Sproule, John Alexander

    Date of birth:
    November 23rd, 1917 (Brandon, Manitoba)
    Service number:
    39693/C.89500, RAF/RCAF
    Nationality:
    Canadian (1931-present, Constitutional Monarchy)

    Biography

    Sproule, joined the R.A.F. in March, 1937. Before that he had received his first flying lessons at the Brandon Flying Club. He was placed with the No. 58 Squadron at Boscome Down in November 1937. The squadron then flew with Armstrong Whitley bombers. Sproule took part in the first raid on Germany at night on September 3rd 1939.
    After some time being placed as a Specialist Navigation Instructor at St Athans (Wales) and Port Albert (Ontario), he started Trans Atlantic and Middle East flights with No. 24 Squadron, that flew Douglas Dakota’s.
    During D-Day he acted as Second in Command of the Airborne Invasion with No. 48 Squadron that also flew Dakota’s, pulling gliders.
    During Market Garden he was shot down on September 17th 1944 while resupplying Polish Airborne troops. During this he was wounded. In 1944 he was transferred from the RAF to the RCAF (Service number 89500). As Commander of No. 437 RCAF Squadron he also took part in the Rhine Crossing on March 24th 1945. He stayed with the RCAF until his retirement in 1969.

    Promotions:
    May 9th, 1937: Acting Pilot Officer;
    Match 8th, 1938: Pilot Officer;
    September 8th, 1939: Flying Officer;
    September 8th, 1940: Flight Lieutenant;
    December 1st, 1941: temporary Squadron Leader;

    Career:
    October 4th, 1944: Transfer RAF to RCAF.

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Acting Wing Commander
    Unit:
    No. 48 Squadron, Royal Air Force
    Awarded on:
    October 20th, 1944
    Action:
    Citation:
    “One morning in August 1944, Wing Commander Sproule led his squadron on a vital supply mission to France. While over the target his aircraft was hit by light anti- aircraft fire in many places. Although the aircraft had sustained much damage and the rudder was useless, a course was set for a landing ground which was safely reached. Almost as the aircraft touched down it collided against a tree.
    Even so, a successful crash landing was effected. This officer displayed exceptional skill and great determination in the face of most adverse circumstances.”

    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Wing Commander
    Unit:
    No. 437 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force
    Awarded on:
    July 31st, 1945
    Bronzen Leeuw (BL)
    Action:
    Public Records Office Air 2/9642 has recommendation.
    “On the 1st September 1944 this officer was appointed to command a newly formed transport squadron. Despite the short time available the squadron attained a very high standard of efficiency and participated fully in every phase of the airborne operations in the Arnhem theatre. Wing Commander Sproule led the squadron on the first sortie of the operations and throughout he has displayed good leadership and determination which contributed materially to the success of many sorties.”
    Details:
    Royal Decree No.29, dated July 31st, 1945.
    Permission to wear the decoration was granted on January 1st, 1946.
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Details:
    With "France and Germany" clasp.
    Air Crew Europe Star
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Details:
    With "Overseas Service" bar
    Canadian Volunteer Service Medal

    Sources

    • Photo 1: Robert Sproule
    • Photo: Robert Sproule
    • - MEIJER, H.G., Bronzen Leeuw, Bronzen Kruis, De Bataafsche Leeuw, Amsterdam, 1990.
      - The London Gazette of 25th May 1937, Issue 34401
      - The London Gazette of 15th March 1938, Issue 34493
      - The London Gazette of 14th November 1939, Issue 34733
      - The London Gazette of 22nd October 1940, Issue 34976
      - The London Gazette of 16th December 1941, Issue 35383
      - Fifth Supplement to The Lonfon Gazette of 17th October 1944, Issue 36756, dated 20th October 1944
      - Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 10th November 1944, Issue 36792, dated 14th November 1944
      - Ninth Supplement to The London Gazette of 28th December 1945, Issue 37415, dated 1st January 1946
      - Allison, L., Canadians in the Royal Air Force, Roland, MB, Les Allison, 1978
      - Coughlin, T, The Dangerous Sky, Toronto, The Ryerson Press, 1969
      - Royal Canadian Air Force
      Nederlandse Onderscheidingen

    Photo