Who remembers Hank Byrd?

People in Megchelen do.

Spitfire SM-208-5

Hello Pierre,

Some weeks ago Maarten Koudijs and Ronny Bosmann and some members of the Aircraft Research Group Achterhoek found these relics by a detector. Spitfire SM-208.
These parts are been preserved and keep saved for the community Megchelen as an remember to our liberators specially Hank Byrd who died 3 weeks before the Liberation of that town.

Kindly regards,

Hennie Berendsen

These photos are parts of the wing of Spitfire flown by Pilot Officer Hank Byrd who crashed on 19 March 1945 in Megchelen (Holland)‏.

Spitfire SM-208-2

Courtesy Hennie Berendsen

Spitfire SM-208-1

Courtesy Hennie Berendsen

Spitfire SM-208

Courtesy Hennie Berendsen

Byrd memorial

Courtesy Hennie Berendsen

Spitfire SM-208-3

Courtesy Hennie Berendsen

Spitfire SM-208-4

Courtesy Hennie Berendsen

Who else remembered Hank Byrd?

Byrd and Boudreau

Collection Walter Neil Dove courtesy Greg Bell, Walter Neil Dove’s grandson

Hank Byrd

Collection Walter Neil Dove courtesy Greg Bell, Walter Neil Dove’s grandson

March 1945 casualties

Collection Walter Neil Dove courtesy Greg Bell, Walter Neil Dove’s grandson

Lieutenant Lecoq with 438 Squadron – the sequel


I received this comment…

I have a really good photo of J. Claude Hebert from 1972 when he was president of Warnock Hersey International Limited. This is 6″x 4″ head and shoulders. He was, at that time living in Montreal and had 3 sons and daughter.
This is in an album created by my father whilst he was setting up a manufacturing company in the UK at that time. It comes with a brief history of Claude’s life from 1947 to 1972.
I recently rediscovered it during a house clean up but didn’t appreciate the significance at the time i first saw this album as I was 11 years old at the time! I just knew him as a business colleague of my father. The Internet, at times, can be a wonderful place. I really wish I’d been older to know more about his exploits. I would be happy to forward this info on so please feel free to contact me.
Eian. United Kingdom

It was about this post.


After the war Pierre Lecoq was in the reserve. He became second in command with 438 Squadron serving under Wing Commander Claude Hébert DFC. He was replacing Louis Morrissette.

After the war it became No. 438 City of Montreal (F) Squadron (Reserve) and was equipped with Vampires and Sabres. Reformed as an Air Reserve squadron at CFB Montreal the squadron flew the CSR-123 Otter and eventually the CH-136 Kiowa helicopter.  In 1981 the squadron changed roles, becoming 438 Tactical Helicopter squadron and currently flies the CH-146 Griffon.

More about RCAF 438 Squadron

To be honest, I know nothing about Wing Commander Claude Hébert. But in September 2011 I knew nothing about Wally Dove.

So who is Claude Hébert DFC…?

I found this on the Airforce site.

HEBERT, S/L Rosario Jean Claude (C1469) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.425 Squadron – Award effective 11 April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 21 April 1944 and AFRO 1075/44 dated 19 May 1944.  Born 1914, Magog, Quebec; home there.  Enlisted Trois Rivieres,, Quebec, 2 January 1940.  Trained at No.1 SFTS (graduated 13 July 1940).  No citation other than “…completed…many successful operations against the enemy in which [he has] displayed high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty.”  DHist file 181.009 D.1730 (PAC RG.24 Vol.20607) has recommendation dated 15 December 1943 at which time he had flown 39 sorties (222 hours 25 minutes):

This officer has now completed thirty-nine night sorties on a variety of targets.  He has carried out these attacks with consistent skill and courage.  Squadron Leader Hebert has set an example of skilful pilotage, cool judgement and determination.  This, along with his cheerful confidence, has inspired a high standard of morale in his crew.

 More about 438 during WWII.

Wing Cdr. Claude Hebert, D.F.C., war-time flight commander in the famed “Alouette” bomber squadron, was the first officer commanding of the post-war No. 438.

Gabriel Taschereau who wrote this book said that Claude Hébert was quite a man and a pilot. I don’t think there is a translation of that book.

I will translate some part of it next time.


Jean-Claude Hébert Jean-Claude Hébert bio

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


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