16/17 December 1943: Deverill & the RAF Wyton Display

Squadron Leader Ernest Alfred Deverill was killed in a catastrophic crash at RAF Station Graveley in the early hours of the morning, 17 December 1943.

At the end of 2017, the RAF Pathfinders Archive bought the Deverill Collection, consisting of documents, photographs and his medals, to ensure that the Collection would not go into private hands and possibly end up being sold off in separate parts.

Some of the items in the Deverill Collection. Above: Ernest Deverill’s aircraft Y-York, after the Augsburg raid in April 1942. Below: telegram informing his wife of his death; the letter of condolence from 97 Squadron; RPA booklet about Ernest.

Since the Archive acquired the Deverill Collection, it has been on loan to the Heritage Centre at RAF Wyton, where it can be seen by the public, by appointment.

The display dedicated to Black Thursday at the Heritage Centre has at its heart the Deverill Collection, seen below at various different times in the arrangement of the exhibition.

There are also a number of other items on loan to the Heritage Centre connected with 16/17 December 1943, including those relating to William Colson and Charles Owen, both of whom were flying that night.

Above: the medals of William Colson, ‘Billy’, together with the little pig ‘Guinness Gutz’, marked with bombs for his operations, which was Billy’s good-luck charm. Billy was flying with the Mackenzie crew when he lost his life on 17 December 1943. Items loaned by the Colson family.

Below: Charles Owen medals and logbook, on loan from the Owen family, and the diary entry in Charles’s Ops Diary, held at the IWM in London, which relates to Black Thursday.