Story Finally Told
Ottawa, Jan. 30. — (CP) — The R.C.A.F., announcing
award of the Distinguished Service Order to Wing-Cmdr. Gordon L. Raphael,
of Quebec, made public today an interview with the leader of one of Britain's
foremost night-fighter squadrons in which he told about the time early
in the war when his plane was forced down in the North Sea.
Wing Cmdr. Raphael had just been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
for operations in bombers.
"I stuck my neck out," he said, "I was feeling so good
about getting a gong that I asked to be allowed to fly again the next
night, although it wasn't my turn. We were going after an oil refinery,
and our machine was first over the target to drop incendiaries and light
it up for the later arrivals.
"On the way back, we were attacked by a Jerry over the North Sea.
He shot out both my engines and busted the hydraulic system, but my rear
gunner got him and he went down in flames.
"We had to land in the sea; that made a couple of 'first times' on
this trip. It was the first time a Whitley had shot down an enemy night
fighter, and the first time a Whitley had been put down in the sea with
all the crew unhurt.
"My crew really got out in a hurry when we hit the water. I was a
bit slower because I’d discovered that a bullet from the enemy's
guns had gone through both my feet. However, we got the dinghy out and
didn't discover until later that we had it upside down.
"We were picked up by a British destroyer and I spent a couple of
comfortable days in the sick bay. When I got ashore, I had to spend three
"That was a bit annoying; it meant I missed a lot of good shows."
Son of Dr. Howard Raphael and Pearl Raphael;
husband of Dorothy Pamela Raphael, of Bournemouth, Hampshire
Born in Brantford, Ontario, 25 August 1915;
educated in Quebec City;
went to England, 1934, to attend
College of Aeronautical Engineers, Chelsea, England.
Enlisted in RAF Reserve, September 1935;
appointed Acting Pilot Officer on Probation, 20 January 1936;
with No.77 Squadron at outbreak of war until 19 May 1940
with No.10 Squadron, 16 July 1940 to approximately 23 Sept 1940
with No.85 Squadron, 7 May 1941 to January 1943;
ferried Boston BZ338 to Britain, April 1943;
commanded Castle Camps and then Manston.
Killed 10 April 1945 when his Spitfire collided with a Dakota.
See Epics of the Fighting RAF, pp.130-132.
According to Chris Shores, Aces High (second edition),
Raphael was a "severe leader" who neither smoked nor drank
and disapproved of these actions in others. He nevertheless was
admired for other qualities.
Specifically listed in AFRO 1292/41 dated 7 November
1941 as a Canadian in the RAF who had been decorated as of that
date; AFRO 373/43 dated 5 March 1943 (reporting his DSO) and AFRO
765/45 dated 4 May 1945 (reporting his death) also described him
as a Canadian in the RAF.
Select British Aviators Here For Training Jobs
Group of 150 Officers and Airmen Report Hazardous Trip
— Two Ships Sunk
January 25, 1940. A group of 150 of Britain's best air officers and airmen
reached Toronto today after a hazardous ocean crossing. They came by train,
after 13 officers had been dropped off at Trenton and Camp Borden to fill
their assignments at the advanced training posts.
Seven of the officers will remain here. Nineteen other officers and 124
men have gone on to the training center at St. Thomas.
The 164 airmen reached Canada safely, though the ship ahead of them in
the convoy, and the ship that followed them, were both sunk either by
mine or bomb.
The group is under the command of Group Captain P. H. Mackworth, who piloted
one of the R.A.F. planes that took part in the 1926 flight from London
to Cape Town.
FOURTEEN TO TRENTON
To R.C.A.F. Station, Trenton: Squadron Leader C. Lloyd, Flying Officer
W. J. Ralphs, Flying Officer J. McG. Fitch, Squadron Leader H. Y. Humphreys,
Squadron Leader J. McLaughlin, Squadron Leader C. B. Hughes, Flight Lieut.
S. C. Black, Flying Officer H. J. Maxwell-Luller, Squadron Leader R. T.
Gething, Squadron Leader N. G. Goodman, Flying Officer K. Petrie, Flying
Officer S. Mirylee, Flying Officer R. B. Harris, Flying Officer G. L.
Canada's Airmen Show Themselves Fit Successors
to Flyers of Great War Days
Feb. 10, 1942 - Canada's fighting airmen have "proved
themselves fitting and worthy successors to the great Canadian airmen
of a generation ago— to Bishop, Barker, Collishaw, and many other
great Canadian aces— garnering through their gallant exploits 157
awards for bravery and distinguished conduct under fire during less than
two and one half years of aerial warfare.
Of this number, three important awards came to Hamiltonians. Pilot Officer
Warring Laird Jennings was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Group
Captain Archibald Patrick Campbell was mentioned in dispatches, and Sgt.
James Bain won the Distinguished Flying Medal.
In a story released by the public relations branch of the R.C.A.F. today,
it is reported that three Brantford residents and one from Niagara Falls
also have received important awards.
Squadron-Ldr. Gordon L. Raphael of Brantford, received the D.F.C. and
bar, Flying Officer Peter J. Valachos received the D.F.C., and Sgt. Douglas
Martin received the D.F.M.
A Niagara Falls native, Squadron-Ldr. Lloyd Gilbert Schwab,
was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
One hundred and thirty-three decorations, including 94 D.F.C.s and 12
bars to this award, have been won by Canadians serving with the Royal
Air Force, while the men of the R.C.A.F. serving abroad and at home have
won 24 awards, of which ten are D.F.C.s and nine Distinguished Flying
Medals. The former decoration is given only to officers and the latter
to non-commissioned officers and to airmen. Not included in the 157 total
are 12 mentioned in dispatches.
RCAF MEMBERS RECEIVE AWARDS
Wing-Cmdrs. Gordon L. Raphael and Paul Davoud
Ottawa, Jan. 30, 1943. – (CP) – The R.C.A.F. today announced
awards of the Distinguished Service Order to Wing-Cmdr. Gordon L. Raphael,
of Quebec, and of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Wing-Cmdr. Paul Davoud,
of Kingston, Ont., both commanders of night-fighter squadrons in Britain.
Heads "Dawn Patrol"
Wing-Cmdr. Raphael, who already held the D.F.C. and bar, leads a squadron
which is the successor to the famous "Dawn Patrol" Squadron
commanded in the First Great War by Air Marshal W. A. (Billy) Bishop,
now director of recruiting for the R.C.A.F.
The citation for the D.S.O. said: "Since being awarded a bar to the
Distinguished Flying Cross, Wing-Cmdr. Raphael has destroyed three enemy
aircraft at night. By his inspiring leadership, great skill and untiring
efforts he has contributed in a large measure to the high morale and operational
efficiency of the squadron he commands.
The citation for Wing-Cmdr. Davoud, former bush pilot, airline pilot and
traffic manager, widely known in the north, read. "This officer has
been engaged on night-flying operations for more than a year. He is a
skilful pilot whose fine example and inspiring leadership have been worthy
of high praise."
Wing-Cmdr. Raphael, 27, has commanded Air Marshal Bishop's "Dawn
Patrol" Squadron of the last war since early summer last year. Since
he joined it, he has accounted for eight German aircraft certainly destroyed,
all during night operations over Britain.
"Raffy" was born in Quebec. In 1934 he went to England to study
at the College of Aeronautical Engineering in Chelsea, but gave up aeronautical
designing to fly. He took a short service commission in the R.A.F. in
He was on bombers early in the war and was on the first "leaflet,
raid" of the war—over the Ruhr.
Bombs from his plane were the first to hit the German base at Sylt during
this war. He is married with a wife and son in England.
Wing-Cmdr. Davoud was born in Utah, but made his home in Kingston. His
wife now lives in Montreal. He is a graduate of Royal Military College
and Queen's University.
RAPHAEL, F/O Gordon Learmouth (37508) - Mention in Dispatches - No.77 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 20 February 1940.
No citation to MiD
RAPHAEL, F/L Gordon Learmouth (37508) - Distinguished
Flying Cross - No.77 Sq.
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 17 May 1940.
No citation other than "for gallantry and devotion
to duty in the execution of air operations". Public Record Office
Air 2/9317 has recommendation dated 22 March 1940 which specifically identifies
him as a Canadian:
As captain of a Whitley aircraft engaged on a Nickel
flight to Warsaw on the night of 15/16 March 1940, this officer carried
out his task with a precision and exactness that has marked all his operational
His teamwork in the air, his meticulous planning before
a flight, his ability as a pilot and navigator and his complete knowledge
of his equipment makes all his flights appear simple and uneventful. The
flight to Warsaw, in spite of an increase in wind speed when going to
the target and dense clouds on the return journey, was completed with
a deviation from schedule which can be accounted for almost to a minute
by the increased wind speed. Throughout the period of the present hostilities
this officer has shown skill, daring and initiative on all his flights.
Previous flights include a Nickel raid on Posen, as well
as several security patrols, reconnaissance and Nickel raids on other
This is minuted by a staff officer in No.4 Group on 1
This Canadian officer has carried out many flights over
enemy territory since the outbreak of war with a maximum of success. His
Nickel flights to Warsaw and Posen were excellent both in prior planning
and execution. Very strongly recommended for the award of the Distinguished
Although the award was gazetted without a citation, the
recommendation was edited for security purposes in case it had been published:
As captain of an aircraft engaged on a pamphlet flight
to Warsaw on the night of 15/16 March 1940, this officer carried out his
task with the distinction that has marked all his previous operational
flights. His teamwork, careful planning and ability as a pilot are of
the highest standard and throughout the period of hostilities he has shown
skill, daring and initiative. Previous flights include a pamphlet raid
on Posen, several security patrols and also reconnaissance and pamphlet
raids on other German towns.
RAPHAEL, F/L Gordon Learmouth (37508) - Bar to DFC - No.85
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 15 July 1941.
Air Ministry Bulletin 682 refers.
This officer has proved himself to be a relentless and skilful night
fighter pilot. Since May 1941 he has destroyed three and probably another
of the enemy's aircraft
RAPHAEL, W/C Gordon Learmouth (37508) - Distinguished
Service Order - No.85 Sq.
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 2 February 1943.
Air Ministry Bulletin 9121 refers.
Since being awarded the Bar to the Distinguished Flying
Cross, Wing Commander Raphael has destroyed three enemy aircraft at night.
By his inspiring leadership, great skill and untiring efforts he has contributed
in a large measure to the high morale and operational efficiency of the
squadron he commands.
RCAF Press Release 407, cleared by Security on
9 June 1942 and by
Headquarters, Fighter Command, on 12 June 1942 states -
"The thing I like about this place", said Raffy
as he strolled around the garden of the old, creeper-covered English rectory
where he lives with his wife and Gaby, his 17-month old son, "is
that you can be up in the night tangling with the Huns and then sit here
in peace 15 minutes later."
Raffy Raphael stood in the lovely rectory garden, which
looks out over a broad, lush valley in one of England's most beautiful
counties. "We have tried to keep up the Bishop tradition," he
said. "Our squadron emblem is still the white hexagon which was painted
on the old SE.5s which the squadron had when Bishop commanded it in the
"It flew in France during this war, too - with Hurricanes.
That was before I came to the squadron. They destroyed 90 Jerries during
the Battle of France and 54 more during the Battle of Britain. I came
here after it had become a night fighter outfit."
Raffy lives in the old rectory with his wife and their
young son because it is handy to the aerodrome. "I don't want to
let the war interfere with my family life any more than I can help,"
he says. "Particularly I don't want to miss the biggest thrill of
being a father - watching my son grow up."
Lean, moustached, 26 years old, Raffy Raphael is exactly
the kind of man you would expect one of the RAF's best night fighter pilots
to be. Since he joined the squadron about a year ago, he has accounted
for five German aircraft certainly destroyed during nights over Britain
- and it is well to remember that he got these in times when the number
of Jerries that venture over England to be shot at, even at night, has
not been considerable.
"It wasn't really my doing, you know", he says.
"That young radio operator of mine has been responsible for our getting
each one of them." His radio operator is a diminutive English Warrant
Officer who is a wizard with the secret detectors used by British night
Raffy became a night fighter squadron commander by a
devious route which is long in the telling. Born in Quebec in August 1915,
he attended the High School of Quebec and came to England in 1934 to study
at the College of Aeronautical Engineering in Chelsea, London.
"I wanted to design aeroplanes", he says with
a short laugh, "but after a year I discovered that what I really
wanted to do was to fly. So I took a short service commission in the RAF
"They trained me as a bomber pilot and after I got
my wings I went to a Heyford squadron which was at that time regarded
as the crack squadron in Bomber Command. You may remember the Heyford.
It had a long, gaunt fuselage suspended from the underside of the upper
wing (it was a biplane). Consequently, it always looked as if it was upside
down. But believe it or not, it was lovely to fly.
"My term of service was due to end in December 1939.
In the meanwhile, we had converted to Whitleys shortly before the war,
and so when war broke out, I started on a long series of ops with the
"Those were curious days. We didn't know what to
expect, because nobody had ever done night raids on germany, and I remember
that the first time we went over we were quite certain that we would be
shot down. But we soon found out that it wasn't really so bad."
There was no bombing in those days. The Whitleys used
to go out loaded with leaflets. Raffy Raphael made the first leaflet raid
of the war - over the Ruhr - and he and his crew used to liven up the
evenings by permitting the rear gunner to fire at searchlights. "We
accounted for between 50 and 60 searchlights altogether", he says.
With another RAF pilot, he took one of the only two aircraft
of the RAF ever to fly to Warsaw and back. "We dropped leaflets there,
too," he says. "We took off from France and the trip took me
11 hours and ten minutes. It took the other lad a bit longer, though.
He landed after getting lost and found he was in Germany, so he promptly
took off again. He got home quite safely. The astonishing part about that
trip was the fact that most of the towns in eastern Germany were lit up
quite brightly. I guess they never figured there would be an enemy aircraft
One day, however, Raffy and his crew managed to drop
a few bombs. These fell on Sylt - they were the first bombs to hit the
German base during the present war. "We went after a bridge and the
flare path of one of the aerodromes," Raffy says.
With the invasion of Norway, the show started up in real
earnest. The Whitley's of Raffy's squadron went out to bomb objectives
in Oslo - particularly the airport where the Germans had been landing
"The first time was a piece of cake," he says.
There was scarcely any flak. Se we went back three days later. By this
time the Jerries has moved up in force. We went in fairly low - just as
we had the first time. I was promptly picked up by 23 searchlights and
about 60 multiple pom-poms opened up on us. We got away, but I don't know
A little later, the Whitleys carried out the first raid
on Trondheim. Squadron Leader Raphael was on that show, too. He was also
on the night raid on the Maastrict bridge during the invasion of the Lowlands,
and after all these varied ops, he was awarded the DFC.
"Then I stuck my neck out," he says. "I
was feeling so good about getting a gong that I asked to be allowed to
fly again the next night, although it wasn't my turn. We were going after
an oil refinery, and out machine was first over the target to drop incendiaries
and light it up for the later arrivals.
"On the way back we were attacked by a Jerry over
the North Sea. He shot out both my engines and busted the hydraulic system.
But my rear gunner got him and he went down in flames.
"We had to land in the sea; that made a couple of
'first times' on this trip. It was the first time a Whitley had shot down
an enemy night fighter, and the first time a Whitley had been put down
in the sea with all the crew intact. My crew really got out in a hurry
when we hit the water; I was a bit slower because I discovered that a
bullet from the enemy's guns had gone through both my feet. However, we
got the dinghy out and didn't discover until later that we had it upside
down. We were picked up by a British destroyer and I spent a couple of
comfortable days in the sick bay. When I got ashore, I had to spend three
months recuperating. This was a bit annoying, because it meant that I
missed a lot of good shows."
When he got back on operations, however, he saw plenty
more good shows. Included among them were trips to Berlin and three flights
to Italy. The Italian tours were all done in the same week. What he remembered
most about them is the flight over the Alps. "It was a wonderful
sight." he says. "I'll never forget it. I used to go skiing
in the Alps before the war, but they never looked as lovely then as they
do so from the air in the moonlight. Incidentally, on one of these trips
we started a beautiful fire in the Fiat works."
Another trip he made was to the Zeiss optical and instrument
works at Jena. "Believe t or not," he says with some pleasure,
"that was the first time in 150 years that they had seen war at first
hand in that part of Germany. A Me.110 tried to intercept us, but my tail
gunner was on the job all right. The Jerry went down in flames."
In September 1940 he made his last bombing trip; then
he went to a Coastal Command general reconnaissance school as an instructor
for a change from operational flying. When he had finished his rest, he
went, at his own request, to night fighters - which is probably the most
highly specialized job in the service.
His first victory in this game was during the big blitz
on London on May 10 , the last time the Luftwaffe attacked Britain
in force. It was the night when Britain's new system of defence against
night bombing brought down 33 German raiders. Raffy's victim was Heinkel
After that night, the opportunities to get confirmed
victories have been few and far between, but Raffy managed to get three,
in a short while, of the very few raiders seen over England. For these
victories, he was awarded the Bar to the DFC.
One of his victories was over a Ju.88 which crashed into
the North Sea a short distance out from the English coast. He still wears
the orange-colored Mae West jacket which belonged to the pilot of that
aircraft. "t's a kind of souvenir", he explains.
In the Adjutant's office at squadron headquarters hangs
a big oil painting of Billy Bishop. All around the room are pinned photographs
of aircraft with which it has been quipped during both Great Wars - the
SE.5s of the last war, the Hurricanes which it flew during the Battle
of France and the Battle of Britain, and the Douglas Havocs which it flies
On the side of each of these black machines is painted
the famous white hexagon which shows on the pictures of the old SE.5s.
The spirit of Bishop runs strongly through everything that the squadron
is doing today.
Flying with Raffy are four other Canadians and one American
who joined the RCAF. Of these, one is a radio operator; the rest are pilots.
They are: Pilot Officer H.H. Norsworthy of Westmount,
Quebec, Pilot Officer R.B. Harris of Rosetown, Saskatchewan, Flying Officer
J.J. McCloskey of Richmond, Virginia, Pilot Officer C.F. Medhurst of Foremost,
Alberta, and Flying Officer I. MacInnes of Vancouver, the radio operator.
Raffy has just recently been made commander of the squadron
and the boys - Englishmen and Canadians alike - think he is terrific.
When he has finished his night's flying, Raffy goes down
the road to the Old Rectory, where his wife and son are always waiting.
It is very quiet there, under the shadow of the massive oak trees and
the spire of the 14th Century village church. Sometimes Raffy wanders
around the churchyard and examines the inscriptions on the ancient tomb-stones.
"Some of them," he says, "are unbelievably old."
Usually, after he has finished the day's work in the
officer - all the administration which the squadron commander must look
after in addition to leading his pilots and air crews into battle in the
air - he goes home for tea and plays for awhile with young Raffy, who
is just learning to walk. Together they look out over the wide valley
behind the old rectory - the pilot, the wife and the son. "This,"
says Raffy, "is what is worth fighting for. You will not find it
anywhere else in the world."
After tea, when it is time to go back and get ready for
the night's flying, he strides out through the front gate. From the nursery
window, the youngster watches and waves. Soon he will be in bed, asleep.
Somewhere, two or three miles over his head, his father will be searching
steadily in the moonlight night, aided by the miraculous eye of science,
looking for sights of those who come in the night to bring death to children.
The child will sleep peacefully; as yet, he does not know the meaning
of the purple and white ribbon with the silver star on his father's chest;
he has not seen the neat little row of swastikas on the side of his father's
aircraft. He will know one day, and he, like all who know Raffy Raphael,
the man who wanted to design aeroplanes, will be proud.
Aerial victories as follows:
10/11 May 1941,
one He.111 destroyed north of London (Havoc I);
13/14 May 1941,
one He.111 destroyed off Thames plus
one He.111 probably destroyed near Gravesend (Havoc I)
23/24 June 1941,
one Ju.88 destroyed off Harwich (Havoc I);
13/14 July 1941,
one He.111 destroyed 25 miles east of Ray Sand (Havoc
16/17 September 1941, one Ju.88 destroyed near Calcton (Havoc II);
30/31 July 1942,
one Ju.88 damaged near Cambridge (Havoc II);
2/3 August 1942,
one Ju.88 destroyed off Dengle Flats (Havoc II);
17/18 January 1943, one Ju.88 destroyed
over southeastern England (Mosquito)
29/30 June 1944,
one V-1 destroyed in sea off Manston (Mosquito);
6/7 July 1944,
one V-1 destroyed in sea off Manston.
RAPHAEL, GORDON LEARMOUTH G/C(P) 37508 D.S.O. D.F.C.
with two Bars, M.i.D. - Royal Air Force. From Brantford. Ontario. Killed
In Action Apr. 10/45 age 28. #605 County of Warwick Squadron (Nunquam
Dormio). G/C. Raphael had been the Commanding Officer at Manston, England,
had been posted to #77 squadron during 1939/40. #10 squadron in 1940.
and #85 squadron in 1941. He was an ace credited with destroying seven
enemy aircraft all as a night fighter. He was killed when his Spitfire
aircraft collided with a Dakota aircraft over France. Group Captain Pilot
Raphael is buried in the Cudham Churchyard, Orpingham, Kent, England.
"They Shall Not Grow Old"
--- Canadian Aces ---