Revisiting the Past

This is what I have been doing here on this blog since 2010.

Yesterday someone shared this picture on Facebook.

He took it with his cell phone.

The photo is part of his father’s souvenirs at RAF Tholthorpe. RAF Tholthorpe was where RCAF No. 420 Snowy Owl and RCAF No. 425 Alouettes were stationed. Flight Sergeant John Rawbon was attached to these two Bomber Command’s squadrons. His collection of photos is most impressive.

 

This small photo though really made my day yesterday…

Mosquito PZ313
YP-P

A pilot visited RAF Tholthorpe most probably after VE-Day. I don’t believe it was an emergency landing since RAF Tholthorpe is not anywhere in the vicinity of RAF Little Snoring. Any emergency landing would not have been made at RAF Tholthorpe by a RAF 23 Squadron Mosquito.

This being said who would be visiting after VE-Day RAF Tholthorpe who had the only French-Canadian squadron of the RCAF stationed there?

A French-Canadian Mosquito pilot with RAF 23 Squadron?

Eugène Gagnon DFC

I guess we will never be sure…

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La médaille de l’Assemblée nationale du Québec

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On November 11th, 2016, this medal was awarded posthumously to Joseph Achille Eugène Gagnon who flew 33 operations with RAF 23 Squadron.

Operational record 004 modified

Eugène Gagnon never received any recognition from his hometown of Bromptonville except when he died on October 21, 1947.

Early in 2016 I had received a phone call from Clément Gagnon, a man who was looking for veterans to honour with a medal given by l’Assemblée nationale du Québec. On November 11, 2016, Jacques Gagnon, Eugène’s nephew, received the medal from a member of the National Assembly of Quebec.

When Maxime Laporte, the President of the Société St-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal, mentioned the fact in his presentation of the medal that Eugène Gagnon had flown 33 night operations mostly over German airfields, murmurs were heard from the people attending the commemoration.

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When Jacques Gagnon heard those, he felt a tremendous pride as well as a profound humility when he received the medal.

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Who remembers Eugène Gagnon?

Eugene Gagnoncollection Ghislaine Laporte, Eugène’s fiancée

All the people who have visited this blog since April 2010.

Little Snoring - June or July 19451945

collection Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

All the people who have visited this blog since April 2010, and found relatives who were associated with 23 Squadron like Paul Beaudet’s daughter.

Paul Beaudet group picture

collection Peter Smith

Paul Beaudet who was George Stewart’s navigator.

Paul Beaudet and George Stewart 1

People who had never heard about this French-Canadian Mosquito pilot, immortalized with a caricature done by Pat Rooney.

caricature d'Eugène Gagnon

Who remembers Donald Hepworth Bentley and Sergeant Causeway?

Bentley and Causeway

Theo Griffiths and his son-in-law who has shared all his step-father’s war souvenirs.

Rick Maude and Theodore Griffiths mod

Rick Maude and Theo Griffiths

collection Theo Griffiths

a-flight-23-squadron-naples-10-november-1943-bwcollection Theo Griffiths

Who?

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Post No. 340

Nothing to write about unless you want to share a story and pictures related to 23 Squadron or any other squadrons who flew the Mosquito.

This blog started in 2010 to pay homage to one pilot.

Eugène Gagnon 1940

Eugene Gagnon DFC

A French-Canadian.

Born in Bromptonville, Quebec.

A town where most people forgot about him.

33 operations, most over Germany.

liste des missions

A town where most people forgot about him…

Except this man.

Marcel Bergeron and his Mosquito

It did not stop there…

Reading just a post a day will take you almost one year.

Archives

On the right side you see this…

Trust

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…

Trust!

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

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.