75 years ago – Remembering the Fallen

75 years ago today Leslie Sydney Ford died. He was 23 years-old. There is an error on the headstone. Leslie Sydney Ford was born 30th December, 1919.

Collection Robert Brookes


Colorised version done by Doug Banks


The names were researched by Doug Banks and the blog author.

Leslie Sydney Ford is remembered here.

Syd” Ford was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 30 December 1919. His youth was spent in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where he was often seen sailing his small craft in the harbour. He attended Acadia University but ended his education to enlist in Halifax in 1940.

His flight training began in Canada and he was awarded his wings in January 1941. From Canada he was posted to England in February 1941 where he received further training. He served with No. 403 Squadron, April to September of 1941 ; No. 402 Squadron, September 1941 to January 1942; No. 175 Squadron, February to July 1942, returning to No. 403 Squadron as “B” Flight Commander in July 1942.

His promotion to Commanding Officer came in August of 1942. His next posting was to Digby as Wing Commander (Flying), in April of 1943. Ford was killed in action, 4 June 1943 while attacking enemy shipping off the Dutch coast. With four other pilots of No. 402 Squadron, he attacked three E-boats* and was shot down into the sea.

Syd Ford was credited with 6 aerial victories including 19 August 1942, when he led his squadron in support of the combined operations against Dieppe with great skill. Several enemy aircraft were destroyed, two of which were shot down by Squadron Leader Ford. Throughout, he was an inspiring example instilling great confidence in his fellow pilots.

As a flying officer he carried out many operational missions, having been engaged in fighter sweeps and in bombing attacks on land and sea targets. He participated in two attacks when two mine sweepers and an enemy destroyer were sunk and two destroyers were damaged. He was a keen and zealous flight commander and leader.

Wing Commander Ford is buried in the General Cemetery at Vlieland, Frisian Islands, Friesland, Holland.


* The ships were in fact minesweepers.


A Little Help from the 403 Squadron Operational Record Books

I found the 403 Squadron ORBs on the Internet…
First page is here.

I jumped to August 1942
I was looking for who else might be on this photo which Doug and I think was taken on August 21, 1942 two days after the Dieppe raid since Gardiner, Monchier and Walker, who were killed on August 19, are not on this group photo.


Three more are now going to be added by Doug.
I found this one using the ORBs.Hill

Flight Lieutenant George Urquhart Hill DFC and Bar

I also found this one.Cabas

Sergeant Victor Cabas.

More on him here.
Doug found Flight Sergeant J.T. Norman.Norman

How did he die?
9 more to go with your help and this list of 403 Squadron pilots who flew with 403 Squadron from 19 August to 31 August 1942…

19 August 1942, first sortie…19 August 1942-1

S/L Ford (on the group picture)
P/O Olmsted
P/O Gardiner (killed at Dieppe)
F/L Hill (on the group picture)
Sgt Fletcher
P/O Johnston
F/L O’Leary (on the group picture)
Sgt Cabas (on the group picture)
P/O Walker (killed at Dieppe)
P/O Murphy
P/O Aitken (on the group picture)
P/O Monchier (killed at Dieppe)19 August 1942-2

To be transcribed later…

19 -20 August 1942 - 1

21- 22 August 1942 - 1

22- 24 August 1942 - 1

24- 26 August 1942 - 1

27- 28 August 1942 - 1

28- 31 August 1942 - 1

When and Where

LeClare Allerthorn Walker should be on this group photo.

But he is not. LeClare Allerthorn Walker was shot down on August 19, 1942.

Collection Robert Brookes

LeClare Allerthorn Walker’s biography is on this blog for you to read.

20 pilots pose for posterity after August 19, 1942. 8 have been identified. I knew some of them but Doug Banks found some more.

One of them looked familiar…

Collection Fred Turner

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

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…