At first he was an unidentified pilot on a group picture.
Just to let you know the unknown squadron 443 member kneeling in the front row beside Luis Perez Gomez is Sidney Bregman (not EH Fairfield). When the Step-Daughter of Sidney e-mailed me she confirmed that after looking at the photo copy of the squadron picture I sent her she knew right away that Sidney was the unknown squadron member. I was saying to Tara that I’m curious now to figure out which one is EH Fairfield in the squadron picture?
More after this comment…
I am pleased to learn that Sidney Bregman lived a long and full life with a large family. The reason for my interest is that on my 58th birthday (27th. September 2016) I will be flying in Spitfire MJ627 in which, as a member of RCAF 441 squadron, on the same day in 1944, P/O Bregman shot down a Messerschmitt Bf109 over Arnhem. I have many reasons for making this flight, but mainly it is as an act of respect and remembrance, also to try and gain a greater appreciation of the difficulties and discomfort that the men who took part in this conflict underwent. To say nothing of the thrill of a lifetime in actually flying one of these beautiful aircraft.
Taken from the Website
MJ627 was built at Castle Bromwich in 1943 as an LF MK IXc and entered service with 441 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) serving with the RAF. MJ627’s first operational sortie was flown on 25th September 1944 from advanced landing ground B70 in Belgium. In service, MJ627 carried the Squadron code letters of ‘9G’ and was painted with invasion stripes as it is flown today. On 27th September 1944, only two days after entering service, MJ627 destroyed a Messerschmitt Me 109 over Arnhem whilst flown by P/O Sidney Bregman.
Sid Bregman’s personal account of the ‘kill’ is produced below:
“On September 27, 1944, we were patrolling the area around Arnhem, at about two in the afternoon, as a squadron. We all had special long-range tanks on the underside of our aircraft, which gave us some additional range, because we were stationed at Antwerp at the time. Normal range was 80 to 90 minutes at the most. Those tanks gave us an extra hour.
In any case, while we were patrolling over Arnhem, my engine stopped. Obviously the tank had fallen off, so I switched immediately. That particular manoeuvre put me in a position somewhat astern of the rest of the squadron, although my wingman was still with me.
As I looked over my shoulder, lo and behold, there was an Me 109 alone, with me now very manoeuvrable because I didn’t have that tank. It took about two or three seconds for me to get in line, and another second or two after that I hit the 109.
That was the end of it – it only took 11 shells altogether. Just a quick burst and it went down immediately. Because I’d lost the tank, I got permission from the squadron leader to head back to Antwerp. My kill was confirmed later by Don Kimball. Apparently, the 109 crashed into the Rhine at Arnhem. We had done a lot of air-to-ground, but that was my first German aircraft. ”
Beyond its kill, MJ627 has a well-documented wartime history with numerous ground attack, bomber escort and patrol missions being recorded as well as gun camera footage of aerial combat.
In December 1944, 441 Squadron was posted to the Orkneys and on 9th March 1945, MJ627 was involved in an off airfield forced landing following engine problems. The accident was classified as ‘beyond repair on site’ being subsequently transported to Hamble, where work was completed in 1946. Following repair, MJ627 was placed in storage with a total of 245.05 airframe hours.
After the war
In July 1950, MJ627 was sold to Vickers Armstrong Ltd and converted to two seat MK IX(T) configuration against an order from the Irish Air Corps (IAC). Now designated ‘158’, the aircraft was delivered to the IAC on 5th June 1951, serving with ‘A’ Flight Fighter Squadron. In April 1960, ‘158’ was withdrawn from service with a total of 1002 flying hours and offered for tender in an ‘as is’ condition. MJ627 then passed through various ownerships until being purchased by Mr Maurice Bayliss in 1976. MJ627 then underwent an extended restoration, with the first post restoration flight taking place at Coventry Airport in November 1993, exactly 50 years after its first flight from Castle Bromwich less than 20 miles away.
MJ627 remained in the Bayliss Family ownership until 2014, when it was sold to Richard Verrall. Ownership was subsequently transferred to Warbird Experiences Limited at Biggin Hill, where it operates today.
Over 70 years and 1500 flying hours after being built, Spitfire MJ627 continues to grace the skies of southern England in memory of the ‘Few’.
I flew in and flew this beautify bird on the 7th July 2016. A pure pleasure.
The fact that this plane has a real history is fantastic and to have flown in it is a real honour.
Steve Davies. “Redcar”
I just wrote you a personal message.
I was also very privileged to fly MJ627 in Aug 2011 when she was based at Waddington. Her full wartime reg was 9G-Q, after her restoration in 1993 Maurice registered the aircraft as 9G-P but was then changed again by Richard back to 9G-Q.
Indeed very very privileged
I flew in this beautiful bird on September 9th 2018 not long before my father’s birthday who along with my mother passed away this year. My father served in the RAF during national service and would have loved to have had a flight, but he did in a way as I took some of my dad’s ashes with me. I had an hour and what an experience never to forget and great respect to the men who were the “Few”. Paul Cobb
Thanks for sharing this Paul. People often ask me why I write so much. You are the reason I do.