Play / pause Operation Squabble

Operation Squabble

  • Phillip Dawson
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


The operation was called Operation Squabble.

Two men, George Fern and Ken Gatward

that flew down the Champs-Elysees

you know 20 feet off the ground at some points

going up below high-tensioned cables

and with not much armory at their disposal.

The premise of the mission was that

he would originally go down and fire

on the troops as they were parading up and down

but the parade was canceled for whatever reason.

(military marching music)

We took a bearing from the Eiffel Tower

and came in smack over the Defense Monument

and then headed straight for the Arche de Triomphe.

I said to Sergeant Fern my observer,

"Are you ready for the first flag?" and he said,

"Yes, I'm all ready but the slipstream

is nearly breaking my arm."

He was pushing this furled flag down a flag chute

into the slipstream from the propellers

and at the right moment, he let it go.

We couldn't stop to see exactly

where the first dropped but officially

it was said it fell right on the

Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

Even though the conditions were not as they expected,

you know that there was no clouds cover,

the visibility, you know they could,

they were spotted you know.

Despite all of that, they continued.

One of the things we wanted to

look at particularly was the Ministry of Marine.

Because, it was crammed with Huns

and we had something for them.

And we were right in line at a range

of about 500 yards before we

let fire with our four cannons

and saw the sparks flying off the building.

Whilst I was doing this, Fern was shouting encouragement

and pushing out the second flag which

we hoped would fall smack across the front door.

We saw a number of German military cars

stopped in the streets with Huns standing around them.

But we couldn't let fly at them because

there were too many civilians about.

The occupying forces were parading up and down

along a really important street in Paris

to symbolize their dominance, their superiority

over the subjugated French people.

Really sort of stamping their authority

that we are occupying your country.

And the idea of Operation Squabble

which was conceived by I think

undercover agents in France and also the British

was to say, "Actually, we're here."

And we're here and it's an act of solidarity

We are together as a people in adversity

it's support for an oppressed people, um.

And when the chips are down, we're there for each other.

  • Op Squabble

    © RAF Museum

  • Wing Commander Ken Gatwood

    © RAF Museum

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