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Klersy, William Thomas DFC & Bar (Squadron Leader)

Killed in Flying Accident 1945-May-22

Birth Date: 1922-July-30 (age 22)

Born: Brantford, Ontario

Son of William P. and Grace G. Klersy, of Toronto, Ontario.

Home: Brantford, Ontario

Enlistment: Toronto, Ontario

Enlistment Date: 1941-06-28

Decorations: DFC & Bar, DSO


Distinguished Service OrderDistinguished Service Cross Bar
Service
RCAF
Unit
401 Sqn- Squadron
Mors Celerrima Hostibus (Very swift death to the enemy)
Rank
Squadron Leader
Marshal
Air Chief MarshalA/C/M
Air MarshalA/M
Air Vice MarshalA/V/M
Air CommodoreA/C
Group CaptainG/C
Wing CommanderW/C
Squadron LeaderS/L
Flight LieutenantF/L
Flying OfficerF/O
Pilot OfficerP/O
Warrant Officer 1st ClassWO1
Warrant Officer 2nd ClassWO2
Flight SergeantFS
SergeantSGT
CorporalCPL
Senior AircraftmanSAC
Leading AircraftmanLAC
Aircraftman 1st ClassAC1
Aircraftman 2nd ClassAC2
Position
Pilot
Service Numbers
J/12199
Born in Brantford, Ontario, 30 July 1922. Enlisted in Toronto, 28 June 1941. Trained at No.6 ITS (11 October to 6 December 1941), No.20 EFTS (7 December 1941 to 28 February 1942) and No.6 SFTS (1 March to 4 July 1942. Retained in Canada for home defense duties (No.130 Squadron). Arrived in UK, 1 July 1943. No.401 Squadron, 9 July 1943 to 17 September 1944 and again from 3 January to 22 May 1945; Killed in flying accident, 22 May 1945. 401 Ram Squadron (Mors Celerrima Hostibus). S/L Klersy was the Commanding Officer of 401 Squadron and was an ace having destroyed sixteen and one half enemy aircraft. S/L Klersy was flying Spitfire aircraft RM 785 over the Rhinerim-Goch area of Germany and disappeared into a cloud, the aircraft was found, crashed and burned, at Udem, Germany. Klersy was the fourth C.O. of this Sqdn. to be shot down in 10 months. The other C.O.(s) were; S/L(s) Lorne M. Cameron D.F.C. of Roland, Manitoba, I.F. Kennedy of Cumberland, Ontario, and N.C. Trainor of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Campbell and Kennedy were Evaders and Trainor was taken Prisoner of War. Addendum: - S/L. Klersy was on a day training flight when he lost his life, he was not killed in action. KLERSY, F/L William Thomas (J12199) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.401 Squadron - Award effective 5 September 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 2373/44 dated 3 November 1944: Aerial victories as follows: 7 March 1944, one FW-190 destroyed; 7 June 1944, one FW- 190 destroyed; 28 June 1944, two FW-190s destroyed; 2 July 1944, one Bf 109 destroyed east of Caen; 13 July 1944, one FW-190 destroyed southeast of Caen; 17 July 1944, one Do.217 destroyed, northwest of Caen; 31 July 1944, one FW-190 destroyed, Domfort; 12 January 1945, one Ar.234 damaged plus one Ar.234 damaged with eleven others, Osnabruck; 1 March 1945, one FW-190 destroyed, Dorsten plus two Bf.109s destroyed; 19 April 1945, one FW-190 destroyed, Hagenow; 20 April 1945, two FW190s destroyed plus one Bf.109 destroyed plus one 131109 destroyed with another pilot; 1 May 1945, one FW-190 damaged; 3 May 1945, one Ju.52 destroyed on the ground plus one He.111 destroyed on the ground. All awards presented to next-of-kin, 10 December 1947. For additional details see H.A. Halliday, The Tumbling Sky. The citation reads - "This-officer has displayed the greatest keenness for operations. He has participated in a large number of sorties, on many of which he has led the flight with distinction. He is most determined fighter and has shot down three enemy aircraft." KLERSY, F/L William Thomas, DFC (J12199) - Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross - N0.401 Squadron - Award effective I December 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 239/45 dated 9 February 1945. The citation reads - "This officer is a keen and courageous fighter. He has completed a large number of sorties and his successes include the destruction of seven enemy aircraft and many mechanical vehicles. His example of determination and devotion to duty has been of a high order." KLERSY, S/L William Thomas, DFC (J12199) - Distinguished Service Order - No.401 Squadron (deceased) - Award effective 20 June 1945 as per London Gazette dated 29 June 1945 and AFRO 1453/45 dated 14 September 1945. The citation reads - "Throughout two tours Squadron Leader Klersy has displayed outstanding leadership, courage and devotion to duty. Since the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross he has destroyed or damaged a further ninety enemy vehicles, eight locomotives and eight good trucks. He has also destroyed three more enemy aircraft bringing his total to at least ten enemy aircraft destroyed. This officer has moulded his squadron into a powerful operational unit that by maintaining a consistently high standard in every phase of ground or air activity has set a magnificent example to the rest of the wing." Detail provided by H: Halliday, Orleans, Ontario, and Judge W. W. Durham, Waterloo, Ontario.

Canada Source Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Canada Primary Source Library and Archives Canada Service Files (may not exist)

Supermarine Spitfire

Source: Harold A Skaarup Web Page (DND Photo)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VI, RCAF (Serial No. X4492), in flight, 26 Feb 1944.

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II. Many variants of the Spitfire were built, using several wing configurations, and it was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts; around 70 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world.

The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, which operated as a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong from 1928. Mitchell pushed the Spitfire's distinctive elliptical wing with cutting-edge sunken rivets (designed by Beverley Shenstone) to have the thinnest possible cross-section, helping give the aircraft a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane.

The Spitfire had detachable wing tips which were secured by two mounting points at the end of each main wing assembly. When the Spitfire took on a role as a high-altitude fighter (Marks VI and VII and some early Mk VIIIs), the standard wing tips were replaced by extended, "pointed" tips which increased the wingspan from 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m) to 40 ft 2 in (12.24 m). The other wing-tip variation, used by several Spitfire variants, was the "clipped" wing; the standard wing tips were replaced by wooden fairings which reduced the span by 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m). The wing tips used spruce formers for most of the internal structure with a light alloy skin attached using brass screws.

Due to a shortage of Brownings, which had been selected as the new standard rifle calibre machine gun for the RAF in 1934, early Spitfires were fitted with only four guns, with the other four fitted later. Early tests showed that, while the guns worked perfectly on the ground and at low altitudes, they tended to freeze at high altitude, especially the outer wing guns, because the RAF's Brownings had been modified to fire from an open bolt. While this prevented overheating of the cordite used in British ammunition, it allowed cold air to flow through the barrel unhindered. Supermarine did not fix the problem until October 1938, when they added hot air ducts from the rear of the wing-mounted radiators to the guns, and bulkheads around the gunbays to trap the hot air in the wing. Red fabric patches were doped over the gun ports to protect the guns from cold, dirt, and moisture until they were fired.

The first Rolls-Royce Griffon-engined Mk XII flew in August 1942, and first flew operationally with 41 Squadron in April 1943. This mark could nudge 400 mph (640 km/h) in level flight and climb to an altitude of 33,000 ft (10,000 m) in under nine minutes. As American fighters took over the long-range escorting of USAAF daylight bombing raids, the Griffon-engined Spitfires progressively took up the tactical air superiority role, and played a major role in intercepting V-1 flying bombs, while the Merlin-engined variants (mainly the Mk IX and the Packard-engined Mk XVI) were adapted to the fighter-bomber role. Although the later Griffon-engined marks lost some of the favourable handling characteristics of their Merlin-powered predecessors, they could still outmanoeuvre their main German foes and other, later American and British-designed fighters.Wikipedia

Wkikpedia Wikipedia Supermarine Spitfire

General Harold A Skaarup Web Page

YouTube YouTube How the Spitfire Became an Aviation Masterpiece

Kestrek Publications RCAF Supermarine Spitfire Serials - Kestrel Publications

CASPIR Aircraft Groups:
RCAF On Strength (8), RCAF 400 Squadron (175), Canadian Aircraft Losses (767)
last update: 2022-01-01 13:29:31

Spitfire Mk XIV RM785

airhistory.org.uk/spitfire

(Maris) 30MU 22-10-1944 401S 'T' 19-04-1945 crashed nr Wesel FACE 22-05-1945 S/Ldr Klersy killed


401 Sqn- Squadron Mors Celerrima Hostibus ("Ram")

History of the Squadron before and during World War II (Aircraft: Siskin III, Hurricane I, II, Spitfire Vb, IX, IXb)

The roots of the squadron go back to No 81 (Canadian) Squadron RAF in 1918. This squadron was authorized as No 1 Squadron CAF around November 20 of that year, and was disbanded on January 28, 1920. It was re-formed at Jericho Beach (Vancouver), BC on 1 April 1925, and flew forestry and fishery patrols with Curtiss HS-2L flying boats, until it was transferred to the non-military Directorate of Civil Government Air Operationson 1 July 1927, and its service designation lapsed. The squadron was re-created at Trenton, ON in 1937 as No 1 (Fighter) Squadron RCAF. At the time it was equipped with Armstrong Whitworth Siskin III biplane fighters. It moved to Calgary in August 1938 and was re-equipped with Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 fighter aircraft in February 1939. On the outbreak of WWII in September 1939 the squadron was mobilized at St Hubert, QC, before moving to Dartmouth, NS in November. It absorbed No 115 (Fighter) Squadron of the Auxiliary in Montreal before moving to Britain in May 1940. After its aircraft had been modified to make them battle-fit at Middle Wallop, Hampshire and Croydon, Surrey, the squadron joined No 11 Group of RAF Fighter Command at Northolt, Middlesex, in August 1940, and saw action in the Battle of Britain, claiming 30 aircraft destroyed, 8 probably destroyed and 34 damaged. In October 1940 the squadron moved to bases in Scotland before moving briefly to No 12 Group Fighter Command in Driffield, Yorkshire. On March 1st, 1941 it was renumbered No 401 (Fighter) Squadron RCAF, at Digby, Lincolnshire, UK as part of the Canadian Digby Wing of 12 Group. The Squadron code letters were YO.

In October 1941 the squadron became again part of 11 Group, flying from several bases in Kent, ending up in September 1942 as part of the Canadian Kenley Wing until January 1943. In February 1941 the squadron converted to Hawker Hurricane Mk II aircraft, then in September of 1941 to Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb. They flew different Marks of Spitfire for the rest of the war. During the period to early 1943, the squadron participated in fighter sweeps over France, and in RAMROD and RHUBARB operations. From January to May 1943 the squadron was rested at Catterick, Yorkshire and then it rejoined the Kenley Wing. In July 1943 Fighter Command was subsumed into the 2nd Tactical Air Force (TAF), and 401 Sqn was part of the No 126 (RCAF) Wing of No 83 Composite Group. Until June 1944 the squadron flew from Redhill, the Advanced Landing Ground at Staplehurst, Kent, Biggin Hill and Tangmere, Sussex where they continued fighter sweep and RAMROD operations. On and after D-Day the squadron patrolled the beachheads, and 12 days after D-Day the squadron moved to France, to No 4 Base at Beny-sur-Mer, Normandy. Thereafter until the cessation of hostilities the squadron’s Spitfires were employed in fighter and ground attack operations, moving from base to base through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and finally into Germany, as the armies moved northwards. The squadron was finally disbanded at Fassberg, Germany on 10 July 1945.

The squadron shot down 195 enemy aircraft, which made it the top-scoring squadron of the RCAF, and it was the leading squadron in the 2nd TAF with 112 air and 15 ground victories. It held the record for the most sorties flown (12,087). In October 1944 the unit recorded the first victory in the RAF/RCAF over a Me 262 jet fighter. Among the pilots there were 9 Aces (Squadron Leader W.T. Klersy DFC & Bar, Flight Lieutenant J. MacKay DFC & Bar, Flight Lieutenant D.R. Morrison DFC & DFM, Flying Officer G.D. Cameron DFC, Flying Officer J.P.W. Francis DFC, Flying Officer R.R. Bouskill, Flight Lieutenant G.W. Johnson DFC & Bar, Squadron Leader L.M. Cameron DFC, Flying Officer D.B. Dack). Several pilots also claimed triple victories in a single sortie. Aircrew operational losses were 61 pilots, of whom 6 were killed and 28 presumed dead. Aircrew were awarded 15 DFCs, 4 Bars to DFC and 1 DFM. Battle Honours were:Battle of Britain 1940, Defence of Britain 1940-44, English Channel and North Sea 1942, Fortress Europe 1941-44, Dieppe, France, Germany 1944-45Wikipedia, Kostenuk and Griffin

Maps for Movements of 401 Squadron 1940-45

MAP 1: No 1 Squadron RCAF Movements 1940-41 (right-click on image to display enlarged view in new tab)
MAP 2: 401 Squadron Movements in UK 1941-44
MAP 3: 401 Enlargement Detail of Map 2
MAP 4: 401 Squadron Movements in Europe 1944-45

401 Squadron History Summary 1940-45

401 Squadron History Summary 1940-45 Page 2

401 Squadron History Summary 1940-45 Page 3

401 Squadron History Summary 1940-45 Page 4

History of the Squadron Post-WWII (Aircraft: Vampire III, Sabre V, Expeditor, Otter, Kiowa, Hornet)

The squadron was reactivated as No 401 (F) Sqn (Aux) on 15 April 1946 at RCAF Station St. Hubert, Quebec . It was retitled ‘401 "City of Westmount" (F) Sqn (Aux)’ on September 4, 1952. The squadron flew de Havilland Vampire Mk. III and Canadair Sabre Mk. 5 aircraft in a fighter role until October 1958 when it was reassigned to a light transport and emergency rescue role, was re-designated '401 Squadron "City of Westmount" Sqn (Aux)' on November 1, 1958 and re-equipped with Beechcraft Expeditor and de Havilland Otter aircraft. The squadron was awarded a Squadron Standard on 5 May 1962. It was integrated into the Canadian Armed Forces as No 401 “City of Westmount” Air Reserve Squadron in January 1969. It was again re-designated '401 Helicopter Operational Training Squadron' on October 22, 1991. Flying the CH-136 Kiowa helicopter out of St. Hubert, Quebec. 401 Squadron was disbanded on June 23, 1996, after 55 years of operation.

The unit was reactivated as 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron on June 30, 2015, incorporating personnel from No 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, flying the CF-18 Hornet aircraft. It celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2018. Its first deployment was to Kuwait for offensive operations during Operation Impact, which is part of the Canadian Government’s approach to the Middle East. The reformed 401 Squadron complements the duties of 409 Tac F Sqn and, assisted by 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron, deploys tactical fighter forces to meet Canadian and allied defence needs. It is based at Cold Lake, Alberta as part of RCAF 4 Wing. Under the umbrella of the NORAD mission, fighter crews are on stand-by 24/7 ready to respond to any aerospace threat.

General Government of Canada RCAF Website

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