A comment not to be lost…

Someone posted this comment…

My dad was the E.D. Kelly mentioned above. Always warms my heart to see my dad’s name on the net or in print. It may interest you to know that my dad was wounded by an aircraft cannon shell over Normandy flying on ops with 403 Sqn on D+3. Ever one to save his aircraft, he returned to the UK. People on his Sqn remarked that the cockpit was covered with blood. He returned to ops once he recovered.
I think his most prized possession were his small silver Op Tour ‘wings’ with bar.
In no way was he a typical ‘Fighter Jock’ and was instead a mild-mannered and rather shy man typical of old rural Ontario – one could hardly believe that he was one of the best jet age aerobatic pilots in the post-war RCAF.

Brilliant website.


Paul Kelly

It was about this…

And this citation…

Victories as follows: 17 August 1943: ¼ Bf.110 destroyed (with L. Foster, J.E. Johnson, J. Preston); 19 August 1943: one Bf.109 destroyed south of Flushing; 30 June 1944: one FW.190 destroyed, Falaise; 8 July 1944: shared in destruction of a midget submarine; 10 August 1944: one Bf.109 damaged; 24 December 1944: two FW.190s damaged; 1 January 1945: ½  FW.190 destroyed (shared with E.D. Kelly) plus one Bf.109 destroyed, Gutersloh.


We know very little about the person sitting. According to Dean Black he is identified as being Jim Day. He is not certain, but he appears to have been one of the technicians and he thinks he was the guy who would do a lot of the paintings on aircraft.

F/L Dean Hugh Dover DFC

Dean Black  sent me this clipping last year.

At first he thought he had found something on F/L Walter Neil Dove.

F/L Dean Hugh Dover was not of course F/L Walter Neil Dove, but it does not really matter because this blog pays homage to all who served with 403 Squadron.

This was on the Air Force Association of Canada Website

DOVER, F/L Dean Hugh (J16342)

– Distinguished Flying Cross

– No.403 Squadron

– Award effective 8 August 1944 as per London Gazette dated 11 August 1944 and AFRO 2101/44 dated 29 September 1944.

Born 10 December 1916 at Rochester, New York (but Canadian citizen).  Enlisted in Toronto, 22 July 1941. Trained at No.5 ITS (21 August-9 October 1941), No.11 EFTS (10 October to 6 December 1941) and No.8 SFTS (7 December 1941 to 27 March 1942).  Commissioned 1942. Arrived in UK, 12 May 1942.  After further training he went to No.403 Squadron (6 October 1942 to October 1943.  Instructor and staff officer until return to operations with No.442 Squadron, 3 June 1944.  To No.412 Squadron, 2 August 1944 to 28 January 1945.  Repatriated to Canada, 21 March 1945; released 5 July 1945.

Died in London, Ontario, 2 June 2000.

Victories as follows: 17 August 1943: ¼ Bf.110 destroyed (with L. Foster, J.E. Johnson, J. Preston); 19 August 1943: one Bf.109 destroyed south of Flushing; 30 June 1944: one FW.190 destroyed, Falaise; 8 July 1944: shared in destruction of a midget submarine; 10 August 1944: one Bf.109 damaged; 24 December 1944: two FW.190s damaged; 1 January 1945: ½  FW.190 destroyed (shared with E.D. Kelly) plus one Bf.109 destroyed, Gutersloh.

Public Record Office Air 2/9633 indicates he was recommended when he had flown 100 sorties (160 operational hours).

This officer has led his squadron on a great number of operations with marked success and has assisted in destroying many enemy aircraft, personally shooting down two.  An outstanding leader he has always displayed great courage and devotion to duty.

NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9633 has recommendation dated 6 December 1943. It evidently was not approved at the time.  The document is interesting for the long list of sorties (100 trips plus one Air/Sea Rescue sweep) totalling 160 hours; it is transcribed here for the record:

Date           Sortie and Time                                                       Opposition Met

8 Feb 43    Sweep to Abbeville (1.30)                                      Nil

8 Feb 43    Rodeo to Abbeville (1.30)                                      Nil

26 Feb 43  Circus mopping up Dungeness (1.10)                  Nil

26 Feb 43  Circus mopping up (1.50)                                       Strong at 30,000 ft.

8 Mar 43    Ramrod and escort for 60 Fortresses (1.35)       Strong

9 Mar 43    Rodeo, Le Touqet                                                   Strong

25 Mar 43  Rodeo at 30,000 feet                                              Nil

29 Mar 43  Circus Abbeville; escort to six Venturas (1.25)   –

31 Mar 43  Rodeo escort, Fortress diversion (1.45)               Medium

3 Apr 43     Rodeo, Le Touqet, St.Omer (1.20)                        15 FW.190s

5 Apr 43     Ramrod, Ostend area (1.25)                                  Strong

6 Apr 43     Rodeo, le Treport area (1.40)                                Nil

6 Apr 43     Rodeo, Abbeville (1.35)                                          –

8 Apr 43     Rodeo, St.Valery at 14,000 feet (1.30)                 –

13 Apr 43  Ramrod, Caen area (1.30)                                     –

16 Apr 43  Ramrod, Le Touqet-Calais (1.15)                         Medium

16 Apr 43  Ramrod, mopping Fauville (1.35)                          Nil

17 Apr 43  Circus, Abbeville (1.30)                                          Nil

17 Apr 43  Circus, Le Havre area (1.45)                                 Nil

19 Apr 43  Ramrod, Boudeville area at 4,000 feet (1.20)      Nil

20 Apr 43  Ramrod, Le Touqet-Dieppe (1.25)                        –

20 Apr 43  Patrol Beachy at 20,000 feet (1.25)                      –

20 Apr 43  Ramrod, Fecamp-Tricqueville (1.35)                    Strong

1 May 43    Rodeo, Brest (1.35)                                                Medium

4 May 43    Ramrod to Antwerp (1.35)                                      Strong

11 May 43 Circus to Dunkirk (1.25)                                          Medium

13 May 43 Air/Sea Rescue (1.00)                                            Nil

16 May 43 Circus, Tricqueville (1.35)                                       Very strong

17 May 43 Sweep to Caen (1.30)                                            Nil; much flak

18 May 43 Rodeo, Abbeville (1.25)                                          Nil

19 May 43 Rodeo, Caen area (1.25)                                       Medium

21 May 43 Circus, abortive (1.00)                                            Nil

30 May 43 Sweep to Caen (1.30)                                            Nil; little flak but accurate

31 May 43 Ramrod, Ostende-Bruges (1.30)                           Strong

7 June 43   Sweep to Gravelines-Aire (1.30)                           Nil

4 July 43    Ramrod to France, Ghent (1.35)                            Medium

6 July 43    Rodeo (40 minutes)                                                Nil

10 Jul 43    Ramrod escort, Fortresses (1.40)                         Medium

14 Jul 43    Ramrod, Fecampe (1.40)                                       Medium

15 Jul 43    Rodeo, Harlot-Gravelines (1.25)                            Medium

15 Jul 43    Rodeo, Hardlot and Poix (1.35)                             Nil

16 Jul 43    Rodeo, Abbeville area (1.35)                                 Medium

25 Jul 43    Ramrod, Amsterdam area (1.40)                          Medium

25 Jul 43    Ramrod, Amsterdam area (1.40)                          Medium

26 Jul 43    Ramrod, St.Omer (1.20)                                         Slight

26 Jul 43    Rodeo, Armentiers (1.40)                                       Medium

27 Jul 43    Rodeo, Ostende-Boulogne (1.30)                         Nil

27 Jul 43    Ramrod, Tricqueville area (1.40)                           –

28 Jul 43    Ramrod, Rotterdam (1.30)                                     Slight

28 Jul 43    Ramrod, Montfort (1.35)                                         Slight

29 Jul 43    Ramrod, Amsterdam (1.40)                                   Strong

29 Jul 43    Ramrod, Bainville (1.30)                                         Nil

30 Jul 43    Ramrod, Amsterdam (1.40)                                   Strong

31 Jul 43    Ramrod, Merville (1.40)                                          Medium

2 Aug 43    Ramrod, Merville (1.30                                           –

8 Aug 43    Ramrod to Poix (1.35)                                            Nil

9 Aug 43    Ramrod to St.Omer (1.15)                                      Nil

12 Aug 43  Ramrod, Flushing area (2.10)                                Considerable

12 Aug 43  Ramrod, Amiens (1.35)                                          Strong

15 Aug 43  Ramrod, Woenesdreght (1.00)                              Medium

15 Aug 43  Ramrod, Poix and Amiens (1.45)                          Medium

16 Aug 43  Ramrod, Rouen (1.50)                                            Strong

17 Aug 43  Ramrod, North Walchren (1.40)                             Slight

17 Aug 43  Ramrod, St.Nicholas (1.45)                                    Medium, ¼ dest.

18 Aug 43  Ramrod, Lille (1.15)                                                Medium

19 Aug 43  Ramrod, Poix (1.15)                                                Medium

19 Aug 43  Ramrod, Brussels (1.35)                                        Strong, 1st dest.

20 Aug 43  Sweep, Abbeville (1.25)                                         Nil

22 Aug 43  Sweep, Abbeville (1.35)                                         Nil

23 Aug 43  Ramrod, Lille (1.10)                                                Medium

23 Aug 43  Rodeo, Amiens area (1.25)                                   Nil

24 Aug 43  Ramrod, Conche Evereux (1.30)                           –

25 Aug 43  Ramrod, Beaumont (1.55)                                      Medium

27 Aug 43  Ramrod, Beaumont le Roger (1.45)                      Nil

27 Aug 43  Ramrod, Furgus and St.Pol (1.40)                        –

30 Aug 43  Ramrod, Aremtries [?] (1.30)                                 Nil

31 Aug 43  Ramrod, Mazingarbe (1.30)                                   Nil

2 Sep 43    Ramrod, Hesdin (1.35)                                           Strong flak heavy

3 Sep 43    Ramrod, Beaumont le Roger (1.35)                      Strong

3 Sep 43    Ramrod, St.Omer (1.15)                                         Nil

4 Sep 43    Ramrod, Roubaux (1.25)                                        Medium

5 Sep 43    Ramrod, Ghent area (1.45)                                    Medium

6 Sep 43    Ramrod, Rouen (1.35)                                            Medium

6 Sep 43    Ramrod, Forts (2.05)                                              Nil

6 Sep 43    Ramrod, Abbeville (1.30)                                       Medium

8 Sep 43    Ramrod, Vitry (1.30)                                                Medium

8 Sep 43    Ramrod, Abbeville (1.10)                                       Nil

9 Sep 43    Beach Patrol (1.25)                                                 Nil

9 Sep 43    Ramrod (1.20)                                                         Medium

11 Sep 43 Ramrod (1.45)                                                         Medium

14 Sep 43 Rodeo support, Marauders (1.30)                         Medium

15 Sep 43 Ramrod, St.Andres with Liberators (1.30)            Slight

18 Sep 43 Ramrod, Beaumont le Roger with Marauders (1.15)     –

19 Sep 43 Ramrod, Lens (1.30)                                               Medium

21 Sep 43 Ramrod (1.30)                                                         Medium

22 Sep 43 Ramrod with Marauders (1.40)                              Medium

23 Sep 43 Ramrod (1.40)                                                         Nil

23 Sep 43 Ramrod (1.40)                                                         Medium

24 Sep 43 Rodeo (1.50)                                                            Nil

24 Sep 43 Rodeo (1.35)                                                            Medium

This officer’s devotion to duty, outstanding ability to lead and keenness in air battles has been an inspiration to all pilots in his squadron. He has led his squadron on at least 20 occasions over France with marked success and apart from assisting in destroying many enemy aircraft he has personally shot down two in combat well inside enemy occupied territory.

On 6 December 1943 his unit Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader R.A. Buckham, wrote:

With my knowledge of the above mentioned officer I concur completely with the above statement.

The document was further favourably endorsed by Group Captain W,R. McBrien (6 December 1943), an Air Vice Marshal (signature illegible, 13 December 1943) and by the Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Force (1 January 1944).  In light of these statements, it is difficult to understand the delay before Dover was awarded a DFC.

DOVER, S/L Dean Hugh, DFC (J16342) – Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross – No.412 Squadron – Award effective 1 December 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 239/45 dated 9 February 1945.

Squadron Leader Dover, now on his second tour of operational duty, has proved an outstanding leader, both in the air and on the ground.  His great skill, coolness and tactical ability have contributed materially to the success of the squadron which, within a short period, has put out of action some 528 enemy vehicles.  In addition, three enemy aircraft have been destroyed.  By his outstanding keenness, iron determination and untiring devotion to duty, Squadron Leader Dover has set a splendid example to all.

Paying homage to the fine young men of 403 Squadron

Do you remember this article I wrote a few months ago?

Who is Tommy Todd?

Standing on the wing of a Me-109
Walter Neil Dove collection

Want to know more…

Click here. 

Great reading.

On August 20th 1943, Canadians flying Spitfires arrived here from Lashenden as their runway needed repairing. Lashenden was not used again until 1944 when P51 Mustangs flew from there.

The two Canadian Squadrons were 403 and 421, led by Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson CB CBE DSO DFC DL. He finished the war as the RAF ace destroying 38 German planes. He was the only Englishman in the Canadian Wing, and he led both squadrons. He has visited us since the war and shown us the logbook he used when flying from here.

Every man, both pilots and crew, was under canvas. Briefings always took place in a large wireless-type vehicle parked under an oak tree opposite Weeks Farm. After briefings the pilots were taken aboard a utility van to their Spitfires which were at dispersal points around the airfield. Johnnie Johnson would always walk with his black Labrador across a field and over two ditches to his plane, which had the initials ” JEJ” on both sides. These are frequently seen on airplane kits to be found in model shops. I always looked out for these letters when the planes returned from operations in France. From here they flew sorties carrying small bombs to drop over France. They strafed landing barges, trains, airplanes and anything that moved. The Spitfires also escorted bombers. Many other planes had to land here due to fuel shortages etc.. On one day 13 Flying Fortresses had to land because of fuel shortage or damage. We saw most types of planes landing here with some problem or purpose!

Soon after the Spitfires arrived one of the Canadian pilots, Flying Officer Thomas Todd visited Kingsden – my home, to ask my mother if she would accommodate his wife while he was stationed at the airfield. He had married a 19-year-old Welsh air controller called Val in Swansea. The answer must have been “yes” because they both moved in with us and remained until October 1943. Toddy flew a Spitfire that had the squadron letters AUT on the fuselage (another one I always checked for on their return). One particular morning Toddy had overslept and was woken by his batman calling him from under the bedroom window. Having no time to dress or eat breakfast, with only five minutes to spare until he was due at briefing, he pulled his uniform on over his pyjamas, and went off to cause havoc over France – if only the enemy had realised!

They would fly up to three missions a day, weather permitting. Toddy flew as wingman to Johnnie Johnson and his successor; this meant he had to protect the tail of the Wing Commander’s plane, with a great risk of being shot down. This must have helped Johnnie Johnson to become the Ace! There were very few accidents or losses while the Spitfires were here. Johnnie Johnson left here on September 9th for a course in preparation for D-Day. His place was taken by Wing Commander Hugh Constant-Godefroy until October 14th 1943, when with much regret the squadron left for a permanent base for winter at Kenley. Val returned to Wales to await the birth of their baby, and later sailed to Canada to stay with Toddy’s family. During his stay with us I had taken photographs of Toddy and Val, and my mother had taken one of me with them. We each treasured these photos for 47 years until we met again. In 1990 they came over from Canada to visit Val’s family in Wales, while over in the U.K, they came to visit us and take part in the service held in September at the memorial in Bedlam Lane for Battle of Britain Sunday. There they were joined by the next generation of pilots of the same wing. The young pilots had flown over from Germany for the ceremony (and did so for a few years afterwards). We shall never forget the sight of these youngsters cornering Toddy at Elvey Farm, where we had gone for tea. They were so interested in his Spitfire flying experiences. We have remained close to Val and Toddy and have visited them three times at their home to the north of Toronto. Toddy was shot down 6 weeks before the end of the war and was taken prisoner. He should not have been flying that day, but had offered to take the place of a young pilot who was exhausted. He records his dreadful experiences in the hands of the retreating German soldiers and the Hitler Youth for his grandsons. They can be read in the blue covered book.

Another pilot who joined the Canadians while they were here was a bit of a loner, a rebel. Johnnie Johnson had been asked to take him into the squadron and try to straighten him out. He couldn’t, but tolerated him as he was an excellent pilot. Unfortunately he would not fly as part of a team. If he saw the enemy he would fly off and deal with them himself, usually successfully, and often outnumbered by them! I remember so well how he would go off in a Tiger Moth Bi-plane trainer during the evening. He would go up very high, and then he would put the nose down and let the plane float down in a dive. This was called “the falling leaf’. He would recover just before reaching the treetops and go up again. He was asked – perhaps told – to stop this activity or face a courts martial. He did it again but the Canadian Commissioner let him off, as he was such a good pilot! His name was George Beurling known as “Screwball” Beurling or “Buzz” Beurling.

As far as I remember there was no enemy activity over here during the summer of 1943 in daylight, there may have been some after dark. No bombs were dropped on airfields around here. During that time the young airmen took part in ” Evasion Exercises” which they called “ringo” operations. The object was for the pilots of 126 Wing at Staplehurst to try and find a way into the Headcorn (127) Wing airfield and vice versa. The following extract from the diary of D.R. Matheson shows it was a welcome break from the busy operational flights they had made that summer.

“…Commanding Officer Ian Ormeston and I had been dumped out of the back of a truck in the general area. From there we pinched a bike and found our way to the vicinity of Headcorn Airfield. We crept up through the barbed wire and eventually got into the airfield. You may know that we were all living in tents at that time. Ormeston and I crept into the tent of Group Captain William McBrien, the 127 Airfield commander. We stole some of his clothes, then we stole his Station Commander’s car. We were considering the theft of his personal Spitfire but found it to be too closely guarded. We drove his car out of the main gate, getting the appropriate salutes from the service police on guard and returned in triumph to Staplehurst. Later that day a whole assortment of other pilots arrived back. One flew into the airfield in a Tiger Moth, while another arrived in a new Spitfire 12 stolen from another airfield.. ……”
He later adds that this seemingly “nonsense” training was put to good use two months later when he found himself an evader in France!

Prior to all this on October 17th 1940, in this area, a Hurricane crashed after being shot down from above the clouds by a German ME109. We heard the cannon fire and knew that it was a German plane firing, as the RAF did not have cannons. The Hurricane whistled like a bomb through the clouds and exploded on hitting the ground. A local airman home on leave, possibly Bob Turk, Dick Weeks’ cousin collected the pilot’s scattered remains.
He was Sergeant Pilot Atkinson -just 19 years old. His identity tag was later found in the crater. The Rolls Royce engine remained 12 feet down until it was dug up in 1975. Later in 1940 two very large bombs were dropped within this area, one made two craters, the other made three, the latter measured 90 yards around the perimeter and the earth was piled up around it.

On October 12th 1940 a ME109 tried to hit Headcorn station but the bomb missed, exploding close to “Chantry” the home of Frank Foreman’s family in Oak Lane. Frank’s mother, his 22-year-old sister Mary, his Aunt, Blanch Munn and the gardener, Walter Tassel were killed. Lawrence Woodcock had been delivering bread there and was fortunate enough to crawl, badly shaken, safely out from the rubble.

Occasionally in daylight during the winter of 1942/43 ME109s used to nip over here with one bomb each to attack Ashford station and strafe the streets. During that winter, Tom Milgate, Bergan Harper and I attended Ashford Tech for farming classes every Friday. The Germans seemed to know we would be there on Fridays. One particular day we were on our way back to the tech after visiting Hansons, the famous fish and chip shop, when there was a great deal of noise as we reached the High Street. A German fighter was strafing Bank Street, it was too late to take cover but we survived!!

A Flying Fortress with engine trouble was the first American plane to land on our field on February 15th 1944. One of the crew remained on guard and I went over to view it. The guard showed me all over the inside, a wonderful experience for a plane mad lad of 15 and a half.

On April 12th 1944 the American 362 Fighter Group consisting of Squadrons 377, 378, and 379 flew in with 87 Thunderbolt fighters. 84 were painted green, 3 were unpainted. About 2000 personnel accompanied them, all living under canvas. I believe the senior officers lived in the commandeered houses along Bedlam Lane. The Americans arrived very well organised, but the one thing they had not planned, was where to empty their latrines (loos). Murray Mitchel at Burnt House Farm had mostly poultry and some market garden produce, tomatoes and cucumbers. The cucumbers were grown on ridges with gullies between each row. It was in these gullies that the latrines were emptied, and in the same gullies the local women stood to cut the cucumbers, poor souls!

Where the Brookgate Caravan Park is now situated in Bedlam Lane there stood four dwellings, known as Brookgate Cottages. Due to the danger of being situated at the end of the runway they were demolished in 1943. Ironically on June 13th 1944 a Thunderbolt piloted by Lt. Curtis was taking off west to east when his plane caught fire. He kept it on the ground, running off the end of the runway where he came to a halt in the road between the two sharp corners a few yards from where the cottages had stood! Lt Curtis climbed out only seconds before the fuel and the bomb the plane was carrying exploded, leaving a large crater in the road.

The Americans flew two or three missions a day weather permitting The fighters acted as escorts to bombers with whom they would rendezvous over the channel. Because of the distance to the targets, they would carry extra fuel tanks holding 100 gallons under each wing which could then be jettisoned, allowing them to leave the bombers and hasten home, faster and lighter. In the mean time another group of Thunderbolts would take off with extra tanks to meet the bombers and escort them home. These Thunderbolts were also able to carry one tank under the fuselage and two 5001b bombs under the wings. The belly tanks used here were brought over from America in plywood packing cases to protect them while in transit. They would dive bomb the marshalling yards, trains, bridges, tunnels, and barges on the rivers Rhine and Moselle, airfields tanks and lorries on the road, besides aircraft in the air.

Alan Palmer 2004

This is a follow-up story.

Dean sent me this e-mail with a picture that tells all.

On your blog you have a page for Beurling, and on that page you have a photo for Tommy Todd. Below the photo of Todd you have a story from Alan Palmer. I have visited Alan and his wife Sheila twice. Here is a photo I took of them. If you look behind them, and a bit left of Alan’s arm you can see a hedgerow running away from Alan and Sheila. In the distance you can see three Canadian maple trees – one is a dark purple and two are yellow, in contrast against all the other green vegetation. These trees were planted by Sheila and Alan, in memory of the Canadians of 403 Squadron who flew from the airfield, which is just across the road from the trees. If you look just short of the maple trees, along the hedgerow you can make out the memorial to the squadron, that is installed to mark the airfield.


No pictures of any KH-Cs but I found this piece of information on this site

I found what it meant…

X4329 (serial number)

Ia (type)

1094 (the quantity of aircraft in the range)

EA (built at Eastleigh)

MIII (contract number)

FF (first flew) 31-8-40

No. 8 Maintenance Unit 2-9-40

616 Squadron 7-9-40

65 Squadron 26-2-41

308 Squadron 13-4-41

403 Squadron ‘KH-C’ 21-5-41

61 OTU 11-8-41 engine failed hit tree in force-landed near Ellesmere Salop

CE 16-6-42

C Allocated to Instructional Airframe duties (for ground training)

E Write-off

616 Squadron scramble from Kenley, late August 1940 (source)