Swiftly and surely on D-Day: 430 Squadron and the Normandy invasion

Seventy-five years ago on June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in Normandy, an event that is also known as “D-Day.” The massive military operation allowed the Allies to establish a foothold in Western Europe, which would lead to the fall of Nazi Germany less than a year later.

Several members of 430 Squadron were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their efforts on D-Day and across the Second World War. RCAF Photo
Several members of 430 Squadron were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their efforts on D-Day and throughout the Second World War. RCAF Photo

430 Squadron was authorized on Jan. 1, 1943 as 430 (Army-Cooperation) Squadron. On June 28, 1943, it was redesignated as 430 (Fighter Reconnaissance) Squadron. It was based in Odiham, England, and flew Mustang Mk 1 aircraft.

At 5 a.m. on the morning of D-Day, 430 Squadron flew the first of its 30 air reconnaissance sorties of the day. During an afternoon outing, three of the squadron’s aircraft were intercepted by six German Focke-Wulf Fw-190 fighters. Flying Officer J.S. Cox lost his life when his aircraft was shot down by enemy fighters; he was 23 years old. His two squadron mates managed to escape the pursuers.

The information obtained throughout the course of the day using aerial photography was of paramount importance for subsequent Allied operations. The most remarkable observation was the discovery, and capture on camera, of 60 German tanks and armoured vehicles near the city of Caen by Flight Lt J.B. Prendergast and Flying Officer C.E. Butchart. 430 Squadron thus contributed to accurately informing the Allies of the upcoming advance on Caen.


Flight Lt Prendergast was later awarded the prestigious Distinguished Flying Cross. In all, nine pilots from 430 Squadron were awarded this military decoration during the Second World War.

As a way of officially recognizing 430 Squadron’s participation in D-Day operations and the subsequent campaign, the “Normandy 1944” battle honour is emblazoned on the squadron’s standard (also known as its “Colour”).

430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron is now located at Valcartier, Que., and is part of 1 Wing, which is headquartered in Kingston, Ont. The squadron flies CH-146 Griffon helicopters, and its motto is Celeriter Certoque – Swiftly and Surely.

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