Little Snoring, 1945

This was the first post written on April 5, 2010. The group picture features pilots and navigators of 23 Squadron. It was taken probably in June 1945, but no later than July 1945 since I know Eugene Gagnon, a French-Canadian Mosquito pilot, came back to Quebec.

This is post no. 432.

I don’t believe anyone who finds this blog will read everything in it from the start. My blog was not created to monetise what I write. I don’t monetise the sacrifice of the Fallen or those who came back and relived what they went through during WWII.

The advertisements on this blog is generated by WordPress. It could be distracting sometimes, but that’s how you donate to keep this blog online.

Always feel free to comment because I always reply and help with any request.

Pierre


This could be the start of the amazing story of the airmen of a forgotten squadron in Little Snoring.

Please leave a comment…

Picture taken in 1945 before the squadron was disbanded (Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith)

Source Internet

Squadron 23

No. 23 Squadron formed at Fort Grange, Gosport on 1 Sep 1915 under the command of one of the RAF’s most experienced operational pilots – Captain Louis Strange. After a brief period attempting to counter German airship flights over London, the Squadron moved to France with its FE2Bs initially employed on escort duties. By early 1917, Spad single-seaters had arrived, and were being used on offensive patrols. By the end of the War, the Squadron had converted to Dolphins, and flew these until disbanded at the end of 1919.

On 1 July 1925, No. 23 Squadron reformed at Henlow with Snipes, but these were replaced shortly after with Gloster Gamecocks. In 1931, the Squadron was tasked with carrying out trials on the new Hawker Hart two-seaters, taking the production version, known as Demons, on strength in 1933. It wasn’t until late 1938 that the squadron received its first monoplanes in the form of Blenheims, and these were used as night-fighters in the early days of World War II whilst based at Wittering. In 1941, Havocs replaced the Blenheims, and these were used with great success in the intruder role, until themselves replaced by the Mosquito in mid-1942. At the end of the year, the squadron moved to Malta in support of allied operations in the Mediterranean before returning to the UK in 1944.

In September 1945, the Squadron had disbanded, reforming a year later at Wittering with Mosquito night-fighters. By late 1953, Venom night fighters had joined the Squadron, before Javelin all-weather supersonic fighters replaced these in 1957. In 1964, the Lightning replaced the Javelin, and it was with this classic aircraft that the squadron continued until Phantoms were received in late 1975, this coinciding with a moved to Wattisham in Suffolk. After the Falklands War in 1982, the Squadron occupied Port Stanley airfield until reduced to a Flight of four aircraft in 1988, reforming at Leeming with Tornado F3s. Defence cuts following the end of the Cold War saw the unit disbanded in March 1994. No. 23 Squadron was again reformed, this time as part of the Waddington AEW Wing in 1996, sharing not only the aircraft with the already established No. 8 Squadron, but operational duties in Europe and the Gulf.

The Squadron was officially disbanded on 2 Oct 2009.

This Squadron has been virtually reformed…

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

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Remembering Drummond Edward Chapman

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Lost on November 7, 1941.

Found here…

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/1084273

In memory of
Flight Sergeant
Drummond Edward Chapman
November 7, 1941

Military Service:
Service Number:
R/57927
Force:
Air Force
Unit:
Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 23 Sqdn.

Additional Information:
Son of Clarrisha Isabel Chapman of Brandon, Manitoba.

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Found here…

http://rcafcampborden.blogspot.ca/2013/01/the-times-of-malta-june-23-2011-born.html

September 18 – December 12, 1940
Previously wings ceremony was held in the morning, but under new regulations no training time was to be lost, and future presentations were made in the evening.

Group Captain Roy S. Grandy presented wings and addressed the graduates. He described Clayton Hopton as a “steady young man and a good pilot.”

+(J/3252) Walter Bruce Beat; +(J/3253) Reg White – 418 Sqn., Noranda; +(J/3254 – R/54975) Douglas Byrd Van Buskirk;+(J/3257) Vernon Foster Patterson, Moose Jaw;(J/3258) Ian Anderson March – DFC 410 Sqn., St. John’s, Newfoundland; +(J/3259) Edward Blake Thompson, Toronto; +(J/3260) James Harold Baird, Winnipeg

+(J/3512) Herbert Peter Peters – 414 Sqn. Dieppe DFC, KIA 1943, Edmonton; (J/3515) John Arthur Amos – 414 Sqn. Dieppe; +(J/3519) Joseph Jean Paul Sabourin – DFC 145 Sqn., St. Isidore de Prescott, Ontario

E.J. Elward, Toronto, +William Gordon Walker, Toronto; E.L. Archer; Gordon Wonnacott – 414 Sqn., Edmonton; R.P. Opie, Victoria; E.C. Cox, Montreal; L.W. Humphrey, Sarnia; +William James Philip Gosling, Edmonton; D.V. Wright, Trenton; R.D. Miller, Regina; +Theodore Scribner Bates, Guelph; Jake Robert Woolgar, Edmonton; A.L. Hutchinson, Regina; +(R/57927) Drummond Edward Chapman – 23 Sqn., Vancouver; Alex Wilson, London; Ronald Sydney Cox, Winnipeg; R. Christison, Regina; James Preston – 403 Sqn., St. Catharines; (J/26967) Stanley P. Coolican, Regina; E.L. McCarthy, Moncton; R. Young, Peterborough; E.J. Magwood, Aurthur Burtis McKiel – AFC, Winnipeg; B.Vaughan Player, Ottawa; J. McDiarmid, Winnipeg; G.F. Johnson, Moncton; Andrew Wesley Lockhart (AFC, DFC), Moncton; G.C. Ennis, Biggar, Sask.; Thomas Charles Cooke – DFC 162 Sqn. U-boat attack, AFC), Dauphin, MB; H.R. Morris, Regina

Newfoundland: Ian Anderson March, (J/10431) Gerald (Ged) Marmaduke Winter and Robert Kitchener Hayward – DSO, DFC

RAF: Michael Lloyd O’Grady Warner, London, Eng.

Posted in from:

No. 1 EFTS Malton: Sabourin

No. 3 EFTS Crumlin (Co.2): March, Cooke

No. 5 EFTS

Opie and Cox were navigation officers prior to taking a refresher course at Camp Borden. Opie became Chief Supervisor Officer at No. 2 A.O.S., Edmonton. Cox became chief navigation officer at No. 6 SFTS Dunnville

Found on a WWII forum

http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?10662-Spitfire-7-11-41-Eastbourne/page2http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?10662-Spitfire-7-11-41-Eastbourne/page2

F/Sgt Drummond Edward CHAPMAN – R/57927 (from Vancouver, B.C.), as the pilot of Havoc BD 124 and (on page 738) Sgt John Raymond SULLIVAN – R/72531 (from Vernon, P.E.I.) as the observer.
I’ve as crew member Nr. 3 F/Sgt Douglas J. PARR – 751383; all three on the Runnymede Memorial.

Globe and Mail, 1941/11/12

Royal Canadian Air Force’s 108th casualty list

MISSING AFTER AIR OPERATIONS.

Chapman, Drummond, Sergeant,
Can. R57927, missing. Mrs. E. Chapman
(mother), 65 West 20th Avenue,
Vancouver.

Sullivan, John Raymond, Sergeant,
Can, R72531, missing. Mrs. A,
Sullivan (mother), Verdun, P.E .I.

However, The Times, Tuesday, Dec 16, 1941; pg. 7; Issue 49110; col D

Lists all these 3 names on same List..

Roll of Honour

RAF

Missing Believed Killed on Active Service

Sgt D.J. Parr

RCAF

Missing Believed Killed on Active Service

Sgt D Chapman Sgt J.R. Sullivan

To be continued…

Message from Dai Whittingham

Dai Whittingham wrote me yesterday. He invited me to celebrate the centenary of 23 Squadron’s formation on 1 September 1915.

I wanted to let you know that the No 23 Squadron Association (of which I am Chairman) will be holding a black tie dinner at the Doubletree Hotel in Lincoln, UK, on 5 September to celebrate the Centenary of the Squadron’s formation on 1 Sep 1915.  Our President, Air Chief Marshal Sir William Wratten will be present, as will a number of former Squadron commanders.  If any of your ex-23 readers or family members would like to join us they would be very welcome – we would be especially pleased to hear from any of the Mosquito generation!  The best contact for anyone interested in coming along is Matt Tunaley, who can be reached via matt.tunaley380@mod.uk.

I won’t be able to attend, but I am sending this invitation to my 23 Squadron readers or to family members who would like to join them.

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As a footnote, Dai added this about an exceptional pilot…

On a sad note, the Association was represented at the funeral last week of Flt Lt Alastair Lawson (Alec, as he was known by his colleagues).  I am told that the pages of his logbook recording that he “shot down 1 Ju-88 and 1 He-111, witnessed 1 EA shot down by Flak” are being preserved in a frame with Alastair’s photograph above his favoured spot in his favourite London pub, The Churchill, in Kensington Church Street, London.  It is good to know that his deeds will be brought to the attention of the customers there and, who knows, it may even spark some interest in the Squadron as well as in the man himself.

Exceptional – Redux

Something I wrote in 2012.

***

This is not only about an exceptional night intruder pilot.

It’s about paying homage to all those related to him.

Alec Lawson or Alastair Lawson was just like Eugene Gagnon.

An unknown Mosquito pilot.

Very little information about him on the Internet.  

Alec Lawson: Never took a parachute and always sat on a seat cushion made from the folded engine covers. 

For now that is…

With his nephew Al, who has just shared his uncle’s logbook, we will reach out for people who are related to Alastair Lawson just like Hector Goldie seen on this picture with Alec Lawson.

Courtesy Peter Smith

There are more info about 605 Squadron though… 

Ian sent these after I contacted him.

Courtesy Ian Piper

Courtesy Ian Piper

F/Lt. A. C. Lawson. D.F.C.

‘Alec’ joined the R.A.F., on the 14th August 1939 under the Short Service Commission scheme. In April 1943 he joined 605 Squadron as a Flight Lieutenant and with ‘B’ Flight operated a couple of times at night. Then he was posted to 23 Squadron in June ’43. 23 at this time were intruding from Malta and between June ’43 and Feb ’44, Alec successfully completed 35 sorties with them. He shot down three Huns and became a Flight Commander before returning te England. He was awarded the D.F.C., for this tour of Ops but unfortunately had to relinquish his acting rank of Squadron Leader on return. For the next few months he instrueted at an O.T.U., where he taught future Mosquito pilots all he knew about handling this aircraft (and he knew plenty) and in Nov.’44 he rejoined 605 at Hartford Bridge when they were in the throes of changing over to 2 Group’s night interdiction role. Between that date and the end of the war, he successfully completed a further 30 sorties and was with the Squadron at their disbandment, having acted as Deputy Flight Commander (‘B’ Flight) during this period.

What about Ian Piper…

He wrote a book about 605 Squadron.

And the answers are… Redux

This blog is still alive and well, I am just waiting for someone to find it and contribute.

What follows was written in August 2010.

The original is here.

 

I sent an e-mail to George Stewart this week after posting Monday’s article…

He answered back and he insists I call him George.

I am not the kind of guy to argue with a Mosquito pilot…


George identified most of the airmen on the pictures that Paul Beaudet’s daughter sent me two weeks ago.

Paul Beaudet was George’s navigator on all his 50 missions. They never suffered any injuries.

I would venture to say that they were each other’s good luck charm.

Getting back to the photographs, I first believed that these pictures were taken at Luqa, Malta, but George told me they were taken in Alghero in Sardinia and also in Naples, Italy.

This is the first picture I posted last time.

This is what George Stewart wrote me…

His answers are in blue…

This photo shows my navigator F/O J. R. Paul Beaudet, beside F/L J. (Jackie) Curd, a squadron pilot who flew with his navigator F/S P.H.Devlin.

This photo shows me with F/O A.L. (Al) Berry, a squadron navigator, whose pilot was P/O R. A. (Ron) Neil, both members of the RNZAF.

The other officer on the left side of the photo escapes my memory for now, but I think he was our engineering officer. This shot was taken in Naples, and you can see Mount Vesuvius in the background.

We landed here off the Italian cruiser Garibaldi, which sailed us here from Cagliary, Sardinia, after we found out that the squadron was going back to the U.K., in the spring of 1944.

We sailed from here to Liverpool on the Strathnaver.

The picture shows a few of us in Sassari (Sardinia), a city close to our base at Alghero in Sardinia, (after we did a bit of shopping. I bought a lovely small oil painting, for 800 lire).

In the dark battledress to my right, is F/O Ken Eastwood’s navigator F/L G.T.(Griff) Rogers.

‘Scappa’ W/O.K.V.Rann, a squadron navigator who flew with Lt. J.H.Christie, of the Dutch Airforce, is on my right, and Paul to his right.

 

I’m not sure about the chap in the top picture with his right arm around my navigator Paul, but it may come to me later; it may have been taken a the #1 B.P.D. tent camp in Algiers.

 

Paul Beaudet and the Vesuvius of course.

Al Berry again, likely taken the same day as the photo on page 1, in Naples.

With all these new articles on No. 23 Squadron, I would like to consider myself as being George’s navigator on the Internet…

End ot the original post

Footnote

Please leave comments when you read some of my posts on 23 Squadron. It’s always interesting to hear from people who are interested in 23 Squadron.

Archives

On the right side you see this…

How It Really Started… – Redux

Post 294

This is what I wrote back in April 2010.

Before I will let you read the 6th article I posted on April 10, 2010, I want to show you this comment made by Judy just a few days ago.

Mr. or Ms. Casey D. 

Your effort to return the journal’s to the Gagnon family is commendable, and once done, I’m sure will be appreciated beyond words.  I have compiled extensive information from personal research executed since 1998.  In an effort to gain insight into further expanding my research efforts, I would appreciate communicating with you.  I have included my name and email address in this message.  Please allow me to thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to offer. 

Kind regards … 

At first I was not sure about the authenticity of Judy’s comment. In the world of bloggers we are used to receive many spam messages. This one was much too long not to be investigated on further.

I have learned that comments made on this blog about a Mosquito squadron I knew nothing about before 2010 are there for a reason.

I don’t write to make money though I don’t mind people who write to make a living. I just write so people can find this blog just like Paul Beaudet’s daughter did in 2010.

Paul Beaudet DFC

Paul Beaudet

 In fact it was her daughter who found the blog.

Hi there

Paul Beaudet was my Grandfather.

He did not often talk about his time in the War. Perhaps he did with my Mother and her brothers and sisters.  

Now and then he would recollect to me the Train bombings and what it was like to fly the night missions – what he would see, the cold in the plane, the waiting on something to happen and then the action when it did and how when it was all done they would fly back to the base and hang out.

We have taken his medals and awards and had them framed – a proud reflection of his service.

Paul’s daughter then shared many pictures of her father when he was stationed in Sardinia and then in Little Snoring.

But why did I start writing a blog about a Mosquito squadron I knew nothing about in 2010.

Mosquito 3

George Stewart’s collection

Now you can read what I wrote back in 2010 with some added information and pictures people shared since then…

Marcel Bergeron is 82 and he is not a veteran Mosquito pilot nor is he a war hero.

Marcel went to see someone, a veteran air gunner of No. 425 Alouette squadron. He had learned in the newspaper about that veteran and just knock on his door. He asked for his help in finding more information about Eugène Gagnon. You see Eugène Gagnon was his hero when he was a teenager back in the late 30s. In a sense, Marcel is also a hero because he wanted to keep Eugène’s memory alive.

This is how Marcel and I got to know each other.

Marcel told me this anecdote when we met.

Eugène died in a plane crash in 1947.

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Eugène’s sister had moved to the United States. She came back to Canada where she had lived before. When Eugene died, she supposedly threw away in the garbage all Eugène’s medals and also his precious logbook.

She did not know how valuable they were.

Marcel had kept a few mementoes of his hero. He has his RAF wings and a button with a small compass hidden inside in case he had to parachute over enemy territory. He also has a piece of the jacket Eugène wore when he died on October 21, 1947.

Those mementoes are the most precious things he has of his hero.


Eugène Gagnon DFC

(Courtesy Mario Hains)

Marcel had also his discharge papers.


But Marcel wanted to know more about Eugène’s service in the RAF… and that’s the reason he asked the veteran who, in turn, asked me to help him.

To learn more about this search you will have to read my other blog titled Lest We Forget.

Click here.

This is the article I wrote last year about my search for Eugène Gagnon.