Who was in the air on D-Day?

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News Article / May 13, 2019

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By Major (retired) William March

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) had 42 operational squadrons overseas on D-Day—June 6, 1944.

These 42 also included a Home War Establishment unit, 162 Squadron, which operated Canso aircraft; it had been “loaned” to Royal Air Force (RAF) Coastal Command. Of these 42 squadrons, 39 have the “Normandy” Battle Honour, meaning that they took part in combat operations either on D-Day or during the subsequent campaign.

Hundreds of Canadian aircraft were in the air on D-Day and thousands of RCAF men and women served in Canadian or other Commonwealth units. Of the 23 Canadian airmen who were killed on D-Day, seven served with RCAF squadrons. The remainder served with RAF squadrons and units.

Canadian squadrons in the air on D-Day

SquadronFormationLocationAircraftCurrent
Location
400 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Odiham, Hampshire Mosquito Mk XVI, Spitfire Mk XI Borden, Ont.
401 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Tangmere, Sussex Spitfire Mk IXB Cold Lake, Alta.
402 2 Tactical Air Force/85 Group Horne, Yorkshire Spitfire Mk IXB Winnipeg, Man.
403 2 Tactical Air Force/19 Group Tangmere, Sussex Spitfire Mk XVI Gagetown, N.B.
404 Coastal Command/19 Group Davidstow Moor, Cornwall Beaufighter Mk XC Greenwood, N.S.
405 Bomber Command/8 (Pathfinder) Group Gransden Lodge, Cambridgeshire Lancaster Mk I/III Greenwood, N.S.
406 Air Defence of Great Britain/10 Group Winkleigh, Devon Mosquito Mk XIII Shearwater, N.S.
407 Coastal Command/19 Group Chievenor, Devon WEllington Mk XIV Comox, B.C.
408 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Linton-on-Ouse, Yorksire Lancaster Mk II Edmonton, Alta.
409 2 Tactical Air Force/85 Group West Maling, Kent Mosquito Mk XII Cold Lake, Alta.
410 2 Tactical Air Force/85 Group Hunsdon, Hertfordshire Mosquito Mk XIII Cold Lake, Alta.
411 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Tangmere, Sussex Spitfire Mk IXB Not Active
412 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Tangmere, Sussex Spitfire Mk IXB Ottawa, Ont.
414 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Odiham, Hampshire Mustang Mk I Ottawa, Ont.
415 Coastal Command/16 Group Bircham Newton, Norfolk Wellington Mk XIII Greenwood, N.S.
416 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Tangmere, Sussex Spitfire Mk IXB Not Active
418 Air Defence of Great Britain/11 Group Holmsley South, Hampshire Mosquito Mk XII Not Active
419 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Middleton St. George, Durham Lancaster Mk X Cold Lake, Alta.
420 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Tholthorpe, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Not Active
421  2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group  Tangmere, Sussex Spitfire Mk XVI Not Active

422

Coastal Command/15 Group Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland Sunderland Mk III Not Active
423 Coastal Command/15 Group Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland Sunderland Mk III Shearwater, N.S.
424 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III  Trenton, Ont.
425 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Dishforth, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Bagotville, Que.
426 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Trenton, Ont.
427 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Leeming, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Petawawa, Ont.
428 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Middleton St. George, Durham Halifax Mk II Not Active
429 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Leeming, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Trenton, Ont.
430  2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Odiham, Hampshire Mustang Mk I Valcartier, Que.
431 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Croft, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Moose Jaw, Sask.
432 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group East Moor, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Not Active
433 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Bagotville, Que.
434 Bomber Command/6 (RCAF) Group Croft, Yorkshire Halifax Mk III Trenton, Ont.
438 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Wittering, Cambridgeshire Typhoon Mk IB St. Hubert, Que.
439 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Hurn, Dorset Typhoon Mk IB Bagotville, Que
440 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Hurn, Dorset Typhoon Mk IB Yellowknife, N.W.T.
441 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Ford, Sussex Spitfire Mk IXB Not Active
442 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Ford, Sussex Spitfire Mk IXB Comox, B.C.
443 2 Tactical Air Force/83 Group Ford, Sussex Spitfire Mk IXB Victoria, B.C.

Canadian squadrons not involved in D-Day

The following Second World War 400-series RCAF squadrons were not involved in D-Day.

SquadronFormationLocationAircraftCurrent
Location
413 South East Asia Command/222 Group Koggala, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Catalina, various Mks Greenwood, N.S.
417 Desert Air Force/221 Group Venafrom, Italy Spitfire Mk VB Cold Lake, Alta.
435 South East Asia Command/229 Group Formed 1 Nov. 1944 (after D-Day) Dakota, various Mks Winnipeg, Man.
436 South East Asia Command/229 Group Formed 20 Aug. 1944 (after D-Day) Dakota, various Mks Trenton, Ont.
437 South East Asia Command/46 Group Formed 14 Sept. 1944 (after D-Day) Dakota, various Mks Trenton, Ont.

 As well as these 400-series squadrons, 162 Squadron, a Home War Establishment unit, which operated Canso aircraft was overseas, having been “loaned” to Royal Air Force (RAF) Coastal Command.

D-Day missions

The RCAF squadrons involved in D-Day carried out the following missions.

SquadronMissionAircraftCasualties
400 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
401 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
402 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
403 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
404 Anti-shipping patrol 14 aircraft Nil
405 Mark target, Coutances, France 2 aircraft Nil
406 Counter-air sweep All available Nil
407 Anti-submarine patrol 2 aircraft Nil
408 Attack, Coutances, France 22 aircraft Nil
409 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
410 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
411 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
412 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
414 Naval gunfire spotting All available Nil
415 Anti-shipping patrol All available Nil
416 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
418 Counter-air sweep All available Nil
419 Attack, Coutances, France 20 aircraft Nil
420 Attack, Coutances, France 18 aircraft Nil
421 Patrol over beaches  All available Nil

422

Anti-submarine patrol 1 aircraft Nil
423 Standby Nil Nil
424 Attack, Condé-Sur-Noireau, France All available Nil
425 Attack, Coutances, France 19 aircraft Nil
426 Attack, battery at Houlgate, France 16 aircraft 1 aircraft lost;
5 RCAF, 1 RAF killed
427 Attack, Condé-Sur-Noireau, France All available Nil
428 Attack, Coutances, France 17 aircraft Nil
429 Attack, Condé-Sur-Noireau, France 19 aircraft Nil
430  Photo reconnaissance All available 1 aircraft lost;
1 RCAF killed
431 Attack, Condé-Sur-Noireau, France 21 aircraft Nil
432 Attack, Coutances, France 20 aircraft Nil
433 Attack, Condé-Sur-Noireau, France 19 aircraft Nil
434 Attack, Condé-Sur-Noireau, France 19 aircraft Nil
438 Armed reconnaissance All available Nil
439 Armed reconnaissance All available Nil
440 Armed reconnaissance All available 2 aircraft damaged;
1 aircraft lost; 1 RCAF killed
441 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
442 Patrol over beaches All available Nil
443 Patrol over beaches All available Nil

Related Links:

D-Day and air power

Operation Overlord: D-Day remembered

D-Day and the Battle of Normandy


 

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