On 28th January 1943 22-year-old Pilot Sgt Cecil Francis Beechey 656761, a pilot with 197 Squadron RAF, was killed when the tail of his Typhoon IB DN364 broke off and the aircraft crashed in East Linton, East Lothian, Scotland. His family home was in Hall Green and he was buried at Robin Hood Cemetery, Solihull on 4th February 1943.
Cecil Francis Beechey was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1920, and was the eldest son of Cecil Augustus Beechey (1892-1966) and his wife, Maud Alice (née Cope) who had married in Edgbaston in 1919. The couple also had two younger children, Gwendoline Alice Rose Beechey (1922-2016) and Aubrey Leslie Beechey (1923-2018).
Cecil (senior) was a jeweller and it seems from the 1939 Register that he was also in the Territorial Reserve of Officers (a Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion Welsh Regiment). The family lived at 1544 Stratford Road, Hall Green from at least 1939 until at least 1957.
Probate records simply state that Cecil Francis Beechey died on 28th January 1943 whilst on war service. In fact, he was killed when his Typhoon aeroplane suffered a structural failure whilst he pulled out of a dive. Apparently, a design fault meant that there was a weakness in the connection of the main fuselage to the tail unit. When the aircraft was subject to severe stresses, there was a tendency for the tail to sheer off.
On 28th January 1943, Sgt Beechey took off from RAF Drem, East Lothian, at 16:15 for a 45-minute local flight in good conditions. Normal radio contact was maintained at 16:20, after which nothing further was heard from the pilot.
An eye witness reported hearing a bang at around 16:35 hours as the tail and fuselage of the aeroplane separated and the Typhoon crashed into a brick shed in Kingsburgh Gardens, East Linton, killing the pilot and a civilian, John McDonald. The plane was fuelled and fully armed and eye-witness John W. Steele described the scene as a “blazing inferno with burning fire and exploding ammunition.” (source: East Lothian at War – Air Accidents)
We have been asked by an enquirer working on a local history project if anyone has a photograph of Sgt C. F. Beechey, hence this appeal on the 80th anniversary of his death.
We know that Cecil’s brother, Aubrey, married in 1954 and that he and his wife had a son and a daughter. The family subsequently moved to Cornwall/Devon.
Cecil’s sister, Gwendoline, married Kenneth Myers in Birmingham in 1945 and they had a daughter. The family subsequently moved to Bournemouth.
If you have any further information about Cecil Beechey, please let us know.
Library Specialist: Heritage & Local Studies
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