Last Mission: N.F.T. Last Trip With Gene

Robert Harris has shared almost all he had about his father.

This is the last comment Robert made.

Their last flight together was also on the 12th June starting at 16.05 and over by 16.25.  The extract from the log book reads as follows: “N.F.T.  Last trip with Gene”.  

They flew for 20 minutes!

20 minutes… after 33 operations on a Mosquito most over Germany at night.

That’s the last thing Robert shared with me.

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Keeping Jet Fighters Off Berlin?

This was in the draft section of my blog with two more articles. I was waiting to post them because Robert Harris had more to share with us. I have not had any more contact with Robert since last year. I have thus decided to post these as an homage to his father who was Eugene’s navigator for all the 33 operations they flew together as a team.

Post

You can’t make up such a story…

Found in R.C. Harris’ logbook.

KEPT JET FIGHTERS OFF BERLIN

Me-262

me-262 plane

Taken on this Facebook page.

1002961_641550472541574_872905690_n

From Lisa Sharp’s collection

On April 4, 1945, Gene and Dick flew a mission that lasted 5 hours and 50 minutes. WWII was not over yet and danger was always present over Germany even if you were flying a Mosquito.

Gene was flying YP-J. They were on an Intruder Patrol over Rechlin/Larz airfield and then over Burg airfield. Bombs were dropped on latter airfield and flash were seen. No activity seen at Rechlin/Larz.

I wish I had a picture of YP-J with Gene and Dick like I have one with George Stewart and Paul Beaudet.

Paul Beaudet and George Stewart 1

January 1945 to May 1945

These were the operational sorties flown by Eugene Gagnon from January 1945 to May 1945.

caricature d'Eugène Gagnon

Mike Thomas whose uncle was this pilot sent them in 2010.

Flight Lieutenant Thomas

I have inserted the logbook pages which were sent by R.C. Harris’ son last year. Some pages are still missing but you will get a good idea of what kind of missions Gagnon and Harris flew in 1945.

No. 23 Squadron Aircrew 1945 R. Harris

January 1945

January 1945

February 1945

Eugene Gagnon missions February 1945

19 February 1945

25 February 1945

March 1945

Eugene Gagnon missions March 1945

 

1-3-45

15-3-45

On these two pages, entries are similar but are found twice. That’s when Eugene crashed his Mosquito after his mission to Elbe River.

25 March 1945

25 March 1945 (2)

April 1945 and May 1945

Eugene Gagnon missions April 1945

 2 April 1945

2 May 1945

31 December 1944

This is the entry for the fifth mission.

It’s another Intruder mission, but after a 45 minute flight test with a Mosquito equipped with the new ASH radar seen here.

Mosquito with ASH radar

Logbook page…

logbook entry 30 December 1944

This is the Mosquito flown by Flight Lieutenant Tony Marks with Ted Gosling as the navigator.

Eugene would have been flying on a similar type of Mosquito.

ASH Radar notes

This is the scoreboard I posted before on the blog. Johnny Rivaz kept it as a souvenir after the squadron was disbanded.

Operational record final editing

Mission No. 5 is well documented.

Operational record final mission 5

If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.

30 December 1944

This is the entry for mission 4.

R. C. Harris wrote the type of mission: Intruder.

The objective was circling around Guterslöhe airfield (Gütersloh) to attack Ju88 night-fighters stationed there which were coming back low on fuel and short of ammunition after attacking RAF heavies.

logbook entry 30 December 1944

People can’t imagine the courage needed to fly alone in the dark of night over a German airfield on a cold night in December 1944 knowing that the Germans knew you were there circling the airfield like a spider waiting for its prey…

01048 Never Say Die, low res

If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.

December 1944

This is part of what was sent by someone who found my blog about 23 Squadron.Eugene Gagnon missions December 1944

This person was related to this pilot.

Flight Lieutenant Thomas

He found what I had written about Flight Lieutenant Frank Thomas and he liked what he saw.

Click here if you want to see what he saw. 

So he sent me Eugene Gagnon’s operational sorties when he was with 23 Squadron. It was the most precious information I had received. Then someone else found my blog.

Eugene Gagnon’s navigator’s son wrote me. He scanned almost all of his father’s logbook pages so I could post them here.

This is the first mission they did: the Freshman mission.

Mission 1

mission 1

Mission 2

mission 2

But the page with the entry for mission 3 is missing, as well as all the missions in January and February 1945.

Sometimes I think I am taken this story about a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot too seriously.

This is the next logbook page for entries about missions 4 and 5.

logbook entry 30 December 1944

We will take a look at them later on the dates they were flown 69 years ago.

If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.

Third Mission: December 12, 1944 Redux

69 years ago!

I am posting this article I wrote before once more.

This is what happened on December 12, 1944. The information is taken from the ORB of 23 Squadron.

I don’t have the logbook page to go with it. If I get it one day, I will add it here.

Flying Officer J.A.E. Gagnon and Flying Officer R.C. Harris took off at 17h56 for Twente, in Holland, probably to attack the airfield.

December 12 ORB

December 12 ORB Twente

Twente. Unable to complete patrol owing to inability to pinpoint through rain storms and very thick haze. Visibility poor. Brought bombs back owing to lack of targets.

A fun ride… that lasted 1 hour and 50 minutes in rain and haze.

What more does the ORB has for December 12, 1944?

A fight between a pig and a dog!

 December 12 ORB next

It’s a pity we have no pictures…

If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.

Second Mission: December 6, 1944 Redux Post

69 years ago today…

This is what happened on December 6, 1944.

It could have been the last day in the lives of Eugene Gagnon and R.C. Harris.

R.C. Harris wrote in his logbook what occured that day. They flew two times before their second mission over Dortmund-Ems Canal and Meppen in Germany.

No piece of cake mission!

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1944 December 5 Freshman mission

On December 6th, 1944 at 11h25, Eugene was flying an Anson.

Avro Anson

R.C. Harris was acting as an instructor for Flight Sergeants Spender and Halliday, and Sergeant Boland. They were training on the A.S.H radar seen here on this picture of a Mosquito.

Mosquito with ASH radar

Few pictures exist of A.S.H. equipped Mosquitoes.

ASH Radar notes

Eugene had flown a lot of planes in Canada and he was to fly St. Chris that day. the same plane George Stewart flew with his navigator Paul Beaudet on seven missions.

First to check the plane out for 15 minutes.

Mission 2 St. Chris check

Then at 20h55, they took off for Germany where they were coned by 20 searchlights over Dortmund-Ems Canal.

Mission 2 St. Chris

This is St. Chris named after Saint Christopher.

1943-1944_Plane (bike)

George told me.

He also told me something about this plane.

Something few people know.

1943-1944_Plane (bike)

Mosquito Mk VI, PZ181, YP-E

George Stewart’s collection 

Freshman Mission: December 5, 1944 Redux post

69 years ago!

This is what I wrote the first time I started writing this blog in 2010 about 23 Squadron.

Click here. 

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.

Dunnville Eugene Gagnon plaque

23 SQUADRON LITTLE SNORING 5 December 1944

17 h 55 YP-D MOSQUITO VI

F.O GAGNON NAVIGATOR

FRESHMAN INTRUDER. 

BASE. HAISBORO. N. EGMOND. ENKHUIZEN KAMPEN. HARDERWIJK. HOORN. N. EGMOND. BASE.

ST. ELMO’S FIRE OVER ZUIDER ZEE

2 hours

R.C. Harris wrote it all in his logbook!

1944 December 5 Freshman mission

Freshman mission…

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 on nose

George Stewart, 19 years old (1944) 

Third Mission: December 12, 1944

This is what happened on December 12, 1944. The information is taken from the ORB of 23 Squadron.

Flying Officer J.A.E. Gagnon and Flying Officer R.C. Harris took off at 1756 for Twente, Holland, probably to attack the airfield.

December 12 ORB

December 12 ORB Twente

Twente. Unable to complete patrol owing to inability to pinpoint through rain storms and very thick haze. Visibility poor. Brought bombs back owing to lack of targets.

A fun ride… that lasted 1 hour and 50 minutes in rain and haze.

What more does the ORB has for December 12, 1944?

A fight between a pig and a dog!

 December 12 ORB next

It’s a pity we have no pictures…