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66 Squadron, RFC & RAF, 1916 to 1919

Tepoorten, Darrell Joseph

Introduction

Darrell J Tepoorten arrived at the front in June 1918, and was soon in action. He was credited with a Fokker D111, Brandenberg C Type and an E.K.B. Darrell was unfortunately ill for all of September and in to October 1918 or he might have achieved Ace status, Darrell rejoined the fray in the middle of that month. Darrell's brother, Leonard Francis, joined the CEF in April 1918.

Early Life

Darrell J TepoortenDarrell Joseph Tepoorten was born on 15 March 1895 in Victoria British Columbia; his parents were Julius Andrew Tepoorten and Mary Agnes Dolan who both came from Michigan in the U.S.A. Darrell father was a wholesale druggist first in Victoria and later in Vancouver B. C. Canada. Darrell attended Vancouver High School, matriculating in 1912. Darrell joined his father in the family Drug Wholesale business in 1910 as an apprentice. He continued his education at night school studying Pharmacy in 1914 and a Business Diploma course during 1913-14. Soon after the outbreak of WW 1 Darrell joined the Canadian 6 DCOP (6th Field Company, Corps of Engineers) serving through to 1915. It was during this service that he elected to transfer to the Royal Flying Corps, I suspect that he followed many others from Canada by attending 4 School of Instruction in Toronto, followed by a posting to 83 (Canadian) Training Squadron for flying training at Camp Mowhawk near Desoronto who used the standard trainer of the time the JN4. Darrell also served some time with 84 C.T.S at Benbrook, Texas as a flying instructor, amongst his pupils was fellow Canadian William J Courtenay, who also served with 66 Sqn. Departed for England on 4 February 1918 as part of the 12th draft. On arrival in England he was posted to 70 Training Squadron based at Netheravon, Wiltshire. He then followed the usual gunnery course at 1 SoAF&G Ayr, Scotland before posting to 14 Wing in Italy, where he arrived on 13 June 1918.

The Italian Front

He was then posted to 66 Squadron on the 22nd and then to B flight. He was to frequently fly with the likes of Christopher McEvoy, Herbert N E Row, Francis S Symondson, Hillard B Bell James S Lennox to name a few. It was only a matter of days before his first encounter with the enemy, when on 1 July patrol leader Hillard Bell in Camel D9388, Herbert Row in D1913 and Joseph in B6354 observed four Pfalz at 08.20 at 16.000 ft over Luserna, he flight of Pfalz maintained the advantage of height, at some stage another lone Camel joined the 66 squadron patrol. Bell led his patrol in an attempt to out climb the enemy but was unsuccessful. The jostled for advantage, at about 09.00 the patrol tried to attack the Austrians but failed again to engage. The Austrians turned for Levico, and when near Vezzena one E.A turned and attacked Captain Bell, Joseph fired his guns for the first time in anger at the E.A., Bell then got on the tail of his attacker, who dived vertically with bell close behind firing all the way down, the E.A. disappeared into a narrow crevice in the mountain, from which it was thought impossible to get out. The E.A. was not seen to crash owing to a layer of mist over the crevice, Bell pulled out 500 ft over the mountains and the E.A was not seen to come out of the mountain.

First Victory

And he claimed his first victory on 21 July when he crashed a Fokker D111 near to Motta aerodrome. McEvoy also claimed a Fokker D111 on the same patrol. But there was sadness after the patrol of 15 August, when Lt E P O'Connor-Glynn failed to return and was posted missing, later the squadron was informed that he had been killed. He continued to fly at least once a day until he was struck down with illness in early September, this turned out to be Jaundice, Darrell returned to duty on the 13 October and returned to the air for a test flight two days later. His final two credited victories were on 25 October when he was credited with Brandenburg DDOC West of Feltre and three days later on the 28 he came across an E.K.B. near Levada, which he left in flames on the ground. He was sent to Home Establishment on 5 December 1918, for him the war was over. He had a few weeks off and returned to flying duties with 26 Training Depot Station at Edzell, he was transferred to the unemployed list on 28 February 1919 and repatriated via Shorncliffe repatriation camp to Canada.

Peace

After the war he returned to the family business, as General Manager. In 1929 he became manager of Crescent Motors in Vancouver and about 1934 Managing Director of Western Distributors Co. another drugs distributor. He married Anne Camille Pillat in Vancouver on 18 July 1925 (later divorced?). They had two children Joseph Darrell Mark (b 25 April 1926) and L'Vai (b 11 November 1928). Darrell joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on 25 May 1942 as an A/C 2 for the duration. He served as a Link Trainer Instructor until his discharge on 11 June 1945 at RCAF base Rockciffe Ontario with the rank of acting Flt.Sgt. On his discharge he was actively engaged in trying to find employment with the Canadian Civil Service as he had no desire to return to the business world. Darrell died in the Shaughnessy Veterans Hospital Vancouver after suffering a heart attack on 17 October 1961 he is buried in the family grave in Vancouver.

My thanks to Darrell Joseph Tepoorten's great niece Dale Jeffrey who contributed to this page. The photograph at the head of the page is the © copyright of D. Jeffrey on behalf of the Tepoorten family.

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