HMCS Athabaskan, April 29, 1944 – Introduction

Written 12 years ago when I wanted to pay homage to HMCS Athabaskan

Original post


I wanted to talk about the First and the Second World Wars in 2014…

I was always appalled by the lost of lives in those wars.

Something happened that changed my mind.

My wife’s uncle said in a family reunion we  had two weeks ago that he was aboard the Athabaskan and was working in the engine room.

2009-08-19G07

HMCS Athabaskan G07

What changed also my mind was when I asked my 24-year old son if he knew the story of the sinking of the Athabaskan…

He said: “My toasts are ready…” (He had just got up and did not have breakfast yet)

It is at that moment I told him that his great uncle was a sailor aboard the Athabaskan…

He started to ask me questions… and this is why I got this idea of writing a blog on the story…

My blog Souvenirs de guerre was in French and I wrote several articles before I decided to use the e-mail addresses on Stuart A. Kettles’ nephew Website from people who had sign his guest books…

Stuart Kettles was a sailor aboard the Athabaskan and he was taken prisoner by the Germans. As a tribute to his uncle, his nephew created a Website in his honour.

A dozen people wrote back the same day !

Among them the daughter of Herm Sulkers and the son of Jim Lesperance, both sailors on the Athabaskan  who I knew little about except that they were taken prisoners just like Stuart A. Kettles.

The story on the sinking of the Athabaskan is well documented in English and this is why I prefer to put links to other Websites like Jerry Proc’s Website.

What I want to do in Lest We Forget is to find as much as possible about the sailors that were on board on April 29, 1944.

To those who can read French, this link will direct you to the story written by Yves Dufeil. Yves has a Website dedicated to naval history. It is simply amazing. He conducted research on a 1914-1918 German Vice-admiral known for his chivalry. This story you have to read.

This is a list of the sailors who died on April 29, 1944.

I found it on this site.

Adams, John C. – AB

Agnew, John – AB

Allison, Albert E. – AB

Amiro, Irvin V. – Tel

Annett, Robert I.L. – SLt (E)

Armstrong, George A. – AB

Ashton, Percy G. – AB

Barrett, Arthur E. – AB

Bell, Donald A.  – Sto

Berkeley, Alfred G. – OS

Bertrand, Laurent J.L. – CPO

Bianco, Anthony D. – AB

Bieber, Edgar E. – Sto. PO

Blinch, Harry C. – AB

Brandson, Thomas L. – Lt(S)

Brighten, Victor H. – ERA*

* information from a reader

Pierre

 In speaking to my dad this morning, two things emerged. The website shows Vic Brighten’s rank as ERA. He was in fact Chief ERA. He had just replaced Ernie Mills, and was therefore no supposed to be aboard, but the changeover took longer than expected so he stayed aboard for the extra 2 days.

Doug

Burrow, William O. – LS

Chamberland, Paul H.A. – AB

Cookman, Edgar A. – LS

Cooney, Stewart R. – Stwd

Corbiere, Vincent G. – AB

Corkum, Gordon F. – AB

Cottrell, Sydney A. – AB

Croft, Mayle H. – AB

Cross, Alfred T. – O.Tel

DeArmond, Gordon, L. – LS

Dillen, Stewart C. – Stwd

Dion, A. Jean G. – L.Sto

Edhouse, Donald W. – Sto

Fleming, Harold L. – AB

Forron, Jack E.A. – Sto

Fralick, Earl I. – AB

Frith, William A. – AB

Fuller, Eugene M. – AB

Gaetano, Valentino J. – AB

Gibbons, Marshall L. – AB

Goldsmith, T.H. – C. Yeo. Sig

Gordon, Lloyd M. – AB

Goulet, Robert J. – Sto

Grainger, Roy J. – LSA

Guest, Carlton G. – AB

Hayes, Christopher – OS

Heatherington, John T. – Sto

Henry, Robert J. – AB

Houison, George D. – L.Wrtr

Hurley, Micheal P. – Sto

Irvine, Leonard C. – AB

Izard, Theodore D. – Lt (E)

Jarvis, Edmund A. – LS

Johnson, Elswood S. – AB

Johnson, Richard R. – L.Sto

Johnston, Lawrence R. – AB

Kelly, Lionel D. – Stwd

Kobes, John R. – LS

Lamoureux, André – LS

Lawrence, Ralph M. – Lt

Lea, Eric E. – Sto

Ledoux, Louis – AB

Lewandowski, Stan S. – Sto

Lind, Mekkel G. – Sto PO

Love, Walter M. – ERA

Lucas, Donald O. – Sto

MacAvoy, Gerald W. – PO. Cook

MacDonald, Ashley K. – AB

MacKenzie, Alexander – AB

Maguire, John W. – L. Sto

Mahoney, John D. – Lt (SB)

Manson, John L. – Cook

Matthews, George H. – AB

McBride, John L. – AB

McCarroll, Thomas G. – Sto

McCrindle, William D. – AB

McGregor, William – L. Sto

McLean, Daniel H. – AB

McNeill, John J. – Sto

Meadwell, Richard G. – AB

Mengoni, Eric J. – AB

Metcalfe, Donald I. – Elec.Art

Millar, Victor – AB

Mills, Ernest G. – C.ERA

Mumford, Leonard K. – ERA

Nash, Robert A. – SLt

Nicholas, Joseph R. – L.Sto

Ouellette, Joseph E.V. – AB

Peart, Hubert J. – AB

Phillips, John D. – AB

Pike, Brenton J. – AB

Pothier, Charles L. – AB

Rennie, John E. – PO

Riendeau, Joseph A.L. – AB

Roberts, John C. – ERA

Roberts, Raymond L. – AB

Robertshaw, Eric – AB

Robertson, Ian A. – AB

Robertson, William – Sto

Roger, Leo A. – Sto

Rolls, Raymond B. – AB

Ryan, Norman V. – AB

St. Laurent, Joseph L.M. – AB

Sampson, Francis L. – AB

Sanderson, Earl H. – AB

Sénécal, Jean G.L. – AB

Sherlock, Albert V. – Stwd

Sigston, George D. – Gnr

Singleton, John C. – AB

Skyvington, Francis G. – SBA

Sommerfeld, Samuel W. – AB

Soucisse, Paul E. – Coder

Stevenson, Elmer H. – Sto

Stewart, John L. – AB

Stewart, William G. – Sig

Stockman, Ernest O. – Lt (E)

Stubbs, John H. – LCdr

Sutherland, John W. – AB

Sweet, Charles C. – CPO

Thompson, Harry – Sto

Tupper, Allister R. – Ord.Art

Vair, James A. – L.Stwd

Veinotte, Joseph V.W. – Sy.PO

Waitson, Maurice – AB

Wallace, Peter W. – AB

Ward, Leslie – Lt (SB)

Watson, Reginald J. – Tel

Williams, Kenneth W. – ERA

Wood, John A. – AB

Yeadon, Robert L. – AB

See you tomorrow.

I will have photos I have found on the Internet.

You can write to me by clicking here.

HMCS Athabaskan, April 29, 1944

Lest We Forget

This is the story of the sinking of the Athabaskan G07.

I have started writing an English version of my French blog on the Athabaskan because so many English speaking people have helped me yesterday in my reseach. It is the least I can do for these wonderful people.

My wife’s uncle says he was a sailor working in the engine room of the Athabaskan.

He does not want to talk more about it… like so many veterans.

athabaskan1-1

This is what Jerry Proc wrote on his Website.

HMCS ATHABASKAN G07

In September 1939, the RCN decided to order new ships to replace the old destroyers previously transferred from the Royal Navy (RN).

The RCN preferred the Tribals with their heavy gun armament because they wanted to take the war to the enemy instead of relying on purely defensive vessels.

Originally all of the Tribals were to be built in…

View original post 453 more words

Lest We Forget

I wrote this 12 years ago.

This is a blog about the story of the Canadian destroyer Athabaskan sunk in 1944.

athabaskan1-1

I am currently writing a blog in French, but I have some many English speaking people helping me out, that I want to share my research with everyone in both languages. Tomorrow I will post my first article. It will be a translation of this one

See you tomorrow.

You can contact by writing a comment below.

“My Dad’s War” – November 1943

“My Dad’s War”

Note

Bill Anderson transcribed his father’s letters. The transcriptions are verbatim. Only some format editing has been done to the original transcription.

Dad’s War Correspondence

Arrival in Britain

November 25, 26, 27/43 Received December 16th

To Mrs. A. A. Anderson

Dear Folks

Well this is the first letter I have written in 5 days but in those 5 days I’ve seen quite a bit. We spent 2 days in London. Three of us are travelling together one kid from Wpg. Another from northern Ont. And myself. You certainly can’t imagine the size of London. While the business district alone is the size of Winnipeg or bigger and there are 1000 corners like Portage and Main. We got in London at 7 PM. Besides the black out a London fog was on. A flashlight won’t show 2 feet in it. No Canadian fog can touch it. I bought a good flash…

View original post 680 more words

In Memoriam – John Leonard Greaves (1964-2017) Revisited

This comment was about Bill Brooks who was flying a Brewster Buffalo at Midway.

I too had the honor of knowing Bill.

My wife worked at his rehabilitation facility, she called me and said she had met one of the most amazing brave men at her work. Asked him if it was alright for me to meet him. He was most gracious. Meeting and talking with Bill was like knowing an old friend that you just clicked when you enjoyed each other’s company. I would have to say, I was most blessed.

He loved telling his stories about his WWII service. Midway, Guadalcanal and many others. Every time he talked about Midway, it brought tears to his eyes on the amount of loss of his friends and fellow pilots, he felt that day. Telling the stories was very overwhelming for him.

I do also remember he talked about when he crash landed on Midway airstrip. He said when he finally came to a stop, he could not get out of his plane. However, when he slid to a stop he was close to a AAA battery that was already in combat with the Japanese Zeros flying overhead. He said one of those men ran out to his plane and was able to get the window slid so he could egress the plane. He said if it was not for him, he would have been a sitting duck for another attack.

While he was in the rest home, I visited him there too. He was simply a joy to be around. I got to visit him many times, because we all knew he would not ever be able to go back home. I told him I had worked at USSTRATCOM and our Commander at the time was General Cartwright. He said he knew him! So when I got back to work I contacted General Cartwright’s front desk. I was told General Cartwright didn’t know he was there and would like to visit him. General Cartwright did and they had the most amusing time talking about the old days. General Cartwright thanked me for setting it up, and so did Bill. General Cartwright gave him a coin.

Bill was not a boastful man, he was a very humble man and spiritual. I didn’t know until after he passed away that he was one of the founding fathers of Bellevue University in Bellevue Nebraska. His interest and passion was people.

Thank you Mr. Greaves for doing the Litho of Bill in his Buffalo over Midway Island. It was such an awesome painting turned into a print of that fateful day when I know Bill probably didn’t think he would make it back alive, but was willing to do everything he could to stop the attack.

I also got to meet his lovely wife and talked a lot about their experiences in life. In conclusion, I want to say, thank you Mr. Bill Brooks for your service to our nation.

I thank God and my wife for giving me such a blessing to have had the opportunity to know Mr. Bill Brooks.

RIP Bill.

Steven K. Douglas

Post written in 2017. More at the end of the post.

In my search for more information to use on my blog paying homage to VF(N)-101 I had found this Website earlier this week.

It was about the Battle of Midway.

This is the link…

http://www.midway42.org/Default.aspx

There was something that caught my attention.

A painting and the story behind it. I had to look and read the story.

“The Other Sole Survivors”Torpedo 8 TBF Avenger at Midway – June 4, 1942

 

OtherSoulSurvivors2016

All paintings © John Greaves Art (used by permission)

Now the story behind the painting.

 

The only survivor of a flight of six TBF Avenger torpedo planes struggles to return home to Midway Atoll after attacking the Japanese fleet. Flown by ENS Albert Earnest with radioman Harry Ferrier RM3c and turret gunner Jay Manning Sea1c, the badly damaged TBF has hydraulics shot out causing the tail wheel to drop and the bomb bay doors to open. Without a working compass, Earnest flew east towards the sun and climbed above the cloud deck where he could see the column of smoke rising from Midway in the far distance. Earnest managed to bring back the TBF using only the elevator trim tab for altitude control and successfully landed. Manning died in his turret and Earnest and Ferrier were wounded.

earnest ferrier

 

Jay Manning

 

There is another story behind this story.

I wrote John Greaves to get his permission to use his painting on my blog.

But little did I know…

GREAVES, John Leonard

John Greaves died unexpectedly and peacefully at home on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Airdrie, AB at the age of 52 years. John is lovingly remembered by his wife Janet, and their 2 daughters; Emma and Katy of Airdrie, his parents; Len and Eleanor, brother; Stewart of Abbotsford, B.C., Janet’s sister; Sandra (Sam) Hamilton and family of Saskatoon, SK. John was born in Calgary, AB on September 1, 1964. John and his family moved to B.C. prior to John and his brother starting school, eventually settling in Abbotsford where John attended Abby Jr and Sr High School. John attended Fraser Valley College where he pursued his passion in Art, then went on to further study in graphic arts and business at BCIT. A Memorial Service will be held at Aridrie Alliance church, 1604 Summerfield Blvd, Airdrie, AB., on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 1:30, with a reception to follow. Sandy Isfeld and Nathan Kliewer will be officiating, please join us in Celebrating John’s Life In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s memory to the Canadian Diabetes Association, 240, 2323 – 32 Ave. NE, Calgary, AB, T2E 6Z3.

Messages of condolence may be left for the family at http://www.myalternatives.ca.

The source is here

***

John Greaves’ artwork is being used on this blog by special permission of his wife Janet…

I give you permission to use his paintings in the two blogs you mentioned, with credit given to my beloved John, who had a passion for history and art.
Thanks.
Janet Greaves
 

In Memoriam of John Leonard Greaves (1964-2017) All paintings © John Greaves Art (used by permission)

Tom Cheek at Midway x

 

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Childers 20130628

 

2017-05-10 21.35.12


Epilogue 24 April 2021

Source

https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/threads/farewell-to-the-last-vmf-221-pilot-at-midway.22995/

The last remaining Marine fighter pilot from the battle of Midway was buried last weekend , with full military honors, in Bellview , NE.

William Brooks got out of the Marines at the end of WWII as a Major. In addition to the Buffalo he flew the Wildcat, Hellcat and Corsair.

Here is a copy of his action at Midway;

2nd Lieutenant William. V. Brooks

I was pilot of F2A-3, Bureau number 01523, Our division under Capt. Armistead was on standby duty at he end of the runway on the morning of June 4, 1942, from 0415 until 0615. At about 0600, the alarm sounded and we took off. My division climbed rapidly, and I was having a hard time keeping up. I discovered afterwards that although my wheels indicator and hydraulic pressure indicator both registered “wheels up”, they were in reality about 1/3 of the way down. We sighted the enemy at about 14,000 feet, I would say that there were 40 to 50 planes. At this time Lt. Sandoval was also dropping back. My radio was at this time putting out no volume, so I could not get the message from Zed. At 17,000 feet, Capt. Armistead led the attack followed closely by Capt. Humberd. They went down the left of the Vee , leaving two planes burning. Lt. Sandoval went down the right side of the formation and I followed. One of us got a plane from the right side of the Vee. At this time, I had completely lost sight of my division. As I started to pull up for another run on the bombers, I was attacked by two fighters. Because my wheels being jammed 1/3 way down, I could not out dive these planes, but managed to dodge them and fire a burst or so into them as they went past me and as I headed for the water. As I circled the island, the anti-aircraft fire drove them away. My tabs, instruments and cockpit were shot up to quite an extent at this time and I was intending to come in for a landing.

It was at this time that I noticed that a important feature in their fighting. I saw two planes dog-fighting over in the east, and decided to go help my friend if at all possible. My plane was working very poorly, and my climb was slow. As I neared the fight both planes turned on me. It was then that I realized I had been tricked in a sham battle put on by two Japs and I failed to recognize this because of the sun in my eyes. Then I say I was out-numbered, I turned and made a fast retreat for the island, collecting a goodly number of bullets on the way. After one of these planes had been shaken, I managed to get a good burst into another as we passed head-on when I turned into him. I don’t believe this ship could have gotten back to his carrier, because he immediately turned away and started north and down. I again decided to land, but as I circled the island I saw two Japs on a Brewster. Three of my guns were jammed, but I cut across the island, firing as I went with one gun. But I could not get there in time to help the American flier and as soon as the Brewster had gone into the water I came in for a landing at approximately 0715 (estimated).

It is my belief that the Japs have a very maneuverable and very fast ship in their 00 fighters, plenty of fire-power . They can turn inside the Brewster, but of course on the speed I would be unable to say as my wheels were jammed about 1/3 way down all during the fight, causing considerable drag.

My plane was damaged somewhat, having 72 bullet and cannon holes in it, and I had a very slight flash wound on my left leg.

It is my express desire that Lt. Sandoval, deceased be logged up with the bomber which one of us got in our first run.

I had the honour and privilege of meeting Bill Brooks a number of years ago. He was most gracious, patient and a true gentleman, welcoming myself, my wife and our 2-month old son into his home in Nebraska with his sweatheart. I was truly saddened to learn that he had departed for his final solo flight.

Farewell Bill.

You were truly one of a kind.

 

More information here:

The Forgotten Story of Midway’s Marine Defenders

 

Excerpt

Second Lieutenants William V. Brooks and William B. Sandoval made a pass down the right side of the enemy formation. “One of us got a plane from the right side of the Vee,” Brooks said. When he pulled out of the dive, two fighters attacked him. “I could not out-dive these planes [his landing gear had partially locked in the down position], but I managed to dodge them and fire a burst or so into them as they swept past.” At this point Brooks was close enough to Midway for anti-aircraft fire to drive the Japanese off.

Brooks stayed in the fight. “I saw two planes dog-fighting…and decided to go help,” he said. “My plane was working very poorly, and my climb was slow. As I neared the fight, both planes turned on me!” Brooks believed he had been tricked—that the Japanese were staging a sham battle to attract him. “I turned and made a fast retreat, collecting a goodly number of bullets on the way.” With his aircraft shot up, he decided to land. “As I circled the island, I saw two Japs on a Brewster,” he continued. “Three of my guns were jammed, but I cut across the island, firing as I went with my one gun.” He was too late, and the Marine was shot down. Brooks landed his tattered aircraft with 72 bullet and cannon holes in it.

Sandoval was not so lucky. One of his squadron mates reported that he leveled off on his firing run and got “nailed” by a backseat gunner. He failed to return and was listed as killed in action. He was later credited with a victory after Brooks requested that “Lt. Sandoval, deceased, be logged up with the bomber which one of us got in our first run.”

Website dedicated to RCAF 420 Squadron

I have to start somewhere to pay homage to Wing Commander William Gerald Phelan.

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PL-41602 UK-18125 22/12/44 420 SQN The leaders of the City of London’s Snowy Owl Squadron left to right are: F/L F.S. McCarthy, Windsor, Ontario, 722 Dougall Avenue, Flight Commander; W/C W.G. Phelan, DFC, Distinguished Flying Cross, Toronto, Ontario, 9 Glenayr Road, Squadron Commander; and S/L B.G. Motherwell, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2539 West 33rd Avenue, Flight Commander.

The SS Samaria arrived in Liverpool on November 6, 1943. The squadron disembarked and was transported to Dalton airbase. From Dalton it was moved to Tholthorpe, 12 miles northwest of York, on December 12, 1943. At Tholthorpe the squadron converted to the Handley Page Halifax Mark III. The squadron remained at Tholthorpe until the end of the war. McIntosh was replaced as CO by G. A. McKenna on April 6, 1944. McKenna, in turn, was replaced by G.J. Edwards on October 24, 1944. W.G. Phelan DFC took over as CO on November 25, 1944. The last CO the squadron had during World War II was F.S. McCarthy who succeeded Phelan on January 30 1945.

https://www.aquatax.ca/snowyowl.html

Excerpt from the home page

Dedication:

These web pages are my small tribute in memory of my father, Bert Parker (1917-2009) and the men and women of 420 Squadron with whom he served. In particular, Frederick “Freddie” Way, Floyd “Skip” Rutledge, and Don “Squeak” Hatfield who remained in contact with my father all their lives.

Bert Parker War Service:
Bert Parker, enlisted in the RCAF on August 15, 1941.

Upon completing his training and embarkation leave he arrived in Halifax on March 26, 1942. He was shipped overseas on the M/S Batory on May 3, 1942. On May 11, 1942 the ship docked in Scotland. He arrived at 420 Bomber Squadron, based at Waddington, on June 11, 1942 and served with A-Flight in England and North Africa as a “fitter” until being discharged in September 1945. Bert was promoted to Corporal in December 1943. In January 1945 he was Mentioned In Despatches in the King’s New Year’s Honours list for distinguished service. The citation reads: “PARKER, Corporal Bertram (R115948) – Mention in Despatches – No.420 Squadron (No.62 Base) – Award effective 1 January 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 425/45 dated 9 March 1945. Recommended for MiD, 22 July 1944 by the Commanding Officer, No.420 Squadron, who wrote: Corporal Parker has displayed a very fine example in his section by maintaining a high standard of efficiency. He is a conscientious and willing worker and has proved himself to be a very capable NCO. His untiring efforts have been an inspiration to all.

420 Squadron History:

On December 19, 1941, 420 Squadron was formed in RAF 5 Group at Waddington airbase four miles south of Lincoln. 420 Squadron was one of the first three squadrons formed during World War II that were to be fully Canadian. 408 Vancouver Squadron was formed seven months earlier on April 23, 1941 in 4 Group and 419 Moose Squadron was formed on December 15, 1941 in 3 Group just four days prior to 420 Squadron’s formation. On January 1, 1943 these three squadrons became the basis for RCAF 6 Group.

The first CO of the squadron was J. Collier who was followed by WC D.A.R. Bradshaw on April 30, 1942. The squadron flew the Handley Page Hampden Mark I from January 1942 to the first week of August of that year. The squadron then moved to a nearly completed airfield just north of the village of Skipton-on-Swale, 7 miles west of Thirsk. Here it began the conversion to the Vickers Wellington Mark III. It also was transferred from 5 Group to 4 Group. When it became operational in the Wellington it flew from Leeming airbase as the Skipton-on-Swale air base was not fully functional.

In mid October, 1942, the squadron moved to Middleton St. George, 6 miles east of Darlington. It became a part of Canadian 6 Group on January 1, 1943. On April 12, 1943 CO Bradshaw was replaced by W.D. McIntosh, DFC.

In May, 1943 the squadron, along with 424 and 425 squadrons, was deployed to North Africa to become 331 Wing of RAF 205 Group. On May 16 most of the squadron personnel boarded a ship in Liverpool and nine days later arrived in Algiers. Two days later it was transported to Boufarik, Algeria. Then on June 16, the squadron was moved to a newly created airstrip “Zina” scraped out of the barren plain 22 km sw of Kairouan, Tunisia. The squadron’s twenty Wellington Mark X’s were flown from England to Africa on June 1. The squadron flew its first operational mission as part of 331 Wing on June 26. The Wing came under the jurisdiction of 205 Group RAF on July 9. From Zina, it actively took part in the campaign against the Axis powers in Sicily and Italy. On September 29 it moved to Hani/East. The squadron’s final operational sorties occurred on October 8. It left for Algiers by train on October 18, arriving three days later. On October 26 the squadron was loaded on the SS Samaria, which sailed for Liverpool the following day.

The SS Samaria arrived in Liverpool on November 6, 1943. The squadron disembarked and was transported to Dalton airbase. From Dalton it was moved to Tholthorpe, 12 miles northwest of York, on December 12, 1943. At Tholthorpe the squadron converted to the Handley Page Halifax Mark III. The squadron remained at Tholthorpe until the end of the war. McIntosh was replaced as CO by G. A. McKenna on April 6, 1944. McKenna, in turn, was replaced by G.J. Edwards on October 24, 1944. W.G. Phelan DFC took over as CO on November 25, 1944. The last CO the squadron had during World War II was F.S. McCarthy who succeeded Phelan on January 30 1945.

The last bombs dropped by the squadron’s Halifaxes occurred on April 18, 1945. The squadron was on ops April 22, 1945 but did not drop their payloads due to cloud cover and orders from the Master Bomber.

The squadron began converting to the Avro Lancaster Mark X in mid April, 1945 but hostilities in Europe ended prior to the squadron becoming operational on the Lancaster. The squadron aircrews flew their Lancasters to Debert, Nova Scotia. Those personnel not transported by air were sent to Canada by ship. 420 Squadron ended its mission in England on June 14, 1945. At Debert the squadron prepared to be a part of Tiger Force for attacks on Japan, but Japan surrendered before the squadron became operational in the Pacific Theatre.

End of excerpt