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William Ferries Raffan

Pilot Officer William Ferries Raffan, 123593, 10 OTU, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

William Ferries Raffan was born in Scotland in 1915, the son of farmer, William Raffan and his wife, Margaret Ann. On the 28th September 1940 at South Ossett Christ Church William Ferries Raffan, a soldier of 179, Midstocket Road, Aberdeen married Margaret Cresswell, aged 24 years, a clerk of 2, Sowood Terrace, Ossett. Margaret was the daughter of engineer, Frederick and his wife, Ethel (nee Braham) Cresswell who married in the Dewsbury area in late 1905.

In 1911 the Cresswells were living at 24, Manor Road, Ossett. Frederick Cresswell, born in Blackheath, Kent was working as a rag grinder and Ossett born Ethel was a rag sorter. The couple had two children: first child, Marian, was born in late 1911 and their second child, Margaret was born in summer 1916.

No. 10 Operational Training Unit RAF or more simply No. 10 OTU was a training unit operated by the Royal Air Force. The unit was formed at RAF Abingdon on 8 April 1940 with No. 97 Squadron RAF (97 Sqn) and No. 166 Squadron RAF (166 Sqn) flying Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys to train night bomber crews. During 1942 10 OTU took control of an anti-submarine flight detached to St Eval and 10 OTU was transferred to No. 91 Group RAF.

Whiteley Bomber

Above: Whiteley bomber similar to the one that Pilot Officer William Ferries Raffan lost his life in.

Whiteley V bomber Z6579 left RAF St. Eval in Cornwall at 14:15 hours on the 29th October 1942 on a killer hunt against German U-Boats in the Bay of Biscay and crashed near the village of Morlaix in Brittany, north-east of Brest. Pilot Officer William F. Raffan was the second pilot of the crew of Flying Officer M.G. Grant. The outdated aircraft was no match for the Luftwaffe and it failed to return to base. It was soon reported that it was shot down over France and all six crew men had lost their lives.

In fact, the Whiteley bomber was shot down at 18:42 hours during aerial combat by a Focke-Wulf FW190 fighter piloted by Obit Armin Landmann of 8/JG2. The crew of the bomber was as follows:

Armin Landmann, who had four kills, didn't live long to enjoy his success and he was shot down and killed on the 7th November 1942 in aerial combat against an American B17 bomber near Brest.

Raffan GraveWhen Margaret Raffan received the dreadful news of her husband's death she was pregnant with their first child and living in Ossett at 24, Church Street; the home of her sister and her family. It's doubtful that William Ferries Raffan ever lived in Ossett and therefore isn't remembered on any Ossett Roll of Honour or War Memorial. However his son Ferries Anthony Raffan was born in Ossett on January 4th 1942.

Pilot Officer William F. Raffan, aged 25 years, the son of William and Margaret Ann Raffan and the husband of Margaret Raffan, of Ossett, Yorkshire, died on the 29th October 1942 and is buried at Grave 6, Taule Communal Cemetery, in the Finistere region of France. Taule is a village and commune 6 kilometres north-west of Morlaix.

The cemetery is on the northern side of the village west of the road to St. Pol-de-Leon. South (left) of the entrance, and close to the boundary wall, are the graves of five airmen of the Royal Air Force and one belonging to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

References:

1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site