Just another group picture?

Think again.

I love this group picture taken late March 1945 at Petit Brogel in Belgium.

403 Petit Brogel March 1945

Loved it so much I added labels.

403PetitBrogleMarch1945_0002 identification

I wanted to use it as a reference tool.

That was before I met virtually Josette Nadon on the Internet. Her father was a Spitfire pilot who was only remembered by a picture and a one liner.

Georges Nadon 122 Squadron

Girlfriends and beer…

Georges Nadon has now his own blog to be remembered…

More from Georges Nadon’s collection – Redux

This should get some people’s attention…

 

122 squadron 1942

 

Dear Sir,

My name is Mehdi Schneyders and I live in Belgium. I am a colored half Belgian – half South African, and a R.A.F. enthusiast as well. There are three Belgian pilots on this picture concerning No. 122 Squadron :

– First row ( standing ), first from the left : Léopold ” Coco ” Collignon.
– First row ( standing ), the short one next to the civilian : Léon Prévot.
– Second row ( seated on one wing ), fourth from the right : Raymond ” Van ” Van de Poel.

Posted to No. 350 ” Belgian ” Squadron, two of them ( Prévot and Collignon ) are becoming the C.O.’s of the unit. Van de Poel died on collision with another pilot.

North Weald

These are three pictures shared by Dean Black. They were taken at North Weald where 403 Squadron was once stationed.

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He had this message…

Hi Pierre,

Here are three photographs I took with Steve Butte in April 2002. We visited the North Weald airfield. There is a small museum there, as you can see in the photograph, as well as a prominent memorial to the fallen aircrew who served while operating from North Weald.

Dean on the left is with Steve Butte a Spitfire pilot with 403 Squadron.

  steve-butte-northweald-3

Collection Dean Black

Steve Butte is seen here on this picture with his eyes closed. Top row, third from the left.

Dad sitting first left

Collection Georges Nadon via André Nadon

Georges Nadon is in the first row extreme left. It’s Nadon’s second tour of operations. He would end the war with 277 sorties.

This is Steve Butte again.

steve-butte-northweald-2

Collection Dean Black

This third picture is most interesting.

steve-butte-northweald

Collection Dean Black

Most interesting when you compare it with this one.

Pierre Lecoq's Spitfire

North Weald

The pilot behind the plane

I know Georges Nadon is in front of a Spitfire and not behind… Just playing with words this morning.

Dad & Spitfire

I know what type of Spitfire is pictured here and probably know when this picture was taken.

Who was Georges Nadon, the man behind the plane, and how do we find out how brave a man he was since he talked so little about the war?

Dad & Spitfire

I was wondering why he named that plane Henry.

So I asked his children. One wrote me an e-mail and wrote back with an anecdote from his father.

Un moment donné en Europe, un squadron leader venait d’atterrir et mon père atterrissait tout de suite en arrière de lui sauf que le leader ne s’est pas tassé  pour donner assez de place à mon père pour atterrir avec aisance. Ils ont failli avoir une collision. 

Le leader a commencé à engueuler mon père mais mon père s’est défendu en disant que lorsqu’il avait pris son cours de pilotage, une des choses à faire une fois atterri, c’était de faire la place pour le suivant, chose que le leader n’avait pas fait. Selon les pilotes, il parait que le leader était un peu “show off”.

C’est à ce moment là que tous les autres pilotes qui étaient sur place ont pris la part de mon père et le leader s’est viré de bord avec la face rouge sans dire un mot de plus.

Translation

At one time in Europe, a squadron leader had just landed his plane, and my father was right behind him. However the squadron leader stayed on the runway leaving not enough space for my father to make an easy landing. I was a close call. 

The leader started to give an earful to my father, but my father argued back telling him he had learned in his training days that once you have landed you clear the way for other pilots to land, what the leader had not done. According to fellow pilots it seems the leader was a bit of a “show off”.

At that precise moment all the other pilots who were there took my father’s side, and the leader turned away, his face red without saying another word.

Veterans seldom talked about the war. I know because I had the privilege of meeting some veterans since 2010.

Getting back to the plane I think the Spitfire behind George is a Spitfire Mk IX, and this picture would have been taken in France by looking at the pierced-steel plank.

I know Georges Nadon was with 403 Squadron in his last tour of operations because I have his logbook. His first tour was with 122 Squadron in England and then 185 Squadron in Malta, before being rapatriated in Canada, and stationed at Bagotville in 1943. He then got married.

His second tour of operations was with 403 Squadron from June 1944 through March 1945.

So why is this so important that I should write about this Spitfire named Henry?

Because George Nadon never talked about the 277 sorties he did in WW II and he probably chose to name his Spitfire for his wife Henriette.