Pat Murphy’s Message and Homage to Spitfire pilots

Note

This was a draft post written almost 5 years ago. I still have 30 more draft posts left. This is post 741 honouring those who served with RCAF 403 Squadron.


Pierre, while I was doing some searching tonight for more information on Hart Finley, I came across this picture I took in 2007 at the Y2-K Spitfire restoration project Open House. We had 12 Spitfire pilots attend that year and this was one truck full.

Left to right

Jim O’Toole 421 Sqn

Art Sager 443 Sqn

Kit Carson 412 Sqn

Duke Warren 165 Sqn

Stocky Edwards

Hart Finley at the back of the truck.

It was a great day to have so many Spitfire pilots in one place.

Pat

 

Art Sager, Jim O'TOOLE Spit Pilots

 

Cheers

Pat Murphy

A Reader’s Comment About George Aitken

I don’t know if Pat Murphy told Dorothy about my blog.

Hi, I am George Aitken’s youngest daughter, Dorothy. It was so wonderful to see the ‘never seen before’ picture of my Dad. I have been doing my best to try to preserve his memory. I would certainly like to thank Robert Brookes’s son for providing you with the picture. I am so very, very thankful that this site is remembering my Dad. He was a hero in many ways and I miss him every day.

Collection Robert Brookes

Collection Robert Brookes

Collection Robert Brookes

Collection Robert Brookes

Colorised by Doug Banks

Reader’s Comment

Stephen Nickerson commented on William Thompson Lane.

It was interesting to read that the 403 was visited by W/C Ford the day P/O W.T. Lane was missing. On March 13th, 1943, while carrying out an escort assignment to American B-17s, Ford’s Spitfire was suffering engine trouble on the return leg of this mission. He ordered the squadron to return to base immediately because the American bombers’ C/O did not take his fighter escorts limited flying range while flying over France that day. P/O Lane who was acting as (Red 4) stayed with Ford while the rest of the 403 left the area. Lane had consumed more fuel then the rest in the section because he was acting as tail in Charlie. Fortunately, for Ford his engine recovered and Lane warned him of enemy aircraft attacking. Lane received several hits to his fighter in protecting his leader before both escaped. I’m sure W/C Ford was upset to hear that Lane was missing the day he came to visit his old squadron.

William Thompson Lane is in the back row, second from the right. On the extreme right is Fred Turner.

More on this picture later…

Courtesy Doug Banks

The reason I created this blog?

Comments by readers!

Like this one in 2017 about a Spitfire pilot who I knew little about.

William Lane

Source: http://baromesnil.canalblog.com/archives/2013/03/08/26601272.html

Thank you for this valuable information. Bill was one of three best friends who signed up for the RCAF in May, 1941 from his hometown of Sudbury. All three wanted to be pilots and they got their wish: Bill in a Spitfire, Syd Smith in a Wellington and my uncle, Donald Plaunt, in a Lancaster. Syd was the only one to survive the war, although he was shot down over France and fortunately escaped through Gibraltar. He wrote his autobiography (Lifting the Silence) in which Bill Lane was included, along with my uncle. I wrote a biography of my uncle (Write Soon and Often) and included much on Bill and Syd, however, I wished I had found more about Bill. I knew he was killed five weeks after my uncle and was the second son in his family to have been killed. I wanted to add a Tribute section to my website to my uncle’s crew and his two friends, so I hope you don’t mind that I included a link to your website. Merci beaucoup

William Thompston Lane is on these two group photos from the collection of airframe mechanic Robert Brookes.

The first one is still undated.

BB1 - HR

This one is most probably dated 21 March, 1943.

BB12 - HR

From RCAF 403 Squadron’s ORBs

Saturday, 15 May, 1943

The weather was sunny and warm with cloud in the morning that cleared off by noon. Circus 297: S/L Magwood led the Wing as high Cover to 12 Bostons bombing Poix. Rendezvous was made at Bexhill on the deck and the French coast was crossed at Le Touquet. Good Bombing results were seen with bursts coming up from dispersed buildings and alongside the runway. All of the bombers were seen in and out safely. Enemy reaction was first seen around Senaipoint after the bombing, with between six and eight e/as coming in fairly close. Between 30 and 40 e/a were seen, mostly 109s, and all some distance below at around 17,000 feet. F/L MacDonald, leading blue Section, climbed to cover Red Section which had turned port to attack two 190s. At this time, he saw two 109s below his starboard wing and he dived onto the rear one giving a short burst of cannon from 200 yards or less. Strikes were seen on the engine, cockpit and fuselage before the e/a was seen falling to pieces with both wings crumpling. F/L MacDonald claims this e/a as destroyed. F/L MacDonald then attacked a 109 from 300 to 400 yards, seeing strikes on the port wing tip. F/O MacKay saw further damage before the e/a rolled off to port and down. F/L MacDonald claims this e/a as damaged. At this point, F/L L.B. Madden, Blue 2, who was on his first sortie, dove down, apparently after the damaged 109. He was called back by his Flight Commander, F/L MacDonald, but made no reply. The rest of the Section orbited the spot briefly but were forced to take evasive action from further attacks. No more was seen or heard from F/L L.B. Madden. P/O Aitken and P/O Lane, Yellow 3 and 4, were split up from the rest of their Section on attacking two pairs of 109s which were alone. Shortly after this, 12 109s, flying in our Spitfire formation, attacked P/O Lane and P/O Aitken. They evaded them by turning and climbing rapidly. Then one 109 and four 190s, flying in star formation, suddenly attacked from port and behind. P/O Aitken broke to port and into them while P/O Lane evidently broke to starboard. This was the last time P/O W.T. Lane was seen or heard of. One e/a destroyed and one damaged for the loss of two pilots. Up at 1615 hours and down at 1755 hours. The Sections were as follows:

Blue Section Red Section Yellow Section
F/L MacDonald S/L Magwood F/L Godefroy
F/L Madden F/O Brannagan F/S Shouldice
F/O MacKay F/L McNair F/O Aitken
P/O McWilliams F/O Conrad P/O Lane

Considerable heavy flak was thrown up over the target area, evidently aimed off to one side of 403 Squadron. A considerable amount of non-operational flying was carried out and other operational sortie and scramble were done. The Squadron was visited by W/C L.S. Ford, DFC & Bar, F/O Hingle and S/L Thompson (RCAF HQ). S/L L.V. Chadburn was posted to 402 Squadron to lead the Squadron, replacing S/L Bud Malloy DFC. LAC Roberts (Hosp/Asst) arrived from 3 PRC Bournemouth. P/O W.T. Lane’s brother, Gordon (RCE) was here when Willie took-off. It was rather hard to have to tell him that Willie was missing.

403 Squadron Erks With a Captured German 3 Wheeled Truck

A comment about one of George White’s photos.

https://wp.me/p1RdXZ-Re

Hi Mark funny you say the picture appears to be of your Dad as I thought it was of mine. I am just on the blog now which is amazing! My Dad is standing beside your Dad is one of the first pictures when your Dad’s head is circled. I could be wrong but the pose is the same as in the first picture (my Dad always stood with his arms around his friends) and my Dad’s fingers appear to be the same (my Dad had long fingers – always thought they were fairly boney for such a well build man) my Dad’s name is C. Alex Woods (war nickname – Chuck) I didn’t think it was like my Dad to wear a hat (although he wore the same type for many years) especially as he’d been working in this picture – I imagined the man standing over him on his right just put it on his head for fun – my Dad (assuming it is him) would have left it on. The picture is indeed a tough one to identify due to the obstructed face…

Good morning John – Update

A comment for Mark White about one of his father’s photos featured on this post.

https://wp.me/p1RdXZ-teo

Hello the man standing in the middle with his arms outstretched around his friends ( including the man clicked- your Dad) is my Dad C. Alec Woods- my Dad talked about Whitey. My Dad’s war nickname was Chuck ( named for Canuck and his first name was Charles) my Dads pictures were lost- do you know of any other ones that might include my Dad. I can’t see him in any other pictures posted so thank you so much for this one- it is amazing to see him! My Dad always said there was nothing glamorous about the war, he never talked about it until later in his life – reading your blogs I can see why he said that. I so appreciate your blog/information it makes me feel connected to my Dad! Thank you

Who remembers?

I’m curious if you have any mentions of the late John (Jack) Robert Baker in your archives. A few years before he passed away Jack took the time to describe most of the photos in his photo album from the war. I don’t know what became of the album or his log book after he passed. He was originally from Markham Ontario and had (I believe) two sisters-in-laws still living there in the early 2000s.

If I find the video of him describing who’s who in his photo album, I would be happy to share the info. Jack is the fellow with the tilted cap standing partially obscured by the motorcycle rider.

JOHN (JACK) R. BAKER

December 21, 1923 – April 13, 2003 Jack passed away April 13, 2003 at the General Hospital after a short illness. He is survived by his sister, Ruby Norton and her husband, Gordon of Markham, Ontario; sisters-in-law, Irene Baker of Oshawa, Ontario, Jean Baker of Port Perry, Ontario; two nephews, three nieces, four great-nieces and two great-nephews, all of Ontario. Jack was predeceased by his father, Walter; mother, Verna and his brothers, Austin and Daniel. Jack served in the R.C.A.F. from November 1942 to February 1946 as a Spitfighter pilot with the 403 Wolf Squadron and saw active duty in Europe. He received th 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, and the Pilot’s Flying Badge. After the war he transferred to the Reserves. He rejoined the regular force again in May of 1951 until May of 1956, during this time Jack trained NATO pilots. Upon his release from the R.C.A.F. he went into business in the City of Edmonton, where he lived until his death.

Remembering Fred George Turner

This is what Fred Turner said on The Memory Project.

I was always interested in flying. I made model airplanes. The first chance I had to go in the air force, I took it. Well, I started as a kid building model airplanes and I was always interested in planes. The first solo flight was simple, I mean, you have your left hand on the throttle, your right hand on the stick, push the throttle forward, the aircraft starts to move; the tail comes up, then you pull the joystick back. And in no time flat, you’re in the air. And you use your rudder and the stick. If you want to turn left, you push the stick to the left and use the left rudder. If you want to turn right, you push the stick to the right and use the right rudder. The [Supermarine] Spitfire’s [fighter aircraft] great, absolutely beautiful. It was so smooth to operate and control. I was with [No.] 91 Squadron [Royal Air Force], an English squadron, and [No.] 403 [Wolf Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force], a Canadian squadron. We were based near Dover [England] and we patrolled the [English] Channel down to the Isle of Wight and some other squadrons did the Isle of Wight to Land’s End. So all that time, I don’t think I ever saw a German aircraft. We flew over France once and saw a squadron of German aircraft on the ground, that’s all.

There will be more later for paying homage to Fred George Turner.

1942 Spitfire Fred Turner (2)

1942 Spitfire Fred Turner (3)

1942 06 Rednal George Garnham, Fred Turner, Jimmie Dow & Ralph Kennedy

Fred G. Turner (second from right) and three of his comrades from No. 403 (Wolf) Squadron, RCAF, June 1942. From left to right: George Garnham of England, Turner, Jimmie Dow of Ontario, and Ralph Kennedy of New Zealand. (Source Phillip Turner)

Fred Turner sitting

Fred G. Turner, “at readiness” while serving with No. 403 (Wolf) Squadron, RCAF at RAF Catterick, August 1942. (Phillip Turner)

Fred Turner in cockpit

Flying Officer Fred G. Turner in the cockpit of his Spitfire, June 1943.
(Phillip Turner)

Fred Turner

Flying Officer Fred G. Turner (second from right) and comrades – from left to right W/O Pete Sexton, Turner, S/L Tubby Mayne, F/L W.L. Walker, and their dog – of No. 91 Squadron at RAF Gatwick, 1944. (Phillip Turner)

 

About 91 Squadron (source Wikipedia)

In January 1941 the squadron was reformed from No. 421 (Reconnaissance) Flight and based at RAF Hawkinge, Kent equipped with Spitfires, carrying out weather reconnaissance and Air Sea Rescue operations. In April 1943 they were upgraded to Spitfire XIIs,the first Griffon engined Spitfires, which proved very successful in intercepting the low-flying Focke-Wulf 190s. They also flew reconnaissance missions over northern France and later concentrated on bomber escort duties. In March 1944 the squadron was assigned to the Second Tactical Air Force and flew tactical sweeps over the Normandy landing zones. Later in the year, now based at RAF West Malling, Kent and equipped with the faster Spitfire XIVs they were deployed to combat the V-1 flying-bomb attacks (Capitaine Jean Maridor was blown up in mid-air when he got in too close to shoot a V-1 down [1]). In April 1945 the squadron relocated to East Anglia to carry out reconnaissance missions and searches for midget submarines off the coast of the Netherlands and Belgium.

In France, it’s called le devoir de mémoire

Bonjour

Je suis à la recherche d’informations au sujet du pilote : Donald John Shapter, J/35505, 403e Escadron de l’ARC (code KH). Mort le 14 juillet 1944 sur la commune de Saint-Lambert dans le Calvados, Normandie, France.

Je fleuris régulièrement sa tombe dans le petit cimetière de St-Lambert, mon devoir de mémoire.

Voilà je vous remercie d’avance.

Cordialement Jacques

 

 

Translation

Hello,

I am looking for information about a pilot: Donald John Shapter, J/35505,403 RCAF Squadron (code KH). He died on 14 July 1944 in the commune of Saint-Lambert in Calvados, Normandy, France.

I regularly place flowers on his grave in the small cemetery of St-Lambert, this is my duty to remember.

I thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely

Jacques

 

Many people in France still remember the Fallen. A lady in France is doing the same with Leclare Walker.

IMG_3673

Ronny Bosmann does the same in the Netherlands remembering Admiral Byrd.

P1070634

These are two pictures of Donald John Shapter, J/35505. First when he was not still a commissioned officer.

44486_83024005550_0584-00018

44486_83024005550_0584-00016

Donald John Shapter, J/35505 earned his wings at No.6 SFTS Dunnville.

Donald Shapter is remembered on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

In memory of
Flying Officer
Donald John Shapter
July 14, 1944

Military Service:

Service Number: J/35505
Age: 24
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 403 Sqdn.

Additional Information:

Son of the Revd. Charles P. Shapter and Margaret M. Shapter; husband of Elizabeth Jean Shapter, of Toronto, Ontario.

Commemorated on Page 440 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. Request a copy of this page.

Burial Information:

Cemetery: ST. LAMBERT CHURCHYARD ; Calvados, France
Grave Reference: N/A
Location: St. Lambert is a village and commune 20 miles (32 kilometres) south-west of Caen, 25 miles (40 kilometres) south-south-east of Bayeux, and 6 miles (9 kilometres) south-west of Thury-Elarcourt. This is a small town on the N.162 Caen to Flers road, 16 miles (26 kilometres) south-south-west of Caen. There is 1 Commonwealth burial of the 1939-1945 war here, in the north-west corner of the churchyard.

I guess Jacques will be sending me a picture of Donald Shapter grave.