Four Months in the Life of a Spitfire IX Wing – 25 July 1944 – Operation Cobra

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Remembering Michael Rico Sharun DFC

I found Michael Rico Sharun’s name on this post I wrote about Paul Piché a few years ago.

The post was titled Paul Piché Killed.

The original post follows…


I had never noticed this before on these two pages sent by Arthur Horrell’s grandniece Nicole…

One picture is missing from this page of Art Sager’s pictures of the men under his command.

443photo3_0001

In fact two pictures are missing.

443photo1

I wonder who was Chuck Charlesworth?

Is it him mentioned on this Website?

Weather clear and warm, visibility very good. Squadron took part in front line patrols again today without incident. This airfield was subjected to an attack by enemy anti-personnel bombs at approximately 1100 hrs. It is likely that only one large container of these bombs was dropped; there were two casualties among our pilots, W/O Gaudet received a slight cut on one arm which was treated immediately and this pilot cleared as fit; F/L H. C. Charlesworth was injured in the left arm and has been transferred to Casualty Clearing Station at Eindhoven for X-Ray to determine the extent of his injuries which at present are considered only slight. There were two other attacks later in the day but not in our immediate vicinity. P/O P.C. Bookman returned this evening with a replacement Spitfire for the Squadron. Personnel busily engaged in “digging-in” around their living quarters as only protection against enemy attack by missiles from the air.

Source

buzzing the airfield

Two Spitfires of 443 Squadron take off
at radio-mast height of flying control van in Holland.

 

Is it just another name popping out also on this Website…?

Course 17: January 4 – March 7, 1941

Group Captain Frank McGill presented wings and addressed the graduates.

“The army, navy and air force all have an equal job to do in winning the war and no service alone will achieve the victory.”

(J/4554) Douglas Bruce Annan (DFC, AFC), (J/4556) John Wylie Wood, Shawness, Alberta; (J/4557) Cyril Victor Mark – AFC, +(J/4560) Arthur Williams – 74 Sqn.; (J/4561) Roderick Illingsworth Alpine Smith – DFC & Bar – 126 Sqn.; (J/4562) John Eric Hockey – POW 434 Sqn.; +(J/4563) George Ketchen Graham, Belleville; +(J/4566) Warren Ainsley Roberts – 405 Sqn.; (J/4567) James Weir Clarke; (R/60421) Robert Clarence Pearson, (R/60522) Louis Rolston Babb, (R/74146) Robert Kennedy Storie, John ‘Jack’ Robertson, Hammond, Indiana; Arthur Pratt Harrison, Owen Sound; George L. Sprague, Ottawa; (R/71258) Francis Hugh Belcher – POW; Chuck McLean, Brockville;

Harold Clinton Charlesworth – 12/601/443 Sqns., Chemainus, B.C., +(R/74596 – J/15097)

Thomas Douglas Holden – 411 Sqn., Chilliwack, B.C., Charles A. Rainsforth – 198 Sqn., Edmonton; (J/18793) Michael Rico Sharun – DFC 416 Sqn., St. Paul, Alberta; J.G.K. Barrie, Edmonton; James Weir Clark, Hezenmore, Alberta; +(R/54314) William George Pavely – 615 Sqn., Ottawa; R.G. Smith, Chatham; James Cartwright Uniacke Bayly – 402 Sqn., Toronto; E. Heid, Toronto; Herbert Hugh Hinton, Streetsville; J.D. Marsh, Ft. William; J.W. Munro, Madoc; +(J/13467) William Robert Widdess – 198 Sqn., Peterborough; (R77007 – J/15970) William Frank Kenwood – 411 Sqn., POW 92 Sqn., Westmount, Que.; L.B. Madden, St. Laurent; +(J/23021) Walter Gerard O’Hagan – 402 Sqn., Montreal; +(J/13996) Arnold Ridgway, Outremont; M.A.C. Smith, Rougemont Station; (J/15056) Richard Attwill Ellis – DFC 412 Sqn., Montreal West; J.C. Marshall, Montreal; (R/74035) Joseph Bernard Marius Vilandre – POW 111 Sqn., Montreal; R.S. Bowker, Granby; (J/21668) Bernard Bryce Miller – DFC 428 Sqn., Carman, Manitoba

Not much information, but at least I know he did not get killed.

Footnote

After writing this article, I found more information about F/L Charlesworth on this Website.

TWO STUKAS ARE CITY ACE’S ONE-DAY SCORE
F/L Don Gordon Registers Ninth Kill Supporting Canadians
in West Front Drive

9 Feb. 1945 – F/L Don C. Gordon, D.F.C., shot down two German Stukas Thursday, shared in downing a third, and brought his score to nine planes destroyed, at least four probables and at least nine damaged.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Gordon, of 3812 West Sixteenth, he was flying in support of the Canadian offensive. The “kills” were made over the front southeast of Wesel.

Two other B.C. flyers, F/L Phil Blades, Victoria, and F/L H. C. Charlesworth, Chemainus, took part in the destruction of two locomotives and damaged two more southwest of Hamm.

They were part of a group of Canadian Typhoons and Spitfires who flew more than 300 sorties from dawn to dusk Thursday, striking German rail and road systems and border towns.

F/L Gordon, 25, flying with the Caribou Spitfire squadron, adopted by New Westminster, is a veteran of Channel dogfights, El Alamein and Ceylon.

His Distinguished Flying Cross award, mentioned in a report from London, is a surprise to his mother. She heard some time ago, however, that he had been recommended for the award.

F/L Gordon was born in Vancouver and educated at Kitchener, Point Grey Junior High and Lord Byng High schools. He enlisted in June 1940; went overseas in the summer of 1941. He was home on three weeks’ leave last summer after completing two tours of operations in three different theatres of war. He is now on his third tour.
A brother, F/O Merritt Gordon, is stationed at Dauphin, Man., and his sister, F/Sgt. Margaret Gordon, is with the R.C.A.F. overseas.

F/L Blades and F/L Charlesworth are both flying with the Red Indian Spitfire squadron. F/L Charlesworth is also a veteran of the North African campaign.

More here.

Waterdown Flyer Mentioned
Green, recently appointed flight commander, also saw fragments fly off the aircraft he attacked but lost sight of it later and could only claim it as “damaged.”

Other Canadians from the squadron who helped repel the Nazi attackers included Flight-Lieut. John P. McColl, Waterdown, Ont.; Pilot-Officers R.I. Alpine Smith, Regina; Jack Brookhouse, Montreal; Lloyd Stewart, Fair Hills, Sask.; Harold Charlesworth, Chemainis, Vancouver Island; Richard A. Ellis, Montreal; Warrant Officer J.D. Stevenson, Winnipeg; Flight-Sgt .Stewart Pearce, Toronto, and Sgt. W.F. Aldcorn, Gouverneur, Sask. Warrant Officers Francis MacRae, Montreal navigator, and Sgt. Pilot Albert Attwell, of Toronto, both agree “you’re safer in the air than on the ground.”

MacRae came back from a hazardous bombing trip to a French arms center. After reporting to the intelligence officer, he went to the officers’ mess for a hot drink before retiring. The mess floor had been freshly polished and as he walked in the door he slipped and fell and fractured his left knee.

Attwell also came through the perils of a bombing attack across the channel. Returning from St. Nazaire, his aircraft crashed into a hill in England and he suffered a fracture of the left leg.

The two Canadians share neighboring beds in the same hospital.

I have a feeling someday a relative of Chuck Charlesworth will write a comment or contact me like Paul Piché’s granddaughter did this week.


Update

Now what about Michael Rico Sharun from Alberta?

This group picture on the left was once shared by Buck McNair’s son. 

This picture is from Gordon McKenzie Hill’s collection.

This colorised version I did to thank Gordon Hill for sharing his collection of pictures…

More on “Mush” Sharun…

Michael Rico Sharun DFC

SHARUN, F/O Michael Rico (J18793) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.416 Squadron – Award effective 23 March as per London Gazette dated 3 April 1945 and AFRO 765/45 dated 4 May 1945.

Born 19 April 1915 in Mundare, Alberta; home in St.Paul, Alberta (clerk). Enlisted in Edmonton. Posted to No.2 ITS, 14 October 1940; graduated and promoted LAC, 15 November 1941; posted next day to No.2 EFTS; to No.2 SFTS, 4 January 1941. Graduated and promoted Sergeant, 17 March 1941. To Embarkation Depot, 18 March 1941; to RAF overseas, 29 March 1941.

Promoted Flight Sergeant, 1 October 1941; commissioned 2 August 1943. Promoted Flying Officer, 2 February 1944. Repatriated 6 February 1945. To Station Edmonton, 14 February 1945; to Northwest Air Command, 7 June 1945; to Release Centre, 11 June 1945; retired 14 June 1945.

RCAF photo PL-2713 shows Sergeants M.R. Sharun (St. Paul, Alberta), H.V. Peterson (Calgary), L. Smitten (Edmonton) and L. Bolli (Jasper, Alberta). Photo PL-7161 shows him inspecting tail of Spitfire.

Credited with the following aerial victories:

14 July 1944, one Bf.109 destroyed north of Lisieux;
28 July 1944, one Bf.109 destroyed near Caen;
28 August 1944, one Bf.109 destroyed near Forges.

This officer has now completed his second tour of operations. During his first tour he was engaged in fighter operations from Malta, proving himself to be a gallant and courageous pilot and leader. Since June 1944 he has served with his squadron from bases in France, Belgium and Holland and during the German retreat.

In August 1944 he destroyed more than 60 transport vehicles and nine locomotives. He has also destroyed three enemy aircraft.


RCAF Press Release No. 1495 dated 27April 1943, drafted by F/L Kenneth A. MacGillivray, Public Relations Officer, RCAF, Middle East. Malta

– Scrapping with a bunch of Me109s under ordinary conditions is a tricky enough business for any fighter pilot. But when he is trying to protect both himself and a pal floating in the sea below him in a rubber dinghy, it gets a bit complicated. Ask Sergeant Pilot M.R. “Mush” Sharun, of St. Paul, Alberta, one of a number of RCAF lads in a RAF fighter squadron in Malta. Sharun found himself in such a position a few weeks ago, after an English flying-mate had been shot down into the sea in a “dog-fight” off the island. “It was a bit tricky,” he recalls, “but it had its funny side –like a strange game of tag in the air. There were several of us trying to circle over the lad in the water, and the Runs kept attacking us, and then scooting off, as though they were trying to lure us away from the spot. But we didn’t fall for that, and soon our R.A.F. launch came out and picked up our pal. Then the Runs lost interest and went off.” Sharun, who, before the war worked at a mining job in the far northern Yellowknife District, has had 80 hours of fighter operations, of which he has put in 50 in Malta. In addition to fighter sweeps here, he has taken part in “train-busting” and straffing. Another Alberta lad flying fighters in Malta is Sergeant Pilot Gordon Cameron of 11010 – 87th Avenue, Edmonton, who by a coincidence also was in the Yellowknife District as a diamond driller before he joined the R.C.A.F. Furthermore, Cameron and Sharun both served on the same R.C.A.F. fighter squadron in Britain before coming to Malta. Cameron has had 60 hours of operations, including numerous sweeps and patrols, and finds Malta very much to his liking.

Larry Robillard

I should have been searching for more information about Larry Robillard.

I got this comment on him.

I knew Larry Robillard in Montreal in the 60s. Very sorry to hear he died in 2008. Had tried to find him for some time. He still had a book I lent him! Larry had a son who was probably in his 20’s at that time. Do you know where to contact him? Do you know if Larry lived in Montreal until his death? I know he loved Montreal and especially the Windsor Hotel, owned I think by his friend Lorne Webster?

Nice that you keep the memories alive.

So I went to look for more information.

Source

http://www.westsideaction.com/noble-residents/

The modest house shown above on Elm Street is typical for the neighborhood. West Side homes have seen many stories played out. But this story is far from typical.

This is the home Joseph Guillaume Laurent “Larry” Robillard and his brothers grew up in.

On November 8, 1941, 70 years ago, Sgt. Robillard of the Royal Canadian Air Force was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. He downed two enemy aircraft while protecting a descending parachutist. Then just 20 years old, the resident of 15 Elm Street had already shot down a Messerschmitt 109 on 22 June.

During a patrol over Lille, France, on 2 July 1941, then a novice pilot with less than a month’s flying under his belt, he saw a descending parachutist and moved down to protect him. Nine Nazi fighters moved in to kill them both. In the following firefight, Larry Robillard shot down two German fighters and drove off the others (the parachutist lived).

Unfortunately, he was shot down in the process. Would he become the 404th RCAF casualty of the war?

Within a few minutes of his crashing in occupied France, peasants came rushing up with civilian clothes. They removed his uniform and hid it. Dressed as a peasant, he was employed by the Germans to head up the search for himself.

With the assistance of the Resistance, aided by his fluent French, he walked across France, snuck through the Spanish border, and travelled at nights across Fascist Spain, and snuck across the border into British Gibraltar on 12 August 1941. He had travelled through 1724 km of enemy territory. By October, he was back in the UK where he got his DFM medal. He wasn’t promoted, however, until March 1942.

The New York Times reported on June 6, 1942 that a civic reception was held on Parliament Hill in honour of Larry Robillard and Paul Émile Morin. Over 10,000 people showed up on the lawn of Parliament Hill. By November of  1942, Robillard had eight enemy planes to his credit.

In November 1943, Larry’s little brother RJ, aged 19, who had been serving in the Wildcat Squadron patrolling over Alaska, flew cross country and then over the Atlantic to join the RCAF in Europe.

On June 29th, 1944 (just three weeks after the D Day Normandy invasion) Larry Robillard was part of a group of RCAF fighters than engaged 34 enemy aircraft in Normandy and shot down 26 of them in one day. Robillard was credited with one kill.

He retired as a Lieutenant Commander in 1955.

He was born in Ottawa on 17 November 1920, residing with his parents and brothers at 15 Elm Street. He learned to fly at the Ottawa Flying Club. Robillard died at his home in Montreal, Canada on 8th March 2006.

I would have liked to add a comment on that post, but the comment section is closed.

To be continued?

 

Good Day…

This is how sometimes this blog will evolve…

Good day. My father F/L John R Irwin flew with 443 Squadron during WWII. He passed away 20 years ago of complications from cardio-vascular disease. I’m curious and wonder if there’s some way to determine something I’ve been unable to clarify. That is…who was flying wing to S/L Wally McLeod the day he didn’t return?

Many thanks for any assistance you may be able to offer

Regards,

Tony Irwin

A comment is how this blog was created back in 2013 when Nicole Morley wrote a comment on another blog I had created in 2011. It was about RCAF 403 Squadron.

Nicole wanted to share a story with me about her granduncle Arthur James Horrell who was with 443 Squadron…

She wanted to know more about how her granduncle died.

Then little by little other people joined in like Tara whose grandfather was Paul Piché seen here on a group picture.

Paul Piché died in the same crash as Arthur Horrell.

Later on Nicole visited Ivor Williams.

Ivor was on the group picture and he identified a few pilots.

There were a few errors but they were later corrected thanks to Nicole and Tara who teamed up.

Which brings me four years later to write about another pilot who was not on that group picture, but on this post written in April 2013

F/O J. R. Irwin was just first a name, then a picture which was shared Art Sager’s son.

This is what Tony Irwin has just shared a few minutes ago…

 

A picture of his father when he was a recruit.

Tony wanted to know more…

I’m curious and wonder if there’s some way to determine something I’ve been unable to clarify. That is…who was flying wing to S/L Wally McLeod the day he didn’t return?

How Wally McLeod died and who was his wingman?

 

To read Leslie Birket Foster’s memoirs, click here.

To learn more about F/O J. R. Irwin…?

For your consideration.

An aviation print by Robert Taylor depicting ‘The Canadian Wing’ patrolling the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. As per my dad’s log book he participated in those patrols.

Sometimes it takes time to get it right – Fairfield

This was written a while back… It was about a Spitfire pilot. Ivor Williams has identified him as Ferguson.

How could we argue with Ivor Williams who was part of 443 Squadron?

Now let’s go back in time on this blog.


Lost somehow in translation…

 

Hi Nicole and Pierre,

I misunderstood your email Nicole. I will make the correction. Therefore, the last unknown pilot (originally identified as “Ferguson” is in the back row on the far right.

This must be E.H. Fairfield.

Tara

new identification 443 January 1944

 

Squadron photo Jan 1944 Fairfield

Hal Fairfield modified picture

E.H. Fairfield

 

RCAF 443 Squadron pilots (Art Sager's collection)

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