Buzz Beurling

Small world!

Eugène Gagnon’s nephew gave me this…

It’s taken from these pages of the book Hero: The Buzz Beurling Story.

This means Eugène Gagnon and Buzz Beurling knew each other…

This is a book review found on the Internet.

BOOK REVIEW by Stu Simpson

Anyone who claims to be an aviation afficianado in Canada had better know who George Beurling is. For those who don’t know (and shame on you for it) Beurling was Canada’s highest scoring ace of World War II. It’s somewhat embarrassing that everyone reading this will likely know of Americans Chuck Yeager or Bob Hoover, yet very few will know of one of our own national war heroes. But Brian Nolan has done a very creditable job of trying to remedy such ignorance.

Nolan’s book, published in 1981, chronicles Beurling’s life from beginning to unexpected end and tells the story of a classically tragic figure. It is the story of a very young man who gladly sought, received, and excelled at, the job of airborne assassin. It is also the story of someone who seemed able to do little else.

Beurling grew up in Verdun, Quebec and was smitten with flying very early on in life. He was a typical airport kid who traded odd-job labour for flying lessons. He soloed at age sixteen in the summer of 1938, and with only ninety minutes of solo time was teaching himself aerobatics.

But Beurling was an eternally restless sort, not cut out for the routine of day to day life. He eventually tried to enlist in the RCAF, and was rejected. But he found a home in Britian’s RAF in the early part of the WWII where he became a constant thorn in the side of just about everyone around him, especially his superiors. Beurling was eventually transferred to Malta where in just a few months in the summer of 1942 he shot down nearly thirty German and Italian planes before being shot down himself.

In the section of the book covering Malta, Nolan reveals what a master technician and tactician Beurling really was. He had an almost computer-like ability with numbers, angles, closure rates and other factors essential to air combat. Yet he was sullen and solitary on the ground. And he was still constantly running afoul of his superiors.

Nonetheless, it was in Malta that George Beurling earned his fame, and he would later remark that his time there, though desparate and dangerous, was the best time of his life.

After the war Beurling seems to have done very little more than have a long term affair with a New York socialite (he was married and separated at the time). In early 1948 he signed on with the fledgling Israeli air force as a mercenary pilot. In Rome, in May that year, Beurling was on his third circuit of a refresher flight in a Noorduyn Norseman bush plane. The plane caught fire and crashed and burned, killing Beurling and the check pilot.

My only complaint with Nolan’s biography of Beurling is how the author seems unable to view Beurling through the eyes of a flyer (not surprising since Nolan is not a pilot). Though clearly a book about an aviation figure, “Hero” was not written for an aviation audience.

Nonetheless, “Hero” is a well researched chronicle of an intruiging and little-known Canadian. Nolan has talked with those who knew Beurling at different stages of his life and has woven these anecdotes together with official data to tell a compelling story. He presents Beurling as an endless dichotomy of talent and inner turmoil. If the author is to be believed, George Beurling’s tragic flaw seems to have been his ability to achieve greatness, yet his inabliltiy to accept its accompanying responsibilities.

Click here for the source…

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The original Pat Rooney’s caricature of Gene Gagnon

Eugene Gagnon was immortalized by Pat Rooney.

Pat Rooney made this caricature in 1945.

I have just noticed that.

That’s quite strange since I have been searching a lot for Eugene’s military career.

I have discovered everything about his career in the RCAF but little before or after the war.

Strangely enough someone knew everything about Eugene’s life before and after the war.

He and I met two weeks ago.

I thought I was going to impress him.

Guess what?

New pictures of Eugene Gagnon

Yesterday I visited Bromptonville’s local library.

The librarian allowed me to take a few snap shots of some pictures in the archives where Eugene Gagnon can be seen.

But there is so much more I found out when I met Eugene’s nephew.

I will tell you more next time.

Paying homage to Allan Sticky Murphy

Allan “Sticky” Murphy was Wing Commander of 23 Squadron.

Alan Michael ‘Sticky’ Murphy DSO and Bar, DFC, Croix de Guerre.
‘Sticky’. (Courtesy of Tommy Cushing)

Sticky Murphy was a pilot flying Lysander in 1941. He flew that particular mission in December 1941 and was hit in the neck.

He managed to get back to his base in England.

This is an excerpt of Peter Smith’s manuscript…


The loss of Sticky Murphy on December the 2nd 1944 would stay with the aircrew, and all whose lives he had touched for the rest of their lives.
Whenever they thought of all those lost, their friends that didn’t return, Sticky would be first in their memories.
His love of life and his love for his airmen would be passed down to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren-a better friend and comrade no man had.

His accomplishments were at least those of the 23 Squadrons founder Col Strange, and perhaps what he accomplished with the moonlit Squadrons even more.

He would join, and be joined, by so many of his contemporaries- notably ‘Pic’ Pickard whom had also commanded 161 Squadron after Sticky. Outside the RAF Pickard was well known as Squadron Leader Dickson, the skipper of Wellington, F for Freddie, in the popular Crown Film Unit 1941 production ‘Target for Tonight’. He was also the commander of the legendary Amiens Prison Raid (Operation Jericho) when a British formation of 15 Mosquito twin-engine bombers escorted by eight Typhoon fighters bombed the prison and Gestapo headquarters at Amiens in Northern France.

Sticky’s wife, Jean, would marry again and finally find lasting happiness with her daughter Gail.
Gail would grow up with two loving parents-but knowing that her father was Sticky, and be reminded of it throughout her lifetime by stories that would reach her, of Sticky, his love for his men, and his fearless acts of derring-do’ relayed by his fellow aircrew and their children.

Flight Sergeant Bill Goody

June 6…

This is a good time to remember the valiant ones who served in World War II.

Tim is sharing Bill Goody’s account of a raid on Munich Riem.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Munich Riem Raid – 25 April 1945

The following account was dictated by Bill Goody to Tim Dench in 1977. At the time, Bill was a much loved officer of 97 ATC squadron, and I was doing a school project on the Mosquito.

It was decided that No 23 Squadron being experienced in the low level intruder role, and flying their Mosquito MkVI  aircraft with Merlin 25 engines, would act as “Pathfinders” in that they would navigate precisely to the airfield and go in first to the attack dropping their 80 x 4lb incendiary bombs which would burn with a vivid white light to mark the area where the normally high level Mosquito Mk XXX’’s  with their Merlin 76 engines would make their own low level attacks lobbing onto the incendiaries their 100 gallon drop tanks, 1 to each wing rack, filled with petroleum jelly (Napalm) to effect maximum damage to the parked enemy aircraft.

Mosquito YP-N flown by Flight Sergeant Goody took off from Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk and followed the prescribed route.   The weather was clear with very little high level cloud and the moon was quite full, not ideal weather for low level operations as flak gunners on the ground with light anti aircraft weapons could fire visually at the aircraft.  The crew relied on the superior speed and maneuverability of the Mosquito to combat such defensive actions,  but as these missions where never flown higher than 2,000ft above the ground the risk was always present of the aircraft being flown into the ground or striking trees, pylons or high buildings during this type evasive action.

The purpose of the low level operation was to allow for accurate map reading from ground features, rivers, lakes and railway lines etc, the task being made easier on the Munich Riem raid by good night visibility.  “Gee”, a radar navigation aid was also used but mainly by the Mosquito XXX’s crews who flew high level to the target area.

The Merlin engines of the Mk xxx’s had two stages of super charge and gave their best performance and heights of 10,000ft  to 20,000ft hence this tactic.  The 23 Squadron aeroplanes had single stage super chargers and where fastest at 2,000ft to 5,000ft.

Accordingly the overall plan called for the attacking aircraft to rendezvous at a lake close to Munich and the flight planning allowing for some 5 minutes “stooging” there to allow for discrepancies in times of arriving.   The senior officer of 23 Squadron,  Squadron Leader Griffiths DFC was appointed Master Bomber whose duty required him to mark the target and direct the attacking aircraft during their attacks.

After the short channel crossing, routed to avoid the continental coastal areas still in German hands, the route was straight across Europe to Bavaria and Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers nothing of particular importance that occurred on the 2hr flight other than the signs of frontline fighting still going on, trace machine gun fire, burning buildings etc.  Enemy reaction to the intruders was not as fierce as they had experienced from previous raids prior to this date.   On identifying the small lake the Mosquito pilot reported over the radio to the Master Bomber their arrival by using the coded call sign “cricket 23”.    “Cricket” identifying the squadron and “23” the pilot.  After orbiting the lake for some 7 minutes (YP-N arrived  a few minutes early) the Master Bomber dived over the airfield and dropped the incendiaries on the tall control tower at one end of the large civil combined hanger and control building.

These bombs burnt brightly on the tarmac apron and building roof and “Cricket 23” was called on to follow this first attacking aircraft to mark the tower at the other end of the hanger complex.  Flt. Sgt. Goody carried out this attack from about 150ft and whilst pulling up and away noted further incendiaries bring dropped all along the complex by successive aeroplanes from 23 Squadron.  The Master Bomber then called on the lightened Mosquito fighters to fire their cannon at the sources of the small amount of defensive flak being thrown up by the airfield defence gunners.

Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers vividly the awesome sight of the Mosquito XXX’s lobbing their deadly load of Napalm onto the tarmac apron and the tremendous sheets of flame that erupted from the bursting tanks, resulting in the entire complex and apron flaming up.

During this frenzied activity over an airfield the size of Croydon Aerodrome a pilot called out that he had seen trace shells from an attacking enemy aircraft fired at one of our Mosquitos and after the last Napalm was dropped, Squadron Leader Griffiths instructed all attacking aircraft to go home, which Flt. Sgt. Goody says was acted on by all aircraft without delay!!!!   He recalls the return trip as being without incident, no German intruders awaited the returning aircraft over the home bases in Norfolk as had been the case some months or so previously.

Mosquito YP-N of 23 Squadron landed at Little Snoring at 05.15 the following morning as evidenced by the entry from Flt. Sgt. Goody’s log book, a total flying time of 5 hours, 45 minutes typical of the range of this mission for advanced fighter aircraft.    This type of offensive operation ended when the European fighting finished on 5 May a few weeks later.

The attacking crews heard nothing of the effect of the raid until Frank Ziegler who carried out early interrogations of enemy airmen after the war wrote an article about Col. Steinhoff and the revolutionary ME262, one of the first successful jet aircraft to be evolved.    Col.  Steinhoff related how JV44 the “Squadron of Aces” had achieved numerous victories by shooting down American daylight bombers from Munich Riem until the squadron was put out of business as a result of the Mosquito attack on the night of 25 April.  The unit was commanded by the General Adolph Galland and other Aces flying with it were Lutzow with 120 victories and Col. Steinhoff another veteran fighter leader and author of the ‘Straits of Messina’.

Flt. Sgt. Jacobs (by then a civilian at the end of the war), Flt. Sgt. Goody’s navigator, wrote a letter published by the RAF News which resulted in a reply being passed to him by Col. Steinhoff, by then Gen. Steinhoff of the postwar Luftwaffe, giving the results of the raid as seen from the German viewpoint.  The Cricket 23 crew were pleased to note Gen. Steinhoff’s  “warm greetings from your former adversary”.

Footnote (by Tim Dench 1977)

Many cadets in the ATC (Air Training Corps) may have assembled the plastic model Mosquito kit of the 23 Squadron night fighter version bearing squadron letters YP-A without realising that this aircraft was originally flown by an officer of my squadron no 97 (Croydon) of the Surrey wing ATC.    Flt.Sgt. Goody tells me that he enjoyed the use of this aeroplane as his “own” aircraft for a while whilst flying intruder operations in support of bomber command operations towards the war’s end.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith