There is little doubt that so far as Aurel was concerned flying the Spitfire was a dream come true.

As he puts it, “the sheer enjoyment of flying such a plane was incredible”.

Many 403 pilots flew this particular Spitfire.

From the book “The Manston Spitfire” by Lewis Deal
Published 1981  ISBN 0 948305 01 0

To learn more click here.

Most of the names appear in Walter Neil Dove’s photo album and on this logbook page.

No 403 Squadron (RCAF) Wolf Squadron Squadron Code KH-Z

Flight Sergeant Robert E Barbour

Flying Officer David Leslie

Flight Lieutenant James D Lindsay (DFC)

Flight Lieutenant R A Morrison

Flight Lieutenant C Leslie Rispler

Flying Officer Aurel A Roy

Flying Officer Robert C Shannon

Flying Officer Arthur Van R Sainsbury

Flying Officer Frederick W Town

Flying Officer Robert Young

Squadron Leader Henry P M Zary (DFC)

You will find these pictures on the site.


Rispler and Amigo

This is the 100th article on this blog that started in September 2011.

As I like to say, Greg scans like hell and I write a lot about what he sends.

But something amazing happened last week.

Dean Black found this blog.

Who is Dean Black? Well you will have to read last week’s articles.

Dean has not told me yet how he stumbled upon this blog, but that’s not important because he is sharing this picture with us this morning.

Collection Dean Black

Amigo is on the left. Les Rispler is on the right.

We know a lot about Aurel “Amigo” Roy thanks to Dean.

Last week Amigo was just a caption in Walter Neil Dove’s photo album.

The caption was beside a missing picture.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Now we know a lot about Aurel “Amigo” Roy, but what about Les Rispler?

I got curious…

Click here…

This is what they found about him.

Traced as a result of attending the Wartime Aircrew Reunion in Winnipeg, Canada some 3 years ago and, as a result, his name appeared on the back of a menu as a 1403 representative. Later traced to Calgary, Canada. Leslie knew David Leslie well when in Germany with 403 Squadron.

Leslie was born in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada and completed High School in Medicine Nat, Alberta. He joined the RCAF on 1st May 1940. Initially he served as ground crew but was re-mustered to aircrew on 7th December 1941 (Pearl Harbour Day) when stationed at Uplands, Ontario. Service Flying Training was undertaken on Harvard trainers and Leslie obtained his wings at Camp Borden, Ontario in September 1942. He then instructed on Tiger Moth trainers at Elementary Flying Schools at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and Virden, Manitoba.

He arrived in England in March 1944 and was stationed at Ternhill, Shropshire, Advanced Flying Unit and at Kirton-in-Lindsey Operations Training Unit. Leslie joined 403 Squadron at Eindhoven, Holland, in March 1945 and returned with the squadron to England in the July. After returning to Canada he attended the University of Alberta and graduated with a BSc in Chemical Engineering.

Leslie has been employed in the oil and gas industry in exploration and production operations. For the past 28 years he has been with the Hudson’s Bay Oil & Gas Company Ltd with headquarters in Calgary, Alberta where he held the position of Manager, Technical Services. (The more observant will have noted that 403 Squadron was adopted by the City of Calgary). His daughter Sheila visited Manston in September 1980 and saw her father’s aircraft for herself.

This blog is all about sharing.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Lest we forget.

As a footnote…

Amigo also flew TB752.

Click here. 

Great reading as we learn more about Amigo.


Aurel was born in Warren, Ontario, Canada, a village which had a population of 600 in the year he was born (1920). Warren is 35 miles east of Sudbury, which is more widely known as the nickel mining centre of the world.

He started his education at Separate School in Warren and then went to Bourget College, Rigaud, Quebec. Aurel tried to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939 and from that date until he actually joined up (8th May 1941) he was employed by International Nickel.

After joining the RCAF, he was posted to Windsor, Ontario, E.F.T.S. where he earned to fly on Fleet Finches. He was then transferred to Uplands (No 2 SFTS) near Ottawa where he underwent further training on Harvards. Aurel attained his ‘Wings’ in May 1942 and was then posted to Brantford, Ontario (No 4 Wireless School) where he trained W.A.G.S. on Tiger Moths, Yales and Norsemen until July 1944.

He was then transferred to No 5 S.F.T.S. on a refresher course to fly twin engined aircraft: he trained on Avro Ansons although he really wanted to fly Mosquitoes! During May 1944 he embarked for England on the ‘Ile de France’ and finally arrived at No 5 RAF Advanced Flying Unit, Newton, Shropshire, in the June where he was flying Masters and then Hurricanes. Then on to No 53 OTU on the 19th December where he again flew Masters but also Spitfires. After a short period at No 83 G.S.U. Aurel was posted to 403 RCAF Squadron on the 12th April 1945 flying Spitfires XVIs in Germany. He also did one ferry trip to Eindhoven, Holland. Aurel flew TB 752 during this period.

Aurel stayed in Germany until August that year and then returned to England. By then 403 Squadron had been disbanded and he was transferred to 421 “Red Indian” Squadron. He ended up at Bournemouth and later at Torquay. He sailed from Liver-pool to return to Canada. Aurel now runs a store, gas “bar” and restaurant which keeps him very much involved.

There is little doubt that so far as Aurel was concerned flying the Spitfire was a dream come true. As he puts it, “the sheer enjoyment of flying such a plane was incredible”. Aurel also marvelled at the manner in which the British people stood up to all the bombing and also went without so many things that were taken for granted in America. He was in London during the onslaught of the “buzz-bombs” (V.1s) and the “rockets” (V.2s) and describes as unbelievable the destruction caused by such weapons.

Aurel recalls that in Germany his unit was stationed quite close to the Belsen Concentration Camp which he described as “the most inhuman, incomprehensible sight ever” and that “no words can describe such a holocaust”.

Unfortunately all the photographs that Aurel has of his wartime service were destroyed in a fire at his father’s house in 1949.

“Unfortunately all the photographs that Aurel has of his wartime service were destroyed in a fire at his father’s house in 1949.”

I am sure Walter Dove, Greg’s grandfather, gave the missing picture to Amigo…


This is the list of the pilots of 403 Squadron found in the logbook.

One thing that might not get noticed with the names highlighted is that Hank Zary survived the war contrary to Hank Byrd, Mac Reeves and Grant Aitcheson.

Hank Zary was a squadron leader and Walter Neil Dove called him the Chief…

The Chief died in 1946.

Hank Zary died of pleurisy on 11 February 1946 at the Royal Edward Laurentian Hospital (Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts division) where they specialized in treating tuberculosis & other chest problems.

Click here. 

Walter Neil Dove thus added this information after the war. Like so many war veterans Greg’s grandfather kept in touch with his comrades.

I wonder how the other pilots used to call affectionately Walter Neil Dove. 

Gil and Bob Young… and Les Rispler

Here is Gil Gillis with someone else…

Walter Neil Dove collection


He is in this picture of a captured Me-108.

We know what a Me-108 is, but who is Bob Young?

Click here…

Flying Officer Robert Young


Bob was born on the 17th May 1918 in Peterborough, Ontario and attended the Prince of Wales School initially and later the Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School. As he admits he was a very poor student and hated all the years he attended school. He tried hard to get into the RAF before the war broke out but they were not at that time taking anyone unless they had previous flying experience.

The RAF may have done Bob a good turn as they advised him to apply for admission to the RCAF, which he did immediately. Then followed one of the most frustrating periods of his life and as Bob states “one would not realise there was a war in progress! I just sat around day after day it seemed forever waiting until the 11th May 1940 when they finally called me. I used to say that if that is a sample of their preparations, we’ll lose for sure.”

It hasn’t been possible to establish details of all Bob’s wartime service but he clearly recalls the action on the 1st May 1945 when he shot down a long-nosed FW 190 with TB 752 (Code KH-Z).

A section from 403 Squadron was patrolling the Lavenburg Bridgehead when they came across a “gaggle” of Fw 190s. In the resultant dogfight Bob destroyed one for certain and also claimed 2 probables and no less than 6 damaged. At one time during the dog fight Bob was not very pleased to see another aircraft hanging on his tail. But one can only imagine his relief when Les Rispler advised Bob that it was him. As Bob states he was “perspiring freely”.

Although Bob seemed to suffer with mechanical faults on other aircraft, the only trouble he had with a Spitfire was the day he had a full 90 gallon belly tank which he forgot about when landing and which caused the port wheel to collapse which he regards as highly inexcusable flying.

Bob does, however, appear to have had more than his fair share of malfunctions when flying other aircraft. In August 1940 he was flying a Fleet bi-plane at E.F.T. and had to make a forced landing when a valve went through a cylinder head. On the 26th November that year he was flying a Northrop Nomad when the weather closed in and he was forced to land near Brantford. When flying a Hurricane near Ternhill in Scotland Bob also had to land hurriedly when the oil pressure gauge registered zero. Again, when flying from Ternhill in another Hurricane the port tyre blew

In Canada Bob was flying a Lysander in Alberta when the cockpit suddenly filled with smoke. There followed a loud metallic “bang”. He managed to land in a field next to the runway and when the smoke cleared away he saw that there was no propeller on the aircraft. This was returned by a farmer several months later. Apparently the lock washer had come off the propeller and had fallen into the reduction gears and which had led to the shaft being severed.

After the conclusion of the war Bob worked for Trent University in Peterborough and also for several years in the Post Office. He later worked for Unemployment Insurance in Post Office Building.

Well now we know.

And now everyone knows more…

And what about Les Rispler…?