MK244, W/Cdr Jan Čermák, No. 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron, No. 134 Wing, RAF Appledram, United Kingdom, June 1944
The former No. 312 Squadron commander, W/Cdr Jan Čermák was at the time of the Normandy landing the ground and administrative commander of the No. 134 Wing, but regardless he personally led the unit on several missions. One of those was a routine patrol of the Czechoslovak fighters over Sword beach which turned into the large scale air battle. Czechoslovak pilots broke up the formation of a dozen of Focke Wulf Fw 190A whose goal was to bomb the beach crowded with troops and equipment. Three “onenineties” were destroyed and five damaged at no losses to Czechoslovaks. In this combat W/Cdr Čermák claimed one Fw 190 destroyed and one damaged. On this mission he flew Spitfire s/n MK244 which was the personal aircraft of F/O Jaroslav Šodek who flew it in combat on the regular basis from February to June 1944.
MK144, S/Ldr Alan G. Page, No. 132 Squadron, RAF Ford, United Kingdom, February–May 1944
During the Battle of Britain Alan Geoffrey Page was shot down and suffered serious burns. Following two plus years he spent in the hospital recovering. He undertook the plastic surgery in Queen Victoria’s Hospital in East Gringstead and became the founding member of the Guinea Pig Club. Ultimately, he managed to return to the active duty and became one of the most successful English fighter pilots. During the spring months of 1944, as the commander of No. 132 Squadron he flew the depicted Spitfire on the offensive bombing and fighter sweeps preceding the invasion.
On April 29, on one such mission, over the Deelen airfield in the Netherlands he managed to shoot down a Bf 110G-4 flown by the elite night fighter ace Maj. Hans-Joachim Jabs. On July 7 Page was promoted to command the elite No. 125 Wing. In the end of September, shortly after the conversion to the new powerful Spitfires Mk.XVI, Page’s Spitfire was damaged by flak over Arnhem suburbs, and he crash landed. He wounded his face on the gunsight and suffered some other injuries. He was transported by air back to England and again admitted to the Queen Victoria’s Hospital in East Grinstead. After the war he became an active member of the Battle of Britain Association of the Fighter Pilots and was a moving force behind the creation of the Battle of Britain Memorial which was erected on the cliffs between Dover and Folkestone in 1993. During his wartime career Alan Geoffrey Page shot down 15 enemy aircraft and damaged three of them. His autobiography The Guinea Pig Story was published in 1981.
MK832, S/Ldr Robert K. Hayward, No. 411 squadron, B.4 Beny-sur-Mer Airfield RAF, France, July–August 1944
Robert Kitchener “Bob” Hayward comes from the pool of the former RCAF flight instructors who served with No. 126 Wing. He was born on November 12, 1915, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. After he completed his pilot training, he served at the main training base CFB Trenton. From February 1941 to October 1942, he flew as an instructor at No. 25 FTS. In March 1943 Hayward stated to fly combat missions with No. 401 Squadron where in the coming months he scored three aerial kills. In May 1944, after the rest, he was again attached to the No. 411 Squadron as a flight leader. On August 5, 1944, he was promoted to the squadron commander and until the end of September 1944 he claimed another three confirmed kills and four enemy aircraft damaged. After he finished his tour of duty he returned to Canada and until March 1945 he again flew as an instructor with No. 25 FTS. From May to September 1945, he briefly served at No. 16 FTS in Hagersville and in November 1945 he retired to the civilian life.
Lt. Robert J. Connors, 309th FS, 31st FG, 12th AF, Castel Volturno, Italy, February–March 1944
Lt. Robert Connors’ Spitfire carried on the portside of the fuselage the artwork depicting the Porky Pig character which referred to his nickname “Porky”. After its arrival in Britain in June 1943 the 309th FS was re-equipped with Spitfires Mk.V and flew them in Europe, North Africa, Sicily and Italy. In April 1943 the unit received its first Spitfires Mk.IX often flown as the upper cover for the older Spitfires Mk.V. In March 1944 the 309th FS traded their Spitfires for Mustangs possessing much longer range and therefore able to escort the USAAF bombers as far as the Southern Germany.