John Spencer Colville J29167

June 21, 1920 - September 18, 1944

John Spencer Colville John Spencer Colville John Spencer Colville John Spencer Colville John Spencer Colville John Spencer Colville John Spencer Colville

440 Squadron

John Spencer "Sandy" Colville was the son of Alexander and Annie Josephine Colville, the 1966 National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother, of Bowmanville, Ontario. He had five brothers and two sisters. He wanted to return to trapping and lumbering after the war.

He enlisted on June 6, 1942 in Toronto. "Excellent physique. Excellent air crew material. Excellent type: athletic physique, pleasant, alert and keen sense of humour. Jr Matric plus some Sr subjects 1941. Presently electric furnace operator at a foundry. Active in sports. Sr. boys champion at school meets. Capt. of Sr. high school rugby team. Well recommended by school principal. Two brothers in Air Force, one a WO (AG) and the other a F/Sergeant. Applicant is really keen to enlist and especially in Aircrew. Strong character, leadership qualities, probably above average aircrew material. Recommended. Suitable for Commission."

Between December 21 1943 and March 21, 1944, he was at No. 53 OTU. "A good average pilot, very keen indeed and very capable. Battle formation good, aerobatics and air combat very good. Flying discipline and airmanship very good. Low level bombing. 16 bombs average error 65 yards. A good officer and typical Squadron type who should fit in well."

F/L Jenvey wrote up the report about the accident to Typhoon 1B MN929. "At 1525 hours on 18 August 1944, the formation took off on a straffing trip. F/O Colville was White 2 and I was White 3. After flying for approximately 15 minutes, transport were reported below us. We did an orbit to starboard and due to the fact that I was flying on the right-hand side, I dropped back into No. 2 position and F/O Colville into No. 3. Just as No. 1 was attacking, I called White 2 to go in ahead but he returned saying he would follow me. We attacked two motorized vehicles which were destroyed and broke hard to port. As I pulled up, I saw F/O Colville surrounded by flak. He flew just long enough to finish a turn. Upon straightening out, his aircraft went into a steep dive and crashed in an orchard. F/O Colville baled out just as the aircraft went into the dive. His parachute streamed behind him but failed to open and he landed a very short distance from the crashed aircraft. I circled the parachute but could see no movement, then climbed up and reported the accident to White 1 and returned to base."

Colville's body was located by Canadian Army troops near Perriers, northeast of Falaise, France, believed parachute failed to fully open during descent from low altitude. Identified by identification tags.

Colville's brothers, William and Alexander died while serving with the RCAF. William: May 6, 1942 and Alexander: March 16, 1944.

Mrs. Colville wrote a letter to Robert Leckie, Air Marshall, in August or September 1944. "Dear Sir, Your very lovely expression of sympathy received. Please accept my most heartfelt thanks. Your letter meant a great deal to me, a gentleman of your type, who has so much experience and know what the boys go through. I am grief stricken, knowing that I have lost so much, the three were so fine and my husband, who passed away, the parting is indeed terrific, all in such a short time. I will ask, if you will, please read the clippings. I am a very proud mother. In the past three years, I have had many RAF boys and others who have spent their weekends or any time for rest from No. 20 EFTS, Oshawa, they still write me beautiful letters and call me Mom. F/L George Hurrew of Oshawa, has mentioned often, how the boys love to come. I did this as many were so kind to mine overseas. Is there anything, Sir, I can do for the boys, anywhere. I do not think I can stay here, if you can offer any suggestion would be so helpful. I would be glad to send you the write up of the special mention received from his Highness, the Earl of Athlone, of any three pilots also from Vice Air Marshall A. Raymond, during Sandy's graduation at Uplands. I thank you kind Sir, for your attention and I hope I may have the pleasure of meeting you. My one wish is that Sandy could have been buried in England, maybe sometime I could have seen his grave. Very sincerely, Mrs. A. Colville."

She received a reply from AVM W. A. Curtis, dated September 29, 1944: "In the absense of AVM Leckie, I am replying to your letter to thank you most sincerely for so graciously writing and forwarding the newspaper clippings concerning your son, F/O J. S. Colville, who lost his life in action on August 18, 1944. I have read these with a great deal of interest. The contents of your letter, especially your wish to do something for those in the Air Force have been given earnest thought here. It is, however, at this distance, hard to say whether or not anything can be done. I am sure, though, that the Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Training Command, AVM A. M. Cowley, who is located at Toronto would be interested in discussing the matter with you and I have today written to him requestig that he make a special visit to see you in your home. I am sure the cherished memory of your gallant sons will always be a source of great pride to you, and the very kind hospitality that you have extended to the boys who came to your home from Oshawa will surely reap you a great reward."

More information about Colville can be found in Typhoon and Tempest on pages 63, 68, 70, 73, 179, and 186.


  • Additional photos and newspaper articles about Colville on Canadian Virtual War Memorial
  • More information about Colville on Flying For Your Life