This is what I wrote the first time I started writing this blog in 2010 about 23 Squadron.
Now, with the help of Robert Harris, this is Eugene Gagnon’s and R.C. Harris’ first mission.
The first mission out of 33.
We have no pictures of that mission but we can easily imagine how they felt the first time on a cold day on December 5th, 1944 at the end of the runway of Little Snoring.
R.C. Harris was an experienced navigator and Eugene Gagnon had his wings since April 1942.
23 SQUADRON LITTLE SNORING 5 December 1944
17 h 55 YP-D MOSQUITO VI
F.O GAGNON NAVIGATOR
BASE. HAISBORO. N. EGMOND. ENKHUIZEN KAMPEN. HARDERWIJK. HOORN. N. EGMOND. BASE.
ST. ELMO’S FIRE OVER ZUIDER ZEE
R.C. Harris wrote it all in his logbook!
That’s what they called the first mission flown by 23 Squadron crews.
Usually this first mission was uneventful and not flown deep into Germany.
However every mission was dangerous. Taking off on a Mosquito had to be done with full power. George Stewart told me he was reaching a take-off speed of 130 mph because the lost of an engine would mean certain death.
33 take-offs and 33 landings. Landing was also tricky and high speed had to be maintained for the same reason as with take-offs.
George should know he flew 50 missions and he had a total of 1000 hours on Mosquitoes throughout his career first as a pilot then as an instructor with Nationalist Chinese pilots who had a hard time to learn how to fly the Mosquito.
George Stewart, 19 years old (1944)