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Armstrong, George Christopher (Flight Lieutenant)

Prisoner of War 1943-04-19

Male Head


417 (F) Sqn- Squadron
Supporting Liberty and Justice
RAF Ben Gardane, Tunisia
Pilot Officer
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
Service Numbers

Spitfire Mk Vb ES135

Combat 1943-April-19 to 1943-April-19

417 City of Windsor Squadron RCAF (Supporting Liberty and Justice) RAF Ben Gardane, Tunisia. Twelve Spitfires were escorting a group of Kittyhawks Northwest of Cap Bon, Tunisia when they were attacked by twenty or more ME109s that dove out of the sun. Four 417 Squadron Spitfires were shot down with one pilot killed in action and three pilots taken as Prisoners of War

Flight Lieutenant GC Armstrong (RCAF) survived and was taken as Prisoner of War

Please see aircraft serials ER 345, ER 364 and ER 343 for additional information

The RCAF Overseas, The First Four Years, page 333

General [Royal Air Force Serial and Image Database]...

417 (RCAF) Squadron was escorting a (RAF) Kittyhawk Squadron on an armed recce in the Cap Bon Tunis area.

Both formations were jumped by over 2 dozen enemy fighters and this aircraft was shot down. The pilot bailed out safely but was captured and made a POW.

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 Vb ES135


Used by No. 417 (F) Squadron, RCAF in the Middle East c.1942/43. Failed to return from escort mission on 19 April 1943.

39MU 10-11-1942 222S 21-11-1942 Guinean 30-11-1942 Takoradi 28-12-1942 Middle East 05-03-1943 417S Missing from Kittyhawk escort 19-04-1943

417 (F) Sqn- Squadron Supporting Liberty and Justice ("City of Windsor")

History of the Squadron during World War II (Aircraft: Hurricane Mks. IIB, IIC, Spitfire Mks. VB, VC, VIII, IXB)

No. 417 Squadron was the 16th RCAF squadron formed overseas in WWII. It was the seventh fighter squadron, and was formed at Charmy Down, Somerset, England in November 1941. After 4 months in England and Scotland, the squadron sailed to Egypt where it flew Hawker Hurricanes and, later, Supermarine Spitfires in the defence of the Suez Canal and the Nile Delta. It became the only Canadian squadron in the Desert Air Force, and provided air defence and ground support to the British Eighth Army as it advanced from El-Alamein to Tunisia. It was in Malta to support Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily in Jun-Jul 1943, and then provided support for the army in its campaign through Italy. It was disbanded at Treviso, Italy on June 30, 1945.

Overall the squadron flew 12,116 sorties. It claimed 29 enemy aircraft destroyed, 8 probables and 22 damaged, for the loss of 32 aircraft and 28 pilots of whom 7 were killed, 11 presumed dead, 8 were POW and 2 evaded capture. The squadron also accounted for many locomotives, rail cars, tanks and other vehicles. There was one ace among the pilots, Squadron Leader A.U. Houle, DFC & Bar. Squadron personnel were awarded 1 DSO, 1 Bar to DFC, 9 DFCs and 5 MiDs. Battle Honours were: Defence of Britain 1942, Egypt and Libya 1943-43, North Africa 1943, Sicily 1943, Italy 1943-45, Salrno, Anzio and Nettuno, Gustav Line, Gothic Line.Wikipedia, Kostenuk and Griffin

Maps for Movements of 419 Squadron 1942-45

MAP 1: 417 Squadron Movements in Britain 1941-42 (right-click on image to display enlarged in new tab)
MAP 2: 417 Squadron Movements in North Africa and Mediterranean Theatre
MAP 3: 417 Squadron Movements in Egypt 1942-43 (detail of Map 2)
MAP 4: 417 Squadron Movements in Tunisia and Sicily 1943 (detail of Map 2)
MAP 5: 417 Squadron Movements in Italy 1943-45 (detail of Map 2)

417 Squadron History Summary 1941-45

417 Squadron History Summary 1941-45 Page 2

417 Squadron History Summary 1941-45 Page 3

History of the Squadron Post-WWII (Aircraft: Mustang IV, Harvard II, Starfighter, Expeditor, Silver Star, Dragonfly, Huey, Iroquois, Griffon)

417 Squadron was reformed and disbanded twice since its original period of activity. The Squadron was reactivated on June 1, 1947 as a Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron at RCAF Station, Rivers, Manitoba , where it flew North American Mustangs and Harvards in the close air support role until August 1, 1948, when it was disbanded.

Twenty-two years later, in 1970, 417 Squadron was again reformed, but from the No. 6 (Strike and Reconnaissance) Operational Training Unit (OTU) at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta , which had been training pilots on the CF104 Starfighter since 1961. 417 continued as the CF104 OTU until the Squadron was disbanded in April 1983, as a result of the phasing out of the Starfighter.

During one of 417 Squadron's periods of inactivity, Base Flight at Cold Lake was formed on 24 August 1954. Its original reason for being was to provide a communications link to Edmonton, then five hours away by road. The Flight performed this with their first Aircraft, a Beechcraft Expeditor. In the process of expanding its role, Base Flight amassed a wide variety and number of aircraft, making it one of the largest and most active flying units in Canada's post-war Air Force. The fleet included H-5 (Dragonfly) and H-34 (Horse) helicopters, de Havilland Otters and the Douglas C-47 Dakotas, three of which were modified with nose cones to efficiently train upcoming CF 104 pilots on air intercept radar systems. Base Flight also employed the T-33 Silver Star as utility transport, airborne target trainer and as an air combat adversary. On the helicopter side, the main roles were, and still are, to rescue downed aircrew and to provide Medical Evacuation services (MEDEVAC) to both military and civilian communities. To fulfil these and other diverse roles, Base Flight added to the two original above-mentioned helicopters by receiving three UH-1 Huey or Iroquois helicopters and later, two CH-135 Twin Huey Aircraft. On April 1, 1993, 417 Squadron was re-formed again, incorporating the Base Flight plus aircraft servicing and maintenance elements of the Wing Maintenance organization.

The mission is now to provide helicopter support to 4 Wing, Cold Lake, by providing a dedicated on base Search and Rescue Unit. The unit’s primary role is to conduct Base rescue for the fighter units on base. Its secondary role is to augment the National Search and Rescue capability.

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