127 Wing and Market Garden Redux

You probably skimmed over this document paying little attention.

Andrew Todd 002

Andrew Todd 003 Andrew Todd 004

That’s okay. I would have probably done the same.

And you most probably skimmed over this OCR version also.

I will get your attention by adding a few links and pictures to show you there were a lot more information in that document than met the eye.

Dear Mr. Mills,
In reply of your letter, dated 30th November, we can give you the following information with regard to 127 Wing RCAF.

During operation “Market-Garden” 127 Wing operated from the forward airbase Le Culot near Louvain in Belgium. Studying the operation record books of No. 83 Group only 416, 421 and 443 Squadrons were acting in this operation because 403 Squadron is not mentioned. Probably this squadron was not operational or stood for a course in England (Fairwood Common?).

From 29th September until the end of October 1944, 127 Wing was based at airstrip
KEENT (B-82) near Grave South of Nijmegen. Where on 1st October 403 Squadron
arrived also.

Keent is an extremely swampy foreland of the river Meuse in autumn and moreover it was situated only 12 miles of the frontline and therefore very vulnerable for German air-attacks.

On 2nd October six Messerschmitts 262 (jet-planes) attacked the strip with scrapnel-bombs killing P/O. D. E. Reiber (412 Squadron) and F/L O. Lee whilst 35 men personnel being wounded.

On 6th October a German air-attack again, killing LACs D. M. Wesson and E. Cox
and again an unknown number of wounded.

Six days later an other air-attack now no. 416 Squadron was hit. 5 men killed and
10 wounded. These air-attacks and the very swampy ground caused that the Wing had been displaced to the airbase Melsbroek (B-58) near Brussels, Belgium.

Defending the Nijmegen bridges 127 Wing was involved in very fierce air battles
on 27th and 29th of September ’44. 50+ German fighter-bombers escorted by
fighters tried to destroy both bridges.

During these battles the Wing lost 3 Spitfires but claimed 26 German planes (17 Me-109 and 9 FW-190) operating from airstrip Keent.

Undermentioned you will find the losses of 127 Wing in order of squadron and date as far as we know:

416 Squadron

3rd November 1943

Spitfire, serial BL-430, near the station of Zandvoort, West Amsterdam during bomber escort to airfield Schiphol. Shot down by fighters Pilot F /O  W . H . Jacobs killed. Now buried Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. (Netherlands).

25th September 1944

Spitfire, serial MJ-412 shot down 3 miles North of Arnhem 1 mile East of the road Arnhem-Apeldoorn by fighters. Pilot F/L. E . H .Treleaven, badly wounded transported to a hospital at Amersfoort where he perished the same day. Now buried in Amersfoort.

Treleaven headstone


26th September 1944

Spitfire, serial unknown, shot down. Pilot F/L. Patterson, Fate unknown, not killed so P.O.W. or safe.

29th September 1944

Spitfire, serial unknown, P/O R. E. Chambers still missing.

12th April 1945

(the Wing is now based at Eindhoven(B-78) : Spitfire, serial unknown, shot down in Eastern Holland, Pilot F/O T.P. Dollery killed. Now buried in the Holten Canadian War Cemetery.

No. 421 Squadron

21st January 1945

Spitfire, serial unknown, shot down just beyond the German border. Pilot P/O C. D. Beck killed. Now buried in the Reichswald War Cemetery near Kleve (Germany).

27th September 1944

Spitfire, serial unknown, Pilot F/O. R.Holness killed, shot down just beyond German border. Now buried in the Reichswald War cemetery, near Kleve, Germany.

No. 443 Squadron

26th September 1944

Spitfire,serial unknown, near Angeren East of Nijmegen, Pilot F/O L. D. Sherwood, slightly wounded, evaded with support of Mr. Fred Huisman.

27th September 1944

Spitfire, serial NH-245, shot down by fighters just beyond the German border, Pilot S/L H. W. McLeod killed and now buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery (Germany).

29th September 1944

Spitfire, serial NH-437, shot down by Nijmegen, Pilot safe.

10th October 1944   

F/O. L. P. E. Piche and F/O. A. J. Horrell en route on leave in an Auster liaison-plane. They came short of the front-line near Overloon and were shot down by friendly gunfire.
Both killed and now buried in Venray War Cemetery.


5th January  1945

Spitfire, serial unknown, shot down in Germany. Pilot F/O T. C. Gamey killed. Now buried in Reichswald War Cem.


6th April   1945

Spitfire, serial unknown, Pilot F/O S. E. Messum killed. Now buried Reichswald War Cemetery (Ger.)

No.403 Squadron

19th March 1945

Spitfire, serial SM-208, shot down near the village of Megchelen in the Netherlands, Pilot F/O. H . C. Byrd killed. Now buried at Gendringen (Netherlands).

28th March 1945

Spitfire, serial SM-302, shot down near Haltern (Germany) by flak Pilot F/O M. Reeves killed. Originally buried in the American War Cemetery Margraten. In 1946 reburied in the Nederweert War Cemetery at Nederweert (Netherlands).

31st March 1945

Spitfire, serial TB-737, shot down near Oberhausen (Germany). Pilot F/L. E. G. Aitchison killed. Originally buried in the American War Cemetery Margraten (Netherlands). In 1946 reburied in the the Nederweert War Cemetery at Nederweert (Netherlands).

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In March 1945 No. 403 Sqdn. was based at Eindhoven Airfield (B-78) in Holland.

As you see it was a very hectic time for the Wing in the last half year of W.W.II. I believe there have been more losses over Germany, France and Belgium.

Our museum however has collected only the facts in which our country was involved.
Nevertheless we hope we have given you sufficient information and we hope it will be of good support to your research in reference to 127 Wing RCAF.

Your order for a copy of “Two Wings and the Weavers” describing the story of 126 Wing in the Netherlands we have handed over to the keeper of our bookshop.

We enclose a leaflet of our museum for further information and remain with friendly greetings,

One last thing about Tommy Todd…

His grandson sent me this picture of his grandfather’s uniform.

Tommy Todd uniform