About Squadron Leader Bill Pentland

Bill Pentland was not the squadron leader who liked to show off…

Click here to visit a Website paying homage to him as well as pilots who were first with 111 Squadron.


Squadron Leader (Pilot) William Harry “Big Bill” Pentland DFC
(J3204)  He received his Wings from #2 Service Flying Training School at Uplands (Ottawa) in early 1940.  He was ordered to England and arrived on Christmas Eve, 1940.  On June 28, 1941, he was injured in a plane crash (head injuries) and spent a period in recovery.  By early 1942, he had been promoted to Flight Lieutenant and was named a Flight Commander in his squadron (402 Squadron). He returned to Canada and served for a time as instructor at #1 Operational Training Unit, Bagotville, Quebec.  He was appointed Squadron Leader of 111 Sqn in December, 1943, relieving his good friend since flight training days, David L. Ramsay. He took the newly re-numbered (to 440 Sqn) squadron to Europe. He remained S/L until his death on October 7, 1944. His Typhoon (Number MN 641) exploded just as he released his bombs on a railroad bombing run near Wesel, Germany. He is buried at the War Cemetery at Rheinberg, Germany. The 440 Sqn Operations Record Book, dated Oct 7, 1944, noted his last mission. “
There were three missions that day. The first  two were successful. “The third and final target proved very costly when our Officer commanding, S/L W.H. Pentland, DFC, was killed. He has only three more trips to complete his second tour of operations and his loss is deeply felt by all who worked with and knew him. The target was to dive-bomb rails at A.0758 – A.1747 in which 8 of our aircraft participated, using 16 X 500 lb 11 second delay bombs. On the bombing run S/L Pentland was seen to dive with his guns blazing and his aircraft was seen to explode after dropping his bombs. F/O Savard who followed behind was caught in the explosion and narrowly escaped spinning in….  All bombs were in target area, rails were cut and near misses scored. Weather was hazy and  smoky.” He was from Calgary, Alberta.  Photo Identification Confidence Level: 1 Confirmed

More information here.


4 thoughts on “About Squadron Leader Bill Pentland

  1. About F/O Savard

    F/O Savard who followed behind was caught in the explosion and narrowly escaped spinning in….

    SAVARD, F/L Joseph George Ernest (J20430) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.440 Squadron – Award effective 23 May 1945 as per London Gazette dated 1 June 1945 and AFRO 1147/45 dated 13 July 1945. Born 22 April 1920 in Winnipeg; home in Kildonan, Manitoba. Apprentice mechanic; enlisted in Winnipeg, 18 June 1941. Granted Leave Without Pay until 27 August 1941 when posted to No.2 Manning Depot. To No.4 SFTS (guard duty), 27 October 1941. To No.7 ITS, 21 December 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 13 February 1942 but not posted to No.19 EFTS until 28 February 1942; may have graduated 24 April 1942 but not posted to No.10 SFTS until 10 May 1942; graduated and commissioned 28 August 1942. To No.3 Flying Instructor School, 26 September 1942. To No.4 EFTS, 9 November 1942. To No.19 EFTS, 18 January 1943. Promoted Flying Officer, 18 February 1943. Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 28 August 1944. Dates of postings overseas, repatriation and release uncertain. Rejoined as a pilot on Short Service Commission, 8 May 1951 (38455). To Supplementary Reserve, 7 October 1953. Award presented 11 June 1949. Died 20 February 2001 in Moncton, New Brunswick as per Royal Canadian Legion “Last Post” website and Legion Magazine of November/December 2001.

    Throughout numerous operational sorties Flight Lieutenant Savard has attacked many heavily defended targets. He has always pressed home his attacks, often in the face of intense enemy opposition and has destroyed a large number of enemy transports and locomotives. As a flight commander, by his outstanding ability and fine leadership, this officer has materially contributed to the many successes achieved by his squadron.

    NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9099 has recommendation drafted by S/L H.O. Gooding, Commanding Officer, No.440 Squadron, 10 March 1945 when he had flown 96 sorties (108 operational hours).

    This officer has completed 96 dive-bombing and strafing sorties against heavily defended targets which included bridges, marshalling yards, enemy strong points, barges, locomotives, railway tracks, canal locks and V-1 sites.

    As a flight commander this officer has led the squadron against many targets, obtaining excellent results. He is exceptionally good at finding ground targets and has pressed home his attacks despite intense flak to destroy a large number of enemy transport and locomotives.

    By his outstanding dive-bombing ability and good leadership he contributed much towards helping the squadron make a record number of rail cuts during the month of February 1945.

    Flight Lieutenant Savard, under a calm and quiet manner, has a fine offensive spirit in action, and by his courage, skill and determination has set an example to all members of his squadron. I strongly recommend that this officer be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    This was endorsed by W/C F.G. Grant (10 March 1945), G/C A.D. Nesbitt (11 March 1945) and the Air Officer Commanding, No.83 Group (20 March 1945). Air Marshal A. Coningham approved the award on 13 April 1945.

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