The current Squadron 443 in Victoria BC is hosting a celebratory dinner on June 6, 2019 to honor the original 443 members.
The dinner itself will be held at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort. I don’t know if anyone is aware but this year marks the 75th anniversary of the forming of the original squadron. Me and Tara have been busy reaching out to as many original 443 members families as possible (at least the ones we have e-mails or addresses for).
If there is anyone who had someone associated with the original Squadron 443 or was associated in some way with them please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org This dinner is probably one of the best ways we can give thanks to all those 443 members who put their lives on the line.
Nicole Morley (grandniece of Arthur James Horrell)
443 Squadron traces its roots to No. 127 Fighter Squadron RCAF, one of several fighter squadrons of Canada’s Eastern Air Command, formed in the early months of 1942. Equipped with Canadian-built Hawker Hurricanes, the Squadron conducted air defence operations while stationed at Gander, Newfoundland and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
With the diminished threat to North America and in preparation for the invasion of continental Europe, No. 127 (F) Squadron, along with a further five RCAF home-based squadrons, transferred to the United Kingdom and re-designated as 443 (F) Squadron RCAF (to fit within the Air Ministry’s designation convention) in February 1944 and equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX. 443 Squadron, along with its sister squadrons 441 and 442, commenced flying operations with 144 (F) Wing RCAF, W/C Johnnie Johnson commanding, of the 2nd Tactical Air Force just prior to the Normandy Invasion. 144 (F) Wing RCAF was the first Allied air wing to operate from French soil. These operations continued until August 1944. The Squadron then hop-scotched across France, Belgium, and Holland with 126 and 127 (F) Wings RCAF until “VE” Day, continuing to serve with the British Occupation Forces until disbanding in March 1946.
In 1951, 443 (F) Squadron (Aux) was reformed at Sea Island, Vancouver, as a Day Fighter Squadron in the RCAF Auxiliary, first flying P-51 Mustangs and eventually F-86 Sabres. In 1958, with the RCAF Auxiliary assuming the roles of Civil Defence, Search and Rescue and Light Transport, 443 (Aux) Squadron was re-equipped with the C-45 Expeditor and later the DHC-3 Otter and performed these roles until its second disbandment in March of 1964.
A decade later, in Shearwater, Nova Scotia, the Royal Canadian Navy’s only ship-borne helicopter squadron HS 50 (HS is the NATO designation for a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron) was successfully meeting the needs of the Navy. However, to better administer HS 50 Squadron, it was split into HS 423 and HS 443 in September of 1974. Each squadron was tasked with continuing to provide the Commander of Maritime Command with operational Sea King Helicopter Detachments.
In response to the ever-growing need for ship-borne helicopter assets in the Pacific, HS 443 Squadron was transferred to Victoria International Airport at Pat Bay, British Columbia, in July of 1989 where it now provides the Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific with Helicopter Air Detachments. Early in 1995, HS 443 was re-designated as 443 Maritime Helicopter (MH) Squadron to better fit the ever-changing geopolitical situations and the increasingly diverse roles of maritime helicopters and the ships they support.
Source of the history
Thank you for the invite. So pleased that you are recognising the veterans of 443 sqn. I’m related to William Bentley who was KIA whilst in Normandy serving on 443 Sqn. Bill stayed with my grandfather when he was billeted in the UK. I have done quite a lot of research around him and his service. Bill’s sister Betty, is a very active lady and still lives in Toronto, she was Bill’s youngest sister and very fond of Bill. She may be interested in your event. I will speak to her. I live in the UK so unlikely to be able to make it in person. I am planning to revisit Normandy in August and pay respects to Bill and visit B2 and B3 airfields along with the Canadian museum at Juno beach. Please pursue Bill’s Facebook page where I have collated all my information.
Out of interest are there any Veterans who served in 1944? Anyone remember Bill? I would love to meet them.
Please free to use Bill’s photos.
William John Bentley. RCAF – KIA 1944. – Home | Facebook
William John Bentley. RCAF – KIA 1944. 20 likes. This has been created both in memory of, and to aid further research into a relative who served an pilot…