Exceptional – Redux

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.

What about Ian Piper…

He wrote a book about 605 Squadron.

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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

Footnote

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.

Eugene’s fiancée – Redux

I am posting this again so Judy will understand where her query about a Mosquito pilot shot down around February 1944 can lead her to. This way she won’t have to read all I wrote about 23 Squadron since 2010, and I won’t have to write a long reply to this last part of one of her messages…

How did you get interested and so knowledgeable about 23 squadron?

Original post

This picture was given to Eugène’s nephew by Eugène’s fiancée.

laporte2 001

Jacques Gagnon has been meeting Ghislaine Laporte and she is now telling him her part of the story behind this Mosquito pilot. I am just waiting for final approval to publish what Jacques wrote about it here.

Meantime, Peter Smith has sent Richard Cooper some of his notes on his father-in-law following Richard’s comment.

My father-in-law is Theodore Griffiths DFC. He was a Mosquito pilot with 23 Squadron and his navigator was a Rick Maude. Any memories copies of photographs would be much appreciated. Theo suffers from Alzeimers and vascular dementia but is still able to recall his time with the squadron.

Richard Cooper 

End of the original post

Since then, Ghislaine Laporte has agreed to publish her story on my blog Souvenirs de guerre.

You can click here to read what I wrote about it.

One day, when time permits, I will translate that story in English so my readers will have a clearer picture of Ghislaine’s story instead of having to use a Web translation.

When time permits because Judy has something to share with us…

How It Really Started… – Redux

Post 294

This is what I wrote back in April 2010.

Before I will let you read the 6th article I posted on April 10, 2010, I want to show you this comment made by Judy just a few days ago.

Mr. or Ms. Casey D. 

Your effort to return the journal’s to the Gagnon family is commendable, and once done, I’m sure will be appreciated beyond words.  I have compiled extensive information from personal research executed since 1998.  In an effort to gain insight into further expanding my research efforts, I would appreciate communicating with you.  I have included my name and email address in this message.  Please allow me to thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to offer. 

Kind regards … 

At first I was not sure about the authenticity of Judy’s comment. In the world of bloggers we are used to receive many spam messages. This one was much too long not to be investigated on further.

I have learned that comments made on this blog about a Mosquito squadron I knew nothing about before 2010 are there for a reason.

I don’t write to make money though I don’t mind people who write to make a living. I just write so people can find this blog just like Paul Beaudet’s daughter did in 2010.

Paul Beaudet DFC

Paul Beaudet

 In fact it was her daughter who found the blog.

Hi there

Paul Beaudet was my Grandfather.

He did not often talk about his time in the War. Perhaps he did with my Mother and her brothers and sisters.  

Now and then he would recollect to me the Train bombings and what it was like to fly the night missions – what he would see, the cold in the plane, the waiting on something to happen and then the action when it did and how when it was all done they would fly back to the base and hang out.

We have taken his medals and awards and had them framed – a proud reflection of his service.

Paul’s daughter then shared many pictures of her father when he was stationed in Sardinia and then in Little Snoring.

But why did I start writing a blog about a Mosquito squadron I knew nothing about in 2010.

Mosquito 3

George Stewart’s collection

Now you can read what I wrote back in 2010 with some added information and pictures people shared since then…

Marcel Bergeron is 82 and he is not a veteran Mosquito pilot nor is he a war hero.

Marcel went to see someone, a veteran air gunner of No. 425 Alouette squadron. He had learned in the newspaper about that veteran and just knock on his door. He asked for his help in finding more information about Eugène Gagnon. You see Eugène Gagnon was his hero when he was a teenager back in the late 30s. In a sense, Marcel is also a hero because he wanted to keep Eugène’s memory alive.

This is how Marcel and I got to know each other.

Marcel told me this anecdote when we met.

Eugène died in a plane crash in 1947.

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Eugène’s sister had moved to the United States. She came back to Canada where she had lived before. When Eugene died, she supposedly threw away in the garbage all Eugène’s medals and also his precious logbook.

She did not know how valuable they were.

Marcel had kept a few mementoes of his hero. He has his RAF wings and a button with a small compass hidden inside in case he had to parachute over enemy territory. He also has a piece of the jacket Eugène wore when he died on October 21, 1947.

Those mementoes are the most precious things he has of his hero.


Eugène Gagnon DFC

(Courtesy Mario Hains)

Marcel had also his discharge papers.


But Marcel wanted to know more about Eugène’s service in the RAF… and that’s the reason he asked the veteran who, in turn, asked me to help him.

To learn more about this search you will have to read my other blog titled Lest We Forget.

Click here.

This is the article I wrote last year about my search for Eugène Gagnon.


26 November 1942 Redux

mosquito_bnf-5

This post was written back in 2010.

I just found the pilot’s name on the same page as Flight Lieutenant Bob Williamson’s name who was shot down over Cognac.

On the night of the 26th, Sgt Hutt and Sgt Cridge were killed in a crash whilst on local flying.

Williamson 1942 28 November ORB

Original post written in 2010.

I got this comment on my blog.

My uncle flew for RAF Squadron 23 and was killed on November 26 1942 in a Mosquito fighter bomber. His name was Duncan Stuart Hutt, RCAF. This was before the move from England. My mother told me that her mother sent packages to the pilots in Malta, but the Wing Commander told her that all pilots that Stuart had flown with in England were KIA.

Source of images

I found these locations of No. 23 Squadron on this Website.

16 May 1938 – 31 May 1940: Wittering
31 May – 12 September 1940: Collyweston
12 September 1940 – 6 August 1942: Ford
12 – 25 September 1940: Detachment to Middle Wallop
6 – 14 August 1942: Manston
14 – 21 August 1942: Bradwell Bay
21 August – 13 October 1942: Manston

13 October – 11 December 1942: Bradwell Bay

11 – 27 December 1942: On way to Malta
27 December 1942 – 7 December 1943: Luqa
3 September – 5 October 1943: Detachment to Signella
5 October – 1 November 1943: Detachment to Gerbini Main
1 November – 7 December 1943: Detachment to Pomigliano
7 December 1943 – 8 May 1944: Alghero
8 – 19 May 1944: Blida
19 May – 2 June 1944: Returning to UK
2 June 1944 – 25 September 1945: Little Snoring

Duncan Stuart Hutt was stationed at Bradwell Bay when he got killed.

I found this video on the Internet about No. 23 Squadron based in Italy.

If you have information on No. 23 Squadron, just write me a comment and I will get in touch just like I did with Stuart Hutt’s nephew.

Cricket 39

Each artifact I posted a picture of yesterday is important.

We all know by now that Hugh Boland had no fear.

Hugh

This is what is written in this book.

Hugh Boland

Confounding the Reich

This is the post I wrote back on June 6, 2012…

It was about Cricket, a call sign used by 23 Squadron.

This is what I wrote.

It’s about Cricket 23. I did not pay that much attention to the Cricket call sign.

George shed light about it on this post.

This is what I wrote later about another crew brought to life with this artifact which indicates that Boland’s Mosquito was Cricket 39.

I was about Cricket 23.

call sign

This is a good time to remember the valiant ones who served in World War II.

Tim Dench is sharing Bill Goody’s account of a raid on Munich Riem.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Munich Riem Raid – 25 April 1945

The following account was dictated by Bill Goody to Tim Dench in 1977. At the time, Bill was a much loved officer of 97 ATC squadron, and I was doing a school project on the Mosquito.

It was decided that No 23 Squadron being experienced in the low level intruder role, and flying their Mosquito MkVI  aircraft with Merlin 25 engines, would act as “Pathfinders” in that they would navigate precisely to the airfield and go in first to the attack dropping their 80 x 4lb incendiary bombs which would burn with a vivid white light to mark the area where the normally high level Mosquito Mk XXX’’s  with their Merlin 76 engines would make their own low level attacks lobbing onto the incendiaries their 100 gallon drop tanks, 1 to each wing rack, filled with petroleum jelly (Napalm) to effect maximum damage to the parked enemy aircraft.

Mosquito YP-N flown by Flight Sergeant Goody took off from Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk and followed the prescribed route.   The weather was clear with very little high level cloud and the moon was quite full, not ideal weather for low level operations as flak gunners on the ground with light anti aircraft weapons could fire visually at the aircraft.  The crew relied on the superior speed and maneuverability of the Mosquito to combat such defensive actions,  but as these missions where never flown higher than 2,000ft above the ground the risk was always present of the aircraft being flown into the ground or striking trees, pylons or high buildings during this type evasive action.

The purpose of the low level operation was to allow for accurate map reading from ground features, rivers, lakes and railway lines etc, the task being made easier on the Munich Riem raid by good night visibility.  “Gee”, a radar navigation aid was also used but mainly by the Mosquito XXX’s crews who flew high level to the target area.

The Merlin engines of the Mk xxx’s had two stages of super charge and gave their best performance and heights of 10,000ft  to 20,000ft hence this tactic.  The 23 Squadron aeroplanes had single stage super chargers and where fastest at 2,000ft to 5,000ft.

Accordingly the overall plan called for the attacking aircraft to rendezvous at a lake close to Munich and the flight planning allowing for some 5 minutes “stooging” there to allow for discrepancies in times of arriving.   The senior officer of 23 Squadron,  Squadron Leader Griffiths DFC was appointed Master Bomber whose duty required him to mark the target and direct the attacking aircraft during their attacks.

After the short channel crossing, routed to avoid the continental coastal areas still in German hands, the route was straight across Europe to Bavaria and Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers nothing of particular importance that occurred on the 2hr flight other than the signs of frontline fighting still going on, trace machine gun fire, burning buildings etc.  Enemy reaction to the intruders was not as fierce as they had experienced from previous raids prior to this date.   On identifying the small lake the Mosquito pilot reported over the radio to the Master Bomber their arrival by using the coded call sign “cricket 23”.    “Cricket” identifying the squadron and “23” the pilot.  After orbiting the lake for some 7 minutes (YP-N arrived  a few minutes early) the Master Bomber dived over the airfield and dropped the incendiaries on the tall control tower at one end of the large civil combined hanger and control building.

These bombs burnt brightly on the tarmac apron and building roof and “Cricket 23” was called on to follow this first attacking aircraft to mark the tower at the other end of the hanger complex.  Flt. Sgt. Goody carried out this attack from about 150ft and whilst pulling up and away noted further incendiaries bring dropped all along the complex by successive aeroplanes from 23 Squadron.  The Master Bomber then called on the lightened Mosquito fighters to fire their cannon at the sources of the small amount of defensive flak being thrown up by the airfield defence gunners.

Flt. Sgt. Goody remembers vividly the awesome sight of the Mosquito XXX’s lobbing their deadly load of Napalm onto the tarmac apron and the tremendous sheets of flame that erupted from the bursting tanks, resulting in the entire complex and apron flaming up.

During this frenzied activity over an airfield the size of Croydon Aerodrome a pilot called out that he had seen trace shells from an attacking enemy aircraft fired at one of our Mosquitos and after the last Napalm was dropped, Squadron Leader Griffiths instructed all attacking aircraft to go home, which Flt. Sgt. Goody says was acted on by all aircraft without delay!!!!   He recalls the return trip as being without incident, no German intruders awaited the returning aircraft over the home bases in Norfolk as had been the case some months or so previously.

Mosquito YP-N of 23 Squadron landed at Little Snoring at 05.15 the following morning as evidenced by the entry from Flt. Sgt. Goody’s log book, a total flying time of 5 hours, 45 minutes typical of the range of this mission for advanced fighter aircraft.    This type of offensive operation ended when the European fighting finished on 5 May a few weeks later.

The attacking crews heard nothing of the effect of the raid until Frank Ziegler who carried out early interrogations of enemy airmen after the war wrote an article about Col. Steinhoff and the revolutionary ME262, one of the first successful jet aircraft to be evolved.    Col.  Steinhoff related how JV44 the “Squadron of Aces” had achieved numerous victories by shooting down American daylight bombers from Munich Riem until the squadron was put out of business as a result of the Mosquito attack on the night of 25 April.  The unit was commanded by the General Adolph Galland and other Aces flying with it were Lutzow with 120 victories and Col. Steinhoff another veteran fighter leader and author of the ‘Straits of Messina’.

Flt. Sgt. Jacobs (by then a civilian at the end of the war), Flt. Sgt. Goody’s navigator, wrote a letter published by the RAF News which resulted in a reply being passed to him by Col. Steinhoff, by then Gen. Steinhoff of the postwar Luftwaffe, giving the results of the raid as seen from the German viewpoint.  The Cricket 23 crew were pleased to note Gen. Steinhoff’s  “warm greetings from your former adversary”.

Footnote (by Tim Dench 1977)

Many cadets in the ATC (Air Training Corps) may have assembled the plastic model Mosquito kit of the 23 Squadron night fighter version bearing squadron letters YP-A without realising that this aircraft was originally flown by an officer of my squadron no 97 (Croydon) of the Surrey wing ATC.    Flt.Sgt. Goody tells me that he enjoyed the use of this aeroplane as his “own” aircraft for a while whilst flying intruder operations in support of bomber command operations towards the war’s end.

Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Bud Badley Redux

Few people know or remember who Bud Badley is.

One of my latest readers does and he posted a comment on this post about Bud Badley.

I know a little bit more about Bud Badley than ordinary people. George Stewart told me all about that picture taken in 1944. George is there fourth on the right last row.

Georges Stewart group picture

George’s navigator was Paul Beaudet.

Paul Beaudet group picture

They flew 50 missions together on Mosquitoes.

Now take a good look at Bud who was quite a character.

Bud Badley group picture

Look again…

Bud Badley group picture toast

To be continued…