of the 57th Bomb Wing
340th Second Anniversary
F. Koplitz, Pilot, RCAF, RAF and AAF
Fray Livesey, Fighter Pilot
R. Franklin, USN.
of the 340th. Bombardment Group
Art From the 57th. Bomb Wing
Guns in the Brenner Pass
13 1944, Alensa Airfield, Corsica
Benjamin Marino, M.D.
Pictures from Dr. Marino
S/Sgt. Jack Washleski, Tail Gunner
S/Sgt. Brendon J. Murphy, ROM Gunner
The "City of
Windsor" Combat Support Squadron
Top Row: M. Bakkan, G. Leguerrier, D. Hartney (411
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
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
- 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.
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.
- 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.
P/O Johnny Koplitz
417 Squadron Pilot Bob Hazel
Rushton, Cpl. John
DEAN, Air Frame Mechanic
Left to right:
Flight LieutenantTom Percival, "Stocky" Edwards and P/O John Riley
weekend pass in Tel Aviv. P/O John Riley 2nd. from right.
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
[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.
- '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.