I went solo at Windsor Mills Airfield near
Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada flying Fleet Finch Biplanes. Later I was posted to
St. Hubert, Montreal, for advanced flying on North American A.T. 6
Trainer. In September of 1942, I received my pilots' wings and was
also commissioned as a pilot officer. I was finally demobilized in
November 1946 in the substantive rank of Flight Lieutenant.
On my return to England in October 1942, I was posted firstly
to Peterborough Flying Masters, and in early 1943 to Millfield, near Berwick
On Tweed in Northumberland to fly Hawker Hurricanes.
I was then posted to 195 Squadron in April 1943, which was
stationed at Woodvale Airfield near South Port, Cheshire and equipped with Typhoon single seat fighters.
Soon after, the squadron was moved to Norfolk, where I spent several months doing operation patrols over the North Sea and
In September, my squadron was again moved, this time to Fairlop Essex Airfield, just outside London. We then carried out
operations over France, often flying down to Manston Airfield in
Kent for briefing. in early 1944, 195 squadron was disbanded and
I moved to 197 Squadron stationed at Tangmere West Sussex Airfield
on the south coast of England.
The Typhoons were then equipped
with bomb racks under each wing to take 500 or 1000 pound bombs.
Our main operational work was attacking radar and V-1 sites, as well as being on escort and standby duties.
April, we moved to Needs Oar Point near the Beaulieu River overlooking the Solent &
Isle of Wight and became part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. 197 Squadron, along with numbers 257, 266, and 193, then
became known as 146 Wing, all operating from the same airfield in
preparation for D-Day.
In May 1944, we were constantly called upon
to make attacks against radar targets along the coast of France, as
well as the V-1 sites. I have no entry in my flying log book for the 2nd or 4th of
June. This may have been due to the bad weather which we had about
On the 3rd of June, we made a high level dive bombing attack
on the radar site at Cap D'Antifer, not far from Le Havre, France.
This involved our crossing over the French Coast, high enough to
avoid the light flak, and then turning 180 degrees in a dive bombing attack on the German radar sites with a final burst of our
cannon fire before leveling out over the sea at approximately five
hundred knots. Then forming up in sections of four in battle formation for our return home. Total flying time was 1 hour, 15
Later in the day, orders were received to paint the broad
black and white invasion stripes on the wings and fuselage of our
Typhoons, hopefully to identify friend from foe, both in the air
and on the ground. Needless to say, a lot of paint was splashed
around by both pilots and ground crew and a great sense of anticipation was felt by everyone.
On the 5th of June, I started off by air testing one of our
new typhoons, which had just been delivered. This was one of the
first four bladed types which had begun to arrive on the Squadron.
In the evening of D-Day - 1, we carried out another operation over
the French Coast. I noted in my log book "large convoys of LCTs
seen heading toward Cherbourg."
In fact, the Channel was covered
with boats of various kinds, a fantastic sight and it seemed
impossible that the Germans did not know what we were up to. On our return to Needs Oar Point Airfield, England, all
squadron pilots were told to attend a large mess tent where a covered blackboard was set up. We were then informed by the senior
officer present that tomorrow, the 6th of June, would be D-Day.
The blackboard was then unveiled to reveal the proposed landings,
etc. We were told to turn in early, as we should be on call from
approximately 4 a.m. the next morning. Needless to say, the roar
of aircraft going overhead towards France made sleep almost impossible in our tents.
We all took an early breakfast and
reported to our various dispersals, where the ground crew were already running up the Sabre engines of our Typhoons and then
refueling them while we awaited the first calls to briefing and also listened to the BBC radio broadcasts.
My squadron, 197 was
first involved at 0710, eight aircraft being led by Wing Commander
Baker, who later lost his life over Normandy on the 16th of June. They attacked targets in a low level attack south of Bayeux
and all returned safely at 0820.