Gemmel, Keith Pratt
Death: July 3, 1943
Force: Air Force
Keith was the son of Squadron Leader Kenneth Shaw Gemmel and Margaret Olive Gemmel, of Markdale, Ontario. Keith joined the Merchant Marines when he was sixteen. Keith was eighteen years old when he died.
All crew members of the Whitely aircraft died when it crashed seven miles from Solwinnie, Scotland. He is buried in Moray, Scotland.
He was awarded Memorial Cross group of five medals, including the 1935-45 Star Medal for War Service.
Additional details provided by Kerri S. Gemmel Aug. 2, 2012:
"At the time he was killed, he was 18. While he was a couple of months from the nineteenth birthday, the reality is that these were boys flying and dying. In his case it was a case of dying for king and country: so determined was he to serve, that at 16 he ran away to join the Merchant Marine in a desire to serve in the only service that had no age requirements. For two years he endured unbelievably bad conditions shipboard serving in the only way open to him. He made sure to be back in Toronto for his 18th birthday to enlist; he qualified for pilot training which would have kept him in Canada a few months longer and alive to see his 19th birthday, but the day before he heard his father in a radio interview stating the great need for aircrew, air gunners, wireless operators, and the like. When his father swore him into the RCAF, and suggested he consider pilot training, Keith refused, citing Gemmel's comments of the day previous. Three months after he arrived in Britain, this boy who wanted so totally to serve his country and his King, was dead."
Veterans Affairs Canada web site in memory of Sergeant Keith Pratt Gemmel
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Photo: Courtesy of “Markdale Crossroads of Grey”