Bio / Text:
John Frederick McElroy joined 54 Squadron RAF on 27th March 1942
McElroy's military career began in the Canadian infantry. He served with the North Battleford Light Infantry and in the Rocky Mountain Rangers before enlisting in the RCAF in 1940. He was commissioned in September 1941, left for the UK in November, and joined 54 Squadron at the start of April 1942.
In spring 1942, McElroy was posted to Malta. He made an inauspicious debut. On June 9, while taking off in a Spitfire Vc from the HMS Eagle to reinforce that island as part of Operation Salient, McElroy damaged the aircraft's tail. He crashed on landing, and the wing commander grounded him temporarily. George Beurling made the HMS Eagle-Malta flight the same day and both joined 249 Squadron.
Within a month, McElroy had racked up two kills, a shared kill and a damaged enemy. On October 19, for his seven kills, one probable kill, two shared victories, and ten more enemy aircraft damaged, McElroy received the DFC and promotion to Flight Leader. Included his initial flight to Malta, he had crash-landed three times - once after suffering a slight leg wound - and landed a severely damaged Spitfire another time.
McElroy shot up two more enemy fighters before the end of October, and left Malta by the end of the year to become an instructor and take leave in Canada.
He returned to combat in January 1944 with Canada's 421 Squadron. After damaging a Me 109 on 15 June, he took some hits himself over Caen, but he managed to crash behind friendly lines. He'd score another two kills before receiving a promotion to Squadron Leader and command of 416 Squadron, another Canadian unit. He tacked on another kill, another damaged, and a Bar to his DFC before leaving Europe in October, 1944.
McElroy returned to Canada, spending the rest of his service on the Pacific coast. Upon his release from service on September 24, 1945, McElroy joined the Auxiliary Air Force, flying with 442 Squadron as an instructor. Obviously, he loved to fly.
After flying with the Israeli Air Force in 1948/1949, McElroy returned to Vancouver.
When the RCAF expanded again as a result of the Korean War, McElroy rejoined as a Flying Officer in April, 1951, serving as an instructor and then with 421 Squadron in Europe on Sabres, becoming a Flight Lieutenant in January, 1956. He left the service in November 1964.