Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum logo

Irwin, Richard Phillip (Sergeant)

Evader 1944-June-13

Male Head

Birth Date: 1922-October-30 (age 21)

Born: Cork, Ireland

Home: Cork, Ireland

432 (B) Sqn- Squadron
Saeviter Ad Lucem Ferociously toward the light
East Moor
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
Senior AircraftmanSAC
Leading AircraftmanLAC
Aircraftman 1st ClassAC1
Aircraftman 2nd ClassAC2
Air Gunner (Rear)
Service Numbers

Halifax B.Mk.III MZ601

Bombing Cambrai France 1944-June-12 to 1944-June-13

432 (B) Sqn (RCAF) RAF East Moor

671 aircraft- 348 Halifaxes, 285 Lancasters, 38 Mosquitoes-of 4, 5, 6 and 8 Groups to attack communications, mostly railways, at Amiens/St-Roch, Amiens/Longueau, Arras, Caen, Cambrai and Poitiers. (It is interesting to note that, with the exception of Caen, all of these targets were the sites of well-known battles of earlier wars and Caen was soon to be the scene of fierce fighting,)

Bomber Command's records state that the Poittiers attack by Group 5 was the most accurate of the night and that the 2 raids at Amiens and the raid at Arras w, of reasonable accuracy. The target at Cambrai was hit but many bombs also fell the town. The most scattered attack (also by 5 Group) was at Caen.

23 aircraft - 17 Halifaxes and 6 Lancasters - were lost from these raids; all these losses were from 4 and 6 Groups. A Canadian airman, Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski from Winnipeg, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for bravery on the Cambrai raid. His Lancaster, of 419 Squadron, was attacked by night fighter and set on fire and the crew were ordered to abandon the aircraft. Mynarski was about to jump when he saw that the tail gunner was trapped in this turret and he went through fierce flames to help. The rear turret was so bac jammed that it could not be freed and the trapped gunner eventually waved Mynarski: away. By the time he left the aircraft, Mynarski's clothing and parachute were on fire and he died while being cared for by French civilians soon after he landed. The tail gunner was fortunate to survive the crash and his report on Mynarski's courage led to the award of the Victoria Cross. Pilot Officer Mynarski is buried in the srnall village cemetery at Meharicourt, east of Amiens.

source: The Bomber Command War Diaries, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt

Halifax III aircraft MZ 601 QO-A missing during a night trip to Cambrai, France, shot down by a combination of flak and night fighter attack. The crash location was not determined

P/O JA McElheran (RCAF), P/O GA Dieno (RCAF), P/O WL Blanchard (RCAF), P/O RL Botsford (RCAF), Sgt AL Mellor (RAFVR) and Sgt PM Steers (RAFVR) were all killed in action

Sgt JA Ludwig (RCAF) survived and was taken as Prisoner of War

Sgt RP Irwin (RAF)(Eire) survived and became an Evader

There were two 432 Squadron Halifax aircraft lost on this operation. Please see aircraft serial LW 616 QO-R for additional information

General Research of France-Crashes 39-45

General Halifax BIII MZ601 [Royal Air Force Serial and Image Database]...

Irwin evaded with the help of various underground operatives and a British agent, constantly being moved to avoid detection and capture, eventually being liberated by US Forces from a camp at Bellevaux, France,1944-09-08 and returned to the UK

RAF Evaders, The Comprehensive Story of Thousands of Escapers and Their Escape Lines, Western Europe, 1940-1945 by Oliver Clutton-Brock pages 285, 296 & 376

Google MapCork, Ireland
Google MapCambrai France

Halifax MZ601

Handley Page Halifax

(RAF Photo, 1942)(Source Harold A Skaarup Web Page)A Royal Air Force Handley Page Halifax Mk. II Series I (Serial No. W7676), coded TL-P, of No. 35 Squadron, RAF, based at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire in the UK, being piloted by Flight Lieutenant Reginald Lane, (later Lieutenant-General, RCAF), over the English countryside. Flt Lt Lane and his crew flew twelve operations in W7676, which failed to return from a raid on Nuremberg on the night of 28/29 August 1942, when it was being flown by Flt Sgt D. John and crew.

The Handley Page Halifax is a British Royal Air Force (RAF) four-engined heavy bomber of the Second World War. It was developed by Handley Page to the same specification as the contemporary twin-engine Avro Manchester.

The Halifax has its origins in the twin-engine HP56 proposal of the late 1930s, produced in response to the British Air Ministry's Specification P.13/36 for a capable medium bomber for "world-wide use." The HP56 was ordered as a backup to the Avro 679, both aircraft being designed to use the underperforming Rolls-Royce Vulture engine. The Handley Page design was altered at the Ministry to a four-engine arrangement powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine; the rival Avro 679 was produced as the twin-engine Avro Manchester which, while regarded as unsuccessful mainly due to the Vulture engine, was a direct predecessor of the famed Avro Lancaster. Both the Lancaster and the Halifax would emerge as capable four-engined strategic bombers, thousands of which would be built and operated by the RAF and several other services during the War.

On 25 October 1939, the Halifax performed its maiden flight, and it entered service with the RAF on 13 November 1940. It quickly became a major component of Bomber Command, performing routine strategic bombing missions against the Axis Powers, many of them at night. Arthur Harris, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Bomber Command, described the Halifax as inferior to the rival Lancaster (in part due to its smaller payload) though this opinion was not shared by many of the crews that flew it, particularly for the MkIII variant. Nevertheless, production of the Halifax continued until April 1945. During their service with Bomber Command, Halifaxes flew a total of 82,773 operations and dropped 224,207 tons of bombs, while 1,833 aircraft were lost. The Halifax was also flown in large numbers by other Allied and Commonwealth nations, such as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Free French Air Force and Polish forces. Wikipedia

YouTube Halifax Heavy Bomber WWII

General Harold A Skaarup Web Page

Wkikpedia Wikipedia Halifax Bomber

Museum National Air Force Museum of Canada

CASPIR Aircraft Groups:
RCAF On Strength (5), RCAF 6 Group (1596), RCAF 400 Squadron (1443), Canadian Aircraft Losses (1562), Canadian Museum(2)
last update: 2023-12-08 20:34:11

Halifax B.Mk.III MZ601

QORAF RoundelA

432 (B) Sqn Saeviter Ad Lucem ("Leaside")

History of the Squadron during World War II (Aircraft: Wellington X, Lancaster II, Halifax III, VII)

The Squadron was the twelfth RCAF bomber squadron to be formed overseas in WWII. It was formed on May 1, 1943 at Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, UK as a unit of No 6 (RCAF) Group of RAF Bomber Command: indeed, it was the first bomber squadron to be formed directly into No 6 Group. Using the squadron identification letters QO it flew Vickers Wellington Mk X medium bombers until it moved to East Moor, Yorkshire on 19th September 1943, when it re-equipped with Avro Lancaster Mk II aircraft. East Moor was part of No 62 (RCAF) Base. The squadron re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk III aircraft in February 1944, and with Halifax Mk VII in July of that year, and continued with them until the squadron was disbanded at East Moor on May 15, 1945.

In the course of operations the squadron flew 246 missions, involving 3130 individual sorties, for the loss of 73 aircraft. 8980 tons of bombs were dropped. Awards to squadron members included 2 DSOs, 119 DFCs,1 Bar to DFC, 1 CGM, 20 DFMs and 1 Croix de Guerre (France). Battle Honours were: English Channel and North Sea 1943, Fortress Europe 1943-44, France and Germany 1944-45, Biscay Ports 1944, Ruhr 1943-45, Berlin 1943-44, German Ports 1943-45, Normandy 1944, Rhine, Biscay 1943.Moyes, Kostenuk and Griffin

Squadron History (Bomber Command Museum PDF)

Maps for Movements of 432 Squadron 1943-45

MAP 1: 432 Squadron Bases 1943-45 (marked in green). Right-click on image to display enlarged in new tab

432 Squadron History Summary 1943-45

History of the Squadron Post-WWII (Aircraft: Canuck)

The squadron was re-formed at Bagotville, Quebec as an All-Weather Fighter unit on 1 October 1954. The squadron flew Avro CF-100 Canuck aircraft on North American Air Defence until it was disbanded on 15 October 1961.

© Canadian Warplane Heritage 2024

To search on any page:
PC — Ctrl-F
Mac — ⌘-F
Mobile — or …