Brendan "Paddy" Finucane


DSO,   DFC & 2 Bars

Brendan Eamon Fitzpatrick Finucane (whose father fought with Eamon DeValera) was born in Dublin, 16 Oct 1920
Finucane went to primary school in Marlborough Street
The next school was O’Connell, on North Richmond Street
He liked rugby, Gaelic football, rowing, boxing and hurling
Summers were spent at an aunts house in Southampton where he and his brothers would sometimes go to the airfield at Straythling where not far away at the Supermarine company, Mitchell was working on a new fighter called the Spitfire
Ray Finucane said, “We read a lot about all the aces in the First World War. They were our heroes. We read all about Mick Mannock and Billy Bishop. Every book that we could possibly get our hands on.”
Thomas Finucane furthered his sons’ interest in flying when he brought them to Baldonnel Airport to see the Alan Cobbins circus. He paid 10 bob and Brendan and Ray were flown on a circuit of the airfield in a bi-plane.
Paddy wrote “[flew] as passenger in army plane at Baldonnel, Co. Dublin.” on his RAF application
Paddy Finucane
In 1936 the family moved to England, settling in Richmond Surrey
Brendan got a job as a clerk when he was 17 but was looking adventure
He applied to the RAF with his parents permission and was accepted in the summer of 1938
posted to 6 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School in Northampton at the end of August
Like many greats, he struggled at first, one instructor calling him a "thick-headed-fool" but he carried on
On 5 September 1938, when he was flying just 20 feet above ground, the nose of his plane dropped suddenly. He pushed the throttle wide open to climb steeply, much to the discomfort of the instructor in the rear. Finucane saw the funny side of it and wrote, “I shook up his breakfast for him and got a bit of my own back for all the curses I received. Boy, what a treat!”
Four days later, Finucane was coming in over the aerodrome at about 1,000 feet at a speed of 70 mph. As he descended to land, he never noticed how near he was to the boundary hedge. He wrote, “ I was five feet off the ground and about twenty or thirty feet from the hedge when a voice coming through the earphones asked me quite politely what was I going to do about the hedge in front of me. Phew, what a shock.” He managed to haul the plane’s nose up sharply and cleared it by a fraction: the plane’s wheels ran along the top of the hedge.
On September 11th, Finucane asked his parents to say more prayers for him. His legs ‘felt like rubber' after another narrow escape. This time, one of the tyres burst as he landed. He was learning how hazardous flying could be. When he entered the mess, he had a strong cup of coffee to stiffen his nerves and a good dose of ribbing from the other pilot candidates including “Can’t fly a plane yet?”-“What Irishman can?”
In November 1938, the trainees moved to No. 8 flying training school and Finucane was still struggling to make the grade as a pilot. He had already flown solo but was very close to being dropped. After two crashes in a Queen Bee aircraft, he was grounded. A squadron inquiry on the second crash found that it was due to ‘inexperience.’ His Chief Flying Instructor, Dickie Legg backed him, though. He said, “The only reason I have not dismissed him from the course is that he is utterly determined to succeed."
And succeed he did. In June 1939, Finucane finally got his wings. He wrote home jubilantly, “I have now passed all examinations and have received my wings. I went crazy with joy and did a war dance around the mess. I worked and prayed hard for them.”
Spent the winter of 1939-40 waiting and sending requests for a fighter squadron from the RAF base in Henlow, Bedfordshire
It was here he flew the Hawker Fury and sprouted his feathers
On 27 June 1940, his prayers were answered. He was sent on a two-week conversion course at No. 7 OTU to learn how to fly Spitfires.
Upon completion, he was posted to 65 squadron and the Battle of Britain

(Info above from a well researched-thesis on Paddy written by Michael Brennan)

NOTE: There seems to be some question as to what Paddy's 3rd name was. Fergus is the one I see used most often but, if you check out this audio clip you will hear what his brother Kevin thinks it is. He seems to emphasize "Fitz-PATRICK" as if he's aware of the confusion. So, until I learn otherwise, I'm gonna have to go with Kevin's "Fitzpatrick."    listen



--- The following article was written and contributed by Glenn T. Heyler ---


The story of Wing Commander Brendan (‘Paddy’) Finucane [pronounced fi-NEW-kin], (DSO, DFC and 2 bars), is an amazing story of an Irishman who became one of the RAF's most decorated Spitfire Aces. Finucane was also the youngest Wing Commander in the RAF all before his 22nd birthday. Paddy was both the leader of his Squadron, and an inspirational leader to his pilots and ground crew. With his Shamrock crested Spitfire emblazoned with his initials, Paddy achieved one of the highest kill rates in RAF history.

Paddy was born in Dublin on the 16th day of October 1920, the first child of Thomas and Florence (nee Robinson) Finucane. He was followed shortly by a brother, Ray, another brother Kevin, and then two sisters, Monica and Claire. He became an all around sportsman, excelling at Rugby, Football, Boxing and Rowing. His family immigrated to Richmond, Surrey England in November of 1936. Having always dreamed about flying through the heavens, Paddy joined the RAF in August 1938 and was posted to 65 Squadron at Hornchurch on July 13th, 1940. In late April 1941 he was posted to 452 Squadron (RAAF) as Flight Commander. In January 1942 Finucane was given command of 602 Squadron. He was then appointed Wing Commander flying (at 21 Paddy was the RAF's youngest W/C ever) out of Hornchurch on June 27th, 1942.

During the Battle of Britain, Finucane destroyed his first Bf l09 on August 12th, 1940, getting a second a day later. As his victory tally rose, the word of his heroics spread throughout England. On April 15, 1941, Paddy crossed paths with one of Germany’s highest decorated pilot’s in history, Oberstleutnant Adolf Galland. Commanding JG 26, Galland decided to join a birthday celebration for General Theo Osterkamp and personally deliver some lobsters and oysters for his party. Galland's crew chief placed the goods in Galland's new Bf 109F fighter just before takeoff. Galland's flight plan would take himself and his wingman, from Brest to Le Touquet, France, the site of the party, but en-route to Le Touquet, Galland decided that a detour to England was in order. His hunter instinct paid off near Dover, as they both surprised a large flight of Spitfires on maneuvers. Paddy Finucane was leading that group of Spitfires. Galland’s instincts proved deadly as he managed to down three Spitfire Mk. IIs (only 1 was actually destroyed). As Galland flew through the formation, Paddy rolled out from above and targeted Galland. The hunter became the hunted and Finucane riddled Galland’s aircraft with shells. Galland bailed out of his flaming Bf-109 near the coast of France (Galland claimed to have landed the plane uninjured). He was rescued hours later. Suffice it to say, Galland was late to Osterkamp’s party as Paddy claimed Galland as a victory!

Said Finucane, “I shoot to hit the machine, not the lad in it; at least I hold him no grudge, but I have to let him have it. See him first before he sees you, hit him when you fire as you might not have a second chance”.

The only time Paddy was wounded in combat came on February of 1942. Paddy went out over Dunkirk in a daylight sweep with his squadron. After an hour of dodging and dog fighting in the clouds over the French coast, a German gunner put a shell through the cockpit of the Flying Shamrock. A sharp piece of shattered plate ripped Paddy’s thigh from knee to hip. As he put it later, “ The cockpit was awash with blood. It was not until I was feeling a bit sick and dizzy did it dawn on me that it was my blood!”…“Good Dublin blood should not be wasted!”…“How I even managed to land without a crackup will never be known, luck of the Irish triumphed that day if ever!”…Five weeks later and mended, the British headlines read, “Finucane Flies Again!” Model airplanes of his Spitfire with the vivid green Shamrocks were sold all along Piccadilly Circus and The Strand. Small boys robbed their Mother’s purses in haste in order to own one! These were treasured reminders that the greatest flying Ace was again winging his way across the murky channel to protect England. Even the German pilots were aware as word spread to, “Get Finucane of the Shamrock!”

After attacking German shipping at Ostend and strafing three German airfields on July 15th, 1942, Finucane’s wing regrouped to return to Hornchurch. As the group passed low-level over the beach at Pointe Du Touquet, Finucane’s Spitfire was hit by machine gun fire that severely damaged his radiator. The engine overheated and quit, and the Spitfire was too low to allow Finucane to bail out. Losing altitude swiftly, Paddy was heard to say; “This is it, Chaps.” Witnesses reported that after a near perfect "splash" the Shamrock-Spit sank like a stone, and despite all efforts, was never to be seen again. At the time of his death, Wing Commander Finucane’s score stood at an amazing 32 victories.
A "Finucane" for Mom
This autographed photo of Finucane (also courtesy of Mr. Heyler) dates from early 1942. It was autographed by Finucane for Flight Lieutenant J. G. Sanderson, an Australian assigned to Finucane at Redhill. Sanderson (in the middle?) sent this photo home to his Mother at the height of Paddy’s success. The item was acquired through the Sanderson Estate in Australia.


Distinguished Flying Cross

The London Gazette 13 May 1941

Flying Officer Brendan FINUCANE (41276) — No. 65 Squadron.

This officer has shown great keenness in his efforts to engage the enemy and he has destroyed at least 5 of their aircraft. His courage and enthusiasm have been a source of encouragement to other pilots of the squadron.


Texan Downs Two Nazis As R.A.F. Attacks Grow

London, Aug. 28, 1941 (Thursday) (BUP) - Royal Air Force bombers battered German defenses and other targets across the Channel last night and were believed to have struck at enemy shipping in the Strait of Dover.
William Robert Dunn - of Texas went hunting German planes yesterday, found them plentiful over France and shot down two. He then took his fighter plane back to its base before repairing to a hospital for treatment of a foot wound.
Dunn, who hailed from Houston, Texas, when he joined the American Eagle Squadron of the Royal Air Force, took part in two sweeps of Northern France, and with his bag of two enemy planes boosted his total to four.
Announcing Dunn's feat, the Air Ministry said his wound was slight. He was in the second sortie across the coast in early morning offensives by "many squadrons" of Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes.
Because of ‘trouble’ with his oxygen equipment, Dunn was forced to fly lower than the rest of his squadron on the way back from France. He was attacked by three Messerschmitts. The first German overshot and Dunn gave him a burst, causing him to bail out. The second attacked, but burst into flames and crashed. The third hit Dunn's fuselage and radio-telephone and a piece of cannon shell entered his foot.
Even before he became a member of the Royal Air Force, Dunn shot down two German planes, the Air Ministry said. He was a member of a Canadian infantry regiment stationed in South England when, with a Lewis gun, he downed two dive bombers attacking the camp.
The daylight raids followed a night attack on Cologne, German industrial city, which the Ministry indicated was unusually effective. It said grapevine reports from Germany told of Cologne being crippled badly by repeated R.A.F. bombings in the offensive now in its third month.
The Ministry said the attack upon Cologne was "on a somewhat larger scale than of late," and caused great explosions and fires visible for fifty miles.
Ten German fighters were destroyed in the sweeps over France, the British said, while eight British planes admittedly were missing. Four enemy planes were downed in the second attack in which both American Eagle Squadrons — the one organized nearly a year ago and the second added to it recently — took part.
Two R.A.F. fliers collided over the French coast, the Ministry announced. One pilot managed to fly back to his station but the other had to bail out.
In the first of two sweeps, more than 100 Messerschmitts met R.A.F. formations, the Ministry said. An Australian squadron which attacked repeatedly shot down three Messerschmitts. An Irish holder of the D.F.C., the only non-Australian in the squadron, got two of them. (guess who that was ;^)



"The Age” Special Representative LONDON, 5 Sept. 1941 - The newspapers acclaim the award of a bar to the D.F.C. awarded to Acting Flight-Lieutenant Brendan (Paddy) Finucane, the 21-year-old aviator from Dublin, who is the leader of the Australian Spitfire Squadron. They describe him as Squadron-Leader Bader’s successor, because he has the same qualities of leadership and tactics on which Bader built a reputation as leader of the Canadian Squadron.
Finucane is not merely an aerial duellist. He knows the tricks of manoeuvring, so that he has a greater chance of shooting down enemy planes.
The Australian pilots regard Finucane as a hero. He is one of the youngest flight-commanders in the R.A.F. Finucane for his part considers he has some of the R.A.F.’s finest fighters under him.


Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross

The London Gazette 9 September 1941

Acting Flight Lieutenant Brendan FINUCANE, D.F.C. (41276), No. 452 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron

This officer has led his flight with great dash, determination and courage in the face of the enemy. Since July, 1941, he has destroyed three enemy aircraft and assisted in the destruction of a further two. Flight Lieutenant Finucane has been largely responsible for the fine fighting spirit of the unit.


Second Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross

The London Gazette 26 September 1941

Acting Flight Lieutenant Brendan FINUCANE, D.F.C. (& Bar) (41276), No. 452 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron

This officer has fought with marked success during recent operations over Northern France and has destroyed a further six enemy aircraft. Of these, three were destroyed in one day and two in a single sortie on another occasion. His ability and courage have been reflected in the high standard of morale and fighting spirit of his unit. Flight Lieutenant Finucane has personally destroyed fifteen hostile aircraft.


Paddy & Bluey
F/Ls Brendan 'Paddy' Finucane (left) and Keith 'Bluey' Truscott of 452 Squadron congratulate each other at Kenley on 13 October 1941. The two flight commanders had just returned from a very successful Circus operation during which each had shot down two Me109s.

Ace Irish Flyer Injured In Fall

London, Oct. 14 - (AP) - Flight Lieut. Paddy Finucane, 21-year-old Irishman fighting with the RAF, has downed 23 German planes without a scratch to himself - but a 10-foot fall had him in Croydon hospital today.
Finucane was credited with bagging two German fighters in yesterday’s RAF sweeps over the English Channel - his 22nd and 23rd victories. In celebrating with friends last night he was walking along a narrow balustrade, missed his footing and made a one-point landing in an areaway.
A foot was injured - not seriously.


Distinguished Service Order

The London Gazette 21 October 1941

Acting Flight Lieutenant Brendan. FINUCANE, D.F.C. (& 2 Bars) (41276), No. 452 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron

Recently, during two sorties on consecutive days, Flight Lieutenant Finucane destroyed 5 Messerschmitt 109's bringing his total victories to at least 20. He has flown with this squadron since June, 1941, during which time the squadron has destroyed 42 enemy aircraft of which Flight Lieutenant Finucane has personally destroyed 15. The successes achieved are undoubtedly due tathis officer's brilliant leadership and example.


Australia and Auditing Ambitions of R.A.F. Ace

London, Nov, 12, 1941 - (CP) - When the war is over, the ordered, unexciting life of a bookkeeper will do for one of the R.A.F.’s top-notch fighter pilots—Flight Lieutenant Brendan (Paddy) Finucane. The 21-year-old Irishman, who already has been through enough excitement to last him a lifetime, revealed his unpretentious ambition in a broadcast.
He is credited with shooting down twenty-three enemy planes and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and two bars and the Distinguished Service Order.
"I like a job with figures — accountancy or auditing," Paddy explained. "Perhaps that doesn't sound much like a fighter pilot. But pilots are perfectly normal people." He told of the excitement and nervous tension of air fighting. "Before going off on a trip, I usually have a funny feeling in my 'tummy', but once I'm in my aircraft everything is fine. The brain is working fast, and if the enemy is met it seems to work like a clock-work motor. You don't have time to feel anything.
"I have come back from a sweep to find my shirt and tunic wet through with perspiration. Our chaps sometimes find that they can't sleep.
"You come back from a show and find it very hard to remember what happened. Maybe you have a clear impression of three or four incidents which stand out like illuminated lantern slides in the mind's eye. Perhaps a picture of two ME's belting down on your tail. Perhaps another picture of your cannon shells striking at the belly of an ME and the aircraft spraying debris around. But for the life of you, you can't remember what you did. "Later when you have turned in and sleep is stealing over you, some tiny link in the forgotten chain of events comes back. Instantly you are fully aware and then the whole story of the operation pieces itself together and you lie there reliving the combat. The reason is simply that every thing happens so, quickly in the air that you crowd a tremendous amount of thinking; action and emotion into a very short space of time, and you suffer afterward from mental indigestion."
Paddy told how a few days' leave works wonders for a tired pilot,
"The other week, I was feeling a little jaded. Then my leave—seven days—came around. I came back bursting with energy. On my first flight after getting back, I shot down three ME's in one engagement, and the next day bagged two more!"
Paddy’s flying mates are Australians and they've made such an impression on him that he hopes to go to Australia after the war.
"Australia and auditing books," he said.




Promotion For Australian

"The Age" Special Service, LONDON, 26 Jan. 1942 - Flight-Lieutenant Keith Truscott, D.F.C., Spitfire ace and flight commander in a famous Australian fighter squadron in Britain, has been promoted to squadron leader, and given command of the squadron. His former commanding officer, Squadron Leader R. W. Bungey, has been posted elsewhere for important work.
Flight-Lieutenant Finucane, the prominent Irish airman, who was recently transferred from the Australian squadron with which he achieved fame, has been promoted to the command of the fighter wing of which his old squadron forms part.
Squadron Lender Truscott, who is believed to be the first Empire air trainee to gain that rank, has participated in about 60 operational sweeps and has shot down 11 German planes, with four more "probables.” He told an interviewer, "I was rather overwhelmed by my sudden promotion, particularly as I always regarded Squadron Leader Bungey as the finest possible commanding officer. I am glad Paddy Finucane is commanding wing. He is an amazing pilot, and a wonderful friend to all of us.”


‘Paddy' Finucane Hit In Channel Dogfight

London, 20 February 1942 - (CP) - Sqdn. Ldr. Paddy Finucane, Royal Air Force fighter ace, was wounded in a Channel air fight today, the Air Ministry news service reported.
Finucane was hit in the leg and thigh when he and an Australian Spitfire pilot fought two FW 190s after they attacked a ship near Dunkerque.
The Australian took up guarding the position on Finucane's tail when the squadron leader was wounded and beat off six attacks during the flight home, in the course of which he "had the satisfaction of seeing one of the FW 190s crash into the sea."
Finucane later made a perfect landing at a home airdrome.



21 Feb 1942 - His two flight commanders and Pilot Officer R. Lewis, his Australian comrade, visited Squadron Leader "Paddy" Finucane, leader of 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, in hospital. Lewis was the pilot who guarded the wounded squadron leader’s aircraft as the Spitfires were chased across the Channel by two FW 190's.
“He was just the same old Paddy when we saw him in hospital," said Lewis on Saturday. “They told us that he would be up in about a week, as it was not a bullet that wounded him, but pieces of his aircraft which were knocked off by the Focke-Wulf fire.
“It was in the second head-on attack that he was wounded, but he had the satisfaction of seeing pieces of Hun aircraft fly off under his own fire."



Squadron Leader "Paddy” Finucane, former leader of an Australian squadron of Fighter Command and now leader of the famous 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, who won the D.S.O. and D.F.C. with two bars, was wounded in a fight which he and his companions had over the Channel yesterday, states the Air Ministry News Service. Despite his injury, he made a perfect landing at his own aerodrome.
He was flying in company with an Australian pilot, Pilot Officer Richard Lewis, who possibly saved his life. After the two Spitfire pilots had attacked a ship near Dunkirk, they were engaged in a head-on attack by two Focke-Wulf 190's. All four aircraft went at each other as hard as they could go when the squadron leader's aircraft was struck, wounding him in the leg and thigh.
Over the radio telephone he gave his companion the order to go home, but, knowing that his squadron leader had been wounded, the Australian pilot took up a guarding position a little behind and below his tail.
The pilots of the German aircraft, realising that one Spitfire had been hit gave chase, expecting apparently to find the British pilots easy meat.

Enemy Plane Shot Down
At least six times during the journey back the Australian pilot turned to beat off the German attacks, and he had the satisfaction of seeing one of the F.W. 190‘s crash into the sea.
Twice the wounded squadron leader joined him as the Australian pilot turned to fight off the Germans.
Finucane was recently promoted to squadron leader to command the 602 Squadron.
Rated Britain’s No. 1 fighter pilot since Wing Commander Douglas Bader, the legless ace, was captured. Finucane spent his 21st birthday on October 16 in hospital at Epsom after fracturing a bone in his foot when he jumped over a wall in the blackout. He was out of action for three months.


Paddy Down

February 1942 - Londoners sometimes see him on his infrequent play nights, striding through the restaurants and bars with an air of careless majesty. There, the onlooker instantly knows, is somebody. He is somebody: Brendan ("Paddy") Finucane, Irish leader of Australia's famous 452 Squadron.
To 21-year-old Squadron Leader Finucane's credit, up to last week, were 25 German planes shot down, scores of fighter-bomber attacks on Nazi shipping in the Channel and on Nazi targets in Occupied France. He had won the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars (one bar is a prized distinction). Tall, bush-thatched, ever-smiling, he had many a friend among U.S. pilots in the R.A.F. and U.S. Army observer-flyers in Britain.
Paddy Finucane also had a lot of luck. His plane had been badly shot up only once. He limped for awhile, but not from enemy bullets: he fell off a wall at Croydon, while celebrating an R.A.F. victory.
Last week Squadron Leader Finucane's luck turned.
Two Focke-Wulf s attacked him and Pilot Officer Richard Lewis while they were harrying a Nazi steamer. One of the Focke-Wulfs riddled Finucane's plane and wounded him in the leg and thigh. By radio he ordered Lewis to run for home. Lewis disobeyed. He hovered behind Finucane's tail, fought off repeated Focke-Wulf attacks. One of the Focke-Wulfs crashed into the Channel. Finucane and Lewis scurried back to their home airdrome. Squadron Leader Finucane taxied his fighter up to the line and then collapsed at the controls.
Truscott,  Finucane & Thorold-Smith
Bluey Truscott, Paddy Finucane (note cane) & Raymond Thorold-Smith
when Paddy was with the Aussies (photo courtesy of Dave Carling


Non-Stop Spring Offensive Sees industrial Rhineland Pulverized
For Fifth Time; Berlin Admits Offensive "Very Heavy"
With Damage to Industrial Section

London, March 14, 1942 - (BUP) — Giant British bombing planes hurled tons of bombs on industrial western Germany during the night in what appeared to be one of their greatest recent raids, and an air ministry communiqué said that many big fires were left raging as they flew homeward. Continuing a five-day non-stop aerial offensive, the British planes made Cologne their chief target and dropped what the air ministry called a "great weight" of high explosive bombs on vital war-industrial areas.

Berlin Admits Damage
Radio Oslo, German-controlled, was heard broadcasting admissions from Berlin that the raid was very heavy and that "civilian damage" was done.
It was indicated that a formidable fleet of the biggest bombing planes in the Royal Air Force, including Stirlings and Halifaxes and perhaps New Lancasters, had taken part in the attack.
In addition to raiding Germany, the British planes attacked targets in German-occupied territory and laid mines in enemy waters to keep in port warships which might seek to put out for the Norwegian coast or to take to the high seas as commerce raiders.
Four planes were missing after the night's operations.
British planes were almost continuously in action from late yesterday, when strong raids were made on northern France and eight German planes were shot down against a loss of six British planes.
Radio Vichy, heard here, reported; that Paris had a two-hour air raid alert between 10 p.m. and midnight, and observers along the Dover strait heard bombs crashing on the French invasion coast for an hour.
The air ministry revealed that Britain's greatest ace, 21-year-old, "Paddy" Finucane, recently promoted to flight lieutenant, had led the sweep over France yesterday and shot down two German planes in celebration of his first day in action since he was wounded February, 20.
He shot down two Force-Wulf 190's. The first crashed into a railroad embankment. The second was trying to escape a British plane when Finucane in his Spitfire gave it a long burst and sent it in a steep dive to the earth. It was his 26th official victory in addition to four probables and two planes severely damaged.
The British planes were raiding the great Hazebrouck railroad center, 35 miles inland from Calais. One formation of fighters went ahead of the main force and swept the area nearly clear of German planes. Then the bombers went in with their own fighter escort.
Col. V. Britton, Britain's mystery broadcaster to the Continent, warned Frenchmen last night over the British radio that raids on France would continue.
"Here is official warning of concern to western Europe," he said. "The Royal Air Force, again in a short while, will bomb factories which are giving valuable aid to Nazi Germany. These attacks are necessary.
"Britain cannot allow uninterrupted production of arms and munitions for use by Nazi Germans . . . The warning is for you to get away from these factories."


British Flying Hero

Saturday, March 14, 1942 - The flier who led the British airmen in yesterday's daylight offensive was a flying ace only 21 years old. His name is "Paddy" Finucane. Recently he was promoted to flight-lieutenant He was wounded on Feb. 20 and had just returned to his duties. He shot down two new Focke-Wulf 190's yesterday, registering his 28th victory. Colonel Britton, Britain's broadcaster to the continent, warned French workmen to keep away from factories producing war equipment for Germany, promising that such places would be bombed. The warning was serious. It also was good propaganda.



London, April 29, 1942 — (CP Cable) — The King chatted with three Canadian airmen on a visit to fighter command stations in the south of England today. He watched the start and finish of a successful R.A.F. sweep, which took Empire flyers to Dunkerque where they covered bombing attacks.
Inspecting one Spitfire squadron before the takeoff, His Majesty stopped to talk to P/O Frank Jones, of Sherbrooke, Que., a former salesman in Vancouver, and F/L Bill Stock, 20, of Ottawa, only two Canadian members of the squadron.
He asked them if they had been trained in Canada and the number of sweeps they had been on.
The King motored to another aerodrome where half an hour later he saw the Spitfires roaring back. He congratulated a New Zealand flyer, F/Sgt. Tony Robson, who told him he had hit a Focke-Wulf 190 which plunged to earth emitting smoke.
S/L Keith Hodson, 26, of London, Ont., attached to the squadron of famed "Paddy" Finucane which the King also visited, told the King he had "chased a few (enemy planes), but didn't catch anything." Hodson is a veteran of more than 20 sweeps.


Air Ace Will Wed

London, May 1, 1942 (UP) — The engagement of Squadron Leader Brendan (Paddy) Finucane, 21, who has shot down 31 German planes to become the Royal Air Force’s most publicized hero, to Jean Mary Woolford, a pretty brunette who lived two doors from his home in a London suburb, was announced today.


But Nazis Put Up First Real Battle in Occupied France

London, May 17, 1942 - (AP) - The German Air Force in Occupied France suddenly put up its first real opposition to British fighters in several weeks today and sought, in day-long battles, to smash one of the biggest R.A.F. cross-Channel sweeps of the year.
At least nine Nazi and eight British aircraft were reported destroyed.
So heavy was the R.A.F. attack that observers described the morning bombardment as "one of the heaviest and most continuous series of explosions since the days of Dunkirk."
Marshal Goering's Air Force for the first time in weeks threw its full-scale fighter strength into the attempts to smash back the British attack, reversing sharply the recent German policy of conserving strength while trying to pick off stragglers.
In this connection Goering was reported to have been in Paris recently and it was not definitely known whether he had gone back to Germany. It was possible that one of the objects of his trip to Occupied France was to bolster aerial resistance, with the results shown in Sundays heavy fighting.
Boston bombers, roaring under an umbrella of Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, smashed at Boulogne's much-bombed docks.
The R.A.F. fighter sweeps continued ceaselessly from dawn to dusk despite the German resistance. Some Channel observers said it was the largest scale air combat since the German battleships dashed through Dover Strait with their heavy aerial protection.
It was authoritatively stated that "many combats took place."
Some observers expressed the opinion that Goering had been able to reinforce his Western fighter force or was being driven by popular discontent to try to cut down the recent R.A.F. supremacy over Northern France and the Channel. The detonations on the enemy side of the Channel jolted buildings in England for half an hour during the morning.
Four German Messerschmitts raided a southeast coast town, doing some damage to buildings but causing only a few casualties.
There was no activity over Britain during the night.
It was presumed that bad weather over the Continent again grounded long range planes of the Bomber Command but bright sunlight today made sweeps possible.
Flight Lieutenant Carroll Warren McColpin of Buffalo, N.Y., of the 3rd American Eagle Squadron, shot down one of the two Nazi fighters destroyed in the day's first sweep in the vicinity of Boulogne.

Finucane Gets 32nd
Squadron Leader Brendan (Paddy) Finucane bagged his thirty-second plane of the war on the second sweep. The eagle-eyed Irishman and Wing Commander A. G. Malan now share the R.A.F.'s top-scoring honors.
Hudson bombers blasted at two convoys off the Frisian Islands Friday night, leaving three supply ships burning and four others probably damaged from hits.
Calling the attacks "the most devastating of the week," Air Ministry sources said that five of the British bombers were lost in the fierce anti-aircraft fire that greeted their low-level assault.
One Hudson, hit by Flak, burst into flames. The crew of another aircraft saw the pilot drive the blazing machine straight on to the deck of the nearest ship. The plane exploded and the ship believed to have been destroyed.
We do not know whose aircraft it was," said a pilot, " but I suspect it may have been one man who always said that if he were shot down he would try to crash on his target.”
The attack, carried out by the famous Demon Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force and a squadron of the Royal Dutch Naval Air Service, was led by Flight Lieutenant R. M. Christie, North Bay, Ontario. Five aircraft are missing.
Air Ministry sources said Coastal Command planes had hit twenty-eight Axis ships engaged on the supply route to Northern Norway in the last two weeks. These ships take munitions, aircraft spares and other supplies northward, and return with iron ore, pyrites and timber for Germany's Ruhr.


My Dearest Mother and Dad


R.A.F Station    Redhill     27/5/42

My dearest Mother and Dad,
  I have just heard about Ray being recalled back from leave. Do you know why his station recalled him? I thought it was pretty tough on him as he was only home for a few days.
  I have not been doing very much operational flying but bags of formation and practice. I have also been identifying dead bodies. Not very pleasant but very necessary. A couple of my boys were bumped off. One drowned in the sea and the other burnt up in an airplane crash. I did not feel so hot after these minor incidents but that is the way these things happen.
  My social life has been nil except for an occasional picture in the local town. In fact my life has been very quiet of late.
  How are the decorations shaping out? I am a eagerly looking forward to seeing them when I come home again.
  All my love to the children and yourselves.                  

                                    Your loving son,        Bren.


Britain’s Leading Ace Says Good Eyes, Straight Shooting Win Battles In Clouds
'Paddy' Finucane, Shot Up Badly Once, Downs 31 Nazi Planes

Woolford & Finucane
SHE CHANGED HIS MIND - Although Squadron Leader "Paddy” Finucane doesn't say so in the accompanying story, he always had said he wouldn’t marry until the war is over. But Jean Woolford (left), who lives next door to his family, changed his mind and they announced their engagement.

"Paddy" Finucane, who wrote the article below, is the outstanding ace of the RAF. A hard-fighting Irishman, leading a squadron of rough and tough Australians, he is credited with downing at least 31 German planes.

(By SQUADRON LEADER BRENDAN "Paddy" FINUCANE, D.S.O., D.F.C., Special to The Pittsburgh Press, AN R.A.F. BASE, 13 June 1942.)
I have shot down 31 German planes because I’ve been blessed with a pair of good eyes and have learned to shoot straight. I have only once been badly shot up.
I always feel nervous before going off on a sweep over the Channel. So, mornings when it's my turn in the air, I take a warm bath before leaving. It relaxes me. Then tea and light breakfast before walking across the field to get orders for the day.
Once I get in the Spit though, everything is fine. Moving out across the Channel with the sun getting brighter and everything clean and nice and the formation all in order, I sort of lean back and enjoy it all.

Excitement Is Intense
You're still on edge, of course. But when a sweep of Messerschmitts dives out of the clouds, there is no time for feelings. The brain is working fast, sizing up this, rejecting that, and when you move in for a squirt at the enemy plane, mental effort and the excitement are intense. I’ve come back from these sweeps with my shirt and tunic dripping with sweat.
I like to fire at a German from the rear. Close in on him in a fast drive and then give him a squirt in the tank, and if he breaks up I am quite happy. Sometimes though, when an ME flies across your path it's hard to resist firing. But it doesn’t pay.
I fire at them once in a while but you only see bits fly off. You don't see it crash, what you want to do is get on their tail.

Ships Blown Apart
On sweeps, you look for planes in the air and ships below. I saw a ship not so long ago. Fastening onto the target I dived down, letting go with cannon shells when I was just off the stern masts. The ship flew apart. You could hear it on both sides of the Channel. It must have been full of ammo.
Another, time, a formation of ME's drops out of the clouds. The formation is twisting from 10,000 feet down to the water and back up again. I squirt one German apart but I'm near the water. I start to pull up when I see cannon shells splashing in a steady stream, so I figure one of the Jerries had followed me on down and is in back of me.
It is a very good position to be in, in a fight because you can judge the angle of fire by the splashes, and then you know where your man is. As the angle gets smaller, you can figure he's getting in line with you.

Got Him and Went Home
Just before that happens you give him a quick turn. If he tries to follow, he goes into the drink, because he won't be able to pull out quickly enough. If he doesn’t follow, you whip up behind him and there you are. I got him and went home.
In these fights, you often don't know exactly what has happened. At the time, each incident is a blurred impression. But later, sometimes you find you can't sleep. So you lie there in bed and you get to thinking what happened, trying hard to remember. It all doesn't come back at once. Only three or four incidents stand out, like illuminated lantern slides in the mind's eye.
One "slide" may show two ME 109 s belting down on your tail from out of the sun and already within firing range. In another you see your cannon shells striking the belly of an ME and the aircraft spraying debris.

Tiny Links Come Back
Then suddenly some tiny link is remembered and instantly you are fully awake and the operation pieces itself together. You lie there, sleep driven away, reliving that combat, congratulating yourself for one thing, blaming yourself for another.
I've never met a more loyal and gamer crowd of chaps than the Australians in my section. They’ve saved my bacon many a time when I've been attacked from behind, while concentrating on a Messerschmitt in front of me. And on the ground they're the cheeriest friends a fellow could have.
I'm sure that Australia must be a grand country if it's anything like its pilots and after the war I'm going to see it. Not flying or farming. But in some job with figures—accountancy or auditing.




This Is It, Ace's Farewell As Plane Dives Into Sea

London, July 17, 1942 — (AP) — Bidding his comrades farewell with a calm "This is it, chaps," Irish Paddy Finucane, R.A.F. ace, who had 33 German planes to his credit, plunged to his death in the English Channel last Wednesday (the 15th) in the wreckage of his crippled Spitfire, the Air Ministry Announced tonight. A veteran of more than 50 cross-Channel raids and the youngest wing Commander in the R.A.F., Finucane, 21, was leading his squadron during the largest mass-air assault yet, upon Occupied France when a "million-to-one chance" shot from a German machine-gun post hit the radiator of his plane. Unable to gain height, Finucane attempted to set his wounded Spitfire down in the sea but it sank immediately, dragging him down. Before the crash he called out his farewell message over his inter-plane radio.
Pilot Officer F. A. Aikman, 23-year-old No. 2 leader of the Wing and a native of Toronto, avenged the Irish ace by smashing the German machine-gun post.
Finucane —his given name was Brendan but everybody called him Paddy— was shot up badly once in all his spectacular career before the Germans got him.
Last October he spent his twenty-first birthday in the hospital — but the Nazis didn't send him there. Paddy broke a bone in his foot one night while celebrating destruction of two German fighters the day before.
It was four months later that he was wounded in a fight over the Channel, but he managed to come home to a perfect landing under the shepherding of a fellow pilot.
A native of neutral Eire, Finucane came of a family wrapped up in the British war effort. His father, Thomas, helps build the Spitfires his son flew. One brother, Raymond, is a sergeant in the Bomber Command and another brother, Kelvin, who just turned 13, is planning to join the R.A.F. when he's old enough.
Finucane wore the Distinguished Service Order, and the Distinguished Flying Cross – the later with double Bar. He was promoted to Wing Commander last June 30.
He achieved fame first as a section leader in R.A.F. Squadron No. 452 largely Australian manned. When legless Douglas Bader bailed out of a wrecked plane and became a prisoner of the Germans, Finucane became Britain's leading ace. Bader's score was fifteen Nazi planes.


Toronto Flyer Avenges RAF Ace Finucane Killed Off French Coast
P/O F. A. Aikman Gets Nazi Machine Gunners After Million-to-One Shot Fatal

London, July 17, 1942 (Advance)—Wing Cmdr. Brendan (Paddy) Finucane, RAF ace, credited with destruction of 32 German planes, was killed last Tuesday in a crash off the French coast after a German machine-gun bullet disabled his Spitfire, the Air Ministry announced tonight.
It was a "million to one chance" shot which ended the career of the 22-year-old ace as he was leading his wing during the largest mass attack yet carried out on German targets in France. The bullet struck the Spitfire's radiator.
The motor was turning too slowly for Finucane to gain height so he opened the sliding hood over the cockpit, took off his helmet and attempted to set his plane down on the sea. The Spitfire "sank like a stone," carrying Finucane to his death.
The No. 2 leader of the wing, P/O Alan Aikman, 23, of Toronto, avenged the death of the Irish ace in his own ground strafing attack on the German machine-gun post, set up on a spit of land, Pointe du Touquet, facing the English Channel from whence the RAF men came.
Aikman said the wing was flying at "naught feet" when it skimmed across the French coast and that the airmen were almost on the machine-gunners before Finucane realized it. The machine-gunners opened up with point-blank fire.
"As I went in," Aikman related, "I took a crack at the gun post. When the dust settled down a little, there was nothing to be seen on the sand and I guessed my fire blew that post to blazes."


This Is It
Paddy Finucane Leading R.A.F. Against Nazis Dies in Channel

LONDON. July 17, 1942 (A.A.P.) - All Britain has heard with intense regret the news of the death of the famous Irish airman Wing-Commander Brendan "Paddy" Finucane. This 21-year-old ace, the youngest wing commander of the Royal Air Force and the leader of the first Australian squadron in Britain was killed when he endeavored to crash-land his Spitfire in the English Channel ten miles from the French coast, after his machine had been hit by a German machine-gun posted on the beach near Pointe du Touquet.

Wing-Commander Finucane was leading his wing during the largest mass attack that fighters have made so far against targets in France. He was flying low over the machine-gun post when a shot penetrated the Spitfire's radiator.

While Wing Commander Finucane was leading his wing out to the attack, his station commander was “listening in” to the radio telephone conversation between the Spitfire pilots. He said Finucane did not know he was hit until his No. 2 told him.
Finucane went on nevertheless, telling his unit: “Take the right target, chaps. Here we go.”

Soon afterwards he said his engine temperature was going up and that he was coming out of France. He continued to talk calmly over the radio as he was coming home, and his last words, probably as his engine stopped, were. "This is it, chaps.”

Finucane's No. 2 was a Canadian Pilot-Officer F. A. Aikman, who avenged his wing-commander by attacking the machine-gun post which was perched on a ridge of sand, and manned by two soldiers. He said two Nazi soldiers opened up at point-blank range, and the first burst penetrated Finucane's starboard wing and radiator. Pilot-Officer Aikman believed his fire then blew the post to pieces. Finucane obviously was not hurt by the Nazi shot, and he was flying about 10 feet over the sea just before he crashed. Apparently he had tried to put as much distance as possible between himself and the Nazis so as to have a better chance of being rescued by our boats.

Aikman, who was flying close alongside, saw Finucane, obviously unhurt, open his hood, remove his helmet and put down in the sea. The crash must have knocked him unconscious, for his comrades circled the sea for a long time afterwards, but all they saw was a slowly widening streak of oil which floated on the waters of the Channel.

Pilot-Officer Aikman added:

Paddy Finucane
The picture above was taken by Brendan's rigger, Herbert "Jimmy" Firth, using a Brownie Box type camera. Probably at RAF Kirton on Lindsay, Lincolnshire while they were with 452 Sq. RAAF (photo courtesy of Dave Hanks)
"I circled at about 5000 feet and watched, but all I saw was a streak of oil. The whole thing was a miserable piece of bad luck. It was a shot in a million that hit the radiator. Thus passed ‘Paddy’ Finucane, unbeaten by the Luftwaffe. It was a ground shot that got him.”

Finucane was a breezy air ace, who had destroyed more than 30 planes, painted a thorned shamrock on his Spitfire and nicknamed it “Wheezy Anna."


The Search for Paddy Finucane

by Bob Morrow, D.F.C., 402 Squadron - from the book "Spitfire" by Robert Bracken

"ON September 8, 1941, at Southend, I flew a Spitfire for the first time. It was a visiting aircraft. Like all pilots, I found it remarkable—very responsive, and light compared to the Hurricane, which was the aircraft 402 Squadron used at the time.
On March 8, 1942, 402 Squadron moved to Colerne (outside of Bath) to reequip with Spitfires. This was in response to a lot of bitching on my part about still flying Hurricanes. On February 14, the commander-in-chief of Fighter Command, then Sir Sholto Douglas, visited us at Warmwell, Dorset. Two days later we made a notable attack with Hurricane bombers on five destroyers, probably sinking one and damaging another. He must have liked what he saw, because he gave us 22 brand-new Spitfire Vb's. I had been expecting some clapped-out old Spits for conversion purposes.
A week later, on March 17, 1942, we moved to Fairwood Common outside of Swansea in South Wales, and took up ordinary duties—we had some fun there. The Irish were suspected of refueling German subs at the Saltee Islands off the southeast coast of Ireland, and we often patrolled looking for any suspicious activity. A great opportunity to beat up the local countryside. One smart-ass (not from my squadron, thank God) lost his Spitfire when he landed and could not restart his engine.
On May 16, 1942, we moved to Kenley, Surrey, and set about serious business. On May 31, we moved to Redhill in the Kenley Sector.
At that time, Paddy Finucane, D.F.C., D.S.O., was the leading RAF ace. We were at Redhill together and we became good friends. He had a lot of charm and would often take the time to drop by 402 Squadron dispersal to chat with the airmen, much to their delight.
In July 1942, Paddy left to take over the Hornchurch Wing. On July 15, while on a low-level operation over France, in a Spitfire Vb, he was hit in the radiator and started to lose coolant. He managed to get off the French coast and belly-land in the Channel. The RAF or RN sent out three gunboats to try to rescue him. Unfortunately, belly-landing in water almost never worked. The aircraft would pitch into the water, and then it was goodbye.
402 Squadron was off duty. We were called by 11 Group Sector Control, who advised us that the rescue boats were in trouble and under attack by Focke-Wulf 190s, the newest German fighters. We volunteered to help, and the pilots raced to the airfield. Time was vital. Twelve of us managed to take off, in a loose gaggle, as soon as our engines could be started. We took off from our base, which was still at Redhill, and headed straight for the French coast — near Fecamp, as I recall, in the Seine estuary. My logbook shows I was flying my usual Spit Vb, AE-A  BM257).
From a long distance away I could see one of the motor gunboats already on fire. The FW 190s were diving on the other boats, and I wanted to put a stop to that. We were practically flying on the deck when the FWs suddenly broke cloud above us and dived to the attack. We flew in a defensive circle as the enemy fighters came down in pairs and groups of four, attacking us and the boats.
F/Sgt. Hughes (BM 296) was my No. 2. At one point a 190 attacked us both. I half-rolled into and over it, but Hughes was not so fortunate. Over the R.T. I heard him say that he was on fire. He was barely 100 feet off the water, too low to bail out. Immediately, the nose of his Spitfire pointed straight up. As he undid his safety straps, he was hurled free, parachute billowing out. The rescue boys fished him out of the drink into one of the gunboats below.
There never was a letup. I never put in such a crowded 25 minutes in all my life. I was able to make three separate attacks on the 190s — one at full deflection, which was seldom successful, and another from astern, but at too great a distance. The third was different. I saw a 190 climbing from an attack on the boats. We were close to head-on, and I don't think he saw me. I fired a five-second burst with both 20 mm cannons and four machine guns. Pieces of 190 scattered all over. As the fight wore on, the Germans seemed to lose their enthusiasm. They never succeeded in breaking up our circle, and eventually they just buzzed off.
When we returned, I found that the cover of my cine-gun had not been removed, such was the haste of our departure, so I never put in a separate claim for my FW. We were always sensitive about putting in any claims that might be considered exaggerated.
During the fight, one 190 was seen to crash into the sea. Another skimmed low over the water, and seconds later only a foamy wake remained. We just never had the time to really check how many dead Germans there were, when there were so many live ones around.
It had been a wild fight. F/Ldr. Brownie Trask (BM 135) had counted sixteen 190s coming at us at one point. F/Sgt. N. A. Keene (BM 519) drew smoke from one of them. J. C. Bayly (AR 396) said it seemed as if he had one wingtip continually on a mast, and that it was definitely a vicious circle while it lasted. Sgt. McGraw (BM 698) had some bullet holes in his Spitfire as souvenirs, while P/O Dewar (BM 262) was seriously wounded. Hughes, my No. 2, was also wounded.
Overall, we had only one regret — that Paddy Finucane, with 31 enemy planes to his credit, was never found.

... When we were at Redhill, I introduced the logo of a red Maple Leaf in a white nine-inch circle. My rationale was that the Poles had their insignia, so why not the RCAF?
RCAF Headquarters liked the idea."


Mother Glad Son Avenged Finucane

TORONTO, July 18, 1942 — (CP) — Mrs. F. H. Aikman of Toronto today described as "grand news" the announcement that her son, Pilot Officer Alan Aikman, 23, avenged the death of Wing Cmdr. Brendan "Paddy" Finucane, British ace who was killed Wednesday off the French coast.
Finucane, who was credited with destruction of 32 German planes, was killed in a crash after a chance Nazi machine-gun bullet disabled his Spitfire. Aikman ground-strafed the machine gun post.
"That part is grand news," said Mrs. Aikman. "That part about Alan getting him. How glad I am. But it is a great pity about Finucane. I’ve heard about him so often it almost seems as though I know him."



LONDON, July 29, 1942 - (A.A.P.) - A Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral for the late Wing Commander "Paddy” Finucane, who was killed in the Channel recently, was attended by 2500 persons. Those present included Finucane’s parents, Pilot Officer Raymond Finucane. his brother, and the Australian High Commissioner (Mr. Bruce) and Mrs. Bruce. Cardinal Binsley officiated.



Had Instituted Inquiries Before Word Came
Pilot Peter B. Evans Had Been
Killed in Action Over Germany

11 August 1942 - Pilot Officer Peter Bruce Lloyd Evans, son of John L. and Mrs. Evans, 602 Main street east, has given his life in the service of his country. Yesterday the parents were advised that the brave young airman had been killed over Germany while serving as a fighter pilot. He was 21 years of age and went overseas in January of this year.

Father Flew With R.F.C.
The father was with the Royal Flying Corps in the last war. He was commissioned as captain with an English regiment, winning the Military Cross. Later he transferred to the R.F.C. Mr. Evans said he had a premonition that something was wrong and recalled that in recent letters his son revealed that he was deeply affected by the death of Pat Finucane, a gallant leader, to whose squadron he was attached. He decided to cable his son to see if he was all right; then word came of his death on July 29 (The day Paddy was Buried -jf).



The story gathers lustre, the tale shall never wane
This epic of an Irish lad named Paddy Finucane
A Wicklow bucko Paddy was a lad who loved life well
Yet smiled the while his fighter plunged down in a flaming hell.

He looked just like an altar boy, he'd been one, too, you know
For Father Byrne at Winefredes he'd served not long ago
There was a certain something in those pair of smiling eyes
But he could frown, a black frown, too when fighting in the skies

The RAF was Paddy's pride and downing Nazi planes
Was something of a specialty at which he took great pains
A score of planes officially was this young bucko's score
But Hitler had some figures that recorded many more

The Finucanes were fighting men who came from Irish Kings
But Paddy was the first of 'em to smack ’em down with wings
His fighting, though, was for a cause no hate shone in his face
Until the Hun reigned slaughter on the helpless every place

The love of God was in his soul and ne'er did Sunday pass
That Paddy wasn't on his knees to mark the Sunday mass
He bowed and drank the blood of Christ that when the call came he
Might have the strength that Jesus had when came Gethsemane

It seemed to keep him free from fear when death was in the air
One didn't talk about it but one knew that it was there
He sped to action with a smile and fighting one or ten
Possessed a sort of fighting poise not common to all men

And when he saw his number up he took it in his stride
And maybe felt that Father Byrne again was at his side
The strength that comes from sacraments was his that second, split
And that is why the lad could die and just say "This is it"



7 October 1942 - Glasgow, through heads of businesses and particularly through works’ collections, is giving substantial support to the "Paddy" Finucane Memorial Fund, which has been opened by the Mayor of Richmond, Surrey, in order that the splendid leadership of Wing Commander Brendan Finucane, D.S.O., D.F.C. (and two Bars), who disappeared into the sea during an air battle over the Channel on July 15 this year, may be permanently commemorated.
Wing Commander Finucane led the 602 (City of Glasgow) Fighter Squadron for some time.
The memorial fund is to be divided between the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund, and (up to a maximum of £10,000) the erection of a casualty ward at the Royal Hospital, Richmond, which was "Paddy's" home town. Contributions, large and small, have already been received from all parts of the British Isles, and from overseas. Donations should be sent to the Mayor of Richmond, at the Town Hall, Richmond, Surrey.


Why Not? Not Strange English Ace With RCAF

By KENNETH C. CRAGG, Ottawa, July 9, 1944 (Staff) — Take it from one who has flown and fought with him, W/C James E. (Johnny) Johnson, leading Allied ace in the Western European theatre, comes as fine as they're made in a field in which there is tough competition.
Which is simply a prelude to the question of why an R.A.F. man is commanding an R.C.A.F. Spitfire formation that is so full of Canadians that it could he called an all-Canadian outfit with only the slightest exaggeration. Johnson, who at the latest reading had 35 Nazis to his credit, is the exaggeration.
When it was put to S/L D. G. (Bud) Malloy at R.C.A.F. headquarters, who has a D.F.C. and won’t admit it, that one-time fighter pilot immediately assumed a frankly pained expression and barely caught himself from snapping back: "Why not?"

Just Natural
Instead, he took this reporter gently by the hand and, with all the authority of an officer who is now in charge of flying training, made it clear that Johnny Johnson is just as naturally with an R.C.A.F. wing as a lot of R.C.A.F. men are with R.A.F. formations — and commanding them too.
It all goes back, so far as this particular wing is concerned, to the days when there were not enough Canadians to make it an all-Canadian formation. They started off with W/C Brian Kingcome, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, one of those hardy Battle of Britain fighters. Kingcome is a group captain in Italy now.
Then, when he went off for a rest, there was W/C Clarke (Knobby) Fee, D.F.C. and Bar, of the R.C.A.F. Fee came from Winnipeg and when he went missing, he was succeeded by W/C Keith Hodson, D.F.C. and Bar, and D.F.C. (U.S.), also of the R.C.A.F. When Hodson was taken off operations, Johnny Johnson took over. He did one tour with the wing, went out for a rest, and came back for another tour.
"Now," suggested Malloy "what is there more natural than that."

Popular With Canadians
To make it more natural, he told how Fee was the first Canadian to lead an R.A.F. squadron and how Hodson once flew as No. two to the late W/C Paddy Finucane, who had a score of 33 before he was knocked down in action.
And to make it clearer, or at least to indicate that there is something closer between the airmen of the Commonwealth than the cut and color of their uniforms, Malloy himself used to fly off Finucane's station.
"Johnny," said the squadron leader, "first came to the wing in April, 1943. He was very well liked by the Canadian boys, and he struck me as being very much like Paddy Finucane who was one of the best men who ever lived and a marvelous kid on top of that.
"Johnny is like Paddy in this; he seems to be almost able to smell them out and wherever he is you can count on a good scrap. Like Paddy, he seems to have that faculty of being in the right place at the right time."

Escorted Fortresses
Johnston had a fair score when he came to the wing. He won his D.S.O. with the Canadians, and got many of his credits while escorting Flying Fortresses.
"And," said Malloy, "don't let anybody kid you, that is a tough job."
Malloy remembers well the day Finucane was knocked down. They had been shooting up transportation and Finucane's plane was hit at a low level and he crashed into the sea. The squadron's main task was to protect the rescue boats from Nazi planes. There were 10 R.C.A.F. Spitfires and about 25 Huns.
"It was," said Malloy, "a hell of a scrap."
Malloy is a Halifax man and joined up the day war was declared. He trained at Camp Borden and instructed for some time at Uplands. He got his transfer to operational in January, 1942.


Victories Include :

12 Aug 1940

13 Aug 1940

4 Jan 1941
19 Jan 1941
4 Feb 1941
15 Apr 1941
11 July 1941
3 Aug 1941

9 Aug 1941
16 Aug 1941
19 Aug 1941

27 Aug 1941
20 Sept 1941
21 Sept 1941
2 Oct 1941

12 Oct 1941
13 Oct 1941

20 Feb 1942
13 Mar 1942
14 Mar 1942
26 Mar 1942
28 Mar 1942

2 Apr 1942
10 Apr 1942
16 Apr 1942
26 Apr 1942
28 Apr 1942
30 Apr 1942
17 May 1942
8 June 1942
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109

one Me110
1/2 Ju88
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
two Me109s
  3   Me109
one Me109
one Me109
two Me109s
  3   Me109s
two Me109s
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
two Me109
one Me109

one FW190
1.5 FW190s
1/3 Ju88
one FW190
1/2 Me109
one Me109
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
1/2 FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
probable &
destroyed &

destroyed &
destroyed *
destroyed &
destroyed &
destroyed &

probable &

29 / 8.33 / 8

* One plus two half shares

Score from Aces High [Shores & Williams]. Also in that book, is this quote relating to his death:
"A telegram of sympathy was subsequently received from two of the Soviet Union’s leading fighter pilots, Ivan Kholodar and Eugenyi Gorbatyuk"


Beurling Ranks Fourth Among European Aces

By FRED BACKHOUSE [I have modified this article to be more accurate –jf]
London, 15 July 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. [post war research has revealed Pat Pattle was probably the top RAF ace –jf]
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:

S/L Thomas “Pat” Pattle (RAF), 50 [approx.]
G/C James “Johnny” Johnson (RAF), 36.91
S/L William “Cherry” Vale (RAF), 30.5
G/C Adolph “Sailor” Malan (RAF), 29.5
F/L George “Screwball” Beurling (RCAF), 29
W/C John “Bob” Braham (RAF), 29
S/L Brendan “Paddy” Finucane (RAF), 29
W/C Clive “Killer” Caldwell (RAF), 28.5
Lt/Col Francis “Gabby” Gabreski (8th AF), 28
An anonymous Polish sergeant [Czech pilot Josef Frantisek] (RAF), 28
S/L James “Ginger” Lacey (RAF), 28
W/C Colin Gray (RAF), 27.7
W/C Stanford “Tuckie” Tuck (RAF), 27.66
Capt. Robert S. Johnson (8th AF), 27
S/L Neville Duke (RAF), 26.83
Maj. George “Ratsy” Preddy (8th AF), 26.83
W/C Frank Carey (RAF), 26
F/L Eric “Sawn-Off” Lock (RAF), 26
W/C LC “Wildcat” Wade (American in the RAF), 25
Lt/Col J. C. Meyer (8th AF), 24

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 Henry "Wally" McLeod, DSO, DFC and Bar, of Regina, 21
S/L Vernon "Woody" Woodward, DFC and bar, 18.83
F/O William "Willie" McKnight, DFC and Bar, of Calgary, 18
W/C Mark "Hilly" Brown, DFC and Bar, of Glenboro, Man., 16.45
W/C James "Eddie" Edwards, DFC and bar, DFM, MiD, 16.1
W/C Robert "Buck" McNair, DSO, DFC and two bars, of North Battleford, 16
W/C Edward "Jack" Charles, DSO, DFC and Bar, Silver Star (U.S.), 15.5
F/L Don Laubman, DFC and Bar, of Edmonton, 15

The late Wing-Cmdr. Brown is officially credited by the RAF with "at least 18" [includes shared claims -jf] 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.


John Wren

... One story about his philanthropy, which comes from his family, deserves to be recorded. During World II Wren decided to make a gift of 500 pounds, a sizeable sum, to each of two pilots he admired for bringing down a large number of German planes — Bluey Truscott, an Australian, and Paddy Finucanc, an Irishman, who were flying in the same RAAF squadron. RAAF authorities ruled that servicemen could not accept such gifts, so Wren gave the money to the mothers of the two men instead. Immediately the workers at a coal mine he owned at Newcastle went on strike. They complained that if their employer had 1,000 pounds to spare, he ought to be using it to raise their wages.


Jean Woolford, who was engaged to Finucane, married Edward Crang, a pilot with the RNZAF.
They moved to New Zealand and had five children. She died of a brain tumour in 1984; he died of ‘a broken heart’ three months later.


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--- British Aces ---


Thanks go out to

Glenn Heyler, Michael Brennan, Dave Hanks, Dave Carling & Dave Aikman for the photos & infos !

On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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