wing 2nd Tactical Airforce - B116 airfield, Wunstorf
On May 5,
1945, four Canadian Spitfires flew what was almost certainly the last sortie
of World War II.
On the evening of May 4th, a message from 83 Group Headquarters for 126 Wing
was given to W/C Geof Northcott in the absence of C/O Group captain Gordon
McGregor in the officer's mess. Geof stood on a chair and read:
"From 83 Group Headquarters to all units - all hostilities on the
second front will cease at 0800 hours - tomorrow, May 5th, 1945."
A spontaneous cheer went up
and the festivities began, continuing well into the night. During the latter
part of said festivities, Wing Commander Geof Northcott decided to lead a
section of four on one last flight early in the morning.
At 6:30 he took off in his Mk IX (GW.N) with S/L Bill Klersey as his No. 2
in a MK IX of 401 Squadron. S/L Don "Chunky" Gordon was No. 3 in a
Spit XIV of 402 squadron and Chas W. "Charley" Fox was No. 4 in a
Mk IX of 412 squadron.
They looked everywhere for "The damned elusive Hun" for an hour
and forty-five minutes (unsuccessfully) and landed at Wunstorf at 0800, thus
ending "The Last Patrol"
Bill Klersey, D.S.O., D.F.C.
& Bar, C.O. of 401 Squadron, graduated in course 42 from # 6 S.F.T.S.,
Dunville, had a distinguished career as the 2nd top ace of 126 wing with a
score of 14 1/2.0.3 enemy aircraft destroyed. He was killed instantly on My
22, 1945, when he became separated from Don Laubman and Don Gordon, hitting
a hill in dense cloud near Wessel, Germany.
D.C. "Chunky" Gordon, D.F.C. & Bar, C.O. of 402
Squadron, remained in the R.C.A.F. after the war, serving in Washington for
a period of time. Earlier in his career as a fighter pilot, while flying
with 442 Sqd. of 126 Wing on New Year's day, 1945, he shot down two enemy
aircraft as part of 126 Wing's biggest day (24 aircraft destroyed). He was
wounded by a flak burst that damaged his aircraft so severely that he had to
crash land. Evidently, the doctors did not get all the shrapnel out of his
back and neck when he was hospitalized in Einhoven, Holland. He died in 1948
from his war wounds.
G.W. "Geof" Northcott, D.S.O., D.F.C.&
Bar, returned to civilian life and continued his flying career with Trans
Canada Airlines (Now Air Canada). The president of T.C.A. was none other
than 126 Wing's Commanding Officer, G/C Gordon McGregor who had gone
overseas with #1 Squadron from Montreal and flew during the Battle of
Britain. Geof also flew with the R.C.A.F. Reserve Fighter Squadron in
Vancouver, first as squdron C/O, then as C/O of the wing, retiring as a
Group Captain. Upon leaving Air Canada, he flew for a charter service. He
and his wife were avid equestrians, and unfortunately, while training one of
their horses, he recieved injuries from which he died at a relatively young
age some years ago.
Chas W. "Charley" Fox, D.F.C.
& Bar completed his year-long tour from January, 1944 to January,
1945 with 412 Squadron. After serving as a test pilot with 410 R.S.U., he
returned to 126 wing as operations officer in the intelligence section in
April of 1945. He moved with his wing from 88 at Neesh, Holland to various
airfields, ending at 174 near Hamburg in July, 1945. He returned to Canada
and civilian life and a career in retailing, which eventually led to London,
Ontario in 1952. Here he got back into flying with 424 Reserve Squadron, on
Harvards, Mustangs (P-51s) and the T-33 Jet Trainer.
In later years he pursued his
love of flying as a member and past
president of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association.
In recent years, Charley acted as ground control for Harvard Formation Flypasts
on special occasions for them. He also did colour commentaries at airshows
throughout the United States. and Canada.
Charley passed away in 2008.
HERE to read about Charley Fox's attack on Rommel