. Squadron Leader Campbell went to Hunsdon to see S/L Pilson, SMO. Sgt Willington of 109 LCAA Regiment arrived at 1200 hours for liaison duties with 403 Squadron.
Thursday, 12 March 1942
Low cloud to 300 feet in the morning. Red and Blue Sections were airborne at 0955 hours for formation flying. Custom 23 went on an a/c test. Custom 46 did some local flying in the Tiger Moth at 1330 hours and Blue Section went off on cine-gun practice. At 1450 hours Green Section went on cloud flying. and, at 1740 Yellow and blue Section did some formation flying. F/O Francis (the former adjutant) was interviewed by the Canadian Ambassador in town. Sgt B.E. Argue and Sgt H. Olmsted went to the 7th Oxford Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Colchester for liaison duties.
Friday, 13 March, 1942
At 1712 hours, Blue and Green went on dog fights and line astern chase. At 1740 hours, Red Section flew to Clacton-on-sea. Lord Trenchard arrived at 1615 hours and was met by S/L Milne. Second Lt Burbrifge of 48th Tank Regiment arrived here for liaison duties.
Saturday, 14 March, 1942
Thick fog commenced to clear at 1130 hours. At 1445 hours Green Section went on a cloud chase, formation flying and cine-gun practice. Red, Yellow and White Section also did some formation cine-gun. Customs 23, 43 and 28 went to Hunsdon at 1809 hours to do night flying. W/C Scott Malden (now W/C Flying) arrived late last night and inspected number 1&7 sites. The Squadron was released at 1845 hours.
Sunday, 15 March, 1942
Low mist. The Squadron was at readiness at 0730 hours. Blue and Green Sections flew on convoy patrol at Clacton-on-Sea at 0815 hours. Red Section went to Martlesham and, at 1500 hours, Yellow took off on convoy patrol. Red Section was grounded at M32 from 0900 to 1200 hours due to the weather. They then took up convoy patrol until 1730 hours. All of the Squadron returned to North Weald by 1830 hours and the Squadron was released at 1952 hours. Today’s activity had the object primarily of supporting the QS operation which was cancelled. In the evening, the Squadron attended ‘In camp tonight’, a show given by artists from the town. Sgt L.A. Walker went to Sudbury Claire, 1st London Scottish for liaison duties.
Monday, 16 March, 1942
Low cloud and thick haze. At 1300 hours, Green and blue Sections took-off on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness, followed by Red and Yellow Section at 1355 hours and Black and White Sections at 1453 hours. At 1950 hours the Squadron was released from operations. W/C Scott Malden gave a talk to all of the pilots on sweeps and operations. The weather closed in at 1640 hours with visibility less than 1,000 yards and low cloud.
Tuesday, 17 March, 1942
Low cloud and thick haze. ‘A’ Flight was at readiness with one section and two other sections at 15 minutes. ‘B’ Flight was at 30 minutes. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was placed on 30 minutes. W/C Malden went on two new a/c cannon tests. All the a/c were tested for reflex on the ailerons. All a/c landed by 1650 hours.
Wednesday, 18 March, 1942
Rain all day and low clouds. The Squadron was placed on 30 minutes readiness. Repairs were done to the E-W runway. Flights were practised in gas clothing at 1100 hours. After one hour of PT at the gym, the Squadron was released at 1200 hours. 403 Squadron’s anniversary was celebrated at Drury Lane at 2100 hours to 0045 hours. A cheque for 10 pounds from the Canadian Red Cross, along with subscriptions from the pilots and 6d a head from the ranks enabled for the supply of free beer and dance. Congratulatory telegrams were received from P/O Carlyle and S/L Newton, old members of the Squadron, in which they expressed their regret that, owing to the exigencies of the Service, they were sorry that they could not attend. The dance was a great success.
Thursday, 19 March, 1942
Rain and low cloud. Lecture on Air-Sea Rescue was given to the pilots by F/O Bain. The Squadron was at readiness at 1300 hours with one section and the balance at 30 minutes. The spare pilots did some flying in the link trainer. S/L Campbell, accompanied by the adjutant addressed the echelon personnel.
Friday, 20 March, 1942
Heavy fog with occasional rain. Visibility less than ½ mile. Dawn readiness was done by one section of ‘B’ Flight and the remainder of the Squadron on 30 minutes. The Squadron was released at 1635 hours. A Meeting was called at Drury Lane at 1500 hours to finalize arrangements for Warships Week Parade in London. This was attended by S/L Campbell, F/L Wood and 20 men. Capt Foulds, 21st Tank Corps, and Lt Hamilton of the 6th Field Artillery arrived at 1800 hours for liaison duties with 403 Squadron. All of the officers of the Squadron took sunlamp treatment for 15 minutes at 1730 hours. F/O N. Dick went away on leave.
Saturday, 21 March, 1942
Heavy fog all day. Signs of clearing during the afternoon. No rain with visibility of less than ½ mile. S/L Campbell went to London at 0900 hours to tend to Warship Week Parade. The Squadron was on 30 minutes available. Gas attack drill was done at 1030 hours with the all clear given at 1115 hours. Two a/c of ‘A’ Fight has compass swings done. A letter from the AOC, RCAF, dated 12 March was received, requesting daily operational reports and a copy of the Composite Combat Reports. Sgt Pilots and Officers had sun lamp treatment at 1400 hours. P/O Hurst was confined to his quarters with a cold.
Sunday, 22 March, 1942
Heavy fog. Visibility 1,000 yards. At 1300 hours, one section of ‘B’ Flight was on readiness and released at 2000 hours. P/O Parr took church parade. The spare pilots went to the link trainer and the Sgt Pilots took their sun lamp treatment at 1400 hours. F/S S.E. Messum and G.D. Aitken were posted from 403 Squadron to 409 Squadron, effective 23 March 1942.
Monday, 23 March, 1942
Slight haze at 0800 hours, clearing fast. ‘A’ Flight started the day at readiness, with 3 section of ‘B’ Flight at 15 minutes available. F/L Wood went to London to attend Warship Week Parade and then to Inverary Glasgow to attend a course. P/O Hurst was back on duty today. F/S Munn accompanied F/L Wood to London. Convoy patrols off Clacton-on-Sea heading SW commenced at 1000 hours, finishing at1315 hours. At 1130 hours, rumours started of a show at 1500 hours. The circus was later cancelled and a Fighter sweep put on, with the Wing taking off at 1510 hours to Manston, then across to Dunkirk crossing at 1558 hours at 7,000 feet and heading for St. Omer. 3 ME 109s passed on our right and Mainland told us to bounce them. The Wing Commander, who was leading 403 Squadron, saw the e/a on the right and turned into them, then saw a squadron of e/a ahead and above us. We climbed to attack the latter formation. They dived and came up behind us as we withdrew. Some of 121 Squadron made a pass and claimed one as destroyed while 222 Squadron stayed above as cover. We had 11 boys flying; 3 experienced, 3 on the first trip over France and 5 on their second real operational trip. They obeyed instructions well, and the W/C complimented them on their flying. The Squadron landed at 1645 hours. After tea, some new boys went for a trip, while some of the experienced pilots did aileron reflex tests. Dusk flying was cancelled to enable this. The IO, F/O MacKay went to FC 11 Group at 1300 hours.
Tuesday, 24 March, 1942
Thick fog at dawn. The sun broke through at 1200 hours. We were warned of a Circus with a briefing at 222 Squadron dispersal for 1330 hours. All of the Squadron was on hand, including the Adjutant, the MO, and the Army Liaison Officers, Capt Foulds and Lt Hamilton. 12 a/c of this Squadron accompanied 12 a/c of 121 Wing with W/C Malden and 11 a/c from 222 Squadron. We left North Weald at 1245 hours as close escort cover for the bombers. Rendezvous was made over Bradwell Bay at 1500 hours with the bombers and the other wings. We were top squadron, flying at 19,000 feet. The Belgian Coast was reached seven miles North of Ostend at 1530 hours and the target area (Commines) at 1540 hours. Turning right from the target area on the way back, Blue Section was attacked by two FW 190s. Blue 3, F/S Somers, got in a long burst with cannon and machine gun from a range of 75 yards, and observed the e/a fuselage below the engine and the pilot drop away, accompanied by much bluish white smoke. The e/a went into a vertical dive out of control. Sgt Beurling, Blue 4, also saw the e/a fall and saw flames and the a/c disintegrating during its plunge. Sgt Somers, Blue 3, then opened fire on the second FW 190 with machine gum only (having exhausted his cannon) from a range of 250 yards, observing hits but no apparent damage. The e/a dived away. The Squadron was further attacked by three FW 190s. Evasive action was taken by splitting the Squadron up, leaving six a/c behind the main gaggle. Evasive action had to be taken all the way back to the coast and then ten miles out to sea, being attacked later by a FW 190 and joined by an ME 109. During this latter action, Sgt Argue fired a burst of cannon at 150 yards but claims no damage. This was Argue’s first offensive. P/O Hurst fired as well but makes no claim. Sgt Beurling, Blue 4, straggled behind after being attacked by a FW 190 and, later on the way, by 3 FW 190s. He managed to fire a burst into one after a complicated evasive action with wheels down and flaps down. No claim was made. The French Coast on the homeward journey was crossed between Calais and Cape Gris Nez at about 1555 hours. Five of our a/c landed at Manston, two at Southend and five at North Weald. All of our a/c returned undamaged.
Wednesday, 25 March, 1942
Frost during the night with the weather fine with local fog in the morning, clearing later towards noon. There was much ground haze with the wind light and variable. At 1345 hours, the Squadron was briefed for a Circus to Lille. This was cancelled at 1500 hours. The Squadron was airborne on a fighter sweep at 1553 hours. Custom 43, 30 and 31 went on a chatter test. P/O Magwood and F/S Campbell left last night reporting to the 8th Royal Fusiliers, Colchester for liaison duties. Lt R.B. Wright, of the 7th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, Colchester arrived at 1600 hours to take up liaison duties with the Squadron. The Squadron, as middle Squadron with the Wing, made rendezvous with the Hornchurch Wing at 1514 hours at Southend and acted as top cover at 17,000 to 21,000 feet. We crossed Manston at 1530 hours, were over Gravelines at 1545 and then swung on a wife arc sweeping St. Omer and coming out at Le Touquet at 1603 hours. The Wings then swung North to Calais along the coast. Eight burst of red flak was observed behind, when turning at 17,000 feet for home. All of the Squadron a/c landed safely. Two of 222 Squadron’s a/c overshot the runway, One damaged the propeller and the other damaged the propeller and the undercarriage.
Thursday, 26 March, 1942
Heavy fog, clearing to a bright and clear day towards noon. There was a slight ground haze all day. Eight ATC cadets arrived at 1600 hours and were taken in charge of by F/S Walker and shown the Squadron. They left at 1730 hours. Sgt Reynolds, 4 armourers – AC1 Wright, AC1 Gubney, AC1 Elliot, and AC1 St Laurent and one electrician, AC1 Fiske were posted to 417 Squadron for overseas duty, effective 29 march. LAC Arbuckle was transferred from the dispersal to the Squadron Orderly Room. At 1120 hours, two sections got airborne on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was put on 30 minutes available. At 1504 hours, the Squadron took-off for a formation flight over London as part of the Warships Week parade. The Squadron put on a fine show. Excellent formation when passing over the aerodrome. Upon return from London at 1630 hours, the pilots carried out formation flying, aerobatics and army co-operation. At 1925 hours P/O Hurst, F/S Belcher and F/S Olmsted, with S/L Campbell went to Hunsdon to do night flying. The Sgt pilots moved into their new quarters today. Communal centre.
Friday, 27 March, 1942
Heavy ground haze, clearing towards noon. The Squadron was on 30 minutes available as of 0545 hours. At 0820 hours, Yellow Section landed from Hunsdon after night flying. The pilots did a/c testing, army co-operation and formation flying. At 1415 hours, the Squadron was put at readiness for an operational sweep. 403 Squadron, with 12 a/c, was at the bottom of the Wing with 121 Squadron in the middle and 222 Squadron on the top, left North Weald at 1445 hours and made rendezvous at Clacton-on-Sea at 1500 hours with the Hornchurch Wing as escort to 12 Bostons at 9,000 to 10,000 feet. North Weald Wing was escort cover at 11,000 – 12,000 feet and Biggin Hill Wing was top cover at 13,000 – 15,000 feet. The objective was to bomb the power site at Ostend and course was set at 1515 hours on the way over the Channel. W/C Scott-Malden, Red 1, waggled his wings as a sign of trouble, his R/T having packed up, and dived seaward. His Section followed, also Blue Section of 403 and 121 and 222 Squadrons. Seeing the Wing, with the exception of his Section turn back, S/L Campbell called up as Custom Leader, calling Mainland and Bendix leaders to come over here. As no answer was received, he then kept R/T silence, feeling that, owing to their height and the close proximity of the target, less harm would be caused. They sighted the Belgian Coast at 1523 hours. S/L Campbell went over to button C and called the Hornchurch Wing Commander and endeavoured to tell him that the North Weald Wing was not with him, then he went back to button A and took up position above and behind the bombers. The Circus crossed the Belgian Coast at 1525 hours and received some fairly heavy flak eight miles inland. The leading six bombers turned right with S/L Campbell’s Section and the Starboard Squadron of the Hornchurch Wing covering them. The other six bombers turned left and were covered by the port and middle Squadron’s of the Hornchurch Wing. The bombers who turned left straightened out and followed the leading six bombers over the target at Ostend. Heavy, accurate flak was encountered over Ostend which followed us about five miles out to sea. The Bombers, after the attack, opened throttles and dived seaward and were lost in the haze halfway across the Channel. There was a thick haze over the target. Two ships with camouflage painting were observed anchored out in the middle of Ostend’s outer harbour. All of our a/c landed undamaged at 1615 hours. P/O Dick returned from leave at 2200 hours. W/C Scott-Malden gave the Squadron a talking to at 1700 hours after having a conversation with the AOC. Fortunately, all a/c engaged in the action returned safely, as the Northolt and Kenley Wings evidently drew up some sixty e/a in a sweep over Dunkirk at the same time that we went in at Ostend. Lt Wright finished his liaison duties and returned to his regiment.
Saturday, 28 March, 1942
Weather clear with some haze. The Squadron was on 30 minutes availability. The pilots did formation flying, a/c testing, section reconnaissance and Army co-operation. F/L Wood returned at 1800 hours from his Commando Course. The Officers Mess held a dance at 2030 hours to 0100 hours. It was a very good party with good attendance and many visitors. WO Rainville was appointed P/O. P/O Magwood returned from liaison duties.
Sunday, 29 March, 1942
Weather clear and warm with ground haze. One section was put on readiness, with 2 sections on 15 minutes and ‘B’ Flt at 30 minutes. At 0755 Yellow and Red Sections took-off on convoy patrol. At 1030 hours Black and White Sections went on convoy patrol. F/L Wood, while on convoy patrol, sighted floating mine at 1215 hours. He endeavoured to contact the convoy by R/T but received no reply so he reported it to Banjo who obtained a fix. P/O Rainville reported two vessels in the convoy that were flying barrage balloons painted with large black square checks on the top and two black bands along the sides. At 1545 hours, with 403 as top cover, 121 as middle cover and 222 as bottom cover, left North Weald on a fighter sweep, crossing the English Coast at 1610 hours flying at 21,000 feet and hitting the French Coast at Gravelines at 1620 hours at 27,000 feet leaving smoke trails. Enemy aircraft were reported to the SW so we turned to the right to intercept but no contact as made. We left the French Coast west of Cap Gris Nez at 1625 hours with the visibility very poor due to haze. We encountered eight bursts of red flak behind and below us in the vicinity of Guinness. All of our a/c landed undamaged at 1710 hours. P/Os Dick and Magwood, and Sgts Walker and Oliver were detailed to Hunsdon for night fighter practice. P/O Parr left on seven day’s leave at 1330 hours. A National Day of Prayer was observed in Drury lane 1000 – 1100 hours. S/L Shore, RCAF Liaison Officer, Fighter Command, arrived at 1600 hours, departing at 1730 hours.
Monday, 30 March, 1942
Very heavy haze with vis less than 1,000 yards during the morning and no wind. The Squadron was at 30 minutes availability. Combat films covering the sweeps of Feb 12th and March 24th were shown to the pilots at 1030 hours. The vis improved in the late afternoon. Red and Blue Sections got airborne for formation flying at 1800 hours. The night flying section returned from Hunsdon at 1645 hours. P/O Magwood, while taxiing after landing in a/c KH-Z collided with 222 Squadron a/c ZD-R which was parked facing the edge of the runway. Magwood states that the brakes failed to hold and the collision occurred before evasive action could be taken. Damage to ZD-R was slight except for a slightly bent 20-mm cannon. KH-Z was seriously damaged and considered a category B. The pilots received PT and sun lamp treatment during the afternoon. Sgt Monchier left for Liaison with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Queen’s Regiment Ipswich. Sgt Belcher was posted overseas and is to report at West Kirby on April 7th 1942. One 20-mm cannon from 403 Squadron was traded with 222 Squadron to replace the damaged cannon on ZD-R.
Tuesday, 31 March, 1942
Weather, 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud with intermittent rain and drizzle. ‘A’ Flight had one section at readiness and two at fifteen minutes with ‘B’ Flight at 30 minutes as of 1300 hours. The Squadron was released at 2000 hours. The pilot did PT during the morning. No flying all day. The Link Trainer was used in the afternoon. F/L Walker attended a Court of Inquiry this morning. All of the pilots were advised that they are to report, upon returning from patrol, the following:
1. number of ships in the convoy.
2. number of escort vessels.
3. position in course of convoy.
4. all unusual observations.
A letter of thanks for courtesies extended was received from Lt Wright of the 7th Oxford and Bucks Regt who was attached here for liaison duties.
Summarising the months activities, 403 Squadron has made:
Six Operational flights over enemy territories; three as fighter sweeps and three as bomber escort. In these actions we:
Destroyed 1 – ME 109F
1 – FW 190
Damaged 2 – ME 109F
Our losses – R.D. Aitken and 1 Spitfire Mk VB
Those engaged on these operational flights were, for the most part, new pilots in combat for the first time. They have acquitted themselves well, and the ground crew are to be congratulated for their part in the work as only one aircraft in these engagements had to turn back as a result of mechanical trouble. Weather permitting convoy patrols were also carried out and every clear day saw a/c airborne when not on operations, doing aerobatics, formation and aircraft testing and night flying. With the improvement in the weather during the past two weeks, there has been little time for social-life, the boys preferring to turn in early. Everyone looks fit and we have had no hospital cases.
RCAF Officers – aircrew – 9
RCAF Officers – ground – 4
RCAF Airmen – aircrew – 17
RCAF Airmen – ground – 142
RAF Officers – aircrew – 2
RAF Officers – ground – 1
RAF Airmen – aircrew – 1
RAF Airmen – ground – 109
Operational Flying time – 238 hours
Training flying time – 256 hours
Patrols carried out – 117
a/c on strength: Spitfires – 18
Magister – 1
Moth (Tiger) – 1
Copy of a Newspaper article was inserted:
‘Ottawa Airman Flies Policemen’s Spitfire’
With the RCAF somewhere in England, April 8 – (CP) – ‘The Canadian Policeman, a trim, cannon firing Spitfire, was presented today to a Canadian fighter Squadron commanded by Sqn L C.N.S. Campbell, DFC, of the Royal Air Force, on behalf of the policemen of Canada and the United States.
The fighter, which will be flown by a former Mountie, PO Gordon Hoben of Ottawa, a veteran of 15 trips over enemy territory as a bomber pilot, was turned over by Sir Phillip Game, superintendent of the London Metropolitan Police and accepted for the RCAF by Air-Vice Marshall Harold Edwards, who recalled the RCMP’s reputation for getting its man.’
Wednesday, 1 April, 1942
Weather, clear with scattered cloud at 4,000 feet. The CO inspected the armoury, MT and dispersal. The Squadron was at readiness at 0537 hours and briefed for a circus to the RR yards at Boulogne. The Wing got airborne at 1220 hours and made rendezvous with 11 Bostons at Chatham at 1256 hours. The circus consisted of the bomber at 14,000 feet, the Biggin Hill Wing as close escort at 15,000 to 17,000 feet, the North Weald Wing as escort cover at 18,000 to 21,000 feet and the Northolt Wing as top cover in loose fours. 403 Squadron was in the middle position of the North Weald Wing.
The Circus crossed the French Coast at Le Touquet at 1304 hours, the Northolt Wing then turned South with Biggin Hill and North Weald turning left and following the railroad to Boulogne. The Circus came out at Cap Gris Nez at 1315 hours, meeting up with the Hornchurch Wing which swept across the French Coast covering our withdrawal. They came in South of Cap Gris Nez and crossed the French Coast West of Calais. Flak was encountered all the way from Le Touquet to Cap Gris Nez and ten of the eleven bombers were escorted home. All of our a/c returned safely after landing at Southend due to weather which was closing in at North Weald.
Late in the afternoon, S/L Campbell took 10 a/c with less experienced pilots on Army co-operation, getting airborne at 1650 hours doing manoeuvres around Chelmsford. F/L Walker went on three days leave upon his return from Hendon and flew down to Southend with F/S McDonald in the Tiger Moth.
F/O Dean, press liaison officer came here today. P/O Magwood, Sgts Aitken and Walker wrote reports on their liaison duties with the Army. They were very interesting to read and show keen observation. The reports were typed in detail and transmitted to 11 Group HQ.
F/S Argue has now finished reading all information available on starting procedure for the ME 109 and states that the pamphlet 114A, page 2, has typographical error under flying the aircraft (i) radiator shutter control (13) to start fuel pump in tank, should read 12 instead of 13 also the cockpit illustration should have a picture showing the right-hand side of the cockpit.
Thursday, 2 April, 1942
Weather, clear, visibility unlimited with a brisk breeze from the SW. The Squadron was on 30 minutes availability. The pilots did army co-operation, formation, dogfights and Sector reconnaissance. AC1 Barby and AC1 Chiaisson were posted as fitters to 417 Squadron for overseas duty. A new Spitfire, Mk VB, BM185 was delivered to ‘A’ Flight. F/S Monchier, while taxiing in AD199, collided with a truck parked on the perimeter track at 1600 hours, damaging the port wing and oleo leg. The inquiry puts most of the blame on the truck driver. F/S Oliver was posted overseas as a test pilot; the boys gave him a farewell dinner at the ‘Thatch’. Orders were received at 1800 hours for all Officers to carry revolvers. F/L Connie Riddle was posted to Gravesend for 3 weeks. W/C Stewart paid a visit to the dispersal today.
Friday, 3 April, 1942
Weather, some ground haze, with clouds at 2,000 feet breaking towards noon. Visibility fair.
The Squadron was at readiness at 1300 hours and scrambled to Clacton-on-Sea at 1338 hours. F/S Beurling, while taxiing in KH-W for take-off on the scramble, gunned the engine too quickly while on rough ground, hitting bumps at the edge of the perimeter track and buckled the port wheel, then ground looping and striking a/c KH-V. He damaged the starboard wing and the propeller of KH-V and the oleo leg and port wing of KH-W.
The pilots did formation flying and cannon testing today. Instructions were received from the ops to strafe AA gun positions at co-ordinates 7516 W during official visit of Right Honourable Winston Churchill and other officials. One section, led by F/O Norman Dick with F/S Somers, F/S Walker and P/O Tillier took off at 1528 hours. They patrolled for 30 minutes at 4,000 to 6,000 feet between North Weald and Radlett, until they were notified by ops to start the attack. F/O Dick led the section over the target area in starboard echelon formation at 2,000 feet, then peeled off in pairs making in all some 30 attacks on the gun position. On the first attack, Dick and Somers came down between the surrounding structures and strafed the gun position from a 20-foot elevation. The Government officials and spectators ran for cover but the Prime Minister appeared to stand fast. By carrying out numerous attacks from all angles in pairs, the gun crew appeared to have had some difficulty in orienting the fire. At the close of the action, the section climbed to 2,000 feet and flew in pairs in line astern, then echelon starboard to echelon port, then box formation while carrying out shallow dives during each manoeuvre. The Section returned to North Weald at 1659 hours.
Dawn readiness tomorrow so everyone turned in early.
Saturday, 4 April, 1942
Weather, visibility fair with scattered cumulus clouds at 3,000 feet, closing in with occasional showers during the late afternoon. The Squadron was called to readiness at 0530 hours and briefed for a sweep at 0900 hours. The briefing was as follows: 403 Squadron as bottom Squadron, 121 Squadron in the middle and 222 Squadron as top cover, with the Wing acting as forward support with freedom of action to sweep occupied France between Dunkirk and Nieuport, then turning South across Poperinghe and Cassel, then turning at St. Omer and coming out between Gravelines and Calais. The North Weald Wing was to cross the French Coast at 25-27,000 feet. This sweep is timed to cover the withdrawal of bombers from a target at St. Omer. Twelve Bostons are to make rendezvous at Chatham at 1000 hours, forming up with the Kenley Wing as escort at 14-16,000 feet, Northolt as escort cover at 17-19,000 feet and Biggin hill as top cover at 20-23,000 feet. The course is from Chatham to Hardelot to target at St. Omer at 1034 hours and home across the French Coast East of Calais. The Hornchurch Wing is to act as target support, flying at 20-22,000 feet to accompany any bombers as far as Aire, then to turn North, sweeping Dunkirk, Gravelines and across the French Coast at Cap Gris Nez homewards.
Action The North Weald Wing took-off at 0934 hours and crossed the French Coast East of Dunkirk at 1032 hours, after delaying for five minutes upon instructions from ops. The Wing swept Poperinghe, Cassel and St. Omer where eight-plus huns were seen. We dived to attack, then the e/a made off. Coming out between Calais and Gravelines, several FW 190s were encountered. In the melee with the FW 190s, F/S Campbell was attacked but suffered no damage. P/O Magwood was attacked at close range by an unknown Spitfire which fired upon him. Fortunately he was not hit, as whoever the Spit pilot was, he was not a very good marksman. W/C Scott Malden, after his encounter with the FW 190s, stayed to pick up stragglers and to protect F/S Campbell. F/O Dick and P/O Rainville fired but claim no damage. Six of our a/c landed at Manston, two at Southend and three at North Weald with all a/c returning safely. The weather during this sweep was none too good, the French Coast was visible but further inland was overcast including the target area. All of the bombers returned safely but some casualties were suffered in the fighter escort.
F/L Walker and F/S Munn returned from leave today. P/O Bill Zoochkan went away on leave as was P/O Amour who went on a 48-hour. F/S Walker (Blue 2) hit a soft spot on the aerodrome when taking off this morning and was bogged down, missing the sweep.
Sir Archibald Sinclair cancelled his appointment to address the pilots today. All of the ATC cadets that visited the Squadron were given rides by Sgt Beurling in the Tiger. He topped his flying time off by giving the dispersal staff, Batty and Hays rides as well. Beurling is very much at home in the air and can certainly handle the a/c. Ops reported ‘outward’ today at 1400 to 1800 hours.
Sunday, 5 April, 1942
Visibility fair – cumulus nimbus clouds at 1,500 feet with occasional showers. The Squadron was made available at 30 minutes at 0628 hours. F/L Wood, Sgt Hubbard, Sgt Johnson and Sgt Rawson left for Martlesham Heath for air firing practice at 1005 hours. Upon arrival, F/L Wood continued on to see how the weather looked while Sgt Hubbard brought the section in to land down wind. He noticed his mistake as he was about to touchdown and pulled away. Johnson also went around on his own. Sgt Rawson hit the deck and turned over in the middle of the aerodrome. A/C KH-V W3170 was a complete wash out. Rawson was seriously injured and present reports indicate a broken jaw bone, badly cut face and injury to his eyes with the possible loss of sight in one eye. Tough break for Rawson, not much chance for him to fly again. The air ambulance took him to No. 1 Military hospital. The accident occurred at 1035 hours.
P/O Rainville, F/Ss Messum, Aitken, and Monchier also went to Martlesham Heath for air firing, leaving at 1050 hours and returning at 1645 hours.
F/S Munn went on a cannon test and P/O Magwood did some army co-op. F/S Argue returned from Manston and gave a good detailed statement of unknown Spitfire that opened fire on Red 3 on April 4 sweep.
S/L Jackson from FC HQ visited S/L Campbell and had tea with us. P/O Parr returned from 7 days of leave with friends, reporting that the only thing that was rationed was the food. F/O Francis (adjutant) and F/O MacKay looked over the aerodrome defence areas with particular reference to 403 Squadron.
Monday, 6 April, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus cloud at 1,500 feet. Quite cold with fair visibility. The Squadron was put on 30 minutes at 0700 hours. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was put on readiness, then released at 2130 hours. At 1120 hours, Black and White Sections went off on convoy patrol, with Green Section following at 1543 hours.
The boys were not very accurate on the number of ships seen and will do better the next time. F/L Wood was the only one to give a clear account; he reported 47 merchant vessels escorted by 3 destroyers, 2 corvettes heading NE from Shoeburyness past Harwich. he also reported having seen 2 minesweepers heading West towards the Coast. A Gladiator was observed diving on the Island fortress off Frenton-on-Sea. F/L Wood closed in and examined the markings to make sure that it was a friendly a/c.
P/O Hoben arrived to officially take over the new Spitfire VB that is to be named ‘Canadian Policeman’. This a/c was donated to the cause by the Canadian Police effort. A ceremony is to take place at 1500 hours April 8th. Hoben was formerly RNWMP and we trust that the old saying of the RNWMP that they always get their man will go for pilot and aircraft.
G/C Pike, DFC and bar, along with our CO inspected the defence drill for 403 Squadron personnel at 1730 hours.
W/O Belcher was away today for his overseas posting. Nice chap, Belcher, quite and unassuming, he does his work well; we wish him the best of luck.
‘Toothy’ the dentist, with his wife and two friends was hit by another car and turned over while driving in London last night. Toothy got out through the top and had his shoe sole torn-off but nobody was hurt. Toothy did not dare breath on the policeman who took his number.
Tuesday, 7 April, 1942
Weather, heavy rain during the night with cumulus at 1,000 feet in the morning which cleared towards noon. The Squadron was at readiness 0624 hours and convoy patrols were carried out with 10 ships reported seen entering the Thames estuary accompanied by 2 Destroyers. The escort asked P/O Rainville if he could spot one vessel about 30 miles astern, this vessel could not be located.
F/L Reid and F/O Dean, Canadian Press Officers, paid 403 Squadron a short visit and were given a news item concerning P/O Dick’s section strafing the AA gun position during the inspection made by the Prime Minister and his party. Those pilots not on convoy patrol did some formation flying and sector reconnaissance.
P/O Hurst went away on 7 days leave. F/S Campbell and Sgt Johnson went to HQ, 56 Division for liaison duties. They were picked up by an army transport which brought Major S.W. Peet of the 2/6 Queen’s Royals and Capt Strick of the 1st London Irish here for liaison duties. F/L Connie Riddell dropped in today in a Magister from Southend for a short visit. The ‘Daily Sketch’ today has a picture of F/L Brad Walker doing a ‘roll off the top’ on the ground.
Wednesday 8 April, 1942
Weather clear at North Weald with slight ground haze. The Squadron was at readiness at 0620 hours and was briefed at 0645 hours as follows: The North Weald Wing, with 222 Squadron on the bottom at 16,000 feet, 403 Squadron in the middle at 17,000 feet, and 121 Squadron as top cover at 19,000 feet would make rendezvous with the Debden and Hornchurch Wings at Bradwell Bay at 0730 hours, to cross the French Coast between Dunkirk and Nieuport at 0750 hours. The Debden Wing would be below us at 14,000 -15,000 feet and the Hornchurch Wing above us flying between 20,000 – 22,000 feet.
We were to sweep over Poperinghe at 0755 hours, St. Omer at 0800 hours, then split up with North Weald coming out East of Cap Gris-Nez at 0807 hours, the Debden Wing at Gravelines at 0805 hours and the Hornchurch Wing just North of Boulogne at 0807 hours with all wings having the freedom of action to bounce any e/a.
In addition to this and timed to cross the French Coast as we were to be coming out, the Northolt Wing at 15,000 – 18,000 feet, the Tangmere Wing at 19,000 – 21,000 feet were to leave the English Coast at Littlestone at 0759 hours and cross the French Coast North of Boulogne at 0807 hours, then turn left to come out west of Calais homeward. The Biggin Hill Wing at 9,000 – 12,000 feet, along with the Kenley Wing at 14,000 – 17,000 feet were to leave the English Coast at Winchelsea at 0739 hours and cross the French Coast at Hardelot at 0750 hours, coming out East of Cap Gris-Nez at 0757 hours.
403 Squadron took-off on the sweep at 0715 hours, made the rendezvous at Bradwell Bay at 0732 hours and crossed the French Coast between Dunkirk and Nieuport at 0753 hours. We swept Poperinghe and St. Omer and came out at St. Inglevert at 0810 hours, encountering eight bursts of flak South of Calais at 16,000 feet and another burst of 6 from St. Inglevert at 16,500 feet. At St. Inglevert W/C Scott Malden reported ME 109s flying East along the Coast which S/L Campbell endeavoured to intercept by orbiting the Squadron in a left turn and sweeping Ambleteuse and marquis re-crossing the French Coast at St. Inglevert and heading home. All of our a/c returned undamaged at 0840 hours. Convoy patrol carried out by Red and Yellow Sections who got airborne at 1055 hours. P/O Parr reports 7 merchant ships escorted by 2 Destroyers off Harwich heading southbound.
At 1400 hours, a rehearsal for the dedication of the ‘Canadian Policeman’ was done by ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights. At 1500 hours the Flights took up their positions flanking the a/c, ‘Canadian Policeman,’ for the actual parade. Sir Philip Game, Supt of the Metropolitan Police , made the presentation, which was accepted by Air-Vice Marshall Edwards. S/L Campbell introduced P/O Hoben, the pilot who is to fly the a/c. Also in attendance were a detachment of the former RCMP who are now attached to the Army. Sir Phillip took the salute on the march past. Thanks to the coaching of the CO, the Squadron formed up well and looked quite smart. Tea was served in the Mess for the visitors after the ceremony.
F/O Deans and Mr. Hunter of the Canadian Press, as well as some photographers were here to attend the presentation of the Spitfire. F/O Francis took Dean to Hill Hall to see antique furniture. Dean was particularly intrigued with the combination easy chair and commode and the gilded bed adorned with a crown and a coat of arms now occupied by S/L Campbell, DFC.
Upon landing from the sweep, F/S Argue taxied KH-R into another aircraft, which had its nose projecting too far over the runway, damaging the propeller reduction gear and possibly the main plane of KH-R and causing glycol to leak from the damaged propeller and engine cowling of the other aircraft.
Thursday, 9 April, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cloud and rain all day. The Squadron was called to readiness at 0530 hours and this was cancelled at 0545. No flying today. W/C Scott Malden gave a lecture to the Wing with regard to e/a claims by pilots. He stated that too much deflection was allowed in firing, that most pilots opened fire at too great a range and were not sufficiently educated in judging distances.
Air Marshall Sir Sholto Douglas of Fighter Command was due to arrive at teatime. He arrived at the dispersal at 1715 hours, with W/C Scott Malden and G/C Pike who chatted with S/L Campbell and met with the pilots. F/S Hubbard was posted to an air-sea rescue Squadron.
Friday, 10 April, 1942
Weather, 5/10ths cloud with a ceiling at 2,000 – 3,000 feet. At 0620 hours one section was put on readiness with 2 sections at 15 minutes. ‘A’ Flight was at 30 minutes availability. The Wing was briefed at 1600 hours. The North Weald Wing, as cover for the Debden Wing, is to rendezvous at Bradwell Bay at 1700 hours at 2,000 feet and set course for Gravelines, crossing the French Coast at 1722 hours. The Debden Wing, was to be at 14,000 – 15,0000 feet, North Weald at 17,000 – 19,000 feet, with 222 Squadron on top, 121 Squadron in the middle and 403 Squadron at the bottom position. Wings were to sweep Cassel, St. Omer and come out at Hardelot with freedom of action. Timed to engage any e/a that were stirred up by this, the Biggin Hill Wing, at 14,000 – 17,000 feet, Kenley Wing at 18,000 – 22,000 feet and the Hornchurch Wing at 23,000 – 25,000 feet were to leave West Mallings at 1706 hours and cross the French Coast at Hardelot at 1723 hours. They would then turn left, sweeping St. Omer before splitting up with Biggin Hill coming out East of Cap Gris-Nez, and Kenley and Hornchurch coming out at Gravelines. The Tangmere Wing at 18,000 – 20,000 feet, along with the Northolt Wing at 15,000 – 17,000 feet were to leave the English Coast at Dungeness, cross the French Coast East of Gravelines at 17,000 – 19,000 feet at 1715 hours and sweep Cassel and St. Omer before turning right and forming up in pairs abreast, coming out at Hardelot at 1730 hours at 15,000 feet, making landfall at Dungeness at 1740 hours.
Twenty bursts of flak accurate for height were encountered South of Boulogne, coming from a battery of about 12 AAs. No e/a were encountered and all of our a/c landed undamaged. Those taking part in this sweep were:
Red Section Blue Section Yellow Section
W/C Scott Malden S/L C. Campbell F/L C. Wood
P/O W. Munn F/S G. Walker P/O G. McDonald
F/L B. Walker P/O L. Somers P/O J. Parr
P/O C. Magwood Sgt G. Beurling F/S C. Olmsted
Larry Somers, Bill Munn and Hammy McDonald received appointments as Pilot Officers and went to London today to get outfitted. F/S Campbell was appointed W/O. Well deserved promotions for all. Sgt Johnson and W/O Campbell returned from Army liaison duties and Major Peet and Capt Strick returned to their duties. F/O Dick returned from three days at Martlesham Heath. W. (Bill) Zoochkan returned from seven days leave at Bournemouth.
The Magister, piloted by 222 Squadron with an Army liaison officer on board crashed on a crosswind landing. No one was hurt but the starboard wing and engine on the Magister were badly damaged. The Squadron was released at 2000 hours.
Saturday, 11 April, 1942
Weather, high-scattered cloud, with fair visibility and late afternoon ground haze.
The Squadron was at 30 minutes availability during the day and was released from this at 1700 hours. The Squadron did weather tests, formation and cannon tests off of Bradwell Bay.
At 1400 hours, the W/C gave a talk on air-sea rescue in 222 Squadron Dispersal to the Wing. this was followed by a practical demonstration of inflating a dinghy in the water reservoir, the pilot demonstrating being the one who pranged the Magister. P/O Magwood (Maggie) took-off with a good looking blonde for two days leave. Somers, McDonald and Munn are back from London, fully equipped by Simpsons who turned out a good job in 18 hours. Brad Walker’s sea-going brother arrived to spend a few days holiday. He is training for invasions barges. All of the Officers went to the ‘Thatch’ at 2000 hours to initiate the new members of the Officer’s mess then went home to Hill Hall. We evidently stirred up a few Jerrys yesterday for the Tangmere and Northolt Wings.
Sunday, 12 April, 1942
Weather was clear all of the day; no cloud with a slight ground haze. The Squadron was on 30 minutes so the pilots did dog fighting, sector reconnaissance, aerobatics and Army co-op in the morning. At 1200 hours we were briefed for a Circus in 222 Squadron Dispersal. The North Weald Wing is to act as escort to 9 Bostons, with 222 Squadron at the front at 10,000 feet, 121 Squadron at the back and sides of the bombers at 10,000 feet and 403 Squadron on top and slightly behind the bombers at 11,000 feet. Rendezvous at Clacton-on-Sea at 1300 hours is to be made with the Debden Wing acting as close escort at 12,000 – 15,000 feet, and Hornchurch as high cover at 16,000 – 18,000 feet. Course for the French Coast is to be set crossing between Dunkirk and Nieuport at 1323 hours, then flying South to a point ten miles East of Hazebroock at 1330 hours. We are to be over the target area at 1330 hours and come out at Gravelines at 1340 hours. The Kenley and 12 Group Wings would act as rear support and were to leave West Mallings at 1317 hours, crossing the French Coast at Cap Gris-Nez at 1334 hours, then sweeping West and coming out at Gravelines at 1340 hours. The Kenley Wing would be at 15,000 – 17,000 feet, with 12 group at 18,000 – 21,000 feet, Tangmere at 15,000 – 16,000 feet, 10 group at 17,000 – 19,000 feet and the Northolt Wing at 20,000 – 23,000 feet as target support, leaving Beachy Head at 1306 hours, crossing the French Coast at Hardelot at 1322 hours and then splitting up. Tangmere would orbit East of St. Omer, 10 Group to orbit the target area and the Northolt Wing to sweep inland to West of Bethune and all Wings coming out at 1341 hours.
Action. The Wing made the rendezvous at 1300 hours and crossed the coast with the bombers East of Gravelines at 1323 hours. We were over the target at 1330 hours and came out West of Dunkirk at 1340 hours. Flak was encountered for a depth of five miles in from the coast. Blue Section was attacked by several FW190s which came in from above at 11 o’clock at 11,000 feet and were driven off with bursts from F/L Walker and P/O Munn. S/L Campbell saw two FW 190s come up from below to attack the bombers and led his section in and headed off the attack. Four other a/c made a diving attack on the bombers and, just before running over the target the rear port bomber was hit in the Starboard engine and fell away. Bombs appeared to miss the target and fell to the West of the RR yard. F/L Walker and P/O Munn had another encounter with a ME 109 from 250 yards but observed no damage. The W/C fired a burst at a ME 109 and this attack was continued by F/S Argue who fired a good burst from 250 yards, closing to 150 yards. The e/a went into a shallow dive, and F/S Argue could not follow up as another e/a opened fire on him from above and astern, with tracer passing over his port wing. P/O Rainville fired short bursts at two FW 190s and 1 ME 109 from a range of 500 yards but saw no damage. P/O McDonald attacked 2 109s and fired short bursts but observed no damage before he was attacked by three FW 190s. He saw tracer pass overhead, turned and made a front attack scaring two of the e/a off, then turned inside the other e/a and got in another burst but without seeing any damage. He then went into a spin and levelled at 6,000 feet and set course for home having lost Beehive. All of our a/c returned undamaged to the base.
Monday, 13 April, 1942
Weather, clear with a slight ground haze and high cirrus clouds. ‘A’ Flight was at readiness at 0625 hours and ‘B’ Flight on 15 minutes availability. At 1034 hours, Red and Yellow Sections were scrambled and airborne within 3 minutes. They were given vector of 140 to intercept bandits at Manston, then changed to 020 for Clacton-on-Sea before being notified that the bandits were friendly aircraft and returning to base. The Squadron was on the top line at 1250 hours and briefed at 1355 hours for a fighter sweep on which they got airborne at 1403 hours.
403 Squadron was top cover in the Wing at 25,000 feet and made rendezvous with Debden, Hornchurch and Biggin Hill Wings at 1430 hours. We were over Manston at 1440 hours and crossed the French Coast at Gravelines at 1450 hours. We turned right, sweeping Marquis and coming out at Ambleteuse at 1500 hours. Some flak was encountered from Boulogne which burst at 20,000 feet. Only two e/a were seen which were out of range and below the Wings when we were going in. Some excitement occurred at 1930 hours when F/S Monchier came in to land and could not get his wheels down. F/L ‘Timber’ Wood took-off and talked to Monchier, telling him to side slip to try to force the wheels down, and then by way of encouragement said, “you had better land on the grass, it’s a bit softer, I’m holding my ears for the prang” and then promised him a day off if he brought it down in one piece. S/L Campbell directed Monchier through Ops. Everything went off okay with Monchier landing without damage and smiling. P/O John Rainville went on 7 days leave today.
Tuesday, 14 April, 1942
Weather, clear with no cloud and a slight ground haze. The Squadron was briefed at 1100 hours. North Weald Wing was to act as diversion wing with Kenley and Hornchurch, rendezvousing at West Mallings. Kenley was at 16,000 – 19,000 feet, North Weald at 20,000 – 23,000 feet and Hornchurch at 24,000 – 26,000 feet. 403 was in the middle position of the Wing. 12 Bostons, escorted by the Tangmere Wing were to take-off from Tangmere at 1200 hours, reach the target which is the Caen powerhouse at 1230 hours and return to Tangmere at 1308 hours.
North Weald made the rendezvous at West Mallings at 1150 hours and was over Beachy Head at 1211 hours. We crossed the French Coast at Fecamp at 1230 hours, turning left and sweeping the French Coastline coming out at Le Treport at 1240 hours, before heading home for North Weald over Hastings. No enemy were seen although Ops reported 40 plus e/a at 20,000 feet between Dieppe and Le Treport heading South East which were not seen by our Wings. No Flak was encountered. All of our a/c returned undamaged. F/L Walker has a loose hood and had to return soon after take-off. Flying KH-X ‘Canadian Policeman’ on its first do was P/O Doug Hurst.
A short briefing was given by the CO at 1700 hours. North Weald was to rendezvous at base with Debden at 21,000 – 23,000 feet, with 403 Squadron on the bottom, 121 in the middle and 222 on top. We were then to pass over Hawkinge and cross the French Coast at St. Inglevert. Two other sweeps of other Wings were to proceed our take-off to stir up e/a. Action S/L Campbell reports that they left Hawkinge at 1835 hours with the Debden Wing not in position and were halfway across the Channel before one of its Squadrons got into position. The W/C reported the others to still be orbiting at the rendezvous. The French Coast was crossed at Ambleteuse at 1845 hours then they turned left and swept 10 miles inland coming out at St. Inglevert at 1852 hours. Heavy flak was encountered between Cap Gris-Nez and Boulogne, bursting at 23,000 – 26,000 feet. Yellow 2, P/O Doug Hurst, states that his section, led by F/L ‘Timber’ Wood, dove on a FW 190 going down on an unknown Spit which cut across Hurst who turned to avoid a collision and lost Yellow 1. F/L Wood was not seen again and is now reported as missing. Evidently, from observations by S/L Campbell and W/C Scott Malden, there were 10 plus huns below when ‘Timber’ went in to attack. We all hope that Timber will turn up and all expect him to. His eagerness to fight and the sunnyness of his disposition kept high the morale of his Flight. He was tireless and patient with his pilots in training and his Section flew into action with him full of confidence in his ability and guidance. W/O Campbell, Yellow 4, saw a FW 190 climb to attack Yellow 3, P/O Parr. He followed the e/a up and got in two one second bursts, then stalled and fell away. Pictures of this action show good deflection and aim, but no damage is claimed. P/O Somers flew as No 2 to the W/C and had to stay put but saw several e/a but could not get them in his sights without loosing position.
All of our a/c returned undamaged with the exception of timber whom we hope is okay; he was the only one in the Squadron carrying a revolver. This was one of the hottest days we have had which came on very unexpected; none of the boys thought when they took-off that they would bump into much.
A F/L from Intelligence HQ paid the Station a visit. F/O N. Dick and F/S Olmsted went to 56 Division HQ for liaison duty. Second Lt M. Tranttenberg, 10 Royal Berks and Capt W.F. Clarke, 8 Royal Fusiliers arrived for liaison duties. F/S Aitken went on leave.
Wednesday, 15 April, 1942
Weather, clear with unlimited visibility. Owing to the loss of F/L Woof, F/O Dick and Olmsted were recalled from liaison duty for operations. Second Lt Tranttenberg was also recalled to his Unit, departing at 1530 hours. F/S Hubbard paid a visit from air-sea rescue, being homesick for 403 Squadron and Spitfires. He was given F/S Rawson’s letter to read and was glad to hear that he is coming along okay at the No. 1 Military Hospital. Mosquito and Havoc a/c were in here today. A Flight Lieutenant Gas Officer from HQ inspected the Squadron and a Flight Lieutenant from the photographic department also visited us. The Squadron was briefed at 1330 hours. North Weald and Hornchurch Wings are to act as withdrawal support to Hurricane bombers attacking Desvres, with North Weald at 23,000 – 26,000 feet and Hornchurch at 27,000 – 28,000 feet. The Wings were to cross the French Coast at Gravelines and then sweep Guines coming out at Cap Gris-Nez. Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that rendezvous was made at Gravesend at 1423 hours and the French Coast was crossed between Gravelines and Calais at 1450 hours. They swept inland, coming out at Boulogne, then turned right along the coast to Sangette before turning for home. No flak was encountered and only one e/a was seen.
The Squadron was briefed for another do; North Weald Wing was to act as top cover at 21,000 – 22,000 feet, with the Hornchurch Wing as escort at 18,000 – 20,000 feet and Debden at 15,000 – 17,000 feet. This was to be close support for eight Hurricanes which were to be rendezvoused with at Eastchurch at 1835 hours. Course would then be set for Gravelines where the bombers would release their loads and then return unescorted while the fighter wings go in to sweep Audruica, Guines and come out at Cap Gris-Nez. They were to orbit the Channel then go back in over France at Winereuax and out at Sangette before returning home. Action S/L Campbell reports that the French Coast was crossed at Gravelines at 1855 hours with considerable flak at 22,000 feet. Ops reported bandits at 30,000 feet between Boulogne and Cap Gris-Nez which turned sharp right. The W/C instructed all to bunch up and then saw 18 FW 190 ahead and above to port. Six of these came down out of the sun on the port section, the S/L turned into them and the e/a all pulled up with the exception of one which was attacked by a Spitfire. We then lost height to 21,000 feet and circled to the East of Cap Gris-Nez, then, led by the W/C, south of Cap Gris-Nez were we formed a defensive circle while the other two Squadrons bounced the e/a which came down. The defensive circle was kept for cover while e/a were still above and several encounters took place with some of the e/a that came down.
F/S Argue, Blue 4, was attacked from port astern and above by three FW 190s with tracer passing over his Starboard wing. After the diving attack, two of the e/a climbed away; the third turned gradually while climbing to the port. Argue turned to port more tightly than the e/a and got in a one second burst from 20 degree port quarter astern. The e/a fell off in a steep dive, Argue followed him down from 26,000 feet to 18,000 feet and gave a 5-second burst from 200 yards dead astern. He saw white smoke come from underneath on the starboard side, then pulled out at 16,000 feet and saw the e/a continue to dive below 10,000 feet. This a/c is claimed as destroyed and given as a probable.
P/O Somers, Blue 3, was attacked by six FW 190s from front starboard. He turned head on with e/a tracer passing over his cockpit. He opened fire at 450 yards closing to 25 yards. The e/a passed beneath with no damage observed. He then dived on 2 FW 190s below and to the port, firing a 4-second burst from 250 yards at the rear of the e/a but saw no damage. P/O Somers was then attacked by a FW 190 who came out of the sun from his front port. He turned slightly to be head on and fired a one-second burst from 150 yards closing to 50 yards. No claim was made.
In this sweep 403 Squadron acted primarily as bait and did a good job as total days score for all the Wings were good with only a few casualties. AVM TL Leigh-Mallory CB DSO, AOC 11 group sent a congratulatory telegram for our part.
Thursday, 16 April, 1942
Weather, clear with unlimited visibility. No rest for the weary and everybody was up at 0500 hours this morning after getting through work at 2300 hours last night. We never get the chance to hoist a few pots anymore. The boys still feel blue about ‘Timber’, but most of us sort of feel that he will show up. What a party that will be! The flying policeman, former bomber pilot P/O Hoben, arrived back from leave today to take up duties with the Squadron in the ‘Canadian Policeman’. Capt Clarke had a flip in the Maggie to see what brown jobs look like from 2,000 feet. On take-off this morning, one of 121 Squadron’s Spits went over on its back, the pilot uninjured. We saw a Mustang perform today.
Briefing North Weald Wing, at 15,000 – 18,000 feet was to act as close escort and withdrawal support for hurricane bombers. Biggin Hill was to go as escort cover at 19,000 – 23,000 feet and Kenley as top cover at 24,000 – 27,000 feet with the rendezvous at Eastchurch. After orbiting the target, the Biggin Hill and Kenley Wings were to fly North for 2 minutes, then turn right and sweep Dunkirk again and then home. North Weald, after leaving the bombers at the target would turn up sun, gaining height to cover the exit of the second sweep by Biggin Hill and Kenley.
Action We crossed the French Coast at Gravelines at 0723, was over Dunkirk at 0728, then we turned West and in again East of Calais and came out at Gravelines at 0750 hours. Flak was encountered over Dunkirk and Calais, bursting at 15,000 -16,000 feet. No e/a were seen.
Briefing Squadron was briefed at 1300 hours for a fighter sweep with freedom of action. North Weald Wing would fly at 21,000 – 25,000 feet with two Squadrons from Hornchurch at 28,000 feet to rendezvous at Chatham at 1346 hours. The Wings were to cross the French Coast South of Hardelot to sweep Samer, Guines and then come out between Calais and St, Inglevert. Prior to our Sweep Biggin Hill, Kenley and Debden would sweep the area and stir up the e/a, going South of Boulogne and coming out at Cap Gris-Nez, then orbiting the Channel and sweeping back to cover our withdrawal.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that the French Coast was crossed at Le Touquet at 1410 hours. The Wing then turned left along the coast to Boulogne where Ops indicated bandits were. We saw three e/a going South and climbing, then saw five tadpoles to the starboard above and behind. We turned left out of Cap Gris-Nez and climbed to 28,000 feet, following the tadpoles that turned towards us then swung away. We followed but the tadpoles disappeared. We then saw two Spitfires emerging from the same area, coming out from France. On the way home, Ops reported something in the Sea 10 miles off Cap Gris-Nez. We circled to investigate but saw nothing. All a/c returned undamaged. Sgt H.S. Anderson arrived to join our Squadron posted from 57 OTU.
Friday, 17 April, 1942
Weather, clear with some ground haze. F/S Aitken was recalled from leave as the Squadron is short-handed. F/S Monchier is off sick with a boil. F/L Riddell (Connie) paid us a short visit from Southend. The Secretary for the Air failed to show up – makes the third false alarm; we waited for an hour. The Squadron was briefed at 1100 hours for a sweep as withdrawal support wing.
Briefing North Weald, at 25,000 – 28,000 feet was to set course subject to change by ops for Le Touquet and sweep along the coast past Cap Gris-Nez and come out at Gravelines at 1223 hours. Six Bostons, with Biggin Hill as close escort at 10,000 – 13,000 feet, Debden at 14,000 – 18,000 feet as escort cover and Hornchurch on the top at 20,000 – 22,000 feet, were to cross the French Coast East of Calais at 1220 hours then turn right over the target (parachute factory) and then home. The Debden and Hornchurch Wings were to break away from the bombers and orbit the target.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that they left Hawkinge at 1210 hours, climbing to 27,000 feet when over the Channel. We were instructed by Ops to go in at Cap Gris-Nez, then this was countermanded and they told us to cross the French Coast South of Le Touquet. We turned left and dove towards Calais and saw flak bursting at 22,000 feet from St. Omer. We saw 20 plus huns on level with us, climbing on our front starboard, also two and threes to the South at 30,000 feet leaving tadpoles. We turned towards the 20 plus huns who kept climbing. Yellow Section was attacked by several FW 190s who opened fire on Yellow 1, P/O Parr, and Yellow 2, F/S Messum. W/O Campbell and F/S Olmsted followed the e/a attacking Yellow 1 and 2 down to 2,000 feet but failed to get within range.
Yellow 2, F/S Messum, was attacked as above by a FW 190, which came down and passed in front over his port wing. He heard a loud bang and the engine jumped, then started to vibrate badly. He lost fore and aft trim and the controls went sluggish. He started to lose height so he turned towards England with gasoline soaking his legs. The engine cut out halfway across the Channel and he pressed button D and called Mayday several times. He then pulled off his mask, having difficulty with the chinstrap, rolled the Spit half over and bounced out at 4,000 feet. He inflated his Mae West on the way down but forgot to strike the quick release on his parachute when hitting the water which was fortunate because the lanyard for the dinghy became detached from the Mae West. Had Messum released his chute, he would have lost the dinghy. He swam and retrieved the dinghy, climbed aboard without trouble and was picked up inside of 20 minutes by HMM A/S B24 and was landed at Dover. He reported back to the Squadron at 2100 hours unharmed.
The Squadron was briefed at 1400 hours for a fighter sweep to Lumbres. North Weald was to rendezvous with the Debden Wing at Southend at 1534 hours. With North Weald at 23,000 – 27,000 feet and Debden at 18,000 – 21,000 feet we were to cross the French Coast at St. Inglevert at 1557 hours and sweep Lumbres at 1604 hours with freedom of action. Timed to cover our withdrawal, Biggin Hill at 12,000 feet, Kenley at 15,000 feet and Hornchurch at 28,000 feet, were to cross the French Coast at Bercks, orbit Lumbres at 1606 and then come out.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that the rendezvous with the Debden Wing at Southend was made at 1532 hours. Debden went in over the French Coast at Gravelines instead of St. Inglevert at 1557 hours, swept Bergues and then turned right towards St. Omer. The W/C reported e/a below and turned towards them. 403 Squadron was cut off by a Squadron of the other Wing and had to turn in the opposite direction. As we turned, a FW 190 came out of cloud with an unknown Spit on its tail diving towards me. I turned and went head-on, passing underneath the e/a who rolled over behind me and dove away followed by the other Spitfire towards Boulogne. I then formed up with the W/C and returned to base over Gravelines. Heavy flak, bursting at 18,000 feet, was observed coming from Desvres and light flak was seen coming out over Gravelines. Red 3, P/O Somers, saw four FW 190s come out cloud head-on and fired a short burst as they passed. No damage was observed. All of our a/c returned undamaged at 1640 hours.
Saturday, 18 April, 1942
Weather, some ground haze with very little wind. The Squadron was at 30 minutes notice and the pilots did Army co-operation, map reading and formation flying. All the boys are a bit weary from the steady grind of the past week. Sir Archibald Sinclair, accompanied by G/C Hugh Green, arrived in a Flamingo and met all the pilots at 1100 hours. He gave an interesting address and was introduced to everyone. F/O Don Sewell dropped in with a Blenheim and the CO, Adj and F/L Walker went for a spin. The Squadron was released at 1700 hours.
Sunday, 19 April, 1942
Weather, a very heavy ground haze with winds from the NE at 5 to 15 mph. The Squadron did four convoy patrols. P/O Parr reports 30 ships southbound off Harwich, accompanied by 3 Destroyers and 4 Corvettes. The convoy was passed by a northbound convoy. Parr saw a blaze around an oil tanker in the northbound convoy. He investigated and saw oil on the water and the tanker, apparently okay, in escort with a Destroyer. Yellow and White Sections got airborne on a scramble to patrol a convoy at 1430 hours, taking only two minutes to get into the air from the time the hooter blew. F/L Duval (Hank) joined the Squadron today to take over ‘A’ Flight, coming from 222 Squadron. The boys had a party at the ‘Thatch’ where they ran into a party of one young lady and three men who were celebrating a brother missing in air operations in the Mediterranean.
Monday, 20 April, 1942
Weather, very thick ground haze. At 1200 hours, we were briefed for a circus which was cancelled at 1215 hours. It looks as if Hitler’s birthday will pass without any strafing. S/L Ogben gave the pilots a talk on escape.
Tuesday, 21 April, 1942
Weather, heavy fog with occasional rain and visibility one mile. F/S Sprague went on 48 hours pass. Second Lieut. R. Fevez, 2nd/ 5 Battalion, Queen’s Royal Regt arrived to take up liaison duties. The Squadron was on 30 minutes all day until it was released at 2150 hours. No flying was done today.
Wednesday, 22 April, 1942
Weather heavy fog with visibility 1,000 yards. The Squadron was on readiness at 0551 hours with one section, two section at 15 minutes, and one flight at 30 minutes availability. The Squadron was released on one-hour notice at 1300 hours. F/O Lodge, the former IO, paid the Squadron a farewell visit. F/O Gordon Hoben gave a broadcast over the BBC regarding the presentation of the ‘Canadian Policeman’ to the RCAF by Canadian Police donations.
Thursday, 23 April, 1942
Weather, heavy fog with some rain clearing towards late afternoon. The Squadron was put on 30 minutes notice in the morning, one-hour notice at 1455 hours and released from ops at 2145 hours. The ground crew were briefed at 1030 hours, outlining the plans for a sham battle attack. All NCOs were given stations and the procedure explained by F/O (Harry) Francis who gave a good talk. Major Crabbe outlined the program. P/O Hoben (returning officer) finished the balloting on MacKenzie King’s plebiscite. 135 votes were cast out of a possible 165. No flying was done today. F/O Johnson paid Sgt Rawson a visit, taking down with him his personnel effects. He reports that Rawson is doing fine. His face however, is still swollen and he has only half the vision in one eye. No flying today.
Friday, 24 April, 1942
Weather, clouds at 1,000 feet during the early morning, clearing at 1000 hours. Visibility unlimited. The Squadron was put on 30 minutes notice. The sham battle started at 0500 hours. The men were armed and in position by 0455 hours. The enemy attacked HQs, 403 and 121 areas. Our patrols spotted the enemy advancing towards 403 area at 0532 hours. Cpl Todd, with six men in No. 2 bay and Cpl DeLong in the blockhouse, resisted the attack, killing three of the enemy and capturing 18 men, 2 Bren guns and 16 rifles. Cpl Starr repulsed the attack on the magazine blockhouse, F/S Champion’s post captured nine enemy. All of the other aerodrome areas were captured by the enemy, we were the only position that held. One bad piece of work was the killing of one of our own patrols by Sgt Brim’s men. S/L Campbell brought back 27 prisoners and interned them in dispersal. The G/C reviewed the battle with all of the officers concerned at 1000 hours and complimented 403 Squadron on holding its position. Valuable information was gained from this practice which will help us do even better the next time. The Squadron took-off at 1220 hours to rendezvous at Martlesham and get briefed for a fighter sweep.
Briefing We were to rendezvous at Martlesham with 12 Bostons. The Debden Wing was to act as close escort at 14,000 – 15,000 feet, North Weald Wing as escort cover at 16,000 – 19,000 feet. The Circus was to fly at sea level for the first ten minutes, then climb. Departure from Martlesham was at 1400 hours, we were to cross the Belgium Coast at Flushing at 1435 hours, then turn right for the bombing before turning back to cross at Clacton-on-Sea at 1501 hours.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that the 12 Bostons left the rendezvous at 1400 hours; 403 Squadron was airborne at 1410 hours and steered a course of 120 degrees for 10 minutes, then climbed above cloud which was 500 to 600 feet thick and saw a beehive about four miles in front. We overtook them and took position as top cover at 19,000 feet. We hit Flushing at 1438 hours and bombed the target, then turned right and came out North of Knocke at 1445 hours. No e/a were sighted above but a JU 52 was seen below and was attacked by 121 Squadron who dove down and opened fire, destroying it. A little flak was encountered over the target while the bombing was done, also some black marker flak was seen at 16,000 feet over Flushing as we left the Coast. Odd bursts of flak were also noticed East of Knocke. 11 a/c returned undamaged and one landed at Bradwell Bay. At 1600 hours the Squadron was briefed for another Fighter sweep.
Briefing 121 Squadron was to be on the bottom at 25,000 feet, 403 Squadron in the middle at 26,000 feet and 22 Squadron on the top at 28,000 feet. Rendezvous was to be made with the Debden Wing at 19,000 – 23,000 feet at Southend at 1705 hours and we were to cross the French Coast at St. Inglevert at 1723 hours, sweeping Desvres with freedom of action.
Action Rendezvous was made at Southend at 1705 hours and we left Manston at 1715 hours, crossing the French Coast at St. Inglevert at 1725 hours. We turned right along the Coast to Le Touquet, then turned left inside France, sweeping West of St. Omer and out at Gravelines at 1742 hours. We crossed the English Coast at Dover at 1750 hours. No e/a or flak were encountered and all of our a/c returned undamaged to North Weald at 1805 hours. P/O Rainville had to turn back due to engine trouble; oil temperature and pressure. S/L Campbell was very pleased with the work done by the ground crew in the sham battle and the condition of the billets. These were inspected by the Station Commander, G/C Pike DFC, and the adjutants of the other Squadrons, who were asked to inspect our quarters at the request of G/C Pike so that they might follow our example of cleanliness. Conditions of the quarters reflects great credit on F/O Francis, our Adjutant. F/L Walker went away at 1500 hours for seven days leave. LAC Liske received a cable today announcing the birth of his baby daughter in Canada who was already named Joan Beverley by the proud parents. Both mother and daughter are doing well. Lt R Fevez left at 1600 hours to resume his normal duties.
Saturday, 25 April, 1942
Weather, clear but with considerable ground haze. The Squadron was at readiness at 0545 hours. At 0915 hours, the Squadron was briefed as follows: North Weald Wing, with 121 Squadron at 18,000 feet, 403 Squadron at 20,000 feet and 222 Squadron at 22,000 feet were to rendezvous at Clacton at 1009 hours with six Bostons at 12,000 feet. Debden was to act as escort wing at 14,000 – 17,000 feet and we were to be escort cover. The French Coast was to be crossed 10 miles East of Dunkirk at 1025 hours. We were then to make a wide turn to starboard and approach the target from the Southeast at 1027 hours and then return to Manston at 1100 hours. Target support wing was to be Northolt at 22,000 – 25,000 feet who were to cross the French Coast between Calais and Gravelines at 1025 hours, and then sweep inland to cover the withdrawal of the bombers.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that rendezvous was made at Clacton at 1000 hours. We crossed the French Coast at Nieuport at 1025 hours and were over the target at Dunkirk at 1030 hours and saw bombs hit on the quayside. After passing the target we saw six FW 190s who came down out of the sun on the port side. I tried to head e/a off but was balked by some Spitfires who were following them. We encountered a fair amount of flak two miles off Dunkirk while following the bombers out. On the was in when we were half-way across the Channel, I saw Blue 2, P/O Zoochkan go into a spin with his engine stopped and called to Blue 3 to follow him down. I then received word from Blue 1, F/O Dick, stating that he had been hit and was going back with Blue 3 and Blue 4 to follow him. After escorting the bombers back to Manston at 1040 hours, we started to look for someone in the sea about six miles East of Manston, but as other Spits were also looking for this person, Operations asked if I cared to find Zookie who was reported as down in the Channel. Ops gave a vector of 95 degrees. When I was told to orbit, I asked for a fix and was told that I was 10 miles too far East and 5 miles too far North. I was given a vector of 220 degrees but saw no sign. I was then told to return to Manston and rendezvous with a Lysander. I followed the Lysander until my gas showed 15 gallons.
P/O Magwood and P/O Somers saw Zookie overshoot P/O Dick, Blue 1, with Zookie’s port wing colliding with Dick’s prop, tearing a large hole in the wing tip. The wind then lifted off 2/3s of the stress skin. He went into a violent spin. Maggie and Larry Somers followed him down but lost him at 5,000 feet. They did not see him bale out and gave several Maydays. The next view that they got of Zookie was with him in the water with no dinghy but he did appear to be uninjured as he waved to them. Somers went back to 6,000 feet and gave another Mayday, then tried to find Magwood but could not so he proceeded home alone. Magwood kept Zookie in sight for 35 minutes but as colouring faded lost him. He continued to circle for over an hour. No rescue boats or aircraft were in sight; Ops said that the sea was too rough for rescue boats. As no word was received that he was picked up, it looks as if Zookie drowned. It all looks like a poor show and the boys are mad. Magwood did a very good job as did S/L Campbell and Larry as they patrolled an area alone which was very vulnerable to enemy attack. Everyone misses Zookie, he was a nice lad, part Polish but raised in Canada on a farm. Dickie had only two feet left on each propeller blade. He made a deadstick landing from 8,000 feet over Manston but crashed on landing, receiving severe head injuries and is now in the hospital under observation for a fractured skull. We are glad that Dickie got out of it alive. At 1530 hours, the Squadron was again briefed for a second sweep. North Weald was to rendezvous at Red Hill with six Bostons and act as top cover at 19,000 – 22,000 feet, Debden Wing as close escort at 12,000 – 14,000 feet and 12 Group as escort cover at 15,000 – 18,000 feet. We were to leave Red Hill at 1600 hours, be over Hastings at 1613 hours, cross the French Coast South of Berck at 1632 hours, be over the target at Abbeville at 1635 hours, come out at Le Treport at 1641, and cross the English Coast at Beachy Head at 1651 hours. The target support wings were Kenley at 18,000 – 21,000 feet and Biggin Hill at 22,000 – 26,000 feet. The withdrawal support wing was Hornchurch at 22,000 – 26,000 feet.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that rendezvous was made the Bostons at Red Hill and we crossed the French Coast at Berck at 1632 hours. Just after crossing, I reported to the W/C that there were a/c to the port and was told to keep an eye on them, noting that some went to smoke trial height above and behind us. Then I saw about 20 e/a come down out of the sun on our tail. Red Section at this time was at the extreme left of the formation. The e/a dived as a bunch on Red Section. I warned Red Section and the W/C of the number of e/a and I then turned sharply right into them. They were travelling so fast that, by the time that I got around, the e/a had passed and split up. I saw one FW 190 on the tail of Red 4, F/S Argue, and turned into the e/a, making him veer slightly to the left. I followed and, out of the corner of my eye, saw a Spitfire pouring glycol; the e/a then dived away. I turned to look for the Spitfire but, owing to the melee, I could no longer see him. By this time, the other two Squadrons had turned around. Not seeing anything else but Spitfires, I climbed and took up top position. We escorted the bombers home safely. P/O Munn, Red 3, and F/S Argue, Red 4, are assumed to be shot down as the S/L saw one pouring glycol and some pilots in 222 Squadron saw two Spitfires pouring glycol and going down in shallow dives. It is hoped that they baled out. F/S Argue had a pistol with him. While Ted was the smallest pilot in the Squadron, he was one of the most aggressive fighters and had a very breezy way with him that appealed to everyone. He had recently shot down a FW 190 over France which the Air Ministry stated that, while the cine-gun shows almost positively that the aircraft was destroyed, only a probable could be allowed. When Argue heard this he said, “What do they want us to do, rope them and bring them back?” Bill Munn only recently received his P/O; he is a good type, quite and unassuming and there is little doubt that he would soon have led a section. However, we expect them both to turn up. P/O Hurst, Yellow 4, in the melee with the 20 e/a was attacked, with 2 cannon and 1 m/g shell passing through his port wing. He stayed with the Squadron and, upon reaching England, landed at Manston. Unfortunately, he hit a soft spot in the field and nosed over, damaging the prop, and receiving a slight head injury but otherwise okay and back on duty. He volunteered to fly immediately but the W/C is taking his place so that he may have a days rest. F/S Walker, Blue 2, saw about 8 e/a come down on his port side and Walker turned slightly to meet their attack, then swung to the starboard on an e/a’s tail, firing a 5 second burst of M/G at the e/a from quarter starboard astern form 400 yards range. No damage was observed and Walker made no claim. This ends the worst day that the Squadron has had for casualties and now we are short of pilots. While we have lost several fighter aircraft, our bombers all returned safely from their targets.
Sunday, 26 April, 1942
F/O MacKay went on an IO course of three weeks duration. 403 Squadron was briefed to act as support wing to six Bostons who were to bomb a target at St. Omer. Weather, slight ground haze at North Weald with a heavy haze at the target area. Clouds were at 26,000 feet over the French Coast to 10 miles West of St. Omer.
Briefing North Weald, with 403 Squadron at 26,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 27,000 feet and 121 Squadron at 28,000 was told to rendezvous with the Debden Wing at Chatham, who were to be between 22,000 – 25,000 feet. We were to leave the rendezvous at 1002 hours, cross the French Coast at Dunkirk at 1024 hours and sweep south to Cassel then join up with the bombers and come out at Gravelines at 1035 hours. The six Bostons were to rendezvous at Graves End with the Hornchurch Wing who were to be close escort at 14,000 – 16,000 feet, Biggin Hill as escort cover at 17,000 – 21,000 feet and Kenley as top cover at 22,000 – 26,000 feet. All were to leave Gravesend at 1000 hours, cross the French Coast East of Gravelines at 1023 hours, turn right to the target at St. Omer at 1031 hours and come out West of Calais at 1036 hours. Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that we crossed the French Coast North of Dunkirk at 1024 hours, turned right and swept within 8 miles of St. Omer then received word from Ops informing us that the bombers had just turned right off of the target. We turned right and swept and did a complete orbit just West of St. Omer falling in behind the beehive. Fourteen enemy aircraft smoke trails were seen coming from the East and catching up to the beehive at St. Omer. These aircraft followed us out to the French Coast but did not attack. The Circus came out at Gravelines at 1040 hours. Halfway across the Channel, the Wing did a complete orbit to pick up stragglers and made landfall at Deal at 1050 hours. Marker flak was seen at Calais when we were coming out, bursting at 18,000 feet. All aircraft landed undamaged at North Weald. Those taking part in this action were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Rainville W/C Pike F/L Duval
Sgt Johnson P/O Hoben F/S Messum
P/O Somers S/L Campbell P/O Parr
F/S Walker F/S Aitken W/O Campbell
On the second show of the day, 403 Squadron was close escort to six Bostons to Hazebrouk. There was considerable ground haze over the target but no cloud.
Briefing North Weald Wing, with 222 Squadron at 12,000 feet, 121 Squadron at 13,000 feet and 403 Squadron at 14,000 feet were to rendezvous with six Bostons at Clacton and act as close escort. Northolt, as escort cover was to be at 15,000 – 19,000 feet and Debden, as top cover, at 21,000 – 24,000 feet. The Circus was to leave the French Coast between Dunkirk and Nieuport at 1505 hours, be over the target at 1514 hours and come out between Gravelines and Dunkirk at 1502 hours then home via Manston at 1531 hours.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that the bombers followed the briefing, crossing the French Coast at 1505 hours and were over the target at 1515 hours. They came out between Gravelines and Dunkirk at 1523 hours and made landfall at Manston at 1533 hours. We saw no enemy aircraft but we did encounter considerable flak from Gravelines on the way out, bursting at 12,000 – 13,000 feet. All of our aircraft landed undamaged at 1555 hours. those taking part were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
S/L Campbell W/C Pike F/L Duval
Sgt Johnson P/O Hoben F/S Messum
P/O Somers P/O Parr P/O Rainville
F/S Walker F/S Aitken W/O Campbell
At 1808 hours, Ops phoned and wanted one flight to come to readiness. At 1844 hours , the Squadron was then placed on readiness. 222 Squadron was scrambled at 1942 hours. Another scramble came through from Ops for one flight to escort rescue boats working in the Channel. ‘A’ Flight got airborne in two minutes and 40 seconds on the scramble. All of our aircraft returned safely at 2110 hours. F/L Duval reported that, while they were over the rescue boats no e/a were seen. Those taking part in the scramble were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
F/L Duval P/O Rainville P/O Parr
W/O Campbell F/S Aitken F/S Messum
The Squadron was released at 2105 hours.
Monday, 27 April, 1942
The Squadron was released from Ops until 1000 hours when we were placed on 30 minutes. At 1010 hours, the Squadron got airborne on Squadron formation practice, landing at 1120 hours. A briefing at 222 Squadron Dispersal was held at 1145 hours. 403 had only eleven aircraft for this sweep as two of ‘B’ Flights aircraft have to be cannon tested and it could not be done in time for the show. 403 Squadron was part of the close escort wing to six Bostons going in on a target at Ostend. The weather for the circus had heavy haze over the Belgian Coast and 2/10ths cloud at about 10,000 feet.
Briefing North Weald Wing, with 403 Squadron at 12,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 13,000 feet and 121 Squadron at 14,000 feet were to rendezvous with the six Bostons over Bradwell bay at 1400 hours at 5,000 feet. No 12 Group acted as escort cover, stepped up from 15,000 – 18,000 feet. The Circus was to fly over Ostend and bomb on a right hand turn at 1426 hours, then proceed to Harwich.
Action S/L Campbell DFC reports that the operation proceeded according to plan but the bombing was four to five minutes late owing to the bombers arriving late at the rendezvous. Exceptionally heavy flak was encountered over the target and several of the pilots saw the bomber on the port side of the leading section receive a direct hit from the first salvo. This bomber dropped its load, and turned away. It turned again, crossing the coast and was last seen low down, heading for an aerodrome behind Ostend as though it were about to make a crash landing. Two other bombers turned sharply as though in trouble and were escorted safely over the English Coast at Harwich by 403 Squadron. No enemy aircraft were seen and all of our aircraft returned safely to base by 1518 hours. Those taking part in this action were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Rainville S/L Campbell F/L Duval
Sgt Johnson P/O Magwood F/S Messum
P/O Somers F/S Aitken P/O Parr
F/S Walker W/O Campbell
At 1549 hours, ‘B’ Flight was put on readiness and ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes. Ops called at 1701 hours, informing us that a briefing would take place between 1800 and 1830 hours. At 1726 hours the Squadron was ordered at readiness at once and pushed buttons at 1740 hours. At 1743 hours, with two aircraft just taking-off, Ops called again and said that the Circus was postponed for 30 minutes. The W/C sent all aircraft back to their bays. F/L Duval, while taxiing along the perimeter let his control go forward and the wind, which was very strong at the time, tipped F/L Duval up on his nose. P/O Hurst says that it was the same thing that happened to him at Hawkinge on 26/4/42. F/L Duval took over F/S Olmsted’s aircraft in place if his, much to F/S Olmsted’s dislike. 403 Squadron was airborne with the Wing at 1813 hours with only eleven aircraft again to carry out a Rodeo (Fighter Sweep) with 12 Group Wing. Weather was 10/10ths cloud at 23,000 and a broken layer of 5/10ths cloud at 10,000 feet.
Briefing the North Weald Wing was to rendezvous at Southend at 10,000 feet with 12 Group Wing. We then were to proceed on course climbing until the two Wings were stepped up from 20,000 feet to 25,000 feet and then sweep Mardyck, St. Omer and then come out between Hardelot and Le Touquet. In the absence of any enemy activity the Wings were then to proceed at the discretion of the Wing Commanders.
Action This followed the briefing plan except that the top cloud prevented the North Weald Wing form climbing as high as intended. 121 Squadron was just below the cloud at 22,000 feet, 403 Squadron was at 21,000 feet and 22 Squadron at 20,000 feet with 12 Group Wing below. No enemy aircraft were encountered but heavy flak was experienced over Dunkirk, Mardyck area. At 1850 hours, just South of Le Touquet, F/L Duval, who was leading Yellow Section on the port side of the Squadron, was seen to turn sharply to the right and collide violently with the aircraft in which S/L Campbell DFC was leading Red Section. S/L Campbell’s aircraft lost the greater part of his port wing and he was seen to roll over on his back and go down out of control just inland. F/L Duval’s machine, which was streaming glycol, was seen to go straight down and crash about a half-mile off shore without the pilot bailing out. P/O Smith, of 121 Squadron, reports seeing a parachute at 5,000 feet inland from Le Touquet and it is hoped that this was S/L Campbell. When the collision occurred, there was a Squadron of Spitfires heading straight for the Wing at the same height, causing some of our pilots to dive down to avoid hitting them. P/O Rainville, who was leading Blue Section to the starboard of the CO, reports that he saw a column of black smoke coming from F/L Duval’s machine just before the collision. The remaining nine aircraft of the Squadron landed at North Weald by 2005 hours, F/S Messum having to refuel at West Mallings. Those taking part in this action were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Rainville S/L Campbell F/L Duval
Sgt Johnson P/O Magwood F/S Messum
P/O Somers P/O Hoben P/O Parr
F/S Walker W/O Campbell
The Squadron was released at 2200 hours. This completes another poor show for 403 and a very great loss to us all.
From the evidence we have, the chances are good that S/L C.N.S. Campbell DFC is alive and time alone will tell whether or not he can make his way back to England to carry on. If it is possible to get out of France, he will do it. He has already done more than his part for the War effort and, since he had been in command of the Squadron, has taken part in every sweep but one. During the past two months, he only took one day off, so untiring were his efforts to lick the Squadron into shape. From the reports he gave upon his return to the drome from operational sweeps, one can judge how observant he was in action. The efficiency of the Squadron’s ground operations speaks for itself; his administrative ability was excellent. Joining the RAF before the war, he fought in France as a pilot in one of the original fighter squadrons and, upon his return to England, was variously employed as an instructor and fighter pilot. His experience was of inestimable benefit to this newly formed, all Canadian Squadron which he was given command of in March 1941.
F/L ‘Hank’ Duval came from Eastern Canada and graduated from University as a mining engineer. He rose in his profession to the responsible position of mine Superintendent at the East-Malartee Gold Mine, one of Canada’s newer large tonnage producers. ‘Hank’ was one of the first Canadians to fly with the RAF. On one trip over France, he was shot down and baled out, making his escape back to England. He married an English girl while over here. Hank was a tall, dark chap, very quiet spoken and unassuming, the type of Canadian we like to call ‘Canadian’ and was the type that Canada will need after the war is over.
Tuesday, 28 April, 1942
The Squadron came to readiness, with ‘B’ Flight and ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes. The weather no visibility in fog with a strong NNE wind.
Wednesday, 29 April, 1942
Weather Strong wind, hazing over towards evening. There has been no flying today and at 1725 hours, the Squadron was released off of the Station.
Thursday, 30 April, 1942
Weather, visibility good wind 20-25 mph. The Squadron was called to do convoy patrol at 0600 hours and, at 0700 hours, two of our sections were airborne for this duty. At 0810 hours the Squadron came to readiness. Sections were sent off on convoy patrol all day until the time of our release at 2206 hours. Squadron Leader Deere arrived.
403 Squadron Personnel
RCAF Officers – aircrew 11
RCAF Officers – aircrew sup’y 2
RCAF Officers – ground 3
RCAF Airmen – aircrew 13
RCAF Airmen – ground 103
RCAF Airmen – ground sup’y 2
RNZAF Officer – aircrew 1
RAF Officers – aircrew 0
RAF Officers – ground 1
RAF Airmen – aircrew 0
RAF Airmen – ground 35
22 Operational sweeps & circuses 391.45 hours
25 Operational convoy patrols 129.45 hours
Total Operational Flying time 521.30 hours
Non-operational flying time 283.50 hours
Grand total flying time 805.20 hours
a/c on strength: Spitfires – 18
Tiger Moth -1
Magister – 1
Friday, 1 May, 1942
Weather, cloud 10/10ths till mid-day then 8/10ths at 5,000 feet. The Squadron came to readiness at 0533 hours. The advance party left at 1400 hours to go to Southend and prepare for the Squadron’s arrival tomorrow. Only practice flying was done today and we were released at 1530 hours. S/L Deere, our new CO flew with us for the first time to acquaint himself with the Station.
Saturday, 2 May, 1942
Weather visibility 2,000 yards, improving by midday. Our Squadron left for Southend at 1120 hours. All Aircraft landed here at 1145 hours. After lunch, the Squadron carried out practice flying. P/O Wozniak joined our Squadron today.
Sunday, 3 May, 1942
Weather fair and wind calm, with 800 yards visibility and no clouds. Our Squadron is to do four practice formation flights under the new CO, S/L Deere DFC and Bar. The Squadron did this as well as some local flying practice. The CO was very pleased with the results. The Squadron packed up at 1910 hours after a busy day of training.
Monday, 4 May, 1942
Weather, cloud 6/10ths at 2,000 feet, visibility 6 miles. Another day of practice flying before we are made operational again. At 2045 hours, our Squadron was released for the day. Effective tomorrow, our Squadron is again operational.
Tuesday. 5 May, 1942
Weather, 8/10ths high cloud, visibility 2 to 5 miles. The Squadron again became operational at dawn and was on 30 minutes availability. At 0900 hours, Ops ordered the Squadron to take part in Circus 156 to Zeebrugge with six Bostons. The boys were briefed by the CO and were airborne at 1040 hours to rendezvous with the bombers and 4 Squadron from Debden at Felixstowe at 1,000 feet. The North Weald Wing, consisting of 222, 403 and 121 Squadrons at 20,000, 22,000 and 24,000 feet respectively were acting as top cover to the Debden Wing which was escorting the bombers at 14,000 – 19,000 feet. The target was the coke ovens at Zeebrugge with the bombers at 14,000 feet. The Squadron was airborne at 1040 hours and, almost immediately, W/O Campbell, Red 3, had to return due to trouble with his hood. This was soon fixed and he took off but he was unable to locate the remainder of the Squadron, returning to the Squadron at 1110 hours. P/O Hurst, Red 4, had R/T trouble and returned at 1100 hours. Meanwhile, the Squadron reached the rendezvous at Malden with the remainder of the North Weald Wing, but owing to a fault in the CO’s watch, the rendezvous was made a minute or so late. After orbiting for three minutes and not seeing the other two Squadrons, they proceeded to Felixstowe. When they were halfway there, they were ordered over the R/T to proceed direct to the target. The Squadron climbed steadily until they reached a point 10 miles North of Zeebrugge at 23,000 feet. S/L Deere called up ‘Dickie’ (S/L Milne DFC and Bar) who was leading the Wing and he said that the beehive had already turned. The Squadron accordingly turned on a reciprocal course, maintaining height to mid-channel where it descended and returned to base, landing safely by 1200 hours. No e/a or flak were encountered. Those taking part were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Rainville S/L Deere F/L Walker
Sgt Monchier Sgt Johnson F/S Walker
P/O Parr W/O Campbell P/O Somers
F/S Aitken P/O Hurst P/O Magwood
At 1300 hours, ‘A’ Flight was at readiness with ‘B’ Flight at 30 minutes. At 1340 hours, the Squadron was brought to readiness for aerodrome defence. During the afternoon, F/O Dean and representatives of the Canadian Broadcasting Company visited the Squadron. Apart from some local flying in the Maggie, there was no more activity today.
Wednesday, 6 May, 1942
Weather, some haze but no low cloud. ‘B’ Flight was at 0525 hours with ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes. At 0825 hours Red Section got airborne on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness and later were later relieved by Yellow Section. This was followed by some non-operational flying – aerobatics, a/c testing and a Section Recco. At 1100 hours, Ops phoned in the details of Rodeo 21 to St. Omer and, at 1145 hours, the Squadron was briefed in the Dispersal and were airborne at 1245. We made rendezvous with Hornchurch and the remainder of the North Weald Wing at Clacton at 1230 hours at a height of 6,000 feet. From there, the formation climbed to bomber heights and speeds in a wide formation until the French Coast was crossed between Gravelines and Mardyck at 1250 hours. We were at 19,000 feet with 222 Squadron at 17,000 feet, and 121 Squadron at 21,000 feet. Hornchurch was below us at 14,000 to 16,000 feet and Northolt above at 23,000 – 27,000 feet. 403 Squadron then climbed to 23,000 feet and swept inland to St. Omer, turning right and out again over Calais. At Calais flak was experienced but in great quantity. A second entry inland was then made and the formation swept in land for about 10 miles and then returned to base, landing at 1345 hours. No e/a were encountered. Those taking part were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Parr S/L Deere F/L Walker
F/S Aitken Sgt Anderson F/S Walker
W/O Campbell P/O Rainville P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted P/O Hurst P/O Magwood
W/C Boyd visited the Station during the afternoon. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was at 30 minutes and so, did more practice flying. The Squadron was then ordered off on Rodeo 22 which was to take place at 1930 hours. We were briefed in dispersal at 1845 hours and got airborne at 1900 hours to rendezvous with the remainder of the North Weald Wing at Thameshaven at 1901 hours at 3,000 feet. We then set course for Hastings to rendezvous with the Tangmere Wing at 1930 hours at a height of 12,000 feet. We crossed the French Coast at 1940 hours between Le Touquet and Berck with 121 Squadron at 18,000 feet, 403 at 19,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 20,000 feet and the Tangmere Wing above at 21,000 – 25,000 feet. We swept to Montreuil and out at Ambleteuse. No e/a were encountered nor any flak and ten a/c returned at 2015 hours; P/O Rainville , Red 3, and P/O Hurst, Red 4, had returned at 2000 hours, the latter having R/T trouble in mid-channel. Those taking part were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Parr S/L Deere F/L Walker
P/O Marshall Sgt Anderson F/S Walker
W/O Campbell P/O Rainville P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted P/O Hurst Sgt Johnson
At 2032 hours, the Squadron was released for the remainder of the day. P/O MacDonald arrived.
Thursday, 7 May, 1942
Weather, wind variable, no cloud and slight haze with visibility 5 miles. The Squadron started the day at two hours notice. The morning was taken up with practice flying – camera gun practice, air to air firing and army co-operation. After lunch, Brigadier General Lyme visited the Squadron and was given a flip in the Maggie by P/O Somers. At 1432 hours, the Squadron went off on another practice formation. The adjutant was given an interesting local flip in the Maggie by P/O Somers and the Station Commander was taken around the drome by F/L Walker to inspect some high trees from the air. During the early evening, the wind changed to the Northeast and increased to 30 to 35 mph with 4/10ths high cloud. At 1810 hours, Ops gave details of a circus to Zeebrugge coke ovens and at 1820 hours, the Squadron was briefed in the dispersal by the Commanding Officer. The rendezvous with 121 and 222 Squadron would be at Bradwell Bay at 1853 hours at 500 feet and then we would meet up with the 6 Bostons and the Debden Wing at Felixstowe at 1900 hours at 1,500 feet. thence to Zeebrugge where the Bostons would bomb at 12,000 feet, 403 Squadron being at 17,000 feet, 121 at 15,000 feet 222 at 14,000. The action followed the plan except that nothing could be seen of the Debden Wing above when reaching the Belgian Coast. The Squadron stepped up to 19,000 feet. While over the target area, about 15 huns appeared 15 miles inland and flying towards the coast. However, only four e/a came down towards our a/c and these were closed in on by the Squadron to within 1,500 yards before they dived towards the French Coast. Ten a/c landed at the base by 2020 hours. P/O Rainville, Red 3, having had engine trouble returned at 1925 hours with P/O Hurst, Red 4. The Squadron was then released for the day. Those taking part were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Parr S/L Deere F/L Walker
P/O Marshall Sgt Anderson F/S Walker
W/O Campbell P/O Rainville P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted P/O Hurst Sgt Johnson
Friday, 8 May, 1942
Weather, wind NE at 20 mph with 3/10ths cloud, visibility 4 miles. Later in the morning the cloud had increased to 10/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet. At 1545 hours, the wind speed increased to 25 to 30 mph but with no cloud. At 1010 hours, the Squadron was released for training until 1600 hours. The morning and afternoon were taken up with formation flying, air to air firing and cloud flying. At 1730 hours, the Squadron was put on readiness to take-off at 1800 hours on a circus to the Dieppe Power Station with six Bostons. The North Weald Wing was to act as high cover for the Bostons. 403 Squadron made rendezvous with 222 and 121 Squadrons at Hornchurch at 1820 hours at 3,000 feet and then with the six Boston at Red Hill at 1830 hours at 5,000 feet. The escort wing (Kenley) and the escort cover wing (Biggin Hill) joined up and we then set course for Beachy head for 1842 hours. From there the formation would climb until over the target with the six Bostons at 12,000 feet, Kenley between 12,000 to 15,000 feet, and Biggin Hill at 16,000 – 19,000 feet. North Weald would climb to 20,000 feet for 121, 21,000 feet for 403 and 23,000 feet for 222 Squadron. The target was to be bombed at 1902 hours and then, turning right, we would return to Beachy head and back to base. Meanwhile, the Northolt and Tangmere Wings would rendezvous at Hashaw at 1840 hours at 10,000 feet and act as target support, entering the French Coast at St. Valery 3 minutes after the bombing and sweep behind the beehive. The operation proceeded exactly according to the plan, the Squadron taking off at 1800 hours and landing at 1945 hours. No e/a or flak were encountered. Those taking part were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Parr S/L Deere F/L Walker
P/O Marshall P/O Gardiner F/S Walker
P/O Hurst P/O Rainville P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted Sgt Monchier Sgt Anderson
There was haze up to 20,00 feet with the wind NE at 25 to 30 mph. During the afternoon, W/C Steele visited the Squadron to discuss the question of educating Canadian personnel to appreciate the English attitude to the conduct of the war and to encourage the co-operation of Canadian and English elements in the RAF.
Saturday, 9 May, 1942
The Squadron was released for training until 1300 hours. Weather, 7/10ths cloud at 1,200 feet which cleared by midday. The morning was taken up with practice flying. At 1300 hours, Blue Section came on readiness and later, Ops phoned through the details of a fighter sweep that was to be carried out at 1515 hours. At 1439 hours, Blue Section was scrambled to patrol Clacton-on-Sea at 20,000 feet. P/O Parr and Sgt Monchier were airborne at 1443 hours but were soon recalled as the bandit had proven to be friendly, landing at 1459 hours. The operation was postponed by Ops until 1545 hours and all of the pilots were briefed in the dispersal. North Weald Wing, consisting of 331 (Norwegian), 121, 222 and 403 Squadrons and 12 Group Wing were to rendezvous over Southend at 1545 at 5,000 feet. We were then to proceed to the Pas de Calais area with 331 at 19,000 feet, 121 at 20,000 feet, 222 at 24,000 feet and 403 at 25,000 feet. Turning right the formation would sweep over the Pas de Calais area and leave the cost at Hardelot. The Squadron was airborne at 1540 hours and made rendezvous with 12 Group and the 3 Squadron of the North Weald Wing over the base and the remainder of the operation went according to plan. The formation swept 15 miles inland at about 27,000 feet. no e/a were encountered but there was heavy flak which was accurate for height but behind our a/c/ There was 9/10ths cirrus cloud at 27,000 feet South of Calais but it was clear to the North. The Squadron landed safely at base by 1645 hours. At 1720 hours, the Squadron was refuelled and at 1730 hours, was again called to readiness. At 1826 hours, the Squadron was released for the rest of the day except for one section that was to remain on readiness until its release came through at 2218 hours.
Sunday, 10 May, 1942
At 0518 hours, ‘A’ Flight was put on readiness, with ‘B’ Flight at 15 minutes. Convoy patrol was done off Clacton-on-Sea with one section, ‘booty’ 21 ships with three escort ships. This was followed at 0611 hours by White Section. At 0639 hours, Yellow Section was scrambled on a vector of 070 degrees, getting airborne at 0642 hours and 30 seconds. At 0759 hours, Black Section was scrambled to Barrow-Deep at 25,000 feet, getting airborne at 0802. This scramble, like the other one, was unfruitful. This was followed by further convoy patrols until 0919 hours when White Section was recalled just as it had gotten airborne. Ops then phoned in the details of a circus to Abbeville but this was later cancelled and a fighter sweep was substituted. This was over the Pas de Calais and the formation consisted of the North Weald Wing (403, 222, 121, and 331 Squadrons), the Hornchurch Wing and the 12 Group Wing. The Squadron, as briefed by the Commanding Officer, was to rendezvous with the remainder of the Wing at 1130 hours at 1,000 feet over the base and then climb en route to Manston, then Gravelines to the following heights: 222 at 15,000 feet, 403 at 16,000 feet 331 at 19,000 feet and 121 at 20,000 feet. The formation was then to sweep Gravelines, Desvres and then come out at Hardelot. Meanwhile, a 12 Group Wing, together with the Hornchurch Wing would rendezvous at Biggin Hill at 1140 hours, climb en route to Hastings and to Le Touquet. Hornchurch, being at 16,000 to 19,000 feet, and the 12 Group Wing at 20,000 – 24,000 feet would sweep Le Touquet, St. Omer and Gravelines. Withdrawal was at the discretion of Wing Leaders. The action followed the briefing plan. No e/a were seen but some heavy flak was experienced coming out from the French Coast. There was haze up to 27,000 feet and over the channel there was 10/10ths thin cloud at 20,000 feet. Seven large barges were seen on the South side of the estuary at Le Touquet, apparently beached and with what appeared to be nets around them (according to information that was later received, these barges have been there for some time and have grass growing through the bottom of them). All of our a/c landed safely at base at 1230 hours. Those taking part in the action were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Parr S/L Deere F/L Walker
Sgt Monchier P/O Gardiner F/S Walker
W/O Campbell P/O Rainville P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted P/O Hurst Sgt Johnson
There was no operational flying for the rest of the day. Line astern chase, cine-gun and formation flying were carried out and all flying had ceased by 1608 hours.
Monday, 11 May, 1942
Weather 10/10ths low cloud. The Squadron was released until 1000 hours and, then, at 0930 hours Ops rang through with the news that the Squadron was released off camp. F/L Darling arrived today to join the Squadron.
Tuesday, 12 May, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud at 700 feet and the Squadron was again released off of the camp. There was some practice flying, circuits and landings and local flying in the Maggie with all flying completed by 1500 hours. F/L O’Leary arrived today to join the Squadron.
Wednesday, 13 May, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths low cloud and at 0830 hours, the Squadron was released until 1300 hours when we were to have one section at readiness, two sections at 15 minutes and one flight at 30 minutes. Some pilots did some work in the Link trainer during the afternoon.
Thursday, 14 May, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud at 1,000 feet early, then clearing later in the morning with the help of a North wind. In the afternoon, the cloud was again 10/10ths at 1,000 feet. At 0510 hours, the Squadron’s state of readiness was one section at readiness, two sections at 15 minutes and one flight at 30 minutes. At 0939 hours, Ops phoned to say that, from 1300 to 1400 hours, the Squadron would be released and then be at 30 minutes. Sherry 33 and 37 did circuits and bumps. At 1134 hours, the state was one flight at readiness and one flight at 15 minutes. At 1152 hours, Blue Section was airborne on convoy patrol off of Bradwell Bay. At 1304 hours, the Squadron was airborne on formation flying. Blue Section did some formation flying and cine-gun practice and other practice flying took place, sector reconnaissance etc, in the afternoon. The SMO visited the Station and, included in his tour, an inspection of 403 Squadron’s dispersal. G/C Pike DFC also visited the Squadron.
Friday, 15 May, 1942
The Squadron was at 30 minutes as of 0527 hours. At 0915 hours, Ops required two sections for convoy patrol – one to take off immediately, and the other to stand-by on readiness. Convoy ‘Totem’ was to be patrolled from Manston to the Estuary. At 0943 hours Red section was airborne. At 0947 hours, the Squadron got airborne on formation practice with 11 a/c. Local flying in the Tiger Moth was also done. At 1035 hours, the Squadron landed. At 1145 hours, Yellow Section got airborne on convoy patrol. At 1157 hours, no more convoy patrols were required and the Squadron was back on 30 minutes. The Squadron was again released off the Station at 1255 hours, but as a visit took place from the CBC, the boys came down in the afternoon to do a ‘beat up’ of the drome and to pose before the camera. They also did a specimen briefing for a show, together with reporting in after landing. Recordings were made of this that should prove to be of great interest to the people at home and will give then some idea of the life their boys are leading with a fighter squadron. Flying has ceased by 1441 hours. S/L Gray visited the Squadron.
Saturday, 16 May, 1942
Weather calm with 10/10ths low cloud which, by 1000 hours, cleared sufficiently to enable S/L Gray to take off for Tangmere. One section was placed at readiness and the remainder of the Squadron was released for training. Air firing was carried out at Dingie Flats, formation flying and cine-gun. P/O Parr, P/O Gardiner, P/O Marshall and F/S Walker planned to do a rhubarb. The canal between Dunkirk and Nieuport was selected as a target and the pilots were briefed by the Commanding Officer at Station Intelligence. The section was just about to take off when Ops rang through cancelling the operation and red flares were fired. The Group did not approve of the operation. Air firing was carried out at Dingie Flats as well as formation attacks in the afternoon. At 2045 hours the Squadron was released for the day.
Sunday, 17 May, 1942
Weather, thick haze early on which cleared later. At 0510 hours, the Squadron was at 30 minutes and then put on readiness for a circus to Boulogne at 1000 hours. 12 Bostons were to bomb the Boulogne docks at 14,500 feet and then turn left after bombing. Rendezvous with the North Weald Wing was at a point just NE of Tidbury and then at Beachy Head at less than 500 feet at 1100 hours with the bombers before climbing en route to the target. North Weald was to be close escort with 222 and 403 Squadrons at 14,500 feet, 333 Squadron at 15,000 feet and 121 Squadron at 15,500 feet. We were to be at Beachy head at 1100 hours, Boulogne at 1120 hours and then return via Hastings. The escort and high cover wings were to go in with the bombers and then re-enter at Ambleteuse and come out at Hardelot. Diversionary wings were Hornchurch and Northolt with three Squadrons each. They were to rendezvous at Beachy head at 1105 hours, climb to height at the Wing leaders discretion and then sweep Hardelot, St. Omer and out at Cap Gris-Nez.
Action S/L Deere reports that the operation proceeded according to plan. Very intensive and accurate flak was experienced over the Boulogne area, which followed our a/c out, and in the opinion of many pilots, was the worst that they had ever experienced. The bombing was carried out at 14,000 feet and the bombs were seen to fall on the South side of the docks with apparently excellent results as smoke and fire were observed. No e/a were encountered. Two of the Bostons were hit by flak but were escorted back to the English Coast. 12 a/c took off at 1034 hours and landed safely at base at 1152 hours. Weather over the area was high thin cloud at 20,000 feet. Broken low cloud at rendezvous was found at 500 feet. Those taking part in this operation were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
P/O Somers S/L Deere F/L Darling
P/O Gardiner Sgt Murphy F/S Aitken
P/O Hurst F/S Olmsted P/O Parr
Sgt Johnson P/O Wozniak P/O Marshall
F/O T.S. MacKay returned from his Intelligence course at Harrow. F/L Wiese went to London to attend the Norwegian National Day Celebration. F/O Francis went on a 48-hour pass, taking off on a bike for Chelmsford to spend a quiet weekend. He donned his civilian clothes and looked like a retired English farmer when he took off on a 090-degree vector. After cycling for over an hour, he got a fix from a policeman and pedalled another two hours before coming out about two miles from our mess instead of at his destination of Chelmsford.
Monday, 18 May, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud at 3,000 feet clearing towards noon. ‘A’ Flight stood readiness at 0450 hours. At 0604 hours, Red Section scrambled for convoy patrol off Barrow Deep. They were airborne again at 0800 hours on convoy patrol for 14 merchant vessels that were escorted by a destroyer going NE off Shoeburyness. At 1645 hours, the Squadron went on a sweep as follows:
Briefing 403 was to rendezvous with the North Weald Wing at 500 feet over Southend and act as top cover slightly above and behind 222 Squadron.
Action S/L Deere DFC and Bar reports that the Squadron left Southend at 1645 hours with the North Weald Wing according to plan and crossed the Channel gaining height. The Squadron was at 6,000 feet, 10 miles off the French Coast at Dunkirk when the Wing turned back to base. No e/a or flak were encountered. All of our a/c returned undamaged. P/O Parr went away on seven days of well-earned leave. Jack has done 32 sweeps since joining the Squadron.
Tuesday, 19 May, 1942
Weather, a slight ground haze with scattered cumulus at 6,000 feet. There was 9/10ths cloud at 20,000 feet over the Channel and ground haze and scattered cirrus at 25,000 feet over the target at St. Omer.
Briefing The Squadron was briefed at 1900 hours for the circus to St. Omer. 403 Squadron with the North Weald Wing would act as escort cover to six Hurricanes and the Hornchurch Wing would be close escort at 12,000 – 14,000 feet. 403 was to be at 18,000 feet. The circus was to rendezvous at Eastchurch at 2000 hours, pass Deal at 2009 hours, cross the French Coast at Gravelines at 2019 hours, be over the target at St. Omer at 2027 hours and then come out at Calais. The Debden Wing was to be rear support to cover our withdrawal, leaving Bradwell Bay at 2008 hours and positioning themselves in the sun off Cap Gris-Nez sweeping as far as Calais along the coast.
Action The rendezvous was made as planned. The visibility over the target area was good but no bomb bursts were observed and no enemy aircraft were seen. A smoke trail travelling South was seen North of Calais on the way out. F/L Darling returned at 2025 hours due to engine trouble with his number 2, F/S Aitken. P/O Somers and Sgt Johnson missed the sweep owing to Johnson’s engine failing to start. All of our a/c returned undamaged at 2035 hours. Two Belgian pilots from 350 Squadron, Debden Wing, landed at Southend after the sweep to refuel and stayed overnight. P/O Long returned to North Weald Station. AC1s Adderson and F.K. Lisk have been accepted for aircrew. All of the pilots now have bikes which is a good idea as it makes the boys exercise whether they like it or not as the distance is 5 miles between meals.
Wednesday, 20 May 1942
Weather, good visibility during the morning, closing in towards nightfall. The Squadron was released for training at noon and did formation flying and air-firing. Two sections went on convoy patrol and reported 20 merchant vessels northbound, leaving the estuary at 0930 hours escorted by 2 Destroyers and 2 armed trawlers. P/O Hoben got out of the hospital today for a brief spell and paid the Squadron a visit. He has been confined with pneumonia and now goes to Torquay for two weeks to build up. P/O Hammy McDonald paid us a visit in a Miles Master; he is on target-towing on the South Coast. P/O Norman Dick and P/O John Rainville are awaiting a posting to an OTU. John has 43 sweeps to his credit without mishap, nice going.
Thursday, 21 May, 1942
Weather, 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloudy with occasional thunderstorms based at 600 to 1,000 feet. One section was put on readiness for Station defence, with the balance on 30 minutes and then all were released at 1300 hours. P/O Somers, F/S Walker, Sgt Johnson and Sgt Anderson planned a rhubarb to occupied France but failed to get permission from Ops due to weather. Taking advantage of the lull in flying operations, the IO gave the pilots all of the latest gen on escape. As a matter of interest, when two pilots from 350 (Belgium) Squadron were interrogated after landing at Southend after a sweep on 19 May 1942, the fact came out that they did not know where the dinghy lanyard strap fastens to the Mae West. It also appears that one of their pilots who had to bale out on the 19th must also have been unaware of the lanyards correct use as he landed in the channel and lost his dinghy. His Mae West also failed to inflate but fortunately he was quickly picked up. P/O Magwood returned from leave, which he spent in Dublin. He reports that two ounces of pre-war strength whisky for two bob and plenty of beautiful gals. He brought a picture back of one all autographed and she sure is a looker. Perhaps it is just as well that Eire is neutral; at least Mag likes it that way. F/O Dean paid us a visit introducing F/O Ken Wright, who takes over Dean’s duties as Basil has been promoted to a staff position in London.
Friday, 22 May, 1942
Weather, thick ground haze all day with the sun breaking through occasionally. One section was at readiness for Station defence, the remainder of the Squadron was at 30 minutes. The Squadron did practice attacks, formation flying and camera gun. Pilots saw their air firing cine pictures at Station Intelligence. Some 2,000 feet of film was shown, mostly without particularly good results. Yellow, Green and White Sections got airborne on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness. Thirty-four Merchantmen and two escort vessels were reported entering the estuary. F/L Riddell (Connie) paid us a visit from Gravesend. F/S Messum departed for overseas service in the middle East.
Saturday, 23 May, 1942
Weather Heavy ground fog, clearing towards noon. One section was at readiness for Station defence. Black Section took off at 1015 hours to Bradwell Bay to do GCI. Red and Green Sections went on formation attacks. F/L Brad Walker, P/O Doug Hurst, P/O Rainville and P/O Marshall returned from 331 (Norwegian) Squadron celebration at North Weald. He reports that it was a very good party; the rest of the Squadron spent a nice quiet evening at home storing up our batteries for the Mess dance tonight; a very nice affair. Group Captain and Mrs Pike and W/C Scott Malden from North Weald were in attendance. All of our Squadron had partners, S/L Deere and F/O McKay producing the two best-looking gals.
Sunday, 24 May, 1942
Weather, unsettled with scattered cloud at 1,500 feet. One section was at readiness for Station defence, the balance at 30 minutes. The Squadron did formation and cloud flying. F/L O’Leary, piloting KH-F, hit a soft spot while taxiing to the bay and turned up on the nose, damaging the propeller.
Monday, 25 May, 1942
Weather considerable fog, with the wind from the Southwest at 20 to 25 mph; closing in towards noon. The Squadron went on a sweep at 1045 hours to Ostend. F/L Walker, who was leading the Squadron, reports that , due to the sweep being cancelled and then re-instated, 403 Squadron arrived at the rendezvous over Bradwell Bay at 1057, one minute late, and, not seeing the North Weald Wing, assumed that they had proceeded to Clacton-on-Sea. He therefore, set course for Clacton and made the rendezvous with the Hornchurch Wing. Hornchurch, at 15,000 to 16,000 feet and 403 Squadron at 19,000 feet, crossed the French Coast and flew to Ostend, sweeping three miles inland and coming out East of Blankenberge. Hornchurch then dove to sea level but, as 403 Squadron had received no instructions as to what was to be done, they maintained height and covered the leading Squadron of the Hornchurch Wing until it was lost to sight, then set course for home, landing at 1210 hours. No e/a or flak were encountered. With rain in the late afternoon, the Squadron was released at 1600 hours. S/L Deere went on a 48-hour pass and F/L Walker, is acting CO.
Tuesday, 26 May, 1942
Weather, unsettled with occasional showers. The Squadron was released at 1500 hours with the exception of one section that remained at readiness. The Squadron did formation and cloud flying today. F/L Murray arrived here, posted for three days from 416 Squadron. F/O Dick returned from leave, having visited London and Dublin.
Wednesday, 27 May, 1942
Weather, 5/10ths cumulus, clearing towards noon. The Squadron did aerobatics and instrument flying as well as air to air firing. At 1418 hours the Squadron got airborne on an anti-shipping sweep. We were briefed at Martlesham and took off with the North Weald Wing at 1600 hours. Six a/c of 121 Squadron, flying at 3,000 feet were to attack two minesweepers and an accompanying Destroyer. We swept the Dutch Coast North from Flushing then turned South back along the Coast. The W/C reported e/a at sea level but we only saw one ME 109F after it had attacked 222 Squadron. Failing to pick up the W/C, the Squadron turned for home, landing at 1725 hours. The North Weald Wing reports that 121 Squadron badly damaged the two mine sweepers and in air combat, destroyed 1 ME 109 and damaged four others. Sgt Armstrong of 222 Squadron is missing. P/O Parr returned from leave and reports that F/L Gillespie is safe according to a cable from Canada. Jack spent his leave with Peggy’s folks and looks very fit. F/L Darling went off on a 48.
Thursday, 28 May, 1942
The weather was unsettled with gusty winds reaching 40 to 45 mph from the SouthWest and 7/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet clearing towards noon. The Squadron, except for one section that was on readiness, was released at 1200 hours. Most of the boys went to Southend. There was an ENSA show as entertainment in the evening at the school. F/S Rawson was back from leave and eager to get back on ops. He looks the same as ever and shows little evidence of his serious crash. F/O Francis went to London to attend a conference.
Friday, 29 May, 1942
Weather was unsettled with 3/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet and a wind of 20 to 25 mph from the Southwest. ‘A’ Flight got airborne at 1035 hours, led by S/L Deere, to orbit rescue launches in mid-channel South of Sandette Light. S/L Deere set course of 135 degrees and picked up NRL 127 and 24 stationary in mid-channel; we orbited for an hour then NRL 127 took off going South West and 24 West, evidently to base. The Flight returned at 1220 hours. F/L Walker, with fuve a/c then took over and escorted the launches back to base. No e/a or floating dinghies were seen.
At 1850 hours, the Squadron was airborne on a sweep with the North Weald Wing. Rendezvous was made at Chatham with the intention of crossing the French Coast at Hardelot, then sweeping inland and making a large right-hand orbit and feint towards home, then to turn left again, climbing to 32,000 feet and go in at Berck. The weather closed in at Berck, so the Wing turned left to Calais then split up with 403 and 121 turning right. We swept inside Cap Gris-Nez, coming out at Ambleteuse, then along the cost turning for home between Calais and Dunkirk. No enemy a/c were seen but heavy flak was encountered over Calais. This flak was very accurate for height and burst in groups of four in between the sections of the Squadron; too close for comfort. All a/c returned undamaged.
Colonel Block had a flip in the Magister, piloted by P/O Marshall, to look over the area defence for the Station. F/L Darling and F/L O’Leary, at the Station Commander’s request, beat-up the aerodrome defence batteries. They put no a wonderful show of ground attacks and low-level flying. P/O Rainville left today for 55 OTU, much to his dislike. ‘Rainy’ has 43 operational sweeps to his credit since joining the Squadron. The Sergeant’s Mess had a party in the evening and many of us attended. It was a very enjoyable and hospitable evening.
Saturday, 30 May, 1942
Weather was unsettled with 6/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet. Formation flying was done during the morning. The Squadron, except for one section at readiness, was released at 1200 hours. The pilots went to Southend. S/L Morrow visited us along with S/L Aden from North Weald. We are to move back there, much to the regret of all of the boys as we like this place very much.
Sunday, 31 May, 1942
Weather was very unsettled with rain and fog during the morning and clearing towards noon. P/O Parr, Sgt Murphy, Sgt Johnson and Sgt Anderson did a rhubarb; the first this year for the Squadron. They were briefed at Station Intelligence and given complete information thanks to the good system that we have here. They took-off at 1121 hours. Sgt Murphy returned to Southend at 1220 hours and the others landed at Martlesham. Murphy reports that they hit the Belgium Coast at Bray Dunes (not bad) as their course was to Koksijde. Parr and Murphy picked up the RR and turned right, shooting up a goods train. Murphy opened fire with cannon and M/G and Parr with M/G. Murphy was credited with damage on the Loco as they stopped it from issuing steam. He also attacked an oil tanker with cannon coming out at La Panne. He turned back after passing the Coast to do this, giving it cannon; a very nice piece of work. The shore batteries opened up and they (Parr and Murphy) had a hot time leaving La Panne. Sgt Johnson and Anderson turned right after crossing the Belgian Coast and penetrated 8-10 miles inland. Realizing that they had gone too far, they turned back and picked up the Furnes Canal and saw four barges. They both attacked a large motor driven one, riddling the pilothouse with cannon and M/G and undoubtedly, seriously damaging it. Anderson exhausted all of his ammo on the one barge. Johnson carried on and raked the other three barges with fire, then attacked another cluster of six barges. Both Pilots then turned for home, coming out over La Panne and experiencing much flak. At 1305 hours, the Squadron went on an anti-shipping sweep. They were briefed at Martlesham and left there at 1505 hours, with 222 Squadron leading, followed by 121, 331, and 403 Squadron all at sea level. Twenty miles off the Dutch Coast the Wing split up. 403 Squadron, led by F/L Walker, hit the Belgian Coast between Ostend and Blankenbarge and followed the Coast North flying at 800 feet. Passing Seebrugge very heavy flak was encountered, one piece hitting the tail of F/L Walker’s aircraft. Four ships were noted at anchor inside the backwater but the AA fire was too intense to warrant attacking. Continuing the course North, the Squadron passed Noorderhoofd Holland, then turned 180 degrees and joined up with the balance of the Wing South of Walcheren, then proceeded home at 10,000 feet.
En route back, 10 miles off the Dutch Coast, two ME 109Fs appeared following the Squadron behind and above, swerving from the 9 to the 3 o’clock position. They then dived to attack but broke away and evidently tangled with the other Squadrons of the Wing.
North Weald reports one armed trawler was attacked and damaged South of Walcheren and two mine sweepers were driven ashore. One ME 109F was destroyed and one damaged. F/L Allen of 121 and P/O Beaumont are believed to have landed in occupied territory. All of our a/c returned undamaged at 1635 hours. S/L Deere had some trouble with the oleo tail leg with the pressure dropping to 20 pounds and had to turn back with his No. 2 Sgt Murphy.
PERSONNEL AND FLYING TIME FOR MAY – 1942
Officers – Flying 10 2
Officers – Ground Crew 3 1
Airmen – Flying 12
Airmen – Ground Crew 105 32
Total 130 35
Aircraft on Strength 18 Spitfires Mk VB
Operational Flying Time
27 Convoy Patrols 81:45 hours
16 Operational Sweeps 248:40 hours
Total Operational Time 330:25 hours
Non-Operational Time 453:10 hours
Magister Flying Time 38:30 hours
Total Flying Time for Month 822:05 hours
Casualties for the Month – Nil
Monday, 1 June, 1942
Weather, good visibility with high Cirrus and slight ground haze. At 0435 hours, one flight was at readiness and one flight at 15 minutes . The Squadron was briefed for a sweep at 0930 hours. North Weald as to act as withdrawal support to Kenley. The Wing was to rendezvous at Southend at 1030 hours and orbit off Gravelines at 1058 hours. 121 Squadron was on the bottom at 25,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 26,000 feet, 403 Squadron at 27,000 feet and 331 Squadron at 28,000 feet.
Action S/L Deere DFC and Bar reports that the North Weald Wing arrived over Southend at 1034 hours. They set course for the French Coast, climbed to 22,000 feet when they arrived off of Gravelines at 1058 hours. We orbited and continued the climb to 28,000 feet and patrolled as directed. Friends were seen coming out but no enemy a/c. We remained over the area for five minutes, then set course for base. No flak was encountered and all of our a/c returned undamaged at 1135 hours. Those taking part in this sweep were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
F/L Darling S/L Deere F/L Walker
W/O Campbell Sgt Murphy P/O Gardiner
P/O Parr F/L O’Leary P/O Somers
Sgt Monchier P/O Wozniak P/O Johnson
The Squadron took off for Martlesham at 1505 hours to refuel for an anti-shipping attack. We were briefed at Martlesham, with the North Weald Wing as target support for 12 Bostons. We left Martlesham at 1750 hours with 222 Squadron on the bottom of the North Weald Wing followed by 121, 403 and 331 Squadrons. We started flying at ground level, then climbed to 18,000 feet over Haamstede. We flew South and turned West, coming out over Flushing where smoke from the bombing of the docks was observed. When North of Ostend at 18,000 feet, we saw 15 FW 190s flying towards us from the South at 25,000 feet and another seven or eight coming in from the North. The e/a in the North attacked 331 Squadron and part of the e/a formation coming in from the South attacked 403 Squadron. The Squadron kept together with the exception of Yellow 3 and 4 who got a little behind and were attacked by two FW 190s. Yellow 3, P/O Somers, and Yellow 4, Sgt Johnson turned to meet the attack and P/O Somers got in a 3 second burst at the range of 400 yards at the e/a but makes no claim. He then set course for home but was again attacked from his port quarter astern. He turned to attack and got in another burst of 2 seconds of cannon and M/G head on to the e/a and observed a piece of the FW 190 engine cowling drop off. At the same time, his a/c was hit in the port wing by a cannon shell, which tore a large hole. Yellow 3 spiralled down to 10,000 feet and headed for home, landing without further damage at 1935 hours. Sgt Johnson got in a 2-second burst at a FW 190 which came across his sight form starboard. While no claim was made, cine-gun film shows good aim and deflection with the range being not over 200 yards.
The Squadron encountered flak, accurate for height, over the target area and Sgt Johnson saw a Spitfire pilot bale out 10 miles off Ostend. He orbited and gave a ‘Mayday’. Those involved in this sweep were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
F/L Darling S/L Deere F/L Walker
P/O Parr Sgt Murphy P/O Gardiner
F/L O’Leary P/O Hurst P/O Somers
P/O Magwood P/O Wozniak P/O Johnson
Tuesday, 2 June, 1942
Weather; haze over the channel with 7/10ths thin cloud layer at 26,000 feet and good visibility. At 0426 hours, one section was on readiness and the balance of the Squadron was at 30 minutes. At 0635 hours, the Squadron was airborne on a sweep. The North Weald Wing made rendezvous at Southend and set course for Gravelines via Manston with 222 Squadron leading followed by 331, 403 and 121 Squadrons flying at zero feet. The Wing climbed as the French Coast was approached and we patrolled between Gravelines and Dunkirk at 20,000 to 25,000 feet. No enemy a/c were seen or flak encountered. Those taking part in this action were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
F/L Darling S/L Deere F/L Walker
W/O Campbell Sgt Murphy P/O Gardiner
P/O Parr P/O Hurst P/O Somers
P/O Magwood P/O Wozniak Sgt Hunt
The Squadron was briefed for another sweep at 0930 hours, which proved to be the worst combat the Squadron has experienced since its formation.
Briefing 403 Squadron was to form up with the North Weald Wing at Chatham and set course for Hastings with 333 Squadron leading, followed by 403 and 222 Squadrons. Rendezvous was to be made at Hastings with the Hornchurch Wing and then set course for Cap Gris-Nez at zero feet, climbing to 20,000 to 25,000 feet over the French Coast with the Hornchurch Wing below. We were to sweep East to St. Omer and then come out at Le Touquet and head for home.
Action S/L Deere DFC and Bar reports that the rendezvous was made as arranged and that we crossed the French Coast at Cap Gris-Nez, sweeping to St. Omer then we turned right at Le Touquet. Coming out at Le Touquet, we were the last Squadron out, flying at 24,000 feet when we were attacked from above by 15 or 20 FW 190s who came in from the South. The Squadron turned to meet the attack, when a further 15 plus FW 190s that had followed us attacked from above and behind. The Squadron split into pairs and our a/c were heavily engaged in dogfights. While thus engaged, we were attacked by more e/a who came in from the South, making a total of 40 to 50 Huns engaging our Squadron. The Squadron Leader was heavily attacked from all sides and exhausted all cannon and M/G in short bursts at close range, engaging enemy aircraft head on, astern and full deflection. Being continually attacked and having to fire short bursts, there was no time to observe the results and unfortunately the camera switch was not turned on. The S/L saw two a/c hit the sea about 10 miles East of Le Touquet, one of which was definitely a Spitfire that broke in half in mid-air with the pilot baling out. He also saw another parachute in the vicinity but was unable to give a fix as he was chased by a FW 190 to mid-channel, which he could not engage having no ammo left. After the e/a broke away and about 20 miles SE of Dungeness, the S/L saw a pilot bale-out of a Spitfire. He orbited the area and gave a ‘mayday’ three times but received no answer. 3 Spitfires joined in the patrol as the rescue boats appeared in the vicinity, coming from Dungeness. The S/L then left the area and 15 miles SW of Dungeness, he saw another Spitfire crash into the sea. He later observed a pilot in a dinghy, orbited several times and directed two rescue boats who were 15 miles to the West of the pilot. He was rescued and later identified to be F/S Aitken. S/L Deere then proceeded to Southend and landed at 1210 hours. He also reports that he saw a FW 190 go down pouring black smoke and definitely out of control from 20,000 feet during the melee over Le Touquet.
F/L B Walker, Yellow 1, reports that he saw 20 plus e/a come in from the South and turned left to meet the attack, when four FW 190s came down out of the cloud dead astern on Red and Blue Sections. F/L Walker turned right to head them off, followed by Yellow 2, but Yellow 3 and 4 continued turning left. F/L Walker gave a short burst at e/a coming down on Red and Blue Sections from a range of 400 yards, causing the e/a to break and dive away. Yellow 2 was then attacked from port beam and Yellow 1 turned to attack followed by Yellow 2. The e/a spiralled upwards and we followed but did not get within range. We finally broke into cloud and, on coming out, saw no trace of the Squadron and so set course for home. We were followed by e/a below us but were not attacked and landed at Southend at 1130 hours.
Sgt Murphy, Red 2, reports, “I was attacked at the same time as S/L Deere. I saw a FW 190 come up dead in front, gave a 2-second burst with cannon and M/G as the e/a climbed past me from a range of 200 yards. The FW 190 stalled, turned over on its back and spun away. I thought that I had him until I later saw another FW 190 do the same manoeuvre in combat without being fired upon. I should like to wait for the film before making any claim. I then saw a FW 190 and got on his tail and opened fire from a range of 200 yards from dead astern with only M/Gs as both of my cannons had jammed. The e/a/ rolled on his back and spun away. It was then that I was attacked by another e/a and took violent evasive action and found myself upside down, hanging on my straps before I pulled out at 3,000 feet heading for France. I passed many small villages which all seemed to have AA batteries which opened fire at me. I flew low at 1,500 feet, opened the throttle and got on the right bearing for home, never expecting to get there. I saw an e/a crash in the sea 3 miles off Le Touquet on the way out. After crossing the English Coast, I landed at Manston and refuelled before taking off for Southend.”
P/O Wozniak, Red 4, reports that several e/a came down on him from the starboard beam and opened up with cannon and machine gun. He felt a jolt and the radio went dead and the aircraft went into a spin from 24,000 feet. He pulled out quickly and, upon levelling off, was again attacked from the port and starboard beams, as well from above astern. M/G Bullets hit the engine and both wings. P/O Wozniak put the aircraft into a violent spin and did not pull out till reaching 8,000 feet. After setting course for home, Wozniak was not attacked again, he landed at Southend with his starboard tire punctured but made a good landing. Examination of his a/c showed a large cannon hole through the fuselage near the tail which severed the radio cable and one control wire, M/G hits on the engine, through the tail plane and both of the wings and is assessed as E category damage. ‘Wozy’ is lucky to be here.
F/S Aitken reports, “I was Blue 4 and heard P/O Hurst, Red 3, report six e/a behind. I looked back, following Blue 3, P/O Parr and then heard the CO say break. We broke left and I saw an e/a which I think was a ME 109F attacking P/O Parr from quarter port astern. I turned slightly to port and gave this e/a a long burst, sweeping him along the beam as he crossed my sight with cannon and M/G. I then felt M/G bullets hit the armour plate at my back as bullets perforated my cockpit cover. My a/c gave a lurch and the R/T went U/S. I went into a steep turn and then levelled out and started weaving. I saw nothing more of my section. I then saw an e/a on my starboard, about 500 feet above and approximately 400 yards away. I took a hasty look around and saw another on my port, about 500 yards away and several more some distance behind. The e/a on my starboard side dropped its port wing slightly so I figured he was coming in to attack. I turned right into him and opened fire from a range of 200 yards at his front quarter port. He fired as he came down and I saw tracer pass underneath. The e/a then broke away. I continued the steep turn to the right, then levelled out at 10,000 feet and headed for home. I then saw tracer pass on both sides and cannon hits on both wings together with M/G fire. I went into a steep left turn and levelled out at 5,000 feet. I throttled back, reduced boost and headed for the white cliffs. I had a look around to see what damage had been done to decide whether I could make Hawkinge. The nose wanted to go up so I trimmed fully forward, which took most of the pressure off of the stick. The engine started to sputter puffs of white smoke and flames came out of the exhaust, gasoline was leaking into the cockpit and the a/c was losing height. I then decided it was about time that I got out. Holding the stick with my left hand, I undid the straps and slid the hood back, then changed hands, removing my helmet with my left hand. I opened the door and throttled back and pulled the nose up, then I held onto the stick while I put my left foot on the wing, pulled the rip cord and fell backwards out of the a/c. My chute opened and almost got caught on the tail. This was done at 1,000 feet. As I went down, I saw the a/c hit the deck with a hell of a bang and sink immediately. I inflated my Mae West and turned the quick release and it seemed like no time before I hit the water. I had a hold of the dinghy strap as I cannot swim and I hit the water facing the wind with the parachute pulling me along my back. I struck the quick release, holding onto the dinghy strap and gave the strap a hard jerk to free the dinghy from the parachute. It inflated and I climbed in, found the paddles and looked for the shore. I saw a Spitfire circling (this was S/L Deere) and later saw several more a/c, recognizing SM (W/C Scott Malden who was in one of the Spitfires). I was picked up 25 to 30 mins later by a rescue launch, given a drink of Scotch, rubbed down and put to bed, eventually landing at Dover.”
P/O Gardiner, Yellow 2, was attacked with F/L Walker and stayed with him while they followed 2 FW 190s in a climbing turn but did not get within range. They returned to base without being hit.
The foregoing reports covers the accounts of the six pilots to return home out of the 12 who took off on this sweep. The Squadron was greatly outnumbered and the fighting so furious that no accurate assessment of the damage done to the enemy can be made. There is however, little doubt that the two e/a seen out of control by S/L Deere and Sgt Murphy were shot down by 403 Squadron as there were no other Spitfires in the area at the time of combat.
Our losses are: F/L M Darling DFC, P/O J. Parr, P/O D. Hurst, P/O L. Somers, W/O D. Campbell and Sgt Hunt, all seasoned pilots with the exception of Sgt Hunt. It is not necessary to state the loss this has meant to the Squadron and the loss to the Country, as they were all outstanding young men of much promise. The Squadron formation for this sweep was:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
F/L Darling S/L Deere F/L Walker
W/O Campbell Sgt Murphy P/O Gardiner
P/O Parr P/O Hurst P/O Somers
F/S Aitken P/O Wozniak Sgt Hunt
Pilot Officer Amor (Engineering Officer) obtained delivery of 9 new Spitfires by 1730 hours and by working all through the night, had 13 a/c on the front line at 0900 hours the next morning.
Wednesday, 3 June, 1942
Weather, clear and warm. One section was at readiness for Station defence, the balance of the Squadron was at 30 minutes. Word came through of the pending move. S/L Deere went to North Weald to discuss affairs. F/S Walker returned from leave. The Squadron was advised at 1200 hours to move to Martlesham by 1600 hours. Harrow arrived and transported men, material with 65 airmen set to go by train tomorrow morning. The Squadron got airborne at 1800 hours for Martlesham, landing there at 1825 hours. P/O Amor and F/O MacKay remained overnight at Southend to clear up loose ends.
Thursday, 4 June, 1942
Weather, warm and clear. 65 Airmen and material were loaded on the 1057 hours train for Woodbridge and the flights spent the day fixing up their new quarters. We have a very fine dispersal if properly kept. The Squadron did a/c cannon tests, a/c tests and sector reconnaissance. With only one exception, the nine new Spits were found unserviceable, requiring several adjustments, and considerable trouble with the cannons. F/S Olmsted returned from leave. Sgts Cabas and Fletcher were posted to the Squadron. F/O Dick returned from the hospital, being discharged as fit after he and a few friends squirted some of the hospital staff with a fire hose.
Friday, 5 June, 1942
Weather, very hot with some ground haze. The Squadron continued a/c tests today and did a few convoy patrols; all are a bit disgruntled at the prospect of all convoy work and no sweeps but this does look like a good spot. We have excellent food and quarters. The CO went away for a 48.
Saturday, 6 June, 1942
Weather, warm with considerable ground haze below 1,500 feet. The Squadron settled down to convoy work. Blue, Green and Black Sections went on Army co-op at 1704 hours. P/O Wozniak had difficulty spotting the convoy through the haze and had to ask for a vector. He flew for 30 minutes on a 070 degree heading, then turned back towards the Coast and saw 10 minesweepers out in the North Sea but failed to pick up the convoy. All pilots were told that the convoy lanes are never more than 15 miles off the Coast and therefore, they are not to venture beyond that. Word came through today that S/L Campbell is a prisoner of war. We are all very bucked up with this news. We hope that a few more of the lads will also show up.
Sunday, 7 June, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus with occasional showers and a cloud base at 2,000 feet. The Squadron was released for the day. We did formation to keep in battle form, which looked very good from the aerodrome. F/O Harry Francis arranged for the Officers to entertain the Sergeants at the ‘Rhodes’ House, our living quarters. It was a wonderful show, with plenty of light and dark ale. The batmen fried Spam, sausage and eggs, made a salad, macaroni and cheese and had orange juice, coffee and chocolates. Sgt Murphy proved to be a remarkable story teller using Indian, Jewish, Irish and Italian dialects; his stories were very clever. He is an American and hails from Turkey Point, St. Clare, Michigan near Detroit. The Officers dressed in civvies and there was no formality, everything natural, free and easy. The CO came back early from his 48 to attend. We have a real fighter Squadron now, even after the serious losses. It is evident in the atmosphere of the dispersal and in the pilots and much credit, I think, goes to the S/L, as he has a way of instilling aggressiveness in all of his boys.
Monday, 8 June, 1942
Weather, 5/10ths cumulus cloud at 2,000 feet, closing in towards the late afternoon. The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day and there was no time for anything else. They have all been told to keep a close lookout for anything unusual. A big circus went off today without us. G/C Barwell here for rendezvous. AC1 Bridon assigned as GD to dispersal to keep the place in shape. 65 Squadron was posted here for target practice as well as two Lysanders from Southend. We are to take any sweeps 65 would normally do. S/L Deere went to the hospital with Quiney; he has been feeling tough for four days.
Tuesday, 9 June, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud with a ceiling at 1,500 feet at 1000 hours, closing in towards late afternoon. The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day. F/S Aitken and Sgt Cabas saw an ME 110 about a mile away. F/S Aitken gave chase but the e/a dove to sea level and got away. F/S Aitken did not follow too far. F/S Olmsted saw one of the convoy escort boats destroy a mine with gunfire. Wellington bomber, BH-V from a Polish Squadron, made a crash landing on return from a raid to Essen; it was attacked three times by a ME 110 from below and astern. The rear gunner was very badly shot up as was the port wing and engine. The second pilot baled out 20 miles west of Essen after the attack.
Wednesday, 10 June, 1942
Weather, 7/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet. The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day. P/O Gardiner, F/S Walker, Sgt Murphy and Sgt Johnson planned a rhubarb to Koksijde but they failed to get permission from Ops. The pilots were shown, at Station Intelligence the combat films of rhubarb done by P/O Parr, Sgt Johnson, Murphy and Anderson so that they can familiarize themselves with rhubarb targets. These showed that the barge involved was badly hit. North Weald was asked to assess Sgt Johnson’s combat film to see if he should be awarded a damaged barge. The dinghy lanyard strap was tested today for its strength and found it to be too weak. A letter was written to F/L Madden Simpson, suggesting that this be investigated. e/a reconnaissance was reported off Orfordness and Red Section got airborne in two and a half minutes to intercept but the e/a could not be seen. G/C Peel and W/C Debden Wing paid a visit to the dispersal. The Squadron was released from Ops at 2315 hours.
Thursday, 11 June, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud during the morning, clearing by noon. Ops called at 0334 hours giving permission for a rhubarb that was asked for yesterday. F/S Walker, P/O Gardiner, Sgt Murphy and Sgt Johnson were called out of bed and were airborne at 0419 hours, using lights for take-off. They hit Koksijde as planned and crossed the Coast penetrating to the Furnes Canal and turned left along the canal. Seeing a collection of barges in the canal halfway between Furnes and Nieuport, and meeting no AA fire they made a leisurely turn and made a line astern attack on one motor driven barge. The concentrated fire of the 4 a/c’s cannon and machine guns on the one barge completely destroyed it. The each member singled out one of the other barges for individual attacks, each damaging one. After this, they followed the canal to Nieuport where heavy AA fire was encountered. In the light, which was just breaking, flashes from many gun positions could plainly be seen. The batteries criss-crossed the town with an intense barrage of red and green flak which F/S Walker said looked like Christmas. Walker saw a post open fire on Johnson and he turned right opening fire on the battery from a range of 75 yards in a low attack that silenced the position. Sgt Murphy saw a gun post located in the Cathedral tower that he attacked and likewise silenced. Coming out, Sgt Murphy’s a/c was hit in the starboard wing and a 15-inch hole was torn in the trailing edge; fortunately the aileron was not hit. The boys counted at least 8 gun positions scattered around the perimeter of Nieuport. They all landed safely at 0535 hours. This was a good effort although the pilots were briefed to turn out before hitting heavy flak concentrations at Nieuport, but from the results, it is just as well that they flew over the town. P/O Gardiner almost collided with a house and Walker nearly hit a smokestack as the light was not so good for low flying.
Friday, 12 June, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cloud at 1,000 feet, closing in the late afternoon with rain, visibility of one mile. New pilots, Sgt Sorensen, Sgt Mawson, Sgt Faircloth, Sgt Thomas, Sgt Ashworth, Sgt Jones and F/S Page did formation flying. Cannon and M/G stoppages were taken up with the Armament Section by F/L Walker. All of the London papers this morning carried an account of the rhubarb operation, with the Times having the most accurate description. Sgt Anderson, P/O Gardiner and F/S Walker requested permission to do a rhubarb to Knocke. F/L Walker would not allow it as the Squadron is due to move Tuesday back to operations. The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day.
Saturday, 13 June, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud at 1,500 feet. The Squadron had one section on readiness at 0428 hours. Ops advised us of AA practice off Walton from 0900 hours to 1130 hours. The pilots were advised of this and that Blenheims are to practice bombing from 3,000 feet at Sutton, five miles NE of the aerodrome all day till 1700 hours. A gas drill was conducted today at 0845 hours. F/L Walker went to London for a 48. The Squadron was on convoy patrol, reporting 27 ships Northbound off of Southwold. The new pilots did some aerobatics and formation flying. S/L Deere was released from Mrs Harvey’s rest home.
Sunday, 14 June, 1942
Weather 7/10ths cumulus cloud at 3,000 feet with a 20 to 25 mph wind from the Southwest. The Squadron had one section at readiness, with the balance released for training. We did aerobatics, tail chase, sector recco. One of the new pilots, Sgt Faircloth, hit a soft spot while taxiing and nosed over, damaging the prop on KH-A. Mrs and Mr Harvey had the pilots to their home for hamburgers, beer and smokes at 1500 hours. It was a very nice affair. They are a very charming couple and their hospitality was greatly appreciated. The afternoon was spent looking over the gardens and the livestock. The only girl in our party was Miss Joan Fenton, the CO’s pretty fiancée. The Sergeant’s Mess had a dance in the evening. We all had a good time. Sgt Johnson had a good looker with him from Ipswich; Murphy, Cabas, Fletcher, Walker and Rawson played the field.
Monday, 15 June, 1942
Weather, 8/10ths cumulus at 2,000 to 3,000 feet with a cold wind from the SW at 20 to 30 mph. At 0428 we had one section at readiness with the remainder at 15 minutes. We did convoy patrol and weather tests. A signal came through, indicating that F/L B. Walker is awarded the DFC by HM the King for devotion to duty, leadership and making 53 operational sweeps over enemy territory. All of the pilots, 62 ground crew, the IO, EO and MO have to go to Hawkinge tomorrow at 0730 hours for a short stay.
Tuesday, 16 June, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus at 1,000 feet, threatening thunder storms with some rain and drizzle. The Squadron was on convoy patrol for the day. P/O Wozniak and Sgt Cabas scrambled at 1615 hours, saw no enemy a/c but reported a balloon, oval shape, 6 x 4 feet and cream in colour, flying at sea level at Lat. 51degrees 50 minutes Long 2 degrees East at 1615 hours. P/O Gardiner and P/O Amor are in the hospital with the flu.
Capt ‘Knobby’ Clark visited the Squadron with P/O Hogg (Canadian). A signal arrived today, advising us that the move to Hawkinge was cancelled. The Squadron, with the exception of one section at readiness, was released off the Station at 1700 hours. F/S Walker and Sgt Anderson planned a rhubarb to Knocke, but Ops would not give them permission.
Wednesday, 17 June, 1942
Weather, 7/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet with a cold NW wind at 10 to 15 mph. The Squadron went on convoy patrol for the day. A signal was received directing that we are to move to Catterick tomorrow. All sections packed and started loading into 10-ton trucks on the RR siding in the afternoon. Sgt Pilots Dowding and Haynes arrived today.
Thursday, 18 June, 1942
Weather, considerable ground haze, closing in towards the late afternoon. The Squadron departure for Catterick was delayed by the weather. F/O Francis, with the advance party, proceeded in Harrow a/c from Martlesham. The balance of the ground crew left today by train at 1600 hours, arriving at Catterick at 2359 hours. F/L Black acted as their Escorting Officer.
Friday, 19 June, 1942
Weather, clear and warm with a heavy ground haze in the early morning. The Squadron took off from Martlesham at 0600 hours and arrived at Catterick at 0730 hours, having difficulty landing because of haze. ‘A’ Flight went to West Hartlepool for two weeks. ‘B’ Flight remains at Catterick; the work here being defensive only, with one section at readiness from dawn to dusk each day. We had a welcome party in the Mess with the Station Staff. Also in attendance were S/L Deere, F/L Walker, F/O Francis, F/O Magwood, F/L Black, P/O McKay. They had a real bust up in which the Station staff proved themselves to be good fellows. While in London yesterday, the IO gave the Canadian Press (RCAF) full details of the rhubarb that was carried out by F/S Walker, Sgts Johnson, Murphy and P/O Gardiner as well as Sgt Murphy’s experiences of June 2, 1942.
Saturday, 20 June, 1942
Weather, clear, warm and very humid, with some ground haze. It closed in during the late afternoon, threatening thunderstorms. S/L Deere and F/O McKay intended to go to West Hartlepool to inspect ‘A’ Flight quarters, but the weather closed in and the trip was postponed. The CO arranged with the Station Commander for some furnishings for the dispersal at West Hartlepool. Lisk wrote a news column for ‘Wings Abroad’.
Sgt Murphy, Anderson, Johnson, F/S Aitken and Sgt Monchier were recommended for their commissions; they are all excellent types who will be welcome members to our Mess. F/S Taylor distributed sweaters, pyjamas and socks that were donated by the Canadian YMCA. A letter of thanks was written as these articles were gratefully accepted by the Squadron and every article was excellently made and of good quality. Sgt Murphy went on a 48 with Monchier to Leeds; F/S Aitken and Johnson went on 7 days leave. F/L Brad Walker DFC and F/O Harry Francis also got off on 7 days leave. Previous to this, they had tried to get away twice only to be recalled. We are not bust here so the chances are good that they will make it this time.
Sunday, 21 June, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus, ceiling zero, clearing towards noon. A letter was received from the AOC, 11 Group, AVM Leigh-Mallory, thanking S/L Deere for the work done by 403 Squadron. This was really appreciated by the pilots as they felt that we had received little credit for the show put up. We still feel that the Squadron unquestionably should be credited with two FW 190s destroyed in the combat of June 2, 1942 and we are continuing to press this claim. S/L Deere and F/O McKay visited West Hartlepool in the Tiger Moth. For not having flown a Tiger for 3 and a half years it was a good effort by S/L Deere.
Monday, 22 June, 1942
Weather, very heavy, hot haze and humid with no wind. The Squadron attempted some practice formation flying buy the weather was too bad. P/O G. Hoben arrived from Torquay at 2100 hours. Sgts Murphy and Monchier, and F/S Olmsted were interviewed by the Station Commander for commissions and were given very good reports. F/S Clare Walker received a well-earned commission and is now P/O Walker; a very popular promotion.
Tuesday, 23 June 1942
Weather, very hot and hazy. The Squadron did dog fights and aerobatics. Ops told us that the Squadron is flying more here than the average fighter Squadron that they have had posted to the Station. P/O Gardiner arrived from Martlesham after having been released from the hospital. Sgts Fletcher, Haynes and Anderson did dog fights over the aerodrome below 5,000 feet and received a lecture from the Commanding Officer. Sgts Norman and Maffre arrived to join the Squadron today and Maffre was sent to Drem, having been posted here in error.
Wednesday, 24 June, 1942
Weather, clear and warm with a 10 to 15 mph wind from the NW. The Squadron did formation flying and aerobatics. Cpl Milne arrived and took pictures of the CO and ‘Steve’ for a press write-up (Steve is his black Scottie). The 13 Group armament officer arrived here to supervise an anti-gas drill including the decontamination of an aircraft. The drill, conducted with 14 men, was carried out as follows:
Equipment 2 wheel barrows, 2 dust cans, 4 shovels, 1 pick, 1 ladder, 2 – 10 foot planks, 2 white-wash brushes, 1 water bucket, 4 gallons of petrol, 1 drum of bleaching powder, and an indicator sticks and rags.
Procedure First coat the tires with bleaching, then move a/c away from contaminated area. The 14 man crew, clothed with No. 5 equipment proceeds as follows; 2 men on each wing, 2 on the a/c, 1 man on the prop, one on the engine cowling, 2 on the Perspex, 2 on the fuselage and tail assembly, 4 men on mixing and ground de-contamination. Head the a/c into the wind and work on windward side, using a dry cloth to thoroughly clean all of the surfaces, then finish off with rags soaked in petrol. This should take 1 hour to thoroughly clean an a/c. Allow ¾ of an hour for dressing for the first time. Some Halifax’s from Topcliffe came over to give our pilots some bomber attack practice. Sgt Pilots Murray, Johnson and MacKay arrived. F/S Taylor flew in the Magister to West Hartlepool to check up on billets.
Thursday, 25 June, 1942
Weather, clear and warm with a 10-mph wind from the SW. P/O Gardiner returned from 48 hour. The Squadron did aerobatics and sector recco today. Sgt Ashworth bent the prop tips on Spitfire 736 by allowing the tail to come up while taking off. Also damage was done to the Magister while it was starting up. The front cockpit switches were on and the rear cockpit switches were off and, while it was sucking in, the engine started and pulled forward, causing the prop to hit an oil drum. F/L Pitman, F/L Ivy, F/L Berry of 13 Group HQ paid a visit to the dispersal. F/O Crampton, RCAF, visited us for news items; so we gave him an account of P/O Wozniak.
Friday, 26 June, 1942
Weather, unsettled with heavy ground haze and clearing towards late afternoon to 10/10ths cumulus at 1,5000 feet. The Squadron did aerobatics and general flying. Many of the pilots went off on 48 hours passes. Sgt Pilots Faircloth, Mawson, Johnson, Ashworth, Jones, McKay and Murray were posted. LAC Peel of the Photographic Section was posted to 168 Squadron.
Saturday, 27 June, 1942
Weather, clear and warm. F/L Walker DFC and F/O Francis returned from 7 days leave. P/O Amor returned from convalescence at Martlesham. The AOC attended the decontamination practice. An actual mustard bomb was dropped on a Spitfire. The a/c was refuelled, re-armed and decontaminated in 15 minutes. The AOC appeared pleased and complimented the CO on the show. The Squadron carried out practice flying.
Sunday, 28 June, 1942
The weather was clear and warm. The Squadron did aerobatics and general flying and F/O McKay went to the hospital.
Monday, 29 June, 1942
Word has just been received that P/O Amor, our EO and the oldest remaining Officer in the Squadron has been posted. He is going to 488 Squadron, a New Zealand Squadron at Church Fenton. We are extremely sorry to lose him, but it is a F/L posting that he is going to so we are happy to see him get the promotion. ‘Amy’, as we called him, has been the backbone of the Squadron; his knowledge of publications, his experience in moving Squadrons, his intimate knowledge of the airmen and their trades has bee of tremendous importance in the successful operation of the Squadron. Good luck ‘Amy’. Word has been received of a secret operation in which the Squadron is to take part. It is in 11 Group, in the South of England. The pilots know only that there is a ‘do’ on and are quite bucked up about it. Practice flying has been discontinued so that 100% serviceability may be maintained for the next 36 hours. 20 planes, 20 pilots, the IO the MO and 62 men are to go. We are also to furnish 27 men to service the flight from another Squadron, which is to take over our state of readiness at West Hartlepool. F/O Rushworth assumes the IO’s duties.
Tuesday, 30 June, 1942
S/L Deere returned from 48 hours. The advance party of 27 men and kit left by rail for the detachment to the secret operation. These men will not know their destination until they arrive. One flight of No. 243 Squadron (six planes and eight pilots) took over our readiness at West Hartlepool. Three of our pilots are detached to them and 27 airmen under F/S Klaponski will service their planes. The balance of our personnel returned to Catterick to prepare for the above-mentioned detachment. P/O Amor is cleaning up a bit of work prior to leaving the Squadron. P/O Magwood, P/O Hoben went on 48 hours. Seventy-five personnel attended the picture ‘Next of Kin’.
Summary Aircrew Establishment
Fighter Sweeps: 4 Officer 8 1
Convoy Patrols: 164 Airmen 16 Nil
Ground Crew Establishment
Officer 4 Nil
Airmen 107 44
Total 135 45
Total Operational Hours: 418:05
Total Non-Operational Hours: 447:30
Our Casualties, 6 Pilots missing, 7 a/c missing and 2 a/c Category ‘E’
Enemy Casualties, 2 FW 190s destroyed (awaiting confirmation) 2 FW 190s damaged.
Wednesday, 1 July, 1942
The weather was fine and warm, with a slight haze that cleared by mid-morning. F/O Rushworth joined the Squadron temporarily for Intelligence duties in the absence of F/O T.S. MacKay. Two Harrows took off at 1140 hours with part of the equipment and the ground crews for Manston where they arrived at 1340 hours. The pilots were unable to fly down in the morning because of the bad weather in 11 Group’s area and finally took off at 1530 hours, reaching Manston at 1710 hours.
Thursday, 2 July, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths to 10/10ths low cloud most of the day but fine and warm. The Squadron was down at dispersal by 0715 hours. Owing to the low cloud a postponement was put on until 1110 hours when the show was finally called off. W/C Flying gave the pilots a short talk on local flying and R/T precautions to be observed for security reasons. During the afternoon, a single section patrol was maintained over convoy AGENT, which was North East of Bradwell Bay by three sections from 1240 to 1635 hours when the Squadron was released off the camp. The pilots who carried out this patrol were:
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
Sgt Anderson H.S. P/O Hoben G.J.F. Sgt Monchier N.
Sgt Haynes A.L. F/S Page C.F. Sgt Sorenson C.
This escort duty was shared with 222 Squadron.
Friday, 3 July, 1942
Weather 6/10ths to 8/10ths at 4,000 to 7,000 feet. The Squadron was at readiness from 1300 hours. Several of the pilots carried out sector reconnaissance and local flying during the morning. In the afternoon, a very interesting talk on Escape was given in the Intelligence officer by F/S McCairns, the only fighter pilot to escape from Germany so far. At 1815 hours, the whole of ‘B’ Flight was ordered to scramble on the approach of bandits. Later Blue Section was given a vector to patrol convoy BACON, which was just leaving the Estuary. But as the bandits were later plotted flying East, the rest of the Flight was recalled and landed at 1840 hours. The pilots engaged were:
Blue Section Green Section Black Section Pink Section
F/L Walker BR Sgt Johnston M. Sgt Anderson H.S. Sgt Thomas A.
Sgt Rawson D.L. Sgt Fletcher F/S Page C.F.
A second false alarm came in later in the evening which caused Green Section (Sgt Anderson and F/S Page) to patrol the base from 2110 hours to 2145 hours. Between 1810 hours and last light BACON (convoy 224) was patrolled by four sections in succession. Quite a good party, for which a good number of pilots were able to attend, was thrown in the Officer’s Mess from 2200 hours till 0200 hours after a Claude Hebert ENSA show.
Saturday, 4 July, 1942
Weather fine with much medium stratus cloud. The Squadron was at readiness from first light till 1300 hours, then released off the camp. Apart from Red Section, which scrambled from the base for twenty-five minutes during an alert at 0720 hours there was no flying. P/O Walker L.A. had to go to sick bay with tonsillitis and it looks like he will be grounded for a week or so. Bad luck both for him and the Squadron, especially at a time like this.
Sunday, 5 July, 1942
The weather was fine and cloudless at first. Then, much heavy cumulus began to build up with thundering and rain late in the evening. The Squadron expected to be released for training but at mid-morning the Group came through to say that one flight must keep readiness till last light. However, there was no operational flying except for two occasions when the stand-by section was scrambled for a short time during the afternoon. Both patrols were uneventful. During the day, about a dozen plots went up to practice dog fighting. In the morning, F/S Olmsted C.R. had a trip over to Gatwick and back. A farewell party was given in the evening by the Station Commander (G/C Adams) which was attended by a number of the pilots from the Squadron.
Monday, 6 July, 1942
Weather, medium cloud of 8/10ths to 10/10ths. ‘B’ Flight took over readiness state from ‘A’ Flight at first light until 1300 hours. The rest of the Squadron was released for training. A short visit was paid to the Station late in the afternoon by the AOC.
Tuesday, 7 July, 1942
Weather, fine with 6/10ths cumulus cloud, increasing later to 8/10ths. We had a little rain after dark. The Squadron was released for training until 1100 hours when we were informed that the Squadron was to return to Catterick on the 8th. Immediately, preparations were made with three parties: air party of 19 a/c with pilots, rail party of 64 men with F/O Warner H. (EO) in charge, and transport party of eight men and two officers. P/O Clare Walker was left behind in the hospital because of tonsillitis.
Wednesday, 8 July, 1942
The Squadron arrived back at Catterick at 1330 hours and came over the aerodrome in three flights of six, six and seven in very close formation. We were released until 1900 hours. The weather was 4/10ths to 6/10ths cumulus with heavy local showers. The road party, with F/L Black, which left Manston at 0615 hours, arrived at Catterick at 2245 hours. The part was delayed for nearly three hours near Stamford on account of engine trouble. The car had to be towed to a bomber OTU and repaired and the crew were given tea and were very hospitably received. P/O J. Mozolowski reported to the Squadron for duty.
Thursday, 9 July, 1942
Weather, clear and warm. ‘B’ Flight moved to West Hartlepool and ‘A’ Flight resumed duties at Catterick.
Friday, 10 July, 1942
Weather clear and warm. The Squadron did formation flying today. Sgt Pilots H.S. Anderson A.L. Haynes and J. Norman went on 7 days leave. S/L Deere went on a 48-hour pass.
Saturday, 11 July, 1942
Weather, clear and warm. Pilot Officer Gordon Hoben, flying ‘Canadian Policeman’, took off from Catterick at 1530 hours to visit Topcliffe, his old bomber station and crashed at 1550 hours. The a/c was totally destroyed and Gordon was instantly killed. W/C R.L. Smith is to investigate the accident. F/L BR Walker was called to identify the body. Gordon was a grand chap. liked by everyone on the Squadron. He had over 100 operational hours on bombers and was shaping up to become a first rate fighter pilot. Bishop Nelegan and W/C McArthy form HQ visited the Squadron today.
Sunday, 12 July, 1942
Weather unsettled with 7/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus at 1,000 feet and occasional rain. F/O L.N. McBride arrived to give a trade test.
Monday, 13 July, 1942
Weather unsettled with rain during the afternoon and some ground fog. Air Marshall Edwards, W/C Campbell and P/O Thompson visited the Squadron and had lunch with the officers. W/C H. Ecles, Station Commander and a party visited the dispersal and met with all the pilots and ground crew. They spoke at length with several individuals and discussed problems such as re-mustering and repatriation. F/O T.S. MacKay, Intelligence Officer, returned from the hospital at 1500 hours. The Sgt’s Mess dance was attended by many officers, a very successful affair.
Tuesday, 14 July, 1942
Weather, clear and warm with scattered cumulus at 1,500 feet. F/S C.F. Page took off from West Hartlepool at 1420 hours in KH-M, did not gain sufficient speed on the take off roll and collided with a Henley. KH-M is a Category ‘B’ with damage to the main plane, airscrew, engine and controls. The Henley received damage to an engine, port wing and towing apparatus and was also classified as Category ‘B’. F/S Page was put on charge. F/L Walker BR was posted to No. 55 OTU to be effective July 21, 1942.
The funeral for Gordon Hoben took place at 1400 hours. Father Plumley, assisted by Father Doucet, gave the service in the Station Chapel with a full military funeral including firing and a band. The pallbearers were Sgt N. Monchier, F/L BR Walker, F/O J.E. Gardiner, F/S C.R. Olmsted, P/O L.A. Walker and F/O T.S. MacKay. Wreaths were laid by the Station Commander and on behalf of the Officer’s Mess, 406 Squadron, 403 Squadron and the Sgt’s Mess. The service was very impressive, and internment was in the Catterick village cemetery.
Wednesday, 15 July, 1942
Weather, 5/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet. The Squadron did some formation flying. W/C Scot Malden and S/L Sim from No. 13 Group Headquarters visited the CO. Sgt V. Cabas and Sgt H Dowding, while on a practice flight, spotted seven P38s and engaged the leader and one of the section leaders in a dogfight at 12,000 feet. They had no difficulty, the Spitfire Mk VB out-climbing and out-turning the P38 and both Cabas and Dowding consider that they were easy meat.
S/L AC Deere and F/O T.S. MacKay paid West Hartlepool a visit. The dispersal was in very neat condition and in ship shape order. F/O H.F. Francis went to the hospital sick with a cold.
Thursday, 16 July, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet, clearing towards the late afternoon. F/S C.R. Olmsted, F/S G.D. Aitken, F/S H.S. Anderson, F/S H. Murphy, Sgt H. Monchier and Sgt M. Johnston reported to the AOC, 13 Group, for interviews for appointment to commission. Sgt D.L. Rawson was promoted to F/S, effective July 1, 1942. F/S Rawson and Sgt A. Thomas went on 7 days leave. S/L Deere went to London to attend a conference for Squadron and Wing Leaders. The IO took over the confidential documents from the Cypher Officer. The pilots of ‘A’ Flight went to the Station Intelligence to study aircraft recognition and to see films. The Squadron wrote to the Air Ministry reference the transfer of Sgt Pilots Cabas and Fletcher to the US Air Corps.
Friday, 17 July, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus at 1,000 feet with some rain and no flying. ‘A’ Flight pilots went to the Station Intelligence to study the Hunt Range and a/c identification. West Hartlepool aerodrome was unserviceable so two sections stood readiness at Catterick. F/L O’Leary went away on 7 days leave.
Saturday, 18 July, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus with some rain that cleared towards late afternoon. Two sections were at readiness for the day. The CO was back from the conference in London. Station Defence gave a demonstration to all personnel during the afternoon showing patrol procedures, sentry duty, unarmed combat, tank and Mills grenade throwing and camouflage; all very instructive and interesting. The troops were well drilled and smartly lead by a very efficient F/S and F/O Gaff. P/O C.M. Magwood was released from the hospital and given 9 days sick leave. Mess dance tonight.
Sunday, 19 July, 1942
Weather, 5/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet. The Squadron had two sections on readiness. S/L Stan Douglas visited the Squadron en route to his Station at Pocklington. The Squadron wrote a letter, recommending that Cpl Betty be given the rank of Sgt and that LAC G. McCabe (Wireless Section) be promoted to Cpl. Instructions to the Armament Section were received, directing that all loose 303 ammo be returned; none in this category on hand here. P/O K.P. Marshall came back from 7 days liaison duties with the Fleet Air Arm. P/O Wozniak returned from leave, he received a nice write up in the Canadian papers regarding his combat on June 2nd, 1942, which pleased his family very much.
Monday, 20 July, 1942
The weather was unsettled with occasional showers which cleared towards the late afternoon. The Squadron did practice flying, dog fighting and aerobatics. F/L LS Ford reported for duty to take over ‘B’ Flight. The CO interviewed LAC G.E. Fountain, recommending him for aircrew. F/S R. Taylor (Discip) and LAC McCabe reported to the Station Intelligence Officer, F/L Ellison for an interview with the object of obtaining a commission as Intelligence Officers. The findings of the board into the a/c prang of F/S C.F. Page of 14 July, 1942 determined that the accident was the result of gross negligence resulting in Page being grounded and his log book so endorsed. The Squadron wrote to DAS RCAF HQ regarding LAC C.B. Cole who is to be repatriated to Canada on account of his wife’s illness.
Tuesday, 21 July, 1942
Weather, very warm and clear, closing in later in the day. The Squadron did formation flying, aerobatics and dog fighting. P/O R. Wozniak arrived back from leave. F/O H.F. Francis was released from the hospital and sent on leave to recuperate. F/S George Aitken was presented with a mascot in the form of a stuffed elephant, named Dumbo, by a very charming ENSA player, Miss Dawn Drummond, upon the condition that Dumbo be given his wings. George took it aloft and the elephant now has wings on his chest and CANADA sewn on his rear end. The Airmen’s Mess held a meeting today, with representatives from our Squadron becoming upset when they offered criticism as they were told that the purpose of the meeting was not to listen to complaint. Necessary action will be taken with Station HQ to see what improvements can be made.
Wednesday, 22 July, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet. F/S F.G. Turner and Sgt J.A. Dow arrived from 61 OTU and were assigned to ‘B’ Flight. F/L BR Walker left for 55 OTU. F/O H.F. Francis went away on leave. A letter from A/M Edwards arrived which read as follows:
I would like to thank you for all that you did for me and my party during our visit to your Squadron. I was very much impressed with what I saw and I wish to offer my warmest congratulations on the keenness and efficiency of your personnel, who seem to be in the very highest spirits and this reflects no little upon yourself as their leader. You will appreciate that it is difficult for me to get down to see you as often as I would like but I do hope that time will permit me to visit your Squadron more often in the future than I have been able to in the past.”
Two Sections were scrambled from West Hartlepool at 2359 hours to intercept bandits. 8/10ths cumulus were at 3,500 feet and no contact was made with the e/a.
Thursday, 23 July, 1942
Weather, unsettled and it threatened to storm the whole day. ‘A’ Flight was scheduled to do night flying last night at Scorton but the weather did not permit it to happen. The pilots were given a briefing on night flying procedures by W/C H. Ecles in a very clear and concise lecture. F/S T.S. MacKay was posted to 401 Squadron. F/O H.F. Francis was recalled from leave as the CO is to leave tomorrow for 7 days leave. F/L PT O’Leary returned from leave today. P/O L.A. Walker handled the flight while he was away. Word was received that F/O H.F. Francis will not return until Sunday; in the meantime, our EO, F/O H.S. Warner will carry on as acting CO. The Airmen’s Mess situation was looked into by the CO and the IO and a report was submitted to the Station Commander. Nothing was seriously wrong except that the Mess appears to be short staffed for the large number that are being fed and this was brought to the attention of the Station HQ. Word was received that P/O Doug Hurst is a prisoner of war so that, out of the six lost on June 2nd, only two are now missing. This news has bucked the boys up to no end and we are all very happy about it.
Friday, 24 July, 1942
Weather, rain with visibility nil. The pilots went to the Station Intelligence for aircraft recognition on the Hunt Range. The foregoing completes the daily diary as far as F/O T.S. MacKay is concerned as I am leaving the Squadron tonight. My stay with the boys of this Squadron has been both interesting and enjoyable and, although I am attached to 401, I will follow with interest the progress of the Squadron and the individual exploits of its excellent fighter pilots. The scrap book contains all the newspaper clippings of their endeavours and to the new IO who takes over, I trust he will insure that all the individual exploits of merit are suitably recognized in the press for reason that this is the one source that we can be assured will gladden the hearts of the folks at home and it is the only channel in which they can follow the outstanding achievements of their sons. It has meant a great deal to this Squadron, to have as its leader, the Ace fighter pilot of New Zealand. His leadership has been an inspiration to all the pilots who, with confidence, would follow him into any combat.
S/L Deere and F/O MacKay had a discussion with the Station Commander and Administrative Officer reference the establishment of Canadian YMCA rest rooms in the hangar. This has been done without a request for space from the Station HQ and naturally they are upset. No blame is attached to S/L AC Deere, as he was not informed.
Saturday, 25 July, 1942
Weather fine with 3/10ths cumulus at 8,000 feet. ‘B’ Flight took off from West Hartlepool on the evening of the previous day. The aerodrome at West Hartlepool was declared unserviceable while they were in the air and so they landed at Thornaby. ‘A’ Flight moved to West Hartlepool at 0945 hours and ‘B’ Flight moved into Catterick. F/O T.S. MacKay departed from our Squadron at 2200 hours last night. His pleasant personality will be missed by all of the members of the Squadron. Our loss is 401’s gain. I, the Engineering Officer, am sort of ‘pinch hitting’ for the ‘cowboys’ of the Squadron.
Sunday, 26 July, 1942
Weather 5/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet. The Squadron did considerable flying; tail chase, cine gun, and formation practice by ‘B’ Flight.
Monday, 27 July, 1942
Weather, cloudy in the morning and intermittently 5/10ths to 8/10ths throughout the afternoon. We had some rain in the morning with poor visibility that cleared later in the day. F/L O’Leary came over from West Hartlepool. F/O H.F. Francis and F/O C.M. Magwood returned from leave. Word was received that W/O D.C. Campbell is a prisoner of war and that he was slightly injured but has since fully recovered. This means that five out of the six pilots who were shot down on June 2nd are prisoners of war: F/O Jack Parr, P/O Doug Hurst, P/O Larry Somers, W/O Don Campbell and Sgt Ronnie Hunt. F/L E.V. Darling DFC is still missing. It is amazing good luck that these boys are all well and alive. The comment of F/L G.A. Black (MO) was ‘all they need is an adjutant and they will have a full Squadron’. P/O L.A. Walker and Sgt H.J. Dowding did a regular morning patrol from West Hartlepool. ‘A’ Flight did considerable practice dog fighting, air firing and cine gun flying in spite of the rough weather. ‘B’ Flight did formation flying and air test at Catterick.
Tuesday, 28 July, 1942
Weather, variable clouds of 3/10ths to 6/10ths. ‘A’ Flight did dawn patrol from West Hartlepool. The Squadron had two scrambles during the day. Considerable flying was done, aerobatics and formation. ‘B’ Flight had three sections of two a/c making dummy attacks on four Halifax bombers for about an hour and GCI exercises were flown at 1,500 feet. P/O Magwood left for Harewood Manor on 10 days convalescent leave. F/O John Rainville, previously of 403 Squadron and now with 55 OTU, visited the Squadron. F/L BR WALKER DFC, who left the Squadron on July 22nd, is his Flight Commander. A wire was received from RCAF Headquarters ordering Cpl H Quick and LAC Cole to report to NO 1 PDC for repatriation to Canada.
Wednesday, 29 July, 1942
Weather, cloudy with showers. Practice flying was done during the day. At 0600 hours, Yellow Section consisting of P/O K.P. Marshall and Sgt C.F. Sorensen, took off from West Hartlepool to look for a dinghy. They flew, on the instruction of the controller for approximately 5 minutes on a 010-degree bearing when the controller informed them that the dinghy should be about 5 miles in front. Just then, Yellow leader sighted an oil patch on the water about 30 degrees to the starboard and about 3 miles in front. When they got closer to the oil slick, they saw a blob on the water, which upon investigation, proved to be a dinghy with 4 or 5 men. Yellow Section gave a fix to Ops. A Defiant came out and called for a launch, which he then led to the dinghy and watched as the men were picked up. A Defiant section from Euston had previously failed to locate the Dinghy that was about ten miles from shore. The Squadron Adjutant is interviewing every airmen (ground crew), checking 1580’s, next-of-kin, group and reclassification. All men are being told to arrange for an interview with the Education Officer with a view to improving their rank and trade. Preparations are being made to move one section to Scorton aerodrome to do some night flying.
Thursday, 30 July, 1942
Weather, fair to cloudy with industrial haze in some sectors. One section of four, F/L LS Ford, P/O K.P. Gardiner, F/Sgt D.L. Rawson and Sgt M. Johnston flew to Scorton aerodrome for night flying. They got in thre hours each. During the day, the Squadron did considerable practice flying. ‘A’ Flight had one scramble. The Squadron is practising hard for the Station Sports Meet to be held on August 3rd. There are over 60 entries for this meet and it is hoped to uncover sufficient material to make a good showing in the RCAF Meet to be held on August 15th, 1942. Word just came through that the Adjutant, F/O H.F. Francis has been posted to 405 Squadron (Bombers) wef August 10th, 1942. F/O SE Bringloe is to come to 403 Squadron as Adjutant.
Friday, 31 July, 1942
Weather, ground haze, visibility 1 mile and flying was curtailed with the exception of some air to air firing and aircraft tests.
Personnel & Flying Time for July, 1942
RCAF RAF Polish
Officers – flying 7 1 2 No. of A/C on strength – 20 Spitfires VB
Officers – ground 3 – – – 1 Magister
Airmen – flying 18 – – Operational Flying time
Airmen – ground 105 38 –
Total 133 39 2 6 Convoy Patrols: 20:40
Total Operational: 74:25
Total Non-Operational: 520:45
Non-Operational (night): 12:50
Casualties for the month: Magister: 33:45
One (P/O Hoben C.F.J. killed Total 641:45
in flying accident)
Saturday, 1 August, 1942
Weather, 4/10ths cloud with a heavy ground haze until 1400 hours when it lifted a little. Flying was practically at a standstill until the afternoon.
Pilot Officer J.E. Gardiner has been put on charge for low flying. He was returning from an air-to-air firing and cine gun practice with F/S Turner on July 27th and was seen flying at a low altitude. He was not aware that he was doing anything wrong. His action was the normal flying done down South from where we have just come. He was not doing a beat-up, simply looking the land over, as is customary practice now, to familiarize himself with the ground appearance from low altitude. P/O Gardiner is definitely the steadiest young pilot in the Squadron. He does not drink, is exceptionally keen about flying, is very conscientious and is acting No. 2 in the Flight.
At 1925 hours, F/S D.L. Rawson, in attempting to make a steep landing, struck the ground very hard and damaged his port oleo leg, making it impossible to lock the left undercart in the down position. Realizing that he had damaged his oleo, he asked for and received permission to land at Scorton aerodrome so that he could make a long flat approach. He made a good one-wheel landing but damaged the port wing tip and flap. Aircraft is a Category ‘A’ damage.
Sunday, 2 August, 1942
Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud with haze and poor visibility. Flying practically nil. Very little wind. Sgt T.H. Skebo, Can 4190A, is leaving the Squadron to take a course as a Flight Engineer. He is an excellent NCO, a good tradesman and an above average type. He is keen to go on this course to qualify for flying duties. Sgt A. Thomas R.100332 has been detached for two weeks to attend 13 Group refresher course on Navigation, to be held at No. 2 School of Air Navigation Cranage. F/L Jephson of 406 Squadron is holding a Summary of Evidence on the charge of low flying against P/O J.E. Gardiner.
Monday, 3 August, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cloud, visibility bad all day and flying washed out until 1700 hours. A scramble was called at 1930 hours as a Dornier 217 was reported in the vicinity, but nothing was sighted. The poor visibility made contact with the e/a a matter of chance, as he stuck to the heavy cloud formation. Bombs were dropped on Middlesborough. S/L AC Deere, DFC and Bar, arrived back from leave in the evening after a week in the South of England looking tanned and fit. He reported warm weather throughout his leave. F/O H.F. Francis, the Adjutant, left today to take up duties at 405 Squadron, with his successor, Flying Officer SE Bringloe, having reported for the previous evening. The Sergeant’s mess at Hartlepool held a well attended party in the evening. All present reported a high time, particularly Sgt Johnston. Sports Day was postponed until August 8th, due to the inclement weather.
Tuesday, 4 August, 1942
Weather, clearing slightly with about 8/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet and visibility of 3 to 10 miles. Formation practice and tail chase was done by ‘B’ Flight as well as Halifax co-operation in the afternoon. Uneventful day for ‘A’ Flight at West Hartlepool. A party was arranged for the performers of an ENSA show at the Officer’s Mess at the conclusion of the entertainment but they could not attend. Undaunted, the Mess members carried on and several new liquid tenors were discovered.
Wednesday, 5 August, 1942
Weather 6/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet, clearing slightly in the evening with visibility of 15 to 20 miles. A quiet day for ‘A’ Flight with one uneventful scramble. Flight formation, cine gun, high altitude flight by one section at 30,000 feet and general flying was carried out by ‘B’ Flight. Dog fights were also flown between Mustangs and Spitfires, the former showing surprising manoeuvrability and had the Spit cold turkey several times. F/L LS Ford tried out a Mustang during the afternoon and was much impressed. Spitfire EN797 was slightly damaged today in an unusual occurrence. The mainplane buckled slightly when Sgt H.J. Dowding pulled out of a dive at 360 mph. The a/c is being flown to the repair unit for inspection.
Thursday, 6 August, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet with some ground haze and visibility up to 20 miles. The Squadron did some formation at 1015 hours, rendezvousing at West Hartlepool where the CO remained for lunch. It was a normal day for ‘B’ Flight, with cine gun, aerobatics and general flying. Two sections went on Ground Control Interception in the afternoon. ‘A’ Flight had one scramble from West Hartlepool in the morning but no activity came out if it. ‘A’ Flight will return to Catterick on August 9th, 1942. The latest ‘Wings Abroad’, dated August 5th carries the awarding of the DFC to Sergeant Pilot Beurling of Verdun, Quebec, who destroyed four Axis fighter aircraft and damaged several others on July 27th, giving him a total of 12 a/c destroyed. Sergeant Beurling spent seven months with 403 Squadron, serving under F/L ‘Brad’ Walker DFC.
Friday, 7 August, 1942
Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet. The Squadron formation practice at 1400 hours was called off due to heavy cloud formation and unfavourable weather at West Hartlepool. No flying was done by ‘A’ Flight all day. ‘B’ Flight carried out cine gun, aerobatics and formation in the morning. Flying Officer J. Wiejski returned from leave today.
Saturday, 8 August, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus with intermittent rain all day. Flying was suspended and the Sports Parade is washed out until tomorrow at 1400 hours.
Sunday, 9 August, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths cloud with a wind of 15 to 20 mph from the NW. The Squadron did a formation practice at 1015 hours. Rendezvous was made at West Hartlepool. ‘A’ Flight postponed their return to Catterick until tomorrow, so they would not interfere with Sports Parade today. The Meet finally got underway at 1400 hours after two postponements due to the bad weather. 403 Squadron made a creditable showing as indicated by the following: Cycle Race 1st place AC1 Last; Shot Put 1st place Sgt P. Lassardo, and 3rd place LAC Kerwin; Discus 2nd place LAC Kerwin; 220 yards 2nd place AC2 Worn; 1 mile relay 2nd place 403 Squadron; 440 relay 2nd place 403 Squadron; Javelin 3rd place Sgt Lassardo; and 100 yards 3rd place P/O J.E. Gardiner. It was an enjoyable afternoon with the weather turning quite warm and sunny. A number of wives and friends of those involved attended.
Monday, 10 July, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus with intermittent rain all day. The return of ‘A’ Flight was postponed until 1600 hours due to the weather conditions at Catterick. P/O J.E. Gardiner will be ‘B’ Flight Commander during the stay at West Hartlepool in the absence of F/L LS Ford who left today to attend the CTC course at Dundonald. No flying activity was done by either flight today.
Tuesday, 11 July, 1942
Weather 6/10ths cloud with the wind at 10 to 15 mph from the NW. At 1200 hours, a scramble was done by Blue Section, P/O Gardiner and F/O Wiejski, over the base and returning in 20 minutes without contact being made. General flying was done by ‘A’ Flight – aerobatics, cine gun, tail chase and formation. Good news for the Squadron, for today commissions were granted to six NCO pilots: F/S G.D. Aitken, F/S H.S. Anderson, Sgt H.J. Murphy, F/S C.R. Olmsted, Sgt M. Johnston and Sgt Monchier, all effective 20 June, 1942. This action will strengthen the Squadron immeasurably and prove a real factor in building up morale. Word was received that the AOC of the Group has recommended that court-martial action be taken against P/O J.E. Gardiner after a review of the Summary of Evidence.
Wednesday, 12 July, 1942
Weather, 5/10ths to 8/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet, clearing towards the evening. A scramble was done at 0620 hours by ‘B’ Flight at West Hartlepool by Blue Section, P/O Gardiner and F/O J. Wiejski. They were airborne for 15 minutes and saw no action. The Squadron did a formation practice at 1450 hours, rendezvousing at West Hartlepool. Convoy duty by Sgt Fletcher and Sgt A.L. Haynes was done at 1555 hours, lasting one hour and 10 minutes and being uneventful. At 1605 hours P/O Olmsted and Sgt Dow were scrambled above the base. About 5 miles from Whitby, P/O Olmsted sighted what appeared to be a Dornier 217 at 1,000 yards. He could not close the gap and it disappeared into heavy cloud at 2,000 feet. With the weather getting sticky, they finally returned to base after being airborne for 50 minutes. P/O Magwood returned from sick leave today, reporting to West Hartlepool immediately.
Thursday, 13 July, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus at 3,000 feet. It was overcast and threatening most of the day. One scramble was done by ‘B’ Flight at West Hartlepool, who intercepted a friendly aircraft. Local formation flying was done in the afternoon. General flying practice was done by ‘A’ Flight in the morning. Word was received today that S/L AC Deere DFC and Bar has been posted to staff duties at Group Headquarters and will leave the Squadron on August 16th, 1942. It is bad news for the Squadron as his ability and leadership have been an inspiration since he joined the Unit. F/L LS Ford DFC will assume command. He is known to the Squadron and will have the respect and confidence of all.
Friday, 14 August, 1942
Weather, fine with 5/10ths to 8/10ths light cloud at 4,000 to 6,000 feet and closing in during the late afternoon. No flying activity was done by either flight during the day. ‘B’ Flight returned to Catterick at 1600 hours.
Saturday, 15 August, 1942
Weather started out fine but closed in during the early morning with low cloud, very poor visibility and intermittent rain. There was no flying today, instead, modifications were carried out on the a/c. The advance ground party left for Manston today.
Sunday, 16 August, 1942
The Squadron took off at 0845 hours for Manston, landing at North Weald owing to bad weather and arriving at Manston at 1400 hours. The second ground party left by train, owing to bad weather at Catterick. The weather was fine at Manston but two a/c overshot on landing (AA736 and AA979). P/O H.S. Anderson broke a shoulder blade and was taken to hospital while P/O M. Johnston was uninjured.
Monday, 17 August, 1942
The second ground party arrived at Manston at 0900 hours. The weather today was very fine with no cloud and only a slight haze on the seaboard. The Squadron took off at 1245 hours, S/L Ford DFC leading, and took part in a Wing Circus in the direction of St. Omer. No opposition was encountered and no matters of interest to report. The Squadron landed safely at 1341 hours. The Squadron was briefed with the Wing for a circus in the direction of Dunkirk at 1545 hours and took off at 1635 hours. Nothing was seen or reported during the operation and the Squadron landed safely at 1805 hours. S/L Ford led the Squadron on both operations.
Tuesday, 18 August, 1942
Weather, fine with good visibility. From 0620 hours, sections began patrolling the convoys in the Channel and the Thames Estuary until 1300 hours. The Squadron, under S/L Ford, took off from Manston at 1600 hours in a circus to the shores of Holland. 12 a/c from the Squadron took part and all landed safely at 1720 hours. At 1830 hours all pilots were briefed for the 19th August.
Wednesday, 19 August, 1942
Weather, fine with a little low, some medium and high clouds and visibility starting at 4,600 yards and improving gradually during the day. The Squadron was ordered to a state of preparedness from 0500 hours to carry out combined operations against Dieppe.
The first sortie was made at 0645 hours; the whole Squadron took off under the command of Squadron Leader Ford. It reached Dieppe at 0715 hours and served as close cover for the ships carrying out the operation. F/L G.V. Hill and his number 2, Sgt M.K. Fletcher attacked a FW 190. The e/a fell to pieces and went into a dive in flames. P/O H.J Murphy successfully attacked a ME 109 and gave it three long bursts, going down to deck level after it. The e/a turned on its back and, when he last saw it, it was a few feet from the ground and was out of control. The combat took place in the valley South East of Dieppe and he could not observe the final result, as he had to take evasive action to avoid hitting the hills. The Squadron landed at 0820 hours. Three a/c of the Squadron failed to return: AR334, EN850 and AR439 flown by P/O N. Monchier, P/O L.A. Walker and P/O J.E. Gardiner. Enemy casualties: 1 ME 109 and 1 FW 190 destroyed.
The second sortie was made at 1115 hours, the whole Squadron again taking off from Manston under the command of S/L Ford DFC. The Squadron went to Dieppe and covered the ships withdrawal. Heavy smoke, rising over 3,000 feet was seen over Dieppe and some fierce fires were burning. The Squadron again patrolled at 2,500 to 3,000 feet and, after 30 minutes, noticed a number of e/a approaching and several engagements took place. S/L Ford opened fire on a FW 190 at close range, the e/a falling to pieces, parts of which hit S/L Ford’s number 2, P/O R. Wozniak but caused no damage. The e/a burst into flames and went down. This took place on the Dieppe waterfront. F/L PT O’Leary opened fire at 150 yards on a FW 190; black smoke poured out and it went down, disappearing in the clouds. He tried to follow it through the cloud and came against another FW 190 to which he gave a burst at 250 yards. Smoke poured out and the e/a, apparently out of control, went down rapidly, swaying violently. He took a film that may support his claim of this e/a being destroyed. His first engagement is confirmed by his number 2, P/O J. Mozolowski, who witnessed the smoke pouring out. Sgt A.L. Haynes opened fire on a rapidly diving e/a but no claim was made. All 12 a/c landed safely at 1315 hours. Our losses were nil and the enemy losses were 2 FW 190 destroyed and 2 FW 190s damaged.
The third sortie was made at 1620 hours under S/L Ford. The Squadron went to the French Coast and reported that most of our ships were safely more than half way home. Several of the pilots had combats and three of them were successful. S/L Ford shot at a FW 190 that caught fire and crashed into the sea. The pilot was seen to get into his dinghy. Sgt M.K. Fletcher gave several bursts to a FW 190 and smoke poured out before the e/a disappeared into the clouds. Sgt Cabas fired his cannon but makes no claim. All 12 a/c of the Squadron landed safely at Manston at 1820 hours. Our losses nil. Enemy losses two FW 190s destroyed, one FW 190 damaged.
The fourth sortie took place from 1925 hours to 2030 hours, with the whole Squadron taking off under the command of S/L Ford and returning safely. No e/a were encountered and nothing of interest was reported.
The Squadron behaved in a most excellent manner and deserves every congratulation. All ranks behaved splendidly and the ground staff co-operated in a most hearty way. At 1630 hours, a signal was received from the AOC, asking all ranks to make a further effort as we were in view of a great air victory.
Thursday, 20 August, 1942
A signal was received from the AOC congratulating all of the Squadrons concerned on the fine results of yesterday’s air battles.
The weather today was fine with no low cloud and only small amounts of high cloud during the morning. The Squadron received orders to return to Catterick and the rail party, consisting of 66 of the ground crew, with F/O A.H. Warner (EO) and P/O J.H. Long (IO), left at 1300 hours, reaching Catterick at 2359 hours. The road party, with F/L G.A. Black (MO) in charge, left during the evening, staying at North Weald for the night. The pilots left by air at 1330 hours and arrived at Catterick by 1600 hours.
Friday, 21 August, 1942
The Squadron was released from operations at 1000 hours today until 1000 hours tomorrow. At 1600 hours, the road party arrived from North Weald, which they left at 0700 hours. A very enjoyable dance was held in the Sergeant’s Mess to which all officers were invited. P/O R. Wozniak left for 7 days leave.
Saturday, 22 August, 1942
‘B’ Flight moved on to West Hartlepool during the morning and ‘A’ Flight took readiness at Catterick. Sgt C.F. Sorensen took off at 1430 hours to do aerobatics at 2,000 feet near Leeming. At about 1500 hours, his engine failed and he was compelled to make a forced landing on the edge of Leeming aerodrome. His aircraft was completely written off but fortunately, he escaped uninjured. There was no operational flying today. Sector reccos, aerobatics and formation flying were carried out.
Sunday, 23 August, 1942
Weather very low 10/10ths cloud and very poor visibility. The only thing that took place was a weather test by F/L O’Leary and P/O K.P. Marshall. F/S F.C. Turner returned by road from West Hartlepool on being posted from the Squadron.
Monday, 24 August, 1942
Weather low cloud of 10/10ths at 300 to 400 feet at first with a slight improvement during the afternoon and evening. Red and Yellow Sections were on readiness here at Catterick as the weather at West Hartlepool closed in during the evening. P/O H.J. Murphy and P/O M. Johnston left early in the morning on their way down South to join 402 Squadron. Though sorry to leave 403, they are nonetheless pleased to be going to 11 Group with its promise of greater activity. They will be very much missed in the Squadron, both being experienced pilots.
Tuesday, 25 August, 1942
Weather rain and low 10/10ths cloud all day. No flying. The pilots attended a film show ‘Next-of-Kin’ in the Station Cinema during the afternoon.
Wednesday, 26 August, 1942
Weather, rain and low cloud during the morning and the afternoon saw some improvement before it closed in again in the early evening, this time with heavy rain. Apart from a weather test in the morning there was no flying until the early evening when some local formation flying and a cannon test was done. The pilots attended a film show on Combined Operations in the Station Intelligence Office during the afternoon. F/O R.J.O. Doehler, the new Engineering Officer, arrived on being posted to the Squadron.
Thursday, 27 August, 1942
Intermittent rain all day and the cumulus cloud that was almost on the ground. Flying was suspended for both Flights. Nothing of interest to report.
Friday, 28 August, 1942
Weather clearing and very hot with a ground haze to 500 feet most of the day. West Hartlepool flying was washed out due to poor visibility. At 1445 hours, a section, under S/L Ford, left for Topcliffe to carry out co-operation with the Halifaxes at 8,000 feet, returning to base at 1530 hours. The Sergeant’s were entertained at the Officer’s mess in the evening. It was well attended with a number of 403 Squadron NCOs coming form Hartlepool.
Saturday, 29 August, 1942
Weather was again closed in, with 10/10ths cloud all day and no flying. Plans for a Squadron dance were drawn up with a tentative date set for Sept 18th. 403 has been assigned a part in the Station Defence Plan, being required to man four machine gun posts. The schedule of the gun crews for each post was formulated and a practice will be held shortly. Morning PT of one half hour daily will start next week for all ground crew as part of the Squadron policy to keep personnel in fighting trim and good health during the winter months.
Sunday, 30 August, 1942
Weather still unfit for flying, 10/10ths cloud with a heavy mist and rain. No activity of any kind to report.
Monday, 31 August, 1942
Weather was improving with 10/10ths cumulus cloud at 1,000 feet in the morning, which cleared somewhat in the afternoon. One section of ‘A’ Flight got airborne at 1500 hours for 30 minutes. No flying activity was done by ‘B’ Flight at West Hartlepool. S/L Ford left for three days of leave in Edinburgh where he will act as the best man at the wedding of F/L NR Dick, a former member of 403 Squadron.
Summary Aircrew Establishment
Fighter Sweeps: 20:20 RCAF RAF
Convoy Patrols: 27:20 Officers 9 2
Scrambles: (39) 39:25 Airmen 17 –
Total Operational 187:05
Magister 41:05 Ground Crew Establishment
Total Non-Ops 347:15 Officers 4 1
Total 575:25 Airmen 101 39
Total 121 42
Our Casualties for the Month:
Three (P/O L.A. Walker, P/O J.E. Gardiner
and P/O N. Monchier)
Enemy Casualties: 5 FW 190 destroyed; 1 ME 109 Destroyed
and 3 FW 190 damaged (awaiting confirmation)
[attached to the Operation Records Book is the following correspondence]
ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
20, Lincoln’s Inn Fields,
25th March, 1946
Department of National Defence for Air,
ATTENTION: AIR HISTORIAN
CAN J.8140 P/O J.E. Gardiner
1. Attached hereto is a copy of correspondence concerning the above referenced officer who was missing from 403 Squadron 19 August, 1942.
2. As this correspondence throws some light on P/O Gardiner’s death, it is suggested that it be attached to No. 403 Squadron’s ‘Operations Record book’ for August, 1942, and a notation made in the record book referring to it.
3. The results of any further investigations will be forwarded to you for similar action.
(signed) W.R. Thompson,
(W.R. Thompson) W/C,
for A.O.C. -in-C.
ENC. 1 RCAF Overseas Headquarters.
ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
Ottawa, Canada, 11th March, 1946
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief,
20 Lincoln’s Inn Fields,
London, W.C.2, England.
Pilot Officer John Edwin GARDINER (CAN J.-8140)
1. This officer, while flying a Spitfire over the French coast was missing August 19th, 1942, 403 Squadron.
2. Father and next-of-kin, Honourable James G. Gardiner, Minister of Agriculture, recently was in the U.K. and visited his son’s grave which is located in the Churchyard of St Aubin le Cauf. This is located approximately 7 miles south east of Dieppe.
3. Since Mr. Gardiner’s return from the U.K. he has written the attached, which you will note he has headed as “the circumstances under which J. Edwin Gardiner and Norman Monchier lost their lives at the battle of Dieppe.”
4. Mr. Gardiner has also written to the Minister as follows:
“It has occurred to me that the official story of this incident can be had if some official of your organization over there were to go out and check everything which is available. Th persons who know most about it are the young fellow, M. Dunet Andre, of St. Nicholas d’Aliermont, who was on the scene within half an hour and who witnessed the scene from a distance and who said that all three planes were shot down; and Mr. Maurice Lasseau, who operates the farm over which the battle took place.”
Further in Mr. Gardiner’s letter to the Minister he states:
“I would like the story which I have been able to piece together to be placed on the records until such time as an official investigation can, if possible, be made and the story told. It would appear that the two of them are entitled to credit for one German plane, and that the Squadron is entitled to one added to the record which they have. This, in itself, is not of great importance, but it is, I think, important that wherever the record of what happened can be obtained, it ought to be obtained with regard to all those who lost their lives in battle.”
5. It is, therefore, directed by the Minister that you be asked to have
(a) the Missing Research and Enquiry Service, and
(b) Group Captain D.M. Edwards, Air Attaché at Paris, cover the ground that Mr. Gardiner covered and obtain a verification of the story.
6. May these headquarters be advised, please that this has been undertaken.
(Signed) W.B. Gunn W/C
for (H.L. Campbell)
Air Vice Marshall
Air Member for Personnel,
for Chief of the Air Staff.
The circumstances under which J. Edwin Gardiner and Norman Monchier lost their lives at the battle of Dieppe.
These two left England as members of Spitfire Squadron 403 in the first flight of fighters on the morning of August 19th, 1942. Pilot Officer Olmsted, after he returned to Britain following Dieppe, reported that he walked out to his plane along with Edwin, and that they flew in the same formation to Dieppe. He stated that when they arrived, they were ordered to break up into groups of two, to give greater freedom of movement in battle.
Edwin and Norman Monchier were paired together. Olmsted reported that ten minutes before he left for England he heard a short conversation between them on their instruments. Edwin said to Monchier, “Do you see anything Norm?” Monchier replied, “No, there is nothing around here.” They were, therefore, apparently separated from one another at that time and in search of something, possibly a gun placement.
They were both reported ‘Missing’ that day, and no further trace was known of them until some time after V-E day, although the Red Cross reported that German sources stated that they had lost their lives on August 19th, 1942.
Enquiries immediately following V-E Day were answered to the effect that the Germans claimed they had lost the records and it was not known where they were buried.
On August 15th, 1945, Honourable Colin Gibson, Minister of Defence for Air, wrote to say that word had been received that Edwin was buried in the Church cemetery at St Aubin le Cauf, about seven miles south-east of Dieppe. No further word was received until I visited France, January 6th, 1946.
On Tuesday, January 8th, 1946, Florence and I were driven from Paris to St. Aubin le Cauf by Group Captain D.M. Edwards of the RCAF. We met the Mayor of St. Aubin le Cauf, M. Manoury, and a committee who had charge of the burial of three airmen killed in the battle over Dieppe and the surrounding area on August 19th, 1942. Two of these were buried side by side in the angle of the little Catholic Church, in what was a particularly well kept cemetery. The third one who had not been identified was buried near them. Two were identified from their tags as J.E. Gardiner and N. Monchier. Crosses bearing their names were at the head of their graves, a white fence had been constructed around them, and the graves were beautifully decorated and well cared for.
The local people told us, through an interpreter that their bodies had been found near their planes, that the Germans had prevented them from removing them for three days during which time all bodies in the district had been searched by the German troops and all valuables and papers were removed. At the end of three days their bodies had been brought to the village and buried.
Owing to the fact that the Mayor of Dieppe, M. Pierre Biez, had been exceedingly kind in arranging everything in a convenient manner for us, we found it impossible to refuse his suggestion that we have lunch with him and Madame Biez at two o’clock. This made it impossible for us to remain in the district long enough to secure full information, particularly since we had to communicate through an interpreter. We did, however, satisfy ourselves that no mistake of identity had been made, and that these two boys upon whom I pinned Wings at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, on October 7th, 1941, had died together in battle over Dieppe on August 19th, 1942.
Pictures appeared in the press of the Mayor of Dieppe and I. A young man named Dunet Andre, of St. Nicholas d’Aliermont saw the pictures. He wrote to Group Captain Edwards to say that he had found Edwin Gardiner’s identity card at the scene of the crash and would like to turn it over to me. I was back in Paris on January 30th, and again drove out to Dieppe and spent the day there.
We called at St. Nicholas d’Aliermont to interview M. Dunet Andre and received the identity card. He was a fine young French chap who was at the scene of the crash half an hour after and five minutes before the Germans. He secured the identity card before they arrived and hid it. Later he was taken to a Labour Camp in Germany and did not return until the end of the war. When he saw the picture in the paper he looked up the card and made it available.
The story he told with regard to the incident was that he saw it at a distance. He said the two Canadian planes were flying in an easterly direction over the valley of the Vorenna River, near the place where it enters the Bethune River. A German plane was approaching them from the Southeast up the valley of Bethune. They appeared to sight one another at about the same time just as the Canadian planes came to a field at the edge of the forest, and all three opened fire. He stated that all three were shot down, the two Canadian planes crashed in the field, and the German plane circled and crashed on the east side of the Bethune toward St. Nicholas d’Aliermont.
We asked him to come and show us the spot. He came, and we also took with us M. Marc Letellier, the teacher in St. Aubin le Cauf, who was one of those who buried the two Canadians. We drove up to the hill to the east of St. Aubin le Cauf. About half a mile from the top we came to the edge of the forest. A farmer with a horse and a dump cart was working there.
M. Andre began describing what happened in French, and Group Captain Edwards was interpreting to me. The farmer did not appear to agree. I called him over. He stated that he was near at hand, and his men were harvesting oats in the field on August 19th when the battle in the air occurred, and that he and they saw what happened to the three at close range, and that they examined the two Canadians and their planes immediately following the engagement.
The farmer turned out to be Mr. Maurice Lasseau who was educated in England during the first war, and spoke English. We went to his house for tea, and I had considerable conversation with him.
He stated that the two Canadian planes came over the forest from the river Norenna side and were flying about twenty feet above the treetop. One of the planes, he said seemed to be out of control. He stated that he afterwards found a part of what he called the auger of the steering gear in the trees over which the two planes came. He stated that on the far side of these trees, there were German machine guns, and that they must have succeeded in hitting the disabled plane. He stated that just as they came to the edge of the field, they opened fire on the German plane which was approaching from the Bethune River side of the field, or from the East. The German plane also opened fire. He did not think that the German’s shooting caused what happened. At any rate he thought neither of the Canadian had any wounds from gunfire when examined later. The one plane was out of control and, while the shooting was going on, the two Canadian planes came together. Both planes crashed about the centre of the field. I saw part of the fuselage of Edwin’s plane and brought back a piece of the aluminium with me.
I asked him if he had any idea which plane had been hit from the ground. He stated that it was the plane of Monchier. He stated that the other plane seemed to be under control until the shooting started, after that it was difficult to say what happened. He said that one thing which convinced him that Monchier’s plane had been previously hit was that he had prepared his parachute for a leap which would indicate that he had intended to leave the plane further back over the deep valley but for some reason had not done so. He stated that during the firing, the German circled and returned in the general direction from which he came, and crashed on the east side of the Bethune River toward St. Nicholas about one mile or a mile and a half away. They had apparently hit his plane.
I returned to Paris that evening, and flew to London from Paris the following morning. It was a beautiful clear day. The route from Paris to London lies directly over Dieppe. The pilot kindly circled the scene. I had, therefore, an opportunity to see the whole air battlefield from a height of about one thousand feet.
The Lasseau farm is located on the height of land between the two rivers just above St. Aubin le Cauf, and is completely surrounded by forest. The area which is being farmed would make a small airfield, and is quite level. It appears at considerable distance from the air as the only spot in that area upon which a plane could be landed. All around it there is forest, and in three directions is the valley of the two rivers. The valleys are about three or four hundred feet deep with lakes, streams and trees covering them, and will be a mile or so across. The location is about six miles inland from Dieppe and from the air all of the valley right through to the harbour of Dieppe lies like a picture below. In that area there appears to be one field upon which a plane could be landed. The German airfield, which they no doubt had been strafing, lies about five miles directly west from this spot.
Remembering that Olmsted said that he heard these two talking shortly before he left for England, I would conclude that these two were either searching for a gun position, which others have reported shot down at least one of their friends, and that while strafing it Monchier’s plane was hit, or that they had given up the search and were starting for Britain across the Vorenna Valley when one of the ground guns located in the trees at the top of the Valley had an unlucky hit which damaged Monchier’s steering gear. His first intention was to leap for it while over the Valley, but his time to act would be short until he reached the other side, and in all probability he could not manipulate his plane to do so in any case. They, therefore, were planning, no doubt, that he would land, after which Edwin could proceed when they encountered the German. M. Lasseau says that they came over the treetops toward the field, flying a short distance apart, Monchier’s plane showing signs of being in trouble, and that when the shooting was going on, they came together and crashed as a result of the collision. The holes they ploughed in his field are still visible from the air. One plane travelled about thirty yards farther than the other before it hit the ground, and they both dug in four or five feet according to M. Lasseau.
When they got to the planes, they found each Pilot in the cockpit of his plane. They had been killed instantly. They did not seem to know what in particular had killed Monchier, but Edwin had a gash along the top of his head which at the time I thought was caused when the plane crashed and he was thrown ahead and then dashed back against the metal behind his seat with such force as to crack his skull killing him instantly. On further thought, I am inclined to discount this idea. That would not have laid open his head as described. I am inclined to believe that he was flying near Monchier’s disabled plane to escort him safely to the ground when the German came in possibly from above, and that during the shooting duel which brought down all three, Edwin’s head was cut by a bullet which put him out, and resulted in the two planes side-swiping, and going to the ground together. They stated that he was slumped over his steering wheel. They stated that both planes hit the ground, bounced about fifty feet and then drove into the ground.
Those about took Edwin’s identification card, the number of their planes – Edwin’s was Spitfire AR349 and Monchier’s Spitfire AR334 – and the lettering, Edwin’s was U O and Monchier’s 1 X H – and Monchier’s compass record card. These they gave to me.
The Germans were on the scene in half an hour. They searched the bodies and ordered them to be left where they were until further orders. Three days later, they ordered them to be buried, and the local committee at St. Aubin le Cauf took them down to their little Churchyard, buried them as heroes should be buried, and have cared for their graves in the finest possible manner since. If there is any consolation it is found in the liberation of people with such greatness of heart and appreciation of the sacrifice made.
Tuesday, 1 September, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy, visibility good with a moderate southwesterly wind. No operational flying was done today. Formation practice, tail chase and aerobatics were carried out.
Wednesday, 2 September, 1942
Weather cloudy with slight rain and moderate visibility. Formation flying was carried out. ‘B’ Flight returned to Catterick and ‘A’ Flight went off to West Hartlepool.
Thursday, 3 September, 1942
Weather was cloudy with showers and moderate to good visibility. BBC recording engineers visited Catterick to obtain recordings of Spitfires in flight, for which our aircraft gave them the necessary co-operation during the afternoon.
Friday, 4 September, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with good visibility all day. Practice flying was carried out and there were two scrambles of 2 aircraft each from West Hartlepool. The first took off at 1325 hours and landed at 1430 hours and the second was up at 1340 hours. No enemy aircraft were seen.
Saturday, 5 September, 1942
Weather, 9/10ths cloud at 1,800 feet with considerable amounts at 600 to 800 feet during the morning with intermittent slight rain and mist. The weather generally improved in the early evening, being fine with no low cloud. No operational flying was done today with only practice flying carried out in the evening. P/O JAW Gunn and P/O JT Murchison were posted from 412 Squadron to us wef 5-9-42.
Sunday, 6 September, 1942
Weather, partly cloudy with slight showers and good visibility. At 1138 hours, Blue Section (P/O C.F. Magwood and Sgt C.A. Jackson) scrambled to intercept an approaching hostile raid and ‘A’ Flight from West Hartlepool was also ordered up. No enemy aircraft were seen and the boys, after patrolling at 30,000 feet, returned thoroughly frozen! Word was afterward received that a Typhoon Squadron from Acklington had shot down two JU 88s. Formation practice flying was carried out during the afternoon. S/L AC Deere paid a visit to the Squadron, bringing with him the combat films of the Dieppe show, which were shown to the pilots in the Station Intelligence Office.
Monday, 7 September, 1942
Weather cloudy all day with moderate to heavy rain. Some formation flying was done during the morning. P/O J.T. Murchison and P/O J. Gunn arrived on posting from 412 Squadron and P/O N.R .Fowlow and F/L C. Black both went on leave; the former going to London to replace kit that he lost when he baled out into the sea off of Malta and the later to work on a farm in Kent. W/O R. Taylor went to the Air Ministry to be interviewed for a commission.
Tuesday, 8 September, 1942
Weather cloudy, visibility good with moderate West winds that were, at times gusty. Practice formation flying and dog fighting were carried out by the Squadron.
Wednesday, 9 September, 1942
Weather, just a trace of cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and good visibility. Practice formation flying was done during the morning and, in the afternoon; ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights joined in a practice Squadron formation flight.
Thursday, 10 September, 1942
Weather, fog till 0800 hours and no low cloud. There was good visibility for the remainder of the day. Black Section carried out a practice during the morning in readiness for the tank beat-up that is arranged for tomorrow. Squadron formation was flown in the afternoon. S/L Harris, Liaison Officer to the Battle School, visited to discuss with F/L C.V. Hill the beat-up fixed for tomorrow. P/S HS Anderson returned from the Medical Board at Edinburgh and is off operational flying for three months (until December 8th). P/O J. Hawkins was posted to 412 Squadron on completing 25 hours with 403 Squadron. Sgt C.F. Sorensen left for embarkation leave prior to his posting.
Friday, 11 September, 1942
Weather, partly cloudy all day with a base at 2,500 to 4,000 feet. Black Section, consisting of F/L C.V. Hill, P/O N.R. Fowlow, P/O C. Magwood and P/O H.S. Anderson, took off at 1055 hours to do the beat-up on the tanks belonging to the school of Infantry at Bernard Castle. Machine guns only were used and the attacks were made no lower than 300 feet. F/L Hill reported a successful attack with smoke being seen to come from one tank that collided with another. S/L AC Deere, who had intended to observe this operation from the air, was unfortunately delayed and arrived late with the AOC in a Moth just before lunch. A very enjoyable dance was held in the Officer’s Mess this evening. It was also intended as a farewell to the Station Commander, G/C Ecles, and speeches were made in his honour, including a very short and amusing one from S/L AC Deere. A number of the boys from 410 Squadron at Scorton attended and a good time was had by all until the small hours. F/O J. Wiejski left on two days leave.
Saturday, 12 September, 1942
Weather fair to cloudy with early morning fog. There was no cloud at first then 4/10ths to 10/10ths formed at 1,500 to 3,000 feet and the visibility varied from 600 yards to 4 miles. F/O C.M. Magwood and Sgt A. Thomas flew to Matlack, Norfolk, in the Magister and Sgt Thomas brought the aircraft back by himself in the afternoon. Sgt M.K. Fletcher was up for 55 minutes during the afternoon and this amounted to the total flying that was done today. Several of the pilots of ‘A’ Flight who had come over yesterday for the dance were unable to return to West Hartlepool on account of bad weather between the two aerodromes which was right down to the deck. S/L Deere had to turn back due to the weather conditions and made his return to Group headquarters by train. F/L Don Carlson (Canadian Padre) went on seven days leave.
Sunday, 13 September, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with 6/10ths to 9/10ths at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and very good visibility. Practice flying was carried out which included formation, tail chases, Halifax beat-ups and cine gun practice. P/O H.S. Anderson went off to Wittering for the Blind Approach Course.
Monday, 14 September, 1942
Weather, heavy ground haze all day, which restricted flying to approaches at Scorton by single aircraft. Sgt C.F. Sorensen went to Group Headquarters for a commissioning interview. P/O Olmsted is at the Catterick hospital for the next five days. Sgt Jackson is posted to 402 Squadron on completion of 25 hours with 403.
Tuesday, 15 September, 1942
Weather, clear all day. 18 air firing sorties were carried out by ‘A’ Flight in the morning at West Hartlepool. At 1415 hours, the Squadron did formation practice for one hour over West Hartlepool. ‘B’ Flight had a full day, formation cine gun, and approaches, the latter by S/L Ford and F/L Hill. Sgt J Hawket was confined to Fencote Hall for several days due to a slight injury that he incurred in a bus accident.
Wednesday, 16 September, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths and another good flying day. ‘A’ Flight carried out six air firing sorties. One section also did cine gun and dog fights. ‘B’ Flight did 20 sorties in the morning, including formation and cine gun. No operational sorties were made by either flight.
Thursday, 17 September, 1942
Weather clear and warm with 4/10ths cloud. Air firing was carried out at West Hartlepool. No scrambles were ordered and 26 sorties were flown for 25:20 hours from Catterick including cine gun, approaches and dog fighting. Sgt C.F. Sorensen was granted his commission and was advised by telephone to go to London in time to acquire his new uniform etc before leaving for Overseas. F/O C.M. Magwood left for Sutton Bridge for a one-month course in Gunnery Leader instruction. The good news was received that S/L L.S. Ford has been awarded the Bar to his DFC as a result of the fine leadership he showed at Dieppe. F/L O’Leary entered the Catterick military hospital today for observation.
Friday, 18 September, 1942
Weather, clear in the morning, changing to 5/10ths cloud by night. General flying was done by both flights. An Army beat-up by one section of ‘A’ Flight went off at 1300 hours near Bernard Castle. The section consisted of P/O K.F. Marshal and P/O R. Wozniak. At 1500 hours, four attacks were made on Halifaxes above Topcliffe by pre-arrangement. Lord Trenchard, Marshall of the Royal Air Force visited Catterick today, stayed for lunch and gave an interesting talk to the pilots and NCOs in the lecture Room at 1400 hours. His enthusiasm over the Royal Air Force and his confidence in attaining the ultimate victory were reflected in his remarks. The Squadron dance was held at the cinema at 2000 hours. Around 400 attended. It was the first Squadron dance ever held at Catterick and it was an unqualified success.
Saturday, 19 September, 1942
Weather 4/10ths to 8/10ths cloud around 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Air firing was done most of the day at West Hartlepool, interrupted only by the Squadron Formation practice held from 1415 to 1455 hours. ‘A’ Flight carried out aerobatics, local flying formation breaks and attacks.
Sunday, 20 September, 1942
Cumulus cloud was on the ground all day with intermittent rain and fog. All flying and other activity was suspended for the day and the Army exercise at Northallerton was cancelled.
Monday, 21 September, 1942
A full day of flying was done by both flights with the weather clearing during the day. General flying included air firing at West Hartlepool, cine gun, dog fights section attacks and approaches which were carried out by ‘A’ Flight at Scorton.
Tuesday, 22 September, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 10/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet. 20 air firing sorties were carried out by ‘B’ Flight. ‘A’ Flight did some formation, cine gun and local flying as well as a flight in affiliation with two Wellingtons from Dishforth at 1100 hours. In some obscure manner, one of the Wellingtons collided with a Spitfire piloted by Sgt John Norman at about 3,000 feet near Pickering. The tail section of the Spit was torn off and what appeared to be the gun turret from the Wellington was seen falling away. All five crewmembers of the Wellington and Sgt Norman were killed instantly when both aircraft crashed out of control. All will be buried at Dishforth.
Wednesday, 23 September, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Twenty air firing sorties were flown out of West Hartlepool. Aerobatics, formation and cine gun were flown by ‘A’ Flight with attacks carried out on three Halifaxes at 1200 hours. Sgt Fletcher went to Newcastle today for an interview regarding his possible commissioning.
Thursday, 24 September, 1942
Weather 6/10ths to 10/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet and rain squalls late in the day. It was generally cold and disagreeable today. Routine flying consisted of air firing, drogue towing approaches, formation and aerobatics. Affiliation flying with Halifaxes were done at 1200 hours. At approximately 1100 hours, Sgt Ken Root, who was carrying out flying exercises near Bernard Castle, apparently went into a spin from 5,000 feet and crashed into the side of a cliff at the edge of the river. The aircraft was written off and Sgt Root was instantly killed. It has been an unfortunate week for the Squadron, as both Norman and Root were not only pilots of the type that the service can ill afford to lose, but each had the cheerful and friendly temperament so necessary in keeping the Squadron morale at a high level.
Friday, 25 September, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus clouds all day with very poor visibility and intermittent rain and mist. All flying activities were suspended today. Sgt Norman was buried at Dishforth this morning, together with the five crewmembers of the Wellington who were killed in the same accident. F/L Carlson and a group of pilots from 403 Squadron attended the service.
A court of inquiry has been held to determine, if possible, the cause of the collision. P/O J. Long, Squadron Intelligence Officer, has been taking an Aircraft Recognition Course on the Isle of Man for the past week. On his return to Catterick, he has taken ill and his return will be delayed for about a week.
Saturday, 26 September, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 8/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet in the morning, developing into heavy ground haze and fog by the evening. It was a routine day at West Hartlepool with air firing, aerobatics, cloud flying and no scrambles. There was restricted activity at Catterick with a weather test and some local flying. Sgt Root was buried in Catterick cemetery at 1000 hours. F/L O’Leary was in charge of the parade and 403 Squadron supplied the bearer party. F/L Carlson conducted the service.
Sunday, 27 September, 1942
An excellent flying day as the weather was clear and warm with a slight breeze from the NE. Air firing and local flying was done at West Hartlepool. ‘A’ Flight carried out local flying , aerobatics and approaches. At 1115 and 1230 hours, two sections affiliated with Army and Civilian authorities at North Allerton to do a beat-up of ground forces. Affiliation flying was also conducted with a Halifax between 1530 and 1645 hours.
Monday, 28 September, 1942
Weather, heavy ground haze during the morning, which cleared sufficiently to allow for local flying in the afternoon. Showers started shortly after dark. All of the RAF personnel on strength of the Squadron were trade tested for reclassification.
Tuesday, 29 September, 1942
Weather, quite foggy in the early morning, lifting around 1030 hours with a wind of 5 to 10 mph from the East. It was about 7/10ths overcast during most of the day. ‘A’ Flight moved to West Hartlepool and ‘B’ Flight to Catterick.
Wednesday, 30 September, 1942
Weather, heavy ground haze most of the day with a little cloud at about 4,000 feet. Activity was restricted to local flying in the afternoon only.
Summary for the Month of September 1942
Flying Establishment-Air Crew Ground Crew
RCAF Others RCAF Others
Scrambles 15:00 hours Officers – 13 2 4 1
Total Ops 15:00 hours Airmen – 13 nil 98 35
Magister 20:10 hours
Non-Ops 648:00 hours
Total 684:00 hours
Thursday, 1 October, 1942
Weather strong westerly wind with 6/10ths to 10/10ths cloud. Flying was restricted to a weather test and the return of one section from West Hartlepool. The ground party left Catterick at 1200 hours en route South.
Friday, 2 October, 1942
Weather was hazy in the morning, but cleared about midday. The Squadron, with 18 aircraft, left Catterick at 1300 hours, arriving at Kenley at 1430 hours in clear visibility. The ground crew set off in three Harrows, arriving at Kenley at 1305 hours.
Saturday, 3 October, 1942
Weather was clear overhead but there was a very heavy ground haze that thickened towards noon. Offensive operations were cancelled owing to the weather. The Squadron did manage to make a sector recco in the afternoon.
Sunday, 4 October, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus clouds with heavy fog and drizzle. ‘A’ Flight had one section at readiness, two at 15 minutes and ‘B’ Flight was at 30 minutes available. No flying was done on account of the weather.
Monday, 5 October, 1942
Weather, heavy fog clearing towards late afternoon. ‘B’ Flight was at readiness from 0830 hours to 1300 hours and ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes.
Tuesday, 6 October, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus at 3,000 feet, clearing towards the afternoon. ‘A’ Flight was at readiness from dawn to 0830 hours. In the afternoon, the Squadron did a short formation flight. Red Section were on patrol from 0745 hours to 0915 hours but had nothing to report.
Wednesday, 7 October, 1942
Weather, heavy mist. The Squadron was released off the station at 1100 hours.
Thursday, 8 October, 1942
Weather, rain which cleared in the afternoon. The Squadron did some formation flying and Yellow Section was withdrawn for half an hour to do a patrol.
Friday, 9 October, 1942
Weather, broken cumulus cloud at various heights to 28,000 feet. Visibility very good. The Squadron took off at 0845 hours, S/L Ford leading, as high cover in the third diversionary of Circus 224, joined by 416 and 412 Squadrons at Redhill. S/L Chadburn of 416 lead the Wing. Rendezvous was made at Beachy Head at a height of 26,000 feet. We orbited until 0925 hours when three Fortresses were escorted to about 10 miles from the French Coast where the fighters then carried on. When near Abbeville, Blue 4 had oxygen trouble and went down to 9,500 feet with Blue Section following. The remainder of the Squadron came down to 20,000 feet and followed Blue Section. They found that they were OK so we came back, crossing the Coast East of Le Champ, landing to refuel at Shoreham. Blue Section crossed the Coast at about the same spot and landed at Friston to refuel. Nothing of interest to report – no e/a shipping or flak were seen. All 12 aircraft landed at Kenley at 1135 hours.
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
S/L Ford F/L Hill F/L O’Leary
Sgt Dunbar P/O Fowlow Sgt Dowding
P/O Aitken P/O Olmsted F/O Marshall
Sgt Haynes F/O Wiejski Sgt Lane
‘B’ Flight was at readiness from 1645 hours to dusk and Green Section was on a patrol from 1755 hours to 1855 hours.
Saturday, 10, October, 1942
Weather, broken cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet with good visibility. Part of the ground crew returned to Catterick by airlift, leaving Kenley at 1100 hours. It was a bumpy trip. Seventeen aircraft left Kenley at 1430 hours, arriving at Catterick around 1600 hours. S/L Ford remained behind, confined to Horton Emergency hospital at Epsom for a few days with sinus trouble. F/L O’Leary will carry on his absence.
Sunday, 11 October, 1942
Weather, light cloud at 3,000 feet with a slight ground haze in the morning. Two sections moved to West Hartlepool taking over readiness at 1300 hours. Nineteen ground crew accompanied the pilots. The remaining ground personnel returned by rail and road today from Kenley.
Monday, 12 October, 1942
Weather 5/10ths light cloud in the morning, becoming overcast and developing into rain by the evening. All flying was suspended due to weather with the exception of several local flying sorties in the morning.
Tuesday, 13 October, 1942
Weather, broken cloud with some ground haze. Formation attacks, breaks, cine gun and general flying were carried out. F/L Black returned to Catterick today bringing a Labrador Retriever pup, which he claimed from the King’s Kennels. P/O Darling, formerly of 403 Squadron, and now at Malta, has been awarded the DFC. A card was received from P/O Larry Somers indicating his gradual recovery in a German hospital. He has lost 46 pounds as a result of burns suffered before breaking out of his aircraft.
Wednesday, 14 October, 1942
Weather light cloud at 4,000 to 5,000 feet with excellent visibility. Two sections of three aircraft carried out air firing at West Hartlepool. General flying was done during the remainder of the day. S/L Ford returned to the Station at 2130 hours. He is feeling better and will go back on the operational list tomorrow. While the Squadron was at Kenley, F/O A.H. Warner fell down a flight of stairs in a dark hallway, breaking his wrist and shoulder. He has been confined to Horton Emergency Hospital since the accident. F/O RJ Doehler is now the 403 Squadron Engineering Officer, with effect from now.
Thursday, 15 October, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 10/10ths cloud with a light wind and good visibility. Twelve air firing sorties were carried out at West Hartlepool in the morning and formation flying in the afternoon. Two sections of ‘A’ Flight were replaced at West Hartlepool.
Friday, 16 October, 1942
Weather 2/10ths to 6/10ths cumulus cloud from 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet with some ground haze. Air firing, cine gun, breaks and tail chasing were carried out in the morning; flying was curtailed in the afternoon.
Saturday, 17 October, 1942
Weather 3/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus cloud with a slight ground haze all day. General flying was done by the Squadron, ZZ approaches at Scorton, formation and cine gun.
Sunday, 18 October, 1942
Weather was overcast most of the day with cumulus cloud at around 4,000 feet. Today was a general flying day with formations, tail chase, ZZ approaches, aerobatics, and cloud flying. Three scrambles were flown out of West Hartlepool. No contacts were made.
Monday, 19 October, 1942
Weather was clear with good visibility in the morning and light cloud and ground haze developing late in the day. Seventeen air firing sorties were carried out in the morning at West Hartlepool. The balance of the day was spent on local flying, section breaks and cine gun. P/O JT Murchison, F/S/ DL Rawson, Sgt A. Thomas, and Sgt L. Barnes were posted overseas, effective 21 October 1942.
Tuesday, 20 October, 1942
Weather, light cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet in the morning, becoming heavy overcast with all flying washed out in the afternoon. A Station defence practice was conducted at 1500 hours, with excellent times in manning the guns positions; no. 1 – 4 minutes, no. 2 – 4 min, no. 3 – 6 ½ minutes, and no. 4 – 2 minutes. F/O Warner was contacted by telephone and he reports that he is feeling much better, but will be confined to the Hospital for another five weeks and expects another board in another day or two. There was a Sergeant’s Mess Stag party tonight with all officers invited. Two scrambles were made at West Hartlepool. One sortie of ZZ approaches, formation and cloud flying was carried out at Catterick. Sgt Dowding left for Newcastle to have an interview on 21-10-42 with regards to his commission. Six ground staff were posted to 424 Squadron, and one Canadian to 423 Squadron.
Wednesday, 21 October, 1942
Weather, clear with good visibility, becoming overcast in the late afternoon with a ceiling of 4,000 feet. It was a quiet day with air firing and local flying carried out.
Thursday, 22 October, 1942
Weather overcast all day with a ceiling of 3,000 to 4,000 feet and good visibility. Air firing, local flying and one section did a recco. Quiet day. Sgt Deschamps arrived to build up our strength of pilots.
Friday, 23 October, 1942
Weather overcast all day with a ceiling of 3,000 to 4,000 feet and good visibility. The Squadron did formation with 12 aircraft and five new pilots. Very good. The CO was very pleased with the results. The Squadron is to go on night readiness, weather permissible. Two scrambles were flown from West Hartlepool with no contact made. Air firing sorties were also flown from West Hartlepool. Sgt Dowding has had a successful interview, only to be put into the hospital on his return to Catterick.
Saturday, 24 October, 1942
Weather, broken cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and cold. The Squadron carried out air firing, formation, cine-gun and did a beat-up of anti-aircraft gun positions at West Hartlepool. The Squadron completed 23:10 hours of night flying at Scorton.
Sunday, 25 October, 1942
Weather clear in the morning, developing cumulus cloud at 2,000 to 3,000 feet and rain in the afternoon. One scramble was flown from West Hartlepool but no contact was made with enemy e/a. The sections changed over at West Hartlepool. The Squadron carried out ZZ approaches, aerobatics and dogfights. 3:25 hours of night flying were carried out.
Monday, 26 October, 1942
Weather light cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet with good visibility. Air firing, local flying and formation were flown today as well as 2 uneventful scrambles from West Hartlepool.
Tuesday, 27 October, 1942
We had a heavy frost during the night, which was clear and cold. There was some slight cloud formation in the day that increased steadily and caused the suspension of night flying around midnight. The Squadron did air to air firing, ZZ approaches, local flying and 16:00 hours of night flying at Scorton. S/L Ford was in London today to attend his investiture to receive a Bar to his DFC from His Majesty the King.
Wednesday, 28 October, 1942
Weather, thick fog that slowly rose but left a heavy ground haze that washed out all flying. A lecture was given in the Intelligence Office by F/L Dinsmore at 1500 hours on security and Station Defence. Canada’s Third Victory loan of 750 million dollars was also explained and all personnel were urged to take advantage of this opportunity to advance the war effort. Sergeant A.L. Haynes was transferred today to the United States Army Air Corps.
Thursday, 29 October, 1942
Weather 6/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus cloud at 1,000 to 2,000 feet with some fog and rain. Co-operation with a tank exercise at Bernard Castle was flown today by a section of four aircraft at 1115 hours. The afternoon exercise was washed out due to weather. S/L LS Ford returned to the Station last evening after his investiture. The rapid change in flying personnel continues. P/O J. Mozolowski is posted to a Polish Squadron and two Polish pilots; Sgts. L. Gillis and J. Bednarz are posted to 403 Squadron. These replacements bring aircrew up to strength.
Friday, 30 October, 1942
Visibility 2,200 to 4,000 yards throughout the day, with 6/10ths to 9/10ths cloud at 1,000 feet. Local flying was done by two aircraft, and four aircraft took part in the Army Co-operation exercise. P/O J.H. Long, the IO, returned to the Squadron today. Sgt J.A. Rogowski, a Polish pilot, reported for flying duties today.
Saturday, 31 October, 1942
Weather, visibility 4,000 yards to 6 miles in the morning with showers, deteriorating to 4 miles in the evening. The Squadron did formation and local flying today. An interception exercise by two aircraft was flown on a friendly bomber for Operations in the afternoon. Night flying at Scorton was planned but cancelled later.
PERSONNEL AND FLYING TIMES FOR OCTOBER 1942
RCAF RAF POLISH
No. of Officers – Flying 11 – 1
No. of Officers – Ground 4 1 –
No. of Airmen – Flying 14 – 3
No. of Officers – Ground 92 26 _-
121 27 4
Operational Flying Times: 56:00
Total Non-op time: 531:00
Non-operational night: 40:10
Tiger Moth: 15:20
Grand total for Month 642:30
Casualties for the Month: NIL
No enemy aircraft engaged.
(No entries for the period of 1 November to 10 November 1942 were available as the copy of the log on the micro-fiche is unreadable.)
Wednesday, 11 November, 1942
PO J.H. Long was examined by a specialist today and sent to Catterick Military Hospital for an indefinite period under observation. Louis Kaliciak and Tom Cassidy were promoted to Corporals to fill vacancies. The strength of the Squadron is slowly diminishing; it is now standing at 136 as compared to 154 at the end of August. It seems impossible to secure replacements to fill the establishment.
Thursday, 12 November, 1942
Cloud was on the surface for most of the day with some fog and poor visibility. Flying was cancelled for the day. Under the supervision of our Padre, F/L D. Carlson, a weekly social is held for the Squadron personnel in the YMCA. Programs are varied each week, the personnel enjoying a singsong, followed by a film this evening.
Friday, 13 November, 1942
Weather, visibility 4,000 yards to six miles, cloud 3/10ths to 10/10ths from 1,000 to 3,000 feet. Air to air firing, Squadron formation and dusk landings were carried out today.
Saturday, 14 November, 1942
Light cloud formation of 6/10ths to 8/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet with visibility of 4,000 yards to six miles. Air firing, Squadron formation and Thornaby change over were completed today.
Sunday, 15 November, 1942
Weather was misty in the early morning, clearing and becoming fine for the remainder of the day. Air to air firing, practice formation and tail chase, ZZ approaches and night flying at Scorton were done today.
Monday, 16 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with 7/10ths to 9/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. Air firing, ZZ approaches, low flying, cine gun, formation flying and attacks on Hudson at Thornaby were flown today.
Tuesday, 17 November, 1942
Weather was fair today with 1/10th to 9/10ths from 3,000 feet and visibility between 5 to 7 miles. Local flying, air firing, ZZ approaches, aerobatics and a change over at Thornaby were done today. One scramble occurred, lasting twenty minutes at Thornaby but no contact was made. One section was ordered out to search for a stray balloon, which was not sighted. A heavy session of night flying was done with five aircraft registering at 20:45 hours. A party of hockey players from 403 Squadron journeyed to Durham for the weekly game only to find that the opposition had failed to put in an appearance. A practice session was arranged with another Canadian team. A Squadron Committee meeting was held at 1100 hours. Final details were ironed out for the dance which is to be held on January 8th and members were appointed to arrange the programs. A further discussion regarding a Squadron crest and motto resulted in all of the members voting for the adoption of a Moose along the lines of a sample forwarded by the College of Arms and that the Cree interpretation of the motto ‘Beware of the Moose’ namely ‘Moosa Aswayita’ be incorporated. The crest and the motto are being forwarded to the Chester Herald for immediate registration.
Wednesday, 18 November, 1942
Weather was partly cloudy, with 6/10ths to 9/10ths with a 3,000-foot base and visibility 1,200 yards t 4 miles. Local flying, ZZ approaches and air to air firing were the order for the day.
Thursday, 19 November, 1942
It was cloudy all day with 6/10ths to 9/10ths and a base between 1,900 and 2,500 feet. Visibility was poor, ranging from 200 yards to 4 miles. There was a heavy ground mist for most of the day, and calm winds. A weather test, ZZ approaches and aerobatics were flown today.
Friday, 20 November, 1942
Weather, cloudy all day, 6/10ths to 9/10ths based at 2,000 to 5,500 feet. Visibility was good at 4 to 12 miles. Local formation, ZZ approaches, aerobatics, tail chase and sector recognition were carried out.
Saturday, 21 November, 1942
Weather, 810ths to 9/10ths Cumulus cloud at 3,00 feet and fair visibility all day. Formation, cine gun, aerobatics, night flying at Scorton, sector reconnaissance and low flying were carried out today. Sergeants D.W. Rathwell and A.H Dowar were posted overseas.
Sunday, 22 November, 1942
Weather was fair all day, with visibility of roughly eight miles and light westerly winds. Attacks on two Wellingtons, a change over at Thornaby, local flying and 17 hours of night flying were carried out. The considerable amount of night flying during the past two months has resulted in every pilot becoming proficient in that important field. Pilot Officer J. Hamankiewicz was posted to the Squadron to replace F/O J. Wiejski who left today to join a Polish Unit. The loss of ‘Whiskey’, as he was affectionately known here, will be keenly felt as he was a steady pilot and his good nature made him liked by all.
Monday, 23 November, 1942
Weather today was cloudy, with approximately 9/10ths at 2,500 feet and six miles visibility. ZZ approaches, cine gun, dogfights, attacks on Wellingtons, local flying and formation were carried out.
Tuesday, 24 November, 1942
Cloudy with slight haze, 9/10ths to 10/10ths visibility based at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. Local flying, formation, cine gun, aerobatics and Wellington attacks were carried out. The Squadron Hockey team is rapidly rounding into shape. Today at Durham, they soundly trounced 426 Squadron by a score of 6-0. LAC W. Kerwin did the hat trick, scoring four goals. There is every indication that 403 Squadron will be near the top when the playoffs roll around.
Wednesday, 25 November, 1942
Weather: cloudy with 10/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet and a slight haze with visibility of 5,000 yards. Cloud flying, formation, cine gun, ZZ approaches air to ground firing and low flying were carried out.
Thursday, 26 November, 1942
It was cloudy all day with 10/10ths at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and 4 to 6 miles visibility. Local and low flying, formation, cine gun, and ZZ approaches. Flying Officer R.H. Johnston arrived today to double bank on administrative duties.
Friday, 27 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy with a base around 700 feet and rain, becoming foggy towards evening. All flying suspended.
Saturday, 28 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy with intermittent rain and visibility of 4 to 6 miles. Air to air firing, local flying, cloud flying, ZZ approaches, formation flying cine gun and attacks on Wellingtons were flown today. A farewell well party for Flight Lieutenant G.U. Hill was held. He has ably demonstrated his flying ability and is sure to add to the reputation of those pilots of 403 Squadron now serving in the Middle East.
Sunday, 29 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy with showers. The cloud base was at 300 feet and the visibility was between 6 to 12 miles. Local flying, ZZ approaches and cloud flying were carried out today.
Monday, 30, November, 1942
Weather was clear in the morning, developing into 6/10ths to 8/10ths cloud at 4,000 to 6,000 feet later in the day. A flying exercise was done by six aircraft in the morning and local flying, attacks on Wellingtons, aerobatics and dogfights were flown throughout the day. Flying Officer A.H. Warner has completely recovered from his accident at Kenley and was today posted from 403 to 418 Squadron with a promotion indicated. He was very popular here and his departure is regretted. Fortunately, his shoes will be capably filled by F/O R.J.C. Doehler, who has demonstrated unusual ability since joining the Squadron.
Personnel and Flying Times for November 1942
RCAF RAF POLISH
No. of Officers – Flying 12 – 1
No. of Officers – Ground 5 1 –
No. of Airmen – Flying 11 – 3
No. of Officers – Ground 83 22 _-
111 23 4
Operational Flying Times: 2:30
Total Non-op time: 486:25
Non-operational night: 63:20
Tiger Moth: 32:10
Grand total for Month 584:25
Casualties for the Month: NIL
No enemy aircraft engaged.
Aircraft on Strength: 19 Spitfire Mk VB, 1 Tiger Moth
Tuesday, 1 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with slight rain and a visibility of 6 to 12 miles. The Squadron carried out local flying and range estimation exercises.
Wednesday, 2 December, 1942
Weather was fine all day with no cloud and a visibility of 7 to 15 miles. The Squadron carried out air to air firing, local and aerobatics flying.
Thursday, 3 December, 1942
The weather was fine all day but for a slight fog early in the morning. 7/10ths cloud was based at 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The Squadron carried out air to air firing and local and aerobatics exercises. During the afternoon, part of the Squadron carried out a beat-up on a road convoy exercise.
Friday, 4 December, 1942
Weather was fog all day with 10/10ths cloud on the surface. Squadron activities were restricted by the weather but several pilots managed to carry out some air to air firing. Flying Officer McGill reported in today to take over the duties of the Squadron Intelligence officer.
Saturday, 5 December, 1942
It was cloudy all day with a slight rain, 10/10ths cloud based at 1,000 to 3,000 feet with conditions improving slight in the afternoon. The Squadron carried out air to air firing and local flying exercises.
Sunday, 6 December, 1942
It was fine all day, with 4/10ths to 6/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet and 4 to 6 miles visibility. A weather test, high and low formation flying, local flying, cine gun exercise, tail chase and aerobatics were flown by several of the pilots. While taxiing on the runway shortly after landing, the undercarriage of P/O H.J. Dowding’s Spitfire collapsed. P/O Dowding was uninjured and slight damage occurred to the aircraft.
Monday, 7 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with a light drizzle and 10/10ths cloud based at 1,500 to 2,000 feet. A weather test and some local flying were carried out today. S/L Bennions destroyed a drifting balloon in the afternoon.
Tuesday, 8 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with showers and a cloud base of 8/10ths to 10/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The Squadron performed cine gun and formation exercises, both above and below 5,000 feet with some pilots doing local flying and air to air firing. Pilot Officer C.G. Cumming reported in to the Squadron today and is attached to ‘B’ Flight for flying duties.
Wednesday, 9 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with 8/10ths to 9/10ths cloud based at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and 6 miles visibility. The main activities of the Squadron were air to air firing, formation and tail chase above 5,000 feet and a Wimpy beat-up with some cloud flying. The Tannoy sounded at approximately 1545 hours for the Squadron to come to readiness. The Squadron was ordered to take-off and was airborne at 1634 hours, led by S/L Ford. Twelve planes took off, destination unknown. One, who apparently had some difficulty getting his engine started, was late getting airborne and was ordered to return. The eleven planes departing from Catterick were joined by two planes from Thornaby. The 13 pilots are all members of 403 Squadron and were: S/L Ford, F/L O’Leary, F/L Magwood, F/O Marshall, P/O Dowding, P/O Connacher, Sgt Bednarz, F/O Wozniak, Sgt Gillis, Sgt Abbotts, Sgt Dunbar, F/S Chute and Sgt Goudie. F/L Hill has been posted supernumerary to 331 Squadron, effective 15-12-42 and is slated to go East; the Squadron all wish him the best of luck.
Thursday, 10 December, 1942
The visibility was good in the early morning but deteriorated later to the poor distance of 600 yards. It was mainly 10/10ths cloud with rain that became heavy by midday. P/O Olmsted left in the early morning in the ‘Master’, accompanied by P/O J.R. Hamankiewicz so that the latter could join his new Squadron at Digby. Sgt Goudie returned to Catterick by train.
Friday, 11 December, 1942
The visibility was fair today, starting at 900 yards at 0900 hours and increasing to 4,000 yards later in the day. A heavy rain fell during the day until 1500 hours. As the Squadron has not yet returned and the weather is poor, everything here is very quiet.
Saturday, 12 December, 1942
Weather: visibility started out as poor but cleared by the mid-afternoon and then later became poor again. P/O Olmsted returned in the Magister during the afternoon, having left P/O Hamankiewicz at Digby with the Squadron, which has yet been in action. Sgt Goudie was married today at 1130 hours to Miss Katherine Coyne. The ceremony took place at Middlesborough, Yorkshire and F/L C. Black (MO) acted as the best man. The Squadron’s best wishes go with them.
Sunday, 13 December, 1942
It was cloudy with a slight rain until 1100 hours. The weather cleared at midday only to cloud over again in the afternoon. The Squadron returned early in the afternoon, considerably fed-up, as they did not get into action. With the exception of F/O Marshall, P/Os Wozniak and Dowding, the Squadron landed at Digby, North Weald, Wittering and then back to Digby before returning to Catterick. The pilots mentioned landed at Digby, West Mallings, Wittering and then back to Digby before they too returned to Catterick. It speaks well for the ability and efficiency of the Squadron that, while these operations were carried out at night and in very bad weather conditions, there were no accidents of any kind.
Monday, 14 December, 1942
The weather was cloudy with a 5/10ths to 10/10ths based at 2,000 to 3,000 feet in the morning, with a fog that descended to the surface by 1400 hours. Local flying and cine gun exercises as well as range estimation exercises were carried out today.
Tuesday, 15 December, 1942
The morning saw rain and fog until 1000 hours with 10/10ths cloud based at 400 to 1,500 feet and visibility between 800 to 1,500 yards. It cleared up for a short time and then continued with rain and fog for the remainder of the day. There was no flying on account of the weather conditions.
Wednesday, 16 December, 1942
It was cloudy all day with 10/10ths based at 300 to 1,500 feet and visibility of 1,500 to 2,000 yards. No flying was done today due to the weather.
Thursday, 17 December, 1942
It drizzled or rained from dawn with visibility going up to 1,500 yards. Sgts Bednarz and R. Rogowski were posted effective today. No flying was done due to the weather conditions.
Friday, 18 December, 9142
Fog all day with a maximum visibility of 300 yards and a minimum of 50 yards reported. No flying because of weather conditions. Sgt WT Lane’s commission, effective 9-11-42 came through today.
Saturday, 19 December, 1942
Fog all day until 1900 hours when t cleared to fair conditions. Only one flight, a weather test, was done today.
Sunday, 20 December, 1942
The weather was fine until mid-day, with 6 miles visibility. Mist and fog moved in later along with 7/10ths low cloud. Flying consisted of a weather test, ZZ approaches, air to air firing and sector reconnaissance. In the late afternoon, F/O R. Wozniak cracked up after landing; the plane was washed out but ‘Wozy’ was unhurt, for which we are all thankful. Sgt Dover’s commission to P/O, effective 26-11-42 came through today. Congratulations to Pilot Officer Dover. F/O K.P. Marshall was scrambled at 1200 hours but no contacts were made and he landed at 1210 hours.
Monday, 21 December, 1942
The winds were gusty and southerly all day. Visibility was fairly good with a maximum of 6 miles and a minimum of 1,000 yards. A mist closed in at dusk. Cine gun exercises, formation practice, air to air firing, range estimation and a weather test were carried out today.
Tuesday, 22 December, 1942
The weather was cloudy until mid-day when it became fine. P/O Connacher and F/S Chute scrambled at 1040 hours. No contacts were made and they were down at 1110 hours. Squadron formation practice was done in the afternoon and eight pilots did a night flying exercise. S/L Ford took part in the night flying exercise and made several contacts with the opposition. Sgts G.R. Brown, J.D. Edwards, W.C. Uttley and W. McGarrigle joined the Squadron today and are most welcome additions.
Wednesday, 23 December, 1942
Visibility was fair today, with a minimum of 1,100 yards and a maximum of 12 miles. The Cloud base was 9/10ths at 8,000 feet for nearly all of the day. Cine gun exercises, formation practice, ZZ approaches, aerobatics and a sector recco were carried out today. F/L O’Leary took part in a Co-op exercise with some Wellingtons. F/S Chute and P/O Cumming went on a scramble at 1430 hours. No contacts were made and they landed at 1450 hours.
Thursday, 24 December, 1942
Weather included 5/10ths low cloud with visibility between 400 to 3,000 yards. Activities consisted of a weather test, formation flying, ZZ approaches and a sector reconnaissance.
Friday, 25 December, 1942
Heavy fog all day with a maximum visibility of 200 yards. No flying due to the weather.
Saturday, 26 December, 1942
Fog all day with visibility from 50 to 500 yards. There was a frost today at dawn. No flying was done today. Owing to the extremely foggy weather, the Squadron has been able to relax somewhat during the last few days and a most enjoyable Christmas has been had by all. The personnel are now getting slightly browned off and are yearning for action.
Sunday, 27 December, 1942
Fog all day, visibility from 200 to 600 yards. No flying was done today.
Monday, 28 December, 1942
The weather was much improved with visibility varying from 4,000 yards to 6 miles. The cloud base was 6/10ths to 9/10ths at 2,000 feet. The Squadron was pleased that the weather had lifted and got in some air to air firing, local formation, sector recco, and aerobatics.
Tuesday, 29 December, 1942
There was a continual improvement in the weather throughout the day with visibility of 12 miles and 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet. The Squadron carried out formation exercises, aerobatics and cine gun practice.
Wednesday, 30 December, 1942
The visibility, which started out at 12 miles, deteriorated to 4 miles by evening. Cloud base of 6/10ths to 8/10ths was at 2,000 feet. Flying consisted of sector recco, local and ZZ approaches plus formation flying and cine gun.
Thursday, 31 December, 1942
Weather: visibility 12 miles all day and no low cloud. The Squadron finished off the year with slightly more than 40 hours for the day, making a good total considering all of the very poor weather. The highlight of the day was a Squadron formation practice and a beat-up with 4 ‘Whimpys’ taking part. There was also some air to air firing and local flying done today.
Personnel and Flying Times for December 1942
No. of Officers – Flying 13 1
No. of Officers – Ground 6 –
No. of Airmen – Flying 12 1
No. of Officers – Ground 83 20
Operational Flying Times: 3:00
Total Non-op time:
Spitfire Day 387:40
Spitfire Night: 15:10
Tiger Moth: 3:40
Grand total for Month 409:30
Aircraft on Squadron Strength: 18 Spitfire Mk VB
1 Tiger Moth
Casualties for the Month: NIL
Accidents for the Month of December: 2