Little Snoring

Last year, I knew nothing about Eugène Gagnon.

Pat Rooney’s caricature of “Gene”

And certainly nothing about Little Snoring.

Want to know more on the base where Eugene Gagnon flew all his missions except one…?

Click here.

Lest We Forget

Picture courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

If you know any of these aviators, please contact me.

Flight Lieutenant R. C. Harris

I thought my search for Eugène Gagnon was over in April 2010.

Click here to read my article.

Mike Thomas wrote me this weekend and had all of Eugène’s missions.

I only had this official document made in 1945. Eugène wanted to become a transport pilot with the RCAF after the war.

Mike also found this information about Flight Lieutenant R. C. Harris, Eugène’s navigator.

Flying Officer Gagnon was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in February 1945. His co-pilot, Flying Officer R. C. Harris, was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in April 1945. The 2 officers remained pilot and co-pilot on all missions carried out whilst on 23 Squadron.

courtesy George Stewart

In my search for Eugène Gagnon, I always wondered about his navigator especially when Mr. Marcel Bergeron, whose youth hero was Eugène, told me last year in a conversation about Eugène Gagnon that his navigator was from Montreal and was killed.

Mr. Bergeron was not sure about that info or if his memory was playing tricks on him.

Now we know for sure.

Flight Lieutenant R. C. Harris survived the war and was Eugène Gagnon’s navigator for all his 33 missions over Germany.

courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

As I am looking at this picture, I see he was in the R.A.F and not the R.C.A.F.

Flight Lieutenant R. C. Harris was most probably an Englishman and just like Eugène Gagnon a forgotten war hero.

If you know anything about Flight Lieutenant R. C. Harris, please write me a comment below and I will contact you just like I did with Mike Thomas.

I can wait.

I am a very patient person.

Got it all

It took me one year, but I got it all.

Mike Thomas sent me all the info he had on Eugène Gagnon’s missions over Germany.

GAGNON operations

Click above for the PDF document

Great reading of the missions of a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot all but forgotten in his hometown.

courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Now I know for sure who was Eugène’s navigator.

Flying Officer Gagnon was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in February 1945. His co-pilot, Flying Officer R. C. Harris, was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in April 1945. The 2 officers remained pilot and co-pilot on all missions carried out whilst on 23 Squadron.

And I know who he is…

courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

If you know Flight Lieutenant R.C. Harris, please contact me.

Copied notes from PDF


Ser Date Aircraft Serial ATD RTB  Sortie Details (from 23 Squadron F541)


No. 1
5 December
Mosquito Mk VI
take-off 1759
landing 1957

Ops Patrol.
Zuider Zee

No. 2
6 Dec PZ178 2055 2320
Ops Patrol.
Nordhorn, Plantlünne.
Unable to pinpoint target due to 10/10 low cloud.
Bombed Meppen a/f 2208hrs at 2500’ – flashes but no further results.

No. 3
12 Dec PZ178 1756 1946
Ops Patrol.
Unable to complete due to inability to pinpoint target through rain storms and thick haze. Visibility poor
– BBB (brought back bombs) owing to lack of targets.

No. 4
30 December
1847 2230

Ops Patrol.

No. 5
31 December
1830 2240

Ops Patrol.
Paderborn, Lippspringe, Lippstadt.
– strafed train
– claimed damaged. Strafed transport
– claimed damaged and bombed Paderborn.


No. 6
2 January
1815 2200

Ops Patrol.
Bombed airfield.

No. 7
6 Jan
1805 2045

Ops Patrol.
Patrol area not reached. ASH u/s.

No. 8
7 Jan
PZ410 2140 2325

Ops Patrol.

No. 9

13 January

PZ410 1905 2345
Ops Patrol.
SW of Diepholz
train strafed
– claimed 1 locomotive and 1 set of rolling stock damaged.
W of Diepholz
MT strafed
– claimed and railway sidings strafed, and 1 locomotive and 1
set of rolling stock.

No. 10
14/15 January
RS517 2010 0025

Ops Patrol.

No. 11
16 January
PZ410 1800 2220

Ops Patrol.

No. 12
2/3 February
RS517 2205 0325

Ops Patrol.

No. 13
3 Februart
1755 2305

Ops Patrol.
– no activity.

No. 14
7/8 February
RS517 2325 0325

Ops Patrol.
Light flak from AA at Hopsten.

No. 15
11 February
RS517 0055 0255

Ops Patrol.
Returned early due to bad weather preventing pinpointing of targets.

No. 16
13 February
RS517 2110 2140

Ops Patrol.
Mission abandoned
– pilot sick.
Note this not included on RCAF final tally.

No. 17
14/15 February
RS517 2045 0235

Ops Patrol.
A/F lit up but no activity.

No. 18
18 February
RS517 1700 2120

Ops Patrol.
3 A/C patrol with S/L O’Brian and Lt Lignan over N tip of
Specific target Beacon Hyane.
Poor weather
– RTB.

No. 19
20 February
RS608 0025 0500

Ops Patrol.
– patrol curtailed
– petrol shortage.

No. 2021/22 Februay
RS517 1840 0005

Ops Patrol.
– followed ASH contact
– visual showed another Mosquito.

No. 21
25 February
RS517 1745 2235

Intruder-Gardening Ops in support of 6 Group (Oslo Fjord).
The batteries of Arendal and E tip of Sandvigen Island opened up.
Mosquito attacked and silenced each one.
On return an armed ship about 5000 tons opened fire
on them, so they attacked it with a long burst of cannon fire
which silenced the guns. They observed a heavy concentration of fire at the stern of the ship which they claimed damaged.

No. 22
27/28 February
RS517 1925 0135

Ranger Patrol.
Prague area.
Visited several airfields but without any joy.
S of Bierbach attacked a fast moving passenger train twice.
Strikes seen on locomotive and rolling stock on first attack.
Locomotive blew up on second attack. MT strafed W. Bierbach.
Claims 1 locomotive destroyed, 1 set of rolling stock damaged and 1 MT damaged.

No. 23
7/8 March PZ437 2035 0215
Road convoy attacked W of Anklam.
2MT destroyed and 6 damaged.

No. 24
9 March
PZ437 1855 2225


No. 25
14 March
PZ437 1815 2335


No. 26
15 March
1910 2330

Paderborn (bombed) and Gottingen.

No. 27
24/25 March


Sorties are listed as operated from JUVINCOURT (Picardy – N.France) which was a USAAF multi-ac type base from Sep 44. See Wikipedia.
2 sorties listed:

F540 text:

1035 LS
F/L Gagnon and F/O Harris had a very exciting time (in the WELS area)
Apart from dropping 40x4lb incendiaries and 2×4.5 White Recco Flares, they attacked trains and MT and in alclaimed 4 locos and a number of rolling stock, and 3 MTs damaged.

F541 (Detail of Work Carried Out).
Listing headed 24/3/45 JUVINCOURT.
Night Ranger. WELS area.
NW of Ludwigshafen
– MT strafed and strikes seen
– claimed damaged.
– MT strafed and claimed damaged.
In the same area train strafed
– 3 runs and strikes seen on locos and trucks
– claimed damaged.
Incendiaries dropped on town and seen to burn
– large fire on building.
8 Miles W of Tuttlingen more MT strafed
– claimed damaged.
Same line goods train strafed
– strikes seen.
Total claims 4 locos and a number of rolling stock damaged.
3 MT damaged.

No. 28
27 March
1940 2325

Ranger and Anti-Flak Patrol.
River Elbe and Ludwigslust area.
CSU (propellor constant speed unit) became u/s causing vibration in starboard engine which later failed. Stbd drop tank jettisoned and port tank later.
A/C returning to base on one engine
– belly landed at base.
Crew unhurt.
Note: see Notes at end of this section.

No. 29
2/3 April
2155 0145

Intruder Patrol.
Flares dropped on Vechta A/F, flare seen to burn but no activity.
Incendiaries dropped on Diepholz A/F and seen to burn on ground
– no further results observed.

No. 30
4/5 April
2035 0225

Intruder Patrol.
Rechlin, Larz, Burg.
Bombs dropped on latter airfield and flash seen.
No activity seen at Rechlin/Larz.

No. 31
8/9 April
2120 0210

Low Level.
Incendiaries on Husum but no results seen.

No. 32
13/14 April
RS517 2040 0010

Intruder Patrol.
Stade and Utersen.
Incendiaries dropped on Stade A/F but no results observed
10/10 cloud.

No. 33
15/16 Apr PZ157 1940 0115

Bombing Patrol (6 A/C).
Bombs dropped and flashes seen.
Suspect this A/C is PZ175 as no PZ157 recorded as having been built!

No. 34
2/3 May RS517 2115 0100

Bombing Patrol (6 attack A/C + 1 FRESHMAN).
Carried out bombing patrol of Hohn under instructions of S/L Griffiths (Master Bomber duties).
Airfield was bombed with incendiaries which caused good fires. Slight amount of light and heavy flak encountered.
Airfield defences active and strafed with cannon fire. In view of the difficulty in pinpointing the target, the prang seemed quite successful. Airfield later seen clearly in light of fires but no enemy aircraft seen.

From the notes against the FRESHMAN crew accompanying this sortie, it was a ‘Fire Bash’ napalm mission.

Aircraft PZ313 (F/S Bird and F/S Thomson) hit by light flak – damaged rear mainplane inboard of port engine. All A/C RTB and no injuries.

F/L Frank Thomas and co/pilot F/S Halliday were also on this mission.

3 May saw the landings of the last operational sort ies (this mission and a 4 A/C bombing patrol of Flensburg) by 23 Sqn in World War II. Last to land was NT235 F/S P W Goody (pilot) and F/S J
Jacobs (co-pilot) from this Hohn mission – landing at 0125hrs.

Flying Officer Gagnon was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in February 1945. His co-pilot, Flying Officer R C Harris, was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in Apr 1945. The 2 officers remained pilot and co-pilot on all missions carried out whilst on 23 Sqn.

F540 entry 27 March 1945.
F/L Gagnon and FO 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 times and 10 miles from the coast fuel tank unexpectedly jettisoned. R/T was very weak and communication to Coltishall was made through GOODCHILD 37 whose timely aid was very much appreciated. The Mosquito, on one engine, belly landed at Base (Cat. AC) and we are pleased to record that the crew were unhurt.

F540 Entry 12 April 1945.
Today F/L Gagnon was made the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for his very fine show on the night of 27/28 March 1945. Needless to say, there were great celebrations, which finally terminated at 0100 hours, on the Friday morning.

And What Happened to the Mossies He Flew?
Records indicate that F/L Gagnon flew 5 Mossies during his time on 23 Sqn – RS517 being his workhorse.

Their fates were as follows:
Airframe Date Disposal
HR215 23 July 1947 Sold as scrap

PZ175 18 Aug 1950 Ground instructional airframe

PZ178 8 Jul 1945 Broke up in mid-air during ‘Windows’ trials at Docking

PZ179 7 May 1947 Sold (buyer not recorded)

PZ313 17 July 1947 Transferred from 23Sqn to RNZAF as NZ 2353

PZ410 14 Apr 1947 Undercarriage leg jammed – belly landed at Watton (presumably then written off)

PZ437 11 Jun 1945 Transferred to Royal Navy RS517 29 Dec 1953 Sold as scrap from 23 Sqn. What
a life this aircraft had and certainly says something about the inherent strength and build of this type of aircraft.

RS608 1 Oct 1947 Transferred to French Armée de l’Air

Following airframes recorded in F540, but suspect typing error as no such airframes recorded in De Havilland lists:
RS410 (7 Jan 45) – suspect is PZ410
PZ175 (15/16 Apr 45) – suspect is PZ175

Sometimes… It takes time

Got this reply from Mike…

Hello Pierre,
Yes, have details of his ops sorties between 1 Aug 44 and Sep 45, including award of DFC on 12 Apr 45 for his efforts shooting up trains and MT on 24/25 Mar 45. However, before I start listing all his exploits can I do a name check? You call him EUGENE Gagnon – in the Ops Log his initials are always J or J A and he is Canadian. There is also another guy – a Flt Lt E Lignon (Free French) – who could be a Eugene. Can you just confirm which one you want me to check?

I sent this to Mike…

With this…

GAGNON, F/L Joseph Achille Eugene (J27002)

Distinguished Flying Cross

– No.23 Squadron

– Award effective 22 May 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1147/45 dated 13 July 1945.

Born 1921; home in Bromptonville, Quebec.  Enlisted Montreal 7 February 1941.  Commissioned 1942.  Trained at No.1 ITS (graduated 3 July 1941), No.10 EFTS (graduated 21 January 1942) and No.6 SFTS (graduated 24 April 1942).

Since joining his squadron in December 1944, this officer has completed many sorties against a variety of targets.  His determination has been outstanding and his persistent attacks on enemy locomotives, rolling stock and road transport have been most successful.

One night in March 1945, he was detailed on a minelaying mission in a section of the Elbe River.  On the outward journey the starboard engine developed trouble but despite this he went on to accomplish his task in the face of heavy enemy fire.  On the return journey the starboard engine became completely unserviceable.  Height could not be maintained and the aircraft was forced down to 400 feet, becoming extremely difficult to control.  Displaying brilliant airmanship and determination, Flight Lieutenant Gagnon made a successful landing at base without injury to his crew and with but slight damage to the aircraft.  His devotion to duty has been most notable.

I just can’t wait…

Flight Lieutenant Frank Thomas

I have just received this comment…

I am a nephew of Flt Lt Frank Thomas (and cousin of Glyn from whom you have already have a message). Have researched and documented Frank’s war/op sorties and have full copy of original 23 Squadron Ops Record Book (F540) for period 1 Aug 1944 – 25 Sep 1945 if any detail needed.

Rgds Mike

Flight Lieutenant Frank Thomas

courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

This picture is part of this one…

courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith