Historical Aircraft

June 1942


Monday, 1 June, 1942

Weather, good visibility with high Cirrus and slight ground haze.  At 0435 hours, one flight was at readiness and one flight at 15 minutes .  The Squadron was briefed for a sweep at 0930 hours.  North Weald as to act as withdrawal support to Kenley.  The Wing was to rendezvous at Southend at 1030 hours and orbit off Gravelines at 1058 hours.  121 Squadron was on the bottom at 25,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 26,000 feet, 403 Squadron at 27,000 feet and 331 Squadron at 28,000 feet.
Action  S/L Deere DFC and Bar reports that the North Weald Wing arrived over Southend at 1034 hours.  They set course for the French Coast, climbed to 22,000 feet when they arrived off of Gravelines at 1058 hours.  We orbited and continued the climb to 28,000 feet and patrolled as directed.  Friends were seen coming out but no enemy a/c.  We remained over the area for five minutes, then set course for base.  No flak was encountered and all of our a/c returned undamaged at 1135 hours.  Those taking part in this sweep were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

F/L Darling    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
W/O Campbell    Sgt Murphy     P/O Gardiner
P/O Parr    F/L O’Leary    P/O Somers
Sgt Monchier     P/O Wozniak    P/O Johnson

The Squadron took off for Martlesham at 1505 hours to refuel for an anti-shipping attack.  We were briefed at Martlesham, with the North Weald Wing as target support for 12 Bostons.  We left Martlesham at 1750 hours with 222 Squadron on the bottom of the North Weald Wing followed by 121, 403 and 331 Squadrons.  We started flying at ground level, then climbed to 18,000 feet over Haamstede.  We flew South and turned West, coming out over Flushing where smoke from the bombing of the docks was observed.  When North of Ostend at 18,000 feet, we saw 15 FW 190s flying towards us from the South at 25,000 feet and another seven or eight coming in from the North.  The e/a in the North attacked 331 Squadron and part of the e/a formation coming in from the South attacked 403 Squadron.  The Squadron kept together with the exception of Yellow 3 and 4 who got a little behind and were attacked by two FW 190s.  Yellow 3, P/O Somers, and Yellow 4, Sgt Johnson turned to meet the attack and P/O Somers got in a 3 second burst at the range of 400 yards at the e/a but makes no claim.  He then set course for home but was again attacked from his port quarter astern.  He turned to attack and got in another burst of 2 seconds of cannon and M/G head on to the e/a and observed a piece of the FW 190 engine cowling drop off.  At the same time, his a/c was hit in the port wing by a cannon shell, which tore a large hole.  Yellow 3 spiralled down to 10,000 feet and headed for home, landing without further damage at 1935 hours.  Sgt Johnson got in a 2-second burst at a FW 190 which came across his sight form starboard.  While no claim was made, cine-gun film shows good aim and deflection with the range being not over 200 yards.

The Squadron encountered flak, accurate for height, over the target area and Sgt Johnson saw a Spitfire pilot bale out 10 miles off Ostend.  He orbited and gave a ‘Mayday’.  Those involved in this sweep were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

F/L Darling    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
P/O Parr    Sgt Murphy     P/O Gardiner
F/L O’Leary    P/O Hurst    P/O Somers
P/O Magwood    P/O Wozniak    P/O Johnson

Tuesday, 2 June, 1942

Weather; haze over the channel with 7/10ths thin cloud layer at 26,000 feet and good visibility.  At 0426 hours, one section was on readiness and the balance of the Squadron was at 30 minutes.  At 0635 hours, the Squadron was airborne on a sweep.  The North Weald Wing made rendezvous at Southend and set course for Gravelines via Manston with 222 Squadron leading followed by 331, 403 and 121 Squadrons flying at zero feet.  The Wing climbed as the French Coast was approached and we patrolled between Gravelines and Dunkirk at 20,000 to 25,000 feet.  No enemy a/c were seen or flak encountered.  Those taking part in this action were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

F/L Darling    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
W/O Campbell    Sgt Murphy     P/O Gardiner
P/O Parr    P/O Hurst    P/O Somers
P/O Magwood    P/O Wozniak    Sgt Hunt

The Squadron was briefed for another sweep at 0930 hours, which proved to be the worst combat the Squadron has experienced since its formation.

Briefing 403 Squadron was to form up with the North Weald Wing at Chatham and set course for Hastings with 333 Squadron leading, followed by 403 and 222 Squadrons.  Rendezvous was to be made at Hastings with the Hornchurch Wing and then set course for Cap Gris-Nez at zero feet, climbing to 20,000 to 25,000 feet over the French Coast with the Hornchurch Wing below.  We were to sweep East to St. Omer and then come out at Le Touquet and head for home.

Action S/L Deere DFC and Bar reports that the rendezvous was made as arranged and that we crossed the French Coast at Cap Gris-Nez, sweeping to St. Omer then we turned right at Le Touquet.  Coming out at Le Touquet, we were the last Squadron out, flying at 24,000 feet when we were attacked from above by 15 or 20 FW 190s who came in from the South.  The Squadron turned to meet the attack, when a further 15 plus FW 190s that had followed us attacked from above and behind.  The Squadron split into pairs and our a/c were heavily engaged in dogfights.  While thus engaged, we were attacked by more e/a who came in from the South, making a total of 40 to 50 Huns engaging our Squadron.  The Squadron Leader was heavily attacked from all sides and exhausted all cannon and M/G in short bursts at close range, engaging enemy aircraft head on, astern and full deflection.  Being continually attacked and having to fire short bursts, there was no time to observe the results and unfortunately the camera switch was not turned on.  The S/L saw two a/c hit the sea about 10 miles East of Le Touquet, one of which was definitely a Spitfire that broke in half in mid-air with the pilot baling out.  He also saw another parachute in the vicinity but was unable to give a fix as he was chased by a FW 190 to mid-channel, which he could not engage having no ammo left.  After the e/a broke away and about 20 miles SE of Dungeness, the S/L saw a pilot bale-out of a Spitfire.  He orbited the area and gave a ‘mayday’ three times but received no answer.  3 Spitfires joined in the patrol as the rescue boats appeared in the vicinity, coming from Dungeness.  The S/L then left the area and 15 miles SW of Dungeness, he saw another Spitfire crash into the sea.  He later observed a pilot in a dinghy, orbited several times and directed two rescue boats who were 15 miles to the West of the pilot.  He was rescued and later identified to be F/S Aitken.  S/L Deere then proceeded to Southend and landed at 1210 hours.  He also reports that he saw a FW 190 go down pouring black smoke and definitely out of control from 20,000 feet during the melee over Le Touquet.

F/L B Walker, Yellow 1, reports that he saw 20 plus e/a come in from the South and turned left to meet the attack, when four FW 190s came down out of the cloud dead astern on Red and Blue Sections.  F/L Walker turned right to head them off, followed by Yellow 2, but Yellow 3 and 4 continued turning left.  F/L Walker gave a short burst at e/a coming down on Red and Blue Sections from a range of 400 yards, causing the e/a to break and dive away.  Yellow 2 was then attacked from port beam and Yellow 1 turned to attack followed by Yellow 2.  The e/a spiralled upwards and we followed but did not get within range.  We finally broke into cloud and, on coming out, saw no trace of the Squadron and so set course for home.  We were followed by e/a below us but were not attacked and landed at Southend at 1130 hours.

Sgt Murphy, Red 2, reports, “I was attacked at the same time as S/L Deere.  I saw a FW 190 come up dead in front, gave a 2-second burst with cannon and M/G as the e/a climbed past me from a range of 200 yards.  The FW 190 stalled, turned over on its back and spun away.  I thought that I had him until I later saw another FW 190 do the same manoeuvre in combat without being fired upon.  I should like to wait for the film before making any claim.  I then saw a FW 190 and got on his tail and opened fire from a range of 200 yards from dead astern with only M/Gs as both of my cannons had jammed.  The e/a/ rolled on his back and spun away.  It was then that I was attacked by another e/a and took violent evasive action and found myself upside down, hanging on my straps before I pulled out at 3,000 feet heading for France.  I passed many small villages which all seemed to have AA batteries which opened fire at me.  I flew low at 1,500 feet, opened the throttle and got on the right bearing for home, never expecting to get there.  I saw an e/a crash in the sea 3 miles off Le Touquet on the way out.  After crossing the English Coast, I landed at Manston and refuelled before taking off for Southend.”

P/O Wozniak, Red 4, reports that several e/a came down on him from the starboard beam and opened up with cannon and machine gun.  He felt a jolt and the radio went dead and the aircraft went into a spin from 24,000 feet.  He pulled out quickly and, upon levelling off, was again attacked from the port and starboard beams, as well from above astern.  M/G Bullets hit the engine and both wings.  P/O Wozniak put the aircraft into a violent spin and did not pull out till reaching 8,000 feet.  After setting course for home, Wozniak was not attacked again, he landed at Southend with his starboard tire punctured but made a good landing.  Examination of his a/c showed a large cannon hole through the fuselage near the tail which severed the radio cable and one control wire, M/G hits on the engine, through the tail plane and both of the wings and is assessed as E category damage.  ‘Wozy’ is lucky to be here.

F/S Aitken reports, “I was Blue 4 and heard P/O Hurst, Red 3, report six e/a behind.  I looked back, following Blue 3, P/O Parr and then heard the CO say break.  We broke left and I saw an e/a which I think was a ME 109F attacking P/O Parr from quarter port astern.  I turned slightly to port and gave this e/a a long burst, sweeping him along the beam as he crossed my sight with cannon and M/G.  I then felt M/G bullets hit the armour plate at my back as bullets perforated my cockpit cover.  My a/c gave a lurch and the R/T went U/S.  I went into a steep turn and then levelled out and started weaving.  I saw nothing more of my section.  I then saw an e/a on my starboard, about 500 feet above and approximately 400 yards away.  I took a hasty look around and saw another on my port, about 500 yards away and several more some distance behind.  The e/a on my starboard side dropped its port wing slightly so I figured he was coming in to attack.  I turned right into him and opened fire from a range of 200 yards at his front quarter port.  He fired as he came down and I saw tracer pass underneath.  The e/a then broke away.  I continued the steep turn to the right, then levelled out at 10,000 feet and headed for home.  I then saw tracer pass on both sides and cannon hits on both wings together with M/G fire.  I went into a steep left turn and levelled out at 5,000 feet.  I throttled back, reduced boost and headed for the white cliffs.  I had a look around to see what damage had been done to decide whether I could make Hawkinge.  The nose wanted to go up so I trimmed fully forward, which took most of the pressure off of the stick.  The engine started to sputter puffs of white smoke and flames came out of the exhaust, gasoline was leaking into the cockpit and the a/c was losing height.  I then decided it was about time that I got out.  Holding the stick with my left hand, I undid the straps and slid the hood back, then changed hands, removing my helmet with my left hand.  I opened the door and throttled back and pulled the nose up, then I held onto the stick while I put my left foot on the wing, pulled the rip cord and fell backwards out of the a/c.  My chute opened and almost got caught on the tail.  This was done at 1,000 feet.  As I went down, I saw the a/c hit the deck with a hell of a bang and sink immediately.  I inflated my Mae West and turned the quick release and it seemed like no time before I hit the water.  I had a hold of the dinghy strap as I cannot swim and I hit the water facing the wind with the parachute pulling me along my back.  I struck the quick release, holding onto the dinghy strap and gave the strap a hard jerk to free the dinghy from the parachute.  It inflated and I climbed in, found the paddles and looked for the shore.  I saw a Spitfire circling (this was S/L Deere) and later saw several more a/c, recognizing SM (W/C Scott Malden who was in one of the Spitfires).  I was picked up 25 to 30 mins later by a rescue launch, given a drink of Scotch, rubbed down and put to bed, eventually landing at Dover.”

P/O Gardiner, Yellow 2, was attacked with F/L Walker and stayed with him while they followed 2 FW 190s in a climbing turn but did not get within range.  They returned to base without being hit.

The foregoing reports covers the accounts of the six pilots to return home out of the 12 who took off on this sweep.  The Squadron was greatly outnumbered and the fighting so furious that no accurate assessment of the damage done to the enemy can be made.  There is however, little doubt that the two e/a seen out of control by S/L Deere and Sgt Murphy were shot down by 403 Squadron as there were no other Spitfires in the area at the time of combat.

Our losses are: F/L M Darling DFC, P/O J. Parr, P/O D. Hurst, P/O L. Somers, W/O D. Campbell and Sgt Hunt, all seasoned pilots with the exception of Sgt Hunt.  It is not necessary to state the loss this has meant to the Squadron and the loss to the Country, as they were all outstanding young men of much promise.  The Squadron formation for this sweep was:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

F/L Darling    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
W/O Campbell    Sgt Murphy     P/O Gardiner
P/O Parr    P/O Hurst    P/O Somers
F/S Aitken    P/O Wozniak    Sgt Hunt

Pilot Officer Amor (Engineering Officer) obtained delivery of 9 new Spitfires by 1730 hours and by working all through the night, had 13 a/c on the front line at 0900 hours the next morning.

Wednesday, 3 June, 1942

Weather, clear and warm.  One section was at readiness for Station defence, the balance of the Squadron was at 30 minutes.  Word came through of the pending move.  S/L Deere went to North Weald to discuss affairs.  F/S Walker returned from leave.  The Squadron was advised at 1200 hours to move to Martlesham by 1600 hours.  Harrow arrived and transported men, material with 65 airmen set to go by train tomorrow morning.  The Squadron got airborne at 1800 hours for Martlesham, landing there at 1825 hours.  P/O Amor and F/O MacKay remained overnight at Southend to clear up loose ends.

Thursday, 4 June, 1942

Weather, warm and clear.  65 Airmen and material were loaded on the 1057 hours train for Woodbridge and the flights spent the day fixing up their new quarters.  We have a very fine dispersal if properly kept.  The Squadron did a/c cannon tests, a/c tests and sector reconnaissance.  With only one exception, the nine new Spits were found unserviceable, requiring several adjustments, and considerable trouble with the cannons.  F/S Olmsted returned from leave.  Sgts Cabas and Fletcher were posted to the Squadron.  F/O Dick returned from the hospital, being discharged as fit after he and a few friends squirted some of the hospital staff with a fire hose.

Friday, 5 June, 1942

Weather, very hot with some ground haze.  The Squadron continued a/c tests today and did a few convoy patrols; all are a bit disgruntled at the prospect of all convoy work and no sweeps but this does look like a good spot.  We have excellent food and quarters.  The CO went away for a 48.

Saturday, 6 June, 1942

Weather, warm with considerable ground haze below 1,500 feet.  The Squadron settled down to convoy work.  Blue, Green and Black Sections went on Army co-op at 1704 hours.  P/O Wozniak had difficulty spotting the convoy through the haze and had to ask for a vector.  He flew for 30 minutes on a 070 degree heading, then turned back towards the Coast and saw 10 minesweepers out in the North Sea but failed to pick up the convoy.  All pilots were told that the convoy lanes are never more than 15 miles off the Coast and therefore, they are not to venture beyond that.  Word came through today that S/L Campbell is a prisoner of war.  We are all very bucked up with this news.  We hope that a few more of the lads will also show up.

Sunday, 7 June, 1942

Weather, 10/10ths cumulus with occasional showers and a cloud base at 2,000 feet.  The Squadron was released for the day.  We did formation to keep in battle form, which looked very good from the aerodrome.  F/O Harry Francis arranged for the Officers to entertain the Sergeants at the ‘Rhodes’ House, our living quarters.  It was a wonderful show, with plenty of light and dark ale.  The batmen fried Spam, sausage and eggs, made a salad, macaroni and cheese and had orange juice, coffee and chocolates.  Sgt Murphy proved to be a remarkable story teller using Indian, Jewish, Irish and Italian dialects; his stories were very clever.  He is an American and hails from Turkey Point, St. Clare, Michigan near Detroit.  The Officers dressed in civvies and there was no formality, everything natural, free and easy.  The CO came back early from his 48 to attend.  We have a real fighter Squadron now, even after the serious losses.  It is evident in the atmosphere of the dispersal and in the pilots and much credit, I think, goes to the S/L, as he has a way of instilling aggressiveness in all of his boys.

Monday, 8 June, 1942

Weather, 5/10ths cumulus cloud at 2,000 feet, closing in towards the late afternoon.  The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day and there was no time for anything else.  They have all been told to keep a close lookout for anything unusual.  A big circus went off today without us.  G/C Barwell here for rendezvous.  AC1 Bridon assigned as GD to dispersal to keep the place in shape.  65 Squadron was posted here for target practice as well as two Lysanders from Southend.  We are to take any sweeps 65 would normally do.  S/L Deere went to the hospital with Quiney; he has been feeling tough for four days.

Tuesday, 9 June, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cloud with a ceiling at 1,500 feet at 1000 hours, closing in towards late afternoon.  The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day.  F/S Aitken and Sgt Cabas saw an ME 110 about a mile away.  F/S Aitken gave chase but the e/a dove to sea level and got away.  F/S Aitken did not follow too far.  F/S Olmsted saw one of the convoy escort boats destroy a mine with gunfire.  Wellington bomber, BH-V from a Polish Squadron, made a crash landing on return from a raid to Essen; it was attacked three times by a ME 110 from below and astern.  The rear gunner was very badly shot up as was the port wing and engine.  The second pilot baled out 20 miles west of Essen after the attack.

Wednesday, 10 June, 1942

Weather, 7/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet.  The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day.  P/O Gardiner, F/S Walker, Sgt Murphy and Sgt Johnson planned a rhubarb to Koksijde but they failed to get permission from Ops.  The pilots were shown, at Station Intelligence the combat films of rhubarb done by P/O Parr, Sgt Johnson, Murphy and Anderson so that they can familiarize themselves with rhubarb targets.  These showed that the barge involved was badly hit.  North Weald was asked to assess Sgt Johnson’s combat film to see if he should be awarded a damaged barge.  The dinghy lanyard strap was tested today for its strength and found it to be too weak.  A letter was written to F/L Madden Simpson, suggesting that this be investigated.  e/a reconnaissance was reported off Orfordness and Red Section got airborne in two and a half minutes to intercept but the e/a could not be seen.  G/C Peel and W/C Debden Wing paid a visit to the dispersal.  The Squadron was released from Ops at 2315 hours.

Thursday, 11 June, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cloud during the morning, clearing by noon.  Ops called at 0334 hours giving permission for a rhubarb that was asked for yesterday.  F/S Walker, P/O Gardiner, Sgt Murphy and Sgt Johnson were called out of bed and were airborne at 0419 hours, using lights for take-off.  They hit Koksijde as planned and crossed the Coast penetrating to the Furnes Canal and turned left along the canal.  Seeing a collection of barges in the canal halfway between Furnes and Nieuport, and meeting no AA fire they made a leisurely turn and made a line astern attack on one motor driven barge.  The concentrated fire of the 4 a/c’s cannon and machine guns on the one barge completely destroyed it.  The each member singled out one of the other barges for individual attacks, each damaging one.  After this, they followed the canal to Nieuport where heavy AA fire was encountered.  In the light, which was just breaking, flashes from many gun positions could plainly be seen.  The batteries criss-crossed the town with an intense barrage of red and green flak which F/S Walker said looked like Christmas.  Walker saw a post open fire on Johnson and he turned right opening fire on the battery from a range of 75 yards in a low attack that silenced the position.  Sgt Murphy saw a gun post located in the Cathedral tower that he attacked and likewise silenced.  Coming out, Sgt Murphy’s a/c was hit in the starboard wing and a 15-inch hole was torn in the trailing edge; fortunately the aileron was not hit.  The boys counted at least 8 gun positions scattered around the perimeter of Nieuport.  They all landed safely at 0535 hours.  This was a good effort although the pilots were briefed to turn out before hitting heavy flak concentrations at Nieuport, but from the results, it is just as well that they flew over the town.  P/O Gardiner almost collided with a house and Walker nearly hit a smokestack as the light was not so good for low flying.

Friday, 12 June, 1942

Weather, 10/10ths cloud at 1,000 feet, closing in the late afternoon with rain, visibility of one mile.  New pilots, Sgt Sorensen, Sgt Mawson, Sgt Faircloth, Sgt Thomas, Sgt Ashworth, Sgt Jones and F/S Page did formation flying.  Cannon and M/G stoppages were taken up with the Armament Section by F/L Walker. All of the London papers this morning carried an account of the rhubarb operation, with the Times having the most accurate description.  Sgt Anderson, P/O Gardiner and F/S Walker requested permission to do a rhubarb to Knocke.  F/L Walker would not allow it as the Squadron is due to move Tuesday back to operations.  The Squadron was on convoy patrol all day.

Saturday, 13 June, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cloud at 1,500 feet.  The Squadron had one section on readiness at 0428 hours.  Ops advised us of AA practice off Walton from 0900 hours to 1130 hours.  The pilots were advised of this and that Blenheims are to practice bombing from 3,000 feet at Sutton, five miles NE of the aerodrome all day till 1700 hours.  A gas drill was conducted today at 0845 hours.  F/L Walker went to London for a 48.  The Squadron was on convoy patrol, reporting 27 ships Northbound off of Southwold.  The new pilots did some aerobatics and formation flying.  S/L Deere was released from Mrs Harvey’s rest home.

Sunday, 14 June, 1942

Weather 7/10ths cumulus cloud at 3,000 feet with a 20 to 25 mph wind from the Southwest.  The Squadron had one section at readiness, with the balance released for training.  We did aerobatics, tail chase, sector recco.  One of the new pilots, Sgt Faircloth, hit a soft spot while taxiing and nosed over, damaging the prop on   KH-A.  Mrs and Mr Harvey had the pilots to their home for hamburgers, beer and smokes at 1500 hours.  It was a very nice affair.  They are a very charming couple and their hospitality was greatly appreciated.  The afternoon was spent looking over the gardens and the livestock.  The only girl in our party was Miss Joan Fenton, the CO’s pretty fiancée.  The Sergeant’s Mess had a dance in the evening.  We all had a good time.  Sgt Johnson had a good looker with him from Ipswich; Murphy, Cabas, Fletcher, Walker and Rawson played the field.

Monday, 15 June, 1942

Weather, 8/10ths cumulus at 2,000 to 3,000 feet with a cold wind from the SW at 20 to 30 mph.  At 0428 we had one section at readiness with the remainder at 15 minutes.  We did convoy patrol and weather tests.  A signal came through, indicating that F/L B. Walker is awarded the DFC by HM the King for devotion to duty, leadership and making 53 operational sweeps over enemy territory.  All of the pilots, 62 ground crew, the IO, EO and MO have to go to Hawkinge tomorrow at 0730 hours for a short stay.

Tuesday, 16 June, 1942

Weather, 10/10ths cumulus at 1,000 feet, threatening thunder storms with some rain and drizzle.  The Squadron was on convoy patrol for the day.  P/O Wozniak and Sgt Cabas scrambled at 1615 hours, saw no enemy a/c but reported a balloon, oval shape, 6 x 4 feet and cream in colour, flying at sea level at Lat. 51degrees 50 minutes Long 2 degrees East at 1615 hours.  P/O Gardiner and P/O Amor are in the hospital with the flu.

Capt ‘Knobby’ Clark visited the Squadron with P/O Hogg (Canadian).  A signal arrived today, advising us that the move to Hawkinge was cancelled.  The Squadron, with the exception of one section at readiness, was released off the Station at 1700 hours.  F/S Walker and Sgt Anderson planned a rhubarb to Knocke, but Ops would not give them permission.

Wednesday, 17 June, 1942

Weather, 7/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet with a cold NW wind at 10 to 15 mph.  The Squadron went on convoy patrol for the day.  A signal was received directing that we are to move to Catterick tomorrow.  All sections packed and started loading into 10-ton trucks on the RR siding in the afternoon.  Sgt Pilots Dowding and Haynes arrived today.

Thursday, 18 June, 1942

Weather, considerable ground haze, closing in towards the late afternoon.  The Squadron departure for Catterick was delayed by the weather.  F/O Francis, with the advance party, proceeded in Harrow a/c from Martlesham.  The balance of  the ground crew left today by train at 1600 hours, arriving at Catterick at 2359 hours.  F/L Black acted as their Escorting Officer.

Friday, 19 June, 1942

Weather, clear and warm with a heavy ground haze in the early morning.  The Squadron took off from Martlesham at 0600 hours and arrived at Catterick at 0730 hours, having difficulty landing because of haze.  ‘A’ Flight went to West Hartlepool for two weeks.  ‘B’ Flight remains at Catterick; the work here being defensive only, with one section at readiness from dawn to dusk each day.  We had a welcome party in the Mess with the Station Staff.  Also in attendance were S/L Deere, F/L Walker, F/O Francis, F/O Magwood, F/L Black, P/O McKay.  They had a real bust up in which the Station staff proved themselves to be good fellows.  While in London yesterday, the IO gave the Canadian Press (RCAF) full details of the rhubarb that was carried out by F/S Walker, Sgts Johnson, Murphy and P/O Gardiner as well as Sgt Murphy’s experiences of June 2, 1942.

Saturday, 20 June, 1942

Weather, clear, warm and very humid, with some ground haze.  It closed in during the late afternoon, threatening thunderstorms.  S/L Deere and F/O McKay intended to go to West Hartlepool to inspect ‘A’ Flight quarters, but the weather closed in and the trip was postponed.  The CO arranged with the Station Commander for some furnishings for the dispersal at West Hartlepool.  Lisk wrote a news column for ‘Wings Abroad’.

Sgt Murphy, Anderson, Johnson, F/S Aitken and Sgt Monchier were recommended for their commissions; they are all excellent types who will be welcome members to our Mess.  F/S Taylor distributed sweaters, pyjamas and socks that were donated by the Canadian YMCA.  A letter of thanks was written as these articles were gratefully accepted by the Squadron and every article was excellently made and of good quality.  Sgt Murphy went on a 48 with Monchier to Leeds; F/S Aitken and Johnson went on 7 days leave.  F/L Brad Walker DFC and F/O Harry Francis also got off on 7 days leave.  Previous to this, they had tried to get away twice only to be recalled.  We are not bust here so the chances are good that they will make it this time.

Sunday, 21 June, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cumulus, ceiling zero, clearing towards noon.  A letter was received from the AOC, 11 Group,  AVM Leigh-Mallory, thanking S/L Deere for the work done by 403 Squadron.  This was really appreciated by the pilots as they felt that we had received little credit for the show put up.  We still feel that the Squadron unquestionably should be credited with two FW 190s destroyed in the combat of June 2, 1942 and we are continuing to press this claim.  S/L Deere and F/O McKay visited West Hartlepool in the Tiger Moth.  For not having flown a Tiger for 3 and a half years it was a good effort by S/L Deere.

Monday, 22 June, 1942

Weather, very heavy, hot haze and humid with no wind.  The Squadron attempted some practice formation flying buy the weather was too bad.  P/O G. Hoben arrived from Torquay at 2100 hours.  Sgts Murphy and Monchier, and F/S Olmsted were interviewed by the Station Commander for commissions and were given very good reports.  F/S Clare Walker received a well-earned commission and is now P/O Walker; a very popular promotion.

Tuesday, 23 June 1942

Weather, very hot and hazy.  The Squadron did dog fights and aerobatics.  Ops told us that the Squadron is flying more here than the average fighter Squadron that they have had posted to the Station.  P/O Gardiner arrived from Martlesham after having been released from the hospital.  Sgts Fletcher, Haynes and Anderson did dog fights over the aerodrome below 5,000 feet and received a lecture from the Commanding Officer.  Sgts Norman and Maffre arrived to join the Squadron today and Maffre was sent to Drem, having been posted here in error.

Wednesday, 24 June, 1942

Weather, clear and warm with a 10 to 15 mph wind from the NW.  The Squadron did formation flying and aerobatics.  Cpl Milne arrived and took pictures of the CO and ‘Steve’ for a press write-up (Steve is his black Scottie).  The 13 Group armament officer arrived here to supervise an anti-gas drill including the decontamination of an aircraft.  The drill, conducted with 14 men, was carried out as follows:

Equipment  2 wheel barrows, 2 dust cans, 4 shovels, 1 pick, 1 ladder, 2 – 10 foot planks, 2 white-wash brushes, 1 water bucket, 4 gallons of petrol, 1 drum of bleaching powder, and an indicator sticks and rags.

Procedure  First coat the tires with bleaching, then move a/c away from contaminated area.  The 14 man crew, clothed with No. 5 equipment proceeds as follows; 2 men on each wing, 2 on the a/c, 1 man on the prop, one on the engine cowling, 2 on the Perspex, 2 on the fuselage and tail assembly, 4 men on mixing and ground de-contamination.  Head the a/c into the wind and work on windward side, using a dry cloth to thoroughly clean all of the surfaces, then finish off with rags soaked in petrol.  This should take 1 hour to thoroughly clean an a/c.  Allow ¾ of an hour for dressing for the first time.  Some Halifax’s from Topcliffe came over to give our pilots some bomber attack practice.  Sgt Pilots Murray, Johnson and MacKay arrived.  F/S Taylor flew in the Magister to West Hartlepool to check up on billets.

Thursday, 25 June, 1942

Weather, clear and warm with a 10-mph wind from the SW.  P/O Gardiner returned from 48 hour.  The Squadron did aerobatics and sector recco today.  Sgt Ashworth bent the prop tips on Spitfire 736 by allowing the tail to come up while taking off.  Also damage was done to the Magister while it was starting up.  The front cockpit switches were on and the rear cockpit switches were off and, while it was sucking in, the engine started and pulled forward, causing the prop to hit an oil drum.  F/L Pitman, F/L Ivy, F/L Berry of 13 Group HQ paid a visit to the dispersal.  F/O Crampton, RCAF, visited us for news items; so we gave him an account of P/O Wozniak.

Friday, 26 June, 1942

Weather, unsettled with heavy ground haze and clearing towards late afternoon to 10/10ths cumulus at 1,5000 feet.  The Squadron did aerobatics and general flying.  Many of the pilots went off on 48 hours passes.  Sgt Pilots Faircloth, Mawson, Johnson, Ashworth, Jones, McKay and Murray were posted.  LAC Peel of the Photographic Section was posted to 168 Squadron.

Saturday, 27 June, 1942

Weather, clear and warm.  F/L Walker DFC and F/O Francis returned from 7 days leave. P/O Amor returned from convalescence at Martlesham.  The AOC attended the decontamination practice.  An actual mustard bomb was dropped on a Spitfire.  The a/c was refuelled, re-armed and decontaminated in 15 minutes.  The AOC appeared pleased and complimented the CO on the show.  The Squadron carried out practice flying.

Sunday, 28 June, 1942

The weather was clear and warm.  The Squadron did aerobatics and general flying and F/O McKay went to the hospital.

Monday, 29 June, 1942

Word has just been received that P/O Amor, our EO and the oldest remaining Officer in the Squadron has been posted.  He is going to 488 Squadron, a New Zealand Squadron at Church Fenton.  We are extremely sorry to lose him, but it is a F/L posting that he is going to so we are happy to see him get the promotion.  ‘Amy’, as we called him, has been the backbone of the Squadron; his knowledge of publications, his experience in moving Squadrons, his intimate knowledge of the airmen and their trades has bee of tremendous importance in the successful operation of the Squadron.  Good luck ‘Amy’.  Word has been received of a secret operation in which the Squadron is to take part.  It is in 11 Group, in the South of England.  The pilots know only that there is a ‘do’ on and are quite bucked up about it.  Practice flying has been discontinued so that 100% serviceability may be maintained for the next 36 hours.  20 planes, 20 pilots, the IO the MO and 62 men are to go.  We are also to furnish 27 men to service the flight from another Squadron, which is to take over our state of readiness at West Hartlepool.  F/O Rushworth assumes the IO’s duties.

Tuesday, 30 June, 1942

S/L Deere returned from 48 hours.  The advance party of 27 men and kit left by rail for the detachment to the secret operation.  These men will not know their destination until they arrive.  One flight of No. 243 Squadron (six planes and eight pilots) took over our readiness at West Hartlepool.  Three of our pilots are detached to them and 27 airmen under F/S Klaponski will service their planes.  The balance of our personnel returned to Catterick to prepare for the above-mentioned detachment.  P/O Amor is cleaning up a bit of work prior to leaving the Squadron.  P/O Magwood, P/O Hoben went on 48 hours.  Seventy-five personnel attended the picture ‘Next of Kin’.

Summary                    Aircrew Establishment
Fighter Sweeps:     4        Officer    8    1
Convoy Patrols:    164        Airmen    16    Nil
Rhubarbs:           1

Ground Crew Establishment
Officer    4    Nil
Airmen    107    44
Total    135    45
Total Operational Hours:        418:05
Total Non-Operational Hours:    447:30

Our Casualties, 6 Pilots missing, 7 a/c missing and 2 a/c Category ‘E’

Enemy Casualties, 2 FW 190s destroyed (awaiting confirmation) 2 FW 190s damaged.