The Canadian Contribution to the Battle of Britain

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    Battalion Colours
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    The Canadian Contribution to the Battle of Britain

    Post by Battalion Colours on Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:06 pm

    Many Canadians served in the fighter squadrons which repulsed the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940. In fact, although the RAF only recognises 83 Canadian pilots as flying on fighter operations during the Battle of Britain, the RCAF claims the actual figure was over 100, and that of those 23 died and 30 were killed later in the war. Another 200 Canadian pilots fought with RAF Bomber Command and RAF Coastal Command during the period and approx 2,000 Canadians served as ground crew.

    Of these, 26 were in No. 1 Squadron RCAF, flying Hurricanes. The squadron arrived in Britain soon after Dunkirk with 27 officers and 314 ground staff. This squadron would later be re-numbered as No. 401 "City of Westmount" Squadron RCAF, in line with Article XV of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which numbered Dominion air force units under RAF operational control in the 400-series, to avoid confusion with RAF units. (These squadron numbers are still used by Canadian squadrons, to honour their predecessors; much later in the war, three "600" series non-Article XV RCAF squadrons were authorized to form in 70 Group, RAF Fighter Command, Nos. 664, 665 and 666.)

    No. 1 Squadron made an inauspicious start to its service with Fighter Command, when on 24 August 1940 two of its Hurricanes mistook a flight of Bristol Blenheims for Junkers Ju 88s, shooting one down with the loss of its crew; an example of what is now known as friendly fire. No. 1 became the first RCAF unit to engage enemy aircraft in battle when it met a formation of German bombers over southern England on 26 August 1940, claiming three kills and four damaged with the loss of one pilot and one aircraft. By mid-October the squadron had claimed 31 enemy aircraft destroyed and 43 probables or damaged for the loss of 16 aircraft and three pilots.

    Other Canadians were spread across RAF squadrons, and on the second day of the Battle, 11 July, Canada suffered its first fighter casualty. In a Luftwaffe attack on the Royal Navy Dockyard naval base at Portland Harbour, Plt Off D. A. Hewitt of Saint John, New Brunswick, flying a Hurricane with No. 501 Squadron RAF, attacked a Dornier Do-17 bomber and was hit himself. His aircraft plunged into the sea. Another Canadian pilot, Richard Howley, died eight days later.

    The dispersed Canadian airmen included one who flew with No. 303 (Polish) Squadron. A total of 12 Canadian pilots in the Royal Air Force flew with No. 242 Squadron RAF at various times through the Battle. On August 30, under the command of Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, nine 242 Squadron aircraft met 100 enemy aircraft over Essex. Attacking from above, the squadron claimed 12 victories for no loss.

    Canadians also shared in repulsing the Luftwaffe's last major daylight attack. On 27 September, 303 Squadron and 1 Squadron RCAF attacked the first wave of enemy bombers. Seven enemy aircraft were claimed destroyed, one probably destroyed and seven damaged.

    The top Canadian scorer during the Battle was Flt Lt H. C. Upton of No. 43 Squadron RAF, who claimed 10.25 aircraft shot down.

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    Re: The Canadian Contribution to the Battle of Britain

    Post by Battalion Colours on Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:12 pm

    The following website provides information on RCAF Fighter Units which served overseas during WW II:

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