Website dedicated to RCAF 420 Squadron

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

UNK
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.

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