09.03.1942 137 Squadron Whirlwind I P7036 Plt Off. De-Shane
Date: 9th March 1942 (Monday)
Unit No: 137 Squadron
Type: Westland Whirlwind I
Base: RAF Matlaske, Norfolk.
Location: White Horse Common, North Walsham, Norfolk
Pilot: Plt Off. Charles Wilbert De-Shane J15148 RCAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the morning of the 9th March 1942 three Whirlwinds took off from RAF Matlaske to perform practice (cine gun) ground attack training. One of them was P7036 being flown by Plt Off. De-Shane. Around the same time three Spitfires from 19 Sqn had taken off from RAF Ludham to perform an air-to-air cine gun practice. By 10:00 hrs both flights of aircraft were nearing the end of their exercises and were heading back to their respective bases. The Spitfires were at about 2000 feet and in a slight climb. The Whirlwinds were at about 3500 feet with one aircraft behind and slightly above the other two. This was Plt Off. De-Shane's aircraft.
Above: A Whirlwind I from 137 Sqn on the dispersal
It appears that having spotted the Spitfires, Plt Off. De-Shane decided to carry out a mock attack on them. He turned his aircraft to port and began to descend, steepening the turn as he did so. The aircraft then entered a fairly flat spin, from which it did not recover, before impacting the ground and immediately catching fire at White Horse Common near North Walsham. The other Whirlwinds had not seen the crash, but the Spitfires immediately reported it and were ordered to circle the crash site. The leader of the Spitfire flight Plt Off. Halford saw a crowd of onlookers forming near the burning aircraft and, realising the potential danger to them from exploding ammunition, dived down in an attempt to get the crowd to move away which they did after a few minutes.
Plt Off. Halford provided a written statement to the board of inquiry and this was corroborated by a written account from Plt Off. Round who had been flying as Red 2 in the Spitfire flight. Plt Off. Round further stated “Never at any time did any pilot of Red Section engage this Whirlwind in any manner at all”.
Note: Plt Off. Halford is believed to be Plt Off. John Rosher Stirling Halford DFC 102147, RAFVR. He was awarded the DFC whilst with 274 Sqn. London Gazette 27th October 1944. Citation: "Flight Lieutenant Halford is an energetic and fearless leader who has completed a very large number of operations with gallantry and determination. Among his successes is the destruction of 4 enemy aircraft".
Note: Plt Off. Round is believed to have been Fg Off. Reginald Pearson Round 41360 RNZAF, who was KiA in the defence of Malta flying Spitfire Vb EN976 with 249 Sqn on the 25th August 1942.
During this initial training at No.1 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) Plt Off. De-Shane was assessed as an average pilot, but rated weak in both aerobatics and instrument flying. The had just 46 hours on the Whirlwind out of a total 260 hours of solo flying.
Above Scottow Cemetery - visited by Aircrew Remembered in May 2013 (Anyone who wishes a large size copy of either the grave or Cemetery we would be pleased to email you a copy free of charge
Plt Off. Charles Wilbert De-Shane. Scottow Cemetery, Norfolk. Grave 264. Inscription: 'IN LIFE LOVED AND HONORED, IN DEATH REMEMBERED'. Born on the 25th November 1921 in Oshawa, Ontario. Youngest child of Joseph (predeceased him in 1922) and Florence (née Lannin) De-Shane, of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Prior to WW2 Charles had been a ledger keeper at the Royal Bank in Guelph. He enlisted in the RCAF on the 16th October 1940 in Hamilton. Selected for pilot training he learned to fly at No.1 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS), Windsor Ontario on the Fleet Finch. He then continued his training on the Harvard and Yale at No.7 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), Camp Borden, being awarded his Pilot’s Wings on 30th July 1941.
He sailed for England at the beginning of August 1941 arriving at No.3 Personnl Reception Centre (PRC) before being posted to 56 Operational Training Unit (OTU) Sutton Bridge on 16th September 1941. He was then posted to 137 Sqn at Matlaske on the 3rd November 1941. He was granted a commission and promoted to Pilot Officer with effect from 14th January 1942.
Originally researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to relatives of the pilot. With thanks to the following for further information supplied, Les Allison and Harry Hayward - 'They Shall Grow Not Old'. (May 2013). Many thanks to John Allan for providing his research into this pilot and the circumstances of the loss of the aircraft (Jan 2023) .
Other Sources listed below: