Remembrance Day 2012: Epilog

A pilot who had finished his tour, ran out and jumped in a aircraft that was still running from the Squad that were leaving for take off – when the Germans hit – as he got clear of the ground he nailed two German aircraft who were crossing in front of him, two more German aircraft followed in behind him and shot him down over Brussels.

I was sent to the crash site right away by truck to find out definitely who was flying that Spit. He went down in Rue de Victare, a narrow cobblestone road solidly built up on either side.

The Spit had gone down straight in making a fair sized pit in the street – the hole was filling with bloody water. I rolled up my sleeves and started picking out pieces trying to find some proper identity.

The two men with me couldn’t stand the sight of the mess and couldn’t help. I had managed quite a pile of gore when a local Belgium came up with the pilot’s wallet. It somehow had landed on the sidewalk.

F/L Dave Harling was the pilot shot down…

He was 23 years-old. Who remembered F/L Dave Harling?

Greg’s grandfather Wally Dove did!

Greg Bell is the one who shared what his grandfather left as a legacy. Mark White did the same.

F/L D. W. Harling  DFC who flew with 416 Squadron is buried next to LAC Robert Charles Medforth.


In memory of
Flight Lieutenant


who died on January 1, 1945

Military Service:

  • Service Number: J/11481
  • Age: 23
  • Force: Air Force
  • Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Division: 416 Sqdn.

Honours and Awards:   Distinguished Flying Cross

Additional Information:

Son of William Hunter Harling and Louise Frances Harling, of Westmount, Province of Quebec, Canada.

HARLING, F/L David William Armstrong (J11481)

– Distinguished Flying Cross

– No.416 Squadron (deceased)

– Award effective 18 December 1944 as per London Gazette dated 29 December 1944 and AFRO 379/45 dated 2 March 1945.

Born in Liverpool, England, 10 January 1921; educated at McGill University; member, COTC.  Home in Montreal; enlisted there, 20 July 1940. Trained at No.2 ITS (graduated 20 September 1940), No.6 EFTS (graduated 27 November 1940) and No.1 SFTS (graduated 11 February 1941 as a Sergeant Pilot).

Promoted to Warrant Officer (2nd Class), 12 February 1942; commissioned 15 April 1942; promoted Flying Officer, 15 October 1942; promoted Flight Lieutenant, 15 April 1944. Instructor at No.2 SFTS, Uplands, 2 May 1941 to 28 December 1942.

Arrived overseas 13 February 1943; at No.3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, 13 February to 16 March 1943; at No.5 (P) Advanced Flying Unit, 16 March to 11 May 1943; at No.57 OTU, 11 May to 1 August 1943; on strength of Station West Kirby, 1-11 August 1943; to No.57 OTU again, 11 August to 8 October 1943; with No.416 Squadron, 8 October 1943 to 1 January 1945 (killed in action, Spitfire SM304, while attempting to take off during German air attack).  Buried in Belgium.

Victories as follows:

26 August 1944, one FW.190 destroyed (Spitfire MK827);

27 September 1944, one FW.190 destroyed plus one Bf.109 destroyed plus one Bf.109 damaged, all west of Bocholz (NH408);

29 September 1944, one FW.190 destroyed, Emmerich (NH408);

30 September 1944, one Bf.109 destroyed, Nijmegen (NH408, shared with another pilot).

Flight Lieutenant Harling has shown himself to be an outstanding pilot and an excellent flight commander.  Since D-Day he has either destroyed or damaged thirty enemy mechanical vehicles.  In addition he has destroyed at least four enemy aircraft and damaged one. Both in the air and on the ground Flight Lieutenant Harling has displayed commendable courage, keenness and consistent devotion to duty.