Historical Aircraft

403 Squadron Operations Record Book 1944

 

January 1944

Saturday, 1 January, 1944

The day started with scattered clouds that became thicker in the afternoon.  Four of our pilots went on a ‘Ranger’ this afternoon but no enemy aircraft were encountered.  There were ten non-operational sorties flown on aircraft tests and local flying.  One flight was on readiness this afternoon for a couple of hours.

Sunday, 2 January, 1944

There were scattered clouds, which developed into about 8/10ths cloud in the afternoon with strong winds.  There were no operations carried out today, the weather being unfit, but eighteen non-operational sorties were completed which included practice dive bombing, local flying, cine-gun, formation flying air-to-air firing and aircraft tests.

Monday, 3 January, 1944

Scattered cloud later developed into 10/10ths cloud and it was cold and windy today.  Four of our pilots took off this morning on a ‘Ranger’ and swept Beauvais, Mantes, Gisors area without result, the cloud being mainly 9/10th to 10/10ths throughout.  There were four non-operational sorties, two of them on a practice scramble.  Another ‘Ranger’ that was to take place this afternoon was cancelled on account of the weather.  One flight was placed on immediate readiness all day.  F/O E.C. Williams, a new pilot, was posted to the Squadron today and F/O J.H. Ballantyne, DFM, reported to this Squadron for duty.  He has finished a tour in Malta and has joined us to start his second one.

Tuesday, 4 January, 1944

It was sunny with a few scattered clouds.  There were two sweeps carried out today.  On the fist one, no enemy aircraft were seen but one section of our Squadron strafed some Nissan huts setting them on fire.  On the second sweep, our Wing was escort cover to bombers and swept Beauvais, Bayeux area without result.  There was one non-operational sortie for local flying toady.

Wednesday, 5 January, 1944

The weather was sunny with scattered clouds that diminished somewhat during the morning, only to develop in the afternoon.  One flight was put on immediate readiness this morning for three-quarters of an hour.  A briefing was held at 1045 hours and the Wing took off at 1140 hours on a sweep.  They swept the Donfront area where four ME 109s were seen but could not be engaged.  There were eight non-operational sorties flown today on air-to-air firing, local flying, low-level cross countries and cine-gun practice.

Thursday, 6 January, 1944

Today the weather was dull with 9/10ths cloud.  There were no operations carried out today but eleven non-operational sorties were completed which included practice dive bombing, local flying, low-level cross-countries and aircraft tests.

Friday, 7 January, 1944

The weather started with scattered clouds that developed to 8/10ths by the afternoon.  The Wing took off at 1130 hours this morning on a sweep and was withdrawal cover to bombers returning from France.  No enemy aircraft were sighted.  There were six non-operational sorties flown on aircraft tests and a low-level cross-country flight.  One flight was on readiness until dusk today.

Saturday, 8 January, 1944

It was sunny today with scattered clouds.  The Wing took off on a sweep this afternoon and swept the Arras area but no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were also seven non-operational sorties flown on cine-gun practice and aircraft tests.

Sunday, 9 January, 1944

It was 10/10ths cloud with intermittent showers all day.  There was no flying carried out today, the weather being unfit.

Monday, 10 January, 1944

It was thick and dull today.  There were sixteen non-operational sorties today which included a practice Squadron formation and aircraft tests.  W/O2 N.V. Chevers has been appointed a commission and has joined the Squadron for duty as an Officer today.

Tuesday, 11 January, 1944

It was foggy, 10/10ths cloud with intermittent showers today.  There was no flying today.  One flight was on immediate readiness until noon when a bad weather state was put into effect.  One section remained at immediate readiness and two sections on 15 minutes notice until dusk.  The Wing was released at noon with the exception of the readiness flight.

Wednesday, 12 January, 1944

It was 10/10ths cloud, foggy with intermittent showers on into the evening.  No flying was carried out today.  The Squadron was released at 1130 hours for the remainder of the day.

Thursday, 13 January, 1944

The weather was dull with 10/10ths cloud and a slight drizzle.  There was no flying carried out today.  This morning, a picture show called ‘Catina’ was shown to the pilots at intelligence.  Identity photographs were also taken.

Friday, 14 January, 1944

It was sunny and bright today with a few scattered clouds.  Two sweeps were carried out today.  The Squadron landed at Tangmere after the second sweep and remained there overnight to take off on a morning sweep.  There were three non-operational sorties flown on aircraft tests and a low-level cross-country.

Saturday, 15 January, 1944

It was sunny and warm today with just a few high scattered clouds.  The Squadron did not take off on the sweep from Tangmere this morning but returned to base at noon.  At 1415 hours, one section was put on immediate readiness.  This was increased to one flight 15 minutes later.  Red Section was scrambled at 1530 hours to patrol Selsey Hill at 20,000 feet but was recalled shortly after take off.  There were 30 non-operational sorties flown today including the local flying from Tangmere, the flight from Tangmere to Kenley, aircraft tests and one cine-gun practice.

Sunday, 16 January, 1944

It was warm, sunny and bright with a few scattered clouds all morning and for most of the afternoon before some haze developed which turned into fog in the evening.  There were 23 non-operational sorties flown today on cine-gun practice, aircraft tests, practice dive bombing, low-level cross-countries, air-to-air firing map reading and local flying.  The Squadron was released at 1545 hours for the remainder of the day.

Monday, 17 January, 1944

There was thick fog in the morning that lifted around noon to 10/10ths low cloud, which remained, for the rest of the day.  There was no flying carried out today.  The pilots attended a picture show this morning at intelligence.  P/O N.H. Jeffries, the Squadron Adjutant, was posted to 143 Airfield HQ wef today.  F/L D. Goldberg and F/L J.A. McKelvie, two of our pilots, are now acting as Adjutant and Assistant Adjutant.

Tuesday, 18 January, 1944

It was 10/10ths low cloud, cold and dull all day with intermittent showers.  There was no flying today, the weather being unfit.  The pilots attended a lecture at intelligence this afternoon.  F/L Hill, F/O Smith and F/O Walley joined us today for duty.

Wednesday, 19 January, 1944

It was dull with 10/10ths low cloud and a slight drizzle.  No flying was done today.  One section remained on immediate readiness and two sections at 15 minutes notice all day.

Thursday, 20 January, 1944

10/10ths cloud and dull.  There was only one non-operational sortie flown on a weather test today.

Friday, 21 January, 1944

It was sunny with some scattered cloud today.  The Squadron took off this morning on a sweep through Dieppe, Amiens, Cambrai and Arras areas.  P/O Weaver and F/O Finley each destroyed a FW 190 and F/L J.D. Browne damaged one FW 190.  There were seventeen non-operational sorties flown today on aircraft tests, practice dive-bombing, local flying, cannon tests and cine-gun practice.  F/O Allison and F/L Hume reported to the Squadron today for duty.

Saturday, 22 January, 1944

10/10ths cloud, dull, windy with some rain.  There was no flying today.

Sunday, 23 January, 1944

The morning started with 10/10ths cloud, which broke up, becoming very windy and sunny with scattered clouds in the afternoon.  The Squadron took off this afternoon on a sweep around the Lille area; no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were five non-operational sorties flown today on local flying, aircraft and cannon tests.  One flight remained on readiness until dusk.

Monday, 24 January, 1944

It was sunny this morning with some scattered clouds which developed around noon to 10/10ths cloud, rain, clod and very windy.  Two sweeps were carried out this morning.  The bombers were escorted into the Lille area and no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were seven non-operational sorties flown today on cannon tests and local flying.

Tuesday, 25 January, 1944

Today was sunny with some scattered cloud.  The Squadron went on two sweeps today.  On the first sweep the Wing encountered some enemy aircraft but was unable to engage them.  The second sweep was over the Somme, Bethune and Douay areas and no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were also three non-operational sorties conducted on aircraft tests.

Wednesday, 26 January, 1944

It was sunny in the morning with 10/10ths cloud developing around noon.  The remainder of the day was cold, dull and windy with some rain.  The Squadron took off on a sweep this morning but no enemy aircraft were seen.

Thursday, 27 January, 1944

It was cloudy, dull and windy all day.  There were three non-operational sorties flown today on aircraft tests.  The Squadron was released around 1500 hours for the remainder of the day.  The pilots attended a lecture at intelligence this afternoon.

Friday, 28 January, 1944

It was 9/10ths high cloud in the morning, which scattered out for the remainder of the day.  Four of our pilots went on a ‘Ranger’ this afternoon with one of them, F/L Goldberg, unable to take off from Manston due to an unserviceable aircraft.  The remaining three swept the Lille-Amiens area and were bounced by 12 plus FW 190s.  F/O Foster damaged one FW 190 and both F/O Foster and F/L Thornton’s aircraft were hit.  P/O Weaver, DFM, is reported as missing after this operation.  There were 16 non-operational sorties flown today on local flying, sector recco and for experience on Spitfires for our new pilots.  One flight was on readiness today until dusk.

Saturday, 29 January, 1944

10/10ths cloud broke in the morning with some scattered cloud remaining.  Two sweeps were carried out today but no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were eighteen non-operational sorties flown on local flying which included the flight of the Squadron to Manston.

Sunday, 30 January, 1944

The day started sunny with scattered clouds and windy with the cloud becoming ticker in the afternoon.  This morning the Squadron took off on a sweep and flew over Cambrai airfield.  Some a/c were seen on the ground but no air activity took place.  In the afternoon, eight of our pilots went on a Ranger and swept the Antwerp, Brussels area.  There were no enemy aircraft seen but considerable flak was experienced.  There were 15 non-operational sorties flown today, which included local flying, cine-gun practice and formation flying.

Monday, 31 January, 1944

The weather was 10/10ths low layer cloud all of the morning and for most of the afternoon.  This improved slightly to about 9/10ths cloud, sunny at times but poor visibility.  There was no flying carried out today, the weather being unfit.  The health of the Squadron remained very good all this month.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of January 1944

RCAF
No. of Officers – Flying    27
No. of Officers – Ground    1
No. of Airmen – Flying     1
No. of Airmen – Ground    1

USA Personnel in RCAF

No. of Officers – Flying    3
No. of Officers – Ground    nil
No. of Airmen – Flying     1
No. of Airmen – Ground    1

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         415:25
Non-Operational:    152:30
Tiger Moth:        _     nil
Total    567:55

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     18 Spitfire Mk IX
MH388    MA578    MJ310    MH582    MA842    MH829
BS549    BS129    BS284    MA824    MH331    MH844
MA226    MH842    MA840    MH335    BS353    BS533

1 Tiger Moth T.7402

Our Casualties for the Month:       1 Spitfire Cat AC 1-1-44 pilot uninjured
1 Spitfire Cat AC 21-1-44 pilot uninjured
1 Spitfire Cat E 28-1-44 pilot P/O Weaver,
DFM (missing)
2 Spitfires Cat AC 28-1-44 Pilots uninjured

Enemy Casualties:     1 FW 190 Destroyed 21-1-44 (P/O C. Weaver DFM)
1 FW 190 Destroyed 21-1-44 (F/O H.R. Finley)
1 FW 190 Damaged 28-1-44 (F/O L. Foster)

February 1944

Tuesday, 1 February, 1944

It was windy and cold with 10/10ths low layer cloud all day.  There were two non-operational sorties carried out today on local flying.  Today, Air Vice Marshall W.F. Dickson, CB, DSO,CBE, AFC, presented our Squadron with its approved Squadron crest.  All of the airfield personnel and the members of the Squadron were on parade for its presentation and were formed up on the inside of a hollow square of the Squadron aircraft.  The Squadron’s crest is a Wolf’s head on an airforce crest with the motto: “Stalk and Strike” below it.  The Squadron was released at 1300 hours today.

Wednesday, 2 February, 1944

It was dull and windy with 10/10ths layer cloud between 1,000 and 2,000 feet all day.  There was only one non-operational sortie carried out today on a cannon test.  One flight was on immediate readiness all day with one flight at 60 minutes notice.

Thursday, 3 February, 1944

It was 10/10ths low cloud this morning with showers.  It broke up a bit around noon to about 8/10ths cloud.  The Squadron went on a sweep this afternoon but no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were four non-operational sorties flown on cannon tests and practice dive-bombing.

Friday, 4 February, 1944

The weather was 10/10ths cloud early this morning that broke in the late morning to about 5/10ths cloud with a slight snowfall.  The Squadron took off on a sweep this afternoon from Manston but no enemy were encountered.  The Wing swept the Ghent and Ypres area.  There were eighteen non-operational sorties carried out today on local flying, cannon and aircraft tests.

Saturday, 5 February, 1944

The weather today was sunny with a few scattered clouds.  There were twelve non-operational sorties flown today on local flying and aircraft tests.  The Squadron took off this morning and swept Biville, St. Germain, Pontoise, Beauvais and Lille airfield but no enemy aircraft were sighted.  The Squadron landed at Friston and then some of the aircraft went on another sweep this afternoon around Cayeux, Abbeville, and Amiens area.  Four enemy aircraft were seen on the ground at Abbeville.

Sunday, 6 February, 1944

It was sunny in the early morning with very little cloud.  It became hazy as the sun rose with the visibility improving around noon.  The Squadron took off on a sweep this afternoon covering 72 Marauders bombing Cormeilles-en-Vixion.  The Wing then swept the Gisor, Dieppe area.  Two enemy aircraft were seen but soon disappeared in cloud.  There were nine non-operational sorties carried out on local flying and aircraft tests.

Monday, 7 February, 1944

It was 10/10ths cloud all of the morning and part of the afternoon.  Later, in the afternoon this improved to about 5/10ths cloud and sunny.  Six non-operational sorties were completed today on cine-gun practice, low-level cross-country, sector recco and local flying.  One flight was on immediate readiness this morning and at noon, a bad weather state was put into effect with one section on immediate readiness, two sections at 15 minutes notice and the other flight released.

Tuesday, 8 February, 1944

It was sunny with early haze in the morning with a few scattered clouds.  The Squadron went on two sweeps today around St. Omer, Douai and Amiens areas but no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were eleven non-operational sorties carried out today which included local flying, sector recco, and a low-level cross-country.  Our pilots ferried four new Spitfires Mk IX B’s from Dettling to Kenley.

Wednesday, 9 February, 1944

It was sunny and bright this morning with a few scattered clouds later on in the day.  The Squadron took off early this morning on a sweep and as escort to bombers going in on Poix airfield.  No enemy aircraft were seen.  This afternoon, the Squadron took off on another sweep over Abbeville, Merrville, Arras and Amiens areas.  Enemy aircraft were reported but none were seen.  There were fourteen non-operational sorties carried out today that included low-level cross-countries, cine-gun practice, local flying and aircraft tests.

Thursday, 10 February, 1944

It was sunny this morning with some scattered cloud.  In the afternoon 10/10ths cloud developed with occasional snow.  The Squadron went on a sweep this morning but no enemy aircraft were sighted.  Another sweep was planned but later cancelled on account of the weather.  There were ten non-operational sorties today on aircraft tests, local flying and familiarization flying on the new Spitfires Mk IX B’s.

Friday, 11 February, 1944

Today was dull with 9/10 – 10/10ths low cloud which broke at times.  The Wing took off this morning and landed at Manston.  From here, they took off on a sweep over Cambrai, Le Coteau and Bethune areas but no enemy aircraft were seen.  There were 28 non-operational sorties today, which included aircraft tests.

Saturday, 12 February, 1944

It was dull with 10/10ths cloud.  There was no flying carried out today.  The Squadron had one flight on immediate readiness and one flight at an hours notice until dusk.

Sunday, 13 February, 1944

There was 8/10ths to 10/10ths high cloud and dull for most of the day.  The Wing took off this afternoon as third fighter sweep over the Beauvais, Amiens and Cambrai area.  No enemy aircraft were sighted.  There were nineteen non-operational sorties today that included local flying, familiarization and aircraft tests on the new Spitfire IX B’s.

Monday, 14 February, 1944

It was sunny with scattered cloud that changed to about 8/10ths cloud in the afternoon.  The Squadron took off on a sweep at noon today but no enemy aircraft were encountered.  Nine non-operational sorties were carried out on aircraft tests and local flying.

Tuesday, 15 February, 1944

The weather was sunny and bright with only a few scattered clouds until the afternoon when more cloud developed.  Two sweeps were carried out today but no enemy aircraft were seen.  After the first sweep the pilots were to take off on another one twenty minutes after landing.  There was a mad rush for awhile but, shortly after the briefing, the sweep was cancelled.  Nine non-operational sorties were completed on aircraft tests and local flying.

Wednesday, 16 February, 1944

There was 10/10ths low cloud and fog in the morning to the late afternoon with poor visibility and continual showers all of the day.  There was no flying carried out today, the weather being unfit.  The Squadron was officially released at 1630 hours.

Thursday, 17 February, 1944

Another dull day with 10/10ths low cloud and a slight drizzle all day.  There was no flying carried out today, the weather being unfit.  A bad weather state was put into effect this morning at dawn and our Squadron had one section on immediate readiness and two on 15 minutes notice.

Friday, 18 February, 1944

We had some snow fall today and almost a gale blowing – very bad flying weather.  There were no operations carried out today and only four non-operational sorties were completed.

Saturday, 19 February, 1944

The visibility was very bad today and the Squadron was released at One PM.  There was no operational flying carried out today and only eleven non-operational sorties were completed.  F/L J.A. McKelvie was married today to Flt. Officer Neila Wallace Ross.  The marriage took place at St John’s Church, Hook, in the parish of Newham in the county of Southampton.  The pilots attended this wedding and, of course, there was a celebration afterwards.

Sunday, 20 February, 1944

There was some scattered cloud and good visibility today.  There were two operations carried out today.  The first one from Bradwell Bay proved uneventful.  On the second Ramrod, the Wing penetrated to the Brussels area when F/L J.G Trull’s engine failed.  After instruction over the R/T by the Wing Leader his engine still failed to pick up and he was instructed to bail out at 3,000 feet.  We are all hoping that F/L Trull will walk back and rejoin us.  There were 28 non-operational sorties carried out today.

Monday, 21 February, 1944

There was some high cloud but good visibility today.  There was one operational sweep carried out today and the Wing penetrated to the Rotterdam area but the operation was uneventful.  There were eighteen non-operational sorties carried out today.  After a few false alarms it was definitely decided that we are going to Hutton Cranswick in Yorkshire for a few weeks of bombing and gunnery practice.  We leave on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 22 February, 1944

The day began clear and clouded up in the late afternoon with snow.  There was one Ramrod carried out today and the rendezvous was made north of Brussels.  No enemy aircraft or flak was experienced on this operation.  F/O A.J.A. Bryan proceeded by road with the ground crew to Hutton Cranswick.  The weather at base was unsatisfactory after the ramrod and our aircraft landed at forward bases.

Wednesday, 23 February, 1944

The weather was dull and cold.  There were no operations carried out today.  Our aircraft returned from the forward bases today but the weather was unsuitable for our aircraft to fly to Hutton Cranswick today.  The convoy that travelled by road arrived at Hutton Cranswick today and were looking in vain for our kites.

Thursday, 24 February, 1944

The weather was clear in the morning and remained so for most of the way to Hutton Cranswick.  The Squadron clerk, six pilots and the telephone operators arrived at Hutton Cranswick by rail today.  They had to wait at the station for 2 hours before transport came to take them to the aerodrome.  Today, 26 sorties were carried out on air-to-air firing and dive-bombing.

Friday, 25 February, 1944

The weather was clear all day and cool.  Today there were 54 sorties carried out on our dive-bomb training.  Outside of this, there was nothing of interest to report.

Saturday, 26 February, 1944

It was dull for most of the day with rain and unsuitable for flying.  Only two sorties were carried out on dive bombing today.  Nothing of interest to report.

Sunday, 27 February, 1944

The weather was unsuitable for flying.  The pilots did quite a bit of skeet shooting today, as there was no flying carried out at all today.

Monday, 28 February, 1944

There was a heavy snowfall today.  It was cold and quite unsuitable for flying.  No flying today but this week has turned out to be quite a good rest for our pilots.  We are beginning to wonder if the weather will be good enough for the aircraft to return to Kenley tomorrow.

Tuesday, 29 February, 1944

It was a dull day.  The only flying that was done was the return of the aircraft to Kenley.  The Orderly room equipment was all packed up and will be going by road tomorrow.  The Officers who came up by rail are returning the same way tomorrow along with the Squadron clerk and one of the telephone operators.  Word came through at the last minute that the servicing personnel were to remain up here and wait for the next squadron to arrive.  Everything had been all packed and everyone was a little brassed off at receiving such late notice.  Our aircraft took off at 1655 hours and landed at Kenley at 1800 hours.  Out of the week at Hutton Cranswick, we flew only two full days, as the weather was unsuitable all of the rest of the time.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of February 1944

RCAF
No. of Officers – Flying    26
No. of Officers – Ground    1
No. of Airmen – Flying     1
No. of Airmen – Ground    2

USA Personnel in RCAF

No. of Officers – Flying    3
No. of Officers – Ground    nil
No. of Airmen – Flying     1
No. of Airmen – Ground    1

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         401:00
Non-Operational:    185:45
Tiger Moth:        _     3:15
Total    590:00

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     18 Spitfire Mk IX B
MJ570    MJ985    MJ887    MJ845    MJ988    MK306
MJ355     MJ986    MJ876    MJ980    MJ664    MJ352
MJ480    MJ356    MJ563    MJ942    MJ939    MK179

1 Tiger Moth T.7402

Our Casualties for the Month:       20-2-44 F/L J.C. Trull -missing

Enemy Casualties:     NIL

March 1944

Wednesday, 1 March, 1944

No operations and no non-operational flying were done today.  The remainder of the pilots and our MO, F/L D.S. Munroe, as well as the Squadron clerk came back from Hutton Cranswick by rail today.  The other Squadrons here did a sweep today which proved uneventful.  We are al hoping that the food here will continue to improve until it reaches the high standard of Hutton Cranswick.  F/O H.R. Finley was re-posted to the Squadron today as O.C. of ‘B’ Flight.  F/O T.A. Brannagan, F/L I.G. Keltie and F/l R.G. Middlemiss were posted to 144 Airfield HQ wef today.

Thursday, 2 March, 1944

There was one operation carried out today and, outside of being bounced by Thunderbolts, it proved to be uneventful.  There were only six non-operational sorties carried out today.

Friday, 3 March, 1944

One operation was carried out today, in which the Wing escorted 108 Marauders to bomb Laon/Athies.  No enemy aircraft were seen.  Jerry seems to be conserving his fighter strength for something big.  In the afternoon, a fighter sweep was done by our Wing, which penetrated to the Lille/Coutrai area.  No enemy aircraft were seen but some flak was experienced from Lille.  Today again there were only six non-operational sorties carried out.

Saturday, 4 March, 1944

There were two operations carried out today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  On the morning do, the bombers were recalled after reaching the French coast.  No enemy aircraft were seen today.  There were thirty-four non-operational sorties flown today.

Sunday, 5 March, 1944

There were no operations carried out nor was there any non-operational flying done.  F/O C.S. McLean was posted to the Squadron today from A.D.G.B. HQ.  He has done a tour in Malta and all of the pilots welcomed him to our Squadron.

Monday, 6 March, 1944

One operation today as close escort to the bombers.  Enemy aircraft were reported but none were seen.  Sixteen non-operational sorties were done today for a total of 9:10 hours.

Tuesday, 7 March, 1944

Today our pilots saw some enemy aircraft but luck was not with us, as they could not be engaged.  There was only one operation done today.  We did our first bit of night flying this evening; three sorties for a total of 3 hours.

Wednesday, 8 March, 1944

Two shows and 28 non-operational sorties were flown today.  We were escort wing on the morning do and this afternoon we carried out an eight man Ranger.  No enemy aircraft were seen.  On the Ranger, we lost two pilots, F/O J.H. Ballantyne DFM and F/L D. Goldberg, our adjutant.  F/O Preston’s aircraft was severely damaged by flak but he managed to land at Friston.  F/O Ballantyne’s aircraft was seen to hit the ground and explode and very little hope is held for him.  He has been posted as missing believed to be killed.  F/L Goldberg reported that he was going to attempt a crash landing.  He has been posted as missing but we all are hoping that he will be walking back to see us one of these days.  F/O Foster was posted to 53 OTU wef today.

Thursday, 9 March, 1944

No operations were carried out today but 28 non-operational sorties were flown in the late afternoon.  We were scrambled to Ford to patrol a practice landing of troops.

Friday, 10 March, 1944

The aircraft were unable to return to base today the weather being very unsatisfactory.  A lot of grumbling was heard but it wasn’t very long before a party was organized.

Saturday, 11 March, 1944

The aircraft returned today, but their trip back home from Ford was the only flying done today.  ‘B’ Flight had a party this evening and according to all reports it was a howling success.

Sunday, 12 March, 1944

No operations were flown today but an early morning exercise in co-operation with the Army was carried out.  This evening, three sorties were carried out on night flying for a total of three hours flying time.  F/Os Whittaker, W.H. Rhodes, W.A. Doyle and R.B. Greene were posted to 403 today from 3(RCAF) PRC.

Monday, 13 March, 1944

The aircraft were scrambled today and they fired their guns into the sea off Beachy Head.  On their return, the re-arming was timed.  When we go to the field it is not at all unlikely that all of our aircraft will return with empty guns and it is a good thing to know how long it will take to re-load them.  An army convoy was beaten up today and, in all, there were 33 non-operational sorties.

Tuesday, 14 March, 1944

It was a rather quite day today.  There was a great panic in the morning with the pilots up by seven for a briefing at 8:15.  The sweep was subsequently cancelled and the pilots got their excitement from doing readiness today.

Wednesday, 15 March, 1944

One sweep was carried out today and we went in behind 401 Squadron who caught up with six P.R.U. FW190s who were trying to land at Cambrai.  401 Squadron shot down four of them.  After this sweep the Wing landed at Manston.  No other sweeps developed today and our aircraft returned to base at 1800 hours.

Thursday, 16 March, 1944

No operations today.  We were released to do some training.  We were escort to some Mustangs who were late at the RV as usual.  The pilots report a fairly good picture was shown in the mess tonight.

Friday, 17 March, 1944

Thick fog stopped all flying today.  Some skeet shooting was organized by the pilots.  All of the pilots appear to be in good spirits and they have been busy all day polishing the cockpit covers of their aircraft.

Saturday, 18 March, 1944

Only non-operational flying was done today.  There were 38 sorties flown today.  One of our best pilots was killed in a flying accident today.  Three pilots, led by F/O R.W. Denison, took off on a sector recco and when near Penshurst aerodrome, F/O Denison’s engine failed.  He attempted a crash landing on Penshurst drome but undershot the field crashing on the highway.  F/O Denison was killed instantly and the aircraft was a complete write-off.

Sunday, 19 March, 1944

No flying was done at all today, as the weather was very bad.  The Wing was released in the afternoon.  It was very quiet around the dispersal this afternoon.

Monday, 20 March, 1944

There was one operation carried out today and, as usual, no enemy aircraft were seen.  The pilots report that the flak was very accurate.  There were eleven non-operational sorties carried out for a total of 5 hours flying time.

Tuesday, 21 March, 1944

Bad weather prevented flying today and the pilot’s spent a quite day in the mess.  Funeral arrangements have been completed for the burial of F/O R.W. Denison.

Wednesday, 22 March, 1944

Just a few sorties of practice flying were carried out today.  F/O Denison’s funeral was held today at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.  Most of the pilots attended and the funeral was carried out with full Military Honours.  At the conclusion of the ceremony the pilots present, led by the Commanding Officer, S/L R.A. Buckham, DFC, stepped up to the grave and saluted F/O Denison for the last time.

Thursday, 23 March, 1944

There was a sweep carried out today and, even though our aircraft flew at 8,000 feet over Paris, they were not molested by either flak or enemy aircraft.  There were ten non-operational sorties done today.

Friday, 24 March, 1944

There was non-operational flying only today.  The weather closed in around 3pm after 21 sorties had been completed.  We are practicing dive bombing and army co-operation.  F/O J.A. Wilson was posted to RCAF ‘R’ Depot, Warrington, for repatriation for duty in Canada.

Saturday, 25 March, 1944

More practice dive-bombing was flown today.  More bad luck.  F/L Pennock blacked out when pulling out of a dive after bombing and rolled over on his back, crashing on the edge of the aerodrome.  He was killed instantly and the aircraft was completely wrecked.  We have lost four pilots this month and we are all hoping that this run of bad luck will stop soon.

Sunday, 26 March, 1944

More practice flying today.  Today, there was a church service held in the Dispersal.  In the morning some skeet shooting was done by the pilots who are now thinking of taking on the pilots of 421 Squadron in a skeet-shooting contest.  F/L Pennock will be buried tomorrow at Brookwood Cemetery.

Monday, 27 March, 1944

There was more army co-operation exercises today.  Forty non-operational sorties were carried out by the Squadron today.  In the afternoon, the pilots were at Brookwood for F/L Pennock’s funeral.  The service was conducted by S/L D. Carlson, the Protestant Padre, and full Military Honours were accorded with the Last Post being sounded at the conclusion of the service.  P/O H.V. Boyle and P/O E.D. Kelly were posted to the Squadron from 3(RCAF) PRC today for flying duties.

Tuesday, 28 March, 1944

Thirteen sorties were flown on army co-operation today.  There were no operations carried out.  It was foggy until noon today but the weather cleared enough in the afternoon to allow the army co-operation show to be carried out.

Wednesday, 29 March, 1944

No flying was done at all today as it was foggy in the morning and remained very dull for the whole day.  We were released at 2pm this afternoon and the pilots were soon on their way to London.

Thursday, 30 March, 1944

We were again flying on army co-operation today.  Our Squadron has been getting plenty of practice with the army lately and the pilots are getting anxious to do some operational flying.  There were 36 non-operational sorties carried out today.

Friday, 31 March, 1944

In the morning the cloud was 10/10ths but it cleared up later in the afternoon allowing our pilots to take part in an army beat-up exercise which was the only flying done today.  The health of the Squadron was very good this month and outside of a few pilots having slight colds there was nothing to worry about.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of March 1944

RCAF
No. of Officers – Flying    21
No. of Officers – Ground    1
No. of Airmen – Flying     nil
No. of Airmen – Ground    2

USA Personnel in RCAF

No. of Officers – Flying    4
No. of Officers – Ground    nil
No. of Airmen – Flying     1
No. of Airmen – Ground    1

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         266:15
Non-Operational:    328:05     (day)
Non-Operational:    6:20    (night)
Auster III:        _     8:35
Total    609:15

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     18 Spitfire Mk IX B
MJ570    MJ985    MJ887    MJ645    MJ988    MK306
MK742    MJ986    MK194    MJ980    MJ664    MJ352
MJ480    MK179    MH719    MH928    MJ942    MJ939

1 Tiger Moth T.7402   1 Auster III MZ 181

Our Casualties for the Month:       8-3-44 F/O J.H. Ballantyne DFM
– missing believed killed
8-3-44 F/L D. Goldberg
– missing
18-3-44 F/O R.W. Denison
– killed flying accident
25-3-44 F/L G.C. Pennock
– killed flying accident

Enemy Casualties:     Nil

April 1944

Saturday, 1 April, 1944

No operations were flown today and the Squadron finished up the army exercises today.  The lads learnt quite a bit about this type of flying.

Sunday, 2 April, 1944

Bad weather again today prevented us from flying.  All of the pilots were released at noon, the Crackers Club being the local rendezvous.

Monday, 3 April, 1944

Very low ceilings this morning prevented any flying, however a few venturesome types did a little flying.  At about teatime, a party was organized which turned out to be very successful.

Tuesday, 4 April, 1944

A good deal of practice flying was done today.  Doug Orr went on a spot of leave in London, to the envy of the rest of us.

Wednesday, 5 April, 1944

The day started off with the usual overcast conditions so the Squadron attended a lecture on the new gun sight given by F/O McKenzie and aided by our Hart Finley.  After the lecture, those would could grab a kite went nipping out to try the new sight, as again that all too familiar phrase was heard ‘released for training’.  Night flying was cancelled.

Thursday, 6 April, 1944

Duff weather again today but a good softball game got going between the erks and the pilots.  Our new Padre did a good job of pitching for the pilots.  Night flying was again scheduled for us but washed out again on account f the weather.

Friday, 7 April, 1944

Another duff day found us on readiness.  But still no flying.

Saturday, 8 April, 1944

At last the sun came out today and the Winco came over to the Dispersal and advised us he had requested permission to send the Squadron on a dive-bombing mission.  Spirits soared when the OK came through and at 1500 hours the Squadron, led by ‘Brownie’ took off with five hundred pounders to prang a ‘Noball’.  Near Le Treport, our Squadron had the distinction of being the first Spitfire group to commence the bombing of Europe.  A huge success, so much so that everybody is eager to have another go just as soon as possible, and a party is planned tonight to honour the occasion.

Sunday, 9 April, 1944

Easter Sunday.  Some of the fellows, looking the worse for wear after last night’s party, gradually got down to Dispersal.  We are quite elated over our success of yesterday and deeply interested in the reports in the paper and on the radio over the bombing do.  Later in the afternoon, we had a visit from the RCAF Recording Unit and then later on a release arrived for us, along with a new addition to the Squadron, namely a Jeep, which has saved quite a lot of shoe leather already.

Monday, 10 April, 1944

About 0715 hours this morning, we were rudely awakened by the call ‘All pilots of the wing report to their Squadrons immediately.  We were all set to go by 0830 hours but a mist closed in on the airfield so we were put on 15 minutes readiness.  The Squadron went on a show as target cover for some Mitchells and Marauders that plastered the marshalling yards at Charleroi.  Yellow Section received a dose of ‘green’ flak over Lille.  The Squadron set out after some barges that turned out to be Mustangs.

Tuesday, 11 April, 1944

A show was scheduled for early this morning but was cancelled.  Very little doing today; we were briefed for an exercise that is to take place early tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 12 April, 1944

Everyone was up about 5:15 hours but we were told that the show was off; duff weather again.  The Squadron took off about 0930 hours with the Wing to do a patrol ‘Trousers’.  We landed at Holmsley South and then returned at 1630 hours.  Jim McKelvie had the experience of having to bale out.  He made the ground OK although he had the uncomfortable experience of going through cloud at 2,000 feet.  On returning to dispersal, we met Pete Logan who had changed his name from Pierre Lecoq.

Thursday, 13 April, 1944

Today was spent packing in view of another move.  All of our planes have been fixed up with the new gun sight.

Friday, 14 April, 1944

Early this morning, the advance party left for our new location, another day of no flying and still more packing.  Another party was held in the evening.

Saturday, 15 April, 1944

We were supposed to fly to Tangmere, our new location today, but as usual the weather was duff so once again we resigned ourselves to another bridge tournament and another party.

Sunday, 16 April, 1944

Another duff day and no flying.

Monday, 17 April, 1944

Still no flying – what weather we get these days.  We were ready, at about 1500 hours to fly to Tangmere, but as the weather wasn’t so good, it was postponed until tomorrow.  W/C Chadburn flew up from Tangmere and we were all pleased to hear that he would be leading our Wing.  Best regards to W/C Godefroy, DSO, DFC who we believe is returning to the land of milk and honey.

Tuesday, 18 April, 1944

At last the weather was good enough for us to take off for Tangmere, arriving there at about 0930 hours and ready to commence a healthy?? Outdoor life.  The rest of the day was spent in erecting tents and getting settled.

Wednesday, 19 April, 1944

The first show from our new location took the shape of a bombing effort near Fruges and was led by W/C Chadburn.  Unfortunately, the target was not located but we did prang a ‘Noball’ before returning.  Another show was scheduled for the afternoon but was cancelled because of duff weather.  We have now been informed that our first bombing effort was a complete success having destroyed one of the farthest ‘noballs’ in France.  We call it a darn good show.  New arrivals to the Squadron are F/O Dick Reeves from Toronto, F/O Red Thompson from Windsor and F/O Andy Hardy from Davidson Sask.

Thursday, 20 April, 1944

The Squadron took off for a bombing show at 1230 hours but was unsuccessful due to cloud cover over the target area at Le Treport.  C.B.C. correspondents visited the Squadron looking for some Gen on 403.

Friday, 21 April, 1944

Readiness was at 0600 hours but was cancelled and the Squadron did another patrol.  ‘Ike’ Eisenhower was due to visit the Squadron after lunch so every body got themselves cleaned up.  It was 1730 hours before ‘Ike’s’ plane finally landed and, by then, some of the Squadron has to push off on a show led by Chuck Thornton.  The patrol was uneventful and the Squadron landed by 1930 hours.

Saturday, 22 April, 1944

It was another beautiful day and the Squadron got the OK for a bombing do on a bridge near Bothec, leading to Havre.  This was one of our previous targets.  Headed by W/C Chadburn, the Squadron took off at 1230 hours and returned at1335 hours highly enthusiastic over the success.  Pictures have been received showing one end of the bridge to be well plastered as well as a direct hit on the trestle.  At 1830 hours the Squadron again set off on another bombing mission of a ‘Noball’ near Abbeville.  We managed to get many hits in the area but no official confirmation as of yet.  The Squadron returned at about 2000 hours. We welcome to our Squadron FO Andy Birchnall who is to be our permanent Adj.

Sunday, 23 April, 1944

The Squadron, with the Winco leading, set out at about 1800 hours on another bombing do, the intended ‘Noball’ was not located but we left bombs on another.  Doug Lindsay had the uncomfortable experience of being hit by flak; the radiator as well as the tail were hit but he managed to make it back to base OK.  In the morning at about 1000 hours, the Squadron along with 416 attacked a bridge in the Cherbourg area, the results as of now are not known.

Monday, 24 April, 1944

A show was set for the late morning and the Squadron got airborne about 1220 hours but were recalled.

Tuesday, 25 April, 1944

‘A’ Flight got up before dawn to take over readiness and ‘B’ Flight produced a quota of men as it was thought that we might have to help out the ‘Heavies’ returning from their night’s work.  Doug Orr and Doug Lindsay took off to look over the situation at about 0600 hours and returned at 0715 hours having seen nothing.  At about 1000 hours, these two worthies were again scrambled in a flurry of excitement.  ‘Bogies’ were reported over the Cherbourg area but nothing was seen.  A ‘Ranger’ was put in for the evening as no show was scheduled and the Squadron took off at about 1800 hours for a forward base, then on to Brest and back.  This turned out to be another cook’s tour.

Wednesday, 26 April, 1944

We were to have done another escort job but, owing to the cloud conditions, we were unable to meet our friends.  The Wing went on into France and Belgium on a sweep but all that was seen was plenty of flak over Lille, which was fairly accurate.  Practice flying took up the rest of the afternoon.  At 1810 hours, the Squadron took off on another do which turned out to be an excellent tour of all of the dromes in North-west France.  Nothing at all was seen and the Squadron returned at 2035 hours.

Thursday, 27 April, 1944

At 1029 hours we set off as an umbrella for some Mitchells doing a bombing job near Le Harve.  The trip was uneventful and we returned at 1215 hours.  At 1400 hours we were off on another escort job, this time with Mosquitoes doing a daylight job.  The Squadron returned at 1540 hours after another uneventful trip.  We set out again at 1730 hours, this time with bombs to escort and bomb the Cherbourg Peninsular.  We returned again after another uneventful trip at about 1840 hours.  F/L Browne was promoted to S/L and is to take over 414 Squadron.  Chuck Thornton is our new Flight Commander in his place.

Friday, 28 April, 1944

Nothing much doing this morning except some practice flying.  At about 1220 hours, the Squadron set off with bombs for a job on a railway bridge in the Cherbourg Peninsular but the cloud conditions prevented us from bombing the target and the bombs were aimlessly dropped.  Bill Myers had to land with his bomb.  Practice flying took up the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, 29 April, 1944

The Squadron was off again at 0740 hours.  The cloud conditions made it a pretty shaky do but the Squadron managed to return at about 0830 hours after crossing the Channel and finding10/10ths cloud.  Practice flying took up the rest of the afternoon.  Word was received that F/L Goldberg, who was missing some time ago, has now been reported safe and is on his way back to the Squadron.  We really consider this the best news that we have received in some time.

Sunday, 30 April, 1944

The Squadron left at about 0930 hours to prang a Noball and most of the planes came back with empty oxygen bottles.  The Squadron set off about 1930 hours to do an escort job to Bethune for some Marauders who did a job of plastering the marshalling yards there.  This outdoor life seems to be agreeing with the gang and everyone is really looking fit and tanned.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of April 1944

RCAF
No. of Officers – Flying    26
No. of Officers – Ground    2
No. of Airmen – Flying     1
No. of Airmen – Ground    3

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         445:50
Non-Operational:    217:40     (day)
Non-Operational:    4:20    (night)
Auster III:        _     18:05
Total    685:55

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     18 Spitfire Mk IX B
MJ590    MJ985    MJ887    MJ645    MJ988    MK306
MJ986    MJ980    MJ664    MJ480    MJ942    MJ939
MK179    MH719    MH719    MH928    MJ942    MJ939

1 Auster III MZ 181

Our Casualties for the Month:       1 Spitfire IXB MJ352 Pilot F/L McKelvie – safe

Enemy Casualties:     Nil

Pilots who took part on the first dive-bombing operation carried out by Spitfires:

F/L J.D. Browne
F/O A.J.A. Bryan
F/O H.R. Finley
F/L J.M.J. Gordon
F/L W.J. Hill
F/L J. Hodgson
F/L J.P. Lecoq
F/L J.D. Lindsay
P/O W.J. Myers
F/O J.D. Orr
F/O R.H. Smith
F/O W.D. Whittaker
F/O J. Preston

May 1944

Monday, 1 May, 1944

The Squadron took off on a bombing show at about 1515 hours and, as the target was covered by cloud, a secondary target was selected.  Later in the afternoon, six of the lads, led by Chuck Thornton, took off on a Ranger south of Paris.  An airfield was attacked but all that was seen were dummy airplanes and lots of flak.

Tuesday, 2 May, 1944

Nothing much was doing today until the Wing took off on an escort job at about 1930 hours.  The show itself was uneventful but the Marauders did a good job on the railroads.  There was no further flying for the day.

Wednesday, 3 May, 1944

At 1530 hours, the Squadron took off on another escort job, this time for Mosquitoes bombing the region of Abincourt.  There was no flak, just another dead another dead beat trip.  At 2005 hours, the Squadron set off with bombs to prang a Noball in the vicinity Southwest of Abbeville.  All hell was let loose by the Hun and Mac Hume was the unfortunate one this time.  He had to bale out over the Channel and spent an uncomfortable hour in the Channel just five miles off of the French Coast before he was picked up by a Sea Otter of the Air Sea Rescue.  The Sea Otter damaged a float on landing in the heavy sea, which meant taxiing only, as it could not take off.  A launch finally took all aboard and the Sea Otter joined the Spitfire at the bottom of the drink.

Thursday, 4 May, 1944

We were up at an early hour to take part in the exercise Fabius.  The Squadron was airborne on its first patrol at 0720 hours.  Two more patrols were carried out during the day without incident.

Friday, 5 May, 1944

All were up at daybreak again, this time to escort some Mitchells that were to bomb a marshalling yard near Cambrai.  This turned out to be another uneventful trip.  The rest of the day was a quiet one but later in the early evening, seven of the lads set off on a Ranger South of Paris.  No Huns were sighted but a couple of barges etc were shot up and they returned at about 2100 hours well pleased with themselves.

Saturday, 6 May, 1944

We were scheduled for an early show this morning but it was cancelled so some practice flying took place instead.  The afternoon was a quiet one; at 1700 hours we took over readiness from 421 Squadron until 2215 hours.

Sunday, 7 May, 1944

We were up early again this morning and off on a Wing escort job for Bostons that were to bomb a locomotive works near Valenciennes.  Our Squadron penetrated a little deeper into France and, while doing a sweep over 8/10ths cloud, four ME109s bounced Yellow Section from out of the sun.  The break could not have been called for too soon.  Doug Lindsay damaged one and then came upon two ME109s and shot one of them down before his ammo ran out.  Doug Hodgson also damaged a FW190.  A factor contributing to not having better success was the fuel situation, which proved quite serious.  Ed Kelly had the experience of having to bale out coming across the Channel.  Bill Rhodes just managed to make the English Coast before making a belly landing at Beachy Head.  Chuck Thornton’s engine packed up just after getting across and he had to do a wheels up landing near Friston.  Bob Greene came back all by himself.  Fortunately no one was injured and all were back at the Squadron by 1730 hours.  At 1935 hours, the Squadron took off on another do to bomb a Noball near Abbeville and from all of the reports a very good job was done.

Monday, 8 May, 1944

Another nice day and another escort job.  Bostons were again in charge and had as a target the marshalling yards near Charleroi.  There was nothing exciting about this show.  Jim McKelvie took up and departed for 414 Squadron and we were sorry to see him go.  At about 1715 hours, the Squadron, led by the Winco, took off on an escort fight sweep past Abbeville.  Chuck Thornton had to return and nothing was seen on the sweep.

Tuesday, 9 May, 1944

We really got up with the birds this morning and a section of four aircraft, led by Jim Preston took off on a weather recco to Brussels.  The jet tank on Jim’s plane ran dry and he couldn’t get his engine started until about 300 feet, just off Nieuport.  Bill Whittaker and Harry Boyle also took off on a weather recco over the Cherbourg Peninsular and had all hell let loose at them.  But the unsung heroes of the day were those of ‘A’ Flight who took over readiness.  That was why we stayed at the dispersal until 2200 hours.

Wednesday, 10 May, 1944

At 0645 hours, the Squadron took off for Bradwell Bay and, after having breakfast and refuelling, were off on an escort job for Marauders.  They really had us criss-crossing while they dodged all over France and Belgium but the trip, as a whole proved uneventful.  In the afternoon, we did another Noball bombing with good results.  Four of the lads then took off on a Ranger as far as Southeast of Alancon France, shooting up trucks and returning at 2140 hours.  Chuck McLean, a veteran of Malta, left us today for the land of milk and honey, lucky stiff.

Thursday, 11 May, 1944

We were airborne at 1045 hours on the first show of the day.  This time it was bombing a Noball five miles Southeast of Abbeville, but the results were not that good.  The surprise of the day was the visit of Dave Goldberg whom the lads last saw bailing out of his aircraft after it had been hit by flak over France on March the 8th.  Dave looks like he has been well taken care of and was full of praise for the people he had the occasion to call friends in France. Later in the afternoon, the Squadron was released for the remainder of the day and we hung around the dispersal as the AOC in C was on the camp.

Friday, 12 May, 1944

We were non-operational today as our planes were getting the once-over so we took the opportunity to visit the local quarry where everyone had a good swim and a demonstration of dinghy drill.

Saturday, 13 May, 1944

At 0400 hours believe it or not, we were up for a show and were airborne at 0520 hours on a sweep into Valenciennes and St Quentin area.  We did not see a Hun.  Some tempting convoys were seen but none were attacked and we returned without incident at 0720 hours.  At 1030 hours, the Squadron took off again, this time with bombs to hit a railway junction.  This was a Wing do and the results were pretty good.  At 1450 hours we were off again and we bombed a Noball with fair results.

Sunday, 14 May, 1944

We were up at 0600 hours for another early do but it was cancelled.  After waiting around we were finally released for the day.

Monday, 15 May, 1944

At 0930 hours the Squadron was off on an escort job to Douai.  While passing North of Lille, some Huns were sighted on an airfield.  The Winco, who was leading, sent Yellow Section down after one FW 190, which had just landed.  Chuck Thornton, who was leading the Section, gave the first burst followed by Bill Williams, Doug Orr and Tony Bryan.  The Hun plane was last seen burning but this was an expensive do as Chuck Thornton’s plane was badly hit resulting in Chuck having to bale out.  He was last seen heading for a nearby woods as fast as he could run.  We have lost, for the time being, one of the best-liked chaps of our Squadron, a real guy.  He will be back just like Dave Goldberg.  There was to have been a bombing do this afternoon but it was cancelled and the rest of the day was taken up with a little practice flying.

Tuesday, 16 May, 1944

We were up at 0430 hours with the Squadron, led by Hart Finley, taking off on an early morning fighter sweep by Marigny and St. Quentin.  Doug Orr had a squirt at a FW 190 on the ground and Hart led the other six down South of Paris to shoot at some army trucks.  A bombing show scheduled for the afternoon was cancelled so the Squadron Gunnery Officer, Poke Bryan, took over and we went down to the range for some practice.  A release came through for the Squadron so the gang headed for town.

Wednesday, 17 May, 1944

There was no flying as the weather was duff.  In the afternoon we had a short talk on escape procedures at Tangmere Intelligence.

Thursday, 18 May, 1944

There was no flying in the morning.  At 1255 hours, Doug Lindsay and some of the lads took off on a Ranger to see what could be found in the area of Paris.  No Huns planes were seen but a few trucks and D.R.s with sidecars as well as a couple of staff cars and a gas truck were pranged in good fashion.  F/L Andy MacKenzie, DFC, joined our Squadron today and took over as Commander of ‘A’ Flight.  At 1655 hours, a Ranger, led by Pete Logan, set off for France to see what could be found.  They returned with very little to report.  Another show scheduled for later was cancelled.

Friday, 19 May, 1944

‘A’ Flight got up at 0430 hours to go off on a Ranger led by Andy MacKenzie.  The six were airborne at 0540 hours.  Cloud conditions were bad over the continent; all they managed was to shoot up three trucks.  The rest of the morning was spent in practice flying.  There was no show in the afternoon but a Ranger, led by Pete Logan, took off at 1645 hours, first to Friston to refuel and then off from there at 1755 hours.  The boys swept around Paris.  Bill Williams sighted two FW 190s and the other section attacked.  Both Doug Lindsay and F/L Hodgson each got one.  The tragic part of this trip was the fact that F/O Smith, who was either hit by flak or one of the FW 190s, had to bale out over the Channel.  Pete Logan and Red Thompson circled and saw him go into the drink.  Unfortunately he was not seen to climb into his dinghy and, as of yet, no word has been heard of him.  Bill Myers left the Squadron to go to 414 Squadron today.

Saturday, 20 May, 1944

We started bombing again today.  The Squadron pranged a bridge just inside the French Coast with fair results.  At 1800 hours, the Squadron went on an escort job for Mitchells bombing Creil Aerodrome returning at 2000 hours.  Nothing exciting happened.

Sunday, 21 May, 1944

The Squadron set off at 0900 hours to go to Hawkinge to take part in a show.  There, the Squadrons were broken into sections of four and took off to prang any moving target in France.  Trains, staff cars, M.T. D.R.s were all shot up but unfortunately for us F/O Tommy Bryan was hit by flak well into France.  He was not seen to bale out but we all hope that he reached ground safely.  In the afternoon practice flying took place.  Pete Logan left today for an engine course.

Monday, 22 May, 1944

It was a release day for the Squadron today.  Practice flying filled in the hours of the morning and the afternoon.  At 1655 hours, a Ranger, led by Andy MacKenzie, set off to get a few more of the Huns for the Squadron.  The boys returned however with nothing to report.  Hart Finley left on a Fighter Leader’s Course today.

Tuesday, 23 May, 1944

At 0430 hours we were awakened and put on readiness.  A weather recco and a patrol helped to pass the early hours of the morning and, up until 2100 hours, the Squadron had at least two aircraft in the air continuously doing patrols off the coast.  Readiness ended at 2300 hours.

Wednesday, 24 May, 1944

This day started with a good fog that cleared later in the morning.  Air Marshall Conningham had a personal chat with the pilots and gave a short talk on what we are about to face.  We all feel that the day is almost upon us when we shall start to move eastwards.  Dakotas arrived at about 1400 hours and a practice loading was held.  At 1950 hours, the Squadron, led by F/O J. Preston with Doug Orr and Mac Gordon leading ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights respectively, did a dive bombing attack on a Noball target near Fruges.  We have four new members for the Squadron now.  WO J.A. L. Wilcocks, P/O K.F. Scott, F/O S.W.Smith and P/O J. Lanfranchi, all pilots.

Thursday, 25 May, 1944

The day started with a show scheduled that finally came off at 1100 hours.  The W/C Flying flew with our Squadron.  We were escort to Bostons that were bombing Nord Lille aerodrome.  It was an uneventful trip and the Squadron was back at 1310 hours.  We were released after the show due to weather.

Friday, 26 May, 1944

Today was a duff day and the pilots spent the morning at the dispersal.  A release was obtained for the Wing.  The pilots were called back from town for a talk given by Air Chief Marshall Leigh Mallory.  WO Sid Roth became our latest arrival.

Saturday, 27 May, 1944

Another day nearing the big event.  We all went to the dispersal at about 0900 hours and were told that there would be a briefing at 1030 hours.  The Squadron took off at about 1110 hours with the W/C leading our Squadron.  S/L Green of 416 Squadron also flew with us.  Our CO, S/L Buckham, returned due to engine trouble.  The show was an escort to Mitchells bombing Creil aerodrome.  It turned out to be another uneventful trip and the Squadron was back at 1310 hours.  In the evening, the Squadron, Led by F/L M Gordon with F/O Orr and F/L Brown leading sections bombed a Noball with fair results.  Five of our aircraft refuelled at Friston.

Sunday, 28 May, 1944

Shortly after 1100 hours, the Squadron went off on a sweep as far as the Paris area.  We were sweeping ahead of Forts going to bomb Western Germany.  F/L MacKenzie, DFC, led the Squadron.  After we passed into France ‘B’ Flight went cruising on the deck until all hell broke loose on them.  F/L Brown’s aircraft was badly hit.  His coup top was shot off and his tail was pretty well plastered.  In addition, his trim controls were knocked out.  We were all glad that he made it back to base.  At about 1515 hours, the Squadron again went on a sweep to the Brussels area.  There was no enemy action on this trip.

Monday, 29 May, 1944

Today was a very hot day.  The Squadron, led by F/L P Logan, took off for Deanland aerodrome where they were to bomb up for a show.  At 1200 hours, they took off to bomb a Noball Northeast of Neufchatel France.  At 1530 hours, we took over readiness for 126 Airfield who went on an operation.  As the aircraft were landing at Deanland, F/O Boyle ran into the tail of F/O S.W. Smith.  F/O Smith died several hours later in the hospital of shock.

Tuesday, 30 May, 1944

Today we did two bombing shows.  The first one was done at about 1200 hours, with F/L Lindsay leading the Squadron on an attack on a Noball target achieving pretty good results.  The leaders did a good job.  Our CO, S/L Buckham DFC & USA DFC, flew above to watch our performance.  The second show was led by F/O Orr.  This time they flew straight to their target, a RDF station on the French Coast and returned with a job well done.  F/O Preston flew above this time as observer.

Wednesday, 31 May 1944

The day started with quite some doubt as to whether or not the weather was good enough for a sweep.  However, we were briefed at 0930 hours and off at 0855 hours to do a fighter sweep in advance of a large number of Forts going in to bomb marshalling yards, etc.  Off the Coast we ran into thunderclouds and started to climb through.  S/L Buckham was forced to take violent evasive action while in cloud to avoid collision with an aircraft that zoomed up in front of him.  The fuselage of S/L Buckham’s aircraft was wrinkled as a result of this.  The Squadron returned to base due to the unfavourable weather.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of May 1944

RCAF        USA Personnel
No. of Officers – Flying    22    1
No. of Officers – Ground    2    Nil
No. of Airmen – Flying     3    1
No. of Airmen – Ground    2    1

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         759:50
Non-Operational:    145:25     (day)
Non-Operational:    Nil    (night)
Auster III:        _     29:20
Total    934:35

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     19 Spitfire Mk IX B
MK887    ML415    MJ348    MJ570    MJ988    MK306
MJ664    MH928    MK742    MK808    MK570    MJ238
MJ951    ML411    MJ886    NH235    ML420    NH196
MJ752

1 Auster III MZ 181

Our Casualties for the Month:       15-5-44 F/L C.P. Thornton – missing baled out
19-5-44 F/O R.H. Smith – missing baled out
21-5-44 F/O A.J.A. Bryan – missing thought to
have baled out
29-5-44 F/O S.W. Smith – died as a result of
flying accident

Enemy Casualties:             7-5-44 1 FW 190 damaged F/L Lindsay
7-5-44 1 ME 109 destroyed F/L Lindsay
7-5-44 1 FW 190 damaged F/O Hodgson
19-5-44 1 FW 190 destroyed F/L Lindsay
19-5-44 1 FW 190 destroyed F/L Hodgson

June 1944

Thursday, 1 June, 1944

There was very little flying done today, mostly practice flying and air tests.  The Squadron was released in the afternoon.

Friday, 2 June, 1944

Readiness was the order for the day and ‘A’ Flight was up at 0430 hours.  Pete Logan and Jim Wilcocks did a patrol.  A talk on close support was given by a RAF Squadron Leader this afternoon.  At 1700 hours, the Squadron took off on a sweep into France shooting up trains etc.  While attacking a train, F/L Hodgson, one of the old timers of the Squadron, developed engine trouble.  In an endeavour to bale out safely, ‘Hodge’ bunted his aircraft over and was last seen lying over the coupe top.  The aircraft was seen to crash and burn.  Later on in the evening, ‘B’ Flight again did readiness, which proved quite uneventful.  Tomorrow we move to Tangmere Mess.  D-day must be around the corner.

Saturday, 3 June, 1944

We moved into Tangmere Mess this morning; quite a nice place.  At 1315 hours, the Squadron, led by the CO, took off on a sweep into the Cherbourg area.  A train, a staff car and two trucks were shot up.  This was the only show for the day.

Sunday, 4 June, 1944

The big day must really be at hand because we woke up this morning to find that all of our kites had been painted with black and white stripes.  No flying at all today but we did have a ‘Gen’ talk by the Intelligence Officer pertaining to D-day.

Monday, 5 June, 1944

‘B’ Flight was on readiness at 0400 hours and at 0430 hours a section was on a sector recco over France.  Then, at about 1100 hours, two of the kites were scrambled and did a patrol.  No more flying was done for the rest of the day.  We certainly feel that great happenings are in the offing as tonight we are all confined to camp and sure enough we all attended a ‘Gen’ session with all of the pilots of 126 and 127 Airfields in the Mess at 126.  The long awaited big day is here at last.

Tuesday, 6 June, 1944

D-Day.  At about 0630 hours this morning, the Wing, including our Squadron was on its way.  And what a show, it was almost beyond description; boats of all shapes and sizes, destroyers standing off from the shore and pounding away at Hun positions and giving covering fire for the landings.  Our second show at 1200 hours was quite uneventful, no Huns were seen and our landing forces seemed to have made very definite progress.  Two more patrols finished off the day without a Hun being sighted.

Wednesday, 7 June, 1944

The day was much the same as yesterday, the first show awakened at 0330 hours and throughout the day we covered ‘Omaha’ beach.  The weather was poor with cloud based at 2,000 feet.  The Hun did come into the area and 126 Airfield had a good go, they got eight JU 88’s and four single-engined, three probable and one damaged.  We were sent after 20-plus FW 190s that were claimed to be in the area but nothing was actually seen.

Thursday, 8 June, 1944

Another day of patrols over the Beachhead and quite uneventful for us.  We did the last patrol of the day and then the weather became very dirty.  We had two men at readiness all day and they were scrambled but nothing was seen.

Friday, 9 June, 1944

Even the birds are walking today because of the dirty weather.  At about 2000 hours, we were on our way again on a patrol over the Beachhead.  The ceiling was down to about 800 feet and, as we came in over ‘Omaha’ Beach, our Navy let everything they have go at us.  We immediately got out of the way and called ‘Research’ who told us to come in again, as it would be all right this time.  So in we went again, this time flying line astern and with our navigation lights on, but still those trigger twitchy guys of the Navy let us have it a second time.  Those guys must really be blind because, of all the aircraft that they have seen the most of, it certainly is the Spit. So away we go again, giving ‘Research’ hell and prepare for a third go.  Sure enough the Navy cuts loose with everything that they have for a third time, hitting four of our kites and causing F/L Williams aircraft to disappear, nothing more being seen of him.  F/O Kelly was slightly wounded but managed to land his aircraft safely at Tangmere and taxing over to the ambulance at Flying Control.  F/O Thompson and F/O Shapter’s aircraft were hit but the pilots themselves were uninjured.

Saturday, 10 June, 1944

Today we carried out patrols over the Beachhead much the same as yesterday.  On our second show, Yellow Section ran into quite a bit of flak and red tennis balls a few miles West of Caen.  F/O W.H. Rhodes’ aircraft was hit on the starboard wing by cannon and had to return to base.  Nothing exciting to report on our trips other than we are glad to see our landing strips getting into shape.  126 Airfield landed over there today.  Two new NCO pilots reported in today, Steve Butte and Ron Forsyth.

Sunday, 11 June, 1944

We were up again at 0330 hours.  We were briefed at 0600 hours and a coin was tossed to see which Squadron would remain here on readiness.  We won so we went on the show and made the first landings for the Squadron on 126’s Airstrip in France after patrolling for two hours and twenty minutes.  We all returned with plenty of French soil on us as the landing strip was like a duststorm.  At 1410 hours, the Squadron was off on another patrol.  F/L Andy MacKenzie was hit by flak near the American landing strip in the Utah area and managed to get his kite down safely, making a successful belly landing on the strip.  We didn’t do another show and were on readiness for the remainder of the day.

Monday, 12 June, 1944

We were up at 0330 hours again and off on patrol at 0630 hours.  It was an uneventful trip.  Another patrol was flown and a two-man patrol over a convoy off of Shoreham finished off the day.  F/O J Preston left us today for a rest.  Jim has finished a tour of Ops and was one of the oldest members of the Squadron.  Another patrol over ‘Omaha’ beach came up.  It was led by the Winco and proved to be uneventful.

Tuesday, 13 June, 1944

No flying today as the weather kept us on the ground.  However, 416 and 421 Squadrons did manage to get up and do a patrol over the Beachhead.  What we consider the biggest tragedy to hit us yet occurred on this patrol.  Our Winco, W/C L.V. Chadburn DSO and bar DFC, collided with F/L F.C. Clark and both were killed.  We have indeed lost a great leader and also a great friend.  F/O Bob Lawlor joined our Squadron today hailing from the Honeymoon City back home.

Wednesday, 14 June, 1944

The Squadron did a sweep in the morning around the Paris area but still had no luck.  We spent the rest of the day on standby at 126 airstrip.  Then, in the evening, we did another sweep, this time in the area of Evreux West of Paris and still with no luck.  WO Roth, one of our new chaps, went missing.  The last was heard of him when he called saying that he was having engine trouble 10 miles West of Le Harve.  The best news of the day was that our CO, S/L R.A. Buckham DFC, is to take over as the new Winco and has been upped in rank to Wing Commander.  Good luck Winco Buckham from all of the boys in 403.

Thursday, 15 June, 1941

There was the customary patrol early in the morning over the Beachhead, which was uneventful.  We were all very surprised to see KH-T, with WO Sid Roth flying it, land at 1100 hours at Tangmere.  He had spent the night on the landing strip in France.  We did the evening show and had as our patrol the Western Section.  421 Squadron was flying to the East and had a real fight.  They were vectored onto about 30 Huns FW 190s and ME 109s.  The got nine destroyed, one probable and two damaged which was an excellent job.  F/O Reeves of our Squadron had to bale out due to engine trouble while on our patrol and he was seen to land safely by parachute in France.  We all joined with 421 Squadron in the mess to celebrate their victory.

Friday, 16 June, 1944

Today we did two convoy patrols.  We escorted a Cruiser to the Beachhead, which proved to be an uneventful patrol.  Today we saw an Air Lift Party, including the Squadron Adjutant, F/O A Birchnall, the Clerk, Cpl W Codern, our technical Sgt, Sgt S.G. Williams and the remainder of the Wing HQ personnel that were left behind to service our aircraft, leave for France in a flight of ten Dakotas which took off from RAF Tangmere at 1415 hours.  When we joined them on Landing Strip B.2 near Crepon France, we learned that they had an uneventful trip.  Our new CO, S/L E.P. Wood, arrived from 402 Squadron today.  The Squadron’s Spitfires landed at B.2 at about 2200 hours.  We spent the night with five to six to a tent with just a small visit from the Hun.

Saturday, 17 June, 1944

The boys really went on the scrounge today.  German booty first arrived in the form of two horses ridden by F/L H.R. Finley and F/L A.R. MacKenzie.  Quite a lot of laughs were provided by F/O J.D. Orr and WO1 A.B. Clenard for their attempt to ride these two beautiful German horses.  ‘A’ Flight took over readiness shortly after 1800 hours.  At about 1900 hours, we were scrambled.  F/O W.H. Rhodes was bounced by two Huns from out of the sun.  He broke hard but was hit on the starboard wing.  He managed to damage one of the Huns in the fight that followed.  WO1 Clenard took off on this scramble but did not return to the landing strip and he has been classified as missing.  We learned today that F/O Reeves who was previously reported as having baled out safely, is back at Tangmere after being taken across the Channel on a Destroyer.

Sunday, 18 June, 1944

Sunday – a day of rest.  That was the way that most of our day was spent, that is as far as flying was concerned.  Some say the reason was due to the fact that we had no bombs and that we shall soon be doing close support for the Army.  Much was done today for self defence as the sleeves were rolled up and the pick and shovel were used for making trenches.  F/L C.T. Brown and P/O R.J. Lawlor were picked to go to England to bring over replacement aircraft.  The Squadron went off on a short sweep with 416 Squadron at 2115 hours and had no encounter with the enemy.  Shortly before that sweep, four of our pilots led by F/L Lindsay and F/O Orr did a recco job.  At 2145 hours, WO Clenard returned to the Squadron, much to the surprise of everyone concerned.  We were all certainly glad to see him again but he really had a tough time of it.  His engine blew up over the Hun lines and he had to crash land.  He was challenged by the Hun and was the subject of some machine-gun fire.  He managed to reach our lines where he was given medical treatment and was driven back to our airfield.  F/O Rhodes has been officially credited with one FW 190 damaged.

Monday, 19 June, 1944

The Squadron was on readiness at first light today and, while riding down to dispersal in the jeep, a roar was heard.  Out of the low cloud and pouring rain came a FW 190 less than 100 feet off of the deck.  The fellows flattened out on the ground even before the jeep stopped.  A few seconds later two explosions shattered the peace that turned out to be parachute anti-personnel bombs.  None of the boys were hurt.  Our Squadron came off readiness shortly after 1300 hours.  This has been the wettest day since arriving and there was very little flying of any kind done today.

Tuesday, 20 June, 1944

Last night Jerry came over again and disturbed our peace yet nothing landed dangerously close.  No operations were planned for today as again there were low clouds and it was more like fall weather.  Our Squadron was on readiness commencing 1330 hours.  F/O Doug Orr and F/S Butte were scrambled but saw nothing.  F/L C.T. Brown and P/O R.J. Lawlor returned today with replacement aircraft from England.  F/O R.L. Reeves came back to us today and WO1 A.B. Clenard has returned to England so that he can get over his narrow escape.  A new pilot, F/O K. Oliver reported in today.  At about 2230 hours we were released from readiness and so we returned to our tents, had a snack and went to bed to await Jerry’s visit.

Wednesday, 21 June, 1944

It was another lousy day with low cloud and a gusty wind.  No flying was done by the Squadron.  It gave the pilots a well-deserved rest and a chance to relax a little.

Thursday, 22 June, 1944

The Squadron pilots were up early to go on readiness.  This state lasted till shortly after 1300 hours when the Squadron was relieved.  There were two shows done today.  The first one was cover to 412 Squadron who were to do some dive-bombing.  This sweep was uneventful.  On the second show, our Squadron went to bomb a woods in which an ammunition dump was reported to be.  We had hits in the target area but little happened.  P/O Scott had a hang up and when his bombs finally released, they landed in the woods.  A terrific flame and grey smoke filled the sky so perhaps our do was more profitable than we realized.  On the way home, a staff car was shot up.  The exciting feature of the day was watching the crew of a fortress bail-out after their kite had been hit by flak over Caen.  Their aircraft flew for awhile making a large spiral then suddenly the wing broke and the aircraft went into a couple of rolls and crashed with plenty of flame and smoke Northeast of us.  One of the crew arrived safely at our airfield.  Another sight was that of Marauders bombing some target near Caen.  They had all hell thrown up at them and one was seen to go down in flames.  Another was smoking but the crew managed ok.  Yes, we are sure getting nearer to real war.

Friday, 23 June, 1944

Another day of readiness for us.  The big event of the day took place when we were off on patrols.  ‘A’ Flight went to the western section and ‘B’ Flight took the east of Caen.  ‘B’ Flight, with five aircraft, ran into about 15 FW 190s coming head on and slightly below.  They were bombed up and so were up to no good.  They both broke about the same time and the scrap was on.  F/L P. Logan and F/L M.J. Gordon both got a destroyed and a damaged each and F/O K. Oliver, a newcomer to the Squadron got a damaged.

Saturday, 24 June, 1944

Today was a rather restful day for us.  We were able to get a few extra sleeping hours in the morning.  After lunch, we were on 30 minutes notice so we spent the time at Intelligence waiting for a show to come up.  About 1900 hours, we did a dive bombing show with delayed action bombs.  F/O Rhodes left for England to bring back an Auster.  F/O Greene flew a Spitfire to England to deliver secret documents.

Sunday, 25 June, 1944

F/O Rhodes flew an Auster V to France for our Squadron.  The Squadron was supposed to be off for the afternoon but patrols from England became grounded so we were called to readiness.  In the morning, a long fighter sweep and escort to Mustangs around Paris took place without any excitement.  Two flights did independent bombing shows.  The Army laid some smoke and we pranged the spots from which the smoke was coming.  In the afternoon, some of the fellows went into town.

Monday, 26 June, 1944

We were up around 0500 hours to go on our early morning armed recce.  The Squadron was off at 0615 hours in what was typical Hun weather.  We shot up a truck and didn’t see much else until F/L Finley spotted a gaggle of ME 109s.  We got into them and would have done the Squadron proud had not the cloud conditions favoured the enemy.  F/O Orr destroyed 1 ME 109 and damaged another.  F/O Rhodes also scored a destroyed and a damaged.  F/O Nadon also destroyed a ME 109.  A little later in the morning, the Squadron was off again and ran into FW 190s and ME 109s.  F/L Lindsay scored a ME 109 damaged.  The afternoon was spent on readiness, which meant doing beach patrols as the ADGB boys were grounded by weather.

Tuesday, 27 June, 1944

The Squadron was up again very early and went on a bombing show. They pranged, with very excellent results, some enemy gun position enabling the Army to advance West of Caen without great difficulty.  Most of the day was spent by the pilots waiting at Intelligence for the next show.

Wednesday, 28 June, 1944

F/O Rhodes, the officer who up to this point has been writing the diary, was reported missing after an early morning do today.  He was last seen chasing an enemy aircraft deep into France.  He ran out of petrol and force landed in a field in enemy territory.  F/L A.R. MacKenzie got his fourth enemy aircraft on this same patrol.  On the second patrol, F/O J. Lanfranchi’s engine packed up over enemy territory, he said he was bailing out but cloud obscured any confirmation of this statement.  The rest of the day settled down to the old routine of readiness and uneventful patrols.

Thursday, 29 June, 1944

F/L J.D. Lindsay destroyed another German aircraft today but not before the Jerry had shot down WO2 R.C. Shannon.  However, WO2 Shannon was seen to bail out so we are all hoping that he makes it back to us okay.  F/O Lawlor has gone back to England non-effective sick.  He has been having trouble with his eyes.  We wish him all the best of luck and hope that he may be able to rejoin us at a later date.

Friday, 30 June, 1944

F/L C.T. Brown returned from England today after being on a Court of Inquiry.  F/S W.J. Hill and P/O K. Scott returned from England today with new Spitfires for our Unit.  F/L Commerford and F/O Tomlinson reported to the Squadron today.  F/O Orr destroyed a Jerry aircraft today; outside of that our flying for the day was uneventful.  A Thunderstorm battered the balloons, which are flying from the ships along the beach, and one of them was seen to fall in flames after being struck by lightning.  The health of the Squadron remains very good.  There have been no admissions to the hospital.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of June 1944

RCAF        USA Personnel    RAF
No. of Officers – Flying    19    Nil    Nil
No. of Officers – Ground    2    Nil    Nil
No. of Airmen – Flying    5    Nil    Nil
No. of Airmen – Ground    2    1        2

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         1002:40
Non-Operational:    78:10     (day)
Non-Operational:    Nil    (night)
Auster III:        _     7:35
Total    1088:25

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     17 Spitfire Mk IX B
ML180    MK780    MK693    NH265    ML420    MJ752
MJ237    MK859    MJ187    MJ664    ML411    MK730
MJ550    ML415    NH232    MK964    MK881

1 Auster III MJ 667

Our Casualties for the Month:       2-6-44 F/L J. Hodgson – missing
9-6-44 F/L E.C. Williams – missing
9-6-44 F/O E.D. Kelley – slightly wounded
15-6-44 F/O R.E. Reeves – missing – returned
to Unit 17-6-44 uninjured.
17-6-44 W/O A.B. Clenard missing – returned
to Unit slightly injured
28-6-44 F/O W.H. Rhodes – missing
28-6-44 F/O J. Lanfranchi – missing
29-6-44 W/O R.C. Shannon – missing

Enemy Casualties:         17-6-44 1 FW 190 damaged by F/O W.H. Rhodes
23-6-44 1 FW 190 destroyed by F/L P. Logan
23-6-44 1 FW 190 destroyed by F/L M.J. Gordon
23-6-44 3 FW 190 damaged each by F/L M.J. Gordon,
F/O Oliver and F/L Logan (1 each)
26-6-44 3 ME 109 destroyed by F/O W.H. Rhodes,
F/O J.D. Orr, F/O G.R. Nadon (1 each)
26-6-44 2 ME 109 damaged by F/O W.H. Rhodes,
F/O J.D. Orr (1 each)
26-6-44 2 ME 109 damaged by F/L J.D. Lindsay
28-6-44 1 FW 190 destroyed by F/L A.R. MacKenzie
29-6-44 1 FW 190 destroyed by F/L J.D. Lindsay
30-6-44 1 ME 109 damaged by F/L H.R. Finley
3-6-44 1 ME 109 destroyed by F/O J.D. Orr

August 1944

Tuesday, 1 August, 1944

The day started with very poor visibility.  Consequently no show took place until about 1800 hours when we did a strafe in the Vir area, which was quite successful with about ten trucks damaged or destroyed.

Wednesday, 2 August, 1944

The days work consisted of patrols from noon until dusk – no excitement.

Thursday, 3 August, 1944

Frontline patrols took place from dawn until noon.  At about 1730 hours, we did an armed recce in the Bernai-Liagle-Argentan area with ‘A’ Flight carrying bombs.  Just West of Liagle, in poor visibility, about 20 plus ME 109s went under us.  At full boost Doug Lindsay was able to get one destroyed and one damaged but no one else could catch the enemy.  This was Doug’s last rip as his first tour was completed today.  A real way to finish a tour it was.

Friday, 4 August, 1944

Only one trip today, top cover to bombers attacking a target North of Vire.  It was very uneventful.

Saturday, 5 August, 1944

The Visibility was terrible this morning but we finally managed to get airborne on an armed recce at about 1730 hours.  We ran into quite a bit of flak – WO Wilcox had to crash land at a forward area.  F/O Earle, up to the time of this writing, has not yet returned and from all accounts it is feared that he’s had it.

Sunday, 6 August, 1944

The visibility was poor again this morning but we carried on with front line patrols and ran into some heavy flak near Thury-Harcourt area.  WO Wilcocks showed up today none the worse for his experience of yesterday.

Monday, 7 August, 1944

Two armed recces summed up our total effort for today.  We shot up some Jerry transport on the first do and carried bombs on the second.

Tuesday, 8 August, 1944

Three more armed recces with bombs were flown today which was quite a change from the usual front line patrols.  Today was the Adjutant’s birthday and for good measure he was orderly officer.  What a birthday present.

Wednesday, 9 August, 1944

More armed recces with bombs were flown today.  We are getting in lots of bombing these days and the old Hun is taking quite a beating.

Thursday, 10 August, 1944

The usual armed recces today with bombs before finishing off with a front line patrol.

Friday, 11 August, 1944

Bad weather today prevented us from doing much flying outside of a search for a dinghy in the Channel.  The remainder of the day was spent between playing Bridge and catching up on writing letters.

Saturday, 12 August, 1944

Two armed recces and a bombing do completed our flying effort for today.  Even though we’re getting old Jerry into a trap we still don’t see much of his transport on the roads.

Sunday, 13 August, 1944

Two armed recces and lots of Jerry transport on the roads, which we promptly shot up.

Monday, 14 August, 1944

Poor effort today with only one do but soon we’ll be working to beat mad once we get Jerry where we want him in this trap.

Tuesday, 15 August, 1944

Visibility was bad this morning but at noon we started on low patrols and did seven before a bad electrical storm stopped all flying for the day.

Wednesday, 16 August, 1944

Poor visibility again this morning but at about 1800 hours we got off on an armed recce. We didn’t find much MET but we did shoot up what we did see.

Thursday, 17 August, 1944

Three armed recces today and a black day for us.  On the first armed recce we lost F/O Weber, a newcomer to the Squadron whom we saw bale out and on the second we lost F/O Boyle, a second tour type, an old-timer of the Squadron and a darned good type.  We also lost F/O Garland on the second recce, a newcomer, all to Jerry flak.

Friday, 18 August, 1944

Five armed recces today and we almost lost another pilot who was fortunately able to crash land on another strip.  Old Jerry may not have any kites to put up against us but he certainly has lots of flak.

Saturday, 19 August, 1944

The Squadron handled defensive readiness state all day.  Towards the night, it looked as if the weather was going to break after the long stretch of really grand weather that we have been having.

Sunday, 20 August, 1944

After getting up at 0515 hours, we finally managed to get airborne at 0830 hours in bad cloud conditions.  We were fortunate to find some MET and tanks in a clear spot near Bernai and scored 27 flamers, smokers and damaged inclusive.  F/L Doug Orr is acting CO at present while the CO is away on leave.

Monday, 21 August, 1944

It poured rain all day so we took the opportunity to catch-up on sleeping and letter writing.

Tuesday, 22 August, 1944

Patrols till noon and then a couple of armed recces that didn’t have much joy.  WO Shannon, who was reported as missing on June 29th, returned to the Unit today having just been liberated by the Yanks in the Town in which he had been hiding.  He looked a typical French peasant in his baggy striped pants and he seemed very glad to get back to the gang again.

Wednesday, 23 August, 1944

Today of all days we had to miss out on a darned good show in which about 80 plus MEs were encountered.  The two Squadrons that did tangle with them put up a good fight destroying three for the loss of three, taking into consideration the number of Jerrys encountered.

Thursday, 24 August, 1944

One armed recce of 12 Spits was our total effort today on which we set fire to some more of Jerry’s transport.  Popular rumour has it that we are to move soon to a new location that is closer to the front.  We hope it is somewhere near Paris.

Friday, 25 August, 1944

The good old milk run of the front lines today for a change which was mostly four-man patrols.  This rumour of a move near Paris gets stronger so there must be some strength in it.

Saturday, 26 August, 1944

A very uneventful day was passed today; one armed recce with not much seen.  Most of the boys, in their spare time, are dashing about buying perfume and cosmetics to take back to Canada and by the look and smell of some of the stuff they are getting, it’s really the ‘gen’ stuff.

Sunday, 27 August, 1944

The story of the move is that we are to be ready to move tomorrow to a place called Hillier L’Evque, which is near Dreux or about 50 miles from Paris.  All of the boys are itching to get there.

Monday, 28 August, 1944

And so we move.  All of the boys flew their kites down to the new location; the ground crews are coming by road.  We find ourselves at a former Jerry Airfield; quite a fair place.  The airfield itself is quite an improvement over our former landing strip at Crepon, having a concrete perimeter track but the strip itself is only a grass strip about 600 yards long.  On the way down by road, some of the ground types remarked on what a job that had been done to the Jerry transport.  They said there were vehicles and tanks of all descriptions lying in the ditches burnt out and wrecked beyond repair.  The unfortunate part of the whole day was on an armed recce this afternoon when, while attacking some Jerry transport, WO Soules was hit by flak and was last seen heading upside down towards the deck.  Milt Soules was a comparative newcomer to the Squadron and a damned good chap.

Tuesday, 29 August, 1944

It rained all day, which prevented us from flying.  Most of the chaps spent the day hiking to different little towns and villages near here, some of the more venturesome types set out to hike to Paris.

Wednesday, 30 August, 1944

Another duff day, so quite a number of the boys decided to get into Paris.  The lads who went to Paris yesterday came back loaded down with perfume, cosmetics and glowing tales of the welcome extended to them by the Parisians.  It must be some place – guess I’ll have a go getting there in a couple of days.

Thursday, 31 August, 1944

Today we got off to a better start with three armed recces but the Army is moving so fast and far that they are almost out of our range already.  The health of the Squadron has remained at it’s same high level for this month.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of August 1944

RCAF        USA Personnel    RAF
No. of Officers – Flying    20    Nil    Nil
No. of Officers – Ground    3    Nil    Nil
No. of Airmen – Flying    5    Nil    Nil
No. of Airmen – Ground    9    1        2

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         866:15
Non-Operational:    48:55     (day)
Non-Operational:    Nil    (night)
Auster III:        _     Nil
Total    915:10

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     20 Spitfire Mk IX B
ML262    ML177    MJ953    MJ237    MK730    MK918
ML156    PL276    MK628    NH263    ML411    MJ955
MJ664    ML129    MK695    MJ752    MK564    MJ187
MH779    NH175

1 Auster III MJ 667

Our Casualties for the Month:       F/O J.W.B. Earle Missing 5-8-44
WO1 J.A.L. Wilcocks Slightly injured 5-8-44
F/O M.D. Garland Missing 17-8-44
F/O R.B. Weber Missing 17-8-44
(later reported safe)
F/O H.V. Boyle Missing 17-8-44
WO1 M.E. Soules Missing 28-8-44

Enemy Casualties:         1 ME 109 Destroyed, 1 ME 109 Damaged
F/L Lindsay 3-8-44
1 FW 190 Destroyed F/L Orr 28-8-44

November 1944

Wednesday, 1 November, 1944

After getting nicely settled in to our billets, we hear that we will be moving again very shortly to a neighbouring airfield.  So that means packing up and getting things organized again.

Thursday, 2 November, 1944

We are really getting in some 3-ton truck time in these last days.  Everything is so far dispersed, between the billets, mess and dispersal, that we spend quite a lot of time just getting around.

Friday, 3 November, 1944

Well after a great deal of flap and talk, we moved to our new airfield today and now we are more dispersed than ever before.  Not very much flying these days, just the odd cover for Mitchells as duff weather precludes much flying.

Saturday, 4 November, 1944

Our new billet is really good.  It is situated in a modern house on the outskirts of Brussels and we really intend to make a real place of it.  We are going to set up a bar, scrounge some furniture and make our home there until further notice, which we hope, won’t happen for quite some time.

Sunday, 5 November, 1944

After our experiences in Holland, Brussels seems like paradise, being able to hop in there every night after working hours and have a good time and last but not least a hot bath.

Monday, 6 November, 1944

It seems as if this place is ‘Fly-bomb alley’, we hear them go over at all times of the day and night.  There is generally a rush to the windows if one is heard to see if one can see it.  After seeing some of them shot down by the ack-ack boys and feeling the blast of the explosion, we’re quite happy to see them pass over our heads and continue on their way.

Tuesday, 7 November, 1944

It gets more like winter every day; we certainly don’t envy the boys up front out in weather like this.  Rumour has it that we’re going to have a house warming party this coming Monday night and a party for the ‘Erks’ the following Friday.

Wednesday, 8 November, 1944

Dirty weather prevented us from flying today and it’s darn cold out too.  It has been raining and snowing alternately all day.

Thursday, 9 November, 1944

We finally managed to get off on an escort job today, but it was damn cold.  We escorted the plane conveying the Grand Duke of Luxembourg up to Luxembourg Airfield.  Talk about rain and mud; we had quite a time getting down on the field and a much worse time getting off.

Friday, 10 November, 1944

Dirty weather again was responsible for calling off a show again today, so the time was spent playing Bridge and scrounging furniture and things for our new home.

Saturday, 11 November, 1944

We really got into some heavy flak today while on two escort jobs over the Rhur Valley, or as it is better known ‘Happy Valley’.  Now we now what the bombers boys have been going through.

Sunday, 12 November, 1944

Everybody is in a flap rushing around getting things set for our house warming party to be held at our new billets tomorrow night.  So far we’ve managed to scrounge a goodly supply of liquor and we also hope to be able to get some eats for the night.

Monday, 13 November, 1944

What a party, there isn’t a sober person present at nine o’clock and the night is still young.  I can see some big heads in the morning and also the party carrying on until morning.

Tuesday, 14 November, 1944

We were supposed to go off on a leaflet dropping effort this afternoon but due to dirty weather we were unable to get off.  Perhaps it’s just as well because a lot of the boys are still suffering from the effects of last night, which was really a bang-up party.

Wednesday, 15 November, 1944

There was no flying again today because of dirty weather.  If this keeps up it’s going to take an awful long time for some of the boys to finish a tour of Ops.  As usual, the boys headed for their favorite hang-out after working hours, namely the local pub near the billets and spent the evening playing cards and drinking.

Thursday, 16 November, 1944

Same thing today with dirty weather and no flying, so we spent the day in the mess in a state of readiness in case the weather let up enough to get some patrols off.

Friday, 17 November, 1944

Finally we managed to get off in a couple of patrols this morning before the weather closed in again.  Both patrols turned out to be very uneventful despite intense flak.

Saturday, 18 November, 1944

One patrol and one leaflet dropping effort was the sum total of our flying today.  After work a bunch of the lads got together for the inevitable crap games and bridge while others headed for the local.

Sunday, 19 November, 1944

Things are buzzing with activity as the party for the Squadron ‘Erks’ draws closer.  The date has been set for this coming Wednesday at a local dance hall which, at present, has been taken over by the Royal Canadian Legion.  It is expected to be a gala affair as it’s been quite some time since the pilots and the ‘Erks’ have gotten together for a binge.

Monday, 20 November, 1944

No flying today as the weather has been against us.  The day was spent playing bridge in the mess, writing letters and the odd few jobs that needed to be done around the billet were taken care of.

Tuesday, 21 November, 1944

Everything is all set for the big party tomorrow night.  I hope that it comes up to our expectations and the ‘Erks’ have a good time.  Patrols were the flying effort put in today and very uneventful they were too.

Wednesday, 22 November, 1944

Well tonight is the night for the big party; all of the boys are getting shined p in anticipation of making good impressions on some of the Belgian girls who will be there and others are getting all set for a good binge.

Thursday, 23 November, 1944

What heads some of the lads have this morning and what a time they had last night.  There were bags of beer, eats, women and a good time was had by all.

Friday, 24 November, 1944

After raining incessantly all day which, prevented us from flying, we finally got back to the billets and decided to get a good nights sleep to make up for the lack of one the night before.

Saturday, 25 November, 1944

Today saw three of the old-timers of the Squadron finish their Tour.  This included our CO, S/L Wood, who has now finished two tours of Ops, F/L Orr, ‘B’ Flight Commander, and F/L Hill, the 2i/c for ‘A’ Flight.

Sunday, 26 November, 1944

Our new CO, S/L Collier, formerly ‘A’ Flight Commander, took over his new duties and this choice has the approval of all of the boys as we feel that Jim Collier will make a good CO.  F/L Reeves assumes the duties of ‘A’ Flight Commander while ‘Cap’ Foster of 421 Squadron takes over the duties of ‘B’ Flight Commander.  ‘Cap’, by the way, did his first tour with 403 Squadron.

Monday, 27 November, 1944

Rumour has it that we will be going to England soon to re-equip with Spitfire Mk XVIs.  Good Show.  We can hardly wait to get our hands on those new kites.  A party is in the offing for our former CO, S/L Wood, before he leaves for England.

Tuesday, 28 November, 1944

Two patrols of six kites; each was the sum total flying effort today and very uneventful as nothing was seen.  The weather for the remainder of the day made flying impossible and this resulted in the usual Bridge games in the mess to pass the time away.

Wednesday, 29 November, 1944

The usual front line patrols again today, which were uneventful.  On Saturday we go to England to pick up our new kites.

Thursday, 30 November, 1944

Tomorrow night is a big night again, this time a party for the former CO and it sounds as if it’s going to be a gala affair according to all reports and by the amount of liquor being bought for the said do.  The health of the Squadron remains at its same high level.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of November 1944

RCAF        USA Personnel        RAF
No. of Officers – Flying    24    Nil    Nil
No. of Officers – Ground    2    Nil    Nil
No. of Airmen – Flying    3    Nil    Nil
No. of Airmen – Ground    11    1        2

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         303:25
Non-Operational:    11:55     (day)
Non-Operational:    Nil    (night)
Auster III:        _     Nil
Total    315:20

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     17 Spitfire Mk IX B
ML177    MJ387    MK628    NK315    NH263    NH758
MJ444    MJ664    MK228    MK251    MK695    MJ752
MH486    MK764    MK947    MJ187    MJ388

Our Casualties for the Month: Nil
Enemy Casualties: Nil

December 1944

Friday, 1 December, 1944

All the boys are excited today.  We are leaving for England to pick up our new kites and we are anxious to find out what they are like.  It’s a pretty sure guess that we’ll be the first Canadian Fighter Squadron to be equipped with these brand new Spitters.

Saturday, 2 December, 1944

Some of the lads left for England yesterday afternoon and the remainder leave today.  We don’t expect to get back Sunday as it will be a good chance to have a good thrash with all the boys together in England for the first time since October.

Sunday, 3 December, 1944

The lads are still away in England.  The place seems sort of deserted now.

Monday, 4 December, 1944

The Squadron came back today and from all reports, the new Spitfires are about the best in anything.  The next thing now is to try them out on ops.  With their improved armament they should be able to blast anything out of the sky in short order.

Tuesday, 5 December, 1944

A show was scheduled for today to try out our new kites but owing to duff weather it was impossible to do.  It will be quite a do and a bad day for Jerry if the boys ever get after him, as they are just raring to go.

Wednesday, 6 December, 1944

No entry.

Thursday, 7 December, 1944

Today saw another veteran of 403 Squadron finish a tour.  F/O Bob Greene has been with the Squadron almost as long as the Adj and he’s been here a hell of a long time.  Good luck Bob and lets see you back with us again for another go at thrashing the Hun in the Western skies.

Friday, 8 December, 1944

First blood to the new Spitfires fell to the guns of F/L Foster, who blasted a ME109 out of the sky in short order this afternoon while on a sweep over Munster.  The other boys got themselves a few trains and transport.  Let’s go 403.

Saturday, 9 December, 1944

After a good show yesterday when we did get into the Hun, duff weather made flying impossible today.  After sitting around in the mess for a while, we were finally released and most of the lads headed for their favourite haunts.

Sunday, 10 December, 1944

We did two shows today and, on returning from the first one, we shot up anything and everything that was moving and also shot up a large factory in the vicinity of Enschede.  We hugged the deck all of the way back to base.  Both sweeps were uneventful.

Monday, 11 December, 1944

Today was to start out with a sweep in the Munster area but the weather made it an abortive effort so we returned to base and sat around for the rest of the day playing the inevitable games of bridge.

Tuesday, 12 December, 1944

The only show today was a two-aircraft escort for a VIP to B78.  The weather, as usual, made further flying impossible.  We played host to a couple of Mustang boys who were forced down at our airfield.  They had been mixing it with Jerry and one of them, F/O Edwards, shot down two ME 109s and damaged a further two.

Wednesday, 13 December, 1944

We welcomed our new Doc to the Squadron today, F/L ‘George’ Carson, who is replacing F/L ‘Doc’ Munroe who left us quite some time ago to go back to England.  Doc Carson hails from Kingston Ontario and, like his predecessor, is a very welcome addition to the Squadron.

Thursday, 14 December, 1944

Duff weather prevented any flying today.  Later in the afternoon, the boys were released for the day and some of them went into town for dinner and a spot of dancing.

Friday, 15 December, 1944

One Fighter sweep of the Rhine area was all of the flying we did today; it proved to be very uneventful and the weather closed in again after we landed.

Saturday, 16 December, 1944

We welcomed another second tour type to the Squadron today, F/O Jack McLeod.  Jack did his first tour with a sister Squadron of the airfield, namely 416 Squadron and, after having a spot of leave at home, returned to our Squadron for his second go at thrashing the Hun in the western skies.  Duff weather prevented us from flying again.

Sunday, 17 December, 1944

What weather, still no flying again today.  Oh for some of the glorious weather we had back in the days when everyone used to give us the date as ‘D Day’ plus something.  This sitting around waiting for good weather is getting rather monotonous.

Monday, 18 December, 1944

The weather cleared sufficiently enough for us to do two patrols today, both of which proved very uneventful.  Evidently the Hun has heard that the “wolf’ Squadron has been equipped with the new type Spitters and is afraid to come up and fight it out.  One good day at Jerry’s kites and the whole Luftwaffe would have to quit.

Tuesday, 19 December, 1944

It’s so foggy out today that even the birds are walking or, at the very least, getting homings.  The fog shows no signs of lifting so there won’t be any flying today.  Good news!  We are going again to England on a dive-bombing course, the sign of things to come.  This time, both the Adj and his clerk are coming with us.  It’ll be the first time off the continent for both of them since arriving here on ‘D Day’ plus 10.

Wednesday, 20 December, 1944

And still the fog persists, no flying once again today.  We spent the day in the mess playing bridge and other card games.  In the evening, some of the brighter sparks of the Squadron went down to town for a little excitement.

Thursday, 21 December, 1944

And here we are still sitting around waiting for the fog to clear and thinking of Christmas which is only four days away.  We’ve got another party planned for Xmas eve.  We wish we could be home for this one but then, in all probability, we will be home for the next and what a time we will have.

Friday, 22 December, 1944

It’s still as foggy as ever and again no flying was done today.  The day was spent playing the inevitable bridge games and some of the brighter spirits went off on a search for spirits for the Xmas eve do.

Saturday, 23 December, 1944

The fog lifted today for the first time in three days and enabled us to get off on a couple of shows which were welcomed by one and all after sitting around for so long.

Sunday, 24 December, 1944

Here it is the day before Xmas.  We managed to get off on a couple of efforts today, the weather being ideal except for a slight ground haze.  Both trips proved to be very uneventful.  After a few drinks in the Mess the lads all departed to their various places of amusement for the evening as the party planned for this evening has been postponed.

Monday, 25 December, 1944

Christmas day and what a day of excitement for this Squadron.  First of all there was the entertainment in the Mess of all of the Senior NCOs then the helping to serve the Airmen’s Christmas Dinner.  Lastly, but by no means the least, our C/O, S/L Collier, destroyed a ME 262 while on a patrol this afternoon.  Quite an Xmas present.  We are not bragging any either but we are almost sure that this is the first Jet Job to be shot down in single combat by any Squadron.  Other ‘Jet Jobs’ have been shot down previously but through the combined efforts of a number of planes and this one was shot done by the CO in a single effort.

Tuesday, 26 December, 1944

The day after Xmas and there are quite a few thick heads around today, but the bigger part of the pilots really did not do much celebrating as they had to be on deck for any show that may come up so most of them contented themselves with a few drinks and an early night.

Wednesday, 27 December, 1944

Tomorrow we were scheduled to leave for England on a dive-bombing course but word was received today that it has been postponed until 3rd January 1945.  Quite a lot of disappointment was created by this news as a lot of the boys were hoping to be able to spend New Years Eve in England.

Thursday, 28 December, 1944

Ground fog and ice kept us on the ground all day.  The day was spent in playing bridge and waiting for the fog to lift but it seemed to get heavier than ever in the late afternoon.  It was so thick that it was impossible to ride home in the truck and everyone had to walk.

Friday, 29 December, 1944

There was heavy fog again this morning but by midday it was lifting some.  Then, after lunch, it cleared right up and the boys thought that they would get in some flying but within a half an hour it closed down worse than before.

Saturday, 30 December, 1944

Fog again today.  This country is worse than England and that’s going some.  So the usual games of bridge were played and later on in the afternoon the lads were released.  Some of them stayed around the Mess with the remainder pushing off to town.

Sunday, 31 December, 1944

The last day of the old year.  We saw it out it style, managing to get in some flying before the boys set off to do a little celebrating.  Hope the New Year turns out to be as good as this year.  The health of the Squadron remains at its same high level.  There were 302 Operational sorties for this month.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of December 1944

RCAF        USA Personnel        RAF
No. of Officers – Flying    26    Nil        Nil
No. of Officers – Ground    3    Nil        Nil
No. of Airmen – Flying    1    Nil        Nil
No. of Airmen – Ground    12    1             2

Flying Times for the Month

Operational:         29:50 Spit IXB
311:20 Spit XVI
Non-Operational:        8:10     Spit IXB (day)
38:45 Spit XVI
Non-Operational:    Nil    (night)
Auster III:        _     Nil
Total    338:05

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     15 Spitfire Mk XVI
SM302    SM251    RR256    SM295    SM490    SM312
SM338    SM313    SM294    SM363    SM292    SM315
SM208    SM295    SM291

Our Casualties for the Month: Nil
Enemy Casualties: 1 ME 262 destroyed by S/L Collier Dec 25th 1944
1 ME 109 Destroyed by F/L Foster 8.12.44