August 1942


RCAF 403 Squadron

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.

LeClare Walker's Spitfire Mk Vb

“This is a picture of my kite. I thought it turned out pretty good and shows off its beautiful lines”.

LeClare Allerthorn Walker’s biography

Biography and pictures courtesy of Richard Walker


LeClare Walker 1942

“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;

LeClare Walker Spitfire.

“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



LeClare Walker articles


Remembering August 19, 1942

Picture taken on November 11, 2015


Remembering Dieppe 1942

Picture taken on August 19, 2015