Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Mystery Flight Royal Air Force Squadron 525 RAF 525 was a transport squadron and operated on routes throughout Europe. 525 Squadron was mainly manned by Canadian personnel. The usual base of the aircraft Vickers Warwick I (BV247) was Asmera in Ethiopia (now Eritrea) where Squadron 525 also had a secondary base. The flight on April 17, 1944 carried 16 people including the pilot and was bound for North Africa. RAF 525 Squadron’s Vickers Warwick III (#BV 247) aircraft had taken off from RAF Station St. Mawgan, Newquay , Cornwall, on a scheduled service flight (England to Algiers Maison Blance airport, via Gibraltar). At 240 am, approximately two and half miles north east of Newquay, Cornwall, the plane exploded in mid-air, crashed and sank into Watergate Bay near Newquay Bay. All the crew and passengers on board the aircraft perished in the crash. While a number of the bodies were retrieved following the crash that of Arthur Gavel was not identified when recovered on April 24th. The Warwick was thought to be carrying several top-secret agents, military advisers, linguists and top-secret documents, as well as thousands of £100 bills and possibly boxes of gold, thought to be for use in helping to finance European underground groups. Various reports written about the flight indicate that the passengers included two French officers en route to meet with General Charles DeGaulle in Cairo; two Polish couriers en route to Warsaw; one senior staff officer en route to Cairo; one Greek expert en route to Greece; one Hungarian/Canadian en route to Hungary on an S. O. E. mission, and three S. O. E. officers; and one Russian- speaking MI6 officer en route to Yugoslavia to meet with Tito partisans. Flight Crew: Gavel, Arthur Douglas Royal Canadian Air Force Flying Officer Service No: J/23107 525 Royal Air Force Squadron Duty on Flight: Captain Age: 23 Cemetery: Newquay (Fairpark) Cemetery, Cornwall, United Kingdom Grave Reference: 687 Memorial: Listed on Runnymede Memorial (Part V) RCAF Flying Officer, Arthur Douglas Gavel, was from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, in Canada. Arthur was born on February 12, 1921. His parents were George William Gavel and Vera Bell (Campbell) Gavel. In April of 1944, as he climbed into the cockpit of his Vickers Warwick I (BV247) he was 23 years old. He had been assigned to RAF 525 Squadron based at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire UK since February 1944. Following the crash a number of bodies were recovered, but the remains Arthur Douglas Gavel were not identified. Later on April 24, 1944 an unidentified body was found at sea and buried in a grave in the Fairpark Cemetery. The headstone, as was the custom for unidentified bodies recovered from the sea, read: A Sailor of the Second World War Merchant Navy 24 April 1944 Known Unto God Roy MacLaren in his book, Canadians Behind Enemy Lines, claimed that secret agents were aboard the flight. Chief Inspector Derek Fowkes, a Cornwall policeman claimed that the plane carried gold bullion that the secret agents were to use to finance underground organizations. Derek Fowkes became interested in the crash when he was examining wartime records. Chief Inspector Fowkes, because of the location where the unidentified body was located began to think it could be that of the pilot of the downed Vickers Warwick I (BV247). In 1984, forty years after the crash, Derek Fowkes in collaboration with Murray W. Gavel, a Saskatchewan wheat farmer, and the brother of Arthur Gavel, were able to finally identify the body of Arthur Gavel. Two RAF Officers, Group Captain Tony Balfour of the RAF’s Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine and Group Captain David Chapman-Andrews, a consultant in oral surgery confirmed the unknown sailor’s grave was that of pilot, Arthur Douglas Gavel. In 1988, Flying Officer Arthur Douglas Gavel was re-interred in Plot 687 with full military honours, including a Royal Air Force honour guard. A new headstone was placed on his grave. Arthur Gavel had family connections in the Tusket and Richfield areas of Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Rowe, Michael Kington Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Service No: 1383712 525 Royal Air Force Squadron Duty on Flight: 2nd Pilot Age: 22 Cemetery: Newquay (Fairpark) Cemetery Son of Walter Stanley and Dorothy Florence Rowe, of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey. Gardiner, Albert George Tracey Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Flying Officer (Navigator) Service No: 134548 525 Royal Air Force Squadron Duty on Flight: Navigator Age: 27 Cemetery: St James Churchyard, Abinger, Mole Valley District, Surrey, England Grave Reference: 315 Austen, Harold Calven Royal Canadian Air Force Flying Officer Service No: 134548 525 Royal Air Force Squadron Duty on Flight: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Age: 25 Cemetery: Brookwood Military Cemetery, Brookwood, Woking Borough, Surrey, England Grave Reference: 48. H. 1. Son of Henry John and Mary Alice Austen of Oyen, Alberta, Canada. Passengers: Carlow, George Lionel Seymour Dawson-Damer (Viscount ) Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force) Air Commodore Service No. 90078 600 Squadron RAF On Flight: Passenger Age: 36 Cemetery: Golders Green Crematorium, London Borough of Barnet, Greater London, England Reference: Panel 1 Husband of Peggy Cambie (married January 7, 1937) Various records indicate that RAF Air Commodore George Lionel Seymour Dawson-Damer, Viscount Carlow was en-route to visit Tito in Yugoslavia. Nicklin, Noel Spencer Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Flying Officer Service No: 145574 525 Squadron Royal Air Force On Flight: Passenger Age: 34 Cemetery: Great Crosby (St. Luke) Churchyard, Lancashire, United Kingdom Reference: Section C, Grave 627 Son of Frederick William and Selina Nicklin, of Waterloo, Liverpool; husband of Norah Nicklin, of Waterloo, Liverpool. Lamb, George William Pilot Officer Service No: 53922 525 Squadron Royal Air Force On Flight: Passenger Age: 27 Cemetery: Hull Crematorium Reference: Screen Wall, Panel 3 Son of William Saunders and Jeannie Lamb, of Hull and husband of Doreen Alice Lamb, of Hull. Ward, Thomas Percival Major Service No: 100464 Royal Army Medical Corps On Flight: Passenger Age: 35 Cemetery: Brookwood Military Cemetery Grave Reference: 33A. A. 3. Son of Thomas and Alice Josephine Ward and husband of Dorice Bentley Ward. M.A., M.B., B.Ch. (Cantab.). L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S. Schwob M. M.O.S.F.F. On Flight: Passenger Burial information: unknown Baudouin, (Baudoin) Roger A. A. Commandant Staff, F. F. On Flight: Passenger Age: 47 Burial information: unknown Born: est. 1897 Tilley, William Godfrey Squadron Leader Service No: 45766 525 RAF Squadron On Flight: Passenger Age: 34 Cemetery: St John the Baptist Churchyard, Colerne, Wiltshire Unitary Authority, Wiltshire, England Grave Reference: 126 Son of William and Emma Selina Tiley, of Colerne. M.B.E. Mate (Maitland), Stephen Lieutenant Service No: 84000 British Army (General List) Special Forces On Flight: Passenger Age: 34 Cemetery: Newquay (Fairpark) Cemetery, Cornwall, United Kingdom Grave Reference: 686. Sergeant Mate was born on August 20, 1911 in Kurd, Tolna, M., Hungary. He enlisted on August 28, 1942 at Port Arthur, Ontario and was discharged from the Canadian Forces on October 18, 1943 to join the British Forces. Son of Frank and Marie Mate of Fort William, Ontario. Brother of Rosie and Mary. Birts, Ivor Watkins (Listed as Bitts on official document) Lieutenant Colonel Service Number: 132903 Royal Artillery On Flight: Passenger Age: 34 Cemetery: Fairpark Cemetery, St Columb Minor, Cornwall Unitary Authority, Cornwall, England Grave Reference: C. of E. plot. Cons. Grave 685. Son of William Lomas Watkins Birts and Lilian Grace(Stephens) Birts and husband of Marie Josephine Birts (nee Bain), of Westminster, London. Born: January 11, 1910 B.A. (Oxon); Barrister Casson, Stanley Lieutenant Colonel Service Number: 98094 (Listed as 90894 on official document) British Intelligence Corps On Flight: Passenger Age: 54 Cemetery: Newquay (Fairpark) Cemetery, Cornwall, United Kingdom Grave Reference: 684 Son of William Augustus and Kate Elizabeth Casson and husband of Nora Elizabeth Joan Casson, of Kensington, London. Born: May 7, 1889 Mentioned in Dispatches in the 1914-18 War. Fellow of New College, (Oxon); Reader in Classical Archaeology Król Józef (Senior Chaplain) Major Polish Forces (Senior Chaplain) On Flight: Passenger Cemetery: Brookwood Military Cemetery, Brookwood, Woking Borough, Surrey, England Grave Reference: Polish Gójski, Edmund J. Captain Polish Army (Polish Courier) On Flight: Passenger Age: 36 Cemetery: Brookwood Military Cemetery, Brookwood, Woking Borough, Surrey, England Grave Reference: Plot 27 Row C Grave 2. Born July 25, 1907 at Skarżysko-Kamienna, Poland
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Mystery Flight Royal Air Force Squadron 525