Squadron Leader And Two of His Pilots Awarded Coveted
Born in Montreal, 26 September
Died in Montreal, 8 March, 1971; see obituary in Montreal Gazette (9 March 1971) and Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Fall 1971. Medals with Canadian War Museum (AN 19750554-061); papers in National Archives of Canada.
McGREGOR, F/L Gordon Roy (C936) - Distinguished
Flying Cross - No.1 (C) Squadron
Award effective 25 October 1940 as per London Gazette of that date.
This officer has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft and has damaged many others. He has led his flights and frequently the squadron with gallantry and dash.
Montreal, Nov. 4, 1940 - (CP) - Acting Sqdn. Ldr. Gordon Roy McGregor, whose promotion to leader of a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter squadron in Britain was learned at the Air Ministry in Ottawa today, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross last month with two other members of the squadron.
The other two gaining the award were Flying Officer Dal Russel of Montreal and Sqdn. Ldr. Ernest McNab, whom McGregor succeeds as leader of the squadron. McNab has been promoted to acting wing commander.
Before the war McGregor was three times winner of the John Webster Memorial Trophy awarded annually to the foremost amateur aviator in Canada. He trained with the R.C.A.F. at Trenton and served with the Atlantic seaboard patrol before going overseas early last summer.
Born in Montreal in 1901, he is well known in sport circles in Montreal and in Ottawa and Kingston. He is a former President of the Kingston Flying Club and a member of the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club in Montreal and the Ottawa Badminton Club.
By H. R. ARMSTRONG
Ottawa, Sept. 19, 1941— Canadian fliers are now fighting in Russia, Wing, Commander Gordon McGregor, D.F.C., just home from overseas, revealed at a press conference here today.
There are a number of Canadians with the R.A.F. which has flown to the aid of the Soviets, stated McGregor, Montreal airman, who succeeded Wing Commander Ernest McNab as head of No. 1 fighter squadron, R.C.A.F. in Britain.
"It is difficult to find a single R.A.F. squadron now which hasn't its quota of Canadians," he stated. "The proportion is increasing as more airmen graduate from the commonwealth training plan in the Dominion."
Wing Commander McGregor also disclosed that four R.C.A.F. fighter squadrons are taking part in the terrific attack on Nazi-held points in occupied France. The first Canadian fighter squadron took part in cross-channel air offensives early last spring, he said.
In addition, two squadrons of R.C.A.F. are engaged entirely in night fighting in England, McGregor stated. Two others of the R.C.A.F., mainly on day duty, are also equipped to aid in night engagements against Nazi air raiders and help out when needed in this type of combat.
Over England, the continental coast and now in Russia, Canadians are taking an increasingly large part in the air war against the enemy.
McGREGOR, W/C Gordon Roy (C936) - Mention in Despatches
- No.402 Squadron
Award effective 25 September 1941 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 1292/41 dated 7 November 1941. No citation in AFRO.
Repeated in AFRO 1378/41 dated 21 November 1941.
Winnipeg, March 2, 1942 - (CP) — Wing Commander
J. A. (Alex) Kent of Winnipeg, member of a Royal
Air Force squadron that shot down numerous Nazi planes during raids and
over the Channel, said here today that Wing Commander Mark (Hilly) Brown
of Glenboro, Man., killed in action, "was one of the best fighter
pilots in the R.A.F. and still heads the list of Canadian aces" in
Speaking before members of the Canadian Club, Wing Commander Kent told of how the Manitoban distinguished himself in several actions against the enemy as flight commander in the R.A.F.'s No. 1 Fighter Squadron.
Other Canadians whom he named as great fighters were members of No. 1 Canadian Fighter Squadron — Wing Commander E. A. McNab, Regina; Wing Commander Gordon McGregor and Squadron Leaders Dal Russel, Hartland Molson and Paul Pitcher, all from Eastern Canada.
He told how he and other British pilots drilled a squadron of Polish pilots. "One day the Polish squadron was practicing intercepting enemy raiders when they actually ran into a lot of Nazi planes. The fighters gathered around and got the trainees out of trouble except for one Polish airman, who dashed across, shot down a Dornier 17 and then rejoined the squadron (According to post-war research, the plane misidentified as a Do 17 by Paszkiewicz was a Messerschmitt Bf 110). The R.A.F. officers thought it was just lucky.
The next day however, the Poles shot down six Messerschmitts for no loss. Then the R.A.F. officers decided the Poles had trained enough and the squadron was allowed to go into action, which they did with a vengeance. Flying Hurricanes, the Poles shot down 130 enemy planes in the next six weeks," Wing Commander Kent said.
By FLYING OFFICER BASIL DEAN, R.C.A.F.
London, July 17, 1942 — Canada's first fighter squadron to proceed overseas — the only R.C.A.F. unit to serve during the Battle of Britain — has just celebrated its second anniversary. It was two years ago in June that the squadron landed in Great Britain.
Since that day, it has carved out a fine name for itself in the Battle of Britain. It accounted for a considerable number of German raiders, and since then took a leading part in the great daylight sweeps over Northern France which Fighter Command has been staging during the summers of 1941 and 1942.
Today it is commanded by Squadron Leader Keith Hodson of London, Ont., former chief instructor at the service flying school in Moncton, N.B., with 2,000 flying hours in his log book. A former commanding officer, who was moved recently, is Squadron Leader A. G. Douglas, an R.A.F. pilot who was awarded the D.F.C. for his work with the squadron. Two other members of the squadron got D.F.C.s at the same time — Flight Lieutenant Eugene (Jeep) Neal of Quebec City and Flight Lieutenant Ian (Ormie) Ormston of Montreal. Seven decorations in all have been awarded to members of the squadron.
Two Squadrons Merge
The squadron was born from the amalgamation of two pre-war Canadian squadrons, No. 1, which was based at Calgary, and No. 115, which had its headquarters at Montreal. The boys first got together on the boat early in June, and by the time they landed at an English port were fairly well acquainted. First, they were at "A" for a couple of days after landing, and then went to a station in the vicinity of "B" for three weeks. July 7 saw them at "X," not far from London. It was at the latter station, they say, that "we found out what the war was all about."
A day or two before they were scheduled to leave for still another station Jerry came over to leave his visiting card with the Canadians.
"That night we really got a pasting," the veteran members of the squadron recall. There were no casualties, however, although a bomb went right through the orderly room. Some members of the squadron will tell you that this bomb was the only "good" one the Nazis have dropped in the whole war. It destroyed, it seems, many squadron records, including the crime sheets. All petty offenses any one had committed prior to that date, therefore, were wiped out and forgotten.
The squadron moved on to another station according to schedule, however, and it was at this new station, Aug. 26, that it first went into combat as a unit. A few days previously Squadron Leader (now Group Captain) Ernest McNab, who later won the D.F.C., Went on an operational trip with another squadron "just to see what it was like," and managed to shoot down an enemy aircraft. The first action as a squadron, however, was on Aug. 26 and it was the date they lost their first pilot, Flying Officer Robert L. Edwards.
It was a grand record for the first time out, however. The squadron was ordered to intercept twenty-five enemy bombers raiding Britain, and they did so with a vengeance. They destroyed three DO-215’s and damaged three others, and pretty well broke up, the formation.
In the show that day were a number of pilots whose names have since become bywords in Canada in this war. There were Flight Lieutenants G. R. McGregor, A. Dean Nesbitt and V. B. Corbett, and Flying Officers Jean Paul Desloges, H. de M. Molson and D. B. Russel. Including the squadron leader, six of these men now wear the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Two of the first Focke-Wulfe 190's shot down by Allied airmen went to the credit of the squadron on Nov. 22, when the total score was four destroyed, one probable and four damaged. On that day Flight Lieutenant Ian Ormston, later to become a flight commander and holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, got his first enemy aircraft. It was the first aerial combat, too, for another who was to become a Flight Commander with a D.F.C., Flight Lieutenant E. L. (Jeep) Neal. Flying Officer H. A. (Hank) Sprague was reported missing in that day's operations, and is now a prisoner of war.
Then on Feb. 12 of this year the squadron took part in the "Scharnhorst do," up the English Channel, and in this affair raised a score of two destroyed and two damaged. Many times, this spring and early summer, they have gone out over the Channel or over France without seeing an enemy. At other times he has fled home.
While many former members have gone to other squadrons, the "Newcomers" still carry on. There is Sergeant Don Morrison of Toronto, who has destroyed two enemy aircraft and helped destroy another, besides between two and three damaged on his board. There is Ian Ormston, who destroyed two and helped destroy another, besides a probable and a damaged. And there are many others.
Unity, born of historic good-neighborliness is flying
the foggy and storm-swept skies of Alaska and its Aleutian islands and
that unity is grim foreboding to the Japanese invaders of the United States'
and Canada's continental home.
The first retaliatory blows have been struck. Their might will mount in strength and tempo.
Wing-tip to wing-tip the aerial warriors of the United States and the Royal Canadian Air Force will battle the last Jap from the Aleutians — and beyond.
Although they retain their identity and cherished traditions, the Royal Canadian Air Force units in Northwestern Alaska and the Aleutians operate under United States command directing that sphere of operations under the United Nations' unified command.
And their services and fighting ability are valued highly. Their role in defence of Alaska's shores and the mounting offence is a vital one.
Those have been days of long and arduous patrols. Those have been days of dangerous flying not without their human cost. The job has been done and done well under terrific weather handicaps.
Canada's flyers have shared in the tribulations of those days with their American comrades.
But the offensive blows are increasing in tempo. The Royal Canadian Air Force is sharing in that too.
Already Japanese flyers and ground troops have fallen before the deadly fire of Canadian pilots flying in complete operational cooperation with United States forces.
The first Japanese Zero encountered by a Canadian crashed into the seas off Kiska after its pilot challenged the ability of the veteran fighter, Squadron Leader K. A. Boomer, Ottawa.
While they are under the direction of the United States in their operational work, the R.C.A.F. units are headed by one of the service's most experienced and popular officers.
One of the heroes of the battle of Britain, Group-Captain G. R. McGregor, D.F.C., is carrying wide experience with him into the battle of the Aleutians and Northwestern Alaska.
Morale is high among Canada's airmen in Northwestern Alaska. They speak glowingly of the cooperation and kindnesses of their American allies, the friendliness between all ranks and the quality of the fishing.
Alaskans too, have taken them to their hearts. There's no distinction made between the Canadian and the American by the hardy settlers of that far northern country. Canadian boys who have spent short leaves on hiking trips through the country also report meeting many former Canadians.
Credited officially with shooting down ten German aircraft in the last Great War, Group Captain G. E. Nash of Welland, who finally was shot down himself by the vaunted German ace Baron Von Richthofen, is now senior personnel staff officer at No. 3 Training Command, R.C.A.F., at Montreal.
A former president of the Welland Rotary club, Group Captain Nash was raised to his present rank on taking over his new duties at Montreal. At the outbreak of war he was posted to No. 3 Manning Depot, Toronto, as flight lieutenant.
In the last war, he enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service in 1915 and was attached to No. 10 Naval Squadron of the old flying corps in France. He was one of the five fighter pilots who made up the Black Flight Squadron under Flight Cmdr. Sir Raymond Collishaw, now in service with the R.A.F. Group Captain Nash was a prisoner of war for 18 months.
McGREGOR, G/C Gordon Roy, DFC (C936)
Officer, Order of the British Empire - Western Air Command
Award effective 1 January 1943 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 55/43 dated 15 January 1943.
Group Captain McGregor has performed exceptional work as Officer Commanding the RCAF Wing in Alaska. He is vigorous and enthusiastic in all he undertakes and by his very manner inspires confidence in all those serving with him. Group Captain McGregor has had vast experience as a fighter pilot overseas and is particularly outstanding in the direction of air fighting operations. By virtue of his extensive experience he has rendered excellent service and advice which has contributed in no small measure to the successful protection of the Alaskan area. He is required to provide close co-operation with the United States Armed Forces in Alaska and has been commended by the Chief of the United States Forces in Alaska for his ability as an organizer in connection with operational duties.
(Written for the Canadian Press by Flt.Lt. Basil Dean,
Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, Sept. 8, ‘43.— (CP)—There are still some of the few left, some of those hard-fighting combat pilots of Battle of Britain days, but mostly it is a new brood of pilots who fly from the air bases hereabouts in Britain's Fighter Command. Three years ago, when the first few of Canada's aerial aces were fighting their way to fame, the battles were over British soil. Now, with greater numbers of Canadians than ever before in Fighter Command, the pilots are going out to seek the enemy over his own territory. This air fighting of today is offensive, not defensive, as during the Battle of Britain, but it was the fighting then that made the current offensive possible.
Some Still Flying
Some of the Canadians who fought with honour and glory in those grim days three years ago are still flying. Wing-Cmdr. D. B. Russel, D.F.C., of Montreal, who now leads an R.C.A.F. Spitfire wing in Britain, was then P.O. Dal Russel and a member of Canada's No. 1 Fighter Squadron, which arrived in England in June, 1940—just in time to get trained for the fierce tests of August and September of that year.
Russel's old commanding officer, Ernie McNab, now is Group Capt. Ernest McNab, D.F.C., of Regina, commander of an R.C.A.F. fighter station.
In Sicily, Squadron-Ldr. Stanley Turner, D.F.C. and Bar, of Toronto, led the R.C.A.F.'s City of Windsor fighter squadron through the island campaign. In 1940, he was a flight commander in the R.A.F.’s famed "all-Canadian" squadron led by Wing-Cmdr. Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C., which destroyed 63 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and shared three with other squadrons.
The squadron was composed mainly of Canadians who had joined the R.A.F. before the war, and fought nobly during the Battle of France and over Dunkerque.
Its achievements during the Battle of Britain, indeed, brought from the air officer commanding of the group in which it was serving at the time a message which said that its efficiency as a squadron was "equal, if not superior, to any squadron in the R.A.F." The British chief of air staff signaled: "You are well on top of the enemy and obviously the fine Canadian traditions of the last war are safe in your hands."
Greatest pilot of the "all-Canadian" squadron — apart from the legless commander, Bader (who was not Canadian) — was P.O. W. L. McKnight, D.F.C. and bar, of Calgary, who was reported missing some months after the Battle of Britain ended. McKnight destroyed 16½ enemy aircraft, and was the first Canadian ace of the war.
The "all-Canadian" squadron's first Battle of Britain engagement was August 30, when Bader, now a prisoner of war, led a formation of 14 Hurricanes against a "vast number" of German aircraft, two swarms of 70 to 100 each. Detaching one section to investigate a third formation of aircraft some distance away, Bader led the rest of his pilots to the attack. As a result, 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed; not one of the Hurricanes had so much a scratch.
Similar engagements followed. On September 7, Bader and his Canadians destroyed 10 enemy aircraft without losing a pilot, although seven of the squadron's Hurricanes were damaged. On September 19, when the wing in which the squadron was flying destroyed a total of 18 enemy aircraft, the "all-Canadians" were credited with 11 of these for the loss of one pilot killed.
And then, in the greatest day's fighting of all on September 15, the squadron destroyed 12 enemy aircraft. This was the day on which Bader described the fighting as "the finest shamble I've ever been in."
"The sky," he added, "was full of Hurricanes and. Spitfires, queuing up and pushing each other out of the way to get at the Dormers. I was seldom able to hold my sights on a target for long for fear of colliding with other Spitfires and Hurricanes anxious to get in a burst."
Among the Canadians P.O. J. B. Latta, D.F.C., Victoria, B.C., had knocked down five enemy planes; Flt.-Lt. Turner had five; so had P.O. N. K. Stansfeld, D.F.C., Vancouver. P.O. H. N. Tamblyn, D.F.C., North Battleford, Sask., and P.O. N. Hart had four each. Altogether Canadian pilots in the squadron had destroyed 45 of the total of 65 credited to the squadron; Bader had scored 11.
Canada's own No. 1 fighter squadron, which although its personnel have completely changed; is still flying in Britain with fighter command, had scored a total of 31 victories during the battle under McNab's leadership. McNab himself had scored the first victory to be credited to a member of the squadron when, in order to gain combat experience, he flew as a supernumerary officer with an R.A.F. squadron before No. 1 fighter was ready for front-line duties.
In the squadron's first engagement as a unit, on August 24, it destroyed three Dorniers for the loss of one pilot. By the end of its first week in action it had destroyed eight enemy aircraft for the loss of one pilot killed. The score continued to mount until September 27, when the Canadian squadron destroyed seven enemy aircraft out of about 70 engaged during the day; one pilot of the squadron was killed. In the day's first fight, Russel had destroyed an ME 109 and an ME 110 and had shared with a Polish pilot the destruction of a third enemy fighter.
McNab, Flt.Lt. G.R. McGregor and Russel were each awarded the D.F.C., having destroyed between them, 11½ of the squadron's total. McNab and McGregor now are both group captains; Russel is a wing commander.
In other squadrons of the R.A.F., Canadians had also distinguished themselves. One of the flight commanders in the R.A.F. squadron was a Canadian, Flt-Lt. R. A. Barton, Kamloops, B.C., who later became squadron commander of his unit. He was awarded the D.F.C. for his "outstanding leadership" on September 27, a day on which the squadron destroyed 21 enemy aircraft for the loss of two pilots killed. The total bag during September was 48, a total exceeded only by the famous No. 303 Polish squadron, in which another Canadian, Flt.-Lt. (now Wing-Cmdr.) John Kent, Winnipeg, was at that time a flight commander.
With the RCAF inBelgium, Sept. 12, 1944 - (CP) - Security
regulations were relaxed today to permit disclosure that at least three
Canadian fighter squadrons — the Wildcat, Nomad and City of Ottawa
— are flying from mobile Belgian bases and taking a heavy toll of
German shipping and road traffic in the Rhineland.
Flying rocket-firing Typhoons, the Canadians are under the command of G/C G. R. McGregor, DFC, of Montreal, a veteran of the Battle of Britain, and were the first airmen to attack German territory with their rockets.
This occurred while they were shooting up German shipping on the Rhine, and their first flight against Germans was led by F/O Royce Johns of Saskatoon. The Canadians left two tugs smoking on the Rhine after hitting them with cannon-fire.
"Everything looked peaceful until we opened up," said Johns. "We had to fly through a curtain of flak and then we left in a hurry."
Nomad Squadron members, commanded by S/L Jack Berines of Tothill, Alta., after their first attack on German targets Thursday, reported streams of refugees marching toward the Netherlands border from Germany.
While the Nomads were making their first flight, two other RCAF dive-bomber squadrons attacked enemy transportation near the German border of the Netherlands. One, the City of Ottawa under S/L William Pentland of Calgary, damaged two trains.
An Advanced R.C.A.F. Airfield in Holland, Dec. 18, 1944
- (CP) - Fliers of a Canadian Spitfire wing under Group Capt. G. R. McGregor
and Wing Cmdr. Dal Russel, both of Montreal,
became the second to pass the 200 mark in German aircraft destroyed since
the wing’s formation, when they shot down a pair of FW190's over
Geldern in Germany.
First to establish the mark was the wing commanded jointly by Group Capt. W. R. MacBrien of Ottawa, and Wing Cmdr. Johnny Johnson, whose fliers shot down five aircraft Oct. 8, raising their total to 202, and subsequently to 207. The McGregor-Russel wing's total stands at 201.
The two Canadian units have destroyed 314 Huns between them since D-Day, scored more than 15 probables and damaged upwards of 200. In addition to crippling German road and rail transport with dive-bombing, as well as machine-gun and cannon offensives.
The first Jerry destroyed by McGregor-Russel pilots, July 19, 1943, was a FW190, joint victim of Sqdn. Ldr. Ian Ormston of Montreal, and Sqdn. Ldr. Bob Hayward of St. John's, Nfld. Since then many aces have been born within the wing. The most recent being Flt. Lt. Don Laubman, of Edmonton, with 15 destroyed; Sqdn. Ldr. R. I. Smith, Regina, 11 destroyed; Flt. Lt. W. J. Banks and F.O. D. R. Jamieson, both of Toronto, each with eight destroyed.
McGREGOR, G/C Gordon Roy (C936) - Mention in Despatches
Award effective 1 January 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 337/45 dated 23 February 1945.
McGREGOR, G/C Gordon Roy, OBE, DFC (C936) - Mention
in Despatches - Overseas
Award effective 1 January 1946 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 322/46 dated 29 March 1946.
McGREGOR, G/C Gordon Roy (C936)
Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords (Netherlands)
Awarded 12 September 1947 as per AFRO 485/47 of that date and
Canada Gazette dated 20 September 1947.
Offer and citation communicated 9 December 1946
in letter from Air Marshal Robert Leckie (Chief of Air Staff) to Minister of National Defence.
As commander of an RAF [sic] wing this officer has very greatly contributed to the liberation of the Netherlands in the period between July 1944 and the summer of 1945, thanks to his courageous and meritorious conduct on the land and in the air.
Public Records Office Air 2/9140 has recommendation as cleared by Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee:
Group Captain McGregor commanded No.126 Wing from July 1944 to October 1945. No.126 Wing had the most outstanding successes in combat against the enemy of any Wing on the continent. Group Captain McGregor's outstanding ability and inspiring leadership played no small part in attaining these unparalleled successes. The very fine fighting pitch which was attained in the Wing in the battles of Falaise Gap was maintained through the subsequent advance through Holland, and Group Captain McGregor's personal example and leadership was responsible for their outstanding achievements.
McGREGOR, G/C Gordon Roy, OBE, DFC (C936) - Croix
de Guerre with Silver Star (Fr)
Award as per AFRO 485/47 dated 12 September 1947.
Ottawa, Jan. 23, 1948 - (CP) - Recognizing the co-operation
between Canadian and Czech fliers during the war, Czechoslovakia has conferred
decorations on 21 serving and retired members of the RCAF, it was announced
The Czechoslovak War Cross, 1939, was awarded to five officers, all of whom served in the Battle of Britain. The Czech Medal for Bravery went to 12 others, while four officers won the Czech Medal of Merit, 1st Class.
Wing Cmdr. P. S. Turner of Toronto, who served with the RAF in the Battle of France, Dunkerque and the Battle of Britain, won both the War Cross and the medal for Bravery.
Already a holder of the DSO and the DFC, he destroyed 14 enemy aircraft and for a time commanded the City of Windsor Squadron No. 417 at Malta. Later he headed No. 244 Wing and then transferred to the RCAF. He now is stationed at the Joint Air School at Rivers, Man. Other winners of the War Cross are: Group Capt. G. R. McGregor of Montreal and Winnipeg; Group Capt. E. A. McNab of Regina; Sqdn. Ldr. B. E. Christmas of St. Hilaire, Que., and FO. B. D. Russel of Montreal.
There were no citations accompanying the awards, presented in each case to Canadians associated in some way with the Czech war effort.
Group Capt. McNab, 41, a son o£ a former Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan, was the first Canadian flier to receive an award in the Second Great War. That was on Oct. 4, 1940. Following service overseas, he returned to Canada and commanded No. 4 Service Flying Training School in Saskatchewan.
Group Capt. McGregor was among the first three RCAF pilots to get the DFC. A fighter pilot like the others who won the War Cross, he headed an overseas fighter station, saw service in the Aleutians, and later commanded No. 126 Wing.
FO. Russel, who holds his present title as a member of the auxiliary air force in Montreal, formerly was an acting wing commander and led a wing overseas.
McGREGOR, G/C Gordon Roy (C936) - War Cross, 1939
Canada Gazette dated 24 January 1948, AFRO 81/48 dated 6 February 1948.
|1 Do 17
1 Do 17
1 Do 17
1 Me 110
1 He 111
1 He 111
1 Ju 88
1 Me 109
2 Do 17s
1 Me 109
1 Me 109
|NE of North Weald
Near Biggin Hill
Near East Grinstead
SE of Gatwick
SE of London
Kenley-Biggin Hill area,
Gatwick area &
Biggin Hill area
South of Brooklands
5 / 2 / 5
[a] Confirmed & excavated in 1977
--- Canadian Aces ---
On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources, newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) as well as other sources both published and private