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…



Still searching who he was…

One of my readers shared this photo a few months ago and we are still searching who he was.

Was he a pilot, a visitor, maybe a war correspondent? The Spitfire is a Spitfire Mk IX.


A feedback from a reader

Could he be Wally Conrad. Conrad was with the 403 in May 1943 and had a mid air collision with his wingman F/S Shouldice on August 17, 1943. Shouldice was killed but Conrad survived and escaped back to the U.K. by October 10, 1943. Conrad may have paid a visit to his old squadron and had this picture taken before being shipped back to Canada.

21 August 1942 – Pilot Officer Mitch Johnston?


Comment by Steve Nickerson

Hi Pierre. Wondering if you were able to identify the last four pilots in the August 1942 403 at Catterick photo. I believe the pilot behind F/O Olmsted and next to Marshall in the second row is Mitch Johnston.

That pilot has a bar on his sleeve which means it would be plausible since he was a Sergeant on August 11 1942…

From the squadron’s ORBs

Tuesday, 11 July, 1942

Weather 6/10ths cloud with the wind at 10 to 15 mph from the NW. At 1200 hours, a scramble was done by Blue Section, P/O Gardiner and F/O Wiejski, over the base and returning in 20 minutes without contact being made. General flying was done by ‘A’ Flight – aerobatics, cine gun, tail chase and formation. Good news for the Squadron, for today commissions were granted to six NCO pilots: F/S G.D. Aitken, F/S H.S. Anderson, Sgt H.J. Murphy, F/S C.R. Olmsted, Sgt M. Johnston and Sgt Monchier, all effective 20 June, 1942. This action will strengthen the Squadron immeasurably and prove a real factor in building up morale. Word was received that the AOC of the Group has recommended that court-martial action be taken against P/O J.E. Gardiner after a review of the Summary of Evidence.

And then a Pilot Officer on August 16…

Sunday, 16 August, 1942

The Squadron took off at 0845 hours for Manston, landing at North Weald owing to bad weather and arriving at Manston at 1400 hours. The second ground party left by train, owing to bad weather at Catterick. The weather was fine at Manston but two a/c overshot on landing (AA736 and AA979). P/O H.S. Anderson broke a shoulder blade and was taken to hospital while P/O M. Johnston was uninjured.


Original photo

BB1 - HR



Colorised by Doug Banks

New version

Pilot Officer Mitch Johnston

Pilot Officer Mitch Johnston?