Vance, Gordon Elgin (No. J/24133)

Vance, Gordon Elgin (Gordon)

Flying Officer (Pilot)

No. J/24133, 290 (RAF) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force

Killed in an aircraft accident on Saturday 15 April 1944 (aged 22)

Buried:

Eglantine Church of Ireland Cemetery, Co. Down (Section E. Grave 41)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (Internet)

Canadian Second World War Book of Remembrance (Page 467)

BIOGRAPHY

After Flying Officer Gordon Elgin Vance (No. J/24133) died, Violet Moore of Ballyalicock, Newtownards placed a Killed on Active Service notice in the 22 April 1944 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle, and she included the text:

Very deeply regretted.

In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour website it is recorded that Gordon Elgin Vance was a son of Samuel and Beatrice Emily Vance of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Originally from Dauphin, Manitoba, it was reported in the Press that Gordon Elgin Vance attended schools in Vancouver and Winnipeg, and he joined the Canadian Air Force in December 1941.

On 15 April 1944, an Airspeed Oxford aircraft (BG601) of 290 (RAF) Squadron based at RAF Long Kesh crashed into the sea near the Copeland Islands and both crew members were killed.  They were Squadron Leader Thomas George Westlake and Flying Officer Gordon Elgin Vance.

Squadron Leader Westlake was leading a formation of three Oxfords in a naval exercise involving simulated torpedo attacks on ships.  The Oxfords were being escorted by five Martinet aircraft forming fighter cover above them.  At around 10.15 pm Squadron Leader Westlake called up the other aircraft and instructed them to return to Ballyhalbert and shortly afterwards his Oxford’s propeller was seen to touch the sea.  Then his aircraft hit the water and broke up on impact.  RAF high speed launches were dispatched from Donaghadee and they picked up Squadron Leader Westlake who died later as the result of his injuries.

Flying Officer Gordon Elgin Vance (No. J/24133) was buried in Eglantine Church of Ireland Cemetery, Lisburn, Co. Down and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

HE IS NOT DEAD,

HE IS JUST AWAY

Flying Officer Gordon Elgin Vance (No. J/24133) is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (Internet) and on Page 467 in the Canadian Second World War Book of Remembrance.  He was survived by his father, his brothers William and Jack, and his sister, Mrs S Greenizan, all of Winnipeg.