Arthur Deane "Father" Nesbitt

RCAF G/C - DFC, OBE, Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau w/ Swords, CdG w/ Silver Star (Fr)

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'Scramble Angels,' Is Signal For R.C.A.F. Unit to Soar; Bags Three Nazi Raiders

(By SAM ROBERTSON) 4 September 1940 - A Royal Canadian Air Force Station, Somewhere in England - (CP Cable) - The command, "Scramble, Angels," sent the Royal Canadian Air Force Hurricane Squadron into a short, sharp battle today, in which they blew at least two, maybe three, Nazi raiders out of the sky and damaged others.
Twelve keen young Canadians faced the same number of Germans in a hot fight three miles over a London suburb. Compared with a recent row when they were outnumbered by more than five to one, but not outfought, today's skirmish was "duck soup" and "just like eating cake," they said when they came down — with bullet holes through two planes, but their manpower complete.
The latest success in the string they have registered since they first flew to battle nineteen days ago increased the Canadians' kill to ten German planes definitely destroyed, several others probably destroyed and many damaged.
Several of the damaged planes threw off so many splinters that it is doubtful they could have reached home.
I was sitting in a tiny hut among the men commanded by Squadron Leader Ernest McNab of Saskatoon, exchanging the latest news from Canada, fighting off the noonday heat with a soft drink, when the station's operation post telephoned: "On your toes, boys."
It meant that the Nazis were flying toward the area, though still many miles off.
The fliers had barely pulled themselves to their feet, picked up their helmets and gauntlets, when the phone tingled again. This time the man who answered it dropped his earpiece and shouted: "Scramble, Angels, 18."
It meant that the Germans were still pointing toward the airdrome and were dangerously near. The order meant that the squadron was to soar to 18,000 feet and set up a reception committee.
In exactly 100 seconds the boys had raced to the widely separated points where their comet-like Hurricanes were dispersed, climbed into their kit and cockpits and sat ready to take off. In another minute they had rolled to the end of the field and the first section of three started lifting toward the sky.
For tense minutes we waited on the ground scanning the sky, seeing nothing. Occasionally the faint drone of motors reached us but nothing more.

Start Drifting Home
Then the planes started drifting home, one closely following another. The paper which protects eight small circles on the wings from which as many machine guns spit hot lead had been torn and that told us that the boys had been in action.
A broad grin on the face of a Montreal red head who was the first man to dismount told us that the action had been successful.
The grin spread among the ground-bound waiters. Red's grin was duplicated by every other cloud jockey as he hoisted himself from his cockpit.
We soon learned that our twelve, sailing four miles up in a hot misty sky, spotted an even dozen Jerries a mile below.
"The sun was right at our elbow and smack in Jerry's eye," Red said. "We dived dash foomp," — dash meaning with the nose straight down and at scorching speed six to eight miles a minute.
The German Messerschmitt fighters, Jaguar fighters and bombers apparently were caught in the deafening roar of the rocketing Hurricanes. The Nazis formed a circle in an effort to protect each other's tail before the circle came apart in the face of the Canadians' concentrated fire.

"Ring Round the Rosy"
A blond, rugged-jawed youth (Dal Russel -jf) of 20 from London, Ont., wormed inside it and played a hellish game of "ring round the rosy." Circling in the opposite direction so that the enemy could not pop him without breaking the protective formation, he poured bullets into several raiders. One went down in flames. Another rolled over on its back "like a very sick gull."
With characteristic care to be on the safe side, the young Londoner was credited with only one bird and another "probable."
Another certain kill went to a tall Montrealer (Nesbitt -jf) whose thinning hair says he is in his early 30's. He, too, saw flames break out in a Messerschmitt after he had sent two bursts "smack into his belly."
Every manjack who went up returned with the satisfaction of knowing he had ripped at least one hail of bullets into an enemy in a skirmish that had lasted less than two minutes.
After that the Germans who were still able turned tails for home.
The Canadians had another look around. The sky was clear, so they wheeled back to their station.
I was not permitted to disclose the names of those who definitely knocked out raiders. For the present the squadron wants to emphasize its team spirit.

Sprenger Checks In
There was a brief dramatic interruption in the general jubilation after the flight when it was realized that Flying Officer Bill Sprenger, member of one of the units of many Montrealers, hadn't checked in. Only a couple of days before he had been forced to bail out when two Nazis shot his plane into flames while he was popping at a third.
But almost before there was time for worry, Bill telephoned from another airdrome to say he had come down to cool off an overheated motor. The fight, while it lasted, was that hot. That news sent the boys off to lunch with their spirits turning up a couple of thousand revolutions per minute.
Over their roast beef and Yorkshire pudding they talked little else but of the "duck soup" battle. You learned why it was duck soup. In the last brush they had with the enemy nine of them faced about fifty Jerries. Even at those odds they made four raiders "hit the deck" without losing a man of their own.


Born in Montreal, 16 November 1910.
Educated there.
Began flying with the Montreal Light Aeroplnane Club in 1933.
In 1936 was judged the most competent pilot in the club
(Winning the James Lytell Memorial Trophy).
Joined the RCAF (No.115 Squadron) 15 September 1939.
Obtained wings at Camp Borden, 11 April 1940.
Proceeded overseas with No.1 (C) Squadron.
Served in the Battle of Britain (wounded 15 September 1940).
Was the oldest Canadian in that battle.
Later commanded No.401 Squadron.
To Canada, 18 September 1941.
Commanding No.14 Squadron and then
No.111 Squadron (15 December 1941).
Promoted to Wing Commander, 15 June 1942 &
Given command of Station Annette Island.
To Station Boundary Bay, 10 October 1942.
C/O, No.6 SFTS, Dunneville, 30 Dec. 1943 to March 1944.
To UK to command No.144 Wing (16 April to 12 July 1944).
Joined No.83 Group HQ as Accidents Investigation Officer.
Promoted to Group Captain on 1 January 1945 &
Took over No.143 Wing.
Returned to Canada, 16 September 1945.
Retired from the RCAF on 27 November 1945.
Prominent in investment business and was
President of Nesbitt, Thompson & Co. for 25 years (1952-77)
(founded by his father, A.J. Nesbitt in 1912)
Handled accounts of Trans-Canada Pipelines, Ltd., &
Wrote a book on the early troubles of that company.
Died 22 February 1978 in Montreal after a
skiing accident on 4 Feb. left him almost totally paralysed.


In the book "The Spitfire Smiths" Chris Shores quotes Rod Smith - "One day in 1941, when I was on 412 Squadron, I had a very fierce dogfight with a Hurricane from 401 for twenty minutes. After I landed, I found out that the 401 pilot was the commander, Dean Nesbitt. He was in his late twenties and getting bald. I remember marvelling that such an old man could put up such a great fight."


RCAF Flier Is Wounded In Air Battle

Ottawa, Sept. 17, 1940 - (CP) - Flying Officer A. D. Nesbitt of Montreal was slightly wounded "in a flying battle" overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force on Sept. 15, it was announced today at R.C.A.F. headquarters.
Next of kin is the officer’s wife, Mrs. R. S. Nesbitt of 1296 Redpath Crescent, Montreal. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Nesbitt, live at 41 Forden Avenue, Westmount, Que.
The wounded officer was born in Montreal in 1910 and was educated at McGill University


Waiting Worse Than Fighting, Relief to Go Up, Says Flier

(By HAROLD DINGMAN.) Somewhere in England, May 18, 1941 - (BUP) - They live on raw nerves and oxygen, 30,000 feet above the ground, hurtling at 400 miles per hour against the enemy.
In this war you can't see a dog-fight from the ground, at least not much of it. What you see is whirling, twisting streaks of white vapor. A plane will shoot earthward in flames and you pray it is one of theirs.
Squadron Leader Dean Nesbitt of Montreal, an amateur pilot in peace­time, is in charge of one of the Canadian fighter squadrons now in action against the Jerries. He's been knocked out of the sky twice, but he's shot down nine Messerschmitts. Three of them have been confirmed and he's pretty sure of the other six.
Here's how he describes going into action: "When I get up there in the thick of a fight my mouth gets dry as sand. Ever chew gum? My mouth has been so dry I've had gum stick to my tongue."
We were talking as we walked across the airport, where the planes were in readiness for instant battle. It was a beautiful day, no wind and a clear sky. "Jerry won't come today, even though it's perfect flying weather," said Nesbitt. "He doesn't like to meet us, so he waits for low clouds, or darkness."
"Tell me about fighting," I asked.
"There's not much you can say," returned Nesbitt. "Waiting on the ground is worse than the real thing. Last September, when we were going up five times a day, knowing that every time we were in for a fight, we all got so tense I couldn't even write a letter in my spare mo­ments.
"The call to take off comes like a relief. We run like hell for our ships and pack upstairs in a hurry."
Nesbitt, in a dogfight over London, once bailed out at 23,000 feet" when a Jerry got his ship in a vulnerable spot and it burst into flames. He didn't open his chute until he was several thousand feet below his plane. Reason: "They machine-gun us in our parachutes. Nice, friendly fellows."
Another time his ship was put out of action but he brought it safely to earth. "It's best to stay with your aircraft. If you can roll into a cloud and dive you've got a good chance of saving the plane for another day."

Awarded D.F.C.
Wing Commander Gordon McGregor, also of Montreal, who recently won the D.F.C, has shot down three and a half Nazi planes, plus six probables plus nine possibles. (When a pilot is credited with half a plane it means another ship has participated in the fight.)
"How did you win your D.F.C?" I asked. "Oh, I just pooped down a few Huns."
"But what was the specific incident?" I pressed him. "Nothing, really. Just pooped them down and some one thought it was a good show, I suppose."
"How many did you knock out?"
"I think it's a lousy idea to give individual pilots credit. When you get into a fight upstairs you hardly know who had pooped them down. They should all go to the squadron's record, not the pilot's."
"But how many are you credited with?"
"You should look up the squadron's record. That tells a better story."
"But how many for you? What does the Air Ministry give you?"
McGregor looked a bit irritated. "You ask a lot of questions, but I suppose you have to do it."
His office is over a huge hangar on the field, and through the open doorway I heard the sudden order to take off. "Patrol at 10,000 feet," came the order. McGregor went to the window.

Patrol But No Luck
Two hours later the fighter ships were back. "No luck," said a young, fair-haired kid of about 21. "Must have come in to the coast and swung off again."
The Canadians are on constant patrol over the Channel and over France. This daily performance they call "dusting off France." It's the hazardous business of roaring in on German-held ports, airdromes, troop concentrations and military objectives.
There have been surprisingly few casualties. Sometimes they go deliberately hunting for trouble. That is, they fly at low altitudes on reconnaissance work and photography. When the job is done they sweep across airports and troop centers, spraying machine-gun bullets.
Last September was the toughest month of the war. The Nazi hornets came in droves, with flights stepped at 23,000, 26,000, 29,000 and 32,000 feet. But they've never tried it since — they lost too many planes and too many men.
"Sometimes I even wish they would come back," said Nesbitt. "The odds were all against us, but we made them run for home. When our ships were disabled, our men used to bail out, rush back to their airport, get another plane and climb back into the fight."


Fliers From Dominion Now Fighting in Russia

Ottawa, Sept. 19, 1941 - (CP) - Wing Commander Gordon Roy McGregor of Montreal, just back from overseas, said today a number of Canadians are in the Royal Air Force wing now operating in Russia. But he said there are no Canadian squadrons there.
The wing commander, former Officer Commanding No. 1 Canadian Fighter Squadron, was talking to newspapermen at a press conference also attended by Squadron Leader A. Dean Nesbit of Montreal, another veteran overseas flier. Both hold the Distinguished Flying Cross, the award to Nesbitt being announced only last week.
Wing Commander McGregor said so many Canadians are serving in the Royal Air Force that it is almost impossible to find a squadron without some men from the Dominion in it.
The two fliers said air fighting is still sharp, but that the air front in the West has been pushed back from around the Thames River to a line about fifty miles inland from the French coast.
Early in the war, British airmen's operations over enemy-held territory were of such a nature that the Germans didn't have to put up much opposition. That has changed now and "it is necessary for them to put up opposition and they are doing it," McGregor said.
He told interviewers he could not say what either side could do if it came to an all-out fight in the air, but the front could not have been moved back "without the relative strength of the two sides having changed.” Squadron Leader Nesbitt said it was impossible to fly over Southern England a year ago without bumping into an enemy fighter. Now one had to go to France to find them. The only enemy planes coming over Britain were single bombers.
Both officers stressed the important functions of other members of the aircrew besides the pilot. The public seemed to have the impression the pilots were the important men, they said, but pilots with experience in operational flying did not think so.
Only in single-seater day fighters did the pilot do the whole job. On bombers and night fighters, the work of other crew members was vitally important.


NESBITT, S/L Arthur Deane (C1327) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.401 Squadron
Award effective 23 September 1941 as per London Gazette of that date &
AFRO 1292/41 dated 7 November 1941

This officer has displayed fine leadership and exceptional devotion to duty throughout a long period of active operations against the enemy. On a particular occasion in December 1940, Squadron Leader Nesbitt led a section of aircraft over the sea for two hours without wireless assistance in extremely adverse weather conditions. Visibility was precisely nil. His judgement enabled the section eventually to land safely, although their petrol was practically exhausted, without loss to personnel. Squadron Leader Nesbitt has destroyed two enemy aircraft.

NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/8462 has recommendation drafted 31 August 1941 by the Officer Commanding, Station Digny.

For his leadership and exceptional devotion to duty while flying continually on active operations against the enemy for a period of twelve months, from August 17th, 1940 to August 23rd, 1941 during which time he destroyed one Messerschmitt 109 on September 4th, 1940 and one Messerschmitt 109 on September 15th, 1940, and for his coolness and courage on 31st December 1940, whilst leading a section of three Hurricane aircraft over the sea for a period of approximately two hours, after having lost R/T touch in conditions of icing and a 50-300 feet ceiling with practically no visibility, used such judgment that enabled the aircraft to land after having exhausted their petrol, without any loss of personnel.

This was supported by Air Vice-Marshal R.E. Saul, Air Officer Commanding, No.12 Group, who wrote:

Deane Nesbitt
 Deane Nesbitt

I strongly recommend the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Squadron Leader A.D. Nesbitt, whose leadership and personal example have done so much to maintain his squadron in a high state of efficiency. This officer recently returned to Canada, very much against his will.

The award was approved by Air Marshal Sholto Douglas, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Fighter Command, on 10 September 1941.


Veterans of Present War Anxious to Return to Air Battle

A West Coast Canadian Port, May 4, 1942 — Action-hungry fighter pilots, some of whom fought with distinction in the Battle of Britain, are manning a Pacific coast defence station of the Royal Canadian Air Force with itching trigger fingers.

"It rather gets you, this game," said Flight Lieutenant H.T. Mitchell, D.F.C., of Port Hope, a member of the "Thunderbird" squadron stationed here. "We'd like to go anywhere for action. If it ever comes here we are ready and the boys will give a good account of themselves. They are a grand bunch and rarin' to go — and they can go, believe me."
F/L Mitchell, who has spent most of his 22 years in England, joined the RAF in 1933 and flew Hurricanes in France before Dunkirk, being credited with downing three Nazi planes before the blitz. When it came he was credited with 4 more. He received the DFC a year ago.

The squadron is commanded by Squadron Leader A.D. Nesbitt, DFC, 27, Montreal-born investment dealer who joined the RCAF in 1939 and went overseas in June, 1940, just in time for the Nazi air blitz on the British Isles.

Another veteran of the Battle of Britain is F/L J.W. Kerwin, 23, of Toronto, credited with three Nazi planes before he was shot down himself in September, 1940. F/L Kerwin joined the RCAF in January, 1939, and went overseas in June, 1940. On September 1st his gas tank was riddled and his plane caught fire at 17,000 feet, but he bailed out safely.

Pilot Officer Harold Orville Gooding, 22-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Gooding, 19 Morris Street, a well-known figure throughout the city as a hockey player.
He is a graduate of Glebe Collegiate and was a member of the junior hockey team and later played for the Hull Volants and the Montagnards. For several years he was a Citizen paper boy. Following his education he was employed with the Department of Transport, and enlisted last May. Pilot Officer Gooding was among the first group of airmen to receive wings from a woman.

P/O Walter H. David "Dave" Hanchet is the 21-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Hanchet, 139 Fentiman Avenue.
Born in Ottawa, he was educated at the local schools and Glebe Collegiate. Following his third year of mechanical engineering at McGill University, he enlisted in April, 1940. In December he graduated from a flying training school at St. Hubert. Que., as a sergeant pilot and the next day he was made a pilot officer.

The fighter squadron is named after the Thunderbird, which in the mythology of the coast Indians was regarded as ruler of the skies. Its pilots average 22 years of age and hail from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the United States.

Other members of the squadron include H.C. Stiles, Cornwall; Sgt. Pilots A.E. Clarke, North Bay, Ont.; F.J. Crowley, Brockville, Ont.; S.R.J. McLeod, Alexandria; G.T. Schwalm, Toronto, and F.R.F. Skelly, Kirkland Lake.


Power Backs Edwards on Operations in Britain

Ottawa, June 30, 1942 - (CP) - Operational control of Canadian air squadrons in the United Kingdom by the Royal Air Force is "thoroughly satisfactory," Air Minister Power told The Canadian Press today, and there is no intention on the part of Canada to make any change.
While the Royal Canadian Air Force is building up its own squadrons of fighters and bombers and hopes eventually to have bomber groups comprised of several squadrons, Major Power said there was never any intention of taking over from the R.A.F. control of operations.
Thus the Air Minister endorsed the statements made at a press conference in London today by Air Vice-Marshal Harold Edwards, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, R.C.A.F. overseas, that the way air operations are continuing under the R.A.F. is "entirely satisfactory."
The way it works out is that while Canadian squadrons are commanded by Canadians they take their orders as to the targets to attack, and the details of the flights, from the R.A.F.
In the Aleutian Islands Canadian air squadrons sent there at the request of the United States are under the operational control of the American commander. Canada sent some of its most brilliant and distinguished airmen to the Aleutians, including Wing Commander G. R. McGregor, a hero of the Battle of Britain; Squadron Leader Dean Nesbitt, both of Montreal, and Squadron Leader E. M. Reyno of Sydney, B.C.
Regarding reports from London that when the United States built up a large air force in the United Kingdom, it would have its own operational control, Major Power said he had no information as to what progress the United States had made in that direction, but it would not be feasible for Canada to do the same.
Such a step by Canada would require its own intelligence service and its own economic body to know what targets to bomb. It would be like setting up another Government for Canada in the United Kingdom. It would be even more difficult to have the Canadian fighter squadrons under separate control.


Went Into Action Two Years Ago, Canadian Fliers Have Won 6 DFC's
Proud Record Compiled by Only R.C.A.F. Unit in Battle of Britain

By FLYING OFFICER BASIL DEAN, R.C.A.F. London, July 17, 1942 — Canada's first fighter squadron to precede overseas — the only R.C.A.F. unit to serve during the Battle of Britain — has just celebrated its second anniversary. It was two years ago in June that the squadron landed in Great Britain.
Since that day, it has carved out a fine name for itself in the Battle of Britain. It accounted for a considerable number of German raiders, and since then took a leading part in the great daylight sweeps over Northern France which Fighter Command has been staging during the summers of 1941 and 1942.
Today it is commanded by Squadron Leader Keith Hodson of London, Ont., former chief instructor at the service flying school in Moncton, N.B., with 2,000 flying hours in his log book. A former commanding officer, who was moved recently, is Squadron Leader A. G. Douglas, an R.A.F. pilot who was awarded the D.F.C. for his work with the squadron. Two other members of the squadron got D.F.C.s at the same time — Flight Lieutenant Eugene (Jeep) Neal of Quebec City and Flight Lieutenant Ian (Ormie) Ormston of Montreal. Seven decorations in all have been awarded to members of the squadron.

Two Squadrons Merge
The squadron was born from the amalgamation of two pre-war Canadian squadrons, No. 1, which was based at Calgary, and No. 115, which had its headquarters at Montreal. The boys first got together on the boat early in June, and by the time they landed at an English port, were fairly well acquainted. First, they were at "A" for a couple of days after landing, and then went to a station in the vicinity of "B" for three weeks. July 7 saw them at "X," not far from London. It was at the latter station, they say, that "we found out what the war was all about."
A day or two before they were scheduled to leave for still another station Jerry came over to leave his visiting card with the Canadians.
"That night we really got a pasting," the veteran members of the squadron recall. There were no casualties, however, although a bomb went right through the orderly room. Some members of the squadron will tell you that this bomb was the only "good" one the Nazis have dropped in the whole war. It destroyed, it seems, many squadron records, including the crime sheets. All petty offenses any one had committed prior to that date, therefore, were wiped out and forgotten.
The squadron moved on to another station according to schedule, however, and it was at this new station, Aug. 26, that it first went into combat as a unit. A few days previously Squadron Leader (now Group Captain) Ernest McNab, who later won the D.F.C., Went on an operational trip with another squadron "just to see what it was like," and managed to shoot down an enemy aircraft. The first action as a squadron, however, was on Aug. 26 and it was the date they lost their first pilot, Flying Officer Robert L. Edwards.
It was a grand record for the first time out, however. The squadron was ordered to intercept twenty-five enemy bombers raiding Britain, and they did so with a vengeance. They destroyed three Do215’s and damaged three others, and pretty well broke up the formation.
In the show that day were a number of pilots whose names have since become bywords in Canada in this war. There were Flight Lieutenants G. R. McGregor, A. Dean Nesbitt and V. B. Corbett, and Flying Officers Jean Paul Desloges, H. de M. Molson and D. B. Russel. Including the squadron leader, six of these men now wear the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Two of the first Focke-Wulf 190's shot down by Allied airmen went to the credit of the squadron on Nov. 22, when the total score was four destroyed, one probable and four damaged. On that day Flight Lieutenant Ian Ormston, later to become a flight commander and holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, got his first enemy aircraft. It was the first aerial combat, too, for another who was to become a Flight Commander with a D.F.C., Flight Lieutenant E. L. (Jeep) Neal. Flying Officer H. A. (Hank) Sprague was reported missing in that day's operations, and is now a prisoner of war.
Then on Feb. 12 of this year the squadron took part in the "Scharnhorst do," up the English Channel, and in this affair raised a score of two destroyed and two damaged. Many times, this spring and early summer, they have gone out over the Channel or over France without seeing an enemy. At other times he has fled home.
While many former members have gone to other squadrons, the "Newcomers" still carry on. There is Sergeant Don Morrison of Toronto, who has destroyed two enemy aircraft and helped destroy another, besides between two and three damaged on his board. There is Ian Ormston, who destroyed two and helped destroy another, besides a probable and a damaged. And there are many others.


Deane Nesbitt

Wing-Cmdr. A. D. Nesbitt, D.F.C, Now in Charge at Dunnville

A former commanding officer of No. 1 Canadian Fighter Squadron overseas, Wing Commander A. Dean Nesbitt, D.F.C, was recently appointed commanding officer of No. 6 Service Flying Training School, R.C.A.F., at Dunnville.
The new CO., only 33 years of age, was born at Montreal, son of A. J. Nesbitt, of Nesbitt & Thompson investment dealers of Montreal and Toronto. He enlisted in the R.C.A.F. on September 15, 1939, just five days after Canada entered the war. He had been a member of the Montreal Flying Club and had 200 flying hours to his credit on enlistment. He received his wings at Camp Borden in March, 1940, and went overseas in June of the same year. He was posted to No. 1 Canadian Fighter Squadron, which was attached to the Royal Air Force for operations. It was a Hurricane squadron and he joined it as a pilot officer. Promotion was rapid and a year later he was in command with the rank of Squadron Leader. It was during this tour of operations that he was wounded and was awarded the D.F.C.

Returned to Canada
In September, 1941, he was returned to Canada and formed a squadron of Kittyhawks at Rockcliffe. In December, 1941, immediately after Pearl Harbour, the squadron was moved to the west coast and operated there until the attack on Dutch Harbour in June, 1942, when it was transferred to Alaska. Shortly after arrival in Alaska, he left the squadron to take command of an Alaskan station and was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander. He left Alaska in the fall of 1942, reporting to air force headquarters at Ottawa, remaining in that city until posted to Dunnville.


Canadian Establishes First Airfield in Reich

A Forward RCAF Airfield, April 23, 1945 - (CP) - Group Capt. Dean Nesbitt, DFC, of Montreal, former Battle of Britain pilot who opened the first Canadian Air Station in Alaska and commanded the first Allied air­field in Europe, led the first RCAF airfield into Germany.
His present command is the Typhoon Fight-Bomber Wing which has pounded German railways and communications incessantly during its five months sojourn in Holland. Since the Rhine crossing the Typhoons have attacked numerous strongpoints and gun positions in co-operation with the army. This move will add many miles to the Typhoon sweeps into Germany.
Advance crews and fuel and am­munition, rolled on in a miniature road convoy for more than 24 hours before the squadrons took off to fly to the new field.
As each section completed its task and was no longer required at the airfield in Holland, it moved off and pitched tents and set up living facilities at the German field.
Leading the advance party, which staked out the living sites and laid out the new camp on the German field, was Group Capt. Nesbitt. He landed with his former command, a Spitfire wing, on the Normandy beachhead on D-Plus Six — the first Allied airfield in liberated Europe. He was posted to the Typhoon wing on Jan. 1 of this year, and he arrived on the station a few minutes before the Luftwaffe, which strafed the runways and parked aircraft.


Victories Include :

24 Aug 1940
26 Aug 1940
4 Sep 1940
15 Sep 1940
1/3 Blenheim
one Do215
one Me109
one Me109

destroyed *

3.33 / 0 / 0 - 6

* Shared with Arthur Yuile & Bill Sprenger (claimed as Ju88)

I've read that he had 6 damaged but found no records of such


NESBITT, G/C Arthur Deane, DFC (C1327) - Officer, OBE  (Order of the British Empire) - Overseas
Award effective 1 January 1946 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 155/46 dated 15 February 1946. No citation to OBE.


NESBITT, G/C Arthur Deane, OBE, DFC - Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords
Awarded 12 September 1947 as per AFRO 485/47 of that date &
Canada Gazette dated 20 September 1947
Offer and citation communicated 9 December 1946 in a letter from Air Marshal Robert Leckie
(Chief of Air Staff) to Minister of National Defence

As commander of an RAF [sic] wing in Fighter Command this officer has very greatly contributed to the liberation of the Netherlands in the period between January 1945 and the summer of 1945, thanks to his courageous and meritorious conduct on the land and in the air.

NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/9140 has a more detailed citation as drafted for Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee:

Group Captain Nesbitt commanded No.143 Wing from January 194 to August 1945. He took over command while the Wing was at Eindhoven on the day on which the enemy made their daring attacks on the majority of the airfields in 2nd Tactical Air Force. From the day he took over, Group Captain Nesbitt displayed the greatest devotion to duty and, by his keenness and enthusiasm, imbued the finest fighting spirit into his Wing in their attacks against the enemy. His outstanding organizing ability and forceful personality played a most important part in this Wing's fighting efficiency. Group Captain Nesbitt invariably displayed inspiring leadership and outstanding gallantry.


NESBITT, G/C Arthur Deane (C1327) - Croix de Guerre with Silver Star (France)
Award effective 12 September 1947 as per AFRO 485/47 of that date &
Canada Gazette dated 20 September 1947

Note: On 24 September 1940, Air Commodore G.V. Walsh (Air Officer Commanding, RCAF in Great Britain) addressed the following letter to the Secret, Department of National Defence for Air, Ottawa, respecting F/O A.D. Nesbitt:

I am directed to advise that the above named officer was in combat with enemy aircraft on 15-9-40. His aircraft was badly damaged and he was forced to leave by parachute. In leaving the aircraft he was struck by the empennage which caused contusion of neck and cheek muscles. On being picked up he was taken to Pembury County Hospital but was later transferred to No.5 Canadian General Hospital, RCAMC. He has since been discharged and is at present on seven days sick leave.

It is believed that Flying Officer Nesbitt shot down an enemy aircraft before his own was damaged.




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