Friday, November 27, 2015

Hawker Hurricanes and Typhoons in World War II

Last week we went to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) with our grandson Luca [see The Latest Excursion]. Here I am with Luca standing beside a Hawker Hurricane from World War II.

My father, F/L Laurence Victor "Vic" Kirsch,1 was a fighter pilot in World War II and he flew Hurricanes and, later, rocket-firing Hawker Typhoons with the RAF 164 Squadron known as the Argentine British Squadron because of the volunteers from Argentina. (My father was seconded from the RCAF (Canada)).

Here's a picture of him (below) in the cockpit of one of his planes.


I have his log books. The first page (right) shows him flying Hurricanes ("Hurry") in sorties over France in December 1943. This was just when the squadron was preparing to switch to Typhoons and become specialists in ground support in preparation for D-Day.

The next entries (below) are facing pages from June, 1944. Note the entry for June 6, 1944. On the left is "DER TAG" in red and on the right is "LONG AWAITED 2nd FRONT IS HERE." The entry for June 5th reads, "Deas and self flew to Cherbourg and reported the weather. Flew over the invasion fleet, impressive sight. Hundreds of naval craft and A/C cover. Wouldn't have missed this sight for the world. Dark when we landed and silly old Deas practised landing on his belly."

The entry for June 6th (D-Day) reads, "Followed SQDN across channel. Saw hundreds of ships. Jumped by 90's."

On June 14th (one week after D-Day) the squadron lands at their new base in Crépon, France.





1. He died in a plane crash when I was four months old. My mother remarried and I was adopted by my stepfather, K.R. Moran.

11 comments :

  1. Larry, one of your best posts. It puts all of our other petty squabbling into perspective.

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  2. Larry:

    Your father sounds like a remarkable and courageous man. I honor his memory. I'm sorry for your loss.

    Mike

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  3. I think I can make out Port en Bessin on your map. Your Dad may have looked down and seen my Dad dodging through the maze to land high octane gasoline for the aircraft on that beech. His oil tankers were torpedoed from time to time, but the Port en Bessin landings were OK and he survived to tell the tale.

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  4. that is super cool; I've always like Hawker and was interested in their planes. I had a model of the Hawker Hunter, jet from the 50's. I got my interest in WWII planes from my Dad he worked on the B24 Liberator as a tool designer. I also knew a Guy who flew P51 Mustang in the war.

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  5. In the Silly Coincidences Department: that logbook includes my parents' first wedding anniversary (6 Jan, 1944). Dad was in the REME, Mom in the Women's Land Army.

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  6. My father might have flown directly over your father at some point. He was a B17 navigator (8th Airforce, 490th Bomb Group (H). He arrived in England in October 1944 and finished his 25 missions by the end of the war.

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  7. Nice post; it must be fantastic to have such a window into your late father's service. Sadly my grandfather's property was destroyed by fire in the '50s and very little was salvaged from his own war service; fortunately we had him around to tell us stories until the 1990s.

    I've always liked Hurricanes - they're almost the unsung heroes of the Battle of Britain, what with their more glamorous cousin the Supermarine Spitfire getting all the love, but they were an absolutely brilliant design. Wooden framed, an outer skin of doped Irish linen (made for easy repairs), simple interior - they were powerful, highly agile and very tough to beat! Add to that the eight .303 machine guns in the wings and they were also very deadly. What's more, in 1940 the Hurricane was still the backbone of Fighter Command, outnumbering the still brand-new Spits by about 3 to 1.

    For his part, my grandfather was a mechanic on Spits, Kittyhawks, Beaufighters and others during WWII. Stationed in the far north of Australia he wouldn't have seen much intense action, but I'm sure he would've worked on his share of stricken aircraft during the RAAF's defense of Darwin, New Guinea and the broader region. A few years before his death, my father drove him and my nanna up north to visit friends. On the way they stopped at grampa's old base, now overgrown with bush, and dad said he was like a kid in a lolly shop, gleefully picking up rusted old bits of aircraft and identifying them like he'd only demobbed the day before. Dad still recounts that day with much fondness.

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  8. Hope you like it:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byqo805XH0LuamNrMnBlLUpqTFU/view?usp=sharing

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  9. Hi Laurence. Great post.
    I would be very interested in seeing more pages from your fathers logbook. Especially pages with Hurricane flights as I research Hurricane and Spitfire pilots and units. I can be contacted on john.engelsted@highflight.dk

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