No. 425 [Alouette] French/Canadian Squadron RCAF WWII
Formed at Dishforth, Yorkshire, England, 25 June 1942, they were designated French/Canadian a unique formation within the RCAF. From December 1943, until the end of the war in Europe they flew the Handley-Page B. Mk. III aircraft on tactical bombing operations. During this period of time they were based at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, No. 62 [RCAF] Base, and this is where the most impressive French/Canadian Halifax nose art was inspired and painted on the bombers.
Possibly painted with « Alley-Oop. » Pilot Sgt. M. Lavoie was landing on three engines, swung and crashed into Halifax MZ618 [KW-J] and LW680 [KW-U] which was loaded with bombs. 27/28 June 44, burnt. All crew were rescued.
Nose art « Alouette » with flying lark. 8/9 May 44, target Haine St. Pierre, Pilot F/O L. White and navigator P/O J. Lefebre were killed. POW’s -Sgt. J. Chant [RAF] F/Engineer, Sgt. J. Aubry, bomb aimer, W/O 2nd class A. Cormier, Wireless, Sgt. R. Brown, Mid-under, Sgt. J. Beluse, Mid-upper, and rear gunner, F/Sgt. J. McConnell.
9/10 August 44, over Nieppe, F/O N. Streight and crew attacked by Me109, no damage.
Nose art name « Bang on! » with 37 Maple Leafs for operation flown. arrived new with 425 Sqn. on 23 November 1944, for disposal 6 May 45. Flown by Francois Savard to graveyard at Clinton, 14 May 45. Not struck off charge by RAF until 16 May 1948.
Failed to return Hemmingstedt, 8 March 1945. Crew were all killed without any trace. Pilot P/O W. Corbett, P/O G. Forsyth, [RAF] P/O J. Hickson, F/O V. McAllister, P/O G. Ware, P/O J. Morin and P/O L. Parent, six RCAF.
Failed to return Berlin, 24/25 March 1944. Pilot P/O N. Jones and crew all killed. Sgt. G. Mabbott, [RAF] P/O M. Latornell, P/O M. McLeod, P/o J. Laviolette, P/O J. Bouchard, and P/O J. Tracey.
Shot down by Me.262 [jet] Hamburg, 31 March 1945. Pilot F/Lt. Charles Lesesne [American] killed by mob of German females manning flak tower. POW’s – Sgt. J. Tame, [RAF], F/Sgt. J. Hilliard, F/O W. Cable, P/O R. Pigeon, W/02 R. Trudeau, and the nose artist F/Sgt. F. King.
1/2 Nov. 44, Oberhausen, pilot F/Lt. M. Dugas and crew failed to return. One member killed P/O J. Savoie, RCAF. Six POW »s – F/Sgt. J. Carrier, F/Lt. H. Goodman, F/O J. St. Arnaud, W/O 2 J. Ranger, P/O J. Crispin, and F/Sgt. J. Federico.
5/6 January 45, lost over Hannover, two crew killed – P/O J. Piche, and P/O J. Lamarre, five became POW’s – Pilot F/Sgt. J. Cauchy, Sgt. E. Faulkner, F/O J. Lesperance, Sgt. R. Cantin, and F/Sgt. J. Cote.
« Easy Rides at Night » first flew No. 433 Sqn. 10 September 44, then to 425 Sqn. on 3 January 1945. Pilot P/O Miller was attacked by Fw-190 8/9 April 45, nose damaged on Halifax. Disposal 25 May 45, scrapped 1 June 45.
Red Fox with bomb nose art.
22.23 March 44, Frantfurt, Pilot P/O C. Tindall and four crew killed. Sgt. J. Patten, [RAF] F/O K. Duffield, P/O C. Hay and P/O D. Pulham. POW – Sgt. R. Quinlan and Sgt. J. Brine.
24/25 April 44, target Karlsruhe, pilot P/O J. Wells, and crew failed to return. One killed – P/O G. Boucher. POW’s Sgt. J. Railton, [RAF] F/Sgt. H. Mooney, F/Lt. C. Maddin, Sgt. W. Walker, and P/O S. Hunt. One evader – Sgt. P. Draper.
Transferred to No. 187 RAF Squadron, off Charge 11 May 1945.
18/19 March 45, target Witten, they had a mid-air with a Mosquito fighter No. 515 Squadron, only the rear gunner F/Sgt. B. Balyx, survived. Killed in Action – P/O L. Hinch, F/O F. Irwin, P/O J. Wilson, F/O G. le Jambe and F/Sgt. A. Banks, all RCAF.
« Honey Chile », [see story on Mid-Under gunner Donald Doucette] Came from No. 429 Squadron on 10 July 1944, to No. 1666 HCU on 9 November 1944, then to No. 1664 HCU on 1 January 1945. Disposal on 14 April 45, scrapped 15 May 45.
16/17 Jan. 45, P/O W. Corbett and crew were attacked by a Me410 on raid to Magdeburg.
1/2 Feb. 45, bombed Mainz and lost outer starboard engine, landed on three.
Failed to return Stuttgart, 25 Feb. 44.
Transferred to No. 644 Sqn. disposed 22 Feb. 1947.
Failed to return Duisburg, 15 Nov. 44.
« Old Bill » Hit by MZ683 landing 28 June 44, burnt with LW680 [KW-U].
Hit trees landing 25 March 1945. W/O 2 M. Lavoie and crew landed on two good engines, overshot and did a wheels up in a grass field. No injuries to crew.
Failed to return Frankfurt, 23 March 44.
Collided with Halifax from 420 Squadron OW-A, PN228, [mid-air] and crashed Nun Monkton Grange, bombs exploded, burnt. Six crew were killed – pilot P/O M. Anderson, P/O J. Roy, P/O J. Beaudry, F/O R. Charron, F/Sgt. J. Seguim, and P/O J. Pelletier. Wireless operator F/Sgt. A. De Cruyenaere bailed out and survived.
Transferred to 21 HCU in May 45, disposed 14 March 1947.
Failed to return Hannover, 5/6 January 1945. Killed were P/O G. Noonan, and Sgt. B. Simonin. POW’s – pilot F/O J. Seguin, F/O J. Bilodeau, Sgt. J. Cantin, P/O J. Lapierre, and F/Sgt. J. Huet.
To No. 1664 HCU, Flown by Francois Savard to graveyard 14 May 45. 20 min. flight. Disposed by RAF 14 March 1947.
Failed to return St. Ghislain, 2 May 44.
Pilot F/O C. Dionne and crew hit by flak over Wanne-Eickel, 12 October 1944. Transferred to No. 187 squadron RAF, Struck off charge 22 Nov. 1946.
F/O J. Bellinger and crew were attacked by Fw190, rear gunner Sgt. C. Wilson was seriously injured. Target was Castrop-Rauxel, 21/22 November 1944.
F/Lt. J. Galipeau and crew failed to return from Duisberg, 14 October 1944. Four killed – Sgt. F. Eade, F/O D. Butler, F/Sgt. L. Hogg, Sgt. J. Pare, and Sgt. C. Crabtree. POW’s – F/Sgt. C. Williamson, F/Sgt. J. Bazinet, and Sgt. J. Pare.
Failed to return Duisburg, 15 November 1944.
The famous « Nuts for Nazis » flown by French/ American Charles P. Lesesne, last member of 425 to be killed in squadron WWII. Chuck shot down in MZ418, on Easter 31 March 1945. He was beaten to death by female German flak gunners and left to bleed to death. His Halifax bomber completed seven more operations and was sent for disposal on 6 May 45. Scrapped 14 May 45.
22/23 April 44, Dusseldorf, pilot P/O J. Brisson and crew shot down by night fighter, five were killed – Sgt. I. Welch, F/O E. Fortin, P/O J. Legault, and P/O J. Hurteau. Two POW’s – W/O 2nd Class J. Davidson, and F/O J. Desrosiers.
4/5 Nov. 44, target Bochum, hit by load of incendiaries over the target, one engine caught fire, returned safely to base on three engines. Pilot F/O J. Desmarais.
Survived war, off charge RAF 15 May 1946.
5/6 March 45, failed to return from raid to Chemnitz. Killed were pilot – F/O J. Desbiens, P/O A. Minguet, and F/Sgt. H. D’Avril. POW’s – F/Sgt. G. Tremblay, F/O J. Parent, F/Sgt. G. Langevin, and F/Sgt. L. Lamontagne.
Failed to return Boulogne, 16 June 1944.
Crashed into houses Adelaide St., Brierley Hill, Staffs, after abandoned by crew 16 March 1944.
Survives today [nose art] in War Museum, Ottawa. First served with No. 427 Sqn. 13 September 1944, to 429 Sqn. on 1 March 1945, then to 425 on 16 March 45, flying ten operations and received nose art « Ville de Quebec » from crew of P/O Kolisnek, who flew her eight operations. Disposal 6 May 45, scrapped 14 May 45.
30/31 March 44, Nurnberg, pilot F/O J. Taylor and crew all killed. Sgt. P. Furlong, [RAF] F/O G. Munro, P/O F. Majchrowicz, P/O J. Sheahan, P/O A. De Witt, and F/Sgt. P. Mitchell.
18/19 March 45, shot down on raid to Witten, killed was Sgt. P. Panasuk, pilot P/O C. Racicot and five crew became POW’s. F/O R. Marc-Aurele, F/Sgt. J. Demouchel. F/Sgt. M. Depot, F/Sgt. E. Gregory, and F/Sgt. R. Le Boeuf, all RCAF.
Nose Art of pin-up and name « Rita ». First flew with No. 427 Sqn. 28 October 44, then to No. 429 Sqn. on 13 November 44, to 425 Sqn. on 18 March 1945. Disposal 6 May 45, scrapped 14 May 45.
12 October 44, pilot F/O T. MacKinnon and crew hit by flak.
Crashed at Little Ouseburn, Yorkshire, after losing control during tale-off, due to icing, burnt. Killed were pilot – F/O A. Lowe, Sgt. J. Lynch, F/O P. Hall and P/O J. Hyde, all crew were RCAF. Survivors who bailed out before crash – F/O E. Brabbins, F/O J. Brownell, and F/Sgt. K. McCuaig.
Transferred to No. 415 Squadron, off charge RAF 14 October 1945.
24/25 April 44, Pilot F/O J. L’Abbe, and crew were shot down, one killed W/O 1st class J. Michaud. POW’s – F/O T. Gravel and Sgt. H. Girard. Evaders – F/O W. Whalen, Sgt. J. Michaud, and Sgt. A. Best.
Transferred to No. 431 Squadron, missing Versailles-Matelots, 8 June 1944.
Swung on three engine landing at Tholthorpe, crashed, 8 Feb. 1944.
23/24 October 44, Essen, pilot F/Lt. H. Franks and crew attacked by Fw190.
Pilot F/O J. Giquere attacked by German Me-163 on 8/9 April 45. P
25/26 Feb. 44, Augsburg, pilot F/Sgt. C. Stowell and crew shot down. One killed RAF Flight engineer Sgt. S. Wheadon. POW’s F/Sgt. R. Friskey, Sgt. G. Dinsmore, W/O 2nd J. Fullum, Sgt. W. Skerik and Sgt. R. Curnock.
Nose art 1942 « Allen Cup ». 5 August 1944, target V-1 site at St. Leu d’ Esserent, France. Hit by flak over target, pilot S/L G. Philbin and Sgt. C. Hilliard bailed out. Six were killed – F/Sgt. W. Gracie, P/O R. Reed, P/O T. Lee, F/O L. Stamp, [RAF] F/O G. Beresford, [RAF] and W/O B. Clark [RAF].
Nose art of Hitler in boxing ring, name – « U’ll Knock Him Out !!! » Flew 36 operations went to No. 1664 HCU. Operations are shown as letter « U ».
« Little LuLu » name only. First flew No. 433 Sqn. 18 September 44, then to 425 on 3 January 45. Flew 16 operations Disposal 17 May 45, scrapped 30 May 45.
Flew with four RCAF squadrons then came to No. 425 Sqn. on 16 April 1945. Carried the nose art « Spook ‘N Droop » from No. 427 Squadron. Had an accident with 425 Sqn. on 21 April 45 and never flew operations. Disposal 31 May 45, scrapped 8 June 45.
24/25 March 44, Berlin, pilot P/O L. Renaud and crew all killed shot down by night fighter. Sgt. J. Nutman, F/O J. Brazeau, P/O M. Boyer, P/Or. Hanks, P/O C. Turner, and P/O J. Huot.
18 December 1944, crashed after take-off due to icing. All crew killed. Pilot F/O J. Desmarais, P/O J. Blackburn [RAF], F/O J. Bernier, P/O J. Labrecque, P/O J. Dubois, F/Sgt. J. Paradis, F/Sgt. J. Larivier, and P/O R. Gauthier.
P/O J. Giquere and crew lost two engines, 19 March 45, target Witten. Landed at Handy Grass. F/Sgt. R. Kelusky [wireless/oper.] was injured.
Failed to return Hannover, 5/6 January 1944. Killed was flight/engineer RAF, P/O S. Moore. Six RCAF crew survived – pilot F/O V. Brimicombe, F/O L. Coleman, F/O M. Berry, F/Sgt. G. Delong, F/Sgt. D. MacKeigan, and F/Sgt. G. Hutton.
12 October 44, pilot F/O G. Lareau and crew hit by flak over target Wanne-Eickel.
Failed to return St. Leu d’Esserent, 5 August 1944.
1/2 November 1944, target Oberhausen, pilot F/O P. Legault attacked by a Me110, port flap was shot off, and damage to fuselage which was riddled with exploding shrapnel. 4/5 November 44, F/O W. Forman and crew fired on by Fw190, over Bochum.
22/23 May 44, target Dortmund, Pilot P/O E. Laporte and crew shot down, one survived, Sgt. R. McGowan, killed – Sgt. N. Ward, F/O J. Tetrault, F/Sgt. J. Mallette, W/O 1st class J. Laing, and Sgt. J. Levasseur.
15/16 March 45, raid to Hagen, shot down and two killed were pilot P/O J. Patry, and F/O A. Fournier. They were killed by German civilians. POW’s were – Sgt. G. Odell, Sgt. J. Lanctot, W/O 1st class J. Paiement, F/Sgt. C. Panneton and F/Sgt. J. Goupil.
Nose art name only « Yetta ». Came to 425 Sqn. on 27 May 1944 and flew until 2 Feb 1945. Transferred to No. 187 squadron 2 Feb. 45 and disposal on 16 Feb. 45. Scrapped 24 Feb. 1945.
F/O D. Smith [pilot] failed to return from 4/5 Nov. 44 to Bochum. One killed – flight engineer [RAF] Sgt. W. Clowes. POW – F/O L. Jamieson, F/O E. Knorr, Sgt. R. Ford, F/Sgt. A. Limacher, and F/Sgt. R. Gale all RCAF.
8/9 Feb. 45, had the starboard outer engine catch fire after hit by flak over target Wanne-Eickel, would not feather, then crew bailed out over Belguim. Pilot – F/O W. Mark, Sgt. J. Whyte, [RAF] P/O R. Daniels, F/O W. Wotherspoon, F/Sgt. W. Ketcham, P/O A. McLean, F/Sgt. H. Sanderson, and F/Sgt. A. Alger
« Bull Head » flew 62 Ops. 12 Dec. 1943 until 7 November 1944. Went to 1666 HCU [Heavy conversion Unit] 12 Nov. 44 and to No. 1664 HCU on 1 December 44. Disposal 20 April 1945, scrapped No. 45 MU 28 April 1945.
Impressive nose art of flying lark with squadron nickname Alouette which was adopted in October 1942. The squadron motto is also painted « Je te plumerai » [I shall pluck you]. A very impressive 66 operations are shown as this was truly a veteran bomber. I’m sure the code letter was KW-A but the serial is not known. MZ683 carried the code letter « A » but this Halifax arrived with the squadron in May 1944, and struck Halifax LW680 on 28 June 1944 while landing and both burnt.
This is believed to be KW-A ‘Alley-Oop » [MZ683] which crashed into LW680 [KW-U] and MZ610 [KW-J] on landing 28 June 1944 and three aircraft burnt. This was the original Halifax « A » which was then replaced with the above « Alouettee » aircraft and became the new KW-A.
MZ683 built 15 May 1944, crashed 28 June 44. [serial not confirmed]
« Bang on! » KW-B, serial NR252, built between 4 to 18 November 1944, delivered new to No. 425, 23 November 1944, flew 37 operations marked with Maple Leafs. Sent for disposal 6 May 1945, struck off charge by RAF 16 May 1948. Has a DFC ribbon under pilot widow.
KW-E, « Easy Rides at Night » serial MZ419. Built 3 August to 9 September 1944, delivered first to No. 433 [Porcupine] Squadron 10 Sept. 44. Transferred to No. 425 on 3 January 1945, ordered for disposal 25 May 1945, and scrapped 1 June 45.
KW-F, a red fox holding a 500 lb. bomb, with 42 operations show as bomb bursts and letter « F » inside each burst. Serial number is not known.
KW-H, serial MZ672 « Honey Chile » full story and photos in Donald Doucette story.
KW-N, « Nuts for Nazis » serial NR271, the story of French/American pilot Charles P. Lesesne.
This replica nose art was painted for Caitlin McWilliams, editor Canadian Aviation Historical Society newsletter, October 2010. It is painted on original skin from Halifax NA337, which today resides in Trenton, Ontario, RCAF Museum. It honors French/American Charles P. Lesesne, who flew and gave his life in No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron RCAF.
A second replica of French/Canadian 425 Squadron nose art was presented to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.