Paying homage to Hugh Boland

This blog is all about paying homage to 23 Squadron pilots, navigators, and ground crew if ever someone would share with us memories of erks.

Erks was the nickname affectionately given to ground crew.

Hugh Boland was just a name on Johnny Rivaz’s picture. I have never given second thoughts about this name.


Collection Johnny Rivaz

This is also how I found Eugene Gagnon in 2010. A picture Peter Smith sent me. Peter was a complete stranger.

He has become a dearest friend.

July 1945 Boland

He helped me in my search for Eugene Gagnon and I started writing a blog about a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot and 23 Squadron.

The story is all here and more.

Eugene Gagnon

I wrote more than 250 articles on 23 Squadron because people cared and shared.

I always answer when you write something. I always answer back except once two weeks ago when Dean wrote me the first time.

I just could not understand what he wanted and I forgot to reply.

Now I know what Dean wanted.

He wants to pay homage to Hugh Boland, the quiet and shy navigator…


Am I glad Dean wrote a second time…

More information coming

This picture was taken around July 1945.

A lot of airmen have been identified since 2010.


Collection Johnny Rivaz via Peter Smith


Collection Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

23 Squadron was disbanded in September 1945.


One new face has emerged thanks to Dean and Peter.

Dean is our new contributor to this blog. The story will be told later.

In the meantime meet H.G.A. Boland fourth from the right.

July 1945 Boland

I hope I am right on this one.

Football in the rain Alghero

Contribution from Rich.


Caption on reverse of group photo is “football in the rain Alghero” looks like a team made up from 23 squadron members.


The other photo is of the match which 23 squadron lost 2-3.


I am working through Theo’s collection of photos but most now have no ID to log.


Rich C


Rich also sent me this picture which was taken after the war.

Theo after the war

Tea anyone?

RAF at Alghero

I am no expert, but I know how to look for information.

This is taken from RAF Archives, and can be useful some day.

RAF at Alghero

No.14 (B) Squadron

The squadron arrived at Alghero on the 11th of April 1944. At the time, the squadron was operating the Martin Marauder Mk.I. While at Alghero, they maintained detachments at Grottaglie, Italy, Ghisonnaccia, Corsica and Telergma, Algeria. No.14 (B) Squadron relocated to Grottalie, Italy on the 23rd of September 1944.

No.23 (F) Squadron

The squadron arrived at Alghero on the 7th of December 1943 with their de Havilland Mosquito F.B.Mk.VI’s. While at Alghero, the squadron maintained a detachment at Blida, Algeria. The squadron took up residency at R.A.F. Station Little Snoring, Norfolk effective the 2nd of June 1944.

No.36 (GR) Squadron

The squadron arrived at Reghaia on the 30th of April 1944. While there, they maintained a detachment of Vickers Wellington G.R..Mk.XIV’s at Alghero. The squadron moved to Tarquinia, Italy effective the 18th of September 1944.


No.39 (TB) Squadron

The squadron arrived at Alghero on the 21st of February 1944. No.39 Squadron was flying the Bristol Beaufighter Mk.X. While there, the squadron maintained a detachment at Grottaglie. The squadron moved to Biferno, Italy effective the 15th of July 1944.


No.108 (F) Squadron

The squadron arrived at Hal Far on the 1st of July 1944. While there, it maintained a detachment at Alghero with Bristol Beaufighter Mk.VIf’s. The squadron relocated to Idku, Egypt effective the 26th of July 1944.


No.153 (F) Squadron

The squadron arrived at Reghaia, Algeria on the 22nd of July 1943. While there it maintained a detachment of Bristol Beaufighter Mk.VIf’s. The unit was disbanded on the 5th of September 1944 at Reghaia, Algeria.


No.256 (F) Squadron

This squadron arrived at Luqa, Malta on the 25th of September 1943 with de Havilland Mosquito N.F.Mk.XII’s.

While there the squadron maintained a detachment at Alghero. The squadron moved to La Senia on the 7th of April 1944. The squadron received Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII’s Mk.IX’s the following month. A detachment of Spitfires was sent to Alghero. No.256 (F) Squadron moved its entire operation to Alghero effective the 15th of August 1944. It was short-lived as they moved to Foggia, Italy on the 4th of September 1944.


No.272 (F) Squadron

The squadron arrived at Alghero on the 3rd of February 1944 with their Bristol Beaufighter Mk.VIc’s, Mk.X’s and Mk.XI’s. They moved to Foggia, Italy effective the 15th of September 1944. Incidentally, the Beaufighter Mk.VIc was withdrawn from squadron service during February of 1944.


No.284 (A/SR) Squadron

This squadron arrived at Alghero on the 1st of March 1944 with their Supermarine Walrus air-sea rescue aircraft. The same month the Vickers Warwick ASR Mk.I was introduced into squadron service. No.284 Squadron remained at Alghero until transfer to Elmas, Sardinia effective the 17th of September 1944.


No.458 (GR) Squadron

This R.A.A.F. Coastal Command squadron arrived at Alghero on the 25th of May 1944. At the time, the Aussies were operating the Vickers Wellington G.R.Mk.XIV. The squadron moved to Foggia, Italy effective the 3rd of September 1944.


No.682 (PR) Squadron

This Supermarine Spitfire P.R.Mk.IX-equipped unit arrived at San Severo, Italy on the 8th of December 1943. While there, it maintained a detachment at Alghero. The squadron re-equipped with the P.R.Mk.XIX in September 1944. The squadron was disbanded on the 14th of September 1945.


Way Off Course Redux

New comment about an article I posted.

I think 2nd from right back row is F/O. John William Smith D.F.C. 51068 R.A.F. Age 28. Killed

My grandfather, Howard Kelsey, joined his last squadron – 515 at Little Snoring – after J. Smith was killed. There is a wall plaque in the church at Little Snoring, commemorating the squadron exploits.

RAAF 456 Squadron

23 September 1943

Middle Wallop

Robert Harris group picture RC Harris identification

Richard Craig Harris, Eugene Gagnon’s navigator from December 1944 to May 1945, was with RAAF 456 Squadron on September 23, 1943. He was stationed at Middle Wallop.

John Smith

John Smith