Cyril John Somerville
Name: Somerville, Cyril John
Born: August 5, 1922, in St. Thomas, Ontario
Died: May 30, 1943
Son of Bertha Pollard, of Brampton, Ontario, and Albert E. Pollard.
Service Number: Unknown
Unit: Radio Officer, R.A.F. Transport Command
Cemetery: Nassau R.A.F. Cemetery
Grave Reference: East Plot, Row B grave 7
Cyril John Somerville was born in St. Thomas, Ontario on August 5, 1922, to Ewart G Somerville and Dorothy A. Somerville, originally from Sudbury. Cyril married Patricia Jane before joining service.
He enlisted in the Canadian Merchant Marine in 1941.
He is described as 5 foot, 10 inches in height. A medium complexion with black hair and hazel eyes.
A Border Crossing notice shows Cyril went to the US via the Detroit and Canada Tunnel in Detroit, Michigan on September 5, 1942.
He was being transferred to the Royal Air Force Ferry Command and carrying $50.00 in his pocket. The Brampton Book of Remembrance says in June 1942, he was part of the No. 45 Atlantic Transport Group where he flew the South Atlantic route to Africa.
An article in the Brampton Conservator from June 3, 1943 presents his life.
Radio Officer Lose Life On Bahamas Flight
Married only Six Weeks Ago To Brampton Girl
Brampton was grieved to learn of the untimely death of Radio Officer Cyril John Somerville, who was fatally injured as the result of an accident on May 30th while carrying out a flight assignment in the Bahamas. No further details have been received as yet.
The eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Somerville, 117 Railroad Str., Brampton, Cyril was born in St. Thomas in 1922 and was in this 21st year. He received his earlier education in London and Guelph, and finished his Upper School courses at Brampton High School. He graduated from the Electronics Institute, Toronto, in 1941 and in August of the same year he joined the Merchant Marine as Wireless Operator. He was on the Atlantic between Canada, Great Britain and United States, and later transferred to the Department of transportation, Ottawa, in connection with the Royal Canadian Navy. Eleven months ago he joined the R.A.F. Ferry Command, now known as “No. 45 Atlantic Transport”, Group R.A.F. as Radio Officer, ferrying planes to various ports of the United Kingdom.
In September he was loaned to the American Air Corp and was for three months stationed at Nashville, Tenn., at which time he was flying the South Atlantic route to Egypt and Africa.
He returned last December to take up his duties at Dorval Airport, and was flying the North Atlantic route to Britain. In March 1943, Cyril, with a group of other officers, was transferred to Nassau in the Bahamas, again on the southern route to Africa.
Cyril, as his many friends will remember, was married six weeks ago to Patricia Jana Ashley, the ceremony being performed in Grace United Church, and they returned to Nassau to take up residence there. Mrs. Somerville arrived in Brampton last night.
Cyril was a devout member of Grace United Church, and took a great interest in the activities of young people. Besides his wife and his parents, there are left to mourn his lose, a brother, Norman, a sister, Donna, both at home.
Mrs. Somerville arrived last night from Nassau and stated that P.O. Cyril Somerville was killed at 11:30 Sunday morning. The plane crashed about two miles from the field after taking off and the entire crew was killed. The funeral was held Monday afternoon with full military honors, Dean Sheffield, Dean of Nassau, officiating. Interment in Nassau cemetery.
An article on the Juno Beach web site explains the Royal Air Force Ferry Command
In May 1941, the Ministry of Aircraft Production cancelled the contract with CPR and took full control by creating the Atlantic Ferry organization (ATFERO). But planes kept piling up in Dorval and Gander, a situation that created much displeasure in the U.S. The ATFERO was unable to recruit enough pilots to meet the demand. As a result, the operation passed under the control of the Royal Air Force (RAF) Ferry Command. Despite being under military supervision, most of the operations were conducted by civilians. A few good ideas helped solve the pilot shortage. Pilots, navigators and wireless operators recently graduated from the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) were called upon and offered a possibility of gaining some transatlantic flight experience before joining their squadrons. Experienced RCAF airmen also helped out by ferrying planes as they were assigned to overseas postings. Finally, some civilians who worked as BCATP trainers offered their services to Ferry Command.
The programme was so successful that in 1941 a second route was created for smaller-range airplanes, such as Douglas DB-7 Bostons and Martin B-26 Marauders. This second route called for re-fuelling airports in Goose Bay, Labrador, as well as in Greenland, in addition to the use of the Reykjavik air base in Iceland. A third route, the South Route, linked the U.S. to Egypt, via the West Indies, South America, Ascension Island and Africa.
As time went by, the planes ferried over to the British Isles were increasingly used to carry passengers, mail, and essential cargo such as medical or technical supplies, even ammunition. This resulted in a final reorganization in March 1943, when all ferrying functions were grouped under a single command: the Ferry Command became No 45 Group of the RAF’s Transport Command, with its HQ still in Dorval.
As ferrying activities developed, Canadians played a more active role in the organization, which otherwise remained essentially a British outfit. In June 1944, there were 634 RCAF personnel out of 1,330 military members of No 45 Group, plus some 200 civilians, mostly pilots and wireless operators from the Canadian Department of Transportation. In 1944, with the U.S. aircraft production at its peak, and Canada starting to supply Avro Lancasters and de Havilland Mosquitos as well, No 45 Group delivered 3,726 planes to Great Britain.
In addition to immediate benefits to the war effort, the ferry system was the basis of a Canadian transatlantic air network. Once the planes were delivered, the crew had to get back home… to do that, Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), Air Canada’s forerunner, bought in 1943 and 1944 a few Lancasters and modified them to carry passengers and freight. This was the company’s first transatlantic link.
During the war, 9,027 airplanes were ferried across the Atlantic to Allied fighter, bomber, and maritime patrol and transportation squadrons. In September 1945, transatlantic flights had become routine operations.
He was on a flight assignment in the Bahamas when his plane was lost.
He is buried at the Nassau R.A.F. Cemetery in New Providence, Nassau in the East Plot, Row B grave 7.
The grave has the following inscription.
There is a link
Death cannot sever,
Love and Remembrance
Last for ever
The slideshow displayed above includes all of the documents that I have found related to this soldier’s death. Click on the arrows on either side of the picture to move to the next picture or wait as it will change on its own. This slideshow may include a copy of his page in the Canadian Book of Remembrance; a page from the Brampton Book of Remembrance; from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission you may find a picture of this soldier’s CWGC Headstone, CWGC Certificate, CWGC War Graves Registry, CWGC Circumstance of Causality, and photos of the cemetery where he is commemorated.
Web Site Links for Service Records
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Cyril John Somerville was part of the Royal Air Force Command and is not considered to be a Canadian War Dead but part of the British Air Force.
Book of Remembrance - Second World War
Commonwealth War Grave Commission – Find War Dead
Find A Grave
The War Grave Photographic Project
St. Thomas Times Journal June 7 1943, Page 12 C7
Died - RO Cyril John Somerville, 21 years, son of E. G. Somerville