John Yeomans
Return to Speers Funeral Chapel

Obituary of John Yeomans

Wing Commander John Alan Yeomans, RAF (Ret’d)

25 March 1923 – 1 September 2013

John Yeomans of Regina was born in Manchester, England. He dedicated his life to duty, to family, and service to his countries, England and Canada.

He leaves to mourn his beloved wife of 58 years, Elaine; sons, David Mark and Julian Scott (Sara) and their daughter Zoe; sister Marion Castings; sister-in-law Harriet “Susie” Ross and her children Shelleen, Laurie (Brad) and Kevin (Laurie); sister-in-law Carol Southam and her children Brian, Barry and Sandra; and nieces Linda Dew and Debra (Gabe) Komjathy.

Surviving him are the children from his previous marriage, Athalie and Geoffrey, who were taken by their mother to Australia. John lost all contact with them until 2012, when they re-entered his life, together with five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

In 1942 he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) and trained in South Africa as an observer (navigator). John returned to England and joined #156 Squadron, the Bomber Command Pathfinder Force. On 25 February 1944 his Lancaster aircraft was shot down during a raid on Augsberg. John was the sole crew member to survive. Wounded and taken prisoner, he was a prisoner of war (POW) in East Prussia, Poland and Fallingbostel until he escaped during a “death march” in April 1945.

After the war John was commissioned in the RAF and served in numerous capacities throughout the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Aden, Cyprus including detachments in the Middle and Far East, North and East Africa, defence operations in Kuwait in 1961, and flood and famine operations in Kenya and Somalia.

John was a graduate of RAF Staff College (1957) and the College of Air Warfare (1960).

Upon retiring from the RAF after 35 years of service, the family immigrated to Canada in 1976 and settled in Regina. John’s extensive military experience was put to good use when he became the Director of Central Vehicle Agency of the Government of Saskatchewan. In this capacity, he was responsible for all of the Government’s vehicles including the Northern Air Service, the Air Ambulance Service, and the Executive Air Service. Subsequent assignments to several other government departments were forthcoming.

From 1989 to 1996, John served as a management consultant on several projects including services to the Liquor and Gaming Authority as a negotiator with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations on Casino Development.

John`s continued support to the military was given by serving in executive positions of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), RUSI Trust Fund, #600 Wing Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Association, the Saskatchewan War Memorial Group, and Friends of the HMCS Regina. Until 2011, John led the Veterans Contingent for the Remembrance Day Ceremonies held at the Brandt Centre.

He was honoured by receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Prairie Group Trophy given to the person who has demonstrated exemplary service to the RCAF Association by #600 Wing.

John was a member of the Pathfinder Association and the RAF Ex-POW Association.

Closer to home, he served on the College Gardens Condominium Corporation Board of Directors for many years as a member and as president.

No matter where John worked, his family always came first. Due to the frequent moves requisite in military life, he ensured his sons received the best education at Rossall School and Bedford School in England. John was extremely proud that both earned doctorate degrees: Mark in nuclear physics at the University of Regina and Scott in management science and information systems at McMaster University.

John`s hobbies were walking, travelling and photography. He loved his daily walks with Elaine in beautiful Wascana Park. They cruised extensively, often accompanied by Mark. Their last voyage in mid-March took them to Sydney, Australia where they united with the families of Athalie and Geoffrey. From Sydney, the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) sailed to Cape Town, South Africa.

Sailing in the Great Australian Bight, John celebrated a very happy 90th birthday with surprise birthday greetings from the Governor General of Canada, the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, the Prime Minister of Canada, and numerous other dignitaries, together with numerous cards and messages from family and friends.

The QM2 made her maiden port of call at Port Elizabeth where John had completed his RAF war training seventy years earlier.

Upon returning to Regina, John started to dramatically lose weight which marked the beginning of the end. Because of this, he could not fully enjoy Athalie’s June visit, although he was glad that she was able to visit Regina as Geoffrey had done the previous year. By 8 July the diagnosis confirmed that he had not long to live. With the caring and compassionate support of the Regina Palliative Care team, he was able to enjoy the comforts of his own home until the very end.

In June, John received his Bomber Command Clasp from England for his service in the Pathfinders. Now he will finally be able to reunite with the six other members of his Lancaster crew who lost their lives over Augsberg, Germany on 25 February 1944.

Per Ardua ad Astra

The family wishes to thank Dr. J. Stewart McMillan, Dr. James D. McHattie, Dr. James W. Carter, and Dr. M.A. Kahn as well as the entire Palliative Care team for their compassionate care and concern for John’s comfort.

A Celebration of his Life will be held at the Royal United Services Institute on Friday, September 6, 2013 from 2:00 – 4:30 pm with a short program at 2:30 pm.

In lieu of flowers, friends so wishing may make donations to Regina Palliative Care Inc., 4F – 4101 Dewdney Avenue, Regina, SK, S4T 1A5; the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic, 4101 Dewdney Avenue, Regina, SK, S4T 7T1; or a charity of their choice. To leave an on-line message of condolence, please visit www.speersfuneralchapel.com