05.11.1943 No 227 Squadron Beaufighter JL939 9G F/O. Yurchison loss report
Operation: Offensive sweep - Rhodes Island
Date: 5th November 1943 (Friday)
Unit: 227 Squadron
Type: Bristol Beaufighter
Serial: JL 939
Location: North of Rhodes
Pilot: F/O. William Yurchison J/14697 RCAF Age 23. Killed (1)
Observer: F/O. Percival Morris Wroath 130310 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Reason for loss:
At the time of this loss 227 Squadron had moved from Luqa in Malta to Cyprus from: 23rd September 1943 to 31st November 1943. They were based at Lakatamia south west of Nicosia.
Took off from Lakatamia, Cyprus at 07.30hrs, weather - fine. At 08.58 hrs at sea level, Castelrosso, set course for North of Rhodes. At 09.50hrs, 3550N, 280SE, sighted 4 X Me.109's approaching on a southerly course at 2000ft. Our aircraft turned East and opened throttles, taking violent evasive action, Me109's, upon seeing our aircraft, jettisoned long range fuel tanks and turned into attack. Following as seen by aircraft JP908P:- Aircraft JL900S was attacked by one Me109, port engine caught fire. Aircraft JL900S then seemed to ditch in position 3550N, 2820E - but then cloud of black smoke arose from the position.
Aircraft SL478F was attacked by 1 x Me109 several times and last seen with fuselage on fire under pilot. A large splash was seen as aircraft hit the water. Aircraft JL939G was attacked by 1 x Me109 several times and crashed into the sea (blaze and pall of smoke seen as aircraft hit the water. JM276C was attacked by 1 x Me109 and was last seen heading South, still being chased.
All the Me109's mentioned in this sortie closed to 50 yards. Aircraft JP908P was attacked twice from astern by 1 x Me109 which opened fire at 600 yards and closed to 400 yards. In each case breaking away on to Aircraft BL478F. Aircraft JP908P drew away and set course for base and landed safely. No strikes were sustained by Aircraft JP908P. Flying time for 2 of the aircraft 5 hours, 47 minutes.
F/O. William Yurchison on the left with his observer F/O. Percival Morris Wroath
F/O. William Yurchison 2nd from the right.
JL900S:- Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Passmore Tremlett 60298 RAFVR Age 31. Killed. Observer: Fl/Sgt. Robert Ewing Jobling 161243 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
JP908P:- Pilot: P/O. A.C. Sibbard Survived. Observer: Sgt. B.H.L. Blake Survived
BL301Y:- Pilot: F/O. Richard Balmain Hutchison J/21234 RCAF Age 26. Survived but later killed on 23.01.1944. Observer: Sgt. Leslie Sawle 1080661 RAFVR Age 22. Survived but later killed on 23.01.1944.
JW276C:- Pilot: F/O. Paul Apollon Mazur J/20699 RCAF Killed (2). Observer: F/O. Kenneth Stakes 135046 RAFVR Age 21. Killed.
JL939G:- Pilot: F/O. William Yurchison J/14697 RCAF Age 23. Killed (1). Observer: F/O. Percival Morris Wroath130310 RAFVR Age 22. Killed.
BL478F:- Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Swift 161315 RAFVR Age 22. Killed. Observer:Fl/Sgt. George Frederick Austin 1314198 RAFVR Age 31. Killed.
F/O. William Yurchison shown on the left in the early stages of his training and on the right after receiving the "Wings of Merit" trophy as the student with the highest marks at the training school.
A follow up sortie took place in order to try and recover any of the lost aircrews:
Date: 5th November 1943
Aircraft Serial No: JM268N
Pilot: F/Lt. W.R. Kemp
Observer: F/O. C. Wyles
Duty: Search for missing Aircrews
Take off time: 18.55hrs
Weather: Hazy. Visibility 15-20 miles
Details of Sortie:
Took off at 18.55 and returned at 22.45 after a search for the missing crews.
Commenced search of area bounded by 3530N, 2820E. 3550N, 2745E. 3610N, 2815E. 3610N, 2836E. In position 3604N, 2807E, a searchlight was switched on due east at deck level. Shortly afterwards a reddish orange glow was seen in the sky over the island. It was seen again half a dozen times during the search. (In different positions).
On two occasions 2 red glows were seen travelling on a similar course but too far apart to be from 1 aircraft. They were obviously airborne and from aircraft which seemed to be searching area and at one time chasing our aircraft. These glows could not possibly be confused with navigation lights. They became quite bright and then died out gradually. Aircraft landed safely.
On the 30th October 1943 F/O. William Yurchison shot a JU88 down and another Ju88 was seen to be in difficulties following this combat.
Beaufighter IC flying off from Luqa when 227 squadron were stationed there.
The inverted wreck of an unidentified Bristol Beaufighter, somewhere in the Mediterranean, broken in half this main wing and cockpit section, exposing the four 20mm cannon armament and cannon blast tubes at the nose end. One of the thousands of aircraft that still litter the sea beds around the world, silent memorials to those airmen still missing, who were lost at sea.
F/O. William Yurchison. Alamein Memorial. Column 271. Pelly, Saskatchewan, Canada.
F/O. Percival Morris Wroath. Alamein Memorial. Column 260. Mr. J. Wroath, 49, East Dean Road, Eastbourne, England.
(1) Yurchison Lake in Saskatchewan is named after F/O. Yurchison
(2) Mazur Lake in Ontario is named after F/O. Mazur
Burial details: (other crews)
Fl/Lt. John Passmore Tremlett. Alamein Memorial. Column 227. Son of Henry W. and Marie M. Tremlett, of Clifton Hampden, Oxfordshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Robert Ewing Jobling. Alamein Memorial. Column 269. Son of Joseph Jobling, and of Elizabeth Shepherd Jobling, of Whitley Bay, Northumberland, England.
F/O. Richard Balmain Hutchison. Alamein Memorial. Column 281. Son of William P. and Cherry O. Hutchison of Springfield, Ohio, USA.
Sgt. Leslie Sawle. Alamein Memorial. Column 280. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Sawle, of Sheffield, England.
F/O. Paul Apollon Mazur. Alamein Memorial. Column 271. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Epont Mazur of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
F.O. Kenneth Stakes. Alamein Memorial. Column 269. Son of John and Mary Ann Stakes, of Heckmondwike, Yorkshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Swift. Alamein Memorial. Column 269. Son of John Alexander Swift and Alice Mabel Swift, of Hathern, Leicestershire, England.
Sgt. George Frederick Austin. Alamein Memorial. Column 269. No further details at present.
With thanks to Mary Wold (Niece of F/O. William Yurchison) for contacting us and supplying some of the pictures and also to Agnes Modrzejewska for her great research work at the PRO.