William Sokol
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Service Personnel Information

  • Name: William Sokol
  • Service Regimental Number: R-106059
  • Rank: Sargent
  • Height/weight: 5 foot 4, 155 pounds
  • Colour of eyes: Brown
  • Marital status: Single
  • Religion: Greek Orthodox
  • Address: 493 Flora Ave.
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Mytho Sokol (father)
  • Date of enlistment: August 13th 1940
  • City and province of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Military Service Record

  • Force: Air
  • Unit: 7th Army Troop Coy R.C.E
  • Service Number: R - 106059
  • Honours and Awards: None
  • Photograph:
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Mytho Sokol
  • Date of Death 11-11-42
  • Country of Burial: England
  • Cemetery: Dishforth Cemetery
  • Grave Reference: Grave 32
  • Location: Yorks, England
  • Book of Remembrance: Fs RCAF
  • Age at Death: 22
  • Name of Cemetery: Dishforth
  • Grave Reference: 32

Biography



THE BASICS

William Sokol was an average 20 year old young man who enjoyed all the typical behaviours of the late 1930s and early 1940’s. He was born in 1922, in the capital of Manitoba known as Winnipeg, located in Canada. William was a normal 20 year old in 1940; he played all the sports he could, including hockey, baseball and basketball he was brown eyed and single. He was a well-mannered old fashioned Greek boy who attended Saint Paul’s College in Winnipeg, Manitoba who lived on 493 Flora Avenue in the north end. Even though Saint Paul’s was a catholic school him and his family were members of the Greek Orthodox faith, his next of kin was his father named, Mytho. Although William was a tiny man, only five foot four inches and weighing in at just over one hundred and fifty pounds, he was an ambitious man and decided to apply to be in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), although not physically large, he made up for it with an outstanding work ethic and he was not afraid to get his hands dirty, this was shown in his career before the air force when he was a woodworker. Although he had no real valid reason to join the air force, he did it anyways.


HIS TIME IN THE FORCE

William Sokol was enlisted with the RCAF which was founded in 1920 at its peak it had 215,200 men enlisted and William was part of one of the 35 squadrons over seas.; it was formed as an improved follow up to two previously failed air force squadrons which were implemented early in World War One. However in the early 1930’s the RCAF suffered from budget cuts, but surprisingly they bounced right back and became the third biggest air force in WWII. On the thirteenth of August in 1940, he was enlisted in his home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the country of Canada and sent to Yorkshire England. When he was enlisted he was given his regiment number which was R-106059. When William was enlisted he moved his way up the ranks starting as a private and eventually becoming a sergeant. This meant that in his short two years of being in the Royal Canadian he went from being the lowest rank to the fourth highest. As a Sargent he would have been in charge of a squad or a platoon, meaning he would have been in charge of a group of men and told them what to do and how to do it the unit he belonged to was known as 7th Army Troop Coy R.C.E. During his time in the RCAF he most likely changed duties a lot, from anything from cleaning the aircraft to inspecting them, however he most known as being a Wireless operator/ air gunner (WAG). As an air gunner he would have most likely been in charge of manning a turret at the front or rear of a plane and trying to take down enemy infantry on the ground or enemy aircraft in the sky. And as a wireless operator it would have been his job to operate the radio on the aircraft and keep in touch/send data to the ground or headquarters. These jobs were very high risk because often times they involved flying right through enemy territories while bullets and anti-aircraft rounds were being launched near them. Although William was never a pilot he still had a huge role to play in the successful flights of the RCAF. William and many of his comrades were subject to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Canadaatwar.ca explains the plan as “The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Agreement, between Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand was laid out on October 10, 1939 and on December 17, 1939 the agreement was signed, converting Canada into what President Roosevelt of the United States later termed the "airdrome of democracy." The signing of the BCATP Agreement was a momentous event. Strategically it was important for three main reasons: it furnished air training fields that were reasonably close to the United Kingdom yet well beyond the reach of enemy aircraft, it provided a uniform system of training and laid the basis for the pooling of Commonwealth air power” this plan significantly helped the force and made it better for William and his comrades. There was over 90 planes used in WWII everything from cargo planes to fighter planes. Although it does not specify what planes William primary boarded, it is safe to say it was almost always a fighter plane because he specialized in plane turret operation. William served two full years in the Air Force and contributed in many ways.


IN THE END

William Sokol had a successful but short career with the RCAF; he went out in an unfortunate and less than favorable way on the eleventh of November in 1942. The military reports were quite vague, but with further research I found out that on this date him and two other members of the RCAF known as Joseph Armand Larche (pilot) and Mervin funk (bomb aimer/navigator). According to my source it states that during the hours of 20.5 -21.5 these three men were carrying out a routine standard landing exercise in Yorkshire England. After many failed attempts by the pilot to land on the air strip, on one of his circles back around to try again a thick blanket of fog rolled in and significantly limited the vision of the pilot. When William tried messaging the ground crew at the air strip he received no signal he then went back to manning the turret and was unable to try any further attempts to try and communicate with the ground. The three men were stranded flying in the sky with no communication, no vision, and a limited amount of fuel. This was severely problematic and eventually the plane rapidly descended and missed the air strip crashing into the woodlands next to it. All three men were killed when the plane tore apart and exploded. The RCAF tried to say that this accident was a result of an operational mine laying objective, when in fact this is not true. This was strictly a training exercise. This is confirmed because In recent years air historians Dick Barton, Albert Pritchard and Ken Reast have confirmed the crash location and found small remains of the aircraft in woodland near Copt Hewick Hall.


REMEMBERING THE FALLEN

It was not clear whether or not Williams body was found or not but, William will always be remembered in the hearts and minds of those close to him but for others, we can remember him every time we look in the book of remembrance or visit Dish forth Cemetery in Yorkshire England. After the accident William and the three of his fellow soldiers were buried in Dishforth cemetery located in Yorkshire England, his grave is number 32. This cemetery is very small only containing about 30-40 grave stones, all from WWII fatalities. The cemetery is a little grass lot with one main monument and a little walk way across the middle. William will always be remembered there, even though he is a long way from home. He will also forever be remembered in the book of remembrance, his name is there located under Fs RCAF. William did not receive any awards during his time in the force, but through my eyes and many others he will always be a hero, and his service is much appreciated. As his head stone says "Sleep. Dear, son on land far away from your loved ones, let the path be light".




external image wsokol.jpg

(Williams Grave in Dishforth Cemetery)
courtesy of :
Aircraft Accidents in Yorkshire. Digital image. Aircraft Accidents in Yorkshire. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york42/bj846.html>.


http://www.oorlogsmusea.nl/upload/5508120307212016.jpg
http://www.oorlogsmusea.nl/upload/5508120307212016.jpg

Dishforth Cemetery, Yorkshire, England
Courtesy of:
Dishforth Cemetery, Yorkshire, England. Digital image. Www.oorlogsmusea.nl. Web. 12 May 2012. <http://www.oorlogsmusea.nl/upload/5508120307212016.jpg>.



Video

This is potentially what kind of plane William would have been aboard, operating the radio or using the turrets, this video is to give viewers an idea of what the RCAF would have done/been like in WWII.

Bibliography



"Veterans Affairs Canada." Listing Of Books -. 10 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/books/listing>.

I found that the veteran’s website was really good because I found the picture of the page in the book of remembrance that my soldier was listed on. It helped confirm his death and recognition in the Air Force.



"CWGC - Homepage." CWGC. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <ht
tp://www.cwgc.org/>.

Common wealth grave commission is another great source because it gave me specific details as to when and where my soldier was buried; it also gives a little bit of info about him.



"Common Menu Bar Links." The Second World War. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/v2/hst/page-eng.asp?id=890>.

The RCAF’s website is very helpful because it gives some background information about the Air Force in specific time periods, it also tells about types of planes used, which gave me a better idea of what my soldier would be using in war.

Veterans affair is also helpful because it has many points and information about the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, my soldier was subject to this plan and this site gives me a better idea of what it was and why it was used.


"Veterans Affairs Canada." The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan -. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/history/secondwar/bcatp>.

This is another site that talks about what The British Commonwealth Training plan is and what it did, I think this site is important because of my soldiers involvement in the Air Force, and that this site gives some good information..



"World War 2 Planes - The Advent of Modern Aviation." World War 2 Planes. Web. 01 May 2012. <http://www.world-war-2-planes.com/>.

This website Is good because I feel it is important to know what kinds of planes my soldier was fighting and gunning from, as well as to what types of planes the enemies were flying to get a better sense of the disadvantages and advantages he had during is Air Force career.


"Air Gunners." Bomber Command Museum of Canada. Web. 01 May 2012. <http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/airgunners1.html>.

This Is probably the best website I found, it is totally dedicated to educating people on WWII air gunners, I managed to find a picture of a WAG badge that my soldier would have had, I thought that was really cool. And this website is very helpful and educational.

"WWII: RCAF - Canada at War." WWII: RCAF - Canada at War. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://www.canadaatwar.ca/content-41/wwii-rcaf/>.
this website was absolutely phenomenal, it gave me stats and plenty of great information on the training programs and my soldier. i loved it, it was a big help.

"Aircraft Accidents in Yorkshire." Aircraft Accidents in Yorkshire. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york42/bj846.html>.
this was my personal favorite, this website was an A= in my books, it gave me so much insight on the events of Williams death that the military records didnt even have! plus it gave me a picture of his grave which is pretty cool

"Royal Canadian Air Force." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 May 2012. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Canadian_Air_Force>.
this wiki was helpful because it gave me TONS of background information and statistics on the RCAF, it educated me in how they started, what they did, and many other important factors that were vital to my information i present to you.

Military Files:

Archival Reference......note: William Sokol was not in the database for the Library and Archives of Canada website.


Military service files of Private Clarence Garfield Mainse (RG 150, Acc. 1992-93/166, Box 5855-37) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

all facts, quotes, and pictures are courtesy of the links mentioned in the bibliography, or have been referred to/cited next to quote, fact, or picture.








Wiki Created by: Cory Stefanyshyn