Operation Market Garden and Base 82 Grave Netherland

The story behind the picture

RCAF No. 403 Squadron

This is post No. 275.

It’s from Mark White, and it’s a great one!

I have some wonderful notes from the ERK Journal about 403 Squadrons activities during Operation Market Garden. The Squadron moved into Holland and set up an Airfield at B82 Grave Netherlands. The picture I have of JEJ was likely taken at Eindhoven Holland around September 26 1944 when 403 Squadron met up with an Officer who informed them of “their best road chance” to make it to the not yet accessible base at Grave.


127 Wing left Base 68 at Le Culat Belgium on September 27 1944. There next airfield was Base 82 Grave Netherland where they remained until October 21 1944.

The main party arrived on October 1, 1944.

The journey was 130 miles and it took about 4 days for the convoy to get to Grave. Major ground and air battles were going…

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Rare Spitfire Picture From George White’s Collection

Written in 2013

RCAF No. 403 Squadron

127 Wing Most Famous Spitfire

403 Erks Working on the Wing Commander’s Spitfire

James Edgar “Johnnie” Johnson commanded the RCAF Spitfires of 127 Wing.


This picture, from my father George White’s collection, was taken in Eindhoven Holland during Operation Market Garden.


JE-J back

Caption from Back of photo

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James Edgar “Johnnie” Johnson

Written in 2011 and edited in 2014

RCAF No. 403 Squadron

 Johnnie Johnson1

WWII archives

Greg’s grandfather had some pictures of Johnnie Johnson in his photo album.

Greg will scan them for us.

About Johnnie Johnson

James Edgar Johnson was born at Barrow-upon-Soar, near Loughborough, Leicestershire on March 9 1915. He was educated at Loughborough School and Nottingham University, where in 1937 he qualified as a civil engineer. Aged 17, he bought a BSA 12-bore shotgun – for £1 down and nine similar monthly payments. Rabbits fetched a shilling each, and he reckoned that if he could average two rabbits from three shots he would pay for the gun. He became adept at deflection shooting on the ground and, graduating to wildfowling on the Lincolnshire marshes, adapted the skill to bring down widgeon, pintail and teal. “The principles of deflection shooting against wildfowl and aeroplanes,” he would reflect, “were exactly the same, except that aeroplanes could sometimes return your fire. The best…

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Johnnie Johnson revisited

Johnnie Johnson


Johnnie Johnson is a well known figure. That’s what caught my attention in September 2011 when I was looking at Walter Neil Dove’s photo album.


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Johnnie Johnson was more than the RAF top ace.

Johnnie Johnson1

From John Hawley who was an Erk in the RCAF.

In my Air Force experience the best aircrew/pilots were those that respected their Groundcrew. Met AV Marshall J.E. Johnson, RAF in France in 1989. This famous Ace remained ‘best of friends with his WWII Crew Chief (ERK) until his death. Johnnie Johnson was well respected by his pilots and technicians.

403-squadron-pilots-at-headcorn-1943 identification


Wing Commander James E ‘Johnnie’ Johnson at Bazenville Landing Ground, Normandy, 31 July 1944

Gil Gillis Pense, Saskatchewan Redux


I wrote this in November 2013. I think the time is right to post it now since Cathy, Gil’s daughter, wrote me that her father’s logbook is nowhere to be found.

This is one of the first posts I wrote on this blog.

It was about Gil Gillis.

Gil Gillis
Walter Neil Dove collection

This is the caption with this picture found in Greg’s grandfather’s photo album…

Gil Gillis Pense, Sask

Now this is what I could find from the 403 ORBs about Gil Gillis.

Sunday, March 25, 1945

Another heavy day of flying, and not much slack time amongst the Squadron.  Five operational trips, all patrols completed.  Uneventful.  F/O F.B. Gillis force landed amongst the paratroopers and gliders across the Rhine, and was seen to land safely.  Word came through that he was safe, and would be returning to the unit.

Tuesday, March 27, 1945

A very dull and foggy day, no flying carried out in the Squadron.  The day was spent in dispersal checking maps and following the movements of the ground troops across the Rhine.  F/O F.B. Gillis returned to the Squadron, none the worse for his experience of the 25th.

Friday, May 11, 1945

No operational flying to-day, but a lot of practice formation flying was done in the area.  A beautiful warm summer day and the swimming pool is now in use.  A grand place to spend a hot sunny day.  F/L L. Foster, F/L J.C. McLeod, F/L R. Morris, F/L R.A. Morrison, F/L F.B. Gillis, F/L J.W. Gilmartin, F/O R.C. Shannon, F/O Leslie have all been slated for repatriation with the decrease of the Squadron which will soon come into effect.  P/O G.K. Lindsay has been recommended to be taken off the Squadron  for non-Operational flying.

Monday, May 28, 1945

The weather still unsettled, but warming up considerably.  Posting advice for F/L F.B. Gillis has been received for repatriation to Canada.  He will be leaving May 31st.  More practice flying, but not enough to keep the fellows fully occupied.  The Squadron is hoping for a move into more civilised parts soon, anywhere away from the desolation of the airfield.

All the above information comes from Airforce.ca Website.


He did have a story about getting shot down and stealing a car from the Germans and driving it back to where he was stationed. He had most of the German uniform he stole from the chauffeur that was with the car. The ring, cigarette case, sword, etc. and at one time talked about a German Luger (?) gun.

 March 1945 casualties

March 1945 excerpt

403PetitBrogleMarch1945_0002 identification