A question from Stephen Nickerson…
While researching Leslie Sydney Ford’s military career I was unable to find out who Phyl Marie was. This was the name painted on his Spitfire BM 344 while he served as the 403’s Squadron Leader during the Dieppe raid and the last few months of 1942. Would anyone know who Phyl Marie was?
FORD, F/L Leslie Sydney (J3712) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.175 Squadron – Award effective 9 June 1942 as per London Gazette dated 26 June 1942 and AFRO 1000-1001/42 dated 3 July 1942. Born Halifax, Nova Scotia, 30 December 1919. Home in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Attended Acadia University for three years. Enlisted in Halifax, 21 June 1940 (possibly 21 January 1940). Trained at No.2 ITS, No.8 EFTS and No. 4 SFTS (graduated 28 January 1941; awarded wings that date). Posted overseas in February 1941; further trained at No.52 OTU, March and April 1941.. Served with Nos.403 Squadron, 21 April 1941 to 12 September 1941; No.402 Squadron, 21 September 1941 to January 1942; No.175 Squadron, 6 February 1942 to 9 July 1942. Returned to No.403 Squadron as “B” Flight Commander, 19 July 1942; became Commanding Officer on 13 August 1942. Posted to Digby as Wing Commander (Flying), 19 April 1943. Killed in action, 4 June 1943 attacking enemy shipping off Dutch coast; with four pilots of No.402 Squadron attacked three E-boats and was shot down into sea. Credited with with following aerial victories: 27 September 1941, one Bf.109 damaged (Hurricane Z3349, shared with another pilot); 19 August 1942, two FW.190s destroyed (Spitfire BM344); 15 February 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (Spitfire BS474); 27 February 1943; one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 27 February 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 13 March 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 3 April 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 4 April 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474).
This officer has carried out many operational missions, having been engaged in fighter sweeps and in bombing attacks on land and sea targets. He has participated in two attacks when two mine sweepers and an enemy destroyer were sunk and two destroyers were damaged. He is a keen and zealous flight commander and leader.
FORD, S/L Leslie Sydney (J3712) – Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross – No.403 Squadron – Award effective 16 September 1942 as per London Gazette dated 2 October 1942 and AFRO 1653/42 dated 16 October 1942.
On August 19th, 1942, this officer led his squadron in support of the combined operations against Dieppe with great skill. Several enemy aircraft were destroyed, two of which were shot down by Squadron Leader Ford. Throughout, his inspiring example instilled great confidence in his fellow pilots.
NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/8769 has recommendation for a Croix de Guerre dated 20 January 1943 stating about the same as above. Although it was went right through to Fighter Command Headquarters, it was not approved at Air Ministry level, either because the deed had already been covered by the Bar to the DFC or because of Ford’s death in action. Several other pilots were recommended for the Croix de Guerre following the Dieppe Raid and ended up with Mentions in Despatches (see H.H. Hills, R.C. MacQuoid and M.B. Pepper).