Miles Magister - L8162 – 405 Squadron - 4th April 1942
On the 4th April 1942 Squadron Leader (Pilot) John ‘Jack’ McCormack & Flight Lieutenant William Hugh Fetherston (Air Observer) took out the Station Magister.
The Aircraft crashed near to Barmby Moor in the afternoon at about 1600hrs killing both Airmen. The accident report states that the aircraft was taken out on a practice flight & whilst completing aerobatic maneuverers it dived vertically into the ground having failed to complete a slow roll at low altitude the accident was declared an error of judgement. The result was that operational pilots became restricted to the type of aircraft flown by their squadrons.
Squadron Leader John McCormack – Pilot
John McCormack was born on the 28th September 1920 in York, Ontario, Canada to Leroy ‘Roy’ Meredith McCormack & Helen Dodds & was known by family & friends as Jack.
By the 1921 Census the family including an older sister Ethel are living at 59 Kane Ave, York, Ontario & Jacks Father Roy is a working as a teacher. It also shows that his mother Helen has Scottish roots having been born in Edinburgh, Scotland. A younger brother William would be born in 1924.
Jacks father Roy had served in the 1st World War initially with the Canadian Army before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps where he reached the rank of Lieutenant serving in England & France & clocked up over 230 hours flying time. It was during this time that he married Jacks mother Helen in 1918 in Paddington, London. Roy later went on to become Principal of Roseland Public School a post he held for over 20 years.
Jack attended Bala Avenue Public School before moving onto York Memorial Collegiate then Vaughan Road Collegiate. He obtained awards whilst at High School for playing Rugby with the School team. During the summer months he would take on Summer Jobs helping to coach the schools ball teams & as a life guard with the Rotary Club at Southampton Beach. A lover of sport he enjoyed playing Rugby, Basketball, Baseball, Badminton, Swimming, Hockey, Golf & Tennis in his spare time.
Jack enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on the 21st June 1940 & was given the Service No R/72308 & rank of Aircraftman 2nd class. At this time, he was still a student at Vaughan Road Collegiate. He is described as 6 feet tall with black hair, hazel eyes & medium complexion.
Jack firstly attended No 2 Manning Depot in Brandon, Manitoba before moving onto Initial Training at No 2 School at Regina, Saskatchewan in October 1940. This was followed the following month by Elementary Flight Training at No 6 School Prince Albert then No 4 Service Flying Training School in January of 1941 at Saskatoon.
It was no surprise given Jacks father Roys previous service during World War 1 that he would also enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He would go on to work in various training stations in Canada, training boys just like Jack.
On the 17th March 1941 Jack obtained his flying badge & commission to Flying Officer & left for the UK on the 5th of April. On arrival he would have carried out training at an Operational Training Unit.
A report exists that on the 15th December 1941, Jack then a Flight Lieutenant with 405 Squadron was giving training to a qualifying captain. The aircraft a Wellington II reportedly overshot the runway in causing it to run into the barbed wire fence, this was due to bad weather conditions making landing conditions difficult.
Jack McCormack’s service was regularly reported in the Canadian press, detailing the many operations flown over Germany and the skill he had in carrying these out.
Jack was 21 years old when he lost his life, his father who was at that time a Flying Officer stationed at Edmonton in Canada had been at home when the dreaded telegram arrived. He is commemorated at the Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton and on the Roll of Honour at Vaughan Road Colligate. His estate and belongings were later sent onto his mother.
In December of 1942 Jacks father Roy would retire from the Royal Canadian Air Force on Medical Grounds. He had been suffering regularly with Dizzy spells & Headaches and after a spell in hospital was diagnosed with Arteriosclerosis & Hypertension, conditions made worse due to the recent loss of his son Jack and that his 2 other children were in the services. Roy would sadly pass away on the 5th April 1946 from coronary occlusion, he was 51 years old and is buried at Hillcrest Cemetery, Woodbridge where the family stone also remembers their beloved son Jack.
Flight Lieutenant William Hugh Fetherston - Air Observer
William Hugh Fetherston was born on the 18th November 1917 in London, Ontario, Canada to Hugh Stanley Fetherston & Alma Elizabeth Lodge.
The 1921 Census shows the family residing at Arnprior when Williams father is working as a Book-keeper
William attending Arnprior public school before moving onto Arnprior High School leaving in 1935. In his spare time, he enjoyed Rugby, Hockey, Field & Track events & Tennis being a member of Fairmount Tennis Club, Montreal.
Between 1932 & 1935 William served as a Private with the Lanark & Renfrew Scottish, a Canadian Army reserve artillery regiment.
In 1934 he began his career as a Clerk with Dominion at Arnprior where he remained for a year before moving to a new position as Ledgerkeeper/Teller with the Royal Bank of Canada where he remained until he enlisted. During his time with the bank he furthered his knowledge by taking courses in Accounting.
William enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on the 5th June 1940 and was given the Service No J/4530. He is described as 5 ft 9 inches tall with black hair, blue eyes & dark complexion. He carried out his Initial Air Force Training at Eglington, Toronto.
In October 1940 William would attend Air Observers training at Edmonton before moving to Bombing & Gunnery School at Fingal in December 1940
On the 25th January 1941 the Ottawa Journal would announce Williams engagement to Helen Gertrude Clark. Helen worked with the Department of Health as a Technician in the Pathology department. They married on the 1st February in London, Ontario. On the same day as their wedding William was promoted to Temporary Sergeant and is detailed the following month as being Commissioned from the ranks rising to Pilot Officer. A few days later he commenced his Advanced Navigators Training at Rivers, Manitoba. During his training he flew in Anson, Fairey Battle & Lochhead Aircraft.
He left for the UK on the 1st April 1941 and joined 12 Operational Training Unit before joining 405 Squadron based at Driffield then later Pocklington. During his time with 405 Squadron he would fly on operations to Dortmund, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg & Turin to name a few. In January of 1942 he rose to Acting Flight Lieutenant.
He was 25 years old when he died and was awarded the 39-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal, General Service Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp & Operational Wings & Certificate all of which were sent onto his wife along with his belongings.
William is named on the Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton & on the Clark Family Grave along with his wife at Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Williams father would pass in 1962 and his mother in 1973, her obituary details her beloved son ‘Bill’ & daughter in law Helen.
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