Message from Dai Whittingham

Dai Whittingham wrote me yesterday. He invited me to celebrate the centenary of 23 Squadron’s formation on 1 Sep 1915.

I wanted to let you know that the No 23 Squadron Association (of which I am Chairman) will be holding a black tie dinner at the Doubletree Hotel in Lincoln, UK, on 5 September to celebrate the Centenary of the Squadron’s formation on 1 Sep 1915.  Our President, Air Chief Marshal Sir William Wratten will be present, as will a number of former Squadron commanders.  If any of your ex-23 readers or family members would like to join us they would be very welcome – we would be especially pleased to hear from any of the Mosquito generation!  The best contact for anyone interested in coming along is Matt Tunaley, who can be reached via matt.tunaley380@mod.uk.

I won’t be able to attend, but I am sending this invitation to my 23 Squadron readers or to family members who would like to join them.

logo

As a footnote, Dai added this about an exceptional pilot…

On a sad note, the Association was represented at the funeral last week of Flt Lt Alastair Lawson (Alec, as he was known by his colleagues).  I am told that the pages of his logbook recording that he “shot down 1 Ju-88 and 1 He-111, witnessed 1 EA shot down by Flak” are being preserved in a frame with Alastair’s photograph above his favoured spot in his favourite London pub, The Churchill, in Kensington Church Street, London.  It is good to know that his deeds will be brought to the attention of the customers there and, who knows, it may even spark some interest in the Squadron as well as in the man himself.

How important is this model airplane?

Pierre Lagacé:

Last reblog post so you can figure out what’s all this about.

Originally posted on My Forgotten Hobby:

Marcel on the balcony

I built this model airplane for Marcel in 2012. I was in a hurry because I wanted to give it as a gift for his 85th birthday.

At that time I knew not that much about how to paint it with the right camouflage.

Who cares about repairing it since the cleaning lady did not handle it properly and painting it correctly?

I do and Marcel does too.

Since 2010, Marcel has been trying to convince people in his hometown to pay homage to Eugene Gagnon who flew 33 missions during WWII flying on a Mosquito. Eugene survived the war, but he died in 1947 in a plane crash outside Windsor Mills, not far away from his hometown of Bromptonville, Quebec.

People go crazy when they see a Mosquito flying today.

But not in Bromptonville, Quebec.

The only Mosquito flying over Bromptonville was this model airplane, and no one noticed…

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My little visit to Marcel

Pierre Lagacé:

Why I got interested again in my forgotten hobby…
Written in September 2014

Originally posted on My Forgotten Hobby:

I visited my old friend Marcel Bergeron last Friday. I had to go to Sherbrooke and I stopped for a few hours to say hello.

Marcel is mostly responsible for all this procrastination on this blog.

This is one more reason. The last model airplane I built that I gave as a gift.

Monogram PA129-200 Mos Mint

I just happened to take a look at it under the TV set with other model airplanes he has.

Lo and behold!

Missing antenna, loose left elevator, bent pitot tube on the tail. Of course this model was made before I knew how the Mosquito of his youth hero looked like when he was flying it with RAF 23 Squadron.

Eugène Gagnon 1940

Eugene Gagnon 1921-1947

So the camouflage is all wrong as well as the decals. So what am I going to do my loyal readers?

You tell me.

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YP-O

Pierre Lagacé:

My favourite hobby

Originally posted on My Forgotten Hobby:

De Havilland Mosquito serial number PZ437 was YP-O.
It was written off March 27, 1945.
Eugene got his DFC when he brought this plane safely to Little Snoring on one engine.

This is what happened according to the official records…

F540 entry 27 March 1945.

F/L Gagnon and F/O Harris were detailed for an Anti-Flak patrol of Elbe River and Ludwigslust area. On the outward journey the CSU became u/s causing vibration of starboard engine, which developed excessively, so course was set for base. Eventually the engine failed completely. Great difficulty was found in maintaining height and at 4000 ft fuel tanks were jettisoned but only starboard drop tank released. Port engine started cutting 90 miles from English coast. This (trying to drop port tank) was repeated four time and 10 miles from the coast fuel tank unexpectedly jettisoned. R/T was very weak and communication to Coltishall was made through GOODCHILD…

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Exceptional – Redux

Something I wrote in 2012.

***

This is not only about an exceptional night intruder pilot.

It’s about paying homage to all those related to him.

Alec Lawson or Alastair Lawson was just like Eugene Gagnon.

An unknown Mosquito pilot.

Very little information about him on the Internet.  

Alec Lawson: Never took a parachute and always sat on a seat cushion made from the folded engine covers. 

For now that is…

With his nephew Al, who has just shared his uncle’s logbook, we will reach out for people who are related to Alastair Lawson just like Hector Goldie seen on this picture with Alec Lawson.

Courtesy Peter Smith

There are more info about 605 Squadron though… 

Ian sent these after I contacted him.

Courtesy Ian Piper

Courtesy Ian Piper

F/Lt. A. C. Lawson. D.F.C.

‘Alec’ joined the R.A.F., on the 14th August 1939 under the Short Service Commission scheme. In April 1943 he joined 605 Squadron as a Flight Lieutenant and with ‘B’ Flight operated a couple of times at night. Then he was posted to 23 Squadron in June ’43. 23 at this time were intruding from Malta and between June ’43 and Feb ’44, Alec successfully completed 35 sorties with them. He shot down three Huns and became a Flight Commander before returning te England. He was awarded the D.F.C., for this tour of Ops but unfortunately had to relinquish his acting rank of Squadron Leader on return. For the next few months he instrueted at an O.T.U., where he taught future Mosquito pilots all he knew about handling this aircraft (and he knew plenty) and in Nov.’44 he rejoined 605 at Hartford Bridge when they were in the throes of changing over to 2 Group’s night interdiction role. Between that date and the end of the war, he successfully completed a further 30 sorties and was with the Squadron at their disbandment, having acted as Deputy Flight Commander (‘B’ Flight) during this period.

What about Ian Piper…

He wrote a book about 605 Squadron.

Alec Lawson or Alastair Lawson – Redux

This is a comment I had received on this blog in 2011.

Hi,
my Uncle Alastair Lawson was a pilot with 23 Squadron in Malta (OC B Flight). He had a Kiwi Navigator F/O Roberston who is still alive AFIK and living in Auckland. Unfortunately my uncle’s eyesight has gone so I cannot show him the photos.

Do you have any other photos of 23 Squadron personnel?

Regards

Al Bowie

Sydney Australia

I have been writing this blog  since 2010 with Peter Smith’s help whose father was Tommy Smith. I had known more and more about 23 Squadron in 2011 but not enough to help this reader.

Information about Alec Lawson were very scarce on the Internet except here on this Webpage.

Johnny Burton: Went to Test Pilots’ School and also to APS at Leconfield.

Chris Capper: Went to Test Pilots’ School and eventually joined de Havilland – I believe he took over John Derry’s work after the crash.

‘Rox’ Roxberry: My pilot for the second two years on the Squadron. Also went to Leconfield and Farnborough and spent a year with the Yanks at Edwards base.

Les de Garis: Also went to Leconfield and each time the weather was unfit for flying we all heard Les’s lecture ‘T.S.C.S. x SIN Angle Off’ again – and again – and again.

Sax Saxby: One of the best pilots on the Squadron, but unfortunately in those days inhibited by the PII ranking.

Monty Mountford: Overcame the PII syndrome and became a Groupie or something. ‘

Chips’ Hunter: Excellent swimmer and diver. A bit hair-raising to fly with – later killed in an air crash.

Iain Dick: Good footballer.

Alec Lawson: Never took a parachute and always sat on a seat cushion made from the folded engine covers.

Dave Spencer: We did OTUs on Canada and England together and he was my pilot for three years until grounded with high tone deafness. Like Jimmy Gill he joined the Equipment Branch.

‘Ferdie’ Fortune: Hit Rox’s tailplane during formation. We then discovered he was half blind in one eye.

Archer: Alec Lawson fell out with him one night in the Mess and chased him back to his room (the last block on the left when looking with your back to the Mess at Gutersloh). Archer hid round the corner in his room and locked the door. When Alec couldn’t get in, he fetched his 12 bore and blasted a hole in the door. Luckily Archer was out of the way, but his raincoat was hanging on the door!

‘Willie’ Williams: Spent all his time reading Bradshaw and could tell you the time of almost every train in the UK and all the connections.

Jock Marshall: Received his Croix de Guerre and legion of Honour through the normal post. We celebrated on the beach at Sylt with crates of Guiness left in the edge of the sea to cool.

Jackie Butt.

Doc’ Orrell.

‘Bunny’ Warren.

Not much of a lead… 

But Peter Smith had this picture in his manuscript he sent me about Hector Goldie, Vicki’s father-in-law.

 

The Baron and Alec Lawson, also with 23 Squadron (via Norman Conquer)

Normand Conquer had it in his collection. The Baron was on this picture taken beside someone whose name was Alec Lawson. Alec was Alastair Lawson, Al’s uncle.

Al Bowie has been reading my blog ever since and he wrote a few comments. This morning Al wrote me a personal message about his uncle.