Ripples in the water – George Dennis Aitken and the Boys

Remembrance Day 2020 continues with what George Aitken’s daughter has shared again.


Hi Pierre,

Here it is with my Dad’s list of names:
Note this is a Royal Canadian Airforce Picture


Chevers – Wozniak – Godefroy – Fowlow – Deschamps – Lane – Dowding – behind  Aitken – Brannagan – behind – Magwood – Richer – Padre – Uttley – behind – Cottrell and Dover – Miller – Hamilton – Brown

#403 RCAF Squadron at Kenley May, 1943

This is my favorite of all Dad’s pictures – it shows the friendship….


Brannagan behind Magwood

Ripples in the water – Stanley Ernest Messum and George Aitken

Remembrance Day 2020 continues with what George Aitken’s daughter has shared.

Her father had written this about his friend Stanley.


Stanley Ernest Messum, son of Mr. Mrs. H.C. Messum of Lloydminster. Stan attended Camrose Normal School and after teaching first at North Home School, located near Dewberry and at Trimble Ville School, north of Isley, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in Edmonton in 1940.

I first. met Stan at Dauphin, Manitoba, where we took our Service Flying Training. We graduated on the same day, 8th August, 1941 and found ourselves on the same “Overseas” posting. Our friendship did not flourish until the time that we were both destined to be posted to the Middle East. At the last moment, we were both taken off this posting and instead transferred from #416 RCAF Squadron then located at Peterhead in Scotland to #403 RCAP Squadron, stationed at North Weald. We usually got time off together, and he would invite me to visit, with him, some relatives who lived in London.

Whilst I was away from the Squadron, on leave, Stan was on an Operational trip and “shot down”. Fortunately, he was rescued and by the time I returned from “leave” he was of course flying again.

Stan was then posted to the Middle East. He was in Malta, at the time that George “Buzz” Beurling, a Canadian in the RAF and who had also flown with #403 RCAF Fighter Squadron at North Weald. Stan saw service in the Middle East and for a time flew with an Air Delivery Unit between Lagos and Cairo.

Stan had an exceptional sense of humor and his cheerfulness always made friends for him easily.

Stan returned to Canada in 1944 for a short rest period and we met in Edmonton to renew our acquaintance as I too had returned to Canada and was at the time stationed at Shepard, just south of Calgary, Alberta. We discussed the War and we both agreed that it would soon be at an end. He had requested to be returned “Overseas” to Operations and he told me that he had found a young lady in England, who he intended to marry as soon as he got back. His wish was granted and he did return Overseas and was married.

It seemed only a short time later when we read in our papers that he was reported “missing” in air operations. At this time he was flying with the Hornet Squadron out of Eindhoven. The date, April 9, 1945. By this time Stan was but 28 and he had served in the ranks of Sgt/Pilot, F/Sgt/Pilot, then commissioned as Pilot Officer and at the time of him being reported as “missing held the rank of Flying Officer.

It was later confirmed that he was “killed in action”.


****Stan is mentioned in the book “RCAF Overseas Fifth Year”

Photos shared by George Aitken’s daughter

“They Shall Grow Not Old”

Messum Stanley Ernest F/0 (P) J19447/R76772 Lloydminster, Sask. KIA April 6, 1945 age 29

443 Squadron

Spitfire MS670 hit by flak N/W Solingen, Germany.

Messum reported by R/T that he was going to get out. Not seen to do so. Spitfire was seen to crash by the roadside south of Mendersum.

F/O Messum was buried in a field adjacent to the crash. Exhumed and reburied Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Germany.

Ripples in the water – Stanley Ernest Messum

Remembrance Day 2020 will start this week with this photo shared in 2014 by Jim O’Toole whose father was J. W. O’Toole.

 Jim had shared this information…

Stan Messum is pictured on top of plane was killed in later April.

Stanley Ernest Messum is seen sitting on the propeller of a Spitfire. Most of these young men have long been forgotten. In 1945 they were posing for posterity so one day we might remember them on Remembrance Day.

I wish I could remember them all…

In fact Maureen did help in 2014…

Hi there…

Yes dad and I have been looking at that photo off and on and he has a few names for the folks in the photo… He also is unsure on some of them…

The picture was likely taken in later March or early April 1945 as Stan Messum pictured on top of plane was killed in later April.

So from top to bottom and left to right: Stan Messum on top

Standing Left to right: Terry Watt, Art Sager, Unsure, Unsure, Possible Lloyd Hunt (maybe Monty Clow), Possibly Peewee Dalton, Charles Stephens, Cecil Grant, Percy Gomez, Charles Charlesworth

Kneeling bottom row: Gerry (Gouty) Gould, T (Ted or Terry) Green, Unsure (fellow in middle between front row and those standing), Possibly Dodds, James O’Toole (my dad), Olar Dodson.

Other names that may be here include: Dobson, RA Hodgins, D Walz, WG Conway, RD Marsh, J Collins, GA McDonald, CJ Grant, JC Turcott, W Kroeker, Gordon Ockenden

Hope that helps…



Pat Murphy’s Message and Homage to Spitfire pilots


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.



Art Sager, Jim O'TOOLE Spit Pilots



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


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.

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.

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