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Battle of Britain

-Canada Contributes-
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Canada along with other ex-colony countries help out in the Battle of Britain

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Going over plans

Many Canadians served in the squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes which repelled the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940. Although the RAF only recognises 83 Canadian pilots as flying on fighter operations during the Battle of Britain, the RCAF stats that over 100 Canadians were in the were and that of those, 23 died and 30 were killed later in the war. Another 200 Canadian pilots fought with the RAF's Bomber and Coastal Commands during the period, and a large number of Canadians served as groundcrew.

Of these, 26 were in the RCAF's No. 1 Squadron, equipped with Hurricanes, which arrived in Britain soon after Dunkirk. This squadron would later be re-numbered as the RCAF's 401 "City of Westmount" Squadron, in line with the RAF's policy of numbering Dominion units flying alongside the RAF in the 400-series to avoid confusion with similarly-numbered RAF units (this numbering system is still used by Canadian air squadrons to honour their World War II contributions).

No. 1 Squadron made an unlucky start to its service with Fighter Command, when on August 24th 1940 two of its Hurricanes mistook a flight of Bristol Blenheims for Ju-88's, shooting one down with the loss of its crew- a tragic example of what is now known as friendly fire. No. 1 became the first RCAF unit to engage enemy planes in battle when it met a formation of German bombers over southern England on August 26, 1940, claiming three kills and four damaged with the loss of one pilot and one plane. By mid-October the squadron had claimed 31 enemy aircraft and 43 probables or damaged for the loss of 16 aircraft and three pilots.

On the second day of the battle, July 11th, the Canadians had their first fighter casualty. In a Luftwaffe attack on the naval base at Portland, PO. D. A. Hewitt of Saint John, New Brunswick was flying a 501 Squadron Hurricane and he attacked a Dornier bomber but washit himself. His plane plunged into the sea. Another Canadian pilot, Richard Howley, died eight days later; A. W. Smith and Hugh Tamblyn, had narrow escapes. Both were in 141 Squadron and flew the Defiant, a two-seater hunchback with an impressive power-operated gun turret that limited its aerodynamics.

6 Canadians flew with the RAF's No 242 (Canadian) Squadron RAF, which had been formed in 1939 from some of the many Canadians who flew as members of the Royal Air Force. On August 30, under the command of Squadron Leader Douglas Bader nine 242 squadron planes met a hundred enemy aircraft over Essex. Attacking from above, the squadron claimed 12 victories for no loss.

Other Canadians were spread across RAF squadrons. Leading to some confusion, the dispersed Canadian airmen included one who flew with the Poles in 303 Squadron.

Canadians also shared in repelling the Luftwaffe's last major daylight attack. On September 27, 303 Squadron RAF and 1 Squadron RCAF attacked the first wave of enemy bombers. Seven enemy planes were claimed destroyed, one probably destroyed and seven damaged.

The top Canadian scorer was F/L H.C.Upton of 43 Squadron , who claimed 10.25 aircraft shot down.

Maggie Smith (June 2006)
History Summative