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Thread: Cpl Ford-Smith 1334634, a met person?

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    Default Cpl Ford-Smith 1334634, a met person?

    One for the Met. boys.

    Cpl Basil James Ford-Smith, RAF 1334634, is listed as one of 3 fatalities in the crash of Oxford EB659 in Saskatchewan on 19 October 1943. The aircraft was from 35 SFTS in North Battleford, and was transporting an RCMP pathologist from North Battleford to Saskatoon, at the urgent request of the RCMP. They flew into high ground in bad weather at night. Ford-Smith's trade is reported as "Met". "High ground" is a relative term in central Saskatchewan, I suspect they were scud running at fairly low altitude.

    Can we tell if he was, in fact, with the met department at North Battleford, or at 35 SFTS? The SFTS was the biggest, maybe the only, unit at North Battleford at the time.

    Any ideas on why a met man would be on board a transport flight?

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    A few things come to mind, Bill

    1. What source quotes 'Met'?
    2. Were there there any survivors?
    3. Should there have been a navigator?
    4. Ford-Smith was RAFVR - that's not me being awkward but RAF would have implied a pre-war entry into the service

    I'm not aware that any British met personnel served in Canada; the Met Office had a difficult enough task filling home and war-theatre posts without aiding 'peaceful' areas. Besides which a comprehensive met service had been developed by the Canadian authorities see http://cmosarchives.ca/History/wxsvchistory.html

    His name is not listed on the Met Office Roll of Honour, but despite the above one can't rule out the possibility completely; unless anyone knows the answer I'd suggest the only way to resolve your query is to obtain his service record.

    If he was 'Met' I'd suggest it was a jolly.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 19th July 2016 at 08:59.

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    Brian,

    This should answer at least one of your questions:

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/sho...9-October-1943

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 19th July 2016 at 10:17.

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    Reported in Flight 20 Jan 1944, p.79, as 'Killed On Active Service'. CWGC give NoK loc as London, but both he, and his older brother, were Birth Reg in East Preston - might be a newspaper obit?
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    The Metmen wonder if 'Met' is a typo for 'Med', as in 'medic' given the other passenger's profession. We appreciate Powers' main interest was crime detection https://sites.google.com/site/cahsre...nology-1940-49.

    Brian

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    "Met/Asst" and "Meteroligist" are from RCAF correspondence concerning the crash, including the initial crash report (not always reliable). In the official accident report no trade is listed, he just shows as "passenger". The "Med" idea is interesting. There were no survivors. The planned flight was about 80 miles in length, if a navigator was required there would have been instructors, and lots of LAC students, available. The pilot was listed as a navigation instructor. The actual crash location was somewhat south of a direct route, and actually south of the North Saskatchewan River valley. (A direct route would have remained north of the river.) This was a typical wide, deep prairie river valley, cut into the otherwise flat terrain, and may have produced the "high ground" mentioned in the crash report. At its widest, the top of the valley could have been 10+ miles wide, and the floor of the valley 100 feet below either bank.

    One of the topics discussed in the accident report was the range and reliability of the Saskatoon non-directional beacon, and whether it would have been useful at the apparently low altitude the pilot flew at (consensus was it would not have been reliable), and whether the pilot intended to rely on it as a primary nav source. There was also some discussion of the fact that the flight should not have launched into the forecasted weather, and perhaps undue pressure had come from the RCMP. None of these last two topics made it into the final report, but the correspondence still exists in the accident file (see http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oo...6/3291?r=0&s=1).
    Last edited by Bill Walker; 19th July 2016 at 19:32.

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    Thanks, Bill. I think the answer to one of your questions "Why would a metman be on a transport flight" is answered by the documents in the link - basically he should not have been on the aircraft at all. His flight was not authorised and he had been on duty until shortly before its departure.

    As I've indicated I'm not aware of the Met Office providing any support in Canada; consequently this is a bit of a puzzle which can only be resolved by obtaining his service record. Met support in Canada would have been provided by the Canadian authorities and your link indicates there was a met office at North Battleford.

    Brian

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    Yes Brian, I'm leaning towards his presence being a "jolly", approved verbally at the last minute by the pilot. Still like to know his job.

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    Record of Service request to Cranwell goes in the Post Box tomorrow! Just have to wait and see!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    And another thought has just struck me (I used to get criticised for this at Job Appraisals!!)!! If our Ford-Smith turns out to be a real Met Asst then I would bet some of your pensions that he was not sent, by "them" in power, on his own, to be The Single UK RAFVR Met Asst in the whole of Canada!! There would - I postulate - have been his Superiors, and the ORs he was in charge of?
    We have to hope that Cranwell will tell us he was not a Met Asst! Else stones will be turned over (exhibiting unpleasant surprises underneath), and/or Pandora's Boxes will be opened into some of the darker recesses of UK WW2 Met organisation that we knew nought of!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 20th July 2016 at 14:02.
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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