Eugene Gagnon DFC – Mosquito pilot

Unless you are familiar with WW II airplanes, coming across this pilot’s name and the type of plane he flew would not mean much.

You see Eugene Gagnon was a Mosquito pilot.

Eugene Gagnon

If you are familiar with Quebec history, you know why this pilot’s name does not mean much here in Quebec.

You see back in 1939, going to war to defend England was not that popular with the majority of people in Quebec.

England had conquered New France in 1760.

That was quite a long time ago…

In 1940, going to war to defend France was not that popular either.

You see France had abandonned French settlers in New France in 1763.

There was resentment amongst the people in Quebec, both against France and England, and this resentment lingered on, and still does.

So when war broke out in Europe in September 1939, and when France was invaded in May 1940, people here in Quebec were not that concerned. Some were, like Eugene Gagnon, and they enlisted. Eugene enlisted in January 1941. When Eugene Gagnon came back after the war to his hometown in September 1945, he was not a celebrated war hero.

The war was over and people wanted to forget.

And forgot they did, except for one man who wanted to keep Eugene Gagnon’s memories alive.

This man is Marcel Bergeron.

To Marcel, Eugene Gagnon was his hero. In a sense, this is the story of a Mosquito pilot and a teenager back in 1939. Marcel was 12 at that time, Eugene was 18. Eugene died in a plane crash in October 1947. He was flying a Republic Seabee.

The story of Eugene Gagnon DFC is not that well-known, except for a very few who have been reading this blog.

This blog was created especially to link people who want to share information about No. 23 Squadron based at Little Snoring in England.

Unless you are familiar with English airbases in WW II, Little Snoring does not mean much. Little Snoring was the airbase from which Eugene Gagnon flew 33 night sorties, most sorties over Germany.

Unless you are familiar with the kind of missions No. 23 Squadron pilots and navigators flew,  the missions these men flew don’t mean much.

For those who know, well they are the kind of people who read this blog.

Flying at tree top level in total darkness at over 350 mph, over enemy territory, to defend the bombers attacking Germany…

That was their mission: night intruding and flak busting.

The Germans called them Night Bandits!

Eugene Gagnon was not alone with No. 23 Squadron.

Eugène Gagnon

You had men like George Stewart and Paul Beaudet.

Men like Tommy Smith.

Men like Sticky Murphy.

Men like Griff Rogers.

And many others…

Next time, I will tell you all I know about Eugene Gagnon, the Mosquito pilot of No. 23 Squadron based at Little Snoring.

Lest we forget.

Here’s what George has to say about that picture…

Diane, Paul Beaudet’s daughter wrote me Monday.

She sent me pictures George Stewart wanted to share with you.

This was the first one, but there are more.

Click to zoom in…

Diane said this in her e-mail: 

“That picture is the only one that exactly depicts the period, because of the bike etc., that I ever had, and it was lost for over 40 years (I found it amongst my dad’s pictures).”

George wrote Diane an e-mail explaining what this photo represented.  
…Yes, that is YP-E (PZ 181) named ‘St Chris’, in which Paul and I did 7 operations. The setting of this shot is at our dispersal point, across the airfield, and typifies, more than any other, the actual scene of an operational Mosquito at readiness. As for what you see on the tires, they are covered with tarps, between flights, to prevent engine, and hydraulic fluids leaking on them, and rotting the natural rubber used at that time. 
Looking at this picture, you feel you’re almost in Little Snoring in the fall of 1944.