02.07.1941 N0. 145 Squadron Spitfire IIb P8536 SO-B Sgt. Robillard
Date: 02nd July 1941 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 145 Squadron (motto: Diu noctuque pugnamus - 'We fight by day and night')
Type: Spitfire IIb
Base: RAF Tangemere
Location: Lilliers, France
Pilot: Sgt. Joseph Guillaume Laurent Robillard R/54188 RCAF Age 20. Evaded
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Tangemere at 11:45 hrs on a sweep.
During the afternoon the squadron was attacked by a large force of Luftwaffe fighters. Having seen one of the Allied pilots bale out, who he understood to be his C/O Sq/Ldr. Stanley Turner 41631, also a Canadian, he decided to escort him down.
He was then attacked by nine Me109s one flown by the German ace Adolf Galland whose aircraft he managed to hit several times. During the encounter several Me109s then came to their commander's aid, Sgt. Robillard managed to shoot down at least two of them before he was also shot down. He saw two go down and locals reported a third. He made a statement on his return that the third aircraft had hid as he was preparing to collide with it when as a shell tore off his port wing. All this, it must be remembered after the young Canadian had only been in front line service for less than one month!
He managed to bale out and then, with the assistance from French locals, managed to evade capture, travelling through occupied France, through Spain, until finally arriving in Gibraltar on the 12th August 1941. From there he was able to return to the United Kingdom in October the same year, joining 72 Squadron. He was then promoted to Fl/Sgt. and awarded the DFM for his actions.
He remained with 72 Squadron until the 22nd April 1942 and was then commissioned as an officer.
Posted to Canada on a speaking tour (with an estimated audience of some 20,000 people) along with P/O. Paul Emile Morin DFM, a bomber pilot who had completed his tour of operations with 75 Squadron
Robillard was born in Ottawa 28th November 1920. He attended La Salle Academy (1937) and Ottawa Technical High School (1938-39). Interested in model aircraft and obtained a private pilot license (eight hour solo, 8 hours dual) before enlisting. When he first applied to enlist he was 14 pounds underweight so he went on a special diet to gain weight.
He enlisted in Ottawa on 17th July 1940. Sent to Trenton 16th August 1940 and onto No.2 ITS Regina on 31st August 1940. He graduated and was promoted LAC on 12th October 1940 when posted to No.12 EFTS Goderich; he graduated 10th December 1940 when posted to No.2 SFTS Uplands; and graduated and promoted Sergeant 21st February 1941. Posted to Debert 4th March 1941; arrived in UK 17th April 1941. Posted to No.58 OTU 22nd April 1941.
Posted to 145 Squadron 3rd June 1941. Shot down over France, 2nd July 1941, he evaded capture as described and reported safe in Gibraltar,12th August 1941. Promoted Flight Sergeant, 1st September 1941. Returned to UK in October 1941; posted to 72 Squadron.
Back to Wednesday 02nd July 1941:
P/O. Bill Hall (61921) flying Hurricane Z3094 with 71 Squadron, shot down and taken PoW. The first American Eagle to be shot down and taken PoW (No: 39321 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan).
This was a tragic day for Polish pilots with 2 killed: Sq/Ldr. Wacław Łapkowski (P-1506) Spitfire IIb P8596 of 303 Squadron and Fl/Lt. Erwin Stanisław Kawnik (P-1307) in Spitfire IIa P8525 of 308 Squadron.
2 Poles were taken PoW: P/O. Stanisław Zygmunt Krol (P-0237) in Spitfire Vb W3263 of 74 Squadron (Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan). - he was murdered after the Great Escape (details in the Vitz Archive on this site) and Sgt. Pawel Kowała (782469) in Spitfire P7536 of 308 Squadron (PoW No: 39194 Camp: Muhlberg - Elbe. He survived the war and passed away December 2004)
4 others Poles returned wounded: Sgt. Mirosław Ignacy Wojciechowski (781062) in Spitfire P8390 (passed away 22nd October 1956), Sgt Ryszard Górecki (782111) in Spitfire P8463 of 303 Squadron (passed away 18th May 2005), P/O. Wiktor Stanisław Strzembosz (P-0897) in Spitfire P8329 (killed on the 08th July 1941) also of 303 Squadron. P/O. Brunon Jerzy Kudrewicz (P-0718) in Spitfire P7883 of 308 Squadron was also wounded (he passed away on the 13th April 2001).
Another pilot shot down and taken PoW, Sgt. Robert Evans (989296) in Spitfire Vb W3259, serving with 74 Squadron (PoW No: 39188 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug)
10th February 1941 Wings Parade with W/Cdr. Frank Scholes McGill in Uplands, Ottawa, Ontario hands out Wings To LAC Robillard.
Left: June 1942 Parade for Pilot Officer J.G.L. Robillard and Pilot Officer Paul Emile Morin, Official Car showing (L. to R.) Pilot Officer Robillard DFM Mayer Stanley Lewis of Ottawa, Pilot Officer Morin.Right: 21st May 1942 Quebec City welcome for P/O. Robillard and P/O. Paul Emile Morin with dignitaries in front of Hall.
Above left: F/Sgt. Robillard 03rd March 1942 seen here a few moments after His Majesty King George presented him with the Distinguished Flying Medal. F/Sgt. At that date his score stood at three enemy aircraft officially destroyed and one probable. Right: Robillard whilst with 443 Squadron taken on the 26th April 1944.
17th June 1944: First to land their aircraft on the beach-head landing strip in Normandy were Canadian Spitfire pilots of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The strip was completed by members of the Royal Engineers. In this picture, two of the first flight of four pilots who flew from their base in England to try out the new forward base for their operations are speaking with their station commander about it. Left to right are: Flying Officer Larry Robillard DFM, from Ottawa: Wing Commander G.C. Maxwell, MC DFC AFC (90890) of the Royal Air Force (see note), and Flight Lieutenant Dean Hugh Dover (J/16342) of Toronto. The pilots were able to refuel, reload ammunition and have their radios checked. They said the runway was soft and like landing in snow but still very satisfactory and further reported that the ground staff they found were composed chiefly of Royal Air Force personnel.
(note: Gerald Joseph Constable Maxwell was an ace with 26 aerial victories from the first World War. His eldest son Fl/Lt. William Michael Constable Maxwell was killed on the 29th March 1950 whist with 56 Squadron flying Meteor F4 VW277 when after performing a roll, he hit the ground near Thorney Island. Gerald J.C. Maxwell died at Alresford House, Old Alresford, near Winchester on the 18th December 1959 aged 64. Sq/Ldr. Dean Hugh Dover DFC and Bar passed away at home in London, Ontario on the 02nd June 2000 age 83.
Robillard Burial details:
None - survived the war - passed away on the 08th March 2006 at his home in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Francois Dutil, other sources as quoted below: