Historical Aircraft

July 1942


Wednesday, 1 July, 1942

The weather was fine and warm, with a slight haze that cleared by mid-morning.  F/O Rushworth joined the Squadron temporarily for Intelligence duties in the absence of F/O T.S. MacKay.  Two Harrows took off at 1140 hours with part of the equipment and the ground crews for Manston where they arrived at 1340 hours.  The pilots were unable to fly down in the morning because of the bad weather in 11 Group’s area and finally took off at 1530 hours, reaching Manston at 1710 hours.

Thursday, 2 July, 1942

Weather, 6/10ths to 10/10ths low cloud most of the day but fine and warm.  The Squadron was down at dispersal by 0715 hours.  Owing to the low cloud a postponement was put on until 1110 hours when the show was finally called off.  W/C Flying gave the pilots a short talk on local flying and R/T precautions to be observed for security reasons.  During the afternoon, a single section patrol was maintained over convoy AGENT, which was North East of Bradwell Bay by three sections from 1240 to 1635 hours when the Squadron was released off the camp.  The pilots who carried out this patrol were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

Sgt Anderson H.S.    P/O Hoben G.J.F.    Sgt Monchier N.
Sgt Haynes A.L.    F/S Page C.F.    Sgt Sorenson C.

This escort duty was shared with 222 Squadron.

Friday, 3 July, 1942

Weather 6/10ths to 8/10ths at 4,000 to 7,000 feet.  The Squadron was at readiness from 1300 hours.  Several of the pilots carried out sector reconnaissance and local flying during the morning.  In the afternoon, a very interesting talk on Escape was given in the Intelligence officer by F/S McCairns, the only fighter pilot to escape from Germany so far.  At 1815 hours, the whole of ‘B’ Flight was ordered to scramble on the approach of bandits.  Later Blue Section was given a vector to patrol convoy BACON, which was just leaving the Estuary.  But as the bandits were later plotted flying East, the rest of the Flight was recalled and landed at 1840 hours.  The pilots engaged were:

Blue Section        Green Section        Black Section        Pink Section
F/L Walker BR    Sgt Johnston M.    Sgt Anderson H.S.     Sgt Thomas A.
Sgt Rawson D.L.    Sgt Fletcher        F/S Page C.F.

A second false alarm came in later in the evening which caused Green Section (Sgt Anderson and F/S Page) to patrol the base from 2110 hours to 2145 hours.  Between 1810 hours and last light BACON (convoy 224) was patrolled by four sections in succession.  Quite a good party, for which a good number of pilots were able to attend, was thrown in the Officer’s Mess from 2200 hours till 0200 hours after a Claude Hebert ENSA show.

Saturday, 4 July, 1942

Weather fine with much medium stratus cloud.  The Squadron was at readiness from first light till 1300 hours, then released off the camp.  Apart from Red Section, which scrambled from the base for twenty-five minutes during an alert at 0720 hours there was no flying.  P/O Walker L.A. had to go to sick bay with tonsillitis and it looks like he will be grounded for a week or so.  Bad luck both for him and the Squadron, especially at a time like this.

Sunday, 5 July, 1942

The weather was fine and cloudless at first.  Then, much heavy cumulus began to build up with thundering and rain late in the evening.  The Squadron expected to be released for training but at mid-morning the Group came through to say that one flight must keep readiness till last light.  However, there was no operational flying except for two occasions when the stand-by section was scrambled for a short time during the afternoon.  Both patrols were uneventful.  During the day, about a dozen plots went up to practice dog fighting.  In the morning, F/S Olmsted C.R. had a trip over to Gatwick and back.  A farewell party was given in the evening by the Station Commander (G/C Adams) which was attended by a number of the pilots from the Squadron.

Monday, 6 July, 1942

Weather, medium cloud of 8/10ths to 10/10ths.  ‘B’ Flight took over readiness state from ‘A’ Flight at first light until 1300 hours.  The rest of the Squadron was released for training.  A short visit was paid to the Station late in the afternoon by the AOC.

Tuesday, 7 July, 1942

Weather, fine with 6/10ths cumulus cloud, increasing later to 8/10ths.  We had a little rain after dark.  The Squadron was released for training until 1100 hours when we were informed that the Squadron was to return to Catterick on the 8th.  Immediately, preparations were made with three parties: air party of 19 a/c with pilots, rail party of 64 men with F/O Warner H. (EO) in charge, and transport party of eight men and two officers.  P/O Clare Walker was left behind in the hospital because of tonsillitis.

Wednesday, 8 July, 1942

The Squadron arrived back at Catterick at 1330 hours and came over the aerodrome in three flights of six, six and seven in very close formation.  We were released until 1900 hours.  The weather was 4/10ths to 6/10ths cumulus with heavy local showers.  The road party, with F/L Black, which left Manston at 0615 hours, arrived at Catterick at 2245 hours.  The part was delayed for nearly three hours near Stamford on account of engine trouble.  The car had to be towed to a bomber OTU and repaired and the crew were given tea and were very hospitably received.  P/O J. Mozolowski reported to the Squadron for duty.

Thursday, 9 July, 1942

Weather, clear and warm.  ‘B’ Flight moved to West Hartlepool and ‘A’ Flight resumed duties at Catterick.

Friday, 10 July, 1942

Weather clear and warm.  The Squadron did formation flying today.  Sgt Pilots H.S. Anderson A.L. Haynes and J. Norman went on 7 days leave.  S/L Deere went on a 48-hour pass.

Saturday, 11 July, 1942

Weather, clear and warm.  Pilot Officer Gordon Hoben, flying ‘Canadian Policeman’, took off from Catterick at 1530 hours to visit Topcliffe, his old bomber station and crashed at 1550 hours.  The a/c was totally destroyed and Gordon was instantly killed.  W/C R.L. Smith is to investigate the accident.  F/L BR Walker was called to identify the body.  Gordon was a grand chap. liked by everyone on the Squadron.  He had over 100 operational hours on bombers and was shaping up to become a first rate fighter pilot.  Bishop Nelegan and W/C McArthy form HQ visited the Squadron today.

Sunday, 12 July, 1942

Weather unsettled with 7/10ths to 10/10ths cumulus at 1,000 feet and occasional rain.  F/O L.N. McBride arrived to give a trade test.

Monday, 13 July, 1942

Weather unsettled with rain during the afternoon and some ground fog.  Air Marshall Edwards, W/C Campbell and P/O Thompson visited the Squadron and had lunch with the officers.  W/C H. Ecles, Station Commander and a party visited the dispersal and met with all the pilots and ground crew.  They spoke at length with several individuals and discussed problems such as re-mustering and repatriation.  F/O T.S. MacKay, Intelligence Officer, returned from the hospital at 1500 hours.  The Sgt’s Mess dance was attended by many officers, a very successful affair.

Tuesday, 14 July, 1942

Weather, clear and warm with scattered cumulus at 1,500 feet.  F/S C.F. Page took off from West Hartlepool at 1420 hours in KH-M, did not gain sufficient speed on the take off roll and collided with a Henley.  KH-M is a Category ‘B’ with damage to the main plane, airscrew, engine and controls.  The Henley received damage to an engine, port wing and towing apparatus and was also classified as Category ‘B’.  F/S Page was put on charge.  F/L Walker BR was posted to No. 55 OTU to be effective July 21, 1942.

The funeral for Gordon Hoben took place at 1400 hours.  Father Plumley, assisted by Father Doucet, gave the service in the Station Chapel with a full military funeral including firing and a band.  The pallbearers were Sgt N. Monchier, F/L BR Walker, F/O J.E. Gardiner, F/S C.R. Olmsted, P/O L.A. Walker and F/O T.S. MacKay.  Wreaths were laid by the Station Commander and on behalf of the Officer’s Mess, 406 Squadron, 403 Squadron and the Sgt’s Mess.  The service was very impressive, and internment was in the Catterick village cemetery.

Wednesday, 15 July, 1942

Weather, 5/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet.  The Squadron did some formation flying.  W/C Scot Malden and S/L Sim from No. 13 Group Headquarters visited the CO.  Sgt V. Cabas and Sgt H Dowding, while on a practice flight, spotted seven P38s and engaged the leader and one of the section leaders in a dogfight at 12,000 feet.  They had no difficulty, the Spitfire Mk VB out-climbing and out-turning the P38 and both Cabas and Dowding consider that they were easy meat.

S/L AC Deere and F/O T.S. MacKay paid West Hartlepool a visit.  The dispersal was in very neat condition and in ship shape order.  F/O H.F. Francis went to the hospital sick with a cold.

Thursday, 16 July, 1942

Weather, 10/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet, clearing towards the late afternoon.  F/S C.R. Olmsted, F/S G.D. Aitken, F/S H.S. Anderson, F/S H. Murphy, Sgt H. Monchier and Sgt M. Johnston reported to the AOC, 13 Group, for interviews for appointment to commission.  Sgt D.L. Rawson was promoted to F/S, effective July 1, 1942.  F/S Rawson and Sgt A. Thomas went on 7 days leave.  S/L Deere went to London to attend a conference for Squadron and Wing Leaders.  The IO took over the confidential documents from the Cypher Officer.  The pilots of ‘A’ Flight went to the Station Intelligence to study aircraft recognition and to see films.  The Squadron wrote to the Air Ministry reference the transfer of Sgt Pilots Cabas and Fletcher to the US Air Corps.

Friday, 17 July, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cumulus at 1,000 feet with some rain and no flying.  ‘A’ Flight pilots went to the Station Intelligence to study the Hunt Range and a/c identification.  West Hartlepool aerodrome was unserviceable so two sections stood readiness at Catterick.  F/L O’Leary went away on 7 days leave.

Saturday, 18 July, 1942

Weather, 10/10ths cumulus with some rain that cleared towards late afternoon.  Two sections were at readiness for the day.  The CO was back from the conference in London.  Station Defence gave a demonstration to all personnel during the afternoon showing patrol procedures, sentry duty, unarmed combat, tank and Mills grenade throwing and camouflage; all very instructive and interesting.  The troops were well drilled and smartly lead by a very efficient F/S and F/O Gaff.  P/O C.M. Magwood was released from the hospital and given 9 days sick leave.  Mess dance tonight.

Sunday, 19 July, 1942

Weather, 5/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet.  The Squadron had two sections on readiness.  S/L Stan Douglas visited the Squadron en route to his Station at Pocklington.  The Squadron wrote a letter, recommending that Cpl Betty be given the rank of Sgt and that LAC G. McCabe (Wireless Section) be promoted to Cpl. Instructions to the Armament Section were received, directing that all loose 303 ammo be returned; none in this category on hand here.  P/O K.P. Marshall came back from 7 days liaison duties with the Fleet Air Arm.  P/O Wozniak returned from leave, he received a nice write up in the Canadian papers regarding his combat on June 2nd, 1942, which pleased his family very much.

Monday, 20 July, 1942

The weather was unsettled with occasional showers which cleared towards the late afternoon.  The Squadron did practice flying, dog fighting and aerobatics.  F/L LS Ford reported for duty to take over ‘B’ Flight.  The CO interviewed LAC G.E. Fountain, recommending him for aircrew.  F/S R. Taylor (Discip) and LAC McCabe reported to the Station Intelligence Officer, F/L Ellison for an interview with the object of obtaining a commission as Intelligence Officers.  The findings of the board into the a/c prang of F/S C.F. Page of 14 July, 1942 determined that the accident was the result of gross negligence resulting in Page being grounded and his log book so endorsed.  The Squadron wrote to DAS RCAF HQ regarding LAC C.B. Cole who is to be repatriated to Canada on account of his wife’s illness.

Tuesday, 21 July, 1942

Weather, very warm and clear, closing in later in the day.  The Squadron did formation flying, aerobatics and dog fighting.  P/O R. Wozniak arrived back from leave.  F/O H.F. Francis was released from the hospital and sent on leave to recuperate.  F/S George Aitken was presented with a mascot in the form of a stuffed elephant, named Dumbo, by a very charming ENSA player, Miss Dawn Drummond, upon the condition that Dumbo be given his wings.  George took it aloft and the elephant now has wings on his chest and CANADA sewn on his rear end.  The Airmen’s Mess held a meeting today, with representatives from our Squadron becoming upset when they offered criticism as they were told that the purpose of the meeting was not to listen to complaint.  Necessary action will be taken with Station HQ to see what improvements can be made.

Wednesday, 22 July, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet. F/S F.G. Turner and Sgt J.A. Dow arrived from 61 OTU and were assigned to ‘B’ Flight.  F/L BR Walker left for 55 OTU.  F/O H.F. Francis went away on leave.  A letter from A/M Edwards arrived which read as follows:

“Dear Deere:

I would like to thank you for all that you did for me and my party during our visit to your Squadron.  I was very much impressed with what I saw and I wish to offer my warmest congratulations on the keenness and efficiency of your personnel, who seem to be in the very highest spirits and this reflects no little upon yourself as their leader.  You will appreciate that it is difficult for me to get down to see you as often as I would like but I do hope that time will permit me to visit your Squadron more often in the future than I have been able to in the past.”

Two Sections were scrambled from West Hartlepool at 2359 hours to intercept bandits.  8/10ths cumulus were at 3,500 feet and no contact was made with the e/a.

Thursday, 23 July, 1942

Weather, unsettled and it threatened to storm the whole day.  ‘A’ Flight was scheduled to do night flying last night at Scorton but the weather did not permit it to happen.  The pilots were given a briefing on night flying procedures by W/C H. Ecles in a very clear and concise lecture.  F/S T.S. MacKay was posted to 401 Squadron.  F/O H.F. Francis was recalled from leave as the CO is to leave tomorrow for 7 days leave.  F/L PT O’Leary returned from leave today.  P/O L.A. Walker handled the flight while he was away.  Word was received that F/O H.F. Francis will not return until Sunday; in the meantime, our EO, F/O H.S. Warner will carry on as acting CO.  The Airmen’s Mess situation was looked into by the CO and the IO and a report was submitted to the Station Commander.  Nothing was seriously wrong except that the Mess appears to be short staffed for the large number that are being fed and this was brought to the attention of the Station HQ.  Word was received that P/O Doug Hurst is a prisoner of war so that, out of the six lost on June 2nd, only two are now missing.  This news has bucked the boys up to no end and we are all very happy about it.

Friday, 24 July, 1942

Weather, rain with visibility nil.  The pilots went to the Station Intelligence for aircraft recognition on the Hunt Range.  The foregoing completes the daily diary as far as F/O T.S. MacKay is concerned as I am leaving the Squadron tonight.  My stay with the boys of this Squadron has been both interesting and enjoyable and, although I am attached to 401, I will follow with interest the progress of the Squadron and the individual exploits of its excellent fighter pilots.  The scrap book contains all the newspaper clippings of their endeavours and to the new IO who takes over, I trust he will insure that all the individual exploits of merit are suitably recognized in the press for reason that this is the one source that we can be assured will gladden the hearts of the folks at home and it is the only channel in which they can follow the outstanding achievements of their sons.  It has meant a great deal to this Squadron, to have as its leader, the Ace fighter pilot of New Zealand.  His leadership has been an inspiration to all the pilots who, with confidence, would follow him into any combat.

S/L Deere and F/O MacKay had a discussion with the Station Commander and Administrative Officer reference the establishment of Canadian YMCA rest rooms in the hangar.  This has been done without a request for space from the Station HQ and naturally they are upset.  No blame is attached to S/L AC Deere, as he was not informed.

Saturday, 25 July, 1942

Weather fine with 3/10ths cumulus at 8,000 feet.  ‘B’ Flight took off from West Hartlepool on the evening of the previous day.  The aerodrome at West Hartlepool was declared unserviceable while they were in the air and so they landed at Thornaby.  ‘A’ Flight moved to West Hartlepool at 0945 hours and ‘B’ Flight moved into Catterick.  F/O T.S. MacKay departed from our Squadron at 2200 hours last night.  His pleasant personality will be missed by all of the members of the Squadron.  Our loss is 401’s gain.  I, the Engineering Officer, am sort of ‘pinch hitting’ for the ‘cowboys’ of the Squadron.

Sunday, 26 July, 1942

Weather 5/10ths cumulus at 4,000 feet.  The Squadron did considerable flying; tail chase, cine gun, and formation practice by ‘B’ Flight.

Monday, 27 July, 1942

Weather, cloudy in the morning and intermittently 5/10ths to 8/10ths throughout the afternoon.  We had some rain in the morning with poor visibility that cleared later in the day.  F/L O’Leary came over from West Hartlepool.  F/O H.F. Francis and F/O C.M. Magwood returned from leave.  Word was received that W/O D.C. Campbell is a prisoner of war and that he was slightly injured but has since fully recovered.  This means that five out of the six pilots who were shot down on June 2nd are prisoners of war: F/O Jack Parr, P/O Doug Hurst, P/O Larry Somers, W/O Don Campbell and Sgt Ronnie Hunt.  F/L E.V. Darling DFC is still missing.  It is amazing good luck that these boys are all well and alive.  The comment of  F/L G.A. Black (MO) was ‘all they need is an adjutant and they will have a full Squadron’.  P/O L.A. Walker and Sgt H.J. Dowding did a regular morning patrol from West Hartlepool.  ‘A’ Flight did considerable practice dog fighting, air firing and cine gun flying in spite of the rough weather.  ‘B’ Flight did formation flying and air test at Catterick.

Tuesday, 28 July, 1942

Weather, variable clouds of 3/10ths to 6/10ths.  ‘A’ Flight did dawn patrol from West Hartlepool.  The Squadron had two scrambles during the day.  Considerable flying was done, aerobatics and formation.  ‘B’ Flight had three sections of two a/c making dummy attacks on four Halifax bombers for about an hour and GCI exercises were flown at 1,500 feet.  P/O Magwood left for Harewood Manor on 10 days convalescent leave.  F/O John Rainville, previously of 403 Squadron and now with 55 OTU, visited the Squadron.  F/L BR WALKER DFC, who left the Squadron on July 22nd, is his Flight Commander.  A wire was received from RCAF Headquarters ordering Cpl H Quick and LAC Cole to report to NO 1 PDC for repatriation to Canada.

Wednesday, 29 July, 1942

Weather, cloudy with showers.  Practice flying was done during the day.  At 0600 hours, Yellow Section consisting of P/O K.P. Marshall and Sgt C.F. Sorensen, took off from West Hartlepool to look for a dinghy.  They flew, on the instruction of the controller for approximately 5 minutes on a 010-degree bearing when the controller informed them that the dinghy should be about 5 miles in front.  Just then, Yellow leader sighted an oil patch on the water about 30 degrees to the starboard and about 3 miles in front.  When they got closer to the oil slick, they saw a blob on the water, which upon investigation, proved to be a dinghy with 4 or 5 men.  Yellow Section gave a fix to Ops.  A Defiant came out and called for a launch, which he then led to the dinghy and watched as the men were picked up.  A Defiant section from Euston had previously failed to locate the Dinghy that was about ten miles from shore.  The Squadron Adjutant is interviewing every airmen (ground crew), checking 1580’s, next-of-kin, group and reclassification.  All men are being told to arrange for an interview with the Education Officer with a view to improving their rank and trade.  Preparations are being made to move one section to Scorton aerodrome to do some night flying.

Thursday, 30 July, 1942

Weather, fair to cloudy with industrial haze in some sectors.  One section of four, F/L LS Ford, P/O K.P. Gardiner, F/Sgt D.L. Rawson and Sgt M. Johnston flew to Scorton aerodrome for night flying.  They got in thre hours each.  During the day, the Squadron did considerable practice flying.  ‘A’ Flight had one scramble.  The Squadron is practising hard for the Station Sports Meet to be held on August 3rd.  There are over 60 entries for this meet and it is hoped to uncover sufficient material to make a good showing in the RCAF Meet to be held on August 15th, 1942.  Word just came through that the Adjutant, F/O H.F. Francis has been posted to 405 Squadron (Bombers) wef August 10th, 1942.  F/O SE Bringloe is to come to 403 Squadron as Adjutant.

Friday, 31 July, 1942

Weather, ground haze, visibility 1 mile and flying was curtailed with the exception of some air to air firing and aircraft tests.

Personnel & Flying Time for July, 1942

RCAF    RAF    Polish
Officers – flying    7    1    2    No. of A/C on strength    – 20 Spitfires VB
Officers – ground    3    –    –            – 1 Magister
Airmen – flying    18    –    –    Operational Flying time
Airmen – ground    105    38    –
Total            133    39    2    6 Convoy Patrols:    20:40
other:        53:45

Total Operational:    74:25
Total Non-Operational:    520:45
Non-Operational (night):    12:50
Casualties for the month:            Magister:        33:45
One (P/O Hoben C.F.J. killed        Total        641:45
in flying accident)