Finding out who was Helen


I found her in the comment  section of the blog in a comment Pat Cleary had left last year.

Bill Snider was my uncle.  He lived in Brantford where I was born and in his later years moved to Gravenhurst where he and Aunt Helen had a cottage on Muskoka Bay.  It is amazing to read about him. I knew he was in North Africa but had few details about his time there. 

Thank you.
Pat Cleary

KC and the unknown pilot

Still searching and looking…

This picture was one posted on this forum.

The code letters KC on this Hawker Hurricane caught my attention.

wpid-attachment-4.jpegCatch me if you can…

KC was 238 Squadron’s code letters.

This was probably taken in 1943 at Gamil with an unknown  pilot posing in the cockpit…

Then I had a second good look at the pilot.

The man holding the cameraCheese!

Déjà vu!


‘Bill’ Snider —
F/O William Snider J/8404 RCAF from Hamilton

Bill Snider

About Bill Snider…?

Peter Ayerst, (IWM interview)

I found what would be most interesting about  238 Squadron.

Click here.


Gil Gillis with other men from 238 Squadron

Peter Ayerst is on the right.

Gil Gillis is in the red circle.


The interview is on 30 reels. These would be of interest.


Continues: opinion of Flight Lieutenant John Lyons; attending combined operations instructors beach landing course; reaction to leaving unit on posting to North Africa. Voyage aboard Narkunda to Freetown, Sierra Leone, 7/1942-8/1942: route in convoy; conditions. Period at RAF Transit Camp, Lagos, Nigeria, 8/1942: conditions during coastal voyage; hospitality of British civilians. Flight in Dakota to Cairo, Egypt, 9/1942. Recollections of period flying hurricane with 33 Sqdn, 243 Wing, RAF, Landing Grounds 154 and 172, El Alamein area, 9/1942-11/1942: nature of airfield; tent accommodation in dugouts; food rations; water supply; washing and shaving; latrines; prior acclimatisation to climate in Cairo; sandstorms; opinion of Hurricane IIc including adaptations for desert conditions and flying with hoods open; flying kit.


Continues: tactical reconnaissance flight over El Alamein area, 5/10/1942; nature of desert flying and anti-Stuka patrols; account of mass ground strafing attack on Dhaba airfield, 9/10/1942, including effects of rain in grounding ME 109s, approach from sea, firing at tents and Fiesler Storch, attack by ME 109s and flight back over Quatterra Depression, casualties, nature of German anti-aircraft fire and subsequent search for missing Hurricanes, 10/10/1942; tactical reconnaissance flights; move to LG 172, 23/10/1942; patrols above advancing army an nature of dogfights with ME 109 and Macchi 202, 24/10/1942; review of various patrols, 24/10/1942-19/10/1942. Recollections of period as flight commander of A Flight, 238 Sqdn, RAF in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, 11/1942-12/1943: joining unit at LG 172; opinion of Squadron Leader Roy Marples; role as flight commander; role of ground crew and flight sergeant.


Continues: opinion of Captain Tom Philips; relationship with officers; review of various patrols, 1/11/1942-3/11/1942; account of being forced down behind German lines during mission, 4/11/1942, including scramble procedure to intercept Stukas, dogfight with ME 109s, damage from German AA fire, forced landing in Quattera Depression, taking cover from German fire, rescue by Australian jeep; danger from minefield around crash site, staying with Australians, being reported missing and membership of ‘Late Arrivals Club’ and reception on rejoining unit; escape kit carried; flights to bring back beer cans from Alexandria; recreational visits to Alexandria including bath, visits to nightclubs and story of fight; move to forward landing strip; patrols covering convoys arriving at Mersa Matruh harbour; move to isolated forward landing strip LG125 behind German lines, 13/11/1942; ground strafing Germans retreating along coastal road; question of relocating LG125 on return from missions.


Continues: ground strafing raids; successful attacks on airfield; discover of LG 125 by German reconnaissance aircraft and consequent evacuation; move to El Adem airfield, 17/11/1942; escorting transport aircraft delivering petrol to army, 20/11/1942; flight to bring back beer from Aboukir; story of visit to Tobruk bar; move to Martula, 26/11/1942; opinion of Squadron Leader Homer Cochrane; ingrowing toenail operation, 11/12/1942; role commanding flight ferrying Hurricanes to Tebessa, Algeria, 11/12/1942-26/12/1942, including background to replacing Spitfires grounded by wet weather, story at Takali, Malta, severe weather problems and flight back in Hudson to Constantine.


Continues: visiting bars in Constantine; rejoining unit, 27/12/1942. Period at Gamil, Port Said, Egypt, 1/1943-4/1943: flying in sandstorm; background to rest period; prior reconnaissance; shipping escort duties and training flights; recreational visits to Pot Said; relationship with Greek woman; night flying practice and airfield lights. Recollections of period as instructor at No 73 OTU, RAF, Abu Sweir, 4/1943-7/1943: reactions and promotion to squadron leader; role training Turkish pilots; flying Harvard, Kittyhawk and Tomahawk; opinion of Squadron Leader Neville Duke; question of personal status as ‘ace’. Period with No 1 Air Delivery Unit, RAF, Takoradi, Gold Coast, 8/1943-9/1943: flight out in Airspeed Ensign; air test on Spitfire; storms and overnight stops during flight in Spitfire back to Egypt.


How I came across this interview? I was searching the location of this particular picture.

Gil Gillis in the desert with Hawker Hurricane II C from 238 Squadron

On February 20, 1943, according to this Website, 238 Squadron was stationed at Gamil airbase.

May-June 1940: Tangmere
June-August 1940: Middle Wallop
August-September 1940: St. Eval
September 1940: Middle Wallop
September 1940-April 1941: Chilbolton
April 1941: Pembrey
April-May 1941: Chilbolton
May-June 1941: HMS Victorious
June 1941: Takali
June-July 1941: LG.07
July-September 1941: LH.92
September-November 1941: LG.12
November 1941: LG.123
November 1941: LG.12
November-December 1941: LG.123
December 1941: Bu Amud
December 1941: Gazala No.1
December 1941: Msus
December 1941-January 1942: Antelat
January-February 1942: El Gubbi
February-May 1942: Gambut
May-June 1942: LG.121
June 1942: Gambut West
June 1942: Gambut 2
June 1942: Sidi Azeiz
June 1942: LG.155
June 1942: LG.76
June 1942: LG.07
June 1942: LG.13
June 1942: LG.15
June 1942: LG.21
June 1942: LG.105
June-September 1942: LG.92
September-October 1942: LG.154
October-November 1942: LG.172
November 1942: LG.20
November 1942: LG.101
November 1942: El Adem
November 1942-January 1943: Martuba
January 1943-January 1944: Gamil
January-February 1944: LG.106
February-April 1944: Mersa Matruh
April-May 1944: Poretta
May-July 1944: Serragia
July-August 1944: St. Catharines
August-September 1944: Cuers/ Pierrefeu
September-October 1944: Le Vallon
October 1944: Naples (Ground echelon)

December 1944-February 1945: Merryfield
February-March 1945: Raipur
March-December 1945: Parafield (1st)