Greg has this picture which gives a lot of information about who were pilots with 403 Squadron around March 1945…
This picture was taken when Fred Town left his command as Wing Commander.
Who was he?
Flying Officer Frederick W Town
FREDERICK W TOWN
“Fred” Town was born in Durham, Ontario, the second oldest of four children: his father owned a jewellery store. When Fred was ten years of age the family removed to Orillia, a city with a population of some 24,000 inhabitants in Southern Ontario. Fred has always been athletically inclined and he spent an active time at school in the athletic programmes.
Fred joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at the age of 21 with hopes of becoming a fighter pilot as he puts it “the dream of enlisted men”. His training on the Link trainer at No 10 EFTS indicated that he had co-ordination and aptitudes above average and was accordingly sent to No 53 SFTS in Ottawa to train on Harvards. Fred received his wings and commission there and with 5 others (out of a class of 60) was sent to No 1 OTU at Bagotville, Quebec, to fly Hurricanes.
In October 1943 was sent to England on board the famous liner Mauritania: he comments that it was a dangerous voyage in those days as this is borne out by the fact that the Mauritania was sunk shortly afterwards. By the December Fred was flying Mk I and II Spitfires from the grass strip at Kirton-in-Lindsey and learning all the techniques needed for tactical operations. He almost flew Typhoons (a dangerous aircraft in those days) but perhaps fortunately was posted to No 7 Squadron operating from Predannack, near Lands End.
During 1944, Fred flew missions to Brest, escorting bombers and patrolling the Channel before the D-Day invasion. He also chased VI pilotless bombs from various stations including Bolt Head, Detling and Lympne scoring 4 “Buzz Bombs” as destroyed.
In August of the same year he was posted from Tangmere to join 403 (RCAF) Squadron to fly Mk IX and Mk XVI Spitfires in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. The Squadron apparently encountered little air to air activity and generally undertook strafing, dive-bombing (both hazardous businesses) and acting as top-cover for bombers. The loss ratio from the first two was quite high. Fred has one forced landing during his operational career landing wheels-up but safely on “foamed” grass at the edge of the airfield. On the 3rd May Fred was flying TB 752 and became separated from the Squadron after strafing an airfield. Trying to avoid the heavy flak he felt that the safest method to stay alive was to keep at a low altitude for at least 5 miles and then climb. It was then that he spotted a Heinkel He 111K bomber also at low level. Fred had some ammunition left so he approached from the left side remembering his training in leading with the gunsight: he used both cannon and machine guns and there was sufficient ammunition left to destroy the Heinkel. Fred did not stay around long as he was still below 1,000 ft and had to get back to base without protection and ammunition. After over 200 operational sorties Fred had shot down his first and, as it proved, his only enemy aircraft.
At the end of the war in May and having flown forty hours beyond his regular tour, Fred applied for the Pacific Theatre of Operations and was sent the same month to No 7 FLS Tangmere. There he trained in tactics, bombing and leading a Squadron. Once again fortune smiled on Fred Town: on leave before the Pacific Posting he had a priority return to Canada and it so happened that he arrived in his own home town on V J Day.
With the war over, Fred chose to go back to school and in 1949 graduated as an Optometrist. He married Mary in 1950 and raised 5 children (4 sons and 1 daughter). His practice is still very much part of his life and he keeps himself fit and healthy by workouts at the YMCA in Orillia and swimming over two hundred miles a year.
Amongst the aircraft that Fred has flown there is unusually a German Focke-Wulf 190 fighter (which 403 Squadron acquired!) plus the more usual Mustang, Tempest and a Meteor 1 twin engine jet aircraft (EE 240) in July 1945.
Both Fred and Mary have visited Manston to view his former ‘Spit’ and his involvement has made him something of a celebrity in Orillia.