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The Year That Was 1958

The following is taken verbatim from 439 Squadron archives.  Rank and decoration are those  held by the individuals at the time of writing. Background details, with rare exception are very scarce, so fresh input is always welcomed. 

Webmaster`s note: There are no entries from Mid-April 1954 until October 1958.  A brief hand written summary of the missing years follows can be found in The Sabre Era-1954 


29 Sep - 5 Oct Exercises and phase training were carried out during the week, as well as night flying Monday evening. Briefings were given by F/L Norn and F/O Redmond (the FWIs ) in preparation for firing at Sardinia. On Tuesday F/O Redmond did a single trip bringing his total F-86 time to 1,000 accident free hours - all with 439 Squadron. An excellent record ! F/L Baker was presented with the 12 years service medal (CD - Canadian Forces Decoration) by G/C Williams. Wednesday morning a lecture was given by F/S Barnette on the radar gun sight and trouble-shooting. Phase training and exercises were done Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and Friday morning. The Squadron received their pre-Deci shots ( immunisation) Friday afternoon, followed by a week-end stand-down. A Squadron party was held Friday evening in the Rec-Centre ( gym) and was a great success.

6 Oct - 12 Oct The Squadron is preparing for Sardinia. Little flying was carried out Monday and Tuesday as the aircraft were being made ready for the trip. The advance ground-crew and several pilots left Tuesday afternoon by Dakota (DC-3) for Deci. The Squadron flew 22 aircraft and one T-33 (F/Os Turner and Brown) to 1 AWU, Decimomannu. The first section, with big jugs, left at 1130 hrs and the last section arriving at Deci at 1445. On Thursday eight sector- recces were carried out for new pilots on the Squadron; the range was unserviceable due to weather. Again on Friday the weather did not co-operate and only two sections were able to fire. G/C Williams arrived with S/L Liggett in a T-33 to some firing on Saturday. The weather was good in the morning, but during the afternoon everyone did some swimming since the range was washed out. F/Ls Craig and McGarva went to Marville via T-33 and F/O Pattee via F-86 for the week-end. Sunday was a beautiful day at the beach with a three hour tour to a sunken city by bus.

13 Oct - 19 Oct Monday was the first really good firing day, with everyone getting some trips. G/C Williams and S/L Liggett returned to Marville, having had several firing sorties. F/Ls Craig and McGarva and F/O Pattee returned to Deci. Tuesday dawned bright and clear - an excellent firing day, getting the snags worked out of the aircraft. By Wednesday everyone had six trips, in preparation for the trophy shoot tomorrow. F/L Smith contracted ptomaine poisoning after eating in Cagliari and was quite sick all week. F/O Kerr had a score of 67 %, while F/L Norn's overall average for everything was 32.9 %. F/O Campbell's high trophy score was 53.8%. The trophy shoot was carried out on Thursday. All six guns were fired at 20,000 feet with 35 rounds per gun and three passes to fire out. Each aircraft was fired and each pilot had two trips. The aircraft serviceability was excellent and only four stoppages were encountered all day. F/O Redmond had a make-up sortie, for the last flag of the day, and with three other pilots, got off the ground on time. The flag shot off and so he was credited with a 0.0 % score although his film was excellent. Squadron average for the shoot was 16.86 %. Salt spray in the air on Friday curtailed operations considerably, with three weather checks going off at intervals during the day. No firing was done. On Saturday the range was unserviceable and the Squadron was stood-down. F/L Norn and F/O Pattee went to Marville by F-86s, Doctor Vietch, F/Ls Lewis, Baker, and Chapman with F/Ls Small, Joy, and Castledine went to Rome for the week-end. On Sunday those remaining at Deci spent the day at the beach and on a successful bus tour.

20 Oct - 26 Oct Monday morning F/L Norn and F/O Pattee returned from Marville, and the boys returned from the Rome trip, having had an excellent week-end. The Squadron started firing at 3,000 feet but by 1500 hrs the range was too cloudy. On Tuesday the aircraft were jugged for the return to Marville. Two drop tank tests and a weather check were flown. F/Os Coles and Turner left for Marville in a T-33, while F/Ls Baker, Jarvis, and F/Os Tidball and Kerr left via F-86 for the decompression course at Wiesbaden. F/O Turner returned with a spare part for Maintenance Tuesday afternoon. The Sabres left in sections Wednesday morning starting at 1100 hrs with everyone arriving safely. The North Star was delayed 24 hours for some pilots and ground-crew. While in Deci the Squadron had a record of no accidents or incidents. Tuesday evening the returned, and the teachers held a party for the single boys. The aircraft were stood down for gun cleaning, and on Friday, only exercises were carried out. Sally and F/L Don Coles had a son in the Viston hospital on Friday evening at 1000 hrs.

27 Oct - 2 Nov Donald left the Squadron this week for a short tour at T-33 Flight. Phase training was pushed this week, along with a number of exercises. F/L Chapman and F/O McQueen still unable to finish phasing due to a too low cloud base for low level work. A full T-33 and simulator program was run all week. Wednesday, flying was scrubbed all day. On Friday the RAF college was touring 1 Wing. Four F-86s, F/L Smith, F/Os Joy, Campbell and Reiffer demonstrated a very successful quick turnaround (land , re-fuel, re-arm and take-off in the shortest time possible). Time elapsed was 5 minutes 49 seconds. F/O Tidball carried out a decontamination (nuclear) demonstration under the spray. During the week a total of 84 sorties and 100.30 hours were flown. A son born to Joan and F/O Val Pattee on Wednesday morning, 29 Oct - at the 1 (F) Wing Hospital.

3 Nov - 9 Nov The weather was generally bad. Low ceilings persisted in the mornings, making limits too low for take-off, and alternate limits low.Monday was a complete washout, with five pilots skeet shooting in the rain. Tuesday afternoon several sorties were carried out, with stand down at 1500 hours for night flying. Night flying was carried out on the Paris-Brussels route. Wednesday afternoon twelve pilots flew to 2 (F) Wing in preparation for the (Canadian) Prime Minister's visit, and returned that afternoon via Dakota. The twelve pilots went to 2 (F) Wing by Dakota Thursday, and with painted helmets, stood in front of their F-86s along with other Air Division Squadrons for Mr. Deifenbaker's inspection. The aircraft were returned home that afternoon, after a mass take-off of 60 aircraft at 2 Wing. Also on Thursday, a practice for a flypast at Verdun on Tuesday 11 Nov.1958 was carried out. Friday afternoon seven F-86s and 6 CF-100s practiced the Cross of Lorraine flypast for the laying of wreaths by the Canadian Prime Minister and General Degaulle at Verdun next Tuesday. The Squadron was stood-down for the weekend. During the week a total of 93 sorties and 118.45 hours.

10 Nov - 16 Nov The weather is still not co-operating. Only three sections got off, two on exercises on Monday. F/O Carter returned from leave in the United Kingdom. A weather check was carried out on Tuesday morning, Armistice Day, and the ceiling was found to be 200 ft. Over Verdun - a bit low for the Cross of Lorraine flypast. The pilots therefore returned home. Zulu commenced Wednesday noon, with A and B Flights alternating days. Two practice scrambles were flown Wednesday afternoon. Thursday showed every aerodrome in Europe socked in with rain, freezing (rain), drizzle, snow, and fog. No flying was done at all. Friday, the weather was, once again, the same. Exercise Soft Spot was called at 0800 hrs. But was cancelled at 1400 hours, since the umpire could not get in by Dakota - the ceiling was 100 feet overcast. Saturday morning was a washout, with no alternates for the third straight day. Practice Zulu scrambles got off on Sunday bringing the total sorties to 41 and the hours to 48.50 for the week. Two new pilots, F/Os Pope and Jolly reported from Chatham. F/O Jolly will be with A Flight and F/O Pope with B Flight.

17 Nov - 23 Nov A shift in personnel was put into effect Monday morning. F/L Jarvis and F/O Redmond became officially FIGMO. They are sailing on the Saxonia on Dec 2nd . F/L Jarvis is posted to the Construction Engineering Branch at AFHQ, and F/O Redmond to Flying Instructors School (Harvards). F/L Smith and F/L Norris were taken from B Flight, to become a Flight Commander and Deputy Flight Commander respectively. F/L Ainsley returned from leave in Italy. The Squadron hockey team is having a difficult time getting started having lost their first two games. F/L McQueen went to Canada by TCA ( Trans Canada Airlines, the former name of Air Canada) for his father's funeral on Wednesday. Monday showed an improvement in the weather. Zulu scrambles, Phase training and NATO exercises were carried out. Exercise Soft Spot was called at 1300 hors Monday and the Squadron got sixteen aircraft airborne, most of them being diverted to the other three wings on return. The high state Zulu commitment was held in ORP during the exercise. On Tuesday the remaining away aircraft returned and normal flying was done. Wednesday morning was clear for the Zulu met briefing, but by 0730 hours it was fogged right in for the remainder of the day. Thursday showed no improvement, with the fog thicker, if possible, than Wednesday. A section leads meeting was held in the morning. Friday the weather was finally above limits and sorties were flown. F/O Tidball went to Aalborg, Denmark via T-33 for the weekend. F/L Milne was up from 6 TAC to put in some sword time. F/O McCann drove down from Oldenburg for the mug party tonight for F/L Jarvis and F/O Redmond. A Squadron dinner was held after the mug presentation, and was a big success. The Squadron was stood-down for the weekend, with a total weekend time of 99.20 and sorties 85.

24 Nov - 30 Nov Monday morning we finally got some Construction Engineering men up to do some work in the pilot's room. Some improvements are being made. The weather has been most discouraging. We no longer have a met briefing in the morning - it is now a fog report. Monday and Tuesday were socked right in, our limits coming high enough from time to time for take-offs, but no alternates at all. Wednesday was, if possible, worse than the proceeding days. The aircraft were all run up and slam checked in preparation for Zulu commencing at noon Wednesday, although it looks like we won't be flying. F/Os Turner and Brown returned from the United Kingdom in one new and reconditioned F-86 on Tuesday during slight break in the fog. The fog finally lifted enough to get airborne on Friday. F/O Redmond got his last F-86 trip prior to leaving the Squadron and F/O Grimm returned from the United Kingdom by T-33, not having been able to air test the F-86. Saturday afternoon was flyable and exercises and practice scrambles were carried out. Sunday was a washout. The week ended with the number of sorties as 19 and hours 24.25.

01 Dec - 06 Dec The weather finally broke clear for the first time in several weeks, exercises, air tests, practice scrambles, and night flying were done Monday and Tuesday. F/Os Jolly and Pope started phase training Wednesday (finally). Zulu was over Wednesday noon for another week. F/Os Turner, Olson, Campbell, and Reiffer went to Weisbaden for the decompression course. Thursday and Friday the weather was clear, with Exercise Argus taking most of the aircraft, while once again air tests, a few singles, phase training, night flying and exercises were flown. F/Os Brown, Turner, Burke, and Castledine went to the United Kingdom by F-86 for the weekend. The Squadron stood down for the weekend, with a total number of sorties of 157 and hours 197.00, the highest in many weeks.

08 Dec - 14 Dec The first few days of the week offered a good chance to catch up on ground training and secondary duties. Many lectures were given on flying procedures, Flight Safety, and intelligence. Monday and Tuesday were washed out all day, with fog, rain, freezing rain, and snow. A private showing for the officers of the movie Femmes de Paris was held in the station Theatre Monday afternoon, and the attendance was excellent. F/Os Brown and Burke managed to get in from England in a small break in weather, while F/Os Turner and Castledine were diverted to 4 (F) Wing, and arrived in Marville on Tuesday. A Heavy simulator program was carried out. A mess dinner was held Tuesday evening, and consequently activity in the Squadron was held to a minimum Wednesday morning. Zulu commenced for another week at noon Wednesday, and a SHAPE alert was held Wednesday afternoon. The weather was too low to get airborne, and so aircraft were only taxied for the alert. Thursday and Friday, amid low ceilings and rain showers, several singles, phase training, exercises and practice scrambles were flown. One section diverted to 4 Wing and returned in the afternoon. Saturday was pretty much of a washout with only one practice scramble being flown in the morning. In the afternoon the 3 Wing weather was below limits and 439 Squadron held both high states. Sunday turned out to be our best day of the week with practice scrambles and singles flown all day. The week ended with a total number of sorties at 90 and hours at 114.55.

15 Dec - 21 Dec The Squadron is on Zulu until Wednesday afternoon, and practice scrambles were flown, with the hour section filling exercise commitments. The weather was not the best and ceilings were too low to phase train F/Os Pope and Jolly. Wednesday morning GCI and GCA were off for weekly maintenance and no flying was done. The rest of the week ceilings were generally low with almost continuous rain. Exercises, air flight sections, and singles were flown, while on Friday the weather was finally good enough for several phase training trips. The Squadron was stood down for the weekend, and many parties were lined up in preparation for the Christmas season. F/O Grimms' party Friday evening (and Saturday morning) was a big success. Flying wise the Squadron wrapped up the week with 123.50 hours and 99 sorties.

22 Dec - 28 Dec Monday was a complete washout with visibility about 1/16th of a mile in fog, while on Tuesday, only one exercise was flown in the morning. The Squadron Christmas party was held in the hangar Tuesday afternoon, and was a success. The simulator program was finished for the year also on Tuesday. Wednesday noon the Squadron started Zulu. The Zulu commitment has been changed, and now 18 aircraft are required to be on readiness, with the states (0) split among 5 minutes, 15 minutes, and 1 hours. Over Christmas both 439 and 441 Squadrons are sharing commitments, with 441 taking the next Zulu on a trial basis, to see if it is possible for one Squadron to handle. Christmas Day there was no flying but 9 pilots were on readiness. Friday, limited flying was carried out with singles and practice scrambles, while Saturday and Sunday were much of a washout. One section flew on a practice scramble Sunday morning. The week ended with 21 sorties and 26.15 hours.

Copyright 1998 - 2005 Michael T. Melnick. All rights reserved.

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