Historical Aircraft

March 1945


Thursday, March 1, 1945

‘A’ party of the echelon left this morning for our new airfield.  The extra pilots and Orderly Room staff are to follow tomorrow.  Three operations were flown today, the first one at 0812 hours a fighter sweep, the second at 0817 hours as cover to 416 Squadron on a dive bombing effort, the third at 1717 hours another fighter sweep,   1st operation 5 sorties, 2nd operation 6 sorties   3rd 11 sorties.

Friday, March 2, 1945

The extra pilots and orderly room staff arrived today at our new airfield this morning after a very uneventful trip from Brussels.  The remaining pilots are to land here after the last sortie today.  Two operations were flown today   the first at 0731 hours a dive bombing effort, the second at 1050 hours a rail interdiction with bombs.

Saturday, March 3, 1945

Today saw everyone settled in to their new quarters, consisting of Nissan Huts, quite an improvement over tents but not quite as good as our last billets.  Tomorrow, some of the pilots intend to pay a visit to Roermond not very far away and perhaps get into Germany itself.  Three operations were flown today   the first at 0645 hours a fighter sweep   6 sorties, 2nd operation at 1253 hours another fighter sweep   12 sorties, and the third at 1631 hours an armed recce   9 sorties.

Sunday, March 4, 1945

About eight pilots, who were off today,went to Roermond and came back with stories of utter desolation and destruction.  They also brought back a Jerry car in running order and sufficient furniture to furnish the pilots dispersal and the billets.  Nil operations today.

Monday, March 5, 1945

After their very successful trip to Roermond yesterday, some of the more adventurous types who were off duty today decided to have a go at Munchin Gladbach in Germany, which by the way has only been captured a few days ago.  They came back later in the day with stories of destruction and desolation that stagger the imagination.  Roermond, they say, is a very good looking city compared to Gladbach.  Nil operations today.

Tuesday, March 6, 1945

The Squadron is now the possessor of four German cars, three of which were brought back from Gladbach yesterday and more furniture for the dispersal and billets, According to the stories of some of our pilots who were at Gladbach yesterday, the destruction to the city has been carried out over a long period of time, probably during the raids by the RAF on the Ruhr Valley which isn’t so very far away.  The odd few Germans civilians who were encountered were still as arrogant as ever.  Nil operations today.

Wednesday, March 7, 1945

Cologne has just been captured according to reports late last night, so nothing would do today but some of the boys who were off duty must visit the place.  So accordingly, a truck and a jeep were organized and the boys set off intending to stay overnight if possible.  Nil operations today.

Thursday, March 8, 1945

Late tonight the boys who went to Cologne yesterday returned to camp looking very dirty and tired, the first Canadian Airmen to enter Cologne.  They spent the day roaming around the city and even got so far as the banks of the Rhine itself.  The night was spent with the Americans in a house without any windows whatsoever.  Nil operations today.

Friday, March 9, 1945

After no flying for the last few days we finally got airborne today, glad of it too, because this loafing around with nothing to do gets us down.  Two operations were flown today the first at 1020 hours; a sweep of the Osnabruck area and the second at 1550 hours an escort mission.  1st operation – 12 sorties with one early return – mechanical.  2nd operation – 12 sorties with 2 early returns mechanical.

Saturday, March 10, 1945

Poor weather made flying impossible today, so we spent the day in the dispersal playing bridge etc., F/O George Nadon and P/O Steve Butte DFC finished their second and first tours of operational flying today.  Nil operations.

Sunday, March 11, 1945

Poor weather today confined our flying to a little practice flying and one operational effort.  Plans are being made for a bit of a do in the mess tonight in honour of Steve Butte and George Nadon.  The Doc, our Sqn MO who is also the Bar Officer of the Mess, promised us we could have a couple of bottles of Scotch and a few bottles of champagne.  One operation was flown today at 1400 hours, a sweep of the Hamm Minden area.  12 sorties were flown.

Monday, March 12, 1945

More practice flying today.  The Squadron is rapidly assuming the name of No. 403 O.T.U. with all this practice flying.  We finished the day off with a patrol of the Nijmegen Goch area at 1805 hours.  It was quite a party last night with some of the boys getting to bed in the wee hours of the morning.  One operation was flown today at 1805 hours – 4 sorties were flown.

Tuesday, March 13, 1945

More and more practice flying, wotta’ life, it’s worse than any O.T.U.  The Adjt’s relief arrived today and we haven’t seen our old Adjt smile so much since he came to the Sqn.  Our new Adjt is to be F/O Jack Bennigan, just new from Canada.  One escort trip completed in the early afternoon.

Wednesday, March 14, 1945

Hazy weather around here, but not bad for flying.  A little formation practice done and two operations flown in the afternoon in the Nordhorn-Munster and Enchede-Munster areas.  The old Adjt, F/O Birchnall, is getting itchy to be on his way home, and is busy getting the new Adjt genned up on the routine.

Thursday, March 15, 1945

Weather lovely – clear and warm.  Two operational trips flown, both escort.  R124758 WO.1 G.V. Boudreau has been reported missing.  He was seen to make a safe forced landing behind the line so here’s hoping he makes it back safely one day.

Friday, March 16, 1945

An old timer with this Squadron, J14030 F/L H.R. Finley, reported for duty to-day.  Finished a tour with us July/44 and is raring to go on his second.  P/O Butte, DFC tour complete, posted to 83 GSU ferry pool, and F/L G.R. Nadon, second tour completed, left today for Bournemouth and repatriation to Canada.  A dull day, no flying carried out.

Saturday, 17 March, 1945

A little rain in the afternoon, cloudy.  One operational escort and one fighter sweep in the Rhine Munster area carried out.  The boys had a real bang up at a mess party to-night, lots of liquor which had been gathered from all over the country the past few weeks, but lots of disappointment when only four nurses showed up.  Consequently all drinking and no dancing.

Sunday, March 18, 1945

A dark cloudy day.  No operational flying carried out.  The CO, S/L Zary, is sporting a new Opal to-day, a green finished German car.  The boys were fortunate to be off ops to-day, as a few hangovers are yet to be seen from the previous night.  Afternoon was spent polishing up their spits.  F/O Birchnall, the old Adjt. left for the U.K. today for repatriation to Canada.

Monday, March 19, 1945

Two operational sweeps carried out in the morning and afternoon, both in the Rhine-Osnabruck area.  Very good flying weather.  CAN.J89351 P/O H.C. Byrd was reported missing within enemy territory.  Details unknown.  Pretty quiet otherwise around the Squadron, a little bridge being played in the off hours.

Tuesday, March 20, 1945

Fair weather, one operational escort to the Haltern area carried out, keeping the boys in the air pretty well all day.  Uneventful.  Doc (F/L) Carsons is around the dispersal with his ‘noc’ needles again and some of the boys will be u/s for a day or two.  Flight Commander ‘Cap’ Foster returned with a really beautiful alpine tan to-day after a skiing holiday in the Alps.

Wednesday, March 21, 1945

A clear day, but no operational flying carried out by the Squadron.  The day was spent in the dispersal playing bridge, and reading.  A baseball team is emerging amongst the pilots, and we have already been challenged by 443 Squadron.  A little ball practice done.

Thursday, March 22, 1945

Lots of aches and pains from the ball practice yesterday, but well worth the effort.  443 Squadron lost to us 13 to 9 in the baseball game this afternoon.  443 stood the beers in the mess at night.  No operations carried out.  Flying pretty well scrubbed to-day with the exception of some practice and tests.

Friday, March 23, 1945

A beautiful clear day.  Three operational trips completed.  Uneventful.  Rather a quiet day around the dispersal, everyone keyed up and wondering when the ‘big push’ at the front will be coming off, which is rumoured very soon.  All the boys are very keen to chalk a few Jerry’s to their credit, and see real action soon.

Saturday, March 24, 1945

The ‘big push’ is on.  Boys were all up very early in the dawn in readiness to take their part when called upon.  A glorious day for all, especially the pilots, who have been waiting so long to see a little action.  No victories scored by us, very little of the enemy seen in the air, which was a little disappointing to most.  Ten operational trips made – weather recce, dive bombing, and armed recce.  Two new pilots, R195315 F/S K.S. Watchorn and R144093 F/S J.C. Pickering reported for duty, and greeted into the Squadron with a hearty welcome.

Sunday, March 25, 1945

Another heavy day of flying, and not much slack time amongst the Squadron.  Five operational trips, all patrols completed.  Uneventful.  F/O F.B. Gillis force landed amongst the paratroopers and gliders across the Rhine, and was seen to land safely.  Word came through that he was safe, and would be returning to the unit.

Monday, March 26, 1945

Flying operations began early dawn, and carried out steadily all day.  Ten operational trips completed, all of which were patrols.  The pilots are really getting the hours packed in these days, with a few near completion of their tours.

Tuesday, March 27, 1945

A very dull and foggy day, no flying carried out in the Squadron.  The day was spent in dispersal checking maps and following the movements of the ground troops across the Rhine.  F/O F.B. Gillis returned to the Squadron, none the worse for his experience of the 25th.

Wednesday, March 28, 1945

J87156 F/O M. Reeves reported missing (believed killed) in a crash in the early afternoon.  Eight operational patrols carried out, tanks, trucks and gun positions attacked.  The boys are really in the groove these days, and giving the Hun everything they’ve got when their turn comes.  Many wagers around the dispersal between the pilots on who will get the first enemy aircraft in this show.

Thursday, March 29, 1945

A very dull day, no flying carried on in the Squadron.  Day was spent around dispersal playing bridge, and reading.  There’s no holding the pilot’s back, and a day like this rather depresses the majority.

Friday, March 30, 1945

Three dive bombing operations carried out on buildings and rail centres.  All very successful.  The Squadron will be moving into Holland tomorrow, and a great rush around the quarters in preparing to move off in the morning.  While the stay at this airfield was short lived, the pilots are all anxious to move in closer to that front line, and glad of the move.

Saturday, 31 March, 1945

The Squadron moved this morning from B.90 to B.78 Airfield, Eindhoven.  Move uneventful.  The new quarters are superb to the Nissan huts, being set up in brick houses, and plenty of room for all.  The squadron dispersal also seems to be more suitable in its layout.  Two dive bombing operations in the Osnabruck area carried out, and one patrol of the Bocholt-Coesfeld-Stadtlohn area.  Can/J8397 F/L E.G. Aitchison reported missing on the first operation.  Pilot stated that he was going to bale out, but was not seen to do so due to low cloud.  Can/J15922 F/L T.S. Todd, also reported missing on the third operation, and was seen to bale out safely and touch down OK

The Squadron remains in its good fighting spirit, and morale good amongst the pilots.

Total number of sorties for the month of March, 1945    – 551

No. 403 Squadron Strength and Flying Times for the month of March 1945.

Officers Flying    20            Officer Ground     2
Airmen Flying        5            Airmen Ground    6
U.S.A. Personnel:    Nil

Our Casualties for Month:
Can/R124758 WO 1. Boudreau G.V. Missing 15-3-45
Can/J89351 P/O H.C. Byrd Missing 19-3-45
Can/J87156 F/O M. Reeves Missing (Believed Killed)
Can/J8387 F/L E.G. Aitchison Missing 31-3-45
Flying Times for Month
Operational Hours        : 804:45
Non Operational Hours    : 107:25
Auster                : Nil
: 912:10

Enemy Casualties for Month:                                 Nil