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.
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
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT J A E GAGNON (J27002) RCAF
MOSQUITO MkVI FB – No 23 SQUADRON – RAF LITTLE SNORING
OPERATIONAL SORTIES 1944-1945
Ser Date Aircraft Serial ATD RTB Sortie Details (from 23 Squadron F541)
Mosquito Mk VI
6 Dec PZ178 2055 2320
Unable to pinpoint target due to 10/10 low cloud.
Bombed Meppen a/f 2208hrs at 2500’ – flashes but no further results.
12 Dec PZ178 1756 1946
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.
Paderborn, Lippspringe, Lippstadt.
– strafed train
– claimed damaged. Strafed transport
– claimed damaged and bombed Paderborn.
Patrol area not reached. ASH u/s.
PZ410 2140 2325
PZ410 1905 2345
SW of Diepholz
– claimed 1 locomotive and 1 set of rolling stock damaged.
W of Diepholz
– claimed and railway sidings strafed, and 1 locomotive and 1
set of rolling stock.
RS517 2010 0025
PZ410 1800 2220
RS517 2205 0325
– no activity.
RS517 2325 0325
Light flak from AA at Hopsten.
RS517 0055 0255
Returned early due to bad weather preventing pinpointing of targets.
RS517 2110 2140
– pilot sick.
Note this not included on RCAF final tally.
RS517 2045 0235
A/F lit up but no activity.
RS517 1700 2120
3 A/C patrol with S/L O’Brian and Lt Lignan over N tip of
Specific target Beacon Hyane.
RS608 0025 0500
– patrol curtailed
– petrol shortage.
No. 2021/22 Februay
RS517 1840 0005
– followed ASH contact
– visual showed another Mosquito.
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.
RS517 1925 0135
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.
7/8 March PZ437 2035 0215
Road convoy attacked W of Anklam.
2MT destroyed and 6 damaged.
PZ437 1855 2225
PZ437 1815 2335
Paderborn (bombed) and Gottingen.
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:
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 all claimed 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.
A/C landed JUVINCOURT
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.
Note: see Notes at end of this section.
Ahlhorn, Vechta, Diepholz.
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.
Rechlin, Larz, Burg.
Bombs dropped on latter airfield and flash seen.
No activity seen at Rechlin/Larz.
Incendiaries on Husum but no results seen.
RS517 2040 0010
Stade and Utersen.
Incendiaries dropped on Stade A/F but no results observed
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!
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