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…


Another request from Steve Nickerson

Hello Pierre,

I’m seeking information on the Spitfire Mk IX known as ‘CANADIAN PACIFIC’.
I know that S/L Syd Ford flew this fighter and claimed four aerial victories during the months of February to April 1943. However, I would like to know the history of this fighter and the squadron letters and serial number the aircraft wore when Ford flew it 1943.

Thank you for all the hard work you have done during the past countless years keeping the memory of the 403 and all its members alive for this generation and future generations to read about.
We will remember them.


Steve had already requested some information about Squadron Leader Ford.

Click here.

Squadron Leader Leslie Sydney Ford

A question from Stephen Nickerson…

While researching Leslie Sydney Ford’s military career I was unable to find out who Phyl Marie was. This was the name painted on his Spitfire BM 344 while he served as the 403’s Squadron Leader during the Dieppe raid and the last few months of 1942. Would anyone know who Phyl Marie was?
Stephen Nickerson

More about Syd Ford on this Website.


FORD, F/L Leslie Sydney (J3712) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.175 Squadron – Award effective 9 June 1942 as per London Gazette dated 26 June 1942 and AFRO 1000-1001/42 dated 3 July 1942.  Born Halifax, Nova Scotia, 30 December 1919.  Home in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.  Attended Acadia University for three years.  Enlisted in Halifax, 21 June 1940 (possibly 21 January 1940).  Trained at No.2 ITS, No.8 EFTS and No. 4 SFTS (graduated 28 January 1941; awarded wings that date).  Posted overseas in February 1941; further trained at No.52 OTU, March and April 1941..  Served with Nos.403 Squadron, 21 April 1941 to 12 September 1941; No.402 Squadron, 21 September 1941 to January 1942; No.175 Squadron, 6 February 1942 to 9 July 1942.  Returned to No.403 Squadron as “B” Flight Commander, 19 July 1942; became Commanding Officer on 13 August 1942. Posted to Digby as Wing Commander (Flying), 19 April 1943.  Killed in action, 4 June 1943 attacking enemy shipping off Dutch coast; with four pilots of No.402 Squadron attacked three E-boats and was shot down into sea.  Credited with with following aerial victories: 27 September 1941, one Bf.109 damaged (Hurricane Z3349, shared with another pilot); 19 August 1942, two FW.190s destroyed (Spitfire BM344); 15 February 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (Spitfire BS474); 27 February 1943; one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 27 February 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 13 March 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 3 April 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474); 4 April 1943, one FW.190 destroyed (BS474).


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


FORD, S/L Leslie Sydney (J3712) – Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross – No.403 Squadron – Award effective 16 September 1942 as per London Gazette dated 2 October 1942 and AFRO 1653/42 dated 16 October 1942.


On August 19th, 1942, this officer 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, his inspiring example instilled great confidence in his fellow pilots.


NOTE:  Public Records Office Air 2/8769 has recommendation for a Croix de Guerre dated 20 January 1943 stating about the same as above.  Although it was went right through to Fighter Command Headquarters, it was not approved at Air Ministry level, either because the deed had already been covered by the Bar to the DFC or because of Ford’s death in action.  Several other pilots were recommended for the Croix de Guerre following the Dieppe Raid and ended up with Mentions in Despatches (see H.H. Hills, R.C. MacQuoid and M.B. Pepper).



Comment from Robert de Vries on Wing Commander L.S. Ford

Hi Pierre,

Thanks a lot for attending me.

I also did some research at the Bundes Militar Archiv in Freiburg, Germany and found some reports on the fight, in which the Spitfire of WCdr L.S. Ford was shot down.

I have attached copies of the original reports, maybe you can put them on your Website?

The first attach is a report of the German 347th infantry division (responsible for defending the Dutch coast). In the report on the 14th of July 1943 there is a remark that the body of WCdr L.S. Ford was found on the coast of the Vlieland Island, Netherlands.


report 1

The other attach is a report of the Command of the 34th German Minesweeper flottila.


report 2

The actual fight (only 3 minutes) with the six Spitfires, including the one with WCdr Ford, wasn’t with E-boats but with coast minesweepers who were operating in the Nordsea (in the surrounding of Den Helder).

There is a very detailled fight report of the fight between the minesweepers and the Spitfires, also there is a drawing included.

report 3

About the crash of the Spitfire of WCdr Ford there is the following remark “The third plane from the right, which flew about 10 meters above the boats M 3403 and M 3407, crashed down in sea about 1500 meters behind the boats and sunk.”

On the 18th of August there was the order by Generalkommando Niederlande to bury the Canadian pilot with military honor by the Kriegsmarine Detachment on the Vlieland Island.


Robert de Vries

Paying Homage to Wing Commander Ford, by Robert de Vries

Robert sent me these pictures and this message with them. I think it’s appropriate to share what he wrote about Wing Commander Ford.

Hi Pierre

Hereby my own pictures when I visited the grave of WCmd Ford.

I really kept some moments of silence remembering him, knowing the story, young age, career of WC Ford, all for the liberation of us here.

Click to zoom in


Click to zoom in

On the other side, you can’t see it on the picture, were German graves (Vlieland Island had a big Flak regiment (500 pax) because above the island there was a route for Allied Bombers with destination Hamburg, Berlin …..).

I hope to get some more information about the crash and why L.S. Ford was buried in Vlieland (mailed the local historian).


Robert de Vries

In memory of
Wing Commander
who died on June 4, 1943 

Military Service:

Service Number: J/3712
Age: 22
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 402 City of Winnipeg Squadron
Honours and Awards:  Distinguished Flying Cross

Additional Information:

Son of Dr. Theodore Rupert Ford and Margaret Irene Ford, of Shelburne, Nova Scotia. B.A.

Wing Commander Ford was an ace, he was credited with destroying six enemy aircraft. He was killed when his Spitfire aircraft AA980 was shot down in the sea off Holland.