Aviator Mouse Notes – Adventures with 453 Squadron

Aviator Mouse Notes – Adventures with 453 Squadron
March 19, 2017 Genevieve Hopkins

William Brambleberry befriended the pilots and ground crew of 453 Squadron while they were posted to RAF Perranporth from April to October 1943. His passion and determination to be the greatest aviator mouse there ever was, earned him the admiration of the whole Squadron and they built William his very own miniature Spitfire.

William was with the Squadron during some important events:

  • F/Lt D.G. Andrews was awarded a DFC on 10 September for ‘numerous successful attacks on enemy shipping,’ he was then promoted to Acting Squadron Leader and Commanding Officer of 453 Squadron, replacing SQNLDR K.M. Barclay on the 28th of September
  • During late 1943, Sunderland Flying Boats on anti-submarine patrols were constantly being attacked by land based “packs” of German twin-engine fighters operating from bases in southern France. 453 Squadron, then flying Spitfire Mk VBs from Perranporth, Cornwall, were ordered to fly offensive patrols over the Bay of Biscay to intercept and destroy these “packs.”  From (Bad Day Off Bishop’s Rock – Ross Currie – Spitfire Association)
  • On 8 October, 7 Pilots of 453 Squadron, led by SQNLDR D.G. Andrews, engaged a Messerschmitt BF 110 formation west of Brest. Three of the pilots shot down five of their adversaries – two were destroyed by Flying Officer P. McDade in “FU-L” (EP-242), two by Pilot Officer Leith in “FU-C” (BM-243) and the other by Flight Lieutenant Ewins flying “FU-X” (EP-364). Unbeknown to the Australians, they were fighting against 11/ZG-1 led by its Kommander, the 24 years old Hauptmann Karl Heinrich Mattern, an ace with 12 victories to his credit and a holder of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross. No mean pilot, Mattern, at the controls of Messerschmitt BF-110 62-W/NR 120010, coded “S9+SP” he and the others all failed to return from this operation. From (Bad Day Off Bishop’s Rock – Ross Currie – Spitfire Association). FLGOFF H.M. Parker was lost and listed as Killed in Action during this mission.
  • The Squadron moved to RAF Skeabrae in the Orkney Islands on 15 October with not much action until 2 December, when FLTLT E.A.R. Esau and FLGOFF L. McAuliffe shared a kill of Ju88.
  • On 19 January 1944, the Squadron moved to RAF Detling in Kent under the second Tactical Airforce (2 TAF) in preparation for D-Day.
  • From January to April 1944, 453 Squadron moved between RAF Hutton Cranswick, Yorkshire; RAF Detling, Kent; RAF Peterhead, Aberdeenshire; RAF Detling; RAF Ford, Sussex.
  • On 18 March, FLTSGT Brian Gorman was killed while practising dogfighting with another spitfire over Duffington.
  • On 14 April, PLTOFF R.E. Yarra shot down and killed by flak while attacking V-1 sites near Abbeville in France.
  • SQNLDR D.H. Smith replaced SQNLDR D.G. Andrews as commanding officer of 453 Squandron
  • On 21 May, FLTLT John Olsson was shot down by flak over France and escaped injury but was captured by the Germans.

In the first weeks of June 1944, 453 Squadron’s pace of operations became frenzied as they provided air support on D-Day and throughout Operation Overlord. Stay tuned for the next post on 453 Squadron’s preparations for D-Day.

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