Royal Air Force No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron

No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron RAF, crest.

30 Oct 1939.  Formation of No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron RAF, commanded by RCAF S/L Fowler M. Gobeil, to provide an early Canadian presence in the war.  The Squadron took significant casualties and was reinforced with non-Canadian personnel.  No. 242 Squadron was later commanded by S/L Douglas Bader.

(RuthAS Photo, Sep1971)

Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIC (Serial No. LF363) wearing the LE code of No. 242 Squadron RAF.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3644386)

S/L Douglas Bader DSO (front centre) with some of the Canadian pilots of his Squadron, No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron, grouped around his Hawker Hurricane at Duxford, England, Sep 1940.  No. 242 Squadron pilots, P/O Denis Crowley-Milling[1], Canadian F/O Hugh Tamblyn[2], Canadian F/L Stan Turner[3], Sgt Joseph Earnest Saville on the wing, Canadian P/O Neil Campbell, F/O William Lidstone McKnight, S/L Douglas Bader[5], F/L George Eric Ball[6], P/O Michael Giles Homer[7], Canadian F/O Marvin Kitchener “Ben” Brown[8],1940.

[1] Later Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling, KCB, CBE, DSO, DFC & Bar, AE (22 March 1919 – 1 December 1996).

[2] P/O Hugh Norman Donald Tamblyn, DFC, was born in Watrous, Saskatchewan in 1917. He served with No. 141 Squadron flying Boulton Paul Defiants before being posted to No. 242 Squadron flying Hawker Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain. He was Killed In Action on 3 April 1941. He was shot down into the sea by return fire from a Dornier Do 17 while on convoy duty east of Felixstowe, England. He radioed that his Hurricane aircraft was on fire. A search found his body unwounded.  He had died of exposure.  Hugh Tamblyn is buried in the Ipswich Cemetery, Suffolk, England.

[3] W/C Percival Stanley Turner, DSO, DFC & Bar (3 September 1913 – 23 July 1985) served with the RAF and the RCAF during the Second World War.  He holds the record of the most combat hours flown of any Canadian pilot. Turner's parents emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, when he was at a young age. While studying engineering there, he joined the RCAF Auxiliary. In 1938 Turned joined the RAF, completing his pilot training just as Britain entered the Second World War. He was posted to fly Hurricanes with No. 242 Squadron RAF.  Over Dunkirk, he scored the first of his 14aerial victories during the war. During the Battle of Britain, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Stan Turner was also involved in some other interesting and remarkable events during the war. He flew escort for the mission that was agreed to by the Germans to drop an artificial leg to Douglas Bader. Turner and Bader were good friends, despite a rocky start when Bader took over command of the Canadian pilots who had survived the Battle of France.  Bader won over Turner and the other Canadians by generously replacing their kit they had lost in France from his personal stores, not to mention by demonstrating his flying skills.  After the Battle of Britain, Turner was posted to No. 145 Squadron RAF in June 1941,where he transitioned over to the Supermarine Spitfire Mk II. During this time,Johnnie Johnson remarked that Stan was a "Fearless and great leader" of his squadron.  In October 1941 he was awarded a Bar to his DFC while flying over France again. With a short rest in between, Turner was then given command of No. 411 Squadron RCAF. His posting there spurred many requests to be transferred to thesquadron, a notable one accepted was that of Robert Wendell "Buck" McNair. In 1942, he was then transferred to the command of No. 249 Squadron RAF. On Malta at the height of the Siege of Malta. In 1943, he became wing leader of No. 244 Wing, fighting in Italy. In 1944, he was promoted to group captain and commanded No. 127 Wing RCAF. In May 1944, Stan was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the citation confirmed his 14 victories. “This distinguished fighter pilot has flown nearly 900 operational hours in single-engined fighters. Since November 1943 he has taken part in all the more important air operations during the invasion of Sicily and Italy and in the Sangro and Anzio battles. He has destroyed fourteen enemy aircraft and has always shown the utmost gallantry, enthusiasm and leadership.” He was posted back to the desert, to HQ, Desert Air Force to learn the intricacies of running entire Wings and Groups of aircraft. By this time, the Desert Air Force was in a backwater of the war, and it was pretty quiet. In November, his HQ schooling was over and he was posted to Britain as part of 84 Group of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, now fighting in Belgium. In January 1945 he was promoted to Group Captain and made CO of No. 127 Wing conducting intensive "mopping up"operations on the continent with four Spitfire Squadrons.

The famous Johnnie Johnson was his first Wing Commander Flying, he was succeeded by the very successful Canadian, WC Stocky Edwards. He oversaw the conversion of No. 127 Wing to ground attack duties and flew with it on the more important missions. By July the war was over and GC Stan Turner was posted back to England to Aldermaston until December. He reverted to the rank of Wing Commander as therewere just not enough positions in the Air Force for all of the Group Captains who were freed up by the disbandment of the fighter squadrons. In July 1946 hetransferred to the RCAF and attended Staff College. He took over 20 Wing from March 1947 to Feb 1948. In this period, he was awarded the Czechoslovakian War Cross, 1939 and Medal for Bravery for his work in the war. He then went througha variety of other duties, including Canadian Air Attaché in Moscow from Sep 1954 to Oct 1957. He was made the Commanding Officer of RCAF Station Lachine for 18 months. Then he was Air Force HQ Staff Officer, Personnel Administration in August, 1961. He finally retired as a Group Captain in 1965. Following retirement, he became an executive with the planning staff of Expo 67. Following this he worked with the exposition "Man and his World". He lived in the quiet town of Chambly, Quebec. He died on 23 July 1983, of a heart attack, while teaching kids to swim at a local pool in Ottawa. He had returned to his long-ago career of swimming instructor. Turner was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974. (Wikipedia)

[4] P/O Norman Neil Campbell was killed on 17 Oct 1940 when his Hawker Hurricane Mk. I Serial No. (V6575) crashed into the sea off Yarmouth, England.

[5] Group Captain Douglas R.S. Bader CBE, DSO and bar, DFC and bar, Legion d'Honneur, Croix de Guerre, whose dazzling success as a fighter pilot with artificial legs made him a national hero, Bader was a legend in his own lifetime for the courage and style with which he defied disablement. Bader had an academic ability which won him a scholarship to St Edward's School and a cadet ship at the elite RAF College, Cranwell. Douglas Bader joined No 23 Squadron at Kenley in July 1930 to fly Gamecocks. Asked to give an aerobatic demonstration in a Bulldog by pilots at a flying club, he declined; whereupon someone made a comment he could not ignore and took-off. Unfortunately the Bulldog's wingtip touched the ground during a low pass and it crashed. Bader lost both legs and was invalided out of the RAF. When war came his perseverance got him accepted back into the RAF for flying duties in Supermarine Spitfire Mk/ I's in No. 19 Squadron at Duxford. In June 1940,Bader was given command of No 242Squadron. A Canadian unit, the only one in the RAF at the time, No. 242 had been badly mauled in France, and its morale was low. Bader quickly transformed No. 242 into a tight, tough squadron by his courage, leadership and uncompromising attitude toward his pilots, ground crews and the RAF high command, with whom he soon had a major brush. After taking charge of No. 242, Bader soon discovered that the unit did not have the spare parts or tools to keep its 18 Hurricane fighters operational. After trying to sort out the problem through official channels, Bader signaled 12th Group Headquarters: "242 Squadron operational as regards pilots but non-operational as regards equipment." And he refused to announce his squadron as operational until its lack of tools and spares was rectified. It took a direct meeting between S/L Bader and Fighter Command's commander Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, to correct the mess. Within 24hours, No 242 Squadron had all the tools and spares it needed, and Bader signaled 12th Group: "242 Squadron now fully operational." Early in 1941 he commanded the first Tangmere Wing andhis tactics then were carried on by Fighter Command for some years. On 11th of August he baled out of his Spitfire, leaving his 'tin' right leg in the Spitfire, and became a prisoner of war for 3½ years, ending it in Colditz Castle after two attempted escapes. He retired from the RAF in July 1946 and rejoined Shell Oil, later being knighted. During only 15 months of operations his official score was 22½ enemy aircraft destroyed, although his personal tally was 30! His courage and determination in war and his work for the handicapped in peace inspired others until he passed away in 1983.

[6] George Eric Ball was born in 1919 in Tankerton, Kent. He was a candidate for a short service commission when he began his elementary flying training in April 1937. On 17 July he was posted to No. 7 FTS Peterborough and on completion of the course he joined No. 19 Squadron at Duxford on 19 Feb 1938.
Over Dunkirk on 26 May 1940 Ball destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and was wounded himself. During the night of 18-19 June he shot down a Heinkel He 111 north of Colchester.  On 24 June 1940 Ball joined No. 242 Squadron at Coltishall as 'A' Flight Commander. On 30 Aug he claimed a Heinkel He 111 destroyed, shared another and damaged a Messerschmitt Bf 110. On 7 Sep he claimed a Bf 110destroyed and a Bf 109 damaged. On 9 Sep, Bf 109 destroyed, on 18 Sep a Junkers Ju 88 and on 27 Sep, a Bf 109 damaged. Ball was awarded the DFC (gazetted 1 Oct1940) as an Acting Flight Lieutenant.  Posted from No. 242 on 29 Jan 1941, he joined No. 73 Squadron in the Western Desert as a Flight Commander. On 11 April 1941, very soon after his arrival, Ball flew into a sandstorm and was forced down and taken prisoner in Hawker Hurricane(Serial No. V7716).  After his release at the end of the war he married Renee Nina Gardner in April 1945 at Bridge, Kent. Ball was given command of No. 222 Squadron at Fairwood Common in Oct 1945. At the age of 27, he was killed in a flying accident on 1 Feb 1946 when his Gloster Meteor Mk. III (Serial No. EE448) failed to recover from a spiral dive during an aerobatic practice near Fairmile in Devon. He is buried in Exeter Higher Cemetery.

[7] Early in 1940, Flying Officer M.G. Homer was serving with No. 44 Squadron flying Handley Page Hampdens from Waddington. On 12 Apr he was the pilot of an aircraft which carried out a high-level bombing attack on two enemy cruisers in Christiansand Bay. He pressed home his attack in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire and attacks by enemy fighters, one of which his air gunner shot down.  He then flew his damaged aircraft safely back to base.  For this operation Homer was awarded the DFC (gazetted 26 April 1940).  In August he volunteered for Fighter Command and joined No. 1 Squadron at Northolt in early September 1940.  On 7 Sep he damaged a Dornier Do 17.  Homer was posted to No. 242 Squadron at Coltishall on 21 Sep. He was shot down and killed on 27 Sep 1940, when his Hawker Hurricane (Serial No. P2967) crashed in flames at Bluetown.  Homer was 21. He is buried in Godlingston Cemetery, Swanage.

[8] P/O Marvin K. Brown, No. 242 Squadron, came from Kincardine, Ontario. On 18 May 1940 in combat with Messerschmitt Bf 110’s of I/ZG76 near LeCateau, he was shot down in Hawker Hurricane (Serial No. N2320), coded LE-H and suffered bullet wounds in the right leg. He was evacuated to England and rejoined No. 242 on 13 Jul. He was killed in the crash of his Hawker Hurricane(Serial No. N2476), on 21 Feb 1941 at Grange Farm, Alderton, Suffolk. He was 25. He is buried in Ipswich Cemetery.

A total of 12 Canadian pilots in the Royal Air Force including F/O Willie McKnight flew with No. 242 Squadron RAF ,at various times through the Battle.  On 30 Aug, under the command of S/L Douglas Bader, nine No. 242 Squadron aircraft met 100 enemy aircraft over Essex. Attacking from above, the squadron claimed 12 victories for no loss.

(IWM Photo, CH 1342)

RCAF F/O William McKnight, Acting S/L Leader Douglas Bader, RAF, CO, and Acting F/L Eric Ball, RAF, No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron, RAF, standing outside the Officers' Mess at Duxford, Cambridgeshire in 1940.  By the date this photograph was taken these pilots had, between them, shot down over thirty enemy aircraft.  S/L Douglas Bader DSO,DFC. Bader was one of the RAF's top fighter aces until he was shot down in 1941. He spent the remainder of the war in a German POW camp.

(IWM Photo CH 1376)

Flight-Lieutenant P.S. Turner of No. 242 Squadron RAF, rests on the tail elevator of his Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, after landing at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, (No. 242 Squadron was based at Coltishall, Norfolk at this time).  Turner, a Canadian citizen, was a successful fighter pilot over France and during the Battle of Britain in 1940, destroying ten enemy aircraft.

If you found this valuable, consider supporting the author.