Collection Robert Brookes – Spitfire Mk Vb AB981

Every picture tells a story. Airframe mechanic Robert Brookes poses for posterity. Date unknown.

Spitfire KW*A also poses for posterity.

Found on the Internet

Served with No. 403 (F) Squadron, RCAF from 12 September 1941, coded “KH*Z”. Category AC damage in a flying accident on 10 March 1943. Left this unit by July 1943.

I guess KW*Z became KW*A after the accident.

Sergeant Robert Brookes’ Memories from the War

This is what his son wrote me about his father thus helping me to date later all the pictures he has shared.

I thought he was briefly in a Typhoon or Hurricane squadron that transitioned to Spitfires, prior to being moved to the 403. The reason he was transferred is that he did not get along with his first boss (his squadron commander?).

I remember him saying that the ‘by the book’ way of changing a tire on a Spitfire (although this might have been a Hurricane, but I am pretty sure he said Spitfire) was very time consuming. So instead he had a couple of fellows pull down on the opposite wing to raise the tire off the ground just enough to change it, which was a much easier and faster process that could be done right on the runway. But this was not the official way to do it so he kept getting in trouble. Things like this got him sent off to a different squadron, which I thought was the 403.

He said at the new squadron they were much more open to innovation. The 403 was certainly the squadron that was near and dear to his heart. The path of the 403 matches his stories, as he went into France, Belgium and Holland before being sent home.

Another story he liked to tell is that he had originally signed up to be a pilot. He failed the testing due to colour blindness. They had to put him somewhere so because he knew how to play the drums, they put him in the band (at this time the volunteers were staying at the Horse Palace in Toronto) – this would have been early 1940 when things were just getting going. He of course had not volunteered to only play in a marching band. So one day he was sitting in his bunk, kind of fed up, and he heard the call for all airframe mechanics to report to be shipped out to St. Thomas for training. So he just packed his stuff up and pretended to have been assigned to that group, managed to pass through, and next thing he knew he was an airframe mechanic! He said that the training was a bit behind and they actually learned how to make and fix parts out of wood, since the British trainers had experience from WWI.

I am pretty sure he was in the squadron when Buzz Beurling was there. I remember him saying that he had a very special crew and no one else was allowed to touch his plane.

Robert Brookes enlisted on December 14 1940. He was honorably discharged on April 21 1945. He went overseas on September 18 1941 and returned to Canada on March 9 1945.

Robert Brookes’ son will try to obtain his father’s record of service file so we can update his father’s tenure in the RCAF.

Next time No. 1 T.T.S. St. Thomas.

You can go here for the time being…

Sergeant Robert Brookes’ Collection – George Aitken

George Aitken is standing probably on a wing of a Spitfire Mk Vb in 1942 or 1943. This photo is part of more than 30 photos from Sergeant George Brookes’ collection shared by his son.

Never been seen before!


To be continued…

Revisiting the Past – Sergeant Robert Brookes’ Collection

Updated September 13, 2019

Comment by Stephen Nickerson

The group photo that you have as listed as being at Kenley, April 1943 is incorrect. That photo was taken after the Dieppe Raid. The Spitfire in the photo is a Mk.V not Mk.IX which the 403 was flying in April 1943. Also F/L George Hill is sitting to the right of S/L Ford in that photo. Hill left the 403 in November 1942 to serve in the North Africa.


Revisiting the Past – Sergeant Robert Brookes’ Collection


Bob Brookes, Gibby, and Roy



403 Squadron Chaplain
Most probably at Kenley, Surrey – April 1943



403 Squadron Chaplain
Most probably at Kenley, Surrey – April 1943



Unknown ground crew



George Aitken



Most probably at St. Thomas, Ontario –  circa summer 1941



Unknown ground crew



St. Thomas, Ontario – August 22, 1941



Names for group photo St. Thomas, Ontario – August 22, 1941



Village in France



RCAF 439 “Westmount” Squadron at ALG B9, Creully, France



RCAF 439 “Westmount” Squadron at ALG B9, Creully, France


More on Advanced Landing Ground Creully


Jerry Spencer and Jim Day



Bob Brookes is in top row, number 2



Pete Marley and Jim Day



Whet, Pete, Hammie, Jim


George Aitken



403 Squadron group photo photo was taken after the Dieppe Raid. 

More about 403 Squadron at Kenley


Kenley, Surrey – April 1943 – Bob Brookes is furthest to upper right.



North Weald – 1942


Bob Brookes when he enlisted – Toronto, 1941.



403 Squadron group photo at Kenley, Surrey – April 1943



Villers Bocage






“A rigger at work – Brooksie”

Spitfire Mk Vb


6MU 7-9-41

403 Squadron 12-9-41

FAAC 10-2-43 Scottish Aviation

165 S 1-7-43

501 S 19-7-43

504 S 15-12-43

129 S 26-1-44

278 S 17-6-44

SOC 15-5-45



“A rigger at work – Brooksie”



Bob Brookes,  second row, second person.



Elmer – Catterick, Summer 1942



Gibson, Roger, and I – Catterick, Summer 1942



19 April 1942





















Unknown – maybe George Aitken sitting on the right.




Contact – Paying homage to an airframe mechanic and his pilot

Hello, my father (Sgt Robert Brookes) was in the 403 from 41 or 42 to when his 5 years were up just before the war ended. He was an airframe mechanic and trained in St. Thomas before being shipped over.

Anyway, I don’t have a lot of pictures. But in an interesting coincidence the first picture link (below) seems to be of LeClare Walker who I saw on your blog, so it is possible then that my father was his mechanic.

The second is a not very good picture of my father in uniform.

The third is a Hawker Typhoon at night.




To be continued…