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.
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)
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…
If you have any information about 23 Squadron and you wish to share what you know, you can contact me using this form.
Lost on November 7, 1941.
In memory of
Drummond Edward Chapman
November 7, 1941
Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 23 Sqdn.
Son of Clarrisha Isabel Chapman of Brandon, Manitoba.
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
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,
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
Missing Believed Killed on Active Service
Sgt D.J. Parr
Missing Believed Killed on Active Service
Sgt D Chapman Sgt J.R. Sullivan
To be continued…
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
On the right side you see this…