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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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440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron
04.05.1944 440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron, RCAF Typhoon Ib MN431 Fg Off. William D. Peacock

Operation: Return to RAF Hurn

Date: 4th May 1944 (Saturday)

Unit No: 440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron, RCAF, 143 Airfield, 2nd Tactical Air Force

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: MN431

Code: I8:K

Base: RAF Hurn, Dorset, England

Location: ½ mile to the west of Eastleigh, Hants

Pilot: Fg Off. William Dempsay Peacock J26271 RCAF Age 24. KIFA

Note: KIFA = Killed in Flying Accident

Above: Fg Off. William Dempsay Peacock from his Service Record

On the 8th June 1942 Sgt. William Peacock R69389 was on 130 (F) Sqn. having been posted there from 111(F) Sqn on the 1st May 1942.

On this day he undertaking an instrument training flight with Sgt. E.B. Dionne as the captain of Harvard II RCAF 3285. At 13:20 hrs the aircraft crashed into a hill 2½ miles south of St. Octave, Quebec.

Above: Sgt. Ernest Bernard Dionne R96741 Age 22, of 130 (F) Sqn perished in the accident.

Sgt. Peacock’s short statement from his Injury report:

"I was flying under the hood when all of a sudden everything went black. I do not know how long I was unconscious. When I came to I was lying among the debris of the aircraft."

Above: Wreckage of Harvard II RCAF 3285

Sgt. Peacock’s injuries included, shock, concussion, 3rd degree burns to his left leg, a fractured bone in his left foot and laceration wounds to his nose, left hand and left leg. Whilst in recovery he was transferred to No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery (B&G) School at Mont Joli in Quebec. After some 6 months of recovery he was transferred back to 130 (F) Sqn to get some time back on Kittyhawks before being returned to 111(F) Sqn at Anchorage, Alaska.


Statement by Flt Lt. Harold Orville Gooding J10608:

“While flying from RAF Ford to RAF Hurn after completing an operating flight, I was Blue leader having my flight on the starboard side of the Squadron leader [Red Flight] and flying between 1000 and 1200 feet. I saw a piece of the wing fly off an aircraft and the aircraft immediately spin over on its back and spiralled in. On crashing the aircraft burst into flames. I reported this to the 'Latus' Leader (Sqn Ldr. William H. Pentland) and proceeded with the formation to RAF Hurn and landed”.

Note: Sqn Ldr. William Harry Pentland DFC, J3204 was KiA on the 7th October 1944 when his Typhoon Ib MN641, I8:B, was shot down by Flak.

The investigation concluded that:

Fg Off. Peacock was killed at about 14:05 hrs on the 4th May 1944, when his aircraft Typhoon MN431, evidently struck the mooring cable of a captive balloon and fell to the ground out of control. The aircraft was almost totally destroyed by the impact with the ground and in the resulting fire.

The balloon barrage was located near Eastleigh, Hants and the wreckage of the aircraft was found about ½ mile to the west. The accident occurred on the return portion of an operational 'Ramrod' by 440 Sqn after an attack on a ’Noball' target in France. The Sqn landed at RAF Ford in Sussex to refuel and the accident occurred shortly after the time of take off for RAF Hurn in Dorset, where the Sqn was based.

Although the pilots of the Sqn had considerable experience in flying the route from RAF Ford to RAF Hurn the contributing factors to the accident was the low cloud on the hills which forced the formation further south than normal and into the edge of the balloon barrage. This combined with the low cloud base which obscured the balloons themselves resulted in the accident and Fg Off. Peacock losing his life.

The funeral for Fg Off. Peacock took place on the 10th May 1944 at 15:00 hrs. The service was conducted by the RCAF Protestant Chaplain, Sqn Ldr. Ashford, after which his body was interred in the soldiers’ plot at the Bournemouth North Cemetery.

Burial details:

Fg Off. William Dempsay Peacock. Bournemouth North Cemetery Row H.4. Grave 90. Inscription: ‘HE DIED AS HE LIVED, FOR OTHERS. WHAT MORE COULD HE GIVE THAN HIS LIFE’. Born on the 1st April 1920 in Swastika, Ontario. Son of William (his father predeceased him in 1938) and Claribel (née Dempsay) Peacock of Noranda, Province of Quebec, Canada.

Two of his brothers also served in the RCAF when he enlisted on the 6th January 1941:

Fg Off. James Edwin Malcolm Peacock DFC J29380.

R151022 Sgt. Peacock was appointed to a commissioned on 20th February 1944;
Posted to 12 Squadron on the 29th June 1944;
On his repatriation form dated 4 December 1944 he stated he had flown 31 sorties (158 hours 45 minutes), the last on 6 November 1944;
Repatriated to Canada on the 14th December 1944;
He was awarded the DFC whilst serving with 12 Sqn. London Gazette 27th March 1945:

DFC recommendation: Flying Officer Peacock, a Canadian Bomb Aimer, has now completed a most successful tour of operations against the enemy including attacks on many such targets as Kiel, Stuttgart, Brunswick, Stettin, Duisburg, Essen, Cologne, Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. In addition he has bombed many small but vital targets in France, demanding the utmost accuracy and skill on the part of the Bomb Aimer. He has proved himself more than equal to his task, pressing home every attack with exceptional skill, which has only been equalled by his courage and devotion to duty. He has been very largely responsible for the repeated successes achieved by his captain and crew and has set a shining example to the rest of the squadron. I have no hesitation in recommending that this Canadian officer's magnificent record be recognized by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross:

Retired from the RCAF on the 13th February 1946;
Deceased on 5th April 1962, in Brantford, Ontario.

AC1 Gordon Lambie Peacock K279660 serving at RCAF Station Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick.

Researched by Ralph Snape an and François Dutil, and dedicated to this pilot and his family. Updated with additional photographs and Bio for brother Fg Off. James E.M. Peacock (Aug 2023)

Other sources as quoted below:

RS & FD 13.08.2023 - Update to brothers Bio

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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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