Lieutenant Lecoq with 438 Squadron – the sequel

Note

I received this comment…

I have a really good photo of J. Claude Hebert from 1972 when he was president of Warnock Hersey International Limited. This is 6″x 4″ head and shoulders. He was, at that time living in Montreal and had 3 sons and daughter.
This is in an album created by my father whilst he was setting up a manufacturing company in the UK at that time. It comes with a brief history of Claude’s life from 1947 to 1972.
I recently rediscovered it during a house clean up but didn’t appreciate the significance at the time i first saw this album as I was 11 years old at the time! I just knew him as a business colleague of my father. The Internet, at times, can be a wonderful place. I really wish I’d been older to know more about his exploits. I would be happy to forward this info on so please feel free to contact me.
Eian. United Kingdom

It was about this post.

ORIGINAL POST

After the war Pierre Lecoq was in the reserve. He became second in command with 438 Squadron serving under Wing Commander Claude Hébert DFC. He was replacing Louis Morrissette.

After the war it became No. 438 City of Montreal (F) Squadron (Reserve) and was equipped with Vampires and Sabres. Reformed as an Air Reserve squadron at CFB Montreal the squadron flew the CSR-123 Otter and eventually the CH-136 Kiowa helicopter.  In 1981 the squadron changed roles, becoming 438 Tactical Helicopter squadron and currently flies the CH-146 Griffon.

More about RCAF 438 Squadron

To be honest, I know nothing about Wing Commander Claude Hébert. But in September 2011 I knew nothing about Wally Dove.

So who is Claude Hébert DFC…?

I found this on the Airforce site.

HEBERT, S/L Rosario Jean Claude (C1469) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.425 Squadron – Award effective 11 April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 21 April 1944 and AFRO 1075/44 dated 19 May 1944.  Born 1914, Magog, Quebec; home there.  Enlisted Trois Rivieres,, Quebec, 2 January 1940.  Trained at No.1 SFTS (graduated 13 July 1940).  No citation other than “…completed…many successful operations against the enemy in which [he has] displayed high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty.”  DHist file 181.009 D.1730 (PAC RG.24 Vol.20607) has recommendation dated 15 December 1943 at which time he had flown 39 sorties (222 hours 25 minutes):

This officer has now completed thirty-nine night sorties on a variety of targets.  He has carried out these attacks with consistent skill and courage.  Squadron Leader Hebert has set an example of skilful pilotage, cool judgement and determination.  This, along with his cheerful confidence, has inspired a high standard of morale in his crew.

 More about 438 during WWII.

Wing Cdr. Claude Hebert, D.F.C., war-time flight commander in the famed “Alouette” bomber squadron, was the first officer commanding of the post-war No. 438.

Gabriel Taschereau who wrote this book said that Claude Hébert was quite a man and a pilot. I don’t think there is a translation of that book.

I will translate some part of it next time.

END OF ORIGINAL POST

Jean-Claude Hébert Jean-Claude Hébert bio

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Chuck Thornton Redux

Post no. 365

A comment from a reader about this post written in 2012…

re:

the group photo at Headoorn, Sept ’43: My Mother discovered this photo of my Father (Chuck Thornton) for the first time in a book entitled “Spitfires” (printed in the 90s) while browsing in a book store. She said that she seldom looked in the History section of the store but that day for no reason she walked straight to it, saw the book, and opened it on page 90 – to see this very photo.

“Le hasard, c’est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.”

About the post…

Small world.

About Chuck or Charles Thornton.

This has to be him in this small picture sent by Peter Lecoq, the son of Pierre Lecoq…

I managed to edit it.

He is next to Pierre Lecoq aka Peter Logan…

He is also in this picture sent a few months ago by Dean Black.

Here is the original picture.

Sometimes we just have to sit and wait for more information to reach us.

Footnote

“Le hasard, c’est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.”

I don’t believe in coincidence.

Angels Eight

Peter Lecoq, Peter Lecoq’s son, sent me this…

Excerpt from “Angels Eight” Normandy Air War Diary by David Clark (Pages 231-233)

The day was uneventful for 416 Squadron who flew an armed recce around 1430 and a patrol around 1900 hours, but there was  action for 403 Squadron.

After taking off at 1615 hours, they broke into two groups of six – red section led by F/O Doug Orr and blue section led by F/L Mac Gordon. F/S Ken Harvey’s aircraft ML248 developed engine trouble so he turned back leaving blue section with five aircraft.

Red section patrolled the western area and blue section patrolled the eastern section of the lodgement area. A half hour after take-off, blue section ran into 15 FW 190s of III./JG 54 heading straight for them about 300 feet below. The German formation was led by Gruppekommandeur Hauptmann Robert Weiss – the same opponent they had battled six days earlier.

Weiss was a baby-faced pilot who had claimed six victories in Normandy and a career total of 106. Flying as the second in command of the group was Leutnant Alfred Gross who had just been promoted to command 8 Staffel of III./JG 54. Just three hours earlier Leutnant Gross had shot down a Spitfire of 229 Squadron bringing his claims in Normandy to four, and his career total to 50. Although half the German pilots had little or no experience, III./JG 54 had more than half a dozen high-scorers, but this day the best of them all, Geschwaderkommodore Hauptmann Hubert Lang, was not with them.

By contrast, the two F/Ls, Mac Gordon and Pete Logan, had distinguished themselves in dive-bombing and attacking ground installations since the beginning of the year, and they both had claimed a couple of damaged aircraft, but they had claimed no kills.

Logan’s real name was Pierre LeCoq. When advised by an intelligence officer that it may be a disadvantage to use that name if he were ever shot down in France he changed his name to Peter Logan. This had happened back in April.

The story of what happened at this encounter with III./JG 54 begins with Pete Logan’s combat report.

“Five aircraft of 403 Squadron led by F/L Gordon were flying a patrol east of Caen at about 2,500 feet when from 12 o’clock and about 300 feet below we saw 12-plus FW 190s flying towards us. They were carrying either bombs or jet tanks and these were
dropped before the ensuing engagement began. We broke up and around and I got on the tail of one and from about 300 yards fired a 2-to-3-second burst with 20° deflection. I saw strikes on the fuselage and wing roots.

The enemy aircraft poured black and white smoke and half-rolled and went straight down from about 2,000 feet. I was unable to follow him as by this time I had four FW 190s on my tail.

“I broke up and then down again getting behind another 190. I fired a 2-to-3 second burst with 15° to 20° deflection and saw some strikes on his starboard wing. When my guns ceased firing I discovered later that my guns had jammed.?”

Here is Gordon’s account of the action:

“We were flying east at a height of 3,000 feet when approximately 15 FW 190s were sighted flying towards us from head-on and around 300 feet below us. We passed each other then broke around. The 190s also broke around and a dogfight ensued. The enemy aircraft were using a defensive circle and it was almost impossible to get anything more than a l-to-2-second bursts at four or five of them but observed no results. The defensive circle formed by the enemy aircraft had now been broken and I managed to get onto the tail of a 190. He was breaking tightly to starboard and I gave him a short burst from 200 yards range giving him full deflection under my nose. No strikes were seen. I closed to about 100 yards and gave him another 2-second burst allowing full deflection. I saw a group of strikes on his tail and the port half of his elevator and stabilizer broke off. He slipped over to port and started to go down apparently out of control and I broke up into another 190 who was attacking me. F /L Logan saw the attack and part of the enemy aircraft blown away. After returning to base we established the vicinity and time of the combat as U.13 72 at 1640 hours. Later in the day the Second Army reported two FW 190s as going down in flames in the same vicinity and at the same time.

“I followed the second 190 who half-rolled onto the deck and headed east. After a long chase I closed to about 200 yards and from line astern J fired but only my machine guns were working. After a short burst they ran out. The 190 began to pour black smoke and he almost went into the deck clipping about 10 feet off a tall tree. However he regained control and continued at a much reduced speed still smoking. As I was out of ammunition I broke off the attack.”

Peter also shared this…

Chuck Thornton

Small world.

About Chuck or Charles Thornton.

This has to be him in this small picture sent by Peter Lecoq, the son of Pierre Lecoq…

I managed to edit it.

He is next to Pierre Lecoq aka Peter Logan…

He is also in this picture sent a few months ago by Dean Black.

Here is the original picture.

Sometimes we just have to sit and wait for more information to reach us.

A Knight of the Air part of a family of soldiers

This is the translation of the article written late in 1944.

It was in a French newspaper most probably in Quebec. The article pays homage to Pierre Lecoq aka Peter Logan.

A Knight of the Air part of a family of soldiers

Captain Pierre Lecoq of Savoyard Origin and a RCAF Hero


The press have talked extensively lately of the exploits of the F.F.I. (French Forces of the Interior). It praised them and they well deserved it.

Today we would like to pay a well-deserved homage to a glorious family of soldiers who traces its roots around Bonneville. Almost all of its members have distinguished themselves from the start of the hostilities, always as volunteers and always posted at the most dangerous places in various Allied air and naval services.

This family is the Lecoq family. The father, who immigrated to Canada, died there ten years ago, from wounds suffered on the Western Front during the First World War. He was buried in Montreal. After the death of the head of the family, his widow, Mrs. Lecoq, came back to her native country and settled in Bonneville with her four younger children, leaving her eldest son Pierre. She actively devotes herself to charitable organizations in Bonneville, assuming in particular, with remarkable zeal, the functions of secretary-general of l’Entr’Aide.

Staying in Canada after his mother left, Pierre Lecoq quickly understood in 1940 that his duty was calling him to the rescue of his homeland for which his father had given his life. He joined as a volunteer the Royal Canadian Air Force at the age of 20. First as a student-pilot, he got noticed by his superiors because of his brilliant intelligence, as well as showing these fine virile qualities of boldness and composure which all true pilots possess. He quickly earned his wings with his behavior, and then he became one of the youngest instructors in the U.S. Air Force. He was entrusted with the difficult task of instructing young student pilots about the theory of aerial warfare.

This lasted until May 1943.

It was at that time that the High Command asked for volunteers for fighting in Europe. Pierre Lecoq took on the challenge and was posted with a RCAF fighter squadron stationed in England. By that time he had been regularly promoted though successive ranks before becoming a captain at the age of 24.

Then came June 1944. Our young captain, always eager to served France, was transferred to one of the most famous squadron, RCAF No. 403 Wolf Squadron.

He then took part in the D-Day operations protecting paratroopers. After he took part in the Normandy campaign harassing German forces in full retreat, and attacking planes of the Luftwaffe.

If he shot down several enemy planes, Pierre Lecoq came very close several times to being killed himself. He managed to survive though his skills and also maybe by a sixth sense that seems to protect some people who are predestinated in life. To illustrate this, two anecdotes are taken from his military career.

Everyone knows that every pilot has a plane allocated to himself which he is used to, and the only pilot flying it. One of Pierre Lecoq’s friend who was also a fighter pilot paid him a visit and asked him to used his plane for a raid. First he refused by telling him: “I can assure you that if you use it, you won’t come back.” The pilot insisted and Pierre Lecoq reluctantly agreed. His friend never came back…

Another time, before a mission, he had the premonition he would not come back. So certain was he that he gave all his belongings to his mechanic with his last instructions. He came back nevertheless, but his plane was all shot up and full of holes and totally wrecked. He never could understand how he had managed to extricate himself from a complete desperate situation. His intuition had fooled him, but it was a close call.

 After the Normandy campaign, under direct orders from High Command, Pierre Lecoq had to get back to England and was posted as an instructor. Highly valued instructors are rarer than fighter pilots and their role, while more thankless, nevertheless contributes with a higher degree of efficiency to the final victory.

Pierre Lecoq participated nevertheless while being an instructor for pilots defending against V-1 rockets.

 

Finally let us say that he received several medals.

Now, having said all this about a great pilot, let us say a few words about other members of his family.

His two brothers, Jean and Yvon, who are well known by everyone living in Bonneville, want to follow on their brother’s foot steps. While waiting to join the Canadian Armed Forces, they are presently working at the Canadian embassy in Paris.

Their mother, Mrs. Lecoq, has also relatives fighting for the same common cause: naval officer Georges Lecoq, her brother-in-law, volunteered in the U.S. Navy during WWI, and again volunteered since 1941, fighting with the naval forces fighting the Japanese in the Pacific; pilot officer André Glorieux, her nephew, is now a member of a bomber squadron in England; naval offier André Ligot, her cousin, volunteered since June 1940 with General de Gaule’s naval forces. He is currently on a corvette and is posted in England. Another of her nephews, Raymond Glorieux, 27 years-old, was shot down and died on the first raid on Cologne. His bomber was shot down in combat and he is buried in Cologne.

At  a time when France is slowly ending its nightmare and erasing the last traces of a servitude that some people so docilely accepted, it seemed fitting to cite the fine example of a family whose all members gave the signal of this moral recovery that allowed France to reawaken at take its rightful place in the world.

I Love This Blog

I am not the one who said this.

Peter Lecoq’s daughter wrote it in her comment two weeks ago.

I loved this blog. I am the daughter of Pierre Lecoq (Peter Logan). I have such wonderful memories of my trip to Kenley in 1966 where Dad was based. He loved to fly and I went flying with him many times as a child. I would enjoy any and all information about him.

Well, Marianne probably talked about the blog to her brother Peter because he sent me last week all that he could find on his hard disk.

Some pictures are exclusive because we have very few pictures about RCAF No.130 Squadron.

This is what I found on the Internet about that squadron.

To paraphrase Peter Lecoq…

Enjoy!

RCAF Station Bagotville

At the height of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) selected a relatively level farming area at the head of navigable waters in the Saguenay Fjord to be the site of several aerodromes during 1941. This area was considered useful for RCAF purposes, given the amount of cleared land in the region, its relative geographic isolation and proximity to the deepwater port of Port-Alfred, as well as access to the adjacent railway network. Construction began that summer and continued through the winter and following spring on RCAF Station St-Honoré near Chicoutimi and RCAF Station Bagotville in La Baie.

The base at St-Honoré opened in June 1942, followed by Bagotville on 17 July 1942; St-Honoré being operated as a sub-base to Bagotville. RCAF Station Bagotville hosted the 1 Operational Training Unit (1 OTU) which trained pilots from commonwealth nations under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), as well as the 130 Panthère Squadron, which was an operational RCAF air defence unit intended to protect the massive Alcan aluminum smelter in nearby Arvida (one of the largest industrial facilities in Canada at the time), and associated hydro-electric facilities in the Saguenay region. During 1942 Quebec‘s coastal regions along the lower St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence were witnessing the Battle of the St. Lawrence as German U-boats were sinking Canadian shipping throughout the area. RCAF Station Bagotville was established, along with RCAF Station Mont-Joli to counter the U-boat menace to Canada’s war effort and placate local fears.

425 Squadron CF-18A Hornet currently based at Bagotville

Early training aircraft operating from RCAF Station Bagotville included Curtiss Kittyhawk, Westland Lysander, North American Harvard and Hawker Hurricane. The 130 Squadron, which was deployed at the base to provide regional air defence to key industrial facilities, used the motto “Défendez le Saguenay”, which was later adopted by the entire base. On 1 August 1942 the 12 Radar Detachment was deployed to provide air traffic control. On 24 October 1943 the 129 Squadron took over from 130 Squadron as the regional air defence unit; 2 months later in December the 129 Squadron was redeployed from Saguenay and the 1 OTU was retasked with regional air defence duties.

Toward the end of the war, RCAF Station Bagotville began to decline in activity as the requirement for BCATP training decreased. On 28 October 1944 the 1 OTU ceased operations, followed by the 12 Radar Detachment. In 29 pilot training courses given by 1 OTU at RCAF Station Bagotville (and St-Honoré), 940 pilots successfully graduated and 41 were killed during training.

In November 1944 1 OTU was disbanded and the closure of RCAF Station Bagotville and its secondary facilities at RCAF Station St-Honoré was announced; they were officially closed and mothballed on 5 January 1945.

Source

As a footnote to this… Walter Neil Dove was also stationed at Bagotville.

The proof is in his logbook.

Walter who?

You have not been reading this blog…?