"Two of the ground crew who have in their care a Mosquito Intruder and the man who flies it. Left to right: Cpl. J. L. Jones, F/L C. Scherf, and LAC R. W. Weighill. They are members of a Canadian Squadron commanded by W/C D. C. S. Macdonald."
Charles Curnow Scherf was born on the 17th day of May 1917, at "Big Ben" in Emmaville, New South Wales. The fifth child of Charles Henry Scherf and Susan Jane Curnow. Charles married Florence Hope OHara and together they had four children.
Charles Scherf distinguished himself as a Mosquito Pilot in World War II, posted by the RAAF as a Flight Lieutenant with the Canadian 418 Squadron in the RAF where he flew 34 operations. Posted then to a staff job, he made occasional "visits" to his old squadron, and in fact destroyed more aircraft on these trips than he had while officially serving with them! These adventures ended when he was posted back to Australia in July 1944. In between leaving 418 and returning to Australia, Squadron Leader Charles Scherf was awarded the DFC and Bar and the DSO, and his final official tally was 13.5 destroyed in the air, 10 on the ground, and seven damaged.
He survived the war, but it still took its toll on this young man from New South Wales. The grandson of German immigrants, he confided to his sister that he was tormented by the memories of the Germans he had killed and also of the friends he had lost. His drinking increased, and when driving he sped recklessly along the country roads. On July 13th 1949 the inevitable occurred when he was killed in a car accident near Emmaville, a victim of the war as surely as if he had been lost in his Mosquito.
This document provides the text and photographs and drawings taken from newspaper clippings collected by family members during the war. Charlie's war time exploits may also be read in the book Six Aces by Lex MacAulay, which recounts the careers of six varied RAAF aces.
--- Reports from Contemporary Newspapers ---
An Australian airman has set up the record for three awards in three months. He is Squadron-Leader Charles Curnow Scherf, aged 27 years. First he won the DFC; the following month he was awarded a bar to it, and the next month he was decorated with the DSO. In that time he has destroyed 23 enemy planes.
Squadron-Leader Scherf leads a Mosquito section of the RAF. In two daylight raids into Germany recently, he shot down six German planes and destroyed three more on the ground.
His tours successfully completed, he was appointed Intruder Controller, but that had no zest for Scherf. So one day he took time off for "one last trip." He destroyed two enemy planes in the air and three on the ground; since then he has been known as "Last Trip" Scherf.
Mosquito Pilots Honored
Moonlight Strike by Robert Bailey
LONDON, Wednesday. Squadron-Leader Charlie Scherf, DFC, of Glen lnnes (NSW), shot down five German planes yesterday in quick time.
He got them between Stettin and the Baltic seaboard. and brought his score to 14 ½. Four of the five were destroyed in five minutes.
Scherf got his first over the Baltic, the others near Kubitzer Bay. One was a bomber - it blew up.
Technically, Scherf had ended his operational flying, but was out on a "holiday" between spells of ground duty with his old Canadian Mosquito squadron the "City of Edmonton."
On May 2 the squadron shot down two planes and set fire to nine more on the ground. -AAP.
With a Canadian Fighter Wing Somewhere in Britain,
May 16, 1944 (CP) — Sqdn, Ldr. Charlie Scherf, who officially
is on ground duty, made another "last trip" with the City
of Edmonton Mosquito Squadron today, destroying five Nazi planes and
damaging two on a foray deep into Germany's Baltic seaboard.
The young Australian flier who completed his tour of duly with this R.C.A.F. squadron two months ago has been going on operations every time he gets a day off and promising each trip will be his last. Around the squadron they call him "Last-Trip" Scherf. With F/L Colin Finlayson, Victoria, B.C., as his observer, Scherf flew to the neighborhood of Kubitzer Bay and Stettin late in the day to bag a Focke-Wolf 190, a Heinkel 177, a Junkers 86 and two, unidentified planes. Scherf also damaged an He-111 and a Dornier 118 flying boat.
The enemy planes were downed and damaged in 15 minutes of the most furious action of Scherf's flying career. The five kills raised the squadron's score to 54 planes destroyed in the air, and maintained it's reputation for setting the hottest pace of any squadron or the Air Defense of Great Britain, of which the City of Edmonton fliers form a part. The squadron altogether has destroyed 118 enemy planes, including those caught on the ground.
Scherf and Finlayson returned to base with their Mosquito damaged by flak and with 15 holes in the wing, which Scherf said were caused by running into a flock of birds on the homeward flight.
"We caught an He-111 in the air over the Baltic first and put him down," said the Australian. "A little later we ran into a whole collection of German aircraft and destroyed four in five minutes. It was incredible...''
The last time Scherf took a flying holiday, he shared in the destruction of two planes in the air and the burning of nine on the ground with F/O J. Caine of Edmonton. On another previous trip, he destroyed two enemy planes and left three burning. On both these trips, F/O W. Stewart, 386 Broadview Ave., Toronto, was Scherf's navigator.
In four months, Acting-Squadron-Leader Charles Curnow Scherf, 27year-old Australian, in the RAF, has shot down 23 enemy planes. He won the DFC in April this year, Bar to DFC in May, and DSO in June, an amazing record.
Scherf is in charge of a Mosquito section. In two raids on Germany he shot down nine planes. He was then appointed Intruder Controller, so he took time off for another trip to Germany.
On that trip he destroyed five enemy planes. After that he was called "Last Trip" Scherf. But still he went back for more. On three more "spare time" flights over enemy territory he brought down eight more planes, as well as destroying many on the ground.
LONDON, May 17 (A.A.P.). Squadron-Leader Charlie Scherf, of Glen Innes, is now technically off operational flying, but he shot down five enemy aircraft yesterday afternoon, between Stettin and the Baltic seaboard.
Squadron-Leader Scherf was flying another of his "holiday trips" between spells of ground duty. He flew with his old squadron, the R.C.A.F, City of Edmonton.
He shot down four out of his score of five in five minutes.
Before war a grazier at Glen Innes, NSW, Squadron-Leader C. C. Scherf, DSO, DFC and bar, RAAF, was a pioneer of long distance raids in Mosquito aircraft. He is now crack pilot of a Canadian Mosquito Squadron which has 14 enemy "kills" to its credit. In the photo he broadcasts to Australia on BBC.
"With the present rate of conquest the days are not far off when the shadow of Allied aircraft will be over every square mile of Germany and German-dominated Europe."
That was the forecast confidently given by Sq.-Leader C. C. Scherf (formerly of Emmaville and Glen Innes), in the course of a B.B.C. broadcast relayed through Station 2BL, Sydney.
We published the first part of the broadcast in Tuesdays "Examiner".
The last trip I made before my tour finished was a bit spectacular.
We went to an airfield in France and spotted three aircraft at one end, so we came in at zero feet and blew them up with our cannon machine-gun fire. When I say blew up - thats just what they did. One exploded right in front of me and I flew through a cloud of wreckage. Then we went to another airfield and we saw what we thought was a formation of fighters. I said on the inter-comm. to my other Aussie pilot: "Hey Cobber [Caine]. There are four of them and two of us Lets have a crack just the same." When we came closer we saw that they were gliders - they were being towed by an odd contraption that I identified as a Heinkel fighter tug. It looked just like two aircraft flying alongside one another, with their wings joined up and an engine stuck in the join. The other pilot took the right-hand glider and made short work of it. I circled and came in on this second glider. which was going pretty slowly and as I passed it I took some pictures of it with my camera gun, and then let him have it. That guy just came to bits in the air and I had to fly through its wreckage. When I got back I found bits of its wood stuck in my radiator.
Then we concentrated on the extraordinary aircraft that had been towing the blighter. It was one of the funniest sights Ive ever seen. Two twin-engine Heinkels stuck together as it were, and the engine on the join. On my first attack I set the two right-hand engines on fire, then Peter went after the middle one.
By that time Id circled round again and set the remaining two engines alight. The Heinkel or Heinkels - I dont know which - crashed just outside of -
When we got back to base we claimed that Heinkel. as two aircraft destroyed.
Well. that was my last trip. And these daylight intruder sorties went well on the way by then. My Squadron alone has destroyed 25 enemy aircraft and damaged many others in day trips alone. Our losses have been one Mosquito.
Our main job during this time was intruding, that is, shooting up ships, barges and other lines of communication, but of course our priority part was the destruction of enemy aircraft. During January and February I shot down three enemy aircraft at night over Germany. Two of them I got on the same night.
I was cruising around over an enemy airfield looking for night fighters. I saw one coming down to land with its navigation lights on - so I sneaked up behind him and he came down to anything but a three-point landing. The aircraft exploded just as it hit the deck. I turned around and saw to my delight another enemy fighter circling down with his navigation lights on. I went after him and came in slightly behind. I gave him one burst and nothing happened so I gave him another. That did the trick and he blew up in mid-air. Yes, I was pretty lucky that night. I got another enemy aircraft in a more unusual way. I didnt even fire a shot at him. I was looking around for something to shoot up when I spotted an aircraft going like hell with its navigation lights on. I went flat out after him - chased him up to 8,000 feet. He must have caught sight of me because he came screaming down - his navigation couldnt have been very good, because the next thing I heard was that he went slap into the side of a mountain and blew up. Id seen this mountain in time to pull away. I came round again and took some pictures of him.
These are a couple of stories and they illustrate how fast the show moves when it does get going. All the time youre on patrol youve got to be absolutely on your toes. In fact, youve really got to be a step ahead the whole time, working out whats likely to happen to you - what youll do when it does. Then the navigators, leading the aircraft at high speed over ___ are doing a job more and more arduous as their sorties strike deeper and deeper into the heart of Germany.
With the present rate of conquest the days are not far off when the shadow of their wings will be over every square mile of Germany and German-dominated Europe.
"The talk that you have just heard was given by Squadron-Leader C.C.Scherf, D.F.C. who comes from Glen Innes, New South Wales, and is an R.A.A.F. member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron here in Britain (said the announcer at the close of Sq. Leader Scherfs address). Incidentally Flt-Lt. Scherf served for three years in the Australian army with the 12th Light Horse Regiment before he joined the R.A.A.F. and as I said in the opening announcement since recording this talk, Flt-Lt. Scherf has in one night shot down two enemy aircraft and destroyed three others.
Mrs. C. C. Scherf, who with her two young daughters, Maureen and Rosemary, is staying with her parents, Mr. And Mrs. H. OHara, of "St. Elmo," West Avenue, this morning received a telegram conveying the congratulations of the Minister of Air and the Air Board "on the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to her husband, Flight-Lieutenant C. C. Scherf, in recognition of his gallant service."
News of the honour gained by the intrepid young pilot, who is the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Scherf. of "Big Ben" Emmaville, does not come as a surprise to those who have been following his exploits, as recorded in cabled messages appearing in the Australian Press in recent months.
As recently as little more than a fortnight ago a cable from London recorded the following achievement by him:
"A Glen Innes pilot, Flight-Lieut. Charles Scherf, was the pilot of one of two Mosquitoes which shot down a glider tug and two gliders in tow over Central- France on Saturday afternoon. Accompanied by a Canadian Mosquito, Scherf came up behind the enemy planes, and set fire to the glider tugs engines. Scherf also participated in the shooting up of enemy planes on the ground, at least three of which were set on fire."
In the big days of football in Glen. Innes Charles Scherf, while still a schoolboy, was one of the stars of the Glen Innes 13, and the idol of the crowd in inter-district: cup competition matches. It was on the football field that he revealed those qualities which were later to earn for him a name in the R.A.A.F. the distinction while ..flying a Mosquito bomber, of having more enemy planes to his credit than any other "night: intruder" in the period of his operational flights.
Flight-Lieut. Scherfs younger daughter Rosemary, now ten months old, was born after he arrived in England.
Those Nagging Mosquitoes by Stan Stokes
Now in Australia testing "Mossies" as a change from flying them on operation jobs over Europe, Squadron-Leader Charles Scherf, here pictured by fellow airman Lusby, certainly got into it in lively style over there. All in the space of three months he destroyed 14 ½ enemy aircraft in the air and 23 on the ground and collected the D.F.C., a bar to it and then the D.S.O. Scherfs idea of a break from operations when put on to one was to get into a plane in England and fly over Europe and destroy five enemy craft on an entirely unauthorized official visit. Whether to court-martial or decorate him was in the balance. When he returned, and by a nice compromise he got, on the one hand, an issue of strife, and, on the other, his D.S.O.
Squadron-Leader Charles Scherf, D.S.O., D.F.C.. and Bar, took a "day off" from ground duties on three occasions within five weeks to rejoin his squadron for daylight trips over France and the Baltic ports,. with such success that his tally of destroyed aircraft mounted from 8½ to 23½.
He recently returned to Australia and his home is at Emmaville, via Glen Innes.
After serving the regular tour of 30 odd operational flights with a Canadian Mosquito squadron, chiefly in daylight, Squadron-Leader Scherf was posted to Fighter Command for ground duties.
On his first day off he took the train from London and arrived at his old squadron at 1p.m. One of the pilots set for a mission over France was taken ill. Scherf took over the aircraft. Accompanied by another Mosquito flown by a Canadian pilot, he set out for Tours and other French targets. Scherf destroyed five aircraft on this trip, three in the air, and two on the ground over St. Yan, which had already proved a good hunting ground for him.
Baltic ports around
Rostock were the target next time, and four aircraft were in Scherfs
bag before he returned to the squadron.
Only one week elapsed before, he took another "trip."
With Squadron-Leader Cleveland, a Canadian pilot, at the controls of another Mosquito, the pair set off for Peenemund, in the Baltic. and other targets north-east of Berlin. The. first aircraft destroyed was a Heinkel over the sea. A Focke-Wulf on patrol was next encountered. The German aircraft let fly a rocket at the Mosquito, but missed, and Scherf was quickly on the enemys tail. A squirt of the cannon fire and the Heinkel was no more.
A Heinkel bomber was his next victim, and then one parked near a bay was hit, followed by another which was blown into a harbour. Six aircraft was Scherfs bag on this, his final trip in Mosquitoes, and his official tally was 23½.
On the way home over North Germany; flying into the sun, Squadron-Leader Scherf encountered a flock of birds over the sands. Twenty seven half-cooked birds were collected off the aircraft on his arrival at base.
Squadron-Leader Scherf won the D.F.C. in April, 1944. the Bar to the D.F.C. in May, and the D.S.O. was an immediate award by the Chief of the Fighter Command in June. In 38 trips he flew 50,000 operational miles and never received a scratch.
In a letter which reached Australia from England on June 16 this year Squadron-Leader Scherf, DFC and bar, ace fighter pilot with 17½ enemy planes to his credit, made an unusual rendezvous with his wife, living at Emmaville, NSW.
Wrote Scherf: "Ill make a date with you for September 20, this year, at the Railway corner of Pitt and George streets, Sydney, at 10 am sharp. Be there or be sorry!"
FACT published -the story, and-this week received inquiries as to whether the appointment was kept.
Actually, Scherf was just a week out in his calculations. He met his wife on the station at Glen Innes at 10am Wednesday, September 13. Said Mrs. Scherf: "Charles is looking thinner but pretty fit, is rapidly making friends with our baby daughter Rosemary, whom he had never seen."
LONDON, Feb. 28 (A.A.P.) The German glider-tug shot down over central France on Saturday had five engines, two tails, and two crew compartments.
I just couldnt believe my eyes, it was the biggest thing I had ever seen in the air," said the Canadian Mosquito pilot (*ed note - Ft Lt H D Cleveland ) who helped an Australian pilot, Flight-Lieut. Charles Scherf, of Glen Innes to shoot it down.
"In effect it was two Heinkel 111s joined together by a huge main plane and a fifth engine added," the pilot said. "It also had a large number of gun positions."
Two gliders were brought down with the tug.
1) In May 1944, Charles Scherf, 27-year-old Mosquito day fighter ace, who since January 27, had destroyed xx enemy aircraft in the air and won the DFC and bar for his intruder work, decided to retire as a "Holiday Hun-Hunter," a sobriquet he had earned because of his habit, while non-operational, of making unescorted "shooting up" exercises into enemy territory in his "Wooden Wonder." The following month he was awarded the DSO.
2) Peace time Glen Innes (NSW) grazier Light Horseman and prominent Rugby centre in North NSW League, Scherf rose to be flight commander and ace killer in a Canadian Mosquito squadron, in which he was the only Australian.
3) First to suggest day-light intruder missions, Scherf maintained that these trips far into enemy territory would prove far more productive than those at night. He made the first trip with a Canadian pilot, and later described his experience over the BBC. "I saw German Bicycles, farmers plowing, German staff cars and all sorts of ordinary things ..."
5) On an intruder mission over France in February, Scherf and a Canadian pilot from his squadron (*ed note - Ft Lt Howard Douglas Cleveland 418 sq RCAF) encountered the strangest aircraft they had ever seen towing two gliders. It looked like two aircraft flying side by side joined together by one main plane and fitted with a fifth engine at the join.
6) Scherf tackled one of the gliders and blew it to pieces, and his companion destroyed the other. Then they dealt with the "monstrosity," which was later identified from their photographs as a Bi-Heinkel glider tug - two Heinkel 111s joined together.
7) In the first attack, Scherf set the two starboard engines on fire, and the Canadian lit up the middle with his cannon-fire. Then Scherf circled round and tackled the port side. The flying train crashed in flames, and each pilot was credited with half a "kill."
8) At the end of February, on a sortie deep into enemy territory, the "farmer ace" shot down three enemy aircraft and damaged three others on the ground. Over France, in April, he got two more in the air and three on the ground. These were mentioned in the citation to his second award, announced in May.
9) After his tour of combat duty was over, Scherf was given an important ground post. But, on his days off, he would collect an observer and an aircraft and go off on a 1,000 mile unescorted trip into Germany, shooting down planes, shooting up aerodromes, and leaving victims crashed or burning in his wake.
10) On May 9, Scherf had a field day on one of his "holiday shooting" trips. Between Stettin and the Baltic, he shot down five aircraft, including a Heinkel 111 and a Heinkel 177, within 15 minutes. Four went down in five minutes. Later in the month, however, he announced that his days of "excursioning" were over.
EMMAVILLE PAYS TRIBUTE To Sqd.-Ldr. C. Scherf D.S.O, D.F.C. & Bar
Proud of His Fame
On Monday evening about 50 representative citizens gathered in the Odd fellows Hall to welcome Squadron Leader C. Scherf, D.S.O., D.F.C., and Bar. The function took the form of a smoke social.
The organizers had left nothing to chance, for on arrival the tables were found to be laden with refreshments of all kinds. Mr. R. R. Curnow, who was voted to the chair, gave the toast of "The King."
Mr. L. G. Leece, in giving the toast of the evening said they had assembled to do homage and say thanks to a brave fearless flying officer, who had achieved outstanding success and distinction by his untiring devotion to duty and his brave and courageous actions. "We, your friends are proud to acknowledge the debt of gratitude We owe to all branches of the flying services," said Mr. Leece, "but we are especially Proud to know that one of our own men, born and reared in this small community, should have achieved such distinction that his name and fame are universally known. We have followed your career with increasing interest and pride. Each one of your recounted exploits over Germany, while giving us added thrills and satisfaction made us realize more fully that we also had a personal interest in the struggle to see the enemy defeated and to hold together the British Commonwealth of Nations and see justice done. Your outstanding achievement of five planes brought down in 15 minutes over the Baltic coast and your total of 23½ planes to date is a feat worthy of the distinction bestowed upon you."
"We ask you," said Mr. Leece, "to accept these words in deep appreciation of services rendered to your country, and as a token of the high regard, esteem and thanks we offer. We trust that when your job is done and you return to civil life, the same measure of success and distinction will follow, and may you and your family be long spared to enjoy the fruits of the victory you so gallantly contributed to."
Messrs. N. Body, H. Simpkins, A. J. Potter and J. Laws supported the toast.
The chairman then asked Mr. J. Toone to read the draft of the address to be presented to Sq.-Leader Scherf. The address reads: "To Squadron Leader Charles Curnow Scherf, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar: We the citizens of Emmaville have gathered to greet you and to pay a tribute to you and your great deeds in the air war. Firstly, we must congratulate you on your safe return to Australia after the hazards of desperate and dashing flights across the Continent of Europe in combat with the enemy. Your lightning raids in daylight at high speed and low attitude created a new method or attack and set a new standard of performance whose keenness and effect were felt and respected by the foe, appreciated by your superior officers, and admired everywhere by the men of the great forces attacking Germany. The tribute of an exceptional pilot, with outstanding fighting qualities from the officer commanding the 18th Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, is true indeed. It had been won in the stern testing ground of aerial combat. We feel that you have brought not only honour and distinction to yourself but also to your family your school, your town, to the Air Force and to your country. Your fame has indeed become world-wide. It is a privilege to salute you who have so worthily upheld the motto "Per Ardua Ad Astra". Your bearing dash and courage have won our admiration, but the fact that you have kept your modesty, humour and good fellowship has deepened and widened our affectionate regard. We know that you will continue to serve your country in the same brilliant manner as you have hitherto. May God speed the peace so that you may return for good to your wife and family, and to a less exciting, but useful occupation. We wish you good fortune, prosperity and happiness in the years to come, for you have surely earned them."
Squadron Leader Scherf replying, said that while away, he had had the opportunity of meeting statesmen and people of high rank, the greatest of all privileges was to be back with his old friends. Squadron Leader Scherf gave a most interesting account of some of his flying activities over enemy country.
The next toast was that of "The Guests Father," Cr. C. H. Scherf. This was in the hands of Rev. McLeod, and he was supported by Messrs. E. Say, S. H. Rogers, S. ODonnell and J. T. Ryall. This was followed by <text missing >
Victories Include :
14.5 / 0 / 0 plus 9 / 0 / 4 On The Ground or Water
Score from Aces High 2nd Ed. by Shores & Williams
Scherf's regular R/O was Al Brown but as you can see,
-- This article was originally contributed by Tony Strasser on behalf of the Scherf family. I've slowly been adding stuff to it --
--- Australian Aces ---
--- Canadian Aces ---