Relatives remember RAF Peterhead pilot

Louise Kurtz, Jeff Kurtz and Jeffs partner Melanie at Longside Airfield where they remembered Sgt. William (Billy) Henry McAdam
Louise Kurtz, Jeff Kurtz and Jeffs partner Melanie at Longside Airfield where they remembered Sgt. William (Billy) Henry McAdam

Relatives of a WW2 Canadian Spitfire pilot made the journey from their home in Saskatchewan Canada recently to visit Longside airfield and fly around the same skies.

Sgt William (Billy) Henry McAdam was a pilot in 132 (City of Bombay) Squadron of the RAF, and his neice, Louise Kurtz, great nephew Jeff Kurtz and Jeff’s partner Melanie made the trip of Aberdeenshire to remember him.

Sgt McAdam was the first fatality at RAF Peterhead. He was buried on August 19, 1941 at Longside Cemetery, aged just 21, with full Military Honours.

Born to George and Estella McAdam, William was the third of five children, and came from Saskatchewan, where he, his brothers and sisters were raised on a large farm just south of Bromhead.

In 1939 he celebrated his 18th birthday, with friends, family and his girlfriend Marjorie, to whom he would later be engaged, at the family home but in Europe the storm clouds of ware were gathering and on September 1, war was declared.

In August of 1940 he enlisted in the Air Force and after completing 12th grade at the local school in Bromhead he passed his training selection and medical “as all he really wanted to do was fly”.

On August 16, was accepted in to the Air Force and from then on he would be posted to a number of Canadian Flying Training Units as his training progressed. On April 1, 1941 he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant (Paid) by which time he had been at Camp Borden for around three months.

To-date he had flown several types of training aircraft including the Tiger Moth and Harvard but it would not be long before he arrived Great Britain before learning to fly fighters

After travelling across the Atlantic on a convoy, he was posted to 53 Operational Training Unit (O.T.U) at Heston to learn to fly the Supermarine Spitfire.

On June 28, 1941 he moved to the newly formed 61 O.T.U. still at Heston learning to fly the Spitfire. On July 15, 1941, training completed, Sergeant McAdam was posted to Royal Air Force Peterhead, on the formation of a new Spitfire Squadron – 132 (City Of Bombay) under the leadership of Squadron Leader A.W.A Bayne, D.F.C.

Squadron records indicate that on August 14, flying Spitfire Mark 1 P9371 Sergeant McAdam took off on an operational scramble at 13.40, landing at 14.55 having nothing to report.

Just one day later, while flying Spitfire Mark 1, N3286, during a test flight, for which he had volunteered, he crashed and was killed north of the village of Crimond.