McKNIGHT, P/O William Lidstone (41937) - Distinguished
Flying Cross - No.242 Sqn.
On the 28th May, this officer destroyed a Messerschmitt 109. On the following day, whilst on patrol with his squadron, he shot down three more enemy aircraft. The last one of the three enemy aircraft was destroyed after a long chase over enemy territory. On his return flight he used his remaining ammunition and caused many casualties in a low-flying attack on a railway along which the enemy was bringing up heavy guns. Pilot Officer McKnight has shown exceptional courage and skill as a fighter pilot.
NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/4095 has the original recommendation, apparently drafted by W/C R. Grice, Commanding Officer, RAF Station Biggin Hill, on 2 June 1940. The identity of several of his victims is confused; the victims of 1 June 1940 were more likely Ju.87s rather than Ju.88s.
Pilot Officer McKnight, a Canadian pilot, has shown exceptional skill and courage as a fighter pilot during the operations over France from 28th May to 1st June 1940.
On 28th May 1940, this officer destroyed one Messerschmitt 109 over Ostende.
On May 29th, whilst on patrol with his squadron over France, he shot down two Messerschmitt 109s and a Dornier 17. The Dornier 17 occasioned a long chase into enemy territory but the pilot with great tenacity and determination succeeded in destroying it. On the way back from this, the pilot used up the remainder of his ammunition by carrying out a low flying attack on a railway east of Dunkirk, along which the enemy were bringing up heavy guns, and caused many casualties.
On 31st May, this officer was again on patrol with his squadron and with great skill, whilst protecting the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk area, he shot down two Messerschmitt 110s.
On the afternoon of June 1st, he was again on patrol covering the evacuation of the Dunkirk beaches when his squadron encountered eighteen Junkers 88s about to attack our shipping and he succeeded in shooting down two Junkers 88s and two unconfirmed.
Between the 28th May and 1st June this officer has displayed great skill and courage and has destroyed two Messerschmitt 110s, three Messerschmitt 109s, one Dornier 17 and two Junkers 88s.
On 3 June 1940, Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park (Air Officer Commanding, No.11 Group) added the following minute:
This officer, a Canadian, has shown exceptional skill, determination and courage. He has destroyed eight enemy aircraft as well as attacking successfully heavy guns on the railway east of Dunkirk causing many casualties. I strongly recommend him for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The same day (3 June 1940) Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding minuted the document as "Approved".
McKNIGHT, P/O William Lidstone (41937) - Bar
to DFC - No.242 Squadron
This officer has destroyed six enemy aircraft during the last thirteen weeks. He has proved himself to be a most efficient section leader, and has consistently given proof that he is a courageous and tenacious fighter.
RECORD OF MAPLE LEAF FLYERS THROUGH 1940 MOST BRILLIANT
Associated with him as the inspiration for the squadron were men like P/O William L. McKnight of Calgary who held the DFC and Bar and was in line for the DSO when he was reported missing. McKnight at one time was the top ranking fighter pilot in the RAF with at least twenty three German planes to his credit.
On a sortie over France with Bader and others, McKnight, who once brought down three German planes in one day, failed to return. He was strafing enemy troops from a particularly low height when he was last seen.
McKnight had been a protégé of Bader’s and when the young Canadian failed to return Bader forgot his quiet poise and became enraged at the Germans. He wanted to return immediately and “rake the devil out of them" but was forbidden because of heavy weather.
In spite of the order - at least so the story goes - Bader called up several of his squadron leader friends and tried to arrange an unofficial trip through the storm to avenge the loss of the young Calgary flier.
The awards to Bader were not given out for any particular action but for persistent and daring leadership mostly of the all Canadian squadron.
From one of these trips, the squadron returned without loss and a bag of twelve Jerries. As the planes landed in the fast gathering dusk, P/O K. M. (Pat) Sclanders of Saint John N.B. - since killed - nipped into another machine and stood his own on its nose.
“Lots of Hurricanes"
Later Sclanders, appearing in the mess, apologized for apparently spoiling the day’s show.
Bader stopped sipping his cocoa looked at the boy's bruised eye and slapped him on the back saying, “Hell, they’ve got lots of Hurricanes. We’ll get another one tomorrow but I doubt if that eye will clean up for a week or so."
The names of many young Canadians have since been added to the squadron’s roll of honor and in the officer’s mess there is to be seen only one of the original Canadian members - F/L R. D. Grassick, London, Ont., who has won one of the squadron’s eleven DFCs. Today most of the fliers are British.
Bader lost his legs in a flying accident before the war when he was regarded as one of the best stunt pilots in Britain. After many attempts, he persuaded the RAF he could manipulate a plane with his artificial legs as well as most men without his handicap. His record showed he was right.
Written for the Canadian Press By F/L BASIL DEAN, RCAF, LONDON, 14 Aug. 1943 — Seventeen Canadian fighter aces of the present war have accounted for more than 220 enemy aircraft in the various theatres of war.
They flew in operations ranging from Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain to the Sicilian campaign. Between them they have won at least 34 decorations for gallantry.
Early in the war a young Canadian fought his way into "Ace" category. He was Willie McKnight, a pilot in the RAF from Calgary, who flew in the famed "All-Canadian" squadron led by W/C Douglas Bader, DSO, who was then a squadron leader.
Over Dunkirk and in the Battle of Britain, McKnight destroyed 16½ enemy aircraft and won the DFC and Bar. He was reported missing in 1941 following one of the early RAF sweeps over France.
With him in those early days flew another Canadian, S/L Stanley Turner, DFC and Bar, of Toronto, who is also in the RAF. Turner, now leader of the City of Windsor Spitfire Squadron in Sicily, was a flight commander in the "All-Canadian" squadron when Bader commanded it. He now has a total "bag" of 14 enemy aircraft destroyed.
Leader of them all, of course, is F/O George Beurling, DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar, of Verdun, Que. He has 29 destroyed.
F/L Eric Ball (RAF), S/L Bader & F/O McKnight admire their squadron motif
S/L R. C. (Moose) Fumerton, DFC and Bar, of Fort Coulonge, Que., a night fighter, destroyed 13 enemy aircraft, all during darkness.
TOTAL EXCEEDS 20
W/C Mark Brown, DFC and Bar, of Glenboro, Man., who was killed in action in Africa early last year, had destroyed 18 enemy aircraft when he gained the Bar to his DFC. Subsequently he destroyed several more and his total is known to be more than 20.
S/L R.W. (Buck) McNair, DFC and Bar, of North Battleford, Sask., commander of the RCAF Red Indian Spitfire squadron in Britain, has a score of 12 destroyed. He got eight of these over Malta last year, the remaining four on sweeps over northern France since he returned to operations after a rest in Canada.
Most successful RCAF Spitfire pilot over Malta was F/L Henry Wallace McLeod, DFC and Bar, of Regina, with a score of 13 destroyed at the time he left the island.
F/L F.E. Jones, DFC, of Cloverdale, B.C. destroyed seven over the island, left Malta at the same time as his good friend McLeod.
In Malta F/L L. Gosling, DFC and Bar, of Battleford, Sask., began piling up a score towards the end of the campaign and his total at the time of his second award stood at 10. He now is missing.
VICTORIAN GETS 20
S/L V.C. Woodward of Victoria, B.C., who joined the RAF in 1938, has destroyed 20 enemy aircraft and now holds the DFC and Bar. He commands an RAF fighter squadron in the Mediterranean theatre.
George Hill of Pictou, N.S., fighting in Sicily at the head of an RAF fighter squadron, has a count of 13 destroyed.
W/C James E. Walker, DFC and two Bars, of Edmonton, is the only member of the RCAF to be awarded the DFC three times. He led an RAF Spitfire squadron in the North African campaign and accounted for 10½ enemy aircraft destroyed.
Also in the North African campaign was F/L J.F. Edwards, DFC, DFM, of Battleford, Sask., whose record at the time of his DFC award stood at eight enemy aircraft destroyed. He now has eight enemy aircraft destroyed.
RECORD IN BRITAIN
Top scorers of the RCAF wing in Britain are two members of the Wolf squadron — S/L Hugh Godefroy, DFC, of Toronto, the squadron commander, who has six to his credit, and F/L H. D. MacDonald, DFC, also of Toronto, who has destroyed eight.
Probably the most brilliant fighter pilot who ever flew with the RCAF in Britain was F/L Don Morrison, DFC, DFM, of Vancouver, who now is a prisoner of war. Morrison was awarded the DFM in July this year, several months after he had been shot down over France and suffered loss of a leg. The citation recorded the fact he had destroyed 15 enemy aircraft.
Morrison's score of 15 destroyed puts him at the head of the list of RCAF fighter pilots. The only Canadians ahead of him did their scoring with the RAF.
F/L Jones 'Spitfire Man'
F/L Jones, 26, visited his parents in Abbotsford last January following participation in air battles at Malta when he flew with Beurling. At that time, he told of watching 10 RCAF Spitfires tear into 80 enemy planes and "when the smoke cleared away, our 10 Spitfires were still riding high." Jones' reputation in the ranks is reflected in their nick-name for him, "Spitfire man of Malta." He joined the RCAF in 1940 and received the DFC in October 1942. His brother, Thomas J., is overseas with the RCE.
S/L Woodward, 26, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Woodward, 1587 Fairfield Street, Victoria. Born and educated in Victoria, he joined the RAF in 1938 and was a leading fighter pilot in the Western Desert campaign. He led a fighter squadron over Greece and Crete, and is now back on operations after a year as instructor in Rhodesia. He was awarded the DFC in April 1941, and the Bar was added to it this month.
(Written for the Canadian Press by F/L Basil Dean, R.C.A.F.)
Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, Sept. 8, 1943 — (CP) — There are still some of the few left, some of those hard-fighting combat pilots of Battle of Britain days, but mostly it is a new brood of pilots who fly from the air bases hereabouts in Britain's Fighter Command. Three years ago, when the first few of Canada's aerial aces were fighting their way to fame, the battles were over British soil. Now, with greater numbers of Canadians than ever before in Fighter Command, the pilots are going out to seek the enemy over his own territory. This air fighting of today is offensive, not defensive, as during the Battle of Britain, but it was the fighting then that made the current offensive possible.
Some Still Flying
Some of the Canadians who fought with honor and glory in those grim days three years ago are still flying. W/C D. B. Russel, D.F.C., of Montreal, who now leads an R.C.A.F. Spitfire wing in Britain, was then P/O Dal Russel and a member of Canada's No. 1 Fighter Squadron, which arrived in England in June, 1940 — just in time to get trained for the fierce tests of August and September of that year.
Russel's old commanding officer, Ernie McNab, now is Group Capt. Ernest McNab, D.F.C., of Regina, commander of an R.C.A.F. fighter station.
In Sicily, S/L Stanley Turner, D.F.C. and Bar, of Toronto, led the R.C.A.F.'s City of Windsor fighter squadron through the island campaign. In 1940, he was a flight commander in the R.A.F.’s famed "all-Canadian" squadron led by Wing-Cmdr. Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C., which destroyed 63 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and shared three with other squadrons.
The squadron was composed mainly of Canadians who had joined the R.A.F. before the war, and fought nobly during the Battle of France and over Dunkerque.
Its achievements during the Battle of Britain, indeed, brought from the air officer commanding of the group in which it was serving at the time a message which said that its efficiency as a squadron was "equal, if not superior, to any squadron in the R.A.F." The British chief of air staff signaled: "You are well on top of the enemy and obviously the fine Canadian traditions of the last war are safe in your hands."
Greatest pilot of the "all-Canadian" squadron — apart from the legless commander, Bader (who was not Canadian) — was P/O W. L. McKnight, D.F.C. and bar, of Calgary, who was reported missing some months after the Battle of Britain ended. McKnight destroyed 16½ enemy aircraft, and was the first (2nd -ed) Canadian ace of the war.
The "all-Canadian" squadron's first Battle of Britain engagement was August 30, when Bader, now a prisoner of war, led a formation of 14 Hurricanes against a "vast number" of German aircraft, two swarms of 70 to 100 each. Detaching one section to investigate a third formation of aircraft some distance away, Bader led the rest of his pilots to the attack. As a result, 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed; not one of the Hurricanes had so much a scratch.
Similar engagements followed. On September 7, Bader and his Canadians destroyed 10 enemy aircraft without losing a pilot, although seven of the squadron's Hurricanes were damaged. On September 19, when the wing in which the squadron was flying destroyed a total of 18 enemy aircraft, the "all-Canadians" were credited with 11 of these for the loss of one pilot killed.
And then, in the greatest day's fighting of all on September 15, the squadron destroyed 12 enemy aircraft. This was the day on which Bader described the fighting as "the finest shamble I've ever been in."
"The sky," he added, "was full of Hurricanes and. Spitfires, queuing up and pushing each other out of the way to get at the Dorniers. I was seldom able to hold my sights on a target for long for fear of colliding with other Spitfires and Hurricanes anxious to get in a burst."
Among the Canadians P/O J. B. Latta, D.F.C., Victoria, B.C., had knocked down five enemy planes; F/L Turner had five; so had P/O N. K. Stansfeld, D.F.C., Vancouver. P/O H. N. Tamblyn, D.F.C., North Battleford, Sask., and P/O N. Hart had four each. Altogether Canadian pilots in the squadron had destroyed 45 of the total of 65 credited to the squadron; Bader had scored 11.
Canada's own No. 1 fighter squadron, which although its personnel have completely changed; is still flying in Britain with fighter command, had scored a total of 31 victories during the battle under McNab's leadership. McNab himself had scored the first victory to be credited to a member of the squadron when, in order to gain combat experience, he flew as a supernumerary officer with an R.A.F. squadron before No. 1 fighter was ready for front-line duties.
In the squadron's first engagement as a unit, on August 24, it destroyed three Dorniers for the loss of one pilot. By the end of its first week in action it had destroyed eight enemy aircraft for the loss of one pilot killed. The score continued to mount until September 27, when the Canadian squadron destroyed seven enemy aircraft out of about 70 engaged during the day; one pilot of the squadron was killed. In the day's first fight, Russel had destroyed an ME 109 and an ME 110 and had shared with a Polish pilot the destruction of a third enemy fighter.
McNab, F/L G. R. McGregor and Russel were each awarded the D.F.C., having destroyed between them, 11½ of the squadron's total. McNab and McGregor now are both group captains; Russel is a wing commander.
In other squadrons of the R.A.F., Canadians had also distinguished themselves. One of the flight commanders in the R.A.F. squadron was a Canadian, F/L R. A. Barton, Kamloops, B.C., who later became squadron commander of his unit. He was awarded the D.F.C. for his "outstanding leadership" on September 27, a day on which the squadron destroyed 21 enemy aircraft for the loss of two pilots killed. The total bag during September was 48, a total exceeded only by the famous No. 303 Polish squadron, in which another Canadian, F/L (now Wing-Cmdr.) John Kent, Winnipeg, was at that time a flight commander.
By FRED BACKHOUSE, London, July 15, 1945 - (CP) - Group Captain J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English-born, former leader of a crack Canadian Spitfire wing, has been officially recognized as "ace of aces" among Allied fighter pilots who fought over Europe.
Final scoring records, compiled by The Canadian Press from figures supplied by the RAF, RCAF, and United States 8th and 9th Air Forces, put this peace-time accountant from the Leicestershire town of Loughborough at the top of the list with 38 German planes destroyed.
G/C Johnson, who so closely identified himself with his otherwise all-Canadian squadron that he wore "Canada" on his shoulder, has often given much of the credit for his success to the Canadians who flew with him. "It's all a combination play," he said. Many of his men themselves became "aces."
Of the first 16 places supplied by the air forces, fourth is held by a Canadian — F/L George (Buzz) Beurling, DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar, of Verdun, Que. — and 11 by RAF pilots. For the record, only those with more than 24 "kills" were offered by the three services as their top men. Official final scores are:
G/C J. E. Johnson (RAF), 38
G/C A. G. Malan (RAF), 29.5
F/L G. Beurling (RCAF), 30
S/L B. Finucane (RAF), 29
W/C J. R. D. "Bob" Braham (RAF), 29
W/C C. Caldwell (RAF), 28½
W/C Stanford Tuck (RAF), 28
An anonymous Polish sergeant [Czech pilot Josef Frantisek -jf] (RAF), 28
Lt/Col F. S. Gabreski (U.S. 8th), 28
S/L J. H. Lacey (RAF), 28
Capt. Robert Johnson (U.S. 8th), 27
Maj. G. E. Preddy (U.S. 8th), 27
W/C F. R. Carey (RAF), 26
F/L E. S. Lock (RAF), 26
Lt/Col J. C. Meyer (U.S. 8th), 24½
F/L Mungo-Park (RAF), 12
[I have modified the arrangement & scores to be more accurate –jf]
RCAF fighter pilots in the European war with scores of 15 or more German planes destroyed number six according to overseas headquarters in London. In addition, there were two equally high-scoring Canadians in the RAF, both of whom were killed in that service before they could transfer to the RCAF. After Beurling they are:
SL H. W. McLeod, DSO, DFC and Bar, of Regina, 21
S/L V. C. Woodward, DFC and bar, 19
F/O W. L. McKnight, DFC and Bar, of Calgary, 16½
W/C Mark H. Brown, DFC and Bar, of Glenboro, Man., 16.45
W/C J. F. Edwards, DFC and bar, DFM, MiD, 16.1
W/C R. W. McNair, DSO, DFC and two bars, of North Battleford, 16
W/C E. F. J. Charles, DSO, DFC and Bar, Silver Star (U.S.), 15½
F/L Don C. Laubman, DFC and Bar, of Edmonton, 15
The late Wing-Cmdr. Brown is officially credited by the RAF with "at least 16" aircraft destroyed. His score may well have been higher, but uncertainty exists because the records of No. 1 Squadron, RAF, of which he was then commanding officer, were destroyed during the retreat at the time of the collapse of France.
18 / 3 / 0
 Considered "unconfirmed destroyed" at the time but would have been considered a "probable" after Sept. 1940
 Shared with F/O L.A. Haines of 19 Sqn. Fw Gerhard Scheidt of 1/JG26 baled out. Plane crashed near Birchington
Score & note  from Aces High 2nd Ed.
McKnight is often credited with being the first Candian Ace of WW2 but that honor belongs to Hilly Brown who made ace on May 14th
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