IVOR SCARLETT CAMPBELL GALBRAITH

Flying Officer, Squadron 175, Royal Air Force

Born in Jamaica on 29th July 1918.  Died near Swindon, England on 5th January, 1943

Ivor Scarlett Campbell Galbraith was born at his aunt's house, Richmond Hill, in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica, on the 29th July, 1918.  He left Jamaica to serve as a pilot in the RAF during World War II.   On January 5th, 1943 he was killed when his Hurricane Hawker aircraft crashed into a hillside near Swindon during bad weather.  He was 24 years old.

I am indebted to Jonathon Hobbs of Wroughton, England for most of the information on this site.  Thank you, Jonathan, for your detailed research on Ivor's activities as a Flying Officer in the RAF.

This is how Ivor's story has unfolded, letter by letter:

16 June 2007
Dear Wendy,
 
I hope I have E-mailed the right person and that the name above means something to you!  My name is Jonathan Hobbs and I live in the United Kingdom at a village called Wroughton. I have been researching a couple of second World War aircraft crashes near where I live and one of them involved Pilot Officer Ivor Scarlett Campbell Galbraith. Ivor is buried in the local churchyard in Wroughton and was killed in a Hawker Hurricane aircraft on 5th January 1943 about 8 miles from Wroughton. Using the Commonwealth War Graves website, it seems Ivor came from Runaway Bay originaly. I've found reference to Ivor on the 'Halls of Jamaica' Website and using the family tree, I hope in yourself I have found one of his relatives! If you are related to Ivor and are willing to contact me, then I would be delighted to hear from you.
 
Kind regards from England
Jonathan Hobbs
 
* * * * *
 
Hello, Jonathan

Yes, you have found the right personIvor was my uncle.  My mother, Marjorie Hope [Galbraith] Lee is still alive and lives in Vancouver, BC.  She’s 86.  I live at Seven Oaks – the house where she was born – and I am the genealogist of the family!

When my Uncle Ivor crashed near Wroughton he was flying a plane that had been specially modified for his legs, badly damaged when he was shot down some time before – I don’t know the exact date.  After several months of recuperation, determined to resume his duties, a plane was fitted out for him and he went back on duty… a fatal decision.

Wendy

* * * * *

17 June 2007
Hello Wendy
 
Thanks again for the interesting information on your Uncle, it sounds as if he had similar experiences to the famous Douglas Bader. Did he have false legs like Bader do you know?
 
I started off a year or so ago researching a Vickers Wellington bomber which came down at a place called Liddington Hill near Swindon, Wiltshire, which was about a mile from my mother's home. She was only nine at the time, but can remember the crash and the resulting fire. I was told the story many times and last year decided to research it. It culminated this year with me meeting with the brother and nephew of the co-pilot (who was the only one killed) at the crash site on the anniversary of the crash. Although I'm still researching the Wellington, I decided to start researching another aircraft which came down a mile or so from the Wellington. This turned out to be your Uncle's aircraft and it was a complete surprise to find he was buried in my local churchyard at Wroughton.
 
Ivor was flying a Hawker Hurricane IIb fighter-bomber of 175 Squadron. Although basically a fighter aircraft, it was fitted with a bomb (250lb I think) under each wing, these were known as 'Hurribombers'. 175 Squadron were tasked mainly with attacking airfields, shipping and light armour concentrations. At the time of the accident, 175 sqdn were based at Gatwick airport and they were only there for less than a month over christmas 1942. Incidentally, another pilot of the squadron was killed tragically around this time when he fell into a ditch when drunk and died of his injuries (must have been some ditch!).
 
I found reference on the London Gazette archive to Ivor being given a temporary commision on 3rd July 1941 (from Leading Aircraftsman to Pilot Officers). I assume this is when he may have started his flying training on fighters as opposed to basic training. 175 Squadron didn't come into being until 3rd March 1942, so he must have been attached to another Squadron in between those times.
 
His aircraft crashed, as you know, on the 5th January 1943 whilst on a cross country flight (assumedly back to Gatwick from somewhere). It crashed at a place called Fox Hill Stud Farm. I know the area of Fox Hill, but I'm not sure yet where the Stud Farm was/is. The aircraft is reported to have crashed at Wroughton (approx 8 miles from Fox Hill) but I think that as Wroughton had the nearest large RAF Airfield, this is probably where news of the crash was circulated from.
 
I did also find a scanned copy of a Transit Manifest for Ivor on an ancestry website, which gives details of a ship which he sailed on from St Johns called the Crawford Ellis to New York and details of another ship he was going to board called the SS Quirigua(?). This took place around the end of 1938.
 
I did visit Ivor's grave a couple of weeks ago and took a couple of pictures. I have also recently asked the RAF Museum at Hendon, London for copies of the accident card for the aircraft. This (depending on who filled it out) usually gives details of the crash, location etc. Hopefully these will be here in the next week or so. I do need to plan a visit to the National Records Office at Kew in London in the near future for research on the Wellington and hopefully I'll be able to find some more information there from the 175 Squadron records. Once the Accident records come through, I can scan and send them to you.
 
Please keep in touch
Kind regards
Jonathan

* * * * *

17 June 2007

Jonathan,

 All of this is most interesting!  I would be glad of any records/photos you can find.  So much genealogical information comes to us by chance – but the Internet is a great resource.  A few years ago (2004), some friends of mine (an elderly couple) had a house guest - the childhood friend of the wife. They had grown up in the same village in England.  This visitor, George May, in his eighties, had been a communications specialist in the war.  We got chatting about my Uncle Ivor, and when George went back to England he arranged to get a copy of Ivor’s Certificate of Entry of Death and send it to me.  He also sent two snapshots of the grave - much appreciated.  And now you are also on Uncle Ivor’s trail.  What I should do is try to find some old timers who knew him here when he was growing up, and write down their accounts.  I am so sad that I never knew him.  My mother says he was full of fun and got on well with everyone, rode his horse all around the place and had good friends at every level of the society (which was unusual in those colonial days). 

I don’t know if he had false legs, I think perhaps shortened legs.  I didn’t hear of him being paralysed, but then, maybe the full story was not told.

I have a newspaper clipping from the Daily Gleaner of November 17, 2004 –  “On this day in our past…”  – and for 1942 there is this entry:

Leading aircraftsman Douglas Roberts of Jamaica [we knew him] is posted to the crew of the Jamaica Squadron of the Royal Air Force.  The Squadron of 12 fighter planes was paid for from contributions made by Jamaicans in all walks of life.  And the following Jamaicans are promoted in the Royal Air Force:  Pilot Officer Ivor L. S. Galbraith to Flying Officer, Captain D. B. Harrel to Major, Pilot Officer E. S. Kennedy to Flying Officer and Pilot Officer J. L. Ramson to Flying Officer.

What I’d really like to find out about is the earlier crash.  I wonder how one would trace that?  My mother says that Ivor’s first crash was actually in England, though his plane had been shot up across the Channel somewhere.  He had managed to get back over England before crashing.  It was a Swedish farmer who pulled him from the wreckage a few moments before the plane exploded.  Mummy didn’t recall any contact between our family and this person, or ever knowing his name.  But this will make it easier to find out about the first crash, I’m sure.

Till next time,

Wendy

* * * *
18 June 2007
Hello Wendy
 
Thank you for your last E-mail and the information on ISCG, sounds like he was a really nice chap.  It would be great if some of the older people around your area still remember him, it sounds as if they'd have some stories to tell!
 
As for tracing details of the earlier crash, there are two possible routes that I know of:
 
One is going through the 175 Squadron station records which are held at Kew in London. I am hoping to get there a bit later on this year to look for more info on the other aircraft I'm researching, so I could look at the records well I'm there.
 
The other option is to contact the RAF Records branch at RAF Innsworth to obtain a copy of Ivor's service record. I'm not exactly sure what these contain, but I guess they'd record promotions, hospitalisation, transfers etc. These are usually provided free to the next-of -kin, but I'm pretty sure they would provided them to you. I think you write to them providing name, rank, number, squadron etc. and then they send you a form to fill in. Once returned, they will then provide the records. This being Britain, its usually just a double sided A3 page apparently. The Australian Airforce provide something like a 30 page document complete with photograph!
 
[See information in right column about applying for personnel records, excerpts taken from http://www.worldwar2exraf.co.uk]
 
18 June 2007
Wendy
 
Attached are 2 pages from the London Gazette which state Ivor's commision to Pilot Officer. I also have the transit manifest which I mentioned before, I have done a transcript of it to try and dechipering the writing. I'll scan this in at some point and forward these to you as you maybe able to recognise some of the other wording on there.

 

I have found an address for a stud farm at Foxhill today, called Ridgeway Stables. It's possible that this may be the Stud farm where the aircraft reportedly came down. I might write to them and see if they are aware of anything on their land.< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">

 

One thing I'd like to ask is do you have a photo of Ivor? It would be nice to put a face to the name.

 
Best wishes
Jonathan

 

Jonathan, I have a very small black and white (aged to light brown) photo of Ivor on his bike.  It is in an old frame and is glued to the mat.  I have just taken it out of the frame and scanned it – see attached.  My mother has a better one, I know, but this will have to do for now.

Hello Wendy
 
Thank you very much for the copy of the photo. On the Transit manifest (which I'll scan and send through later on today) it describes Ivor as being 6 foot in height with Brown hair and Blue eyes. I can imagine he he was quite a ladies man, especially in uniform!
 
I know you mentioned your mother was born at Seven Oaks, has this always been the family home?
 
Kind Regards
Jonathan
19 June 2007

Hi, Jonathan

My grandfather acquired Sevenoaks (the more common spelling in our family, actually) in 1898.  He also had < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">Greencastle, 112 acres in the hills above Runaway Bay, where they lived for the most part.  My grandparents moved to Sevenoaks in 1920 after the death of their little boy, Stewart, to get away from all the sad reminders.

My mother (Marjorie Hope) was born in February, 1921.  I am not sure how long they lived there after that – in fact, it’s been one of my great disappointments that I don’t have a ‘timeline’ of my grandparents’ residences.  My grandfather worked for the United Fruit Company and they did live in various places – Garlands (St. James), Port Antonio (Portland), Greencastle and Sevenoaks (St. Ann).  There are boxes of old papers at the house in Vancouver, some of which might shed light on these matters.  For example, we know from my father’s research, that Sevenoaks was built in 1720 by a Mr. Allen.  In the 1800s my great grandmother’s sister was married to a Mr. Allen, probably from the same family, and probably the link to the acquisition of Sevenoaks by my grandfather (her nephew).  But I have not followed up all of this speculation due to distance and time constraints.

Wendy

* * * * *
Hi Wendy
 
Thank you for the further information on your family and their various homes. This certainly fits in with some of the information on the Transit manifest. Port Antonio is mentioned and one of the ships Ivor travelled on (The Quirigua) belonged to the United Fruit Company. The info on Ivor's other accident is intriguing, I can't imagine there are/were many Swedish farmers in Britain!
 
Attached is the Transit Manifest and a copy of my transcription of it (not fully complete). There are some bits that I can't make out, Ivor's occupation for instance. It looks like it is Rock......something or other? Another section looks like it says Faith? The written answer looks like Irish possibly?? Anyway, see if you can work some of it out, as it is quite difficult to read!
 
There are 2 ships mentioned, The Crawford Ellis and the Quirigua (on the back). The Quirigua as I mentioned belonged to the United Fruit Company and certainly did cruises of the Carribean from New York. The Crawford Ellis was a Norwegian registered boat, carrying Bananas etc. from Jamaica to New York etc. During wartime, it had a Norwegian crew and, interestingly, 2 Jamaican crew members by the name of Foster on board. Perhaps Ivor worked on this boat on his trip to America in 1938?
I've attached pictures of the 2 ships as well, although the 'Quirigua' picture could possibly be its sister ship (they were identical) as its impossible to make out the name on the bow.
 
Best wishes
Jonathan
 

Jonathan, could occupation be ‘Packing plant’, as in bananas?  (I will ask my mother).  Many Galbraiths came to Jamaica from Ireland.  Could this be ‘Birth’ – a euphemistic way of indicating family origins rather than religion?  Or maybe there is an Irish faith?

Wendy

* * * * *
Wendy, thanks for the corrections. I think you are right, it is 'Birth' and the occupation could certainly be 'Packing plant'.   With regard to your grandparents working for the United Fruit Company, did they grow fruit on their land for export??
 
Many thanks
Jonathan
 

Jonathan, my grandfather’s job with the UF Company had to do with supervising plantations of bananas and (in Port Antonio) their shipping operations.  They did not grow / sell bananas as far as I know.

Wendy

* * * * *
22 June 2007
Hi Wendy
 
I found these 2 pictures of a Hurricane Mk IIb on the Internet yesterday. It is similar to the one which Ivor was flying when he crashed.

This particular aircraft, BE 485, belonged to 402 Squadron (a Canadian squadron). When 175 Squadron, to which Ivor was attached, was formed in the early part of 1942, they took over 402 Squadron's Hurricanes. It's just possible that Ivor would have known or even flown, this particular aircraft. I have a list of the aircraft that arrived at Gatwick (December 1942) shortly before Ivor was killed, but this aircraft isn't one of them. Of course it may well have been lost in action before then. Hopefully the records at Kew will come up with the answer!

Jonathan

1 July 2007
Hi again Wendy
 
Attached is the Movement card for Ivor's Hurricane. These give the units and dates that the aircraft was sent to for active service or repair. It may not look much, but it's quite interesting! First one is 15MU (Maintenance Unit) on 21/5/42...This one's interesting because 15MU was RAF Wroughton! Wroughton was a large airfield which accepted aircraft straight from the factories and fitted them out with modifications / armaments, etc. before they went to their flying squadrons. The airfield is also where I have worked for the past 23 years, although it hasn't been in RAF use since 1972. On 3/6/42, it went to 175 Squadron on active duty (this would have been at RAF Warmwell in Dorset). 7th July it went to 52MU (Andover) possibly for repair, and then to London Docks, where it was shipped to 47MU at RAF Sealand near Liverpool. Sealand was a packing unit, which crated aircraft to be sent on overseas duties. This is also interesting, because during July 1942, 175 squadron was told to expect a move overseas. This order was cancelled and the squadron stayed at RAF Warmell. As you can see on the 28th July, the aircraft arrived back at 175 Squadron. I did wonder whether the aircraft was modified for Ivor when it went to 52MU, which would put his first crash at the early to mid part of 1942 maybe?
 
At the top left hand corner is "Bomber", which seems a strange thing to have written on the form. The Hurricane IIB statement would already identify it has a Fighter-Bomber variant. Another possibility I thought of is that many aircraft were 'Presentation' aircraft, from towns, cities here and abroad. The aircraft were given all manner of different names and I wonder whether this particular aircraft was simply called "Bomber"
 
Anyway, it's easy to speculate!
 
Best wishes
Jonathan
 

Dear Jonathan,

This is fascinating information.  I would never be able to decipher this form.  My mother always said Ivor crashed near the big white horse on a hill near Swindon – it is very strange and sad to be looking at the picture of that hill.  The death certificate confirms Russley Park as place of death (George May, who sent it to me, thought it might be Rossley, but evidently Russley is correct).

Could Ivor have been on a mission that involved crossing the Channel?  We’d always heard that he was returning from across the Channel.  Maybe that was true just for the first crash.

Once again, thanks for doing all of this research and sharing it with us.  I wish my father could have known this (he died a year ago) – he was the main family researcher of both sides of the family.  It’s now left to me to continue.  I shall have to print up all your letters and the pictures and mail them to my Mum – she does not use or have a computer.

Bye for now - Wendy

* * * * *
7 August 2007
Hi Wendy
 
Apologies for not being in contact for a while, but I've been waiting for the information to arrive from Kew. I ordered up what was supposedly all records having references of Ivor's name in the 175 Sqn Operations Record Book. I have received some 27 pages dating from early November 1942 to January 1943, when he died. The first reference to him is on the 6th November, when he returned from leave. As far as I'm concerned, if he returned from leave, he must have gone on leave at some point! Therefore, I'm sure there must be more documents regarding Ivor than those Kew have sent through.
 
You mention in one of your previous E-mails that you believed the aircraft he was killed in, BP705, had been modified because of his legs. In the Records though, it shows that he flew quite a number of different Hurricanes during the last couple of months of his life. I guess it's possible that the modification may have been transferable from one aircraft to another.
 
I have attached a couple of pictures of a Hurricane which appeared in a magazine called Flypast, which I bought (by pure coincidence!) on the same day the records arrived. The aircraft is Hurricane BE-417, which is in the pictures during its time with 402 Squadron RCAF. When 175 Squadron was formed, it took over 402 Squadrons aircraft, including this one. Well, a quick check in the records show that Ivor actually flew this very aircraft on 12th, 13th and 14th of December 1942! Also, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight had it's Hurricane painted up as this particular aircraft some 10 years ago, again in 402 Sqdn colours.
 
The entry for 11th January 1943 (Ivor's funeral) reads:
No Flying again Today, the weather being still bad. The C.O.  F/Lt. Murchie and P/O Peacock went to Wroughton to attend  F/O Galbraith's funeral to see him on his last journey. We shall miss him very much.
 
All the records are in A3 size at present, so what I'll try and do is reduce them down to A4 and scan them in. I'll then send the relevant ones through on E-mail.
 
You may remember that I mentioned a book written by Derek Stevenson, who flew with 175 Squadron. Well, I've just ordered a copy, as Ivor flew with him in the same flight. Hopefully this may add some further light on Ivor's flying exploits.
 
Best wishes for now,
Jonathan
 
TO BE CONTINUED

 

This page was created in memory of my Uncle Ivor, my mother's brother, who I never had the privilege of knowing.  It is dedicated to all the brave men and women of the Colonies who gave their lives for Britain, and to their families and friends left to mourn their loss.

- Wendy Lee, August 2007

Ivor on his bike in Jamaica. Photo taken ca. 1938 by Ivor's sister, Mollie Galbraith Gick.

* * *

Ivor ca. 1941

* * *

Ivor in late 1942, at RAF Harrowbeer in Devon.  The aircraft is a Boulton & Paul Defiant of 276 Squadron.   Photo contributed by Jerry Brewer.

 

Transit manifest SS Quiriga, December 1938.

SS Quirigua (above) and SS Crawford Ellis (below)

London Gazette  of August 1941 with record of  Ivor's temporary commission as Pilot Officer, 3rd July 1941     (click to enlarge image)

 

 

Photos below by Jonathan Hobbs. 

Church at Wroughton.

"The area he is buried in is very quiet and secluded - a lovely spot. In the wide view of headstones, Ivor's is the white one at the back, just to the left of the tree." 

Ivor's grave.

The entry in the 175 Sqn Operations Record Book for 11th January 1943 (Ivor's funeral) reads:

"No Flying again Today, the weather being still bad. The C.O.  F/Lt. Murchie and P/O Peacock went to Wroughton to attend  F/O Galbraith's funeral to see him on his last journey. We shall miss him very much. "
 

Crash report (pages 1 and 2) 

APPLYING FOR RAF PERSONNEL RECORDS:

Write to:  

PMA(Sec)1b(RAF)
Room 5, Building 248A,
RAF Personnel Management Agency
Raf Innsworth
Gloucester GL3 1EZ

The PMA do not have a website or contact telephone number and all correspondence must be forwarded by letter.

TIPS ON HOW TO APPLY FOR RECORDS:
1. If you know the service number of the person then quote it in your correspondence.
2. Give the Full name of the person, with the dates served in the RAF if known.
3. Give your relationship to the person in regard to the records you are applying for (you may have to send proof of your relationship).
4. Send a copy of the death certificate of the person (if you have one, along with copies of any relevant papers such as release certificate etc. Do not send the actual documents. A photocopy is sufficient.
5. If applying on behalf of the widow or widower of that person then send copies as above plus a copy of the marriage certificate.

Be patient as it can take up to 6 weeks or more to receive personnel records.

 LINK to an example of RAF personnel records (click image):

Service Records

INFORMATION SHOWN ON  PERSONNEL RECORDS:

Typically the service records (form 543) are shown on 2 pages of A3, photocopied from the original which are kept with the PMA. Don't be surprised that on receiving the service records you find it not as you expected, with everything laid out in a neat type written document and easy to understand. Most of the information is added throughout the service life of the individual and hand written in abbreviated form, which can sometimes be hard to understand. It is just a matter of trying to find out what the abbreviations mean (not an easy task in some cases). We do have some of the more common acronyms listed on our 'abbreviations page', but this is by no means complete, although we do try and add to them as and when we receive new ones.

Source: http://www.worldwar2exraf.co.uk

* * *

Hurricane Mk IIb

Hurricane BE 485

Ivor might have flown this aircraft

Movement Card for Ivor's plane (click to enlarge)

* * *

Hurricane BE417:  Ivor flew this plane on December 12th, 13th and 14th, 1942