Paying homage to the men of No. 403 Squadron – Redux

Posted in September 2011 when I knew very little about RCAF 403 Squadron.

Since then relatives of pilots and ground crew have found this blog, and shared information, pictures, and stories.

I have more than 600 posts on this blog which started when I met Greg Bell whose grandfather was a Spitfire pilot. I told Greg he had to share what he had…

freddie arseneault


This is will be a blog mostly of pictures of the men who served with that RCAF Squadron.

Most pictures belong to the grandson of one Canadian Spitfire pilot.

Walter Neil Dove
(Walter Neil Dove collection)

Some pictures have never been published before.

Greg is willing to share them with everyone.

So please visit this blog.

You won’t believe what collection of photos he has of his grandfather.

He also has his logbook…


The Captions – The Sequel

This morning I found a message in my inbox. It was about my other blog on RCAF 443 Squadron…

I have some photos of J.A. Arsenault, my late father, including one taken shortly after the mid-air formation collision of September 1945. I also have a photo of Dad in his flight suit. Additionally, I have a photo of the page in my father’s log with the signature of H.R. Finley, certifying medals earned. I would be happy to share.

In December 2011 I had written this.


This is the two group pictures I posted some time ago.

These pictures where taken in March 1945.

I am trying to put some of the names with the right faces. What I like about Greg’s grandfather is his sense of humour.

He uses a lot of nicknames and he calls himself Moiself

With a little French accent…


Moiself is with Buzz Burdis who got killed the day after he wrote his father…

Buzz is on the right. I wrote about him so his story would be told and he would forever be remembered.

Gil Gillis from Pense, Saskatchewan, is wearing the German helmet.

Bob Young is behind Moiself who is picking his nose…

These last pictures were taken in Germany the first time 403 Squadron set up their tents…

I wonder who is this Freddie Arsenault. This sounds like French-Canadian…

I can’t find him anywhere on the Internet except on my blog about 403 Squadron.


To be continued…

Gil Gillis – Pense Sask.

Pierre Lagacé:

The story continues…on RAF 238 Squadron

Gil Gillis

Originally posted on RAF 238 Squadron:

That’s how my search began in September 2011…

Gil GillisWalter Neil Dove collection via Greg Bell

The thing to do was to write the town hall of Pense…

I never got any reply from my request about information on Gil Gillis who was a hometown boy from Pense, Saskatchewan.

I would have wished something like that.


We are sorry, but this person is a complete stranger to us or anybody in our small town of 532 people (2011 census).

Have a good day.

I got no answer. It did not deter me, and I continued with my search for Gil Gillis anyway. Then the floodgates opened wide when Cathy Swanson found one of my blogs on July 31st, 2014.

I then started posting what she had sent.

This particular image caught my attention, and got me to scramble…


There was a clue in Gil Gillis’ address book!

Gil Gillis address book 238 squadron clue


View original

Finding Gil Gillis

Pierre Lagacé:

Where my obsessive search is leading me right now…

Originally posted on RAF 238 Squadron:

Finding Gil Gillis in September 2011 became like an obsessive search for a Spitfire pilot whose picture was in a photo album of another Spitfire pilot.

Both flew with RCAF 403 Squadron late in the war.

Gil Gillis

I am trying very hard to control my compulsive obsession about finding the “Few” since 2011. Finding the “Few” like Tommy Todd and many more. Tommy Todd’s grandson shared all he knew about his grandfather who also flew with RCAF 403 Squadron.

Cathy Swanson shared all about her father which resulted in the creation of this blog to pay homage to Gil Gillis.

Frederick Burdette GillisGil Gillis

Everything is posted here with the kind permission of Cathy.

This however is not.

picIt was shared on a forum with a message.

Hi Tom

I have a photo album and log book of Sgt. Later Flight Lt. Clement St John Nichols. He flew with 238 from November 1940…

View original 94 more words