Thomas Anthony "Tommy" Brannagan

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Tommy Brannagan shows off the Wolf Squadron emblem

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Three Nazis Destroyed and a Fourth Damaged During Battle

London, Aug. 20, 1943 — (CP Cable) — Three German fighters were destroyed and one was badly damaged yesterday by the R.C.A.F. fighter wing in sweeps over France and Holland, it was announced today. The actions cost the wing one pilot, who had received his commission just two hours before going on the sweep.
The Canadians sighted 15 or more Nazi fighters over Holland. The Nazis dispersed, but four were brought to battle and the Canadians blew two of them from the sky.
F/L Dean Dover, of Toronto, member of the Wolf squadron, destroyed one with a short burst from 100 yards, and F/O S. Harry Dowding, of Sarnia, Ont. and Thomas Brannagan, of Windsor, Ont., shared another. This was the first encounter with the enemy for Brannagan in +15 sweeps over the Continent.

Gets First Enemy
F/L Arthur Coles, of Vancouver, chalked up his first destroyed plane by getting a Messerschmitt 109 south of Abbeville. He poured fire into the Nazi and went low to watch him explode.
"There were two Jerries together but the second one did not bother me when I went after the first one." Coles said.
F/O A. Fleming, of Smith Falls, Ont., badly damaged a Messerschmitt near Abbeville. He saw it go into a spin, but did not know if it crashed.
During last night Canadian Mustangs and Mosquitoes attacked railway yards at Orleans, damaging a number of locomotives. They also raided the airfields at Tours and other railway and ground targets. All returned safely.


Born 30 March 1918 in Burbank, Scotland.
Home in Windsor, Ontario.
Served in the Windsor Scottish Regiment
(21 November to 21 December 1940).
Enlisted in RCAF, 23 July 1941.
Trained at
No.5 ITS - 21 Aug. to 9 Oct. 1941,
No.11 EFTS - 10 October to 6 December 1941 &
No.8 SFTS - 7 Dec. 1941 to 28 March 1942 when
He was winged & Commissioned 27 March 1942
To No.1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, 29 Mar. to 29 Apr. 1942
(arrived in the UK during that time).
In the RAF Trainees Pool, 30 April to 13 May 1942.
No.3 PRC, 13 May to 23 June 1942.
No.5 AFU, 23 June to 14 July 1942.
No.5 OTU, 14 July 1942 to 2 March 1943,
(Promoted to F/O, 1 October 1942).
With 403 Squadron, 2 March 1943 to 1 March 1944
(Promoted to F/L, 8 March 1943).
On strength of 144 Wing, 1 to 11 March 1944.
With 441 Squadron, 11 March to 15 Aug. 1944.
(Promoted S/L, 12 July 1944)
Shot down by flak
(broke his arm when he crash landed).
Held at Stalag Luft III.
Reported safe in the UK, 8 May 1945.
Repatriated, 31 May 1945.
Released from the RCAF, 19 September 1945.

Award sent by registered mail 28 June 1949.


Feels ‘Like Anybody Else’ Killing Hun, Air Ace Says
Winco Johnny Johnson More Interested in Pants and Horses Than His Many Honors

By ALLAN KENT - Telegram War Correspondent With the Canadians in France, July 8, 1944 — Wing Commander James E. (Johnny) Johnson, who last week took the lead among all Allied pilots with a score of 33 enemy planes shot down, added two more to his string three days ago.
I saw the famous British flyer today at a Canadian airfield in Normandy, where he is O.C. and in charge of a wing of three Spitfire squadrons. Far from being the harassed, tired veteran you would expect, the air ace looked as fresh as the proverbial English schoolboy and not much older.
The wing commander was not wearing his uniform which sports the D.S.O. and two bars, D.F.C. and bar, and the American D.F.C., but was modeling with pride a pair of brown corduroy trousers someone had just bought for him. He seemed more interested in pants and in the prospects of acquiring one of the high-bred horses which the Nazis have left scattered all over Normandy than in his own exploits. He did give me an outline of his destruction of two Jerries on Wednesday.

"I was leading one of the squadron when we sighted twelve or more Focke Wulf 190's flying beneath a Cloud." he said.
"I got on the tail of a 190 that was hitting one of our craft. I opened fire at 250 yards, closing to 100 yards and climbing steeply. I got strikes on his cockpit and engine cowling and the enemy aircraft burst into flames and crashed. Then I chased another at ground level and after the chase I came within range of 300 yards. I touched him with a few cannon shells, then he broke to starboard and climbed steeply, and I had no difficulty in getting on his tail. He did a series of half rolls, dives and zooms but my aircraft was superior in every way and the enemy went straight into the deck from 4,000 feet."
I tried to get the Wing Commander to tell me of his reactions as he pursues an enemy and as he sees an adversary go down in flames, but he would only smile and say, "I feel the same as anyone else would."

Johnson himself has never been to Canada although he is generally referred to as a Canadian Pilot. He is a Leicestershire man, but has been with the Canadians so long now he feels more at home among them. After the war, he said, he is going to Canada either to live or for a long visit.
His three squadron leaders, however, are all Canadians — Wallace McLeod, D.F.C. and bar of Regina, who has a score of 19 Germans, mostly chalked up in the defense of Malta; Dal Russel. D.F.C. and bar, of Westmount, with a score of five, and Tommy Brannagan of Windsor with four.
Commander of all the Canadian airfields in Normandy is Group Captain W.R. MacBrien, whose friends call him Iron Bill, and who is a son of the late General MacBrien of the RCMP.
Johnson's wing was in operation one week after D-Day and since then he has downed seven enemy planes and McLeod has accounted for five.


Lou Plummer, Tommy Brannagan & Bill Myers
From the left : Lou Plummer, Tommy Brannagan & Bill Myers are three Spitfire pilots from Windsor, Ontario. The night before they destroyed six Focke Wolfe 190's between them. Myers was the big gun with three, Brannagan who led the squadron, bagged two and Plummer got one

Windsor Flyers Have Great Day

With the RCAF in Normandy, July 14, 1944 - (CP Cable) - A Canadian Spitfire squadron led by S/L Tommy Brannagan, of Windsor, Ont., shot down ten FW190's at dusk yesterday over Laigle, France. It was the greatest single squadron mark yet achieved in the fighter group commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Harry Broadhurst.
Brannagan and his mates allowed only two of the group of Nazi fighters they met to escape.
F/O William Myers, of Windsor, Ont., bagged three of the enemy craft in what was largely a Border City triumph.
Brannagan - who first spotted the Huns - destroyed two and another fell to F/O Lloyd Plummer, also of Windsor.


R.C.A.F. Spitfire Fliers Catch 12 FW's, Down 10

With the R.C.A.F. in France, July 14, 1944 - (CP) - In their second spectacular victory in little more than a week, an R.C.A.F. Spitfire squadron commanded by Sqdn. Ldr. Tommy Brannagan, Windsor, Ont., Thursday night shot down in flames without loss to themselves 10 of a formation of 12 Focke-Wulf 190's spotted flying at tree-top level near Argentan, about 10 miles south of Caen.
Recently when the squadron ran into some Germans it destroyed five and its score stands now at 15 confirmed victories in two sorties, a record unequalled by any other fighter squadron in Normandy.
The squadron is part of the celebrated Canadian wing led by Wing-Cmdr. J.E. (Johnny) Johnson, much-decorated English airman from Nottingham, who, with 35 planes downed in air combat, is the leading Allied ace in this theatre.
Three of the German aircraft destroyed late Thursday fell before the guns of FO. Bill Myers of Windsor, Ont., a veteran of between 80 and 90 operational flights, whose only previous score was a half-share in the destruction of an enemy dive-bomber.
Brannagan himself got two. Flt. Lts. G.E. Mott of Sarnia, Ont., and J.C. Copeland of Toronto, FO's Lloyd (Lou) Plummer of Toronto, B.M. Mackenzie of Stettler, Alta., and D.H. Kimball of Onatucket, N.B., each got one.
Three of Thursday evening's victors also shared in the previous five-plane triumph when Brannagan shot down two and Kimball and Mott each got one.
Brannagan has been in command of the squadron for only a fortnight. The youthful airman, who started his second tour without any rest period, said the Germans "didn't have a chance because apparently they didn't see us until we were right down on them." He said the FW's were carrying bombs.
Typhoon fighter-bombers destroyed a bridge and smashed a section of rail track near Fleury-sur-Orne last night, in a dive-bombing assault against enemy lines of communication behind the battlefront.
The City of Ottawa squadron took off from this advanced base in two flights. One, led by Flt. Lt. Harold Gooding of Ottawa, smashed the bridge, and another flight led by the squadron commanding officer, Sqdn. Ldr. Bill Pentland of Calgary, struck the rail tracks approaching a second bridge near Etavaux, further north.
WO. Pat McConvey, 116 Barton Avenue, Toronto, said two planes ahead of him bombed the bridge with one direct hit right in the center. "The bridge was sagging in the center like a V when I last saw it," he added.
FO. John Dewar of London, Ont. reported, “I think the bridge had a little bent in it before we got there—anyway it's sure got one now.”



With the R.C.A.F. in Normandy, July 27, 1944 – (CP) - Canadian Spitfire pilots flying from beachhead airfields today destroyed at least 12 enemy aircraft. In an early morning sweep, F/L D.E. Noonan, Kingston, a City of Oshawa squadron pilot, destroyed a FW 190. He made his kill as the enemy aircraft was about to land. His victim crashed without a shot being fired while taking evasive action. F/L G.E. Mott, Sarnia, shot down a FW 190 over Argences. Mott, whose sixth victory this is, belongs to a squadron led by S/L Tommy Brannagan, Windsor. F/L W.R. McRae, Port Arthur, F/L G.W. Johnson, Belleville, and P/O M.H. Havers, Hamilton, all accounted for ME 109's.


Tommy in Jeep
Tommy Brannagan, Normandy 1944 - from Ron Lake's collection

Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, Sept, 25.—The Department or National Defense for Air today issued Casualty List No. 997 of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next of kin of those named from Ontario include:
Missing After Air Operations
BRANNAGAN, Thomas Anthony, Sqdn. Ldr. Thomas Brannagan (father), 877 Langlois Ave., Windsor.



Ottawa, Aug. 28, 1944 - (CP) - Air force headquarters announced tonight 10 awards — three Distinguished Service Orders, four Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Distinguished Flying Medals — to members of the RCAF serving overseas.
The D.S.O. went to three officers who previously had received the D.F.C. They were honored for continuing to display exceptional skill, determination and devotion to duty. The awards:

S/L G. D. S. Koester, D.F.C., Guatemala.
S/L J. R. McDonald, D.F.C., Victoria.
F/L H. B. Hay, Edmundston, N.B.
S/L B. D. C. Patterson, Calgary.
F/L D. W. McGowan, Saskatoon.
F/L T. A. Brannagan, Windsor.
F/O G. H. Farquharson, Corbyville, Ont.
Sgt. D. C. Harkness, whose wife, Mrs. P. L. Harkness, lives at 400 Woodfield Rd., Toronto.
Sgt. D. R. McEvoy, Lindsay Ont., (reported missing June 16, 1944).
Sgt. D. J. Webb of Kelowna, B.C.


BRANNAGAN, F/L Thomas Anthony (J10762) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.441 Sq.
Award effective 21 August 1944 as per London Gazette dated 29 August 1944 and
AFRO 2373/44 dated 3 November 1944.

F/L Brannagan has displayed qualities of leadership. He is a resolute and determined fighter pilot and has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft in addition to several enemy locomotives and ground installations. He has played a large part in the training of new personnel and the success of his unit is in no small measure due to him.

F/L Thomas Brannagan DFC

Thomas Brannagan


Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, Jan. 18, 1945 - The Department of National Defense for Air today issued Casualty List No. 1094 of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next of kin of those named from Ontario. Previously Missing on Active Service, Now Reported Prisoners of War (Germany):
BRANNAGAN, Thomas Anthony. S/L. Thomas Brannagan (father), Windsor.


Liberated Canadians

Ottawa, May 15, 1945 - (CP) - Defense Headquarters yesterday issued four lists giving names of Canadians liberated by the Allies from German prison camps. Among officers and other ranks mentioned in the four lists totaled 448, bringing to 3,545 the number of army personnel officially announced as liberated in Europe. Those named from Ontario in today's list follow:
R.C.A.F. Liberated List:
BRANNAGAN, Thomas Anthony, D.F.C. S/L – Windsor, Ontario


Free at last - Tommy Brannagan [left] & George Mercer shortly after their release. (Photo credit: "The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939 - 1945" by Larry Millberry & Hugh Halliday)

Brannagan & George Mercer


Victories Include :

19 Aug 1943
28 Mar 1944

28 April 1944
5 July 1944

13 July 1944
1/2 Me109
one Me410
one u/i s/e e/a
1/2 Ga. Goeland
one FW190
one FW190
two FW190s
destroyed (w/ Dowding) S of Flushing
destroyed OTG
destroyed (w/ Les Moore)
destroyed &
damaged  Alencon
destroyed W of Argentan

4 / 0 / 1  plus 2 OTG

Also claimed 40 MET destroyed  


In January 2000 the City of Windsor adopted a resolution to name the main terminal of their airport after him.

On August 14, 2004 The Canadian Historical Aircraft Association hosted the “Spitfire Swing – Brannagan Tribute Dance” in their WWII hangar at Windsor Airport.




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