Pilot Officer Frank Cooper McWilliams
Frank Cooper McWiliams was born on the 23rd April 1922 in Nokomis, Saskatchewan. He was the son of William McWilliams, an Irishman, and Mary, his wife, who was English.
They lived in Burnaby, British Columbia. Frank worked for his Dad as a clerk during holidays and left school in 1940. He played basketball and ice hockey as well as enjoying skiing and sailing. Shortly after leaving school, he joined the Army, serving in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, where he qualified to drive a truck in May 1941.
He obviously had his eye on something a bit more powerful because in June 1941, Frank applied for the RCAF, was accepted for pilot training, and got his wings on the 10th April 1942. In May 1942 he arrived in Britain and joined 402 squadron in November of that year. He arrived at 403 squadron sometime around the 21st March 1943, and was scrambled with them for the first time on the evening of the 24th March.
He christened his Spitfire ‘McWillie’s Dilly’ and was, according to Flight Lieutenant MacDonald, an excellent pilot and a popular officer.
McWilliams was shot down and killed, in Spitfire IX, LZ899, over the Le Touquet area, on 20th June, 1943, when 403 and 421 squadrons took part in Circus 313, a heavily escorted bombing raid.
The primary purpose of these offensives was to lure enemy fighters up for a brawl and they certainly got one this time. 403’s Blue section became separated from their squadron and soon found themselves in trouble. Sgt. Windsor was hit and seen with smoke pouring from his aircraft. P/O Elliott had oxygen trouble and the section was forced to a lower altitude, as he struggled for air. Despite their efforts to stay with him, Elliot was lost in thin cloud and probably never recovered from his dive. The two remaining members of Blue section were now vulnerable, turned for the coast but soon found themselves under attack from 20 FW190s. P/O McWilliams got hit and was last seen in a spin with a gaggle of enemy aircraft following him down. F/L MacDonald was the only member of Blue section to make it back unscathed.
Frank Cooper McWilliams was 21 years old when he died and lies at rest in Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. The inscription on his grave reads:
“LOVED AND REMEMBERED ALWAYS”
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.