Robert Edward "Bob" Spooner

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SPOONER, F/L Robert Edward (J23538) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.438 Squadron
Award effective 23 May 1945 as per London Gazette dated 1 June 1945 and
AFRO 1147/45 dated 13 July 1945.

Since September 1944, this officer has completed numerous operational sorties including many low level attacks against heavily defended enemy transport, canal locks, railway sidings and bridges. On one occasion, Flight Lieutenant Spooner's aircraft was hit by the flying debris of an exploding ammunition train. Despite this and intense anti-aircraft fire from the enemy's defences he pressed home his attack on the remaining targets. As a flight commander this officer has always displayed brilliant leadership and a fine fighting spirit. This was particularly evident during the German offensive around St. Vith when he led his squadron on a number of low level attacks against heavily defended enemy transport convoys.


Born in Victoria, 1920
Home there
Enlisted there 8 March 1941
Commissioned in RCAF, 1942
Trained at
No.2 ITS (graduated 9 July 1941),
No.5 EFTS (graduated 1 September 1941), and
No.10 SFTS (graduated 21 November 1941)
Instructed at No. 5 EFTS, High River, Alberta
DFC presented in Vancouver, 22 October 1949
Sad to say, Bob passed away July 6th, 2016


NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9088 has recommendation drafted by S/L J.E. Hogg, 5 March 1945 when he had flown 81 sorties (93 hours 45 minutes).

Since joining the squadron in September 1944, Flight Lieutenant Spooner has 81 sorties against the enemy, many of which were low level and strafing attacks on transport, railways, troops, canal locks, V-1 and V-2 sites, marshalling yards and bridges.

On his first operational sortie, this pilot had to fly through the flying debris of an exploding ammunition train. Despite the fact that his aircraft was hit, and in the face of moderate to heavy flak opposition, he pressed home his attack on remaining targets in the marshalling yard.

At a very early time, Flight Lieutenant Spooner proved himself to be a cool and resourceful leader, both in the air and on the ground. While leading his section in a dive bombing attack on the bridge at Hilfarth, Germany, he showed particular coolness in positioning the squadron for the attack, despite very intense opposition from ground defences. Later in the day, Flight Lieutenant Spooner carried out the same operation in the face of a flak barrage which was no less intense.

In November 1944, this officer participated in two long range bombing attacks on the Sneek and Gaarkueken locks in northern Holland, both of which sorties were successful.

Having been appointed a Flight Commander, Flight Lieutenant Spooner continued to display the best qualities of a leader. His flying, bombing and shooting have been consistently good and particularly during the German offensive around St. Vith. He led the squadron a number of times and repeatedly strafed hotly defended enemy transport convoys. In other missions, which have entailed close support of our Armies, Flight Lieutenant Spooner has been very successful in pin-pointing and destroying difficult targets.

As a leader in the air and on the ground, this officer is considered to be of the highest calibre.

The recommendation was endorsed by W/C F.G. Grant (9 March 1945), by G/C A.D. Nesbitt (9 March 1945), and the Air Officer Commanding, No.83 Group (20 March 1945). Air Marshal A. Coningham approved the award on 13 April 1945.


Typhoon Fury by Robert Bailey
Typhoon Fury by Robert Bailey

According to artist's notes accompanying Robert Bailey's painting Typhoon Fury - "In September 1944 he commenced operations against the enemy with 438 Squadron at Melsbroek, flying Typhoons. By November he was a Flight Commander, and flew support for the Nijmegan attack and in the Ardennes. Other adventures included train-strafing and a mid-air collision in cloud, with both aircraft returning safely to base. F/Lt. Spooner completed 97 sorties."


Bob at the train station

438 Wilcat Squadron Logo - "Disney Version"
438 Wildcat Squadron Logo - the "Disney Version"

For further information on RCAF Typhoon operations see H. A. Halliday's "Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story" (Canav Books)

Bob at the train station

Bob Spooner
A formal portrait from Bob's collection




Thanks to son Rod & Anne Gafiuk (whatsinastory.ca) for the pix and info !

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