October 4, 1918 - September 5, 1943
James Lloyd Darby, born in Bella Bella, BC, was the son of Dr. George Elias and Enda Howard Matthews Darby of Vancouver, BC. He had two brothers, George and Gordon, and one sister, Mrs. H. T. Ramsden. Dr. Darby, a medical missionary, was listed as living in Bella Bella, BC with the rest of family residing in Vancouver. The family attended the United Church.
Darby was a university student prior to enlistment at UBC from 1937-1940, studying chemistry, physics, advanced maths, English and French. He worked at F. W. Stone Canadian Fishing Co. as Captain, engineer and cook, at their Goose Bay Cannery Rivers Inlet location during the summers of 1935 through 1940. He was also working at C. E. Webb, Department of Mines and Resources, Vancouver, BC as a civil engineering assistant in 1941. He enjoyed swimming, skiing, badminton, rugby, basketball and track. He mentioned that he had taken courses in both Morse and Sinaphone, built small sailing craft and model airplanes and ships. He indicated he would like to get into plywood manufacturing after the war. He stood 6' 1/2" and weighed 158 pounds. He had blue eyes and brown hair.
In July 1941: "Wants pilot, youthful, stable, aggressive. Very sure of himself. Satisfactory."
He was at ITS (Regina): June - August 1941. EFTS (Virden, Manitoba): August 1941 - October 1941, with 66 hours on the Tiger Moth. SFTS (Brandon): October 1941 - December 1941.
Darby was sent to Trenton to become an instructor in early 1942. "Pupil should become a good instructor with experience. He has shown marked keenness throughout the course. Knowledge of patter fair. Flying ability high average, but could become smoother. Requires practice in precautionary landings."
At No. 10 SFTS, Dauphin, Manitoba, he was an instructor from April 1942 until January 15, 1943. June 1942: "His services and conduct have been satisfactory." August 1942: "The weaknesses of this officer have been discussed at length with him and it is felt that certain improvements may be seen in the future." Censured July 14, 1942 for disobedience flying less than 1000 feet contradiction to Station Standing Orders." This censure was brought up more than once through to November 1942, keeping his promotion delayed.
He was sent overseas in March 1943. He was at 56 OTU by May 1943. He was posted to 198 Squadron on August 14, 1943.
Darby only had 35 minutes of flying a Typhoon in the short time he was with 198 Squadron before he was killed on September 5, 1943. He was flying a Tiger Moth at the time. S/L Bryan wrote to Mr. Darby on September 12, 1943: "He was a promising pilot who should have done extremely well." Darby had been a passenger in Tiger Moth DE765, piloted by F/O Jonas, both from 198 Squadron. They were flying from Manston to Martlesham. At 1558, the aircraft took off from Martlesham, on the return trip, piloted by P/O Darby, with no passengers. The Tiger Moth was plotted flying over the Thames Estuary from Clacton, at at about 1635 hours, was seen to be approaching Margate at a height of 800-1000 feet. Just beyond the pier, the engine appeared to cut out and the aircraft dived into the sea. Darby baled out at the last moment, but his parachute failed to open and he was killed. [One witness stated the parachute looked like it was about to open.] It was determined that Darby attempted to stretch out the glide to reach land and stalled the aircraft which dived from a low height without sufficient room to recover. There was a possiblity that some luggage had been put into the unoccupied cockpit, shifting, jamming controls, but evidence did not bear this out. The plane was in 30 feet of water. The G/C C. H. A. Stevens remarked: "The pilot was not authorized to take the Ditch route over the seas, in fact he was expected to remain over the land except to cross the Thames Estuary at or near Gravesend. He contravened AMO 695/43 by flying over the sea without wearing flotation equipment." For more detail, please click on the link for the digitized files.