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"The Last Patrol"

"The Last Patrol" an original acrylic painting by Lance Russwurm

"The Last Patrol" acrylic painting 1995 by Lance Russwurm

126 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"

Epilogue:

S/L 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.

S/L 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.

W/C 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.

F/L 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. He left retailing for manufacturing in 1956 with a shoe firm, "Tender Tootsies Ltd". Along the way he re-activated his love of flying by joining "The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association". Charley  still got airborne on a regular basis in the back seat of a Harvard, acted as ground control and did commentaries for their formation fly-bys and airshows until his passing in October, 2008.

This painting was also used as the cover illustration for a book on Charley Fox: "The Day of the Flying Fox" flyingfox.jpg (97682 bytes)

 

CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY OF CHARLEY'S ATTACK ON ROMMEL

 

I have been an artist/illustrator working out of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario for many years. I tend to specialize in historical and mechanical subject  matter, but I also enjoy doing portraits, murals, airbrush jobs or anything else that comes up. I work mostly in acrylics, oils, watercolours, graphite and ink. I can  take a photo if I have to, and can also do a bit of photo-retouching...but, mostly, I do things the traditional way.

 


  519-616-2794     

email: lancerusswurm@rogers.com

All work shown is copyright 2012 by Lance Russwurm