Hartland Ross "Hart" Finley


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Hart Finlay

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Flt. Lt. Beurling Down's 31st Plane Over French Area

London, December 30, 1943 – (CP Cable) – Canada's top ranking fighter ace, F/L George Beurling of Verdun, Québec, shot down his 31st enemy plane today - one of four destroyed by RCAF fighters.
One of Beurling's squadron mates, F/O William Bliss of Toronto, shot down another while the other two successful pilots were P/O Hart Finley of Montréal and P/O Claude Weaver of Oklahoma City.
The combats, from which all the Canadian Planes returned, took place southeast of Paris, where enemy fighters attempted to intercept United States heavy bombers returning from an attack on Germany. Beurling and Bliss shot down Focke-Wulf 190s, while Finley and Weaver destroyed Messerschmitt 109's.
Beurling, who destroyed the Nazi after a 20 mile chase, saw the enemy blow up after one short burst. The pilot bailed out.
It was the first enemy plane downed by Beurling since he celebrated his return to action September 24 by getting his 30th. He had been yearning to get back into combat flying ever since he was stationed in Malta, where he ran his score of downed planes from two to 29.
He transferred from the RAF to the RCAF September 1 to get back into the air. Before that, he had been assigned to an instructor's job in an RAF gunnery school after his return to Britain from a leave in Canada.

Played With Uplands
Pilot Officer Hart Finley is known to all football fans, having played the 1942 season here with the Uplands RCAF team in this city's Senior Football League. Finley played outside wing. The uplands team won the local championship and later bowed to Toronto RCAF Hurricanes in the Eastern Canada final at Toronto.


Born in Montreal, 1920
Home there
Educated at McGill University
Former COTC and RCA
Enlisted in Montreal, 14 September 1940
Trained at
No.1 ITS (graduated 21 December 1940)
No.4 EFTS (graduated 20 February 1941) &
No.9 SFTS (graduated 28 May 1941)
Instructed at 2 SFTS, Uplands for one year
Commissioned from W/O to P/O in 1942
Made F/O in January 1943
To the UK February 1943
Spent March at 14 (P)AFU & 5(P)AFU
April at 59 OTU
Posted to 1 Sqn in June but
Moved to 416 later in the month
Bailed out of a malfunctioning Spit on 12 Aug
Rescued from the Channel
Transferred to 403 Sq. in September
Promoted to F/L in March 1944
Attended Fighter Leader's course in May-June
Posted to 53 OTU in July as an instructor
In August he was attached to the FAA for a short stint
Back to OTU then to A & AEE for September
Went to Canada on leave in December 1944
Back to the UK in February 1945
Rejoined 403 Squadron in March
Posted to 443 Squadron in April
Missing (safe), 2 May 1945
Returned to his unit 3 days later
Awarded the DFC on 24 July
Promoted to S/L later that month
Joined RCAF HQ in September
But returned to Canada the next month & was
Released from service
Flew for KLM 1946-48
Served with the Canadian Dept. of Transport
And the Boy Scouts of Canada
Lived in Ottawa until 2005 when he & his wife Margaret
Moved to Victoria to be closer to their daughters
Hart passed away 22 January 2009


Allies Batter Pas de Calais Through Day

Jan. 21, 1944 - (AP) - Hundreds of Allied planes blasted the French invasion coast today, following last night's R.A.F.-R.C.A.F. raid on Berlin, the largest aerial attack ever made on the Nazi capital, and German long-wave radio transmitters left the air tonight, possibly indicating Berlin was under attack for the second successive night.
In a new attack cycle with reinforced strength, many types of R.A.F. planes and United States heavy and medium bombers raked mysterious Nazi forward defenses during the day in the Pas-de-Calais area.
Perhaps 2,000 tons of bombs crashed down on the French coast targets. In its attack Thursday, night the R.A.F. - R.C.A.F., hit Berlin with more than 2,300 tons.

Eleven Plants Smashed
A responsible informant in Stockholm said 11 war factories in the German capital's east end were struck and the Borough of Neukoelln to the southeast was badly damaged. Many Berliners with whom travelers talked said the raid was the worst yet on the Reich's heart. They reported there were at least 30 huge fires at one time, 11 of which still were blazing furiously today.
In a combined announcement the Air Ministry and the United States Army gave an unusual play-by-play of the day's operations against the Pas-de-Calais area, which now has been attacked on 22 of the last 31 days and which popularly is supposed to contain German rocket gun emplacements.
The announcement stated that when the first favorable weather in several days arrived, the bombing was begun by R.A.F. Hurricane and Typhoon bombers.
These were quickly followed by United States medium bombers, braving flak fields without loss. Bombs from R.A.F. Bostons, Mitchells and Mosquitos then began to fall and two Mosquitos were lost in low-level bombing and cannon attacks.

Topped Of by Heavies
United States heavy bombers delivered the final blow, while throughout the attacks squadrons of Spitfires and Typhoons splattered enemy airfields to keep Nazi fighter planes on the ground.
R.C.A.F. pilots escorting the American heavy bombers shot down two German Focke-Wulf 190’s. F/O Hart Finley, of Westmount Que. and P/O Claude Weaver of Oklahoma City, Okla. were the successful pilots.
As dawn rose over England, watchers saw Spitfires, then RAF fighter bombers, then United States medium bombers and finally large formations of United States heavy bombers under escort cross toward military installations in a 50-square-mile French zone. Returning aviators disclosed that the Germans were heavily reinforcing the anti-aircraft defenses of the Pas-de-Calais area, which now has been attacked on 22 of the last 31 days. Eight types of bombers pressed home the attack all day against undisclosed targets popularly supposed to be rocket-gun emplacements.

Few Fighters Up
Despite the heavy antiaircraft fire, few enemy fighters were reported as the attack fleet, returning after a week's absence, sowed with bombs the barricaded, forest-dotted promontory 25 miles across the Channel from England.
Perhaps 2,000 tons of bombs crashed down on the French targets, which, with more than 2,300 tons dropped by the RAF and RCAF on Berlin, made an unusually heavy load of explosives and incendiaries dumped on the enemy in less than 24 hours.
The 11th of a series of obliteration raids on Berlin was delivered by an estimated 800 heavy bombers, including nine Canadian squadrons, which unloaded an average of 77 tons of bombs each minute during the half-hour attack. The previous record load was the 2,300-ton bombing of Berlin Nov. 22.
Thirty-five bombers, including Canadian, failed to come home as the Germans made frantic efforts to save their capital.
The big bomber fleet took off from England in the late afternoon 18 days after the last attack. First a group of swift, twin-engined Mosquito bombers laid down a feint bombardment of Northwest Germany. Then the "heavies" came in, plowing through overcast weather that hampered Nazi fighters but failed to interfere with Allied aim. German fighters made flare-paths in the sky and occasional rocket-shells burst like big balls of fire. As the bombers ran in and unloaded, flames licked the sky from the burning city, and clouds flickered with light from the block-busters exploding below.

Gigantic Fires Started
Many fliers minimized the opposition they encountered. They said: "Jerry simply wasn't there. It wasn't like the Jerry we've run into before." Others called the antiaircraft barrage "loose" and said the nightfighters were "late."
But the losses—second highest of the campaign against Berlin—made clear the Germans were fighting back, and Swedish reports said the Germans had steadily augmented their anti-aircraft batteries in an attempt to save what was still left of Berlin.
Gigantic new fires started, belching smoke thousands of feet into the air. One unconfirmed report said the Friedrichstasse Station in central Berlin was hit and surrounding area devastated, dislocating traffic and reducing bus service this morning to skeleton service.
The Canadian force, made up of Lancaster and Halifax bombers, dropped the heaviest bomb loads since the Canadian bomber group was formed a little more than a year ago.
It was the operational debut of the group's newest squadron —the Porcupine— which has been adopted by the Township of Tisdale and Timmins, on Northern Ontario's famed Porcupine gold mining district. An English wing commander, C. B. Sifton, D.F.C., who enlisted in the R.C.A.F. at Vancouver, led the squadron. Other squadrons in the raid included the Thunderbird, Leaside, Iroquois, Bluenose, Lion, Goose, Bison and Ghost.


Sept. 1943. Andy MacKenzie (L front) & pilots of 403 Sq. investigate a Sherman tank.
That's Hugh Godefroy in R front position & Hart Finley behind him in the turtleneck.


FINLEY, F/L Hartland Ross (J14030) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.443 Sq.
Award effective 10 July 1945 as per London Gazette dated 24 July 1945 and
AFRO 1619/45 dated 19 October 1945.

Flight Lieutenant Finley has destroyed four enemy aircraft and damaged one more. In addition, whilst leading low level attacks he has destroyed one enemy aircraft and damaged three more on the ground. He has always shown courage and determination on all his sorties despite heavy opposition from anti-aircraft fire. Flight Lieutenant Finley has at all times shown skill and devotion to duty of the highest order.


Victories Include :

30 Dec 1943
21 Jan 1944
30 Jun 1944
23 Apr 1945
25 Apr 1945

2 May 1945
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one FW190
one FW190
two Ju87s
one u/i e/a
1/2 Ju88
damaged &
403 Squadron
403 Squadron
403 Squadron
403 Squadron

all OTG, 443 Sq.
443 Squadron  [1]

3.5 / 0 / 1
1 / 0 / 3 On The Ground

[1] Shared with F/O M. J. Clow. On this occasion, Finley’s aircraft was hit by the rear gunner’s return fire and Finley had to bale out of his burning plane. He returned to the squadron three days later.


See also

Article at Vintage Wings

Article at 403 Squadron blog



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