Pilot Officer Garscadden first appears in the squadron records on April 12th 1942. Sadly the Posting In form for early 1942 is missing, however it can with some degree of confidence be assumed that he arrived only a week or so before this date. At 29 James was rather older than the vast majority of pilots on the squadron, there were some seasoned veterans and pre-war regulars but by 1942 these were becoming increasingly rare on operations.
James’s first operation was flown on April 12th 1942 with Flying Officer Fink and crew to Essen, the operation was not completed due to the pilot becoming sick over Holland, the all incendiary load was jettisoned. The following night James was aloft again, operating alongside the squadron commander Wing Commander Holder DFC in Short Stirling W7469 HA-M. The crew were tasked with mining, on this occasion the operation was successful dropping four mines in the allotted Garden, however minor damage was caused to the Stirling’s undercarriage when landing. Dortmund was the target on April 14th and once again James was in the right hand seat with W/Cdr Holder DFC. Over the target W7469 HA-M dropped 1890 x 4lb incendiary bombs on a TR fix, it was not all one sided, the aircraft was coned and hit by flak resulting in minor damage, no injuries were reported.
James did not operate again until the 17th when he joined the experienced Flight Lieutenant Humphreys DFC and crew in attacking Hamburg, as on the previous operation flak caused damage to James’s aircraft. An oil pipe to one of the engines of W7521 HA-U was cut. The crew successfully bombed the target dropping 5 x 1000lb + 3 x 500lb HE on a built up area west of the aiming point. The crew were back at RAF Marham after a operation lasting 5 hours 48 minutes.
It would be a month before operations were flown again, on May 17th James joined another experienced crew skippered by Irishman Sgt McAuley on a successful mining operation, it was on this operation that F/Lt Humphrey’s and crew Failed to Return, it was Arthur Humphrey’s 27th operation on 218 Squadron, he had previously completed 26 operations with No.75(NZ) Squadron on his first tour of operations. It was around this time that James crewed up with 19-year-old Flight Sergeant John Webber. The crews first operation was the 1000 Bomber raid on Cologne on May 30th 1942, the crew flew Short Stirling W7474 HA-K. The following night the second 1000 Bomber raid was flown against Essen, the crew were once again involved and aloft in W7474 HA-K claiming a successful raid.
On June 3rd the crew were detailed and briefed to attack Bremen, aloft from RAF Marham at 23:06 hours in W7474 the crew were intercepted and shot down by Oblt Ludwig Becker of 6./NJG2 at 00:27 hours 2 km north of Dey Kooy, there was one survivor. Parts of W7474 were recovered by the RNLAF in 1969. Flight Sergeant John Webber was shot down on his 27th operation as captain, he had previously completed 4 operations as 2nd pilot bringing his total to 31.
Son of James Garscadden and of Jessie Garscadden (nee Currie); husband of Williamina Forrest Garscadden (nee McGregor), of Dalmuir, Dunbartonshire.
A special thank you to Stephen Saville for supplying the photograph, Thank you Stephen.