LATTA, P/O John Blandford (42008) - Distinguished Flying
Cross - No.242 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette date 8 November 1940.
Pilot Officer Latta has destroyed eight enemy aircraft
in operations over France and this country. On one occasion his squadron
attacked a number of Messerschmitt 109s. This officer destroyed one and,
although his own aircraft had been hit in the wings and tail by cannon
shells, attacked and destroyed a second enemy aircraft. He has displayed
the utmost coolness in the midst of fierce combat.
Son of Lt.-Col. William S. Latta, D.S.O., & Bertha
A. Latta, Victoria
Born in Vancouver, 6 August 1914.
Private in 16th Canadian Scottish Regiment, 5 May '30 to 16 Feb.'33
Pupil Pilot, RAF, 6 March 1939 to 28 April 1939.
Appointed Acting Pilot Officer on Probation, RAF, 29 April 1939;
P/O on Probation, 6 November 1939;
Conformed in rank, 6 March 1940
Promoted to Flying Officer, 6 November 1940.
Served with No.242 Squadron, 6 Nov.'39 to 12 Jan.'41
Killed in Action along with Willie McKnight 12 January 1941
Airmen Who Met Huns During Battle of Britain
Way For Offensive
Some of Canada's First Aces of This War Still
Are in Action
— Pilots Now Seek Out Enemy Over His Own Territory
(Written for the Canadian Press by F/L Basil Dean, R.C.A.F.)
Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, Sept. 8, 1943 — (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. W/C B.D. Russel,
D.F.C., of Montreal, who now leads an RCAF 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.
Russell's old commanding officer, Ernie McNab,
now is G/C Ernest McNab, DFC, of Regina, commander of an RCAF
In Sicily, S/L Stanley Turner, DFC
and Bar, of Toronto, led the RCAF's City of Windsor fighter squadron
through the island campaign. In 1940, he was a flight commander in the
RAF's famed "all-Canadian" squadron led by W/C Douglas Bader, DSO, DFC, which destroyed
63 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and shared three with other
The squadron was composed mainly of Canadians who had joined the RAF
before the war, and fought nobly during the Battle of France and over
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 RAF" 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, DFC 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 "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, DFC.., Victoria, B.C., had knocked
down five enemy planes; F/L Turner had five; so had P/O N.K. Stansfeld,
DFC, Vancouver. P/O H.N. Tamblyn, DFC,
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,
Russell had destroyed an ME 109 and an ME 110 and had shared with a Polish
pilot the destruction of a third enemy fighter.
McNab, F/L G.R. McGregor and Russel were
each awarded the DFC, having destroyed between them, 11½ of
the squadron's total. McNab and McGregor now are both group captains;
Russell is a wing commander.
In other squadrons of the RAF, Canadians had also distinguished themselves.
One of the flight commanders in the RAF squadron was a Canadian, F/L
R.A. Barton, Kamloops, B.C., who later became
squadron commander of his unit. He was awarded the DFC 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, F/L (now Wing-Cmdr.) John Kent of
Winnipeg, was at that time a flight commander.
Victories Include :
|29 May 1940
31 May 1940
14 June 1940
10 July 1940
21 Aug 1940
9 Sept 1940
15 Sept 1940
27 Sept 1940
high of 9.33 / 0 / 0
[a] Landed at Manston with undercarriage retracted
following battle damage
[b] Spun out of control into the sea (Dunkirk)
[c] Near Paris (Combat Cards state there is no confirmation of these.
Shores however added the kills in Aces High Vol. 2
[d] May be unconfirmed
[e] Shared with Sub-Lt Gardner & F/L Powell-Sheddon (Norwich area)
[f] Destroyed in flames (his Hurricane damaged) near London / S Thames
[g] Destroyed in flames (Maidstone area)
[h] Destroyed in flames (his Hurricane damaged) 1 inland from Dover & 1 out
low of 6.33 / 0 / 0 with 3 unconfirmed
See H.A. Halliday, No.242 Squadron: The Canadian Years
(Canada's Wings, Stittsville, 1987)