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Thread: 204 Squadron RAF WW1

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    Default 204 Squadron RAF WW1

    Hello.
    I am conducting research into the service life of a WW1 pilot from Ontario, Canada. 2nd Lieut. John Eckford Gow was born on 30th January 1898. He enlisted in the 245th Infantry Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force, on 30th November, 1916 as a Private and then gained a transfer to the newly formed RAF, for pilot training. He trained at Cranwell and served with 204 Squadron as a Sopwith Camel pilot. John died of wounds on the 10th August, 1918. His service numbers were 1057234 (Infantry?) and 343040 (RAF?).
    John was a close relative of Lt. Colonel John McCrae who wrote the most famous poem of WW1, 'In Flanders Fields', which introduced the poppy as the international symbol of remembrance.
    I have acquired John's RAF service record from the UK archives, but it doesn't provide much more information than above. If anyone has access to the diaries/records of 204 Squadron from 1918 and can provide me with more information, it would be much appreciated by me and John's family. Thanks in anticipation.

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    Mike, Hi and Welcome to the Forum,
    Slight problem with that presumed RAF Service Number (343040).
    CWGC don’t give him any Service Numbers. They give his Unit(s) as Canadian Field Artillery and 204 Sqn (RAF?).
    He died 10 Aug 1918. 343040 is a RAF Enlisted Number in the Block 340001-360000 which I have as being issued to Civilians between 1 Sep 1919 and 16 Jun 1925. If that Block had been issued on a regular basis then whoever received 343040 would have Enlisted around mid-July 1920 – which date does not fit with his DoD?
    https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/...0741/page/6937
    The undermentioned Probationary Flight Officers (late R.N.A.S.) are granted temp, commns. as 2nd Lts. (A. & S.) : — 17th May 1918. John Eckford Gow.
    Might pay to check the history and locations of 204 Sqn and its antecedents.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 2nd October 2019 at 08:09. Reason: Additions
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Not sure if you have these details, which show that he was posted to 204 Squadron on 8th July and was reported missing 31st July

    https://www.casualtyforms.org/storag...ms/CF08823.jpg

    Some additional details regarding the loss (Sopwith Camel D3394) on the RAF Museum site

    http://www.rafmuseumstoryvault.org.u....-john-eckford

    His POW Record Card can be found at:

    https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/Fil...h/Military/Gow
    Last edited by PeteT; 2nd October 2019 at 12:08. Reason: Additional Information
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Default John Eckford Gow

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteT View Post
    Not sure if you have these details, which show that he was posted to 204 Squadron on 8th July and was reported missing 31st July

    https://www.casualtyforms.org/storag...ms/CF08823.jpg

    Some additional details regarding the loss (Sopwith Camel D3394) on the RAF Museum site

    http://www.rafmuseumstoryvault.org.u....-john-eckford

    His POW Record Card can be found at:

    https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/Fil...h/Military/Gow
    Peter. You are a star! This gives me so much more information. The family have a story that he was killed escaping as a POW, but this seems unlikely if he was badly wounded. You may be interested to learn that I am helping the Gow family (who are friends) to determine how best to distribute some original letters they hold from the famous Lt. Colonel John McCrae, to museums associated with his name and story. In discussion, John Eckford's nephew, now in his eighties, brought out the silver memorial cross presented to John's mother after the war, and I was told the family story of this brave young man. As a military aviation enthusiast, I decided to look further into his short service life and also to find a medal ribbon, which is missing. I am working with a very senior member of the Canadian armed forces (also a friend) to access a ribbon contemporary with WW1. Once again, my grateful thanks. I shall let the family know of your kind help. Best wishes Mike

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    Thank you Peter. I have already received some great information from the Forum although, as you say, there are still pieces of the complete jigsaw puzzle left. Not least of which are the details of his wounds (presumably shot down) and his time as a POW. I did manage to get some outline information on the history of 204 squadron and its likely operational airfield in France at the time John was killed. I haven't yet managed to find a source for the squadron diary/records of that time.
    I am seeing John's nephew this week (a gentleman in his eighties). I will let him know of the kind contributions from the Forum and show him the latest documents that have resulted from this help. He has the silver memorial cross that was presented to John's mother after the war. Unfortunately, it no longer has the medal ribbon, but I am endeavouring to source a contemporary ribbon from Canadian military sources via a senior officer friend. With our best wishes. Mike

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    Mike,

    From the Windsor Star, 30 December 1918, pg 3

    Flt Lieut J.E. Gow, formerly among missing, now dead

    Brought down in combat at Dixmude, and died of wounds Aug. 10

    Word has been received of the death of Flight Lieut John Eckford Gow, who was reported missing last July. A subsequent report that he had been taken prisoner, and believed unwounded, proved incorrect.
    He was brought down in aerial combat over Dixmude July 31, and died from shot wounds August 10. Lieut Gow was an expert pilot and had had many narrow escapes. He was born in Windsor 19 years ago and had many friends here, having attended the Park Street school. He was the son of John E. Gow, inland revenue inspector, Kingston.
    Regards,

    Dave

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    Hello Dave. Many thanks for this. Its a very interesting article. Thanks to the Forum I have been able to access the official RAF Casualty Report, which cites that John was last seen in air combat over Roulers (Roeselare) in Belgium. That is not far from Dixmude. However, the official report states that he had a shot wound to his spine (from which he later died), and was taken prisoner. His death was reported by the German authorities. I will be seeing John's nephew (now in his eighties) over the next couple of days and I will be taking copies of all the new documents I have, thanks to the Forum. Amazingly, now that I have the serial number of John's aircraft, I found a painting of it being flown over Roulers in July 1918, by another pilot. Just incredible! Best wishes, Mike

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    Hello Mike,

    You can find 44 pages of his Service File on "Fold3". Mentioned in a document details about a Memorial Cross.

    Some notes:

    Enlisted on 6th April 1917 at Kingston, Ontario

    Joined on enlistment 72nd Battery - Regimental Number 343030

    72nd Depot Battery

    Gnr #343030 1st Battery, Canadian Artillery


    A link to another Forum with details:

    https://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/s...d.php?p=728312


    Regards

    Finn Buch
    Last edited by Argus; 2nd October 2019 at 21:38.

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    Many thanks Finn. I don't have access to Fold3 but I did get some excellent additional information from theaerodrome website. Over the last 24 hours I have received so much information from the various forums. I will be showing this to John Eckford Gow's nephew (now in his eighties) over the next couple of days and I know he will be so grateful, as am I. Best wishes, Mike

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