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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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248 Squadron Mosquito FB. VI HR284 P/O. William Denzil Livock

Operation: Training

Date: 21st December 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 248 Squadron (motto: l faut en finir - 'It is necessary to make an end of it'). Coastal Command

RAF Banff

Type: Mosquito FB. VI

Serial: HR284

Code: DM-?

Base: RAF Banff, Aberdeenshire

Location: North Sea

Pilot: P/O. William Denzil Livock 189053 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Godfrey Lawrence West 1322625 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed


During a training exercise to RAF Lossiemouth they lost an engine. The pilot was forced to attempt to land but the aircraft pulled out of a dive too quickly, stalled and flipped over onto back and crashed into sea one mile north of Covesea Skerries, Lossiemouth.

Neither of the crew bodies was recovered.

248 Squadron was re-equipped with the de Havilland Mosquito VI. Its main task was fighter reconnaissance over the Channel and along the French coast in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. 248 Squadron was one of the first Coastal Command squadrons to be equipped with the Mosquito. Being made from wood and powered by twin Merlin engines it could reach speeds of almost 400 mph which, until late in the war, was faster than German fighters. The ’Mossie’ was armed with four cannons, eight machine guns, rockets and bombs. It was very manoeuvrable and popular with its crews. The Mosquito became famous for long-range, high-speed incursions into enemy-occupied territory; pathfinding for bombing raids and raids on specific buildings or shipping.

At the beginning of 1944 Coastal Command had at its disposal eight Beaufighter squadrons and two Mosquito squadrons, a total of 600 aircraft. By the spring of the year, German U-boats were withdrawn from the Atlantic to prepare for an invasion of France which they suspected was coming. The first schnorkel-equipped U-boat, U539, came into service which meant that it could run its diesel engines whilst remaining submerged thus making it much harder to detect.

Burial details:

P/O. William Denzil Livock. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 211. Trained at No. 37 Service Flying Training School in Calgary, Canada. Son of Gp/Cpt. Gerald Edward Livock, DFC. AFC, (Born 11th July 1897 - died 27th January 1989, age 92) and Florance Livock, of Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Godfrey Lawrence West. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 223. Son of Alfred Lawrence West and Mary Elizabeth Lawrence West, of Croydon, Surrey, England.

The following was written by Archie Pennie regarding the loss of his dear friend Bill Livock (Courtesy Vintage Wings of Canada)

Left: Archie Pennie (Courtesy Vintage Wings of Canada - see link below)

Some of my interest in aviation history has spread abroad and I have recently heard from a correspondent from my old home town of Elgin in Scotland. In August 2002, he sent me a clipping from his local paper, reporting that a team of amateur salvagers had recovered parts of a Mosquito that had crashed into the sea about a quarter of a mile from Lossiemouth on the 21st December 1944. The team of enthusiasts hope to generate enough interest to erect a suitable memorial to honour the many aircrew from the Banff Strike Force who lost their lives operating from that base. Their wish would be to incorporate the salvaged propeller into the memorial.

(Webmaster note: We have not been able to find any record of a memorial to date)

The information about the salvage struck a chord with me for the pilot of the Mossie had been one of my closest friends all through my aircrew training. Despite the fact that the crash occurred over 58 years ago, the news made me feel as if it had been yesterday. Bill Livock, the unfortunate pilot, was trying to make a single-engine landing at Lossiemouth and lost control. No doubt, with low speed and the violent torque from the other engine, he was turned over on his back and into the sea. He was one of several of my close friends who suffered the same tragic fate in Mossies under similar circumstance

I remember clearly my associations with Bill at No. 37 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) in Calgary. He was what one would call a ‘daring type,’ and never ceased to regale us in the crew room with the strange and frightening frills he added to our more mundane aerobatics. On one occasion he was on an armament exercise with an instructor who asked Bill to make a ‘small turn’ (this is not a phrase found in the instructor’s handbook). Bill interpreted it as a ‘stall turn’ and proceeded to scare the daylights out of the instructor. Needless to say, they never flew together again, but Bill saw the funny side of it and enjoyed talking about that particular adventure.

For some obscure reason, pupils on Harvards at SFTS were never allowed to have another student as a passenger. At Calgary, the local inhabitants apparently objected to the snarling and rasping noise of the Harvards at night, so we were banished to the satellite field at Airdrie some 20 miles north of the city for night flying and pupils flew over there with their instructors. On one most unusual occasion, I was detailed to carry Bill Livock as a passenger, but was told not to enter his name in my log book. Naturally, it was a unique occasion and all the way to Airdrie I had to will myself into making a first-class landing. If I failed, I was sure that Bill, as a critic and one of my peers, would have made the most of a poor performance. As it turned out, the landing was a good one and Bill voiced his approval from the back seat. After I read of his death, I went to my log book and immediately entered his name in the appropriate place and recorded the date of his fatal crash.

Above left Bill Livok with Archie Pennie during training with 37 Service Flying Training School in Calgary, Canada (Courtesy Vintage Wings of Canada - see link below)

Bill’s father was a Group Captain in the RAF and the family were good friends with Air Marshal Breadner, CAS, RCAF. (Perhaps they had trained together in England?) On Wings Day, 13 of our Course were commissioned, but Bill was not one of the lucky ones. Our ways parted there and he was posted to the General Reconnaissance (GR) School at Charlottetown, while I found myself at the Flying Instructors School (FIS) at Arnprior. I never heard about him again after we parted in Calgary and many times had wondered what became of him and the many others who gained their wings that day. It was most upsetting and sad to learn after 58 years that he had made his final take off.

Bill Livock had been a member of No. 248 Squadron - a part of the Banff Strike Force - which was in the heat of the battles in the Norwegian Fiords; in strikes that were fraught with difficulties and serious hazards. There were many squadrons involved in addition to those of the RAF. They were drawn from the RAF, the RCAF and other Commonwealth crews, and included also participation from the Norwegians. They operated all year round against U-boats and shipping over the unforgiving North Sea and the Norwegian coast.

Their efforts resulted in the destruction of more than 300,000 tons of shipping and hastened the end of the war. These sorties were always into dangerous territory and the several squadrons involved suffered serious losses. In fact, between September 1944 and May 1945, 94 aircrew lost their lives. There were two particular days when losses were heavy. On the 15th of January 1945, the Mosquito squadrons lost six aircraft, and on the 09th of February 1945, the Beaufighter squadrons suffered the loss of 9 aircraft. This latter date is still referred to as ‘Black Friday.’

On reflection, it does seem an ironic and cruel twist of fate that Bill should have survived all the hazards of these dangerous missions and ended up as a victim of a local flying accident. The whole saga of the Banff operations has a personal interest and effect on me, for I was born in Banff and spent the first 6 years of my life there. It is not surprising, therefore, that I should have a keen interest in the wartime activities that took place in my native homeland.

I have always experienced great pleasure and surprise from any writing feedback that has come my way. However, one must be prepared to accept the bad with the good. This is what transpired with this recent example. Naturally, I appreciated receiving the news of Bill’s death, but at the same time, I thought that this was one occasion when feedback was not a welcomed visitor. Despite all that, it did provide the missing link that solved the mystery of a great friendship that started on the Prairies 60 years ago.

Archie Pennie died on the 28th of August 2013 age 97.

Archie Pennie - the Observair, Volume 40, No. 5, May 2003 - You can read Archie's obituary here.

The Vintage Wings of Canada Cornell is dedicated to Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant Archie Pennie, an elementary flying instructor on Cornells during the Second World War.(Courtesy Vintage Wings of Canada - see link below)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Air-27-1497-23/25 National Archive. Vintage Wings of Canada.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 18-01-2023

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A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

“William Livock (Bill) the pilot of Mosquito FB. V1 HR 284 was my half-brother. He was much older than me and I knew very little about him. Thanks to the excellent research of Aircrew Remembered I now have a great deal of information about Bill, including a testimonial from a war-time friend of his, Archie Pennie, and a photograph, the only one I have. I recently visited the RAF Memorial at Runnymede and am so grateful to the researchers for filling in so much of Bill’s story and helping me to honour his memory. Ann Kraunsoe (Livock).”

I will also make a donation through the website.

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Last Modified: 21 January 2023, 16:50

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