John Henry Percival Gauvain

John Henry Percival Gauvain

Rank:Squadron Leader
Regiment:Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number:75334
Cemetary/Memorial: Moascar War Cemetary (2.D.3.)
Awards:1939-1945 Star
1939-1945 War Medal
Twice Mentioned in Dispatches (1943 and 1945)

Born in Waiuku, New Zealand on 29th August 1915, Squadron Leader Gauvain, MRCS, LRCP, was killed in an aircraft accident on 14th August 1944, aged 28 in Egypt.

The Gauvain family moved to England in 1920 when Squadron Leader Gauvain was 4 years old. He was the son of William Percy Gauvain (1880-1942), an engineer, and Gladys May Gauvain (nee Gibbons).

He was the younger brother of Major Gordon Le Ber Gauvain. He married Barbara Lund (nee Roberts) in December 1939 and had three children, Christopher (born 1940), Timothy (June 1942-November 1994) and Penelope (born 1943). They lived in Suffolk.

John was a pupil at St Ronan’s from 1925 to 1929 he was a keen cricketer (team captain 1929) and soccer. In rugby, he was described as: “A good hard-working forward, who can always be relied upon to be in the right place, and to be giving of his best.” He was a great sportsman who excelled in all sports, even coming second in the school shooting competition. He was a Prefect from 1927 to 1929. He returned to visit the school in 1930- 1934. He also attended the annual Old Ronians’ Dinner 1931-1937. His sons went on to attend Saint Ronan’s, starting in 1948.

Upon his departure from Saint Ronan’s, the headmaster wrote: “Lucas was Captain of three games, as well as being Head Prefect, and the great tradition of S. Ronan’s Head Prefects has certainly lost nothing, and has, I think, gained in lustre during his office. The debt that the School owes him, on and off the field, is one of which we are fully conscious; but no leader can really fulfil his job unless he has First Class Lieutenants, and the presence of such personalities as Gauvain, Graham and Asquith rendered the past year, with its many difficulties, a really successful one. In the Easter Term, the School was asked to face troubles which only the finest stuff could have turned to good account. That the School did this is due in enormous part to our four top Prefects, and this we shall none of us readily forget. They have given fully and splendidly to the School, and they leave behind them a fair tradition and great affection. To have spoken thus of our first four men is not to belittle the others who are leaving, for all of them gave of their best well and truly, and we are confident that each in his own sphere will do as well in the future, and give out as much as he has given here. They carry with them the best wishes and the real affection of us all.”

John went on to Stowe (September 1929-July 1933) where he was in Grenville House. He became a Prefect and Head of House. He played in the Colts and joined the Choral Society with his Saint Ronan’s classmate, Lucas. He was in the 1st XV for rugby in 1932. In the school holidays, he played cricket for Mid-Kent v. East Kent and helped to give Mid-Kent the victory.

In 1933, he gained his 2nd XI. Colours and won the Individual Shooting Cup. He was a Sergeant of the Stowe Guard at camp and attained his Certificate “A.” He also commanded the Grenville contingent that won the inter-House Drill Competition for the first time.

His sons and grandson followed in his footsteps to Stowe and his great-grandson is now a pupil.

Following his graduation with a degree in Medicine from Clare College, Cambridge, he was awarded the Shuter Scholarship to study at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.

In 1939, John Gauvain was commissioned into the RAFVR (Medical Branch) and granted a commission as a Flying Officer for the duration of hostilities. He was sent as Flying Medical Personnel Officer at 203 Group Headquarters, based at Heliopolis, in Egypt in 1943 where he was made Squadron Leader.

On Monday, 14th August 1944, Middle East Communication Squadron, RAF (Heliopolis, Egypt - 206 Group, Middle East Command) detailed this communication of Squadron Leader Gauvain’s flight:

“Argus II FS562 - took off at 0825 piloted by Flt Lt B R Terry, DFC, RAF, and flew into the ground 8 miles south of Abu Sueir between 0900-0915. The pilot and his passenger are buried at Moascar, Ismailia. It was thought that control may have been lost while flying in low cloud.”The following is an extract from a book “Barney Barnfather: Life on a Spitfire Squadron” by Angus Mansfield:

“15th August 1944
Logbook: 3 x Hurricane Tests
The discovery of a crashed aircraft confirmed what had been feared for some time from a long over-due Fairchild [Argus] aircraft, which had left Heliopolis carrying Sqn Ldr J H P Gauvain and Flg Off Terry DFC on board. It had crashed 4 miles south of Abu Sueir and both had been killed.

16th August 1944
Logbook: 1. Hurricane- air test. 2. Harvard – Flg Off Jackson Fayid and return.
…. The funerals of Sqn Ldr Gauvain and Flg Off Terry took place today.”

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