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.


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…


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

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


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.


Reflecting this morning.

How do you trust someone with very personal information about someone who was dear to you?

On the Internet?

With a complete stranger!

This is what I did back in 2010 and got bitten by it. I won’t go into that story, but only the sequel.

The veteran whom I had trusted was the one who guided me to Marcel Bergeron. Who would not trust a WW II veteran when he asks for your help?

Anyway I got to know Marcel Bergeron who knew Eugene Gagnon whom, at that time, I did not know that Mosquito pilot had ever existed, let alone 23 Squadron. Marcel has been a dear friend since 2010, but not the WW II veteran about whom I never spoke again on my blogs.

Staff Pilot Eugene Gagnon

Eugene Gagnon, staff pilot (Paulson, Manitoba)

So how do you trust someone with very personal information about someone who was dear to you?

On the Internet?

With a complete stranger!

Just like Judy did with me a few days ago…


When I met Marcel in 2010, I knew that Eugene had a nephew. Marcel knew about Jacques Gagnon, but I never got around to push further in that direction. Then in 2012 I told Marcel on the spur of a moment…

I have to meet him.

Glad I did…

Sometimes you meet people in life that betray your trust, but down the road you’ll discover that was the price you had to pay to find wonderful people with wonderful stories to tell like the story of Eugène’s fiancée.

Ghislaine Laporte

Ghislaine Laporte, Eugène’s fiancée

F/O Hugh Harold Hirst Redux

Flying Officer Hugh Harold Hirst died in 1941 and he is not the one who owned the Irvin jacket.

7th May 1941. Catalina AH 536 of 240 Squadron crashed on Lough Erne near Gay Island.

Fl/Lt. Peter Cecil Thomas, F/O Hugh Harold Hirst, P/O Kenneth Bernard Fuller, P/O Denis William Hockey, F/Sgt. William Peebles, Sgt. Joseph Leslie Elwell, Sgt. John Sterling Hesk, Sgt. Henry Ernest Wilson, LAC Henry Atkin Cottam, LAC Leslie Roy Holmes. All RAF.


I did not know what was an Irvin jacket before I started reading a blog about Flight Lieutenant Jenkins who is in the middle of that group of New Zealanders.

magnificent seven

As I wrote last time this is my favourite blog, and I am not the one writing it.

Pablo found my blog about 23 Squadron, and he asked for my help.

How could I refuse? If you have been reading this blog, you know I am always happy to lend a helping hand.

So I got searching and searching for someone whose name on an Irvin jacket was Harry Hirst.

The only one I could find was this airman…


Iverach and Hirst in L/240 a Stranraer operating out of Lough Erne in March 1941. Hirst was to be killed in May 1941 when his Catalina crashed on the flarepath , he is one of the “missing”.

That’s Hugh Harold Hirst on the right. The other airman is Iverach a navigator.

I found the above picture on a WW II forum.

As a footnote to all this, click here for information on Iverach.


As battles intensified in the Atlantic in spring 1941, outdated Stanraers were traded for Consolidated Catalinas to face a new German threat to British supply lines – the enormous German flagship Bismarck.  At 823 feet and crewed by more than 2,000 men, the Bismarck was the largest battleship in European waters. It was up to 240 Squadron to track her down. One evening while returning to base, Iverach spotted the British flagship HMS Hood firing its cannons in the distance. “Having gunnery practice,” the crew figured. They later learned to their horror that they had witnessed the final battle of the Hood, which had been sunk by the Bismarck with all but three hands. The next day, 240 Squadron was shadowing the Bismarck from above the clouds, helping to coordinate an ambush with the Royal Navy.  Iverach tried to snap some pictures but, “… whenever we attempted to move in, the giant ship almost blew us out of the sky, so accurate was her gunnery.”

Within days, the Bismarck was swarmed by Swordfish torpedo bombers, which scored a lucky hit on the ships rudder, fixing her in a wide turn. British battleships sunk the Bismarck on May 27, 1941. John Iverach went on to complete nearly four tours of operation before he retired from the service in 1946 and returned to ‘’Civvy Street’’ as an accountant in Winnipeg. John Iverach, a long-time museum member and volunteer, passed away in 1992.

John Iverach went on to complete nearly four tours of operation!

Little visit to Little Snoring

Courtesy of Peter Smith via Tom Cushing.

Peter had this message to go along…


Tommy did something really special for me in January, he took me up in his plane, from yes you guessed it, see the pictures…

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To really enjoy these pictures, you have to read this I wrote when I first met Peter on the Internet…

Now a little drive down memory lane…


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.

A Flight 23 Squadron Naples 10 November 1943 Redux

Rich Cooper had sent this picture part of Theodore Griffith’s collection.

Donald Hepworth Bentley has to be on this picture if he was with A Flight.

A flight 23 Squadron Naples 10 November 1943 bw

A Flight 23 Squadron
Naples 10 November 1943

Theo Griffiths is the fourth man second row on the left.

Donald Bentley died on November 20, 1943.

photo 2

He has to be there with his navigator Sergeant Causeway.

If you have any information, please feel free to contact me.