The War Graves of St Catherines,

Barmby-on-the-Moor, East Riding, Yorkshire

Barmby Moor War Dead - Crews Page 1

This page lists out research carried out in relation to the men who served & died as crews of the Air Force during WW2 and who are buried at Barmby Moor.   

If you havent already you can read the introduction to this project via the below link

Note - This page also includes an index of names

Due to the size of the project it has been broken down over several pages.  These include 2 pages for Crews & a page for Individuals (when only one person from the Aircraft is buried at Barmby Moor).  

Please get in touch via the email link below if you have either connections or a special interest in this project.

Handley Page Halifax II - W7879 – 102 Squadron

On 11th February 1943 the Crew were detailed to carry out an operation along with 5 other Aircraft from 102 Squadron to attack Wilhelmshaven

On Board were: -

Sgt HER Saunders – Pilot

Sgt Hill - 2nd Pilot

F/O H Farquharson-Ley – Navigator

Sgt AW Flansburgh Washbourne - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Sgt MN Reilly – Air Gunner

Sgt F Cooper – Air Gunner

Sgt T Coles – Flight Engineer

Sgt HE Amos – Air Bomber


The Operational report states that they took off at 1808hrs and crashed near to North Dalton at 1840hrs.  The crew sent a radio message to the base stating ‘Returning to Base Engine U/S’.  It goes on to mention that all the Crew were killed with the exception of the 2nd Pilot Sgt Hill who was treated at Driffield for Severe Concussion.

The Pocklington War Diary book states that this aircraft returned from the operation early as the engine was on fire, that it was too low to jettison the bomb load or for the crew to bale out.


The raid on Wilhelmshaven is said to be an important one in which a total of 177 aircraft were despatched.   The raid was said to be effective and although cloudy that night bombing was carried out accurately blowing up the Mariensiel Naval Ammunition Depot to the South of Wilhelmshaven, this resulted in the explosion causing widespread damage to the naval dockyards and town.  This raid would be the first blind bombing success for the new H2S Radar device


The Aircraft itself had been delivered originally to 76 Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse in September/ October of 1942 before being reallocated to 102 squadron


The investigation into the crash details that 30 minutes after take-off and 5 minutes after the Pilot Sgt Saunders had reported over the radio that one engine had failed and they were returning to base the aircraft crashed 3 miles from the base at Pocklington.


The 2nd Pilot and sole survivor of the crash Sgt Hill reported that he had heard Sgt Saunders report over the intercom that the engine had failed and that he was returning to base, this was followed by the order to Jettison the bombs.   The aircraft however had crashed with a full bomb load.


Witnesses on the ground reported that the Aircraft had been seen to make a turn to port over the village of North Dalton from which it did not recover.


The wreckage was examined and it was found that the port outer engine was found to be feathered and revealed an internal coolant leak (Feathering meant that the propeller blades on the failed engine would be rotated parallel to the airflow to stop the propeller rotating and therefore reduce drag, ultimately this should help in maintaining the aircrafts speed and altitude with the operative engines)


Therefore, the primary cause of the accident was considered to be an error of judgement on the Pilots part, who following the failure of the port outer engine lost control of the aircraft whilst turning into the dead engine at low altitude.  A contributory cause was probably the known bad handling characteristics of this type of aircraft and under these conditions.

Sergeant Harold Edward Richard Saunders - Pilot

Harold Saunders was 26 years old when he died in the crash.  Born circa 1917 to John William Theodore & Marie Saunders.


His Father John had been born in Croydon, England in 1883 and worked his way up through the Merchant Navy qualifying as First Mate, Second mate then as a Master in 1911.


A passenger record in 1933 shows John & Marie sailing from Yokohama to Plymouth in England.  This record states that they had travelled from Penang and were destined for England.  They were travelling with the P&O Steam Navigation Company who shipped Mail, Cargo & Passengers between the UK, Spain, Portugal, Egypt, India the Far East & Australia.   This shows their last country of residence as F.M.S. (Federated Malay States) a country that is mentioned on Harold’s Commonwealth War Graves entry.


Harold appears to have enrolled with the British RAF Volunteer Reserves when he was given the service number 785073


On the 26th February 1943 Harold’s local newspaper where he lived in East Fremantle, Western Australia recorded his death stating he had been killed during air operations.


The Electoral Roll for 1943 shows his parents living at 25 Herbert Street, North Fremantle his father still working as a Mariner, it may be that the family moved to Australia early in the war due to troubles in Malaya


Harold has a street named after him at Pocklington.   ‘Saunders Crescent’ sits at the end of Amos Drive which is the main estate road off West Green.

Flying Officer H Farquharson Ley – Navigator

Henry Farquharson Ley was born on the 29th November 1920 at Ashcombe Cottage, Edenbridge, Kent.  He is detailed on the Commonwealth War Graves website as being the son of Henry & Marguerite Farquharson Ley.   A Search for his parents’ marriage reveals that Mabel Farquharson married Henry Ley or Levy in St Giles in 1914.  The couple had previously had a daughter Isabel on 24th January 1917.


The entry in the 1939 Register shows Marguerite Widowed and working as a Secretary/Book Keeper, she is living at 31 Elmcourt Road, Lambeth, London along with her daughter Isabel who is working as a Ledger Clerk.


Henry Joins the RAF Volunteer Reserves where he is given the Service Number 121554, on the 19th May 1942 he is promoted to the Rank of Sergeant.   By the 19th November of the same year he became a probationary Flying Officer.


Henry was only 22 year old when he died, his will detailed that he lived at 15 Harpenden Road, West Norwood, London.  He left a sum of £75  2s to his mother.


His sister Isabel does not seem to have married and died in 1986 in Surrey she appears to have spent the remainder of her years living at Hydon End, Hambleton.

Sergeant Alvah Wilkie Flansburgh Washbourne - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Alvah Wilkie Flansburgh Washbourne was born circa 1918 in Auckland, New Zealand to Francis Herbert Flansburgh & Katie Isobel Wan.  


Alvah’s father Francis was an American born in Florida in 1880 he moved to New Zealand in 1902 he became a citizen in 1927 and at this time he worked as a Motor Engineer.


Francis married Katie on 3rd November 1910 in Harewa, New Zealand.   It appears that at this point their surname changed from Flansburgh to Flansburgh-Washbourne as all their children bear this surname.   They also had 2 daughters Alva Shirley born 1912 and Loraine Jean born 1920.


It would appear that in about the year 1933 Francis & Katie would divorce, both marrying again.   Katie to Frederick William Bruce in 1934 and Francis to Marjorie Florence Baker in 1936.


However it seems that things might not have been very amicable between Francis & Katie.   After their divorce, Francis now a Company Manager often seemed to miss maintenance payments for his children resulting in warrants being issued for his arrest, he would later appear in court and either have to pay the outstanding monies or serve a period in Jail.


Alvah or ‘Dick’ as he was known to Friends and Family got engaged in March 1941 to Olga Madeline Wilcox of Ponsonby, New Zealand in the same month he lost his father Francis to Myocardial Degeneration. 


Dick undertook his initial training in New Zealand and was given the Service No NZ411796 before departing on board the ship ‘Awatea’ on the 29th April 1941 to Canada.   First he attended No 6 Air Observers School, Saskatchewan graduating on 3rd January 1942 before training at No 3 Bombing & Gunnery School in Manitoba then No 1 Air Navigation School also Manitoba.   From here he would have travelled to Britain to take up his first posting.


Interestingly his sister Loraine signed up serving with the WAAFs (Womens Auxiliary Air Force) during WW2.


Dick was only 24 years old when he died in the crash.  The local papers would report on his death and each member of his family along with his fiancée Olga who had patiently awaited his return would each place a notice in the newspaper detailing their loss.


His mother Katie would live to 89 years old dying in 1974, she is buried in Queenstown Central Cemetery in Otago

Sergeant Michael Norman Reilly – Air Gunner

Michael Norman Reilly was born on the 23rd of July 1922 in Govan, Glasgow to Thomas Reilly & Jessie Ernestina Christie.   His parents had married on the 14th September 1921 in Aberdeen at this time Thomas was a Commercial Traveller and Jessie was a Housekeeper both living in Aberdeen.


3 years later records show that the family have moved to Bridgeton in Glasgow, Thomas has changed his employment and is now working as a Confectioner.   But tragedy would strike on the 6th Sept 1925 when Jessie died of Lobar Pneumonia aged 34 years.


At 3 years old the little red head known by his family as ‘Norman’ would be taken care of by family to allow his father to work, this was a duty carried out by many family members when anyone lost a mother during this time period.


By 1930 his father Thomas had moved to Methil in Fife where he was working as a Colliery Engine Keeper and on the 17h July of that year in Edinburgh he would marry Christina Hutton Reid a Domestic Servant.


Thomas & Christina would go on to have 2 Sons David & Thomas and 2 daughters Margaret & Mary, all half siblings of Norman.


Norman went on to join the Air Training Corps in Leven, Fife and for a time lodged with a Mr & Mrs Alexander Cruickshanks at Methilhaven Road, Methil in Fife.  


It was about February 1942 that he Joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves, was given the Service number 1559119 and trained as an Air Gunner.


He had only carried out about 6 operations with 102 Squadron when this accident happened.  His death certificate states that he died due to war operations, he was just 20 years old.


Norman is commemorated on Methil war memorial and had street names Reilly Way in Barmby Moor & Reilly Mews in Pocklington named in his honour

Methil War Memorial

Sergeant Trevor Charles Coles – Flight Engineer

Trevor Charles Coles was born in 1920 in Cardiff to James Coles & Ada John.  His parents having married in 1911.   They had had sons John in 1912 & Leonard in 1914 before Trevor came along, followed by a daughter Joan in 1926.


Trevor appears to have started his Career working as a porter with Great Western Railways at Cardiff.  But, in January 1936 he is detailed as being a successful candidate having passed the examination for entry into the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice subject to passing the medial exam.  I was unable to find anything that stated if he did or didn’t pass this.


By 1939 his family are staying at Cowbridge Road, Cyntwell, Cardiff.  His Father James is working as a General Labourer/Roadman, Mother Ada is carrying out Domestic Duties and his Brother John Maurice who is a Hotel porter is living there with his wife Dorothy (Harris) and their young son John who is 3 years old.


It seems probable that Trevor may have been drafted into Bomber Command as the War progressed and trained as a Flight Engineer.  His Service number was 569527


Trevor was only 22 years old when he lost his life in the crash. 


Not 6 months after Trevor’s death the family would sadly lose Trevor’s older Brother John Maurice Coles who had been serving as a Gunner with the Royal Artillery (172 Field Regiment) in North Africa, he was 31 years old when he died and was buried in Massicault War Cemetery, Tunisia.

Sergeant Henry Edwin Amos – Air Bomber

Henry Edwin Amos was born in 27th February 1920 in Islington, England to Ernest Lambert Edgar Amos, a Chef & Maud Jubilee Gardner.   His parents had married in 1906 in Islington.


Ernest & Maud raised their young family in Islington and by 1939 were staying at 347 Liverpool Road, Islington.   Henry is still living at home where his occupation is given as an Aircraft Milling Setter.


Records show that he enlisted in the RAF at Oxford sometime after November 1940 and was given the Service No 1320473.


He was 22 years old when he lost his life that day in Yorkshire.


His father died aged 74 in 1958 and his mother lived untill she was 94 years old dying in 1981.


Amos Drive in Pocklington would be named after Henry, it sits just off West Green

Sergeant Brian Hill - 2nd Pilot

Although Brian Hill survived the crash he would sadly lose his life later in the war whilst serving with 355 Squadron.   He was 28 years old  and died on the 2nd May 1945, his service no was 163701 and he is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.

Sergeant Frank Cooper – Air Gunner

Frank Cooper was 20 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of Thomas Francis & Hannah Cooper, & husband of Hazel Cooper, of Dwygyfylchi, Carnarvonshire.    His Service No is 1546822 and he was buried in Swinton Cemetery.

Vickers Wellington II - W5589 - 405 Squadron

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 – 1st 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.

Miles Magister -  L8162 – 405 Squadron

On the 4th April 1942 Squadron Leader (Pilot) John ‘Jack’ McCormack & Flight Lieutenant William Hugh Featherston (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.

Vickers Wellington II – Z8536 – NP-S – 158 Squadron

On the Evening of the 25th & 26th February 1942 the crew of the above aircraft were one of 61 Aircraft from Bomber Command detailed to carry out an operation to bomb Kiel.   On board were: -

F/S RF Robb – RCAF - Pilot

Sgt C Hackney – RCAF – 2nd Pilot

Sgt TH Bennett – RCAF – Air Observer

F/S CHL Brown – RCAF - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Sgt K Winterton – RAFVR - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

W/O NA Morgan RAFVR – Air Gunner


They took off from Pocklington at 1856 hours however their engine caught fire just as the aircraft cleared the airfield.   Shortly after this they jettisoned their bomb load, though due to low altitude the bomber was caught in the blast.    The plane came down at 1900hrs to the north of the airfield close to Yapham village.    All of the crew were killed in the accident.   All of the men with the exception of Sergeants Bennett & Morgan are buried at Barmby Moor.


158 Squadron had been formed in February of 1942 having originally been part of 104 Squadron.   Based at Driffield & equipped with Vickers Wellington II Bombers part of the squadron was sent in October of 1941 to Malta & then Egypt in January 1942.   The remainder of men left at Driffield were subsequently renumbered as 158 Squadron.   As the runways at Driffield were unserviceable they would use Pocklington for the first 3 operations on the 14th & 26th February & the 3rd of March before returning to Driffield.

Flight Sergeant Reginald Francis Robb - Pilot

Reginald was born on the 11th June 1916 in Dunnville, Handimand County, Ontario to Walter Tyrie Robb, a Lawyer & Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Grenville Werner.   Walter & Bessie had previously married on the 18th November 1914 in Toronto.


By 1921 the family are residing at Broad Street, Dunnville, Ontario, Reginald now 4 years old has an older brother John Tyrie Robb, 2 years his senior.    Brothers James Robert & William Ralph Robb would follow in later years.


Reginald would go on to attend Dunnville Public School, Dunnville, Orangeville High & during his time there would become a High School Cadet for a period of 3 years.   He went on to attend the University of Toronto between 1936 & 1939 where he studied English, French, Economics & Psychology & would pass his Arts course with honours.   During the holidays from University he would take on a Temporary job as a truck driver/salesman with Orangeville bottling works before commencing work in February 1940 with the Bata Shoe Company in Orangeville where he worked as Personnel & Wages Clerk, he worked there up until his enlistment.


In his spare time Reginald enjoyed hockey, football, basketball, tennis, golf & swimming.


Reginald enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on the 20th September 1940 at Toronto & was given the Service No R/72335 & rank of Aircraftman 2nd Class.  He is described as 5ft 5 inches tall with brown hair, blue eyes & a fair complexion.


Reginald carried out his initial training at No 2 School in Regina before moving to No 16 Elementary Flying Training School in Edmonton in December 1940 when he trained in a Tiger Moth at this time he was also promoted to Leading Aircraftman.   In January 1941 he moved to MacLeod & No 7 Service Flying Training School


Reginald was promoted to Sergeant in April 1940 & obtained his flying badge on the 15th April.  He left for the UK in May of that year & It wasn’t long before he joined 22 Operational training Unit at Wellesbourne.  He was assigned to 104 Squadron at Driffield in August of 1941 & was promoted to Flight Sergeant in November 1941.


For a few operations Reginald would fly on operations as 2nd pilot before going on to fly as the Captain of his own aircraft.   He would have been one of the men who transferred to the newly formed 158 squadron in February of 1942.


Reginald was 25 years old when he died.   He is commemorated on the War Memorial at Nanton & the Cenotaph in Orangeville.   Robb Street in Pocklington is also named after him.  His father now a Judge would receive his operational wings & certificate


The letters Reginald wrote home to his parents were frank, I suppose it was his way of offloading.  An excerpt of one of them would be used in 2005 as a monument within Alexandra Park, Orangeville during the year of the veteran.


‘A Letter from the Front’

England 1941


Dear Mom & Dad,

It is the knowledge that there are people at home who are depending on you that drives one not only to do his best, but just a little bit more, & it is this spirit that is going to bring a triumphant conclusion to this struggle in which we are presently engaged.

For if we fail then all is lost, not only for ourselves, but for the vast civilized world made up of good people like yourselves.

The sacrifice might be great, but it is dwarfed by the magnificent end to which we are pointing.

Your loving son


Monuments at Alexandra Park, Orangeville - Courtesy of Margaret Rose

Sergeant Charles Hackney – 2nd Pilot

Charles Hackney was born on the 2nd April 1921 in Toronto, York to John Taylor Hackney, a Clerk & Helen Rollo.   John & Helen were both from Dundee in Scotland & had moved overseas him in 1913 & her in 1917.   They married in Toronto on the 25th August 1920.


By 1921 the family along with Charles then 2 months old are living at 685 Gladstone, Parkdale, Toronto.


Charles went on to attend Early Beatty Public School in Toronto.  He then went on to attend the Eastern High School of Commerce between 1935 & 1939 where he studied General Business, Economics & Accounting.   He was also Editor of the School Magazine ‘Eastern Echo’ during his time there.     In his spare time, he enjoyed swimming, bowling, cycling & hiking.


In July 1939 he commenced his 1st job as a Laboratory Assistant with the Drug Trading company in Toronto where he remained until his enlistment.


Like his father who had enlisted with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force during World War one, Charles made the decision to enlist in September 1939 but was initially refused as he failed the medical examination.   He attempted to enlist again on the 5th April 1940 at Toronto & was this time accepted being given the Service No R/72081 & rank of Aircraftman 2nd class.   He was described at this time as being 5 feet 11 inches tall with brown hair & blue eyes.    However, on attending the medical in May 1940 he was declared unfit again but advised to return in 3 months to be rechecked.


Charles was later approved & carried out his initial training at Edmonton before transferring in October 1940 to No 6 Service Flying Training School in Dunnville, Ontario then No 4 Elementary Flying Training School at Windsor Mills in Quebec in the December where he flew Finch Aircraft, at this time he was also promoted to Leading Aircraftman.  In March of 1941 he commenced training at No 9 Service Flying Training School at Summerside where he flew Harvard II aircraft.   By May of 1941 he had completed his Pupils Pilot & Pilots Courses & was promoted to Temporary Sergeant.


He left Canada bound for the UK in June of 1941 & initially trained with No 22 Operational Training unit at Wellesbourne.   Two months later he moved to 104 Squadron & was promoted to Flight Sergeant in December of 1941.    In February 1942 he would move to the newly formed 158 squadron.


Charles was 20 years old when he died in the crash & was flying as a second pilot, probably on a training basis.   He is commemorated on the Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton.  He was awarded the 1939-45-star, Air Crew Europe star, war medal & Canadian volunteer service medal (award & clasp) which were sent onto his father along with his operational wings & certificate.

Flight Sergeant Charles Harold Latshaw Brown – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Image of Charles Brown Courtesy
of 158 Squadron Association

Charles Harold Latshaw Brown was born on the 29th June 1911 in Dundas, Hamilton, Canada to Charles Rosendale Brown, an Accountant & Elizabeth Irene Latshaw.   Charles & Irene had previously married on the 15th June 1910 in Dundas, Ontario.

Sadly, on the 12th August 1912 Irene would pass away aged 23 years, she delivered a still born Son which caused a rupture of her Uterus.   Irene would be buried in Grove Cemetery in Dundas.

By 1921 Charles along with his young son Charles now aged 9 are living at 122 Sandford Ave, Hamilton along with his Aunt Mattie who’s help would have been invaluable given the loss of his mother. 

On the 3rd January 1924 Charles senior would marry Douglas Woodhall Anderson, a Musician & spinster aged 32.    Charles & Douglas would go on to have 2 sons Alan & Howard.

Charles attended the Adelaide Hoodless School before moving on to Delta Collegiate then Canada Business College where he would undertake a business course.   He would also take accountancy training with the International Accountants Association.   In his spare time, he enjoyed shooting, baseball, badminton, hockey & volleyball.

His first job in 1931 would be with Ontario Beauty company in Hamilton where he initially worked in the office before moving to a sales position.

Between 1935 & 1936 Charles would serve with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in Hamilton as a 2nd Lieutenant.

In 1937 Charles would work as a timekeeper before returning to his previous employer Ontario Beauty this time as a stock keeper.

Within a week of World War Two being declared Charles wrote a letter to the National Defence HQ at Ottawa asking to reinstate his commission & offering his services where required.

In June 1940 Charles would enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was given the Service No R/64344 & the rank of Leading Aircraftman.   He is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall with fair hair, blue eyes & a fair complexion.   Given his love of shooting it was no surprise that he would train as a gunner.

He would carry out his initial training at No 2 Training Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan before moving onto No 1 Wireless School in Montreal, Quebec in the August.  Just before Christmas 1940 he moved to Jarvis, Ontario to commence his Bombing & Gunning training.

In January 1941 he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant & was awarded his Gunners badge.   By March he had been transferred to the UK where he joined 12 Operational Training Unit at RAF Benson near Wallingford, Oxford.   In April he moved again, this time to Cranford to train with No 1 Signals School & the following month would transfer to 27 Operational Training Unit at Lichfield before joining 104 Squadron at Driffield, which would later become 158 Squadron.

In September of 1941 he would be promoted to Temporary Flight Sergeant. 

Charles was 30 years of age when he died the report of his death states that he suffered Multiple Injuries & Burns.  He is commemorated on his mother’s gravestone in Grove Cemetery &  the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton.

His father Charles would pass away in 1951 & is buried along with his Step mother at Woodland Cemetery, Hamilton.

Sergeant Keith Winterton – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Keith Winterton was born on the 17th June 1911 in Leicester to George Ernest Winterton, a teacher & Ethel Clarke.   George & Ethel had married in Leicester in 1902.


By the 1911 Census the family along with a daughter Irene aged 7 & a son Paul aged 3 are living at 74 Beaumont Road, Leicester.   George aged 37 is an Organising Secretary with the Police & Citizens Friendly Association.


Keith attended Manley Park Council School & after moving to Surrey at the end of World war One he would then become a scholar at Warlingham Council School where he won a scholarship at Purley County School in Kenley.


In the meantime, his father George had been secretary of the Manchester & Salford District Temperance Union.   He later went on to become a Journalist with the Daily Herald where he worked for 9 years & from 1929 to 1931 was the Labour Member of Parliament for Loughborough.  



By 1932 Keith is working as a Journalist & is travelling with his work to places such as Lisbon, Australia & Buenos Aires.  In fact, passenger records in the mid 1930s show him travelling to Egypt & Australia along with his brother Paul, also a Journalist.


In 1939 Keith is living in Surrey & is not only a Journalist but Assistant Editor.  Although known to hold pacifist opinions before the war, he made the decision to volunteer for the RAF several months before his age group would be called up.


Keith enlisted in the Volunteer Reserves at Uxbridge sometime after September 1939 & was given the Service No 933433, after a period of initial training along with Wireless Operator & Gunnery training, he joined 22 Operational Training Unit at Wellesbourne.


In October 1944 he joined 104 squadron which would later become 158 Squadron.   He would be promoted to the rank of Sergeant.


In the meantime, his brother Paul would be sent to Moscow from 1942 to 1945 where he was the correspondent for the BBCs Overseas Service.


Keith was 30 years old when he died, his obituary records that he had a frank & open nature & that his loss would be deplored by his large circle of friends.   His parents had been glad to have spent some time with him at their new residence in Chichester during his leave a month before his death.   He is commemorated on the memorial at Purley County School.


Sadly, in May of the same year his father would pass away following a surgical procedure.   His mother Ethel would pass away at the end of the following year 1943.   


It is sad to think that Paul would lose both his parents & a brother during his time in Moscow!   On his return he turned to writing crime & mystery books publishing under the pseudonyms of Andrew Garve, Roger Bax & Paul Somers.  He would also be a founder member of the Crime Writers Association & its first joint secretary.   He died in 2001.

Images of Purley Grammar School Roll of Honour Courtesy
of Nick Peaty

Warrant Officer 2nd Class - Thomas Herbert Bennett – Air Observer

Thomas joined the Royal Canadian Air Force & was given the Service No R/58098, he was 21 years old when he died & was the son of Thomas & Kate Florence Bennett of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.   He is buried in Shepshed Cemetery, Leicestershire.

Sergeant Norman Anthony Morgan – Air Gunner

Norman joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 742728, he was 22 years old when he died & was the son of Ralph Charles & Florence Alice Augusta Morgan of Gloucester, England.  He is buried in Gloucester Old Cemetery.

Handley Page Halifax II – JB848 – DY-G – 102 Squadron

At about 2158hrs hrs on the 29th March 1943 the above aircraft took off from RAF Pocklington along with 9 other aircraft to take part in an operation to attack Berlin.

On board were: -

W/O 2nd Class WP Comrie - Pilot

Sgt WJ McGrath – Flight Engineer

F/O DWF Harper - Navigator

F/O WH Jenkins – Bomb Aimer

Sgt FW Dorrington – Wireless Operator

Sgt J King – Air Gunner

Sgt MCC Squiers – Air Gunner


It was reported that on take-off they tried to avoid another aircraft from RAF Melbourne, but that they stalled & crashed at 2200hrs at West Green, near to the airfield.  The Aircraft burnt out & all of the crew were killed in the accident.


Sergeants Comrie, Squiers & Pilot Officer Harper were all buried at Barmby Moor on the 3rd April 1943.


The Aircraft was relatively new & had only been delivered to the squadron a within a month of the accident.

From left to Right Sgts Squiers, Harper, Comrie, Dorrington & Jenkins

Later Recovery of parts from the Aircraft & the ‘G’ George Memorial

In 2014 whilst the location of the crash was being excavated to build a new Doctors Surgery, a Merlin Engine & various other aircraft parts from this aircraft were uncovered.


The engine was removed & cleaned up & restored before it was installed as a memorial to the crew.  This was unveiled on the 9th May 2015 & sits in the rear garden of the Doctors Surgery at the Beckside Centre in West Green, Pocklington.

Images of the Memorial at Pocklington

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Wilfred Phelps Comrie – Pilot

Wilfred Phelps Comrie was born on the 8th July 1915 in Fargo, North Dakota, USA to Edward Phelps Comrie, a Mechanic & Emelie Mildred Bosquett & would be known to his family & friends as ‘Bill’.   Edward & Emilie had previously married on the 16th November 1912 at Otter Tail, Minnesota.


A sister Virginia had been in about 1913 & a younger sister Marcia in 1919 & the family lived in Cass, Fargo, North Dakota.  As children they were lucky enough to live next door to their paternal grandparents for the early part of their lives.


Bill went on to attend Fargo Grade School before moving to Fargo High in 1934.  He attended College for a period of 1 year taking a course in Mechanical Engineering & on completion of this moved to Technical School which he left in 1941 to join the Air Force.


Even whilst studying he managed to fit in time to work as a Service Station attendant, then later a clerk.


In his spare-time he enjoyed Wood Carving, Hockey, Football, Boxing & Skiing & even had 65 hours solo flying experience under his belt.  He is described as 5 feet 7 inches with dark brown hair, blue eyes & a dark complexion.


Bill enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force at Manitoba on the 11th March 1941 & was given the Service no R/95452 & rank Aircraftman 2nd Class.


He carried out his initial training at No 1 training school at Eglinton, Toronto between July & August of 1941 & on completion was promoted to Leading Aircraftman.   The recommendation was for him to train as a Pilot or a as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.


From Toronto he moved to No 12 Elementary Flying Training school at Goderich, Ontario which he completed at the end of September.  His instructor at this stage advised that he was interested in flying & that his flying was consistently good.


He next attended No 5 Service Flying Training School in Brantford, Ontario, completing his training there on the 19th December when he was awarded his pilots flying badge & was promoted to Temporary Sergeant.   The report from the training school states that he was a high/average student in all phases of training & should make a good service pilot.  He was however a poor student when it came to ground training relating to navigation & armament.


In January 1942 Bill left for the UK & would go on to join No 1 Gliding Training unit at RAF Thame.


A report exists that whilst serving at RAF Thame on the 8th March 1942 Bill was piloting a Hotspur Glider BT639 as 2nd pilot to Sgt Ogilvie.  They intended to make a cross country flight & report that the tow rope was released at the tug end necessitating a forced landing.   Bill turned to the right to land down wind & made a crash landing, receiving a slight injury to his back which on examination was reported as a strain injury in the pelvis area.


In June of 1942 Bill was promoted to Temporary Flight Sergeant.


In August of 1942 he moved to No 3 Advanced Flying Unit before moving to No 10 Operational Training unit in the October.  In December he was again promoted, this time to Temporary Warrant Officer 2nd Class.


He married Grace Belshaw in West Kirkby on the 2nd January 1943.


He then moved to 1652 Heavy conversion unit at Marston Moor in February 1943 where he received training in heavy Halifax bombers.


He moved to 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington on the 8th March 1943, just 3 weeks later he would lose his life.


Bill was 27 years old when he died in the accident, his death notification states that he died of multiple injuries & burns.  He was awarded the 39-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal, War Medal & the Canadian Voluntary Service Medal (Award & Clasp).   Comrie Drive in Pocklington is named in his honour.  He is also named on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton.

Flying Officer Douglas William Francis Harper – Navigator

Douglas William Francis Harper was born in 1922 in Wolverhampton to William Francis Harper & Rosina Bowns or Davies.   William & Rosina married the previous year in Newport.


Rosina had previously married Benjamin Davies in Newport in 1906.


A younger brother Stephen followed Douglas in 1924 & his birth is registered in Newport.


On completion of School, Douglas went on to work as an Optical Lens Tester & by 1939 the family are living at Walcott, Leicester Road in Oadby.   Although his mother Rosina is noted as married his father William does not appear to be living with the family.



Douglas joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 127313.  


On the 31st January 1943 he was promoted to Flying Officer.  He was only 22 years old when he died in the crash.   Harper Close in Pocklington would be named in his honour & he is remembered on the War Memorials at Oadby & St Peters Church

St Peters Church Memorial Courtesy of Jan Bryars - Oadby - Remembering the Past Group

Sergeant Myles Christian Campbell Squiers – Air Gunner

Myles Christian Campbell Squiers was born on the 19th June 1923 in Kenya to Herbert Goldsmith Squiers & Ethel Marguerite Kennedy.   Herbert & Ethel had previously married in Ulverston in the Lake District (Ethels home town) in 1916.


Herbert was an American Citizen born in New York & named after his father also Herbert Goldsmith Squiers.   His father was a prominent figure who had been a US Diplomat, a Minister for Cuba between 1902 & 1905 & a Second Lieutenant in the US Army.   For a lot of his life the young Herbert had lived abroad with his sister.


Ethel had been born & grown up in the Picturesque Lake District in England & was the daughter of Myles Kennedy a Justice of the Peace & local Mine Owner.


After their marriage both of them apply for passports their address at this time is the Farmers Loan & Trust Company, 15 Cockspur Street, London. Their first son Herbert was born in the UK in 1917 & Myles then a younger son Arthur followed about 1924.


From documents found the family seemed to have moved to America before settling a few years later in Kenya where they lived at Aratoma Lodge in Gilgil.  In the years that followed they travel back & forth between Africa, New York & the UK visiting family.


Myles enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves at Padgate sometime after April 1941 & was given the Service No 1478651


Sadly, on the 25th September 1941 Myles father Herbert would pass away with Shock following Scalds at the Hospital in Nairobi he was buried at Forest Cemetery in Nairobi, Kenya.


Myles was 20 years old when he died in the crash & was not far off his 21st Birthday.  His probate shows that he gave his address as Stone Cross, Ulverston (the home his mother had grown up in) & left his estate to Retired Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred Kennedy, his uncle.

The Squires in Pocklington is named in his honour, albeit there seems to be a variation in the spelling.


On the 28th January 1949 after a long illness his mother Ethel would pass away in Nairobi where she would be buried, she is also named on the family grave at Ulverston

Sergeant William J. McGrath – Flight Engineer

William McGrath was 23 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of James & Mary McGrath of Glasgow.    He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1365664, he is buried in St Peters Cemetery, Glasgow

Flying Officer William Hugh Jenkins – Bomb Aimer

William Hugh Jenkins was 34 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of Edgar George & Jessie Mabel Jenkins & Husband of Freda Jenkins of Streetly in the West Midlands.  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 129161, he is commemorated at Perry Bar Crematorium in Birmingham.

Sergeant Frank William Dorrington – Wireless Operator

Frank William Dorrington was 23 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of Henry & Alice Dorrington, of Brighton.  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1330802, he is buried at The Downs Cemetery in Brighton.

Sergeant John King – Air Gunner

John King was 21 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of James George & May Lilian King of Poplar in London.    He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1609738, he is buried in East London Cemetery, Plaistow.

Handley Page Halifax II – W1228 – MP-A – 76 Squadron

On the evening of the 8th September 1942 this crew based at RAF Middleton St. George took off at 1958hrs & were one of 249 Aircraft detailed to take part in an Operation to Frankfurt.


On board were:-

F/S JE Nicholson - Pilot

Sgt JT Murray – Flight Engineer

P/O A Robson - Observer

W/O AN Thompson - Pilot

Sgt LG Harvey – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

F/S RL Stevens - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Sgt CR Rundle – Air Gunner


At 2018hrs the Aircraft crashed at Haltby, East of York due to premature ignition of the photo flash.   In the last few seconds of flight an explosion occurred whilst the aircraft was at 500 feet & with a full bomb load on board the aircraft exploded resulting in the wreckage being spread over a wide area.


Follow an inquiry to examine the cause of the crash, it was later recommended that the practice of putting the photo flash flare in the bomb bay should be discontinued.


Following manufacture, the Aircraft had previously been issued to 78 squadron in July or August of 1942 & was later transferred to 76 Squadron.

Flight Sergeant John Eric Nicholson – Pilot

John Eric Nicholson was born in Chorlton in 1914 to Percy Nicholson, a Motor Fitter & Edith Blackwood, Percy & Edith had previously married in Chorlton, Lancashire in 1914.


A sister Edith would follow in 1920 & a brother Percy in 1922.

John would go on to study at Manchester University & graduated with a B.A., M.Ed. (Batchelor of Arts, Master of Education).

On completion of his education he went on to become a Geography Master at Ladybarn Senior Boys School.

John would sadly lose his father in April of 1935 aged 46 years & would continue to live with his mother & siblings at 18 Highbank Drive, East Didsbury whilst working at the Boys School which was not too far away.

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer reserves in 1940 & was given the Service No 1023368.    In July of 1940 in Barnsley, Yorkshire he married Matilda Grace Newth, an Assistant Science Teacher at a Secondary School in Loughborough.

During the war Matilda would go on to work as a Radiographer at Christie Hospital in Manchester.

John was 28 years old when he died in the crash, he left his effects to his widow Matilda.   He is remembered on the war memorial at Manchester University & Nicholson Court in Pocklington is named in his honour.

Sergeant John Taylor Murray – Flight Engineer

At this stage not much is known about John Taylor Murray other than he was born circa 1916


He joined the Royal Air Force & was given the Service No 536790.


He was only 26 years old when he died in the crash & Murray Close in Pocklington would be named in his honour.


Documents are awaited which may shed more light on where John came from.

Sergeant Cecil Richard Rundle – Air Gunner

Cecil was born on the 2nd March 1912 in Ghanzi, Ngamiland, Botswana.  To Frank Wallis Rundle, a Trader & Maria Petronella van Niekerk.


Brothers Wallis Daniel followed in 1914 & Eric Bernard in 1916.   All of the boys were baptised at Kimberley, St Cyprian, South Africa on the 13th March 1917.  A Sister Margaret Irene followed in 1919 & was also baptised in Kimberley.


Sadly, on the 8th July 1926 Frank would pass away at Victoria Hospital in Mafeking from Burns & Shock, leaving Maria to look after their young family.


At some point Maria moved with the family to Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe.  


Cecil went on to work as a Handyman, living & working at Windsor Estate, Bulawayo.


Sometime after June 1940 Cecil enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteers in Rhodesia & was given the Service No 778696.  


From May of 1940 the RAF had a presence in Rhodesia where the RATG (Rhodesian Air Training Group) trained aircrew for the RAF.  This included men from Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, USA, New Zealand, France, Czechoslovakia & many other countries & including locals from Rhodesia.  Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris had moved to Rhodesia as a teenager, worked there & served during WW1, so was keen for Aircrew to be trained in Rhodesia due to delays in launching the Commonwealth Air Training in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Canada.


Cecil was 31 years old when he died & Rundle Court in Pocklington would be named in his honour.


At the time of his death his father Frank was already deceased & is mother Maria was living at Queens Mine, Bulawayo a small village which was formed around a Gold Mine.

Pilot Officer Arnold Robson - Observer

Arnold Robson joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 123276.   He was 26 years old when he died in the Crash.   He was the son of William B & Laura Robson of Howden-le-Wear, Durham & is buried at St Marys Churchyard in Howden-le-Wear.

Warrant Officer Alfred Norman Thompson - Pilot

Alfred Norman Thompson joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 902444.   He was 22 years old when he died in the Crash.   He was the son of Alfred John & Mary Elizabeth Thompson of Hornsey, North London & is buried in Tottenham Cemetery.

Sergeant Laurence George Harvey – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Laurence George Harvey joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1256530.   He was 22 years old when he died in the Crash.   He was the son of George Alfred & Daisy Maude Harvey of Dagenham, East London & is buried at Eastbookend Cemetery in Dagenham.

Flight Sergeant Ronald Leonard Stevens - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Ronald Leonard Stevens joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1182379.   He was only 20 years old when he died in the Crash.   He was the son of William Joseph & Florence Maud Stevens of Morden, London & is buried at Morden Cemetery.

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Oadby Memorial Courtesy David Collins

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