Historical Aircraft

423 Squadron


No. 423 Squadron

Badge: A bald-headed eagle volant

Motto: Quaerimus et petimus (We search and strike)

Authority: King George VI, March 1943

The bald-headed eagle is a powerful bird of prey from the Canadian side of the Atlantic. The motto refers to the squadron’s role as a coastal unit.

Formed as a General Reconnaissance unit at Ohan, Argyll, Scotland on 18 May 1942 as the RCAF’s 21st – sixth and last coastal – squadron formed overseas, the unit flew Sunderland flying boats on convoy escort and anti-sub­marine patrols over the Atlantic shipping routes. When hostilities ended in Europe, there was a need for more long range transport units to support the proposed ‘Tiger Force” in the Pacific, and the squadron was redesignated Transport on 5 June 1945 and began conversion training to Liberator aircraft. The sudden end of the war in the Far East found the squadron still in the early stages of conver­sion training and it was disbanded on 4 September 1945.

Brief Chronology: Formed as No. 423 (GR) Sqn, Ohan, Argyll, Scot. 18 May 42. Redesignated No. 423 (T) Sqn, Castle Archdale, Ferm., N. Ire. 5 Jun 45. Disbanded at Bassingbourn, Cambs., Eng. 4 Sep 45.


  • W/C F.J. Rump (RAF) 18 May 42 -9 Jul 43.
  • W/C L.G.G.J. Archambault 10 Jul 43 -16 Jul 44.
  • W/C P.J. Grant 17 Jul 44 -28 Feb 45.
  • W/C S.R. McMillan 1 Mar 45 -4 Sep 45.

Higher Formations and Squadron Locations

Coastal Command:

No. 15 Group,

  • Oban, Argyll, Scot. 18 May 42 -1 Nov 42.
  • Castle Archdale, Ferm., N. Ire. 2 Nov 42 -4 Jun 45.

Transport Command:

No. 47 Group,

No. 301 Wing,

  • Castle Archdale, Ferm., N. Ire. 5 Jun 45 -7 Aug 45.
  • Bassingbourn, Cambs. 8 Aug 45 -4 Sep 45.

Representative Aircraft (Unit Code AB, 3) (1)

Short Sunderland Mk.III (Jul 42 -May 45)

  • W6000 A W6001 B W6007 G W6008 H W6009 J W6061 K00849 M 00853 K 00867 G OP181 0 OP198 J OWlll S EJ157 K EK583 J ML783 H ML784 L ML883 F NJ182 N NJ183 G NJ184 C NJ185 E NJ186-A NJ187 B

Consolidated Liberator C.Mk.VI & VII (Aug 45)

Operational History: First Mission 23 August 1942, Sunderland W6053 AB-E from Oban with F/L J. Musgrave and crew -13-hour submarine search.

Victories: U-boat: 12 May 1943, Sunderland W6006 3-G from Castle Archdale with F/L J. Musgrave and crew – escort to Convoy HX.237, shared with 2 destroyers (HMCS Drumheller and HMS Lagan) in sinking U-456 in the Western Approaches at 4837N 2239W. 4 August 1943, Sunderland 00859 3-G from Castle Archdale with F/O A.A. Bishop and crew – sank U-489 in the Western Approaches at 6111N 1438W. Shot down by return fire, five of the eleven-man crew were lost; the other six, all wounded, were rescued by a destroyer along with 23 survivors of the submarine. 8 October 1943, Sunderland 00863 3-J from Castle Archdale with F/O A.H. Russell and crew – escort to Convoy SC.143, sank U-610 in the Western Approaches at 5545N 2433W. 24 April 1944, Sunderland 00862 AB-A from Cas­tle Archdale with F/L F.G. Fellows and crew – sank U-311 at 5036N 1836W. 11 September 1944, Sunderland ML825 AB-O from Castle Archdale with FIO J.N. Farren and crew – joined two of HMC Ships, Dunver and Hespeler, in sinking U-484 at 5651N 0804W.

Last Mission: 31 May 1945, Sunderland ML777 AB-F from Castle Archdale with F/L Magor and crew – patrol to the southwest of Ireland.

Summary Sorties: 1392.

  • Operational/Non-operational Flying Hours: 16,27715122.
  • Victories: U-boat: 3 sunk, 2 shared sinkings, 1 damaged; 25 actual submarine, periscope or snorkel sightings, 10 of snorkel smoke, 6 disturbances, swirls or suspicious oil slicks; delivered 201 250-pound depth charges in 26 attacks, an average of 1 attack for every 684 operational hours flown.
  • Casualties:
    • Operational: 6 aircraft; 43 aircrew, of whom 40 were killed or presumed dead, 2 wounded, 1 injured.
    • Non-operational: 14 personnel, of whom 9 were killed, 5 injured.

Honours and Awards: 4 DFC’s, 1 DFM.

Battle Honours:

  • Atlantic 1942-1945.
  • English Channel and North Sea 1944-1945: Normandy 1944. Biscay 1944.

(1) During 1943, aircraft carried single digit “3” as Unit code.