Zoephel, Peter Charles, son of Ernest Charles Zoephel of Chislehurst, Kent, and Dorothy Frances Gertrude, d. of Capt. William George Romeril MN, of Blackheath; b. 8 Sept. 1921; adm. Sept. 1935 (R); left Apr. 1939 and went to Milton Academy Boston, Mass.; Harvard Univ.; PO RCAF Ferry Command; lost at sea in the South Atlantic Jan. 1943.
Peter Charles Zoephel was born at Blackheath, Kent on the 8th of September 1921 the eldest son of Ernest Christopher Zoephel. Chairman and owner of the British Domolac Company Ltd, paint works of Woolwich, and Dorothy Frances Gertrude (nee Romeril) Zoephel of “Elmstead Garth”, Chislehurst in Kent, later of Little Common, Bexhill-on-Sea. He was educated at Carn Brea Preparatory School, Bromley from 1931 to 1935 and at Westminster School where he was up Rigaud’s from September 1935 to April 1939. He served as a Cadet in the Officer Training Corps from September 1935 to 1939. He went on to the Milton Academy, Wilton Massachusetts for a short time in 1939 before entering Harvard University later the same year as a member of the Class of 1943, where he read Economics and Languages, but left for Canada in late 1940 to volunteer for military service.
He attended a medical examination on the 4th of January 1941 where it was recorded that he was 5 feet 10 and 3/8ths of an inch tall and that he weighed 152lbs. It was also recorded that he had hazel eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. He attested for service as an Aircraftman 2nd Class in the Royal Canadian Air Force for the duration of the war at the Royal Canadian Air Force Recruiting Station at Montreal on the 7th of February 1941. He was posted to No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario on the 2rd of March 1941 and to No. 1 Initial Training School at Toronto on the 29th of March 1941. He was promoted to Leading Aircraftman on the 20th of August 1941 and joined No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School at Hamilton, Ontario on the 21st of August 1941 where he trained as a pilot. Having ceased training as a pilot at his own request, he was posted to No. 10 Air Observers School at Chatham, New Brunswick on the 27th of October 1941 to receive training as a navigator. On the 15th of March 1942 he was posted to No. 29 Navigators School at Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick. He was promoted to Sergeant on the 14th of March 1942 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on the 13th of April 1942. He was posted to No. 31 General Reconnaissance Squadron at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on the 9th of May 1942 and was attached to the Ferry Command, Royal Air Force at Dorval, Quebec on the 23rd of July 1942. He was promoted to Flying Officer on the 13th of October 1942.
On the 16th of January 1943, Peter Zoephel and his crew boarded Liberator C87 41-11708, of 12 Squadron, 12th Ferry Group United States Transport Command, at Accra in Ghana as passengers, bound for the United States air base at Natal in Brazil and then on their base at Dorval. On board was a crew from the United States Air Transport Command, who had ferried a Boeing B-17 aircraft from Miami to Africa and were returning home. Also on board was a crew from Royal Air Force Ferry Command and four other passengers. The aircraft took off at 11.30pm that night but failed to arrive at its destination and all on board were lost.
The crew was: -
Captain Orval Eknes (Pilot)
Captain Felton Barton Lancaster (2nd Pilot)
Second Lieutenant Joseph F. Peoples (Navigator)
Master Sergeant Alvin A. Young (Radio operator)
Sergeant James N. Clauss (Crew Member)
Master Sergeant Charles W. McKain (Crew Chief)
The passengers were: -
The United States Air Transport Command crew was: -
First Lieutenant John Allen Byler (Navigator)
First Lieutenant Hugh Parker Minor Sr. USAAF (2nd Pilot)
Major Arthur Mills USAAF (Pilot)
Corporal Joseph P. Braniff USAAF
Corporal Grover Kirby Trees Jr. USAAF
The Royal Air Force Ferry Command crew was: -
Flight Lieutenant Herbert James Martin (RCAF) (Pilot)
Sergeant Harold Victor. Lamb RAAF (Wireless Operator)
Flight Sergeant John Henry Warman RCAF (Navigator)
Captain Paul Bleecker Makepeace (American Civilian Pilot)
Radio Officer Clinton Blackwell Berry (Canadian Civilian Wireless Operator)
Flying Officer Peter Charles Zoephel RCAF (Navigator)
Captain William Richard Nixon (Canadian Civilian Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Norman Patrick Drury (Radio Operator)
Flying Officer William Thomas Wright Smithson (Navigator)
Sergeant John Lowery Bell (Navigator)
Flying Officer Geoffrey Addison Clegg (Pilot)
Radio Officer Otway Cecil McCombie (Canadian Civilian Wireless Operator)
The passengers were: -
Lieutenant Colonel Russell Reed Brunner US Army (Pilot)
Colonel Douglas Cornell MacKeachie DSM US Army (Director of Procurement European Theatre of Operations)
Major Arthur Mills US Army
Air Commodore Desmond Herlouin De Burgh AFC
An extensive search was mounted which lasted until the 29th of January. On the 4th of February, the destroyer USS Kearney found a life raft some 60 miles from the coast of Brazil, to the east of Ponte Negro. It contained the body of one of the passengers. The following day another raft was discovered containing the body of Major Arthur Mills and with six life jackets on board. The evidence on board the raft led to the conclusion that there had been others on board who had died and had probably been buried at sea by others, other than the last man to have died.
He is commemorated on the war memorial at Harvard University.
He is commemorated on the Ottawa Memorial Panel 2, Column 3.