No. 420 Squadron RCAF


No. 420 Squadron RCAF
420 Squadron RCAF badge.jpg
Active19 December 1941 – 5 September 1945
15 September 1948 – 1 September 1956
1 May 1974 – 15 May 1995
Country Canada
 United Kingdom
BranchEnsign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force Ensign (1941-1968).svg Royal Canadian Air Force
RoleBomber squadron
Fighter squadron
Coastal patrol squadron
Part ofRAF Bomber Command
RCAF Air Defence Command
Canadian Forces Air Command
Nickname(s)"Snowy owl"
Motto(s)Pugnamus finitum
"We fight to the finish"
EngagementsEnglish Channel and North Sea 1942–44, Baltic 1942, Fortress Europe 1942–44, France and Germany 1944–45, Biscay Ports 1942–44, Ruhr 1942–45, Berlin 1944, German Ports 1942–45, Normandy 1944, Rhine, Biscay 1942-43, Sicily 1943, Italy 1943, Salerno.
1945: From RAF Tholthorpe, Yorkshire: raids over Germany.
Squadron code in WWIIPT

No. 420 "City of London" Squadron RCAF was a squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) (and subsequently Canadian Forces) which existed from late December 1941 forwards. The Squadron's nickname was "Snowy Owl". Their motto was Pugnamus Finitum, Latin for We Fight To The Finish. No. 420 Squadron is no longer active.


No. 420 Squadron was formed at Waddington, Lincolnshire, England on 19 December 1941 by Jordan Tyler and Dan Riggden. During the Second World War, the unit ultimately flew Manchester, Hampden, Wellington, Halifax, and Lancaster aircraft on strategic and tactical bombing operations. From June to October 1943 it flew tropicalized Wellington aircraft from North Africa in support of the invasions of Sicily and Italy. In April 1945 they converted to Lancasters, and when hostilities in Europe concluded, it was selected as part of Tiger Force slated for duty in the Pacific, and returned to Canada for reorganisation and training. The sudden end of the war in the Far East resulted in the Squadron being disbanded at Debert, Nova Scotia on 5 September 1945.

No. 420 Squadron reformed at London, Ontario on 15 September 1948, and flew Mustang aircraft in a fighter role until the squadron disbanded on 1 September 1956. Re-formed during the unification period, No. 420 was an air reserve squadron based initially at CFB Shearwater, Nova scotia flying the Tracker air craft that had once been the backbone of the Canadian Naval Air's anti-submarine program. As an Air Reserve Squadron it participated with regular fisheries patrols. It was one of the few active Air Reserve Squadrons in Canada and was paired with the Regular Force's 880 Squadron. The Squadron was rebased to CFB Summerside when that base was downsized. No. 420 Squadron is no longer active.

Aircraft flown by No. 420 Squadron

Operational (wartime) history

  • First operational mission: 21 January 1942: 5 Hampdens dispatched to bomb a target at Emden. two a/c bombed primary, two bombed alternative (town of Emden) and the other FTR. On same night another Hampden laid mines in Nectarines (Frisian Islands) area.
  • Last operational missions: On 18 April 1945: 18 Halifaxes bombed Heligoland and another Halifax crashed in sea en route to objective. However, the final operational flight was Halifax mk iii PT H piloted by F/lt Rush assisted by Flight Engineer Ben May: On 22 April the squadron left for a raid on Bremen, but intense (10/10) cloud cover prevented bombs from being deployed, and they were jettisoned into the sea on return.[1]
  • The squadron flew out of RAF Tholthorpe in Yorkshire.
  • Halifax "F" for Freddy had its nose art, "Fangs of Fire" saved on scrapping. It depicted a fox in a pilot's uniform holding a bomb in its teeth. It resides in the War Museum Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.[2] It was used on tee shirts available in the museum. The last pilot was Flt. Sgt. Raymond J. Lepp. He and his crew flew 33 missions, the last being Friday, April 13, 1945. His logbook remains with his younger son, Bob Lepp, in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. It is kept in a box made by Raymond, and it is adorned with a spark plug from the Halifax #1 engine pulled from a lake in Norway and completely restored in Trenton Ontario. The last of the crew died in 2017.[citation needed]}


In 2004 the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation made a film which documents the crash of DF626, a Wellington bomber of the 420 Squadron. The film is called Final Flight, The Search for DF626.


  1. ^ From family archives of Flight Engineer Ben John May 1894855, Flight Engineer's mission log. List of last missions flown in both Halifax iii and Lancasters : 1945: From Tolthorpe Yorkshire: op Renie, op Dorsten, op Gladbeck, op Münster, op Hamburg (2 ops, a) Oil Refinery and b) Shipyards, op Leipzig, op Heligoland, op Bremen (aborted due to 10/10 cloud cover, bombs ditched in sea).
  2. ^ "Search the Collections - Canadian War Museum". Retrieved 8 April 2018.

External links

  • Official lineage
  • 420 Squadron in World War II
  • Halifax F for Freddy, Fangs of Fire Nose Art in War Museum Ottawa, Ontario, Canada