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

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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