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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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443 squadron badge
443 Squadron Spitfire IX ML303 F/O. William John Bentley

Operation: Armed Recce

Date: 12th August 1944 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 443 Squadron (RCAF) (motto: 'Our sting is death')

Type: Spitfire LFIX

Serial: ML303

Code: 21-?

Base: Bazenville Airfield (Crepon) France.

Location: 5 miles North East of Bernay, France.

Pilot: F/O. William John Bentley J/189228 (R/12780) RCAF Age 24, Killed


F/O. Bentley was flying as Red 2 to Sq/Ldr. Henry Wallace McLeod DFC. DSO. J/4912 on an armed xioect: in the Evreux area.

While pulling up from a strafing attack: Red 5 reported that F/O. Bentley's aircraft was streaming glycol.

Sq/Ldr. McLeod, ordered him to set course for base and flew alongside to examine the aircraft. He observed a small stream of glycol flowing from the starboard radiator. F/O.Bentley reported glycol temperature up to 120 and slowed down to 160 ASI. Glycol temperature then went down to 60, but oil temperature rose rapidly. Flames were seen coming from exhausts. Sq/Ldr. McLeod then ordered him to bale out. F/O. Bentleyy attempted to bale out but appeared to be stuck in the cockpit and the aircraft went in from 200ft. exploding on impact.

The MREU (missing research and enquiry unit) No. 6 section visited the cemetery at Favril on the 17th January 1946 to locate his grave.

'The Deputy Mayor, Monsieur Truchard, was interviewed and he explained that this fighter type aircraft had been hit by flak some distance away and had crashed on the territory of the village on the 12th August, 1944 at 13:00 hrs. The Pilot fell clear of the wreckage and on the body, Truchard, found some papers marked with the name 'Bentley' and the number '80828'. We visited the crash site of the Spitfire but it was too badly damaged to obtain the serial number. Truchard was informed that this pilot was dressed in khaki and that when the village was liberated, he handed the papers to some British troops who were passing through.

This unregistered grave is being reported to the Graves Registration Unit. Upon receipt of the above report, the Air Ministry, under reference P.421564/P.4.4. Missing report 7th November, 1945, informed No. 3. Mobile Section, that the above report referred to F/O. Bentley and gave details of his last mission, as given on Circumstantial Report in this case, also informing that the Director of Craves Registration and Enquiries would he advised'.

Above: St. Valery-en Caux Franco-British Cemetery as photographed by our own Kate Tame durine her visit in 2012. Any relative who would like a higher resolution of these please contact us and we will send you one free of charge.

Burial Details:

Initially buried at Le Favril cemetery. The grave carefully maintained by the local residents. Reburied in 1947.

The grave was marked with a plaque and when translated reads 'Offered by a group of Patriots a ce glorieux pilot who died for our Liberation'.

F/O. William John Bentley. St. Valery-en Caux Franco-British Cemetery. Grave B.10. Born on the 04th February 1920 in Toronto, Canada. Worked as a butcher for his father prior to enlistment. Enlisted on the 09th November 1940.

Son of William Henry (died 1974, age 80) who also served in the RCAF during WW2 and Esther Bentley (néw Brassey - died 1965, age 60), brother of Dorothy Hazel, Beryl Shirley and Elizabeth June, of 5195 Yong Street, Willowdale, Ontario, Canada. Also served in 152, 249 (Malta 1942) and 65 squadron. At 57 Operational Training Unit as an instructor. He had a total of 582 hours flying experience, 475 on the Spitfire. Epitaph: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Him'.

Researched for relatives of the pilot. With thanks to the following for further information supplied, Les Allison and Harry Hayward - 'They Shall Grow Not Old', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses' Vol. 3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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