Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Canadian Warplanes 3: The Second World War, Douglas Boston

Douglas Boston, RCAF

Data current to 21 March 2020.

 (DND Photo via James Craik)

Douglas Boston Mk. III, RCAF No. 418 Sqn, ca 1944.

The Douglas A-20 Havoc (company designation DB-7) is an American designed light bomber.  In British Commonwealth service as flown by RCAF aircrews its service name was Boston.  During the Second World War, 24 RAF squadrons operated the Boston, primarily in the Mediterranean and North African theatres.

No. 418 "City of Edmonton" Squadron, RCAF, was formed overseas at Debden, Essex, England on 15 Nov 1941.  It was the RCAF's only Intruder squadron and flew the Douglas Boston and de Havilland Mosquito on day and night-intruder operations deep into enemy territory.  No. 418 Squadron claimed 178 enemy aircraft and 79-1/2 V-1 flying bombs destroyed, making it the top-scoring unit of the RCAF.  The leading individual score was Squadron Leader Russell Bannock, with 11 aircraft and 18-1/2 V-1s.  He was also the squadron's CO from 10 Oct - 22 Nov 1944.

On 21 Nov, No. 418 Squadron was transferred to close support work with the Second Tactical Air Force in the Low Countries.  The squadron was disbanded at Volkel, in the Nehterlands on 7 Sep 1945. 

No. 418 Squadron Douglas Boston Mk. III, were flown from Nov 1941 to Jul 1943.  Some of the squadron's aircraft were (Serial No. W8263) coded P, (Serial No. W8268), coded TH-O, (Serial No. W8317), coded V, (Serial No. W8321), coded G, (Serial No. W8356) coded D, (Serial No. Z2165), coded TH-X, (Serial No. Z2192) coded Z, and (Serial No. Z2226) coded K.

 (IWM Photo, CH 1106)

Douglas Boston Mk. I (Serial No. AE458), at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, in the UK, during an inspection of new American aircraft for the RAF by the Duke of Kent.  AE458 was one of sixteen aircraft diverted to Britain from an ex-Belgian contract, and served as a crew trainer with No. 18 and No. 88 Squadrons, RAF.

 (Benoit Thibault Photo)

Douglas Boston, H for Humbolt, Saskatchewan, RCAF.

 (Benoit Thibault Photo)

Douglas Boston, H for Humbolt, Saskatchewan, RCAF.

 (Benoit Thibault Photo)

Douglas Boston, formation, RCAF.

 (DND Photo via James Craik)

Douglas Boston Mk. III formation, No. 418 Sqn, RCAF, ca 1944.

 (IWM Photo, CH 7213)

Douglas Boston Mk. III (Serial No. Z2165), coded TH-X, No. 418 Squadron, RCAF.  Z2165 was lost on the night of  30 Nov-1  Dec 1942 while carrying out a combined intruder and leaflet dropping sortie (code named Nickle) in the Thorout and Roulers area of Western Flanders in Belgium.  The three-man crew's remains were never found.  Their names are inscribed on the Runnymede War Memorial at Englefied Green, Egham, Surrey, England.  At the time of the loss, the squadron was based at Bradwell Bay, Essex and part of Royal Air Force Fighter Command.  It was lead by RAF Wing Commander A. E. Saunders. The squadron operated the Boston from Nov 1941 to Jul 1943 when it was replaced by the de Havilland Mosquito Mk. II.

Pilot – R87408 Flight Sergeant Merton Ralph Lockwood, Royal Canadian Air Force, age 21 years old from Pinkham, Saskatchewan.  Observer – 1126894 Sergeant Robert Valentine Ievers, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.  Wireless Operator /Air Gunner (WAG) - R69145 Sergeant John Joseph Graham Chabot, Royal Canadian Air Force, age 25 from Coniston, Ontario.

 (Library of Congress Photo, LC-USW361-203)

Douglas A-20C-BO Havoc (Serial No. 635), at Langley Field, Virginia, USA, July 1942.  This Havoc was license built under the Lend-Lease-Agreement for the Royal Air Force, although most of these aircraft were diverted to the USAAF.

 (Library of Congress Photo, LC-USW36-407)

Douglas A-20C-BO Havoc (Serial No. 635), at Langley Field, Virginia, USA, July 1942.  This Havoc was license built under the Lend-Lease-Agreement for the Royal Air Force, although most of these aircraft were diverted to the USAAF.

 (Library of Congress Photo, LC-USE6-D-008556)

Douglas A-20C-BO Havoc, painted as an RAF Boston, ca 1942.

 (Library of Congress Photo, LC-USE6- D-008569)

Douglas A-20C-BO Havoc, painted as an RAF Boston, ca 1942.

 (IWM Photo CH 9502)

Douglas Boston Mk. III (Intruder), (Serial No. W8317), coded TH-S, No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, parked at Ford, Sussex at nightfall.  Canvas covers are protecting the glazed nose and the front of the engine cowlings.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3378925)

Douglas Boston Mk. IIIs, No. 88 Squadron, RAF, on the flight line preparing for the Raid on Dieppe, 19 Aug 1942.

 (IWM Photo CH 7210)

Douglas Boston Mk. III (Intruder), No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, taxiing at Bradwell Bay, Essex, prior to a night intruder raid over France, Sep 1942.  No 418 Squadron, operated Boston Mk. IIIs on night intruder sorties from Bradwell Bay.  Its usual targets were Luftwaffe airfields, the French railway system and occasionally factory buildings.  The aircraft in the photograph carry ventral fuselage gun packs housing four 20-mm cannon.

 (IWM Photo CH 7211)

Douglas Boston Mk. III (Intruder), No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, illuminated by a Chance Light by the runway at Bradwell Bay, Essex, prepares to take off on a night intruder mission over North-west Europe, ca 1942.  418 Squadron, led by Russ Bannock and Johny Caine (Edmonton), achieved more RCAF air to ground and air to air kills, than all other Canadian squadrons.  The squadron was later equipped with Mosquitoes.  The squadrons score included 173 aircraft destroyed of which 73 were on the ground, 9 probables, 103 damaged, 76 V-1's destroyed over water, and 7 V-1's destroyed over England.  418 Squadron dropped 56 tons of bombs, destroyed 17 locomotives and damaged 59 locomotives, with 52 freight and passenger cars destroyed or derailed and 300 motor vehicles destroyed.

  (RCAF Photo)

Douglas DB-7B Boston pair in flight, RCAF.

 (RAF Photo)

Douglas DB-7B Boston.

(RCAF Photo)

Douglas Boston (Serial No. HJ496), RCAF.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4900126)

Douglas Boston Mk. III, coded T for Toronto, No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, with nine airmen, six of whom are from Toronto.  L-R: Sgt. H. J. Irving, Sgt. G. M. Riches, Sgt. J. W. Hutchison, Sgt. J. E. C. Pringle, P/O D. Duxfield (Timmins, Ontario), P/O E. Keyes (Ottwa, Ontario), Sgt. J. Field, Sgt. J. Sharples, and Sgt. G. Chabot (Sudbury, Ontario).  Photo taken at RAF Station Debden, Essex in the UK, Feb 1942. 

(NDIL Photo PL-7295)

Douglas Boston Mk. III,  No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, "B" Flight, taken at their home, RAF Station Debden, Essex in the UK, Feb 1942.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4938597)

Douglas Boston Mk. III (Serial No. W8358), No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, at RAF Debden, England.

  (RCAF Photo)

Douglas Boston Mk. IV (Serial No. W8268), coded TH-O, "Ottawa, Ontario", No. 418 (Intruder) Squadron, RCAF, ca Nov-Dec 1941.

(RCAF Photo courtesy of the Shearwater Aviation Museum)

Douglas Boston Mk. IV (Serial No. W8268), coded TH-O, "Ottawa, Ontario", No. 418 (Intruder) Squadron, RCAF.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3378722)

Douglas Boston with a crewman who took part in Operation Jubilee, the Raid on Dieppe, 1942.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4900124)

Douglas Boston dorsal turret gunner.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4900054)

Douglas Boston pair, No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, 14 May 1943.

 (World War Photos)

Douglas DB-7B Boston Mk. III, No. 107 Squadron, RAF.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4931950)

418 Sqn briefing in England.  From left to right: Flying Officer F. W. Halwood, Flight Lieutenant Massey Beveridge, Wing Commander Paul Davoud, Flying Officer Doug Alcorn, Squadron Leader Charles Moran, Flying Officer L.E.S. Spackman, Flying Officer James Johnson, Flight Lieutenant H. Lisson.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4880515)

No. 418 Squadron members inscribing their names on linen, indicating each member of the Squadron on VE Day. From Left to Right:
Flight Lieutenant C. Redeker, Flight Lieutenat A. G. Eckert, Flying Officer M. Zimmer.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 44993934)

S/L C.C. Moran with F/O O. Martin, No. 418 Squadron, RCAF.

 (RCAF Photo)

Squadron Leader Russell William Bannock, Order of Ontario, DSO, DFC,  (1 Nov 1919 – 4 Jan 2020), flew as a Canadian fighter pilot during the Second World War (photo taken in 1944), and served as the chief test pilot for de Havilland Canada.

Bannock was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1919, and worked as a commercial pilot before the Second World War, obtaining his private pilot's license in 1938 and his commercial pilot's license in 1939.  

After entering the RCAF, Bannock received his pilot's wings in 1940 and was appointed as an instructor at Trenton, Ontario.  Later he was posted to RAF Ferry Command from June to August 1942.  In September 1942, Bannock became chief instructor with the Flying Instructor School at Arnprior in Ontario.  Bannock's request for overseas service was granted in 1944 and he joined 60 Operational Training Unit (OTU) based in RAF High Ercall, England.

In June 1944, Bannock was then transferred to No. 418 Squadron, RCAF, flying intruder missions over Europe with the de Havilland Mosquito Mk. VI fighter-bomber.  He quickly proved adept at this type of operation and achieved his first victories.  In October 1944, he was promoted to Wing Commander and took command of the squadron.  Bannock also flew 'Diver' operations against the German V-1 flying bombs launched against London and southern England.  On one mission he shot down four V-1s in one hour.  A bar was added to his DFC for his missions against the V-1s.

Bannock was transferred to No. 406 Squadron, RCAF in Nov 1944 as commanding officer, and was awarded the DSO.  By April 1945, Bannock had destroyed 11 enemy aircraft (including 2 on the ground), 4 damaged in the air and 19 V-1's destroyed.  Bannock became Director of Operations, RCAF Overseas Headquarters, in London in May 1945 until Sep 1945 when he attended the Royal Air Force Staff College.

Retiring from the RCAF in 1946, Bannock joined the de Havilland Canada Aircraft Company as chief test pilot, flying prototypes like the Beaver and various short take-off and landing aircraft.  In 1950, Bannock became Director of Military Sales and later Vice President and President from 1976 to 1978.  In 1968, he formed his own consulting business, Bannock Aerospace Ltd.

In 1956, Bannock was appointed an associate fellow of the Canadian Aeronautical Institute.  He was also chairman of the Canadian Aerospace Industries Association’s Export Committee 1964-1968, and was a director from 1976-1977.  Bannock was also President of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association, Director of the Canadian Industrial Preparedness Association, and the Canadian Exporters Association.

In the late 1990s, his wartime navigator, Robert Bruce, recorded his Symphony in B flat, dedicated to Bannock and in part inspired by the night sorties they flew together.  In 2011, he was made a member of the Order of Ontario "for his contributions to the aerospace industry".  Bannock died at a hospital in Toronto in January 2020 at the age of 100.