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 July, 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 July, 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 July, 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 July, 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.
Thursday, 20 August, 1942
A signal was received from the AOC congratulating all of the Squadrons concerned on the fine results of yesterday’s air battles.
The weather today was fine with no low cloud and only small amounts of high cloud during the morning. The Squadron received orders to return to Catterick and the rail party, consisting of 66 of the ground crew, with F/O A.H. Warner (EO) and P/O J.H. Long (IO), left at 1300 hours, reaching Catterick at 2359 hours. The road party, with F/L G.A. Black (MO) in charge, left during the evening, staying at North Weald for the night. The pilots left by air at 1330 hours and arrived at Catterick by 1600 hours.
Friday, 21 August, 1942
The Squadron was released from operations at 1000 hours today until 1000 hours tomorrow. At 1600 hours, the road party arrived from North Weald, which they left at 0700 hours. A very enjoyable dance was held in the Sergeant’s Mess to which all officers were invited. P/O R. Wozniak left for 7 days leave.
Saturday, 22 August, 1942
‘B’ Flight moved on to West Hartlepool during the morning and ‘A’ Flight took readiness at Catterick. Sgt C.F. Sorensen took off at 1430 hours to do aerobatics at 2,000 feet near Leeming. At about 1500 hours, his engine failed and he was compelled to make a forced landing on the edge of Leeming aerodrome. His aircraft was completely written off but fortunately, he escaped uninjured. There was no operational flying today. Sector reccos, aerobatics and formation flying were carried out.
Sunday, 23 August, 1942
Weather very low 10/10ths cloud and very poor visibility. The only thing that took place was a weather test by F/L O’Leary and P/O K.P. Marshall. F/S F.C. Turner returned by road from West Hartlepool on being posted from the Squadron.
Monday, 24 August, 1942
Weather low cloud of 10/10ths at 300 to 400 feet at first with a slight improvement during the afternoon and evening. Red and Yellow Sections were on readiness here at Catterick as the weather at West Hartlepool closed in during the evening. P/O H.J. Murphy and P/O M. Johnston left early in the morning on their way down South to join 402 Squadron. Though sorry to leave 403, they are nonetheless pleased to be going to 11 Group with its promise of greater activity. They will be very much missed in the Squadron, both being experienced pilots.
Tuesday, 25 August, 1942
Weather rain and low 10/10ths cloud all day. No flying. The pilots attended a film show ‘Next-of-Kin’ in the Station Cinema during the afternoon.
Wednesday, 26 August, 1942
Weather, rain and low cloud during the morning and the afternoon saw some improvement before it closed in again in the early evening, this time with heavy rain. Apart from a weather test in the morning there was no flying until the early evening when some local formation flying and a cannon test was done. The pilots attended a film show on Combined Operations in the Station Intelligence Office during the afternoon. F/O R.J.O. Doehler, the new Engineering Officer, arrived on being posted to the Squadron.
Thursday, 27 August, 1942
Intermittent rain all day and the cumulus cloud that was almost on the ground. Flying was suspended for both Flights. Nothing of interest to report.
Friday, 28 August, 1942
Weather clearing and very hot with a ground haze to 500 feet most of the day. West Hartlepool flying was washed out due to poor visibility. At 1445 hours, a section, under S/L Ford, left for Topcliffe to carry out co-operation with the Halifaxes at 8,000 feet, returning to base at 1530 hours. The Sergeant’s were entertained at the Officer’s mess in the evening. It was well attended with a number of 403 Squadron NCOs coming form Hartlepool.
Saturday, 29 August, 1942
Weather was again closed in, with 10/10ths cloud all day and no flying. Plans for a Squadron dance were drawn up with a tentative date set for Sept 18th. 403 has been assigned a part in the Station Defence Plan, being required to man four machine gun posts. The schedule of the gun crews for each post was formulated and a practice will be held shortly. Morning PT of one half hour daily will start next week for all ground crew as part of the Squadron policy to keep personnel in fighting trim and good health during the winter months.
Sunday, 30 August, 1942
Weather still unfit for flying, 10/10ths cloud with a heavy mist and rain. No activity of any kind to report.
Monday, 31 August, 1942
Weather was improving with 10/10ths cumulus cloud at 1,000 feet in the morning, which cleared somewhat in the afternoon. One section of ‘A’ Flight got airborne at 1500 hours for 30 minutes. No flying activity was done by ‘B’ Flight at West Hartlepool. S/L Ford left for three days of leave in Edinburgh where he will act as the best man at the wedding of F/L NR Dick, a former member of 403 Squadron.
Summary Aircrew Establishment
Fighter Sweeps: 20:20 RCAF RAF
Convoy Patrols: 27:20 Officers 9 2
Scrambles: (39) 39:25 Airmen 17 –
Total Operational 187:05
Magister 41:05 Ground Crew Establishment
Total Non-Ops 347:15 Officers 4 1
Total 575:25 Airmen 101 39
Total 121 42
Our Casualties for the Month:
Three (P/O L.A. Walker, P/O J.E. Gardiner
and P/O N. Monchier)
Enemy Casualties: 5 FW 190 destroyed; 1 ME 109 Destroyed
and 3 FW 190 damaged (awaiting confirmation)
[attached to the Operation Records Book is the following correspondence]
ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
20, Lincoln’s Inn Fields,
25th March, 1946
Department of National Defence for Air,
ATTENTION: AIR HISTORIAN
CAN J.8140 P/O J.E. Gardiner
1. Attached hereto is a copy of correspondence concerning the above referenced officer who was missing from 403 Squadron 19 August, 1942.
2. As this correspondence throws some light on P/O Gardiner’s death, it is suggested that it be attached to No. 403 Squadron’s ‘Operations Record book’ for August, 1942, and a notation made in the record book referring to it.
3. The results of any further investigations will be forwarded to you for similar action.
(signed) W.R. Thompson,
(W.R. Thompson) W/C,
for A.O.C. -in-C.
ENC. 1 RCAF Overseas Headquarters.
ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
Ottawa, Canada, 11th March, 1946
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief,
20 Lincoln’s Inn Fields,
London, W.C.2, England.
Pilot Officer John Edwin GARDINER (CAN J.-8140)
1. This officer, while flying a Spitfire over the French coast was missing August 19th, 1942, 403 Squadron.
2. Father and next-of-kin, Honourable James G. Gardiner, Minister of Agriculture, recently was in the U.K. and visited his son’s grave which is located in the Churchyard of St Aubin le Cauf. This is located approximately 7 miles south east of Dieppe.
3. Since Mr. Gardiner’s return from the U.K. he has written the attached, which you will note he has headed as “the circumstances under which J. Edwin Gardiner and Norman Monchier lost their lives at the battle of Dieppe.”
4. Mr. Gardiner has also written to the Minister as follows:
“It has occurred to me that the official story of this incident can be had if some official of your organization over there were to go out and check everything which is available. Th persons who know most about it are the young fellow, M. Dunet Andre, of St. Nicholas d’Aliermont, who was on the scene within half an hour and who witnessed the scene from a distance and who said that all three planes were shot down; and Mr. Maurice Lasseau, who operates the farm over which the battle took place.”
Further in Mr. Gardiner’s letter to the Minister he states:
“I would like the story which I have been able to piece together to be placed on the records until such time as an official investigation can, if possible, be made and the story told. It would appear that the two of them are entitled to credit for one German plane, and that the Squadron is entitled to one added to the record which they have. This, in itself, is not of great importance, but it is, I think, important that wherever the record of what happened can be obtained, it ought to be obtained with regard to all those who lost their lives in battle.”
5. It is, therefore, directed by the Minister that you be asked to have
(a) the Missing Research and Enquiry Service, and
(b) Group Captain D.M. Edwards, Air Attaché at Paris, cover the ground that Mr. Gardiner covered and obtain a verification of the story.
6. May these headquarters be advised, please that this has been undertaken.
(Signed) W.B. Gunn W/C
for (H.L. Campbell)
Air Vice Marshall
Air Member for Personnel,
for Chief of the Air Staff.
The circumstances under which J. Edwin Gardiner and Norman Monchier lost their lives at the battle of Dieppe.
These two left England as members of Spitfire Squadron 403 in the first flight of fighters on the morning of August 19th, 1942. Pilot Officer Olmsted, after he returned to Britain following Dieppe, reported that he walked out to his plane along with Edwin, and that they flew in the same formation to Dieppe. He stated that when they arrived, they were ordered to break up into groups of two, to give greater freedom of movement in battle.
Edwin and Norman Monchier were paired together. Olmsted reported that ten minutes before he left for England he heard a short conversation between them on their instruments. Edwin said to Monchier, “Do you see anything Norm?” Monchier replied, “No, there is nothing around here.” They were, therefore, apparently separated from one another at that time and in search of something, possibly a gun placement.
They were both reported ‘Missing’ that day, and no further trace was known of them until some time after V-E day, although the Red Cross reported that German sources stated that they had lost their lives on August 19th, 1942.
Enquiries immediately following V-E Day were answered to the effect that the Germans claimed they had lost the records and it was not known where they were buried.
On August 15th, 1945, Honourable Colin Gibson, Minister of Defence for Air, wrote to say that word had been received that Edwin was buried in the Church cemetery at St Aubin le Cauf, about seven miles south-east of Dieppe. No further word was received until I visited France, January 6th, 1946.
On Tuesday, January 8th, 1946, Florence and I were driven from Paris to St. Aubin le Cauf by Group Captain D.M. Edwards of the RCAF. We met the Mayor of St. Aubin le Cauf, M. Manoury, and a committee who had charge of the burial of three airmen killed in the battle over Dieppe and the surrounding area on August 19th, 1942. Two of these were buried side by side in the angle of the little Catholic Church, in what was a particularly well kept cemetery. The third one who had not been identified was buried near them. Two were identified from their tags as J.E. Gardiner and N. Monchier. Crosses bearing their names were at the head of their graves, a white fence had been constructed around them, and the graves were beautifully decorated and well cared for.
The local people told us, through an interpreter that their bodies had been found near their planes, that the Germans had prevented them from removing them for three days during which time all bodies in the district had been searched by the German troops and all valuables and papers were removed. At the end of three days their bodies had been brought to the village and buried.
Owing to the fact that the Mayor of Dieppe, M. Pierre Biez, had been exceedingly kind in arranging everything in a convenient manner for us, we found it impossible to refuse his suggestion that we have lunch with him and Madame Biez at two o’clock. This made it impossible for us to remain in the district long enough to secure full information, particularly since we had to communicate through an interpreter. We did, however, satisfy ourselves that no mistake of identity had been made, and that these two boys upon whom I pinned Wings at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, on October 7th, 1941, had died together in battle over Dieppe on August 19th, 1942.
Pictures appeared in the press of the Mayor of Dieppe and I. A young man named Dunet Andre, of St. Nicholas d’Aliermont saw the pictures. He wrote to Group Captain Edwards to say that he had found Edwin Gardiner’s identity card at the scene of the crash and would like to turn it over to me. I was back in Paris on January 30th, and again drove out to Dieppe and spent the day there.
We called at St. Nicholas d’Aliermont to interview M. Dunet Andre and received the identity card. He was a fine young French chap who was at the scene of the crash half an hour after and five minutes before the Germans. He secured the identity card before they arrived and hid it. Later he was taken to a Labour Camp in Germany and did not return until the end of the war. When he saw the picture in the paper he looked up the card and made it available.
The story he told with regard to the incident was that he saw it at a distance. He said the two Canadian planes were flying in an easterly direction over the valley of the Vorenna River, near the place where it enters the Bethune River. A German plane was approaching them from the Southeast up the valley of Bethune. They appeared to sight one another at about the same time just as the Canadian planes came to a field at the edge of the forest, and all three opened fire. He stated that all three were shot down, the two Canadian planes crashed in the field, and the German plane circled and crashed on the east side of the Bethune toward St. Nicholas d’Aliermont.
We asked him to come and show us the spot. He came, and we also took with us M. Marc Letellier, the teacher in St. Aubin le Cauf, who was one of those who buried the two Canadians. We drove up to the hill to the east of St. Aubin le Cauf. About half a mile from the top we came to the edge of the forest. A farmer with a horse and a dump cart was working there.
M. Andre began describing what happened in French, and Group Captain Edwards was interpreting to me. The farmer did not appear to agree. I called him over. He stated that he was near at hand, and his men were harvesting oats in the field on August 19th when the battle in the air occurred, and that he and they saw what happened to the three at close range, and that they examined the two Canadians and their planes immediately following the engagement.
The farmer turned out to be Mr. Maurice Lasseau who was educated in England during the first war, and spoke English. We went to his house for tea, and I had considerable conversation with him.
He stated that the two Canadian planes came over the forest from the river Norenna side and were flying about twenty feet above the treetop. One of the planes, he said seemed to be out of control. He stated that he afterwards found a part of what he called the auger of the steering gear in the trees over which the two planes came. He stated that on the far side of these trees, there were German machine guns, and that they must have succeeded in hitting the disabled plane. He stated that just as they came to the edge of the field, they opened fire on the German plane which was approaching from the Bethune River side of the field, or from the East. The German plane also opened fire. He did not think that the German’s shooting caused what happened. At any rate he thought neither of the Canadian had any wounds from gunfire when examined later. The one plane was out of control and, while the shooting was going on, the two Canadian planes came together. Both planes crashed about the centre of the field. I saw part of the fuselage of Edwin’s plane and brought back a piece of the aluminium with me.
I asked him if he had any idea which plane had been hit from the ground. He stated that it was the plane of Monchier. He stated that the other plane seemed to be under control until the shooting started, after that it was difficult to say what happened. He said that one thing which convinced him that Monchier’s plane had been previously hit was that he had prepared his parachute for a leap which would indicate that he had intended to leave the plane further back over the deep valley but for some reason had not done so. He stated that during the firing, the German circled and returned in the general direction from which he came, and crashed on the east side of the Bethune River toward St. Nicholas about one mile or a mile and a half away. They had apparently hit his plane.
I returned to Paris that evening, and flew to London from Paris the following morning. It was a beautiful clear day. The route from Paris to London lies directly over Dieppe. The pilot kindly circled the scene. I had, therefore, an opportunity to see the whole air battlefield from a height of about one thousand feet.
The Lasseau farm is located on the height of land between the two rivers just above St. Aubin le Cauf, and is completely surrounded by forest. The area which is being farmed would make a small airfield, and is quite level. It appears at considerable distance from the air as the only spot in that area upon which a plane could be landed. All around it there is forest, and in three directions is the valley of the two rivers. The valleys are about three or four hundred feet deep with lakes, streams and trees covering them, and will be a mile or so across. The location is about six miles inland from Dieppe and from the air all of the valley right through to the harbour of Dieppe lies like a picture below. In that area there appears to be one field upon which a plane could be landed. The German airfield, which they no doubt had been strafing, lies about five miles directly west from this spot.
Remembering that Olmsted said that he heard these two talking shortly before he left for England, I would conclude that these two were either searching for a gun position, which others have reported shot down at least one of their friends, and that while strafing it Monchier’s plane was hit, or that they had given up the search and were starting for Britain across the Vorenna Valley when one of the ground guns located in the trees at the top of the Valley had an unlucky hit which damaged Monchier’s steering gear. His first intention was to leap for it while over the Valley, but his time to act would be short until he reached the other side, and in all probability he could not manipulate his plane to do so in any case. They, therefore, were planning, no doubt, that he would land, after which Edwin could proceed when they encountered the German. M. Lasseau says that they came over the treetops toward the field, flying a short distance apart, Monchier’s plane showing signs of being in trouble, and that when the shooting was going on, they came together and crashed as a result of the collision. The holes they ploughed in his field are still visible from the air. One plane travelled about thirty yards farther than the other before it hit the ground, and they both dug in four or five feet according to M. Lasseau.
When they got to the planes, they found each Pilot in the cockpit of his plane. They had been killed instantly. They did not seem to know what in particular had killed Monchier, but Edwin had a gash along the top of his head which at the time I thought was caused when the plane crashed and he was thrown ahead and then dashed back against the metal behind his seat with such force as to crack his skull killing him instantly. On further thought, I am inclined to discount this idea. That would not have laid open his head as described. I am inclined to believe that he was flying near Monchier’s disabled plane to escort him safely to the ground when the German came in possibly from above, and that during the shooting duel which brought down all three, Edwin’s head was cut by a bullet which put him out, and resulted in the two planes side-swiping, and going to the ground together. They stated that he was slumped over his steering wheel. They stated that both planes hit the ground, bounced about fifty feet and then drove into the ground.
Those about took Edwin’s identification card, the number of their planes – Edwin’s was Spitfire AR349 and Monchier’s Spitfire AR334 – and the lettering, Edwin’s was U O and Monchier’s 1 X H – and Monchier’s compass record card. These they gave to me.
The Germans were on the scene in half an hour. They searched the bodies and ordered them to be left where they were until further orders. Three days later, they ordered them to be buried, and the local committee at St. Aubin le Cauf took them down to their little Churchyard, buried them as heroes should be buried, and have cared for their graves in the finest possible manner since. If there is any consolation it is found in the liberation of people with such greatness of heart and appreciation of the sacrifice made.
Tuesday, 1 September, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy, visibility good with a moderate southwesterly wind. No operational flying was done today. Formation practice, tail chase and aerobatics were carried out.
Wednesday, 2 September, 1942
Weather cloudy with slight rain and moderate visibility. Formation flying was carried out. ‘B’ Flight returned to Catterick and ‘A’ Flight went off to West Hartlepool.
Thursday, 3 September, 1942
Weather was cloudy with showers and moderate to good visibility. BBC recording engineers visited Catterick to obtain recordings of Spitfires in flight, for which our aircraft gave them the necessary co-operation during the afternoon.
Friday, 4 September, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with good visibility all day. Practice flying was carried out and there were two scrambles of 2 aircraft each from West Hartlepool. The first took off at 1325 hours and landed at 1430 hours and the second was up at 1340 hours. No enemy aircraft were seen.
Saturday, 5 September, 1942
Weather, 9/10ths cloud at 1,800 feet with considerable amounts at 600 to 800 feet during the morning with intermittent slight rain and mist. The weather generally improved in the early evening, being fine with no low cloud. No operational flying was done today with only practice flying carried out in the evening. P/O JAW Gunn and P/O JT Murchison were posted from 412 Squadron to us wef 5-9-42.
Sunday, 6 September, 1942
Weather, partly cloudy with slight showers and good visibility. At 1138 hours, Blue Section (P/O C.F. Magwood and Sgt C.A. Jackson) scrambled to intercept an approaching hostile raid and ‘A’ Flight from West Hartlepool was also ordered up. No enemy aircraft were seen and the boys, after patrolling at 30,000 feet, returned thoroughly frozen! Word was afterward received that a Typhoon Squadron from Acklington had shot down two JU 88s. Formation practice flying was carried out during the afternoon. S/L AC Deere paid a visit to the Squadron, bringing with him the combat films of the Dieppe show, which were shown to the pilots in the Station Intelligence Office.
Monday, 7 September, 1942
Weather cloudy all day with moderate to heavy rain. Some formation flying was done during the morning. P/O J.T. Murchison and P/O J. Gunn arrived on posting from 412 Squadron and P/O N.R .Fowlow and F/L C. Black both went on leave; the former going to London to replace kit that he lost when he baled out into the sea off of Malta and the later to work on a farm in Kent. W/O R. Taylor went to the Air Ministry to be interviewed for a commission.
Tuesday, 8 September, 1942
Weather cloudy, visibility good with moderate West winds that were, at times gusty. Practice formation flying and dog fighting were carried out by the Squadron.
Wednesday, 9 September, 1942
Weather, just a trace of cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and good visibility. Practice formation flying was done during the morning and, in the afternoon; ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights joined in a practice Squadron formation flight.
Thursday, 10 September, 1942
Weather, fog till 0800 hours and no low cloud. There was good visibility for the remainder of the day. Black Section carried out a practice during the morning in readiness for the tank beat-up that is arranged for tomorrow. Squadron formation was flown in the afternoon. S/L Harris, Liaison Officer to the Battle School, visited to discuss with F/L C.V. Hill the beat-up fixed for tomorrow. P/S HS Anderson returned from the Medical Board at Edinburgh and is off operational flying for three months (until December 8th). P/O J. Hawkins was posted to 412 Squadron on completing 25 hours with 403 Squadron. Sgt C.F. Sorensen left for embarkation leave prior to his posting.
Friday, 11 September, 1942
Weather, partly cloudy all day with a base at 2,500 to 4,000 feet. Black Section, consisting of F/L C.V. Hill, P/O N.R. Fowlow, P/O C. Magwood and P/O H.S. Anderson, took off at 1055 hours to do the beat-up on the tanks belonging to the school of Infantry at Bernard Castle. Machine guns only were used and the attacks were made no lower than 300 feet. F/L Hill reported a successful attack with smoke being seen to come from one tank that collided with another. S/L AC Deere, who had intended to observe this operation from the air, was unfortunately delayed and arrived late with the AOC in a Moth just before lunch. A very enjoyable dance was held in the Officer’s Mess this evening. It was also intended as a farewell to the Station Commander, G/C Ecles, and speeches were made in his honour, including a very short and amusing one from S/L AC Deere. A number of the boys from 410 Squadron at Scorton attended and a good time was had by all until the small hours. F/O J. Wiejski left on two days leave.
Saturday, 12 September, 1942
Weather fair to cloudy with early morning fog. There was no cloud at first then 4/10ths to 10/10ths formed at 1,500 to 3,000 feet and the visibility varied from 600 yards to 4 miles. F/O C.M. Magwood and Sgt A. Thomas flew to Matlack, Norfolk, in the Magister and Sgt Thomas brought the aircraft back by himself in the afternoon. Sgt M.K. Fletcher was up for 55 minutes during the afternoon and this amounted to the total flying that was done today. Several of the pilots of ‘A’ Flight who had come over yesterday for the dance were unable to return to West Hartlepool on account of bad weather between the two aerodromes which was right down to the deck. S/L Deere had to turn back due to the weather conditions and made his return to Group headquarters by train. F/L Don Carlson (Canadian Padre) went on seven days leave.
Sunday, 13 September, 1942
Weather, mainly cloudy with 6/10ths to 9/10ths at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and very good visibility. Practice flying was carried out which included formation, tail chases, Halifax beat-ups and cine gun practice. P/O H.S. Anderson went off to Wittering for the Blind Approach Course.
Monday, 14 September, 1942
Weather, heavy ground haze all day, which restricted flying to approaches at Scorton by single aircraft. Sgt C.F. Sorensen went to Group Headquarters for a commissioning interview. P/O Olmsted is at the Catterick hospital for the next five days. Sgt Jackson is posted to 402 Squadron on completion of 25 hours with 403.
Tuesday, 15 September, 1942
Weather, clear all day. 18 air firing sorties were carried out by ‘A’ Flight in the morning at West Hartlepool. At 1415 hours, the Squadron did formation practice for one hour over West Hartlepool. ‘B’ Flight had a full day, formation cine gun, and approaches, the latter by S/L Ford and F/L Hill. Sgt J Hawket was confined to Fencote Hall for several days due to a slight injury that he incurred in a bus accident.
Wednesday, 16 September, 1942
Weather, 6/10ths and another good flying day. ‘A’ Flight carried out six air firing sorties. One section also did cine gun and dog fights. ‘B’ Flight did 20 sorties in the morning, including formation and cine gun. No operational sorties were made by either flight.
Thursday, 17 September, 1942
Weather clear and warm with 4/10ths cloud. Air firing was carried out at West Hartlepool. No scrambles were ordered and 26 sorties were flown for 25:20 hours from Catterick including cine gun, approaches and dog fighting. Sgt C.F. Sorensen was granted his commission and was advised by telephone to go to London in time to acquire his new uniform etc before leaving for Overseas. F/O C.M. Magwood left for Sutton Bridge for a one-month course in Gunnery Leader instruction. The good news was received that S/L L.S. Ford has been awarded the Bar to his DFC as a result of the fine leadership he showed at Dieppe. F/L O’Leary entered the Catterick military hospital today for observation.
Friday, 18 September, 1942
Weather, clear in the morning, changing to 5/10ths cloud by night. General flying was done by both flights. An Army beat-up by one section of ‘A’ Flight went off at 1300 hours near Bernard Castle. The section consisted of P/O K.F. Marshal and P/O R. Wozniak. At 1500 hours, four attacks were made on Halifaxes above Topcliffe by pre-arrangement. Lord Trenchard, Marshall of the Royal Air Force visited Catterick today, stayed for lunch and gave an interesting talk to the pilots and NCOs in the lecture Room at 1400 hours. His enthusiasm over the Royal Air Force and his confidence in attaining the ultimate victory were reflected in his remarks. The Squadron dance was held at the cinema at 2000 hours. Around 400 attended. It was the first Squadron dance ever held at Catterick and it was an unqualified success.
Saturday, 19 September, 1942
Weather 4/10ths to 8/10ths cloud around 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Air firing was done most of the day at West Hartlepool, interrupted only by the Squadron Formation practice held from 1415 to 1455 hours. ‘A’ Flight carried out aerobatics, local flying formation breaks and attacks.
Sunday, 20 September, 1942
Cumulus cloud was on the ground all day with intermittent rain and fog. All flying and other activity was suspended for the day and the Army exercise at Northallerton was cancelled.
Monday, 21 September, 1942
A full day of flying was done by both flights with the weather clearing during the day. General flying included air firing at West Hartlepool, cine gun, dog fights section attacks and approaches which were carried out by ‘A’ Flight at Scorton.
Tuesday, 22 September, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 10/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet. 20 air firing sorties were carried out by ‘B’ Flight. ‘A’ Flight did some formation, cine gun and local flying as well as a flight in affiliation with two Wellingtons from Dishforth at 1100 hours. In some obscure manner, one of the Wellingtons collided with a Spitfire piloted by Sgt John Norman at about 3,000 feet near Pickering. The tail section of the Spit was torn off and what appeared to be the gun turret from the Wellington was seen falling away. All five crewmembers of the Wellington and Sgt Norman were killed instantly when both aircraft crashed out of control. All will be buried at Dishforth.
Wednesday, 23 September, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Twenty air firing sorties were flown out of West Hartlepool. Aerobatics, formation and cine gun were flown by ‘A’ Flight with attacks carried out on three Halifaxes at 1200 hours. Sgt Fletcher went to Newcastle today for an interview regarding his possible commissioning.
Thursday, 24 September, 1942
Weather 6/10ths to 10/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet and rain squalls late in the day. It was generally cold and disagreeable today. Routine flying consisted of air firing, drogue towing approaches, formation and aerobatics. Affiliation flying with Halifaxes were done at 1200 hours. At approximately 1100 hours, Sgt Ken Root, who was carrying out flying exercises near Bernard Castle, apparently went into a spin from 5,000 feet and crashed into the side of a cliff at the edge of the river. The aircraft was written off and Sgt Root was instantly killed. It has been an unfortunate week for the Squadron, as both Norman and Root were not only pilots of the type that the service can ill afford to lose, but each had the cheerful and friendly temperament so necessary in keeping the Squadron morale at a high level.
Friday, 25 September, 1942
Weather 10/10ths cumulus clouds all day with very poor visibility and intermittent rain and mist. All flying activities were suspended today. Sgt Norman was buried at Dishforth this morning, together with the five crewmembers of the Wellington who were killed in the same accident. F/L Carlson and a group of pilots from 403 Squadron attended the service.
A court of inquiry has been held to determine, if possible, the cause of the collision. P/O J. Long, Squadron Intelligence Officer, has been taking an Aircraft Recognition Course on the Isle of Man for the past week. On his return to Catterick, he has taken ill and his return will be delayed for about a week.
Saturday, 26 September, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 8/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet in the morning, developing into heavy ground haze and fog by the evening. It was a routine day at West Hartlepool with air firing, aerobatics, cloud flying and no scrambles. There was restricted activity at Catterick with a weather test and some local flying. Sgt Root was buried in Catterick cemetery at 1000 hours. F/L O’Leary was in charge of the parade and 403 Squadron supplied the bearer party. F/L Carlson conducted the service.
Sunday, 27 September, 1942
An excellent flying day as the weather was clear and warm with a slight breeze from the NE. Air firing and local flying was done at West Hartlepool. ‘A’ Flight carried out local flying , aerobatics and approaches. At 1115 and 1230 hours, two sections affiliated with Army and Civilian authorities at North Allerton to do a beat-up of ground forces. Affiliation flying was also conducted with a Halifax between 1530 and 1645 hours.
Monday, 28 September, 1942
Weather, heavy ground haze during the morning, which cleared sufficiently to allow for local flying in the afternoon. Showers started shortly after dark. All of the RAF personnel on strength of the Squadron were trade tested for reclassification.
Tuesday, 29 September, 1942
Weather, quite foggy in the early morning, lifting around 1030 hours with a wind of 5 to 10 mph from the East. It was about 7/10ths overcast during most of the day. ‘A’ Flight moved to West Hartlepool and ‘B’ Flight to Catterick.
Wednesday, 30 September, 1942
Weather, heavy ground haze most of the day with a little cloud at about 4,000 feet. Activity was restricted to local flying in the afternoon only.
Summary for the Month of September 1942
Flying Establishment-Air Crew Ground Crew
RCAF Others RCAF Others
Scrambles 15:00 hours Officers – 13 2 4 1
Total Ops 15:00 hours Airmen – 13 nil 98 35
Magister 20:10 hours
Non-Ops 648:00 hours
Total 684:00 hours
Thursday, 1 October, 1942
Weather strong westerly wind with 6/10ths to 10/10ths cloud. Flying was restricted to a weather test and the return of one section from West Hartlepool. The ground party left Catterick at 1200 hours en route South.
Friday, 2 October, 1942
Weather was hazy in the morning, but cleared about midday. The Squadron, with 18 aircraft, left Catterick at 1300 hours, arriving at Kenley at 1430 hours in clear visibility. The ground crew set off in three Harrows, arriving at Kenley at 1305 hours.
Saturday, 3 October, 1942
Weather was clear overhead but there was a very heavy ground haze that thickened towards noon. Offensive operations were cancelled owing to the weather. The Squadron did manage to make a sector recco in the afternoon.
Sunday, 4 October, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus clouds with heavy fog and drizzle. ‘A’ Flight had one section at readiness, two at 15 minutes and ‘B’ Flight was at 30 minutes available. No flying was done on account of the weather.
Monday, 5 October, 1942
Weather, heavy fog clearing towards late afternoon. ‘B’ Flight was at readiness from 0830 hours to 1300 hours and ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes.
Tuesday, 6 October, 1942
Weather, 10/10ths cumulus at 3,000 feet, clearing towards the afternoon. ‘A’ Flight was at readiness from dawn to 0830 hours. In the afternoon, the Squadron did a short formation flight. Red Section were on patrol from 0745 hours to 0915 hours but had nothing to report.
Wednesday, 7 October, 1942
Weather, heavy mist. The Squadron was released off the station at 1100 hours.
Thursday, 8 October, 1942
Weather, rain which cleared in the afternoon. The Squadron did some formation flying and Yellow Section was withdrawn for half an hour to do a patrol.
Friday, 9 October, 1942
Weather, broken cumulus cloud at various heights to 28,000 feet. Visibility very good. The Squadron took off at 0845 hours, S/L Ford leading, as high cover in the third diversionary of Circus 224, joined by 416 and 412 Squadrons at Redhill. S/L Chadburn of 416 lead the Wing. Rendezvous was made at Beachy Head at a height of 26,000 feet. We orbited until 0925 hours when three Fortresses were escorted to about 10 miles from the French Coast where the fighters then carried on. When near Abbeville, Blue 4 had oxygen trouble and went down to 9,500 feet with Blue Section following. The remainder of the Squadron came down to 20,000 feet and followed Blue Section. They found that they were OK so we came back, crossing the Coast East of Le Champ, landing to refuel at Shoreham. Blue Section crossed the Coast at about the same spot and landed at Friston to refuel. Nothing of interest to report – no e/a shipping or flak were seen. All 12 aircraft landed at Kenley at 1135 hours.
Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
S/L Ford F/L Hill F/L O’Leary
Sgt Dunbar P/O Fowlow Sgt Dowding
P/O Aitken P/O Olmsted F/O Marshall
Sgt Haynes F/O Wiejski Sgt Lane
‘B’ Flight was at readiness from 1645 hours to dusk and Green Section was on a patrol from 1755 hours to 1855 hours.
Saturday, 10, October, 1942
Weather, broken cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet with good visibility. Part of the ground crew returned to Catterick by airlift, leaving Kenley at 1100 hours. It was a bumpy trip. Seventeen aircraft left Kenley at 1430 hours, arriving at Catterick around 1600 hours. S/L Ford remained behind, confined to Horton Emergency hospital at Epsom for a few days with sinus trouble. F/L O’Leary will carry on his absence.
Sunday, 11 October, 1942
Weather, light cloud at 3,000 feet with a slight ground haze in the morning. Two sections moved to West Hartlepool taking over readiness at 1300 hours. Nineteen ground crew accompanied the pilots. The remaining ground personnel returned by rail and road today from Kenley.
Monday, 12 October, 1942
Weather 5/10ths light cloud in the morning, becoming overcast and developing into rain by the evening. All flying was suspended due to weather with the exception of several local flying sorties in the morning.
Tuesday, 13 October, 1942
Weather, broken cloud with some ground haze. Formation attacks, breaks, cine gun and general flying were carried out. F/L Black returned to Catterick today bringing a Labrador Retriever pup, which he claimed from the King’s Kennels. P/O Darling, formerly of 403 Squadron, and now at Malta, has been awarded the DFC. A card was received from P/O Larry Somers indicating his gradual recovery in a German hospital. He has lost 46 pounds as a result of burns suffered before breaking out of his aircraft.
Wednesday, 14 October, 1942
Weather light cloud at 4,000 to 5,000 feet with excellent visibility. Two sections of three aircraft carried out air firing at West Hartlepool. General flying was done during the remainder of the day. S/L Ford returned to the Station at 2130 hours. He is feeling better and will go back on the operational list tomorrow. While the Squadron was at Kenley, F/O A.H. Warner fell down a flight of stairs in a dark hallway, breaking his wrist and shoulder. He has been confined to Horton Emergency Hospital since the accident. F/O RJ Doehler is now the 403 Squadron Engineering Officer, with effect from now.
Thursday, 15 October, 1942
Weather 5/10ths to 10/10ths cloud with a light wind and good visibility. Twelve air firing sorties were carried out at West Hartlepool in the morning and formation flying in the afternoon. Two sections of ‘A’ Flight were replaced at West Hartlepool.
Friday, 16 October, 1942
Weather 2/10ths to 6/10ths cumulus cloud from 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet with some ground haze. Air firing, cine gun, breaks and tail chasing were carried out in the morning; flying was curtailed in the afternoon.
Saturday, 17 October, 1942
Weather 3/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus cloud with a slight ground haze all day. General flying was done by the Squadron, ZZ approaches at Scorton, formation and cine gun.
Sunday, 18 October, 1942
Weather was overcast most of the day with cumulus cloud at around 4,000 feet. Today was a general flying day with formations, tail chase, ZZ approaches, aerobatics, and cloud flying. Three scrambles were flown out of West Hartlepool. No contacts were made.
Monday, 19 October, 1942
Weather was clear with good visibility in the morning and light cloud and ground haze developing late in the day. Seventeen air firing sorties were carried out in the morning at West Hartlepool. The balance of the day was spent on local flying, section breaks and cine gun. P/O JT Murchison, F/S/ DL Rawson, Sgt A. Thomas, and Sgt L. Barnes were posted overseas, effective 21 October 1942.
Tuesday, 20 October, 1942
Weather, light cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet in the morning, becoming heavy overcast with all flying washed out in the afternoon. A Station defence practice was conducted at 1500 hours, with excellent times in manning the guns positions; no. 1 – 4 minutes, no. 2 – 4 min, no. 3 – 6 ½ minutes, and no. 4 – 2 minutes. F/O Warner was contacted by telephone and he reports that he is feeling much better, but will be confined to the Hospital for another five weeks and expects another board in another day or two. There was a Sergeant’s Mess Stag party tonight with all officers invited. Two scrambles were made at West Hartlepool. One sortie of ZZ approaches, formation and cloud flying was carried out at Catterick. Sgt Dowding left for Newcastle to have an interview on 21-10-42 with regards to his commission. Six ground staff were posted to 424 Squadron, and one Canadian to 423 Squadron.
Wednesday, 21 October, 1942
Weather, clear with good visibility, becoming overcast in the late afternoon with a ceiling of 4,000 feet. It was a quiet day with air firing and local flying carried out.
Thursday, 22 October, 1942
Weather overcast all day with a ceiling of 3,000 to 4,000 feet and good visibility. Air firing, local flying and one section did a recco. Quiet day. Sgt Deschamps arrived to build up our strength of pilots.
Friday, 23 October, 1942
Weather overcast all day with a ceiling of 3,000 to 4,000 feet and good visibility. The Squadron did formation with 12 aircraft and five new pilots. Very good. The CO was very pleased with the results. The Squadron is to go on night readiness, weather permissible. Two scrambles were flown from West Hartlepool with no contact made. Air firing sorties were also flown from West Hartlepool. Sgt Dowding has had a successful interview, only to be put into the hospital on his return to Catterick.
Saturday, 24 October, 1942
Weather, broken cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and cold. The Squadron carried out air firing, formation, cine-gun and did a beat-up of anti-aircraft gun positions at West Hartlepool. The Squadron completed 23:10 hours of night flying at Scorton.
Sunday, 25 October, 1942
Weather clear in the morning, developing cumulus cloud at 2,000 to 3,000 feet and rain in the afternoon. One scramble was flown from West Hartlepool but no contact was made with enemy e/a. The sections changed over at West Hartlepool. The Squadron carried out ZZ approaches, aerobatics and dogfights. 3:25 hours of night flying were carried out.
Monday, 26 October, 1942
Weather light cloud at 3,000 to 4,000 feet with good visibility. Air firing, local flying and formation were flown today as well as 2 uneventful scrambles from West Hartlepool.
Tuesday, 27 October, 1942
We had a heavy frost during the night, which was clear and cold. There was some slight cloud formation in the day that increased steadily and caused the suspension of night flying around midnight. The Squadron did air to air firing, ZZ approaches, local flying and 16:00 hours of night flying at Scorton. S/L Ford was in London today to attend his investiture to receive a Bar to his DFC from His Majesty the King.
Wednesday, 28 October, 1942
Weather, thick fog that slowly rose but left a heavy ground haze that washed out all flying. A lecture was given in the Intelligence Office by F/L Dinsmore at 1500 hours on security and Station Defence. Canada’s Third Victory loan of 750 million dollars was also explained and all personnel were urged to take advantage of this opportunity to advance the war effort. Sergeant A.L. Haynes was transferred today to the United States Army Air Corps.
Thursday, 29 October, 1942
Weather 6/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus cloud at 1,000 to 2,000 feet with some fog and rain. Co-operation with a tank exercise at Bernard Castle was flown today by a section of four aircraft at 1115 hours. The afternoon exercise was washed out due to weather. S/L LS Ford returned to the Station last evening after his investiture. The rapid change in flying personnel continues. P/O J. Mozolowski is posted to a Polish Squadron and two Polish pilots; Sgts. L. Gillis and J. Bednarz are posted to 403 Squadron. These replacements bring aircrew up to strength.
Friday, 30 October, 1942
Visibility 2,200 to 4,000 yards throughout the day, with 6/10ths to 9/10ths cloud at 1,000 feet. Local flying was done by two aircraft, and four aircraft took part in the Army Co-operation exercise. P/O J.H. Long, the IO, returned to the Squadron today. Sgt J.A. Rogowski, a Polish pilot, reported for flying duties today.
Saturday, 31 October, 1942
Weather, visibility 4,000 yards to 6 miles in the morning with showers, deteriorating to 4 miles in the evening. The Squadron did formation and local flying today. An interception exercise by two aircraft was flown on a friendly bomber for Operations in the afternoon. Night flying at Scorton was planned but cancelled later.
PERSONNEL AND FLYING TIMES FOR OCTOBER 1942
RCAF RAF POLISH
No. of Officers – Flying 11 – 1
No. of Officers – Ground 4 1 –
No. of Airmen – Flying 14 – 3
No. of Officers – Ground 92 26 _-
121 27 4
Operational Flying Times: 56:00
Total Non-op time: 531:00
Non-operational night: 40:10
Tiger Moth: 15:20
Grand total for Month 642:30
Casualties for the Month: NIL
No enemy aircraft engaged.
(No entries for the period of 1 November to 10 November 1942 were available as the copy of the log on the micro-fiche is unreadable.)
Wednesday, 11 November, 1942
PO J.H. Long was examined by a specialist today and sent to Catterick Military Hospital for an indefinite period under observation. Louis Kaliciak and Tom Cassidy were promoted to Corporals to fill vacancies. The strength of the Squadron is slowly diminishing; it is now standing at 136 as compared to 154 at the end of August. It seems impossible to secure replacements to fill the establishment.
Thursday, 12 November, 1942
Cloud was on the surface for most of the day with some fog and poor visibility. Flying was cancelled for the day. Under the supervision of our Padre, F/L D. Carlson, a weekly social is held for the Squadron personnel in the YMCA. Programs are varied each week, the personnel enjoying a singsong, followed by a film this evening.
Friday, 13 November, 1942
Weather, visibility 4,000 yards to six miles, cloud 3/10ths to 10/10ths from 1,000 to 3,000 feet. Air to air firing, Squadron formation and dusk landings were carried out today.
Saturday, 14 November, 1942
Light cloud formation of 6/10ths to 8/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet with visibility of 4,000 yards to six miles. Air firing, Squadron formation and Thornaby change over were completed today.
Sunday, 15 November, 1942
Weather was misty in the early morning, clearing and becoming fine for the remainder of the day. Air to air firing, practice formation and tail chase, ZZ approaches and night flying at Scorton were done today.
Monday, 16 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with 7/10ths to 9/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. Air firing, ZZ approaches, low flying, cine gun, formation flying and attacks on Hudson at Thornaby were flown today.
Tuesday, 17 November, 1942
Weather was fair today with 1/10th to 9/10ths from 3,000 feet and visibility between 5 to 7 miles. Local flying, air firing, ZZ approaches, aerobatics and a change over at Thornaby were done today. One scramble occurred, lasting twenty minutes at Thornaby but no contact was made. One section was ordered out to search for a stray balloon, which was not sighted. A heavy session of night flying was done with five aircraft registering at 20:45 hours. A party of hockey players from 403 Squadron journeyed to Durham for the weekly game only to find that the opposition had failed to put in an appearance. A practice session was arranged with another Canadian team. A Squadron Committee meeting was held at 1100 hours. Final details were ironed out for the dance which is to be held on January 8th and members were appointed to arrange the programs. A further discussion regarding a Squadron crest and motto resulted in all of the members voting for the adoption of a Moose along the lines of a sample forwarded by the College of Arms and that the Cree interpretation of the motto ‘Beware of the Moose’ namely ‘Moosa Aswayita’ be incorporated. The crest and the motto are being forwarded to the Chester Herald for immediate registration.
Wednesday, 18 November, 1942
Weather was partly cloudy, with 6/10ths to 9/10ths with a 3,000-foot base and visibility 1,200 yards t 4 miles. Local flying, ZZ approaches and air to air firing were the order for the day.
Thursday, 19 November, 1942
It was cloudy all day with 6/10ths to 9/10ths and a base between 1,900 and 2,500 feet. Visibility was poor, ranging from 200 yards to 4 miles. There was a heavy ground mist for most of the day, and calm winds. A weather test, ZZ approaches and aerobatics were flown today.
Friday, 20 November, 1942
Weather, cloudy all day, 6/10ths to 9/10ths based at 2,000 to 5,500 feet. Visibility was good at 4 to 12 miles. Local formation, ZZ approaches, aerobatics, tail chase and sector recognition were carried out.
Saturday, 21 November, 1942
Weather, 810ths to 9/10ths Cumulus cloud at 3,00 feet and fair visibility all day. Formation, cine gun, aerobatics, night flying at Scorton, sector reconnaissance and low flying were carried out today. Sergeants D.W. Rathwell and A.H Dowar were posted overseas.
Sunday, 22 November, 1942
Weather was fair all day, with visibility of roughly eight miles and light westerly winds. Attacks on two Wellingtons, a change over at Thornaby, local flying and 17 hours of night flying were carried out. The considerable amount of night flying during the past two months has resulted in every pilot becoming proficient in that important field. Pilot Officer J. Hamankiewicz was posted to the Squadron to replace F/O J. Wiejski who left today to join a Polish Unit. The loss of ‘Whiskey’, as he was affectionately known here, will be keenly felt as he was a steady pilot and his good nature made him liked by all.
Monday, 23 November, 1942
Weather today was cloudy, with approximately 9/10ths at 2,500 feet and six miles visibility. ZZ approaches, cine gun, dogfights, attacks on Wellingtons, local flying and formation were carried out.
Tuesday, 24 November, 1942
Cloudy with slight haze, 9/10ths to 10/10ths visibility based at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. Local flying, formation, cine gun, aerobatics and Wellington attacks were carried out. The Squadron Hockey team is rapidly rounding into shape. Today at Durham, they soundly trounced 426 Squadron by a score of 6-0. LAC W. Kerwin did the hat trick, scoring four goals. There is every indication that 403 Squadron will be near the top when the playoffs roll around.
Wednesday, 25 November, 1942
Weather: cloudy with 10/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet and a slight haze with visibility of 5,000 yards. Cloud flying, formation, cine gun, ZZ approaches air to ground firing and low flying were carried out.
Thursday, 26 November, 1942
It was cloudy all day with 10/10ths at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and 4 to 6 miles visibility. Local and low flying, formation, cine gun, and ZZ approaches. Flying Officer R.H. Johnston arrived today to double bank on administrative duties.
Friday, 27 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy with a base around 700 feet and rain, becoming foggy towards evening. All flying suspended.
Saturday, 28 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy with intermittent rain and visibility of 4 to 6 miles. Air to air firing, local flying, cloud flying, ZZ approaches, formation flying cine gun and attacks on Wellingtons were flown today. A farewell well party for Flight Lieutenant G.U. Hill was held. He has ably demonstrated his flying ability and is sure to add to the reputation of those pilots of 403 Squadron now serving in the Middle East.
Sunday, 29 November, 1942
Weather was cloudy with showers. The cloud base was at 300 feet and the visibility was between 6 to 12 miles. Local flying, ZZ approaches and cloud flying were carried out today.
Monday, 30, November, 1942
Weather was clear in the morning, developing into 6/10ths to 8/10ths cloud at 4,000 to 6,000 feet later in the day. A flying exercise was done by six aircraft in the morning and local flying, attacks on Wellingtons, aerobatics and dogfights were flown throughout the day. Flying Officer A.H. Warner has completely recovered from his accident at Kenley and was today posted from 403 to 418 Squadron with a promotion indicated. He was very popular here and his departure is regretted. Fortunately, his shoes will be capably filled by F/O R.J.C. Doehler, who has demonstrated unusual ability since joining the Squadron.
Personnel and Flying Times for November 1942
RCAF RAF POLISH
No. of Officers – Flying 12 – 1
No. of Officers – Ground 5 1 –
No. of Airmen – Flying 11 – 3
No. of Officers – Ground 83 22 _-
111 23 4
Operational Flying Times: 2:30
Total Non-op time: 486:25
Non-operational night: 63:20
Tiger Moth: 32:10
Grand total for Month 584:25
Casualties for the Month: NIL
No enemy aircraft engaged.
Aircraft on Strength: 19 Spitfire Mk VB, 1 Tiger Moth
Tuesday, 1 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with slight rain and a visibility of 6 to 12 miles. The Squadron carried out local flying and range estimation exercises.
Wednesday, 2 December, 1942
Weather was fine all day with no cloud and a visibility of 7 to 15 miles. The Squadron carried out air to air firing, local and aerobatics flying.
Thursday, 3 December, 1942
The weather was fine all day but for a slight fog early in the morning. 7/10ths cloud was based at 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The Squadron carried out air to air firing and local and aerobatics exercises. During the afternoon, part of the Squadron carried out a beat-up on a road convoy exercise.
Friday, 4 December, 1942
Weather was fog all day with 10/10ths cloud on the surface. Squadron activities were restricted by the weather but several pilots managed to carry out some air to air firing. Flying Officer McGill reported in today to take over the duties of the Squadron Intelligence officer.
Saturday, 5 December, 1942
It was cloudy all day with a slight rain, 10/10ths cloud based at 1,000 to 3,000 feet with conditions improving slight in the afternoon. The Squadron carried out air to air firing and local flying exercises.
Sunday, 6 December, 1942
It was fine all day, with 4/10ths to 6/10ths cloud at 4,000 feet and 4 to 6 miles visibility. A weather test, high and low formation flying, local flying, cine gun exercise, tail chase and aerobatics were flown by several of the pilots. While taxiing on the runway shortly after landing, the undercarriage of P/O H.J. Dowding’s Spitfire collapsed. P/O Dowding was uninjured and slight damage occurred to the aircraft.
Monday, 7 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with a light drizzle and 10/10ths cloud based at 1,500 to 2,000 feet. A weather test and some local flying were carried out today. S/L Bennions destroyed a drifting balloon in the afternoon.
Tuesday, 8 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with showers and a cloud base of 8/10ths to 10/10ths at 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The Squadron performed cine gun and formation exercises, both above and below 5,000 feet with some pilots doing local flying and air to air firing. Pilot Officer C.G. Cumming reported in to the Squadron today and is attached to ‘B’ Flight for flying duties.
Wednesday, 9 December, 1942
Weather was cloudy all day with 8/10ths to 9/10ths cloud based at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and 6 miles visibility. The main activities of the Squadron were air to air firing, formation and tail chase above 5,000 feet and a Wimpy beat-up with some cloud flying. The Tannoy sounded at approximately 1545 hours for the Squadron to come to readiness. The Squadron was ordered to take-off and was airborne at 1634 hours, led by S/L Ford. Twelve planes took off, destination unknown. One, who apparently had some difficulty getting his engine started, was late getting airborne and was ordered to return. The eleven planes departing from Catterick were joined by two planes from Thornaby. The 13 pilots are all members of 403 Squadron and were: S/L Ford, F/L O’Leary, F/L Magwood, F/O Marshall, P/O Dowding, P/O Connacher, Sgt Bednarz, F/O Wozniak, Sgt Gillis, Sgt Abbotts, Sgt Dunbar, F/S Chute and Sgt Goudie. F/L Hill has been posted supernumerary to 331 Squadron, effective 15-12-42 and is slated to go East; the Squadron all wish him the best of luck.
Thursday, 10 December, 1942
The visibility was good in the early morning but deteriorated later to the poor distance of 600 yards. It was mainly 10/10ths cloud with rain that became heavy by midday. P/O Olmsted left in the early morning in the ‘Master’, accompanied by P/O J.R. Hamankiewicz so that the latter could join his new Squadron at Digby. Sgt Goudie returned to Catterick by train.
Friday, 11 December, 1942
The visibility was fair today, starting at 900 yards at 0900 hours and increasing to 4,000 yards later in the day. A heavy rain fell during the day until 1500 hours. As the Squadron has not yet returned and the weather is poor, everything here is very quiet.
Saturday, 12 December, 1942
Weather: visibility started out as poor but cleared by the mid-afternoon and then later became poor again. P/O Olmsted returned in the Magister during the afternoon, having left P/O Hamankiewicz at Digby with the Squadron, which has yet been in action. Sgt Goudie was married today at 1130 hours to Miss Katherine Coyne. The ceremony took place at Middlesborough, Yorkshire and F/L C. Black (MO) acted as the best man. The Squadron’s best wishes go with them.
Sunday, 13 December, 1942
It was cloudy with a slight rain until 1100 hours. The weather cleared at midday only to cloud over again in the afternoon. The Squadron returned early in the afternoon, considerably fed-up, as they did not get into action. With the exception of F/O Marshall, P/Os Wozniak and Dowding, the Squadron landed at Digby, North Weald, Wittering and then back to Digby before returning to Catterick. The pilots mentioned landed at Digby, West Mallings, Wittering and then back to Digby before they too returned to Catterick. It speaks well for the ability and efficiency of the Squadron that, while these operations were carried out at night and in very bad weather conditions, there were no accidents of any kind.
Monday, 14 December, 1942
The weather was cloudy with a 5/10ths to 10/10ths based at 2,000 to 3,000 feet in the morning, with a fog that descended to the surface by 1400 hours. Local flying and cine gun exercises as well as range estimation exercises were carried out today.
Tuesday, 15 December, 1942
The morning saw rain and fog until 1000 hours with 10/10ths cloud based at 400 to 1,500 feet and visibility between 800 to 1,500 yards. It cleared up for a short time and then continued with rain and fog for the remainder of the day. There was no flying on account of the weather conditions.
Wednesday, 16 December, 1942
It was cloudy all day with 10/10ths based at 300 to 1,500 feet and visibility of 1,500 to 2,000 yards. No flying was done today due to the weather.
Thursday, 17 December, 1942
It drizzled or rained from dawn with visibility going up to 1,500 yards. Sgts Bednarz and R. Rogowski were posted effective today. No flying was done due to the weather conditions.
Friday, 18 December, 9142
Fog all day with a maximum visibility of 300 yards and a minimum of 50 yards reported. No flying because of weather conditions. Sgt WT Lane’s commission, effective 9-11-42 came through today.
Saturday, 19 December, 1942
Fog all day until 1900 hours when t cleared to fair conditions. Only one flight, a weather test, was done today.
Sunday, 20 December, 1942
The weather was fine until mid-day, with 6 miles visibility. Mist and fog moved in later along with 7/10ths low cloud. Flying consisted of a weather test, ZZ approaches, air to air firing and sector reconnaissance. In the late afternoon, F/O R. Wozniak cracked up after landing; the plane was washed out but ‘Wozy’ was unhurt, for which we are all thankful. Sgt Dover’s commission to P/O, effective 26-11-42 came through today. Congratulations to Pilot Officer Dover. F/O K.P. Marshall was scrambled at 1200 hours but no contacts were made and he landed at 1210 hours.
Monday, 21 December, 1942
The winds were gusty and southerly all day. Visibility was fairly good with a maximum of 6 miles and a minimum of 1,000 yards. A mist closed in at dusk. Cine gun exercises, formation practice, air to air firing, range estimation and a weather test were carried out today.
Tuesday, 22 December, 1942
The weather was cloudy until mid-day when it became fine. P/O Connacher and F/S Chute scrambled at 1040 hours. No contacts were made and they were down at 1110 hours. Squadron formation practice was done in the afternoon and eight pilots did a night flying exercise. S/L Ford took part in the night flying exercise and made several contacts with the opposition. Sgts G.R. Brown, J.D. Edwards, W.C. Uttley and W. McGarrigle joined the Squadron today and are most welcome additions.
Wednesday, 23 December, 1942
Visibility was fair today, with a minimum of 1,100 yards and a maximum of 12 miles. The Cloud base was 9/10ths at 8,000 feet for nearly all of the day. Cine gun exercises, formation practice, ZZ approaches, aerobatics and a sector recco were carried out today. F/L O’Leary took part in a Co-op exercise with some Wellingtons. F/S Chute and P/O Cumming went on a scramble at 1430 hours. No contacts were made and they landed at 1450 hours.
Thursday, 24 December, 1942
Weather included 5/10ths low cloud with visibility between 400 to 3,000 yards. Activities consisted of a weather test, formation flying, ZZ approaches and a sector reconnaissance.
Friday, 25 December, 1942
Heavy fog all day with a maximum visibility of 200 yards. No flying due to the weather.
Saturday, 26 December, 1942
Fog all day with visibility from 50 to 500 yards. There was a frost today at dawn. No flying was done today. Owing to the extremely foggy weather, the Squadron has been able to relax somewhat during the last few days and a most enjoyable Christmas has been had by all. The personnel are now getting slightly browned off and are yearning for action.
Sunday, 27 December, 1942
Fog all day, visibility from 200 to 600 yards. No flying was done today.
Monday, 28 December, 1942
The weather was much improved with visibility varying from 4,000 yards to 6 miles. The cloud base was 6/10ths to 9/10ths at 2,000 feet. The Squadron was pleased that the weather had lifted and got in some air to air firing, local formation, sector recco, and aerobatics.
Tuesday, 29 December, 1942
There was a continual improvement in the weather throughout the day with visibility of 12 miles and 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet. The Squadron carried out formation exercises, aerobatics and cine gun practice.
Wednesday, 30 December, 1942
The visibility, which started out at 12 miles, deteriorated to 4 miles by evening. Cloud base of 6/10ths to 8/10ths was at 2,000 feet. Flying consisted of sector recco, local and ZZ approaches plus formation flying and cine gun.
Thursday, 31 December, 1942
Weather: visibility 12 miles all day and no low cloud. The Squadron finished off the year with slightly more than 40 hours for the day, making a good total considering all of the very poor weather. The highlight of the day was a Squadron formation practice and a beat-up with 4 ‘Whimpys’ taking part. There was also some air to air firing and local flying done today.
Personnel and Flying Times for December 1942
No. of Officers – Flying 13 1
No. of Officers – Ground 6 –
No. of Airmen – Flying 12 1
No. of Officers – Ground 83 20
Operational Flying Times: 3:00
Total Non-op time:
Spitfire Day 387:40
Spitfire Night: 15:10
Tiger Moth: 3:40
Grand total for Month 409:30
Aircraft on Squadron Strength: 18 Spitfire Mk VB
1 Tiger Moth
Casualties for the Month: NIL
Accidents for the Month of December: 2