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Belvederians who died in The Second World War 1939-1945icon for Recommended story

by CSV Media NI

Contributed by 
CSV Media NI
People in story: 
David Devoto Flying Officer, Royal Air Force Died 31 March 1940
Location of story: 
France
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
A3953982
Contributed on: 
26 April 2005

David Devoto Flying Officer, Royal Air Force Died 31 March 1940

This story was gathered and submitted to the WW2 Peoples War by Oliver Murphy

David Devoto and his brother John came to Belvedere College, Dublin in September 1924. John had been to school at Presentation College, Glasthule, David at Presentation College, Bray. They were sons of Albert David and Hilda Beatrice Devoto of 71 Park Avenue in Dublin.

From a very young age, David Devoto was fascinated by the mysteries of the skies and of the aeroplanes which travelled through it. His dream was to become a commander of the skies. He fulfilled this dream.

After leaving Belvedere Devoto worked in the family business as a flour importer. But, being the ambitious person that he was, he joined the Royal Air Force. His talent as a pilot was soon recognised and rewarded with promotion. Soon he was a full ‘Flying Officer’. In November 1939 he was attached to the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF) in France.

During the Second World War the RAF played a key role in the conflict. The RAF began the war with 2000 aircraft. Initially the AASF was sent to France and suffered heavy losses - especially of its old plane, The Fairey Battle - when the Germans attacked the Low Countries and France in 1940.

David Devoto’s line of work required endless training. It was actually during a night-time exercise, not a battle, that he lost his life. On Saturday 31 March 1940, David Devoto, died at the age of 25 in a flying accident during training in France. He is buried at Terlinctun Cemetery near Calais alongside over 4500, from both World Wars.

Here is the letter which his father received from David’s chaplain:

Dear Mr Devoto,

You will doubtless have heard from Official sources of the sad death of your son, David, together with his flying crew, in an accident last Saturday night.

But I feel that you might like a word from me, the Catholic chaplain for the district.

First of all, I am sure you will be glad to hear that he went to Confession and Holy Communion the day before he died. I spent the greater part of last Thursday in his company, and after making his own Confession he spent some time helping me to perform a like ceremony for the other Catholics of his squadron. The following morning he received Holy Communion in the little village church.

Before leaving him I arranged to visit the squadron this afternoon, and afterwards to spend the evening with him.

Tomorrow I am to bury him with full military honours, and from my knowledge of his relations with his brother officers and men, I can guarantee that it will be no empty ceremony.

On Sunday next I shall offer a Requiem Mass for him in the village church, at which his squadron, at their own request, will be present.

I myself am greatly grieved at his loss. I liked him thoroughly as a type of our finest Catholic manhood; and he was an invaluable help to me in my priestly work.

I offer you my deepest sympathy in the loss of so fine a son, but at the same time I think we should not forget to thank God that death found him so well prepared.

Yours sincerely,
John L. Wright

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