R. C. Harris

I found a relative of Eugène Gagnon’s navigator!

Richard Craig Harris.

No. 23 Squadron Aircrew 1945 R. Harris


Amazed to find all this information about 23 Squadron! My father was R. C. Harris – he flew with Eugene Gagnon on 33 missions out of Little Snoring. Sadly my father died young at the age of 51 in Wellington Somerset UK

I finally found a relative after three years.

All this effort writing about 23 Squadron was all worthwhile.


Click below for Eugene’s and R.C. Harris’ missions



Sadly Wing Commander S P Russell Passed Away

Revd Pip Clements just sent this comment…

Sadly Wing Commander S P Russell passed away towards the end of November 2012 at Sibbertoft Manor Nursing Home, Northamptonshire aged 96 years after a very full life running the family foundary business and being Chairman of Leicester Aero Club and regaining his private pilot’s licence at the age of 67 yrs.

He lived for many years at Blakeney, Norfolk. A Service of Thanksgiving, following private cremation, will take place on Thursday 6th December at St. Giles Church, Medbourne, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 8EB at 12 noon.

Revd Pip Clements

Distinguished Flying Cross. 23 April, 1943

Acting Squadron Leader Samuel Philip RUSSELL (73011), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 23 Squadron.

This officer has completed 41 sorties. Whilst serving in the United Kingdom, he participated in numerous attacks on lines of communication in France and Belgium, causing the destruction of seven locomotives. In the Middle East he has executed many sorties, involving attacks on rail and road transport, causing much destruction. In March, 1943, Squadron Leader Russell made a successful attack on a destroyer. Some days later he pressed home a vigorous attack on a medium-sized merchant vessel, setting it on fire. In addition, he destroyed an E boat. This officer has displayed inspiring leadership, great courage and keenness.

Russell was CO of 23 Squadron, as Wing Commander from December 1944 to 1946

Comments from readers

Rest In Peace Wing Commander Russell, we will always be indebted to you and your brave comrades … 605 and 23 shared many friends and fought many battles together, you will never be forgotten.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to your friends and family.

Ian Piper
No 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force

Phil Russell was my last CO at 23 Sqdn, and Phil I’ll miss you, but will likely see you soon at that big squadron mess in the sky. Say Hi to Sticky and the guys. You were the best!!!!! It’ll be nice to fly the Mosquito again!

Cricket 34 ( George Stewart)

George Stewart DFC

George Stewart

Yes, time is running out for us —— but, he made it to 95! Well, he’s an inspiration to me. I wonder when he quit flying? For myself, it’s my 88th coming up Dec. 27, and I’m still in the left hand seat. I wonder if he got to see the Queen dedicating our Bomber Command Memorial? I attach a picture for you. I’m on the right hand side getting ready for that occasion.

Dick Perry, Flt.Lieut. (Retired), 218 Squadron

Richard Perry

Dick Perry

Paying Homage to Flying Officer A. L. (Al) Berry

I have not talked a lot about Al Berry. Last time was August 16, 2010.

Time flies…

Flying Officer A. L. Berry was from New Zeland and he was a navigator with 23 Squadron.

Paul Beaudet’s daughter sent some pictures of Al Berry. Paul Beaudet was George Stewart’s navigator.

Here is the post I wrote on August 16, 2010, to refresh your memory.

Do you have more information on F/O A.L. (Al) Berry?

Flying Officer  A.L. Berry was with the RNZAF.

He was a navigator in No. 23 Squadron of the RAF.

This is what George Stewart told me. He identified him also on the pictures sent to me by Paul Beaudet’s daughter.

Sometimes it only takes one clue to open many doors… So this is the first door.

F/O A.L. (Al) Berry

Are you related to him?

F/O A.L. (Al) Berry on the right, George Stewart is in the middle

This is another picture in Diane’s collection where we see F/O A.L. (Al) Berry.

Looks very much like F/O A.L. (Al) Berry. Look at his insigna. He is a navigator.

Want another picture?

This is what George said about F/O A.L. (Al) Berry when he saw this next picture I sent him…

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.

Could this be his pilot, P/O R. A. (Ron) Neil?

F/O A.L. (Al) Berry and P/O R. A. (Ron) Neil?

Try this montage…

Déjà vu…?

Are you related somehow to these airmen?

If so, write me a comment.

Someone wrote but he is not directly related to Al Berry.

Next time I will introduce you to someone who is doing exactly what I have been doing since 2010.

Paying homage to airmen even though we are not directly related to them.

Hector Goldie and his Navigator: part two

Yesterday was the busiest day on this blog about 23 Squadron.

I am not surprised because Vicki has now all the answers she was looking for and much much more. I think she has been reading some of my other posts as well as her husband and her son.

This is post No. 90  about 23 Squadron, a little known RAF Squadron based at Little Snoring.

Here is Vicki’s father-in-law Hector Goldie with his navigator Norman Conquer.

This is taken from Peter Smith’s manuscript who yesterday sent Vicki everything he had about her father-in-law. Peter does not keep what he found about 23 Squadron to himself, and Peter gave me the green light to write about Hector Goldie and his navigator on this blog using excerpts from his manuscript. This story is amazing because it shows how brave these men were.

Imagine it’s a movie…

In the above picture taken from George Stewart private collection, another 23 Squadron pilot, we see ‘Shorty’ Dawson, Kit Cotter, Sticky Murphy, Baron Goldie, Norman Conquer and Jim Coley.

The Maltese girls’ names are unknown.

You have surely noticed the nicknames given to these airmen. Shorty, Kit , Sticky, Baron. Where does the Baron nickname come from…? I could give you the answer right away, but I would spoiled the ending.

We will start with this first part of Peter’s manuscript he sent me two days ago… I will be posting several articles because of the amount of information on Hector “the Baron” Goldie. 

Norman Conquer was one of the Squadron’s senior Navigators. He and his pilot, Hector “Baron” Goldie, had crewed up at an Operational Training Unit (O.T..U) where they had both ended up before being posted to 23 Squadron in 1943, where upon they had joined the Squadron in Malta, the normal route via the Bay of Biscay and Gibraltar.

However Norman was not a new recruit but he was like many others in the Squadron who had joined up in 1939 and 1940. Unlike many others in the Squadron Norman would be on his first tour of “ops”on the offensive. His path there had been perhaps more difficult than many of the others.

At the outbreak of war he had been all set to follow a different path. He had been already to join the BBC in fact. To be precise the BBC Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, as well as “touring” a small dance band of his own.

In December 1939 he had volunteered at Uxbridge as a pilot, and being a keen type (as most of the Chaps at 23 were) had volunteered for immediate duty, to fly of course, but had been “persuaded” to do one tour as a Navigator. So Norman had promptly found himself part of an RAF Gunnery squad on ground defence in Blackpool, since it would take time for the aircrew receiving centre to call prospective aircrew up for actual flying duties.


Norman Conquer, far right second row “Gunnery Squad”
(Courtesy of Norman Conquer)

While there were some benefits, such as the very hospitable Blackpool landlady who made them feel as though they were part of the family, a real home away from home. However it was not to last and with his unit he was soon at White Waltham in Berkshire „training‟. However this too would only last a couple of months before a posting to Dumfries in Scotland. This was not the way young Conquer envisaged his notable talents being utilised, and he had got to the point, some ten months after joining, where he was almost resigned to the fact that this was “his lot”, when in mid-December he would be informed that he had been posted to No. 10 Initial Training Wing at Scarborough. He was on the move again.

At 10 ITW he would form several close friendships, Norman would later write,

Of the four I was closest too, one failed to survive training, two were lost on operations, and the last was the sole survivor of an entire Squadron destroyed in one raid in the Mediterranean.

Other Squadron members, who had started this early in the war, would all tell a very similar story, by the time the war ended. Normans training would continue in earnest, with in March ‟41 a move to No. 10 Bombing and Gunnery School, where, that’s right “Dumfries”, again. His first experience in a “Harrow” did not fill either him or any of his colleagues with confidence.

An air experience flight in a “Harrow” did not create quite the impression we imagined our instructors wished to convey. I presume the pilot on that occasion had actually flown before-but perhaps he thought we would be more at home if we felt that he too was a beginner…

(Author‟s note: a Handley Page “Harrow” was a twin engine heavy bomber designed and built in the 1930s).

Next time, more on The Baron and Norman Conquer.