Sergeant Peter Straiton was the elder son of Peter and Janet Davidson Straiton of Cray Cottage, Glenshee. Educated at Blackwater School and Blairgowrie High School, he was then employed as a gardener at The Cairnies, Glenalmond. He was a member of a dance band and the local ATC Straiton joined the RAF about 18 months before he was killed in an aircraft accident in Devon.
At 16.50 hours on 15 November 1944, Handley Page Halifax Mk. II JP201 of RAF 1666 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit) took off from RAF Wombelton, north of York, to carry out a night cross-country flight exercise. Flying over Devon it collided with Handley Page Halifax LL137 of RAF 1664 HCU.
Both aircraft crashed near Morchard Bishop, between Exeter and Barnstable in Mid Devon. Only one of the crews survived: Sergeant Harold Pugh who was thrown clear when the aircraft crashed. Pugh was later killed during an air operation over the North Sea with RAF 640 Squadron six months later (18 April 1945).
The crew members of Halifax JP201 were:
Pilot Officer Harold Kenneth Pugh (415916), pilot, age 24
Sergeant Alfred Edwin Ackcral (RAFVR) (1595296), flight engineer, age 21
Flight Sergeant Ian O’Connor RAAF (29520), wireless operator/air gunner, age 28
Sergeant Bertram Eric Saunders (943666) (RAFVR), air bomber, age 26
Sergeant John Edward Loos Sherwin (1583794) (RAFVR), navigator, age 29
Sergeant Peter Straiton (1825366) (RAFVR), air gunner, age 19
Straiton is buried in Blairgowrie Cemetery. A permanent stone memorial to the crews that were killed was erected in November 1994 in the village square in Morchard Bishop, Devon.
Pugh was killed six days before RAF 640 Squadron’s last mission. This mission – 18/19 April 1945 – was to bomb, Whitton, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, the home of the Ruhrstahl steelworks and Mannesmann tube factory.
Research by Ken Bruce
Handley Page Halifax II Series IA bombers at dispersal, with a Bristol Beaufighter at right. Halifax II JP201 is pictured in the foreground. This image created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain, source Wikimedia Commons.
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: HANDLEY PAGE HP.57 HALIFAX. (CH 10649) Halifax B Mark II Series 1, R9430 ?19?, of No. 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit based at Riccall, Yorkshire, being test-flown on the starboard inner engine only by Squadron Leader P Dobson in order to determine the height loss for emergency flights on one engine. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126970
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BOMBER COMMAND (CH 11528) A sergeant on flying control duty reports in as a Halifax V of No 1663 HCU comes in to land at Holme-on-Spalding Moor, 21 October 1943. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218702