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No. 431 (Iroquoise) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 431 (Iroquoise) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War -


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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

No. 431 (Iroquoise) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force



   No.431 (Iroquois) Squadron RCAF was formed at Burn in Yorkshire on the 11th Novemeber 1942, flying the Wellington X. Later they flew the Halifax V and the Lancaster X

The Squadron retruned to Canada on the 12th of June 1945

Airfields at which No. 431 Squadron were based:

  • Burn. 11 Nov 42 to 15 July 1943
  • Tholthorpe. 15 July 1943 to 10 Dec 1943
  • Croft.10 Dec 1943 to 12 June 1945


 

 Photographs

5th Jan 1945 Night Ops

31st Mar 1945 Lancaster Lost

17th Jun 1944 431 Squadron Halifax lost

2nd Nov 1944 Mascot's First Flight

27th Feb 1945 Night Ops

2nd Mar 1945 Night Ops

3rd Mar 1945 Night Ops

4th Mar 1945 Enemy Raider

8th Apr 1945 Night Ops

13th Apr 1945 Night Ops

22nd Apr 1945 Night Ops


If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.



Those known to have served with

No. 431 (Iroquoise) Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Badgery. Frank Alexander .
  • Desborough William Edward. (d.29th July 1944)
  • Heron Angus Brown.
  • Hill John Raymond. W/O
  • Hill Ray.
  • Johnstone Mervyn M.. F/Lt
  • Jose G Beverly. (d.6th Jun 1944)
  • Jose Gordon Beverly. P/O (d.8th Jun 1944)
  • Mitchell Eric Martin. Wing Cmdr.
  • Morton John. P/O. (d.26th Nov 1943)
  • Perry John Ralph Marwood. Sgt.
  • Perry John Ralph Marwood. Sgt.
  • Perry Lloyd J.. Flt.Sgt.
  • Pond Hubert William. P/O (d.27th Apr 1944)
  • Samson. F.. Sgt

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Wing Cmdr. Eric Martin Mitchell DFC, CD. 431 Squadron

W/Cmdr Eric Martin Mitchell (C175) Distinguished Flying Cross was stationed at Croft. His award was effective 5th April 1945 as per London Gazette dated 13 April 1945 and AFRO 824/45 dated 18 May 1945. He was born 1912 in Halifax and lived in Ottawa. He was educated at Nova Scotia Tech and Acadia University and was a member of the COTC. Eric enlisted as a Provisional Pilot Officer on 13th June 1935 and qualified for his wings, 26th May 1936.

His citation reads "completed...numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost courage and devotion to duty."

DHist file 181.009 D.1634 (RG.24 Vol.20604) has recommendation by G/C R.S. Turnbull, commanding No.64 Base, not dated but sent to AOC No.6 Group on 25 January 1945, at which time Mitchell had flown 27 operational sorties (161 hours 40 minutes), 12 June 1944 to 16 January 1945.

During this officer's service career he has proven himself to be a fearless and courageous leader, and at all times has shown outstanding ability in all his work.

Since his commencement of operations, this officer has displayed determination, fortitude and exceptional tactical ability. Such targets as Hanau, Merseberg, Zeitz, [and] Ludwigshaven have been attacked with outstanding skill and precision, setting an inspiring example to all his squadron. Under his keen and capable guidance his unit has been welded into a strong and determined bomber force.

RESEARCHER'S NOTE: The following is added to a pencil draft of the citation but not to a typed draft:

For his superb captaincy and airmanship, his undoubted courage and devotion to duty and his magnificent leadership of his squadron I recommend the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He remained in the RCAF postwar, rising to Group Captain by 1957 and was Commanding Officer, Station Goose Bay, July 1955 to July 1957.

Peter Mitchell



P/O Hubert William " " Pond Belgium Croix de Guerre 1940 with palm 431 Squadron (d.27th Apr 1944)

I am seeking any information and pictures about Hubert Pond and his short time at Croft Airfield.

Hubert was the adopted and only child of Harold and Ethel Pond, Halifax, NS. He lost his life on April 27th, 1944 while flying with the 431 Squadron. He is buried in Heverlee Cemetary Belgium.

The crew were

  • 1Lt Earman USAAF KIA,
  • Sgt J.Graham KIA,
  • F/O WG Dundley RCAF POW,
  • Sgt. JFL Perry RCAF POW, F/O DM King RCAF POW,
  • Sgt JJ Cooke RCAF KIA,
  • P/O HW Pond RCAF KIA
They were on a mission to the Montzen rail yards when the Halifax MK 111 was shot down by a night fighter.

I am having great difficulty finding any information except the statistical, including what happened to his parents. His mother was presented with his Belgium Croix de Guerre in 1948. There are so many wonderful accounts of the men who sacrificed so much on this site and others, it grieves me that Hubert Pond may just be a name on a stone with no one to remember him.

My mother Catherine (nee Pattison) McMillen and Hubert were close before he left for England. All my years growing up she kept out a picture of this young serviceman, we just knew him as her friend Hubert. I am intending to copy that picture and hopefully have it installed on this wonderful site.

I am also looking for a picture of the Memorial at Dalton Village nearby the airfield. Any information any one could supply will be gratefully accepted.

Glynis Mullen



G Beverly "Bev" Jose 431 Sqd. (d.6th Jun 1944)

Our Uncle Bev Jose, was shot down over France according to family memories. His Mom always thought that he had been found by a nice family and they were looking after him. Other than that, we know nothing.

Dianne



Sgt. John Ralph Marwood Perry 431 Squadron

In 1944 I was stationed at Croft assigned to 431 Squadron. We came from the Heavy Conversion Unit at Topcliff. I was an RAF engineer placed with the Canadian crew led by Flying Officer George Edward Kircher. Our crew consisted of:
  • Pilot Flying Officer George Edward Kircher, 26 years old
  • Navigator Flight Lieutenant Burch, 28 years old
  • Bomb Aimer Flight Sergeant Kenneth West, 26 years old
  • Wireless Operator Warrant Officer Jack Dempsey, 30 years old
  • Mid Upper Gunner Sergeant Wilfred Sheane, 23 years old
  • Tail Gunner Sergeant Thomas Murison, 26 years old
  • Flight Engineer (Crew Chief) Sergeant John Ralph Marwood Perry, 21 years old
Memorable Operations.

On a daylight raid to Norway to a submarine pen, we left Croft in a Halifax about noon and headed north over Scotland. Near the north of Scotland we crossed the path of a Fokker Wolf 200, 4-engine German bomber. I waved to the tail gunner who ignored me. We led the attack into the Fiord and bombed a flack ship in the harbour with a direct hit down the funnel. The tail gunner confirmed this and our pilot was awarded the Air Force Cross. During the attack we had a direct hit to the fuselage of our Halifax. We flew back at wave top level to conserve fuel. The return height was miscalculated and 17 planes were lost over Scotland as they crashed into the mountains. George Kircher was an experienced bush pilot and saved us with some clever manoeuvers when he saw the mountains.

We left Croft in a Lancaster for Chemnitz, Germany on a night bombing raid. Our track took us over Berlin at about 26,000 feet and we experienced severe icing on the aircraft. There were fighters even at that height so I manned the front gun turret. We released our bombs over the city and headed home. Over the English Channel we crossed the path of a squadron of Flying Fortresses headed for France. We dived to avoid them and I heard a noise from the bomb bay. I discovered a bomb that had been frozen in place and released itself once the ice had melted. I quickly opened the bomb bay and dropped it into the English Channel. We landed at Croft after the longest trip we ever made in a Lancaster of more than 9 hours.

We journeyed to the Kiel Canal on a daylight raid to bomb submarines and submarine factories in the city of Kiel. When we took off the undercarriage and wheels would not retract until we manipulated the manual lever. The fuel situation became dire on our return and we were forced to land at Scarborough on the coast. We had 4 red fuel lights signifying the total lack of fuel on board and landed with no time to spare.

I would like to thank the farmer and his wife who lived on the farm at the airfield who kindly gave George Kircher and myself breakfast one morning.

John Ralph Marwood Perry



W/O John Raymond Hill 431 Sqd.

John Raymond Hill, known always as Ray, joined up at the start of the War even though he was Reserved Occupation as a farmer. He tried to join the Royal Navy but was rejected due to his occupation. The R.A.F. did not seem to mind as much.

After Initial training he chose aircrew and trained as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. He was posted to the R.C.A.F. in 431 Iroquois Sqdn he was gathered together by Pilot Ben Jackson to form a Wellington crew along with Canadians Jack Begg, Les Cragg and George Beattie. They went on to fly 24 Operations on "Wimpeys" and a further 3 in Halifax bombers. Targets were mainly mine laying in the early days and then the Rhur. The Pilot, Ban Jackson, was awarded a well deserved D.F.C. for his completion of the tour and then both he and my father, Ray Hill, went on to serve at O.T.U's for the duration of the war.

Marc Hill



Sgt. John Ralph Marwood Perry 431 Squadron

My name is Jack Perry, I am 88 years old and living in Australia. In 1944 I was stationed at Croft assigned to 431 Squadron. We came from the Heavy Conversion Unit at Topcliffe. I was an RAAF engineer placed with the Canadian crew led by Flying Officer George Edward Kircher. Our crew consisted of:
  • Pilot Flying Officer George Edward Kircher, 26 years old
  • Navigator Flight Lieutenant Burch, 28 years old
  • Bomb Aimer Flight Sergeant Kenneth West, 26 years old
  • Wireless Operator Warrant Officer Jack Dempsey, 30 years old
  • Mid Upper Gunner Sergeant Wilfred Sheane, 23 years old
  • Tail Gunner Sergeant Thomas Murison, 26 years old
  • Flight Engineer (Crew Chief) Sergeant John Ralph Marwood Perry, 21 years old
Memorable Operations.

On a daylight raid to Norway to a submarine pen, we left Croft in a Halifax about noon and headed north over Scotland. Near the north of Scotland we crossed the path of a Fokker Wolf 200, 4-engine German bomber. I waved to the tail gunner who ignored me. We led the attack into the Fiord and bombed a flack ship in the harbour with a direct hit down the funnel. The tail gunner confirmed this and our pilot was awarded the Air Force Cross. During the attack we had a direct hit to the fuselage of our Halifax. We flew back at wave top level to conserve fuel. The return height was miscalculated and 17 planes were lost over Scotland as they crashed into the mountains. George Kircher was an experienced bush pilot and saved us with some clever manoeuvers when he saw the mountains.

We left Croft in a Lancaster for Chemnitz, Germany on a night bombing raid. Our track took us over Berlin at about 26,000 feet and we experienced severe icing on the aircraft. There were fighters even at that height so I manned the front gun turret. We released our bombs over the city and headed home. Over the English Channel we crossed the path of a squadron of Flying Fortresses headed for France. We dived to avoid them and I heard a noise from the bomb bay. I discovered a bomb that had been frozen in place and released itself once the ice had melted. I quickly opened the bomb bay and dropped it into the English Channel. We landed at Croft after the longest trip we ever made in a Lancaster of more than 9 hours.

We journeyed to the Kiel Canal on a daylight raid to bomb submarines and submarine factories in the city of Kiel. When we took off the undercarriage and wheels would not retract until we manipulated the manual lever. The fuel situation became dire on our return and we were forced to land at Scarborough on the coast. We had 4 red fuel lights signifying the total lack of fuel on board and landed with no time to spare.

This is a letter that George Kircher sent to my mother.

Dear Mrs Perry, Possibly you’re wondering who I am and why I am writing. I am George, Skipper or whoever Jack calls his pilot. I am one of the seven men in his crew. We did all our trips or operations together. We are all well and here to talk about it for several important reasons. First we were a very good crew for we got along well together. We had faith and confidence in each other. Jack was one of the fellows who made it a good crew. It must have been difficult as he was the only member that was not Canadian. There is really no difference but to him we must seem a strange lot with ways of our own to say and do things.

Regardless our crew cooperated and worked together perfectly and that is one of the reasons our tour was successful. Sgt Jack Perry was the youngest member in our crew and he was our Engineer. He had a very important job which he knew how to do and knew that job very well. Through skies of flack and Jerry fighters he remained calm and collected, doing his job or his duties as they should be. A mistake could have meant the end for us all but they were not made.

Jack has proved himself a man with the right to live and enjoy the future. You can be very proud of your son for he has done a great job. I had hoped to get up to meet you some time and may before I leave. Having been so close to home was nice for Jack in ways but if you were told of all he was doing and going through it must of been hard for you. He was one of seven men who were all for one and one for all each minute of each day or each operation in our mind as possibly our last.

I could go on for hours or pages but I am not a speaker or a writer. From these few lines I hope some of our feelings are conveyed to you. Some time when Jack is home I would appreciate it if you give him this. He will understand it but more importantly I want him to know his crew think he is tops and want to thank him and show they will never forget him and that they appreciated him in that crew.

Sincerely, Skipper & Crew, George Kircher

Dianne May



P/O Gordon Beverly Jose 431 Squadron (d.8th Jun 1944)

My husband's uncle Gordon Beverly Jose, R.C.A.F., was shot down between the beginning of WWII and Sep 18th 1943. He was 431 Squadron and was a bomb aimer. I have looked everywhere on the net trying to find info and have been unsuccessful, can anyone help?

Editor's Note: According to the CWGC website, Gordon Jose was lost his life on the 8th of June 1944 and is buried in Blevy Communal Cemetery, France. All the crew lie together, the only CWGC burials in the vilage cemetery. they were:

  • P/O John Peter Artyniuk. RCAF
  • P/O Gilbert Alfred John Curtis, RAF
  • F/Sgt. Donald Angus Flett, RAFVR
  • F/O Peter Joseph Gandy, RCAF
  • P/O Gordon Beverley Jose, RCAF
  • F/O Hugh Allan Morrison, RCAF
  • P/O William Dakin Mullin, RCAF
  • Sgt. William Teape, RAFVR

The targets that night were the road and rail junction at Acheres and the rail yards at Versailles, this particular aircraft is listed as "failed to return" to RAF Tholhorpe in North Yorkshire.

Dianne



Ray "Bunker" Hill 431 Squadron

My late Father, Ray Hill was posted to Burn in early 1941 to be part of the new 431 Squadron.

The Squadron in front of Wellington SE-A at Burn in 1943.

Marc Hill



F/Lt Mervyn M. Johnstone 431st Squadron

My Uncle, Flight Lt Johnstone, pilot, RCAF, wrote:

It would be the 8th trip on our second tour of bombing operations. Night of June 16/17-airborne at about 2200 hours, the target was a part of the munitions complex in the Rhur Valley. No big deal and no problems. On leaving the German border behind, we were in and out of the tops of cloud at around 16,000 feet and homeward bound over Holland. Time to break out some flight rations of orange juice and candy bar. Wham! A burst of cannon shell holes a few inches apart, traced a pattern from the bomb aimers position, through the navigator's table and angled through the left side of the instrument panel past the port inner engine which was set afire. Going into some fairly wild weaving with height change, we shut down the port inner, deployed the one shot fire extinguisher and took stock. The navigator, John Burns had just pulled his feet back to relax and was uninjured. "Dinger" Bell was still prone in his position and received some injury to his left ribs. The aircraft was flyable. Right away, another burst of swept the port wing root and reestablished fire in that engine. Worse still, the wing began to vibrate and a major aileron control problem was developing. Bail out! Proof the the Germans had developed some mighty sophisticated radar and guns in their aircraft was evident.

They were flying Halifax MZ-537 SE-L from Croft and crashed near Druemel in The Netherlands. Names of crew were Sgt JC Fereday, Flight Engineer RAF, F/Lt JC Burns, Navigator RCAF, F/O C Bell, Bombardier RCAF, F/O Lloyd Oliver Stanley, Telegrapher RCAF, F/O MB Steeves, gunner RCAF and F/O RJ Oates, gunner RCAF. Mervyn learned that Stanley, Fereday and Oates were uninjured but were captured by the Germans shortly after landing. Burns and Steeves were at farmhouses close by and Bell was tended by a doctor who had underground connections. Lifelong friendships were made especially with the van Gelder family in Alforst. They were hidden well by the wonderful Dutch folk! On July 16 they travelled in pairs on cycles to town of Hertogenbosch, then boarded a train for Eindhoven. They were then to cycle in pairs to Belgian border but 10 miles from the border the guide that was leading them disappeared and subsequently the four of them were rounded up. They ended up in Stalag Luft 1 Barth Vogelsang until the end of the war.

Helen Ayers



P/O. John Morton 431 Sqdn. (d.26th Nov 1943)

My uncle, Pilot Officer John Morton, died in November 1943. He belonged to 431 squadron. Does anyone have any info please?

Kathryn Trainer



William Edward Desborough 431 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

I am looking for family, friends etc of Sgt William Edward Desborough. He served as a Flight Engineer with 431 Iroquois squadron (RCAF) but like most flight engineers, he was with the RAF.

He was lost on 29th July 1944 along with his crew in an operation against Hamburg. A family member of mine was also a crew member and I host a website in their tribute at http://www.computan.on.ca/~flyguy/

Please contact me if you know anything about this individual.

mjl







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