Flight Sergeant Percival Valentine Bashford, the son of John Edward George Bashford and Martha Kitchenham Bashford (nee Kitchenham) was born at Toowoomba in Queensland on 14th February 1920. He was educated at the North Toowoomba Boys’ School and the Toowoomba Grammar School during the period January 1933 until June 1935. He passed the University of Queensland Junior Public Examination in November 1934. He later attended the Central Technical College during the years 1937 until 1940 as part of the theoretical components of his Motor Mechanic apprenticeship. He applied for aircrew training in the Royal Australian Air Force at Brisbane on 11th July 1941. At the time of his application he was single, employed as a Motor Mechanic at the Royal Queensland Aero Club, and residing with his family at Sunbeam Street, Fairfield, Brisbane. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Mrs Martha Bashford, residing at Sunbeam Street, Fairfield, Brisbane. He stated that he was of the Church of Christ religion. He stated that he had completed ten hours of dual flying experience and four hours twenty minutes of solo flying. He was enrolled in the Reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force on 29th August 1941 after swearing an oath/affirmation. He was enlisted into the Citizen Air Force of the R.A.A.F. at No. 3 Recruiting Centre in Brisbane on 6th December 1941.
Flight Sergeant Percival Bashford was the pilot and Captain of a No. 142 Squadron Royal Air Force Wellington bomber MK Z US that was detailed to attack the Daimler Puch aircraft works at Steyr in Austria. The aircraft took off at 6.06 p.m. on 24th February 1944 and no further news was received after take-off. The aircraft was lost whilst returning from the operation. A statement from the Rear-Gunner (Sergeant W.J. Borton) of the Royal Air Force stated that the aircraft developed engine trouble on the port motor before reaching the target and Flight Sergeant Bashford decided to return to base. The bomb load was jettisoned in the sea, and fifteen minutes before signal lights were seen, the aircraft broke cloud at 2,000 feet, and crashed a few seconds later. Flight Sergeant Bashford and Flight Sergeant P.J. Everett, Bomb Aimer, lost their lives and Flight Sergeant C.A. Coldridge, Navigator, and Sergeant W.J. Borton, were admitted to hospital. The Air Ministry notified his remarried mother Mrs Martha Cookley residing at Sunbeam Street, Fairfield, Brisbane, and his two brothers, Flight Lieutenant A. Bashford, at Headquarters Eastern Area Road in Sydney, New South Wales and Mr J.A. Bashford, c/- Civil Aviation Marylands Aerodrome, Perth, that he was missing on air operations. At the time of his death Percival Bashford was 24 years of age. His remains were buried in the Bari War Cemetery in Italy. His name is commemorated on Panel No. 118 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the Toowoomba Soldiers’ Memorial Hall Honour Board and the Toowoomba Grammar School WW2 Honour Board.
His photograph and the following details of his death were published in the Toowoomba Chronicle on 21st March 1944:
Flight Sergeant P.V. (Val) Bashford, youngest son of Mrs L. Cookley, Fairfield, Brisbane and the late Mr J. Bashford, Toowoomba, who lost his life returning from operations over Germany on February 24. He was educated at the North Toowoomba Boys’ School and later at the Toowoomba Grammar School. He was apprenticed to Aero Engineering at Archerfield before he enlisted in 1941.
His brother, Flight Lieutenant Arthur Bashford (270527), a former student at the Toowoomba Grammar School also served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War 2 during the period 6th November 1939 until 15th May 1945.