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July 1942 – Student Pilot Fernand Biver Killed

P/O Biver is buried in Lot 8, Block 10, Grave 247 of the Rosedale Cemetery, Moose Jaw.
mosquito aircraft
Mosquito Aircraft similar to the one that crashed.

Over the years I have visited the World War Two Section of the Rosedale Cemetery and collected information about the men who are buried there. Most were with the Royal Air Force and died during Pilot Training at RAF, No. 32 SFTS, now known as 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

The reference notes are from the old Moose Jaw Times Herald and tell of events that resulted in the July 18, 1942 death of Pilot Officer Fernand Biver, a Belgian and the first Belgian killed while training in Canada.

P/O Biver is even more distinct. He was born in Elisabethville, Congo and has the distinction of being the only man born in the Congo to die while undertaking pilot training in Canada during WW 2.

P/O Biver is buried in Lot 8, Block 10, Grave 247 of the Rosedale Cemetery, Moose Jaw.

From the Moose Jaw Times Herald, Monday, July 20, 1942

“Mid-Air Collision Takes Life of a 32 S.F.T.S. Pilot

“A mid-air collision between two training planes of No. 32, S.F.T.S., R.A.F., Moose Jaw, occurred Saturday afternoon near Stony Beach, resulting in the instant death of a pilot officer.

“It is understood that the two machines inadvertently touched wings, crippling the plane piloted by the officer, while the second machine was able to return to the station. According to what few details are available, the pilot jumped from his machine at a height of 100 feet from the ground. The machine itself was reported to have been only slightly damaged.

“At press time the name of the victim of the accident was being withheld until the next of kin had been informed.”

Editor: It seems odd that he would jump from the airplane at only 100 feet. All RAF personnel were required to wear a parachute while in a training aircraft. One assumes he thought he was high enough and had to jump.

Follow-up from the Moose Jaw Times Herald, Tuesday, July 21, 1942

“PO F. Biver is Killed in Crash

“Pilot Officer F. Biver, 102629 Pilot Officer (RAFVR), of Etterbeek, Brussels, Belgium, a Belgian subject attached to the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve, was the airman who lost his life on Sunday last when two planes from No. 32 S.F.T.S., R.A.F., south of the city, collided in mid-air near Stony Beach, it was disclosed on Tuesday morning by officials from No. 32.

“Announcement of the name had been delayed pending notification of the next of kin. The other plane involved in the accident landed safely. Pilot Officer Biver was a pupil pilot.

“The funeral services for Pilot Officer Fernand Biver, who was 21 years of age, will be held on Wednesday, July 22, at ten o’clock in the morning, from St. Joseph’s Church to Rosedale Cemetery. Honorable Flight Lieutenant Father J. J. Cunningham will officiate."

Follow-up, Moose Jaw Times Herald, Thursday, July 23, 1942

The news article from July 23, 1942 reports on the funeral and included:

“Flight Lieutenant Cahill was in charge of the funeral. Sergeant Bushel was in charge of the escort, while A. M. L. Devers was in charge of the pallbearers. Honourable Flight Lieutenant Father J. J. Cunningham conducted the services. A firing squad was present for the burial.”

(The ‘Firing Squad’ was present to fire three shots to honour of the fallen airman.)

Tragedy Continued.

The names of the pallbearers were included in the news article. Upon checking, I discovered that one of the pallbearers, Warrant Officer, Ronald Norman Geoffrey Bray, Service No. 1319036, RCAFVR was killed on May 17, 1945.

Since the War in Europe was over on May 8, 1945, this seemed interesting.

Circumstances of W/O Bray’s Death

Warrant Officer, Ronald Norman Geoffrey Bray, Service No. 1319036, RCAFVR was killed on May 17, 1945.

Aircraft Mosquito HK250 

Warrant Officer, Ronald Norman Geoffrey Bray, Pilot, was killed in a flying training accident on May 17, 1945.

Bray and his Navigator Sergeant (1686531) Arnold Davies, RAFVR, took off on a training flight from RAF Charterhall, Berwickshire in Mosquito HK250. An engine stalled at low altitude and Mosquito aircraft HK250 crashed near Berwick, Berwickshire, Scotland killing both men.

Their bodies were never recovered. They are remembered at the Runnymede Memorial.