An RCAF Memorial Cross; Lost off Pembrokeshire Coast 1943
An RCAF Memorial Cross; Lost off Pembrokeshire Coast 1943 - George VI (SGT. AIR BOMBER L.A. PINCHESS R88005). Naming is officially engraved. Dark patina, extremely fine. Accompanied by copies of his Attestation Paper, Service Records, Student Academic Reports, Casualty Report, Province of Nova Scotia Death Certificate, Estates Branch Document, Statement of Service in the Canadian Armed Forces and various correspondence, along with an RCAF file photograph of Pinchess in uniform (black and white, illustrating an Observer's Wing on his breast, 101 mm x 151 mm). Footnote: Leslie Austin Pinchess was born in Brampton, Ontario on January 3, 1923, the son of Lancelot Pinchess and Lillian May Pinchess (nee Ison) of Toronto, Ontario (formerly of Leicester, England, later Halifax, Nova Scotia). His father was a Leather Worker by trade and served in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. He had one brother, R.270035 Leading Aircraftman Howard Pinchess, at No. 1 "Y" Depot, Lachine, Quebec and one sister, Marjory Pinchess of Halifax. He later married Marjorie Joan Pinchess (nee Cassman of New Toronto) and had no children. Pinchess was educated at John English Public School in Mimico, Ontario (1930-1937, completing Grade 8), at Mimico High School (1937-1939, completing Grade 10) and at Nova Scotia Technical School (1940-1941, completing Grade 11). His interests included rugby, baseball, hockey, skiing, fencing, hunting, fishing and model building. Pinchess had four months' previous experience as a shipping clerk with Maritime Furriers in Halifax (September to December 1940) and listed his occupation as Student when he signed his RCAF Attestation Paper on January 8, 1941 at the RCAF Recruiting Centre in Halifax. His desire was to be an Airframe Mechanic (metal), having previously studied at home from books on Aeronautics and Mechanics. He began his RCAF career as an Aircraftman 2nd Class on January 23rd, before being transferred to No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto, Ontario two days later. Although he had other aspirations, and upon assessment by RCAF staff, it was determined that he would best be suited as an Air Bomber. Over the next two plus years, he saw postings throughout Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, including: to the Technical Training School at St. Thomas, Ontario, to the Conversion Training Squadron at Picton, Ontario (where he was named an Aircraftman 1st Class on October 25, 1941), to RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario (where he was named an Leading Aircraftman on July 1, 1942), to No. 3 Initial Training School in Victoriavile, Quebec (where his Report on Pupil Air Observers recorded excellent marks and described his character: "Quick in replies. Good natured and happy. Keen and confident. Above average material. A good solid dependable type.", stating an alternative recommendation of employment as an Air Bomber), to No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School at Jarvis, Ontario, to No. 10 Air Observer School in Chatham, New Brunswick (where he ran afoul of the authorities, charged with "Neglect to Obey Standing Orders / Breaking Out of Barracks" on February 6, 1943 and sentenced to three days "C.B." (confined to barracks); his instructors noting in his records that he "failed to keep up with the class. Remustered as Air Bomber and posted to No. 5 M.D. Recommended to begin Air Bomber Course at AOS" and that he was "Keen, quiet, reliable, worked hard. Average Bomber Aimer and Gunner 26/29."), to No. 5 Military Depot at Lachine, Quebec, to No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario (for four weeks, from March 8 to April 5, 1943, where his bombing was "Below Average" and his gunnery was "Average", named Temporary Sergeant and awarded an Air Bomber's Badge on the final day), to No. 1 "Y" Depot in Halifax (April 20, 1943), and finally, to No. 17 Depot RAF, Training Pool (May 26, 1943, the last stop in his preparation for overseas service). He arrived in the United Kingdom on June 4, 1943 and assigned to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre. He was transferred to No. 5 Air Observer School on June 29th, before being posted five weeks later to No. 23 Operational Training Unit at Pershore on August 3rd, as part of an Air Bomber Special Group, where his character was noted as "Very Good". While serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force on air operations overseas with No. 23 Operational Training Unit, Sergeant Pinchess, was a member of a crew of six aboard a Wellington aircraft (X.3470 "D") with Hercules XI engines, carrying two practice bombs, which took off at 19.37 from the Royal Air Force Station at Pershore, Worcestershire on a night training exercise (practice cross country flight). The crew included five airmen from the RCAF: R.88005 Sergeant Leslie Austin Pinchess (Air Bomber), C.17965 Pilot Officer William Homer Fuller (Pilot), J.23112 Flying Officer Frederick John Sydney Guppy (Navigator), J.23490 Flying Officer Angus Fyfe Bell (Navigator), R.184379 Sergeant Allan Joseph Copegog (Air Gunner) and one airman from the RAF: 1509809 Sergeant Leslie Hockey (Wireless Air Gunner). The direction finding station at Sealand transmitted a fix at a 21.35 and the Wellington was more or less on course for its turning point at the Skerries. Nothing further was heard, but the crew of another aircraft from No. 1 Group, operating off the Pembrokeshire coast, reported seeing a Wellington falling into the sea. This crew immediately commenced searching for possible survivors, but were unsuccessful. They were reported missing and presumed dead in a flying accident over the Irish Sea on October 2, 1943, when they did not return to base, the scheduled arrival time to be 1.20 on the 3rd. In the Report of Flying Accident, dated October 6, 1943, it was noted that the "Aircraft did not return from a night cross country." It went on to document the events of that fateful night: "Aircraft took off on night cross country at 19.37 hours the rout being Base-Ostone-Alscott-Skarries-Fishguard-Base. W/T contact was maintained normally, last fix being given by Sealand at 21.35 which put the aircraft more or less on its turning point at Skerries. It is assumed that the aircraft was lost over the sea and although a search was carried out by 23 O.T.U. and by 10 Group no trace was found." It was determined that "A further report will be rendered if and when any news of the aircraft becomes available. It is not considered that an investigation will serve any useful purpose as no material witnesses are available." A report was later filed by No. 1 Group and stated "that a 1 Group aircraft at 20000 feet on night of 2nd Oct saw an aircraft hit sea at 2237 hours position 51 Degs 20'N 05 Degs 10'W 30 miles south of a beacon flashing BZ. This proves to have been Wattisham (Norfolk) but Talbenny was flashing DZ. The two references tally closely putting the aircraft some 25 miles south of Milford Haven. 10 Group immediately organised search by four Wellingtons from Haverford West." Pinchess had almost completed his training at No. 23 OTU and would have been posted to an Operational Squadron soon. He died at the age of 20 and is remembered with honour on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 186. During the Second World War more than 116,000 men and women of the Air Forces of the British Commonwealth gave their lives in service. More than 17,000 of these were members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, or Canadians serving with the Royal Air Force. Approximately one-third of all who died have no known grave. Of these, 20,450 are commemorated by name on the Runnymede Memorial, which is situated at Englefield Green, near Egham, 32 kilometres by road west of London, Surrey, England. The names of the dead are inscribed on the stone reveals of the narrow windows in the cloisters and the lookouts. They include those of 3,050 Canadian airmen. Above the three-arched entrance to the cloister is a great stone eagle with the Royal Air Force motto, Per Ardua ad Astra". On each side is the inscription: "IN THIS CLOISTER ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF TWENTY THOUSAND AIRMEN WHO HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE. THEY DIED FOR FREEDOM IN RAID AND SORTIE OVER THE BRITISH ISLES AND TH LANDS AND SEAS OF NORTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE". His widow, Marjorie, filled out the Estates Branch Document and signed it on October 24, 1944 at New Toronto. Both his mother, Lillian May Pinchess and his widow, Marjorie Joan Pinchess received his Memorial Cross soon after the mishap. His mother later sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Canada in August 1983 requesting a replacement Cross, as she had lost the original one. She paid $4.50 for the replacement Cross and it was sent to her on September 23, 1983. Princhess was awarded the Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Bar and War Medal 1939-1945, which are not included with the Cross.