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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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34 Operational Training Unit (OTU) Ventura II AE872 Plt Off. Williams

Operation: Formation Practice

Date: 23rd January 1943 (Saturday)

Unit No: 34 Operational Training Unit (OTU)

Type: Ventura II

Serial: AE872

Code: Unknown

Base: RCAF Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick, Canada

Location: Hills Mountain, Waweig, New Brunswick

Pilot: Plt Off. Bayden Bala Williams J21199 RCAF Age 25. Killed

Nav: Plt Off. Geoffrey Alexander Norriss 421334 RNZAF Age 37. Killed

W/Op: Plt Off. Philip William Mccarthy J21050 RCAF Age 32. Killed



Thin overcast above 10,000. Visibility 15 miles. Temperature 3 deg. F. Dew point 1 deg. F. Wind up to 1,000 ft. was West 8 mph. At 2,000 ft. it was North-West 15 mph.

Plt Off. Williams and a crew of two took off at 09:10 hrs in Ventura AE872, authorised to carry out formation flying for one hour and 30 minutes with Sgt. Tovell 414526 RAAF and crew in Ventura AE658. Plt Off. Williams and Sgt. Tovell were to share the lead time in the formation, normally splitting the flying time into four portions.

Sgt. Edward John Tovell 414526 RAAF. Born on the 23rd May 1923 in Brisbane, Queensland. He was posted to 34 OTU on the 7th November 1942. He was commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. on the 25th April 1944.

He was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) as a Fg Off. London Gazette 1st January 1945.

Awarded the DFC as a Fg Off. whilst with 299 Sqn. London Gazette 27th March 1945. Citation: "In February, 1945, this officer piloted an aircraft detailed to attack a target in North-West Germany. At one point on the outward flight, the port inner engine exploded and caught fire. The aircraft lost height rapidly and Flying Officer Tovell ordered his crew to prepare to abandon. He succeeded in regaining control, however, and then flew on to the target which he bombed at a much lower level than planned. He afterwards flew back to base and effected a safe landing. This officer displayed great skill, coolness and resolution throughout. He has completed very many sorties against a variety of enemy targets".

After flying for about one hour in formation and at a time when the aircraft was heading back towards the base at a height of 2,000 ft. Plt Off. Williams was leading, he gave the visual break-away signal and then broke away in a steep dive turn to port and Sgt. Tovell broke off in a steep climbing turn to starboard.

Sgt. Tovell lost sight of AE872 but later saw a fire on the ground. Eyewitnesses residing some 9 miles from St. Stephen, New Brunswick and 37 miles from Pennfield Ridge stated that they saw two Ventura aircraft flying in formation when one broke away to the left and made a large circle, going into a steep bank and crashed into Hills Mountain which is about 300 feet higher than the surrounding country. The aircraft, Ventura AE872, burst into flames on impact, exploded and was totally destroyed. All the occupants were killed.

An examination of the wreckage and of the scene of the accident disclosed that the aircraft had flown into the top of the trees in a 45° starboard wing-down, 30° nose-down altitude with considerable speed. The impact was so severe that the aircraft made a hole some four feet deep in the ground, exploded and broke into many pieces.

The cause is obscure. The probable cause is the lack of appreciation by the pilot of the unwieldy nature of the Ventura aircraft near the ground and/or in a diving turn. The contributory cause was faulty judgment due to inexperience.

Burial details:

Plt Off. Bayden Bala Williams. St. George Rural Cemetery, Charlotte County. Lot 32. Range 12. Born on the 30th November 1917 in Strome, Alberta. Son of Thomas Owen Williams (died 28th March 1963, age 81) and Bertha Mae Williams (née Shaw - died 1930, age 37), of Strome, Alberta. Brother of Gayne Williams who served in the RAF in India. (Divorced Bernie Y. Williams of 129-E-29th Avenue, Vancouver, Canada. Next of kin was listed as his other brother, O.N. Williams, of 3213 Elgow Drive, Calgary, Canada.

He worked for Calgary Stock Exchange and the York Hotel. Enlisted in 1938 as an armourer and later re-enlisted and retrained as a pilot in 1942.

Plt Off. Geoffrey Alexander Norriss. St. George Rural Cemetery, Charlotte County. Lot 32. Range 12. Buried on 27th January 1943. Born on the 13th of August 1905 in Nelson. Son of John David Norriss (died 16th July 1936, age 78) and of Fanny Norriss (née Grove - died 10th February 1935, age 71), of Nelson, New Zealand. Husband of Lauraine (née Holbrook) Norriss (22 July 1905-20 September 2001), of 41 Poynters Crescent, Nelson and father of one son. Epitaph: 'Beloved Husband Of Lauraine Norriss Nelson, New Zealand'.

Educated at Correspondence School. A self-employed bricklayer. Enlisted at Rotorua as an air observer under training on the 27th of February 1942. Embarked for Canada on 27th April 1942. 07th June 1942 to No. 6 Air Observer School, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. 13th September 1942 to No.1 Central Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba. 10th October 1942 to No. 7 Bombing and Gunnery School, Paulson, Manitoba. 20th November 1942 awarded his Air Observers Badge and promoted to Sergeant/commissioned 5th December 1943 to No. 35 Service Flying Training School, North Battleford, Saskatchewan. 28th December 1942 to 34 Operational Training Unit, Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick. Gave his date of birth on enlistment as 1908.

Plt Off. Philip William Mccarthy. Ottawa Notre Dame Cemetery. Plot 4525. Sec. 15. Born on the 18th May 1910 Baileyville, Maine, USA. Son of Philip Napolean (27 July 1883-21 October 1946) and Charlotte Isabel (née Hamilton) McCarthy (his mother died in Baileyville, Maine), of Calgary Gatineau. Husband of Mary Catherine (née Headley) McCarthy- Married 19th April 1937 (24 October 1908-16 March 1951), of 35 Douglas Drive, Ottawa, Canada.

Educated at La Salle Academy in Ottawa. Member of the Canadian skiing Olympic Team in 1926.

Researched and dedicated by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) (Aug 2022) to the relatives of this pilot, thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland. Thanks to G. Christian Larsen, President Pennfield Parish Military Historical Society for the correction to Sgt. Tovell's details and additional for the NoK details (Jan 2023)

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 24.01.2023 - Corrections and updates

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Original text:

(1) William Harvey Tovell - Born in 1938. Enlisted 05th September 1940. Central Flying School 06th October 1940. Promoted to sergeant on 02nd November 1940 on the same day joined No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School. Promoted toFlying Officer on 09th April 1943 and Flight Lieutenant on 09th October 1944. Repatriated to Canada on 10th September 1945 and released from the RCAF on 24th October 1945

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Last Modified: 24 January 2023, 07:26

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