Alec Lawson or Alastair Lawson – Redux

This is a comment I had received on this blog in 2011.

Hi,
my Uncle Alastair Lawson was a pilot with 23 Squadron in Malta (OC B Flight). He had a Kiwi Navigator F/O Roberston who is still alive AFIK and living in Auckland. Unfortunately my uncle’s eyesight has gone so I cannot show him the photos.

Do you have any other photos of 23 Squadron personnel?

Regards

Al Bowie

Sydney Australia

I have been writing this blog  since 2010 with Peter Smith’s help whose father was Tommy Smith. I had known more and more about 23 Squadron in 2011 but not enough to help this reader.

Information about Alec Lawson were very scarce on the Internet except here on this Webpage.

Johnny Burton: Went to Test Pilots’ School and also to APS at Leconfield.

Chris Capper: Went to Test Pilots’ School and eventually joined de Havilland – I believe he took over John Derry’s work after the crash.

‘Rox’ Roxberry: My pilot for the second two years on the Squadron. Also went to Leconfield and Farnborough and spent a year with the Yanks at Edwards base.

Les de Garis: Also went to Leconfield and each time the weather was unfit for flying we all heard Les’s lecture ‘T.S.C.S. x SIN Angle Off’ again – and again – and again.

Sax Saxby: One of the best pilots on the Squadron, but unfortunately in those days inhibited by the PII ranking.

Monty Mountford: Overcame the PII syndrome and became a Groupie or something. ‘

Chips’ Hunter: Excellent swimmer and diver. A bit hair-raising to fly with – later killed in an air crash.

Iain Dick: Good footballer.

Alec Lawson: Never took a parachute and always sat on a seat cushion made from the folded engine covers.

Dave Spencer: We did OTUs on Canada and England together and he was my pilot for three years until grounded with high tone deafness. Like Jimmy Gill he joined the Equipment Branch.

‘Ferdie’ Fortune: Hit Rox’s tailplane during formation. We then discovered he was half blind in one eye.

Archer: Alec Lawson fell out with him one night in the Mess and chased him back to his room (the last block on the left when looking with your back to the Mess at Gutersloh). Archer hid round the corner in his room and locked the door. When Alec couldn’t get in, he fetched his 12 bore and blasted a hole in the door. Luckily Archer was out of the way, but his raincoat was hanging on the door!

‘Willie’ Williams: Spent all his time reading Bradshaw and could tell you the time of almost every train in the UK and all the connections.

Jock Marshall: Received his Croix de Guerre and legion of Honour through the normal post. We celebrated on the beach at Sylt with crates of Guiness left in the edge of the sea to cool.

Jackie Butt.

Doc’ Orrell.

‘Bunny’ Warren.

Not much of a lead… 

But Peter Smith had this picture in his manuscript he sent me about Hector Goldie, Vicki’s father-in-law.

 

The Baron and Alec Lawson, also with 23 Squadron (via Norman Conquer)

Normand Conquer had it in his collection. The Baron was on this picture taken beside someone whose name was Alec Lawson. Alec was Alastair Lawson, Al’s uncle.

Al Bowie has been reading my blog ever since and he wrote a few comments. This morning Al wrote me a personal message about his uncle.

 

 

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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.


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…

My Reward for Writing This Blog?

What’s my reward for writing about 23 Squadron since 2010?

Paul Beaudet and George Stewart

Just this comment I want to share.

Too precious to leave unread in the comment section.

And what a blog it is. We found my dad’s (JRP Beaudet) pilot through this blog: George Stewart, and what a gift this has been. My brothers and sisters have met George and his wife three or four times in the last two years and he gave us a part of dad we knew so very little about. George is an amazing man with an incredible memory. He has shared his stories, his photos, his writings and most importantly given us his friendship.

Thank you Pierre for doing this blog. I love ‘meeting’ the men of the 23 squadron. Can you believe Pete Smith even sent me chapters of his book.

You have done an incredible ‘chef d’oeuvre’.

Hope we get to meet one day.

Cheers

Diane Beaudet Carlucci

George Stewart on nose

George Stewart collection