See you after Christmas.
I am sending this greeting out to everyone who has responded to the invitation to participate in the website:
By now you know that the guys of 111 Squadron were involved in something quite extraordinary: they defended our Country’s western boundaries. The duty was very difficult and the mission was probably hard for many to understand. History has not been able to help us understand what our enemy was up to in the Western Pacific. They had probably over-played their hand. But Canada didn’t know that for sure at the time. We reacted… successfully.
Eventually, Canadians were able to put our whole attention to the threat that was growing in Central Europe. And, eventually, that was handled very well, too.
This note is to say thank you. You have contributed to something that will mark how our countrymen have risen to the cause. The guys of 111 Squadron were heroes. And you are related to or know about them. Congratulations! They were probably just ordinary guys that felt the call and did what was asked of them. In retrospect, that is what is inspirational.
Thank you for helping this site to salute them.
I hope that 2015 was a productive and fulfilling time for you. May 2016 bring good things to you and your family.
Merry Christmas Bill from Pierre in Quebec
Do you remember Leonard Weston?
Of course you do!
Click here for a refresher course.
His son has a special request.
My memory is a bit foggy at times, but I believe this happened in March, 1959. One Saturday, my Dad got a phone call. He said it was one of his buddies from 403 Squadron, who had just bought a war-surplus plane. He was flying in to Waterloo-Wellington Airport (now Kitchener- Waterloo), the next day, Sunday, and that we should meet him there and have a ride. I was 11-years old, and so full of anticipation, I could hardly sleep that night. What was it going to be——a Spit, a Hurri, maybe a Mossie?
The next day, we were parked on the gravel road beside the active runway, watching downwind for something interesting. Soon, a high-wing tail-dragger appeared, and Dad proudly announced “it’s an Auster!”
Oh, well. It was a veteran, and an airplane, and beggars can’t be choosers. He taxied over near our car, and I got in the back (it was a tandem-seater, not side-by-side), and went up for my first flight of ten or fifteen minutes. We landed, I got out, Dad got in the back seat, and they went up for a couple of short circuits. They landed and switched seats. This time, when they had lift, the nose went up sharply, the tail went down, and the Auster was struggling for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a couple of seconds. Then, the nose came back down, it got some airspeed, and flew off for a couple more short circuits. It landed again, the owner got out, and Dad took off properly, and went for a twenty or thirty minute flight.
The owner came over to Mom and I and asked “did you see what happened there?”. My immediate response was “yes, you almost crashed”. He then explained that Dad had his right hand on the stick, and was holding the throttle wide-open with his left. As soon as the Auster lifted off, he tensed up, switched his left hand to the stick, hauled back on it and reached down beside the seat with his right hand, trying to find the undercart lever. The owner said that he had to punch Dad in the shoulder to snap him out of his trance, whereupon he nosed the plane over, and got it back under control. He then explained that Dad had last flown in 1944, and the last plane he flew was a Spitfire.
If anyone knows of a former 403 member who owned an Auster in 1957-59, please contact me, as I have no idea who the man was. I do know it wasn’t Jerry Billing or Cec. Brown.
Mount Forest, Ont.
For a full refresher course click here.
LeClare Allerthorn Walker’s name does not appear in the February 1942 ORB. Beurling’s name appears twice.
Sunday, 1 February, 1942
Overcast, snowing heavily most for the morning, clearing in the afternoon. Quite a heavy fall of snow. All personnel, pilots and airmen, had a fair amount of exercise clearing runways of snow. It was nice to see the clean white snow making a blanket on the good mother earth, more than one was a bit homesick. Due to the weather conditions, S/L Campbell and the pilots returned from Hunsdon by motor transport, and the a/c remained at Hunsdon. P/O Magwood went to Stapleford on a course.
Monday, 2 February, 1942
Weather overcast intermittent snow and drizzle, fair in the afternoon. More snow to be cleared so all personnel cheerfully marched forth with shovel and broom and did a very nice piece of work. In the afternoon, S/L Campbell did some circuits and landings to test the runways after snow clearing. Sgts O’Neil, Munn, Ryckman, Somers, Connell and P/O Dick did some training on the link.
Tuesday, 3 February, 1942
Weather snowing again and the Squadron is clearing the runways. Weather closed in later on. Due to the weather, one section was held to readiness while the remainder of the Squadron were put on 30 minutes notice. The Squadron was released off the Station at 1400 hours. All the pilots took advantage of this, going to Epping for shopping, to the cinema, or to enjoy a meal outside of the Mess. Four Sgt Pilots departed for Hunsdon to bring back the a/c that remained there from night flying. All a/c were grounded for aileron droop, two pilots to do the taxing of the a/c to the hangar.
Wednesday, 4 February, 1942
Weather was bad and operations were cancelled. The aircraft were tested for aileron modification. Four aircraft returned from Hunsdon. This was an excellent piece of work. F/L Foster, RCAF Public Relations Branch, visited the Squadron together with F/O Hunter, getting the ‘gen’ on the Squadrons pilots.
Thursday, 5 February, 1942
Weather still bad with snow. At 0900 hours a weather and aircraft test were carried out; flying was washed out but ‘B’ Flight was held at 30 minutes notice.
Friday, 6 February, 1942
Weather persistent, still bad although it cleared up somewhat in the late afternoon. At 0950 hours, Red Section scrambled to Clacton-on-Sea. Runways were slippery and Sgt Ryckman crashed while taxing for take-off. RAF Orchestra gave a most enjoyable concert in Drury Lane, which was very well received by all ranks. Pay parade was held at 1105 hours.
Saturday, 7 February, 1942
Weather, low cloud base today but still able to carry out training flying. Four a/c were tested for aileron modification. Red, Yellow and Blue Sections did some formation and cine-gun practice. P/O Hurst did aerobatics, Sgt McDonald did some pinpointing. Training was finished at 1710 hours. ‘B’ Watch, RTO’s WAAF, North Weald have taken over 403 Squadron to mother. Should be no ‘opening of escapade’ in socks now. One officer and eight airmen went to Stapleford for Military Training Course lasting 7 days.
Sunday, 8 February, 1942
Weather cloudy with some fair intervals becoming more stable in the afternoon. Vis 3 to 6 miles. Formation flying was carried out by the Squadron during the morning. At 1345 hours, Blue and Green Sections went on convoy patrol east of Bradwell bay, these were relieved by other sections at 1800 hours. The different types of camouflage on Destroyers was noticed. It was agreed amongst the pilots that those with pinkish grey camouflage were more readily distinguished. P/O Zoochkan struck a parked motorcycle while taxing down the perimeter doing damage to both the motorcycle and starboard wing. Owing to the ridges of hard snow on the edge of the runways and the roughness caused by the snow, the damage to the aircraft was not observed until after landing from operations. P/O Cawsey misjudged the landing, running short and the port wheel engaged the barbwire used for station Defence, resulting in the tire of wheel to be torn and no further damage. The Squadron was released at 1831 hours. Good day’s work.
Monday, 9 February, 1942
Weather fog-bound with slight drizzle. The Squadron was released from readiness. The pilots went to the Link Trainer. After lunch, the pilots enjoyed a half-hour of PT and ,at 1530 hours, were released from the Station. The pilots crew room at dispersal has been considerably cleaned and made more comfortable. Woollen comforts were distributed to NCOs and Airmen from the Red Cross Society. These were much needed and are greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, 10 February, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with much fog at first. Visibility improving slowly, from 1,000 to 4,000 yards. At 1100 hours, two sections TOB on convoy patrol, SE of Orfordness at 17 plus. The aircraft were recalled due to weather. They found thick haze to 1,500 feet over the convoy and ran into rain on the way back, landing at 1210 hours. Convoy was sighted and nothing to report on e/a. Sgt Somers reported seeing what he thought was sea rescue work being carried out by 3 or more MTBs in the vicinity of the convoy. The Chilean Ambassador and staff visited the Station and the Squadron, making some observations of the crew room and dispersal generally. His remarks were conveyed through an interpreter. A surprise visit was paid to the Squadron by AVM Leckie, F/L Hamilton, and W/C McGregor of the RCAF Headquarters. AVM Leckie interviewed the pilots in the manner of a friendly chat, with the view of gaining data and suggestions that would be valuable to training pilots for war activity. A splendid type of gentleman whose easy manner quickly put the pilots at ease won their confidence. At 1100 hours, Red and Blue Sections got airborne on convoy patrols 8 miles SE of Orfordness and, at 1215 hours, were recalled and landed. Formation flying was carried out during the afternoon until 1705 hours. The Squadron certainly had their share of celebrities today. It is hoped that they were as favourably impressed with us as we were with them.
Wednesday, 11 February, 1942
Weather, bright and clear at first in the morning with a slight ground haze. Vis 3 to 6 miles. At 0945 hours, with S/L Campbell as leader, the Squadron took off to practice operational and formation flying. They were recalled at 1030 hours to stand by for an offensive escort job. The sweep was cancelled at 1240 hours. At 1300 hours, one Flight was brought to readiness and one Flight at 15 minutes readiness. At 1350 hours, one Flight went on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness and were relieved at 1440 hours when the aircraft were ordered to patrol another convoy 15 miles off Clacton-on-Sea at 1530 hours. This patrol continued to 1800 hours and the Squadron was released at 1840 hours. A good afternoon’s operations.
Thursday, 12 February, 1942
Weather fair to fine, becoming cloudy with fog. The Squadron was at readiness at 0737 hours. At 0900 hours, two a/c (Red Section), F/S McDonald and P/O Cawsey, were scrambled to investigate e/a, report number 27, coming into Clacton-on-Sea. A/C given 2 vectors onto raider that was a single e/a plotted at 3,000 feet. Our Section was at 8,000 feet. Controller vectored them 120 degrees from Clacton-on-Sea. Red Section reported visibility bad and was instructed to use their own discretion. At 0930 hours R/T failed. F/S McDonald reports that he and P/O Cawsey dived into cloud then he suddenly felt his aircraft shudder and he lost control. The instruments in his a/c went haywire and the a/c went to pieces, tumbling over and over toward the sea. F/S McDonald bailed out, landing in the sea close to a naval craft which picked him up four minutes after entering the water at approximately 0943 hours. F/S McDonald was taken to Ashmore Naval Hospital, Brightlingsae. He was suffering from shock but was otherwise uninjured. P/O Cawsey, after entering the cloud, was not seen or heard from again. The skipper of the Naval craft HMD Reids reported that he saw F/S McDonald break cloud in his parachute and what appeared to be an a/c dive into the sea a mile distant. He did not see any further a/c or parachute break cloud. P/O Cawsey was a very likeable lad, conscientious, punctual in his appointments, but inclined to be over confident. At 1100 hours, the Squadron was brought to readiness and was briefed for a Wing show with targets being the battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU in convoy going through the Straits of Dover. The Wing took off at 1140 hours with S/L Milne leading. Our Squadron was under the leadership of S/L Campbell, (Red Blue and Yellow Sections) with W/C Eyre as Red 4. The Wing was to join with the Debden Wing overhead and then proceed to the coast. The Wing was over Manston, at 1442 hours, disappearing into cloud in a climb to 7,000 feet on the way to the target, with another broken layer at 2,000 feet. As they approached the target, S/L Campbell, who was at 2,500 feet, saw a burst of smoke between himself and Gravelines on the French Coast. As he turned right, two Hudsons appeared on the same level flying in the same direction. S/L Campbell kept on the port side as he was waiting for the Squadron to break through cloud. Suddenly, 3 ME 109Es made a head-on quarter attack at the Hudsons. S/L Campbell tired to head them off, giving full deflection of shot which had the effect of sheering one away, the other two dived to sea level and were lost in the cloud. The Hudsons did not appear to be damaged. S/L Campbell turned and saw to the East a large blaze on the water with what appeared to be a ship with port and starboard sides ablaze. More ME 109es appeared from the East at cloud base; he gave chase, mixing in with a lot of Spitfires. By this time, he had lost the Squadron and, whilst trying to rejoin them, flew over the ships noting that the blaze was now out. At 1503 hours, he saw what he thought were two Flak ships throwing up flak bursting at 2,000 feet near the cloud base. Two of our Squadron, with three other Spits joined S/L Campbell and they headed West. The ME 109s kept breaking cloud base but when the Squadron turned on them, they took cover. At 1518 hours, approximately eight Wimpys appeared from the East. S/L Campbell escorted them to 15 miles off Dover and then returned to base. The Wimpys were still flying on a Southerly direction. Our Yellow Section engaged e/a at 2,000 feet. Sgt Ryckman positioned his a/c on the tail of a ME 109F and gave it a two-second burst at 275 yards with cannon and machine gun. The e/a was seen to pour black smoke and took evasive action. The e/a straightened out long enough for Ryckman to get in another 3-second burst and strikes were seen on the wings and the fuselage. Heavy black smoke and flames shot from the engine and the e/a went into a dive at 2,000 feet, disappearing into cloud. A second e/a appeared but was lost in the cloud. Sgt Ryckman with Sgt Crist (Yellow 3) engaged a third e/a and both fired a 3-second burst at 300 yards from astern and a second burst of 1 second from dead astern. The e/a disappeared into the cloud but before doing so, strikes were seen on the wings and the fuselage. Sgt Ryckman returned to base, having run out of ammunition. The dive of the first e/a was enveloped in smoke and flames and was witnessed by Sgt Crist and P/O Parr. Sgts Crawford and Somers saw a ME 109E dive toward them out of the cloud, both turned to their right and fired a 3-second burst of cannon and machine gun. No strikes were seen. Both a/c then rejoined their sections. Sgt Crawford engaged a second ME 109 on his right front angle of 45 degrees, firing a 3-second burst of cannon and machine gun fire, then he rejoined his section. All a/c returned to base by 1715 hours, after having quite a party with one e/a destroyed and another damaged. Those in the sortie were: S/L Campbell, P/O Magwood, Sgts Schmitz (Red 1,2 and 3), F/L Walker, F/S Crawford, F/S Somers (Blue 1, 2 and 3) F/S Ryckman, P/O Parr, F/S Crist (Yellow 1,2 and 3) and W/C Eyre (Red 4).
Friday, 13 February, 1942
Weather fair to fine with part sunshine, clearing in the morning. Cloud 6/10ths to 9/10ths. At 0900 hours, two sections went on formation flying. These were recalled as the Squadron was put on readiness at 0946 hours. The sections LAB at 0955 hours and 1010 hours. F/S Somers, with F/S Belcher, as a passenger TOB for Brize Norton at 0945 hours in the Miles-Magister, the objective being to ferry two Spitfires to North Weald. Three sections, Red, Blue, and Yellow were airborne at 1050 hours to patrol and escort seven destroyers approximately 150 miles on course 085 from North Weald. Our aircraft located the convoy which was going NE off the French Coast. When the destroyers sighted our a/c they altered course to the SW. Patrol lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes, with the Squadron LAB at 1230 hours. At 1245 hours, Red Section was scrambled to Southwold to intercept an e/a but were recalled to base, landing at 1255 hours, the e/a having disappeared. At 1310 hours, three Sections, Red, Blue and Yellow, TOB to continue their escort for the destroyers which they picked up just off the English Coast, with four at Barrow Deep and the three other destroyers just off Felixstowe heading SW and one other destroyer in about the same position heading NNE. This escort of three sections was relieved and landed at base at 1430 hours. Red and Yellow Sections TOB at 1515 hours to continue the escort patrol of the destroyers, LAB at 1700 hours. Nothing to report. Some local flying and cine-gun was practised in the late afternoon. All of the pilots returned to base from Brize Norton and Martlesham, bringing over three a/c that had been weather bound in Martlesham and two others from Brize Norton. The Squadron was released from operations after a good days work with everyone happy, at 1842 hours.
Saturday, 14 February, 1942
Weather partly cloudy with 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud. Vis 2 to 5 miles generally. The Squadron took advantage of excellent weather and training flying was carried out in the morning for height (25,000 feet) chasing, dogfights and GCI co-operation. Sgt O’Neill did a cross-country flight. F/S Crawford and Sgt Olmsted with P/O Hurst did aerobatics. P/O Aitken did a cannon test. How smoothly everything goes as long as the pilots can fly.
Sunday, 15 February, 1942
Weather cloudy in the morning, becoming fair in the late afternoon. Cloud 7/10ths to 10/10ths with vis 1 to 3 miles. At 0810 hours, 2 Sections TOB on convoy patrol 10 miles east of Martlesham. Escort was continuous, with the Sections being relieved every hour and a half. Last patrol LAB 1405 hours. S/L Campbell, F/L Wood, F/S Campbell and Sgt Beurling went to Southend to participate in Air-to-Air competition of 11 group – result was fair. P/O Gillespie promoted to Acting F/L and posted to 72 Squadron as a Flight Commander. Splendid work, fine fellow, a loss to our Squadron and a gain for No. 72, and our best wishes go with him. Excellent show at Drury Lane tonight. Tommy Trinder was in the cast. It was probably the first time for most of the Canadians on this Squadron to see Trinder, England’s foremost comedian, in person. Comments were amusing.
Monday, 16 February, 1942
Weather much the same as yesterday. Practice flying carried out during the day from 0935 hours to 1750 hours. During the afternoon, the Squadron scrambled to 20,000 feet. F/S McDonald returned today, from his harrowing experience. A bit thinner perhaps and a little jittery, he looks tired but otherwise OK. Sgt Crawford was posted to No. 55 OTU. F/O Lodge inspected the new billets at Sites 1&7 Thornwood. The personnel have moved in. These quarters are agreeably better than the ones just vacated. I’m sure that a great deal of comfort is to be received here. The meals are on quite a high standard, in fact, the roast beef was much better than I have seen in the Officer’s Mess. Personnel seemed quite happy and had no complaints. The drawback is the time lost in traversing backward and forward for meals.
Tuesday, 17 February, 1942
Weather hazy, clearing later with 10/10ths low cloud. Practice flying was done consisting of cine-gun and cloud flying. Five Sections were put on readiness at 1115 hours. At 1215 hours, Blue and green Sections TOB for convoy patrol off Barrow Deep. These were relieved at one-hour intervals until it was cancelled at 1513 hours. Three sections were called to readiness at 1554 hours and Red Section was scrambled to patrol off Clacton-on-Sea, LAB at 1750 hours. F/L Wood, with his section who were on their way out to relieve the convoy patrols SE of Clacton-on-Sea at 1405 hours, saw a DO 217 below the cloud base which was 800 too 1,000 feet. He instructed the section to proceed on patrol while he turned to give chase. The DO 217 was seen to jettison bombs in the sea, climb and was lost in the cloud. It did not reappear. No damage by the bombs was seen. Another anti-gas exercise, with personnel taking more interest in these doings which commenced at 0900 hours in the morning.
Wednesday, 18 February, 1942
Weather cloudy with 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud and vis 1,000 to 2,000 yards. Training flying was carried out by the Squadron during the day. F/L Walker did cannon testing. At 1005 hours, Red and Yellow Sections scrambled. Yellow Section was recalled at 1015 hours, Red returned at 1120. Nothing sighted and nothing to report. Convoy patrol commenced at 1045 hours for a convoy 15 miles ESE off Shoeburyness. The sections relieved one another until 1355 hours. F/L Walker, P/O Hurst, F/S Schmitz went to Hunsdon at 1735 hours for dusk flying. The Squadron was released at 1845 hours.
Thursday, 19 February, 1942
Weather cloudy, occasional slight snow shower, with 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud 1,000 to 2,000 and a base of 500 to 1,000 feet. Vis 3 to 6 miles. The Squadron was put on 15 minutes readiness at 0740 hours. A Gas Defence exercise went on from 0900 to 1015 hours with a/c acting as bombers. Nice work. The pilots returned from Hunsdon. Practice flying and cine-gun were carried out in the afternoon. 403 Squadron stood in for 222 on readiness during the lunch hour. S/L Campbell left at 1550 hours to pay a visit to Biggin Hill, returning at 1710 hours. The Squadron was released at 1851 hours. A letter of thanks was received from the Chilean Ambassador.
Friday, 20 February, 1942
Weather remains the same day to day; cold and hazy, vis fair. Practice flying consisting of cine-gun and formation flying was carried out. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was put on readiness. Nothing exciting happened today with the exception that soap is to be rationed as of today. Horrors. The Games Rooms on Site 1&7, equipped by the Salvation Army Branch of Auxiliary Services, opened for the airmen’s pleasure at 1700 hours. Although confined by space, these rooms have been decorated, and furnished with writing tables, games, reading material and radios. These rooms should be an asset to the sites. 11 Group signalled at 1700 hours that F/L Wood was awarded the DFC. Congratulations ‘Timber’ (from Ottawa way out west). We are very pleased about this as F/L Wood has been with the Squadron since its formation. This brings the number of DFCs awarded to personnel while serving with this Squadron to three. Who Next!
Saturday, 21 February, 1942
Weather today was cold with snow flurries and 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud, vis 1,000 to 4,000 yards. One section was put at readiness from 0719 hours. The pilots went to the link trainer. The Wing was released in the afternoon for organized sport. Some of the pilots went to town. P/O Hurst and P/O Aitken went on seven days leave. The Officers of 403 Squadron attended a dance given by the Suffolk Regiment at Hill Hall. Jolly good show. There was a dance on station at Drury Lane for the NCOs and Airmen. Photographs of 403 Squadron appeared in Canada Weekly, February 21 edition. The COs inspected the new billets.
Sunday, 22 February, 1942
Weather, light snow with 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. Vis 1 to 4 miles and less in snow. Weather tests reported that it was unfit for flying. Little or no activity today. The Squadron was brought to readiness at 1515 hours as enemy aircraft were reported but the Squadron was moved back to 30 minutes readiness almost immediately. Another very fine ENSA show was enjoyed this evening by most of the personnel.
Monday, 23 February, 1942
Weather mainly cloudy clearing slowly. Practice flying, formation and cine-gun were carried out. ‘B’ Flight was on readiness at 1300 hours and ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes. F/S Rainville went on a flight to Martlesham and returned. The Squadron was released at 1913 hours. S/L Campbell went on seven days leave, a well-earned rest. F/L Wood assumed command of the Squadron.
Tuesday, 24 February, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with some light snow. Cloud was 8/10ths based at 2,000 to 4,000 feet with vis 2 to 5 miles. The Squadron was at readiness at 0658 hours. At 0854 hours, two sections went on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness. Relief sections were sent out during the morning, landing at 1330 hours. P/O Hurst made a crash landing, the aircraft was damaged but he was unhurt. Practice flying was carried out during the afternoon – formation and cine-gun. The Squadron was brought to readiness at 1500 hours for 45 minutes. P/O Aitken, P/O Magwood, F/S Rainville and Sgt Beurling TOB at 1640 hours for Hunsdon to do night flying. F/L Wood and P/O Dick went over by motor car.
Wednesday, 25 February, 1942
Weather still cloudy, becoming fair with occasional light snow. Cloud was 8/10ths to 10/10ths at 2,000 to 4,000 feet and vis was 2 to 6 miles. The pilots returned from Hunsdon after making an excellent showing at night flying. 14 hours, 45 minutes were piled up. This is tops. One Flight was brought to readiness at 0837 hours, the remainder practised formation flying, cine-gun, amp reading and pin-pointing. Two sections went on convoy patrol but were recalled. The Squadron was released from operations at 1525 hours. All of the pilots went to the lecture room at Station Intelligence for a talk by AVM Leigh-Mallory on ‘Review of War and our Possibilities in the Spring of 1942’ and some gen talk on a new type of engine for Spitfires and collapsible tanks. Very instructive and interesting talk ending on the watchword ‘Physical Fitness for Pilots’.
Thursday, 26 February, 1942
Weather cloudy with light snow. 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud base at 1,500 feet. Vis 1 to 2 miles. No activity today. One section was at readiness at 1300 hours to 1919 hours. F/L Wood went on a familiarization flight. Tonight the Officers and NCOs bade farewell, good luck, and God’s keeping to two of our gamiest and smallest pilots, F/Ss Crist and Ryckman on their posting overseas (East). A keen pair doing excellent teamwork.
Friday, 27 February, 1942
Weather cloudy becoming fair in the afternoon, closing late afternoon. One section was at readiness at 15 minutes and ‘A’ Flight at 30 minutes, available from 0920 hours to release at 1330 hours. Eight a/c went at different periods on familiarization flights to Needham Market. F/L Wood and Sgt Olmsted did a sector reconnaissance. Flying was discontinued at 1655 hours. F/S Campbell, with AC1 Baldwin went to Hornchurch where they remained overnight due to weather closing in. S/L Belton and Frayne (RCAF Padres) visited 403 Squadron. S/L Belton is our visiting Padre and has promised to look after the interests of the personnel, providing comforts, amusements and to their spiritual welfare. They were favourably impressed with the set-up here and spent the afternoon chatting with pilots, officers and airmen. Sgts Connell and O’Neill posted overseas. Good luck.
Saturday, 28 February, 1942
Weather cloudy to fair with smoke haze and low cloud, 10/10ths at 500 to 1,500 feet. Vis 1 to 3 miles. Two a/c were at readiness at 0647 hours. The Squadron went on readiness at 0800 hours to 1304 hours and was released at 30 minutes availability. The trippers, F/S Campbell and AC1 Baldwin, returned from Hornchurch. During the afternoon 7 ATC visited the Squadron and were taken up for flips. The Squadron is still waiting for ‘fun and games’ with the Army. Gift cigarettes were distributed to all personnel this afternoon. These were most necessary for the majority of the airmen.
RCAF Officers – aircrew – 9
RCAF Officers – ground – 4
RCAF Airmen – aircrew – 15
RCAF Airmen – ground – 130
RAF Officers – aircrew – 2
RAF Officers – ground – 1
RAF Airmen – aircrew – 1
RAF Airmen – ground – 68
Operational flying time – 182 hours
Training flying time – 241 hours
Patrols carried out – 129 operational
Spitfires – 18 Magister – 1 Tiger Moth – 1
I want to find more information on LeClare Allerthorn Walker and how he got his Mids (Mention in dispatch). LeClare’s first appears in January 1942 in the squadron’s operational record books. He is practising on the Link Trainer.
There is another Walker mentioned and not to be confused with LeClare. He is Flight Lieutenant Walker.
Bradley Reardon Walker DFC was born at Hamilton, Ontario (ON). On 27 May, 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF in London, ON.
He received air crew instruction at various training schools in Canada and on January 20, 1941, graduated as a pilot, from No. 2 Service Flying Training School at Ottawa (Uplands) ON.
After arriving overseas in 1941 and receiving further training he was posted to no. 403 Squadron Fighter Command. On June 14, 1942 he completed his first tour of operations and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). His citation reads as follows:
“Flight Lieutenant Walker completed 14 operational sorties before joining his present squadron. He has since participated in 38 fighter sweeps over France and has led the squadron on three occasions. In April 1942, he led a flight in a successful attack made by the squadron against a formation of enemy airccraft. One hostile aircraft was destroyed and several others damaged. Flight Lieutenant Walker has proved himself to be a courageous and skilful leader and has set a fine example for all.”
For his skill and courage during his first tour, the United States government decorated him with the USA Air Medal on August 27, 1943.
After completing his first tour of protect and attack missions, Walker volunteered for a second tour and was posted to Squadron No. 14 based at Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands. For his skill and courage against the Japanese, he was “Mentioned In Despatches”. His citation reads as follows:
“Squadron Leader Walker, as commander of a fighter squadron actively engaged in fighter-bomber operations against the Japanese, has by his fine leadership and excellent example inspired and developed his unit into a fighter squadron of high quality. He personally has led his men on many operational sorties against enemy installations.”
In January 1942, LeClare Allerthorn Walker was a Flight Sergeant. In this January ORB you will also find another pilot who is mentioned.
Thursday, 1 January, 1942
Weather again overcast and misty. Unfit for flying. In the afternoon, a Baseball Match was played between ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights (Pilots only). ‘B’ Flight emerged victorious by 5 runs to 1. The particulars given regarding the strength of the Squadron on 31.12.41. remain the same for today, 1.1.42.
Friday, 2 January, 1942
Weather again dull and foggy, no flying. In the morning, the pilots played the ground personnel at baseball. The pilots won by 18 runs to 15. Later, the pilots were given drill instruction by F/L Gibbons, Station Ground Defence Officer. Some clay pigeon shooting was done during the afternoon.
Saturday, 3 January, 1942
Weather, another dull day and mist. Rain in the afternoon. Compass swinging and Link Trainer visited in the morning. In the afternoon, the pilots and the majority of the ground personnel were released to attend the Soccer, Rugger and Hockey matches between the Station and Hornchurch for the AOC’s Challenge Cup. North Weald won the cup. No flying during the day.
Sunday, 4 January, 1942
Weather dull and misty in the morning, clearing later. No flying during the day.
Monday, 5 January, 1942
Weather cloudy and misty, with some rain and sleet. General practice flying and Sector Reconnaissance flying; also camera gun practice.
Tuesday, 6 January, 1942
Weather cloudy, some fine periods with fog late in the day. Squadron formation flying was carried out during the morning. During the afternoon, the Squadron accompanied the Wing on a Channel Sweep that was entirely uneventful. Sgt D.C. Campbell from 64 Squadron, Hornchurch, and Sgt J.L. Mitchell from 602 Squadron, Henley, posted to the Squadron wef 6.1.42.
Wednesday, 7 January, 1942
Weather cloudy and foggy all day. No flying. Baseball game played against 121 Squadron in the afternoon. 403 Squadron won.
Thursday, 8 January, 1942
Weather cloudy, fair periods with showers. No flying. Sgts Walker, Argue, Mitchell and Olmsted, and P/O Hurst visited the Link Trainer. P/O McPharlin posted to RAF Station North Weald, non-effective sick wef 8.1.42.
Friday, 9 January, 1942
Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud early morning becoming 3/10ths at 5,000 in the afternoon. Air firing carried out by the Squadron and local flying practice. No operational flying was done today. Sgt Pilot J.L. Mitchell posted to 411 Squadron, Hornchurch wef 8.1.42.
Saturday, 10 January, 1942
Weather cloudy until dusk, then slight showers with snow later. Visibility 2 to 6 miles. The Squadron carried out routine flying. Air firing to Martlesham, cine-gun, sector reconnaissance, aircraft test and dusk landings.
Sunday, 11 January, 1942
Weather fair to fine; mist persisting until 1700 hours then fog. Vis 1 to 4 miles until dusk. The Squadron again carried out cine-gun exercises, commencing at 0930 hours until 1705 hours. Sgt Crawford went on a GCS Co-op from 1400-1500 hours. Three sections carried out Squadron formation flying, while Sgts Campbell and Beurling did some cross country in the Magister to Hornchurch.
Monday, 12 January, 1942
Weather fair to fine until 2100 hours then cloudy. Fog and frost all day. Vis poor at first, improving until noon then falling again. The new Squadron Leader, C.N.S. Campbell, arrives to assume command of 403 Squadron. He was posted to us from 72 Squadron and, from all reports, he will be a great asset to the Squadron, a steady leader and fine example for ambitious pilots. He succeeds S/L A.C. Douglas, who was held in high esteem by the Squadron. S/L Douglas leaves to take-up his duties with RAF Station North Weald, wef 12.1.42; our best wishes go with him.
Tuesday, 13 January, 1942
Weather poor, improving in the afternoon and closing in again in the evening. No flying this morning. Four sections of two a/c each carried out cine-gun practice from 1535 hours to 1555 hours. One section of two a/c each carried out formation flying. Sgt Somers did some cloud flying.
Wednesday, 14 January, 1942
Weather overcast, cloudy in the morning and fine in the afternoon and evening. The Squadron was fairly active today. Beginning at 0950 hours to 1640 hours, five sections of two a/c each carried out camera gun and formation flying. Sgt Somers did a/c and cannon tests, Sgt Rainville did aerobatics and local flying.
Thursday, 15 January, 1942
Weather cold and fine most of the day, becoming cloudy later. Vis poor in fog and mist day and night. Due to weather no flying activity in the Squadron this morning. At 1415 hours, F/L Wood went up for a weather test. S/L Campbell did a cannon gun test and two sections (Red and Yellow) each did formation and cine-gun practice. Sgt Collinson posted to Bradwell Bay.
Friday, 16 January, 1942
Weather cold and overcast most of the day with poor Vis. Weather conditions rather sticky. At 1115 hours P/O Dick carried out a weather test. Later, two sections (Blue and Green), each of two a/c, took off on convoy patrol, returning to base at 1400 hours. Nothing of interest to report.
Saturday, 17 January, 1942
Weather fine, vis 4,000 feet, with the wind from the NE. F/L Walker carried out a weather test at 0915 hours. Squadron formation and cine-gun practice was the order of the day, most of the pilots participating. At 1200 hours, Sgt Monserez and Sgt Campbell in Red Section, took off to do cine-gun and formation flying. During the exercise and just before they were about to land, Sgt Monserez appeared to be having some difficulty with the undercarriage on the aircraft. After several attempts, by doing aerobatics, to drop the undercarriage, Sgt Monserez manoeuvred his plane and began gaining height. He was next seen to come through cloud formation in a spin and crashed into the woods opposite the Officers Mess at 1310 hours. F/L Wood flew over the vicinity where the a/c appeared to crash and, after thirty minutes, he sighted the plane. With the assistance of F/L Wood, the ambulance with F/L (Dr) Riddell and other officers, was successfully guided to the scene of the accident. Sgt Monserez was found dead and the a/c damaged beyond repair. The boys felt keenly the loss of one of their colleagues but with that grim determination to ‘carry on’ finished the days activities with cloud and local flying.
Owing to his excellent work in operational flying, his leadership and his outstanding sea rescue work, S/L Campbell has been awarded the DFC. ‘Whoopie’ Our first DFC in the Squadron. Congratulations Sir, let’s add the bar to it while in 403 Squadron. Best wishes.
Sunday, 18 January, 1942
Weather fair, vis 1,000 yards, wind ESE 15 mph. No flying today due to weather. Talks to pilots and games. The Squadron was released at 1750 hours.
Monday, 19 January, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cloud at 500 feet, vis 500 yards with wind SE at 15 mph. No improvement in the weather, planes were grounded. The pilots examined their equipment and parachutes were adjusted and repaired. At 1300 hours, the Squadron was released on 4-hours notice.
Tuesday, 20 January, 1942
Weather 10/10ths at 2,000 feet, vis 2,000 yards. Wind ESE at 10 mph. S/L Campbell went to Martlesham to do air to air firing, but returned due to faulty R/T. Blue, Green, Yellow, Red and Black Sections flew to Martlesham for air to air firing. Sgts Crist and Ryckman went to Debden to collect new Spitfires, returning at 1230 hours. All a/c returned from Martlesham except ‘M’ turned back on account of pressure. Aircraft landed at North Weald at 1650 hours.
Wednesday, 21 January, 1942
Weather 8/10ths at 2,000 feet vis 2,000 yards. Wind ESE at 10 mph. This morning, the Squadron attended the funeral of Sgt Monserez. The service was held in the RC Chapel, RAF Station, North Weald. After the service, the cortege moved at slow march from the Chapel to beyond the Station entrance, travelling by bus and motor cars to the churchyard in North Weald where the remains were laid to rest. There was a short service at the graveside, followed by the Airforce honours to the dead. Father S/L McNeil officiated at both services.
P/O Gillespie carried out a weather test at 1330 hours. P/Os Dick and Magwood and Sgt Somers took off at 1440 hours on a pinpointing exercise to great Dunnow, Halstead, Bellerires, Fyfield, Stapleford and Towney landing at 1540. Red and Yellow sections ordered to scramble on interception of e/a at 1505 hours L.A.B. 1615. No e/a were sighted. Square search carried out, and two Wellington aircraft were sighted.
Thursday, 22 January, 1942
Weather 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet. Vis 4,000 yards with the wind from the ESE at 10 mph. Three sections, Red, Yellow and Blue of four a/c each, TOB 0850 hours for Martlesham to carry out operations for QO. Landed at 1745 hours. Only ten a/c returned, two remaining due to engine trouble. F/L Walker and P/O Gillespie, together with P/O Parr and Sgt Belcher scrambled on QO, airborne at 1620 hours, landing at 1700 hours. Nothing was sighted. Three new Sgt Pilots, Oliver, Cromwell, and O’Neil were posted to the Squadron from 53 OTU Llandow.
Friday, 23 January, 1942
Weather overcast, snowing in the morning, changing to rain in the afternoon. The Squadron was released for the day, off station at 1140 hours. Previous to this, S/L Campbell gave a talk to the pilots on air tactics, Squadron formation etc followed by a discussion. Officers were then fitted with gas masks. The adjutant, F/O Carlysle, visited Hornchurch. F/O Lodge took pay parade for the airmen. There was a lecture in Drury Lane at 1800 hours given by W/C Ashton on the German Air Force. This was very enlightening and well received.
Saturday, 24 January, 1942
Weather bright and clear in the morning, becoming cloudy with rain in the afternoon. Vis 3-6 miles. Two sections, Red and Blue of four a/c each did cine-gun and follow the leader. P/O Hurst did pinpointing, Hitchen, Bunting, Ford, Great Dunnow, Royston. P/O Gillespie and P/O Parr to Southend in the Moth. P/O D.S. Aitken posted to us from 501 Squadron.
Sunday, 25 January, 1942
Weather mostly fair becoming cloudy later in the day. Vis 4-8 miles. The Squadron was on convoy patrol off Barrow Deep from 0815 hrs until 1345 hrs. During the afternoon, the pilots carried out aircraft tests, formation practice, circle and bumps and dog fighting. F/L Walker, P/O Gillespie, P/O Parr and Sgt Ryckman went to Hunsdon for dusk landings and night circuits and landings. Duties carried out. The Squadron had a very active day including church parade to the Church of England, with P/O Gillespie in charge.
Monday, 26 January, 1942
Weather fair with ground mist and occasional scattered showers of rain or snow. Vis good and wind gusty, with a gale warning at 1030 hours of the east coast. F/L Walker and P/O Parr returned to North Weald from Hunsdon. The Squadron participated in air to ground firing at Dinghy Flats. P/O Zoochkan, P/O Magwood, Sgts Belcher, Hubbard, Campbell, Argue and Beurling went on local pinpointing exercise.
Tuesday, 27 January, 1942
The pilots carried out section and Squadron formation flying. Sgt O’Neil went on a sector reconnaissance. P/O Parr, P/O Hurst, Sgt Ryckman and Sgt Olmsted went on convoy patrol. Due to the weather, they were given homing to Southend. S/L Hammond, S/L Jones and F/L Spires from RCAF Headquarters visited the Squadron for an Inspection as to the general welfare and accommodation of personnel. S/L Campbell appeared on behalf of F/S Jefferies at Blake Hill in regard to his attitude towards a sentry while on duty. F/S Jefferies was given a serve reprimand.
Wednesday, 28 January, 1942
Weather fair becoming overcast with ground haze. Vis 4 to 8 miles. The Squadron took part in convoy patrols off Barrow Deep, patrolling from 0820 hours to 1620 hours. At 1100 hours, S/L Campbell, Sgts Schmitz, Somers, and Crawford took off on a patrol for enemy reconnaissance. Nothing to report. F/L Walker and Sgt Beurling took off on a scramble but were recalled. S/L Campbell, F/L Walker, Sgts Munn, Somers, Hubbard and Campbell went to Hunsdon for night flying. ENSA show for the troops was attended and apparently enjoyed by all. The Squadron was complimented by G/C Pain on their fine show during night flying.
Thursday, 29 January, 1942
Weather misty, poor visibility with rain and sleet in the afternoon. The Squadron took part in mock air raid and gas attack in the morning. During the afternoon, the pilots went to the cinema room to view films of their results of firing practice. Pilots returned from Hunsdon, leaving a/c on account of weather. P/O Zoochkan, Sgts Ryckman, Olmsted and Argue went to Hunsdon to return with the a/c when weather permits.
Friday, 30 January, 1942
Weather closed in the morning, snow and rain in the afternoon. F/S Rainville instructed F/S Campbell on how to swing a compass. P/O Magwood, F/S Somers, Sgts Schmitz, Beurling, Walker, O’Neil went to the Link Trainer.
Saturday, 31 January, 1942
Weather cloudy with occasional wintry showers. Squadron on readiness. Sgts Zoochkan, Ryckman, Olmsted and Argue returned from Hunsdon, L.A.B. 1230 PM. Sgt Hubbard, Campbell, Beurling, Crawford, and Argue left for Hunsdon for night flying. No activity due to weather.
RCAF Officers – Air crew – 9
RCAF Officers – Ground crew 4
RCAF Airmen – Air crew – 17
RCAF Airmen – Ground crew – 142
RAF Officers – Air crew – 2
RAF Officers – Ground crew – 1
RAF Airmen – Ground crew – 110
Operational flying time 115 hours
Training flying time – 256 hours
Patrols carried out – 89
Aircraft on strength Spitfires 18, Magister 1, Tiger Moth 1.
Saturday, 1 August, 1942
Weather, 4/10ths cloud with a heavy ground haze until 1400 hours when it lifted a little. Flying was practically at a standstill until the afternoon.
Pilot Officer J.E. Gardiner has been put on charge for low flying. He was returning from an air-to-air firing and cine gun practice with F/S Turner on July 27th and was seen flying at a low altitude. He was not aware that he was doing anything wrong. His action was the normal flying done down South from where we have just come. He was not doing a beat-up, simply looking the land over, as is customary practice now, to familiarize himself with the ground appearance from low altitude. P/O Gardiner is definitely the steadiest young pilot in the Squadron. He does not drink, is exceptionally keen about flying, is very conscientious and is acting No. 2 in the Flight. At 1925 hours, F/S D.L. Rawson, in attempting to make a steep landing, struck the ground very hard and damaged his port oleo leg, making it impossible to lock the left undercart in the down position. Realizing that he had damaged his oleo, he asked for and received permission to land at Scorton aerodrome so that he could make a long flat approach. He made a good one-wheel landing but damaged the port wing tip and flap. Aircraft is a Category ‘A’ damage.
Sunday, 2 August, 1942
Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud with haze and poor visibility. Flying practically nil. Very little wind. Sgt T.H. Skebo, Can 4190A, is leaving the Squadron to take a course as a Flight Engineer. He is an excellent NCO, a good tradesman and an above average type. He is keen to go on this course to qualify for flying duties. Sgt A. Thomas R.100332 has been detached for two weeks to attend 13 Group refresher course on Navigation, to be held at No. 2 School of Air Navigation Cranage. F/L Jephson of 406 Squadron is holding a Summary of Evidence on the charge of low flying against P/O J.E. Gardiner.
Monday, 3 August, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cloud, visibility bad all day and flying washed out until 1700 hours. A scramble was called at 1930 hours as a Dornier 217 was reported in the vicinity, but nothing was sighted. The poor visibility made contact with the e/a a matter of chance, as he stuck to the heavy cloud formation. Bombs were dropped on Middlesborough. S/L AC Deere, DFC and Bar, arrived back from leave in the evening after a week in the South of England looking tanned and fit. He reported warm weather throughout his leave. F/O H.F. Francis, the Adjutant, left today to take up duties at 405 Squadron, with his successor, Flying Officer SE Bringloe, having reported for the previous evening. The Sergeant’s mess at Hartlepool held a well attended party in the evening. All present reported a high time, particularly Sgt Johnston. Sports Day was postponed until August 8th, due to the inclement weather.
Tuesday, 4 August, 1942
Weather, clearing slightly with about 8/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet and visibility of 3 to 10 miles. Formation practice and tail chase was done by ‘B’ Flight as well as Halifax co-operation in the afternoon. Uneventful day for ‘A’ Flight at West Hartlepool. A party was arranged for the performers of an ENSA show at the Officer’s Mess at the conclusion of the entertainment but they could not attend. Undaunted, the Mess members carried on and several new liquid tenors were discovered.
Wednesday, 5 August, 1942
Weather 6/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet, clearing slightly in the evening with visibility of 15 to 20 miles. A quiet day for ‘A’ Flight with one uneventful scramble. Flight formation, cine gun, high altitude flight by one section at 30,000 feet and general flying was carried out by ‘B’ Flight. Dog fights were also flown between Mustangs and Spitfires, the former showing surprising manoeuvrability and had the Spit cold turkey several times. F/L LS Ford tried out a Mustang during the afternoon and was much impressed. Spitfire EN797 was slightly damaged today in an unusual occurrence. The mainplane buckled slightly when Sgt H.J. Dowding pulled out of a dive at 360 mph. The a/c is being flown to the repair unit for inspection.
Thursday, 6 August, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet with some ground haze and visibility up to 20 miles. The Squadron did some formation at 1015 hours, rendezvousing at West Hartlepool where the CO remained for lunch. It was a normal day for ‘B’ Flight, with cine gun, aerobatics and general flying. Two sections went on Ground Control Interception in the afternoon. ‘A’ Flight had one scramble from West Hartlepool in the morning but no activity came out if it. ‘A’ Flight will return to Catterick on August 9th, 1942. The latest ‘Wings Abroad’, dated August 5th carries the awarding of the DFC to Sergeant Pilot Beurling of Verdun, Quebec, who destroyed four Axis fighter aircraft and damaged several others on July 27th, giving him a total of 12 a/c destroyed. Sergeant Beurling spent seven months with 403 Squadron, serving under F/L ‘Brad’ Walker DFC.
Friday, 7 August, 1942
Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet. The Squadron formation practice at 1400 hours was called off due to heavy cloud formation and unfavourable weather at West Hartlepool. No flying was done by ‘A’ Flight all day. ‘B’ Flight carried out cine gun, aerobatics and formation in the morning. Flying Officer J. Wiejski returned from leave today.
Saturday, 8 August, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus with intermittent rain all day. Flying was suspended and the Sports Parade is washed out until tomorrow at 1400 hours.
Sunday, 9 August, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths cloud with a wind of 15 to 20 mph from the NW. The Squadron did a formation practice at 1015 hours. Rendezvous was made at West Hartlepool. ‘A’ Flight postponed their return to Catterick until tomorrow, so they would not interfere with Sports Parade today. The Meet finally got underway at 1400 hours after two postponements due to the bad weather. 403 Squadron made a creditable showing as indicated by the following: Cycle Race 1st place AC1 Last; Shot Put 1st place Sgt P. Lassardo, and 3rd place LAC Kerwin; Discus 2nd place LAC Kerwin; 220 yards 2nd place AC2 Worn; 1 mile relay 2nd place 403 Squadron; 440 relay 2nd place 403 Squadron; Javelin 3rd place Sgt Lassardo; and 100 yards 3rd place P/O J.E. Gardiner. It was an enjoyable afternoon with the weather turning quite warm and sunny. A number of wives and friends of those involved attended.
Monday, 10 August, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus with intermittent rain all day. The return of ‘A’ Flight was postponed until 1600 hours due to the weather conditions at Catterick. P/O J.E. Gardiner will be ‘B’ Flight Commander during the stay at West Hartlepool in the absence of F/L LS Ford who left today to attend the CTC course at Dundonald. No flying activity was done by either flight today.
Tuesday, 11 August, 1942
Weather 6/10ths cloud with the wind at 10 to 15 mph from the NW. At 1200 hours, a scramble was done by Blue Section, P/O Gardiner and F/O Wiejski, over the base and returning in 20 minutes without contact being made. General flying was done by ‘A’ Flight – aerobatics, cine gun, tail chase and formation. Good news for the Squadron, for today commissions were granted to six NCO pilots: F/S G.D. Aitken, F/S H.S. Anderson, Sgt H.J. Murphy, F/S C.R. Olmsted, Sgt M. Johnston and Sgt Monchier, all effective 20 June, 1942. This action will strengthen the Squadron immeasurably and prove a real factor in building up morale. Word was received that the AOC of the Group has recommended that court-martial action be taken against P/O J.E. Gardiner after a review of the Summary of Evidence.
Wednesday, 12 August, 1942
Weather, 5/10ths to 8/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet, clearing towards the evening. A scramble was done at 0620 hours by ‘B’ Flight at West Hartlepool by Blue Section, P/O Gardiner and F/O J. Wiejski. They were airborne for 15 minutes and saw no action. The Squadron did a formation practice at 1450 hours, rendezvousing at West Hartlepool. Convoy duty by Sgt Fletcher and Sgt A.L. Haynes was done at 1555 hours, lasting one hour and 10 minutes and being uneventful. At 1605 hours P/O Olmsted and Sgt Dow were scrambled above the base. About 5 miles from Whitby, P/O Olmsted sighted what appeared to be a Dornier 217 at 1,000 yards. He could not close the gap and it disappeared into heavy cloud at 2,000 feet. With the weather getting sticky, they finally returned to base after being airborne for 50 minutes. P/O Magwood returned from sick leave today, reporting to West Hartlepool immediately.
Thursday, 13 August, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus at 3,000 feet. It was overcast and threatening most of the day. One scramble was done by ‘B’ Flight at West Hartlepool, who intercepted a friendly aircraft. Local formation flying was done in the afternoon. General flying practice was done by ‘A’ Flight in the morning. Word was received today that S/L AC Deere DFC and Bar has been posted to staff duties at Group Headquarters and will leave the Squadron on August 16th, 1942. It is bad news for the Squadron as his ability and leadership have been an inspiration since he joined the Unit. F/L LS Ford DFC will assume command. He is known to the Squadron and will have the respect and confidence of all.
Friday, 14 August, 1942
Weather, fine with 5/10ths to 8/10ths light cloud at 4,000 to 6,000 feet and closing in during the late afternoon. No flying activity was done by either flight during the day. ‘B’ Flight returned to Catterick at 1600 hours.
Saturday, 15 August, 1942
Weather started out fine but closed in during the early morning with low cloud, very poor visibility and intermittent rain. There was no flying today, instead, modifications were carried out on the a/c. The advance ground party left for Manston today.
Sunday, 16 August, 1942
The Squadron took off at 0845 hours for Manston, landing at North Weald owing to bad weather and arriving at Manston at 1400 hours. The second ground party left by train, owing to bad weather at Catterick. The weather was fine at Manston but two a/c overshot on landing (AA736 and AA979). P/O H.S. Anderson broke a shoulder blade and was taken to hospital while P/O M. Johnston was uninjured.
Monday, 17 August, 1942
The second ground party arrived at Manston at 0900 hours. The weather today was very fine with no cloud and only a slight haze on the seaboard. The Squadron took off at 1245 hours, S/L Ford DFC leading, and took part in a Wing Circus in the direction of St. Omer. No opposition was encountered and no matters of interest to report. The Squadron landed safely at 1341 hours. The Squadron was briefed with the Wing for a circus in the direction of Dunkirk at 1545 hours and took off at 1635 hours. Nothing was seen or reported during the operation and the Squadron landed safely at 1805 hours. S/L Ford led the Squadron on both operations.
Tuesday, 18 August, 1942
Weather, fine with good visibility. From 0620 hours, sections began patrolling the convoys in the Channel and the Thames Estuary until 1300 hours. The Squadron, under S/L Ford, took off from Manston at 1600 hours in a circus to the shores of Holland. 12 a/c from the Squadron took part and all landed safely at 1720 hours. At 1830 hours all pilots were briefed for the 19th August.
Wednesday, 19 August, 1942
Weather, fine with a little low, some medium and high clouds and visibility starting at 4,600 yards and improving gradually during the day. The Squadron was ordered to a state of preparedness from 0500 hours to carry out combined operations against Dieppe.
The first sortie was made at 0645 hours; the whole Squadron took off under the command of Squadron Leader Ford. It reached Dieppe at 0715 hours and served as close cover for the ships carrying out the operation. F/L G.V. Hill and his number 2, Sgt M.K. Fletcher attacked a FW 190. The e/a fell to pieces and went into a dive in flames. P/O H.J Murphy successfully attacked a ME 109 and gave it three long bursts, going down to deck level after it. The e/a turned on its back and, when he last saw it, it was a few feet from the ground and was out of control. The combat took place in the valley South East of Dieppe and he could not observe the final result, as he had to take evasive action to avoid hitting the hills. The Squadron landed at 0820 hours.
Three a/c of the Squadron failed to return: AR334, EN850 and AR439 flown by P/O N. Monchier, P/O L.A. Walker and P/O J.E. Gardiner. Enemy casualties: 1 ME 109 and 1 FW 190 destroyed.
The second sortie was made at 1115 hours, the whole Squadron again taking off from Manston under the command of S/L Ford DFC. The Squadron went to Dieppe and covered the ships withdrawal. Heavy smoke, rising over 3,000 feet was seen over Dieppe and some fierce fires were burning. The Squadron again patrolled at 2,500 to 3,000 feet and, after 30 minutes, noticed a number of e/a approaching and several engagements took place. S/L Ford opened fire on a FW 190 at close range, the e/a falling to pieces, parts of which hit S/L Ford’s number 2, P/O R. Wozniak but caused no damage. The e/a burst into flames and went down. This took place on the Dieppe waterfront. F/L PT O’Leary opened fire at 150 yards on a FW 190; black smoke poured out and it went down, disappearing in the clouds. He tried to follow it through the cloud and came against another FW 190 to which he gave a burst at 250 yards. Smoke poured out and the e/a, apparently out of control, went down rapidly, swaying violently. He took a film that may support his claim of this e/a being destroyed. His first engagement is confirmed by his number 2, P/O J. Mozolowski, who witnessed the smoke pouring out. Sgt A.L. Haynes opened fire on a rapidly diving e/a but no claim was made. All 12 a/c landed safely at 1315 hours. Our losses were nil and the enemy losses were 2 FW 190 destroyed and 2 FW 190s damaged.
The third sortie was made at 1620 hours under S/L Ford. The Squadron went to the French Coast and reported that most of our ships were safely more than half way home. Several of the pilots had combats and three of them were successful. S/L Ford shot at a FW 190 that caught fire and crashed into the sea. The pilot was seen to get into his dinghy. Sgt M.K. Fletcher gave several bursts to a FW 190 and smoke poured out before the e/a disappeared into the clouds. Sgt Cabas fired his cannon but makes no claim. All 12 a/c of the Squadron landed safely at Manston at 1820 hours. Our losses nil. Enemy losses two FW 190s destroyed, one FW 190 damaged.
The fourth sortie took place from 1925 hours to 2030 hours, with the whole Squadron taking off under the command of S/L Ford and returning safely. No e/a were encountered and nothing of interest was reported.
The Squadron behaved in a most excellent manner and deserves every congratulation. All ranks behaved splendidly and the ground staff co-operated in a most hearty way. At 1630 hours, a signal was received from the AOC, asking all ranks to make a further effort as we were in view of a great air victory.
“This is a picture of my kite. I thought it turned out pretty good and shows off its beautiful lines”.
Biography and pictures courtesy of Richard Walker
LeCLARE ALLERTHORN WALKER (1918)
“Clare” Walker (1918)
(picture taken 1942)
LeClare Allerthorn Walker, known as Clare, was born in Norwich, Ontario, Canada on 22 June, 1918, the 2nd child of Spence Allerthorn and Mildred Loral (born Bushell) Walker.
When Clare was just two years of age, in 1920, he moved with his parents to Troy, New York, U.S.A. He attended No.18 Elementary School there from 1924 to 1932. During the last 2 years of this period he was very active in the Boy Scouts of America. In the summer of 1932 the family, now consisting of 6 children, returned to Norwich where Clare attended High School and graduated in 1938. During his High School years he was a member of the High School Cadet Corp in which he served as Commanding Officer for 3 of those years. He was also active in sports having participated as a member of the “Rugby” team and the “Track” team.
Following graduation from High School in June 1938 Clare enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Faculty of Toronto University in the fall and at the same time also enrolled in the Canadian Officer Training Corp (C.O.T.C.), Regiment No. 6768. During this time he resided at 327 Huron St., Toronto. Following his 2nd year of University in 1940 he obtained a position with the Ontario Hydro Power Commission in Niagara Falls, for summer employment and resided at 1993 Barker Street. On 15th July Clare submitted an application to join the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force). After successfully completing the medical examination for air crew duties, on 23 July, he was called into active service as an AC2 (Aircraftsman 2nd class), Service No. R66320, on 4 Nov. 1940, and was posted on that date to No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto for basic training. He was transferred to RCAF Station, Trenton, Ont. on 22 Dec. for security guard duty and then back to Toronto on 21 Feb. 1941 to the No.1 Initial Training School for course No. 19.
Following Basic Training Clare was reclassified to LAC (Leading Aircraftman) on 29 Mar. 41 and posted to No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School at Goderich, Ont. to start flying training on the “Tiger Moth” aircraft. A note must be made here:-
This writer (Clare’s brother, Bud) recalls very vividly the day in the spring of 1941 when Clare flew his Tiger Moth over their home in Norwich performing numerous aerobatics. I immediately climbed up the 80 foot radio tower located in our yard (which our father had had built years earlier) to get a closer view of Clare. When he saw me he flew very low and what looked to me extremely close to the tower as I could see him in the aircraft very plainly. All through this our mother was waving vigorously and yelling for him to stop.
Clare completed his Canadian training at Camp Borden, Ont. at No. 1 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) where he graduated from Course No. 30 on Harvard aircraft as a Sergeant Pilot and received his “Wings” on 20 Aug. 1941. Following a short “Leave” in Norwich he departed for Halifax, Nova Scotia on 2nd September to await availability of a ship bound for England. After some delay he finally set sail on 15 Sept. and arrived in England on 29th. He was the first Pilot from Norwich to arrive in England during the 2nd World War. He completed his Advanced Flying Training on Spitfires in Scotland almost immediately and on 23 Dec. preceded to the Canadian Spitfire Fighter Squadron 403, known as the “Wolfe Squadron”, at North Weald, Essex, England, where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 2 Feb. 1942. and commissioned as Pilot Officer, Service No. J15477, on the 10th May that same year.
During this time period Clare made several assignments of his pay to his sister Barbara to help her out financially, while she was in training to become a Nurse at London Hospital in Ontario. His first payment of $20.00 per month began in Mar. 1941 when he was an LAC. In August of the same year, when he was promoted to Sergeant Pilot, he increased the assignment to $40.00. In July 1942, after he was promoted to Pilot Officer in England, he increased the payment to $70.00 per month.
Clare was very proud of his Spitfire aircraft, as evidenced by a note on the back of the picture below, taken in May of 1942, which reads;
“This is a picture of my kite. I thought it turned out pretty good and shows off its beautiful lines”.
On 14 Apr.1942 a special news report appeared in the Canadian newspapers entitled “Ontario Fliers Fail to Scare Britain’s Prime Minister”. The article reads in part:-
Three fliers, including Flt Sgt. L. A. Walker, failed to scare Winston Churchill though they dived their planes to within fifty feet of him. They were engaged in attacking a theoretical gun position and came down from 2000 feet to a spot being inspected by Churchill and Cabinet Ministers. The Ministers scattered like rabbits. “But not the Prime Minister”, Walker reported. “He just stood there while we flew clean over his head. He was the only one of the group who stayed there”.
After flying numerous sorties over Europe, on 19 Aug. 1942, Clare with other members of his squadron set out at 6:45 a.m. to act as escort for ships carrying out landing operations at Dieppe, France. He became separated from the remainder of his section and was last seen heading inland beyond Dieppe (This information was obtained from 2 pilots, in person, of 403 Squadron by this writer, Bud Walker, Clare’s brother, at Bournmouth in southern England in 1945). He was reported as “missing in action” on 19 Aug. 1942 somewhere over Dieppe, France. His parents received a telegram to that affect on 21 August. They also received a letter from Squadron Leader L. S. Ford, Officer Commanding No. 403 Squadron, RCAF written on 25 Aug., which reads in part as follows;
Clare was respected not only for his flying ability but as a companion to the rest of the lads. He showed real promise as a leader and would before long have become a Flight Commander. Not only were the officers fond of him, but the men who serviced his plane thought a great deal of him. He will remain an inspiration to those that he left behind him. We are all hoping and praying that he is safe somewhere as a prisoner of war. Should anything further be heard we will inform you at once.
It was not until some 8 months later on 8 May, 1943 that Clare’s parents received a further telegram to say that Clare was officially presumed dead as of 19 Aug. 1942, as result of air operations over Dieppe. At this time no news from the International Red Cross Committee or from any other source had been received and thus a “Certificate of Presumption of Death” was issued on the 14th May 1943.
It was not until March 1945 that several reports from the No. 1 Missing Research & Enquiry Unit of the Royal Canadian Air Force in England were received by the Dept. of National Defense for Air in Ottawa. The report(s) state:-
“A Spitfire aircraft EN850 crashed at the village of Varengeville, France. Mr. Poidevin, a witness in the case from Varengeville, stated that it was he and his friends who actually recovered the dead pilot’s body. The body was headless (the head was never found), the left arm was found in an oat field and his identity disc was taken by the Germans, however, in spite of this Clare’s name was found inside his jacket pocket.. Poidevin also states that the body was first buried in the Cimeterre des Vertus at St. Aubin-Sur-Scie near Dieppe.. A German Doctor came to remove the body after about 8 days, but failed to do so. The body was removed by the Service Technique of the Mayor of Dieppe and buried in grave 706 of the Canadian Military Cemetery at Hautot-sur-Mer at Dieppe. The grave was later renumbered and is now designated Row F, Grave 60
In an R.C.A.F. message to Air Force Head Quarters, from Air Minister, Kingsway dated 20 Aug. 1942, announcing Clare’s being missing over the French coast on 19 Aug. 1942, mention is made of a Miss P. A. Baker. Unfortunately the Censors have blacked out her relationship and address. The only information this writer has, is that Clare did have a “Girl Friend” in England. A further report states “Miss P. (Phillida) A. Baker (R.N.S.-Royal Naval Service) will be informed of this information when M.R & E. Service confirm the burial particulars.
Clare’s Estate consisted of his “Service Estates” which the “Canadian Air Force Director of Estates” valued at $529.78, and his “War Service Gratuity” valued at $340.14, for a total of $869.82.
Fifty three years later, in 1995, this writer, Clare’s brother Bud, visited France and went to Dieppe to find Clare’s grave at the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery at Hautot-sur-Mer, just south of Dieppe. (see picture of the cemetery Marker below). Of the 944 grave markers in the cemetery only 12 designate the actual burial place of the individual named on the stone. Though the cemetery property was donated by the French Government to Canada, the grounds are maintained by the Canadian Government. It must be said that the cemetery is kept in immaculate condition with many flowers along each row of markers. See also below a picture of the War Memorial Cenotaph, located on the grounds of the Norwich High School, on which Clare’s name is inscribed
Remembering August 19, 1942
Picture taken on November 11, 2015
Remembering Dieppe 1942
Picture taken on August 19, 2015