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George Beurling

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George Beurling

George Frederick Beurling
"Buzz" Beurling 2 March 1943
Nickname(s) "Buzz"
Born (1921-12-06)6 December 1921
Verdun, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
Died 20 May 1948(1948-05-20) (aged 26)
Rome, Italy
Allegiance British Empire
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Israeli Defence Force
Years of service 1940–1944
Rank Flight Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross
Distinguished Flying Medal & Bar

George Frederick "Buzz" Beurling DSO, DFC, DFM & Bar, RAF & RCAF (6 December 1921 – 20 May 1948), was the most successful Canadian fighter pilot of the Second World War.

Beurling was recognised as "Canada's most famous hero of Second World War", as "The Falcon of Malta" and the "Knight of Malta", having been credited with shooting down 27 Axis aircraft in just 14 days over the besieged Mediterranean island. Before the war ended his official total climbed to either 31 [1] or 3113.[2] Beurling's wartime service was terminated prior to war's end. In an attempt to continue combat flying in the postwar era, Beurling lost his life in a crash while attempting to deliver an aircraft to Israel.[3]


  • Early life 1
  • Second World War 2
    • RAF service 2.1
      • Malta 2.1.1
      • War bond drive 2.1.2
      • Instructor 2.1.3
    • Royal Canadian Air Force 2.2
      • Discharge 2.2.1
  • Death 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Summary of victory claims 5
  • References 6
    • Notes 6.1
    • Citations 6.2
    • Bibliography 6.3
  • External links 7

Early life

Born in Verdun (now part of Montreal), Quebec, Beurling first took the controls of an aircraft in 1933 and was flying solo by 1938. He left school to work for an air freight company in Gravenhurst, Ontario, and soon gained a commercial license. George Beurling joined the Royal Air Force in September 1940.

Second World War

With the outbreak of war, Beurling tried to join the birth certificate and had to return to Canada. In September 1940,[4] after he had survived the return trip, the RAF accepted him as a pilot.[5]

RAF service

Having survived one or two aerial misdemeanours, Beurling reached the Operational Training Unit at RAF Hawarden in September 1941.[4] Beurling demonstrated considerable skill in training.[6] In Hawarden, he came under the influence of the great Ginger Lacey, whose score at the time stood at 27. Lacey later commented about Beurling: "There are not two ways about it, he was a wonderful pilot and an even better shot." [4]

These two factors, coupled with exceptional eyesight, were the keys to Beurling's later success. But they did not come without effort. At Hawarden, he immersed himself in gunnery, estimation of range, deflection, bullet trail and bullet drop, imprinting them into his subconscious until they were automatic. For him, flying and shooting became one single action.[4] In the middle of December, he was posted as a Sergeant Pilot to RCAF 403 Squadron, which had just moved to North Weald, Essex. Beurling flew his first (uneventful) combat mission, flying the Supermarine Spitfire, on Christmas Day 1941. He remained with 403 for nearly four months, escorting bombers and flying fighter sweeps across the English Channel. A couple of times, his formation was jumped by German fighters, but he never managed to get off an effective shot while with 403.

By late spring, a decision was made to include only RCAF personnel in RCAF squadrons.[7] Beurling, who was Canadian but an RAF pilot, joined 41 Squadron in Sussex.

His first two missions with his new squadron were uneventful, but on the third, a sweep over Calais on 1 May, five Focke-Wulf Fw 190s jumped the section. Beurling, who was the "tail end Charlie", the last of the formation, became separated from his flight and his Spitfire suffered a number of serious hits that put half of his guns out of action. Nevertheless, he managed to fire a short burst at an FW 190; the German fighter exploded in mid air. Two days later, as usual for a newcomer, he was assigned again to the number four position. He spotted a lone FW 190, and broke from the flight to pursue it. He claimed the German fighter as destroyed over Cap Gris Nez.[8] On this occasion, Beurling was reprimanded for attacking a target without permission,[9] and became unpopular with his superiors and fellow pilots.

He then volunteered for a posting overseas. When his ship reached Gibraltar, Beurling learned where he was destined: the island of Malta and No. 249 Squadron RAF.[10]


Quotes on Beurling in Malta
He fired only when he thought he could destroy. Two hundred and fifty yards was the distance from which he liked best to fire. A couple of short, hard burst from there and that was usually it. He picked his targets off cleanly and decisively, swinging his sight smoothly through them as a first-class shot strokes driven partridges out of the sky. It was a fluent and calculated exercise... For Beurling the confirmed kill was the thing.[11]
Nine of his kills on Malta were Italian pilots.[1] About them he used to say: "The Jerrie are probably better over-all pilots than the Italians, but they certainly let the Eyeties do their fighting for them when the going got tough. When we get around to adding the final score for this show I hope somebody thinks of that".[12]
On 6 July, he was flying one of eight Spitfires that were scrambled to intercept three Italian Cant bombers and 30 Macchi 202s, Italy's top-line fighter. The eight Spitfires dived straight into the Italians. In seconds, with one burst Beurling had damaged a bomber. Then, suddenly he was on the tail of a Macchi whose pilot (probably Sergente Maggiore Francesco Pecchiari from 51° Stormo), spotting the Spitfire, plunged into a dive. The Canadian chased his prey for 15,000 ft and, when the Italian pulled up at 5,000, Beurling let go a two-second burst from 300 yards away. It was a perfect hit. Although he wasn't aware that he had been fired on, when Beurling inspected his Spitfire back at Takali, he found it riddled with bullets. Undaunted, that evening, just before dusk, he was in the air again in a patrol of four Spitfires. Radar had shown two German JU 88s and 20 Messerschmitts, the deadly 109Fs, heading towards Malta. After the four Spitfires dived and split up the formation, Beurling followed a fighter trying to escape at low level over the sea. After he laid down a two-second burst the German crashed into the Mediterranean.[13]
On his last combat mission over Malta, while engaging a third aircraft, another, taking him unawares, drilled his aircraft with cannon shells from behind. Screwball, injured quite severely by shrapnel, bailed out low down. He landed in the sea and got into his dinghy. Malta's air-sea rescue service quickly came to his aid. L.G. Head, a member of the crew of HSL 128 remembered that when they picked him out of the water he was most concerned that he was unable to locate a small bible that he had been given by his mother.[14]

Fighter pilots played a critical role in the defence of Malta during its siege. Beurling landed on the island on 9 June, after having flown off the deck of HMS Eagle aboard his Spitfire, during Operation Salient.[15] His nickname on Malta was "Screwball", an expletive he had a habit of using.

Beurling had his baptism of fire in the mid-morning of 12 June when, flying a Spitfire, with three other pilots from 249, the formation intercepted eight Bf 109s. Beurling claimed to have blown the tail off a Bf 109, but nobody saw it hit the ground, so he was credited with a "damaged".[16] After that, Beurling claimed a series of kills that had no equal on the Mediterranean island. On 6 July 1942, with other pilots from 249, he attacked a formation of three Cant Z1007bis, 14 Reggiane Re.2001s and more than two dozen Macchi MC.202s. He almost certainly shot down Sergente Francesco Pecchiari from 352 Squadriglia. Then he claimed another Macchi that crashed near Zejtun, likely the Reggiane of Sottotenente Romano Pagliani, 152 Squadriglia. He made a third claim that day, a Messerschmitt, hit from a distance of 800 yards and was credited with three victories in his first proper air battle at Malta.[17]

On 10 July, Beurling's Malta tally rose to five in just four days, making him an ace. That day, it seems likely that he shot down the MC.202 of Sergente Maggiore Francesco Visentini, from 378 Squadriglia.[18]

On 12 July, Beurling, flying a Spitfire, and searching for Pilot Officer Berkeley-Hill, who was missing, spotted Tenente Colonnello Aldo Quarantotti and Tenente Carlo Seganti, flying Reggiane Re.2001s. Beurling, with Flying Officer Erik Hetherington, dove on the tail of the second of the two Reggianes and downed Seganti. Then Beurling attacked the other Reggiane. He closed up to 100 ft and just when Quarantotti spotted him, Beurling delivered a short burst that decapitated the Italian commander. This aircraft also fell into the sea.[19][20][21] Two days later, he was badly shot up by Reggianes. Beurling's aircraft was "riddled by better than 20 bullets through the fuselage and wings". "An explosive bullet nicked my right heel", he recalled.[22]

On 22 July, Beurling lost his best friend in Malta, French-Canadian Pilot Jean Paradis. The following day, eight 249 Spitfires were scrambled. Beurling claimed to have badly damaged a bomber and, after a long dogfight with a Reggiane, to have blown "his left wing off". The 151 Squadriglia, in fact, lost Serg Magg Bruno Di Pauli. The Macchi 202 pilot reported to have parachuted down after an AA shell had damaged his aircraft and realizing that he was followed by six Spitfires that, at the moment, had still not fired.[23]
Furio Niclot Doglio; he was Beurling's 14th "kill".

27 July was Beurling's "biggest day on Malta".[24] That day, he shot down Sergente Faliero Gelli,[25] and immediately after, Captain Furio Niclot Doglio, both flying Macchi MC. 202s, Regia Aeronautica‍ '​s best fighter. Niclot Doglio, who was diving to counter attack the head-on Spitfires of 126 Squadron and had misunderstood the warning waggling of wings of his wingman, Maresciallo Ennio Tarantola (who had seen the oncoming 249 Squadron fighters from left, high above), was his 14th "kill". [N 1]

On the same day, Beurling claimed also two Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, one of which was piloted by the ace Leutnant Karl-Heinz Preu of JG 53 although other sources attribute this to flak.[27] On 24 July 1942, Beurling was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, the citation read:[28]

Sergeant Beurling has displayed great skill and courage in the face of the enemy. One day in July 1942, he engaged a number of enemy fighters which were escorting a formation of Junkers 88s and destroyed one fighter. Later during the same day he engaged 10 enemy fighters and shot two of them down into the sea, bringing his total victories to eight.

On 30 July, he was commissioned as a pilot officer,[29] and on 4 September won a bar to his DFM, largely for his exploits on 27 July. The citation read:[30]

Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in July 1942, Sergeant Beurling has destroyed a further 9 enemy aircraft, bringing his victories to 17. One of his exploits was the destruction of 4 enemy fighters in one day; during these brief combats he also damaged a further 2 hostile aircraft. His courage and determination are a source of inspiration to all.

The enervation of daily combat combined with the effects of the poor rations and dysentery were telling. Beurling was bedridden for much of August and September, gaining only 1½ victories in August. On 8 August, while he was shooting at a Bf 109, he was jumped by two more. He claimed that he hit one and that it went straight into the sea. This was apparently confirmed by his section leader. But his aircraft was then hit in the engine and he belly-landed in a stone-walled field. "I climbed out, he recalled, unhurt except for a superficial cut in one arm."[31] Beurling was shot down either by Herbert Rollwage or Siegfried Freytag and Fw Pohl of I./ JG 77,[32] who all claimed a Spitfire shot down.

Beurling hitched back to Ta' Qali Field.[33] On 25 September, he had another successful day, claiming to have downed three German fighters, but on this occasion his victories seem to be "overclaimed". That day, flying with 11 other Spitfires, he met a dozen Bf 109s 30 miles northeast of Zonqor Point. He claimed to have "disintegrated" a first Messerschmitt, to have damaged a second and put in flames a third, that "enveloped in flames, dived vertically striking the sea", the pilot bailing out. Two of these victims were two German fighters that came back to base, even if badly damaged and the third could be the one piloted by Kurt Gorbing, who made a forced-landing and died shortly after.[34]

On 10 October, Beurling was testing his newly serviced Spitfire when he was vectored to intercept two Bf 109s, flying line abreast at 1,000 ft over Filfla. He reported to have hit the "starboard fellow" in the engine: "He pancaked right smack down on his belly and flipped over onto his back." The second BF 109 tried to fly away but he hit the gas tank: "The ship blow up, complete with pilot." Those "kills" brought Beurling's Malta tally to 21, plus another shared with two others. But there is no record of a Messerschmitt crashing on the island on 10 October 1942, nor any German losses.[35] On the morning of 13 October, three miles north of St Paul’s Bay, Beurling, attacked a formation of Ju 88s, escorted by 30 Bf 109s. He claimed to have at first hit a bomber, then an oncoming Bf 109 that burst into flames. Seconds later, he shot at a second Messerschmitt, without observing strikes, “but pilot bailed out”.[36] On 16 October he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the citation read:[37]

Pilot Officer George Frederick BEURLING, D.F.M. (128707) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 249 Squadron. Since being awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Medal, this officer has shot down a further 3 hostile aircraft, bringing his total victories to 20. One day in September 1942, he and another pilot engaged 4 enemy fighters. In the ensuing combat, Pilot Officer Beurling destroyed 2 of them. As a relentless fighter, whose determination and will to win has won the admiration of his colleagues, this officer has set an example in keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force.
Beurling's Spitfire VC in which he scored most of his victories in Malta

A committed Christian, teetotaler, and non-smoker; while his counterparts patronized the local bars every night, Beurling dedicated himself totally to the art of aerial combat. Tending to be a loner on the ground and in the air, Beurling angered his commanders with his disdain for teamwork. His relentless concentration on aerial fighting led Beurling to develop a marked skill at deflection shooting and together with his "situational awareness", he was soon recognised as a deadly fighter pilot. Like many successful Spitfire pilots, Beurling developed the habit of only engaging enemy aircraft at 250 yards or less — a range at which many other pilots would be breaking away. Beurling owed his spectacular success to remarkably good eyesight and the ability to "toss his Spitfire" into violent combat manoeuvres. If jumped from behind, he would pull back on the stick of his Mk VC Spitfire so hard that the aircraft would enter a violent stall, flick over and spin. This was a hard, sudden and very dangerous act for the enemy fighter on his tail to follow. Beurling would also ram both ailerons and rudder into a sudden and violent turn, causing his Spitfire to flip over and drop like a stone. Only a very experienced (or crazy) pilot would pull such stunts more than once or twice. Beurling made them a matter of habit. He knew that the Spitfire could be nursed out of such self-induced trouble and get him home safely.[38]

Beurling in hospital after his transport aircraft crashed.

But Beurling was not invincible; he was shot down four times over Malta. On 14 October 1942 (his last flight over Malta), Beurling scrambled with six other pilots from his squadron to intercept a raid of Ju 88s escorted by 60 Bf 109s, Macchi 202s and Reggiane 2001s just south of Zonqor Point. He strafed a bomber that he claimed to have shot down, but was, in turn, hit by return fire from the Ju 88: “I picked up about 30 bullet holes.” Then he claimed to have damaged a Messerschmitt and to have blown the left wing of another Bf 109 off at the root. Seconds later, another German fighter hit him from below. He was wounded in the heel, elbow and ribs, and his Spitfire was set on fire. He managed to bail out into the sea. During this action, no Messerschmitt was in fact destroyed. Only 2 Staffel (Black 1/7619) of I/JG53, flown by Obfw Josef Edere who was wounded, was damaged in the action, and Edere crash-landed at San Pietro, Sicily. Beurling was probably shot down by Obfw Riker of 4/JG53 or Ltn Karl von Lieres of 2/JG27 (who was credited with his 26th). Of the seven Ju 88s claimed to have been shot down by the RAF, only one did not return.[39] After his rescue, Beurling was hospitalised.

Beurling was then sent back to Britain on 31 October 1942.[40] On the way, the B-24 transport aircraft he was aboard crashed into the sea off Gibraltar. Beurling was one of only three survivors.

On 4 November he received the Distinguished Service Order, the citation read:[41]

Pilot Officer George Frederick BEURLING, D.F.C., D.F.M. (128707), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 249 Squadron. Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Pilot Officer Beurling has destroyed a further six enemy aircraft, bringing his total victories to 28. During one sortie on 13 October 1942, he shot down a Junkers 88 and two Messerschmitt 109s. The following day, in a head-on attack on enemy bombers, he destroyed one of them before he observed his leader being attacked by an enemy fighter. Although wounded, Pilot Officer Beurling destroyed the fighter. Then climbing again, although his aircraft was hit by enemy fire, he shot down another fighter before his own aircraft was so damaged that he was forced to abandon it. He descended safely on to the sea and was rescued. This officer's skill and daring are unexcelled.

Over Malta, he had claimed over 27 kills, by far the highest total by an RAF pilot during the campaign.

War bond drive

Beurling signing autographs at a war production plant, January 1943

After landing back in Britain, Beurling was then sent to Canada to join a Victory Loan Drive, selling war bonds, being the guest of honour at a parade in Verdun and meeting Prime Minister Mackenzie King. He was promoted to war substantive Flying Officer (on probation) on 30 January 1943.[42] He did not enjoy the war bond campaign. Also, he often said things that embarrassed the RCAF, such as that he enjoyed killing people.[43] The leg wound Beurling had received over Malta, combined with his poor general health, returned him to hospital for several weeks. He completed his promotional work in mid-1943 and also met his future wife, Diana Whittall in Vancouver.


Returning to Britain, Beurling was posted as a gunnery instructor to 61 OTU. On 27 May 1943, he was posted to the Central Gunnery School at RAF Sutton Bridge. On 8 June, during a mock dogfight, Beurling was forced to bail out of Spitfire II P7913 when the engine caught fire after being accidentally hit. It is alleged that whilst stationed at RAF Sutton Bridge he actually flew under the Crosskeys Bridge that crosses the Nene, which still stands today having been built 1897.[44]

Royal Canadian Air Force

On 1 September 1943, Beurling transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force,[45] and was posted to an operational squadron, 403 (a return to his first squadron) at Kenley, flying the new Spitfire IX. Shooting down an Fw 190 of JG 2 in September, but unhappy with flying sweeps, Beurling requested command of a flight of North American P-51 Mustangs in order to carry out deep penetration, free-roaming raids into Germany. His request was turned down.

Disciplinary problems annoyed his commander, but Beurling was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. However, his stunting of a de Havilland Tiger Moth at zero feet over his airfield eventually led to his Wing Commander, Hugh Godefroy DFC, threatening him with a court martial. Subsequently, Beurling was transferred to 126 Wing HQ and then to 412 Squadron.

At 412 Squadron, Beurling again came into conflict with his commander for stunting and his lack of teamwork, leading to his eventual grounding. He claimed his last kill on 30 December, shooting down and wounding Uzz. Wyrich of 5 Staffel, JG 26 flying an FW 190,[46] when the squadron was covering returning American bombers near Compiègne, France.[47]


Beurling returned to Canada in April 1944. He was given an honourable discharge in October and, despite an attempt to join the United States Army Air Forces, his wartime flying was over. He ended his career as a Squadron Leader with 31 and one shared official kills, nine claimed damaged, along with a DSO, DFC and a DFM and bar.


Beurling's marriage ended in March 1945, but he was not formally divorced.[48] He survived the war only to find himself unable to adjust to civilian life.

In 1948, Beurling was recruited to fly P-51 Mustangs for the Israeli Air Force. En route, after a test flight, Beurling fatally crashed his Noorduyn Norseman transport aircraft while landing at Aeroporto dell'Urbe in Rome.

A USAAF 3rd Air Commando Group UC-64A (Norseman) in the Philippines, 1945

It was his 10th crash. Suspicion at the time of the accident centred on possible sabotage, a theory which never was proven. "The initial report, while it identified the crew as Beurling and Leonard Cohen (another Malta RAF pilot), acknowledged that the bodies were burned beyond recognition."[49] The funeral in Rome lacked only one element: Beurling's widow, family and personal friends were not in attendance. On a small brass plate over the lid of the coffin these words were written "Colonel Georgio Beurling".[N 2]

Beurling's coffin was kept for three months in a warehouse in the Verano Monumental Cemetery, as nobody had claimed the body. Then his widow, Diana Whittall Gardner, had him buried in the Protestant Cemetery behind the Cestia Pyramid, between the graves of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. In November 1950, two and half years after his death, Beurling's casket arrived at Haifa Airport. His coffin, draped with the blue and white Israeli flag, was laid in a nearby air force base, where an honour guard of young airmen mounted a silent watch. During the long funeral in the streets of Haifa, Israeli Air Force aircraft paid homage to Beurling. At last, he was re-interred in the military cemetery at the foot of Mount Carmel. The grave is marked, as are the others in Israel Defense Forces cemeteries, with only name, serial number and rank: for Beurling that of segen, lieutenant.[50]

According to Group Captain "Laddie" Lucas, Beurling was "untidy, with a shock of fair tousled hair above penetrating blue eyes. He smiled a lot and the smile came straight out of those striking eyes... he was highly strung, brash and outspoken... something of a rebel".[51]


Malta Spitfire, an account of his time in Malta, co-written by Leslie Roberts and Beurling, was first published in 1943.

"In Verdun the only reminder of the famous son is the boulevard which carries Beurling's name."[52] Beurling Academy, a high school in the Lester B. Pearson School Board in Verdun, is also named after him.

Summary of victory claims

Beurling was provisionally credited with 31 air victories destroyed (and one third shared destroyed), and 9 damaged.[53][54]
Victory No. Date Flying Kills Notes
1 1 May 1942 Spitfire Vb W3383 (41 Sqn) 1 x FW 190 Rodeo 9 to Hardelot; 13.05-14.45 hours. Surviving Luftwaffe records indicate no obvious matching losses.[55]
2 3 May 1942 Spitfire Vb W3636 (41 Sqn) 1 x FW 190 Shot down 2-3 miles off Cap Gris Nez. Originally recorded as a “probable” and updated later to a confirmed. Surviving Luftwaffe records indicate no obvious matching losses.[56]
12 June 1942 Spitfire Vc BR176 (249 Sqn) 1 x Bf 109 damaged 249 Squadron scrambled a dozen Spitfires against eight Bf 109s. Beurling claimed to have shot the tail off a BF 109 but was only awarded a “damaged”. 249 claimed two 109s damaged in total.[57]
3-4-5. 6 July 1942 Spitfire Vc BR323 2 x Macchi C. 202s and 1x Bf 109 destroyed. 1 x Cant Z. 1007 damaged. Combat between 8-15 to 8-45am versus three Cant Z1007s bombers from 9 Stormo, escorted by 14 Re 2001s of 2 Gruppo CT and 12 Macchi C. 202s of 20 Gruppo CT. 249 Squadron claimed three fighters in total. Beurling’s kills were a C. 202 from 352 Squadriglia, 20 Gruppo CT; (Serg. Magg Francesco Pecchiari was rescued from the sea) and a Re 2001 of 152 Squadriglia 2 Gruppo CT; (Sotto Ten Romano Pagliari was killed). The Bf 109 claimed was a I/JG 77 Bf 109F-4 Werk No.13386 "White 4" flown by Fw. Toni Engels (3 claims, Killed), during a late evening interception of three Ju-88s of II/KG77 escorted by 15 Bf 109s of II./JG 53 and I./JG 77. Spitfires claimed three Bf 109s in total, but Beurling’s victim was the sole loss. The RAF fighter force claimed sixteen enemy planes destroyed and nineteen damaged during the day.[58]
6-7 8 July 1942 Spitfire Vc BR128 1 x Bf 109 destroyed. 1 x Bf 109 and 1 x Ju 88 damaged Scrambled at 7-30 am versus 7 Ju-88s, escorted by Bf 109s of I/JG 77 and 21 MC202s of 20 Gruppo. Beurling’s Bf 109 was claimed downed into the sea 2 miles South of Gozo. The 24 intercepting Spitfires claimed 3 Ju-88s damaged, 3 Bf 109s destroyed and four other fighters damaged. One C.202 pilot was wounded and his aircraft damaged. Beurling claimed his two aircraft damaged later at 12-30pm.[59]
8-9. 10 July 1942 Spitfire Vc BR323 1 x Bf 109 and 1 x MC 202 destroyed Combat versus 14 Ju-88s escorted by C.202s of 20 Gruppo and Bf 109s of JG 53. Seven Spitfires of 249 claimed two fighters shot down and one damaged, and 603 Squadron a Ju-88 damaged and a Bf 109 probable. Beurling claimed a Bf 109 of Stab/.JG 53, Lt Hans-Jurgen Frodien who was killed in Bf 109F-4 Werk No.7366 "Black<2+-". In mid-morning Beurling was part of a 249 Squadron ‘bounce’ of 20 C.202s and Bf 109s. He shot down the C.202 of Serg Magg. Francesco Visentini (wounded, rescued from sea) of 378 Squadriglia, 155 Gruppo CT.[60]
10-12. 12 July 1942 Spitfire Vc BR565 3 x MC202s Destroyed Scrambled at 9-45 am to intercept 11 Ju-88s, and entered combat with the escort. Beurling shot down a Re 2001 of 358 Squadriglia, 2 Gruppo CT North of Gozo; Ten. Fransesco Vichi was killed ( this aircraft was also attacked by F/O Hetherington). During the later air search by two 2 Gruppo aircraft for the missing Vichi, North of Malta around noon Beurling surprised and shot down both Ten Carlo Seganti, 358 Squadriglia, Ten Col. Aldo Quarantotti (2 Gruppo CO) who were both killed.[61]
13. 23 July 1942 Spitfire Vc BR135 1 x Re 2001 destroyed. 1 x Ju-88 damaged Scrambled at 10-21am and engaged a raid consisting of three Ju-88s and five Re2001 and seven Bf 109s as escort. One Ju-88 was claimed destroyed and two more damaged by the intercepting Spitfires, with a Bf 109 ‘probable’. Beurling reported then blowing off a Re2001’s wing, the wreck crashing into the sea.[62]
14-15-16-17. 27 July 1942 Spitfire Vc BR301 2 x C 202s and 2 x Bf 109s destroyed. 2 x Bf 109s damaged. At 9-15 five 249 Squadron scrambled to engage the departing eight Ju-88 raiding Ta' Qali; In combat with 13 C.202s Beurling downed Serg Falerio Gelli (3 claimed victories) of 378 Squadriglia , 155 Gruppo CT (wounded, he crash- landed near Ta’Kuljat on Gozo and was made POW) and ace Capt. Furio Doglio Niclot (6 claims), C.O. of 151 Squadriglia, 20 Gruppo CT (killed).[63] After lunch Beurling and 249 tangled with Bf 109 escorts, and one Bf 109 Beurling downed was probably of Stab./JG 53, Leut. Karl-Heinz Preu (5 claims) who was killed in Bf 109F-4(Trop.) WNo.7525 "<3 - + -".[64] Eleven Axis fighters ( 8 Bf 109s and 3 C.202) were claimed during the day; actual losses were three Bf 109s and two C202s.[65]
18. 29 July 1942 Spitfire Vc BR301 1 x BF 109 destroyed. Seven 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept 20 Bf 109s and C.202s. Attacked by a Bf 109 Beurling’s canopy was shot off but he managed to evade, and then shoot down a Bf 109 some 3 miles North of Grand Harbour. Bf 109F-4 WNo.13060 "Yellow 2" of 3./JG 77, Uzz. Karl-Heinz Witschke was killed.[66]
19 8 August 1942 Spitfire Vb EN973 1 x BF 109 destroyed Five 249 Sqn. Spitfires engaged eight Bf 109s at 8-30 some 8 miles from Zonkor Point. Beurling’s engine was hit but he belly-landed safely, although his Spitfire was a write-off. Ofw. Rollwage (II/ JG 53), Oblt. Freytag & Fw. Pohl (both I/JG 77) claimed fighters shot down. .[67]
19.33 13 August 1942 Spitfire Vb EP135 Third share x Ju-88 destroyed Intercepted at 17-40 NE of Linosa. F/L F. Jones, P/O Beurling and Sgt Wynn collectively downed a recon. Ju 88D-1 Werk No.430274 "F6+KK" of 2(F)/122 ; Uzz Schmiedgen, Observer Lt Albert Weiblen and one other unnamed crew MIA. [68]
20.33-21.33. 25 September 1942 Spitfire Vb EP706 2 x Bf 109s destroyed. 1 x Bf 109 damaged. Ten 249 Sqn Spitfires scrambled at 11-20am, and tangled with a dozen Bf 109s. Beurling made the only claims. One I/JG 77 Bf 109G-2 reported to have crash landed on Sicily.[69]
22.33-23.33. 10 October 1942 Spitfire Vb EP706 2 x Bf 109s destroyed Beurling was flying an air test when vectored onto two low-level Bf 109s and entered combat over Filfla. At least one Bf 109 of JG 77 reportedly crash landed on Sicily.[70]
24-25-26.33 13 October 1942 Spitfire Vc BR173 2 x Bf 109s and1 x Ju-88 destroyed. 1 x Ju-88 damaged. Eight 249 Sqn fighters intercepted 7 Ju-88s and 30 109s over St Paul’s Bay; Beurling claimed the Ju-88 of I/LG 1; Fw Anton Wilfner and crew were killed. 249 Squadron claimed one Ju-88 destroyed, one probable and three damaged.[71]
27-28-29.33 14 October 1942 Spitfire Vc BR173 2 x Bf 109s and 1 x Ju-88 destroyed Seven 249 Sqn. fighters entered combat at approx. 1-10pm SE of Zonkor against seven Ju-88s and a JG 53 escort. One Bf 109 victim was possibly from II./JG 53; (Obfw. Josef Ederer -7 claims- was wounded and crash-landed Bf109F-4 Werk No.7619 "Black 1" , 40% damaged.) 249 claimed one Ju-88 destroyed, a Ju-88 probable, 2 damaged and 3 Bf 109 destroyed, one probable and two damaged.[72]
30.33 24 September 1943 Spitfire F IX MA585 (403 Sqn) 1 x FW-190 destroyed Ramrod No. 243 to the Beauvais/Poix area. Probably of JG 2 -who lost 4 Fw-190s shot down and 3 pilots killed. RAF fighters claimed 12 destroyed.
31.33 30 December 1943 Spitfire LF IX MH883 1 x FW-190 destroyed. Lone fighter spotted and shot down 7 miles W Compeigne. Fw 190A-5 Wk No.1175 "White 16" of 5./JG 26 (Uzz. Heinz Wyrich (2v) wounded. ) [73]
TOTALS 31(& 1/3 sh) kills 9 damaged



  1. ^ Aged 34, Doglio, a famous pre-war pilot who held seven international flying records, was an ace with seven air victories, six of them Spitfires, shot down in four weeks over Malta.[9][26]
  2. ^ The rank was in error.


  1. ^ a b Spick 1999, p. 107.
  2. ^ Nolan 1981, p. 185.
  3. ^ "George Frederick "Screwball" Beurling."'. Retrieved: 3 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Spick 1997 p. 119.
  5. ^ Nolan 1981, p. 24.
  6. ^ Nolan 1981, p. 25.
  7. ^ Shores and Williams 1994, p. 126.
  8. ^ "Combat Reports, Second World War—Image details—Beurling, G. Y. (sic), Sergeant, 3 May 1942." The National Archives via DocumentsOnline. Retrieved: 29 July 2009.
  9. ^ a b Massimello 1998
  10. ^ Nolan 1981, p. 30.
  11. ^ Lucas 1983, pp. 182–183.
  12. ^ Beurling with Roberts 1943, p. 140.
  13. ^ Nolan 1981, pp. 58–59.
  14. ^ Lucas 1983, p. 183.
  15. ^ Massimello 1998, p. 62.
  16. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, p. 162.
  17. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, pp. 188–189, 191–192.
  18. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, p. 203.
  19. ^ Cull with Galea 2004, p. 207.
  20. ^ Shores et al. 1991, pp. 405–409.
  21. ^ Beurling and Roberts 2002
  22. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, p. 211.
  23. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, pp. 221–222.
  24. ^ Beurling and Roberts 1943, p. 165.
  25. ^ Rogers 2000, p. 192.
  26. ^ Massimello 1998, pp. 53–54, 57.
  27. ^ Prien 1998, p. 472.
  28. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35646. p. 3303. 24 July 1942. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  29. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35712. p. 4116. 18 September 1942. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  30. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35691. p. 3861. 1 September 1942. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  31. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, p. 241.
  32. ^ Rogers 2000, p. 199.
  33. ^ Nolan 1981, p. 70.
  34. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, pp. 206–207.
  35. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, pp. 282–389.
  36. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, p. 297.
  37. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35747. p. 4487. 13 October 1942. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  38. ^ Glancey 2006
  39. ^ Cull with Galea 2005, pp. 304–305.
  40. ^ Our Name Wasn't Written, Caroline Vernon, p84, imagecraft, Canberra, 1992
  41. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35768. p. 4753. 30 October 1942. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  42. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35919. pp. 978–980. 23 February 1943. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  43. ^ McCall 2009, p. 52.
  44. ^ Shores and Williams 1994
  45. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36196. p. 4412. 1 October 1943. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  46. ^ Caldwell 1996, p, 194.
  47. ^ "Combat Reports, Second World War: Image details, Beurling, Flight Lieutenant, 30 December 1943." DocumentsOnline, The National Archives. Retrieved: 29 July 2009.
  48. ^ Nolan 1981, p. 123.
  49. ^ Nolan 1981
  50. ^ Nolan 1981, pp. 173–174.
  51. ^ Rogers 2000
  52. ^ Nolan 1981, p. 181.
  53. ^ Shores & Williams 1994, p.127
  54. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; ‘Malta- The Spitfire Year’ (Grub Street 1991)
  55. ^ Caldwell ; “JG26 War Diary” (grub street 1998).
  56. ^ Caldwell ; “JG26 War Diary” (grub street 1998)
  57. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 315.
  58. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 393-4.
  59. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 400-402.
  60. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 406.
  61. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 408.
  62. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 427.
  63. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 432.
  64. ^
  65. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 436.
  66. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 443.
  67. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 461.
  68. ^ Cull, Malizia; page 504.
  69. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 561.
  70. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 573-4.
  71. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 598.
  72. ^ Shores , Cull, Malizia; page 604.
  73. ^ Caldwell ; “JG26 War Diary” (grub street 1998) page 191.


  • Beurling, George and Leslie Roberts. Malta Spitfire: The Buzz Beurling Story. London: Penguin Books, 2002. ISBN 0-14-301237-1.
  • Beurling, George and Leslie Roberts. Malta Spitfire: The Story of a Fighter Pilot. New York/Toronto: Ferrar & Rinehart, Inc. 1943. NO ISBN.
  • Caldwell, Donald. The JG26 War Diary, Vol. 2: 1943–1945. London: Grub Street, 1996. ISBN 978-1-898697-86-2.
  • Cull, Brian with Frederick Galea. "Spitfires over Malta". London: Grub Street, 2006. ISBN 1-90494-330-6.
  • Cull, Brian with Frederick Galea. 249 at Malta: Malta Top-scoring Fighter Squadron 1941–1943. Malta: Wise Owl Publication, 2004. ISBN 978-99932-32-52-0.
  • Glancey, Jonathan. Spitfire: The Illustrated Biography. London: Atlantic Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84354-528-6.
  • Lucas, Laddie (ed.). Wings of war. London: Hutchinson, 1983. ISBN 0-09-154280-4.
  • Massimello, Giovanni. Furio Niclot Doglio Un pilota indimenticabile (Italian). Milano: Giorgio Apostolo Editore, 1998.
  • McCall, Bruce. "Ode on a Canadian Warbird." Air & Space,Volume 24, Issue 6, December 2009/January 2010, pp. 50–53.
  • Nolan, Brian. Hero: The Buzz Beurling Story. London: Penguin Books, 1981. ISBN 0-14-006266-1.
  • Oswald, Mary. They Led the Way: Members of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. Wetaskiwin, Alberta: Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, 1999. ISBN 0-9684843-0-1.
  • Prien, Jochen. Jagdgeschwader 53: A History of the "Pik As" Geschwader May 1942–January 1944. Atglen PA: Schiffer Military History, 1998. ISBN O-7643-0292-2.
  • Rogers, Anthony. Battle over Malta: Aircraft Losses and Crash sites 1940-42. Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 2000. ISBN 978-0-7509-2392-7.
  • Shores, Christopher and Clive Williams. Aces High. London: Grub Street, 1994. ISBN 1-898697-00-0.
  • Shores, Christopher, Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia. Malta: the Spitfire Year 1942. London: Grub Street, 1991. ISBN 978-0-948817-16-8.
  • Spick, Mike. Allied Fighter Aces of World War II. London: Greenhill Books, 1997. ISBN 1-85367-282-3.
  • Spick, Mike. The Complete Fighter Ace: All the World's Fighter Aces, 1914–2000. London: Greenhill Books, 1999. ISBN 1-85367-374-9

External links

  • An excellent biography of George "Screwball" Beurling
  • An extensive biography of Beurling
  • Beurling Academy
  • Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame official site
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