BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ F/O OTTO JOHN “PETE” PETERSON

BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ F/O OTTO JOHN “PETE” PETERSON

  F/O Peterson was born on March 14, 1914 in Eckville, Alberta.  He attended Lloydminster High School, University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Manitoba, prior to joining the RCAF in 1938.  Before going overseas last June he served at an east coast Canadian air station. Peterson was attached to Canada’s No. 1 fighter squadron of the RCAF when it arrived in the United Kingdom on June 20, 1940.     Our Museum has a copy of the combat report written on September 9, 1940.  At the time, he was flying  S.E. of Guilford.  The enemy was flying an ME.109 at a height of 18,000 feet.  Peterson recorded, “I was Green 2 and was the second section in line astern and climbing.  Suddenly the Squadron Leader did a sharp break away to the left, green section followed.  I saw two ME.109s apparently diving on the Squadron Leader.  Green 1 attacked one of them and I immediately swung on the other’s tail and opened fire at about 250 yards closing to about 75 yards.  Suddenly I saw bits flying off the e/a and then it began to smoke flames pouring out the belly, the aircraft just disintegrated.  I immediately began my break away but ran into some loose part of the e/a, breaking my wind screen the pieces of glass and perspex cutting my face and obscuring my vision.  My propeller was also hit by pieces of e/a and broke 8 inches of the end.  I came down from about 15, 000 to 4,000 before even being able to see my instruments.  I still lost height due to my obscured...
BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ F/LT G.R. MCGREGOR

BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ F/LT G.R. MCGREGOR

  Gordon McGregor was born in Montreal on September 26, 1901.  Educated at St. Andrews College and McGill University, McGregor was the winner of the 1935, 1936, and 1938 Webster Trophy award, presented to non-professional airmen and awarded for airmanship and navigation. He was commissioned in October 1938, at the time serving with RCAF 115 Squadron.  At the outbreak of war, pilots of his squadron, along with those from No. 1 Squadron, formed No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron.  McGregor was a Flight Commander with this squadron when it arrived in Britain June 20, 1940.   Following a number of successes, he was awarded the DFC (gazetted on October 25, 1940).  He commanded the squadron during November and December of that year, and in January 1941, he was given command of 2 (RCAF) Squadron at Digby (renumbered 402 Squadron March 1st).  In April, McGregor was promoted to lead the Canadian Wing at Digby.  He returned briefly to Canada but was back in London by fall.  He was appointed Director of Air Staff at HQ RCAF London on December 5th and was there until mid-April, 1942, when he once again returned to Canada. McGregor formed and commanded a Wing to give air support to Americans in Alaska.  In January 1943, he was made an OBE (Order of the British Empire).  He took command of Patricia Bay at the beginning of April, where its squadrons served on defence of the west coast of Canada. McGregor returned to England on February 23, 1944, where he spent four months at HQ 83 Group and in summer was given command of 126 (RCAF) Wing.  He still...
BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ HENRY BIRKLAND

BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ HENRY BIRKLAND

HENRY BIRKLAND RCAF SPITFIRE PILOT WW2     Henry Birkland was born 16 August 1917 in Caldwell, Manitoba. Birkland was educated in Calgary, Alberta and worked for the Burns Co. Birkland enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in July 1940 as an aircrew candidate. Following his basic training, he was promoted to leading aircraftman and was then posted to elementary flying school RCAF. He graduated in January 1941 and was transferred to No.9 Service Flight Training School. Now as a qualified pilot, he was promoted on April 1941 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer. Shortly after, he sailed for England to fly operationally with the Royal Air Force Fighter Command. After six weeks of operational training, Birkland joined No.122 RAF Fighter Command and assigned to Spitfire aircraft. He was later transferred to No. 72 Squadron RAF where he continued to fly Spitfires.   On the afternoon of 7 November 1941, he was on a mission over occupied Europe when he was shot down. After bailing out, he was captured becoming a prisoner of war. Following German interrogation he was sent to Stalag Luft 1, and later to Stalag Luft 3 which was near Sagan, now in Poland. The Great Escape For the Great Escape operation, Birkland, who was at one time a gold miner, became one of the leading and most energetic of the many many prisoners who were involved in the tunnelling of the three tunnels: Tom, Dick and Harry. The Plan The escape plan, conceived by RAF Roger Bushnell, a South African lawyer who also volunteered for the RAF, was for three tunnels and the escape of 200 prisoners in one night....
BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ GROUP CAPTAIN JOHNNY KENT

BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACES ~ GROUP CAPTAIN JOHNNY KENT

GROUP CAPTAIN JOHN “JOHNNY” KENT, R.A.F DFC & BAR AFM VIRTUTI MILITAI     Group Captain Johnny Kent was a Canadian Air Ace flying with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Considered to be one of the best squadron leaders of the war, he went on to a distinguished career in aviation. Born in Winnipeg Manitoba, where he obtained his flying license at age 17. He went on to being one of Canada’s first commercial pilots at age 19. He left Canada in 1935 and enlisted in the RAF; he was posted to #5 Flying School, before joining #19 Squadron at RAF Duxford where he was moved on to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and with his research work, deliberately made over 300 airborne collisions with barrage balloons to test them before production.     In May 1940, Kent was posted to Photographic Reconnaissance flying an unarmed Supermarine Spitfire in France. During the last of the Battle of France, while on a low level sortie with an armed Spitfire, he was attacked by an ME109 that crashed during this encounter. On 2 August 1940, now a Flight Commander, Kent joined the now famous #303 Polish Squadron at RAF Northolt where he remained throughout the Battle of Britain. During this period he was awarded his first DFC. In October 1940 he was again re-posted, this time to RAF Biggin Hill to take command of another highly successful group of pilots RAF #92 Squadron.     In June 1941, Kent was promoted to Wing Commander and again was posted back to RAF Northolt, this time lead the Polish Wing of four squadrons. In early 1942,...

SPITFIRE PILOT ~ FLYING OFFICER PATRICK LANGFORD

Patrick Langford was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the son of  Mr & Mrs Richard Langford. His father was a Forest Ranger at the Jasper National Park and its first Chief Warden from 1911. He returned to England to serve in WW1 and settled back in Jasper in 1919.       Patrick was born 4th November 1919. He was educated at Jasper Public and High School from September 1926 to June 1936 and Banff High School from September 1936 until June 1937 and worked summer jobs for Brewster Transport as a driver and later in the National Park. On 29 January 1940 in Edmonton, Alberta he joined the RCAF as a Regular Service officer and was commissioned; he was assigned to the Calgary Aero Club flying Gypsy Moth aircraft. He received further training in Toronto and at RCAF Camp Borden. On September 1941, he flew to England and was sent for operational training flying Wellington Bombers.   On the night of 28 July 1942, he took off to bomb the German Shipbuilding and Port of Hamburg. His bomber was singled out by searchlights and the aircraft was shot down over Lubeck in Northern Germany. Three of the crew were killed on landing, one was unhurt but taken prisoner, but Langford and the rear gunner were seriously injured and spent two months in hospital. On recovering he was sent to Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan, now in Poland. As prisoner #710 Langford was involved in the planning and excavation of the tunnel code-named “Harry” which was located under the barracks stove in Room 23 Block 104.  With the constant checks...

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