Wartime Heritage                                   ASSOCIATION
Mystery Flight Arthur Douglas Gavel - Royal Air Force Squadron 525 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. RAF 525 was a transport squadron and operated on routes throughout Europe.  525 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. Viscount Carlow [Carlow,  George Lionel Seymour Dawson-Damer -  Air Commodore; Service No. 90078] was on board as a passenger and was on route to visit Tito in Yugoslavia.  Others on board included the following: Gardiner, Albert G.T. (134548) 525 Squadron  RAFVR  Lamb, G. W. (53922) 525 Squadron RAF Nicklin, N.S. (145574) 525 Squadron RAFVR  Rowe, Michael K. (1383712) 525 Squadron  RAFVR  Tiley, W.G. (45766) 525 Squadron RAF  Austen, Harold C. (J/18002) 525 RAF Squadron RCAF Gavel, Arthur Douglas (J/23107) 525 Squadron RCAF  Ward, Thomas P. (Major)  Royal Army Medical Corps.   Mate, Stephen  (Canadian) also known as Maitland, Stephen (age 32)  Lt Col Ivor W Birts RA Bitts, I W (male)    Król Józef (Senior Chaplain) GÓJSKI Edmund Captain, born 25.07.1907,Skarżysko-Kamienna, Poland (Polish Courier) (buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, U.K)  Baudouin, Roger A. A. (age 47)  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. At 0240hrs, approximately two and half miles north east of Newquay, Cornwall, the plane exploded in mid-air and crashed into the English Channel. The plane sank and all on board were lost. While a number of the bodies were retrieved following the crash that of Arthur Gavel was not identified when recovered on April 24th. Derek Fowkes became interested in the crash when he was examining wartime records.  In 1944 a body was recovered from the sea and because it was not identified was buried in an unmarked grave in the Fairpark Cemetery, St Columb Minor, Cornwall, England (Plot: Grave 687). with a headstone that read, “A Sailor of the Second World War Merchant Navy - 24 April 1944 - Known Unto God”. This was the custom for unidentified bodies recovered from the sea. 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. Forty- four years later Arthur Gavel was reburied in the same plot with a Royal Air Force honour guard and a new headstone that bears his name. Arthur Gavel had family connections in the Tusket and Richfield areas of Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Fairpark Cemetery, St Columb Minor, Cornwall, England
RAF Lyneham Newquay Site of Crash
approximate locations
Return to  Story Archive
 copyright © Wartime Heritage Association 2012.- 2018 Website hosting courtesy of Register.com - a web.com company
Mystery Flight Arthur Douglas Gavel Royal Air Force Squadron 525