16.04.1945 No. 432 Squadron Halifax VII NP805 QO-J, F/O. William H. Porritt
Operation: Air Test
Date: 16th April 1945 (Monday)
Unit: 432 Squadron (RCAF)
Type: Halifax VII
Base: RAF East Moor
Location: East Moor, Yorkshire, England.
Pilot: F/O. William Howard Porritt J/86081 RCAF Age 25. Killed.
Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt Kenneth McEwen Davidson R/288750 RCAF Injured
Nav: F/O John Henry Burns J/43596 RCAF Injured
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt Edward Cohen R/183422 RCAF Injured
Air/Bmr: F/O William Murray Reid J/40936 RCAF Injured
Air/Gnr: F/O. Leonard Raymond Jorgenson J/46220 RCAF Injured
Air/Gnr: F/O James Percy Grey J/45212 RCAF Injured
LAC. Joseph Donat Marcel Bedard R/177118 RCAF Age 20. Killed.
LAC. Regis Fernand Charbonneau R/268734 RCAF Age 19. Killed.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took-Off at 12:10 from East Moor, possibly with control locks still in place. At high speed the Halifax careered off the runway and crashed into trees, bursting into flames.
Eye witness, F/O. Len Jorgenson of Morris, Manitoba provided the following account:
‘The Halifax was taking off from RCAF Station East Moor at noon, for a X-country flight prior to operations that night and had a full gas load of 1400 gallons but no bombs. At the end of the runway there was a low semi-flat roofed building (Picket Post) where LAC. Charbonneau and LAC. Beddard were sunbathing in the spring sunshine and watching the take-offs.
The aircraft was barely airborne when the pilot yelled that the rudders and controls were locked and to prepare for a crash. The under carriage hit the building killing the two LACs, the Halifax crashed and burst into flames.
F/O. Porritt was killed, but the rest of the crew got out with various grades of injury. Fl/Sgt. Kenneth McEwan Davidson R/288750 RCAF spent the following two years in hospital, so serious were his injuries. I think a few of us have nightmares over that one. I also wonder why the controls were frozen. Most controls on the aircraft had V shaped pieces of wood with red flags inserted to prevent the control surfaces from flapping in the wind.
Did we forget to take out these inserts or were they taken off by someone?... Fl/Sgt. Davidson the Flight Engineer, was thrown to the front of the aircraft in the crash. Through the flames he saw the pilot was buckled up and either unconscious or dead. Davidson tried to pull him out but he was stuck, and the flames were burning him severely.’
F/O. William Howard Porritt. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. H. Row J. Grave 15. Born on 16th March 1920 the son of Howard Clifford Merril Porritt and Ethel Blanche Porritt (née Miller) of Cookstown, Ontario, Canada.
LAC. Joseph Donat Marcel Bedard. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. H. Row J. Grave 13. Son of Emile and Gabrielle Bedard of Lac aux Sables, Portneufco, Province of Quebec, Canada.
LAC. Regis Fernand Charbonneau. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. H. Row J. Grave 14. Born on 11th January 1926, the son of Emile and Irena Charbonneau (née Caron) of St. Augustin des deux Montagnes, Province of Quebec, Canada.
Researched for relatives of those killed. With thanks to David Baxter for sending in the crew photos, November 2015. Other sources as quoted below.