2nd Lieutenant William Millar Gourlay
At 11.40am, on 1st October, 1918, Second Lieutenant William Millar Gourlay, of 91st Squadron, Kenley, was killed when his Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin stalled and crashed while turning near the ground.
The accident was reported in the Dundee Evening Telegraph, 4th October, 1918..
“YOUNG FIFE AVIATOR KILLED.“
An aeroplane accident has resulted in the death in England of Second lieutenant W. M. Gourlay, R.A.F., elder son of the late Mr Robert Gourlay, N.B.R., Burntisland, and Mrs Gourlay, Dean Terrace, Edinburgh. No details are yet at hand as to how the young aviator met his death. He was 19 years of age, and before joining the service was in the office of Branch of the National Bank of Scotland. He was a nephew Mr Arthur Gourlay, stationer, Leven.
Second Lieutenant William Millar Gourlay was born on 19 September 1899, the eldest son of Robert Robertson Gourlay, a railway clerk, who died when he was about nine years old, and his wife Helen Murdoch Gourlay. He had a brother called David.
In May 1914, aged 14, he went to work for National Bank of Scotland as an apprentice at its Burntisland branch in Fife. At some point, William left the bank to go on Military service, but the details of his service remain obscure, prior to his fatal crash during a training flight.
A No.91 squadron had been formed in September 1917, but the number was reallocated to a Fighter squadron being formed in July 1918. They were to be equipped with Sopwith Dolphins, but hostilities ended before they became operational and the squadron eventually disbanded in July 1919, having spent most of their time at Kenley.
William Gourlay is buried in Caterham and Warlingham Burial Ground. Grave ref: B.175. He is also remembered on the National Bank of Scotland WW1 Memorial, Couper United Free Church Memorial and Dunfermline’s Great War Memorial.
Rest in peace William, and thank you for your service.