Flight Sergeant - Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves - 54 Squadron - Service No. 1271615
Peter Frederick McCarthy was born on 7th August 1922 in Derbyshire. His father was Harold McCarthy, a Paper Tester, and his mother was Elizabeth Frederica (née Sandham). The first school that he attended was Cecil Road School in Gravesend.
In 1933 Peter McCarthy joined The County School for Boys – now known as Gravesend Grammar School. The Head Master at that time was the Reverend Samuel Lister. The County School for Boys was located in Darnley Road, Gravesend close to the Railway Station (now the Victoria Centre for Education). In 1938 the School moved to brand new premises in Church Walk, Milton, Gravesend opposite to Milton Church.
The School’s Admission Register lists Peter’s address as 37 Cross Lane West, Gravesend. Whilst at the School, Peter was in Downs House. One older brother also attended the School – John (born 1929).
In 1939 Peter left the School and started work at Gravesend Hospital. In the 1939 Census he is listed as a Clerk in their Wages Department. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves as a Flight Sergeant, Service Number 1271615, joining 54 Squadron in April 1942.
In mid-1942, the squadron left for Australia. In January, the following year, it joined No 1 Wing (Spitfire Wing) of the Royal Australian Air Force, which was a Spitfire unit responsible for air defence duties against Japanese aircraft in the Darwin area. To begin with, the unit suffered from the inexperience of its pilots, there were also mechanical problems caused during the shipment of the Spitfires. Contact with the Japanese may have been brief, but the pilots of 54 Squadron managed to score a number of hits on Japanese aircraft.
Peter McCarthy died on the 5th February 1943, age 21, when his aircraft was in a collision on landing on the runway at Darwin. He was originally buried at Berrimah War Cemetery, but was transferred to Adelaide River War Cemetery, Northern Territory, Australia in September 1945.
There are links below to Newspaper Clippings and Photographs from the Gravesend Grammar School Archives.
Below are links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and a few other websites that might be of interest: