Another request from Steve Nickerson

Hello Pierre,

I’m seeking information on the Spitfire Mk IX known as ‘CANADIAN PACIFIC’.
I know that S/L Syd Ford flew this fighter and claimed four aerial victories during the months of February to April 1943. However, I would like to know the history of this fighter and the squadron letters and serial number the aircraft wore when Ford flew it 1943.

Thank you for all the hard work you have done during the past countless years keeping the memory of the 403 and all its members alive for this generation and future generations to read about.
We will remember them.


Steve had already requested some information about Squadron Leader Ford.

Click here.

Post No. 683

Why have I been writing so much about RCAF 403 squadron since 2011?

You may call it obsessive writing.

I prefer calling it the duty to remember. Yesterday was June the 6th. Many people were remembering June the 6th, 1944 for a reason.

June the 6th, 1944, that is exactly why I started writing a blog in 2009 in homage to my wife’s uncle who was a stoker on HMCS Athabaskan.

I got curious when he told us about it. We were talking about his brother Jean who had been wounded on Juno Beach… That’s the first time he talked about the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan.

This, in a sense, is what leads me today to write about Arthur “Art” Monserez who was a friend of Buzz Beurling.

Arthur Monserez color

Courtesy Kenneth Scott


Excerpt from the book

During the early afternoon of 16 January, No. 403 Squadron flew on uneventful convoy patrols, whilst on the following day disaster struck, when Beurling lost his room-mate ‘Art’ Monserez as a result of a tragic but avoidable accident. At 1200 hours, Flight Sergeant A.J. Monserez and Sergeant D.C. Campbell took off to do cinegun and formation flying. On his approach, Monserez discovered his landing-gear wouldn’t lock properly. Taking his Spitfire back up, Monserez started throwing it about, in the hope of freeing the mechanism. He was seen going into a spin, before over-compensating and immediately going into an opposite spin from which he did not recover. Monserez crashed into a wood opposite the officer’s mess. 

The sudden loss of a room-mate in an air accident must have had a devastating effect on Beurling. To lose a friend as a result of combat was one thing, but to witness an avoidable death over your home base was something completely different. But there could be no time to dwell on death in the Services, and the Squadron’s pilots were airborne within hours…

Buzz Beurling’s Friend

The book Sniper of the Skies is very informative even if I know the ending.

I got curious, as always, and I started looking for more information about Buzz Beurling’s friend when I read in the book that he had died.

The sergeant-pilots were billeted in a house close to the airfield, where Beurling shared a room with Flight Sergeant ‘Art’ Monserez. 


And I found some information…

Getting curious is what led me to write this post, which is post number 682.


Buzz with 403 Squadron

I have started reading Sniper of the Skies.


There is precious information about RCAF 403 Squadron when Buzz Beurling was attached first to that squadron.

The sergeant-pilots were billeted in a house close to the airfield, where Beurling shared a room with Flight Sergeant ‘Art’ Monserez. 

Three days after Beurling’s arrival, the Air Officer Commander 11 Group, Air ViceMarshal Leigh-Mallory, visited the Squadron, pausing to talk to the pilots and 
Reporting to Martlesham Heath, Beurling was escorted to the CO’s office by the Squadron Adjutant. Squadron Leader A.G. ‘Pinky’ Douglas, DFC, had led the unit since 30 September 1941, and was one of the few non-Canadian pilots on the Squadron. Beurling later recalled how at their first meeting, Douglas had flicked though his log book, pausing to read his assessments and to remind the young Canadian: ‘Here you’ve got to obey orders and fly how you’re told.’ 

Beurling was informed that he was to be assigned to ‘B’ Flight, which at the time included amongst its members: 

Flying Officer R.R. Gillespie (flight commander) 
Flight Sergeant Larry Somers 
Pilot Officer William Forsythe ‘Bill’ Munn 
Pilot Officer N.D.R. ‘Norm’ Dick 
Flight Sergeant Arthur Joseph ‘Art’ Monserez 
Sergeant D.C. ‘Don’ Campbell 
Sergeant Ken Collison 
​Sergeant Crawford Sergeant A.J. Schmitz 

‘A’ Flight, meanwhile, was composed of: 
Flight Lieutenant J.C.P. ‘Timber’ Wood (English) 
Pilot Officer H.H. ‘Mac’ McDonald 
Pilot Officer John N. Cawsey 
Pilot Officer C.M. Magwood 
Pilot Officer J. Parr 
Pilot Officer Johnny Baptiste Bernard Rainville 
Flight Sergeant George Albert ‘Rick’ Ryckman 
Sergeant Hugh Belcher 
Sergeant Eric Ambrose ‘Junior’ or ‘Crisy’ Crist 
Sergeant Hubbard 
Sergeant O’Neil 
Sergeant L.A. Walker 

One name was familiar.

So I Googled his name.

Lo and behold!

Click here.

George Frederick “Buzz” Beurling

​There is a misconception that Buzz Beurling was not a team player.

This author thinks otherwise.

Beurling had been accused of being a ‘loner’ while flying with No. 403 Squadron, and it was said that the air battle over Malta suited his mentality. From this the idea has grown that he was allowed to just go off and shoot down enemy aircraft at will. This is far from the truth. Over Malta No. 249 Squadron generally flew in pairs, something his flight commander Laddie Lucas drummed into Beurling on day two. The young Canadian took his leader’s words onboard and was never reprimanded for disobeying this rule, nor any other order. He was not guilty of waging a private war, as the island was limited in its 100 octane fuel supply and every sortie had to count. No-one, not even Beurling at the height of his prowess as a fighter-ace, had licence to roam freely and shoot down enemy aircraft. When Beurling’s Spitfire suffered radio failure (a valid excuse to act alone) he duly returned to base. If Beurling was scrambled, he followed the Controller’s orders and the same went for air tests, or any other authorised flight; if given a vector, he obeyed orders, otherwise he landed. Moreover, Beurling was a team player and constantly saved the lives of his fellow pilots in combat, on more than one occasion being shot down as a result…

Read the book. I bought it yesterday. It’s available on Google Books for $9.99 CAN.