Tudhope, William Frank, nickname Bill, born on 05-03-1919 in Johannesburg (South Africa). His father John Henry “Tuddy” Tudhope was a pilot who, as a fighter pilot in the First World War, gained a lot of fame with air fights over German South West Africa and over France. After the 1914-1918 war, the Tudhope family and their still-small Bill left South Africa for Lumby in British Columbia in Canada. July 1925. The six people on the right of the photo form the Tudhope family while visiting Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada. On the far right in the photo, Bill is squatting half hidden behind his brother Vernon. The youngest daughter, Nesta, sits with Papa Tudhope, who is smoking on her lap for ever. Roy sits with mother Jesse Grahame Tudhope. The two people on the left in the photo are acquaintances in Vancouver. Her husband, the father of the child on the left, takes the photo. In 1920 father Tuddy was employed as a flight instructor by the Canadian Air Force. Later, in 1930, father John Henry Tudhope received the prestigious McKee trophy for his major role in plotting the trans-continental route for airmail flights across Canada. The young Bill was raised with flying; it was taught to him by his father. It was therefore not surprising that Bill wanted to become a pilot as a boy.
In 1937 and 1938 Bill went to Ryde School, a boarding school on the British Channel Isle of Wight. In July of 1938 he completed this school and signed on 17 September for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and thus entered the British military service. During his school days on the Isle of Wight, he met Molly Christopher whose parents lived in Wimbledon, near London. Molly and Bill got engaged and made plans to live in Canada after the war.
In September 1939, immediately after the outbreak of World War II, Bill became a war pilot. He mainly flew with the Handley Page Hampden Mk.I fighter-bomber. Tudhope is in front third from the left. His navigator / bomber Spencer Belton is in the middle row 5th from the left. Barker Arthur Griffiths is in the middle row 6th from the left. Shooter Duncan McKay is probably not on this photo because he only came to the 144th Squadron later. In one of his actions he was on his way to Wilhelmshaven near Bremen with his plane and crew. Already above Emden they were heavily shot and hit by anti-aircraft guns. There was a hole in the left wing when they arrived above the target, the harbor installations around Wilhelmshaven. Yet, flying low above the water, they started their mines attack on the port installations and the German warships moored there.The crippled plane then “flew” back to England alone and without navigation equipment. The landing gear had to be turned out by hand. The broken tail rudder and the lack of a landing gear behind made the landing very difficult. Eventually they safely reached their home port at Hemswell RAF station in England.For this and previous missions to the northern German port city of Wilhelmshaven, the 21-year-old pilot officer Bill Tudhope was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.) high award on 25-07-1940. His navigator / bomber Sergeant Lewis Smith “Spencer” Belton received the Distinguished Flying Medal (D.F.M.).
Death andburial ground of Tudhope, William Frank, nickname Bill.
After a few days of leave, Bill Tudhope (D.F.C.) and his crew left again late on Saturday evening 10-08-1940 for a mission to Germany. According to the archives, a total of 17 Hampdens left that night for an attack on the synthetic oil refineries at Homberg along the Rhine opposite Duisburg in the Ruhr area. Three of the Hampdens were from the 144th squadron including that of Tudhope and crew in aircraft P4368. Tudhope and his crew never returned from this mission.
On Friday 23-08-1940 Johannes van Rees from Genemuiden found the dead body of a pilot of the Royal Air Force on the west side of the southern tip of Schokland. It turned out to be the 21-year-old Canadian pilot 2nd lieutenant William Frank Tudhope. Van Rees died in November 2016 at the age of 98 in his hometown of Genemuiden. In 1940 he worked on the maintenance of the sea defenses in the service of Firma Daalder. During his coffee break on the southern tip of the island of Schokland, a strong corpse smell was noticed. After a short treasure hunt, he and his colleague came across a lifeless body that faced the basal beach along the water. The corpse was greatly swollen because of the long time it had been in the water. The body is laid out in the hospital (Engelenberg in Kampen). The identity plate stated: W.F. Tudhope OFFR COPE 41224 R.A.F.
On Tuesday 27-08-1940, Tudhope was buried with German military honor in the presence of Mayor Oldenhof and under the guidance of the Kampen Music Corps at the Kampen cemetery in IJsselmuiden. The ceremony attracted a lot of interest and salute shots were fired by a platoon of soldiers from the German Waffen SS.
Nothing has been recovered from three crew members of pilot Tudhope. These were navigator / bomber Sergeant Spencer Lewis Smith Belton (D.F.M.) (581261) , and the gunmen Sergeant Arthur James Griffiths (581384) and Sergeant Duncan MacKay (55145) . The Tudhope plane was never found. It is probably still under water somewhere in the IJsselmeer or the Markermeer.
Molly Christopher, Bill Tudhope’s fiancé, moved from England to Canada at the end of the war. When Bill’s only younger sister, Nesta, had a daughter, Molly Christopher was asked to become Anne’s stepmother. Molly Christopher was never married. She died in Canada around 1993.