De Havilland Mosquito Mk VI serial number PZ187

I never got around to post this on my blog.

What is PZ187?

This is PZ187.

YP-E St. Chris

A famous De Havilland Mosquito Mk VI flown by some famous pilots!

George Stewart flew Mosquito Mk VI serial number PZ187.

George Stewart DFC

Tommy Smith flew PZ187.

Tommy Smith

Eugene Gagnon flew PZ187.

Eugene Gagnon

These are some notes taken from the 23 Squadron diaries of Tommy Smith shot down on January 16, 1945.

01048 Never Say Die, low res

23 Squadron

August 31, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator Cockayne
Mosquito PZ172
Fresher Ops: Zuider Zee
Round trip: Hoorne-Harderwjick-Urk- Hoorne-LF& SL from Hoorne

September 1, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator Cockayne
Mosquito PZ315
Strafe patrol:
Weser Elbe canal, Hannover-Magdeburg
Rly, Schoningen-Hildesheim: Barges hit at Hannover, Braunschweig

September 11, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR215
Patrol:
Guissen & Lippe airfields, no activity. Strikes on goods trucks at Koblenz, Limburg, Guissen yards

September 12, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ187
Patrol: Stuttgart/Ectodingen A/F activity at Boblingen. Strikes on goods trucks at Kaisers Lautern yard

September 14
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ172
Daylight Escort at 20000ft.-fortress on Dutch coast.

September 19
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ334
Patrol: Achmer A/F No activity retired early. Bad visibility & no R/T

September 26
HR215 Patrol: Kitzingen A/F Turned back at Moselle. No pinpoints rad fog

September 28
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ187
Patrol:

Handorf A/F no activity. Low stratus. Spoof raid to
Terschelling, 22000ft.

September 29
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ187
Patrol:
Kolitzheim & Gerolshofen A/F’s
no activity

October 2, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ187
Patrol:
Hagenow A/F
no activity. Train hit SW of Hagenow, 3 trains, and 1 engine Hagenow junction. Train & engine hit S of Luneburg

October 15, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR217
Patrol: Sylt A/F.
no activity.

October.19, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR217
Patrol:
Biblis A/F.
no activity 2x500Ib.
Bombs on A/F

October.26, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR217
Patrol:
Gutersloh A/F

No activity.
Attacked motor convoy at Delde on autobahn, 8 vehicles, 1 left burning

October.29, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR217
Patrol
Stade A/F no activity

October.30, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneEscape photographs taken-moustaches shaved off-except Sammy’s

October.31, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ183
NFT and film unit co-op

October.31, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ183
Patrol: Munich/Schleisheim A/F
no activity 3 trains damaged: Aalen, Heilbrohn, Worms

November .2, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR215
Patrol:
Fritzlar A/F
no activity tarmac strafed strikes on hangar

November.4, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR217
Recalled from ops: struck birds taking off.

November.6, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR215
Patrol:
Ardorf, Marx, and Varel; diverted to Woodbridge
Ardorf active, Marx lit, Varel inactive: no luck Bud Badley does ‘belly-landing’ at Woodbridge.

November 6, 1944
Returned to Snoring with Bud Badley (from Woodbridge)

November 18, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito HR217
Patrol: Plantlunne A/F
no activity

November 21, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator Cockayne
Mosquito PZ231
Patrol: Gutersloh A/F; active one Hun lit up by E.S.N’s No contacts

November.25, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ231
Patrol:
Stuttgart/Echterdingen A/F s unident T.E. A/C damaged on G.R. Hailfingen L/G 1 Ju88 damaged on GR. + 2 hangars strafed at Echterdingen A/F Loco & MT hit at Plochingen. Trains hit N. Stuttgart & N. of Karlsruhe

November.27, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ315
Patrol: Ober-Olm A/F
no activity low cloud

November.28, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ315
Spoof raid, 20,000ft.2x500Ib on Bonn (on Gee)

December.3, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ410
A.S.R. off Egmond coast for W/C Murphy

December .5, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito PZ410
Patrol:
Zellhousen A/F, Badenhousen L/G no activity 2 x 500Ib M.C. on Frankfurt/Rhein-Main A/F

December.22, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito RS517
ASH Patrol:
Echterdingen A/F strafed tarmac and buildings + Halfingen L/G strafed train at Heilbronn Hit pyrotechnic store: fireworks still visible 30 miles away

December.23, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito RS517
ASH Patrol:
Saschenheim A/F: not lit very foggy. Just cleared balloons at
Germersheim

December.27, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito RS507
ASH Patrol:
Halfingen L/G &  Stuttgart/Echterdingen A/F s
no activity: thick haze: generator failure

January .13, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator CockayneMosquito YP-A
Operational Intruder:
A/F not lit chased own ‘shadow’ on ASH for 15 mins.

January.14, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator Cockayne
Mosquito YP-M
Opn: intruder
Gutersloh
A/F, A/F lit hangars and tarmac strafed: 1 U/E A/C destroyed

January.16, 1944
Pilot Smith – Navigator Cockayne
Mosquito YP-C
Opn: intruder,
Stendal A/F, not yet returned

01048 Never Say Die, low res

Tommy Smith’s last mission

Very few people know that PZ187 was not in fact PZ187.

dirt

George Stewart told me about it.

How important is this? Probably not that important unless you write a blog about 23 Squadron a little known Mosquito Squadron based at Little Snoring.

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Tommy Smith’s Freshman Mission

Peter Smith sent me this transcript from his father’s war memories after I posted Eugene Gagnon’s first mission.

I always share information people send me with their permission.

This account of a Freshman mission would be the same one Eugene Gagnon would have written after the war.

Eugene Gagnon

Ghislaine Laporte’s collection

He never spoke that much about the war. Eugene would died in a plane crash on October 21, 1947.

numérisation0015

Jacques Gagnon’s collection

Night of 31st August-1st September 1944

As we had completed 4 night X-countries without mishap, we were allowed to do our ‘Fresher Trip’. We went to briefing at 7pm where other members were being given targets for ground strafing of trains etc. Took off at 10.30 after the others were off, and proceeded on the so-called ‘Steep Turn round the Zuider Zee’.

It was almost full moon, with a fresh breeze blowing, so I could fly over the sea at 300ft visually, with the radio altimeter set at 400ft, showing red all the time.

Soon after crossing the coast we passed through the middle of a convoy of coastal tramps, black and rolling in the clear moon-track. We droned on and on unable to get a ‘Gee’ fix of any sort, and relying entirely on the course being right. I was a bit uneasy about this, as the navigator had unthinkingly computed all courses and times for 2000ft! Three minutes to ETA off the Dutch coast.

I climbed up straight ahead to 200ft., and there, in the gloom of a line of thunderclouds, was the white line of the coast. My first sight of occupied territory.

I had watched the lightning flashing both in and below this line of cloud, all the way from Norfolk, and but for them would have climbed to 3000ft to ‘dive over’ the coast.

As soon as we began to climb up from the sea, the Hun radio location scanners made its appearance, or rather noise. A loud singing buzz which came and faded, grew and faded, in the radio intercom, as the scanning beam passed over us. At 200ft. we were hanging in the filthy gloom just under an uneven, threatening ceiling of black cloud. I expected to turn South over the coast until the ‘Gee’ fix came into line, then dive over, but the Nav. could get no ‘Gee’, and on seeing water behind the coastline jumped to the conclusion that it was the mouth of the canal at (?) and said ‘turn North’. I was very sceptical. The steady singing announced that we were held in the A.A. beam: the up currents under the bellying cloud threw the Mosquito up and around like a cork, while the lightening flashes half blinded me every few seconds. I was so concerned about keeping right side up and out of the cloud, and worried about where exactly we were on the coast that I’d forgotten to worry about the Hun although we were stooging around just above his coast, being in the beam. We bucketed about, heading north, but immediately saw the promontory with Den Helder at the point, so turned South again, and dived across at 1000ft. doing 300+ mph.

So we were inside, skelping across the black flat land in bright moonlight, the clouds left behind. No lights were visible, nothing but the reflection of the moon running over the straight canals. I varied height ‘as per the book’, and soon the curving edge of the Zuider Zee came into view. We were slightly north of track and made allowance as we headed S.E. across the water. It was calm and bright in the moonlight, with slight broken silvery clouds above. Half a dozen times a little Dutch sailing vessel was silhouetted black against the shimmering moon track. Then the far coast came up. A moment of uncertainty, then we saw the little bulge that was our pinpoint at Harderijk. The houses and quay were clearly visible in the moonlight as we circled, then North to the Polder at Urk.

This time the coast was hard to see as we were coming ‘down-moon’ and the Polder was completely flooded in many places.

The western dyke, running north like an arrow, was a fine pointer, so we turned off for Hoorne, the place where we entered the Zuider Zee.

As we neared the little bay, I turned right over the town, to be sure of hitting the north sea coast correctly, and at once the navigator said ‘Theres’ a searchlight, and its got us.’

I could not see it in the bright moonlight but did not have far to look, for on his words a hail of orange lights whipped past behind the tail and hung in the air, a brilliant cluster, as they receded. The first ‘light flak’ I had encountered and not very pleasant. I dived for the ground, which was plainly visible, and kept right down to 100ft or so, with the Nav. yelling ‘Pull out’. The searchlight soon lost us, and looking behind I could see it probing about, with the orange tracers flying around uselessly with the beam.

We neared the west coast, and the scanning, uncanny singing began, but we reached the sea and dived to 300ft. without incident.

The trip back was tedious, and I was glad to see the Norfolk coast, and hear the landing chatter of aircraft on the R.T.

In the Mess having bacon and egg, we remarked that we’d been fired at on our ‘Freshman Trip’, which evoked ‘cries of shame’. ‘Things must be done.’ ‘Write to the League of Nations. The Hun should know we use that route as a training run!’

Which makes you think. No German aircraft has dared the North Sea crossing to Britain for some months and we stooge around the borders of the Fortress of Europe with impunity (or very nearly).

Since seven or eight crews had done this trip in a fortnight, it was evident Jerry had decided to do something.

First time over Hoorne, we woke him up.

Passing over again in moonlight like day he was all set and woke us up. (Time taken 2 hours.)

Tommy Smith

Peter Smith’s collection

It Just Struck Me!

Click here… 

Someone just wrote a comment.

Tommy Smith was indeed a brave man…he had the courage to allow me to marry his eldest daughter!

Another notable member of 23 squadron was the young Douglas Bader. He lost both his legs after crashing a 23 Squadron Bristol Bulldog during an unauthorised aerobatic display at a civilian aeroclub at Woodley, near Reading, in 1931when only 21 years old.

I have very fond memories of Tommy Smith who was an inspiration to us all.

Richard Benson QC

I had never realized before that Douglas Bader was with 23 Squadron and that Tommy Smith had a daughter. When I was a young kid I knew about Douglas Bader, but nothing about Tommy Smith.

Tommy Smith

Small world.

Day Ranger to Grove

Day Ranger to Grove is the second painting commissioned by Peter Smith who has since 2006 went on a mission to honour all those who served with RAF 23 Squadron, a little known Mosquito Squadron.

 01058 Day Ranger to Grove, low res

Day Ranger to Grove

On 26th September 1944, F/O George Stewart, and his navigator F/O Paul Beaudet flew a Day Ranger with fellow 23 Squadron Pilot F/O D.L,’Bud’ Badley, and his navigator Sgt AA Wilson, to Grove Aerodrome in Denmark, in their FB.VI Mosquito fighter bombers. Arriving abruptly over their target, George spotted a Ju88 sitting by the perimeter track and at once strafed with his four 20mm cannons. He is flying YP-T (HR 201), and Bud, YP-Z (HR 216), seen in the background. Their sudden appearance and departure drew no return fire and, as they raced back to the coast, George couldn’t resist a departing shot at a Freya Radar tower, but got hit by a .303 round in his instrument panel as he flew overhead. Bud, however, received numerous hits on his pass, losing one engine, plus rudder, elevator control and R/T. In a superb display of airmanship, at zero feet, Bud regained control and flew back home to land safely at the emergency airstrip at Woodbridge. George, having plunged into low cloud and therefore lost sight of Bud, was unable to raise him on the R/T and flew on to Little Snoring. George and Paul were awarded DFCs, following their extended operational tour, and Bud an ‘Immediate’ DFC, by W/C ‘Sticky’ Murphy DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, Croix de Guerre and Palm, Commanding Officer of 23 Squadron, RAF. 

Peter Smith first commissioned Never Say Die.

01048 Never Say Die, low res

Never Say Die

What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans. 

Both prints are A3 in size, and numbered, ?/250 in a limited run, they cost £35 and postage is free within UK and standard postal rates outside the UK.

Visit Ivan Berryman Website for more details.

Never Say Die

From Ivan Berryman’s website

This is the title of  a new painting completed earlier this month for Mr Pete Smith of      Northampton. It depicts an heroic action in Mosquito FB.VI RS507, flown by his father In January 1945. My caption for the painting gives just a glimpse of what happened that night:                           

01048 Never Say Die, low res

What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before      striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans.                    

It will never cease to amaze me what incredible people these young men were. Mr      Smith very kindly provided me with a very comprehensive file of the squadron’s activities before and after this incident which offers an uncompromising insight into the daily – and nightly – rigours of a front line Mosquito squadron and its young crews in 1945.                    

I am indebted.

Aren’t we are all indebted to Peter?

01058 Day Ranger to Grove, low res

Imagine

Imagine by clicking here.

Total darkness, even lower, over hostile countries, in late 1944, in winter.

Imagine George Stewart and Paul Beaudet.

Paul Beaudet and George Stewart 1

Imagine Eugene Gagnon and R.C. Harris.

No. 23 Squadron Aircrew 1945 R. Harris

Imagine Theo Griffiths and Eric Maude.

10-11-1943 Naples Theo

Imagine Tommy Smith and Arthur Cockayne.

Never_Say_Die

Imagine what it was like.

Now imagine you are practising bailing out of a Mosquito like Sticky Murphy and Jock Read…

Jock Read and Sticky Murphy

Or having a Chrismas dinner with 23 Squadron…

Xmas Overseas 1943

Just imagine what you are missing if you have not read all the posts on this blog about 23 Squadron.

Want more?

I Got This in the Mail

I got this in the mail yesterday.

Never_Say_Die

I wondered who could have sent it. I did not order it from Ivan Berryman.

Then I found out who send it.

Peter did!

Peter Smith

Never Say Die

This is the title of a new painting completed earlier this month for Mr Pete Smith of Northampton. It depicts an heroic action in Mosquito FB.VI RS507, flown by his father In January 1945. My caption for the painting gives just a glimpse of what happened that night:

What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans.

It will never cease to amaze me what incredible people these young men were. Mr Smith very kindly provided me with a very comprehensive file of the squadron’s activities before and after this incident which offers an uncompromising insight into the daily – and nightly – rigours of a front line Mosquito squadron and its young crews in 1945.

I am indebted.

There is a footnote to the story of this painting. Having completed the original, which measured 36 x 24 inches, it was crated up in a sturdy plywood box for transit to the eager customer. A certain well-known courier company (who shall remain nameless, but let’s just say that their name begins and ends with a ‘T’) promptly lost it! After much ado at my end and head-scratching at theirs, it finally turned up not more than six miles from where it left me – and still my side of the Solent. It was eventually delivered to a very relieved customer, three days late. Fresh underwear please…

On the other hand, another well known courier (who also shall be nameless, but whose name begins with ‘F’ and ends in ‘X’ shipped an even bigger create with another painting from my door to Perth in Australia in under 72 hours. Cue the fanfare and confetti.

Source