AR banner
Search Tips Advanced Search
Back to Top

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
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.
Check our Research databases: Database List


We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via the Helpdesk.

411 (Grizzly Bear) Squadron, RCAF
03.03.1945 411 (Grizzly Bear) Squadron, RCAF, Spitfire LF.IXE MK950 Flt Lt. Richard Joseph Audet DFC and Bar

Operation: Armed Reconnaissance, Coesfeld, Germany

Date: 3rd March 1945 (Saturday)

Unit No: 411 (Grizzly Bear) Squadron, RCAF, 2nd Tactical Air Force

Type: Spitfire LF.IXE

Serial: MK950

Code: DB:G

Base: RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, England

Location: In the vicinity of Coesfeld, Germany

Pilot: Flt Lt. Richard ‘Dick’ Joseph Audet DFC and Bar J20136 RCAF Age 22. MiA


On the 3rd March 1945, 411 Sqn was ordered to carry out an Armed Reconnaissance sortie in the Coesfeld area in Germany. A section of twelve aircraft, led by Sqn Ldr. John Neville Newell, 91328, the Sqn Commanding Officer, was airborne at 15:50 hrs.

At approximately 16:55 hours the section carried out an attack on an enemy railway. Flt Lt. Audet’s aircraft, believed to be hit by flak, poured glycol, burst into flames and went straight in from 500 ft crashing in a wood. Flt Lt. Audet was not seen to bail out and no R/T message was heard.

An interim report by a Field Investigation Section dated 3rd November 1947 assumed that Flt Lt. Audet had survived the crash and had been moved together with another British airman, probably on the 4th March, from a flak unit based at Groß Reken, some 14 km SW of Coesfeld to Gelsenkirchen-Buer Fliegerhorst (airfield) which was some 32 km south of Groß Reken.

The report surmised that the other airman was most probably shot down over the same railway line on the same date, it appears that this target had been selected because of the fact that V2 missiles were being transported on this railway line.

Research has found that there were six other fighters lost this day. Of these four were on the Allied side of the lines. One pilot was KiA over enemy territory and a Plt Off. Henri Félicen René Goblet, 176789 from 609 Sqn, flying Typhoon Ib EK380, became a PoW. Although his aircraft was shot down by flak a number of km to the west of Flt Lt. Audet’s position it is probable that he was moved away from the front lines and may have been the airman in question.

The site of the airfield is now the Schalke 04 Football Stadium and complex.

Until some time in February or March 1945 captured Allied airmen were sent from Gelsenkirchen-Buer Fliegerhorst to Dulag Luft. When the railway line Buer-Frankfurt had been damaged PoWs were directed to Dortmund-Brackel Fliegerhorst.

The site of the airfield is now the Borussia Dortmund Football Club training ground.

The investigators found a farmer who lived in Groß Reken who had witnessed a Canadian airman with a bandaged head at about 14:00 hrs on the day in question being taken away from Maria Veen, some 3¼ km to the east of Groß Reken by a Feldwebel (Sgt) and a former Ortsgruppenleiter (Local Nazi group leader) named Schürmann.

When the airman stopped at a road junction near the farm of the eye witness he heard Schürmann shout and saw him aggressively knee the airman in the back to direct him toward which road to take.

Although the investigation uncovered anecdotal information that an airman under escort escaped from a train by jumping out of the window somewhere between Köln (Cologne) and Frankfurt it was concluded that this encompassed an area of search so vast that research would be futile.

The recommendation, dated 18th July 1948, from No. 20 Missing Research and Enquiry Section (MRES), based at RAF Krefeld, was to close the case through lack of information and Flt Lt. Audet be commemorated and his name inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing.

Aircrew Remembered has been contacted by Jim Doran whose father, Fg Off. James Aldous Doran J85566, flew with 411 (Grizzly Bear) Sqn with Richard Joseph Audet, commonly known as "Dick Audet" and known on his airbase as "Dead Eye Dick." His father spoke of him several times over the years, and said that Dick had the most amazing eyesight of anyone he ever met.

Fg Off. Doran - Courtesy of the Times Colonist, dated Monday January 15th, 1945

Apparently, he could count and identify enemy aircraft before anyone else in the squadron had even seen them. Shooting skeet was encouraged to sharpen a pilot's deflection shooting, and while my father was very good at this, (consistently 18 or 19/20) of course Dick Audet was better.His proficiency at shooting hares on the moors with a .22 was incredible.

Some pilots also did this to sharpen their aim, but when it was Dick's turn with the rifle, they would whistle to get the hare running, and and he would still very often bag them. No one else could come close to this. His father was quite bitter about Dick's demise, especially since by that point in the war, there was greatly reduced danger to Allied air crews from the air.

Jim knew that flying Spitfires was the highlight of his father's life, and he retained his membership in the RCAF Reserve until the government disbanded it. He gave up his vacation every summer to give his service to the Reserve, and never missed the Remembrance Day Dawn Patrol in dress uniform at the cenotaph.

Burial details:

Flt Lt. Audet photograph from his Service record. Panel 278 (Credit: Andrea Ruddick)

Audet Lake in Wood Buffalo, about 67 miles NNE of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada has been named after Flt Lt. Audet.

Flt Lt. Richard Joseph Audet DFC and Bar. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 278. Born on the 13th March 1922 in Lethbridge, Alberta. Son of Paul and Edewisca Audet. Husband to Iris Christina (née Gibbins) Audet, of Pinner, Middlesex, England.

The DFC was awarded to Flying Officer Richard Joseph Audet. RCAF, 411 Sqn. London Gazette 16th February 1943. Citation reads:

“This officer has proved himself to be a highly skilled and courageous fighter. In December, 1944, the squadron was involved in an engagement against 12 enemy fighters in the Rheine/Osnabruck area. In a most spirited action, Flying Officer Audet achieved outstanding success by destroying 5 enemy aircraft. This feat is a splendid tribute to his brilliant shooting, great gallantry and tenacity”.

A Bar to his DFC was awarded posthumously to Flight Lieutenant Richard Joseph Audet, DFC, RCAF, 411 Sqn. London Gazette on the 9th March 1945. Citation reads:

“This officer is an outstanding fighter. Since his first engagement, towards the end of December, 1944, he has completed numerous sorties during which he has destroyed a further 6 enemy aircraft, bring his total victories to 11; Flight Lieutenant Audet has also most effectively attacked numerous locomotives and mechanical vehicles. His skill and daring have won the greatest praise”.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the VitzArchive database. Update to fighter claims by Ralph Snape (May 2021). Thanks to Jim Doran for the memories of his father’s service with his friend Richard Joseph Audet (Apr 2020).

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 08.04.2022 - Addition of contribution by Jim Doran

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
Click any image to enlarge it

Click to add your info via ticket on Helpdesk •Click to let us know via ticket on Helpdesk• Click to buy research books from Amazon •Click to explore the entire site
If you would like to comment on this page, please do so via our Helpdesk. Use the Submit a Ticket option to send your comments. After review, our Editors will publish your comment below with your first name, but not your email address.

A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© Aircrew Remembered 2012 - 2024
Last Modified: 11 February 2024, 16:28

Monitor Additions/Changes?Click to be informed of changes to this page. Create account for first monitor only, thereafter very fast. Click to close without creating monitor