Historical Aircraft

May 1942


Friday, 1 May, 1942

Weather, cloud 10/10ths till mid-day then 8/10ths at 5,000 feet.  The Squadron came to readiness at 0533 hours.  The advance party left at 1400 hours to go to Southend and prepare for the Squadron’s arrival tomorrow.  Only practice flying was done today and we were released at 1530 hours.  S/L Deere, our new CO flew with us for the first time to acquaint himself with the Station.

Saturday, 2 May, 1942

Weather visibility 2,000 yards, improving by midday.  Our Squadron left for Southend at 1120 hours.  All Aircraft landed here at 1145 hours.  After lunch, the Squadron carried out practice flying.  P/O Wozniak joined our Squadron today.

Sunday, 3 May, 1942

Weather fair and wind calm, with 800 yards visibility and no clouds.  Our Squadron is to do four practice formation flights under the new CO, S/L Deere DFC and Bar.  The Squadron did this as well as some local flying practice.  The CO was very pleased with the results.  The Squadron packed up at 1910 hours after a busy day of training.

Monday, 4 May, 1942

Weather, cloud 6/10ths at 2,000 feet, visibility 6 miles.  Another day of practice flying before we are made operational again.  At 2045 hours, our Squadron was released for the day.  Effective tomorrow, our Squadron is again operational.

Tuesday. 5 May, 1942

Weather, 8/10ths high cloud, visibility 2 to 5 miles.  The Squadron again became operational at dawn and was on 30 minutes availability.  At 0900 hours, Ops ordered the Squadron to take part in Circus 156 to Zeebrugge with six Bostons.  The boys were briefed by the CO and were airborne at 1040 hours to rendezvous with the bombers and 4 Squadron from Debden at Felixstowe at 1,000 feet.  The North Weald Wing, consisting of 222, 403 and 121 Squadrons at 20,000, 22,000 and 24,000 feet respectively were acting as top cover to the Debden Wing which was escorting the bombers at 14,000 – 19,000 feet.  The target was the coke ovens at Zeebrugge with the bombers at 14,000 feet.  The Squadron was airborne at 1040 hours and, almost immediately, W/O Campbell, Red 3, had to return due to trouble with his hood.  This was soon fixed and he took off but he was unable to locate the remainder of the Squadron, returning to the Squadron at 1110 hours.  P/O Hurst, Red 4, had R/T trouble and returned at 1100 hours.  Meanwhile, the Squadron reached the rendezvous at Malden with the remainder of the North Weald Wing, but owing to a fault in the CO’s watch, the rendezvous was made a minute or so late.  After orbiting for three minutes and not seeing the other two Squadrons, they proceeded to Felixstowe.  When they were halfway there, they were ordered over the R/T to proceed direct to the target.  The Squadron climbed steadily until they reached a point 10 miles North of Zeebrugge at 23,000 feet.  S/L Deere called up ‘Dickie’ (S/L Milne DFC and Bar) who was leading the Wing and he said that the beehive had already turned.  The Squadron accordingly turned on a reciprocal course, maintaining height to mid-channel where it descended and returned to base, landing safely by 1200 hours.  No e/a or flak were encountered.  Those taking part were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Rainville    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
Sgt Monchier    Sgt Johnson    F/S Walker
P/O Parr    W/O Campbell    P/O Somers
F/S Aitken    P/O Hurst    P/O Magwood

At 1300 hours, ‘A’ Flight was at readiness with ‘B’ Flight at 30 minutes.  At 1340 hours, the Squadron was brought to readiness for aerodrome defence.  During the afternoon, F/O Dean and representatives of the Canadian Broadcasting Company visited the Squadron.  Apart from some local flying in the Maggie, there was no more activity today.

Wednesday, 6 May, 1942

Weather, some haze but no low cloud.  ‘B’ Flight was at 0525 hours with ‘A’ Flight at 15 minutes.  At 0825 hours Red Section got airborne on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness and later were later relieved by Yellow Section.  This was followed by some non-operational flying – aerobatics, a/c testing and a Section Recco.  At 1100 hours, Ops phoned in the details of Rodeo 21 to St. Omer and, at 1145 hours, the Squadron was briefed in the Dispersal and were airborne at 1245.  We made rendezvous with Hornchurch and the remainder of the North Weald Wing at Clacton at 1230 hours at a height of 6,000 feet.  From there, the formation climbed to bomber heights and speeds in a wide formation until the French Coast was crossed between Gravelines and Mardyck at 1250 hours.  We were at 19,000 feet with 222 Squadron at 17,000 feet, and 121 Squadron at 21,000 feet.  Hornchurch was below us at 14,000 to 16,000 feet and Northolt above at 23,000 – 27,000 feet.  403 Squadron then climbed to 23,000 feet and swept inland to St. Omer, turning right and out again over Calais.  At Calais flak was experienced but in great quantity.  A second entry inland was then made and the formation swept in land for about 10 miles and then returned to base, landing at 1345 hours.  No e/a were encountered.  Those taking part were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Parr    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
F/S Aitken    Sgt Anderson    F/S Walker
W/O Campbell    P/O Rainville    P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted    P/O Hurst    P/O Magwood

W/C Boyd visited the Station during the afternoon.  At 1300 hours, the Squadron was at 30 minutes and so, did more practice flying.  The Squadron was then ordered off on Rodeo 22 which was to take place at 1930 hours.  We were briefed in dispersal at 1845 hours and got airborne at 1900 hours to rendezvous with the remainder of the North Weald Wing at Thameshaven at 1901 hours at 3,000 feet.  We then set course for Hastings to rendezvous with the Tangmere Wing at 1930 hours at a height of 12,000 feet.  We crossed the French Coast at 1940 hours between Le Touquet and Berck with 121 Squadron at 18,000 feet, 403 at 19,000 feet, 222 Squadron at 20,000 feet and the Tangmere Wing above at 21,000 – 25,000 feet.  We swept to Montreuil and out at Ambleteuse.  No e/a were encountered nor any flak and ten a/c returned at 2015 hours;  P/O Rainville , Red 3, and P/O Hurst, Red 4, had returned at 2000 hours, the latter having R/T trouble in mid-channel.  Those taking part were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Parr    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
P/O Marshall    Sgt Anderson    F/S Walker
W/O Campbell    P/O Rainville    P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted    P/O Hurst    Sgt Johnson

At 2032 hours, the Squadron was released for the remainder of the day.  P/O MacDonald arrived.

Thursday, 7 May, 1942

Weather, wind variable, no cloud and slight haze with visibility 5 miles.  The Squadron started the day at two hours notice.  The morning was taken up with practice flying – camera gun practice, air to air firing and army co-operation.  After lunch, Brigadier General Lyme visited the Squadron and was given a flip in the Maggie by P/O Somers.  At 1432 hours, the Squadron went off on another practice formation.  The adjutant was given an interesting local flip in the Maggie by P/O Somers and the Station Commander was taken around the drome by F/L Walker to inspect some high trees from the air.  During the early evening, the wind changed to the Northeast and increased to 30 to 35 mph with 4/10ths high cloud.  At 1810 hours, Ops gave details of a circus to Zeebrugge coke ovens and at 1820 hours, the Squadron was briefed in the dispersal by the Commanding Officer.  The rendezvous with 121 and 222 Squadron would be at Bradwell Bay at 1853 hours at 500 feet and then we would meet up with the 6 Bostons and the Debden Wing at Felixstowe at 1900 hours at 1,500 feet.  thence to Zeebrugge where the Bostons would bomb at 12,000 feet, 403 Squadron being at 17,000 feet, 121 at 15,000 feet 222 at 14,000.  The action followed the plan except that nothing could be seen of the Debden Wing above when reaching the Belgian Coast.  The Squadron stepped up to 19,000 feet.  While over the target area, about 15 huns appeared 15 miles inland and flying towards the coast.  However, only four e/a came down towards our a/c and these were closed in on by the Squadron to within 1,500 yards before they dived towards the French Coast.  Ten a/c landed at the base by 2020 hours.  P/O Rainville, Red 3, having had engine trouble returned at 1925 hours with P/O Hurst, Red 4.  The Squadron was then released for the day.  Those taking part were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Parr    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
P/O Marshall     Sgt Anderson    F/S Walker
W/O Campbell    P/O Rainville    P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted    P/O Hurst    Sgt Johnson

Friday, 8 May, 1942

Weather, wind NE at 20 mph with 3/10ths cloud, visibility 4 miles.  Later in the morning the cloud had increased to 10/10ths cloud at 2,000 feet.  At 1545 hours, the wind speed increased to 25 to 30 mph but with no cloud.  At 1010 hours, the Squadron was released for training until 1600 hours.  The morning and afternoon were taken up with formation flying, air to air firing and cloud flying.  At 1730 hours, the Squadron was put on readiness to take-off at 1800 hours on a circus to the Dieppe Power Station with six Bostons.  The North Weald Wing was to act as high cover for the Bostons.  403 Squadron made rendezvous with 222 and 121 Squadrons at Hornchurch at 1820 hours at 3,000 feet and then with the six Boston at Red Hill at 1830 hours at 5,000 feet.  The escort wing (Kenley) and the escort cover wing (Biggin Hill) joined up and we then set course for Beachy head for 1842 hours.  From there the formation would climb until over the target with the six Bostons at 12,000 feet, Kenley between 12,000 to 15,000 feet, and Biggin Hill at 16,000 – 19,000 feet.  North Weald would climb to 20,000 feet for 121, 21,000 feet for 403 and 23,000 feet for 222 Squadron.  The target was to be bombed at 1902 hours and then, turning right, we would return to Beachy head and back to base.  Meanwhile, the Northolt and Tangmere Wings would rendezvous at Hashaw at 1840 hours at 10,000 feet and act as target support, entering the French Coast at St. Valery 3 minutes after the bombing and sweep behind the beehive.  The operation proceeded exactly according to the plan, the Squadron taking off at 1800 hours and landing at 1945 hours.  No e/a or flak were encountered.  Those taking part were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Parr    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
P/O Marshall     P/O Gardiner    F/S Walker
P/O Hurst    P/O Rainville    P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted    Sgt Monchier    Sgt Anderson

There was haze up to 20,00 feet with the wind NE at 25 to 30 mph.  During the afternoon, W/C Steele visited the Squadron to discuss the question of educating Canadian personnel to appreciate the English attitude to the conduct of the war and to encourage the co-operation of Canadian and English elements in the RAF.

Saturday, 9 May, 1942

The Squadron was released for training until 1300 hours.  Weather, 7/10ths cloud at 1,200 feet which cleared by midday.  The morning was taken up with practice flying.  At 1300 hours, Blue Section came on readiness and later, Ops phoned through the details of a fighter sweep that was to be carried out at 1515 hours.  At 1439 hours, Blue Section was scrambled to patrol Clacton-on-Sea at 20,000 feet.  P/O Parr and Sgt Monchier were airborne at 1443 hours but were soon recalled as the bandit had proven to be friendly, landing at 1459 hours.  The operation was postponed by Ops until 1545 hours and all of the pilots were briefed in the dispersal.  North Weald Wing, consisting of 331 (Norwegian), 121, 222 and 403 Squadrons and 12 Group Wing were to rendezvous over Southend at 1545 at 5,000 feet.  We were then to proceed to the Pas de Calais area with 331 at 19,000 feet, 121 at 20,000 feet, 222 at 24,000 feet and 403 at 25,000 feet.  Turning right the formation would sweep over the Pas de Calais area and leave the cost at Hardelot.  The Squadron was airborne at 1540 hours and made rendezvous with 12 Group and the 3 Squadron of the North Weald Wing over the base and the remainder of the operation went according to plan.  The formation swept 15 miles inland at about 27,000 feet.  no e/a were encountered but there was heavy flak which was accurate for height but behind our a/c/  There was 9/10ths cirrus cloud at 27,000 feet South of Calais but it was clear to the North.  The Squadron landed safely at base by 1645 hours.  At 1720 hours, the Squadron was refuelled and at 1730 hours, was again called to readiness.  At 1826 hours, the Squadron was released for the rest of the day except for one section that was to remain on readiness until its release came through at 2218 hours.

Sunday, 10 May, 1942

At 0518 hours, ‘A’ Flight was put on readiness, with ‘B’ Flight at 15 minutes.  Convoy patrol was done off Clacton-on-Sea with one section, ‘booty’ 21 ships with three escort ships.  This was followed at 0611 hours by White Section.  At 0639 hours, Yellow Section was scrambled on a vector of 070 degrees, getting airborne at 0642 hours and 30 seconds.  At 0759 hours, Black Section was scrambled to Barrow-Deep at 25,000 feet, getting airborne at 0802.  This scramble, like the other one, was unfruitful.  This was followed by further convoy patrols until 0919 hours when White Section was recalled just as it had gotten airborne.  Ops then phoned in the details of a circus to Abbeville but this was later cancelled and a fighter sweep was substituted.  This was over the Pas de Calais and the formation consisted of the North Weald Wing (403, 222, 121, and 331 Squadrons), the Hornchurch Wing and the 12 Group Wing.  The Squadron, as briefed by the Commanding Officer, was to rendezvous with the remainder of the Wing at 1130 hours at 1,000 feet over the base and then climb en route to Manston, then Gravelines to the following heights: 222 at 15,000 feet, 403 at 16,000 feet 331 at 19,000 feet and 121 at 20,000 feet.  The formation was then to sweep Gravelines, Desvres and then come out at Hardelot.  Meanwhile, a 12 Group Wing, together with the Hornchurch Wing would rendezvous at Biggin Hill at 1140 hours, climb en route to Hastings and to Le Touquet.  Hornchurch, being at 16,000 to 19,000 feet, and the 12 Group Wing at 20,000 – 24,000 feet would sweep Le Touquet, St. Omer and Gravelines.  Withdrawal was at the discretion of Wing Leaders.  The action followed the briefing plan.  No e/a were seen but some heavy flak was experienced coming out from the French Coast.  There was haze up to 27,000 feet and over the channel there was 10/10ths thin cloud at 20,000 feet.  Seven large barges were seen on the South side of the estuary at Le Touquet, apparently beached and with what appeared to be nets around them (according to information that was later received, these barges have been there for some time and have grass growing through the bottom of them).  All of our a/c landed safely at base at 1230 hours.   Those taking part in the action were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Parr    S/L Deere     F/L Walker
Sgt Monchier     P/O Gardiner    F/S Walker
W/O Campbell    P/O Rainville    P/O Somers
F/S Olmsted    P/O Hurst    Sgt Johnson

There was no operational flying for the rest of the day.  Line astern chase, cine-gun and formation flying were carried out and all flying had ceased by 1608 hours.

Monday, 11 May, 1942

Weather 10/10ths low cloud.  The Squadron was released until 1000 hours and, then, at 0930 hours Ops rang through with the news that the Squadron was released off camp.  F/L Darling arrived today to join the Squadron.

Tuesday, 12 May, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cloud at 700 feet and the Squadron was again released off of the camp.  There was some practice flying, circuits and landings and local flying in the Maggie with all flying completed by 1500 hours.  F/L O’Leary arrived today to join the Squadron.

Wednesday, 13 May, 1942

Weather, 10/10ths low cloud and at 0830 hours, the Squadron was released until 1300 hours when we were to have one section at readiness, two sections at 15 minutes and one flight at 30 minutes.  Some pilots did some work in the Link trainer during the afternoon.

Thursday, 14 May, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cloud at 1,000 feet early, then clearing later in the morning with the help of a North wind.  In the afternoon, the cloud was again 10/10ths at 1,000 feet.  At 0510 hours, the Squadron’s state of readiness was one section at readiness, two sections at 15 minutes and one flight at 30 minutes.  At 0939 hours, Ops phoned to say that, from 1300 to 1400 hours, the Squadron would be released and then be at 30 minutes.  Sherry 33 and 37 did circuits and bumps.  At 1134 hours, the state was one flight at readiness and one flight at 15 minutes.  At 1152 hours, Blue Section was airborne on convoy patrol off of Bradwell Bay.  At 1304 hours, the Squadron was airborne on formation flying.  Blue Section did some formation flying and cine-gun practice and other practice flying took place, sector reconnaissance etc, in the afternoon.  The SMO visited the Station and, included in his tour, an inspection of 403 Squadron’s dispersal.  G/C Pike DFC also visited the Squadron.

Friday, 15 May, 1942

The Squadron was at 30 minutes as of 0527 hours.  At 0915 hours, Ops required two sections for convoy patrol – one to take off immediately, and the other to stand-by on readiness.  Convoy ‘Totem’ was to be patrolled from Manston to the Estuary.  At 0943 hours Red section was airborne.  At 0947 hours, the Squadron got airborne on formation practice with 11 a/c.  Local flying in the Tiger Moth was also done.  At 1035 hours, the Squadron landed.  At 1145 hours, Yellow Section got airborne on convoy patrol.  At 1157 hours, no more convoy patrols were required and the Squadron was back on 30 minutes.  The Squadron was again released off the Station at 1255 hours, but as a visit took place from the CBC, the boys came down in the afternoon to do a ‘beat up’ of the drome and to pose before the camera.  They also did a specimen briefing for a show, together with reporting in after landing.  Recordings were made of this that should prove to be of great interest to the people at home and will give then some idea of the life their boys are leading with a fighter squadron.  Flying has ceased by 1441 hours.  S/L Gray visited the Squadron.

Saturday, 16 May, 1942

Weather calm with 10/10ths low cloud which, by 1000 hours, cleared sufficiently to enable S/L Gray to take off for Tangmere.  One section was placed at readiness and the remainder of the Squadron was released for training.  Air firing was carried out at Dingie Flats, formation flying and cine-gun.  P/O Parr, P/O Gardiner, P/O Marshall and F/S Walker planned to do a rhubarb.  The canal between Dunkirk and Nieuport was selected as a target and the pilots were briefed by the Commanding Officer at Station Intelligence.  The section was just about to take off when Ops rang through cancelling the operation and red flares were fired.  The Group did not approve of the operation.  Air firing was carried out at Dingie Flats as well as formation attacks in the afternoon.  At 2045 hours the Squadron was released for the day.

Sunday, 17 May, 1942

Weather, thick haze early on which cleared later.  At 0510 hours, the Squadron was at 30 minutes and then put on readiness for a circus to Boulogne at 1000 hours.  12 Bostons were to bomb the Boulogne docks at 14,500 feet and then turn left after bombing.  Rendezvous with the North Weald Wing was at a point just NE of Tidbury and then at Beachy Head at less than 500 feet at 1100 hours with the bombers before climbing en route to the target.  North Weald was to be close escort with 222 and 403 Squadrons at 14,500 feet, 333 Squadron at 15,000 feet and 121 Squadron at 15,500 feet.  We were to be at Beachy head at 1100 hours, Boulogne at 1120 hours and then return via Hastings.  The escort and high cover wings were to go in with the bombers and then re-enter at Ambleteuse and come out at Hardelot.  Diversionary wings were Hornchurch and Northolt with three Squadrons each.  They were to rendezvous at Beachy head at 1105 hours, climb to height at the Wing leaders discretion and then sweep Hardelot, St. Omer and out at Cap Gris-Nez.

Action  S/L Deere reports that the operation proceeded according to plan.  Very intensive and accurate flak was experienced over the Boulogne area, which followed our a/c out, and in the opinion of many pilots, was the worst that they had ever experienced.  The bombing was carried out at 14,000 feet and the bombs were seen to fall on the South side of the docks with apparently excellent results as smoke and fire were observed.  No e/a were encountered.  Two of the Bostons were hit by flak but were escorted back to the English Coast.  12 a/c took off at 1034 hours and landed safely at base at 1152 hours.  Weather over the area was high thin cloud at 20,000 feet.  Broken low cloud at rendezvous was found at 500 feet.  Those taking part in this operation were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section

P/O Somers    S/L Deere     F/L Darling
P/O Gardiner    Sgt Murphy     F/S Aitken
P/O Hurst    F/S Olmsted    P/O Parr
Sgt Johnson    P/O Wozniak    P/O Marshall

F/O T.S. MacKay returned from his Intelligence course at Harrow.  F/L Wiese went to London to attend the Norwegian National Day Celebration.  F/O Francis went on a 48-hour pass, taking off on a bike for Chelmsford to spend a quiet weekend.  He donned his civilian clothes and looked like a retired English farmer when he took off on a 090-degree vector.  After cycling for over an hour, he got a fix from a policeman and pedalled another two hours before coming out about two miles from our mess instead of at his destination of Chelmsford.

Monday, 18 May, 1942

Weather 10/10ths cloud at 3,000 feet clearing towards noon.  ‘A’ Flight stood readiness at 0450 hours.  At 0604 hours, Red Section scrambled for convoy patrol off Barrow Deep.  They were airborne again at 0800 hours on convoy patrol for 14 merchant vessels that were escorted by a destroyer going NE off Shoeburyness.  At 1645 hours, the Squadron went on a sweep as follows:

Briefing  403 was to rendezvous with the North Weald Wing at 500 feet over Southend and act as top cover slightly above and behind 222 Squadron.

Action  S/L Deere DFC and Bar reports that the Squadron left Southend at 1645 hours with the North Weald Wing according to plan and crossed the Channel gaining height.  The Squadron was at 6,000 feet, 10 miles off the French Coast at Dunkirk when the Wing turned back to base.  No e/a or flak were encountered.  All of our a/c returned undamaged.  P/O Parr went away on seven days of well-earned leave.  Jack has done 32 sweeps since joining the Squadron.

Tuesday, 19 May, 1942

Weather, a slight ground haze with scattered cumulus at 6,000 feet.  There was 9/10ths cloud at 20,000 feet over the Channel and ground haze and scattered cirrus at 25,000 feet over the target at St. Omer.

Briefing  The Squadron was briefed at 1900 hours for the circus to St. Omer.  403 Squadron with the North Weald Wing would act as escort cover to six Hurricanes and the Hornchurch Wing would be close escort at 12,000 – 14,000 feet.  403 was to be at 18,000 feet.  The circus was to rendezvous at Eastchurch at 2000 hours, pass Deal at 2009 hours, cross the French Coast at Gravelines at 2019 hours, be over the target at St. Omer at 2027 hours and then come out at Calais.  The Debden Wing was to be rear support to cover our withdrawal, leaving Bradwell Bay at 2008 hours and positioning themselves in the sun off Cap Gris-Nez sweeping as far as Calais along the coast.

Action  The rendezvous was made as planned.  The visibility over the target area was good but no bomb bursts were observed and no enemy aircraft were seen.  A smoke trail travelling South was seen North of Calais on the way out.  F/L Darling returned at 2025 hours due to engine trouble with his number 2, F/S Aitken.  P/O Somers and Sgt Johnson missed the sweep owing to Johnson’s engine failing to start.  All of our a/c returned undamaged at 2035 hours.  Two Belgian pilots from 350 Squadron, Debden Wing, landed at Southend after the sweep to refuel and stayed overnight.  P/O Long returned to North Weald Station.  AC1s Adderson and F.K. Lisk have been accepted for aircrew.  All of the pilots now have bikes which is a good idea as it makes the boys exercise whether they like it or not as the distance is 5 miles between meals.

Wednesday, 20 May 1942

Weather, good visibility during the morning, closing in towards nightfall.  The Squadron was released for training at noon and did formation flying and air-firing.  Two sections went on convoy patrol and reported 20 merchant vessels northbound, leaving the estuary at 0930 hours escorted by 2 Destroyers and 2 armed trawlers.  P/O Hoben got out of the hospital today for a brief spell and paid the Squadron a visit.  He has been confined with pneumonia and now goes to Torquay for two weeks to build up.  P/O Hammy McDonald paid us a visit in a Miles Master; he is on target-towing on the South Coast.  P/O Norman Dick and P/O John Rainville are awaiting a posting to an OTU.  John has 43 sweeps to his credit without mishap, nice going.

Thursday, 21 May, 1942

Weather, 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloudy with occasional thunderstorms based at 600 to 1,000 feet.  One section was put on readiness for Station defence, with the balance on 30 minutes and then all were released at 1300 hours.  P/O Somers, F/S Walker, Sgt Johnson and Sgt Anderson planned a rhubarb to occupied France but failed to get permission from Ops due to weather.  Taking advantage of the lull in flying operations, the IO gave the pilots all of the latest gen on escape.  As a matter of interest, when two pilots from 350 (Belgium) Squadron were interrogated after landing at Southend after a sweep on 19 May 1942, the fact came out that they did not know where the dinghy lanyard strap fastens to the Mae West.  It also appears that one of their pilots who had to bale out on the 19th must also have been unaware of the lanyards correct use as he landed in the channel and lost his dinghy.  His Mae West also failed to inflate but fortunately he was quickly picked up.  P/O Magwood returned from leave, which he spent in Dublin.  He reports that two ounces of pre-war strength whisky for two bob and plenty of beautiful gals.  He brought a picture back of one all autographed and she sure is a looker.  Perhaps it is just as well that Eire is neutral; at least Mag likes it that way.  F/O Dean paid us a visit introducing F/O Ken Wright, who takes over Dean’s duties as Basil has been promoted to a staff position in London.

Friday, 22 May, 1942

Weather, thick ground haze all day with the sun breaking through occasionally.  One section was at readiness for Station defence, the remainder of the Squadron was at 30 minutes.  The Squadron did practice attacks, formation flying and camera gun.  Pilots saw their air firing cine pictures at Station Intelligence.  Some 2,000 feet of film was shown, mostly without particularly good results.  Yellow, Green and White Sections got airborne on convoy patrol off Shoeburyness.  Thirty-four Merchantmen and two escort vessels were reported entering the estuary.  F/L Riddell (Connie) paid us a visit from Gravesend.  F/S Messum departed for overseas service in the middle East.

Saturday, 23 May, 1942

Weather Heavy ground fog, clearing towards noon.  One section was at readiness for Station defence.  Black Section took off at 1015 hours to Bradwell Bay to do GCI.  Red and Green Sections went on formation attacks.   F/L Brad Walker, P/O Doug Hurst, P/O Rainville and P/O Marshall returned from 331 (Norwegian) Squadron celebration at North Weald.  He reports that it was a very good party; the rest of the Squadron spent a nice quiet evening at home storing up our batteries for the Mess dance tonight; a very nice affair.  Group Captain and Mrs Pike and W/C Scott Malden from North Weald were in attendance.  All of our Squadron had partners, S/L Deere and F/O McKay producing the two best-looking gals.

Sunday, 24 May, 1942

Weather, unsettled with scattered cloud at 1,500 feet.  One section was at readiness for Station defence, the balance at 30 minutes.  The Squadron did formation and cloud flying.  F/L O’Leary, piloting KH-F, hit a soft spot while taxiing to the bay and turned up on the nose, damaging the propeller.

Monday, 25 May, 1942

Weather considerable fog, with the wind from the Southwest at 20 to 25 mph; closing in towards noon.  The Squadron went on a sweep at 1045 hours to Ostend.  F/L Walker, who was leading the Squadron, reports that , due to the sweep being cancelled and then re-instated, 403 Squadron arrived at the rendezvous over Bradwell Bay at 1057, one minute late, and, not seeing the North Weald Wing, assumed that they had proceeded to Clacton-on-Sea.  He therefore, set course for Clacton and made the rendezvous with the Hornchurch Wing.  Hornchurch, at 15,000 to 16,000 feet and 403 Squadron at 19,000 feet, crossed the French Coast and flew to Ostend, sweeping three miles inland and coming out East of Blankenberge.  Hornchurch then dove to sea level but, as 403 Squadron had received no instructions as to what was to be done, they maintained height and covered the leading Squadron of the Hornchurch Wing until it was lost to sight, then set course for home, landing at 1210 hours.  No e/a or flak were encountered.  With rain in the late afternoon, the Squadron was released at 1600 hours.  S/L  Deere went on a 48-hour pass and F/L Walker, is acting CO.

Tuesday, 26 May, 1942

Weather, unsettled with occasional showers.  The Squadron was released at 1500 hours with the exception of one section that remained at readiness.  The Squadron did formation and cloud flying today.  F/L Murray arrived here, posted for three days from 416 Squadron.  F/O Dick returned from leave, having visited London and Dublin.

Wednesday, 27 May, 1942

Weather, 5/10ths cumulus, clearing towards noon.  The Squadron did aerobatics and instrument flying as well as air to air firing.  At 1418 hours the Squadron got airborne on an anti-shipping sweep.  We were briefed at Martlesham and took off with the North Weald Wing at 1600 hours.  Six a/c of 121 Squadron, flying at 3,000 feet were to attack two minesweepers and an accompanying Destroyer.  We swept the Dutch Coast North from Flushing then turned South back along the Coast.  The W/C reported e/a at sea level but we only saw one ME 109F after it had attacked 222 Squadron.  Failing to pick up the W/C, the Squadron turned for home, landing at 1725 hours.  The North Weald Wing reports that 121 Squadron badly damaged the two mine sweepers and in air combat, destroyed 1 ME 109 and damaged four others.  Sgt Armstrong of 222 Squadron is missing.  P/O Parr returned from leave and reports that F/L Gillespie is safe according to a cable from Canada.  Jack spent his leave with Peggy’s folks and looks very fit.  F/L Darling went off on a 48.

Thursday, 28 May, 1942

The weather was unsettled with gusty winds reaching 40 to 45 mph from the SouthWest and 7/10ths cumulus at 2,000 feet clearing towards noon.  The Squadron, except for one section that was on readiness, was released at 1200 hours.  Most of the boys went to Southend.  There was an ENSA show as entertainment in the evening at the school.  F/S Rawson was back from leave and eager to get back on ops.  He looks the same as ever and shows little evidence of his serious crash.  F/O Francis went to London to attend a conference.

Friday, 29 May, 1942

Weather was unsettled with 3/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet and a wind of 20 to 25 mph from the Southwest.  ‘A’ Flight got airborne at 1035 hours, led by S/L Deere, to orbit rescue launches in mid-channel South of Sandette Light.  S/L Deere set course of 135 degrees and picked up NRL 127 and 24 stationary in mid-channel; we orbited for an hour then NRL 127 took off going South West and 24 West, evidently to base.  The Flight returned at 1220 hours.  F/L Walker, with fuve a/c then took over and escorted the launches back to base.  No e/a or floating dinghies were seen.

At 1850 hours, the Squadron was airborne on a sweep with the North Weald Wing.  Rendezvous was made at Chatham with the intention of crossing the French Coast at Hardelot, then sweeping inland and making a large right-hand orbit and feint towards home, then to turn left again, climbing to 32,000 feet and go in at Berck.  The weather closed in at Berck, so the Wing turned left to Calais then split up with 403 and 121 turning right.  We swept inside Cap Gris-Nez, coming out at Ambleteuse, then along the cost turning for home between Calais and Dunkirk.  No enemy a/c were seen but heavy flak was encountered over Calais.  This flak was very accurate for height and burst in groups of four in between the sections of the Squadron; too close for comfort.  All a/c returned undamaged.

Colonel Block had a flip in the Magister, piloted by P/O Marshall, to look over the area defence for the Station.  F/L Darling and F/L O’Leary, at the Station Commander’s request, beat-up the aerodrome defence batteries.  They put no a wonderful show of ground attacks and low-level flying.  P/O Rainville left today for 55 OTU, much to his dislike.  ‘Rainy’ has 43 operational sweeps to his credit since joining the Squadron.  The Sergeant’s Mess had a party in the evening and many of us attended.  It was a very enjoyable and hospitable evening.

Saturday, 30 May, 1942

Weather was unsettled with 6/10ths cumulus at 1,500 feet.  Formation flying was done during the morning.  The Squadron, except for one section at readiness, was released at 1200 hours.  The pilots went to Southend.  S/L Morrow visited us along with S/L Aden from North Weald.  We are to move back there, much to the regret of all of the boys as we like this place very much.

Sunday, 31 May, 1942

Weather was very unsettled with rain and fog during the morning and clearing towards noon.  P/O Parr, Sgt Murphy, Sgt Johnson and Sgt Anderson did a rhubarb; the first this year for the Squadron.  They were briefed at Station Intelligence and given complete information thanks to the good system that we have here.  They took-off at 1121 hours.  Sgt Murphy returned to Southend at 1220 hours and the others landed at Martlesham.  Murphy reports that they hit the Belgium Coast at Bray Dunes (not bad) as their course was to Koksijde.   Parr and Murphy picked up the RR and turned right, shooting up a goods train.  Murphy opened fire with cannon and M/G and Parr with M/G.  Murphy was credited with damage on the Loco as they stopped it from issuing steam.  He also attacked an oil tanker with cannon coming out at La Panne.  He turned back after passing the Coast to do this, giving it cannon; a very nice piece of work.  The shore batteries opened up and they (Parr and Murphy) had a hot time leaving La Panne.  Sgt Johnson and Anderson turned right after crossing the Belgian Coast and penetrated 8-10 miles inland.  Realizing that they had gone too far, they turned back and picked up the Furnes Canal and saw four barges.  They both attacked a large motor driven one, riddling the pilothouse with cannon and M/G and undoubtedly, seriously damaging it.  Anderson exhausted all of his ammo on the one barge.  Johnson carried on and raked the other three barges with fire, then attacked another cluster of six barges.  Both Pilots then turned for home, coming out over La Panne and experiencing much flak.  At 1305 hours, the Squadron went on an anti-shipping sweep.  They were briefed at Martlesham and left there at 1505 hours, with 222 Squadron leading, followed by 121, 331, and 403 Squadron all at sea level.  Twenty miles off the Dutch Coast the Wing split up.  403 Squadron, led by F/L Walker, hit the Belgian Coast between Ostend and Blankenbarge and followed the Coast North flying at 800 feet.  Passing Seebrugge very heavy flak was encountered, one piece hitting the tail of F/L Walker’s aircraft.  Four ships were noted at anchor inside the backwater but the AA fire was too intense to warrant attacking.  Continuing the course North, the Squadron passed Noorderhoofd Holland, then turned 180 degrees and joined up with the balance of the Wing South of Walcheren, then proceeded home at 10,000 feet.

En route back, 10 miles off the Dutch Coast, two ME 109Fs appeared following the Squadron behind and above, swerving from the 9 to the 3 o’clock position.  They then dived to attack but broke away and evidently tangled with the other Squadrons of the Wing.

North Weald reports one armed trawler was attacked and damaged South of Walcheren and two mine sweepers were driven ashore.  One ME 109F was destroyed and one damaged.  F/L Allen of 121 and P/O Beaumont are believed to have landed in occupied territory.  All of our a/c returned undamaged at 1635 hours.  S/L Deere had some trouble with the oleo tail leg with the pressure dropping to 20 pounds and had to turn back with his No. 2 Sgt Murphy.


RCAF        RAF
Officers – Flying        10    2
Officers – Ground Crew    3    1

Airmen – Flying        12
Airmen – Ground Crew    105    32
Total                130    35

Aircraft on Strength        18 Spitfires Mk VB
1 Magister

Operational Flying Time

27 Convoy Patrols    81:45 hours
16 Operational Sweeps    248:40 hours
Total Operational Time    330:25 hours

Non-Operational Time    453:10 hours
783:35 hours
Magister Flying Time        38:30 hours

Total Flying Time for Month    822:05 hours

Casualties for the Month – Nil