Historical Aircraft

March 1943


Monday, 1 March, 1943

It was bright sun, no cloud and no wind today.  Only a little local flying was carried out as there was haze reported elsewhere.  R76382 F/S Chute is in the hospital with the flu and was also promoted to WO 1st class.

Tuesday, 2 March, 1943

It was dull with a ground mist all day.  No flying was carried out with the exception of a 10-minute air test by F/O Godefroy.  Four new pilots were posted to the Squadron – F/L A.P.W. Richer and F/O T.A. Brannagan from 59 OTU and Sgt N.F. Cottrill (R89961) and Sgt Chevers N.V. (R89962), both from 56 OTU.  Both of the Sergeants proceeded on seven-days of leave before reporting.  Corporal Cassidy and F/S Curry represented the Squadron at the Station Security meeting and LAC Jackson was there for the Echelon.  They were all favourably impressed with the idea.

Wednesday, 3 March, 1943

It was dull again today.  No flying was done except for a patrol by S/L Ford and Sgt Dunbar off of Maidstone at 10,000 feet late in the afternoon.  R112879 AC 1 D.R. Adams was posted back to this Squadron as an AEM after completing his course at Halton; he had been an ACH/GD here.

Thursday, 4 March, 1943

The weather was crisp and bright with up to 8/10ths cloud and a Southerly wind.  Three scrambles and some patrols were flown during the day, all without incident.  J3701 F/O H.C. Godefroy was appointed to the rank of A/F/L, taking over as ‘A’ Flight Commander, succeeding F/L O’Leary P.T. who went missing on 27th February.  F/O W.J. Cameron (J6487) arrived today posted here from 124 Squadron.  Prior to that he had been attached to an experimental flight doing much high flying.

Friday, 5 March, 1943

There was a heavy ground fog all day, with a bit of sun in the afternoon.  No flying was done.  4132A F/S Klaponski F. was posted to RCAF ‘R’ depot, Houghton Green, en route to going back to Canada.  Most of the Squadron joined in a little ‘do’ in celebration of this at a local pub.

Saturday, 6 March, 1943

There was a ground mist all day that cleared somewhat in the afternoon.  F/O Aitken did a short test flight, having trouble landing.  That was the only trip for the day.

Sunday, 7 March, 1943

There was a slight mist in the morning but the remainder of the day was sunny and warm with a slight wind and no cloud.  Eight A/C of the Squadron scrambled to join the Wing in patrolling from Maidstone to Canterbury at 20,000 feet.  All were up from Kenley at 1025 hours and landed at Manston at 1145 hours.  F/O MacDonald and P/O Cumming joined the Squadron at Manston for Rodeo 175.  Rodeo 175: S/L Ford led the Squadron, which, with 402 Squadron, acted as Fourth Fighter Echelon, sweeping from Berck to Gravelines and Calais to Cap Gris Nez at 27,000 -28,000 feet.  A ship, estimated at 3,000 tons, was seen behind the mole in Boulogne harbour.  We crossed the English coast at 13,000 feet.  There were no huns nor any clouds.  The Squadron was airborne at Manston at 1435 and down at Kenley at 1600 hours.  The sections were as follows:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Magwood    S/L Ford    F/O MacDonald    F/O Cameron    F/S Chute    Sgt Hamilton        P/O Cumming    F/O Aitken    P/O Gimbel

977555 AC1 Coupland J. RAF was posted to the Squadron from 164 Squadron Middle Wallop.

Monday, 8 March, 1943

The weather was sunny and crisp with 5/10ths cloud.  Ramrod 40: S/L Ford led eleven A/C of the Squadron, with 402 Squadron, as the first withdrawal support to 60 Fortresses bombing Rennes.  The rendezvous was made perfectly at 1458 in the St. Lo area and 403 Squadron took up position to the starboard and above at about 26,000 feet.  Three or four pairs of FW 190s were seen on the way back to the French coast and one of the Fortresses started losing height and streaming white smoke.  One pair of FWs flew parallel to the Squadron at the same height.  Yellow 1 (F/L Godefroy), was able, without breaking formation, to position himself up-sun of one of the FWs before he attacked.  He saw strikes in the cockpit area and the port cannon exploded.  The 190 rolled over and spun down and F/L Magwood saw it crash into the ground about two-miles from Isigny.  F/O MacDonald saw two FW 190s at three o’clock, at his height and coming in behind his section.  When S/L Ford, leading Red Section broke, the 190s turned away but F/O MacDonald, in a good position, gave a short burst, then followed up with a long burst lasting a few seconds. He saw a huge piece fall off near the cockpit, then the wing fell off and finally he saw a splash in the water.  P/O Gimbel and Sgt Dunbar confirmed seeing the wing come off and the e/a spinning violently down, obviously destroyed.  F/L Magwood and P/O Cumming (Blue 1&2) made an attack on a FW 190, seeing strikes on the fuselage.  The e/a flicked very quickly, pulled into a stall and F/L Magwood had a point-blank shot from 200 yards in to 50 yards.  P/O Cumming followed in with a good burst, seeing strikes on the fuselage and the wing.  P/O Gimbel, Blue 3, saw white smoke from the underside of the e/a’s fuselage, which rolled on its back before diving down steeply.  P/O Lane, Yellow 4, saw an A/C diving at a steep angle at about that time and place which was going through 5,000 feet and pouring black smoke.  F/L Magwood and P/O Cumming shared this as a FW 190 damaged.  F/L Godefroy reported seeing what he believed was a ME 109G because of its rapid rate of climb.  S/L Ford noticed a large volume of smoke from the shore East of Port en Bassin that he believed was caused by some large fire.  He fired at two 190s at long range but could not close in and Sgt Dunbar fired with M/G at a FW 190.  Neither made a claim.  The weather was slightly hazy up to 20,000 feet.  Eleven aircraft were up at 1405 and down at 1545 hours.  The Squadron netted 2 destroyed and 1 damaged for no loss.  The sections were as follows:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Magwood    S/L Ford    F/L Godefroy    P/O Cumming    P/O Dover    Sgt Hamilton        P/O Gimbel    F/O MacDonald    Sgt Miller
Sgt Dunbar        P/O Wozniak
P/O Lane

Tuesday, 9 March, 1943

There was some haze in the morning but overall it was sunny and warm today with only a slight amount of scattered cloud.  Rodeo 177: S/L Ford led the Squadron to Dungeness, reaching 15,000 feet at 15:41 hours and intended to orbit at that point to gain height before crossing.  Hearing of fighting on the other side, the Squadron continued the climb while crossing the Channel and reached Berck at 15:51 hours at the height of 28,000 feet.  They made a large orbit inland to the Northeast and, when some 15 miles from St. Omer, 30 FW 190s came from St. Omer flying Southwest at the same height.  S/L Ford turned head on to the first Squadron and then, seeing many more huns behind them, he climbed 2,000 feet above them and they all dived away towards St. Omer.  They were seen to reform over St. Omer and orbit that area.  The Squadron flew to Boulogne at 30,000 feet and came back at Dungeness at 16,000 feet.  There was no flak and shipping was reported at Boulogne with a 3,000-ton and a 400-ton ship alongside.  Up at 1520 and down at 1655.  The Sections were as follows:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Godefroy    S/L Ford    F/L Magwood
Sgt Uttley    Sgt McGarrigle    P/O Dover
F/O MacDonald        P/O Cumming
P/O Dowding         Sgt Dunbar

Wednesday, 10 March, 1943

The weather was sunny with no cloud and only a little ground mist.  The Squadron was released for the day at 1000 hours to the jubilation of all for it was a much-needed rest.

Thursday, 11 March, 1943

It was alternately dull and sunny with 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud and a light Southwest wind.  The Squadron was scrambled at 1535 hours but there was no incident and all landed at 1650 hours at Tangmere where they spent the night.  The weather had closed in rapidly over the base.  The Sections were as follows:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/O Fowlow    S/L Ford    F/L Godefroy
Sgt Deschamps    P/O Lane    Sgt McGarrigle
P/O Cumming        F/O MacDonald
Sgt Dunbar         Sgt Miller

Friday, 12 March, 1943

The weather was bright and sunny with some haze in the morning.  The Squadron returned from Tangmere at 0805 hours.  It was a busy day of scrambles and defensive patrols in sections or in flights – a total of 26 sorties.  Nothing happened but there was a tense atmosphere all day.  Accident: Sgt Dunbar and Sgt Brown took-off at 1205 hours and landed at Manston at 1235 hours to replenish for a pending operation.  They took-off again with 402 Squadron for a patrol in the Hastings area at 1355 hours.  On take-off, Sgt Brown’s engine cut and he managed to make a belly landing at Acol.  Sgt Brown was unhurt but the aircraft was a Cat ‘B’ Crash.

Saturday, 13 March, 1943

The weather was foggy in the morning but cleared rapidly by noon.  Ramrod 43: S/L Ford led the Squadron which, along with 402 Squadron, acted as high cover to 70 Fortresses bombing Amiens/Longeau marshalling yards.  The English coast was crossed at Dungeness at 1430 hours at 26,000 feet.  The bombers were two minutes late, but the Wing had formed up over them by the time that Dieppe was reached.  The bombers were strung out over 10-15 miles in several formations so 402 Squadron flew in loose fours over and ahead of the leading bombers, while 403 Squadron positioned themselves, also in loose fours, on either side and in front of the second half of the formation and 10 miles behind 402 Squadron.  The formation proceeded SSE after crossing the French coast, passing East of Rouen to Les Andelys where they began a wide turn to port.  Here it was understood that the bombers were recalled and some 20 were reported to be turning back, but the remainder continued by Beauvais to Amiens.  About 12 bombers were seen to bomb Beauvais-Tille aerodrome with hit being seen on the runways.  The Kenley Wing was warned by Controller (S/L Deere) that time was getting short (reference the fuel supply).

The bombers escorted by the Squadron followed the railway to Poix, bombing railway stations en route and, in particular a railway junction.  The whole formation then followed the Somme Valley out, bombing Abbeville/Drucat aerodrome, where direct hits were seen.  About 40/50 bombers were seen out in the Somme estuary area, and it was there that the Wing lost contact with them when they became involved in withdrawal cover actions, but at no time were any of the bombers seen to be in trouble.  Five FW 190s came up from the direction of Rouen at 25,000 feet but did not attack. From then on, the Squadron warded off attacks by 190s in pairs or in threes.  S/L Ford attacked one of the FWs in one of these groups with several persistent bursts of cannon (including SAPI) and M/G, firing from 250 yards and closing to 50 yards.  He saw strikes all over and the whole cockpit was blown off and a gaping hole appeared behind the cockpit.  Bits kept flying off both sides and then there was a big orange explosion in each wing as though the drums had been hit and everything seemed to crumble up.  Half of the starboard wing fell away, and the port wing crumbled away, according to F/O Cameron who was flying behind S/L Ford.  The aircraft turned over sideways and dropped straight down, hardly recognizable.  S/L Ford was awarded 1 FW 190 destroyed.  He had been flying ‘Canadian Pacific’ once again and had fired 200 cannon shells and 800 rounds of M/G.  No cine camera was fitted to the aircraft.  At about this time, Blue Section, in the starboard position was attacked by five FWs from behind.  Blue Section attempted to engage them but the 190s dove away.

F/L Magwood, Blue 1, saw Sgt Dunbar, Blue 4, who had been alternately lagging and catching up, go down in flames in the vicinity of Grandvilliers.  Nothing more was seen or heard of Sgt Dunbar.  FW 190s kept badgering the Squadron all of the way to the French coast with feints towards the bombers but never did they close in.  The French coast was crossed with the bombers at the Somme Estuary at 15,000 feet at about 1530 hours.  Several of these e/a were painted with a brilliant yellow on the nose, going as far back as the wing roots.  The e/a attacked by S/L Ford had light grey wings, greyish roundels, bold black crosses bordered with white and a silver belly.  Near the French coast, P/O Cumming, Blue 3, reported engine failure and asked for an emergency homing.  He evidently decided that he could not make it, so he turned inland and gave a Mayday fixed some miles East of Berck.  This was the last seen or heard of P/O Cumming.  At about the French coast, owing to the shortage of petrol, most of 403 Squadron were sent home by S/L Ford, with the exception of P/O Lane, Red 4, who remained behind with him.  S/L Ford had monetary engine trouble at this time and five FW 190s dived out of the sun from behind and to the port.  S.L Ford broke to the port and P/O Lane to the starboard as the e/a started firing.  A considerable dogfight ensued which required an all-out effort by both to avoid being shot down.  P/O Lane sustained hits on his hood as well as behind and below his cockpit (A/C is Cat ‘A’ damage).  The e/a finally gave up and dived away.  S/L Ford returned to the bombers, saw that they were unengaged and, at about ten miles away from the French coast he joined up with P/O Lane and both of them returned to the base, crossing the English Channel at Hastings.  Of interest were the tactics of one particular e/a that was observed by S/L Ford when the first gaggle approached from the direction of Rouen.  The e/a flew about 3,000 feet above the Squadron, dived down towards the bombers, was chased out of sight and then soon re-appeared at 3,000 feet as before.  This was repeated several times, despite a variety of dodges taken to trap him.  S/L Ford believed that this e/a pilot was exceptionally experienced.  He was very persistent, proved to be a considerable nuisance and appeared to be studying our formation and tactics, making no determined attacks and taking no chances.  Heavy flak was encountered at Dieppe.

F/O Aitken force-landed near Dungeness due to petrol shortage and Sgt Morrow force-landed for the same reason at Winchelson near Rye.  Both A/C were Cat ‘B’ but the pilots were uninjured.  It was Sgt Morrow’s first sweep. After coming to a stop, he told F/L Magwood, his leader, in correct R/T procedure that he was all right.  He then got out of his aircraft and sauntered off with his hands in his pockets.  The wings and tail of his aircraft had been ripped off when he landed under high-tension wires, over a ditch, across a road, through a fence and then through trees that were four inches in diameter.  F/O Cameron landed at Friston, F/O Wozniak at Lyme and F/L Magwood, F/L Godefroy and Sgt McGarrigle at Hawkinge.  Only three of the twelve got back to Kenley.

Enemy casualties 1 FW 190 destroyed by S/L Ford flying ‘Canadian Pacific.’
Our casualties P/O C.G. Cumming and Sgt R. Dunbar missing.  The Section were:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Magwood    S/L Ford    F/L Godefroy
Sgt Morrow    F/O Cameron    Sgt McGarrigle
P/O Cumming    F/O MacDonald    F/O Wozniak
Sgt Dunbar     P/O Lane    F/O Aitken

Sunday, 14 March, 1943

There was a slight haze in the morning but this cleared early with the rest of the day being sunny and warm.  Eleven sorties, all non-operational, were flown in the afternoon.  Accident: F/O Brannagan, on landing at 15:30 hours after conducting air-to-air firing, had a tire burst which caused his A/C to go up on its nose and turn over on to its back.  Although the A/C was a Cat ‘B’, the pilot was uninjured.  The AOC, in ruling on the accident, absolved F/O Brannagan of all blame.

Monday, 15 March, 1943

A heavy fog decreased only slightly around noon.  No flying was done today.  Corporal W.C. Arscott R57775, W/Mech was posted to 424 Squadron and Corporal E.H. Chatterton R72467 WOM was posted in from 424 Squadron in a swap which both had wanted.

Tuesday, 16 March, 1943

Some mist was around in the morning that cleared early, becoming sunny with 1/10th wispy cloud.  Local flying and two uneventful patrols were flown.  With the Hunt Range serviceable, F/O Cameron, F/O Brannagan and P/O Lane had an hour session on the chief single engine types today.

Wednesday, 17 March, 1943

Much fog, lasting the whole day, prevented any A/C from taking-off. One scheduled operation was cancelled.

Thursday, 18 March, 1943

There was some mist in the morning that cleared by the afternoon.  Nine sorties of local flying were carried out as well as one uneventful section scramble to patrol the base, which consisted of F/O Cameron and Sgt Brown.  Up 1700 and down at 1820 hours.

Friday, 19 March, 1943

There was some mist in the morning and 10/10ths cloud all day.  No flying was done.

Saturday, 20 March, 1943

The weather was dull today with 10/10ths cloud.  Three patrols were flown in the afternoon without incident as well as three non-operational sorties.  AC2 A.R. Hepton, AFM, was posted in from 402 Squadron and LAC R. Simpson, AFM, who wanted a posting, went to 402.

Sunday, 21 March, 1943

It was fog down to the ground all day and no flying.  S/L Belton, RCAF Padre, conducted a short service in the dispersal with all the pilots and many of the ground crew attending.  Pictures were taken by RCAF photographers for a War Album being compiled by the RCAF.  Group Captain Fenton DSO DFC was also present.  LAC F.M. Lisk of the Orderly Room and LAC C.M. Adderson AFM, left for repatriation to Canada for aircrew training.

Monday, 22 March, 1943

A heavy mist cleared rapidly in the morning, leaving a bright and sunny day with no cloud.  One flight of six – P/O Dowding, Sgt Hamilton, F/O Aitken, Sgt Uttley, P/O Lane and Sgt Miller, were scrambled at 1845 hours to patrol Maysfield at 15,000 feet.  Nothing at all happened. A Squadron formation flight was done earlier in the afternoon with some other local flying during the day and one patrol at Beachy Head, all with no incident.  A BBC radio programme about Canadians told of the Squadron’s exploits on the 13th of March, much to the amusement of the boys who heard about it later.

Tuesday, 23 March, 1943

There was some mist in the morning, otherwise it was sunny with no cloud today.  Four sections patrolled off of Maidstone and one section, consisting of F/O Fowlow and Sgt Morrow, were scrambled to Maidstone but nothing happened.  Some formation and other local flying were done during the day.  Three RAF personnel were posted out of 3063 Echelon – LACs F.A. Rogers, E. Sharp and C. Smith, all FMEs posted in the Canadianization of the Squadron.

Wednesday, 24 March, 1943

It was sunny with 5/10ths wispy cloud and a fairly strong Easterly wind.  The Squadron was scrambled at 1015 hours and patrolled to the Channel without incident.  All were down by 1110 hours.  Those flying were F/O Fowlow, F/O Cameron, Sgt Morrow, Sgt Deschamps, P/O Dover, Sgt Brown, F/L Magwood and WO Chute.  P/O Lane and P/O Dowding provide fighter cover to troops in an army exercise near Penshurst. The two pilots were not too happy about it, for while they were at the required place at the required time, the troops to be covered didn’t seem to be around.  ‘A’ Flight was scrambled at 1845 hours and landed at 1945 hours – a little ticklish because of the gathering dusk.  Nothing happened, but those scrambled were; S/L Ford, F/O Cameron, W/O Chute, P/O McWilliams, Sgt Uttley and Sgt McGarrigle.  Nine non-operational sorties were made today.

Thursday, 25 March, 1943

It was overcast today with a slight drizzle in the morning.  Rodeo:  S/L Ford led the Squadron which, with 416 Squadron, acted as third fighter echelon in sweeping the Boulogne – St. Omer – Sangette area at 25,000 to 28,000 feet.  The Squadrons rendezvoused at Dungeness after climbing independently through cloud.  We crossed into France North of Boulogne over the cloud and saw the Northolt Wing coming out there.  No e/a were seen and visibility was poor.  Ten A/C were up at 1650 hours and down by 1830 hours.  The Sections were as follows:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Magwood    S/L Ford    F/L Godefroy
F/O Cameron    Sgt Brown    P/O Dowding
F/O Fowlow        F/O Wozniak
P/O Dover         P/O Lane

Nine non-operational sorties were flown.

Friday, 26 March, 1943

The weather was dull and overcast, with 10/10ths cloud, no flying.  The Squadron was released at noon for the rest of the day – a handy break.  WO Hargraves A.V. arrived from 57 OTU for flying duties.  LAC Hyde W. RAF, left on his posting to North Weald for RDF/Mech duties.

Saturday, 27 March, 1943

It was overcast with 10/10ths cloud, some drizzle and a slight wind which, improved in the late afternoon.  The only flying that was done was one short engine test by Sgt Brown.  A movie show of the ‘Zigfield Girl’ was shown in the Wing Pilot’s Room, which helped fill time on a duff day.  Sgt J.E. Abbotts was posted back to the Squadron from AFDU.  He had been with us at Catterick.  LAC Church A.E.H. was promoted to the rank of T/Cpl. Cpl J. McCormick, Armourer, was posted to 419 Squadron.

Sunday, 28 March, 1943

It was bright and sunny with some scattered cloud.  Ramrod 48: W/C Johnson, DFC and Bar, led the Wing which consisted of 416 Squadron and 403 Squadron, to Beachy Head at 26,000 feet at 1230 hours were we joined up with the bombers which orbited right and before setting course for Hastings.  There were 80 plus bomber, which straggled over 10 miles.  When we were 20 miles off of Dieppe, the W/C received instructions from Controller, F/O Tapsell, to contact the bombers and tell them to pancake.  The bombers turned for home and the Kenley Wing swept NE/SW at mid-channel behind the bombers before returning via Beachy Head at 20,000 feet.  There was no cloud over the Channel but in the Dieppe/Rouen area there was 10/10ths cloud at 5,000 feet.  Up at 115 and down at 1330 hours.  The sections were as follows:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Magwood    S/L Ford    F/L Godefroy
Sgt Morrow    P/O McWilliams    Sgt Hamilton
P/O Gimbel    F/O Wozniak    P/O Dowding
Sgt Brown     Sgt Deschamps    P/O Lane

One patrol over Horsham at 15,000 feet and several non-operational sorties were also flown.

Monday, 29 March, 1943

It was crisp and sunny with some scattered cloud.  Circus 277: S/L Ford led the Squadron, along with W/C Johnson and 416 Squadron.  Rendezvous was made with 12 Venturas at Beachy Head who started to climb immediately, contrary to the plan.  The second box of bombers returned after five minutes with the Spitfire Mk V Wing while the first box and the Spitfire Mk IXs carried on, going in and bombing Abbeville from 10,000 feet.  Bursts were seen between the river and the road just to the East of the marshalling yards.  Four FW 190s were seen to take-off from Abbeville aerodrome.  There was moderate to heavy flak that was inaccurate for height over the target and along the Somme Canal.  S/L Ford reported a heavy gun position at M600920 near Lancheres.  Six ‘E’ boats were seen in the Somme Estuary on the way out over Cayeux at 10,000 feet.  The weather over the French half of the Channel and over France was clear of cloud.  Up 1245 and down at 1405 hours.  The Sections:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Magwood    S/L Ford    F/L Godefroy
P/O Dover    Sgt Miller    Sgt Uttley
P/O Gimbel    F/O Fowlow     F/O Wozniak
WO Chute         P/O Dowding

Six non-operational sorties were made during the day.  Twelve RCAF airmen arrived, fresh over from Canada after crossing on the QUEEN ELIZABETH from New York.

Tuesday, 30 March, 1943

Today the weather was variable cloud of 3/10ths to 8/10ths with sunshine.  Recco: F/O Fowlow and Sgt Brown did a weather reconnaissance in the Caen-Cherbourg area, remaining some miles off shore skirting along the coast.  The weather was found to be too good for the operation that was planned.  One section was scrambled to Shoreham at 15,000 feet, while two patrols and many non-op sorties were also flown.  The Squadron anniversary party was held in the Airmen’s Mess and excellent food and ample refreshment provided the proper groundwork for an enjoyable evening.  F/O ‘Bob’ Johnson, the Adjutant, did a great job of getting it all organized and the rest was pretty much as reported by F/L Basil Dean, Press Relations Officer of the RCAF in the following dispatch:

“Members of the RCAF Spitfire Squadron which is commanded by Squadron Leader L.S. Ford, DFC & Bar, of Liverpool, NS, have just celebrated their second anniversary.  The Unit was the first RCAF Squadron to be formed overseas, as distinct from those original Squadrons which came over as complete Units, and was formed in the Spring of 1941.

Now attached to the RCAF Fighter Wing, the Squadron celebrated its second birthday with a banquet which was attended by all Squadron members as well as Group Captain Fenton DFC & DSO, RAF Station Commander and Wing Commander Johnson, DFC & Bar, who recently took over the leadership of the Wing.  Both these officers are members of the RAF.

Squadron Leader Ford, who has commanded the Squadron since last August, first served with it as a Pilot Officer in 1941, and is one of the original members (he flew with Hurricane bomber Squadrons of the RCAF and the RAF during the winter of 1941 and the spring and early summer of 1942).  In his speech at the celebration, he recalled that the Squadron started off in left-over Tomahawks, but was later converted to Spitfires, on which it has carried out all of its operational flying.  The best day’s work it ever did was over Dieppe he said (the Squadron destroyed five enemy aircraft that day and probably destroyed or damaged many others).  ‘As for that day,’ he added, ‘all I can say is Thank God we had ground crews, because they made the job possible. I want to say how much we appreciate the work of the people commonly known to as erks.  Pilots come and pilots go, but erks seem to go on forever.’  Today the Squadron is flying the newest model of the Spitfire and has chalked up many successes since it became part of the RCAF Fighter Wing.”

Wednesday, 31 March, 1943

The weather was sunny in the morning, clouding over in the afternoon with a gusty westerly wind.  Rodeo: S/L Ford led the Squadron which, with 416 Squadron, acted as First Fighter Echelon on Ramrod 47.  Rendezvous was made with 70 Fortresses over Harwich above the cloud at 1105 hours.  The bombers were left 20 miles North of Dunkirk and the Kenley Wing crossed the French coast at 24,000 to 26,000 feet at 1115 hours and orbited Dunkirk, Le Touquet, St. Omer area at heights up to 30,000 feet.  A bounce was attempted on some 15 e/a sighted NE of St. Omer who were at the same height but the enemy would not engage us.  The Wing returned over Dunkirk and Hawkinge.  Up 1035 and down at 1220 hours.  The Sections were as follows:

Blue Section    Red Section    Yellow Section
F/L Magwood    S/L Ford    F/L Godefroy
Sgt Deschamps    P/O Cameron    Sgt McGarrigle
F/O Fowlow     P/O McWilliams     F/O MacDonald
P/O Dover        F/O Aitken

F/O MacDonald returned early due to an oil leak.  Two patrols were done over Horsham at 15,000 feet, and one other sortie, a cannon test, done by F.O Aitken.  Sgt Morrow left on his posting for the Middle East.

403 Squadron Establishment and Flying Times for Month of March 1943

No. of Officers – Flying    16    –
No. of Officers – Ground    4    –
No. of Airmen – Flying     9    –
No. of Airmen – Ground    110    18

Operational Flying Times:     294:05
Non-Operational Flying Times:    133:50
Tiger Moth:        8:20
Total    436:15

Aircraft on Squadron Strength:     13 Spitfire Mk IX
6 Spitfire Mk VB
1 Tiger Moth

Casualties for the Month (2):     P/O C.G. Cumming and Sgt R. Dunbar (Missing)

Enemy Casualties: three (3) FW 190s destroyed One (1) FW 190 damaged