Sunday, March 31, 2019

David Lloyd Hart 1917 - 2019

(CP) Honorary Col. David Lloyd Hart, a decorated Second World War veteran who was the Canadian Army's oldest and longest-serving officer, has died at age 101. The Canadian Armed Forces announced that Hart died March 27 in Montreal. Hart served for more than 80 years in the army in various roles, including as a young communications operator in England and France during the Second World War. A sergeant at the time, Hart went on to receive a military medal for bravery for his actions during the ill-fated Allied raid on Dieppe in 1942, when he insisted on briefly going off-air to locate two brigades and pass on an order to withdraw. Born in July 1917 in Montreal, Hart enlisted in the reserves in 1937 with the Fourth Signal Regiment and was called to active duty in 1939. Hart told The Canadian Press in 2017 that he still remembered every detail of the chaotic scene on the beach that day in Dieppe, which would prove to be the single bloodiest for Canada's military in the Second World War. The Allied forces quickly became "sitting ducks" after their forces were spotted by German troops early on in what was supposed to be a stealth operation, Hart said. He recalled sitting in a crippled ship five metres from shore, unable to leave the radio, watching his fellow soldiers trying in vain to dig with stones to create a place to hide. "The fire was terrible," he said at an interview at his home in Montreal. "There was mortar fire and there were machine-gun nests in the cliffs which weren't seen by our intelligence people because they had them covered, and they had heavy six-pounder or more cannons shooting at us." Of the almost 5,000 Canadian soldiers who took part in the raid on occupied France, nearly 3,400 were captured, injured or killed. The number of deaths totalled 916. Hart went on to serve in various honorary positions after leaving active duty in 1965, and remained an active and visible presence at Montreal military events right up to his death. The year he turned 100, he returned to Dieppe to walk down the same beach where he'd fought some 75 years earlier. Hart, who was not injured in the raid, said in 2017 that while all soldiers must live with their memories, he didn't regret his service and would sign up again, if given the chance.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dieppe Raid (By Commandos) - (Reconnaissance in Force)

(5:50)Flight Sergeant William Aldcorn, Gouverneur, Saskatchewan, is rescued by the Royal Navy after being shot down by flak in Spitfire Vb BL587 during the air battle over Dieppe.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Close Up - The Canadian Raid on Dieppe - Part 4 (1962)

4:00 General Montgomery: "Compromise on this. Compromise on the bombing. Compromise on everything. It's no good." 5:03 Interviewer: “Dieppe told people what not to do.” Colonel Stacey: “I think that’s essentially true. What it told them not to do was to attempt an operation with inadequate fire support. We went in at Dieppe against a very strong position with nothing stronger than four inch guns and Boston bombers to support us – and that turned out to be nonsense – and the result was that in the Normandy operation, in June 1944, we went in with battleships and cruisers and the RAF Bomber Command and the United States bombers and everything we could raise. It was an utterly different conception – and that time, of course, it worked.” 11:36 Lord Lovat: "There wasn't much cunning at Dieppe. It was a head-on collision with armor not ever being able to take on re-inforced concrete. It was a reconnaissance in force. A big probe in a very bad place."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Flt. Lt. John Morrow 'Jack' Godfrey - No. 412 Squadron

Flight Lieutenant Jack Godfrey wrote the following letter to his wife: "Here am after the most hectic and exciting day of my life. We were in the thick of things at Dieppe yesterday, and no doubt you are anxious to know how we made out. The story really starts with our being suddenly pulled back from air firing to our home station last Friday on an hour's notice. We knew then that something was brewing. However, nothing happened, but other squadrons started to pour into the station from air dromes further away from France. Then, on Monday, were were all briefed for a sweep to escort Fortresses to R --- . As we came out of the briefing room, who should be standing outside but Lord Louis Mountbatten with, a lot of big shot army, navy and air force officers, obviously waiting for us to get out so that they could have a conference. We all immediately thought that a second front was going to be established. On Tuesday we were on readiness at 5. We patrolled up and down and out to sea to stop any Jerries coming over that might see the preparations afoot. Several were intercepted and we chased them back to sea before they reached the coast. I landed at 20 to 7 and took off again at 10 to 7 after refuelling, and didn't land again until 8:30. I went off to the mess to have dinner and by the time I got back to the house where we live it was 10 o'clock and we were to be up at 3 a.m. I was in bed by 11 and was awakened rudely at 3. I jumped into my clothes and went downstairs for breakfast. We had an egg, which was a great treat, and by 4 a.m. we were all in the flight waiting for instructions. We were told that it was to be a Canadian Army landing at Dieppe and that we were to stand by for further instructions. At 4:45 the phone rang from 'ops' and instructions were given that we were to take off with the rest of the Wing at 6 and go over to Dieppe and stay over the town for half-an-hour to protect our boats from dive-bombing, etc. The names went up on the board and I was not down, so I sat back and relaxed. The squadron took off at 6 and about an hour later, the boys started to straggle back. Over Dieppe, it had been impossible to keep the squadron together and everybody split up into twos. The sky was evidently filled with a swirling mass of Spitfires and F. W. 190's milling around. It was evidently the worst shambles since the Battle of Britain: Everybody had a squirt at about three Jerrys, but it was impossible to see the results, because, as soon as a pilot squirted, he could be sure a Jerry was on his tail and had immediately to take evasive action . We were much encouraged when all our boys returned safely. The names went up for the second show and I was down to fly as No . 2 to a lad who had had about thirty sweeps under his belt and was a very cool and cagey pilot. We waited around about two hours and finally the call came through. We were to escort Hurricane bombers on a low-level attack on gun positions to the left of the town which hadn't been knocked out and which were holding up the landing at that point. Of all the jobs that could have been assigned to us, this undoubtedly was the worst. I didn't feel at all happy, but it wasn't until it was all over and we were talking over a beer last night, that I realized that I wasn't the only one who wasn't feeling exactly elated at the prospect. We took off at 10 o'clock and met the Hurri-Bombers over the Coast of England opposite Dieppe. There was one other squadron of Spits with us, and away we went. It was to be a low, level attack and we flew over the water about five feet above the waves and cruising quite slowly at about 200 m.p.h. About five miles off the French coast, we gradually opened up so that we hit the coast going flat out to the right of the town. Here. there is quite a high hill, which slopes down to the water. Up over the hill we went, right down to the deck. We were to the right of the Hurri-Bombers, but the other squadron didn't come in, but waited a mile or so off shore for us to come out. We went inland about three miles. weaving among the trees, and I don't think I was ever more than five feet from the deck. The lower you are, the safer, because they can't see you coming and you are over their heads and behind the trees before they get a shot at you. After about three miles, we swung to the left. I was following J -- slightly to the right and about seventy-five yards behind. All this time we were passing over Jerrys who were trying to take pot shots at us. After we had made our turn to the left we were in a bit of a gully with trees on either side and no trees ahead. The ground started to rise and there, at the top of the rise, was a big flak position. We were going so fast that we were on it before we realized it. All hell was breaking loose. There were at least six heavy ack ack guns, and I don't know how many machine guns, etc., blazing away at us from point-blank range. We had come right up a funnel completely exposed. The next thing I saw was the tail-of J -- 's kite just blow away, and the fuselage break in two right behind the cockpit. His kite seemed to go slowly over on its nose. I didn't see it hit the ground, as I was past, but one of the other lads saw it and it really spread itself over the ground. I don't suppose poor J -- even knew he was hit before it was all over. I weaved wildly to the left and the next thing I knew I was in the middle of the Hurries. We swung again to the left and headed for the sea where all the Jerry batteries and ack ack were that had held up the landing. The ground was cleared for about a mile before we got over the ridge and all hell broke loose again. Over the ridge we went,absolutely flat out, praying that our engine would hold out. As we hit the sea we fully appreciated the reception we were getting. There was literally a shower of splashes all round us from ack ack, which followed us about three miles out to sea. Why I wasn't hit, I don't know. Maybe luck was in. I was following up in the rear of the Hurries but soon passed them and then swung around looking for Jerrys that might bounce us as soon as we got out of the flak. The squadron that stayed outside were looking after them, however, so I remained on one side weaving like mad and expecting to be jumped by a 190 at any time. Just then, over the R.T. came a rather agonized voice saying that his temperature was going up. This meant that his kite had been hit on the "rad." and that his glycol was all draining out and that his engine would stop at any minute. Then another voice came over the radio saying the same thing. It turned out that they were two pilots from the other squadron of Spits. Whether they managed to get enough height to bail out. I haven't heard as yet. About fifteen miles off the English coast I suddenly heard the C.O. yell: 'Red 4, you are pouring glycol out of your rad. Climb like hell. Then a few seconds later: Bail out. Red 4.' Then : 'Nice going Red 4.' The C.O. and a couple of other pilots managed to direct a launch to where the pilot was and he was picked up just forty minutes later. His 'chute evidently just opened before hit hit the water and he had just managed to bail out before his engine quit. He was very lucky, as it must have been a small hole to allow him to get as far as he did, and he was also lucky that the C.O. happened to see the leak. The pilot was a flight sergeant in our flight and is none the worse for his experience. Of the six of us who went out from our flight, only four of us came home. About 1:40 the phone rang again. This time we were to escort some Hurries after the same target and we were the only squadron of Spits going. Evidently the first bunch of Hurries had not wiped out the battery and there was to be another crack at it. We were considerably relieved when the group captain said that we needn't go right in with the Hurries, but stay over the shore and cover the withdrawal. When we were about a mile off shore from Dieppe, we climbed to about 500 feet. There were F.W.190's all over the place around 2,000 feet, and we were the only Spits at our height. Some 190's started to dive down on the Hurries. We tore after them and they, seeing us coming, started to break away. Just then someone yelled, 'Red section, break.' There were some 190's on our tail. We went into a steep turn to the right and shook them off. I lost the others for a few seconds. The flak started to come up at us in great volume. Red balls were shooting past my nose, uncomfortably close. I spotted my No. 1 and joined him. Just then the C.O. yelled: 'Let's get out of here.' We dove down unto the sea, going all out and weaving as hard as we could. The Hurries were about two miles out to sea on the way home. We managed to keep the Jerrys busy so that none of them had been attacked. We stayed with them on the way home, weaving around them with our heads turning about 120 to the minute, looking for Huns. However, none chased us back and we landed with the whole squadron intact. The C.O. had a hole in his aileron about half a foot square from flak, and I had a bit of schrapnel through the fuselage below my seat. The weather started to close in and we were released about 6. We were in the midst of baths, shaving, etc., when we were told- to get back to the flights immediately. The Jerrys were taking advantage of the bad weather to bomb us. We all took off again, but the weather was so bad we couldn't locate any. One JU-88 flew over the aerodrome just as we took off, but we lost it in the clouds and rain. Finally about 9 o'clock we were through for the day and went up and had some dinner. I was in bed by 11 p.m. and up again at 4 a.m."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Flying Officer George Garrett Davidson - No. 412 Squadron

Flying Officer George Garrett Davidson, only son of Mrs. J. A. Davidson, 37 Palace St.,Brantford, Ontario, achieved an outstanding record as a fighter pilot during his more than three years service with the R.C.A.F. He had applied for enlistment the day news of the Second Great War broke upon Canada and was accepted as a student pilot in the early summer of 1940. After training at Western and British Columbia Schools, he graduated March 29,1941, from No. 6 S.F.T.S., Dunnville, receiving his wings and his commission (J/4931) as a pilot officer. He went overseas after a short furlough at home. An intrepid flier, he had two German Focke-Wulfs to his credit; was a pilot of one of the planes in an R.A.F. Spitfire flight that bombed and sank five Nazi E-boats, and received the thanks of the British Admiralty for it; took part in the Dieppe raid; went up one night, located and rescued in the black skies over England, an R.C.A.F. fighter pilot whose instruments had ceased to function. F/O Davidson, who was known to his friends as "Dusty", had an opportunity to return to Canada after his operational tours, but instead volunteered for service in the Middle East, and it was from a Malta base that his last flight was taken and he lost his life on November 14, 1942, off the Tunisian coast, Africa. Born in Brantford on February 1, 1918, he had been educated here, attending Central Public School and graduating with honors from the matriculation course at the Collegiate Institute. He was a member of St. Jude's Anglican Church. Besides his flying interests, he had a fund of musical talent and as a youngster played in the Brantford Boys' Band. Later, he had, on occasions, been with the Canadian Legion Band. His instruments were the trumpet and the saxophone. He was employed first with Reginald Cook and then by Barber-Ellis of Canada, Ltd. (Brantford Public Library)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Acting Flight Lieutenant Donald James Mathew Blakeslee - No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron

No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron Operations Record Book noted their first sortie to Dieppe: “Every dog has his day and on the 19th August No. 133 was the dog! Operation Jubilee was in process and the Squadron had been at readiness of 0350 hours to takeoff for the first patrol if necessary. “The Squadron finally took off at 0720 with orders to orbit Dieppe at 7,000 feet. Target was reached without incident, but the fun began soon after!” Acting Squadron Leader Don Blakeslee reported: “I was leading 133 Squadron in the first sortie. I was flying at approximately 8,000 ft. in an orbit over Dieppe when I saw a formation of 8 FW190s with another 4 behind them preparing to dive on shipping about ½ mile out from the harbor. “I picked the one closest to me, who after dropping his bomb, went up in a climbing turn making for the land. I got in astern of the e/a and opened fire starting from 300 yds. and closing to 100. “I saw cannon shells exploding on, and in, the cockpit. The e/a took no evasive action and went into a shallow turning dive. I broke away at 2000 ft. and left him still going down in a turning dive which had steeped. “My No. 2 followed this a/c after I had broken away. He himself pulled out at 1500 ft. and he saw the e/a still diving for the ground. I request that the assessment of this e/a be stepped up, as neither I, nor my No. 2, believe it is possible for him to pull out of this dive. I claim 1- FW190 destroyed.” Don Blakeslee led No. 133 Squadron on their second sortie at 10.15 hours. F/L Blakeslee described the operation in a combat report: “I was flying at 10,000 ft. when I noticed 2 FW.190’s. The e/a were out to sea N. of Dieppe. I dived down on them with my No. 2. The e/a turned south immediately and made for land. We cut them off and got to within 3-400 yds. I took a short burst of about 2 seconds from above and quarter astern. “I saw strikes on the fuselage between the cockpit and tail unit. The e/a flew straight on in a very fast shallow dive and was soon out of range. Some minutes later I heard on the R/T that Do.217’s were above me, some of which were being engaged by Spitfires. I singled out one of these who was flying South in a shallow dive. I saw Spitfires manoeuvring to attack him. “I cut in front of them and got into position dead astern of the e/a. I broke off and saw the e/a turn to starboard and roll over almost onto his back into cloud emitting smoke. I came down round the edge of the cloud and saw steam and spray just where the e/a would have hit the water. “P/O Cook (Blue 1) & P/O Ryerson saw me firing at the Do. 217. They also saw me break away to the left. They followed the e/a down and saw flames coming from the engine and saw it crash into the sea. I request that the assessment of this e/a be stepped up in view of its having been seen to crash into the sea by Blue 1. I claim 1 FW190 Damaged, 1 Do.217 Destroyed.” Distinguished Flying Cross Citation: "This officer has completed a large number of sorties over enemy territory. He has destroyed 1, probably destroyed 2 and damaged several more hostile aircraft. He is a fine leader whose keenness has proved most inspiring."

Acting Squadron Leader Chesley Gordon Peterson, D.F.C. - No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron

Distinguished Service Order Citation: “This officer has completed a large number of sorties over enemy-occupied territory. He has at all times displayed high qualities of leadership and courage which have contributed materially to the fine fighting efficiency of his squadron. During the operations over Dieppe, Squadron Leader Peterson destroyed a Junkers 88, bringing his victories to 6. His devotion to duty has been outstanding.” Peterson spoke to reporters after his March 10, 1943 investiture by King George at Buckingham Palace. "I got the gong for my part in the Dieppe raid. I went in three times and ended up in the drink, coming back to England by boat."

Barry Hamblin - No. 242 Squadron

Shortly after I arrived at 242 Squadron in Turnhouse, (April 1942) an experienced Flying Officer named “Benny” Benham arrived, and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant of our flight – a capable person who survived the War. Well we soon moved from Edinburgh to Drem (June-August 1942), and on occasion to other airfields in Scotland, depending on what had to be protected. After a few days at Ouston by Newcastle, we were sent by the R.A.F. as a Squadron down to North Weald (August 1942) in Essex. At North Weald we were the newest Squadron – the two senior squadrons were Norwegian and very experienced. The whole wing of 4 Squadrons was led by Wing Commander (Francis David Stephen) Scott- Maldon. At the start of the War he had been reading Classics at Cambridge, but had been in the University Air Squadron and so was collected by the RAF at the outbreak of War. He fought in The Battle of Britain in 1940 and was lucky to survive. Due to heavy casualties among pilots he made rapid promotion, and would finish as an Air Vice-Marshall at the end of the War. I envied him his job then responsible only for tactics, and leading the wing when attacking the Germans – but I did not have his luck. Later I saw his obituary, and he lived to be 80 years old. For these air engagements we knew the Germans were equipped with Focke-Wulf 190 fighters, which were superior to our current Spitfires in rate of climb, and very steep turning thanks to their ball bearing ailerons. However, we had practiced very hard to compensate for the disadvantages, and we made a number of attacks against the so-called ‘Fortress Europe’. Then we were sent down to Manston near Ramsgate. A tricky airfield so close to the Channel that it was very difficult to protect against hit and run raids. A road ran Across the airfield to camouflage it, so we had to land on top of it. The next evening we were briefed very precisely. We would invade the port of Dieppe in the morning with some 10,000 Canadian infantry who would hold the port for half a day and then return to England. Sadly half of them never returned. Our instructions were to operate between 3,000 and 10,000 feet only – above Spitfire Mark 9 would be superior to the Focke-Wulf 190s – and below the Navy would attack all aircraft. The R.A.F. and the Luftwaffe each lost about 50 aircraft – and this left the Luftwaffe noticeably short of aircraft and ammunition for several days – but the R.A.F. was better supplied. The facts we discovered were firstly that the Germans were too strong for us to succeed in invading a port our 8 destroyers were incapable of destroying enemy guns on top of cliffs and we had not been given any more powerful vessels; and the Canadians had little chance of success. Politically there was some success, the Russians were encouraged by the hope of a second front. The Germans had to strengthen their aircraft and forces to protect the Atlantic Coast which again pleased the Russians. We were not heavily engaged, but on that day I flew 4 sorties (the latter of which was to protect the returning convoy of ships and troops). I am sure the Allies learned many invaluable but costly lessons, which were to help the invasion in June 1944.