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The Flying Circus

Heroes Remember

As we approached D-Day, we were informed that we would know when D-Day was coming, we didn't know where it was going to happen. We would know when it was coming because we would be ordered to paint black and white stripes on our air planes in order to identify us visually to people on the ground or people in the air as Allied. And so the day before D-Day we were ordered to paint our airplanes. So we knew that D-Day was about to happen. That night, the night of the 5th, June the 5th our Group Captain Ernie Moncrief (sp) briefed us all saying, "This is what's happening, tomorrow morning landing craft will be hitting the beaches at Normandy and our role is to be there to support them with reconnaissance, all the things that we have been trained to do." So we knew exactly at that point where the invasion was going to be. And we had painted the air planes with their black and white stripes around the fuselage at the tail and around the wing routes, very effective. But before D-Day, I think it was in April the beginning of May, I had been sent to a place called Thorny Island, on the south coast of England, an airfield there to join a flying circus. And the flying circus was comprised of one fighter aircraft of each of the types we were going to use on D-Day; American, and British and Canadian. And the flying circus, its role was to overfly gatherings of troops gathered on the ground so that they would be able to see us, say, "Ah, that is a Spitfire, I will not fire on it on D-Day or thereafter," or, "That's a Mustang," or, "It's a P38, it's a Lighting," or, "It's a Thunderbolt." We had a big gang. So we toured Southern England, over flying these gatherings of troops for about a week.

Mr. Rohmer discusses how their operations changed as D-Day approached. He also describes his involvement with a flying circus that was being used to educate the ground troops.

Richard Heath Rohmer

Major General Rohmer was born in Hamilton, Ontario on January 24, 1924. He enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force on his eighteenth birthday. He had received some training in Canada before being shipped overseas to Bournemouth for further training on both Spitfires and Mustangs. He chose to fly a Mustang and was finally able to get into operations in the Fall of 1944.

General Rohmer provided reconnaissance for D-Day, the Falaise Gap and the Liberation of the Netherlands.

After the war, General Rohmer instructed Spitfire pilots on how to attack in the air at Gunnery Instructor School and later went back to college in Ontario, Canada. After graduating from college he went on to practice law. General Rohmer has received several awards throughout his illustrious career including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Canada Defence Medal and is an Officer of the Order of Canada just to name a few. General Rohmer is also a best selling author.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Richard Heath Rohmer
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Battle of Normandy
Air Force
403 Squadron

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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