JOHN WILLIAM FREDERICK PEACOCK
1920-1944

From: "T.C.S. Old Boys at War"
Published by the Old Boys Association,
Trinity College School, Port Hope, Ontario, June 1948


Peacock, John William Frederick (‘35-’38), was born March 9, 1920, at Montreal, Quebec. At T.C.S. he was a good student and showed much skill at games, in his final year winning first team colours in football, hockey and cricket. He was also a member of the first squash team. Because of his sound character and leadership ability he was made a Senior in 1937 and soon afterwards was appointed a Prefect. From T.C.S. he entered McGill University and was a member of the C.O.T.C., and a reserve officer in the Black Watch (R.H.R.) of Canada.

He was commissioned Pilot Officer in the radio branch of the R.C.A.F. in September 1911 and went overseas in October of the same year. He qualified for his Navigator wing while attached to the R.C.A.F., and late in 1942 began flying operationally with 409 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron. making sorties over the Continent in Boulton-Paul Defiants, Beaufighters and later Mosquitoes. He was promoted Flight Lieutenant early the following summer and began a navigation leaders course, at the conclusion of which he returned to his squadron. He was Mentioned in Despatches in the 1944 New Year’s Honours List and continued on operations until his aircraft was shot down on August 7, 1944. While patrolling over the Normandy beachhead about ten miles southeast of Bayeux, his aircraft was attacked by German fighters and he could not get clear before he crashed. At the time of his death, he was officially credited with destroying five enemy planes and with damaging a sixth.

Wing Commander Beveridge, his Commanding Officer, wrote of his death as follows:
 

“I cannot express in full the deep regret that my entire Squadron feel at this moment. I speak with particular feeling since I was with John until the last moment and it was he who saved my life by pushing me free from the aircraft, as we came down out of control. We were on patrol over the Beach Head during the early hours of August 7 when we were suddenly attacked by fighters. John gave me the warning as they attacked; hut before I could take avoiding action. we had been hit and were out of control----our tail had been cut off. 

We immediately set about getting clear of the aircraft in the conventional manner which is out of the side. Apparently John was having difficulty, for when I asked him what was wrong, he only replied that he couldn’t jettison the door. Accordingly I immediately jettisoned the hatch in the roof directly over my head and tried to get clear; however, I found myself stuck half-in, half-out at the last minute, not being able to clear myself through my own efforts. I suddenly came clear. 

The only explanation I can give is that John, unable to get his hatch open, decided that one of us at least should get out and came to my rescue. unselfishly abandoning hope for himself, and pushed me from behind. My parachute opened just in time, as I hit the ground a minute later. Thus John had no time to follow me, and was killed instantly when the aircraft crashed about fifteen yards from me.”


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