John Maxwell "Max" Portz

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Youthful Flyers Are Disappointed
“Couldn't Do Anything"
Say Canucks After Eight Hours in Air

With the R.C.A.F. Somewhere in England, Aug. 21, 1942 - (CP) Cables - Two airmen sprawled on the grass of this Canadian fighter station, loose-limbed from relaxing after the day's terrific activity against Nazi flyers and protested, "Shucks, we didn't do anything."
They were wiry-haired P/O Gordy Mather, of Ottawa, and P/O Maxwell Portz, of Weyburn, Sask.
"I didn't even fire my guns once," said Mather.
"I was 'jumped' once and that's all that happened to me," chimed in Portz.
Even though these two youngsters — Mather is 23 and Portz 27 — "didn't do anything" they spent as much time in the air Wednesday over Dieppe and the English Channel as the average business man spends behind his desk in a day.
They couldn't "do anything," said these two young members of the "Canadian" squadron once commanded by the legless W/C Douglas Bader, because it wasn't their job to shoot down Jerries.
They were in one squadron whose job was to provide aerial cover. They were in what is called "low cover" and had to keep their positions and resist temptations to dart off on the tail of the diving, twisting Focke-Wulfs which attempted to smash the commander convoy.
They didn't even see much of what was going on at Dieppe because they had to keep one eye on the convoy of Canadians and the other on stray FW-190s.


Born 22 April 1917 in Vautage, Saskatchewan.
Hotel worker, 1935-1936.
Mental Hospital Attendant.
Department of Public Health, 1936-1940 (Regina and Weyburn).
Home in Weyburn (civil servant).
Enlisted in Regina, 5 November 1940.
Posted to No.2 Manning Depot.
No.7 SFTS, Macleod, (guard duty), 17 December 1940,
No.2 ITS, 20 February 1941; promoted LAC, 8 April 1941,
No.18 EFTS, Boundary Bay; 9 April 1941,
No.12 SFTS, Brandon, 19 June 1941
(graduated 1 September 1941 and promoted to Sergeant).
Warned for embarkation, 2 September 1941.
To RAF overseas, 20 September 1941.
Taken on strength of No.3 PRC, Bournemouth, 4 October 1941.
To No.54 OTU, date uncertain.
To No.52 OTU, 10 February 1942.
To No.242 Squadron, 14 April 1942.
Went with 242 to Takoradi, 28 October 1942.
Scored 'new' 242's 1st claim (a Ju88 probable, 3 June 1942.
Commissioned 27 June 1942.
To North Africa in November 1942.
Arrived in Malta, 3 June 1943.
Arrived in UK via Gibraltar, 27 June 1943.
To No.57 OTU, 4 September 1943.
Attached to Sutton Bridge, 15 September to 13 October 1943.
Attached to Ballachy, 8-21 February 1944.
Special leave in Canada, 18 April to 24 June 1944
(the latter date being his taken on strength of No.83 GSU).
To No.83 Group, 8 July 1944.
To No.411 Squadron, 28 July 1944.
Returned to UK from the Continent, 15 February 1945.
To RCAF Overseas Headquarters, 13 March 1945.
To No.6 Group Headquarters, 21 March 1945
(apparently for Intelligence duties).
To No.8 Aircrew Holding Unit, 4 August 1945.
To RCAF Overseas Headquarters, 1 October 1945.
Award presented by King George 30 October 1945.
Repatriated 23 November 1945.
Released 15 March 1946.
He flew as a bush pilot for some years.
At one point he crashed in the water and clung to a piece of
fuselage for a few days until he was found.
Rejoined RCAF in Medicine Hat, 11 October 1951 as pilot.
To Primary Training School, Calgary, 15 November 1951.
To Canadian Joint Air Training Centre, Rivers, Man., 19 Jan. 1951.
To No.402 (Auxiliary) Squadron, Winnipeg, 16 March 1952.
To Canadian Joint Air Training Centre, 13 January 1955.
To No.442 (Auxiliary) Squadron, 30 July 1955.
Retired 24 July 1956.
Died in Rossland, British Columbia, May 1988 as per Airforce
Magazine of January-February-March 1989, Royal Canadian Legion
“Last Post” website & Legion Magazine of September 1988.

Training: Interviewed in Regina, 20 July 1940 when described as “Good type; quiet, confident, neat and clean, intelligent.”

At No.2 ITS course was 21 February to 28 March 1941. Courses and marks as follows: Mathematics (81/100), Armament, practical and oral (62/100), Signals (49/50), Hygiene and sanitation (37/40), Drill (85/100), Law and Discipline (49/60), Link (85/100). Placed 62nd in class of 163. “Former attendant, mental hospital, Saskatchewan; four years also relieving supervisor. Appears to have natural ability and to be alert. Responds quickly to inspection. Baseball and softball best games, championship teams both.”

Course at No.18 EFTS was 10 April to 8 June 1941, Tiger Moth aircraft (27 hours dual, 34.05 solo, of which five hours was instrument flying. Also logged ten hours in Link. Rated "above average”. CFI wrote, “above average student, very industrious and reliable. Attitude towards work is entirely satisfactory. Shows considerable ability as a pilot, should be sufficiently responsible to be put in charge of heavy aircraft.” Courses and marks as follows: Airmanship (112/200), Airframes (81/100), Aero Engines (75/100), Signals, practical (88/100), Theory of Flight (69/100), Air Navigation (156/200), Armament, oral (144/200). Placed 37th in a class of 63. “This student appears to be a little irresponsible at times, although his flying duties have proved to be a high average; he should be made a twin-engined pilot. His conduct average.” (H. Shelly, Chief Ground Instructor and S/L J. Bervan, Chief Supervisory Officer).

Course at No.12 SFTS was 23 June to 1 September 1941. Aircraft was Cessna Crane (37 hours 30 minutes day dual, 35 hours 25 minutes day solo, four hours ten minutes night dual, five hours 50 minutes night solo. Of this, fifteen hours on instruments. Logged 20 hours in Link. Had one accident, 22 July 1941, 2030 hours, Crane 7741 with P/O W.D. McKay (J4246) and R56810 LAC A.W. Kennedy (Aero Engine Mechanic) - landed with wheels retracted - battery had failed and undercarriage jammed so crank not used. “Good progress throughout course; has no outstanding faults.” Ground courses and marks as follows: Airmanship and Maintenance (176/200), Armament, written (50 2 / 100), Armament, practical (59/100), Navigation and Meteorology (109/200), Signals, written (96/100), Signals, practical (40/50). “Average student but inclined to be hasty and careless. Conduct good - application good”.

Course at No.52 OTU was 10 February to 14 April 1942. Flew Spitfires - 89 hours 25 minutes of which 1.25 was on instruments and 29.50 in formation (also 12.35 in Link). Considered average in almost all areas except Persistence and Initiative where he was “above average”. Fired 3,200 rounds air-to-air, 1,600 rounds air-to-ground. W/C H. Rhys wrote, “This man was completely discouraged, when he came here from a night OTU. A little encouragement and appreciation made a great difference, and he promises to be a very useful member of a squadron.”

Notes: Damaged Spitfire VB, BL922, Category B, 1820 hours, 27 August 1942 with No.242 Squadron. At the time he had 159 hours 55 minutes on type, 363 hours 25 minutes over all. “While returning from an operational sweep, the aircraft I was flying, Spitfire BL922 started to vibrate slightly and the engine began to run roughly. While trying to keep in formation with the remainder of the squadron the engine developed an internal glycol leak and caused engine failure. I immediately cut switches and went into course pitch; the propeller continued to turn during glide and when I attempted to use engine to assist landing the propeller stopped. I was obliged to crash land at Bungay, Suffolk. Temperature and pressure gauges were giving correct reading prior to glycol leak which was first noticed when glycol and smoke began to pour from exhaust.” He was absolved of blame; S/L T.C. Parker wrote, “P/O Portz made a very good attempt to land without damaging the aircraft but was unlucky.”

A report dated 6 January 1954 gave his flying times on various types as follows: Tiger Moth (31.05 solo), Crane (82.55), Blenheim (23.55), Oxford (14.20), Master (7.30), Spitfire (651.15), Harvard (133.40), Mustang (74.55).

Assessments: Report dated 26 June 1942 by S/L T.C. Parker, No.242 Squadron, recommending Portz for a commission. “I recommend this NCO because he has shown exceptional determination and keenness. He is a good pilot and has already destroyed one enemy aircraft.”

Report dated 11 July 1943 by S/L M.C.B. Boddington, No.242 Squadron, on posting elsewhere. Graded “above average” in all categories. Reported to have flown approximately 600 hours, about 125 in previous six months. “An experienced pilot of good judgement.” To this, G/C P.H. Hugo added, “A very sound, experienced pilot who, but for his recent illness, would have been given a flight.” Ports had injured an ankle when slipping and falling off the wing of a Spitfire. Another form stated that from 22 April 1942 to 25 June 1943 he had flown 167 sorties (230 hours).

Report dated 1 April 1944 by W/C A.H. Rook, No.57 OTU, noting that Portz had flown 683 hours five minutes, 59.25 in previous six months. “This officer has at all times shown the utmost keenness and cooperation in his work as a G.G.S. Instructor. He has also greatly benefited from his course at the Junior Commander’s school. Strongly recommended for a flight commander’s post in a squadron.”

Report dated 12 December 1952 by S/L F.C. Kruger, No.402 Squadron. “Flying Officer Portz is a pleasant extrovert who gets along very well with the Auxiliary personnel. No.402 Squadron armament training has improved considerably under the guidance of this officer. Flying Officer Portz was a fighter pilot with dive bombing experience. This experience has made him a valuable member of the Support Element.”

Report of 25 October 1955 by S/L G.J. Moir, Sea Island – “This officer, since his transfer to 442 Auxiliary as adjutant, has displayed much initiative and drive in reorganizing adjutant’s duties and the Orderly Room generally. He is keen and takes a definite interest in all tasks he performs and at the same time is anxious to learn and to keep up-to-date on all phases of RCAF administration. In the short time that Flying Officer Portz has been on this unit his social conduct has been above reproach. Apparently his family affairs are well organized. Prior to reporting to 442 this officer flew Mustangs and Harvards and was current on both types.” ( -Halliday's notes)



Ottawa, Jan. 22, 1945 - (CP) - Air Force Headquarters announced tonight the award of one Distinguished Service Order and 15 Distinguished Flying Crosses to members of the RCAF serving overseas. The recipients include :

S/L O.C. Kallio, DFC, of Ironwood, Mich.

W/C L.H. Randall, Bristol, N.B.
F/L D.W. Banting, Fort San, Sask.
F/L R.E. Coffey, Greenview, Ill.
F/L H.A. Crawford of Edmonton
F/L H.A. Dean, Vero Beach, Fla,
F/L J.E. Hogg of Dartmouth, N.S.
F/L H.R. Hunter of Strathcona, P.E.I.
F/L G.F. Mercer of 77 Church St., St. Marys
F/L L.W. Metcalfe of 50 Scott St., St. Thomas
F/L J.M. Portz, Weyburn, Sask.
F/O G.P.A. Bodard, Lethbridge, Alta.
F/O C.L. Burgess of Fredericton
F/O A.R. Lehman of 307 Niagara St., Welland
P/O A.D. Fraser of Winnipeg &
F/O J.P. Jessee of Vancouver.


Portz with a 411 Squadron Spitfire
Love the hair - Max Portz with Jack Boyle's 411 Sq. Spitfire "Winifred" NH741, DB-J, which looks like it just came from 132 Sq. as "FF" has recently been covered by "DB" (PMR-78-7)


PORTZ, F/L John Maxwell (J15613) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.411 Squadron
Award effective 13 January 1945 as per London Gazette dated 23 January 1945 &
AFRO 471/45 dated 16 March 1945.

This officer has completed a very large number of operational sorties during the North African campaign and the invasion of the continent. He has taken part in numerous attacks against ground targets and in fighter bombing sorties. In addition to many enemy vehicles, Flight Lieutenant Portz has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft and damaged others. He has always displayed commendable courage and enthusiasm.

NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/9043 has recommendation dated 4 November 1944
when he had flown 244 sorties (335 operational hours)

Flight Lieutenant John Maxwell Portz has carried out a great number of operational sorties throughout the North African campaign and on the Continent during which he has shown continued keenness and outstanding enthusiasm. Since starting his second tour of operations he has led a section with competence against ground targets and in dive-bombing sorties. He has numerous ground targets to his credit, has destroyed three enemy aircraft and shared in the destruction of another, has probably destroyed an additional one and has damaged four more.


* - "On April 10th, 1942, a new No. 242 was formed at Turnhouse, Scotland, equipped with Spitfire Vs. The squadron was declared operational on June 1st. Two days later the pilots registered their first claim — a Ju 88 probably destroyed east of Drem by Flight Sergeant John Maxwell Portz, a member of the RCAF who hailed from Weyburn, Saskatchewan. It was both fitting and ironic that a Canadian should draw first blood for the new squadron, which was in no way intended to be as "Canadian" as the original unit had been." (from the book "No.242 Squadron the Canadian Years" by Hugh Halliday)

Victories Include :

As Per

'Those Other Eagles' by Shores:

  3 June 1942
  9 Nov 1942
14 Nov 1942
23 Nov 1942

29 Nov 1942
26 Dec 1942
28 Feb 1943
27 Sept 1944

28 Sept 1944

one Ju88
one Ju88
1/3 Ju88
one Ju88
one Bf109
1/5 Ju88
one Bf109
one Bf109

2.53 / 2 / 6


Log Book via Halliday:

  3 June 1942
  9 Nov. 1942
14 Nov. 1942
25 Nov. 1942

29 Nov. 1942
26 Dec. 1942
27 Feb. 1943
28 Feb. 1943
10 Mar. 1943
27 Sep. 1944

28 Sep. 1944
one Ju88
one Ju88
1/2 Ju88
one Ju88
one Me109
1/5 Ju.88
one FW190
one Me109G
one Me109
one SM79
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
probable &

5.7 / 1 / 5


  3 June 1942
east of Fifeness - Scramble (Spitfire 'H' BL922, one hour 15 minute sortie, 242 Sq.) This was the 1st score for the "new" 242 Squadron
  9 Nov 1942 off Algiers - Patrol (Spitfire 'H', two hour 10 minute sortie, 242 Sq.)
14 Nov 1942 20 miles N-NE of Djidjelli - shared with Goulding (Spitfire 'H', 90 minute sortie, 242 Sq.)
23 or 25 Nov '42 Bone - Patrol enemy lines (Spitfire 'Q', 90 minute sortie, 242 Sq.) - apparently his 'H' had been bombed on the ground on 22 December
29 Nov 1942 Bone - Patrol Bone Harbour (shared with four pilots of No.81 Squadron (Spitfire 'Q' or 'H', 80 minute sortie, 242 Sq.)
26 Dec 1942 15 miles E of Bone airfield - Sweep Medjexz-El Bab (Spitfire 'D' ER615, one hour 45 minutes, 242 Sq.)
27 Feb 1943 Patrol Souk-el-Arbra (Spitfire 'H', one hour 15 minutes)
28 Feb 1943 Tunisia - Escort, Hurri-bombers (Spitfire 'D', one hour 15 minutes, 242 Sq.) “Attacked by 109s - damaged one"
10 Mar 1943 Patrol - Beja-Mejez el Bab-Serret (Spitfire 'B', one hour 15 minutes, 242 Sq.)
27 Sept 1944
Nijmegen  - Low front-line patrol (Spitfire 'R' ML300, 90 minute sortie, 411 Sq.)
28 Sept 1944 Nijmegen area - Low front-line patrol (Spitfire 'T' ML300, one hour 45 minute sortie, 411 Sq.) NOTE conflicting letters on Spits from 27th & 28th. Shores says both were ML300, Logbook/Halliday says one was "R" & one was"T"

Details are a combination of Shores & Logbook/Halliday notes




Thanks to Bill for the additional info !

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