History of Squadron


Chapter VII

The Advance to the Rhine

February - March 1945

The first sortie at 0730 hours set the pace. Led by Lyell Shaver, Chuck Jackson, Hugh Fraser and Adam Saunders set out on an armed recce into Germany. Near Legden, north of Coesfeld, they found a passenger train which Shaver and Jackson hit on the second attack, damaging the engine and one coach. After hunting for other targets in the area (and finding only flak), the section set course for base, passing north west of Ahaus. Let Lyell Shaver take up the story here:

( 14 Feb 1945) "While flying west at 7000 feet, approximately 20 miles from Coesfeld, I observed two Me.262s in line abreast flying wets at 3000 feet. I informed the other pilots and dove to attack. I came in line astern slightly below the enemy aircraft and opened fire with a short two second burst at 100 yards. No strikes were observed. I raised my sights slightly, closed to 50 yards, and again opened fire with a two second burst. The enemy aircraft exploded in mid air. I flew through the blast and saw the other Me.262 break off to port. I fired two bursts from quarter position but did not observe any strikes. I then saw Red 3 (F/O Fraser) attacking from above and to the rear. After both the enemy aircraft and Red 3 disappeared below cloud, I observed a plume of black smoke bulging above the cloud. The enemy aircraft appeared to be very clean or brand new. The underside was pale blue green, and the top was light mottled camouflage. Approximate cruising speed was 400 m.p.h. Hugh Fraser saw Shaver's jet explode.

"Typhoon Victory"

This particular event has been vividly captured to canvas by famous aviation artist  Bob Durnan a former GCA controller  with the RCAF. You can see  this and other authentic spectacular works  of Bob, by visiting his  Aviation Art website. Copyright© 2005 by Bob Durnan. Used with permission.  

"I then attacked the port enemy from quarter position and broke down to port. I opened fire with a three second burst at 400 yards, closing to 50 just as the enemy aircraft disappeared into cloud. At that time I saw the port engine fall off the Me.262. I pulled up to 1500 feet under cloud and saw the enemy aircraft hit the ground (1) and burst into flames. I climbed to 8000 feet and during the climb passed an open parachute which had something burning at the end; but I don't think it was the pilot."

"Typhoon Victory"

F/O Fraser's victory  has been vividly captured to canvas by famous aviation artist  Bob Durnan a former GCA controller  with the RCAF. You can see  this and other authentic spectacular works  of Bob, by visiting his  Aviation Art website. Copyright© 2005 by Bob Durnan. Used with permission.  

Webmaster's Notes (1)  Although the above first person narrative might lead you to believe that F/L Shaver bagged his second ME-262 of the day, the victory was actually awarded to  F/O Hugh Fraser following the mandatory post-op Intel debrief

On the way home the section saw two more trains which they could not attack because their ammunition was exhausted. At base Shaver discovered holes in the radiator and port wing tip caused by debris from the jet he had destroyed. Bombs were carried on all the other operations that day. 

Three pilots led by Vic Le Gear used theirs to cut the rails near Aalten on the Dutch border; Johnny Carr's section gave Klein Reken (on the Dorsten Coesfeld line) a pasting when wind carried the missiles wide of the tracks; Jim Beatty's trio blew two gaps in the Emmerich Wesel line; and Lyal Shaver's made another cut east of Gronau. The first of the afternoon shows, led by Carr, got the proverbial two birds with one stone. South of Coesfeld the four pilots had started down on their bombing dive through a hole in the clouds when a freight train came into sight. Johnny eased up on the dive and went for the train. It was well hit, four of the cars being destroyed and six damaged; and in addition the rails were cut. A few minutes later Staff Marlatt's section blew two distinct breaks in another line some miles to the west by Borken. Like Carr's group, the pilots dived through one small cloud break and pulled up through another.

FL CL Shaver  (third from the right) shows his ground crew a souvenir of the ME-262 that he shot down (Photo scanned from the Roundel)

Mission number eight encountered the most intense flak of the day and perhaps for that reason it alone made no claim; no hits were seen. The day ended with another attack on the Gronau Burgsteinfurt line to the north of the tactical area where the tracks were cut and a station destroyed. Lyell Shaver, the section leader, had momentary dreams of adding another jet to his score as two Me. 262s were seen, one on the outward flight and the other on the way home, but both eluded the Typhoons. On most of the day's operations the pilots set course across the Reichswald to watch for any activity there; only artillery fire could be seen in the forest. The A.O.C. of 83 Group complimented G/C Nesbitt's wing on its "exceedingly good show" this day. Johnny Carr ended his tour (96 sorties) with the very successful train busting expedition that afternoon, and some days later he departed to course in Britain. His brilliant work with No. 439 was recognized by the award of the D.F.C.

"This officer has led his squadron on a number of occasions against heavily defended targets, achieving good result. The majority of his sorties have been against railway targets, bridges, canals and enemy troop concentrations. Many of them have been completed in the face of concentrated anti aircraft fire but, in spite of all opposition, F/L Carr has always pressed on with intelligence and judgment and has set an example to the squadron by his outstanding
gallantry and devotion to duty."

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