Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron Number 242, composed almost entirely of Canadian pilots, was known as the "Canadian Squadron." It had been assigned to France from April to June 1940 and had flown several combat missions. During that time, Flight Officer Mark Brown, a native of Manitoba, had downed 15 German fighters. He would later be promoted to command Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Squadron Number 1.
During August, the legendary Douglas Bader, one of the RAF's leading aces, assumed command of the Canadian Squadron. Squadron Leader Bader had lost both legs in an accident in 1931, but this misfortune had not prevented him from becoming an excellent combat pilot. Once RAF Squadron Number 242 had been re-equipped with Spitfire fighters, it was declared operational on 31 August 1940. It flew its first intercept mission the same day.
The Canadian Squadron's first mission under its new commander was a memorable one. The squadron intercepted a formation of 100 Dornier bombers and long-range escort fighters over southern England. The Canadian Squadron inflicted such heavy casualties on the formation that not a single German bomber reached its target. Bader shot down two German planes, and his wingman, Flight Officer William McKnight, a Canadian, downed three German bombers.