In Memoriam: Dennis William Patrick Connolly 1918-2013

I got this comment this afternoon.

Hello ,

My name is Patrick Daunais.

I was a good friend of Dennis Connolly. He was in the Ste-Anne Veterans Hospital and sadly passed away April 24th, 2013.

He will be missed by all his family, friends .

He was a great man to know and it was an honnor to have been able to call him my friend.

Dennis William Patrick Connolly deserves all the respect and the admiration for he gave all for his country.

500 hours on a Spitfire… Participated in the Dieppe Raid… Back in Canada as a flight instructor to train pilots at Bagotville with 130 Squadron…

His recollections are here on this siteI found him in a book about 91 Squadron written by Peter Hall.

I paid him a visit in 2012.

 

I wanted to go back and see him once more. I would have like to show him the movie I made about him on You Tube.

Never had the chance.

Comment I received from his daughter…

Thank you so much for your tribute for Dennis Connolly.    I am Dennis’ youngest daughter; he had his 95th birthday on April 22 and he passed away on the morning of April 25.  He was an amazing fighter and only succumbed after enduring an operation after a fractured hip approximately a week before.  He leaves behind, Lilian, his wife of 71 years, 4 children (and one who passed on before him), 13 grandchildren, and 13 great grand children – a legacy to be sure.  We are all proud of our hero and will cherish our memories.  

A funeral mass will be held for Dennis in Hudson on Tuesday, April 30 (2:00 p.m.) at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Hudson, Quebec to be followed by a reception for family and friends at the Royal Canadian Legion Hudson Branch.

Dennis William Patrick Connolly a humble man and a true hero.

Advertisements

Summer of 43

In August 1943 Wally Dove continued his operational training with #1 O.T.U based at Bagotville, Quebec.

Even if he was with B Flight, Wally Dove certainly met O. C. Dennis Connolly who was Officer Commanding of A Flight.

collection Walter Neil Dove

August 1943…

Interesting to see on this logbook page how hitting the target was somewhat difficult.

2 hits – 600 rounds

collection Walter Neil Dove

Here is a picture of Harvards and Hurricanes sitting on the tarmac at Bagotville in the summer of 1943.

collection Walter Neil Dove

This is Hurricane 51 flying over Bagotville…

collection Walter Neil Dove

Here is a picture of Harvard FE628 in flight.

collection Walter Neil Dove

Wally finished his operational training on August 25, 1943.

Aug 25 – Hurricane 71 – Self –  Solo – Squadron Balboa – Dusk Landing – 1:30 Lovely Sight – Air Smooth…

collection Walter Neil Dove

It seems like Wally is trying to talk to us about his posting at Bagotville, so please take the time to read all the pages.

On September 14, Walter Neil Dove was a passenger aboard a Douglas Digby that took him from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to Torbay, Newfoudland.

DND Photograph

Walter Neil Dove was joining RCAF No. 128 Squadron, a little known RCAF squadron.

Little known? That was before his grandson shared with us his grandfather’s photo album and logbook, and Wally Dove started recollecting about the war in September 14, 2011.

To learn more about another little known RCAF Squadron, RCAF No. 135 Squadron, click here.

As a footnote to all this Bagotville story, this is a picture I took of the media display last June.

I think I see Dennis Connolly on this picture.

But then I might be wrong…

Dennis Connolly left RCAF No. 130 for RCAF No. 163 Squadron Sea Island on November 16, 1943.

Later  on he joined RCAF No. 135 Squadron at Patricia Bay!

The pilots of 135 Squadron stand before a Kittyhawk
sometime between May 1944 and the end of the war. 

I think I see Dennis Connolly again on this picture.

But I might be wrong… I will have to show him this picture.

Commenced # 1 O.T.U. Flying Bagotville Course 14 P.Q.

Wally Dove commenced his operational training at # 1 O.T.U. Bagotville.

June 29, 1943.

collection Walter Neil Dove

Small world!

Dennis Connolly was there since February 4th 1943. Greg scanned all the logbook pages related to his grandfather’s posting at Bagotville.

Did Dennis Connolly and Walter Neil Dove meet?

Most probably.

Dennis Connolly was O.C. (Officer in Charge) of A Flight. Wally Dove was a pilot with B Flight.

Next time, I will post all the pages Greg scanned with… pictures!

collection Walter Neil Dove

collection Walter Neil Dove

RCAF No. 411 Squadron

Dennis Connolly was transfered to 411 Squadron after his posting with Treble Two, 222 Squadron.

I know nothing about that squadron just like I did not know anything about 403 Squadron before I met Greg in September 2011. I have come a long way since then as many of my readers.

Brian Davidson wrote me an e-mail asking me how was my visit with Dennis Connolly…

Memorable!

I sent him links to three of the articles I wrote about Dennis Connolly.

I also told him that I just can’t wait to visit Mr. Connolly again and go through his precious logbook and ask him more questions about this anecdote.

Last time he talked about an ASR mission (Air-Sea Rescue). He was with 91 Squadron.

We seek alone…

He found a downed airman in the Channel and the rescue planes looking for him flew over the spot without noticing him.

He had to “advise” them by shooting a few rounds in front of the rescue planes to get their attention.

Dennis Connolly recounts on this site the kind of missions he flew with 91 Squadron.

Excerpt

Also, we did the air-sea rescue work, which meant that when we lost somebody in the [English] Channel, they had air-sea rescue ready to go out and drop dinghies for them and send out high-speed launches to pick them up, if possible. And we would spot the people who were down for them and leave them. Then they’d pick them up and bring them in. Now, that was one of our duties.

I also want to talk about the Dieppe raid…

[The] Dieppe [Raid, August 19, 1942], yeah, which was just a few minutes. So we had time to refuel and re-arm and then away we went. That particular day, I can remember, we had breakfast before it was daylight and we took off just before daylight and we came back and forth, refueled and re-armed and we were ready to have a lunch but then we were scrambled again, we didn’t have lunch. And we went on until after dark. But it was a real tiring day, that one.

And his posting at Bagotville… where Dennis and his wife Lillian stayed with a French-Canadian family.

The [British Commonwealth Air] Training Plan that Canada had, they did a very great job of training pilots and a large number. But we had no one who had fighter experience. So our group went over[seas] and we spent a couple of years and then they brought us back to instruct in [Royal Canadian Air Force Station] Bagotville [in La Baie, Quebec], with the knowledge that we had, the present knowledge that we had from our operations and we were able to pass that on and make it part of the training course and so on. So that was one of the reasons why we were brought back.

As a footnote to all this before I forget… Dennis Connolly knew the “real” Johnnie Johnson!

God Was His Wingman

Dennis Connolly was coming from a strafing mission on railway yards in the Paris area. He had no ammunition left and was coming back to his base.

This mission is most probably in his logbook. I don’t know if he was with 91, 222 or 411 Squadron.

As Dennis Connolly was in sight of the England coast he noticed 5 FW-190s closing in!

Source

He knew he was a sitting duck.

To his surprise, one after the other decided they would toy with him like five cats preying over a lonely defenseless mouse.

But Dennis Connolly was an experienced pilot and he managed to evade every attempt to shoot him down. The Spitfire he was flying was a great airplane but the FW-190 was a formidable foe.

After all this cat and mouse game, the FWs decided the fun was over and went in for the kill and attacked in force just when…

Some unknown force intervened.

Two Spitfires appeared out of nowhere and the FWs quickly turned away.

Usually veterans will rarely tell such anecdotes fearing that people would not believe them. They prefer not to tell and keep it to themselves.

Luckily for us, Dennis Connolly’s wife Lillian was there and had him recount this anecdote and another one about 91 Squadron…

It’s all about this…

We Seek Alone.

I hope I remember all the details.

Out of Ammunition and Chased by 5 FW-190!

That’s one anecdote Dennis Connolly told me when Lillian asked him to recount what had happened during a mission in the Paris area.

I did not want to talk about the war per se with Dennis Connolly. Most veterans I meet will talk more about their comrades-in-arms than the war like his Squadron Leader Jean Demozay for whom he had only praise for.

We did not have enough time to talk at length about his military career and go over his logbook.

My visit was more a pretext to give him all the pictures I could find on the Internet about the squadrons he flew with… RAF 91, RAF 222, RCAF 130… He told me that he also flew with RCAF 411 and RCAF 163!

Since I did not want to extend my visit too much after two hours, I used this as a pretext to come and visit him again with Brian Davidson who had arranged the first visit.

So what’s this about Out of Ammunition and Chased by 5 FW-190!

Source

I will tell you next time.

I hope you don’t think I am toying with you…

You’ll see what I mean.

One more for Doug Orr

A reader sent me this picture.

It was destined to end up in a dump.

Ken saved it for all to see.

I got more to write about after my two-hour visit with Flight Lieutenant Dennis Connolly my new found Spitfire pilot.

I found out he was posted with 411 Squadron after his posting with Treble Two what they called 222 Squadron. After 411, he was sent to No. 1 O.T.U. in Bagotville. After Bagotville, he was sent to RCAF No. 163 Squadron at Sea Island and ended up at Patricia Bay.

NO. 163 SQUADRON

Formed as an Army Co-operation unit at Sea Island, British Columbia on March 1, 1943. The squadron flew Bolingbroke aircraft on West Coast photographic work and Harvard aircraft in close air support training for Canadian Troops at Wainwright, Alberta. Converted to Hurricane aircraft in June 1943, and redesignated Fighter squadron on October 14, the unit re-equipped with Kittyhawk aircraft and was employed on West Coast air defence until disbanded at Patricia Bay, British Columbia on March 15, 1944.

Everything is in his precious logbook.

For more on Doug Orr, click here.