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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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401 Squadron Crest
19.08.1942 No. 401 Squadron Spitfire IX BS157 Fl/Sgt. Buckley

Operation: Operation Jubilee - Dieppe

Date: 19th August 1942 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 401 Squadron

Type: Spitfire IX

Serial: BS157 (1)

Code: YO-?

Base: RAF Biggin Hill / RAF Lympne

Location: English Channel off Dieppe

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Morton Haist Buckley R/66343 RCAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed


We are extremely grateful to François Dutil (438 Squadron Archivist) for supplying photographs and information to Aircrew Remembered in October 2017. All photographs shown within this page are available to relatives at a higher resolution (as are most of those named within this page) - courtesy of François.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Although based at RAF Biggin Hill, the Squadron moved to RAF Lympne in preparation for the operation on Dieppe on the 14th August.

Second sortie of the day with weather described as heavy ground haze, smoke over Dieppe with 7/10 cloud at 10.000 ft. Taking off at 13:25 hrs with the brief to patrol over Dieppe at 20.000 ft with freedom of action.

Red Section: Sq/Ldr. Hodson (2nd sortie on this day) - P/O. T. Ibbotson (2nd sortie on this day).
Blue Section: P/O. G. Murray - P/O. H. Westhaver (2nd sortie on this day) - Fl/Sgt. E. Gimbel (2nd sortie on this day) - Fl/Sgt. A. Sinclair (2nd sortie on this day).
Yellow Section: Fl/Lt. J. Whitham (2nd sortie on this day) - Fl/Sgt. M. Buckley - Fl/Sgt. R. Reesor (2nd sortie on this day) - Sgt. L. Armstrong (2nd sortie on this day).

Heavily engaged in combat with Fw190’s over Dieppe. Earlier in the day after a patrol left RAF Lympne at 09:35 hrs the Squadron suffered two casualties, Fl/Sgt, Zobell flying Spitfire BS120 was hit during an attack on a Do 217 - enemy fire hit his Spitfire on the rudder, wings and through his canopy and reflector site injuring his left eye - but managed to return to base. P/O. Morrison was shot down in Spitfire BS119, but rescued by HSL.

During the second sortie of the day Fl/Sgt. M. Buckley was shot down - he was seen diving into the sea with not apparently escaping from his aircraft and is classed as missing believed killed. Sgt. L. Armstrong R/83422 was shot down in Spitfire BS107 - seen to climb into his dingy and taken PoW No: 26804 at Camp Stalag Lamsdorf.

A great deal has been written regarding this operation but we include a description from Wikipedia:

The Allied air operations supporting Operation Jubilee resulted in some of the fiercest air battles since 1940. The RAF's main objectives were to throw a protective umbrella over the amphibious force and beach heads and also to force the Luftwaffe forces into a battle of attrition on the Allies' own terms. Some 48 fighter squadrons of Spitfires were committed, with eight squadrons of Hurricane fighter-bombers, four squadrons of reconnaissance Mustang Mk Is and seven squadrons of No. 2 Group light bombers involved. Opposing these forces were some 120 operational fighters of Jagdgeschwader 2 and 26 (JG 2 and JG 26), the Dornier Do 217s of Kampfgeschwader 2 and various anti-shipping bomber elements of III./KG 53, II./Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG40) and I./KG 77.

Although initially slow to respond to the raid, the German fighters soon made their presence felt over the port as the day wore on. While the Allied fighters were moderately successful in protecting the ground and sea forces from aerial bombing, they were hampered by operating far from their home bases. The Spitfires in particular were at the edge of their ranges, with some only being able to spend five minutes over the combat area.

The raid on Dieppe saw the baptism of fire for the new Spitfire Mark IX, the only British fighter that was equal to the Fw 190 fighter. Six squadrons, four British and two Canadian were flying the new Spitfire Mark IX at Dieppe. During the battle, the RAF flew 2,500 sorties over Dieppe, and achieved a narrow victory over the Luftwaffe.

The intense air fighting prevented the Luftwaffe from making major attacks on either the landing or the evacuation of the Allied forces, who consequently did not suffer very much from attacks from the air. However, in achieving the goal of the "greatest air battle" that would cripple the Luftwaffe over France, Operation Jubilee was less successful. During the air battles over Dieppe, the Royal Air Force lost 91 aircraft shot down and 64 pilots (17 taken prisoner, the rest all killed) while the Royal Canadian Air Force lost 14 aircraft and nine pilots. Additionally, the British lost six bombers over Dieppe. The Luftwaffe lost 48 aircraft, another 24 seriously damaged with 13 pilots killed and seven wounded.

However, RAF intelligence at the time claimed that the Allies had shot down 96 German aircraft, thus winning a major victory. In reality, the Luftwaffe in France was back to full strength within days of the raid. In an assessment, Copp wrote that Dieppe failed to register the knock-out blow against the Luftwaffe that the RAF was seeking. But Copp further noted that even though the Allies continued to lose on average two aircraft for every 1 German aircraft destroyed for the rest of 1942, the superior economic productivity of the aircraft industries of the United States, Britain and Canada combined with the better pilot training programme of the Allies led to the Luftwaffe gradually losing the war of attrition in the skies above France. Copp concluded that: "The battle for air superiority was won many fronts by continuous effort and August 19, 1942 was part of that achievement".

(1) BS157 delivered new to the Squadron on the 27th July 1942.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Morton Haist Buckley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 103. Son of Morton Major Buckley and Gladys Haist Buckley, of Fonthill, Ontario, Canada.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to François Dutil and sources as quoted below:

KTY - 05.10.2017

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 05 October 2017, 15:24

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