Vickers Wellington II - W5589 - 405 Squadron - 5th January 1942
On the 5th January 1942 the crew took off from Pocklington at 0928hrs on a routine air test flight following orders from the Flight Commander, Squadron Leader Fauquier & prior to an operation due that evening. At the time of take-off Intermittent snow showers were reported.
On board were:-
Sgt O.B. LeFurgey - RCAF – 1st Pilot
Sgt P Wityck - RACF – 2nd Pilot
Sgt J.D. Garrow – RAAF – Air Observer
Sgt W.A. Robertson – RCAF – 1st Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Sgt J.B. Gayfer – RCAF – Air Gunner
Sgt M.P.F. Robson, RCAF (Wireless Operator) should also have been on the flight but had missed the transport that would take the crew to the aircraft. He was sadly killed on operations the following month.
It was reported that the Aircraft developed engine trouble & crashed at 1015 hrs whilst trying to force land near to an artillery range at Strensall (5 miles from York).
An inquiry into the accident was carried out at Pocklington the following day with witness statements being examined. These included several members of 405 Squadron including ground crew, a flight Lieutenant from Pocklington air base, a private from the Pioneer Corps & a civilian postman.
It was reported that the Aircraft had been examined the previous afternoon by ground crew who reported it serviceable. Prior to take off the fitter & then Sgt LeFurgey had ‘ran up’ both engines & both were satisfied. The ground crew mechanic was also satisfied with the Engines & said that Sgt LeFurgey was very particular in checking things as he had previously worked as ground crew.
Sgt Lefurgey is reported as having a total of 168 hours flying time under his belt by this point & was described by the Squadron leader as being above average as a pilot & very keen.
It was the opinion of the enquiry that the port engine had caught fire in the air necessitating a forced landing. The aircraft crashed on landing due to either bad visibility during the snow storm or due to damage of the aircraft due to fire rendering it uncontrollable. It was thought that the aircraft hit the ground at a 45° angle with both engines making holes about 3 feet deep in the ground, it then appears to have gone over onto its back & exploded scattering pieces over a large area making examination difficult
A Private of the Pioneer corps who was working at Strensall at the time saw the aircraft go by & said that there were flames coming from the left side & that it didn’t appear to be running well.
The Merlin Engine was sent off to Rolls Royce for examination
The death entries for all men just state that they died due to war operations.
All were buried at Barmby Moor on the 8th January in a service lead by the Rev E.M. Parry, the Chaplain from Pocklington Station.
Sergeant Osborne Bayfield LeFurgey – 1st Pilot
Osborne Bayfield LeFurgey was born on the 28th February 1909 at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada to John LeFurgey, a Farmer & Margaret Ross.
Osborne grew up in Summerside with siblings William, Minnie, John & Havelock.
He joined the Cadet corps for a period of 4 years between 1920 & 1924 before training with the Canadian Officer Training Corps between 1924 & 1927. He then spent a brief period serving with the Prince Edward Island Regiment Lighthorse (a Primary Reserve armoured reconnaissance regiment of the Canadian Forces) before moving onto the Royal Canadian Air Forces based at Camp Borden where he served between 1927 & 1928.
He also attended Alcadia & Dalhoustie universities for a period of 5 years studying Engineering, played professional Hockey with the Boston Tigers, working in Auto sales & Service with Bruce Stewart Ltd before making the move to work self employed as a General Contractor.
On the 10th July 1931 at Summerside he would marry Katherine Irma Gordon, they would have 3 boys Robert Hudson born 1932, William Ross born 1933 & Donald Alfred born 1934 the family would settle in Alberton, Prince Edwards Island
Given his experience it was not surprising that Osbourne would enlist with the Royal Canadian Air Force 2 months after war was declared. He enlisted on the 12th December & was given the Service No R/50333 & the rank of Leading Aircraftman. On joining he is described as 30 years old, 5ft 5 inch in height, dark brown hair, hazel eyes & a medium complexion. He declared on entry that he had previous flying experience, flying in Massachusetts in the USA.
Later in December Osborne would write a letter asking to apply for either a short service commission or to be considers as a non-commissioned officer. He was currently serving as an Aero Engine Mechanic & felt that he was better suited as a pilot as he had previously clocked up 80 hours’ time whilst stationed at Camp Borden, he further stressed that he had varied military experience & had studied Engineering & asks that he be considered for any new appointments.
He received a letter acknowledging his request which stated that no appointments were available but that they would notify him of any openings.
Communication from senior officers within the Air Force reveals that Lefurgey was put forward for consideration as a pilot as it was felt that he would be more valuable to the Air Force as a pilot & not an Aircraftsman & that as an Aircraftsman he was quite discontented. This Communication makes mention that he had been advised by the recruiting officer that the best way to be considered for a pilot’s course was to join as a tradesman in spite of the fact that he was over the recommended age for pilots. On account of this it was fed back to the recruitment office not to make such promises in the future.
By April of 1940 Osborne is still working as a mechanic whilst the debate about his suitability as a pilot continues. He now has the recommendation of senior officers to be considered & if still deemed to be over age then perhaps he be considered as a training instructor.
In July LeFurgey writes a letter to his senior officers asking for a transfer to the RAF as a Pilot. He states that he is now 31 years of age & is not being considered as a pilot in the RCAF as he is over the recommended age of 28 years old. He is unhappy as a fitter & only ever enlisted to fly & wished to transfer immediately.
Later that month a request is made for Lefurgey to transfer to the RAF as a pilot & that if such a transfer is not possible that he be discharged & then be considered for the British Commonwealth training plan on the basis his age would not be held against him in light of his previous flying experience.
The response? That in light of his experience he be considered for Aircrew!
Whilst in training Osborne would be involved in 2 accidents one through carelessness & the other through inexperience. The first on the 10th February 1941 resulted in cuts to both hands & his forehead & the other on the 18th February 1941 which occurred at Cambellville, Ontario would leave him with a broken jaw, loss of some of his upper teeth & a laceration of the mucous membrane. He had to undergo a surgical operation & took about 2 months to recover.
But nothing stopped Osborne & he was awarded his pilots flying badge on the 23rd May 1941. His training record details that he made good progress & was good at aerobatics, was good Pilot material & above average. It also states that with further training he should without difficulty reach the officer rank. Although suggested for a fighter squadron another instructor felt he would be better with heavier machines.
He was promoted to Sergeant 5 days later & carried out further flying training at 22 Operational Training Unit in Warwickshire before moving to 405 Squadron in September of 1941
Osborne had served with the RCAF for just over 2 years when he was killed at the age of 32 years old the report within his service record states that he suffered multiple injuries & burns.
He is commemorated on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton. He was awarded the 39/45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, War Medal & Canadian Voluntary Service Medal & Clasp.
Sergeant Peter Wityck – 2nd Pilot
The son of Polish parents Peter Wityck was born on the 2nd February 1922 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. His parents were Peter Wityck & Ksenia Bratsz. His father Peter had first moved to Cleveland Ohio before settling in Canada where he married Ksenia (Jennie) on the 28th May 1912.
Peter grew up in Brandon along with his parents & 3 sisters. He attended Central Brandon & Earl Haig Schools before attending Brandon Collegiate & Brandon College where he undertook a General Studies course. His report card from Brandon Collegiate shows that he gained mostly ‘A’s in his subjects, this is further backed up by a reference supplied by them which states that Peter is an above Average student with a cheerful good nature & general good character.
The family attended the Salvation Army where Peter was a Solider. He served with the Citadel Band as a drummer. The officer in Charge spoke very highly of him in his reference stating he was reliable, honest & trustworthy.
His father who was the Head Porter in the Prince Edward Hotel managed to get him a job to keep him occupied over the summer months as a Bell boy. A lover of sports he enjoyed Baseball, Rugby, Swimming & Skating.
He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force at Brandon on 1st June 1940 & was given the Service no R/80002 at this time he was considered for Aircrew as either a Pilot or Air Observer. He was only 18 years old when he enlisted & is described as 5 ft 8 inches tall, light brown hair, hazel eyes & pale complexion.
Peter went through his initial Air Force Training before commencing training as a pilot. He was promoted to Sergeant (Pilot) in May 1941 on completion of his flight training. He was described as a Good Student & Average Pilot.
He was transferred to 22 Operational Training Unit in Warwickshire in July of 1941 before moving to 405 Squadron in October 1941 he was just 19 year old when he died. He is commemorated on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton.
His father who had been ill during the war passed away in 1946, following this his mother would move to Vancouver with her 3 daughters, where she died in 1978.
Peter comes across as such a bright young man who would have gone far in life had he not lost his life at such a young age. The Wityck family still feel a great sense of loss for Peter & are so thankful that in spite of the fact that they live in Canada others remember him & take the time to visit his grave.
Sergeant James David Garrow – Air Observer
James David Garrow was born on the 4th September 1920 in Dalby, Queensland, Australia to Peter Garrow, a Tailor & Helena Ester Herbert. His parents had previously married in 1906 at Goulburn, New South Wales.
James’ father Peter was a Scotsman from Banffshire who had gone to work at sea before returning to the UK to learn his trade as a Tailor on Bond Street in London. He made the decision to move to Australia in 1899 settling in New South Wales & later moved to Dalby where he ran his tailoring business.
Peter & Helena would also have children Alexander Herbert born 1907, Jean Heather born 1908, Jessie Anderine born 1914 & Donald George Born 1916.
James attended Dalby State School before moving to Toowoomba Boys Grammar School & was a member of the cadets there between 1936 & 1937
By 1932 the family are staying at Archibald Street in Dalby but sadly on 18th October of the following year Peter Garrow would pass away aged 55 years.
Peter Garrow was a prominent figure in the community & had for a time had been a member of Dalby Town Council, Mayor from 1924-27, assisted with the local church where he served as a session clerk for 19 years along with so many other local activities & responsibilities
James would work as a Clerk within his Brothers dry cleaning business between 1938 & 1940 & also served for a year as a Lewis Gunner with the 61 Battalion Queensland Cameron Highlanders which he left to join the Air Force.
James enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on the 13th September 1940, he was given the Service no 404529. At the time of his enlistment he was residing at Ormond Street, Ascot. On joining he declared he had only ever been charged with one traffic breach for passing a stationery tram when he was fined £1. He is described at 5ft 4 inches, Brown Hair & Eyes & a dark complexion. He gave his hobbies as Swimming, Horse riding & Tennis.
He carried out his initial Air Force Training at Bradfield Park, New South Wales before transferring to
complete his Air Observer Training in Edmonton, Canada. On completion he then trained in Bombing & Air Gunnery at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, then again transferred to Rivers, Manitoba to undertake Air Navigation Training.
He was promoted to Sergeant in May of 1941 & transferred to England in July of that year where he joined 22 Operational Training Unit in Warwickshire. By October he had joined 405 Squadron based at Pocklington.
James was only 21 years old when he died, his mother was sent a letter dated the 9th January advising her of his death. His name is listed on the Australian War Memorial in Campbell, Australia.
He was awarded the Air Observers badge, 1939/45 War Medal & Air Crew Europe Star, all of which would have been sent onto his family along with his belongings.
His mother Helena would pass away on the 20th February 1955.
Sergeant William Alan Robertson – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
William Alan Robertson was born on the 15th August 1913 in Reston, Manitoba to Joshua Kines Robertson, an Electrician & Elizabeth Bulloch.
His parents had previously married at Pipestone, Manitoba on the 19th April 1911.
In 1916 & 1921 Censuses the family are residing in Pipestone & by 1921 another son Errol has been born.
William known by friends & Family as Alan attended Reston Public School before moving to Reston collegiate. He commenced employment with the Bank of Montreal in 1930 & whilst there studied courses in Banking, Bookkeeping & Accounting which allowed him to progress with his career as Teller, Bookkeeper later rising to the post of Accountant.
In his spare time, he enjoyed shooting, tennis, golf, curling, skating & hockey
Alan enlisted for Air duties with the Royal Canadian Air Force on the 13th April 1940 & was given the Service No R/59266. He is described as 5 ft 9 inches in height, dark brown hair, brown eyes & a ruddy complexion, he is detailed as having a Gunshot wound on the back of his left hand which caused no issues. He received glowing references from both his Employer & the local Police Department in Gladstone.
He carried out his initial training in Toronto before attending courses in Wireless operation in Montreal & then Bombing & Gunnery training at Jarvis Air Training School.
Early in 1941 & weeks before he would leave the country for further training, he was given permission by the Air Force to marry Marjorie Johnston in Toronto on 20th January 1941.
He initially transferred to Rest pool in Halifax before travelling to the personnel reception centre in the UK in February 1941. He trained briefly with 1 Operational Training unit at Silloth before moving to Signal School at Cranwell then 22 Operational Training Unit.
He transferred to 405 Squadron in August 1941 & was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1st September 1941
Only 28 years old when he died at this time his home address was given as 53 Rose Park Drive, Toronto. He is commemorated on the Canadian War Memorial at Nanton & Gladstone War Memorial. His local newspaper detailed that he had carried out raids in Berlin, France & Norway.
Sergeant John Burton Gayfer – Air Gunner
John Burton Gayfer was born on the 9th December 1919 in Ingersoll, Ontario to John Ernest Gayfer, a Druggist & Eva Mildred Sudworth. John & Eva had previously married in Ingersoll on the 27th June 1901 & would go on to have daughters Dorothy Louise in 1902, Margaret Beverly in 1906 & Mildred Frances in 1916 before having John who would be known by the family as Bud.
The family lived at Oxford Street in the town & John ran the local Drug Store where Bud would start to train as a Druggist from 1938.
Bud enlisted in the Royal Canadian Airforce on 22nd September 1939 & was given the Service No R/18039A. He was described as 5 ft 9 inches tall, fair hair, blue eyes & fair complexion. He carried out his initial training in London, Toronto & Air Gunning Training in Ottawa.
He transferred to the UK in June of 1940 taking up a post in 112 Squadron (Fighters) before moving to 110 Squadron (Bombers), then 400 Squadron before settling in at 405 Squadron in Pocklington in August 1941.
Bud was only 22 years old when he died & is commemorated on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton & the Cenotaph at Ingersoll. He was awarded the 39/45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence & War Medals & the Canadian Volunteer Medal & Clasp.
Notification of his death was sent to his mother in Ingersoll along with an Uncle Mr M Daniels of Nottingham, England.
Buds mother would die in 1952 & his father 1962, both are buried in Ingersoll Rural Cemetery.
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