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History of the 57th Bomb Wing

The 340th Second Anniversary

John F. Koplitz, Pilot, RCAF, RAF and AAF


William Fray Livesey, Fighter Pilot

Charles R. Franklin, USN.

History of the 340th. Bombardment Group

Nose Art From the 57th. Bomb Wing

Flak Guns in the Brenner Pass

The Air World

May 13 1944, Alensa Airfield, Corsica

Captain Benjamin Marino, M.D.

More Pictures from Dr. Marino

S/Sgt. Jack Washleski, Tail Gunner

S/Sgt. Brendon J. Murphy, ROM Gunner


RCAF 417

The "City of Windsor" Combat Support Squadron

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Top Row: M. Bakkan, G. Leguerrier, D. Hartney (411 sqdn.)

Middle Row: T. Percival, T. Williams, E. Mitchell, D. Bruce, K. Pate, R. Brooks, A. Pourbaiv, H. Conn, H. Sutton, D Millar, G. Cushing (411 sqdn), J. Maurice, K. Clarke, L. Grant

Bottom Row: F/LT Foster, Air Vice Marshall Walker, S/LD Malfroy, G/C Harvey, F/LT Penlanb, S/LD Wooten

Service Record:

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The RCAF's 16th - seventh Fighter - Squadron formed overseas, The unit was ordered to the Middle East in the spring of '42. Equipped with Hurricane and later Spitfire aircraft, it spent five months in the defence of the Suez Canal and the Nile Delta. In April 1943 it became the only Canadian Squadron in the Desert Air Force and was to provide air defence and close support to the British Eighth Army through the closing stages of the Tunisian campaign, and throughout the Sicilian and Italian campaigns. The squadron was disbanded at Treviso, Italy on 30 June 1945.

  • Formed at Charmy Down, England, Nov 1941, as part of Fighter Command flying Spit MkIIs and then Spit MkVs
  • Transferred to Port Tewfik, Gulf of Suez, June 1942 as part of Desert Air Force. No aircraft until September when they got Hurricane IICs then Spit VBs and Spit VCs in October.
  • Transfered to Triploi Libya, in February 1943 with 244 Wing.
  • Transfered to Ben Gardane, Tunisia, in March, 1943. Then to Mellaha and Goulvine.
  • Transferred to Malta for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, in mid 1943.
  • Moved to Cassabile, south of Syracuse, Sicily in July, 1943. Then to Lentini West and Gerbini. Re-equipped with Spit MkVIIIs
  • Moved to Canne, Italy, November 1943. Air cover for Ortona.
  • Detached from Desert Air Force January 1944 and moved to Naples under US XIII Air Support Command to cover the bridgehead at Anzio. Picked up some Spit IXs.
  • Transferred to Venafro in April 1944 ( near Monte Cassino)
  • Trained to use 500lb bombs from Spit VIIIs in June 1944 and begin ops as fighter-bombers. This shift to ground attack contributed to a six-fold increase in the monthly casualty rate.
  • Moved to Littorio, Fabrica and Perugia (north of Rome) in July-August of 1944.
  • Moved to Loreto, south of Ancona, end-August 1944.

A map (80k) of 417's movements and bases in the Med.

Battle Honours:
Defence of Britain 1942. Egypt and Libya 1942-1943. North Africa 1943. Sicily 1943. Italy 1943-1945: Salerno, Anzio and Nettuno, Gustav Line, Gothic Line.


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  • Unit code for RCAF 417 Squadron from 1940-1946 was AN.
  • England -
    • Spitfire MkIIA and IIB (Nov 41 -Feb 42)
    • Spitfire MkVB (Feb - Mar 42)
  • Middle East -
    • Hurricane MkIIB (Sep - Oct 42)
    • Hurricane MkIIC (Sep 42- Jan 43)
    • Spitfire MkVB and VC (Oct 42 - Sep 43)
    • Spitfire MkVIII (Aug 43 -Apr 45)
    • Spitfire MkIXB (Apr - Jun 45)


  • P/O John F. Koplitz, Joined the RCAF in 1940, Also flew with the AAF.
  • Bert Houle
    Squadron Leader Albert U. Houle, DFC and bar. Spent much of his operational career in the Middle East, Malta, Sicily, and Italy ending on Spitfires as CO of 417 RCAF squadron. Remained in the RCAF until retirement with the rank of Group Captain. 7 kills while on 417
  • JF Edwards DFM, DFC and bar
    15 kills. He is listed in C Shores 'Air Aces' as one of the top scoring Commonwealth pilots in the Mediterranean area, 1940-1945. He spent time on RAF squadrons 94, 260 and 92 as well as some time with 417.


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P/O Johnny Koplitz

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417 Squadron Pilot Bob Hazel

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Rushton, Cpl. John DEAN, Air Frame Mechanic

417 Group Photo

Left to right: Flight LieutenantTom Percival, "Stocky" Edwards and P/O John Riley

Pilots on weekend pass in Tel Aviv. P/O John Riley 2nd. from right.

417 Pilots relaxing in the desert.

417 lined up in the desert.

P/O John F. Koplitz - Note the uniform, RAF and AAF

RCAF Pilot's Wings

417 Squadron Badge

417 Lament:

[Written upon 417 Squadron disbandment in 1945, sung to the tune of "Lily Marlene"]

We are a few Canadians, here in Italy, Working with the RAF boys, to win victory; Going around with a vacant stare, We have no clues, but do we care? We're the riff-raff of the Air Force, And we're going home you see.   The poor old Royal Air Force are getting slightly cheesed, Because we look so scruffy, and never try to please; Buttons never polished, minus caps, We don't say "Sir" to those dear chaps. We're the riff-raff of the Air Force. But you ain't seen nothing yet. We haven't much equipment, very little kit, I guess you think we flogged it, that's not the 'arf of it; We lost it all in battle, long ago- From Sicily, across the Po. We're the Screwballs of the Air Force. But you ain't seen nothing yet. What a scruffy outfit don't you all agree? Just how we beat Jerry, it's very hard to see. We even like,to have our tea, at ten o'clock, and half past three. They call us NAAFI cowboys, We're nuts it's plain to see. And when we left Treviso to start our journey home, They piled us all on cattle cars, what a way to roam, That's what we get when we volunteer To leave our homes for over here, We wish that we were Zombies, And back in Canada   We always are in trouble with the RAF, Because we don't like discipline; we don't go for that stuff. So we go on our merry way, And drive them nuts, from day to day. We're the Screwballs of the Air Force, And we're attached to DAF.Thanks, you lucky people who are gathered here, We'll act on your suggestion, and let you buy the beer. Now that you have seen all of us, You may not like our ugly puss, Yet you must all agree, folks, That we're ridiculous. --- Supporting Liberty and Justice

A special Thank You to P/O John Riley for the 417 Squadron images.

To submit a 417 photo click here, Please include description.

Suggested reading:

  • 'The Crucible of War', RCAF official history
  • 'RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft', S Kostenuk and J Griffin, National Museums of Canada
  • 'Air Aces', Christopher Shores
  • 'Fighter Aces', Christopher Shores
  • 'All the Fine Young Eagles', David Bashow
  • The RCAF Over Seas, The First Four Years.