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A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

Article about: I knew this man very well as he was my first boss and a long time family friend. On June 2nd 2001 he gave me the Luger rig shown below. Mauser code S/42, 1937 dated, Luger, Sn. 3271x, with t

  1. #1
    drm2m
    ?

    Default A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    I knew this man very well as he was my first boss and a long time family friend.

    On June 2nd 2001 he gave me the Luger rig shown below.

    Mauser code S/42, 1937 dated, Luger, Sn. 3271x, with two matching magazines in a 1937 dated R. Ehrhardt marked holster (WaA186) which he picked up on May 11th 1945 in Dunkirk.





    -------------------------------------------------


    No. 665 "Air Observation Post" Squadron, RCAF was formed in England during the Second World War. It was manned principally by Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) personnel, with select British artillery pilots briefly seconded to assist in squadron formation.

    The squadron was formed on January 22, 1945, at RAF Andover, its principal role being to direct artillery fire from the air. The pilots were officers recruited from the Royal Canadian Artillery and trained to fly at 22 E.F.T.S. Cambridge, further developing advanced flying skills at 43 Operational Training Unit RAF (43 OTU), RAF Andover.






    From what his daughter said it was puzzling for different branches of the Canadian service to see an Artillery officer with wings on his uniform,....this Canadian AOP group was formed very late in the war and it was relatively unknown by others.





    Apparently Capt. Beverly (Bev) Dane Baily was good at trigonometry and supposedly once said - “Either they teach the flyers trig or they teach the gunners how to fly.”

    Baily learned to fly and was chosen for No. 665 (AOP) Air Observation Post Squadron, RCAF.

    Capt. Bev Baily at the Curtis Reid Flying School in St-Hubert Quebec 1941.
    (St-Hubert is a suburb of Montreal.)









    NOTE:

    ALG Wormhout was the home base of 'B' Flight, 665 (AOP) Squadron RCAF, which operated from April to June, 1945 during Second World War. The base was located twelve miles southeast of Dunkirk, France.

    For more than six weeks, the five Auster Mark V aircraft of 'B' Flight operated from ALG Wormhout. Initially, the aircraft were tasked with directing Czech Army artillery gunfire onto targets in the Dunkirk area.





    The aircraft in the photo above is a Taylorcraft Auster Mark V.
    Auster series aircraft gave invaluable service in North Africa and later in the war in southern and northern Europe. At their peak, Austers equipped 19 squadrons, often using their remarkable short-field performance to operate very close to the front line.

    Specifications (Auster V)

    General characteristics
    •Crew: Pilot plus observer sitting side by side and one crew (if needed) in the space behind the two front seats.
    •Length: 22 ft 5 in (6.83 m)
    •Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
    •Height: 8 ft 0 in (2.44 m)
    •Wing area: 167 ft˛ (15.51 m˛)
    •Empty weight: 1,100 lb (499 kg)
    •Max takeoff weight: 1,850 lb (839 kg)
    •Powerplant: 1× Lycoming O-290-3 flat-four piston, 130 hp (97 kw)

    Performance
    •Maximum speed: 130 mph (209 km/h)
    •Range: 250 miles (402 km)


    Wing Numbers of the air craft flown by No. 665 Squadron, RCAF.

    TJ 342 Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. V Served with No. 665 Squadron, RCAF, on the continent, 1945/46. Flew this unit's first operational mission, an artillery shoot on Duiveland Island, Holland on 27 April 1945.
    TJ 346 Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. V Served with No. 665 Squadron, RCAF, on the continent, 1945/46.
    TJ 366 Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. V Served with No. 665 Squadron, RCAF, on the continent, 1945/46.
    TJ 399 Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. V Served with No. 665 Squadron, RCAF, on the continent, 1945/46. Flew this unit's last war time mission, a reconnaissance in Holland on 7 May 1945.
    TJ 402 Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. V Served with No. 665 Squadron, RCAF, on the continent, 1945/46.
    TJ 418 Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. V Served with No. 664 Squadron, RCAF, on the continent, 1945/46.
    TJ 484 Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. V Served with No. 665 Squadron, RCAF, on the continent, 1945/46.

    ---------------------------------------------



    THE BATTLE OF DUNKIRK 1945 (Extracts from the vet’s diary with some comments from his daughter.)

    May 7—"What a day, what a day! Starting at 0700 hrs. we were shooting all day and really giving Dunkirk a going over. However, I was up doing a shoot at about 1630 when it was suddenly cancelled."

    (This was the day that Ray Irwin and Dad were both in the air when they were called back. Although someone—Ray Irwin or Ray Knight—have put it about that time they "fired" the last shot, Dad says that it is not clear who did, and that he might just as easily have been the one who ordered the last shot.)

    NOTE;
    Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day or VE Day) was May 7 and May 8, 1945, the dates when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

    May 10—"Ray and I flew all over Dunkirk looking at the targets we had taken on.… When we came down we hopped in his jeep and dashed off to one of the places where they were disarming the Gerries and I managed to pick up two first-class Lugers and one old P38."

    June 20—Dad crossed the Channel by ship from France to England.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Capt. Bev Baily RCAF B. Flight Oatlands Hill Airfield ,Wiltshire County, England, April 1945. (Photo D.Knight)






    Captain Ray Irwin B. Flight with Taylor Auster Mk V aircraft (Courtesy R. Irwin) (D. Knight)





    Captain Ray Irwin RCA B.Flight Frankfurt, Germany June 1945 in the cockpit of Auster TJ418 (Photo D.Knight)






    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Some more background. (Re Dunkirk)

    The city was again contested in 1944, and the Second Canadian Division attempted to liberate the city (Dunkirk) in September, as Allied forces surged northeast after their victory in the Battle of Normandy. German forces refused to relinquish their control of the city, which had been converted into a fortress, and the garrison there was "masked" by Allied troops, notably 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade. The fortress under command of German Admiral Friedrich Frisius eventually unconditionally surrendered to the commander of the Czechoslovak forces, Brigade General Alois Liška, on May 9, 1945

    During the German occupation, Dunkirk was largely destroyed by allied bombings; the artillery siege of Dunkirk was directed on the final day of the war by pilots from No. 652 Squadron RAF, and No. 665 Squadron RCAF.

    ---------------------------------------------


    Baily also served at the Third Battle of Monte Casino in Italy.


    Baily’s daughter told me that his diary indicates that during the third or fourth Battle of Monte Casino, Baily was a Forward Observation Officer. (FOO)

    'Supposedly' there were no entries in his diary when this was happening as being captured with any pertinent information that may have been contained in a diary would not have been a good idea.

    Apparently there were some pretty nasty battlefield casualties to see on the ground, I suspect that this was his first exposure to this kind of "up close" environment.


    The 665 Air Observation Post Squadron (AOP) did not exist at the time of the battles of Monte Casino in 1944.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Excerpts from vet’s diaries as related by his daughter.

    THE BATTLE OF CASSINO 1944

    Thurs May 11 1944—"Der Tag" Dad calls it. Zero hour was 2300 hours when over 1100 guns in the theatre all broke out firing at once. He said "greater than El Alamein."

    May 12—He stayed on duty in the Command Post until 2330 hours. "Boy, was I dead! I did manage to wrap up my oil painting, and send it off to Mother and Dad, and also, to send a couple of copies of the Maple Leaf home with a short write-up in it."

    May 14—"Well, here I am writing this on May 25th. I have been away from the unit for 10 days as an F.O.O., and as there is always a fair chance of being taken prisoner at that job I left my diary back at the troop with Crockford. Alec MacLeod was supposed to go out but he was away doing a Court of Inquiry and as they required someone immediately so I had to roll up my bedroll and leave."


    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Definition:
    An artillery observer is a soldier responsible for directing artillery fire and close air support (ground attack by aircraft) onto enemy positions. Because artillery is an indirect-fire weapon system, the guns are rarely in line-of-sight of their target, often located tens of miles away. The observer serves as the eyes of the artillery battery, calling in target locations and adjustments to the Fire Direction Center (FDC) via radio or (less commonly) landline. The FDC then translates the observer's orders into firing solutions for the battery's cannons. Artillery observers are often deployed with combat arms manoeuvred units, typically infantry companies or armoured squadrons.

    Artillery observers are considered high-priority targets by enemy forces, as they control a great amount of firepower, are within visual range of the enemy, and are often located deep within enemy territory. The artillery observer must therefore be skilled not only in fire direction, but also in stealth and, if necessary, direct combat.

    In the British and Canadian armies, an artillery observer is known as a Forward Observation Officer (FOO, pronounced /fuː/

    -----------------------------------------

    The photo below is of an Air O P cap. This was given out to wives at a get-together of the Air O P. sometime after the war.




    A photo of Mr Baily and yours truly taken in 1974 at a company function.





    David

  2. #2

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    Very interesting thread. Thanks for posting it.
    My friend and neighbor served in the US 3rd army as a Army Liason pilot.
    Part of his duties was to act as a forward observer.
    gregM
    Live to ride -- Ride to live

    I was addicted to the "Hokey-Pokey" but I've turned
    myself around.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    very nice posting a pleasure to read well done on the rig it look swell

  4. #4

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    Another fantastic posting with great reference and historical information. Well done.
    [B][COLOR=Black][SIZE=3][FONT=Book Antiqua][I] Steve[/I][/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR][/B]

    [CENTER][I][FONT=Georgia][COLOR=orange]Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?[/COLOR][/FONT]
    [/I][/CENTER]
    [B]
    [SIZE=3][COLOR=lemonchiffon][I][CENTER][FONT=Georgia]"Fly on dear boy, from this dark world of strife. On to the promised land to eternal life"[/FONT][/CENTER]
    [/I][/COLOR][/SIZE][/B]

  5. #5
    drm2m
    ?

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    Thanks Chopperman, Ewan Stirling and Steven M for your positive comments regarding this thread.

    As an arms collector I have learned through my two experiences where WWII provenance is involved;

    Do your background research on the vet’s service history
    as soon as is reasonably practical while either the vet or
    the family members are still alive…..it is much more
    difficult later.

    I waited too many years to do this after I had purchased
    the Luger shown above and the M1911A1 Colt rig shown in the Ferry Command thread.

    I was very lucky with the families of these two vets’ in
    providing the history that was invaluable in putting
    these two stories together for which I am very grateful.

    Researching the background history on R.A.F. Ferry Command
    and No. 665 "Air Observation Post" (AOP) Squadron, RCAF, was
    a totally fascinating and rewarding experience.

    David

    P.S.

    I am also a U.S. Civil War collector….I wish I knew more about where these two C.W. revolvers came from....which I will never know.

    (Model 1860 Colt Army and Remington New Model 1858 Army revolvers.)

    This stuff is definately not aviation related.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    That Luger is fantastic,with those matching serial #'s on the mags!

  7. #7
    drm2m
    ?

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    packin9.

    How this vet managed to pick up a P.08 with two matching magazines at Dunkirk on May 11th 1945 is beyond me!

    Some years later I found a Mauser code S/42 1938 dated
    also with two matching magazines....
    I guess I have been very lucky in this respect....
    although this gun is without any provanance.

    David.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8
    OKW
    ?

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    Very well written up.
    I have read somewhere that a bomber from bomber command in daylight doing a 'Cooks tour' for ground crew and Waaf's was shot down either over Dunkirk or one of the other fortress ports by flak as late as 11th or 13th May. All were killed.
    Does anyone know of a history written by a German defender of Dunkirk or similar fortress, apparantly they gave the besiegers no end of trouble and were a cohesive military unit right up to surrender.

  9. #9

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    Quote by drm2m View Post
    packin9.

    How this vet managed to pick up a P.08 with two matching magazines at Dunkirk on May 11th 1945 is beyond me!

    Some years later I found a Mauser code S/42 1938 dated
    also with two matching magazines....
    I guess I have been very lucky in this respect....
    although this gun is without any provanance.

    David.
    Lucky indeed! Very good for you!!

  10. #10
    drm2m
    ?

    Default Re: A WWII souvenir---a vet’s story.

    packin9,

    These are the two Mauser code S/42 P.08s together....1937 and 1938 chamber dated.

    David
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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