Historical Aircraft

January 1942


Thursday, 1 January, 1942

Weather again overcast and misty.  Unfit for flying.  In the afternoon, a Baseball Match was played between ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights (Pilots only).  ‘B’ Flight emerged victorious by 5 runs to 1.  The particulars given regarding the strength of the Squadron on 31.12.41. remain the same for today, 1.1.42.

Friday, 2 January, 1942

Weather again dull and foggy, no flying.  In the morning, the pilots played the ground personnel at baseball.  The pilots won by 18 runs to 15.  Later, the pilots were given drill instruction by F/L Gibbons, Station Ground Defence Officer.  Some clay pigeon shooting was done during the afternoon.

Saturday, 3 January, 1942

Weather, another dull day and mist.  Rain in the afternoon.  Compass swinging and Link Trainer visited in the morning.  In the afternoon, the pilots and the majority of the ground personnel were released to attend the Soccer, Rugger and Hockey matches between the Station and Hornchurch for the AOC’s Challenge Cup.  North Weald won the cup.  No flying during the day.

Sunday, 4 January, 1942

Weather dull and misty in the morning, clearing later.  No flying during the day.

Monday, 5 January, 1942

Weather cloudy and misty, with some rain and sleet.  General practice flying and Sector Reconnaissance flying; also camera gun practice.

Tuesday, 6 January, 1942

Weather cloudy, some fine periods with fog late in the day.  Squadron formation flying was carried out during the morning.  During the afternoon, the Squadron accompanied the Wing on a Channel Sweep that was entirely uneventful.  Sgt D.C. Campbell from 64 Squadron, Hornchurch, and Sgt J.L. Mitchell from 602 Squadron, Henley, posted to the Squadron wef 6.1.42.

Wednesday, 7 January, 1942

Weather cloudy and foggy all day.  No flying.  Baseball game played against 121 Squadron in the afternoon.  403 Squadron won.

Thursday, 8 January, 1942

Weather cloudy, fair periods with showers.  No flying.  Sgts Walker, Argue, Mitchell and Olmsted, and P/O Hurst visited the Link Trainer.  P/O McPharlin posted to RAF Station North Weald, non-effective sick wef 8.1.42.

Friday, 9 January, 1942

Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud early morning becoming 3/10ths at 5,000 in the afternoon.  Air firing carried out by the Squadron and local flying practice.  No operational flying was done today.  Sgt Pilot J.L. Mitchell posted to 411 Squadron, Hornchurch wef 8.1.42.

Saturday, 10 January, 1942

Weather cloudy until dusk, then slight showers with snow later.  Visibility 2 to 6 miles.  The Squadron carried out routine flying.  Air firing to Martlesham, cine-gun, sector reconnaissance, aircraft test and dusk landings.

Sunday, 11 January, 1942

Weather fair to fine; mist persisting until 1700 hours then fog.  Vis 1 to 4 miles until dusk.  The Squadron again carried out cine-gun exercises, commencing at 0930 hours until 1705 hours.   Sgt Crawford went on a GCS Co-op from 1400-1500 hours.  Three sections carried out Squadron formation flying, while Sgts Campbell and Beurling did some cross country in the Magister to Hornchurch.

Monday, 12 January, 1942

Weather fair to fine until 2100 hours then cloudy.  Fog and frost all day.  Vis poor at first, improving until noon then falling again.  The new Squadron Leader, C.N.S. Campbell, arrives to assume command of 403 Squadron.  He was posted to us from 72 Squadron and, from all reports, he will be a great asset to the Squadron, a steady leader and fine example for ambitious pilots.  He succeeds S/L A.C. Douglas, who was held in high esteem by the Squadron.  S/L Douglas leaves to take-up his duties with RAF Station North Weald, wef 12.1.42; our best wishes go with him.

Tuesday, 13 January, 1942

Weather poor, improving in the afternoon and closing in again in the evening.  No flying this morning.  Four sections of two a/c each carried out cine-gun practice from 1535 hours to 1555 hours.  One section of two a/c each carried out formation flying.  Sgt Somers did some cloud flying.

Wednesday, 14 January, 1942

Weather overcast, cloudy in the morning and fine in the afternoon and evening.  The Squadron was fairly active today.  Beginning at 0950 hours to 1640 hours, five sections of two a/c each carried out camera gun and formation flying.  Sgt Somers did a/c and cannon tests, Sgt Rainville did aerobatics and local flying.

Thursday, 15 January, 1942

Weather cold and fine most of the day, becoming cloudy later.  Vis poor in fog and mist day and night.  Due to weather no flying activity in the Squadron this morning.  At 1415 hours, F/L Wood went up for a weather test.  S/L Campbell did a cannon gun test and two sections (Red and Yellow) each did formation and cine-gun practice.  Sgt Collinson posted to Bradwell Bay.

Friday, 16 January, 1942

Weather cold and overcast most of the day with poor Vis. Weather conditions rather sticky.  At 1115 hours P/O Dick carried out a weather test.  Later, two sections (Blue and Green), each of two a/c, took off on convoy patrol, returning to base at 1400 hours.  Nothing of interest to report.

Saturday, 17 January, 1942

Weather fine, vis 4,000 feet, with the wind from the NE.  F/L Walker carried out a weather test at 0915 hours.  Squadron formation and cine-gun practice was the order of the day, most of the pilots participating.  At 1200 hours, Sgt Monserez and Sgt Campbell in Red Section, took off to do cine-gun and formation flying.  During the exercise and just before they were about to land, Sgt Monserez appeared to be having some difficulty with the undercarriage on the aircraft.  After several attempts, by doing aerobatics, to drop the undercarriage, Sgt Monserez manoeuvred his plane and began gaining height.  He was next seen to come through cloud formation in a spin and crashed into the woods opposite the Officers Mess at 1310 hours.  F/L Wood flew over the vicinity where the a/c appeared to crash and, after thirty minutes, he sighted the plane.  With the assistance of F/L Wood, the ambulance with F/L (Dr) Riddell and other officers, was successfully guided to the scene of the accident.  Sgt Monserez was found dead and the a/c damaged beyond repair.  The boys felt keenly the loss of one of their colleagues but with that grim determination to ‘carry on’ finished the days activities with cloud and local flying.

Owing to his excellent work in operational flying, his leadership and his outstanding sea rescue work, S/L Campbell has been awarded the DFC.  ‘Whoopie’ Our first DFC in the Squadron.  Congratulations Sir, let’s add the bar to it while in 403 Squadron.  Best wishes.

Sunday, 18 January, 1942

Weather fair, vis 1,000 yards, wind ESE 15 mph.  No flying today due to weather.  Talks to pilots and games.  The Squadron was released at 1750 hours.

Monday, 19 January, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cloud at 500 feet, vis 500 yards with wind SE at 15 mph.  No improvement in the weather, planes were grounded.  The pilots examined their equipment and parachutes were adjusted and repaired.  At 1300 hours, the Squadron was released on 4-hours notice.

Tuesday, 20 January, 1942

Weather 10/10ths at 2,000 feet, vis 2,000 yards.  Wind ESE at 10 mph.  S/L Campbell went to Martlesham to do air to air firing, but returned due to faulty R/T.  Blue, Green, Yellow, Red and Black Sections flew to Martlesham for air to air firing.  Sgts Crist and Ryckman went to Debden to collect new Spitfires, returning at 1230 hours.  All a/c returned from Martlesham except ‘M’ turned back on account of pressure.  Aircraft landed at North Weald at 1650 hours.

Wednesday, 21 January, 1942

Weather 8/10ths at 2,000 feet vis 2,000 yards.  Wind ESE at 10 mph.  This morning, the Squadron attended the funeral of Sgt Monserez.  The service was held in the RC Chapel, RAF Station, North Weald.  After the service, the cortege moved at slow march from the Chapel to beyond the Station entrance, travelling by bus and motor cars to the churchyard in North Weald where the remains were laid to rest.  There was a short service at the graveside, followed by the Airforce honours to the dead.  Father S/L McNeil officiated at both services.

P/O Gillespie carried out a weather test at 1330 hours.  P/Os Dick and Magwood and Sgt Somers took off at 1440 hours on a pinpointing exercise to great Dunnow, Halstead, Bellerires, Fyfield, Stapleford and Towney landing at 1540.  Red and Yellow sections ordered to scramble on interception of e/a at 1505 hours L.A.B. 1615.  No e/a were sighted.  Square search carried out, and two Wellington aircraft were sighted.

Thursday, 22 January, 1942

Weather 3/10ths to 6/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet.  Vis 4,000 yards with the wind from the ESE at 10 mph.  Three sections, Red, Yellow and Blue of four a/c each, TOB 0850 hours for Martlesham to carry out operations for QO.  Landed at 1745 hours.  Only ten a/c returned, two remaining due to engine trouble.  F/L Walker and P/O Gillespie, together with P/O Parr and Sgt Belcher scrambled on QO, airborne at 1620 hours, landing at 1700 hours.  Nothing was sighted.  Three new Sgt Pilots, Oliver, Cromwell, and O’Neil were posted to the Squadron from 53 OTU Llandow.

Friday, 23 January, 1942

Weather overcast, snowing in the morning, changing to rain in the afternoon.  The Squadron was released for the day, off station at 1140 hours.  Previous to this, S/L Campbell gave a talk to the pilots on air tactics, Squadron formation etc followed by a discussion.  Officers were then fitted with gas masks.  The adjutant, F/O Carlysle, visited Hornchurch.  F/O Lodge took pay parade for the airmen.  There was a lecture in Drury Lane at 1800 hours given by W/C Ashton on the German Air Force.  This was very enlightening and well received.

Saturday, 24 January, 1942

Weather bright and clear in the morning, becoming cloudy with rain in the afternoon.  Vis 3-6 miles.  Two sections, Red and Blue of four a/c each did cine-gun and follow the leader.  P/O Hurst did pinpointing, Hitchen, Bunting, Ford, Great Dunnow, Royston.  P/O Gillespie and P/O Parr to Southend in the Moth.  P/O D.S. Aitken posted to us from 501 Squadron.

Sunday, 25 January, 1942

Weather mostly fair becoming cloudy later in the day.  Vis 4-8 miles.  The Squadron was on convoy patrol off Barrow Deep from 0815 hrs until 1345 hrs.  During the afternoon, the pilots carried out aircraft tests, formation practice, circle and bumps and dog fighting.  F/L Walker, P/O Gillespie, P/O Parr and Sgt Ryckman went to Hunsdon for dusk landings and night circuits and landings.  Duties carried out.  The Squadron had a very active day including church parade to the Church of England, with P/O Gillespie in charge.

Monday, 26 January, 1942

Weather fair with ground mist and occasional scattered showers of rain or snow.  Vis good and wind gusty, with a gale warning at 1030 hours of the east coast.  F/L Walker and P/O Parr returned to North Weald from Hunsdon.  The Squadron participated in air to ground firing at Dinghy Flats.  P/O Zoochkan, P/O Magwood, Sgts Belcher, Hubbard, Campbell, Argue and Beurling went on local pinpointing exercise.

Tuesday, 27 January, 1942

The pilots carried out section and Squadron formation flying.  Sgt O’Neil went on a sector reconnaissance.  P/O Parr, P/O Hurst, Sgt Ryckman and Sgt Olmsted went on convoy patrol.  Due to the weather, they were given homing to Southend.  S/L Hammond, S/L Jones and F/L Spires from RCAF Headquarters visited the Squadron for an Inspection as to the general welfare and accommodation of personnel.  S/L Campbell appeared on behalf of F/S Jefferies at Blake Hill in regard to his attitude towards a sentry while on duty.  F/S Jefferies was given a serve reprimand.

Wednesday, 28 January, 1942

Weather fair becoming overcast with ground haze.  Vis 4 to 8 miles.  The Squadron took part in convoy patrols off Barrow Deep, patrolling from 0820 hours to 1620 hours.  At 1100 hours, S/L Campbell, Sgts Schmitz, Somers, and Crawford took off on a patrol for enemy reconnaissance.  Nothing to report.  F/L Walker and Sgt Beurling took off on a scramble but were recalled.  S/L Campbell, F/L Walker, Sgts Munn, Somers, Hubbard and Campbell went to Hunsdon for night flying.  ENSA show for the troops was attended and apparently enjoyed by all.  The Squadron was complimented by G/C Pain on their fine show during night flying.

Thursday, 29 January, 1942

Weather misty, poor visibility with rain and sleet in the afternoon.  The Squadron took part in mock air raid and gas attack in the morning.  During the afternoon, the pilots went to the cinema room to view films of their results of firing practice.  Pilots returned from Hunsdon, leaving a/c on account of weather.  P/O Zoochkan, Sgts Ryckman, Olmsted and Argue went to Hunsdon to return with the a/c when weather permits.

Friday, 30 January, 1942

Weather closed in the morning, snow and rain in the afternoon.  F/S Rainville instructed F/S Campbell on how to swing a compass.  P/O Magwood, F/S Somers, Sgts Schmitz, Beurling, Walker, O’Neil went to the Link Trainer.

Saturday, 31 January, 1942

Weather cloudy with occasional wintry showers.  Squadron on readiness.  Sgts Zoochkan, Ryckman, Olmsted and Argue returned from Hunsdon,  L.A.B. 1230 PM.  Sgt Hubbard, Campbell, Beurling, Crawford, and Argue left for Hunsdon for night flying.  No activity due to weather.

RCAF Officers – Air crew – 9
RCAF Officers – Ground crew 4
RCAF Airmen – Air crew – 17
RCAF Airmen – Ground crew – 142
RAF Officers – Air crew – 2
RAF Officers – Ground crew – 1
RAF Airmen – Ground crew – 110

Operational flying time     115 hours
Training flying time    – 256 hours
Patrols carried out     – 89

Aircraft on strength Spitfires 18, Magister 1, Tiger Moth 1.