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Flight Lieutenant Duncan Marshall (Bitsy) Grant, DFC - Pilot

Flight Lieutenant Grant (Serial # J5982) was from OttawaOntario and was killed 28 September 1942 at age 22.  

He is commemorated on Page 165 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.   CLICK HERE TO VIEW PAGE







F/L Grant was carrying out a Rhubarb mission [type of combat missionover Paris,France when his Mustang (#AG577) was hit by flak.  The aircraft went into a steep descent and exploded on impact.







From the book “THE DANGEROUS SKY” by Tom Coughlin (1968)

One of the Canadian pilots who established a name for himself as a Mustang pilot of the first order was F/L D.M. Grant, of Trenton (Ontario), a member of 400 Squadron, the first RCAF squadron to go overseas on active service.  “Bitsy” Grant, as he was known to all his squadron mates, joined the RCAF on 12 September 1940 and began his pilot training.

 

In June of the following year he graduated and in August he went overseas.  Advanced training and operational training were the next order of business, and then Grant reported to 400 Squadron.   At that time the squadron was flying in the Army Cooperation role, out of Odiham, England, with the Lysander aircraft.  In 1942 the Canadian Army had not yet come to grips with the enemy, so Army Cooperation consisted of flying endless recce missions and practice manoeuvers.

 

The only recorded excitement for Grant during his Lysander days was the fact that he broke a tail-wheel one day while landing.  The squadron converted to Tomahawk aircraft, however, Grant was still far from any excitement except when he taxied into a fuel truck.  On another occasion, he landed in a heavy crosswind and badly damaged one of the squadron’s aircraft.  Then, late in 1942, the squadron converted to the Mustang and Grant’s luck took a change for the better.

 

Grant and F/O H.P. Peters were the first squadron pilots to try their hands at low-level night flying.  Low-level flying in daytime was hazardous enough but low-level flying at night near trees and wires was tempting fate.  Nevertheless, Grant and his companions flew deep into enemy-occupied territory looking for targets.  They were hard to find.  In wartime there were strict regulations about showing a light at night.  As the Mustang pilots prowled the skies over Europe it was like looking down into a black pit.

 

However, nothing could be done about railway boilers which spewed sparks and when the men shoveled coal; the open doors glowed in the darkness.  This was the signal that Grant and the other Mustang pilots were looking for and they would dive with guns firing.  One night, Grant saw eight ’glows’ and blew up four locomotives and damaged the other four.  “I swooped down on the moving locomotives, gave them a short burst and saw them steaming like geysers.  It was a simple as that.”  In fact, it was difficult and dangerous and many pilots did not return from theses types of sorties.

 

In May 1943, night operations were carried out in the Rheims area and on the night of 14 May, Grant damaged six locomotives.  Ten days later, both Grant and Peters were awarded the DFC.  The citation mentioned that in addition to destroying an enemy bomber Grant had damaged 18 locomotives and by his “fine fighting spirit and great determination had set a magnificent example to his squadron.”   In June, Grant added to his total by destroying six trains, four on the night of 16 June.

 

On 12 July, Grant destroyed two more trains in the Cobourg area and then spotted a twin-engine Dornier aircraft flying alone.  The enemy aircraft was at 1500 feet and as Grant curved in behind the target he fired a ten-second burst.  The port engine blew up and the five-man crew bailed out.  Later, just west  of Le Havre, Grant was attacked by an FW-190 but he and his wingman, F/O A.T. Carlson, managed to survive.  On their way back to base they managed to destroy another train.

 

A month later Grant tangled with another enemy aircraft while looking for ground targets.  Along with F/O A.S. Collins he flew across the English Channel and then inland to the Seine Valley area.  An enemy Junkers 88 aircraft attempted to attack the two Mustangs but Grant got behind the aircraft and set the port engine on fire.  As the aircraft began to disintegrate Grant’s guns jammed.  The last that Grant saw of the aircraft, it was in rain at treetop level and he was only able to claim a “probably” destroyed.

 

The date 28 September 1943 should have been just another eventful day in the career of F/L Grant.  He and F/O W.H. Jessiman took off on a rhubarb sortie near Ault, France.  They were flying a low-level and flew into the range of heavy and accurate flak.  They pulled up into the clouds but it was too late for Grant.  Moments later Grant’s Mustang reappeared, turning to port as it plunged in a steep dive.  It dove into a clump of trees and exploded.




 

 




















                                    










  The current 400 Squadron hangar at CFB Borden was named the Grant Building in his memory. 

Guest Book for F/L D.M. Grant, DFC

Messages Received for F/L D.M. Grant, DFC

  

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Bill Bishop,
19 Jul 2011, 09:49
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Bill Bishop,
19 Jul 2011, 09:49
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Bill Bishop,
19 Jul 2011, 09:51
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Bill Bishop,
19 Jul 2011, 09:50
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Bill Bishop,
19 Jul 2011, 09:54
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