Charles Curnow "Last-Trip" Scherf
RAAF S/L - DSO,
DFC & Bar
Charles Curnow Scherf
was born on the 17th day of May 1917, at "Big Ben" in Emmaville,
New South Wales. The fifth child of Charles Henry Scherf and Susan Jane
Curnow. Charles married Florence Hope OHara and together they
had four children.
Scherf enlisted in 1941 and distinguished himself as a Mosquito
Pilot in World War II, posted by the RAAF as a Flight Lieutenant with the Canadian 418 Squadron in the RCAF where he flew 34 operations (He was commisioned in 1942). Posted then
to a staff job, he made occasional "visits" to his old squadron,
and in fact destroyed more aircraft on these trips than he had while
officially serving with them! He was promoted to S/L in May but his adventures ended when he was posted
back to Australia in July 1944 to instruct at 5 OTU Williamstown.
In less than 4 months, Scherf was awarded the DFC and
Bar and the DSO. His final official tally was 13.5 destroyed in
the air, 10 on the ground (one he forced to land, then destroyed), and seven damaged.
He survived the
war, but it still took its toll on this young man from New South Wales.
The grandson of German immigrants, he confided to his sister that he
was tormented by the memories of the Germans he had killed and also
of the friends he had lost. His drinking increased, and when driving
he sped recklessly along the country roads. On July 13th 1949 the inevitable
occurred when he was killed in a car accident near Emmaville, a victim
of the war as surely as if he had been lost in his Mosquito.
provides the text, photographs and drawings taken from newspaper
clippings collected by family members during the war. Charlie's war
time exploits may also be read in the book Six Aces by Lex
MacAulay, which recounts the careers of six varied RAAF aces. - Tony Strasser
A group of 418 squadron members that shot down 7 German planes stand with three high ranking members of the RAF & RCAF that came down to congratulate the boys on their good show & take advantage of a good photo op. They are, from the left: 01) Lloyd Breadner; 02) Jimmy Johnson (Gibbons' Nav.); 03) Noel Gibbons;
04) Stan Wilson (Macdonald's Nav.); 05) Trafford Leigh-Mallory (I think);
06) Don MacDonald;
07) Johnny Caine;
08) Al Brown (Scherf's Nav.);
09) Hugh Dowding;
10) Earl Boal (Caine's Nav.) & 11) Charlie Scherf
Four Canadian Mosquitos Bag 7 Nazis in 8 Minutes
An R.C.A.F. Fighter Station Somewhere in England, Jan. 27, 1944 - (CP) - Raiding more than 100 miles inside France, four of the R.C.A.F.’s swift Mosquito intruder planes, led by W/C Don Macdonald of Vancouver, today destroyed seven German aircraft in an action lasting only eight minutes.
Four R.A.F. Typhoons on a similar offensive sweep over Belgium at the same time shot down three other enemy planes. The bag of 10 was obtained without a single loss.
Macdonald himself set the pace for his fliers, shooting down a Heinkel 111 and a Heinkel 177 after leading 26 missions without seeing one enemy aircraft.
"Just think, after 26 trips without seeing a thing and then bingo, we get two," said Macdonald's observer, P/O Stan Wilson, an Englishman.
F/L Johnny Johnson of Omemee, Ont., with F/O Jimmy Gibbons of Vancouver as observer, and F/O Johnny Caine of Calgary, with F/S Earl Boal of Regina as observer, shared in the destruction of four Junkers. Charlie Scherf [RAAF] and his Navigator F/O Al Brown of Winnipeg, shot down the seventh enemy plane, a Focke-Wulf, to give Canadian fighters their best day since Dec. 20, when Spitfires destroyed eight German planes.
Johnson's pair brought his total of victims to four and Caine, a comparative newcomer to the squadron, raised his to three.
"There is no question about them being definitely destroyed." Macdonald said. “They went down and poofed. We saw three of them explode and go up in smoke.”
Brown thought the "most interesting part of the whole show was the way those Jerries blew in pieces when they hit the deck."
"It is a sight I'll always remember — just like lighting fires at home.”
R.C.A.F. CARRIES HEAVY BOMB LOADS TO HUN
Ottawa, Feb. 4, 1944 - (CP) - R.C.A.F. bombers participating in the three hammer-blow raids on Berlin during the past week carried a bomb weight far heavier than the whole German Air Force ever dropped on Britain in a single night, the R.C.A.F. reported today in its weekly summary of overseas operations.
On the first of the three raids, F/Sgt. S. H. Campbell of Drumheller, Alta., rear gunner in the "Goose" bomber squadron, shot down a rocket-firing Messerschmitt 110 night fighter.
We were just on the rim of the target area when the fighter started to attack us," said Campbell. "He was 440 yards away and silhouetted against the red glow of the flames below coming through the clouds. I told the skipper to bank to starboard and as the fighter followed us on the curve of pursuit, I gave him a long burst, scoring a hit on the starboard rocket.
"The enemy nightfighter broke off the combat, but attacked again coming up underneath and, as Campbell fired again, he saw it flip over on its back in flames and a few seconds later explode on the ground below.
An R.C.A.F. Mosquito squadron "went to town" one day of the week when four of its pilots knocked down seven enemy aircraft within eight minutes.
Wing Cmdr. D. C. S. Macdonald of Vancouver, commanding officer of the squadron, accounted for a Heinkel 111 and a Heinkel 177 and F/L C. Scherf, an Australian pilot in the squadron whose navigator is F/O Al Brown of Winnipeg got a Focke-Wulf 200. F/L J. Johnson of Omemee, and F/O J. Caine of Edmonton reported four Junkers destroyed.
Mustangs Score Again
After six weeks of silence the R.C.A.F. Mustang squadron under S/L C. H. (Smokey) Stover of Sarnia, also bounced back into the news by shooting down four enemy aircraft in one day. The kills were shared by F/L J. T. Seaman, Lewisville, N.B., and F/O R. O. Brown of Daysland, Alta.; F/L Gordon Wonnacott of South Edmonton and F/L George Burroughs of Toronto.
Their first two victims were unidentified, but the second pair, bagged by Burroughs and Wonnacott were Messerschmitt 109's. One of the unidentified aircraft "just blew up in mid-air," said Burroughs, the successful pilot. Meanwhile, the other three Canadian pilots attacked a second Nazi aircraft and aided in its destruction
In Coastal Command a heavily-armed minesweeper was sunk off the Norwegian coast by R.C.A.F. Beaufighters led by W/C. A. Willis of Vancouver. A medium-sized merchant ship was also left on fire and an escort vessel raked with cannon fire. The Canadians saw the minesweeper blow up after their attack.
From Italy came the news that the mounting score of the City of Windsor Spitfire Squadron went up another notch when it destroyed a Focke-Wolf and damaged another while protecting British invasion craft off the Nettuno beachhead.
The City of Windsor unit has bagged more Huns than any other squadron in the desert air force over the beachhead. In seven days, since the landing began, it has destroyed four enemy machines with two more probably destroyed and four damaged. It has lost one pilot, although some have made several forced landings.
RCAF Gets Three Huns Near Paris
London, 27 Feb. 1944 - (CP) - R.C.A.F. Mosquitos destroyed three German planes, one towing a glider, south of Paris Saturday, it was announced tonight. They also shot up grounded German planes, leaving at least three blazing.
F/L H. Cleveland of Vancouver and F/L Charles Scherf of Australia shared in destruction of a Heinkel glider tow plane and of the two-man glider it was towing. Each also destroyed a Gotha. Scherf’s navigator was F/O C. Finlayson of Victoria, B.C.
These planes were the first Cleveland had destroyed.
HUGE NEW ENEMY GLIDER-TUG
"Two Planes In One" Brought Down
LONDON, Feb. 28, 1944 - (A.A.P.) - The German glider-tug shot down over central France on Saturday had five engines, two tails, and two crew compartments.
I just couldn’t believe my eyes, it was the biggest thing I had ever seen in the air," said the Canadian Mosquito pilot (Cleveland) who helped an Australian pilot, F/L Charles Scherf, of Glen Innes to shoot it down.
"In effect it was two Heinkel 111’s joined together by a huge main plane and a fifth engine added," the pilot said. "It also had a large number of gun positions."
Two gliders were brought down with the tug.
D.F.C. For Flight-Lieutenant C. C. Scherf - Recognition of Gallant Service
Mrs. C. C. Scherf, who with her two young daughters, Maureen and Rosemary, is staying with her parents, Mr. And Mrs. H. O’Hara, of "St. Elmo," West Avenue, this morning received a telegram conveying the congratulations of the Minister of Air and the Air Board "on the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to her husband, F/L C. C. Scherf, in recognition of his gallant service."
News of the honour gained by the intrepid young pilot, who is the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Scherf of "Big Ben" Emmaville, does not come as a surprise to those who have been following his exploits, as recorded in cabled messages appearing in the Australian Press in recent months.
As recently as little more than a fortnight ago a cable from London recorded the following achievement by him:
"A Glen Innes pilot, Flight-Lieutenant Charles Scherf, was the pilot of one of two Mosquitoes which shot down a glider tug and two gliders in tow over Central France on Saturday afternoon. Accompanied by a Canadian Mosquito, Scherf came up behind the enemy planes, and set fire to the glider tug’s engines. Scherf also participated in the shooting up of enemy planes on the ground, at least three of which were set on fire."
In the big days of football in Glen Innes Charles Scherf, while still a schoolboy, was one of the stars of the Glen Innes 13, and the idol of the crowd in inter-district cup competition matches. It was on the football field that he revealed those qualities which were later to earn for him a name in the R.A.A.F. the distinction while flying a Mosquito bomber, of having more enemy planes to his credit than any other "night intruder" in the period of his operational flights.
F/L Scherf’s younger daughter Rosemary, now ten months old, was born after he arrived in England.
SCHERF, F/L Charles Curnow (AUS 413671) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.418 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 4 April 1944. Air Ministry Bulletin 13458/AL.787 refers.
This officer has completed many sorties at night during which he has attacked a variety of targets with much success. He has at all times displayed exceptional keenness and his example of courage and determination has been worthy of great praise. He has destroyed four enemy aircraft at night.
FIGHTER PILOTS DEFY BIG ODDS OF FOUR TO ONE
Ottawa, 8 April 1944 — Fighter pilots of the R.C.A.F, City of Windsor Squadron, defying odds of about four to one, drove into more than 30 Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs over the Anzio beachhead, in Italy, during the last week, destroyed two and damaged several others, the R.C.A.F. reported last night in its weekly summary of operations.
Nuremberg — it’s only target during the week — was blasted by the R.C.A.F. bomber group, which sent a "substantial force" of Lancasters and Halifaxes against the German city and, with aircraft of the R.A.F. Bomber Command, left "large portions" of it in flames.
R.C.A.F. Intruder pilots were active over occupied France, and aircraft from the R.C.A.F. Beaufighter Squadron with coastal command flew in a shipping strike off the Norwegian coast, when the larger of two medium-sized enemy merchantmen and three heavily armed trawlers were hit.
Damage Heavy Liner Beaufighters piloted by Canadians were in the striking force which on Thursday attacked and damaged the heavily escorted 14,000-ton liner Monte Rosa off the Norwegian coast. During this operation, an ME-110 fighter was destroyed by an unidentified R.C.A.F. pilot.
Heavies of the R.C.A.F. bomber group laid mines in enemy waters on two days during the week.
Sgt. Alan Green, Wellesley, Ont, a rear gunner, said of the Nuremburg attack that the target was well lit up and there were "plenty of explosions — they came up like one big yellow flame."
Sgt. George Webb, of Hamilton, arrived with the last wave of bombers, and said he saw a "lovely glow" beneath the cloud. "Coming out, we could see it for 100 miles, and I figure it was a well-concentrated raid," he added.
In the tussle with the Luftwaffe over Anzio, F/O Cameron Everett, of Winnipeg, scored hits on an FW-190 which he caught attacking a squadron mate and polished the enemy aircraft off with a screaming earthward dive at more than 500 miles an hour.
Everett, shooting as he went, plunged after the Nazi fighter when he observed it roll over on its back and head downward. The Focke-Wulf crashed and later was seen ablaze on the ground. Everett pulled out of his dive with only "a few hundred feet" to spare.
F/L George Turvey, of 101 Walmsley Boulevard, Toronto, brought down another FW-190 in the same action.
Just One More Trip
F/L Charlie Scherf, D.F.C., of Glen Innis, New South Wales, who had finished a tour of operations, returned to the R.C.A.F. City of Edmonton Intruder Squadron for "just one more trip," and, with F/O W. Stewart as his observer, destroyed two unidentified enemy aircraft in the air and left three others burning on the ground.
Scherf and Stewart, making a sweep over occupied France, left a Fieseler Storch in the vicinity of Monsoreau and two Heinkel 111's on the airfield at St. Yan burning on the ground.
In the air they accounted for a twin-engined twin-braced fin aircraft and a twin-engined single fin aircraft in the vicinity of Lyons.
CANADIAN AIRMEN HAD A GREAT WEEK, SUMMARY SHOWS
Ottawa, May 6, 1944 - (CP) - Aircraft of the R.C.A.F. bomber group pounded targets in three countries in the last week, while Spitfire and Typhoon fighter-bombers made slashing attacks on pinpoint targets and Canadian airmen participated in combined air-sea operations against enemy naval units, the R.C.A.F. said last night in its weekly summary of overseas operations.
News of the famed City of Edmonton Intruder Squadron took the limelight during the week, with S/L Bob Kipp, of Kamloops, B.C., and his navigator, F/O P. Huletsky, of Montreal, blasting four of Germany's front-line aircraft out of the sky during an offensive patrol deep into the heart of the Reich Wednesday, establishing a new mark for the number of aircraft destroyed in a single night's patrol.
Canadian-built Lancaster heavy bombers made their initial operational appearance during the week. Wednesday other aircraft of the R.C.A.F. bomber group pounded Friedrichshafen in Germany and railway yards at Montzen, Belgium, and Aulmoye, France.
Aulmoye, was the principal R.C.A.F. target for the night, and attracted Canadian-built Lancasters. Halifaxes mined enemy waters meantime and an R.C.A.F. Mosquito about to attack an aircraft as it prepared to land at Crois Demetz airfield in France saw the enemy pilot lose control of his aircraft, ground-loop and burst into flames.
Two R.C.A.F. Spitfires on patrol over northern France Monday attacked a transport flying close to the ground, and saw it crash aflame.
Last Trip Scherf
S/L Kipp Brought down four FW190s the next night. F/L D. A. MacFadyen, Toronto, and his navigator, F/O J. Wright, of Rosthern, Sask. destroyed a B1 Heinkel glider tug and damaged a grounded unidentified aircraft.
An Australian pilot, S/L Charles Scherf, D.F.C., now known as "Last Trip" Scherf, came back to the City of Edmonton Squadron for another "last trip," and shot down a Ju88 north of Berlin, with F/O W. Stewart, of Toronto, as his navigator.
F/O John Caine, of Edmonton, on the same patrol with Scherf, shot down a troop carrier and then, with Scherf, shot up and seriously damaged at least nine other aircraft on ground and water.
Lancasters and Halifaxes smashed at railway yards at St. Chislain, in Belgium. A beached enemy destroyer, driven ashore by the Canadian Tribal-class destroyer Haida Saturday after an engagement off the French coast last Saturday in which her sister ship H.M.C.S. Athabaskan was sunk, was bombed by R.C.A.F. and other pilots.
Lancasters of the Canadian bomber group participated in an attack on Montdidier, France, on Wednesday.
SCHERF, F/L Charles Curnow (AUS 413671) - Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross - No.418 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 12 May 1944. Air Ministry Bulletin 13908/AL.915 refers.
Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross this officer has taken part in numerous sorties and has continued to display the highest qualities of gallantry and skill. Towards the end of February 1944 he flew the leading aircraft of two detailed for a sortie far into enemy occupied territory. During the operation three enemy aircraft were shot down and three others damaged on the ground. During another sortie over northern France in April 1944, Flight Lieutenant Scherf destroyed two enemy aircraft in the air and damaged three others on the ground at an airfield. These two sorties were a fitting climax to an outstanding tour. This officer has destroyed at least nine enemy aircraft, successes which pay an excellent tribute to his great flying qualities and resolution.
NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9156 had recommendation drafted by S/L H.S. Lisson on 6 April 1944 when he had flown 35 sorties (110 hours) of which two sorties (ten hours) had been since his previous award.
Since the previous citation, Flight Lieutenant Scherf has completed his operational tour with this squadron. In every respect it has been an outstanding one. His sorties have included bomber support, intruder, Day Ranger, bombing of enemy airfields and destruction of enemy transport.
During the latter part of his tour he acted as Flight Commander and has carried out his duties with devotion and a keenness that has inspired all those under him and has in no small way contributed to the success and high morale of the squadron that it enjoys today.
Flight Lieutenant Scherf’s final two sorties with this squadron made a fitting climax to his tour. On February 26th he led a formation of two aircraft on a Day Ranger deep into enemy occupied territory and as a result six enemy aircraft were destroyed and another damaged. Three of these he destroyed personally and he shared another. His first two kills were Junkers 52s at St.Yan, 200 miles south of Paris. Soon after this the formation encountered a five-engined bi-Heinkel glider tug towing two Gotha 242 gliders. Under Flight Lieutenant Scherf’s leadership, both gliders and the huge tug were destroyed. This feat was typical of Flight Lieutenant Scherf’s qualities of leadership and fighting ability. He then led his formation back to base despite heavy enemy defences en route. On April 5 he completed another Day Ranger to Lyon where he destroyed another five aircraft. On the way in he destroyed a Fiesler Storch. At Lyon two twin-engined aircraft were shot down near their aerodrome. On the return journey he attacked two Heinkel 111s and at St.Yan and left them in flames on the ground. This entire trip was done without escort and the results obtained are a tribute to the courage and skill of this pilot.
The same day the Commanding Officer, No.418 Squadron, endorsed the recommendation as follows:
I strongly endorse this recommendation of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross. This officer has shown outstanding courage and abilty and on his whole operational tour of 35 sorties he has destroyed 12 2 aircraft and damaged two others.
On 8 April 1944 the Officer Commanding the station wrote:
The outstanding achievements of this gallant officer are the fitting results of careful planning and initiative combined with skilful and audacious execution. His personal example and leadership are in accord with the highest traditions of the service. I strongly recommend him for the immediate award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.
As of 10 April 1944 the Air Officer Commanding, No.11 Group, wrote:
Since the above citation was written, Flight Lieutenant Sherf has destroyed a further five enemy aircraft, all during one sortie. Two of these were twin-engined aircraft which he attacked in the air, and the remaining three (two Heinkel 111s and one Fiesler Storch) were attacked on the ground and burst into flames.
Flight Lieutenant Scherf, who is now employed as an Intruder Controller, carried out this very successful operation during a day’s visit to his old unit. He is an officer of tremendous courage and enthusiasm and I consider his magnificent record well deserving of the immediate award of the Distinguished Service Order, for which he is strongly recommended.
Air Marshal Sir Roderic Hill, Air Officer Commanding, Air Defence Great Britain, took a different tack. Writing on 22 April 1944 he offered the following:
Strongly recommended for the immediate award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross which, in the circumstances, I consider more suitable that the Distinguished Service Order for which the Air Officer Commanding 11 Group recommends him.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Air Commander-in-Chief, Allied Expeditionary Air Force, wrote "Approved" (referring to the Bar to the DFC) on 29 June 1944 - six weeks after it had been gazetted !
Australian Spends Day Off Bagging 5 Huns, Damaging 2
With a Canadian Fighter Wing Somewhere in Britain, May 16, 1944 - (CP) – S/L Charlie Scherf, who officially is on ground duty, made another "last trip" with the City of Edmonton Mosquito Squadron today, destroying five Nazi planes and damaging two on a foray deep into Germany's Baltic seaboard.
The young Australian flier who completed his tour of duty with this R.C.A.F. squadron two months ago, has been going on operations every time he gets a day off and promising each trip will be his last. Around the squadron they call him "Last-Trip" Scherf. With F/L Colin Finlayson, Victoria, B.C., as his observer, Scherf flew to the neighborhood of Kubitzer Bay and Stettin late in the day to bag a Focke-Wolf 190, a Heinkel 177, a Junkers 86 and two, unidentified planes. Scherf also damaged an HE-111 and a Dornier 118 flying boat.
The enemy planes were downed and damaged in 15 minutes of the most furious action of Scherf's flying career. The five kills raised the squadron's score to 54 planes destroyed in the air, and maintained it's reputation for setting the hottest pace of any squadron of the Air Defense of Great Britain, of which the City of Edmonton fliers form a part. The squadron altogether has destroyed 118.5 enemy planes, including those caught on the ground.
Scherf and Finlayson returned to base with their Mosquito damaged by flak and with 15 holes in the wing, which Scherf said were caused by running into a flock of birds on the homeward flight.
"We caught an HE-111 in the air over the Baltic first and put him down," said the Australian. "A little later we ran into a whole collection of German aircraft and destroyed four in five minutes. It was incredible...''
The last time Scherf took a flying holiday, he shared in the destruction of two planes in the air and the burning of nine on the ground with F/O J. Caine of Edmonton. On another previous trip, he destroyed two enemy planes and left three burning. On both these trips, F/O W. Stewart, 386 Broadview Ave., Toronto, was Scherf's navigator.
N.S.W. Airman’s Five-plane Bag
LONDON, Wednesday, 17 May 1944 – (AAP) - Squadron-Leader Charlie Scherf, DFC, of Glen lnnes (NSW), shot down five German planes yesterday in quick time.
He got them between Stettin and the Baltic seaboard and brought his score to 14½. Four of the five were destroyed in five minutes.
Scherf got his first over the Baltic, the others near Kubitzer Bay. One was a bomber - it blew up.
Technically, Scherf had ended his operational flying, but was out on a "holiday" between spells of ground duty with his old Canadian Mosquito squadron the "City of Edmonton."
On May 2, the squadron shot down two planes and set fire to nine more on the ground.
AUSTRALIAN PILOT’S "HOLIDAY"
LONDON, Recorded 17 May 1944 - (A.A.P.) - Squadron-Leader Charlie Scherf, of Glen Innes, is now technically off operational flying, but he shot down five enemy aircraft yesterday afternoon, between Stettin and the Baltic seaboard.
Squadron-Leader Scherf was flying another of his "holiday trips" between spells of ground duty. He flew with his old squadron, the R.C.A.F, City of Edmonton.
He shot down four out of his score of five in five minutes.
Before war a grazier at Glen Innes, NSW, Squadron-Leader C. C. Scherf, DSO, DFC and bar, RAAF, was a pioneer of long distance raids in Mosquito aircraft. He is now crack pilot of a Canadian Mosquito Squadron and has 14 enemy "kills" to its credit.
WHEN ON PATROL "You’ve Got to be on Your Toes"
"With the present rate of conquest the days are not far off when the shadow of Allied aircraft will be over every square mile of Germany and German-dominated Europe." That was the forecast confidently given by S/L C. C. Scherf (formerly of Emmaville and Glen Innes), in the course of a B.B.C. broadcast relayed through Station 2BL, Sydney.
“The last trip I made before my tour finished was a bit spectacular. We went to an airfield in France and spotted three aircraft at one end, so we came in at zero feet and blew them up with our cannon machine-gun fire. When I say blew up - that’s just what they did. One exploded right in front of me and I flew through a cloud of wreckage. Then we went to another airfield and we saw what we thought was a formation of fighters. I said on the intercom to my other pilot: "Hey Cobber (Howie Cleveland was the other pilot. I’m unsure if this is a quote or misprint -jf), there are four of them and two of us… Let’s have a crack just the same."
Scherf broadcasts to Australia on BBC
When we came closer we saw that they were gliders - they were being towed by an odd contraption that I identified as a Heinkel fighter tug. It looked just like two aircraft flying alongside one another, with their wings joined up and an engine stuck in the join. The other pilot took the right-hand glider and made short work of it.
I circled and came in on this second glider which was going pretty slowly and as I passed it, I took some pictures of it with my camera gun, and then let him have it. That guy just came to bits in the air and I had to fly through its wreckage. When I got back, I found bits of its wood stuck in my radiator.”
Then we concentrated on the extraordinary aircraft that had been towing the blighter. It was one of the funniest sights I’ve ever seen. Two twin-engine Heinkels stuck together as it were, and the engine on the join. On my first attack, I set the two right-hand engines on fire, then Peter (again, Cleveland was the other pilot -jf) went after the middle one.
By that time I’d circled round again and set the remaining two engines alight. The Heinkel or Heinkels - I don’t know which - crashed just outside of ____.
When we got back to base we claimed that Heinkel as two aircraft destroyed.
Well that was my last trip. And these daylight intruder sorties went well on the way by then. My Squadron alone has destroyed 25 enemy aircraft and damaged many others in day trips alone. Our losses have been one Mosquito.
Our main job during this time was intruding, that is, shooting up ships, barges and other lines of communication, but of course our priority was the destruction of enemy aircraft. During January and February I shot down three enemy aircraft at night over Germany. Two of them I got on the same night.
Baltic ports around Rostock were the target next time, and four aircraft were in Scherf’s bag before he returned to the squadron.
Only one week elapsed before, he took another "trip."
With Squadron-Leader Cleveland, a Canadian pilot, at the controls of another Mosquito, the pair set off for Peenemunde, in the Baltic and other targets north-east of Berlin. The first aircraft destroyed was a Heinkel over the sea. A Focke-Wulf on patrol was next encountered. The German aircraft let fly a rocket at the Mosquito, but missed, and Scherf was quickly on the enemy’s tail. A squirt of the cannon fire and the Heinkel was no more.
A Heinkel bomber was his next victim, and then one parked near a bay was hit, followed by another which was blown into a harbour. Six aircraft was Scherf’s bag on this, his final trip in Mosquitoes, and his official tally was 23½.
On the way home over North Germany; flying into the sun, Squadron-Leader Scherf encountered a flock of birds over the sands. Twenty seven half-cooked birds were collected off the aircraft on his arrival at base.
Squadron-Leader Scherf won the D.F.C. in April 1944, the Bar to the D.F.C. in May, and the D.S.O. was an immediate award by the Chief of the Fighter Command in June. In 38 trips he flew 50,000 operational miles and never received a scratch.
PICTURES OF THE VICTIMS
I was cruising around over an enemy airfield looking for night fighters. I saw one coming down to land with its navigation lights on - so I sneaked up behind him and he came down to anything but a three-point landing. The aircraft exploded just as it hit the deck. I turned around and saw to my delight, another enemy fighter circling down with his navigation lights on. I went after him and came in slightly behind. I gave him one burst and nothing happened so I gave him another. That did the trick and he blew up in mid-air. Yes, I was pretty lucky that night. I got another enemy aircraft in a more unusual way. I didn’t even fire a shot at him. I was looking around for something to shoot up when I spotted an aircraft going like hell with its navigation lights on. I went flat out after him - chased him up to 8,000 feet. He must have caught sight of me because he came screaming down - his navigation couldn’t have been very good, because the next thing I heard was that he went slap into the side of a mountain and blew up. I’d seen this mountain in time to pull away. I came round again and took some pictures of him.
These are a couple of stories and they illustrate how fast the show moves when it does get going. All the time you’re on patrol you’ve got to be absolutely on your toes. In fact, you’ve really got to be a step ahead the whole time, working out what’s likely to happen to you - what you’ll do when it does. Then the navigators, leading the aircraft at high speed over ___ are doing a job more and more arduous as their sorties strike deeper and deeper into the heart of Germany.
With the present rate of conquest, the days are not far off when the shadow of their wings will be over every square mile of Germany and German-dominated Europe.
"The talk that you have just heard was given by Squadron-Leader C.C. Scherf, D.F.C. who comes from Glen Innes, New South Wales, and is an R.A.A.F. member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron here in Britain (said the announcer at the close of Sq. Leader Scherf’s address). Incidentally, F/L Scherf served for three years in the Australian army with the 12th Light Horse Regiment before he joined the R.A.A.F. and as I said in the opening announcement since recording this talk, F/L Scherf has in one night shot down two enemy aircraft and destroyed three others.
One-trip Scherf, a date in Sydney
London News Bureau
June 1944 - Bidding for the distinction of ace air intruder this week was 27-year-old Squadron Leader Charles Curnow Scherf, DFC and Bar, from Emmaville, NSW. In the Air Force messes, they call this tall, blue-eyed, ex-grazier "One Trip" Scherf. He is supposed to stay on the ground, but he always comes back for just "the one last crack" at the Germans. Scherf has shot down 14½ planes and destroyed nine on the ground or water. He is the only British-based fighter pilot to surpass the 1941-2 combat record of Squadron-Leader "Bluey" Truscott. He has destroyed more German planes in a single trip than any other intruder pilot and is challenging the lead of No. 1 Intruder, Wing-Commander Hoar, DSO, DFC and Bar.
Curiously, Australian-born and air-trained Charles Scherf is a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. He tells the story:
"There were a lot of Canadians in my operational unit. One of them said he always wanted to fly with an Aussie, so we teamed up and have been together ever since."
Before the war, Scherf worked on his father’s grazing property at "Big Ben" at Emmaville, near Glen Innes. He was a good footballer and crack rifle shot.
Living and waiting with her parents at Glen Innes are the airman’s young wife and children, Maureen, 4, and Rosemary who was born after his arrival in England.
Mrs. Scherf last week received an airgraph letter from her husband, whom she has not seen for 19 months:
"I’ll make a date with you for September 20, this year, at the corner of Pitt and George streets, Sydney (in Railway Square), at 10 am sharp. Be there or be sorry!"
Said Mrs. Scherf: "Even if I do not receive any further details from Charles, I intend to be at the rendezvous, with the children."
Said Scherf: "Every time I see a Jerry plane go up in smoke, I figure I’m that much nearer home." He got five stages nearer home on May 4 (16th –jf), when he shot down five planes in one day.
An Australian airman has set up the record for three awards in three months. He is Squadron-Leader Charles Curnow Scherf, aged 27 years. First he won the DFC; the following month he was awarded a bar to it, and the next month he was decorated with the DSO. In that time he has destroyed 23 enemy planes.
Squadron-Leader Scherf lead a Mosquito section of the RCAF. In two daylight raids into Germany recently, he shot down six German planes and destroyed three more on the ground.
His tours successfully completed, he was appointed Intruder Controller, but that had no zest for Scherf. So one day he took time off for "one last trip." He destroyed two enemy planes in the air and three on the ground; since then he has been known as "Last Trip" Scherf.
SCHERF, F/L Charles Curnow (AUS 413671) - Distinguished Service Order - No.418 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 27 June 1944. Air Ministry Bulletin 14429/AL.839 refers.
On two occasions in May 1944, this officer led a section of Mosquito aircraft on daylight sorties over well defended areas far into Germany. During these two flights a number of enemy aircraft were destroyed, of which Squadron Leader Scherf shot down six; he also destroyed three on the ground. His successes are a splendid tribute to his great skill, enterprise and fearlessness. This officer has set an example of the highest order.
Public Record Office Air 2/9157 has recommendation. His appointment was then Intruder Controller, Air Staff, Air Defence Great Britain and held the rank of Acting Squadron Leader:
Since being awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Squadron Leader Scherf, although on rest from operational duties, has on two occasions planned and led a section of two Mosquitos on daylight sorties involving very deep penetration into Germany in the face of strong enemy defences. During these two flights nineteen enemy aircraft were totally destroyed in the air, on the ground and on the water, in addition to five enemy aircraft being damaged. Squadron Leader Scherf’s personal bag of these two flights was as follows:
one Ju.86 destroyed
one Do.217 destroyed (ground)
three He.111 destroyed (ground)
two He.115 damaged (water)
one He.111 destroyed
one FW.190 destroyed
one He.177 destroyed
one HS.123 destroyed (one Bucker 131 destroyed)
one Ju.86p destroyed
one He.111 destroyed (ground)
one Do.18 damaged (water)
(six destroyed in the air, five destroyed on the ground, three damaged on the water)
This officer has shown great determination to attack the enemy at all times and by his enthusiasm and initiative has demonstrated the far reaching possibilities of long range air fighting. Apart from the not inconsiderable destruction of enemy aircraft, these two sorties, which were undertaken at the personal request of this officer, may well lead to major developments of this type of operation.
|Total number of operational sorties: 37
Total number of operational hours flown: 120
Total number of operational sorties since last award: 2
Total number of operational hours flown since last award: 11
He Hunted Huns in a Wooden Wonder
1) In May 1944, Charles Scherf, 27-year-old Mosquito day fighter ace, who since January 27, had destroyed 14 enemy aircraft in the air and won the DFC and bar for his intruder work, decided to retire as a "Holiday Hun-Hunter," a sobriquet he had earned because of his habit, while non-operational, of making unescorted "shooting up" exercises into enemy territory in his "Wooden Wonder." The following month he was awarded the DSO.
2) Peace time Glen Innes (NSW) grazier Light Horseman and prominent Rugby centre in North NSW League, Scherf rose to be flight commander and ace killer in a Canadian Mosquito squadron, in which he was the only Australian.
3) First to suggest day-light intruder missions, Scherf maintained that these trips far into enemy territory would prove far more productive than those at night. He made the first trip with a Canadian pilot, and later described his experience over the BBC. "I saw German Bicycles, farmers plowing, German staff cars and all sorts of ordinary things ..."
4) But the pilots saw other things besides those that were "ordinary." On the initial trip, Scherf and his companion, visiting Bordeaux at zero feet, discovered a number of German flying boats "squatting like ducks" on a lake, and beat them up. On this trip they traveled 1,000 miles, skimming telegraph poles.
An He111z, the type destroyed by Scherf & Cleveland
Actual gun camera footage from the He111z destruction
5) On an intruder mission over France in February, Scherf and a Canadian pilot from his squadron (F/L Howard Cleveland) encountered the strangest aircraft they had ever seen towing two gliders. It looked like two aircraft flying side by side joined together by one main plane and fitted with a fifth engine at the join.
6) Scherf tackled one of the gliders and blew it to pieces, and his companion destroyed the other. Then they dealt with the "monstrosity," which was later identified from their photographs as a Bi-Heinkel glider tug - two Heinkel 111s joined together.
7) In the first attack, Scherf set the two starboard engines on fire, and the Canadian lit up the middle with his cannon-fire. Then Scherf circled round and tackled the port side. The flying train crashed in flames, and each pilot was credited with half a "kill."
8) At the end of February, on a sortie deep into enemy territory, the "farmer ace" shot down three enemy aircraft and damaged three others on the ground. Over France, in April, he got two more in the air and three on the ground. These were mentioned in the citation to his second award, announced in May.
9) After his tour of combat duty was over, Scherf was given an important ground post. But, on his days off, he would collect an observer and an aircraft and go off on a 1,000 mile unescorted trip into Germany, shooting down planes, shooting up aerodromes, and leaving victims crashed or burning in his wake.
10) On May 9 (16th -jf), Scherf had a field day on one of his "holiday shooting" trips. Between Stettin and the Baltic, he shot down five aircraft, including a Heinkel 111 and a Heinkel 177, within 15 minutes. Four went down in five minutes. Later in the month, however, he announced that his days of "excursioning" were over.
An He111z towing two gliders
Another frame from the same footage
TEAM WORK IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MOSQUITOES' GREAT FEATS
Forgotten Man of Air Forces, the Navigator, Comes Into His Own Again
With the R.C.A.F. in England, Aug. 4, 1944 - (CP) - Forgotten men of the night intruder squadrons are the "half-wing flyers," the navigators who play such a part in making possible the exploits of the full-wing men, the pilots.
Up in Front
It is the pilot you hear of when the Mosquitoes come streaking home from their night sorties far into German territory but without the navigator the pilot could go nowhere and it might be taken as symbolic that in the modern night fighter, the man who used to be in the back seat - the navigator - has moved up front with the pilot.
It puts the navigator in his proper place, not as he used to be in the old night-fighting Beaufighter, back of the pilot. Today they sit side by side in the same cockpit, boys like F/O P. Huletsky, of Montreal, who won a D.F.C. for his navigating of S/L Bob Kipp, D.S.O., D.F.C., of Kamloops, B.C., in the City of Edmonton Intruder Squadron.
Together these two have ranged the length and breadth of Germany under cover of darkness. Together on May 3, they set up a record, destroying four FW-190s in one sortie where navigation was all important.
Huletsky plotted them away from England about 10 o'clock in the gathering dusk. He took them across enemy territory at tree-top height on the way to Munich, and near Lake Ammer, 20 miles southwest of Munich, they got their first victim Then they went on to Grenzburg, got two over an airfield, and then on to another airfield for their fourth kill.
Or take F/O W. Stewart, of Toronto, who navigated for S/L Charlie Scherf, an Australian with the City of Edmonton Squadron, with at least 9½ (14.5 -jf) enemy planes downed. Stewart plotted the course for Scherf on the same night all the way to the Baltic. They got flying boats at Ribnitz. Then they went to Barth and then on to another airfield at Griefswold. It takes navigating to find those places.
Every successful intruder operation depends on the skill of the navigators whose job demands an inexhaustible patience as well as vigilance and skill. Then, when the enemy does appear in the gun sights, it is the pilot who deals the death blow while the navigator sits back and watches the final triumph go to the man at his side.
The fault probably is with the system of reporting "kills," crediting them directly to the pilots, because the pilots themselves appreciate the navigator.
Usually it takes an older man than the pilot to accept the navigator's position, a man like Sgt. Edward McKenna who navigates for F/L S. H. R. Cotterill, of Toronto. They went out one night after the invasion started and shot down four enemy aircraft.
"How old do you think I am?" McKenna asked when he had landed. He looked about 25. But it turned out he was 32, enough older than his pilot that he could accept the position of equal share in the job without, in the public mind, getting quite his share of the glory.
Flier Scherf was a week ahead
Sept. 1944 - In a letter which reached Australia from England on June 16 this year, Squadron-Leader Scherf, DFC and bar, ace fighter pilot with 14½ enemy planes to his credit, made an unusual rendezvous with his wife living at Emmaville, NSW.
Wrote Scherf: "I’ll make a date with you for September 20, this year, at the Railway corner of Pitt and George streets, Sydney, at 10 am sharp. Be there or be sorry!"
FACT published the story, and this week received inquiries as to whether the appointment was kept.
Actually, Scherf was just a week out in his calculations. He met his wife on the station at Glen Innes at 10am Wednesday, September 13. Said Mrs. Scherf: "Charles is looking thinner but pretty fit, is rapidly making friends with our baby daughter Rosemary, whom he had never seen."
From the Bulletin
Now in Australia testing "Mossies" as a change from flying them on operation jobs over Europe, Squadron-Leader Charles Scherf, here pictured by fellow airman Lusby, certainly got into it in lively style over there. All in the space of three months he destroyed 14½ enemy aircraft in the air and 9 on the ground and collected the D.F.C., a bar to it and then the D.S.O. Scherf’s idea of a break from operations when put on to one was to get into a plane in England and fly over Europe and destroy five enemy craft on an entirely unauthorized official visit. Whether to court-martial or decorate him was in the balance. When he returned, and by a nice compromise he got, on the one hand, an issue of strife, and, on the other, his D.S.O.
EMMAVILLE PAYS TRIBUTE
To Squadron-Leader C. Scherf D.S.O, D.F.C. & Bar
Proud of His Fame
On Monday evening about 50 representative citizens gathered in the Odd fellows Hall to welcome Squadron Leader C. Scherf, D.S.O., D.F.C., and Bar. The function took the form of a smoke social.
The organizers had left nothing to chance, for on arrival the tables were found to be laden with refreshments of’ all kinds. Mr. R. R. Curnow, who was voted to the chair, gave the toast of "The King."
Mr. L. G. Leece, in giving the toast of the evening, said they had assembled to do homage and say thanks to a brave fearless flying officer, who had achieved outstanding success and distinction by his untiring devotion to duty and his brave and courageous actions. "We, your friends are proud to acknowledge the debt of gratitude We owe to all branches of the flying services," said Mr. Leece, "but we are especially proud to know that one of our own men, born and reared in this small community, should have achieved such distinction that his name and fame are universally known. We have followed your career with increasing interest and pride. Each one of your recounted exploits over Germany, while giving us added thrills and satisfaction made us realize more fully that we also had a personal interest in the struggle to see the enemy defeated and to hold together the British Commonwealth of Nations and see justice done. Your outstanding achievement of five planes brought down in 15 minutes over the Baltic coast and your total of 23½ planes to date is a feat worthy of the distinction bestowed upon you."
"We ask you," said Mr. Leece, "to accept these words in deep appreciation of services rendered to your country, and as a token of the high regard, esteem and thanks we offer. We trust that when your job is done and you return to civil life, the same measure of success and distinction will follow, and may you and your family be long spared to enjoy the fruits of the victory you so gallantly contributed to."
Messrs. N. Body, H. Simpkins, A. J. Potter and J. Laws supported the toast.
The chairman then asked Mr. J. Toone to read the draft of the address to be presented to S/L Scherf. The address reads: "To Squadron Leader Charles Curnow Scherf, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar: We the citizens of Emmaville have gathered to greet you and to pay a tribute to you and your great deeds in the air war. Firstly, we must congratulate you on your safe return to Australia after the hazards of desperate and dashing flights across the Continent of Europe in combat with the enemy. Your lightning raids in daylight at high speed and low attitude created a new method or attack and set a new standard of performance whose keenness and effect ‘were felt and respected by the foe, appreciated by your superior officers, and admired everywhere by the men of the great forces attacking Germany. The tribute of an exceptional pilot, with outstanding fighting qualities’ from the officer commanding the 18th Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, is true indeed. It had been won in the stern testing ground of aerial combat. We feel that you have brought not only honour and distinction to yourself but also to your family your school, your town, to the Air Force and to your country. Your fame has indeed become world-wide. It is a privilege to salute you who have so worthily upheld the motto "Per Ardua Ad Astra.” Your bearing dash and courage have won our admiration, but the fact that you have kept your modesty, humour and good fellowship has deepened and widened our affectionate regard. We know that you will continue to serve your country in the same brilliant manner as you have hitherto. May God speed the peace so that you may return for good to your wife and family, and to a less exciting, but useful occupation. We wish you good fortune, prosperity and happiness in the years to come, for you have surely earned them."
Squadron Leader Scherf replying, said that while away, he had had the opportunity of meeting statesmen and people of high rank, the greatest of all privileges was to be back with his old friends. Squadron Leader Scherf gave a most interesting account of some of his flying activities over enemy country.
The next toast was that of "The Guest’s Father," Cr. C. H. Scherf. This was in the hands of Rev. McLeod, and he was supported by Messrs. E. Say, S. H. Rogers, S. O’Donnell and J. T. Ryall. This was followed by ... (sorry, the rest of the text is missing)
Victories Include :
|28 Nov 1943
27 Jan 1944
18/19 Feb 1944
21 Feb 1944
24/25 Feb 1944
26 Feb 1944
5 April 1944
2 May 1944
16 May 1944
one u/i s/e e/a
destroyed OTG &
destroyed OTG &
destroyed OTG &
(shared w/ H. Cleveland
14.5 / 0 / 0 plus 9 / 0 / 4 On The Ground or Water
13.5 / 0 / 0 plus 10/ 0 / 4 On The Ground or Water
(depending on how you want to view the one that was forced down and then destroyed OTG)
| Or Po630 or Me110
 Forced to land then destroyed on the ground
Score from Aces High 2nd Ed. by Shores & Williams
Scherf's regular R/O was Al Brown but as you can see, he had luck with Roger Gurnett, Colin Finlayson & Red Stewart as well
Mosquito Pilots Honored - Additional Awards
MELBOURNE, Friday, 15 Feb. 1946 - Two of Australia's best-known Mosquito pilots have received immediate awards of additional decorations.
Flight-Lieutenant Charles Curnow Scherf, of Glen Innes (NSW), has received a DSO and Wing-Commander Keith Macdermott Hampshire, DSO, of Perth (WA), has been awarded the DFC.
F/L Scherf was a flight commander in a Canadian intruder squadron, the Minister for Air, Mr. Drakeford, said today. Since being awarded the DFC, he has taken part in numerous sorties and continued to display the highest qualities of skill and gallantry.
Late in February, he led a pair deep into enemy territory. During this operation, three enemy aircraft were shot down and three others damaged on the ground. In another sortie over northern France last month, he destroyed two enemy aircraft in the air and damaged three others on the ground.
Mr. Drakeford added that F/L Scherf had destroyed at least nine enemy aircraft.
S/L C. C. Scherf, receiver of the D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, came from Glen Innes for the investiture and was accompanied by his wife. "We left Maureen, aged 6, Rosemary 2, and Mallory 8 months, at home," S/L Scherf said.
S/L Scherf 's portrait shows him with his DSO, DFC & Bar
Photo of Scherf's wreckage in Emmaville. The result of a fatal crash on 13 July 1949. It is believed Scherf had been drinking. He had been struggling with survivor's guilt, nightmares and other effects of the war. (photo Ted Macklin-Shaw) |
This photo was sent in by John Symons along with this bit of info: Here's a picture of Charlie's grave. It has a plane on the top of the slab below the headstone, looks like a shadow when you see it for real, cool stuff, but it's not in this picture, RAAF held a flyover at the funeral.
He died in a car crash going about 90 miles per hour not far from where I live. He failed to negotiate a corner and landed up in the bush. The vehicle severed an iron bark tree that was a bit over two feet at the butt. Charlie had a plane that he used to fly at Emmaville. My dad tells me that when he was a kid, he would often hear the plane coming and his brothers and sisters would cry "Here comes Charlie!!!" then run and hide under the house for fear that he would crash while flying so low as to fly under the telegraph lines in their front paddock.
Thanks go out to
article was originally contributed by Tony Strasser on behalf of the
Scherf family. I've slowly been adding stuff to it
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